Military News

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bush Denounces Russia's 'Brutal Escalation' in Georgia

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 11, 2008 - President Bush today expressed deep concern over reports that Russia has escalated a conflict with Georgia, calling the ramped-up moves by Moscow "unacceptable in the 21st century," and urging the country to accept a peace agreement. Fighting that began last week in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia has today broadened "beyond the zone of conflict," to include a Russian attack on the Georgian town of Gori, and threats to the capital city of Tbilisi, the president said.

"If these reports are accurate, these Russian actions would represent a dramatic and brutal escalation of the conflict in Georgia," Bush said during a news conference today at the White House.

He added that such actions would be inconsistent with assurances by Russia to restore forces in South Ossetia to pre-fighting levels, one element of a peace agreement that Georgia, a former Soviet republic, also endorsed.

Other pieces of the treaty, which diplomatic officials are pursuing in Moscow, include an immediate cease-fire, the withdrawal of forces from the conflict zone and a commitment to refrain from using force.

"The Georgian government has accepted the elements of a peace agreement that the Russian government previously said it would be willing to accept," Bush said.

But hopes for an agreement appear to be fading as the situation unfolds in Georgia, where the U.S. State Department today helped to evacuate at least 170 American citizens from Georgia as well as dependents of embassy staff in Tbilisi, according to reports.

Georgia declared its independence from the then-Soviet Union in 1991. However, many South Ossetia residents continue to profess Russian allegiance.

The situation was already tense when Russian tanks and troops on Aug. 8 crossed the border into South Ossetia, where they were aided by regional separatists. Clashes escalated a day later in and around Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital, as Russian aircraft were reported to have bombed that city, as well as Abkhazia, another breakaway region in Georgia.

President Bush, who had just met with his national security team before today's news conference, said evidence reveals Russian forces may soon begin bombing the civilian airport in Tblisi. He added that Moscow may be attempting to depose the democratic government in Georgia.

"Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people," Bush said. "Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."

Bush said Russia's actions have "substantially damaged" the country's standing in the world, jeopardize Moscow's relations with the U.S. and Europe, and raise serious questions about its intentions in Georgia and the region.

He urged Russia to reserve its course and accept the peace agreement as a first step toward resolving the conflict.

"It is time for Russia to be true to its word and to act to end this crisis," Bush said.

New Air Force Leaders Pledge to 'Reinvigorate' Service

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - Newly sworn-in
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz today pledged to "reinvigorate" his service's acquisition woes and mishandling of nuclear weapons. Schwartz, who was sworn in as chief of staff earlier today, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that the service is fundamentally sound. "It doesn't mean we're perfect," he said. "And we certainly have work to do, things to fix, fences to mend."
But the
Air Force being able to ship 2,000 Georgian soldiers from Baghdad home to Tbilisi this past weekend demonstrated that "we know how to operate, and we continue to support the joint team in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Precision and reliability are the
Air Force standard regardless of job or specialty, Schwartz said. "We will return the vigor and the rigor to all the processes and missions ... for which we have been entrusted," he added.

The general said the service will "work with a vengeance" to fix areas that are substandard. "And the United States Air Force will remain the finest
Air Force on the planet," he said.

Schwartz shared the dais with Acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley. The secretary, who is in his second stint as acting secretary, said he and the general have several issues to address including the nuclear enterprise; care for wounded warriors; the service's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance posture; the acquisition process; and modernization and recapitalization. Still, the
Air Force's main priority, is "our continued support for the global war on terror," he said.

Air Force leaders are undertaking efforts this month to look at all those issues, Donley said, "and expect to address several of them, both in the immediate term and the longer term, within the next month or two."

Donley and Schwartz replace
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked for their resignations following an investigation that revealed a decline in the Air Force's nuclear program focus, performance and effective leadership.

Donley said he and Schwartz will examine all reports of internal Air Force investigations into incidents at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in which nuclear weapons were unknowingly flown to Louisiana, and with Taiwan, in which parts of a Minuteman missile were shipped to Taiwan mislabeled as helicopter batteries. They are waiting for input from a panel led by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger.

"So we'll be able to take input from the Schlesinger panel, then take about another 30 days to work out our roadmap," Donley said. "I wouldn't want to speculate on the organizational structure that comes out of this. What I can promise you is that we're taking a comprehensive look at this issue. So this is not onesies and twosies and a handful of fixes. This is across the board."

Schwartz agreed, saying changes in the nuclear program will be "end to end." He said that when dealing with nuclear weapons, perfection is the standard.

Schwartz and Donley said servicemembers they have talked to are more than willing to put in the hours and effort necessary reinvigorate the service. "My pledge to all today is that the
Air Force will keep the promise to our teammates and to our families and to all our partners who rely on us every day," Schwartz said. "That trust is critical, is born from expertise, respect for our joint partners, and rigorous accountability. We will work together to reinvigorate the Air Force's institutions and show ourselves completely worthy of America's trust."



AM General, LLC, South Bend, Ind., was awarded on Aug. 8, 2008, a $247,546,000 firm-fixed price contract for high-mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles. Work will be performed in Mishawaka, Ind., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Mar. 17, 2006. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001).

BAE Systems, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., was awarded on Aug. 8, 2008, a $76,185,539 firm-fixed price contract for the procurement of Operation Desert Storm situational awareness kits in support of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Work will be performed in York, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 30, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Jun. 3, 2008. U.S.
Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).

Sodexho Management Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., was awarded on Aug. 11, 2008, a $8,475,017 firm-fixed price contract for nutrition care services at
military treatment facilities. Work will be performed at military installations across the United States and is expected to be completed by Oct. 17, 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Jun. 28, 2007, and five bids were received. U.S. Army Medical Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is the contracting activity (W81K04-08-C-0003).

Mantech Telecommunications and Info System, Chantilly, Va., was awarded on Aug. 8, 2008, a $8,053,055 time and materials contract for logistics and information
technology services in support of program manager intelligence and effects. Work will be performed in West Fort Hood, Texas and Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and Germany, and is expected to be completed by Aug. 7, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Apr. 28, 2008. LCMC Acquisition Center, Alexandria, Va., is the contracting activity (W909MY-08-C-0045).

Air Force

Syracuse Research Corp., North Syracuse, N.Y., is being awarded an indefinite delivery requirements contract for $95,000,000. The purpose of this contract is to obtain the expertise to support the 453rd Electronic Warfare Squadron in developing and maintaining the Sensor Beam program. At this time, no dollar amount has been obligated.
Air Force Intelligences Surveillance and reconnaissance Agency at Lackland AFB is the contracting activity (FA7037-08-D-0002).


Siemens Corp., Research Inc., Princeton, N.J., is being awarded a $500,338 increment of a $11,256,966
technology investment agreement for the development of deep bleeder acoustic coagulation technology and prototype devices. Work will be performed in Princeton, N.J., (31 percent), Issaquah, Wash., (26 percent), Seattle, Wash., (15 percent) and College Station, Texas, (3 percent) and is expected to be completed in Feb. 2010. A portion of the funds ($500,338) will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. DARPA issued a solicitation in Federal Business Opportunities on Feb. 29, 2008, and over 10 proposals were received. The contracting activity is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., (HR0011-08-3-0004).


Raytheon Co., from McKinney, Texas, was awarded a $15,280,290 firm fixed-price requirements contract for continued life cycle contractor support to sustain Forward Looking Infrared Radar systems and subsystems for the
Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for a period of performance of 18 months after contract award. Variations of the FLIR systems are used on the MH-60, MH-47, MH-6, and CV-22 aircraft. This requirement is a follow-on contract to the existing contract, USZA95-03-C-0004. This contract was awarded in accordance with sole source procedures. The contract number for this effort is H92241-08-D-0007.

Official Travelers Can Claim Reimbursement for Excess Baggage Fees

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - Servicemembers traveling for official business, including deployments, will continue to receive full reimbursement for reasonable, authorized excess baggage fees, defense officials said. A recently updated fact sheet from the Department of Defense Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Committee explains department policy regarding excess baggage in light of new charges many airlines have imposed for checked baggage.

As airlines struggle to offset increased fuel and operating costs, many have started charging additional fees for services such as baggage shipment, the fact sheet explains. Commercial airline practices vary widely regarding fees for shipped baggage. Some charge for each bag, others for a second or third bag, and others for any bag over a specified weight limit.

Many airlines waive some or all excessive baggage fees for
military members traveling on official orders, said Dave Castelveter, vice president of communications for the Air Transport Association.

But for those who don't, the fees are reimbursable if authorized on the travel order, according to the DoD fact sheet.

Servicemembers' commands will reimburse any fees charged for the first checked bag. However, the command may opt to limit how much it will pay for additional luggage in light of the length of the travel and mission requirements, the fact sheet explains.

To claim reimbursement, the traveler must submit the receipt and claim the charge on a travel voucher.

The excess baggage fee issue gained widespread attention after news reports that a commercial airline had charged a soldier deploying to Iraq $100 to cover the cost of a third piece of luggage. The incident prompted Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander George J. Lisicki to fire off a letter to the Air Transport Association asking for a break. Lisicki asked the ATA to negotiate an agreement with its member airlines to exempt servicemembers traveling on official orders from paying fees on a third piece of luggage.

"I completely understand the financial constraints the airline industry is in, but I also know the
military traveler is an extremely small fraction of the total passengers carried," he wrote. "Those who wear the uniform today are a special class of citizen who enables everyone else to enjoy every liberty our great country holds dear. They deserve special treatment because they have earned it."

Lisicki emphasized that he wasn't asking the airlines to give
military travelers first-class lounge privileges or other executive perks. "What I am requesting is for your member airlines to begin allowing all military personnel traveling on orders to check a third bag without being charged," he said. "This should not be a difficult decision to reach, but it is one that needs to be made."

James C. May, Air Transport Association president and chief executive officer, explained in his response to Lisicki that
military members on official duty travel at rates negotiated between General Services Administration and individual airlines. May said he expects those contractual arrangements -- reached before spiraling fuel prices forced the airlines to begin charging fees for excess baggage and other services -- to be renegotiated in the future.

Until then, many individual airlines have established policies creating special exceptions from certain baggage limitations for Defense Department travelers on official orders, he told Lisicki.

May said he would forward Lisicki's letter to ATA's member airlines, which by law must make all fare-setting and service-policy determinations independently. These policies include excess-baggage fees. Meanwhile, May emphasized the commercial airline industry's "long and proud history of supporting our nation's
military men and women."

"They routinely offer special fares for military personnel and families, attempt when possible to accommodate unplanned schedule changes and generally seek to do what they can to show their appreciation," he wrote.

May said the airlines also support the Fisher House Foundation and various other programs that support the

Rice Urges Ceasefire, Diplomatic Solution in Georgia

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today urged Russia to deliver on its pledge to cease fire in Georgia, as the United States draws up humanitarian aid plans in the wake of recent fighting in the former Soviet republic. Rice spoke to reporters at the White House after briefing President Bush on diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Georgia, where clashes with Russia broke out last week in the breakaway region of South Ossetia and escalated over ensuing days.

"The Russians need to stop their
military operations, as they have apparently said that they will, but those military operations really do now need to stop because calm needs to be restored," said Rice, emphasizing the need for a cease-fire by both sides.

"There then will be international efforts to facilitate the withdrawal of forces from the zone of conflict," she said. Rice added

Following troop withdrawal, the focus can then center on resolving what Rice described as "the long-standing frozen conflicts" of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two pro-Russian enclaves inside Georgia that bore much of the recent violence.

Rice said the United States will continue to work diplomatically with all involved parties and welcomed efforts by the European Union and France to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

"But the most important thing right now is that these military operations need to stop," she said.

Meanwhile, the secretary reiterated U.S. support of Georgian territorial integrity, sovereignty and its democratically elected government.

"We are reviewing our options for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Georgia," she said.

Soldier Wins Gold Medal, Sets Olympic Record

By Mary Beth Vorwerk and Tim Hipps
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 -
Army Spc. Glenn Eller won the gold medal in double trap shooting at the Summer Olympics here today, setting an Olympic record with a total score of 190. Eller's teammate, Army Spc. Jeff Holguin, finished fourth. Both soldiers are members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, based at Fort Benning, Ga.

Eller went into the final round leading by four shots and hit 45 out of 50 targets to win the first shooting gold for Team USA in Beijing.

Eller is a three-time Olympian. He finished 15th in 2000 and 17th in the last summer Olympic Games. He claimed the gold medal at the 2007 Korea World Cup as well as the 2007 World Cup Final. He also took the Silver Medal at the 2008 "Good Luck Beijing" International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup. Holguin claimed the silver medal in men's double trap at the 2007 Pan-American Games and won the bronze medal at the World Cup USA in May.

In the men's 10-meter air rifle event over the weekend, two-time Olympian and U.S.
Army Marksmanship Unit member Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker placed 23rd with a total score of 591, while 19-year old U.S. Military Academy Cadet Stephen Scherer took the 27th spot with 590.

Parker will compete Aug. 17, the final day of the shooting competition, in the men's 50-meter three-position rifle, his second event of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Along with double trap, shooters are competing today in the men's 50-meter free pistol event at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.

Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski, a three-time Olympian, will compete for the United States in men's free pistol. Szarenski claimed the bronze medal at the "Good Luck Beijing" 2008 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in April, the first World Cup medal won by a U.S. shooter in men's free pistol since 2000.

World Class Athlete Program shooter Staff Sgt. Keith Sanderson, 33, of San Antonio, is scheduled to compete Aug. 16 in the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event.

Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Elizabeth "Libby" Callahan, 56, of Columbia, S.C., will make her fourth Olympic appearance in the women's sport pistol event tomorrow.

Army Marksmanship Unit shotgun shooter Pfc. Vincent Hancock, 19, of Eatonton, Ga., set a world record in every skeet-shooting event at age 18. He will toe the line Aug. 16 in Beijing.

Army World Class Athlete Program Greco-Roman heavyweight wrestler Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers will compete in the 264.5-pound weight class Aug. 14.

Byers, a world champion in 2002, is accompanied in China by World Class Athlete Program teammate and training partner Spc. Timothy Taylor, whom Byers defeated in the Olympic team trials.

"I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and Glenn Eller was in Houston shooting by himself," said Holguin, who joined the marksmanship unit in the spring of 2007. "All of us are now shooting together in the marksmanship unit with great competition day in and out among us, and it's just improved all of our games.

"The hardest part of this Olympic experience is waiting for the day to get here," he continued. "I wanted to compete at the highest level of clay target shooting. To do that, I had to commit myself to the sport. The U.S. Army and the USAMU have given me the necessary resources to compete and win at the level required to win an Olympic medal."

As Holguin makes his Olympic debut, Eller, who joined the
Army in 2006, is competing in this third Olympics. He placed 17th in 2004 and 12th in 2000.

"Growing up, I always wanted to be an Olympian," Eller said. "The Olympics were greater in every aspect than I had anticipated, both in highs and lows. The emotions involved are so great because of the years of training that go into that one day of competition."

World Class Athlete Program boxing coach retired Staff Sgt. Basheer Abdullah, the U.S. head coach in the Athens games, will serve as a technical advisor for Team USA.

WCAP boxer Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Downs won Team USA's light-heavyweight spot at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Houston but did not get the weight class qualified to compete in Beijing. He made the trip to China to serve as a training partner. WCAP fencer Spc. Cody Nagengast also is serving as a training partner for Team USA's squad.

(Mary Beth Vorwerk works with Shooting USA. Tim Hipps works for the U.S.
Army Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)

Behavioral Health Conference Looks for Best Ways to Help Veterans

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - Behavioral health issues affecting veterans returning from deployment took center stage yesterday during the first day of a three-day conference in Bethesda, Md. In collaboration with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is hosting "Paving the Road Home: The National Behavioral Health Conference and Policy Academy on Returning Veterans and Their Families."

"This ... conference and policy academy is really designed, overall, to help states and territories and the
District of Columbia think about new approaches, particularly approaches that blend expertise and resources from multiple contributors," said Kathryn Power, director of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services. "It's going to provide framework to consider different approaches, dialogue with colleagues, and work toward a unified plan that they can take to their states to ensure that veterans have the [mental health] services they need and want."

SAMHSA's deputy administrator challenged conference attendees to work together beyond the conference to make that happen.

"Whether we're from the federal government, whether from state [or] local government, the research community or wherever you come from today ... look for ways that we can address the needs that those men and women return with," said Navy Rear Adm. Eric Broderick. "Whether we're from SAMHSA, or the VA, or DoD, we each have a role to play in addressing those needs."

For the director of the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, the effort to tap any and all best practices for treating veterans returning with behavioral issues officially began in June.

That's when ground was broken for the new National Intrepid Center of Excellence on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, said Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Loree Sutton. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund will design and build the facility dedicated to research, diagnosis and treatment of
military personnel and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and psychological health issues, according to the center's Web site. The fund, a nonprofit organization supporting the nation's troops and their families, is scheduled to complete construction in late 2009 and will transfer the center to the Defense Department then.

"We've come up with a 'center of centers' concept because we've realized that none of us have all of the answers," Sutton said. "We brought in four existing centers that have been doing great work for a long time."

The centers Sutton cited as part of National Intrepid Center of Excellence are the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Center for Deployment Psychology, the Deployment Health Clinical Center and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.

Providing the resources is not enough, however, said Ellen Embry, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness. Servicemembers often are hesitant to seek help for behavioral or mental health issues, she said.

The stigma associated with seeking or receiving mental health care is nearly impossible to quantify, Embry noted. "That's why I personally appreciate the expertise and counsel as you formulate better mental care policies, particularly to reduce stigma," she said.

That is the key to encouraging returning veterans to seek the help they may need, former Marine Sgt. Dan Taslitz said. The stigma of seeking help for a mental health issue stems from the thought that those types of problems indicate a lack of strength, something with which servicemembers very strongly identify, he explained.

"Stigma is a huge component in the inability for servicemembers to effectively seek support and care," Taslitz said. "It doesn't matter how good your opportunities are, how effective your integration of community and
military and Veterans Affairs programs are if you don't ... [open] the door for participation in a way that men and women will walk through, it's not going to work."

Taslitz is currently with ONE Freedom, a nonprofit organization providing information to combat veterans and their families.

Yesterday's conference included seven concurrent breakout sessions dealing with everything from suicide prevention and meeting the needs of
military families and children to addressing mental health and substance abuse in returning veterans and their families.

The policy academy portion of the conference, which began today, will continue tomorrow with financing and benefit structures, setting priorities and integrating best practices among the topics to be covered. Strategies for handling mental health issues among veterans and their families will be developed, and participating state entities will exchange information and ideas they've put into practice.

“Worth Fighting For: Inspiration From Home”

WAYNE, N.J. – “Thank you.” It’s a small phrase that can make all the difference in the world for U.S. military men and women around the globe, but so often it goes unused, forgotten in the chaos and egotism of everyday life. Author Ashley Ann Serafin, however, is shouting “Thank you!” from the rooftops with her new book, Worth Fighting For: Inspiration From Home (published by AuthorHouse), a tribute to those who serve each day so that “we are able to rest peacefully each night and live the American Dream.”
In each of its 52 chapters – one for each week of the year – Worth Fighting For reminds the men and women of the U.S.
military serving both domestically and overseas that they are loved, respected and prayed for.

“Worth Fighting For was written to serve as a reminder that no matter where our
military is at the moment, they are forever in our hearts and we will forever be grateful for the sacrifices they make daily,” says Serafin. “Our liberty is of high value and we are so thankful for the dedicated soldiers who have served us in the past and the soldiers that are presently serving our beautiful country.”

It is Serafin’s hope that her book will inspire those in service to continue building their faith in God and remain strong in their convictions.

“When our
military prepares to leave the United States, they are given the tools to be stronger, but it is equally important to remain healthy in the mind as it is in body,” says Serafin. “This book is to be a reminder to keep fighting for what we all believe in and to never take their eye off the end result. I hope this book supports all of their hopes and dreams and brings them home safely to their beloved friends and family.”

A graduate of Wayne Valley High School, Ashley Ann Serafin has studied acting with the N.J. School of Dramatic Arts and the Unstoppable Business School in New York City. Worth Fighting For: Inspiration From Home is Serafin’s first published book, although she has also contributed to the book Guerrilla Networking by Jay Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann. For more information, visit

AuthorHouse is the premier publishing house for emerging authors and new voices in literature. For a complimentary copy of this book for review, members of the media can contact the AuthorHouse Promotional Services Department by calling 888-728-8467 or emailing (When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.)

Retired Army Marksman Finishes 21st in Olympic Trap Shooting

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - It rained on what might have been four-time Olympian Bret Erickson's final appearance on the world's grandest shotgun shooting stage, literally and figuratively. The retired
Army sergeant first class, a former member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, competed in the Barcelona, Atlanta and Athens Olympic Games, but finished in a four-way tie for 21st place in the trap event here Aug. 10.

"This year, truthfully, I absolutely 100 percent believed was my year," said Erickson, 47, a native of Bennington, Neb., who lives in Muenster, Texas. "I was ahead of schedule all year long. I was going into World Cup events with the goal of just making the finals, and not only made the finals, but won a [World Cup] bronze here in April and a silver in Germany last month.

"I was really on top of my game -- haven't felt this good in 10 or 15 years," he said.

Erickson, however, performed poorly on the Beijing shooting range on Aug. 9 and stood 33rd among 35 competitors entering the next day's second qualification round. The constant rain, therefore, only dampened his spirits.

"It's very disappointing, because I'm shooting as good as I've ever shot," he said. "I'm ranked third in the world, and I was a serious medal contender. To go out there and just lose it in one day, that's the Olympics. You wait four years and hope it's your day. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I ran into some problems with my game and just didn't have time to fix them."

Czech Republic's David Kostelecky won the gold medal by posting an Olympic final record with 25 perfect shots and a total score of 146. Italy's Giovanni Pellielo, who missed two shots in the final, won his second consecutive Olympic silver medal with a 143 total. Russia's Alexey Alipov claimed the bronze medal by prevailing in a shoot-off against two-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Diamond of Australia.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Dominic Grazioli, of Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, was Team USA's other competitor in the event. He finished tied with Erickson with a five-round score of 113, eight points behind the leading finalists.

Erickson temporarily retired from competitive shooting in 1999, but after taking two years off, he "started this whole crazy thing again," he said. Bothered most of the year by shoulder soreness, Erickson said he soon will undergo surgery, take some time off to recover, then decide if he wants to make a run at the 2012 Olympics in London. He runs the Willawalla Creek Shooting Center, where he coaches young shotgun shooters.

"In conjunction with USA Shooting, I'm trying to develop some more junior camps," said Erickson, who retired from the
Army in 2005. "We've got to fill the gap. We've got to bring somebody up to replace us old guys."

Erickson suffered a heart attack during a 2-mile run at Fort Benning, Ga., just four weeks before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he bounced back to finish 13th in both trap and double trap, his finest Olympic performance.

Then Army Marksmanship Unit teammates Staff Sgt. Mark Weeks, a certified emergency medical technician, and Staff Sgt. William Keever, an Olympic skeet shooter in 2000, saved Erickson's life when he collapsed that day in Georgia.

Weeks will take Team USA's reins from retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Woodhouse, four-time U.S. Olympic shotgun coach, on Sept. 1. He said he may not let Erickson ride off into the Texas sunset just yet.

"I seriously made up my mind that this was it," Erickson said. "But the new coach, ... you could see inside that he was OK with me shooting badly here. So I asked him what he was so happy about, and he said, 'You can't quit like this. You're going to be back.' And I said, 'No, I'm not.' And he said, 'Oh, yeah, you are.'

"He's the same guy who CPRed me and brought me back to life," Erickson said, "so it's kind of handy to have him around." Likewise, Erickson has been a handy shotgun shooter to have around.

"I've been to China four times, but only twice to this range," said Erickson, a six-time U.S. national champion. "Yesterday is getting foggy, let alone 10 or 15 years ago. I've been doing this so long they all run together after awhile, but this place is beautiful. This is a state-of-the art range and the [Olympic athletes'] village is fantastic. I would put the village probably second to Barcelona, and that's only because in Barcelona you're right on the Mediterranean.

"Here in Beijing," he continued, "the service, the smiles, and the friendly people have been just unbelievable. It's been a great experience. I wish I could go home with a medal, but as I said three times prior, maybe next time."

Somewhat like New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre, Erickson refuses to fully commit to retirement.

"We'll have to talk with him," he said while gesturing toward Weeks. "He's trying to keep me around. He's saying, 'I'm going to take over the coaching job and lose all my veterans. Come on, guys, give me a break. Throw me a bone.'

"So I don't know. I'll be off next year, for sure. I've got to get my shoulder done. I've got to go under the knife. Then in a couple years, we'll see."

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

Civil Affairs Sailors Work to Improve Humanitarian Effort Outcomes

By Kristen Noel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - The
Navy's budding Civil affairs force will help sustain U.S. military humanitarian efforts in developing countries, the force's commander told online journalists and bloggers in an Aug. 8 teleconference. Many past humanitarian missions were completed with little thought to how the country would maintain the project, Navy Capt. Robert S. McKenna, commander of the Maritime Civil Affairs Group, explained. For example, he said, a school would be built without attention to who would attend the school, who would teach, or where the budget for maintenance and teaching materials would come from.

"So now," McKenna said, "instead of doing this in an ad hoc nature, we're building a force that understands
Civil affairs and understands effects-based operations."

McKenna explained that the Maritime Civil Affairs Group, which was established in July 2006, spent the past two years creating a training program to develop
Civil affairs teams. Since the Navy never had a civil affairs force, he said, officials solicited the assistance of the Army to craft the six-month course.

The training, McKenna said, familiarizes sailors with the 16 functional areas that form the basis of
Civil affairs work. Sailors also receive training in foreign languages and port assessment, and they complete a month-long expeditionary combat skills course, he said.

"We can't make experts, obviously, in 16 different areas," he said. "So, they know enough about those areas to be able to go out and do a good assessment." Sailors are considered civil affairs generalists when they complete the training, McKenna explained.

The Maritime
Civil Affairs Group already has deployed teams to Africa, Iraq, Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean to assist with ongoing civil affairs and humanitarian missions.

"We have another team that just departed to go to the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa," he said. "They're going over there to do a 45-day pre-deployment site survey in preparation for a commitment, where we'll send two teams in December for a six-month deployment."

Civil affairs forces' role, McKenna said, is to provide strategy and planning for humanitarian projects and to advise combatant commanders and Navy component commanders. He added that civil affairs teams should be on the ground long before a ship arrives, assessing the area's needs.

"We need to be out way ahead of the ship so we can establish those relationships that we need, and we can liaison with civil authorities there," he said. "And we can find out where they need help and where we can give help."

Despite involvement in a few current missions, McKenna said, it's going to take time for the
Navy to build a professional Civil affairs force.

"I think over the next five to 10 years you're going to see this force grow and become more widely known and more widely used," he said. "And it's going to become a strong force for our national defense."

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

Air Force Welcomes New Chief of Staff

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 12, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today that he has no doubt the new
Air Force chief of staff will "give his all" to the job. Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz became the Air Force's 19th chief of staff during a ceremony today at Bolling Air Force Base here.

"[Schwartz's] goal is to recommit the
Air Force to the high standards of excellence that have always been its hallmark," Gates said. "He is one who has lived the core values of airmen and women: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do."

Gates said Schwartz "is the right man at the right time for this demanding job" because of his experience and expertise to further prepare the Air Force for "challenges on and beyond the horizon."

Some of these challenges include modernizing the
Air Force's aging fighter and tanker fleets, restoring trust in the Air Force's stewardship of nuclear weapons and related materiel, protecting space and cyberspace and making the most effective use of air power in counterinsurgency operations while maintaining strategic deterrence and technological superiority, Gates said.

"Airmen and women led by General Schwartz are going after these tasks with zeal and, in so doing, will write new chapters of greatness for the
Air Force," he said.

Schwartz said he is "humbled and honored" to serve as Air Force chief of staff. He reflected on the "incredible journey" he and his wife, Suzie, have had in the Air Force and the journey today's airmen have embarked on amid the global war on terror.

"We stand on a foundation built through blood and sweat of those who have gone before us," he said. "Through sacrifice and devotion alongside our joint and coalition partners, we continue to serve together in the defense of liberty."

He also noted the challenges recently faced by the
Air Force regarding scrutiny over the service's handling of its nuclear weapons program. This eventually led to the resignation of Schwartz's predecessor, retired Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley, and former Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne.

"Knowing our nation expects our very, very best, we certainly have some things to fix, some fences to mend and some challenges to overcome," the general said. "We will show ourselves worthy of the sacred trust our
leaders, our joint brethren and the American people place in us, because this business is all about trust."

Prior to becoming chief of staff, Schwartz spent nearly three years as commander of U.S. Transportation Command, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he was the single manager for global air, land and sea transportation for the Defense Department.

Schwartz began his Air Force career in 1973 after graduating from the U.S.
Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in political science and international affairs. During his 35-year career, he has logged more than 4,200 flying hours in a variety of aircraft and participated in war and peacetime operations in Vietnam, Iraq and Cambodia.

Schwartz served in several other command assignments, including Special Operations Command Pacific, Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, and 11th
Air Force. He also served as director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.