Military News

Sunday, April 06, 2014

DHS Secretary to Attend Sea-Air-Space Event



ARLINGTON, Va. — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will attend the Sea-Air-Space Reception and Dinner April 8 at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.  During the event, which caps the second day of the Navy League’s April 7-9 exposition, Johnson will join Navy League National President James H. Offutt and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert in presenting the Admiral Arleigh Burke Leadership Award to Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The theme for the 2014 expo is “The Sea Services: Forward. Mobile. Ready.” Registration for Sea-Air-Space is free and open to active-duty, Reserve and retired U.S. military personnel; U.S. federal, state and local government employees; members of Congress and their staff; representatives of foreign embassies; representatives of exhibiting companies; Navy League members and invited guests of the Navy League.

This year’s Sea-Air-Space, the largest maritime expo in North America, has a robust professional development program, featuring more than 100 key decision-makers from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Maritime Administration participating in panel discussions and roundtable sessions as well as in briefings on the show floor.  Additionally, more than 180 exhibitors, including 18 military commands, will display some of the latest technologies, activities, products and services.
Registration information can be found at www.seaairspace.org. Contact Rebecca Grapsy at rgrapsy@navyleague.org or 703-312-1581 with any questions.

NMCSD Nurse both Caregiver and Coach at Wounded Warrior Games



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Sean P. Lenahan, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- In July 2009 Cmdr. Lauren Nilsen, Registered Nurse in the U.S. Naval Reserves, was deployed to Landstul Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany as a charge and staff nurse.

There, over the course of four years, she worked with U.S. Army medical professionals, U.S. Air Force medical professionals, Navy medical professionals and civilians in treating wounded military personnel during Operation Iraqi freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. LRMC serves as the nearest treatment center for wounded soldiers, Sailors, and Marines medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It was shocking," said Nilsen, still to this day somber at the memory of the influx of patients at the LRMC. "It was a huge learning curve as a nurse, dealing with so many multiple extreme wounds."

Even though medical staff had days off, Nilsen explained sometimes it was challenging to enjoy time away without feeling guilty while your patients were lying in a bed.

"Often I couldn't get the legs, the peppering, the mortar wounds, suicide bombing attacks, that traumatic look in [the patients] eyes and parents in the states crying on the phone, thanking me for taking care of their son or daughter, out of my head," recalled Nilsen. "It was very, very real."

Nilsen felt privileged to tend to the U.S. troops and allied warriors who were treated in Germany, yet she wondered what happened to those patients after they left LRMC.

"Sometime in late 2011, I saw online the Warrior Games and recovering wounded troops competing in Paralympic sports," said Nilsen. "It made me feel so much better to see these pictures and videos of their smiles, camaraderie, and intense sports competition and celebration."

According to the Team USA website, the Warrior Games were first held in 2010 to foster physical activity through Paralympic sports.

It was exactly what Nilsen was looking for because she has been avidly involved in the sport of volleyball for the majority of her life. Playing volleyball for the first time in 7th grade, then Nilsen played NCAA Division I Volleyball for four years, 12 years on the All-Navy Women's Volleyball Team, seven years on the U.S. Armed Forces Volleyball Team, and competed in two International Military Sports Council World Games. Naturally, she decided to get involved in the Warrior Games as soon as possible to bring her skills to her former patients and others.

In June 2012, Nilsen returned to the states and met Brent Peterson, head sitting volleyball coach of U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Wounded Warrior Regiment and soon after began coaching alongside him.

"Right off the bat, she had a connection with the guys and was very personable," said Peterson. "She is a very humble, genuine, and caring person. She does this because she loves doing it and it is a huge asset to the team and to me. One-hundred percent is what she gives."

Nilsen is thankful to Peterson for giving her the opportunity to coach.

"I think the Head Coach Brent Peterson is one of the most positive forces on the planet," said Nilsen. "He is exceptionally amazing with the USMC athletes and I am truly grateful for his coaching mentorship, for being so inclusive and so welcoming."

Since her involvement with the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment volleyball team she has coached the team at the 2012 & 2013 Warrior Care Games at the Pentagon, the 2013 USMC Warrior Trials, the 2013 Warrior Games, the 2014 USMC Sitting Volleyball Camp and most recently the 2014 USMC Warrior Trials, which took place with 300 marines and 10 NATO countries. They had approximately 100 seated volleyball players - including USMC vets and Marines from Battalion East and Battalion West, Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Columbia and New Zealand. The trials generate the top USMC athletes to compete in the 2014 Warrior Games to be held this September in Colorado Springs.

Nilsen explains what it is like seeing her patients in action again.

"I have seen seven of my patients from LRMC via the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment adaptive sports program," said Nilsen. "Seeing them was surreal. There would be laughs and hugs. I'd get the chills and my eyes would often fill up. If anyone wants a dose of greatness, inspiring character, selflessness and spirit - just spend some time with our recovering U.S. Armed Forces wounded, ill, and injured and then watch them compete in sports."

Marine veteran Josh Kelly, a sitting volleyball player and previous patient of Nilsen, tells how Nilsen has made an impression on him and others.

"You can have just one conversation with her and tell that she is a person who cares about others and has a good heart," said Kelly. "She is a positive and enthusiastic coach. For some of us Marines [her style] opens up a different door than what we are used to. She gets an understanding across to you and all of the guys say she is very receptive as a coach."

Nilsen humbly gives all of her thanks to the military for this chance to reconnect with her former patients.

"There is no way I could have had the life I've had without being in the Navy," said Nilsen. "When I was in other countries serving, helping others, playing volleyball, and even as a tourist, it helps the U.S. and Navy by showing the world an American's humility and a genuine goodness. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had via the Navy."

Nilsen currently serves as a Navy reservist and drills at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The upcoming 2014 Warrior Games are scheduled for Sept. 28 through Oct. 4 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 200 service members and veterans are expected to compete in sports such as cycling, archery, shooting, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, and sitting volleyball.

Hagel Discusses U.S.-Japan Defense Relations in Interview



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the defense relationship between the United States and Japan, the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, U.S. and partner-nation efforts to promote peace and stability in the region, and other issues during his question-and-answer interview with The Nikkei newspaper.

An article written from that interview was published on Nikkei’s website early today.

The text of the interview follows:

NIKKEI: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been seeking to ease the ban on Japan's ability to engage in collective defense while the Japanese and the United States governments plan to review defense cooperation guidelines by the end of this year. The security environment in Northeast Asia continues to present challenges, such as China's military build-up and North Korea's nuclear development program. How should the US-Japan alliance and cooperation between US forces and Japan's Self Defense Forces address these challenges? What roles and capabilities do you expect from Japan?

SECRETARY HAGEL: One of the messages I want to convey on my fourth visit to Asia is that the security relationships the United States enjoys in this region have been essential to economic growth and stability for the last 60 years. The U.S.-Japan Alliance and mutual defense treaty has been the cornerstone for tremendous progress. When Secretary of State John Kerry and I visited Tokyo in October, we announced alongside our counterparts at the “2+2” meeting that the United States and Japan are working to meet the regional and global challenges of the 21st century by upgrading the capability of the Alliance. We will do that by revising the bilateral defense guidelines, expanding security and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, and implementing the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

The United States recognizes Japan’s long-standing commitment to regional and global peace and stability and we welcome Japan’s efforts to play a more proactive role in the Alliance, including by reexamining the interpretation of its Constitution relating to the right of collective self-defense. We also support expanding the role of the Japan Self Defense Forces within the framework of the Alliance, investing in cutting-edge capabilities, improving interoperability, modernizing force structure, and adapting Alliance roles and missions to meet contemporary and future security realities. Because of these enhancements, I believe that the U.S. and Japan can and ultimately will do more together to continue to advance prosperity and security in the region and around the world.

NIKKEI: With the policy of rebalancing to Asia-Pacific, what does the United States expect of Japan, especially Japan's Self Defense Forces?

SECRETARY HAGEL: Our strong relationship with Japan remains vital to the rebalance. And since the rebalance is all about improving capabilities and cooperation, I think the ongoing review of the bilateral defense guidelines will prove enormously helpful as we seek to identify areas where the Japan Self Defense Forces can expand their role within the Alliance. I expect our conversations on this visit to include dialogue in the areas of emerging domains like space and cyberspace. And I want to take the opportunity to once again commend the Japanese Self Defense Forces for their participation in Humanitarian Assistance Relief missions in South East Asia over the past year. They have made a real difference in the lives and livelihoods of many people.

NIKKEI: Recent moves by China, including its declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) as well as provocative actions near Senkaku Islands, have increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation. How would the US respond in the case of such a contingency? Some people view China's behavior similar to Russia's annexation of Crimea; do you agree?

SECRETARY HAGEL: China’s ADIZ announcement was a provocative, unilateral action that raised tensions in one of the world’s most geopolitically sensitive areas, including territory administered by Japan. It clearly increases the risk of a dangerous miscalculation or accident that could escalate quickly and dangerously. We are urging all involved parties to exercise restraint, while encouraging China to work with Japan and South Korea to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels, to reduce the risk of accidents and miscalculation.

NIKKEI: Some members of Congress argue that the Obama administration's weak response to China has emboldened Beijing and led to its provocative actions in the East and South China Seas. What do you think of such criticism?

SECRETARY HAGEL: As a former member of the United States Congress I know there are always going to be different views on the key challenges facing our nation. But I reject the notion that we’ve been weak on China, or on any other aspect of our relationships in the region.

First, this administration has been clear and it has been firm: the Senkakus are administered by Japan and fall within the scope of Article V of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.

Second, we oppose any act by any nation to intimidate or coerce others with respect to territorial claims. We’ve made that assertion publicly and privately to the Chinese, and we will continue to do so.

We will remain the Pacific power we have always been for so many years. We will uphold our security commitments in the region. And we will continue to work hard to help underpin the stability and the prosperity for which the people of the Asia-Pacific -- including American citizens -- have labored so hard to produce.

China and Japan are the world’s second- and third-largest economies and have a shared interest in a stable environment to facilitate economic prosperity. Neither of these two important countries, nor the global economy, can afford confrontation and crisis and the United States will continue to encourage both nations to work to find a peaceful resolution to these disputes.

NIKKEI: At the trilateral summit on March 25th, President Obama, Prime Minister Abe and South Korean President Park agreed on further cooperation in the form of joint military training exercises and missile defense. Would you propose a minister-level meeting to discuss the details of the security cooperation among the three countries? Do you have any concerns regarding South Korea's reluctance to defense cooperation with Japan? Are you concerned that the tension between Japan and South Korea could affect US policy and strategy towards Asia?

SECRETARY HAGEL: The United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Japan regularly meet to discuss defense and security cooperation issues. Last year we met together on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and I look forward to doing so again this June. Later this month, the Pentagon will host a Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) Plenary session at the Deputy Minister-Director General-Assistant Secretary Levelr level to discuss cooperation, dialogue, and transparency between two of our staunchest Allies, Japan and the ROK. Enhancing trilateral cooperation is critical to preserving regional peace and stability - that is a message I have brought to leaders in both Tokyo and Seoul. I will continue to do so.

NIKKEI: It has been nearly twenty years since the United States and Japanese governments reached an agreement to return the Futenma Air Station. Are you frustrated with the delay in implementing the Futenma relocation plan? If the Japanese government further fails to settle the dispute over the relocation plan, do you think that the permanent presence of Futenma becomes inevitable?

SECRETARY HAGEL: I very much welcome the approval of the landfill permit request in December, 2013 that will allow construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) to proceed. I want to take this opportunity once again to thank Prime Minister Abe and Defense Minister Onodera for their assistance in achieving this breakthrough. It is a key milestone that comes after many years of hard work between the United States and Japan – and I am grateful we have taken this significant step together. It brings us closer to realizing the vision of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap and toward achieving a sustainable U.S. military presence with less impact on the Okinawan people.

In our April 2012 “2+2 Joint Statement”, the United States and Japan reconfirmed the view that the current FRF plan at Camp Schwab-Henoko Bay remains the only viable alternative to the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. This effort is critical to our ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and our ability to maintain a well-distributed and politically sustainable force throughout Asia. Along with the relocation of Marines to Guam and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, moving forward with the relocation of MCAS Futenma will reduce our footprint in the most populated part of Okinawa and enable the return of significant land south of Kadena Air Base while sustaining U.S. military capabilities vital to the peace and security of the region.

We are committed to working with Japan to realize the expeditious construction of the FRF and realignment of U.S. forces. We continuously explore new ways to reduce the impact of U.S. facilities on Okinawa and are committed to being a good neighbor.

US, ROK Forces Wrap Up Exercise Ssang Yong 2014



By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Carla Burdt, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs

USS BONHOMME RICHARD - At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from Expeditionary Strike Group Seven (ESG 7) and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3d MEB), along with their counterparts from the Republic of Korea (ROK), wrapped up exercise Ssang Yong 2014, April 5.

Ssang Yong, Korean for "twin dragons," is an annual, bilateral amphibious assault exercise conducted in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation by Navy and Marine forces with the ROK in to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations from disaster relief to complex, expeditionary operations.

"What Ssang Yong 2014 is all about is demonstrating the capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps amphibious team," said Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, Commander ESG 7. "There is more than just amphibious warfare, and that is working with our partners, working with our allies. This is one of those unique opportunities that we have to really integrate ourselves and work as an equal team as we project power."

The exercise was the first to include a joint, combined command and control headquarters which was led by Wetherald; ROK Rear Adm. Chun Jung-soo, commander, Flotilla Five; Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, commanding general, 3d MEB; and ROK Brig. Gen. Cho Kang-jae, deputy commander Landing Force.

More than 20 ships and 14,000 Sailors and Marines participated in the exercise.

"I've always said that our navies, any of our partners' navies, are stronger when we work together than when we work apart," said Wetherald. "As we brought the two flagships together, 500 yards apart from each other, that was really emblematic of the capability we have out here and how strong we are when we work together."

During Ssang Yong 2014, 13 landing craft, including Landing Craft Air Cushion and Landing Craft Utility transported 263 pieces of equipment weighing a total of 3,328,494 pounds. The equipment transported included, six M1A1 tanks; High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles; Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements; Internally Transportable Vehicles; and, other equipment between Marine Prepositioning Forces (MPF) and Navy assets.

"We moved more than three million pounds of equipment over five days via landing craft," said Capt. Michael Allen, Commander Amphibious Squadron 11 (PHIBRON 11) combat cargo officer. "During the rehearsal and 'D-Day,' the dynamic schedule came together and we executed perfectly. For two nations to come together and achieve what we did was phenomenal. We learned how to best communicate in order to identify priorities and get people and equipment to the beach."

ESG 7 and 3d MEB also flew more than 800 aerial missions in support of the exercise and 74 U.S. and Korean amphibious assault vehicles were used during the amphibious landing. For Ssang Yong 2014, ESG 7 included the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Boxer ARG and 3d MEB included the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the 13th MEU.

"This was a tremendously complex exercise with thousands of Marines and thousands of Navy Sailors, over 20 ships coming together and, then, immediately executing," said Wetherald. "It was a true and tried example of a mature relationship."

USS Coronado Commissioned in Namesake City

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Donnie W. Ryan, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif (NNS) -- More than 4,000 guests watched as the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) joined the Navy's surface fleet during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., April 5.

Coronado is the fourth littoral combat ship, the second of the Independence variant, commissioned into service and will be be outfitted with reconfigurable mission packages and focus on a variety of mission areas including mine countermeasures, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

"On behalf of the Secretary of the Navy, it's my pleasure to welcome the return of the name USS Coronado to the fleet," said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson, guest speaker for the ceremony. "There is no finer city for this celebration, and no more Navy pride than there is in Coronado."

Ferguson talked about the nation's expectations of today's Navy and the role littoral combats ships like Coronado will play in the overall defense strategy and the Navy's ability to operate forward.

"The Navy's enduring forward presence ensures the security of the seas," said Ferguson. "With her speed, shallow draft and mission packages, Coronado is perfectly suited for service around the globe."

Susan Ring Keith, the daughter and stepdaughter of Navy admirals and a long-time leader in the San Diego community, was named as the ship's sponsor and christened the ship Jan. 14, 2012 during a ceremony in Mobile, Ala.

"I want the crew to know that they will carry the hearts and thanks of all the residents of Coronado. We are so proud of what you do for us and so proud that you carry our name," said Keith. "Now, I want you to man this ship and bring her to life."

The 2,790-ton Coronado was built by Austal USA Shipbuilding in Mobile, Ala., at a cost of $400 million and is 417 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 100 feet, and a navigational draft of 15 feet. Coronado uses two gas turbine and two diesel engines to power four steerable water jets and can reach speeds in excess of 40 knots.

Cmdr. Shawn Johnston, a native of North Carolina, is the commanding officer of the ship's Gold Crew. Cmdr. John Kochendorfer, from Dan Point, Calif., is the commanding officer of the ship's Blue Crew. Both will lead core crews of approximately 40 officers and enlisted personnel.

Hundreds of residents of Coronado, Calif., along with many city leaders including the mayor, attended the ceremony.

"I am happy to tell you that Coronado has been a proud Navy town for well over 100 years," said Mayor Casey Tanaka, who presented both Johnston and Kochendorfer a key to the city. "Please place this key somewhere all your Sailors can see it so that they know whenever they drive over the bridge or up the strand, that when they see that number of 26,600 people who live here in Coronado, they know they are one of us now and forever."

Named for the city of Coronado, Calif., LCS 4 is the third Navy ship to bear the name of the "Crown City." The first USS Coronado (PF 38) was a patrol frigate and served as a convoy escort during World War II.

The second USS Coronado (AGF 11) was designed as an Austin-class amphibious transport dock (LPD) and was reconfigured to be an auxiliary command ship (AGF) in 1980 and subsequently served as the Commander, Middle East Force flagship, then the Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet flagship in the Mediterranean, and subsequently the Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet flagship in the Eastern Pacific Ocean prior to decommissioning in 2006.

LCS vessels were designed to be high-speed, shallow draft multimission ships capable of operating independently or with an associated strike group. They are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in coastal waters.

A fast, maneuverable, and networked surface combatant, LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

LCS delivers combat capability from core self-defense systems in concert with interchangeable, modular mission packages and an open architecture command and control system. Modularity maximizes the flexibility of LCS and enables the ship to meet changing warfare needs, while also supporting rapid technological updates. LCS employs advanced tactical networks to share information with aircraft, ships, submarines, joint and coalition units both at sea and shore.

Providing warships ready for combat, developing Sailors, and training crews to fight and win are the subjects of Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet's "Vision for the 2026 Surface Fleet." This vision consolidates a set of objectives and policies to maximize surface force readiness by concentrating on warfighting ability, sustainable excellence and wholeness over time.