Friday, June 01, 2012

National ESGR honors state employer

By 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin National Guard

Green Bay-based Schneider National experienced another first Wednesday (May 30) when it received the inaugural Extraordinary Employer Support Award for large employers from the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Jim Rebholz, ESGR national chairman, said the award was created approximately 45 days earlier.

"We had no way, in the Department of Defense, to recognize ongoing support," Rebholz said, noting that Schneider National was also the first recipient of the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award in 1996, when only one award was given per year.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, pointed out that one of the criteria to receive the Extraordinary Employer Support Award was five years or more of sustained excellence in supporting National Guard and Reserves troops.

"I had to smile, because we just celebrated your 20th anniversary of commitment to veterans," Dunbar said. "I think if you looked up 'employer support to the veteran' in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of Schneider National right there."

Mike Hinz, vice president for driver recruiting at Schneider National, said that "hundreds and hundreds of our employees" are from the National Guard and the Reserves.

"We greatly appreciate the recognition ... for doing something that you're passionate about and truly believe in," Hinz said, "and that is putting our great men and women currently serving and prior service in a career where they can leverage all the investment our nation has made in them. That's what I believe we do at Schneider National - take the investment from the United States and its citizens and put those men and women into jobs where they can do great things across our country.

 Jim Rebholz (third from right), national chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presented Schneider National of Green Bay with the inaugural Extraordinary Employer Support Award Wednesday (May 30) in Witmer Hall at Joint Force Headquarters, Madison, Wis. The award recognizes Schneider's long-standing support of the military as well as former service members. Also pictured are members of the Wisconsin National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and U.S. Navy Reserve. Wisconsin National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson

"It's a real privilege for us," Hinz continued. "There is an absolute patriotic good feeling we get by doing the right things, by making sure we have a strong National Guard and strong Reserve forces, because they've got jobs in communities. We all know that a fully employed and fully engaged Reservist or Guardsman makes a better Soldier, a better Sailor, a better Marine, because they have a stable base. And that's what we hope to do."

PCU Mississippi Sailors Volunteer with American Red Cross in Pascagoula

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Mississippi (SSN 782) volunteered with the American Red Cross in Pascagoula and packed hurricane preparedness materials May 30.

PCU Mississippi Sailors assisted the American Red Cross in advance of the kick-off to hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

PCU Mississippi, the ninth Virginia-class attack submarine, arrived in Pascagoula May 25 to prepare for the submarine's commissioning June 2.

In addition to assisting with the American Red Cross, PCU Mississippi Sailors also lent their assistance to Habitat for Humanity May 29.

Capt. John McGrath, PCU Mississippi's commanding officer, emphasized his crew's interest in assisting in volunteer projects while the submarine was in Pascagoula for its commissioning.

"PCU Mississippi Sailors amassed more than a thousand volunteer hours while the boat was under construction," said McGrath. "It was only fitting for my crew to do the same while we are visiting our namesake state."

Due to their extensive volunteerism the submarine received a Navy Community Service/Project Good Neighbor community service award in 2011.

Martha Duvall, American Red Cross communications officer, South Mississippi was pleased with the Sailors' support.

"We are excited and honored to have crew members from the USS Mississippi help assemble Red Cross emergency shelter kits," said Duvall.

Duvall added that the kits will be used throughout South Mississippi this hurricane season.

"Their volunteerism today will allow us to continue to be ready if and when called upon to open shelters," said Duvall.

Virginia-class submarines are built under a unique teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News. Construction on the submarine began in February 2007.

Once commissioned in 2012, Mississippi, like all Virginia-class submarines is designed to dominate both the littorals and deep oceans. It will serve as a valuable asset in supporting the core capabilities of Maritime Strategy: Sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.

PCU Mississippi will be commissioned June 2 in Pascagoula, Miss. The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. CST, will be streamed live via as well as It will also be available via webcast at

Dempsey Seeks to Learn From Asia-Pacific Partners

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT  – The challenge for the United States in the Asia-Pacific region is translating strategy into action, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

On his way to Singapore for the 11th annual Asia security summit known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told American Forces Press Service that the U.S. “pivot to the Pacific” isn’t about establishing American dominance in the region.

Rather, he said, the goal is to work with regional partners to sustain and strengthen a cooperative security environment among Asian-Pacific nations.

The chairman noted that in this, his first visit to the dialogue, he wants to hear what other nations’ officials have to say on topics such as territorial disputes in the region’s seas. China and the Philippines both claim the South China Sea waters around Scarborough Shoal, and China and Japan dispute the area surrounding the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, near Okinawa.

Dempsey said the United States does not take sides in territorial disputes and encourages disputing parties to resolve such issues without coercion.

“What I already know is that we’ve been very clear about the need for cooperation in the maritime domain [involving] freedom of navigation,” he said. “I think that’s exactly the right position to place ourselves. But beyond that, I want to hear what these 27 nations [at the Shangri-La Dialogue] have to say, both to us and to each other -- because it will clearly be one of the most prominent issues.”

From the national strategic level where he works, the chairman said, the first priority in rebalancing defense strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region involves what he calls “intellectual bandwidth.”

“We’ve developed, over the course of 10 years, a core of real experts in the Middle East,” Dempsey said. “We need to form that same core of professionals for whom [Asia-Pacific expertise] is a lifelong work.”

The second step in the strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific region is to build on that increased bandwidth to create and explore new opportunities to increase regional security, he said.

“We have to make that intellectual shift … and then listen to the signals that we receive from our partners,” he added, noting that standing, multinational forums often are able to deal with security issues before they become crises.

“I think that’s the great strength of NATO,” Dempsey said.

A security organization similar to NATO involving many Asia-Pacific nations’ participation may have value, the general said, but only if other nations want it.

“We would have to see the appetite for that among our partners and not just try to in some way impose it on them,” Dempsey said.