Military News

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DoD Awards Grants To Minority Institutions

The Department of Defense announced today plans to award 21 grants totaling $14.1 million to 17 minority institutions as part of the fiscal 2008 DoD Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions Infrastructure Support Program.

The grants will enhance education programs and research capabilities at the recipient institutions in scientific disciplines critical to national
security and the DoD.

This announcement is the result of competition for infrastructure-support funding conducted for the office of Defense Research and Engineering by the
Army Research Office and the Air Force office of Scientific Research. The fiscal 2008 program solicitation received 73 proposals in response to a broad agency announcement issued in November 2007.

Research grants ranging from $430,000 to $785,000 will have a performance period of 36 months. Grants will be made by the
Army Research Office.

All awards are subject to the successful completion of negotiations between DoD and the academic institutions.

The list of recipients for fiscal year 2008 funding can be found on the Web at: http://preview.defenselink.mil/news/hbcu.pdf .

Troops in Iraq Get Front-Row Seats at Children's Graduations

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Seaton
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - Micaela Cardoza beamed as she stood in her blue cap and gown at her Ansbach, Germany, high school graduation. She couldn't help but smile as a teacher read her message to her family and friends. "I want to thank my mom, Miriam, and my dad, Elias, for always supporting me and being there through good and rough times," the teacher read. "I will always be thankful for all your hard work and support."

A few thousand miles away in a conference room in Iraq,
Army Sgt. Elias Lantigua, Micaela's father, choked back tears.

"I got a little emotional, ... more than I thought I would," said Lantigua, who hails from Boston and serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force 12. "Once she said my name, I couldn't help it."

Lantigua was one of a few soldiers in 12th Combat Aviation Brigade to watch their children take the stage, courtesy of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, U.S.
Army Europe and 5th Signal Command in Germany.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Irvin, a production control specialist in 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, watched from another darkened conference room at Logistics Support Area Anaconda as his own daughter, Trista, crossed the stage.

"I'm glad I could see it," he said. "Of course, I want to be there, but it's nice to see it. I talked to her this afternoon as they were getting ready to go. I'm very proud of her."

Though watching from afar on a monitor may not be the same thing as being there in person, the soldiers said, they were happy to bear witness to such major achievements in their children's lives.

"I think it's very positive," said
Army Lt. Col. Richard Crogan, deputy commander for Task Force 49 and 12th CAB soldiers stationed at LSA Anaconda. "It's a great morale boost being able to see your child go across the stage. It's the next best thing to being there."

This is the fifth year that parents of students in Germany have been able to watch the ceremonies from Iraq. The recorded ceremonies also are available online for parents to watch later if work schedules kept them from seeing it live.

Lantigua, who said he was skeptical about how he would feel watching from so far away, spent most of the ceremony waiting for glimpses of his daughter. He excitedly pointed her out to friends assembled in the room when she appeared on screen.

"I was able to participate in something that, just a few years ago, I didn't think was possible," he said. "For that short time, I actually felt like I was there and that I went through this with them."

After the 12th CAB wraps up its 15-month deployment in September, Lantigua and his family will travel to Boston, where Micaela plans to speak to a recruiter about joining the
Air Force.

"I'll be with her for that," he said. "It's important to both of us. ... She wants me to be there, and I want to be there for her."

And for one important hour on a Friday night in June, he said, he was there for her.

"After seeing the picture and the big screen, the feed was so good, I felt like I was actually in the audience," he said. "I probably had a better seat than most of the people there."

(
Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Seaton serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the Task Force 12 Public Affairs Office.)

Secretary Discusses Candid Meeting With Airmen at Langley

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he was pleased with the give-and-take he had with about 400 Air Combat Command airmen at the base theater here today. "I felt I needed to look them in the eye and tell them why I made the decisions I made," Gates said.

Gates explained why he felt he had to ask for the resignations of
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley following a report delivered to him about nuclear security lapses.

Following a 20-minute speech, the secretary asked local and traveling reporters to leave so he could take questions from the airmen "unvarnished and straight from the shoulder."

In an interview later with reporters traveling with him to Colorado, Gates spoke about the challenges facing the Air Force
leadership team he has proposed of Michael B. Donley as Air Force secretary and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz as chief of staff.

Fixing the nuclear stewardship issue is the most important task for the new
leadership team, he said. Nuclear deterrence is going to become more critical, not less so, in the future, the secretary said. He said the rising threat of nuclear proliferation is one reason for his conclusion.

The second important task the new Air Force
leadership team will face is "figuring out how to get the modernization program back on track," he said.

Air Force tanker procurement is at least 10 years behind where it should be, Gates said. The new team will have to figure out "how to work with the Congress and get this thing done."

There also needs to be a decision by the next administration on the balance between the F-22 fighter and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and then "just getting on with it," Gates said. "End the debate, make a decision and move on. 'Start getting stuff built' is just so important. The tankers we are flying today are the tankers I rode in as a second lieutenant in 1967."

Gates discussed
Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald's report on the Air Force handling of the nuclear mission. "It seems to me that ... maybe the most important conclusion in Admiral Donald's report is that authority and responsibility for the nuclear program is split among multiple commands," he said. "There is no unity of command and no one person responsible for setting the standards for evaluation and for maintaining the professionalism, security and so on of the force."

The
military must fix the division of responsibility that has prevented any one person being responsible for making sure that standards are kept, he said. "Ultimately, one of the principal root cause of these problems is there is no one person in charge or who has responsibility. I think you can fix that without re-creating the Strategic Air Command." SAC stood down in 1992, and Air Combat Command assumed many of its responsibilities.

The secretary said the airmen at Langley asked him if they would get the money needed to fix the nuclear problems – the money for training, career development for test equipment and so on. "I told them that while the nuclear program had not been a high priority, the amount of money required to make the necessary fixes are relatively modest," and that he was sure he could get the money from within the
Air Force or Defense Department.

Langley is home of the 1st Fighter Wing, which has operational F-22s, and Gates said airmen asked him if the real reason for the change in Air Force
leadership was because of a disagreement over F-22 procurement. "I told them it was not true, and the issue had been settled for some weeks," he said. "I had made the decision that we would allocate enough money to keep the production line open so the next administration could decide on the balance between F-22s and Joint Strike Fighters. It's a significant procurement decision that ought not be made in the last six or seven months of an administration."

The secretary told reporters he chose Schwartz as the new Chief of Staff because he "brings fresh eyes to these issues. He's very smart, very process-oriented. The changes he has made in Transportation Command have been pretty dramatic.

"It was mobility, jointness, special operations and being very, very smart" that led him to the choice of Schwartz, Gates said.

U.S. Admiral Addresses Pakistan Navy War College

American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - At the invitation of Pakistan's
navy, the officer who commands U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces spoke to officers at the Pakistan Navy War College today. Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff discussed how the new U.S. maritime strategy -- "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" -- helps shape maritime policy in the Indian Ocean, as well as how coalition and 5th Fleet forces help build maritime security in the region, promoting global and regional stability and economic prosperity.

Cosgriff's visit to Pakistan highlights the importance of
military and diplomatic relations between the two nations.

"Fostering relationships with coalition partners such as Pakistan is important," he said. "Coalition maritime forces interact with virtually every country in the region, and to my thinking, the combination of persistent, credible naval power and the conduct of
security operations is precisely the sort of thing we ought to be doing."

The Pakistan
Navy War College conducts staff courses for mid-level Pakistani and coalition officers. The war college invites high-ranking military officers and other government leaders to address the students on national and international issues.

Pakistani and U.S. naval forces completed Exercise Inspired Union 2008 in the North Arabian Sea, May 11-21. The exercise focused on air, surface and anti-submarine training.

USS Curts also made two port visits to Karachi, Pakistan, during the exercise, the first visit by a U.S. ship since September 2006. The visit symbolized the continued friendship between the United States and Pakistan and exemplified the U.S. commitment to reinforcing this partnership, officials said.

Cosgriff said that the more coalition and partner nations collaborate to provide
security for the region, the more they collectively can achieve.

"The continued presence of coalition forces guarantees maritime
security of those who depend on free use of the seas," Cosgriff said. "From security arises stability, which enhances trade, promotes economic vitality, and increases regional and global prosperity."

Pakistan is an integral member of the coalition and has commanded Combined Task Force 150 twice. Pakistan
navy Commodore Khan Hashan Bin Saddique, the current commandant of the Pakistan Navy War College, commanded CTF 150 from November 2007 to February 2008.

CTF 150 is composed of warships from numerous coalition nations including France, Germany, Pakistan, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States, and is responsible for maritime
security operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.

Maritime
security operations help develop security in the maritime environment, which promotes stability and global prosperity, officials said. These operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

(From a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet news release.)

MILITARY CONTRACTS June 9, 2008

NAVY

Advanced
Technology Construction, Renton, Wash., Coleman Construction Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., Tompco-Triton Inc., Bremerton, Wash., and Cherokee General Corp., Fairview, Ore., are being awarded a firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract to provide new construction and renovation at various locations within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest area of responsibility. The total aggregate amount of all contracts is not to exceed $90,000,000, with a guaranteed minimum of $25,000 for each contract. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps installations at various locations within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest area of responsibility including but not limited to Washington (94 percent); Oregon (2 percent); Idaho (2 percent); Montana (1 percent); and Alabama (1 percent), and work is expected to be completed Jun. 2009 (Jun. 2012 for options). Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Naval Facilities Engineering Command e-solicitation website with six proposals received. These four contractors will compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, Silverdale, Wash., is the contracting activity (N44255-08-D-3015/3016/3017/3018).

RQ Construction, Inc., Bonsall, Calif., is being awarded a $54,545,000 firm-fixed-price design-build construction contract for
Marine Corps Special Operations Command Headquarters and support facilities, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Calif. The work to be performed includes one fiscal 2007 project -MARSOC Headquarters Building and four fiscal 2008 projects MARSOC supply warehouse, paraloft, academic facility, armory and motor-T, consisting of six new structures comprising approximately 223,000 square feet. Collectively these projects will construct the necessary administrative/headquarters, operational/ maintenance/mission support, and training facilities to support approximately 890 MARSOC marines to be stationed at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. This contract contains options which, if exercised, will bring the total contract amount to $57,478,000. Work will be performed in San Diego County, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as a two-phase design-build via the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Electronic solicitation website with 10 proposals received in Phase I and three offerors were selected to proceed to Phase II. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62473-08-C-3533).

Marvin Engineering Co., Inc.*, Inglewood, Calif., is being awarded a $22,006,666 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of up to 700 LAU-7F/A missile launchers for the
Navy and Marine Corps. The LAU-7F/A missile launcher is designed for aircraft authorized to employ the AIM-9 series missile. Work will be performed in Inglewood, Calif., and is expected to be completed in Nov. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under an electronic request for proposals as a 100 percent small business set-aside; two offers were received. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-08-D-0012).

Bell-Boeing Joint Program Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $17,692,671 ceiling-priced cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for hardware and software development and risk reduction efforts associated with the identification of a common avionics MV/CV-22 mission systems upgrade (MSU). The MSU will consist of hardware and software components of the advanced mission computer and displays,
tactical aircraft moving map capability, and terrain avoidance weapons system systems. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, Pa., (50.8 percent); Bloomington, Minn., (36.9 percent); and St. Louis, Mo., (12.3 percent), and is expected to be completed in Jun. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00091-08-C-0024).

Advanced Engineering and Sciences, Annapolis Junction, Md., is being awarded an $11,419,881 modification to previously awarded contract (N00174-07-D-0019) for an additional 415 AN/PLT-6448-V2 systems, 415 spare kits, and 61 boxes/chassis. Work will be performed in Annapolis Junction, Md., and work is expected to be completed by Jun. 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity.

Information Network Systems, Inc., Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $9,196,487 task order #0030 under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-A-9013) to provide analytical, acquisition, administrative and logistics support for the program manager, optics and non-lethal systems, Infantry Weapons Systems,
Marine Corps Systems Command. PM ONS develops, demonstrates, procures, fields, and provides life-cycle management support for electro-optical systems, optics tools and test equipment, and non-lethal and force protection (NL/FP) systems to support USMC warfighting forces. This includes all day and night scopes, laser pointers, laser illuminators, thermal weapons sights, night vision enhancement devices, and NL/FP systems. Work will be performed in Stafford, Va., and work is expected to be completed in Jun. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

MKI Systems Inc., Woodbridge, Va., is being awarded a $6,260,404 task order #0067 to previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-A-9008) to provide acquisition, logistics, administrative support and program management assistance for the APM live training systems, program manager for training systems (PM TRASYS) located at the Central Florida Research Park, Orlando, Fla. PM TRASYS continues to support
Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) and training education command requirements to identify material and non-material solutions as the training systems manager. This support includes work across the live training systems functional teams and project domains that integrate training systems acquisitions with training support services and systems sustainment for live training systems program management, military operations on urbanized terrain systems, range instrumentation systems, force-on-force/opposing force and field operations, and emerging live training systems. Work will be performed in Stafford, Va., and work is expected to be completed in Jun. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

Texstars of Grand Prairie, Texas, is being awarded a firm fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for $39,814,462. This acquisition is to procure F-16 transparencies for the next five years. At this time no funds have been obligated. AFRL/PKVC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-08-2-3834).

Boeing Co., of
Huntington Beach, Calif., is being awarded a firm fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for $7,521,000. The Speed Agile Concept Demonstration program seeks to achieve a technology readiness level of at least five 2010 on an integrated mobility configuration in the areas of high lift, efficient transonic flight, and flight control, in order to support future technology development and acquisition activities. At this time $800,000 has been obligated. Department of the Air Force, 84 CSW, 518CBSS/PK, Hill AFB, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8212-08-C-0006).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Co., of Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a firm-fixed price contract not to exceed $233.6 million. This action will provide for 24 F-16 Block 52 aircraft, along with associated support equipment, alternate mission equipment, and support elements for the government of Morocco. This effort will support foreign
military sales to the government of Morocco. At this time $124.3 million has been obligated. 312AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8615-08-C-6050).

ITT Corp., ITT Electronic Systems of Clifton, N.J., is being awarded a cost-plus fixed-fee contract for $15,911,530. This action will provide Airborne Electronic Attack Technology Maturation Demonstration. At this time $2,184,000 has been obligated. AFRL/PKSE, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-08-C-1396).

ARMY

Buck Town Contractor & Co., Kenner, La., was awarded on Jun. 6, 2008, an $8,013,621 firm-fixed price contract for work on the hurricane protection project, Westwego to Harvey Canal, V-Line Levee, East of Vertex, third enlargement. Work will be performed in
Jefferson Parish, La., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 28, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Eight bids were solicited on Apr. 8, 2008, and six bids were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-08-D-0041).

ISO Group, Inc., West Melbourne, Fla., was awarded on Jun. 5, 2008, a $7,648,513 firm-fixed price contract for the parts to perform maintenance on non-mission capable armored personnel carriers. Work will be performed in the Czech Republic and is expected to be completed by May 19, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on May 9, 2008, and eleven bids were received. Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan, Baghdad, Iraq, is the contracting activity (W91GY0-08-C-0033).

Indiana Guard Responds to Regional Flooding

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Jennings
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - As members of the Air National Guard's 181st Intelligence Wing and the
Army National Guard's 519th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion made their way toward Hulman Field here, they had an idea what their mission was going to be during June's drill weekend. More than six inches of rain dumped into the Wabash Valley on the evening of June 6 and well into the morning of June 7, stranding motorists and pouring storm water into local residents' homes.

When the call for assistance came in, the Guard was ready to begin sandbag operations.

"There were several soldiers and airmen who made it in only to find out their homes were being flooded," said
Air Force Maj. Jim Jensen, public affairs officer for 181st Intelligence Wing. "This is a disaster that is affecting us all, but we have a mission to support. Some stayed here to continue filling sand bags for others while their own homes were flooding. That says a lot about Indiana Guardsmen and how much they care about the community."

As of yesterday, more than 900 soldiers and airmen from across the state had been activated to fight the floods in southern
Indiana.

When the governor of
Indiana declared a state of emergency, drill weekend became a constant effort to lend a hand to a community in need. Sand bag operations began on base as local television crews were reporting the extent of the damage. Reports of families' and friends' homes being flooded trickled in throughout the morning.

Less than a mile from the base entrance, State Road 42 had collapsed under the weight of rushing flood waters. Airmen and soldiers on base could not see the devastation, but reports from other sources became enough to motivate them throughout the night.

"We filled more than 12,000 sand bags in 24 hours," said
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Anne Rice, who was leading the bagging efforts on base. "Even though many have been here throughout the night, our attitudes have been very positive. It's good to see the camaraderie within. We've got them ready to go wherever they are needed."

The two units, along with 138th Quartermaster Company of Brazil, Ind., offered support in the late evening of June 7, as they placed sand bags in low-lying areas surrounding
Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

Thompson ditch in
Terre Haute was overflowing in front of the hospital as the flood waters rushed into Rea Park and surrounding areas. Across the street, more than 50 Air and Army Guard personnel focused their attention on the main utility facilities supporting the hospital.

"We provided sand bags around their operational and back-up facilities," said
Army Lt. Col. Kevin Vedder, commander of 519th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. "This was a successful joint operation, and everyone has been positive and motivated."

The
Indiana Guard has sand bag machines prepositioned in Vincennes, Linton, Elnora and Terre Haute. About 200 soldiers from 38th Infantry Division have been moved to Elnora to assist with sandbagging operations.

Soldiers and airmen of the
Indiana National Guard also opened armories in Martinsville, Greencastle, Brazil, Terre Haute, Bloomington and Danville to support local responders in their operations over the weekend.

"This is a situation where a community is in need of our support," Jensen said. "We are the Guard. Air and
Army, it is our duty to support the needs of state agencies and provide our assets to the relief effort in any way we can."

Indiana National Guardsmen are providing drinking water in Hope, Saint Bernice, Paragon, Nineveh, Hymara and Columbus, Ind., and search-and-rescue and security operations in Bartholomew County. Guardsmen worked with local and state agencies to assist in the evacuation of more than 100 patients from the Columbus Regional Hospital.

Yesterday, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Indiana
Army National Guard assisted the American Red Cross with the delivery of food to Worthington, Ind., a city that has been cut off by flood waters.

"We will continue to work to support our citizens in their time of need," said
Army Brig. Gen. Margaret Washburn, of the Indiana National Guard. "Our soldiers and airmen will work tirelessly to support our local responders and communities throughout the flooding in southern Indiana."

(
Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Jennings serves in the 181st Intelligence Wing Public Affairs Office.)

Gates Says Nuclear Mission Shortcomings Only Reason for AF Dismissals

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - If it were not for the serious decline in the
Air Force's nuclear mission focus and performance, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today, he would not have felt the need to replace the Air Force leadership. Gates asked for and received the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley June 6 in the wake of an investigation that found problems with the focus, performance and effective leadership of the service's nuclear weapons program.

Speaking to airmen and
Air Force civilians of Air Combat Command, Gates called the nuclear mission the Air Force's most sensitive one.

"The mere existence of weapons with such destructive power alters the international landscape – and rightfully brings much scrutiny to bear on how they are handled," Gates said.

Today, he recommended that Michael B. Donley be nominated to replace Wynne and that Gen. Norton A. Schwartz replace Moseley. White House officials announced today President Bush's intention to nominate Donley and to designate him as acting
Air Force secretary.

Two instances highlighted the nuclear failures. In one, a B-52 crew unknowingly carried six nuclear weapons from Minot
Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La. In another incident, nose cones for Minuteman missiles mistakenly were delivered to Taiwan in place of helicopter batteries. More than a year elapsed before the error became known.

In light of these failures, Gates asked
Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald to evaluate the system. He found three systemic problems.

"The
Air Force does not have a clear, dedicated authority responsible for the nuclear enterprise who sets and maintains rigorous standards of operations," Gates said.

Second, he said, the failures that led to the nose-cone misshipment could have been prevented had existing controls been followed.

Finally, "the
investigation confirmed a decline in Air Force nuclear expertise similar to findings in other, earlier reports," Gates said. In addition, the nuclear mission has not received adequate funding for years, he said.

Gates said the decisive action was needed because Air Force
leadership allowed the service's focus to drift away from the nuclear mission. They also allowed performance standards to decline, and they did not identify these problems for correction, the secretary said.

"The Air Force's
investigation into what went wrong did not get to the root causes, requiring my personal intervention," he said.

Gates has stressed accountability with all services. He encouraged all servicemembers to assess their jobs, take accountability for what they can and ensure that changes outside their purview receive the appropriate attention.

"The important thing is to have an open and respectful airing of views in good faith," Gates said. "When decisions are made, everyone – both civilian and
military – must do his or her part to see them through to success," he said.

Soldier Missing In Action From Korean War Is Identified

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

He is Sgt. 1st Class W.T. Akins, U.S.
Army, of Decatur, Ga. He will be buried on June 26 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

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

In November 1950, Akins was a member of the Medical Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division then occupying a defensive position near Unsan, North Korea north of a bend in the Kuryong River known as the Camel's Head. On Nov. 1, elements of two Chinese Communist Divisions struck the 1st Cavalry Division's lines, collapsing the perimeter and forcing a withdrawal. Akins was reported missing on Nov. 2, 1950 and was one of the more than 350 servicemen unaccounted-for from the battle at Unsan.

In April 2007, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.), acting through the intermediary of
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, repatriated to the United States six boxes of human remains believed to be those of U.S. soldiers. The D.P.R.K. reported that the remains were excavated in November 2006 near Unsan in North Pyongan Province.

Among other
forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of Akins' remains.

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

Air Guard, Harley-Davidson Join to Improve Processes

By Air Force Senior Airman Nathan Wallin
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - For a week in early May, Harley-Davidson and Air National Guard personnel pooled their knowledge on process improvement for the benefit of both organizations. About 20 ANG members from
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, Illinois, Maine, Montana and Ohio gathered with Harley-Davidson personnel here May 5-9 to glean knowledge of process improvement.

The joint venture originated with a program called
Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, AFSO 21 for short. The venture formed in 2006 to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary processes throughout the Air Force.

In November 2007, Col. Billy Asbell, director of the program for the Air National Guard, came to
Milwaukee's 128th Air Refueling Wing to help with process improvements. Asbell and his team found many ways to eliminate wasted time from the aircraft inspection process, resulting in a 60 percent reduction in time spent. The team also shaved significant time off the process of painting the refueling booms on KC-135 tanker aircraft.

When Asbell and his AFSO 21 team sought diversion after the duty day, Lt. Col. Craig Plain, of the 128th, suggested a tour of the nearby Harley-Davidson motorcycle factory.

Plain is the director of flexible and emerging learning opportunities at
Madison Area Technical College, an academic post with some relevance to process improvement. Since Harley-Davidson has a process improvement program of its own under the rubric of "Operational Excellence," the tour givers and the tour takers started comparing notes.

With ideas flying, the original purpose of the visit was soon forgotten.

"We never got to the tour," Asbell said. "It went real quickly from a tour to a meeting. We talked for about three hours."

The exchange of ideas led directly to this spring's joint
military-civilian training event at Harley-Davidson University here. Besides Asbell and Plain, the instructional cadre included Linda Berry, an AFSO 21 instructor on Asbell's team.

In teaming up with the
Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer, the AFSO 21 team hoped to learn how managers in a leading civilian company improve work load, work flow and productivity of their business operations, and then to apply the best of those ideas to the Air National Guard.

Asbell estimated that about 10 percent of ANG members work with process improvement in their civilian jobs. "I want to find those people [and put them to work]," he said.

From Harley-Davidson's point of view, the benefits of sharing knowledge with the Air National Guard were well worth the effort.

"While what we do might be very different," Nelson said, "how we do it sometimes isn't as different as we might think. And why we need to do it is often very similar."

For the Harley-Davidson personnel, it was an opportunity to learn about the new
Air Force system.

The AFSO 21 method examines the processes of any office or shop and breaks them down to a long list of individual steps using "value stream mapping," a procedure Asbell refers to as "mapping it out."

The individual steps are evaluated to figure out which ones are necessary to the job and which ones are not. The steps deemed unnecessary are promptly cut from the list. The product is a streamlined process that leads to better productivity.

And it doesn't matter if your collar is blue or white -- or even camouflage. Part of
Air Force Smart Operations 21's appeal is its "one size fits all" approach. Whatever the job, an AFSO 21 specialist can help workers examine and analyze their operating procedures, uncover the wasteful and redundant parts of the job, and then create a new, more effective and time-saving way to get it done.

The
Milwaukee training included military officers from specialties as diverse as finance and aircraft maintenance. "AFSO can work anywhere there's a process," Asbell said.

With AFSO 21, workers have direct input into improving the way things are done in their workplaces. By engaging their workers, managers see a greater enthusiasm for the project; and by going straight to their employees and asking for their suggestions, managers get a more precise and fuller picture of exactly how the job gets done in their shop.

"It's not a push, it's a pull," said Asbell. "This is an opportunity for everyone to change their environment and fix a broken process."

(
Air Force Senior Airman Nathan Wallin serves with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing.)

Physical Evaluation Board Works to Deliver Fair Outcomes

By Elaine Wilson
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - Col. Troy Lovett considers himself a myth buster of sorts. As president of the Physical Evaluation Board here, Lovett spends a considerable amount of time setting the record straight about the PEB process, which determines whether soldiers are fit or unfit for duty.

"Soldiers may hear something from a buddy or a blog and accept it as fact," he said. "There are a lot of myths out there about the system."

Since Physical Evaluation Boards deal with money and careers, the rumor mill may be inevitable, Lovett said, but he hopes one truth remains evident. "The reality is that we are all focused on making sure soldiers are treated fairly and receive their full due process," he said.

At Fort Sam Houston, a 16-person staff, skilled in medical and
military matters, is dedicated to carrying out the PEB mission, which echoes Lovett's mandate: "provide a full and fair hearing to determine a soldier's physical fitness for continued military service."

The process starts with stacks of paperwork about the soldier's medical condition and duty performance, which represent years of service and considerable work by the soldier, his or her chain of command, and the medical staff providing treatment.

Prior to the PEB, soldiers must work with their PEB liaison officer to gather extensive documentation regarding their case, to include the results from a Medical Evaluation Board. The MEB, normally conducted at a
military treatment facility, uses tests, exams and medical records to make a recommendation to the PEB about whether or not the soldier meets medical retention standards.

In turn, PEB members must weed through a massive amount of information, including MEB results, medical files, evaluations, counseling forms, commander's statement, and results from physical fitness tests. Their goal is to reach a decision about whether or not a soldier can continue service.

A soldier may be considered fit or unfit based on several criteria, the most critical being performance and how the soldier's medical condition affects his or her performance, Lovett explained.

"For performance, we look at whether or not a soldier can meet
Army standards in their primary military occupational specialty," he said. "As for medical condition, we have to decide if the condition precludes a soldier from reasonably performing the duties of his or her office, grade, rank or rating in his or her unit, at the present time."

Deployability is a factor considered in the equation, but it is not used as a sole basis for an unfit determination, Lovett said.

After review, a three-person board consisting of a president, a medical member and a personnel
management officer, votes on each case, and the majority decision rules.

"We are making a determination if the soldier can continue to do his or her job," Lovett said. "If a soldier is considered unfit, we make a recommendation whether to separate or retire the soldier."

If a soldier is considered unfit, the PEB will recommend one of the following options: separate with severance pay, separate without benefits, place on the temporary disability retirement list, or grant permanent disability retirement. Soldiers placed on temporary disability retirement receive health benefits and some of their base pay, but are subject to periodic examinations to determine the long-term outcome. A soldier placed on permanent disability retirement is medically retired, which can follow 20 years of service or a 30 percent or higher disability rating, provided the rated condition is considered stable.

So far, in fiscal 2008, only 3 percent of soldiers considered by the Physical Evaluation Board here have been separated without benefits, 47 percent have been separated with severance pay, and 14 percent have been permanently retired, Lovett said.

The board also decides if a disability rating will be assigned as compensation for the loss of a
military career. If a rating is given for an unfit condition, it is determined by criteria established by the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs schedule for rating disabilities, and it will range from 0 to 100 percent in increments of 10.

Disability ratings are one topic that stirs up the rumor mill, because the
Army and VA often differ in their ratings, though they use the same rating schedule, Lovett said.

The reason, Lovett explained, is tied to the injury or health condition and whether it qualifies for an "unfit" rating.

"If someone breaks a leg in service but can continue to do their job," Lovett explained, "the VA may give a rating since it was a service-connected injury. But the
Army may not, because we only rate conditions that prematurely end a soldier's career."

Lovett emphasized that each case is unique and is determined based on the specific factors and situation unique to each individual soldier.

Up to this point, the process is conducted informally, by paper only. However, once informed of the initial decision and rating, soldiers can request a formal board to plead their cases in front of the decision makers. The soldiers are afforded access to legal counsel to accompany them to the formal board. They are assisted by their PEB liaison officer or case manager throughout the process.

"We allow the soldiers to provide material evidence, documentation and statements from chain of command to substantiate their case," Lovett said.

Soldiers can appeal their formal board decision, as well, by non-concurring with the decision.

"Soldiers have multiple opportunities to voice their concerns with those who can do something about it," he said. "We work hard at doing the right thing."

The PEB then sends its recommendation to the Physical Disability Agency, which has the authority to approve recommendations, return the soldier's case to the PEB for reconsideration, or issue revised findings. The PDA also serves as the appellate authority when soldiers disagree with their PEB recommendations.

From start to finish, the PEB here is required to complete its process, including appeals, within 30 days from receipt and logging of the case. On average, the Texas PEB completes its work in about 20 days, Lovett said.

Lovett said he hopes to cut the time back even further to provide better service to soldiers and their families. But with 25 to 30 cases submitted a day, he and his staff have their work cut out for them.

Cases are submitted from throughout the Fort Sam Houston PEB's area of responsibility, which encompasses nine states stretching from the western border of
Texas to the southernmost tip of Florida.

Out of the three
Army PEBs worldwide, the Fort Sam Houston office handles about 40 percent of total cases submitted, averaging between 5,000 and 6,000 cases a year. For fiscal 2008, it's on pace to receive about 5,700 cases.

Despite the heavy workload, Lovett said, each is given equal attention.

"We understand what a soldier and their family are going through. A PEB is a significant and potentially life-altering event," he said.

The staff bends over backward for soldiers and their families, Lovett said. "We track down information for them and do whatever it takes to put the soldier up front," he said. "The bottom line is that we're here to help soldiers move on, whether it's on to civilian lives or back to the fighting force."

(Elaine Wilson works in the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office.)