Wednesday, May 07, 2008

U.S. Military Ready to Provide Aid for Stricken Burmese, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2008 - A flotilla of U.S.
Navy vessels, rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, U.S. Air Force planes and thousands of servicemembers are ready to assist Burma's cyclone-stricken people, if asked, a senior Defense Department official said here today. "We still are prepared and stand ready to provide assistance if Burma should request it and permit access," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

Burma was hit by a powerful cyclone May 1 and 2. Officials estimate that the storm has killed as many as 30,000 Burmese, with hundreds of thousands likely injured and homeless. But efforts to persuade Burma's
military council, or junta, to allow humanitarian aid to flow into the country have been fruitless thus far, according to news reports.

The Pentagon has identified a number of resources that could be tapped to assist the Burmese, including aircraft carriers and other U.S.
Navy vessels that are posted in and around the region, Whitman said. U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft that can fly in food and clean water also are available, he said.

Burma is an eastern-Asian nation on the Bay of Bengal that's sandwiched among neighbors India, China and Thailand. Burma is slightly smaller than Texas, but it has nearly double the population, with nearly 58 million Burmese, compared to about 23 million "Lone Star State" residents, according to U.S. State Department and U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

The U.S.
Navy has three ships in the Gulf of Thailand, including the USS Essex, which boasts 23 helicopters, 1,800 Marines and five amphibious landing craft, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters yesterday. The USS Juneau and the USS Harper's Ferry also are in the region, Morrell noted.

The Pentagon also has some U.S.
Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft in the region that could be employed in any humanitarian mission for Burma, Whitman told Pentagon reporters today.

The USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the U.S.
Navy 7th Fleet, and the USS Kitty Hawk carrier strike group and the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier also are available to provide assistance to Burma, if needed, Whitman said.

The ships and planes would provide "not an insignificant amount of resources that might be available" if Burma were to request humanitarian assistance from the United States, Whitman said.

The U.S.
military has conducted previous humanitarian missions in the Pacific region, such as when Indonesia was battered by a massive tsunami in December 2005.

After that experience, the U.S.
military knows it would need portable water purification systems and airfield opening and operating teams for a possible humanitarian-aid mission to Burma, Whitman noted.

"And, those [type of assets] have been tentatively identified for possible deployment should the United States
military be asked to render assistance" to Burma, he said.

New Joint Staff Team Evaluates Wounded Warrior Programs

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2008 - A joint team formed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is looking at the broad range of care and support services for wounded warriors to find any gaps and tap into best practices to share across the force.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen stood up the Joint Staff Wounded Warrior Integration Team in late April and appointed his strategic plans and policy chief, Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, to head it up.

The team will evaluate all programs that affect wounded warriors and their families to see which are working best, which can be improved, and how to make the services they provide easier to tap into, Sattler explained during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and
American Forces Press Service.

"A lot of things are being done across the spectrum by a lot of great people. We just want to make sure that where there may be a duplication of effort, we can use those resources more wisely," he said. "And if there may be unintentional gaps and seams, we can overcome those."

Sattler noted big improvements in the care and support for wounded troops and emphasized that the task force wasn't formed to fix any particular shortcoming or problem.

"No commander stops raising the bar because they think they have hit the objective," he said. "Even if we're doing all we can do, the harder you look at things, the more often you find things you can do better."

Unlike the flurry of task forces and evaluation teams that convened last year after deficiencies at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center came to light, the new joint task force will focus heavily on what's going right, Sattler said.

"This is taking a look at things that are going well -- things that don't normally attract attention because they are humming along -- [and asking] 'Are they humming at the rpms that they should be? Could they be improved upon? Could we make life better [or] easier, could we facilitate for warriors and their families the ability to find out what they don't know?'"

Mullen dedicated "a lot of his best and brightest across the Joint Staff" to answer these questions, Sattler said. The team consists of experts from the legal, legislative affairs, public affairs and personnel fields, as well as commanders with recent combat experience. The variety of perspectives reflects "the intent of making it the best we can for our men and women," Sattler said.

The team is approaching the challenge as an operational planning team would take on a challenge at any
military command, he said. It's starting with Mullen's stated intent: "He wants to find, locate the best practices and facilitate the ability of our men and women and their families to have access to those best practices," Sattler said.

Now, the team is exploring all existing programs -- within the
military, other government agencies as well as nongovernmental and nonprofit groups – to see how they support that intent. The team will brief Mullen and the service chiefs on its findings at least every two weeks and assemble a "campaign plan" that documents all services currently available and recommended changes or improvements.

Sattler conceded that wounded warriors and their families are a "hard-core crew" who don't ask for much as they try to move forward with their lives.

"They want to take their own destiny into their own hands and they want to advance their cause," he said. "Whatever their wound may be, they want to get back to where they can function in society. No one is looking for a handout."

But it's the Defense Department's responsibility, he said, to ensure programs for wounded warriors are the best they can be.

The issue, he said, isn't about "How high have we raised the bar to support our men and women?," but rather, "How can we raise that bar even higher?"

"Until we exhaust all those efforts, ... as long as our efforts produce results that are better for the men and women and their families or make it easier for [them], then we shouldn't rest," he said.

Military Works to Eliminate Perceived Mental Health Treatment Stigma

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2008 - Why, when there's no stigma attached to getting treatment for any other combat injury, do troops hesitate to step forward to get the mental health care they need?
That's the challenge facing
military leaders as they encourage their troops suffering from combat stress to seek mental health services, said Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler, who's heading the new Joint Staff Wounded Warrior Integration Team.

Sattler, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff, said the
military's uncomplaining, can-do spirit can make some troops resist seeking treatment for what Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates calls "the unseen scars of war."

"Sometimes our toughness can be our biggest obstacle in getting those injuries healed," Sattler said.

"If you ... have been hit in battle and have an external wound, you go forward and you receive medical treatment, and you are not ashamed in any way, shape or form to go get that treatment," he said. "But for some reason, [there's a] stigma associated with a nonphysical battle injury such as traumatic brain injury or
post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We have to make sure that our men and women know there is no stigma associated with seeking the same high degree of medical care to make sure those injures are also taken care of," he said.

The Joint Staff Wounded Warrior Integration Team is focusing much of its work on better understanding PTSD and TBI and their effects, and getting people with symptoms to step forward, Sattler said.

"As the research continues and the care becomes better, it is our responsibility to make sure we alleviate the stigma and ensure our men and women looking for that type of help are unashamed about it," he said.

Getting treatment is a sign of strength, not weakness, and improves a servicemember's duty performance, he said. "They are going to perform better, they will be better warriors – soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines – if they are completely healed inside as well as outside," he said.

Gates urged senior noncommissioned officers attending the Sergeants Major Academy for their help in getting troops who need it to seek combat-related mental-health care.

"All of you have a special role in encouraging troops to seek help for the unseen scars of war -- to let them know that doing so is a sign of strength and maturity," he said during his May 1 visit to Fort Bliss, Texas. "I urge you all to talk with those below you to find out where we can continue to improve.

"Those who have sacrificed for our nation deserve the best care they can get," he continued. "As I have said before, there is no higher priority for the Department of Defense, after the war itself, than caring for our wounded warriors."



Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc.*, dba NovaSol, Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a $27,475,062 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the development of a reconnaissance and data exploitation system in support of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle sensor efforts within the Naval Air Systems Command Avionics Department. Work will be performed in Honolulu, Hawaii, and work is expected to be completed in May 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was procured via a Broad Agency Announcement. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-08-C-0110).

Oceaneering International, Inc., Chesapeake, Va.; East Coast Repair and Fabrication, Inc.*, in joint venture with Tecnico Corp.*, Norfolk, Va.; and Q.E.D. Systems, Inc.*, Va. Beach, Va., are each being awarded a $22,500,000 time-and-material, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award contract for furnishing the necessary management, technical services, labor, material, support services, and equipment to provide production support and maintenance for the accomplishment of repairs and maintenance onboard U.S.
Navy and other military type vessels, including submarines in support of Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Each contractor will receive $100,000.00 at time of award. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, Va., and work is expected to be completed by May 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $300,000will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This multiple award contract wascompetitively procured with 24 proposals solicited and sixoffers received via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, U.S. Navy, Portsmouth, Va., is the contracting activity (Oceaneering International, Inc.: N40025-08-D-8008), (East Coast Repair & Fabrication, Inc. in joint venture with Tecnico Corporation: N40025-08-D-8009), (Q.E.D.Systems, Inc.: N40025-08-D-8010).

Motorola, Inc., Columbia, Md., is being awarded a $20,000,000 modification to a previously awarded contract (N65236-06-D-5196) for hand-held radios to support the Enterprise Land Mobile Radio infrastructure. The cumulative value of this contract, including this modification, is $43,105,144. Work will be performed in Columbia, Md., and work is expected to be completed by Sept. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $20,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured through the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Space and Naval Warfare e-Commerce Central website, with six offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity.


Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc.,
Houston, Texas, was awarded on May 6, 2008, a $24,625,839 firm-fixed price and cost-reimbursement contract for Kosovo support services. Work will be performed in Texas, Germany and Kosovo, and is expected to be completed by July 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 66 bids were solicited on Sep. 29, 2003, and three bids were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Winchester, Va., is the contracting activity (W912ER-05-D-0003).

Tetra Tech FC, LLC, Alexandria, Va., was awarded on May 5, 2008, a $7,606,400 firm-fixed price contract for modifications for Building 61, the Annex, and 59. Work will be performed at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., and is expected to be completed by May 5, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Competitive, unrestricted bids were solicited on Jul. 17, 2007, and five were received. U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity (W912DR-08-C-0024).

Marine, Inc., Covington, La., was awarded on May 6, 2008, a $5,120,000 firm-fixed price contract for dredging activities. Work will be performed in St. Mary Parish, La., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 30, 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Oct. 1, 2007, and two bids were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-08-C-0055).


Northrop Grumman Mission Systems of Clearfield, Utah, is being awarded a modified cost plus fix fee contract for $7,742,385. This action will provide intercontinental ballistic missile Minuteman Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network upgrade program for the SDD Phase. The MMPU will provide an improved terminal operator control function, continue to be backward compatible with current Extremely High Frequency low data rate communications, add a future high data rate advanced Extremely High Frequency communications capability and address other system improvements in accordance with the system design and development technical requirement document. Northrop Grumman's role in this modification is to provide the system engineering oversight needed to the radio vendor (Raytheon). One Lot. At this time $1,224,548 has been obligated. Hill
Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (F42610-98-C-0001).

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, Incorporated of San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $5,948,515. This contract action will provide support for the Lynx Continuous Look Attack Management Predator Reaper MQ-9. At this time $2,619,712 has been obligated. Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8620-05-G-3028 0043).

Rolls-Royce Corp., of
Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded a contract for $5,882,181.78. This action will provide for Sole-Source Commercial Contract with Rolls Royce for Replenishment Spares Parts for the T56 Engine Program Qty of 166 each, shafts, and turbin. At this time $0 has been obligated. Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8104-08-C-0090).

'Army Wives' Cast Works to Create Realistic Military Parallel

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 6, 2008 - Drama can occasionally creep into the lives of
military families, but since last season, it's been a sure thing for the military families portrayed on Lifetime Network's top-rated show. The cast of "Army Wives" was here yesterday filming scenes for the series' upcoming second season.

The show focuses on four
Army wives, the civilian husband of an Army officer, and a handful of children as they navigate the high and not-so-high points of Army life at fictional Fort Marshall, S.C. They, like real Army families, have dealt with deployment, homecomings and other issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Out of respect for their real-life counterparts, the cast members are working to make their portrayal of
military life realistic. One viewer spotted Kim Delaney -- who plays Claudia Joy Holden in the series -- in a Charleston hotel elevator and expressed her appreciation for the show in a soft voice.

"She said, 'My daughter married into the
military, and he's over there right now, and they have a little boy, and just get it right!'" Delaney recalled, raising her voice sternly. "That's the thing I love about our show. It's extremely respectful of the military, and we're really proud of what the military's doing, and it's entertainment, but we want to show everybody what everybody goes through."

Delaney, who plays the wife of garrison commander Brig. Gen. Michael Holden, described her character as the "moral center" of the group during a break from filming of the upcoming season's fourth episode yesterday. The instruction Delaney got from the soft-spoken lady in the elevator resonates with the rest of the cast, as well.

"Now that the show has gotten some success, the
military has come on board, which is great, because now we can get all those details right," said Brian McNamara, who plays the husband of Delaney's character. "It's not very often in television that you actually feel incredibly proud of what you're doing.

"We went to Fort Bragg [N.C.] at the beginning of this season and met a number of soldiers," he continued. "They spoke to us about their experiences, and it just makes you that much prouder to be doing this and to do it right."

Getting the details right also is important to actor Drew Fuller, who plays Spc. Trevor LeBlanc.

"We are definitely the young couple on the
Army post, so a lot of how the audience learns about life on post and certain proper protocol is told through our eyes," Fuller said. "We're portraying real people. There are many E-4s out there with a wife and two kids, and it's really important that we do it right. We've got to make it right for them; we're, as a group, so proud of what they're doing for us, it's the smallest of favors that we can do for them."

The TV family endured its first separation last season when Trevor deployed to Iraq.

Making "
Army Wives" as real as possible is a top goal for Harry Bring, an Army veteran and the show's executive producer.

"What I hope happens is that we depict it properly," he said. "[I hope] that we get so much production value out of it that the audience knows that we are
military -- not just a drama about Army wives, [but also] that we do this stuff for real."

Viewers were quick to take to the Internet whenever the show missed its target of getting all the details just right last season, and the blogosphere's remarks about errantly worn berets during the first season were mild compared to what it thought of Lt. Col. Joan Burton's methods of coping with her life after returning from her Iraq. Wendy Davis, who plays Burton, heard plenty of comments regarding her character's conduct.

"I don't know if it was the drinking or the dancing on the bar. It was very interesting to live that out," Davis said of her character's experience with
post-traumatic stress disorder. "When we went to Fort Bragg, ... one of the things [the officers] shared was ... that our soldiers are not throw-away. It's really about getting them help. That was really great to hear."

Thanks in part to a former soldier who's acting as the show's
military advisor, and with tips from military family members working as extras on the set, the show is now on a truer military path.

Natalie McQueen, the wife of a deployed servicemember, has been a fan of the show since it began last year. She said she's pleased with the attention to detail she saw during her experience as an extra yesterday.

"I am a big fan. I really enjoy it," she said with her 5-year-old daughter, MacKenzie, at her side. "They portray the
military family really well. It is very realistic."

Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. John Patterson, clutching a bouquet of flowers for his TV wife, also proudly acknowledged his appreciation of "Army Wives." He called the show a credible account of military life.

"I've watched it a couple of times," said Patterson, who's activated and is stationed here. "It's a pretty good show. I was in the
Army also before I was in the Air Force, and it does portray [military life] well."

The second season of "
Army Wives," which premiers June 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Lifetime, promises plenty of surprises -- just like life in an Army family.