Thursday, October 27, 2011

Australian Military Visits NECC Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven C. Hoskins, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (NNS) -- Twenty-eight members of the Australian navy, army, and air force visited Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) Oct. 24.

Australian Forces met with Sailors from the expeditionary community to see how they operate and to learn about NECC capabilities.

"We wanted to visit NECC as part of our Australian Command and Staff course," said Australian navy Lt. Cmdr. Glen Price. "Australia is looking to add expeditionary forces in the future so being able to see NECC capabilities will give us a bigger picture and aid us in working better as coalition forces."

The tour included hands-on displays of NECC forces along with demonstrations of explosive ordnance disposal robots, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), dive equipment and riverine boats.

"It's amazing to see all the capabilities that NECC has and all the different parts that go together successfully," said Australian navy Cmdr. Rebecca Jeffcoat.

Australian forces plan to take what they learned back to their operating commands.

"One of the biggest gaps in our forces that NECC has is riverine forces," said Jeffcoat. "I plan to make the riverine capabilities one of my topics in my report along with the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). I think those items could be used in [the] Australian navy."

NECC serves as the single functional command for the Navy's expeditionary forces and as central management for the readiness, resources, manning, training and equipping of those forces. NECC forces include riverines; naval construction; explosive ordnance disposal; maritime expeditionary Security; Expeditionary intelligence; expeditionary Logistics; maritime civil affairs; security force assistance; expeditionary combat readiness and expeditionary training.

"Australian forces here today are very appreciative of the hospitality that NECC has shown our forces," said Jeffcoat. "We look forward to visits like this in future."

World War II Veteran to Perform Time Honored Commissioning Role

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By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- A World War II veteran who served aboard the submarine USS Batfish (SS 310) will pass the "long glass," a tradition to signify the start of the first watch, during the commissioning ceremony aboard the Virginia-class submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit California (SSN 781) Oct. 29.

Dr. Joseph Cox, former national president of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Organization will be passing the "long glass" to Pre-Commissioning Unit California's first officer of the deck.

Cox will pass the long glass to Lt. j.g. Kyle Jones, from Knob Noster, Mo.

"Dr. Cox has been very active from day one as it relates to the commissioning of PCU California," said Bill Huesmann, director of the commissioning support team.

Huesmann is coordinating the Virginia-class submarine's commissioning and working with Cmdr. Dana Nelson, California's commanding officer, on the best person to perform this pivotal role.

"On the captain's behalf, I asked Dr. Cox if he would be willing to perform this time honored tradition during the ceremony," said Huesmann.

Some would say Cox has lived a storied life full of highs and lows from living through the Great Depression, to enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II at the age of 18 to earning both a master's and doctoral degree in education.

"I'm very excited about it and to be a part of the commissioning," said Cox.

When asked what advice the sage veteran has for the crew of the newest Virginia-class submarine, Cox replied, "Try to do the job the best you can, and you will succeed."

The 86-year old World War II veteran will arrive in Norfolk Oct. 28 to participate in the pre-commissioning activities.

Cox has resided in California since 1935 when his parents moved there from Booneville, Ark. during the Great Depression.

California will be commissioned Oct. 29 at Naval Station Norfolk. The ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m., will be streamed live on

Once California is commissioned it will become the seventh U.S. Navy ship - and the first submarine - to bear the name of the great state of California.

Wisconsin National Guard unit trains for Kosovo mission

By Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten
Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs

EDINBURGH, Ind. - Spc. Michelle J. Weissinger squinted her eyes as wind and cold rain pelted her face. The weather is typical of Indiana in late fall and early winter - but more than that, it is typical of where she is training to deploy to Kosovo, right down to the hilly and wooded terrain.

Weissinger, a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, is at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center training to deploy with Multinational Battle Group East Kosovo Force 15 this month. The approximately 150 members of the 157th MEB were notified March 6 of a potential deployment, and sendoff ceremonies were held Sept. 16 and 24.

While in Kosovo, the 157th MEB will serve as the brigade headquarters for Multi-National Battle Group East, referred to as Task Force Falcon. They will command foreign military units from Poland, Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Ukraine and Romania, as well as more than 700 U.S. Soldiers from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Georgia, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wyoming.

"It's a three-pronged mission," said Col. Jeffrey J. Liethen, an Onalaska, Wis., native and KFOR 15 commander. "We monitor the pulse of the populace, so to speak, keeping track of the feelings and opinions of the people. We also act as third responders to demonstrations and riots, and maintain freedom of movement for other KFOR forces."

According to Sgt. Angie J. Gross - a Bismarck, N.D., native and human resources specialist with the aviation element of KFOR 15 - one of the biggest benefits of coming to train together at Camp Atterbury is that everyone has learned how to work as one team.

"When we all first got here, everyone had their own little cliques. We are all from different places and even different states altogether," Gross said. "Now, you see the entire KFOR coming together. You see little things, like how many people sit together at chow time. We are really all coming together."

Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center is the only mobilization site in the United States for American forces training for missions in Kosovo. Besides the installation's historical expertise as a world-class training site, the weather and the terrain are all very similar to what Soldiers will encounter in Kosovo. "The support we have received here from the installation cadre has been excellent," Liethen said. "I would encourage other units to train here."

KFOR 15 will continue to train at Atterbury until they are ready to leave for Kosovo. Weissinger said, however, that she feels she is ready to go today.

"Our National Guard Soldiers have been trained on crowd and riot control, reacting to improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordinance, and law and order." Liethen said. "Our aviation task force has been practicing troop movements and sling loads, and the aviation and medical facilities here at Atterbury closely resemble what we will have in Kosovo."