Military News

Monday, June 02, 2008

U.S. General in Iraq Takes Measures to Prevent Suicides

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

June 2, 2008 - The U.S. general responsible for operations in Baghdad announced today that he is taking proactive measures to prevent soldiers in his command from taking their own lives. Soldiers are his "top priority,"
Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division, told Pentagon reporters during a satellite-carried news conference from his Baghdad headquarters.

"We take proactive measures to improve soldier access to mental health care and prevent suicides and identify early symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder," Hammond pointed out.

Hammond said he has established a suicide elimination policy that features training for
leaders, rank-and-file servicemembers and behavioral health care providers. A key element of the program, he noted, is de-stigmatizing the act of seeking care for mental health issues.

Additionally, the command's chaplains and mental health care providers are directed "to visit our combat outposts, be with our soldiers in our joint security stations -- and listen," Hammond said.

These efforts are paying off, the general observed, noting there's been a 35-percent decrease in medical evacuations to the United States of command personnel for mental health reasons.

Emphasizing that "any suicide is one too many," Hammond also noted that his division's suicide rate is currently below the 2007
Army in-theater average.

The servicemembers in his command are performing well in Iraq, Hammond emphasized.

"They're doing one heck of a job," Hammond said of his troops' endeavors, noting their work in Iraq is striking a blow for freedom and is helping the Iraqi people realize a better tomorrow.

"I think, clearly, that it's an encouraging situation we have right now" in Baghdad, Hammond continued. "But, we still got a lot of work we got to get done.

"And, we're up for it," he added. "We're up for it, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

MILITARY CONTRACTS June 2, 2008

ARMY

BAE Systems,
Tactical Vehicle Systems Limited Partnership, Sealy, Texas, was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $1,656,794,781 firm-fixed price and cost-reimbursement contract for 10,000 medium tactical vehicles, program support and federal retail excise tax. Work will be performed in Sealy, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Nov. 5, 2007. U.S. Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-C-0460).

Raytheon Missile Systems,
Tucson, Ariz., was awarded on May 30, 2008, an $85,278,599 firm-fixed price contract for 155mm Excalibur block 1A-1 and 1A-2 projectiles. Work will be performed in locations across the United States, and Sweden, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Mar. 16, 2007. Joint Munitions and Lethality life Cycle Management Command, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15QKN-07-C-0100).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $36,070,769 firm-fixed price contract for the production of b-kits for the heavy equipment mobility
tactical truck under the long-term armor strategy. Work will be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., and is expected to be completed by May 30, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Feb. 1, 2008. U.S. Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-C-0373).

Tug Hill Construction, Watertown, N.Y., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $35,828,640 firm-fixed price contract for construction of a standard design digital multipurpose range complex. Work will be performed at Fort Steward, Ga., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 16, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four bids were solicited on Jul. 10, 2007, and three bids were received. U.S.
Army Engineer District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W912HN-07-C-0015).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Stratford, Conn., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $34,091,385 firm-fixed price contract for three UH-60M helicopters and post DD form 250 installation of auxiliary power unit kits. Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Oct. 20, 2005. U.S.
Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions, Tinton Falls, N.J., was awarded on May 30, 2008, an $18,115,495 firm-fixed price contract for a performance extension for an additional year of maneuver control system, joint
tactical common operational picture workstation, and global command and control system-Army software support. Work will be performed in Tinton Falls, N.J., and Springfield, Va., and is expected to be completed by May 31, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Mar. 31, 2008. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-06-C-N401).

Joseph J. Henderson and Son, Inc., Gurnee, Ill., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $16,126,900 firm-fixed price contract for the construction of family housing. Work will be performed at Malmstrom
Air Force Base, Montana, and is expected to be completed by Dec. 1, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Mar. 6, 2008, and four bids were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle, Wash., is the contracting activity (W912DW-08-C-0006).

L-3 Communications Corp., Lancaster, Pa., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $13,485,460 firm-fixed price contract for grenade hand fragment delay M67. Work will be performed in Camden, Ark., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 16 bids were solicited on Dec. 15, 2005, and seven bids were received. Headquarters,
Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island Arsenal, is the contracting activity (W52P1J-06-D-0022).

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Co., Bedford, Mass., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $12,056,853 cost-plus fixed fee contract for PATRIOT engineering services. Work will be performed in locations across the United States and is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Aug. 26, 2003. U.S.
Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-04-C-0020).

Wintara, Inc., Fort Washington, Md., was awarded on May 27, 2008, a $5,812,353 firm-fixed price contract for replacement facilities for Forward Operating Base, Speicher, Iraq. Work will be performed in Speicher, Iraq, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 98 bids were solicited on Feb. 4, 2008, and 12 bids were received. U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Programs Center, Winchester, Va., is the contracting activity (W912ER-08-C-0025).

BAE Systems National
Security solutions, Burlington, Mass., was awarded on May 30, 2008, a $5,199,915 cost-plus fixed fee contract for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency Deep Green Program for the development of a battle command decision and support system. Work will be performed in locations across the United States and is expected to be completed by Jul. 31, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Dec. 21, 2007, and 11 bids were received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J. is the contracting activity (W15P7T-08-C-M002).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Hardigg Industries Inc., South Deerfield, Mass., is being awarded a maximum $14,490,00 firm fixed price indefinite quantity contract for trunk lockers. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The original proposal was DIBBS solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is May 30, 2009. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM1C1-08-D-1072).

Naughton Energy Corp., Pocono Pines, Pa.*, is being awarded a maximum $8,142,126 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachussetts, and
New Hampshire. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 304 proposals solicited with 25 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va.,(SP0600-06-D-8504).

Dennis K. Burke, Inc., Chelsea, Mass. is being awarded a maximum $6,896,812 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance include Maine, Massachussetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island. Using services are Navy, Air Force and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 304 proposals solicited with 25 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va.,(SP0600-06-D-8500).

Mansfield Oil Co.,
Gainesville, Ga.*, is being awarded a maximum $5,675,671 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance include New Jersey, New York, Maine, Massachussetts, and Vermont. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 304 proposals solicited with 25 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-06-D-8508).

NAVY

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded an estimated $65,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide persistent Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance services supporting the Global
War on Terror, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom sea-based deployments and land-based detachments. Work will be performed in Bingen, Wash., (65 percent); and St. Louis, Mo., (35 percent) and is expected to be completed in May 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $7,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured by electronic request for proposals with two offers received. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-08-D-0013).

American
Security Programs, Inc.*, Dulles, Va., is being awarded $15,161,782 under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract (N69450-07-D-1261) to exercise the first option period for regional armed security guard and unarmed security guard services at military installations in the southeast region. The award of this option brings the total contract value to $30,273,194. Work will be performed at Naval Support Activity Orlando, Fla.; Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss.; Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss.; Naval Weapons Station Charleston, S.C.; NSA Athens, Ga.; NAS Atlanta, Ga.; NSA Panama City, Fla.; NAS Whiting Field, Fla.; and NAS Kingsville, Texas, and work is expected to be completed Nov. 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The basic contract was competitively procured with award made on 2 Apr. 2007, no offers were solicited nor bids or proposals received for the option. Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Harris Corp., RF Communications Division, Rochester, N.Y., is being awarded a $11,207,458 firm-fixed-price contract for procurement of 321 RT-1694-MP022 Man Pack Radios with 7 year extended warranties in support of the
Tactical Air Control Party in deployed locations worldwide. This radio aids TACP airmen in the performance of their combat missions by giving them a communication link with the combat aircraft supporting the ground forces during the mission. Work will be performed in Rochester, N.Y., and work is expected to be completed by Mar. 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was issued as a sole source contract. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-08-C-JS09).

Blackwater Lodge, Moyock, N.C., is being awarded a $9,600,000 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N61339-02-D-0015) for the acquisition of instructor-only and turn-key training support for fundamental Anti-
Terrorism/Force Protection training in support of the Center for Security Forces Little Creek, Va. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., (66 percent); San Antonio, Texas, (13 percent) San Diego, Calif., (12 percent); and Chesapeake, Va., (9 percent), and work is expected to be completed in Jan. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Management Services Group Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., is being awarded a $6,359,383 three year firm-fixed-price requirements contract for repair of line items in support of the Hybrid Test Set/Automated Test Set. Work will be performed in Virginia Beach, Va., and work is expected to be completed by Sep. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity (N00383-08-D-001P).

AIR FORCE

UES, Inc., of Dayton, Ohio, is being awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for $19,936,000 (maximum). The contractor will perform, on-site in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate's Materials Characterization Facility, Materials Characterization Research of Aerospace Materials of interest to AFRL, as well as perform Materials Characterization Research and Development that advances the state-of-the art materials characterization of developing new and improved characterization techniques, methods and equipment. The advanced nature of the emerging materials under development at AFRL/RX requires both of these research efforts be conducted concurrently and concomitantly in order to meet the AFRL/RX mission goals. At this time $917,000 has been obligated.
Air Force Research Laboratory, Det 1 AFRL/PK, AFRL/PKMM, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-08-D-5200).

Gates: Navy Ships Could Leave Burma Coast 'Within Days'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 1, 2008 - The United States likely will decide "within days" to move four U.S.
Navy ships that have been waiting off the coast of Burma for permission from the country's ruling military junta to provide help to cyclone-stricken residents, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. "No decision has been made at this point, but they obviously have been out there steaming around in circles for a long time," Gates told reporters during the final day of an Asia security conference here. "At this point, it is becoming pretty clear that the regime is not going to let us help."

Gates expressed frustration that the junta repeatedly has refused to allow a group of ships led by the USS Essex to deliver relief supplies at a port and use their helicopters to deliver them to those in need.

Emphasizing that the United States has made no less than 15 direct overtures to the Burmese asking for permission to help, Gates said it may be time to accept "no" as the answer.

"We have tried and tried," he said. "Frankly, we have ... exercised our moral obligation above and beyond the call. And yes, we are beginning to think about what the right time is to move the Essex."

Gates noted that even Burma's fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations members have failed to get the junta to permit more than a trickle of aid. "No one seems to have been able to make an impact on the government," he said.

So far, the Burmese have allowed 95 U.S. C-130 relief flights into Rangoon, but Gates called it a drop in the bucket of what's available and what's needed. The only way to get that aid to the remote Irawaddy Delta that's been hardest hit by the cyclone is with helicopters, he noted.

"We have 22 helicopters sitting on those ships that could take relief directly to the people who are stranded and isolated and unreachable by any other means right now," said
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "So there is a lot of capability there, and it is just very, very regretful that we can't use it."

Mullen said plans are being worked up so that when the United States releases its ships from the area, the relief supplies they are carrying can be left nearby, to be delivered by U.S. aircraft or other means, as permitted.

And even when they begin to leave, they'll "still be in the vicinity for awhile," he said, leaving the door open should Burmese officials change their minds.

Gates called the junta's refusals to allow more aid "akin to
criminal neglect" that will cause even more loss of life. "Many of those who are victims of the cyclone will die," he said. "It is that simple."

The only alternative would be for the international community to band together to intervene by force – something Gates said he saw no interest in from any of the 27 nations represented at the three-day Asia Security Summit. "There literally was not a single country or minister that expressed any interest whatsoever in trying to provide this assistance forcibly," he said.

"I think that there is great sensitivity all over the world to violating a county's sovereignty, particularly in the absence of some kind of U.N. umbrella that would authorize it," he explained.

While not favoring forced intervention, participants at the
security conference did little to hide their collective disdain for Burma's failure to accept most of the aid that's been offered. Gates said it was interesting to watch Burma's representative at the session squirm as "minister after minister described their respective unhappiness at their inability to get assistance into Burma."

Meanwhile, Chinese Lt. Gen. M.A. Xiatian, deputy chief of general staff for the People's Liberation
Army, expressed deep appreciation at the same forum to countries who had come to his country's aid after a deadly earthquake. "The contrast was pretty stark," Gates said.

DoD Names Inaugural Class of National Security Science and Engineering Fellows

The Department of Defense announced today the selection of six distinguished university faculty scientists and engineers forming the first class of its new National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows (NSSEFF) Program. NSSEFF provides grants to top-tier researchers from U.S. universities to conduct long-term, unclassified, basic research of strategic importance to DoD. These grants engage the next generation of outstanding scientists and engineers in the most challenging technical issues facing DoD.

"Up to $3 million of direct research support will be granted to each NSSEFF Fellow for up to five years," said William Rees, deputy under secretary of defense for laboratories and basic sciences. The fellows conduct basic research in core science and engineering disciplines that underpin future DoD
technology development. This basic research is crucial to applications such as sensors, surveillance, information security, cyber and force protection, and power projection. In addition to conducting this unclassified research, Rees noted another important benefit of the NSSEFF Program, "Opportunities for fellows to participate fully in the DoD research enterprise and share their knowledge and insight with DoD military and civilian leaders, researchers in DoD laboratories, and the national security science and engineering community."

In response to the NSSEFF Broad Agency Announcement, nearly 150 academic institutions submitted more than 500 nomination letters. More than 350 technical white papers were received and, following a rigorous technical review, 20 semifinalists were invited to submit full proposals outlining their research plans. Each of the semifinalists participated in a scientific interview before a distinguished panel of experts. A list of the fellows, their home institutions, and their research topics is attached. DoD may elect to announce additional winners of this year's NSSEFF awards at a later date.

Upon successful completion of negotiations between their academic institutions and DoD research offices, grant awards will be made to the faculty members' home institutions for support of their research. DoD congratulates each of these remarkable scientists and engineers on their selection as inaugural fellows of the National
Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows Program.

Gates, Military Leaders in Korea Advocate Normalized Tours

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 2, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today he's not only receptive to extending U.S. troop deployments here to three-year, accompanied tours, but personally believes it's "overdue." "I don't see a reason why our troops in Korea should have unaccompanied tours any more," Gates said, particularly in light of planned operational and quality-of-life changes under way here.

Gates conceded that permitting the 28,000 U.S. troops here to bring their families with them has financial implications, because it would require more family housing and other facilities and services.

"But as a matter of principle, I think it is past time," he said.

Despite South Korea's emergence as one of the most modern, progressive and democratic nations in the world over the past 55 years, the United States still rotates its troops here as through it's still an active combat zone,
Army Gen. Walter Sharp, who will take command of U.S. Forces Korea tomorrow, pointed out to the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing in April.

Extending tours and allowing troops to bring their families to Korea would send the message that South Korea is safe, Gates said, and bring assignment policies here on line with those in Japan and Europe.

Particularly in light of other long-term contingency operations, longer, accompanied tours would reduce unnecessary additional family separations, Sharp said in written comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sharp joined the retiring U.S. Forces Korea commander,
Army Gen. Burwell "B.B." Bell, in advocating three-year tours for troops who bring their families and two-year tours for single and unaccompanied troops.

Gates, Sharp and Bell agree that the change would create less disruption in U.S. Forces Korea, cut down on permanent-change-of-station moves and reduce family separations.

The longer tours would improve continuity, stability, and ultimately, readiness, while retaining important regional, institutional and cultural knowledge within the command, Sharp wrote in written statements to the Senate.

Longer tours also would save money, reducing costly troop moves and the need for assignment incentive pay for troops who agree to extend their tours of duty in Korea.

"Rather than providing incentives to unaccompanied personnel to stay longer in Korea, we should focus on enabling servicemembers to bring their families to Korea and establish a more family-oriented environment," he told Congress.

Bell, a big advocate of "normalized" tours here, cited operational changes taking place on the peninsula that make now the appropriate time to make the change. During congressional testimony in May, he cited plans to move the
Army's 2nd Infantry Division and U.S. joint-force elements from their current location at Yongsan Garrison to south of Seoul. In addition to returning valuable land in the capital city to the Koreans, the move will provide big quality-of-life improvements for troops there, he said.

Sharp told Congress he believes the new tour policy could be put into place as these improvements are made over the next 10 to 15 years, with financial help from South Korea.

But another big payoff of normalization would be closer personal U.S.-South Korean relationships, Bell said during the 13th Far East Forum here in April.

"Right now, over 90 percent of our servicemembers come to Korea for one-year tours without their families – and that means most of them don't get out and don't really get involved in their communities after work," he said. "Instead, they're in their barracks rooms e=mailing and calling their families who are back in the United States.

"With tour normalcy," Bell continued, "American servicemembers could come to Korea on three-year tours with their families – families who will establish life-long connections and friendships with the Korean people, just as I have."

Gates, Mullen Discuss Far-Ranging Defense Issues

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 1, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrapped up the Asia
Security Summit here today expressing confidence in strides being made and sharing insights about topics ranging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to China's military buildup to the standup of the new U.S. Africa Command. "If there's one overriding theme that I take away from the conference, it's growing regional cooperation across a number of issues," Gates told reporters as he wrapped up the three-day summit. "And as far as we're concerned, that's all for the good."

The secretary joined
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a broad-ranging discussion with reporters about issues facing not only Asia, but also the world. Here's a synopsis of what they covered:

About Progress in Iraq:

Gates called the drop in casualties among both U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians "a reflection of some real progress that has been made," but hesitated to declare a trend. "Given the
history, everybody is leery about being optimistic. But it does seem to be developing in a very positive way," he said.

"Losing one soldier is one too many, but having the casualties at the lowest level in a long time is very heartening," he said. "And the key will be to continue to sustain the progress that we have seen."

Gates called the Iraqi
security forces' efforts in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul signs of their maturing capabilities. "I think you are seeing a capability on the part of the Iraqi forces that we have not seen at any time previously in the war," he said.

He shared
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus' hopes that continued improvement could lead to more troop withdrawals this fall. Petraeus commands coalition forces in Iraq, and is awaiting Senate approval to take charge of U.S. Central Command.

Mullen noted that decisions on further reductions in troop strength depend on whether the current trend continues and proves to have taken root. "I am leery of saying we are at a sustainable point and predicting that at this point," the chairman said. "Progress has clearly been made. And I also think we need to get to the fall to se where we are. But we are on a pretty good track right now."

About Contributions in Afghanistan:

Gates said he pressed for more contributions in Afghanistan throughout the Asia
Security Summit. "The best I can recall, I asked everybody," he said. "Each country can make a contribution, depending on its own capabilities and its own domestic circumstances."

He noted that many Asian countries already are contributing, singling out as an example Mongolia, which in addition to sending troops to eight rotations in Afghanistan, has sent nine troop rotations to Iraq.

In addition, Japan has resumed refueling for U.S. ships in the Indian Ocean, he said. France has committed to sending 700 troops, which Gates and Mullen agreed will make a big impact. Various other countries are providing trainers, medical assistance and other support.

"So the question is, for those who are already engaged, 'Can you do more?'" Gates said. "And for those not engaged, 'Think about what you might want to do.'"

The effort in Afghanistan "truly is a global endeavor, and it is clearly up to each government to decide what it can do and how it can make a contribution," he said.

About Pakistan's Border Challenges:

Gates responded to the notion that Pakistan isn't doing enough to confront al-Qaida and Taliban operatives along its border with Afghanistan by saying the new government needs some time.

"It is obviously a time of change in Pakistan," he said. "My view is that this is still a new civilian government. We need to give them time to gain an appreciation of the range of challenges they face and the nature of the challenge there."

That said, Gates conceded, "the border situation clearly is a concern for us."

"They know our concerns," he said of the Pakistani government. "They are trying a strategy. ... They are the sovereign government of Pakistan, and we hope they will be successful."

Mullen said he shares Gates' concerns, but believes the Pakistanis have the best understanding of their country's tribal areas and the best potential for success there. "I think we need to stay engaged with them and supportive of that," he said.

About the Broader
War on Terror:

Regardless of who wins the November election, the next U.S. president almost assuredly will continue an aggressive campaign against al-Qaida and other extremist networks, Gates said.

"They may use different terminology, they may approach it in a different way, but no American president can afford not to be aggressive in dealing with potential threats to the United States and to our friends caused by these violent extremists."

Gates expressed concern that al-Qaida has "metastasized" to broader areas, either directly or by influencing others with similar goals and tactics. Al-Qaida has constituted itself along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and clearly is training potential terrorists, including those from Europe and even the United States, he said. Osama bin Laden continues to inspire others through the Internet, videos and other remote means.

"The international community needs to continue to cooperate closely in dealing with these threats," he said.

Mullen said he was impressed as he interacted with his regional counterparts here by their focus on meeting the challenges terrorists pose in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. He said he found "a continued commitment to that and a realization that nobody can get this done by themselves."

"It is going to take all of us and that regional commitment," the admiral said.

About China:

The United States will continue watching China -- particularly its strategic modernization programs -- and will adjust its own programs as necessary, Gates said. He told reporters he's encouraged by the strategic dialogue taking place between the two countries and hopes it will lead to better understanding about their intentions and long-term defense strategies.

U.S. concerns involve the types of weapons China is building, the numbers of those weapons and the capabilities they will create, he said. "We hope that the dialogue we have going will reduce uncertainty and make hedging or any kind of a competition in this arena unnecessary," he said.

Gates said he disagrees with Chinese Lt. Gen. M.A. Xiatian's assertions at the
security conference that U.S. missile defense efforts are offensive or that China's missile program is defensive in nature.

"Missile defense is exactly what it says. It's a defense," he said. "And it is hard to see a limited capability such as we have and will have in the future undermining the offensive capabilities of either Russia or China."

Meanwhile, he said, it's impossible to depict China's ballistic missile development program as anything but offensive. "I don't know what you use them for if it's not for offensive capability," he said. "It's hard to see an intercontinental ballistic missile as a defensive weapon."

While these weapons could be seen as a deterrent, "it is clearly for use in an offensive way," he said.

About U.S. Africa Command:

Gates dismissed allegations that the United States stood up AfriCom to counter Chinese influence in Africa as "nonsense."

"This is about us trying to do a better job of cultivating and strengthening our relationships in Africa," he said. "It is not directed against anybody whatsoever."

"AfriCom is a vehicle for the United States to give even more attention to improving our relationships in Africa and providing training and help to African governments," he said. This help, he said, ranges from helping governments professionalize their militaries to preparing them to carry out peacekeeping or disaster-response missions.

Mullen said the command will provide regular, senior-level engagement between the United States and African nations similar to what's already in place in Asia and elsewhere in the world.

Gates Affirms Democratic Principles During Bangkok Visit

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 1, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here today, reaffirming after a week of anti-government protests here that the U.S.-Thai
military-to-military relationship is based on shared democratic principles. Speaking with Prime Minister and Defense Minister Samak Sundaravej, Gates praised Thailand's longstanding bilateral relationship with the United States, and promised to help the Thai military continue its defense reforms and build capacity, a senior defense official who accompanied the secretary told reporters.

But perhaps more significantly, with about a dozen top-level Thai officers looking on during the 45-minute session, Gates praised Thailand's recent return of its
military to civilian control as a return to democratic principles. "The message was pretty unmistakable," the official said.

Gates' visit comes on the heels of a week of demonstrations here in the Thai capital that led to speculation that the
military could stage a coup. Speaking to reporters early today in Singapore as the annual Asia Security Summit there wrapped up, Gates said he planned to relay the U.S. view on the matter.

"Our position is pretty consistent," he said. "We want to see democratically elected governments, and we will convey that message."

He called the timing of his visit – only coincidentally amid the turmoil – "an opportunity to weigh in with this message."

Gates told Samak the United States has "no better ally in Asia" and expressed interest in expanding that relationship, the official said. He promised continued U.S. help with Thailand's defense reforms, installation of a new radar network and efforts to professionalize the country's
military officer corps through the Thai National Defense University.

He also thanked Thailand for hosting multilateral
military exercises such as the annual Cobra Gold exercise that wrapped up last week.

The bulk of the session focused on the crisis in neighboring Burma, with Samak describing regional efforts to get Burma's ruling
military junta to allow aid into cyclone-stricken regions. Samak also attempted to explain the Burmese leaders' rationale for refusing aid – basically that any large-scale international intervention could threaten their rule – and said efforts to convince them otherwise hadn't succeeded.

"Clearly, he was frustrated by their failed efforts to persuade them," another official at the meeting said.

Samak promised Gates "to press this" when Thailand takes over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in July.

Gates had urged ASEAN during the Asia
Security Summit to pressure Burma, one of its members, to accept international offers to help.

During today's meeting, Samak also explained the complex roots of an insurgency in southern Thailand and its impact on the country's internal
security. Four southern border provinces have long been host to a secessionist movement, with violence resulting in hundreds of deaths.

Soldier's Wife Becomes First Military Spouse Naturalized Overseas

American Forces Press Service

June 1, 2008 - Zita Chouchan, the wife of a U.S.
Army soldier, became a citizen of the United States on May 29 at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, in the first overseas naturalization ceremony for a military spouse. Jonathan Scharfen, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, presided over the ceremony, which also included 20 soldiers stationed throughout Germany and Kosovo.

"This week, as we observe Memorial Day, we take time to reflect upon the sacrifices our
military and their families make to defend the freedoms America offers," Scharfen said. "Words cannot express our profound appreciation for the honorable service you provide. You make us proud to be Americans."

In her letter to USCIS seeking the opportunity to conduct her naturalization process and ceremony overseas, Chouchan said, "I'm very proud. ... Not everyone has earned the right to be called a
military spouse."

When President Bush signed the fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act into law in January, portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act changed to allow certain
military spouses to naturalize overseas where they are stationed. Before then, spouses could naturalize only while physically within the United States.

Chouchan's husband,
Army Sgt. 1st Class Lom Chouchan, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1995. His family fled their native Cambodia in the 1970s, spending the next five years in a refugee camp before a Toledo, Ohio, family sponsored them as immigrants in the United States. His family later moved to Long Beach, Calif., where he graduated from high school before joining the Army.

(From a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services news release.)

Mullen Views Interagency Success in Philippines

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 1, 2008 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saw firsthand here today how the U.S. interagency fight is making progress in this island nation.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met American servicemembers of the Joint Special Operations Task Force here, and saw how the U.S. Agency for International Development is helping the Philippine government battle an insurgency.

Civilian agencies of the U.S. government are important assets in the effort to combat
terrorism, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Mullen both have said. They have testified before Congress on the need for more people and money for U.S. civilian agencies, saying long-term aid to at-risk nations is the answer to the question many U.S. legislators ask: "Are we creating more terrorists than we are killing?"

Stopping groups like Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf – both al-Qaida affiliates – from recruiting new members on this Philippine island of Mindanao is a priority of the Philippine government and the United States.

"That's the path in a place like this," Mullen said during an all-hands call here. "What has become very evident to me as it should be to you here is security is a necessary condition, but security is not going to get you across home plate. You've got to be able to create an economic underpinning. You've got to have good governance. You've got to have the rule of law -- all these things that start to sustain themselves."

U.S. civilian aid to the people of Mindanao dwarfs the
military funds. USAID spends $50 million to $60 million a year in the Philippines, with 60 percent coming to this impoverished area. U.S. military aid is pegged at roughly $5 million to $6 million a year.

USAID works with Philippine national and local
leaders to develop projects that benefit all the people. The agency has financed digging wells, building roads, rebuilding bridges and constructing schools. "We work closely with the joint task force here," Jon Lindborg, USAID's mission director in the Philippines, said in an interview. "We're able to leverage our money to the best uses."

The agency is financing improvements to the airports at Tawi-Tawi and in Jolo – both of which also benefit the Philippine armed forces.

USAID works with the joint task force in scheduling medical, dental and veterinary exercises that provide health care to thousands of people. They also work with
Navy Seabees who deploy to the islands to build schools and medical clinics. The agency also acts as a bridge for nongovernmental organizations that, for whatever reason, don't want to work directly with the military.

But USAID is stretched. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the United States took a "peace dividend," Mullen said. While the U.S.
military was cut 35 to 40 percent, civilian agencies also were slashed. USAID went from 15,000 employees worldwide to 4,000.

"The U.S. government is not set up for the wars of the 21st century," Mullen said. "It doesn't reflect the expeditionary world we're living in. We haven't recruited, hired, promoted, trained, educated the people in our civilian agencies for the kind of expeditionary requirements and rotations that we are actually doing right now."

Both Gates and Mullen have testified that the State Department needs 1,000 more employees and $1 billion more in budget.

USAID, State Department programs that help nations build governance and
security assistance to help nations build military capabilities are crucial to the fight in the Philippines and go together in many other poorer nations that face the same problems. The civilian departments need to grow; they need more people, and those people need to deploy at a moment's notice, Mullen said.

"Until we can do that, the military will pick up the slack, because we can," Mullen said.

The capability to help nations build good governance is not a core mission for the Defense Department, but it is something the State Department can and does do. Building infrastructure is a mission USAID has done since it started in 1961. Legal attaches from the
Justice Department have the expertise to help countries establish the rule of law. The Agriculture Department can help farmers be more bountiful and develop new crops.

Officials at the
military joint task force and the U.S. embassy would like to see the group get commanders' emergency relief program funds.

"We had an incident where Abu Sayyaf burned down homes in central Mindanao, Lee McClenny, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Manila, said. "If we'd had CERP funds, we could have helped rebuild those houses and made a huge statement against the terrorists."

Mullen listened to the words of the civilian and military
leaders on the ground – "where the rubber meets the road," he said -- and promised to take their concerns back to Washington.

"The days where a single service, a single department, a single anything can make things happen are behind us," Mullen said. "It's got to be integrated, and it's got to be all of us doing this together."

Gates Seeks More Afghanistan Support at Asia Security Summit

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates continued his quest to get more Asian countries to step forward and help in Afghanistan during a series of bilateral meetings here today at the International Institute of Strategic Studies' Asia
Security Summit. Talks about operations in Afghanistan as well as Iraq played prominently in most of Gates' six formal and informal "pull-aside" sessions today, a senior defense official told reporters. The same issues are expected to arise again during three additional bilateral meetings.

Unlike last year's summit, during which Gates took his case to the full body during his keynote address, this year he used a lower-profile, personal approach during meetings with his counterparts from Japan and Singapore, as well as Great Britain and France.

Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba "focused a great deal on Afghanistan and the global
war on terror and what more, if anything, the Japanese can do to increase their participation in that effort," the official said.

Later in the day, Gates pressed Singaporean Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean to tap into his country's helicopter fleet to support Afghanistan operations. "We are always in need of additional heavy lift, and the secretary made the case that helicopter transport in Afghanistan literally saves lives," the official said.

Gates thanked two European participants at the conference during separate bilateral sessions for their roles in the NATO International
Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, and explored ways to enhance the effort.

He urged French Defense Minister Herve Morin to consider deploying French troops to join U.S. Special Forces serving in Afghanistan, and also discussed operations in Iraq, the official said.

British Defense Minister Gordon Brown, just back from visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, "couldn't speak more highly" to Gates about the U.S. 24th
Marine Expeditionary Unit's performance in the Regional Command South sector of Afghanistan, the official said. "He was astonished by how much they had accomplished in so short a period of time," the official added.

In discussions about Iraq, Brown and Gates focused on the status-of-forces agreement being negotiated with the Iraqi government, which will affect how British and U.S. forces operate there, the official said.

During last year's security summit, Gates reminded participants during his keynote address that success or failure in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on what happens in their own back yards. He urged them to do their part to help Afghanistan become a secure, fully sovereign nation, and noted Asian countries such as Japan, Australia and Indian that already are assisting.

Gates encouraged more Asian countries to recognize the stake they have in Afghanistan and to lend their help to ensuring it succeeds. "I would urge others to step forward with assistance to Afghanistan in the areas of governance, reconstruction and counternarcotics," he told them.

Two additional sessions today -- with Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Theodoro Jr. and Chinese Lt. Gen. M.A. Xiatian, deputy chief of general staff for the People's Liberation
Army -- focused on issues other than Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gates and Theordoro discussed the Philippines' defense reform and counterterrorism efforts. The discussion with Xiatian concentrated on response efforts following a deadly May 12 earthquake in China's Sichuan province. Xiatian thanked Gates for the prompt U.S.
military response provided, and agreed with Gates that more military-to-military exchanges between the two countries can enhance their abilities to cooperate in disaster relief, the official said.

Gates: U.S. Hopes for More Openness, Transparency From China

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed hope today that ongoing discussions between the United States and China will lead to greater openness and transparency about China's
military intentions and capabilities. Gates, here for an Asian security summit conference, said the United States watches China's military developments closely, and is concerned about some aspects of those developments that China keeps hidden from the rest of the world.

"We're working on this," he told NHK TV Japan in a segment that aired this morning, expressing hope that strategic nuclear dialogue under way will pave the way for increased openness and exchange.

"I am hopeful that the dialogue we have initiated with the Chinese will continue to grow and ... reduce some of the concern we have and others here in the region have," he said.

Gates is slated to meet today 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.

During his keynote address today to the International Institute for
Security Studies forum, Gates cited examples of forward momentum in military relations between the United States and China, including an increasing military-to-military engagement. For example, China is participating this year for the first time as an observer in the Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand.

He also pointed to the new defense telephone link that Gates and Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie recently tested for the first time. The first operational use of the "hotline" coordinated U.S. humanitarian support for China's earthquake-stricken Sichuan province earlier this month.

"We have also begun a series of dialogues on strategic issues to help us understand one another better, and to avoid possible misunderstanding," Gates told the participants in the
security forum known as the "Shangri-La Dialogue," named for the hotel here in which the annual conference takes place.

But Gates also emphasized the need to play by internationally accepted rules and not to disrupt the openness of trade, of ideas and of access to maritime, space and
cyber domains, factors that have brought prosperity to the region. He stressed the importance of continued common use of these so-called "common spaces" in ways that continue to drive that mutual prosperity.

Lack of clarity about a neighbor's strategic intentions "all too often prompts reliance and sometimes over-reliance on counter-strategies and hedging that can, over time, yield to outright suspicion," he said during a question-and-answer session after his address. "This is a direction we seek to avoid. Instead, we desire to work with every country in Asia to deepen our understanding of their
military and defense finances, and to do so on a reciprocal basis.

"We do so in a sincere and open effort to avoid misreading intentions, and so we can continue our work as strategic partners," he said.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he shares Gates' sentiments about positive developments with China during an interview here last night with Chinese television. Mullen called the new hotline an example of growing military-to-military contacts between the United States and China.

"It's important that we stay engaged to create a better understanding of what our intentions are and our goals are," the chairman said. "I've expressed concern before about the increased defense budget in China and the technologies it's focused on. All of this argues for the need for us to stay in discussion so we can understand strategic intent."

Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command -- who also is here for the security summit -- noted during a Pentagon news conference earlier this week that China's willingness to talk with U.S. military leaders, and its acceptance of earthquake aid, represents a welcome change.

"China's reaction here in the aftermath of this earthquake is different than China's reaction has been to other natural disasters in China," Keating said. "While it is catastrophic and tragic, it nonetheless is an opportunity for us to increase and improve the communications we have with officials in China."

The apparent turnaround bodes well for further discourse during the Shangri-La conference, officials said. That's a marked departure from the past two Asian summits, both immediately after release of the Defense Department's annual China
Military Power report. The report details China's growing military capability and its secretiveness about the extent of the growth and budget dedicated to it.

A senior defense official traveling with Gates said the 2007 and 2006 reports were published later than expected, setting conditions for a strained atmosphere at the Shangri-La conference.

This year's report was intentionally released on time, to prevent a repeat. "We did not want to step on Shangri La and to set up this artificial confrontation atmosphere," the official said.

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."

Bush Urges Congressional Action on War Funding, GI Bill Expansion

American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2008 - With Congress preparing to return from its Memorial Day recess, President Bush used his weekly radio address this morning to urge lawmakers to pass various pieces of pending legislation. Here's what the president had to say about two defense-related issues:

War funding: "Congress needs to pass a responsible war funding bill that puts the needs of our troops first, without loading it up with unrelated domestic spending. Our troops in Afghanistan are performing with courage and honor, delivering blows to the Taliban and al-Qaida. Our troops in Iraq have driven al-Qaida and other extremists from sanctuaries they once held across the country and are chasing them from their last remaining strongholds. Our men and women in uniform are risking their lives every day, and they deserve the resources and flexibility they need to complete their mission."

GI Bill expansion: "Congress needs to support our
military families by passing an expansion of the GI Bill that makes it easier for our troops to transfer unused education benefits to their spouses and children. It is critical for this legislation to support the all-volunteer force and help us recruit and retain the best military in the world."

Geren Urges Graduating Cadets to Take Care of Soldiers

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2008 - The core of the U.S.
Army is its responsibility to take care of its soldiers, Army Secretary Pete Geren told the graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., today. Geren spoke to the 972 members of the West Point Class of 2008 at Michie Stadium in the academy's 210th graduation since its founding in 1802.

"Regardless of how long you wear the uniform, one thing will never change. You are a
leader and the well-being of soldiers will be in your hands," Geren said. "You'll be judged by how you discharge that duty. For if you strip away everything else about the Army, at its core, that's what the Army is all about: soldiers taking care of soldiers."

Geren called today's Army different from any other in history. It is an all-volunteer force, more than half of its soldiers are married, and there are 700,000 children within its
military family ranks.

"The all-volunteer force is a national treasure, but it can't be squandered. To sustain our Army, we must provide Army families with a quality of life equal to their service," the secretary said. "As Army leaders, you must take care of
Army families."

Geren borrowed from the writings of former U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy to parallel the threats facing the country today and to outline the challenges the graduating cadets will face in their careers.

He said Jefferson -- the founder of West Point, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and staunch supporter of religious freedom -- would understand the threat posed today by tyranny in the name of religion. Jefferson devoted much of his work to the advancement of liberty and religious freedom and considered his contributions to the cause of religious freedom among his greatest accomplishments.

"Jefferson's ideal of religious freedom and individual liberty stands in stark contrast to the malignant vision of religious oppression and the murderous practices of the Taliban and al-Qaida, to the hatred that murdered 3,000 people on 9/11 and continues its butchery today," Geren said. "Your sons and daughters, our soldiers, stand against a threat to liberty and life that is as old as civilization and a cause that shaped the foundation of our nation."

Geren said the cadets are entering a dynamic period of service and warfare. He borrowed from a 1962 speech by Kennedy to graduates at West Point. His comments, made as America was being drawn into the war in Vietnam, mirror the challenges troops face now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Your
military responsibilities will require a versatility and an adaptability never before required in either war or peace,'" Geren read from Kennedy's speech. "This is another type of war -- war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, and assassins -- war by ambush instead of combat, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting us rather than engaging us."

Kennedy's speech predicted their service would include commanding traditional forces in less traditional roles, and risking their lives not as combatants, but as instructors and advisors. Their service would require an understanding of foreign policy and
military power, and they would give orders in different languages.

"Your posture and your performance will provide the local population with the only evidence of what our country is really like," Geren read from the 35th president's remarks.

The secretary said the mission of the United States
military, then as now, goes beyond the security of its own citizens.

"The United States has always stood as a beacon of hope for those yearning to be free," he said. In the past six years, he noted, the U.S.
military has liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Geren heralded the graduates for their choice of serving in the
military over attending other educational institutions and pursuing civilian careers. They could have gone into private business and on to lucrative job offers, but instead chose the path of duty, honor and country, he told the families in attendance.

"The service our nation is asking of your sons and daughters is important work for our country, for the free world, for liberty loving people everywhere," Geren said. "It will change our nation, and it will change our world for the better."

Geren also pointed out the personal risk in the graduates' chosen profession. Eleven previous West Point graduates have died in the past year in combat, he noted.

"There's always a personal cost in your profession of arms. It is your willingness to bear that cost that ennobles you, your calling and this gathering," he said.

It is in their deaths, though, that the American soldier has built the foundations for the country today, Geren said.

"It is Arlington [National Cemetery] -- not the monuments, malls and memorials -- that tells the story of our nation," he said. "Were it not for that transcendent ideal that has inspired the American soldier on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, there would be no monuments, no Capitol and no mall."

It is that same transcendent ideal that calls out to people the world over who yearn to be free, -- "a transcendent ideal that led these men and women of the class of 2008 to choose to be soldiers -- American soldiers -- for the America at war," Geren said.

Gates Laments Burma's Refusal to Accept Cyclone Recovery Aid

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2008 - While the United States and the international community have reached out to Burma, the generals ruling the country "have kept their hands in their pockets," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. In a question-and-answer session after addressing delegates of the annual Asian
security conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, Gates addressed the notion that a failed U.S. policy toward Burma has contributed to the junta's refusal to allow in international aid.

Cyclone Nargis struck Burma on May 2. The cyclone hit at the Irrawaddy Delta region – a fertile rice-farming area barely above sea level. The storm – with winds of 135 miles per hour and a storm surge – has killed an estimated 134,000 Burmese. Vast portions of the delta washed away, and nearly a month later, large areas remain cut off from the rest of the country.

The extent of the disaster took a day to sink in, but almost immediately nations around the world offered for the estimated 2.5 million people affected. The Burmese junta at first refused all offers, but on May 6 Burma asked the United Nations for assistance. The Burmese government said it would accept food, medicines, water and other supplies, but would not allow foreign aid workers or foreign
military personnel to operate inside the country.

An Italian flight finally was allowed to deliver supplies to Rangoon on May 9. The Burmese finally gave landing permission for a U.S.
Air Force C-130 Hercules airlifter to deliver supplies on May 14. U.S. Pacific Command chief Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating was aboard the first flight, and he met with military leaders at the airport and urged them to allow more flights to the stricken nation. He also offered the Burmese government helicopters to help them deliver the aid to cut-off towns and villages in the hardest-hit areas of the country.

The Burmese since have allowed five C-130 flights a day to go into Rangoon. Through May 28, 75 U.S. flights had delivered 670 metric tons of material – mostly water, rations, plastic sheeting, tents, hygiene packets, water purification equipment and the like.

At the same time, four U.S. ships led by the USS Essex steamed to Burmese waters and awaited permission to land tons of relief supplies. The Essex would have been able to use helicopters and air-cushioned boats to speed 41,000 five-gallon containers of pure water to people who desperately need it. The junta has refused to allow the ships to land the supplies.

It wasn't until May 21 that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon convinced Burmese
leaders to allow international aid workers into the country.

The junta's delay has killed tens of thousands of Burmese, Gates said. Defense officials said more delays will incur "second- and third-order effects" such as deaths from water-borne illnesses, malaria or exposure.

A questioner wanted to know why United States officials believe they can deal with North Korea, but not Burma. "For a productive dialogue to take place, it is necessary for both parties to feel a need to engage in that dialogue," Gates explained. "One of the reasons we are engaged with the North Koreans is that the North Koreans – under pressure – came to the table as part of the Six-Party Talks." The secretary praised China's role in getting the North Koreans to the talks, and stressed the U.S. engagement is not simply a bilateral exercise, but rather is part of a multilateral discussion.

"I think there has been little indication that Burma has any interest in engaging with the United States, and the reality is – as harsh as it may seem – many of those in this room have governments that have tried to engage or do engage with [the country's
leaders] and have had zero influence in getting them to open up and accept international assistance for a suffering population," he said. "Governments who have engaged with Burma have had little or no influence in getting them to do the right thing by their own people."

The United States has tried to reason with the Burmese generals, Gates said. He cited Keating's face-to-face appeal when he accompanied the first U.S. relief mission, and added that the United States has reached out to the ruling junta "15 different times" in efforts to convince the generals to let the world community help the Burmese people.

"So it has not been us who have been deaf and dumb in response to the pleas of the international community," Gates said.

An editorial in an official, Burmese government-controlled newspaper said the cyclone victims could "stand by themselves" and criticized U.N. insistence on allowing in aid workers. "The people from Irrawaddy can survive on self-reliance without chocolate bars donated by foreign countries," the Kyemon newspaper editorial said.

Gates offered his condolences "to the many who have suffered, lost loved ones, and face incredible difficulties" as a result of the Burmese typhoon disaster and the powerful May 12 earthquake that killed thousands in China. He noted the solidarity among Pacific nation in responding to the crises.

"Amid the pain and suffering, it has been heartening to see so much international cooperation by so many in this room," Gates said. "Many governments are doing everything they can to help save lives and rebuild livelihoods."

U.S. Pacific Command officials here said the Burmese generals' attitudes do not look as if they will change. The U.S. ships steaming off the coast probably will have to depart the area within days, they said.

U.S. Will Stand By Deep Commitments in Asia, Gates Pledges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2008 - The United States has deep, historic ties to Asia and the Pacific and has no intention of turning its back on the region now or in the future, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates reassured Asian leaders here today. "For those who worry that Iraq and Afghanistan have distracted the United States from Asia and developments in this region, I would counter that we have never been more engaged with more countries," Gates said during his keynote address at the 7th annual Asia
Security Summit.

The summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue after the hotel where it is held, brings together defense ministers, chiefs of staff and other senior
security policy-makers from more than 20 Asian nations each year to discuss regional security concerns. Joining Gates at his second summit are Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

Gates pointed to longstanding U.S. ties to the region dating to the 19th century and the multiple roles the United States continues to play today. He called any speculation that the United States is losing interest in the region "either preposterous or disingenuous, or both."

"The
United States military – even with its ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq – remains engaged with most Asian governments, doing more things in more constructive ways than at any time in our history," he said.

This engagement "has added consistent value to the Asian
security equation" for more than 60 years and that continues to be a major force in regional security, he said. "The security of all Asian countries – whether large or small – is strongly and positively enhanced by a strong U.S. presence."

Gates hailed broad developments that have propelled Asia's rise to become "the center of gravity in a rapidly globalizing world."

The United States not only welcomes that rise, but also, by its continued presence in the region, it has helped to make it possible, he said. "This presence has offered other nations the crucial element of choice and enabled their entry into a globalized international society," he said.

Shared globalization and the economic strength it's brought the region have been possible only because of openness – of trade, of ideas and of access to maritime, space and
cyber domains, he said. He cited the need for continued common use of these so-called "common spaces" in ways that continue to drive mutual prosperity, and the need to play by internationally accepted rules.

Gates emphasized the importance of alliances in the region that he said are transforming to fit 21st-century realities.

"Our relations with partners and friends, and our engagement in Asia, are more and more the fabric that binds together what is becoming a web of relationships, including our growing ties with India and our increasing engagement with China," he said.

Asked during a question-and-answer session if the United States will lose interest in Asia in light of other commitments around the world, Gates insisted that it won't.

"Partly we won't lose interest because we are an Asian power," he said. "We are a resident power. We have been here a long time. And we will continue to be here – not only because we have sovereign territory in the area, ... but because we have some very longstanding relationships here."

Regardless of who wins the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Gates said, he's confident that the United States will continue to build on the overlapping and longstanding security partnerships in Asia.

"As the next administration calibrates and refines these important relationships, it is bound to be guided by a single imperative: to make each of our links more relevant, more resilient, more responsive and more enduring," he said.

Progress toward that end during the past eight years has "positioned the next administration in a very strong way looking to the future as you look at this part of the world," he said.

Gates tried to allay concerns that
security demands in Europe and the Middle East could divert future U.S. attention from Asia. He said he's aware of no one in the U.S. political arena who doesn't attach high priority to the U.S. relationships and role in Asia.

"I believe that future presidents will sustain an American military that can protect our interests and our friends in all three of those regions," Gates said. "As a global power with global interests and friends and allies around the world who look to us for support, we will sustain those capabilities."

Looking to the future, Gates said the United States will play many roles in Asia in the decades ahead, as circumstances require.

"We will be a protector if that is required in the context of our security alliances," he said. "We will be one who brings humanitarian assistance when that is required. We will partner in training and equipping as that is required.

"So I think it is a very broad-based set of relationships and roles that we have out here," he said. "But I think we see ourselves most broadly as partners and collaborators in Asia in the 21st century."

Gates Views Massive Growth Under Way in Guam

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 30, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates got a firsthand look at growth under way here to prepare for the arrival of more than 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, Japan, by 2014. The secretary took a helicopter tour of Andersen
Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam and other island facilities to see construction already started in preparation of the arrival of members of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and an estimated 9,000 family members.

Gates noted that the inbound Marines trace their lineage to the 3rd
Marine Amphibious Corps that landed in Guam in 1944 to liberate the island.

The incoming Marines and families, in addition to another 4,000 active-duty sailors, airmen and soldiers slated to arrive, will double the U.S. military presence here.

"All in all, it will be one of the largest movements of military assets in decades and continue the historic mission of the United States military presence on Guam: to serve as the nation's first line of defense and to maintain a robust
military presence in a critical part of the world," Gates said.

That's especially critical now, in light of "the diffuse nature of the threats and challenges facing our nation in the 21st century -- a century that will be shaped by the opportunities presented by the developing nations of Asia," he said.

During his visit here, Gates met with Gov. Felix Camacho and military
leaders to hear their assessments about the move. He vowed to ensure construction -- estimated at $3 billion to $4 billion a year -- proceeds in a manner that respects the local population.

"The people of Guam have been hospitable to our
military forces for a very long time, and we want to keep that relationship strong as we go forward and deal with issues associated with the growth ... in a way sensitive to the needs of the people of Guam as well as our military," he said.

The changes ahead are part of a broader Alliance Transformation Realignment agreement between the United States and Japan. "As a sign of how much the world has changed, this move comes with the help of our close ally, Japan," Gates said.

Japan has agreed to contribute about $6 billion toward the cost of facilities, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters traveling with Gates. The United States will contribute about the same amount toward the move, he said.
.
The posture change will reduce the U.S. footprint in Japan to about 10,000 Marines, Morrell said, while taking advantage of opportunities provided in Guam.

"We envision Guam to be of great importance to our Pacific strategic force posture for decades to come," he said.

A U.S. territory more than 3,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, Guam offers a prime strategic location with ready access to potential hot spots throughout the Pacific as well as to U.S. allies, explained
Air Force Brig. Gen. Doug Owens, commander of 36th Wing and Andersen Air Force Base. It's two to five hours by air and two days by ship from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and other key western Pacific locations.

This forward location reduces time required to respond to a crisis or contingency in the region. For example, one of the two
Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft that delivered relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Chengdu, China, flew from Guam.

"This is not just another base," a senior defense official traveling with Gates 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.

Vice President Richard B. Cheney emphasized Guam's strategic importance during his visit here in February 2007. That importance, he said, will only increase in the coming years as Marines from Okinawa relocate here.

"By positioning forces on Guam, the United States can move quickly and effectively to protect our friends, to defend our interests, to bring relief in times of emergency and to keep the sea lanes open to commerce and closed to
terrorist threats," he said. "The island may be small, but it has tremendous importance to the peace and security in the field."

Another compelling reason for increasing the U.S.
military presence in Guam is its status as a U.S. territory, deep in the Pacific. That gives military planners and operators far more leeway in conducting operations than they typically find at an overseas base.

On the island's north side, Andersen
Air Force Base offers ready access to air space -- something quickly shrinking in the continental United States, Europe, Korea and Japan. At the same time, it features some 7.5 million square feet of ramp space and extensive open space to support future infrastructure growth, Owens said.

Guam also offers the
Air Force's largest fuel supply in the United States, its largest supply of weapons in the Pacific, and a valuable urban training area in an abandoned housing area at a site known as Anderson South. These facilities provide a platform for U.S. forces to surge where needed in the theater.

A new facility under construction will house the Pacific's Global Hawk unmanned drone operation, with three of the aircraft due to arrive here next summer, Owens said. In addition, the base is preparing to become the new home of the incoming Marines' aviation unit and to accommodate the
Marine ground forces' deployments.

"On the Air Force side alone, there's a very exciting future ahead for us," Owens said. "Andersen in six years won't look anything like it does today."

To the south, Naval Base Guam, with its protected deep-water harbor, is home port to three attack submarines. The base is building up its infrastructure, increasing inner Apra Harbor's capability to accommodate aircraft carriers, and expanding the training opportunities it's able to offer.

The biggest challenge for Guam to reach its potential is ensuring its infrastructure keeps pace with the need. "There are a lot of interconnected pieces here," Gates said. "There are a lot of pieces of this jigsaw puzzle that have to come together at the same time."

Navy Capt. Bob Lee, director of the Joint Guam Program Office overseeing the effort, said he's confident the incoming Marines will have the "the latest and greatest" in facilities awaiting them when they arrive.

"That's why the groundwork we are laying here is so important," he said. "We need to ensure we do all our planning up front, and get it right."