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Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

Battaglia Fields Questions on ‘Troop Talk’ Program

16 hours 42 min ago

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answered questions from the total force on the premiere of the Pentagon Channel’s “Troop Talk” program today, covering topics from women’s roles in combat to hiring veterans.

Battaglia answered questions submitted through social media outlets and from studio audience members.

One of the top queries from the audience concerned the extent of women’s roles in combat. Battaglia noted that full implementation of women into combat ranks is scheduled to take place in 2016.

“Everything is tracking fine,” he said of the services allotting billets for women in frontline positions. “Women are part of the team -- one team, one fight.”

In the arena of sexual assault, the sergeant major said the Defense Department is making strides toward eliminating the crime from its ranks.

“Sexual assault is a continuing challenge in the military,” Battaglia said. “We’ve made vast, significant efforts. We’ve equipped commanders with more investigation techniques to build evidence to help prosecute the perpetrators. We have a robust victim’s assistance program.”

Affording dignity and respect to sexual assault victims is important when cases are being investigated, he said, and officials are continuing to work the issue.

“We’re not going to give up,” he said.

Battaglia also emphasized the importance of hiring veterans, noting that “an appetite” exists among small to large corporations to hire former service members.

“Veterans are commonly known for their talents, skills and work ethic, whether they served four years or four decades,” he said. “They are an investment. [The military] teaches them to fight, and then how to re-enter society to do many great things. Our responsibility as military leaders is to mold and develop them to do our nation’s [work], and then prepare America’s sons and daughters to go back into society.”

Battaglia also discussed a book titled, “The NCO and Petty Officer: The Backbone of The Armed Forces,” which he published with the help of a group of noncommissioned officers. “It’s an easy read,” he said, adding that it is free, and available.

NCOs want to continue to be leaders, he noted, so sharing the book is important. Battaglia said he wants young enlisted service members to read the book to realize they can aspire to become NCOs.

He added that he’d like to see officer corps members read it as well, because it may provide ideas on how they can empower their NCOs. It’s also important for parents of service members to read it, Battaglia said.

“A civilian can read it,” he added. “It’s not filled with military jargon.”

“Troop Talk” host Scott Howe asked Battaglia what “We will never forget” means to him.

“That’s a very emotional topic [to all service members],” Battaglia said. The number of casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might be small when compared with World War I and World War II, but the wars of the last 13 years have been “up close and personal,” he said.

Stationed here in the nation’s capital, Battaglia said, he’s reminded daily to “never forget” when he drives every day past Arlington National Cemetery.

“When I jog by the Korean and World War II memorials, I drop a knee and say a prayer,” he said. “The price of freedom is not free.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)

President Honors Defense Department Scientists

16 hours 42 min ago

Twenty scientists and engineers funded by the Defense Department were part of a group honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on April 14.

A total of 102 scientists and engineers received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers, according to a White House news release.

The group received their awards in a ceremony at the Agriculture Department before heading to the White House, where Obama thanked them for their achievements.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” Obama said when the recipients were announced in December. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

Award recipients are employed or funded by several departments or agencies in addition to the Defense Department, including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and the intelligence community.

The agencies join together annually to nominate scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring the nation’s dominance in science and engineering fields.

“Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach,” the White House release said.

The awards were established by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.

The Defense Department recipients are:

-- Dr. Jennifer A. Dionne, Stanford University/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for pioneering contributions to the control of light-matter interactions on deeply sub wavelength scales, innovative work on nanoscale physical, chemical, and biological phenomena, and enthusiastic leadership and service;

-- Dr. Mohamed L. El-Naggar, University of Southern California/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for experimental and theoretical contributions in the field of biophysics, and for mentoring graduate and undergraduate students through highly interdisciplinary research and education activities linking the physical and biological sciences;

-- Dr. Gregory D. Fuchs, Cornell University/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for fundamental contributions in electronics and nanotechnology that will have applications throughout the Defense Department, and for dedication to mentoring graduate and undergraduate students;

-- Dr. Kristen L. Grauman, University of Texas at Austin/Office of Naval Research, for fundamental contributions to computer vision and machine learning, leadership in the research community, and dedication to mentoring students in the sciences;

-- Dr. Mona Jarrahi, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor/Office of Naval Research, for innovative work in the development of plasmonics for nanoelectronic and nanophotonic devices with terahertz applications, leadership in the area of terahertz technology, and dedication to outreach and mentoring activities;

-- Lane W. Martin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/Army Research Office, for outstanding research accomplishments relating to the synthesis and study of multifunctional materials and for dedication and commitment to mentoring students in the physical sciences;

-- Dr. Yael Niv, Princeton University/Army Research Office, for outstanding research achievements in the field of computational neuroscience, volunteer work with education and charity nonprofit groups, and dedication to mentoring students at all levels;

-- Dr. Derek A. Paley, University of Maryland/Office of Naval Research, for outstanding research achievements that apply methods from engineering and biology to the study of collective behavior in robotic and natural systems, and for dedication to teaching and mentoring students;

-- Dr. Greg A. Pitz, Air Force Research Laboratory, for fundamental contributions to alkali atomic spectroscopy; the development of hybrid lasers and modeling of innovative new designs that will have applications through the Defense Department, and for outreach and mentoring of high school, undergraduate and graduate students;

-- Dr. Ronald Polcawich, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, for outstanding research accomplishments and leadership in piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems, contributions to the protection of U.S. soldiers, and dedication to mentoring students in the sciences;

-- Dr. Rodney D. Priestley, Princeton University/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for fundamental contributions to understanding the molecular origins of confinement effects on the stability and properties of glassy state polymers, and for a commitment to inspiring and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers;

-- Dr. Jeremy T. Robinson, Naval Research Laboratory, for outstanding research accomplishments in the development of graphene-based materials, dedication to community service, and mentoring work with students;

-- Dr. Onome Scott-Emuakpor, Air Force Research Laboratory, for exceptional contributions to the Air Force Research Laboratory in developing a new understanding of fatigue and fracture mechanisms in turbine engine components and for mentoring support of graduate and undergraduate students.

-- Dr. Ramon van Handel, Princeton University/Army Research Office, for outstanding research accomplishments in stochastic filtering and quantum filtering that will have significant impact on Defense Department operations and for dedication to teaching and mentoring students from underrepresented groups;

-- Dr. David M. Weld, University of California at Santa Barbara/Army Research Office, for outstanding research achievements in ultracold atomic physics that will have applications throughout the Defense Department and for mentoring activities with underprivileged students; and

-- Dr. Yongjie (Jessica) Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University/Office of Naval Research, for pioneering research in high-fidelity geometric modeling, computational biomedicine, material science and engineering and for dedication to mentoring students in emerging interdisciplinary research areas.

Recipients from the defense intelligence community are:

-- Dr. Joeanna Arthur, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, for expertise and thought leadership in applying advances in cognitive neuroscience to improving human performance, providing analysts and decision-makers with quantitative data that can be used to systematically improve actionable intelligence;

-- Dr. Lucy Cohan, Naval Research Office at the time of nomination, for award-winning, world-class research into the integrated design and modeling of the next generation of space telescopes employing lightweight, active mirror technologies;

-- Justin Jacobs, National Security Agency, for improving geo-location algorithms by reducing errors in base ellipsoids used to model the Earth's curved surface and for applying rigorous statistical analysis to the development of test plans and test results to document the success or failure of research programs; and

-- Dr. Charles Tahan, National Security Agency, for innovative contributions to quantum device and condensed matter physics, including silicon quantum computing, many-body photonics and quantum phonodynamics, and for community service including the creation and management of quantum research programs, leadership in the scientific community and public outreach.

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @rouloafps)

Battaglia Reflects on Total Force, Military Appreciation

16 hours 42 min ago

As he concludes his week-long visit here, gratitude has emerged as the lingering theme, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia’s schedule included engagements with multiple demographics ranging from adolescents to people in long-term care to learn more about their experiences in and with the military.

“Everywhere we stopped, there was always someone, regardless of whether they served in the past or not, who when they see you in uniform, exhausted all efforts to say, ‘Thank you for your service,’” the sergeant major said.

From Junior ROTC high school students to commissioned and noncommissioned officers, wounded warriors, volunteers, family members and senior retirees at a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, Battaglia reflected on how each group is an integral part of the total force.

“It’s the intent and scope of each one of my stops that I engage with the base or post, the community and the VA,” Battaglia said, “because those are three legs to the stool that, if missing a leg, can become very unstable.”

After interacting with high school Junior ROTC youth at Naval Air Station Mayport here, Battaglia visited the Jacksonville Military Entrance Processing Station. The sergeant major recounted that he got to engage not only with youth who were about to commit to the military, but also with people about the same age who were about to begin their careers.

“Administering the ceremonial oath and getting to meet with the MEPS staff was very educational,” Battaglia said. “While it was monumental for some of them to have me visit, it was even more monumental for me to be welcomed into their facility.”

This summer, Battaglia said, he will meet with Gold Star families who have lost a loved one to combat. “They’ll never be forgotten, and they’re part of the total force, too,” he said. The meetings, he added, are all part of the public-private partnership that bridges the gap between the military members and citizens and allows him to gauge the relationships among many entities.

“The base has to be open to its community, the community has to be open to its base, and the VA is a conduit as well,” Battaglia said. “I’m happy to report the relationships are strong in Jacksonville, and it’s really a model for the United States to work after.”

He said visits such as this enable him to make comparisons to other cities. “Should I see some best practices, I’m happy to share that with other communities to say that it’s not ‘the’ way, but perhaps ‘a’ way. … And I think our country can benefit from it,” Battaglia said.

The sergeant major said he will return here in early June.

“The city of Jacksonville appears to love its military men and women,” Battaglia said. “I got that by sitting with the mayor … all the way to talking with the employee on kitchen duty at the veterans homeless shelter.”

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)

Enlisted Leader Visits Mayor, Transitional Housing, Clinic

16 hours 42 min ago

The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited city hall, a veterans center and a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic here yesterday to learn about how veterans, citizens and elected officials take care of current and former military members.

At city hall, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia met with Mayor Alvin Brown and his staff to discuss veteran matters, with a particular focus on the homeless and disabled population.

“Through grants and partnerships, our team has been able to provide emergency financial assistance to veterans for rent, utilities, food and clothing,” said Harrison Conyers, the city’s veterans and community outreach manager. “We help people who need immediate assistance and who we can’t just refer out –- we’ve got to take care of ourselves.”

Conyers explained that his department develops monthly career exercises, ongoing resume and state workforce board assistance, free tax preparation and more.

“We’ve been able to expand what we’re doing without impacting the taxpayers,” he said. “In a short time, we’ve pretty much doubled the services we can provide to veterans.”

With Jacksonville’s densely populated veteran community, the need for assistance never wanes, said Victor Guillory, director of military affairs and veterans department in the mayor’s office.

“Through the generosity of grants and the local communities, we have funds to help veterans stay in their homes,” he said.

But the mayor’s office, Guillory noted, also works closely with the Five Star Veterans Center, a community resource and transitional center for veterans who need additional help maintaining a homestead. The facility holds 22 residents who are in various stages of phased rehabilitation customized for their situations.

The residents get a safe place to sleep, a continental breakfast, soup and a sandwich for lunch and a hot meal for dinner, said retired Marine Corps Col. Len Loving, the center’s chief executive officer.

The first phase involves an agreement to remain on the premises, abide by the rules and garner the necessary resume and computer training, Loving said. From there, the center’s staff works with local VA officials to assess residents’ physical and psychological issues before connecting them to a caseworker for further individual assistance, he said. “The resident will need to develop short- and long-term goals and commit to part-time school and work or full-time work,” he added.

The center’s staff and volunteers work with employers to identify issues, and they help the residents correct them to establish a steady, reliable work ethic.

Fourth phase residents have about three months to set up a bank or credit union account and develop an exit plan for independent living.

“We hope they’ll save enough to have about two months of expenses when they walk out of here,” Loving said. “We help them with a care package of clothing and furniture, and even tap into VA programs so they can handle their own expenses.”

Loving said that in his experience with thousands of veterans, there is typically a three-to-four-year delay after service before veterans who need help truly realize that they do. And the abrupt shift from a high-intensity environment to one of day-to-day life maintenance activities can be harrowing for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, he added.

If compounded with financial problems stemming from divorce, alimony or child support issues, the perfect storm and downward spiral intensifies, he said.

“If a military member gets a divorce while on active duty, a judge typically bases child support payments on their salary at that time, which becomes significantly reduced once they’re no longer in service,” Loving noted. And in Florida, he added, nonpayment of child support results in a driver’s license suspension.

Loving said he has received offers from lawyers to help veterans free of charge to manage child support payments and ask judges to grant restricted licenses for veterans to commute to work or school.

One resident said he confided in Battaglia to share his experiences and challenges with him during the visit.

“The sergeant major is a damn good Marine,” the resident said. “He’s a lot more knowledgeable and more open to listen to us than any other officer or enlisted person I’ve ever met.”

But as a growing number of veterans require ongoing medical and mental health care, the need for quality facilities to take care of them increases as well. The VA outpatient clinic here is “more than a doctor’s office, but short of a hospital,” said Dr. R. Daniel Morgann, chief medical officer. But the staff is trained to deal with emergencies, he added.

This clinic has about 37,000 patients in its care, and the staff sees 1,200 to 1,500 patients daily. Morgann said the VA’s unique mission there called for specialized design and planning.

“We wanted to make sure there was intimacy, but there was also a lot of space,” Morgann said. “We didn’t want anyone to feel corralled.”

The clinic, he explained, provides a broad range of general and specialized medical, dental, surgical, psychiatric, nursing and ancillary services and serves acute and chronically ill eligible veterans, without them having to visit more remote VA facilities.

“Our veterans require care that runs the gamut from minor health care needs to urgent care,” the doctor said, but he noted the clinic can stabilize veterans with physical or mental issues before transferring them to either local facilities or to the Gainesville or Lake City VA Medical Centers.

The doctor said he learned early on the disparity between business and care when it came to medicine.

“The VA was a way for me to deliver care and focus on the patients, not revenue,” he said. “The idea is to reduce costs through innovation, but not at the expense of quality, accessibility and personalized interaction.”

And while telemedicine -- remote, computerized patient care -- is a burgeoning technology that can expedite and facilitate some medical needs and therapies, Morgann said, it shouldn’t completely replace in-person engagement and care with veterans.

“We can leverage this technology, but we have to do it where and when it is smart,” he said.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)

General Encourages Social Courage to Combat Sexual Assault

16 hours 42 min ago

With Sexual Assault Awareness Month underway, the Defense Department Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office director encouraged “social courage” and a recognition of the cues and behaviors that lead to the under-reported crime to help eradicate it.

“Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of all ranks know what right looks like, because it’s instilled early in their careers,” said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow. “When they see something that isn’t right, social courage is having the moral courage step up to address it on the spot or tell somebody else of equal or higher rank so that something is done about it.”

Snow said over the last decade, DOD leaders have gained a greater understanding of the nature and complexity of the problem. “We knew this was an under-reported crime in the military and recognized that there was no ‘silver bullet’ to addressing sexual assault,” he said. “It would take a multidisciplinary approach.”

Snow explained a number of recent policy changes made to the SAPRO program, particularly the need for a confidential reporting system, professionalized advocates, mandatory investigation of sexual assaults and transparency from the time of reporting through disposition.

But perhaps the last two years, Snow noted, have shown the most fundamental evolution in victim support.

“We’ve taken steps to ensure that all of our sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates are credentialed, [and] we’ve fielded specially trained investigators and prosecutors,” he said. “There’s now a certification program to ensure that we are identifying and training the individuals who have a very important role in our sexual assault response.”

The general also reported that the DOD has provided critical support to victims through enhanced legal advocacy. “We’ve put a support system in place that ensures victims have access to dedicated legal representation from the time they report, through the disposition of their case,” he said. “Counsel is there for the victim to navigate the system and some that have worked in this field for a number of years categorize this as a game-changer.”

Officials continue to gain greater awareness of factors and behaviors that may contribute to an incident of sexual assault occurring. For instance, sexual assault is more likely to occur in environments where crude and offensive behavior, unwanted sexual attention, coercion, and sexual harassment are tolerated, condoned or ignored. Though leaders have learned much about sexual harassment and assault, Snow added, there is still work to be done to promote a climate of dignity, respect, team commitment and values.

“The vast majority of our force is doing the right thing,” Snow said. “We want to make sure that leaders are emphasizing the right things so that individuals are sensitive to the behaviors, actions and attitudes of individuals so if they see something that is not right, they can take action to intervene.

“We are a leader-centric organization,” he continued, “so I think our ability to leverage leaders to get after this is an advantage.”

Leaders, he said, have balanced options to eliminate the chance of victims coming in further contact with their alleged offender by establishing a policy for expedited transfers. “It gives commanders the ability to either transfer the victim or the alleged offender,” he said.

Since Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel brought in key leaders from across the enterprise to discuss efforts to combat sexual assault, Snow said, the secretary has approved a number of initiatives based on promising practices.

“Once we’ve taken steps to implement them, he wants to make sure we’re holding ourselves accountable and that each service is in compliance with a particular initiative,” the general added. “Civilian and military leaders are committed to doing whatever is necessary to get after this problem.”

Snow urged victims of sexual assault to see a sexual assault response coordinator or a victim advocate, who will treat them with confidentiality and link them to necessary medical and legal services to make an informed decision on whether they want to file a restricted or an unrestricted report.

He noted that referrals to military treatment facilities are immediate, as all sexual assaults are treated as medical emergencies.

“We’re there for survivors,” the general said. “All they’ve got to do is reach out.”

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)

President Sends Condolences, Pledges Aid for Ferry Sinking

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have expressed condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s ferry sinking off the coast of South Korea.

In a White House statement, the president also said he’s directed the U.S. military “to provide any and all assistance requested by our Korean partners in the days ahead.”

The text of the president’s and first lady’s statement follows:

“On behalf of all the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the tragic ferry sinking off the coast of the Republic of Korea. The bonds of friendship between the American and Korean people are strong and enduring, and our hearts ache to see our Korean friends going through such a terrible loss, especially the loss of so many young students.

“South Korea is one of our closest allies, and American Navy personnel and U.S. Marines are already on the scene assisting with the search and rescue efforts. I’ve directed our military to provide any and all assistance requested by our Korean partners in the days ahead.

“As I will underscore on my visit to Seoul next week, America’s commitment to our ally South Korea is unwavering—in good times and in bad. As the Korean people deal with this heartbreaking tragedy, they will have the unending support and friendship of the United States.”

U.S., Poland Defense Leaders Find New Areas for Cooperation

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

Amid deep concerns about the situation in Ukraine, the defense leaders of the United States and Poland met at the Pentagon today and identified new areas in which their militaries can work together, including special operations, air force cooperation, and more exercises and training.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak held discussions that Hagel described as being “focused on reinforcing our solidarity and our partnership for the future of the Polish-U.S. defense relationship, especially in light of the situation in Ukraine and its impact on European security.”

During a joint news conference after their meeting, Hagel told reporters this a critical time for the NATO alliance and the Polish-U.S. bilateral relationship, adding that it is also an opportunity to capitalize on the strong relationship the United States and Poland have built together over 25 years.

“The solidarity and partnership roadmap we discussed today identified new areas where we can work together, including special operations forces, air force cooperation, and additional exercises and training,” the secretary said.

“It will also look at how we can further build onto our joint aviation detachment and air missile defense collaboration.”

In recent weeks, the United States has augmented Poland’s aviation detachment with 12 F-16 aircraft and 200 support personnel from Aviano Air Base in Italy, the secretary said, noting that the department is committed to maintaining the augmented presence through the end of 2014.

“This is a clear demonstration of America's bilateral commitment to Poland and to our other NATO allies in the region. The United States is also encouraging other NATO allies to contribute to the detachment,” Hagel said.

“Minister Siemoniak and I agreed,” the secretary added, “that it would be useful to open up the aviation detachment so that other nations in the region can participate.”

One example is Romania, Hagel said, the latest NATO member to acquire F-16s. Such a regionalized approach will help strengthen Poland and its neighbors, he added.

On air and missile defense, Hagel noted that as Poland explores options for its own new capabilities, the Defense Department should take advantage of the chance to work with Poland more closely, leveraging cutting-edge technology and enhancing NATO capability to benefit the entire transatlantic alliance.

“As Poland continues to invest in defense and military modernization,” he added, “the United States will increasingly look to Poland as a leader in the region and in NATO.”

The relationship between the U.S. and Poland and their shared commitment to NATO are critical to stability in Europe, the secretary said, adding that recent events underscore that the alliance and commitments to the alliance are as important as ever.

“As you all know,” Hagel said, “Secretary [of State John F.] Kerry is meeting now in Geneva with his counterparts from Russia, Ukraine and the [European Union]. We fully support these efforts to find a political solution and remain deeply concerned about Russia's ongoing destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine. De-escalation has been our focus and Russia must take steps to make that happen.”

The United States continues to stand with Ukraine, he added, noting that earlier this morning he called Ukraine Acting Defense Minister Mykhaylo Koval to tell him that President Obama has approved more nonlethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies.

“These supplies include medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukraine's armed forces,” Hagel said, “as well as shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine's state border guard service. The United States will continue to review additional support that we can provide to Ukraine.”

During today’s meeting, the secretary said, he and Siemoniak agreed that Russia's aggression has renewed their resolve to strengthen the NATO alliance.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen yesterday announced a series of measures the alliance would undertake to demonstrate this resolve.

The measures, developed by Supreme Allied Commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the secretary added, include more air policing sorties over the Baltics, more allied ships in the Baltic and in the eastern Mediterranean seas, and military staff deployments to enhance NATO's readiness training and exercises.

“NATO is also updating its defense plans and the United States has offered additional planners to help with that effort, Hagel said. “We're also assessing what additional contributions we can offer to reinforce our allies in central and eastern Europe.”

The measures are not meant to provoke or threaten Russia, he added, but to demonstrate NATO's continued dedication to collective defense.

“Article V [of the North Atlantic Treaty] is clear that an attack against any one NATO ally will be considered an attack against all members of NATO. The United States is fully committed to meeting its Article V responsibilities,” Hagel said.

Today’s meeting was the second between Hagel and Siemoniak this year.

Their first was in January in Poland when Hagel and Siemoniak visited the joint aviation detachment at Powidz Air Base where American and Polish airmen train and work side by side.

President Barack Obama and Polish President Bronisław Komorowski agreed in 2010 to strengthen the U.S.-Polish security partnership through increased cooperation between both nations’ air forces.

The first full-time stationing of U.S. troops in Poland was established in 2012 with an aviation detachment at Lask Air Base, about 90 minutes from Powidz.

In addition to strengthening cooperation, the aviation detachment allows Poland to host other allied air force elements and serve as a regional hub for air training and multinational exercises.


(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)

9/11 Hearing Adjourns Amid Possible Conflict of Interest

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

This week’s preliminary hearing for five suspects in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks ended today with the court considering an inquiry into whether a member of the defense’s legal team was contacted by the FBI.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, said it appears an FBI agent contacted a member of the defense team that represents Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. He added that an independent counsel might be appointed to Mohammed’s team, if the report bears out, and ordered the defense and prosecution to continue looking into whether any government agencies contacted former or existing legal team members.

The court could reconvene the preliminary hearing in June, officials said today.

The military commission has been underway amid tight security at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where the defendants are being detained as enemy combatants. Relatives of some of those killed in the attacks traveled to Cuba to attend the proceedings.

Chief prosecutor Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins told reporters “We are determined to move forward under the supervision of the judge. When each of us was assigned to this important mission, we were prepared for a marathon. We remain so,” and added that he is committed to staying as long as necessary to see the case through.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)

Acquisition Community Works to Improve Tradecraft

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its “tradecraft,” Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said yesterday.

McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Logistics Forum.

Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times, she said, but the added pressures of budget constraints make this even more crucial to the nation.

“Every facet of our business practice ties together,” she told the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Logistics Forum.

The attention cannot be on one segment of operation in the acquisition process, but the whole gamut, the assistant secretary said.

The acquisition field now builds on the process of continuous improvement put forth in the Better Buying Power program. McFarland expects a Better Buying Power 3.0 to launch soon.
“The intent is basically to have people think about costs when they are applying logic to design, manufacturing, sustainment -- whatever facet of acquisition there is.”
“We will reward people who reduce costs with more profit,” she said. “We’re incentivizing to reduce costs. We want innovation that costs less.

“Our challenge is communicating that intent articulately and over the time of many years at war and conducting business that had to be done rapidly; we didn’t necessarily spend enough time on the tradecraft of skillfully crafting a good deal,” she continued. “And that’s where we are trying to make changes.”

The acquisition community is continuing down this path because it is working. Even with budget uncertainties, there have been demonstrable savings, McFarland said. Following the tenets of the Better Buying Power program, having conversations with industry partners and making training available to acquisition workers “has demonstrated improvements in our costs even as we downsize,” she said. “This shows there is tradecraft we can measure.”

Results from the changes don’t happen overnight, she said. In the military, when a service introduces or changes a military job the “turn” is about four years,” she said. Using this as a rough measure, the acquisition workforce is seeing change and the “turn” is starting to bear fruit. She expects this to speed up in the future.

Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneAFPS)

ESGR Annouces 30 Employer Support Award Finalists

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense office, has selected 30 employers as finalists for the 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The award is the DOD’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

These 30 employers listed below were selected from 2,864 nominations submitted by military members.

“These 30 employers have gone above and beyond to provide our military men and women as well as their families the absolute best support possible,” said ESGR Executive Director Ronald G. Young. “An employer's support is just as critical as a military member’s family support and we are proud to have a way to recognize these outstanding employers through this program.”

The 30 finalists include:

-- Arizona Public Service, Phoenix, Army Reserve;

-- Arvest Central Mortgage Co., Little Rock, Ark., Air National Guard;

-- AT&T, Dallas, Coast Guard Reserve;

-- Baker Hughes Inc., Hobbs, N.M., Army National Guard;

-- Capital One, McLean, Va., Army National Guard;

-- Cardinal Health, Dublin, Ohio, Navy Reserve;

-- Centerline Mechanical, Cave Creek, Ariz., Air National Guard;

-- CH2M-WG Idaho, Idaho Falls, Idaho, Navy Reserve;

-- Charles Crafts, Attorney at Law, Boise, Idaho, Navy Reserve;

-- City of Shawnee, Kansas, Shawnee, Kan., Army Reserve;

-- Delaware Motor Sales, Wilmington, Del., Army National Guard;

-- DEMACO, West Melbourne, Fla., Marine Corps Reserve;

-- General Mills Inc., Golden Valley, Minn., Army National Guard;

-- Intellicorp Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., Army Reserve;

-- J.G. Management Systems Inc., Grand Junction, Colo., Air Force Reserve;

-- Judiciary of Guam, Hagatna, Guam, Navy Reserve;

-- LA Fire Department, Los Angeles, Navy Reserve;

-- Miramar Police Department, Miramar, Fla., Navy Reserve;

-- New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, N.H., Army National Guard;

-- North East Multi-Regional Training, Aurora, Ill., Army Reserve;

-- PNC Bank, Pittsburgh, Army National Guard;

-- PPD Inc., Morrisville, N.C., Army Reserve;

-- Shelby County Public Schools, Shelbyville, Ky., Air National Guard;

-- Snofner Vision Center, Nashville, Tenn., Air Force Reserve;

-- St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., Army Reserve;

-- Triumph Pharmaceuticals, St. Louis, Army National Guard;

-- UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, N.C., Navy Reserve;

-- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Denver Regional Office, Lakewood, Colo., Air National Guard;

-- Washoe County School District, Reno, Nev., Air National Guard, and

-- Zions Bank, Salt Lake City, Army National Guard.

Senior DOD officials, business leaders and prior awardees will now select up to 15 Freedom Award recipients to be honored at the 19th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony here in September.

U.S., South Korea Discuss Ways to Deter North’s Provocations

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

The United States and South Korea have agreed to bolster efforts to deter North Korean provocations that undermine regional stability, according to a statement released after two days of talks between U.S. and South Korean defense officials in Washington.

The joint statement, issued by the Defense Department, said “The two sides reaffirmed the shared view that recent North Korean provocations, including recent missile launches, artillery fire in the Yellow Sea, the infiltration of small unmanned aerial vehicles, and the looming threat of a fourth nuclear test undermine stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region. The two sides also addressed ways to strengthen coordinated actions and the importance of continued close collaboration within the alliance to enable better deterrence of and response to North Korean provocations.

“The two sides discussed ways to strengthen the combined defense posture to defend the Republic of Korea and to deter North Korean aggression by enhancing combined Alliance capabilities, and continuing combined exercises. The ROK and U.S. also discussed the ROK proposed conditions-based approach to wartime OPCON transition. The ROK and the U.S. will continue cooperating to develop the future command structure, combined operational plans, ROK critical military capabilities, and U.S. bridging and enduring capabilities. The ROK and U.S. welcome the ROK National Assembly's ratification of a new special measures agreement (SMA) providing for ROK cost-sharing support to offset costs associated with stationing U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. The 2014-2018 agreement will provide for continued ROK support in logistics, labor, and construction and will help ensure that we have the resources necessary for the combined defense of the Korean Peninsula. The two sides also addressed various areas of alliance cooperation, including regional and global cooperation, and efforts to counter weapons of mass destruction and interdiction, command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence interoperability, and cyber and space cooperation.

“The U.S. reaffirmed the continued U.S. commitment to provide and strengthen extended deterrence for the ROK using the full range of military capabilities, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella, conventional strike, and missile defense capabilities. The two countries discussed implementation of the tailored deterrence strategy to include combined exercises to ensure that deterrence and extended deterrence remains credible, capable, and enduring. Both sides also discussed efforts to counter North Korean missile threats, including the continued combined development of comprehensive counter-missile capabilities to detect, defend against, disrupt, and destroy North Korean missile threats, in particular strengthened missile defense interoperability, including the ROK "Kill Chain" and Korean air and missile defense systems.

“Both sides affirmed that discussions during the 5th KIDD session contributed substantively to strengthening the ROK-U.S. alliance and further enhanced the bilateral defense relationship into a comprehensive strategic alliance. The ROK and U.S. expect to hold the 6th KIDD in Seoul in July 2014.”

POV Shipping Program Undergoes Changes

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

The Department of Defense’s privately owned vehicle shipping program will undergo several changes starting May 1.

Several vehicle processing centers -- where privately owned vehicles are dropped off and picked up -- will relocate.

With the exception of eight cities that will close their vehicle processing locations, many others will remain in the same city, but provide services at a different location and street address. Others, primarily overseas, will continue to operate at the same address and location, simply under new management.

In addition, a new website -- -- has been established for service members to request and track their POV shipments.

And, a new contractor will manage daily vehicle processing at vehicle processing centers worldwide.

International Auto Logistics will assume the contract from American Auto Logistics to manage the daily activities associated with the GPOV contract for processing service member’s vehicles worldwide.

“Our goal is for a seamless transition between providers, and we are engaged in daily meetings with International Auto Logistics to ensure as smooth a transition as possible,” said Navy Capt. Aaron Stanley, director of the personal property directorate for the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

“Likewise, we don't foresee the need for any major changes in the process used to ship/store privately owned vehicles,” Stanley added.

Eight of the current 46 VPCs will permanently close May 1 in both U.S. and overseas locations.

VPCs slated for closure in the U.S. are located in New Orleans, Edison, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; and Oakland, Calif.

Overseas vehicle processing centers that are now closed, or are slated for closure include Mannheim, Germany (closed); RAF Croughton, England; RAF Menwith Hill, England; and Seville, Spain.

“It is important to note that American Auto Logistics will still be on hand at these eight VPC locations until Aug. 1 to service already processed vehicles until each VPC becomes empty,” said Craig McKinley, supervisory transportation management specialist for the personal property directorate. “These eight VPCs on the closure list will not accept new vehicles for processing after April 30.”

Additionally, AAL’s website,, will remain active until all vehicles in their possession have been delivered.

For more information, service members are asked to either contact their transportation office or personal property office, or starting May 1, customers desiring to ship their privately owned vehicle should call to make an appointment at a vehicle processing center.

For U.S. domestic appointments: 1-855-389-9499
For appointments in Germany: 0800-227-7447
For any other locations: 00800-227-7447

Each year, DOD ships about 68,000 privately owned vehicles about 8,500 of them requiring storage for some length of time.

The following addresses will be effective May 1 for stateside International Auto Logistics vehicle processing centers:

-- Atlanta: 3025 Sylvian Road, Atlanta, GA 30354;

-- Baltimore: 17079 Midway Road, Odenton, MD 21113;

-- Charleston, S.C.: 3601 N. Meeting St., North Charleston, SC 29405;

-- Dallas: 957 Heinz Way, Grand Prairie, TX 75051;

-- Los Angeles: 14611 S. Broadway St, Gardena, CA 90248;

-- Norfolk, Va.: 1215 Executive Blvd, Chesapeake, VA 23320;

-- Seattle, Wash.: 840 Industry Way, North Algona, WA 98001;

-- St. Louis: 13918 St. Charles Rock Rd, Bridgeton, MO 63044, and

-- San Diego: 11433 Woodside Ave, Santee, CA 92071.

The following new overseas vehicle processing center addresses for receiving vehicles will be effective May 1:

-- Anchorage, Alaska: 300 LaTouche Street, Anchorage, AK 99501;

-- Fairbanks, Alaska: 5250 Airport Industrial Road, Fairbanks, AK 99709;

-- Bahrain: Al Musaskar 940, East Riffa Industrial Area, Bahrain;

-- Brandon, UK: Field Road, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7AL, UK;

-- Aviano, Italy: Via dei Longobardi 49, 33080, San Quirino PN;

-- San Juan, Puerto Rico: 45 Calle 1 Parque Indust., San Miguel, San Juan, PR 00936;

-- Rota, Spain: Calle Dr. Pariente, 11500 El Puerto de Santa Maria, (Cadiz) Spain;

-- Incirlik, Turkey: Yenimahalle 33 Sokak No. 31 TR-01340 Incirlik, Turkey, and

-- Izmir, Turkey: Doganlar Mah. 1417 Sokak TR-35040 Bornova,Izmir, Turkey.

The following overseas VPCs will be vacated by American Auto Logistics April 30, and then closed for all but emergency drop-offs with International Auto Logistics May 1-2. The facilities will reopen May 5 for all vehicles.

To aid in the transition, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command urges customers to reduce traffic and provide the additional time needed for contractors to transition responsibilities:

-- Chievres, Belgium: Chievres Air Base, Bldg. 46, Belgium 7950;

-- Schinnen, Netherlands: 254th BSB Shinnen, Borgerweb 10, Bldg 27 RM 102, 6365 CW Schinnen;

-- Baumholder, Germany: Gebaeude 8716, Raum 1-3 Smith Barracks AM Bahnof/Building 8716 55774 Baumholder, Germany;

-- Boeblingen, Germany: Panzer Kaserne Bldg. 2931 71032 Boeblingen, Germany;

-- Grafenwoehr, Germany: U.S. Grafenwoehr Base, 322 Shiloh Avenue, 92655 Grafenwoehr, Germany;

-- Kaiserslautern, Germany: Kapaun Air Station Bldg. 2806 67661 Kaiserslautern, Germany;

-- Schweinfurt, Germany: Conn Barracks Custer St., Bldg. 35 97421 Schweinfurt, Germany;

-- Spangdahlem, Germany: Spangdahlem Air Base Bldg. 222, 54529 Spangdahlem, Germany;

-- Wiesbaden, Germany: Mainz Kastel Housing Area Bldg. Wiesbadener Str. 78, 55252 Mainz Kastel, Germany;

-- Livorno, Italy: Leghorn Army Depot, Gate 27 Bldg. 5138 Depot Via Aurelia Tombolo Pisa, 56128 Livorno, Italy;

-- Naples, Italy: Naval Support Activity Bldg. 2081, Contrada Boscariello 81030, Gricignano di Aversa (CE), Naples, Italy;

-- Sigonella, Italy: Basee Navale USA/NAS II Strada Statale 417, Catania-Gela 95030 Piano d'Arci/Sigonella (CT);

-- Vicenza, Italy: Via Strada Della Pelose, Bldg. 928 Entrance 8, Torri Di Quartesolo, 36040 Vicenza, Italy;

-- Guam: COMNAVMAR Naval Base Building 3179, Santa Rita, Guam 96915;

-- Seoul, South Korea: Camp Kim, Building C1244-68 US Army Garrison Yongsan, Korea, APO, AP 96205-5333;

-- Taegu, South Korea: 20th Support Group Bldg. 1415, Camp Henry, Korea APO, AP 96218-0562, and

-- Honolulu: 1601 Sand Island Parkway, Honolulu, HI 96819.

Battaglia to Appear on Pentagon Channel

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will appear on “Troop Talk,” on the Pentagon Channel, April 18 at 9:00 EDT 

The show is a town hall recorded April 8 and hosted by Battaglia.

The sergeant major fielded questions from troops, civilian employees and their families at the event. Questions were also submitted via email.

Topics covered a range of issues, from troop reductions, military-to-civilian transitions, family issues, retirement, pay and compensation, and the future of the armed forces. Battaglia also answered questions on sexual assault and ethics.

Secretary Discusses Issues With UAE Crown Prince

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed regional and defense cooperation issues in a phone call with United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement issued yesterday.

In a statement summarizing the call, Kirby said Hagel “reiterated the steadfast U.S. commitment to its strategic partnership with the UAE and affirmed the importance of maintaining strong bilateral defense cooperation to ensure a stable and secure Middle East, a common objective of both countries.”

Hagel also noted that new forms of multilateral cooperation were required to address the evolving challenges of the Middle East, Kirby said, and the secretary lauded UAE's efforts to work with the United States and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to expand regional collaboration.

The conversation ended with a discussion on regional issues, including Syria, Egypt, and Libya, Kirby said.

Hagel Welcomes New ROK Defense Cost-sharing Agreement

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued the following statement yesterday on the South Korean government’s ratification of a new special measures agreement that provides South Korean support to offset/share costs for the combined defense of the Korean Peninsula.

"I welcome the Republic of Korea (ROK) National Assembly's ratification of a new special measures agreement (SMA) providing for ROK support to offset costs associated with stationing U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. The 2014-2018 cost-sharing agreement will provide for continued ROK support in logistics, labor, and construction and will help ensure that we have the resources necessary for the combined defense of the Korean Peninsula. Since 1991, special measures agreements have served as a pillar of the shared commitment to the defense of the Korean Peninsula by combined U.S. and ROK forces. As the United States continues to rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region, our commitment to the U.S.-ROK Alliance will only grow stronger."

Battaglia Visits Florida Coast Guard, MEP Units

Thu, 2014-04-17 00:00

The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited U.S. Coast Guard and Military Entrance Processing units here yesterday.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia engaged with dozens of Coast Guardsmen at the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron here to get feedback about personnel and budget issues before touring the Jacksonville Military Entrance Processing Station.

“I’m pleased to be able to learn more not only about missions, but the people and families behind them,” Battaglia said. “We have people out here working hard every day behind the scenes making a difference not for a pat on the back but because they take pride in what they do.”

The sergeant major toured the HITRON hangar to see a 39-foot-long Midnight Express interceptor boat and armed MH-65 Dolphin helicopters that are deployed for drug interdiction and security duties.

HITRON’s counter-narcotics mission involves the appropriate force to interdict vessels and vector Over the Horizon Cutter Boats to the scene for apprehension, said Coast Guard Capt. Donna Cottrell, HITRON commanding officer.

“We can stop non-compliant vessels, narcotics, human trafficking and really anything,” Cottrell said. “We’ve disabled vessels that didn’t even have drugs on board, but had weapons and money, which is better since they’ve already sold the drugs. They’re headed back south but they can’t replace the money.”

In fiscal year 2013 HITRON was involved in 28 interdictions and the seizure of nearly 16 tons of cocaine totaling about $396 million, Cottrell said, adding they’ve also worked with law enforcement to apprehend 93 suspects.

Interdiction procedures and video evidence need to be flawless to make the cases and convictions, Cottrell said.

Across town, Battaglia later administered the ceremonial oath of enlistment to about 20 recruits at the Jacksonville MEPS, where more than 109,898 men and women from across the area began their military careers since the facility opened in 1966.

Battaglia offered the recruits some advice before they were sworn in.
“We will wear different cloths depending on the service you’ve selected, but on your quest to earn the title of soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman, just do your job to the best of your ability and follow orders,” the sergeant major said. “Those two golden rules will help you get through any challenge put before you.”
The Jacksonville MEPS is one of a network of 65 MEPS located nationwide and in Puerto Rico.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)

Hagel Calls Chile’s Disaster Responses ‘Model for Region’

Wed, 2014-04-16 00:00

In a Pentagon meeting with Chilean Defense Minister Jorge Burgos today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel commended the minister for Chile's response to recent natural disasters.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel noted that Chile's national disaster response capabilities are a model for the entire region.

Two earthquakes struck Chile's northern coast earlier this month, and wildfires that have raged in recent days in the port city of Valparaiso. Hagel and passed on his condolences for the victims of the natural disasters, Kirby said.

The two defense leaders also further discussed areas of mutual concern and potential future collaboration on disaster response issues, the press secretary added.

"Both leaders discussed a range of topics and issues of mutual interest relating to security and cooperation throughout Central and South America,” Kirby said. “Secretary Hagel recognized Chile's strong partnerships throughout Central America as an important contribution to capacity and stability in the region and expressed interest in trilateral cooperation initiatives there. He also noted Chile's engagements in the Pacific region as another area for collaboration.”

Hagel thanked Burgos for his continued support and partnership, the admiral said, and told him that he looks forward to meeting with the minister again at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Peru in October.

U.S. Ship Responds to Scene of Korean Ship Sinking

Wed, 2014-04-16 00:00

The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard is responding to the scene after the passenger ship Sewol sank near the island of Jindo off South Korea’s southwestern coast.

The ship had more than 450 people aboard and was traveling from Incheon, South Korea, to Jeju island at the time of the incident.

Bonhomme Richard has established communications with the South Korean on-scene commander and is standing by to assist as required. The ship was on a routine patrol in waters west of the Korean Peninsula.

"When we were alerted to the accident, we immediately diverted to the scene to render assistance," said Navy Capt. Heidi C. Agle, commodore of U.S. Amphibious Squadron 11. "However, the efficiency of the Korean response eclipsed the immediate need for our assets. We are standing by to provide support as requested by the on-scene commander."

Bonhomme Richard is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet. With its embarked Marine expeditionary unit, the ship is capable of both combat and humanitarian operations.

‘Birdies for the Brave’ Tees Up Support for Vets, Families

Wed, 2014-04-16 00:00

Known for its plush landscape and daunting 17th-hole island green, the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour headquarters here also boasts a flourishing military outreach program for total force military members and their families, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia visited Tournament Players Club Sawgrass to meet officials from “Birdies for the Brave,” which offers complimentary admission, lessons and more for active duty, Guard and Reserve and retired service members and their families at select PGA Tour, Champions Tour, and Tour events.

John Flaschner, public relations and community outreach director for The PGA Tour and the Tournament Players Club network, said Birdies for the Brave fundraising efforts have benefitted nine military homefront groups supported by PGA Tour players.

“Our entire mission is just to say ‘thank you’ to military men, women and their families, Flaschner said, adding that in 2012, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, the White House named Birdies for the Brave among the top 20 military-friendly charities in the United States.

Pro golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, originally created Birdies for the Brave to support troops who suffered combat injuries, Flaschner said, noting that Mickelson pledged to the Homes For Our Troops and Special Operations Warrior foundations $100 for each birdie and $500 for each eagle he makes.

Today, the PGA Tour has more than 100 tournaments on all three of its tours, including the Tour for up-and-coming players and the Champions Tour for players over age 50.

And Birdies for the Brave is at 32 tournaments out of 45 on the PGA Tour, with a presence of six each on the and the Champions tours, Flaschner noted. “Our goal by 2018 is to have a presence at all of these tournaments,” he added.

Birdies for the Brave has partnered with organizations such as Operation Shower, a charitable program out of St. Louis that coordinates with base ombudsmen and local stores to set up surprise baby showers for expectant mothers whose spouses are underway or deployed. Donations include cribs, dressers and other necessary baby supplies.

Battaglia commended Birdies for the Brave’s connection of role-model athletes to military veterans and their families. Flaschner said his main motivation is to give back to service members who have committed their lives to freedom and bravery.

“Whether it’s mortgage-free home donations to wounded service members and their families or the donation of service dogs to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, our fundraising events have raised more than $13 million for military homefront charities that directly benefit military members and their families,” Flaschner said. “And to see their gratitude for us when they’ve given so much is just overwhelming.”

The nine military homefront groups and their supporting Tour players are:

-- Homes for Our Troops and Special Operations Warrior Foundation: Phil Mickelson;

-- Operation Homefront: Corey Pavin;

-- Navy SEAL Foundation: Jerry Kelly, Vijay Singh and Frank Lickliter II;

-- United Through Reading: Rory Sabbatini;

-- Military Warriors Support Foundation: Ted Purdy and David Toms;

-- Green Beret Foundation: Bubba Watson;

-- K9s for Warriors: David Duval and Bob Duval; and

-- Feherty's Troops First Foundation: Rod Pampling.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)

Helpline Marks 3 Years of Aiding Sexual Assault Victims

Wed, 2014-04-16 00:00

The DOD Safe Helpline -- a crisis-response resource that provides sexual assault victims with an anonymous and confidential system of support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world – marks three years of operation this month.

Since 2011, more than 20,000 people have sought one-on-one sexual assault assistance and crisis support securely and anonymously through the Safe Helpline’s online chat, telephone and texting helplines, officials said.

To mark the milestone, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, visited the call center to thank the professionals who support sexual assault victims.

“The Department of Defense is committed to ensuring a victim-centered focus in responding to the crime of sexual assault,” Snow said. “The Safe Helpline is instrumental in helping us provide this support by immediately providing human interaction combined with educational resources to victims, which can facilitate critical medical care and support, even if they are not ready to file an official report.”

Safe Helpline’s highly trained professionals provide one-on-one assistance, moderated group chats and a self-help app, among other referrals for resources on and off military bases and installations, to ensure victims can find support in forums in which they feel most comfortable. Service referrals include information for sexual assault response coordinators, along with legal, medical, mental health and spiritual military resources.

Safe Helpline is administered by the Defense Department and operated by the nonprofit organization Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, through a contract with DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

“We’re proud to continually provide victims of sexual assault with an anonymous and confidential line of support as part of our victim-centered mission,” Snow said. “By taking a leading role in developing innovative victim support services for military survivors of sexual assault, I believe the Department of Defense can and must be a leader in addressing survivor needs.

“The DOD Safe Helpline has proven in three years that it’s invaluable to service members who look to the department to help address their needs on their terms.”