Military News

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Future USS Michael Murphy Sails Away from Shipyard



From Team Ships Public Affairs

BATH, Maine (NNS) -- The future USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) departed General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard Sept. 5 for New York City, where she will join the fleet in a commissioning ceremony, Oct. 6.

This milestone marks the completion of the initial 62-ship procurement for the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program, and the 34th DDG 51 class ship built at BIW, until the class-restart ships begin delivering in fiscal year 2016.

"This sailaway is a poignant milestone for both this ship and the program," said Capt. Mark Vandroff, DDG 51 class program manager for the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships (PEO Ships). "This has been, and continues to be, a tremendously successful shipbuilding program. I have every confidence that PCU Michael Murphy, as with the previous 61 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, will 'lead the fight' and make our world a safer, better place."

The new destroyer honors the late Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as leader of a Navy SEAL team in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. Maureen Murphy, Lt. Murphy's mother, will serve as the ship's sponsor.

"It's truly an honor for all of us that are part of this initial crew to not only bring this great warship into the Fleet, but to also do our part in upholding the legacy of Lt. Murphy and his 18 additional Operation Red Wings teammates that gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Cmdr. Tom Shultz, commanding officer of PCU Michael Murphy (DDG 112).

Shultz and many of the 280-person crew have trained in Bath for close to a year to safely sail the ship away and begin their transit to the ship's future homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, also the location of Lt. Murphy's former command, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1.

The DDG 51 class ship is a multi-mission, guided-missile destroyer designed to operate in multi-threat air, surface and sub-surface threat environments. The class of ship provides combat capability and survivability characteristics, while minimizing procurement and lifetime support costs due to the program's maturity. The DDG 51 program continues to reinforce affordability and efficiency in its shipbuilding program with a commitment to deliver ships at the highest possible quality and to manage a seamless transition to the Fleet.

As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships, an affiliated program executive office of the Naval Sea Systems Command, is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all major surface combatants, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. The majority of shipbuilding programs currently managed by PEO Ships are benefiting from serial production efficiencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.

Medalist Shares 'Humbling' Experience of Paralympic Competition



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

LONDON – The opportunity to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games and to represent the United States in front of huge crowds has been a humbling experience, a U.S. Paralympic swimmer said here today.

Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder spoke during a news conference here today, a day before the one-year anniversary of losing his sight in Afghanistan.

“I don't get nervous very easily,” he said. “I kind of pride myself on my stoicism and my ability to utilize my experiences in the Navy to stress-manage.

“But I got incredibly nervous the first time I came out in front of that crowd,” he continued. “It's a very, very humbling experience to stand in front of that many people, and try to keep that distraction out and perform the way you want to.”

Snyder, who lost his vision Sept. 7, 2011, in an improvised explosive device attack, has won two Paralympic medals here. He set a Paralympic record during the qualifying round of the 100-meter freestyle swim, with a time of 57.18 seconds. Later in the day, he captured a gold medal during the final round of the same event.

“Both times I hopped out from the box, it was definitely a challenge to mitigate that distraction and still do what I wanted to do,” Snyder said. “It was really just … a kind of 'in the clouds' type of experience.”

The Navy lieutenant said he was grateful his U.S. Paralympic swimming teammates were there to support him for his inaugural event.

“It was really amazing to have my teammates behind me in my first swim,” Snyder said. “It gave me a lot of confidence, gave me a lot of momentum, and it kind of released the burden of the rest of the weeks of competition.”

Snyder also credited his military service with providing several skills beneficial to him as a blind swimmer.

“I think that earlier on in the military, you are [learning] a lot of virtues that set you up for success -- whether it's initiative,  commitment … [or] just being a regimented person,” he said.

Being organized and motivated, Snyder said, were valuable tools he picked up in the Navy that have carried him throughout his military service.

“My entire naval career is all kind of built along this idea that I'm a go-getter,” he said. “I want to go out and … experience success in whatever realm is kind of put in front of me.

“Blindness was just a new problem-solving challenge to me. I prided myself on my ability to do that,” Snyder added. “And once I reconciled the fact that I wasn't going to be able to see again, I just saw it as a new challenge and a new barrier to move past. And that's how I moved forward.”

Snyder said his six years as a Navy diver translated to his abilities as a blind swimmer.

“Contrary to the public opinion of diving, we do a lot of diving where it's not like gorgeous fish and shipwrecks and stuff like that,” he said. “It's diving in silt … and having to do intricate tasks underwater, where you can't see anything. [Having to be] able to do things under the water, blind -- it's not the first time I've had to do any of those things.”

Snyder said he believes the best is yet to come in his endeavors as a Paralympic swimmer.

“We work real hard, and I don't think we've tapped the potential I've had, but I've had an amazing experience here so far in London,” Snyder said. “It's an honor just to be here competing with the other para-athletes.”

DoD Launches Tomodachi Registry Website



From Department of Defense

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Department of Defense (DoD) launched the Operation Tomodachi Registry website Sept. 5.

The website provides location-based radiation dose estimate reports for adults and children comprising the DoD-affiliated population on or near mainland Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011.

DoD-affiliated members who were in Japan during the nuclear reactor crisis, medical providers, and the public at large will be able to download location-based radiation dose estimate reports from the website. These reports include medical interpretations and provide comparisons of the Operation Tomodachi radiation doses with more commonly experienced radiation doses.

The website also includes information on the event, DoD's response to the crisis, and answers to frequently asked questions. By the end of the calendar year, individuals in the registry may request a dose assessment that is individually tailored for them, based on more detailed location data that they can provide using the "Contact Us" function on the Operation Tomodachi Registry website.

After extensive environmental monitoring and analysis, it has been determined that none of the nearly 70,000 members of the DoD-affiliated population (service members, DoD civilian employees and contractors, and family members of service members and civilian employees) who were on or near the mainland of Japan between March 12 and May 11, 2011, are known to have been exposed to radiation at levels associated with adverse medical conditions.

The Operation Tomodachi Registry, which will be housed in a secure database containing the names, locations, and radiation doses for all members of the DoD-affiliated population, will be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. Personally identified information will be omitted from this website.

Multinational Seminar Examines Violent Extremism



By Jason Tudor
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Professionals from 61 countries have gathered at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here to share ideas about countering violent extremism across the globe.

A senior executive seminar titled “Beyond Al Qaeda: How to Understand and Counter Violent Extremism” gathers 98 ministers, parliamentarians, general officers and other senior leaders from around the world.

The forum provides a unique opportunity for senior policy makers to seek common understanding to a problem that doesn’t recognize borders, said Marine Corps Col. Philip Lark, the seminar’s deputy director.

“Participants are engaging in candid discussion of violent extremist ideology and activity,” he said. “The seminar is facilitating a comprehensive, cooperative approach to the problem.”

With 25 lecturers -- including Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe -- scheduled over eight days, the agenda is a busy one. Lark said the idea was to gather as many diverse points of view as possible.

“This problem has deep roots and is without borders,” Lark said. “The solutions we attempt to gather must be comprehensive.”

In his opening remarks to the group, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, Marshall Center director, said the time this group has together is vital and should be a shared experience.

“You will get out of this course what you put into it,” Dayton said. “There will not be a ‘sage on the stage’ who will give you wisdom and you walk out feeling much better. This is your course, and it is interactive.”

About 80 NATO senior enlisted advisors will work alongside the seminar participants, including Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Roy M. Maddocks Jr., U.S. European Command’s command master chief; and Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard T. Small from NATO Allied Command Operations.

Also among the attendees are 10 general officers from the National Guard and Air National Guard via the State Partnership Program sponsored by Eucom.

The Marshall Center staff conducts two senior executive seminars each year. A seminar in January dealt with the “Arab Spring” and revolution across the Middle East. Like that previous seminar, Lark said, this seminar centers on real-world happenings. The event’s lectures and smaller-group studies bring them into sharp focus, he added.

“Everything within the seminar is designed to deepen our understanding of the linkages between extremism, radical violence, globalization, and religious and cultural differences,” Lark said. “Participant expertise and experience will add context to these discussions. Extremists of all determinations pose a dangerous threat to global security and must be examined with equal diligence –- fighting extremism must be done with both determination and insight.”

Lark said the goal is for participants to return home with a deeper awareness of key issues that influence national, regional and international security; the factors that shape security strategy; and the components of cooperative security in an interdependent world.

Kosovo deployment nearing end for Wisconsin aviators



By Spc. Joshua Barnett
MNBG E Public Affairs

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Task Force Talon, the Multinational Battle Group East aviation unit that includes West Bend-based aviation Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard, transferred authority for its peacekeeping mission to Task Force Cash during a Sept. 1 ceremony.

"This ceremony not only marks the end of our deployment in Kosovo, but it marks the end of a journey that lasted two years for us," said Lt. Col. William G. Watson, Task Force Talon commander, from the North Dakota National Guard. "We met in fall of 2010 at the joint assessment and I knew we had a good team right from the beginning."

The outgoing task force was made up of Army National Guard Soldiers from New Jersey, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The Wisconsin Soldiers - from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment and Detachment 1, Company B, 248th Aviation Support Battalion - supported the Kosovo Force (KFOR) medevac mission and the headquarters, lift and maintenance units. They have been deployed to Kosovo for a year in support of NATO's Operation Joint Guardian, a peacekeeping mission to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all residents of Kosovo.

"Our multinational battle group is quite unique," said MNBG E Commander Col. Jeffrey J. Liethen of the Wisconsin National Guard. "It consists of a diverse group of soldiers from nine nations, and each soldier brings special skills and capabilities to the battle group. Although we each come from different backgrounds, we share the same common goal of wanting to provide a peaceful and safe society for the people of Kosovo."
Aviation duties for this mission have now been assumed by National Guard Soldiers from Arkansas, California, Hawaii and South Carolina.

"Col. Watson and his team, thank you for the tremendous support that you have given us during the [relief in place] process," said Lt. Col. Matthew A. McDermott, Task Force Cash commander. Relief in place is the transition process from the departing unit to the incoming unit that includes final training and local mission familiarization. "The things you have gone over with my team truly will set us up for success for our rotation."

According to Liethen, Task Force Talon flew more than 2,800 accident-free hours during their year in Kosovo. They transported more than 2,600 passengers and 238 tons of supplies and equipment, completed 30 medevac missions and trained nearly 5,000 U.S. and multinational Soldiers on how to safely load and unload lift and medevac aircraft.

The Task Force also provided direct support to important KFOR missions - including the Rudare roadblock removal - through troop insertion, medevac support and by providing continuous overhead surveillance to provide real-time tactical information.

Behind the scenes, the aviation maintenance and headquarters companies provided operational aircraft, supplies, equipment, information and personnel support. The personnel section identified more than $125,000 in pay and bonuses due to Task Force Talon Soldiers. The logistics section maintained accountability of more than $65 million in equipment. A recent Aviation Resource Management Survey found Task Force Talon to be in 100 percent compliance regarding safety, operations and training, maintenance and facilities programs.

The Wisconsin National Guard aviation Soldiers are expected back in West Bend around mid-September. The approximately 30 Soldiers left Wisconsin Sept. 24 of last year for about two months of training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., prior to deploying to Kosovo in November. They are among the elements of the Milwaukee-based 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade that assumed command of Multinational Battle Group East last Dec. 10.