Military News

Friday, May 16, 2008

England Calls on Congress to Pass Funding Quickly

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - The deputy secretary of defense called on Congress to act quickly to pass the fiscal 2008 supplemental legislation for the
war on terror. In a May 15 letter, Gordon England told Congress the legislation is urgent and needed before the House and Senate recess for Memorial Day.

"Absent additional Congressional action, the
Army will run out of military personnel funds by mid-June and operation and maintenance funds by early July," England said in the letter.

Civilian personnel funding and money for the Commander's Emergency Response Program also is included in the operations-and-maintenance accounts.

"CERP funding is a critical enabler that our ground force commanders are using on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan to shape the strategic environment," England wrote.

Without quick action, the program runs dry in mid-June.

If the supplemental funding is not passed by Memorial Day, DoD officials will submit to Congress two reprogramming actions on May 27. "These reprogramming actions for personnel and for O&M accounts will finance
Army operations until late July by borrowing money from other services," England said. "By that point in late July, the entire department will be in extremes, having exhausted all avenues of funding and will be unable to make payroll for both military and civilian personnel throughout the department.

"Servicemembers, including those engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, would continue to serve, but without pay since
military personnel accounts would be exhausted."

Other actions also will become necessary, including civilian furloughs, reduction to essential activities and limits to nonessential operations

Retired Baseball Players Visit Troops in Afghanistan

By Army Pvt. Tamara Gabbard
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - The Heroes of the Diamond Tour brought four retired Major League Baseball players to visit servicemembers here May 11. The
Morale, Welfare and Recreation-sponsored event featured Tim Salmon, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim right fielder; Dean Palmer, Detroit Tigers third baseman; Mike Remlinger, Atlanta Braves relief pitcher; and Jeff Nelson, New York Yankees relief pitcher.

"We were glad that these players came, because a few were fresh out of the league," said Brian P. Lee, director and tour manager.

Lee said he sought players that servicemembers could recognize. For one soldier, Lee's pick in ball players was right on the money.

"I have been watching Tim Salmon since I was a kid,"
Army Sgt. Jeff M. Lucenti said. "This is the first person I have been excited to see, and it means a lot because I was at the last game he played in."

Lucenti said he was honored to meet one of his childhood heroes. Others shared the sentiment, as well.

"We really appreciate the players coming out and sharing with us," said
Air Force Lt. Col. Rob Rocco. "Today is Mother's Day, and yet they sacrifice time to be here with us."

The major leaguers said the feelings were reciprocal.

"We wanted to come and show how much we support you," Remlinger said. "Being here with these soldiers and listening to their stories makes me realize how real this war is."

Palmer agreed and said that being able to talk with the servicemembers and listening to the things they have experienced has been one of the best experiences of his life.

The players autographed photos, papers and other memorabilia members brought in.

Some, like Rocco, plan on sending their new "treasures" home.

"What is more American than baseball?" asked Rocco, who added that he was very excited about sending his daughter a baseball that all the "heroes" signed. "This event was great."

A newly arrived airman also shared his reaction to the event.

"I haven't been here 24 hours," said
Air Force Capt. Andres Munera. "This really is a huge morale builder for me, since this is a fresh beginning for me, and my son is going to love this ball they all signed."

(
Army Pvt. Tamara Gabbard is assigned to 382nd Public Affairs Detachment.)

Gates Extols Public Service to VMI Graduates

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - America needs dedicated public servants now more than ever, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told graduates at the Virginia
Military Institute, in Lexington, Va., today. Gates congratulated the 246 graduates of the state military college on their accomplishments and said the institute has taught them lessons on the importance of public service and duty to their fellow citizens.

"For generations, VMI has graduated young people ready to raise their right hands and defend their
homeland," the secretary said. "This is something to be grateful for in any time period, but never more so than in a time of war."

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of VMI graduates taking commissions in the armed forces has risen. More than half of the class of 2008 will serve. Gates said.

"One of the strengths of America is that we have institutions like VMI, and young men and women like those sitting here today, who are answering this generation's challenge," he said. "From Kabul to Kirkuk, former VMI cadets are serving throughout the armed forces and the U.S. government in many roles: in
military intelligence, organizing reconstruction efforts, building infrastructure, and commanding troops in the field."

Since 2001, 75 VMI cadets have been mobilized for active duty, and 41 have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. "More than 1,200 graduates of VMI have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since the start of the
war on terror," Gates said. "Eight of them have not returned."

In Iraq and Afghanistan, initial
military success has given way to stability and reconstruction campaigns against brutal and adaptive insurgents, the secretary said. "This has tested the mettle of our government, our military, and the patience of our people in ways we haven't seen in a generation," he said.

Not all graduates of the institute serve in the
military, but all serve the nation in some way. Gates quoted from Gen. George C. Marshall, the most distinguished graduate of the college, who said, "Our graduates seldom amass great wealth, but just as seldom do they display weakness or indifference to their duties as citizens. They are trained to be soldiers, if there be need for soldiers. ... But what is far more important, they are trained to be good citizens."

Working as a public servant is not easy, as even Marshall found out. Following his service as the "architect of victory" in
World War Two, he was pilloried by some Americans for his actions while serving as secretary of state and secretary of defense, Gates said. Benjamin Franklin called the carping critics "bugwriters," the secretary said.

Today, the United States faces many challenges at home and abroad. "We live in a time of great necessities, a time in which we cannot avoid the burdens of global
leadership," he said. "The stakes are too high. And it is precisely during these times that America needs its best and brightest from all walks of life to step forward and commit to public service -- to exchange the life of ease and contentment and take on the burdens and the bugwriters."

If America is to continue to be a force for good and
justice and the rule of law in the world, "if America is to exercise global leadership consistent with our better angels, then the most able and idealistic of today's young people must step forward and agree to serve their country with the same honor and courage and dignity that marked the service of the long line of patriots that came before them," Gates said.

"Your country asks nothing more than that you live up to the values you have learned and lived in this place for these past four years. You owe yourself nothing less."

Seven Military Members Receive Presidential Award

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

May 16, 2008 - Seven
military members received USA Freedom Corps President's Volunteer Service Awards through the Military Volunteer Recognition Initiative in a ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building here today. USA Freedom Corps Director Henry Lozano, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, President's Council on Service and Civic Participation member Mary Jo Myers, and actor Stephen Baldwin presented the awards. Myers is the wife of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers.

The award recipients are humble about their volunteer work, Cartwright said. "We get a chance today to honor the recipients," he said. "If you gave them the microphone, they would probably be the first to tell you they ride on the shoulders of others."

Even though they come from different services and different
military components, they have one thing in common, Cartwright said. "Early in their life, they decided to serve," he said.

Each of the recipients has brought lessons and character from their
military service to their volunteer work, Cartwright said. "It's not likely to be something that's short-lived," he said. "It's something they're going to do for their whole life."

The recipients are the type of people who devote themselves to their communities, the general said, adding they are the type of behind-the-scenes people who end up mayors and policemen.

Award recipients are:

Sgt. Christopher Allias, from 4th Quartermaster Detachment at Fort Richardson, Alaska, was the
Army recipient. Allias volunteered for his unit's family readiness group and for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers organization as a driver for Airmen/Soldiers against Drunk Driving. Allias was unable to attend the ceremony.

Cpl. Sona Babani, of Headquarters Service Battalion, Manpower Management, Separation and Retirement Branch at Quantico, Va., was the
Marine recipient. Babani does most of her volunteer work for the Rappahannock Area Council for Children and Parents, in Fredericksburg, Va., helping children who have abusive parents.

Petty Officer 1st Class Haneefah Collins, assigned to the Naval
Computer and Telecommunication Area Master Station, Atlantic, at Norfolk, Va., was the Navy recipient. Collins volunteers as a Drug Education for Youth mentor and team leader.

Maj. Laird Abbott, of Headquarters
Air Force A-9 at the Pentagon, was the Air Force recipient. Abbott has for 20 years been a volunteer firefighter for five different fire departments. During the ceremony, he said he earned his inspiration from his father, who was a volunteer firefighter for 40 years.

Chief Warrant Officer Lionel Bryant, Imagery Branch chief at
Coast Guard Headquarters here, was the Coast Guard recipient. Bryant is a football and basketball coach for at-risk children, teaching the game, as well as discipline and making positive choices.

Air Force Master Sgt. Tammy Caban, assigned to the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., was the Guard recipient. Caban has volunteered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors since 2004, providing grief assistance to families who have lost a loved one serving the military. She also volunteers to help patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rene Rubiella, from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., was the reserve recipient. Rubiella is active in a religious program, Habitat for Humanity, and his local soup kitchen.

During the ceremony, Myers read a summary of each of the award recipients' work. She thanked all of them and gave them a hug afterward. But when it came to Rubiella, Myers had to take a moment to compose herself.

Rubiella lost his only daughter in 2005 in a car accident and has since created a program to teach teenagers about the dangers of driving while distracted. While reading Rubiella's citation, Myers had to pause when reading about his daughter. Rubiella reached out to touch Myers' arm, which helped her continue on.

President George W. Bush created USA Freedom Corps to build on the countless acts of service, sacrifice and generosity that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In January 2003, the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation was established as an initiative of USA Freedom Corps.

Administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the council strives to promote and recognize outstanding volunteer service and raise awareness of the many ways in which Americans can help meet the vital needs of individuals within their communities and around the world.

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

Sinise Rocks Pentagon, Supports Troops

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - Award-winning actor and part-time rocker Gary Sinise and the "Lt. Dan Band" jammed for a standing-room-only crowd in the courtyard of the Pentagon today. "Rocking at the Pentagon," Sinise exclaimed mid-set for a much-appreciative audience.

The band played for the 4th Annual America Supports You
Military Tribute Concert as part of Military Appreciation Month celebrations. The event was televised live to troops overseas via American Forces Network.

"The opportunity to reach out and make a difference, just for a few minutes if for nothing else, in the lives of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen deployed all around the world is something that is very special and a great opportunity," said
Marine Gen. General James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The crowd was packed with soldiers, family members, civilians and veterans. Overcast skies eventually gave way to the sun, and the audience warmed up to the mix of rock, pop, and country music by clapping, waving their arms and tapping their feet on the ground muddied by an overnight rain.

Sinise and his band have toured
military bases in Europe, and he has performed in Iraq three times. He heads back for his fourth trip this summer. Stateside, the band tours bases and plays on weekends when Sinise is not filming his hit TV drama, "CSI NY." Sinise has played at about 75 installations worldwide.

"It's very, very important that you know you are appreciated and that we're grateful and that we're not going to forget the sacrifices that you and your families make for our nation," he said. "We want everybody who is watching this around the world to know that we're here supporting you. We believe in you. We are depending on you. You are our volunteer defenders, and we never take that for granted."

Toward the end of the concert, Sinise broke from the stage and went into the crowd, dancing and playing with members of the audience. He sat next to wounded warrior
Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremy Stengel sitting in the front row and, while playing, asked how Stengel was recovering. The Marine said the concert was a good break from his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Stengel was injured in Iraq on Feb. 2, 2007, by a roadside bomb,

"I thought it was awesome. I thought it was amazing," Stengel said. "It's a break for us to get away from the hospital scene. We're at the hospital going through therapy day in and day out. We kind of need a break."

Sinise also sidled next to
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rene Rubiella, from 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Rubiella joined in with a little "air" guitar of his own.

Rubiella was at the Pentagon following a ceremony in which he received the President's Volunteer Service Award. "It's extraordinary. We commit our lives to freedom and supporting the Constitution," he said. "It's people like Gary that turn around and make us feel that we are appreciated and that we are loved and that there is a commitment from our nation that we are not forgotten," Rubiella said.

This was Rubiella's first time at the Pentagon. He has volunteered for multiple tours to Iraq. "I am so grateful that people take the time to commit, to volunteer their time and put on these events for our entertainment. I had a ball," he said. "It just means the world to you. It reaches your heart."

One of the most vocal members of the crowd, delivering several loud, appreciative "whoops" of support at the end of the show as the band played the finale "Proud to be an American," was
Army Lt. Col. Scott Turner.

"I just think it's great what Gary does. I think he's a true patriot," Turner said. "I'm very hopeful that he's reflective of all the men and women of the nation. And it's just great that he would take his time to come out and support the troops."

DoD Official Discusses Standards, Conduct for Federal Employees

By Jamie Findlater
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - Showing appreciation for the men and women that risk their lives to defend the United States is essential, and yet rumors and fears about ethical restrictions that limit the amount of gift giving is a concern for many philanthropic organizations. Lee Bradley, director of the Department of Defense Ethics, Standards and Conduct Office came on ASYLive BlogTalkRadio yesterday to clarify some of these concerns.

"I recognize that a whole lot of people believe that gift rules are very restrictive, ... but federal employees really live by the creed of 'public service is a public trust.' We are governed not only by our joint
ethics regulations that exist in DoD, but we are also governed by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Standards and Conduct," Bradley explained.

Bradley went on to say that many of these restrictions are actually not as prohibitive as some individuals might think. In fact, exceptions are made in many circumstances, particularly for wounded servicemembers. The basic gift rules in DoD are that government employees may not accept gifts over $20 from 'prohibited sources,' which are DoD contractors or outside entities seeking to do business with DoD or the government, or if it appears that the gift is being given because of an individual's official capacity.

"We don't want there to be an appearance that the gift is being given to curry favor with the federal government employee in order to get a leg up on the competition for certain government contracts," Bradley explained.

"If for instance, a corporation wanted to give a beautiful Waterford statue of the capital to the commanding general of Fort McNair, we would conclude that that gift was being given because of his official capacity," Bradley said, addressing the part of the law about individuals' official capacity.

However, if a gift is given to a group of individuals and not targeted to individuals specifically because of their official position, this law does not apply.

"If for instance, a wealthy philanthropist wants to invite all
Navy personnel in the San Diego area to a San Diego Padres baseball game, the Department of Ethics will then determine if [the philanthropist] is a prohibited source: Doing business with DoD? Is he attempting to get contracts with DoD? If it passes the first test and the answer is no, we then make sure that a high-ranking official is not singled out and given the ticket because of his official position. Instead, this philanthropist is giving these tickets to all Navy personnel in the area. Under these circumstances it is perfectly acceptable for the Navy personnel to accept the tickets."

These laws are further modified when it comes to wounded soldiers. "About two years ago, as a result of the public's interest in supporting the war effort, Congress passed a provision in the DoD Appropriations Act that gives the Department of Defense more latitude in this area," Bradley said.

He explained that if a "servicemember incurs a combat-related disability, or illness or injury in a combat operation or zone while on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, he or she can accept an unsolicited gift." This rule also applies to family members as long as it does not violate another statute, such as the bribery statute.

The only restriction with this law is that if the gift received is valued at an excess of $335 dollars or an excess of $1,000 dollars in multiple gifts from the same source over a year, then an
ethics official from the department must review the gift and make a written determination. This does not mean that it is unlikely that the servicemember will be able to keep the gift however, Bradley explained. "I have seen a gift of a home valued at $250,000 that had to be reviewed, and the servicemember met all qualifications and still received the home."

Bradley went on to discuss restrictions placed on public officials when attending events. "When it comes to DoD officials attending events, the organization cannot use your official title to draw people into the event, but it doesn't mean that you can't participate in these events," Bradley explained.

In addition, when attending an event, an official must be careful to not express favoritism for a specific non-federal entity thus giving it "preferred status." A general cannot say, 'The Red Cross is the nation's premier disaster-response organization.' They must instead say, "The Red Cross is one of the nation's premier disaster-response organizations. It is really just a ban on giving one organization preferred status over another."

Bradley stressed that it is incredibly important that federal employees keep up to date on this information. She encouraged anyone with questions to visit the DoD Standards of Conduct Office Web site for the latest updates.

Face of Defense: Soldier Shares Knowledge, Experience with Actors

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - The road to Hollywood is rarely paved with combat boots and camouflage, but a Hollywood of sorts is exactly where one soldier landed.
Army Capt. Gavin McCulley, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, N.C., thought he'd use his terminal leave time before permanently separating from the military to start his own business. His choice of locales was Charleston, which happens to be where Lifetime Network's top-rated "Army Wives" drama is filmed.

His plan, however, has been put on the back burner for the time being after a friend who works on "
Army Wives," introduced him to the show's producer.

"After a long conversation with the producer [about] all the things that I had seen about the show that I could help them improve, she hired me," he said.

Now McCulley, who occasionally serves as an extra on the show, spends his days on the set ensuring scenes are as true to life as possible.

He keeps an eye out for misused jargon, breech of military protocols, and especially uniform issues. Improperly worn berets caught more than one viewer's attention last season.

Those types of details are ingrained in servicemembers who take much of their
military knowledge for granted, McCulley said. For civilians, however, it can be completely foreign.

"Even though they're making their best efforts to try and understand what it is we do and how we do it, there's ultimately going to be gaps in the ability to read and understand versus what we have [lived]," he said.

The cast and crew have made great strides this season in making the Army life they portray on the show as close as they can to the real thing.

"Everybody's absolutely committed to making this the most authentic representation of
Army life as possible," McCulley said. "I've got to say, I'm really proud of it. I have immense pride in everything that has gone on in all the episodes.

"I can honestly say that they do a very good job of representing our world," he added.

McCulley is realistic about just how authentic the show can be, however. "It is drama, and it is television, and there is some artistic license," he said.

Though it worked for him, McCulley said taking the military path to arrive in "Hollywood" isn't a sure thing.

"If you want to do
military advising and you're in the military right now, I'd say watch these military shows and make a list of what you find wrong and send them in," he said. "If you're the type of person who comes up with clear-headed corrections to help make the show better, then they're more likely to come looking for you and ask you for your advice."

Viewers can check out McCulley's handy work when the new season of "
Army Wives" begins June 8. The show airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime Network.

Soldiers Missing from The Korean War are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

They are Sgt. 1st Class George W. Koon of Leesville, S.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Jack O. Tye of Loyall, Ky.; both U.S.
Army. Koon will be buried tomorrow in Leesville, and Tye will be buried Monday in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

Representatives from the
Army met with the soldiers' next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

In late November 1950, Koon was assigned to the Medical Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, and Tye was assigned to Company L, 38th Infantry Regiment. Both were members of the 2nd Infantry Division advancing north of Kunu-ri, North Korea. On Nov. 25, the Chinese
Army counterattacked the Americans in what would become known as the Battle of the Chong Chon (River). This combat was some of the fiercest of the war, and the 2nd Division initiated a fighting withdrawal to the south. Koon and Tye were captured by Chinese forces during the intense enemy fire, and subsequently died while in captivity from malnutrition and medical neglect.

In 2002, two joint U.S./Democratic People's Republic of Korea teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated and excavated a mass burial site located 20 miles northwest of Kunu-ri, along the route taken by captured U.S. POWs being moved to permanent POW camps along the Yalu River. The teams recovered remains at the site believed to be those of several U.S. servicemen, including Koon and Tye.

Among other
forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and JPAC also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in both Koon's and Tye's identification.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

America Supports You: Groups' Gathering at Pentagon Shows America's Support

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - For the 38 grassroots groups who took up a temporary home in the Pentagon's center courtyard today, the mission was clear: show support for the troops and share information about just how they do that. The groups were gathered for the 4th Annual America Supports You Salute to Our
Military Men and Women.

"It's wonderful to have these organizations here today, to have people get exposure and show the goodness coming out," said Kelly Meyer, project coordinator for Operation Iraqi Children. "A lot of it isn't shown on the news. This is one way, one day, that we get that chance [to show the goodness]."

Meyer's organization provides school supplies to troops to pass out to Iraqi and Afghan children. "We want it to be a soldier helping a child," he said. "It basically makes a peace bridge.

"[The servicemembers] are not just somebody invading your town, occupying your country," Meyer added. "These are people who are actually trying to better your future."

Actor Gary Sinise, who founded the organization with Lauren Hillenbrand, author of "Seabiscuit," also was on hand with his "Lt. Dan Band" to perform for servicemembers and Pentagon employees.

While Operation Iraqi Child is busy making sure children in Iraq and Afghanistan have what they need to learn, the Red Nose Institute is busy making sure they, and the adults around them, have a good laugh.

The institute provides servicemembers with red foam clown noses, guaranteed to at least evoke a smile, Cheryl Herrington, one of the founders, said. "I'm a psychiatric nurse, and mental health is so important," she said. "Anything we can do to cheer them up, anything we can do to let them know we care and we're thinking about them."

If the noses can make a few kids smile along the way, then all the better, she said.

Today, however, was about making sure as many people as possible know how to do that and learning new tricks of the non-profit trade from other grassroots groups on site. "Getting to talk to them and see how they do things, share ideas and just brainstorm together has helped a lot already," Herrington said.

Marine Master Sgt. Matt Torres, postal affairs chief at Marine Headquarters agreed, adding that servicemembers need and appreciate the support represented at the Pentagon today.

Torres was at the Pentagon representing "Motomail." The free program allows loved ones at home to send e-mail to deployed servicemembers, which are then printed so they can be read again and again. The
Marine Corps is the only service currently using this program.

"They need to know that America's behind them," he said. "Having been there myself, you don't realize that until you see the Motomails coming and you see the care packages coming from the support groups."

The knowledge that someone is helping take care of things on the home front provides deployed servicemembers with peace of mind, said Torres, who served in Al Asad Air Base in Iraq in 2006.

"When you're over there, insurance will expire, Mom and Dad still need taking care of, the kids still go to school," Torres said. "If [deployed troops] have that peace of mind that somebody back home is taking care of their affairs, we're going to win the war."

For their part, members of the grassroots groups said they are just here to help support the troops.

"I'm very honored to be here," said Joy Westenberg, program manager for Project Evergreen, which provides lawn care for families of deployed servicemembers, as she fought back tears. "Today, it's just to get the word out that we're here to help."

The groups represented at the Pentagon today are just 38 of the nearly 400 that support America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

America Supports You: Chrysler Initiatives an 'Investment in Freedom'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - The support Chrysler LLC offers its activated
military employees is "an investment in freedom," the company's chief executive officer said today. Bob Nardelli, Chrysler's top official, was at the Pentagon today to discuss his company's initiatives with senior defense officials.

The visit comes on the heels of the car maker's official kick off of its "Honoring Those Who Serve" program.

"We're here to talk about basically a three-pronged program," Nardelli said. "What we're trying to promote here is an awareness of the importance of, first of all, creating jobs."

There is nothing better to do for the self-esteem of servicemembers than to create job opportunities, Nardelli said. In working to make that happen, the corporation has reached out to its 3,500 dealers across the country, and all of them are on board, he said.

To support this aspect of the initiative, Chrysler is putting training programs online so when servicemembers are discharged they can already be certified, qualified and aware of opportunities available to them.

The company also offers sound financial support to its employees who are National Guardsmen and reservists.

"We make up any gap in payroll, [and] we continue to support all of their benefits [while they are activated]," Nardelli said. "Beyond that, we also have a transportation program where we offer not only active men and women, but retirees, a substantial reduction in the cost of owning any Chrysler vehicle [and] services."

In addition, Chrysler, working with home-front groups, has sent more than 300,000 care packages to deployed troops and has contributed to the Pentagon Memorial Fund.

"Those are the kinds of things we're actively involved in [to show] our kind of support, our recognition, our appreciation for these brave men and women," Nardelli said. "I think there's no higher calling than to serve their country.

"I don't think we can thank them enough," he added. "I don't think we can honor them enough."

Before departing the Pentagon, Nardelli took in some of the performance by the "Lt. Dan Band." The band, co-founded by actor Gary Sinise, plays mostly for
military audiences and was on hand for the 4th Annual America Supports You Salute to Our Military Men and Women.

Nardelli also took time to stop and talk with representatives of 38 home-front groups that attended the event to show their support of troops and share information about their groups' activities.

Chrysler is a corporate supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program that connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Andy Rooney Recognizes Top Military Communicators

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - Award-winning columnist and commentator Andy Rooney feted top Defense Department communicators here today, musing about his own days as a reporter for Stars and Stripes and the challenges and rewards of telling the story of a
military at war. Rooney, who got his journalist start covering World War Two operations in Europe, was the keynote speaker at the 2008 Department of Defense Communicators of Excellence Awards Ceremony, held here at the Defense Information School, known as DINFOS.

The annual competition recognizes the best
military journalists, broadcasters, photographers, graphic artists and videographers, all trained at DINFOS.

Navy Capt. Curry Graham, DINFOS commandant, called winners in the highly competitive competition "truly the best of the best in their field."

"Through their lenses and with their pens, their work helped communicate to the world the true sacrifice and commitment of the men and women in the U.S.
military," he said.

Rooney remembered his own days as a war correspondent, working alongside other journalistic greats including Walter Cronkite, Ernie Pyle and Lindsey Nelson.

The experience, he said, exposed him to unspeakable horrors, but also to unexpected positives: deep bonds developed among comrades, a home-front industry that rallied to support its warfighters, and a unified country that stood behind its
military. "I'm puzzled how anything as bad as war can be so good in so many different ways," he said.

"If war brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the very best," Rooney continued. "In a war, we do more. We accomplish more. Most of our lives are lived at half speed. But in war, we fulfill our potential for accomplishment. Man explores depths of his strength and his emotions that he didn't know were down there. He lives at full speed in war."

Rooney shared Graham's assertion that "truth, trust and credibility matter most in what we do as communicators."

The way to tell the story of the military, Rooney said, is to tell it all -- the good and bad alike. He said he's learned "a great fact of life" through experience: "If all the truth were known about everything by everyone, it would be a better world for all of us."

Robert M. Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and a former DINFOS instructor, thanked Rooney for his example of excellence and for taking time to recognize "the best communicators of the next greatest generation."

Hastings said he's always been impressed by the talent and motivation of military communicators who tell the stories of America's armed forces. He called their work critical to democracy.

"A democracy is sustained, it is fed, it is nurtured, and it is checked by a free press," Hastings said. "And that free press cannot operate in a democracy without a government public affairs (operation) that is equally committed to the principles of information that we today publish and call our Department of Defense Principles of Information."

Top individual awards in this year's competition went to:

--
Military graphic artist of the year: Air Force Master Sgt. W. Cody Vance, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas;

--
Military photographer of the year: Air Force Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.;

--
Military videographer of the year: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Summer M. Anderson, Combat Camera Group Pacific, San Diego;

-- Broadcast journalist of the year:
Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Kurtz, Detachment 10, American Forces Network, Tokyo;

-- Print journalist of the year:
Marine Sgt. Ethan E. Rocke, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan

More details about award winners and their entries are posted on the DINFOS Web site's Visual Information Awards program page.

Military Medical Advancements Benefit Civilian Health Care

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

May 16, 2008 - Psychological health issues and traumatic brain injuries are primary areas of study in
military medicine, a senior Department of Defense medical official said. "What we are learning in studies will lead to some major breakthroughs in the world of medicine," Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, deputy director for force health protection and readiness programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, said in an interview on the "Dot Mil Docs" program on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Kilpatrick said that the better they understand how to prevent both psychological health issues and traumatic brain injuries will lead to quicker diagnosis and improve wounded servicemembers' treatment time.

He added that the contributions
military medicine has made to the world are born out of the urgencies and contingencies encountered on the battlefield.

"When you to go to war, you don't have a fixed building or a fixed structure, and you have equipment that has to be much more mobile and much more rugged," Kilpatrick said. "So I think what the
military has learned in combat and all theaters of operation have been those contributions to medicine."

He added that technological advances since the
Vietnam War have directly benefited servicemembers' ability to survive wounds suffered in combat.

"One of the major breakthroughs in Vietnam was the use of the helicopter to transport the wounded," Kilpatrick said. "That has advanced to today's war, where we have actually flying intensive care units. Where we can put multiple people inside a large plane with nurses, technicians and doctors and safely transport them out of theater to a major hospital to get the quality care they need and deserve."

In addition, the ability to quickly move the injured out of harm's way has increased the rate at which servicemembers also recover from injuries suffered on the battlefield.

"In today's war, in the combat theater, 97 percent of those people who were wounded in theater survived those wounds because of the medical care," Kilpatrick said. "That's just a phenomenal number, and it's because that care is so immediate. Within seconds or minutes, there is medic or a corpsman there being able to use a one-handed tourniquet to stop bleeding, [or] able [to] use a 'Fibernet' cloth bandage, which is another research product, that has gone from bench to battlefield to save people's lives."
The
military medical field consists of 140,000 care providers, educators, trainers and medical researchers. These professionals work at 65 military hospitals, 412 medical clinics and 414 dental clinics.

Numerous classrooms and research laboratories around the world also are sponsored and run by all branches of the services. Some of those medical researchers have initiated the Millennium Cohort Study, which was started five years ago, in which they are studying 140,000 servicemembers over 20 years.

The servicemembers will report in every three years about their health and to be evaluated, so researchers can better understand the rigors of
military service and how it affects long-term health, Kilpatrick said.

"We are trying to look prospectively at people, and I think this is a very important study that is ongoing," she said. "We think in the next 15 years the studies will be invaluable not only to the military people, but to our civilian counterparts."

Kilpatrick also said that
military research has been directly applied to the civilian world. For instance, Lifeline helicopters that rescue civilians after highway crashes evolved from military medical-evacuation flights, she explained.

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

MILITARY CONTRACTS May 16, 2008

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

McRae Industries, Inc., Mt. Gilead, N.C.*, is being awarded a maximum $20,603,699.40 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity, total set aside contract for
Army hot weather combat boots. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. This contract is exercising option year one. This proposal was originally Web solicited with nine responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is May 16, 2009. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM1C1-07-D-1521).

NAVY

PAE Government Services, Inc.,
Los Angeles, Calif., was awarded $56,183,925 on Apr. 30, 2008, to exercise the first option period under a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract (N33191-07-D-0207) for base operating services at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, Horn of Africa. After exercise of this option, the current total contract amount will be $119,717,229. The contract contains three additional one-year option periods, which if exercised, will bring the total contract value to $177,585,524. Work will be performed in Djibouti, Africa, and work is expected to be completed Aug. 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Europe and Southwest Asia, Naples, Italy, is the contracting activity.

Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Co., – Calif., Operations, Hollister, Calif. is being awarded a $9,992,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for laser initiator system components to support the Missile Defense Agency's Ground-based Midcourse Defense System. This acquisition consists of various components of a laser initiator, and these items will be used as test assets. These items are required for life accelerated environmental testing; parametric testing critical for the identification of current failure mechanisms; analysis of root cause failures; potential refinements or upgrades; mitigation of risk; sustainment, storage, and service life involving the unique equipment of the currently deployed GMD system. Work will be performed in Hollister, Calif., and work is expected to be completed by May 2012. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-08-D-GP19).

Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $6,489,820 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-4404) for the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) FY08 Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). A PIA provides for an extensive renovation and modernization of an aircraft carrier, including alterations and repairs as well as inspection and testing to all ships systems and components ensuring safe and dependable operation of the ship. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. and work is expected to be completed by Dec. 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $6,489,820 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $30,700,000. The objective of this Technical Area Task is to provide
Air Force Communication Agency with research and technical analysis to enable information superiority both on and off the battlefield and in business operations, enable secure, integrated interoperable, and scalable information sharing and increase the ability to deliver timely war fighting power through strong identity authentication. At this time $317,858 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SPO700-98-D-4002, DO 0342).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $20,700,000. The objective of this Technical Area Task is to provide the Air Mobility Command (A6) with Information Assurance technical research and analysis for collaborative technologies and
cyber security. At this time $10,000 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SPO700-98-D-4002, DO 0346).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $20,000,000. The objective of this Technical Area Task is to provide Assistant Secretary of Defense for Network and Information Integration with research and technical analysis of NIPRNET, SIPRNET and Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System network. At this time $285,000 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SPO700-98-D-4002, DO 0341).

Centerre Government Contracting LLC of
Denver, Colo., is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $14,801,775. This action will provide cadet gym renovation phase 2, in support of the US Air Force Academy. At this time $14,801,775 has been obligated. USAF Academy, Colo., is the contracting activity (FA7000-08-C-035).

PC Specialists, Inc., (
Technology Integration Group) of San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $11,835,021.11. This action will provide for D630 Dell Latitude laptop computers (qty 895) 385 Client Pro Desktop (qty 3,664), 755 Optplex Desktop computers (qty 654) in various configurations. This procurement will provide critical replacement computer equipment to deployed forces supporting Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom throughout the United States Central Command's Area of Responsibility. The contract ensures interoperability, interchangeability, and standardization for in-theater data communication systems. At this time $11,835,021.11 has been obligated. Shaw AFB, S.C., is the contracting activity (FA4803-07-F-0032 issued against GSA Contract No. GS-35F-4188D).

Raytheon Co., of McKinney, Texas, is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $9,249,507. This action will provide for 1 Lot Group B First Article Inspection Modified LRU and Labor, 1 Lot Labor Installation of Group B Production Kits, 27 each Group B Production Kits, 1 Lot Program Management, 1 Lot Data, 1 Lot Non-Stocklisted Initial Spares, 1 Lot Provisioning IAW DD form 1423-1, 1 Lot Non-Stocklisted Initial Spares and Labor for Installation of Group B Kits, for the MC-130E AN/APQ-122(V) 8 Multi-Mode Radar KaBand Receiver Transmitter. At this time $9,249,507 has been obligated. Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8509-08-C-0013).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $9,094,119. The objective of this Technical Area Task is to provide the Aeronautical Systems Center with information assurance to ensure the requirements of the IA-enabled Communication Navigation Surveillance Air Traffic Management are incorporated I order to operate aircraft in world-wide airspace. At this time $185,217 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SPO700-98-D-4002, DO 0339).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of Herndon, Va., is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $7,700,571. The objective of this Technical Area Task is to provide the Defense
Cyber Crime Center (DC3) with information assurance to assist in combating the proliferation of computer crime affecting the Department of Defense. At this time $74,750 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SPO700-98-D-4002, DO 0338).

Cartwright: Current Generation Ready to be Next 'Greatest Generation'

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

May 16, 2008 - The current generation of warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan is poised to be the next "greatest generation," the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday. "We are a nation at war," Cartwright said. "We made a commitment to this conflict, and we've put our national treasure -- our youth -- into this fray. Tonight is an awful lot about a few of the people who represent the thousands who are out there serving every day, all over the world."

Today's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are prepared to be tomorrow's
leaders, he said.

"These citizen-soldiers, as you watch them, are going to be our nation's future," Cartwright said. "When you look at them, you can only be proud."

The vice chairman said part of the reason for being proud is their commitment to serving the nation.

"They're going to carry this idea of service through the rest of their lives," the general said. "The one thing you can see in their eyes every time you meet with them is they are, in fact, going to be this nation's next 'greatest generation.' They are incredible. What they do day in and day out, the pain they bare, the strength they have, should make every mother and father proud."

The general said the faces he sees when he travels to Iraq and Afghanistan are reflective of the American population, and they've learned to be a part of something greater than themselves.

"They represent us in every way, shape and form," the vice chairman said. "They have figured out very early in their lives that service is something special. To learn that early in life is special."

Families supporting
military members also deserve a collective thank you for their support to the nation, the general said. "The families deserve our praise," Cartwright said. "They deserve our prayers. They deserve every accolade we can possibly put on them. They keep that thing called family together for us."

The vice chairman said that being around troops is something he enjoys as a senior leader. "Each of us as leaders gets the opportunity to rub shoulders with these individuals and vicariously live out their attributes and their energy," he said.

Despite the light moments, Cartwright said, each
leader carries a burden when serving during war.

"We each go through the sacrifices. We write the letters. We go to the funerals," he said. "We become part of the family. We carry the scar tissue for life. It is just part of war."

Following his comments, Cartwright, the current longest-serving, active-duty Daedalian, presented the
Marine Corps Exceptional Pilot Award and statuette to the parents and wife of Maj. Derek Brannon, who is deployed. He also presented the Navy Exceptional Pilot Award to Vice Adm. Staser Holcomb, who accepted on behalf of Lt. Cmdr. William Mallory, and Lts. Thomas Bodine and William Mathis, who all are deployed. Finally, the general presented the Adm. James S. Russell Naval Aviation Flight Safety Award to 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

Other award recipients were:
-- Chief Warrant Officer Michael Keenan received the
Army Exceptional Pilot Award;
-- Lt. Cmdr. Eric Smith received the
Coast Guard Exceptional Pilot Award;
-- Capt. Steve Garbe and First Officer Kevin May, pilots for American Airlines, received the Daedalian Civilian Airmanship Award;
-- The Chinook helicopter team received the Daedalian Weapons Systems Award;
-- Capt. Kurt Helphinstine received the Daedalian
Air Force Pilot Award;
-- Lt. Gen. Christopher Kelly, Air Mobility Command vice commander, received the Maj. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois Memorial Award on behalf of AMC; and
-- The 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade received the Brig. Gen. Carl I. Hutton Memorial Award.

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

Mullen Lauds U.S. Troops in Armed Forces Day Message

American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - It is right for Americans to pause and honor the country's
military on Armed Forces Day tomorrow, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a message to the troops marking the event.
His full message follows:

"Today, American citizens will pause to honor those of you who accept the grave and honorable responsibility of defending our country. It is right we do so.

"The world remains a dangerous place. The hundreds of thousands of you who have deployed since September 11th -- many of you more than once -- already know that. You've stood up to those dangers. You've lost friends to them. You may even have lost a bit of yourself to them.

"You and your families have sacrificed greatly, and we appreciate it.

"The enemies we face, from radical extremists to regional powers with nuclear ambitions, directly and irrefutably threaten our vital national interests. They threaten our very way of life.

"You stand between these dangers and the American people. You accepted a grave and honorable responsibility. You signed up, took an oath, made a promise to defend something larger than yourselves. And then you went out and did it.

"Whether you serve in Baghdad or Bagram, Kabul or Kuwait -- whether you find yourself at sea in the Pacific, flying support missions over Europe, on the ground in Africa or working every day at stateside bases -- you are making a difference and so is every person in your family. Your service matters.

"Thank you and God bless."

Chiefs Testify to Historic Impact of Guard, Reserves

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 15, 2008 - The nation's top National Guard and reserve officers testified yesterday to the monumental and historic response by their forces in the nation's defense since the
terrorism attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The seven were called before the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee to answer questions about the National Guard and reserves' 2009 budget. The senators thanked the chiefs for their service and that of their troops and asked what more Congress could do to help better prepare the services for future needs.

Each chief laid before the committee pages-long opening statements detailing their services' efforts in the war on terror. The chiefs of the
Army, Navy, Air and Marine Corps reserves led the first hour-long panel, with the Army and Air National Guard and National Guard Bureau chiefs following for about the same amount of time. Questions to the group ranged from equipment shortfalls to post-deployment health concerns and family readiness.

Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz said his service was transformed "overnight" from a strategic force in reserve to an operational force that is constantly deployed.

"Between 25(,000) and 30,000 Army Reserve soldiers are mobilized at any given time in the United States and in 18 other nations around the globe," Stultz said.

Almost 194,000
Army reservists have mobilized since 9/11. Still, despite the mission increase, Stultz said, their funding levels have not increased much above what they were during the Cold War.

The service's fiscal 2008 request of $7.1 billion is only about four percent of the Army base budget, he said.

For 2009, he has asked for more money for recruiting and retention,
military education, more full-time positions and additional training days. The request also includes more money for construction of reserve centers, family programs, and post-deployment health assessments.

Marine Corps Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack W. Bergman said that nearly one-third of his force has deployed outside the United States. In the past year, the component has activated and deployed 6,600 Marines in two rotations to operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and is activating about 2,400 this year.

"While we continue to support the long war, it is not without a cost," he said. "Continuing activations and high reserve operational tempo highlights the fact that we have personnel challenges in some areas and we are putting additional strain on reserve equipment."

Bergman said the
Marine Corps Reserve faces two main equipping challenges of supporting those deployed while at the same time resetting and modernizing the force.

Still, the chief said he believes that this level of operational tempo will continue and that his force is prepared to sustain the pace for the "foreseeable future."

"Every member of Marine Forces Reserve deployed in support of the long war is fully equipped with the most current authorized individual combat clothing and equipment," he said.

Deployed
Marine Corps Reserve unit equipment readiness rates are above 90 percent. Ground equipment readiness rates for non-deployed Marine Reserve units average 88 percent

Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley said that, for the last 17 years, his force has maintained a persistent presence in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. It started with Operation Desert Storm, and "we have been continually engaged, never leaving the Persian Gulf," he said.

The
Air Force Reserve now has 74 C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy airlift crews on long-term active-duty orders in support of the war on terror. Ten reserve KC-10 Extender crews are on active-duty supporting the air bridge, aerial refueling and other airlift requirements. Reserve F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom with regularly scheduled rotations. Eighteen crews and 12 fighter aircraft are sent to U.S. CentCom annually for close-air-support missions, Bradley said.

Also, Bradley said, 60 percent of aeromedical-evacuation sorties have been flown by
Air Force Reserve crews. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the force has flown nearly 5,000 aeromedical-evacuation sorties, delivering 26,769 patients.

These missions, the chief said, have strained the component's maintenance budget.

"While we maintain sufficient combat readiness to meet our current missions, we are accepting risk in a number of critical areas. For example, depot purchased equipment maintenance is budgeted at 79 percent. This reduces aircraft availability for training and operations," he said.

Navy Reserve Chief Vice Admiral John G. Cotton said nearly 70,000 Navy reservists are deployed or in a strategic reserve ready to deploy with little notice.

Since 9/11, more than 50,000
Navy reservists have been mobilized in support of the war on terror, and on any given day, more than 21,000 sailors, or 30 percent of the Navy Reserve, are on some type of orders as part of the total naval workforce. This includes, he said, about 6,000 sailors mobilized in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Cotton cited recent successes in the readiness of his force. Four years ago, the
Navy Reserve was deemed 63 percent medically ready to deploy. Today, the force is more than 84 percent medically ready, which leads all military components.

However, he cited a non-flexible orders-processing system as a constraint to the component's readiness initiatives "Our current system has roughly 30 types of duty, including inactive duty for training, inactive duty for training-travel, annual training, active duty for training, and active duty for operational support. Numerous funding categories of orders are inefficient, wasteful and inhibit Navy's ability to access reservists and quickly respond to fleet and [combatant command] requirements," Cotton said.

Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum called 2007 a year of "historic proportions" for the National Guard.

At one point in the
war on terror, National Guard members made up almost half of the ground forces in Iraq. He called the numbers of Guardsmen supporting the war overseas "staggering." Since 9/11, more than 400,000 Guardsmen have been mobilized in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

This is in addition to the Guard's response to state emergencies. "Each day, an average of 17 governors call on their National Guard for everything from weather-related assistance to suspected anthrax contamination," Blum said in his submitted opening remarks.

Blum said that readiness for his force boils down to three things: people, equipment and training.

He said there needs to be an increase in the number of full-time personnel to help ready part-time units for deployment.

Regarding equipping the National Guard, Blum said recent commitments by Congress and DoD have boosted the Guard's readiness. "Equipment status is much better today than it was a year ago and will get better this year," he said.

Blum said the objective is to modernize the Guard force equal to that of its active-duty counterparts. Even now, though, Guard units deploy with the same equipment as active-duty units. It is the non-deployed units that still suffer from equipment shortages.

In 2006, the
Army National Guard had about 40 percent of its equipment available domestically. As of Sept. 30, 2007, that rose to about 61 percent. By the end of 2009, it will be close to 70 percent, and by 2013, it will be 77 percent, Blum said.

The Air National Guard has most of its required equipment, but its challenge will be modernizing its aging fleet of aircraft.

More resources also are needed to train Guard members, Blum said.

"We must have the resources to train the force so that we don't have to waste time when these forces are separated from their families and their business to get training they should receive before they are called up for the service of this nation," he told the panel.

Gates Calls for Faster Application of Warfighting Assets

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 16, 2008 - The Defense Department needs to worry more about what warfighters need right now than what they may need down the road, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said last night. In a speech to the Business Executives for National
Security group, Gates said he will work for the remainder of his time in office to ensure the department fulfills its "sacred obligation" to support U.S. servicemembers now fighting on the front lines.

This means doing all that is needed to "see that they are successful on the battlefield and properly cared for at home," Gates said.

The secretary received the group's Dwight D. Eisenhower Award during a dinner here and spoke of the challenges he has faced since assuming the Pentagon's top position in December 2006.

Troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan need more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, the best possible vehicles, and proper outpatient care and support when they're wounded, Gates told the group. "These are issues I take seriously -- and very personally," he said.

"These needs require the department to focus on the reality that we are in the midst of two wars and that what we can provide our soldiers and commanders three or four years hence isn't nearly as important as what we can provide them today or next month," he said.

The secretary said providing what the nation's warfighters need requires
leadership, vision and a sense of urgency. He stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles within the services such as "an unwillingness or hesitancy to upend assumptions and practices that have accumulated in a largely peacetime military establishment and an assumption that the war would soon be over, and therefore, we shouldn't impinge on programs that produce the kinds of equipment and capabilities that probably would not be needed in today's combat."

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets -- particularly unmanned aerial vehicles -- illustrate part of the problem, the secretary said. Though UAV
technology has been around for some time, he noted, the United States military was loathe to invest in the technology.

"The defense establishment didn't see the potential value or anticipate the need for this capability," he said. "Put bluntly, we suffered from a lack of vision and have struggled to catch up."

Commanders throughout the world -- but especially in Iraq and Afghanistan -- need more of these assets, the secretary said.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, he said, can give ground commanders instantaneous information about what they're facing -- such as a live look at someone planting an improvised explosive device miles down the road a convoy is using -- without putting pilots or ground-based scouts at risk.

"I've taken a special interest in UAVs, because they are ideal for many of today's tasks in today's wars," Gates said. "They give troops the tremendous advantage of seeing full-motion, real-time, streaming video over a target, such as an insurgent planting an IED on a street corner."

Since 2001, the total number of UAVs has increased 25-fold to more than 5,000, and over the past few months, the
Air Force has doubled the number of Predator UAVs supporting combat operations.

"But that's still not enough to meet the demand from commanders in the field," Gates said.

The capability requires innovative thinking and tearing down a bureaucratic culture "within all the services and within the Pentagon" that does not encourage innovation. The idea should be that every employee comes to work asking how he or she can help those in combat, the secretary said.

Gates cited the fielding of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles as another example of something that should have happened faster. The vast majority of U.S. combat deaths and wounds are the result of roadside bombs, and enemy fighters increasingly turned to armor-piercing devices as troops' Humvees were fortified.

"As with UAVs, the department didn't recognize or act on the need for large numbers of these systems early enough," Gates said.

The MRAPs have a distinctive, V-shaped hull that deflects the blast from buried explosives. It has proven invaluable in a conflict where these types of attacks have been the No. 1 killer. This capability, too, has been around for years, but the vehicles were not sent to Iraq in large quantities until last year.

"I believe that one factor that delayed fielding was the pervasive assumption ... that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would not last long -- that regimes could be toppled, major combat completed, the insurgency crushed, and most U.S. troops withdrawn fairly soon," Gates said. "The fact that these vehicles -- which cost over a million dollars each -- could potentially compete with other longer-term procurement priorities geared toward future wars probably was also a factor."

A year ago, the secretary made MRAPs the department's top procurement priority.

"In under a year, production has soared from 10 vehicles per month to over 1,200," he said. "I was particularly impressed by how quickly industry responded once the Pentagon made MRAPs a priority."

Today, more than 4,500 MRAPs are in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thousands more are on the way. "There have been 151 attacks so far on MRAPs, and all but seven soldiers have survived," Gates said. "These vehicles are saving lives and limbs."

Finally, Gates discussed the obligation the country has to ensure that those wounded receive the best possible care and get the help they need set them up for their changed lives.

"The wounded warrior program -- our highest priority apart from winning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- involved two different kinds of
leadership challenges: accountability, and reforming a lumbering outpatient health care system," Gates said.

The initiative grew out of a Washington Post series on inadequate outpatient care at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here.

"I was disappointed by the initially dismissive response of some in the Army's
leadership, who went into damage-control mode against the press and, in one case, blamed a couple of sergeants," Gates said. "Wrong move."

The secretary said he concluded responsibility lay much higher, and acted accordingly. Gates asked for and received the resignations of the
Army secretary, the Army surgeon general and the Walter Reed commander. Since then, the Veterans Affairs Department and DoD have made significant progress on providing the type of care veterans deserve, Gates said.

"We are on track to complete more than 400 recommendations resulting from the new National Defense Authorization Act and five major studies and commissions," Gates said.

But the most important change has been one of attitude and the establishment of a new way for injured personnel to receive medical treatment: warrior transition units.

"These units are responsible for shepherding injured servicemembers back to their units or helping them transition to veteran status," he said. "Thus far, the
Army has created 35 new warrior transition units, caring for over 10,000 soldiers."

Each wounded soldier is assigned a case manager, squad leader and primary care provider. The units also offer a full range of support for
military families, including personnel benefits, financial counseling, employment support, education counseling, child care, and other needs.

Another change has been to streamline the disability evaluation system, Gates told the business leaders. Servicemembers have complained bitterly about the time and hassles of the old system, rooted as it was in the peacetime military, he said. For example, servicemembers received two separate disability ratings from DoD and VA.

"We are now converting the disability evaluation system into a single and transparent process in which one disability rating would be legally binding by both organizations," Gates said. "One servicemember; one exam; one rating."

A pilot program for the new system began at Washington-area hospitals in November, and the results have been encouraging, Gates said.

"Thus far, over 300 wounded, ill or injured troops have been treated and evaluated," he said. "Early findings suggest that a better handshake between the VA and DoD could cut in half the time required to transition a veteran to full VA compensation."

DoD also is increasing the resources it applies toward one of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We are actively working to eliminate any stigma associated with PTSD," Gates said. "Over 900,000 soldiers have been trained in recent months about symptoms of PTSD and the need to seek assistance."

Gates cited the recent change to a question on mental health on the security clearance application as part of that effort.

"Too often, troops have avoided seeking help because they were worried it would affect their security clearance and perhaps their career," he said. "I announced at Fort Bliss two weeks ago that the question about mental health, as a general matter, will now exclude counseling related to service in combat, post-traumatic stress in particular. We hope this will encourage more men and women in uniform to seek help."

Gates said the men and women of the department want to do right by the men and women on the front lines.

"It's up to their leaders to clearly articulate the department's priorities and spell out, as they say in the
military, 'commander's intent,'" he said. "When we do so, the bureaucracy responds, industry responds, and the nation responds."

Gates noted he is responsible for the war strategy and for signing the deployment orders to carry it out.

"Every day, my signature on a piece of paper sends our brave men and women in harm's way," the secretary said. "At the end of the day, I must be able to look them in the eye -- be they in Kandahar or Ramadi or Walter Reed -- and tell them, truthfully, that this wealthy and generous country has done everything possible for them."