Saturday, April 28, 2012

U.S., Japan Agree on Okinawa Troop Relocation

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – U.S. and Japanese officials announced yesterday the two nations have agreed on a plan to relocate U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The joint statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee spells out unit moves, land and facilities on Okinawa the United States will return to the Japanese government, and the costs each government will pay for the relocation.

The joint statement is the latest result of negotiations between the two countries dating to the 2006 Realignment Roadmap and the 2009 Guam International Agreement. The two nations issued a joint defense posture statement in February that “delinked” the two agreements so parts of the relocation plan could move forward more quickly.

“I am very pleased that, after many years, we have reached this important agreement and plan of action,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a statement yesterday. He praised Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka for “spearheading discussions” leading to the joint statement.

“We will work closely with our partners in the Japanese Self Defense Force to implement these decisions and to further improve this vital alliance of ours,” the secretary added.

Panetta said he looks forward to strengthening the two nations’ partnership “as, together, we address security challenges in the region.”

During a Pentagon background briefing to reporters yesterday, senior State and Defense Department officials outlined the agreement.

About 9,000 Marines will relocate from Okinawa, with about 5,000 moving to Guam and the rest transferring to other locations in the Pacific such as Hawaii and Australia, the defense official said.

The Marines will be organized in air-ground task forces, which combine command, ground, air and logistics elements that can deploy and operate as a unit.

“This new posture that we've created results in a more operationally effective presence across the region,” the defense official said.

“In the end, we are sustaining the same presence in the Western Pacific that we've intended for some time,” the official added.

About 10,000 Marines will remain on Okinawa when the relocation is complete, the official said.

The agreement also sets Japan’s funding for the move to Guam at $3.1 billion of the overall $8.6 billion estimated cost, the defense official added.

“We're particularly appreciative of this commitment in the context of Japan's fiscal challenges, which we fully recognize,” the official added.

One element of the agreement involves possible development of joint training ranges in Guam and the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as shared-use facilities for U.S. and Japanese forces, the official said.

The State Department official said the plan will result in a stronger, more sustainable and more flexible alliance.

“This is really a key component of our strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region,” the official said. “As you know, one of the key aspects of that is strengthening partnerships with regional allies, and of course Japan is a very important alliance partner.”

The official said the agreement reaffirms both nations’ commitment to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now in the center of Okinawa’s Ginowan City, to a more remote area of the island. Until the Futenma relocation happens, both governments will share the cost of maintaining the existing facility, the official added.

The Japanese government will determine the timeline for the Futenma move, the State Department official said, noting the U.S. focus for Okinawa is sustaining an operationally effective Marine Corps presence there.

The defense official said U.S. representatives are “delighted” at the agreement.

“We think it's a significant achievement that demonstrates that the U.S.-Japan alliance is still capable of big things,” the official said.

Kids Rule NSF Arlington During 'Bring Your Child to Work Day'

By Ensign Amber Lynn Daniel, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Naval Support Facility Arlington opened its doors to more than 25 four- to 12-year olds April 26 during the nationwide "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" event.

The Chief of Naval Personnel staff has hosted their annual "Bring Your Child to Work Day" for three consecutive years.

The staff joined organizations and workplaces across the nation in educating and transforming the lives of millions of young girls and boys through interactive tours and face-to-face engagement.

"The 'Bring Your Child to Work Day' program provides a unique opportunity to create an enriching educational experience for our nation's youth," stated Chief Operations Specialist Jessica Myers, one of the lead coordinators of the event. "The program is designed to be more than just another career day. Children do not simply 'shadow' an adult in the workplace; instead we expose children to the important work their parent or mentor in their life does during the work day and put it in a context they can understand."

Each year, the Chief of Naval Personnel staff creates a new, interactive environment to help young girls and boys envision the future they dream of while learning the basics of what their parents and mentors do behind the fence of Naval Support Facility Arlington.

"As children toured the facility, each representative discussed the purpose of their particular office space to the Navy and provided a brief description of the staff's job duties and educational backgrounds," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Petty Officer (SW/AW) Yulonda James.

This year's program included a tour through the uniform matters office where children were shown uniforms currently being assessed for future Navy use. They also toured the language regional expertise and culture office where they received a printed sheet with their name written in other languages. They were also treated to special handouts, coloring books, and treats during their tour around Naval Support Facility Arlington.

Many of Naval Support Facility Arlington's most senior officers were on hand to share their advice and experiences as well.

"I liked the uniforms and when Admiral Herb talked to us and told us about how they take care of Sailors in Afghanistan," said Maize Booker, age nine, son of Lt. Cmdr. DeWuan Booker. Maize's brother, Malachi, enjoyed an extra special opportunity at the end of the days' events - cupcakes in honor of his sixth birthday.

The Chief of Naval Personnel "Bring Your Child to Work" program continues to be a popular event with parents serving at Naval Support Facility Arlington, giving them the added bonus of showing their children the value of an education and career in the Navy. Each tour representative was also asked to emphasize how the role of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is used in their office space. The tour allowed students the unique opportunity to interact with Navy service members and gain insight into how education will play a significant part in their future.

"The children were laughing and were very engaged, being very inquisitive. They seemed to really enjoy the day's activities and getting to know more about what it is that their parents do for the Navy," said James.

April is the Month of the Military Child. It was established in 1986 by Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger as a way to honor military kids for their sacrifices and courage. Since its establishment, military installations, organizations and communities have created special events to pay tribute to these little military heroes. The coordinators of the Naval Support Facility Arlington made a special effort to center the day's themes on the "military child," highlighting how they each play a special role in contributing to the Navy's mission with the direct support they provide to their service member on the homefront.

"By bringing girls and boys together, we continue to create a more equitable world-at home, at school, in the workplace, and in the community," said Myers. "It is events like these that show both the kids and the Sailors the importance of the next generation and how important they are to our success."

For more information about Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day, visit

Fleet Week Sailors Get Fired Up at DC Olympics

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Andrew M. Rivard, USS Wasp Public Affairs

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Gettysburg (CG 64), USS San Jacinto (CG 56), USS Dewert (FFG 45), USS Dallas (SSN 700), and the USCGC Bernard C. Webber (WPC 1101) participated in a Damage Control Olympics April 26.

The event was hosted by the Resolve Maritime Academy while Wasp is in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as part of Fleet Week Port Everglades whic this year commemorates the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Approximately 40 damage control personnel from the Navy and the Coast Guard spent eight hours conducting various events, such as pipe-patching and P-100 firefighting, to determine which of the six Fleet Week ships was best at fighting ship-board fires.

"All in all, I'd say this event was a huge success", said Cmdr. Richard Sessoms, Wasp's damage control assistant. "Being able to get all the DC teams out to have some fun while getting training on different shipboard firefighting perspectives is a chance we just can't pass up."

While the Sailors participated in their events, a number of organizations came out to help show their support for the U.S. Armed Forces. Breakfast and lunch, energy drinks, smoothies, and live entertainment were provided for all military members in attendance.

"We've been doing this for the past 12 years and it just keeps getting better," said Cliff Charlock, manager of the Resolve Maritime Academy. "Our DC Olympics is a lot of fun and it helps to build camaraderie throughout the Navy."

Over the course of the entire event Sailors from every ship joined together to not only have fun but to also learn new things and take away fond memories from this experience.

"I love damage control so this event turned out to be a blast", said Hull Technician Fireman Eric Greenwald. "Each ship got to show their potential, and I will remember this time for the rest of my career."

Following the event, all of the workers at the Resolve Maritime Academy came out to present plaques to not only the top three ships, but also to give out honorable
mention plaques to the ships that did not place in the event.

The top three ships were:

1st Place - USS San Jacinto
2nd Place - USS DeWert
3rd Place - USS Gettysburg

"Though we could have done better during this event," said Sessoms, "I believe everyone not only had fun, but also took away a great deal of knowledge, and that's all that really matters."

The Sailors will be in Fort Lauderdale from April 25-29 celebrating Fleet Week and during that time will participate in a wide range of events including a variety of receptions, community relations projects and inter-ship competitions.