In the Military
For and about Hawaii's servicemen and women

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, July 28, 2002

See also: For Your Benefit

Bush taps Maj. Gen.
Dierker for Camp
H.M. Smith leadership

By Gregg K. Kakesako

President Bush has nominated Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Dierker for the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith. Dierker is currently assistant chief of staff in the Operations Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in Casteau, Belgium. He replaces Lt. Gen. Tom Case who retired.

Dierker entered the Air Force in 1972 after being honored as a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a command pilot with more than 2,400 flying hours, primarily in tactical aircraft, and is a master parachutist with more than 130 military jumps.

When the destroyer USS Fletcher leaves Pearl Harbor this month, it will embark on the longest sea voyage of its career. It will be joining the Washington-based USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group, which will be gone for six months, but the Fletcher will be on a deployment that will end with its decommissioning 18 months from now.

The Fletcher will be swapping crews as part of a test to keep a warship at sea longer. The current Pearl Harbor crew will leave the warship six months from now and be replaced by a crew from the USS Kinkaid. The crew switches will let the Navy keep its promise to sailors that they will not be deployed for more than six months at a time.

Also assigned to the battle group will be the destroyer USS Paul Hamilton, the frigate USS Crommelin and the nuclear submarine USS Honolulu, all based at Pearl Harbor.

The Lincoln will be equipped with the Navy's new F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter jets and on their first deployment.

For the third time, the U.S. House last week passed a bill that expands burial eligibility at Arlington National Cemetery to include reservists who die on duty. Two other attempts have died in the Senate because of support by many senators for current rules that allow burial of non-veterans who have made important contributions to the nation.

Under the House bill, two classes of reservists, who now cannot be allowed to be buried at Arlington except by waiver, would be covered. These are National Guard and reserve members who have completed the amount of service needed to qualify for military retired pay but have not yet reached age 60, when they can start drawing the pay. The second category would be Guard and reserve members who die during military training.

Army Maj. Gen. William Ward, former 25th Infantry Division commander, has been nominated for his third star and assigned as the commander of the Stabilization Force for Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia. Ward is now vice director for operations on the Pentagon's Joint Staff. He headed the Tropic Lightning division from July 1999 to November 2000.

The Army has received the first pre-production Stryker Mobile Gun System from General Dynamics in Michigan. The 19-ton eight-wheeled armored vehicle is a key part of the Army's transformation process to become a lighter force. It will be made in 10 different types of platforms, of which the mobile gun is one. These include: nuclear, chemical and biological reconnaissance; anti-tank guided-missile launching, medical, mortars, engineer squads, infantry squads, command groups and fire support teams. The vehicles can run at more than 60 mph on a highway and have common parts.

In November 2001, the Army awarded a six-year $4 billion contract to a joint venture between General Motors and General Dynamics Land Systems to equip the six planned Interim Combat Brigade Teams, now known as Stryker Brigades, with 2,131 Stryker armored vehicles. One of the brigades will be at Schofield Barracks. The mobile gun carries a 105mm tank cannon which was used on the M1 and M60 tanks.

Moving Up

Coast Guard

>> Cmdr. Robert Diehl has assumed command of the Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit relieving Cmdr. Matthew Cutts who will become chief of the Coast Guard First District Planning Branch in Boston.

Schofield Barracks

>> Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby has become the assistant 25th Division commander for operations relieving Col. John Woods who became deputy director for operations at the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C.

Hickam Air Force Base

>> Col. Paul Bethke assumed command of the Army Central Identification Laboratory relieving Col. David Pagano who retired.

Gregg K. Kakesako can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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