INFORMATION AWARENESS OFFICE
USING THE BEST TECHNOLOGIES AT OUR DISPOSAL,ALLOWS US TO FIGHT TERROR,ANYWHERE,ANYTIME. WE MUST BE ABLE TO ADAPT AND EVOLVE. THINK BIG,START SMALL,ACT FAST.FOUNDATIONS TODAY FOR A SAFER TOMORROW. 

PENTAGON NEWS PAGE711

Navy Plan of the Day Announcements 

CNP Talks Tuition Assistance  

 Ninety percent of Sailors who use TA complete the courses they take and Navy leadership is actively working to keep TA in this tough economy according to the CNP. Leaders are looking at the structure to allow those Sailors who are eligible to continue to use it.

  

"Zeroing in on Excellence" - Improving NWU Wear in Fleet

 The top 5 mistakes MCPON Stevens sees Sailors making with the NWU uniform in the fleet are: Improper boots; Improper blousing of trousers; Improper wear of eight point cover; Improper fitting of uniform; Wearing uniform in wrong locations. Develop Leaders and Control What You Own.

  

Plan for April Now - Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Month of the Military Child

Start planning your events now to recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness month. "We own it...We'll solve it...Together." Commands are empowered to take ownership of this problem. April is also the Month of the Military Child. Plan to recognize the dedication and sacrifices Navy children make around the world every day to contribute to the Navy's readiness.

Navy Suspends Early Career Transition Program

The Navy suspended the Early Career Transition Program (ECTP) in NAVADMIN 063/13 March 14. Requests submitted and received at NPC prior to March 14 will be accepted and processed. Requests received after March 14 will be returned without action. Previously approved requests are unaffected.

 

Navy Nutrition Month = Better Sailors

Navy Nutrition Month is March. The effort is in alignment with and supports the SecNav's 21ST Century Sailor and Marine initiative. The goal is to increase awareness and transform food environments Navy-wide to facilitate and maintain better food which contributes to more operationally-ready Sailors.

 

Navy Leader Planning Guide

March Evals/Fitreps
March 31 - W-5/4/3 (All)

March Mid-term Counseling
W-2 (All)
E- 7/8 (All)

March Selection Boards
March 25 - Reserve E-8/9 (PERS 8)
March 25 - FTS E-8/9 (PERS 8)
March 26 - FTS Transfer/Redesignation #2(PERS 92)
March 27 - Reserve Aviation Command (CNATRA)


This Week in Naval History

21 Mar 1917: Loretta P. Walsh, 1st Woman Navy Petty Officer

On 21 Mar 1917, Loretta P. Walsh became the first woman Navy Petty Officer when she was sworn in as a Chief Yeoman. She served at the U.S. Navy Home at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and left the Navy after her four-year enlistment. Chief Petty Officer Walsh died on 6 Aug 1925 and is buried at Olyphant's St. Patrick's Cemetery, Olyphant, Pennsylvania.

22 Mar 1946: USS Missouri (BB 63) departed for Turkey

On 22 Mar 1946, USS Missouri (BB-63) departed the U.S. to return the body of deceased Turkish ambassador, Mehmet Munir Ertegun, back to Turkey for burial, arriving in Istanbul on 5 April. Her crew members then participated in Ambassador Ertegun’s funeral ceremonies. Before returning home in early May, she visited ports in Greece, Italy, Algiers and Morocco. While in the region, Missouri successfully reestablished the U.S. Navy's presence in what soon became the "Cold War" home waters of the Sixth Fleet.

23 Mar 1965: Gemini III was launched

On 23 March 1965, Gemini III, the first two-manned spacecraft, completed 3 orbits in 4 hours, 53 minutes at an altitude of 224 km. Recovery was by helicopters from USS Intrepid (CVS-11). Astronauts were Lieutenant Commander John W. Young, USN, Pilot and Virgil I. Grissom, Command Pilot.

24 Mar 1903: George Dewey commissioned – Admiral of the Navy

On 24 March 1903, George Dewey was commissioned Admiral of the Navy. He was the only person to hold this rank. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (1858), he later served in the Civil War and led the U.S. Navy victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, which gave birth to his famous quote, “You may fire when you are ready Gridley.” (Gridley was the CO of USS Olympia, Dewey’s flagship). He held the rank of Admiral of the Navy until his death on 16 Jan 1917 and is buried in the crypt of the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. Upon Admiral Dewey’s death, the Admiral of the Navy rank ceased to exist.

25 Mar 1822: US claimed Key West, Florida

On 25 March 1822, USS Shark commanded by Lt. Matthew C. Perry, raised the first U.S. Flag over Key West, Florida and claimed the territory for the United States. Perry called the island Thompson's Island to honor Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson and named the harbor Port Rodgers to compliment Commodore John Rodgers.

26 Mar 1943: Battle of Komandorski Islands

On 26 March 1943, at the Battle of Komandorski Islands, TG 16.6 (commanded by Rear Admiral Charles H. McMorris), prevented Japanese reinforcements from reaching Kiska, Aleutian Islands. During battle, USS Salt Lake City (CA 25) was damaged by gunfire from heavy cruisers Maya and Nachi. Return fire from the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City damaged Nachi in return.

27 MAR 1794: Congress authorized six frigates

On 27 March 1794, President George Washington signed the act by Congress authorizing the construction of six frigates. The six frigates authorized were: USS United States, USS Constellation, USS Constitution, USS Chesapeake, USS Congress, and USS President.

  

Plan of the Day Announcements – Associated Stories

CNP Talks Tuition Assistance, PTS and More with Sailors in Norfolk

Release Date: 3/19/2013 1:32:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Darien G. Kenney, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Personnel addressed Sailors during an all-hands call aboard Naval Station Norfolk, March 18.

Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk took this opportunity to discuss issues affecting Sailors' naval careers, their families and their futures. One of the big-ticket items in the news lately is tuition assistance.

"Ninety percent of Sailors who use TA complete the courses they take and Navy leadership is actively working to keep TA in this tough economy," said Van Buskirk. "They are looking at the structure to allow those Sailors who are eligible to continue to use it."

He also discussed the continued impact Sailors have throughout the fleet from an operational standpoint.

"The missions you are accomplishing are making a difference in the world because you are all tremendous ambassadors," said Van Buskirk. "We have supported deployments on the ground and on ships and are fully engaged in supporting critical missions from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan to the Western Pacific."

Van Buskirk said his number one priority is to man the fleet by ensuring Sailors are assignable, deployable and distributable.

"In the last year, we have had 90 percent PTS approval and greater than 95 percent in the last four months," said Van Buskirk.

Van Buskirk said the Navy is continuing to make improvements to PTS, which increases Sailors' ability to have a say in their career and improve the ability to distribute Sailors where we need them most.

During a question and answer session, Van Buskirk took questions regarding the Navy's current financial state since enacting sequestration and what the future holds.

"It feels good to know that the Navy leadership hears our concerns and for the CNP to come and let us know that he is on our side and doing everything for Sailors," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (SW/AW) Darius Branch.

When asked about retirement pay, Van Buskirk said a commission will be stood up to look at retirement pay, but current active duty will be grandfathered into the current retirement pay.

Much of the question and answer session focused on family-related programs, and Van Buskirk assured attendees the Navy is dedicated to helping Sailors and their families.

"Our Navy remains committed to maintaining the funding for our Sailors and family readiness programs as much as possible, and our goal is to have no impact on those programs in the future," said Van Buskirk.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit http://www.navy.mil/cnp/index.asp.

 

Navy Suspends Early Career Transition Program

Release Date: 3/14/2013 3:15:00 PM

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Navy announced suspension of the Early Career Transition Program (ECTP) in a Navy message released March 14.

According to NAVADMIN 063/13 Navy Personnel Command (NPC) will no longer accept requests to transition to the Selected Reserve under this program. Requests submitted and received at NPC prior to March 14 will be accepted and processed. Requests received after March 14 will be returned without action. Previously approved requests are unaffected.

Established in 2011, ECTP allowed active duty and Full Time Support (FTS) Sailors with at least two, but less than 16 years of service to leave active duty and affiliate with the Selected Reserve to finish out the remainder of their Navy contract.

It provided Sailors an early transition opportunity to continue their Naval service and pursue educational or personal goals at a time when the Navy was experiencing record high retention and low attrition. When the program was activated, active duty Navy had 35 overmanned ratings while the Selected Reserve had 22 undermanned ratings, so the ECTP helped reduce overmanning in the active component while filling the Selected Reserve ranks with highly trained and qualified Sailors.

Since 2011, the Navy has made significant progress in balancing the force, eliminating the current need for the ECTP voluntary early separation program. ECTP may be reinstated in the future as required.

For more information, read the NAVADMIN 063/13 at the NPC website www.npc.navy.mil.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 163-13
March 20, 2013


General Officer Announcements

            Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the President has made the following nomination: 

            Army Maj. Gen. David L. Mann for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as the commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.  Mann is currently serving as commanding general, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, Ky. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister for appointment to the rank of major general.  Bannister is currently serving as deputy chief of staff, operations, International Security Assistance Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Scott D. Berrier for appointment to the rank of major general.  Berrier is currently serving as director of intelligence, J-2, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Gwendolyn Bingham for appointment to the rank of major general.  Bingham is currently serving as commanding general, White Sands Missile Range, White Sands Missile Range, N.M. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Brendler for appointment to the rank of major general.  Brendler is currently serving as director of architecture, operations, networks and space, Office of the Chief Information Officer/G-6, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Clarence K. K. Chinn for appointment to the rank of major general.  Chinn is currently serving as deputy commander, Regional Command-East, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Edward F. Dorman III for appointment to the rank of major general.  Dorman is currently serving as director for logistics operations and readiness, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Terry R. Ferrell for appointment to the rank of major general.  Ferrell most recently served as commanding general, National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Fort Irwin, Calif. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Charles A. Flynn for appointment to the rank of major general.  Flynn is currently serving as deputy commanding general, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. George J. Franz III for appointment to the rank of major general.  Franz is currently serving as director, current operations, J-33, U.S. Cyber Command, Fort George G. Meade, Md. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Christopher K. Haas for appointment to the rank of major general.  Haas is currently serving as commanding general, U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Horlander for appointment to the rank of major general.  Horlander is currently serving as special assistant to the director, Office of Business Transformation, Office of the Under Secretary of the Army, Washington, D.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Thomas S. James Jr. for appointment to the rank of major general.  James is currently serving as deputy commanding general (maneuver), 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Ole A. Knudson for appointment to the rank of major general.  Knudson is currently serving as program executive, programs and integration, Missile Defense Agency, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux for appointment to the rank of major general.  Maddux is currently serving as deputy commanding general (support), Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Theodore D. Martin for appointment to the rank of major general.  Martin is currently serving as commanding general, National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Fort Irwin, Calif. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Kevin G. O'Connell for appointment to the rank of major general.  O'Connell is currently serving as commanding general, Joint Munitions Lethality, Life Cycle Management Command/Joint Munitions Command, Rock Island, Ill. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Barrye L. Price for appointment to the rank of major general.  Price is currently serving as director, Human Resources Policy Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, U.S. Army, Arlington, Va.

            Army Brig. Gen. James M. Richardson for appointment to the rank of major general.  Richardson is currently serving as deputy commanding general, III Corps and Fort Hood, Fort Hood, Texas. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Martin P. Schweitzer for appointment to the rank of major general.  Schweitzer is currently serving as deputy director for regional operations, J-3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Richard L. Stevens for appointment to the rank of major general.  Stevens is currently serving as director, Joint Engineering Directorate, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan/commander, Transatlantic Division (Forward), Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty for appointment to the rank of major general.  Twitty is currently serving as deputy chief of staff, communications, Headquarters, International Security Assistance Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Peter D. Utley for appointment to the rank of major general.  Utley is currently serving as deputy chief of staff, operations and training, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis, Va. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Gary J. Volesky for appointment to the rank of major general.  Volesky is currently serving as chief of public affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Army, Washington, D.C. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Darryl A. Williams for appointment to the rank of major general.  Williams is currently serving as deputy commanding general (support), 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth U.S. Army, Republic of Korea. 

            Army Brig. Gen. Michael E. Williamson for appointment to the rank of major general.  Williamson is currently serving as assistant deputy for acquisition and systems management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Washington, D.C.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 161-13
March 20, 2013


General Officer Assignments

            The chief of staff, Army announced today the following assignments: 

            Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., commanding general, 1st Infantry Division/Combined Joint Task Force-1, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, to assistant deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. 

            Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, commandant, U.S. Army Transportation School, Fort Lee, Va., to commanding general, 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Eighth U.S. Army, Republic of Korea. 

            Brig. Gen. Charles A. Flynn, deputy commanding general, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., to chief of staff, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. 

            Brig. Gen. Paul C. Hurley Jr., commanding general, 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Eighth U.S. Army, Republic of Korea, to deputy assistant chief of staff, C/J-4, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea/deputy commanding general (support), Eighth U.S. Army, Republic of Korea. 

            Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, deputy commander, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, to deputy director for operations, U.S. Africa Command, Germany. 

            Col. Terrence J. McKenrick, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, chief of staff, Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, U.S. Central Command, Iraq, to deputy director for operations, National Joint Operations Intelligence Center, Operations Team-1, J-3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 162-13
March 20, 2013


General Officer Announcements

            Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the President has made the following nominations: 

            Air Force Lt. Gen. John E. Hyten has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as commander, Fourteenth Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command, and commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.  Hyten is currently serving as vice commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. 

            Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as vice commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.  Helms is currently serving as commander, Fourteenth Air Force (Air Forces Strategic-Space), Air Force Space Command, and commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.


03/20/2013 04:43 PM CDT

First Lady Visits Fisher House Families, Wounded Warriors

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., March 20, 2013 - Bearing a large Easter basket brimming with cookies, First Lady Michelle Obama visited seven families of recuperating service members at Fisher House No. 4 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here today.

As part of her Joining Forces initiative -- a national movement for all sectors of society to support and honor America's service members and their families that's co-sponsored by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden -- today was the first lady's second Easter celebration at one of Walter Reed's Fisher Houses. She spent time with each family at tables decorated in the children's Easter art.

Bo, the first family's dog, was at her side, bringing squeals of delight from the children, who were eager to pet him.

"Bo is a sweetheart, but he's big," Obama told the group. "Bigger than some kids realize. He's really a big baby. He can do tricks if he's paying attention."

Though this was her second Fisher House visit herearound the Easter holiday, the first lady said, it's not her second time at a Fisher House.

"[Fisher Houses], as you all know, are just so important to families who are recuperating," she said. "As you can see, the houses are beautiful. And all around the country, they are as beautiful, welcoming and comforting as you guys are experiencing here."

The Fisher House Foundation donates homes built on the grounds of major U.S. military and Veterans Affairs Department medical centers. The homes give family members a comfortable place to stay close to their loved ones during hospitalizations for unexpected illnesses, diseases or injuries.

"We are so supportive of all the efforts that the Fisher Houses do, and we're grateful to the Fisher family," the first lady said. "So, I like to come and hang out, and to bring cookies. Anybody like cookies here? I'm not sure if we have any cookie fans."

Obama brought another surprise with her to the Easter event.

"We do this really cool thing at the White House around Easter every year," she said. "Have you guys heard of the Easter Egg Roll? We do it in the backyard of the White House on the South Lawn, and there are thousands of people who come. We've got great entertainment, ... athletes who come, ... Easter bunnies, ... face painting, bands playing, and lots of running right on the South Lawn. Does that sound fun?

"I brought tickets for all of you to come, ... so, the Monday after Easter, you guys are invited to my house to hang out," she said to the families who responded with enthusiastic "ooohs" and "ahhhhs."

Obama spent about an hour greeting the families and asking the children about their Easter crafts and how they made them. She chatted with service members and military spouses under a handmade "Welcome, Mrs. Obama" sign made in crayon by the children.

Following her visit with the families at the Fisher House, the first lady visited wounded warriors hospitalized at the medical center on the Walter Reed campus.
 

Related Sites:
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Joining Forces
Fisher House Foundation


03/20/2013 04:15 PM CDT

Top Enlisted Leaders Express Concerns on Budget Issues

By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 - The top enlisted members of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps underscored to lawmakers yesterday the quality-of-life challenges the services face in tough fiscal times.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said the current budgetary situation has far-reaching effects on the Army and the lives of its members. He and his counterparts testified before the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on military construction, veterans' affairs and related agencies.

"The magnitude of today's fiscal uncertainty has grave consequences for our soldiers, civilians and families," Chandler said. "The current continuing resolution is affecting shortfalls for our funding of overseas contingency operations due to emerging costs in theater. With the enactment of sequestration, the Army is also being forced to make dramatic cuts to personnel, readiness and modernization programs, thereby putting our national security at risk."

In today's uncertain and complex environment, Chandler said, the Army is committed to ensuring that it is the best manned, equipped, trained and led force in the world. But he said the limited resources are affecting its ability to do that.

"Our strategy to defend the nation and its necessary actions requires the Army to have flexibility and predictability, something we do not currently have, and that Army leadership is challenged to alter," he said. "The fiscal outlook which the Army faces today is challenging and, to my recollection, unprecedented. Fiscal uncertainties do not allow us to prevent, shape and win."

Chandler and the other top enlisted leaders stressed the importance of quality-of-life programs and resources to support a wide range of areas, including sexual assault prevention and response, mental health, suicide prevention, caring for wounded service members, family support, child and youth development, housing, and helping members transition from the military into the civilian world.

Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett said quality-of-life programs are important to Marines, and reductions will be made wisely.

"Our approach to required sequestration cuts to our Marine and family support portfolio will focus on preserving programs that support the health, welfare and morale of our Marines and families," Barrett told the House panel. "These programs are considered most essential in meeting the organizational objectives of the Marine Corps, and they promote the physical and mental well-being of Marines and families.

"We will be fiscally responsible during this challenging budget environment and will critically assess the needs of our family members and prioritize resources," he continued. "We will do so, however, in a manner that sustains the world's finest fighting force while keeping faith with our Marines and their families."

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody said that the quality of service initiatives are an important aspect of military life, and an overwhelming factor in the decision airmen and their families make in remaining in the service.

"We place a great deal of importance on the sense of community in and around our bases," he said. "We focus on four main areas: health and wellness; airmen and family support; education, development, and employment; and airmen and family housing."

While not at the hearing in person, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike D. Stevens said in submitted testimony that the current fiscal situation is having an impact across the Navy.

"We must continue to ask hard questions and make hard decisions that will enable us to provide a quality of life commensurate with the sacrifices our sailors and their families make daily," he said.

"A full-year continuing resolution, sequestration and associated out-year budget reductions will make it extremely difficult to continue our current and anticipated level of operations, compel us to cancel some maintenance and training, and constrain our ability to invest in future capability and capacity," Stevens added in his submitted testimony.

He said the reductions have a negative impact on morale and quality of life of sailors and their families, but the Navy will continue to fully protect wounded warrior programs and will preserve family programs to the greatest extent possible.
 

Biographies:
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III
Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike D. Stevens

Related Sites:
Special Report: Sequestration

03/20/2013 04:35 PM CDT

Southcom Chief: Iran Working to Expand Influence in Latin America

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 - U.S. Southern Command's top officer told Congress today that Iran is actively working to expand its presence in Latin America to cultivate allies at a time when Tehran is facing tough U.S and international sanctions for its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee that Iran "has been very, very active over the last few years" in cultivating diplomatic and cultural ties to the region, especially by befriending Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died earlier this month.

"They've opened embassies, they've opened cultural centers," he testified, adding that on the surface, all of this appears to be normal.

"But to what end is obviously the issue," he told the House panel.

Kelly told lawmakers he could discuss details about what the Iranian government's goals might be only in a closed session. He mentioned Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina as countries that have been the target of Iran's diplomatic and economic outreach.

Despite Iran's outreach to countries that he said have interests unfavorable to the United States, the general cast Iran's overtures as being far from successful and described a region as largely uninterested in Tehran's diplomatic engagement.

"The region as a whole has not been receptive to Iranian efforts," Kelly said in his prepared testimony. But he cautioned that Iran's allies, including Hezbollah, have established a presence in several Latin-American countries to deadly effect, recalling that Iran and Hezbollah were blamed for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed more than 80 people.

"Proselytizers with ties to global Islamic groups are attempting to radicalize and recruit among the Muslim communities throughout the region," he said, adding that the United States and its partners "should be extremely concerned whenever external extremist groups or state sponsors of terrorism see the Western Hemisphere as attractive or, even worse, vulnerable."

Kelly pointed out that Venezuelan government officials have been sanctioned for providing financial support to Hezbollah, as well as for supporting rebels in neighboring Colombia.

Kelly said China is another country far outside Latin America that wants to compete with the United States for influence in the region, and is very engaged economically, "buying commodities in a big way and also investing in port facilities." This, he added, is all the more reason for the United States to continue working to strengthen partnerships in the region.
 

Biographies:
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly

Related Sites:
U.S. Southern Command

Navy News Service for Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Today in the Department of Defense, 3/21/2013


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03/20/2013 04:56 PM EDT

  Shipmates, I’m excited to have this opportunity with the Navy Live blog and this Thursday’s Facebook chat at 5 p.m. EDT to communicate with you about my “Zeroing in on...
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 165-13
March 20, 2013

Readout of Secretary of Defense Hagel's Call with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian

            Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout: 

            "Today Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian to discuss issues of mutual interest.  Secretary Hagel reaffirmed U.S. appreciation to the French for their active leadership in addressing security challenges in Mali.  He noted that Mali operations are a good example of building an alliance with common interests to deal with shared threats and challenges.    

            "Secretary Hagel also expressed his desire to meet with Minister Le Drian in person.  The two leaders agreed to seek an opportunity to meet in the near future to discuss the global security interests shared by both countries."  

s and terrorists in Latin America would constitute a clear danger to the region, U.S. Southern Command's senior leader told reporters at the Pentagon today.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, holds a news conference with reporters at the Pentagon, March 20, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly said the increase in Iranian influence in Latin America is worrisome, and an example of the peril that the combination of criminal networks and states that sponsor terrorism, like Iran, could pose.

Kelly, who took over U.S. Southern Command in November, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that in the past six years Iran has tried to increase its influence in Central and South America. The Iranian government, he said, has built embassies and cultural centers in the region.

"The concern is that ... they're looking ... for influence -- say for votes in the U.N. on sanctions," he said. "But also, and I've ... made mention to some of our friends in the region that these guys are very, very good at what they do, and very, very skilled at what they do, and that people should just be careful as to who they're dealing with."

The general stressed he is not accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Latin America, but he noted that Iran is involved in terrorism in other areas of the world.

"We do know that some terrorist organizations are able to skim off fairly substantial sums of money from the drug profits," Kelly said. "And so there has to be kind of a network for that to happen."

The criminal networks in Latin America are very sophisticated and very well financed, he said.

Drugs are the basis for this wealth and the drug-related money coming out of the United States "is astronomical," Kelly said.

"I mean palettes of money," he said. "For a buck, anything can get on the [drug transport] network."

That network, Kelly said, transports tons of drugs into the United States and Europe and moves bales of money back out.

"The point of it all is the network is a very dangerous thing to have working as effectively as it does, because anything can get on it," he said.

Kelly said his command is working to build military-to-military contacts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

"The good news about Latin America and my part of the world is that there are no wars," he said.

And most Latin American countries, including Brazil -- the world's fifth-largest economy -- want the United States as a partner, Kelly said.

The countries of the region don't ask for much, the general said.

"When I go down and visit, they're not asking for an awful [lot] -- they're not asking for money," Kelly said. "They're willing to pay their own way."

What the Latin American countries need is expertise, the general said. For example, Peru is asking for help in getting its separate military services to work together better. Colombia needs help in countering improvised explosive devices that the terror group FARC and criminal syndicates use to protect coca fields and factories. Other nations need medical expertise.

Turning to another topic, Kelly noted that sequestration will hit his command hard. He said there will be fewer vessels to interdict cocaine shipments, and fewer troops to operate with partner militaries.
 

Biographies:
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly
Related Sites:
U.S. Southern Command
Special Report: Sequestration

03/20/2013 09:00 PM CDT

Obama: U.S. Commitment to Israel is 'Solemn Obligation'

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 - President Barack Obama today pledged in Jerusalem that the United States stands by its commitment to Israel's security, noting the alliance between the two countries "has never been stronger."

During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, Obama said he's "made it clear America's commitment to the security of the State of Israel is a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable."

Today, the American and Israeli militaries and their intelligence establishments "cooperate more closely than ever before," Obama said.

The U.S. and Israeli militaries also "conduct more joint exercises and training than ever before," the president added.

Additionally, the United States is "providing more security assistance and advanced technology to Israel than ever before," Obama said.

The U.S. military is providing support for Israeli missile defenses like the Iron Dome, Obama said. Earlier today, the president said, he'd visited the Iron Dome system, "which has saved so many Israeli lives."

The Iron Dome, a short-range rocket and mortar defense system which was developed by the Israelis and funded in large part by the United States, prevented war following hundreds of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip in March 2012.

America's support for Israel's security is "unprecedented," Obama said, noting "the alliance between our nations has never been stronger."

During meetings he'd had earlier in the day with Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials, Obama said he'd agreed to begin discussions on extending U.S. military assistance to Israel.

"Our current agreement lasts through 2017," Obama said, "and we've directed our teams to start working on extending it for the years beyond."

Obama also announced the U.S. will take steps to ensure that there's no interruption of funding for the Iron Dome system.

"As a result of decisions that I made last year, Israel will receive approximately $200 million this fiscal year and we will continue to work with Congress on future funding of Iron Dome," the president said. "These are further reminders that we will help to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself, by itself, against any threat."

And, the United States "continues to work with allies and friends and the Syrian opposition to hasten the end" of the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Obama said.

"We also share Israel's grave concern about the transfer of chemical or other weapon systems to terrorists -- such as Hezbollah -- that might be used against Israel," Obama said. "The Assad regime must understand that they will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists."

Obama said he and senior Israeli officials also discussed the topic of Iran.

"We agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world, and potentially an existential threat to Israel," Obama said. "And we agree on our goal. We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

"We prefer to resolve this diplomatically, and there's still time to do so," the president continued. "Iran's leaders must understand, however, that they have to meet their international obligations. And, meanwhile, the international community will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian government."

Meanwhile, "the United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps," Obama said. "And I will repeat: All options are on the table. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world's worst weapons."

Meeting today's challenges in the Middle East won't be easy, Obama observed to Netanyahu, noting that "it will demand the same courage and resolve as those who have preceded us."

Obama also observed that Netanyahu and his family, like other families across Israel, have "served and sacrificed to defend your country and to pass it, safe and strong, to your children just as it was passed on to you.

"Standing here today," the president added, "I can say with confidence that Israel's security is guaranteed because it has a great deal on its side, including the unwavering support of the United States of America."

Besides Israel, Obama will also visit the West Bank and Jordan on the first foreign trip of his second term of office.
 

Related Sites:
Press Conference Remarks
U.S. State Department Background Note: Israel

Related Articles:
Panetta, Barak Discuss Iron Dome Success, Israeli Defenses
Iron Dome System Demonstrates U.S.-Israeli Partnership

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