Military News

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Real Warriors, NFL Players Association host ‘Game Day’ Event at Quantico

By Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications

Former NFL players, Marines and their families watched the New England Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens at a “Game Day” event hosted by the Real Warriors Campaign Sunday. Hosted at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., the event helped open a dialogue about coping with reintegration, as players shared their own stories about transitioning out of the NFL, and encouraged service members and families to reach out for support when times are tough.

“What they do on the combat field and in life, it’s a parallel with us. We make the transitions from sports to the real world, and they make the transition from combat [to home],” said John Booty, a former defense back for the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Phoenix Cardinals, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “For me, this event is part of giving back.”

Before the game, NFL players spoke about common reintegration challenges and the resources available to them, citing the tools and resources available at www.realwarriors.net, including articles, tip sheets, public service announcements and video profiles.

“A campaign like this is bringing a message from someone who’s not in uniform, but it’s someone our Marines and their families can relate to,” said Col. Daniel J. Choike, base commander. “The message is that asking for help is not showing a sign of weakness. In hearing this from NFL players, that might cause more people to take the time and effort to stop, listen and recognize the fact that there are things going on in their life.”

Ken Harvey, a former linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins, personally related to reintegration challenges. At home after retiring from 11 years in the NFL, he coped with depression.

“Athletes are taught to be tough, and Marines are taught the same thing. Because you have that mindset it can be hard to say, ‘hey—I’m struggling with something.’ I’ve dealt with it myself,” said Harvey, who has participated in the event for the second year. “I want to help people [in a] transition to [know] that it’s okay to say something. Then the doors will open and you can get help.”

The event also featured the video profile of Marine Staff Sgt. Josh Hopper, who reached out for support after experiencing post-combat psychological concerns following a traumatic brain injury from improvised explosive device (IED) blasts.

After presentations, players, service members and families enjoyed food and conversation as they cheered on their favorite teams.

Real Warriors Campaign has partnered with the NFL Players Association since 2010 to host “Game Day” events at bases around the country, including Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Drum, N.Y., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Fort Bragg, N.C., this month.

VAW-123 Support Personnel Prepare for Enterprise's Final Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Peter Melkus, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- As the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) enters the second week of its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) Jan. 23, Sailors assigned to the carrier's squadrons continue to work around the clock to ensure their aircraft and the personnel who make them fly are ready for Big E's upcoming deployment.

For Sailors assigned to the "Screwtops" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, the importance of keeping aircraft "mission ready" is amplified by the fact that they possess only a fraction of the aircraft their fellow squadrons have.

With only four E-2C Hawkeye aircraft aboard Enterprise, "Screwtop" mechanics have worked tirelessly since the conclusion of their last deployment in July to ensure their upkeep and repair skills remain on point.

"During the span of two months, our Sailors completed three major aircraft modifications that will improve the capabilities of the E-2C in relation to the strike group's deployment mission," said Kersey. "They have done an amazing job maintaining our aircraft while building upon their range of skills in the process."

From mid-July through the commencement of COMPTUEX, "Screwtop" Sailors completed more than 17,000 man hours of maintenance, which included nearly 6,000 preventive and corrective maintenance actions. The efforts of VAW 123 mechanics on the ground also paved the way for pilots to complete 459 flight training hours in the air.

"Unlike last deployment, 80 percent of our Sailors are now returning with previous deployment experience," said Lt. Robert Franklin Kersey III, VAW-123 assistant maintenance officer. "Our crew is much sharper now. They know what to expect and can correct issues in a shorter turnaround time."

While "Screwtop" mechanics are charged with the responsibility of keeping their aircraft in proper working order, VAW 123's administrative team is responsible for keeping the affairs of the more than 150-Sailor crew in order as well.

"Our job is to take care of the people taking care of the aircraft," said Yeoman 2nd Class Jarrell R. Riggins, who has worked with the VAW 123 administrative team for the last two-and-a-half years. "Whatever the issue, whether personal or career-oriented, we focus on those issues so our Sailors can, in turn, focus on their jobs."

Riggins said his team is very excited to be part of Enterprise's final deployment, and it's their goal to do the best job they can do every day in order to account for and take care of every Sailor within the VAW 123 command.

Enterprise is currently underway conducting training exercises and evolutions as part of a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for the ship's 22nd and final deployment following 50 years of naval service.

For news regarding USS Enterprise or the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, visit www.enterprise.navy.mil, or the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65 and follow on Twitter @TheCVN65.

Wisconsin Airmen hone skills under Florida sun

Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

About 150 Airmen from the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing returned to the white snow of Wisconsin from the white sands of Key West, Fla., following a joint training exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps Jan. 7-21.

The two-week exercise, based out of Naval Air Station Key West, pits the fighter wing's F-16 Fighting Falcons against Marine F-18 Hornets in simulated combat.

Airmen in nearly every aspect of flying, aircraft operations and aircraft maintenance made the trip to take advantage of the near-optimal training conditions - including the time, airspace and weather to support increased training sorties.

"Right now we can get so much more flying and training in than we can do at home station," said Lt. Col. Gary Pelletier, deputy commander of the 115th Maintenance Group. "Everyone's been performing great."

Missing only a few sorties due to weather, 115th Maintenance and other fighter wing support personnel helped pilots log nearly 120 sorties and more than 175 flying hours.

"Key West provides a premier location for accomplishing our defensive counter - air scenarios, due to its combination of superior airspace, ramp space for adversaries, briefing and debriefing capabilities and the integration it provides for our GCI controllers and our range training officers for real time kill removal and training through scenario management," said Lt. Col. Erik Peterson, 115th Operations Group commander.

The airspace surrounding Key West provided Madison's fighter pilots the opportunity to train and perform in conditions not available in Wisconsin. For instance, the designated airspace for this exercise is about four times larger than the training airspace in Wisconsin. Also, the elevation cap is boosted significantly from 28,000 to 50,000 feet. These conditions allow for supersonic speeds.

"[Key West] provides an excellent opportunity for flying against the F-16 Fighting Falcon in some of the best air space the country has to offer," said Marine Capt. Michael Huck, F-18 pilot with the Marine Fighter Attack (VFMA) 314 based out of Miramar, Calif.

"The F-16 is a very capable aircraft ... very capable weapons system," Huck said. "So we look to use our tactics and find gaps in those strengths so we can get out there and have a good engagement."

Peterson said he appreciates the value of the exercise and training with the Marines as well.

"The VMFA 314, as an extremely professional organization, provided outstanding adversary support," Peterson said. "It went very, very smooth overall."

For the maintainers specifically, the pace of the exercise provided some very valuable experience across the spectrum of Airmen - from the youngest to the more veteran force. The flying schedule was "6-turn-6," meaning the Airmen launched six of the seven F-16s on station and had only a couple hours to recover, reconfigure and fix any issues before the next six took off.

"Many of our traditional Guard members have not had an opportunity to work day-after-day ... experiencing what actual flying and maintenance operations are really like over more than just one drill weekend," said Capt. Christy Kasten, deputy commander of the 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"The training our traditional Airmen receive on deployments like Key West is highly valuable to them, increasing the knowledge of their job specifically as well as the other areas that support maintenance," she said.

The exercise also enhanced the maintainers' relationship with the pilots and operations personnel - a value that will be extremely beneficial to the fighter wing in the future.

"They were extremely flexible in meeting our flying windows and our aircraft configuration requirements," Peterson said. "They provided the operations group with a solid basis going into the months ahead in preparation for our Operational Readiness Inspection.

Roughly 50 aircrew and support Airmen from the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing, along with three KC-135 Stratotankers, also gained valuable training and supported the exercise by providing in-flight refueling to both the F-16's and F-18's throughout the two-week training.

"They can stay up here, do two flights instead of one, train with multiple units and also practice their in-flight refueling skills as well," said Master Sgt. Will Mattert, in-flight refueling for 128th ARW.

Deploying and sustaining flying operations, involving nearly 150 Airmen and seven fighter jets, to any location is no easy task. In addition to pilots and maintainers, medics, security forces, force support personnel, life support and many other support personnel were on hand to achieve training and contribute to the overall exercise.

"Each and every Airman on this deployment can be proud to know they directly contributed to the success of this exercise," Kasten said.

It’s All About the Guns

Firepower and other February Programs
Battleship NORTH CAROLINA
February 18, 2012
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM

WILMINGTON, NC - Learn about and explore the Battleship's 16-inch and 5-inch guns from the gun houses to the ammunition loading compartments; the 40mm and 20mm guns, and the weapons that they replaced (1.10 and 50 caliber guns). The finest guns are of little use without the means to direct their fire accurately at the target. Presenters will discuss the various types of fire control equipment (directors/optical range finders, radar, computers) and how main and secondary battery plotting rooms and the combat information center operated. Participants will enjoy a lively, engaging, in-depth program with presentations, hands-on experience, and serious exploration for adult learners.

The program is for adults only (ages 16 and up) and limited to 40 participants. It is not appropriate for those who may have difficulty climbing narrow ladders. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Registration and payment are due by Thursday, February 16, 2012. Event is $95; $85 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Program includes a box lunch. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

February 26 from noon until 10:00 PM, the Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club will operate from the Battleship North Carolina during the North Carolina QSO Party.  This annual “HAM RADIO” event allows amateur radio operators worldwide to contact as many of North Carolina’s 100 counties as possible.  The Battleship (NI4BK) is one of four stations worth “extra points” if contacted.

The Club will communicate by voice through the Ship’s original cabling and antennas. Morse code communications will originate from the TDE transmitter, placed in service aboard the Battleship in 1944, and restored to operating condition by Club members in 2005, after a 50+ year slumber. Contact for the event is club member and battleship volunteer, Jack Jacobs, who may be reached at 791-1566 or wd4oin@arrl.net.  For other club activities aboard visit http://ac4rc.org/default.htm.

Interested in more details of the magnificent World War II vessel? March 7, 2012, the Battleship will present the Power Plant Tour. This in-depth program will give details about the ship's boilers, turbines and reduction gears, steam and diesel powered service turbo generators, along with electrical distribution, water distillation, and steering mechanisms.  Also, October 13, go behind the scenes of the Battleship and explore un-restored areas not open to the public. For more information on these programs or to learn more about the new Professional Military Education Program (PME) please call 910-251-5797.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit www.battleshipnc.com or follow us on Facebook.com/ncbb55 and Twitter.com/battleshipnc for more information.

Air Force Leaders Say Strategy Calls for F-22, F-35 Capabilities

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Fifth-generation fighter aircraft are key to America maintaining domain dominance in the years ahead, Air Force officials said here today.

Lt. Gen. Christopher D. Miller, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, and Maj. Gen. Noel T. “Tom” Jones, the service’s director for operation capability requirements, said the technology – exemplified in the F-22 and F-35 – assumes greater importance in combating growing anti-access, area-denial capabilities.

The generals spoke during a media roundtable in the Pentagon.

Fifth-generation aircraft are particularly valuable as part of the new defense strategy guidance that President Barack Obama unveiled here earlier this month, they said. That strategy explicitly affirms that the United States military must be able to defeat ant-access, area-denial threats.

“This is not a new thing,” Miller said. “Militaries have operated in ant-access environments probably since the beginning of time. But what is different, and why fifth-generation aircraft is relevant to that, is that operating in anti-access environments continues to become more complex and challenging.”

There is a continuing competition between nations developing anti-access capabilities and others devising ways to defeat that, the general said. “Fifth-generation aircraft are a key ability that the Air Force is bringing to the nation’s ability to operate in those environments,” he added.

The Air Force has flown against anti-access environments since it was founded. American fighters countered this capability in the skies over Korea and Vietnam. Airmen faced off against surface-to-air missiles ringing Hanoi. In the Persian Gulf War, airmen defeated the ground-to-air threat over Iraq, and most recently, they knocked out the anti-access capabilities around Tripoli.

But missile technology has become more complex and more difficult to counter. Command-and-control capabilities have grown. This will require a new set of capabilities flying against them, Jones told reporters. “The fifth-generation capabilities that the F-22 and F-35 possess will allow us to deal with that environment,” he said.

F-22s and F-35s bring maneuverability, survivability, advanced avionics and stealth technology to the fight. Both planes are multi-role capable, able to fight air-to-air and air-to-ground.

“These capabilities give our leaders the ability to hold any target at risk, anywhere in the globe, at any time,” Jones said. “I think it is important for any adversary to understand we possess those capabilities and intend to continue the development.”

Another aspect of the strategy includes the ability to operate against adversaries across the spectrum of conflict. F-22s and F-35s are particularly relevant at the top of the spectrum, “where we can’t always set the conditions for our operations as easily as we have in the last couple of decades of military conflict,” Miller said.

This is an extremely valuable capability that must be nurtured, the generals said.

Americans have become used to having domain dominance, Miller said, expecting U.S. service members to be able to operate on land, at sea, in the air with a fair degree of autonomy as they pursue national objectives.

“This is not a birthright,” Miller said. “That is something we have had to work very hard in the past to gain, … and we can’t take for granted that we are going to be able to support the joint team in future environments unless we maintain a high-end capability to target an adversary’s air forces, their surface-to-air forces and basically be able to seize control of parts of the air space and other domains the joint commander needs.

“It’s an Air Force capability,” he added, “but it’s a key Air Force contribution to the joint warfighting capability of the nation.”

U.S.-Japan Exercises Underscore New Strategy Guidance Focus

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Two bilateral command post exercises with Japan kicked off yesterday and today, reflecting the growing strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region as outlined in the new defense strategy guidance President Barack Obama announced earlier this month.

Japanese and U.S. military forces launched Keen Edge 12 yesterday at Yokota, Japan. The biennial exercise continues through Jan. 27.

Today, Exercise Yama Sakura kicked off, with operations to run through Feb. 5.

Both exercises are designed to increase interoperability of U.S. and Japanese forces and their readiness to defend against external threats, officials said.

By providing realistic, combined and joint training that enhances both countries’ combat readiness posture, they in turn provide for regional stability and security, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Clinton, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman.

“These regular engagements showcase our commitment to peace and security in the region and to the protection of U.S. interests and those of our partners and allies,” he said.

Keen Edge historically has been part of an annual exercise series that alternates between field training exercises, called Keen Sword, and command-and-control exercises.

About 500 U.S. personnel and about 1,380 Japanese forces are participating in this year’s CPX, during which headquarters staffs will use computer simulations to practice steps they would take in the event of a crisis or contingency.

Participants will practice responding to events ranging from non-combatant evacuations and force-protection scenarios to integrated air and missile defense to enhance bilateral coordination and cooperation, officials said.

Forces involved will use the computer-based Joint Theater Level Simulation System to direct and respond to exercise events. This system, officials reported, helps provide a realistic environment for commanders and staffs as they react and respond in real time to events generated by computer simulation.

U.S. participants in Keen Edge 2012 hail from U.S. Forces Japan headquarters; 13th Air Force, with headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and in Japan through its Detachment 1; U.S. Naval Forces Japan; U.S. Army Japan; and Marine Forces Japan.

Meanwhile, nearly 800 U.S. military personnel and more than 3,500 Japanese forces are participating in Yama Sakura, the largest bilateral exercise between the U.S. Army Pacific and Japanese ground forces since the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March.

About 150 U.S. soldiers from the 8th Army headquarters element at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, will serve as the higher command for participating U.S. forces, which include members of U.S. Army Japan.

The exercise, officials said, will focus on bilateral and joint planning, coordination and interoperability of ground-based elements of the U.S. and Japan security alliance.

Officials called these command post exercises a cost-effective way to provide participants realistic and unobtrusive training in a simulated crisis or contingency operation while improving their ability to work together.

During senior-level talks between U.S. and Japanese military leaders last month about future operations and engagement between the two countries, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ted Kresge, 13th Air Force commander, said interoperability strengthens the bilateral alliance.

Kresge noted the success of the humanitarian relief mission after a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan last March. American aid to the Japanese ultimately included 20 ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, almost 20,000 personnel and huge amounts of supplies and heavy equipment.

“As was demonstrated during Operation Tomodachi, there is tremendous value added in working and exercising side-by-side,” Kresge said. “When real-world events occur, we are better able to operate in a joint environment and respond effectively and efficiently.”

Meanwhile, 8th Army officials said, staff coordination exercises like Yama Sakura allow the staff to practice their role as a mobile warfighting headquarters, which in turn strengthens their ability to defend Korea as well as maintain regional security.

“This exercise improves 8th Army’s ability to deter or defeat aggression on the Korean peninsula,” said Army Brig. Gen. David J. Conboy, 8th Army’s deputy commander. “It also helps strengthen the Republic of Korea-United States alliance by enabling critical staff coordination and collaboration at the multinational level.”

Clinton said engagements like these support the new defense strategy guidance that recognizes the challenges as well as opportunities in Asia and the Pacific.

That strategic guidance, announced earlier this month, provides a strategic vision intended to guide the military through 2020 with its heavy focus on the region.

“Through continuous evaluation of our force posture and engagement activities, we will work with our regional partners and allies to maintain the military strength to protect our interests, defend our allies and deter potential adversaries from acts of aggression and intimidation,” Clinton said.

U.S. relationships with Asian allies and key partners will remain critical to the region’s future stability and growth, Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, U.S. Pacific Command’s commander, told the Annual Hawaii Military Partnership Conference on Jan. 6, the day after the guidance was announced.

In addition to strengthening existing alliances that have provided a vital foundation for regional security, Willard said, the United States also will strive to forge closer ties with emerging regional partners.