Thursday, October 03, 2013

Minnesota National Guard launches Pink Tank Project to build breast cancer awareness

By Maj. Kristen L. Augé
Minnesota National Guard
Click photo for screen-resolution image
ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/3/13) - To build breast cancer awareness for all women, the Minnesota National Guard launched the Pink Tank Project on Tuesday for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"Improving wellness in our service members aligns with our priorities and the Pink Tank Project assists in keeping us a competent and ready force," said Army Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, Minnesota National Guard's Adjutant General.

"This project is to build breast cancer awareness for all women whether they wear the uniform or not," said Army Maj. Kristen L. Augé, Minnesota National Guard's deputy director of public affairs. "The Pink Tank Project is a promise - a promise to yourself to conduct monthly self-breast exams and have mammograms as recommended by your health care provider."

"Three women with ties to the Minnesota National Guard and whose lives have been forever changed by breast cancer are featured in this project," said Augé. "Throughout the month, their stories and a special breast cancer awareness video will launch on the Minnesota National Guard's Pink Tank Project webpage."

"We are inviting people to join the Pink Tank Project by liking us on Facebook," said Army Sgt. Cassie Mecuk, a soldier in the Minnesota National Guard who is battling breast cancer for the third time. "By joining our Facebook site, you will receive monthly reminders to conduct your self-breast exams."
"Why a tank? Like a tank, we are strong, but not invincible," Mecuk said.

Defense Department Bolsters Victim Advocacy With New Initiatives

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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2013 – The Defense Department continues to take steps to improve victims’ confidence in sexual assault advocacy through a multi-pronged approach, said the deputy director for DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Air Force Col. Alan R. Metzler, SAPRO’s deputy director, emphasized that the first step to stopping sexual assault in the military is through prevention and working to reinforce cultural imperatives of mutual trust and respect, team commitment, and professional values.

When prevention fails, he said, we have taken steps to improve victims’ confidence and combat underreporting through new measures that went into effect this week. Metzler outlined the DOD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP) and the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID), two initiatives set to improve the advocacy services provided to victims of sexual assault.

D-SAACP is a training and certification program for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Victim Advocates (VAs). The D-SAACP professionalizes the victim advocacy roles in alignment with national certification standards and standardizes many of the requirements for SARCs and SAPR VAs across the Services. SARCs and VAs play a vital role in supporting victims of sexual assault and are central to commanders’ efforts in building rapport and trust needed to create a cohesive team within every unit. More than 22,000 SARCs and SAPR VAs have completed D-SAACP training and met national certification standards.
“Proper training for SARCs and SAPR VAs is critical to ensuring that all SAPR responders are equipped to provide professional and informed advocacy services,” said Metzler. “Victims can be confident they have access to professional victim advocates and will be treated with dignity and respect throughout their recovery.”

In order to apply, SARCs and VAs must submit an application, which requires signing the SARC/SAPR VA Code of Ethics, submitting two letters of recommendation, and completing 32 hours of victim advocacy continuing education training. SARCs and SAPR VAs must re-certify to continue providing victim assistance services every two years.

Also, on Oct. 1, the Department met Congressional requirements to implement a standardized, centralized, case-level database which maintains information on sexual assaults. DSAID will serve as the database of record for future reporting.

DSAID provides SARCs the enhanced ability to provide comprehensive and standardized victim case management. DSAID will help each Service to more thoroughly assess the effectiveness of their response efforts by providing a better tool to manage cases and track referral services for victims of sexual assault. Privacy rules for the database comply with DOD and federal regulations regarding information assurance, privacy, and records management.

“Our sexual assault prevention and response program is focused on the concerns and needs of victims and we have worked diligently to improve our system of response,” said Metzler. “We encourage victims to seek help, and we value their decisions and respect their privacy.”

The Defense Department, recognizing that increased victim confidence and reporting is “a bridge to greater victim care and offender accountability,” remains committed to prevention of sexual assault, and providing comprehensive care to victims this crime.

“The Defense Department, and its leaders, take the crime of sexual assault very seriously,” he said. “We are leading change to create an environment where everyone is safe and victims do not experience retaliation.

U.S., Japan Agree to Expand Security, Defense Cooperation

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, Oct. 3, 2013 – In a joint statement today, U.S. and Japanese diplomatic and military leaders agreed to revise the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, increase security and defense collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and advance the realignment of American troops in Japan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry sign official documents to revise the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, increase security and defense collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and advance the realignment of American troops in Japan, in Tokyo, Oct. 3, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their counterparts, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, in a series of meetings today that culminated in a “two-plus-two” engagement. At a news conference following the engagement, Hagel said all four discussed, “Our goal … [of] a more balanced and effective alliance, where our two militaries are full partners working side-by-side with each other, and with other regional partners, to enhance peace and security.” Kerry and Hagel are the first U.S. secretaries of state and defense to attend such a meeting here together. The gathering was highlighted by intense interest in Japan as the nation’s government is reportedly considering expanding the role of its self-defense forces.

Hagel said during the news conference that after 16 years, revising the defense guidelines makes sense. The close alliance between the two countries, rising security threats in the region and the increasingly global nature of those threats, he said, all urge a reexamination of the agreement governing each nation’s roles and responsibilities in defense and contingency operations.

Other key agreements the four ministers announced include:

A second Army Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance system, or AN-TPY-2, will be placed at the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force base at Kyogamisaki, where it will augment one previously set up in Shariki on the northern part of Honshu Island.

-- The new radar will “close the gaps,” a U.S. official said, and will increase protection for the United States while defending Japan against possible North Korean missile strikes.

The “Tippy-Two,” as it’s commonly known, is an X-band, high-resolution, phased-array radar designed specifically for ballistic missile defense. It searches for and tracks inbound threats, and can be integrated with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and ground-based interceptors.

-- Increase bilateral cooperation in the region on space and cyberspace; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; planning, use of facilities, extended deterrence, information security, training and exercises.

-- Reinforce trilateral and multilateral cooperation “that preserves and promotes a peaceful, prosperous and secure Asia-Pacific region.” The statement adds, “Our mutual cooperation is to expand over time, and we are committed to working in partnership with other like-minded countries to build sustainable patterns of cooperation.”

-- Implement agreements on realignment of U.S. forces in Japan “as soon as possible while ensuring operational capability, including training capability, throughout the process.”

The realignment plan will relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now in the center of Okinawa’s Ginowan City, to a more remote area of the island. It also moves a Marine Corps squadron of KC-130 Hercules aircraft from Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni, transfers elements of the Navy’s Carrier Air Wing 5 from Atsugi Air Facility to Iwakuni, and shifts thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam in the first half of the 2020s.

-- Deploy more advanced U.S. capabilities to Japan such as the U.S. Marines’ MV-22 Osprey aircraft, two squadrons of which are here and will be training with Japanese self-defense forces. Other equipment headed to Japan in the coming years includes Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, in what will be its first deployment outside the United States; rotational deployment of Global Hawk unmanned aircraft; and, in another first deployment outside the United States in 2017, the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing joint strike fighter variant for the Marine Corps.

The four ministers also addressed territorial disputes in the East China Sea, where Japan and China both claim rights to the Senkaku Islands.

While U.S. policy is that sovereignty in such disputes is an issue for the disputing nations to resolve, Hagel reiterated a statement he made in April: since they are under the administrative control of Japan, they fall under U.S. treaty obligations to Japan.

“We strongly oppose any unilateral or coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan's administrative control,” he said. “We will continue to consult especially closely on this issue.”

Hagel closed his statement at today’s news conference with a strong endorsement of the alliance.
“The United States-Japan relationship has underwritten the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region for more than half a century,” he said. “Today, we have helped ensure this alliance continues to do so in the 21st century.”

The secretary also thanked U.S. troops serving here. He will visit some of them tomorrow, before concluding his weeklong trip that also took him to South Korea.

Continuing family support through government shutdown

by Rosemary Freitas Williams
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy

10/3/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS)  -- Our service members, their families and survivors have responded brilliantly to all that's been asked of them, especially since the start of combat operations well over 10 years ago. They have and deserve our respect and support for continuing to serve honorably despite the many challenges associated with the vibrant military lifestyle.

Unfortunately, as we all are now aware, another one of those challenges that all of us will have to contend with is the government shutdown.

The government shutdown is affecting quality of life, family support, and child and youth programs that service members and families value. The purpose of this blog post is to provide guidance as to what to expect regarding the operating status of these programs while the government is shut down:

■Military OneSource: The Military OneSource website and call center will remain fully operational. Military OneSource is a Defense-wide program that promotes the quality of life of service members and their families by delivering information, referrals, confidential counseling and other services in-person, online and by telephone. The service is available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user and regardless of the service member's activation status. Visit their website or call 800-342-9647.

■Child Development Centers (CDCs): Contact your local CDC/installation for details/guidance.

■Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA): Schools will remain open.

■The Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) program: Will continue uninterrupted. The MFLCs will perform routine functions. If an MFLC is unable to access the installation during a shutdown, they will work offsite until they are able to access the installation.

■Military Exchanges will be open world-wide.

■Commissaries will remain open overseas. Stateside commissaries, including Alaska and Hawaii, will be open for a full business day on Oct. 1 to reduce the amount of perishables on-hand. Read the press release from the Defense Commissary Agency for more details.

■Airman and Family Readiness or Family Support Centers: Staffing will be determined by installation commanders.

■Family Advocacy Program: Each service will determine staffing at each installation.

■MWR - Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Programs/nonappropriated fund activities/other operations necessary to support "excepted activities" (i.e. - activities/programs that will not affected by furlough/shutdown) will continue. Examples of these excepted activities are: operation of dining facilities, physical training, and child care activities required to support readiness.

■Education Centers for family members and service members: Will be closed. This includes counseling services, testing centers, learning centers and computer labs. Tuition assistance will not be authorized or granted for new classes.

■My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA): No financial assistance requests will be approved until further notice. However, all spouses with an already approved financial assistance request prior to Oct. 1, 2013 will have their approved requests honored so they can attend class.

■Spouse Education and Career Opportunities counselors will continue to be available to provide comprehensive education and career counseling services. Please call the SECO Career Center at 800-342-9647 or visit the SECO website and continue to monitor the MyCAA portal for updates regarding when financial assistance will once again be available for approval.
It's important to keep in mind that operating hours and status may vary at the local installation level. You can get addresses and phone numbers for installation and state resources available to active duty, National Guard and reserve service and family members at the Military Installations website.

We recognize the incredible commitment and contributions of our military families. Here at Military Community and Family Policy, we are working with the Military Services to keep as many doors open as possible during the government shutdown, operating within the fiscal guidance passed down from the highest levels of DOD leadership, so families may continue to be empowered and thrive amidst these most recent challenges.

Andersen agencies come together for annual fuel spill response training

by Senior Airman Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Team Andersen conducted an annual multi-agency fuel spill response training event Sept. 26 at the 36th Logistics Squadron Fuels Management compound here.

More than 29 people from eight agencies participated in the exercise, including representatives from 36th Civil Engineer Squadron, 36th Medical Group, 36th LRS, 36th Security Forces Squadron and DZSP-21.

The training was conducted to comply with the provisions of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which states parties responsible for a vessel or facility from which oil or fuel is discharged and poses a substantial threat of a spill must have a plan to prevent spills that may occur and a detailed containment and cleanup plan.

Airmen and civilians responded with fire trucks, patrol cars, an ambulance and equipment needed to assess, contain and clean up the simulated 10,000-gallon fuel spill.

Michael Donohoe, Defense Logistics Agency preparedness and planning head contractor, assisted the agencies in their preparation and execution.

"I have 40 years experience in preparing for and responding to oil or fuel spills, so what I do is go to bases and talk to them about their plan and things they can do to be more prepared," he said. "After the discussions, we conduct the field training portion of the exercise."

With the help of representatives from DLA, Team Andersen was able to practice its response plans and inter-agency interoperability.

"Base agencies have specific operating protocols which outlines their response times, who they need to contact or notify and what their roles are once they get to the site," Donohoe said. "What we do is we help identify opportunities to improve communication, improve cooperation and successfully prosecute and minimize the adverse impacts of an environmental spill."

Prior to the field training exercise, the participating agencies held a tabletop exercise to review the processes and be familiar with the representatives from each of the agencies involved.

"The tabletop set us up for success for the FTX by getting everyone to the right mindset and having the opportunity to review what we were supposed to do," Master Sgt. Bobby Richmond, 36th LRS Fuels Compliance Environmental Section chief. "We were able to streamline communication, put faces on organizations and know who to go to for particular concerns.

"Though it's an annual training, we had a combination of people who are new and people who have had years of experience," he continued. "The tabletop reconciled those gaps and got us ready."

Donohoe said that crisis response is always difficult, but the Airmen and civilians who were at the site pulled together as a team.

"I thought it was really good that the support infrastructure here on base was able to identify the opportunity to conduct simultaneous operations," he said. "They delineated and identified the extent of the spill and took initiative to protect and maintain security of the aquifer.

"The people here at Andersen did a great job," he continued. "They are very well prepared. They have good communication skills and were very impressive."

Airmen use SABC, save three from icy water

by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska  -- Every Airman trains for emergencies and Self Aid and Buddy Care then proves their skills during exercises, inspections and deployments. For three Icemen, SABC and communication skills became a real matter of life or death during a family trip May 26.

After seeing a boat capsize in the Upper Chena River, the aircraft structural maintenance Airmen from the 354th Maintenance Group took action to save the lives of three local citizens.

After having their campground flooded by the swelling river and moving to higher ground, Staff Sgt. Travis McKee, Senior Airman Noe Puente and Tech. Sgt. Zach Stewart found the group troubled by the raging water.

Jeremy McDonald, driver, along with brothers John and Billy Minerva and a dog, Cutie, were forced into the water when the current of the flooding river pushed their boat against a log, called a sweeper, and turned the vessel upside down. McDonald, who was temporarily trapped under the boat, wiggled free and reached the shore safely, yet was quickly chilled by the icy water.

The Minerva brothers' situation was far worse.

"As soon as I hit the water my breath was taken away and it seemed like thousands of pounds were crushing me because of the current," said John, the older of the two brothers. "We were both trapped under a log jam and there was no way I could move. I could see and it seemed like I could hear everything, but I just couldn't move. I knew I was going to die."

Almost four feet under the frigid water, John's luck turned. His brother's flailing knocked them loose from the logs and they were pushed even deeper. The rushing current swept them under the jam and into open water.

"As soon as I could, I took a breath, but it was just water," he said. "When we finally made it to the surface we could barely move let alone swim and pull ourselves up. At this point we couldn't even fully breathe because water was rushing over our heads."

McKee and Puente had kept close eye on the water and started running down the shore to a position where they could grab the helpless victims. John said he could hear them shouting directions and pointing out where he was floating.

With little regard for their own safety, McKee and Puente crept along a sweeper into the water and pulled the freezing brothers to safety. Cutie was nowhere to be found.

"We would have certainly died if it wasn't for those Airmen," John said. "Not only in the water, but maybe when we made it out from hypothermia."

The three Airmen quickly went to work bandaging minor wounds from the crash and treating symptoms of hypothermia and shock; all skills they learned from Self Aid and Buddy Care training, McKee said.

"We have been forced to watch [Computer Based Trainings] our whole careers and it seem like nothing but a chore. When you're asked to use the training in an exercise, you fumble through it, but in real life all the practice paid off," McKee said. "It was like second nature communicating and being able to help."

After the group was sure no hypothermia was present, they searched for the dog. After hours of searching miles downriver, Cutie was still missing. The boat had completely sunk and was pushed downstream by the rushing current. The group gave up and Stewart drove the three victims home.

Four days later as the spring runoff subsided, Cutie was found under the boat safe and sound.

"There is no way I would be around to have a dog or do anything if it wasn't for these guys," John said. "I would just like to thank them for sacrificing their own safety to save us that day and for sacrificing every day doing what they do."

Although John and others call them heroes, McKee, Puente and Stewart all have humble attitudes about the event.

"We were just happy to be there," McKee said. "It was just common sense at the time. I would expect anyone to do the same no matter who they are."