Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gates Begins Asia Swing Focusing on Regional Security

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today kicked off a six-day swing through the Western Pacific that includes a keynote address at the 7th annual International Institute of Strategic Studies' Asia
Security Summit in Singapore. The visit, which also will take the secretary to Guam, Thailand and South Korea, will underscore the United States' enduring presence in and commitment to the region, a senior defense official traveling with Gates told reporters. It also will amplify the U.S. role in strengthening multilateral security cooperation.

The three-day security conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue after the hotel where it's held, will bring together more than 20 major participants for what the official called "the big
security fest in East Asia."

Gates' address at the first plenary session May 31 will set the stage for the next presidential administration, officials said. Pointing to the longstanding U.S. commitment, he will assure regional nations of continued commitment, regardless of who wins the U.S. general election.

The speech "transcends the immediate and looks at the enduring," another official said on background.

Gates will recognize changes within the Asia-Pacific theater, including the emergence of China and India as powers.

The issue of China's growing
military power, and lack of transparency about it, will almost certainly arise, the official said.

But this year, discussions are expected to be less contentious than at past Shangri-La dialogues. That's because the Defense Department released this year's China
Military Power report in early spring, rather than just before the conference as in 2006 and 2007, with unintended consequences, the official said.

"We did not want to step on Shangri-La and to set up this artificial confrontation atmosphere," he said.

Gates is slated to meet with Chinese Lt. Gen. M.A. Xiatian, deputy chief of general staff for the People's Liberation
Army, during a "pull-aside," an informal bilateral meeting during the conference.

The United States and China are moving toward more positive exchanges that transcend old Cold War paradigms, a State Department official traveling with Gates told reporters.

"This is not the competitive relationship of the Cold War," he said. "We are really working together to create the conditions that will be beneficial for all of us and all of the residents of the Asian-Pacific zone."

Gates will emphasize the strength of U.S. alliances and partnerships in maintaining regional
security during the formal Shangri-La sessions, as well as the many bilateral and pull-aside sessions planned.

His keynote speech "will show very convincingly that the alliance structure that is out there is not some Cold War relic, not something that constricts or confines alliance partners, but is very facilitative, very enabling, and also very flexible," an official said.

The United States is approaching
security challenges in the region not only multilaterally, but also as a "whole of government," the State Department official said.

"The face of American power projection in Asia these days isn't just
military. It's not just diplomatic. It's not just public diplomacy. It's not just development assistance," he said. "But it is really all of these things and more, woven together.

"And Secretary Gates has been an ardent advocate in our government back in Washington in making sure that we work and coordinate better as a government in projecting our power (and) in pursuing our security partnerships in Asia," he said. "So not only do we have more foreign countries as partners, but we are also more integrated as a government in engaging with them."

Examples of this cooperation – expected to be a focus at the Shangri-La conference – are ongoing humanitarian assistance missions in both Burma and China.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has come up with a new plan to speed up the delivery of aid to Burma and is expected to seek support for it at the conference. "This will be a place where a lot of comment is being exchanged. It is very much the current issue," an official said.

During Gates' first stop of the trip, in Guam, he will witness the massive construction effort under way to prepare for the arrival of
Marine forces being relocated from Okinawa.

An official traveling with Gates emphasized the importance of Guam, with its prime strategic location, its pro-
military population and its status as a U.S. territory. "This is not just another base," he said. "This is a place where you can project power from the continental United States and Hawaii -- ships, aircraft and land troops as well."

But increasingly, Guam is emerging as a node for multilateral
security cooperation in Southeast Asia, and for alliance transformation in Northeast Asia, the official said. "It is integral to the force posture transformation," he said.



BAE Systems, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., was awarded on May 23, 2008, a $525,298,032 firm-fixed price contract for remanufacturing of M2A3 and A3 Bradley
Fire Support Team Vehicles. Work will be performed in York, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Sept. 14, 2007. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).

Foster-Miller, Inc.,
Waltham, Mass., was awarded on May 25, 2008, a $400,000,000 firm-fixed price contract for the procurement of Foster-Miller robotics system, upgrade kits, spare parts, training and engineering services. Work will be performed in Waltham, Mass., and is expected to be completed by May 25, 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on May 23, 2008. Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (W900KK-08-D-0037).

Harris Corp.,
Rochester, N.Y., was awarded on May 23, 2008, a $41,956,600 firm-fixed price contract for 150 vehicular installation kits for Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Work will be performed in Rochester, N.Y., and is expected to be completed by Aug. 18, 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on May 9, 2008. U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-C-0441).

BAE Systems, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., was awarded on May 23, 2008, a $13,508,509 firm-fixed price contract for authorized stockage list spares and options for additional spares. Work will be performed in York, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Sept. 14, 2007. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).


L-3 Communications of Alpharetta, Ga., is being awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for $6,785,212 (Maximum). This action provides for a five year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for the C-130 Remote Display Units. This contract minimum is 51 each and contract maximum is 101 each. The order for 51 each will be issued concurrent with the basic award. At this time $2,547,399 (order 0001) has been obligated. Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8504-08-D-0001 and delivery order 0001).

Raytheon Co., of
Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $412,207,351. This action will provide 98 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile AIM-120D All-Up-round Missiles, 11 AIM-120D Air Vehicles Instrumented (AAVIs), eight AIM-120D Integrated Test Vehicles (ITVs), 78 AIM-120D Captive Air Training Missiles, 213 AIM-120C7 foreign military sales AURs, five AIM-120C foreign military sales AAVIs, Warranty for 68 AIM-120D AURs (USAF), Warranty for 11 AAVIs USAF, Warranty for 78 CATMs 9USAF/USN), 269 Non-Developmental Item-Airborne Instrumentation Units, Spares (US/FMS), Test Equipment, Obsolescence to include Radome source replacement, Quad Target Detection Device parts replacements, Common Air Launched Navigation System second source. At this time all the funds have been obligated. 695ARSS, Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA8675-08-C-0049).

Champion Energy Services, LLC of
Houston, Texas, is being awarded a firm fixed price, indefinite term utilities contract for $400,000,000 (estimated for 20 years -- actual costs are dependent on electricity usage). This action will provide for retail electric provider services –contractor will manage a strategic supply portfolio, to provide renewable and non-renewable electricity for Goodfellow AFB, Laughlin AFB, and Sheppard AFB, Texas in the deregulated market. At this time $70,000 has been obligated. AETC CONS/LGCD, Randolph AFB, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA3002-08-D--0026).

L-3 Communications of Alpharetta, Ga., is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $16,068,051 (maximum). This requirement is to establish repair contract for the Electronics Flight Indicators and Remote Display Units for the C-130 aircraft. At this time $2,268,555 has been obligated. 448SCMG/PKHE, Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8538-08-D-0009).


Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Tactical Systems Co., LLC, Rocket Center, W. Va., is being awarded a $9,982,292 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-quantity/indefinite-delivery contract for asset development, support for process development, facility and equipment design, and procurement and prove-out for the following products: energetic materials, solid propellant rocket motors and projectiles, air breathing propulsion systems, warheads, fuses, igniters, composite and metallic structures. ATK Propulsion and Controls, and the
Navy have consistently developed, established and modernized the facilities to improve research, development, and production capabilities for the Navy. This facility is one of the world's most modern energetic system production facilities and a center for state-of-the-art production and test of air-breathing and non-air breathing solid propellant rocket motors and composite structures for weapons systems. Work will be performed in Rocket Center, W. Va., and work is expected to be completed by May 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity (N00174-08-D-0009).

Northrop Grumman Corp., Electronic Systems, Defensive Systems Division, Rolling Meadows, Ill., is being awarded a $5,923,723 cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-08-G-0012) for Group-A and Group–B testing support on the
Navy CH-53E Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures Ultra Violet Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) aircraft including the development, operational and ECP validation and verification, support for personnel in the Safety of Flight Clearance process, and the installation of a Flight Instrumentation package. Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and is expected to be completed in May 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego, Owego, N.Y., is being awarded a $5,838,710 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0076) for non-recurring efforts associated with integration of the Ku-Band Hawklink Common Data Link (CDL) into the MH-60R Block I upgrade. Work will be performed in Owego, N.Y. (80 percent); and Patuxent River, Md.,(20 percent), and is expected to be completed in Dec. 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Freedom is Most Powerful Weapon, Bush Says

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2008 - President Bush called upon the newest graduates of the U.S.
Air Force Academy today to lead the cause of freedom in their generation, calling freedom the most powerful weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Bush addressed the 1,012 cadets who made up the 50th graduating class in the history of the Colorado Springs, Colo., academy during commencement ceremonies.

The president drew comparisons between the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, citing similar ideological struggles first with fascism and communism, and now with Islamic extremism.

"We are once again facing evil men who despise freedom and despise America and aim to subject millions to their violent rule," Bush said. "And once again, our nation is called to defeat these adversaries and secure the peace for millions across the world."

Defeating those ideologies will require all elements of national power, the president said. It will take new and advanced weaponry that offers speed, precision, agile and lethal fires. And it will take patience, the president said. But the most important factor to securing a peaceful future is the perpetuation of freedom, he said.

"For all the advanced
military capabilities at our disposal, the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the power of freedom," Bush said.

The president remarked that in one generation the
technology of aviation moved from its historic first flight, to the age of supersonic flight and space exploration. As aviation progressed, he said, it changed the face of war.

Technology today allows for more precision targeting of enemy regimes. The ability to eliminate a regime, with minimal damage to the civilian population serves as a deterrent, Bush said.

"We've removed two cruel regimes in weeks instead of years," Bush said, comparing
World War Two and operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

"In Afghanistan, coalition forces and their Afghan allies drove the Taliban from power in less than two months," Bush said. "In Iraq, with the help of the United States Air Force, our troops raced across 350 miles of enemy territory to liberate Baghdad in less than one month, one of the fastest armored advances in
military history."

This creates both opportunities and challenges in current and future wars. The United States can now fight its enemies with greater humanity by sparing innocent casualties of war. But, because many enemy forces know they cannot take on the U.S.
military in a head-on fight, they turn to terrorist tactics and asymmetrical warfare.

"We've seen this in Afghanistan and Iraq. In those countries, our adversaries did not lay down their arms after the regime had been removed," the president said. "Instead, they blended into the civilian population and, with the help of stateless terrorist networks, continue to fight through suicide bombings and attacks on innocent people."

One way to meet the challenge is to continue developing new technologies that offer speed, agility and precision lethal targeting.

But, to win at asymmetric warfare requires patience. The enemy works to unnerve its opponent hoping they will retreat, Bush said.

Terrorists take advantage of the information age and 24-hour news cycles, creating images of chaos and suffering for the cameras, hoping it will undermine the resolve and morale of Americans, the president said.

"This means that to win the first war of the 21st century, we need to prevail, not just in the battle of arms but also in the battle of wills," Bush said. "And we need to recognize that the only way America can lose the war on terror is if we defeat ourselves."

Also, key in defeating hate-filled ideologies is strengthening free institutions in countries that are fighting extremists.

Bush said the United States had a "special obligation" to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq as partners in the fight against terrorism. He compared the two countries to Japan and Germany, both which the United States helped to rebuild after
World War Two.

"These efforts took time and patience. And a result, Germany and Japan grew in freedom and prosperity," Bush said. "Germany and Japan, once mortal enemies, are now allies of the United States, and people across the world have reaped the benefits from that alliance.
"Today we must do the same in Afghanistan and Iraq. By helping these young democracies grow in freedom and prosperity, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come," Bush said.

One difference between the rebuilding efforts, though, is that in Germany and Japan the rebuilding took place in relative peace, as opposed to today, when the United States and its allies are helping to rebuild democracies still under fire from terrorist networks and suffering significant security challenges as they grow.

"In Iraq we learned from hard experience that newly liberated people cannot make political and economic progress unless they first have some measure of security," Bush said.

This led to last year's strategy change, in which the president sent an additional 30,000 troops there to help stabilize the region while the government established its political roots.

"Violence in Iraq is down to the lowest point since March of 2004. Civilian deaths are down. Sectarian killings are down," Bush said. "And as security has improved, the economy has improved as well. Political reconciliation is taking place at the grass-roots and national level."

Another challenge to warfare today is defining success, Bush said. Wars past have ended with ceremonial surrenders and victory parades.

"Today when the war continues, after the regime has fallen, the definition of success is more complicated," Bush said.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, success will come when al-Qaida is not safe, the people can protect themselves, and the countries are economically viable, the president said.

"Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies that govern themselves effectively and respond to the will of their people," Bush said. "Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and capable allies on the war on terror."

Well-rooted freedom ultimately prevails in overcoming tyranny and transforming societies, the president said. When offered a choice, he told the cadets, people always choose to live in freedom.

"The enemies of freedom understand this, and that is why they're fighting desperately to deny this choice to men and women across the Middle East," Bush said.

Building a free society removes the recruiting grounds for
terrorists. Also, free societies are peaceful, and people who live in liberty and hope do not turn to the ideologies of hatred and fear, the president said.

"And that is why, for the security of America and the peace for the world, the great mission of your generation is to lead the cause of freedom," Bush said.

Women's Memorial Hosts Soldier, Marine Photo Exhibit

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2008 - Duty, courage, camaraderie and sacrifice are on display at the
Women in Military Service for America Memorial here. The public can view a collection of 115 black-and-white and color photographs that depict U.S. soldiers and Marines in action spanning from the Civil War to the present day. The photos were culled from more than 4,000 images that were reviewed by exhibit curator Cyma Rubin.

The free exhibit is titled, "The American Soldier: A Photographic Tribute to Soldiers and Marines." The traveling exhibit will be featured inside the women's memorial building through Labor Day.

Passers-by often comment on the raw emotions expressed in the faces of the photo's subjects.

"They are very moving pictures that you don't normally get to see of the troops" in action, Bobby Bookwalter, from
Clinton, Md., said after he and his family viewed the exhibit on Memorial Day.

The photo exhibit "is nicely done and in chronological order," said Mark Swallow, a native of Pittsburgh who now lives and works in Washington as an intern with a local construction design firm.

"Being a 20-year-old male, I see a lot of people that look just like I do," Swallow said as he looked over photos of the Korean War. "It's fascinating that young men, like I, shaped this great nation. You can see the expressions on their faces -- the tough turmoil and times that they went through."

Linsey Longstreth, 24, was taken with a black-and-white photo of "California Joe," who was one of the North's deadliest sharpshooters during the
Civil War. She gave the exhibit high marks for organization and authenticity.

The exhibit's often-intimate photos depict "exactly what the soldiers have gone through, whether they are triumphs or really hard times," Longstreth said. It was especially appropriate, she said, to be able view the exhibit on Memorial Day.

Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Gustavo Santa, a Gulf War and Iraq war veteran, wore his uniform and took his children Megan, 10, and Justin, 8, along to view the photo exhibit during a holiday away from their home in southern Florida.

"I'm a veteran of the Iraq war, and I want to pay my respects to my friends," said Santa, who served as a medical corpsman with the Marines in Hit, Iraq, during 2004 and 2005.

"I also wanted to show my kids what myself and other people have gone through," Santa added.

At the Vietnam-era portion of the exhibit,
Air Force veteran Edward Leckey Jr. eyed a black-and-white photo depicting a somber serviceman getting ready to depart on patrol and another image showing a snakelike line of "grunts" making their way across a rain-drenched rice paddy.

The Vietnam images brought back memories, Leckey said, noting that after he enlisted in 1959, he was among the first group of U.S. servicemembers to serve in South Vietnam as advisors.

"The exhibit is excellent," said Leckey, an Alexandria, Va., resident who was accompanied by his Russian-born wife, Natalia Kozlova. "Some of it is what some people would perceive is graphic -- which I don't.

"It just shows the real world," Leckey emphasized, as he pointed to the photo of the lone infantryman. "You can tell that this guy right here with the M-14; he is preparing to go into the field."

Joyce Shambley, a retired
Army lieutenant colonel, and her niece, Amber Cooper, an Army veteran who performed two duty tours in Iraq, spent some time at the Iraq war photo exhibit. Cooper's husband, Calvin, is an Army noncommissioned officer getting ready to depart on another deployment to Iraq.

"Because I am a veteran, I like to come and pay my respects to those who have given their lives for all of us," said Shambley, who served as a hospital administrator at the time of her Army retirement in 1998. Seeing the sometimes intense photos in the Iraq exhibit "brings back memories," said Cooper, now in the
Army Reserve. "It's also making me a little anxious, because my husband is getting ready to deploy for the third time."

This time, Cooper is staying home to care for her 9-month-old son, Calvin, named after her husband. Cooper said she sometimes wishes that she could accompany her husband to Iraq.

"If I didn't have my baby boy, I would do it again," Cooper said.

Burma Still Nixes U.S. Military Help; China Accepts Aid, Admiral Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2008 - The Burmese government has yet to grant permission for U.S.
military vessels to offload humanitarian supplies for its cyclone-stricken citizens, while the Chinese government has welcomed U.S. military-provided aid for its earthquake-stricken people, a senior U.S. military officer said here today. Cyclone Nargis hit Burma on May 3, causing nearly 80,000 deaths and displacing hundreds of thousands. The United Nations has estimated that up to 2.5 million Burmese are in dire need of assistance, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

Burma's ruling
military committee, called a junta, has steadfastly refused to allow U.S. Navy ships to deliver tons of needed humanitarian supplies to Burmese ports or allow U.S. helicopters to fly in aid to devastated regions, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

On May 12, the Burmese government began allowing U.S.
military cargo aircraft to fly in humanitarian aid from Thailand to the Burmese airport in Rangoon. Since then, U.S. planes laden with food, water, blankets, mosquito netting and plastic sheeting have averaged about five flights into Rangoon each day, Keating noted. In this way, he said, about 1.4 million pounds of relief supplies have been delivered to Burma to date.

Current U.S.
military flights to Rangoon are carrying goods provided by various nongovernmental aid organizations, Keating said, such as the United Nations, the World Food Program and other agencies.

"It doesn't matter to us whose stuff it is we are moving," Keating emphasized, noting the goal is to provide humanitarian aid to Burmese cyclone victims.

Upon reaching Rangoon, Keating explained, the U.S. military-transported relief goods are subsequently being distributed to the Burmese population by nongovernmental organizations and the Burmese government.

Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Goodman, commander of U.S. Marine forces in the Pacific region, remains in Thailand in charge of Task Force Operation Caring Response for Burma, Keating said.

Keating recalled his May 12 flight to Rangoon from Thailand aboard a U.S.
Air Force C-130 transport plane, accompanied by U.S. State Department officials.

"I reassured the Burmese delegation of a couple of points," Keating recalled. "One, we were ready to provide relief assistance immediately. Two, we were capable of moving 250,000 pounds or so a day of relief material into Burma."

Keating also informed Burmese officials that U.S.
military helicopters could move humanitarian supplies inland from Rangoon to hard-hit places like the Irrawaddy delta region.

"We would come in and be entirely self-sufficient," Keating said he told Burmese officials. The U.S. troops, the admiral added, would also depart Burma "every evening" if its government desired that.

Burmese officials were invited to ride aboard the U.S. helicopters as they delivered aid, Keating recalled. The Burmese officials also were urged to visit the U.S. flotilla that's laden with supplies and waits off the Burmese coast.

The Burmese officials in Rangoon responded that they couldn't grant the necessary permission and the question would have to be taken up with higher authorities, Keating recalled.

"We went to great lengths to try to assure them and reassure them that we had no military intentions" in Burma, Keating said. "We wanted to provide relief, and we were capable of doing that already."

Meanwhile, the USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry, USS Mustin and USS Juneau still remain in the Bay of Bengal, about 50 nautical miles off Burma's coast, awaiting permission from the Burmese government to deliver humanitarian supplies.

The U.S. servicemembers in the naval flotilla "badly, desperately want to help" the Burmese people, Keating emphasized. But the U.S.
Navy ships, he predicted, would not be posted off Burma indefinitely.

In contrast to the Burmese government, the Chinese government has readily accepted U.S.
military-provided humanitarian aid for earthquake victims, Keating pointed out.

The People's Republic of China's Sichuan province was hit by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake on May 12 that's estimated to have killed more than 30,000 people.

Last weekend, the U.S.
military dispatched two C-17 cargo jets to China laden with tens of thousands of pounds of relief supplies including generators, food, tents, water, and water-purification equipment provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Around that time, Keating recalled receiving permission to use the U.S.-China military hot line to talk with a senior Chinese
air force general. The Chinese general, he said, was aware of the arrival of the U.S.-provided aid.

Two more U.S. military airplanes recently arrived in China, Keating noted, one carrying members of a
Los Angeles Fire Department urban rescue team and the other delivering tents.

"Principally, there are millions of folks who are without shelter, and so one of the things that the Chinese tell us they need is tents," Keating explained.

The People's Republic of China forwarded more than $5 million in aid to the United States for Hurricane Katrina relief in September 2005.

Troops in Afghanistan Take Citizenship Oath

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 27, 2008 - The poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty beckons "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free," but on this Memorial Day, quite the opposite was true, as 44 members of the U.S.
military marched forward to become America's newest citizens. In the presence of the Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, U.S. Immigration Service Acting Director Jonathan Scharfen and Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 101, 44 servicemembers from 21 countries swore oaths of allegiance and became U.S. citizens.

"On behalf of President Bush and a grateful nation, I say, 'Welcome,'" Chertoff said to the new American citizens.

The ceremony brought the number of
military men and women who have gained citizenship while deployed to Afghanistan since beginning the war on terror to 312, said Stacy K. Strong, deputy district director of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. According to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service fact sheet, more than 39,000 servicemembers have become U.S. citizens since the beginning of the war.

"There is no honor greater than presiding over an oath ceremony, and there is no better place to do it than here," Chertoff said. "You have all earned your citizenship through your service. Starting today, America is as much your country as it is mine."

Under an executive order, legal permanent residents actively serving in the U.S.
military and honorably discharged legal permanent residents who were on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible to apply for naturalization.

"This feels really great -- closure to the 'history' chapter in my life and the beginning of my future," said
Army Pvt. Mark Paguio, a Philippine native who led the other servicemembers in their recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. "Becoming a U.S. citizen has opened many doors," he said.

For the 44 servicemembers who are serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom or the International Security Assistance Force, the oath was an affirmation of what they have worked so hard to secure.

"This day means everything to me," said
Marine Lance Cpl. Artem Starovoyt, a Ukraine native who now resides in Philadelphia. "I have been out on the front lines doing what I can for my nation, and now I can officially call America home."

The servicemembers who took the citizenship oath are from Jamaica, Colombia, the Philippines, Peru, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Australia, Poland, Ghana, Iran, Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, Cuba, Nigeria, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Ukraine.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace serves with Combined Joint Task Force 101 Public Affairs.)

Face of Defense: Band Member Keeps Division Gym in Tune

By Army Spc. April Campbell
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 27, 2008 - Physical fitness is an integral part of every soldier's duties, and time available to accomplish this vital task is a valuable asset for the soldiers of Multinational Division Baghdad, who have an important mission at hand. For a soldier who plans on working out for and hour or two at the gym, spending that time standing around and waiting for a working machine can be frustrating.

Army Sgt. Jared Bargas, a Houston native who serves as the training noncommissioned officer in charge with the 4th Infantry Division Band, took it upon himself to ensure that fellow soldiers don't waste time waiting at the gym due to broken equipment.

The soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division Band are responsible for maintaining the division gym here, and Bargas has made many improvements to the well-used facility throughout the past month.

"A lot of people come through the division gym every day," said
Army 1st Sgt. Jeremy Smelser, the band's senior enlisted leader.

With the constant use and high demand, it can be quite a chore to keep up the gym and ensure Ivy Division soldiers have a reliable place to conduct physical fitness training.

"Equipment gets broken," said Smelser, a native of Killeen, Texas. "It needs repair. Screws need to be tightened. Air conditioners get broken. Lights burn out. It's just a constant upkeep."

Going into the job, Bargas was not necessarily trained on how to repair workout machines. However, he demonstrated ingenuity and initiative in his efforts to fix up the gym. "Instead of allowing equipment to break and using the excuse of 'I'm not a mechanic,' he took it upon himself to fix the equipment," Smelser added.

Much of the work was accomplished through Bargas' willingness to simply find out what worked through trial and error. It was a learning process, and the results of his efforts are readily evident to soldiers who frequent the gym.

"By taking apart some of the bikes, I learned what's actually inside," Bargas said. "One of the electronic machines wouldn't turn on. I had no clue about electronics, but I just unscrewed the cover and blew some dust out. I put it back together, and then it worked."

For those areas where Bargas was unable to personally resolve the issue, he took the time to find the correct channels to facilitate the repairs.

He used his personal time to talk to contractors and set up appointments for them to replace air conditioners and install new lights. Bargas also went to the nearby morale, welfare and recreation gym and canvassed the assistance of technicians, who offered to help him repair the equipment.

His time at the gym is not always exclusively spent working. He said he takes advantage of the opportunity to be one of his own customers and enjoys working out on the equipment he helps to mend. Although he works in the gym once every eight days, he spends time there working out at the facility five to six times a week. Even when he is there as a customer, he said, he tries to ensure the equipment remains functional.

"I try to check all the equipment as much as possible and fix everything," he said. "It's personally satisfying when people come up to me and tell me the gym looks nice. I know they are thankful for the working equipment."

Senior leaders also took notice of Bargas' efforts. He was recently recognized as the 4th Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion's Player of the Week and received an
Army Achievement Medal.

In the meantime, Bargas said, much of his efforts will be focused on maintaining the improvements he has already made.

As the Ivy Division soldiers continue their efforts to stay physically fit, they can rest assured knowing soldiers such as Bargas are working hard to give them the best possible conditions in which to do so.

Army Spc. April Campbell serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)

Airmen MIA From Vietnam War are Identified

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

They are Maj. Barclay B. Young, of
Hartford, Conn.; and Senior Master Sgt. James K. Caniford, of Brunswick, Md. The names of the two others are being withheld at the request of their families. All men were U.S. Air Force. Caniford will be buried May 28 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., and Young's burial date is being set by his family.

Remains that could not be individually identified are included in a group which will be buried together in Arlington. Among the group remains is
Air Force Lt. Col. Henry P. Brauner of Franklin Park, N.J., whose identification tag was recovered at the crash site.

On March 29, 1972, 14 men were aboard an AC-130A Spectre gunship that took off from Ubon Royal Thai
Air Force Base, Thailand, on an armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos. The aircraft was struck by an enemy surface-to-air missile and crashed. Search and rescue efforts were stopped after a few days due to heavy enemy activity in the area.

In 1986, joint U.S.- Lao People's Democratic Republic teams, lead by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), surveyed and excavated the crash site in Savannakhet Province, Laos. The team recovered human remains and other evidence including two identification tags, life support items and aircraft wreckage. From 1986 to 1988, the remains were identified as those of nine men from this crew.

Between 2005 and 2006, joint teams resurveyed the crash site and excavated it twice. The teams found more human remains, personal effects and crew-related equipment. As a result, JPAC identified Young, Caniford and the other crewmen using
forensic identification tools, circumstantial evidence, mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons.

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