Military News

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Chairman Praises ‘Heroes of Military Medicine’


By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2012 – The network of people, government and private organizations that tends to America’s wounded, injured and ill service members has achieved results over the last decade that are “absolutely remarkable,” the nation’s top military officer told an audience here yesterday.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke last night at a “Heroes of Military Medicine” event hosted by the Center for Public-Private Partnerships at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.

“I do find heroes and military medicine to be a little redundant, actually. … Every time we think they can’t do more for us, they step up and find it,” the general said.

Earlier this week, Dempsey noted, he attended the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. The games, which continue through May 5, are a series of Olympic-style events in which wounded, ill and injured service members of all services, along with veterans, compete in archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball.

The Warrior Games, created in 2010, are a combined effort of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Defense Department. The games are notable because of the courage of the competitors, who Dempsey said are “young men and women putting ability over disability.”

The chairman said attending both the games and the “heroes of medicine” gathering in the same week highlighted for him the connection between today’s service members, who survive combat injuries at rates never before seen, and the medical establishment that makes their survival possible.

“What I want you to know tonight is how much we, who wear the uniform today, appreciate what everyone is doing to pull together in the common cause of making sure that the young men and women who put themselves in harm’s way are cared for,” Dempsey said.

Stavridis: Europe Remains Vital to Current, Future Security


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2012 – U.S. European Command, along with NATO allies and other close partnerships in Europe, remains critical to the United States, even as it implements new defense strategic guidance focused on challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, the Eucom and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said.

“Let’s face it: our most enduring pool of partners exists in the European theater,” Stavridis said during a recent interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

He noted the strength of the 28-member NATO alliance, a 3 million-strong force with 24,000 aircraft and 800 ships. In addition, the allies have a $31 trillion collective gross national product, about $300 billion of which is devoted to defense budgets.

“This is an alliance of enormous resources, and it represents those that stand with us today in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in the Libya operation and in [counterpiracy],” Stavridis said. “So these strategic, enduring partnerships in Europe are going to underpin the strategic focus on the challenges in Asia and in the Middle East.”

That demands even more focus on Europe and NATO, explained Navy Rear Adm. Mark C. Montgomery, Eucom’s deputy director for plans, policy and strategy. To address that risk elsewhere on the globe, he said, “we need to actually redouble our efforts to maintain our partners’ capability and capacity.”

Navy Vice Adm. Charles W. Martoglio, Stavridis’ former chief of staff and now deputy commander, called the U.S. military “the glue that enables NATO to operate at the high level of efficiency that it does.”

The U.S. military presence in Europe offers assurance to allies while helping them maintain the stability and economic foundation that helps create security, he explained. “So it is a win on the U.S. side, and it is a win on the European side,” he said.

But beyond the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance, Stavridis noted Europe’s strategic geographic position. Forces easily can pivot from Europe into the Middle East, the Levant area at the crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeastern Africa, the Mediterranean as during the Libya operations, and down into Africa, he said.

The alliance also is postured to address security challenges, such as violent extremist organizations, directly on the European continent. “While [terrorists] have been active in Europe and there have been acts of terrorism in Europe over the last 10 years, Europe has been used primarily as a recruiting and financial center for terror activities,” Martoglio said. “But that can change quickly, should it ever get into the interests of violent extremist organizations to carry out large-scale attacks in Europe.”

Ultimately, Martoglio said, Eucom’s forward presence makes the United States more secure. “We are a nation that has an expeditionary capability. We fight our wars overseas so we don’t fight them on our own shores,” he said. “And Europe and our European partners are huge enablers of that expeditionary military capability.”

Stavridis said maintaining U.S. forces in Europe enhances their ability to build that capability in partnership with NATO allies and other coalition partners.

“Being in Europe gives us the opportunity to train, exercise and work every day with this combat-ready force that has fought with us in Afghanistan, the Balkans, in [counterpiracy] and other missions,” he said. “So there are a lot of good reasons for us to be engaged and ‘home-ported,’ as we would say in the Navy, in Europe.”

The new force posture in Europe, with a 15-percent troop reduction to be offset partially with increased ship, aircraft and special operations capabilities, ensures the proper force number and configuration to support the new strategy guidance, he said.

As it is implemented, Stavridis offered assurance that forces assigned to Eucom will stay actively engaged in vital real-world missions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“We will continue to have an important and enduring mission in the European theater for many years to come,” he said.

Navy to Christen USNS Cesar Chavez


The Navy will christen and launch the dry cargo/ammunition ship the USNS Cesar Chavez, Saturday, May 5, 2012, during a 7:30 p.m. PDT ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.  The ship is named to honor prominent civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who served in the Navy during World War II.

Juan M. Garcia III, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address.  Serving as the ship’s sponsor is Helen Fabela Chavez, widow of the ship’s namesake.  The ceremony will include the Navy’s time-honored tradition of the sponsor breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark class T-AKE tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy’s newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), who served in the Navy during World War II.  Chavez later went on to become a leader in the American Labor Movement and co-found the National Farm Workers Association, which became the United Farm Workers.

Designated T-AKE 14, Cesar Chavez is the final of the Lewis and Clark dry cargo/ammunition ships, all of which will be operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.  To help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other supplies to U.S. and allied ships at sea, T-AKEs are serving as combat logistics force (CLF) ships.  In support of the enhanced maritime prepositioning ship squadron concept of operations, two T-AKEs are being allocated to the maritime prepositioning squadrons to provide sea-based logistics support to Marine Corps units afloat and ashore.

As part of MSC, T-AKE 14 is designated as a united states naval ship and will be crewed by civil service mariners.  This is the first Navy ship named after Chavez.  For CLF missions, the T-AKEs’ crews include a small department of sailors.

Like the other dry cargo/ammunition ships, T-AKE 14 is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and their crews.  The ship is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, has a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system.

Additional information about the T-AKE class of ship is available on line at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4400&tid=500&ct=4 .

Civilian Leaders See Firsthand How Sailors, Marines are Trained for Success


By Steve Vanderwerff, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) hosted 39 civilian leaders of the Secretary of Defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC) for a tour April 27, highlighting how the Navy trains Sailors and Marines to become aircraft mechanics and technicians.

Rear Adm. Don Quinn, commander, Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), accompanied the group during their tour of NATTC.

"As always, our young Sailors and Marines at the Naval Air Technical Training Center stole the show. They impressed these civilian leaders from the start, and showed them why our training is our asymmetric advantage. The combination of superb people and leading-edge training gives our maritime forces the capability to respond quickly to crises and win in combat," said Quinn. "The technical expertise gained, combined with developed critical thinking skills, gives our Sailors and Marines the ability to defeat known threats, and deal with those that are unexpected. While at the training center, JCOC visitors experienced firsthand the training that goes into preparing our newest Sailors, enabling them to fulfill their role in defending our nation.

"At NATTC and throughout the NETC domain, we use blended learning solutions which combine instructor-led classes, hands-on labs, simulation, interactive courseware, and computer-based training to give our graduates the tools they need to succeed."

The JCOC program is sponsored by the Secretary of Defense to provide civilian public opinion leaders greater knowledge of the military and national defense issues. JCOC is the oldest existing Department of Defense outreach program, having been held more than 80 times since its inception in 1948. The group visiting NATTC included leadership from various universities, county and city elected officials from several communities across the nation, as well as national and regional civic leaders, and representatives from professional athletic teams, and various news and entertainment media.

"What we hope is that the members of the JCOC will learn more about the Department of Defense," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs for Community and Public Outreach René Bardorf. "Each day we've visited individual branches of the military. We want to educate them about the uniqueness of the human side of each of the services. We'll show them the capabilities, but we want them to return to their communities and be empowered to take action to help our service members as they re-integrate after a decade of war, back into their communities. We hope the experience will then cause them to take action to help us to transition our service members into employment opportunities, education opportunities and improve their wellness over the time their back in their communities, and for the rest of their lives."

While at NATTC, the group was shown how air traffic controllers are taught to safely direct incoming and outgoing aircraft at both shore facilities and aboard ships. A portion of the tour included how Sailors are taught electro-hydraulics in the Aviation Electrician's Mate A-School, as part of the maintenance and repair aircraft.

They also saw how students are taught to maintain and build aviation ordnance, including bombs and missiles. They wrapped up their tour with a visit to the learning center's aircraft engine lab, where Sailors are taught how to maintain and repair fixed-wing and rotary aircraft engines.

When they return to their communities, JCOC group members are encouraged to share their knowledge within their spheres of influence.

"As president of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, part of my job is to not only meet other people around the country and those we have business connections with, but to also recognize and realize the impact the military has on our economy, which we recently did a study on," said Fred Morgan, president and chief executive officer, State Chamber of Oklahoma. "Being a part of the JCOC and seeing the military in the real world allows me to put it into context, which is very important to me and my organization."

Morgan says he was very impressed by the training that the Sailors receive at NATTC and the skills they have to support the Maritime Strategy.

"We went to a very modern computer training lab, and I wish all schools were using that type of system in our public schools," said Morgan. "I was amazed by the level of education and the quality of these young Sailors. It gives you hope in this generation of young adults."

NATTC graduates approximately 15,000 Navy and Marine students each year. The largest part of this student body is comprised of enlisted personnel attending "A" schools designed to provide them with the knowledge and skill levels required to perform as technicians at the apprentice level.

Advanced schools provide higher level technical knowledge for senior petty officers, and specialty schools offer specific skills not particular to any one rating, such as airman apprentice training, maintenance, personal financial management and shipboard aircraft firefighting. NATTC also conducts technical training for officers in aviation fuels, carrier air traffic control center operations, aircraft launch and recovery equipment, shipboard aircraft fire fighting and amphibious air traffic control center operations.

"It's important that the people who are part of JCOC have a better understanding of how we develop the youth of our nation and the payback the youth get from their time in service," said Capt. Terry Burt, commanding officer, Center for Naval Air Technical Training Center. "The feedback I got from group members was that it rounded out their experience. They were able to see a variety of operational type training over the last few days and were impressed by the various levels of training, from initial boot camp to taking them to the next step which is initial skills training, which is primarily what we do here in Pensacola before they go out to the operational units."

Hawaii Sailors Train to Combat Synthetic Drug Abuse


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 400 Hawaii-based Sailors gathered at Sharkey Theater on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam May 1 to learn more about the policies, programs and risks regarding the abuse of synthetic drugs.

Representatives from Commander Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH), Naval Health Clinic Hawaii (NHCH), Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) in Hawaii and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) all conducted training about synthetic drugs such as Spice and Bath Salts.

Spice, a synthetic drug, looks similar to marijuana, or oregano, and is used for its psychoactive and hallucinogenic effects. The Navy has a zero tolerance policy for drug abuse, including the use of designer and synthetic compounds such as Spice.

CNRH Command Master Chief Marc Sibal said he has seen 20 to 30 Spice-related cases in the Navy in Hawaii during his tenure as CMC.

"Spice is here," said Sibal. "We still need to get our arms wrapped around it. It is still a problem. The bad thing about Spice is nobody knows about the long-term side effects of Spice. Nobody has done any studies with them."

Sibal is part of Hawaii's Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board (AFBCD) that looks at several establishments which are suspected of carrying and selling illegal drugs. The AFDCB establishes guidance and off-limits areas to military personnel in Hawaii. 

"We all joined the Navy for different reasons, to get an education, to serve our country, to get stationed here or there, to make master chief, but not to smoke Spice and get kicked out of the Navy and to figure out what to tell your parents when you come home after one year in the Navy," said Sibal.

Lt. Cmdr. Daryl Sulit, a Navy Medical Corps officer assigned to NHCH, was at the training to talk about the medical effects of Spice. Sulit said that medicine knows the effect of marijuana over a long period of time. It has been used for centuries. Spice, on the other hand, is man-made and was introduced in the past decade.

"Spice is a designer drug made to mimic Marijuana," said Sulit. "If you look at the packaging, it looks very similar to marijuana and it is smoked like marijuana. We don't know if it will cause long-term brain damage, cancer, lung damage, or heart damage."

According to Navy Alchohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP), the chemical blends in synthetic drugs are continuously manipulated, and the strength of the synthetic chemical used is unknown. As a result, there is no way to know what a person is ingesting or what the long-term health risks are if used.

Sulit said that Spice not only affects the receptors in your brain, which induce hallucinogenic effects, it can also affect other organs such as the heart, kidney and digestive systems. Spice can take effect within 20 to 30 minutes, but can last for as long as 24 hours.

"Spice is so much more dangerous because it is a lot more potent than marijuana," said Sulit.

According the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Spice is five to 200 times more potent than THC in marijuana.

Sulit added that among the latest reports of the effects of spice are anxiety and panic attacks.

"It causes confusion delusion hallucination," said Sulit. "Spice can also cause depression, which could lead to suicide attempts, irritation and bizarre behaviors. It can also cause drowsiness and impaired cognition. It has been noted to cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, chest pain and increased heart rate."

NCIS Special Agent Steven Laskey was at the training to talk about the policies and programs involved to combat spice.

"This stuff is sold as incense," said Laskey. "It is sold as potpourri. It is marked as 'not for human consumption.' However, it is marked as 'not for human consumption' because it is supposed to attempt to defer and trick law enforcement. It was made purposely to use for human consumption, but labeling it not for consumption makes it legal. Up until 2011, it was perfectly legal. It was sold and advertised as a safe and alternative means for marijuana. Well, it is not remotely safe, and it is not legal as well."

In March 2012, the Navy announced that it has begun random testing of urine samples for synthetic chemical compounds like Spice. The Navy's capacity for testing for designer drugs will continue to expand. During fiscal year 2012, the Navy will invest $1.73 million to test for synthetic chemical compounds and expects to increase that amount to $2.9 million in fiscal year 2013.