Military News

Thursday, February 02, 2012

From surf to snow: Hawaii Guard members learn cold weather survival tactics

By Army National Guard Spc. Zachary Sheely
Colorado National Guard

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo.  - The Hawaii National Guard’s 93rd Civil Support Team joined the Colorado National Guard’s 8th Civil Support Team to train on cold weather survival tactics as part of their support role in operations at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo.

In November 2011, the CONG’s 8th CST provided support to the Hawaiians during the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in Hawaii.

“This is a bit of reciprocity for us to be able to come out here and support the Colorado team after they helped us last month,” said Army National Guard Lt. Col. Joe Laurel, commander of the 93rd Civil Support Team. “We’re thrilled to be able to come out to Colorado and work with the CONG and support them.”

Along the way, the Hawaiians were able to benefit from unique training situations not available to them in their native land – cold weather training.

The instruction included focusing on areas vital to survival in the snow, such as land navigation, snow shelter construction, first-aid and building a fire in deep snow conditions.

“We don’t get this kind of cold weather survival training in Hawaii,” said Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Noah Raymond of the 93rd. “However, we are not just stationed in Hawaii – we’re mobile too – so it’s really good stuff to know.”

Many of the Hawaiian Guard members had never experienced high altitude mountain terrain.

“We have mountains in Hawaii, but nothing like here,” Laurel said. “We wanted to expose our team to cold and snow. The training that’s being provided to our team by the (5th Battalion) 19th Special Forces Group (COARNG) has been tremendously fantastic.”

“I have been in snow before, but just to have fun,” said Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Linford Ramos of the 93rd. “I’ve never experienced this type of snow training, though. It’s been great, and has given me a whole new perspective on how to survive in snow. I wish we could come here every year and do this.”

For the duration of their training, the Guardsmen of the 93rd will either learn how to ski or will work on advancing their turns on the slopes of Snowmass. Furthermore, along with their civil support duties at the X Games, they will conduct various training exercises with Colorado brethren.

“We’d love to continue to foster our relationship with Colorado and hopefully we can make it out here again,” said Laurel. “Mahalo!”

Navy Misawa Sailors Building "Lone Sailor" Snow Sculpture

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

SAPPORO, Japan (NNS) -- Six Sailors from Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa began building a snow sculpture Feb. 1 for the upcoming 63rd Annual Sapporo Snow Festival here.

Known as the "Sapporo Six," the team comprised Sailors assigned to NAF Misawa or its tenant and deployed commands currently stationed there. Together, the six Sailors will attempt to create a snow sculpture bust of the Navy's famous "Lone Sailor" statue that is located at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.

The Sailors traveled from Misawa to Sapporo to take part in the city's annual wintertime festival and to represent the U.S. naval installation, which is based out of northern Japan. While their first day in Sapporo was dedicated to meeting with city and military officials, today began the arduous task of creating a sculpture out of a six-foot-by-six-foot block of compressed snow.

"We started out this morning by basically laying out a grid on all four sides of our snow block," said Chief Builder Christopher "Billy" Knox, the Navy Misawa Snow Sculpting Team leader, and native of Chapin, Ill. "Once we finished we drew in the exact specifications of the design to include the head and shoulders of 'The Lone Sailor.'"

While the first few hours were dedicated to the tedium of measuring and drawing the team's proposed design, the afternoon was filled with the sounds of scraping and chiseling as the team began sculpting.

Utilizing dozens of tools, ranging from a trowel to a cheese grater, the team's project slowly took form.

"Today we're only concerned about getting the outline completed," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class James Johnston, originally from Kaneohe, Hawaii. "We'll worry about the details later, but for now, we're just carving the general structure out."

The team has until Feb. 5, to complete their sculpture; the festival begins the following day and runs throughout the entire week.

While the deadline to complete such an ambitious design may be cause for concern, it's the famous Sapporo weather that seems to be the primary difficulty the team will need to overcome.

"I'm wearing three pairs of socks and I still can't feel my toes," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Zachary James, a Seattle native who, along with his teammates, persevered weather that never topped 20-degrees Fahrenheit. "You have to deal with the weather and the general fatigue associated with this kind of work, but we're having a great time building this thing and having a lot of fun doing it."

Despite the difficulties associated with creating such an ambitious design, Knox said he couldn't be happier with his team's efforts so far.

"The guys are putting out 110-percent effort here, and their attitudes and work ethic has been outstanding," he said. "Which is good, because as far as we're concerned, failure is not an option.

This year marks the 29th year that Navy Misawa has sent a delegation to Sapporo to participate in the Snow Festival.

For updates on the Navy Misawa Snow Sculpting Team's progress, check out Facebook.com/nafmisawa for up-to-the minute progress reports.

U.S., Canada Expand Joint Planning, Operational Options

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – Agreements signed last week in the Canadian capital of Ottawa up a roadmap for U.S. and Canadian officials to work together in the event of a natural disaster or attack, the director of strategy, policy and plans at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command said this week.

Army Maj. Gen. Fran Mahon said the agreements allow the two countries’ militaries to work more closely together and to plan for support to civilian agencies.

U.S. Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of NORAD and Northcom, and Lt. Gen. Walter Semianiw of the Canadian army, commander of Canada Command, signed the documents Jan. 25.

One is a combined defense plan that lays down a planning framework for defense cooperation following a natural or man-made disaster or attack. The military leaders also signed a continuation of the civil assistance plan that allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Canada,” Mahon said in an interview. “We’ve been partners for more than 70 years in a very close sense. The agreements really enhance our relationship and improve the process of coordinating our combined military resources in a time of crisis or emergency.”

While the civil assistance plan provides a framework for the military forces of each nation to support those of another nation, the general said, it’s really about providing military assistance to civilian authorities. This will facilitate cooperation on man-made or natural disasters or the response to large-scale planned events, he explained.

“The initial civil assistance program was approved in February 2008, and since then, Canada Command and Northern Command have worked together to provide support for each other in short-notice events and planning for major events,” Mahon said. “It really recognizes the role of each nation’s lead federal agency for emergency preparedness. In the United States, that is the Department of Homeland Security, and in Canada, it is the Department of Public Safety.”

The civil defense plan looks at the combined defense of Canada and the United States, Mahon said. “It facilitates our planning and operations for bilateral defense effort and provides guidance leading to interoperability, and thus [promotes] better integration at the operational level,” he added.

The operations under the plan could occur in multiple domains and could be executed when there is a common perceived threat or when one or both nations come under attack.

The United States and Canada cooperated on the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010 and during hurricane season, Mahon noted.

“We’ve captured some of the lessons learned from the Games and from other experiences and put it in the plan,” Mahon said. “Now for the next event, whether it be a crisis or a planned event, we’ll have a bit smoother execution.”

Sharing information between the United States and Canada should be even easier than in the past, the general said, and both sides understand how to work within each other’s bureaucracies.
Northern Command and Canada Command will exercise through the year to “roll these new documents into play,” Mahon said. “We will undoubtedly learn more from these exercises, and again, we will work on smoothing the rough spots.”

GTMO MWR Present Rock And Roll Half Marathon

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Justin Ailes Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) at Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba hosted the "Rock and Roll Half Marathon," Jan. 28.

Beginning at the installation's Downtown Lyceum, the more than 13-mile marathon presented runners with musical entertainment and a physically challenging event.

"I'm so proud of the MWR staff and all of the volunteers who worked hard to make our first Rock and Roll Half Marathon such a crowd pleasing event," said Tara Culbertson, NS Guantanamo Bay MWR Director. "Jen Norton, MWR Fitness Director, set the bar very high for this one. She has been planning this event, seeking sponsorships and grants as well as volunteers, for a year. Her work, along with the entire MWR family, really showed."

The event also featured an MWR 'Expo,' craft fair, and performances from recording artists "Something Distant" and "Cartel," as they provided live music along the marathon route.

"The marathon, 'expo' and craft fair were a huge success," said Alana Morrison, NS Guantanamo Bay MWR Sports Coordinator. "Our fitness trainers did a wonderful job showcasing all of MWR fitness and sports, liberty and outdoor recreation programs, providing insight to other types of events that the GTMO community can get involved in."

More than 100 volunteers and 95 runners participated in the marathon, with nearly 50 people providing jewelry, photography and other handmade crafts to the community during the craft fair.

"It was a wonderful feeling to be a part of this and hopefully I will do better next year," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Dawit Astatkie, run participant. "It's not every day you can run a half marathon, and for most, it may be a once in a lifetime experience. For me, it was just another day in the office showing my guys I still got it."

DOD Urges Troops, Civilians to Watch for Human Trafficking

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – From the nightclub waitress you meet on deployment to the young man who launders your uniform at the drycleaners back home, Defense Department officials are warning military members and civilians to be on the lookout for possible victims of human trafficking.

The request for vigilance is part of an effort throughout the federal government to stop human trafficking, a form of modern slavery that forces millions of men, women and children from every country of the world into forced labor, prostitution, involuntary servitude and debt bondage, according to DOD and State Department officials. Some 2 million children are believed to move through the global sex trade each year, according to the State Department’s annual assessment on human trafficking.

The United Nations, the United States and other governments in the past decade have passed stricter laws and allocated more resources in the fight against human trafficking, and President Barack Obama declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

In the government’s interagency approach toward prevention, prosecution and protection involving human trafficking, the Defense Department’s role is one of prevention, according to John F. Awtrey, DOD’s director of law enforcement policy and support, part of the department’s personnel and readiness office.

Human trafficking is a worldwide phenomenon -- No. 3 behind drugs and weapons, Awtrey said in a Jan. 31 interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

“While traffic victims generally come from the poor places in the world, their destination … is all over the world,” Awtrey said. “A lot of countries where our service members are deployed have evidence of a lot of trafficking, and it’s here in the United States as well.”

DOD’s role primarily is of prevention and, specifically, education so that service members and civilian employees can report suspicious activity, Awtrey said.

“We don’t want our service members to be inadvertent supporters of trafficking,” he said. “It’s a crime; it’s a criminal business enterprise. And the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who say, ‘Well, I just go there to get some drinks,’ if it’s a place where the women working in there have been trafficked and are being held against their will, then you’re supporting that business.”

The Defense Department began training all service members and civilians on indicators of human trafficking after some service members were found in 2004 to be patronizing businesses in Korea involved in trafficking women from Russia and the Philippines, Awtrey said.

Since then, the Uniform Code of Military Justice has made it illegal for service members to visit brothels -- the main business involved in human trafficking, Awtrey said. Other businesses common to human trafficking are nightclubs and bars, restaurants, spas, nail salons and dry cleaners, as well as domestic work in people’s homes.

Evidence of human trafficking can be hard to spot, Awtrey acknowledged. “It takes people using their sixth sense to say ‘Something isn’t right here,’” he said.

A high turnover of young workers and an inordinate amount of private security are indications, he added.

“If you see something that’s odd, … if there seems to be too much security, … if you’re in the middle of America or you’re downtown in Germany … and there are people [in a restaurant] that look like guards, those guards are there to keep the workers from talking to you about something they shouldn’t, or from escaping,” Awtrey said.

It was that kind of vigilance from an employee at Fort Campbell, Ky., that allowed the FBI to break up a human trafficking ring in the surrounding community, Awtrey said. The worker frequented a Chinese restaurant off base in Tennessee about once a month and noticed every time he was there, the staff -- all young -- was new. His hunch was right.

“That’s part of trafficking -- that they never keep people in the same place for long,” Awtrey said. “In human trafficking, unlike with drugs and weapons, people can be sold over and over again. They are a reusable commodity, unfortunately.”

Human trafficking usually occurs not on military installations, but in the surrounding communities. The exception has been overseas, where it was found among subcontractors in Iraq who brought in foreign workers, confiscated their passports, and paid them far below what they were promised, Awtrey said. “We came down hard in Iraq” to correct the problem, he said, but it requires constant vigilance.

“It sounds simple enough sitting around a room at the Pentagon, but making sure it happens on the ground [in theater] is another story,” he said.

Suspected human trafficking should be reported up the military chain of command, to local authorities, or to the nonprofit National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

Supply Center Completes Initial Phase of At-Risk Mentorship Program

By Candice Villarreal, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego wrapped-up the first phase of its groundbreaking Teambuilding and Mentorship (T&M) program with San Diego Youth Services Jan. 31 at Naval Base San Diego.

The pilot program, conceived and led by Janae Sergio, a logistics management specialist at the command, paired at-risk youth from the local community with Sailors and civil servants over a period of eight weeks to focus on teambuilding, mentoring and life improvement skills.

Mentees Nuna Deng and Chris Ofodu met with their NAVSUP FLC San Diego mentors for about three hours per week beginning Nov. 15, 2011, and logged about 28 hours by the end of the first phase. In addition to individually tailored coaching and encouragement from their command mentors, Sergio also arranged for Fleet and Family Support Center personnel to provide formal presentations.

"I'm really glad I had an open mind to participating," said Deng. "It's nice to meet and be around people who are driven to succeed and still want to take the time to help you out with your own personal goals. They really listen to you and your situation and try and help you as much as they can."

The youths received in-depth training in areas like resume writing, interviewing, interpreting skills, punctuality, anger management, dressing for success and attendance.

"We spend a lot of time with San Diego Youth Services outside of this program, doing things like community relations events and helping them out where we can, but I think the unique part here is that they were able to establish closer relationships with some of our people," said Sergio. "I think what they really needed was to discuss their goals, aspirations, and even current life events with someone. All they wanted was for someone to get on their level and hear them out."

San Diego Youth Services is a non-profit organization that works to stabilize the lives of homeless and in-crisis youth throughout San Diego County. NAVSUP FLC San Diego collaborates with the organization during various beautification and support programs year-round as part of a partnership agreement aimed at lending a hand in the local community.

So far, Sergio and NAVSUP FLC San Diego leadership acknowledge the program is working. In just the middle of the first phase of the program, Ofodu, who said he enjoys working with children, had a job interview lined up with a Navy child development center. Ofodu credits the resume training provided by the command, as well as networking on the part of one of his mentors, for the opportunity.

"I got pretty lucky when I got paired up with someone I had a personal connection with," Ofodu said. "You don't choose your mentors; they're chosen for you. But it turned out he was easy to talk to and helped me out not only with his knowledge, but also with his own personal experiences. I have a whole new resume and portfolio, and I already had one interview in just the first couple weeks."

Mentors were chosen from a group of exceptional volunteers within the command. Following their selection, each mentor received extensive training in program standards, values and goals.

Standout participants who successfully complete phase one may be eligible to move on to the second phase of the program, which focuses more heavily on networking and securing employment, and may give stellar youths opportunities to be hired as Navy civilians in positions for which they qualify.

Sergio credited her own life experiences for giving her the passion and motivation to help other youths succeed and said the overwhelming support from command leadership contributed greatly to the program's success. She said the T&M program is a new, more innovative way of aligning the command's efforts with Navy outreach and accession goals while simultaneously giving back to the community.

"If we can help change the life of just one youth as a result of this program, we will have succeeded," said Sergio. "If only one youth gets a job, sees a better future, or just feels better about themselves and gets on their feet, it will all have been worth it."

NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego, one of seven fleet logistics centers under NAVSUP Global Logistics Support, provides global logistics, business and support services to fleet, shore and industrial commands of the Navy, Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and other joint and allied Forces. Services include contracting, regional transportation, fuel, material management, household goods movement support, postal and consolidated mail, warehousing, global logistics and husbanding, hazardous material management, and integrated logistics support.

NAVSUP GLS comprises more than 5,700 military and civilian logistics professionals, contractors and foreign nationals operating as a single cohesive team providing global logistics services from 110 locations worldwide.

A component of the Naval Supply Systems Command headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., NAVSUP GLS is part of a worldwide logistics network of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel providing combat capability through logistics.

NWS Seal Beach Det. Norco Celebrates New Main Gate Sign, Name Change

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eli Medellin, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Public Affairs

Norco, Calif. (NNS) -- Navy and Norco community leaders celebrated the unveiling of the new main gate sign at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Norco Jan. 30.

The new sign coincided with a name change for the facility, which had previously been known as Detachment Corona. The base name was changed to better reflect its location and strong ties to the local community.

"We are proud of the great relationship we have with the Norco community," said Commanding Officer Capt. Terry Auberry. "I look forward to building on this relationship even more in the future."

At the beginning of World War II, the site was established as a naval hospital to serve wounded Sailors and Marines from the war. In December of 1941 it was officially named "Naval Hospital, Corona," after the nearest large community at the time.

With the expansion of guided-missile development, the base also became a site for the Navy's weapons system assessment program. The hospital officiallly closed in 1957, and since then the facility has gone through a number of name changes.

The installation's main tenant, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division, is the Navy's primary weapons assessment organization.

Throughout the last 70 years, the City of Norco has grown up around the base. Local leaders expressed their support for the name change.

"We are very passionate about our community," said Norco Mayor Kevin Bash. "We were already supportive of the base. Now that it's a 'Norco' base, that just makes it all the better and will provide much more ownership to this community."

‘Red Tails’ Film Pays Tribute to Tuskegee Airmen

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Segregation during World War II spilled over into U.S. military ranks, but an all-African-American fighter pilot crew formed within the Army Air Corps made a major impact in helping to break down racial barriers.

Seventy years later, and as National African American History Month begins, film director George Lucas’ just-released movie, “Red Tails,” is sharing the journey of these storied aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited surviving Tuskegee Airmen to a Jan. 13 premiere screening of the movie at the White House, a week before its official opening. Cicero Satterfield, 92, was among the former Tuskegee Airmen who attended the event with his contemporaries, all now in their 80s and 90s.

Satterfield enjoyed the movie, saying it “portrayed what we did.” The message the film carries, however, was of paramount importance to him.

“‘Red Tails’ is important to educate the public about what the Tuskegee Airmen did during World War II as aviators who protected American bombers fighting the Germans,” he said.

Satterfield added that he is struck by the impression the movie is making on people who were unaware of the significant role the Tuskegee Airmen played during World War II.

“No matter what,” he said, “the Tuskegee Airmen should be recognized for their accomplishments.” Satterfield noted that today’s young generation seems to be very interested in the history of the successful Tuskegee mission.

Satterfield joined the Army Air Corps -- which evolved into today’s Air Force -- at age 21 and was chosen as a charter member of the Tuskegee Airmen in 1941. He became an assistant aviation crew chief, and at the rank of corporal, he trained airmen.

It was July 19, 1941 when the Defense Department’s forerunner, the War Department, began training African-American military pilots and aircrews at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute and nearby Tuskegee Army Airfield.

The first classes of Tuskegee Airmen were trained as fighter pilots for the 99th Fighter Squadron, and headed for combat duty in North Africa. Their mission was to escort bomber aircraft over strategic targets to help in reducing the heavy losses these crews were experiencing. Additional pilots were assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group, which also included the 100th, 301st and 302nd fighter squadrons.

By the war's end, nearly 1,000 men graduated from pilot training at Tuskegee, and almost half of them went on to combat assignments overseas. Some of the airmen went on to reach the general officer ranks, including Daniel "Chappie" James, who became the first black U.S. four-star general in 1975.

During the course of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 15,000 sorties and fought in the skies over North Africa, Sicily and Europe in P-40 Tomahawks, then P-39 Air Cobras, then P-47 Thunderbolts, then finally, P-51 aircraft.

The long list of military awards earned by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II is a testament to their success. Collectively, they earned more than 744 Air Medals, 100 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Star Medals, eight Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, a Legion of Merit and three Presidential Unit Citations.

As the Tuskegee Airmen distinguished themselves both individually and as a group, they helped to pave the way for President Harry S. Truman's 1948 executive order integrating the armed forces.

In May 2006, President George W. Bush signed a bill into law awarding the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress' highest civilian award.

The road to that success wasn't always smooth for the Tuskegee Airmen, who battled segregation and prejudice on the ground as they confronted enemy forces in the air.

“Some [people] thought we couldn’t do it, but we didn’t subject ourselves to that,” Satterfield said. “We accomplished what they said we couldn’t.”

(Donna Miles of American Forces Press Service contributed to this article.)

Baltimore Hospital Provides Pre-deployment Trauma Training

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BALTIMORE – Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Halcome stood at a hospital bed, laying out vials and pointing out medical instruments to be used to treat an incoming patient.

A 63-year-old woman had been walking her dog when, in a freak accident, she got run into a tree and was basically scalped in the process. Her injuries were so severe that she was immediately transported to the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center here.

The first and highest-volume trauma center in the United States, it’s a training ground for Air Force medical professionals deploying to Afghanistan.

It’s one of three civilian hospitals nationwide participating in the Centers for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills program, known as C-STARS, which helps to prepare airmen to treat the kind of casualties they’re likely to encounter in the combat theater.

Air Force Tech Sgt. Josh Vest and Staff Sgt. Catalina Meissner, both aerospace medical technicians scheduled for upcoming deployments, listened as Halcome, a C-STARS instructor, talked them through the procedures to be followed when the patient arrived.

Vest and Meissner were midway through the three-week C-STARS program, getting exposure to trauma cases like nothing they had seen at their home stations. Meissner has spent most of her six years in the Air Force providing pediatric and women’s health care, most recently at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. After 15 years in the Air Force, Vest rose through the ranks from providing hands-on patient care to a supervisory job at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Both welcomed the opportunity to get trauma-care experience at C-STARS before deploying.

The Baltimore C-STARS program, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Medical Center, offers plenty of opportunity -- more than any other trauma hospital in the country. It admits more than 7,000 trauma patients and performs more than 8,000 surgeries per year.

Most patients arrive with severe and often life-threatening injuries that range from gunshot and stabbing wounds to injuries from motor-vehicle accidents. Although none suffer the kind of traumatic blast injuries medical care teams treat regularly in Afghanistan, Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Raymond Fang, the C-STARS director, said the training here comes as close as possible in a peacetime environment to what one would get in the combat theater.

Most of the students, like Meissner and Vest, come from military community hospitals or large clinics where they rarely experience the operational tempo or see the severity of wounds they’ll face in the combat theater, Fang said. So the staff goes out of its way to make the experience here as realistic and applicable as possible.

Halcome, dressed in the characteristic pink hospital scrubs that identify shock trauma center staff, compared the incoming dog-walker’s injuries to those of a vehicle gunner whose head slammed against a gun turret.

“When I can, I like to relate my patients to combat injuries,” he said. “It makes what we do here more beneficial to them. When these [C-STARS students] deploy, they may not see a 63-year-old woman who’s been struck in the head. But they may see a 40-year-old master sergeant or tank commander who has had his head banged against a turret.”

One of the most important lessons reinforced during C-STARS students’ 90 to 100 hours of clinical work is the importance of the “golden hour” concept, said Air Force Maj. David Whitehorn, a critical care trauma nurse on the C-STARS staff.

Dr. R. Adams Cowley, for whom the Baltimore shock-trauma center is named, recognized while serving in Europe during World War II that trauma patients who got care quickly had the best chance of survival. The first 60 minutes -- the so-called “golden hour” --- were the most critical.

So Cowley applied that principle when he established the nation’s first trauma lab here in the basement of the University of Maryland Hospital, and it has become a universally recognized standard.

The military medical system goes to great lengths to enforce it, striving to get wounded warriors even in the most remote parts of Afghanistan to advanced-level care within 60 minutes.

As instructors here draw comparisons between the civilian and military ways of providing care, Fang said, they also pass on some of the differences.

The military, for example, has a strict “by the book” approach to trauma care. It’s critical, Fang said, to maintaining consistency of care as patients are moved from Afghanistan to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and, ultimately, to stateside military medical centers.

“I can have all my idiosyncrasies about how I like to take care of a patient, and that is fine if the patient is going to stay with me for their whole care,” he explained. “But if I am going to be sending a patient through four or five levels of care with four or five teams [caring for them], then we need to make sure that things are done not my way, but our ‘corporate’ way.”

That corporate way of doing business is reinforced throughout the C-STARS training, in classroom sessions and on the hospital floor during clinical training. It’s also tested in a mock combat environment during a field training exercise at Fort Detrick, Md., where students tend to simulated combat casualties while responding to “enemy fire” -- actually paintballs inflicted by their instructors.

The goal, Fang said, is to take students out of their comfort zones and expose them to austere and the often-chaotic conditions in which they may have to operate.

“We try to make the scenarios as realistic as possible,” based on real cases in Afghanistan, Fang said. “We put people through these experiences so they know what they might expect.”

Whitehorn said he has seen the initial shock register on students’ faces when they go to treat their first trauma patient. “I’ve had nurses pause there and back away, and I just push them right back in there,” he said. “But that’s what C-STARS is all about. This is where we would rather have them shell-shocked, not after they arrive in the theater.”

“At first, it’s a little intimidating,” Vest admitted. “But you just take a deep breath and make sure you’re providing the case care for your patient.”

“It’s overwhelming. It tugs at your heart,” agreed Meissner.

Air Force Master Sgt. Bruce Graybill, an operating technician who oversees all C-STARS programs for enlisted members, said he sees students develop an air of confidence when they realize during C-STARS that they’re up to the task.

“We’re not only refreshing our skills, we’re also getting the confidence to apply those skills,” Vest said. “And being able to do that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. You know that you did everything in your realm to help that patient, regardless of the outcome.”

Fang said there’s no way civilian trauma-care experience can totally prepare airmen for the devastation they will see in war.

But he said the exposure they get at C-STARS will help them become more effective more quickly when they arrive in Afghanistan.

Experience shows that providers who deploy without trauma-care training take about 30 days to adjust to the professional and emotional rigors of the job. But Fang said subjecting them to a month of adjustment isn’t fair to the providers -- and certainly not to their patients.

“We want to make people as prepared as they can be on Day One,” he said. “We may not get them all the way to their Day 30 level, but the closer we can get to that level, that is why we are here.”

Meissner she said she knows the training she is receiving here will pay off when she arrives in Afghanistan. “You want to make sure you will be able to help that soldier and save that life,” she said. “And when I look around at what is happening here, this is saving lives.”

Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Morgan Gettle, a flight surgeon from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., attending C-STARS, said he gets personal satisfaction in providing patient care. “There’s a lot of gratification in the work here,” he said. “You get to see the effects of what you have done in terms of saving someone’s life.”

Navy Surgeon General Highlights Warfighter Support Role During Military Health System Conference

From Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) -- The top medical officer for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps highlighted the key role his medical forces play in support of the operating forces to a capacity crowd at the 2012 Military Health System Conference held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center Feb. 1.

Navy Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Matthew Nathan, told an audience of more than 1,000 U.S. military and federal health care professionals that the main mission of Navy Medicine is to keep the nation's naval forces medically ready to operate around the world in support of U.S. national objectives.

"Our job in Navy Medicine is to support the forward deployed force and provide readiness," said Nathan. "When the world dials 911, it's not to make an appointment."

Nathan highlighted the Navy's global mission of being forward deployed to provide a power projection and deterrence role while also being ready to respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster response requirements.

"We are a global force for good," said Nathan. "We build our Navy for war. But we operate our Navy for peace."

The annual conference allows all the stakeholders in the U.S. military health system, including the representatives from all branches of service, TRICARE Management Activity, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to come together and share lessons learned and best practices throughout the military medicine field.

During his presentation, Nathan discussed the Navy medical role in battlefield trauma care and the successes the joint medical forces have achieved in caring for those wounded during the past decade of combat operations.

"Our main mission is support to the warfighter and we're in the fight," said Nathan. "More than 50 percent of Navy [personnel] wounded over the past decade of war have been Navy Medicine. Our losses are 28 percent."

According to Nathan, the continuum of care for combat wounded is unprecedented with a survivability rate of approximately 97 percent.  He told the crowd that now the average time from when a patient receives near-mortal wounds on the battlefield until they end up at an intensive care unit at Walter Reed Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center, or Naval Medical Center San Diego is three to five days. He noted this is due to the cooperation of the Navy, Air Force and Army medical teams along the way.

Nathan reminded the crowd that wounded warrior care is a long-term mission that will require continued collaboration among the services and other federal healthcare agencies.

"This is going to be a military, Veteran's Affairs and private sector call to duty of America to deal with the numbers of service men and women who are dealing with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress," said Nathan.

Nathan concluded his remarks by highlighting the unprecedented achievements the joint medical team has accomplished together and affirmed his commitment to working with his service counterparts to look for greater efficiencies and better ways to conduct the business of healthcare for the U.S. military, families and veterans.

"I've seen the synergy of what happens when the Army, Navy, and Air Force come together during medical operations," said Nathan. "We celebrate our victories together and mourn our losses together. We are family."

As the Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Nathan leads 63,000 Navy Medicine personnel that provide healthcare support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.