Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Face of Defense: Mess Sergeant Makes Most of Culinary Experience

By Army Staff Sgt. Paul Roberts
314th Press Camp Headquarters

SMARDAN TRAINING AREA, Romania, March 31, 2015 – Army Sgt. Raheem Johnson isn’t your typical “mess sergeant” in Forward Support Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Johnson, who hails from Philadelphia, had almost seven years of experience in the culinary field before joining the Army.

He earned his certification in the culinary arts with the Job Corps in Philadelphia and proceeded to work for universities and local restaurants before embarking on a new career path, he said. Johnson chose the military occupational specialty 92G -- food service specialist -- one he has been working in for eight years now.

“Right now the path that I’m on, I’m very happy,” Johnson said.

“I wouldn’t change anything,” he added.

Johnson said his previous culinary experience enabled him to “fast track” while in advanced individual training. Instead of having to go through the full nine-week course, he cut the time in half because of the level of his certification.

“Actually, I’ve exceeded some of my own expectations as far as where I’m at right now,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he’s decided to make the Army a career. His ultimate goal, he added, is to achieve the pinnacle enlisted rank of sergeant major of the Army before he retires.

Leading Soldiers

As a new leader, Johnson said he doesn’t find his challenges come in the kitchen, but in the management of soldiers.

“Just as far as being a leader, a new leader, getting to know soldiers and trying to get the mission accomplished and at the same time, cater to your soldiers’ needs,” Johnson said, has been the challenge.

Even though he has been invited to join culinary competition teams, Johnson said, he doesn’t enjoy competition as much as he enjoys being in the kitchen and working with his soldiers.

“I just enjoy cooking,” he said with a smile. “I enjoy teaching.”

Johnson said he is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with his soldiers and knows that if he isn’t sharing what he knows, then he isn’t the leader that they deserve and need.

“You have to be very logical and have your head in the game when you’re cooking,” he explained. “Your mental stability will be tested.”

Johnson said for him, the ability to share his passion, his drive and his knowledge with soldiers is the highest calling and leads to the true molding of the future in his career field.

USNS Comfort Deploys In Support of Continuing Promise 2015

From a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet News Release

NORFOLK, Va., March 31, 2015 – U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is set to deploy from Norfolk, Virginia, this week to Central and South America and the Caribbean from April through October in support of Continuing Promise 2015, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet officials said today.

During the six-month mission, the Comfort will visit Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama.

“Just as in previous years’ missions, the goal is to increase unity, security and stability by fostering strong partnerships and working as a team to improve the lives of thousands of men, women and children from these countries,” said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet.

‘Real People, Real Needs’

“Continuing Promise focuses on real people with real needs,” he added. “Working alongside local government officials and medical professionals from each of the host nations as well as volunteers from nongovernmental agencies, our teams will work to meet the day-to-day needs of communities and prepare to respond together in disaster relief.”

Continuing Promise is sponsored by U.S. Southern Command, conducted by Naval Forces Southern Command, 4th Fleet. The deployed operation focuses on civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support, and disaster response to partner nations.

The Comfort, operated by Military Sealift Command, will carry over 1,000 people from the U.S. Navy, partner nations and nongovernmental agencies to each country. This year’s mission includes over 50 NGOs, a marked increase in global participation compared to previous years’ missions, officials said. Continuing Promise participants will work alongside local government officials and medical professionals from the host nation to meet the day-to-day needs of communities and assist in natural disaster responsiveness.

Shipboard Hospital

Comfort’s shipboard hospital is configured with specialized medical equipment and staffed by a multi-specialty medical team of uniformed and civilian health care providers to offer a range of services ashore as well as on board the ship.

During Continuing Promise, an estimated 104,000 patients will be seen. More than 400 subject matter expert exchanges will take place, covering medial, veterinary, engineering and environmental health topics; and more than 20 engineering and building site projects will be completed. Hundreds of surgeries will be performed by teams of specialized medical personnel from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and various NGOs, officials said.

Managing acquisition: a PM's perspective

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

3/27/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- There are hundreds of different career fields within the Air Force. All have their roles to play, cumulatively resulting in the aircraft that dominate the skies, satellites that connect us from space, cyber defenses that safeguard our networks and many other warfighting systems.

While we often see and hear about the end capability, it's the behind-the-scenes program manager who is responsible for these assets from cradle to grave.

Hanscom AFB is an acquisition base and home to more than 300 Battle Management and Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks program offices -- programs that total approximately $30 billion.

Currently, Hanscom also employs 488 program managers -- commonly referred to as PMs -- with varying backgrounds, expertise and experiences. Each is suited for a specific acquisition effort and mission.

"I'm new to defense acquisition, compared to some of the other PMs who have decades working with high-level initiatives," said Nick Grudziecki, a PM with three years of experience who currently works within the Next Generation Identification Friend or Foe program office. "As a PM, you're responsible for the program's cost, schedule and overall performance."

Grudziecki and the NGIFF team are working to upgrade a system into E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that has the capability to differentiate between hostile and friendly aircraft.

"That's the great thing about working on a smaller program, you have more responsibility earlier in your career," Grudziecki said. "It helps you better understand the ins and outs of management."

With time comes experience and the opportunity to lead a larger effort. Take the Global Aircrew Strategic Network Terminal, or Global ASNT, program for example.

Global ASNT is directly tied to the Air Force's nuclear mission, since they are the ones responsible for developing and acquiring new, nuclear C3 terminals.

The result will be secure, survivable ground terminals that have the ability to receive emergency action messages via advanced extremely high frequency satellites. Those messages are then relayed to bomber, tanker and reconnaissance aircrews for action.

However, like any job, being a PM is not without its challenges. Money and requirements are the primary ones.

"Having the right amount of money at the right time is critical; you also have to ensure that requirements are being met -- that's the number one job of a PM, and it's not always easy," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Decker, Global ASNT program manager and 17-year defense acquisition veteran. "Information is another thing that can be a challenge. There is a constant flow of information in and out of the program office. How you effectively manage that flow is extremely important."

To successfully clear such obstacles, the Global ASNT PM emphasized that good communication and trust are needed.

"Being able to trust your team, both government and contractor, is huge. If there is a high level of trust and communication, then you'll be able to overcome the inevitable roadblocks that pop up during the acquisition life cycle," Decker said.

In addition to upgrading systems and acquiring new ones, some Hanscom PMs also focus on foreign military sales.

"The Air Force gains a huge benefit from foreign military sales," said Col. Niles Cocanour, chief of International AWACS programs, who has spent a combined 23 years serving as a PM and flight test engineer. "We approve sales based on strategic goals of the U.S., specifically to help meet regional security needs that are in our interest and in the interest of our partner nations.

"Additionally, these sales help maintain a strong military defense industrial base, and we often partner with nations to reduce our own development costs. We also benefit from improved integrations and interoperability with our coalition partners."

For example, the French are upgrading their current fleet of E-3 AWACS with a mission computing upgrade program that aligns their system with the new USAF Block 40/45 system. As a mutual benefit to the U.S., the French have also helped with the integration of the new Mode 5 identification friend or foe system, which in turn aided USAF development efforts.

Hanscom acquisition teams also support countries such as the United Kingdom, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea and Australia that fly AWACS and similar platforms.

They're responsible for not only producing a warfighting capability, but doing so in a timely manner and while reducing costs where possible. And for the PMs located at Hanscom AFB, it's no exception.

"Hanscom is the glue that holds the Air Force together -- we make all the capabilities more effective by connecting the warfighter in ways that give us significant tactical and operational advantages," said Col. Alfonso LaPuma, C3I and Networks deputy director. "It takes a special blend of tenacity, creativity and negotiation savvy to be a PM in today's Air Force."

Carter Details ‘Force of the Future’ at Syracuse University

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke with students, faculty and leaders at Syracuse University in New York this morning, describing his vision and plans for building the “Force of the Future.”

The secretary visited the university on the second day of his first official domestic trip, which began yesterday and included a stop in Pennsylvania to speak with students from his high school alma mater in Abington, near Philadelphia.

Afterward he stopped at Fort Drum in Jefferson County, New York, -- home of the 10th Mountain Division. There, he met with troops who recently served in Afghanistan.

Syracuse University includes the nationally ranked Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Research on Post-service Issues

Also at Syracuse is the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, or IVMF, the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on post-service social, economic, education and policy issues affecting veterans and their families.

“You have done so much to welcome our veterans and their families,” Carter told the audience.

“And now [you’re doing] what we really need,” he added, “which is to couple thoughtful intellectual work to understand the … tremendous opportunities represented by this amazing group of people we call our veterans.”

On March 17, the department, the IVMF and the Schultz Family Foundation announced the launch of Onward to Opportunity. The new national program will deliver tailored, industry-specific training and certifications to service members and spouses on U.S. military bases before they transition to civilian life.

Onward to Opportunity

Onward to Opportunity is designed to give participants the skill sets they need to qualify for jobs with leading U.S. companies, offering a seamless transition from military careers to civilian employment.

Carter said he’s been in his new job as secretary for five weeks and he has a lot on his mind and a lot he wants to accomplish.

“But uppermost in my mind is ensuring that we have in generations to come what today gives us the finest fighting force the world has ever known. And that's not our technology -- that comes second. It's our people,” he said.

This means the department must recruit and attract the best, the secretary said.

He added, “We need to explain, we need to reach out, we need to recruit.”

Thinking Big

But today’s national security challenges are not purely military in character, Carter said, they are also political, economic and social.

“You see that in the role of social media, you see it in the attention we give to conflict prevention and the connection between issues that we used to think were completely different, like public health or Arctic issues and security,” the secretary added.

That’s another way in which the department needs to think big and broadly, he said, “and our people have a lot of that breadth, a lot of that experience. They're a great asset for our country, so when they leave us we continue to consider them ours.”

The department’s obligation is to help service members transition from military life to civilian life, said Carter, adding that Syracuse University is a pioneer in helping service members and their families to make that transition -– “pioneering in thinking and in doing.”

Changing for a New Generation

“We’ve learned things in the last few years through the research of folks here and through the experience of having 2.6 million service members cycle through two very long wars,” he added.

“We’ve learned, for example,” Carter said, “that it's best for [service members] and therefore best for the country if they start thinking about life after the military as long as they’re in the military.”

This is because people today want to think about their futures, the secretary said.

He added, “They don't like being locked into anything. They like the idea of choice and agility and moving here and there.”

“If we're going to have a new generation we … can't offer them a conveyor belt that you get on and you don't move until you get off,” Carter said. “We're not going to be appealing if we do that, so we're going to need to change the way we think about things.”

New Transition Assistance Component

The secretary said the department has recently put in place an improved transition program that will evolve over time. It’s called the Military Life Cycle Model, a new component of the DoD Transition Assistance Program, or DoDTAP, to be implemented soon forcewide.

The model will help service members start preparing for transition early in their military careers, according to the DoDTAP website. Service members will have key "touch points” throughout their military life cycle that will allow them to align their military career with their civilian goals.

The department is committed to the program, Carter said, and is working with other government, state and local agencies and the private sector to ensure its success.

“I think we can improve our game further, and the way we'll know how to improve is to build our programs on the back of careful research of the kind that … this institution -- and this institution almost alone in our country -- is actually doing,” the secretary added.

Part of Something Bigger

Military service is one form of public service, he said, and other forms include working with the university and its schools, or working in policymaking, journalism and more.

“Even as we need to think about conflict and the solution of conflict in the broadest possible way,” Carter said, “we need to think about public service in the broadest possible way.”

He added, “I look out on all your faces, and you wouldn't be here if you didn't have at least an inkling of this. There's nothing better than getting out of bed in the morning and knowing you're going to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

It’s worth everything, worth all the effort, worth all the trouble, Carter said, “and it’s worth not getting paid a zillion dollars, which you're certainly not going to get in public service.”

‘We Care About the Needs of Everyone’

One of the reasons Carter believes the United States is exceptional, he said, is because of the spirit Americans bring to public service.

“We don't just care about ourselves, we care about the needs of everyone, and that's reflected in the way we conduct ourselves around the world,” he said.

“You guys are part of that so I'm grateful to be on your team,” Carter added.