Military News

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mercy Nears Halfway Point in Humanitarian South Pacific Deployment

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 21, 2008 -
Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy is preparing to leave the third country it has visited in the South Pacific during a four-month humanitarian deployment supporting Pacific Partnership 2008. Mercy arrived in Timor-Leste on July 12 for a two-week humanitarian visit, but this isn't the first time the crew has visited the country.

"This is the third time we have been here. ... The first time was in 2005 following a tsunami, and the USNS Mercy was back in 2006, and now this time,"
Navy Capt. James Rice, commander of the Military treatment facility aboard Mercy, said July 17 on the "Dot Mil Docs" program on BlogTalkRadio.com.

"We look forward to coming back in the years to come on a regular basis. One of the most important aspects of the Pacific Partnership is the long-term commitment to work with each of the nations and to make sure that the friendships and the relationships we build are long-lasting ones,." Rice said.

In 2006, Mercy participated in a four-month humanitarian and
civil assistance deployment that brought medical treatment to the people in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and East Timor. Prior to that, in 2005, Mercy deployed in response to the December 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia.

"Pacific Partnership is really why doctors and nurses went into medicine in the first place," Rice said. "In particular, all of us enjoy taking care of patients and working with each other on a very human level. It is just something that gets to the core of why we went in our professions in the first place."

Since the beginning of Pacific Partnership, the Mercy medical staff has seen more than 41,000 patients and provided dental services to nearly 9,000 patients. They have performed more than 600 surgeries and provided veterinarian medicine care to more than 4,000 animals. In addition to the medical care provided, Mercy's biomedical repair technicians have fixed medical equipment in the hospitals they've visited.

"We have repaired many of their equipment items in their hospitals that will allow them to continue to provide health care services long after we're gone," Rice said.

Though they sometimes have to work at a technological disadvantage, Rice said, the host nations' medical knowledge often is very sophisticated.

"Sometimes they don't have the
technology that we have, but most often they know what they want us to do for them, and they ask for very specific training or very specific diagnostic treatment and modalities," he said.

Various nongovernment organizations from the United States and from the host nations also are participating in Pacific Partnership 2008.

"We have NGOs from the United States -- in particular, Operation Smile, Project Hope, and [the University of California at
San Diego] pre-dental society -- and we are working with host-nation NGOs -- in particular, Timor Red Cross, Australian Aid International ... and many others," Rice said.

"The idea is that the host nation NGOs are on the ground all the time, and we would like to interact with them so that they will be able to continue various projects for patient care that we happen to take care of while we are here for two weeks,." Rice said.

Prior to arriving in Timor-Leste, Mercy visited the Philippines and Vietnam. The ship is about halfway through a four-month humanitarian mission that soon will take the crew to Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Partner nations participating in Pacific Partnership 2008 include Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Portugal.

"Medicine is really a universal common denominator," Rice said. "It is an incredible experience to have in the operating room an American or Australian as the surgeon, perhaps an anesthesiologist from India."

He added that while the medical professionals initially have to figure out how to best communicate, they do use translators.

"In the operating room a lot of times, it's visual anyway, the language barrier has not been a big problem," Rice said. "But it really has been a tremendous experience for all of us, and it has helped us to bond very closely together and make long lasting friendships that all of us are cherishing."

(
Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media Directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Face of Defense: Former Stunt Man Makes Leap to Ministry


By Army Spc. Justin Snyder
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 21, 2008 -
Army Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Light gives a weekly sermon and is available for counseling whenever a soldier might need it. But he is not your ordinary chaplain. "When I was in college, money was kind of hard to come by, so I became a stunt guy to pay for college," said Light, who serves with the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

In the late 1980s,
Hollywood was experiencing a writers' strike. Feeling the pinch from a lack of work there, some of the companies in show business took their shows on the road.

"A guy who was a stuntman moved into town and would put on a Wild West show while trying to obtain the contracts for movies when they came through," said Light, a native of Kingspen, Tenn., and a graduate of East
Tennessee State University. "We happened to go to the same church, and he took me under his wing, teaching me the ropes."

Light began working at the Wild West show, which led to performing a few stunts for television shows such as "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Rescue 911." The work on those shows paid most of his way through college.

Following college graduation in 1993, Light quit the stunt man life and began what he said he believed to be his true calling, ministry. He started working with college students in a counselor-like role at the University of
Michigan, then at the University of California State in Fullerton.

After the university's program diminished due to a lack of funding, Light found himself without a job. He struggled to find employment for a few years, eventually distributing a resume with the hope someone would contact him for work. He finally got a call, but from an unexpected place: the
Army.

"I got a call from a retired Army chaplain asking if I'd be interested in being a chaplain in the military. I told him, 'No,' because I wanted to work with college-age kids from 18 to 25 years old." Light said.

"He kind of laughed at me after that statement, because soldiers of that age make up a lot of the
Army. After that, the light bulb came on, and I knew this was what God was calling me to do."

Over the next 15 months, he lost 50 pounds to meet the
Army's weight standards and headed off to basic chaplains training. After graduation, he was assigned to the 1-187th Infantry Regiment, where he received word that he would be deploying to Iraq.

"Getting deployed was never a problem for me," Light said. "All of the active-duty people in my class were getting deployed, so I knew it was a matter of time. What good would I be if I could not deploy with the soldiers I am here for?"

Light said he constantly is learning and trying to improve himself as a better chaplain during his first deployment. Recently, he had an experience that served as a confidence booster.

"I was sitting outside reading when the company commander came walking by and told me I was a good chaplain," he recalled. "For someone outside of the Chaplain Corps to randomly come up to me and notice what I was doing, that really proved to me that being here was the right thing and that I was doing a good job."

While he isn't outside the wire all the time, Light said, he knows his job is equally as important. He must be there not only for the soldiers who are deployed, but also for their families back at home.

"Never in our nation's history have families had to give up so much," he said. "While I'm not out there on the front line fighting, it's my job to be there for [soldiers] when they come back. If I can help prepare these soldiers to go back to their families, I'm doing my part."

(
Army Spc. Justin Snyder serves in the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public Affairs Office.)

America Supports You: Troops Get Support From Pennsylvania Team

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

July 21, 2008 - For deployed troops, hearing about support from back home can do wonders for
morale, but getting a big box full of goodies and necessities is even better. "The 'American Troop Support Team' has been formed to provide tangible support to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, particularly those currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan," Joseph Natale, the team's founder, said. "They deserve to know that we, at the grassroots level, are here for them."

The packages, full of donated snacks, personal hygiene items, reading material and the occasional special request, all are packed in Natale's
Pennsylvania basement. In addition to the goodies, each box includes letters expressing support for the troops.

The American Troop Support Team's goal is to send as many boxes as it can, and this will be its only project until the need for care packages isn't so great, Natale said. The group does hold fundraisers throughout the year to pay for supplies and shipping costs.

"When the need for our boxes diminishes, we will be establishing an annual scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled [servicemembers]," he said.

A new supporter of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program, American Troop Support Team hopes the affiliation will offer national exposure and, consequently, more troops to whom the members can send their packages of support, Natale said.
America Supports You connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Defense Department to Deliver More, Improved Child Care

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 21, 2008 - Last week's ribbon-cutting at the largest
military child care center underscores the Defense Department's commitment to providing more and better child-care for military families, a senior defense official said. A July 15 ribbon-cutting at Fort Myer, Va., marked the official opening of a new 50,831-square-foot facility that serves children from birth to age 12. The space can serve up to 438 children, with an atrium, activity rooms, computer labs, multipurpose room, kitchen, laundry and space for outdoor activity, post officials reported.

The new center represents another step toward the Defense Department's goal of opening 20 new child-care centers this fiscal year, Barbara Thompson, director of the Office of Family Policy's children and youth directorate, told American Forces Press Service. By Sept. 30, this will provide 5,025 additional child-care spaces, she said.

President Bush called on Congress during his State of the Union address Jan. 28 to provide more quality-of-life support for
military families, including expanded access to child care.

The result is an accelerated
military construction program that squeezes six years of planned child-care-facility projects into fiscal 2008 and 2009, Thompson said. During fiscal 2008 alone, the department has committed $210 million to build 20 new centers.

The new facilities bring more capacity to the world's largest employer-sponsored child-care system that already serves about 200,000 military children every day at 300 military installations in the United States and overseas, Thompson said.

These centers offer full-day, part-day and hourly child care, as well as part-day preschools and before- and after-school programs for school-age children. Many operate with extended hours to accommodate long
military duty days.

But recognizing that 70 percent of military families live off base, defense officials also are seeking additional child-care spaces closer to their homes where it's more convenient.

"We are looking at growing the number of spaces both on and off the installations, ... and trying to see how we can partner with the civilian community to provide high-quality, accessible child-care space," Thompson said.

As the
military services strive to provide more child care, they recognize that quality is just as important as access, Thompson said. "It is the quality of the arrangement that is critical for children to thrive – and for families to thrive knowing that their children are well cared for," she said.

military child-care facilities regularly score high marks in the quality of care they provide, Thompson said. Ninety-seven percent of all military development centers are accredited by a national accrediting body, compared to about 8 to 10 percent of civilian facilities.

"So we have a very high track record of being the model for the nation," Thompson said. "Not only are we the largest employer-sponsored program in the nation, but also the highest quality."

Chairman Links Family Readiness to Military Readiness

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

July 21, 2008 -
Military commanders agree that troops need good training and good equipment before they deploy. But equally important to preparing servicemembers for war is readying their families, the nation's top military officer said today.

"Family readiness is really about
Military readiness," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a group of about 1,500 family support volunteers gathered here for a National Guard volunteer workshop.

"[Family support is] tied to having a healthy, dedicated, focused, capable military that can accomplish the mission it needs," the chairman said.

This was Mullen's first visit with an exclusively National
Guard family audience, although he has talked with National Guard troops and families as part of his regular town hall meetings around the world. The volunteers represented every state and territory in the United States, and packed a downtown hotel's banquet hall. The back of each chair was marked with a state's name, and ever so militarily, they were lined up alphabetically, row after row. Many groups in the crowd wore color-coordinated shirts, scattering swaths of red, green blue and other colors throughout the crowd.

Mullen noted the transformation of the
Military's reserve components from a strategic reserve to an operational force that has taken place since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

"What the
Guard and the reserves have done since 9/11 ... has made what we are able to do with fighting these two wars possible," Mullen told the crowd. "It would not be possible -- we would not be making the progress we are making in both of these wars -- without the incredible performance of the Guard and Reserve."

But, Mullen conceded, policy makers inside the Capitol Beltway haven't always given enough attention to programs for families of the National Guard spread out across the nation. While spouses of active-duty troops typically live on or near
Military installations, reservists often are spread out in rural areas, many times hundreds of miles from the nearest military installation, and sometimes even from the armories where they report for duty.

In fact, Mullen told the audience, his single biggest worry is "the disconnect between the policies that we have and what is actually going on on the ground. We don't get enough feedback."

Mullen said in an interview after the visit with the group that the audience understood what he was talking about. The admiral said he could see heads nodding affirmation in the audience as he addressed the issue.

"One of the biggest challenges that we have is to -- no kidding -- find out what's actually happening in execution [of policies]," Mullen said.

Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said the Guard was not fully ready to take care of its families in the wake of the heavy demand for reserve forces after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Programs were in place to take care of families while the units were activated, he said, but the support systems were not properly resourced as the Guard transitioned from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. Missing were the programs that would help prepare families as the units were readying for war, and take care of them after the units came home from deployment, he explained.

"When we first started this war, we were not prepared for the full life-cycle support of the citizen-soldier and -airman," Blum said in an interview after his opening remarks.

But now, Blum said, the programs and policies are in place to take care of families in all phases of deployment: before, during and after. He said the
Army especially has made supporting families one of its top priorities.

Both Mullen and Blum said this conference and others like it are key to breaking down the dissonance between policy makers and those they affect, and continuing to improve policies. These workshops bring representation from each state together to propel their issues to the forefront of the leaders and policy makers. Family programs are now better because of them, Blum said.

Mullen said in the pace of today's war and deployments, the
Military can ill afford lag time between identifying a needed change and creating policy to make the change.

"Too many of us in
Washington think [when] we've essentially created a policy that things are OK," Mullen said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. You've got to have good policies, but how do you know it's working?" Workshops like this one provide the type of "grassroots" feedback vital for healthy policy change, he added.

"There is so much information in this ballroom," the chairman said. "If I could tap into that information and feed it into the programs and policy changes instantly, I would be a very happy guy, and I know I could make some really positive changes."

The admiral said he wants family members to continue to put pressure on
Military leadership so that discussions continue on key family issues.

"Believe me, we want to get this right," Mullen said.

Feedback on developing family programs is critical as the military continues to rely heavily on its reserve forces for combat deployments, Mullen said.

"There is going to continue to be a battle rhythm which requires us to continue to deploy [the National
Guard and reserves]," Mullen said. "We cannot move forward without the Guard and the Reserve, and we have high expectations to be able to do that in the future."

The admiral implored those in attendance to deliver honest, unfiltered feedback throughout the workshop that could make programs better.

"There is no one that knows how to take care of families better than families," he said. "Those in the field around the nation are able to take care of families around the nation better than those in
Washington. Bring forth those things that aren't working. Bring forth those things that don't make sense. Bring forth those things where we need to have policy adjustments, resource adjustments, better focus."

Mullen also said that he wants to use the Guard and reserves to help connect America with its
Military. Blum noted that the only active-duty Army installation in California is the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The only interaction Californians have with the Army is with the National Guard, he said.

Mullen said he worries that what the American people understand about the military is what is in the headlines of the mainstream media, and not the depth, dedication, needs of those who serve. The Guard and reserves, he said, are the hometown connection of the
Military with Americans.

"This is something we have to continue to do better to make sure the military needs of our country are met and that the people of America understand what the United States military is all about," he said. "There is no better group in the country than the
Guard and reserve to do exactly that."

Blum agreed.

"If you really want to reach into every ZIP code and sample -- Are we caring for our veterans? Are we caring for our current servicemembers? Are we caring for our families? -- this is the group that will serve as the litmus test for that," Blum said.

And while both Mullen and Blum said that
Military family programs are now better than they have ever been, both also said that there is still work to be done.

"If we could create family programs for the
Guard and reserve that are commensurate with their sacrifice and their commitment in these two wars ... it would be a home run," Mullen said. "We're not there. But we need to be. They deserve it. It's critical, and we've got to do that, and that's what this is all about."

Blum said supporting the family is critical to maintaining an all-volunteer force. The National Guard never has drafted anyone into its force, he said.

"If we lose the ability to generate the volunteer force and keep it whole, we've really lost the ability to defend this nation the way our government intends and the people of America intend it," Blum said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS July 21, 2008

Army

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Jul. 18, 2008, a $110,591,666 firm-fixed price contract for the incorporation of the requirement to convert the production configuration of 26 UH-60 M aircraft. Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Oct. 20, 2005, U.S.
Army Aviation & Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Environmental Systems Research Institute,
Redlands, Calif., was awarded on Jul. 18, 2008, a $7,914,778 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for the development of a prototype to address data fusion within a geospatial environment. Work will be performed in Redlands, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Jul. 18, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Dec. 6, 2007. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Reston, Va., is the contracting activity (HM1582-08-C-0001).

Dultra Dredging Co., San Rafael, Calif., was awarded on Jul. 17, 2008, a $7,486,000 firm-fixed price contract for navigation improvements and construction of a rock breakwater, along with dredging, artificial reefs, and a boat launch ramp. Work will be performed in Unalaska, Ala., and is expected to be completed by Feb. 28, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on May 6, 2008, and three bids were received. U.S.
Army Engineer District, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ala., is the contracting activity (W911KB-08-C-0017).

Raytheon Co., McKinney,
Texas, was awarded on Jul. 18, 2008, a $7,028,791 firm-fixed price contract for long lead items for improved thermal sight systems, replaceable units and spares. Work will be performed in McKinney, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Jun. 30, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Apr. 7, 2008. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-02-C-M001).

WRS Infrastructure and Environment, Inc.,
Tampa, Fla., was awarded on Jul. 18, 2008, a $7,000,000 firm-fixed price contract for the construction of a water resource area and irrigation reservoir levees, canals, pumping stations, control structures, siphon, access roadways, and associated work. Work will be performed in Highlands and Okeechobee Counties, Fla., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Sixty-five bids were solicited on Apr. 2, 2008, and 19 bids were received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (W912EP-08-C-0013).

NAVY

Clark/Balfour Beatty, A Joint Venture, Bethesda, Md., is being awarded a $85,170,526 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed price contract (N40080-08-C-0007) to add funding for design/build of a medical center addition/alteration for Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center. This action is in accordance with DFARS 252.232-7007, Limitation of Government's Obligation (May 2006) which established an incremental funding schedule for this contract. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Md., and work is expected to be completed Jul. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Wash., D.C., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Network Centric Systems, St.
Petersburg, Fla., is being awarded a $29,437,812 firm-fixed-price contract for Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) System Production. The contract provides for production of CEC systems and ancillary support for the Navy, Marines and Army. CEC is a sensor netting system that significantly improves battle force Anti-Air Warfare capability by extracting and distributing sensor-derived information and making the data available to all participating CEC units. CEC also improves battle force effectiveness by improving overall situational awareness and by enabling longer range, cooperative, multiple, or layered engagement strategies. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $135,945,903. Work will be performed in Largo, Fla., (47 percent), St. Petersburg, Fla., (20 percent), Dallas, Texas, (18 percent), and McKinney, Texas, (15 percent); and work is expected to be completed by Mar. of 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-08-C-5203).

Missile Defense Agency Contract Award

Orbital Sciences Corp., of Chandler, Ariz., is being awarded a $15,000,000 (not-to-exceed) firm fixed price, sole source contract to manufacture one (1) medium range target missile with an option for one (1) additional medium range target missile. This is a foreign
military sales contract for Japan. The principal place of performance is Chandler, Ariz. Work on the basic contract and option is expected to be complete by Jan. 2010. The contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Missile Defense Agency, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. FMS funds will be used. The undefinitized contract action will be funded with a limitation of Government liability of $7.5M.

DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY

ViaSat Inc. - Carlsbad,
California 92009-1699 was awarded a modification to firm fixed-price contract HC1047-07-C-0013, in the amount of $9,318,382.00 for Integrated Waveform (IW) Phase II effort on July 21, 2008. The period of performance is July 21, 2008 through November 20, 2010 and includes a base period of 16 months and an option period of 12 months. Performance will be at ViaSat's facility in Carlsbad, California. The solicitation was issued as an "only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements" justification and approval process pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. ViaSat Inc. - Carlsbad, California is a large business. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Office - National Capital Region (DITCO-NCR) is the contracting activity. Contracting point of contact is Kevin Williams (703) 681-0922. (HC1047-07-C-0013)