Reservists at 5th fleet, keep them coming!

Reservists contribute an incredible amount to the readiness of our Navy. They have to put their normal lives on hold and go into an active duty setting and contribute right from the get-go. Now imagine stopping your day job, leaving your family, flying halfway across the world and entering a foreign country and experiencing the worst case of jet lag ever. That is what our reservists do each time they come out for 2-3 weeks when they come to Bahrain. I asked one of our enlisted Mass Communication Specialists to describe their experience on the first day. Enjoy!

-THE Lt.


 

BahrainLong before it’s here, it makes its presence known.

The laundry list of required training, Government Travel Credit Card activation, computer access requests, and orders submissions with fingers crossed until time-sensitive security clearances are approved.

Oh yes. It’s time for Reserve Annual Training (AT).

As a Commander once told me, on AT you could do one of two things: “You could catch up on your TV shows or you could catch up on your career.”

Motivated yet? I sure am.

 

So, for those unfamiliar with the annual training requirements for a weekend warrior gained to Naval Support Activity Bahrain, the first day looks a little something like this:

0500: Await patiently at the local airport as my Leading Petty Officer arrives bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to greet me — his new two-week addition, who conveniently arrived on his duty day.

0700: With a new set of rental car keys in hand and no idea how to navigate this foreign land, it’s time to head to the hotel just long enough to check-in to my new home (eh.. hotel) for two weeks.

0800: Now it’s time to check in with the Operational Support Office. Surely, I will not be easily identified as a Reservist, wearing my flawless Type II uniform, affectionately nicknamed “blueberries” and mirror-shiny black boots. There’s no way…Right?

Check in usually consists of handing over a copy of my orders to get stamped by the OSO, along with a copy of the travel itinerary and a Certificate of Non Availability (very important when it comes to travel claim time).

(Tip: The sooner you come to the realization that you will NOT be paid until after the END of your orders, the better. Excess spending will be contained.)

If a Reservist arrives on a Sunday, an indoctrination class, courtesy of the OSO, will be held to make assimilation no so tough.

The rest of the day is learning the ins-and-outs of the base and office workflow. If you’re lucky, you get a good grasp of your shop’s mission early on and take the initiative to become a major player in supporting it.

As Reservists, we are fortunate enough to have not one but two careers worth of knowledge to pull from. Believe it or not, a lot can be accomplished in what seems to be a short time. You’re able to brush up on your rate and learn new things, from instruction to execution about the job that you might not have learned without being on orders.

Checking out after orders is pretty much as simple as checking in: orders are stamped again, receipts with a zero balance are handed to the OSO and all borrowed property is returned.

So here I am on my last day of AT; clutching, for dear life, to a copy of my stamped orders, hotel and transportation receipts, as I prepare for a long journey back home.

The only thing I look forward to more than my own bed is a successful Defense Travel System claims submission and a good night’s rest following a zero balance on my GTCC.

No worries, Bahrain, the Reservists will return. The weekends will only suffice for so long until the time of year rolls around to suit up and make up for lost times.NAVCENTPANO

EA-6B PROWLER’s FINAL PROWL

The first time I was underway on an aircraft carrier, I was amazed at all of the different aircraft in its arsenal. One aircraft inparticular caught my eye. This one had iridescent glass around the cockpit that changed with each angle, a round nose and a long pointy refueling probe right on the nose of the plane. The plane looks like it came straight out of a Vietnam movie. The EA-6B Prowler is on its final deployment and like other aircraft before it, will be replaced with a more advanced model. I reached out to Carrier Airwing Eight commander, Capt. Dan “Undra” Cheever to get his thoughts on what this aircraft has meant to the USS George H. W. Bush Strike Group and also the Navy.

-THE Lt.

 


 

Sailors from Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) are currently participating in the final carrier deployment for the Navy EA-6B Prowler, and VAQ-134 is performing above and beyond expectations during this historic combat cruise. The “Garudas” have a storied history beginning in 1969 during the Vietnam Conflict. They began flying the EA-6B Prowler in 1972.

The EA-6B Prowler has kept the Navy in the forefront of electronic attack for the last 43 years. The “Garudas” were the third squadron to receive the EA-6B and they have been leading the charge ever since. The capability of this platform has denied the enemy the use of the electromagnetic spectrum and made a difference in survivability for our Navy and Joint/Allied Forces.

The Timberwolf/Factory Team (USS George H.W. Bush and Carrier Air Wing 8) are proud to have the “Garudas” on board and are thrilled that we can actively participate as the last Prowler Air Wing to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As part of Carrier Strike Group Two we are here to fully support the Fifth Fleet.140617-EY632-N-061 (1)

VAQ-134 upgraded to ICAP I (Improved Capabilities) in 1977 and to their current ICAP II in 1989 and have been employing it effectively for the last 25 years. This is a testament to the squadron, the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Electronic Attack Wing and Commander, Naval Air Force’s ability to get the most out of this asset. The EA-6B is just as relevant today as it was in 1972! This squadron has deployed on the USS Constellation (CV 64), USS Forrestal (CV 59), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and now on the Nation’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). They are part of an incredible piece of Naval Aviation history.

The “Garudas” were also an expeditionary squadron from 1997 to 2009. They deployed around the world for various detachments and conflicts, to include multiple deployments to Afghanistan. The squadron has been successful thanks to the magnificent, hard-working “Garuda” Sailors, past and present, who maintain it. They are amazing and their commitment to the Navy’s mission is unmatched.

George H. W. Bush is on a scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.A few shining examples of the caliber of Sailor in VAQ-134 are Aircrew Survival Equiptmentman Airman Dylan Conliffe – selected as the “Avenger” of the day (named after the aircraft that President George H.W. Bush flew in WWII), Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Matt Rodriguez – a long time “Garuda” and professional maintainer, Maintenance Master Chief Dennis Sionson, who leads the current group of professional maintainers, and Lt. Chad Walker and Lt. Cmdr. David Elias who represent the remarkably talented aircrew.

June 9 was the squadron’s Change of Command whereupon Cmdr. Aaron Buckles was relieved by Cmdr. Chris Jason.  Cmdr. Jason and new Executive Officer Cmdr. Christofferson will oversee the aircraft transition of the squadron to the EA-18G Growler and will undoubtedly continue the “Garuda” track record of excellence!

-Capt. Dan “Undra” Cheever, Carrier Airwing Eight Commander on the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)

 

Exercise Eager Lion 2014

Exercise Eager Lion 2014 recently ended and it reminded me of how fortunate I was to participate in Exercise Eager Lion 2013 while apart of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.  I saw firsthand the incredible partnership between the Jordanian military, U.S. military and other participating nations.  Everyone had something they could add to the exercise that could benefit other nations.  I asked Brig. Gen. Gregg P. Olson, commander, Task Force 51/59, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Forces Command to describe his overall impression of Exercise Eager Lion 2014 and what it meant to be a part of such a large exercise.

-THE Lt.


 

I just returned from Exercise Eager Lion 2014 as Commander, Task Force 51. The exercise provided us a superb opportunity to work alongside regional partners; we trained side-by-side, shared best practices and made some new friends. Our shared experiences have helped us better understand our collective ability to respond to crisis in the region.

Exercise Eager Lion is a recurring, multinational exercise. This year, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan hosted more than twenty nations in support of common objectives. We all worked together to strengthen our military-to-military relationships, increase our interoperability and find ways we can complement each other in the cause of regional security and stability.

A few days prior to the start of Eager Lion 2014, the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU) arrived in the Port of Aqaba to set-up beach operations to facilitate command and control activities during the exercise.  Aqaba is on the Gulf of Aqaba at the northern end of the Red Sea, where the Jordan River empties into the ocean. From the port, we could look west across the Red Sea into Egypt, look north to Israel and southward to Saudi Arabia.

Our work, however, took place in and around the Royal Jordanian Naval Base, where Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCACs) from the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and Landing Craft, Utility (LCUs) from the USS Gunston Hall put gear and Marines ashore in preparation for the exercise. There was an esprit de corps in the air. Jordanian patrol boats and US craft escorted the ships into the pier; Seabees and Sailors from NAVCENT’s Task Force 56 helped prepare the base for our arrival; Marines and Sailors from the ships offloaded tanks, trucks and equipment in a flurry of activity. While this was not an amphibious landing, it was a great opportunity to demonstrate the inherent flexibility of our amphibious forces. (http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1376372/eager-lion-2014-sailor-conducts-tank-offload)

ImageThe atmosphere at the Base was one of anticipation; we all knew Eager Lion 2014 was about to begin. We’d been waiting for the opportunity to train in the field in a series of realistic, live fire scenarios as part of the Joint force and the offload was the first step. We were able to take full advantage of the capabilities of our Royal Jordanian Navy partners; together, we got the ships safely offloaded and the equipment en route to its exercise location a couple hours to the north.

As part of this year’s exercise, 1st Marine Logistics Group and I Marine Expeditionary Force exercised the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF). (http://www.1stmlg.marines.mil/News/tabid/8620/Article/165250/marines-conduct-maritime-prepositioning-force-offload-during-exercise-eager-lio.aspx) The USNS 1ST Lt. Baldomero Lopez (T-AK 3010) offloaded 300 pieces of equipment in about 16 hours using the “roll on-roll off” ramp that is part of the ship. Lopez, one of four Large Medium-Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off (LMSR) ships, provides an immense amount of stowage space for large equipment; our offload barely tapped into the ship’s capabilities. In a crisis, we could get food, fuel, water-making capability and ammunition in addition to vehicles from the MPF.   The vehicles road marched to an arrival and assembly area where they were inspected and prepared for simulated “combat operations.” As Eager Lion wound down, we cleaned the vehicles and reloaded them aboard Lopez; she sailed back to her prepositioning location with a full complement of equipment.

While Lopez was offloading, USS Gunston Hall, a Dock Landing Ship, supported at-sea portions of Eager Lion. She trained in company with combined naval forces in simulated damage control operations and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) procedures. The Gunston Hall, one of the three ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), hosted Naval commanders and staff officers from our exercise partners for planning sessions, interoperability demonstrations and other maritime activities. Bringing partners together at sea was one of the great parts of Eager Lion; this year was one of the most rewarding years we’ve had with maritime events.

U.S. Marines and Sailors from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit provided the American contingent of the ground combat force for this year’s exercise. Elements of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment—part of the fabled Marine Regiment whose history includes participation in the Battle of Belleau Wood, where Marines are said to have earned the moniker “Devil Dogs”—joined with the Royal Jordanian Armed Force’s Prince Talal 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion and British Royal Marines from 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group at a field training location. The ground forces, supported by a detachment from Combat Logistics Battalion 22, the MEU’s logistics combat element, conducted dismounted infantry attacks, tank and mechanized vehicle operations, live fire and maneuver training and indirect fire interoperability sessions with our Jordanian partners. For a week and a half, the combined land forces made the ranges of the Jebel Petra training area rumble with the noise of tanks, assault amphibian vehicles and live rounds of all calibers. (http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1386341/eager-lion-2014) The training culminated in a live-fire U.S., Jordanian, and British units combined attack on June 5. (http://www.marcent.marines.mil/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000801217)

Dignitaries from Jordan and senior military leaders from across the exercise force got to see this capstone event, where aircraft, helicopters and ground forces demonstrated the results of nearly two weeks of hard training. The live fire attack, which combined sound tactics with stunning visuals of tanks, attack helicopters, close air support and artillery working in concert with ground maneuver, was a fitting end to the ground forces’ hard work.   (http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1386068/eager-lion-2014-land-force-commanders-discuss-major-live-fire-exercise)

140606-M-HZ646-221The partnerships did not end on the range, however. The forces returned to their bivouac area and got their gear cleaned; what happened the next evening was truly indicative of how close we’d come with our exercise partners over the course of two weeks. Warriors from across the exercise force gathered together for a traditional Jordanian meal; combined teams competed in feats of strength, danced traditional Jordanian dances and shared the natural camaraderie that builds when like-minded militaries work closely together. As a starry night fell over the desert in Jebel Petra, it was clear Eager Lion had been a success.

Eager Lion is one of many exercises we conduct in the region; their purposes vary, but all include the goal of building and demonstrating interoperability between partner nations. In a coordinated effort, CTF 51 and its subordinate forces helped enable a true coordinated effort between multinational partners. This year’s Eager Lion was certainly complex; we were able to showcase the level of sophistication we’ve achieved in concert with our partner nations. It was a pleasure to work alongside such professionals as we worked, together, to demonstrate our commitment to our collective efforts on behalf of regional security.

Now that this year’s Eager Lion has wrapped up, we’re on to our preparations for the next opportunities this exciting theater affords. We had a great exercise, but what was best was that we concluding it safely, with all our goals met—and we did so in a spirit of cooperation that provided a valuable experience for all the participants. I encourage you to check out coverage of Eager Lion events at the following links:

http://www.dvidshub.net/video/341390/exercise-eager-lion-marine-corps-jordanian-meet-and-greet

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/131880/1st-marine-expeditionary-brigade-conducts-maritime-prepositioning-force-offload-during-exercise-eager-lion-2014

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/132414/military-officials-7-countries-partner-during-eager-lion-2014-hone-problem-solving-skills

USS Roosevelt Namesake Visit

The excitement of seeing a U.S. Navy ship for the first time is hard to put into words. Being stationed on one you lose the excitement over time, but still have a strong sense of pride in your job. That is why I love my job as a Public Affairs Officer. I am able to introduce people for the first time to everything that the Navy has to offer, including our outstanding people, and I really appreciate how lucky I am to witness their excitement.

I was fortunate enough to witness the grandson of President Franklin D. and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visit the ship named after his grandparents. The USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) was in port Bahrain for a routine port visit, which allowed Mr. Delano Roosevelt, who works in the area, the opportunity to see this ship. The excitement that was on his face when he saw the ship for the first time, truly made me thankful for what I do and grateful I am able to serve my country every day.

I asked Mr. Roosevelt to write down his thoughts on seeing a ship named after his grandparents and what it meant to him.

-THE Lt.


It’s been hard to truly get my head around the day’s events that included the generosity of everyone’s time, coupled with how welcomed and at home we were made to feel on board the USS Roosevelt.

USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) is on a scheduled deployment in route to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility.As the Captain and I were walking, I commented to him that I had some brief conversations with his crew, as they were accounting to me their ship’s responsibilities. I mentioned that, although I did not completely understand some of the technical aspects of their jobs, even though they explained everything so clearly, the one point that I understood and truly felt, was simply a thread of obvious and sincere passion from each and every one of them. This was a passion not only for their Ship, but also a passion for their mission and Country.

I also commented to the Captain that I believe that this does not happen by chance but grown and encouraged by the right leadership that embraces good personal character and doing the right thing. Of course, his response was something humble and to the effect of, it’s easy when you have people with these qualities already in them. (What a great guy!)

The highlight of the day was when we were directed to the Wardroom Mess and the Captain took me totally by surprise. Chief Warrant Officer James Smith was to receive his Surface Warfare Officer Pin. They made this wonderful fellow wait two days until we came on board so he might be pinned by a Roosevelt.

USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) is on a scheduled deployment in route to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th fleet area of responsibility.Then, I was presented with some great souvenirs, as well as some challenge coins including the “Arsenal of Democracy” coin from the Captain!”

Needless to say, I was honored to receive these gifts, but I had a little surprise of my own for Captain Clark. I had been keeping a couple of Challenge Coins of my own for a special occasion, and this was it! I presented a Coin from FDR’s flag ship the USS Iowa, from July 4, 2012, after she was re-fitted and brought down to Los Angeles Harbor from the San Francisco Bay back to her new and permanent home for all to share in.

The day was something that my family and I will never forget. I have never felt so proud to be a Roosevelt and more importantly, an American.

-H. Delano Roosevelt

U.S. Navy Day in Bahrain

U.S. Navy DayBahrain does not have a U.S. Navy Fleet Week for the community to come and visit ships like they do in New York City, Ft. Lauderdale or San Francisco. The country’s exposure to the U.S. Navy and Marines is through photos, videos and articles in local papers. We wanted to bring this opportunity here, so we invited local youth to visit the Mina Salman Port Facility where they learned about our military in Bahrain and the Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and Marines who live here among them. Our goal was to make sure that they left with a firsthand account of what it was like to be on U.S. ships and see what military personnel do every day through static displays that included Marines performing martial arts, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robot, an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that was provided by the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) program and the base fire truck.

U.S. Navy DayThe perfect opportunity came during the annual American-Bahraini Friendship Week Program, where we coordinated the first U.S. Navy Day with the U.S. Embassy Manama, Bahrain.   We brought out more than 200 middle-school aged students from three local schools to enjoy the day’s events. The students were given a personnel qualification standard (PQS) worksheet, which is often used by Sailors to show their ability to understand and perform a certain job.   This PQS listed items the students learned and experienced as they made their way around the pier to each unit’s exhibit. Each stop earned them a signature. Once all the students received the required signatures, they were given a special completion certificate.

U.S. Navy DayThe day was a huge success from everyone’s perspective. Now that there is a great foundation for events like this, we are able to coordinate bigger and better events in the future; a huge positive. The day was hot but the mood was great. We look forward to hosting our next U.S. Navy Day!

-THE Lt.

We Are Back!

The Fifth Fleet Public Affairs team prides itself on putting out relevant information in a timely and accurate manner. Whether it is an exercise with a regional partner, or routine training that prepares our Sailors and Marines for anything that comes up at a moment’s notice, we will be there with a notepad, pen and camera.

This is our opportunity to tell our story. We will continue to inform and educate you on a regular basis. You will soon come to realize that this is the greatest blog ever written in the history of the world, quite possibly the universe as well. Baby steps…

– THE Lt.