Military News

Monday, January 09, 2012

This Day in Naval History - Jan. 09

From the Navy News Service

1861 - Union steamer Star of the West is fired on by the Confederates in Charleston Harbor just before the American Civil War.
1918 - The Naval Overseas Transportation Service is established to carry cargo during World War I.
1945 - Carrier aircraft begin a two-day attack on Japanese forces at Luzon, Philippines.

Official: Strategic Guidance Recognizes U.S. NATO Commitments

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2012 – As the United States implements new strategic guidance that increases its focus on Asia and the Pacific, it also needs to pursue “smart defense initiatives” as it continues to honor its NATO commitments, a senior defense official said today.

Budget constraints will demand new efficiencies and new approaches to collective defense, Julianne Smith, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy, told reporters at the Foreign Press Center here.

Smith joined Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phillip Gordon in explaining how the new strategic guidance will impact defense in the European theater.

“The trans-Atlantic relationship remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world,” Gordon said, with Europe remaining the United States’ principal partner in promoting global and economic security.

“And so the strategy outlined last week reaffirms our commitment to European security,” he said, and continued commitment to the so-called Article 5 responsibility to aid any NATO ally in the event of an attack.

Gordon underscored the need to continue enhancing U.S. cooperation and interoperability with European partners to maintain this commitment and address global challenges.

He cited the recent military cooperation in Libya and current operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Balkans and Horn of Africa, as well as diplomatic cooperation on issues ranging from non-proliferation and missile defense.

Smith said the strategic guidance comes at a “pivotal moment” for the United States. “We have just ended our mission in Iraq, we are transitioning through our mission in Afghanistan and obviously we face unprecedented challenges here at home,” she said.

Looking to the future, she said rebalancing of force structure toward Asia and the Pacific will require the United States to adapt its posture in Europe to reflect the evolving strategic landscape.

Pending cuts will put “added pressure on all of us collectively to come up with some innovative pooling, sharing [and] multilateral procurement,” she said, as well as innovative approaches to “doing more with less.”

The NATO Summit that President Barack Obama will host this May in Chicago is expected to address these and other challenges, with a focus on capabilities and partnerships and the transition in Afghanistan.

Gordon said the new strategy guidance reaffirms many of the objectives the alliance already is pursing while emphasizing two core messages. It reinforces that the United States is “absolutely committed to maintaining the capabilities we need for Article 5,” he said. Meanwhile, he said it demonstrates that “we’re absolutely committed, not just to maintaining, but to enhancing our ability to partner with Europeans on global security missions.”

Smith clarified that while the new guidance will alter, but not eliminate, the so-called “two-war construct” -- the United States’ ability to engage in two conflicts simultaneously.

“We will not be sizing our forces for two overlapping large-scale ground-intensive combat operations,” she said. “Instead, if we find ourselves engaged in a major combat operation in one theater, we will focus on spoiling the objectives of an aggressor elsewhere.”

This, she explained, will enable the United States to reduce the size of the force while also taking advantage of new concepts of operations in fields such as space, cyber, special operations and precision strikes.

Guam Corpsmen Hold Bone Marrow Registry Drive

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gabrielle Blake, USS Frank Cable Public Affairs

POLARIS POINT, Guam (NNS) -- Hospital corpsmen assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) and U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, held a Bone Marrow Registry Drive at Polaris Point Jan. 3-4.

The purpose of the drive was to disseminate information about the new process of collecting bone marrow.

"We are trying to get rid of that stigma of pain," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rebecca Jones, assigned to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam. "Most people know about the old, painful method with the giant needle. This new process is not as bad. It is just like donating a unit of blood."

The drive was held across the Department of Defense (DoD) allowing Sailors and anyone who is DoD sponsored and between the age of 18 and 60 to be placed into the registry. Donors filled out personal information and gave cheek swab samples.

Jones said everyone who is able to enter the registry, should.

"You could be in the registry and never get called up or you can get called up and once they do a little bit more testing, you may not be a match," said Jones.

"Finding a match is hard," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Edgardo Victorino, assigned to Frank Cable, "So the more people who register, the more selections there are for them to pick out someone compatible."

During the drive, the corpsmen explained the benefits of being a bone marrow donor.

"You never know who will need it some day, said Victorino. "It could be your wife or child. It's an opportunity to save someone's life."

"The people you are donating to are dying so you are giving somebody a second chance at life that they would never have," said Jones. "If you really think about it, it is two weeks of a little bit of discomfort for you and a whole lifetime for that person you are donating to."

Frank Cable is being temporarily relieved by USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) as the primary afloat maintenance activity in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

War Yields Lessons in Preventing, Treating Eye Injuries

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2012 – Ten years of conflict has given rise, not only to the world’s best body armor and state-of-the-art battlefield technologies, but also a new understanding about ways to prevent eye injuries and treat those who suffer from them.

When the war in Afghanistan kicked off in 2002, ballistic goggles were hard to come by in the military supply system and combat troops rarely wore them, Army Col. (Dr.) Donald Gagliano, executive director of the Vision Center of Excellence, told American Forces Press Service.

As improvised explosive devices became the enemy’s weapons of choice, eye injuries soared, affecting as many as 29 percent of all battlefield casualties, Gagliano estimated. So as the military began introducing improved body and head protection, ensuring troops had and wore ballistic glasses also became a top priority.

Eye injuries initially dropped, Gagliano reported, but as IEDs and high-energy blast waves become increasingly powerful, eye injuries continued to take their toll. So as part of its charter, the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence is focusing on ways to prevent injuries and improve the care and rehabilitation for wounded warriors.

In addition to exploring these areas, the center is promoting research that could one day restore vision to those who have lost it, Gagliano reported.

Eye prosthetics are likely to be a decade or more away, but Gagliano said he’s optimistic that initiatives under way will bear fruit. In the meantime, Gagliano and his deputy, Dr. Mary Lawrence, offered several suggestions to help prevent battlefield eye injuries and ensure the best outcome when they occur:

-- Wear ballistic eye protection. While not completely eliminating eye injuries, they greatly reduce their occurrence, particularly against fragments. One of the programs at the Center of Excellence is exploring improvements to existing ballistic eye protection devices.

-- Avoid wearing contact lenses in combat environments, particularly in dirty, sandy areas. In addition to the high risk of infection, wearers risk exposure to flying fragments from explosions or weapons fire.

-- Consider refractive surgery to improve vision problems and eliminate the need for corrective glasses or contact lenses.

-- Don’t apply pressure to the eye area when providing battlefield care for a comrade suspected of having an eye injury. Pressure may be the appropriate treatment to some wounds, but in the case of eye injuries, it can cause severe complications and even blindness.

-- Apply a Fox Eye Shield, if available, over the eyes of any patient suspected of having an eye injury. Fox Eye Shields are now included in every Air Force and Marine Corps individual first aid kit, and the Army is expected to begin adding eye shields to its kits soon. If one of these metal devices isn’t immediately available, Lawrence recommended using another rigid surface such as the bottom of a coffee cup or even knee pads or elbow pads and taping it over the patient’s eyes.

Vision has a major impact on military readiness as well as quality of life, Gagliano emphasized.

“If you can’t see, you can’t fight,” he said. “And the bottom line is, that makes not only you, but also your entire unit, vulnerable.”

Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group Arrives in U.S. 5th Fleet AOR

From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

USS CARL VINSON, At sea (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Jan. 9.

While in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, Carl Vinson CSG will conduct missions supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Commanded by Rear Adm. Thomas Shannon, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 will also participate in routine scheduled exercises and engagements with coalition and regional partners.

"We will work closely with our regional partners to demonstrate our commitment to security and stability in the region," said Shannon. "Our arrival in Fifth Fleet represents our commitment to stand by our partners, friends and allies, and protect the free flow of commerce in the region."

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is deployed with guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97). Embarked aboard Vinson is Destroyer Squadron 1 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, which include the "Fighting Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, the "Sunliners" of VFA 81, the "Stingers" of VFA 113, the "First of the Fleet" of (VFA) 25, the "Garudas" of Electronic Attack Squadron 134, the "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 and the "Red Lions" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 15.

Carl Vinson and embarked CVW 17 departed its homeport of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., Nov. 30, for a deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. CSG 1 departed Hong Kong Dec. 30, after a three-day port visit, prior to transiting to U.S. 5th Fleet.
The U.S. Navy 5th Fleet AOR encompasses 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.

UPDATED: Military Child of the Year Nominations Close This Week

Deserving Young Patriots Will Win $5,000

SAN ANTONIO – Operation Homefront is announcing the last call for 2012 Military Child of the Year Award nominations.  The award will be given to an outstanding military child from each Service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.  The winners, who each will receive $5,000, will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for special recognition ceremony on April 5, 2012.  Nominations are being accepted online until January 15, 2012 at www.OperationHomefront.net/MCOY.  

Ideal candidates for the Military Child of the Year Award demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and thrive in the face of the challenges of military life.  They demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities.

“The sons and daughters of America’s service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age,” said Jim Knotts, chief executive officer, Operation Homefront.  “Children in military families understand sacrifice and live with the concept of service.  This is what the Military Child of the Year Award honors.”

Nominees must:
           Must have valid military ID or currently be enrolled in DEERS
           Must be between the ages of 8-18
           Must be able to travel to Washington, D.C., for the ceremony on April 5, 2012

Finalists must have a background check to confirm the information provided in the nomination and must provide references.

Recipients of the 2011 awards are profiled in the book “Our Youngest Heroes,” available through Amazon.com.

Family Matters Blog: Career Fair to Focus on Military Spouses

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2012 – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hosting a career fair in Washington, D.C., this week dedicated solely to helping military spouses find jobs.

The Hiring Our Heroes – Military Spouse Career Forum will feature a host of national and local employers specifically seeking qualified military and veteran spouses, as well as resume and interview coaching, and resources for starting a business. The forum is scheduled for Jan. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Spouses of active duty and reserve members, retirees, veterans and fallen service members are welcome to attend.

Job seekers and employers can register for this free event and learn about other chamber-sponsored career fairs around the country at hoh.greatjob.net. Be sure to upload your resume when registering. For assistance with registration, email hiringourheroes@uschamber.com.

The Chamber of Commerce launched the Hiring Our Heroes program last year. This yearlong, nationwide effort is aimed at helping veterans and spouses find employment, with a goal of conducting 100 hiring fairs across the country.

The chamber also is involved with the Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program, Student Veterans Internship and Employment Program and a Women Veterans and Military Spouses Employment Program.

This “aggressive agenda,” officials noted on the chamber’s website, “focuses on one measure of success: jobs for the 1 million unemployed veterans in America.”

Bataan Loses 921 Pounds

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) James Turner, USS Bataan Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, Red Sea (NNS) -- The 175 Sailors and Marines aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) who finished the 17-week "Cruise-to-Lose" program Jan. 4 lost a total of 921 lbs. while deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

The Bataan Cruise-to-Lose program featured a voluntary competition for service members wanting to shed excess weight during deployment.

"The program was very motivational and positive," said Cpl. Charles Ott, the overall Cruise-to-Lose winner. "I lost 49 pounds and I believe I can keep it off now because the program was designed to lose weight over an extended period of time. It has become second nature to me to eat healthy and exercise regularly."

The program was administered by representatives from the embarked Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8 and allowed every participant to follow their own routine as long as they followed a few simple rules, such as drinking a glass of water before every meal, dedicating time for physical exercise three to five times each week, and limiting desserts to the weekends.

The participants were required to have their weight and blood pressure checked once each week and have their body mass index checked once every two weeks to keep track of everyone's progress.

"I found a lot of my motivation every week when we did our weigh-ins," said Ott. "Seeing my progress helped me stay motivated the entire competition. When I first got on the Bataan I had a goal of losing just a few pounds because my jeans fit a little tight. I lost more than I imagined and I feel a great deal of accomplishment as well as feeling a lot healthier physically."

FST program coordinators e-mailed the participants every week with tips on physical exercise and nutrition. Cruise-to-Lose also offered a nutrition class and physical training for anyone who needed a little help coming up with a workout regimen on their own.

"I helped a few participants improve their overall fitness by giving them workouts that consisted of half cardio exercise and half weight lifting-exercise," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) John Luna, FST-8 Command Fitness Leader.

"I think the hardest part for most people trying to lose weight while deployed is staying motivated," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Denecia Weekes, one of the program coordinators. "A deployment can be discouraging at times, but a friendly competition always helps people to stay motivated."

Some of the participants say the success was due to the support of everyone wanting to achieve the same goal.

"The Cruise-to-Lose program allowed Sailors and Marines to work as a team to achieve their own personal goals," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) James Barrier, a program participant who lost 12 lbs. "It's beneficial for everyone to have a support group to keep you on track. Even motivated people have tendencies to let their diet slip and even skip going to the gym on occasion, but this program helped a lot of people stay honest by working together."

Although Sailors and Marines who participated in the program did so for the long-term benefits that regular exercise and good nutrition provide, the $100 Amazon gift card that was awarded monthly to the participant who had experienced the biggest percentage decrease in body fat, and the $250 Amazon gift card that was awarded at the half-way point were welcome prizes.

"Most of the rewards came just in time for the holidays, which made Christmas shopping a little easier financially for the winners," said Weekes.

Sailors and Marines expressed their satisfaction with their Cruise-to-Lose experience and indicated they recommend it to fellow shipmates.

"If the Cruise-to-Lose program is offered again I would highly recommend it to any service member looking to lose a few a pounds," said Ott. "Just remember to be patient because it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to do it the correct way."

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

Ceremony dedicates Wisconsin's first Armed Forces Reserve Center

By Sgt. Tyler Lasure
112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and senior military officials cut the ribbon Saturday (Jan. 7) for a new $24 million building on Madison's east side, replacing old armories, saving money, and allowing for joint training with Wisconsin National Guard, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Reserve components.

The Armed Forces Reserve Center, the first in Wisconsin, is home to 16 units with approximately 800 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the reserve components of the armed forces.

"The best part of this facility is that all the military units are together, it is truly a joint organization and you learn from each other," said Navy Capt. Gary Haben, commander of the Navy Reserve Component Command-Midwest. "When we are forward, we are together, so it's great to train together too."

The AFRC not only allows for communication between branches of service, but also for unique training opportunities.

"We have the electronic warfare simulation system, there is a medical unit over here and they have all the unique equipment that medical units have, and the other units can see the equipment we have in ordinance and logistics,” said Army Col. Ronald Jones, commander of the Army Reserve's 646th Regional Support Group. “Whereas, before we were all in different locations and didn't have that stuff, over here we can see the whole spectrum.”

The engagement skills trainer - a virtual firing range - is one example of a training opportunity that the Marine Corps Reserve can share with other units in the building. Also, the 646th can share their medical training with other units in the building. The ability to train with other units and branches of service is important as service members continue to deploy.

"This Armed Forces Reserve Center also recognizes the truth that you have proven around the globe, that you are professional and capable to serve alongside your active duty counterparts," Kleefisch said. "But to maintain that capability and that readiness requires a facility to really meet those needs, and I think you can agree that this beautiful building and the ones around it afford the opportunity to train and unite in a 21st-century capability."

Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, also praised the service members.

"Everybody in this room in uniform is a citizen Soldier, citizen Marine, or citizen Sailor, but first and foremost they are citizens of the state of Wisconsin,” Dunbar said. “On the weekends and in the summers and when the nation calls on them - as they have called many times since Sept. 11, 2001 - they suit up and they go overseas to defend this country and they comeback, put the uniform back in the closet, and go back to their careers.

"There is something uniquely American and special about that relationship," Dunbar continued. "I tell you ladies and gentlemen, as long as we have facilities like this and men and women like this in uniform, we are never going to lose touch with what America is all about."

The new facility also allows an economic advantage as well as training opportunities. The AFRC meets or exceeds LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver criteria, meaning the building meets up to 60 percent of potential efficiencies in sustainability, energy and water conservation, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

"We spend a lot of money on utilities in older buildings," Haben said. "These newer ones are more efficient and cheaper to operate, so everybody wins there - the taxpayer especially."

It is estimated that the facility saved $12.7 million in renovation costs.

"It is a great idea to combine all the services in one building,” said Lt. Cmdr. Roger Walker, commander of the Navy Operational Support Center, one of the tenant units in the AFRC. "It saves money, lets us get to know one another, and I'm sure it is going to spread and before you know it, it will be only joint centers everywhere else."

Sailors and Marines Practice Damage Control Procedures aboard USS New Orleans

By Mass Communication Specialist2nd Class Dominique Pineiro, Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs

USS NEW ORLEANS, At sea (NNS) -- Dozens of Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary unit (MEU) embarked aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) trained alongside the ship's crew of Sailors to learn the principles of shipboard damage control, Jan. 5.

The exercises, conducted by the ship's damage control training team (DCTT), were designed to help Marines learn the basics of damage control aboard a Navy vessel and integrate the green-side manpower into the ship's damage control procedures.

"If we ever needed to use them, they would have the basic knowledge to make them effective in a damage control situation," said Chief Damage Controlman Jody Schilling, New Orleans' DCTT leader.

Schilling said that in the event of a major shipboard emergency, all hands would be involved, and the Marine manpower would be extremely important.

"Some of the things Marines are really good at can be applied to damage control," said Schilling. "We want to use their skill sets, and apply our skill sets, so we can make a more effective team."

Training consisted of the basic fundamentals of damage control including dewatering, pipe patching, hose handling, personal protective equipment and how to dress-out properly.

"We want everyone [on the ship] to have the basic DC fundamentals," said Schilling. "You want to train to be prepared for everything. If the time comes when we have to execute, I want to make sure we're ready to go."

The exercises also served as a refresher for New Orleans' Sailors, who are required to go through basic damage training when they report to the command.

"Whenever a Sailor checks on board, they immediately get the overall basics," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Justin Kuhlman. "This is a bit more hands on, but they should already be familiar with everything here."

Lance Cpl. Justin Mischloney, a Marine assigned to the 11th MEU who took part in the training, said the training served as a way to help him get familiar with all the damage control equipment in case he was ever called upon to help in an emergency.

"I feel it's really important we all know this," said Mischloney. "We outnumber the Sailors and if anything happens and a Sailor becomes a casualty, a Marine will have to step in and take his place."

New Orleans is part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.