Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: August, 2011 (98) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 98

August 2, 2011 at 5:20am

Defense facing cuts up to $850B over 10 years


A military fighting three wars is staring down budget cuts of up to $850 billion over a decade, some of the deepest reductions since the end of the Cold War.

Yet under the compromise struck by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to avert the nation's first-ever financial default, the near-term impact on the troops, aircraft, ships and weapons may be far less onerous than Republicans and Democrats fear.

Congress was expected to approve the overall plan to slash more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade and permit the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing cap to rise by up to $2.4 trillion and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Under the compromise, all security spending - money for defense, homeland security, veterans, foreign aid and intelligence - would be cut from the current level of $687 billion this year to $683 billion in next year's budget. Defense would be a share of that $4 billion reduction.


August 2, 2011 at 5:40am

Troops can't default on homes ... ask for help


YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan -- It's a 10-hour drive from Maj. Mark Noon's rented mobile home near Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., to his house, where his wife and children live near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Noon would like nothing more than to rid himself of the underwater mortgage on the Florida home and move his family to his new duty station to live with him. But the housing market crash has made that nearly impossible.

Unlike many civilians, Noon can't walk away from a mortgage or take on debt by selling his house at a massive loss. Heavy debt and bad credit get security clearances revoked, and servicemembers like Noon can't do their jobs without them.

Thousands of other military families stuck with a mountain of housing debt when they were forced to move to a new base have escaped hardship, thanks to a 2009 federal law that funded the Homeowners Assistance Program to reimburse servicemembers for the difference between their purchase and selling prices.

Unfortunately for Noon, he is among thousands of military families who aren't eligible to apply, mainly because of bad timing.


August 2, 2011 at 5:50am

Struggling with Job Hunting as a Military Spouse


After our PCS move to California I decided to continue going to school full-time and finish my bachelor's degree in Communications through an online university. I thought this would be a great opportunity to finish school and focus my time between my studies and family, and figured the degree would make me more marketable and make it easier to find work. Come to find out I was in for a rude awakening.

My past employment was with a Mid-Western Medical School where I worked full-time and went to school full-time. My jobs consisted of an administrative assistant and office manager, learning multiple things to add to my resume along with setting myself up with a new position and advancement when my degree was finished. This allowed me to make a lot of great friends and have acquired great references to use as well. It took me one year to finish my degree. On June 10, 2010 my job hunting started. 

Time and finances were on my side as I took the time to organize my job search and chose not to accept the first thing that came along. Past experience taught me settling for the first thing wasn't in my best interests which in turn made me miserable until I found what I was really looking for. My priority with this job search was for me to choose a job that I would be happy with the first time around. With this job search I wanted to find something with advancement and the ability to transfer. So I narrowed it down to the nearest hospitals, city/county jobs, educational institutions and banking institutions.  I applied to the nearest facilities to me and assumed calls would start coming in. Something to consider as a military spouse, we have double the challenges when it comes to finding employment since we are away from support systems and have frequent moves, etc.


Filed under: Get A Job Blog,

August 2, 2011 at 6:01am

Defense Health Board Opens Tacoma Meeting


Defense Health Board, a Federal Advisory Committee to the Department of Defense will hold its next meeting at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Anyone who might be interested is welcome to attend: veterans, retirees, and family members, healthcare personnel both military and civilian.

The Board's Director (government liaison), Ms Christine Bader, expressed a desire to have members of the local community present at the meeting on the 8th. The sessions on the 8th will take place at the Murano Hotel, 1320 Broadway Plaza in Tacoma. There is no fee to attend, the only request is that individuals who wish to attend sign up preferably via the web, (scroll down to the meeting citation), alternately at the hotel prior to the sessions.

August 2, 2011 at 6:33am

Partnership links spouses, employers

The Defense Department launched a new partnership recently that's intended to expand job opportunities for military spouses by connecting them with employers actively seeking to hire them.

Microsoft, Home Depot, Starbucks and the Navy Federal Credit Union are just a few of the nearly 60 corporations and companies that have signed on with the DOD partnership.

The design of this program is to bring together those spouses who want to work with a web portal where companies that would like to employ our military spouses can find them.

That web portal is Military OneSource - located at - which also offers job-seeking resources such as resume building. People can call OneSource consultants at 1-800-342-9647.

The partnership is based on memoranda of agreement to hire military spouses. Some 100 job fairs are scheduled, the first in Los Angeles two weeks ago, with 200 companies ready to offer jobs to spouses.

Military spouses bring a lot to the table. They've volunteered and lead different activities on and off our installations. They are skilled, diverse, and know how to operate in a team environment. Their sense of team focus and strong work ethic are some of the attributes and characteristics employers are looking for in a 21st Century work force.

Military spouses have been hit hard by the job market and face an unemployment rate of 28 percent. Of the military's 1.2 million spouses, 80 percent want to work, but have been held back by multiple moves and deployments. A 25-percent wage gap divides military spouses and their civilian counterparts. Because of those factors, the partnership pinpointed organizations that could offer telework options and portable jobs.

In the course of setting up the program's framework, officials asked spouses what they would like to see in such a partnership.

They were told not to "over-engineer things. " Spouses wanted to look for jobs and be empowered."

The program aims at bringing spouses together with employers looking for their skills, as a subset of strengthening military Families.

From an interview with Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.

Filed under: Get A Job Blog,

August 2, 2011 at 6:41am

Memorial for the Chairman set

A memorial service to honor Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997, and who passed away July 23, is scheduled at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center in Tacoma, Wash., Saturday, August 6 at 1 p.m.  The memorial will last about 90 minutes.

The memorial service is open to the general public.  Doors will open at noon.

In lieu of flowers, the Shalikashvili family asks that donations be made to the following organizations:

August 3, 2011 at 5:57am

Army, Navy football focus of reality TV show


Reality TV is a staple in TV sports. And now it's spread to service academy football: CBS and its Showtime cable channel today formally announce A Game of Honor, a so-called docu-drama on Army and Navy football airing Dec. 21 on Showtime.

The schools had some initial "sensitivity," says Peter Radovich, a show co-producer. "But they were surprisingly open to the idea and to, frankly, using it as a recruiting tool. It was smart on their part because they have nothing to hide. There are no warts there."

Filming began in June, including seeing United States Naval Academy freshman Maika Polamalu, cousin of Pittsburgh Steeler Troy, show up for his buzzcut. The show films at Annapolis and West Point all season, says Radovich, before showing up at CBS' Dec. 10 Army-Navy game with "a zillion cameras."


August 3, 2011 at 6:12am

MAMC doc at NATO hospital in Afghanistan

Here, he is called Sam 80.

The doctors don't know for sure, but they think he's about 10.

 "The Afghans usually can't tell us an exact date of birth," says Tom Curry, an Army colonel and surgeon based at Fort Lewis, Wash. "But he's about the size of an American 8-year-old, so we figure he's 10."

Sam 80 has big brown eyes, a mop of thick black hair and cheeks that beg to be squeezed when he cracks a shy smile. He likes balloons and magic tricks. He laughs when he's tickled. He rarely turns down candy. He's trusting.

 The staff met Sam 80 in February. He'd been walking home with his brother when one of them stepped in just the wrong place, detonating a buried improvised explosive device.

His brother was somehow spared. Sam 80 took it all.


August 3, 2011 at 6:15am

Clearing up the License Issue With DoD


The Defense Department is once again looking for clarification from MilSpouses on your concerns surrounding the spouse professional licensing issue.  They've identified four top problems and they want you to add your two cents to the conversation over at their Facebook page.

Here are the top issues and questions they've identified:

  • Time lost relicensing in a state: You told us that you do not have enough time to find employment at your new duty station because of lengthy licensure requirements. Will endorsement and temporary licensure help address this issue?
  • Time and effort required in retesting in a state: You told us that it was expensive and took a great deal of time and effort to retest in a state to obtain a license. Will endorsement eliminate most testing requirements?
  • Multiple licenses: You told us that you have to maintain licenses in many states in the event that you have to return to one of those states. Will endorsement eliminate the need to have more than one current license?
  • Limitations in obtaining an endorsement because of "recent experience" requirements: Some states have also provided opportunities for you to show you have current competency through continuing education credits instead of two years' experience in the past five. Will this help you qualify for an endorsement to your current out-of-state license?


Filed under: Get A Job Blog,

August 3, 2011 at 6:49am

JBLM Strykers in Singapore for exercise

SINGAPORE, Aug. 3, 2011 -- Humid air dampened the uniforms underneath the Soldiers' combat gear as they darted out the back of a Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle and began their clearing mission.

After one of them kicked in the door to their target building, they poured into the structure, searching room-by-room for enemies.

Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment "Manchus", participated in a company field training exercise with Company B, 2nd Singapore Infantry Regiment, July 25- 27, 2011, here.

It was the culminating event of Exercise Lightning Strike, a bilateral combat training exercise between Singapore and the United States. The platoon, assigned to 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, practiced military operations on urban terrain with B Company before the simulated assault.

The two armies took turns demonstrating how they execute Military Operation in Urban Terrain, or MOUT, drills and found that there were more similarities between them than expected.

"Almost every aspect of it was the same," said Spc. Alan Pacini, a member of the platoon's Weapons Squad.

The second day brought what the Singaporeans call "conventional operations" and what the U.S. Soldiers dubbed "jungle operations."

"Conventional involves the movement of the Terrexes and how the guys adapt to the movement as well as systems inside (the vehicles)," said 2nd Sgt. Ong Yi Jie, the platoon sergeant for 5th Platoon, B Company.

Jie emphasized that conventional operations also heavily involve movement through thick jungle terrain in climates similar to Singapore's and being able to detect and engage enemies in such an environment.

For Pacini and other Stryker Soldiers, climbing up the side of a hillside covered in jungle-like vegetation in 80 to 90 percent humidity to assault an enemy stronghold was different than patrolling the streets of Iraq in dry heat.

"Our army is more urban operations and desert operations," explained Pacini.

Jie applauded his counterparts on their proficiency in what he referred to as "what the U.S. does best" -- urban operations.

"What we see on the ground are U.S. forces are more trained and more slick in their movements," said Jie. "It's the fluid movements that they have in them that makes them look so professional."

Throughout the company exercise, one squad -- or section in the Singapore army -- from both units got a chance to see how the other country operates in a combat environment.

The U.S. Stryker platoon's 1st Squad joined B Company's 4th Platoon, led by Singaporean 2nd Lt. Darren Ho, and one of his sections became "Manchus" for the three-day event.

"They gave me a lot of insights (and) things to think about when it comes to planning," said Ho. "I have to really go down to the nitty gritty details and make sure that every single one knows what they're doing."

Meanwhile, the biggest takeaway for Jie was a lesson on communication.

"(The U.S. soldiers) help each other a lot and talking to each other regarding their plans and their individual roles helped a lot," he said.

The Stryker platoon's most useful lessons came from the extended training in jungle operations.

While the joint environment brought an exchange in cultures, it wasn't unusual for combat veterans such as Sgt. Tyler Donoho, a vehicle commander with 2nd Platoon.

"When we deployed to Iraq this last tour we had (Iraqi army) forces (working) with us," he said. "It wasn't really that much of a transition for me."

Over the course of the exercise, a bond formed between the two units as they worked together three days straight, sharing their knowledge and expertise.

As a platoon sergeant, Jie said he felt it was important to help form that bond between the two groups of Soldiers.

"We are both armies and we are both serving the nations of our own," he said. "At the end of the day we're all working toward the same objective."

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