Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Navywide Force Protection Exercise Kicks Off in Hampton Roads

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Darian Kenneyn, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2012 kicked off with an "active shooter" force protection drill on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Feb. 19.

The exercise simulated a Sailor attacking a shipmate with a weapon on a small boat and randomly shooting throughout the harbor. The scenario was designed to train and evaluate the integrated training team, made up of anti-terrorism, emergency management, fire and emergency services, Family Readiness and Facility Support personnel.

During the exercise, an active shooter alert was broadcast throughout the base with the Navy and the Coast Guard responding quickly to locate and neutralize the suspect.

Capt. Charles Stuppard, commander of JEB Little Creek-Fort Story, was there first hand to watch the drill and observe his security team in action.

"We train in case something like this happens. We will be ready to protect the base, protect our personnel and continue our military operations," said Stuppard. "I feel very secure with what I see. Our team can respond to any, if not all, contingencies or any scenarios."

The base integrated training team evaluated the emergency response personnel's ability to respond to an active shooter combined with the small boat attack.

"We went over different response procedures to prepare for today, and our team did well in the exercise,'' said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Brian Rice, force protection team leader. "Safety was a big concern out here, but everything went well."

This drill was the first of many held throughout the week, as the level of security on all bases will rise and stress different areas of the Navy's anti-terrorism program.

Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2012 tests Navy security forces on threat response for installations and units across the nation and is the largest anti- terrorism/force protection exercise in the nation.

This annual event is not in response to any specific threat and is a regularly scheduled exercise.

Training evolutions like Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2012 are key elements of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.

Face of Defense: Loadmaster Soars on ‘American Idol’

By Air Force 2nd Lt. Ander Bowser
439th Airlift Wing

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass., March 21, 2012 – For one aspiring singer here, her 15 minutes of fame stretched out over weeks as a contestant on the Fox singing competition series “American Idol.”

Millions of viewers watched Air Force Tech. Sgt. Blaire Sieber’s opportunity to live out her dream.

"It's really hard to describe the experience," the 337th Airlift Squadron loadmaster said in a telephone interview. "You feel like you're on top of the world."

Sieber, from Medford, Mass., received marks of approval from the “American Idol” judges: singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, rock legend Steven Tyler and Grammy Award-winning producer Randy Jackson during her bid to be a finalist in the show’s 11th season.

The first step was her audition in Savannah, Ga.

"I wasn't sure that I was going to make it, so I turned it into a vacation just in case," she said.

But the audition process was no vacation, she said. Potential contestants endure at least three sets of cuts. The number of people who show up to audition can exceed 10,000 in each city, but only a few hundred make it past the first preliminary auditions. Those who are chosen then sing in front of producers. After another cut, contestants audition in front of the judges, which is the only audition phase shown on the show.

Those selected by these judges are then sent to Hollywood for the start of the process that yields the finalists who compete for audience votes when the competition starts in earnest.

Sieber said her experience consisted of many long days.

"It's the first round that takes the longest. I got there at 5 or 6 in the morning," she said. "I don't think I auditioned until 4 in the afternoon, and some people might not have auditioned until 2 the next morning."

The odds of being selected are slim. Anywhere from 10 to 60 of the thousands who audition in each of several cities make it to the Hollywood round.

"We all put “‘American Idol’ on a pedestal, because it has been going on for so long," Sieber said. "You feel like you're on this rollercoaster that is perpetually moving."

Sieber made it to the top 42 performers out of the more than 100,000 contestants who auditioned and the hundreds who had advanced to Hollywood. And this wasn't her first time making it onto the show’s audition episodes.

"This is my third time auditioning, and second time on the show," said Sieber, a certified nursing assistant who is studying to become a nurse. "I didn't make it to Hollywood the first time." Last year, she received the coveted “golden ticket” to Hollywood, but was unable to advance past the first round there.

This year, Sieber advanced through three "Hollywood Week" rounds and one performance round in Las Vegas, which got her into the top 42. She bowed out gracefully when her time was up.

Sieber said she would do it again if given the opportunity. "You have to keep high hopes and say, 'It is going to work out in the end,'" she said.

The judges’ comments encouraged her, Sieber said, noting that Tyler liked her "growl."

"Get comfortable with that growl in your voice and become friends with it," The Aerosmith singer said. Lopez told the aspiring singer to open up more.

"She told me that she wanted more from me," Sieber said. "The way I interpreted it was that she wanted more emotion in my singing."

Sieber said it was a challenge to compete in front of such musical luminaries.

"Before my first critique from J-Lo, I tried not to focus on whether the judges were dancing in their seats or not," Sieber said. "They are still people you idolize, but you have to focus on your performance."

Sieber has eight years of experience as a C-5 loadmaster. When she puts on the uniform to serve in the Air Force Reserve here, she said, it's all military business.

"I'm really lucky because I'm aircrew, and they've given me opportunities to reschedule my unit training assemblies, volunteer for missions and manage my Reserve schedule with a week here, a couple weeks there," she said. "That has really helped me get the hang of balancing the Reserve with my school and work schedules."

Striking a balance in service to her country, her medical career, educational and singing aspirations has been tough, but not impossible, she said.

(Air Force Senior Airman Kelly Galloway, 439th Airlift Wing, contributed to this article.)

DOD Develops Cyberspace Rules of Engagement

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Whether by land, sea or air, Defense Department leaders have long crafted rules of engagement to determine how, where and when forces can attack the enemy. They expect soon to complete the same for their newest domain: cyberspace, the assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs said today.

“We are working closely with the Joint Staff on the implementation of a transitional command-and-control model for cyberspace operations” while reviewing existing rules of engagement, Madelyn R. Creedon told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

Teresa M. Takai, DOD’s chief information officer, and Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, joined Creedon at the hearing.

“This interim framework,” Creedon told the panel, “will standardize existing organizational structures and command relationships across the department for the application of the full spectrum of cyberspace capabilities.”

Describing DOD’s strategies for operating in cyberspace, Creedon said the department maintains more than 15,000 network enclaves and 7 million computing devices in installations around the globe.

“DOD continues to develop effective strategies for ensuring the United States is prepared for all cyber contingencies along the entire spectrum,” she added, “from peace to crisis to war.”

In times of fiscal constraint, Creedon said, DOD also is taking advantage of efficiencies provided by information technology advances.

“The department has been working around the clock, often in close cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies,” she said, to protect the nation from cyber threats that include the theft of intellectual property, as well as damage to the defense industrial base, the economy and national security.

The department hit a “significant milestone” last July with the release of its first strategy for operating in cyberspace, Creedon said. The document builds on President Barack Obama’s International Strategy for Cyberspace and the DOD Quadrennial Defense Review, and guides the department’s military, business and intelligence activities in cyberspace in support of national interests, she said.

The DOD works closely with colleagues in the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, Treasury, Commerce and other agencies, she added, and pursues bilateral and multilateral engagements to enhance security and develop norms of behavior in cyberspace.

Takai told the panel that DOD’s $37 billion information technology budget request for fiscal year 2013 includes a range of IT investments, including $3.4 billion for cyber security efforts to protect information, information systems and networks against known cyber vulnerabilities.

It also includes $182 million for Cyber Command for cyber network defense, cryptographic systems, communications security, network resiliency, workforce development, and development of cyber security standards and technologies department-wide.

Among efforts to improve effectiveness and efficiency, Takai explained, “is consolidation of the department’s IT infrastructure, networks, computing services, data centers, application and data services, while simultaneously improving the ability to defend that infrastructure against growing cyber threats.”

Her office is leading the implementation of the initiatives, the chief information officer added, “but it is important that we work closely with the services, Joint Staff and U.S. Cyber Command to more aggressively modernize our overall information systems.”

A pillar of that modernization is a move to a single, joint network architecture, Takai said, allowing DOD and Cyber Command better visibility into network activity and better defense against cyber attacks.

Individually, she said, the services and agencies have taken action to better position the information enterprise and security posture.

The department has made significant progress in several areas, Takai said. One effort involved deploying a modular system called a host-based security system that enhances situational awareness of the network and improves the ability to detect, diagnose and react to cyber intrusions.

“We’ve also taken the lead in assessing the risk of the global supply chain to our critical information and communications technology,” Takai added, and has instituted a successful defense industrial base cyber security and information assurance program.

Alexander said cyber defense requires contributions not only from DOD, but from Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Defense Information Systems Agency -- “all key partners in helping us do our cyber mission.”

Cyber space is becoming more dangerous, he added.

“The intelligence community’s worldwide threat brief to Congress in January raised cyber threats to just behind terrorism and [nuclear] proliferation in its list of the biggest challenges facing the nation.”

The task of assuring cyberspace access, the general said, “has drawn the attention of our nation’s most senior leaders over the last year and their decisions have helped to clarify what we can and must do about developments that greatly concern us.”

Cyber Command is specifically charged with directing the security, operation and defense of DOD’s information systems, he added, “but our work and actions are affected by threats well outside DOD networks … threats the nation cannot afford to ignore.”

Dangers are not something new in cyberspace.

“Nation-state actors in cyberspace are riding a tide of criminality,” the general said. “Several nations have turned their resources and power against us and foreign businesses and enterprises, even those that manage critical infrastructure in this country, and others.”

For the panel, Alexander described five key areas Cyber Command is working on:

-- Building the enterprise and training the force;
--Developing a defensible architecture;

--Getting authorities needed to operate in cyberspace;

--Setting the teamwork properly across U.S. government agencies; and

--Creating a concept of operations for operating in cyberspace.

“I think we’re making progress,” Alexander said, “but … the risks that face our country are growing faster than our progress and we have to work hard on that.”

F-35 Reaches Critical Juncture After Strong Year, Official Says

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

WASHINGTON  – The F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter program -- the centerpiece of future tactical aviation and a key to implementing new military strategic guidance -- made strong progress in its development last year, a defense official said today.

Frank Kendall, acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the House Armed Services Committee that the fighter aircraft is essential to the Defense Department, and that it made “strong progress” in 2011.

“Last fall, the department engaged in a strategy and budget review, where everything -- and I do mean everything -- was on the table,” Kendall said. “After a careful look at the joint strike fighter program, the department determined that we do need the JSF [and] that we need all three variants of the fighter, and that we need the planned inventory of 2,443 jets.”

That said, Kendall added, “you must recognize there is still a long way to go for JSF.” The F-35 flight test program is only about 20 percent complete and “many of the more challenging elements of flight test are still ahead of us,” he said.

Kendall noted the F-35 development has reached a crucial point in the conversion from being conceptualized to actual production.

“The JSF program is undergoing the critical transition from development to production,” he said. “Historically, this is always a difficult phase for any program, but particularly so for a high-performance aircraft.”

That transition has been even more difficult for the F-35, Kendall said, because the program began production very early, well before flight testing had begun.

That decision for early production resulted in an unprecedented level of concurrency, which drove the need for significant changes in the program, he said. “With this year’s budget, I believe we are now set on a course for program stability,” he added.

Navy Vice Adm. David Venlet, program manager for the F-35, also said the program now is on track. “The F-35 has schedule and budget realism now going forward,” he said. “It is transparent in the discovery and correction of issues arising in test that are typical in all fighter aircraft development.”

Venlet told the Congress members he believes the F-35 “is a critical presence in the combined force battle space. It makes many other systems and capabilities and effects better because of the presence of the F-35’s sensors.”

Venlet called the F-35 a “critical presence” to many nations, as well as being a bond of joint strength across all U.S. military services.

“It is a bond of capability and a bond economically across many nations that raises the level of technology benefit in our militaries and our industries,” he said.

Venlet called the F-35 “the best possible growth platform to incorporate future advances in weapons, sensors and networks.”

The F-35 also is an assurance to service members that “they will succeed in every mission and return home safely to their loved ones.”

Guardsmen, Reservists Nominate Employers for Freedom Award

From an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve News Release

ARLINGTON, Va.  – More than 3,000 reserve-component service members have nominated their civilian-life employers for an award that recognizes outstanding support for the citizen-soldiers and citizen airmen who work for them.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency, received 3,236 nominations for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the department’s highest recognition for employers supporting members of the Guard and Reserve.

Officials will announce up to 15 recipients this summer to be honored Sept. 20 at a ceremony in the nation’s capital.

Guard and Reserve members, or family members acting on their behalf, nominated their civilian employers for the Freedom Award during the 12-week nomination season. Guard and Reserve members often put their civilian lives on hold when they answer the call to duty, ESGR officials noted. Supportive employers provide a tremendous amount of stability and peace of mind to citizen-warriors and their families, they added, enabling them to continue their service.

"Guardsmen and reservists continue to receive outstanding support from their employers," said James G. Rebholz, national chairman for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. "America's employers have not wavered in their commitment to these citizen-warriors."

The Guard and reserves make up almost half of the U.S. military. While most employers proudly support their military employees, officials said, Freedom Award recipients go above and beyond what is required by law.

Last year’s recipients were nominated for acts of support such as driving a deployed employee’s children to school, replacing a deployed employee’s broken refrigerator, and working overtime to cover shifts so a service member employee could take part in military training.

Semifinalists for the 2012 Freedom Award will be announced next month, officials said.