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Rod Powers

Rod's US Military Blog


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Boston Marathon Shadow Run

Monday April 21, 2014

Shadow Boston Winners

A Department of State staffer was the top finisher in the Boston Marathon Shadow Run held in east Afghanistan during the early morning hours April 18. The event was hosted by the Watertown- based, 10th Mountain Division according to Syracuse.com.

More than 500 service members and civilians deployed to Afghanistan competed in this year's event. Josh Peterson covered the 26.2 mile course in 2 hours, 39 minutes for a first place finish.   Captain Daniella Mestyanek, of Houston, was the first place in the female division. Mestyanek, a member of the Task Force Lift, ran 3 hours, 12 minutes.

The Boston Athletic Association has assisted the shadow marathons by providing Boston Marathon start and finish banners, bibs, T-shirts, medals, and finisher certificates for participants.  This is the last Boston Marathon Shadow Run affiliated with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Military Child Month

Monday April 14, 2014

April is the Month of the Military Child. It's a time to remember that military children serve and sacrifice too. Every move is yet another adjustment. Saying goodbye to old friends and making new ones is the routine.

The Defense Department believes military children serve their country alongside their service member parents. When military children serve, they do so by making sacrifices when parents are deployed, through frequent moves, starting new schools and making new friends on a continuing basis.

To honor military children for their sacrifices and service, DOD and the services have planned activities this month that range from installation-based fairs, parades, and literacy and art events.

We want to use this month to not only acknowledge how strong military children are, but to also focus on supporting them through the struggles they encounter due to the lifestyle that comes with being a part of the military. These children are our future.

Animals and the Military

Friday April 11, 2014

Perhaps you've seen the story in the news - on one occasion or another, a member of the military serving overseas is highlighted as trying to bring home kittens or puppies that were found and adopted.  Soldiers report that these dogs and cats provide them with much-needed comfort and companionship during military conflicts. Many military personnel serving in Iraq in the early 2000s found that they wanted to adopt the strays they had grown to love.

Over the years, hundreds of animals have been used United States military - not simply dogs, but horses, camels, pigeons, and chickens (to name a quick few) - and, of course, the Navy has used marine animals such as dolphins and sea lions.  All branches of the military have used animals in one way or another, be it as a mascot, or an actual working animal.

For more about the military and it's mascots head over to our latest article Animals and the Military - a brief ramble.

Marine Connects with Sign Language Skills

Monday April 7, 2014

Marine Corps Cpl. Parnell Sararana, standing left, signs to students while Air Force Staff Sgt. Jon Espinoza reads aloud at the Stella Maris School Belize Academy for the Deaf in Belize City, Belize, April 4, 2014.

Marine Corps Cpl. Parnell Sararana put his Universal Sign Language skills to use  April 4 as he translated while Air Force Staff Sgt. Jon Espinoza read aloud at the Stella Maris School Belize Academy for the Deaf according to a Department of Defense News Article.

Sararana is deployed from the 1st Civil Affairs Group at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in support of New Horizons Belize 2014, an exercise in which U.S. service members train with Belizean professionals in engineering and medical care. The civil affairs role in the exercise is to engage with the local population, as well as government and nongovernment organizations, to facilitate the best possible environment to build educational and health facilities and provide medical, dental and veterinarian care throughout the country.

Stella Maris is one of three schools in Belize City to receive new facilities from the Belizean military's light engineer company and the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps civil engineers. The interaction offered both students and teachers a different perspective of service members outside the construction at the school.

Naval Forces More Critical Than Ever, Navy Secretary Says

Thursday March 27, 2014

The ever-changing global security environment makes the worldwide presence of naval assets more important than ever, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 27, according to the Defense.gov website.

Stating that the military forces were our  biggest advantage, he said  we have to make sure they continue to get the tools they need to do their jobs. Sea Pay has been increased to make sure that sailors and Marines deployed aboard ship are appropriately recognized.

Mabus said shipbuilding and other platforms remain key elements of maritime power.

Mabus said the fiscal year 2015 budget submission seeks to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with the necessary equipment, training, and tools needed to carry out the services' missions as expected.

Mabus lauded the courageous and faithful service of his sailors, Marines, civilians and their families. "There are never any permanent homecomings for sailors or Marines," he said. "In peacetime, in wartime, and all the time, they remain forward deployed, providing presence, and providing whatever is needed by our country. This has been true for 238 years, it is our task to make sure it remains true now and in the future."

Another Social Medial Warning for Soldiers

Monday March 24, 2014

A Coast Guard member is under scrutiny after he posted derogatory remarks about Alaska Natives on a Facebook page, and possible actions are being considered in response. The commander of the Coast Guard Base Kodiak,  issued a formal apology, which also was posted on Facebook. The apology said the member's command has been notified and will decide how to deal with him, several different options are possible, including amending the personal data record or pursuing a military justice process.

It is  an honor to wear the uniform of the United States Armed Services.  It is also your responsibility  to represent your uniform and  country in an honorable way, EVEN on Social Media.

Recreational activities - thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers

Tuesday March 18, 2014

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) is a Combat Arms Branch which also has combat support and combat service support roles. Its missions encompass military and civil engineering and the related planning, organization, training, operation, and development. But did you know that the CoE is the nation's leading federal provider of high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the general public?

The CoE operates more than 2,500 recreation areas and leases an additional 1,800 site.  You can find out more about recreational facilities via the CoE in the article Recreational Activities-Thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers.

2014 Military Basic Housing Allowances

Monday March 17, 2014

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) provides uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets within the United States when government quarters are not provided. The 2014 BAH rates took effect January 1, 2014 with an increase of an average 5.0% or $75 to $80 for Basic Allowance Housing. This is the largest increase in 5 years, .08 higher than anticipated and higher than the 3.8% increase last year.

BAH amounts are determined by location, rank, and whether or not the member has dependents. You can now view the rates for different localities, ranks and dependent status at 2014 Military BHA Rates- Main Menu.

Bringing in the BIG Guns

Tuesday March 11, 2014

The U.S. Army is bringing in the really, really big guns.

Regular units will soon be issued a Swedish-built "recoilless" rifle that can fire an 84-mm. projectile nearly a mile and has the power to take out a tank. The 15-pound guns, which soldiers hold just above the shoulder to fire, were previously only issued to Special Forces. But after soldiers in Afghanistan repeatedly complained that insurgents were wise to the limitations of their M-16 rifles, the Pentagon has decided to make the Swedish-made Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS)-- or the M3 Carl Gustaf for short-- standard issue.

According to an article by  Perry Chiaramonte, the guns, which are equipped with a night-vision scope that runs alongside the massive barrel, will allow soldiers to "fix and destroy enemy targets day or night at ranges up to 1,250 meters."

These guns are a game changer for the American Warfare!

New Senate Bill to Combat Military Sexual Assaults

Monday March 10, 2014

The Senate headed toward an overwhelming vote Monday in favor of big changes in the military justice system to deal with sexual assault, including scrapping the nearly century-old practice of using a "good soldier defense" to raise doubts that a crime has been committed.

A bipartisan plan  would impose a half-dozen changes as Congress tries to combat the pervasive problem of rape and sexual offenses that Pentagon leaders have likened to a cancer within the ranks.

According to the Associated Press, the new legislation would change the military rules of evidence to prohibit the accused from using good military character as an element of his defense in court-martial proceedings unless it was directly relevant to the alleged crime. The "good soldier defense" could encompass a defendant's military record of reliability, dependability, professionalism and reputation as an individual who could be counted on in war and peacetime.

The measure also would give accusers a greater say in whether their cases are litigated in the military system or civilian and would establish a confidential process to allow alleged victims to challenge their separation or discharge from the military. In addition, it would increase the accountability of commanders and extend all changes related to sexual assault cases to the service academies.


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