Military News

Thursday, March 01, 2012

MCPON Sends Navy Reserve Birthday Message

From Special from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released the following Navy Reserve birthday message to the fleet March 1.

"Shipmates,

As the Navy Reserve celebrates 97 years of service, I am reminded of the integral part Navy Reservists have played in their service to our nation. Even though we have always had an operational Navy Reserve, we have relied heavily on our strategic reserve force in order to meet various Naval and joint military missions since the terrorist attacks in 2001.

Our Sailor's Creed begins with "I am a United States Sailor," and as I travel throughout our Navy, and witness the work of our active and reserve Sailors working as a team, I know, these warriors need no such reminder.

There is no difference in the quality of work and amount of dedication being brought to the mission. There is no difference in the high regard with which our core values and Navy standards and traditions are held. There is no difference in the level of sacrifice experienced during long deployments and periods of separation. We are one Force working side by side in all corners of the world; a Total Force integrated and executing the Navy's mission wherever and whenever called.

Reservists lead a double life to remain mission-ready, able to handle the demands of the Navy, and maintain a civilian career complete with its own demands and challenges. Reservists are studying for advancement in the Navy, while continuing to prove their worthiness for a promotion in their civilian careers. I'm sure it even feels at times like they are working two full-time jobs, complete with the weekday phone calls, emails, GMTs and pre- and post-deployment workups.

I am proud of the operational capabilities our Navy Reserve provides every day ... these capabilities are made possible by our outstanding Sailors, their families and civilian employers. Reserve Sailors understand more than anyone, the need to be Ready Now, Anytime, Anywhere. It is more than just a motto, it is a lifestyle.

To our more than 64,000 Navy Reserve Sailors, thank you and your families for your honor, courage and commitment in making America's Navy truly a global force for good.

Happy 97th Birthday Navy Reserves!

HOOYAH!

Very Respectfully,

MCPON"

National Guard Responds to Midwest Tornadoes

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., March 1, 2012 – As of 11 a.m. EDT, the National Guard had about 90 Guard members supporting civilian authorities responding to tornadoes that ripped through communities throughout the Midwest, Guard officials said today.

The twisters struck during the early morning hours yesterday, affecting Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has mobilized 50 to 60 Army Guard members from the 35th Engineer Brigade to assist the Branson, Mo., police department with nighttime security efforts, Missouri Guard officials said.

“These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and widespread damage and debris continue to pose significant risk to lives and property,” Nixon said. “As a result, I have ordered the Missouri National Guard to deploy citizen-soldiers and assets to support local law enforcement agencies with emergency coordination and recovery.

“Missouri’s citizen-soldiers performed tremendously during disaster response efforts throughout 2011,” he continued, “and I know that they will help ensure public safety.”

Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, Missouri’s adjutant general, said his Guard members are prepared and equipped to handle anything the governor requires of the National Guard.

“Our soldiers and airmen are ready to assist their fellow Missourians,” Danner said. “We served extensive state missions in 2011, and have seasoned leaders, soldiers and airmen who bring years of experience to their mission.”

In addition to the Guard members mobilized, the Missouri National Guard has a total force of more than 11,500 soldiers and airmen ready to respond, he said.

The Kentucky National Guard has mobilized about 30 Guard members to LaRue County – 56 miles south of Louisville – to assist local authorities with security and traffic control efforts.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has declared a state of emergency for affected counties in southern Illinois, but has not mobilized the Illinois National Guard. Illinois National Guard officials say that the Illinois Guard is ready and equipped if or when the governor makes the call.

The governors of Kansas and Tennessee have mobilized by their National Guards, but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, they are ready to answer the call for their citizens and their neighboring states, officials said.

(The Missouri National Guard public affairs office contributed to this report.)

MCPON Visits United States Naval Academy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas L. Rosprim, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) visited the United States Naval Academy and Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis Feb. 28.

During the visit, MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West toured the various historical sites on the Naval Academy grounds, rode across the Chesapeake Bay aboard one of the academies yard patrol (YP) craft, and spoke to Sailors stationed at the Academy and NSA Annapolis.

"Our history is our foundation," said West to a group of Sailors while visiting the tomb of John Paul Jones. "To work near sites such as this tomb is a great honor and I envy you for the opportunity you have here."

Dedication to excellence was a large topic for the day, emphasized again and again by MCPON as he spoke with Sailors working in the Annapolis area.

"Remember shipmates that you are instructing the future captains and admirals of the fleet," said West. "You'll never know it today, but there is a good chance you may be teaching the future CNO."

During an all-hands call at NSA Annapolis, MCPON discussed the current status of the Navy, the CNO's vision for the future of the Navy, and answered questions on a variety of topics.

"When I think of the Navy's future I go by the 70, 80, 90 percent rule," said West. "Seventy percent of the earth's surface is water, 80 percent of people live near the water and 90 percent of all trade comes across the water. Using this thought process, I think the Navy is going to be out there forward deployed, keeping trade moving and sea lanes open," added West.

"You support the future leadership of our Navy," said West. "Remember what you have gone through, what you are getting to do now and how you shape our leaders of the future, this alone should motivate you to do your job every single day."

Fleet engagements are intended to provide senior leadership with a frontline assessment of Sailors and what they are doing in the Fleet.

Wisconsin Airman 'overwhelmed' by White House Iraq veteran tribute

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's Tech. Sgt. Cristian Bennett agreed with President Barack Obama's statement that there had never been a night at the White House quite like the Feb. 29 dinner for Iraq war veterans.

"This evening we welcome, not the statesmen who decide great questions of war and peace, but citizens," Obama said. "Men and women from every corner of our country, from every rank of our military, every branch of our service, who answered the call."

"It was very reassuring to hear the words that they said," Bennett said of comments made by Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "All the leaders there were talking directly from the heart."

Bennett, a fighter team leader with the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing's Security Forces Squadron, was selected to represent Wisconsin at the White House event dubbed "A Nation's Gratitude: Honoring Those Who Served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn." The event was a tribute to 78 Iraq War veterans and their families to honor them for their service, sacrifice and commitment to nation.

"It was very humbling to be chosen," Bennett said. "To have the president of the United States talking directly to us, it was overwhelming."

Bennett and his wife Rachel, of Evansville, Wis., sat approximately 25 feet from the podium where the president and other leaders spoke. The Bennetts also had the opportunity to shake hands with President and Mrs. Obama. This was his first meeting with Obama,, even though he worked on the presidential security detail when Air Force One landed at Truax Field in 2009 and 2010.

"He is a down-to-earth person," Bennett said of the president.

"In one of our nation's longest wars, you wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history," Obama told the more than five dozen Iraq veterans and their guests. "Now, the Iraqi people have a chance to forge their own destiny, and every one of you who served there can take pride in knowing you gave the Iraqis that opportunity — that you succeeded in your mission."

The vice president lauded service members for their ability to adapt to challenges, the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the opportunity they gave the people of Iraq to have a self-governing, self-sufficient nation.

"You're incredible. You adapted, you succeeded and you defeated," Biden said. "You defeated a tyrant, [and] you beat back violent extremists. And the most remarkable thing you did, because of the breadth of your capability, you enabled a country that had not been governed in any reasonable way for over four decades, you actually helped them set up institutions and train a military and a civilian corps that gives them a real fighting chance."

Panetta expressed his gratitude to all in attendance as well as the million-plus service members they represented for fulfilling their duties, for their dedication and for their service to the nation.

"To all who fought in Iraq, we thank you for your service," he said. "You've earned our nation's everlasting gratitude. We are indebted to you for your willingness to fight [and] your willingness to sacrifice for your country.

"We are [also] indebted to your families and your loved ones for the sacrifices that they made so that their loved ones could help defend this nation," Panetta said.

The chairman, who was first to speak, thanked the president and first lady for paying tribute to veterans and families of the Iraq War.

"Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, thank you for recognizing the service and sacrifice of the military family in this very special way," Dempsey said. "We really appreciate the support that you, the vice president and Dr. Biden, and those that they bound together in the 'Joining Forces' initiative and the nation provide us."

The president said this isn't the first or last time the nation will pay tribute to "those who served courageously in Iraq," noting that the nation's attitude toward service members has changed in the last half century.

"History reminds us of our obligations as a nation at moments like this," he said. "Now this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time when our veterans didn't always receive the respect and the thanks that they so richly deserved. That's a mistake that we must never repeat. The good news is already we've seen Americans come together in small towns and big cities all across the country to honor your service in Iraq.

"Tonight, on behalf of Michelle and myself, on behalf of over 300 million Americans we want to express those simple words that we can never say enough," the president continued. "That's 'Thank you.'"

Bennett said seeing two Marines at the dinner who were severely wounded in Iraq reminded him of his own tour of duty there from 2005 to 2006, working with Iraqi police cadets in Mosul. He earned an Air Force Combat Action Medal for multiple engagements with Iraqi insurgents, and survived two close encounters with roadside bombs that has left him with mild traumatic brain injury.

"I realized how lucky I was," Bennett said.

Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr. of the American Forces Press Service contributed to this report.

Obama, Biden Celebrate Military’s Virtues

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2012 – President Barack Obama honored troops for their devotion, strength and resolve while Vice President Joe Biden praised the “9/11 Generation” during a tribute to Iraq War veterans and their families yesterday.

At a White House event titled “A Nation’s Gratitude: Honoring Those Who Served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn,” Obama reflected on the dinner’s place in history as he expressed admiration for the military’s example of service and sacrifice.

“This house has stood for more than two centuries, through war and peace, through hardship and through prosperity. These rooms have hosted presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens. But in the history of this house, there’s never been a night quite like this,” the president said.

“Because this evening, we welcome, not the statesman who decide great questions of war and peace, but citizens,” he said. “Men and women from every corner of our country, from every rank of our military, every branch of our service, who answered the call.”

More than five dozen service members chosen to represent the million-plus U.S. troops who served in Iraq and their guests listened as Obama noted that in a culture that celebrates fame and fortune, those who go to war to defend its peace are not necessarily household names.

“They’re something more,” he said. “The patriots who serve in our name and after nearly nine years of war in Iraq, tonight is an opportunity for us to express our gratitude and to say, once more, ‘Welcome home.’”

The president said this isn’t the first or last time the nation will pay tribute to “those who served courageously in Iraq,” noting that the nation’s attitude toward service members has changed in the last half century.

“History reminds us of our obligations as a nation at moments like this,” he said. “Now this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time when our veterans didn’t always receive the respect and the thanks that they so richly deserved. That’s a mistake that we must never repeat. The good news is already we’ve seen Americans come together in small towns and big cities all across the country to honor your service in Iraq.

“Tonight, on behalf of Michelle and myself, on behalf of over 300 million Americans we want to express those simple words that we can never say enough,” the president continued. “That’s ‘Thank you.’”

The vice president thanked senior military leaders for training the “finest generation of warriors.”

“This is not hyperbole -- [they are] the finest generation of warriors in the history of this country,” Biden said, “and I would argue, in a literal sense, the finest generation of warriors in all of history.”

Biden expressed his frustration in hearing talk of how “Generation X” is unprepared for what previous generations went through and referred to the current generation as the “9/11 Generation.”

“You are the most incredible generation this country has produced,” he said. “Since 9/11, over 2.8 million of your generation -- men and women -- have joined the military, knowing, and in many cases hoping, you’d be sent into harm’s way.

“This journey began nine years ago when armored vehicles rumbled across the borders of Kuwait and into one of the most challenging missions that the American military has ever undertaken,” the vice president continued. “And all of you sitting at our tables tonight, you know better than anyone.”

As Biden spoke of missions that seemed impossible in what he called “a test of faith,” Obama praised the Iraq veterans for their perseverance and values to service despite having other opportunities.

“Blessed to live in the land of the free, you could have opted for an easier path,” the president said. “But you know that freedom is not free. And so you volunteered and you stepped forward and you raised your hand, and you took an oath to protect and defend -- to serve a cause greater than yourself, knowing that in a time of war, you could be sent into harm’s way.”

Obama noted that many Iraq War veterans now serve in Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Indeed, we’re mindful that even as we gather here, Iraq veterans continue to risk their lives in Afghanistan, and our prayers are with them all tonight,” he said.

The president also recognized the troops’ families for their “remarkable service” and said he is proud to serve as the commander in chief as he offered a toast.

“To the country we love, to the men and women who defend her,” he said. “To that faith -- that fundamental American faith that says no mission is too hard, no challenge is too great. Through tests and through trials, we don’t simply endure. We emerge stronger than before, knowing that America’s greatest days are still to come. And they are great because of you.”

NSSF Master Chief Reflects on CMC Selection, Benefits of CPO 365

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- One of 97 active duty and full time support/Selected Reserve master chiefs selected to serve as a command master chief, offered his reflections on the process Feb. 27.

Naval Submarine Support Facility's Command Master Chief (SS) Rory Wohlgemuth, who graduated from New London High School in 1995, is a co-chairman of the Chief Petty Officer 365 (CPO 365) program at Naval Submarine Base New London, which regularly meets the second Thursday of every month. The next meeting is scheduled for March 8 at 10 a.m. at the Dealey Center in Groton.

CPO 365 is a three-phase year-round training cycle, which is a combination of training, networking and other events, aimed at preparing board-eligible first class petty officers to be future chief petty officers. In addition to guiding future chief petty officers, CPO 365 also provides an opportunity to build mentoring and team-building opportunities with junior officers.

"I didn't make master chief in 14 years unless someone was watching over me and involved in my life and my career, essentially taking care of me," said Wohlgemuth.

In an average week, Wohlgemuth can easily interact with a large percentage of the more than 400 Sailors.

"What I do well is take care of my Sailors and that is my number one goal," said Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth also interacts with another 400 civilian personnel that are assigned to NSSF and added that "while both civilians and Sailors might not wear the same uniform, they are true patriots all the same."

Wohlgemuth reflected on the lessons learned throughout his career and how sharing this wisdom with others is essentially the bedrock for the Chief Petty Officer 365 program.

"I love the fact that it gets the door open to the chiefs' quarters," said Wohlgemuth. "I'm glad that I get the chance to be a part of it and can see it grow."

The command master chief also explained how the chiefs' unity allows them to share valuable experiences and positively lead Sailors.

"I think if we open the door and share what we know it will motivate our Sailors to do better and share what we know with them. If we don't engage them, they will be trained by their actions," said Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth has previously deployed on four submarines to include USS Houston, USS Columbia, USS Miami, and USS Texas.

During his deployments he passed along his wisdom to the junior Sailors aboard.

"The thing that I told the new guys is to qualify as fast as you can in whatever helps your division or ship. Once you begin to be helpful to the ship more people in turn will be willing to help you," said Wohlgemuth.

He added that he believes in three major pillars and tries to apply them regularly in his naval career: integrity, dedication to doing well personally and professionally, and staying healthy.

"In my naval career, I have always wanted to provide good choices and opportunities, but at the same time showing and doing and walking the walk are truly important," said Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth added that he looks forward to growing in his present job and spending time with his wife and two children.

"The best is that my father works on Naval Submarine Base New London and is employed by Naval Undersea Warfare Center, but works at the Submarine Learning Center," said Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth's father also served in the Navy, aboard Los Angeles-class submarine USS Augusta (SSN 710).

Eucom Boss Calls Troop Reductions ‘Manageable, Appropriate’

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Planned reductions to U.S. forces in Europe is an extension of the post-Cold War drawdown that is both manageable and appropriate in the new global context, the commander of U.S. European Command told Congress today.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, who also serves as the NATO supreme allied commander for Europe, told the House Armed Services Committee that the planned 15 percent reduction of U.S. troops based in Europe would bring the current level of about 96,000 troops down to 68,000. The U.S. presence in Europe already is down about 75 percent from its high of about 400,000 troops in Europe at the height of the Cold War, he said.

The Defense Department’s fiscal 2013 budget request calls for two heavy brigade combat teams and two air squadrons to leave Europe next year and in fiscal 2014. The budget proposal was based on the new strategic military guidance developed over months of discussions among combatant commanders and other military leaders, Stavridis said.

“I support the strategy, and I support this reduction,” he said.

The admiral said there are many reasons for the military to maintain its European presence: Europe’s economic base, which amounts to about 25 percent of the world’s gross domestic product; its central location for getting U.S. forces to Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia; the NATO alliance; and the longstanding military-to-military relations and training opportunities.

“Europe is a very broad geo-strategic platform,” he said. “This is a part of the world that really shares our values. We stand with Europe in many, many ways philosophically. For all those reasons, Europe will continue to matter, and I hope we’ll approach [downsizing] in a balanced way.”

European Command worked hard in the past year on NATO campaigns in Libya, Afghanistan and the Balkans, Stavridis said. It works continuously to strengthen partnerships for training and operations, and focuses on areas such as missile defense and countering cyber threats and drug trafficking, he added.

To mitigate any gaps or risks associated with the drawdown, Stavridis told the panel, the military would have a dedicated brigade combat team in Germany on a rotational basis available to deploy to Eastern Europe, the Baltic states or wherever it is needed. While European Command will lose some aircraft, he said, it will gain V-22 Ospreys and is adding several ships to manage the U.S. missile defense system in Europe.

Asked about asymmetric threats in Europe, Stavridis said there were some 300 kinetic terrorist incidents ranging from bombings to assassinations in Europe last year, including the shooting of two U.S. airmen at a Frankfurt, Germany, airport, and that rioting in northern Kosovo in recent months left several NATO troops shot and dozens hospitalized.

Eucom will continue to work on its military partnerships so other nations fight alongside U.S. forces, the admiral said. Such relationships also are important to missions such as counterdrugs, counterpiracy and cyber defense, he noted.

Asked about possible future NATO partners, Stavridis named India and Brazil as worthy partners. He noted that 22 nations included in the international coalition in Afghanistan are not NATO members, including New Zealand and Tonga. Important non-NATO partnerships exist in the Mediterranean Dialogue, which allowed discussions about Libya last year, and the Istanbul Initiative, which is a forum for Persian Gulf states to partner on anti-piracy efforts, he said.

Commanding Officer of VQ-1 Relieved

From Naval Air Forces

WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved the commanding officer of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1 from command Feb. 27.

Vice Adm. Allen G. Myers relieved Cmdr. Jeffrey P. Wissel from command while allegations of personal misconduct are investigated.

Cmdr. David R. Suave, the executive officer of VQ-1, has assumed command pending the outcome of the investigation.

Wissel has been temporarily assigned to the staff of Commander, Navy Region Northwest. VQ-1 is based at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.