Military News

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Guard Aids New Orleans Evacuation, Braces for Storm Mission

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2008 - With the full force of the
Louisiana National Guard activated, more than 7,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen are assisting local authorities with evacuation and security efforts in New Orleans and performing dozens of other missions across the state as Hurricane Gustav approaches. As the Guard and the state brace for the powerful storm, each day brings new challenges that all agencies involved must work together to overcome. "Louisiana citizens and our governor needed the Guard, and we were there immediately, redirecting hundreds of troops to assist New Orleans with their evacuation plan," Army Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, Louisiana's adjutant general, said.

Guard soldiers began patrolling the streets of
New Orleans yesterday, assisting with security as the area began evacuating citizens. They were scheduled to begin helping the state police with "contraflow" operations today, a process that converts normally inbound roads to handle outbound evacuation traffic.

About 400 National Guard soldiers and airmen are driving buses, transporting citizens to shelters across the state.

In other areas, convoys carrying more than 900 soldiers from the 225th Engineer Brigade arrived in Lake Charles, Napoleonville, Iowa, Breaux Bridge, Lake Charles and Rayne yesterday to assist civil authorities with evacuation and security of citizens moving from southwestern
Louisiana on contraflow routes.

"One of our greatest strengths is that we are citizen-soldiers and live in the communities we serve, Landreneau said. "We are able to transition from our civilian careers to military roles quickly when called upon."

The activation of the 225th Engineer Brigade calls into service soldiers who are responsible for boat search-and-rescue missions, engineer assessment teams that will deploy to support coastal parishes, security teams and contraflow support.

As the Louisiana Guard activation has reached full potential, officials have called on sister states to support additional requirements created by Gustav's landfall, expected tomorrow afternoon. Battalions from Kentucky and Tennessee and 28 aircraft arrived in
Louisiana yesterday, thanks to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a mutual-support agreement among states.

A Guard military intelligence battalion already serving in hurricane operations has provided a Spanish-speaking soldier to relocate to
New Orleans and assist residents in understanding instructions being given by the governor and other agencies.

In an advisory issued at 1 p.m. EDT today, the National Weather Service said Gustav was 270 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving toward the northwest at 17 mph. Though maximum sustained winds had dropped to 115 mph with higher gusts, forecasters said, it could regain Category 4 status tonight or tomorrow. A Category 4 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 131 to 155 mph.

Governor Calls Louisiana National Guard to Full Operational Status

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 30, 2008 - As 1,500 National Guard members arrived in
New Orleans yesterday to support the city's police department and assist in executing civil support missions, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the activation of all available remaining Louisiana National Guard forces to assist with emergency operations in preparation for Hurricane Gustav. With the newly activated troops coming on board today, the total of Louisiana Guard members activated reaches 7,000.

Gustav, which grew to a Category 3 hurricane overnight, is bearing down on western Cuba today with sustained winds of more than 120 mph, and is expected to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast late Sept. 1 or early Sept. 2.

The Guard troops who arrived in
New Orleans yesterday will safeguard homes and businesses during evacuation and instill confidence in the citizens, state Guard officials said.

The state's adjutant general assured residents of a response to Gustav that's based on lessons learned three years ago, when back-to-back hurricanes struck the region.

"The
Louisiana National Guard is fully prepared for a hurricane disaster and has improved reaction times, communication and equipment resources by learning from hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Army Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau said. "Throughout the year, the Louisiana National Guard, in coordination with other state and local agencies has conducted numerous statewide emergency response exercises testing capabilities, and validating plans to improve overall efficiency and reaction time. These coordinated efforts were and continue to be crucial to our current success."

As state forces in
Louisiana have reached a full operational capability status, neighboring states are preparing assets in the event they are needed as well.

The
Louisiana National Guard has requested additional aviation assets and personnel through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact -- a mutual-support agreement -- to assist with meeting potential mission requirements, with the Arkansas National Guard responding and moving into place.

Headquarters 1-114th Aviation Battalion of North Little Rock, Ark., is sending 44 personnel to Esler Field in Pineville, La., to fill in for Louisiana's 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion of the 204th Theater Airfield Operations Group, currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Other neighboring states also have National Guard forces ready to deploy if additional support is needed, officials said.

(From a
Louisiana National Guard news release.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Program Ensures Reserve Component Medical Readiness

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - The Reserve Health Readiness Program ensures that reserve-component servicemembers have the ability and access to meet their deployment requirements, the program's director said yesterday. "The program was designed to supplement the reserve component readiness mission, and to add another resource that they could tap into to have these services done so they could satisfy their deployment requirements,"
Navy Cmdr. Diedre Presley, program manager of the RHRP, said during a "Dot Mil Docs" radio program on BlogTalkRadio.com.

The RHRP has a provider network that provides a wide range of medical, dental and behavioral health services, using a nationwide network of about 45,000 private providers of various disciplines. Since the beginning of the year, the RHRP has provided more than 151,000 services.

Presley said the RHRP provides immediate access to a program that service components can tap into to get these services done, especially when troops are being mobilized on a daily basis.

"It is also a tool for the service components to increase their individual medical readiness and to make sure they have a staff that is ready to deploy at any time," she added.

RHRP services include physical examinations, dental examinations and X-rays, dental treatment, immunizations, vision services, audio services, laboratory services, occupational health services, vaccine storage and distribution and other services required to satisfy the service components' readiness needs, Presley said.

"These services are delivered through two channels. Services can be provided in clinics, where we will send that servicemember within 50 miles of a designated ... work or home location, and they will go into an actual provider in their local area," she explained. "We can actually send teams out to a particular location to do a [Servicemembers Readiness Program] or a group event where we will send a team out that is customized depending on the services particular units require."

Presley said sending teams out to units is not a new capability, but what is new is the capacity to plus up the number of team members sent out to a particular unit.

"We're now able to either plus up that team or minimize that team, depending on how many servicemembers actually need to be serviced during that time," Presley said. "We can send a team out that services 30 servicemembers, or we can send a team out that services 100-plus servicemembers."

This ability is available to servicemembers in the continental United States,
Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Germany.

The large provider network is composed of trained and accountable providers who have been brought up to speed on all of the service component requirements, Presley said.

Once called the Federal Strategic Health Alliance Program, RHRP was created in 2007 to acknowledge the expansion and enhancement of the services and to recognize the program's movement from the Department of Health and Human Services federal occupational health function to the Defense Department's office of force health protection and readiness.

The change also provides services such as periodic health assessments, post-deployment health reassessments and individual medical readiness services to the active component, Presley said.

"We were also able to add some flexibility into the RHRP program that reduced the minimums required for scheduling services," she added.

(
Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 28, 2008

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

ExxonMobil Fuels marketing Co., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a maximum $84,669,874 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel oil, diesel fuel and gasoline. Using service is
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and US/NATO personnel. There were originally seven proposals solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-9410).

Eni S.P.A. Refining & Marketing Division, Rome Italy is being awarded a maximum $83,994,105 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel oil, diesel fuel and gasoline. Using service is
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and US/NATO personnel. There were originally seven proposals solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-9411).

Mabanaft Deutschland GMBH, Kassel, Germany*, is being awarded a maximum $25,051,905 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are in Germany. Using service is
Army. The original proposal was web-solicited with six responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va.,(SP0600-08-D-9405).
Valentin Gas W. Oel GMBH & Co., KG, Mainz*, is being awarded a maximum $8,010,833 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are in Germany. Using service is
Army. The original proposal was web-solicited with six responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va.,(SP0600-08-D-9407).

Georg Schart, Amberg, Germany*, is being awarded a maximum $6,134,798 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel oil, diesel and gasoline. Other locations of performance are in Germany. Using service is
Army. The original proposal was web-solicited with six responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-9406).

World Fuels Americas dba Trans-Tec, Greenwich, Conn., is being awarded a maximum $47,378,119 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuels. Other locations of performance are in Va., Fla.,
Texas and La. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 55 proposals solicited with 18 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va.

Air Force

Dell Marketing L.P., of Round Rock,
Texas, is being awarded a contract for $5,599,256. The objective of this award is to procure Symantec Software licenses and original equipment manufacture consulting support. The Combat Information Transport System program office deployment of Block 30 network management/network defense systems includes deploying the Symantec Mail Security, Netback up, and Command Central Storage licenses at Air Force locations worldwide. The location of performance is Dell Marketing L.P., Round Rock, Texas. At this time $5,599,256 has been obligated. Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA8771-05-A-0301).

Battelle Memorial Institute, of Columbus, Ohio, is being awarded a contract for $9,984,489. This contract action will provide an extensive chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear knowledge base is required to identify and analyze chemical and biological defense archival information and make it available to the entire Chemical Biological Defense community. The location of performance is Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio. At this time $1,062,802 has been obligated. Offutt
Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-00-D-3180).

Today the
Air Force is a exercising an option with Call Henry, Incorporated, of Titusville, Fla., for $6,922,868. The action is a launch operations support contract. This contract provides management, modification, and modernization for aging facility, property and western range support equipment to ensure successful performance during tests, operations and launch. The LOSC program will satisfy the requirement for radi, reliable, economical and secure maintenance and operation service. These services include periodic maintenance, operation, and repair of various infrastructure, and mandatory certification, maintenance, operation, and repair of various infrastructure, and mandatory certification, maintenance, and operations of facility property and equipment (e.g. alarms, cranes and hoists, elevators, generators, mechanical, pressure vessels, structural, towers, utilities) which support critical mission requirements. This is the fourth option to be exercised out of five. The location of performance is Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; California Coastal Sites, (Pillar Point, Anderson Peak, and Santa Barbara); and the following Hawaii locations; Wheeler Army Base, Ewa Beach, Kaena Point and Molokai, Hawaii. At this time money has not been obligated. Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity. (F04610-04-C-0004).
Navy

Harris Corp., Government Communications Systems Div., Melbourne, Fla., is being awarded a $53,061,171 cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0130) for the procurement of 11 AN/ARQ-58 Aircraft Terminal Equipment (ATE) sets and 3 AN/ARQ-58 spare ATE sets for the MH-60R helicopter program, and 5 AN/SRQ-4 (ku) radio shipboard terminal sets for surface combatant ship classes CG-47, DDG-51, and FFG-7. Work will be performed in Melbourne, Fla., (63 percent) and Wayne, N.J., (37 percent), and is expected to be completed in Aug. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Services, Inc., Marlton, N.J., is being awarded a $43,387,937 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for engineering, technical and programmatic support for maintaining and updating simulations and intelligence data bases for the EA-6B and EA-18G aircraft. In addition, this contract provides support for the transition of the EA-6B mission to the EA-18G. Work will be performed in Camarillo, Calif., (67 percent); at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Pt. Mugu, Calif., (37 percent); and Virginia Beach, Va., (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in Aug. 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $129,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-08-D-0027).

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz., is being awarded a $40,712,276 modification under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-C-2052) for CapSet II add/delete components and procure nine Combat Operations Center (COC) systems including 18 common ,modules and 36 Capability Set IIs. The CapSet II, COC system is an integrated, mobile, command and control center consisting of shelter, power, cabling, processing systems, and trailers. Work will be performed in Scottsdale, Ariz., and work is expected to be completed Jul. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The
Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio,
Texas, is being awarded a $25,660,046 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with provisions for the issuance of cost-plus-fixed-fee (level of effort and completion) task/delivery orders to provide specialized technical and engineering support services for Navy's identity management development and operations capability and other anti-terrorism/force protection programs. Work will be performed in San Antonio, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Aug. 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured; it is a sole source procurement. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity (N00178-08-D-3007).

Bell Helicopter Textron, Fort Worth,
Texas, was awarded on Aug. 28, 2008, a $24,836,648 firm-fixed-price delivery order under a previously awarded contract (W58RGZ-06-G-0003) in for spares used on the H-1 aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and work is expected to be completed by Dec. 2011. Contract funds will expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics, Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded an $18,500,000 modification to the previously awarded contract (N00024-96-C-2100) for the execution of the USS Hawaii (SSN 776) post shakedown availability. Work will be performed in Groton, Conn., (99 percent) and Quonset Point, R.I., (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by Mar. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Supervisor of Shipbuilding Conversion and Repair, Groton, Conn., is the contracting activity.

Kalman & Co., Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., is being awarded $14,125,627 for task order #0016 under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-03-A5158). The scope of this effort is to provide business and analytical support to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense systems. Objectives of this initiative include risk analyses supporting enterprise-wide efforts and current programs of record, leading to concise business case analyses that identify cost and performance projections, schedule impacts, and sustainment/ lifecycle considerations. Work will be performed in Falls Church, Va., and work is expected to be completed in Sept. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $4,800,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The
Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Marshall Co., Ltd.*, Corpus Christi,
Texas, is being awarded $12,562,000 for firm-fixed-price task order #0002 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62467-04-D-0078) for construction of a T-45 flightline re-capitalization at Naval Air Station, Kingsville. The work to be performed provides for the design, renovation and repair of three buildings – Buildings 760, 2713, and 3786. Overall, this project will renovate existing building space, demolish substandard space and construct new warehouse/shop space. Work will be performed in Kingsville, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Two proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $10,400,000 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity delivery order contract (N68936-06-D-0024) to provide specialized technical services in support of Depot Level Maintenance (DLM) work performed at the Fleet Readiness Center, Southwest (FRC-SW) on aircraft and rework of associated components and materials. Services to be provided include modifications, in-service repairs, and all other categories of service associated with aircraft DLM and its planning. The estimated level of effort for this modification is 346,666 man-hours. Work will be performed at FRC-SW, San Diego, Calif., (78 percent); the
Marine Corps Air Station, (MCAS), Camp Pendleton, Calif., (9 percent); the Naval Air Station, (NAS) Lemoore, Calif., (4 percent); the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Pt. Mugu, Calif., (2 percent); NAS Whidbey Island, Bremerton, Wash., (2 percent); MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, (2 percent); MCAS Yuma, Ariz., (2 percent); and MCAS Miramar, Calif., (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in Dec. 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity.

CACI, Chantilly, Va., is being awarded a $7,961,512 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for education/training products and support services managed by the Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center, Pensacola, Fla., for the Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education Enterprise. This contract includes one base period and four one-year options that, if exercised, bring the total estimated value of the contract to $42,146,213. Work will be performed at Chantilly, Va., (95 percent), and Pensacola, Fla., (5 percent), and work is expected to be completed by Sept. 2009. Contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was awarded through full and open competition via
Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 18 offers received. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Detachment Philadelphia, is the contracting activity.

Oceaneering International, Inc., Chesapeake, Va., is being awarded a $5,711,065 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-6269) for Dry Dock Shelter (DDS) Planning Yard, field change, and maintenance support. The contract modification will augment and supplement internal capabilities and provide for fleet-funded maintenance of DDS assets and procures material to support the alteration, modernization, and fit-up of DDS Program assets. Work will be performed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (60 percent); Norfolk, Va., (30 percent); and Diego Garcia, (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington
Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Army

Concurrent Technologies Corp., Johnstown, Pa., was awarded on Aug. 21, 2008, a $14,604,152 cost/plus fixed fee price contract with Concurrent Technologies Corp., to provide operations and sustainment support for the Consolidated Analytic Spatial Initiative program. Work will be performed in Johnstown, Pa., and Bethesda, Md., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Bethesda, Md., is the contracting activity (HM157-08-C-0003).

Alliant Ammunition and power Co., LLC, Radford, Va., was awarded on
Aug. 28, 2008, a $31,409,100 firm/fixed price contract. This award is in support of the modernization effort at Radford
Army Ammunition Plant. Work will be performed in Radford, Va., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. HQ, Army Sustainment Command Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (DAAA-09-03-E-0001).

The Logistics Co., Inc., Fayetteville, N.C., was awarded on Aug. 28, 2008, a $16,306,687 cost-plus-price contract for logistics services at Fort Knox, Ky., during the period Oct. 1, 2006 through 30 Sept. 30, 2007 with four one year option periods through Sept. 30, 2001. Work will be performed in Fort Knox, Ky., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. Bids were solicited via Internet and eight bids were received. Mission & Installation Contracting Command Fort Knox, Ky., is the contracting activity (W9124D-06-C-0030).

General Dynamics Land Systems Division, Sterling Heights, Ill., was awarded on
Aug. 28, 2008, a $33,890,476 firm/fixed price contract. The purpose of this contract is thirty M1A1 Abrams integrated management vehicles with an option for an additional thirty vehicles. Work will be performed in Lima, Ohio, Scranton, Pa.,
Tallahassee, Fla., and Anniston, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. TACOM LCMC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-06-G-0006).

MPRI A Division of L-3 Services, Inc., Alexandria, Va., was awarded on Aug.27, 2008, a $9,904,051 contract, to perform a broad range of technical financial and operational analysis in support of the Department of the
Army. Contract support shall include all activities relating to the overall force development of the Army. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited via Internet and two bids were received. Contracting Center of Excellence, Washington, is the contracting activity (W91WAW-08-F-0129).

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., Oak Brook, Ill., was awarded on Aug. 27, 2008, a $9,145,424 firm fixed price contract. The work consists of beach renourishment in Tybee Island, Ga. Work will be performed in Tybee Island, Ga., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 31, 2008. Bids were solicited via Internet and three bids were received. U.S.
Army Engineer District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W912HN-08-C-0046).

Hill Brothers Construction Co., Inc, Falkner, Miss., was awarded on Aug. 27, 2008, a $58,826,055 firm fixed fee contract. The work consist of excavation, driving sheet pilling, driving timber pilling, driving steel pipe pilling, utility relocations, concrete box culvert construction, asphalt road work, fertilizing and seed, backfilling, and other incidental work. Work will be performed in
New Orleans, La., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 13, 2012. Bids were solicited via FedTeds and four proposals were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-08-C-0093).

General Dynamics Lands Systems Division, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on Aug. 28, 2008, a $30,780,300 cost reimbursable contract to procure long lead material required to support 129 Third Armored Cavalry Regiment Abrams M1A2 system enhancement package. Work will be performed in Lima, Ohio,
Tallahassee, Fla., Anniston, Ala., Scranton, Pa., and Sterling Heights, Mich., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. TACOM LCMC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-06-G-0006).

Telford Aviation Inc., (TAI),
Bangor, Maine, was awarded on Aug. 27, 2008, a $36,612,252 time /and material contract. The award of an undefinitized contract action will be made to Telford Aviation Inc for the procurement of components of the Multi Sensor Airborne Reconnaissance Surveillance System. Work will be performed in Hagerstown, Md., with an estimated completion date of Jun. 6, 2009. Bids were solicited sole source and one bid was received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-07-C-W009).

Face of Defense: Guardsman Wraps Up Four Decades of Service

By Mike Chrisman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - A tour in Vietnam, flood duty in 1993 and 2001, a tour in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, and flood duty in 2008. That is only part of the highlight reel for a 58-year-old Oquawka, Ill., man who is about to hang up his combat boots after a
military career that has spanned nearly 40 years. Army Staff Sgt. Norris Crooks of Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery, based here, has mixed feelings as he prepares to retire from the Illinois Army National Guard.

"It's been really good, and I have no regrets," Crooks said. "I enjoy what we do, and we have really good people. I am definitely going to miss all of the guys."

Crooks enlisted in the Army in 1970. He was deployed to Vietnam for 14 months, and when he returned, he got out of the
military. But, he said, he missed the military lifestyle and camaraderie, and he decided to enlist in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1986. He became part of the Galesburg-based National Guard company, where he has spent the remainder of his military career.

The long-time soldier is married, with four children ranging in age from 17 to 29. He has worked at Gates Rubber in Galesburg for 18 years. Cheryl Crooks married Norris in 1986, so the military has been a major part of their lives together.

"It's had a huge impact on our lives," she said. "Honestly, it's changed me and made me grow up."

Cheryl Crooks said the time her husband was deployed to Iraq was one of the hardest times of her life.

"I still get emotional thinking about it," she said. "It was awful. We were lost without him. I still remember sitting by the phone with our kids, waiting for him to call."

Cheryl said she was never a strong person, but being a
military spouse taught her to be. She said she is very proud of what her husband has accomplished throughout his career, and that she sees him as her hero.

Norris said his career in the Illinois National Guard has given him memorable experiences. He was mobilized for flood relief efforts in 1993, 2001 and 2008. He deployed to Iraq in 2005. And last year, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery, trained in England for two weeks, working with British soldiers.

During training this summer at Fort McCoy, Wis., Crooks fired a ceremonial final round from a howitzer artillery cannon. Crooks had fired about 500 rounds during his career, but this time was different.

"I was thinking, 'I can't believe this is my last time I was going to fire,'" Crooks said. "It was a great feeling."

Crooks officially retires from the Illinois
Army National Guard on Jan. 19. The unit will recognize him with an official going-away ceremony in December.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Newton, readiness noncommissioned officer with the Galesburg-based National Guard unit, has known Crooks most of his life, because they grew up a few blocks apart in Oquawka. Newton said Crooks is the epitome of an Illinois National Guard soldier.

"He is the best kind of soldier -- reliable, motivated and always mission-focused," Newton said. With the experience Crooks brings to the unit, Newton said, many soldiers look up to him for advice and guidance.

In a diverse
military career that has spanned 38 years, Crooks has seen a lot of change in the military. He is asked many times what differences he sees from the Vietnam War to the war in Iraq. He said his answer is usually the same.

"In Vietnam, you knew who the enemy was. In Iraq, you don't," Crooks said. "It's two totally different worlds, and it's hard to compare."

(Mike Chrisman works in the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office.)

Suze Orman Shares Wealth Plans, Thanks Servicemembers

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - Personal finance expert and motivational speaker Suze Orman created her brand of mega-success by bringing financial planning out of the echelons of millionaires clubs and delivering it to middle class people –- and those aspiring to middle class. Earlier this year, Time magazine named the best-selling author as one of the world's 100 most influential people.

Orman frequently takes calls from servicemembers on CNBC's "The Suze Orman Show," and has reached out to troops by making speaking appearances at bases and by being involved in the www.militarysaves.com campaign. Orman recently spoke to American Forces Press Service about taking her wealth-building formula – in a nutshell, to pay off debts and save more -- to
military members.

Q: Why did you get involved with the Military Saves campaign?

A: My entree into the
military started a few years ago at a base in New Mexico when [a major in the audience] stood up and said, 'You've got to come and save us. So many young people come up and ask me their questions, and I can't help them, but I know you can.' She got the clearance for us to come to Little Rock [Air Force Base, Ark.], which happened to be March 2003 when the war broke out [in Iraq].

I walked in behind the commanding officer, and I will never forget – and I've walked next to presidents and every imaginable dignitary and movie star you can imagine – never in my life have I felt such power as when those 800 men and women snapped to attention. As I stood there with him, I thought there is such tremendous power and respect in this room, and hopefully not just in this room, but coming from everyone else from the outside toward them. The second I went on the base, I knew that I had come home.

Q: As you hear from U.S. servicemembers, what are some of the most common personal finance concerns they face?

A: What those in the
military need to be very, very careful of is that, because you've been trained to follow orders and because you are incredibly honorable, you're an incredibly trusting group of people. And because you are so trusting, you are the perfect people to be taken advantage of from unscrupulous people [including financial advisors]. You trust that what they are telling you is true. You, more than anybody, must be very, very careful.

The most prevalent thing
military members say to me is, 'I got into trouble because I trusted a person who told me to do X, Y and Z, and it wasn't right.' That is one of the main dangers for military people.

Q: But not everyone knows a lot about finances. There is a learning curve, right?

A: There's a learning curve in everything. The question becomes how much do you want to learn? I want you to learn that it's not that hard. Things make sense and things don't make sense. You need to trust yourself more than you trust anybody else. If somebody tells you to do something and it doesn't feel right or you don't understand, just don't do it. It's better to do nothing than to do something you don't understand.

Q: Do people need to use financial planners?

A: No, I don't think so. People have bought the ticket Wall Street has been trying to sell you forever in that you need a professional financial planner. You don't.

Q: When people are living on a tight budget, what is the smartest way to build wealth? How do you choose between paying off debt and saving money? How do you choose between saving for
retirement and saving for college and having a general savings account that you can tap into for emergencies?

A: That's no different for
military members than anyone else. Debt is bondage and you will never, ever experience financial freedom if you have bondage. If you have credit card debt at maybe 18 percent and money in savings that earns about 2 percent and is taxable, you are seriously losing money when you [put money in savings rather than pay down the credit card]. You always want to attack your financial future knowing that your feet are on solid financial foundation. Enemies to money are debt. If you would retire that debt, it would be like a guaranteed 18 percent return on your money.

Q: What is the formula for building wealth?

A: Get rid of credit card debt and other high-interest, short-term debt, like car loans.

Create an emergency savings fund. Six months is ideal. It can be a bank savings account or a [certificate of deposit]. Consider a high-return plan like that on www.saveyourself.com, which pays $100 after you've contributed $100 per month for 12 months.

Besides an emergency fund, start saving for
retirement. Start putting money in the Thrift Savings Plan and maybe you also start saving for a down payment for buying a home later. Once you're out of the military, you have to decide where you want to go to get a job and buy a house. So go rent there, and then buy. It's OK to keep renting until you know where.

Be very careful about your children's college education. It's so incredibly expensive, it's not even funny. Realistically speaking, with
military salaries, it's very hard to pay for everything – a house, retirement, college. It's better to teach your children that they have to get good grades to qualify for scholarships, or they may need loans or go into the military, which is what my nephew did. Here is the problem: a kid goes to college and still doesn't know what he wants to be and the parents are $100,000 in debt. There's nothing wrong with community college.

Q: Today's parents are spending a lot of time and money on their children in ways not seen in the past. What are some ways
military parents can keep from going broke?

A: Parents have gotten into spending money for their kids in a way, not so much for the kids' sake, but in keeping up with what other kids' parents are doing. We're all so busy worrying about impressing people we don't know or like, that we're not saving money. What are you teaching your children by giving them activities you can't afford? And it doesn't create a good environment at night by having tension between mommy and daddy when they can't pay the bills. That backfires in the long run.

It's easier to spoil kids than to not have to deal with their whining. Sometimes people can afford it, but their priorities are wrong. You're in the U.S. armed forces, you've been taught to live a life of integrity. Don't tell me you don't have what it takes to do right by your kids – and it's not in spoiling them. Make the same hard choices with your kids, so they become the same integral human beings you are.

Q: For most people, their home is their best financial asset. Given that many military people move every two or three years, what advice do you have for buying a home and for keeping it long enough to grow equity, and also not losing money on relocations?

A: In markets past, yes, you could have bought a home and made a lot of money even if you only had it for one or two years. That's the past. The present is, you don't buy a home unless you know that you can live in it at least four, five or six years. If you rent it, and that renter doesn't pay, you have to cover that. The issue is, do you have enough money saved that if you buy the home and are relocated, and you can't sell your home or you have to sell it for less than your loan is for, then you absorb that cost? If you keep getting relocated, what are you going to do? The best thing is to just rent.

For
military members who bought their homes years ago, it made sense. But the economy is different now. Everything is expensive. The advice you're reading today is the advice for today. In today's economy, with expenses skyrocketing and property taxes going up, unless you have a serious sum of money, you should be renting [if you're still in rotations].

Q: Should long-term military members be priming themselves for a second career?

A: You can, but maybe you just want to stay in. If you don't have a plan for a job or education, why get out? You don't have to leave in 20 years. If you really don't like the military, then of course, hopefully, you will learn things that will help you go on. But if you're not sure what else you really want to do, stay in. In today's economy, just stay put.

Q: How should
military members prepare for their higher risk of becoming disabled?

A: Stay out of debt! My saddest moment at the Little Rock
Air Force Base was when [an airman who was about to deploy] said to me, 'I have a loan on my car. What do I do with it? Now, this car's going sit here. What do I do?' Debt isn't just about credit cards. You need to buy things you can own outright sooner rather than later.

Q: What is your main message to servicemembers?

A: If you have what it takes to defend the United States of America with your life, don't you dare tell me that you don't have what it takes to defend your own financial security with your own dedication to survive. That's the main message.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with military members?

A: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I salute each and every one of you.

Servicemembers Employ Recession Buffers, Still Seek Help

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 -
Military members receive some buffers from hard times through benefits like housing and meal allowances, commissaries and a strong support network. But they feel the crunch of increasing prices like everyone else. Finance professionals who work directly with servicemembers say they are seeing more requests for help from soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

"We're really seeing a lot of people asking for assistance," said Kelly Stewart, a community readiness consultant who counsels airmen about their finances on Andrews
Air Force Base, Md. "It just seems to get worse with the economy."

On Camp Pendleton, Calif., "We're seeing the
Military folks cut back on food," said Mike Hire, director of the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society there. "Just like with other Americans, folks are looking for bargains and store brands, and they're buying things that go further. Maybe you haven't eaten rice or spaghetti as much as you do now."

The pinch has been especially hard on young servicemembers who aren't old enough to remember the last economic slowdown, let alone have never juggled finances through a recession, financial advisors say.

"You have a number of folks who come into the
Military and are making more money than they ever thought they would," Hire said. "The problem is, they don't understand how much it is going to cost. They don't think in terms of hard economic times; they think in terms of how much money they have."

Where people tend to make mistakes is in not having enough savings to cover unexpected costs, Hire said. When people put pen to paper and create a budget, most draw a fixed income line and fixed expense line. That's a mistake, Hire said. "Expenses are never solid. They move up and down all the time. That's where people get into trouble," he said.

Lynn Olavarria, manager of the financial readiness program on Fort Bragg, N.C., agreed that education and self control on spending are key to keeping finances in check. "What I'm seeing is young people coming out of their parents' home and they have no kind of background for dealing with finances," she said. "Everybody wants everything now. I'm seeing that change more all the time. It's the instant-gratification generation. They incur debt quickly because we all know how easy it is to get credit."

Financial readiness programs are widespread to educate military members about their personal finances and classes are mandatory at first-duty stations, Olavarria said. The services offer financial counselors free of charge, as well as outreach programs, because of its impact on
Military readiness.

"When financial problems are introduced into an airmen's life, their mind might be other places and it can affect the mission," Stewart said.

Servicemembers go to financial counselors for basic budgeting, referrals for interest-free loans, and sometimes because they are in danger of losing their security clearances due to financial problems, Stewart said. "Some clients I see have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt -- credit card debt, judgments, it varies," she said.

Finance experts have this advice for military members to improve their financial shape: Take advantage of your benefits and support network; make smart spending choices; and save more.

There are many programs set up for
Military members to save money. The Military Savings Deposit Program allows those deployed to combat zones to have money automatically taken out of their paychecks and placed into a savings account. Servicemembers earn 10 percent on the balance of the savings up to three months after their deployment ends, said Maj. Burke Beaumont, comptroller of the 316th Mission Support Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

Contributing to an interest-bearing savings account and also to the government's Thrift Savings Plan for retirement "is a no-brainer," Beaumont said. The challenge is in making those contributions rather than spending additional money, such as those made from combat deployments, on things like expensive vehicles, iPhones and other status symbols, he said.

"You need to put that money to something you could use in the future," Beaumont said. "I'm seeing a lot of really nice cars on base: corvettes, brand new Mustangs, Hummers. That's money you could be investing."

Military members also must be careful not to use predatory lenders that charge very high interest, solicit around military bases, and make it simple to get a loan, Beaumont and other financial advisors said. The problem has gotten so bad that Congress last year passed a law that caps the interest rate on loans to military members at 36 percent.

"But 36 percent is still a lot, and they really reach out to
Military members," Stewart said. People get themselves in trouble with loans by not considering the impact of paying off the full amount with interest, she said. "People say, 'I can afford to pay $115 a month. What they're not looking at is that they are going to pay back $5,000 on a $3,000 loan."

Predatory or "payday" lenders have gotten so common around bases that most financial readiness programs offer free classes on base to teach about their dangers, the financial advisors said. Also, Army Emergency Relief has started a new program that soldiers can use in place of private lenders. Under the Commanders' Referral Plan, a soldier can receive interest-free loans of up to $1,000 twice per year with a commander's referral, Olavarria said.

In fact, all four services have relief societies represented at most bases that give interest-free loans and, occasionally, grants. If a servicemember has to choose between paying a bill late -- and possibly messing up his credit rating for years -- or getting an interest-free loan from the relief society, then they should choose the society's help, advisors say.

"Military members are lucky because they have relief societies like ours," Hire said.

The
Navy/Marine Corps society at Camp Pendleton doled out $3.8 million in emergency aid in 4,668 cases in 2007, he said. Those numbers will be similar for this year and are up from $2 million in 2005 and 2006, he said.
Here are some other tips from
Military financial advisors:

-- Be hesitant about trading in your vehicle for one that uses less gas. Because of the devaluation of vehicles and the increased taxes required on a newer model, you may be better off to maintain the one you have.

-- Live near your work. High gas prices can diminish the savings on rent and mortgage farther away. Living on base also saves on utilities.

-- Save for emergency expenses. "We see people everyday for whom something has happened and they don't have the money to pay for it," Stewart said. "Just having the piece of mind of having that money in your account is a good way to live."

-- Use cash and check books more than credit and debit cards. "Because of debit cards, people overextend themselves constantly," Stewart said.

-- File travel vouchers on time and keep your government credit card paid off. Officials recommend setting up automatic withdrawals from servicemembers' paychecks that will move money into their travel card accounts. "The servicemember is 100 percent responsible for paying off the balance of the card" when the individual charges costs that aren't covered by per diem, Beaumont said.

Like those working for other services, Olavarria said it is important that soldiers reach out for the many ways that the
Military can help with personal finances. "Everything a soldier can possibly need, the Army is going to do its very best to help them," Olavarria said.

An Army Community Service office is located on every post and can help soldiers or give referrals of help for almost any problem, she said. Furthermore, all installations and their surrounding communities sign onto what is known as an Army Family Covenant, which is a vow to support soldiers in any way possible, she said.

Oshkosh Corp. Earns Top Employer Support Award

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - Oshkosh Corp. is slated to receive the Defense Department's top award next month for supporting its employees who volunteer to serve in the National Guard and reserves. The Oshkosh, Wis.-based company will be among 15 employers nationwide to receive the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award during a Sept. 18 ceremony here.

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition the U.S. government gives to employers for outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and reserves.

Company employees nominated Oshkosh, which designs and builds
military vehicles and vehicle bodies, for the award for creating an environment they said made its employees who serve in the military feel not just accepted, but also applauded and rewarded.

Marine Corps Maj. Dion Angling, a company employee, reported that the company hosted a special going-away dinner before he deployed to Iraq in 2006, sent him care packages while he was gone, and hosted a welcoming lunch on his return. His co-workers surprised him by decorating his office for the occasion.

Army Capt. Nguyen Trinh, another company employee, praised Oshkosh for giving him the time he needed to prepare for his upcoming deployment, and keeping up its support when he was deployed.

"My company was very proactive in ensuring that I understood all the benefits I would continue to receive during my deployment, and what I could expect upon my return. The company has reached out to my wife by taking an interest in her well-being," he said. "I am very fortunate to work for such a great organization."

Oshkosh demonstrates its support for its citizen-soldiers in other ways, too. A "Wall of Honor" appears at each plant, displaying reserve-component members' photos and profiles. The company contributes to deployed employees' unit family support groups and has coordinated transportation for their Guard and reserve employees to visit their families.

The company also contributes to the
Marine Corps Reserves' Toys for Tots program, regularly attends military hiring conferences seeking current and former servicemembers for its management positions, and pays the difference between its employees' civilian and military pay while they're on active duty.

Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is honored to receive recognition for the support it provides its employees serving on active duty.

"Our company continued to succeed, not only because of the strength of our product and services, but also because of the integrity of our people," he said. "We are grateful for these employees who are essential in helping Oshkosh succeed while also serving the country in a separate capacity, and to support them is the right thing to do."

Gordon Summer, executive director of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, credits employers like Bohn with ensuring citizen-soldiers are able to carry out their important dual roles.

"In the
military, the best leaders are those who always take care of their people – and it is no different in the civilian workplace," he said. "Oshkosh Corp. has shown that it takes care of its people. Its employees who are also reserve and Guard members know the company is helping take care of their family while they are away serving this country."

America Supports You: Group Offers Military Spouses Small-Business Help

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - Starting a business requires cold, hard cash and moral support, both of which are now available to military spouses through a Virginia-based organization. "
Military Spouse Business Association will help military spouses with the tangibles of financial and business resources and the intangibles of motivation, encouragement, support and recognition," said Lanette Lepper, a co-founder of the organization, and a Military spouse who owns her own business.

The other co-founders, Joanna Williamson and Rebecca Poynter, share the same backgrounds as military spouses and small-business owners. Their idea to create the Military Spouse Business Association stemmed from phone conversations during which they discussed
Military life, she said.

They also talked about business and financial topics and agreed that sound financial preparation had allowed them to start their individual businesses and keep them going. The trio also agreed that even though they didn't all live in the same area, they still could share their experience with other military spouses.

"Two of us had never met each other in person, and we thought if we shared our ideas and encouragement remotely, motivating and learning from each other, then why can't other
Military spouses do exactly the same thing?" Lepper said. "It also occurred to us that if we wanted to find other military spouses to buy from, hire, make a friend, find a colleague or mentor in the same profession, we didn't have a way to do that."

The organization now offers
Military spouses who own their own businesses networking opportunities as well as financial and other resources.

The organization's Web site offers what the founders call the "Red, White and Blue Pages." It's a directory of military spouse-owned businesses, which enables military spouses to find other
Military spouses in their geographical or professional areas.

"The directory is also available to [members of] the general public who would like to support these military spouse-owned businesses," Lepper said.

Lepper said civilians looking to support businesses owned by military spouses should know those businesses are in good hands.

"The prototype of a military spouse might surprise you," she said. "[They're] most likely to be female, most likely to be employed, better educated than their civilian counterpart, [and they] live near a major city and are Internet-savvy."

Military Spouse Business Association is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Registration is temporarily closed while the organization moves its Web site. Registration should be available again Sept. 1.

Louisiana National Guard Gears Up for Gustav

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - As Tropical Storm Gustav gains strength and approaches the Gulf Coast, about 3,000 Louisiana citizen-soldiers and -airmen have been activated in support of emergency operations and are prepared to support civil missions and assist with various needs and emergencies expected to arise across the state. "Our soldiers and airmen are staged and set to deploy to our coastal parishes without hesitation,"
Army Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard, said. "Engineer and communications teams are reporting to coastal parishes and are set to assist our citizens and local parish emergency responders. Our security forces are deploying to ensure safety and security of homes and personnel. We are confident in our plans and ability to execute those plans on a moment's notice."

Louisiana Guard search-and-rescue assets are preparing for deployment to potential impact areas. Soldiers and airmen also are pre-positioning to support shelter security missions across the state, and teams are ready to support "contraflow" highway lane-reversal missions in coordination with the
Louisiana State Police.

Louisiana National Guard security forces are preparing for deployment to potential impact areas, including deployment to New Orleans in support of the city's evacuation plan. The Guard is requesting additional helicopter assets with Emergency Management Assistance Compact states in preparation for potential search-and-rescue missions.

Soldiers of the Lake Charles-based 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, began the initial alert preparations for the possible landfall of Hurricane Gustav. The battalion, which consists of soldiers from all over southwestern Louisiana, has prepared vehicles and equipment for the deployment to New Orleans or any other area that may be affected.

"We're ready to go wherever we need to," said Lake Charles native
Army 1st Sgt. Gary Burchfield of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-156th Infantry Battalion.

The 256th IBCT's 199th
Leadership Brigade Support Battalion located in Alexandria, La., sent 2,000 gallons of water to Colfax, La., in preparation for support missions. This potentially life-saving water will be distributed to citizens if the need arises.

Additionally, 160 soldiers from the 528th and the 527th Engineer Battalions in Ruston, La., have been directed to various security missions in the
Jefferson Parish area and will be assigned to the Clearview evacuation site.

Two three-man engineer assessment teams from the 1023rd Engineer Company are on stand-by for possible missions in Ascension, St. James and St. Charles parishes. "The primary function of these teams will be damage assessment,"
Army Maj. Charles A. Hudson of West Monroe, administrative officer with the 528th, said.

About 30 soldiers from the Headquarters Support Company in Monroe will assist the
Louisiana State Police Department's Troop A in Baton Rouge and Troop F in Monroe in traffic-control missions as the storm closes in on the coast. Six three-man boat teams from the 830th and 832nd Concrete and Asphalt Companies in Monroe have been placed on stand-by for possible damage assessment and search-and-rescue missions in potentially devastated areas.

The National Guard has also mobilized more than 100 members to act as bus drivers and provide transportation for evacuees and security to evacuation shelters throughout the state as needed.

Airmen have been activated to support operations and satellite communication in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Saint Bernard, and Orleans parishes to assist in first-responder ground communications. Additional teams are ready to deploy to all other areas along the coast the storm may affect.As Tropical Storm Gustav gains strength and approaches the Gulf Coast, about 3,000 Louisiana citizen-soldiers and -airmen have been activated in support of emergency operations and are prepared to support civil missions and assist with various needs and emergencies expected to arise across the state.

"Our soldiers and airmen are staged and set to deploy to our coastal parishes without hesitation,"
Army Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard, said. "Engineer and communications teams are reporting to coastal parishes and are set to assist our citizens and local parish emergency responders. Our security forces are deploying to ensure safety and security of homes and personnel. We are confident in our plans and ability to execute those plans on a moment's notice."

Louisiana Guard search-and-rescue assets are preparing for deployment to potential impact areas. Soldiers and airmen also are pre-positioning to support shelter security missions across the state, and teams are ready to support "contraflow" highway lane-reversal missions in coordination with the
Louisiana State Police.

Louisiana National Guard security forces are preparing for deployment to potential impact areas, including deployment to New Orleans in support of the city's evacuation plan. The Guard is requesting additional helicopter assets with Emergency Management Assistance Compact states in preparation for potential search-and-rescue missions.

Soldiers of the Lake Charles-based 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, began the initial alert preparations for the possible landfall of Hurricane Gustav. The battalion, which consists of soldiers from all over southwestern Louisiana, has prepared vehicles and equipment for the deployment to New Orleans or any other area that may be affected.

"We're ready to go wherever we need to," said Lake Charles native
Army 1st Sgt. Gary Burchfield of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-156th Infantry Battalion.

The 256th IBCT's 199th
Leadership Brigade Support Battalion located in Alexandria, La., sent 2,000 gallons of water to Colfax, La., in preparation for support missions. This potentially life-saving water will be distributed to citizens if the need arises.

Additionally, 160 soldiers from the 528th and the 527th Engineer Battalions in Ruston, La., have been directed to various security missions in the
Jefferson Parish area and will be assigned to the Clearview evacuation site.

Two three-man engineer assessment teams from the 1023rd Engineer Company are on stand-by for possible missions in Ascension, St. James and St. Charles parishes. "The primary function of these teams will be damage assessment,"
Army Maj. Charles A. Hudson of West Monroe, administrative officer with the 528th, said.

About 30 soldiers from the Headquarters Support Company in Monroe will assist the
Louisiana State Police Department's Troop A in Baton Rouge and Troop F in Monroe in traffic-control missions as the storm closes in on the coast. Six three-man boat teams from the 830th and 832nd Concrete and Asphalt Companies in Monroe have been placed on stand-by for possible damage assessment and search-and-rescue missions in potentially devastated areas.

The National Guard has also mobilized more than 100 members to act as bus drivers and provide transportation for evacuees and security to evacuation shelters throughout the state as needed.

Airmen have been activated to support operations and satellite communication in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Saint Bernard, and Orleans parishes to assist in first-responder ground communications. Additional teams are ready to deploy to all other areas along the coast the storm may affect.

Separately, the Louisiana National Guard has requested 20 aircraft from eight states, in an apparent response to Louisiana's 20 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters being in Iraq. National Guards in the 54 states and territories have mutual-aid agreements in place to send troops and equipment to other states during disasters. Through such agreements, more than 50,000 Guard members converged on the region following
Hurricane Katrina.

The Louisiana
Army National Guard's 1/244th Air Assault Helicopter Battalion deployed to Iraq this summer, taking the Black Hawk fleet and about 360 soldiers. The battalion was based at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport during Katrina and rescued as many as 16,000 people from the area. The battalion is now based in Hammond, La., from which the Louisiana Guard plans to manage its aviation response to storms.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also ordered the Louisiana National Guard to be ready to deploy more than 1,500 Guardsmen to New Orleans as early as tomorrow to assist in securing the city as citizens begin to evacuate their homes.

Gustav, currently a tropical storm, is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane the morning of Sept. 2 along the Vermillion Bay area, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

(From a Louisiana National Guard news release.)

States Support States as National Guard Prepares for Gustav

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - Through Emergency Management Assistance Compacts, National Guard members from around the country are signing up to support states in the path of Tropical Storm Gustav. "EMAC provides a responsive and straightforward system for the National Guard in unaffected states to send lifesaving capabilities, such as personnel and equipment, to help in affected states," Rick Breitenfeldt, a public affairs officer at the National Guard Bureau, explained.

Approved by Congress in 1996, EMAC is a mutual aid partnership agreement among the 54 states and territories that allows state-to-state assistance during governor-declared or federally declared emergencies.

"EMAC is about governors helping fellow governors in time of need," Breitenfeldt said.

In 2005, EMAC deployed more than 65,000 personnel to the affected states after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "That was the largest deployment of state-to-state aid in history and stands as a testament to EMAC's effectiveness and efficiency," Breitenfeldt said.

So far this year, the
Louisiana National Guard has requested 20 aircraft from eight states, because their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and about 360 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, are currently deployed to Iraq, said Army Sgt. First Class Melaine Rowton with the Louisiana National Guard.

During Hurricane Katrina three years ago, the battalion rescued about 16,000 people in the area.

The 1st Battalion, 114th Security and Support, of the 77th Aviation Brigade based at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark., will deploy more than 40 soldiers to Pineville, La. The group also will include five Air National Guard members from the 154th Weather Flight at Little Rock
Air Force Base, according to a news release from the Arkansas National Guard.

The 114th will provide airspace management and command and control of all aviation assets supporting the relief effort if required. The 154th will support the 114th with weather briefings and forecasts as well as providing resource protection for the airfield.

In preparation for another potential mission, the Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center near Fort Smith, Ark., has identified temporary emergency sheltering for up to 4,000 evacuees, the
Arkansas Guard announced.

With the support of federal, state and emergency responders, Fort Chaffee's role potentially would include evacuee reception and accountability, housing and shelter, subsistence, medical care, transportation, information management and public safety, along with command and control of all operations through the establishment of an emergency operations center.

According to the
Arkansas Guard, the state has a detailed operations plan in place to support all operations, many of which were either developed or improved through the lessons learned with Hurricane Katrina, when more than 10,000 evacuees were processed through the post.

In Texas, the governor has requested aeromedical support. The 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from Oklahoma City, Okla., will provide five crew members, who will stage at Lackland
Air Force Base, Texas, and transport special-needs personnel from communities threatened by the storm. About 30 aeromedical crewmembers from the 166th AES in New Castle, Del., also will depart today for Texas.

"This is the right thing to do. Our men and women are highly trained for these tasks, and our Delaware National Guard troops are ready to help if American lives are at risk and our assistance is called upon,"
Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, said.

The Indiana National Guard also has been alerted for possible duty in the Gulf Coast region. The 38th Sustainment Brigade from Kokomo, Ind., and Headquarters, 38th Infantry Division from Indianapolis may be activated for command and control and other rapid-response operations,
Army Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson, the state public affairs officer, said.

(
Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Armed Forces Voter Week Begins Aug. 31

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - With Armed Forces Voters Week set to start Aug. 31, the Federal Voting Assistance Program has launched a full-court press to get servicemembers, their families and Defense Department civilians the absentee ballots they need to participate in the upcoming election. The special week, which runs through Sept. 7, is aimed at all citizens voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and DoD civilians who have not yet registered to vote or requested an absentee ballot should do so next week, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of DoD personnel are deployed or stationed around the world. They cannot simply walk into their neighborhood polling places and cast their ballots on Nov. 4, as most American voters will do. Registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot during Armed Forces Voters Week allows enough time for local election officials to process the request, send the materials to voters and get the completed ballots back by the various state or territory deadlines.

Those who think their votes are immaterial should consider
Florida in the 2000 election. The election was among the closest in history. After all the "hanging chads," court cases and political maneuvering were complete, the official tally in Florida for the two main candidates was 2,912,720 for George W. Bush and 2,912,253 for Al Gore. The election was determined by a 467-vote difference.

All
military units have voting assistance officers, and each American embassy or consulate can help U.S. citizens exercise their rights to vote. For those with Internet access, the Federal Voting Assistance Program has a user-friendly Web site at www.fvap.gov.

Florida Guard Prepares for Potential Hurricane Relief Mission

By Jon Myatt
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2008 - As central and northern Florida communities recover from Tropical Storm Fay's flood waters, Florida's Department of
Military Affairs and the state's National Guard are refitting and shifting focus to the potential effects of other storms.
Florida National Guard leaders returned to the Joint Force Headquarters in
St. Augustine on Aug. 25 from the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee expecting another weather threat.

While most of the 500 Guard members activated to help during Tropical Storm Fay had returned to their civilian jobs, the Florida National Guard core emergency support team continued to monitor weather conditions in "Hurricane Alley."

With forecasters eyeing two Atlantic storms -- Tropical Storm Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna -- as the Labor Day weekend approaches, the possibility of another activation of the Florida National Guard is becoming more probable, Guard leaders said. Gustav is expected to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a Category 3 hurricane early Sept. 2.

"We are just entering the historically active part of hurricane season," said
Army Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett, adjutant general of Florida. "Although Tropical Storm Fay did not produce damaging high-speed winds that a Category 3 or 4 [hurricane] would have, the resulting flood waters required a significant state response that was a very good tune-up for our emergency response team.

"The public got to see the National Guard at work -- Guard-members and vehicles moving from armories to affected communities, providing assistance to people in distress," he said.

The Guard continuously reviews its mix of personnel to ensure the right skills are placed at the right location, along with the right number of troops to do the tasks, he explained. These "after-action" assessments ensure the troops not needed are released from state active duty so they can return to their families, jobs and educational institutions.

"We are able meet our mission requirements by preparing sufficient numbers of Guardsmen to meet any anticipated weather event," Burnett said. "We have a great deal of recent experience and know that when one weather event has passed, we could have another on the horizon. It is critical to our long term success to have enough capable people available who are also rested and motivated."

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has ensured that the Florida National Guard and its leaders are included in all executive-level planning for emergencies. For Tropical Storm Fay, he declared a state of emergency for Florida, signing an executive order three days before the storm made landfall.

"The reason we do that is to be able to cooperate with state agencies and local authorities," Crist said Aug. 17, during his initial news conference for Tropical Storm Fay.

Guard leaders say they're committed to one primary task: ensuring the Florida National Guard adequately supports agencies directly responsible for taking care of Florida citizens. To accomplish this mission, the Florida National Guard has more than 9,000 soldiers and airmen available who can respond to various emergencies in Florida, including efforts to deter terrorist-related activities.

"The Guard has continuous contact and coordination with the Florida Division of Emergency Management in
Tallahassee, and our joint emergency operations center and planning cells ensure the capability to rapidly build-up personnel and equipment if needed," Army Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, the Guard's chief spokesman, said. "We have extensive experience in responding to emergencies."

Florida National Guard soldiers and airmen are trained and equipped for a wide range of life support, security and public safety missions, he said.

Additional personnel and equipment can be mobilized quickly from other states if needed. The Florida National Guard can also request additional personnel and resources from other states through the National Guard Bureau, as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, Tittle explained.

(Jon Myatt works for the Florida Department of
Military Affairs.)