Military News

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Military Contract December 27, 2011

NAVY
Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $485,000,000 not-to-exceed cost-plus-fixed-fee undefinitized modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-10-C-0002). A total of $131,500,000 is being obligated at time of award. This modification provides the F-35 Lightning II, Joint Strike Fighter Low Rate Initial Production Lot V production non-recurring requirements inclusive of special tooling/special test equipment and subcontractor technical assistance for the Air Force, Navy, and the Cooperative Partner participants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (30 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (20 percent); Wharton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Turin, Italy (15 percent); Nashua, N.H. (8 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (7 percent). Work is expected to be completed in December 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force ($186,725,000; 38.5 percent); the U.S. Navy ($186,725,000; 38.5 percent); and the Cooperative Partner participants ($111,550,000; 23 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $253,000,000 modification to definitize the previously awarded F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Low Rate Initial Production IV sustainment undefinitized contract action (N00019-09-C-0010). This contract has both cost-plus-incentive-fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract line items. This modification provides for recurring and non-recurring sustainment for the Navy, the Air Force, and the Cooperative Program participants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (35 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Orlando, Fla. (10 percent); Nashua, N.H. (5 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (5 percent). Work is expected to be completed in May 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $169,686,815 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the Navy ($140,300,000; 55.5 percent); the Air Force ($89,100,000; 35.2 percent); and the Cooperative Program participants ($23,600,000; 9.3 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., McKinney, Texas, is being awarded $49,900,000 for ceiling priced repair delivery order 7000 under previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00383-10-G-003D) for the repair of 40 weapons replaceable assembly/shop replaceable assembly for the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared System used in support of the F/A-18 aircraft. Work will be performed in McKinney, Texas (70 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (25 percent); and El Segundo, Calif. (5 percent). Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. The applicable 2012 Navy Working Capital Funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This was a sole-source soliciation. The Naval Supply Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity.

DRS Tactical Systems, Inc., Melbourne, Fla., is being awarded a $48,637,000 fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of Joint Platform Tablet (JPT) systems and related components to upgrade and enhance the capabilities of the currently fielded systems. The JPT provides a common interface between all command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems within the Family of Special Operations Vehicles platforms by providing users with the ability to control and monitor all communications, navigational, command and control, and intelligence gathering systems. Work will be performed in Melbourne, Fla., and is expected to be completed in December 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.301-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-12-D-0007).

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $45,588,204 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for design agent engineering and technical support services for Phalanx, SeaRAM, and Land-based Phalanx Weapon Systems. The Phalanx Close-In Weapon System is a fast-reaction terminal defense against low- and high-flying, high-speed maneuvering anti-ship missile threats that have penetrated all other defenses. Operating either autonomously or integrated with a combat system, it is an automatic terminal defense weapon system designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy anti-ship missile threats penetrating outer defense envelopes. The design agent engineering and technical support services are required for maintainability, reliability, and improvements. Funds in the amount of $726,000 will be provided at contract award. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by January 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-12-C-5405).

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $30,221,470 fixed-price-incentive, cost-plus-fixed-fee order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-07-G-0008) for non-recurring engineering and testing efforts for the redesigned mid-wing avionic units in support of the CV-22 and MV-22 aircraft. The mid-wing avionic units include the vibration structural life and engine diagnostics airborne unit, the fuel management unit, and the drive system interface unit. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (99 percent), and Philadelphia, Pa. (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $30,221,470 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Portsmouth, R.I., is being awarded a $21,066,612 not-to-exceed letter contract for fiscal 2012 NATO Seasparrow surface missile systems MK 57 MOD 12/13, guided missile launching system MK 29 MOD 5, and assorted spares. Funds in the amount of $4,087,434 are obligated at time of award. This contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to $26,350,589. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, R.I., and is expected to be completed by September 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured as there is only one responsible source to satisfy agency requirements. Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-12-C-5404).

Argon ST, Smithfield, Pa., is being awarded a $14,792,994 firm-fixed-priced indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for procurement of four AN/SLQ-25A/C systems and spare parts. AN/SLQ-25A/C is a digitally controlled, modular design, electro-acoustic softkill countermeasure decoy system. The system defends ships against wake homing, acoustic homing, and wire guided torpedoes. Funds in the amount of $5,894,689 will be provided at contract award. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (66 percent), and under the Foreign Military Sales Program, the government of Canada (34 percent). The work will be performed in Smithfield, Pa., and is expected to be completed by December 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-12-D-6216).

Northrop Grumman Guidance and Electronics Co., Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif., is being awarded an $8,880,685 firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-11-G-0016) for 52 GEN II mission computers for the H-1 upgrades Lot 9 production aircraft. Work will be performed in Woodland, Calif., and is expected to be completed in January 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Owego, N.Y., is being awarded an $8,400,000 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-06-D-0012) in support of the Pakistan Upgrade Program (PUP) for the P-3 aircraft. This effort includes Phase Depot Maintenance Phase I for aircraft 505; removal and replacement of engines for A/C 505 and 511; and support costs associated with a schedule extension to the PUP Plus effort. Work will be performed in Greenville, S.C. (65 percent), and Owego, N.Y. (35 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, N.Y., is being awarded a $6,924,496 modification to a delivery order placed against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00421-05-G-0001) to exercise an option for sustainment, engineering, and technical services, and travel in support of Taiwan Air Force E-2C aircraft under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y. (70 percent), and Pingtung Air Force Base, Taiwan (30 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE
All Native Services, Winnebago, Neb., is being awarded an $84,000,000 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for technical data support services. The location of the performance is Robins Air Force Base, Ga. Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. WR-ALC/PKOA, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8501-12-D-0001).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
LB&B Associates, Inc., Columbia, Md., was awarded a fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract with a minimum $15,172,546 for operation and maintenance of government fixed fuel and cryogenics facilities, aviation aircraft fuel services, cryogenics storage and distribution operations and ground vehicle fuel services. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. There were five responses to the solicitation. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2012 through 2017 Defense Working Capital Funds. The date of performance completion is March 31, 2017. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-12-C-5203).

Federal Prison Industries, Inc., doing business as UNICOR, Washington, D.C., was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum $14,919,701 for universal camouflage pattern and multi-cam pattern extreme cold wet weather trousers. Other location of performance is Kentucky. Using service is Army. There were nine responses to the solicitation. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2012 through 2013 Defense Working Capital Funds. The date of performance completion is May 30, 2013. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM1C1-12-C-F002).

The overseas overseers: Yokota's incident commanders

by Airman 1st Class John D. Partlow
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


12/27/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- When an incident occurs on a base, such as an active shooter situation or major vehicle accident, many different organizations come together to resolve the situation. The person in charge of these operations on the scene is the incident commander.

As incident commander, they oversee and direct the responders working to contain the situation. They also work closely with the emergency operation center, ensuring base leadership has correct and current information.

The specific duties of an incident commander can range from being in charge of building evacuations to making sure Airmen working in the affected area have plenty of food and water.

"Being the incident commander can be very stressful," said Master Sgt. Jon Ammon, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of operations, "but we are well trained by some of the best schools and courses in the world. The incident command system is a relatively new, mandated system for civilian first responders back in the U.S., but the Air Force has been practicing ICS for years, so we are very well trained and experienced."

On Dec. 6, 2011, two incident commanders at Yokota were faced with a situation that required not only their expertise, but also the assistant of many military members to include fellow service members from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

During a dig at a construction site here, a World War II-era unexploded ordnance was discovered. After being notified of the situation, Master Sgt. James Beasley, 374th CES assistant chief of operations, and Ammon began taking shifts as incident commanders.

The incident commanders began sending Airmen from the 374th Security Forces Squadron to evacuate the area near the bomb site.

After a cordon was established around the site, an explosive ordnance disposal team from Yokosuka, helped relieve the situation.

"Our initial priority was to isolate the site," said Ammon. "We wanted everyone safe and away from the UXO. Once we isolated the area, we shifted our focus to EOD and how best to support them."

With the EOD team's guidance, 374th CES members carefully placed wood, sandbags and sand on top of the site to suppress the blast.

The EOD team detonated the UXO shortly thereafter, and the cordon around the site was soon lifted. The operation went without incident because of the coordination of the involved Yokota members.

"No one got hurt so it went well," said Beasley.

While incidents could happen at virtually any time, Yokota members can rest assured knowing that Yokota personnel are standing by, waiting to take command and control.

"I love my job," said Beasley. "I get paid to do a job and hold a position that is so fulfilling personally, and I couldn't ask for anything more."

SARM: Where the rubber meets the road

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/26/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The aviation resource managers of Kunsan seem to do many things, but most importantly, they make sure the pilots of the 8th Fighter Wing can fly and complete their mission.

The host aviation resource management and wing scheduling offices do many things, but when it comes right down to it, some would say they're too far from the squadrons.

Lucky for the team, that's alright; as the Air Force has ensured each squadron under the wing have their own "one charlies" to assist as the pack takes the fight north.

"We have a very crucial component of the Air Operations supporting the Wolf Pack mission," said Master Sgt. Kalana Murdock, 35th Fighter Squadron superintendent. "We ensure pilots are fully qualified to fly."

Sound familiar? Well it is in a sense, but what the squadron aviation resource managers do is much more personable. Staff Sgt. Darious Williams, 80th Fighter Squadron aviation resource management NCO in charge, said he gets to interact with the pilots and maintainers more.

"We're actually in there with the pilots," the sergeant said. "We have to learn more about the aircraft and the lingo involved."

"This is where everything happens," added Senior Airman Mauricio Murcia, 80th FS ARM journeyman. "HARM is like the hub and we're where the day-to-day operations take place."

Tying it all together, SARM not only interacts directly with core HARM responsibilities, but also with those of wing scheduling as well.

"The SARM office is also utilized in the process of tracking flying hours that are used to determine (for the fiscal year) what the squadron will ultimately receive in funding by the Air Force to conduct flying operations," said Senior Airman Sterling Williams, 35th FS ARM journeyman. "The SARM offices are also the main focal point for dispersing information to third parties such as maintenance, wing scheduling, base operations, and other parties involved in getting pilots to their jet to complete the mission and return back safely in order to complete future missions."

Completing future missions and saving the Air Force valuable resources is very important, especially this day in age. And according the 35th's Williams, SARM is at the front, leading the pack.

"Working in the SARM gives 1Cs a great opportunity to be at the 'tip of the spear' in flying operations," he said. "Our career consists of understanding what the pilots need in order to fly. For example, we track life support equipment training and intelligence briefings for 'Go or No-Go' to fly requirements."

"As a 1C you are actually part of the fight directly," Murdock added. "We support the war fighters in either checking flying currencies to working as the focal point of squadron operations [operations desk]."

As put by many of those working in SARM, they are the "eyes and ears for flying and training operations".

"We ensure there are checks and balances in reference to aircrew training requirements are in line with Air Force Instructions," said Master Sgt. Kevin McFadden, 80th FS operations superintendent. "Our job is to inform the director of operations of the status of our pilots."

The SARM office is used for tracking information and resources such as ground training, flying training, types of sorties and missions that have been completed, etc. Having the SARM office also helps document what the squadron has done so far (missions, etc.), and is essential for the training and evaluations offices. For example, both sections use our data to determine if the squadron is on the right path to being combat ready.

"Working in SARM really has given me a full-circle look at the mission," said the 80th's Williams.

"What we do directly influences the mission readiness of our pilots, and ultimately the safety of our country," Murcia added. "We ensure our pilots are fully capable and trained to provide for and defend our country."

Panetta 'Will Not Tolerate' Bullying, Hazing

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2011 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta added a pointed anti-bullying directive to a holiday message sent Dec. 23 to service members around the world.

"I cannot be more proud of who you are and what you represent as you serve and sacrifice for our great nation," the message read, in part. "With that honor, is the responsibility to show by example our core values that demand we treat everyone with dignity and respect at all times.

"In that vein, let me be clear," the secretary continued. "I will not tolerate any instance where one service member inflicts any form of physical or psychological abuse that degrades, insults, dehumanizes or injures another service member."

Panetta directed military commanders to "personally review" policies and ensure compliance.

"This has my personal attention, as we continue our combat mission in Afghanistan, transition from our campaign in Iraq, and continue our global presence performing our nation's duties," the secretary wrote. "I need you to continue to make this a priority within your commands as this has a direct impact on our force readiness."

Members of the Defense Department and the services "will protect each other through fair, scrupulous, and unbiased treatment as individuals -- caring for them, teaching them and leading them," Panetta wrote. "It is the obligation of each member in the chain of command to ensure hazing is not allowed and that all service members are treated, at all times, with genuine dignity, fairness, and respect."

The Army Dec. 21 charged eight soldiers allegedly involved in the death of Army Pvt. Danny Chen. Chen, an infantryman deployed to southern Afghanistan with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, was found dead in a guard tower Oct. 3 from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke out strongly against hazing and bullying after the charges were announced. In a message posted to Facebook and Twitter Dec. 22, he wrote that while instances of hazing appear to be isolated, the practice is "simply intolerable."

"It undermines our values, tarnishes our profession and erodes the trust that bonds us," the chairman added.

The secretary's message to troops ended with his thanks for their work."

Kunsan CSA chosen to join AF Thunderbirds

by Senior Airman Jessica Hines
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/26/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Staff Sgt. Travis Kennison, 8th Communications Squadron client systems assistant NCO in charge, was recently named one of the newest members on the Air Force's premier aerobatic demonstration team, the Thunderbirds.

Chosen for his expertise and knowledge on computer systems and virtual private networking, Kennison will serve in one of only a few select positions assisting Thunderbird crew team members and commanders with all their client systems administrator needs.

Made up of 12 pilots and more than 120 enlisted members, the premier demonstration squadron requires the commitment and expertise of a broad range of career specialties. Setting up VPNs allow commanders and staff the ability to access emails and important documents while on the road, and with the Thunderbirds extensive travel commitments, proper and secure networking capabilities are a must.

During the lengthy application process, Kennison submitted a formal application package and took part in a phone interview to determine his qualifications.

"They're high profile, you have to have your stuff straight," said Kennison. "It's going to be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it."

Kennison, a former broadcast maintenance technician, has nearly finished his one year tour at Kunsan Air Base and feels confident in all he has learned since joining the career field.

"He was my first choice to be the assistant NCO in charge of the CST shop," said Tech. Sgt. Heather McConaghy, 8th CS CST NCO in charge, making note of his ability to handle many tasks and under strict deadlines with persistence, integrity and a strong work ethic.

"We are all very excited for him and know he will do an awesome job!" she added.

Kennison leaves for Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in February, home of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, where he will be joined by his wife and children for a three year commitment to the team.

"I still have a lot of unanswered questions myself," said Kennison, referring to all the details of the position he will be holding and all of his responsibilities as a CSA with the Thunderbirds. "I'm just going into it with an open mind."

Kennison had the full support of his office and leadership when he applied for the job, which was apparent in his commander's recommendation to the Thunderbirds.

"Travis's accomplishments speak for themselves ... bottom line: He is a proven and recognized manager and top NCO leader in multiple fields," said Maj. Brian Snyder, 8th CS commander.

Unabashedly, Kennison admitted to doing a cartwheel when he saw the news of his acceptance through an email.

"I just stood straight up and did a cartwheel in the middle of the room," said Kennison. "My supervisor didn't even have to ask why; she just said, 'you must have been accepted to the Thunderbirds.'"

Commentary - OPERATION BOLO: The Wolf Pack gets its name

by Howard E. Halvorsen
7th Air Force Historian


12/27/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Operation Bolo was born within the context of Operation Rolling Thunder, which went on from March 2, 1965 to Nov. 1, 1968.

Operation Rolling Thunder was the most intense air and ground battle waged during the Cold War period and was fought during the Vietnam War. During the last months of 1966 the MiG-21s of the Vietnam People's air force became very active and were successfully intercepting the F-105 Thunderchiefs', or "Thuds", formations of the U.S. Air Force which were flying missions for Rolling Thunder. The number of F-105 supersonic fighter-bomber planes lost to the MiGs worried the U.S., so the Air Force decided to make an important effort to neutralize the MiG threat: the effort known as Operation Bolo.

The idea and planning of this operation was the masterpiece of a living legend among the U.S. F-4 Phantom pilots in Southeast Asia: Col. Robin Olds.

He was a P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang Ace during World War II, credited with 12 kills against the German Luftwaffe in 1944 and 1945, and now - at 44 years old - he was the commanding officer of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing.

He was an old-fashioned fighter pilot: impulsive, rough, hard-drinking, but a natural leader and an intuitive tactician. It was said the sign over his door read, "Peace Is Not Our Profession", in mocking reference to Strategic Air Command's motto. His vice commander was Col. Daniel James, who went on to become not only the Air Force's first African American four-star general, but in any American military service. In those less-inhibited times, the men of the 8th TFW openly referred to this great duo as "Blackman and Robin."

Olds realized the F-105 and F-4 formations used the same approaches time after time, and that the signals intelligence analysts in Hanoi had become experts in identifying the more vulnerable F-105s from the F-4s by their radio frequencies and call signs. Olds decided to fly a large F-4 formation using the same routes, altitude, and call signs as the F-105s. By doing this, he hoped the MiG-21s would be guided toward them expecting to find slower Thunderchiefs, and when they realized the truth it would be too late. To further convince the enemy, the wing modified its aircraft to carry electronic countermeasures pods previously used only on the F-105s.

The operational plan was presented to Gen. William Momyer, 7th Air Force commander, on Dec. 22, 1966. Momyer approved the plan, which was assigned the code name "Bolo" after the cane-cutting machete that doubled as a Filipino martial arts weapon. Sharp and deadly, the Filipino bolo does not appear to be a weapon until the opponent is drawn in too close to evade. This was the intent of the plan - to draw the MiGs into the Phantoms' kill zone and strike while the VPAF were still expecting to find the less-dangerous F-105s.

The D-Day of Bolo was Jan. 2, 1967. Olds presented the plan to his pilots as being one where they would be wolves in sheep's clothing. His last words to them were, "alright you Wolf Pack, let's go get'em."

The attack was an unprecedented success and was the most successful aerial battle of the war. Flying with call signs derived from American cars of the period; Ford, Rambler, and (inevitably for the CO's flight) Olds, the 8th TFW caught them completely by surprise. Assistance was given by the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, who was covering possible MiG withdrawal routes.

Between seven and nine enemy MiG-21s were shot down that day, depending on who did the counting. The VPAF was grounded for several months for fear of losing all their planes while teaching their pilots updated tactics. Bob Hope, while on tour, referred to the 8th TFW as the "greatest distributor of MiG parts in the world."

The 8th TFW has been known as the Wolf Pack ever since.

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 27

1814 - Destruction of schooner Carolina, the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson's make-shift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans. After loss of craft, the naval guns were mounted on shore to continue the fight.

Lincoln Sailors Receive Holiday Mail


USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) received more than 77,000 pounds of holiday mail during a vertical replenishment at sea, Dec. 20.

Logistics specialists assigned to the Lincoln postal office and volunteers from around the ship sorted the 36 pallets of packages and letters by departments to ensure all the Sailors received their mail.

Chief Logistics Specialist Brent Lewis, Lincoln's postal officer, emphasized the importance of getting holiday mail to Sailors as efficiently as possible.

"For some Sailors, it's their first time being away from home and missing the holidays," Lewis said. "So to make it up to them, we bring Christmas to them ahead of schedule. And we won't tell their loved ones if they open their gifts early."

Lewis has been deployed before, and he knows firsthand the morale boost a holiday package or letter can give a Sailor.

"Just the feel of opening a box is joyful, and the excitement of finding out what's inside is even more of a thrill," he said.

Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Jennifer Brenke, assigned to Lincoln's personnel support detachment, said the efforts of the postal team will ensure the holidays are happier for Sailors like her.

"Being away from home, one simple package can mean the whole world to someone," Brenke said. "It just means that your family is looking out for you. Even though we're miles away, we can still be connected by one little box."

Lincoln, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, is currently deployed to the 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibilities.

CSG 9 is comprised of Lincoln, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, which includes guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).

Sailors, Marines and Santa Bring Gifts to Singapore Children during Port Visit


SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with a surprise visitor from the North Pole, brought holiday gifts to children at the "Child at Street 11" care center in Singapore, Dec. 22.

The event was part of a scheduled community service project during the ship's port visit, and Chief Warrant Officer Marc Lefebvre saw the opportunity to bring smiles to children's faces.

He dressed as Santa Claus and presented gifts to the children, along with other Sailors and Marines from Makin Island.

"Even though I don't get to be with my kids, it's nice to still be with kids and celebrate this time of year," said Lefebvre. "Most of the community service projects I've done involve a lot of maintenance and upkeep, but one the unique thing about this one was that you got to see the reaction of what it meant to the people you were helping, and I think the kids really enjoyed it."

Lulu Suresh, an English teacher at the center, said having special visitors is memorable for the children.

"At Street 11, the children basically come from disadvantaged, dysfunctional families," said Suresh. "So when they saw Santa Claus coming, you could really see their excitement, and hear it too."

"Once he sat down, they were trying to figure out if he was the real Santa, taking his hat off and having lots of fun," she added.

One Makin Island Sailor, who speaks Chinese-Mandarin, interacted with a group of girls using two languages during the event.

"In Chinese, we did a simple introduction-'What's your name? Where are you from? and how old are you?' but they wanted to practice their English too," said Logistics Specialist Seaman Danni Li.

"They also told me they were so surprised to see us, and they said they were so happy to get lots of gifts this Christmas," Li added.

After Santa gave each child a present, the children opened their gifts with help from the Sailors and Marines and spent the rest of the time playing together.

"We basically made the children a little bit happier, for one day at least," said Sgt. Jared Buell, assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). "Coming here and just seeing their facial expressions, receiving the gifts, it was a good thing."

Buell shared a photo of his own children with the Street 11 kids and said he was happy to see some youthful smiles this time of year.

"I wanted to help out and be around children," said Buell. "Not being around mine, I felt like this was a good thing to do, since I'm missing some big seasons being away from home."

For their appreciation of the gifts, the children presented the most senior military member in attendance, Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla II, commander of Amphibious Squadron 5, with a photo plaque.

Child at Street 11 is a multi-racial, secular, independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping low-income and dysfunctional families provide quality early years for their children.

Makin Island and the embarked 11th MEU departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), supporting the nation's maritime strategy.

The mission of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.

DOD Releases Sexual Assault Report, Announces New Policies

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2011 - Defense Department officials today released the "Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies," covering the academic year from June 1, 2010, to May 31, 2011.

The report shows an increase in reports of sexual assault, with 65 reports of sexual assault involving cadets and midshipmen, compared to 41 reports in the previous academic year.

"One sexual assault is one too many," Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a DOD news release.

"Whether it's in our academies or our ranks, at sea or ashore, there's no place for this unacceptable behavior," he continued. "We treat each other with dignity in this institution. I expect everyone in this department to live up to that high standard."

In the release, Air Force Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, director of the department's sexual assault prevention and response office, stressed the importance of accountability and for victim support.

"We know that the military academies are similar to college campuses around the country in that sexual harassment and assault are challenges that all faculty, staff and students need to work to prevent," she said. "However, when it does occur, we owe it to those who have been victimized, and to every cadet and midshipman, to do everything possible to provide needed support and to hold those who commit sexual assault appropriately accountable."

During the comprehensive review outlined in the report, defense officials visited the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. They reviewed each institution's policies, training and procedures, and held focus groups with cadets and midshipmen.

Officials found that most academy programs fulfilled or surpassed the requirements of existing DOD policies and directives.

"We also identified areas for improvement to enhance programs and ensure compliance with the department's policies," Hertog said. "In our oversight role, my office will follow up with the academies every six months to ensure the necessary improvements are implemented in a timely manner."

One required improvement is that academies evaluate and measure their sexual harassment and assault prevention programs.

Defense officials also today announced two new policies relating to sexual assault.

One allows a service member who makes an unrestricted report of a sexual assault to request an expedited transfer to a new duty station. A restricted report, which is confidential, allows a victim to seek medical aid and counseling but is not communicated to the chain of command.

The second new policy standardizes retention periods for sexual assault records across the military services to ensure victims have extended access to those documents.

"This is a leadership issue, first and foremost, so I also expect us to lead with integrity and with energy to eliminate sexual assault and harassment from our culture," Panetta said. "I'm confident the steps we are taking are the right ones, but we must continue to improve."

Makin Island Sailors and Marines Celebrate Christmas in Singapore


SINGAPORE (NNS) -- While there certainly wasn't snow in the forecast for the local climate, Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) still showed signs of holiday spirit by celebrating the Christmas holiday in Singapore, Dec. 25.

Most Sailors and Marines on liberty celebrated their holiday in Singapore with shopping, seeing movies, dining at local restaurants and sight seeing.

For Ships Serviceman 3rd Class Jose Plamarrero, getting out in town afforded him the opportunity to take advantage of technology to keep in touch with his family half a world away through Wi-Fi and Skype.

Those in the ship's duty section had the chance to attend religious services, watch football and Christmas movies, and eat a special turkey dinner prepared by the ship's food service division.

Sailors and Marines not on duty, but who choose to stay on the ship, used the holiday to relax, spend time with shipmates, do some laundry, and enjoy decorating the berthing where they live, which was the case for Private 1st Class Robert Mista assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

"A buddy of mine received some Christmas gifts in the mail, so we are going to decorate our berthing, hang out and watch movies and call home," said Mista.

Newly reporting Seaman Recruit Tania Blanco learned that the Navy's mission does not stop for the holidays when she arrived on the ship Christmas morning at 2 a.m.

There were no decorations to put out. Instead she spent her first Christmas aboard Makin Island putting her clothes away, meeting her shipmates and learning the ship.

Sailors and Marines aboard Makin Island said that spending holidays away from home are challenging but thanks to email, the postal system and international calling cards, staying connected is possible.

Makin Island and the 11th MEU departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), supporting the nation's maritime strategy.

Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.

Carl Vinson Celebrates Christmas at Sea


USS CARL VINSON, At sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 celebrated the holiday at sea with a Christmas dinner Dec. 25.

More than 4,000 Sailors gathered to feast on 6,000 pounds of food, ranging from roast pig and poached shrimp to mashed potatoes and stuffing.

"What we do is a morale booster for the crew," said Master Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Wilfred Cheong, Supply Department's S-2 Division leading chief petty officer. "I hope for all who celebrate Christmas, it will bring back memories of home."

The enlisted mess decks were adorned with red and green table cloths, Christmas trees and lights. Chief petty officers donned aprons and greeted each Sailor as they helped the galley crew serve the meal.

Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134 Command Master Chief (CMDCM) (SW/AW) William Goforth, volunteered his time to help in the scullery, collecting and washing dishes and utensils.

"I did my mess duty 29 years ago," he said. "I remember the scullery being a hard spot to work in so I took on the challenge of helping in one of the hardest jobs in the galley for Christmas. It shows we do know how tough it is, and it's a good way to say Happy Holidays."

As the crew satisfied their hunger with honey glazed ham and candied yams, holiday greetings from family members and friends back home played over the ship's internal television system. For many Vinson Sailors this was their second consecutive Christmas deployed.

"Despite being away from my family, this Christmas turned out really well," said Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Clive Lindsay, assigned to Reactor Department's Damage Control Division. "I spent time with my friends doing holiday arts and crafts, and we made a point to have Christmas dinner together."

Carl Vinson and CVW 17 are currently underway on a Western Pacific deployment.

USS Mesa Verde Celebrates Christmas Underway


USS MESA VERDE, At Sea (NNS) -- Deployed Sailors and Marines aboard USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) celebrated Christmas with fellow service members while deployed to the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility Dec. 24-25.

"It's a little bittersweet," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Keshia Gorby from Ashland, Ohio. "We're away from family, but on the other hand we figure out that they're people that care about us out here too."

The festivities began Christmas Eve with a prize giveaway sponsored by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. Prizes included Kindles, iPad2s, and gift cards to various retailers.

"I had never won anything so I was very excited to get a Kindle Touch," said Ship's Serviceman 1st Class (SW) Heather Mitchell from Bridgewater, Fla. "It's really good for everyone to win a prize just for being here. MWR has done a great job of making the holiday special."

The ship's SITE TV played traditional Christmas movies, and the ship's choir went caroling throughout the ship.

"This is my first time caroling, so I was a little nervous. But it was really fun bringing some Christmas cheer," said Cpl. Sermantha Clark, from Forest, Miss.

Christmas day started early as the command's religious ministry team opened with an ecumenical Christmas service.

"It is a really special holiday for a lot of people, so setting up for the service was really nice for everyone," said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class (FMF) Michael Sency from Kokomo, Ind.

Later that morning, Mesa Verde's divisions held a gift exchange, and service members unwrapped gifts together.

"It was really awesome putting together a 'secret Santa' for my department," said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) William Jae from Virginia Beach, Va. "I love Christmas, and I just wanted to make sure everyone had something to open Christmas day. We're all the family we have out here, so we have to make it special for each other, especially our junior guys who aren't used to being away from home for Christmas."

The ship's commanding officer opened up the 1-MC to play Christmas song requests, so Sailors and Marines could share their favorite holiday music. Free calling cards were also handed out, so Sailors and Marines could connect with family members back home.

"Being underway for Christmas is really unique," said Cmdr. John K. Reilley, commanding officer of Mesa Verde, from Port Jefferson, N.Y. "It's sad we can't be home, and I'm sure we would all trade this celebration to be with the ones we miss the most, but we make the best of the holiday and can't wait to be home with them."

The festivities ended that evening with a meal prepared by Mesa Verde's culinary specialists, which included traditional dishes such as ham, steak and an assortment of holiday cookies and pies.

"We always try to make the holidays special, and the meal is a big part of it," said Chief Culinary Specialist (SW) Stephen Meyer from St. Charles, Miss. "Everyone got involved in this meal. The chiefs and gunnery sergeants made the food, the officers served and the first classes took care of the floor. We were all really happy to make the holiday special."

"I like helping people, and it was nice to give the junior Sailors the night off," said Ensign Caitlin Kopp from Flagsville, Tenn. "It's just nice for them to enjoy Christmas and get a chance to socialize during the meal. I haven't had a chance to eat just yet, but I'd like to wish everyone a merry Christmas."

Mesa Verde is deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Whidbey Island and 22nd MEU Celebrate the Holidays Overseas


USS WHIDBEY ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) celebrated the holidays while deployed in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 25.

Despite being far from home, different organizations throughout the ship came together to sing Christmas carols, hold worship services, host a gift giveaway, hand out greeting cards, and create an elaborate holiday feast for the crew.

"We have been away from our families for a while now, and coming together as a ship to celebrate the holidays takes some of that sting away," said Cmdr. Eric L. Conzen, commanding officer. "We have grown close over the last nine months. Holiday meals, a very special Christmas Eve mail delivery, an MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) gift extravaganza, holiday routine, and phone calls home are just a few of the ideas the crew had to keep our spirits bright."

On Christmas Eve, amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) delivered 14,564 pounds of mail to Whidbey Island, providing the crew with many long-awaited holiday care packages from home. That night, first class petty officers volunteered to make and serve the traditional Saturday night pizza dinner to the crew, giving the ship's cooks a break before the holiday meal.

"I think everyone did a really great job trying to make the best out of a tough situation," said Engineman 3rd Class Annette Storms. "My favorite parts of the festivities were the gifts and the food, especially the fresh-baked bread."

The crew was also able to enjoy a little down time over the weekend in honor of the holiday. The ship's Junior Enlisted Association (JEA) handed out holiday cards and candy canes. The Religious Ministries department organized a special holiday worship service on Christmas Eve and followed with both Protestant and Catholic worship services Christmas morning.

"The camaraderie and fellowship of shipmates can overcome any obstacle," said Conzen. "All of the events we were engaged in over the holiday period came from suggestions from the crew and embarked Marines. Even though the nation's business has us away from our families at home, we can still enjoy the holidays with our 'family at sea.'"

One of the most anticipated events was the gift extravaganza hosted by the ship's MWR committee. The team raises money throughout the year by hosting fundraisers and the ship's store sales. This year they raised enough to spend more than $16,000 on gifts for the event.

"This give away is something that allows the Sailors and Marines to possibly receive a gift for the holidays. The holidays are normally spent with family and loved ones, and this is a little way we can get our 'military family' together to celebrate the holidays," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Evelyn Slater, president of the MWR committee. "It is a big morale booster not only to those who win the gifts, but the ones in the crowd cheering on for their friends. It can be tough to get into the holiday spirit while deployed, so we tried to bring as much of it out as we could. We even had a crew member dressed up as Santa."

Ten percent of all Sailors and Marines on board won gifts at the event, including LCD TVs, iPads, laptop computers, tablets, iPods, digital cameras, Wiis, Xbox 360s, Playstation 3s, Nintendo DSs, portable DVD players, surround sound systems, MP3 players, and much, much more. In addition to the electronics, they also gave away $100 gift cards, and one $800 Navy Exchange gift certificate.

"MWR Committee gets its support from the crew, so without everyone who has supported us throughout the deployment, this would not have been possible," said Slater. "I am very thankful to the crew for coming out and supporting their MWR."

Following the gift giveaway, the crew only had to wait a few hours before they could enjoy an elaborate holiday meal created by Sailors and Marines in the Supply department's S-2 division.

"While away from our families, friends and loved ones, we try our best to make all holidays as special as possible. Providing a great meal with all of the trimmings brings much joy and satisfaction to our crew, and boosts morale and camaraderie," said Lt. Ernesto Ureta, ship's supply officer. "I am blessed to have the best culinary specialists in the Navy on my food service team. The hard-working folks in our galley bake shop and mess decks really bring the holiday seasons to life with their superb culinary skills and talents.

The meal composed of prime rib, roasted turkey, baked ham, fresh-baked rolls, shrimp cocktail, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, corn and green bean casserole, assorted pies and ice cream, and many more traditional holiday favorites.

"It is my hope the crew takes away a sense of closeness and unity as we share our Christmas meal together," said Ureta. "We are more than a crew or team on this ship; we are a big diverse family that has endured many long days, overcome numerous trials and stand together to serve our country and support each other in all situations."

"The entire Blue/Green Team 41 has pulled together to make this a holiday to be remembered," said Conzen. "We can't be home with our families right now, but we will have many stories to tell them when we get home."

Whidbey Island is deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts is the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility.

Jefferson City Celebrates Christmas at Sea


USS JEFFERSON CITY, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard Los Angles attack submarine USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) participated in a special holiday celebration, Dec. 25.

The crew went to great lengths to keep the holiday spirit while remaining focused on their mission.

"During the last port visit in Bahrain, I put a lot of holiday music on my phone to help bring in the Christmas spirit," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Patrick Lopez.

Culinary specialists and temporarily assigned food service personnel served a holiday feast to the crew. The meal included lobster tails, turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, yams, and an assortment of pies, candy and cakes.

"The pecan pie is the best here, but I was really impressed when I saw there was eggnog," said Machinist's Mate Weaponry 2nd Class Norman Williams. "Our boat has the best chefs in our squadron."

Jefferson City wrapped up the holiday celebration with a few remarks from the Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Electronics Technician Steven Jennings.

"Deployment during the holidays is a challenging time for our Sailors to be away from their families. The crew has worked hard and looked forward to the holiday celebration together at sea."

Jefferson City is assigned to Commander, Task Force 54, which commands U.S. submarine forces and coordinates theater-wide anti-submarine warfare in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Bataan's Sailors, Marines Celebrate Holiday Season at Sea


USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines stationed aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) found different ways to celebrate the holidays while continuing to fulfill their mission Dec. 25.

Bataan is underway in the ninth month of a deployment which began three-and-a-half months early on March 23. The ship is currently in the Gulf of Aden. Bataan has been deployed for nine months and is on track to complete the longest deployment in more than 35 years. Crew members decorated office doors, workspaces, and berthings with holiday decorations. Bataan's commanding officer will award a prize to the division with the most creative decorations.

"After we hung the stockings, built the tree, and built a pretend fireplace, we were able to feel what time of year it is," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SW) Randall Howe. "The last thing we hung was a shop photo that we have come to call a family portrait. I guess it's true that Christmas can bring people together, even when you're deployed."

Bataan's Morale, Recreation and Welfare (MWR) program held raffles for Sailors and Marines, with prizes ranging from iPads to a Play Station 3 every day throughout December.

"It's important to bring the holiday spirit to the crew, because it's difficult to be away from home and friends and family during the holidays," said Meghan Heine, MWR coordinator. "Even though we're at sea, it's still the Christmas season. Everyone will be able to say they spent Christmas at sea, and in the future they should be able to look back and say it still felt like the holidays. And there were some similarities and normal holiday things that took place, such as the stockings we passed out to every Sailor and Marine -- all 2,400 of them. We also have Christmas movies playing on the mess decks."

Despite being so far from home and loved ones, MWR also gave Sailors and Marines a variety of ways to spread holiday cheer throughout the ship. Activities included stuffing stockings, making ornaments and Christmas caroling. Some of the ship's departments made special contributions to the crews' holiday season; Supply department's culinary specialists created a huge holiday meal for the crew that included traditional food items such as ham, turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato pie.

"A lot of hard work went into the meals that the crew enjoyed," said Lt.j.g. Jermaine Seals, Bataan's food service officer. "I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I saw the crew just smiling, laughing, and truly enjoying the meal and each others company."

Bataan's Religious Ministries Department held special holiday services, including a Christmas Eve ecumenical service that featured two ship's musicians leading Sailors and Marines in hymns and carols. The chaplains covered a variety of celebrations from Hanukkah to Christmas. Executive department is also featuring Christmas movies and new movie releases for Bataan to boost the morale of the crew.

"Our extended deployment started early, and it's running long. But through teamwork, this crew and the embarked Marines are finishing strong," said Capt. Erik M. Ross, Bataan's commanding officer. "We are supporting national tasking, and we will continue to do so during the holidays. But it's important to be able to take a few moments to remember our loved ones back home, and to remember why we need to continue to stand the watch at sea."

Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

USS Boxer Hosts 2011 Holiday Bowl Luncheon


SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) hosted the 34th Annual Navy/Marine Corps Luncheon Dec. 26, honoring both teams competing in this year's Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.

This year's bowl teams are the University of California Golden Bears and the University of Texas Longhorns football teams.

Nearly 1,000 players, coaching staff members and Boxer Sailors mingled in the ship's hangar bay for the event.

The program kicked off with a Battle of the Bands between the two universities' respective marching bands on pier 13 at Naval Base San Diego where Boxer is moored. The attendants then moved into the ship's hangar bay for a more solemn opening ceremony, including a live reenactment of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the parading of colors by Boxer's Color Guard, and the national anthem performed by Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Marqueta Rodgers who will also sing the anthem at the Holiday Bowl game.

While the luncheon honored both teams, attendees also took time to recognize the third team present: the Navy/Marine Corps team.

"I launched from this very ship into Afghanistan," said Bridgepoint Education Senior Vice President of Strategy Doug Abts, referring to his days as a Navy SEAL. "I feel very lucky to have played on that team."

"We feel like you guys give us the freedom to play football," agreed Longhorn linebacker Keenan Robinson, a senior at the University of Texas. "We play this game to honor you guys."

The luncheon saw the continuation of another Holiday Bowl tradition as two Boxer Sailors were selected by the teams' coaches to serve as honorary team captains, sitting with their teams at the game and even participating in the game's opening coin toss. Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford selected California native Machinist Mate 3rd Class Dustin Caldwell, while native Texan Quartermaster 2nd Class Darren Griggs will join Longhorns coach Mack Brown and his crew.

"I've been a fan since I was little," Caldwell said. "It'll be great being on the sidelines and meeting all the players."

The game is set to kick off at 5p.m. Dec. 28 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Medical Personnel Embarked on HSV 2 Swift Visit Regional Hospital in El Salvador


SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador (NNS) -- The medical team assigned to High Speed Vessel (HSV 2) Swift took a tour of the regional hospital "San Juan De Dios," in San Miguel, El Salvador as part of HSV-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (HSV-SPS 12), Dec. 21.

The visit included a tour of the hospital and a meeting with the regional hospital director, Dr. Jose Manuel Pecheco Paz.

"It is important that you see how our facilities work, so that we may get your take on how we can improve our facility, and so that we may exchange knowledge and all grow from this experience," said Paz.

During the three-week port visit, the medical team visited five other local medical facilities in El Salvador. The medical teams conducted subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with Salvadoran doctors within the same fields. The exchange focused on U.S. Air Force Maj. Brant Lutsi and his expertise as a doctor in gastroenterology and the hospital gastroenterologist Dr. Francisco Cubias Ancheta.

"It was important for me to see how gastroenterologists cope and treat their diseases without the assistance and technology that doctors are used to having in the United States," said Lutsi. "Because of this visit, I will be able to use the techniques I have learned today to improve patient care when resources may be limited during deployments."

The hospital contains 500 beds for patients, and has 7 different departments including emergency care, obstetrics, basic out-patient, surgery, pediatrics, gastroenterology, and nursing. In this hospital there are 300 doctors and 200 nurses.

"This experience was a real eye opener," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Randy Byrd, a registered nurse. "Often when I am working back in the states, I am used to seeing twice as many nurses as doctors, and this visit just goes to show that you can still run a good facility, with direct care and very little resources that we often take for granted."

The medical team's visit to the hospital is one part of the mission during HSV-SPS 12. Service members from each of the armed services are working with the host nation partners, exchanging information regarding veterinary practices, small unit leadership, port security and construction.

Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilians in the region.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

HSV-Southern Partnership Station Departs El Salvador


HSV 2 SWIFT, At Sea (NNS) -- High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift departed La Union, El Salvador, completing the second stop of HSV-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (HSV-SPS 12), Dec. 22.

Swift visited El Salvador for three weeks to participate in a series of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with partner nation peers. A U.S. Navy Seabee and U.S. Marine detachment from Swift completed improvements to three Salvadoran schools: Centro Escolar Gregorio Alvarez Nunez, Escuela de Educacion "Maria Luisa Marcia," and Centro Escolar Icacal.

Seabees worked with five Salvadoran military construction specialists to complete the project. The construction projects included fencing, minor plumbing, electrical maintenance, and other small repairs.

"It was really a privilege to get back to El Salvador with the U.S Navy and give back to the country to which I was born," said Builder 1st Class Tony Escobar, a native of El Salvador assigned to Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 23. "It was great to see my family and working with the teachers and students really made me feel like I was part of a community I had been missing for 21 years."

U.S. Marines assigned to the HSV-SPS 12 Marine Detachment worked with more than 25 Salvadoran marines at DM3 military base in La Union. The groups worked together to develop land navigation, small-unit leadership, and marksmanship techniques. Salvadoran marines hosted U.S. Marines at a reception Dec. 20 to celebrate the partnership the two groups had built.

"When I see our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen meet with their partner-nation peers, there is always an eagerness to learn and a curiosity about practices and procedures," said Cmdr. Garry Wright, HVS-SPS 12 mission commander. "But at the end of the time together I see friendships you would have thought took years to build."

The SPS Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) team hosted three one-week SMEEs in classrooms aboard Swift with military and civilian Salvadoran security personnel. The weeklong exchanges culminated in a practical exercise designed to develop observation techniques and identify possible risky behaviors. More than 75 Salvadorans participated in the NCIS SMEE over the three-week port visit.

"No matter where you are, security is the cornerstone to successful operations," said Chief Master-at-Arms Jeffrey Bolen, assigned to the SPS NCIS team. "Everywhere we go, we are presented with new challenges and situations. Learning from each other helps you look at circumstances through a different lens, making security plans and strategies more effective."

The veterinary attachment aboard visited several animal care facilities in El Salvador. The trip was highlighted by the SMEE with the trainers of military working dogs in San Salvador and their visit to a Salvadoran sea turtle sanctuary.

"The visit to the sanctuary gave us exposure to something unique and different," said Army Capt. Catie Cook, lead HSV-SPS 12 veterinarian. "It was a rare opportunity to get out and see preservation facilities in other countries and how they take care of wildlife."

The medical detachment also hosted SMEEs in the classrooms aboard the ship. Together with local medical professionals, the group practiced basic lifesaving techniques, suturing, and experts discussed diagnoses and prognoses of common local diseases. The medical teams also visited local hospitals and clinics in the area to meet with local healthcare professionals.

"During discussions, we learned about local medical practices and procedures," said Air Force Maj. Randy Byrd, a nurse assigned to the medical detachment. "What we talked about was very informative and our general practices were very similar. Sometimes the language barrier was difficult to overcome, but when we got down to practical medicine, everyone was very professional."

Twenty-nine pallets of Project Handclasp materials consisting of 85,000 high-calorie meals and medical equipment were off-loaded from Swift to be delivered to local families and clinics in El Salvador. "Loving Hugs" stuffed animals were also handed out to special needs children by the Military Civil Affairs Team aboard Swift to children at Escuela Educacion de Especial "La Union."

"You could see how happy the stuffed animals made the children," said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Cedric Wright. "It made me feel good because all the kids were smiling, laughing and playing with the toys. The stuffed animals were like an early Christmas present for the children. The parents expressed their gratitude that we had done something for their kids. There is just something about the smile of a child that makes everyone around them happy."

Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by America's private sector on a space available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

All branches of U.S. military service are represented on Swift. Specialists from the Seabees, Marines, medical and veterinary fields, NCIS, Expeditionary Security Team, and Maritime Civil Affairs Team are aboard Swift for this mission.

Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navy's coast guards and civilians in the region.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Zero Tolerance: NCIS Aims to Prevent Sexual Assault Crimes


NORFOLK (NNS) -- In an effort to bring attention to the sexual assault prevention awareness campaign, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) issued important guidelines and tips on how individuals can report and prevent sexual assault crimes through NCIS' Crime Reduction Program, Dec. 26.

The increased prevention awareness campaign is a proactive effort to reduce sexual assaults across the Department of the Navy. NCIS Special Agent Leatrice DeBruhl-Daniels is assigned as the FY12-1st quarter campaign representative for Hampton Roads.

Sexual assault is defined as sexual abuse of an individual by the use of force, threat, or intimidation. Rape, sodomy, sexual battery and attempts to commit these crimes are examples of sexual assault offenses.

Sexual assaults are more prevalent with those who recently enlisted or are away from home for the first time. In many cases, the situations involve alcohol.

Sexual assault crimes are not necessarily isolated on-base. Crimes may also occur in other jurisdictions where local police departments may assume the case - NCIS is still notified.

In the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, there were 2,617 service members who reported they had been a victim of sexual assault.

Sexual consent must be freely given by a competent person and you cannot force anyone to have sex at any time.

"There is no such thing as drunken consent," said DeBruhl-Daniels. "Drugs and alcohol will impair a person's judgment and may increase sexual desire, therefore, a person's actions may be misunderstood when they are intoxicated. Do what is right morally. If you violate a person's rights and have sex with them without their permission, you may be subject to charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 120."

NAVADMIN 122/11 reinforces Navy's "zero tolerance" sexual assault policy and directs active support from all Sailors - from the deck plates to the blue tile - to successfully eliminate this egregious act from the ranks.

The Navy averages 1.5 reported sexual assaults per day, with aggravated sexual assault accounting for the largest category of offenses reported. Female Sailors have a 20 percent chance of being sexually assaulted during their careers, and the younger they are, the greater the risk of sexual assault.

Under UCMJ Article 120, sexual act crimes, such as rape and aggravated sexual assault, carry very high penalties. Rape itself under the UCMJ can carry a death penalty and the maximum punishment for aggravated sexual assault is 30 years.

"When there is a report of sexual assault, commands are required to report it almost immediately to NCIS," said Cmdr. Frank D. Hutchison, staff judge advocate.

Once NCIS completes their investigation, the case is turned over to the command for disposition.

"Typically, commands will forward the investigative facts to RLSO for analysis of its prosecutorial merit," said Hutchison. "... based on the investigation, [we determine] whether there is a case that can be prosecuted under courts-martial or whether it should be handled at a different level. For the vast majority of sexual assault cases, courts-martial is the appropriate forum. Then at that point, RLSO is the prosecution office, and they work hand-in-hand with NCIS from that stage on."

Victims have a choice of reporting preference as either restricted or unrestricted. Victims who choose to use restricted reporting are only allowed to talk to a victim advocate, sexual assault response coordinator, chaplain or healthcare provider. This ensures that no one without confidentiality knows the details about the case, and it remains confidential until the case is reported to law enforcement, or NCIS, at which time it will automatically become an unrestricted report.

An unrestricted report allows victims to legally pursue the perpetrator. In this option, NCIS, local law enforcement and the command are notified that you are a victim of sexual assault. The command is restricted from conducting their own investigation on the matter, but they will be notified that the event occurred.

Time is of the essence when you have a sexual assault crime, especially if alcohol or some sort of drug influence is involved. The victim should contact NCIS as quickly as possible to investigate their level of consent. Victims should not be afraid of reporting a sexual assault crime to NCIS. Keeping the victim safe is NCIS' main priority in sexual assault cases. Victims will be notified of key steps within the investigation from case initiation to case closure.

Sexual assaults are serious crimes, therefore, victims should not report false sexual assault claims.

Regrettable sex, absent or late for muster with a rape excuse, caught cheating on your spouse or significant other, or becoming pregnant by someone you do not want to be the father of your child are not excuses to report rape and are unacceptable.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact the NCIS hotline at (877) 579-3648 or the Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673). For more information about sexual assault prevention and response, visit www.sapr.mil/.

To view the video online, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqnN25_W2Cc.

Tips on prevention:
* Drink responsibly.
* Have a designated driver
* Know your drinking limits.
* Use a "buddy system" before going out and have a plan.
* Remove your buddy from a risky situation.
* Always be safe

USS Texas Returns from Her Maiden Western Pacific Deployment

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Virginia-class submarine USS Texas (SSN 775) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing her maiden Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment Friday, Dec. 23.

"The crews' demeanor is that of excitement and pride as we return from our very successful six month deployment to reunite with our families in our beautiful homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii," said Cmdr. Bob Roncska, commanding officer USS Texas. "The new and advanced capabilities of Texas were showcased, and she met all milestones and exceeded all expectations while conducting missions vital to national security and numerous exercises with our allied partners. It is simply a surreal experience to be commanding officer of the most technically advanced submarine."

This was the first overseas deployment for more than a third of the crew. More than 20 Sailors and three junior officers completed submarine qualifications and are now authorized to wear the Submarine Warfare insignia or better known to submariners as "dolphins".

Texas conducted port visits in Guam; Yokosuka, Japan; Busan, South Korea; and Subic Bay, Philippines. The port visits to Japan and South Korea provided the opportunity for Texas to demonstrate some of the capabilities that a Virginia-Class submarine has to host country distinguished visitors, both civilian and military.

"The crew performed flawlessly, both underway and in-port," said Roncska. "Their abilities as undersea warriors were demonstrated time and again with outstanding results. Their conduct on liberty as ambassadors of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Submarine Force was impeccable."

Machinist Mate 2nd Class Jared Mankins describes his first deployment as something he will never forget.

"This deployment was a life changing event for me," said Mankins. "Specifically, I experienced foreign cultures and submarine operations you can only imagine about. This ship and crew are awesome!"

Commissioned Sept. 9, 2006, Texas was the second Virginia-class attack submarine constructed and the first submarine to be named after the Lone Star State.
The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Delivering a piece of home for the holidays

by Senior Airman Jessica Hines
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/21/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Airmen at the Kunsan Post Office here continue to receive and separate holiday mail faster than Santa's workshop can make toys.

While Saint Nick's work may end on Christmas day, the whirlwind of holiday mail arriving at the Kunsan Post Office won't let up until mid-January according to the base post master.

With a 40 percent increase in mail during the holiday season, it didn't take very long for the post office to break a record either; on Dec. 14 more than 500 pieces of mail were delivered for servicemembers on base. By the time all the mail was separated, the delivery was closer to 700 pieces ready for distribution. Employees and volunteers, worked hard to organize and deliver every piece of mail.

Airmen interested in volunteering with the Kunsan Post Office can visit the Kunsan SharePoint page and click "Holiday Season Volunteer (Post Office)" under "Sites of Interest".

From falcon to foe, weapons hits the mark

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/27/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As with the overall maintenance of the aircraft, there are other sections at Kunsan responsible for ensuring the Wolf Pack can indeed take the fight north when called upon.

One such section of the 8th Maintenance Group is the weapons standardizations section. For those unfamiliar with the WSS, these are the Airmen tasked with ensuring all weapons Airmen have the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain the weapon systems of the 80th and 35th Fighter Squadron's F-16 Fighting Falcons.

"We ensure they're putting reliable munitions on the aircraft," said Master Sgt. Michale Varney, 8th MXG weapons standardizations superintendent. "And during war time environments, that's the whole point of the aircraft."

"Without the weapons ... our aircraft is just another airline," said Tech. Sgt. Waylon Price, 8th MXG loading standardizations crew member.

Truth be told, across history, ever since the Air Force's mission developed from nothing more than reconnaissance to what it is today, Airmen have been tasked with ensuring their aircraft's weapons systems are operating at the highest standards.

"We are the teeth of the Wolf," said Tech. Sgt. John Torres, 8th MXG loading standardizations crew chief. "Without the training and proficiency evaluations we provide and conduct here, the pilots can't do the mission they came here to do."

That mission, yet another critical component of the Wolf Pack's overall mission, is to provide pilots with a proficient weapons system.

"We are responsible for everything from the moment when the pilot presses the button to when the munitions strike their target," Torres said.

"And that's what we evaluate. Can our crews perform within a set standard the Air Force has established?" added Varney.

Time and time again, Varney and his team are impressed, though they said what the crews do out on the line are a direct reflection of how well the WSS trained them.

"Those load crews are products of our training," said Staff Sgt. Carl Richardson, 8th MXG load crew team chief. "We give them the tools they need to succeed and then evaluate them on how well they use those tools to accomplish the mission."

Torres added these evaluations can happen at any time.

"We perform spot checks at random to keep our guys on their toes," he said. "This way we are afforded the opportunity to catch them at their best, when they're in their element and know no one is focused on their performance."

However, according to Price, quarterly load crew competitions are held among all crews from both fighter squadrons in a public forum.

"We also engage in major command-wide competitions annually," added Price, who has been assigned to units in the Pacific Air Forces for the last 10 years, the most recent three at Kunsan. "These are limited to the peninsula, so us and Osan, but we both host theater support packages with load crews from across the Air Force happy to show off their skills too."

Last year's load competition, hosted by Kunsan, pitted crews from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., RAF Lakenheath, England, Osan Air Base and those assigned to the Wolf Pack.

"It's a friendly competition between all members in our career field," Price continued. "We get to trade war stories and really build a strong sense of camaraderie."

Though they're currently trainers, Varney said his team is recalled to the line during exercises and in the event of a real-world incident.

"Our crews go back to the aircraft maintenance units if war were to break out or for the many exercises we have here at Kunsan," said Varney.

"We're all certified the same way we certify the guys we train," Torres added.

Torres continued to explain that when they go back to their units for exercises, it's to act as exercise evaluation team members.

Yet, at the end of the day, the WSS crew said they couldn't be happier with where they work.

"We're here to maintain and sharpen the Wolf's teeth," Price said. "And thanks to the guys and gals over in the ammo flight for delivering our munitions, this mission can be accomplished as one team, the Wolf Pack."

[Editor's note: This is part two of a three part series highlighting 8th MXG flights charged with ensuring Kunsan maintenance Airmen are completing the mission in compliance with set Air Force standards.]

Budget cuts take toll on military family housing on Okinawa

by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs


12/27/2011 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 718th Civil Engineer Squadron, which is the head for all military housing on Okinawa, has suspended the use of unessential services at all Eagle Hardware self-help stores on the island, including Kadena Air Base and Camps Kinser, Foster and Courtney, as well as non-emergent work orders in base housing.

The suspension, due to a substantial cut in the island-wide Department of Defense housing budget, allows the self-help stores to give individuals living in base housing only air conditioner air filters and light bulbs not readily available on the local economy.

"All of this is because of the budgetary cuts," said Lt. Col. Ann Birchard, 718th CES commander. "We took a $5 million cut this year."

The effects to other U.S. military installations on the island are because the 18th Wing is the executive agent to all housing on Okinawa, giving it one of the largest budgets in the DoD.

"It's across the Air Force, across DoD, all of us took cuts, and this was one of the areas," said Birchard. "Since we're the largest in DoD, we have the largest budget, so of course we'll take the largest cut."

Despite the cuts, however, Birchard said not all services at the stores will be halted.
"We're still offering services such as the power washers, carpet cleaners and any tools like gardening tools, hammers or drills," said Birchard.

Emergent care for base housing residents is described as a threat to "life, health or safety," which includes air conditioning, power or water outages, or if an appliance, such as a refrigerator, fails.

Birchard said it's still undetermined whether the budget cut will be permanent or not, but other options are being pursued to save money so the suspension can be lifted.

"We understand it's an inconvenience," said Birchard. "However, with the constrained fiscal environment, we're doing the best that we can."

Birchard said on-base residents can call 315-634-HOME for essential repairs.

Wolf spreads love at post office

12/27/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Col. Scott Pleus, 8th Fighter Wing commander, volunteered his time at Kunsan's post office delivering holiday cheer to the Wolf Pack here Dec. 22.

With a 40 percent increase in mail during the holiday season, Pleus and others volunteered to help separate and distribute mail to the Wolf Pack.

Unofficially known as the "Wolf", Pleus and other Wolf Pack commanders were seen at various services facilities all weekend spreading love and joy at every turn.

Cowboy's cheerleaders visit Wolf Pack

8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/27/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Several cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys professional football team visited members of the Wolf Pack here Dec. 21.

The cheerleaders went to the O'Malley Dining Facility, Hangar 3 and the 8th Security Forces Squadron's weapons simulation to autograph photos and take time to thank Airmen and Soldiers.

The cheerleaders make an effort every year to visit Airmen and Soldiers serving in the Pacific Air Forces. These visits are an opportunity for them to show their support for the sacrifices servicemembers make every day.

35, 40 or 50 – Jump Start to General Fitness & Good Health

I have been Powerlifting for 15 years and a member of the National Masters Powerlifting Team for 3 out of the last 6 years. I finished 6th at the World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2010 and placed in the top 10 in 2005 and again in 2009. 

At 9:50 am EDT September 15, 2011 on Live With Regis and Kelly I officially broke the Guinness World Record for the most amount of weight squat lifted in one hour lifting 127,245 lbs. I guess I should mention I am 21 years older than the former record holder. I was 53 January 2011.

My effort to break the current world record was to bring attention to the fact the adults can continue to remain healthy and get stronger longer than even before,  well into their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  

Remember no one is born strong, fit, a fitness expert or a Guinness World Record holder.  Everyone starts at the same base.  Some at an early age in organized sports, some through mid life hobbies, and many because they just enjoy the activity and realize it reduce stress, increases energy and improves general health.  

I realize that taking the first step is intimidating, time consuming and downright hard. On the bright side, exercise provides for more energy, improved or good health, improved performance in hobbies, can be a social boost, and over time can become out and out fun! 

If you are going to a health club hire a professional for at least one or two lessons. Avoid going with friends or relatives. Often they try to help but may be overly aggressive, may show you the wrong techniques, maybe be intimidating and will often be the first step in your not returning to the gym.

If you are venturing into new activities, I highly recommend you find experts in those areas and ask them for help.  Find a professional and develop your plan, start small and build up.
As you start your new adventure here are a few suggestions:

1.       Visit your doctor for a check up or physical to ensure there are no health risks
2.       Find something you like – make it your passion
3.       Ask professionals for help – avoid friends or relatives
4.       Start small and work up
5.       Try to make it fun
6.       Walk, run, bike, swim, enrol in fitness classes, lift weights, do something and anything.....
7.       Do not be intimidated by others  

Remember its exercise, you decide when, where and how long.

Get started and don’t give up!

Walter is an American Powerlifter and Guinness World Record holder and challenger living in Canada. For more information visit www.walterurban.com