Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cartwright: Graduates Need to Build on Education With Experience

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 11, 2008 - Newly commissioned second lieutenants and ensigns need to use their knowledge from college, but also must be willing to pick up more knowledge through practical experience, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.
Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, speaking at Norwich University here, said the new officers will find themselves in unexpected situations in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.

The general recalled a time when local citizens needed assistance while he was on a relief exercise in Thailand.

"A farmer came up and grabbed me by the sleeve and said, 'We really need some help. Our elephants are stuck on a piece of high ground. They're sick, and we can't get any food to them.'"

After finding the location on a map and traveling to Bangkok to get some supplies, Cartwright and his sergeant major tracked down two young
Army captains who had just been commissioned as veterinarians. "I don't think they had more than two months between them with their rank on their shoulders," the general said.

Cartwright told them what the circumstances were and got a local doctor to tell them how to take care of an elephant. The veterinarians were tasked with administering antibiotics to the elephants.

The next morning, two helicopters inserted the soldiers into the jungle, the general said. With Cartwright in one helicopter and the sergeant major in the other, they "roped" down, and the veterinarians followed.

"We sat there for a second to let them get their eyes adjusted," the general said. "About the time their eyes adjusted, you could hear a little bit of a meow from a tiger."

He said they felt the rustling of the brush and realized they had been set down in the middle of the area the elephants were in. Despite the circumstances, they carried out their mission.

"That night at the bar, they were heroes, but they had new shorts on," Cartwright jokingly said.

He said that type of unpredictable experiences await newly commissioned officers.

The general said much of the knowledge young officers need isn't taught in school. "A lot of what you've learned in school is going to be important," the vice chairman said. "But there are a lot of other things you have yet to learn. Don't throw anything away, because you never know when you're going to need it."

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office).

Bush Salutes Mothers' Sacrifices in War on Terror

American Forces Press Service

May 11, 2008 - President Bush praised America's mothers, especially those who've lost sons or daughters during the
war on terror and those who gave their lives in service to their country, during his weekly radio address yesterday. An excerpt from the president's remarks follows: "On this Mother's Day weekend, we think of the many mothers who raised the brave men and women serving our country in uniform. And to those mothers, I offer the thanks of a grateful nation.

"Your sons and daughters are defending our freedom with dignity and honor, and America appreciates the sacrifices that your families make in the name of duty.

"On this Mother's Day weekend, we remember the mothers grieving a son or daughter lost in the service to their country, as well as the children who lost a mother in uniform.

"We share their pride in these wonderful Americans who have given everything to protect our people from harm. Nothing we say can ever make up for their loss.

"But, on this special day, we hold them in our hearts, and we lift them in our prayers.

"I wish every mother listening this morning a blessed Mother's Day, including my own. And I have a message for every son and daughter listening this morning: Remember to tell Mom the first thing tomorrow how much you love her."

Marines, Sailors Prepare for Possible Operations in Burma

By Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Wicks
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 11, 2008 - Marines and Sailors with the Essex Amphibious Readiness Group are preparing for possible humanitarian assistance operations to aid cyclone-stricken Burma. The Essex Amphibious Ready Group, along with 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit, is steaming to support potential humanitarian-assistance operations in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma May 1 and 2. Some estimates have put the death toll at more than 100,000. So far, the Burmese military government has allowed only one U.S. shipment of relief supplies.

"This is what we are here for,"
Navy Chief Petty Officer Andres Carillo, of the USS Essex, said. "It's our mission to help those in need."

The amphibious readiness group includes the forward-deployed amphibious ships USS Essex, USS Juneau, USS Harpers Ferry and USS Mustin. The servicemembers are working to fill more than 14,000 5-gallon plastic water bladders with fresh water. In the event of humanitarian operations, the water could be loaded onto landing craft and helicopters to be distributed to those affected by the cyclone.

"We are capitalizing on the excess water the ship has to support the victims who need it," said
Marine Capt. Ray Howard, embark officer for 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. "We want to be able have the water distributed by the quickest means possible and be on call for help so that when within reach we can send the water via helicopter and boat to the disaster areas."

The process of filling up the bladders requires a great deal of manpower and hard work, Carillo said.

Marines and sailors set up shop before filling the water bladders. The Essex's Repair Division manufactured a fresh water distribution system that mirrored a miniature farming irrigation system. Afterward, both Marines and sailors prepared large boxes to store the water bladders for transport. During the filling process, they check the pipes of the water distribution system to ensure no leakage occurs.

After each bag is filled, Marines and sailors pack the clear plastic water bladders into the boxes.

"It's great to see the Marines and sailors working together to accomplish the mission," Howard said. "It's a great show of joint-service camaraderie."

Defense Department Reviews Process for Handling Remains of Fallen Warriors

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

May 9, 2008 - The Defense Department is taking steps to ensure that remains of fallen servicemembers are always treated with the utmost respect, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters today. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates learned of problems with the
military's cremation process today, and he took immediate action, Morrell said. The department is launching an investigation into processes for handling remains of fallen warriors at the military's sole mortuary on Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

"The families of the fallen have the secretary's deepest apology," Morrell said. "Those still serving have his commitment that all members of the armed forces will be treated with the dignity and respect that their sacrifice demands."

Morrell made the announcement at a Pentagon press conference held after senior
leaders became aware of a complaint by a servicemember who works in the Pentagon about the cremation process. The servicemember complained after witnessing the cremation of a soldier's body which was returned this week from Iraq.

Because there is no cremation facility at the base, the Dover Port Mortuary contracted two local funeral homes to perform cremations. One of the mortuaries is not co-located with the funeral home and is in an industrial park in Kent County, Del. It has three incinerators, one marked for human remains, the other for pets, Morrell said.

While the facility is fully licensed, Gates believes the site and signs "are insensitive and entirely inappropriate for the dignified treatment of our fallen," Morrell said.

"There is no mission more important than the dignified return of our fallen heroes to their families and the Dover
Air Force Base team has performed this mission with great care for a number of years," Morrell said.

With Gates' approval,
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne has directed the mortuary to stop contracting the off-site crematorium and use only those crematoriums that are co-located with licensed funeral homes, Morrell said. Also, there must now be a military presence during off-base processes of funeral home facilities, he said.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Duncan McNabb will follow up on all actions and coordinate with Army staff. David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will review DoD policies on handling the remains of service members. They will determine how many soldiers' bodies were handled by the crematorium, Morrell said. He noted that while "probably more often than not" servicemembers' remains are sent to their hometowns for cremations.

It is not unusual for crematoriums to serve both humans and pets, Morrell said. "My understanding is that it's common practice."

Morrell stressed that "we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any human remains were ever mistreated." While it is permissible to cremate fallen soldiers in a facility that also cremates pets, Gates believes it is inappropriate, he said.

The servicemember who complained "did what he should have done, which was to report it to us," said Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, director of
Army staff.

"The senior
leadership of all the services holds the mission of returning our fallen comrades of the highest order of importance," Huntoon said.

Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, director of
Air Force staff, said the mortuary began contracting the facilities in 2001. Klotz said he will travel to Dover tomorrow to look into the matter. Because Dover is "a relatively small city," the mortuary is limited in its ability to contract cremation services, he said.



ITT Communications & Countermeasures Systems, Thousand Oaks, Calif., is being awarded a $26,887,508 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-6311) to exercise an option for the production and support of 353 JCREW 2.1 radio-controlled improvised explosive device electronic warfare systems to meet urgent Department of Defense requirements in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Work will be performed in Thousand Oaks, Calif., (87 percent) and Lancaster, Calif., (13 percent), and work is expected to be completed by Nov. 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington
Navy Yard, D.C. is the contracting activity.

Garco Construction LLC,
Spokane, Wash., is being awarded a $19,399,000 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of P-978 Missile Assembly Building 3 at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor Silverdale, Wash. Work will be performed in Silverdale, Wash., and work is expected to be completed Dec. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured utilizing full and open competition and was posted to the Navy Electronic Commerce On-line Web site and Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with three proposals received. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest, Silverdale, Wash., is the contracting activity (N44255-08-C-6001).

Soltek Pacific Construction Co., (Soltek),
San Diego, Calif., is being awarded $16,220,000 for firm-fixed-price task order #0003 under an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract (N62473-08-D-8609) for renovation of the Naval Exchange at Naval Base San Diego. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and work is expected to be completed by Oct. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Five proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

ILSC Holdings LC, dba Katmai Research, Van Nuys, Calif., is being awarded a ceiling price $14,000,000 delivery order contract to perform post deployment software support and system software support facility support and sustainment of the AN/TYQ-23, tactical air operations module. This contract will provide for the design, development and implementation of interface change proposals and problem change requests of tactical software for the AN/TYQ-23 version four ((V)4). No funds are associated with the base contract award. Requirements will be identified in individual delivery orders issued under this contract. Work will be performed in Van Nuys, Calif., and is work is expected to be completed in January 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured - this is a sole-source contract. ILSC Holdings, LC, is an 8(a) Alaskan Native Corporation. The
Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-08-D-2007)

Raytheon Co.,
Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $10,842,396 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5432) for technical engineering support for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile for the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium and for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Foreign Military Sales case funding will provide the funding for the UAE portion. The NATO SEASPARROW consortium, which includes the United States and nine other countries, will fund the remaining effort under this contract modification. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., (55 percent); Camden, Ariz., (2 percent); Australia, (11 percent); Canada, (7 percent); Denmark, (1 percent); Greece, (1 percent); Germany, (8 percent); The Netherlands, (6 percent); Norway, (5 percent); Spain, (3 percent); and Turkey, (1 percent), and work is expected to be completed by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1,156,284 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Walton Construction Co., LLC, Harahan, La., is being awarded $10,773,000 for firm-fixed price task order #0009 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract (N62467-05-D-0184) for construction of an 10 story air traffic control tower and renovation to bldg. 4205 the Radar Air Traffic Control Facility. Work will be performed in
Fort Worth, Texas, and work is expected to be completed by Jun. 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Three proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems Applied Technologies, Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $9,957,318 sole source, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for providing engineering and technical services in support of the NATO SEASPARROW surface missile system, target acquisition system, MK48 guided missile vertical launching system, and the Evolved SEASPARROW Missile (ESSM) and any improvements thereto. This contract to support the NATO SEASPARROW Program Office (NSPO) is a follow-on effort, which was previously performed under contract N00024-01-C-5402. The NATO SEASPARROW consortium, which includes the United States and 12 other countries, will fund most of the effort under this contract. A small amount of effort may be funded by Japan and Korea under Foreign
Military Sales program cases. Thecontract includes four options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $46,299,362. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., (72%); Silver Spring, Md., (12%); and Chesapeake, Va., (16%), and is expected to be completed by Apr. 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $311,845 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-08-C-5404).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded an $8,286,480 modification to fixed-price delivery order #0047 under an existing indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-04-D-5016) for the purchase of an additional 74 armor protection kits for Medium
Tactical Vehicle Replacement vehicles. Work will be performed in Israel (63 percent) and Oshkosh, Wis., (37 percent), and work for this delivery order is expected to be completed Jun. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $7,706,426 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Anteon Corp., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $6,541,364 cost-plus-fixed-fee option contract for services in support of the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint National Training Capability. Work will be performed in Suffolk, Va., and work is expected to be completed by May 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was awarded competitively through
Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with six offers received. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Contracting Department Philadelphia is the contracting activity (N00140-04-D-0043).

The Boeing Co., St.
Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $5,578,500 modification to a previously awarded, firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-05-C-0045) to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle services supporting the afloat forward staging base. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and work is expected to be completed in Feb. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $5,578,500 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.


Veterans Enterprises
Technology Services, LLC, Knoxville, Tenn., was awarded on May 8, 2008, a $9,818,140 firm-fixed price contract for the construction of a Center of Standardization program and dining facility. Work will be performed at Fort Sill, Okla., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Oct. 4, 2007, and four bids were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, Va., is the contracting activity (W91236-07-D-0043).

Berschauer Phillips Construction Co., Olympia, Wash., was awarded on May 8, 2008, a $9,513,500 firm-fixed price contract for the design and construction of a child development center. Work will be performed at Fort Lewis, Wash., and is expected to be completed by May 18, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Aug. 8, 2007, and three bids were received. U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle, Wash., is the contracting activity (W912DW-08-C-0005).

FN Manufacturing Inc., Columbia, S.C., was awarded on May 8, 2008, a $6,163,220 firm-fixed price contract for M249 short barrels. Work will be performed in Columbia, S.C., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 30, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Sept. 18, 2003. U.S.
Army TACOM, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (DAAE20-03-C-0100).

Astronautic of America, Inc., was awarded on Apr. 30, 2008, a $5,880,000 firm-fixed price contract for Indicator, Attitude for the CH-47 helicopter. Work will be performed in
Milwaukee, Wis., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Oct. 30, 2007. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-D-0141).


GE Aviation Systems LLC of Sterling, Va., 20166, is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $9,439,885. This requirement will establish organizational level propeller repair capability for the C-130J aircraft at eight different bases. At this time $9,439,885 has been obligated. Robbins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity FA8504-080C-0002.

Booz Allen Hamilton of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $15,452,225 (Estimated). This action will provide Mission Readiness through Survivability and Vulnerability Analysis for the U.S. Pacific Command. At this time $ 1,389,072 has been obligated. Offut AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity SP0700-03-D-1380, Delivery Order 0252.

Burma Allows One U.S. C-130 to Deliver Relief Supplies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 9, 2008 - Burmese officials have given permission for an
Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to deliver supplies to Rangoon on May 12, White House officials said here. Gordon Johndroe, deputy White House press secretary, said the United States welcomes the Burmese government's permission for the C-130 to deliver emergency relief supplies. "We hope this is the beginning of major U.S. assistance to the Burmese people," he said.

The U.S. government will continue to work with the government of Burma on additional access for the U.S. Agency for International Development, nongovernmental organizations, and international aid agencies.

"We certainly appreciate the efforts that some countries such as China and others have made to talk to the junta about the need to get help in," Johndroe said. "Clearly the junta has determined that the magnitude of this disaster requires additional assistance, and so we're pleased to be able to offer that."

Press reports out of the Asian nation have put the death toll at more than 100,000 from Cyclone Nargis, which hit the Irrawaddy River delta May 5. Burmese officials said more than 25,000 have been confirmed dead, and another 45,000 people are missing.

American aircraft are standing by in neighboring Thailand once the Burmese junta gives permission for further aid flights. In addition, USS Essex Strike Group has deployed a dozen helicopters to a Royal Thai
Air Force base.

"The helicopters and some relief supplies are being staged in Thailand because they could reach Burma in a matter of hours with relief supplies," a Defense Department official said today.

The Essex group itself is steaming to be in position to provide further aid, if allowed,
Navy officials said. The helicopters and amphibious landing craft are exceptionally useful in moving people and supplies to remote locations, inaccessible by road.

The Essex would deliver pre-positioned material. U.S. officials are working with nongovernmental organizations to determine what is most needed in the affected areas.

"We talked some this week, and the U.N. has talked some this week, about the most urgent needs, such as water purification devices as well as other issues to stop some of the water-borne diseases we're very concerned about," Johndroe said. "We're working through those details right now to see what gets loaded on that airplane.

The Burmese government has not approved visas for a U.S. government assistance team.

"We're going to continue to work with the government of Burma to allow additional access for not only U.S. assistance but also assistance from (nongovernmental organizations) and other countries," he said. "We hope this is the beginning of a long line of assistance from the United States to the people of Burma."

The U.S. C-130 will fly out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and will land in the former Burmese capital of Rangoon. Burmese officials will distribute any supplies the Hercules brings.

Carrier Strike Group Commander Stresses Interoperability, Partnerships

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

May 9, 2008 - While transiting through the Strait of Magellan on board USS George Washington today, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 8 explained the importance of interoperability and partnership building in the Southern Hemisphere. The Strait of Magellan is located along the southern edges of the South American continent.

"Because the world is mainly ocean [and] no one nation and really no one navy can meet all of the world's maritime challenges, we simply have to work together,"
Navy Rear Adm. Philip Hart Cullom said during a teleconference with online journalists and "bloggers".

He added that is the overarching reason why the strike group is participating in U.S. Southern Command's "Partnership for the Americas" program.

Cullom noted that Portuguese adventurer Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, was on a voyage of discovery when he accomplished the feat in 1520.

"He found a path between the Atlantic and the Pacific, much like we're duplicating once again 488 years later," the admiral said. "We're on our own voyage of discovery, but this one's different. It's about hemispheric partnership."

Cullom stressed the importance of achieving three goals while the strike group transits around South America.

"We want a hemisphere that is secure for all. The threats to our security from the maritime are real, such as
criminal organizations, violations of the fishing grounds, pandemic diseases and piracy," he said. "We all suffer devastating natural disasters ... [and the] threat that earthquakes, storms, floods and mudslides may impact us."

Cullom added that two other important goals of the strike group are fostering equal and cooperative relationships with the other nations in the hemisphere and supporting prosperity for the hemisphere and the world.

"We care greatly about those relationships, and this is the third year that the U.S. surface units have participated in Partnership for the Americas," he said. "This represents our ongoing commitment to building partnerships with other nations in the hemisphere."

Every day, hundreds of container ships, such as the ones that were transiting through the Strait of Magellan as Cullom spoke, rely on the open shipping lanes for worldwide trade purposes, he said.

"They transit the globe for specific purposes, for worldwide trade that directly promotes prosperity for all nations," he said. "As long as the shipping lanes are open for trade, commerce can flourish.

"When commerce is strong, economies are robust," he continued. "And a rising tide of commerce is what floats all boats."

He added that building partnerships with nations in the southern hemisphere is a key way to promote successful commerce.

"Seventy percent of the world is covered by water, 80 percent of the population lives probably within about 100 miles of a coastline, and finally, 90 percent of the world's trade directly depends on the oceans, the seas, bays, inlands, islands, coastal areas, rivers and even the airspace above them," Cullom said.

He added that even though 90 percent of the world's trade already travels through the ocean, that percentage will only increase over the next 10 to 20 years. "The maritime matters; the maritime is important. In a globalizing world, it's more important than ever."

He noted that the strike group's recent participation in UNITAS 49, a multinational naval exercise that promotes interoperability, contributed to the hemispheric partnership, providing valuable training with regional partners.

"We've conducted flight ops with Brazilian naval and
air force units for combined air defense and strike group training, and we've tested our interoperability, and we're learning from each other's capabilities and experiences," Cullom said.

The strike group conducted training not only with Brazil, but also with the Argentine navy, participating in a series of anti-submarine warfare, air defense and surface exercises.

After transiting through the Strait of Magellan, the strike group will participate in bilateral task group exercises with Chilean and air and surface units.

Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)

Gates Observes Army Future Combat Systems Progress

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 9, 2008 -
Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Flowers has served combat deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and understands firsthand what warfighters need to succeed. Last week, Flowers and his fellow soldiers from the Army Evaluation Task Force got a chance to show Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates some of the revolutionary concepts and systems they're testing to give future soldiers the upper hand on the battlefield.

The task force, from 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, stood up here in late 2006 as an operational test bed for the
Army's Future Combat Systems program.

Gates got a firsthand look during his May 1 visit here at progress in developing an advanced data and communications network that will give troops detailed, real-time battlefield information.

The first of four planned "spinouts" in the program includes testing of the Intelligent Munitions System; the
Tactical Unmanned Ground Sensor, which detects and reports on ground movement; the Urban Unmanned Ground Sensor, which detects motion inside a building; and the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, nicknamed "rockets in a box."

The Non-Light-of-Sight cannon is being tested now at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., and
Army Test and Evaluation Command will conduct an operational test on other Spinout 1 technology this summer. If all goes as hoped, its systems could be fielded within two years of the test, said Army Col. Patrick "Lee" Fetterman, Army Training and Doctrine Command's Future Combat Systems capability manager.

Gates watched preparations for those tests as the task force demonstrated how the systems can be used to track down and search a notional insurgent safe house at the Future Force Integration Directorate compound.

Sensors placed in the building – not unlike home
security devices that monitor for break-ins – relayed details about inside activity to Bradley fighting vehicles. The Bradleys, picking up movement through advances communications equipment, barreled toward the building. They stopped abruptly as their crews dismounted, breaching a chain-link fence as they ran toward their objective, smoke and dust in their wake.

When the soldiers reached the suspected safe house, they dispatched the first of 25 small unmanned ground vehicles, or SUGVs, to be tested here as their "point man." The 30-pound
tactical robot entered the building, relaying real-time images of its findings.

Ultimately, it honed in on the "insurgent" -- actually an Evaluation BCT soldier -- hiding in the dark beneath a stairwell. The soldiers stormed the building, capturing the suspect.

Flowers, who served with a reconnaissance platoon in Iraq, said he sees the clear value of systems that track enemy movement without risking or expending precious manpower.

"This would have been a great help in Iraq," he said. "You can use less manpower and keep your eyes on the objective at all times."

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Mazzarese, who joined the task force in January 2007, said likes the idea of leaving a piece of equipment, rather than one of his soldiers, behind to watch for enemy movement. "Being able to keep all my soldiers together means a lot to me," he said.

The demonstration showed progress in the Future Combat Systems program, which has been called the
Army's most ambitious and far-reaching modernization since World War Two. The program aims to tap into the most advanced technologies possible to enable FCS-equipped brigade combat teams to see the enemy first and understand his intentions, officials explained. Once they understand what the enemy is up to, they can act first and on their own terms.

"We think this is a significant increase in capability for the soldier, dismounted and mounted, in combat," said Fetterman. "I believe there is value added in all the aspects of FCS."

While each new component will offer more capability, the true value of FCS will be far greater than the sum of its individual parts,
Army Col. Michael Williamson, program manager for the FCS network, said.

"It is really the integration of all these pieces," he explained, "that will provide the commander and the soldiers so much more information and so much more capability than when you talk about individual pieces.

"So even though we are talking about the schedule of when various pieces are ready, at the end of the day, where the real impact comes, is when you start to combine all these capabilities into a package," he said.

Soldiers from the evaluation task force, most with combat experience under their belts, will combine live training, experimentation and simulation to test systems ranging from sensors to automated systems to manned vehicles.

"[The task force] ensures it all works together, and that it all provides value added to the soldier before we send it to over the theater and the soldier tries to apply it in a combat situation," Fetterman said. "Before we field it to a combat unit, these guys will tell us what's wrong with it, and we'll fix it."

Mazzarese is quick to say he'd rather be in the fight, but that his first choice of stateside assignments would be with the experimental task force.

"I've been in the
Army for 11 years, and I've seen Army equipment suddenly appear," he said. "Being here, I'm able to be at the front end of that process and articulate my impressions about equipment before it gets to the field. That's making a difference to the soldiers."

FCS testing will be conducted both here and at neighboring White Sands Missile Range, N.M., through four spinouts that will enable the
Army to build the new technology over time.

The second spinout will test a series of unmanned aerial vehicles. Spinout 3 will test varieties of unmanned ground vehicles. The final spinout will evaluate manned ground vehicles that operate from a common platform, as well as the network.

The network is evolving incrementally, with additional sensors added to it with each spinout. The goal is to have "everything together and working" by 2017, with individual components fielded during the interim, Fetterman said.

But the
Army doesn't intend to wait until then to get some of the best new technologies being developed to warfighters in the field.

Some, including unmanned aerial vehicles that can be carried in a backpack and small unmanned ground vehicles that can carry sensors into buildings, caves and other dangerous spots, are already in limited use in the combat theater.

"We're a lot farther down the road on this than people know," said Army Col. John Maddux, director for
Army Evaluation Task Force integration. "This is not about the future. It's about giving a capability to soldiers now."