Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: April, 2011 (84) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 84

April 1, 2011 at 11:36am


OK, OK, we had a little fun today at the expense of our good friends in DuPont.  No, JBLM is not annexing DuPont to make room for the arrival of the 4th ID, and in fact, the 4th ID isn't coming here either.

We wish everyone a Happy April Fools Day, and we hope the City of DuPont won't be cutting off the power to our employees' homes who live there.

April 1, 2011 at 3:57pm

Bill passes to give credits to military for certifications

Gary Brackett at C-9 has the scoop - the bill is headed to the Governor's desk.

April 2, 2011 at 5:45am

Female POWs prove women can endure war's hardships

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- Maj. Rhonda Cornum could see her breath when she awoke on the fourth day of ground fighting during Operation Desert Storm. 

It was February 1991, and the flight surgeon combated the chilly Iraqi morning by slipping on her jacket and nursing a few cups of hot coffee. 

She was headed out on a routine flight to shuttle passengers, when her UH-60 Black Hawk crew received a call telling them their mission had changed and was now a rescue. That call changed Cornum's life forever. 

A fighter pilot, Air Force Capt. Bill Andrews, had been shot down behind enemy lines and suffered a broken leg. Cornum's crew was the closest aircraft around. 

"Unfortunately we flew right over a big bunker full of weapons and they shot the tail off my helicopter ... and they shot me," said Cornum, now a brigadier general. 

Cornum was one of three Soldiers to survive the 140-mile-per-hour crash. She suffered two broken arms, a bullet wound to her shoulder, and a torn knee, only to be dragged from the wreckage and taken into Iraqi captivity. 

She was held in a primitive underground jail cell for eight days in what she calls "austere" conditions. She was also sexually molested by an Iraqi Soldier while being transported to the prison, but said being fondled was low on her list of things going wrong that day. 

"The molestation didn't do a thing to me," she assured. "It is just as irrelevant now as it was then."

Cornum said she was more surprised than emotionally damaged from the assault -- she was dirty, bloodied and badly wounded. 

"If it doesn't increase the likeliness you were going to stay there longer, and it wasn't excruciating, and it wasn't life-threatening, then it really didn't matter," Cornum explained. 

On March 6, 1991, Cornum was released along with 23 other prisoners of war in end-of-war negotiations. 

Cornum's story is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Few women have served as POWs. 

From Florena Budwin, a Civil War woman who disguised herself as a man to join union troops and was held in a confederate prison camp, to the 67 Army nurses who were taken captive by the Japanese in World War II, there have been less than 100 military women held as POWs throughout American history. 

As the debate of women serving in combat roles continues, Cornum said she believes the biggest contribution of her career is simply the proof that military women can persevere in tough situations. 

While Cornum always felt that she was a strong person, she said her experience as a POW only confirmed her belief that she was resilient. 

"It helps put everything else in perspective," Cornum said of being taken captive. "It made you recognize your strength, when previously it hadn't really been tested much." 

Cornum completed five more years of medical training upon her release, and while studying to take the board, many of her colleagues said it was the most stressful and worst experience of their life -- Cornum disagreed. 

"The same reason that I came through the POW experience well is the same reason I came through graduate school well, and the same reason I flipped my car and came out of that well -- it's that I approach every problem very similarly, that no matter how bad it gets, it will always get better." 

The brigadier general is now the director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, the Army's authority on resiliency training, and in the past 20 years has authored a book, become a urologist and earned a doctorate's degree in philosophy. 

Cornum said she didn't come up with how to instill resilience, but she did strongly advocate teaching it before something traumatic happens, rather than after. 

She likens teaching resiliency to training for a marathon: not everyone who trains finishes the race, but those who do train have a much better chance at succeeding. 

"So you ought to train first," she said. 

"I'm evidence that it works," Cornum pointed out. 

Cornum's approach is similar to how former Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson has lived her life since she was taken into Iraqi captivity in 2003. Johnson, who joined the Army with the goal of one day attending culinary school, was shot in both legs before being taken by Iraqi militants after her convoy was ambushed. 

Johnson and six other American Soldiers were moved seven times during their 22 days of captivity in Iraq. 

"You don't know what's going to happen from day-to-day," Johnson said of her time as a POW. "I wanted to see my daughter grow up and live her life." 

Johnson's daughter was 2 years old at the time, and Johnson said her family was shocked that she had been taken prisoner. Even though her dad spent 20 years in the Army and understood the military's demands, when she joined in 1998, being captured wasn't really a consideration. 

Johnson said her strong belief in God and thoughts of her family got her through the 22-day ordeal, yet she admits she was terrified. 

"It's a constant fear, because you're in the middle of a combat zone and this country has a history of executing people," she explained. 

Now, Johnson said, she is more grateful for the little things in life and sees herself as very blessed. She will finish her culinary arts degree in May, and is set on becoming a pastry chef. 

Johnson said she is proud of her time in the Army and doesn't regret her decision to join. However, she said military women have long served in roles they aren't recognized for, and they should receive the proper training for what they might possibly encounter in combat -- just as male Soldiers do. 

Her advice on staying tough while in captivity: "Follow your instincts. You've got to listen to your gut." 

Cornum agreed. 

"You've got to make the decision that what you're doing is worth the risk before you do it," she said. "Recognize that you have a new job, and that is staying alive with honor." 

Not long after Cornum's rescue in 1991, the restriction of women flying aircraft in combat was repealed, and in 1993 Congress rescinded female combat exemption laws, opening up a quarter million jobs previously closed to women. 

Earlier this month, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission recommended to the president that DoD eliminate all combat-exclusion policies for women.    

April 2, 2011 at 5:50am

New I Corps CSM ‘combat-proven’

Officers, NCOs and junior Soldiers from America's Corps gathered at the flag pole in front of I Corps Headquarters on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to welcome the incoming I Corps command sergeant major back to Washington, March 21.

Troxell received a warm welcome from Soldiers who remember his sojourn at JBLM when he served as the regimental command sergeant major of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and later led the brigade combat team of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to battle in Iraq.

"Its truly a great day to be in service to our nation," said Lt. Gen. Mike Scaparrotti, commanding general of I Corps. "Today is even more special since we get to formally welcome back Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell and his wife Sandra to the I Corps team at Joint Base Lewis-McChord."

As command sergeant major for the highest organization on JBLM, Troxell commented on his expectations of Soldiers and of himself.

"To the Soldiers and leaders of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, what you can expect out of me is the same thing you got last time," Troxell said.

"My job as the command sergeant major is to make sure that good order and discipline exist on our installation and in our organizations, so I will be enforcing standards. Any mission I'm given from the commanding general, any support you need from me, you're going to get 110 percent."

As a graduate of college and many military schools, Troxell emphasized the importance of educating troops and developing leaders. "If there's one thing I can do as the corps command sergeant major here is to prepare those under me to take my place," Troxell said.

Troxell has been a part of numerous units, and is now returning to I Corps after serving with U.S. Army Accessions Command and Human Resource Center for Excellence at Fort Knox, Ky.

"We picked John Troxell from a group of the very best command sergeants major available in out Army today for this position," Scaparrotti said. "He brings with him the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience appropriate for 29 years of selfless service to our Army."

Troxell has completed multiple combat tours including a combat parachute jump during Operation Just Cause, served in operations Desert Shield and Storm, as well as tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We are really blessed to have a terrific, combat-proven warrior, phenomenal leader as our command sergeant major," Scaparrotti said.

During his remarks, Scaparrotti used a quote from Baron Von Steuben, the Prussian army officer who trained American troops during the American Revolution, to identify how important the role of an NCO has always been to the U.S. Army.

"‘The choice of a noncommissioned officer is an object of the greatest importance. The order and discipline of a regiment depends so much upon their behavior that too much care cannot be taken in preferring none to that trust but those who by their merit and good conduct are entitled to it.'

That was written by (Baron) Von Steuben as he trained this new American Army," Scaparrotti said. "It's as true today as it was then."

Attendees joined the new command sergeant major and his family for a reception at the nearby JBLM Cascade Club at the conclusion of the ceremony.

April 2, 2011 at 5:52am

Military still paid if govt shuts down?

A Bill in Congress looks to protect servicemembers if the government shuts down.  See Army Times.

April 4, 2011 at 1:45pm

JBLM Soldier arrested on suspicion of assault

This from The News Tribune: A soldier who has just returned from a tour overseas fired a gun during an argument with his wife and has locked himself inside his home with his 2-year-old old child while refusing to speak to authorities, Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Sunday night.

The SWAT team was called to the home at 130th Street and Meridian Avenue just outside Puyallup about 8:30 p.m.

The wife safely escaped the home.

"He's inside his residence armed, refusing to talk to us or come out," Troyer said.

The soldier was later arrested on suspicion of assault after a tip led the SWAT team to a home in the 7600 block of 35th Street West in University Place, Troyer said.

Filed under: Army News, Crime, Puyallup,

April 4, 2011 at 4:26pm

Month of the Military Child

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Children of U.S. service members around the world will be honored throughout the month of April for their contributions to their families' well-being and sacrifices on behalf of the nation, a Defense Department official said.

Each April, Americans pause to recognize the nation's 1.8 million military children during the Month of the Military Child, which marks its 25th anniversary this year.

"It's really exciting that the Department of Defense, the White House and civic leaders recognize the sacrifices that military children make," said Barbara Thompson, the director of the Pentagon's office of family policy, children and youth. "It's particularly important during these times of conflict, when children are missing their parents and are sacrificing a lot, to say your sacrifice is recognized and we want to commend you for what you do for your family."

Throughout the month, military installations worldwide will host programs and activities for military children, including fairs, picnics, carnivals and parades, Thompson said. Communities also can get involved by sponsoring fun events to celebrate military children.

Military children's sacrifices and contributions have risen to the forefront in recent years, Thompson said, as people have become increasingly aware of the impact a decade of war is having on military families. Along with the typical military-related stressors of multiple moves and schools, children also have had to deal with long-term, multiple deployments and separations from one, or both, parents over the past 10-plus years.

More than 900,000 military children have had a parent deploy multiple times, she added.    

April 5, 2011 at 10:30am

DOD to drop Social Security numbers from ID cards

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Beginning June 1, Social Security numbers on military identification cards will begin to disappear, said Maj. Monica M. Matoush, a Pentagon spokeswoman. 

The effort is part of a larger plan to protect service members and other DOD identification card holders from identity theft, officials said. 

Criminals use Social Security numbers to steal identities, allowing them to pillage resources, establish credit or to hijack credit cards, bank accounts or debit cards. 

Currently, the Social Security number is printed on the back of common access cards, and on the front of cards issued to dependents and retirees. Beginning in June, when current cards expire, they will be replaced with new cards having a DOD identification number replacing the Social Security number, officials said. The DOD identification number is a unique 10-digit number that is assigned to every person with a direct relationship with the department. The new number also will be the service member's Geneva Convention identification number. 

An 11-digit DOD benefits number also will appear on the cards of those people eligible for DOD benefits. The first nine digits are common to a sponsor, the official said, and the last two digits will identify a specific person within the sponsor's family. 

Social Security numbers embedded in the bar codes on the back of identification cards will remain there for the time being, and will be phased out beginning in 2012. 
The department will replace identification cards as they expire. 

"Because cards will be replaced upon expiration, it will be approximately four years until all cards are replaced with the DOD ID number," Matoush said. 

The identity protection program began in 2008, when DOD started removing Social Security numbers from family member identification cards.    

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us,

April 6, 2011 at 1:04pm

Servicemembers would earn pay during shutdown

WASHINGTON — Military members would continue to earn wages in the event of an April 8 shutdown of the federal government, but they'd have to wait to collect them until Congress agrees on a budget, a senior administration official said here today.

During a telephone briefing administered by the Office of Management and Budget, a senior administration official detailed the consequences of a possible federal government shutdown that will occur April 8 if Congress doesn't agree on a budget.

Service members, the official said, "will continue to earn money" in the event of a shutdown.

But because there wouldn't be any money to pay out to service members during a shutdown, the official said, they would have to wait to be reimbursed.

"They will be paid once we have money again to pay them," the official said.

Some members of the Defense Department's federal civilian work force would be exempted from a shutdown because of their work in critical areas, or because they are funded through sources outside the federal budget, the official said.

However, "a significant number of DOD civilian employees, unfortunately, would be furloughed if the government shuts down," the official said.

Activities necessary to protecting life and property, or those whose funding comes from someplace other than the federal budget, will continue if the government shuts down April 8, the official added.

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us,

April 6, 2011 at 5:12pm

U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffer more catastrophic injuries

This from the Los Angeles Times: Reporting from Landstuhl, Germany, and Helmand- Grim combat statistics that one military doctor called "unbelievable" show U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffered an unprecedented number of catastrophic injuries last year, including a tripling of amputations of more than one limb.

A study by doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where most wounded troops are sent before returning to the U.S., confirmed their fears: The battlefield has become increasingly brutal.

In 2009, 75 service members brought to Landstuhl had limbs amputated. Of those, 21 had lost more than one limb.

But in 2010, 171, 11% of all the casualties brought to Landstuhl, had undergone amputations, a much higher proportion than in past wars. Of the 171, 65 had lost more than one limb.

Injuries to the genital area were also on the increase. In 2009, 52 casualties were brought to Landstuhl with battlefield injuries to their genitals or urinary tract. In 2010, that number was 142.

Dr. John Holcomb, a retired Army colonel with extensive combat-medicine experience, said he and other doctors involved in the study were shocked by the findings, which he labeled as "unbelievable."  

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: Deployment, Afghanistan, Health,

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