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Around the Force

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A spot check of events happening in the military

Navy ship sent to Black Sea
to assure allies of commitment

American Forces Press Service
The USS Donald Cook was scheduled to arrive in the Black Sea as part of the U.S. commitment to mutual goals in the region, a Pentagon spokesman said April 9. Col. Steven Warren explained the Navy vessel’s mission as one to reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners of America’s commitments. The colonel noted that while in the Black Sea, the ship will participate in exercises and operations to improve interoperability, readiness and enhance relationships. The vessel left Norfolk, Va., Jan. 31 as the first of four Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers to be stationed in Rota, Spain, to enhance security in the European region.
Tanker ship joins task force search for missing flight
Navy News Service
The 7th Fleet supply ship USNS Cesar Chavez April 10 joined an international task force led by the Australian Defense Force searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 off the Western Coast of Australia.
The U.S. 7th Fleet deployed Chavez in response to a formal Joint Operations Command request to the U.S. Pacific Command for tanker support. Deployment of the dry cargo/ammunition ship speaks to the U.S. Navy’s enduring commitment to allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and the ability to respond rapidly where it matters, when it matters. In the coming days Chavez is scheduled to conduct underway replenishment operations with Australian naval ships actively searching for MH370, including HMAS Success, HMAS Perth and HMAS Toowoomba. Chavez is the U.S. Navy’s newest combat logistics force ship which is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. These ships also have a complement of 11 U.S. Navy sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination. Prior to setting sail for the remote waters of the southern Indian Ocean, Chavez loaded provisions and fuel in Singapore. There, a U.S. Navy logistics team assigned to Logistics Group Western Pacific and Military Sealift Command Far East worked with the Royal Australian Navy Liaison Office to load supplies and fuel destined for Australian ships. U.S. Pacific Fleet is also supporting the search operation with two P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft, a Towed Pinger Locator hydrophone and an autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 side-scan sonar.
Military commission in recess due to FBI questioning
American Forces Press Service
Military commission proceedings for five suspects in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States went into recess Monday morning after a defense attorney said the FBI questioned a member of his team about the suspects. The proceedings began Monday at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and a video feed to Fort Meade, Md., allows reporters to cover the commission.  James Harrington, attorney for defendant Ramzi Binalshibh, introduced the FBI investigation at the start of the four-day hearing. The hearing was set to examine whether Binalshibh is mentally capable to stand trial. The proceedings were expected to resume Tuesday.
Joint Chiefs of Staff senior
advisor visits Sailors in Florida

American Forces Press Service
The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Sailors on Naval Station Mayport, Fla., to discuss the base’s strategic home-porting and recapitalization plans and advise the Sailors about transition assistance resources. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia completed the first of a two-day command tour at the third-largest fleet concentration in the U.S. He commented on the growth of the station as refreshing after so many conversations about base realignment and closures.
Prisoner of War, Missing in Action commands may merge
Department of Defense
A senior Defense Department official visited two DoD personnel accounting facilities last week as part of the ongoing dialogue about the department’s recently announced personnel accounting enterprise reorganization. During his April 9-11 trip, Michael Lumpkin, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, spoke with Joint Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command staff members during a town hall meeting, and he fielded questions about the reorganization. He highlighted the importance of the personnel accounting mission to the department, and how everyone involved in the recovery and identification of unaccounted-for Americans lost in conflicts remains steadfast and committed. He stressed that the personnel accounting mission is a top priority for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The reorganization calls for merging JPAC, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the JPAC satellite laboratory in Nebraska and the Life Science Equipment Laboratory in Ohio. By pulling the organizations together, Lumpkin said, he hopes to “rebrand, refocus and re-emphasize” the mission.