Military News

Monday, June 23, 2008

Guard Ratchets Up Efforts in Midwestern Flooding

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 23, 2008 -
Missouri is the latest Midwestern state to see increasing numbers of National Guard citizen-soldiers and –airmen on duty in the face of the region's worst flooding in 15 years. "Our priority is to protect the lives of Missouri's residents and their property," Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt said during a visit to flood-affected areas with National Guard officials. "Then we will focus on recovery efforts."

"As Missourians continue to face the rising waters of the Mississippi, their
Missouri National Guard stands beside them in the fight," Army Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, the state's adjutant general, said.

More than 5,700 National Guard members were responding to flooding in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin on June 19, a peak since the Guard started deploying troops in the face of rising waters on June 7.

A response that began in Indiana spread with the water to Wisconsin on June 9, Iowa the next day, and Illinois and
Missouri on June 14. Indiana operations wound down on June 18 after 11 days.

But the threat was far from winding down, as sandbagging continues in towns along the Mississippi River in the face of cresting waters.

Residents in towns already flooded faced weeks of cleanup and mounds of trash to dispose of. Twenty-four people have died and 148 have been injured during June's storms and flooding, the Associated Press reported. Damages are estimated in the billions of dollars.

Fourteen Missouri counties were affected, National Guard Bureau officials reported.

Guard officials were monitoring both the Mississippi and
Missouri rivers as more than 700 troops responded, focusing on Clarksville and Wentzville. Water had crested or breached levees, and more were threatened.

"We have troops doing work on the ground from Alexandria to Winfield," said
Army Capt. Tammy Spicer, a Missouri Guard spokeswoman. Alexandria is in the north. Winfield is just north of St. Louis.

The Guard was monitoring the situation the length of the Mississippi in Missouri, she said. The
Missouri Guard has established a Northeast Task Force overseeing seven units supporting communities facing rising water, officials reported this week.

Army Lt. Col. William McKinney, the task force commander, said the Guard is working hard to protect the local population and has deployed every necessary resource available.

Missouri National Guard members are mobilized in the communities of Hannibal, the boyhood home of famed American writer Mark Twain, and Clarksville, Canton, West Quincy, LaGrange and Alexandria, assisting with sandbagging operations, levee monitoring, and limited security operations.

To combat future flooding threats, the Guard has established a quick-reaction force in Louisiana, Mo. The Guard also has posted liaison officers to work with state and local officials in Clark, Lewis, Marion, Ralls, Pike and
Lincoln counties.

Among the units deployed is 1438th Engineer Company from Macon. Several members from that unit were deployed to the area after returning from a two-week annual training exercise in
South Dakota.

Army Spc. John Crawford of St. Louis said that though the flooding has kept him from returning to work, his employers know the importance of his mission.

"It is a great thing the Guard is doing up here," Crawford said. "I have been helping fill and transport sandbags to the levees."

The Guard was sandbagging, monitoring levees and securing evacuated areas and providing command and control, communications and
tactical operations support to civilian authorities. The latest operations were similar to Guard actions throughout the Midwest this month:

-- Illinois: More than 1,100 Guard members assisted with communications and sandbagging.

-- Indiana: Operation Noah's Ark concluded June 19. The height of the mission saw more than 1,400 Guard members on duty sandbagging, providing security, conducting search and rescue missions, and distributing water.

-- Iowa: More than 4,200 Guard members remained on duty as the state faced a public health emergency caused by lost water supplies. Massive flooding rendered 83 of the state's 99 counties under state disaster declarations. Guard members focused on preventing more flooding; providing drinking water, generators, security and transportation; conducting aerial damage assessment; and other operations.

-- Wisconsin: About 230 Guard members provided communications, generators,
security and transport. The Guard also assisted with conducting aerial damage assessments, filling and grading washed-out roads, and removing debris, National Guard Bureau officials reported.

Meanwhile, Guard members were on duty assisting Border Patrol agents in four Southwestern border states, tackling wildfires, ferrying drinking water to residents of several New Mexico towns, supporting Louisiana
police, providing critical infrastructure protection in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, flying critical air sovereignty missions nationwide, and running counterdrug operations.

National Guard members also are on duty on a variety of missions in many foreign countries, including combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(
Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves with the National Guard Bureau. Robert Seyller of the Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office contributed to this report.)

Guard Ratchets Up Efforts in Midwestern Flooding

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 23, 2008 -
Missouri is the latest Midwestern state to see increasing numbers of National Guard citizen-soldiers and –airmen on duty in the face of the region's worst flooding in 15 years. "Our priority is to protect the lives of Missouri's residents and their property," Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt said during a visit to flood-affected areas with National Guard officials. "Then we will focus on recovery efforts."

"As Missourians continue to face the rising waters of the Mississippi, their
Missouri National Guard stands beside them in the fight," Army Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, the state's adjutant general, said.

More than 5,700 National Guard members were responding to flooding in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin on June 19, a peak since the Guard started deploying troops in the face of rising waters on June 7.

A response that began in Indiana spread with the water to Wisconsin on June 9, Iowa the next day, and Illinois and
Missouri on June 14. Indiana operations wound down on June 18 after 11 days.

But the threat was far from winding down, as sandbagging continues in towns along the Mississippi River in the face of cresting waters.

Residents in towns already flooded faced weeks of cleanup and mounds of trash to dispose of. Twenty-four people have died and 148 have been injured during June's storms and flooding, the Associated Press reported. Damages are estimated in the billions of dollars.

Fourteen Missouri counties were affected, National Guard Bureau officials reported.

Guard officials were monitoring both the Mississippi and
Missouri rivers as more than 700 troops responded, focusing on Clarksville and Wentzville. Water had crested or breached levees, and more were threatened.

"We have troops doing work on the ground from Alexandria to Winfield," said
Army Capt. Tammy Spicer, a Missouri Guard spokeswoman. Alexandria is in the north. Winfield is just north of St. Louis.

The Guard was monitoring the situation the length of the Mississippi in Missouri, she said. The
Missouri Guard has established a Northeast Task Force overseeing seven units supporting communities facing rising water, officials reported this week.

Army Lt. Col. William McKinney, the task force commander, said the Guard is working hard to protect the local population and has deployed every necessary resource available.

Missouri National Guard members are mobilized in the communities of Hannibal, the boyhood home of famed American writer Mark Twain, and Clarksville, Canton, West Quincy, LaGrange and Alexandria, assisting with sandbagging operations, levee monitoring, and limited security operations.

To combat future flooding threats, the Guard has established a quick-reaction force in Louisiana, Mo. The Guard also has posted liaison officers to work with state and local officials in Clark, Lewis, Marion, Ralls, Pike and
Lincoln counties.

Among the units deployed is 1438th Engineer Company from Macon. Several members from that unit were deployed to the area after returning from a two-week annual training exercise in
South Dakota.

Army Spc. John Crawford of St. Louis said that though the flooding has kept him from returning to work, his employers know the importance of his mission.

"It is a great thing the Guard is doing up here," Crawford said. "I have been helping fill and transport sandbags to the levees."

The Guard was sandbagging, monitoring levees and securing evacuated areas and providing command and control, communications and
tactical operations support to civilian authorities. The latest operations were similar to Guard actions throughout the Midwest this month:

-- Illinois: More than 1,100 Guard members assisted with communications and sandbagging.

-- Indiana: Operation Noah's Ark concluded June 19. The height of the mission saw more than 1,400 Guard members on duty sandbagging, providing security, conducting search and rescue missions, and distributing water.

-- Iowa: More than 4,200 Guard members remained on duty as the state faced a public health emergency caused by lost water supplies. Massive flooding rendered 83 of the state's 99 counties under state disaster declarations. Guard members focused on preventing more flooding; providing drinking water, generators, security and transportation; conducting aerial damage assessment; and other operations.

-- Wisconsin: About 230 Guard members provided communications, generators,
security and transport. The Guard also assisted with conducting aerial damage assessments, filling and grading washed-out roads, and removing debris, National Guard Bureau officials reported.

Meanwhile, Guard members were on duty assisting Border Patrol agents in four Southwestern border states, tackling wildfires, ferrying drinking water to residents of several New Mexico towns, supporting Louisiana
police, providing critical infrastructure protection in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, flying critical air sovereignty missions nationwide, and running counterdrug operations.

National Guard members also are on duty on a variety of missions in many foreign countries, including combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(
Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves with the National Guard Bureau. Robert Seyller of the Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office contributed to this report.)

President Nominates Woman Army General for Fourth Star

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

June 23, 2008 - President Bush today nominated
Army Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody for promotion, which, pending Senate approval, would make her the first woman to be a four-star officer in U.S. history. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the president's nomination of Dunwoody as the commander of Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., in a news release published today by the Defense Department.

Dunwoody, who has served in several command positions since her
Army commission in 1975, including her current role as the Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics, is one of five women now fulfilling three-star flag officer duties.

In 1970, Col. Anna Mae Hays blazed the trail when she became chief of the
Army Nurse Corps, achieving the highest rank -- brigadier general -- of any woman servicemember at the time. But as Dunwoody's pending promotion underscores, the role of women in the U.S. military has expanded significantly since then.

Fifty-seven active-duty women and 47 female reservists wear stars on their shoulders in the armed forces. Moreover, roughly 194,000 women make up 14 percent of all active duty forces. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 193,400 women have deployed in support of U.S. operations.

The casualty figures of current conflicts provide a thumbnail sketch of a force structure that increasingly depends on women in combat zones. Ninety-seven women have died in Iraq, and 585 others have suffered injuries there, according to Defense Department statistics.

If confirmed by the Senate, Dunwoody would command the teams of soldiers, civilians and contractors responsible for providing materiel readiness and development, new
technology, acquisition support and logistics.

America Supports You: 'Good Grief Camp' Helps Children Overcome Loss

American Forces Press Service

June 23, 2008 - Losing a parent or sibling who served in the
military can be devastating to children, but they don't have to cope alone. Thanks to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, more than 300 of war's youngest survivors attended the TAPS "Good Grief Camp" over Memorial Day weekend. Many of them have lost a father or brother serving with the military in Iraq or Afghanistan.

TAPS is a veterans service organization providing peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, seminars, case work assistance, and 24/7 crisis intervention care for all those affected by a death of a loved one in
military service. The organization has held its Good Grief Camps for 14 years.

"We've found that children who have attended the Good Grief Camp felt a closeness to each other like many have never experienced, as they are surrounded by others their age who have [suffered] a similar loss," said Heather Campagna, director of the 2008 Good Grief Camp. "There is a comfort when someone says they understand, ... and for the first time, in many instances, they know it is true."

While attending the camp, children are paired one on one with a
military mentor who becomes their "big brother" or "big sister" for the weekend. They gain their own age-appropriate peer support network and learn coping strategies for dealing with loss through educational activities.

The campers also connect their own family's experience with a national legacy of
military service, learning how the nation honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the country as they visit memorials and participate in ceremonies.

Organizers say the depth of loss children experience may not be fully recognized.

"When a child loses a parent or another relative in the
military, often they suffer secondary losses that are not acknowledged in their lives," Campagna said. "They might move away from a home, be away from a military base when that is the only thing they have known, have to attend a new school, notice the ... empty chair at Thanksgiving dinner, and miss their confidante. Connecting with a mentor can be an empowering experience for a child who has already lost so much."

Mentors said the experience is rewarding.

"I loved working with the kids," said
Marine Cpl. Phillip Vilkas. "The first time, I was exhausted at the end of each day, but I never felt more proud to be in uniform than when a child who has lost a loved one looks up at me."

TAPS will hold Good Grief Camps with a one-day curriculum in conjunction with an adult survivor seminar in nine locations around the United States this summer and fall. The events are planned for July 12 in Philadelphia, July 26 in
Alabama, and Aug. 2 in Indiana. Dates for events in Ohio and Hawaii, as well as at Fort Lewis, Wash; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Fort Bliss, Texas, are currently being scheduled.

A special camp and seminar designed for families who have lost contractors and U.S. government civilians working with the
military will be held in Dallas on Aug. 23.

TAPS 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.

Joint Conference Exhibits Showcase Support for U.S. Warfighters

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

June 21, 2008 - Members of the
military services, Defense Department civilian employees and military contractors showcased how they harness technology to provide support for U.S. warfighters at the 2008 Joint Warfighter Conference held here June 17-19. U.S. Joint Forces Command, based at nearby Norfolk, Va., was one of the sponsors of the conference, which featured more than 300 vendors of defense equipment.

Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Joint Forces Command's chief, reminded attendees during his June 19 speech that although technology is important to warfighters, it isn't a panacea, and that war remains primarily a human endeavor.

"We want to make certain that we keep
technology in an enabling role, not in some kind of dominant role," Mattis said. "We do want high (technological) capability ... I want the highest capability we can bring to our troops in the field."

Hannah R. Jones, a technical analyst for Trident Systems based in Fairfax, Va., displayed some of that capability. Jones modeled a tiny, lightweight
computer screen that can be worn on a servicemember's forearm that replaces a bulky laptop display.

She also pointed to a group of foot-long, cylindrical sensor nodes that can serve as silent electronic sentinels for troops deployed in harm's way.

"Let's say you have a group of soldiers and you need them to go to sleep," Jones explained. The sensors, she said, can be buried in a perimeter pattern, while one of the soldiers stays awake to watch the
radio-monitor screen.

"If something should 'trip' the motion detectors, which are located in the product, you'd find it on the
radio and it would come up as a yellow flower (symbol), so you can know exactly where it 'tripped,'" Jones said.

At another booth,
Navy civilian employee Phil Love patted an orange-painted, 13-foot-long, jet-propelled aerial target device built by Northrop Grumman that can replicate the speed and maneuverability of enemy cruise-type missiles.

The remote-controlled rockets "are for training for the fleet," explained Love, who works with the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft Division at Norfolk. "The ships will either shoot them down, or not. If they are not destroyed, we recover them, recondition them, and we can have them ready to go the next day." The target devices, he noted, can be launched from a ship or land.

A model of the Boeing Company's Transformational Satellite Communications System that's under development garnered a lot of interest among conference attendees. According to a company official, the new system is designed to be the "Cadillac" of communications satellites. Old-style satellites "bounce" their signals earthward and back up to other satellites by ground controllers several times while transmitting trans-global messages, the official noted. The new satellite system, he said, can "think" for itself and transmit signals to other satellites without ground-control assistance. This saves considerable time, and money, the official said.

Meanwhile, Fernando Del Angel showed off a group of special universal serial bus "flash"
computer data storage drives that can carry encrypted information that cannot be retrieved without a password. The robust, aluminum-cased thumb-drives are made by Kanguru Solutions based in Millis, Mass., Del Angel said, noting they are used throughout the federal government and by private industry.

"Encrypted means protected," Del Angel explained. "So, if you lose that USB drive you'd bought at Office Depot or Wal-Mart and it has vital information on it, Joe Schmoe can pick it up off the street and sell it or use it to breach your network."

During his June 18 address,
Army Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization based in Arlington, Va., urged defense contractors to help his agency find ways to train troops how to detect and defeat deadly improvised explosive devices before they explode.

Metz said he believes simulators could be developed to train U.S. troops how to contend with roadside bombs before they're deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I think the simulation business could help us tremendously ... come give me your good ideas, help these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- those who are doing the fighting for us -- to beat this weapon system," Metz said.