Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Northcom Continues Fire Suppression Efforts

From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., June 27, 2012 – Four Defense Department C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems and under the command and control of U.S. Northern Command are helping to put out fires in Colorado at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

As of early this morning, DOD aircraft had completed 23 airdrops at the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, dropping about 59,900 gallons of retardant on the blaze. Five airdrops had released about 13,200 gallons of retardant on the Flagstaff Fire near Boulder.

The supporting units are the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing, based here, and the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, flying out of Boise International Airport in Idaho.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

CNO Announces New Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kyle P. Malloy, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Jonathan Greenert, announced his selection of FLTCM (AW/NAC) Michael D. Stevens as the 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) at a Pentagon press conference June 27.

"I was extremely proud to have such a highly and fully qualified group of candidates," said Greenert. "After a thorough and deliberate process I selected FLTCM Stevens to be our Navy's senior enlisted leader and my advisor for dealing in matters with enlisted personnel and their families."

"I'm honored to have been selected as the 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy," said Stevens. "MCPON Rick West has certainly made a lasting and positive impact on our Navy. I look forward to continuing to provide the leadership and commitment that our Navy and our Sailors both deserve and expect."

Stevens has served as the fleet master chief at U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. since August 2010. His prior command master chief tours include U.S. 2nd Fleet, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, and Naval Air Station Pensacola. A native of Montana, Stevens joined the Navy in 1983. He will relieve MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West during a ceremony Sept. 28 at the Washington Navy Yard.

"Throughout my career, and every Sailor's career, we've had chief petty officers take care of and shape us," said Greenert. "Master Chief Stevens has the leadership and experience to keep us on course and on speed. I look forward to working closely with him."

Greenert also praised West who took the helm in December 2008, citing his outstanding leadership and lifetime of dedicated service.

"I'm proud of MCPON West and what he has accomplished during his watch. His extraordinary leadership and terrific connection to the fleet has contributed greatly to our warfighting readiness and the readiness of our families," said Greenert. "His example has been a daily reminder to Sailors to live our ethos and to remember the important role families play in our successes."

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy serves as an advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and to the Chief of Naval Personnel in matters of importance to enlisted personnel and their families. The MCPON is also an advisor to the many boards focused on enlisted personnel issues; is the enlisted representative of the Department of the Navy at special events; may be called upon to testify on enlisted personnel issues before Congress; and, maintains a liaison with enlisted spouse organizations.

Look Past the Headlines and See the Person

By Navy CAPT Paul S. Hammer, DCoE director

Today as we recognize National PTSD Awareness Day, let’s seize the opportunity to try and better understand PTSD and shed any pre-conceived notions we may have about those who live with PTSD (or any other mental illness). He or she could be anyone — your neighbor, a family member, a close friend, an employee, a colleague, or the person in front of you in line at the grocery store.

We have all read the media headlines surrounding PTSD over the last decade. “War damaged vet kills girlfriend; PTSD to blame?” “Soldier accused in firefight with police is prisoner to PTSD.” “Afghan Massacre: US Soldier ‘Snapped’ Lawyer Mulls PTSD Defense.” “Retirement might unleash PTSD symptoms in Vietnam veterans.” Headlines like these are not helpful. I think they actually contribute to promoting stigma because they call to mind dramatic images that generally aren’t true.

It’s important to recognize that not everyone who has been in combat or who has experienced a traumatic event will develop PTSD. In fact, the vast majority doesn’t develop PTSD, and even those with PTSD symptoms tend to get better with time. Those who do develop PTSD, or who do well in the short term and have symptoms arise later, shouldn’t be feared or viewed as ticking time bombs. They are people who are suffering, often quietly, and deserve help and support. They should never be pitied nor should they be marginalized or turned into a grotesque caricature or cartoon character.

We need to care for them just as we would for any other injury. The more awareness we can create concerning PTSD the easier it will be to help those coping with it and those who may be suffering in silence. This applies not only to those of us in the health care profession but to everyone in our communities.

There are numerous resources available to better understand PTSD. The National Center for Telehealth & Technology has developed a Virtual PTSD Experience where you can learn about combat-related PTSD symptoms, triggers and specific ways PTSD may impact a person’s life. Another good resource is DCoE’s Real Warriors Campaign that highlights service members, veterans and their families’ stories in their own words and how they have learned to cope with PTSD. The National Center for PTSD also has a section specifically designed for the public and health care providers to learn more about PTSD.

I would encourage everyone to check out these resources, share them with others and learn how to support your friends, family members and those in your community with PTSD. As a grateful nation, it’s our duty to try to better understand those who have sacrificed so much for so many and to honor them by not forgetting those sacrifices.

Africa Partnership Station Promotes Security Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, June 27, 2012 – An ongoing international effort to help African nations improve maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea represents one of U.S. Africa Command’s most successful programs while embodying the command’s core principles, Africom’s director of strategy, plans and programs reported.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles Hooper called Africa Partnership Station – an initiative that has grown over the past five years to include more than 30 African, European and North and South American countries – a model of international and interagency cooperation.

Participants are working together to develop capacity among countries along the Gulf of Guinea so they can control their territorial waters and crack down on illicit trafficking and other criminal activity.

And what happens at sea matters, not just for Africa, but for the entire world that depends on access to the global commons, Hooper said. He noted the direct link between maritime security, development, prosperity, stability and peace.

“In my mind, African Partnership Station embodies everything that is good and unique about Africa Command,” Hooper said. “Why is it so successful? It’s a unique program that allows us to train, teach and mentor, not only the armed forces of those nations in the Gulf of Guinea, but also some of their law enforcement forces.”

That, Hooper said, makes it “the perfect Africom program.”

“It involves the interagency team, engaging in teaching, coaching, mentoring and building the capacity of our African partners to solve their own problems,” he said.

This directly supports President Barack Obama’s Africa policy and the recognition that has guided Africom since its inception in 2008, he noted. “It is our African partners who are best equipped and best pointed to address African challenges,” Hooper said.

This year’s engagement, the largest yet, kicked off with its first port visit in February in Lagos, Nigeria, and continues through September. The guided missile frigate USS Simpson launched this year’s training program in Lagos, with the crew working with sailors and coast guardsmen from 12 African nations in the first leg of training events.

The high-speed vessel Swift began visiting Africa this spring. Later this summer, USS Fort McHenry will join the Africa Partnership Station mission.

Training events throughout the program, both ashore and at sea, are being tailored to help African maritime nations improve their own capabilities while strengthening their relationships with partner nations. This, officials said, promotes regional cooperation to address common threats, such as piracy and illicit trafficking, and in promoting energy and resource security.

“By working together, African navies and coast guards are able to bring maritime safety and security, which will help secure their future,” said Navy Chief Warrant Officer Eve McAnallen, the Africa Partnership Station training officer.

Commodore Andrew Dacosta, director of training for the Nigerian navy who helped to plan this year’s mission, said African Partnership Station underscores the importance of that effort. “APS has helped us realize the needs for collaboration, cooperation for the collective security of the maritime environment,” he said.

Gabonese Chief Petty Officer Pierre Mboulou welcomed the opportunity to participate in this year’s training.

“I really appreciate the APS program, because it helps us improve and meet our potential through different experiences,” he said. “I hope this program can be held every year and keep going to help African militaries.”

(The U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. 6th Fleet public affairs office contributed to this article.)

Carl Vinson Sailor Stops Attempted Suicide Atop Coronado Bay Bridge

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Nicolas Lopez, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- A USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailor helped prevent a suicide attempt on the Coronado Bay Bridge, June 19.

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 1st Class (AW/SW) David Lawrence, Air Department's V4 Division maintenance leading petty officer, first responded to a 60-year-old man's suicide attempt approximately 4 a.m. after pulling over to assist with what he thought would be a flat tire.

Lawrence, on his way to the gym before work, saw the car in front of him slow and pull to the side of the bridge near the bridge's apex.

"I saw he was an older guy and he didn't have his hazard [lights] on, so I didn't want him to get hit - and he was in a black Fiat and it was dark out," Lawrence said. "Most people going over the bridge at that time won't be paying attention; they're just trying to wake up."

However, Lawrence's decision to stop was rooted in his deeply held belief that one's actions have direct consequences, either positive or negative.

"I try to help anybody I can. What comes around goes around - I sincerely believe that," Lawrence said. "Somebody is returning the favors. My health is good. My family's health is all good. [So I take] any opportunity I get to help somebody."

As Lawrence asked the driver if he needed assistance, he watched as the man climbed over the concrete barrier and onto the bridge's ledge.

"I stopped right where I was at," Lawrence said. "I put my hands up where he could see them; I didn't want to make any hasty moves."

Lawrence immediately called upon the training he received while deployed in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) program. Lawrence said the information and intervention skills he learned from the two-day workshop helped him that morning.

"Just ACT: ask, care, treat," Lawrence said. "I didn't get to the 'treat' part; the FBI negotiators and cops got that. But I asked the guy."

Lawrence's actions also proved how important how the "care" aspect is as well. When asked by the police if he wanted to leave the scene, Lawrence declined.

"I told the cops that I was the first one talking to him," Lawrence said. "I don't know if this guy got abandoned by someone and so I didn't want him to see me get in my car and leave. So I stayed there the whole time."

For 15 to 20 minutes, Lawrence talked to the man, trying to prevent him from jumping while also flagging passing drivers to call for assistance. Aware of the magnitude of his choice of words, Lawrence said he talked about his experiences in the U.S. Navy.

"My thought was, 'Please don't jump. How am I going to keep this guy from jumping? What can I possibly say that will make him think it's not worth it?'" Lawrence said. "I just talked about everything I did and tried to let him see that there's positive stuff out there."

California Highway Patrol and San Diego Police Officers arrived approximately 20 minutes after Lawrence's initial communication with the man and assumed suicide prevention efforts. FBI agents, California Highway Patrol and San Diego Police Officers successfully talked the man off the ledge and took him into custody shortly before 7 a.m.

Before his morning was over, an FBI agent informed Lawrence the man wished to see him.

"He was just standing there with a jacket on, looked at me and said, 'Thanks,'" Lawrence said. "I said, 'Hey, man, you made the right choice. I'm glad to see you're on this side of the ledge. Have a good day and be safe.'"

Lawrence, a quiet and humble U.S. Navy Sailor, said he feels little difference since Tuesday morning, shrugging off any accolades given him.

"I'd do it again today, if I had to," Lawrence said. "People are saying I'm a hero and thanking me, but I'd like to think if I didn't do it, somebody would have stopped and did it."