TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online.
Sunday, Oct 23, 2016
Military News

Altman: Troops can meet four-star McRaven face to face via Web

It's not every day that a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine gets to talk to a four-star officer, especially one like Adm. William McRaven, who runs U.S. Special Operations Command. So Thursday won't be just any day for special operations forces and their families. McRaven, who has made taking care of the force and their families a top priority, will hold a first-ever "virtual town hall," joining with his wife, Georgeann, to take questions via YouTube. The time is 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, at Facebook.com/ussocom.
Last year, McRaven talked about how, after more than a decade of war, special operations forces were "frayed." One of his first priorities was launching something called "Preservation of the Force and Families," an initiative to help frequently deployed troops and their families cope with the intense pressures of warfare and separation. "The commander is well-aware of the expanding reach of social media, and will use these platforms to ensure he reaches as many family members as possible," according to Gunnery Sgt. Ryan O'Hare, a spokesman for the command. McRaven plans to host the events quarterly, said O'Hare, making the command sergeant major and others available. Count retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey among those with a dire prediction for the future of Afghanistan. A few weeks ago, McCaffrey, who now runs the consulting firm McCaffrey Associates, released his assessment of things to come, called "Withdrawal Under Pressure: Afghanistan 2013-2014. The Coming Civil War." Among his findings and questions: You can read the nine-page report in its entirety at www.mccaffreyassociates.com. Shoutouts to the winners of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce annual Military Appreciation Awards. Army Officer of the Year: Major Rhonda L. McRae Air Force Officer of the Year: Lt. Col. Shawn Patrick Walrath Reserve Officer of the Year: Air Force Maj. Zachary Glen Davidson Army Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Bitwinski Marine Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Staff Sgt. Damon Cecil Navy Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Intelligence Specialist Second Class Nicanor P. Mendoza III Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Danell G. Hall Coast Guard Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Yeoman Third Class Amanda L. McKillip Reserve Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Tom Lehmann Department of Defense Employee of the Year: Jay Kent University of South Florida ROTC Cadet of the Year: Cadet Elizabeth S. Stevens University of Tampa ROTC Cadet of the Year: Cadet Bryana Hedgepeth Business Partner of the Year: AT&T Military Affairs Council Bob Cutler Volunteer Award: Brig. Gen. David M. "Tanker" Snyder (Ret.) JROTC Essay Contest Winner: Thapani Sawaengrsi After a month of no deaths, the Pentagon last week reported one death in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Jonathan D. Davis, 34, of Kayenta, Ariz., died Feb. 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 32nd Georgian Liaison Team, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. There have now been 2,163 deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation's longest war.

haltman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7629