Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: March, 2011 (80) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 80

March 1, 2011 at 8:24am

Update on changes to PT

FORT MONROE, Va., Soldiers will be better prepared if they train how they would fight. This innovative physical readiness training philosophy, implemented by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, has driven the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School to revise not only how the Army conducts physical training, but also how it will evaluate a Soldier's physical capability. 

WHY CHANGE?

Since 1980, the U.S. Army has assessed physical aptitude through the Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT. Commonly known as the "PT Test," Soldiers are required to complete three events: two-minutes of push-ups, two-minutes of sit-ups, and a two-mile run. 

"Today's PT test does not adequately measure components of strength, endurance, or mobility. The events have a low correlation to the performance of warrior tasks and battle drills and are not strong predictors of successful physical performance on the battlefield or in full spectrum operations," said Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, TRADOC's deputy commanding general for Initial Military Training, who holds a master's degree in exercise physiology. 

As TRADOC's lead for the test review, Hertling collaborated with a 16-member team headed by Frank Palkoska, director of the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School, resulting in a recommendation to the Army for not just one, but two revised PT tests. 

"The goal is to align the training and the tests with tasks that Soldiers have to perform on the battlefield so that the commander has a better tool to measure preparedness and can guide training for the unit," said Palkoska. 

WHAT WILL THEY LOOK LIKE?

The proposed tests, the Army Physical Readiness Test, or APRT, and the Army Combat Readiness Test, known as the ACRT, align with Army Physical Readiness Training outlined in Training Circular 3-22.20, which was implemented Army-wide last August providing exercises, drills and activities appropriate for various levels of physical fitness. 

The APRT, designed to replace the current APFT, expands from three to five events, eliminates sit-ups, increases the pace of push-ups, and replaces the long-distance run with shorter-faster runs. The five events include: 60-yard shuttle run, one-minute rower (exercise outlined in TC 3.22-20), standing long-jump, one-minute push-up, 1.5 mile run. 

These events will more accurately test a Soldiers anaerobic and aerobic endurance while reducing the risk of injuries. The current test also only provides a "snapshot" assessment of upper and lower-body muscular endurance and fails to identify anaerobic capacity, said Hertling. 

In order to better assess anaerobic capacity that drive high-intensity bursts of energy, the run will be changed to 1.5 miles. 

"Soldiers will tend to run faster, testing the anaerobic energy system in their body," said Hertling of the 1.5 miles. The shorter-faster run, requiring a significant burst of energy, will better prepare Soldiers for the intensity of today's battlefield, he said. 

To better assess muscular endurance, the one-minute rower and push-up events will not allow Soldiers to pause and rest. This will require non-stop muscle movement that will demonstrate immediate muscle fatigue and failure. 

TRADOC is also recommending Soldiers take the ACRT, which incorporates warrior tasks and provides a more accurate assessment of the physical readiness training program and the Soldier's individual capability. The ACRT will be executed in the Army Combat Uniform, Advanced Combat Helmet, and weapon, and includes a 400-meter run, hurdles, a high crawl, casualty drag, sprints, and several other movement drills. 

The ACRT is designed to not only correlate with readiness training, but also to provide a more accurate picture of a Soldier's ability to perform Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills. The test incorporates several exercises and drills from the physical readiness training circular and provides a testing environment similar to that on the battlefield. 

"Previously, we primarily trained for the assessment," said Palkoska. Now our training will drive the test, not the other way around, he said. 

WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN?

The Army will begin pilot testing at approximately eight locations with multiple units in order to set standards. The pilot currently plans to align age categories for the test scores with the American College of Sports Medicine and Cooper Institute, broadening age categories to under 30, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60 and above, for both genders. 

Following the establishment of standards and a thorough review, likely lasting through the summer, the tests can then be approved for Army-wide execution. Implementing the new tests is the final step in the Soldier Athlete initiative to better prepare Soldiers for strenuous training and the challenges of full-spectrum operations.

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March 1, 2011 at 10:23am

JBLM soldier killed in Afghanistan

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Pfc. David R. Fahey, Jr., 23, of Norwalk, Conn., died Feb. 28, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

According to unit records, Fahey enlisted in the Army August 31, 2007 at Springfield, Mass., and reported to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on Sept. 6, 2007 for initial entry training. After completing training in Military Occupational Specialty 31B: Military Police, he served 12 months at Camp Walker, Korea before reporting to then-Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) on March 18, 2009, where he was assigned to the 42nd Military Police Brigade. He was assigned to the 170th Military Police Company in February, 2010. The company deployed to Afghanistan in June, 2010.

Fahey's civilian and military education includes a high school diploma (2008), and the Military Occupational Specialty 31B: Military Police Qualification Course (2008).

His awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Drivers and Mechanics Badge.

On behalf of the entire Joint Base Lewis-McChord community, we extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Fahey 

March 1, 2011 at 8:09pm

50 suicides at JBLM since 2002

From NPR

OLYMPIA, Wash. - 50 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord have killed themselves since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq . Some committed suicide on-base, others off and still others while deployed overseas. , we brought you the story of a soldier whose family believes he committed suicide by cop. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports on how leaders at JBLM say they've dramatically stepped up efforts to combat suicide. But they admit it's not easy to change Army culture.

See the rest of the report here.   

March 2, 2011 at 6:27am

Army issues Posture Statement for 2011

The Army Posture Statement is the written testimony of the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army to Congress for the annual posture hearings. The Army Posture Statement informs Congress on the state of the Army and outlines the Army's compelling needs for Congress to consider when reviewing the President's budget for the following fiscal year. The Army Posture Statement also informs internal and external audiences about recent Army accomplishments and current initiatives. The online version of the Army Posture Statement includes 15 addenda which explain key programs and policies, including ARFORGEN, the Network and the Army Profession of Arms. It also contains over 270 information papers which provide details on important initiatives and activities.

See the Document HERE.   

March 3, 2011 at 4:53pm

JBLM program earns national recognition

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has received national recognition from the AbilityOne Program for its role in contracting with nonprofit agencies that employ significantly disabled people.

The Mission and Installation Contracting Command Director Pamela Munoz will accept the 2010 AbilityOne/National Institute for the Severely Handicapped National Achievement Government Award for Services: Military in May at the NISH national conference in Orlando, Fla.

The AbilityOne Program is a federal initiative to help people who are blind or have other severe disabilities find employment by working for nonprofit agencies that sell products and services to the U.S. government. AbilityOne is the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities in the United States, according to the AbilityOne website. AbilityOne works with the NISH, a national nonprofit agency designed to create federal contracting employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities, according to the NISH website.

NISH contractors are completing about 10 of the more than 250 ongoing contracts at JBLM, but quantity isn't the important factor - it's the number of service-disabled veterans who are employed, she said. More than 400 people with significant disabilities are employed through four NISH contracts, and a large majority of these are veterans.

Some of the major NISH contracts include the maintenance and operations of the first sergeants barracks, maintenance of the chemical latrines found throughout the training ranges, the operation of the Central Issue Facility (where Soldiers' gear is dispensed), the cleaning staff at base dining facilities and the maintenance for wheeled vehicles. According to Munoz, the wheeled vehicle contract is the only one of its kind in the Army.

"The support from NISH contractors here on (base) significantly impacts the Soldier (and Airman) and the quality of service they provide, making our lives easier," Munoz said.

The two major NISH contractors used on base are Skookum Contract Services and Professional Contract Services, Inc. These two nonprofit agencies go out of their way to hire service-disabled veterans, she said. Veterans, like other people with disabilities, aren't necessarily going to be in wheelchairs or have physical disabilities; their conditions could be behavioral, as veterans can be struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or physical, having suffered a traumatic brain injury. NISH contractors ensure their employees have the time and ability to get to doctors appointments, Munoz said.

More than 60 percent of people with severe disabilities are unemployed, according to the Ability One website. By having NISH contracts at JBLM, that number can be greatly reduced for Pierce County, Munoz said.

"It's a win-win for everybody; it's a win for the installation because we get superior contract performance, and it's a win for the people with disabilities because they have the opportunity to compete for a job," she said. "As we have been successful bringing more contracts on board at JBLM employing people with disabilities, more people are starting to understand that people with disabilities can do these jobs."

The future for more opportunities for NISH contracts is looking bright. Munoz said that MICC has started working on procuring a new contract to support aircraft services at McChord Field. Yakima Training Center may also receive a NISH contract for range operations and maintenance.

"We are still working new projects with NISH to continue our reputation of supporting AbilityOne and people with disabilities," the director said.

A veteran who also will be recognized for his achievements is Bret DiFrancesco, a maintenance worker with PCSI. The award recognizes a veteran with a significant disability who has exhibited outstanding achievement in his or her work life.

March 3, 2011 at 8:27pm

508th MPs win annual ACC Best Warrior competition

This year's winner of the Army Corrections Command Soldier of the Year and his runner up were products of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Kleespies and the first runner up, Sgt. Brandon Walker, came directly out of the 508th Military Police Battalion, representing Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 508th MP Company and the 67th MP Company.

Kleespies serves as the motor sergeant for HHC and demonstrated the knowledge and ability required of an NCO, widely regarded in the battalion as the go-to NCO for all maintenance questions and matters.

Kleespies said that "the competition is an excellent opportunity for Soldiers to demonstrate to themselves and others their character, show that they are well rounded, and learn lessons about what it takes to be a complete Soldier."

The competition measured the Army Total-Soldier concept and made Soldiers prepare by doing extra physical training and studying on their own.

"Success in each event is critical," said Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Muller. "Soldiers need to go into these events putting their best foot forward, after all they're competing with the best of the best."

None knew this better than the two Soldiers of the 508th MP Bn. who demonstrated their determination to succeed by finishing top two in the contest.

Once a year, military police internment/resettlement units from across the globe who fall under Army Corrections Command send their best and brightest to compete in the ACC Soldier of the Year competition, which measures Soldiers' skills in every aspect of their profession.

To kick off of the competition, Soldiers participated in a land navigation course. They learned quickly why the vegetation known locally as some of the "thickest brush ever seen."

Upon the completion of the land navigation event, the competitors moved right into an obstacle course. Set up much like a confidence course, it was designed to test the Soldiers' physical fitness, endurance, and mental acuity with obstacles like the incline wall and the belly crawl.

After the obstacle course, Soldiers were tested on their knowledge and competence of warrior tasks. Given a warrior task, each was directed to perform it to standard, referencing the Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks.

Day 2 began with a modified Army Physical Fitness Test. The Soldiers performed push-ups and situps. The standards were high, with every pushup breaking the plane and hands on each situp touching the marching surface. The MP warriors finished with a three-mile run.

Next came the "EST 2000" simulated range, where Soldiers fired at targets with a modified M-4 service rifle to gauge their weapons proficiency. The day concluded with a comprehensive written exam that covered basic soldiering skills, Army history, and Army programs knowledge and a board in front of senior NCOs.

March 3, 2011 at 8:29pm

Madigan optometrist earns high honor

Photo by Tawny M. Dotson Neil Glenesk is the 2011 recipient of the Armed Forces Optometric Society Orion award.

When Neil Glenesk enlisted in the Army in 1974 it was to pursue his passion in the World Class Athlete program. Little did he know, more than 30 years later, he'd be world-class in a whole new category.

Now an Army colonel, Glenesk is the 2011 recipient of the Armed Forces Optometric Society Orion award, which is the highest honor bestowed on an AFOS member.

On March 2, Glenesk received the award at the AFOS's annual meeting during the SECO International Conference for optometrists in Atlanta. The AFOS executive council votes on nominations for the award and can have a maximum of three recipients per year. Glenesk is the only recipient this year and joins an elite group of 25 other professionals who have received the award since 1974.

The same year the Orion Award was first awarded, Glenesk participated in the modern pentathlon and won medals around the world. Reaching the pinnacle of athletics was one of many opportunities the Army would give him over his 30-plus year career.

"I never planned to be in the Army, but life is what happens when you are busy making plans," Glenesk said.

Glenesk decided to pursue optometry because of the lifestyle the field offered and graduated from the University of California Berkley's Optometry School as a doctor of optometry in 1984. Following graduation he was commissioned in the Army.

He has worked as a staff optometrist and chief of optometry at many levels. As the chief of Army Optometry, Glenesk served in the Office of the Army Surgeon General.

While there he worked on a number of groundbreaking projects. He coordinated with Col. (Dr.) Robert Mazzoli on the Vision Center of Excellence, a concept directed by the assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs. The VCE is an eight-year initiative approved for $56 million in funding. In addition, Glenesk worked to create the G-Eyes program, which is a central database that servicemembers who are deployed can access remotely and order glasses or optical inserts to be delivered to them. Glenesk looks back fondly on his experiences as the consultant.

"It was just an honor. It was hard work, very long hours, but I didn't mind it when it's this important and you are helping so many people," Glenesk said.

Glenesk was nominated for the award by Col. Terry Lantz, chief of Army Optometry. Lantz replaced Glenesk this summer. Glenesk is now the chief of optometry services at Madigan Healthcare System.

"His accomplishments are incredible," Lantz said. "He serves as a mentor for all optometrists to emulate. I look forward to presenting his award and thanking him for his dedication and hard work. The profession has benefited from his exceptional achievements."

While serving as the chief of Army Optometry, Glenesk was instrumental in the creation of the Vision Center of Excellence, which advocates for research and treatment for improved vision care and restorative innovations for servicemembers He was also involved in the Military Combat Eye Protection Program and G-Eyes, a remote spectacle ordering system.

"It's nice to get the award, but the actual doing it, the actual day-to-day job was worth more," Glenesk said.

March 4, 2011 at 5:47am

Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell ready for return to JBLM

A familiar warrior is returning to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to become the senior NCO of America's Corps. Department of the Army announced that Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell will return to become senior enlisted advisor to Lt. Gen. Mike Scaparrotti, the commanding general of I Corps.

"I really want to get back in the fight," said Fort Knox's senior enlisted Soldier, when asked why he was going to a new assignment before his normal rotation time.

Anyone who knows him well will recognize that sentiment as typical coming from Troxell, who just left Fort Knox. He arrives to immediately join preparations for deployment to Afghanistan this summer to run the day-to-day combat operations for International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.

Troxell knows the Corps' terrain well; he was the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division command sergeant major at Fort Lewis and Iraq before going to Fort Knox in August 2008. He called the command sergeant major job at I Corps his "dream assignment," but not one without challenges.

The former Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base merged as Joint Base Lewis-McChord Feb. 1, 2010.

I Corps is the highest headquarters on an installation that is home to 11 brigade-sized organizations, three separate battalions, two Air Force airlift wings, 50,000 Soldiers and Airmen in a multi-service, multi-component (National Guard and Reserve units) and multi-commands.; Forces Command as well as Special Operations Command have units under JBLM's wing.

"They just reached full operational capability in October," Troxell said, "so there are going to be some of the same challenges developing synergy among all the senior leaders (as he found at Fort Knox); they're still figuring things out. One of the things I'll dig into as we prepare to go to war will be getting the installation to continue to be on track as a joint base (during the Corps' deployment)."

Troxell will be missed by many, but perhaps no one will feel his absence more than his boss, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the Accessions Command and Fort Knox commander.

"I'll miss the teamwork," Freakley said. "He's such a charismatic, inspirational leader; he inspires me to try to do better. He has high standards and he coaches, encourages, cajoles, directs and demands that others meet that standard. More of us need to emulate (Command) Sgt. Maj. Troxell."

Troxell said that JBLM will get the same four "E's" that he gave Fort Knox: education, enforcement, enthusiasm and energy.

"I wake up every day happy to be a Soldier, happy to throw on my PT uniform, do PT and then come to work and be around great Americans - great men and women," he said.

Freakley said that attitude and passion for service is Troxell's hallmark trait.

"It's not about him; it's about his strong passion to serve our Soldiers, to serve our Army and to serve our nation," Freakley said.

Although he wanted the job at JBLM, Troxell wasn't going to throw his hat in the ring if his boss didn't approve.

"If (Freakley) would have said, "No, I need you here," that would have been the end of the story," he said. "But he said, ‘Go for it,' giving me this great opportunity. I'm so grateful to (Lt.) Gen. Freakley."

"A very clear message has been sent," Freakley said. "He is the right man for the job. He's the right man because he is a warrior. He understands combat and the requirements of combat. He will help (Lt.) Gen. Scaparrotti to ensure (that) I Corps is as prepared as they can be. He will be a phenomenal voice for the Soldiers to (Lt.) Gen. Scaparotti in combat operations.

"The other thing is that John and Sandra Troxell are as good as it gets as an Army family. They are the complete package. I'm proud of our Army for making this decision to select the Troxells. The whole command wishes him and Sandra the best and God's blessings."

"Sandra and I are excited about this," Troxell said. "To lead more than 100,000 Soldiers in combat in Afghanistan, that's just a dream come true for me."

March 4, 2011 at 8:48am

Review of Lewis-based Stryker platoon complete

FROM THE ARMY TIMES

The Army has completed its administrative investigation into a troubled Stryker brigade, a spokeswoman said Thursday, but for now it isn't releasing the findings.

The investigation was conducted by a brigadier general after a dozen soldiers from the brigade were accused of crimes ranging from hashish smoking to slaughtering Afghan civilians.

SEE THE STORY HERE.

.

March 5, 2011 at 5:58am

504th MP dies in Afghanistan

The Department of Defense announced
Friday the death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier who was supporting
Operation Enduring Freedom. Spc. Jason M. Weaver, 22, of Anaheim,
Calif., died March 3, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds
suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive
device. He was assigned to the 170th Military Police Company, 504th
Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, Joint Base
Lewis-McChord, Wash.

According to unit records, Weaver enlisted in the Army January 15, 2008,
in Los Angeles, Calif. On January 30, 2008, he reported to Fort Leonard
Wood, Missouri for initial entry training in Military Occupational
Specialty 31B (Military Police). Weaver reported to then-Fort Lewis (now
Joint Base Lewis-McChord) on July 10, 2008, where he was assigned to the
42nd Military Police Brigade. He was assigned to the brigade's 170th
Military Police Company in October, 2008, and the unit deployed to
Afghanistan in June, 2010. This was his first deployment.

Weaver's civilian and military education includes a high school diploma
(2007), and the Military Occupational Specialty 31B: Military Police
Qualification Course (2008).

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army
Achievement medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service
Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global
War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service
Ribbon, NATO Medal, Drivers and Mechanics Badge.

On behalf of the entire Joint Base Lewis-McChord community, we extend
our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Weaver.

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