Drum Roll Please! ... We have a winner

Thanks so much for all of the great entries for our Sony E-Reader contest!  I had the wonderfully fun task today of drawing a winner.  First of all THANK YOU for all of the great entries, the retweets, the facebook reposts and for the blog posts!  I have to admit the blog posts were great.  They gave me the opportunity to visit a few blogs I had not heard of (and quite a few that I had) and I added the new ones to our blog-list (on the right hand side of our blog...).  On a totally unrelated note, if you are not on my list of "Fellow Military Families", you are in fact a military family, and want to be listed, leave me a comment with your blog address.  I LOVE adding new fellow military-families.
But back to that drum roll...

Our winner is Christine.  She had a wonderful answer!

yes, I think this will allow me/my husband to buy more books. Too often I am reading a blog or something else and hear about a book I’d love to read but forget about it by the time I get to a book store. This would give me the opportunity to go straight to the borders and purchase it right away. Plus if the books are cheaper then I am more likely to buy even more! and just from a specific store (Borders) instead of going to any random store.

She also blogged about the contest on her blog, "A Leap of Faith".  Thank you, Christine.  We hope you enjoy your eReader as much as I have enjoyed mine.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Valentine Freebies & Give-away for our Military Families

Tomorrow is the OFFICIAL drawing for a Sony eReader for our military families!  Enter today.  I received one last week and can I tell you how nice it is?!?!  I sat here in my comfy living room chair, logged onto my local-library's website, downloaded four eBooks and was reading one of them on my e-reader within minutes.  So very cool!  Enter here:  http://militaryblog.militaryavenue.com/2010/01/valentines-contest-for-our-deployed-win.html

Although it is too late to send a Valentines Message via Stars & Stripes print edition you can still submit one for online viewing.  Still very cool!  Read more here: http://militaryblog.militaryavenue.com/2010/01/send-your-true-love-valentines-message.html

This morning I ran across another great deal!  Thank you to Army Wife Network for bringing this to my attention:  "Send a Free Military Sweetheart’s Photo Book for Valentine’s Day"  You do have to pay the FedEx shipping but still a great deal!  You could print it up for free, ship to you and then include it in a care-package to your deployed loved-one.  What a wonderful touch of home!  Deadline is February 13th.  Read more here: http://www.simplephotogifts.com/free-military-sweethearts-photo-book/

Tonight Hubs and I are headed out for a Date Night.  Our 16 year-old is going to babysit his 2 younger brothers for just a few hours.  Believe it or not I think (or at least as far as I can remember) this is one of the first times he has had to watch them for more than 30 minutes.  But getting out as a couple is SO important ... and going out to eat without having to entertain younger ones is such a blessing.  If you are in arms reach of your spouse don't wait to Valentines weekend to woo your loved one... it should be an all year event.

Again a big thank you to all of those organizations that support our military-families!  Particularly, Borders, Stars & Stripes and LifePhoto.  It is nice to know when America supports the military family!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The 18th Airborne and Ft Bragg are in Haiti! - DoD Roundtable

The soldiers in the XVIII Airborne Corps at Ft Bragg were the go to force as soon as the earthquake in Haiti occurred. During this super roundtable Col. Dick Kuehl and Col Ken Dyer gave a great report on their team’s efforts at Ft Bragg (and Pope AFB)to assist the Haitian people.

Col Kuehl is the G-1 who was responsible for aiding SOUTHCOM with filling critical personnel needs in addition to the Global Response Force that were specially requested by the Joint Task Force commander on the ground for the disaster relief and humanitarian assistance (i.e., linguists, mortuary affairs, engineers, etc.).

Col. Ken Dyer is the acting G-4. The logistics piece, like the personnel piece, is a delicate balance of identifying where the equipment and supplies that the JTF commander needs on the ground are against what we have here and/or across the Army or if we have to resort to purchase over the counter. He can also speak about the process to determine how and when supplies and equipment could be delivered. (US Army email)

Ft Bragg has sent 3,100 soldiers to Haiti during the initial relief efforts and continues to provide resources. They sent $3,000,000 worth of medical supplies; a Brigade Combat Team (BCT) was deployed by air and 250 vehicles left last night by rail for Jacksonville, FL and is being loaded now for delivery by barge now that the Haitian ports are more capable. Since the start of the “Unified Response’ Operation in Haiti the team at Pope AFB and Ft Bragg have loaded and deployed 79 C-17 sorties and 54 C-130 sorties of soldiers, equipment, relief rations and medical supplies. The colonels said the “Air Force did yeoman work” to get their soldiers and equipment into Haiti. The Army’s heavy equipment riggers have prepared 84 CDS (Container Delivery System) bundles of water for airdrop and 64 CDS bundles of rations from C-17 aircraft.

The Col Kuehl said that service operations went from individual service focus years ago; to joint efforts; to multi agency efforts with US AID, etc and multi national groups now. The 18th has a civil affairs team working with international groups including non governmental organizations and other government agencies as well. In addition, there are now 14 Army installations involved including all three Army components – Active, Guard and Reserve.

When asked about sustainment of the efforts and need for medical supplies they said a C-17 left this morning with eight additional pallets of medical supplies. The 18th Public Affairs Officer, Lt Col Harper, commented that it has been an “incredible operation” with donations from the surrounding community and that the “soldiers and airmen are working around the clock”. With 40% of Ft Bragg deployed Col Kuehl asked for continued support of the military community and in particular for their families!

Thank you to DoDLive and Army Public Affairs for making these soldiers available to tell us more about the Haiti relief operations at Ft Bragg and Pope AFB.

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To see a transcript of the Roundtable and/or listen to an audio please go to DoDLive.

Photo Credit: Spc. Brent Nailor of the 82nd Airborne Division 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, passes out packaged meals to women and children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 16, 2010. The squadron established a forward operating base at an abandoned and damaged country club near the U.S. embassy. Photo Credit: Fred W. Baker III

Photo Credit: Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, pass out meals to women and children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 16, 2010. The squadron established a forward operating base at an abandoned and damaged country club near the U.S. embassy. A survivor camp of thousands. Photo Credit: Fred W. Baker III

Thankful Thursday: A HOT LONG Shower

I got this email from my son's preschool (I abbreviated names for purpose of OPSEC).  The 'big school' referenced is the main-school which is grades K-8.  My son is part of the preschool, which is ages 3 - 5...

This week in the "big school", the students have been doing many different projects for Haiti. This has included hourly prayers, fasting and almsgiving. We would like the preschoolers to participate in a service project for Haiti as well, and we have found a project to help one of our own.

As many of you know, JM, Mrs M's husband, is a member of the United States Coast Guard. His unit was activated and deployed to Haiti. He left for Florida last Wednesday where he prepared with his unit and then continued on to Haiti on Saturday. Since he has been there, he has called Mrs. M with several items that he needs while he is there. For example, the military is bathing out of buckets and he requested liquid Dial soap. Our thought is that if one member of the unit needs it, then all of them do.

We are putting a box for donations from his list of requests in the modular. Please keep an eye out as you are doing your regular shopping for these items. Once the box is full, we will ship the box to his unit in Haiti to be distributed among our military as they help out with the devastation to Haiti. Know that these items will be sent to directly to J and his coast guard unit and not through any type of agency. After each shipment, we will put a new box out. Hopefully we can keep care packages going over to our military while they are helping this country that has so much need.

Here are items that have been requested:
Gatorade packets to pour into water bottles
unscented baby wipes
laundry detergent sheets
protein bars
baby powder
chicken in a can (in the tuna section)
microwaveable macaroni and cheese, spaghettios, ravioli and beefaroni
dry snacks that will not melt (i.e. graham crackers)
hard candy
liquid Dial soap
Vicks Vap-O-Rub

I have asked J to continue to let us know as new things arise and I will post updates accordingly. As with all of our service projects, this is completely optional. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thank you!

How cool is that?!  I have heard so much about support & aid for the people of Haiti.  But I just LOVE that *C*'s school wants to support the service-member, far away from home without the amenities we so enjoy!  I'm struck with gratitude.

So the next time I step into my nice, hot-shower, and lather up with my favorite freesia smelling soap - I'll think about our service-members - all around the world using BUCKETS to take a shower.

Thank you, J, for being a member of our proud US Coast Guard!  And thank you H.T. School for being a supporter of our military-members!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Exercise LEADING EDGE 2010 -Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation - DoD Roundtable

International forces continue many WMD proliferation security initiatives (PSI) with exercises such as LEADING EDGE 2010 held in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 25-28. Thirty nations participated in three different phases of this exercise from a table top portion, a port security piece and a maritime interdiction live exercise.

LEADING EDGE is a USCENTCOM-hosted and USG Interagency (IA)-supported multinational PSI exercise designed to develop WMD interdiction capabilities with partner nations to deter and disrupt illicit transfers of WMD-related material, technology, expertise and equipment, to include addressing the challenges of suspect material inspection, seizure, and disposition. This exercise represents an opportunity for the U.S. and 30 other nations concerned about WMD proliferation to refine WMD interdiction tactics, techniques and procedures and study related challenges (legal, military, financial, etc.) in a cooperative and mutually supportive environment. (from DoD email)

Mike Perron, program manager Office of Intelligence and Operations Coordination for the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tony Crego, Joint Staff Strategic Plans and Policy directorate (J-5) in the Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Division met with the DoD Blogger Roundtable to provide an update on the exercise. In addition, US Navy Captain Jack Hanzlik, Director of Public Affairs for Central Command participated as a subject matter expert.

The focus of the exercise was broad international and multi-agency cooperation. In addition to military forces the participants sent law enforcement officials, customs, immigration, legal and others. Participants took a whole government approach with 400 total participants and 80 US participants including 49 DoD, 9 interagency and 22 US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard participation included Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) experiences and lessons learned with other national forces. Technology demonstrations with robotics, scanners and Department of Defense canines were included in Leading Edge. Other examples of participants included an Australian frigate, Qatar VBSS team and UAE customs, police and port officials.

Mike said the lessons learned included great participation during the table top part of the exercise including the multinational seminar group was very effective! Primarily maritime focused they would like to see it expanded to include land and air resources with more robust interagency participation. Captain Hanzlik commented that security cooperation exercises stimulate cooperation and positive responses. They frequently open the door for more nations to get involved and create policy changes for more effective cooperation! He said the interagency theme is key with shared intelligence, legal issues and command and control of involved forces making this type of exercise effective while reducing the threat. It also sends a message to the proliferators of WMD!

You can find a transcript or listen to this Roundtable by going to DoDLive! Thank you Lt Cragg for your extraordinary effort to tell the story of our military men and women! Lt Cragg, US Navy, is assigned to the New Media Directorate Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Defense Media Activity.

Photo Credits: The French navy frigate FS Commandant Ducuing (F 795), right, prepares to circle British naval supply ship RFA Brambleleaf (A 81) prior to conducting visit, board, search and seizure training in the Persian Gulf Oct. 30, 2006, as part of exercise Leading Edge 2007. Naval and law enforcement personnel from Australia, Bahrain, France, Italy, United Kingdom, and the United States are participating in the maritime portion of the two-phase, multi-national proliferation security initiative exercise, which is a global effort to stop trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin K. Thomas, U.S. Navy. (Released)
Photographer's Name: MC2(AW/SW) JUSTIN K. THOMASLocation: Central Arabian Gulf
Date Shot: 10/17/2006Date Posted: unknownVIRIN: 061030-N-5555T-017

Photo Credits: Excel spreadsheet provided by DoD email with image by MilitaryAvenue.com

From Africa to Haiti USS Gunston Hall Changes Course - DoD Roundtable

This was an extremely unique opportunity to discuss the efforts in Haiti due to the international staff on board the USS Gunston Hall! Captain Thebaud’s staff included naval officers from Nigeria, Senegal, Italy, Britain and Ghana who were embarked for an Africa Partnership Station (APS) West training event when diverted to Haiti. The ship was originally scheduled to head for Africa to work with West and Central African nations to improve their maritime security and cooperation, but this mission in support of Operation Unified Response changed that and became a lesson all its own. Since arriving off the coast of Haiti they have been working to improve conditions at the Killick Haitian Coast Guard base.

Upon arrival on the 18th, the crew began clearing a soccer field for helicopter operations at Killick. Since then 400 patients have been airlifted by helicopter from the soccer field. Each international officer played a critical role in the effort with their language skills and international affairs experience. The officer from Ghana gathered patient information and became known as their “Haitian brother” as he helped gain their confidence. They have had no crowd or unruly mob scenes at the station during the stressful times due to these types of skills. The Italian officer who also speaks French worked security issues at the gate and interfaced well with the population too. The British commander coordinated with United Nations forces as he was experienced with their operations. The Gunston Hall also had a small civil affairs team on board that worked well with the United Nations and Non Governmental Organizations while providing relief supplies.

The team on the Gunston Hall also coordinated with the Mexican Navy to bring supplies onto Killick from the ARM Huesteco. The Huesteco also provided medical teams for the Killick Coast Guard Station triage area. The US Marine group on board the Gunston Hall had planned to train with West African nations joined with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit increasing their capabilities as well.

When asked the officers all had a particular touching story to tell about care and survival for the Haitians. The first one involved the premature birth of a baby that was very unresponsive. Timing was perfect for a medical evacuation helicopter that was on the field and within one and half minutes the baby was enroute to the USNS Comfort hospital ship for critical care. Described as a “miracle” the baby survived and is doing well.

This is a fine example of how international cooperation can speed relief and improve the response of the nations involved. The USS Gunston Hall has made us very proud of her international crew! Thank you!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to this very interesting Roundtable with its international flavor please go to DoDLive!

Photo Credit: 100124-N-7948C-082 KILLICK, Haiti (Jan. 24, 2010) British Royal navy Cmdr. David Salisbury, right, the director of staff for Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, embarked aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), helps deliver donated goods from Mexico to more than a thousand people in a school yard in Killick. Gunston Hall was diverted from its Africa Partnership Station (APS) West mission to support Operation Unified Response following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martine Cuaron/Released)

Photo Credit: 100124-N-7948C-069 KILLICK, Haiti (Jan. 24, 2010) Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) 203, along with Sailors from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and the Mexican navy ship ARM Huesteco (AMP 01) deliver donated goods from Mexico to more than a thousand people in a school yard in Killick. Gunston Hall was diverted from its Africa Partnership Station (APS) West mission to support Operation Unified Response following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martine Cuaron/Released)

100122-N-8655E-567 KILLICK, Haiti (Jan. 22, 2010) Logistics Specialist 1st Class Michauli Martin, from Brooklyn, N.Y., assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), and Nigerian navy Capt. Adejimi Osinowo, assigned to the Africa Partnership Station West international staff, pass out bags of rice to Haitian civilians. Gunston Hall was diverted from its Africa Partnership Station West mission to assist in Operation Unified Response relief efforts for the victims of the Jan. 12 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelvin Edwards/Released)

Haiti Naval Task Force Commander - DoD Roundtable

The DoD Blogger Roundtable hosted U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Ted Branch, commander, Carrier Strike Group One aboard USS Carl Vinson off the coast of Port-au-Prince to discuss the overall naval effort to Operation Unified Response-Haiti. Admiral Branch said the effort of the sailors and marines has been outstanding and that they felt that it was “important work” and they did “make a difference in peoples’ lives”. He felt that it was “heartwarming” for those making contact with the Haitians to see their response and appreciation.

The ships engineer groups have been able to assist with infrastructure problems such as generators, wells, pumps, roads, etc to better provide resources and reduce the demand for supply in some cases. The Navy and Marines as of last night had flown 1,979 total sorties and 375 medevac missions with their CV-22s, CH-53, E-2s, C-2s and SH-60s. The Admiral’s Task Force has provided 1,182,300 pounds of relief supplies including 161 tons of food and 345,000 pounds of medical supplies since its arrival. The Marine CV-22s have taken on several missions including aerial reconnaissance, airlift of ground survey teams, medevacs and re-supply missions to Guantanamo Bay and back. Their higher speed and range allow them flexibility in the mission choices.

When queried about the length of the mission the admiral said, “the Carl Vinson is here till relieved”. He felt that their lessons learned made each better than the previous one and that the process on the ground is better. Their coordination with the Non Governmental Organizations, the Haitian government, international partners and JTF Haiti determined the best places for distribution of relief supplies, developed better communications and provided continued improvement of day to day support for the Haitian people. He gave a large list of NGOs they were working with including numerous missions groups. He praised the medical staff of the USNS Comfort which has treated 1,427 patients and completed 93 surgeries with 346 patients currently on board.

This is a great story of international cooperation and the capabilities of military forces to provide relief during natural disasters. Thank you Admiral and the sailors and marines under your command!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive!

Photo Credits: 100126-N-8655E-675 GRAND GOAVE, Haiti (Jan. 26, 2010) Haitian citizens and Sailors assigned to the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) shovel rubble and debris from the roads in Grande Goave, Haiti. Bataan, along with amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) are supporting Operation Unified Response, providing military support capabilities to civil after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelvin Edwards/Released)

Photo Credits: 100125-N-5345W-267 GRAND GOAVE, Haiti (Jan. 25, 2010) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Vilma Bauer, assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), examines a Haitian infant as her family looks on at the Lifeline Christian Ministries Mission medical clinic in Grand Goave, Haiti. Fort McHenry, along with the amphibious dock landing ships USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) are participating in Operation Unified Response as the Bataan Amphibious Relief Mission by providing military support capabilities to civil authorities to help stabilize and improve the situation in Haiti in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the area on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson/Released)

Photo Credits: 100115-N-6247V-055 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Rear Adm. Ted N. Branch, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, analyzes the Haitian terrain from a Sea Hawk helicopter. Rear Adm. Branch embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) arrived Jan. 15, to provide humanitarian aid and emergency assistance following the earthquake disaster of Jan. 12. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Candice Villarreal/Released)

Detainee Operations in Afghanistan - DoD Roundtable

U.S. Navy Vice. Adm. Robert S. Harward, commander of Joint Task (JTF) Force 435 located in Kabul, Afghanistan spoke to the DoD Bloggers Roundtable and answered questions concerning Detainee Operations in Afghanistan. JTF 435 was established by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on September 18 to assume responsibility for detainee operations in Afghanistan. The admiral arrived in Afghanistan in November and the Joint Task Force stood up on 7 January 2010!

The Task Force provides oversight of detainee review processes, programs for the peaceful reintegration of detainees into society, and coordination with other agencies and partners for the promotion of the rule of law in Afghanistan. The TF is leading the effort for a successful transition from US control of detainee operations to Afghan control which is a goal of Afghan President Karzai. They have developed a one year plan to transfer all detainee responsibility to the Ministry of Defense and Admiral Harward said he was “optimistic” that they would meet that timeline. In addition, he said the transition would later include transitioning the detainee program to the Afghan Ministry of Justice which would take more time.

The US is providing training, facilities and funding for the Afghan detainee program. One challenge for the Afghans has been to differentiate between criminals, hard line insurgents/jihadists and “accidental guerillas”. The new facilities and training will allow the Afghans to separate prisoners and provide appropriate prisoner education and reviews for release. The Department of Justice and Department of State and contractors under their purview have begun programs to help the Afghans as well. The admiral said the new combined system will allow a pipeline for training of corrections officers, barracks for guards and Afghan input into detainees. He shared a success story as well! The US has detained 3,000 prisoners and only 7 have been identified as returning to the battlefield. When queried by a blogger about access to the Red Cross he said “all prisoners under his command had access to the Red Cross”.

The Task Force is using lessons learned from Iraq, partnering with Afghan leaders and sending the right story is the challenge! The Admiral said he wants to get out the facts and begin “aligning perceptions with reality”. Thank for taking the time sir to help us better understand the new detainee program.

To see more articles on Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom please go to our Index of Articles on MilitaryAvenue.com which are chronological with the most current on top!

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive!

Photo Credit: 0930 100107-N-8273J-315 KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 7, 2010) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead, middle, and Rear Adm. Mark Handley, commander of 1st Naval Construction Division, right, meet with Vice Adm. Robert Harward, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) 435, left, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Roughead visited the Central Command area of responsibility to get a first hand look at the efforts in Afghanistan, meet with senior leadership and visit with Sailors and Marines in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst/Released)

"No Other Place They Would Rather Be" Kentucky Air National Guard 123d Contingency Response Group - DoD Roundtable

“No other place they would rather be” was the message that Lt. Col. Hilbrecht wanted me to tell his fellow Kentuckians and Americans! He is currently deployed to the Dominican Republic in support of Operation Unified Response, the humanitarian relief mission for Haiti. The Kentucky Air National Guard currently has about 50 members deployed including the 123rd Contingency Response Group in the Dominican Republic and members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron in Haiti.

Since last Friday, the Kentucky airmen have processed in excess of 575 tons of supplies at Baharona, Domincan Republic to include an emergency shipment of plasma that was delivered by air into Haiti. Special Tactics airmen have also assisted in emergency supply air deliveries into Haiti with U.S. Air Force C-17s. Combat controllers are used to working in locations devoid of functioning air traffic control. The 123d CRG is teaming up with other nations to form a joint command post (airbase) in the Dominican Republic at Baharona to help expedite additional aid for Haiti.

When the 123d CRG arrived the airfield had not been in use for 15 years and they brought everything to turn it into a 24 hour operation including generators, runway lights, set up a passenger facility (to keep folks out of the sun) and communications. Since they arrived and set up the airfield they have processed 52 C-17s and C-130s which are off loaded and transshipped by truck to Haiti. Lt Col Hilbrecht reported that the roads were good into Haiti but the closer you get to Port-au-Prince the worse they get. They have reduced the truck load weight to make it easier on the truckers and tires due to the conditions.

The colonel made a special note of the special medical cargo they have received that saved 6 lives and 20 women and children flown in by helicopter to their facility for medical attention. All are doing well and reflect the international effort to help the Haitian people during this disaster!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive! If you would like to keep up on blogs from Lt Col Hilbrecht go to the Kentucky National Guard blog, Unbridled Service!

Photo Credit: The 123rd CRG offloads humanitarian supplies from the Rhode Island Air National Guard. TSgt. Dennis Flora, 123rd Pubic Affairs

Photo Credit: A member of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, right, teams up with his active duty counterpart to establish a relief supply drop zone near Port au Prince, Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

Photo Credit: Supplies from a US Air Force C-17 parachute into a landing zone coordinated by Kentucky Air National Guard Special Tactics operators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

MY Deployment Story

Forewarning:  I know I have some MOPS friends that read the blog.  THANK YOU!  But if you haven't been to your MOPS meeting yet I kind of spell out my 'talk'.  You might not want to read this if you don't want to see it all spelled out before hand :)  (Our church is fortunate to have three chapters of MOPS ... I spoke for the first chapter and have two more to go.)

I DID IT!  I was nervous ... I worked over the course of the weekend (with some help from my mom, a retired Air Force wife) to get the words right ... I got up a little earlier than usual Monday morning ... I wore more makeup than I usually do ... (like more than just mascara and blush) ... I left the house 5-minutes earlier than planned(!) ... I walked into the room of fellow-Moms with confidence in my step and a smile on my face.

I think you, the spouse of a deployed service-member, would be proud!  I had a wonderful time telling the room full of MOPS-moms 'my story'.  I decided to take them back to where I had been while hubs was in Iraq.  I read a number of my deployment-posts, like a story.  I admit I took some pieces out of most posts, just as a matter of brevity.  If you would read to my own journey through deployment and what I shared with the ladies yesterday-morning:

Bumps, Bruises & Hugs  (April '08)
I'm Back (May '08)
Feeling Thin (August '08)
He's Coming Home! (January '09)
Happy (February '09)
Disney World (August '09)

These women don't *know* the military-lifestyle and I never have the intention of making my story sound like I am 'typical' - but then again I don't know that there is a 'typical' military-wife?!  While I read and shared my story I saw tears, I heard laughter, I even got choked up myself (while reading Deployment Troubles of a 5-year-old)... it's amazing that reading your own 'journal' can take you back in time *just like that*.

(BTW There are TONS of posts I couldn't read about my deployment experience... because of time... but if you would like to read more: http://militaryblog.militaryavenue.com/search/label/deployment)

I left them with three thoughts.  Three things that I hoped they could apply to their own lives:
  • Say It.  Don't Assume it.  I couldn't just give my husband the cold shoulder when he was in Iraq.  I had to actually type out my problems of the day.  Apply that to your day to day life:  Don't assume that he knows how you are feeling or what is running through your mind.  Say it.
  • The power of a journal.  As I was reading through my deployment blogs I was taken back with each word.  I was amazed at what I had learned over the course of a year.  Howe much I had grown as a person.  I encourage anyone to either journal (very personal) or blog (share it with friends & let them in your world).
  • God is the center of Hub's and my marriage.  Even with thousands of miles between us for a year our marriage still grew and our love for each other remained strong (if not stronger)!  Keep God and your faith as the center.
I will end this post with 'the beginning'.  I started my little Monday morning MOPS chat off with a video to show the pure joy a servicemember, military-spouse and their children feel when they return home.  I hope you enjoy it too!  (If you would like to place it on your own blog or website you can find embed information at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1FJ1ahyTZs)  

Thank you to all of our troops and their families for their service and sacrifice from MilitaryAvenue.com

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Clearing the Roads in Afghanistan the "Houn Dawg" Way - DoD Roundtable

The DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable met with Lt. Col. Tony Adrian and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Stuenkel of the 203rd Engineer Battalion, the Houn Dawgs, a Missouri Army National Guard unit. The battalion as currently manned in Afghanistan is primarily an Army National Guard unit with active Army and Army Reserve components. The Command Sgt Maj. Said they had had more volunteers than positions for the deployment and the Missouri Guard is manned at 112% of its end strength right now! The unit was deployed to Iraq twice prior to this deployment which started in October.

According to their press release, the Houn Dawgs have a proud history whose mission in Afghanistan is route clearance. As one of the most dangerous and important missions assigned to the United States Military, the Houn Dawgs' influence can be felt all across the region. Safety for those that travel the roads in Afghanistan is paramount, but is more than a mission for this battalion. "Our resolution is stronger than the enemy's, our equipment and training better than theirs, and we will not stop the taking the fight to them."

The unit is responsible for an area the size of West Virginia and has a find/clear ratio for IEDs of about 75% which varies based on location, geography, time and seasonal impacts (winter time travel is more difficult and less IEDs are placed as well). Lt Col Adrian said the key to their success and effectiveness was the platoon leaders who “have great instincts and think on their feet”. They use armored vehicles, optics, ground penetrating radar, electronic jammers and visual detection to identify the IEDs and monitor the Afghan population’s responses which can tell them who might be in the area. They also work closely with intelligence and maneuver forces to “Get Left of the Boom” which is an effort to reduce the number of IEDs before they are placed.

The folks at home are great supporters and the Command Sergeant Major said they were proud to be there and appreciate the support from family, friends, Missourians and all Americans. They really enjoy the mail and care packages they receive from home and the morale is high. I did note the attendance at the Roundtable of a blogger from the Joplin Globe. Roger asked some great questions and provided a local feel while talking to fellow Missourians in Afghanistan! Now that is local care and support!

Thank you to the men and women of the 203rd Houn Dawgs and of course their families who support them while they defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan! Your nation is grateful!

To see more articles on Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom please go to our Index of Articles on MilitaryAvenue.com which are chronological with the most current on top!

To listen to an audio tape or read a transcript of the Roundtable please go to DoDLive!

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo

The Aircraft Carrier, USS Carl Vinson is off Haiti - DoD Roundtable

During this afternoon’s DoD Blogger’s Roundtable U.S. Navy Capt. Bruce H. Lindsey, commanding officer, USS Carl Vinson explained the aircraft carrier's pivotal role for operations in support of Operation Unified Response (Haiti). A great opportunity to talk to the Captain while he was directing operations on the carrier located in Port-au-Prince bay area.

I am going to start off with a great story of technology and with a twist that will touch the hearts and souls of America. I asked the Captain to relay something to America that would in fact touch our hearts and he said he had a great one. A group in Grand Rapids, Michigan emailed the USS Carl Vinson and said they had been in contact with personnel on an island in the bay that needed help. Most of the focus of the relief efforts had been in Port-au-Prince and the interior of Haiti but this small island had received significant damage as well. The Vinson sent an aircraft to recon the island and then discovered an adequate landing zone for an SH-60 to land. The helicopter medevaced three casualties from the island due to the reach of a group from Michigan! Quite a story and yes it does touch our hearts. I am writing this blog about 20 miles south of Grand Rapids and I do not know the group who sent the email but I am amazed by their resourcefulness and care!

Another great story was the birth of “Baby Vinson” aboard the ship! I bet the medical personnel were not expecting to deliver babies or care for newborns during this deployment! The question for legal scholars will now become, is this an American citizen?

The Vinson had just left port on January 12th for a deployment with their normal aircraft when they were diverted to Haiti. Going at 30 knots plus to reach the area they passed Mayport Naval Station in Florida to disembark their F-18 fighters and embark more helicopters. They now have 19 CH-53s and SH-60s on board. The heavylift H-53s are doing great ship to shore relief work and the H-60s are the primary medevac aircraft due to their ability to land in the smaller landing zones. The Captain emphasized the excellent coordination being accomplished by the medical surgeon team with Gen Keen, the US commander of forces in Haiti. The on island medics do triage for injuries (mostly broken bones and head injuries) and assign the pickup location, helicopter type and hospital or ship destination. The USNS Comfort as a hospital ship is the primary care giver but only has two helicopter spots so some critical patients might be landed on the USS Carl Vinson, USS Nassau or USS Bataan with their additional medical capabilities and helicopter landing spots.

The Vinson’s helicopters have flown 60+ sorties a day for the last two days and today is expected to be about the same. With each sortie the helicopter crews accomplish 3-4 landings in different landing zones picking up patients, dropping of supplies, or delivering patients to medical facilities. The helicopter maintainers are doing a terrific job of keeping the sortie rate high with their efforts according to the Captain.

While responding to one question from a blogger Captain Lindsey said that the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)were providing a great service by connecting the Haitian people with the military resources. Their synergy creates a great team and shows the in depth efforts of the international team. The Vinson has Haitian language personnel on board who provide a link between the patients and the medical staff which they find very comforting. In addition they have 12 teams of 10 personnel that travel inland each day to help unload supplies at the landing zones and help load patients as well. A great effort from a great team on USS Carl Vinson! We are very proud of you and thank from America!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoD Live!

Photo Credit: 100121-N-8663Y-065 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 21, 2010) Doctors and hospital corpsmen aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) place an injured Haitian boy on a table for evaluation. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shentel M. Yarnell/Released)

Photo Credit: 100121-N-2953W-626 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 21, 2010) The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) operates off the coast of Haiti, launching helicopters to deliver supplies to parts of the island. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adrian White/Released)

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) Playing Critical Role in Haiti Relief - DoD Roundtable

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) has become a critical link in the logistics flow of supplies to Haiti in support of relief efforts. Located just 170 miles from Port-au-Prince the installation’s Task Force (TF) 48 commanded by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Patricia E. Wolfe Supply Corps has been established with a joint Navy and Army team. The admiral spoke to the DoD Blogger’s Roundtable this morning to provide insight into the mission and contribution of the Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, and the criticality of the logistical effort to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to Haiti.

The admiral noted that Cuba has opened its airspace to over flight allowing international relief flights easier access to GTMO. This has aided their efforts with 15-30 aircraft a day transiting their field. The TF with over 100 personnel provides transhipment of supplies from ship to air and air to ship and responds to requests for specific supply needs from the Haitian government through TF Haiti. Aircraft and ships arriving at GTMO include commercial, US military and other military. The Dutch amphibious vessel, Pelican, arrived yesterday and took on a Navy dive team and supplies bound for Haiti demonstrating the continued international cooperation.

The USS Carter Hall, another amphibious ship with direct delivery capability to the shore with much needed supplies will arrive tomorrow. The admiral stated that the pier capability to receive supplies in Haiti improves daily and that they expect to receive high speed ferries and cargo vessels at TF 48 for long term re-supply efforts in about 2 weeks. The internal distribution system in Haiti still remains a challenge for the entire country but is improving. Her biggest challenge is the sheer volume of supplies arriving and passing through GTMO.

I asked her about morale at TF 48 and she said the sailors and soldiers were extremely proud of their efforts and are working with smiles on their faces as they realize how critical their efforts are for the citizens of Haiti! A big thank you to Admiral Wolfe and her TF 48 team at GTMO! Sometimes forgotten in the background, the logisticians continue to make us proud of their exceptional efforts to help the people of Haiti!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive!

Photo Credit: 100121-N-8241M-007 GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (Jan. 21, 2010) A Sailor assigned to Task Force (TF) 48 moves pallets of relief supplies at the airfield at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). TF-48 is leading the joint logistics hub at GTMO in the effort to transport humanitarian relief supplies to support Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake cause severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Bill Mesta/Released)

USS Normandy Supporting Haitian Relief Efforts - DoD Roundtable

The Department of Defense hosted a Bloggers Roundtable this afternoon to continue the information flow about our efforts to assist the citizens of Haiti! The guests were U.S. Navy Capt. Jeffrey T Griffin, commanding officer of the USS Normandy and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hansen, officer-in-charge of HSL 46.

"USS Normandy (CG 60), an aegis cruiser, arrived off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jan. 17 to support Operation Unified Response. Immediately upon arrival pilots from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 46, stationed in Mayport, Fla. Began utilizing the two embarked SH-60B helicopters. So far the "Screaming Seagulls" of HSL 46 have transported personnel both for medical treatment and to support operations in addition to transporting food and water ashore. USS Normandy remains a ready platform for helicopter operations as well as providing air surveillance for the heavy air traffic in the area." (email from DoD).

According to Capt Griffin the Normandy was out of port in less than 15 hours and the third on scene after picking up its helicopter detachment at Mayport NS Florida. The ship's mission is to provide radar for the incoming aircraft to Port-au-Prince and has been placed 50-60 miles west of the port to be better aligned with the traffic flow. They provide their radar picture to the USS Carl Vinson, airborne E-2s and other resources to provide a safer flying environment for the arriving and departing aircraft. They also provide a platform for the 2 SH-60 helicopters on board for maintenance and crew support.

The SH-60s have flown more than 50 hours since arrival (4 days) which with my experience flying HH-60s in the Air Force is an extremely high fly rate and shows the dedication of the maintainers and flying crews! Nice job! They have delivered 600 cases of water, 800 cases of MREs, moved 100 international passengers and medevaced 17 personnel. Commander Hansen said the medical teams seem very well organized with specific missions for his crews that have been very effective. I asked him for a mission that had touched the crews and he said the medevac of an infant from a remote village to a hospital near Port-au-Prince was the one he would remember. An international aid worker escorted the mom and baby onto the aircraft to be flown to a hospital furthering demonstrating the international effort to care for the Haitian people who have seen their lives so dreadfully impacted by the earthquake.

Captain Griffin said that one of the USS Normandy sailors had family in Haiti and first heard of the deaths of an aunt and cousins but still had not heard from his mother, brothers or sisters. He just found out they were safe and obviously is beyond relief! I will try to get more information such as this to show the impact of the earthquake and the life saving efforts of our military, international aid organizations and others involved in the relief effort!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive.

Photo Credit: 100121-N-4124C-001 CANAL DU SUD (Jan. 21, 2010) Boatswain's Mate Seaman Recruit Duimel J. Marquez, from Guatemala, runs back to the helicopter hangar of the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) after placing a chock and chain on an SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Screaming Seagulls of Helicopter Anti-submarine squadron light (HSL) 46. Normandy is conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response in the aftermath of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Adam R. Cole/Released)

Photo Credit: 100117-N-4124C-003 CANAL DU SUD (Jan. 17, 2010) Boatswain's Mate Seaman Rueben Benders, from the Dominican Republic, guides an SH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter to land aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). Normandy is deploying to Haiti to participate in Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake cause severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Adam R. Cole/Released)

Shakin’ in my boots

Monday I will step out of my comfort zone. In a big way! I don’t do a lot public speaking. Strike that. I don’t do public speaking. But when I was called by an acquaintance earlier this Fall and asked to speak at a MOPS meeting about being a military-wife & mom how could I say no? I’m honored that this group of gals not only thought of ME to speak but that they want to hear about the “plight” of military-wives at all.

The meeting will start off with the usual coffee, breakfast and fellowship with fellow moms of preschoolers, toddlers and babies. Fellowship with adults: Something ALL moms need. Then it will be down to ‘business’. As I understand it the group is going to work on a KidsLink Downrange project, making cards for “military-brats” to send to their deployed dad or mom. The cards will all be bundled up and sent to Fort Bragg for distribution, according to the website.

The fun thing about this is we aren’t a military-town. There is a small Coast Guard station by us and quite a handful of us National Guard folk spattered throughout the area… but for the MOST part not many are affected in a real way by the deployments and stress of military-life. So I’m excited to share my story, in a very positive atmosphere. I’m excited to share the story of US Military wives around the world to a group of gals that don’t know our way of life, but are eager to listen. After all, “We use strength to carry us. Distance to mold us. Tears to soften us. Laughter to brighten us. Perseverance to humble us.” (Military Spouse Appreciation) And maybe a little bit of 'Shakin' in our boots' to grow-stronger.

I’ll have to let you know how it goes when all is said and done but in the mean time… prayers for a little serenity would be MUCH appreciated. :)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

PS ... As a mom of a little one are you looking to get out of the house and have face-to-face time with fellow moms? Find a MOPS group in your area. You won't regret it! Find out more about Military MOPS.

Air Flow into Haiti - US Air Force Mobility Forces - DoD Roundtable

The guests for today's Department of Defense Blogger's Roundtable were U.S. Air Force Col. John Romero, chief of Air Mobility Division for the 612th Air Operations Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, A.Z., and Lt Col Brad Graff of the 601st Air Operations Center at Tyndall Air Force Base. Col. Romero and Lt Col Graff provided an update of Air Force Southern Command’s ongoing support to the Haitian government and relief efforts—specifically--how airmen have been able to manage the flow of aircraft into Haiti, prioritize landing times based off current needs on the ground, and ensure the safe and efficient flow of relief supplies into Haiti.

"Since implementation of the Haiti Flight Operations Coordination Center, safe arrival capacity has increased to over 155 missions per day and no aircraft has been denied a landing time. Haiti landing or "slot" times are allocated based upon the Government of Haiti and US Agency for International Development established cargo priorities. Two-thirds of all landing times are issued to non-Department of Defense aircraft."

The Haiti flight operations coordination center, located at Tyndall Air Force Base, is coordinating the flow of air traffic into Port-au-Prince and airdrops into Haiti as well. They have coordinated 808 slot times for the international community since the Haitian government ask for help. The organization has has grown from 13 personnel and is not at 26. Their support/supervision at Davis Monthan AFB has been augmented from 20 personnel to 51 personnel with additional Guard, Reserve, active duty and an individual from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well! Air Mobility Command has placed a Director of Mobility Forces at Davis Monthan to assist the coordination as well!

In addition to the airflow into Port-au-Prince delivering humanitarian relief the Air Force had successful airdrops today. The C-17s dropped 40 bundles each of MRE's and water into two locations coordinated by the Haitian government for direct relief for the populations in those areas! Colonel Romero said they did a "fantastic job" and were right on target!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive.

Photo Credits: Master Sgt. Douglas Brook and Tech. Sgt Nicholas Wentworth, Air Force Special Operations Command, perform medical care to a Haitian man at the Toussaint L'ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18, 2010. The man was injured in the earthquake that rocked the country Jan. 12, 2010. The Airmen are certified emergency medical technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

Pallets of relief supplies exit a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft over Haiti Jan. 18, 2010. The C-17, crewed by Airmen from the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., departed Pope AFB, N.C., and delivered 40 pallets of food and water into Haiti. Joint Task Force-Haiti secured the area where the supplies were delivered. Once on the ground, supplies were distributed by JTF-Haiti, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other relief personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Forty pallets of relief supplies exit a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft over Haiti Jan. 18, 2010. The C-17, crewed by Airmen from the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., departed Pope AFB, N.C., and delivered 40 pallets of food and water into Haiti. Joint Task Force-Haiti secured the area where the supplies were delivered. Once on the ground, supplies were distributed by JTF-Haiti, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other relief personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Thankful Thursday: Sunny-Yellow Flowers

I am thankful for bright yellow-sunny flowers in the dead of winter; flowers from my wonderful husband for no apparent reason.  Funny, he came home for a little while yesterday during lunch and was just a little-snippy.  Not sure what was bothering him but his answers to my questions were short.  His patience was very lacking.

So what did I do in turn?  I didn't nag him.  I didn't get my undies-in-a-bunch.  I just let it go.  (I'm convinced that he sometimes gets a waft of my pregnancy-hormones ... and we all know what they can do to us girls ... well the mood-swing can be ten times worse for the dear husbands of pregnant women ;).)  He told me as he was leaving after lunch that he needed to run just a couple errands after work and asked if there was anything I needed.  I contemplated it.  Got a a silly grin on my face... and said "I'm sure there is SOMETHING I need but I just can't think of anything."

You see in my years of living with dear hubs I've learned that sometimes moods are just that ... moods... something that can come-quickly and leave just as quickly.  But my being upset that he was grumpy was not going to help the situation - and in fact, sometimes with a little silliness we can help each other come out of a blue-funk.

So at dinner time he walked in with flowers.  My favorite color flowers on a January day.  Not only do they brighten the room, but they brighten my heart.  He simply said that I said I wanted something and so he delivered.  Isn't he a good guy?!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The USS Bataan Performing Multiple Missions off Haiti - DoD Roundtable

The USS Bataan has begun ship to shore operations with assets from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit with their CH-53 and UH-1N helicopters. They have established a humanitarian relief distribution center near Port-au-Prince. The DoD New Media Directorate conducted a DoD Bloggers Roundtable Discussion with U.S. Navy Capt. Samuel Charles Henry Howard, commanding officer of the USS Bataan from his ship off the Haitian coast. Thank you Captain Howard for taking the time to tell us what your men and women were doing to support the relief efforts!

The Bataan medical staff now has 17 patients aboard the ship under their care. The medical staff as I reported earlier was expecting additional augmentees and 30 of the 87 augmentees have arrived. With the full complement of augmentees the number of medical personnel should reach approximately 117 and they will be able to use all four of their operating rooms. One of the survivors, a baby, has announced its presence and the sound of the child was extremely gratifying to the crew as they cared for it according to the Captain. Also, a 70 year old woman is being treated and resting well. The full range of injuries and ages are expected as they develop a medical triage system ashore for airlifting patients onto the Bataan and other medical capable ships.

The 22nd MEU relief distribution center ashore is being supported by helicopter operations off the Bataan's flight deck with surge type operations. The deck is normally manned for a ten hour flight window but the staff is working feverishly to keep the relief supplies flowing with extended operations through the night. The plan for delivering supplies from the Bataan with surface vessels is still on schedule but waiting for beach development for the landing craft to operate.

The Captain when asked about language issues stated that his team had enough French and French Creole speakers with the marines and sailors aboard. The on shore distribution center is using French speaker translators during their contact with the Haitian population as are the medics as they care for patients.

Again, thank you to LT Cragg of the DoD New Media Directorate and members of the DoD for this great opportunity to share directly with those involved in this relief operation! We are extremely proud of our service men and women and their efforts to save the lives of the injured, hungry and thirsty in Haiti!

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

If you would like to listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive for an audio transcript of the Roundtable.

Photo Credit: Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) carry bottles of water to load onto a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Julio Rivera

Air Force Reserve Response to the Haiti Crisis - DoD Roundtable

The DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable was hosted by LT Jennifer Cragg with Lt. Gen. Charles E Stenner Jr, Chief of the Air Force Reserve and Commander of the Air Force Reserve Command responding to questions about the role of the Air Force Reserve in "Unified Response", the military name for the response to the Haitian crisis.

The Air Force Reserve has responded with key airlift and mobility resources such as the C-17, MC-130, C-130 and C-5 aircraft; aerial port facilities at Homestead Air Reserve Base in southern Florida; 158 different job skills including public affairs, security, maintenance, aerial porters; and is responding to requests for Aeromedical evacuation and combat rescue resources. The general said the biggest challenge for the Air Force Reserve is "sustaining tempo" in the light of other worldwide commitments. So far, the forces have all been volunteers responding to the tragedy with their hearts in the battle for those in Haiti. The President has authorized a Presidential call up for 200,000 Reserve forces (from seven service components) but the authority has not been used yet as the military leadership determines the best course of action.

General Stenner said that additional airstrips and drop zones were being studied and prepared in Haiti to expand the airflow capability to get additional humanitarian supplies into the country. The Air Force Reserve has delivered 650,000 pounds of cargo, moved 240 passengers into the theatre and brought 1,600 US citizens out of Haiti on their aircraft.

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

If you would like to listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive for an audio transcript of the Roundtable.

Photo Credit: 01/18/2010 - A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft airdrops humanitarian aid into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and surrounding areas Jan. 18, 2010. The U.S. military is conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country Jan. 12, 2010. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr., U.S. Air Force/Released)

The USS Bataan's Medical Capabilities - DoD Roundtable

The Department of Defense (DoDLive) Bloggers Roundtable met with Cmdr. Melanie Merrick, USS Bataan Senior Medical Officer, Cmdr. William Wallace, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8 Officer-in-Charge and Lt. Cmdr. Seon Jones, FST 8 Surgeon to discuss the Bataan's medical capabilities off the coast of Haiti!

Cmdr Merrick said in an opening statement that it is an honor to provide medical services to the Haitians. The military medical community is responding and more assets continue to arrive. The Bataan arrived in the Port-au-Prince harbor yesterday and began ship to shore operations. Its medical team is providing care for assigned military and expecting augmentation today for its four operating rooms, 14 ICU and 38 ward beds. The 87 augmentees will provide 24 hour coverage for the medical facilities on board.

The USNS Comfort will arrive tomorrow morning with 1,000 beds and 600 medical personnel bringing the total medical for the US military in the area to 1,500.

For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).

Photo Credit: 01/18/2010 - Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a CNN medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon, and U.S. Navy surgeon Lt. Cmdr. Kathryn Berndt perform surgery on a 12-year-old Haitian girl with a severe head injury aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Jan. 18, 2010, while off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The sugeons removed a piece of concrete from the child’s brain after the girl was injured during an earthquake. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Relief after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael C. Barton/Released)

From Holiday Bliss to This!

There are a few events that bring families together. By that I am thinking the aunts, uncles, cousins, in laws and out laws. Holidays are my first thought. Plenty of food, drink, gaiety, laughter, a touch of sibling rivalry, bouts of testosterone surges, and wafts of whimsical play. Weddings are up there on the chart of reasons to share time outside of the house; again, most of the above interactions occur. Funerals pull the heart strings of loved ones to the center of one's grief but usually that center is showered with memories, joy in the idea of the deceased being pain-free, hope of eternal rest for the loved one. Holding family close and the knowledge of the infrastructure of our civilized world allows us to know that life will go on pretty much as 'usual'.

Now take a mind's step away to the island where Haiti is located. Holidays, weddings and even funerals have screeched to a rocky halt there. A country that was not vacation friendly in the first place has been ripped, thrown up in the air and tumbled into bedlam.

I listened in on a telephonic discussion last night with the commander on the ground and 23 other bloggers. The general sounded exhausted. Obvious that he is working longer hours than a body should. He has seen more horror, sorrow and disruption than anyone would think possible. Lt. General Keen was on Haiti when the earthquake occurred. There was no warning of course that the earthquake was coming. He stated that no work was set up to handle such an event. It just happened. His quarters were up a very short distance from the epicenter. He immediately went outside after the first tremor and could hear the screams of pain from people down below.

Imagine. I can't.

Within the shortest of time our military was there. We set up the airport. Set up communications in the airport. We began rescue procedures in an uninhabitable land. All services are present. All are doing exemplary work, honorable work, unimaginable work. Wow.
Families in Haiti are longing to be together, longing to know what joy will be marked on their calendars. Longing to know how to bury their dead and continue life. To say we have it good in this country is an understatement.

Our thoughts and prayers for our military fighting on man made battlefields and those fighting disease and time on the humanitarian battlefields are coveted. Continue to hold them up. Thank you for your support and continued appreciation for all that they do. So that others may live.

Haiti and the Military Response - DoD Roundtable

The Haitian crisis continues to receive world wide attention and the US military response continues to expand. We received an update during a Department of Defense (DoDLive) Bloggers Roundtable this evening with Lt General P. K. (Ken) Keen, Military Deputy Commander of US Southern Command providing an update on the disaster response. He has been designated Commander, Joint Task Force Haiti.

General Keen's comments included praise for the efforts of the international community responding to the crisis! The general highlighted the efforts of the US Air Force airmen at the only international airport. They have taken over operations at the airport to expedite air traffic flow. General Keen described them as the "the best airmen in the world" and they were the first US military on the ground when 100 airmen from the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, FL arrived within 24 hours of the quake. Their team has improved the air flow from 13 flights a day before the earthquake to 180 flights (without one delay) today! They have established slot times, prioritized traffic flow with the government of Haiti, gone to 24 hour operations and have aircraft turned and offloaded in 2 hours or less.

But the general did not stop there but included the efforts of the US Coast Guard helicopter rescue crews and cutters for their fast response and life saving efforts. Today, the US military delivered 233,000 bottles of water; 148,000 rations, 12,000 pounds of medical supplies and 16 water purification plants. There are numerous field hospitals enroute to support the Israeli and Argentinian ones in place and the USNS Comfort hospital ship as well! The USS Bataan has arrived as has the USS Carl Vinson with their Marine and Navy helicopters. Currently, there are 1,400 US military on the ground in Haiti and 5,000 afloat on Navy and Coast Guard ships in Haitian waters. Gen Keen believes that the numbers will grow to 4-5,000 on the ground and 10,000 afloat.

Thank you to General Keen for taking his time to speak with us this evening during an impossible schedule and effort to focus on saving Haitian lives! General our thoughts and prayers are with you and the Haitian people!

Here are some additional articles on the military response to the humanitarian need in Haiti since the 7.0 earthquake struck last week:
DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III

Photo Credits:

Photo Credit: Airmen take the first step in providing relief supplies to Haiti Jan. 14, 2010, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Together, they loaded bottles of water and other relief supplies on a C-17 Globemaster III in support of Haiti humanitarian relief operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Charles Russell)

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