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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 9, 2002


Advertiser Staff and News Services


USS O'Kane launches rocket

The Pearl Harbor-based guided missile destroyer USS O'Kane last month became the 25th Navy ship to fire a Vertically Launched Anti-Submarine Rocket, or VLA, since the weapon came into use in 1993.

Only two ships are selected to fire the missile each year — one from the Pacific Fleet and one from the Atlantic Fleet. The O'Kane found out six months ago it would be the Pacific Fleet launcher.

"Nobody on board had shot a VLA before," said Sonar Technician 1st Class Douglas Eller. "We had done plenty of simulations, but never an actual firing."

At about 8 a.m. on Aug. 23, a boat from Kaua'i's Barking Sands range launched an MK 30 submersible mobile target.

O'Kane crew members had to develop a firing solution, and after briefly losing contact with the target, the rocket-propelled torpedo was launched, and acquired the submersible.

"It really felt awesome when we finally launched," said Ensign Ben L. Higgins, an undersea warfare officer. "All of our hard work really paid off."


Filipinos for U.S. presence

The U.S. State Department's Office of Research released an "opinion brief" related to the U.S. military presence in the Philippines that found Filipinos are open to an expanded role for U.S. forces in the country.

The poll found that despite "high-profile criticism of American military exercises by prominent leftist/nationalist commentators," a majority of Filipinos welcome the presence of American troops.

Eight in 10 Filipinos believe that terrorism poses a threat to their nation, and most see the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf as the most serious threat, the brief said.

Although most gave their country high marks in combating terrorism, seven in 10 believe the Philippines needs foreign help, and most see the United States as the best partner.


Retention policy implemented

Assistant Secretary of the Army Reginald J. Brown has approved a new 12-month "stop-loss" policy in support of operations Noble Eagle — for homeland defense — and Enduring Freedom.

All of the services have implemented stop-loss policies, which prohibit service members with critical skills from leaving active duty.

Under the policy, soldiers generally would be allowed to request voluntary separation dates from the Army to be effective 12 months from one of the following conditions: expiration term of service separation date (for enlistees not retirement eligible), or end of current service obligation (for officers and warrant officers not retirement eligible).

For soldiers eligible for retirement after a stop-loss effective date, the request can be made for retirement to be effective 12 months after the retirement eligibility date.

If a retirement eligibility date is on or before a stop-loss effective date, soldiers can request retirement to be effective 12 months from the stop-loss effective date.