Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Army Sergeant Pleads Guilty for Scheme to Defraud the Military

An Army sergeant pleaded guilty today to bribery and conspiracy to defraud the government for his role in a scheme to steal more than one million gallons of fuel from the U.S. military for resale on the black market in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southeast Field Office, Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte Division, Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko made the announcement.

Christopher Ciampa, 32, of Lillington, North Carolina, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle of the Eastern District of North Carolina.  The sentencing hearing was scheduled for the week of December 15, 2014.     

 “Sergeant Ciampa took bribes to help steal millions of dollars’ worth of fuel meant to support U.S. military operations in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “His greed put his fellow soldiers at greater risk, and his actions stand in stark contrast to the integrity and sacrifice demonstrated every day by the men and women of our Armed Forces.”  

“The DCIS, with our investigative partners, continues to aggressively pursue those who deprive the Department of Defense of much needed resources, such as fuel, critical to accomplishing its global missions,” said DCIS Special Agent in Charge Khin.  “Corruption and theft in a combat environment, especially on such a large scale, degrade the effectiveness of the U.S. armed forces, and increases the danger to our warfighters by diverting those resources to our enemies

“Sergeant Christopher Ciampa betrayed his unit and nation for personal profit by entering into illegal relationships in order to personally profit from the sale and transport of fuel valued at millions of dollars,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Strong.  “These actions, especially in a wartime environment, damage the reputation of all soldiers and impede the success of coalition war efforts.  Those who put the reputation and lives of their fellow servicemen and women at risk will be aggressively pursued by the FBI and our military partners dedicated to upholding justice.”

“Our highly-trained special agents are experts in fraud investigations and untangling webs of lies and deceit,” said CID MPFU Director Robey.  “Whether an individual is in or out of uniform, it makes no difference, we will do everything in our investigative power to see those who defraud the Army brought to justice.”

“The crimes alleged in this case are serious and describe actions that undermine our mission in Afghanistan,” said Special Inspector General Sopko.  “SIGAR will continue to work tirelessly to protect the American taxpayers’ hard earned money and bring the full weight of the justice system to bear on anyone who seeks to rob the U.S. government.”

According to his plea agreement, Ciampa was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group Service Detachment and was assigned to Camp Brown at Kandahar Air Field between February 2011 and January 2012.  During the deployment, one of Ciampa’s chief responsibilities was management of the Transportation Movement Requests (TMRs) for fuel and other items in support of military units in Afghanistan paid for by the U.S. government.

Over the course of the conspiracy, Ciampa and others created and submitted false TMRs for the purchase of thousands of gallons of fuel that were neither necessary nor used by military units.  Instead, Ciampa and his co-conspirators stole the fuel and resold it on the black market in neighboring towns.  Between February 2011 and December 2011, they created false TMRs for 114 large fuel tanker trucks, which could each carry approximately 10,000 gallons of fuel.  All of the TMRs were awarded to a single Afghan trucking company, despite significantly higher rates charged by this company.

As a result of the criminal conduct, the United States suffered a total loss of $10,812,000.  The loss resulted from stolen fuel and payments on the fraudulent TMRs in the following amounts: $9,120,000 in lost fuel and $1,692,000 in fraudulent TMRs for the 114 large tanker trucks.

Ciampa admitted that he and his co-conspirators sent some of the illicit proceeds back to the United States via wire transfer and carried some of the cash in their luggage, and Ciampa hid $180,000 of stolen funds inside stereo equipment that he shipped back to North Carolina with his unit’s gear.  He used his share of the proceeds from the scheme to purchase a truck and other personal items.

The case was investigated by DCIS, FBI, CID MPFU and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Wade Weems on detail to the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section from SIGAR and Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan of the Eastern District of North Carolina.

820th BDG participates in multinational exercise

by Capt. Carolyn Glover and Cpl. Barbara Robinson
U.S. Air Forces in Europe - United Kingdom Public Affairs and RAF Honington Public Affairs

9/23/2014 - RAF HONINGTON, ENGLAND -- Editors note: This article is a localization of "Exercise Global Eagle: force protection specialists from three nations conduct combined training" published on United States Air Forces Europe website. Click here to view the original article.

Members of the 820th Base Defense Group, along with U.K. and French protection specialists, participated in Exercise Global Eagle Sept. 1 through 15 at various Ministry of Defense training locations across the United Kingdom.

During Global Eagle, a combined exercise involving 112 multinational service members, nine-member teams were established with three members each from the 820th BDG from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., II Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment from RAF Honington, England, and Commando Parachutiste De l'Air No. 20 from Air Base 102, Dijon, France.

This year, for the first time, force protection specialists from three different nations came together for two weeks to train and exchange tactics, techniques and procedures on a variety of defense capabilities, including hand-to-hand combat, land navigation and weapons familiarization. The exercise took place in three phases: team-building, military skills execution and Ministry of Defense parachute training. The event concluded with a combined jump out of a RAF C-130J Hercules, where the U.S. and French jumpers earned the British Military Parachute Wings.

Exercise Global Eagle is conducted annually, alternating on U.S. Air Force and RAF installations.

USS Princeton Sailors Celebrate Common Heritage

By Lt. j.g. Rochelle Rieger, USS Princeton Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors from guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) participated Sept. 20 in the opening ceremony football game with Princeton University's Tigers taking on the University of San Diego's (USD) Toreros.

Before kickoff, the Princeton Honor Guard, led by Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Daniel Dimayuga, paraded the American flag while the Princeton University band played the national anthem.

With ties to both teams, it was fitting that the ship and crew be recognized for their military service during the game.

"It was a nice way, and new way, that we got involved with the San Diego community," said Dimayuga. "I am proud to be from a ship with ties to two great schools."

The Princeton University Club of San Diego and the USD Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) worked to get the ship involved. Capt. Chuck Good, commander, USS Princeton, was one of the first to encourage Princeton's involvement with the game.

"We have several USD NROTC grads on board, and I love our homeport of San Diego," Good explained. "But we are also the Princeton Tigers, named in honor of the battle in Princeton, New Jersey."

Midshipman 3rd Class Charlie Berger, USD Class of 2017, helped the honor guard to set up on campus.

"It was great to have a ship, homeported here, reach out and want to get involved," said Berger. "The connection with both universities playing in the game made this the perfect opportunity."

More than 60 Princeton Sailors attended the game, including Lt. Cmdr. Nick Hoffman, Princeton's chief engineer and former University of San Diego running back.

"My whole family is dressed to cheer on the Toreros," exclaimed Hoffman. "I told [Capt. Good] we couldn't cheer on Princeton [University] today, although we will see what he says on Monday."

USS Princeton is the sixth Navy ship to share a name with the university. The flag of the 'fifth Princeton,' the aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CV 37), hangs in the school's library, while the ship shares the Tiger as her mascot.

Google Maps Records Virtual Tour of USS Constitution

Story Number: NNS140922-24Release Date: 9/22/2014 4:41:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution worked with Google Maps to record a virtual tour of 'Old Ironsides' this morning aboard the ship.

Google Maps photographed the ship to create a virtual 360-degree experience of Constitution in preparation for the ship's scheduled dry-dock period in March 2015.

"People around the country and across the world will have the opportunity to experience Constitution online," said Cmdr. Sean Kearns, Constitution's 73rd commanding officer, "This capability will be especially important while most areas of the ship are inaccessible during her restoration."

The 216-year-old warship will be added to the list of historical landmarks that Google Maps has available for online tours. Among the list are the Taj Mahal, The Louvre Museum, underwater reefs, and regular street views from around the world. To date, Google Maps has been able to cover 57 different countries.

The Constitution, however, is considered a "street view special collect," said Curt Fennell, a Google Maps Systems Administrator, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

"We like to have as much information as possible, it's our mission. The USS Constitution is a national treasure. Since she will be unavailable for a few years, we want to make her available for viewers from all over," Fennell said.

'Old Ironsides' will be moving to dry-dock in 2015, and the restoration is scheduled to last three years.

The virtual tour will help Constitution and history enthusiasts view and experience the ship as she presently looks at her berth in Charlestown Navy Yard before preparations begin to de-rig and offload the ship in the upcoming months.

USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.

Military Nursing Exchange provides unique opportunity

by Senior Airman David Owsianka
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/22/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Two hundred and eighty military nursing professionals from throughout the Asia-Pacific region gathered for the eighth annual Asia-Pacific Military Nursing Exchange Sept. 1 through 5 at the Republic of Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy, Daejeon, ROK.

The APMNE is a multilateral international military nursing engagement. It provides a unique opportunity for U.S. military nursing leaders to engage with senior military nursing colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region on issues of mutual interest, exchange knowledge and expertise, promote excellence in nursing practices, enhance professional relationships and foster healthcare interoperability between the nations.

"It's critical for Air Force nurses in Korea to be able to interact with our Korean military medical counterparts," said Lt. Col. Richard Wallen, 51st Medical Operations Squadron commander. "Having a better understanding of how their nurses are trained and how they view readiness better prepares us to work collectively as a coalition if any contingency should arise."

This multilateral exchange establishes an environment where Asia-Pacific regional nursing leaders are able to develop and mature in order to build a regional network of shared expertise.

The objectives include building, maintaining and maturing military nursing partnerships and enhancing nursing capability and capacity through shared techniques, tactics and procedures and enlisted nursing personnel development.

"It's important for military members to come together to discuss our different ways of operating," said. Brig. Gen. Kyung-Hye Choi, Korea Armed Forces Nursing Academy superintendent. "This benefits us as we work together during international disasters."

The APMNE focused on topics such as medical and clinical research, management of trauma and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives, force health management, disaster management, enlisted force development and military health care delivery systems.

"There are many challenges and opportunities we face as a nursing community," said Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Headquarters U.S. Air Force assistant Air Force surgeon general, medical force development, and chief of the nurse corps, office of the surgeon general. "This conference brings us together as a nursing profession, so that we can learn from each other and advance the profession of nursing thereby improving the health of not only our military personnel, but our countries entire population."

Countries with representatives who attended the exchange are Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinnea, Peoples Republic of China, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and United States.

Minuteman III test missile launches from Vandenberg

by Air Force Global Strike Command
Public Affairs

9/23/2014 -  BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile today at 7:45 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The ICBM's reentry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, included Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, North Dakota.

"This launch is the result of months of hard work and preparation by both our team here at Vandenberg, Airmen from Minot AFB and engineers from the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center," said Col. Kelvin Townsend, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. "This launch validated our teamwork and demonstrated a strong and visible display of America's deterrent and global strike capabilities."

"Like all Airmen in 20th Air Force and Task Force 214, the Airmen of the 91st Missile Wing are dedicated and highly-proficient in maintaining, securing and operating the ICBM leg of the nation's strategic deterrence capability," Col. Michael Lutton, 91st MW commander, said. "This launch allowed us to demonstrate that excellence."

Minot AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24-7 year round, overseeing the nation's 450 ICBM alert forces.

The entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation.

The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

Pope father and son win gold medals at U.S. Open Taekwondo competition

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs

9/22/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A Pope Airman and his son recently won gold, silver and bronze medals in several taekwondo events during the 6th annual U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang competition held in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

Master Sgt. Stephen Wall, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, his wife Staff Sgt. Melissa Wall, 43rd Medical Squadron and son Kelan, 7, traveled to Colorado Springs with 19 other competitors from Spring Lake's U.S. Taekwondo Center led by Grand Master Myong Sok Namkung Mayes, a 9th Dan black belt who is known in South Korea as 'The Living Legend'.

Wall won gold medals in the three events he competed in, creative and power breaking and traditional forms. Kelan competed in four events and won gold medals in creative breaking and forms, a silver medal in traditional pairs and a bronze medal in traditional forms. There were a total of 1,600 competitors from 26 states and South Korea in this year's two-day competition.

"Kelan and I came out shiny after the tournament. Our school won 35 gold and a combined total of 54 medals by 20 competitors--a huge success," said Wall. "With the teamwork and commitment of our team, the families and the instruction provided by the staff at the Spring Lake USTC, we are able to keep the traditions, heritage and discipline of martial arts alive in Spring Lake," he said.
Wall started practicing martial arts over two years ago when his youngest son Mason, 5, expressed an interest in the sport along with Kelan who has been practicing taekwondo for 3 years. They practiced every day at the Spring Lake USTC after work and school in preparation for their first visit to this tournament. Mason was too young to compete in this year's tournament but plans on competing in next year's tournament.

"Kelan has been training since he was four and is like a child prodigy when it comes to taekwondo. He picks it up fast and will obtain his black belt in December, which is very quick for his age. My other son, Mason and I are currently blue belts," said Wall.

Melissa coordinated all of training and many of the fundraising events in order to help offset the expenses that went along with putting together an amazing experience for all of the Spring Lake USTC families that helped bring home the medals from Colorado said Wall.

Wall has been selected for a 1-year short-tour assignment to South Korea later this year, but plans on attending next year's tournament in Colorado Springs during his mid-tour leave to watch both of his sons compete.

Taekwondo sparring is very well known as an Olympic sport. However, because of the high skill level and physical conditioning needed to be successful at sparring, the average Taekwondo School in the United States only has approximately 10 percent of the student body participating in sparring class and competitions. The U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang events are for the other 90 percent of Taekwondo students who do not participate in sparring. The U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang offers the opportunity for the 90 percent to display their skills in traditional forms, creative forms, creative board breaking, power breaking and demonstration team events.

Soldiers vie for Expert Infantryman Badge

by Sgt. Brian Ragin
4/25th IBCT Public Affairs

9/23/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICAHRADSON, Alaska -- Paratroopers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division tested for the Expert Infantry Badge Sept. 9 through Saturday at Camp Mad Bull.

The EIB is awarded to Soldiers who hold infantry or Special Forces military occupational specialties. To earn the EIB, Soldiers must complete level 1 task infantry

In 1944, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall initiated the development of an award to honor U.S. infantryman. Then, on March 29, 1944, Army Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair presented the first EIB.

Testing for the EIB is done over a five-day process, which tests Soldiers on the Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, weapons master skills testing stations, individual tactical test lanes, and a 12-mile foot march.

The APFT kicked off the first morning with more than 600 hundred candidates in attendance. The APFT is the first graded event and cannot be retested. The APFT measures the candidates' physical endurance and conditioning.

"EIB usually loses about 30 percent of the candidates the first day because of the PT test," said Army Staff Sgt. Stuart Williams, EIB cadre. "Then probably about half of them to land navigation."

Land navigation tests took place the first afternoon and night after the APFT. Land navigation tests the abilities of the candidates to navigate from one point to another using a map and compass while equipped with individual combat gear. This is the second graded event and also cannot be retested. With the unusual downpour of rain, the candidates' resolve was challenged.

"Weather definitely has been a factor," said Army Staff Sgt. James Martell, EIB cadre. "You can definitely see morale dropping. They're wet, they're tired, and for the most part they're hungry."

The master skills testing stations and individual tactical test lanes were split into three separate sections: blue, red and white. The MST stations evaluate an individual's proficiency in common infantry weapons systems. The ITT lanes evaluated a candidate's ability to demonstrate to standard their tactical and technical proficiencies on infantry tasks.

The lanes were conducted during the next three days ending on the night of Sept. 12.

"I got my EIB in 2009. It was one of the first lane style EIBs that went through," said Army Staff Sgt. Benjamin Cross, EIB cadre. "I took as many notes as I could, studied all the material they gave me. I took one task at a time. I didn't get ahead of myself thinking about the next lane for the next day. I focused on the lane ahead of me."

"I remember this day when I came through," Martell said. "Every time I went through a lane, I was nervous. You just have to keep a clear head and not let it fluster you. Stay cool, calm, and collected. Make sure you're hitting your performance measures and talk yourself through the task."

On Saturday morning, the candidates finished off testing with the completion of the 12-mile foot march. They were given three hours to complete the march. At the end, they were given a weapons proficiency skill test in which they broke down their M4 Carbine. Completion of this event was the end of testing, and the candidates received their badges in a ceremony.

621st CRW, Army gain sling-load experience

by By Gustavo Gonzalez
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

9/22/2014 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The 621st Contingency Response Wing teamed up with the New Jersey National Guard's 1st Battalion, (General Support), 150th Aviation Regiment (GSAB), stationed at the Trenton-Mercer Airport, to conduct training for both units at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Sep. 16.

Approximately 14 Airmen from the 817th and 818th Contingency Response Groups, and three members of the 1-150 GSAB teamed up to conduct a re-vamped sling-load familiarization training.

The Airmen received classroom instruction early, then the team did the hands-on training to conduct the sling-loads in the afternoon.

Once the Airmen arrived in the field for the hands-on portion of the training, three cargo loads, including a Humvee, were rigged. As a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hovered over the cargo about eight feet in the air, the Airmen hooked up the load under the Blackhawk. After the Airmen cleared the area, the Blackhawk was free to move the cargo.

"This is a great opportunity for our guys to get hands on experience and actually conduct sling-load operations," said Master Sgt. Eric Sullivan 818th CRG maintenance flight chief and course instructor. "Additionally, the 1-150 GSAB has a pilot getting trained as well. It's to get everyone comfortable and confident."

According to Sullivan, the sling-load is important because it gives commanders another option to move cargo.

"With a helicopter we can land almost anywhere," he said. "And if the roads are impassible, this is a method where we can get there without driving."

The 621st CRW is based at both here and Travis Air Force Base, California, because of the by-coastal location of the unit, their past sling-load training was a challenge to standardize.

"Before, we were doing our own thing on the East Coast, and they were doing their own thing on the West Coast," Sullivan said. "Now, we re-vamped and consolidated the training so that it's all one program."

Sullivan also indicated that the 1-150 GSAB gained valuable experience during the training.

"They currently have people deployed real-world doing this very mission," Sullivan said. "So this training is definitely beneficial for them to re-qualify and certify their guys on this."

According to Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, 818th GMS ramp coordinator and course student, the sling-load training went exceptionally well, and everyone in the course was able to learn a lot of practical knowledge and experience.

"I feel the training is especially valuable for the CRW as it gives us yet another tool to accomplish our very diverse sets of missions," Davis said.