Tuesday, July 22, 2008

America Supports You: Military Couples to Wed with Hollywood's Help

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - After matching servicemembers re-entering the civilian work force with
military friendly employers, "Hire a Hero" is stepping outside its box and trying some matchmaking of a different kind. The troop-support organization has teamed with Dreamworks Television and Mark Burnett Productions to help two deserving military couples have their dream weddings. The gesture is a thank you for their service and commitment to the country, according to the Hire a Hero Web site.

"Providing something like this is just great," said Rob Barr, a Hire a
Hero representative. "It's showing support for the troops, and it's kind of giving them hope that there are really people out there that care."

The next step to helping two couples live happily ever after begins at the Hire a
Hero Web site. military couples who plan on marrying later this year can fill out the entry and share the challenges they've faced while trying to plan a wedding with at least one spouse serving their country.

Just the distance during a deployment, for example, can make things nearly impossible, Barr said. Then the occasional tour extension crops up and completely undoes what the couple may have managed to get done.

"Little things like that," he said. "But they're also looking for
military spouses that just said, 'OK. You know what? We're going to go to the courthouse, get married and have a wedding later.'"

Once the midnight July 28 entry deadline passes, it's all up to the
Hollywood folks to choose the two lucky couples for the big "Wedding Day" program that will air on a major TV network this fall, Barr said, adding that he has no idea what's in store for the couples chosen.

"They're kind of keeping that top secret information," he said. "All I was told was that they're going to get ... to have their dream wedding."

Barr said he thinks Hire a
Hero was approached to help find couples because of the group's involvement with helping former "Apprentice" winner Kelly Perdew find applicants to be his assistant.

"To my knowledge, I think they got our information from someone ... who said, 'Hey, use "Hire a
Hero" to look for this kind of person,'" he said.

Hire a Hero 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.

Integration Brought Strength, Credibility to Military, Official Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - Today's
military is stronger and has more credibility among the American people in large part due to a presidential decision 60 years ago to integrate the force, the defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness said. David S.C. Chu credits President Harry S. Truman's 1948 executive order that integrated the military with laying crucial groundwork for success of the all-volunteer force.

Black soldiers had fought in every U.S. war, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the
Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II, Chu noted during an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel. But in most cases, he noted, they served in all-black units with white commanders.

Truman's Executive Order 9981 changed that officially, but, Chu conceded, it didn't take root overnight. Segregated units had to be reconfigured. Tensions had to be overcome.

"It took the better part of a generation and a half to ... really take it from an order from the president to a reality that meant that your race didn't matter," Chu said. But ultimately, Truman's executive order "provided the foundation for the U.S.
military to become one of the United States' most racially integrated institutions," he added.

"What Truman really did was use the armed forces to change American society," Chu said. "The armed forces pride themselves in being leaders in this."

As the
military became a national model in integration, its members put the concept to its first combat test during the Korean War, then in every subsequent conflict leading up to today's war on terror.

The integrated force provides equal opportunity, but also brings strengths that are particularly important in an all-volunteer force, Chu said.

"You've got a broader selection of talent if you recruit everybody or potentially have everyone wanting to join ... your organization," he said. "You have more talent than you would otherwise have."

Today, black servicemembers make up 17 percent of the active-duty force, 9 percent of active-duty officers and just under 6 percent of general and flag officers, officials reported. In addition, black troops make up more than one-quarter of the top three enlisted ranks.

In addition to providing a broad talent base, diversity ensures that the
military looks like the American population it defends, Chu said. That, in turn, helps build public confidence and trust in the institution.

"If the whole society is not part of [the
military], then you don't have the backing of that whole society," Chu said. "You have a backing of a fraction of that society."

The flip side, he said, is that the public recognizes its diverse military has a difficult job and unifies behind it. "That moral authority is crucially important to the military's ability to operate," he said.

Chu pointed to broad American support for its highly diverse
military, as demonstrated in polls in which the public repeatedly ranks the military as its most trusted institution.

As the military looks to the future, it needs to remember the lessons learned as it integrated the force and continue to embrace diversity, Chu said.

"I think it is important to remember this history to be ready to deal with the new elements of diversity coming forward," he said.

Texas Guard Gears Up as Storm Approaches

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - As Tropical Storm Dolly beat a northwestward path over the Gulf of Mexico toward southern
Texas and Mexico, at least 600 Texas National Guard members prepared for storm duty today after being called yesterday by Gov. Rick Perry. Meteorologists expect the storm to reach hurricane strength -- with damaging winds, heavy rains and coastal flooding -- by tomorrow.

Officials said Perry authorized the call for up to 1,200 Texas
military personnel, including the Army and Air National Guard and State Guard, to assist civilian emergency responders preparing for the first storm to threaten the United States this hurricane season. A contingent of State Guard volunteers based out of Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley was available for duty.

Guard members are preparing equipment as the storm approaches. Units are staging equipment in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, with orders to be fully mission-capable by noon tomorrow,
Army Col. Bill Meehan, Texas National Guard spokesman, said.

The National Weather Service reported that Dolly was expected to become a hurricane, with sustained winds of at lease 74 mph, before making landfall tomorrow afternoon. Storm watches were in effect this morning from Brownsville in southern
Texas up the Gulf Coast to Port O'Conner. As of 11 a.m., tropical force winds of more than 65 mph extended out to 160 miles from the storm's center.

Officials also predict rain accumulations of four to eight inches, with isolated deluges of 15 inches, over much of southern Texas during the next few days. Coastal flooding of four to six feet above normal tide levels, with dangerous battering waves, was predicted north of the storm's landfall.

Texas National Guard's Joint Operations Center is maintaining contact with the State Operations Center as both monitor the storm.

Texas Guard officials said they are deploying their state's soldiers and airmen from outside the predicted impact zone to allow affected Guard members to prepare and protect their own families and businesses.

The Guard is preparing to conduct search and rescue operations, provide transportation, and deploy medical teams to support the state's first responders, Meehan said. Guard members also will provide communications, engineering and security support if needed, he added.

Meehan said the state also is deploying more than 3,000 soldiers from the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team this weekend for Operation Iraqi Freedom. And Guard members are still planning to conduct Operation Lone Star, a medical and humanitarian support operation along the Mexican border. They expect to treat nearly 15,000 Mexican residents.

The National Guard continually trains, coordinates and exercises with local and state emergency responders nationwide. More than 400,000 Guard soldiers and airmen are available nationwide, because of Emergency Management Assistance Compacts, should any governor ask for their support.

In September, 250
Texas Guard members mobilized for Hurricane Humberto. It made landfall just east of the Louisiana border as a tropical storm, killing one and causing an estimated $50 million in damage.

Texas Guard members also were mobilized last summer for Tropical Storm Erin, which was downgraded to a tropical depression, and nearly 4,700 Guard members mobilized in August for Hurricane Dean, a deadly Category 5 hurricane, which missed the United States and blew into Mexico.

Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Northern Command Sends Coordinating Cell to Texas for Storm Response

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - U.S. Northern Command has deployed a defense coordination unit to the Joint Operations Center in
Austin, Texas, in anticipation of the landfall of Tropical Storm Dolly in southern Texas. As of 3 p.m. EDT today, the storm packed sustained winds of 70 mph, and meteorologists expect it to attain hurricane status before it makes landfall tomorrow.

The 12-man NorthCom cell deployed yesterday from
Denton, Texas, and is coordinating with federal, state and local officials. The cell is collocated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's regional office.

Civilian agencies are the lead elements. If the civilian agencies need help from the
military, the NorthCom cell is on scene to speed that assistance. "We only work in support of civilian agencies," said Army Col. Laverm "Bullett" Young, commander of the cell and the defense coordinating officer.

The cell also has been working with the U.S. defense attaché in Mexico to cooperate with the Mexican armed services. Dolly is forecast to hit north of Brownsville, Texas, but northeastern Mexico also will experience hurricane or tropical storm winds. "There will be a lot of aircraft flying down there doing search and rescue, if the need arises, and we've been talking in advance of that," Young said.

Forecasters expect between 10 and 20 inches of rain from the storm. "We anticipate flooding will be the biggest problem, but we're preparing for any contingency," Young said.

Sam Houston, Texas, has been designated as a staging area for supplies for the area if needed. Texas has not asked for any aid from the military yet. About 1,200 members of the Texas National Guard have been called to state active duty, and state officials are keeping in close touch with affected communities and with federal and nongovernmental agencies.

The defense coordinating cell normally reports to the U.S.
Army North. When called up like this, the cell reports directly to the commander of U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.

This is not the first time the team has deployed. They worked on coordinating efforts for Hurricane Dean last year and for the series of tornadoes that decimated the community of Eagle Pass, Texas, in April 2007. In addition to Texas, the unit provides support to Louisiana, Oklahoma,
Arkansas, New Mexico and Arizona.



Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Jul. 21, 2008, a $22,042,092 firm-fixed price contract for two MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters. 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 and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

B.L. Harbert International, LLC, Birmingham, Ala., was awarded on Jul. 18, 2008, a $20,000,000 firm-fixed price contract for the design and construction of an
Army Materiel Command headquarters facility and a United States Army Security Assistance Command facility. Work will be performed at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 10, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Oct. 5, 2007, and nine bids were received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity (W91278-08-C-0045).


General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, Inc. Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $9,733,571 cost-plus-fixed-fee research and development delivery order #0004 under a previously awarded indefinite-quantity/indefinite-delivery contract (N00014-05-D-0508) for the development of a Digital Array Radar. Work will be performed in contractor facilities at General Dynamics, Fairfax, Va., (79 percent); REMEC Defense and Space,
San Diego, Calif., (18 percent); and Shenandoah Solutions, Red Lodge, Mont., (3 percent), and work is expected to be completed Jan. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at end of current fiscal year. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va., is the contacting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Eagan, Minn., is being awarded $7,807,353 for firm fixed price delivery order #1408 under a previously awarded contract (N00024-98-D-5202) for logistics support for the AN/UYQ-70 advance display system. Work will be performed in Egan, Minn., and work is to be completed by May 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This offer was not awarded competitively. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity.


Campbellsville Apparel Co., LLC, Campbellsville, Ky.*, is being awarded a maximum $11,866,573.00 firm fixed price, total set aside contract for men's apparel. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. This proposal was originally Web solicited with four responses. This contract is exercising option year two. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance is Sept. 17, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SP0100-06-D-0378).

Pentagon Official Calls Integrated Military 'Model of Diversity'

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - The U.S. armed forces have exemplified racial diversity since integrating 60 years ago, but further efforts are necessary to diversify
military leadership, a Pentagon official said today. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order that led to racial equality among servicemembers. Six decades later, the Defense Department now boasts a diverse work force of roughly 3 million employees.

military has been a model for the nation," Clarence Johnson, DoD's principal director and director of civilian equal employment opportunity, said in an interview. "Other institutions look at us and see what programs that we're putting in place."

Johnson, a former
Air Force colonel, said diversity of the services creates a wider talent pool to recruit from, and allows for a more productive and prepared force.

"We find that readiness does not owe any special allegiance to color, to sex to race," he said. "From the wide populace that we serve, we go out and get the best we can."

In today's
military, minorities make up more than one-third of active duty forces, with blacks comprising more than 17 percent. Black representation in the enlisted forces -- about 13 percent -- is parallel to the amount of blacks represented in the recruiting-age civilian population overall, according to Defense Department statistics.

Meanwhile, Hispanic representation in the
military has grown over the past decade, from about 2 percent to 5 percent among officers overall, and in the enlisted ranks to around 11 percent, Johnson said.

Though the armed forces have made great strides since early integration efforts, a department-sponsored report released this month suggests that major institutional changes may be required to improve diversity among the
military's senior leadership.

The study, published by the nonprofit policy think tank Rand, melds input from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified combatant commands, the
Navy and Marine Corps and other defense agencies.

One policy recommendation highlighted in the report, titled "Planning for Diversity," is to include senior levels of the Defense Department in the push for diversity.

"The highest level of DoD
leadership, not just from the personnel community, but also from other functional communities, needs to be involved in this effort," states a report summary available online.

Echoing the Rand findings, Johnson cited the need for greater representation of minorities and women at senior ranks and grades as a challenge facing the Defense Department.

African-Americans now represent 6 percent of all general and flag officers, and 9 percent of officers overall, levels which have increased steadily over the last decade, according to Defense Department statistics.

Johnson suggested the makeup of the
military's senior levels could achieve greater balance if more minorities entered service academies, Johnson said. He added that blacks are less represented than other races in officer occupations -- career tracks with the best prospect to rise to senior ranks -- with only 20 percent of blacks in tactical operations, while 38 percent of all other races occupy the same fields.

Though not at desired levels, racial diversity among current
military leadership is a factor that improves combat readiness, Johnson said.

"The fact that we have a wide variety of race, a wide variety of skill of other diverse characteristics, [means] we then have different types of people making decisions that can impact the mission, and the mission is going to be better for it," he said.

Johnson said the strength of the Defense Department is its ability to assess itself, and to respond to whatever shortcomings exist.

"I think that the
military is going to be strong, because it will continue to be diverse," he said.

Captain Leads Military Athletes at Olympic Track and Field Trials

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - U.S.
Air Force World Class Athlete Program Capt. Kevin Eastler led Military athletes competing in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team track and field trials by earning his second Olympic berth in the 20-kilometer race walk. U.S. Army WCAP Sgt. John Nunn, who competed in the same event with Eastler at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, finished fourth at the trials on July 5, ending his bid to make Team USA and compete in Beijing.

On an emotional Fourth of July at Hayward Field,
Army WCAP Capt. Michael Mai, a two-time Olympic Trials competitor, finished fifth in the hammer throw with a hurl of 71.75 meters. His first warm-up throw may have been good enough to make Team USA, but the throws that counted were not long enough.

"I tossed out a 75-meter throw that probably would have gotten me second place tonight," said Mai, 30, of Le Mars,
Iowa. "I just couldn't quite get it as far out there as I wanted to when it counted.

"I still got fifth place and represented the U.S.
Army to the best of my ability, which is why I'm here," added Mai, who is stationed at Moffett Field, Calif. "It was the best year I've had in all my years of throwing for the Army, and we'll see what the future brings."

Air Force Capt. James Parker, a 2004 Olympian, placed seventh in the hammer with a throw of 69.97 meters.

Earlier in the eight-day meet,
Army WCAP Spc. Nathaniel Garcia finished seventh in the first heat of the 400-meter hurdles semifinals. His time of 49.52 seconds was not fast enough to advance to the finals.

Air Force 2nd Lt. Dana Pounds finished second in the women's javelin throw with a mark of 57.83 meters but failed to earn an Olympic berth because she did not meet the qualifying standard.

Air Force 1st Lt. Paul Gensic, the only U.S. track and field competitor to medal at the 2007 Military World Games, placed sixth in the pole vault with a height of 5.5 meters -- 18 feet, ½ inch.

Army WCAP distance runner Dan Browne, 33, a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, doubled in the 10,000 meters and marathon at the 2004 Olympics. He finished 14th in the 10,000 meters at Eugene with a time of 28:42.78.

Eastler, 30, of Buckley
Air Force Base, Colo., will be Team USA's only competitor in the men's 20K race walk in Beijing. He was the lone U.S. competitor to meet the Olympic qualifying standard before toeing the start line in Eugene, where a relatively slow pace prevented others from making the team.

Eastler won the early-morning race in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 8 seconds.

Nunn, who finished in 1:30:35, knew he needed to both win the race and meet the qualifying standard of 1:24:30 to secure a berth in the Beijing Games. He took an early lead and separated from the pack during the first two of 20 laps around a 1-kilometer loop outside Autzen Stadium. Eastler and second-place finisher Matthew Boyles of Miami Valley Track Club, however, quickly reeled in Nunn and passed him on the fourth lap.

"I knew he was going to do that," said Eastler, who won by more than a minute. "He needed to get a standard today, so it was expected that he was going to go out on pace. I wasn't in shape to do that today, so I just kind of let him go to see what happened. It's just a lot of pressure on an athlete to try to do both – win and get the standard – so he had a lot of pressure. I just wanted to stay strong and see what happened."

Having already met the qualifying standard, Eastler merely needed to finish the race to earn a trip to China – unless three other walkers beat him and met the standard, which nobody did.

"My only plan was to go out on a solid pace of between 4:20 and 4:25 per kilometer," said Eastler, a 1999 graduate of the U.S.
Air Force Academy. "That's about what I ended up and it worked out."

Nunn said he felt ready for the challenge, but his legs did not cooperate.

"No one went with me [early], which is what I expected, because most of them were just racing for place," Nunn said. "So I figured I would walk it alone, but I've walked the time alone before by myself. I got into the race and things just weren't holding; it wasn't sticking. The first couple kilometers were OK, and then things slowed and I just couldn't get my turnover going. Quite honestly, I don't really have an answer for why. Some days it's on and some days it's not.

"When they passed me," he continued, "I hung with them for just a little bit and I guess I just couldn't get my legs to move. By around six kilometers, I realized it was going to take a lot to try to fight back and get the time that I had already lost. At that point, I figured let's just try to get among the top three. ... It was a shock for me – not quite at all what I fully expected. I've had good speed workouts and good distance sessions. It's hard, because 2012 is a long ways away."

Nunn's coach, Enrique Pena, a seven-time Olympic race walk competitor/coach, seconded that sentiment.

"He was ready to walk under 1:24, for sure," Pena said. "But I don't know what happened with John. It's disappointing for him and for me. He can do it, but sometimes things just don't work out."

Nunn thought of the future while choking back the tears of four tough years of training since he finished 26th at the Olympic Games in Athens.

"I'd really like to at least be a two-time Olympian and take the next four years and train to be in contention in the world," said Nunn, 30, of Evansville, Ind. "This is horribly disappointing, but the sun comes up tomorrow. We'll go on – go home and hug my daughter and keep living and enjoy life and realize there's a next time. It's four years away and that's a long time, but it gives me four more years to focus on my daughter (Ella, age 4) and my training – two things I love.

"It's been an incredible honor and a very humbling experience to be given the chance to train for the Olympics full-time with
Military support and to wear the Army's singlet," he said. "It's always nice to hear 'Go Army.'"

Likewise, Eastler said he could not compete on the international level without
Military support.

"I couldn't do this without the
Air Force, that's for sure," he said. "To compete at this level, you need to train full-time and be dedicated to it. I don't think I could do it any other way."

Now he must compete against the rest of the world's best walkers.

"I had so much focus on today that I'm going to have to sit back and talk with my coach and come up with a game plan," Eastler said. "We'll just have to see how the body holds up."

After competing in the 2007 World Track and Field Championships, Eastler was slowed by persistent pain in his abdomen and underwent sports hernia surgery in December.

"I found a good therapist, trained through some pain, and finally got back," he explained. "I was a little tight today, but I mostly got rid of it."

He also is nagged by knee tendinitis.

"My body's kind of telling me this is the final season, so, yeah, this is it for me after this year," said Eastler, who hopes to improve upon his 21st-place finish in Athens at Beijing. "It's going to be tough for me to do that on my own again – to recreate such a good result. I'm sure going to try, but it's going to be an uphill battle given the injuries I've had."

(Tim Hipps works in the U.S.
Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office.)

Electronic Library Kiosk Bound for Iraq

By Michael McNulty
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - Camp Victory in Iraq is nearly 2,000 miles from the nearest
Army library in Europe. But troops deployed at the sprawling base near Baghdad International Airport soon will have access to a broad spectrum of library resources through an e-Branch kiosk. A team of movers packed and loaded the kiosk July 14 at the European Regional Library Support Center here for shipment to Camp Victory, where it will be installed at the Victory Education Center.

"The kiosk will have a wonderful home here,"
Army Staff Sgt. Jimmy Labas, education programs director at Victory Education Center, said.

Labas noted that the kiosk "offers a wonderful array knowledge and research capabilities" for all servicemembers assigned to the camp. "It truly is a key to success," he said. "We are becoming the leading education center in Iraq, and are grateful to have such a useful tool."

Army Europe Libraries also have kiosks at the Pat Tillman United Service Organizations center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; the Warrior Transition Unit at Kleber Kaserne, near U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, Germany; and the European Regional Library Support Center here.

The e-Branch kiosks are designed to support educational opportunities for troops and deliver electronic library services and information to customers who can't get to a brick-and-mortar library.

The freestanding kiosks are quick and simple to use, with touch-screen
technology and programmed buttons. The buttons mean that servicemembers don't have to remember Web site addresses or search for information. They simply touch the buttons on the screen to go to news, sports, scholarly articles or 24/7 virtual reference services from military librarians.

Users also can access a wide selection of virtual library materials: online books, newspapers, journals, magazines, dictionaries and encyclopedias. Additionally, customers can find free information on topics such as education, business, law, marriage and family, health and fitness, government and travel.

The kiosks are not meant to duplicate what Internet cafes provide, such as quick access to e-mail and social networking sites. Rather, they were designed to help bridge the gap of information, education and recreation services that
Army libraries normally supply.

"The kiosks are just one example of how Army Europe Libraries are attempting to reach out and enrich the quality of life for soldiers, no matter where they are," Meg Tulloch, Europe Region librarian, said.

Richard Hanusey, a former Europe Region librarian who died in 2004, earned the
Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation's White Plume Award in part for initiating the e-Branch kiosk project. The White Plume recognizes outstanding service and contribution to MWR and family programs. It is the Army's highest medal for achievement in support of Army MWR endeavors.

(Michael McNulty works at the European Regional Library Support Center.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Nominee Pledges Support to Warfighters

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - The four-star general nominated to be the
Air Force’s next chief of staff today told Capitol Hill legislators that if he's confirmed he'll continue to support warfighters deployed around the globe. The Air Force serves as the cornerstone of America's defense, Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at his confirmation hearing.

The Air Force, Schwartz said, is "capable of delivering combat power and support to joint warfighters any time, any place."

Schwartz is commander of U.S. Transportation Command based at Scott
Air Force Base, Ill. On July 10, President Bush nominated him to succeed former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who resigned on June 6 along with former Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne over missteps in the Air Force's handling of nuclear materials.

"I truly believe that the
Air Force is still, fundamentally, a healthy organization comprised of dedicated professionals," Schwartz told committee members.

Schwartz pledged to support the Air Force's 700,000 active duty, Guard and reserve servicemembers and its civilian employees.

"These men and women are a national asset, and together we will recommit ourselves to our core values and uphold the highest standards of excellence that have made our
Air Force the best in the world," Schwartz said. "Our nation deserves nothing less."

Schwartz also pledged to improve and transform Air Force processes, organizations and systems and maintain demanding performance standards to achieve the highest state of
military efficiency and combat readiness.

"We will be ready if called upon," Schwartz vowed.

At the same time, he added, the
Air Force will be "mindful of cost" as a good steward of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Defending America and supporting U.S. joint warfighters "is our No. 1 priority," Schwartz said.

Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who accompanied Schwartz at the confirmation hearing, was chosen by President Bush to succeed Schwartz as commander of TransCom. McNabb is currently the Air Force's vice chief of staff.

"I believe our global mobility is one of our nation's true crown jewels; it gives us the strategic ability to move," McNabb told committee members. No other nation can match the U.S.
military's ability to deliver troops and equipment to any place on the globe in time or war or for humanitarian missions, McNabb pointed out.

U.S. Transportation Command's success depends upon the strength of the total force, McNabb said. "We are a nation at war, and supporting our warfighters will be my No. 1 priority," McNabb vowed.

Donley Pledges to Restore Air Force's Reputation, Credibility

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2008 - The acting secretary of the
Air Force told Capitol Hill legislators during a confirmation hearing here today that he'll work to restore the Air Force's reputation for excellence. Michael B. Donley told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he'll work to re-establish national confidence in the Air Force in the wake of missteps in the handling of nuclear materials that led to the resignations of the service's top military and civilian leaders.

The most urgent tasks for the new Air Force
leadership are "to steady this great institution, restore its inner confidence and your confidence in the leadership team and rebuild our external credibility," Donley said.

Donley became acting
Air Force secretary after the June 6 resignations of Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, spurred by a report on the erroneous shipment of four non-nuclear missile trigger components instead of helicopter batteries to Taiwan in August 2006. A year after the mistaken delivery, an Air Force B-52 bomber crew inadvertently flew across the United States carrying six armed nuclear cruise missiles.

"The mere existence of weapons with such destructive power alters the international landscape – and rightfully brings much scrutiny to bear on how they are handled," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told airmen and civilian employees during a June 9 visit to Air Combat Command at Langley
Air Force Base, Va.

Donley, who also served as acting Air Force secretary for seven months in 1993, told legislators that he created a nuclear task force on June 26 "to synchronize corrective actions under way across major commands and to unify these efforts at the strategic level."

The nuclear task force is to provide its recommendations at the end of September, Donley said, adding that Gates has asked former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger to critique how the
Air Force stores and manages its nuclear materials.

"I have met with Dr. Schlesinger and his panel, and the
Air Force schedule is structured so that we can incorporate their recommendations as we move forward," Donley told legislators.

Donley said he approves of Gates' decision to reopen the process to replace aging Air Force KC-135 aerial refueling tanker planes. In June, the Government Accountability Office found improper practices related to the $35 billion tanker contract awarded in February to a Northrop-Grumman/EADS/Airbus consortium. Rival bidder Boeing Co. protested the award of the contract.

In June, Gates directed John J. Young Jr., undersecretary of defense for acquisition,
technology and logistics, to replace the Air Force as the source selection authority for the tanker contract.

"Secretary Young will have whatever support he needs from the Air Force to continue forward," Donley pledged. "The
Air Force needs a new tanker; the joint warfighters need a new tanker. This is a critical capability that facilitates the projection of U.S. influence around the globe."

Donley said he has directed senior Air Force acquisition officials to ascertain lessons derived from the GAO's decision regarding the air tanker issue.

"We need to strengthen confidence in the
Air Force and DoD's capability to manage these large, complex competitions and successfully withstand contractor protests," Donley said.

Donley said that after attending numerous recent meetings with both senior and junior servicemembers and civilians, he is confident the Air Force is eager to move on.

"Without exception,
leadership and airmen at all levels are ready to put the difficulties of the past few months behind them, to learn the appropriate lessons from these experiences and to move forward," Donley said.

The way ahead for the
Air Force, Donley said, includes "a recommitment to upholding the high standards of excellence that have always been the Air Force's hallmark, and for our core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do to underpin every action by every airman at all times."

The Air Force is an all-volunteer organization of professionals who are dedicated to excellence, Donley said.

"There is no quicker recovery of our inner confidence and credibility than the power of tens of thousands of airmen recommitting to our own high standards," Donley emphasized. "Our values and our high standards form the core of all
Air Force actions."

Those high standards serve the Air Force well during the global war on
terrorism, Donley said, and point the way to a bright future.