Military News

Monday, August 20, 2012

U.S. Naval War College Welcomes New Resident Class


By James E. Brooks, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) paid tribute to its newest class of approximately 585 resident students from the armed forces and civilian federal agencies in a convocation ceremony in Spruance Hall Auditorium, Aug. 20.

The convocation formally assembled the college community to start the academic year and included a faculty procession in academic regalia as well as a historical overview of the college's contributions by an actor portraying Naval War College founder, Commodore Stephen B. Luce.

NWC President Rear Adm. John N. Christenson emphasized two things students will be able to take advantage of during their academic pursuits.

"You will be given two great gifts while you're here," said Christenson. "Those are a library of great books and the time to read them. You will also be provided with learning-partners to share your intellectual journey. Some are professional educators from our dedicated faculty, while others will come from the student body in the form of seminar mates and fellow students."

The arrival of NWC's newest students marks a nearly 128-year tradition of educating military and government officials in Newport, R.I. The college's academic mission is to educate and develop leaders and also to strengthen global maritime partnerships.

In fact, only about half of NWC's newest students are naval officers. The other half of the student body comes from the Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Army, in addition to 86 students from 59 international navies and representatives from an alphabet soup of government agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NCIS, Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among many others. The newest country represented in the college's international programs is Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

During the ceremony, the 2012 Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award was presented to Navy Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It is truly humbling to join such a distinguished group of previous recipients," said Winnefeld. "The impressive list of these leaders is a testament to the talented faculty who always has given so much to those who attend this course."

Previous recipients of the award include Army Gen. Raymond Odierno; Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr.; Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright; Adm. James G. Stavridis; and Ambassador Christopher Hill.

Winnenfeld encouraged students to challenge their intellectual assumptions and not be intimidated by current conventional thought. He backed up his charge with a promise to read the 10 best written research papers judged by the faculty. The authors of the two best would be invited to lunch as guests of the vice chairman, in his Pentagon office.

The U.S. Naval War College started more than 125 years ago as a small institution with mostly summer courses. It has evolved into a one-year resident program that graduates about 600 students a year, and a robust distance program that graduates about 1,000 students a year. The college also has a robust international engagement mission with approximately 100 international officers graduating yearly.

In addition to the College's education mission, it is heavily involved in war gaming and research in an effort to aid the Chief of Naval Operations in defining the path of the future Navy. More recently, the college has developed operational level courses to satisfy fleet requirements, preparing leaders for the challenges of operational and/or strategic level leadership over the remainder of their careers as decision makers and problem solvers.

NWC is accredited by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Joint Professional Military Education Phases I and II and by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to award a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies.

USS Fort McHenry Departs Constanta, Romania


By Ensign Laura Price, USS Fort McHenry Public Affairs

CONSTANTA, Romania (NNS) -- Dock-landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) departed Constanta, Romania following the completion of Exercise Summer Storm 2012, Aug. 19.

Summer Storm is a combined amphibious assault exercise by U.S. Marines from the Security Cooperation Task Force Africa Partnership Station 2012 and Romanian sailors from the 307th Naval Infantry.

The exercise is part of the U.S. Navy's wider goal of continued Black Sea security and cooperation in the region.

"The exercise was an outstanding training opportunity for both the Romanian and American forces," said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Matt Tharp. "It offered an opportunity to conduct a combined arms amphibious assault on a large scale, and offered both services the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities."

During the exercise, U.S. and Romanian Marines and Sailors conducted explosive ordnance disposal and amphibious beach-landing training.

After the events, the Sailors and Marines enjoyed a chance to visit Constanta.

"We thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality and warmth of the Romanian people," said Cmdr. Eric Kellum, Fort McHenry's executive officer. "They have a rich and diverse culture."

This is the second time Summer Storm has taken place in Romania. The first exercise was in 2011.

Fort McHenry is currently deployed to 6th Fleet conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Are You Almost Depressed?


By Corina Notyce, DCoE Strategic Communications

This blog post was written by Dr. Shelley Carson, a psychologist with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), a Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury center. For more blog posts written by subject matter experts at T2, visit the ‘blog section’ of afterdeployment.org.

Most everyone has experienced the blues: a few days now and then when you feel mopey, sad, a little off your game, or just tired of it all. This is part of the normal ebb and flow of emotions. Life has its ups and downs. However, when these “off” periods begin to string together for a month or longer, you may have more than just the blues: you may be almost depressed. This is not a “clinical” level of depression, but it’s more than a period of the blues that you can’t just snap out of.

Why is it important to make the distinction between the blues and low-level “almost” depression? There are two reasons: first, research shows that about 75 percent of people who have subclinical periods of depression eventually have a major depressive episode or clinical depression. You want to avoid this downward spiral if possible because clinical depression can lead to serious problems, including a four-times-greater-than-average risk for heart attack, an increased risk for suicide, as well as feelings of hopelessness and distress. Second, subclinical depression causes distress in its own right. My colleagues and I recently completed a study where we found that people who are almost depressed (who have a couple of the signs of depression but not at the clinical level) report lower life satisfaction, more symptoms of anxiety and more problems in their relationships and marriages than people who have no signs of depression.

For these reasons, you may want to check yourself or a loved one and see if you notice any of the following changes from normal behavior lasting a month or longer:

■Getting easily irritated over little things
■Making excuses not to go out with friends and preferring to be alone
■Trouble sleeping
■Thinking food doesn’t taste very good
■Having trouble getting up for activities that you used to look forward to
■Losing your sense of humor
■Losing interest in sex
■Trouble concentrating, even on a favorite TV show or book
■Feeling tired, even after you’ve slept a normal amount of time

If you notice these changes, don’t let yourself linger in the almost depressed state. Take some action. Here are a few suggestions:

 ■Exercise: 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week has been shown to lift negative mood.
■Spend more time doing activities that you enjoy: Even if you’re not enjoying these activities as much as you used to, pleasurable activities activate parts of the brain that become deactivated during clinical depression.
■Socialize with friends: Even if you don’t really feel like it, being with others who care about you is important in maintaining or regaining a positive mood.
■Think positively: If you catch yourself thinking negatively, consider how you could look at yourself, your circumstances, or others from a different perspective that’s more optimistic and realistic. This has been shown to decrease depressive feelings.
■Express your negative mood creatively: Write about it, paint it or put it to music. Read the blog post “Use Creativity to Combat Negative Emotions” for more ideas.

You can find out more about depression, its signs and what to do about it in the newly updated depression assessment on afterdeployment.org. By recognizing and acting to defuse early signs of depression, you can avoid more serious mood problems and get back on top of your game.

NORAD Exercise Planned for the National Capital Region


The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), will conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 12-11 between 11:30 p.m. (EDT) tonight and 5:30 a.m. (EDT) tomorrow, in the National Capital Region (NCR), Washington, D.C.

The exercise is comprised of a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the NCR Coordination Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center (JADOC), Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and CONR’s Eastern Air Defense Sector.

Exercise Falcon Virgo is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations as well as operationally test the NCR Visual Warning System and certify newly assigned command and control personnel at JADOC.  Civil Air Patrol aircraft and a U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the exercise.

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR’s rapid response capability.  NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

For more information on Falcon Virgo exercises, please contact CONR Public Affairs at 850-283-8080, or the NORAD Public Affairs Office at 719-554-6889.

USS Constitution Sails for First Time since 1997


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathryn E. Macdonald, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution departed her berth from Charlestown, Mass. Aug. 19, to set sail for the first time since 1997, during an underway demonstration commemorating Guerriere Day.

The underway honored the 200th anniversary of Constitution's decisive victory over the HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, marking the first time a United States frigate defeated a Royal Navy frigate at or nearly equal size. It's also the battle in which Constitution earned her famous nickname "Old Ironsides."

"I cannot think of a better way to honor those who fought in the war as well as celebrate Constitution's successes during the War of 1812 than for the ship to be under sail," said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution's 72nd commanding officer. "The event also ties our past and present by having the ship not only crewed by the outstanding young men and women who make up her crew, but also the 150 chief petty officer [CPO] selectees who join us for their Heritage Week."

More than 150 CPO selectees and CPO mentor chiefs assisted Constitution's crew in setting sails. CPO selectees participated in Constitution's annual CPO Heritage Weeks, a weeklong training cycle divided by two weeks that teaches selectees time-honored maritime evolutions, such as gun drills, line handling and setting sails. The training is also designed to instill pride in naval heritage in the Navy's senior enlisted leadership.

"I'm a boatswain's mate," said Chief (Select) Boatswain's Mate (SW) Michael Zgoda, assigned to USS Ingraham (FFG 61). "This is the foundation of my rate. Being able to learn from a variety of genuine chiefs and their different perspectives on leadership is overwhelming and important to the chief petty officer transition. I'm extremely honored to be a part of the group that can say they sailed the USS Constitution."

The ship got underway at 9:57 a.m. with tugs attached to her sides and 285 people on board, including special guests, such as the 58th, 59th, 62nd and 65th former commanding officers of Constitution; Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, Commander, Submarine Group Two; Rear Adm. Ted Branch, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic; Vice Adm. William French, Commander, Navy Installations Command; retired Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner Jr., Medal of Honor recipient; and Dr. Phil Budden, Britain's Consul General to New England.

At 10:27 a.m., Budden and Bonner tossed a wreath into the ocean to honor and remember Constitution's battle with the HMS Guerriere.

When the ship arrived at President Roads, a body of water of Boston Harbor, the crew then set three sails from Constitution's main, mizzen and fore masts, and at 12:25 p.m., she detached from her tugs and sailed west under her own power for 17 minutes. She sailed at a maximum speed of 3.1 knots, at an average of two knots, and at a distance of 1,100 yards.

"As the ship's sail master, I felt a combination of pride and relief that the hundreds of man hours of training and planning over the past year all came together, and we were able to accomplish this goal," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Conrad Hunt. "I'm really proud that I can say I was a part of this historic occasion."

After tugs reattached to Constitution's sides, the ship headed to Fort Independence on Castle Island, where thousands of spectators waited to watch Constitution fire a 21-gun salute toward the fort at 1:14 p.m. Fort Independence is a state park that served as a defense post for Boston Harbor at one time.

Finally, the ship returned to her pier at 2:05 p.m. and everyone departed once the brow was safely set and the ship was clean. Constitution re-opened to the public for tours of the ship's history at 4 p.m.

"For me, this underway is representative of an incredible amount of work and dedication by not only the crew, but Maintenance and Repair Facility, Naval History and Heritage Command, and all of the partners coming together to make this happen," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW/SW) Jason Keith, who is the longest serving crew member currently assigned to Constitution. Keith reported to the ship April 13, 2009 and will depart Aug. 31. "I've given tours to thousands of people, shined brass for hundreds of hours, and I've climbed the rigging to set and furl these sails over and over again. But sailing USS Constitution on Aug. 19, 2012 is one of the greatest honors I've had in my naval career, and I'm truly proud to be a part of this history."

The last time Constitution sailed under her own power was July 21, 1997 to honor the ship's 200th birthday. It was the first time the ship sailed in 116 years.

"When we sailed the ship, it became clear it was a different experience you can't have in port," said Lance Beebe, a crew member aboard Constitution's 1997 sail. "The ship comes alive, and you truly understand what she is all about. This new crew [2012 Sailors] just joined a group of crew members [1997 Sailors] that also got to experience Constitution under sail, and they became a significant part of her history as a result."

Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. America's Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history.

Navy Personnel Command Leaders to Meet with Pensacola-based Sailors


From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Representatives from Navy Personnel Command's fleet engagement team will be in Pensacola, Fla., Aug. 28-30 to meet with Sailors and discuss the latest personnel policies and initiatives impacting the fleet.

The team will discuss recently announced initiatives like Limited Directed Detailing, Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Early Return to Sea, as well as Voluntary Sea Duty Program, all designed to ensure high-priority billets at sea are manned.

"The visit is intended to ensure command leadership teams understand current manpower programs as well as promote the professional and personal development of our Sailors," said Capt. Steve Holmes, Bureau of Naval Personnel, director, community management branch. "These visits are also an excellent opportunity to get feedback directly from the fleet."

Additional briefs will focus on Navy force management initiatives including Fleet Ride Perform-to-Serve (FR-PTS), enlisted and officer community health and recent changes to Career Management System Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID) the web-based program enlisted Sailors use to review and apply for permanent change of station (PCS) orders.

The changes to CMS/ID are part of the Navy's coordinated effort to aggressively address gaps at sea and place Sailors with the right experience levels and skill sets into high-priority Fleet billets. Detailers will fill all advertised billets each cycle so it is important that Sailors understand how this may impact them.

The team will conduct briefs at Corry Station, Aug. 28; Naval Air Station Pensacola (NAS), Aug. 29 and 30. Sailors should contact their command career counselor for times and locations. Spouses are also encouraged to attend. The team will present a Command Ombudsman/Spouse Career Information brief Aug. 29 on board NAS.

"The briefs are designed to provide information needed to make informed career decision. They target leadership, Sailors and spouses to give each the information needed in the current operating environment," said Holmes.

For more information, contact the Navy Personnel Command Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (827-5672) or via e-mail at CSCMailbox@navy.mil.

Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions Great Lakes Helps Prevent Suicides


By Sue Krawczyk, Training Support Center Great Lakes Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- The Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD), Great Lakes Chapter at Training Support Center (TSC), released a suicide prevention video on Facebook, Aug. 17, to help communicate a vital message in the Suicide Prevention Public Service Announcement Video Contest.

The goal of the contest is to promote awareness of suicide warning signs and bystander intervention from a Sailor's point of view.

The submissions must convey at least one of the two 2012 core suicide prevention program messages: "It's Okay to Speak Up When You're Down" and/or "Life is Worth Living."

The winning entry will be announced Sept. 28, to coincide with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The winning submission will be broadcast on Direct-to-Sailor Television and provided to the American Forces Network and Pentagon Channel.

"The message we're trying to get out with this video is to see a reaction to what certain people have," said Fire Control Technician Seaman Angus Heiman, president of CSADD, Great Lakes Chapter. "We want people to see the video and hopefully come out and talk about if they do have problems and, if their problems are hidden, this is finally going to be something that will show them, 'Hey, I have help available. I can go to people. I can talk to someone and they can help me get through my issues and problems.' We don't want people to keep hiding any more, this is what causes the trouble."

About 15 to 20 students spent about two weeks to create the 3-minute video. Helping with a large portion of its creation was Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Timothy C. Bradow, with the majority of the editing completed by Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Justin M. Jasinski. Assisting with the editing were Fire Control Technician Seaman Apprentice Jesse Shelton and Fire Control Technician Seaman Apprentice Joshua Angulo.

Chief Religious Program Specialist (SW/AW/FMF) Lawrence Pieper, suicide prevention coordinator for TSC and learning sites for the past three years, said there has not been a suicide at TSC in two years because of how proactive everyone is with one another.

"The reason why we haven't had one is because of Sailors looking after Sailors - peer-to-peer intervention," said Pieper. "That's what CSADD is about. It is truly about Sailors taking care of Sailors and making good corrective and right decisions."

Pieper hopes the video will remind all of this who come through the quarterdeck of the Navy, and hopefully the rest of the Navy.

"Suicide related behavior is a regular training topic for Sailors. Us old chiefs and officers that have been around for a while do not know a lot of the terminology or a lot of the words or triggers for today's Sailors. Some of the things that are normal indicators that we have been trained on are not normal indicators to these Sailors," said Pieper.

"The biggest thing is the emotion that it draws. That's what we're looking for out of this video," said Heiman. "Even with the first video we had there was emotion involved, then we went back and added more. It's about as top-notch perfect as we can get and everyone so far has said it's awesome."

Pieper believes the students are on point with their video because of their youthful motivation.

"It's fresh eyes - it's young men and women that's making this. They're not relying on someone who is 20 or 30 years into the military. I think the thing about CSADD that makes them so great is that they think so far outside the box. They're not put into the normal naval structure," said Pieper.

He hopes the command will be able to incorporate the video internally into their suicide program for the 14,000 students that come through annually and the 1,000+ staff members employed here.

"Suicide prevention is a hard topic to deal with, but if you reinforce the personal values of that individual to themselves that they are valuable to society, to their parents, to the organization, you will continually remind them of that," said Pieper. "One of the easiest things in the world to do is to say good morning because you never know - that may have been the best thing that happened to that person that day is that good morning."

Pentagon Aids Search for Missing Philippine Official


By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2012 – The Defense Department is helping the Philippine government search for the nation’s interior secretary, who has been missing since his plane crashed two days ago, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and two pilots have not been heard from since their small plane crashed about 500 meters offshore Aug. 18, Little told reporters. An aide escaped the plane after the crash, he added.

The Philippine government asked the United States for help in the search and rescue operation, Little said.

“Secretary Robredo is a respected and valuable leader and partner in the Philippines,” he said. “Our thoughts are with those in the aircraft, their families, and with the people of the Philippines during this difficult time.”

Little noted the United States provided initial aerial support following the plane crash upon request and is preparing to provide additional assistance. The Philippine government also has requested underwater assistance, and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has approved that assistance, Little said.

“We’re finalizing plans to support the search and rescue operation with underwater salvage assets,” he added.

Special Report Chronicles Chairman's Travels


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2012 - Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is traveling in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.

An American Forces Press Service special report at http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2012/0812_dempsey1/ brings you the latest stories and images from the chairman’s trip.