Thursday, July 05, 2012

NAVCENT Commander Visits Lincoln Strike Group

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerine Lee, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command visited Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 ships in the Arabian Sea, July 4-5.

During the visit, Vice Adm. John W. Miller met with leadership from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9 and guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CSG 71).

He also toured the ships, served food during a steel beach picnic on Lincoln's flight deck, and spoke to Lincoln Sailors during an all-hands call in the ship's hangar bay.

Addressing the Lincoln crew at the all-hands call, Miller stressed the importance of the U.S. naval presence in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) and thanked the assembled crew for their actions supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) throughout the last several months while the ship has been deployed in the AOR.

"Lincoln is phenomenal with their reactions," he said. "With 20-25 sorties a day, Lincoln is directly supporting troops on the ground, and I am proud of their hard work in this area of responsibility."

In celebration of Independence Day, Miller also thanked the crew for their professional work and dedication to the mission.

"As we think of our friends and family celebrating the holidays with their barbecues and fireworks, remember that we all honor your service," said Miller. "Your professionalism and patriotism sets the standard for everyone in the way to do business, and I show the strongest gratitude to everyone in the strike group."

CSG-9 is comprised of Lincoln, CVW 2, Cape St. George and DESRON 9. The strike group is in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and combat operations in support of OEF.

NATO to Strengthen Ability to Act with Global Partners

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2012 – NATO seeks to assume a more global perspective, play its part globally and strengthen its ability to act with partners around the globe, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in London yesterday.

In a speech at Chatham House, Rasmussen said forging closer links with partners in Asia, Africa and elsewhere is crucial to guaranteeing future security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

“Today we hold regular consultations with all our partners on security issues of common interest,” he said. “I would like to see those consultations become much more frequent, focused and substance driven.”

Rasmussen described the development of clusters of willing and able allies and partners ready to cooperate in specific areas. “I see these clusters being flexible enough to accommodate different groups of partners, yet focused enough to deliver concrete results,” he said, in areas such as training and education, emerging security challenges and “smart defense,” which is a NATO initiative based on allies and partners pooling and sharing capabilities, setting priorities and coordinating efforts.

Many partner countries participate in NATO’s military education, training and exercises on an ad-hoc basis, and Rasmussen called for a more structured approach and for the broadest possible range of national participation in such activities.

“From Afghanistan to the Balkans and last year over Libya, our partners have played a vital role in the operational outcome and the political legitimacy of our missions,” Rasmussen said.

“They have made NATO stronger and kept the world safer,” he added, “so it is as important for NATO to invest in strong partnerships as it is to invest in modern military hardware and in flexible forces.”

An example of such flexibility, the secretary general said, includes cooperation among special operations forces, the use of drones, and collaboration on cyber security issues.

Cooperation among special operations forces, Rasmussen said, offers considerable potential to learn more and do more, both for NATO and for its partners. “We must build on the lessons we learned together in action in Afghanistan so we can boost our ability to act together in the future,” he said.

Rasmussen said allies’ use of unmanned aircraft does not constitute a problem for NATO. “We actually try to promote the use of drones to improve gathering of information and intelligence, surveillance [and] reconnaissance.” In fact, he said, drones helped NATO to conduct what he called a “precision campaign in Libya” while minimizing civilian casualties and collateral damage.

Partners also could do more together to deal with emerging security challenges such as those in the cyber domain, the secretary general said.

“We are very focused on cybersecurity,” Rasmussen said, adding that NATO gives strength in cybersecurity its highest priority and has taken steps to strengthen its own systems.

“The latest statistics indicate that we are attacked 100 times a day, so you can imagine that there is a strong interest out there in what NATO is doing,” he noted. “We have to protect our systems more effectively, and we have taken a number of steps in that direction.”

NATO ally Estonia suffered weeks of cyber attacks in 2007, he noted.

“It's not just theory -- it's a reality,” Rasmussen said of the existence of cyber threats and of the necessity to develop methods to confront them. Toward that purpose, he said, NATO has established a center of excellence in Estonia’s capital of Tallinn that provides information and facilitates the sharing of experience and best practices.

“We have established a unit that can help allies that are cyber attacked if they don’t have the capacity themselves to counter such attacks,” he said. Confronting such threats successfully, Rasmussen added, demands a high degree of consultation, coordination and cooperation.

Along with expanding the range of issues in which NATO and its partners cooperate, Rasmussen said, the alliance also must expand the range of nations it engages, including China and India.

China, for example, is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is playing an increasingly important global role, he said.

“As an organization that is driven by the U.N. Charter of Principles, NATO needs to better understand China and define areas where we can work together to guarantee peace and stability,” Rasmussen added. “There are other important countries too, such as India, with whom we should increase our dialogue and seek opportunities for cooperation.”

But one partnership stands out above all the others, the secretary general said.

“The transatlantic bond lies at the very heart of NATO, [representing] our common belief in freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And it provides shared leadership between North America and Europe,” he said.

Rasmussen said some see the U.S. pivot to focus on the Asia-Pacific region as the end of this unique partnership. But they are wrong, he said.

“The security of America and Europe is indivisible,” Rasmussen said. “We are stronger and safer when we work together, and that is why NATO remains the indispensable alliance.”

Around this essential transatlantic bond, the secretary general said, NATO must strengthen its partnerships in Europe, with Russia and around the globe, “because in the 21st century, we are all connected whether we want it or not.”

A positive connection and continued engagement with partners, Rasmussen said, “is a cure for pessimism, a cause for optimism, and key for the security we all seek.”

Cooks from the Valley Grill Steaks for Lincoln Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kathleen L. Church, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) enjoyed fresh steaks complements of Cooks from the Valley during a steel beach picnic on the ship's flight deck, July 5.

The all-volunteer, California-based organization brought more than 4,500 Harris Ranch, 12-ounce New York center-cut steaks to Lincoln Sailors to show appreciation for their service and to help them celebrate Independence Day at sea.

"The Cooks from the Valley feel it is a privilege to feed the Sailors," said Donald Collins, one of the organization's volunteers. "It is a chance for us to come out and see all of the Sailors' hard work and reward them for their efforts."

The steaks were transported to the ship, where the volunteers, with help from Sailors, marinated and seasoned the meat in preparation for the event.

"Grilling the steaks is our way of giving back to the Sailors," said Jeff Peters, another volunteer with Cooks from the Valley. "We make sure to purchase a high quality of steak so each Sailor eats the quality food they deserve."

Celebrating the holiday one day after the Fourth of July, Sailors also spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying a variety of recreational events. They competed in a touch football game, raced remote control cars, hit golf balls off the fantail and listened to music.

"Not only did I get a chance to relax from work and see my friends, I got the chance to enjoy an absolutely amazing steak," said Airman Recruit Torri Wentz. "The cooks did a great job; the steak was the highlight of my day."

Cooks from the Valley volunteers also brought steaks to Sailors serving aboard guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) during a five-day visit to ships in the Arabian Sea.

Lincoln is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Nine, which is also comprised of embarked Carrier Air Wing Two, Cape St. George and Destroyer Squadron Nine. CSG-9 is in 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.

Airmen Missing from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of six servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, were recently identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Air Force Col. Joseph Christiano of Rochester, N.Y.; Col. Derrell B. Jeffords of Florence, S.C.; Lt. Col. Dennis L. Eilers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Chief Master Sgt. William K. Colwell of Glen Cove, N.Y.; Chief Master Sgt. Arden K. Hassenger of Lebanon, Ore.; and Chief Master Sgt. Larry C. Thornton of Idaho Falls, Idaho, will be buried as a group in a single casket representing the entire crew on July 9 in Arlington National Cemetery.  On Dec. 24, 1965, the crew was aboard an AC-47D aircraft nicknamed “Spooky” that failed to return from a combat strike mission in southern Laos.  After a “mayday” signal was sent, all contact was lost with the crew.  Following the crash, two days of search efforts for the aircraft and crew were unsuccessful.

In 1995, a joint United States-Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team investigated a crash in Savannakhet Province, Laos.  Local villagers recalled seeing a two-propeller aircraft, similar to an AC-47D, crash in December 1965.  A local man found aircraft wreckage in a nearby field while farming, and led the team to that location.  The team recovered small pieces of aircraft wreckage at that time and recommended further investigative visits.

Joint U.S.-L.P.D.R. investigation and recovery teams re-visited the site four times from 1999 to 2001.  They conducted additional interviews with locals, recovered military equipment, and began an excavation.  No human remains were recovered, so the excavation was suspended pending additional investigation.

In 2010, joint U.S.-L.P.D.R. recovery teams again excavated the crash site.  The team recovered human remains, personal items, and military equipment.  Three additional excavations in 2011 recovered additional human remains and evidence.

Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental records and circumstantial evidence in the identification of their remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at or call 703-699-1420.

Avoid Financial Stress While Deployed

By Corina Notyce, DCoE Strategic Communications

We’ve previously featured what you can do to prepare your finances before a deployment, but maintaining your financial health while deployed is just as important. Financial-related stress could eventually lead to debt, relationship challenges or psychological health concerns such as depression or substance misuse. So, use the following money management tips and resources highlighted in the Real Warriors Campaign’s article, “Managing Financial Challenges During Deployment,” to help you balance the demands of deployment with financial obligations.

Follow your financial management plan
Before you left, you and your family may have created a financial plan to follow while you’re away. If not, you can still create a spending plan to help you save money for emergencies or pay off credit cards and other debt. If you exceed your monthly budget, get back on track as soon as possible. To help recover from overspending, try these tips:

■Re-evaluate your original spending plan and identify the reason or reasons for exceeding it. By determining the cause for overspending, you can help your family recover and prevent it in the future.
■Develop a new spending plan and be sure to account for any debt incurred from overspending.
■Download “Getting out of Debt, A Step by Step Guide” from Military OneSource for more information on recovering from debt.

For one-on-one assistance with budgeting, contact your installation’s Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP). PFMP counselors can help you readjust your budget, develop a repayment plan to eliminate debt and contact creditors to coordinate a repayment strategy. To contact a counselor on base, visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS database.

Track your bill payments
You may have set up automatic bill payments or asked your spouse, a family member or other trusted individual to serve as your financial overseer and manage your bill payments. Nonetheless, you should also login to your automatic bill pay or check in with your financial overseer to confirm your bills are paid on time and in full each month. To help you monitor bill payments, keep an ongoing checklist of your bills and track when payments clear.

Stay in touch
While deployed, communicate with your spouse or financial overseer about your finances. Communication about financial matters will help prevent financial stress and allow you and your spouse to stay in control of your financial health and future.

Seek help in financial emergencies
If you’re experiencing stress because of financial difficulties, nonprofit organizations exist for each service branch to assist with financial emergencies. You and your family may be eligible to receive debt help, money management advice and emergency financial assistance in the form of grants and interest-free loans through these organizations:

■Air Force Aid Society
■Army Emergency Relief
■Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
■Coast Guard Mutual Assistance