Military News

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Battaglia Discusses Resilience Program at Air Force Event

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2012 – The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed his approach to health, mission and morale during the Air Force Reserve Wingman Day here yesterday.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia explained how Total Force Fitness, the profession of arms and “bridging the basics” have been the cornerstones of the Defense Department’s overall resilience program.
The sergeant major related his enthusiasm about the “simplistic definition” of Wingman Day, which, he said, provides skills and strategy related to health, mission performance and unit cohesion.

“Fitness is more than running, pull-ups and push-ups [and the] Wingman Day concept is more than an event -- it’s a culture of airmen taking care of airmen, 24-7, 365 days a year,” Battaglia said.

Battaglia described the Total Force Fitness concept, a holistic approach to mental and physical health intended to build resiliency. The program divides major aspects of the military member’s life into eight “wedges,” he said, including social, emotional, psychological, spiritual, environmental, physical, behavioral and medical and dental facets.

Described in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3405.01, the Total Force Fitness program is a plan for understanding, assessing and maintaining service members' well-being and sustaining their ability to carry out missions.

Battaglia credited his upbringing as a Marine to his ongoing investment in the profession of arms.

“It doesn’t matter what rank or specialty you are … we’re going through some challenges with transformation and understanding in defining our profession,” Battaglia said. “The oath is a stepping stone; it’s the basic training syllabus that really makes an enlisted member become a member of the profession.”
The oath, according to Battaglia, is the tie that binds the military.

“From the most-senior [noncommissioned officer] in the armed forces to the most-junior E-1 who just graduated, the oath is identical,” Battaglia said of the vow to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. “For the most part, the message remains the same.”

Battaglia also focused on another enduring military theme, going “back to basics” by preparing service members for a home-station-based military with a lower operations tempo as the wars abroad draw down.
Service members who joined the military in the years following 9/11 can learn from those who experienced a peacetime military, he said.

“Growing up in a period that was so heavily garrisoned during the late ’70s, ’80s and even some of the ’90s … being molded and developed … we cracked the code on how to live and survive in that world,” the sergeant major said.

He shared an anecdote about trying to explain to a young soldier that the military would go “back to basics,” to which the soldier replied, “Whose basics, yours, sergeant major? I don’t know what those are; I’ve never been there.”

Battaglia said he soon realized the value in both the operational and administrative basics of new and older generations.

“It’s not like we can completely return to these basics and disregard the technologies and methods of operating that our generation now has … we wouldn’t be able to keep pace,” Battaglia said. “We can bridge both technologies and both methods of

Winnefeld Discusses Defense Strategy, Budget Link

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2012 – The fiscal 2014 defense budget request will be a chance for the department to adjust funding to support the defense strategic guidance issued in January this year, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said here yesterday.
The admiral spoke at the Atlantic Council’s Commanders Series.

“We are continuing to filter and refine the decisions we made … last year,” Winnefeld said. “It is going on now and it is going on pretty well.”

Winnefeld took office the same day that Congress passed the Budget Control Act -- Aug. 4, 2011. “I arrived in this job at the high-water mark of the defense budget for the last 20 years,” he said.

Defense leaders had already termed the national deficit as a threat to national security, he said, noting that DOD will do its part to reduce it. “We would forcefully state that we are not necessarily the cause of this problem, but we all need to pitch in,” he said.

Since 9/11, the department had virtually unlimited resources, the admiral said.

“Now we’re in a different place, and as Winston Churchill said, ‘Gentlemen, we’re out of money, and now we have to think,’” he added.

Under the old strategy, cutting $489 billion out of the department over 10 years increased the risk to the nation, Winnefeld said. DOD leaders needed to work together to examine the department’s core missions, he said, and how to accomplish those missions with declining resources..

“We knew we had to link strategy with the budget-making process,” the admiral said.

At the same time, leaders had to account for changes in warfare, he said. This included changes across the range of combat bred by the efficacy of networks to speed awareness. It also included understanding the benefits interagency partners provide to the military and the importance of cross-service cooperation at all levels.

On the equipment side, the strategy had to consider the effect of unmanned vehicles, cyber capabilities, stealth technology and the contributions of “the best people we have ever had in the U.S. military,” Winnefeld said. The talent that young people bring to the military was actually folded into the new strategy, he said.
The plan made a number of changes in a shift to the Pacific, the emphasis on cyber operations, being able to project power and increased emphasis on efficiency in the department, he said. The strategy keeps the counterterrorism force robust and retains the nuclear deterrent, Winnefeld noted.

The strategy calls for less emphasis on long-term stability operations, the admiral said.

“The way President [Barack] Obama has put it was, ‘Give me fewer Iraqi Freedoms and more Desert Storms,’” Winnefeld said. “The point was, go in, do the ‘defeat,’ and get the job done. Don’t end up there for 10 years trying to do nation building. We’re just not going to be allowed to do that. We can’t afford it.”

The guidance took three months to publish, and then leaders used this guidance to build the fiscal 2013 DOD budget request. “It was the first time in my career that I have seen such a tight connection between the strategy document … to ‘means’ decisions -- the things we were going to buy or not buy,” the admiral said.
The bottom line, he said, is that the strategy covers national interests -- the security of the United States and its citizens; a strong U.S. economy; respect for universal values; and an international order that promotes peace, stability and security through stronger cooperation.

Senior leaders measure their decisions against this strategy, Winnefeld said, and will continue to do so with the new budget.

Winnefeld said he’s optimistic that Congress will avoid sequestration, but if it takes place and the department has to cut another $500 billion from the budget, then the strategic guidance could be made moot. A new plan would have to be drawn up, increasing the risk to the nation, the admiral said.
 

Panetta Honors Vets at ‘Wall’ Education Center Groundbreaking

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2012 – The education center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial “Wall” will be a place to join the past to the future, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at the center's groundbreaking ceremony today.


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Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the education center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial “Wall” in Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
By telling the stories of service members whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country will not be forgotten, he said.
 
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined Panetta at the ceremony, held near the memorial on the National Mall here. The groundbreaking included a large delegation of congressional and military leaders and members of Gold Star Families -- an organization for families that have lost loved ones in military service.

"It will be a site for future generations of Americans to learn, think and reflect on our nation's wars and those who fought them," Panetta said of the education center. "This is a very poignant moment, for a very special place in my heart for [Vietnam veterans]."

The center, which will honor veterans from several U.S. wars, will bring to life the stories of the more than 58,000 U.S. service members who were lost during the Vietnam War. Stories and photos of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan also will be featured until those veterans have their own national place of honor, event officials said.

"As I travel across the country and the world, I am always inspired by the strength and the resilience of our military families," Biden, also a military mom, told the audience.

"But there are many Americans who don't know anyone in the military," she added. "As a life-long educator, that's why the education center is so important. It will help ensure our veterans will always be remembered -- not just in name, by but by their actions. Those actions will become part of the lessons that educate and inspire us for years to come."

This year begins the 50th anniversary commemoration of the United States' participation in the Vietnam War, Panetta told the audience.

"We remember their bravery and heroism and we will never forget their sacrifices during that conflict," he said of U.S. service members who fought in Vietnam.

Panetta spoke of his recent travels to Vietnam, noting that Defense Department officials were working diligently in Hanoi to find and identify remains of U.S. service members who are missing in action there and throughout the region.

"It is our sacred duty to leave no one behind," Panetta said. "We will not rest until every MIA is brought home. I assure you that your government is committed to the fullest possible accounting of our missing service members from the Vietnam War."

Panetta said Americans failed to acknowledge the sacrifices of the nation's service members when they returned home after the war.

"America's recognition came too late," he said. "The Vietnam generation is graying now. Preserving stories requires more than a place of remembrance. It needs a place of education. [These veterans] must never be forgotten."

The center will focus on a divisive time in the nation's history from which it learned meaningful lessons, the secretary said.

"That war is always a last resort, that we must have a clear mission [to fight], that people can oppose a war and still support the troops, and that we should always cherish the legacy of valor and self-sacrifice our veterans represent and make America strong," he said.

Panetta said the center will honor the nation’s military heroes "by telling the stories of brave American warriors, past and present, we help ensure we'll never forget the sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price for their country.”

“The torch of freedom these heroes carried into battle must be passed from generation to generation, so we never stop fighting for a better future for our children," the secretary said.

Army Guard senior leaders impressed by Soldiers' Hurricane Sandy response

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

Click photo for screen-resolution imageARLINGTON, Va. (11/28/12) - It's a scene that is perhaps as old as the U.S. military itself –Soldiers gathered around a cot or makeshift table, playing cards during downtime.

The Soldiers relax and joke while Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk W. Conley uses each card game as a perfect opportunity to talk with them.

"I could sit and talk with young privates and specialists all day long," said
Conley, the sergeant major of the Army National Guard.  "I'm a high school physics and chemistry teacher. I like being around the kids. It keeps you young. They keep you engaged and realize what makes this country great."

As part of his visit to New York to get a feel for National Guard response to the disaster, Conley not only spent time talking with Soldiers during downtime, but also spent time with them as they took part in debris removal and cleanup operations in Queens, water and food distribution in Brooklyn, and various other points along the way.

Conley said he was impressed by the Soldiers, the work they were doing and the dedicated response they had to simply "help out."

"I think that's universal throughout the Guard," Conley said. "Those are your neighbors. That's your state. That's part of what you signed up for."

The response, Conley said, was no different than when Guard members helped in 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans.

"The spirit of the Soldier and the Airmen was the same," he said. "There was no difference. I'm here to help my neighbors."

The difference, however, was in the geography of the affected area.

 "I think we were able to downsize-right size-a lot quicker here," he said, in reference to the Guard response.

"They weren't dealing with floodwaters here," said Conley, who served as part of the response to Katrina.

"They were dealing with the initial storm surge and the damage from that, which was just as devastating as Katrina, but they didn't have the standing water to have to deal with over time."

Responding to incidents such as Sandy is one of the reasons many Soldiers who took part in relief operations enlisted in the Army Guard, said Conley.

"I would ask each group how many of them joined to do this and 75 percent of the hands would go up," said Conley. "They joined because they wanted to be a part of things. They wanted to be engaged in missions at home and overseas, but they also wanted to stay in their communities and help their state."

And at the peak of operations, more than 12,000 Guard members responded from
21 states and the District of Columbia.

"These young kids, these young Americans, are the true epitome of the Citizen-Soldier," Conley said, adding that speaks volumes about the future.

"The future is solidified by those great privates and specialists out there over these last three weeks of Hurricane Sandy (relief operations) showing, demonstrating to America what we're capable of doing," he said.

The trip itself was planned weeks before Sandy made landfall as a way for Conley to get a sense of issues affecting the enlisted members of the Army Guard.

But, with Guard members responding in the aftermath of the storm, Conley said it provided an opportunity to meet with Soldiers "as they were doing their mission and talk with them about what motivates them and what they're doing (as part of response efforts)."

And for Conley, it comes back to spending time listening to Soldiers and hearing their concerns, which he said is one of the things he enjoys most.

"I hit the lottery," he said. "I can't believe they're paying me to do this stuff."

Face of Defense: NCO Provides Holiday Mail Deadline

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Scott Whiting
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Nov. 28, 2012 – Christmas is right around the corner, and with the holidays comes an influx of mail sent to service members stationed overseas.


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Marines unload packages during daily mail call at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, Oct. 9, 2011. Mail is collected and delivered at the base seven days a week. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Katherine Solano
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The United States Postal Service recently released their deadlines for ensuring mail sent overseas arrives in time for the busy holiday season.
 
“These dates are recommended since Christmas gets so busy, especially when sending out mail,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Guadalupe Nicks, an assistant postal finance officer with the post office here.

The fastest way to send mail is through Express Mail. In order to take advantage of this service, the mail must be sent by Dec. 17 for it to arrive on time when sending to a military installation overseas.

First-class mail, which includes letters, cards and parcels 13 ounces or lighter, should be mailed no later than Dec. 10. Priority mail is first-class mail weighing more than 13 ounces, and it should also be sent by Dec. 10. Parcel airlift mail needs to be mailed by Dec. 3.

As of Nov. 15, the U.S. Postal Service is able to once again ship lithium batteries to international locations, including Army, Fleet and Diplomatic Post Offices overseas.

“They are now able to be mailed, but there are specific requirements for them in order to be sent,” Nicks said.

The lithium batteries must already be installed in the device requiring the battery by the time they are mailed, or packaged alone. If they are being sent alone, they must be in their originally sealed packaging. Multiple batteries must be separated and cushioned within the parcel to prevent short-circuiting, movement or damage. The package itself cannot exceed five pounds.

Tomodachi Registry Monitors Japan-posted Troops, Families

U.S. Army Public Health Command Public Affairs Office

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Nov. 28, 2012 – U.S. Army Public Health Command headquartered here played a significant public health role in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The command’s responders monitored radiation levels from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, checked the safety of water and food and assessed search-and-rescue dogs coming into the country to assist in finding the missing.

A year-and-a-half later, it looks as though USAPHC will have a decades-long role to play through the creation and maintenance of the Operation Tomodachi Registry.

Launched Sept. 5, 2012, the registry’s purpose is to provide general information about the incident including location-based, estimated radiation dose levels for the DOD-affiliated population, and a way for registry users to contact the registry staff. The registry currently includes estimated radiation exposure information for 13 mainland Japan locations where most of the approximately 70,000 DOD-affiliated personnel were during the incident.

“We used this opportunity to build a model for future exposure registries, one that’s flexible enough to manage a wide range of potential environmental exposures,” said Brad Hutchens, an environmental engineer whose program led the creation of the registry, which will be managed as part of the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System.

“Development of this registry is unique, because DOD has not previously taken such a proactive approach,” Hutchens said.

One significant reason for DOD’s approach was its concern of the health its service members and their families stationed in Japan.

“People are generally concerned about radiation,” Hutchens said. “They wanted to make sure it was properly monitored and documented.”

Jerry Falo, a USAPHC radiation safety expert who holds a doctorate in health physics, agrees.
“We’ve all seen the images portrayed in movies and on TV -- they reinforce people’s fear of radiation,” Falo said.

Scientists know what can occur at high levels of radiation exposure -- much higher than those seen from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, he said.

“But at the levels seen in the DOD-affiliated population, the Health Physics Society’s position statement says it best: ‘Risks of [adverse] health effects are either too small to be observed or are nonexistent,’” Falo said.
Falo was part of a working group of DOD scientists charged with estimating radiation doses in locations where DOD-affiliated personnel were present. Health effects from radiation exposure are not expected in the DOD-affiliated population.

The working group included experts in health physics, nuclear engineering, radiological health sciences and medical physics from the three U.S. military services, the Armed Forces Radiobiological Research Institute, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. They analyzed the radiation levels in mainland Japan from March 12 to May 11, 2011, applying U.S. standards to data gathered by multiple agencies from multiple sources.

“We looked at DOD, Department of Energy and Japanese government environmental data on air, water, soil and external [monitoring] measurements. We looked at breathing rates, ingestion rates and time spent outdoors,” Falo said. “We took high-side EPA estimates and assumed no time indoors for 60 days -- it’s unlikely that a person’s actual radiation doses would be higher than the levels described in the registry.”
Registry dose estimates currently include adults and children, broken down by age. In the future, dose estimates for embryos, fetuses and nursing infants will be included.

This documentation can be used by medical providers to discuss patient concerns about potential radiation exposures they may have received during the March 12 to May 11, 2011, timeframe.

“Much is done at the time [an incident occurs] to reduce risk, take care of people and address the situation, but we haven’t always created documentation for the long term,” Hutchens said.

By the end of the calendar year, the nearly 70,000 identified people will be entered into DOEHRS and associated to the location-based estimates.

USAPHC was selected to create the registry because of its experience in managing DOEHRS and because of its experience in creating and managing the Operation Desert Storm Kuwait Oil Fires project, Hutchens said. DOEHRS manages industrial hygiene, environmental health, radiation and incident reporting data for the DOD.

In addition to its technical and scientific expertise, the USAPHC contributed risk communication expertise to the development of the registry.

“I help the subject-matter experts take that incredible amount of data and translate it to what it means to service members, families and DOD-affiliated people who were on the island or in the other designated areas at the time the registry covers,” Bethney Davidson, senior USAPHC risk communicator, said.

As the registry was planned, transparency of communication and the provision of usable information “for years to come” were key communication goals, Davidson said.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Force Health Protection and Readiness is the sponsoring agency, and experts from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Naval Health Research Center and others contributed to the registry content.