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April 6, 2012 at 12:01pm

Navy F-18 crashes into Va. apartment complex

This from USA Today: A Navy fighter jet crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment building at about noon Friday, igniting a blaze that damaged five apartment buildings.

Two unidentified crewmembers ejected from the F/A-18D with what were described as minor injuries. As of early Friday afternoon, several people were being treated for smoke inhalation, says Bruce Nedelka, Virginia Beach EMS division chief.

One of the downed aviators was assisted by bystanders. "He was in shock" but seemed OK, Pat Kavanaugh, a retired local fire department rescue squad member, told CNN.

To read more, click here

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us,

April 20, 2011 at 8:02am

App for new policies on gays in the service

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - Two months after being posted on the Army Training Network, U.S. Army training materials on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or DADT, continue to be the most-downloaded information on the Army training website - with more than 85,000 total downloads. 

The DADT video, a summary of top things you need to know, presentation slides and other DADT tools have also been added to the downloadable ATN2GO app. The app, which has been downloaded more than 5,000 times since it was introduced in August, allows anyone with a CAC card or Army Knowledge Online login ID to choose DADT and other Army training materials they want to download to their iPad, iPhone or Android mobile device.

Developed by a Combined Arms Center-Training team, the ATN2GO app is taking training to the Soldier - offering opportunities to view lessons-learned training videos, field manuals and a wide variety of other resources even when an Internet connection isn't available. Plus, the just-released version 2 app allows Soldiers to select which Army Training Network content they want to download to their mobile device, and also can alert them when new content is available to download.

The latest ATN2GO download set also includes:
-- A "Wide Area Security-Patrol Leader" training video set. Similar to Duffer's Drift, the set brings counterinsurgency lessons to life through the vivid dreams of a new platoon leader enroute to Iraq. 
-- A promotional video on the Mission Command Process Trainer prototype that's being tested at Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Benning, Ga., and seven other military installations. This Low-Overhead Simulation/Stimulation Capability toolkit inter-operates with other simulations such as Virtual BattleSpace 2 or One Semi-Automated Forces and stimulates mission command systems for staff training. MCPT uses a single laptop to replicate what big systems do.
-- Officer and enlisted Training & Evaluation Outlines submitted by the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, from conducting a military memorial service to integrating a Unit Ministry Team into Convoy operations. 

Not familiar with the Army Training Network? Listen to or download the new What-U-Need2Know podcast on Army Training Network at http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/podcasts. Anyone with a CAC card or AKO login can download ATN2GO at https://atn.army.mil. Just click the ATN2GO image on the left side of the page. The site includes detailed how-to videos for downloading and using the ATN2GO app and content.

Have training content that you'd like to add on the Army Training Network and its ATN2GO app? Send it to leav-atn@conus.army.mil or contact the Army Training Network team at 913-684-2722/7224.

Part of the Training and Doctrine Command, the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center-Training delivers training programs, products and services to leaders and units in support of Army readiness. Wherever Army training occurs, the Combined Arms Center-Training helps make it happen. 

To learn more about the Combined Arms Center-Training, visit http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cac-t/, www.facebook.com/usacactraining or www.twitter.com/usacactraining.    

Filed under: Defense News,

February 4, 2011 at 12:23pm

Directory links wounded warriors, families to resources

WASHINGTON - From benefits and compensation to education and training, an online directory is providing wounded warriors, veterans and their families a direct connection to thousands of state, local and national resources.

"There's so much information on the Web right now, it's nice to have one place to access all of the content, the services, the information you need," John R. Campbell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for wounded warrior care and transition policy, told American Forces Press Service. "It really permits the service member and family the ability to get information directly."

The Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs departments created the National Resource Directory -- located at www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/ -- to link wounded warriors, service members, veterans, their families and caregivers to nationwide resources that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration, Campbell explained.

Toward that end, the directory contains information on a broad range of topics, including benefits and compensation, education and training, employment, caregiver support, health, housing, and transportation and travel.

With such a vast amount of information, Campbell said, a considerable effort went into creating user-friendly navigation tools to help people pin down resources quickly, whether it's local grassroots efforts or national-level initiatives. People can search for a resource or program by subject, state or territory. A recent addition is a state widget that people can customize and embed in home pages, blogs and other sites. Once there, the information is updated automatically.

New programs and resources are added to the directory as quickly as agencies and organizations can roll them out. Experts always are working to ensure they're hitting on the hot topics for troops and their families, Campbell noted, and as a result, the site is constantly evolving.

Campbell cited veteran homelessness as an example.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness is working with the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development departments to eliminate homelessness entirely by VA's goal of 2015.
The directory has devoted an entire section to homelessness, featuring resources that offer everything from emergency housing to employment assistance.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Defense News, Familes, News To Us,

February 2, 2011 at 12:27pm

Mullen: Workplace flexibility focuses on families, children

WASHINGTON - Military families, and especially children in those families who have grown up against the backdrop of 10 years of war, are the focus of the military's effort to make workplace flexibility an increased priority, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke during a news conference announcing a new partnership on workplace flexibility between the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute.

"People are our absolutely most important resource, and we've said that [during] the totality of my career," Mullen said. "All of us who have led, whether in peace or in war, we know that. But what's happened over the course of the last 10 years is that we have moved to a much broader and deeper understanding of what that means."

The focus on flexibility began in March, when President Barack Obama spoke at a White House forum about modernizing the federal workplace to meet the needs of today's employees and their families.

For military leaders, Mullen said, a decade of war has put a new focus on families.

"I'm in the best military that has ever existed and in great part because of our families, but we have got to continue to change," he said, noting that the services have put a great deal of effort into spouses' needs and those of the 70 to 80 percent of military households in which both parents work.

Such dual career-path households are "a requirement as seen by families these days," the chairman said.

"But what is emerging is a requirement, from my perspective, [is the need] to understand much more the needs of children" in those families, he added.

Because of the time service members have spent away from home, the chairman said, many children have spent years without their fathers or mothers.

"We've got 15-year-old kids who, from the beginning of the time they started to understand what their parents did," have lived in the shadow of war, Mullen said. "We've got 18- and 19-year olds who were 10 when the war started, and they went off to college this year or last year and don't know their parents that well because Mom or Dad -- mostly Dad -- has been away for at least 50 percent ... of their teenage years."

The services must hold on to such families, Mullen said. To do so, he added, "We're going to have to reach into different places than we've reached in the past."

The services must listen to those who have been at home and consider how to create the kind of flexibility and excellence that have made today's military superb, the chairman said.

"This is an imperative for us," he added. "This is a strategic imperative for our country."

Filed under: Defense News, Familes, Health,

February 1, 2011 at 1:19pm

Spy planted among Washington anti-war groups?

This from KING-5 TV: JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Did the U.S. military break federal laws by planting an undercover spy among Western Washington anti-war groups? Did local law enforcement accept the volunteer undercover efforts of somebody who just happened to be a civilian employee working in Force Protection at Joint Base Lewis McChord?

Those are two big questions that you may hear asked more often and more loudly in the future as public information requests turn up documents about what that undercover operative reported.
 
Timothy Smith, Chairman of the Tacoma chapter of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, has obtained documentation from the Tacoma Police Department about the activities of John Towery, the undercover plant who was working under the supervision of a Pierce County Sheriff's detective. Those documents show Towery spent several years infiltrating a variety of local anti-war and anarchist groups, focusing mostly on efforts to prevent U.S. military equipment and convoys from moving through ports in Washington, often Olympia and Aberdeen.

Smith says the fact that he has received the detailed information about the undercover operation shows that personal information about protestors, information about individual relationships and the relationships between various anti-war and anti-government groups has been kept and shared by law enforcement agencies.  

To read more, click here

Filed under: Crime, Defense News, Tacoma,

January 19, 2011 at 12:34pm

Commission to recommend lifting ban on women in combat

WASHINGTON - A commission of current and retired officers, senior noncommissioned officers and civilians charged with evaluating Defense Department policies to ensure they promote equal opportunity plans to recommend lifting the ban on women in combat.

The nonpartisan Military Leadership Diversity Commission will make 20 recommendations to President Barack Obama and Congress to increase diversity and inclusiveness and develop "a demographically diverse leadership that reflects the forces it leads and the public it services," according to a pre-decisional draft document posted on the commission's website.

The final report is expected in March.

Calling the military a leader in providing opportunities to all service members, regardless of their racial and ethnic background, the group concluded that it's now time to eliminate barriers based on gender.

Current U.S. military policy prohibits women from serving in combat units below the brigade level. And although women make up 14.6 percent of the military, they and minority members still are underrepresented in leadership posts, the commission noted.

"Increasing the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of senior leadership requires eliminating barriers that disproportionately affect the advancement of women and minorities," the draft report said.

This can be done on two levels, the commissioners said, beginning with the education and mentoring required to ensure all service members are equally prepared to manage their career progression.

"Second, DOD and the services must remove institutional barriers to open traditionally closed doors, especially those related to assignments," the draft report continues. "An important step in this direction, recommended by the commission, is to remove the restrictions that prevent women from engaging in direct ground combat."

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton, Jr., a commission member, announced last week at a military professionalism conference that the group had agreed to recommend that women be allowed to serve in combat.

"What we are saying is that women may be assigned to any job they are qualified for," Becton said at the National Defense University's conference on "Introspection and Reflection on Basic Tenets and the Way Ahead" on Jan. 11.

"We are making a recommendation," he said. "We are saying, ‘Let's remove barriers.' And I think people are very qualified to do certain jobs, but because of their gender, they are not given the opportunity to do them."

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Defense News, History, News To Us,

January 18, 2011 at 9:09am

Congressional commission studies women in combat

WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- Defense Department officials will review the recommendations of a congressional commission studying the role of women in combat when the group's report is complete, a DOD official said Jan. 14.

Congress established the Military Leadership Diversity Commission as part of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act. The commission's task is to evaluate and assess policies that provide opportunities for promotion and advancement of minority members of the armed forces.

The commission's report, expected in March, will include the findings and conclusions of the commission as well as its recommendations for improving diversity within the armed forces.

"DOD will look at the recommendation and go from there," Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said. "We'll see what the nature of the report is when it's done."

Congress repealed the combat exclusion laws in the January 1994 National Defense Authorization Act, but requires the services to submit proposed changes to existing assignment policy to Congress for review, Colonel Lapan said.

"For example, when the Navy recently changed its policy to enable women to serve on submarines, that would go through that process," he said. "So the Navy would have to inform Congress it was going to make a change."  

To read the entire story, click here

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us,

January 12, 2011 at 12:30pm

Chairman examines 'growing chasm between the American people and the military'

WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- As the military enjoys tremendous support from the American people, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said now is the time to step back, assess the impact of 10 years of war and ensure the institution remains on course.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, opening a leadership conference Jan. 10 at the National Defense University at Fort McNair here, called for a proactive self-examination --institutionally and by individual leaders -- and appropriate course corrections, as needed.

The chairman called today's all-day conference -- titled "Military Professionalism: Introspection and Reflection on Basic Tenets and the Way Ahead" -- "an opportunity to begin a conversation and debate about who we are, what we have become, and how that matches up to who we should be."

"For something like this, which is at the heart of who we are, we can't do enough self-examination," he told the attendees, key leaders of the military education and training community.

"This is not self-flagellation," he added. "This is examination to make sure we understand it and that we keep feeding it back to raise those who will lead, in the not-too-distant future, our military and, in fact, our country."

Echoing a message Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sent during a speech at Duke University in September, Admiral Mullen cited a growing chasm between the American people and the military that depends on their support for its very survival.

Secretary Gates noted during that speech that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has shouldered the national security burden, and he expressed concern that Americans are losing contact with those who make up its military.

Today, Admiral Mullen said that although most Americans have tremendous goodwill toward their men and women in uniform, by and large they have little true connection to who they are or what they represent.

That's a dangerous situation for the military, which can't survive without public support, Admiral Mullen said.

"Our underpinning, our authorities, everything we are, everything we do comes from the American people," he said. "And we cannot afford to be out of touch with them. ... To the degree we are out of touch, I think is a very dangerous course."

The chairman cited changes in the American public's perception of the military during the span of his own career.  

For more on the story, click here

Filed under: Defense News, History, News To Us,

January 11, 2011 at 9:10am

Defense official outlines pay freeze details

WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- Defense Department civilian employees affected by the federal pay freeze for 2011 and 2012 will still have the opportunity to receive performance awards, promotions and normal longevity increases, a senior defense official said.

Pasquale M. Tamburrino Jr., the deputy under secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said senior leaders are working to ensure that employees are treated fairly during the freeze.

"We value the contributions of our career federal employees, and we value their service to the nation," he said. "Nothing has changed there." 

From the time the pay freeze was announced, the emphasis has been on ensuring all federal employees receive equal treatment, he said.

"Whether you're the most junior civil servant on the first day of the job or you're a member of the executive leadership team, it applies to you," he said. 

Defense leaders, he noted, have been "very clear" in directing that the freeze should affect all employees equally.

"Not everything is covered by statute," Mr. Tamburrino said, noting that heads of agencies have some administrative discretion in some dimensions of pay. 

Guidance on the pay freeze instructs agency heads to manage administrative privileges the same way the president treated general pay increases in the executive order, he said.    

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: Benefit, Defense News, Honors,

January 7, 2011 at 12:15pm

Gates outlines ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal process

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2011 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday described the Pentagon's three-step process for preparing to allow gays to serve openly in the military services.    

At a Pentagon news conference with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gates updated reporters on the department's plan for implementing repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which has been in effect since 1993 and remains in effect until the process is complete.

"Our goal here is to move as quickly, but as responsibly, as possible," Gates said. "I see this as a three-step process. The first is to finalize changes in regulations [and] policies [and] get clearer definition on benefits."

The second phase is to prepare training materials for use by personnel specialists, chaplains, commanders and other leaders, and those who are in daily contact with service members, he said.

The third phase, the secretary explained, is the actual training for service members.

"We're trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible," he said. "My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks, so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people."

To read the complete story, click here.

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