Military News

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Harvey Talks 'Trust' at NAS Jacksonville Town Hall Meeting

By Clark Pierce, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) Adm. John Harvey Jr. and USFFC Fleet Master Chief FLTCM(AW/NAC) Mike Stevens conducted a town hall meeting Feb. 15 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville with leaders from the station and tenant commands.

Topics of discussion included leadership, trust, standards and training.

"Today, my focus is on you, our deckplate leaders - which is where I always say, 'the rubber meets the road' - and the chain of command looks to you to carry out the orders, uphold the standards and make the training real," said Harvey to the standing-room-only crowd in the Patrol Squadron Thirty auditorium.

"I read the overnight reports concerning the 135,000 people who work for me - and like any large organization, we have some issues that detract from where we need to be. Whether you're a maintainer, pilot, aircrew or NFO (naval flight officer), the most important question at the end of the day is how well did you lead the people who were placed in your charge," he continued.

With more than 39 years of naval service, Harvey reminded the audience that the fundamental elements of leadership haven't changed much since the founding of America's Navy in 1775.

"Trust is the glue that holds everything together. It means, that at the moment of truth, you will do the right thing according to Navy standards, whether people are or are not watching you. There are three primary reasons why you must earn the trust of your people in uniform," Harvey said. "First, is your professional competence. Next is your practical wisdom - I call it common sense - on when to follow rules to the letter or write a new rulebook according to the situation. And third, is your respect for those you lead. Just like you, today's young Sailors raised their right hands to take the oath to 'protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies' with no conditions. And, we reaffirm that oath at every promotion ceremony.

Harvey continued, "We talk a lot about the importance of standards and consistently enforcing them. Each is time tested and combat proven to drive how we operate, maintain, inspect and certify commands in every community. At the practical level, standards are about a Sailor knowing something is not right - and then doing something about it - because problems will not fix themselves. That's why deckplate leaders must develop smart, 'self-correcting' Sailors who solve problems before they become major issues. When you look at successful squadrons and ships like our Battle 'E' winners, you see that they not only meet standards, but more likely, they raise the bar for trust and training within their unit."

Harvey also addressed what he called the increasing levels of "uncertainty" surrounding today's Navy.

"We've seen it by going through the involuntary separation process known as ERB (Enlisted Retention Board). Naturally, retained Sailors are looking at each other and wondering, 'Who's next? And what's next?' There's additional uncertainty about pay scales, retirement benefits and our force structure," Harvey said. "So, I urge you to keep your Sailors focused on what they can control - work hard, get qualified, build trust and stay out of trouble."

Stevens relieved one point of uncertainty when he announced there would be no ERB in FY 13 or FY 14. He also spoke of chiefs' messes taking advantage of training to polish their leadership and communication skills.

"It's important for senior enlisted to reenergize their focus on CPO responsibilities, team building and leader development. Key elements include: teamwork within the mess; communication with the wardroom; how chiefs can mentor junior officers; and how chiefs are managing key personnel programs," explained Stevens.

After the town hall meeting, Harvey's group visited the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70 "Spartans," Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 Mobile Tactical Operations Center, the P-8A Integrated Training Center and the Patrol Squadron 10 "Red Lancers." Harvey and Stevens also dined with command master chiefs at the NAS Jacksonville Flight Line Café.

U.S. Fleet Forces Command supports both the chief of naval operations (CNO) and combatant commanders worldwide by providing responsive, relevant, sustainable Naval forces that are ready for tasking. Additionally, USFFC serves as the CNO's designated executive agent for Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection, Individual Augmentees and Sea Basing.

Odierno Fleshes Out Pacific Strategy, Afghan Advisory Mission

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The Army will remain strong in the Pacific to reflect the increased emphasis on the region, the Army chief of staff said here today.

The Army already has a strong presence in the region, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told a Defense Writers Group roundtable.

“If you added up the number of people, the Army has more people over there than the Navy and the Air Force,” he said.

These numbers will not drop despite overall reductions in the Army’s size, the general told the group. “We will sustain what we have and then review how we do our business,” he said. “This issue over the past eight years has been that many of the forces in the region were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

This means troops nominally assigned to the region actually fought in U.S. Central Command, the general explained. The 25th Infantry Division, for example, recently returned to Hawaii after completing its mission in the Centcom region, Odierno said.

This model will change, he added. Going forward, if the Army must use Pacific forces outside the region, commanders will replace that capability. “There will always be a baseline of capability in the Pacific,” he said.

But the numbers tell only one part of the story, Odierno said. The service will review pre-positioned stocks around the world to ensure these are positioned properly in case of a contingency. In the Pacific, the general said, the most important aspect is to accomplish multilateral training, noting that he is working with regional Army chiefs to find ways to increase this training.

These army-to-army contacts are important, Odierno said. Seven out of the 10 largest armies are in the Pacific, he noted, and 22 of the 27 nations in the region have an army officer as chief of defense. “Us engaging with them to build relationships will help us in the long run in the Pacific,” the general told the defense writers.

Odierno also talked about the “advise and assist” brigades that will deploy to Afghanistan shortly, and said they will become more important for Afghan units in the future. The Army is putting together two of these brigades now, the general said, and they will deploy with the numbers of officers and noncommissioned officers needed to advise and assist Afghan national security forces.

Most soldiers in the brigades will be combat veterans and will understand what these Afghan forces need, Odierno said. With the end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, he added, more forces are available for the advise-and-assist mission in Afghanistan. The general told the writers he expects the number of advise-and-assist units to grow as the deadline for turning over security responsibility to the Afghan forces approaches at the end of 2014.

Special operations and conventional forces will work even more closely together to accomplish this training mission, Odierno said, and the Army forces will work with Marine advise-and-assist teams as well. The general added that he sees no duplication of effort with special ops, the Marines and the Army pitching in to train Afghan soldiers and police. “There’s room for all of us to do this in order to sustain it for a longer period of time,” he said.

This shows the Army is flexible, Odierno said, as Army brigades can “own ground,” conduct counterinsurgency operations, send a brigade to conduct high-end operations in Korea, all while being able to conduct the training and advising mission.

“That shows the flexibility of our organization and the kind of organization we will need in the future,” he added. “We are going to have a lot of diverse operations to do.”

Face of Defense: Airman Controls Air Force’s Busiest Airfield

By Air Force Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
47th Flying Training Wing

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, Feb. 22, 2012 – Like most other boys, Air Force Staff Sgt. John Hammer dreamed of growing up and being a professional football star. Instead, the 30-year-old husband and father of three is a senior watch supervisor at the Air Force’s busiest airfield.

Before joining the Air Force in 2005, Hammer lived and grew up in Knob Noster, Mo., where he held a full-time job and was enrolled as a full-time student.

"Before coming in, I was working concrete construction full time while going to school at a community college full time," he said. "It was tough. It was hard to make ends meet and concentrate on education."

Hammer thought about joining the Air Force for nearly two years, he said, before finally deciding to cross into the blue.

"Initially, I just wanted a stable career and the possibilities to further my education," he said. "I was looking to get into computer security, [heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems] or something I could think of at that point which would benefit me outside the Air Force."

That all changed when someone in the Delayed Enlistment Program got cold feet and dropped out, which opened an air traffic controller slot, causing Hammer to leave for basic training sooner than he had anticipated.

"My recruiter said, 'John, if you take air traffic control, you can be out of here in a few weeks,'" Hammer said. "At that point, I was outside pouring concrete in hundred-plus-degree weather. That's when I told him I would love to leave."

Freed from the monotony of laying concrete, Hammer was determined to give his all to the new-found opportunity the Air Force would provide. At the time, he had no idea what lay ahead.

"It wasn't until tech school before I actually realized what being a controller would really entail,” he said. “To be honest, it was quite overwhelming."

After arriving at tech school, Hammer went through a strenuous, six-month training period for learning the basics of his new job in a course that had a high washout rate. When he arrived here after tech school, the training only got more intense.

"It's day-in and day-out studying," he said. "You'll take 12 to 14 written exams after arriving here within your first year. Then you have to get watched while you're in position and get mentored by your trainer. I would have to say that is the most stressful part of the job."

With the high intensity and responsibility levels of the job, Hammer said, one person always was in his corner: his older brother, Joel.

"I would constantly go to and tell him, ‘I can't do this, I'm not cut out for this,’" Hammer said. "He would always tell me ‘Don't quit, don't give up’ and would always provide me with words of encouragement. I would second-guess myself and think maybe I do deserve to be out there on a construction site, and he would always say that I don't. If anybody inspired me to get to where I am, it would be my older brother."

After working his way through training and earning his spot to control, Hammer now runs a shift in the radar approach control section as the senior watch supervisor, where at any given time he could oversee up to 23 people.

Hammer and his team control 62 airfields with 10,000 square miles of airspace within 100 miles of Laughlin.

On Jan. 10, Hammer and the rest of the air traffic control team were announced to be in control of the busiest tower in the Air Force, controlling a combined 337,436 operations.

"It's my responsibility as a senior watch supervisor to make sure all of the controllers are doing their job up to par or better," he said. "It's a huge responsibility. We have to fly missions and sorties to get pilots qualified to complete Laughlin's mission. In doing so, graduating pilots ensures we maintain the world's strongest air power."

The best part of the job is how there is always something new to discover, he said -- a far cry from the life he left behind.

"Essentially, it's always a new puzzle to figure out, constantly arranging these moving parts so that everything flows smoothly," he said. "You know when there is nothing to show for your work at the end of the day, it's a good thing."

Five years in, Hammer still can't believe how far he has come.

"I never thought when I was pouring concrete I would be doing what I do now," he said. "I remember being outside with guys from the construction team, and I would see an aircraft and hope I would be talking to them one day. I really couldn't even fathom what I would be getting into, let alone dealing with the busiest combined air traffic control tower in the Air Force."

Knowing he has excelled in one of the most stressful jobs in the Air Force is rewarding, he said, but he’s quick to add that he couldn't have done it without the inspiration his brother provided during his journey.

In 2008, John's brother and biggest supporter, Joel, was killed by a drunk driver.

"It has definitely given me more motivation to improve and get better," he said of Joel’s death. "Any time I'm faced with any type of adversity in life, I automatically resort to his words of inspiration and wisdom. The motivation factor is always there to do better because of his influence on my life."

Hammer said carries the lessons he has learned from a brother who meant so much to him onto the job every day. That positive influence is paramount in the air traffic controller field that emphasizes the need to help each other, he added.

"People think that we are snobbish, but we are like a big family, because what we deal with on a day-to-day basis may seem like a different language to other people," the senior watch supervisor said. "So the way we interact with each other is a lot different than the way we would interact with somebody who is unfamiliar with what we do. We train, we teach and police each other constantly so we are always on our toes and getting better."