Military News

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Command of USS Toledo Changes Hands to Toledo Native



By Lt. Timothy Hawkins, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- A Toledo, Ohio, native assumed command of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769), May 16, during a change of command ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.

About 500 family, friends and crew members looked on as Cmdr. Michael Majewski relieved Cmdr. Sam Geiger to become Toledo's ninth skipper.

The bar has been set high for Majewski who grew up in the ship's namesake. Geiger is widely praised within the submarine force for exceptional leadership that led to high crew retention and morale.

He assumed command in June 2011 and is credited with fostering an environment that enabled his 157 officers and enlisted personnel to succeed.

Toledo exceeded every metric of performance during Geiger's tenure, said guest speaker Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, director of the Navy's Warfare Integration Division.

"Top inspection results, unequaled performance at sea, mission execution...," said Breckenridge, illustrating how Geiger "delivered the highest standards of leadership."

Geiger led the ship during a nearly seven-month overseas deployment in 2012, followed by an 18-month maintenance period at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton.

"Every milestone was met with the crew ready to execute," said Geiger, a native of Monroe, Louisiana.

Toledo earned the numerous awards under his watch, including Submarine Development Squadron 12's 2011 Damage Control 'DC', Medical 'M', Communication 'C' and Navigation 'N'. Toledo also received the squadron's 2012 Battle 'E' and Navigation 'N'.

"Take my word for it, these men performed at a superior level," said Geiger who gave his crew the credit. "It has been my greatest honor to serve with you," he told crew members just before relinquishing command.

Geiger is slated to remain in Groton and report to Submarine Squadron 4 as a deputy commander.

Majewski enlisted in the Navy immediately following high school. He quickly received an appointment to the Naval Academy and graduated with a bachelor's in systems engineering in 1996.

He has a master's degree in mechanical engineering and has served aboard fast attack submarines USS Tucson (SSN 770), USS Newport News (SSN 750), and USS Cheyenne (SSN 773).

Majewski's most recent assignment was as a Navy special projects officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.

"Together we embark on a path that will lead us back to the tip of the spear," he told his crew after assuming command, signaling the ship's renewed focus on at-sea operations now that scheduled shipyard repairs are complete.

Toledo was commissioned in February 1995 and is one of 41 active Los Angeles-class submarines that are the mainstay of the Navy's fast attack submarine force.

Battaglia Salutes Troops on Armed Forces Day



By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va., May 17, 2014 – The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised military members serving worldwide and recognized the sacrifices of fallen warriors in remarks following an Armed Forces Day wreath laying ceremony here today.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia joined the services’ senior enlisted leaders, each of whom affixed their seals to the ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as the U.S. Army Band played Taps.

“Like many burial grounds, here are housed and harbored America’s heroes -- the hundreds of thousands of men and women who for more than 238 years proudly wore the cloth of our nation,” Battaglia said.

The sergeant major said that President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single-day opportunity for citizens to thank service members for their patriotism in defense of the nation.

On Aug. 31, 1949, Battaglia said, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day, a single-day celebration recognized annually on the third Saturday in May.

“The wreath we laid, placed in honor of our fallen and because our comrades in arms who rest here throughout the rolling hills and sacred grounds, though in spirit … still serve … we celebrate Armed Forces Day with them,” Battaglia said.

Arlington Cemetery, he said, is a proper place to observe Armed Forces Day.

“Here we are encircled among those brave and courageous men and women past and present, currently serving, active and Reserve, National Guard, living veterans and our fallen who proudly serve our country,” he said. “What … better place for us to thank those in uniform who play such a critical part protecting America’s freedom and liberty and those entrusted with safe-guarding our national code?”

Battaglia also recognized deployed service members, who he said are “standing the watch, patrolling the perimeters, and eliminating the threat.”

Secretary Supports HHS Request for Assistance



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the use of an unused building on a Texas military installation for temporary housing of unaccompanied alien children under the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement released yesterday.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

“At the request of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel today approved the use of a vacant dormitory at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to serve as a temporary housing facility for unaccompanied alien children under Health and Human Services' care.

“Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will temporarily house up to 1,000 minors identified by the Department of Homeland Security in the facility on a reimbursable basis for up to 120 days, where the children will remain under the supervision and care of ACF program grantees.

“The secretary was pleased to be able to assist in this manner. It's another example of the department's ability to respond rapidly to requests in support of federal partners.”

According to a U.S. Northern Command news release issued yesterday, Hagel directed Northcom, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, to provide a facility at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for use as temporary housing for children who were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol and are now being cared for by HHS’s Administration for Children and Families.

The minors in the facility will to be under the supervision and care of ACF program grantees, the Northcom release said. Within HHS, the release continued, the ACF is responsible for providing care and shelter to children referred by immigration authorities.

The San Antonio-Lackland facility is one of several housing units built on base between 1968 and 1973, and it can accommodate up to 1,000 people, the Northcom release said.

Northcom’s Army component command, U.S. Army North, which is headquartered in San Antonio, is responsible for coordinating the DOD support with HHS and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the Northcom release said.

Northcom and its components provide DOD-unique capabilities in support of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Interagency Fire Center, and other federal, state and local officials, the Northcom release said.

U.S. Naval Hospital Guam Officially Opens



From U.S. Naval Hospital Guam Public Affairs

AGANA HEIGHTS, Guam (NNS) -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the newest Navy Medicine West facility, U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Guam, May 16.

USNH Guam Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Plummer welcomed everyone to the ceremony and thanked all the personnel responsible for the new facility.

"The first thing I think we should do is thank the command families," Plummer said. "With long days and nights, extra shifts and working through holidays, there was a lot to do to get ready to move into the new facility. We could not have done it without the hard work and dedication of our staff and the support of our families."

The replacement hospital was built to provide a more efficient, modern hospital infrastructure, which meets all current building, electrical, mechanical, and structural seismic codes and standards. The hospital also offers more efficient patient, staff and supply circulation and improved survivability from earthquake and typhoon damage.

"This is amazing brick and mortar, but what it really is, is an environment of care, a statement of construction and the latest and greatest technology that says to all those who enter, we care, that this is centered around you," said Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, Surgeon General of the Navy, Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. "We stand by in Navy Medicine to fulfill our commitment and our motto to you every day, 'World Class Care Anywhere, Anytime.'"

The official party consisted of the Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, Congresswoman of Guam; Nathan; Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne, Commander, Joint Region Marianas; Capt. Glenn Shephard, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas commanding officer; Kevin McClain, Watts, Webcor, Obayashi president; and Robert Snider, Sherlock Smith & Adams Inc. president.

Naval Station Everett Conducts Exercise Citadel Protect



By Mass Communication 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Naval Station Everett (NSE) coordinated with tenant commands and local authorities for the anti-terrorism training exercise Citadel Protect, May 13-15.

Designed to simultaneously train and evaluate security reaction teams on NSE, the exercise simulated several anti-terrorism scenarios including an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), chemical weapons, active shooters, and small boat attacks.

"It's a higher level exercise that tests our ability to defend the base," said Mark Brooks, the installation training officer for NSE. "It gives our security personnel an opportunity to show what they've learned over their training cycle and display their talents during a pretty realistic scenario."

Coordination was key during the exercise. The guided missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) and Naval Branch Health Clinic Everett participated, coordinating with NSE's security team and emergency response forces. First responders from the city of Everett and local hospitals also participated in the drill.

One of exercise's main scenarios involved small boats attacking Shoup while moored to NSE's pier. Sailors on the ship's security team had to repel the attackers with machine gun and rifle fire. Another pivotal scenario involved active shooters on NSE's piers firing upon Shoup and NSE personnel.

The exercise's final scenario involved the explosion of an IED equipped with a toxic chemical agent. During the scenario, security teams had to secure the area, allowing rescue and medical personnel to evacuate injured Sailors to hospitals and assign them treatment as needed.

According to a watchstander who participated in the exercise, training like this is very important to preparing for the worst in real life.

"If we don't practice for it, we won't know how to react when it happens," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Julio Jauregui, a native of San Pedro, Calif., who acted as watch commander during the IED explosion scenario. "Not every scenario is going to be the same, whether it's an exercise or a real-world scenario, but at least I'll have a template in my mind as far as what I need to accomplish."

Although a primary focus of the exercise was to evaluate the security forces' performance and coordination, this particular drill also emphasized creating a realistic environment for participants.

"We routinely do training, but it's rarely that we get to do this high level training," said Brooks. "[It] is the most realistic training environment that we can give both the ship and Naval Station Everett Security personnel."

Automatic weapons using blank rounds were used during the drill, introducing realistic sights, sounds, and smells into the training environment.

"When we do our training, we normally use red plastic guns. When we're doing that, we can't simulate a jam, we can't simulate a stoppage, we can't simulate [being] out of ammunition," said Lt. j.g. Cory Zebian, a native of Colleyville, Texas, and force protection officer aboard Shoup. "Here, when we're using real weapons with blank ammunition, if you have a jam, you have to clear it to keep shooting. If you run out of ammunition, you run out of ammunition.

Special laser emitters attached to participating Sailors' weapons also added to the realism, allowing trainers to accurately count how many hits were scored onto an enemy combatant or small boat.

"It teaches our guys a little more discipline with their shooting," said Zabian. "It's as close to real life as we're going to be able to get."

Realistic effects were also used to simulate wounds on Sailors involved in the chemical weapon IED Explosion.

"Making it realistic shows where we have our deficiencies and where we need to improve our response to whatever the situation is," said Jauregui.