Sunday, March 02, 2014

NOSC New London Changes Commanders

By Information Systems Technician Seaman Alexa Gonzalez, SUBASE Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Cmdr. Keith Powell relieved Cmdr. Matthew Stracker as commanding officer of Naval Operational Support Center (NOSC) New London during a change of command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London, March 1.

"A NOSC [commanding officer] must be a leader of his full-time staff, an exemplary member of the community, a steward of taxpayer dollars and a conduit through which reserve units get the resources they need to train and be ready," said Capt. Randy Johnson, commanding officer, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (NMRA) Reserve component, who served as the ceremony's guest speaker. "A reservist that isn't ready is something that the Navy cannot afford right now."

NOSC proved its readiness under Stracker's command by scoring a 96 percent on their NRMA Reserve Component assessment, "One of the highest scores received by any NOSC this year," added Johnson.

Since Stracker's tenure began in February 2012, NOSC successfully mobilized 25 Sailors to commands in areas such as Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Horn of Africa.

"The purpose of NOSC is to make sure that its reserve personnel are mobilization ready to deploy around the world when needed and to make sure they are able to provide support to their gaining commands," said Stracker. "The biggest thing is making sure my Sailors are ready to deploy without any issues. Having zero Sailors that have failed to sail is the most important accomplishment,"

NOSC New London directs 14 units throughout SUBASE consisting of some 250 Selected Reserve Component Personnel who support commands such as the base's Naval Security Forces.

As Stracker heads to his next command at the Office of the Chief of the Navy Reserve at the Pentagon, NOSC's new commanding officer hopes to continue the command's tradition of excellence.

"I look forward to continuing [Cmdr. Stracker's] great work," said Powell. "The NOSC here has a lot of pride and a top-notch staff."

Powell was previously the Director of War Gaming at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and is eager to take charge and continue the NOSC's vision of providing the highest quality of service and support.

"People look at NOSC in this region and can tell that New London does it right," said Powell. "I'm excited to take over such a professional organization and continue the success of providing mobilization ready Selected Reservists to the Navy."

NOSC New London is one of two NOSC commands in the State of Connecticut that drill one weekend a month and deploy Navy Selected Reservists to commands across the globe.

The mission of NOSC is to provide highly motivated, qualified and mobilization-ready Citizen Sailors to the Fleet in order to serve as the force multiplier and strategic depth necessary for the successful completion of the full range of operations of the U.S. Navy from peace to war.

Hagel Discusses Ukraine, Budget on ‘Face the Nation’

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 2, 2014 – Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged a diplomatic approach to resolve what he described as a “dangerous situation” in Ukraine.

The secretary explained the Defense Department’s strategic interest in Ukraine upon his recent return from a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels where he saw strong support for the beleaguered nation.

“This is a time for careful, wise, steady leadership,” Hagel told “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer. “The tensions increase and I think all nations have to be very careful here of not promoting any more tension through provocative action.”

Following a Ukrainian pro-democracy coalition’s recent ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian government, the Russian military has been reported to be operating in and around the Crimea region in southeastern Ukraine, where the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet has its principal base in Sevastopol on the Black Sea. The Crimea region is home to an ethic-Russian majority populace.

Hagel emphasized that diplomacy would be the appropriate path to support the Ukraine, which he called a sovereign, independent nation.

“They have been a responsible, new independent member of the global community since the implosion of the Soviet Union,” Hagel said of Ukraine. “We have European Union and NATO interests that border Ukraine [and] these are people who want to be free, who deserve to be free.”

Following today’s meeting in Brussels of NATO’s North Atlantic Council the council condemned the Russian Federation’s military escalation in Crimea and expressed its grave concern regarding the authorization by the Russian Parliament to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, according to a NATO news release.

“Military action against Ukraine by forces of the Russian Federation is a breach of international law and contravenes the principles of the NATO-Russia Council and the Partnership for Peace,” the NATO release added. “Russia must respect its obligations under the United Nations Charter and the spirit and principles of the OSCE, on which peace and stability in Europe rest. We call on Russia to de-escalate tensions.”

Russian military escalation of the situation in Ukraine “would set in motion so many different dynamics that are not in anyone’s interest,” Hagel said.

Turning to another subject, the secretary noted the Defense Department’s need to adjust to a more dangerous and complicated world, including the cyber threat.

“Not unlike every war the United States has been in, you reset your posture … your assets … your whole enterprise based on the new reality and based on preparing an institution for the challenges of the future,” Hagel said. “We’ve increased cyber assets … special operations … we’re focusing on readiness, capability, capacity … our ability to do the things we need to do in the … interests of the strategic guidance [President Barack Obama] laid out in 2012.”

But, Hagel acknowledged that security threats to the United States continue to exist and shift, leaving little room for complacency.

“Five years ago,” he said, “there wasn’t the same focus or reality of what a cyber attack could do to this country … [how it could] paralyze this country, bring our economy down without any nation firing a shot.”

And, the threat of terrorism remains and will persist into the future, Hagel said. Yet, while the requirement to defend the nation remains, the methods employed to do so are influenced by today’s budgetary realities and changing technology, he added.

“The fiscal constraints that are being placed on the Pentagon to make very tough choices here are very significant,” Hagel said.

He addressed accusations of balancing the budget on the “backs of those who have fought in war.”

“This isn’t just an arbitrary unilateral approach to try and slow the growth just to slow the growth,” Hagel said. “We’ve got to look at the long-term commitments to our people.”

Hagel noted that half of the DOD budget pays for compensation, retirement and medical care, which will increase significantly.

“We’re not cutting. We’re proposing slowing growth in certain areas,” Hagel said. “We think this is responsible. We don’t think it breaks faith with our people, but we have to reposition [and] I’ve got to be able to keep a modern military.”

Break Point Goes to Putin

All the talking heads on the Sunday talk shows this morning seemed to be reaching for the smelling salts as they tried to hype the “crisis” of Russian troops moving west into the Ukraine and Crimea. What a difference a day, or two, can make. On Friday, President Obama warned that President Putin should not do that.  On Saturday, President Putin did just that.  Also on Saturday, the National Security Council met to discuss this issue.  President Obama did not attend.  

The Russians brought about 2,000 troops and enough armored vehicles to let everyone watching that they, unlike our President,  prefers action to posturing.  “What does this mean?” the talking heads asked, as they consulted other talking heads.  What it means, quite simply, is that Russia, what’s left of the Soviet Union, is rebuilding its buffers and protecting its Navy in the Black Sea, which is what anyone who has an appreciation of history in this part of the world would expect.  From all indications so far, I’d say it’s a good bet that they will do just that.

What will the West do?  Probably nothing.  We’ve done enough “nation building” and “democracy spreading” during the past decade to last a lifetime  and really don’t have much to show for it.  We’ve failed in Iraq and are now begging Karzai to let us stick around in Afghanistan  after 2014 for no reason that makes any sense to any sane person.  We have chewed up a great military in both of these adventures by refusing to get serious with radical Islam and corrupt, tin horn tyrants such as Hamid Karzai.  What, exactly,  have we done in the past few years to make our military stronger and more fearful to a guy like Putin?  What have been our major initiatives?  Let’s just list three to give you an idea.  Gays can now serve openly, women can serve in ground combat units and the end strength of the Army will be cut by some 20%. None of these will likely terrify Putin, who knows the difference between strength and fluff.  In addition, we have also pulled NATO into the adventure in Afghanistan that will, more than likely, lead to the end of this organization.  Had Afghanistan been a success, then NATO could remain somewhat relevant but not now.  Afghanistan has been hard on all members of NATO and, once they leave Afghanistan, they will go home and try to heal their wounds.  A force that has been defeated in Afghanistan by rag-tag Taliban is hardly the kind of force you want if you are going to go up against a real strong man like Putin, regardless of what they tell the press.  Love him or hate him, Putin deserves respect because he knows how things work in the real world.  Unfortunately, our President is still stuck somewhere in Chicago as a community organizer, trying to figure out what’s happening.

The truth is, Putin knows Obama better than Obama knows Obama.  He enjoys making Obama look small because it is so easy to do.  Remember, he came to Obama’s rescue last year in Syria after Syria crossed the line Obama said it could not cross.  He bailed him out again in Iran.  And don’t forget that the Olympics were a tremendous success in spite of Obama trying to embarrass Putin by having gays lead our delegation to the Winter Games.  Through all of this, Putin has watched our President and had come to the conclusion, long ago, that he is definitely not dealing with a Ronald Reagan.  He has watched Karzai push Omaba around for years and get away with it in Afghanistan. Considering all this, why should he fear any threat from Obama?  He also knows something else.  Any opposition to what he wants to do in the Ukraine will have to include the United States.  This does not worry him.  About all the protest we can seem to muster is to cancel some meaningless summit in June.  
This might be a big deal in John Kerry’s neutered, silk-draped  State Department, but not in the Kremlin.  This is not the kind of threat that keeps a mjohn an like Putin awake at night.

About the Author
Lieutenant Colonel John Lewis Cook, United States Army (Retired), “served as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan, with responsibility for developing the force structure for the entire Afghan National Police.  As of 2012, this force totals 157,000.  From March 2008 until August 2012, his access and intimate associations with all levels of the Afghan government and coalition forces have provided him with an unprecedented insight into the policies which will determine the outcome of the war.  It is this insight, coupled with his contacts and associations throughout Afghanistan that form the basis of Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure.

John Cook is not new to war zones.  In addition to four and a half years in Afghanistan, he has spent over two years in Vietnam as an intelligence officer and became the youngest District Senior Advisor in Vietnam.  He was one of the first intelligence officers in Vietnam responsible for the implementation of the Phoenix Program, the most successful counterinsurgency program ever initiated by the U.S. military.  Upon his return from Vietnam, he authored The Advisor: The Phoenix Program in Vietnam, recognized as one of the premier texts on defeating insurgences, now in its third edition, and Rescue Under Fire: The History of Dustoff in Vietnam. Screenwriter Gregg Moscoe is currently working on a screenplay adaptation of Rescue Under Fire.  He has written additional books, including Amos Tarr: Native Son, an absurdly humorous and highly fictionalized story based on childhood recollections of his Appalachian roots. 

John Cook graduated with a B.A. from the University of Delaware and has a Master’s Degree from Boston University.  He is considered an expert in counterinsurgency, having written doctrine on this subject for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center & School.  In addition, he is the recipient of the Silver Star, 3 Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Vietnamese Medal of Honor and several other combat and peacetime awards.  He has served as the publisher and editor for the Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Journal.  His recollections of Vietnam are included in Ron Steinman’s “A Soldier’s Story” both as a book and television documentary.

Newest Navy Warship Commissioned in Philadelphia

By Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Elena Pence, USS Somerset Public Affairs

PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- USS Somerset (LPD 25), the Navy's newest amphibious transport dock ship, commissioned during a formal ceremony at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, March 1.

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 likely reached their intended target and countless more lives may have been lost.

Thousands of guests, including military veterans and family and friends of the crew, witnessed the ship coming to life and enter the naval service. Distinguished guests included the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Jonathan Greenert and the Honorable Pat Toomey - United States Senator, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, delivered the principal address and spoke of the ship and employment to the nation.

"Somerset is a welcomed edition to the Fleet, make no mistake, this vessel along with the other San Antonio Class Amphibious ships represent America's commitment to security around the world," said Amos. "When this ship sails the worlds oceans, she will carry the spirit and determination and the fighting spirit that has always defined America."

Somerset's commanding officer, Capt. Thomas L. Dearbon, spoke of her crew and her namesake's heroic actions.

"We are here today to not only honor and pay tribute to the heroes of United Flight 93, but also to celebrate the commissioning of this great ship USS Somerset," said Dearborn. "Somerset will leave a legacy that will never be forgotten by those wishing to do harm to this country. A ship is but a steel vessel, it is the crew that brings the ship to life. USS Somerset is truly a fine warship and the crew that mans her, is second to none."

At the conclusion of the remarks, Somerset's ship sponsor, Mrs. Mary Jo Myers, the wife of former Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, gave the time-honored command to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

"[Flight 93 passengers and crew members] exemplified such courage and bravery that day as they sacrificed themselves to protect others and to rally our nation they were indeed the first warriors in this war on terrorism," said Myers. "Today we come together as families, but mostly as Americans to celebrate and witness this momentous occasion and wish the USS Somerset and her crew Godspeed."

The commissioning was the culmination of a week-long celebration in Philadelphia honoring the ship, her crew and the legacy of the 40 passengers and crew member of United Airlines of Flight 93. The ship will be homeported in San Diego.

NATO Official Urges Russia to De-escalate Tensions in Ukraine

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 2, 2014 – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today urged Russia to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, according his statements contained in a NATO news release.

Rasmussen commented on the situation in Ukraine before attending meetings of the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels.

“I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation,” Rasmussen said in the release.

Following a Ukrainian pro-democracy coalition’s recent ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian government, the Russian military has been reported to be operating in and around the Crimea region in southeastern Ukraine, where the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet has its principal base in Sevastopol on the Black Sea. The Crimea region is home to an ethic-Russian majority populace.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter, Rasmussen said in the release. Russia’s actions in Ukraine, he added, threaten peace and security in Europe.

“Russia must stop its military activities and its threats,” Rasmussen said. “Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security and for NATO's relationship with Russia. Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.”

NATO supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Rasmussen said.

“We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference,” he said. “And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected.

“Ukraine is our neighbor,” Rasmussen continued, “and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.”

Rasmussen said NATO urges “all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation.

“In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” he added.