Friday, March 16, 2012

Navy Looks to Bolster Capabilities in Persian Gulf

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2012 – The Strait of Hormuz is a critical global choke point and the U.S. Navy is ensuring it has all the capabilities needed for this transit point to remain open, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, said today.

The admiral told the Defense Writers’ Group that the Navy is beefing up capabilities in the Persian Gulf, through which much of the world’s oil flows.

On one side of the strait are U.S. allies Oman and the United Arab Emirates. On the other side is Iran, whose leaders have threatened to shut down the strategic body of water.

Greenert spoke with Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, soon after he became CNO in September 2010. Mattis said there were capabilities he needed more of, the admiral recalled.

Greenert went to the region and assessed what the Navy needed “to set the theater.” He was aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as it exited the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

“I got a good look at the situation,” the admiral said. “A lot of the Iranian navy was out there … not really threatening, but being vigilant, and I thought through that.”

He met with Central Command and Navy leaders and laid out what more is needed in the region.

Greenert said he will double the number of mine warfare assets in the region, including mine sweepers -- going from four ships to eight -- and anti-mine aircraft in the form of four more CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters.

The admiral also wants to increase the readiness of the forces in the region. “If I have four out there, how many are ready to go on any given day?” he said. “I wanted to make sure we are good on that and it includes spare parts, maintenance and contractor support.”

Greenert said the Navy also is sending more underwater unmanned autonomous mine neutralization units to the region. “They are effective, they work well and our British partners know how to use them as well,” he said.

For ships sailing through the strait, the Navy is providing more infrared and electro-optical capabilities. “We want to make sure that all the ships that deploy have the same configuration on board and the crews are proficient,” the admiral said.

Navy forces need more short-range defenses in the region, Greenert said. It is a constrained area, he noted, and while carrier battle groups have excellent long-range defenses, they need something more. “It’s like being in an alley with a rifle, and maybe what you need is a sawed-off shotgun,” he said.

The Navy is looking at placing Mark 38 Gatling guns aboard the escorts or the carriers themselves, the admiral said.

“We have five patrol craft. They are 200-foot vessels that are armed with small arms. There are relatively short-range missiles out there -- roughly four miles -- and they are pretty effective according to special operations command,” he said. “I want to look and see if they are compatible with our [patrol craft] … so they are a more effective, more lethal vessel.”

There are five patrol craft in the United States, three more coming back to the Navy from the Coast Guard and five in the Persian Gulf, Greenert said

“I want to move toward upgrading the PCs in the United States with Gatling guns and put them in Bahrain, ultimately, and we’ll have 10 [in the Gulf],” the admiral said.

Within a year, most of the capabilities will be in place in region, he said.

Family Matters Blog: Video Contest to Honor Wounded Troops’ Caregivers

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2012 – Last year, I met an amazing woman who was caring for her triple-amputee son in San Antonio. Saralee Trimble had left a job, her husband and her home behind the moment she got word her son, Army Pfc. Kevin Trimble, had been injured in Afghanistan.

The 19-year-old was just four months into his deployment when a fellow soldier standing 3 feet away stepped on a homemade bomb. The soldier was killed and Trimble lost both of this legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow.

Saralee became Kevin’s full-time caregiver, a role she’ll continue for years to come. But rather than a burden, this military mom considers her son’s care a privilege. “Caring for him … I couldn’t ask for anything more special,” she told me, tears welling up.

A nonprofit organization is hoping to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices of caregivers like Saralee in the coming months.

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation is sponsoring a video contest to find a caregiver of a wounded service member or veteran to be honored as the “hero at home” at its 8th Annual Night of Heroes Gala on May 24. This year’s gala will honor family and friends caring for wounded military heroes while they’re recuperating at the hospital and after they’ve returned home.

“Too often we forget the courage and sacrifice of family members and friends who help our wounded service members and veterans,” said Kate Kohler, chief operating officer of the PenFed Foundation and a former Army captain. “We hope that by encouraging caregivers of our military to share their stories on YouTube, more Americans will recognize their contributions."

To enter, contestants must upload on YouTube a one- to two-minute video about a “hero at home” who went above and beyond to care for an injured service member or veteran, then complete the entry form with the video’s URL. Contestants also must “like” the PenFed Foundation’s official fan page.

Service members and veterans, their caregivers or a third party can submit a nomination. All submitted videos will be featured on the PenFed Foundation’s YouTube contest page.

Officials will accept entries through April 12, and will announce the five finalists April 16. They’ll then invite the public to help choose the winner on the PenFed Foundation’s YouTube finalists’ page through April 22, and announce the winner April 23.

“Our guests at the Night of Heroes Gala in the past have included wounded veterans and military from across the country, national leaders, and elected officials,” Kohler said. “But we feel that this year’s hero at home may end up being the most special of all.”

(For more military family-related posts, visit AFPS' Family Matters Blog.)

CID Sailor Saves Drowning Woman from Pool in Pensacola

By Gary Nichols, Center for Information Dominance Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- A student at the Center for Information Dominance Unit (CID) Corry Station rescued a drowning woman he found floating face down in a Pensacola hotel pool March 13.

Information Systems Technician "A" School student Seaman Apprentice Nicholas Putskey, 19, of Wautoma, Wis., resuscitated Barbara Hogan of Massachusetts, who had lost consciousness while swimming in a hotel pool.

Lt. Larry Richardson of the Myrtle Grove Volunteer Fire Dept., which responded to the emergency call, credited Putskey's quick action with saving Hogan's life.

"It was definitely crucial," Richardson said. "It only takes a little bit of time in the water to make or break them, so he definitely did what he was supposed to, that's for sure."

"He is a hero," Hogan said. "Both myself and my family are grateful to him. I owe my life to him."

Hogan was in the area to visit her son who had recently graduated from "A" school at CID Unit Corry Station.

Putskey's mother, Jane Putskey, and fiancée, Chelsey Clark, both of Wautoma, were spending spring break in Pensacola to visit him.

He and his girlfriend were swimming at the same time that Hogan and her niece were playing in the pool.

As the young couple were about to leave the pool, Clark noticed Hogan was face down and immobile.

"I immediately dived into the pool and pulled her out," Putskey said. "She was blue in the face, blue as can be, and she wasn't breathing at all."

Since Hogan wasn't breathing, Putskey immediately began CPR. Meanwhile, Clark watched the little girl and called for help.

"I revived her and she came back to her senses," Putskey said. "She was a little dazed, and didn't know where she was, but she was alive."

Putskey and Clark stayed with Hogan until fire-rescue arrived on scene.

Hogan was transported by Myrtle Grove Volunteer Fire Department to Baptist Health Care where she was treated and later released.

"He pulled her out of the water, gave her a few rescue breaths, then started CPR," Richardson said. "She definitely had water in her lungs, but she was alert by the time we got there."

Putskey said his boot camp training was the key to him doing the right thing at the time.

"At the time, it was just instinct that kicked in and made me do what I did," Putskey said. "What I learned at boot camp - CPR and first aid - all came back to me. I'm glad it all worked out."

CID Unit Commanding Officer Cmdr. L. Sung had high praise for the young Sailor who reported on board CID Unit Corry Station in October for training.

"Seaman Nicholas Putskey embodies our Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment. His actions were truly of a heroic nature and are a testament to his training at Recruit Training Center Great Lakes," Sung said. "His humble demeanor is an example of his commitment of service to others. We at CID Unit Corry Station are all very proud of his quick reaction in saving the life of another Sailor's mother."

All the attention that has suddenly been focused on Putskey has made him a bit self-conscious. He said the successful rescue couldn't have happened without others pitching in and doing their part.

"It was definitely a team effort," Putskey said. "For example, a lady named Tamea, who is one of the hotel maids, stayed with me to help calm the woman and make her comfortable while my girlfriend went for help."

CID is the Navy's learning center that leads, manages and delivers Navy and joint force training in information operations, information technology, cryptology and intelligence.

With a staff of nearly 1,300 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CID oversees the development and administration of more than 168 courses at four commands, two detachments and 14 learning sites throughout the United States and in Japan. CID provides training for approximately 24,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services and allied forces each year.

Cadets Learn History of the War of 1812

By Lt. Jeffrey S. Gray, Navy City Outreach, Chicago

CHICAGO (NNS) -- Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets from Chicago's Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy were invited to attend a lecture held at the Pritzker Military Library on the importance of the War of 1812 on the history and development of the State of Illinois here March 9.

The lecture coincided with the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Navy's plans to hold one of its six major signature commemorative events here Aug. 13 - 20 for what has been considered the "Second War for Independence."

For many historians, the War of 1812 is viewed as a conflict between a young and newly-independent America and the mature British Empire that grew from disputes over maritime grievances and national interests.

The conflict encompassed three primary geographic areas where battles were fought: Atlantic coast, Gulf coast and the frontier states along the Great Lakes; the battles in the Illinois territory had a significant impact in the development of the State of Illinois, which became a state in 1818, and the city of Chicago.

Looking to rediscover the importance of the War of 1812 on the development the State of Illinois, 20 cadets from Rickover Naval Academy attended a noon lecture by Gillum Ferguson, author, Illinois in the War of 1812, at the Pritzker Military Library.

According to Ferguson's research, the most dramatic event to happen in Illinois during the early stages of the War was the Battle at Fort Dearborn, which is now Chicago. The battle took place on Aug. 15, 1812 and led to the collapse of U.S. power and influence in the Northern Illinois territory, and increased the prestige of the Native American tribes and British military forces in the region.

The Battle at Fort Dearborn saw the fort demolished and the region void of U.S. citizens until the conclusion of the War. Subsequently, however, the conflict created an environment ripe for the growth and expansion of the young and energetic nation.

"The impact of the War on the State of Illinois is that it created the conditions that broke the power and morale of the Native American tribes and permitted the surveying and sale of public lands to extend and establish American settlements in the Illinois territory," said Ferguson.

"The ability of Illinois to move from a sparsely-populated territory of more than 12,000 settlers who were engaged in rural subsistence farming, to a situation six years later where the territory found itself sufficiently populated and confident to knock on the door of the Union for admission as a full-fledged state, after which the population tripled every ten years," said Ferguson.

Inviting high school students, especially those in the Junior ROTC programs, to participate in the lectures and special events put on by the Pritzker Military Library is important and enhances the education they receive.

"The Pritzker Library is a repository for the idea, history and stories of the American citizen soldier-and by that we include seamen, airmen, Marines and soldiers-alive for future generations," said Kenneth Clarke, president and chief executive officer, Pritzker Military Library.

"For example, if a student wanted to learn about the War of 1812, the library has an extensive collection in that area in terms of reference materials that can be accessed," said Clarke. "Having students come in and listen to an author talk about his or her book live, and actually being able to ask the author questions about the extensive and in-depth research they collected and analyzed, is important in the telling, remembering and updating of significant historical moments."

"More significantly, however, the historians we bring to the Library rediscover and bring stories back to the light of day and make sure we stay current, we know what happened and we don't forget," said Clarke. "Bringing a moment in history to life for students is important to the library."

Rediscovering the history and connection the city of Chicago has with the War of 1812 was eye-opening to many of the cadets from Rickover Naval Academy who attended the lecture.

"First, I did not know that there was a bloody battle here in Chicago during the War of 1812," said Rickover Cadet Marcus Guerra. "Second, it was interesting to find out that the battle at Fort Dearborn signaled to other Indian tribes an invitation to attack other settlements throughout the Great Lakes area."

Ferguson explained what he wanted the cadets to take away from his lecture.

"The safe and comfortable existence we now enjoy was created through struggle and sacrifice, by blood and by pain," said Ferguson. "I want the students to understand that there are people who went before us who did not have the ability to share in what we have today. And, what we have today was made possible by the struggle and sacrifice of those who came before, and we should never forget them."