Thursday, March 08, 2012

Geospatial Mapping Enhances Arlington Cemetery Management

From an Arlington National Cemetery News Release

ARLINGTON, Va., March 8, 2012 – Officials at Arlington National Cemetery will use an Army-designed geospatial mapping system to manage cemetery operations, the executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program said today.

Kathryn A. Condon testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s disability assistance and memorial affairs subcommitee to provide an update on the progress made in rectifying long-standing management problems at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Arlington is no longer a paper-based operation. … By producing a single electronic map of Arlington, the staff will assign, manage and track gravesites with an authoritative digital map,” Condon said. “It will allow us to synchronize in real time our burial operations at Arlington.”

The geospatial mapping system allows officials to synchronize burial operations with other daily operations, such as public ceremonies, infrastructure repair, grounds upkeep and public safety activities, Condon explained. The system is linked to Arlington’s interment scheduling system, which allows schedulers to assign gravesites and assign procession routes. It also alerts Arlington staff of other activities in the area, she said.

Arlington is the first national cemetery to use this technology, Condon told the panel.

The geospatial mapping system will use the information collected and validated as part of the Army’s gravesite accountability study. The gravesite accountability effort resulted in the first review, analysis and coordination of records kept in various ways at Arlington over the cemetery’s history, Condon said.

The Gravesite Accountability Task Force physically examined and photographed 259,978 gravesites, niches and markers using a custom-built smartphone application and matched each photo with records in a database. Arlington officials are 84 percent complete in validating records, officials said, and are on track to finish this summer.

Once complete, Arlington’s accountability effort will create a single, verifiable and authoritative database of all those laid to rest at Arlington, officials added, and it will be linked with Arlington’s geospatial mapping system.

Navy Announces New Drug Testing Parameters after Year of Record Low Positives

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- To align with new DoD policy announced in February, Navy will begin testing for more commonly abused prescription drugs during random urinalysis starting May 1. This follows a record low in Sailors testing positive for illicit drug use.

Since 2001, the rate of urinalysis testing in the Navy has increased and remained at a steady rate for the past 10 years. As the testing has increased, the amount of members testing positive has decreased each year. Testing has been done for marijuana (THC), cocaine, and heroin among other drugs. For fiscal year 2011, there were a record low number of members who tested positive for illicit drug use with a total of 1,515 samples out of the 1,184,160 samples tested last year.

"We are really pleased with these results but while the drugs we've been testing have been on a decline, prescription drugs are on the rise. In the past three years amphetamine positives have increased 34 percent and oxycodone positives by 23 percent," said Dorice Favorite, director, Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Office (NADAP).

The DoD announced Feb. 1 that more commonly abused prescription drugs will be added to the standard testing panel for all urinalysis samples submitted for testing. These prescription drug families include benzodiazepines, hydrocodones and hydromorphones (i.e. Xanax, Vicodin and Dilaudid).

"In addition to oxycodone and amphetamine, the Navy already tests for codeine and morphine," said Favorite.

Testing at the service-level will begin in May. The 90-day warning order from announcement to implementation is to allow ample time to ensure military members have their prescriptions properly documented in their health records. Additionally, the warning order provides members who are using prescription drugs that have not been prescribed or given by their health care provider to self-refer for treatment.

"We are concerned about service members who are using prescription drugs without proper authority and potentially addicted," said Favorite. "If you have a problem, this is the time to ask for help."

According to Favorite, Navy's policy on substance abuse is zero tolerance.

"Substance abuse puts lives and missions at risk, undercuts unit readiness and morale, and is inconsistent with our Navy ethos and core values of honor, courage, and commitment," said Favorite.

If a member is using, possessing, promoting, manufacturing, or distributing drugs they face disciplinary action that could result in unfavorable separation from the Navy.

"We recommend members seeking substance use counseling talk with their doctor, chain-of-command or self-refer to a substance abuse rehabilitation program," said Favorite.

Navy Chaplain Recalls Journey in Latest Real Warriors Campaign Video Profile

 “You can’t go back to what you were … you have to adapt to what you are.”
     —Lt. Cmdr. Steve Dundas, U.S. Navy chaplain

With 30 years in the military, the last 12 with the Navy, Lt. Cmdr. Steve Dundas thought he was sufficiently familiar with and steeled against the impacts of war. A deployment to Anbar province, Iraq, where he supported service members stationed in remote areas, changed his mind: literally.

As a trauma department chaplain, Dundas had seen death. He had studied post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ministered to Marines diagnosed with it. But on this mission, he experienced the full impact of what Marines were exposed to—sights, sounds, smells and sheer exhaustion; traveling through some of the most hostile and inhospitable areas in Iraq; and coming under attack, the constant awareness that chaplains were a favorite target of al Qaeda.

When he returned home he felt disconnected from the life he knew. He questioned his faith. Constantly angry, depressed and on-edge, Dundas felt at-odds with his life and his spiritual calling.

A medical officer recognized his PTSD symptoms. With help from a therapist, Dundas started a journey of self-discovery, processing his combat exposure, spiritual crisis and life experiences through writing.

Dundas returned to his profession with new perspectives and a heightened awareness that for some who seek his help, seeking psychological health care may be the best advice he can give.

In this new Real Warriors Campaign video profile, Dundas delivers a clear message of hope and understanding to service members coping with psychological health concerns: while life may have changed for them, they can find a path forward by reaching out for help.

“It’s not something where we’re going to be better overnight [from seeking help] but it will be … a step on the way to healing … a step on the way to integrating those [combat] experiences with our daily life now,” said Dundas.

Real Warriors video profiles stand as testimony to the strength shown by service members who’ve reached out for psychological health care and support. View all of the videos and find information and resources at

Nimitz Medical Department Performs Emergency Procedure At Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacquelyn Childs, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Health Services Department performed an emergency procedure at sea March 6, less than 24 hours after getting underway for the first time in more than a year.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) James Ruane, an independent duty corpsman (IDC), alerted the ship's surgeon, Lt. Karen Woo, when a patient arrived showing typical symptoms of appendicitis including nausea, abdominal pain, tenderness, and loss of appetite.

"The patient checked in at the front desk for sick call," said Ruane. "We were getting a lot of nausea and vomiting complaints because of the sea sickness, but he didn't start getting sick until that morning and was having abdominal pain that started late the night before and progressively got worse."

After a thorough examination in which Ruane checked the abdominal muscles for muscle rebound pain and asked the patient to stand and jump in the air which he was unable to do, Ruane sent the patient to the laboratory for a blood test. After the results showed his white blood cell count was somewhat low Ruane notified Woo of the appendicitis.

Woo checked the patient out and made the clinical decision of an immediate appendectomy. At that point, the only decision was whether to do the surgery on board or have the patient medically evacuated. After assessing the challenges and risks of both a helicopter evacuation and operating on the ship, the command decided to perform the surgery in the operating room on the ship.

"Lt. Woo talked to our senior medical officer and told him we were ready to do the job on the ship here and had all the proper equipment and manpower," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SW/AW) Jason Ast.

According to the corpsmen, performing the operation at sea is the best thing for everyone.

"We'd rather have procedures like that done here on the ship when they can, instead of medevac when there's no need for it," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcos Guevara.

One concern was the preparation of the department just coming out of the yards, and whether they would have all the appropriate equipment and training to complete the task. According to Woo, her team was perfectly ready to perform this type of procedure.

"It's always nerve-racking when you come out of the yards and then you find out you have all this stuff you need," said Woo. "But with good supply and good team efforts we performed the surgery like you would at a hospital."

Medical personnel took time in the yards to train and prepare for these types of situations.

"I think we did a very good job on preparing ourselves for a situation like this," said Ast. "We went through a couple mock scenarios for situations like this."
Sailors were able to come together to make all the necessary preparations for the procedure.

"We basically just sterilized all the instruments and set up the room to do the procedure," said Guevara. "It was kind of incredible because it was the first time we've done this type of surgery in more than two years. Overall I feel the procedure went well."

The team and their success was led by Woo, who performed the surgery.

"She was very calm and under control," said Ast. "She was professional, like she'd done this a hundred times."
Woo gives credit to the success of the operation to her team, including the hospital corpsmen and other doctors.
"The surgery went well," said Woo. "Surgery in itself has complications and risks and when we're out to sea it even adds a little more risk to it. I'm just glad I had a good team."

According to Woo, the medical team on board Nimitz is very supportive of one another and they were able to come together to assist in this procedure and make it a success.

"It's like 'teamwork is a tradition', it's no joke," said Woo. "It's serious on Nimitz, you have to have teamwork."

The patient is currently recovering in the Intensive Care Unit and doing well.

Nimitz is currently underway for the first time in more than a year since it entered its Docked Planned Incremental Availability. After completing sea trials, the ship will arrive at its new homeport of Everett, Wash.

Experts Testify on DOD Missile Defense System

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2012 – Technical challenges remain for the complex ballistic missile defense system designed to protect the United States and its allies, but the capability is crucial to the nation’s defense posture, experts told a congressional panel this week.

Bradley H. Roberts, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency, and other experts testified March 6 before the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces.

Since 1999, the United States has invested more than $90 billion in missile defense. The fiscal 2013 budget request for missile defense is $7.75 billion.

Roberts said the missile defense strategy balances the need to defend the homeland with the need to address regional threats overseas to U.S. forces, allies and partners, and he described the plan to bolster both.

“We live in an era of missile proliferation, we project power forward globally, [and] we have security commitments in regions where missiles are proliferating,” he told the panel. “We must protect our forces, we must protect our allies, [and] they must participate in protecting themselves. To not do that calls into question the very foundation of our security role in the international environment today.”

New capabilities have emerged over the past 10 to 15 years that now are available to bolster regional missile defense, Roberts said. “So we’ve put in place a program to ramp up these regional defense capabilities over the years ahead … in partnership with allies,” he added. “They are not along for a free ride. We’ve given them many opportunities to strengthen their own self-defense, and many are rising to this challenge.”

The United States has missile defense cooperative programs with the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy and many other nations.

Roberts said the two-stage plan for bolstering homeland defense includes strengthening the ground-based midcourse defense system, or GDM, and in the next decade, shifting to a land-based standard missile called SM-3 Block 2B as a complementary second layer of the system. GDM is an element of the ballistic missile defense system made up of ground-based interceptors and ground systems components.

Defense strategy calls for ground-based interceptors to be enhanced over the next 10 years, Roberts said. When SM-3 2B missiles become available around 2020, he told the panel, those will be added to the system to provide a second layer of protection on the ground in the United States.

“For regional defense, we now have two layers of protection,” he added. “The homeland deserves the same. Depth and redundancy are better than reliance on a single system.”

Such ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles destroy an incoming missile using a direct collision, called “hit-to-kill” technology, or an explosive-blast-fragmentation warhead.

O'Reilly told the panel that the Missile Defense Agency’s top priority is to protect the homeland from the growing threat of intercontinental ballistic missile attacks from Iran, North Korea, Syria and other nations.

“We have made significant progress in enhancing our current homeland defense over the past year,” he added. Progress includes activating a forward-based transportable radar in Turkey and an upgraded early warning radar at Thule, Greenland, to track intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Middle East.

The agency has also upgraded three ground-based interceptors, or GBIs, activated a second command-and-control node -- part of the command, control, battle management and communications network that links the warfighter to sensors and interceptor missiles -- and completed the newest missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska.

“Further enhancement of our homeland defense is paced by the resolution of a technical issue identified in the last GBI flight test and the need for a successful intercept with the newest version of the GBI exo-atmospheric kill vehicle by the end of this year,” O’Reilly said.

A successful nonintercept GBI flight test this summer, he added, will confirm that the problem is resolved.

This year, O’Reilly told the panel, ballistic missile defense capability will be built into five more Aegis ships, three SM-3 Block 1B flight tests will demonstrate resolution of the previous test-flight failure, and materiel release is planned for a second terminal high-altitude area defense, or THAAD, battery for area defense, space-based sensors and sea-based capabilities.

The agency’s 2013 budget will deliver a third THAAD battery and three more Aegis ballistic missile defense upgrades, for a total of 32 BMD-capable ships, he said.

“This year and in 2013,” the general said, “we will conduct the largest, most complex, integrated layered regional missile defense tests in history by simultaneously engaging up to five crews and ballistic missile targets with Aegis, THAAD and Patriot interceptor systems, a forward-based [transportable] radar, and a command-and-control system operated by soldiers, sailors and airmen from multiple combatant commands.”

An important part of the ballistic missile defense system that’s under development is the Precision Tracking Space System, or PTSS, a space-based constellation of satellites that will for the first time be able to track a missile over its entire flight.

“There is no sensor that can fill the function of tracking a missile over its entire flight from space and the broad field of views that we need to cover an entire theater, where we could see missiles simultaneously launched,” O’Reilly said.

“The combination of [ground-based midcourse defense], SM-3 2B, PTSS and other programs,” the general said, “will provide effective and adaptable missile defense for our homeland to counter the uncertainty of ICBM capability from today’s regional threats for decades into the future.”