Military News

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reservist places at international golf tournament

by Sandra Pishner
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- It was a scramble. And not the golf kind, although it did result in a McChord Reservist tying for second place in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Golf Championship, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 13-19.

Tech. Sgt. Stephen Rude shot 69, 72, 79, and 72 for the four day tournament, giving him a total of 293 and tying for second place. Due to tie breaker rules, Rude, a California native, received the bronze medal for the tournament. Team USA dominated the tournament taking first place with second place Bahrain 79 strokes back. Team USA men individuals took gold, silver, and bronze.

Rude, from the 446th Maintenance Squadron, made a last minute decision to apply for the Air Force Golf Tournament at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and he credits his squadron mates with scrambling to get his orders together and supporting his first foray into the military world of golf tournaments.

"I was amazed at how much support I got to go to this, considering I had only been an air reserve technician for about four months," said Rude.

Rude has been a traditional Reservist since 2009 working in the sheet metal shop for his squadron.

No stranger to local golf tournaments, Rude had never, in his 30 years of golfing, considered he would be eligible to apply for the Air Force golf team. Then, he learned from a friend that yes, Reservists could also apply. And so he did.

"The crazy part is that my friend, who's been there a few times, didn't get picked this year. Part of the reason I applied is I thought I would be able to see him," Rude said with a laugh.

At the Air Force tournament, Rude shot 76, 75, 77, and 77; earning sixth place to make it on the Air Force team and advancing to the Armed Forces Golf Tournament.

The 2012 Armed Forces Championship was held Oct. 4-10 at NAS Jacksonville, with teams from across the services. The Air Force men dominated the tournament with 9-under par and a 65-stroke lead to take the team gold for the ninth consecutive year.

Rude shot 76, 75, 72, and 74 to place seventh individually. The top six individuals were selected to make up Team USA to compete at the world championship. Andy Aduddell and Tyler Goulding, the two Air Force players, were unable to attend the Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Golf Championship, opening up two spots and allowing Rude to slide into the fifth spot on the team.

"I knew a couple of guys couldn't make it the next week for the world championships, so I took one of their spots, and then I took second at the world championships," explained Rude.

The world championship was also at NAS Jacksonville.

"I actually played a lot better the very last week (at the world championship)," said Rude, who lives in Graham, Wash.

"It was lot different than normal tournaments for me. There was a lot of pressure I put on myself because (the squadron) did a lot to get me there. The pressure was really immense until the very last week. I knew I wasn't the best golfer on our team, but there was no pressure at the world championship because I was as far as I was going to go. So I ended up playing a lot better."

Eleven nations competed in the seventh installment of the Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Golf Championship. Including the U.S., teams competing were from Bahrain, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Namibia, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Spain, and Zambia.

"The tournament it wasn't any different; golf is golf," said Rude. "But it was a different atmosphere. A lot of players spent time mingling after a day of golf and it was much more fun. I was telling people about when I met team members from Spain. First thing they start speaking Spanish to me. I have dark skin so a lot of people think I look kind of Hispanic," Rude said.

"The overall atmosphere was great," said NAS Jacksonville Director of Golf Joe Carreiro. "In each day's pairings at least one person was from a different country to promote the friendship through sport. New friendships were established this week. The camaraderie increased as the week went on."

And as with many international competitions, there was a lot of bartering and trading of mementos.

"The CISM tradition of gift sharing and trading of jerseys went on throughout the week," said Carreiro. "You also saw the team spirit when players who finished early went back on the golf course to cheer on their fellow teammates and show good will to players of other nations."

"We weren't allowed to exchange (golf) gear until the very last day," said Rude. "Then the very last day it was like a free for all; like an old world bazaar. I feel like I got a lot of stuff from every single country, except maybe Namibia," he said.

Rude is guaranteed an invitation to next year's Air Force tournament.

Reservists can carry leave balance after training tours


by Col. Bob Thompson
Air Force Reserve Public Affairs


10/31/2012 - WASHINGTON -- In a "one-step-at-a-time" approach, Air Force officials have a new program for reservists to save and carryover leave time from year to year beginning Nov. 1.

Reservists performing duty under the Reserve Personnel Appropriation or RPA orders may now "save" their leave for future use. Prior to this change, reservists were required to use or sell leave earned on orders of 30 days or more.

RPA is a pay account specifically designed to pay reservists who are on a training tour of duty.

Any Airman serving a month of duty garners 2.5 days of leave. Previously, only Airmen in the Regular Air Force were allowed to save and carry up to 60 days of leave on the books as they cross the "use or lose" deadline on Oct. 1, each year.

Reservists cannot save their leave for next year if they are working on active duty under Military Personnel Appropriation orders, or MPA; as well as, in direct support of war taskings under Overseas Contingency Operations funds, or OCO. No action is required by reservists since the military's computer software automatically sells the leave and pays it to the service member.

Local military personnel flights can provide more information about the AFR Leave Carryover Program.

Defense Department Continues Supporting Storm Response


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 – The Defense Department continues to provide disaster response resources and capabilities as requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Given the size and scope of the storm and its continuing impact throughout the eastern and northeastern United States, Pentagon officials said, the department is actively posturing forces to support civil authorities via U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau, with a particular emphasis on flood mitigation and energy restoration.

Today, DOD has focused on providing recovery support as requested by FEMA in coordination with federal, state and local partners with a single set of objectives -- saving lives, providing shelter, and helping restore communities, officials said.

About 10,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen are on duty supporting the governors in 13 Eastern Seaboard states. Dual-status commanders authorized to command both state National Guard and federal forces have been approved for Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The special status enables the commanders to effectively integrate defense support and capabilities the governors request, officials explained.

The National Guard is working closely with state emergency response planners and providing input where necessary to identify and fill capability gaps.

Guard forces under state control are assembling and staging personnel; providing communications, shelter, engineer, evacuation, security, and high-water vehicle support; high-water search and rescue; debris removal; and transportation.

National Guard civil support teams are on stand-by for hazardous material response and providing a communications capability bridge between first responders and other local, state and federal agencies.

In West Virginia, the National Guard is patrolling Interstate 68 for stranded motorists and assisting the power company with generators.

Based on a request from the Department of Health and Human Services, DOD's U.S. Transportation Command airlifted about 120 medical personnel to New York City to augment medical staff providing care to nursing homes and at-risk elderly patients. Aircraft are standing by to support further missions, and medical personnel are being brought in from Colorado, Ohio and Texas.

The Defense Logistics Agency is providing fuel, fuel transportation, commodities and expeditionary teams to support FEMA and the Energy Department.

The Army Corps of Engineers has received 25 mission assignments from FEMA, with more than 400 people engaged to support the response mission.

The Corps of Engineers’ priority is support to the New York City flood mitigation mission, deploying technical assistance and senior leadership oversight while working to identify and deploy 100 high-volume water pumps to FEMA mobilization centers. This is in addition to the 100 water pumps U.S. Northern Command is sourcing at FEMA's request, officials said.

The Corps of Engineers also is supporting states' and FEMA operations centers in three regions to organize response efforts. More than 20 team leaders or assistant team leaders have been alerted or deployed to provide public works and engineering expertise, such as damage modeling, storm surge modeling, and coastal preparations.

Other planning response teams remain on alert for debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing. Additional temporary power teams have been placed on alert status.

Corps of Engineers senior leaders, power response teams, 249th Engineer Battalion Technical Assistance personnel and other technical experts are providing assistance at various locations.

To support the emergency temporary power mission in New York and New Jersey, the Corps of Engineers has staged 200 generators at four locations to provide capacity beyond state's capabilities. FEMA will deploy them as they are needed, officials said.

The Corps of Engineers is shipping 25 pumps from New Orleans and is meeting with other private pump suppliers to determine availability and capacity of pumps that could be delivered to the New York area.

Upon receiving a temporary power mission assignment from FEMA, the Corps of Engineers has deployed four planning and response teams, the 249th Engineer Battalion, six emergency command and control vehicles/deployable tactical operating systems and a mobile command vehicle. The Corps of Engineers also received a mission assignment from FEMA to provide 80 truckloads of water to West Virginia.

Army Corps of Engineers operations centers in affected districts have been activated, and emergency response assets are providing support around the clock, officials said. The Corps of Engineers also has assigned a liaison to the Energy Department and to the National Guard Bureau to coordinate combined response actions.

Pentagon Has Full Confidence in Africom Commander, Little Says


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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 – Defense Department leaders remain fully confident in the commander of U.S. Africa Command, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told Pentagon reporters here today.

Little said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, maintain complete faith in the job Army Gen. Carter F. Ham is doing as Africom’s leader.

“General Ham is doing an exceptional job leading Africa Command. He has the full confidence of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” he said.

“His decision to retire has been an entirely personal decision to move on,” Little said. “People retire at certain stages of their career and that’s what’s happening in this case.”

President Barack Obama announced Oct. 18 his plans to nominate Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez to succeed Ham as leader of Africom, the newest combatant command, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. The command encompasses all of Africa and its adjacent waters except for Egypt.

The chairman dismissed alleged reasons for Ham’s departure in an Oct. 29 statement.

"The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command due to events in Benghazi, Libya, on [Sept. 11,] 2012 is absolutely false,” Dempsey said in his statement. “General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been ongoing since July. He continues to serve in Africom with my complete confidence."

Little also dispelled rumors that Ham will step down from his position next year for any reason other than personal choice.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and speculation, particularly in the blogosphere, about General Ham,” he said. “And that speculation and those rumors are absolutely, categorically false.”

“He will continue to lead Africa Command,” he said, “and he is on the job, doing it effectively, and we expect him to do so until he retires and transitions to General Rodriguez -- if General Rodriguez is confirmed by the United States Senate.”

The press secretary said he didn’t have a timeline for when Ham will step down and Rodriguez might assume command.

“A lot of it will depend on Senate action,” Little said. “We believe the hearings will take place in the next couple of months, and then we’ll decide when a change of command is appropriate.”

Greenert Uses Position Report to Check Course of Navy


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 – While generally satisfied with the progress of the service, the Navy’s top officer is using his latest position report to assess the effects of “set and drift” on the status of the U.S. Navy.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert spoke about his report – issued yesterday – during a roundtable with reporters in his Pentagon office today.

Set and drift at sea “is current, it’s wind, it’s things you didn’t think about – something that takes you a little bit off,” he said. “Then you deal with it, you adjust a bit, and you move on ahead.”

Position Report: 2012 addresses what the Navy needs to work on, the admiral said. The report is based on the three tenets of the service: “Warfighting first, operate forward and be ready.”

Much of what the service planned when Greenert came into his position last year, he said, is on track.

The Navy has reinforced aid to warfighters by deploying new mine hunting and neutralizing equipment to the Arabian Gulf, and also has fielded improved torpedoes, advanced electromagnetic sensors and up-gunned patrol craft in the region. And the USS Ponce is deployed to the region as a forward staging base.

The Navy and Marine Corps are working to reinvigorate amphibious warfare skills, Greenert said. In the past year, 25 ships and 14,000 sailors and Marines honed those skills in Exercise Bold Alligator, he noted.

Operating forward has meant an increasing number of ships and sailors deploying, the admiral said. The Navy has made progress in rebalancing ships’ homeports to 60 percent in the Pacific and 40 percent in the Atlantic, rather than the 50-50 split that was the norm before a shift in strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

Being ready has meant filling billets on ships. The Navy has improved advancement and re-enlistment opportunities across the board by reducing overmanned ratings and revising re-enlistment processes to ensure fairness, the admiral said in his report.

An enlisted retention board also affected the service. “The impact of it, what we needed to do, the marketing of it, making sure it’s transparent, making sure we give our folks every opportunity to do a deliberate transition for them” are important and must be accomplished, the admiral said.

The board was needed “to get our fit right – to get our people in billets at sea where they need to be, [with] the right skill set, with the right seniority in the right rating,” he explained. The admiral said the Navy will not conduct another enlisted retention board during his watch.

Greenert said he expects the Navy will fill the personnel gaps and will have the right mix for the fleet, and that the effort would be complete in September.

But “set and drift” did affect the service over the past year, Greenert acknowledged.

“The thing that we didn’t foresee a year ago was the level of [operational tempo] that the Navy has,” he said. “Mainly, it is the request for forces that extended past their deployments.” The need for two carriers in the Arabian Gulf, four extra minesweepers in the Arabian Gulf and more helicopters in the region was “not anticipated to continue as long,” he added.

Looking ahead, Greenert said, he will reinstate tracking of individual operational tempo. “This is important for the overall health of the force,” he said.

Another area that needs more attention, the admiral said, is the crime of sexual assault. “The number of events being reported has not declined, and I’m not satisfied,” he said. “There will be a renewed emphasis. I like the strategy we have in place. I am satisfied that the track laid out by the Navy is good, but I personally am going to put more attention on that.”

The number of suicides in the Navy is creeping up, “and we don’t know why,” Greenert said.
“We need to work on that -- work on the resilience of our folks, make sure the programs we are putting in place are properly implanted and getting to the people who need them,” he said.
Greenert said he will issue more position reports as warranted.

Winnefeld: Returning Veterans Need Nation’s Support


By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 – The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised caregivers and other people and organizations that support the nation’s military veterans at an event here yesterday.

Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., who spoke at the Military Officers Association of America Community Heroes Award Dinner, also extended his thoughts and prayers to Hurricane Sandy victims, noting the Defense Department is teaming with other federal agency and state and local partners in response and recovery efforts.

“We in DOD are working very, very hard in support of our civilian partners [and] in support of the various states that have been impacted by this [storm],” Winnefeld said.

Turning to the association hosting the event, he noted that the nonprofit organization’s legacy of support for the military can be traced to its 1920s roots in Southern California, with an enduring focus on advocacy for and assistance to fellow and former members of the military.

“We recognize the ongoing efforts of … individuals, organizations and family members who comprise the sea of goodwill and have made such a tremendous difference,” Winnefeld said.

He reminded attendees that “half a world away,” the nation remains at war.

“We’ve already furled the battle flags from Iraq,” Winnefeld said. “We need to make sure that our support for these men and women doesn’t fade over time, long after the battle flags from Afghanistan are furled over the next couple of years.”

Winnefeld listed several steps Americans should take to assist Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

“As our troops transition to civilian life, we have to continue to highlight that employing a veteran is not charity,” Winnefeld said. “Who better to hire than someone with transportable skills, who has ingrained discipline and … so clearly [demonstrates] the willingness to sacrifice for something bigger than themselves?”
With a 12 percent unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans and a million more service members preparing to re-enter the workforce in coming years, Americans must do more to ensure veterans have a place to sleep at night, Winnefeld said.

“Tonight, one-third of the entire adult homeless population in our nation is veterans,” Winnefeld said.
Despite charities in Washington and beyond aimed at reducing homelessness among the veteran population through housing, employment assistance and career counseling programs, he noted, more than 67,000 former troops sleep on the streets.

“There’s more we can do to both prevent this from happening in the first place and … get those who have fallen into homelessness back on their feet … into the workplace and … [into] a proper home,” he said.

The admiral also noted caregivers’ attention to wounded warriors and gave thanks for the technical advances over the last decade during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including rapid movement from the battlefield and post-battlefield medical care.

“We’re … grateful for the immediate caregivers, the remarkable, dedicated medical professionals we have across the spectrum of care,” Winnefeld said. “From battlefield corpsmen … to those in … facilities in Afghanistan … [and at] Landstuhl, to the people who receive and transport … wounded warriors, to [continental U.S.] medical facilities.”

The admiral praised the professionals who saved many American warriors, noting more lives would have been lost in earlier wars.

“Thankfully, as these warriors return to a grateful nation, they will be with us for decades, but that means we need to make sure we take care of them and their unseen and seen wounds for decades,” Winnefeld said.
Injured veterans require the support and attention of caregivers, communities and families, who all, in turn, need the nation’s support, the admiral said.

“This is a family business we’re in … and the role … these essential caregivers [fill] is indescribable in its importance and sacrifice,” Winnefeld said. “These people literally drop everything for years at a time to care for our injured, giving up their careers and their lives … they are patriots, and we must do all we can to provide them the direct and indirect support that they need and deserve.”

Other caregivers, Winnefeld added, push the bounds of military medicine and therapy in areas such as prosthetics and physical rehabilitation, giving courage and hope to a new generation of wounded warriors.
“Thanks to all these caregivers, our wounded sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have a future that’s brighter than ever before,” Winnefeld said. “Yet even with [the] outstanding support of our caregivers, our collective work is not complete; there’s more work to do.”

The admiral encouraged the nation to renew its resolve to provide a continuum of care that reflects the same level of commitment veterans have shown their country on the battlefield.

“Together, we can continue to fulfill the commitment to those who have worn the cloth of our nation,” Winnefeld said.

Mexican general gets firsthand look at MAFFS

by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs


10/31/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd Airlift Wing Chief of Aerial Fire Fighting, shows Gen. Guillermo Galvan Galvan, Secretary of National Defense, Mexico, a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System unit during a tour here Oct. 19.

More than 30 Air Force Reservists and two MAFFS-equipped C-130s from the 302nd AW flew MAFFS missions to suppress a 245,000 acre wildfire in northern Mexico in April, 2011. The tour was part of Galvan's last visit as Secretary of National Defense before he steps down from his position Dec. 1.

As part of the visit, Galvan visited with local community organizations. After speaking at a gathering of NORAD and USNORTHCOM members, honors were rendered in front the headquarters, where Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander presented Galvan with an engraved artillery casing and the Mexican flag flown in front of the building.

Galvan is credited with enhancing the partnership between SEDENA (The Mexican Secretariat of National Defense) and USNORTHCOM which is essential in the fight against transnational criminal organizations. This partnership in the counter-TCO mission is one of USNORTHCOM's top priorities, and the command is committed to working together with the Mexican military against TCOs.

Coast Guard Aids Sandy Victims on Eastern Seaboard

By Coast Guard Lt. Stephanie Young
U.S. Coast Guard Compass Blog

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 – Coast Guard helicopter crews are busy responding to requests to rescue people who were trapped in their homes, while other Coast Guard members are providing additional response and recovery assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the nation’s Eastern Seaboard.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
An MH-65T Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City rescues three people stranded in their homes in New York boroughs that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 30, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Atlantic City
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Coast Guard aircrews were sent from air stations Atlantic City and Cape Cod to provide search and rescue response. Yesterday, three people -- trapped in their New York boroughs home from the extreme high tides -- were saved by a MH-65T Dolphin aircrew. As the three people were taken to an area hospital, another crew assisted New York Police marine units with nine people in distress.

Despite the hard work of emergency responders, people are still in need. Airboats that are traditionally used for ice rescues in the Great Lakes region were dispatched from the 9th Coast Guard District. These unique boats can operate in shallow water and are able to provide assistance in flooded communities.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Coast Guardsmen from stations in Ohio and Michigan deployed to the East Coast to support Sandy response operations.

“We are providing crewmembers and assets that are normally used for ice rescue operations and are now going to be used in a completely different environment,” said Coast Guard Capt. Jeff Ogden, commander of Sector Detroit. “There are millions of people affected by this storm, and we are ready to assist them in any way we can.”

The Coast Guard is coordinating with partners to assess damage in ports and waterways. Maritime transportation system recovery units are in place to coordinate the reopening and survey of local waterways and facilities. Coast Guard crews -- in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, local harbor pilots and state and local authorities – are inspecting shoreside facilities for damage.

At sea, buoy positions will be checked to ensure vessels can navigate the shipping channels safely. Crews are in the process of identifying new hazards or areas where shoaling has occurred because of sand disturbed by Sandy. Along with debris and obstructions in the water, several boats are adrift along the entire Eastern Seaboard.

“We are continuing to work closely with our partner agencies to assess damage to our ports and waterways,” said Coast Guard Capt. Joseph Vojvodich, commander of Sector Long Island Sound. “Boaters are reminded to stay off the water until the waterways are reopened. If you have a recreational boat or watercraft that has come free from its mooring, please report it to the Coast Guard immediately. This can save valuable search-and-rescue resources from unnecessarily looking for a missing person.”

The remnants of Hurricane Sandy continue to pose a danger, and activities on the water should be avoided for the next few days, officials said. The public is advised to stay clear of beaches as currents remain a danger. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents in the wake of storms. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

The storm is still powerful as it inches across Pennsylvania. Those still in the storm’s path should stay informed and be prepared. As the nation continues to assess the storm’s impact on communities along the Atlantic Seaboard, Coast Guard units will respond and remain at the ready.