By unitedweroll on Feb 21, 2013 | In Military News and Support
Proud teachers making accomplishments with their students. However, these classrooms are in the fields of Afghanistan, in harm's way. And the subjects are how to protect one's country from insurgents so that the children can go to school, so families can be safe in their homes and so citizens can earn a living whether through agriculture, textiles or other sources. And more.
But this is the beginning and it is being taught by some pretty incredible men and women who joined the Armed Forces to stand guard over our freedom. Whoever knew how many ways they would accomplish this mission?
... "This will not always be a counterinsurgency fight they are in, and they will have to shift more and more to being able to defend their country against external aggression, ...
They have shown a tremendous deal of flexibility in what they bring to the nation's defense and whatever is asked of them," he said. ...
In doing so, "they have really seen the power of their assistance to the Afghans," he said. "They have seen what that really means in terms of advising, assisting, training and helping them to integrate new capabilities. It has become something that the Marines and our coalition soldiers have taken a lot of pride in, being able to watch these guys step up more and more and take the lead responsibility for security." ...
Outgoing Commander Cites Progress in Southwestern Afghanistan
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2013 - As he prepares to conclude a year of command in one of the most challenging regions of Afghanistan, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles "Mark" Gurganus said he's optimistic about the progress his forces have helped to bring about as they overcame challenging circumstances and an evolving mission.
Gurganus is scheduled to transfer command of the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command Southwest next week to Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Walter Miller Jr., wrapping up a year overseeing operations in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.
Talking by phone with American Forces Press Service from his headquarters in Helmand province today, Gurganus reflected on the challenges he and his 15,000 U.S. and coalition forces faced during a transitional year.
"We came over here and were clearly still leading the counterinsurgency fight," he said. But the mission evolved over the course of the deployment, with Gurganus' forces conducting more joint operations with their Afghan national security counterparts, then moving into advisory and mentoring roles as the Afghans took on more security responsibility.
Now, a new step in the evolution is under way – a process focus on developing the logistics systems, training programs and other institutions. "That is really a key part of the evolution, because I think that is where we leave behind capabilities that are sustainable," Gurganus said, posturing the Afghans for future challenges.
"This will not always be a counterinsurgency fight they are in, and they will have to shift more and more to being able to defend their country against external aggression," he said. "So I think this next evolution is pretty important."
Recognizing that "Marines still love a good fight, there is no doubt about that," Gurganus credited his Marines with embracing every phase of the transition. "They have shown a tremendous deal of flexibility in what they bring to the nation's defense and whatever is asked of them," he said.
In doing so, "they have really seen the power of their assistance to the Afghans," he said. "They have seen what that really means in terms of advising, assisting, training and helping them to integrate new capabilities. It has become something that the Marines and our coalition soldiers have taken a lot of pride in, being able to watch these guys step up more and more and take the lead responsibility for security."
Meanwhile, coalition troops have juggled other challenges, including the drawdown of more than 10,000 Marines and other ISAF forces and their equipment in the midst of the fighting season. As part of the surge recovery, two Marine regimental combat teams were reduced to one, six battalions were reduced to two, and 143 bases were closed or transferred.
"That made the mission more difficult," Gurganus conceded. "But once we laid out what needed to be done, the commanders got after it and the Marines just got on with doing it."
These experiences have enabled the Marines to develop skills Gurganus said will easily transfer to security cooperation missions they could be called on to support anywhere in the world. "I think these experiences are going to be key to being able to execute those missions with a great amount of professionalism." he said. "I don't think we will ever run out of a needing the skills that we developed here -- at least not in the foreseeable future, anyway."
Gurganus reported "a laundry list" of progress during the past year. The Afghan army and police have demonstrated that they're up to the task of increasingly challenging roles. "They're certainly not perfect yet," Gurganus said, "but they have developed, and their capabilities have gotten stronger."
He cited particular progress within the police force, which is putting the concepts of community policing and evidence-based criminal processes into action. "That's been a huge step in a province where 85 to 90 percent of the people are illiterate," Gurganus said.
But the most promising development, he said, is the growing – albeit it slow – support of the Afghan people for their government. Sustainable development projects are benefiting the population, and people have a voice that simply didn't exist a decade ago, he noted.
"I won't tell you it is wholesale yet, that everybody thinks the government is great," Gurganus said. "But I think probably that is the part that is most heartening."
Despite "a lot of good-news stories," Gurganus recognized that many challenges remain. "I told Lee Miller I think he will have plenty of work to do over the course of the next year or so, but I think we have some good progress," he said.
Among those challenges is the expectation that the Taliban will attempt to resurge as coalition forces draw down – just as they did during the past year's drawdowns. But based on Afghans' response, Gurganus said, he's confident they're prepared to take the Taliban on.
"We saw the Taliban actively target and take on the police and Afghan National Army and have seen them, quite frankly, step up to the plate and handle the threat," he said. "It was not without casualties and not without trouble. But at the end of the day, they took the day. And it is really troublesome, I think, for the Taliban."
Afghans are leading all operations, from planning to resourcing their activities, he said. Coalition forces provide support only when the Afghans absolutely need it, such as medical evacuation capabilities they have not yet developed.
As his Marines prepare to return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., Gurganus credits them for the role they have played in Afghanistan's future. Gains made haven't come without sacrifice, he recognized. So even before he leaves Afghanistan, Gurganus already is planning a memorial service to be held April 11 at Camp Pendleton to honor the 75 Marines, sailors and coalition soldiers in Regional Command Southwest killed during the past year.
The ceremony not only will honor them and recognize the magnitude of their sacrifice, he said, but also will help to give closure to the Marines who served and sacrificed alongside them.
Gurganus recognized the U.S. and coalition forces who sacrificed before them in Helmand province and helped set the conditions for his forces to build on.
"It goes back not only to the things we have done. It goes back to every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who has served out here," he said. "The conditions were well set for us to pick up this mission. And hopefully, we will have taken it to another level, where now General Miller just picks it up and goes right on from here."
What that future will look like remains unclear, he acknowledged. But the way Garganus defines success – and encourages his Marines and coalition forces to define it – is through the opportunity they have given the Afghans.
"Ten years ago, the Afghan people had no opportunity. They had nothing resembling a chance to have a better future," he said. "Our job is to help create that opportunity. And what they decide to do with it is ultimately going to be their decision."
By this measure, Garganus declared the current deployment and previous ones it has built on a success.
"I really do believe that the work that has been done over the course of the last 10 years by all of the coalition has given the Afghans the opportunity now to really step up and be a country for which they determine its future," he said.
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles "Mark" Gurganus
NATO International Security Assistance Force
By unitedweroll on Feb 21, 2013 | In Military News and Support
This article includes comments from SSG Daniel T Blowers II, our first guest on our United We Roll show at Stardust Radio Network Inc Tuesday, February 19th.
POL fuels Transit Center mission
Posted 2/4/2013 Updated 2/4/2013
by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Martinez
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
2/4/2013 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- The Transit Center at Manas runs on fuel. Without it, service members could not accomplish the missions of air refueling, airlift and onward movement.
The 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron's Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants flight is the unit responsible for fueling those missions.
Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Garner, fuels superintendent deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, oversees a team of more than four dozen POL Airmen operating the second largest fuel bladder farm in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility. The unit's primary mission is to receive, issue and store aviation fuel. Additionally, the unit provides the base with diesel and unleaded fuel, commonly referred to as ground fuel, for vehicles and generators.
The deployed POL flight operates much as they would at home station. Two section chiefs oversee five different elements: control center, fuels lab, training and support, distribution and bulk storage.
"When we deploy, the only thing that is different is the personnel and the location," said Garner. "The processes and organizations are the same so we can go right in and operate without any problems."
The control center is the hub of operations for the POL flight. Every receipt and delivery of fuel is tracked by the service center controllers. This is also where fuel is ordered and drivers are dispatched out for deliveries.
While the control center tracks all the fuel coming in and out of the Transit Center, the fuels lab tests it all.
"We test to make sure it is clean and dry," said Tech. Sgt. Ronald Gaspar, the fuels lab NCO in charge. "Clean means it is without contaminants. Dry means it is without water."
The lab is also responsible for determining the amount of additives to be put in the fuel. Additives include a static dissipater, icing inhibitor, corrosion inhibitor and lubritidy inhibitor. To ensure the level and quality of additives are just right, fuel samples are pulled at multiple points in the process.
"If I don't do my job and follow the guidelines just right, we can create issues with the aircraft," said Gaspar, who is deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill. "It's a challenge, but I love my job."
The bulk storage element is responsible for the upkeep of two dozen fuel bladders and a steel constructed storage tank, as well as the associated hoses and pumps. Currently, the POL Airmen are in the process of replacing valves on the storage tank hoses in order to improve operations.
"We are switching from butterfly valves to gate valves," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Spatz, NCO in charge of bulk storage. "The fuel pressure can actually push open the butterfly valves. The gate valves provide us better isolation of the fuel and are less prone to breakdown."
From the storage area, the distribution element delivers fuel to where it is needed. Because the Transit Center flies tankers, the amount of fuel delivered can quickly add up.
"Since October we've issued about 45 million gallons of aviation fuel," said Garner. Calendar Year 2012 totals included delivery of 117 million gallons of aviation fuel, 1.2 million gallons of diesel fuel and 175,000 gallons of unleaded fuel. "From my experience, if you're pushing more than 100 million gallons in a year, then you're jobbing it."
Behind all the other elements is the training and support element, ensuring every POL Airman has the necessary training and tools to do the job. Staff Sgt. Daniel Blowers, deployed from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the NCO in charge of training support. He recently had the opportunity to see fuel operations beyond the POL flight when he flew on a KC-135 Stratotanker.
"I've never seen a boom operator work before," said Blowers. "I've refueled plenty of aircraft before, but never from another aircraft. It was great to talk with the boom operator and compare notes.
"The coolest part was when we refueled a C-17 [Globemaster III] - knowing that aircraft was headed downrange and supporting the fight" he said. "POL directly supports that."
Garner, a 25-year veteran in the career field, knows the impact POL has on the mission.
"To use a football analogy, I compare our job to that of the offensive linemen," said Garner. "We make things happen so that the quarterbacks - the aircraft and aircrew - can make the mission happen. We know we have to get fuel out of the bladders and into aircraft so that the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force units downrange get the fuel and support they need. And we are pretty darn good at it."
By unitedweroll on Feb 20, 2013 | In Military News and Support
American history is still the best reading material for all ages. Perhaps if we had more of our history portrayed in movies and TV, it would help our youngsters - all of us - to fly our flags and puff out our chests with pride!
It might help those who move to this country understand why Americans are free, why we have our Constitution and way of life that we do, before these are history, too.
First African-American Medal of Honor Recipient Safeguarded Flag
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2013 - The U.S. flag has been a symbol of American courage and patriotism for more than 200 years, and those who serve in the military hold it in high reverence.
So it's no surprise that Army Sgt. William H. Carney risked his life in 1863 to safeguard the symbol of American pride and inspiration, earning the distinction of being the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Carney, the son of slaves, was born in Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 29, 1840. As a young man, he was ambitious and eager to learn, and excelled in academics despite laws and restrictions banning African-Americans from learning to read and write.
After his parents' slave owner died, the Carneys were granted their freedom. Carney's father moved further north, searching for a suitable area to settle down. After stops in Pennsylvania and New York, the elder Carney took his family to New Bedford, Mass.
Carney spent the remainder of his adolescence in New Bedford, working odd jobs and pursuing his interests in the church. He attended services at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Union Baptist Church, and was on the precipice of making ministry his life's work when the Civil War began. Carney decided he could better serve God by serving in the military to help free the oppressed.
On March 4, 1863, Carney, along with 40 other African-Americans from New Bedford, joined Company C, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment, to fight in the Civil War.
According to state records, the regiment was the first African-American Army unit to be raised in the northern states, and its fighting force included two of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass' sons.
After only three months of training in Readville, Mass., they were shipped to the main area of fighting in South Carolina, where they saw action at Hilton Head, St. Simon's Island, Darien, James Island and Fort Wagner.
It was at Fort Wagner that Carney's heroic actions earned him the nation's highest military honor.
On July 18, 1863, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment soldiers led the charge on Fort Wagner. During the battle, the color guard, John Wall, was struck by a fatal bullet. He staggered and was about to drop the flag when Carney saw him.
Carney seized the flag, and held it high despite fierce fighting, inspiring the other soldiers. He was wounded twice -- in his leg and right arm -- and bled heavily. Although the Army sergeant could hardly crawl, he clutched the flag until he finally reached the walls of Fort Wagner. He planted "Old Glory" in the sand and held it tightly until he was rescued, nearly lifeless from blood loss.
According to accounts, Carney still refused to give up the flag to his rescuers, but grasped it even tighter. He crawled on one knee, assisted by his fellow soldiers, until he reached the Union temporary barracks, ensuring the flag never once touched the ground.
For his bravery, on May 23, 1900, Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first African-American to receive the medal.
His citation reads: "When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back, he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded."
Special Report: African-American History Month
New Bedford Historical Society Web Page on Army Sgt. William H. Carney
Congressional Medal of Honor Society Web Page on Army Sgt. William H. Carney
Center of Military History – Medal of Honor
By unitedweroll on Feb 20, 2013 | In Military News and Support
As Sequestration comes ever closer, it is also more clear that our beautiful country - the United States of America - may be totally destroyed by the political games and egos in Washington DC. They have already taken care of themselves by passing laws to protect THEIR income and healthcare, while not doing the jobs they were elected to do - protecting our country and our fellow Americans. No matter what party they call their own, it does not seem that either one is standing up for our country. Has the air in DC been poisoned with something that disables patriotism and loyalty to the USA?
... "Within a year, two-thirds of the Army combat brigade teams will be at unacceptable levels of readiness, Hale said. Most Air Force units not deployed will be at an unsatisfactory readiness level by the end of the year. Navy and Marine Corps readiness also suffer, Hale said." ...
If Sequestration Triggers, Furloughs Begin in Late April
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2013 - If sequestration is triggered next week, unpaid furloughs for civilian Defense Department employees will start in late April, Pentagon officials said here today.
Sequestration is a provision in budget law that will trigger major across-the-board spending cuts March 1 unless Congress agrees on an alternative.
DOD Comptroller Robert F. Hale told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that if sequestration happens, the department will cut virtually every program and investment, and that almost all civilian employees will feel the pain.
Jessica L. Wright, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said that sequestration and the continuing resolution -- a temporary funding measure for the federal government that's set to expire March 27 -- also will have a devastating on military personnel.
"But on our civilians, it will be catastrophic," she added.
"Everything is going to be affected, should sequestration go in effect," Wright said. "That's a guarantee. I think that everybody will be impacted by this action. And I think it's incumbent upon us to try to ease that where we can."
The department already has taken actions to alleviate some of the pressures. DOD has slowed spending, instituted a hiring freeze, ordered layoffs for temporary and term employees and cut back base operations and maintenance.
If sequestration hits, this pain will seem minor by comparison. Operations and maintenance funding is the only way to provide the $47 billion in required cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Within a year, two-thirds of the Army combat brigade teams will be at unacceptable levels of readiness, Hale said. Most Air Force units not deployed will be at an unsatisfactory readiness level by the end of the year. Navy and Marine Corps readiness also suffer, Hale said.
The process of furloughing civilians began today, with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta sending notification to Congress. "That starts a 45-day clock ticking, and until that clock has run out, we cannot proceed with furloughs," Hale explained.
If sequester happens, each employee will be notified. "That starts a 30-day clock -- waiting period -- before we can take any action," the comptroller said. "The bottom line is furloughs would not actually start for DOD employees until late April, and we certainly hope that ... in the interim, Congress will act to de-trigger sequestration."
The vast majority of DOD's almost 800,000 civilian employees will be furloughed, Wright said. DOD civilians in a war zone and political appointees who are confirmed by the Senate will not be furloughed. Nonappropriated fund employees and local national employees will not be affected.
Limited exceptions will be made for the purposes of safety of life and health, Wright said, such as firefighters and police. And if a military hospital has only one neonatal nurse, for example, that person could be exempted, she added.
While military personnel accounts are exempt from sequestration, there will be second- and third-order effects, Wright said. For example, hours at exchanges and commissaries could be affected, and family programs could be reduced or cut. It is unclear at this point how DOD Education Activity schools will be affected.
The spending cuts will affect military health care, as some 40 percent of the personnel working in the system are civilians. Elective surgeries could be delayed or eliminated, and costs cannot be shifted to the TRICARE military health plan, because that program also will be hit by cuts.
Affected employees would be furloughed for 22 discontinuous days -- 176 hours -- between implementation and the end of fiscal 2013, with no more than 16 furlough hours per pay period.
Fiscal 2013 is just the beginning of a decade of budgetary problems, Hale said.
"The Budget Control Act actually requires that the caps on discretionary funding beyond fiscal '13 be lowered for defense by $50 billion to $55 billion a year," he said. "If those come to pass, then we will have to look at a new defense strategy. That would be the first thing that we'd do."
The new strategy would accept more risk and also be based on having a smaller military.
For now, officials "devoutly would wish for some budget stability right now," Hale said. "And I think it would benefit the department and the nation."
Robert F. Hale
Jessica L. Wright
Office of Personnel Management Frequently Asked Questions on Furloughs
Special Report: Sequestration