Monday, October 03, 2011

GW Sailors Volunteer at Busan Orphanage

Discover the best Korean War books written by the heroes who fought there.

By Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Alysia R. Hernandez, USS George Washington Public Affairs

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Sailors from nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) visited the Sung Ae Won Home for Children during a port visit to Busan, Republic of Korea, Oct. 2.

Sailors were welcomed and briefed by the orphanage staff and later played with the children.

"The best part of doing this COMSERV (community service project) was seeing the smiles on the kid's faces... I plan on doing a COMSERV for every port we hit," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Andrew Williams who is from Peoria, Ill. He was one of more than 40 Sailors who volunteered.

While Williams' goal was to make a difference in a child's life, others members of the George Washington crew signed up to experience another culture.

"I volunteered because I thought this would be a good learning experience," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handler) Airman Stephen Sobocinski. "Instead of hitting all the MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) tours, I wanted to see another side to their culture."

The trip to the orphanage was just one of five community service projects George Washington Sailors participated in during the visit to Busan.

Sung Ae Won means garden of holiness and love. The orphanage was founded in 1948 and is one of 150 in the Republic of Korea. The orphanage's mission is to provide shelter for children who need immediate help, protect them from any hazard and guide them to become good members of society.

This was the second time the ship visited Busan, last pulling in July 21, 2010. As the Navy's only full-time forward deployed aircraft carrier, George Washington's mission is to help ensure security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean and work with regional partners and allies of the United States.

For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit

Secretary General Sets Stage for NATO Defense Ministers Meeting

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2011 – NATO defense ministers will discuss operations in Libya, Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as the need for the alliance to increase its capabilities, when they meet in Brussels later this week, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will join his NATO counterparts at the alliance’s headquarters for the discussions.

At a news conference previewing the ministerial conference, Rasmussen called NATO’s effort to protect civilians in Libya “a great success.”

“The United Nations Security Council called for action,” he said. “NATO decided to respond. We put together a complete package of measures by air and sea to protect the people of Libya. And we are near to successfully completing that task.

Operation Unified Protector has done what we said it would do. We have kept our commitment to the United Nations, to the region, and to the Libyan people.”

The NATO defense ministers and their International Security Assistance Force partners will meet to discuss the “significant progress” that has taken place in Afghanistan since they last met, the secretary general said.

“Transition is fully on track, and we will not allow insurgents to derail it,” he said. “Already, Afghan forces are providing lead security for a quarter of the population. I expect the next stage of transition to be announced soon, and I expect it to be substantial. And at the same time, our military authorities assess that the insurgency has been weakened overall.”

Noting that insurgents continue to launch spectacular attacks to create the perception that violence is on the rise in Afghanistan, Rasmussen acknowledged that levels of violence are a concern. “However,” he added, “our commanders are confident that security incidents initiated by insurgent groups are lower than last year.”

About a year ago, he said, NATO officials said the situation in Afghanistan’s Helmand province would get worse before it got better as the alliance focused its efforts there.

“Now, we are seeing the results of our efforts,” Rasmussen said. “Attacks since June are significantly lower than last year. In fact, some districts in central Helmand have seen reductions in violence of nearly 80 percent. So our strategy is working, and we should concentrate on the competence of the Afghan security forces in dealing with attacks. That will remain our focus as we complete transition by the end of 2014 --– and as we continue to stand with the Afghan people after 2014.”

Recent events in Kosovo, Rasmussen said, have provided “sharp reminders of how quickly tensions can arise and how important NATO’s mission remains.” On Sept. 27, ethnic Serbs and NATO forces clashed at a disputed border crossing, and four NATO peacekeepers were injured by pipe bombs.

“[NATO’s Kosovo Force] is there to maintain a safe and secure environment for all the people of Kosovo, regardless of their ethnicity,” the secretary general said. “And we will continue to do so --– firmly, carefully and impartially, in full compliance with our United Nations mandate.

“That is what our troops have been doing for the last 12 years, at considerable risk to their own safety,” he continued. “NATO forces will always use the minimum force necessary, but they have the right to self-defense. That is what they did on Sept. 27.”

Also on the defense ministers’ agenda, Rasmussen said, is a discussion focused on building the alliance’s capabilities.

“My message is clear: improving our capabilities is not only necessary -- it's vital,” he said. “We have to spend on priorities, and spend together, by funding projects that will improve security for all.”

NATO operations in Libya and Afghanistan have shown, for example, that the allies must continue to improve their drone, intelligence and refueling capabilities, he said, adding that the alliance cannot rely on a single ally to provide for those needs.

In addition, the secretary general said, NATO is considering a wide range of projects to protect its troops and to make better use of available resources.

Rasmussen noted that Poland, Romania and Turkey have agreed to host key elements of NATO’s missile defense system, and that he expects to declare at the alliance’s May summit in Chicago that the system has attained interim operational capability.

“There are many different examples, but the bottom line is this: no capability, no operation,” he said. “If we want NATO to remain credible, we have to be able to act. And if we want to be able to act, we have to keep and acquire the capabilities to act. I will be encouraging ministers to identify projects their nations would be willing to lead in the coming months, and I will ask them all for their commitment to making these projects a reality as we head toward our Chicago summit.”

Missing Vietnam War Soldiers Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors. 

Master Sgt. Charles V. Newton of Canadian, Texas; Sgt. 1st Class Douglas E. Dahill of Lima, Ohio; and Sgt. 1st Class Charles F. Prevedel of St. Louis, Mo., all U.S. Army, will be buried as a group on Oct. 5 at Arlington National Cemetery.  Newton was also individually identified and will be interred individually at Arlington on the same day as the group interment.

On April 17, 1969, the men and three Vietnamese soldiers were on a long-range reconnaissance patrol operating in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, near the border of Laos.  That afternoon the patrol was ambushed by enemy forces and radioed for air support but thunderstorms in the area prevented rescue attempts.  Search and rescue teams reached the site the next day but over the next week found no signs of the men.

Between 1990 and 1993,joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed witnesses, investigated leads and excavated the site associated with the ambush.  The teams recovered human remains, personal effects and military equipment.  In 2003, some of the recovered remains were identified as those of Prevedel.  In 2006 and 2007, joint U.S./S.R.V. teams returned to the site and recovered additional remains and military equipment.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains. 

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at or call 703-699-1169.

Naples Bids Farewell to 6th Fleet Commander, Welcomes New Commander

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephen Oleksiak, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet held a change of command ceremony at Naval Support Activity Naples Capodichino in Naples, Italy, Oct. 3, in front of guests, friends and shipmates.

Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe relieved Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. Pandolfe also assumed duties as commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), and deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.

Harris assumed command of 6th Fleet and STRIKFORNATO Nov. 18, 2009, and has since been involved with several multinational exercises and operations within the region. Most notably, Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa; commander, Allied Joint Forces Command Naples commented on Harris' service as the Joint Force Maritime component commander during Operation Odyssey Dawn, the international military operation in Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

"When the call came to establish a Joint Task Force, you were ready. You established your lines of communication, issued your guidance, and executed your missions with precision," said Locklear. "Your rapid transition to a wartime posture aboard USS Mount Whitney allowed us to quickly and decisively establish maritime and air superiority. This is exactly how it's supposed to happen. I am proud of what you accomplished. Because of your leadership, we prevailed in combat. It has been an honor to serve with you."

Harris reminisced on his tour in Naples and expressed his gratitude for the men and women of 6th Fleet and STRIKFORNATO.

"When I got here, I quickly learned how complex this mission was," said Harris. "Now that my tour is coming to a close, my appreciation for the men and women of 6th Fleet and STRIKFORNATO has grown into a profound sense of admiration, and I'm grateful to have the opportunity today to place credit where credit is due."

For his leadership as commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, Locklear presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Harris.

After the award presentation and the reading of their orders, Harris relinquished command of 6th Fleet to Pandolfe, who greeted guests and his new staff.

"I am extremely impressed with what I have seen thus far," said Pandolfe. "Your initiative and drive led to success after success. Be assured, however, that many more challenges are just over the horizon and your skills will be tested again. I look forward to sailing with you on that journey."

Harris will serve as the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.

Pandolfe previously served as director, Surface Warfare division, on the Navy staff in Washington, where he led efforts to introduce the littoral combat ship to the Fleet, build the Zumwalt-class destroyer, and restart the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer line.