Friday, May 14, 2010

Airmen train with Romanian counterparts for the first time

by Staff Sgt. Jocelyn Rich
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/14/2010 - OTOPENI, Romania (AFNS) -- Airmen from Ramstein Air Base's 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, alongside members of the 37th Airlift Squadron and 435th Contingency Response Group trained with their Romanian counterparts the week of May 10 at Otopeni Airlift Base here.

Operation Carpathian Summer 2010 was designed to strengthen the partnership between the U.S. and Romanian air forces, while elevating their capability to work together.

Though this is not the first time American Airmen have worked with the Romanian air force, the 86th AES has never before joined in training with their Romanian colleagues.

"This is the first time, to my knowledge, that (the Romanian air force) has ever invited an American aeromedical evacuation squadron to come and compare notes about the process," said Capt. Erskine Cook Jr., an 86th AES flight nurse.

A major goal for U.S. and Romanian servicemembers alike was to identify the differences each nation has in its processes, and see how the two medical units can work around these hurdles in future real-world scenarios.

"(Romanian) equipment works on 220-volt; ours works on 115-volt. That's a big difference," said Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Skiver, the 86th AES superintendent. "We can't take their equipment and use it on our aircraft, unless we are using it on battery power. Equipment is a big issue."

The primary aircraft used by the Romanian AES crews is the Puma helicopter, while U.S. crews add the long-range fixed-wing capability.

"Primarily they are used to rotary wing, short range, for their wounded, so we are really trying to spool up their fixed-wing application," Captain Cook said. "They have recently gotten more aircraft; they want to be more involved in patient transport -- it's the natural evolution."

The teams also found similarities that transcend their disparities.

"The only difference I see is the equipment," said Romanian Air Force Capt. Dragos Tudos, a flight surgeon. "It all does the same thing, but they look different. The actual principle is the same: the people are the same; the way to do things is the same." By working together, the two teams overcame several obstacles in working toward their common goal.

"It's just a matter of seeing what we have to work with and how to best utilize it," Captain Cook said. "We all have the same goal of getting the patient to a more definitive level of care. Any time we can make that happen quicker, faster, better; everybody wins."

The sentiment was echoed by both countries.

"It is not very complicated," Captain Tudos said. "I am a doctor, so the patient is the mission."

The captain went on to say that through all the talks and training, the pieces came together to create an invaluable training scenario for everyone involved.

"We are going to perform a medical evacuation exercise with a helicopter from the Romanian air force and American planes," Captain Tudos said. "We are trying to create as real-to-life (a) scenario as possible."

The joint exercise, while building partnerships between the U.S. and Romanian servicemembers, also laid the foundation for future exercises and operations.

"Our commander and deputy commander have expressed interest in providing more support during exercises," Sergeant Skiver said. "This is our first exercise with Romania, but we have been involved in training with Bulgaria and the Ukraine. We are very involved."

Captain Cook said that Carpathian Summer has certainly opened the door for further training opportunities between the U.S. and Romanian forces.

"I think that we are forging some good bonds here, and (I) look forward to working with them in the future," he said.

Pacific Angel medical team relocates without missing a beat

by Capt. Timothy Lundberg
36th Wing Public Affairs

5/14/2010 - TRUONG THANH, Vietnam (AFNS) -- After providing three days of free medical care to more than 1,200 patients at Can Tho, Vietnam, the U.S. military medical team relocated their mission May 13 here as part of Operation Pacific Angel 2010.

Medical teams from Vietnam and the U.S. began treating residents in Truong Thanh with free healthcare services in pediatrics, optometry, women's health, dentistry and family medicine. The pre-planned move aimed to further outreach efforts to local residents who may have missed the oppurtunity to attend the other medical event held in the Can Tho commmunity.

"It's a great mission," said Nam Long, a Vietnamese medical technician who was working in the pharmacy at the Troung Thanh medical clinic. "We're helping a lot of people who don't have the money to go out and get medication."

When asked about working with U.S. servicemembers, Mr. Long said it was hard working with the language barrier, and although it was difficult and stressful at times, he was happy to help people out.

Staff Sgt. Angela Supina, from the 3rd Medical Group at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, said she has been enjoying her time in Vietnam and has grown very appreciative of life back in the United States.

"It's an amazing experience," Sergeant Supina said. "It makes us appreciate the healthcare we have back in the United States and the things that we take for granted. The Vietnamese are very friendly, and I've learned a lot."

One of the Vietnamese patients, Le Thi Bich Tram, who came with her daughter, said she was happy about receiving the free healthcare services and that she had heard about the clinic from an invitation sent by the Vietnamese government.

Staff Sgt. Aaron Walson, from the 3rd Civil Engineering Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, who was doing construction work at the Truong Than Village Medical Clinic engineering site, said rebuilding the clinics was going well and he wished there was more work they could do in Vietnam.

"The translation has been the hardest part," Sergeant Walson said. "But it's been great. They've taught us some Vietnamese; we've taught them some English, and I'm really enjoying it."

Sergeant Walson also said that he's really been enjoying the time he's been able to spend in Vietnam walking around and seeing all of the different culturally-enriched local areas.

Along with his fellow engineers from both countries, Sergeant Walson and the combined engineering team installed more doors and windows at Tan Thoi and Truong Thanh Thai Lai medical clinics with additional wiring for ceiling fans and light fixtures. The bilateral team is nearing completion of an estimated $59,000 rennovation project at both locations and has finished the installation of masonry, plumbing and weatherproofing at the sites. Between the two clinics, 18 room renovations have been completed.

At the new medical clinic in Truong Thanh Village, 879 patients were seen, with 1,385 patient encounters, or individual visits by the patients to the pediatrics, family practice, optometry, dental or women's health clinics respectively. Of the 1,385 patient encounters, 279 were at pediatrics, 390 at family practice, 347 at optometry, 291 at dental, 58 at the women's health clinic and 2,963 prescriptions were provided to those patients seen.

Vietnamese medical personnel participating in Pacific Angel said they've been pleased to work with the United States in this endeavor, and have high hopes to continue these types of events in the future.

"I hope you can do (Pacific Angel) again next year and every year, but in different locations around the country," Mr. Long said.

Operation Pacific Angel is a Pacific Air Forces program led by 13th Air Force at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

The operation is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation conducted in the Pacific area in support of U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts. It also provides an opportunity for civil and military operators to train together with a focus on civic assistance. The medical and engineering missions are scheduled to run May 15.

Leaders conclude successful Sensor Rally

by Marcia Klein
Air Force ISR Agency Public Affairs

5/14/2010 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- More than 50 group, wing and center commanders attended the spring Sensor Rally here May 4 and 5.

The bi-annual conference for Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency commanders was hosted by members of the agency's 70th ISR Wing headquartered on this Army post just 30 miles from Washington, D.C. That proximity allowed for visits by senior Defense Department leaders, including the Air Force chief of staff, the National Security Agency director and the Air Force deputy chief of staff for ISR.

"Those robust, candid discussions with these senior leaders who made time in their tight schedules to visit with our group, wing and center, and headquarters senior staff are simply invaluable," said Maj. Gen. Brad Heithold, agency commander.

During the discussions, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz challenged the agency use its in-depth expertise to solve the problem of dealing with the deluge of data coming into ISR systems from the increasing number of sensors and ISR sorties.

"As we look at continued increases in the number of combat air patrols and the corresponding increase in collections, we can't continue to throw people at this problem. The solution needs to be other than human power," said General Schwartz. "That's an area where the agency can do important work for the Air Force: finding systems solutions for the required analysis."

Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for ISR, reminded the attendees how far the Air Force has come in less than three years since officials began a major overhaul of the way ISR is structured, and how the successes of that transformation are paying off.

"The Air Force has always been and needs to continue being about performance. It is performance that matters, and that builds trust," General Deptula said.

In addition to the discussions with those senior leaders, the conference attendees spent the bulk of their time examining the agency's strategic objectives and how various parts of the enterprise contribute to those objectives. Col. John Bansemer, 70th ISR Wing commander, said the huge expenditure of hours by his staff to arrange the event was well worth it, both for his wing and the enterprise.

"The value to the agency for this conference is twofold," he explained. "First, by holding it this near the Pentagon and D.C. area, we get access to senior leadership who cannot easily visit us at other sites. The time to sit down with them and have direct, personal interaction is invaluable. Second, this was great collaboration time between the agency's commanders and senior leadership, and we get a better understanding of each other's missions and excellent dialogue about the agency's strategic priorities and how to better implement those strategies."

Colonel Bansemer added that it was a tremendous encouragement for his young Airmen who briefed their classified missions and successes to very senior officers.

"They have to serve in silence, because of our missions, so that opportunity to shine is a definite reward," he said

Generals Stress Need to Share Information

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

May 14, 2010 - As U.S. forces increasingly work as part of multinational coalitions, they are part of a cultural shift toward more information sharing and working more closely with allied troops, military leaders gathered here for a conference on joint warfighting said.

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, which co-hosted the 2010 Joint Warfighting Conference, said the responsibility will fall on young officers to build trust across the ranks to improve information sharing.

"In this age, I don't care how technologically or operationally brilliant you are; if you cannot build trust [across various multiple participants], you might as well go home," he said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. David M. Edgington, Joint Forces Command's chief of staff, said a cultural change is in the works to change the information-sharing paradigm from "need-to-know" to "will-to-share."

The United States does not have the only military reluctant to share, Edgington acknowledged, but it bears more of the burden as a leader in coalition operations. "We have the technology and the capability to gather more information and distribute it than other countries," he said.

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to not share information, particularly when it involves intelligence that could put troops at risk, Edgington said. But often, he added, information isn't shared due only to unnecessary bureaucratic reasons.

Sharing information with coalition forces helps U.S. troops by relieving some of their burden from the fight, Edgington said. To those reluctant to share, he had a simple message: "Get over it, guys. They're going to be fighting with us."

Edgington conceded that sharing information increases the risk of potentially harmful information getting into the wrong hands. "Yes, it's a risk," he said. "But it's all about risk and it's a risk to the other forces, too."

The military leaders also spoke of the need for "interoperability," the ability of coalition forces to work interchangeably with the same equipment and doctrine. The shift will be a big change for senior officers, Edgington said. "Anybody at the rank of colonel or above -- we've all grown up in this where the U.S. is leap years ahead, and we can't afford to do that any more."

Edgington noted, however, that many countries followed the United States in buying F-15 aircraft, and many also joined in the early stages of purchasing the joint strike fighter aircraft, which is still being developed.

French Air Force Gen. Stephane Abrial, NATO supreme allied commander for transformation, spoke of the importance of strengthening the alliance for the future. Building trust that leads to information sharing and improved interoperability of equipment is critical, he said.

The ability for all coalition nations to operate interchangeably "should be hardwired into our DNA," Abrial said. An increasing gap between U.S. military equipment and technology and that of its allies is not being closed quickly enough, he said, and NATO is cooperating with the defense industry to close that gap.

Building trust also should decrease the number of "caveats" or restrictions, some nations insist upon when agreeing to be part of coalition operations, Abrial noted. Such restrictions can restrict troops' involvement in certain operations or prevent information sharing, especially intelligence, he said.

General Officer Assignment

May 14, 2010 - The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignment:

Col. Jon A. Norman, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, to vice commander, 12th Air Force, Air Combat Command, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Norman is currently serving as special assistant to the commander, 12th Air Force, Air Combat Command, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Inaugural Warrior Games Set to Wrap Up

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 14, 2010 - The inaugural Warrior Games at the Olympic Training Center here will draw to a close this evening, leaving in their wake a few hundred happy, but very tired troops, family members and volunteers.

The week-long series of games drew enthusiastic crowds and reached the level of intensity in the gold medal matchups equal to that of the actual Paralympics, officials said.

"I walked in there and it was dripping with intensity. The game was unbelievable," said Charlie Huebner, chief of Paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee. "The crowd, the emotion -- it was just phenomenal. Everything we wanted it to be."

For the past week, about 200 servicemembers from across the Defense Department competed as individuals and in teams in Paralympic Olympic-style events such as shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track, wheelchair basketball, discus, and shot put.

They also competed individually for the "Ultimate Champion" competition in a pentathlon format, and the service team's rallied for a rotating Chairman's Cup. Those awards will be presented at the closing ceremony tonight.

The much-anticipated games were announced at the Pentagon only months ago by the Army and its partner, the U.S. Paralympics. The two organizations, along with other partners, quickly through together the financial and logistical support requirements of bringing those troops to the U.S. Olympic Training Center here, along with many of their wounded warrior units' cadre and medical staff. The services quickly recruited their athlete candidates.

Despite the somewhat rushed start, the games proved to be a hit with the athletes, families and volunteers. Already officials are making plans for next year's games, and talking of bringing in international competitors.

"This exceeded my wildest expectations," said Army Brig Gen. Gary H. Cheek, commanding general of the Army's Warrior Transition Command. "I didn't know that we'd have that kind of emotion and the size of the crowds that are here," he added.

Officials hope that this year's event will spawn year-round efforts at the wounded warrior units to train for the annual competition. It is an effort, they said, to encourage wounded servicemembers to use sports in their recovery programs.

"What we're really looking for is that energy to go back to our units where these servicemembers are recovering and spread that fire. ... That's really what this is all about," Cheek said.

Cheek said next year's event will include more sophisticated preparation, including qualifying competitions held at a regional level.

"There's going to be a lot more focus and energy toward this final event," he said. "Doing it 52 weeks of the year instead of one week a year is what we're really after."

Cheek said wounded servicemembers early on sometimes focus too much on their injuries and what they can't do. These games helped them focus on what they can do, he said.

"They found within themselves things that they didn't know were there, and that's what this is all about," he said. "In the end, it's all about focusing on abilities, not disabilities -- what you can do, not what you can't do."

Both Cheek and Huebner said that the energy from being active in sports spills over into the rest of the troops' lives, making them better spouses, parents and employees.

Huebner said not everyone dreams of becoming a Paralympic athlete, but he that being active is a piece of the rehabilitation puzzle, and sports skills can help them better adapt when they return to their homes.

"We have dreams of winning medals at the games," he said. "But it's also the dreams of hitting that homerun in your backyard."

Huebner said he sees the benefits of integrating physical activity into daily life.

"I see people that have higher self-esteem," he said. "I see people that have lower secondary medical conditions, I see people who are pursuing education, pursuing employment, [and people who] are motivated."

DOD Certifies F/A-18 Multi-year Procurement

May 14, 2010 - Today, the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics certified to Congress that the proposed F/A-18 multiyear procurement met statutory requirements, including substantial savings, for 124 F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. The proposed agreement will run for four years, from fiscal 2010 through 2013.

Now that the Department of Defense has certified the multiyear procurement request, the Department of the Navy will continue to work with Congress to gain necessary legislative authorities required before the Navy may enter into a multiyear contract.

With this multiyear procurement, the Navy Department intends to acquire the remaining program of record for the 515 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 114 EA-18G Growlers.

The Navy's fiscal 2011 budget request, sent to Congress Feb. 1, includes $1.9 billion to buy 22 Super Hornets and $1.1 billion for 12 Growlers. In fiscal 2012, the Navy plans to buy 24 more Growlers and one Super Hornet, with 25 more Super Hornets in fiscal 2013.

The Department of the Navy is committed to reducing acquisition costs in delivering capability to the warfighter.

Educating the Public Key to Navy Mission at PSRW

By Darren Harrison, Naval District Washington Public Affairs

May 14, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Several Navy commands met with the public to educate them about Navy initiatives May 6-9, alongside representatives of more than 100 government agencies on the National Mall during recognition of Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW). The PSRW event, in its 25th year, was co-sponsored by Public Employees Roundtable (PER), a coalition of 22 organizations, and the Partnership of Public Service (PPS).

Chairman of the PER Kirke Harper said the celebration takes place in cities across the United States, military bases and U.S. schools overseas.

Harper said the private sector is the engine that drives the economy but the government provides the network of services that make it a civilized place.

"Public employees provide a tremendous number of services to the citizens of this country that most people don't think about every day," Harper said.

The Navy was represented at the PSRW National Mall event by the Office of Civilian Human Resources (OCHR), Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), Office of Naval Research (ONR), Seabees and U.S. Navy Environmental Programs. The commands were there to reach out and educate the general public on their role and initiatives.

"It's important to recognize public servants because they are America's unsung heroes, often doing incredible work without the glory and kudos they deserve," said Marketing Manager Sally Smith with PPS.

"It's important to recognize the Navy, and all of our military partners, because they are the ones protecting our nation and defending our freedom."

Among the estimated tens of thousands who toured the exhibits was retired Navy veteran Leslie Komaromi who said he enjoyed looking over the fuel cell vehicles on display at the ONR exhibit.

"I am former Navy and I was looking for a Navy presence when I saw there were military exhibits," Komaromi said. "Talking to the ONR representatives about the vehicles was very interesting and they seem extremely knowledgeable about their subject matter." NHHC featured a display on the command's 12 museums in addition to a selection of books written by their historians.

"One of the things I've found is that a lot of people don't know we exist and we think we have a lot of good resources for people," said Dennis Conrad, a historian with NHHC.

According to Conrad poll numbers show that the Navy has "low name recognition" among the services with the general public.

"[Participating in this event] is an opportunity to get some exposure. Our goal is to make the Navy and public aware of Naval history, a glorious history going back to the founding of our nation."

Conrad said that most of those stopping by their display had expressed an interest in visiting the commands 12 museums and their website. "This is an eye-opener for me because I have lived in the D.C. area for over 20 years and never knew the Navy museum was right here," said Curtis Shaw, a self-confessed history buff who stopped by the NHHC exhibit. "I'll definitely be paying a visit to the museum and checking out their website."

Henry Ford, a human resources specialist with OCHR said the event served a dual purpose both as a public affairs opportunity and a recruitment outreach. "A lot of people don't get inside the bases and they don't know how we serve. They don't know how the 200,000 plus civilian employees contribute to the readiness of the Navy," Ford said.

Chris Adams, director of Energy and Environmental Public Affairs, U.S. Navy Environmental Programs said their exhibit helped educate people on the Navy's environmental outreach efforts and the success stories in oil spill prevention, and working to protect marine mammals during sonar training operations.

Educating the public about their mission and responsibilities was also the mission of Equipment Operator Chief John Trujillo who participated in the event as a member of the Seabees. Trujillo said that a lot of the work the Seabees perform is behind-the-scenes and often out of the public eye.

"We do a lot of construction, but in the States a lot of that is done by local contractors, so a lot of our missions happen primarily overseas in contingency areas," Trujillo said.

Harper summed up the importance of Department of the Navy (DoN) participation in Public Service Recognition Week, noting that DoN is the largest of the armed services.

"The Navy provides worldwide support for the military services and America," Harper said. "So it wouldn't be a celebration of anything that had to do with public service if it didn't include the

Bethesda Commuters Participate in Bike to Work Day

By Sandy Dean, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

May 14, 2010 - BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Staff at National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) will join thousands of area commuters May 21 for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work.

Bike to Work Day, sponsored by the Washington Area Bike Association (WABA), was established in 1972 to create a healthy, more livable region by promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, education, safety and affordable transportation. Since April 17, 1977, the day of the first Bike to Work Day, millions of commuters have taken to their bikes to participate, said Greg Billing, event assistant.

"There has been an increase from year to year in the number of people commuting to work by bike because of this event," Billing said.

WABA will provide experienced leaders who commuters can join on the day of the event, who have charted courses throughout the metropolitan area and have the local knowledge of the landscape to help commuters navigate to their jobs on the day of the event. These bike courses can be found online at the WABA Web site.

In addition, there will be 35 regional pit stops for commuters who are participating to refuel. The pit stop at NNMC, sponsored by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation, will be at the South Gate outside of the fence.

"We will have a table at the South Gate with prizes, food and drinks. Participants should register at the WABA website," said Jenny Charlson, from NNMC's Morale, Welfare and Recreation office.

"Barriers to biking are often what should I wear, how long will it take and the feeling of being out there all alone," Billing said, "but with Bike to Work Day, all of the leg work has been done to help alleviate those fears."

There is no registration fee for Bike to Work Day and the event is open to all area commuters.

Inspired Guardsman Competes in Warrior Games

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

May 14, 2010 - An amputated left leg couldn't keep Army Sgt. Kisha Makerney out of Iraq, and it certainly isn't stopping her from giving her all at the inaugural Warrior Games here. One of the only National Guardsmen on the Army team here, Makerney said she is inspired by the love she has for her country and living her childhood dream of being a soldier.

"Since I was a little-bitty kid, all I ever wanted to do was be in the military," the Oklahoma National Guard soldier said with a smile. "It's my favorite thing in life, and I'm going to stay in forever."

That passion is what got her through her early days of recovery in 2005, and it's one of the reasons she was chosen to participate in the Warrior Games. Makerney is competing in archery, marksmanship and sitting volleyball this week. She's one of about 200 wounded warriors and disabled veterans who were selected to compete in the Paralympic-type athletic events here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Other events are wheelchair basketball, cycling, swimming and track and field.

The games are a joint venture of the Defense Department, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the USO, and are meant to inspire recovery through competition and adaptive sports.

"The Warrior Games are helping others to see that there are no limitations," Makerney said. "You can do whatever you put your mind to, whatever you want, as long as you stay positive, keep a good attitude and really want it."

However, staying positive isn't as simple as it sounds, she acknowledged. The 25-year-old Army engineer recalled the accident that claimed her leg.

"When I wrecked my [motorcycle], I was lying on the ground, in a ditch," she said. "My very first thought was that I was mad about my bike, but then almost immediately, my next thought was: 'They're going to kick me out.'"

It was difficult to come to terms with the possibility of being forced out of the military, she said, but she quickly learned that although recovery is an arduous process, it's only what one makes of it.

"[Initial recovery] is bad, and, for a while, it gets worse," she explained. "But if you work hard, and you believe in yourself, you will rise to the challenge and do anything you put your mind to. I don't believe you should allow yourself to have limits."

Makerney was determined not to let her military career end. At the time of the accident, she had been home from an Iraq deployment for only two months. Army green was still pumping fresh through her veins, and the thought of her unit deploying without her made her depressed, she said.

"There was no way they were going back [to Iraq] without me," she said with a laugh. "[My fellow soldiers] were there for me when I was hurt, and I wanted to be there for them."

Makerney got her wish and deployed with her unit again to Iraq for nine months in 2008. It was more special than she could have ever imagined, she said.

"Deploying again kind of played a big part in my recovery," she explained. "In a way, when I stepped off the plane in [Baghdad International Airport], it healed me. It was one of the best moments of my life, because people told me I'd never do it again." Although the games here haven't had the same sort of impact on her life, Makerney said, she believes they can for others. During her time here and her recovery at the Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, she said, she has met troops who are as passionate about sports and athletics as she is about being a soldier.

"The Warrior Games are great in giving [wounded warriors] something new to go after and succeed in," she said. "It's cool for people who've been hurt and think their lives are over, and then all of the sudden they're competing.

"The bonds we have with our fellow servicemembers and our injuries and now in competition – it brings the life back into us," she continued. "Everybody goes through a hard time when they get hurt, but to be passionate about something and to have each other makes it tons better."

Soldier Overcomes Lifelong Fear with Warrior Games

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

May 14, 2010 - Army Spc. Marie Princler sought months ago to participate in the inaugural Warrior Games being held here this week to prove she's not limited by her disability. Like many disabled veteran athletes competing in the games, Princler suffers from a service-related injury, and is looking to build on an already-successful recovery program. But as the games neared, she toyed with the idea of confronting another handicap that emerged early in her childhood.

A fear of water has troubled the 23-year-old mechanic for most of her life, and the Warrior Games seemed to be the perfect stage to conquer her fears, she said.

"I really wanted to run at the Warrior Games to help overcome my injuries," Princler said of the torn quadriceps and damaged knee that hinder her left leg. She was hurt in a training accident while stationed in Germany in December 2007. "Since participation in the games required that I compete in multiple events, I thought it would be a good time to try to overcome my fear of water."

Princler's fear developed after a car accident when she was 7 years old. The roads were flooded that day in Frederick, Md. Her grandfather lost control of his car, veered off a bridge and plunged into the Monocacy River, she recalled.

Princler was knocked unconscious by the fall, but aside from that, the family was unharmed, she said. In the hospital after the accident, however, her grandmother told her they had been trapped in the car for some time until rescue workers arrived.

She has been terrified of water ever since.

"I never learned to swim because of the car wreck," Princler said. "I've always had a certain fear of water in my face, and get anxiety pretty bad when I take a shower and get into a pool."

But for the past month, Princler has been taking baby steps toward beating her fear. Her fellow soldiers at the Fort Carson, Colo., warrior transition unit have taken a special interest in helping her, she said.

"When I got to the [unit], I really got a sense that they care about our issues and want to help us get better," she said. Army Sgt. Gavin Sibayan, a close friend and fellow swimmer on the Army team here, taught Princler how to float and swim, as well as techniques to control her breathing in competition, she said.

"Sergeant Sibayan has been a big help for me," Princler said. "He's taught me a lot, and I'm just going to keep putting his coaching into practice and getting better."

She just has to remember not to let her anxiety get the best of her, she said.

"The whole time I'm swimming, I'm thinking to myself, 'I can do it,' trying to block out what I remember about the car wreck," she explained. "It's still hard, and I get nervous going out there, so I have to psych myself out and tell myself I'm not going to drown."

Princler praised the Warrior Games for giving her an outlet and the motivation to take on her fears. Training for the games was the extra push she needed to finally go toe-to-toe with fear after 16 years, she said.

"The idea of the Warrior Games is pretty neat," she said. "Whether it's continuing rehabbing with my leg or overcoming my fear of water -- whatever the injuries are -- the games show that you can overcome anything and still be successful in your life."

Princler competed in the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter backstroke May 12. It was her first competitive swim, and one of the few times she has gone the entire length of the pool. She's proud of her accomplishments, but there's still work left to do to completely defeat her fear, she said.

"The fear is still kind of overwhelming, but I think I'm getting close to getting over it now," she said. "I'm just going to keep practicing and trying to achieve my goals."

NMCSD Staff Celebrate 102nd Nurse Corps Birthday

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Berenguer, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

May 14, 2010 - SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) celebrated 102 years of Navy Nurse Corps history May 13.

NMCSD commemorated the Navy Nurse Corps birthday with a cake cutting ceremony, and remarks by Commander, NMCSD, Rear Adm. Christine M. Bruzek-Kohler.

"Since assuming the duties as Commander, Navy Medicine West and Naval Medical Center San Diego, I have had the privilege to see many Navy nurses provide incredible nursing care and advocacy for their patients, while working to implement innovative approaches to make Navy Medicine the best it can be at home and forward deployed. I am so very proud of all of my fellow Navy nurses," said Bruzek-Kohler.

The Navy Nurse Corps was established May 13, 1908 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Naval Appropriations Bill authorizing the establishment of the Nurse Corps as a unique Navy staff corps.

According to NMCSD's Director for Nursing Services, Capt. Kriste J. Grau, Navy and civilian nurses are essential to Navy Medicine's Force Health Protection mission - integrating compassion with discipline, individuality with conformity, and wellness promotion with wartime readiness.

"Today's Navy nurses are improving patient outcomes through knowledge and expertise. They are questioning traditional methods of care and assuring practice is evidence-based. They integrate research finding into professional practice. They have autonomy and unlimited growth opportunities. They are compassionate, caring nurses who make a difference every day by being present during life's most joyous and most difficult times," said Grau.

NMCSD nurses collaborate alongside doctors, corpsmen and other essential clinical staff to ensure that safe high quality care is consistently delivered to patients and their families.

"I am extremely proud to be a Navy nurse. I have been on active duty for 27 years. My first six years were enlisted, and I knew what I wanted to be - I wanted to become a Nurse Corps officer," said Cmdr. Brian L. McCann, senior nurse officer in the NMCSD Emergency Room. "I love being the Emergency Room division officer because it's so challenging, and I get to work with junior officers and mentor them to help their careers flourish. I am fortunate to work with individuals that are talented and willing to deploy to help heal those that have come into harm's way. I am so proud to be a part of that," said McCann.

Navy nurses are not just found at the bedside anymore. The Navy Nurse Corps has come to the aid of those in need by applying their skills both in and out of harm's way. Whether on the battlefield, on a ship, in a ward, or in military treatment facilities found on bases worldwide, the Navy Nurse Corps has supported our military members and their beneficiaries.

"I deployed to Haiti this past January. Assisting in the humanitarian missions has been my dream and passion and really the reason why I chose to go into the Navy Nurse Corps," said Lt. j.g. Natalie K. Shaffer, a registered nurse in NMCSD's Pediatric Inpatient Ward. "The day after the earthquake I was thinking about how amazing it would be to have the opportunity to go, and two days later I got a call from my chain of command saying that my name came up for the mission. I got the call on Friday and left on Monday. We were assigned to the USS Bataan that Wednesday and had a mass casualty arrival of 30 patients within hours of landing on the ship," said Shaffer.

The ceremony recognizes and pays tribute to the many Navy nurses who have proudly served this country over the past 102 years. Their expertise and leadership has ensured that the nation's military health is maintained.

McCann said the type of dedication that Navy nurses show is really the "spirit of Navy Nursing" that empowers them to shape the future of Navy Medicine. The NMCSD celebration of the 102nd Navy Nurse Corps birthday recognized the innovative medical advances that have been made, and was also a time for reflection on those that have blazed the trail for today's Navy nurses.

Enterprise Conducts Night Flight Operations

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Blair, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

May 14, 2010 - USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) conducted its first nighttime flight operations in more than two years May 13-14 with elements of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 as the "Big E" completed another milestone toward flight deck certification. Enterprise has launched more than 60 sorties from the ship's flight deck just 20 days after completing a two-year extended maintenance availability.

Flight deck certification has been conducted aboard Enterprise since May 12 by Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, VFA 11, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, and the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23.

"We're going to have our varsity team up there tonight," said Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. O.P. Honors in a message to the crew over the ship's loudspeaker prior to beginning the nighttime event.

Honors cautioned nonessential crew to stay away from the catwalks surrounding the flight deck due to the inherent danger involved in this particular event, but also flight deck operations in general.

Without the aid of moonlight, the squadrons faced additional challenges during these highly complex nighttime maneuvers.

"We call it flying into a black hole," said Lt. Jason M. Simon, a landing signal officer from VFA-211. "The sky is black, the water is black, and the ship is black, and all the pilots have to land on is their instruments. Despite the challenges, the evolution went smoothly thanks to the expertise of the flight deck personnel, the pilots, and the Enterprise crew."

Aircraft carriers launch night sorties routinely, but since this was the first night of flight operations the crew had conducted in so long, everyone aboard felt the added pressure to get it right.

The event was one of the final hurdles the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier faced as it moved closer to flight deck certification and continued to build on its storied history.

Enterprise is underway conducting flight deck certification in preparation for her work-up phase and 21st deployment.

Eighth Air Force’s Great WWII Gamble

By Brig Gen Richard M. Baughn, USAF (Ret)

Author’s Note: As in past, rather than going back and forth from US Army Air Corps to US Army Air Forces according to the period under discussion, I’ll use only the latter or its acronym (USAAF).

By the time the US entered the war, the Germans and Japanese had captured much of Europe and Asia and were poised to overrun more countries—with only the beleaguered British left to stop them. Since the US had been so poorly prepared, it would take almost a year before they had sufficient forces and shipping to start to help. As a result, the American and British leaders had to decide where to concentrate their limited forces. Because the Nazis were threatening the very existence of Britain, it was decided to defeat Germany first, while applying holding action against Japan. The overly ambitious Americans insisted on a plan to invade France in the spring of 1943 and the British reluctantly agreed. The initial objective in support of the invasion would be a joint USAAF/RAF air campaign to reduce Germany’s industrial might and destroy the Luftwaffe. As history has shown, it would be 1944 before our military forces were strong enough to invade France.

Read On

“The Hurt Locker”—A Deconstruction

By Jim Elston

“War is a drug,” says part of the epigraph at the beginning the 2010 Oscar-winning Best Picture, The Hurt Locker. This phrase lingers on the screen when the rest disappears, as if director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are making sure viewers get the point. I didn’t.

Sure, there’s all kinds of adrenaline rushes associated with combat. As a civilian who’s never been on the battlefield, I can only guess what these are like, so perhaps I’m wrong when I liken them to the so-called runner’s high—once the run’s over, and the adrenaline is still surging through you for a few seconds, you feel like Leonardo DiCaprio on the prow of the Titanic. When Locker central character Sergeant James comes out of the burnt-out car and says, ”That was good,” he’s riding that high, not celebrating the fact that the danger is past and he’s alive. In fact, Sgt James can’t wait until the next IED (improvised explosive device) or whatever needs to be disarmed so he can feel that high again. If this is what the film means by a drug, it’s easy to understand. But I don’t think that’s what it means, because the film wants us to think this drug called war is a bad drug – not medicinal, but addictive.

Read On

Ecology, Security, and Armed Conflicts in Africa

History shows many instances in which scarce resources and environmental degradation played a role in generating conflict, leading even to the collapse of societies and civilizations—some as early as the beginning of written history. 1 Examples include peoples in Mesopotamia and parts of the Middle East, the Maya of Central America, the Khmer of Southeast Asia, and the Anasazi of the US Southwest, among many others. As Mary Ellen O’Connell observes, “In the 1970s, Japanese leaders first argued that national security means more than being safe from traditional military threats. They made this argument at a time [when American] leaders were pressing the Japanese to spend more on security. Japanese leaders argued that sums spent on protecting the environment or food and energy sources should also count toward national security spending.” 2 This nexus of environment, security, and armed conflicts typifies many African countries.

Read On

Is what we offer in professional military education always the best there is?

by R.A. Norton, Ph.D.

I recently wrote a book review of Ralph Peters’ new work, Endless War1 for The Wright Stuff. From a professional educator’s point of view, I believe it is an important volume because it questions some of the most deeply ingrained assumptions of Western thought.

Peters is a historian and an inveterate traveler. He is a storyteller and opines the world (including the West) remains largely ruled by tribes – an inescapable feature of mankind’s relatively short history. He notes that in spite of Western beliefs, what emerges in conflict, violent or not, is the preservation of tribe, family and religion. Everything else is secondary if not inconsequential. Understanding these three irrevocable loyalties – tribe, family and religion – provides the foundation to understand more accurately the real framework of the world.

Read On

The Tactical versus Strategic Distinction: It’s A Big Deal, Right?

By Mark Stout

While the wise old owl discovered it took three licks to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, students of national security might wonder about the arithmetic of nuclear deterrence. For example, how many tactical nuclear weapons does it takes to equal a strategic nuclear weapon?

An apples-to-apples comparison is fine if you’re discussing apples, but nuclear weapons are but one part of the grand and cumulative smorgasbord of global security. So first, let’s attempt to define exactly what a ‘strategic’ nuclear weapon is, which itself has been the subject of considerable debate. Yield, target, effect, and more have all been considered in the definition, but from a practical point of view, a strategic nuclear weapon is…well, it’s one that’s delivered strategically. That means delivered via ICBMs, SLBMs, or heavy bombers.

Read On

Cyclists Refuse to Leave Teammate Behind

By Elizabeth M. Collins
Army News Service

May 14, 2010 - The Warrior Games cycling competition, held at the U.S. Air Force Academy here in a May snow shower yesterday, would have daunted the toughest of professional cyclists, but not wounded, ill and injured servicemembers. They battled their way through freezing temperatures and slippery roads, persevering in the midst of extreme pain, and even stopped to help each other along the way.

Suffering from two torn rotator cuffs, Army Sgt. Monica Southall had never used a handcycle before arriving at the Warrior Games a few days ago, but she didn't let that keep her from the race. At one point, the pain became too much to bear and she wanted to stop, but as she said, "Soldiers don't quit, and I wasn't going to quit."

Help, in the form of Army Warrant Officer 1 Johnathan Holsey and Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Will Wilson, arrived just when Southall needed it most. Both men are leg amputees, and Wilson was talking Holsey through their upright cycling race when they passed Southall about two miles from the finish line and noticed her struggling. Any thoughts of winning in their own competition instantly disappeared.

"When we came by her, she was having a hard time going around, and the Navy master chief [and I], we were coming through," Holsey said after the race. "He kind of helped me on. He was saying, 'Stay with me. Stay with me.' And when we saw Monica, we were like, 'You know what? We're going to take her in.'"

Holsey added, "We said we weren't going to leave her and we stayed with her the whole time, because we're all here together. You never leave your comrade behind. Never. When we saw her coming up by herself, we said we were going to stay with her and we pushed her along. She had the wheel.

"We just had to be there with her, he continued. "We just came through together. It's never about the race; it's about the camaraderie and being there for each other."

Although the three were competing in individual events and are in different services, they were really one team, Holsey said, bound not only by their military service, but also by their experiences as wounded and injured servicemembers. They share something no one else could understand.

Southall inspired and helped Holsey as well. Seeing her perseverance pushed all thoughts of pain, cold and falling off his bike to the side, he said. That's the best thing about the Warrior Games, he added: the inspiration, strength and power wounded warriors can get from being around each other.

"This is the reason we came here, and this is the reason I'll do it every year," he said. "Any time they invite me back, I'll be more than happy to come."

In the end, Holsey and Wilson tied for last place in their category, and Southall finished last in hers, but that didn't matter. They crossed the finish line together, as a team, to a crowd that cheered just as loudly for them as for the gold-medal winners.

"It was great [to finish], seeing everybody standing there waiting for me and cheering me on," Southall said with tears rolling down her face. "You just can't describe a moment like that. It was very inspiring."

Texas Guardsman Shoots for Gold at Warrior Games

By Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada
Texas National Guard

May 14, 2010 - A Texas National Guard soldier receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder won a gold medal during the inaugural Warrior Games here yesterday. Army Spc. Shawn Porter competed in the 10-meter air rifle standing/non-supported and the 30-meter recurve-bow open events. He did not place in the 30-meter recurve-bow, but shot well enough to win the air rifle event. The 136th Military Police Battalion soldier was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, but had to be evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after he was diagnosed with a tumor.

While recovering from surgery in November, Porter was diagnosed with PTSD and was transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for treatment.

Porter is an athlete and he said he thought staying active would help him recover sooner. When his athletic prowess was discovered, coaches started working with him more seriously and intensely.

What started as therapy, he said, has now become a victory for himself, the Texas National Guard, and the Army.

Porter dedicated the medal to the soldiers of the 136th in Tyler, Texas, who recently returned from Afghanistan.

Porter is one of two Army National Guard Soldiers competing in the games.