Thursday, September 08, 2011

U.S. 7th Fleet Holds Change of Command Ceremony

By U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- U.S. 7th Fleet held a change of command ceremony on board the command flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Sept. 7.

Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk was relieved by Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift at the ceremony.

"It has been the thrill of my career to briefly command in the best job of our Navy and watch this fleet in action. My heartfelt appreciation for the wonderful dedicated service, friendship, and support you all have provided," said Van Buskirk. "There is no better leader to guide 7th Fleet than Vice Adm. Scott Swift. His operational experience is unmatched, and his most recent job as the Pacific Command Operations Officer means that he is already attuned to all of the complex issues in this region."

Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, praised Van Buskirk for his outstanding leadership of the U.S. 7th Fleet during the past year.

Van Buskirk oversaw U.S. naval operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, encompassing more than 48 million square miles from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south, and from the International Date Line to the Indian Ocean. The area includes 35 maritime countries and the world's five largest foreign armed forces - China, Russia, India, North Korea and Republic of Korea (ROK). Five of the seven U.S. Mutual Defense Treaties are with countries in the area - Republic of the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, ROK, Japan and Thailand.

During his tenure, Van Buskirk led U.S. 7th Fleet forces in the largest humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation in history, Operation Tomodachi. At its peak the Navy had 22 ships, 132 aircraft and more than 15,000 personnel dedicated to assisting Japan's Self Defense Forces in the search and recovery efforts.

Walsh presented Van Buskirk with the Distinguished Service Medal for his service.

"When I stood on this deck almost a year ago, my guidance to the Fleet was simple - maintain course and speed and execute the three persistent priorities that had served the Fleet so well: maximizing warfighting readiness, maritime partnerships, and force posture," said Van Buskirk. "I can say with complete confidence that our forces are ready, our forces are present throughout the theater, and our partnerships are stronger than they have ever been."

Swift, a native of San Diego, Calif., assumed command of 7th Fleet, following a tour as Director of Operations, U.S. Pacific Command.

"I assume command today full of confidence, born in the knowledge of how well 7th Fleet has been led by Adm. Walsh and Vice Adm. Van Buskirk," said Swift. "We are a global force for good. That truth is born out by Vice Adm. Van Buskirk as he has left the 7th Fleet area of responsibility a better place than what he found. I am confident we will do the same."

Van Buskirk's next assignment will be as deputy chief of Naval Operations for manpower, personnel, training and education in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Chief of Naval Personnel, in Arlington, Va.

There are 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and more than 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel assigned to the 7th Fleet. This includes forces operating from bases in Japan and Guam and rotationally-deployed forces based in the United States. Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, is embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The flagship commands and controls the fleet and fosters military-to-military relationships through scheduled port visits and military exercises.

Bureau Seeks Financial Products Info to Protect Troops

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2011 – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today announced that it is seeking public input on consumer financial products and services tailored to service members and their families.

The information provided will help the CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs to develop financial education and outreach initiatives for military families.

“Military families face unique challenges especially when it comes to their finances,” said Holly Petraeus, the assistant director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs. “We believe that open dialogue is key to addressing these challenges.

“By identifying the products and services that aim to assist their particular needs,” Petraeus continued, “our office will be able to better-serve service members and their families.”

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act charged the CFPB with, among other things, educating and empowering service members and their families to make better informed decisions when choosing financial services and products.

In keeping with this commitment, the CFPB is asking consumers, financial service providers, organizations, and other members of the public to provide information on consumer financial products and services aimed at service members.

The OSA is seeking information on:

-- Products and Services: The consumer financial products and services that are currently offered to or used by service members and their families, including those that are specifically tailored to their unique financial needs.

-- Education: The financial education opportunities that are offered to service members and their families, both in person and online.

-- Programs: The types of programs, policies, accommodations, and benefits that financial service providers currently provide to service members and their families that may exceed those required by statute.

-- Homeowner Assistance: The types of unique assistance offered by financial service providers to service members and their families who are distressed homeowners, such as: mortgage modifications; accommodations for service members with permanent change of station orders; and assistance for wounded, ill or injured service members or surviving spouses of deceased service members.

-- Marketing and Communication: The marketing and communication strategies that are currently used to inform service members and their families of consumer financial products and services, and those that are the most and least effective.

Public comments are due by Sept. 20, 2011, and may be submitted to:!documentDetail;D=CFPB_FRDOC_0001-0013 or .