Thursday, May 10, 2012

Miss America Entertains Lincoln Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Miss America 2011 visited USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), May 7-9, and performed for thousands of Sailors while aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

While Teresa Scanlan has participated in many United Services Organization (USO)-sponsored events since being crowned Miss America in January 2011, the visit to Lincoln was her first to a deployed U.S. naval ship. She also visited Sailors on the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) for several hours, May 8.

"When I first walked on the ship, I was shocked and amazed at how big it was," Scanlan said. "I got to see some really cool things while on board, like going on the flight deck while flight operations were going on."

During her visit, Scanlan signed autographs, posed for photographs, ate lunch with crew members, learned about various jobs Sailors perform on the ship and accompanied the ship's band during a concert in the hangar bay. Scanlan and the band played various cover songs, including one song on the piano that she performed while competing in the Miss America pageant.

While on stage, Scanlan expressed her appreciation and thanked the Sailors for their service and for their sacrifices on behalf of their country.

"It may sound cliché, and I can't say it enough, but there are no words to express my gratitude," Scanlan said. "There's no way I can ever say 'thank you' enough. Our whole country-every American is saying 'thank you.'"

Scanlan, who will start college in August, said military service is something she has considered for her future. After law school, she said she might join the Navy to practice military law as a judge advocate general before eventually embarking on a civil law career.

Cape St. George and Lincoln are currently deployed with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, which also includes embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 and Destroyer Squadron 9, comprised of the guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104). CSG 9 is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and combat flight operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Officials Emphasize Commitment to Joint Strike Fighter

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Senior leaders from the Air Force and Navy affirmed yesterday that the F-35 joint strike fighter remains the centerpiece of the tactical aircraft program and will play a large part in the services’ ongoing modernization plans.

Navy Vice Adm. David J. Venlet, F-35 Lightning II program executive officer, told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland subcommittee that the F-35’s basic engine designs were deemed sound and deliverable after a battery of tests and observations over the past year.

“While there is still risk in the program, it is risk-balanced,” Venlet said. “I have confidence in the resilience of the plan to absorb further learning discovery and stay on track.”

Still, Venlet said, the program will “not execute itself,” and will require resources, tools and processes to enable disciplined decisions on development and incremental capability delivery.

Technical and cost issues exist, the admiral acknowledged, but he added that the joint strike fighter’s enhanced capability can be the backbone of fifth-generation fighters.

Carrier test pilots conducting approaches at Patuxent River, Md., have lauded the handling characteristics of the F-35’s aircraft carrier variant, he said, and short takeoff and vertical landing results have demonstrated solid performance.

“It is a testimony to the very effective and impressive marriage of engine and airframe,” Venlet said, adding that measures will stay in place to ensure the program’s long-term effectiveness. “Rigorous management control by the joint program office, supported by the service system commands, will be applied with a … focus on production and affordable delivery capability -- our only meaningful external result.”

Navy Vice Adm. W. Mark Skinner, principal military deputy in the office of the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said affordability will be a key focus in delivering capabilities.

“During these austere times, we must persist in modernizing and recapitalizing our naval aviation forces and increase our capability through force multipliers, such as the Navy Integrated Fire Control Counter-Air and using ‘should-cost/will-cost’ processes to bring more affordable systems to our warfighters,” Skinner said.

Lt. Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told the panel the fiscal 2013 budget aligns with the Air Force’s tactical aviation program as the service shifts its national security strategy to counter modern-day threats.

“Our rapidly aging aircraft fleet drives the urgent need to balance procurement of new inventory with sustainment of our current fleet,” Wolfenbarger said.

Dempsey Urges Ratification of Law of the Sea Convention

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention is the right thing to do for American national security, the U.S. military’s highest-ranking officer said here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Pew Charitable Trusts gathering on the treaty that he joins each chairman since the document was signed in 1994 to urge the Senate to ratify it.

Republican and Democratic administrations have both urged approval. And, Dempsey maintains, the treaty is good for American military rights.

“It codifies navigational rights and freedoms essential for our global mobility,” he said. “It helps sustain our combat forces in the field.”

The treaty also guarantees the right of innocent passage through foreign territorial seas, the right of transit passage through international straits and the right to exercise high seas freedoms in foreign exclusive economic zones — all without permission or prior notice.

In addition, the treaty also affirms the sovereign immunity of U.S. warships and other public vessels. “And it gives us the framework to counter excessive claims by states seeking to illegally restrict movement of vessels and aircraft,” Dempsey said. “These are all rights and capabilities that we want and that we need. In fact, they are of our own making. We negotiated them into the convention to advance our national security interests.”

The United States could, of course, not ratify the treaty and depend on the same strategy an infant republic used more than 200 years ago, the chairman said. “At that time, we commissioned the Navy’s first ships to safeguard our seaborne merchants against the Barbary pirates,” he said.

The force of arms should not be America’s only national security instrument, the chairman said, and the Law of the Sea Convention provides an additional way to navigate an increasingly complex international security environment.

“Ratification now represents an unprecedented opportunity,” the chairman said. “The convention offers an opportunity to exercise global security leadership.”

More than 160 nations are now a party to the convention. “Even so, the world looks to us for leadership,” he said. “We have the world’s largest and most capable navy, largest economy, and the largest exclusive economic zone. We will become the leader within the convention as soon as we enter it. And that’s never been more important.”

Dempsey said that on, over and under the oceans, nations are making competing claims or posturing themselves to restrict the movement of others, and these actions affect the United States, its allies and friends.

“As a party to the convention, we can help resolve conflicts, strengthen alliances and foster innovative partnerships,” he said. “We have never been better poised – or more welcomed – to lead a global security order benefiting all peaceful nations.”

The convention secures legitimate global freedom of access for the U.S. armed forces, Dempsey told the audience. “Today, we rely on customary international law and assert it through physical presence – warships and aircraft transiting and challenging illegal restrictions,” he said. “Some say this alone is sufficient.”

But this works against U.S. rights in that nations will continue to try and bend customary law to restrict movement on the ocean, he said, and it puts U.S. ships, subs, aircraft and personnel at risk to continually challenge these claims.

“We are strong enough for this role. We can and will continue to defend our interests, and we’ll do that with force when necessary,” Dempsey said. “But we can also be smart. We can leverage law to mitigate the need for physical assertion. Under the Law of the Sea Convention, we can be both strong and smart.”

Ratifying the convention also strengthens the U.S. position in Asia, the chairman said.

Finally, Dempsey said, joining the Law of the Sea Convention will strengthen America’s strategic position in Asia. “The Western Pacific is a mosaic of competing claims for territory and resources,” the chairman said. “This is a critical region where, as a Pacific nation, our security and economic prosperity are inextricably linked.”

The United States wants to mitigate any conflict in the Pacific, Dempsey said. “The convention gives us another tool to effectively resolve conflicts at every level,” he added. “It provides a common language, and therefore a better opportunity, to settle disputes with cooperation instead of cannon fire.”

Military Marriages Stay Strong despite Challenges

New Study finds military marriages are not more vulnerable to divorce

Los Angeles, CA (May 10, 2012) Despite the fact that military service means working long hours with unpredictable schedules, frequent relocations, and separations from loved ones due to deployment, a new study published in the Journal of Family Issues (a SAGE journal) finds that marriages of military members are not more vulnerable than civilian marriages.

According to the authors, members of the military are significantly more likely to be married, but are not more likely to be divorced than civilians with matched characteristic. Additionally, the risk of divorce among military marriages has not seen a real increase since the current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq began, though they have led to lengthy deployments overseas.

Researchers Benjamin R. Karney, David S. Loughran, and Michael S. Pollard analyzed records from 1998 to 2005 from the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, which collects data about the entire male population of active military members, and compared them to the Current Populations Surveys from the same years, which documents statistics about civilians. The researchers sought out to compare the marital and divorce status of military personnel and civilians in the years immediately before and after the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite the fact that more service members began to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, between the years of 2002 and 2005, the divorce rates for military remained constant, and did not exceed the divorce rates of civilian couples.

The researchers took measures to control for differences in age, race, education level, and employment. They found that not only were servicemen either equally or less likely to be divorced than comparable civilians, but that this disparity increased with older or retired servicemen.

The researchers explained, “A possible explanation for this pattern is that time spent in military service enhances the stability of military marriages.”

The researchers discussed the reasons for their findings, citing the extensive benefits provided to married military members such as housing supplements, cost of living bonuses, the ability to live off-base with their families, and full spousal health care coverage.

The article “Comparing Marital Status and Divorce Status in Civilian and Military Populations” in Journal of Family Issues, is available free for a limited time at


Journal of Family Issues (JFI), published monthly, provides up-to-date research, theory, and analyses on marriage and family life. With JFI, you'll also examine professional issues, research developments, and practical applications from an interdisciplinary perspective, encompassing such areas as: Family Studies, Family Violence, Gender Studies, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology. Each issue features articles, commentaries, and advocacy pieces designed to help you understand the challenges confronting today's families.

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Source: 2010 Journal Citation Reports® (Thomson Reuters, 2011)

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology, and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC.

Guatemala: Arkansas Air National Guard engineers build partnerships, medical facilities Courtesy Story

118th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

TACTIC, Guatemala  -- Airmen with the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Civil Engineering Squadron recently began constructing a key addition to a medical clinic in Tactic, Guatemala, as part of Beyond the Horizon 2012, a joint foreign military, humanitarian and civic assistance mission is led by U.S. Army South.

The 188th CES is currently in the middle of a three-team, six-week rotation and will spend most of its time constructing a 1,500 square foot structure at the Centro de Salud medical clinic that will function as a women's clinic and will include four exam rooms, one lab, three bathrooms, a maternity ward and a waiting room.

"We're extremely proud of our civil engineers and the great work they're doing in Guatemala," said Air Force Col. Mark Anderson, commander of the 188th Fighter Wing, the parent unit of the 188th CES. "Their professionalism, dedication and skill shows in everything they do. The construction they're accomplishing in Guatemala furnishes valuable training for our Airmen. It will also provide an important medical facility and function as a key community resource for many years to come."

The project greatly expands the medical capabilities of the clinic.

"We're doubling the size of the facility," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ites, site project manager and a member of the Missouri Army National Guard’s 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, who is overseeing the project. "It will give them the opportunity to see more people, which will also allow them to better focus their medical assets."

The Centro de Salud clinic has been open for more than 20 years but lack of space has hampered its ability to provide care for the local community.

"This will give them better opportunities to serve more people and expand their capabilities," said Master Sgt. Bob Haag, a heavy equipment operator with the 188th CES. "I'm humbled to have the opportunity to make the quality of life [in Tactic] better."

Hugo Hernandez, the clinic's director for the past eight months, said during his tenure the clinic has assumed a 24-hour operating schedule. Hernandez said the around-the-clock operation has led to a vast increase in patient admittances with numbers nearly tripling since 2009. He estimated that 25 percent of all Tactic citizens are now born at his clinic.

The clinic has struggled to keep up with the increasing number of patients, said Hernandez, who expressed his thanks for the U.S. support exhibited through the project.

"Last year, we only had three beds," Hernandez said. "To get this project done locally, especially this big and this quickly, would be very difficult."

Ites said the 188th CES will supply the bulk of the workforce and will be responsible for the majority of the site's progress.

And many in the unit are excited about the mission.

"This is a great opportunity to gain experience working with the people of Guatemala," said Senior Airman Lance Hobbs, a heavy equipment operator with the 188th CES.

The entire operation, which spans from April through July, will feature construction projects at two schools, construction of three medical clinics, establishment of a short-term veterinary aid station and establishment of several medical care points, each able to render aid to more than 500 Guatemalan civilians.