Military News

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Global Partnership Works to Increase African Maritime Safety

By Seaman William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 - A multinational, multi–agency effort is working with West and Central Africa partners to increase their capability and capacity in maritime safety and
security, a senior member of that effort said yesterday. Africa Partnership Station is part of a larger initiative called Global Maritime Partnership, which was created to fight maritime threats in certain regions, U.S. Navy Capt. John Nowell, commodore of APS, told online journalists and bloggers in a conference call.

"When you look at things like
narcotics trafficking, illegal fishing, and illegal oil bunkering, no one country can go at these threats by themselves, so you need a partnership," Nowell said.

Africa Partnership Station provides a persistent presence in the western and central regions of Africa to help in building the regions' capability to deal with those threats, he explained.

The APS task force has a staff of commissioned officers and enlisted servicemembers from 11 nations.

"Collectively, this team allowed us to engage with 15 West and Central African nations using multiple platforms," Nowell said. "We were able to train over 1,500 students in 1,700-plus courses of instruction and in more than 15 discrete courses of instruction, like martial arts, small-boat operations or maritime law."

In addition to those courses, Nowell said, APS has been able to focus on the training for maritime safety and
security, conducting humanitarian assistance and community outreach.

"[APS] has distributed more than 1 million high-nutrition meals, delivered more than $3.4 million worth of medical equipment, ... and built a dual-use health clinic, as well as [conducting] medical and dental outreach," Nowell said. "Maybe more importantly, just as we take a train-the-trainer approach when we're working with the navies or coast guards here, our health professionals trained 185 midwives and 164 nurses, so that can become self-sustaining."

Because many of the African countries do not have maritime professionals, APS has tapped the U.S. Naval Reserve community to help with capability and capacity building, Nowell said. Reservists can be deployed to these countries anywhere from several weeks to five months to help with coordination and labor that's involved in the Maritime Partnership Program, he added.

Navy Seabees and U.S. Coast Guard personnel are in Africa working on several projects that include building clinics and a school, and conducting some law enforcement operations such as vessel boarding, search and seizure, Nowell noted.

In addition to being in western and central Africa, Global Maritime Partnership has started to engage eastern and southern Africa, as well.

"We're not quite to the stage of ... the Africa Partnership Station approach there yet," Nowell said. "Some of that is just the maturity of the engagement, and some, frankly, is also the issue of resources. Right now it's West and Central Africa, and then as additional assets become available, we will continue the engagement on a more limited basis off East and South Africa."

While APS hasn't moved to the inland countries yet, Nowell said, U.S.
Army and Marine Corps involvement could lead to that.

Army expressed interest, and we will probably have Marines on board [the USS Nashville] do some training," he said. "So while we're not necessarily doing that with the inland countries right now, that doesn't mean you couldn't."

Navy Seaman William Selby works in the New Media branch of the Defense Media Activity.)

VA Secretary Focuses on Continuum of Care

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 - Five months after taking the helm of the nation's second-largest Cabinet department, the secretary of veterans affairs laid out his priorities and talked of transitioning the organization to meet the needs of veterans today as well as those of the next generation. Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. James B. Peake, a retired
Army lieutenant general and a cardiac surgeon, spoke at the National Press Club here yesterday.

The Vietnam veteran and former
Army surgeon general said he is focusing on providing a better transition of care, enabling more efficient claims processing, leveraging information technology and poising the department for the future.

Peake said he sees his department working more closely with others, such as the Defense Department, to provide a continuum of care for troops leaving the

"We're, for the first time in quite a while, in a shooting war where we have soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines coming back from a combat zone," he said.

His department's focus, Peake said, should be on "helping those men and women who are returning from overseas to be able to reintegrate into society, to reintegrate with their family members, to reintegrate with their employers and with their communities."

Some 837,000 combat veterans, active and reserve, have separated from the
military since the start of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and are now veterans, he said. He wants to make sure those who qualify tap into his department's wealth of resources such as compensation, rehabilitation, and educational benefits. All are part in some ways of "social determinants of health," Peake said.

Key to providing those benefits is streamlining the department's claims processing, which called a "complicated system" and one that is important because it opens the door to the department's many services. Some 650,000 disability claims are backlogged, and it now takes about 183 days for a claim to be processed.

The VA is adding more than 3,000 people to its 263,000-person work force to help process claims, Peake said. He is also working to improve the system. A veteran shouldn't have to "be a lawyer to understand your benefit or be a lawyer to get your benefit," he said.

technology could be key in cutting down claims processing times, he said. Already, the VA has what Peake called the "best electronic medical record" system available. Still, the system is old and will eventually need to be upgraded.

"We're sort of a Fortune 15 company, and when I look at the other systems that we have, I think we are way down on the totem pole," he said. "We've got some work that we need to do, whether it's in financial systems, whether it's in [human resources] systems or whether it's in applying modern
technology to that claims process."

An investment in
technology also is needed to provide services to today's veteran, who is more computer- and Internet-savvy than those of wars past.

"They're Web-enabled, and that's how they're used to communicating and dealing," Peake said. "And we've got to make sure that as we move forward we [don't] think of servicing people like me. We're thinking of how we're going to service folks like them."

But beyond
technology, Peake said he sees the VA's future developing more partnerships with other departments and agencies.

"I think we're going to, like any business relationship, ... restructure the partnerships so that we get what we need and our veterans get what they need and the academic affiliates get what they need. And I think there's opportunity to do more sharing of services," he said. "I've been on the other side, and I think that we can do more, even with this collaborative work with the Department of Defense."

Hiring more veterans and developing services for the increased number of female veterans also is key to the organization's future, he said.

Still, even as the VA transitions, it must consider the needs of each generation of veterans, Peake said. World War II, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans all need different types of services and intervention, depending on where each is in their own lives, he said.

"When you start looking at VA 30 years, 40 years down the road, it's going to look different. It's got to look different. And so we need to be thinking about how to get that right for the next 60 years," he said.

"It's about giving the care to people that need it -- what they need, when they need it, in the way that is comfortable for them to get it," Peake said.

Of the 24 million veterans currently alive, nearly three-quarters served during a war or an official period of conflict. About a quarter of the nation's population, nearly 74.5 million people, are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans, according to the VA Web site.

Gates Supports Enhanced GI Bill, Cites Retention Issues With Some Proposals

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates fully supports an enhanced GI Bill, but believes some measures being discussed on Capitol Hill would undermine the all-volunteer force by encouraging troops to leave too soon, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today. Gates is "greatly encouraged" by wide support for enhanced educational benefits for veterans and considers the legislation moving forward "extremely generous," Morrell said.

"We have no issue with the fact that it is generous. We think our troops deserve to be rewarded for their service," he said.

But the secretary fears that leading bills moving forward would hurt retention by offering educational benefits after just two years of service, Morrell said. Gates advocates offering enhanced benefits after six years of service to reward servicemembers who opt to re-enlist at least once.

"We are not trying to keep people here forever, but we are trying to create a system in which troops see the benefit of making a career out of the
military," Morrell said. "We make an enormous investment in their careers and their futures, and we think it would be very damaging to the all-volunteer force if they were to leave prematurely."

That would create big problems to the
military, particularly as it confronts the global war on terror. "Now, more than ever, we need to hold on to our superbly trained, battle-tested troops," Morrell said. "They are the key to victory in this conflict."

Gates has shared his concerns with Congress and has assured lawmakers he will continue working with them to benefit the troops, "but do so in a way that does not jeopardize our national security," Morrell said.

The secretary calls it "absolutely imperative" that the enhanced GI Bill includes a provision allowing servicemembers to transfer unused educational benefits to their spouses and children.

Gates first heard that suggestion at a
military spouses' group meeting at Fort Hood, Texas, and pitched the idea to President Bush. The president liked the concept so much that he included it in his State of the Union address in January.

Gates has said believes the measure would boost both recruiting and retention.

About 97 percent of servicemembers sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill, but only about 70 percent actually use the benefit, and typically they use about half of the 36 months of benefits available to them, officials said.

Florida Cop Books

Editor's Note: One of the authors is a former US Marine.

May 21, 2008 (San Dimas, CA) is a website that lists state and local police officers who have written books. Continuing its
leadership in criminal justice books the website added 3 police officers from Florida; now listing well over 1000 state and local law enforcement officials who have authored books.

Thomas Brodie is retired from Metro Dade Police Department (Florida) at the rank of captain. Thomas Brodie law enforcement career included more than twenty-four years as a founder of the Miami Bomb squad and supervisor of its crime scene unit. Over the course of his career, Captain Thomas Brodie investigated approximately 350 bombings and assisted in the disposal of over 4000 bombs and tons of explosives. He is a charter member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators and among other awards and honors, he was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II for his role in protecting the British Empire in the Caribbean. Thomas Brodie is the author of Bombs and Bombings: A Handbook to Protection, Security, Detection, Disposal and Investigation for Industry, Police and Fire Departments.

According to the book description of Bombs and Bombings: A Handbook to Protection, Security, Detection, Disposal and Investigation for Industry, Police and Fire Departments, “This expanded new edition provides law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and security professionals with the most up-to-date information and procedures on the investigation, detection, and disposal of dangerous bombs and explosives and the evidence obtained from them.”

Henry Holden is the author of numerous adult and children books as well as more than 600 magazine articles on Aviation History. In 1994, he rece3ived the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Author’s Award. Henry Holden was a deputy sheriff for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (Florida) from 1979 to 1981. He is the author of 31 books such as: To Be a U.S. Air Force Pilot; FBI 100 Years: An Unofficial History; Rescue Helicopters and Aircraft; Hovering: The History of the Whirly-Girls: International Women Helicopter Pilots; To Be a Crime Scene Investigator; American Women of Flight: Pilots and Pioneers; and Crime-Fighting Aircraft.

According to the book description of FBI 100 Years: An Unofficial History, “On the eve of the FBI's centenary, this book offers the first comprehensive illustrated account of the Bureaus 100-year history. Granted unprecedented access to the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., and academy at Quantico, Virginia, author
Henry Holden presents a rare inside view of the agency’s workings, as well as a compelling, closely observed picture of its ever-changing role, powers, notable cases, and controversies through the years.

After three years in the US Marines, the
Leigh McEachern became a rookie cop with the St. Petersburg Police Department. Promoted to detective, he took part in many notable cases, including the conviction of the vice-mayor, a prominent defense attorney, on a federal felony. He went on to serve as deputy chief of the Winter Park Police Department, and then as chief deputy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (Florida). Leigh McEachern is the author of The Appearance of Justice. now hosts 1011
police officers (representing 423 police departments) and their 2152 criminal justice books in 33 categories, there are also listings of United States federal law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

Official Cites Uncertainty Over Chinese Space Intentions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 - China's lack of openness about its space program's intentions has U.S. officials concerned, a senior
military officer said here yesterday. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey C. Horne, deputy commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission that China has made incredible advances in space, but the United States is uncertain what the Chinese ultimately hope to accomplish.

The United States regards space operations the same way it regards operations on air, land, sea and cyberspace, Horne said. As space-based capabilities provide critical support to forces in other domains, space operations must also receive the same support and protection from those very forces that they enable.

"Much uncertainty surrounds China's future course, in particular in the area of expanding
military power and space assets and how that power might be used," Horne said.

China is spending much more on defense than it has in the past. The People's Liberation Army is becoming a more professional and better-trained force. China also has invested billions of dollars in space efforts.

"China views progressive space and counterspace capabilities as essential elements of national prestige and attributes of a national power and a world power," Horne said. "Their current efforts include establishing a wide array of space, counterspace, terrestrial-based capabilities to provide reconnaissance, navigation, communications and support to all types of
military and civil operations." Most disturbing to the United States, perhaps, was the Chinese test of an anti-satellite capability in January 2007.

military doctrine emphasizes destroying, damaging and interfering with an enemy's reconnaissance, observation and communications capabilities, the general said.

"China's space activities capabilities include [anti-satellite weapon] programs and have significant implications for anti-access and area denial in the Taiwan Straits, contingencies and well beyond," Horne told the commission. While the Chinese currently depend on Russian space
technology, he said, the country is working to grow its own capabilities.

"[They] are moving aggressively to assure their own capability for the long term, focused on placing more sophisticated and diverse sets of satellites into orbit and expecting to replace foreign-produced satellites in its inventory with those they produce themselves by 2010," Horne said. China plans to launch 15 rockets and 17 satellites in 2008, and the nation has announced plans for its third manned mission -- Shenzhou 7 -- in October.

The United States and its allies are vulnerable to disturbances in space, and all nations must take steps to protect this crucial domain, Horne said. "Our adversaries understand the asymmetric advantage our space capabilities provide, and also that it constitutes an asymmetric dependence that can be exploited," he said.

The United States wants to encourage
military-to-military conversations with all space-faring nations, the general said, noting that such talks provide important opportunities to increase understanding of each other's intentions and to pursue methods to improve multilateral cooperation.

"Furthermore, understanding each other's specific perceptions and respective doctrines will ensure our force postures are perceived in their proper context, ensuring transparency and building confidence in the protection and sustainability of numerous space capabilities," Horne said.

Horne's organization is part of U.S. Strategic Command.

Coast Guard Essential to Victory Against Terrorism, Cheney Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 - The efforts of the men and women of the U.S.
Coast Guard are essential to victory in the war against terrorism, Vice President Richard B. Cheney told graduating cadets at their academy commencement today in New London, Conn. "When you stepped forward to serve the United States, it was already clear that these are decisive times in the life of our country," Cheney told members of the Class of 2008 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. "It's rare for an academy class to begin during a war and then graduate during that same war."

The challenges that came to the United States as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks "will be the defining issue of your career," Cheney told the more than 200 graduating cadets.

Coast Guard will be essential to the fight, and the Coast Guard will be essential to victory" against terrorism, Cheney said, as America's armed forces continue to battle transnational terrorists in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

terrorists have vowed to attack again, and America is taking the threat seriously, Cheney said. The United States, he said, has bolstered security at its airports and maritime entry points, increased intelligence capacity to track enemy movements and plans, and organized a global coalition that is taking the fight to overseas-based terrorists.

"This nation has kept the commitment declared by President Bush after 9/11: to wage this battle on the offensive, to track the enemy down until he has no place left to hide, and to stay in the fight until the fight is won," Cheney observed.

Coast Guard is one of 22 federal agencies that were merged five years ago to form the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cheney recalled. The Coast Guard, he noted, is the only military element in that organization.

"In its five years as part of DHS, the
Coast Guard has undertaken the largest commitment at port security operation since the Second World War," Cheney noted. "That, alone, is an enormous task, given the many foreign vessels that arrive in our ports every single day."

Coast Guard also is improving America's coastal defenses through implementation of better tracking technology, establishing security zones among major U.S. ports, Cheney explained, and is taking many other steps critical to keeping the American maritime domain free of terrorists.

Coast Guard also is heavily involved in overseas anti-terrorism operations, Cheney said. Coast Guard members, he said, "are providing port security, on-and-off loading of military hardware and patrol forces to secure assets in the Persian Gulf."

Coast Guard members "are serving along with our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in a part of the world that is going to require America's close attention for many years to come," Cheney said.

The broader Middle East is home to valued U.S. friends and trading partners, Cheney said, noting the region's "resources and commercial routes are at the very heart of the global economy."

Middle Eastern history and holy sites hold deep meaning for hundreds of millions of people in many countries, Cheney pointed out. The region, he added, also has been "a breeding ground for the hateful ideologies that threaten the free world with repeated acts of sudden, spectacular violence."

The war on
terrorism "is a lengthy enterprise" that does not have to go on forever, Cheney said. To prevail in the war, Cheney noted, America and its allies will overcome ideologies of hate by expanding human liberty, self-government, tolerance, mercy and the dignity of every human life.

The people of Afghanistan and Iraq had suffered through decades of tyranny before they were liberated by coalition forces, he said. And Afghans and Iraqis want the same good things for their children as any other people, the vice president said.

"They've chosen the path of freedom and democracy," Cheney said of the Afghan and Iraqi people. "And, no matter who lines up against them, they can know that America – the country that liberated them – still cares about their freedom."

Meanwhile, much remains to be accomplished on every front in the war against
terrorism, Cheney observed.

"But, we can take heart because American power is being used to serve American ideals," he said. "We are doing good things for the right reasons."

The surge strategy employed in Iraq "has succeeded brilliantly," he noted.

"And the only way to lose this fight is to quit," the vice president emphasized. "That would be irresponsible. More than that, quitting would be an act of betrayal and dishonor -- and it's not going to happen on our watch."

Cheney told the graduating cadets that he is "absolutely convinced" of achieving success against global terrorists.

"Like most Americans, I stand in awe of the people in our
military," Cheney said. "Having served as a White House chief of staff, congressman, secretary of defense, and in my present job, I've had no greater pleasure, no greater honor than working with those who wear the uniform of the United States."

Military service constitutes a family commitment, as well, Cheney told the graduating cadets.

"This nation can never give enough thanks to our military families," he said.

The Coast Guard always has been thought of as America's lifesavers, Cheney remarked, noting the agency distinguished itself during Hurricane Katrina humanitarian-relief operations in 2005, when it saved more than 30,000 lives on the stricken Gulf Coast.

"When we think of the Coast Guard, we think of the men and women who are always ready to save us from danger, whether it comes from the furies of nature or from the designs of evil men," Cheney said. "This branch of the armed forces has given steady service to the United States of America since the year 1790. And in that time, the Coast Guard has saved more than a million lives.

"As you step forward to accept new duties, your fellow citizens look up to you for the oath you take, the traditions you uphold and the standards you live by," Cheney said.



Walbridge Overaa,
Detroit, Mich., was awarded on May 20, 2008, a $74,558,000 firm-fixed price contract for the design and construction of an armed forces reserve center. Work will be performed in Moffett Field, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 1, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Jan. 3, 2008, and two bids were received. Corps of Engineers, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-08-C-0016).

I-Tek, Hampton, Va., was awarded on May 20, 2008, a $13,680,000 firm-fixed price contract for Aramid-Fabric-Reinforced panels to support the Interim Frag Kit Add-on Armor program. Work will be performed in Hampton, Va., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 24, 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on March 17, 2008, and eight bids were received. TACOM, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52H09-08-C-0120).

General Atomics Aeronautical System, San Diego, Calif., was awarded on May 19, 2008, a $5,000,000 cost-plus-incentive fee contract for development and demonstration for the extended range/multi-purpose unmanned aerial vehicle. Work will be performed primarily in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 1, 2004. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 120 bids were solicited on Sept. 1, 2004, and three bids were received. U.S.
Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-05-C-0069).


Serco, Inc., Vienna, Va., is being awarded a $32,835,079 indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee/cost-plus-incentive-fee, performance-based contract for aviation maintenance and technical support services. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $166,920,606. Work will be performed in Charleston, S.C., (60 percent); Vienna, Va., (35 percent); and OCONUS, (5 percent); and work is expected to be completed by May 2009 (May 2013 with options exercised). Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and three offers received via the Commerce Business Daily's Federal Business Opportunities website, and the Space and Naval Warfare e-Commerce Central website. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (N65236-08-D-3802).

Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, Windsor Locks, Conn., is being awarded an $11,827,318 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity firm-fixed price contract, for the acquisition of various quantities of Gas Turbine Electrical Start Systems for installation on U.S.
Navy surface combatant ships. Work will be performed in Windsor Locks, Conn., and is expected to be completed by May 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured and 2 offers were received via FedBizOpps. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Ship Systems Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N65540-08-D-0017)


Boeing Services Co. of Richardson, Texas, is having an option exercised for $18,310,179. This contract action will exercise the option period 5 of the contract for the following services. Provides broadband data service to Department of Defense and State Department operated aircraft equipped with the Connection By Boeing System. The service is provided with CONUS and OCONUS. Typical applications included Interned, E-mail, video teleconferencing and server access. The period of performance is for 6 months. At this time $18,310,179 has been obligated. Scott AFB, Ill., is the contracting activity (FA4452-03-C-0006, Modification P00018).

Raytheon Co. Missile Systems of
Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a modified cost plus contract for $9,773,900. This action provides for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) AIM-120D contract overrun. The Phase IV AMRAAM SDD program is currently in a cost and schedule overrun. Continuing delays in resolving developmental hardware issues and less-than-expected effectiveness in flight test execution are the primary reasons for the SDD program being behind schedule. The current forecast date for the functional configuration audit is no 30 April 09, ten months later than planned with a contract completion date of 30 June 09. The schedule extension increased the contract cost by approximately 10 percent, which is available with the existing program budget. The scope of the effort remains unchanged. At this time $6,891,167 has been obligated. Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA8675-04-C-0001, P00047).

Mullen Cites Importance of Remembrance in Memorial Day Message

American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 -
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cited the importance of remembering the cost of freedom in a Memorial Day message to the armed forces.

His full message follows:

"'Let no ravages of time testify to the present or the coming generations that we, as a people, have forgotten the cost of a free and undivided republic.'

"With that solemn promise,
Army General John Logan signed the order in 1868 that established Memorial Day. We have honored his promise faithfully ever since, and this year -- with our nation still at war and a new generation of heroes fighting and dying for freedom -- we will do it again.

"The 'cost' of which Logan wrote is, of course, the blood spilt of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is the hardest currency of all, once spent never to be recouped, a debt we can never truly, fully repay.

"And yet, Memorial Day provides us the opportunity at the very least to acknowledge that debt, to recognize this incredible sacrifice and to recommit ourselves to making sure it wasn't spent in vain.

"Upon the graves of our war dead -- be they from Lexington and
Concord; Gettysburg and Antietam; the Argonne Forest or the beaches of Normandy; Chosin and Inchon; Saigon and the Mekong Delta; Baghdad or Kandahar -- rests not only the memories and the pride of valor past, but the hope and the vision of a better, more peaceful future.

"Please join me this Memorial Day in remembering, on behalf of present and coming generations, the deep and abiding debt we owe to our fallen and to their loved ones."

America Supports You: Troop-Support Group Founder Named 'Favorite Mom'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 21, 2008 - Two of America's favorite siblings bestowed a very special honor on the founder of a grassroots troop-support group recently. Donnie and Marie Osmond named Patti Patton-Bader as "America's Favorite Mom" on the May 11 "America's Favorite Mom" program presented by Teleflora and NBC.

"I really am lucky to know so many heroes in my life," said Patton-Bader, who has two sons in the
Army, one currently deployed to Iraq. "Whether they are the troops who serve our country or the amazing mothers here on this 'America's Favorite Mom' program, I am honored to be in the presence of such inspirational people and also am humbled to know that America thinks the same of me."

She said she's thrilled to be able to use it to continue the mission of her group, "Soldiers' Angels," to make sure no soldier goes unloved. The organization operates internationally to provide letters, care packages, and comfort items to deployed troops and support for their families at home. The group also provides assistance to veterans and wounded servicemembers.

She said she's excited about the opportunities this platform provides her to help people learn more about America's
military heroes and options for supporting them and their families. The attention she has received through the "America's Favorite Mom" events already has drawn a number of new volunteers who want to support the troops.

Soldiers' Angels is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

As the grand prize winner, Patton-Bader will receive $250,000, a set of household appliances, and other items. She said she hopes to apply the winnings to her plans for a small ranch that will allow newly returned soldiers to relax with their families after deployments.

Her path to becoming America's Favorite Mom began when her eldest son nominated her for "America's Most Inspirational Mom" through a nationwide online poll in March 2007. He nominated because of her efforts supporting the troops through Soldiers' Angels.
She appeared on the Today show May 5 as one of three selected finalists in the "Favorite
Military Mom" category. A nationwide online poll led to the announcement on Mother's Day that Patton-Bader won both the "Favorite Military Mom" and "America's Favorite Mom" categories.

Before announcing the winners, the show highlighted fifteen outstanding mothers who distinguished themselves in categories ranging from working moms to
military moms and "non-mom" moms.

Webcasts to Allow Deployed Parents to Watch Graduations

American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - Hundreds of troops deployed from Europe will be able to see their children's high school graduation ceremonies via live webcasts, Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe officials announced. DoDDS Europe, U.S.
Army Europe and U.S. Army 5th Signal Command have combined assets, talents and technology to enable the live webcasts. The effort will allow at least 18 graduation ceremonies to be viewed by an estimated 211 deployed parents in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world.

The first graduation ceremony will be webcast June 5; 10 graduation ceremonies will take place simultaneously on June 6; and the last ceremony will be webcast June 13. Schools identified as having students with deployed parents are:

-- June 5: Hanau and Bamberg, Germany;

-- June 6: Naples, Italy; Heidelberg, Hohenfels, Kaiserslautern, Ansbach, Baumholder, Ramstein and Vilsek, Germany; Lakenheath, England; and Aviano, Italy;

-- June 7: Mannheim, Germany; and Rota, Spain;

-- June 8: Patch High School, in Stuttgart, Germany; H.H. Arnold High School, in Wiesbaden, Germany; and Vicenza, Italy; and

-- June 13: AFNORTH International High School, in Brunssum, Belgium.

Deployed parents will be able to see their graduating seniors cross the stage and view student messages recorded for the occasion.

This is the fifth year the effort has been undertaken. Diana Ohman, director of DoDDS Europe, who has been involved with each of the yearly webcasts, said that although it is a monumental technical challenge, these webcasts are emotionally significant to the students and the deployed parents.

"There is no room for error; it is too important," she said. "It is important to the graduating senior that he or she be able to share the event with their parents, as well as for the deployed parent to be able to view their son or daughter crossing the stage."

Planning for this year's webcast began in January. Seniors who had or anticipated having parents deployed at graduation were identified through the high schools.

(From a Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe news release.)

Nations Discuss Maritime Security at Denmark Conference

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 -
Terrorism, piracy and other transnational threats were among topics military planners from around the world discussed at a recent conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, the Joint Staff's director for strategic plans and policy, said the meeting examined ways countries can work together to address these threats.

"Trust" and "will" were two words Sattler continually emphasized during a briefing with Pentagon reporters yesterday following his return from Denmark. Nations must trust one another to share information, and they must exercise the will to stop illegal activities on the seas, he said, adding that the conference was a place to build that trust and show that will.

The multilateral planning conference attracted 234 participants from 61 countries. "Global maritime
security cooperation was the over-arching theme," Sattler said. He added that the nations also worked together in anticipation of a United Nations Security Council resolution on piracy that the world body is considering.

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, and Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the
Coast Guard, were keynote speakers at the event.

Sattler said the conference participants all recognize the importance of maritime
security. "They know that 90 percent of the commerce carried in the world goes by ships," he said, and so land-locked countries, as well as maritime nations, have a stake in the issue.

The conference looked at likely maritime threats and examined emerging challenges. Participants worked toward building future partnership initiatives and policy recommendations, Sattler said.

Scott Norwood, Sattler's deputy, said the conference also helped nations understand the roles they play, the importance of regional and global cooperation, and the applicability of law of the sea agreements, treaties and protocols.

Break-out sessions grouped countries from around the world to work on proposals and discuss issues. They briefed the discussions to the conference as a whole. All those discussions have been gathered and will be published in the weeks ahead, Norwood said.

Building maritime capacity was another important part of the conference. Sattler said nations recognize the need for discussions within their own governments about the role of their
justice departments, coast guard, navies and so on.

Operationally, the conferees discussed the importance of maritime situational awareness and sharing that information. Sattler cited cooperation among Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia as an example.

Four years ago, insurance companies raised the rates for ships transiting the Straits of Malacca, which the three countries share. Sixty cases of piracy were taking place per year in and near the straits. The three countries began sharing maritime information and working together, and only one case of piracy has taken place in the region so far this year, Sattler said.

"No nation can do all this alone," he said. "If we work together, we can stop problems from growing into crises. It boils down to trust that allows us to work together, and we need to build that now. Trust cannot be surged."

Gates Defends Defense Budget Request Before Senate Panel

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - The United States needs a defense establishment that confronts the full range of threats in the world today, and the president's fiscal 2009 defense budget request would fund the
military for that purpose, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

The fiscal 2009 request includes $149.4 billion in
military pay, health care, housing and quality-of-life funding for service personnel, DoD employees, and their families, Gates said. The request provides for $107.8 billion in pay and benefits, an increase of 9.8 percent over the fiscal 2008 enacted level. "This translates into pay raises of 3.4 percent for the military and 2.9 percent for civilian employees," the secretary said.

The request calls for a base budget of $515.4 billion, which translates into 3.4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. "This request is a 7.5 percent increase -- or $35.9 billion -- over last year's enacted level," Gates said in prepared testimony. "When accounting for inflation, this translates into a real increase of about 5.5 percent."

The threats are real and changing, Gates told the lawmakers. Old hatreds have combined with new capabilities to pose different dangers to the United States, as
terrorism, extremism, violent jihadism, and ethnic, tribal and sectarian conflicts provide outlets for the disgruntled and disenfranchised. Some states proliferate dangerous weapons, materials and delivery systems, he noted, while other, failing states provide havens for terrorists to plan and launch attacks.

Finally, the United States must be prepared for dealing with nations "discontented with their role in the international order and rising and resurgent powers whose future paths are uncertain," Gates said.

The 2009 budget request calls for $183.8 billion in strategic modernization, a 4.7 percent increase over the previously enacted level. This includes more than $104 billon for procurement.

There is $9.2 billion for ground capabilities, including more than 5,000 Humvees and 4,000
tactical vehicles.

"This request provides $3.6 billion to continue development of the Future Combat System, the
Army's major modernization program, a portion of which I saw first-hand at Fort Bliss, Texas, about two and a half weeks ago," Gates said. "I was impressed by what I saw."

A total of $16.9 billion is allotted for maritime capabilities, with $14.2 billion for ship-building. "A fleet sized at 313 ships offers the agility required to meet a broadening array of operations and requirements with allies around the globe," the secretary said.

The aviation budget is $45.6 billion and includes funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 Raptors, V-22 Ospreys, F/A-18 Hornet and Growler aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Gates said the budget funds the most critical
Air Force need: the tanker fleet.

"The department believes a KC-135 replacement fleet of between 460 and 580 aircraft, combined with an additional 59 KC-10s, will provide suitable aerial refueling capacity," he said.

This request provides $10.7 billion to strengthen joint space-based capabilities, Gates said. "The department's heavy reliance on space capabilities is clear to potential adversaries, some of whom are developing anti-satellite weapons," the secretary said. "Protecting our assets in space is, therefore, a high priority." The budget will allow DoD to ramp up this defensive capability, he said.

"This budget includes new funding for critical ongoing initiatives such as 'Global Train and Equip' to build the security capacity of our partner nations, security and stabilization assistance, foreign language capabilities and the new Africa Command," the secretary said.

Operations and maintenance funding is set at $158.3 billion in fiscal 2009. A total of $68 billion of the request will maintain combat readiness, focused on next-to-deploy units, Gates said. The request also includes $33.1 billion for logistical, intelligence and servicewide support; $32.6 billion for facility and base support; and $10.7 billion for training, recruiting and retention to ensure the all-volunteer force has the right people with the right skills.

Taking care of those wounded in service to America is a moral obligation, Gates said. DoD must see "that the superb life-saving care that the wounded receive initially is matched by quality outpatient treatment."

The budget requests $466 million to accelerate and enhance construction of health care facilities at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., and at Fort Belvoir, Va., as well as establishing more warrior transition units.

"I hope Congress will fund these extraordinary facilities, along with our other health care requests," Gates said. "America's all-volunteer force must know that we will do everything possible to care for and heal the men and women injured in the line of duty."

Gates also thanked the committee for its support for the
military. He assured the committee members that the young American troops will meet every challenge.

"In visits to the combat theaters, in
military hospitals, and in bases and posts at home and around the world, I continue to be amazed by their decency, resiliency and courage," the secretary said. "Through the support of the Congress and our nation, these young men and women will prevail in the current conflicts and be prepared to confront the threats that they, their children and our nation may face in the future."