Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dempsey Tours Coast Guard’s Newest National Security Cutter

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By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 1, 2011 – Recognizing the importance of every possible U.S. national security asset, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff traveled here yesterday to get a personal tour of the newest Coast Guard national security cutter.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., landed by helicopter aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton as it transited up the Chesapeake Bay near here.

The 418-foot Legend-class vessel is the third of eight planned national security cutters built to carry out the most challenging maritime security, law enforcement and national defense missions, explained Coast Guard Capt. Charles Cushin, the ship’s first captain.

These Legend-class cutters will replace the aging 378-foot high-endurance cutters that have been in service since the 1960s, he said.

With larger flight decks, Stratton features state-of-the art command and control equipment and detection and defense capabilities against chemical, biological or radiological attack. In addition, advanced sensors provide intelligence to paint a common operating picture and enhance maritime domain awareness.

Dempsey said he welcomed the opportunity to learn about Stratton’s capabilities.

“One of the things we always talk about as service chiefs is [that] we need to provide the nation as many options as possible,” he said. “And getting to know what the Coast Guard can bring to the issue of national security has interested me greatly. So this trip out here just reinforces that.”

For Papp, who recalled serving on ships 30, 40, and in one case, 60 years old, the new Legend- class cutters represent a major step in the Coast Guard’s recapitalization efforts. “For a sailor like me, I love it,” he said.

“We have got just wonderful people … who are capable of getting great things out of old assets,” the commandant said. “But at the end of the day, they shouldn’t be forced to have to spend most of their time holding things together with old assets.

“We can take these great young men and women … and give them great modern tools so they can focus on their job, providing security and safety and stewardship of the oceans,” he continued. “So I am thrilled to see each one of these as they come off the line, and we can’t get the rest of them out there soon enough, as far as I am concerned.”

Current plans call for all eight national security cutters to be home-ported on the West Coast, but Papp said he’s reconsidering that decision, and that most likely, two will be based on the Atlantic Coast.

“I think there is still a need to have this capability on the East Coast, and probably it would not be so prudent to keep them all in the Pacific,” he said. “And the fact of the matter is, with the Panama Canal, you can get to most of our operating areas from places like Charleston [S.C.] or Miami almost quicker than you can from San Diego.”

While those plans are evaluated, Stratton’s 123-person crew is busy carrying out their inaugural cruise up the East Coast before heading to their new home port in Alameda, Calif. The first two national security cutters, Bertholf and Waesche, also are home-ported in Alameda.

Stratton will officially enter the Coast Guard’s operational fleet after being commissioned in March 2012.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who christened Stratton during July ceremonies in Pascagoula, Miss., praised the strength and tenacity of its namesake, Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who became the Coast Guard’s first female officer in 1942. Her inspiration lives on in today’s Coast Guard, the first lady said, as its members live up to their motto, “Always ready.”

Since leaving the Pascagoula shipyard in early October, Stratton’s crew has been busy learning the ship’s systems and establishing new standard operating procedures so they’re ready to do just that. Between drills and shipboard exercises, their inaugural cruise included stops in Pensacola, Fla., and Charleston before they headed up the Chesapeake Bay. Stratton is slated to arrive in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor today.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy Green, an operations specialist aboard Stratton, said he is still marveling that he got the opportunity to be part of its first crew.

“It’s pretty fantastic,” he said of Stratton. “We’re still learning how to use it to its full potential.”

Dempsey: Complex Threats Require Multiple Options

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By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 1, 2011 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s two most striking impressions after just a month on the job as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are the complexity of the issues facing the U.S. military and the caliber of the service members who volunteer to serve, knowing what will be asked of them.

 “The kind of threats that our nation faces are a lot less definable than … 10, 15, 20 years ago,” said Dempsey, who joined Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard commandant, yesterday aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton.

The security environment has become much more competitive, Dempsey said. He noted, for example, that some of the adversaries the Coast Guard works against in its counternarcotics mission are “as well-armed and as well-equipped and probably as well-trained as any nation state on the face of the Earth.”

What’s clear, the chairman said, is that the United States needs to take advantage of every available resource from across the national security framework to confront these and other security challenges.

“It’s about providing as many options as possible for the nation,” he said. “We don’t want to be a one-trick pony.”

Dempsey noted that different authorities reside within different federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard, the FBI and the Defense Department.

“And I think that what makes us great is that we can bundle those,” he said. “We can use the appropriate tools for the appropriate job, and know that we can get the job done because we become far more interoperable.”

Papp said the Coast Guard brings special, niche capabilities to the national security picture, both at home and abroad. And although its historic role has been to provide wartime support to the Navy, it now lends these capabilities to broader Defense Department missions.

For the past eight years, for example, a squadron of six Coast Guard patrol boats has been providing security for offshore Iraqi oil platforms in the North Arabian Gulf, he said. In addition, Coast Guard units in Kuwait’s Aishwarya port are providing security as military equipment is on- and off-loaded.

“These provide capabilities that the Defense Department then does not have to provide for or worry about, because they can rely on the Coast Guard,” Papp said.

This additional source of capability is particularly valuable in light of constrained budgets, the commandant said, noting that he strives to develop “complementary, yet nonredundant, capabilities” within the Coast Guard.

“There is no reason we should try to duplicate some of the things that reside in the other four services,” he said. “But where we can help out, [we] then focus on those mission areas so we can be of assistance.”

Dempsey said he’s seen many of the Coast Guard’s contributions firsthand – as commander overseeing the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces and as acting commander of U.S. Central Command – and welcomed the opportunity yesterday to learn more about Coast Guard capabilities.

Just as important, Dempsey said, was the chance to meet the Coast Guard members who provide those capabilities.

“The hardware is important, clearly. We want to overmatch whatever adversary we encounter, whether it is a nation state, non-state actor or criminal groups,” he said. “And we do that through our hardware, but it is truly about people.”

Dempsey said his first month as the nation’s top military officer has reinforced his pride in the quality of people who volunteer to serve their country.

“Every place I go, in every service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard – the quality of the young men and women in uniform is just a treasure,” he said. “We have no idea as a nation how fortunate we are.”

Dempsey said he has traveled around much of the world and seen many different militaries. All have their own skills and attributes and connection with their societies, he said. “I am just awfully proud to be the chairman of this particular armed force at this particular time in our history,” the chairman added.

CPO-365 Training Session Held at GTMO

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Bill Mesta, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Members of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba's Chiefs' Mess and First Class Petty Officers' Mess conducted a training session to prepare the first class petty officers for advancement, Oct. 27.

The training session was held in support of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy's (MCPON) CPO-365 program which is designed to prepare first class petty officers for the transition to chief petty officer.

"The basic idea behind CPO 365 is to get the first class petty officer mess ready to advance to chief," said Navy Counselor 1st Class Abigail Greenleaf, of the naval station's Command Career Counselor's office. "The Initial phase is to identify all the first classes and begin training."

CPO 365 is a three phased program which culminates with the chief petty officer induction season.

"The training session was part of one of the CPO 365 program and included the NS Guantanamo Bay command master chief's expectations of prospective chief petty officers because all of our first class petty officers are geared towards advancing to the chief petty officer ranks," said Chief Navy Counselor Robert Pagtakhan, the naval station's CPO 365 coordinator.

The training sessions are held monthly at the naval station.

"CPO-365 is a combination of training, networking and events that are designed to unite the first class petty officers and the chief petty officers," said Pagtakhan. "We are striving to create an environment that transition into the chief petty officer induction season, once the selection results are released in August."

In addition to monthly training sessions, physical fitness sessions, social events and combined sporting events are held at the naval station.

"The second phase of CPO 365 will begin once the Navywide advancement exam results come out," said Greenleaf. "Those first class petty officers who are determined to be 'board eligible' will continue on in the program during this phase with more preparation to get them ready should we be selected as chiefs.

"This program is providing insight for first class petty officers in terms of knowledge and expectations when we advance to chief," said Greenleaf. "The chiefs are able to identify issues with first class petty officers early and get them steered in the right direction towards advancement."

The CPO 365 also gives the first class petty officers an opportunity to build networking skills.

"By getting to know the chiefs better, we learn who we should turn to for information about different situations we encounter as first class petty officers," said Greenleaf. "Coming up through the Navy, we really aren't taught networking, but the chief's mess runs off of networking so this skill is going to be very helpful."

The training session included a brief about the 'Perform to Serve' (PTS) program which was presented by Greenleaf.

"We provided an overview of what PTS is, how the system works and broke down the different items that are taken into consideration to determine a Sailor's future retention," said Greenleaf. "This information was important for this audience because as chiefs and first class petty officers, we are guiding our Sailors' careers and need to understand the programs and how they affect them."

Wisconsin Soldiers depart Indiana for Germany, Kosovo

By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
Wisconsin National Guard

Approximately 200 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers have arrived at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany for three additional weeks of training before deploying to Kosovo.

Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 32nd Military Police Company, 238th Aviation Regiment and 248th Aviation Support Battalion, having completed mobilization training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., have teamed up with Soldiers from at least seven other states to form Multi-National Battle Group-East, a component of Kosovo Force 15 totaling more than 600 Soldiers.

"These Soldiers have gained invaluable training over the last two months - training that simulates scenarios they may face in Kosovo," said Col. Jeffrey Liethen, KFOR 15 commander. "I believe they've taken their training seriously and proven to 1st Army they are deployment ready."

Capt. Luella Dooley-Menet, commander of the aviation task force, said her team of aviators - who expect to get at least three calls a week for patient and medical supply transfer in Kosovo - are right on pace with training at Camp Atterbury.

"Everyone is doing very well and I'm happy with the way things are going," she said.

Dooley-Menet said her team has applied a crawl-walk-run philosophy to their training. The Soldiers, from the West Bend-based 238th Aviation Regiment and 248th Aviation Support Battalion, are currently being validated on flying night missions by 1st Army - the organization that certifies all units are competent to perform the mission prior to deploying.

Spc. Taria Johnson, of the 32nd Military Police Company, last deployed to Iraq in 2009 where her unit was mostly responsible for detainee operations. She said she is thrilled with the training accomplished at Atterbury.

"It's actually nice to do actual military police operations." Johnson said. "We have true scenarios for the mission we're going to do."

The MPs will be responsible for all of the law enforcement on post. Nine 32nd MP Soldiers have also been selected to the protective services detachment and will be responsible for safeguarding all distinguished visitors on the post.

Leaders from the Wisconsin National Guard visited with KFOR 15 Soldiers at Camp Atterbury Tuesday, Oct. 25.

"Your job is unbelievably important … so take this time to learn as much as you can," Command Sgt. Maj. George Stopper said to a group of Soldiers.

The bulk of the Wisconsin Soldiers are members of the 157th MEB, which includes military police, civil affairs, engineering, signal and chemical units. The MEB, along with its headquarters company, will oversee operations for the entire Multi-National Battle Group-East, which also includes units from Armenia, Greece, Poland, Turkey, Romania and the Ukraine.

"These Soldiers may have come from many different units but, after training here together, they are leaving as one collective unit," Liethen said. "I am proud of their commitment and progress, and I am proud to serve with them as part of Multi-National Battle Group-East."