Saturday, August 02, 2014

Carrier Strike Group 10 Changes Command

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Thomas Miller, Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey relieved Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney as commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, during a change of command ceremony aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), August 1.

Sweeney assumed command of CSG 10 Aug. 17, 2012 and led Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group as it completed a series of complex training exercises, achieved all required operational certifications, and completed a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.

The July 2013-April 2014 deployment, delayed from its original start in February 2013 due to sequestration, saw the strike group supporting a variety of missions ranging from maritime security operations to supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

"It has been an absolute honor and privilege to work with such outstanding professionals over these past two years," said Sweeney. "We executed a wide array of operations together throughout an incredibly demanding time and we successfully met every challenge. We completed a demanding, compressed certification schedule in early 2013 and were ready to deploy before we were delayed in the final hours due to sequestration. Without missing a beat, we charged through five months of sustainment training before finally deploying for nine months. I couldn't be more proud of the young Sailors and Marines of the Harry S. Truman Strike Group for all they accomplished. They executed with the utmost precision and professionalism."

Two ships assigned to the strike group won the 'Battle E' efficiency award during Sweeney's tenure - USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64)- were both named as the best ships in their respective classes on the East Coast.

"I look forward to seeing the continued success in everything the strike group does," said Sweeney. "With the highly trained professionals of the strike group and Admiral Lindsey's leadership, there is no doubt in my mind that CSG 10 will continue to set the standard around the fleet."

Lindsey said he feels very fortunate to be selected to command a U.S. Navy carrier strike group.

"I'm excited to be back on the waterfront with the best Sailors in the world," Lindsey said. "CSG 10 and the Harry S. Truman Strike Group have a remarkable reputation throughout the fleet and I am honored to be joining such a superb group of war-fighting professionals. I look forward to building on the myriad successes that Admiral Sweeney and his team have achieved over the last two years."

Lindsey, who most recently served as the deputy director for Operations on the Joint Staff, previously commanded Antisubmarine Squadron 29, USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

Both Sweeney and Lindsey are members of the U.S. Naval Academy's class of 1982.

US Strategic Command Launches Nuclear Commanders Course

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Byron C. Linder, U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (NNS) -- U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) leadership welcomed more than 20 Navy and Air Force officers to the inaugural Nuclear Commanders Course at USSTRATCOM, July 31.

The new two-day course provides a series of briefings and tours of USSTRATCOM's nuclear deterrence assets. It expands upon the existing training given to nuclear commanders and instilled a foundational understanding of USSTRATCOM's role in building and maintaining the nuclear war plan, its nuclear command and control capabilities, and their unit's role in the deterrence mission.

The course traces its origins back to the USSTRATCOM Strategic Weapons Command course, which was established in 2009 and focused toward the Navy ballistic missile submarine commander and executive officer communities. The current Nuclear Commanders Course expands the audience, course curriculum and scope to include Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile, bomber, and refueling tanker squadron commanders.

Commander, USSTRATCOM Adm. Cecil D. Haney has prioritized the enhancement of up-and-coming nuclear commanders' professional development by providing them with a headquarters-level perspective on the nuclear deterrence mission.

"Adding a senior leadership perspective will give participants a broader strategic view of how everything for our critical deterrence mission fits together - from priorities and current operations to the planning process, future requirements and funding," Haney explained. "I also firmly encourage our leaders to personally reinforce the importance of integrity and ethics throughout the entire DoD nuclear enterprise. To accomplish this goal, we must all weave integrity into the fabric of everyday life within our organization."

Robert Shindel, action officer for planning and developing the Nuclear Commanders Course, explained how this was achieved.

"The headquarters perspective provides more insight into their relationship to the nuclear enterprise. In addition to some of the normal courses, we went into the Global Operations Center to show them an exercise on the commander's decision brief and show where their particular units interface with the decision the commander makes," he said. "The idea behind this course is to show that USSTRATCOM is in line with [Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's] emphasis on the nuclear deterrence force structure."

Patrick A. McVay, director of Joint Exercises and Training at USSTRATCOM, emphasized the benefits of the Nuclear Commanders course extend beyond the course participants.

"This really is a win-win situation," he said. "The prospective commanders get to see the importance of what they do every day for the security of the nation. They also get senior leadership's perspective and guidance. The command gets better leaders in the field because they have a better understanding of their mission - it helps them connect the dots."

Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Christiansen, prospective executive officer of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to have personal interaction with USSTRATCOM leadership.

"It's great to be briefed by the admiral himself. In past courses, I haven't always had that opportunity, so it was great to hear his thoughts on our position and what's coming up and how important our role is," he said. "Making sure the [commanding officers] and [executive officers] are aware of our role and how vital it is in the success of the nuclear enterprise and how focused the government and the DoD are on the nuclear deterrent force is crucial to our success."

Lt. Col. Maria Hatchell, Commander, 92nd Force Support Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., added her accolades and praised the larger view the course provides.

"It's very eye-opening - as I thought it would be. This helps expand my knowledge base on how to better support operations. If you don't know what you're supporting, how do you know if you're doing a good job or not?," she asked. "I'm going to recommend this course to some of my peers when I get back. This is going to be very valuable as we move forward."

McVay noted he was looking forward to future iterations of the course.

"This course will certainly evolve and progress - the quarterly format and student feedback will help us to continuously improve," he said.

USSTRATCOM is one of nine DoD unified combatant commands and is charged with strategic deterrence, space operations, cyberspace operations, joint electronic warfare, global strike, missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, combating weapons of mass destruction, and analysis and targeting.

Fuerzas Comando 2014; One Champion, All Winners

By Army Staff Sgt. Angel Martinez
113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT TOLEMAIDA, Colombia, Aug. 2, 2014 – After a week of intense heat and extreme competition, Fuerzas Comando, the annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored special operations skills competition, came to an end July 31 with a closing ceremony at Fort Tolemaida, Colombia.

Seventeen nations competed to earn the title of best special operations forces team in the Western Hemisphere.

For the sixth time in 10 years, the team from the Republic of Colombia hoisted the coveted Fuerzas Comando cup. The U.S. team, comprised of members assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, placed second and El Salvador was third.

“We are very proud of what we accomplished during the competition and it gives us pride to know how well we completed against elite men from nations like Colombia and the U.S.,” said a member of the El Salvador team. “We look forward to competing again next year and trying to win the cup back for El Salvador.”

El Salvador is a two-time Fuerzas Comando champion.

Even though Colombia came out on top, a much more important reward was bestowed upon the international competitors. The experiences shared and the friends gained throughout the eight-day competition overshadowed medals and trophies.

“You are all winners,” Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, the commander for Special Operations Command South, said during the ceremony. “The relationships fostered amongst all of you throughout the competition will last a lifetime. You must build upon these friendships and work together to fight against the common threats we face throughout our hemisphere.”

Honduras, Panama, Jamaica, Peru, Uruguay, Canada and Costa Rica filled out the remaining top 10. Other countries that participated were Paraguay, Chile, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Suriname.

During the closing ceremony, all 17 teams were standing across the field as they did in the opening ceremony, but this time the feeling of accomplishment and pride were visible after eight days of grueling challenges that took each team to their physical and mental limits.

“The 12-mile road march was one of the toughest events in Fuerzas Comando because we had to dig deep for that one. We knew we had to beat Colombia in order to stay on pace with them,” said a U.S. Special Forces soldier assigned to 7th Special Forces Group.

He added that the team put a lot of emphasis on doing well in the road march event.

“It was one of those events we are always counted out of because of poor performances in the past,” the soldier said. “After we won that event, we gained a lot of respect from all of the other countries and became real contenders for the cup.”

The second place finish is the best performance by the U.S team since the competition was established in 2004.

As in the opening ceremony, the Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, congratulated each nation competing in Fuerzas Comando.

“You are the elite of the elite of your nation,” he said. “As a Colombian, I have a sense of pride with the victory of the Colombian team but you should all be proud of what you have accomplished.”

Following the ceremony, Bueno personally congratulated each of the teams.

For the Colombian team, winning back-to-back Fuerzas Comando titles is something they are not taking for granted.

“We respect each of the teams out here, and we know how hard it is to win this competition,” said a member of the Colombian team. “The great thing about Fuerzas Comando is the friendships we make with people from different countries. We are very proud of this accomplishment and look forward to defending the title next year.”

Special Operations Command South, based in Homestead, Florida, serves as the execution agent for Fuerzas Comando. The event is aimed at enhancing training and strengthening ties among Special Operations Forces in the Western Hemisphere.

Fuerzas Comando is scheduled to take place in the Central American nation of Guatemala in June 2015.

USS Ross Departs Souda Bay

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Herman, USS Ross Public Affairs

SOUDA BAY, Greece (NNS) -- Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) departed Souda Bay, Greece, following a scheduled port visit, July 29.

Ross was in Souda Bay for three days, while the ship refueled and met incoming personnel. The port visit allowed the crew an opportunity to experience some of the culture and sights the island of Crete has to offer.

"It went great. The crew really enjoyed being able to get out and explore what Crete has to offer," said Cmdr. Tadd Gorman, Ross' commanding officer.

While in port, Sailors visited the historic town of Chania, Crete's second largest city. Morale, Welfare and Recreation also provided several tours.

"Greece was awesome. Great food, the water was clear and I loved the culture," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Joan Aparicio. "It makes the long hours and late nights [underway] all worthwhile."

Ross' presence in Souda Bay reaffirmed the United States' commitment to strengthening ties with NATO allies and partners, while working toward the mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.

Ross, forward deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.