Military News

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Joint Chiefs Chairman Praises Coast Guard's Flexibility

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

June 11, 2008 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last night that
military and federal agencies should become more like the Coast Guard by stepping up levels of flexibility, mutual engagement and cooperation. Speaking to the Coast Guard Foundation here, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen described his vision for the future of the U.S. armed forces.

"I'm fond of saying that the
military should become more 'Special Forces-like' today -- more agile, lethal and networked," the nation's top military officer said. "But I also think we should become more 'Coast Guard-like' -- more flexible, more engaged with each other, more cooperative."

On an average day in the United States, the
Coast Guard saves 14 lives and assists 98 people in distress. It also boards and inspects 193 vessels and seizes about 1,000 pounds of illegal drugs, Mullen said.

"But their service entails so much more than that," the chairman said. "The
Coast Guard has seen action in every one of our nation's major conflicts, and that tradition continues."

Deployed Coast Guardsmen today are supporting U.S. operations abroad by building partnerships to help combat piracy, enhance port
security and preserve the lawful use of common maritime areas.

"Our
Coast Guard is truly a national treasure with a vast, global presence," Mullen said.

The chairman reflected on past times, when national
security generally began and ended at U.S. borders or on American shores.

"Nobody spoke of the threats from transnational networks, environmental attack, human trafficking, and failed states; threats were relatively well-defined," he said. "Those days are long gone."

The "cold truth," Mullen said, is that many nations share such threats, which flow almost seamlessly from the sea and across national borders. Amid this
security landscape, it's critical to focus on aligning all elements of national power toward achieving common goals, he said.

In Iraq, for instance, Coast Guardsmen are helping to ensure the future of Iraq's growing economy by working alongside Iraqi and coalition naval forces to secure the country's two largest oil terminals. These ports in Basra and Khawr al Amaya supply 85 percent of Iraq's income.

"As one young petty officer deployed to Iraq put it, 'The most important part of our mission is that we are training them to do our job,' the chairman said. "That's a terrific statement of the degree to which the
Coast Guard truly understands the need for partnerships, the need for change and for active engagement.

"No one does it better, in my view," he added.

In addition, the Coast Guard, Navy and
Marine Corps for the first time in history have dedicated themselves to a joint maritime strategy, Mullen said. This blueprint is aimed at integrating strengths and building relationships among maritime services.

The admiral said other federal agencies also could learn from the
Coast Guard's collaborative model.

"We need to capture the lessons we've learned through the strategy development process and use them as aids to navigating even broader interagency reform," Mullen said. "Just as we have done with the new maritime strategy, the entire federal government must likewise orient its efforts on opportunities, not threats; on optimism, not fear; and on confidence, not doubt."

Pentagon is Open to Revamped GI Bill, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

June 11, 2008 - The Pentagon is open to supporting a revamped GI Bill for servicemembers if it would enable the transfer of unused benefits to family members and wouldn't cause an exodus of troops from the
military, a senior Defense Department official said here today. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has had discussions with legislative leaders on Capitol Hill about a proposed new GI Bill that would boost benefits for servicemembers, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.

"We believe that any additional benefit [should] include the ability for servicemembers to transfer any unused portion of that benefit to family members," Morrell said.

Gates knows from myriad conversations with troops and spouses that enabling the transfer of unused GI Bill benefits is a top concern, Morrell noted.

"That is the biggest thing they are interested in," Morrell observed.

Accordingly, Gates is committed to communicate to Congress that any changes to the current GI Bill should include the transferability of benefits, Morrell said.

The Defense Department wants its servicemembers to get the best education benefits possible, Morrell emphasized. However, proposals that provide increased GI Bill benefits to troops with only a few years of service might cause them to exit the
military in droves after completing their initial term of duty, Morrell pointed out.

"Whatever we do, we don't want to incentivize people to prematurely leave the
military," Morrell said. "No one in this building is against an enhanced benefit for our troops."

In fact, Secretary Gates, a former
Air Force officer, obtained his doctorate degree through the GI Bill, Morrell pointed out.

However, the Defense Department doesn't want to create a situation whereby troops with three years of
military service "walk out the door because this benefit is so enticing," Morrell said.

For this reason, the Defense Department is an advocate "of upping the benefit the longer that you stay" in the
military, Morrell said.

America Supports You: Patriotic Hearts Care for Military, Families

American Forces Press Service

June 11, 2008 - Servicemembers, veterans and their families going through problems related to deployments can get help from a
California-based troop-support organization. Members of the group, called Patriotic Hearts, have developed a plan to help families navigate the sometimes-unexpected issues they may face when a loved one returns from the front lines.

The plan involves working with spouses of deployed servicemembers to map out welcome-home parties, helping veterans find jobs, and hosting
military marriage-enrichment weekends.

"This three-point plan also addresses the needs of the
military children, who endure tremendous stresses," Mark Baird, president of Patriotic Hearts, said.

Welcome home parties, the first part of the plan, play an important and vital role in helping
military families start over again when a spouse returns from deployment, he said. Held in a large picnic area on or near military facilities, the parties provide a day of fun, music, food and laughter.

These events, while being especially beneficial for the children, help the whole family close the book on a stressful chapter in their lives, Baird said.

"It is our conviction that welcome-home parties are cathartic, and that they play an important first step in increasing psychological, emotional and marital well-being among our troops and their families," he said. "The celebration completes the cycle."

HirePatriots.com -- a free, online job posting and search board for troops, spouses and veterans -- works to help with the second phase of Patriotic Hearts' plan. It was created in response to an injured
Marine's need for work after returning from deployment to find his family's car had been repossessed.

In San Diego, where the program originated, more than 2,000 members of the military community find employment each month.

Keeping families together and lessening the effects of
post-traumatic stress disorder are ancillary effects that HirePatriots.com creates, Baird said.

Financial stress is a big factor in many divorces, he noted.

"When added to the extraordinary stresses of the
military and multiple combat deployments, the lack of enough money can be lethal [for marriages]," he said, adding that finding employment also can remove a stress factor that can contribute to PTSD.

The third way Patriotic Hearts has to help military families is its
military marriage-enrichment weekends. The program provides all-expenses-paid, off-installation marriage retreats for current troops and recent veterans.

"The first to be invited are the wounded warriors from base hospitals," Baird said. "But all troops and [recent] veterans are welcome to attend."

This is the least servicemembers returning from deployment and their families deserve, he added.

Patriotic Hearts is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Afghan Attorney General Speaks at Camp Eggers

By Navy Chief Petty Officer Susan Hammond
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - Afghanistan's Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabit was guest of honor June 5 at the Camp Eggers celebration of Law Day 2008. Combined
Security Transition Command Afghanistan's staff judge advocate directorate hosted the event.

Sabit addressed 30 U.S. and Canadian legal representatives about rule of law in his country. The event marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. observance of Law Day.

This year's theme, "The Rule of Law -- Foundation for Communities of Opportunity and Equity," mirrors the U.S. and coalition mission of assisting the Afghan government, said Army Col. Robert Teetsel, Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan staff judge advocate. "We could think of no better speaker than Dr. Sabit to talk to us about rule of law development in Afghanistan," he said.

Sabit acknowledged that Afghanistan has far to go in establishing rule of law nationwide.

"There are infamous warlords who are governors of provinces," he said. "This is the state of rule of law in this country."

Sabit discussed factors inhibiting rule of law in Afghanistan, including the war against insurgents; illegal drugs; corruption among
police, prosecutors and lawmakers; and laws that prevent him from prosecuting corrupt members of Afghanistan's parliament.

The attorney general's personal accounts of his struggles brought to the forefront the immediate need to eliminate corruption, said
Army Chief Warrant Officer William Teeple, legal administrator for Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.

"I am hopeful and recognize that success cannot just be measured by weighing in daily on our advances and setbacks," Teeple said. "By remaining focused and understanding the principles inherent in the rule of law, we can create a solid foundation of reform and renewed faith in this country."

Sabit said one of his successes since becoming attorney general has been the establishment of a program to appoint qualified prosecutors in the provinces and districts. Because of a shortage of lawyers, the government appointed many prosecutors who were not attorneys, but rather were laymen chosen because of their experience or past positions.

Last year, 150 new lawyers were recruited, and 233 were recruited this year. Sabit said these lawyers will replace layman prosecutors.

After graduating from Kabul University's Faculty of Law, Sabit obtained master's degrees in law and economics in the United States. After serving as legal advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Interior beginning in 2003, Sabit was appointed attorney general by President Hamid Karzai in August 2006.

(
Navy Chief Petty Officer Susan Hammond serves with the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.)

New Media Directorate Earns Prestigious Public Relations Honors

By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - The Public Relations Society of America honored the Defense Department's New Media directorate with four "Silver Anvil" awards at a gala in
New York City on June 5. The DoD New Media team took the top honor in the internal communications category for associations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, winning the Silver Anvil for the "Check It" internal management controls campaign. The team also received second-place trophies in the community relations, issues management and integrated communications categories.

"I'm excited to see the Department of Defense communications team recognized by their peers from the civilian public-relations community," said Robert T. Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. "It validates that people working for the government are on the cutting edge."

DoD New Media launched the winning "Check It" campaign with the department's internal management controls program in 2007 to remind the defense community of the importance of double-checking their work to make sure it's done right.

"We wanted to get a broad message out about good stewardship, so we turned to this incredible communications team to help us with the broader campaign to get the message out," Pentagon Comptroller Tina Jonas said.

After the campaign, which touted the tagline "Check It: What Gets Checked, Gets Done," the department's material weaknesses were reduced from 116 to only 18, Jonas said. Officials define a material weakness as a deficiency in internal controls.

"The campaign helped the work force think of the job in a positive way, instead of getting negative messages," Jonas said. "I'm so proud of not only the work done to receive the awards, but for the well-being and effectiveness of our overall program."

Air Force Lt. Col. Francisco Hamm, the "Check It" communications manager from DoD New Media, cited effective collaboration with Peggy Johnson, management internal controls program manager, and participation by other internal controls managers in the campaign as the reason for its success.

"We had a great working partnership with the DoD comptroller's office, and one of the key components to the success of the program was having 2,000 active internal control managers worldwide engaged in the campaign," Hamm said.

The Public Relations Society of America's Silver Anvil Awards are widely recognized as the nation's premier awards for public relations practices. This year's winners were selected out of a record 875 entries from the private sector, government and nonprofit organizations.

Jeffrey Julin, the 2008 chair and chief executive officer of PRSA, said the "Check It" campaign stood out among the competition because of its effect on DoD as an organization. "I'm so impressed at the demonstration of the impressive campaign to drive organizational change," Julin said.

DoD New Media Director Roxie Merritt said she is pleased at the New Media directorate's showing at the 2008 Silver Anvil Awards, especially since the directorate has only existed since October 2006.

"To be acknowledged by our peers in the public relations industry for our efforts to communicate to our globally dispersed audiences in the ever-changing media landscape is a big honor," Merritt said.

Joice Truban Curry, the PRSA 2008 Silver Anvil chair, shared Merritt's sentiment. "There are so many campaigns in the private sector [that DoD New Media] was competing against, that to win four awards at the Silver Anvils is second to none."

(Kristen Noel works for the New Media branch of the Defense Media Agency.)

Commissaries Pull Some Tomatoes From Shelves

American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - Defense Commissary Agency officials have pulled some kinds of tomatoes off the shelves of
military commissary stores -- except those in Europe -- after the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that a recent salmonella outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw red tomatoes. Commissaries outside Europe have stopped selling raw red plum, Roma, or round red tomatoes unless they originate from an "approved area," according to a notice posted on the agency's Web site. Approved areas are those not implicated in the recent Salmonella "serotype Saintpaul" outbreak, the notice said.

No sales restrictions have been placed on cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or tomatoes sold with the vine still attached. According to the FDA, those types are not likely to be the source of the outbreak.

Gates Hammers Home Importance of Air Force Nuke Mission

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates gave a very quick synopsis of the
goals of his tenure in office here today. "We are damn sure ... going to spend and do everything necessary to win the wars we are in, to care properly for our wounded, and to restore excellence in our nuclear stewardship," Gates told airmen assembled at the all-ranks club here.

Gates traveled to Langley
Air Force Base, Va.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; and here over the last two days. He said he wanted "to look airmen in the eye" to explain his reasons for asking for and receiving the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley on June 6.

"Our policy is clear: We will ensure the complete physical control of nuclear weapons, and we will properly handle their associated components at all times," Gates said. "It is a tremendous responsibility -- one we must not and will never take lightly."

Gates told the airmen that the only reason he asked for the resignations was because of the degradation and systemic weaknesses in the
Air Force's nuclear weapons program.

"To be sure, the investigation did not find anything that would affect the health and safety of the public or our men and women in uniform, or call into question the safety,
security and reliability of our nuclear arsenal, or place at risk the integrity of the nation's nuclear-deterrent forces," he said. "In that light, you might ask, 'What's the fuss?'"

The report -- prepared by
Navy Adm. Kirkland Donald, director of Navy Nuclear Propulsion -- documented a serious decline over at least a decade in the Air Force's nuclear mission focus and performance, resulting in a degradation of the authority, standards of excellence, and technical competency of the Air Force's nuclear mission.

Gates also is counting on a commission headed by former defense secretary and energy secretary James R. Schlesinger to look at all aspects of the nuclear-deterrent force. Schlesinger will look at the role of the Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Strategic Command and all other agencies touching on the nuclear mission.

All servicemembers must embrace accountability, Gates said.

"When you see failures or growing problems in other areas -- outside your lane -- throw a flag," the secretary said. "Rededicate yourselves to the standards of excellence that have been the hallmark of the
United States Air Force for more than 60 years."

MILITARY CONTRACTS June 10, 2008

ARMY

Caterpillar, Inc., Peoria, Ill., was awarded on Jun. 6, 2008, a $397,100,467 firm-fixed price contract for light T-5 dozers and medium T-9 dozers with type A armor kits and type C armor kits with a five-year requirements contract with one five-year option. Work will be performed in East Peoria, Ill., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 9, 2018. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four bids will be solicited on Nov. 29, 2007, and seven bids were received. U.S.
Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-D-0169).

CAS, Inc.,
Huntsville, Ala., was awarded on Jun. 6, 2008, a $9,044,536 cost-plus fixed fee contract for mission and sustainment support for the rapid aerostat initial deployment product office. Work will be performed in Huntsville, Ala., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 2, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on May 5, 2005. U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Contracting and Acquisition Management Office, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity (W9113M-05-C-0134).

General Dynamics Ordnance and
Tactical Systems, Scranton, Pa., was awarded on Jun. 6, 2008, a $23,851,622 firm-fixed price contract for the manufacture of 155 mm, M795 metal parts with flexible rotating band covers. Work will be performed in Scranton, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 30, 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Feb. 27, 2008, and one bid was received. Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15QKN-08-C-0244).

NAVY

General Dynamics, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co.,
San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $100,000,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2300) to exercise an option for long lead time material for T-AKE 12. T-AKE is a new Combat Logistics Force Underway Replenishment Naval vessel. As an auxiliary support ship, the primary mission role, the T-AKE will provide logistic lift from sources of supply such as friendly ports, or at sea from specially equipped merchant ships by consolidation, and will transfer cargo (ammunition, food, limited quantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items, and expendable supplies and material) at sea to station ships and other naval warfare forces. In its Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) role T-AKE will contribute to the accomplishment of the seabasing mission area. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Jan., 2013. Contract funds will not expireat the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

International
Military and Government LLC, Warrenville, Ill., is being awarded a $28,000,000 firm-fixed-priced modification to delivery order #0005 under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5032) for the accelerated production of 1,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Low Rate Initial Production vehicles. Work will be performed in WestPoint, Miss., and work is expected to be completed by the end of Apr., 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Gates Discusses Surveillance, Transition Programs

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he is pleased with the early results from a panel looking into intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. Speaking to reporters on his way back to Washington after visiting several
Air Force bases, the secretary also discussed the upcoming transition to a new administration and ongoing studies to ensure the transition is smooth.

The secretary said that airmen asked him how much intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets -- known as ISR -- the
military needs. "I said I had no answer for that. It's a matter for the commanders in the field and the providers of those capabilities to work together," he said. "I did say that the extraordinary fusion of intelligence and operations has ended up creating an insatiable appetite for information provided by these systems."

Commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have found these assets -- which include unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites, communications -- are tremendous combat multipliers. The assets allow for 24-hour surveillance., and demand for these assets has skyrocketed along with the sophistication of operations they can perform, Gates said.

Planners need to think out of the box on this capability, Gates said. "For example, we have X number of platforms that we keep here in the United States for training purposes," he said, wondering aloud if there is a way the
military can reconfigure the way training is conducted so that one or two of those platforms can be sent to the theater.

The ISR panel reported to Gates last week. "They have identified some of the areas where there are shortfalls – for example in ground stations and linguists," the secretary said.

Addressing those shortfalls will help make these platforms more useful.

"I think they made some headway in finding capabilities here in the U.S. and elsewhere that we will soon be sending forward to the theater," Gates said.

The panel also is working with commanders to see if they could get more out of platforms they already have. "For example, let's say they fly a platform for 20 hours a day," Gates asked. "What are the roadblocks to flying it 22 hours and getting yourself 10 percent more capability? How do you squeeze more out of what you already have?"
Gates also discussed the upcoming administration change in January. This is the first administration change during a time of war in 40 years. He said he wants the transition to be smoothly and the department to be responsive. "I've asked the Defense Policy Board to look at this for me and see what we can prepare in order to assure a smooth transition," he said.

Gates said he asked the Defense Policy Board to look at issues the new secretary of defense will have to "know about and deal with on Day 1." While the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan will obviously top the list, there are other areas of concern, Gates said. These include Iran, North Korea, the fiscal 2010 budget, ISR capabilities, and the
Air Force nuclear issue.

"Then what are some of the longer-range issues that might not be a crisis on Day 1, but he or she is going to have to start addressing pretty quickly?" the secretary said, adding that the board will present its recommendations later this month.

In addition, Gates said he wants to work with Congress to accelerate the process to confirm appointees so the Defense Department has fewer empty slots for senior leaders when it's managing two wars.

"I've asked a lot of the folks at the Pentagon to be prepared to stay on -- should they be asked -- until a successor is confirmed," Gates said.

That way the next administration can "have some continuity while the confirmation process moves forward, so a new secretary doesn't arrive and find that, on the civilian side of the government, he's all alone."

Indiana National Guard Postures for Additional Flood Support

American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - The
Indiana National Guard is preparing to continue a long flood fight across the southern part of the state. Flooding resulted when 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.

Guardsmen and equipment are moving to counties in southwestern
Indiana, and officials are working with the county emergency management director to ensure they know the most efficient means of requesting Indiana National Guard support.

More than 900 soldiers and airmen from across the state have been activated, and more than 90 vehicles are being used.

Sand bag machines are prepositioned in Vincennes, Linton, and
Terre Haute, and the Indiana Guard is moving two sand bag machines to Elnora. Guardsmen also are moving sand bags from Terre Haute to Elnora.

Officials said the Guard will work with the Indiana Department of
Homeland Security to coordinate missions in support of the local responders in affected areas. Some 200 soldiers from 38th Infantry Division are in Elnora to assist with sand bagging operations.

The Guard has moved water trailers to Hope, Saint Bernice, Paragon, Nineveh, Hymara and Columbus.

Joint Task Force 81 is preparing to deploy from its headquarters here to southwestern
Indiana. The unit will provide command and control to units deployed for the flood emergency. A command assessment team from the joint task force will help southern communities prepare for the water that is flowing toward them.

Guard officials said they're working with the Vigo County Emergency Management Office to determine the needs in that area, where 25 soldiers are helping local
law enforcement agencies with presence patrols.

Officials also are working with Green County
leaders to assess the city of Worthington, which has been cut off by flood waters. An Indiana National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter delivered food to Worthington on June 8.

(From an Indiana National Guard news release.)

Services Meet or Exceed May Recruiting Goals

American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - All the services met or exceeded their May active-duty recruiting goals and have exceeded their target recruiting numbers for this point in the fiscal year, Defense Department officials announced today. Among the reserve components, only the
Army National Guard fell short of its May goal. But officials noted that the Army National Guard has recruited 109 percent of its fiscal 2008 target to this point and explained that the May shortfall reflects an Army decision to have National Guard manning at its authorized level.

In active-duty recruiting, the Army signed up 5,568 new soldiers in May, 101 percent of its 5,500-soldier goal. The
Navy and Air Force met their May goals exactly, with 2,983 new sailors and 1,888 new airmen. The Marine Corps attracted 2,656 recruits in May, 122 percent of its 2,172-recruit goal.

Aside from the
Army National Guard's 94-percent May recruiting result -- 5,311 recruits toward a goal of 5,635 -- all the reserve components met or exceeded their recruiting goals. The Air National Guard attained 131 percent of its May goal, recruiting 892 airmen against a goal of 680. The Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Air Force Reserve met their goals exactly, with 817, 923 and 638 recruits, respectively. The Army Reserve attained 107 percent of its May recruiting goal of 2,697, attracting 2,893 new soldiers.

Trip Was Gesture of Respect to Airmen, Gates Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' trip to Langley
Air Force Base, Va., Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and Scott Air Force Base, Ill., was a gesture of respect and confidence in airmen following a rough week for the Air Force. On June 5, Gates asked for and received the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. The actions were necessary, Gates said, because of systemic problems and weaknesses in the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Gates said he made his trip based on a fundamental
leadership principle he follows.

"When you make a tough or controversial decision, ... it is critically important and a gesture of respect that you go out and explain what lay behind that decision to the people most affected by it," he said.

Part of the trip was to explain the situation, part of it was a gesture of respect for airmen, and part was to give airmen the opportunity to ask him questions. Gates spoke about the trip and much else during an interview aboard a C-40 taking him back to Washington.

He said he felt the trip accomplished the objectives. He said the questions he received from a range of ranks from airman to major general were thoughtful, respectful and probing. "They were very professional," Gates said. "Lots of questions about money and resources."

During the speech -- which was essentially the same at all three bases -- he announced he was halting planned personnel cuts in the service.

"Clearly the decision to not continue the cuts in personnel in the
Air Force went down very well in all three places," he said. "(The trip) also ... gave me a better opportunity to spell out my views on the needs to balance support for those in war and for going forward with modernization programs."

The secretary said he believes his views on the security challenges the United States will face have been caricatured. "People have said I was all about the last war, and I didn't care about the future, and I didn't think there were any future threats," he said. "It was an extraordinary stretch."

Gates said the focus of the
military must be the wars that servicemembers are fighting now, but there must be an emphasis on future capabilities.

"It is a matter of balance," the secretary said. "We must build out the
Navy. We must modernize the Air Force, in particular the aging fighter and tanker fleet. And we must prepare the Army and Marine Corps for full-spectrum conflict."

Gates said there is still a vital need for a nuclear deterrent in the era of
terrorism. "It's hard for me to imagine terrorists acquiring nuclear materials from (any place) other than a state," he said.

The United States worried about "loose nukes" following the collapse of the Soviet Union. "We now have 17 years of experience under our belt; I think the programs we have worked in cooperation with the Russians ... have been successful," he said.

"If you ask every senior
leader what keeps them awake at night, it's terrorists getting weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear," he said.

Gates said nuclear weapons play a role in deterring states who might be the source for terrorists. "The consequences to a state unleashing a weapon of mass destruction against the United States would be catastrophic," he said.

They do not, however, deter terrorists, he added.

At Scott
Air Force Base, Gates met with Gen. Norton Schwartz, whom he recommended to be the new Air Force chief of staff. Gates said he congratulated the general -- who had already put in his retirement papers -- and spoke about the opportunities and challenges for the service.

"Talking with senior commanders, I think one of the assets that the new
leadership of the Air Force will have going forward is a lot of these folks' pride has been offended," the secretary said. "Several of them said to me, 'We're better than this.' I think there is a real determination to show that and get on top of these problems very fast."

The
Air Force already has a number of programs under way to address the decline in nuclear mission. Gates said he wants those programs to continue and that he will evaluate them along with the results of the panel that former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger will lead.

"We're not going to wait 45 to 60 days to begin addressing these issues," he said.

Face of Defense: Nevadan Becomes First Guard Thunderbird Pilot

By Lyndsey Sullivan
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - Throughout his
Air Force career, Nevada Air National Guard pilot Maj. Derek Routt has distinguished himself by emphasizing basic character traits such as integrity and work ethic. They promise to be the same attributes Routt upholds this fall when he becomes the first National Guard pilot to take to the skies with the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron.

Routt, 38, is the first Air National Guard pilot chosen to fly with the team. Other Guard airmen have held enlisted positions on the
team, but Routt is the first pilot, officials said.

The application process for the world-renowned team was arduous. Routt completed the 30-page application for the Thunderbird
team in January, and he made the first cut with five other pilots.

The selection process was only beginning, though. A series of lengthy interviews in Florida, South Carolina and
Las Vegas took months, but Routt said it was worth the chance.

"I would watch the Thunderbirds and always thought they were truly magnificent," Routt said.

It wasn't until May 30, the day after his birthday, that the son of a National Guardsman learned he would get the chance of a lifetime to fly with the Thunderbirds.

"It is an unbelievable honor," Routt said "Not only to represent the Guard, the
Air Force and the Army, but also my family. It's really a defining moment."

This year, half of the current
team will receive new assignments, and Routt will take over the "No. 7" position as the operations officer and second in command. He will begin his four-month training period in July, receive his uniforms in October, and begin flying with the team in November, said Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Kreft, public affairs officer for the Thunderbirds.

Routt began his career as an active-duty nuclear missile launch officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Thirty months later, he crossed into aviation and trained in Texas. He received his wings in June 1997 and transferred to Florida, where he learned to fly the F-15C.

In May 1998, Japan became the next stop for the aspiring pilot. For the next three years, Routt was stationed with 67th Fighter Squadron in Japan, flying throughout Iraq, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In 2003, Routt was stationed at Nellis
Air Force Base, in Las Vegas, and he flew F-16s for three years. In 2006, he transferred back to F-15s and joined the Nevada Air National Guard "High Rollers." He currently serves in 65th Aggressor Squadron.

"It's been great, and I hope it will continue to be great," Routt said. "I'm sure it will."

(Lyndsey Sullivan works in the Nevada National Guard Public Affairs Office.)

Gates Announces Recommendations on Senior Air Force Leadership Positions

American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has recommended that President Bush nominate Michael B. Donley, the Defense Department's director of administration and management, to be the next secretary of the
Air Force and Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, to become Air Force chief of staff. Donley would replace Michael W. Wynne, and Schwartz would replace Gen. T. Michael Moseley, both of whom resigned last week in the wake of a report critical of the service's oversight of its nuclear weapons program.

In a statement released this morning, Gates described Donley's current position as being "essentially charged with running the Pentagon and its many complex operations," and noted that Donley served as assistant secretary of the
Air Force for financial management in the first Bush administration and, for a period, as acting secretary of the Air Force.

Gates also recommended that the president designate Donley as acting
Air Force secretary, effective June 21.

As commander of TransCom, Schwartz is in charge of the Defense Department's extensive transportation network and worldwide operations. He has served in senior joint
military positions as director of the Joint Staff, director for operations for the Joint Staff, and deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Gates noted in his statement.

The defense secretary also has recommended that Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Air Force vice chief of staff, succeed Schwartz at TransCom. McNabb has spent most of his three-plus decades in the
Air Force in the areas of lift, refueling and logistics, "making him an ideal candidate to assume the helm of this command," Gates said in his statement.

The secretary also is recommending that the president nominate Lt. Gen. William M. Fraser III, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to follow McNabb as the next Air Force vice chief. In his current position, Fraser is the chairman's chief liaison and advisor on international relations and political-
military matters. "In addition to his numerous flying and command assignment in the bomber community, General Fraser has extensive wartime, contingency and humanitarian relief operational experience," Gates said in the statement announcing his recommended nominations.

"I am confident that Mike Donley, General Schwartz and the new Air Force
leadership team have the qualifications, skill and commitment to excellence necessary to guide the Air Force through this transition and beyond," the statement concluded.

Gates Cites Air Force's Value in War on Terror

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 9, 2008 - America's
war on terror would grind to a halt without the contributions of the Air Force, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. "Every day, amazing airmen are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," Gates said. "Beyond that, you support all the services worldwide."

Gates praised the airmen for their mostly unsung combat role and support of deployed servicemembers. He noted that on average, 25,000 airmen serve in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. Last year, the
Air Force flew about 1,300 air strikes in Iraq, a three-fold increase from 2006 that represented 90 percent of all coalition air strikes.

The number of unmanned Predator sorties has more than doubled in the past year, and ground commanders continue to ask for more, he said.

"The timely, precise and persistent surveillance and close-air support provided by the
Air Force over the battlefield has saved countless American lives, the lives of innocent civilians, and left terrorists and insurgents little room to operate," the secretary said.

Airmen also are on the ground in the combat theater. More than 6,000 are performing in place of soldiers or Marines on the ground in Iraq, covering everything from detainee security to explosive ordnance disposal to convoy security. And
Air Force trainers are working to build the Iraqi and Afghan air forces.

Air Force officers and enlisted airmen are working on provincial reconstruction teams in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Air Force personnel make up large parts of the personnel assigned to Joint Task Force Horn or Africa and the Joint Special Operations Task Force in Zamboanga, Philippines.

"Little of that is widely known or appreciated," Gates told Air Combat Command airmen here. "But I can assure you that I value everything you are doing in support of our nation. And every soldier and
Marine on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan is profoundly grateful you are overhead watching out for them," Gates said.

Gates said that while most Americans are aware of the stresses and strains on soldiers and Marines, airmen, too, are affected. Since the Persian Gulf War,
Air Force personnel have deployed to Central Command flying missions over the "no-fly zones."

"In fact, you have been forward-deployed, and at war for 17 years," Gates said. "Your families have also borne this burden, and the Air Force has its own fallen heroes – often struck down while serving alongside our soldiers and Marines. We know this, and are working to ease the burden. For example, I intend immediately to stop further reductions in
Air Force personnel."

The
Air Force has steadily reduced in size since the Gulf War, and current reductions were slated to result in an end-strength of 328,600 airmen by October 2009.