Military News

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gas Prices Hitting Troops Where it Hurts

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

June 19, 2008 - For the first time since the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began touring the world talking to troops, the increasing cost of gas is popping up on their list of concerns. In didn't come up when it was $2 per gallon, or $3, but now, with the cost of a gallon of gas topping out at more than $4 per gallon, the subject has come up in the last four of his "all-hands" meetings starting last week at Fort Stewart, Ga., and now at Nellis
Air Force Base, Nev., and Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, both in Washington.

"Every single session [now], the price of gas has come up," Mullen said.

One soldier at Fort Lewis wanted to know if the Pentagon was considering a gas cost of living allowance, similar to a housing allowance. Not yet, said the chairman. Even if the idea were under consideration, he added, the process would take so long that it would be years before it would yield anything to put in the soldier's wallet.

At Nellis
Air Force Base, the price of gas is particularly disconcerting to airmen who drive to Creech Air Force to work every day. The 100-mile roundtrip can sift through an airman first class's fuel budget quickly. There are shuttles available, but not all schedules are accommodated, officials said. Also, officials said, some airmen live between Nellis and Creech, but have to drive to Nellis for their children's daycare and then turn around and drive to Creech to work, increasing their commute by half. There are no daycare facilities at Creech AFB.

Even a modest increase in gas prices can mean hundreds of more dollars at the pumps annually for soldiers stationed at installations like the remote
National Training Center, at Fort Irwin, Calif. The post is nearly 50 miles from the nearest city, Barstow. At 100 miles per round-trip, even a fuel-efficient car is costly to drive to work and back.

At Twentynine Palms, Calif., it is more than an hour's trip to get to the nearest large department store, and a major city with popular recreation and shopping activities is easily 100 miles or more away. High fuel prices can dampen plans for deserving weekend getaways.

Mullen called the rising cost of fuel a "significant fiscal challenge" for both operational and personal needs.

He praised the
Air Force today for leading the way in weaning itself off of fuel, noting that the service has begun flying some of its bombers with synthetic fuel. He said the rest of the military needs to follow suit.

Typically, any fuel cost increase during the year is absorbed by supplemental budget requests submitted by the Defense Department, Mullen said. The Pentagon spends about $15 billion annually for fuel.

But, Mullen said he thinks the days of multiple supplemental budget requests is nearing an end, and he added that he believes fuel costs need to be reflected in the overall budget.

That said, if fuel prices are reflected in a fixed budget and costs rise, the money will likely come from personnel or acquisition funding, Mullen said. "Oftentimes you slow down or stop buying stuff," he said.

Mullen said that all
leaders need to be thinking about how to operate more efficiently, conducting the same operations with less gas "and not just assume it's always going to be there."

He said leaders need to plan operations, transportation and family care, and manage them in a more efficient way.

"We're going to have to make that right for the future," Mullen said.

Surge Troops Stabilized Iraq, Chairman Tells Troops

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

June 19, 2008 - The U.S.
military's top officer told about 1,000 soldiers gathered here yesterday that they set the stage for positive security gains in Iraq as part of last year's troop surge efforts. "You left Iraq this time in much better shape than when you showed up," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the soldiers at an "all-hands" meeting during his third stop on a four-day tour of western-U.S. military installations.

The 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, part of the surge deployed last year, returned from Iraq in May. Many others from Fort Lewis have returned in the past six months. In fact, the walls of the gym that held the all-hands meeting still are lined with "welcome home" banners.

"Charlie Company Rocks. Job Well Done!" was hand-scrawled on poster board taped above the rows of bleachers, among other similar signs.

The surge troops "turned the tide," Mullen said, citing positive trends in economics, politics and
security in Iraq. "My hat's off to you for making that difference," he said.

"The sacrifices that you made have really created an opportunity to get it right in Iraq," Mullen said.

But, he said, there is still a long way to go toward a stable Iraq. The admiral added that trends have yet to prove sustainable and irreversible.

Mullen told the soldiers that the
Army is in the process of evolving the way it fights, as well as the way it recruits, retains, trains and equips its force.

As a country, he said, the United States has not done a very good job at predicting the next fight, so the
Army has to get back to balancing its counterinsurgency training for the current war with the need to train in its conventional wartime tasks.

"If you look where our
Army was a few years ago, and you look where we are right now, we are the best counterinsurgency force in the world," Mullen said.

Five years ago, the services didn't know much about counterinsurgency. Since he assumed office as chairman in October, Mullen said, he has traveled the world and realized how critical that fighting skill is.

Mullen also spoke directly about the need to reduce deployment lengths and increase "dwell time" at home stations between deployments. Troops here were directly affected when the
Army extended their 12-month deployment by three months.

"Fifteen months is too long," Mullen said. "The very important goal is to get to a rotation which allows us 12 months in theater and 24 months back, and we're not there yet."

Deployments are back to one year for deploying Army units, but the dwell time is only about one year for returning units. Mullen said that how fast the U.S.
military can get to two years of dwell time depends on force requirements, noting that the effort in Afghanistan needs three more brigade combat teams than are currently deployed there.

But if positive trends in Iraq continue, Mullen said, he is hopeful he can further reduce troop numbers there. He also pointed out that the
Army is growing to 547,000 soldiers from 485,000 over the next few years, and the Marine Corps also is increasing its numbers, which should help to reduce the strain both services have felt in recent years.

Mullen also talked about the combat stress that many in the crowd have seen as the result of multiple deployments. The vast majority of soldiers at the all-hands meeting wore "combat unit patches" on the right shoulders of their
Army combat uniforms.

"Many of you have been through combat you thought you would never see," the chairman said. "You've seen your friends die. You've seen them injured. You've been through extraordinarily challenging circumstances."

Now that the soldiers are home, Mullen said, senior leaders must set the right example and get help for post-traumatic stress. Everyone he served with during the
Vietnam War came away from the battlefield with some post-traumatic stress, he said, and if leaders now would seek treatment or counseling, their troops would follow.

Dealing with post-traumatic stress now will help mitigate its long-term impact, the admiral told the soldiers.

The chairman also called on
leaders to stay in touch with their solders who leave the service and those who return to civilian life after becoming injured in battle. He also called on them to take care of the families of those who have died in combat.

As is typical for today's soldiers, the troops gathered here weren't shy when the chairman opened the floor for questions. The days of a "pregnant pause" at that point in such a forum are long gone. In fact, the first soldier was so fast with his question that he'd finished asking it before the microphone got to him. For nearly an hour, the chairman fielded questions, mostly from young enlisted soldiers, on topics such as training, recruiting bonuses, rising fuel costs, and quality of life within the
military.

A young enlisted soldier asked about eventually training in conventional warfare. Mullen said the force is "somewhat frustrated" right now when it comes to combined arms training, and he acknowledged that the
Army will not be able to begin training sufficiently in its conventional warfighting tasks until soldiers can spend about two years at home station after a deployment.

"What we're worried about is that skills that are associated with that are clearly atrophied, because we're not doing it. We know we've got to get back to it. It's gong to take us a while," Mullen said, estimating that it could take as long as four years to get to that point.

A specialist asked what the admiral would like to see happen during the next year in Iraq. Mullen replied that he hopes for further gains in politics, economics and
security. He said he has been encouraged by recent political gains, which he called key to the successful stabilization of the country.

"The politics is what's got to work," he said, noting that political progress is enabled by security gains.

The status-of-forces agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments needs to be finalized, and upcoming fall provincial elections need to be held successfully, he said. The fact that the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain have announced in the past two weeks that that they will send ambassadors to Baghdad is a positive sign, he added.

"We're by no means done, but we've come a long way because of the success of the surge," Mullen said.

One hot topic for the
Army touched on by a specialist is the service's practice of "stop-loss," or not allowing a soldier to leave the service at the end of his contract because of unit requirements.

The specialist asked pointedly if stop-loss is going away, and the chairman answered simply: "No."

After some laughter, the chairman voiced his opinion of the practice. "I'd like to see stop-loss go away tomorrow if I could," Mullen said, but current troop levels make it critical to maintaining unit integrity in the war.

About 12,000 soldiers have not been allowed to leave at the end of their contracts, Mullen said. That number will grow over the next few years, he said, and will continue to grow until the
Army grows its numbers. Given the current needs and troop strength, Mullen said, he doesn't see an end soon to the stop-loss policy.

Mullen also was asked about the quality of Army barracks.

"We have a history ... of not investing well enough in our barracks. And the message I get from you and many others is that's not going to work for much longer" he said. "We've got an awful lot of money poised to invest in barracks over the next four to five years. That doesn't help you with where you're living right now, and I understand that."

The chairman said the
Army is going to have to build and continue to invest in the care of its living quarters.

After the all-hands meeting, the chairmen spent the morning talking with various levels of
leaders in roundtable discussions and at a working lunch. He followed that up with a visit to the Wounded Warrior Brigade here. There, he visited social workers in the clinic, as well as troops and staff. Nearly 800 soldiers are in the brigade, which cares for troops who require longer-term medical care than their units can facilitate.

Afterward, Mullen saw first-hand the latest in computer-generated, scenario-driven
leadership-development training at the Battle Command Training Center. The multi-million-dollar complex of 10 buildings offers the latest in Army technology aimed at helping leaders work through decision-making scenarios, as well as access sensitive and classified tactics that are fed from the battlefield to the center. Commanders can use the data to drive training scenarios for their units before deploying.

He rounded out the day by visiting the oldest and newest barracks on post, talking with soldiers in each and surveying their living conditions.

Chairman Emphasizes Leadership as Fix to Air Force Problems

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

June 18, 2008 - Good
leadership at all levels will fix what ails the Air Force, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday. "There's nothing more important ... to what we do than leadership. It covers the full spectrum of our people. It covers the full spectrum of our missions. It covers what we're doing now and how we look to the future," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said.

On this first leg of a four-day tour of western-U.S.
military bases, it was the chairman's first opportunity to talk with airmen face to face since the June 6 resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley.

Standing in a hangar, flanked by A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-22 Raptor fighter jets, the chairman set about easing the concerns of hundreds of airmen gathered to speak their minds and hear what the nation's top officer had to say about the future of their service.

It was Mullen's first visit here, and the "all-hands" meeting is a trademark of the chairman's visits as he listens and responds to concerns of servicemembers.

Mullen said he admires Wynne and Moseley for taking responsibility for the degradation of nuclear program standards reported within the service, and said it will help the
Air Force move forward in fixing the problems within its nuclear mission.

Still, the chairman conceded, there is a "great deal of work to do, and it needs to be done and grasped by the entire
Air Force." Mullen also emphasized that the fix does not set squarely on the shoulders of the senior leaders.

"This is not just senior leaders. You can lead from E-1 to O-10. You can lead from the front, the middle or the back," Mullen said. "
Leadership is at the core of what makes us great."

Mullen also told the airmen that the
military as a whole is undergoing "enormous" change. Counterinsurgency operations and irregular warfare are evolving and will remain "for the next several decades," the admiral said.

This requires the force to adjust its training, education and promotion systems, as well as its weapons and munitions development, Mullen told the airmen. And in doing so, he added, the services must balance their development and training to be ready for both conventional and irregular warfare.

Questions from the group ranged from the future of the
Air Force to the challenges facing the service, to troop downsizing in Iraq. But the first question went straight to the concerns of the branch. A senior master sergeant wanted to know if there would be a gap in senior leadership during the transition to the new secretary and chief of staff.

Mullen promised continuity, saying there would be no gap. He did not say when the transition would happen, but said it likely would happen soon. Michael B. Donley and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz have been nominated to take over as
Air Force secretary and chief of staff, respectively.

The second question again struck at the concern for the future of the service when a staff sergeant asked what's on the horizon in terms of
leadership, manning and financial challenges.

Mullen cited recapitalization of the Air Force's aging aircraft as the biggest financial challenge the service faces. While there are some new fighters ready to come off the production line, the tanker fleet needs to be replaced as well, Mullen said.

Mullen said that how much to invest in future Air Force
technology should partly be a discussion that involves the public outside the Washington beltway. He said DoD needs to be able to invest in the national security of the United States and that he encourages a discussion with the input of the American people.

Some think that the comfortable technological lead the U.S.
military has enjoyed is closing and that some countries are catching up, Mullen said. "[The gap] is not as substantial as it used to be," he said. "There are those that are closing in on us. We've got to make sure we stay invested ... to keep our technological lead."

The chairman noted that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced last week he's halting the reduction of the
Air Force that has been under way for years as a show of manning support for the service. He said that over the next year the Air Force will level off at about 330,000 airmen and that an overall assessment of the branch will take place before any further cuts are made.

A lieutenant colonel stepped to the microphone and said it seems that the
Air Force has been taking "hits" lately over controversial procurements, perceived policy difference among senior leaders, and the recent nuclear program problems.

"It seems like the credibility of the Air Force is pretty low right now. One of the questions we're asking ourselves is, 'What aren't we doing right?" the officer said.

Mullen focused his response on the
Air Force's problems within the nuclear program, citing a loss of discipline, a reduction of standards, and a lack of self-assessment by leaders. He said the reports indicated problematic trends for "at least a decade."

"The nuclear mission is the most important mission we have," Mullen said. "That standard must be renewed."

Mullen also was asked about the increase of intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions in combat. A technical sergeant said his unit is being asked to conduct more missions with fewer people. In response, Mullen cited nearby Creech
Air Force Base and its development and training using unmanned aerial vehicles as an example of the evolution of the combat mission.

"Once a commander gets a taste of what we can do with the kinds of support with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that it provides, they can't get enough of that," Mullen said.

He said there was an "insatiable appetite" for ISR in combat, and called the need "critical."

But, manning, equipping and training remain as stumbling blocks, he acknowledged. Also, there is a need to develop career paths for qualified pilots in the field. The problems, he said, are a result of not addressing the needs of ISR in combat earlier.

"It's because we're in a fight right now that precipitates the ... sense of urgency to solve this problem that we didn't solve years before," Mullen said. "We were going along at a fairly slow pace. We can't afford that right now, because lives are on the line."

When a major asked the chairman, "What can the
Air Force do better [to support] asymmetrical warfare?" Mullen replied, "The best way to start is with the question that you asked."

He said the
Air Force, as with the other services, needs to focus on becoming more lethal, precise and remote, with a smaller footprint. Speed in accomplishing the mission also is critical, he said.

"I've got to match my enemy in speed," the admiral explained. "I can't be lagging, and in many cases I am. In fact, matching it isn't even good enough. I have to get ahead of him."

Mullen said airmen should keep asking that same question and push forward capabilities that support an asymmetric, irregular war.

Navy Announces Christening of Submarine New Hampshire

The Navy's newest attack submarine New Hampshire (SSN 778) will be christened Saturday, June 21, during an 11:00 a.m. EDT ceremony at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

Director of Naval Reactors, Adm. Kirkland Donald, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth, N.H., will serve as
New Hampshire's sponsor. Ms. McGuinness is the widow of Thomas McGuiness, co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 which was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The highlight of the ceremony will be Ms. McGuinness christening the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine over the submarine, a time honored Navy tradition.

The fifth Virginia-class submarine,
New Hampshire is the third ship to honor the Granite State. The first USS New Hampshire was in service from 1846-1921, including service during the Civil War. Later, she was renamed Granite State following decommissioning and was used as a training ship for the New York State Militia. The second USS New Hampshire (1908-1921) was a battleship used for convoy escort duty during World War I and also served as a training ship.

Along with her sister ships,
New Hampshire, will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century.

Cmdr. Mike Stevens will become the ship's first commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.

The 7,800-ton
New Hampshire is built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat (Connecticut) and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Newport News (Virginia). She is 337 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged.

Additional information about this class of submarine is available online at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4100&tid=100&ct=4

Midwestern Guardsmen Respond to Rising Flood Waters

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 18, 2008 - Thousands of National Guard troops in the Midwest have moved into high gear reinforcing levees, conducting
security patrols, and delivering food, water and relief supplies as record-breaking floods surged through the heartland. Nearly 4,000 Iowa National Guard troops are deployed across the state as flood levels break records in almost every river community on the Cedar, Iowa, Des Moines, Raccoon and Mississippi river basins, reported Army Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, Iowa National Guard public affairs officer.

With 17 civilian fatalities and 106 injuries reported, 25,000 people evacuated from their homes, and flood waters still rising, the Guardsmen are reinforcing threatened levees, filling and delivering sandbags, and providing aerial reconnaissance of the region, Hapgood said.

The
Army and Air Guardsmen also are transporting packaged meals, drinking water, cots and other relief supplies, conducting security patrols in support of local law enforcement officials, and providing high-water vehicles to utility crews evaluating homes for unsafe conditions.

"We're ... trying to prevent people from going where they shouldn't for their own safety," said
Army Sgt. Jason Boesen, a 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, soldier mobilized to support flood--relief operations. "We assist by roving patrols with vehicles."

In Cedar Rapids, one of the hardest-hit cities, the troops used a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to sling-load seven 800-pound water pumps to a repair facility so wells could be returned to full capacity, Hapgood said.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 members of the
Iowa Guard's 334th Brigade Support Battalion and 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, built a 3-foot levee from about 12,000 sandbags to protect a power substation in Ottumwa from being overrun by rising waters.

About 800
Iowa Guardsmen conducting annual training in South Dakota were recalled to the state to support the flood relief, Hapgood said.

Air Force Col. Brian Miller, commander of the Air National Guard's Sioux City-based 185th Air Refueling Wing, predicted that the Army and Air Guard will be "here for the long haul" supporting the mission.

"We're going to be here as long as it takes," he said.

Hapgood noted that many of the Guardsmen involved in the effort have served combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan and now have stepped up to assist their own communities.

"This shows in a very tangible way the incredible amount of flexibility built into our skill sets that we can conduct combat missions and also help people here in the United States," Hapgood said. "It's demonstrative of the broad capabilities we have in the National Guard."

Army Sgt. Sean Rohret, a Company C, 133rd Infantry, soldier who has deployed as part of the Sinai Peninsula peacekeeping mission and served a tour of duty in Iraq, said it feels good to be pitching in to help rescue his home state.

"It's pretty gratifying to actually be able to get out here and help the community," he said. "I've seen a lot of people out sandbagging, a lot of people coming up to us, asking us where they can go to help. It's been a pretty wonderful experience getting to see everybody come together."

"It's a pleasure giving something back to the community," agreed
Army Sgt. 1st Class Chino Halpin, from 334th BSB. "It's good service."

Meanwhile, more than 500 Illinois National Guard soldiers and airmen are working alongside local citizens to build up levees along the
Mississippi River in the western part of the state. Another 400 have been called to duty and are expected to be on site by tomorrow to provide sandbagging, communications and transportation support, state National Guard officials reported.

Army Sgt. Jon Stonewall, a member of the Illinois Army Guard's 233rd Military Police Company, is among those supporting the effort. Stonewall joined the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and deployed with his unit to Iraq in 2003, and also was called to duty in December 2006 when a severe winter storm hit Illinois.

"Being here is typical of the Guard," he said. "Part of our mission is here at home, helping the residents in an emergency."

Support from Stonewall and his fellow Guardsmen will be critical in the days ahead. River levels in the Quincy area of Illinois' Adams County are expected to crest tomorrow at 31.9 feet – almost 15 feet over flood stage, county officials reported.

To the south, hundreds of Missouri National Guardsmen are fighting to hold back the surge of water flowing downriver from
Iowa and bracing for more to come.

"To be successful in this mission, we will deploy every necessary resource available," said
Army Lt. Col. William McKinney, who commands a task force set up to oversee seven units supporting the effort. "Missouri's Guardsmen are an asset for our people to utilize when they face an emergency requiring additional assistance."

The Guardsmen are monitoring levees, working
security and filling sandbags along the Mississippi River, state National Guard officials reported.

The Missouri
Army Guard's 548th Transportation Company left annual training in South Dakota early to deliver 20 pallets of packaged meals to flood-ravaged Iowa earlier this week. The pallets, which were donated by the South Dakota National Guard, amount to 11,520 meals.

The mission was personal for the Missourians, who had spent much of the past week in South Dakota training alongside
Iowa Guardsmen, who also left training early to respond to the severe flooding back home. "This is what we do," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Christine Chane. "Iowa needed the [meals], and we could help. They knew we had the assets to make the delivery."

Army Spc. John Crawford, whose 1438th Engineer Company just finished its annual training exercise, said he's happy to be able to provide flood relief support. "It is a great thing the Guard is doing up here," he said.

Meanwhile, almost 200 Wisconsin Army and Air Guardsmen are on duty as major flooding continues across the southern part of that state.

The Wisconsin Guardsmen are helping with flood control along flooded highways, filling and grading washed-out roads, securing traffic-control points, and providing aviation support for aerial damage-assessment missions, National Guard Bureau officials reported.

(
Army Pvt. Cassandra Monroe and Sgt. Chad D. Nelson from the Iowa Army National Guard's 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Air Force 1st Lt. Peter Shinn from the Iowa Air Guard's 185th Refueling Wing, 2nd Lt. Stacey Rieger from the Illinois National Guard, and Robert Seyller from the Missouri National Guard contributed to this article.)

Face of Defense: Life of Adaptation Helps Soldier in Deployment

By Army Pfc. John Ahn
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 18, 2008 - Being a soldier means being a master at many things and having the ability to adapt to any environment. For one Multinational Division Baghdad soldier from the 25th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, adapting to his environment has been a way of life.

Army Staff Sgt. Hiram Barbosa, a native of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, is a Stryker armored vehicle commander and is responsible for the vehicle crews for the regiment commander's personal security detail.

With his seven brothers and sisters, he grew up in poverty. Their single mother worked at a local bar and died when Barbosa was 16. He had to adapt to his new environment as he moved to Berkeley Heights, N.J., to live with his godparents.

Barbosa said his godparents had an immense impact on how he lives his life today. His godfather is a professional body builder and a
police officer, and his godmother is an aerobics and fitness instructor. He credits his focus on health and fitness to their influence. He competed in a body-building contest here May 25 and earned third place.

He said he speaks to his godfather as often as he can to help him balance his daily mission tempo with his commitment to fitness. "He's a great influence in my life," Barbosa said, adding that his godfather constantly wants to help him improve himself in every aspect of his life.

"He was a happy kid," said Tony Martinez, Barbosa's godfather. "You'd tell him what to do, and he did it. He was never afraid, always positive, and he never gave up."

Barbosa's dedication for fitness carries over to his soldiers. His driver, Spc. Daniel Van Houten, a native of
Pasadena, Texas, recently began working out with Barbosa and said he has seen vast improvements in both his physique and endurance.

"He pushes me," Van Houten said. "He trains me properly, and he motivates not only me but the whole section."

Barbosa said his dedication to his family drove him to join the
Army immediately after graduating from Jose de Diego High School in New Jersey. He said he chose to enlist as an infantryman to fulfill his yearning to "blow things up, shoot weapons and advance quickly" in his career field.

"I was a little bit fearful, but he's a tough kid," said Martinez, admitting he initially was apprehensive about Barbosa joining the
military. "I knew he could handle it."

Barbosa is serving in his fourth deployment since joining the
Army. He's had two tours in Iraq and one each in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

He said he plans to make the
Army his career and continues to become more tactically and technically proficient on military tasks to improve his prospects for promotion.

(
Army Pfc. John Ahn serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)