Monday, August 27, 2012

Thousands of Guardsmen Available to Governors in Isaac’s Path

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2012 – More than 33,500 National Guard personnel and nearly 100 aircraft are available to the governors of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, as Tropical Storm Isaac threatens states along the Gulf of Mexico, Defense Department officials said today.

Army Maj. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, Mississippi’s adjutant general, called about 1,500 National Guard personnel to state active duty this morning in support of emergency operations in anticipation of the storm’s potential landfall on or near the Mississippi Gulf Coast later this week. Guard soldiers and airmen will begin arriving today in coastal counties, preparing to support security operations, search and rescue, debris removal and commodity distribution, officials said.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal has activated 4,126 National Guard personnel to assist with evacuation and logistics.

Defense Department facilities near Isaac's projected path are taking actions to alert, prepare and secure their equipment, facility and personnel for the storm. Homestead Air Reserve Base, MacDill Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base, Duke Field and Hurlburt Field in Florida, as well as Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., have relocated their aircraft, or have evacuations in progress, officials said.

In a conference call with reporters today, Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, said people should not take the storm lightly.

“In this case we have a tropical storm that we’re forecasting to become a hurricane,” he said, “and it certainly concerns me that people don’t take it seriously, because right now they see it as a tropical storm and may not believe that it’s going to strengthen.

“We cannot guarantee 100 percent how much it’s going to strengthen,” he continued. “We’re forecasting Category 1. It could end up being a little stronger than that, perhaps a 2, [or] it could end up being a little weaker than that, perhaps a tropical storm. That’s strong enough, in any of those cases, to produce problems with regard to wind and wind damage.”

A tropical storm packs winds up to 74 mph. A Category 1 hurricane has winds up to 95 mph andA Category 2 storm’s winds are in the 96 to 110 mph range. U.S. Northern Command is coordinating the Defense Department’s support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local response activities.

The command has activated portions of its Region 6 Defense Coordinating Office and Defense Coordinating Element to Baton Rouge, La., to validate, plan and coordinate potential DOD support of FEMA's hurricane response operations and to facilitate DOD's support of potential life-saving and response operations, Northcom officials said in a news release.

Northcom also has deployed portions of its Region 1 DCO and DCE to Clanton, Ala., and its Region 7 DCO and DCE to Pearl, Miss., to backfill the Region 4 DCO and DCE members, who are deployed to the Florida Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

Additionally, the command has designated Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., and Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., as incident support bases.

(Claudette Roulo of American Forces Press Service contributed to this report.)

George Washington Gears Up for CART II

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tatiana Avery, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) began command assessment of readiness and training (CART) II Aug. 26.

CART II is an assessment and opportunity to train both the aircraft carrier's training teams and watchstanders in all required primary warfare areas, and to maximize effectiveness of the crew in leveraging fleet operations and exercises in carrying out 7th Fleet mission.

"It's a baseline assessment of our training and our ability to respond to casualties," said Senior Chief Damage Controlman Gary Wise, from Clearwater, Fla., a senior member of George Washington's Damage Control Training Team (DCTT).

All George Washington Sailors play an instrumental role in maintaining the conditional readiness of the ship. Special groups such as the flying squad conduct drills and scenarios responding to fires, flooding and toxic gas leaks.

The rest of the crew has been preparing for CART II by training in repair lockers during general quarters drills; the training includes firefighting, shoring, pipe-patching, first aid and other tasks to respond to actual casualties.

According to Master Chief Engineman Mike Piazza, from Haskell, N.J., a senior Engineering Casualty Control Training Team (ECCTT) member, the CART II inspection also serves as a vital opportunity to re-train all Sailors in their "Zebra" setting skills, as well as provides training to new Sailors.

"The training can become repetitive after a while, but it's important for all of the Sailors and the flying squad to be familiar with handling any scenario; especially when there's an actual casualty because you never know what to expect," said Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Sarah Torp. "Sometimes it can be even worse than what you think."

As the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, George Washington conducts its CART II and final evaluation period (FEP) inspections annually as opposed to every 18 months.

 "We have to always be ready to respond to any call or crisis in this area and we have to respond quickly," said Wise. "That's our mission and regardless of CART II or any other inspection, we are committed to not only being efficient but correct when it comes to training."

 George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

USS Missouri Sailors Visit the "Show Me State"

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) -- Just slightly beyond the two-year commissioning anniversary of USS Missouri (SSN 780), the commanding officer, chief of the boat and three Sailors will visit their namesake state, Aug. 26-30.

Cmdr. Mike Luckett, who took command of Missouri in April 2012, will embark on his first namesake state visit since assuming command of the Virginia-class attack submarine. The crew's visit will serve as commemoration of the submarine's entry into the U.S. Navy, and will allow the crew to connect with the citizens of Missouri.

"This will be my first official visit to Missouri and it's a great honor to visit our namesake state," said Luckett. "I'm looking forward to meeting with the USS Missouri Commissioning Committee and all the citizens of Missouri who've provided such great support to the ship and our crew throughout the ship's life."

During the visit to the "Show Me State," Luckett and his crew members will participate in a three-city tour across the state, with stops in Kansas City, Jefferson City, and St. Louis.

Samuel M. Bushman, chairman of the USS Missouri Commissioning Committee said he looks forward to the visit by the commanding officer and crew of USS Missouri. "The USS Missouri Commissioning Committee takes great pride as an ongoing support system for our Sailors who serve to guard our freedom," said Bushman.

While in Kansas City, the crew will visit with patients at Children's Mercy Hospital and tour historical landmarks. Luckett added that this is one of the stops his crew is looking forward to most.

"It will be a wonderful opportunity to talk with the patients at Children's Mercy Hospital and to share with them a little of what we do to serve our nation and the citizens of Missouri," said Luckett.

During their visit to Jefferson City, which was named for Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, the crew will tour the Missouri State Capitol and meet with Gov. Jay Nixon.

They will also visit with the American Legion, Submarine Veterans, the Navy League of the United States/Mid-Missouri Council, and USS Missouri Commissioning Committee members. While in Jefferson City, the Sailors will meet and speak with middle and high school students in science, math and history classes at the various schools in Jefferson City.

During their final leg of their visit, in St. Louis, the crew members will share their military experiences and mentor the Cleveland High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NRJOTC) Unit.

The crew will also meet local officials, including St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and speak to local members of the Commissioning Committee as well as other supporters of the military.

Missouri is the seventh submarine of the Virginia class, built for the U.S. Navy by General Dynamics Electric Boat and commissioned July 2010. The submarine's crew consists of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel. Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State."

Swift Crew Meets with Cameroon Military and Civilian Leadership at Start of APS Visit

By Ensign Joe Keiley, High Speed Vessel Swift 2 Swift Public Affairs

DOUALA, Cameroon (NNS) -- The leadership of Military Sealift Command-chartered High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) began a week of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West 2012 engagements in Port of Douala Aug. 27 with several office visits with the military and political leaders in the region.

The ship arrived in Cameroon Aug. 26 after leaving Nigeria, following a weeklong APS visit there.

Swift's Military Detachment Officer-in-Charge Lt.Cmdr. Brad Fillius met with the various leaders of the commands and departments that will be impacted the most by the APS events scheduled for the week.

"Today was probably the busiest day of meeting dignitaries thus far, but also the most enjoyable because we were able to get the word out about what we're doing here and hope to accomplish, and get the feedback for future APS visits," said Fillius.

The delegation from Swift visited the regional governor's office for Douala, commander of the 2nd Joint Military Region, Commandant of the 2nd Gendarmerie Region, Commanding Officer Douala Naval Base, Surfaces Forces Commander, as well as the Douala Mayor's office.

"These visits remind us of the importance of the sea; paying attention to the sea is a new way of thinking for us," said Capt. Lucien Dzou, commander Douala Naval Base. "The training is great too, because when you train one man, you train many more, so APS has been really great for us."

The visits allowed for an exchange of information on the APS program which includes the classroom instruction that began Monday with courses on port security, Marine Corps martial arts, non-commissioned officer leadership, and maritime domain awareness and oil platform protection classes. All the classes seek to build partnerships and knowledge to confront the emerging issues a nation like Cameroon faces.

"Piracy is a new threat to Cameroon and we are doing everything we can to fight it," said Major Gen. Mahamadou Saly, 2nd Joint Military Region commander.

Swift's embarked medical team is also working closely with the Cameroon military doctors to exchange information and expertise. Swift's crew plans on playing a soccer game with the Cameroonians and sprucing up a local orphanage by painting it during a community outreach event.

The crew will invite distinguished visitors aboard ship for a reception Aug. 29 giving guests the chance to see the ship, understand its capabilities and build relationships that will foster cooperation for future visits.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative intended to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

HSV 2 Swift is an Australian built, privately-owned, privately-operated vessel that has been outfitted for the U.S. Navy. Swift is manned by contract mariners who operate the ship, navigation, and engineering, while the military detachment oversees theater security cooperation efforts.

National Guard units in Southeast on alert for Isaac's impact

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. (8/2712) - Army and Air National Guard elements throughout the southeastern United States are preparing for Tropical Storm Isaac, which is making its way past the Florida Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that as the storm moves through the Gulf it will grow to hurricane strength by the time it makes landfall on the northern Gulf coast sometime Tuesday.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency and has activated 30 National Guard personnel. About 5,800 personnel are available in Florida if needed.

A state of emergency has also been declared by the governors of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama in advance of the storm. There are approximately 10 Alabama National Guard personnel that have been activated with another 70 Soldiers and Airmen set to be called up for a state mission today.

In Mississippi, Army Maj. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, the adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, has called approximately 1,500 Guard personnel to state active duty in support of emergency operations in anticipation of Isaac’s landfall on or near the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Soldiers and Airmen will begin arriving today in the coastal counties preparing to support security operations, search and rescue, debris removal and water and ice distribution.

The Louisiana National Guard has called up on state active duty orders approximately 4100 Soldiers and Airmen in preparation of the storm making landfall.    

In Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee officials have identified National Guard units that may be needed. Those Soldiers and Airmen are on a heightened state of awareness.

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Army National Guard had approximately 50 Soldiers from the 190th Engineer Battalion on duty in response to the storm. Generator repair technicians from the unit repaired four generators at a nearby fire station.

 And at the National Guard Bureau elements have been on duty monitoring the storm.

"The National Guard Bureau's Crisis Management Element has been alerted to work 24/7 to assist affected states in positioning people and equipment to facilitate the most effective response to the storm," National Guard Bureau officials said.