Thursday, January 17, 2013

Suicide Prevention ‘Our Problem,’ Battaglia Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss., Jan. 17, 2013 – Suicide prevention is not a new problem, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday, “but it’s our problem.”
Building resilience into the force is essential to preventing suicides, Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia said during one of several enlisted calls. The military, he said, doesn’t teach turning around and running away from problems.

Total Force Fitness, a holistic approach to mental and physical health intended to build resilience, will help service members and their families deal with challenges, the sergeant major said.

The concept, developed by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, consists of eight wedges, each with a particular influence on mental and physical health.

“You hit adversity every day,” Battaglia told the service members here. The military teaches service members to assess a problem and develop courses of action, the sergeant major said, adding that service members should take that same approach to their personal lives.

“Be in a preventive posture,” he said.

Building resilience is both an art and a science, Battaglia said.

“This isn’t all about medicine,” he said. “It’s not strictly, ‘The answer is some sort of medication.’”

Part of the art of resilience hinges on leader engagement, he said. He called on enlisted leaders to help in preparing service members accustomed to a warfighting setting to serve in a garrison-focused environment.
Total Force Fitness plans will differ from person to person, he said, as each tailors it to meet their own needs to improve and stay resilient.

Battaglia: Leaders Will Keep Faith With Troops, Families

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALION CENTER GULFPORT, Miss., Jan. 17, 2013 – Service members should know that, despite ongoing fiscal challenges, their families are cared for, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told an audience of soldiers, sailors and airmen here today.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia said Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey’s promise to keep faith with the military family gives him confidence that his family is taken care of, even while he is away from home.

Speaking at the home of the Atlantic Fleet Seabees and more than 45 tenant units, including several service schools, the sergeant major said taking care of families is just one part of the chairman’s promise.

“There’s another side to that as well -- keeping faith with you, his uniformed family,” he said. That includes making sure service members are properly trained and educated, he explained.

In return, Battaglia said, service members should periodically renew their commitment to the military profession, noting that he uses the oath of enlistment to remind himself of his military obligations.

“[It’s] such a powerful paragraph,” he said. “I’m so passionate about the oath of enlistment that I think every enlisted service member in the entire military should know the enlistment oath by heart.”

Service members already have demonstrated the quality of their character by enlisting while the country was engaged in armed conflict, Battaglia said. They each may have joined for different reasons, but the oath serves as a common thread linking enlisted service members, regardless of branch, he added.

Linking services and their capabilities helps to make the joint force a multiplier, he said, adding that he includes coalition forces as part of the joint force.

“I don’t think we’ll ever fight a solely conventional war again,” Battaglia said. The first goal of the military is to prevent and deter, he added, and one way to do that is to build capacity in partner nations.

“We can expect to see … continued joint training, from the combatant command level down to the individual service school level,” he said.

The service branches are stronger when they work together, the sergeant major said. “The last thing we ever need to do is return to our four corners,” he said. “That would be a setback to our military after all these years working together.”

After Long Deployment, Leaders Praise Navy-Marine Team

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2013 – The commanding officers of a team of 2,000 sailors and 2,300 Marines sat down yesterday with reporters from the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service to discuss the challenges and successes of their extended nine-month deployment.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A Navy landing craft air cushion hovercraft, or LCAC, lands at Onslow Beach in Camp Lejeune, N.C., carrying Marines and equipment of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Dec. 18, 2012. About 2,300 Marines and sailors returned to the United States after being deployed for nine months as an expeditionary crisis response force with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Petersheim

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Capt. Arturo Garcia is commodore of the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, and Marine Corps Col. Frank Donovan commands the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The 24th MEU is one of seven Marine units that deploy around the world with Navy amphibious ready groups. Operations for the unit include everything from embassy evacuations, humanitarian relief and disaster response to maritime security missions and amphibious raids.

The Navy-Marine team deployed in March for eight months, but the deployment was extended into late December after an outbreak of violence in November between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The team is distributed across three ships of the amphibious ready group that together occupy what some like to call “7 square acres of U.S. soil anywhere in the world.” The latest deployment took them to Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, the Arabian Gulf and Southwest Asia.
“When we’re off the coast, you’re not just looking at three ships,” Garcia said. The team’s capabilities are equal to a garrison with Marines, an airfield with tactical aircraft, a hospital and an ammunition depot, he added.

“We bring everything we need to support the mission ashore, and we don’t have to rely on permissions from anybody, because we’re operating in international waters,” the commodore said.
The Iwo Jima amphibious ready group includes the amphibious dock-landing ship USS Gunston Hall, the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, Amphibious Squadron 8, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 4, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, and Naval Beach Group, which includes Assault Craft Units 2 and 4 and Beachmaster Unit 2.

The 24th MEU includes a battalion landing team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; the aviation combat element Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261; and the logistics combat element Combat Logistics Battalion 24.

Highlights of the deployment included participation in exercises with service members from international military services, Garcia noted.

“We got to participate in some interesting exercises with [service members] in Morocco and Jordan,” he said, and had some interaction with “our naval partners in Spain.”

Bilateral exercises and operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility included African Lion 2012 with the Moroccan military, Eager Lion 2012 with the Jordanian navy, and the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2012 with more than 30 international partners.

Another highlight “was to see all these sailors and Marines come together after an entire [six-month] training cycle and perform so well during a deployment,” Garcia added.

“When we got extended, we were concerned that morale was going to go down, and we were really surprised to see how upbeat they all were, because they wanted to do the mission and help Americans,” he said. “And I think that’s key.”

The team demonstrated the American commitment to the region simply by being there, Garcia said.
“Presence is an important mission that the Navy and the Marine Corps do,” he added, “and by having three ships with the combat power that we have, with the flexibility of missions that we can perform, I think it was one of the more important things that we were able to accomplish during those nine months.”

Donovan said the deployment was exciting, especially during September and October -- after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya -- when U.S. embassies throughout U.S. Africa Command, Central Command and European Command areas experienced challenges and threats.

“We were lined up and prepared for a number of those contingencies, all with a little different flavor,” the colonel added.

The task force’s capabilities are unique, Donovan pointed out, because “if an embassy is threatened we can go right from our ships to the embassy. Other forces have to go in and secure an airfield or a port and put other things in place -- a heavy logistics footprint.”

But Donovan’s team had to consider assisting Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, 425 nautical miles inland.

“The way we can do that is the ARG-MEU team operating the V-22B [Ospreys] with aerial refueling with our own KC-130J tankers, escorted by our own AVB Harriers [vertical/short takeoff and landing ground-attack aircraft],” Donovan said.

“And waiting for us back on the ship is our Level 2 trauma [center] provided by the commodore and his team, and command and control by his team. No one else can do that,” he said.
For Donovan, one of the team’s success stories occurred in Jordan, a country with severe water scarcity.

“We brought our own water-making capability [and] didn’t buy a single bottle of water on this deployment,” the colonel said. “In Jordan, we made 65,000 gallons of fresh water out of the Gulf of Aqaba -- salt water to fresh water -- for our Marines, without a tie to the host nation.

The capabilities that the ARG-MEU team brings to the fight are in high demand around the world, Donovan added, from U.S. ambassadors, combatant commanders and joint task force commanders.

“They’re looking for a footprint that’s light, that’s flexible, that can go and get the job done and return to the sea and then maneuver to the next spot,” he said. “And I think in the Pacific [region], we are tailor-made for that environment.”

Tinker reservists deploy to Southwest Asia

by Capt. Jon Quinlan
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

1/17/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Morehtna 130 Reserve Airmen said goodbye to their families, friends and civilian employers here Jan. 7, as they deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Air Refueling Operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

The reservists will support a broad spectrum of air refueling missions coming in and out of the area of operations.

"The wing is committed to providing a combat effective force multiplier to support the AEF (Air and Space Expeditionary Force)," said Col. Russell Muncy, 507th Air Refueling Wing commander. "Our men and woman are playing a critical role providing air refueling that affects all Air Force mission sets in Afghanistan and beyond. My hats off to these brave Airmen who sacrifice much to provide the best product possible. Let us not forget the sacrifices that our airman's families and civilian employers are making as well. Without their commitment, the citizen Airman would not be able to perform this vital mission for our country," Muncy said.

Getting these Airmen out the door takes a large amount of preparation that starts nearly seven months out, according to logistics readiness officials.

Work included scheduling and conducting all training, airlift, medical, and legal items before the deploying members leave. It took a team of nearly sixty 507th Air Refueling Wing personnel to support the deployers and get them out the door and into the theatre.

One of the biggest challenges reservists have is juggling deployment readiness items with their civilian jobs and families.

"Finding the right balance can be a challenge but important when facing a deployment," said Senior Master Sgt. Jamie Horn, 507th Logistics Readiness Squadron plans superintendent. "We just have to ensure everyone is ready at any time to go where we are called to."

Citizen Airmen being ready at a moment's notice is what makes the Air Force Reserve play such an important role in the defense of the United States, according to Reserve commanders.

"We consistently have deployment and operations tempos that rival and surpass many other Air Force Reserve and active duty units," Muncy said. "My thoughts are with our Airmen and hope they have a safe and successful deployment."

Children’s Play Area Ribbon Cutting Event to Host Children Of The Fallen™ As Special Guests

New play area at Cross Creek Mall highlights rich history of Cumberland County

Cumberland County, NC – January 17, 2013 –The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with The Army’s Army and Cross Creek Mall, is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to signify the official opening of the new play area at Cross Creek Mall. The event, which takes place on Monday, January 21, 2013 from 10 a.m. - noon, will honor children of fallen soldiers and local military families. 

“Military children are so important to us in Cumberland County. The new play area at Cross Creek Mall is not only an outstanding representation of the rich history our community holds but a fun environment for kids to learn and play. We are pleased to be able to host the official Play Area Grand Opening Celebration, with Children Of The Fallen and their families as our very special guests,” said John Meroski, CEO Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Children Of The Fallen was established as a mentoring program to help children who have lost a parent or guardian in the war,” commented Janine West, Executive Director of the Army’s Army. “Through this program, and the continued support from our partners and members, we are able to host fun, interactive events for surviving families, as well as pair children with supportive mentors.

The ribbon-cutting event will feature a variety of children’s entertainment, crafts, character appearances and door prizes provided by event partners, including the following:
           Patriotic crafts provided by Cross Creek Mall
           Chia Pet making provided by Fascinate-U Children's Museum
           ‘Build An Insect’ by Cape Fear Botanical Garden
           Children’s activities by Kidsville News
           United Way of Cumberland County

As special guests of the grand opening event, Children Of The Fallen will receive lunch, courtesy of Chick-fil-A, as well as prize packs featuring a variety of coupons, gift cards and other items. 

The significance of the new play area, with each aspect relating to landmarks and historical sites in Cumberland County, is an optimal way for children to learn while enjoying themselves at the same time.  The FACVB’s efforts to involve military children in as many positive and supportive activities as possible continues to unfold, with the play area being the newest addition to the military community.

If you would like to make a donation to the Army’s Army to help support initiatives like the Children Of The Fallen Mentoring Program, please contact Janine West at (910)709-9671 or

About the FACVB:
The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for positioning Fayetteville/Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, sporting events and individual travel. For additional information, visit or call 1-800-255-8217. Fayetteville/Cumberland County is the America's first military sanctuary. Through the Army's Army and other volunteer groups, our citizens and businesses are dedicated to watching over those who watch over

About The Army’s Army:
The Army’s Army is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization made up of citizens and businesses who have pledged their support to those in the military. We do everything we can to make soldiers, veterans and their families feel welcome, appreciated and safe. The Army’s Army is dedicated to “watching over those who watch over us©.” For additional information, please visit or

City of Coronado Honors Local Sailor for Heroism

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Megan Anuci, Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs
CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- A student assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif., was awarded a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Coronado Jan. 15 at Coronado City Hall.

The award was presented to Seaman William "Pepper" Lang, a second phase Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) student, and two other lifeguards, Jacob Bender and Blair Geiss, for meritorious service in the line of duty as a lifeguard, Lang's job prior to joining the Navy.

The mayor of Coronado, Casey Tanaka, congratulated the three lifeguards as he bestowed the commendations during a city council meeting.

"We have a beautiful beach and we're very proud of it," said Tanaka. "In the back of our minds, we don't want to think about rip currents, high tides or other possible threats. On behalf of the entire city, we want to thank the three of you for the actions you've taken in saving a precious life. You and your brethren do this every day and you always put your lives on the line for us."

Bender was on duty in Tower 5, April 1, 2012, when he noticed a number of people pointing and yelling near the water at North Beach. After scanning the water, Bender saw a man in distress in the surf, face down. As he made his way toward the victim, the lifeguard called for backup. Upon reaching the victim, Bender suspected life-threatening injuries had been sustained. He performed an inline stabilization, cradling the patient's head and neck in his arms.

Then the lifeguard noticed a large hematoma on the victim's lower back, causing a localized collection of blood about the size of two softballs side-by-side. Although the victim was conscious, he couldn't feel or move his legs and was unable to reach the shore.

Once lifeguards Lang and Geiss arrived, the three worked as a team against the difficult environment of the surf line to reach shore and "log rolled" the patient onto a special rescue board to immobilize his spine. They continued treatment until Coronado firefighters arrived and transported the patient to Scripps Mercy Base Hospital for immediate surgery.

"I'm proud of the actions these men took," said Mike Blood, Coronado fire chief. "I'm proud of the professionalism they demonstrated that made a positive impact in someone's life."

Because of the quick response and attentive care given by Lang and the other two lifeguards, the victim survived a significant injury to the spine and greatly limited damage from the trauma.

"It's humbling and I'm accepting this award on behalf of all the lifeguards," said Lang. "There were those people that were sitting in the dispatch tower and driving the ambulance and I was a very small player in this. I was simply doing what I was trained to do. I feel honored to be awarded this today. I feel like I accept this for those other lifeguards that were on duty that day and the 30 lifeguards who work those beaches year round on Christmas Day and Fourth of July when everyone else is having fun. I'm honored to say I was a part of this rescue."

Mississippi Governor declares 2013 year to 'Hire Mississippi Heroes'

By Mass Communications Speicalist 2nd Class Casey H. Kyhl
JACKSON, Miss. -- (NNS) -- Mississippi is home to more than 28,000 veterans who have served since 9/11, and Gov. Phil Bryant is working to ensure they have access to jobs when they return from service.

The unemployment rate for veterans in the U.S. returning from the Global War on Terrorism was 10.8 percent in December, substantially higher than the national average of 7.8 over the same period.

Capt. Charles C. Moore II, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Meridian, who attended the signing of the proclamation on Wednesday, Jan. 16, along with other local supporters agreed with the governor's ambitions.

"All efforts that enhance the employment opportunities for our nation's veterans are important and help ensure that citizens who have honorably served their country can more easily do the same in the civil sector," Moore said. "Legislation aligned with the Hiring Heroes Act is an excellent step in developing state and military relationships, while removing unnecessary barriers and significantly improving the quality of life for our nation's veterans and active duty military families."

Also attending the event was Staff Sgt. Darryl C. Coleman, an instructor and member of the staff at Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One.

Coleman, a Quentin, Miss., native, said it was an honor for him to attend Wednesday's proclamation signing.

"It made me feel proud to be from Mississippi and honored to know that the state is looking out for military members," he said.

Gov. Bryant signed a proclamation Wednesday declaring 2013 as the year to Hire Mississippi Heroes, which will encourage employers to seek veteran candidates for positions. Bryant is working with two lawmakers to pass legislation that ensures returning veterans have jobs.

"Our many active duty, reserve and retired military members deserve to return to well paying jobs that allow these men and women to use skills learned in the military," Gov. Bryant said.

Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) Executive Director Mark Henry, Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard Agustus L. Collins and numerous representatives from service organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars joined Gov. Bryant for the announcement.

This proclamation was coupled with a Pledge to Hire Mississippi Heroes outreach program, in which MDES will assist employers that make the pledge in finding qualified veterans for open positions. MDES offers services for posting jobs, screening applications and sending referrals at no cost to participating Mississippi businesses.

"The Pledge to Hire Mississippi Heroes is a great opportunity for returning veterans and Mississippi businesses," Henry said. "Our WIN Job Centers can assist veterans with reentering the workforce and introduce Mississippi employers to the benefits of hiring veterans."

The governor recommended that licensing agencies grant temporary occupational licenses to qualified military spouses who relocate in Mississippi due to military transfer, so these individuals can find jobs in the state while applying for professional licenses. Rep. Wanda Jennings and Sen. Briggs Hopson will sponsor the legislation.

To further aid returning veterans and their spouses in finding employment, Gov. Bryant will propose legislation requiring state licensing agencies to consider military job training received by returning veterans who apply for professional licenses.

USS Guardian Runs Aground in the Sulu Sea

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- No one was hurt when the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) ran aground on Tubbataha Reef at 2:25 a.m. local time, Jan. 17, while transiting the Sulu Sea.

The Avenger-class ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay, Olongapo City and was en route to her next port of call when the grounding occurred. The ship is currently stuck on the reef, approximately 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island. The crew is currently working to determine the best method of safely extracting the ship.

The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

Guardian, forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, was commissioned Dec. 16, 1989, and has a crew of about 80.

Surface Warriors Wrap Up Symposium with Focus on Future

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexandra Snyder, Defense Media Activity-Navy
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Surface Navy Association wrapped up three days of information sharing and networking when the 25th Annual National Symposium in Arlington, Va., concluded Jan. 17.

Sailors and naval officers visited booths and attended roundtable discussions and briefs centered on the symposium's theme, Answering All Bells: People, Technology, and Innovation.

The final day featured Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as well as other leaders in the fleet discussing a variety of surface-related issues.

"The symposium is a great opportunity to get together and interact with the fleet and industry and talk about how we can make the surface Navy better," said Capt. Roy Kitchener, chief of staff, Naval Surfaces Forces, who attended the conference.

The symposium also offered a chance for those new to the surface community to gain knowledge about its platforms and leadership.

"I like the seminars," said Lt. Ann Patterson, flag aide. "As a junior officer, just coming off a ship, I like hearing from the four-stars about where the Navy is headed. I think it's beneficial to anyone who is looking to stay in the surface community."

Lt. Alexander Allen, Military Sealift Command, agreed.

"As a junior officer, it's good to attend these sorts of events because you're new in the Navy. Chances are, you've spent the last few years on a ship working with the technology, but your view of the surface Navy is one-dimensional. By coming here, you're offered a new perspective from those who are manufacturing the equipment that you work on every day, and are inventing the next generation. It's also nice to get the higher-up perspective about where the surface community is heading," he said.

The Surface Navy Association was incorporated in 1985 to promote greater coordination and communication among those in the military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in naval surface warfare and to support the activities of Surface Naval Forces.

Navy Celebrates 2012 African American/Black History Month

By Ensign Amber Lynn Daniel, Navy Office of Diversity and Inclusion
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- As announced by NAVADMIN 009/13 released Jan. 16, the Navy joins the nation in celebrating the vibrant history and culture of African American and Black Sailors during African American/Black History Month throughout the month of February.

Established in 1926 as Negro History Week, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the celebration in 1976 to include the entire month of February.

This year Navy commands are encouraged to celebrate and reflect on the theme, "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington."

African American Sailors have a legacy of honorable service in every major armed conflict since the Revolutionary War. African Americans continue to serve with distinction, now comprising more than 17 percent of the active duty Navy total force end-strength.

Striving for equality at home and blazing a trail for future African American Sailors, Wesley A. Brown became the first African American graduate of the United States Naval Academy in 1949, joining the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps and retiring at the rank of lieutenant commander. He died May 22, 2012 after a distinguished career both in the Navy and in the civilian workforce.

Edna Young, the first African American woman to enlist in the regular Navy and later the first African American woman to achieve the rank of chief petty officer also died in 2012. Young was a World War II veteran who joined the Navy after the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act July 7, 1948.

In 2012, Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard became the first African-American woman to receive a third star in flag rank within the Department of Defense when she was promoted Aug. 24. Howard is currently serving as deputy commander for U.S. Fleet Forces Command. This was not Howard's first time in the Navy history books, however. In 1999, she became the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy when she took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

Immediately following this year's celebration of African American/Black History Month, Force Master Chief April Beldo, currently the Naval Education and Training Command Force Master Chief, will make history as the Navy's first female African American Fleet Master Chief. Beldo will become the Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E) Fleet Master Chief in March 2013.

Sailors and their commands are encouraged to use this month to celebrate and recognize the exceptional and distinctive contributions and the unique histories and cultures that our African American shipmates bring to our Navy. More information on the many milestones achieved by African American Sailors and the history of the African American Navy experience can be found at the Naval History and Heritage Command at