Military News

Friday, April 25, 2008

VA to Call Combat Veterans With Info on Care, Benefits

American Forces Press Service

April 25, 2008 - The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin contacting nearly 570,000 recent combat veterans May 1 to ensure they know about VA's medical services and other benefits. "We will reach out and touch every veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to let them know we are here for them," said Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. James B. Peake, a retired lieutenant general who served as
Army surgeon general. "VA is committed to getting these veterans the help they need and deserve."

A contractor-operated "Combat Veteran Call Center" will telephone two distinct populations of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said. In the first phase, calls will go to an estimated 17,000 veterans who were sick or injured while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. VA will offer to appoint a care manager to work with them if they don't have one already. Care managers ensure veterans receive appropriate care and know about their VA benefits.

For five years after their discharge from the
military, these combat veterans have special access to VA health care. The department screens combat veterans for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. VA personnel have been deployed to the military's major medical centers to assist wounded service members and their families during the transition to civilian lives.

The new call center's second phase will target 550,000 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who have been discharged from active duty but have not contacted VA for services. Once contacted, veterans will be informed about VA's benefits and services. The initial calls will be made by a private contractor, EDS, which specializes in
technology services to improve business. If needed, VA employees will make follow-up calls, officials said.

"We will leave no stone unturned to reach these veterans," said Dr. Edward Huycke, chief of the Veterans Affairs – Defense Department coordination office.

(From a Department of Veterans Affairs news release.)

Missing WWII Airmen are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of 11 U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

They are Capt. Robert L. Coleman, of
Wilmington, Del.; 1st Lt. George E. Wallinder, of San Antonio, Texas; 2nd Lt. Kenneth L. Cassidy, of Worcester, Mass.; 2nd Lt. Irving Schechner, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; 2nd Lt. Ronald F. Ward, of Cambridge, Mass.; Tech. Sgt. William L. Fraser, of Maplewood, Mo.; Tech. Sgt. Paul Miecias, of Piscataway, N.J.; Tech. Sgt. Robert C. Morgan, of Flint, Mich.; Staff Sgt. Albert J. Caruso, of Kearny, N.J.; Staff Sgt. Robert E. Frank, of Plainfield, N.J.; and Pvt. Joseph Thompson, of Compton, Calif; all U.S. Army Air Forces. The dates and locations of the funerals are being set by their families.

Representatives from the
Army met with the next-of-kin of these men in their hometowns to explain the recovery and identification process and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the secretary of the Army.

On Dec. 3, 1943, these men crewed a B-24D Liberator that departed Dobodura, New Guinea, on an armed-reconnaissance mission over New Hanover Island in the Bismarck Sea. The crew reported dropping their bombs on target, but in spite of several radio contacts with their base, they never returned to Dobodura. Subsequent searches failed to locate the aircraft.

In 2000, three Papua New Guineans were hunting in the forest when they came across aircraft wreckage near Iwaia village. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) was notified and began planning an investigation. In 2002, a JPAC team traveled to Deboin Village to interview two individuals who said they knew where the crash site was. However, the witnesses could not relocate the site.

In 2004, the site was found about four miles from Iwaia village in Papua New Guinea where a JPAC team found an aircraft data plate that correlated to the 1943 crash.

Between 2004 and 2007, JPAC teams conducted two excavations of the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material including some crew-related artifacts such as identification tags.

Among dental records, other
forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at or call (703) 699-1169.

JCOC Delivers School Supplies, Soccer Balls to Hondurans

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 25, 2008 - As Chris Camacho passed out soccer balls yesterday to a smiling group of local children in a dusty village just down the road from here, he thought of his father, who grew up in an impoverished area of Guadalajara, Mexico, and used to play soccer using a tube sock stuffed with rolled-up newspapers. "It took me back to him telling stories about his life growing up and of when they would have people bring them gifts," Camacho said. "When I was looking at the balls we were ready to distribute, it was definitely a moving experience, and I wanted to jump out there and just knock the ball around a little bit to see the joy on their face."

Camacho is president and chief executive officer of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation in Yuma, Ariz. He is here as part of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a Defense Department outreach program that exposes business and community
leaders to the U.S. military around the world. This JCOC, the 75th in the series, is spending the week touring U.S. Southern Command's area of operations.

Exercising both his
Spanish and his soccer skills, Camacho -- a former NCAA All-American soccer player -- kicked up the dust in a sparse, makeshift field for a few minutes with a handful of children as others in his group finished giving away school supplies.

In their stop here, Camacho and the 47 other JCOC participants delivered school supplies, soccer balls, and other recreational equipment to local children while just down the road, U.S.
Army soldiers were preparing the ground for the foundation of a new school.

"These kids were smiling ear to ear like it was Christmas," Camacho said. "I haven't seen a set of kids that were more thankful and happy than those today. And having the opportunity to see them smile and run around with them was truly moving. I just wish we could do more for them."

Camacho's father came to the United States at age 11 and went on to play professional soccer for the Rochester Lancers in the North American Soccer League. He once played against Pele, the Brazilian soccer star generally regarded as the sports all-time greatest player, who played in the United States late in his career. Camacho learned the game as soon as he could "walk and talk and run around," he said.

Camacho played in college, and then trained for a year with the St. Louis Steamers, but then decided to go into business. He still coaches and gives individual training sessions for soccer players.

With a 5-month-old son at home, the smiles on the children's faces struck a chord with Camacho, he said.

"What moved me most was these kids were extremely happy, even though they live in the area they do," Camacho said. "I saw kids 5 months to 5 years old, and the fact that they were so thankful and grinning and talking to us, it just couldn't be a more incredible experience."

This is the first time a JCOC has toured SouthCom. Though most previous trips have exposed participants to U.S.
military might, this JCOC group is seeing more of the U.S. military's humanitarian assistance and other aid-oriented missions, known as "soft power."

Today's stop included a briefing about Joint Task Force Bravo, which covers operations from Belize and Guatemala to Panama. It involves humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counter-narcoterrorism, and provides an intermediate staging base and forward operating base in the region.

U.S. officials value the region because 40 percent of U.S. trade is with Latin America and Canada. Three of the four largest contributors to U.S. oil imports are countries in the Western Hemisphere, and 90 percent of all drugs entering the United States transit Central America, officials here said.

About half of Joint Task Force Bravo's 1,200 personnel are U.S. servicemembers, and civilian contractors make up the other half.

Army forces in the region provide water purification and distribution, as well as initial disaster response and assessment teams. They deploy search-and-rescue and communications teams.

Air Force bases 10 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters in the region, along with four other Black Hawks for medical evacuation missions. They also operate four CH-47D Chinook helicopters used for cargo and passengers.

A medical team runs a mobile surgical unit, an operating and emergency room, a small hospital ward and offers ambulance, dental and pharmacy services. There is also a 24-hour
fire-protection unit and a joint security unit.

The servicemembers at the base volunteer to support the local communities. About 800 children are supported by donations to five orphanages, and Bravo servicemembers so far have donated 700 backpacks and 35,000 pounds of school supplies in the region and 900 pairs of shoes to local orphanages.

Beyond the Horizon, a U.S.
Army South-led multiservice exercise, links U.S. and Honduran engineers and medical personnel together for construction projects and missions to provide medical, dental and veterinary services for Hondurans. Plans are to renovate three schools and to build two new schools and four water towers in Honduran towns. In 2007, Joint Task Force Bravo provided $1.4 million worth of surgical services to local Hondurans.

JCOC participant Dr. Frank McGrew, vice president of Stern Cardiovascular Center in Germantown, Tenn., toured the mobile medical unit and talked with its staff.

"I've been very impressed with the people and the medical facilities," he said. "And their ability to liaison with the local medical facilities, I think, is an excellent idea, not only to provide emergency specialist care for our troops, but also to help the local population."

McGrew said he always has had an interest in foreign affairs and political science.

"I think we are in the business of building nations, one person at a time," McGrew said. "Regardless of what you do on a
military basis, you have to win the hearts and minds of the people, too. So much of the stability of a country and their relationship with the United States really depends on their personal perception of the United States."

McGrew said nothing can build a closer relationship with a country like delivering medical care to the people, because there is an immediate manifestation of the benefit.

Installing adequate water and sewage systems still takes time to eradicate diseases, he noted, and education can take half a generation to yield results. Political stability also takes a while to demonstrate benefits, he added.

"But if you set a guy's broken leg, the next day he knows what happened. He knows who did that. There's no doubt about that," McGrew said.

McGrew said he believes no agency is better suited to provide the logistical, medical and communications support for disaster and humanitarian relief than
military operations such as Joint Task Force Bravo operating continuously in a region.

"They have to have an excellent relationship with the local people to do what they do, to get the kind of things they need done," he said. "I can't think of anything better than humanitarian missions to cement that relationship.

"Also, they're here all the time," he continued. "Aid missions come and go; they're not designed to be here all the time. The
military mission is here all the time. They have the capability of providing continuing influence."

McGrew said he was impressed with the facilities and the staff of the medical team. But it is more than equipment and education that makes them stand out, he said.

"The facilities are good, the equipment is good, but the dedication and the quality of the service people at all levels ... I think is just incomparable. It makes me feel really good about the future," he said. "I was impressed with them at all levels, from the corpsmen to the chief of medicine."

Mullen Salutes 'Soldier's Soldier' on his Retirement

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 25, 2008 - In what may have been the shortest retirement speech ever,
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey looked out at the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard honor guards in formation here today and, in less than a minute, said goodbye to 33 years in uniform. "In the last two months, the Gaineys have been through a lot, and we realized something: Time is very short. And what we have decided today is to give your time back to you. So thank you very much."

With that, the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hung up his Stetson and spurs and retired after a 33-year career. Gainey advised
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and retired Marine Gen. Peter Pace on matters of concern to enlisted personnel. Gainey took over the newly created position Oct. 1, 2005.

Mullen, who hosted the ceremony at Conmy Hall here, said everyone in the Defense Department will miss Gainey and his style of
leadership. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are the sergeant major's total concern. "They are part of his family, and he cares for every single one," Mullen said.

And the sergeant major has championed their concerns. "Neither arrogance nor laziness ever drove Sergeant Major Gainey into a corner to sit and growl," the chairman said. "No, to his very last day, Joe Gainey has barked -- sometimes loudly and always effectively. For 33 years now, he's led the pack."

The chairman said the sergeant major can be proud of his service, but that pride in the
military is only part of his motivation; his real motivator is truth, the chairman said.

"It's what defines him, and as an institution, all of the services are better for it," Mullen said. "He's been vocal about policies that needed changing, and there have been changes, like the recently adopted longevity pay.

"He's been vocal about the quality of our training, and we've made improvements, like soldiers using real weapons in basic training and our enlisted troops participating in joint professional
military education."

Gainey also has been vocal about teamwork. The sergeant major believes that personnel will always be soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines or Coast Guardsmen first, but always must think about jointness. "We're that much tighter and together as a team because of it," the chairman said.

All his career, Gainey has "thrusted himself -- body, heart and soul -- into being a soldier, a professional, a leader, an honest broker and teller of the truth," Mullen said. "Our servicemen and women have all been well served, as have our NATO partners, with whom he's engaged and helped strengthen their own NCO corps."

Gainey has built relationships and has brought leaders together as a team to enhance U.S. joint and combined fighting capabilities in a time of war. "And he always stood up for his troops," the chairman said. "That's why they trust him; that's why I trust him, and that's why we'll miss him."

Gainey's concern is for all in the
military. "Sergeant Major Gainey would oftentimes come into my office," Mullen said. "You'd think he was coming in to give me an update on changes in policies or things we ought to do, and certainly he focused on that.

"But I think, more than anything else, his intent in coming in to see me was to see how I was doing, to make sure that my spirits were up. Every time he came into my office, he uplifted me in ways that are very difficult to describe. And for that, Sergeant Major, I will always be grateful."

Gainey has worked tirelessly to make things better for the troops -- the men and women who are doing the fighting and sometimes dying for the United States.

"The truth is that we give a lot of credit to the surge for our successes in Iraq," Mullen said.
Army Gens. David H. Petraeus and Raymond T. Odierno and other leaders get credit for the drops in violence there, the chairman said, along with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for holding his militia to a cease-fire.

"But make no mistake, the real credit goes to the men and women of the armed forces and the families that support them," Mullen said. "We don't give enough credit for the successes in Iraq to the troops. And that's something Sergeant Major Gainey has made sure we all know and we all understand."

The chairman noted that Gainey's efforts have helped make the
military better. "He has ensured our enlisted force is better poised to fight and win in Iraq or anywhere else they are needed," he said. "Thank you, Sergeant Major, for a job well done."

Mullen presented Gainey with the Distinguished Service Medal and Cindy Gainey, the sergeant major's wife, with the Outstanding Public Service Award.

The couple will live in Texas. No decision has been made yet on the sergeant major's replacement.

Walter Reed Medical Team Honored in Staff Appreciation Day

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 25, 2008 - Walter Reed
Army Medical Center today honored its 4,000-person team during Staff Appreciation Day, highlighting efforts over the past 14 months to improve wounded warrior care and cut delays in disability evaluations. On the sunny hospital grounds here, staff members in medical scrubs and soldiers in uniform gathered to hear officials praise the invigorated work that has improved the medical center's image in the wake of a critical investigation published early last year. Over that time, the staff also evaluated a backlogged list of more than 350 injured soldiers waiting to learn their disability status.

"Over the past year, we've looked very carefully and honestly at every aspect of health care delivery. And where we found room for improvement, the staff moved out, busted through any bureaucratic challenges, and set a new standard for care, for compassion and for healing,"
Army Col. Patricia Horoho, commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System, told the crowd.

In February 2007, the Washington Post published a series of articles that shed light on poor conditions at the hospital's outpatient facilities, describing America's wounded warrior outpatients living in moldy rooms laden with belly-up cockroaches and stained carpets, and soldiers forced to face a cumbersome bureaucracy at the center.

In the wake of the reports, President Bush established a bipartisan panel tasked to fix problems with wounded servicemembers' care. Since then, the hospital has improved housekeeping and hospitality services and its efficiency in responding to patients' needs, Horoho said, including the creation of a healthier menu with meals of higher nutritional value.

Further, the center has advanced the way it physically and administratively transfers wounded soldiers from the battlefield to the hospital and upgraded its patient and family facilities. It stepped up its process for tracking military medical histories, set up warrior transition brigades, and added new communications tools to improve coordination with patients.

"In my view, every one of you has pulled together to make this the best place to heal and to serve," Horoho said, citing several top-notch medical accreditations the hospital received recently.

But the staff's "above and beyond" achievement, the colonel said, was completing 358 backlogged medical evaluation board cases, which reduced the number of soldiers waiting for an assessment on their disability status.

"Our staff rose to this historical challenge to restore the trust and reputation of Walter Reed as the home of warrior care and the flagship of [Defense Department] medicine by providing the best care to past, present and future warriors," she said.

Army Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commander of North Atlantic Regional Medical Command at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said the "boots on the ground" response to outpatient care problems evoked the Army's warrior ethos and ensured that no fallen comrade would be left behind.

"Some people may have looked to Walter Reed as the most visible example of systemic problems," she said. "They now view Walter Reed as the solution source and the
leader in warrior care."

Providing closing remarks at the United Service Organizations-sponsored event was Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. England told the medical staff it represents what every free
American owes servicemembers who become injured while fighting on behalf of the nation.

"Tomorrow morning, every single person across this great land will wake up free," he said. "And the reason they will wake up free tomorrow -- and hopefully for generations after tomorrow -- is that, for 230 years, great Americans have stepped forward preserve those freedoms and liberties.

"It is the responsibility and obligation not just of the government, but of every single person who enjoys the fruits of those freedoms, to not only express their appreciation, but to take care of those who serve," he continued. "There could be no better calling than taking care of those who need help, and particularly those who have given us our freedoms and our liberties."

Enlistment Waiver Policy Works Well, Official Says

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

April 25, 2008 - Though the Defense Department is granting waivers to allow some recruits to enlist who it once may have rejected, the system is working well, a senior Pentagon official said today. In a conference call with online journalists and "bloggers," Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for
military personnel policy, said servicemembers who wear the uniform thanks to waivers are performing well.

"The vast majority of the conduct waivers are misdemeanors and a litany of three-or-more traffic offenses. And, with that, there are some felony arrests and a few felony convictions," Carr said.

The waivers he is referring to don't represent hardened criminals, he added, but rather people who participated in childhood pranks.

"But, in every case, if their community has joined behind them and offered their support, then the recruiter might, if we've got a strong candidate in terms of their other attributes, send it up for a waiver," he said.

Carr added that officials don't relax the standards in granting waivers, but do make exceptions based on solid judgment calls.

"Last year's [waivered enlistees] proved to perform; they retained as well as the non-waivered counterparts, and they wouldn't be retaining if they weren't performing," he said. "They are doing as well as the non-waiver crowd. Therefore, we are making correct bets on the risks that we take for someone that has done something that was that much of an aberration against what we expect of our teenagers."

If people with behavior or medical problems did make it to a training base, Carr noted, officials there would be quick to notice. "And, if it were creating a problem," he said, "my knowledge of the institution tells me that the training base isn't going to put up with it, and that practice in recruiting is going to change, and we would have heard about it."

Tattoos are an issue in
military recruiting, Carr said, and he noted that all of the services have adopted the same standard for what types of tattoos are and aren't allowed.

"Show me the tattoo," Carr said. "I'm going to check it against a book of gangs, and in the event that you have [a gang-related tattoo], you almost certainly are going to be disqualified."

Though up to about a year ago,
gang affiliation wasn't seen as a disqualification for entry into the Army, Carr said, the Army has uniformly adopted this policy with the other services. Another disqualification for entry into any of the branches of service is the presence of a tattoo that is affiliated with a hate group.

Carr acknowledged that the
Army has allowed waivers for recruits who have tattoos on visible parts of their bodies, such as on their hands and neck. "You begin limiting your market based on the kind of body art that a particular generation would apply to themselves," he said.

However, Carr said, despite the use of waivers, the standards for who the services can accept remain the same.

"We insist that the services -- every one of them, every year -- draw 60 percent from the top half [of potential recruits], and most of them are exceeding it," he said. "
Army's just about exactly at 60 percent. Our goal is a high-performing military."

Navy Lt. Jenifer Cragg is assigned to the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)



Lynden Air Cargo LLC of Anchorage, Alaska, is being awarded an estimated $108,708,861 (revised) firm fixed-price contract for international airlift services with a minimum guarantee of $47,370,492. This is a revision to the original announcement to include dollars associated with urgent missions to move Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. The United States Transportation Command Directorate of Acquisition, Scott
Air Force Base, Ill., is the contracting activity, (HTC711-07-D-0028).


Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $14,492,746. The objective of this technical area task is to provide expertise in capabilities identification, modeling simulation and airborne platform requirements to the Defense Information System Agency and other DoD agencies. At this time $1,275,726 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SPO700-98-D-4002, DO 0337).

Battelle Memorial Institute of
Columbus, Ohio, is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $10,924,258. This contract action will provide joint defense studies and analysis in the combating of weapons of mass destruction. At this time $929,880 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-00-D-3180, Delivery Order: 2543).

Boeing Co., of
Anaheim, Calif., is being awarded a modified contract for $6,284,045. This contract action will purchase engineering services from the Boeing Co., to investigate and report on failure of the Command Receiver Decoder (CRD) contained in the Minuteman III Mod seven wafer during a recent test flight at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., repair 11 Mod seven wafers (which contain two each CRDs). Boeing is also required by this effort to provide five five new CRDs. The investigative and repair effort is being awarded as a cost-plus-fixed-fee line item while the five new CRDs are being purchased as firm-fixed-price. At this time $2,910,057 has been obligated. Hill AFB, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8204-08-C-0010PZ0001).

Lockheed Martin Corp., of
Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a modified contract for $5,516,070. This action provides for twenty (20) Common Organizational Level Tester (COLT) for the F/A-22 options five and twenty (20) Common Organizational Level Tester (COLT) Accessory Kits for the F/A-22 options five. At this time $5,516,070 has been obligated. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8626-04-C-2060 P00029).


General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems,
Bloomington, Minn., is being awarded a $27,000,000 five year performance -based logistics requirements contract for performance-based logistics support of the mission computer that are part of AN/AYQ-25 (V) Electronics Protection Radio System used in support of the F/A-18 and AV-8B aircraft. Work will be performed in Bloomington, Minn., and work is expected to be completed by Apr. 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not awarded competitively. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity (N00383-08-D-010G).


Signature Science LLC,
Austin, Texas, was awarded on Apr. 17, 2008, a $4,131,342 increment of a $5,859,595 cost plus fixed fee contract for the Hyperadsorptive Atmospheric Sampling Technology program. Work will be performed in Austin, Texas, (27 percent), San Antonio, Texas (31 percent), Linthicum, Md. (12 percent), Urbana, Ill. (15 percent), Bellefonte, Pa., (14 percent), and Westbrook, Conn., (1 percent), and is expected to be completed Oct. 2009. Funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. DARPA issued a solicitation in Federal Business Opportunities on Sep. 19, 2007, and 13 proposals were received. The contracting activity is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., (HR0011-08-C-0054).

Outreach Program Participant Revisits Past

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 24, 2008 - It's been more than three decades since Tim Hudson bounced across this country's back roads in an old Bluebird bus and ended up in this historic coastal town. Yesterday, riding in a much nicer bus and rounding the bend of the "old city" banked by colonial-era, stone-fortified walls, Hudson saw something he didn't recognize -- a new part of the city built in the last decade, with high-rises and condos that service the booming tourism industry.

"None of that was here before," he said.

Hudson returned to Colombia this week as part of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a Defense Department outreach program that exposes business and community
leaders to the U.S. military around the world. This conference, the 75th in the JCOC series, is spending the week touring a handful of countries in the U.S. Southern Command area of operations.

Now the president of the University of Houston-Victoria, in Victoria, Texas, Hudson first traveled to Colombia when he was 21 after finishing his undergraduate degree in history. After college, he said, he a few buddies decided to head here to
learn Spanish. They met some local people their age and decided to ditch the classroom Spanish lessons, choosing instead to travel the countryside, going town to town learning the language "sobre la mesa" and "en la calle," or on the table and in the street, he said.

With a rucksack carrying a change of clothes and a few dollars stuck in their shoes, Hudson and his friends boarded rickety old buses that took them across the diverse countryside he grew to love.

"We were riding on these old buses," Hudson said, "so we didn't really have control over our itinerary, and it would take the long route over the mountains and zigzag roads, and I saw things that I really wasn't expecting to see -- all sorts of species of birds and animals, changes in geography in short distances from the ocean to the snow-capped mountains. The array of landscapes here is really spectacular."

Hudson said he didn't worry too much about his safety traveling then.

"I guess I was just too young to be scared," he said. "I remember being scared I would run out of money, scared I'd run out of water, scared I wouldn't get to a place that I really wanted to see, but not frightened for any other reason."

Hudson and his buddies spent about 10 days in this northern coastal town.

They walked on the beach, took rides on the fishing boats, did some shrimping, hung out in the plaza and talked with the local people. He lived in a small room on the beach, with a ceiling fan spinning off-rhythm and a bathroom that didn't function all the time.

"It's such a wonderful place. At that time you could get a little beachside room very inexpensively. [It is a] fantastic, beautiful part of Colombia," he said.

Today he toured the Colombian naval base and
coast guard headquarters here. He stepped on the wooden deck of the historic sailing ship "Gloria," the Colombian navy flagship that serves as the first training ship for Colombian sailors.

Along with the other 47 JCOC participants, Hudson also toured a modern warship docked here, and the group was given a demonstration of the high-speed "Midnight Express" patrol boats used to chase down narcoterrorists. The majority of the Colombian navy's ships are gunboats used for patrolling the country's rivers and coastlines.

Hudson said his trip to Colombia after college catapulted him into a career in international relations. He returned to the United States to earn a doctorate in geography and later worked for the U.S. State Department, where he "used the heck out of" his

"It just really transformed my world view in a way that was very positive, because I met so many wonderful people," he said. "Seeing it, smelling it, tasting it, meeting the people in all these small communities in Colombia, a place with just spectacular geography, made me realize I wanted a career and a life in international affairs."

He has since traveled to 60 different countries, but this region remains among his favorites, he said.

"Colombia is full of wonderful people who are very smart, very giving, very open. They have a wonderful view of life," Hudson said. "People always say, 'What's your favorite place?' I say that's not the right question, because it's all about the people in that place."

Hudson said he came on the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference because he is curious about the role the U.S.
military is going to play going forward in the broad sweep of U.S. foreign relations.

"I know a lot about it in the past -- the good, bad and indifferent. But I'm really curious about what that role is going to look like in the 50 years ahead of us when we genuinely live in a globalized economy," he said. "I came to learn about how people are thinking about their interactions with other parts of the world. I'm really gaining a lot of insight into that."

Hudson said he believes the support here by the U.S.
military is good for both countries in the long run.

"From what I've seen, I think that's a very positive relationship and probably a win-win. It's good for both parities, good for both countries to develop the trust relationships to work together on what is essentially a mutual problem," he said.

Besides the tours, briefings and equipment Hudson has seen on the trip, he also has had the opportunity to talk to the young Colombian soldiers.

"I think they genuinely appreciate the training, the equipment and the ability to really get on top of [the drug trafficking problem] they feel has done Colombia a disservice as a country and marked them in a way that's inappropriate for what this place really is," Hudson said.

Hudson also was able to talk with some businessmen who are seeing a different side of Colombia as a land of opportunity, a place that's going to continue to improve, and a country where investment is worthwhile.

"To me that's all positive, particularly if it leads to social development," he said.

During his stop yesterday, though, Hudson made time to sit on the steps of an old church he remembered from his travels to feed the pigeons alongside a small local child. He struck up a conversation with a woman who was selling silver in the old town square.

The downtown is a little cleaner, he recalled, maybe a little more modernized. Some of the old buildings have been restored.

But, he said, what he remembers most has not changed.

"The people are the same -- fantastic people [who are] just so easy to talk to, [with a] wonderful, kind of view of life and the world. That is pure Colombia, and that hasn't changed. Thank goodness," he said.

Navy Re-Establishes U.S. Fourth Fleet

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the re-establishment of the U.S. Fourth Fleet and assigned Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, currently serving as commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, as its new commander. Fourth Fleet will be responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

U.S. Fourth Fleet will be dual-hatted with the existing commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO), currently located in Mayport, Fla. U.S. Fourth Fleet has been re-established to address the increased role of maritime forces in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of operations, and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to regional partners.

"Re-establishing the Fourth Fleet recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere, and signals our support and interest in the civil and
military maritime services in Central and South America," said Roughead. "Our maritime strategy raises the importance of working with international partners as the basis for global maritime security. This change increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests. "

Effective July 1, the command will have operational responsibility for U.S.
Navy assets assigned from east and west coast fleets to operate in the SOUTHCOM area. As a result, U.S. Fourth Fleet will not involve an increase in forces assigned in Mayport, Fla. These assets will conduct varying missions including a range of contingency operations, counter narcoterrorism, and theater security cooperation (TSC) activities. TSC includes military-to-military interaction and bilateral training opportunities as well as humanitarian assistance and in-country partnerships.

U.S. Fourth Fleet will retain responsibility as NAVSO, the
Navy component command for SOUTHCOM. Its mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies to shape the maritime environment.

Kernan will be the first
Navy SEAL to serve as a numbered fleet commander.

For more information on U.S. Fourth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, including the map of its area of responsibility, go to

Face of Defense: From Life in India to U.S. Army, Soldier Sees the World

By U.S. Army Sgt. James Hunter
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 24, 2008 - The nearly 200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and
Marines who became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Al Faw Palace here on April 12 each took a different route to the military and their service in Iraq. Army Spc. Vivek Mishra, a chemical operations specialist born and raised in central India, took a rather unusual route to his new life. Mishra serves in Multinational Division Baghdad and is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

His father was a doctor, serving at the head of India's Department of Pharmacy. Mishra's family was wealthy; famine or war didn't bring him to the United States of America. His studies did.

He grew up in a large household that held anywhere from 25 to 40 family members at any given time. There was a lot of respect among the household's members, he said, and a major focus on family and religious values.

Often, Mishra spent time with his friends at clubs or dining out at the restaurants that lined the highways near bodies of water. When it was time for Mishra to go to college, he knew exactly the field he wanted to join. He felt he was not good at math, and he didn't like art. He wanted to be a chemist.

"At that time when I was in India, they considered it a very big thing to be a doctor," Mishra said, "but my dad never forced me to do anything. He said whatever I wanted to choose to do, do it."

After three years at the Government Science College, Mishra earned his bachelor's degree. Then, less than three years later, he earned his
master's degree in chemistry at the Rani Durgeivati University in Jabalpur, India.

"In chemistry, I love reactions," he said. "You cannot see it how it changes into another substance. When you mix two substances, it will have a reaction. I love being able to understand those things."

After earning his
master's degree, Mishra joined the doctorate program. During his studies, he said, his professor asked if he was interested in getting another master's degree at a school in the United States. He said he thought it would be a good choice, but wanted his parent's opinion on the matter first. His father told him if he stayed in India, he would just know his surroundings; however, he would not know the "real world."

Mishra arrived in the United States in 2002 and enrolled at Illinois State University to work toward another
master's degree in chemistry. He was nearly complete with his degree, he said, with one semester left and 80 percent of his thesis done, when he decided he needed to take a break from school.

He was recently married, and said he didn't make much money working as a graduate assistant at the university. He had to put college aside to provide for him and his wife. He worked a numerous jobs, but never really found his true calling. He said he wanted to work in a lab as a chemist, mixing different substances.

"At that time, I said, 'Well, I do not have this much patience to continue to look for a job,'" he recalled. After seeing an article on recruitment, he decided the next best thing for him would be the
military. Mishra recalled with a chuckle that he didn't tell his parents he'd joined the Army until he graduated from advanced individual training, where he became a chemical operations specialist.

"They were in shock," he said.

His mother didn't want him to join the
military, he said, but his parents understood he wanted to make a difference. His mother thought that no matter where he was as a soldier a bullet would find him, he said. That has not been the case.

Mishra said being in the
military is his true calling.

"I will be in the
Army for about 20 to 25 years, as long as my body permits it," he said. "It's like a big family. It's a big mental support. I have made a lot of changes within myself."

When growing up, he said, he wasn't given orders; he simply was given the choice if he wanted to do something or not.

"I have learned responsibility and order," he said.

Now that he's a soldier and a U.S. citizen, his next goal in his career is to become an officer in the chemical field.

"War is completely changing, but chemicals are still an issue," Mishra said. "The chemical corps is growing, and they need really good soldiers to understand all these things."

He said he wants to maximize his abilities with chemicals in relation to the
military. In the meantime, however, he will first soak in his new status as an American citizen.

"It's completely different now to be an American citizen. It's a good feeling," Mishra said. "Now I am on the same track as everyone. I don't think anyone treated me differently because I wasn't a citizen, but it's a mental thing."

Becoming an American citizen is an honor Mishra deserves, said
Army Capt. Robert Woodruff, his commander.

"Specialist Mishra exemplifies all that is good in an American soldier, even before he officially became a U.S. citizen," Woodruff said. "He's been through a roller coaster ride for the two years to get to this culminating point in his life. He is technically and tactically proficient in his skills as the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear expert in the company, routinely filling the shoes of a noncommissioned officer on a daily basis. He definitely deserves this."

Army Sgt. James Hunter serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Distributed Learning Initiative Delivers Training Anywhere, Any Time

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 24, 2008 - Every seven seconds, someone within the Defense Department completes an
online training course through a program that's become the gold standard for delivering education and training anywhere, any time. The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, ADL for short, has grown by leaps and bounds since defense planners proposed the concept in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review.

"We are some of the best-trained forces in the world, but they wanted to know how we can do it more effectively and more efficiently," said Paul Jesukiewicz, deputy director for the ADL Initiative. "The Office of Personnel Readiness had the vision to put this initiative together to answer that QDR question."

military services have long used the Internet to deliver individual training and education to their members. They developed electronic courseware that troops could access regardless of where they happened to be in the world or the hour of the day.

"This is bringing the training to the servicemember and civilian, rather than them having to go to the training," said Robert A. Wisher, who directs the effort.

That saves travel time and costs and reduces time away from the student's home station. And because instruction is self-paced, Wisher said, it also tends to be more effective.

Studies of distributed learning describe the phenomenon as the "rule of thirds."

"You can save money by a third, and then either improve performance by a third or reduce time by a third -- either one, but not both," Wisher explained.

The Defense Acquisition University at Fort Belvoir, Va., for example, spent $500,000 to convert its traditional defense acquisition course to a self-paced course offered through ADL. Instead of spending nine days in a resident course, plus two travel days getting to and from Fort Belvoir, students take a 25-hour online course "on their time, when they can do it," Jesukiewicz said.

The conversion offered other payoffs, too, he said. The course can now accommodate 14,000 to 15,000 students a year, not the previous 3,000. And it's cheaper for the Defense Department to maintain the course -- $1.5 million a year vs. $6 million for traditional training.

Wisher doesn't predict any end to traditional resident
military training, but said ADL offers a promising alternative or addition.

"ADL is not appropriate for everything, particularly for teaching hands-on tasks like jumping out of an airplane ... or some live-fire activities," he said. "But for much of the knowledge you need to know, with step-by-step procedures and factual information, it is a really good way to go."

Sometimes a "blended solution" is the best option, Jesukiewicz said. Students can get the basics through an online course to prepare for follow-on resident training. "The idea is, what can they do ahead of time that reduces time spent in the classroom course while maximizing its effectiveness?" he said.

As the Defense Department began promoting online training, it encountered a big problem: All the services were developing their own courses independently and couldn't share them with each other. For example, even if the
Army and Navy both offered online courses about electronics that covered many of the same topics, they both create their own courses, Jesukiewicz said.

"They realized that all this content was out there, but they couldn't talk to each other," Jesukiewicz said.

The Defense Department adopted one standard and issued an instruction requiring the services to use it when developing new courses. The standard, called SCORM -- for shareable content object reference model -- provides universal, internationally recognizable guidelines for development software content that promotes sharing.

"Specifications and standards make things work together," Wisher said. "So a course that was developed by one service can be used by another service. This allows reuse and reinvention, and repurposing of content for other uses."

That means the
military doesn't have to reinvent the wheel every time it needs a new course, explained Dan Gardner, who is leading the department's training transformation initiative. If the Marine Corps has a computer-based course on close-combat skills and the Army wants to develop one, the Army can adapt the Marines' course to its own needs. A course delivered to generals and flag officers at the National Defense University can be tailored for delivery to junior officers or noncommissioned officers.

Another advantage, Wisher said, is that students can tap into parts of courses when that's all they need.

The department is building a repository of what Gardner estimated could be tens of thousands of advanced distributed learning courses and modules, many already SCORM-compliant.

"We are basically at first base right now," Wisher said. "We have a model that brings us all together, but now it's a matter of populating the content and making that accessible, ... all through the Internet."

"We're providing virtual learning virtually anywhere," Jesukiewicz said. "This is revolutionizing the way we train people."

The effort is winning acclaim beyond the Defense Department. Other countries and government agencies are adopting SCORM standards for their online coursework.

Earlier this week, the United States Distance Learning Association honored U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Knowledge Online effort for exemplary work advancing the field of distance learning.

Joint Knowledge Development and Distribution's JKO received the association's 2008 "21st Century Best Practice" award, the highest honor it awards an organization in the industry.

The award came on the brink of JKO's one-year anniversary since it was made available to joint warfighters. In the last year, it has grown from 100 to 185 courses online, with more than 2,000 hours of online instruction.

Pentagon Staffers Bring Kids to Work for Fun, Learning

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 24, 2008 - As the children of Defense Department employees arrived in throngs for National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, they transformed the normally serene Pentagon courtyard into a veritable circus, replete with clowns, animals, and arts and crafts. And, as sometimes happens at a circus, a little boy overwhelmed by the festivities wandered away from his father.

One of the main attractions today in the balmy five-sided park was Alma, a German shepherd trained to sniff explosives for the Pentagon's police department. Alma's handler, Officer Sean McDonnell, stood by with leash in hand as children swarmed his canine comrade.

"They ask me, 'What kind of dog is she?' 'What does she do?' 'What is she trained for?'" said McDonnell, listing questions he fields from young inquisitors.

But breaking the mold of typical questions was one young boy -- about 7 years old -- who approached McDonnell with a quivering lip and a worried look in his eyes that said, "I'm lost. Can you help me find my parent?"

McDonnell reassured the youngster as the boy staved off tears. After all, the child had chosen the safest park in the world to get lost, and now he was in good hands. The officer stowed Alma in his air-conditioned cruiser and set off with the lost boy in search of his missing soldier dad.

Attaching himself to the search party was 12-year-old Denzel, who had been petting Alma when the 7-year-old arrived. Denzel -- decked out in a Boston Celtics basketball jersey and with the swagger of a grown-up seventh grader -- now fixed his attention to the search-and-reunite mission.

"Is that him?" Denzel asked, pointing at each man in digital Army camouflage who shared the missing boy's dark complexion. "What about him over there?"

McDonnell, Denzel and the lost lad walked past a kiosk where kids were making foam toys, across the grass where a father and son tossed a ball, along a concrete slab where parents and children snacked on benches and soaked up sunrays.

The three continued in the direction of arts and crafts exhibits, scanning the hundreds of parents and kids creating sand art, T-shirts and other trinkets. After about five minutes, the young boy's eye met with his father's. The boy raced across the pavement and leapt into his dad's outstretched arms.

Meanwhile, 3-year-old Alex Kosinski was another child whose attention was captured by the 2-year-old German shepherd. Alex and his sister, Samantha -- who turns 2 next week -- accompanied their father, Leonard Kosinski, to his job at the Pentagon today.

Kosinski, the Japan country director for the strategic plans and policy division of the Joint Staff, hoped the children's visit would be educational.

"They always ask, you know, 'Where do you work? What do you do?" he said. "So it's a chance for them to come in, and I try to explain not just what I do, but what we all do here at the Pentagon -- it's important."

National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a national public education program created by the Ms. Foundation in 1993. It began as Take Our Daughters to Work Day and evolved into its present format in 2003.

Sponsoring today's event was Connect and Join, which provides communication services to
military families, and the Defense Department's America Supports You program. America Supports You highlights citizen support for armed forces members at home and abroad.

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison -- the architect of America Supports You -- commemorated the fourth annual festival with a volley of praise for the day's participants. She highlighted Quilts for Warriors, an organization on hand at the event that supplies wounded troops with quilts made by American volunteers.

Addressing children in the audience, Barber said, "The most important people in this courtyard are your moms and dads who work here at the Department of Defense."

One parent handing out T-shirts at a kiosk was
Army Sgt. Daniel Reed, who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan with 82nd Airborne Division. Joining Reed today was his wife, Kathleen, and daughters, Mary and Molly, ages 12 and 5, who also helped staff the exhibits.

"What it does is kind of gives them a chance to come and see what mom and dad do at work," said Reed, describing the value children take away from their visit. He added that volunteers at the event also gain from the experience.

"Everybody that works at the Pentagon here actually supports all of the
military services, and all of these organizations are giving back. We're just trying to do the same," he said. "They need to do more things like this more often."