Saturday, February 22, 2014

Somerset Arrives in Philadelphia for Commissioning

By Chief Mass Communications Specialist (SW/AW) Elena Pence, Somerset Public Affairs Office

PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- The Navy's newest amphibious transport dock ship, Pre-commissioning Unit Somerset (LPD 25) arrived at its commissioning site of Philadelphia, Feb. 21 in preparation for its commissioning ceremony, March 1.

During the port visit, Somerset Sailors are scheduled to participate in several community outreach events including working with the Boys and Girls Club and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Somerset's Command Master Chief Larry Lynch said the Sailors are really looking forward to the week of activities.

"Every Sailor on board has achieved and encountered many challenges bringing this ship to life," said Lynch. "The commissioning week is giving them an opportunity to show their family, friends, the city of Philadelphia, and especially the family of the United Flight 93 crew and passengers, the amount hard work they have put into this ship."

Somerset Sailors said they are also looking forward to the opportunity to work with the local community.

"I think it is important for us to take every chance we get to help the community," said Petty Officer First Class Michael Caldera. "I think a great way for us to say 'thank you' is by giving back."

Caldera said that community events give Sailors a chance to tell people about the history of Somerset while honoring the passengers and crew of flight 93.

"Our motto says it all - Courage through Adversity," said Caldera.

The third of the three U.S. ships named in honor of those victims and first responders of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Somerset will join USS New York (LPD 21) and USS Arlington (LPD 24) which are already a part of the Navy's combat force.

USS Somerset represents the heroic actions of the 40 crew and passengers of United Flight 93 honoring their collective sacrifice and the tremendous courage displayed in the face of overwhelming adversity. Had it not been for their brave actions, the terrorists would have reached their intended target and countless more lives would have been lost.

The March 1 commissioning ceremony is a formal ceremony and time-honored tradition that places a warship in active service as a member of the Navy's operational fleet. The event is not open to the general public. Upon formal commissioning USS Somerset (LPD 25) will proceed to its homeport of San Diego.

Bilateral U.S., Japan missile defense exercise promotes security and integration

by Capt. Justin Billot
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

2/21/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Personnel from the U.S. military and Japan Self Defense Forces engaged in the week-long "Integrated Air and Missile Defense Wargame V" here to strengthen ties between the two nations and unite missile defense operations through bilateral training.

Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Japan Air Self Defense Force and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force descended upon the shores of Oahu to participate in the bilateral and joint exercise.

Japan Air Self Defense Force Maj. Gen. Yutaka Masuko, director of the defense plans and operations directorate at the air defense command headquarters, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Rear Adm. Ryo Sakai, commanding officer of escort flotilla one, led a team of japanese air and missile defense planners during the exercise. The 613th Air Operations Center, of Pacific Air Forces, hosted the event.

"The goal of this exercise is to continue bilateral integration between our two nations to promote the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region," said Maj. Gen. Kevin Pottinger, mobilization assistant to the PACAF commander. "Integration and ally engagements are keys to the success of mutual defense of Japan and continued free access to the Global Commons."

The event is a continuation of previous exercises that provide opportunities for members from each nation to work together as well as enabling important joint U.S. training. Bilateral engagements are central to U.S. and Japanese shared goals of security and regional stability, according to Pottinger.

"We have made great progress working with our Japanese allies to enhance the integration of our air and missile defense operations," Pottinger said. "This exercise strengthened our highly synchronized, bilateral control of integrated air and missile defense."

The high fidelity, table top exercise was ran by the Naval War College's Gravelly Group and challenged Japanese Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces with a series of simulated events throughout a five day period. Ultimately, these simulations provide realistic training opportunities for defense personnel, while generating actionable and knowledgeable feedback for missile defense planning. For many members, it was the first time working alongside allies in the Pacific.

One aspect that required no simulation was the efforts required to coordinate defense training across two different languages. Even with the outstanding English skills of the visiting JASDF officers, the fast pace of a missile defense exercise and its complex, highly technical vocabulary made the role of key language translators absolutely essential in the bilateral exchanges.

IAMD Wargame V is one of many bilateral exercises this year. These engagements ensure that, when it comes to security and stability in the Pacific, Japanese and U.S. forces are speaking the same language.