So when our Navy point of contact in Bahrain stepped in to where the media were waiting for its helicopter ride to the USS Ponce, and said General James "Mad Dog" Mattis was suddenly slated to be aboard, the room picked up an energy it'd been lacking in the heat and delay just a moment before. "The Marines on the ground look at Mattis like a superhero," former Marine and BI writer Geoffrey says. "They love him."We all love him. Having worked with him remains one of the highlights of my very humble time in the service. Yea, he's that good. Just follow the photo spread ... it shows only 5% of the way the General can work a room. An equally good part of this article is at the end of the photospread, there is a link to a very thorough overview of what the PONCE is doing in the C5F AOR right now, and the people on her civilian and military;
Now listed as an Afloat Forward Staging Base, Interim — the former amphibious assault ship is the first U.S. floating base ever for military and humanitarian operations. These are the things I knew before I arrived on deck of the Ponce early Friday morning packed into a MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopter with about a dozen other people from the media, and a handful of Navy public affairs officers. ... rom what I saw, the military crew is in a state of constant training and readiness for mine countermeasures. From enlisted seamen in the well deck who told me they consistently train with anti-mine hardware, to oceanographers, who hold permanent positions that evaluate data picked up by sophisticated mine sweeping equipment. They do it all on a ship that's more than 40 years old, with what the Ponce's Captain Rogers told us was a modest $60 million worth of upgrades. To build a new ship to do the same thing, the Captain said, would cost billions. Capt. Rogers was good enough to allow us the run of his ship and personally guided us through spaces never before seen by the public.Follow the pictures from there as well. Very nice bit of journalism. Very well done by Robert Johnson.