Military News

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, July 21, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta hosts an honor cordon to welcome New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to the Pentagon today at 12:15 p.m. EDT.  The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the Pentagon River Parking Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event, have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn has no public or media events on his schedule.

The Senate Armed Services Committee meets to consider the nominations of Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., for reappointment to the grade of admiral and to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, for reappointment to the grade of general and to be Chief of Staff, U.S. Army and Air Force General William M. Fraser III, for reappointment to the grade of general and to be Commander, U.S. Transportation Command at 9:30 a.m. EDT in room SH-216, Hart Senate Office Building.

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley will be the keynote speaker at the 2011 Military Times Service Members of the Year ceremony at 5 p.m. EDT. Senior military representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will also make remarks in room 345, Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Paulette Ruffin at 703-750-8109.

This Day in Naval History - July 20

From the Navy News Service

1846 - First visit of U.S. warships (USS Columbus and USS Vincennes) to Japan is unsuccessful in negotiating a treaty.
1960 - In first launch of Polaris missile, USS George Washington (SSBN 598) successfully fires 2 operational Polaris missiles while submerged off Florida.
1964 - Four Navy divers enter Project SEALAB I capsule moored 192 feet on the ocean floor off Bermuda for 11 day experiment.
1969 - Former Navy pilot Neil Armstrong is first man to set foot on the moon, announcing, "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong was Commander of Apollo 11 which during its 8 day mission landed on the Sea of Tranquility. Recovery was by HS-4 helicopters from USS Hornet (CVS 12).

USS New Orleans Prepares for Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Byron C. Linder, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) departed Naval Base Point Loma July 20 following a six-day deperming evolution in preparation for the ship's scheduled deployment.

Deperming a ship reduces the ship's magnetic signature. Naval Base Point Loma is the only station on the West Coast with magnetic silencing support capability. Lt. j.g. Ryan Haught, New Orleans assistant combat systems officer and Pittsburgh native, served as New Orleans' deperming coordinator.

"We wrapped cables around the ship, sent a lot of power through them, and unwrapped the cables to reduce our signature. From here, we will go on 14 range runs on the degaussing range to see how they did," Haught explained.

The deperming process is a key element in preparation for New Orleans' future taskings.

"We need to reduce the magnetic signature to be ready for deployment and decrease the undersea warfare threat so we can be good to go when we go into hostile waters," said Haught. "After the degaussing runs, we have a couple of short underways before deploying."

Haught praised the crew's effort during the complex process, and said the endeavor would not have been possible without all hands contributing.

"The crew worked extremely hard. This was an all hands effort, and it went smoothly because they came together to get this done," Haught emphasized. "One way or another, everyone contributed. We spent about four days wrapping the ship up in the cables and two days unwrapping them, starting at 7:15 in the morning and ending at around 3:30 in the afternoon every day."

New Orleans is the first San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship to undergo the deperming process at Point Loma. Haught said the planning and execution phases were influenced by the past.

"We looked at what other LPDs had done on the East Coast, and we took a lot of lessons learned from other ships [that] have already gone through it," said Haught. "We looked at the processes they did, and we tried to make ours better."

Summer Season Requires Extra Safety Vigilance

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2011 – Safety is an individual responsibility of all Defense Department personnel, especially during summer, when accidents historically increase, a senior Pentagon safety official said here today.

Joseph J. Angello, director of operational readiness and safety for the Defense Department since 1995, said the period from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend has come to be known as “the Critical Days of Summer.”

“Think of it as your summer months -- when you were kids, you had your summer vacations,” he said. “It’s the summer months when you’re out, active and you’re enjoying yourself.”

No factor has affected people across all branches of service, as well as federal employees, more than alcohol, Angello said.

“Alcohol impairs your judgment. When you’re under the influence of alcohol, … you often make the wrong decisions,” he said. “You take risks that you normally wouldn’t take. That’s why you can’t drink and drive, drink and boat, [or] drink and ATV. Alcohol has effects on your judgment. Alcohol is the risk factor we [worry] the most about.”

Angello cited reduced reaction time and impaired judgment and abilities as negative side effects of alcohol. He also said it leads to other negative activities.

“As always, with alcohol, what tends to come next?” he asked. “You go a little too fast. You’re taking risks you wouldn’t normally take.”

He also pointed out what he said is a simple, yet effective, method for vehicle safety -- wearing seat belts.

“‘Buckle Up For Safety’ was a 1960s campaign,” Angello said. “In today’s age, you must wear your seat belt. The life you save may be your own.”

Angello said that tragically, a majority of the accidents people have were within their own control.

“We would judge about 80 percent are preventable,” he said. “That’s a good portion that you, as the individual, can prevent through your actions and your care.”

Safety off the job is an issue throughout the department and among both military and civilian personnel, Angello said.

“You can operate military equipment very safely on duty. We designed them that way,” he said. “But then, all of a sudden, the rules seem to go out of the window when [people] are on their personal time. And they have to realize they’re just as much at risk. We lose a number of people, about 70, in the summer months. We shouldn’t be losing any.”

Motorcycles have been a serious safety issue, Angello said, but the trend is improving.

“We’ve instituted motorcycle training programs -- ride with buddies, clubs [and] mentoring,” he said. “But I think the majority of it is we focused attention on it. Motorcycles are inherently dangerous, but they’re fun. Ride them safely.”

Avoiding fatigue, refraining from texting or using cell phones and generally exercising self-discipline are among key components for safe driving, Angello said.

He encouraged supervisors to impress the importance of off-duty safety on the people who work for them.

“The DOD is a challenging [workplace], and we thank everyone for their service,” he said. “It is hard, so make sure you have fun. But have fun safely, … and plan ahead.”

The safety director also encouraged people to do the right thing and apply common sense to their situations.

“We’ve got some phenomenal people who serve our country -- our federal civilians, and [people] in uniform. It’s incumbent on us to preserve them,” he said.

“Keep in mind that safety is your business,” he added. “Safety is everyone’s mission.”

Fleet Weather Center Commemorates Transfer of Function

By Chief Aerographer’s Mate Dwight Koehn, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Fleet Weather Center, San Diego (FWC-SD), commemorated the transfer of function of maritime weather services from Pearl Harbor to San Diego with a ribbon cutting ceremony, July 15.

The official transfer occurred June 15, with the final move of the ship routing officers from Naval Maritime Forecast Center Pearl Harbor (NMFC-PH) to San Diego, and the assumption of the Optimum Track Ship Routing mission.

"Third Fleet's geographic area spans from the California coast to the international dateline, from the North Pole to the South Pole," said Vice Adm. Gerry Beaman, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. "I depend on people like you working in facilities like this, to continually collect data, aggregate that information and help me achieve decision superiority."

Capt. Todd Monroe, FWC-SD commanding officer, said the transfer of function marks the official initial operating capability of the new state-of-the-art weather center whose responsibility spans half the globe.

"This capability now encompasses all maritime and aviation weather services, resource protection and afloat tactical weather support for the 3rd Fleet, 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility," said Monroe. "It is a significant undertaking with many moving parts, but I am confident we've built an all-star team and superior support model to answer the call."

Throughout the transition, both commands received praise from the Fleet for the professionalism displayed in the seamless transition of responsibilities.

"While the concept was straightforward, the devil is always in the details," said Capt. Van Gurley, commanding officer, Naval Oceanography Operations Command (NOOC). "I know it took a tremendous amount of effort and perseverance at all levels, from the deckplates to the staff, to make this happen. From my vantage point, FWC-SD and NMFC-PH superbly planned and executed this 'passing of the baton' for an absolutely critical mission and made it seamless to the fleet."

Beaman commended the personnel of FWC-SD and NMFC-PH for their diligence and stressed the importance of their role in the fleet.

"I know there is still work ahead to ensure the new command's foundation is built on solid ground for success," said Beaman. "Your work here is vitally important to the mission and success of 3rd Fleet and our forces in the Pacific. Keep up the charge and great work."

The FWC-SD, based aboard Naval Air Station North Island, provides full-spectrum weather services to shore-based naval aviation, afloat naval units, naval installations, contingency exercises and operations to facilitate risk management, resource protection, and mission success of fleet, regional and individual unit commanders.

Walter Reed, Bethesda on Track for Realignment

By Elizabeth M. Collins
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2011 – The transfer of Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s functions to Bethesda, Md., and the construction of a new hospital on Fort Belvoir, Va., are expected to be completed on schedule, top military health care leaders said yesterday.

Navy Vice Adm. John M. Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, told Pentagon reporters that the mission to consolidate and integrate military health care functions in the National Capital Region is well under way, with 9,400 medical personnel and patients expected to finish moving by the end of August.

Under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, the Defense Department was required to combine four inpatient hospitals in the national capital region -- Walter Reed, the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., and Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Joint Base Andrews, Md. -- into two, while maintaining the same patient care capacity.

“This is the largest medical restructuring ever undertaken in the military health system,” Mateczun said, adding that military medical officials are concentrating on three areas of priority throughout the process.

“One is quality of care -- all of the patient care that we’re providing,” Mateczun said. Focus also is being placed on the wounded, ill and injured service members presently under medical care, he added.

The third area of priority, he said, is “the capacity to take care of the wounded, ill and injured who are returning now from Iraq and Afghanistan as we do these moves.”

The new facility at Bethesda will include 345 medical-surgical beds, 50 intensive care unit beds and 20 operating rooms, while the expanded DeWitt hospital will hold 120, 10 and 10, respectively, Mateczun said.

The two facilities should have more than enough capacity to care for all combat casualties, as well as family members and veterans, Mateczun said, especially because military medical facilities nationwide and civilian TRICARE medical plan partners can take additional cases if the need should arise.

Of the 445 wounded, ill and injured soldiers currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed, about a third will transition to DeWitt, while the other two-thirds will move to the Bethesda facility, said Lt. Col. Larry Gunther, the brigade’s executive officer.

Both Bethesda and Belvoir have added and renovated barracks and lodging facilities for these service members and their families.

Patients moving to DeWitt are more ambulatory and need less specialized and intensive care, Mateczun explained. They also may have post-traumatic stress, mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injuries or substance-abuse problems, as the Fort Belvoir hospital is adding additional inpatient behavioral health and substance-abuse programs.

Service members evacuated from the combat theater and patients who need very specialized care for catastrophic injuries, such as complex orthopedic trauma and open traumatic brain injuries, will go to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, along with the specialized doctors and other medical professionals who care for them. Complex surgeries such as organ transplants also will be performed at the Bethesda facility.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which has served the nation for 102 years, will close its doors Sept. 15, and a ceremony to case the colors of all Walter Reed activities will take place July 27.

Navy Staffs Support Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 Around the Clock

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Cole, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Yokosuka, Japan

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- TS11 is a joint-sponsored exercise by U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defence Force (ADF). Forces from both nations will conduct various types of training at sea, ashore and in the air off the Australian coast.

The complexity and scale of the exercise demand around-the-clock coordination and real-time responses for every scenario.

"The watches we stand are important since we are the supervisory authority for the ships that are participating in the exercise," said Lt. Cmdr. Johanna G. Schumacher, CPR 11 material and maintenance manager. "We're trying to make the crews' lives easier by establishing a schedule, completing the planning and coordinating across various task forces and commands. We set up these watches to keep our commanders informed as things change throughout the training, while providing the supervisory oversight to the ships that are conducting the exercise so they can concentrate on the mission."

The beginning of the 24-hour watch, called force tactical action officer, is stood by members of CTF 76 and CPR-11 simultaneously, at six-hour intervals to fill the role of the composite warfare commander (CWC) for the exercise.

"As the composite warfare commander, we are in charge of all the warfare commanders in the exercise, which includes surface warfare commander, air warfare commander, information warfare commander, and the entire CWC structure," said Lt. Benjamin McCarty, CTF 76 scheduling officer. "CPR 11 stands the watch of warfare commander in charge of amphibious warfare. Constant communication is crucial, which is why we stand the watch together."

TS11 also focuses on contingency response drills that will enhance U.S. and Australian capabilities when dealing with foreign and domestic threats, while practicing their ability to conduct joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. CTF 76 participation in similar exercises have aided in the preparation for TS11.

"This experience, not only with CPR 11, but the entire force is very valuable, because we actually get to exercise the naval doctrine that we study and train for," said McCarty. "This is what the ships all prepare for; to train to be ready in any instance."

The two commands will maintain the 24-hour watch schedule through the duration of TS11, which is scheduled to last until near the end of July.

"The coordination with CTF 76 allows us to keep up on our situation awareness for the on the spot changes expected to occur," said Schumacher. "The CTF 76 staff might hear something directly from another task force that we may not hear through our sources, so it's really good that we are in the same space and to be able to talk to each other to share information."

CPR 11 reports to CTF 76, which is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. CTF 76 is led by Rear Adm. Scott Jones and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

Army Guard helicopter crash kills crew

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. – At about 5:30 p.m. EST on Saturday a Tennessee Army National Guard OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter with two pilots on board crashed in northern Tennessee. Both pilots were killed.

Army Maj. Gen. Max Haston, adjutant general, said that Army 1st Lt. Thomas Joseph Williams Jr. and Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel Cole died in the crash.

“The entire Tennessee National Guard is deeply saddened at the loss of Lieutenant Williams and Chief Warrant Officer Cole,” Haston said.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to their families and loved ones. Words cannot express the sorrow I personally feel for these Soldiers, their families and their fellow Soldiers who knew and served with them in peacetime and combat. Their loss is incalculable.

“It is a terrible tragedy whenever we lose a Soldier, but we can rest assured that these two outstanding pilots lost their lives doing something that they loved and believed in, preparing to defend the freedoms we all enjoy.”

Haston added that at the time of the crash the crew was conducting a routine training flight.

“I pledge our full support to the agencies charged with the responsibility of investigating the cause of this crash and appreciate their professionalism and support to our Soldiers and families,” he said.

An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause.

– The Tennessee National Guard contributed.

Ceremony Welcomes USS Germantown Sailors to Townsville, Australia

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon

TOWNSVILLE, Australia (NNS) -- The city of Townsville welcomed the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) Sailors and embarked Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to the city during an official ceremony held at the Army Museum North Queensland July 8.

Germantown is in Townsville, Australia, for a port visit to participate in Talisman Sabre 2011 (TS11), a bilateral command post and field training exercise designed to maintain a high level of interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.

Approximately 23 Sailors and Marines attended the event with other distinguished guests.

"As mayor of Townsville, I am very pleased to officially welcome the USS Germantown, along with Cmdr. Hull and the ship's naval personnel and Marines to our wonderful city," Councilor Les Tyrell said. "We have a long tradition of extending a hand of friendship and hospitality to visiting U.S. personnel. We are delighted to again be a port of call for the Germantown before your participation in TS11."

He went on to explain the strong ties the two countries share with each other during times of peace and war. "The friendship between our two nations is unshakeable," he said. "Indeed, Townsville has forged a long camaraderie with U.S. personnel visiting our port both in times of war and peace."

Also during opening remarks, Grace Smallwood, a representative of indigenous Australians, welcomed the crew to Townsville and thanked them for services provided during past wars.

"On behalf of my people, the Bindal people, our elders, indigenous veterans and community and traditional owners, welcome," she said. "As indigenous people from this community, we strongly wanted today's ceremony to take place, not only to welcome you to our country, but to pay tribute to the close ties between our forces, ties that have been forged in both peace and war. On behalf of my people and all here, I wish you every success with exercise TS11."

Germantown Commanding Officer Cmdr. A. D. Hull took to the podium and expressed his appreciation for welcoming the ship and her crew to the city.

"Thank you very much for welcoming our Sailors and Marines to your warm city," he said. "The U.S. and Australia have been close allies. TS11 is one of those exercises that help us to work together. We are honored to be here today and look forward to working with you."

Afterwards, gifts were exchanged between Hull and the city representatives. Light snacks were then served as the guests mingled and exchanged conversation, and a tour of the museum was then offered for the guests.

Yeoman 1st Class (SW) Sheena Hunt said she enjoyed the event and found the people of Townsville to be extremely friendly. "I enjoyed the visit," she said. "It allowed us to interact with the Australians and learn more about their culture."

Germantown departed Sasebo, Japan June 24 for TS11. Germantown was commissioned Feb. 8, 1986 and is capable of carrying more than 721 Sailors and Marines. It is 610 feet long and can travel at speeds up to 20 knots.

Pelè Lights Torch to Open Military World Games

By Tim Hipps
U.S. Army Installation Management Command

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 19, 2011 – Counseil International du Sport Militaire borrowed a page from the International Olympic Committee to stage the opening ceremony of the 5th Military World Games at Olympic Stadium here July 16.

The spectacle had all the pomp, circumstance and pageantry expected of a military gathering of 109 nations dedicated to CISM’s motto of “Friendship Through Sport.” It also resembled the unforgettable opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, albeit on a smaller scale.

Marching bands from the Brazilian army, navy, air force, military police and firefighters dueled. The Brazilian army’s symphonic band dazzled. The CISM flag was raised. The torch was run around the stadium. Military jets, planes and helicopters performed symmetry, skywriting and acrobatics overhead.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousselff officially declared the 2011 CISM Military World Games open for more than 5,000 athletes, including 250 from her host nation, who will compete in the 20 sports the competition offers.

Edison Arantes do Nascimento, best known as Pelè -- a Brazilian national hero widely regarded as the greatest soccer player ever -- carried the CISM torch up the steps and lit the cauldron.

The athletes, coaches, trainers and support staff of 109 national military teams marched around the track in a display of patriotism.

“Walking out there with your flag kind of gives you that esprit de corps,” said Army Capt. Randee Farrell, captain of the U.S. women’s CISM soccer team, who serves as marketing director of admissions at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. “I think everyone’s ready. I think it’s great to see all the countries come together.

“I was standing there talking with four Iranian women on their shooting team. That’s pretty cool,” she added. “I think the great thing about CISM is it’s across political lines. It’s about really just meeting the people and knowing who they are. I think that’s the great thing about sports, in general, but just like in this environment, what other time are you going to have two or three Americans with four Iranian women? We had a great picture, and we were joking with them.”

Army distance runner Maj. Dan Browne marched in the 2004 Olympics opening ceremony in Athens, but had never attended a CISM Military World Games opener.

“Memories of Athens were sort of coming back to me,” he said. “It was neat, too, in a sense that being in uniform, there’s that extra sense of pride. It was a special thing.”

Thousands of school children performed numerous song and dance displays that illustrated Brazil’s culture, nature, heritage, industry and beautiful people – from the Amazon Rain Forest to the oil refineries to the Blue Sea. Brazil produces 20 percent of the world’s drinkable water and is regarded as the “Lungs of the World” because of its lush tropical forests.

Brazilian pop music stars Jorge Aragao, Alcione, Dudu Nobre and Diogo Nogueira performed during the grand finale of the two-hour program, produced by Abel Gomes.

“It was great to embrace to Brazilian culture,” Farrell said. “Brazil really showed us what they have to offer. We went out to Copacabana Beach the other day, and we’re ready to experience the culture for the rest of the week.”

Willie Wilson, chief of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, attended the 2003 CISM Military World Games in Catania, Italy, and is serving as Team USA’s modern pentathlon team captain in Rio de Janeiro.

“When the president of Brazil spoke and then they had Pelè light the CISM torch, what an event!” Wilson said. “They no doubt made Opening Ceremony a special event.”

Wilson, a retired Army sergeant major who also served as WCAP’s first sergeant, marched around the track with the athletes during the parade of nations.

“I was humbled to have that opportunity, because I am here to support Modern Pentathlon,” he said. “I’m not an athlete, and I did not get here the same route that they did. I was honored to be a part of the U.S. delegation and have the privilege of marching around the track and representing the United States.”

The 6th Military World Games, scheduled for 2015, have been awarded to South Korea.

Navy Kicks Off Week-Long Motor City Celebration

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

DETROIT (NNS) -- Detroit Navy Week 2011 officially kicked off July 18 bringing together residents and Sailors who provided an in-person account of the Navy's significance.

The Navy took advantage of its most important resource — people — sending Sailors from Michigan's namesake submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) and a Navy band among others, to various events around the city. Among these events was a visit to the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center near downtown Detroit where the Sailors toured the facility, and met with veterans and hospital staff.

"The veterans here are very excited the Navy is in town," said Rear Adm. John Jolliffe, vice commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. "They feel the love and support. I think it's important that those who are on active duty not forget about the veterans who have gone before us."

Detroit natives stationed aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) who were in town for Navy Week got a chance to tell their story on live TV. They also talked about the ship's recent exercise with the Royal Korean Navy, and humanitarian assistance Washington provided in the wake of Japan's devastating tsunami in March.

"I hope the people here in Michigan learn during the week how the Navy is a forward-deployed force that's fast and flexible," Jolliffe explained. "We're not only on the water in ships, under the water in submarines and over the water in aircraft to carry out our nation's maritime strategy. We also play a vital role supporting the war effort in Afghanistan, as well as providing humanitarian assistance around the world."

The Detroit City Council honored the Navy by declaring July 18-24 Detroit Navy Week. Councilman Andre L. Spivey presented a framed Detroit Navy Week proclamation to Jolliffe during the celebration, then put the spotlight on hometown Sailors from both USS Michigan and USS George Washington with "Spirit of Detroit" awards, honoring them for their Naval service.

Detroit Navy Week 2011 is one of 21 Navy Weeks being held across America this year. Navy Weeks are designed to showcase the investment Americans have made in their Navy as a global force for good and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

For more information about Detroit Navy Week news and scheduled events, visit navyweek.org/Detroit2011.

Wisconsin National Guard plays role in international exercise

Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to support approximately 1,000 local, federal and military, police and emergency responders from six states in the second week of the National Guard's largest annual training exercise.

Participants of Patriot 2011 - a conglomeration of many national-level organizations, including the FBI, FEMA, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Postal Inspectors and National Guard Soldiers and Airmen - began training at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center and neighboring Fort McCoy July 11.

The exercise is intended to develop best practices and refine emergency responses for a variety of contingencies, from terrorist threats to train accidents and exposure from hazardous material spills.

Lt. Col. Eugene Essex, Volk Field's readiness safeguard program director and a lead exercise controller for Patriot 2011, said the entire CRTC is supporting the Patriot Exercise through logistics support and exercise planning. Essex is a member of the readiness safeguard team which operates the simulation cell for the entire exercise.

"We're acting as the overarching command for the players in the field," Essex said. "Overall the big, key things we're looking for are interoperability and interagency coordination."

Volk's CRTC maintains the staffing and infrastructure needed to host such a large-scale exercise, including taking in all of the exercise participants and equipment. The landscape of Volk Field allows for many different emergency response scenarios to play out.

"The exercise exactly mirrors what happens in real world scenarios," said Joel McDearmon, Patriot exercise planner. "The scenarios provide an immediate time of high stress and high frustration, and a tentative response, followed by a fast flow of escalating confidence and response interoperability."

About 10 members of the Regional Emergency All-Climate Training Center (REACT), are supporting the exercise by setting up and facilitating emergency response scenarios on REACT's 15-acre training ground - which provided realistic scenes, such as collapsed facilities, wrecked vehicles and unstable terrain.

"The realism of it, the facilities, the manpower, it gives the exercise the ability to do multiple training exercises without having to secure facilities in a public setting," said Steve Berg, senior instructor for the REACT center. "We can customize all our training to whatever they want."

Patriot 2011 is the National Guard's pinnacle emergency response training exercise each year and focuses on increasing domestic and combat readiness and capabilities of National Guard units along with collaboration between local, state, federal and military agencies in times of crisis.

"I believe it has gone as smooth as any other year," Berg. "Practicing for the 'real deal' - it's why we train."