Military News

Monday, August 22, 2011

USS Ronald Reagan Drops Anchor in Guam

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Peter Lewis, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Sailors from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) arrived in Guam for a scheduled port visit Aug. 21.

The ship's arrival marks the first time a carrier has visited the island in more than two years.

Capt. Thom Burke, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, said that he always looks forward to a return trip to Guam.

"I love this place," said Burke. "My crew is very, very excited about being back to visit and to take some time to enjoy the wonderful culture and island life while they're here in Guam."

The crew of approximately 4,500 Sailors will have the chance to tour the island, learn about local culture, relax and have fun in the tropical paradise while in port. The carrier will also host tours for distinguished visitors.

"It feels great to be in Guam," said Chief Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Atiba Johnson. "I'm going to go out, find a nice restaurant and get something to eat - relax a little, then take a nice run on the beach."

Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 2nd Class (AW/SW) Almond Joy Nervias was in full agreement.

"It's great to have a port visit," said Nervias. "I'm excited to get out and have some liberty. I can't wait to go to the beach, relax, do some swimming and go shopping!"

Ronald Reagan departed for a training exercise and deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) from its homeport of San Diego Feb. 2. Reagan's last deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR was in 2009.

PRIMS 2011 Streamlines Physical Readiness Reporting

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Navy Personnel Command announced Aug. 22 that the Navy has released a new version of Physical Readiness Information Management System (PRIMS), updating the Web-based application used to manage physical fitness data of more than 340,000 active-duty and Reserve Sailors.

"PRIMS 2011 was designed with user-friendliness in mind, and incorporates physical readiness program policy changes announced in the past year," said Bill Moore, director, Navy Physical Readiness Program. "We worked with developers and took Sailor input into consideration when we updated the program application to create PRIMS 2011."

The new version features a disconnected option for command fitness leaders (CFL) who may have limited connectivity.

"The disconnected option is a great benefit for command fitness leaders at sea," said Moore.

The new version will allow CFLs to download a spreadsheet and save it to a computer in their work center. The CFL can populate the data during deployment as they conduct their physical fitness assessment (PFA) cycle and then upload the information when they return to an operating area with the required bandwidth, according to Moore.

PRIMS is the Navy's official data source for Sailors' physical fitness assessment PFA data. It is used to monitor and track the progress of active-duty and Reserve personnel and identify, screen, educate and monitor members. PRIMS data is also verified against selection board and promotion board results at Navy Personnel Command.

Sailors should review their PRIMS data for accuracy after each PFA cycle. Sailors can access their PRIMS account at through Bupers OnLine at https://www.bol.navy.mil.

Surface Line Week 2011 Concludes

From Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Surface Line Week 2011 (SLW) concluded with an awards ceremony and picnic on board Naval Base San Diego, Aug. 19.

SLW is a 10-day contest sponsored by, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) that features a series of activities dedicated to friendly competition in a variety of seamanship and sporting events.

"We had nearly 2,500 participants in 33 different events and the Sailors did a great job," said Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. Richard Hunt. "We have been celebrating SLW for 30 years. SLW gives us the opportunity to come together as a community, enjoy camaraderie, and participate in friendly competition."

Commands were categorized according to size, and trophies were awarded for first, second, and third place in each category. In the large command category, USS Peleliu (LHA 5) took home the top prize and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) took second place. In the medium command category, USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) came in first place, USS Stockdale (DDG 106) second, and USS Benfold (DDG 65) third. For the small command category, USS Warrior (MCM 10) placed first, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron was second, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit placed third. Individual winners in their respective categories were also announced and awarded.

"Peleliu's Sailors have been very enthusiastic about participating in all the events for Surface Line Week," said Peleliu Commanding Officer Capt. James Cox. "I'm very proud of them and they've done a great job. They dove into the competition full of enthusiasm, did very well, and we were able to take home the first place trophy. This is just a continuation of what the Sailors have done and will continue to do."

This year, participants competed in events, including perennial favorites such as basketball, softball and golf, along with damage control, ship handling and marksmanship.

"SLW overall was a great success this year. There was a lot of participation and the Sailors brought their best game to each event," said Lt. Jasmine Gough, coordinator for SLW. "The Sailors were competitive, but they never lost sight of being a good shipmate, and they supported one another even if they were not on the same team."

"This is the first time I've participated in Surface Line Week," said Yeoman Seaman Nick Jones. "It was cool to see everyone competing against each other. Next year I'm going to sign up for more events."

Biden Speaks to Chinese Students on U.S.-China Relations

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2011 – The United States and China have essential roles to play in solving many of the world’s most pressing challenges, Vice President Joe Biden told a Chinese audience yesterday.

As part of a four-day visit to China, Biden visited Sichuan University in Chengdu, where he spoke to Chinese college students about U.S.-China relations.

Biden first visited that nation in 1979 as a senator.

“It was a very different country then, but what was absolutely clear to me was that China was on the cusp of a remarkable transformation,” he told the students.

A rising China will fuel economic growth and bring to the fore a new partner with whom the United States can meet global challenges, the vice president said.

When President Barack Obama and he took office in 2009, they made the U.S.-China relationship a top priority, Biden said.

“Our presidents have met nine times since then, including very successful state visits in Beijing and Washington, and have spoken numerous times by telephone,” he noted.

The premier forum for communication between United States and Chinese officials is the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which brings together policymakers from across both governments to discuss issues from trade barriers to climate change, he said.

In May, the two nations also jointly launched the first Strategic Security Dialogue as a channel for civilian and military leaders to discuss sensitive topics, including cyber and maritime security, the vice president said.

To make that dialogue effective, it’s important that the two nations’ military leaders get to know each other, Biden said. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde of the Chinese army have begun that process through n exchange of visits in May and July, he noted.

“The fact is China and the United States face many of the same threats and share many of the same objectives and responsibilities,” Biden said.

Because China and the United States sometimes view threats from different perspectives, the two nations’ senior military leaders should talk “as frequently as our diplomats do,” he said.

The United States is and will remain a Pacific power, the vice president said.

“Over the last 60 years, no country has done more than we have to ensure the stability and security of the Asian-Pacific region,” Biden said. “And I’d respectfully suggest that has been good for China, allowing China to focus on domestic development and to benefit from a growing market.”

America’s focus on the region will only grow in the years to come, as Asia plays an even greater role in the global economy and international affairs, he said.

Biden said the United States and China are working with international partners to counter the threat of nuclear weapons, materials and technology, noting that Chinese President Hu Jintau joined President Barack Obama and other leaders last year at a nuclear security conference.

“Along with 46 other world leaders, President Hu honored us by joining President Obama and me at the Nuclear Security Summit in April of last year, and our nations are now collaborating on a center for excellence to provide nuclear security in China,” Biden said.

During his visit, the vice president told the students, he discussed with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the need for the two nations to focus on “the world’s two primary nuclear proliferating challenges: North Korea and Iran.”

If armed with nuclear weapons on long-range missiles, North Korea and Iran would pose a direct and serious, existential threat to the security of the United States and its allies, Biden said.

“That is why we’ve been working with China and our international partners to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and to achieve a complete denuclearization of North Korea,” he said. “And it is why as the Iranian government continues its illicit nuclear program, we have worked with a range of partners and international institutions to enact the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever faced.”

The United States will continue to look to China to send a clear message to Iranian leaders through its words and its deeds that Iran must live up to its international obligations, he added.

Other security challenges the United States and China share include Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sudan, the vice president noted.

“Continuing to develop our security dialogue and cooperation is the surest way to meet these joint challenges,” he said.

Biden repeated for the students a comment he made during the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue here in May: “For many of the world’s most pressing challenges, it is a simple fact that when the United States and China are not at the table, the solution to the problem is less possible.”

Obama and Biden will continue working to make the nations’ partnership more positive, cooperative and comprehensive in the coming years, he said.

“I hope that my visit can serve as a step toward these goals and toward strengthening that bond,” he added.

Biden later visited Mongolia, and he is now in Japan. His overseas trip concludes later this week.

Chief of Navy Reserve visits Reserve Staff during PANAMAX

From U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Dirk Debbink, Chief of Navy Reserve and Commander, Navy Reserve Force visited U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) headquarters, Aug. 21 to meet with Reserve staff members during PANAMAX.

Rear Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, COMUSNAVSO/C4F, welcomed Debbink and his delegation as they arrived at the headquarters.

"We're very proud to have Admiral Debbink visit us today," said Tidd. "This visit is an opportunity for us to discuss how Navy Reservists fully integrate into the everyday operations of their active duty counterparts both in real world situations as well as exercises such as PANAMAX."

During his visit, Debbink toured the headquarters, and got to talk to several Reservists and got a glimpse of the Navy's total force in action during PANAMAX.

"It is great to join you this morning and see the tremendous work of the Navy's total force for this exercise." said Debbink. "It is not just an exercise....your contributions to the operations here at NAVSO and during PANAMAX is significant in that they prove the strategic importance of this area of responsibility."

PANAMAX is one of the largest multinational training exercises in the world. The annual U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) sponsored exercise series focuses on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, crucial to the unrestricted flow of global maritime commerce.

COMUSNAVSO/C4F supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Walter Reed Enters Final Phase with Patient Moves

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2011 – About 200 outpatient wounded warriors are expected to move from Walter Reed Army Medical Center here this weekend to the nearby National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., as the two hospitals move closer to becoming one.

More than 100 inpatients will move from Walter Reed’s wards to Bethesda by ambulance Aug. 28, and the flag will be lowered for good at the 102-year-old Army hospital.

Also as part of the changes in military health care facilities in the national capital region mandated by the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, some of Walter Reed’s functions, patients and staff are moving to the newly expanded DeWitt Army Community Hospital on Fort Belvoir, Va.

After the Army and Navy hospitals merge, the Bethesda campus will be renamed as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Walter Reed’s era of caring for privates to presidents has spanned both world wars, the Korean conflict, Vietnam and the return of prisoners of war, and the decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At a recent transition ceremony, military medical leaders reflected on Walter Reed’s history as the Army’s flagship of medicine.

“It is bittersweet that we are marking an ending to mark a new beginning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” said Army Col. Norvell V. “Van” Coots, commander of Walter Reed’s health care system. “You can go anywhere in the world, and … people who don’t speak English know the words ‘Walter Reed.’ To me, that’s how you define ‘iconic.’”

Built for 80 inpatients in 1909 under a single roof in a Georgian-brick building, the former Walter Reed General Hospital eventually became the bustling medical campus it is today, with 72 buildings on a 113-acre plot of land, closely surrounded by a neighborhood in the upper-northwest quadrant of the nation’s capital.

“[There was] no room to expand and meet the changing demands of the complexity of the wounded warriors,” Coots said. “The room was found on the grounds of the naval hospital in Bethesda,” he said.

Standing ready for Walter Reed’s patients are the newly dedicated Wounded Warriors Barracks and Wounded Warriors Complex, dedicated two weeks ago at Bethesda.

Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general and a former Walter Reed commander, called the transition a time to celebrate the “history of this great campus, and to celebrate unquestionable high-quality care” in the course of its lengthy history.

Navy Rear Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, National Naval Medical Center commander, said he looks forward to the quality of care the merger will provide.

“We recognize, as teammates, to … take Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center and forge [an] integrated staff and facilities to become the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda,” he said. “The synergy and partnership that that creates will [provide] the highest, most pristine medicine.”

Leap Frogs Soar Into Chicago Air & Water Show

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (PJ) Michelle Turner

CHICAGO (NNS) -- More than two million air-show enthusiasts watched the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, perform during the 53rd Chicago Air and Water Show, Aug. 20-21.

The air show also included segments by the U.S. Army parachute team, the Golden Knights, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" and several civilian aerobatic teams.

A member of the Leap Frogs and the Golden Knights opened the show each day with a bi-plane formation - a maneuver in which two jumpers stack their parachutes one above the other. Pilots of four civilian, aerobatic aircraft circled the jumpers during the jump, spiraling white smoke around the jumpers. Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Thomas Kinn flew an American Flag both days during the national anthem.

"On behalf of the City of Chicago we are so pleased to have the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs parachute team as part of our Chicago Air and Water Show," said David Kennedy, deputy director of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. "Seeing the team flying in with the American flag to open our show is a thrill beyond belief."

The Leap Frogs conducted four precision, freefall jumps over the two-day aerial review despite heavy rain that paused the show for almost three hours Saturday. The team worked in a joint-service environment jumping along side the Golden Knights from both the Golden Knights' Fokker C-31A Troopship aircraft and a Missouri Air National Guard C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft.

The crowd cheered and shouted "Hoo-Yah" as the Leap Frogs jumped out of the aircraft for their final performance of the weekend. The jumpers screamed across the sky above Chicago's downtown area in a track formation at 180 miles per hour, trailing smoke behind them. The crowd watched in awe as the Leap Frogs maneuvered their canopies into different formations including a drag plane. During the drag plane maneuver, the lowest jumper of three turned his parachute upside down as the formation plummeted toward the ground at 60 miles per hour.

"You cannot pick a better thing to do on a summer day along Chicago's lakefront," said spectator Alyssa Graver, a native of Chicago. "It's a great day to remember our men and women who serve and protect our country everyday - the amazing things they do and the sacrifices they make. The adrenaline at the show is contagious. The Leap Frogs are a truly amazing sight in action."

The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations across America in support of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) and Navy Recruiting as a global force for good. The team is composed of parachuting experts from Naval Special Warfare including Navy SEALs, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, a Navy diver, and an NSW parachute rigger, in addition to support personnel.

USS Mahan Sailors Volunteer Visit Women's Transitional Shelter

By Bob Krekorian, Naval Station Newport Public Affairs

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NNS) -- Thirteen volunteers from the guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) donated their time, talents, and skills at a local transitional shelter for women and their children, Aug. 18, during the ship's visit at Naval Station Newport, Newport, R.I.

USS Mahan arrived Naval Station Newport's Pier 2, Aug. 15, as part of the Surface Warfare Officers School's (SWOS) visiting ships program.

While in port, the ship provided tours for approximately 550 U.S. and International Officers, enlisted, midshipman, and officer candidates from SWOS, Naval War College, Officer Training Command Newport, Naval Academy Preparatory School, and Navy Supply Corps School; and 33 teens from the Naval Station Newport school age care program at the installation's Child Development Center.

The ship undertook the community service project at Lucy's Hearth, the Newport County Homeless Shelter for Women and their Children. The project included painting four bedrooms, refinishing two wood tables, moving furniture into and out of storage, and shampooing rugs.

"I think this project is worthwhile," said Fire Controlman 1st Class Rafael Silva of Kingsville, Texas. "Everyone needs help to get back on their feet," he said.

"I volunteer often because I like to help the local community," said Gas Turbine System Technician Electrical Apprentice Katie Kile of Austin, Texas. Kile said she has experienced not having a place to call home. "When I was young my father left my mother and I," she said.

Seaman Katherine Renard of Fullerton, Calif., said she volunteered because mothers and their children were being helped. "Knowing that I can help a mother in need and make life a little easier is an accomplishment," she said.

The Sailors donated more than 65 man-hours working at the shelter.

"I'm glad to help," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Steven Moore of Marietta, Ga. Moore said he had a friend who was in a similar situation. "A newly painted room makes everyone feel better," he said.

Logistics Specialist Seaman Bridget Agyemang of Ghana said the USS Mahan contingent at the shelter were doing their best to put a smile on the faces of the mothers who would occupy the rooms.

"We want to help them live in a better place," she said.

"We are so fortunate and grateful to have their expertise," said Jennifer Barrera, the shelter's program director. "The projects they do for us are so important to us," she said.