Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New weapons training sets Airmen on target

by Senior Airman Alyssa C. Wallace
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2012 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Bases Air Force-wide were required to implement a new Air Force Rifle Qualification course by Dec. 1 in order to better prepare deploying Airmen on how to engage in combat with the enemy downrange.

More than 400 Gunfighters have received this training since it was implemented at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Nov. 1. The course was developed by Air Force leadership in response to criticisms that the previous course was not sufficiently advanced.

"For a lot of years the Air Force has kind of figured short-range combat-type marksmanship training wasn't necessary for bulk of the personnel," said Master Sgt. Stephen Vermilya, 366th Security Forces Squadron combat arms noncommissioned officer in-charge. "We have come 180 degrees to where we realize our troops are seeing themselves outside the wire more than ever before, so we do need to give them these skills. It's going to make our troops much more capable in combat."

During the new course, Airmen will fire almost twice as many rounds at multiple targets, shoot from a standing, unsupported position on both "semi" and "burst" settings, and conduct quick-reaction drills.

"In the old course, we expended 100 rounds per shooter," Vermilya said. "The new course has the students firing more than 180 rounds of ammunition. The course of fire is substantially changed -- it is far more advanced. It introduces new weapon employment techniques not seen or used by the non-security forces personnel."

The techniques have proven to be tougher, as the base's pass rate has dropped from 94 percent to about 61 percent, according to Vermilya. However, students should not be worried.

"Don't be discouraged, because it's a substantially more difficult course," he said. "You're not alone, there are a lot of people in the Air Force who may not make it the first time around. Just like anything out there, additional practice is what's going to get you to meet the qual."

For those who find themselves off target, Vermilya's Combat Arms Training and Maintenance staff holds special training for those who need help hitting the mark.

"Remedial training is more one-on-one," said Senior Airman William Rhodes, 366th SFS combat arms instructor. "I take the time to point out things they can do better and show them different techniques. More often than not, the shooter qualifies at the end of the day. It's very important; the training is more realistic to what's going on in the world today."

While the course may be more challenging, Vermilya says he has received constructive feedback.

"A lot of folks have been positive and really liked it -- they thought it was fun, significantly more advanced and more interesting," Vermilya said. "They like the fact they're getting additional rounds and more time to fire. There are still a few people who think it's a little too difficult, but we're optimistic their skills will improve as we continue this course."

JTF-Bravo delivers health to 1,400 Guatemalan residents

by Capt. Candice Allen
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs Office

12/28/2011 - CHAMPERICO, Guatemala -- Twenty-two members from Joint Task Force-Bravo provided medical care to more than 1,400 residents Dec. 8-13 in an isolated region of southwest Guatemala.

JTF-Bravo members teamed up with their Guatemalan medical partners, including the Guatemalan Ministry of Health and the Military Group in El Codo and Champerico.

During the medical readiness and training exercise, medical professionals treated illnesses including respiratory infections, skin infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diabetes and high blood pressure in the region.

"This was a great opportunity to enhance our partnership with the Guatemalan government and its' Ministry of Health," said Col. Matthew Rettke, commander of Medical Element, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.

The service members set up clinics, screened patients, checked prescriptions, taught prevention health classes and provided dental care.

"These types of missions provide the opportunity to work as a team with partner nations, allowing us to provide health care to underserved populations," said Dr. Guillermo Saenz, a Honduran medical officer from MEDEL.

By the end of the four-day mission, U.S. and Guatemalan medical staff assisted nearly 150 dental patients and screened more than 1,000 people.

More than 650 Guatemalans received items from the pharmacy who otherwise may not have received prescriptions.

"I'm very thankful and happy that they're here," said Juan Reyes, a Champerico resident who attended the medical readiness training exercise. "The medicine is hard to get (here) or they don't have enough supplies."

In addition to the medical care, JTF-Bravo service members established a command and control function at the MEDRETE. Six JTF-Bravo members established and maintained communication with Soto Cano Air Base via satellite during the exercise.

JTF-Bravo's medical professionals are slated to conduct another MEDRETE in Honduras next month. In fiscal year 2011, JTF-Bravo medical members conducted 15 MEDRETES treating more than 41,000 patients throughout Central America.

Florida Woman Loses 84 Pounds to Join Army

Cynthia Rivers-Womack
U.S. Army Recruiting Command

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 3, 2012 – Allison Scarbrough officially changes jobs today, from retail cashier to health care specialist in the U.S. Army. But the change has not been easy.

Scarbrough, then 20, walked into the recruiting station here in May 2010 ready to become a soldier. But because she carried 240 pounds on her 5-foot, 5-inch frame, she had to lose 84 pounds and keep the weight off before she would be eligible to enlist.

In 2010, Scarbrough belonged to the country's growing demographic of 18-to-24-year-olds considered overweight and obese. In 1998 -- when the National Institutes of Health released the first federal guidelines to identify, evaluate and treat overweight and obese adults -- 97 million Americans, or 55 percent, were identified as overweight or obese.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study revealed that in 1998, only one state had 40 to 49 percent of its 18-to-24-year-old population classified as overweight or obese. By 2008, that number had grown to 39 states. The CDC uses a height-weight calculation known as body-mass index, or BMI, to determine whether someone is overweight or obese. The Army also uses BMI measurements to determine weight, with different calculations for men and women.

Keenly aware of weight-management issues among its active-duty and reserve soldiers, Army officials began offering the service’s “Weigh to Stay” program online in 2006. The initial program was designed for in-person sessions, but the online platform made the program more accessible and self-directed, according to a 2006 interview with Army Lt. Col. Danny Jaghab, site creator and past nutrition staff officer at the U.S. Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. In addition, the Army now provides a platform at http://www.hooah4health to help soldiers in their goals to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When Scarborough realized she could not join the Army until she lost 84 pounds and kept it off, she said, she changed her behavior toward food and modified her lifestyle and eating habits. She began eating more vegetables and doing away with high-caloric drinks, fast-foods and unnecessary snacks.

Encouraged by her recruiter, Army Staff Sgt. Terrance Retsch, Scarborough started physical training in September 2011 with the future soldiers of the Gainesville recruiting station.

"I knew when Scarbrough came into our office she would take the challenge to lose weight and would be successful,” Retsch said. “She's determined and strong-willed, plus the Army gave her a bigger purpose that had immediate and long-term benefits: improving her health and becoming a soldier."

Scarbrough said the transition has been good for her body and her mind.

"Weight shouldn't be something that stops you from doing what you really want,” she said. “Losing weight is a lot of work, but even when you hit a plateau you have to keep at it. My mother didn't think I would follow through with losing the weight or joining the Army, but I did it, and now I'm ready to go."

Veterans Music Camp Reveals War Stories in New Light

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – Former military servicemen and women will be encouraged to tell their stories like never before at the second Songwriting Camp for Veterans. The camp, a component of transition programs designed for military members and their families, will be held in Colorado Springs, Colo., January 19-23, 2012, at the Garden of the Gods Club.

Hosted by LifeQuest Military Transitions, a nonprofit organization based in Colorado Springs, all costs for veterans are covered, including travel, accommodations and music camp activities. The mission of LifeQuest is to empower military service members with life skills that enable personal growth, promote leadership development and facilitate positive change during transition into, through and beyond military life.

“There is no program out there quite like ours because we’re built on the direct needs from active duty military units,” says LifeQuest Founder CW Conner. “Many nonprofits are reactive, but we are proactive – before they fall into harm’s way.”

The songwriting retreat, directed by Austin-based musician Darden Smith, is a follow up to the first camp held in July 2011 in Edwards, Colo. Smith gathered a team of professional singer songwriters to work with LifeQuest and nine servicemen and women who participated in the retreat. Songs written during the camp were eventually performed at the Faces of Freedom concert on September 11 at the World Arena in Colorado Springs. The songs are now available for purchase on iTunes, and those written during the January 2012 camp will complete a full album that is now in the planning stages. Proceeds from the recordings benefit the veterans and help fund LifeQuest’s programs.

“The retreat is like a revival of the soul,” says 2011 camp participant and former Army Combat Engineer John Wall. “We’ve been in such dark places, seen so much evil, that this weekend is an awakening. This is what soldiers need.”

For more information about the music camp, visit www.mylq.org.

About LifeQuest Military Transitions

LifeQuest Military Transitions (LQMT) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo. that provides a unique variety of transition programs for military members and their families. Participants come from all over the United States.  LifeQuest’s programs center on physical rehabilitation & training, adventure activities, and life skills development for wounded, ill and injured veterans. The program emphasis is always to empower participants through choice, challenge and change.


Andy Wilson                                Jessica Kiefer                          

Bohlsen Group                            Bohlsen Group                         

317.602.7137                              317.602.7137 ext. 2045           

Boot camp teaches lifetime fitness habits

by Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

1/3/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Smarter not harder. Airmen are familiar with the phrase encouraging better physical training practices to ensue passing fitness assessments. The first pillar of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness Program focuses on lifelong physical health, not just passing the physical fitness test.

To help Airmen set up a lifelong fitness program, the Health and Wellness Center is offering Domination Boot Camp weekdays at 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Many people know boot camp classes as intense workouts that leave muscles sore for days. Domination Boot Camp is a little different. "Our goal with this boot camp is not to pound them into the ground," said Jennifer Crowley, HAWC exercise physiologist. "What we want to do is give them the habits in a program that they can sustain forever."

No two days of boot camp class are the same, Crowley said. Mondays consist of running intervals, Tuesdays and Thursdays are total conditioning circuits, Wednesdays are low intensity training, and Fridays are foundation training. "We used an endurance athlete-type training program," she said.

Even though classes have anywhere between six and 36 people in them, Crowley and Charles Hurlbut, HAWC exercise physiologist, can help individuals customize the program to fit their unique needs.

Participants in the class fill out a brief pre-assessment before their first day. This allows the HAWC to evaluate their current fitness routine and possibly recommend a nutrition class to further promote a healthy lifestyle.

"If we know people are really struggling with their run, Mondays and Fridays are days that we would recommend they come in. If it's strength, we recommend Tuesdays and Thursdays. We can kind of tailor it to what they want," Crowley said.

Crowley set up the same boot camp program at Kadena Air Base, Japan, in 2010. After six months of classes, Airmen who attended four to five times a week increased their PFT scores by an average of 16.9 points. Those who attended three days a week increased scores by an average of nine points.

Crowley is collecting the same information at Pete. "We really won't see that data for another couple months until we get 90 days out and actually start retesting," she said. "I expect that this will be good data."

So far, two squadrons have made the class mandatory for Airmen who have failed the PFT. If more squadrons follow suit, the HAWC will try to add more classes to accommodate the interest. Space has not yet been an issue and the classes are open to anyone, Crowley said.

"It's important that we're mission ready all the time," Crowley said. "The class contains components of a lifetime fitness program so their heart is healthy and their lungs are healthy and they also are seeing performance at the same time."

7th AS competes for David C. Schilling award

by Airman 1st Class Leah Young
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The 7th Airlift Squadron has been chosen for nomination for the Air Force Association David C. Schilling award.

The David C. Schilling award is given for the most outstanding contribution to national defense in the field of manned flight in the atmosphere or space by an Air Force military member, Department of the Air Force civilian, unit or group of individuals.

The members of the 7th AS executed missions totaling 7,600 hours flown and 921 million pounds of material delivered to support military operations worldwide. While deployed to Southwest Asia, they set the record for fuel delivery to a single drop zone by airdropping 190,000 pounds of fuel to forward deployed personnel.

The squadron promoted readiness with international partners through participation in numerous joint exercises. Additionally, they moved key equipment and personnel during Hurricane Irene and enabled the evacuation of more than 70 passengers.

"This nomination directly reflects the consistent high quality work our Airmen deliver every single day," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "With nearly 100 flying squadrons in Air Mobility Command, we're honored that Gen. (Raymond) Johns (AMC commander) chose the 7th Airlift Squadron. We couldn't be more proud."

DOD Seeks Safe Hormuz Passage for All, Official Says

DOD Seeks Safe Hormuz Passage for All, Official Says
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2012 – Closure of the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has been holding military exercises since Dec. 23, will not be tolerated, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

According to international news reports, Iran has warned the United States not to replace the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, which last week left the strait -- the only sea passage to the open ocean for petroleum-producing nations in the Persian Gulf region.

“Such regularly scheduled movements are in accordance with longstanding U.S. commitments to the region’s security and stability, and in support of ongoing operations,” Little told reporters.

Such carrier strike group deployments are needed to maintain continuity and operational support to ongoing missions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, he added.

“Our interest is in safe and secure maritime passage for ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz,” Little said.

“No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz,” he added. “It’s important to lower the temperature.”

The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades, the Pentagon press secretary said.

The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain “a constant state of high vigilance to ensure the continued safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce,” Little added.

“Our transits of the Strait of Hormuz continue to be in compliance with international law,” he said, “which guarantees our vessels the right of transit passage.”

Little said the department is committed to protecting maritime freedoms that are the basis for global prosperity -- one of the reasons U.S. military forces operate in the region.

“We are obviously aware of reports of missile tests that are apparently tied to Iranian naval exercises that began in late December,” he said, adding that Iran has the right to conduct exercises and that it has taken no hostile or aggressive action against U.S. Navy vessels in the region.

“The United States believes that the Iranian regime should devote its energy and resources to establishing friendly relations with countries in the Gulf region,” Little said.

Air Force offering second round of VERA/VSIP

1/3/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force is offering a second round of voluntary early retirement authority and voluntary separation incentive pay beginning Jan. 9.

The move is part of the Air Force's continuing effort to meet the Department of Defense requirement to maintain civilian funding at fiscal 2010 levels

"The Air Force recognizes the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce, but also recognizes the fiscal constraints under which the Department of Defense and the government as a whole are operating," said Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, the director of force management policy. "We are working to balance mission needs while taking care to minimize the effect on our current permanent civilian workforce and their families."

The first round of VERA/VSIP was used as a voluntary means to reduce civilian workforce levels, enabling strategic rebalancing efforts. As the Air Force continues its fiscal 2012 civilian workforce restructure, round two of VERA/VSIP will be used to further realign and rebalance the civilian force.

Civilian employees will receive VERA/VSIP eligibility surveys from their personnel managers in January and applications are due Feb. 3 or an earlier date established by local authorities. Applicants approved for this round of VERA/VSIP will need to separate on or before April 30.

"We are pursuing all available force management measures, to include civilian hiring controls, where required, with the goal of avoiding involuntary measures for our current permanent workforce," Dunbar said.

In August, the Air Force instituted a 90-day hiring freeze that was lifted as an Air Force-wide control Dec. 16. Hiring controls remain in effect in some areas and vary by major command, depending on current MAJCOM strength relative to approved funding levels. Of the positions already identified for elimination, many were vacant, and the freeze created additional vacancies. By lifting the Air Force-wide freeze, MAJCOM managers and hiring officials will be able to hire personnel into vacant positions that remain to support the future Air Force mission.

For any information about civilian employment, voluntary separation programs and other personnel issues, visit the secure Air Force Personnel Service website at https://gum-crm.csd.disa.mil.

Defense bill limits retiree health care increases

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31 which contains a critical initiative to help control spiraling health-care costs within the Defense Department.  

Section 701 limits annual TRICARE enrollment fee increases for retirees and their family members to an amount equal to the percentage by which retired pay increases that year.

The act also contains critical initiatives to develop counterterrorism initiatives abroad, build the security capacity of key partners, modernize the force and boost the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations worldwide.

The NDAA also includes: 

Section 347 requires DOD to finance an independent assessment of overseas troop basing, advising retention, closure, realignment or establishment of U.S. military facilities outside the United States “in light of potential fiscal constraints on [DOD] and emerging national security requirements in coming years.”

Section 402 reduces authorized Army minimum end strength from 562,000 to 547,000. The other services’ authorized minimum strengths are unchanged, with 325,700 for the Navy, 202,100 for the Marine Corps and 332,800 for the Air Force.

Section 512 of the act creates a new member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which currently includes the Army and Air Force chiefs of staff, the chief of naval operations and the Marine Corps commandant. The new member will be the chief of the National Guard Bureau, who will have responsibility for “addressing matters involving non-federalized National Guard forces in support of homeland defense and civil support missions.”

Section 526 extends voluntary separation pay and benefits authority, formerly set to expire Dec. 31, to the end of 2018. Section 530 converts the high-deployment allowance from mandatory to authorized. The allowance currently pays $100 a day, in addition to all other pay and allowances, to a deployed service member who has been deployed 401 days or more out of the preceding 730 days. 

Section 702 sets mental health assessment requirements for service members deployed for contingency operations. The act calls for a series of assessments: one within 120 days before deployment; another during the period between 90 days after a deployment begins and 180 days after it ends; a third within a year after the deployment ends; and a fourth between 18 months and 30 months of redeployment. 

The act states assessments are intended to “identify post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal tendencies, and other behavioral health conditions … in order to determine which such members are in need of additional care and treatment for such health conditions.”

Assessments are not required for service members “not subjected or exposed to operational risk factors during deployment in the contingency operation concerned,” the act states. 

Section 954 affirms that DOD “has the capability, and upon direction by the president may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our nation, allies and interests,” subject to the law of armed conflict and the War Powers Resolution.

 President Barack Obama acknowledges “serious reservations” about parts of the act, particularly provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

“I have signed the act chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families and vital national security programs that must be renewed,” Obama said in a statement released Dec. 31.

Airmen recognized for gallant efforts during bus crash

by Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Five Airmen from the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron were recognized for their gallant efforts in response to a vehicle accident that occurred on base Nov. 22, 2011.

Col. Patrick McKenzie, 51st Fighter Wing commander, presented certificates to three of the five Airmen in a commander's call held Jan. 13, 2012.

"It's nice to recognize someone for doing an amazing job," McKenzie said. "These Airmen went above and beyond the call of duty and performed extremely well."

Tech. Sgt. Justin Pederson, Senior Airman Robert Farmer, Senior Airman Richard Turner, Airman 1st Class Mark Penn and Airman 1st Class Tylor King are the Airmen who were recognized.

Farmer, Turner and Penn were traveling Perimeter Road at about 10 a.m. the day of the accident when they noticed the bus.

Using skills honed during an Operational Readiness Exercise the week prior, the Airmen immediately assessed the scene and radioed for help. They provided self-aid-and-buddy care to the passenger in the vehicle. The other was trapped under the steering column.

They tried helping the trapped individual but knew they would have to wait for the fire department to arrive. Pederson and King were two of the firefighters who were called to the scene.

"We just got back from an in-flight emergency when we got the call for this crash," King said. "There is a moment of excitement when we respond to something and not knowing what to expect."

He said when they arrived on the scene, saw the damaged bus and realized they would need to cut the bus driver out using the Jaws of Life.

There was no door on the driver's side, so they made one, King said.

From there they continued to cut around the dashboard until they could get the driver out.

Not only was this a rare incident to have on base, King said this was his first extraction he has performed.

The Airmen were also recognized and coined by the director of the 51st FW Safety office, Lt. Col. Jason Cockrum, for their quick action.

The Invisible War—A Look into Military Sexual Trauma

January 3, 2012 by Kimberly Heartsong

Early in 2011 the Dr. Oz Show did a special show that highlighted women Veterans that were homeless. Some had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had been raped or experienced a military sexual trauma (MST).  It was the kind of show that presented Veterans in an honorable manner and allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to address the fact that many female Veterans fall through the cracks with normal routine VA care; let alone extreme cases such as homelessness and PTSD or MST. A VA representative mentioned the action teams in place in Washington, D.C. to study the problem of women Veterans and how they were establishing hotlines, and outreach programs.

As a combat zone Veteran with five deployments to the Middle East supporting the Persian Gulf War, I receive disability compensation and treatment at VA for PTSD and MST. I can tell you first hand that since my retirement in 2007 it has been an uphill battle to get the help I need. But I am getting help.  Then I stumbled across a film that is going to be released in January 2012, called, “The Invisible War” that is supposed to address MST in particular.  I talked to a few people I know in the industry about this, and discovered that one of the Veterans that was interviewed and may appear as a main character is a man that was raped and claims this rape caused him to become a pedophile—which he served criminal prison time for. I am writing this blog in the hopes to pre-empt the hate mail that the VA will receive after the public sees his interview in this film.

 Yes, MST is a real issue and needs to be treated, and yes, the VA could be doing a better job, but I do not feel that linking MST to criminal pedophiles will do anything to enhance the medical assistance the veterans receive. If anything it will cause the public to revert to the era of Vietnam when people would spit on veterans in public. I would hope the VA would read this blog and be PRO-ACTIVE with a public affairs campaign for TV ads to advocate for the positive assistance for MST survivors to get treatment.

I am a Veteran. I am proud of my country. The VA is not perfect by any means, but I do not feel it is necessary to embarrass and degrade Veterans who have already suffered MST to be lumped in the same category as criminals who blame MST for their criminal behavior.

Kimberly L. Heartsong enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a weather observer in 1987 and supported three NASA space shuttle missions—she was commissioned in 1989. As an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and Logistician she worked for the Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, FL. Kim deployed five times in support of the Persian Gulf War to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey. She was medically retired as a Lt Colonel in 2007.

This Day in Naval History - Jan. 03

1904 - The cruiser USS Detroit (C 10) lands a Marine detachment at Puerto Plata, Dominican Replublic, to protect American interests during an insurrection.
1944 - Top Marine ace Maj. Gregory Boyington captured after shooting down 28 aircraft. Boyington went on to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions.
1945 - Third Fleet carriers begin a two-day attack against Formosa, Taiwan, destroying 100 aircraft while losing only 22.

Makin Island Sailors and Marines Communicate with Loved Ones via VTC

USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- Several Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) were able to speak face-to-face with their families Dec. 29, using video teleconferencing (VTC) technology between the ship and the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) in San Diego.

While deployed halfway around the world and many time zones from home, dozens of Sailors and Marines have been taking advantage of the VTC program in order to spend some quality time with loved ones.

"Having this type of program available is a definite morale boost for the crew," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Robert Ortloff, who manages the VTC program for the ship. "Talking on the phone is good, but being able to see your family is much better."

Ortloff said the program has been very successful and that during one of the first VTC sessions of the deployment, a Marine was able to see his one-week-old daughter for the first time.

"We started working on this back in July and didn't get a chance to try it out until we deployed," said Ortloff. "This last VTC [Dec. 29] was our fifth since deploying, and it seems to be working great."

During a dedicated four-hour VTC time block, each Sailor or Marine who signed up is allowed 15 minutes with their family. All families take part in the VTC from the FFSC at Naval Base San Diego.

Ortloff said Makin Island's VTC program is open to all Sailors and Marines and is currently offered weekly, but may become a twice-a-week event if the demand increases. Participants are also encouraged to rotate weeks when signing up in order to give their shipmates the same opportunity.

Lt. j.g. James Robinson, a VTC participant, said he hopes the Navy will continue to provide Sailors a way to have some family time at sea.

"I believe that this program will only expand because of new technology and the ever-increasing demand for the product," said Robinson. "It can really be a great comfort because it allows a near real-time interaction with loved ones."

"There is a connection that cannot be expressed efficiently over the internet or a written letter home," added Robinson. "It is a tremendous boost to morale for us to see our children grow or hear the voice of a loved one."

Makin Island and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed to the 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 life cycle, 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.

Bataan's Servicemembers Reach New Year's Goals

USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines attached to the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) closed out the year by reflecting on the personal and professional goals they have achieved, and they set their sights on fresh goals for 2012.

The BATARG deployed more than nine months ago and has since conducted exercises and operations in the U.S. Fifth and Sixth areas of responsibility.

For many Sailors, earning their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) or Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist (EAWS) qualification was a top priority.

"When I first found out I was coming to the ship I was nervous like anyone else would be, but I had a great group of people in my shop that took a lot of time and prepared me for what I needed to get done as soon as possible," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SW) Philip Strube. "I think that if my friends in my shop were not so hard on me that life would have been easier, but I would have done nothing to better myself. I am glad that they put pressure on me to get qualifications because looking back now, I am further ahead than I was expecting."

Having successfully achieved his ESWS goal, Strube plans on earning his EAWS qualification in 2012.

Professional development was an important goal for many service members, with many Sailors and Marines using the long deployment to become well-versed in their rate.

"I not only earned my EAWS qualification, but I made the next rank, allowing me to stay in the Navy and open up even more opportunities down the line," said Aviation Aerographer's Mate 2nd Class (AW) Jason Quinn, attached to Fleet Weather Center Strike Group Oceanographic Team based out of Norfolk, Va. "I have pushed myself, and I have accomplished more than I thought imaginable."

"I earned my ESWS on this deployment and I also was able to show my team that I can be a leader by stepping up as a Seaman Apprentice," said Cryptologic Technician Collection (SW) Seaman Veronica Holston, attached to Navy Information Operations Command. "I made it a priority to learn everything I could about all the equipment that I work around, and that has helped me to become a better cryptologist. I am positive that I will be ready to put on third class when that time comes."

Holston says one of her professional goals for 2012 is to work towards the Information Dominance Warfare Pin (EIDWS).

For Quinn, the deployment gave him a chance to explore his strengths and test his character and has opened the door to new opportunities.

"I owe the Navy a lot," said Quinn. "I have found out more about myself and who I am as a person, and I am proud of myself and proud to be in the Navy."

Marines attached to the embarked 22nd MEU have also gained valuable career development skills during the deployment through the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP).

"I started this deployment as a gray belt in MCMAP, and my goal was to earn my black belt, which is the highest level you can go in MCMAP," said Lance Cpl. Chad Springer. "I am currently a brown belt, and next week I will be doing my final test to get my black belt."

Springer credits the program for teaching him discipline and says that the experience has helped him mature both personally and professionally.

"Earning my black belt is a milestone that I have taken head on, and it will open up a lot of career opportunities for me in the future," said Springer. "I am hoping that since I received my black belt as a lance corporal, that I will be able to pick up rank as a corporal next year. I joined partially for the college aspect and now that I have some of my qualifications out of the way I can focus on getting my degree. I am definitely proud to say that this was the best thing I could have done for myself."

The ships assigned to the BATARG include multipurpose amphibious assault ship Bataan (LHD 5), amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41).

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

Makin Island Sailors and Marines Celebrate the New Year at Sea

USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) celebrated the arrival of 2012 with a day of Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) festivities, including a "Jingle Bell" 5k fun run on the flight deck, sports in the hangar bay and a special holiday meal, Jan. 1.

The Jingle Bell 5K fun run kicked off the day of MWR activities. Light rain showers did not stop the 5K run this time, which had been rescheduled from a previous MWR day last month due to uncooperative weather.

"The weatherman lied again," joked Kristen Venoy, Makin Island's "Fun Boss" and host of the New Year's events. "Nothing stops the Makin Island!"

Venoy said a lot of hard work went into the event and that preparations for the New Year's Eve party and MWR day started several months prior to the ship's deployment.

"Happy New Year Makin Island," said Venoy. "I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us."

A live cable television feed of the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square was shown in the ship's hangar bay on a big screen to help the crew countdown to 2012. As part of the festivities, sparkling cider was served to Sailors and Marines who were encouraged to raise their glasses to celebrate.

Later in the day, teams of five service members competed in a tug-o-war competition. Other activities held during MWR day included basketball, ping pong and a special "Cinema at Sea" movie in the hangar bay.

"I enjoyed getting to play ping pong today; it was my favorite part," said Pfc. Robert Mista, assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) currently deployed aboard Makin Island.

Makin Island's food services division prepared a special meal for the event that included more than 3,000 dinner rolls and more than 1,300 pounds of turkey.

"We started cooking 40 turkeys at 2 a.m. to prepare the meal," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class James Nagle, who supervises Makin Island's galley operations. "Each one took more than four hours to cook."

Ham and steaks were also served to the crew, along with stuffing and yams. Cheesecake was the featured desert of the day with 120 of them being served to the crew.

Makin Island and the 11th MEU departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed 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 life cycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."

New Year's Eve: 500 Hampton Roads Runners Race to Beat the Ball

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Approximately 500 people chose to bypass the celebratory parties and participate in a healthy alternative on New Year's Eve by running in the inaugural Beat the Ball 5K at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Dec. 31.

"We wanted to offer a positive alternative to the traditional New Year's Eve festivities," said John Lucas, Naval Support Activity (NSA) Hampton Roads MWR Portsmouth director.

The run began at 11:35 p.m. and consisted of a fast, flat course that traversed the historic grounds of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

"I thought the run was great, and it was a new challenge for me," said Joshua Washington, who competed in two NSA Hampton Roads MWR runs last year. "It's a better way to get healthy for the New Year instead of going out and drinking."

When Lucas first brought the idea to Capt. Charles Melcher, Commanding Officer of NSA Hampton Roads in March, he was very supportive and thought the concept was great and very distinct.

"Spending New Year's Eve getting healthy by running in a 5K? The idea was so unique, and I knew that John and his team would execute it flawlessly," said Melcher.

After receiving the green light from Melcher, Lucas and his team immediately began planning the race. The idea was to see who could finish the 5K run before midnight and the dropping of the celebratory New Year's Eve ball.

"We wanted to ensure that we encouraged all to participate, regardless if they were going to finish before midnight," said Lucas. "But for the runners who finished before the New Year's Eve ball dropped, we had Beat the Ball 5K commemorative champagne flutes for them filled with sparkling cider."

Initially, Lucas was aiming for 300 participants, but MWR completely surpassed that goal.

"The fact that we had about 500 people come out and participate in our very first Beat the Ball 5K is just remarkable," he said.

When Lori Sherwood first heard about the novel 5K run months ago, she thought it would be fun and decided to sign up.

"I had a great time," she said. "And I heard that it is good luck to cross the finish line on New Year's Day."

Sherwood participates in some type of physical activity every Saturday and also plans to run in a New Year's Day 5K at Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Va. on Jan. 1.

In addition to some giveaways, MWR Portsmouth also had a 16-foot screen set up which broadcasted the New Year's Eve festivities and the ball dropping in New York City. Grandfather Time was also on hand on to cheer everyone on and pass out the awards.

"Planning an event like this took a lot of teamwork between MWR and the Command," said Lucas. "It turned out great, and I am so happy that everyone came out and chose to hang out with us on New Year's Eve and start the New Year off right by getting healthy."

Vinson Sailors Make Clean Sweep

HONG KONG (NNS) -- Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 visited Saint Barnabus' Society and Home as part of a community service (COMSERV) project Dec. 29, during the ship's port visit to Hong Kong.

Saint Barnabus' Society and Home is a homeless shelter in Western District, Hong Kong. For some Vinson Sailors this was the first time they participated in a community outreach event. Other Vinson Sailors had visited the shelter during the ship's last visit to Hong Kong in May.

"I wanted to help someone else so I decided to try a COMSERV for the first time. We went there and cleaned for them and gave a helping hand," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Alfredo J. Razo, assigned to Supply Department's S-2 Division.

"My dad has given so much to his community, and he has inspired me to help out in the community as well," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Apprentice William Arms, assigned to Air Department's V-3 Division.

Vinson Sailors rolled up their sleeves to help and were thankful to participate, even if the work wasn't what they had come to expect from a COMSERV.

"We didn't build or destroy anything, we actually went and cleaned up. That little bit helped the people who work at the shelter," Razo said.

That "little bit" had Sailors sweeping floors, washing windows and cleaning restrooms. As dirt and dust hit the dust pans, the residents of the shelter peeked out to see what all the commotion was about.

"The shelter residents were ecstatic with all the dirt and leaves we took out. They were happy we were there and took time out of our day to help out," Razo said.

"Assisting a foreign community, realizing service isn't limited to just the United States but also to countries around the world brought me a good feeling," Arms said.

Arms was not the only volunteer to express positive feelings about being a world citizen and looking out for those in need.

"I can't wait for the next COMSERV. I'll definitely take more people with me next time," Razo added.

SUBLANT Announces Battle 'E' Winners

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (COMSUBLANT), announced the winners of the 2011 Battle Efficiency (Battle "E") competition Jan. 1.

"The Battle E competition measures our crews against the three tenets laid out for us by the CNO: 'Warfighting first, operate forward, be ready,' as well as the call to action embodied in the design for undersea warfare," said COMSUBLANT Vice Adm. John M. Richardson. "This year's competition showed that across the board, our submarine force is manned by teams that are keenly focused on achieving these goals and are providing our nation's leaders with capability they can use today and into the future. The results were very close and these awards should be a source of great pride for the whole force. Congratulations."

The Battle "E" competition is conducted to strengthen individual command performance, overall force readiness, and to recognize outstanding performance. The criterion for the award is the overall readiness of the command to carry out its assigned wartime tasks as a unit of the Atlantic Submarine Force, and is based on a yearlong evaluation.

One submarine from each submarine squadron in the Atlantic Fleet is recognized. The awards are presented by the commodore of each squadron to the submarine under their command which has demonstrated the highest level of battle readiness during the evaluation year.

The 2011 COMSUBLANT Battle "E" winners, homeports, and commanding officers are:

Commander, Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 2 (Groton, Conn.) - USS Providence (SSN 719), commanded during the competition by Cmdr. Michael Quan and Cmdr. Ray Gabriel.
SUBRON FOUR (Groton, Conn.) - USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), commanded by Cmdr. John McGunnigle.

SUBRON 6 (Norfolk, Va.) - USS Newport News (SSN 750), commanded by Cmdr. Carl Hartsfield

Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 12 (Groton, Conn.) - USS Annapolis (SSN 760), commanded by Cmdr. John Gearhart.

SUBRON 16 (Kings Bay, Ga.) - USS Florida (SSGN 728) (Blue) commanded during the competition by Capt. Gregory Ott and Capt. Randy Crites, and USS Florida (SSGN 728) (Gold), commanded during the competition by Capt. David Kirk and Capt. Thomas Calabrese

SUBRON 20 (Kings Bay, Ga.) - USS Alaska (SSBN 732) (Blue), commanded by Cmdr. Kevin Byrne, and USS Alaska (SSBN 732) (Gold) commanded during the competition by Cmdr. Robert Wirth and Cmdr. Cory Jackson.

CTF Iraqi Maritime Completes Mission And Disestablishes

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Combined Task Force Iraqi Maritime (CTF IM) declared mission complete and was officially disestablished Dec. 31.

CTF IM was established in 2003 as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom to support the government of Iraq in maintaining the integrity of Iraqi territorial waters and the defense of the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya oil terminals. It consisted of naval assets from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, the Royal Australian Navy and the British Royal Navy working alongside elements of the Iraqi Navy and the Iraqi Marines.

The coalition maritime component synchronized training and capacity building efforts between U.S. Forces-Iraq and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

"This is a significant milestone and demonstrates that the Iraqi Navy has the capacity to protect its coastline and offshore assets," said Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

CTF IM oversaw the training between U.S. Navy surface combatants, patrol boats, air assets and Iraqi Maritime forces while exercising tactical control of Iraqi patrol boats to conduct maritime patrol operations.

The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct training, exercises, and further our relations with Iraqi Maritime Forces.

"Our continued partnership with the Iraq Maritime Forces is important to us, and we remain deeply committed to security and stability of the region," said Gaouette.

Naval personnel from various countries, backgrounds and expertise provided hands-on training that prepared the Iraqi Navy and Marines for success.

NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, parts of the Indian Ocean and 20 countries. U.S. Fifth Fleet's mission is to conduct maritime security operations, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations' maritime capabilities in order to promote security and stability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Spouse orientation flight at Kunsan

by Senior Airman Jessica Hines
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- A group of spouses visiting their military husbands and wives stationed in the Republic of Korea were treated to a special flight, Dec. 27 here, as part of a refueling mission between the 80th Fighter Squadron and the 909th Air Refueling Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The group boarded a KC-135 Stratotanker and departed on a two hour refueling mission off the coast of Korea where they were able to see firsthand how aircraft are refueled during flight. Watching from beside the boom operator, a few spouses were able to see their husbands from the cockpit of their F-16 Fighting Falcons as they maneuvered below the KC-135.

Many military members have unaccompanied tours while serving in the ROK and don't get to share their work with the families. Because of the orientation flight, husbands and wives were able to better understand the Air Force mission and the work their spouse do every day.

The flight also served as training for pilots and crew members from both units, who require regular training to keep sharp on such maneuvers.

National Guard's senior officer elevated to Joint Chiefs of Staff

by Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
 National Guard Bureau  

1/3/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The chief of the National Guard Bureau is a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

With the stroke of a pen, the same month the nation's oldest military institution celebrated its 375th birthday, President Barack Obama signed legislation that includes a provision adding the CNGB to the Joint Chiefs on Dec. 31, 2011.

The provision -- part of the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act -- ushers in a change some National Guard historians have called the most significant development since the Militia Act of 1903 codified the modern day dual-status structure of the Guard.

"We are grateful for the efforts the executive and legislative bodies have gone to in placing the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

 We look forward to working alongside the other Joint Chiefs to provide our nation's senior leaders with a fuller picture of the non-federalized National Guard as it serves in support of homeland defense and civil support missions," McKinley said.

The provision is part of an annual federal law that has for the last half-century specified the Defense Department budget.

The 2012 NDAA authorizes $670 billion in spending for Defense Department programs and Energy Department nuclear weapons programs.

Other provisions of the bill that affect the National Guard include re-establishing the position of vice-chief of the National Guard Bureau at the three-star level while rescinding the two-star position of director of the NGB's joint staff.

The bill also requires that National Guard general officers be considered for command of Army North and Air Force North and authorizes funding for the National Guard State Partnership Program.

KC-135 engine wash initiative could reduce fuel, maintenance costs

by Senior Airman Meredith A.H. Thomas
916th Public Affairs Office

12/30/2011 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- During the first week of November, 11 of the 916th Air Refueling Wing's 16 KC-135R Stratotankers were given a proverbial scrub behind the ears when their F108 engines were cleaned with a new water-wash process here.

According to Charles Darnell, lead engine manager with the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Propulsion Division, these engines washes were conducted as part of a proof-of-concept phase for a program overseen by the Air Force Materiel Command.

The process, created and administered on carefully selected test planes by contractors from Pratt & Whitney, is a self-contained and environmentally-friendly procedure.

"The mobile wash unit is taken directly to the plane during scheduled maintenance," said Senior Master Sgt. Laura Gebert, 916 Maintenance Squadron propulsion flight chief. "They run pure atomized, deionized water through the engine three times and catch the water and deposits as they come out the back. There's no pollution because there's no need for soap and there's no runoff."

Gebert said the results were tangible and immediate. She said the contractors showed her the debris and metal shavings that had been freed from the engine during the wash.

With any luck, this little bit of pampering could result in big savings in the future. According to Darnell, a clean engine runs more efficiently and therefore uses less fuel during operation. It will also require less maintenance and will likely have a longer life before replacement is considered.

"It's the same thing as putting additives in the fuel tank of your family car," Darnell said. "It dislodges any build up in the engine and reduces fuel consumption. And it benefits the environment in terms of cleaner exhaust. Only here we're just using water at high pressure and running it through the core of an airplane engine to get essentially the same results."

An initial analysis of the jet engine washing procedure conducted by the OC-ALC, estimated that the program could reduce Air Force fuel usage by nearly 2.5 million gallons each year with the additional advantage of reduced man hours spent fixing malfunctioning engine components. This could mean nearly 10 million dollars in savings annually to the service's bottom line.

Gebert said she sees engine-washing as a benefit especially since the wing's planes frequently fly over salt water and are often deployed to dusty, desert environments where their flight hours are dramatically increased.

The only obstacle, she said, was scheduling.

"It was a difficult process making sure all the planes would be on the ground when the contractors came to wash. We did about three planes each day and we had some issues with our twelfth so it ended up not getting cleaned."

The OC-ALC will use the data from engine washes here and elsewhere to compile a test report scheduled for release in June of 2012. The results will help senior leaders decide if the program is viable for implementation Air Force-wide on a variety of different engines.

"We see this as a net-positive with no negatives," said Darnell. "Needless to say, with the potential for huge savings, this program is receiving a lot of attention from big Air Force."

Airmen, mini C-17 support AF Falcons

by Senior Airman Bobby Pilch
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/30/2011 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite frigid temperatures and a winter rainstorm stretching from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. to Washington, D.C., nothing was going to stop the mini C-17 Globemaster III and its team from their mission at the 2011 Military Bowl at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Wednesday Dec. 28.

Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing traveled from JB CHS to the stadium to showcase the mini C-17, one of two static displays supporting the Air Force Academy at the United Service Organizations' military village during this year's Military Bowl.

"The purpose of the village is to showcase the mission and equipment of the military services," said Linda A. Wagner, Director Special Events U.S. Region for the USO. "The military village took approximately nine months of planning and the event itself, took much longer."

"I am so glad the mini-team could make it," said Mrs. Wagner after discussing the inclement weather Tuesday.

In addition to providing a tangible representation of Air Force aircraft and being a physical presence, the mini C-17 and its crew play a vital role in the public's eyes and ears.

"It's an honor to be able to represent the Air Force, especially the 315 AW", said Master Sgt. Gina L. Louis a crew chief assigned to the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at JB CHS. "I get to travel and educate kids on some of the great benefits the Air Force has to offer. I also enjoy meeting many of the Veterans who come to see the "mini" and listen to their stories of during their time in service."

Thousands of family members and friends of both the Academy and the opposing team, the Toledo Rockets, toured the village and had the opportunity to meet servicemembers from all branches of the military.

Several visitors to the "mini" expected it to fly, which it does not, and other visitors had alternative expectations.

"We expect a win!" said family members of Cadet Briceton Cannada, a sophomore at the Academy and kicker for the Falcons. His family traveled from Raleigh, N.C. and Dillon, S.C. to attend the game and encourage their team.

While the Falcons narrowly lost to the Rockets 41-42 in the final few seconds of the game, the "mini" and its team won a few new fans, inspired young minds and educated attendees about the Air Force Reserve and the missions of the 315 AW.

Guard Bureau Chief Joins Joint Chiefs of Staff


By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2012 – The chief of the National Guard Bureau now is a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley became a member of the Joint Chiefs on Dec. 31, when President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

“We are grateful for the efforts the executive and legislative bodies have gone to in placing the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” McKinley said. “We look forward to working alongside the other Joint Chiefs to provide our nation’s senior leaders with a fuller picture of the nonfederalized National Guard as it serves in support of homeland defense and civil support missions.”

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act provides $670 billion in spending for Defense Department programs and Energy Department nuclear weapons programs.

Other provisions that affect the National Guard include re-establishing the position of vice chief of the National Guard Bureau at the three-star level while rescinding the two-star position of director of the bureau’s joint staff.

The new law also requires that National Guard general officers be considered for command of U.S. Army North and U.S. Air Force North, and it authorizes funding for the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.