Sunday, August 12, 2012

Panetta: New Marine Officers Will Add to Legacy of Excellence

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta offered congratulations and a challenge to a group of newly minted Marine Corps officers during a commissioning ceremony today at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Va.

“It is now your turn … to take up this mantle of responsibility as leaders in the Marine Corps – to preserve our military strength [and] to uphold the honor and reputation of your uniform,” Panetta told the 120-plus recent graduates of Marine Corps Officer Candidates School at Quantico, Va. “In wearing the eagle, globe and anchor, always remember that you have set yourself apart. Remember that you are expected to abide by the highest standards, to display the strongest character, and to demonstrate the utmost integrity in all you do.”

The secretary noted eight of the new second lieutenants served as enlisted Marines before completing the 10-week school that admitted them to the officer ranks.

“You’ve already served as enlisted Marines, and some of you have seen combat,” Panetta told them. “So you know first-hand the sacrifice and discipline that the Marine Corps is all about, and I commend you for shouldering the new responsibility [of] a Marine officer.”

He noted the course included the hottest July on record in the United States, and told the new second lieutenants OCS may well have been the longest and most challenging 2 1/2 months of their lives.

“You’ve been up before sunrise; you’ve collapsed exhausted onto your rack after dark,” Panetta said. “I’m sure that each of you had moments – as you were low-crawling through the mud, carrying a heavy pack, or running in boots with blisters on your feet – when you wondered just what the hell you had gotten yourself into.”

Nearly a third of the men and women enrolled in the class didn’t finish, the secretary said.

“But you proved to yourselves, and you proved to others, that you can fight through pain and frustration, and that you can endure what most people cannot,” he said. “You’ll need that self-confidence, you will need that discipline, as you step forward to lead the Fleet Marine Force and our military.”

Panetta told the new officers he has been privileged to work with a number of extraordinary Marine Corps officers: Gen. James F. Amos, 35th commandant of the Marine Corps; Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command; Gen. John R. Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. John F. Kelly, the secretary’s senior military assistant, who will soon assume leadership of U.S. Southern Command.

Those officers, he said, carry on a Marine Corps legacy “of grit and sheer determination, of taking the fight to the enemy on far-flung shores, and of fighting like hell – especially when the odds are long.”

Across generations, Marines have added to that legacy, from Tripoli to the Pacific islands and Korea to Vietnam, Panetta said.

“During this past decade of war, our nation has depended on Marines to confront determined enemies and threats around the world,” he said. “And we’ll never forget – never forget -- the more than 1,400 Marines who’ve paid the ultimate price for our country since 9/11.”

In Iraq and now Afghanistan, Marines have led some of the fiercest fighting over more than a decade of conflict, he said.

“Right now, as we speak, night has fallen in Sangin District of Helmand,” Panetta added. “The enemy may be resting, but you can be damn sure the Marines are not. They’re taking the fight to the Taliban every day, every night; helping their Afghan brothers take the lead for security so that Afghanistan can secure and govern itself and never again become a safe haven for al-Qaida.”

The secretary thanked the families and friends of today’s new officers, and recognized service members and veterans attending the event. Panetta also praised the company and platoon commanders, sergeant instructors and OCS staff who trained the new lieutenants.

“While members of this class may not have fully appreciated it while doing push-ups or marching on the parade field, you have given them lessons that they will call upon for years to come,” the secretary told them.

“Most of all, let me thank this graduating class,” he said. “Thank you for choosing to serve our country. Thank you for your willingness to step forward and … put your lives on the line in order to protect this country and in order to defend your fellow Americans.”

NAVFAC Southwest Awards $39.5 Million to Construct Fitness Facility

By Mario T. Icari Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest awarded RQ Construction LLC of Carlsbad a $39.5 million contract Aug. 7 for the construction of a fitness center on Naval Base Coronado.

RQ Construction LLC will construct a physical fitness facility, liberty center, and outdoor pool area. The new facility will be approximately 113,000 square feet. The fitness center is planned to be 92,000 square feet and the liberty center is planned to be 18,000 square feet.

"The new complex will be a cornerstone of meeting MWR's mission of providing quality support and recreational services that contribute to the retention, readiness, mental, physical, and emotional well-being of our Sailors' at Naval Base Coronado," said Billy Sandros, NAVFAC Southwest design manager for this project.

The fitness center will include a gymnasium with basketball and volleyball courts with spectator seating, six racquetball courts, and exercise spaces. The center will also have a lobby, reception area, restrooms, administrative spaces, classrooms, and structured activity rooms. A computer area, game room, television lounge, mini theater, concession area, and a multi-purpose room will also be part of the center.

"The project will consolidate four existing athletic facilities that are inadequate and antiquated while providing the warfighter, retirees, and their families a modern state-of-the-art athletic fitness and training complex," said Sandros "The project will also greatly increase the liberty center services currently provided. The new combined center is centrally located aboard Naval Air Station North Island, across from the newly completed bachelor's quarters, and within an easy walk of carrier berthing."

The planned outdoor pool area will include 10 two-meter lanes with accessibility ramp and associated equipment. The pool will be used for operational and survival training as well as for recreational swimming.

RQ Construction LLC will replace outdoor athletic facilities, covered picnic shelters, and fitness stations which are currently located on the site. The existing running track will be replaced with a new running track.

Work is expected to be completed by spring 2015. NAVFAC Southwest is the contracting activity.

Pacom Supports Partnership, Stability Through Health Engagements

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

CAMP SMITH, Hawaii  – U.S. Pacific Command is helping to build stability and security in the Asia-Pacific one inoculation, one cataract surgery and one first-responder training class at a time.

That’s the way Navy Rear Adm. Raquel Cruz Bono, the command’s top surgeon, views the impact of the full array of medical outreach activities Pacom and its Army, Navy and Air Force components conduct across its area of responsibility.

Bono sees security as among the essential components of the American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And at its very base are the essentials of life: food, clothing, shelter -- and health.

“The medical element is so critical,” she told American Forces Press Service at her headquarters here. “Without health, it is difficult to advance, not only your own personal goals and objectives, but it is really hard to participate in your country’s national goals and objectives.”

At a time of huge economic growth across the Asia-Pacific -- an area spanning half the globe -- Bono is concerned that the region’s health infrastructure hasn’t always kept up.

“Growth doesn’t necessarily equate to development,” she said. “So, perhaps the No. 1 challenge for a lot of the countries in the AOR is being able to develop that health infrastructure -- things like emergency medical response, blood banking and having a medical system that supports some of the disease burden that a country may be experiencing.”

Pacom has a long history of medical support across the region and a vast portfolio of medical-related activities.

The U.S. hospital ship USNS Mercy is three months into the Pacific Partnership mission, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s largest annual humanitarian and civic-action mission. It includes engagements in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, all conducted by military and civilian medical and dental professionals, veterinarians, and engineering personnel from the United States and 11 other countries, as well as nongovernmental and international agencies.

Operation Pacific Angel is another recurring Pacom-sponsored joint, combined humanitarian assistance mission. Led by Pacific Air Forces, it includes medical, dental, optometry, veterinary and engineering programs, as well as subject matter experts to provide guidance on infection control and basic life support procedures.

While offering vital medical services, these and other, smaller-scale medical outreach programs help build capacity within host nations’ medical systems, Bono said.

“You have to include health at every turn if you really want to be able to partner in a meaningful way,” she said. “We are building relationships with the military medical departments in other countries in our AOR, and looking for opportunities, through their eyes, of where we can come in and partner with them and either help bridge some of the things that they are trying to do … or be able to collaborate with them and their local health officials to augment …or build up their capability.”

Laos is one of the success stories, she said. Through a combination of equipment provided through the foreign military sales program and training support, Pacom helped the Laotian government establish a blood donation center -- with a second one planned in another province -- and develop its blood bank system.

“Over the course of just a few years, they have advanced their expertise [and] have increased the number of units of blood that they collect, which can better support the population there,” Bono said. “This is a great example of how we can go in, develop a relationship, determine what the needs are of the population, and then contribute to supporting that population by bringing in expertise and helping the local health community.”

These exchanges, she said, also help build a foundation for a faster, better-coordinated response in the event of a natural disaster.

“When we look at our health engagements, we want to be sure we are not only helping the development of health infrastructure and capability and capacity in the area,” Bono said, “but also to help build resilience so that, in the event of a natural disaster or any other kind of catastrophic event, that we assisted a country in its ability to respond and recover more quickly.”

Sitting in the middle of the earthquake-prone “Ring of Fire,” Pacom is no stranger to natural disasters and frequently plays a role in humanitarian assistance and disaster responses.

During Operation Tomodachi, triggered by the earthquake, tsunami and radiological disaster that devastated Japan in March 2011, Pacom and its service components provided help ranging from hands-on medical care to logistical support to advisory and consequence-management assistance.

“We had access to a broad range of expertise and were able to advise and support, and also to be able to help guide the policymaking [decisions],” Bono said. “But our primary role here at Pacom was to make sure we were coordinating a response and that we were managing the consequences in being able to project what needed to happen.”

Preparing for the next natural disaster -- which officials here agree is a matter of when, not if -- is a top priority across Pacom. For Bono, that means being ready to provide a medical response.

“The military has had a very long history of being able to respond in the event of a humanitarian assistance or disaster relief event,” she said. “Our challenge is to be able to respond very quickly to the call when that occurs.”

The medical staff regularly trains, both within the command and with partners and allies, to keep their disaster-response skills high.

For example, this year’s Rim of the Pacific, the world’s largest, multinational maritime exercise, included the first humanitarian and disaster relief scenario, including a mass casualty drill.

Airmen based at Yokota Air Base, Japan, recently completed aeromedical evacuation training, practicing the techniques of loading patients onto litters, moving them on and off helicopters and providing in-flight patient care.

Bono said she’s excited that Pacom’s “rebalance” in the region will enhance its ability to train with partner nations and build capability and relationships that cross interagency and international lines.

Doing so, she said, will increase opportunities for the U.S. military to collaborate with partner nations and help them achieve their health-related priorities.

“By strengthening their own domestic agenda, we often are able to contribute to their own economic and domestic stability,” she said. “That, in turn, allows them to participate with us in ensuring regional stability.

“And that is really what will then help us ensure that we have an AOR that is stable, that is prosperous and that continues to grow -- and is a real partner in the globalization of the economy and other efforts, worldwide.”

Naval Base San Diego Completes Citadel Rumble 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Justin L. Webb, Naval Base San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) completed three days of annual disaster preparedness drills during Citadel Rumble 2012 (CR-12) from Aug. 7-9.

CR-12 is a fully integrated response and recovery exercise designed to evaluate Navy shore-based commands and installation emergency preparedness in response to an all hazards scenario.

This year's training evolution was a collaboration across all NBSD departments. Department heads and other essential team members held planning meetings to ensure successful execution of the drills.

"The events were modeled after real world casualties," said NBSD training officer Dave Kenneweg. "In the event of a real-life scenario the base would get overwhelmed by not just displaced military, but also civilians. Our goal was to set up scenarios that would train our personnel how to effectively respond to casualties and to provide mass shelter for displaced individuals."

 Over the course of CR-12 there was a simulated 6.9 magnitude earthquake, a building collapse and riot which ultimately lead to six hypothetical human casualties including one fatality.

"The Emergency Management Team coordinated the initial response and recovery of multiple disasters and reported incidents across the base," said NBSD Emergency Operations Center (EOC) manager Manny Magos. "We coordinated relief, supplies, assistance and the flow of information from the incident through the EOC up to higher headquarters."

During the exercise, the AtHoc-Reverse 911 system was one of the primary means the EOC used to mass notify the population within the NBSD area of jurisdiction.

"Let's face it...if a real earthquake were to happen most folks would get that we just had an earthquake. Be that as it may, they may not know where to go for help, they may not know what to do in the event of an emergency, but if we were able to get an AtHoc alert to somebody who perhaps had a PDA or a phone that was able to receive an alert or a text message it would steer them in the direction of how to get help. Specifically, it would tell them where to reach out or who to call in the event they have some kind of damage to report, in need of medical attention or some kind of supplies or services," added Magos.

NBSD leadership feels the base personnel's performance during this exercise shows their commitment to help in times of need.

"I am so pleased by the combined effort of the NBSD staff. I am totally confident that if a natural disaster was to occur in the area, our personnel would be ready to meet the challenge head on," said NBSD Commanding Officer Capt. Winton Smith. "I also want to ensure that our Sailors, civilian employees, retirees and family members understand in the event of a tragedy we will open our gates to help in any way possible."

CR-12 was preceded by an Earthquake Preparedness Resource Fair Aug. 6, which was aimed to
help prepare military members and their families in the event of an earthquake. The fair, sponsored by Navy Region Southwest's Sustainable Solid Waste Program, featured 16 organizations with disaster preparedness experts.

From Subic Bay to San Diego: One Sailor's Journey through the Ranks

By Candice Villarreal, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- It was a normal day in the Philippines; hot, muggy, and fairly uneventful. But as a young Virgilio "James" Dariano ruffled through the pages of his textbooks one summer afternoon in 1984, he had no idea what his mother was up to back home.

Her actions that day changed his life dramatically.

Dariano's mother knew the U.S.-Philippine Military Bases Agreement allowed Filipinos to enlist in the U.S. Navy as foreign nationals through what was called the Philippine Enlistment Program. She also knew her son was coming of age, growing into an adult in a land where it was often hard to make ends meet and keep food on the table. She knew she wanted better for him.
 That day, she came up with an idea: she mailed his black-and-white high school portrait to a local recruiter and hoped for the best.

Weeks, months and even years went by, and his mother silently gave up and eventually forgot. Dariano had done well for himself, graduating from high school, earning a college degree in communications engineering and landing his first job as an electronics technician.

And then the postcard came.

Like a winning lottery ticket delivered to his mailbox, a recruiter had sent an invitation for Dariano to take the entrance exam. After deep thought and careful consideration, Dariano said he reflected on the "Join the Navy, see the world" posters he'd seen around town and decided to take the plunge on the same day he was scheduled to negotiate salary with a big power company he'd been hired on with.

In November of 1989 - five years after his mother sent his photograph in for consideration without his knowledge - he enlisted into the U.S. Navy from Subic Bay, Philippines, and his naval career began.

"Out of 150 candidates, here I was with the worst English in the group, and I was one of only three selected," Dariano said. "The only promise we got from the recruiter was that we'd get three meals a day and a place to sleep."

Dariano shipped off to boot camp in San Diego, so amazed by the plentiful food at dinnertime that he stuffed apples into his pockets.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "There was just so much food."

Still, with only $1.50 in his pocket, Dariano said he wondered how he was going to make it all alone, in a land so foreign and intimidating, and with his home and family so far away.

He did what he could to keep his spirits up, and after graduating boot camp, he headed out to boatswain's mate apprenticeship school.

"Things were on track; I was in school and everything was good," he said. "And then one day they showed us a video about snap-back, and all I could think was 'I don't want that happening to me!'"

After graduating at the top of his class, Dariano was offered another chance at rate classification and was given the choice to be meritoriously promoted to E-2 or be awarded an "A" School. With the video still fresh in his mind, he chose the latter.

With all of the engineering billets full, Dariano ended up choosing the Ship's Serviceman rating and headed to school in Mississippi, where he graduated with top honors and was meritoriously promoted to E-4.

Despite his promotions, Dariano struggled daily with the language barrier he was up against, as well as with differences in culture.

"I was always getting yelled at, but it was fine because I didn't understand it all, anyway," he said. "I just kept doing what I was supposed to do and worked hard, and I started listening to talk radio to help improve my language skills. The late Paul Harvey has no idea how much he's helped me."

Dariano married his girlfriend Edith in the Philippines and soon had his first son. Life was good, but the struggles continued. His wife was in the U.S. on a tourist visa that prohibited employment, and the bills were adding up.

"It was our first Christmas and we had this tiny little tree with wrapped empty boxes underneath," he said. "It was hard, but I looked at my baby boy and said 'Son, don't worry, because things are going to get better,' and they did. Starting a family in the states with zero foundation was incredibly hard, but not impossible."

Years and duty assignments flew by. By 2002, Dariano was promoted to chief petty officer, and in 2005, he submitted a package for the chief warrant officer (CWO) program. That spring, he attended a conference in San Diego and had a chance to meet the guest speaker, retired Capt. Jerry Linenger.

"I was just in awe of this guy - he was an astronaut and gave a great speech about how he almost died during a space mission," Dariano said. "After the conference, he shook my hand and thanked me for all I'd done to get him to where he was. Not me personally, but all the chiefs I represent, and that really touched me. I went back home and immediately asked for my CWO package to be returned to me, because right then and there, I decided I was going to retire as a chief."

Dariano said his family, work ethic and mentors kept him motivated and that life has greatly improved. He continued receiving promotions and recently used the Navy's tuition assistance program to earn a master's degree in organizational management. His wife was promoted to assistant manager at a local credit union, and they have two healthy, growing sons.

"My sons see how much time we spent studying, trying to better ourselves, and that it has paid off," said Dariano. "They have values like hard work and education engrained in them now. I told them that we may not have all the money in the world to give them, but that the Navy is going to help us give them an education. That is enough."

He reached the top of the Navy's enlisted ladder in the spring, after 23 years of service.

"Without my mentors, I would not be where I am," he said. "They gave me the freedom to operate within my capacity while always standing nearby to pick me up when I fell down. They taught me how to be a leader."

Master Chief Ship's Serviceman (SW/AW) Virgilio Dariano currently serves as the fleet assistance team leader for NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego, where he also served as the command's interim senior enlisted leader. He is slated to report to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in December.

"Looking back on my life, I am very proud to have made the decisions I've made," he said. "I've had obstacles, but I've seen success, too. To this day, every time my wife and I see how much we've attained, we just can't believe our eyes. It's a lot easier to quantify how much you've achieved when you really started with nothing. We were struggling, but the Navy took care of us, and I will always be grateful for that."

NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego, one of seven fleet logistics centers under NAVSUP Global Logistics Support, provides global logistics, business and support services to fleet, shore and industrial commands of the Navy, Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and other joint and allied Forces. Services include contracting, regional transportation, fuel, material management, household goods movement support, postal and consolidated mail, warehousing, global logistics and husbanding, hazardous material management, and integrated logistics support.

NAVSUP GLS comprises more than 5,700 military and civilian logistics professionals, contractors and foreign nationals operating as a single cohesive team providing global logistics services from 110 locations worldwide.

A component of the Naval Supply Systems Command headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., NAVSUP GLS is part of a worldwide logistics network of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel providing combat capability through logistics.

Navy SEAL Foundation Hosts Naval Special Warfare Teen Camp

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Geneva G. Brier, Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs

JULIAN, Calif. (NNS) -- The Navy SEAL Foundation sponsored a Teen Camp for 23 Naval Special Warfare (NSW) teenagers Aug. 5-10 at "Camp Marston."

The teen camp provided a six-day venue for NSW teens to come together for fun, team-building, and an opportunity to build and develop resilience skills.

 NSW families piloted the same camp concept last year and has offered three additional camps this summer, including a Gold Star camp, designed for the children of the NSW fallen. The purpose of the camp is to instill aspects of resiliency, leadership, confidence building and is designed to be a place for NSW kids to come together and relate with one another.

"The community realizes that the kids also take on the burden for being at war for 10 years," said Steve Gilmore, NSW Family Support Program director. "The kids are dealing with things that most kids don't have to worry about."

The camps are staffed by professional counselors assisted by Families Overcoming Under Stress (FOCUS) personnel and Military Family Life counselors (MFLCs).

"As the counselors we try to focus on fun and camp activities," said Jewlz Romulado, a Camp Marston counselor. "The kids deal with the military and war every day; this is a worry-free getaway for them."

Each day the camp's itinerary includes a team-building exercise, an adventure activity, and a friendly competition. Each day before 'lights out,' the campers participate in a reflection session which allows them to speak as a group about the pros and cons throughout the day.

"This camp is all about the kids, each day we just try to focus on them and make each day better than the previous one," said Romulado.

The camp concluded with a presentation of honorary certificates making each camper a plankowner, meaning they were present during the first year of the camp's origination.

"Everyone who has been associated with the planning and coordination of the NSW Teen Camp including the camp staff, NSW Family Support, and the kids and parents can only be described as amazing," said Gilmore. "It really is an amazing opportunity and program for amazing kids."

Norfolk Firefighting School Turns Up the Heat During Live Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Molly Anne Greendeer, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Norfolk Farrier Fire Fighting School is nearing the end of its annual Damage Control Assistant/Senior Enlisted (DCA/SE) course for 16 international students as they began a live-firefighting exercise Aug. 8.

The seven-week course is designed to teach national and international sailors how to identify and combat shipboard damages. This particular course was an identical DCA/SE course that is offered at the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) Command in Norfolk.

Sailors from the Colombian, Republic of Korea, Republic of Singapore, Lithuanian Naval Force and Royal Saudi navies attended the course.

Each year, navies from around the world have the opportunity to send officers and senior enlisted to the course where damage control personnel learn how the U.S. Navy prepares for and deals with shipboard damage.

"We do this course annually to teach them what our DCAs do on ships here," said Chief Damage Controlman Michael Lewis, one of the course instructors. "We talk to them and teach them what we do and they give us input on how they would handle the same situations."

Chief Damage Controlman Melvin Smith, an instructor at the school encourages all allied navies to take the course and learn as much as they can about the U.S. Navy's techniques and to share its methods to become more efficient in damage control efforts.

"It's important to stay relevant," said Smith. "We continually upgrade our techniques and take what we learn from our international students to provide the best damage control training possible."

"All the students come here with knowledge of what damage control is all about," said Lewis. "Because they already know the basic language of damage control, it makes it easier for us to communicate and demonstrate our damage control techniques."

Students have the opportunity to use their own navy's firefighting techniques while learning new techniques during a firefighting and wet trainer, which are designed to simulate real-life situations.

"We put them in situations and we put pressure on them to see what kind of decisions they are going to make, because damage control is all about how quickly you assess the damage and make decisions," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Paul Andersen. "We want to know how they would prioritize the damages and balance their resources."

Colombian Senior Chief Damage Contolman German Castilla-Castillo said he was amazed at the size and realness of the live firefighting facilities.

 "We have never fought fires on a big scale like this," said Castilla-Castillo. "The time and effort put into the training exercises better prepare myself and those who work under me."

Smith said it is important to ensure that all demonstrations and courses emphasize safety of students and service members and hopes the students go on to supervise after returning to their home country.

"Safety is paramount," said Smith. "Before the students put their hands on any equipment or run through any training exercise, we do a safety brief. We want to make sure they are prepared for any situation."

The course stresses that safety is just as important when they return to their ships as every ship is at risk of encountering a dangerous situation.

"Damage control is an international concern." said Damage Contolman 1st Class Scott Cheesbrough. "No matter what ship you are on and no matter what country you are from, ultimately those ships go in harm's way."

The students will graduate from the course Aug. 16.

High Speed Vessel Swift Departs Liberia after First APS West Engagement

By Ensign Joe Keiley, Speed Vessel Swift Public Affairs

HIGH SPEED VESSEL SWIFT, At Sea (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command-chartered High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) departed Monrovia, Liberia Aug. 11 after concluding a port visit in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West 2012.

Swift spent eight days engaging with the people and military of Liberia as the ship docked in Freeport.

An embarked team of medical professionals, both from the U.S. Navy and the non-governmental organization Project Hope spent three days providing medical care for more than 2,000 people, providing eyeglasses, basic medications, and referrals for continued care after building relationships with medical leaders from local agencies.

Three separate groups of subject matter experts, from Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2, Security Cooperation Team 6, as well as a Mobile Training Team from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command provided information exchanges during the week on topics ranging from port security, to non-lethal combat skills and instructor training.

"I've been able to get out and see every event this week, and the biggest stand-out in my mind is the ability to see the true exchange that does occur, not just through our subject matter experts conveying their message, but what comes back to us from the host nation," said Lt. Cmdr. Brad Fillius, Swift's military detachment officer-in-charge. "The Liberian people, their military, we leave here learning a lot about their country, and got to see them display true professionalism."

The ship hosted a reception for more than 100 distinguished visitors who learned more about Swift and its mission. During the reception, Swift's leadership spoke about the partnership building that is central to the APS mission.

"It's really an important part of this ship's mission to be able to support humanitarian missions and these partnership stops and to quickly adapt to either situation," said Capt. Rhett Mann, Swift's civilian master. "It's great to have a night to show the ship off to visitors and put the civilian and military partnership on display."

The reception wrapped up with comments from the U.S. ambassador to Liberia crediting the ship's crew for building relationships that will last into the future.

"All of this activity serves to underscore our ongoing commitment to helping the Armed Forces [of] Liberia develop as a genuine 'force for good,' capable of carrying out its duties in a professional manner, and rendering true service to the people of Liberia," said Michael Arietti, U.S. ambassador to Liberia.

Swift's crew also took time to play a soccer match with members of the Liberian Coast Guard.

During the visit the ship was able to offload more than 2,000 pounds of donated supplies to local organizations as part of Project Handclasp. The majority of the cargo was comprised of eyeglasses and water filters.

"We have a lot of people who have poor sight in Liberia, these will be given to them freely and they will be very grateful. A pair of glasses is very expensive, and we pray that this won't be our last time working together and that we'll always have communication," said Victoria Tomah, director, Liberian Annual Conference/United Methodist Church.

This was also a first stop in Africa for the ship's Gold Crew who turned over in Italy last month.

"For this being the first visit with this crew, I thought everything went really well and we have some good plans in place now and a good building block for future visits," said Fillius.

APS is about developing solutions to global problems and building upon long-standing relationships. Through events like the ones held in Liberia and in future ports, it helps to create partnerships among a number of organizations who have not traditionally worked with each other in the past to achieve common goals through collaboration.

Northwest Sailors Volunteer at Veterans Home

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Scott A. McCall, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

RETSIL, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 40 chief petty officers (CPO) and CPO selects, assigned to commands within Navy Region Northwest, participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at Washington Veterans Home, Aug. 9.

 The CPO selects, Sailors undergoing an induction process to CPO, assisted the grounds crew of the veterans home with brush clean-up of the campus, tree trimming and weed pulling.

"Our ultimate goal is not only to make this thing pretty, but to give back and appreciate our veterans," said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS/FMF) Robert Ripps, stationed at Naval Submarine Support Center on Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor.

During the clean up the CPO selects also interacted with the veterans living on the campus sharing stories of their time currently serving and listening to the stories from those who preceded them.

"Some of the selects broke off and engaged some of the veterans here that reside in the facility and they appreciate not only us here helping maintain their home, but to listen and appreciate them and what they sacrificed for us and our nation," said Ripps. "A lot of times all people want sometimes is to be appreciated and someone to listen to them."

Washington Veterans Home is on a 31-acre campus with a state-of-the-art facility serving more than 240 veterans needing both long-term nursing and assisted-living care.

Don Veverka, superintendent administrator for the Washington Veterans Home, said that due to a limited budget the home can only allocate two people to manage the grounds for the entire campus, so they rely heavily on volunteers especially current active duty service members.

"The help that we receive is a tremendous value to us, it allows us to keep the grounds looking, much better than they would otherwise," said Veverka. "We rely on them very heavily to come and provide those extra hands and assistance in keeping the place looking better than it would otherwise. We respect and appreciate their contribution immensely."

Veverka said the veterans love it when current active duty personnel take the time to visit. He described the service members here in the Pacific Northwest as being generous and very supportive of the veterans.

"They come in and meet with our residents, they'll call bingo, they'll engage in activities and involve with them, getting to know our residents," said Veverka. "What is better then to have service veterans connected with active duty service personnel? They love it and look forward to it and are always eager to share their stories and their experiences, which really is very valuable to those that are engaged in the current active duty as well."

Being able to have this opportunity to connect with the past had a big meaning for some of current active duty Sailors who participated in the COMREL.

"It's amazing to me that they're here and we're here and they are from times before ours," said Chief (select) Logistics Specialist (SS) Bernard Drayton, assigned to Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at NBK Bangor. "One day we'll be here and I'll come out and watch the young guys do it and be proud that they are following from were I came from."

Ripps said that COMREL projects like this are very effective and important for the Navy by building a bond and uniting the Sailors with the surrounding community.

"Even though our jobs all too often carry us away from our communities and our families, an event like this gives us a chance to come back and plant roots," said Ripps. "We're not just the travelers in the night that come and go every couple of years, we show that we care and we're willing to do what we need to do to help out our community."

Yale Midshipmen to Open NROTC Unit

By Michael F. Miller, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit at Yale University will participate in its first freshmen orientation since 1972 at Officer Training Command (OTC) Newport, R.I. Aug. 11.

OTC will host 12 new midshipmen and staff from Yale and Holy Cross Universities.

The Yale NROTC unit will be part of a consortium with the NROTC unit at The College of the Holy Cross. An NROTC consortium is formed when two or more host units are located geographically close to one another. NROTC courses and professional instruction will be held on both campuses, however the units may share resources, as the Navy and Marine Corps deem appropriate, in order to maximize available funds and promote program consistency.

"The staff has worked diligently since the signing (May 26, 2011) and established a solid foundation and partnership with Yale," said Cmdr. James Godwin, commanding officer of the Yale/Holy Cross consortium. "We are looking forward to putting the first Yale NROTC officers into the fleet in 2016."

 Yale's NROTC unit was one of the six original units established when the NROTC program started in 1926.

"The new Navy ROTC unit at Yale continues the University's proud tradition of educating students who serve our country's Armed Forces," said Yale University President Richard C. Levin. "From Lexington to Afghanistan, our students and graduates have contributed to the nation's defense, and the return of NROTC will make it easier for the most talented young men and women who aspire to leadership in our military to gain a Yale education."

The curriculum for the week at OTC and Naval Station Newport will include physical training, uniform and room inspections, close order drill, basic seamanship, and damage control training.

Yale will also join other NROTC units across the country with a new high-tech computer-based Mariner Skills Simulator (MSS) installed Aug. 9.

MSS provides future Navy officers navigational skills, even before stepping onto their first ship.

"Yale has been strongly supportive of facilitating the establishment of the NROTC unit along with numerous programs for the military and veterans," said Godwin.

The NROTC program was established to educate and train qualified young men and women for service as commissioned officers in the Navy and Marine Corps. The NROTC scholarship program fills a vital need in preparing mature young men and women for leadership and management positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps.

For more information about NROTC, visit

Update: No Injuries in Strait of Hormuz Collision

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY, Bahrain (NNS) -- No one was hurt Sunday morning when a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer and a large Japanese owned merchant vessel collided near the Strait of Hormuz.

The collision between USS Porter (DDG 78) and the Panamanian-flagged bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan occurred at approximately 1:00 a.m. local time.

Porter transited under its own power to Jebel Ali, UAE and is now pierside for assessment and repair.

The incident is under investigation.

USS Porter is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

For more information, visit,, or

For further questions, please contact U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs Office 011-973-1785-4027 or>

PP12 Vet Team Joins Cambodian Vets, Vaccinate Local Animals

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2012 veterinarians worked side by side with Cambodian veterinarians to provide vaccinations for local animals during a veterinarian civic action project (VETCAP) in Sihanoukville, Cambodia Aug. 9.

Vaccinations included rabies vaccinations, wormers and a vaccination against a local disease for small animals as well as cattle and carabao.

World Vets volunteer Eilidh Hawkins said the VETCAP helped educate the local veterinarians about vaccinating and help reduce the risk of rabies in the area.

"The work we are doing here for rabies prevention is important to protect children from rabies, so we are working with the vets on the diseases they need to treat their animals for," said Hawkins.

Army Spc. Amanda Schwartz said another important part of the VETCAP was to provide vitamin B to the cattle and carabao.

"We give them vitamin B to help them gain weight," she said. "A lot of times, they aren't getting the vitamins they need, so we help supplement them."

Hawkins said the idea was to focus on preventative medicine.

"A lot of the work we do here is about preventative medicine and preventing disease, rabies in particular," she said. "So we do rabies education with children and use our vaccination program. Our work here has been a success due to the help we have received from the Cambodian officials and the Cambodian vets as well as our own team made up of U.S. Army veterinarians, NGOs, host and partner nations."

During PP12, VETCAPs are held to provide free care to local pets and livestock to protect the spread of disease to both animals and people.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

APS Brings African NCOs to Prepare Training for Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher B. Stoltz, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Sailors from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) helped African sailors develop a senior enlisted leadership curriculum for non-commissioned officers (NCO) at the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa headquarters in Naples, Italy, Aug. 10.

Building off the information learned from earlier Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2012 missions, the course provided eight sailors from Cameroon, Gabon, Nigeria, and Senegal a training outline for senior enlisted leadership that will be used in future APS missions.

"They've had basic and advanced instructor training from previous training missions and engagements that they're basing the curriculum on," said Chief Equipment Operator David Martin, course instructor. "They showed up well-prepared to further that training with 85 slides already finished and ready to add more."

 The African sailors came together to build a final objective for the training, a mission statement for the NCO trainees, a slideshow of 110 slides and an instructor book.

"We learned how to develop the objective, enable the objective and review the objective that will be used to improve our training methods in our home countries," said Senegalese navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mamadou A. N'Diaye. "We can take this improved curriculum back for our NCOs, so they can learn from it."

During the course, the African sailors noticed personal growth and were excited to get back and teach the new curriculum.

"I'll be able to bring up better leaders with this training," said Nigerian Chief Petty Officer Sylvester Amede Odaiche. "The course in Cameroon was basic and this is advanced, and I feel it has made me a better instructor."

Each instructor will train small classes of about 25 NCOs in advanced leadership courses throughout upcoming APS missions.

"I think that things in the curriculum course are very well organized and very easy to understand," said Gabonese navy Petty Officer 1st Class Pierre Mboulou Allogo. "I learned a lot about leadership and the role of being a leader, and that means training our people to be leaders as well."

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

Blue Ridge Heads South and Embraces Fukuoka

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Norman, USS Blue Ridge public affairs

FUKUOKA, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked 7th Fleet staff and Marines assigned to Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific arrived in Fukuoka, Japan Aug. 10.

While in Fukuoka, crew and staff will serve as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S., promoting peace and stability in the region while demonstrating a commitment to growing friendships. This is an opportunity for Blue Ridge Sailors and Marines to take full advantage of volunteering to take part in community service (COMSERV) events dedicated to making a positive impact.

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Vanessa Garciavargas said, "I do it because you get to experience the country in a different light. I get a completely different experience from each COMSERV I do and it's emotionally touching. I know I'm doing the right thing and I feel fulfilled when I volunteer my time."

Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet Sailors will join Japanese locals in joint community service projects, sporting events and the Obon (Festival of Souls). Public performances will be made by the 7th Fleet Band to further strengthen ties between Japan and the U.S.

Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott Swift and Commander in Chief, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Fleet, Vice Adm. Yasushi Matsushita, held a press conference for local media, followed by ship tours and topped the evening off with a reception, commonly referred to on Blue Ridge as a "Big Top" aboard Blue Ridge.

Assistant Chief of Staff Logistics Officer, Capt. Ron Carr said, "Our department organizes and arranges the Big Tops. The purpose of Big Tops is to establish positive theater security cooperation between Blue Ridge and Japanese nationals. Our flagmess culinary specialists make it all happen. They're involved in everything from creating ice sculptures, cakes and entrees. They are involved in the whole process except for setting up the tents on the main deck."

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 33 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott Swift, Blue Ridge is instrumental in forging partnerships in the region while leading the fleet with its advanced shipboard communications systems.

North Carolina Air Guard Back to Firefighting Mission

From a 153rd Air Expeditionary Group News Release

CHEYENNE, Wyo.  – The North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing will return to flying Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System missions on Aug. 14, six weeks after four of the unit's airmen were killed in a C-130 aircraft crash during a firefighting mission in South Dakota.

"Charlotte's MAFFS 8 will replace MAFFS 9, from California, for three weeks while the 146th Airlift Wing's C-130 undergoes required maintenance. We're excited to have North Carolina back in the fight and look forward to having them fly with us again," said Air Force Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander.

"Our folks from Charlotte are ready to re-join our MAFFS brothers and sisters in the firefighting going on in the Northwest of our country,” said Air Force Col. Roger Williams Jr., 145th Operations Group commander. “We all feel it is extremely important for our people to get back to this critical mission and we will carry the memory of MAFFS 7 in our hearts as the wildland firefighting continues.”

On July 1, MAFFS 7, a North Carolina C-130, equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, crashed near Edgemont, S.D., while supporting the White Draw fire. Four of the aircraft’s six crewmembers were killed. It was the first major incident in the 40-year MAFFS mission history. The crash is under investigation.

MAFFS are operated by four military units: The 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve Command.

Since being activated June 25, the MAFFS fleet has released more than 1,309,363 gallons of fire retardant during 547 drops on fires in eight states in the Rocky Mountain region.

This year's MAFFS operations are on pace to exceed MAFFS operations in 2008. That year, MAFFS units dropped 1,313,900 gallons of retardant.

MAFFS is a joint Department of Defense and U.S. Forest Service program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private airtankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the forest service.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 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.