Military News

Sunday, February 26, 2012

100,000 Jobs Mission Hiring Event Gives Veterans Opportunities

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Military veterans had the opportunity to meet with more than 25 employers during the first "100,000 Jobs Mission Hiring" event at Naval Support Activity-Bethesda (NSAB), in Bethesda, Md., Feb. 25.

The event, hosted by Naval District Washington (NDW) Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), attracted more than 1,000 veterans and military family members. The event supported First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's "Joining Forces" initiative, which recognizes the continued need to serve our nation's veteran's and military families.

The First Lady and Dr. Biden have been leading White House efforts to reduce veteran and military spouse unemployment with America's private sector in response to a Presidential challenge to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.

In the same spirit, 10 employers launched the 100,000 Jobs Mission in March 2011. The coalition has since grown to 29 member companies who collectively hired more than 6,600 veterans under this program last year. Working in conjunction with the NDW's FFSC, this hiring event connects the two endeavors in a more powerful and efficient effort that has one goal: to hire our nation's veterans and military spouses.

"This coalition, the 100,000 jobs mission, is really about hiring veterans. We're serious about hiring veterans," said Eddie Dunn, senior vice president of JP Morgan Chase's Veteran's Affairs Team. "The unemployment rate of the post-9/11 veterans is well above the national average. We have a national issue that needs to be addressed, and I think this coalition is doing that."

This event gives not only veterans the opportunity to find lasting careers but employers the opportunity to hire veterans with needed skills.

"What's terrific about this event is that it is win-win," said Capt. Frederick (Fritz) Kass, commanding officer Naval Support Activity, Bethesda. "Veterans who are looking for a job can come here and meet with over 20 organizations, and the organizations are very excited to be here because what they look for in an employee is what the military veterans bring to the table.

Companies who participated in the event said that the veterans work ethic is the kind they look for in their employees.

"Veterans by their very nature have certain attributes and value systems that are very attractive to any employer," Dunn said. "They bring team skills, leadership experience, managerial skill, and all kinds of skill sets that are very valuable.

The event had a diverse mixture of companies who are looking for employees with the skills that military veterans posses."

"The work ethic that veterans have transcends all jobs," said Deborah D'Attilio, Enterprise Holding Group Human resources manager. "They are team-oriented, hard working and have excellent leadership skills.

Veterans who attended the event were given the opportunity to be hired on the spot as well as the chance to receive job offers.

"I came here today because I am getting out of the Navy, and I wanted to look and see what kinds of careers are out there," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class William Book. "I have one job offer from JP Morgan Chase as a mortgage manager as well as several companies who will be contacting me after this event."

Military members who have plans to get out of the military should start planning now, advised Book.

"If your time in the military is almost over, don't wait to start planning, even if your still a year or two out," said Book. "Job offers will come through networking, not email and submitting applications alone. You have to meet these people, get your face known, get your name known."

Coast Guard Commandant Details Arctic Security Issues

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – At a recent conference, a Defense Department participant said the Arctic doesn’t represent a security threat for at least the next decade, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. said last week.

“The Coast Guard has … a much wider aperture,” he added.

Papp told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service that the Arctic has economic, energy and environmental implications for national security.

Coast Guard missions there are increasing because Shell Oil Co. has permits to drill in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort seas beginning this summer, he said.

Shell will move 33 ships and 500 people to Alaska’s North Slope, and will helicopter some 250 people a week to drilling platforms, the admiral said. That activity has the potential to increase Coast Guard workloads in pollution and environmental response, as well as in search and rescue, he noted.

The Coast Guard will have to station responders in the North Slope, which it hasn’t done throughout its 150-year presence in Alaska, Papp said. Since 1867, he added, Coast Guard cutters have been based in southern Alaska to protect fisheries and marine mammals, give medical assistance to native populations and rescue whalers. The North Slope is new territory for the Coast Guard, with most of the service’s Alaska infrastructure some 800 miles away.

“We’ll take one of our brand-new national security cutters … as the Shell fleet proceeds up there to start their activities,” the admiral said. That cutter will serve as a movable operations center, with worldwide communications, a two-helicopter flight deck and three boats that can launch boarding teams, Papp said.

“For the last four years, we’ve actually been deploying forces up there on a temporary basis to experiment with our equipment [and] see what works up there,” the commandant said. “We will learn lessons … as drilling starts up there, but right now, I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to cover it.”

Climate trends also indicate new missions for the Coast Guard, as former “hard water” ice zones become “soft water” operation areas. The admiral said during one of his early assignments near the Bering Sea, some 36 years ago, a particular location was completely iced in. Two years ago, on a visit to the same place, he said, “there was no ice to be seen.”

In Alaska, fish stock and human activity is moving north as ice recedes, Papp said. But the extreme cold still poses equipment and other challenges for Coast Guard operations, as the Coast Guard’s North Slope experiments proved.

Papp identified two challenges Arctic operations pose: the environment and the infrastructure. With no deep-water ports, inlets for piers or asphalt ramps for boat trailers, “we had to come up with different operating procedures,” he said. And then there’s the fact aviation fuel turns to jelly in extreme cold.

“You don’t want that to happen when you’re flying at 500 feet,” the commandant noted. “We never had heaters for our fuel tanks, because we didn’t need to. So these are little lessons that we learned … that will help us to improve our operations.”

Turning to infrastructure, Papp said the Coast Guard has good command-and-control capabilities linking mariners and shore-based stations throughout U.S. coastal areas. The North Slope is an exception, and when it comes to piers for ships, barracks for service members and hangars for aircraft, Papp added, “there’s none of that infrastructure up there.”

Ships can provide a bridging strategy for North Slope operations, but long-term operations will require investing in shore-based facilities, Papp said.

“I’m going to identify the needs, and I’m going to talk about them,” he added.

USS Ronald Reagan Sailor Dies in Vehicle Accident

From USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- A Sailor from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) died Feb. 24 as a result of a vehicle accident on State Route 16 in Kitsap County, Wash.

Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Roger Hartley, 25, of the ship's Air Department was pronounced dead at Harrison Memorial Hospital at 6:56 a.m. following the accident.

Hartley had served as an electrician's mate on board since reporting in Jul. 2010. Hartley achieved his Enlisted Surface and Aviation Warfare pins on Ronald Reagan's most recent deployment.

During that deployment, Reagan conducted Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief off the coast of Sendai, Japan following the Mar. 11 earthquake and tsunami. Additionally, Reagan provided direct action in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

"It's a tragedy whenever we lose one of our shipmates and everyone on board is affected," said Cmdr. Kevin Lenox, Reagan's executive officer. "Hartley was a stellar Sailor and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time."

For more information, news media representatives may contact Ensign David Carter, Ronald Reagan Public Affairs Officer at 619-301-5685.

Commandant: Coast Guard’s Wide-ranging Mission Set Increasing

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – If something touches the nation’s waters, the “multi-mission” Coast Guard probably has some responsibility for it, according to that service’s only four-star officer.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service the complex mission set has evolved over the service’s 221-year history, since Congress in 1790 authorized the building of 10 vessels to enforce federal tariff laws and prevent smuggling.

“We were the maritime force of the nation when the nation couldn’t afford a Navy,” Papp said, noting the Coast Guard predates the Navy by four years. Over time, he added, the Coast Guard has amassed a wide range of responsibilities: stopping drugs, saving lives, screening and inspecting vessels, maintaining aids to navigation, enforcing fisheries laws and pollution standards, and even searching foreign ports for sources of harm to the United States.

The admiral said he sums up the service’s 11 statutory missions this way: “We protect those who use the sea, we protect the nation against threats from the sea, and we protect the sea itself.”

The admiral said to meet those missions, a “good Coastie” needs specific qualities, some of which – such as patriotism and selfless service -- are common to service members of all branches. The defining characteristic for Coast Guardsmen, he added, is a love and understanding of the sea in its turbulent moods.

“You have to understand that everything that occurs on the ocean … is multiplied in terms of difficulty, particularly when you’re doing it at night or in the midst of a storm,” Papp said. “And that’s when the Coast Guard gets its work done.”

Looping back to the mission mix, the commandant said adaptability is the other Coast Guard essential.

“Rather than be able to focus just on defense, or just on law enforcement, a Coast Guardsman’s got to be versatile … and have some level of knowledge and competency in a broad range of activities,” he explained.

The admiral noted a Coast Guard cutter crew’s January rescue of six Iranian mariners in waters off Iraq highlights one of the service’s lesser-known efforts.

“A lot of people say, ‘You’re the Coast Guard; what are you doing over there?’” he noted. “[But] it’s not just U.S. coasts. There are a lot of coasts around the world … [and] we offer the United States options in terms of national security.”

Papp said most people don’t realize the Coast Guard has operated in the northern Arabian Gulf for nine years, filling “a niche capability for the Department of Defense that Central Command needed.”

Iraq has offshore oil platforms that produce 90 percent of the country’s wealth, but a territorial dispute between Iraq and Iran means those platforms are under constant threat, he explained. Coast Guard patrol boats, along with Navy patrol craft, provide security for those platforms under command of the Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces for Southwest Asia, he said.

“That’s just one example of Coast Guard people overseas,” he said.

The Coast Guard pushes the boundaries of the United States’ maritime security, the commandant said, because port security begins where ships that end up in U.S. ports start out -- places like Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and Singapore.

Papp said since 9/11, the Coast Guard –- as the nation’s representative to the United Nations International Maritime Organization -- has pushed for treaties to help in increasing America’s port security.

“We now are able to send inspectors overseas to verify the security procedures in the ports of countries that wish to trade with the United States,” he said. That effort involves a couple of dozen U.S.-based traveling inspectors and small Coast Guard commands, each also about two dozen strong, in Europe and the Far East.

“That is really what I view as a low-cost effort … to help provide security,” Papp said.

U.S. ports are the other end of the Coast Guard’s layered port security.

“We’ve done a great job over the last 10 years in restoring and rebuilding our boat fleet in the ports, repopulating our Coast Guard stations and sectors, and creating something we call deployable specialized forces … which are basically [special weapons and tactics] teams afloat,” he said.

Papp said he worries about maritime security’s “middle layer” -- vast expanses of ocean.

“Our country needs to have a persistent presence to intercept any identified threats that might be coming toward the United States,” he said. “That’s really our weak point right now.”

High-endurance ships that can stay on station and survive the weather are critical to that middle range, he said, and the large Coast Guard cutters built to provide that presence are now more than 40 years old.

“They’re falling apart, they’re very expensive to maintain, and we need to be about the process of getting those rebuilt,” Papp said.

The constricting federal budget will make that “very difficult,” he acknowledged.

“We’ve always liked to consider ourselves a lean and agile force,” the commandant said. “But … because people keep pushing responsibilities to [us,] [we] end up doing more with less, which is something that’s cursed us over the years.”

The Coast Guard’s increased missions are within the service’s capabilities, but not its funding, Papp said.

“Unless somebody’s going to infuse massive amounts of money into the Coast Guard budget, we can’t handle this on our own,” the admiral said. “We’ll do the best we can with the resources we have, and I will identify the resources that are needed for our country, but then we’ve got to come up with an all-of-government solution.”

The Coast Guard has worked hard since 9/11 to build its uniformed strength back to what it was in 1990, Papp said. “But we’ve taken on a whole lot more responsibilities over the last 10 years as well,” he added.

Fleet Survey Team Completes Mission in Colombia

From U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

CARTAGENA, Colombia (NNS) -- The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) Fleet Survey Team (FST) completed survey operations in the coastal waters of Cartagena, Colombia Feb. 23.

The FST surveys of Cartagena Bay was part of Oceanographic-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (O-SPS 12) and provided an opportunity to assist Colombia in surveying the area including the Magdalena River in Barranquilla.

"The Colombian Navy requested our assistance to map their coastal waters as their survey vessel had been undergoing extensive repairs," said Lt. Keith Plavnick, FST officer in charge. "The hydrographers of the Colombian Navy's Centro de Investigaciones Oceanograpficas e Hidrograficas (CIOH) were very enthusiastic and helpful in our survey operations. We had at least two Colombian Naval Hydrographers on board each day participating as equal partners during the daily subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) by operating our systems and deploying our sensors from aboard our vessel."

Every aspect of survey missions serve as a form of SMEE, where host nations are encouraged to participate in the mission by working alongside the FST and assisting with handling sensitive equipment and collecting data.

"In Colombia's case, the survey team provided a group of expeditionary surveyors with Expeditionary Survey Vessels (ESV) for the express purpose of a SMEE event during O-SPS 12," said Plavnick. "At the conclusion of the FST surveys, we provide a copy of all the collected data to the host nation and we discuss not only our techniques, but theirs as well during daily operations."

The FST utilized a 10 meter SeaArk survey boat that was transported to Colombia on a U.S. Navy C-130 cargo aircraft. The vessel is equipped with multiple types of depth sounding equipment, to include a Reson 7125 Multi-beam SONAR, ODOM CV200 Single-beam SONAR, Klein 3000 Side Scan SONAR, and an Edgetech 4125 Side Scan SONAR. Additionally, four Insitu Level Troll 700 Tide gauges were installed to measure the tides while conducting the survey operations.

"It is very important to use the correct equipment for our surveys," said Plavnick. "We conduct two main types of surveys; a safety of navigation survey, and an expeditionary survey. The equipment we use during the navigation surveys ensures accurate data is used for updating nautical charts of the survey areas, while the expeditionary surveys are used in identifying obstructions in a channel or harbor after a natural disaster, such as an earthquake."

Once collected, the data is processed at the Stennis Space Center, which is then sent to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to update the nautical charts for the areas just surveyed. The host nations receive a copy of the final dataset, which allows them to include the updated information in their charts.

The FST has a diverse workforce maintaining four boat divisions, capable in both safety of navigation and expeditionary surveying. In addition, they maintain emergency fly-away kits for Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Response (HADR) purposes both within the U.S. and internationally, when needed.

"Our safety of navigation survey team during the Colombian survey consisted of three enlisted, two officers and three civilians," said Plavnick. "The expeditionary survey SMEE team consisted of three enlisted and one officer. Our surveys within the theaters of operations not only help the host nations and keep our skills fresh, but it also helps prepare the theaters on how to use our capabilities easily when disaster hits."

The FST conducts about 14 surveys a year around the world. The team uses the Chief of Naval Operations' priority Oceanographic, Hydrographic and Bathymetric (OHB) list, and requests from component commanders like U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO) to determine where and when they will conduct their surveys. The surveys aid in the safe navigation of military and civilian vessels traversing the area.

NAVOCEANO, part of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, collects and analyzes global ocean and littoral data to provide specialized, operationally significant products and services for military and civilian, national and international customers.

Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of U.S. Navy ships to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with partner nation service members and civilians in the region.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Wisconsin Guard members recognized for public affairs work

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Public affairs professionals in the Wisconsin National Guard garnered nine top awards, including five first-place awards, in the National Guard Bureau's 2011 Media Contest.

At Ease Express, the official publication of the Wisconsin National Guard, was named the National Guard's best web-based publication for the second straight year. In 2009 it took second place at the National Guard level, but advanced to take first place in the Army and Department of Defense competitions.

WisGuard Live, a command blog which launched in 2011, also took first place. Sgt. Tyler Lasure of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, took first place for his story on two Wisconsin Guard members who competed in the Boston Marathon. Tech. Sgt. James Michaels of the 128th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office was named "Outstanding New Broadcaster" in the Air National Guard, and also earned a first place for his television sports report on Capt. Jason Parks.

Tech. Sgt. Sarah Franzen of the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office received a second place award for a video segment in the "I Am the Wisconsin National Guard" series. 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson took second place for a story and photo from the 2011 Rhythm and Booms celebration.

Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue of the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office received a third place award for his WisGuard Live blog commentary on motorcycle safety. Tech. Sgt. Tom Sobczyk of the 128th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office also took third place for graphics illustration with a Red Ribbon poster.

"I couldn't be prouder of the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs team," said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "They have led the transition to the digital age while preserving a legacy of excellence in media professionalism."

The National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Office received more than 800 entries from 44 states. Top finishers will advance to the Army and Air Force level contests.

Competition, Dedication Drives Battle "E" Brothers

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Byron C. Linder, USS Carl Vinson and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW)Joshua Horton, USS George W. Bush

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The San Diego-based Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and Norfolk, Va.-based USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) were selected for the Navy's Battle Efficiency (Battle "E") honor Feb. 10.

The Battle "E" is awarded annually to the small number of U.S. Navy ships that win their battle effectiveness competition. The Battle "E" is designed to measure and recognize a command's sustained superior performance and battle efficiency in an operational environment through the calendar year.

And on the two ships - separated by the length of the United States - serve two lifelong friends, each a winner in the competition.

Carl Vinson's Culinary Specialist (CS) Seaman Phillip Collins, assigned to Supply Department's S-2 division, grew up with Bush's Aviation Ordnanceman (AO) Airman Ryan Cowan, assigned to Weapons Department's G-1 division, in their hometown of Los Angeles. Though not related by blood, the "godbrothers'" relationship runs deep throughout the years spent together.

"We grew up together, went to all four years of high school together, and our parents are really good friends," Collins said. "I've known him all my life."

Throughout their lives, the spirit of competition has and will always be a key element in their relationship.

"We're always competing with each other," said Cowan. "Whether it's sports, video games, or professional accomplishments, we're constantly trying to out-do the other."

In high school, the brothers' thoughts turned to the future. Both were determined to join the Navy together as hospital corpsmen (HM). Collins elected to go to college first, while Cowan chose to join the Navy immediately.

"At the time he joined, he wanted to leave immediately. But HM wasn't open, and AO was, so he took that," Collins said. "When I finally decided to go about a year later, CS was open, and I didn't want to wait to be an AO or HM."

Their families' reaction to the brothers' decision was initially of concern.

"They wanted both of us to go to college. They were kind of scared, they didn't want us to get hurt or anything like that," Collins said. "But now they're very proud of us."

Collins reported to Carl Vinson September 2010, and contributed to the effort in Supply Department's earning the highest recorded score of 99.3 for the ship's Supply Management Inspection three months later. The inspection was worth 40 of 100 points for the "Blue 'E'" Battle "E" departmental award.

Although the distance separating them is great, both Collins and Cowan make it a priority to communicate with one another on a regular basis.

"We send emails regularly to stay in touch, but anytime I have an opportunity to travel back to California, we get together," said Cowan.

It's through those e-mails and occasional vacation time, that they keep their competitive streak alive, incorporating the achievement of professional goals.

"We battle about warfare pins. I'm working on my surface pin, and he's working on his air pin. I'm winning right now, because I'm about to take my murder board," Collins said.

For Collins, the Battle "E" represents a personal and professional point of pride and a well-deserved acknowledgement for Vinson's back-to-back combat deployments.

"It's a great accomplishment. I'm proud of my chain of command, my ship. It's pretty cool. We worked really hard these two deployments. We haven't been home a lot, and we're being recognized for those sacrifices," he said.

Cowan said that for him, the Battle "E" is a culmination of the hard work and sacrifice that he and so many others put in during deployment.

"This award reflects the dedication to success that we have on board the ship," said Cowan. "Our Weapons Department worked really hard for this, and I'm happy to be a part of something special."

USS Sampson Departs for Deployment

From Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer, USS Sampson (DDG 102), departed for a scheduled six-month, independent deployment to the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility, Feb. 24.

"Sampson's crew has worked extremely hard in preparation for this deployment. We are trained and prepared to execute any mission assigned," said Cmdr. Chris Alexander, commanding officer of Sampson. "We will, of course, miss San Diego, our friends and our families. We leave them behind knowing that what we do is vital to the security of the nation and our way of life."

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the west coast of North America to the International Date Line and provides realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.