Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wisconsin National Guard's director of public affairs earns national Accreditation

Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie, the director of public affairs for the Wisconsin National Guard, earned an APR+M (Accredited in Public Relations + Military Communication) certification Saturday (April 14), becoming one of only 19 APR+Ms worldwide and the first actively serving member of the National Guard and U.S. Army to be certified.

Guthrie, of Sun Prairie, successfully completed a 90-minute oral readiness review presentation and a three-hour plus computer-based exam that tested her knowledge, skills and abilities in public relations and military public affairs in joint operations to earn the certification that she's been working toward for more than a year.

"While the personal accomplishment means a lot," Guthrie said, "it's really about demonstrating not only my competence in public relations but, more importantly, how public affairs supports military operations and using that knowledge every day on behalf of the Soldiers and Airmen I represent."

"Lt. Col. Guthrie is a consummate professional," said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, and Guthrie's supervisor. "Under her leadership, the Wisconsin National Guard public affairs office has won numerous awards and her vision is evident in our social media strategy. This latest credential reflects her commitment to continuous improvement on a personal and professional level, and I am very proud of her accomplishment."

How the military practices public affairs has come a long way in the last 20 years, Guthrie explained. "When I joined it was about press conferences, press releases and pretty pictures," she said. "Now it's about the important role communications plays in military operations from planning through execution."

Guthrie has more than 20 years of public affairs experience acquired as a Department of the Army civilian public affairs specialist and a Soldier serving the National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve and the Army - not only in Wisconsin, but throughout the world. She is also an adjunct instructor in the communications department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and commands the Monroe-based 64th Rear Operations Center.

"I decided to pursue this Accreditation to better myself, increase my ability to contribute to the Wisconsin National Guard's mission and goals, and to encourage my peers to do the same," she said. "Over the past 10 years especially, we [public affairs practitioners] have demonstrated how we contribute to overall mission success. To keep a seat at the table it's essential that we remain relevant, and some of that comes from continued education such as that offered through the APR process."

Guthrie is a graduate of Beaver Dam High School, has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a Master's in Public Administration from Webster University, St. Louis, Mo. Her military education includes Adjutant General Officer Basic Course, the Defense Information School's Public Affairs Officer Course, Adjutant General Officer Advanced Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School and U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website, Accredited in Public Relations (APR) is the voluntary certification program created in 1964 for public relations professionals to unify and advance the profession by identifying those who have demonstrated mastery of a body of knowledge as well as recognition of experience and professional judgment in the public relations field. The international certification process is governed by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), of which PRSA is a lead participant.

In May 2010 the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Public Affairs Support Element (JPASE), UAB and PRSA partnered to develop the APR+M credentialing in an effort to provide public affairs and communication certification for military, contractor, and Department of Defense public communication professionals.

"It's not just an expansion of the Accreditation program, but an expansion really directed at military members," said Barbara Burfeind, APR+M council member and chair of Guthrie's readiness review panel. She also stressed that Accreditation not a one-time thing, but requires continuous professional development to maintain the credential.

In addition to completing the readiness review and exam, APR+M candidates must also be a member of the military (active or reserve) or a Department of Defense civilian employee whose primary responsibilities lie in military communication-related fields, or a DoD military contractor and member of a UAB participating organization and whose primary responsibilities lie in military communication-related fields.

"Anyone can say they are a public relations practitioner," Burfeind said. "We're not required to be licensed - however, this [APR] sets the standard or the bar, and the bar is pretty high."

2012 Sea Air Space Expo Continues

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

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) -- The second day of the 2012 Sea-Air-Space Exposition, held at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center April 17, focused on today's technology and the future of the Navy.

Numerous panel, floor speaker and roundtable sessions took place covering these topics. During the Sea-Air-Space Luncheon keynote speaker Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert talked about these topics as well as the Tenets.

Several classes of Navy vessels were discussed at the expo including the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). According to the LCS program manager, LCS is a critical part of the Surface Force's ability to provide credible capability for deterrence, sea control, and power projection around the world. It is a fast, agile, networked surface combatant designed to operate in the near-shore environment but still capable of open-ocean tasking.

"Littoral combat ships brings tremendous capabilities to our Navy, they allows us to deploy ships, to exercise with our neighbors, and increase our engagement and our presence," said Capt. John Neagley, program manager, Littoral Combat Ship. "They address three specific capabilities and gaps: mine warfare, surface warfare, and anti-submarine warfare."

Another type of Navy vessel discussed was the Virginia-class submarine - designed for multi-mission operations in the littorals while still retaining what the prgram executive officer describes as the submarine force's strength in traditional open-ocean, anti-submarine, and anti-surface missions.

"The Virginia-class submarine is the replacement for the Los Angeles-class submarine and it will be the work horse for the fast attack fleet for years to come," said Rear Adm. (sel.) Michael Jabaley, program manager for Virginia-class submarines, Program Executive Officer Subs. "We've so far delivered eight to the Navy out of a total program of 30 submarines, they're performing wonderfully in the fleet and will continue to do so for decades to come."

Also discussed at the expo was the new class of aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford-class carrier, the first new class of aircraft carriers in almost 40 years. They are nearly identical in size to the Nimitz-class carriers, but are designed with upgraded hulls, mechanical, electrical, and electronics capabilities.

"The Gerald R. Ford-class carrier is the Navy's next generation of aircraft carriers," said Capt. Chris Meyer, program manager, Future Aircraft Carriers Program for Naval Sea Systems Command. "It builds on a legacy of U.S. aircraft carrier capability; it provides improved capability for the future with reduced total ownership costs and reduced crew size. We are able to have more capability with less ownership costs."

The Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition includes three days of seminars and demonstrations highlighting the latest maritime-related technologies and solutions. The symposium provides an excellent opportunity for Navy policy and operational leadership to interact with industry representatives to discuss and debate common interests and concerns.

"We are the nation's first responders, there is no doubt about that, we deter, we assure access, and we protect security, and we're there to protect prosperity," said Greenert. "This, and our future role, led me to three tenets. Warfighting has to be first. We have to be confident, we have to be proficient at what we're doing and we have to be relevant. Number two, we have to operate forward. That's where we're most effective and that's where we've always been most effective in our Navy. Number three, we have to be ready for today's challenges today."

Dempsey Says TAPS Represents Best of America

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors signifies all that is good about America, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here last night.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said TAPS allows Americans to show their love and appreciation for the sacrifices military families make.

“We try, but we find ourselves inadequate to thank you for what you do,” Dempsey said to the black-tie audience at the nonprofit organization’s annual gala.

Bonnie Carroll founded the organization in 1994 after her soldier husband and seven others were killed in a plane crash in Alaska. TAPS provides short- and long-term assistance to the families of military members who die.

The group looks to aid grieving family members. It holds “Good Grief” camps at many installations. The organization stresses long-term, peer-based support. It also helps with crisis response and intervention, casualty casework assistance and grief and trauma resources and information.

“This is an organization of a bunch of ordinary Americans and patriots, but they are extraordinary people,” Dempsey said. “It’s about living up to the bond of trust that we all feel -- and we should feel it, not just talk about it.”

Dempsey said his aide, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Wisecup, told him on the way to the gala that people join the military for many reasons, but the decision to stay in the military comes along the way. “Generally, we decide to stay in the military because we recognize that if something happens to us, there will be others like us to rally around us,” Dempsey said.

It’s not only men and women in uniform who rally around service members, the chairman said, but it’s also members of Congress and regular Americans, “if we give them the chance.”

“And TAPS does that,” he added.

Dempsey told the audience about the inscription on a statue in the Antietam National Battlefield Cemetery. There were more than 23,000 American casualties at the Maryland battlefield on Sept. 17, 1862. The statue depicts a Union Army private, and the inscription says, “Not for themselves, but for their country.”

TAPS has taken that sentiment aboard as well, but paraphrased it to “not for themselves, but for their families,” Dempsey said. “Bonnie, and those of you associated with TAPS, I hope you feel as proud of what you do as we are of you.”

The TAPS Honor Guard Gala raises funds to support the organization’s programs, including peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, case work assistance and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the armed forces.

TAPS recognized Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Corps commandant, with the organization’s Military Award. It also recognized U.S. Rep. Norman Dicks of Washington state with its Congressional Award.

Erin Gallagher received the Sen. Ted Stevens Leadership Award from the organization. Gallagher, 18, lost her father, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James Gallagher, to suicide in 2006. She has delivered speeches addressing suicide in the military, spoken with the media and supported other children and teens through TAPS who are grieving the death of a loved one who served in the military. Begun last year, the Stevens Award recognizes a surviving military family member who has reached out to help others.

Face of Defense: Airman Takes Weather Award Twice

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens
Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Public Affairs

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti, April 18, 2012 – There's an old saying that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, but it did for one Air Force noncommissioned officer.

Tech. Sgt. Gregory Spiker, joint meteorology and oceanography operations weather forecaster, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, was named the 2011 Air Force Weather Noncommissioned Officer of the Year -- his second Air Force-wide weather award. His first one was the Air Force Battlefield Weather NCO of the Year for 2006.

Spiker's skill in the weather career field was obvious to his home-station supervisor, Air Force Capt. Drew Moore, 56th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight commander, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

"He's topnotch at what he does," Moore said of Spiker. "He's energetic, motivated and very involved with the fighter squadrons here and what we do on the weather side. He's positive, has a good attitude and is a stellar NCO."

Spiker deployed here in November 2011.

"Here we're responsible for forecasting for the entire area of interest for the combined joint task force," Spiker said. "Any mission that's a CJTF-HOA mission, we're going to forecast for it."

Spiker said he took an interest in weather and natural science at an early age. He first found out about the weather career field from his recruiter before joining the Air Force 10 years ago and he's been doing it ever since.

"I had always been a natural sciences kind of person and more of the 'outdoorsy' type," Spiker said. "I wanted to do something different, and it seemed like the Air Force offered the most unique opportunity for me, so it really worked out."

His first two deployments were to Iraq in 2006 and 2007 to provide tactical weather support for the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Spiker said his service in a deployed environment contributed to him earning his first Air Force weather award and also played a part in his receiving the 2011 award.

One of his main responsibilities here includes setting up and maintaining tactical weather equipment used for collecting atmospheric data in the CJTF-HOA area of interest, Spiker said. His job takes him to other sites in Djibouti and several countries in and around the Horn of Africa in support of the CJTF-HOA mission.

Spiker is a “tremendous asset” and deserves the recognition, said his supervisor, Navy Cmdr. Douglas Wahl.

"He is proactive and one of the most-knowledgeable Air Force technicians and forecasters I've worked with,” Wahl said of Spiker. “It's obvious he takes great pride in his job and this award truly reflects the quality of his workmanship."

Even though Spiker was excited about winning the award, he said he knew his career field was more than just a one-man job -- it is a team effort. He praised the airmen in his shop at Luke AFB and the joint personnel he works with here for their excellent performance.

"I work with the most awesome people I've ever worked with in my career right now. They're all such hard workers," Spiker said. "I've always been lucky to be able to work alongside such great people.”

USO Celebrities Visit Joint Operations Center

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

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 18, 2012 – The tables turned today as the USO's spring tour celebrities got a taste of combined military operations during a visit to a joint operations center here.

Navy Vice Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is serving as military host for the tour for comedian and actor Anthony Anderson; retired Major League Baseball pitcher Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson; actor Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna; actor and pitchman Dennis Haysbert; Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders Allyson Traylor, Brittany Evans and Kelsi Reich; and former “American Idol” contestants Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young.

The celebrities toured U.S. Air Forces Central's Combined Air and Space Operations Center. The CAOC is responsible for command and control of all air operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, said Air Force Col. Dave Iverson, 609th Air and Space Operations Center commander, providing 24/7 air coverage and conducting counterterrorism operations 365 days a year.

The CAOC is a joint and coalition team, staffed by the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and coalition partners since becoming fully operational on Feb. 18, 2003.

“We work with Canadians, Australians, the British and our other coalition partners in addition to every branch of service,” Iverson noted.

Serving as host for the USO celebrities’ tour of the facility, Iverson explained the CAOC’s mission and operational capabilities.

A majority of the CAOC's operations occur in Afghanistan’s southern and eastern border regions, Iverson said. Troops in enemy contact can have air support in seven to eight minutes, he added.

Air mobility is another major mission, whether it’s moving cargo or airdropping supplies for special operations forces, who often are in locations difficult to get to by road or with no airfields nearby, Iverson said.

Other CAOC functional areas include cells for personnel recovery, offensive and defensive operations and space, he explained.

Following the short tour and photo opportunities with the service members in the CAOC, some of the celebrities shared their thoughts of the tour.

“I felt like a third-grader trapped on a school tour,” Anderson joked. “But I understand why they can't have classified and top secret stuff on the screens while I'm in there. It was informative, and I understand [the privacy was] for national security reasons and whatnot. The center was what I pictured it to be -- minus the classified information that was going to be on the screen. I really wanted to see what was going on.”

After calling the tour an “amazing” experience, the comedian couldn’t resist another joke.

“I wanted to watch a Super Bowl or NBA Finals game on one of those [big] screens,” he said. “Overall, great experience just to see how an operation works like that from the inside out.”

The tour also showed him that Hollywood portrayals of military operations centers can be fairly accurate, he said. “[It was] definitely what I thought it would be from watching movies, being a part of movies in situations like that,” he said. “It was like, 'OK, what we've done on film is pretty accurate to what really goes on inside a command center like that.”

Johnson, who has been on multiple USO tours and visited other operations centers, was also impressed by the CAOC.

“It was obviously very intense to see the maps and big-screen videos and probably stuff that you can't talk about too much,” he said. “But I felt very privileged to be able to see the stuff behind the scenes. There's so much technology going on, and I just feel honored and privileged to be here, and hopefully, we encouraged and lightened up the moment and the day for some people.”