Military News

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Face of Defense: NCO Heads to All-Army Golf Trials

By Yvonne Johnson
U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Sept. 22, 2011 – Though Army Master Sgt. Sheila Sango has golfed just eight years, she has hopes of becoming one of the Army’s elite golfers.

Sango, a career counselor with the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command here, was selected to compete in the All-Army Golf Trials held tomorrow through Sept. 26 at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Upwards of 30 of the Army's top golfers will compete in the trials. The top finishers from the 72-hole event will form the 2011 All Army Team, which will compete against teams from the Air Force, Navy and Marines in the Armed Forces Championship held Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, also at the Fort Jackson Golf Club.

This is Sango's second trip to the trials. She competed last year and hopes to do better.

"I didn't do as well as I can; it was a very humbling experience," Sango said. "Through the grace of God, I will do well this year."

A native of California, Sango is a 21-year Army veteran who came to Aberdeen in March from Hawaii. Sango has two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and said she started playing golf while stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, after years of playing softball.

"I used to love softball, but for some reason I always enjoyed watching golf," she said.

Sango credits various coworkers who shared their knowledge of the game as she honed her skills. She said a Maryland-based nonprofit golfing organization, along with local golf club manager Rick Bond and golf pro Dave Correll, took her under their wings.

"Dave has been very valuable; he's given me great tips," Sango said. "There is no perfect swing. He takes your swing and works with that.”

Bond called Sango a great player who is driven to succeed.

"She's not just a wonderful player -- she's even a nicer person," he said. "She's a joy to be around and she has a tireless work ethic. Even if it's raining, she's out here working on her game. We're all pulling for her."

Sango said she feels her first assignment on the East Coast is not by chance.

"I just know I'm here for a reason," she said. "I've found a nice church here and a beautiful place to perfect my [golf] game.”

Sango said she loves the quiet of early-morning golf.

"There's nothing here but you and nature,” she said. “I see geese and deer, and I even saw a little fox out here. It's inspiring. So I just keep trying and trying. I know God will still love me whether I fail or succeed as long as I just don't quit."

Report Examines Lower Body Blast Injuries

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2011 – The Army Surgeon General’s Office released its report yesterday on dismounted complex blast injuries, which more than twice as many service members have suffered annually since the 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan.

Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Joseph Caravalho Jr., commander of the Army’s Northern Regional Medical Command, detailed the report’s findings to reporters here.

The injury pattern known as DCBI, Caravalho said, is typically caused by a mine or roadside-bomb explosion, affects troops on foot patrol, and involves traumatic amputation of one leg, at least a severe injury to the other leg, and wounds to any or all of the pelvis, abdomen and genitals.

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker charted a task force in 2011 to study the injury pattern, Caravalho said. The group, which Caravalho chaired, included experts from the Army, Marine Corps and Veterans Affairs Department, who examined the causes, prevention, protection, treatment and long-term care options for service members suffering these severe injuries, he added.

“These are life-defining injuries for these warriors and their families, but it is not desperate,” Caravalho said. “All of us in uniform understand it’s not just about saving lives; it’s about doing everything military medicine can do to help them lead full and productive lives.”

The report details the number of surviving service member amputees from January 2010 to March 2011. Of 194 amputations, 78 resulted from DCBI and 116 from other causes. By service, 53 Marines, 23 soldiers and two sailors suffered dismounted complex blast injuries resulting in amputation.

Caravalho said while severe injuries nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010, military medicine is saving more lives than ever before.

More combat troops are surviving, he said, because personal protective equipment and armored combat vehicles have decreased the number of head, torso and serious burn injuries; battlefield medics focus first on controlling bleeding with tourniquets; helicopter evacuation times are shorter; there are highly trained medical professionals aboard those helicopters; and medical surgeons have improved surgical resuscitation.

The task force identified 92 recommendations to improve quality of care to service members suffering lower body blast injuries and their families, Caravalho said.

Some best practices have already been implemented, he added: paramedic training for flight medics, to improve the level of care available during medevac; and early use of blood products, possibly even on the battlefield.

Other recommendations focus on point-of-injury and long-term pain management, and on a multidisciplinary approach to long-term care, he said.

Army Col. (Dr.) James Ficke, chairman of the orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation department at Brooke Army Medical Center near San Antonio, told reporters he has worked with many service members who have suffered complex blast injuries.

One, a West Point graduate of less than a year, lost three limbs, Ficke said.

“He’s married; he has a brand-new baby,” Ficke said. “He went through a grieving process, as we can only imagine -- it would be hubris to say we understand what they’ve gone through. But for him to go through that grieving process, and then recover, and be in a wheelchair the rest of his life, but see that child grow up -- he has said, ‘I’m glad I’m alive.’”

Service members who suffer these injuries can still live fruitful and productive lives, but need help to deal with fear of the unknown, he said.

“We have mentoring, we have individuals that have gone through something like this and are able to coach, and tell someone who’s just starting that process: ‘This is what it’s like. I’ve been there; I know,’” Ficke said.

Caravalho said research continues into “blast boxers,” armored underwear that may help prevent some genital and femoral artery injuries.

Army Col. (Dr.) Jonathan Jaffin, chief of staff for the Army Surgeon General Office’s Complex Battle Injury Work Group, said the military medical research community also is researching how to compress blood vessels “that otherwise you couldn’t get a tourniquet on.”

Ficke added, “If we can stop bleeding, we can keep people alive. That’s why we’ve seen such success in survival in this war, with severe injuries.”

The next challenge is to achieve similar success with genital injuries, he added.

“We have reconstructive urologists in the combat support hospitals, deployed, so that if there is a testicular or genital injury that is salvageable, that surgeon can do something far forward,” Ficke said.

The long-term prognosis for people who have had a leg amputated is best if doctors can preserve the other leg, even if it’s damaged, Ficke said.

“If we have technology … that can improve that ability to walk, it, long-term, gives them a better health outcome for heart disease, diabetes, all of those things,” he said. “We are now working with an exciting device that enables someone to use a limb that has had a devastating injury … and can still run.”

Military medical teams use a multidisciplinary approach to complex blast injuries, incorporating surgeons, therapists, prosthetists and behavioral medicine experts to give patients the best possible long-term outcome, Ficke said.

Caravalho said military medical professionals want service members to know there always is hope, even after complex traumatic injuries.

“Military medicine and the VA will be with them for the long term,” he said. “They are entitled to the absolute best care we can provide -- not because of their injuries, but because of their service.”

Schwartz: Air Force Will Preserve 'Core Contributions'

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By Mitch Gettle
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept. 21, 2011 – Air Force leaders are focused on managing potential budget constraints so that the service can continue to provide its unique contributions to national security, the Air Force chief of staff said yesterday.

Speaking before hundreds of attendees at the Air Force Association's 2011 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said service leaders will not allow budget pressures to create a future force that "merely appears on paper to be effective, but in reality is reduced substantially in depth and breadth."

Schwartz said the Air Force's core contributions reside in four main areas: control and exploitation of the air and space domains, as well as mission assurance in cyberspace; global strike; rapid global mobility; and worldwide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

These four contributions are enhanced by the Air Force's superior command and control networks, Schwartz said.

"In any budget scenario, we will be required to continue providing capabilities that offer the nation's leaders a wide range of strategic options for rapid and flexible power projection," Schwartz said. "Our core contributions enable America's global perspective and result in appropriately tailored effects at times and places of our choosing."

The Air Force's unique capabilities are essential for the nation's strategic interests, economic prosperity and military readiness, Schwartz said, describing the United States as an "air and space nation."

"So as we may have to carefully consider reduced capacities in some areas while maintaining, and perhaps increasing investment in others, we must carefully consider and calibrate our acceptance of risk, manifested in a force that's smaller in size and scale," he said.

Such "difficult choices," will extend into the Air Force's procurement programs, the general said. Future development efforts will have to be less ambitious, and government and industry must appraise and adhere to genuine operational requirements and evaluate manufacturability early.

"We require straight talk from everybody," Schwartz said. "Government must ensure stable requirements and reliable funding streams, while industry must bid according to realistic estimates, and resist offering to sell more than what is operationally required."

The Air Force's acquisition corps is ready for such challenges, given the progress it has made over the last three years, he said.

"Although we will always be accountable for responsibly expending hard-earned and precious taxpayer dollars, we can regard our acquisition processes and procedures as having achieved a notable restoration of effective control and oversight," Schwartz said.

Another area the Air Force has made similar progress in since 2008 is the nuclear enterprise. "Without resting on our laurels, we can be proud of the result: a nuclear enterprise that is renewed and focused on its commitment to avoiding critical performance shortfalls," he said. "Our work in this critical area remains worthy, valued and essential to our nation's security."

To maintain such excellence across the Air Force, the general said the service will intensify its efforts to develop airmen, "arming them with intellectual and experiential strength that is on par with the advanced capabilities that our weapon systems provide."

Schwartz acknowledged the excellence displayed by all airmen by recognizing the achievements of Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez Jr., a joint terminal attack controller who, despite suffering serious wounds, helped save his Special Forces team in Afghanistan during a Taliban attack by expertly calling in air strikes.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley recently approved the awarding of the Air Force Cross, the service's highest military honor, to Gutierrez, Schwartz announced during his remarks.

While airmen face a future of fiscal and operational challenges, Schwartz said he remains confident that the Air Force will remain ready to defend the nation and its freedoms.

"The U.S. Air Force will be prepared for whatever the nation requires of us," he said. "We will provide the many utilities of airpower, as only airmen can provide it: vital in the national context and indispensable in the proud pursuit of our nation's interests.

"We will be there for our joint teammates and for the nation," he continued. "We will do it, or we'll die trying."

DOD Announces Return of Facilities in Germany

The US Department of Defense announced today that it will return several facilities to the German government.  These are: the Oberweis Annex warehouse; three communication sites at Pruem Air Station, Hahn Communication Station and ARFT radio relay station; Hochspeyer ammunition storage facility; and Bitburg Storage Annex No.2 (French Kaserne).

These closures are part of U.S. European Command’s continued effort to remove non-enduring sites, bases and installations from its real-property inventory.

There are no personnel changes associated with these facilities and their return will have no impact on U.S. Air Forces in Europe operations in Europe.  The United States plans to return the facilities to the host nation now through 2015.

Cost savings per site are as follows:

·         Oberweis Annex warehouse: approximately $1.24 million
·         Pruem Air Station communication sites, Hahn Communication Station and  ARFT radio relay station: approximately $560,000 
·         Hochspeyer ammunition storage facility: approximately $52,000
·         Bitburg Storage Annex No.2 (French Kaserne): approximately $1.5 million

As with all stationing actions, the United States has coordinated with host-nation officials prior to this public announcement.

For additional information regarding this announcement, please contact U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs at 011-49-6371-47-6558 or pa.ops@ramstein.af.mil .

2011 - 2012 Influenza Vaccination Season Underway

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From Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs and U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy officials reminded all Navy active duty Sailors and Reservists Sept. 22 they must receive the seasonal influenza or "flu" vaccine upon its availability at their local installation's medical treatment facility (MTF) as directed by NAVADMIN 207/11.

The Navy's goal is to have 90 percent of all Navy personnel vaccinated for the flu by Dec. 1.

"It's important for all the active duty personnel to realize that the single best way to prevent the flu is with vaccination," said Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. "Without it, the influenza virus could have a sweeping impact on our force readiness and ability to meet our mission."

Each year in the U.S., there are more than 25 million reported cases of the flu with more than 150,000 hospitalizations due to complications and more than 24,000 deaths.

Navy personnel and their family members can take preventive measures to reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of the flu. These methods include washing hands, maintaining a clean home and work environment, teleworking, and staying home from work when sick.

To learn when the flu vaccination will be available at your local MTF, check your installation newspaper, social media sites, or contact your local MTF.

Wisconsin Guard command chief warrant officer promoted to highest rank

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Chief Warrant Officer 4 Craig T. Krenz of Tomah, Wis., command chief warrant officer for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, was promoted to the rank of chief warrant officer 5 in a Monday (Sept. 19) ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters, Madison.

The rank of chief warrant officer 5 is the highest attainable as a warrant officer.

"I’m humbled and I’m honored," Krenz said. "I’ve had the fortune of having a great career."

During the ceremony, Krenz imparted lessons learned throughout his career. "The best thing I can pass on to anybody is know your commander’s intent."

Krenz enlisted in 1980 with the Headquarters Company, 724th Engineer Battalion located in Superior. He served as a vehicle driver, unit clerk, personnel staff non-commissioned officer and reconnaissance sergeant until 1990, when he transferred to the Headquarters State Area Command in Madison.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Craig T. Krenz, the command chief warrant officer for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, is promoted to the rank of chief warrant officer 5 in a Sept. 19 ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters, Madison. His father, Bruce Krenz, and wife Jeanine, help pin on the new rank. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez 

Krenz was appointed as a warrant officer in1992 after completing the Warrant Officer Candidate Course at Fort McCoy, and served as a military personnel technician in both the Headquarters State Area Command and 232nd Personnel Services Company.

In February 2009, he mobilized for active duty with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and served in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Upon his return, he rejoined Joint Force Headquarters and was selected as the command chief warrant officer for the Wisconsin Army National Guard where he serves as the principal advisor to the adjutant general on Warrant Officer policy, career management and assignments.