Military News

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

America Supports You: Volunteers, Sponsors Drive Disabled Vets Sports Clinic

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 1, 2008 - As nearly 400 disabled veterans enjoy the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic here, officials credit a legion of volunteers and sponsors as the driving force behind the clinic's success. The six-day event, which opened here March 30 and continues through April 4, gives severely disabled veterans the opportunity to ski, rock climb, scuba dive, trapshoot, snowmobile, and try their hand at sled hockey and wheelchair fencing, among other activities -- all with the help of more than 600 volunteers.

In addition, 76 sponsors have joined forces with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans to fund the $1 million program, according to Edward Hartman, DAV's national director for voluntary services.

"None of this is possible without the power of all the people who make it happen," said Sandy Trombetta, who came up with the concept of the winter sports clinic and has served as VA's national director for the program throughout its 22-year history.

Trombetta praised the sponsors who finance the activities and volunteers who return year after year, giving up vacation time and paying their own way to get here to work with the veterans. "They all want to be part of something bigger than themselves," he said. "What you see here is people really giving back to others. It still leaves me awestruck."

Theresa Parks, event coordinator for the past five years, said it would be impossible to run the clinic without the volunteers' support. "What they do is huge," she said. "They all make such a commitment. There just isn't a better group of people to work with than our volunteers."

Parks called their efforts a labor of love that translates into a supportive environment where veterans with severe disabilities can push their limits, and, ultimately, form lasting friendships. "They treat the veterans like family, and embrace them like a brother or son or father," he said. "There's a real sense of connection that takes place here."

Among the volunteers are more than 200 certified adaptive ski instructors, including current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, coaches and support staff.

Kevin Ridley, an adaptive ski instructor from Boston, is a first-time volunteer at the winter sports clinic after working with disabled veterans in New England for the past 12 years. "This is an awesome event, and what they are doing for these veterans is amazing," said Ridley, a
Vietnam veteran.

Like other volunteers at the clinic, Ridley said he gets more out of his volunteerism than the participants, particularly when he sees them react after a run down the mountainside.

"Just to see the smiles on their faces and to see their confidence built up, with their recognition of what they can do, is the reward," he said.

While ski instructors make up a big percentage of the volunteer force, many volunteers at the winter sports clinic work in other capacities, running a full range of activities.

Among them is John Ognie, a
Denver resident who has been volunteering at the clinic since 1995, most of those years teaching scuba diving. "It's a great thing for them because of the sense of freedom they get," he said. "They get in the pool and they don't want to come out."

A volunteer at the VA hospital in
Denver for more than 20 years and a disabled veteran himself, Ognie said he gets a special sense of gratification helping his fellow veterans.

"I enjoy it," he said. "I just want to be here to help the veterans and their families."

Elizabeth Lowery, an employee at the VA medical center in Grand
Junction, Colo., is volunteering at the clinic for the third year to schedule veterans for a variety of activities off the ski slopes, load them on buses and accompany them to the events.

"It's awe-inspiring just being here," she said. "Once you come one time, you always come back. There's just nowhere else you want to be."

Some, like eight volunteers from Luke
Air Force Base, Ariz., pick up veterans at the airport and transport them between venues during the event. Air Force Master Sgt. Bryan Malkowski of the 63rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit is back for his second year at the clinic helping any way he can.

"It's really rewarding to see their faces when they're doing something that they thought they would never get to do," he said. "Seeing them enjoy themselves is the best reward ever."

Gretchen Annan, also from the Grand
Junction VA medical center, is here for her second clinic, helping veterans move their trays through the food lines in the dining room and get settled at their tables to eat three meals served each day.

Annan said she feels honored to get to work with such exceptional people who refuse to let a disability get in the way of living life to its fullest.

"I'm so thankful to be here, and nothing can make my day happier than seeing someone confronted with so many challenges still making it through the day," she said. "It's really inspiring."

Other volunteers, like John Corbett, known for his roles in "Sex and the City" and "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" will take center stage later this week with his band to entertain the veterans. In addition, actress Bo Derek, honorary chair of VA's national rehabilitation special events, will attend activities throughout the week.

The Snowmass community has opened its arms to the participants, too, with local restaurants and hotels treating participants to two parties in the Snowmass Village mall. During the afternoon leading up to the opening ceremony, more than 10 local restaurants hosted a "Taste of Snowmass" event for attendees. An even larger event is slated for the clinic's final day, said Allison Campbell, Silvertree Hotel's director of conference services and coordinator for the event.

"Everybody wants to be a part of it," she said. "This is everyone's most favorite event of the year, and our way of giving back to these guys and girls who gave for us. ... It's a definite community thing, and I'm glad to be a part of it."

The gratification of providing support to disabled veterans makes volunteers "want to come back forever," Parks said. In fact, there's so little turnover in the clinic's volunteer force that Parks said she finds herself having to turn down offers from others who would like to contribute.

"Our biggest problem -- and it's hard to call this a problem -- is that we have to turn away hundreds of people every year who want to volunteer," she said. "Our volunteers come, and they stay."

The volunteers' dedication isn't lost on participants here.

"These volunteers are great people," said Jarod Behee, an
Army veteran blinded during operations in Iraq who's attending the winter sports clinic for the first time this year. "I'm really thankful that they're here. They really make it special for us."

Hope Cooper, an
Air Force veteran medically retired in 1989, said she's overwhelmed by the outpouring of volunteers who travel here "on their own dime to help us with everything and anything."

"They're giving of their lives to us this week, and what they do is heartfelt," she said. "And do you want to know the true reason they do it? It's because they love us. Knowing that is powerful, and it's healing."

Gates Thanks Danes for Commitment, Sacrifices

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 1, 2008 - Two tables were set within the stone walls of the historic barracks of the Royal Danish Life Guards here for U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' meetings this morning. At the first, Gates sat across from Danish Defense Minister Soren Gade. Both leaders were flanked by senior
military officials in dress uniforms and policy makers in business suits.

At the second, in a room off to the side, he again sat across from Gade, but this time both were surrounded by about a dozen Danish soldiers in their service uniforms, ranging in rank from private to lieutenant colonel, fresh from combat in Afghanistan.

White tablecloths, chips and soda set the stage for Gates to hear the challenges the soldiers faced while fighting in one of the toughest regions in southern Afghanistan.

Denmark is slightly smaller in size than
Vermont and New Hampshire combined. With a population of about 5.5 million, the Danes have lost more soldiers per capita in Afghanistan combat than any other NATO ally. Fourteen Danish servicemembers have died there since 2002 — 10 in the past six months.

Gates said Denmark's contributions to the effort in Afghanistan are what brought him here for the first trip to Denmark by a U.S. defense secretary in a decade.

"I wanted to come above all to express my thanks on behalf of the American people ... and appreciation for the contributions that Denmark is making, especially in Afghanistan," Gates said in a briefing after the meetings with Gade and the soldiers, "and also to express our condolences for the loss of the fine Danish soldiers.

"Every single one of these casualties is a tragedy," he continued, "but it is for a greater cause. It is for
security in Europe, security in America, as well helping the Afghans develop a country where they have some choice in the future."

The Danes have about 630 troops in Afghanistan, with most stationed in the south. In all, there are about 18,000 NATO troops there, but NATO officials have said that is not enough to provide adequate
security to allow for proper rebuilding efforts. NATO officials said yesterday they need at least three more infantry or maneuver battalions in the country.

Gates said he thinks some countries will announce troop increases for Afghanistan at the NATO summit conference that begins tomorrow in Bucharest, Romania.

"I am reasonably optimistic that there will be additional forces made available for (Regional Command) South," he said. But, Gates added, he is doubtful it will be all that NATO's International
Security Assistance Force commanders say they need.

A swath of southern Afghanistan that makes up 10 percent of the country's area and is home to only about 6 percent of the population is where 70 percent of the violence in the country takes place, according to NATO statistics. It is there that the Danes have most of their troops. Gates called their efforts "extraordinary."

"The Danes are fighting hard in RC South, and I think that there are a handful of us that are carrying that burden," Gates said. "Denmark is clearly one of the most significant, along with Canada, the Australians, the British and ourselves."

The United States is sending about 3,500
Marines to Afghanistan this month, with about 2,000 of them heading toward the southern provinces. But they will leave in November, and Gates said NATO's challenge is filling in behind them.

"This is a challenge for the alliance," Gates said. "Every ally has fulfilled the specific commitment that they made. What has not been fulfilled is the broader commitment ... to provide the ISAF commander with the forces needed to be successful.

"So it is the level of effort above the commitments already made and fulfilled that is the challenge ... for the alliance," Gates said.

Gates said he expects a reaffirmation to come out of the upcoming summit conference that will more solidly place the alliance's commitment to the region.

"I think part of what will come out of Bucharest, I hope, is a statement of reaffirmation of why NATO is in Afghanistan – why success in Afghanistan is important to the
security of Europe and to all of the nations that are partners with us there," Gates said. "And perhaps that will create the environment in which it is possible for other countries to do more."

Even so, Denmark's Gade reinforced that Danish troops will stay in the region, regardless of whether other countries commit to providing reinforcements.

"We will keep doing the job in the south," Gade said. "We have no plans whatsoever to withdraw or something like that."

Gates, when questioned about how Americans respond to U.S. soldiers' deaths there, replied that there is strong support, both public and political, for the fight in Afghanistan.

"We are in Afghanistan because we were attacked from Afghanistan. Three thousand Americans lost their lives because a
terrorist attack was planned and executed from Afghanistan," Gates said. "In terms of the American public, I think there is little question about why we are in Afghanistan."

Gates finished his visit this morning with a tour of the Danish amphibious command and control ship, the Absalon, docked here. He meets with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Foreign Affairs Minister Per Stig Moller this afternoon, and leaves tomorrow for the NATO summit conference in Bucharest.

NATO Looks to Expand Membership at Bucharest Summit

By Carol L. Bowers
American Forces Press Service

April 2, 2008 - For only the sixth time in its 59-year history, NATO is poised to expand its membership this week. At the alliance's three-day summit conference that begins today in Bucharest, Romania, officials are expected to extend an invitation to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia for NATO membership. The additions would bring the total number of member countries to 29.

NATO was founded on April 4, 1949, when 12 nations -- the United States, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom -- signed the North Atlantic Treaty, creating a unique international
security alliance.

By signing the treaty, sometimes called the Washington Treaty because it was signed in Washington, D.C., member countries agreed to work together to contribute to their mutual political, economic and
military security. As part of the common security arrangement, NATO members pledge to treat an attack on one member nation as an attack against all.

Leaders of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have spent the last four years working toward this moment, starting with the formation of the Adriatic Charter, a partnership established with the United States in May 2003 to help them work toward NATO membership.

"A common theme from us ... has been the appreciation for all that the three countries are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq," Daniel P. Fata, deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy, said at a Feb. 20 Pentagon news conference that included Albanian Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu, Croatian Defense Minister Branko Vukelic and Macedonian Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski.

The Pentagon has a long-standing, bilateral defense relationship with each country and has helped them achieve defense reforms over the past decade, Fata said, explaining why the countries are ready to join NATO.

In August 2005, the Adriatic Charter sent a combined 12-member medical team to NATO's International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, the group's first jointly conducted international mission. Albania and Macedonia both are members of the coalition in Iraq.

Albania, Croatia and Macedonia "have made amazing strides in reforming and modernizing their defense institutions," Fata said, noting they've moved from conscripted to volunteer
military forces.

Regarding the three countries' desire to join NATO, Fata observed that the "defense criteria have certainly been met, when it comes to their membership applications." The United States, he said, will advocate on behalf of the countries' bids to join NATO at the summit conference.

The alliance first expanded in 1952 to admit Greece and Turkey, with Germany following in 1955 and Spain in 1982. In the third enlargement, in 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were admitted to NATO membership. In the fifth and largest enlargement in its history, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO in 2004.

A prerequisite for NATO membership is that countries must show they have the capability to further the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty and contribute to mutual security, in addition to meeting political, economic and
military goals established in the 1995 study on NATO enlargement.

For example, a future NATO nation must demonstrate that it represents a functioning democratic political system, that the system is based on a market economy, and that it has made an overall commitment toward peaceful settlement of disputes.

Anticipating future expansions, NATO in 1999 developed the Membership Action Plan to assist aspiring member nations in becoming NATO members. Through the action plan, interested countries may submit individual national programs on their preparations for becoming members while NATO provides feedback and assessment of progress, including technical and political advice.

To join NATO, however, countries must be officially invited to begin accession talks with the alliance at its headquarters in Brussels. The talks take place in two sessions. In the first session, invitees and NATO representatives discuss political, defense and
military issues, providing an opportunity to assess whether preconditions for membership have been met.

The second session involves discussion of resources,
security and legal issues as well as the prospective member country's contribution to NATO's common budget. The assessment is determined on a proportional basis based on the size of the prospective member's economy in relation to other NATO members' economies.

Prospective member countries also are required at this stage to submit a timetable to implement measures to ensure protection of NATO classified information and prepare their
security and intelligence services to work with NATO's Office of Security.

In the second step of the accession process, prospective members must send a letter of intent to the NATO secretary-general. Next, NATO prepares accession protocols, or amendments, to the North Atlantic Treaty that allow the invited members to become legal parties to the treaty.

Once the protocols have been ratified by NATO member nations, the secretary-general invites the new countries to accede to the treaty. Upon depositing their instruments of accession with the U.S. State Department -- because the United States government is the official repository of the North Atlantic Treaty -- the invitees become NATO members.

Bush Supports Ukrainian, Georgian Aspirations for NATO Membership

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 1, 2008 - President Bush strongly endorsed Ukraine's and Georgia's aspirations to join NATO during a news conference with reporters in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv today. With Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko by his side, Bush told reporters he'll support the adoption of membership action plans for Ukraine and Georgia at the three-day NATO summit conference that starts tomorrow in Bucharest, Romania. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also is slated to attend the conference.

"In Bucharest this week, I will continue to make America's position clear: We support (membership action plans) for Ukraine and Georgia," Bush said. "Helping Ukraine move toward NATO membership is in the interest of every member in the alliance and will help advance
security and freedom in this region and around the world."

Ukraine "is the only non-NATO nation supporting every NATO mission," Bush pointed out.

"In Afghanistan and Iraq, Ukrainian troops are helping to support young democracies," Bush said. Ukrainian forces also are helping keep the peace in Kosovo, he added.

Yushchenko said his country has "received full-fledged support from the USA" to join NATO, adding that he hopes for an added "positive signal" at the NATO conference in Bucharest.

Bush reiterated that he "strongly" believes the two former Soviet republics should be admitted into NATO. This issue, he pointed out, should not be influenced by Russian concerns about U.S. wishes to install anti-ballistic missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials have publicly expressed apprehension about NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, as well as U.S. proposals to install anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Bush, who is slated to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi following the NATO conference, said he has sought to assuage the Russian president's concerns.

The U.S. president said he told Putin during a recent phone conversation that NATO is a peaceful organization that poses no threat to Russia.

Today, Bush forwarded a report to Congress about the future enlargement of NATO. That report includes, among other things, an explanation of how an invitation to each country to join NATO would affect U.S. national
security interests.

In addition, Bush said, he has "made it abundantly clear" to Putin that the proposed missile-defense system "is not aimed at defending against Russia." Bush said he likes Putin, noting the Russian president has provided strong
leadership for his country.
Gates also has been heavily involved in negotiations with the Russians over the Poland/Czech Republic missile-defense system proposal. In March, Gates was in Moscow for discussions with senior Russian defense officials about the issue.

"We had the opportunity to elaborate on a number of confidence-building measures and measures for transparency to provide assurance to the Russian Republic that our missile defense sites and radars would not constitute a threat to Russia," Gates told reporters during a March 18 news conference in Moscow.

America Supports You: MWR Worker is Troops' Substitute Mom

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

April 1, 2008 - Troops passing through Camp Buehring on the way to deployment in Iraq can find a little piece of home at the camp's recreation center, "The Oasis." The comfortable feeling certainly is not a result of the commercial decor. The center sports school-like tile floors, and tables and chairs that likely could be found in many lunchrooms. Stacks of board games and books grace the shelves near the front desk.

Only one thing can give The Oasis the homey feel not even the game table, TVs and air conditioning can convey. That would be Violet Kelly, better known as "Big Momma" to the troops.

"They sort of view me as their mother -- an older figure, a grandmother, mother, whichever way," she said. "I do think of them that way, as my own children."

Big Momma, a recreation lead for
Morale, Welfare and Recreation, knows all her children, too.

She knows, for example, what a simple DVD of a favorite movie, or sometimes any movie, can mean to a soldier moving forward. That's why she spent time one day calling out titles and making sure everyone who wanted a DVD got one.

"To me it was just fun calling out the (titles) and seeing everyone interact with them and which one they wanted, which one they didn't want," Kelly said. "They just joined right in, 'Big Momma this. Big Momma that.'"

And like a parent, she tries to treat all her children equally, which means it doesn't matter what
military someone is serving. If they're in Big Momma's house when she's handing out care package goodies, they get some too.

She makes sure they mind their Ps and Qs, as well.

"What do we say to the folks who donated those videos?" she asked when the DVDS were all distributed.

She got the usual reply, a hearty "Hooah!" That's also how she's greeted when she walks into the room and asks, "How's everybody today?" She doesn't let them off the hook easily, either. If the "Hooah!" isn't loud or enthusiastic enough, she'll ask again until everyone catches on, including any civilians who happen to be lingering.

It's always been that way at Big Momma's house, she said, adding that nobody gives Big Momma any trouble.

"I've not had anyone to give me a hard time due to the fact that if someone gives Big Momma a hard time, somebody else will take hold of them," she said. "I must say, if I ask them to clean up behind themselves, that's not a problem. They do it.

"I always tell them, 'The maid's going home. This maid ain't picking up behind nobody!" she added, laughing.

Sometimes the troops do give her a little bit of a hard time, though.

"They always tease me, 'Big Momma got her lipstick on. Big Momma always putting her lipstick on,'" she laughed. "When you get up in your age, you got to do something! You got to keep your nails done up. You got to keep a little lipstick on."

Though she'll gladly tell anyone who asks her age, she often gets disbelieving looks.

"Some of them say, 'Big Momma, you just don't look 60!'" she said through a deep, throaty laugh. "I've been telling them 60 for three years now!"

Whether her birthday cake would have glowed with 60 or 63 candles on March 13 is of no significance; the troops love her and she loves them.

"You kind of get attached to them, even if when they come in and only stay a week," she said. "Every troop that comes through here is important to me."

Kelly has had nearly three years to solidify her role as the troops' "mom away from mom." With that role comes the same heartache some mothers on the home front have felt.

"Every time I turn around, somebody will come back and say there was an accident," she said solemnly. "Some of them I do know. I've attended a few of the services for them."

Kelly's had plenty of time to get used to the trials and tribulations of
military life, however. Her husband is retired from the Navy, which means she's lived a good portion of her life overseas.

With just two exceptions, she always worked for MWR. Only Australia and Hong Kong didn't have MWR programs.

"I've been working for (MWR) for so many years, until it's just a part of me," she said. "It's hard to give up."

So when her husband accepted a position with a defense contractor that took him to Kuwait, she found a position with MWR and followed right along. It was another chance to experience a new culture, something she'd loved about being married to the
military.

She figures her children loved that part, too. Her daughter, Patricia, must have. She joined the
Air Force and is stationed in Korea. Her son lives in California.

For her boisterous nature, Kelly is quiet about one thing from her family's four-year stay in Bahrain. There they met Marla, who watched Kelly's daughter, and her husband. "I really don't like to talk about it much, but I'm very proud of our Sri Lankan family that we have sponsored," she said. "I'm very, very proud ... that they have come from having nothing to having something now."

Kelly said that even her children send money to help support Marla, her husband and their four children.

"It's better to give than to receive," Kelly said. "You know it doesn't take very much."

That's a lesson Big Momma models every day for her "children" in combat uniforms.

Missile Defense Embodies Balanced Approach, General Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 1, 2008 - In a 21st-century
security environment with diverse global threats, the United States must underpin its offensive capabilities with protective systems such as missile defense, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday. Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright said that mutually assured destruction -- the Cold War concept that global stability was achieved through the aversion to war that deadly U.S. and Russian arsenals produced -- is an outdated strategy, given today's security landscape.

"Coming out of the Cold War and having the 'luxury' of a single enemy, and moving to a world in which the threat is much more diverse, the actors are all over and global, the idea of a single strategy -- an offense-only type of construct -- just didn't seem appropriate," Cartwright told an audience at the sixth annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference here.

To adapt to realities of emerging threats, the United States developed the "New Triad," a posture that melds offensive and defensive capabilities into a unified strategy.

"The big idea was an integrated offense and defense, and the ability to pull that together and to offer the nation a broader range of tailored options against any adversary today and in the future," Cartwright said.

Highlighting the defensive side of the strategy is the missile defense system, a bundled network of ground-, sea- and space-based sensors that feed into silos capable of launching U.S. projectiles to collide with and destroy enemy missiles in flight.

Twenty-five years ago, President Ronald Reagan ushered in a new era of missile defense when he gave a landmark speech proposing a "Strategic Defense Initiative" with the intent of making nuclear missiles "impotent and obsolete."

A skeptical media famously dubbed Reagan's initiative "Star Wars."

But Cartwright said the credibility missile defense has brought the United States is apparent through American allies' embracement of the system.

Japan successfully tested the system in December when it fired a U.S.-developed missile into the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean and shot down a ballistic test missile. In Europe, U.S. officials are negotiating deals with the Czech Republic and Poland to build missile defense components on their soil.

"As we look across the globe today," Cartwright said, "this system -- which was to have as its priority defense of the
homeland, defense of our deployed forces, defense of allies and friends -- has really taken off."

The vice chairman said missile defense affords the United States greater flexibility in dealing with emerging and unknown threats.

"This is not just about what it does to others, it's also about what it allows us to do and the diversity of the threats that we can now face and address," he said. "(It reflects) the opportunity to know that nobody's crystal ball is perfect and that we're going to be surprised, but that we can react."

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 1, 2008

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., is being awarded indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for $234,000,000. This report is for the initial award for technical services to support
Air Force Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1) initiative to transformation Personnel Service Delivery Model. The Personnel Services Delivery Transformation – Strategic Partnership program is a collaborative effort with an Industry partner. At this time $9,323,500 has been obligated. Randolph AFB, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA8734-08-D-0003).

University of Hawaii of Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a modified contract for $8,000,000. This action will provide the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PanSTARRS) proposed a mufti-year program to develop and deploy a telescope data
management system. The initial effort was awarded via a Grant to the University of Hawaii (a Minority Institute) and as the various phases progressed, the Air Force determined a Cooperative Agreement would be the more appropriate instrument as now we would be substantially involved. PanSTARRS will address numerous science applications ranging from the structure of the Solar System to the properties of the Universe of the largest scales. It will be able to detect and catalog large numbers of earth-orbit crossing asteroids, or near earth objects (NEO) that present a potential threat to mankind. At this time $8,000,000 has been obligated. Kirkland AFB, N.M., is the contracting activity (FA9451-06-2-0338 P00002).

NAVY

Ultra Electronics Advanced
Tactical Systems, Inc., Austin, Texas is being awarded a $23,180,475 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract to provide the Multi-TADIL Processor (MTP) and the Air Defense Systems Integrator (ADSI) program. The contract will provide technical services and supplies for appointed systems being implemented with the U.S. Navy Data Link Systems, Communication System, and Cryptographic System. This contract is for technical, management, and logistics support to include, product development, communication systems production, and training. The contract contains options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $49,500,840. Work will be performed in Austin, Texas, (70 percent); Charleston, S.C., (10 percent); San Diego, Calif., (10 percent); Other (10 percent); and work is expected to be completed by Mar. 2010 (Mar. 2012 with options exercised). Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured because Ultra Electronics is the designer and manufacturer of the Multi-TADIL Processor (MTP) and the Air Defense Systems Integrator (ADSI)รค product line. The ADSI product line software and hardware are proprietary items belonging to Ultra Electronics. The Request for Proposal was posted on the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center E-commerce website, one offer was received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (N65236-08-D-5143).

Utah State University Research Foundation, North Logan Utah, is being awarded a $21,299,620 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion task order #0001 under previously awarded contract (N00173-08-D-2002) for research in the area of advanced space airborne, and ground support systems. This effort will require system and control station design, development, procurement, installation, software development, sensor and data link interfacing, algorithm development. Work will be performed in North Logan, Utah, and work is expected to be completed Mar. 2010. Contracting funds in the amount of $250,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was procured under a sole source basis. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Earle Industries, Portsmouth, Va., is being awarded a $10,586,448 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-4403) for maintenance, repair and alterations of USS Ponce (LPD-15) during non-drydocking CNO scheduled availability. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, Va., and work is expected to be completed by Jul. 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $10,586.448 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Corp., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $5,809,689 delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0009) for the procurement of spares in support of the Maritime Demonstration Program. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and work is expected to be completed in Feb. 2010. 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.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Special T Hosiery Mills, Inc., Burlington, N.C. is being awarded a maximum $7,092,000.00 firm fixed price, total set-aside contract for boots. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. There were 25 proposals originally solicited with 16 responses. This contract is exercising the third option year. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is April 7, 2009. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SP0100-05-D-0386).

Gates Stops in Belgium En Route to NATO Summit

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

March 31, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates stopped here briefly today for a fact-finding visit on his way to the NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania. Gates will spend only a few hours at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, receiving operational updates on NATO efforts in Afghanistan and Kosovo from
Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, the alliance's top commander.

"The secretary's looking to get a feel for the situation on the ground ... and how it's looked at from the headquarters perspective," a senior defense official, speaking on background, told reporters traveling with Gates during the flight from Andrews
Air Force Base, Md., to Brussels.

"He thought it would make sense to go to SHAPE before going to Bucharest to get a better sense how SHAPE plays in the whole decision-making process, ... and in particular, he wants to get some operational briefs on Afghanistan and on Kosovo," the official said.

This is Gates' 11th trip to Europe, but his first visit to SHAPE as defense secretary. Gates also will stop in Copenhagen, Denmark, for meetings with his Danish counterpart before going on to the summit.

America Supports You: Sports Clinic Opens for Disabled Veterans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 31, 2008 - Sixty-seven veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are among 400 disabled veterans who converged here yesterday to kick off the world's largest disabled ski clinic. Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield and Robert T. Reynolds, national commander of Disabled American Veterans, opened the 22nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic last night.

The annual six-day program, jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans, helps disabled veterans discover abilities many never knew they had or thought they'd lost.

Mansfield and Reynolds, both disabled veterans themselves, applauded participants for their willingness to push beyond their comfort zones to discover the challenges they can overcome.

"I encourage you to make the most of this," Reynolds told first-timers at the event, encouraging them to follow the lead of veterans of past winter sports clinics. "Look for inspiration in your fellow veterans, and you will find it quickly," he said.

Reynolds recalled his own first experience at the clinic after a disabling skydiving accident left him withdrawn and doubtful about his capabilities. He said he remembers "leaving this mountain a changed man," with a new sense of freedom and self-worth. "I hope the same sense of hope and confidence I gained through this event will reach you as well," he told the veterans.

Mansfield saluted the participants for applying the same qualities of dedication, pride and self-worth they demonstrated during their
military service to their rehabilitation.

"You met and adapted to life-changing circumstances," he said. "You are a source of pride to all Americans. ... You have already demonstrated that you are men and women of great courage."

The winter sports clinic is open to U.S.
military veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions. Veterans who receive health care at a VA medical facility get first priority to attend.

Participants learn adaptive skiing with mono-skis and bi-skis, as well as Alpine and Nordic skiing techniques. More advanced skiers get innovative race
training designed to identify world-class disabled skiers with potential to become Paralympic athletes.

But the clinic isn't limited to skiing. Participants are introduced to a variety of other activities and sports, including rock climbing, snowshoeing, golf, scuba diving, trapshooting, snowmobiling, sled hockey and fencing. Between their scheduled sports activities, the veterans will enjoy concerts, dances, gondola rides, a trip to a local hot springs, and educational and instructional workshops.

From start to finish, the clinic gives disabled veterans the red-carpet treatment. Yesterday afternoon, local restaurants hosted a "Taste of Snowmass" event in the town center, treating participants to their specialties. Douglas Mercatoris, Snowmass Village mayor, proclaimed the veterans honorary citizens and called them "the guardian angels of Snowmass Village,
Colorado and the United States."

Sandy Trombetta, the VA's national director for the clinic, said that even with their biggest turnout ever, the clinic staffers will continue strive to reach every participant in an individual way.

"We want each and every one person to have the best experience they could hope for," he said.

Trombetta said he had no idea that his concept of a winter sports clinic would blossom into such a resounding success. "It's the greatest show on earth," he said, not just for the transformation it evokes in participants, but also in the way it brings together people who want to support them.

"None of this is possible without the power of all the people who make it happen," Trombetta said. He pointed to the sponsors who help finance the activities and volunteers who return year after year, giving up vacation time and paying their own way to get here to work with the veterans. Among them are more than 200 certified adaptive ski instructors, including current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski
Team.

"They all want to be part of something bigger than themselves," he said. "What you see here is people really giving back to others. It still leaves me awestruck."

Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake shared Trombetta's enthusiasm about the benefits the clinic brings veterans and the forum it creates for them to support and inspire each other. He is slated to attend the closing ceremonies and award presentations April 4.

"Each year this clinic enhances the physical, social and emotional well-being of the veterans who participate in this life-changing event," Peake said. "Not only does the clinic motivate veterans, young and old, to reach for their full potential and enjoy a higher quality of life, but it also gives them a strong sense of purpose and camaraderie with their fellow veterans."

Among this year's participants is Alan "Doc" Babin, a 27-year-old
Army veteran who was among the first soldiers injured in Iraq, in March 2003. The former 82nd Airborne Division medic was rushing to the aid of a fellow soldier when he was hit several times by small-arms fire. The bullets tore through his abdomen, damaging about 90 percent of his stomach, threatening his survival.

But after more than 70 surgeries and numerous hospital stays, Babin is back at the winter sports clinic and ready to challenge himself again.

"I want to reunite with friends from last year and continue receiving the good therapy the mountain provides," he said. "The clinic gives me a sense of peacefulness."

Africa Command Makes Progress With African Allies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 31, 2008 - U.S. Africa Command is making progress in gaining acceptance in Africa, the command's deputy for civil-
military affairs said in an interview here. “We're doing OK," Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates said in a tone that indicated she'd like to do much better. Yates is the No. 2 person in U.S. Africa Command and the first civilian to hold such a position in a U.S. combatant command.

The command will reach full operational capability Oct. 1. The going hasn't been easy, AFRICOM officials said, as many African
leaders questioned the formation of the command -- calling it a U.S. grab for African resources -- while others felt the command represented the militarization of U.S. foreign policy.

The U.S. position, Yates explained, is that the command is a reorganization that allows the U.S.
military to help the Africans themselves provide security and to support the far larger U.S. civilian agency programs on the continent.

"What we are finding is that the more we explain, the more understanding (there is) that it is a reorganization," Yates said, "and that we want the security relationships to continue as they are and find ways to enrich and enhance this."

The command will provide expertise for all of Africa and surrounding island nations, with the exception of Egypt. The continent currently is split among U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command. AFRICOM will take over responsibility for programs those commands are currently running in Africa.

Africa Command also is breaking new ground in that it includes civilians from federal agencies outside the Defense Department. In addition to Yates,
leaders from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the departments of Treasury, Justice and Commerce, and other agencies are integral parts of the new command.

"We believe the new interagency approach is the way we can build more," the ambassador said. "We can buttress what we're doing to have the programs more effective."

Civilian agencies have the expertise in Africa, Yates said, adding that it's the right time for such a step. "The biggest difference I have seen in my 20 years of being involved in Africa is the Africans are taking more responsibility for themselves," she said.

Africans want to fight the nearly endemic
corruption, she said, and they understand that democracies are less likely to go to war. They also realize they need help in fighting the spread of AIDS. They understand the relationship between security and economic progress, and they believe they are up to the challenge, she added.

"They'll decide which programs they want to enrich their
security and stability, and we, hopefully, will be ready and have built a more effective 21st-century structure to work with them," Yates said.

Africa Command is a "listening command," Yates said, and command officials have taken every opportunity to explain their mission to African
leaders and the African people.

At meetings here last week, the Americans laid out their concerns about problems, and the Africans shared their perspective. Then both sides looked at the common ground.

"What's really important is for us to realize we are different, and we look at things differently," Yates said. Even the Africans differ depending on their region, their tribe, their history and their resources, she noted.

The ambassador said she believes more dialogues with more people would be helpful -- that Americans cannot stay in their stovepipes, but rather must reach out for the cross-fertilization of ideas. If that doesn't happen, she said, "we're not going to get it right."

"One of my biggest 'takeaways' (from the talks here) is that we have to find more ways for routine consultations," she said. "It's one thing for the Americans to interact with the Africans; it's also wonderful to have the Africans interacting with each other and learning from the debates that go on between them."

Face of Defense: Soldier Writes New Chapter in Family History

By Staff Sgt. J.B. Jaso III, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 31, 2008 - As some 19-year-olds are going to college, hanging out with friends and beginning their adult life, one Multinational Division Baghdad soldier is beginning his adulthood in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Army Pvt. Derk Hayes, a Peru, Ind., native, is the youngest soldier in his unit, the 25th Infantry Division's Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

From a very young age, the soldier's mother said, Hayes knew he wanted to be a soldier.

"He always said that he was going into the
Army," Candace Hayes said. She remembers him saying that when he was 6 or 7 years old. By following through on that dream, Hayes opens a new chapter in the line of his family's service.

Hayes' great-uncle, Virgil Hayes, served in the
Army during World War II and passed away in 1995, when Hayes was 6. "The last time I saw my Uncle Virgil, I told him I would join the Army," Hayes said.

His grandfathers also served. His paternal grandfather, Lyle Hayes, is a Pearl Harbor veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he suffered in Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on military forces in Hawaii. His maternal grandfather, "Hoot" Gibson, retired after serving 30 years in the
Air Force.

After attending basic combat training at Fort Benning, Ga., Hayes was assigned to the 27th Infantry Regiment "Wolfhounds" at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he spent three weeks before deploying to Iraq.

"I knew it was going to happen, but not that soon," Hayes said. "Telling my mom was hard. I care about her more than anything."

His mom was at work when she received his text message and phone call notifying her that he was deploying in weeks.

"I broke down and just started to cry," the soldier's mother said. "I just prayed, prayed and prayed; I was so scared."

Almost four months into her son's deployment, his mother admits it's been tough for her. "I'm doing better and praying for him every day," she said. "Some days I cry, but he reassures me that he's fine."

Hayes said he communicates with his mom as much as possible. Candace Hayes said she also talks with other military mothers in a social network. She is a member of the Web site www.milclub.net, which is a place for troops and their families to communicate and share their experiences. She communicates with other mothers who have children deployed, and said "they are helping me get through this."

In his first four months in Iraq, Hayes has been on more than 30 patrols, where he helps to provide
security for the brigade's embedded provincial reconstruction team as it travels throughout northwestern Baghdad's Taji neighborhood.

Hayes received his 25th Infantry Division combat patch March 9 at a ceremony here. The ceremony was a "time to pause and recollect on the gains that we are making," said
Army Lt. Col. Richard "Flip" Wilson, commander of 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment.

After presenting Hayes with his combat patch, Wilson asked the soldier to join him in front of the company formation, where he presented him with a commander's coin.

"I felt great. Getting a coin inspired me to do better," Hayes said. "I've never seen (a coin) before, and I was really amazed. I'm keeping it in my pocket below my heart."

Candace Hayes said the
military has helped her son make the transition into adulthood.

"The military changed him for the better," she said upon hearing that the battalion commander had recognized her son. "I'm really, really proud of him."

(
Army Staff Sgt. J.B. Jaso III serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)