Wednesday, February 29, 2012

North Korea Takes ‘Positive First Step’ on Nukes, Official Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2012 – The North Korean government has agreed to stop all nuclear activities at its main production and testing plant and to allow the return of inspectors, in a move a Defense Department official described as a positive step toward denuclearization of the communist state.

The North Korean leadership’s decision “is a positive first step toward complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, which remains our core goal,” Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said in a written statement. “The only way to achieve that goal is through a deliberate process that requires engagement.”

The State Department made the announcement today as a U.S. delegation returned from bilateral talks with North Korean officials in Beijing. It was the third such round of talks between the two nations.

“To improve the atmosphere for dialogue and demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization, [North Korea] has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities,” according to a State Department statement.

The North Korean delegation also agreed to the return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities at Yongbyon, and to confirm the disablement of the 5-MW reactor and associated facilities, the statement says.

State Department officials said U.S. officials “still have profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas, but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these.”

They went on to say that U.S. officials agreed to meet with the North Koreans to finalize administrative details for delivery of 240,000 metric tons of food aid, “along with the intensive monitoring required” for the delivery of such assistance.

Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that he would be skeptical of any overtures from North Korea, and that he would not expect major changes in North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, who came to power in the fall after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

In a call with reporters today, a senior administration official who spoke on background said President Barack Obama “has been consistent in signaling that we will respond positively if North Korea chooses the path of negotiation, cooperation and denuclearization.”

North Korea’s agreement this week “begins the process of walking back” provocations that led to the breakdown of six-party talks, the official said. “This agreement opens the door to serious negotiations to achieve irreversible steps” toward denuclearization, she said.

U.S. officials will continue to emphasize the need for North Korea to pursue reconciliation with South Korea, the official said. About 30,000 U.S. troops are based in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 war between the North and South.

As part of the bilateral talks, State Department officials said, U.S. officials:

-- Reaffirmed that the United States “does not have hostile intent toward [North Korea] and is prepared to take steps to improve our bilateral relationship in the spirit of mutual respect for sovereignty and equality”;
-- Said the United States recognizes the 1953 armistice agreement as the “cornerstone of peace and stability” on the Korean peninsula;
-- Said the United States is prepared to take steps to increase people-to-people exchanges, including in the areas of culture, education, and sports; and
-- Said U.S. sanctions are not targeted against the livelihood of the North Korean people.

US Navy Seabee Invited to White House

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Scott B. Boyle, 25th Naval Construction Regiment Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A Navy Seabee was invited to a White House dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Obama Feb. 29 to express the nation's gratitude to, and recognize the significant contributions of, the men and women in uniform who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, and their families.

Chief Steelworker (SCW) Bradley A. VanHorn, from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202, Detachment Washington D.C., is the only Seabee attending the event. He is among 78 service members invited to the dinner. The 13-year Navy veteran served two tours in Iraq, one with the Multi-National Security Transition Command and one at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

VanHorn said he knew something was going on because names were submitted from everyone in his command who had served boots-on-ground in Iraq and the additional information the command was asking for was intriguing.

"I was really expecting everyone who was submitted to be part of the mysterious event," he said. "I was in shock to find out that I was the only one from my command to get the golden ticket to this once-in-a-lifetime dinner."

When an envelope arrived in the mail, he said he knew it was something special.

"When I got the invitation in the mail addressed from the White House, with very fancy handwriting on it, I read what was inside and got on the phone to call everyone in my family," VanHorn said.

Service members were selected to represent the American people who comprise the military. They come from across America; from all states and territories, many backgrounds and from all ranks and services. VanHorn, originally from Cave Creek, Ariz., will represent his adopted home state of Washington, where he owns a home and plans to live after he retires from the Navy.

VanHorn said he doesn't think he did anything special to be selected, but that it is a great honor.

"There have been thousands of veterans who have sacrificed and served just like I did; and I thank them and their families for their service as well," he said. "All of them deserve a chance to tell a story about going to the White House for their sacrifices as well."

VanHorn said he is especially proud to represent the Seabees, as well as his family's history of military service.

"Serving as a Seabee like my grandfather, in the Navy like my uncle and father, is something that brings us closer than we ever could have been if I never joined," he said. "I feel the same way about all of my fellow Seabees, service members and all veterans who have ever sacrificed for this country and I'm just one small part of something that I believe in."

A plaque in front of the Seabee Memorial reads: 'With compassion for others we build, we fight, for peace with freedom.'

"To be able to live by a code that you believe to be true, to help guide your decisions, is something not everyone can do and I'm proud to be able to do so," VanHorn said.

Schwartz: Smaller Air Force Will Concentrate on Key Capabilities

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2012 – As the Air Force gets smaller in the years to come, it will have to emphasize the areas that will be the most relevant to defense, the Air Force chief of staff said here today.

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz told the Defense Writers Group that as budgets drop, the Air Force must concentrate on four basic areas: control of air and space, global mobility, global surveillance and reconnaissance, and global strike.

“Those areas clearly remain relevant to the strategy that focuses on the Asia-Pacific and the [Persian] Gulf region,” he said.

Because the service will be smaller, Air Force officials must encourage more versatility in the force structure that remains, entailing both surge requirements and overseas rotations. “That’s part of the rationale for the adjustments in the force mix that we proposed in the [fiscal 2013] budget,” the general said.

Operations and maintenance funding will become a key aspect of this smaller force, Schwartz said, and will become more important to maintain quality. It’s not enough for officials to say the Air Force is good, he added.

“We really have to be good,” he said.

Schwartz, who testified yesterday in a congressional budget hearing, reiterated the service’s need for a new bomber.

“Do you think that the Chinese have established one of the world’s best air defense environments in their eastern provinces just to invest their national treasure?” he asked. “Or, for that matter, that the Iranians have established integrated air defenses around certain locations in their country? I would say they are not doing this for the fun of it. They are doing it because they have a sense of vulnerability.

“What is it that conveys that sense of vulnerability to others?” he continued. “One of those is long-range strike, and that is an asset that the United States of America should not concede. And that’s why the long-range bomber is relevant and will continue to be relevant.”

The Air Force is cutting some air mobility assets, but Schwartz said the service still can handle its mobility requirements. The Army and Marine Corps are cutting personnel, he noted, and that will carry a corresponding decline in mobility requirements. The most recent study showed the Air Force has had to transport 32.7 million ton-miles per day, Schwartz said.

“The analysis that we have done indicates the requirement given the new strategy formulation and force size that flows from that is about 29.4 million ton-miles per day,” he added.

Even with the cuts, the general said, the Air Force will have 275 large transport aircraft and 318 small-lift aircraft, representing about 30.5 million ton-miles of capability. “We are comfortable that we have a level of capability that is suited to the force structure the new strategy envisions,” he said.

Schwartz said he wants the active Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve mix to be balanced “for the long haul.” Ideally, he said, he wants a deployment rotation of one year deployed to two years at home station for active duty airmen and a 1-to-4 or greater ratio for reserve-component personnel. “This is a question of trying to design the force for the long term in a way that active duty, Guard and Reserve can see themselves in these jobs for the long term,” he said.

Though Air Force officials have made their recommendations, Schwartz said, Congress can block these changes -- especially those pertaining to Air National Guard units.

“If the Congress decides to not proceed with some or all of our recommendations, it is a zero-sum game,” he said. “The thing I lose sleep over is getting some of this back to us saying, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that, and I’m not going to give you the money, either.’”

That formula, he said, is the quickest way to get to a hollow force.

“As convincingly as [Air Force Secretary] Mike Donley and I can, we will do our best to make the case that if it’s not what we’ve proposed, it needs to be something that’s equivalent in terms of capability and cost,” he said.

Communities Must Unite Behind Troops, Official Says

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., Feb. 29, 2012 – While government programs are essential, it will take a concerted community-level effort to ensure troops, veterans and their families realize their independent “capacity for greatness,” a Defense Department official said yesterday.

“Sometimes it takes more than valor. It takes leaders in the community connecting with them in meaningful ways,” said Army Col. David Sutherland, special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for warrior and family support. “[It’s] recognizing there’s greatness in our formations, and there’s greatness when they come home.”

Sutherland, a 29-year military veteran, urged a group of employers to recognize service members’ potential during the 2012 Wounded Warrior Employment Conference here. The conference, hosted by the services’ wounded warrior programs, is intended to educate and encourage federal and private sector employers to hire wounded warriors.

Meaningful employment, along with education and access to health care, are the foundations to ensuring long-term quality of life for wounded warriors, veterans, their families and families of the fallen as they return to communities across the nation, Sutherland said.

Troops don’t come home to government programs, he noted -- they come home to their families, their neighbors and their communities. The colonel cited a study that indicated the No. 1 remedy for dealing with combat’s effects is a sense of community, a feeling that they fit in.

Communities must step up to embrace these troops and veterans, the colonel said, particularly once their battle buddies are no longer by their side. They need new battle buddies, he added, but this time from their communities -- people who can assist them in translating their skills, knowledge and attributes into civilian life and organizations.

Government programs can’t do it alone; however, “independent organizations working together at a community level can,” he said.

Employers who take a chance on wounded warriors won’t regret it, Sutherland said, as they will bring the same valor and devotion they displayed on the battlefield to their communities and employers.

“I’ve seen them do amazing things,” he said, citing their leadership skills, performance under incredible pressure, respect for diversity and their ability to be strong team players.

“Their competencies tied to their values make them unbelievable to your bottom line,” he told the employers.

“They just need a little assistance during transition and reintegration, and they will thrive. They will contribute for years and years to come.”

Many times, however, troops are hindered by an “epidemic of disconnect” between civilians and the military, the colonel said, citing Army Sgt. Jeffrey Wray as an example of the painful effects of this divide. Wray was injured while deployed in Iraq, Sutherland said. The colonel recalled visiting him a few hours later at a combat support hospital.

When he first saw him, Sutherland said, Wray was conscious, but couldn’t speak because he had a tube down his throat. He’d been cut open from neck to groin, he said.

“As we walked up to him, with tears in his eyes, he asked us for a pen and paper,” the colonel recalled. “And he wrote down one thing: ‘Can I stay in the Army?’”

Like so many wounded warriors before him, Wray wanted to get back to his unit and his soldiers, where he’d be able to apply his competencies and values, the colonel said. Instead, he was medically discharged two years later. The sergeant had trouble finding a job, and he struggled in school and in his relationship.

“They don’t understand me,” Sutherland recalled Wray saying to him a few months after his discharge.

The colonel helped Wray get community-based peer support, education for his educators and marriage enrichment through a local nonprofit organization. And he helped Wray find an employer who valued his skills, and provided him with a mentor and a support network to ensure his success.

“Sergeant Wray will thrive,” Sutherland said, thanks to an outpouring of community support he referred to as a “sea of goodwill.”

Still, the nation’s leaders must continue to bridge the civilian-military divide by educating educators and counselors, establishing veterans resource centers for employment and education, and helping to combat the credentialing challenges troops face when they come home.

Sutherland cited the importance of community action teams that bring together all of a community’s resources -- including faith-based organizations, employers, health care providers and educators -- to enable service members’ success. In return, he said, communities will gain determined, competent people who, like all veterans before them, are “wired to serve.”

Sutherland recalled Army Capt. Sam Brown, who was injured when a roadside bomb hit the vehicle he was riding in while in Afghanistan. Brown caught fire and did the “stop, drop and roll,” then tried to douse the flames with his hands, Sutherland said. “The flames wouldn’t go out,” he said. “So he dropped to his knees, threw his hands in the air and he said, ‘I turn it over to you.’ The flames went out.”

Brown survived, but suffered burns on more than 70 percent of his body, including his face. In the midst of a long, painful recovery, Brown went with some friends to an Army-Navy game in Philadelphia. “Someone walking by said, ‘He looks like Freddy Krueger,’” Sutherland said, referring to the horror movie character.

Brown struggled with how he could fit in with a society that didn’t understand him, the colonel said.

But this officer is a “veteran, not a victim,” he said. The soldier decided to dedicate his life to other veterans and went on to establish a nonprofit organization called Allies in Service, which connects veterans to resources and mentors.

Brown later married an Army officer, and they recently had a baby, Sutherland said.

Sutherland said he’s often asked if he’s concerned about the nation’s youth and their future. The answer is a resounding no, he said. He encouraged the employers to recognize troops’ strength, resilience and courage, and the value they can bring to an organization.

“These are your men and women in uniform,” he told the employers. “And they’re phenomenal, and they’re coming home.”

Transcom Continues Mission Despite Challenges, Commander Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2012 – U.S. Transportation Command continues to meet all of its obligations to military combatant commanders and warfighters despite increasingly tighter budgets and an access dispute with Pakistan, the organization’s commander told a congressional panel here yesterday.

Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III told the Senate Armed Services Committee he “could not be prouder” of Transcom’s 150,000 military personnel and civilians.

“No one in the world can match our deployment and distribution capabilities,” he said.

Fraser outlined upcoming budget priorities and recapped the command’s “particular challenges” and “extreme operational tempo” of last year, which included moving people and equipment rapidly for humanitarian relief in Japan, assistance in NATO operations in Libya, and the withdrawal of forces from Iraq, noting that 99 percent of troops were home from Iraq by the December holidays.

“We have a very flexible, very resilient process to reply to these pop-ups,” the general said.

Transcom is “a lean, dynamic organization that plays a critical role around the world,” Fraser said, noting his command maintains global logistics dominance through the work of its subordinate commands for air mobility, military sealift, surface deployment, distribution, and the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, which was created last year.

Pakistan’s closure last year of a ground route for U.S. and NATO forces into Afghanistan has not affected Transcom’s ability to deliver warfighters what they need, Fraser said. The command has used its many regional partners for alternatives to get into Afghanistan, namely through the Northern Distribution Network, he explained.

Transcom already is planning for the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan -- 20,000 are scheduled to leave by October -- and Fraser said he is receiving positive feedback from Central Asian countries, including Russia, to make the Northern Distribution Network a two-way route. Still, he said, the Pakistan route is needed because of the size of the drawdown.

“It’s a daunting task,” Fraser said. Transcom workers, he added, are identifying excess equipment and ways to be efficient in the drawdown.

“If it has capacity, we’re making sure we put something on that aircraft and bring it back out to get ahead of this the best we can,” he said.

The general said he does not expect reductions in aircraft tanker and airlift programs, including the C5-A, C-27J, and C-130, to prevent Transcom from meeting its missions. The cuts were based on strategy agreed upon by all the combatant commanders, he said. Also, he said, other changes have made Transcom more capable: improvements have brought depot maintenance time from 19 percent to about 10 percent, and new KC-46 and KC-135 acquisitions will provide “a bridge to the future.”

By continuing to build relationships with commercial partners and other nations, Fraser said, Transcom will meet all future challenges.

“Together, we will ensure our nation’s ability to project national military power -- any time, anywhere,” he said. “We will remain focused on supporting forces around the world.”

Navy Partners with Facebook for Initial Timeline Rollout

From Defense Media Activity - Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy Facebook page launched a new interface Feb. 29, changing the way fans engage and interact on the site.

Along with 40 other big brands from government and industry, the Navy was selected as part of the initial rollout of Facebook's popular "timeline" that, until now was only available to personal profiles. The move gives select brands early access to the interface that will eventually be mandated for every brand page on Facebook.

"New Facebook pages give government agencies, lawmakers, and political campaigns more engaging ways to tell their stories, and we're excited to see branches of the U.S. military leading the way." said Joel Kaplan, vice president, U.S. Public Policy for Facebook.

"We're eager to see others join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard in embracing new pages to better to connect with citizens, provide information, and deliver services," Kaplan said.

The Navy entered into a beta product agreement with Facebook in early February for the initial rollout phase of Timeline for brands on the Navy's Facebook page.

"These interface changes will allow us to tell a more engaging and authentic story that aligns with our ongoing efforts to share the value of America's Navy with audiences at home and abroad," said U.S. Navy Chief of Information, Rear Adm. Denny Moynihan.

This early partnership gives the Navy the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions for enhancements to Facebook. This is especially important as the new interface will eventually affect 870 command pages currently administrated by Navy communicators.

It also gives the Navy social media team an advance opportunity to develop guidance and expertise to share with Navy communicators prior to the March 30 rollout for all page users.

The Navy's social media efforts are more than two years old and include a variety of platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. There are more than 470,000 fans on the U.S. Navy Facebook page and 820 commands in the U.S. Navy Social Media Directory.

DCoE: Just Breathe

By Corina Notyce, DCoE Strategic Communications

Take a moment to focus on just breathing—inhale and exhale evenly and slowly. Sometimes we don’t notice our breathing because we’re constantly on the go. We don’t think about how slowing down enough to concentrate on our breathing for just a few minutes a day, can help us relax and improve our body’s response to anxiety and stress. Real Warriors Campaign’s latest article, “Breathing, Meditation, Relaxation Techniques,” explains how daily breathing and meditation exercises can build resilience and ease anxiety, depression or reintegration stress.

Breathing Exercises for Beginners
Alternate nostril breathing is a good exercise to start with because it brings balance to both sides of the brain and controls the body’s reaction to stress:

■Sit in a comfortable position
■Close off your right nostril by placing the thumb of your right hand on your right nostril
■Inhale through your left nostril
■Close off your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand
■Remove the thumb and exhale through your right nostril
■Inhale through your right nostril
■Close off your right nostril with your thumb
■Exhale through your left nostril
■Inhale through your left nostril
■Continue alternating five to 10 times

How does meditation work?

By focusing attention, meditation restores calm, inner peace and produces a deep state of relaxation for the individual. Some forms of meditation require you to become mindful of thoughts, feelings and sensations and to observe them in a nonjudgmental way. Most types of meditation have four elements in common:

■A quiet location. Having very few distractions is particularly helpful for beginners.
■A specific, comfrtable posture. Depending on the type being practiced, meditation can be done while sitting, lying down, standing, walking or in other positions.
■A focus of attention. Focusing your attention is usually part of meditation. For example, you might focus on a mantra (a chosen word or set of words), an object, the sensation of breathing or whatever topic or thought is dominant in your consciousness.
■An open attitude. Embracing an open attitude during meditation means letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them. If your attention goes to a distracting or wandering thought, don’t suppress those thoughts; gently return your attention back to focus.

Stress can alter our state of health, mood, emotions and also affect our cognitive function. Take the time to understand how stress works, to identify stressors in your life and engage in healthy stress management techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, exercise, meditation and yoga. For more on mind and body practices, also referred to as complementary and alternative medicine and integrative health practices, read the Real Warriors article and DCoE blog post, “Holistic Therapies Help Manage Stress at Home.”

How are you maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Tell us what you do to relax, or deal with stress in your life in the comment section below.

Marines Conduct Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Exercise 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Norman, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

CAMP RODRIGUEZ, Korea (NNS) -- Marines assigned to Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) 2nd Company, 2nd Platoon started training at Camp Rodriguez Live Fire Complex Feb. 27, as part of FAST Exercise 2012.

Approximately 50 Marines will spend the next 13 days training in classrooms, conducting live and dry firing evolutions and participating in mock offensive engagements to further sustain and improve weapons marksmanship.

"The point of this exercise and training is meant to sustain our platoon offensive and defensive tactical capability at a tactical level," said FASTPAC 2nd Platoon Commander, Capt. Derek Rey.

Throughout the evolution, Marines will get the chance to further improve their marksmanship skills on dry and live firing ranges with the MM9 pistol, M-16 A4 rifle, M4 assault rifle, M240 medium machinegun and the M39 enhanced marksmanship rifle.

"Only six Marines out of the platoon are able to get qualified for the M39 EMR, so I don't get to shoot it as much as I'd like," said Lance Corp. Timothy Gainey. "Being here [Camp Rodriguez] will help me get more training so I can improve my score."

2nd Platoon will conduct two-man firing squad attacks, trench clearing techniques and improve their skills to recapture buildings.

"I hope the platoon is able build up their small unit tactics into a higher level of proficiency", said Rey. "This exercise will also give the platoon the chance to develop individual leadership skills."

Marines assigned to FASTPAC 2nd Company, 2nd Platoon are based out of Yorktown, Va, and are forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan embarked aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).

Schwartz Details Dover’s Handling of 9/11 Victims’ Remains

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2012 – In the wake of a report issued yesterday by a panel that investigated operations at the Dover Port Mortuary in Delaware, the Air Force’s top officer said today that mortuary personnel followed policies in place at the time -- but which since have changed -- in handling some remains of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Speaking at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz addressed the issue, which came to light at a Pentagon news conference yesterday when retired Army Gen. John P. Abizaid answered questions about his panel’s investigation and report.

At a separate news conference later in the day, Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley declined to answer questions about the 9/11 victims’ remains, saying they had yet to read that portion of Abizaid’s report.

“Overnight, we’ve had an opportunity to review the report quickly and have had an opportunity to do some research on one of the fundamental questions that came up related to the remains of the fallen from 9/11,” Schwartz said this morning.

Air Force officials found correspondence dated in March 2002 from David Chu, then the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, providing guidance on handling the remains, Schwartz said.

The letter provided disposition instructions for three categories of remains of people killed in the 9/11 attack, he said. Category 1 was “for those portions of remains that were unidentified or unidentifiable or those remains that were identified subsequent to providing initial remains to the families -- and if that was the direction provided by the families -- that they be cremated and provided to the superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery for burial,” Schwartz said.

The remains of the terrorists were Category 2, the general said, and those were transferred to the FBI as the letter stipulated.

“The third category were unidentified portions of remains that were comingled with other material from the event at the Pentagon,” Schwartz said. “The direction was to incinerate those remains in a fashion [that] at the time was accepted practice within the medical profession.”

That practice was to cremate the remains, further incinerate them and then pass them to a contractor to dispose of the remainder in a landfill.

The mortuary personnel followed those instructions, the general said.

Schwartz emphasized that he was not trying to justify the process, noting that the process changed in 2008, with all cremated remains now placed in a salt urn and given a retirement at sea.

“We have endeavored since 2008 to ensure that we treat the fallen with the dignity and respect and, in fact, the reverence that they and their families deserve,” Schwartz said.

“This is a no-fail business,” he added. “This is one of those areas where perfection is the only standard, and any deviation from that is not only a disappointment, it’s an affront to the families of the fallen and our expectations of ourselves.”

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement today that Defense Department officials are continuing to assemble records and information on the past practices of disposition of partial remains. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has directed that Pentagon officials offer a briefing to 9/11 families in the next few weeks to provide this information, he added.

“We fully understand and want to address the questions families might have about the previous disposition policy that ended in 2008,” Little said. “We intend to make the facts about that past policy known to the loved ones of those who died.”

Who Will Stand Your Watch

From Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- 'Who Will Stand Your Watch' is a new substance abuse prevention campaign recently launched by the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP) office officials said Feb 28.

The focus of the campaign is to educate Sailors on the negative impact substance abuse can have on their careers, family and shipmates.

"Sailors have a personal responsibility to consider the effect their absence will have on their unit and their shipmates if he or she is removed from duty as a result of a substance abuse incident," said Dorice Favorite, NADAP director.

NADAP is using television public service announcements, posters and pamphlets to heighten awareness of how poor decision making by Sailors in abusing drugs or alcohol diminishes command readiness.

"A Sailor's decision to use drugs has a bad impact on the workforce," said Yeoman 1st Class (SW/AW) Latashia Graham, Navy Personnel Command (NPC) secretariat office. "Now you put Sailors that work for you or work with you in the position of having to do your job and theirs which makes it more stressful for everyone."

According to Favorite, the number of alcohol incidents and Sailors testing positive for illicit drugs has decreased over the years, but substance abuse continues to put lives and missions at risk. For that reason, it benefits everyone to prevent substance abuse from occurring rather than dealing with its consequences. Prevention requires responsibility and accountability at all levels.

"The campaign is a pro-active approach to substance abuse," said Favorite. "It forces Sailors to ask themselves who will stand my watch when I lose my career or even my life due to drug or alcohol abuse."

Even with the emergence of new designer drugs the Navy maintains a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use, reinforced by the separation of 1,515 Sailors in fiscal year 2011. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner Services currently tests for designer drug compounds for Navy Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) cases.

If a Sailor needs help with substance abuse, they can contact the command drug and alcohol program advisor (DAPA), contact Military-One Source for a confidential assessment and counseling at no cost to the Sailor, speak with their chain-of-command or their medical care provider.

For more information on the 'Who Will Stand Your Watch' campaign, visit the NPC Webpage at,,, contact the NPC customer service center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC or email at

Notre Dame Hosts Junior ROTC Cadets from Chicago

By Lt. Jeffrey S. Gray, Navy City Outreach, Chicago

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (NNS) -- Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) cadets from six of Chicago's publicly-funded military high schools spent Presidents Day engaging with Naval ROTC Midshipmen and learning about robotics and nuclear physics research from professors at the University of Notre Dame Feb. 20.

The visit to Notre Dame was sponsored by Navy Recruiting District, Chicago, and hosted by the University of Notre Dame's office of admissions, and the Naval ROTC unit at Notre Dame.

Twenty-four cadets, representing Chicago's Air Force Academy High School, Carver Military Academy, Chicago Military Academy, Marine Math and Science Academy, Phoenix Military Academy, and Rickover Naval Academy, were invited to participate in the outreach event.

Capt. Clarence E. Carter, professor of Naval Science and commanding officer for the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Notre Dame, welcomed the cadets upon their arrival to the campus and joined them for lunch at the campus' south dining hall.

Welcoming the cadets, Carter commended them for their decision to be a part of the Junior ROTC program, and stressed the importance of Junior ROTC as a guide for young people to grow and develop into mature young adults. Carter also emphasized the importance of Junior ROTC in shaping future leaders and potential Midshipmen in the Naval ROTC program.

"Naval ROTC is a potential next step for these cadets as they look to their respective futures," said Carter. "They can use their experiences from Junior ROTC to pursue their passions and dreams, and enlarge their experiences to serve their country. Naval ROTC is great opportunity and potential fit for these cadets."

After spending time with the Naval ROTC program, the cadets were provided an overview of the university's admission process by LeShane Saddler, assistant director for admissions.

Saddler spoke about the importance of being involved in activities as a significant factor in the admissions decision-making process.

"Involvement can mean a number of things," said Saddler. "Being involved in clubs and organizations; sports or after school programs; or, what I know you are involved with right now, Junior ROTC. The point is, Notre Dame is a school you can attend. However, it's important for you to stay involved with Junior ROTC and extend your involvement to your community, but most importantly prepare yourself academically to attend a school like the University of Notre Dame."

After the admissions talk, cadets were led by Naval ROTC Midshipmen Steven Prendergast, Victoria Hennings, and Mitch Lopes on a campus tour that provided insight into some of the history and traditions of the Notre Dame campus.

After an all-you-can-eat lunch at the South Dining Hall, the cadets moved to Cushing Hall of Engineering for a robotics demonstration from a research group headed by James Schmiedeler, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Schmiedeler's research focuses on biped robot locomotion, human recovery from stroke and spinal-cord-injury, robot-assisted rehabilitation, prosthetic devices, mechanical energy storage for vehicles and the design of shape-changing mechanisms.

"I want the students to understand that we are working on problems important to society, problems of robotics and mechanical design," said Schmiedeler. "Working on those problems can be difficult and challenging, but it can also be fun and exciting. Applying your intellect to find creative solutions to these problems is a lot of fun. We come into the lab and enjoy our work every day, and we'd like them to be a part of the fun by joining us in a few years down the road."

From Cushing Hall, the cadets moved over to Nieuwland Science Hall, which houses a pair of particle accelerators within the Nuclear Science Laboratory. The accelerators assist with the study of nuclear reactions which are important to the understanding of energy production and the origin of elements in stars and explosive stellar environments.

At the Nuclear Science Laboratory, they met Ed Stech, associate professional specialist nuclear physics, who provided an overview of the research of the laboratory and a guided tour of particle accelerator lab.

"My hope is that the students gained an appreciation of how the accelerator lab works, how our lab does basic physics research into the properties and processes of the physical universe, but more importantly I hope it sparked an interest in them to pursue studies in the field of nuclear physics," said Stech.

"From the Naval ROTC perspective, being able to show these cadets the educational and career opportunities available in the Navy and get a taste for what life is like at an elite university campus like Notre Dame is a tremendous opportunity", said Carter. "We hope they choose Naval ROTC and choose to study the high demand majors of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Becoming an officer who is technically educated will benefit not only the individual and the Navy, but will also benefit our country in the future."

Among the cadets, the trip was viewed as a tremendous opportunity to learn about the Naval ROTC program and more about the interesting academic programs offered to undergraduates at Notre Dame.

"I didn't know about all the numerous career opportunities the Navy has," said Cadet Tralisa Ware, a junior at Air Force Academy High School. "I attend Air Force Academy High School, and we learn a lot about the opportunities the Air Force provides. I wasn't planning to major in math, science or engineering, but the tour of the physics lab and robotics demonstration really piqued my interest in those academic areas."

Face of Defense: Airman Saves Police Officer’s Life

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
49th Fighter Wing

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., Feb. 29, 2012 – Air Force Staff Sgt. Lionel Garcia, a 49th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter here, saved the life of a San Antonio police officer Feb. 19 while on leave visiting his family.

"We left my son's birthday party and were headed back on the highway to my parent's house, and I happened to witness a police officer get hit by a passing motorist," Garcia said. "The officer landed face-down on the shoulder of the highway, so I immediately pulled to the side of the road and ran over to the officer to render aid."

As he approached the officer, he added, he could see the officer needed immediate medical attention.

"I could hear him gurgling, trying to breathe, but the position he was in was causing his airway to be blocked," Garcia said. Immediately taking charge of the scene, he directed a police officer to keep the victim’s neck immobilized while he and another certified emergency medical technician rolled him over and removed his shirt, utility belt, bulletproof vest and undershirt to perform an initial assessment.

Besides having difficulty breathing, Garcia said, the officer had numerous cuts on his face, wounds on his elbows and knees, an injury to his pelvis and a fractured femur.

Garcia and the other EMT treated the victim for shock by elevating his legs and monitored him until emergency crews arrived. "During that period,” he said, “his breathing and pulse both improved, but he never regained consciousness or made any movement on his own."

The officer is expected to make a full recovery.

"I have followed the story online, and the officer underwent a 10-hour surgery the next evening," Garcia said. "The news reports all said that he will make a full recovery, and that's the most important thing right now."

Garcia credits his actions to the Air Force fire protection training he has received.

"As a firefighter, you're always trained to perform a scene size-up in your mind before you get on scene," he said. "I didn't really have that many thoughts when I saw it happen. I basically just reacted to the situation, and adrenaline took over. I'm trained to do this.” The chance to help and save people is why he became a firefighter, Garcia added.

His squadron commander, Air Force Col. Donald Ohlemacher, praised Garcia for his actions.

"Once again, our Air Force firefighters' heroic actions saved a life," Ohlemacher said. "Sergeant Garcia was in the right place at the right time to take swift action and render first aid to the fallen police officer. He's one of our many great American airmen who apply instinct and training in times of need. I'm very proud of Sergeant Garcia and his superb actions."

Improvements Ongoing at Dover, Air Force Officials Say

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The Air Force already is adopting many recommendations to improve its mortuary affairs operations at Dover Air Force Base, Del., and is studying other improvements an independent committee recommended, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said here today.

Donley and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, briefed Pentagon reporters after retired Army Gen. John Abizaid presented his committee’s findings. Abizaid led a review of current operations at Dover’s port mortuary, which handles the remains of all service members.

Last year, whistleblowers charged that mortuary officials mishandled remains. A subsequent Air Force inspector general investigation found that was the case, and Air Force officials immediately put corrective actions in place and disciplined three leaders at the facility.

A further investigation by the Office of Special Counsel found that mortuary officials had retaliated against the whistleblowers. The Air Force is working with the Office of Special Counsel, and OSC officials said they expect settlement agreements to be announced shortly.

Donley and Schwartz thanked the Abizaid committee for the independent review and assessment.

Donley said that among the actions he is taking is directing that the mortuary operations commander have Uniform Code of Military Justice authority. “Providing our commander the authority to ensure the appropriate level of accountability is an essential tool in maintaining command discipline,” he said.

In addition, the Air Force secretary said, he is working to place the mortuary commander firmly in the chain of command. Now, the commander reports to a staff officer on the Air Staff at the Pentagon. Abizaid recommended the commander be placed in a two-star command.

The Air Force also is working to develop an inspection program appropriate to the unique mission at the facility, Donley said. “The first inspection under the new program is scheduled to take place this June,” he added.

Donley and Schwartz declined to comment on a portion of the Abizaid report about disposal of “nonassociable, fragmented” remains, saying they had not read that part of the report. Donley said he would look into the report and re-emphasized that the service is looking ahead and working to put in place changes to ensure the port mortuary complies with the highest standards.

Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Good Nutrition Matters, Let Me Tell You Why

By Dr. James Bender, DCoE psychologist

Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

Hello. Athletes looking for a performance edge, soldiers wanting to get through combat leadership training, people coping with mental health concerns, and those wanting an energy boost, can all benefit from the same thing: good nutrition.

Nutrition is important for everyone, not just people trying to lose weight. There’s a well-established link between nutrition and mental health. Neurotransmitters, chemicals inside the brain that are crucial for brain functioning, are derived from food. Also, there’s a relationship between nutrition and several psychological conditions like insomnia, depression and anxiety. This does not necessarily mean that poor nutrition causes these problems; it does mean the two are related. For example, while most obese people are not depressed, obesity is associated with higher levels of depression. Therefore, eating well is often a useful adjunct to mental health treatment.

The military is taking note of the value of nutrition. Earlier this month, the Defense Department launched a nutrition campaign consisting of updates to the menus at military dining facilities, the first such updates in almost 20 years. Healthy options will now be the “only” option. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson describes obesity as a national security concern because there’s a smaller pool of potential candidates available for military service. Nearly 30 percent of potential military candidates between the ages of 17-24 can’t meet entrance requirements because they’re overweight. Additionally, about 1,200 entry-level service members are discharged annually for weight-related issues.

Here are a few nutrition tips to get you started:

 ■You don’t need nutritional supplements; you can meet all your nutritional needs through healthy food choices.
■A lot of research is being conducted on omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil supplements and the chemical substance S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe). While not yet conclusive, research shows a positive relationship between these substances and improved mental health.
■Physically-active people need more nutritionally dense food, not just more calories.
■Here are two websites for more information about nutrition: and the Defense Department’s Human Performance Resource Center.

There is no “magic wand” when it comes to performance enhancement. Sleep, nutrition, exercise and social support all play important roles in your physical and mental performance. Think of nutrition as one tool in your toolbox.

Stay safe and I’ll write again next month.

Blue Star Families joins the NEA for Read Across America Day

Military families Books on Bases programs help nationwide

Washington, D.C. (February 29, 2012) –  Blue Star Families is pleased to announce that its literacy program for military children, Books on Bases, has joined The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, March 2, 2012, participating in the ongoing effort to “build a nation of readers.”

Marking the 15th anniversary for Read Across America, participation expected to reach over 45 million people nationwide. This year’s event is co-chaired by cast members of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” which premiers in theaters the same day as Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, March 2nd.

Furthering Blue Star Families’ commitment to increase literacy amongst military children and encouraging families to read together, BSF chapters around the country will host reading events on March 2, 2012.  Events planned include Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Benning, Georgia and military impacted communities in California.  

“The first step in ensuring our children’s educational success is through reading,” said Tricia Ross, program manager for Books on Bases. “The ability to read shapes a child’s ability to learn, and literacy is the foundation that is needed to become a successful, life-long learner.  Parents that take an active role as their child’s first teacher help to establish the value of education in their home early on, which in turn, sets up a precedent of the importance of literacy and learning.”

Books on Bases, is a program created by Blue Star Families to positively impact the lives of military children through the power of reading.  Blue Star Families continues its mission to promote literacy among military children by providing books to military children, military base libraries, Department of Defense Schools, military impacted public schools and community libraries.  The program is dedicated to developing a love of reading among our military children; one of the best ways to accomplish this to simply read to them. The everyday lives of military families are challenging and books can be used as a tool to provide the opportunity for escapism, stress-relief, self-expression and dialogue over thoughtful matters that may otherwise be difficult.

Added Ross, “What better way to show the importance of reading then by celebrating one of the most inspiring children’s authors of all time? Blue Star Families is excited to participate in this year’s Read Across America Day and encourage military family’s bond through reading.”

About Blue Star Families
Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. To learn more about Blue Star Families, visit

About NEA’s Read Across America
The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, NEA’s Read Across America. Now in its thirteenth year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.NEA’s Read Across America Day, NEA’s national reading celebration takes place each year on or near March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate by bringing together kids, teens, and books.

Media requests may be directed to Stephanie Himel-Nelson at 703-472-6292 or Tricia Ross at 910-430-4216

Panetta Urges Congress to Put All Federal Spending on Table

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The responsibility to reduce the deficit cannot be borne by defense alone, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told the Senate Budget Committee today.

Panetta detailed President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 defense budget request, which puts the department on the road to reduce spending by $487 billion over the next 10 years.

Along with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Panetta told the senators that the Pentagon is ready to do its part in reducing the record deficit. But the secretary, who has federal budget experience going back to the 1960s, had a warning for the committee.

“No budget can be balanced on the back of discretionary spending alone,” he said. “Based on my own budget experience, I strongly believe that all areas of the federal budget must be put on the table -- not just discretionary, but mandatory spending and revenues. That’s the responsible way to reduce deficits and the responsible way to avoid ‘sequester’ provisions contained in Title 3 of the Budget Control Act.”

Sequestration would mandate another $500 billion in cuts over nine years from defense alone. The secretary called the provision a “meat ax” approach to fiscal policy, and said it would cause tremendous harm to America’s national security posture.

“These cuts would, in fact, hollow out the force and inflict severe damage to our national defense,” he said. Panetta stressed that it is not a question of choosing between fiscal responsibility and national security.

“While I understand the differences, there should be consensus on one thing: that the leaders of both the legislative and executive branches of government have a duty to protect both our national and fiscal security,” the secretary said. “I fundamentally do not believe that we have to choose between fiscal discipline and national security. I believe we can maintain the strongest military in the world and be part of a comprehensive solution to deficit reduction.”

The president’s proposal does that, he said. Dempsey agreed.

“This budget represents a responsible investment in our nation’s security,” the chairman said. “It strikes a purposeful balance between succeeding in today’s conflicts and preparing for tomorrow’s. It also keeps faith with the nation and with the source of our military’s greatest strength, … America's sons and daughters who serve in uniform.”

The proposal is firmly based in strategy, Dempsey said, noting that the Defense Department conducted a strategy review and used its conclusions to inform all budget decisions. Even without fiscal constraints, he told the panel, the department would have performed this new strategy review to incorporate the lessons of 10 years of war.

The military is at a strategic turning point, Panetta told the senators.

“We agreed that we are at a key inflection point,” he said. “The military mission in Iraq has ended. We are still in a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But 2011 did mark significant progress in trying to reduce violence and transitioning to an Afghan-led responsibility.”

A responsible cut considers the changes in the world, the secretary said, including operations that resulted in deposing Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and counterterrorism operations around the world that have decimated al-Qaida. “But even though we have had these successes,” he added, “unlike past drawdowns where threats receded, we still face an array of security challenges.”

Panetta noted that U.S. troops are in combat in Afghanistan, and that terrorists remain a problem in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and North Africa. “There's still a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the world,” he said. “Iran and North Korea continue to undermine stability in the world. There is continuing turmoil in the Middle East.”

Rising powers in Asia and growing concerns about cyber intrusion and attacks also must be dealt with, Panetta said. “We must meet these challenges,” he told the senators. “We must meet these threats if we are to protect the American people.”

Panetta recited the guidelines used to form the budget, a recitation he said is fast becoming a mantra to him. “No. 1, we wanted to maintain the strongest military in the world,” he said. “No. 2, we did not want to hollow out the force. And lastly, of course, we didn’t want to break faith with the troops and their families, those that have had to be deployed time and time and time again over 10 years of war.”

The defense funding request is for a baseline budget of $525.4 billion for fiscal 2013 and an additional $88.5 billion in war funding. The $487 billion in savings over 10 years comes from four areas of the defense budget: efficiencies, force structure reductions, procurement adjustments and compensation, Panetta said.

The secretary told the senators that the force of the future will be smaller and leaner, but more flexible, more agile and more technologically advanced.

“In order to ensure an agile force, we made a conscious choice not to maintain more force structure than we could afford to properly train and properly equip,” he said. “We are implementing force structure reductions consistent with the new strategic guidance for a total savings of about $50 billion over the next five years.”

The Army will go from 562,000 to 490,000 soldiers by 2017. The Marine Corps goes from about 202,000 to 182,000 Marines.

“We’re reducing and streamlining the Air Force’s airlift fleet,” Panetta said. “In addition, the Air Force will eliminate seven tactical air squadrons but retain a robust force of about 54 combat fighter squadrons and enough to, obviously, maintain air superiority and strategic airlift that we need.” The Navy will retire seven cruisers that have not been upgraded with ballistic missile defense capability, he added.

The strategy calls for the department to focus on the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, Panetta said. “To this end,” he told the panel, “the budget does maintain our current bomber fleet. It maintains our aircraft carrier fleet. It maintains the big-deck amphibious fleet that we need. And we do enhance our Army and Marine Corps force structure presence, both in the Pacific, as well as in the Middle East.”

But the United States is a global power, and American presence is needed in all regions of the world, he said. “We recommend building innovative partnerships and strengthening key alliances and partnerships in Europe, in Latin America and in Africa,” he added. “This strategy makes clear that even though Asia-Pacific and the Middle East represent areas of growing strategic priority, the United States must work to strengthen its key alliances, to build partnerships.”

Defense planners are looking at rotational deployments to sustain a U.S. presence elsewhere in the world, the secretary said.

The world is uncertain, and the strategy calls for a military that can confront and defeat aggression from any adversary, any time and anywhere, Panetta said.

“We have to have the capability to defeat more than one enemy at a time,” he said. “In the 21st century, we have to recognize that our adversaries are going to come at us using 21st century technology. So we must invest in space, in cyberspace, in long-range precision strike capabilities and in special operations forces to ensure that we can still confront and defeat multiple adversaries.”

But it all comes back to trying to cut the deficit on the back of defense, Panetta said, getting a bit heated in discussing this aspect.

“This Congress proposed, as part of the Budget Control Act, a trillion dollars in savings off the discretionary budget,” he said. “You can’t meet the challenge that you’re facing in this country by continuing to go back at discretionary spending. That’s less than a third of federal spending.

“Now, … if you’re not dealing with the two-thirds that’s entitlement spending, if you’re not dealing with revenues and you keep going back to the same place, frankly, you’re not going to make it, and you will hurt this country,” he continued. “You’re going to hurt this country’s security not only by cutting defense, but very frankly, by cutting discretionary spending that deals with the quality of life in this country.”