Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The "People" in the PLA: Recruitment, Training, and Education in China's Military

This volume represents the latest in the series published by the Strategic Studies Institute and describes the advances and reforms the PLA has made in its recruitment, officer and NCO training and education, and mobilization. As part of its larger reform effort to modernize and transform its military into a technologically sophisticated force, the PLA has implemented a number of measures aimed at training up a “new-type” officer for its modernized forces—one capable of operating effectively in a technologically advanced “informationalized” environment. This volume sheds light on such important questions as how the PLA’s personnel system is adapting to fulfill the requirements of a military force capable of “winning local wars under informationalized conditions” and how the PLA is cultivating a new generation of officers and what capabilities these new officers will likely possess.


DoD Announces Activation Of Unified Geographic Command

The Department of Defense today announced the activation of United States Africa Command, the sixth unified geographic command within the DoD unified command structure.

"It is, at its heart, a different kind of command with a different orientation, one that we hope and expect will institutionalize a lasting security relationship with Africa, a vast region of growing importance in the globe," said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

U.S. Africa Command will coordinate
military-to-military contacts and focus on relationships between the United States and 53 African nations, as well as African military and security organizations. The command is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, with select personnel assigned to U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions in numerous African nations.

U.S. Africa Command is pioneering closer cooperation between government agencies by embedding members of other agencies into its
military chain of command. These officials are not liaisons. They are fully integrated members of the staff. Senior leaders from the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and others bring new insights and viewpoints so that the U.S. military can more effectively support the whole of the U.S. government effort in Africa. In the years ahead, the command plans to seek international partners to join the headquarters staff, including members of African militaries.

Established in October 2007, the command's focus during its first year was to build a unique organization dedicated to long-term partnerships. U.S. Africa Command will now focus on synchronizing hundreds of activities inherited from three regional commands that previously coordinated U.S.
military relations in Africa.

Navy Christens Littoral Combat Ship Independence

The Navy will christen littoral combat ship (LCS) Independence at 10:00 a.m. CDT on Saturday, Oct. 4, during a ceremony at Austal USA Shipyard, Mobile, Ala.

The name Independence recognizes the cornerstone of our nation's foundation that so many Americans have sacrificed to ensure. Five previous ships have also had that name. The first Independence was a 10-gun sloop that served during the
War of Independence. The second Independence, the first ship of the line in the Navy, was launched in 1814 as a 74-gun ship, but later refitted to a 54-gun frigate. The third Independence served with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service following the end of World War One. The fourth Independence (CVL 22), a small aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943, earned eight battle stars during World War II. The fifth Independence (CV 62) was an aircraft carrier commissioned in 1959 and decommissioned in 1998.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., will deliver the principal address at the ceremony. Doreen Scott, wife of the former
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott, will serve as ship's sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by Scott breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, which is a time-honored Navy tradition.

Independence is one of two LCS seaframes being produced. LCS 1, Freedom, completed its acceptance trials and was delivered to the Navy on Sept. 18, 2008. Freedom is scheduled for commissioning on Nov. 8, 2008.

The LCS is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. It is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. Independence will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals. It will serve to enhance maritime security and it is capable of performing the core capabilities that define the
Navy. It will deter hostility in troubled waters, maintain a forward presence, and it is capable of projecting power and maintaining sea control.

Under the current shipbuilding plan, the Navy is programmed to purchase 55 Littoral Combat Ships. These 55 ships will improve the
Navy's capacity to respond to more globally distributed threats and will help the Navy reach its ultimate fleet goal of at least 313 ships.

The advanced design of Independence will allow it to launch and recover manned and unmanned vehicles. It will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of a day, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other
Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.

Independence will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. The prospective commanding officer of the blue crew is Cmdr. Curt A. Renshaw, who was born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in nearby New Albany, Ind. The prospective commanding officer of the gold crew is Cmdr. Michael B. Riley, a native of Phoenix, Ariz.

In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics separate contract options for final-system design with options for detail design and construction of up to two LCS ships. The future USS Independence (LCS 2) is the General Dynamics' lead hull in that ship design.

In October 2005, the Department of
Navy awarded General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works, a contract for detail design and construction of their first LCS. General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works teammates include Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. and General Dynamics – AIS of Pittsfield, Mass. A keel laying ceremony was held Jan. 19, 2006, at Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, Ala., where the ships is being built.

More information on the LCS can be found at: .

Oregon Guard Uses Mining Techniques to Clean Up Shooting Range

By Kim Lippert
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 1, 2008 - In a landmark project, the
Oregon National Guard is relying on gold-mining technology to restore the land at a century-old shooting range on Camp Withycombe here. The process will remove lead bullets from the land and at the same time save the state millions of dollars.

"The majority of savings comes from the cleaning process that takes place on the land itself and by avoiding the cost of having to transport all of the waste to landfills," said Jim Arnold, environmental restoration manager for the
Oregon Military Department.

Camp Withycombe is one of the oldest Defense Department rifle ranges in the western United States. Until the late 1990s, it had been used as a training site for hundreds of troops and
police officers from around the area. Nearly 300 tons of bullets containing lead ended up in the land, creating a potential environmental concern that needed to be addressed.

"We want to be good stewards of the land," Arnold said. "The soil remediation process allows us to clean up the area and restore it to its natural [state]."

The project, five years in the making, took a lot of planning. The
Oregon Military Department contracted with AMEC Earth and Environmental and coordinated with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to do the soil remediation.

Contaminated soil is taken through a machine that screens out the bullets. The soil then washes through another machine, and the bullets are dropped into a bag. The result is a pile of bagged bullets and a pile of clean soil.

In addition to bullets, workers uncovered a few other surprises.

"When we started, we only had information that small arms were used here," said Arnold. "But we have found ordnances from World War II, mortar rounds, grenades, and basically everything within the small arms category."

All ordnance was safely disposed of on site.

Throughout the process, nearly 14,000 tons of soil has been cleaned and about 300 tons of bullets were recovered. The bullets will be recycled, and the soil will be reused.

"One of the great approaches of this project is the reuse of materials," said Scott Kranz, the AMEC environmental project manager. "So often you end up excavating material and shipping off to a landfill. It's nice to be reusing material."

Once the project is completed this month, the
Oregon Military Department will restore the land to its natural state. More careful planning will allow the Oregon Military Department to ensure trees are replanted and wildlife native to the land is restored.

"We're [making] it a better place than it was when we started," Arnold said.

(Kim Lippert works for the
Oregon National Guard.)

America Supports You: Foundation Opens Second Fisher House in San Diego

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 1, 2008 - Wounded servicemembers and their families in
San Diego will have a second "home away from home" during the recovery process when Naval Medical Center San Diego celebrates the grand opening of Fisher House II on Oct. 3. The Fisher Houses provide respite and accommodations for families of active and retired military patients who have been admitted for medical care.

"This facility represents the medical center's commitment to providing quality care and comprehensive support to patients and their families," said Rear Adm. Christine S. Hunter, commander of
Navy Medicine West and the medical center. "Fisher House II expands our ability to provide a haven for families during a difficult time."

Fisher House II will mark the fifth house donated to the
Navy by the Fisher House Foundation and will more than double the number of available rooms for families at Naval Medical Center San Diego. Built adjacent to Fisher House I, Fisher House II is an 8,000 square-foot, two-story house that is fully furnished and accessible under American Disabilities Act regulations.

It provides private bedrooms, a common kitchen, living room, dining room and laundry room. In addition, Fisher House II will offer wireless Internet access and cable service.

"The Naval Medical Center, particularly the Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care program, treats some of our most severely injured servicemembers," said David J. McIntyre Jr., Fisher House Foundation board member and TriWest president and chief executive officer. "Having family nearby provides comfort to them and can contribute to their recovery process.

"TriWest is proud to support the Fisher House, a 'home away from home' for
military families to stay while their loved one is receiving care," he added. "There, families can concentrate on healing and being together."

The ground-breaking ceremony for Fisher House II was held on June 15, 2007. During the ceremony, David A. Coker, president of the Fisher House Foundation, recognized the contributions of two major donors for the $4 million project: TriWest Health Care Alliance and T. Boone Pickens, chairman and chief executive officer of BP Capital.

The original Fisher House was built 1992 and offers eight rooms for families.

Fisher House Foundation is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizen and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

(From a Naval Medical Center
San Diego news release).

Recently Wounded Vets Get Intro to Therapeutic Sports

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 1, 2008 - More than 50 recently wounded veterans, including troops being processed through the disability evaluation system, are experiencing the healing power of recreation here through the first National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic Pilot Program. The week-long clinic, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is giving the veterans – many wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan – an early introduction to the therapeutic value of recreational sports. Most of the participants are getting their first taste of sailing, surfing, kayaking, cycling and track and field events since being wounded or injured.

All receive treatment at VA medical centers around the country for injuries ranging from brain trauma and polytrauma to spinal cord injury and limb loss.

The clinic is the newest of five VA-sponsored events each year that give about 1,800 veterans venues to showcase their athletic abilities and creative talents while building bonds with other disabled veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. James B. Peake -- a retired lieutenant general and former Army surgeon general -- called the clinic a therapeutic extension of the top-quality care VA medical centers offer young veterans every day.

"The purpose of this clinic is to provide early intervention for veterans battling back from injury – not only strengthening their bodies, but overcoming and improving their mental well-being as well," he said.

In addition to high-adventure sports and recreation, the clinic provides both formal and informal opportunities for veterans to share their experiences and help each other confront and overcome their disabilities.

Chris Chandler, a volunteer at the clinic who works with the U.S. Paralympic Team, described his personal path to healing as he led a group discussion on coping skills.

Chandler was a scout deployed to Afghanistan with the
Marine Corps' 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion when he lost his foot to a landmine in December 2001.

"It changed my whole world," he told the group, noting that the injury stole both his independence and his ability to run competitively. "It was a huge passion in my life, and I felt like my identity had been taken," he said. "I was very angry for a very long time."

Veterans around the room nodded in understanding as Chandler told his story.

Today, Chandler credits his caregivers for helping him to get back on the track, racing through the Challenged Athletes Foundation's Operation Rebound program.

"People showed me a glimpse of the future, and where I could be if I wanted to," he told the group. "It was one of the biggest things that helped me through."

This week, Chandler said, he hopes the veterans -- particularly those just learning to live with their disabilities -- will recognize possibilities they may have considered lost.

"The philosophy here is to introduce veterans who may have ideals about things they think they can't do, to a variety of new activities that they can do," agreed Tom Brown, director of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

Among the participants getting that introduction is Cpl. Sherman Watson, a member of the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, who's undergoing the disability screening board process. Watson was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in February 2006 when a roadside bomb left him with traumatic brain injury – and his third Purple Heart award.

After two years of intensive rehabilitation, Watson is here this week, trying his hand at track and field events, kayaking and other sporting events.

As much as he loves the sports, Watson said, he gets even more gratification getting to know others who understand and relate to what he's experienced.

"I like the camaraderie here," he said. "I'm comfortable talking with the other veterans, hearing what they have to say and knowing that I'm not struggling by myself.

"Being here, I feel free, and I feel happy."

Pilot Missing In Action From The Vietnam War Is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Col. David H. Zook, Jr., U.S.
Air Force, of West Liberty, Ohio. He will be buried Oct. 4 in West Liberty.

On Oct. 4, 1967, Zook was on a psychological warfare operation over Song Be Province, South Vietnam, when his U-10B Super Courier aircraft collided in mid-air with a C-7A Caribou. The C-7 pilot said he saw the other aircraft hit the ground and explode. Several search and rescue attempts failed to locate Zook's remains.

In 1992, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated the incident in Song Be Province. The team interviewed Vietnamese citizens who witnessed the crash and saw remains amid the wreckage. The team surveyed the site and found evidence consistent with Zook's crash. While later examining the evidence recovered from the site, a small fragment of bone was found.

In 1993, another joint team excavated the crash site and recovered a bone fragment and non-biological material including small pieces of military clothing. In March 2008, a final excavation was conducted and more human remains were recovered.
Among other
forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and also used dental comparisons in the identification of Zook's remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1169.