Thursday, September 09, 2010

NMCB-7 Lends a Helping Hand in Guyana for SPS 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie,High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) Seven, currently embarked aboard High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2), are refurbishing a local school in Georgetown, Guyana, Sept. 1-13.

The current construction project is only one of three the Swift detachment, based out of Gulfport, Miss., completed for the community in support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010.

"It always feels great when we're able to help people," said Lt.j.g. David Cazares, Detachment Swift officer in charge. "We have so much in the U.S., and it just feels good to give."

The bulk of the detachment arrived in Georgetown Aug. 22, and soon began working on its first project, which consisted of installing new and repairing broken plumbing, replacing toilets and windows, installing new ceiling fans and clothes lines, and clearing debris from the common areas at the Ministry of Amerindian Residence home for tuberculosis patients.

The second project the Seabees took on was at the East La Penitence Health Center, also in Georgetown. In about one week, they rebuilt two entire rooms from the ground up. One will act as a dental office and the other a patient consult room for the clinic. The job required the installation of new sinks and plumbing, electrical and tile work, and a few water pumps needed to be repaired.

While part of the detachment was still putting finishing touches on the new rooms at the clinic, the other members began work on their biggest project yet in Guyana at the Plaisance Community High School.

"During classes, they currently have more than 60 students in each classroom," said Cazares, of the school, which has more than 500 students in attendance each year. "We're building them what we call a 'sea hut' that will be 16-feet by 32-feet. It should provide a lot of additional room for the students."

SPS is a deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Central America, with the primary goal of information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

Swift is scheduled to continue its support of SPS 2010 in the region until early fall. NMCB-7's Detachment Swift is scheduled to move on to Honduras for similar projects when they leave Guyana, and embark Swift again in late October to begin SPS 2011.

Swift deployed in support of SPS 2010 in May, and has visited various countries in the Caribbean island nations, Central and South America over the last four months. During the ship's stay in Guyana, the crew is also meeting and exchanging professional knowledge with the region's civil and maritime services in the form of Subject Matter Expert Exchanges.

Pentagon Officials Explore Renewed Relations With China

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2010 – Defense Department officials are encouraged by signs that the Chinese may renew military-to-military relations in advance of presidential talks between the two countries early next year, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

Geoff Morrell said Pentagon leaders are encouraged by reports from the White House that Chinese officials signaled their interest in resuming military relations to the administration’s economic delegation during a visit to Beijing this week.

“The Chinese have clearly signaled their interest in resuming military-to-military discussions, and we are right now exploring how best to do that,” Morrell said during a Pentagon press briefing.

China halted its military-to-military relations with the United States in February in protest of a U.S. arms shipment to Taiwan.

A meeting is planned between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao early next year, “so we very much would like to make progress before the end of the year,” Morrell said. Military-to-military relations, he said, help the two countries avoid misunderstandings, miscommunication, and miscalculations.

It is possible that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would meet with his Chinese counterpart if invited, Morrell said in answer to a Chinese reporter’s question. But he added, “This is not engagement for the sake of engagement. We're not just looking for a reciprocal visit by Secretary Gates. What we are looking for is a resumption of productive, transparent, military-to-military engagement, so that we can both gain a better understanding of what our ambitions are, what our intentions are, when it comes to our military budgets, how we operate, where we operate and so forth.”

Meanwhile, Morrell said, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington will return to exercises in the Yellow Sea, not as an affront to China, but to warn North Korea to stop its aggressive behavior. A date has not been set for the carrier to return to the area, he said.

“This is not an affront to the Chinese,” he said. “It's not meant to send a message to the Chinese. It's meant to send a message to the North Koreans about their behavior.”

Military officials are also studying the possible joint use of U.S. military facilities in Futenma, Japan, Morrell said, to “improve the effectiveness of the alliance's defense posture.”

Also, in answer to a reporter’s question, Morrell said the U.S. military plans to fly V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in Japan.
Morrell also announced that Gates will host a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in the Pentagon next week.

NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Earns SECNAV Safety Award

From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic was awarded the Secretary of the Navy 2010 Safety Excellence Award in the Ashore, Industrial Category C category in ALNAV 060/10, released Sept. 8 to all Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic is responsible for the public works support, planning, design, and construction of shore facilities for the U.S. Navy from Maine to North Carolina.

Earlier this year the command was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Shore Safety Award, making the command eligible to compete for this latest honor.

"This award is recognition of our employees' tremendous efforts, day in and day out, to ensure that they execute the command's vital mission while taking care of themselves and all of those around them," said Capt. Mark Libonate, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic commanding officer.

According to Steven Geiger, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic safety officer, safety starts with getting every one of the command's 3,500 employees involved with safety. He added that a series of contractor safety forums this year have extended the command's safety culture to the construction contractors that perform work on military installations.

Geiger also said NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic has plans to begin an employee-driven safety committee in order further promote a safe working environment.

NWC Graduates Maritime Advanced Warfighting School Class

From Naval War College Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- The Naval War College (NWC) completed its 13th advanced warfighting school class with the graduation of 27 students in Newport, R.I., Sept. 8.

The Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS) is 13 months long and provides officers in the ranks of lieutenant commander and major with planning knowledge and extensive skills in leadership and advanced war-fighting for follow-on assignments to operational planner billets.

Capt. Pat Molenda, MAWS director, said the Navy offers the class so officers can immediately step into critical operational planner billets.

"There are approximately 150 such specially-designated billets on operational staffs," said Molenda. "In a 21st century of complicated threat and opportunity, joint, Navy component, and numbered fleet commanders increasingly require officers who are warfare proven, skilled in operational planning, and know how to apply maritime power effectively. Such skills are essential in an environment of exceptional speed and complexity — officers must develop them through practical experience built upon a solid educational foundation. MAWS is that foundation."

This year's graduates were selected in spring 2009 and commenced studies in August 2009. The class included three Army, 16 Navy, three Marines, one Coast Guardsman and four Air Force Airmen.

"This has been a great year to meet people from each branch of the military and learn how the other services function," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walsh. "I've built relationships here which will last a lifetime, and I've developed skills that will serve me well at my new command in Colorado Springs, Colorado."

Other graduates applauded the high caliber of instruction and professionalism they found at NWC.

"The MAWS experience has allowed me to make the transition from a tactical-level thinker to an operational-level thinker," said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Anderson, whose next assignment will be in a combatant commander logistics position with U.S. Strategic Command J4. "The well-rounded instruction in logistics that I've received at the War College has prepared me thoroughly for new responsibilities."

Army National Guard Maj. Mike Manning, who serves in the Rhode Island National Guard and is the first Army National Guard officer to complete MAWS, found the experience to be uniquely motivating and satisfying.

"The Naval War College and MAWS has been a fantastic experience for me and my family," Manning said. "I've also had the opportunity to work alongside the best people I've ever met. After graduation I'll be back at the National Guard and serve as their legislative liaison and strategic planner."

From August 2009 to June 2010, the students attended the Naval Command and Staff resident intermediate curriculum of National Security Decision Making, Strategy and Warfare, and a tailored 17-week trimester of Joint Maritime Operations. The students also completed three directed electives addressing Operational Art and Doctrine, Navy Planning Process in the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) Environment, and Joint Force Commander Planning Considerations.

During the final three months of the program, the students developed and authored formal concept plans in direct support of two forward-deployed naval operational commanders.

MAWS graduates receive the Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, the Naval War College diploma, Joint Professional Military Education Phase I certification and qualification designation as operational planners.

The Navy graduates represent naval aviation, information operations, intelligence, submarine, supply and surface warfare communities. The 10 Navy graduates will proceed directly to operational planner billets; the other six will accomplish warfare community progression tours followed by operational planner assignments. The 11 non-Navy graduates will proceed to planner and warfare community tours as directed by their chiefs of service.

The 27 graduates joined 195 officers (139 Navy and 56 from other services) who graduated in the first 12 advanced warfighting school classes from 1999 through 2009. This growing cadre of leaders represents a new, multiservice expertise in planning and execution of joint operations with naval emphasis.

MAWS class 2011, comprising 20 Navy and 12 officers from other services, commenced studies in August 2010 and will graduate in September 2011.

Deployed Wisconsin Guard members urged to exercise their right to vote

With the general election less than eight weeks away, the Wisconsin National Guard is reminding its deployed Soldiers and Airmen to complete and mail in their absentee ballots soon.

Official Wisconsin write-in absentee ballots were sent to all military and overseas voters with an absentee application on file at least 90 days before the Nov. 2 election. The official printed ballot can be electronically transmitted by e-mail or fax after Oct. 4.

Voters in Iraq, Afghanistan or other overseas locations without access to the military postal system should send completed ballots by Oct. 2. Voters in other overseas military installations should send completed ballots by Oct. 9. Also, Wisconsin National Guard members deployed stateside but outside of Wisconsin should send their completed absentee ballots by Oct. 25.

Deployed Wisconsin National Guard members who have not received a state absentee ballot before Oct. 2 are encouraged to use the federal write-in absentee ballot, which is available online and at military bases, overseas embassies and consulates. The federal write-in absentee ballot is valid in Wisconsin elections. Voters can write in a candidate's name or their party designation. The form can then be printed out and mailed. Additional candidate information should be available on state election websites 45 days prior to the general election.

A special page on the Government Accountability Board website has information for military and overseas voters. The Overseas Vote Foundation has additional information on registering to vote and requesting absentee ballots.

The deadlines for submitting the federal write-in absentee ballot are the same as for the state absentee ballots. Wisconsin National Guard members overseas who receive their state absentee ballots after submitting a completed federal write-in absentee ballot may complete and return the state ballot. If both ballots are received by the deadline, only the state ballot will be counted.

According to the state Government Accountability Board website, active away military may request election absentee ballots up until election day. The completed ballot must be postmarked by election day and received by the municipal clerk no later than 10 days after the general election in order to be counted. Local election officials track the status of all absentee ballots from military and overseas voters using the Government Accountability Board's statewide voter registration system.

Military away voters may track receipt of their general election absentee ballots on the Board's Voter Public Access website.

Wisconsin National Guard troops that will be deployed overseas during the partisan primary and general elections include approximately 600 Soldiers - mostly from the 724th Engineer Battalion and 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment in Iraq - and about 45 Airmen supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

General Officer Assignment

The chief of staff, Army announced today the following assignment:

Brig. Gen. Michael H. Shields, director, National Joint Operations Intelligence Center, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C., to deputy director, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Arlington, Va.

Northcom Weighs Probability, Consequences of Threats

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2010 – How U.S. Northern Command balances its assets in protecting the homeland is a matter of gauging the probability and potential consequences of threats, the new Northcom commander said today.

“We have to look at the capabilities and intent” of U.S. adversaries, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. told reporters during a Defense Writers Group meeting here. “Certainly there are nations with cruise missiles who we don’t think have any intention to use them. Then, there are terrorist organizations that certainly want to use them that don’t have the capability.”

Russia has the capability to perform such an attack but not the intent, whereas Iran and North Korea have shown intent, but evidence indicates they lack the capability, he said.

Winnefeld, who also commands the North American Aerospace Defense Command, added that he is confident in the U.S. missile defense system, including ground-based capabilities to stop an attack.

“I’m very comfortable right now that if you asked me to shoot down a missile at this moment from North Korea or Iran, I could do it,” he said.

Northcom and U.S. Strategic Command leaders “have a pretty clear understanding” of why the ground-based system failed a test last year, Winnefeld said. He declined to discuss specifics, other than to say that it is difficult to test a system that is still being developed.

“The operational reality we work with every day is that while we’re fielding a system, we’re also testing it,” he said.

Asked about the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack, Winnefeld said he could not speak to intelligence gathered on the issue, but “as Northcom commander, I have to assume the threat is not going down.”

Any nuclear attack would be catastrophic, and prevention is the key, the admiral said.

“One of my most important focus areas is to be prepared for it,” he said. “No one should have any illusions about how challenging that would be for the nation. The most important thing is to prevent it from happening in the first place, and to be prepared for it to happen.”

Northcom and NORAD are in good coordination with the Homeland Security Department, National Guard Bureau and state officials to ensure quick responses, Winnefeld said. “I’m very optimistic that we are headed in the right direction there,” he said.

Winnefeld said he also is working closely with Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who recently was confirmed to head the new U.S. Cyber Command, to determine where responsibilities lie in the event of a major attack against computer networks. Northcom likely would work in support of Cybercom and its parent command, Stratcom, he said.

“It really doesn’t matter, as long as we’re working closely together so that cyber recovery is coordinated,” Winnefeld said. Most importantly, he said, “This has to be done with speed. This is a mission that is very critical and time-dependent.”

An important part of the Northcom commander’s job, Winnefeld said, is to try to predict threats and how to counter them. To that end, he said, he is considering the potential need for a lighter, lower-flying aircraft than the current F-15 to handle certain contingencies, such as those at large, outdoor events.

“It’s all about the time, distance and area we can cover,” he said. “We can’t cover a great, big country 100 percent of the time.”

On another topic, Winnefeld called the U.S. military partnership with Mexico a top priority for Northcom and said the command has a “solid, courageous, and sovereign partner” in Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s government to counter Mexican drug cartels.

The threat to the United States from the cartels “is very serious,” Winnefeld said, but he added that his main worry isn’t about violence coming across the border.

“It’s really more the slow, corrosive impact that drug cartels … have on our own society and cities that is really the boiling frog here,” he said, as opposed to the “rare, but tragic” violence that occurs along the southern U.S. border.

Northcom is doing everything it can to help the Mexican military, the admiral said, from advancing their capabilities to sharing subject-matter experts and providing human rights training.

“They are voracious devourers of that kind of training,” he said. “They really want to get it right, and they realize it’s going to take time to get it right.”

The admiral said he is encouraged by the sustained effort of the Mexican government to stand up to the cartel problem. “It would be very easy for them to back off on the cartels,” he said, “and violence probably would go down.”

Papua New Guinea School Hosts Pacific Partnership 2010 Rugby Game

From Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

KOKOPO, Papua New Guinea (NNS) -- A rugby game between high school students and a 21-person Pacific Partnership team took place Sept. 6 at the Kokopo Secondary School in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, as part of Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10).

The rugby game was one of the 10 scheduled community service (COMSERV) programs being conducted during PP10 in Papua New Guinea.

"The experience was great since it was the first time many of the U.S. Sailors played in a rugby game," said Chaplain Derrick Horne, leader of the overall COMSERV effort for the Pacific Partnership 2010 mission. "The game not only provided an incredible opportunity for our U.S. Sailors to engage the local community, but also the Sailors from USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) to play hand-in-hand with the contingent from HMAS Tobruk (L50). You cannot underestimate the impact these interactions have with the local community and also the positive impact they leave on our own personnel."

Tobruk is serving as the flagship for the U.S.-led PP10 mission in Papua New Guinea, hosting Destroyer Squadron 21, medical contingents from USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), engineers from Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, the Australian 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and the PNGDF.

Sailors from Vandegrift are also participating in the eight-day mission.

Spectators at the game were also treated to a half-time musical performance by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band. More than 400 students, parents and faculty enjoyed the sounds of the brass band ensemble. Many in the audience were hearing the instruments for the first time.

It was little wonder that a school such as Kokopo Secondary School, which has a dedicated "Sports Day" each month where students and faculty participate in a wide range of sports, was able to fend off the combined team of players from Australia and the United States. The Kokopo team also recently won the area rugby championship title.

Despite the loss for the visitors, the U.S. Sailors earned recognition and a few laughs – from the Kokopo audience and Australians alike.
"With no prior preparation or training the team played a cohesive match, even despite the final score. The U.S. Sailors were quick to master the basic skills, and the game was played at a really fast pace," said Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer Physical Trainer Brian Fish.

As with previous sporting events during PP10, the competitive aspect of the game is always overshadowed by the bonds made on and off the field.

"Today's game demonstrated that the U.S. Sailors have a long way to go with not only soccer, which at best we've only won one soccer game so far this deployment, but now we have to learn about rugby," said Horne. "At the end of the day, these games always result in a win-win situation for all of us due to the tremendous relationships we are able to form and the friendships and memories we have created that will remain long after we depart."

Kokopo Secondary School may see an increase of rugby games amongst their student population as some of the younger children received rugby balls from the PP10 Mission Commander, Capt. Lisa Franchetti, who was there to watch the teams play.

PP10 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships. Papua New Guinea is the last of six countries to be visited in PP10. Mercy visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, while USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Palau.

MCAST Mobile Training Team Trains Special Forces in Guatemala

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Peter D. Lawlor, Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command Public Affairs

SAN JOSE, Guatemala (NNS) -- A Security Force Assistance (SFA) Mobile Training Team (MTT) detachmented from the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) command concluded two weeks of teaching small boat operations to the Fuerza Especial Naval (FEN) of the Guatemalan Navy on Aug. 26.

Through the use of a translator and textbooks converted into Spanish, a trio of MCAST Sailors successfully taught 40 FEN and Guatemalan sailors how to maneuver their 32-foot Boston Whaler patrol boats to protect high value assets, as well as, tactically engage and use strategic formations to defend themselves from enemy threats.

Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (EXW/SW) Everett H. Lyons, from Bloomfield, N.J., was one of the instructors teaching the level two small boat operations course to the FEN and Guatemalan sailors.

"One of the main things we taught them was to think about communications and mission planning before they even go out there," Lyons said. "We also taught them how to work in tight groups and formations."

Lyons said the FEN and Guatemalan sailors were already highly trained before MCAST arrived, but now have even more skill sets to choose from.

The FEN regularly apprehends sea faring drug runners attempting to ship cocaine from Columbia abroad. Reuters reported on the FEN's most recent addition of seized boats, which was a four-man semisubmersible from Columbia that housed five tons of cocaine bound for U.S. soil on July 12, 2010. The FEN, working in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, seized the submarine off the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

The Commandant of the Naval Pacific Command in Guatemala, Capt. Carlos Antonio Lainfiesta Soto, said the FEN and Guatemalan sailors greatly appreciate every opportunity they get to work with and learn from the U.S. Navy.

The shores of Guatemala are known for a high volume of drug traffickers. "Some of it also stays in Guatemala and generates an indescribable wave of violence," Lainfiesta Soto said. "We are convinced that these types of threats require countries to create a common front to face and eradicate them as we continue to protect the people and integrity of these nations."

When SFA detachments from the MCAST command, they collaborate with foreign militaries in support of security cooperation and foreign internal defense missions. The cooperative engagements include topics such as small boat operations and tactics, maritime combat operations, weapons handling, anti-terrorism and force protection, maintenance and construction, and officer and non-commissioned officer professional development and leadership. This training is one of many military-to-military exchanges planned in the coming years between MCAST and the U.S. Navy's strategic partners in Guatemala.

George Washington Hosts Philippines Vice President During Manila Reception

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephanie Smith, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs

MANILA, Philippines (NNS) -- The Republic of the Philippines vice president and the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines were among the more than 700 military officials and distinguished guests to attend a reception in Manila, Philippines, Sept. 6 on board USS George Washington (CVN 73).

Republic of the Philippines Vice President Jejomar C. Binay and U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines Harry K. Thomas attended the reception, held during a four-day port visit to Manila.

The vice president spoke of the long standing relationship between the Philippines and the United States, characterizing service members from the two nations as "emissaries of peace in the region."

Quoting President John F. Kennedy, Binay praised the service of U.S. Sailors.

"'I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.' I am sure that the Sailors aboard George Washington feel the same; and you should. You have done a lot of things as Sailors here in the Philippines," said Binay.

The vice president also thanked the crew for their contributions to the people of the Philippines through community relations projects.

This is George Washington's second visit to Manila in two years. The 2009 visit marked the first time an American aircraft carrier had visited Manila in 13 years.

"I am thrilled to welcome the George Washington back to the Philippines for a goodwill visit," said Thomas. "May you bring honor to your ship and your nation."

During the two-hour reception, guests mingled with the ship's crew members and learned about their lives at sea.

"This is my third time on an aircraft carrier," said Gerald Cruz, a junior officer from the Philippine navy. "But it's my first time being on an aircraft carrier in the Philippines. Everything was so well organized."

George Washington is the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier and operates from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

George Washington is currently underway on its 2010 summer patrol in the Western Pacific and is commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman.

George Washington is the flagship of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which is commanded by Rear Adm. Dan Cloyd. The GW CSG includes Carrier Air Wing 5, Destroyer Squadron 15 and the guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Cowpens (CG 63).

Guam Congresswoman Reminds Students About School's Namesake

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Corwin Colbert, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Guam's congressional representative visited Commander William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School on U.S. Naval Base Guam to make a special presentation Sept. 3.

"It is indeed a great honor for me to be here for this presentation," said Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo. "Several weeks ago, the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) called me with a special request. He asked that on my next district visit to Guam, I present a special package from NASA to the school. Today, I proudly make this presentation."

Bordallo presented a framed collage that includes a picture of McCool holding a Guam flag that he carried on the last flight of the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia. He intended to present the flag to the community of Guam, where he lived as a teenager.

Also in the collage was a small Guam flag that the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis carried to the International Space Station. The flag, along with the American flag, traveled 4.8 million miles in 186 orbits around the Earth from May 14-26.

Rear Adm. Paul Bushong, commander of Joint Region Marianas; Capt. Richard Wood, commanding officer of U.S. Naval Base Guam; and Dr. Steven Bloom, superintendent of Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific Guam also attended the ceremony.

Bordallo and Bushong encouraged students to learn about McCool's life and his achievements.

"Education was obviously an important element to the commander's success — a key point I hope the students here today remember as they grow into productive adults," Bushong said. "I ask everyone here today to remember that Cmdr. McCool possessed core values of what the world's most powerful Navy stands for. He had honor, courage and commitment to serve our great nation and to literally reach for the stars."

McCool was captain of Space Shuttle Columbia on its final tragic flight. Americans watched in shock as the shuttle, preparing to descend back to Earth, began to break into pieces Feb. 1, 2003. McCool and his six brave crew members never made it to their final destination.

The son of a Marine and Naval pilot stationed at Brewer Field, Naval Air Station Agana, Guam, McCool attended Dededo Middle School and John F. Kennedy High School where he excelled academically and athletically in long distance running.

After high school, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and became a pilot with more than 2,800 hours of flight experience in 24 different types of aircraft and more than 400 aircraft carrier landings.

Mission to Africa – Senegal

Written by: LT Connie Braesch
Post Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk

This week CGC Mohawk pulled into Dakar, Senegal, and wrapped our work with the Senegalese Navy. We spent five days along the coast of Senegal and their Exclusive Economic Zone assisting local officials in enforcing national laws and regulations as well as obtaining information on vessels and activities in Senegalese waters far out to sea with a Senegalese Navy Law Enforcement Detachment aboard the Mohawk.
We provided a platform for a Senegalese Navy LEDET to conduct law enforcement boardings within Senegal’s waters and enforce Senegalese laws and regulations. We also provided experienced U.S. Coast Guard boarding team members to accompany the Senegal Navy LEDET and provide assistance as necessary during the Senegal-led boardings.

During one boarding, the teams located a cache of methamphetamine on board a fishing vessel. The vessel was ordered to port where Senegal enforcement agencies, with technical assistance from the Mohawk boarding team personnel, conducted a dockside investigation.

“It was great to have learned so much in such little time,” said Senior Chief Dusmane Sonko, a Senegalese LEDET team member. “I saw a tight team on this ship and want to create the same in my unit.”

“Working with the Mohawk boarding officers showed me how to take charge during an inspection,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Frédéric Ndione, a Senegalese LEDET team member. “The boarding, which we did with them, was an excellent example of teamwork.”
These operations were part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) program, which enabled us and the Senegalese Navy LEDET to conduct combined and joint operations at sea that help them move past the exercise phase and into the operational phase. Not only does it broaden their skills and ability to work together, but it also provides a law enforcement presence in the region while the mission is ongoing.

“We learned a great deal from the Senegalese LEDET that will prove to be invaluable to us participating in future AMLEP operations,” said Cmdr. Robert Hendrickson, the commanding officer aboard the Mohawk. “We learned how vessels work off shore and the fishing practices of this region.”

We ended their time in Dakar with a reception, Tuesday. The guest list included Marcia Bernicat, U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, distinguished visitors from the diplomatic corps as well as the Senegalese and foreign military.

This was the last part of our West Africa deployment and we have completed our work here in Africa. Today we start our trip back across the Atlantic Ocean to the Mohawk’s homeport of Key West, Fla.

DOD to Host 9/11 Remembrance

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Michael Mullen will host the President at a remembrance ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at the Pentagon Memorial to honor the memory of those killed here in the 2001 terrorist attack. This is a private remembrance for the family members of those lost in the terrorist attack and is not open to the general public.

The remembrance, including a wreath laying, moment of silence, and playing of America the Beautiful, will begin at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT and is expected to last less than one hour. The chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, secretary of defense and President will provide remarks.

The event is open to correspondents; pooled for TV and still photographers. Registration is required due to space limitations. Correspondents desiring to cover this event must RSVP online with the White House at by noon Thursday, Sept. 9 to receive specific instructions. Registration will be confirmed by e-mail and badges will be issued at the "media check-in desk" near the Pentagon Corridor 3 bridge on Saturday morning. All registered media will enter security at the Pentagon South Parking area through marked press lanes. Media Access: 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. (Media must plan to arrive no later than 8 a.m.)

Opened on Sept. 11, 2008, the Pentagon Memorial is the first dedicated national commemorative to honor those killed during the 2001 terrorist attacks. The Pentagon Memorial consists of 184 individual memorial units honoring the 59 people aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and the 125 in the Pentagon who lost their lives at 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. For more information on the Pentagon Memorial, please visit .