Thursday, March 21, 2013

Uniformed Services University Ranks Among Top Medical Schools

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013 – The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. -- the only university of its kind dedicated to educating military doctors, graduate nurses and other specialized health-care professionals -- has earned distinction as one of the top-ranked U.S. graduate schools.

U.S. News & World Report identified the university’s F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine as a top-tier medical school in its “Best Graduate Schools 2014” rankings released last week.

USU’s primary-care program ranked 39th among 126 medical schools, and its research programs ranked 55th.

In addition, the university’s nurse anesthesia master’s degree program ranked fifth in the nation. Its partner program, run by the Army in San Antonio, maintained the No. 1 ranking it has held for the past several years.

Dr. Brian V. Reamy, USU’s associate dean of faculty and family medicine professor, said during a telephone interview that the medical school’s first appearance on the respected graduate-school rankings list is further affirmation of its accomplishments over the 40 years since its founding.

The American Academy of Family Physicians, the largest U.S. physician specialty society, has recognized the university’s family medicine department has one of the nation’s top 10 for the past three years, he reported.

USU is unique among medical schools, as it produces highly trained medical professionals for both the military and the Public Health Service, Reamy said. Students arrive with a commitment to military or federal service and the men and women in uniform they will care for, often in harm’s way.
About 40 percent of USU’s graduates go into primary care, about twice the percentage of those at other medical schools, Reamy said. “From its founding, the Uniformed Services University has really had a focus and attention to excellence in primary care – family medicine, pediatrics and general international medicine,” he said. “Over the years, that focus has not changed, but it has become a little more publicly known.”

In addition, the university distinguishes itself with a heavy emphasis on preventive medicine and research directly relevant to the military: traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, emerging infectious diseases and combat casualty care, he said.

The National Science Foundation recognized USU as one of the nation’s top medical schools to receive federal research funding over the past 10 years. Reamy called that a testament to the quality of its programs. “You get federal research funding because you are doing excellent research,” he said.

The U.S. News and World Report ranking, he said, “recognizes the unique role that USU is playing in terms of providing research in areas that directly affect the health and welfare of the military, but also have secondary benefits across medicine in the United States.”

Navy Cmdr. Robert Hawkins, director of the nurse anesthesia program within the Graduate School of Nursing, also spoke by telephone with American Forces Press Service and said the program’s high rankings in the new report recognize the quality of the professionals it produces.

A demanding curriculum that combines scientific concepts and extensive clinical practice prepares students to operate as independent practitioners. That will be critical, he said, particularly because most students deploy within nine months of graduation.

While savoring recognition for its masters-degree-level nurse anesthesia program, USU is preparing to transition to a doctoral program this spring, Hawkins reported. That transition, based on American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommendations, will extend the program from 30 to 36 months.

The first doctoral-level class will arrive at USU in May and graduate two years later.
Hawkins said he’s optimistic this next step in the program will further enhance the bedside care military nurse anesthetists provide – whatever care their patients need, and wherever that care is provided.

One individual at a time, he said, they will have a profound impact on military medicine.
“When you have practitioners with the best skill sets, trained in the best way in the best environment, the chances of changing the health-care system one patient at a time will have a profound impact overall,” he said.

B-52 gets new Sniper Pod

by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- The 2nd Bomb Wing made its first live run with a new addition to the aging bomber.

With constant upgrades bringing the more than 60-year-old bomber into the 21st century, the addition of the sniper pod gives the B-52H Stratofortress better integration with ground forces and laser guided bombs for precision strike capability.

"This flight was the first time that the 2nd Bomb Wing has used the sniper pod with live ordinance like the LGB," said Capt. Ryan Allen, 20th Bomb Squadron radar navigation instructor. "This pod gives a faster response time to our targets. What would normally take me 30 to 40 button presses in five minutes now only takes me a few seconds to actually target and drop munitions."

This new capability also allows the aircrew to coordinate with ground forces in a new way that is beneficial to their safety and planning.

"With the pod we can integrate with the guys on the ground and let them see what we see. This way we are on the same page," said Allen. "It also gives us a greater visibility range over that of the previous one."

With technology constantly moving forward this new pod gives its own set of challenges to the B-52.

"The way the pod can interact with our avionics system is state of the art," said Allen. "Most of the systems had to be radically improved to give us total interaction between the new and old."

With constant improvements on the aging plane, the 2nd Bomb Wing can complete its mission of providing global deterrence anywhere and anytime.

Cody testifies to quality of life in the Air Force

by Master Sgt. Jess D. Harvey
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody testified on quality-of-life issues in the Air Force before House Appropriations Committee members March 19.

The biggest challenge currently facing the Air Force is the nation's fiscal situation, Cody said, citing the looming furlough of 180,000 civilian Airmen due to sequestration as a threat to the service's readiness and the overall quality of life of our Airmen and their families.

"There is no question our Airmen are nervous and concerned with the current fiscal environment that affects our nation and Air Force," Cody said.

"The impacts of sequestration and the past six months of operating under a continuing resolution authority are significant and detrimental to our Air Force and for all those serving," he said. "Our Airmen remain dedicated and committed to completing the mission around the world and ask for your leadership to ensure they're able to do so."

During his testimony, Cody also addressed several other matters affecting Airmen ranging from building resiliency to education and taking care of families.

"As we move forward and our force changes, we must adapt our programs and services to ensure we meet the needs of today's Airmen and their families," Cody said. One of the first topics on Cody's agenda was building the resiliency of Airmen.

"We believe an Airman's personal and professional successes depend on this resiliency, and feel it is our responsibility to provide the education and resources to help them and their families build it," Cody said. "To that end, we have created Comprehensive Airman Fitness, a construct built on four pillars or core tenets."

The tenets he addressed are mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness, which most Airmen are introduced to early on and the Air Force aims to reinforce throughout their career. Inherent to the tenets and resilience is fostering a stronger culture of mutual respect and trust, Cody said.

It is not enough for Airmen to be resilient; they must also treat one another with the dignity and respect each of us deserves," Cody said. "Every Airman must be respectful of those working with and around them, every Airman must be alert and able to recognize signs of distress, and every Airman must intervene in situations that could turn negative."

With that, he addressed the ongoing issue of sexual assault within the force and efforts to eliminate it.

"We understand the impact of this crime on the individual, their families, their friends, and other people in the units are tremendous and unacceptable," Cody said.

He emphasized that Air Force leaders have emboldened every supervisor and commander to be actively involved in eliminating this horrible crime from our ranks by highlighting the recent Air Force-wide health and wellness inspection, the establishment of a Recruiting Education and Training Council set up to eliminate sexual assault and that senior leaders are undertaking a more focused, direct communication with Airmen about this issue.

Cody also reaffirmed the Air Force's dedication to the education of Airmen before the committee.

"The Air Force has the most educated enlisted force in the world," Cody said. "Every Airman entering service is automatically enrolled in an associate of applied science degree program through the Community College of the Air Force."

Since April 25, 1977, CCAF has awarded more than 408,000 degrees that correspond to each member's career field. Additionally, more than 21,000 enlisted Airmen have bachelor's degrees or higher and 23 have earned a doctorate degree.

He pointed out that the CCAF program is currently engaged in developing credentialing pilot programs and policies that support the White House Veteran Employment and Credentialing Initiative and the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Section 558 mandate.

"We are convinced that opportunities like these directly increase Air Force recruitment and retention as well as enhance our Airmen's professional capabilities," Cody said.

Cody also addressed the needs of military families, to include senior leaders' dedication to providing quality housing to Airmen, because "quality housing ensures our Airmen and families have a strong supporting foundation."

Key to this are the military's ongoing privatization efforts.

"As we progress through 2013, we look forward to completing privatization of all housing in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii," Cody said. "Housing privatization allows us to deliver high quality homes to our members more quickly than ever before and at significant savings to the taxpayer."

He said senior leaders are also deeply committed to providing quality dormitories for our unaccompanied Airmen.

"Our focus remains on providing an environment of care, development, and mentorship for our Airmen," Cody said. "Our dormitory campuses are not just a place to sleep; they are a place for young Airmen to adjust to military life and build a strong sense of community."

Overall, he pointed out, Airmen are doing truly amazing work around the world every day, but it's not possible without the dedication Air Force senior leaders have for taking care of Airmen and their families.

"These men and women take care of the home front while our Airmen are employing and enabling airpower around the world; families stand strong while loved ones deploy to war zones in foreign countries," Cody said. "Their faith and support is critical to our Airmen and enable the focus and dedication our complex missions require."

Dempsey Speaks on What Nation Expects from Marine Corps

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C., March 21, 2013 – What does the United States expect from its Marine Corps?

A young Marine asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that question during a town hall meeting here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said that he has asked himself that basic question about all U.S. armed services.

“We need you to be exactly who you are,” the chairman told the theater full of Marines and family members.

He said the service is the “rock upon which this great military of ours rests.”

This consistency is needed as the fiscal situation becomes more confusing and uncertain, he said. The resources devoted to the military will go up and down – but the military and especially the Marines must be constant, the chairman said.

Dempsey said the Marine Corps is known as the nation’s ready force: Ready to go where the country needs them, via sea or air. But the service also has another image equally important to Americans – that of a new Marine receiving the eagle, globe and anchor in his or her grimy hands having just finished the final recruit test known as the Crucible. “You have to be that young man or woman walking through the airport who just looks like a Marine,” Dempsey said.

But it is more than looks; it is character, he said. The Marines’ Hymn is the only service song that specifically mentions a value. “I find that to be the most important thing about the United States Marine Corps, that you take it upon yourselves to commit to keep your honor clean,” the chairman said.

“What do I expect of the Marine Corps? I expect you to be Marines.”

The town hall was last event of the chairman’s visit to the air base and nearby Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. He visited with Lt. Col. Gabrielle Hermes, the commander of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds, the commander of the depot, drill instructors, support personnel and many others at the gateway to the Corps.

At the air base, he toured the F-35 pilot training facility that is nearing completion, as well as the new hangar complex for the aircraft.

Carter Quantifies Shift of DOD Resources to Asia-Pacific

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 21, 2013 – The Defense Department has begun to shift its intellectual and physical weight to the Asia-Pacific to reinforce longstanding military commitments to the region, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here yesterday.

Jakarta was the final stop of the deputy defense secretary’s weeklong trip to Asia, which included visits to defense and government officials in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

Speaking as part of an international panel at the third Jakarta International Defense Dialogue, or JIDD, Carter said the United States is serious about its commitment to the region and detailed elements now in motion of a rebalance called for in the department’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance.

Despite U.S. spending cuts and ongoing budget debates in Congress, the deputy defense secretary said, DOD is using whatever flexibility it has in managing its budget to favor and protect the rebalance.

“The rebalance will continue and in fact gain momentum for two reasons. First, U.S. interests here are enduring and so also will be its political and economic presence,” Carter told an audience of nearly 1,500 defense, government and security officials from around the world.

“This presence is accompanied by values -- democracy, freedom, human rights, civilian control of the military, and respect for the sovereignty of nations -- that America has long stood for and that human beings welcome and I think relate to,” he added, “So our interest in the region will be both believed and reciprocated.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and President Barack Obama have made recent visits to the region, he said, as have former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

Secretary of State John Kerry will make his first trip here next month, Carter said, “ … and Secretary [Chuck] Hagel, who as a senator led the first U.S. congressional delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue, is staunchly committed to this region as well, [and] will be attending Shangri-La.”

Carter said each U.S. leader visiting the region, in his or her own way, emphasized the central importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States, “and our commitment to making sure that this region remains safe, secure and prosperous.”

He said the rebalance means that a higher proportion of defense assets will move to the region.
“Secretary Panetta announced last year that 60 percent of our naval assets will be assigned to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020,” Carter noted, “a substantial and historical shift.”

The Air Force, he noted, will increase its presence in the region with tactical aircraft like the F-22 stealth fighter; space, cyber and bomber forces; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets like the MQ-9 Reaper, the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft; and the Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.

“We will be able to leverage more capacity from our ground forces, including the Army, Marines and special operations forces, now that they are coming home to the Pacific from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Carter said, adding, “Also we are modernizing and enhancing our forward presence across the region in cooperation with our allies and partners.”

Beginning with Northeast Asia, Carter said DOD is modernizing and updating alliances with Japan and South Korea.

“In Japan we’ve added aviation capability, we are in the process of realigning the Marine Corps presence in Okinawa, and we are upgrading our missile defense posture,” he told the audience. The department is also working to revise defense guidelines there to meet 21st century challenges, he said.

On the Korean Peninsula, DOD is implementing the Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement and taking steps to advance the alliance’s military capabilities to meet the North Korean threat.

Under the SA 2015 roadmap, wartime operational control of Korean forces will transition from the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command to the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff in December 2015, according to a January statement by U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim.

U.S. Forces Korea will become the U.S. Korea Command, or Korcom, and provide manpower for a supporting relationship with the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States will continue to back the defense of the Republic of Korea with the full might of the U.S. military, Kim added.
The Defense Department also is enhancing its presence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Carter said.

“We are not only rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific but also within the Asia-Pacific, in recognition of the growing importance of Southeast Asia to the region as a whole [and] emphasizing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, capacity building and multilateral exercises,” the deputy secretary added.

In Australia last year, the initial company of Marines rotated through Darwin in the first step toward using this presence to engage in bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional partners.
In the Philippines, the department is working to enhance the capacity of the Philippines Armed Forces and increase DOD rotational presence and partnerships with that key treaty ally, Carter explained.

In Singapore, the first of four littoral combat ships will arrive early next month, providing a key capability to work bilaterally and multilaterally with partners in the region, he added.

“Next, while we will preserve and integrate the counter-insurgency capabilities that we have worked so hard to develop over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Carter said, “we are giving priority in our … budget to development platforms and capabilities that have direct applicability and use in this region.”

Such investments include the Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, the fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter, the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, the Broad Area Maritime Sensor, a new stealth bomber, the KC-46 tanker replacement, cruise missiles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, the deputy secretary said.

“We are also protecting our investments in future-focused capabilities that are so important to this region,” he added, “such as cyber, science and technology investments, and space.”

DOD is also investing in its people, Carter said, in language and cultural skills and regional and strategic affairs to ensure that the department can cultivate the intellectual capital that will be required to make good the rebalance.

The United States is also making critical investments in training ranges and bases such as Guam, which the department is developing as a strategic hub for the Western Pacific, he said.

“Fourth, finally and most importantly,” the deputy secretary noted, “we are revitalizing and expanding our partnerships across the region. That’s the key. I’ve mentioned the work we are doing with Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines, but we’re doing many other things in other parts of the region as well.”

- Last November DOD worked with treaty ally Thailand to update the U.S.-Thailand Joint Vision Statement for the first time in 50 years.

- With New Zealand, signing the Washington Declaration and related policy changes opened new avenues for defense cooperation in maritime security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping support.

- In Burma DOD has resumed limited military-to-military relations and is working to ensure that the Burmese military supports Burma’s ongoing reforms.

- With the Vietnamese, through a new memorandum of understanding, DOD is expanding cooperation in maritime security, search and rescue, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

- In Malaysia and Indonesia, the department is working to build partner capacity and conduct maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

China and India also are a critical part of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Carter said.

DOD has invited China to participate in the U.S.-hosted RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest multinational maritime exercise, involving 22 nations during its most recent iteration in 2012.

“We are delighted to have their participation in what will be a strengthening and growing military-to-military relationship with China, which matches and follows our growing political and economic relationship with China,” the deputy secretary said.

Carter called India “a key part of our rebalance and, more broadly, an emerging power that we believe will help determine the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century.”

U.S. security interests with India converge on maritime security and broader regional issues, he said, “including India’s ‘Look East’ policy, an attempt to forge closer and deeper economic integration with its eastern neighbors.

With India, Carter said, the department is also working to deepen defense cooperation, moving beyond defense trade to technology sharing and coproduction.

Multilaterally, he added, the department recognizes the importance of strengthening regional institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which plays what the deputy secretary called “an indispensable role in maintaining regional stability and resolving disputes through diplomacy.”

The United States can and will succeed in rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific in the years to come, Carter told the audience.

“As we succeed in this,” he added, “we look forward to doing it with all of you represented in this room.”