Military News

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This Day in Naval History - July 18


From the Navy News Service

1775 - Continental Congress resolves that each colony provide armed vessels.
1779 - Commodore Abraham Whipple's squadron captures 11 prizes in largest prize value of Revolutionary War.
1792 - John Paul Jones dies in Paris, France.
1813 - U.S. Frigate President captures British Daphne, Eliza Swan, Alert and Lion.
1920 - Naval aircraft sink ex-German cruiser Frankfurt in target practice.
1943 - German submarine shoots down K-47, the first and only U.S. airship lost during WW II.
1947 - President Harry S. Truman delegates responsibility for the civil administration of former Japanese mandated island to the Secretary of the Navy.
1966 - Launch of Gemini 10 with Lt. Cmdr. John W. Young, as Command Pilot. Mission involved 43 orbits at an altitude of 412.2 nautical miles and lasted 2 days, 22 hours, and 46 minutes. Capsule was recovered by HS-3 helicopter from USS Guadalcanal (LPH 7).

War of 1812 Expert Delivers History Lecture at Pentagon


By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2012 – A Pentagon audience yesterday learned about the impact and legacy of the War of 1812 on the United States from a historian specializing in the conflict.

Christopher T. George, author of “Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay” and editor of the Journal of the War of 1812, spoke about the war’s early stages to a packed room in the Pentagon Conference Center. The event was part of a speaker series coordinated by the Historical Office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

More than 100 people, including military service members from U.S. and allied nations, along with Defense Department civilians and guests, listened as George delivered a lecture titled “The War of 1812: First Campaigns on Land and Sea.”

Speaking with a British accent resulting from a childhood spent in England before emigrating to the U.S. as a boy, George described the defeats suffered on land by American troops against their British and Native American foes, as well as the stunning successes of U.S. naval forces against the British navy, which was then the dominant naval force in the world.

Though time limitations prevented him from going into great detail, George sketched some of the more important events and leaders of that conflict, including U.S. Brig. Gen. William Hull surrendering Fort Detroit to British Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock and Brock’s later death during the Battle of Queenston Heights in what is now the province of Ontario, Canada.

British Navy Adm. Sir George Cockburn, whose troops burned Washington, D.C., and attacked Havre de Grace, Md., was another figure about which the historian talked, as well as U.S. 2nd Lt. John O’Neill, a hero of Havre de Grace who single-handedly manned what came to be known as the “Potato Battery” against the ransacking British.

But George didn’t just discuss U.S. and British military figures. He also talked about Tecumseh, a Native American leader of the Shawnee, who fought alongside the British against the Americans in the hope of creating an American Indian confederacy and stopping the westward expansion of European Americans, and about President James Madison and the impact his lack of military knowledge had on the war. In concluding his presentation, the historian noted that the war was an important milestone in the development of the United States.

“It was desperately hard work, but it was part of the growing up process for the new American nation,” he said. “It allowed American forces to stand toe to toe with a major nation, to gain a new respect in the world, for Americans to think of themselves at last as a nation, rather than a collection of states.”

Speaking with American Forces Press Service after the lecture, George expounded on that theme. “Previously, the nation saw itself as being just separate states in a federalized system, but here they managed to have a national identity,” he said. “The U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy had stood up to perhaps the preeminent military might in the world, and they managed to hold their own against the British without French help, which of course they had in the Revolution. So it was a whole new ball game, in a way.”

During the interview, George said he disagreed with those who use the term “the second war of American independence” to describe the conflict, as he said the British were clearly not interested in recapturing their colonies.  “The major British intent was to protect Canada,” he said. “By the end of the war, the U.S. Army and Navy had proved themselves and although it wasn’t an American victory overall, they had done themselves good credit.”

Though the war was essentially a stalemate, George says he sees it as “a big part of America’s expansion across the continent” and credits it with producing some important national symbols, such as the USS Constitution’s nickname, “Old Ironsides,” the Star Spangled Banner and the motto “Don’t give up the fight!”

“It’s sometimes said that the Americans think they’ve won the War of 1812, the Canadians know they won the War of 1812 and the British have forgotten all about it,” he said. “There’s something for each side to like about the war, some success that each of those three sides had.”

The biggest losers of the conflict, George pointed out, were the Native Americans. The possibility of realizing the dream of a nation of their own died along with Tecumseh and the dissolution of his confederacy.

Carter ‘Walking the Walk’ on Strategic Rebalance


By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, July 18, 2012 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter stood here today on the deck of the USS Missouri, the battleship that served as the site of the surrender that ended World War II, and summoned U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines gathered there to what he called “a new purpose in a new moment in our nation’s national security history.”

Carter visited Hawaii on the first leg of an Asia-Pacific regional tour that will take him to Guam, Japan, Thailand, India and South Korea. In Hawaii, home to U.S. Pacific Command, he told the roughly 150 service members in attendance that they will witness the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Pacific, while at the same time carrying on a long legacy of successful service in the region.

The USS Missouri’s teak deck the deputy secretary stood on is now part of a floating museum. The warship, the last Iowa-class battleship the U.S. launched and the last to serve, was anchored in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, when U.S and Japanese representatives signed the document marking Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.

“The folks who fought that war were about your age, or some of you are younger, and they were -- they were the greatest generation of that time,” the deputy defense secretary said.

Carter said his main points in speaking to the troops were to thank them for their service, and to explain why that service is important.

“You all are the greatest generation of this time,” he said. “And I want each and every one of you to go home tonight, to your family or your close friends, or call your parents or whoever is close to you, and say that today you were thanked by the leadership of the Department of Defense, and your country, for what you do.”

Everyone who works in national defense supports an effort greater than themselves, and greater even than the nation, Carter said, “because the United States still provides security to much of the world.”

The Asia-Pacific region shows the value of that security in its booming economies and enduring peace, he noted.

“It really starts with the principles that we [in the United States] stand up for, that we uphold, and that we have stood for in this part of the world for 70 years now,” Carter said.

The U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region has been constant and strong over those decades, he said, and is largely responsible for the region’s stability.

“In that environment of peace and security, first Japan was able to rise, then Korea was able to rise and now, yes, China [is] able to rise to develop their own people [and] to develop economically,” Carter said. “And that’s only possible in an environment of peace and security.“

Defense leaders “aim to continue to be the pivotal factor for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

Carter noted the rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, which is underway now off the coast of Hawaii and involves the U.S Navy and 21 other nations’ sea forces. He said RIMPAC is a model of the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy to further-strengthen partner nations’ military capabilities and build partnerships, alliances and friendships on which regional security and stability rests.

The deputy secretary noted that as President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta have outlined, the U.S. military’s focus will shift to the Asia-Pacific region as the last decade’s wars wind down.

The nation’s defense efforts have “understandably and justifiably” focused on Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, Carter noted. Battling terrorism and countering insurgency “are important things to do, and they’re important things to bring to an end,” he added.

The deputy secretary noted U.S. forces have concluded their mission in Iraq, and are within sight of ending combat in Afghanistan.

“We have a plan that is shared with all our coalition partners, to bring that down -- our activity in Afghanistan -- to an enduring presence starting in 2015,” he said.

Carter said by shifting to the Asia-Pacific resources that had been dedicated to Iraq and Afghanistan, the rebalance can succeed “within the constraints of the amount of money that the country is able to give us.”

President Obama and Panetta understand, he said, that as the era of Iraq and Afghanistan ends, “we need to lift our heads up out of the foxhole we’ve been in, look up, look around, and see what the problems … and the security opportunities … are, that will define our future.”

“Those challenges and those opportunities are, very importantly, in the Asia-Pacific region, which you now serve,” Carter told the troops. “So this is where our future lies, and you, right here, right now, are a very important part of … that great transition that this great military is embarked upon.”

Carter noted his visit to the region follows trips by the president, Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I’m out here in their wake, to show that when they talked about rebalancing our security effort to the Asia-Pacific theater, that we aren’t just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk,” he said.

The deputy secretary said on his week-plus travels, “I’ll be looking at our relationships with those countries and implicitly with all of the other countries in this area, and saying, ‘What is it that I need to go back to Washington and make sure we’re doing on our end to hold up our bargain with you?’”

Carter told the Pacom troops aboard the USS Missouri this is “a period, it’s a moment in history, that you should always, as you go forward in your lives and your careers, keep in your mind. This was an important moment to be here, to be doing what you’re doing.”

Earlier today, Carter met at Pacom headquarters with Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, Pacom commander, and senior representatives of the command’s Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps components, who briefed him on current and future operations implementing the rebalancing strategy.

The deputy secretary’s next stop is Guam, where he is scheduled to meet with Governor Eddie Baza Calvo and military leaders.

Panetta Lauds First International F-35 Delivery to U.K.


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2012 – After a meeting this morning with the United Kingdom’s top defense official, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lauded an important milestone in the U.S.-U.K. defense relationship.

Tomorrow in Fort Worth, Texas, British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond will take the first international delivery of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Panetta told reporters at a Pentagon news conference alongside his British counterpart.

“The United Kingdom was the first partner nation to join the F-35 program and has been a tremendous partner throughout the development, testing, and the initial production,” the secretary added.

Hammond, who joined Panetta for a working breakfast, said, “I look forward to seeing [the supersonic stealth fighter] in operation later on today at [Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland] and then picking up our first test aircraft tomorrow … at Fort Worth.”

The aircraft’s multiyear system development and demonstration period involves development and testing of the entire aircraft system, including its manufacture.

Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, other nations partnering in this phase of F-35 development are Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia. As partners, the countries can bid for work and participate in the aircraft’s development.

Israel and Singapore agreed to join the program as security cooperation participants, entitled to delivery priorities, certain program information and country-specific F-35 technical studies.

“The United Kingdom was the first partner nation to join the F-35 program and has been a tremendous partner throughout the development, testing and initial production,” Panetta told reporters.

“I'm pleased by the significant progress that the program has made across all the service variants, particularly in the past year,” he said, adding that despite a long road still ahead, progress is being made in testing and stabilizing future F-35 production and sustainment plans.

“The F-35 represents, I believe, the future of tactical aviation for both of our armed services,” Panetta said. “This advanced aircraft's air superiority, its precision strike capability will help ensure our dominance of the skies for years to come.”

Hammond said the British armed forces will continue close collaboration with the United States as its most important defense relationship, building on the shared experience of a decade fighting together in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our wide-ranging intelligence relationship, our joint work on the F-35B, regenerating the U.K.'s carrier strike capability, and of course the work on the nuclear deterrent and the common missile compartment -- all [are] crucial keystones of our relationship,” he said.

Hammond added that he has assurances at the highest levels that the F-35 program is now on track and doing very well.

“It went through a period 18 months or so ago when it was placed on probation because of some technical difficulties [but] it's come out of those,” he said.

The aircraft’s B variant now has clocked more than 1,000 hours of flying time and the U.S. Marine Corps is successfully flying it from ships, Hammond said.

He said the U.S. Defense Department has been “massively supportive of [the project] and is providing us with all sorts of facilities to maintain and regenerate our capabilities to operate a carrier flight deck and to maintain the skills in our pilots, many of whom are now flying with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to keep those skills alive.”

Panetta said he’s made it clear that the F-35 fighter plane is critical to a future defense strategy that depends on agility, flexibility and the ability to stay on the cutting edge of technology.

“We're committed to all three [F-35] variants because we think each of the forces will be able to use that kind of weaponry for the future so that we can effectively control the skies as we confront the enemies of tomorrow,” Panetta said.

The secretary said he’s confident “that we're going to be able, working with industry, working with Congress, to meet our full commitment with regards to the joint strike fighter.”