Military News

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Ops AF brings Academy, ROTC cadets to Malmstrom

by John Turner
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


7/2/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Cecily Agu is looking forward to receiving her commission as a second lieutenant when she graduates from the United States Air Force Academy in two years. She wants to go into space operations but she can also foresee herself becoming a missile officer.

Brandon Williams dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot. As he prepares to enter his sophomore year at a university in California, he hopes the Reserve Officers Training Corps will help him achieve that goal.

While each is on a different path toward becoming an Air Force officer, both are receiving similar valuable experiences this week as they visit work centers at Malmstrom Air Force Base and talk to commissioned and enlisted Airmen.

Agu and Williams are among 20 cadets visiting the base June 23 to July 9.  This is the second of three sessions here supporting Operation Air Force (Ops AF), an Air Force-wide summer program that sends USAFA and ROTC cadets to host bases to see the operational Air Force first-hand.

The visits serve two purposes, said 1st Lt. Deanna Kerkhoff, 341st Mission Support Group executive officer and point of contact for the current session.

The cadets receive professional development advice from base leadership and hear what is expected of young officers. They also get a feel for what different career fields in the Air Force do.

The cadets' daily schedules are packed with tours of base organizations including the 341st Missile Wing's operations, maintenance, security forces, support and medical groups, and the 819th RED HORSE squadron. A visit to a missile alert facility, helicopter flights and tours of procedures and maintenance trainers help the cadets understand the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile mission here.

"These cadets haven't chosen their jobs yet," Kerkhoff said. "They haven't put in their dream sheets for what they'll want to do in the Air Force, so this gives them more background information."

Williams still sees flying transports as his future, specifically the C-17 Globemaster, but spending time at a missile base has broadened his perspective. Before Ops AF, Williams didn't have much experience with the Air Force. Now if he has to choose a non-rated career, perhaps it will be security forces or civil engineering.

"It's a lot different than what I thought it would be," Williams said. "Everything looks kind of cool."

In addition to talking to Airmen on the job and learning what they do, the cadets will hear important career advice from commanders and senior noncommissioned officers.
Agu believes that interacting with a broad spectrum of ranks and job specialties has been the best part of the visit.

"At the Academy, we interact a lot with officers--our instructors are officers, and in the squadron we interact with officers--but here we also get to interact with enlisted personnel," Agu said. "I think that's very important for our officer development."

While here, she has received mentorship that will help her when she begins her career in the operational Air Force.

"One thing that has really stuck with me is that as a new lieutenant, you're not going to know everything the first day," Agu said. "Learn from people around you, especially senior NCOs, as it really helps develop you as an officer and better integrates you into the squadron."

Agu believes that Ops AF is one of the best programs the Academy has to offer, especially as she prepares to go into her junior year and commit to the Air Force.

"It's good to see what life after the Academy entails," she said. "I like it."

Military Family Support hosts quarterly spouse orientation

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs


7/7/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hosted its quarterly Joint Spouse Orientation program June 25 at the Military Family Readiness Center.

The orientation is designed to expose military spouses to the opportunities, benefits, and resources available to them while they are here, said Jeri Romesha, a community readiness consultant at the MFRC.

"The purpose behind it is to strengthen military families and enhance mission readiness," said Romesha.

The program is six hours long, and participants engage in a variety of activities, briefings, and communication designed to equip spouses with the tools they need to acclimate to JBER's unique environment as seamlessly as possible. Lunch is provided.

"Our spouses' orientation does not just bombard them with information," said Barbara Hopkins, a community resource consultant with the MFRC.  "We actually give them tools and resources they can utilize."

During the orientation, more than a dozen agencies come to explain the services they have to offer to JBER families, Romesha said.

"We have a mini information fair where we have all kinds of agencies to come and talk about what they have to offer," Romesha said.

"It's not just picking up and leaving with brochures; we actually give you a knowledge of how things work."

JBER has several unique characteristics which make this orientation uniquely important, even to experienced spouses, said Hopkins.

JBER has some unique wildlife dangers that many spouses may not have encountered before. To offer their expertise, representatives from the JBER Wildlife Education Center will provide basic wildlife safety instructions.

"Even if they are familiar with the [military]," Romesha said, "JBER is a little different than they may be used to because it is a joint base."

Many people arriving in the summer may not be used to the constant daylight, and during the winter could be thrown off by the unrelenting darkness, Hopkins said.

Additionally, many common services one would find on a military installation are still offered here, but operate by different names - such as the Military Family Readiness Center, which serves the same capacity as Army Community Service and the Airman Family Readiness Center.

The orientation also serves as a bit of a translation session to make sure everyone is on the same page, Romesha said.

"This is a joint venture; Air F                     orce or Army can come to either side for what they need," said Romesha.

"We can help either branch out at either of the centers."

"As a spouse, they have a big role in the success of their own spouse and the mission they are trying to accomplish," Romesha said.

The next orientation is scheduled for September 17 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

To register, or find out some of the information presented in these orientations, contact the Military Family Readiness Center at 552-4943, or 384-1517 for the JBER-Richardson location.

Air Force staff sergeant passes on the light

b
y Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs


7/7/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- It's dark, the walls creep in, leaving just enough room to struggle, but not enough to turn around. There's no going back; in the darkness, a misshapen monster sprints down the tunnel. The only evidence of its power echoes all around: tick ... tock.

If only there was a light, an opportunity, an option. Tunnel vision is a dangerous thing.

According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15 percent of America's youth are drinking alcohol before the age of 13, 35 percent ingest marijuana before the age of 16, and 17 percent drop out of high school.

The causes for these statistics are many; what may start out as simple curiosity can quickly develop into a dark trap, with no light to be seen.

Sometimes this happens after graduating high school, sometimes it happens sooner.

Programs and agencies litter the frontlines of this battle for America's future, each fighting to shed some light on the lives of at-risk youth. Among them, there is one program that has taken a unique approach and it doesn't fall under the department of education.

It falls under the Alaska Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

According to their website, the Alaska Military Youth Academy ChalleNGe program is a 17.5 month, quasi-military residential and non-residential high school which uses military values and methodology to reclaim the lives of Alaska's at-risk youth.

Of particular note is the 22-week residential portion, wherein candidates will go through an education and training experience very near to military basic training.

"It's the hardest thing [I've ever done] mentally for sure," said Cadet Cody Smith, who recently passed the 12th week of the program and has lost 35 pounds since beginning the program.

Cadets are assigned a mentor who can communicate with them during their time in the program. Smith's mentor is Air Force Staff Sergeant Erik Fortenberry, fuels distribution supervisor of the 673d Logistics Readiness Group's Fuels Management Flight.

Approximately four weeks into the program, Fortenberry introduced himself to Smith, and began a relationship of edification, guidance, and respect.

When first arriving at the academy, cadets are treated to a heaping pile of shock and awe many military members may recall from basic training.

What follows is two weeks of emotional and physical pressure many of them may have never felt before.

"Yeah, it's tough," Fortenberry said. "But when it comes down to it, do you want to do a couple pushups, or do you want to be in jail?

"They push them a little bit, but it's all for a reason."

Many don't make it, and those that do earn the privilege to be called cadets during a ceremony known as Acclimation Graduation.

"After Acclimation Graduation, I thought 'I can do this,'" Smith said.

The program offers emotional and physical testing, but at its core, it is an accredited academic school.

"They go on ruck marches and they do PT, but it's a learning environment," Fortenberry said.

Classes at the AMYA are dramatically smaller than an average high school, allowing for more one-on-one tutoring a normal school system may not be able to offer.

For many, the AMYA is their last chance to get a high school diploma or General Education Degree so they can stand on their own two feet as they transition into America's workforce.

"Hopefully I'll get my GED and join the military," Smith said. "I wasn't good in school before; this program is the last opportunity for me."

Cadets also get some exciting opportunities while they attend AMYA they wouldn't otherwise be able to experience.

According to their website, one of the things cadets look forward to most is the "adventure training" where cadets get to go out and experience some military-related and outdoor activities.

Each cadet comes from a different background, with a different story and different goals; but they all go through the same experience.

Likewise, each mentor comes from a different background and is volunteering hours and hours of their time to these youth for different reasons.

Fortenberry, a native of Franklinton, Louisiana, arrived at JBER in December 2014, and has been involved in the AMYA mentor program since February this year.

"It really interested me because it was a chance to get involved with some kids who have made some bad decisions and try to get them on the right path," Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry and Smith write each other throughout the week, and the cadets are offered visiting hours where mentors can come and talk to them and encourage them.

"The more I became involved, the more I saw what they do," Fortenberry said. "The more I realized what they are doing for these kids.
"For the vast majority, this program works."

Fortenberry said the program stood out to him because he thinks the military may have very likely saved his life.

"The ultimate reason I became involved in the program is it is a chance for me to be able to give back," Fortenberry said.

As a youth, Fortenberry said he found himself slowly being sucked into a toxic lifestyle.

"I was your typical punk teenager," Fortenberry said. "I always wanted to be hanging out with my friends, and some of them weren't the best of influences."

As he grew older, his friends graduated from bad influences to having adult problems with the law, and Fortenberry began to see what was at the end of his tunnel; he didn't like what he saw.

"There came a point in my life where I looked at myself, the people I hung around with, and I asked myself: Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?
"The answer was no, I don't want this."

Roughly 10 years ago, Fortenberry took ownership of his future in a Panama City, Fla. Air Force recruiter's office. He made a decision that would dramatically alter the direction his life was headed.

"I'm pretty sure that if I had not joined the military, I would either be in jail or dead now."

While AMYA is not designed as a military recruitment tool, it does provide cadets with some of the benefits of military training as civilians.

Fortenberry said he wasn't a bad kid, but he definitely had some bad influences, and it was beginning to show.

"Some of these kids are going through that as well," Fortenberry said. "Except now they have someone who's there to say 'You're going to learn today.' "It teaches humility and it gives them the social skills they need to survive in the outside world."

With the skills they've acquired during their time at AMYA, and the continual guidance of mentors like Fortenberry, cadets are equipped with a toolkit they can use to make a difference in their lives.

"Our role [as mentors] really takes shape when they are out of the program, Fortenberry said.

"[Cadets] who've gone to this program are going to get out and think 'Ok, I want to work for this company, this is what I need to do to get there,'" Fortenberry said.

"Thats where we come in, they tell us they have a job interview or something and we say 'Okay, let me help you, let me set you up to succeed.'
In the end, that's what it's all about; the AMYA succeeds when its cadets succeed.

"It seemed to me like this is a great chance for some of these kids to be taken away from their negative influences and put into a different world," Fortenberry said.

"A world where they have to develop teamwork, communication, physical fitness, education, and they have to use all these different concepts to work together toward the goal of graduating the program."

Sometimes at-risk youth don't see the options in front of them. They're too busy running through the dark.

"I want to show them some things they can do to better themselves," Fortenberry said. "Not just what they've done wrong."

"I want to show them there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

Australia, U.S. partnership takes it to the Outback

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs


7/7/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Next week, the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne), 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division is scheduled to jump with Australian jumpmasters as part of the joint forcible entry operation dubbed Operation Talisman Saber.

The operation serves two primary functions.

"The purpose of the exercise is first and foremost to reinforce our bilateral relationship with Australia," said Lt. Col. Matthew Hardman, commander of the 3-509th. "For us it's all about deterring potential adversaries and reassuring neighbors, and we do that together.

"Peace comes from that."

Talisman Saber is routinely performed every other year, but the scope of the operation is anything but ordinary, Hardman said.

They will jump into the Kapyong Drop Zone - named after a historic battle in the Korean war - in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia.

The troops will leave JBER, fly more than a dozen hours, and exit an aircraft on a continent many of them have never been to before while under operational leadership from another country. Afterward, they will perform ground operations for the rest of the day before turning around and flying back to Alaska to do it all over again the next day at the Malemute Drop Zone, Hardman said.

"It's as close to as real as possible," Hardman said. "I think the [troops] are looking forward to that."

Successfully completing the operation requires the strategic assistance of the Navy, Marines and Air Force, Hardman said.

"There's a joint strategic reach capability that's critical here, our ability to reinforce and support allies as well as to respond to crisis around the world," Hardman said.

"Demonstrating that capability is critical to show we are able to do what we say we can do."

Part of that strategic reach is careful and efficient planning coupled with effective communication with sister branches and Australian forces.

To that end, over the past two and a half weeks, a few Australian jumpmasters and instructors have been at JBER to help prepare 3-509th paratroopers for the operation ahead of them.

"We've been working with the battle preparation with the 509th and going through jump rehearsals," said Warrant Officer Class 2 Roderick Orchard, a jumpmaster and instructor with the Australian Army. "The troops here are very professional."

Jumping into a foreign continent can be scary, but Australia, like Alaska, is well known for its unique wildlife.

"That's probably the number one thing we've been asked," Orchard said. "What's going to bite me and kill me?"

Both parties received briefings concerning the unique dangers of the other's operating environment; something they share lighthearted jokes about.

While wildlife safety is something which is taken seriously, sometimes a bit of good-natured humor can help assuage concerns.

"We have nine of the most venomous snakes in the world," Orchard said. "We've got lots of vaccines for our snakes, but I have yet to see a bear vaccine!"

To prepare 3-509th paratroopers for the operation, Orchard and his compatriots have jumped with them here in their own drop zone over the past few weeks.

The drop zone was named after the Battle of Kapyong, Korea, April 23 and 24, 1951, in which the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment forces held their position against overwhelming odds as enemy forces attempted to recapture the city of Seoul.

According to the Australian War Memorial's website, the Battle of Kapyong became known as the most significant and important battle for Australian troops in the Korean War.

The Australian regiment received support from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry during the battle, and were relieved by U.S. Army troops.

Both the Australian and Canadian battalions received United States Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations for their part in the battle.

The same interoperability that provided success in that battle is still being honed today through Operation Talisman Saber.

"The 509th's been a great host since we've been here," Orchard said. "It's been great to work with you guys and see the procedures and see how they work.
"You've been doing a great job - and I'll be looking forward to working with you again."

Team Minot welcomes local physicians

by Senior Airman Stephanie Morris
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


7/2/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- 5th Bomb Wing medical personnel hosted a tour of the 5th Medical Group clinic and select locations on base to downtown healthcare providers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., June 26, 2015.

The one-day open house concept was developed to strengthen already existing professional relationships within the local medical community.  Providers from several different hospitals and clinics attended the tour.

The event featured an overview of the wing and medical group mission, a tour of the medical treatment facility and finished with a viewing of a B-52H Stratofortress bomber.

"The tour highlighted the capabilities of the 5th Medical Group, strengthened relations with our civilian counterparts, and gave them better insight into what the Airmen they are treating face every day.  Ultimately, we tried to give them a better understanding of what our mission is here at Minot AFB," said Capt. Elizabeth Jovanovich, 5th Medical Support Squadron.  "Local healthcare providers are critical to our mission.  This was a good chance to show them what we do here each day and how they impact the mission."

The base, home to two wings, is the U.S. Air Force's only base housing two components of the nuclear triad.  It provides global strike and nuclear deterrence capabilities for the nation dating back to the late 1950's. The 5th Bomb Wing's B-52H serves as part of the Air Force's strategic and conventional combat force; and the 91st Missile Wing is one of three intercontinental ballistic missile wings in the Department of Defense.

Airmen working in the 5th MDG offer medical support and services to both wings and their downtown partners are able to offer emergency care and support for the medical referral program.

This partnership allows for Minot's medical professionals to meet the needs of the mission by working alongside their civilian counterparts.

"Our downtown healthcare network and providers are vital enablers to ensuring the highest quality care for our families, retirees, and total force Air Force members," said Col. Tasha Pravecek, 5th MDG commander. "We appreciate what they do to support the 5th Medical Group.  This open house is just a small thanks for helping us get our medical mission done right every day."5th Bomb Wing medical personnel hosted a tour of the 5th Medical Group clinic and select locations on base to downtown healthcare providers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., June 26, 2015.

The one-day open house concept was developed to strengthen already existing professional relationships within the local medical community.  Providers from several different hospitals and clinics attended the tour.

The event featured an overview of the wing and medical group mission, a tour of the medical treatment facility and finished with a viewing of a B-52H Stratofortress bomber.

"The tour highlighted the capabilities of the 5th Medical Group, strengthened relations with our civilian counterparts, and gave them better insight into what the Airmen they are treating face every day.  Ultimately, we tried to give them a better understanding of what our mission is here at Minot AFB," said Capt. Elizabeth Jovanovich, 5th Medical Support Squadron.  "Local healthcare providers are critical to our mission.  This was a good chance to show them what we do here each day and how they impact the mission."

The base, home to two wings, is the U.S. Air Force's only base housing two components of the nuclear triad.  It provides global strike and nuclear deterrence capabilities for the nation dating back to the late 1950's. The 5th Bomb Wing's B-52H serves as part of the Air Force's strategic and conventional combat force; and the 91st Missile Wing is one of three intercontinental ballistic missile wings in the Department of Defense.

Airmen working in the 5th MDG offer medical support and services to both wings and their downtown partners are able to offer emergency care and support for the medical referral program.

This partnership allows for Minot's medical professionals to meet the needs of the mission by working alongside their civilian counterparts.

"Our downtown healthcare network and providers are vital enablers to ensuring the highest quality care for our families, retirees, and total force Air Force members," said Col. Tasha Pravecek, 5th MDG commander. "We appreciate what they do to support the 5th Medical Group.  This open house is just a small thanks for helping us get our medical mission done right every day."

Combatives course teaches hand-to-hand combat

by Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


7/2/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Military members may have to deal with many hostile scenarios while on duty. For security forces members, this is especially true. While a situation may turn violent quickly, lethal force is taught only to be used as a last resort for men and women in uniform.

When these situations arise, close-quarter hand-to-hand combative skills can make all the difference in a problem being handled quickly and correctly.

For Malmstrom's security forces personnel, the Combatives Instructor Course is the answer to helping these Airmen know how to respond to whatever may come their way.

"What these men and women are going through during this course is their basic certification in the program so they can then go back and teach the rest of their squadrons," said Staff Sgt. Maxwell Thompson, 341st Security Forces Support Squadron combatives instructor.

"This class is open to the whole security forces group and the system we teach is really easy to learn," he continued. "People who have no experience at all, to the ones who have many years of experience, can participate and learn new skills."

The course focuses on weapons retention, suspect control and challenge techniques, and close-quarter hand-to-hand combative techniques.

While simulating various scenarios, trainees also have a training M9 handgun strapped to their side so they can also exercise breaking contact and challenging a suspect with lethal force, if needed.

According to Thompson, the constant repetition of these moves will help them to diffuse scenarios that otherwise could not be dealt with correctly.

"Being certified instructors, these Airmen will be able to teach whomever they wish within their respective duty sections," said Thompson. "After that, it will be up to the user to implement these skills depending on what kind of situation they're in.

"The training in this program opens up the door to many other options military members can use instead of escalating their force all the way up to use of a weapon," he continued.

For Airman 1st Class Sheristy DeJesus, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron member, the class offers many learning opportunities as she works alongside her male counterparts.

"Being the only female in the class can be intimidating at times but it is also very fun because it's challenging," said DeJesus. "It can be harder to apply the techniques because of the size difference but at the same time I really like it because I feel I'm held to a higher standard and have to push myself."

She would like to see more women take the opportunity to learn what is taught during the Combatives Instructor Course and be able to teach others those valuable skills also.

"I've learned a lot throughout this course and am very fortunate to have been able to participate in it," said DeJesus. "Whether for self-defense or diffusing a high-risk scenario, the skills learned throughout the program are valuable tools in an Airman's arsenal."

Air mobility pioneer honored by Airlift Tanker Association

by Jodi Ames
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs


7/7/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -- The Airlift Tanker Association honored Col. Earl B. Young during a bust dedication ceremony at the Scott Air Force Base ATA Walk of Fame June 29, 2015.

Young was the first commander of 18th Air Force and the 2014 ATA Hall of Fame inductee.

In 1989 the association established their Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals and groups who have made lasting contributions to the air mobility mission.  Bronze busts representing the men and women who have been inducted into the ATA Hall of Fame line the walkways of the memorial park.

During the unveiling ceremony, retired Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, former AMC commander and current ATA chairman, highlighted several of Young's accomplishments and his impact on the Air Force and air mobility.

"Today, this event really highlights and shows how much we treasure our legacy and our culture--because today, we're honoring Col. Young," said Lichte.
"He was witness to the birth of our Air Force, and he was witness to the birth of Military Air Transport Service."

He continued, "Not only did he witness the birth of 18th Air Force, quite frankly, he was the father of 18th Air Force because he was the first commander.

"He shaped what it is that we do today in Air Mobility Command, and we are so proud to induct him into the Hall of Fame," Lichte added.

Gen. Darren W. McDew, the current AMC commander, also recognized Young's contributions and thanked Lt. Gen. William Welser III for reaching out to Young and bringing his story back to AMC.

"Every single day there are human beings around the world doing things, and you'll never know their names. I want to thank you right now in a public forum, Lt. Gen. Welser, for helping us know Col. Young's name," McDew said. "If it hadn't been for your due diligence in standing up 18th Air Force the second time and bringing all the heritage with it, we wouldn't be where we are today."

After the unveiling, Young spoke to the crowd and shared stories about fellow ATA Hall of Fame inductees that he personally knew.

"The only reason we're here is because we have been able to provide the support and training necessary for those guys to go out and do their job on a day-to-day basis worldwide," Young said.

Recalling the efforts of previous honorees, Young said, "Those things are a distinct part of the history of the air transport business, and I'm sure glad that there's a bust here and somebody to remind the world that they didn't happen accidentally.  It takes a little work and a little blood and tears for that to happen."

"It has been a great ride for me ... I do appreciate your coming to this ceremony. It's a thrill to be here," Young said to the audience before the dedication concluded.

Young retired from the Air Force in 1962 after 26 years of military service. He flew combat missions during World War II.  Among many other distinctive awards, Young earned the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Air Medal.

According to his bust inscription, Young was instrumental in establishing the organization charged with providing airlift support to the nation, and was also responsible for consolidating airlift resources under one organization following the establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947. He named the organization the Military Air Transport Service.  On March 28, 1951, 18th Air Force was established, at which time Young became the first commander.

USS Michigan Visits Yokosuka During Western Pacific Deployment



By Lt. Shanna M. Gainer, USS Michigan Public Affairs Officer

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) arrived at Yokosuka, July 6, to perform a change of command and for a visit as part of its deployment to the Western Pacific.

With a crew of approximately 165, Michigan will conduct a multitude of missions and showcase the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet.

"It is a unique opportunity to do a change of command in Japan, but in many ways it is absolutely fitting that we should," said Capt. Erik Burian, Michigan's Blue Crew commanding officer. "We are operating forward, we are co-located with our operational commander, and we are continuing to build strategic relationships with our Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force partners. It all fits and is exactly where we should be. And it is a well-deserved liberty port for a crew that has worked as hard as any I've ever served with to keep our remarkable warship deployed to the Western Pacific for nearly two years."

USS Michigan is one of four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines. The Navy's guided-missile submarines provide unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Armed with up to 154 tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, guided-missile submarines are capable of launching missile strikes and supporting Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions.

Measuring more than 560 feet long and weighing more than 18,000 tons when submerged, Michigan is one of the largest submarines in the world.

"Our crew worked tirelessly these last months and we are excited for the opportunity to enjoy some time off. I'm positive that our Sailors will have a great time experiencing the culture in beautiful Japan," said Michigan's Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Machinist's Mate Jason Puckett.

For many of the crew members, this is their first time visiting Yokosuka.

"I am very excited to visit a country with such a strong cultural background. It is a great opportunity to learn about Japanese history and cultural identity, as well as a chance to take in the beautiful landscape," said Lt. j.g. Tina Nelloms.

Michigan is homeported in Bremerton, Washington, and is forward deployed from Guam.

USS Pasadena Returns Home From Deployment



From Commander, Submarine Squadron 11 Public Affairs

NAVAL BASE POINT LOMA, Calif. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Pasadena (SSN 752) returned to its homeport July 3 following a regularly scheduled deployment.

Pasadena, under the command of Cmdr. Mark Cooper, is returning from the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility where the crew executed the Chief of Naval Operations' Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

"I couldn't be any more proud of the crew," said Cooper. "They trained exceptionally hard in the months leading up to the deployment, did what was asked of them for six months and now we're back home, ready to relax and spend some well-earned time with our families."

Pasadena left its homeport of San Diego on Jan. 2 and steamed more than 40,000 nautical miles during the deployment. Port visits were conducted in Okinawa, Japan; Yokosuka, Japan; Sasebo, Japan; Busan, Republic of Korea; Singapore; and Guam.

"During our port calls the crew carried out their role as American ambassadors, which I believe strengthened our bonds with each host nation, allowing for future visits, and on a larger scale, promoting regional security," said Cooper.

"I was really excited to visit Korea for the first time," said Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Zachery Cossairt. "I enjoyed sampling the local cuisine and taking in the sights. It was great being able to pick up a souvenir for my wife as well and relaxing on the nearby beaches."

Pasadena conducted routine patrols throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region as a part of the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. They also operated in conjunction with other Navy ships to conduct maritime security operations that promote stability and peace and develop key partnerships with allies across the region.

Pasadena celebrated various crew member achievements, particularly in professional development.

"The crew did a remarkable job," said Master Chief Electronics Technician Mark Evans, Pasadena's chief of the boat. "We had 11 Sailors and four officers become submarine qualified, 21 crew members frocked and three officers promoted."

Pasadena was commissioned Feb. 11, 1989, and became the first improved 688-class submarine to deploy in July 1991. Measuring more than 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Pasadena has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Pasadena is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.