Sunday, May 25, 2014

U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Submarine Forces Altantic Give Support to Jason Dunham Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Derek Paumen

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander of Submarine Forces Atlantic visited Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), May 21.

During their stay, Gortney and Connor took a tour of the ship, including the combat information center (CIC), bridge, central control station, chief's mess and mess decks, greeting Sailors in each space. While in CIC, Gortney and Connor observed operations and took to the 1MC to thank the Sailor's for their hard work during Submarine Commander's Course-40 (SCC-40), a three-day exercise that simulates anti-submarine warfare for Jason Dunham.

"They greatly appreciate all of the Sailors, not only here but also on all of the other vessels involved," said Cmdr. Michael W. Meredith, commanding officer of Jason Dunham. "It's tough. This is a great extra event because of the training we receive, but again it's more time away from home. I know they appreciate that because they have served a long time themselves."

"This is the most realistic submarine versus surface training in the world," said Connor. "The training absolutely makes a difference in succeeding or failing. If we were to go to war next week, the torpedoes we'd shoot would look and feel just like the ones we use in this exercise. We are training like we fight."

Gortney and Connor finished their visit by reenlisting Quartermaster 3rd Class Kayla Franklin, handing out their coins and taking group pictures before embarking onto a small boat to go to their next visit.

"Any day I can come see the American Sailor at work is a great day, that's why I am out here," said Gortney.

Obama Visits U.S. Troops, Leaders in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2014 – President Barack Obama marked Memorial Day with a visit to U.S. leaders and service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Obama arrived for the unannounced visit last night and is already on his way back to Washington. It was his fourth trip to Afghanistan since taking office, White House officials said. He last visited the country in 2012.

The president met with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Dunford gave the president a battlefield update. Officials on the trip said the president also discussed U.S. troop levels for the NATO follow-on operation Resolute Support and other post-2014 plans.

The president met with service members and visited wounded troops in the military hospital at Bagram. Brad Paisley, a country singer who accompanied the president, warmed up the crowd for Obama, officials said.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, spoke to reporters on the flight over, according to a pool report from Air Force One.

Rhodes said that the administration saw the trip as “an opportunity for the president to thank American troops and civilians for their service.”

There were no meetings scheduled with either Afghan President Hamid Karzai or the two candidates in the run-off elections in Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani. Rhodes said that the White House wanted to make sure the trip focused solely on the troops and not internal Afghan politics.

“We have been looking for some period of time to come to Afghanistan,” Rhodes said. “After the first round of the election, we thought it would be a good time to come for a troop-focused visit.”

Rhodes said the president will provide some additional clarity on his thinking about Afghanistan in the next few days.

WWI Airmen remembered at French Memorial Day event

by Capt Reba Good

5/25/2014 - MARNES-LA-COQUETTE, France --  -- Two hundred French and U.S. citizens gathered at the Escadrille Lafayette Memorial just outside of Paris, May 24, for a ceremony honoring fallen American volunteer pilots who flew with the French military in WWI.

These volunteer Airmen created the Escadrille Lafayette, or the Lafayette Squadron, and fought along side France before and after the United States officially joined the war in April, 1917.

Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa vice commander, and members of the USAFE-AFAFRICA honor guard and band participated in the ceremony.