Military News

Friday, October 17, 2008

SEALs Spearhead Resiliency Program for Operators, Families

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 17, 2008 - When the
military looks for innovation, it typically turns to its special operators – those elite forces on the cutting edge of new equipment, tactics and techniques. So if a new program here proves as successful as expected in helping Navy SEALs and their families cope with multiple deployments, officials hope to expand it, not just throughout the special operations community, but military-wide.

Several hundred SEALs and their support forces just back from deployments, as well as their family members, will take off next weekend for four days at a popular resort.

The retreat is part of a unique new Naval Special Warfare Group 1 program to build resiliency within the force, explained Wally Graves III, the group's family support coordinator.

Few
military units are as heavily stressed as special operators. These elite forces have endured repeated deployments since Sept. 11, 2001, and typically operate in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Many members of the West Coast SEAL teams, for example, have deployed forward seven or more times.

Intensive training and discipline builds a breed of warfighters who pride themselves in physical, mental and emotional toughness that's critical to their missions, Graves said.

A retired SEAL himself, Graves said he believes combat stress isn't all bad for warfighters. "Ten pounds of [post-traumatic stress disorder] is good in war. It's hyperactivity, it's anger, it's all the good stuff that keeps you alive on the battlefield," he said. "But 400 pounds of PTSD after you get home is not good."

The new resiliency program is designed to identify and treat symptoms of combat stress early to prevent them from becoming bigger problems, Graves said.

"We need to get out front and be proactive," he said. "You nip it in the bud. You educate everyone, provide training for the high-risk category and then intervene when you have to prevent this from becoming a life-lasting problem or stigma."

And in the process, Graves said, the effort builds force readiness by ensuring the SEALs are ready to turn around for the next deployment.

There's new recognition within the SEAL community that "under the exoskeleton of a warrior is still a human being," he said. When that human being is in distress – whether suffering from post-traumatic stress or experiencing family turmoil brought on by repeated deployments – the warrior can't operate at his peak.

As NSWG-1 strives to build resiliency within its force, it's extending that effort to families. "The culture has changed, from the
leadership on down," Graves said. "There's a recognition that family readiness is a big component of force readiness."

SEAL families are a special breed, Graves is quick to note. "Our wives are fantastic. They're not complainers," he said. "But our goal is to give them tools that will empower them so they can survive and thrive."

The Family Resiliency Enterprise seeks to accomplish that through three steps: assessing individual sailors' and family members' needs; providing educational programs and services tailored to those needs; and helping newly reunited families reintegrate after deployments.

Screening is conducted using scientifically-proven computer software programs, neuro-cognitive measuring equipment and questionnaires. NSWG-1 has started screening its members and soon will offer these assessments on a voluntary basis to their spouses and children ages 8 to 18.

The assessments provide important insights into individual and family psychological, financial and psychosocial well-being, Graves said.

For the sailors, these screenings represent a baseline that, when compared to future post-deployment assessments, will provide objective measure for traumatic brain injuries and combat stress symptoms.

The findings also help the command tailor the training, education programs and other activities it offers to meet the community's needs. These efforts run the gamut, from interpersonal communication workshops to parenting and financial planning classes to command-sponsored activities for spouses and children.

"Each SEAL is responsible for his own family readiness," Graves said. "We are just providing him the tools that he can use, either as a mirror image, or in developing his own."

As part of this effort, NSWG-1 has piggybacked on the
Marine Corps' Project FOCUS – Families Overcoming Under Stress -- program. The Marine Corps launched FOCUS at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and has expanded it to several other locations to help families cope with multiple combat deployments. NSWG-1 announced its new FOCUS program during a town hall meeting this summer and encouraged families to take advantage of its offerings.

The third phase of the resiliency program is designed to help redeploying SEALs leave the stresses of combat behind and ease back into family life.

Next week's retreat is expected to be a highlight of the program, giving the sailors and their families a chance to kick back and enjoy each other as they tap into educational programs and other services to help them through the reintegration process.

"There will be a delicatessen of psychological education tolls there," Graves said.

Graves emphasized that the retreat isn't a Morale, Welfare and Recreation outing or field trip, and that it has specific objectives for the participants.

"What we are doing is transferring them from a combat mindset, giving them the opportunity to process what they went through, then helping them reenergize," he said.

Graves called the NSWG-1's resiliency program a "great litmus test" for the rest of the
military in how to help servicemembers and their families through the challenges of military life and combat deployments.

SEALs, he said, are the perfect community to test out the concept.

"We're small, we're innovators, we're not constrained, and we'll use out-of-the-box thinking to get the job done," he said. "That's the way we're trained to operate, and it brings a lot of perspective to process improvement."

Graves said he's optimistic the resiliency program will strengthen families so they have the confidence and resources to stand up to tough times, while enhancing the readiness of the SEAL community.

"What we're doing is taking a good warrior and making him a great warrior," he said.

U.S., Korean Leaders Reaffirm Mutual Defense Treaty

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 17, 2008 - U.S. and South Korean defense officials reaffirmed the two nations' commitment to keep the defense alliance strong and to continue transforming to meet 21st-century defense needs. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and South Korean National Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee spoke at the conclusion of the 40th U.S.-Republic of Korea Defense Consultative Talks here.

North Korea remains the threat in the region, and the United States reaffirmed its commitment to defend the republic including extending the U.S. nuclear umbrella to the country, Gates said.

The Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and South Korea is a "vibrant reflection of the common values and aspirations of our peoples," the secretary said. "It remains vital to the interests of both of our nations and will continue to be the foundation for an enduring resolute and capable defense of the Republic of Korea."

Gates said the North Korean nuclear and conventional threats continue to be focal points of the treaty's deterrent and defense posture.

"We urge a swift resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue through the Six-Party Talks process," he said. The talks – with South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States – seek to engage North Korea and convince the leaders of the repressive state to shut down its nuclear weapons production system and stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Gates thanked Lee for his country's support in Iraq and Afghanistan. South Korea has sent troops that have contributed significantly to stability and reconstruction.

The two men also discussed the transformation and realignment of U.S. Forces Korea, and the transition of wartime operational control of South Korean forces to South Korea on April 17, 2012. They also discussed strengthening wartime preparedness.

"Korea and the United States will guarantee peace on the peninsula and stability in the region through an unwavering, strong combined defense posture in the present as well as the future," Lee said through a translator.

The agreement reaffirms that the United States will continue to field defense capabilities until they are no longer needed.

"We will maintain the same defense capabilities before, during and after the transfer of wartime operational control, and we will continue to adjust through regular evaluations and inspections of the readiness situation and readiness status," Lee said.

The minister said the alliance is monitoring the health of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, but made light of the reports he is ill.

"I think we should not pay too much attention to KJI's health," Lee said. "I believe he is probably enjoying this newfound attention, and if we show him too much attention, then we might spoil him."

Still, the North Korean leader's health has significant implications for security, and intelligence agencies are monitoring the situation closely. Lee said Kim Jong-il still has control of North Korea.

Gates Swears in Donley as New Air Force Secretary

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 17, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates swore in acting
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley as the 22nd Secretary of the Air Force during a ceremony held at the Air Force Memorial here today. Donley has served as the acting-Air Force Secretary since June 21. He was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 2.

The new secretary thanked Gates for his support and pledged to maintain America's
military air power as the world's best.

"The
Air Force is a world-class institution with a rich and vibrant heritage," Donley said after being sworn in. "Millions of America's airmen have worn its uniform with pride and affection, and millions of civilians have served alongside them."

The Air Force is taking the necessary steps to strengthen its nuclear enterprise, Donley said, and to restore excellence in its acquisition realm.

The 61-year-old
Air Force, Donley said, is an important joint and interagency partner that provides global reach and power -- assets that have proved valuable in the fight against transnational terrorism.

"And, it is in these roles that our interagency and coalition partnerships will increasingly be critical to strategic success," Donley said.

Gates, a former Air Force intelligence officer, saluted Donley as the right choice to lead today's airmen.

"Mike brings decades of experience in the
military, the government, and the private sector to this post," Gates said, noting that Donley is a former assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and was acting secretary for several months in 1993. He also served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and National Security Council staffs, and is a former Army and Special Force's paratrooper, who later became the Pentagon's chief administrator.

Gates cited the
Air Force's important role as a key contributor to the nation's defense.

"Today's Air Force has been deployed, and in some phase of war, for 18 years," Gates said, since Iraq invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the
Air Force has flown more than one million missions, Gates said, including troop and cargo airlifts, medical evacuations and close-air support, as well as tens of thousands of sorties flown over America's skies to protect the homeland.

Air Force aircraft have transported thousands of troops and tons of supplies across Iraq, Gates said.

And, thousands of battlefield-based airmen are performing non-traditional tasks, Gates said, such as detainee operations, convoy security and explosive-ordnance disposal.

"The increased air missions and capabilities employed in Iraq, manned and unmanned, have been a decisive factor in the dramatic security turn-around we have seen over the past 18 months," Gates said. "Put simply, without the Air Force's contributions in the skies and on the ground, America's war effort would simply grind to a halt."

The Air Force is now at a key juncture, Gates said, as "it sees the current conflicts through to success, while preparing for challenges on and beyond the horizon."

The
Air Force's current and future tasks, Gates said, include "restoring trust in the Air Force's stewardship of the most-sensitive part of our arsenal – nuclear weapons and nuclear-related materials – modernizing the aging fighter and tanker fleets, protecting the 'global commons' of the 21st century – space and cyber space – and making the most-effective use of air power in counterinsurgency operations, while maintaining strategic deterrence and technological superiority as a hedge against rising powers."

Gates and Donley were joined by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England; the ceremony's host, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz; and other senior civilian and
military officials.

Donley had served as the director of administration and management for the Defense Department, where he was responsible for Washington Headquarters Services, a 1,300-employee agency that oversees management of the Pentagon and DoD services within the National Capitol Region.

Donley was also acting Secretary of the
Air Force for seven months in 1993 and had served as that service's top financial officer from 1989 to 1993. He also served on the National Security Council and was a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee in the early 1980s.

Donley served in the
Army's 18th Airborne Corps and 5th Special Forces Group from 1972 to 1975. He holds a master's degree in international relations from the University of Southern California.

New First-Aid Products Could Save Lives, Officials Say

By Sarah Maxwell
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 17, 2008 - Two new first-aid products being sent into the combat theater could save more soldiers' lives,
Army medical officials said at a Pentagon news conference Oct. 15. Test results from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Institute of Surgical Research showed Combat Gauze field bandages and WoundStat granules both demonstrated marked improvements over what's currently used in the field, Army Col. (Dr.) Paul Cordts of the Army surgeon general's office said.

"These products improve survival, result in less blood loss and improved post-injury blood pressures," he said.

Excessive blood loss is the No. 1 killer on the battleground, Cordts, a surgeon, said. Both products can stop bleeding quickly in wounds where tourniquets can't be used, he said.

Combat Gauze uses kaolin, a fine, white clay, to stop bleeding, Cordts said, and WoundStat granules react with blood to form a barrier, preventing more bleeding.

More than 92 percent of troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan survive their injuries in combat – the highest percentage of any war, according to the U.S.
Army Medical Department. Army Master Sgt. Horace Tyson, a combat medic, said he attributes the high number of people being saved to the advanced tools the Army provides medics, such as dressings that stop or slow blood flow from wounds.

Having recently returned from a 15-month assignment in Iraq as the senior enlisted manager in a battalion aid station in the heart of Baghdad, Tyson said, he saw first-hand the benefits of dressings with blood-clotting capabilities.

"I categorize these products as lifesavers for us," said Tyson, who now works as a senior operations manager for the U.S.
Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

A servicemember can bleed to death within minutes of being hurt, Tyson said.

"The bandages make the difference between a [soldier] having no chance of living because he'll bleed out in five minutes vs. me getting him to an aid station within 20 minutes and him staying alive," Tyson said. "Without the bandages, he could be dead."

With 19 years of experience and four deployments in conflict areas under his belt, Tyson said, he's seen the Army's scientific research drastically improve medics' tools and training.

"If we're going to get something else better for the battlefield, that's great," he said.

About 270,000 12-foot strips of Combat Gauze are expected to be in theater by the end of the year, said Lt. Col. Sean Morgan from Program Executive Office Soldier, the agency fielding most of the bandages. More than 17,000 packages of WoundStat also will be working their way to the field, he said.

The new dressings are expected not only to save more lives, but also to bring significant cost savings to the government, Cordts said. Combat Gauze is less than $30 per dressing, compared to the currently used HemCon bandage, which uses chitosan from shrimp shells to stop blood and costs $88 per bandage. WoundStat also is less expensive than the QuikClot granules it replaces.

The
Army plans to equip combat lifesavers to carry three gauzes, and eventually all soldiers will have one in their improved first aid kits. Combat medics, who are highly trained in emergency trauma, will be given three gauzes, but will be the only ones to carry WoundStat, since it requires more medical expertise to use, Cordts said.

Although the new hemostatic dressings are promising great improvements, Dr. David Baer, ISR's director of surgical research, said it doesn't mean the Army isn't still looking for the next line of products that could offer even more improvements.

ISR scientists looked into about two dozen other products in the last few years before they discovered Combat Gauze and WoundStat, and they will continue their efforts for even more cutting-edge products to save lives, he said.

"The way I think about it is the HemCon was better than the plain gauze, [Combat Gauze] is better than the HemCon, and it can get incrementally better," Baer said.

(Sarah Maxwell works at the U.S.
Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Public Affairs Office.)

MILITARY CONTRACTS October 17, 2008

Army

Bechtel National Inc,
San Francisco, Calif., was awarded Oct. 15, 2008, a $563,473,000 cost plus incentive fee contract. This modification is for the balance of construction of the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant. Work will be performed in Pueblo, Colo., with an estimated and completion date of Dec 31, 2023. Bids solicited were via the Web and two bids were received. U.S. Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (DAAA09-02-D-0025).

Evolved Machines Federal Contracting Inc, West
Palm Beach, Fla., was awarded Oct. 15, 2008, a $8,884,907 cost contract for model, design and development of a novel sensor inspired by a canine's olfactory system. Work will be performed in Evolved Machines, West Palm Beach, Fla., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., Cogniscent, North Grafton, Mass., iSense, Urbana, Ill., Monell, Philadelphia, Pa., Northrop Grumman, Baltimore, Md., Penn State University, State College, Pa., University of Miami, Miami, Fla., Temple University and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., with an estimated and completion date of Jan. 14, 2009. Bids solicited were via the Web and one bid was received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-09-C-0013).

BMAR & Associates, Hopkinsville, Ky., was awarded Oct. 11, 2008, a $6,181,140 firm fixed price contract for operations and maintenance services for International Medical Center, Cairo, Egypt. Work will be performed in Egypt, with an estimated and completion date of Aug 17, 2011. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Program Center, Winchester, Va., is the contracting activity (W912ER-09-C-0001).

Air Force

The
Air Force is modifying a cost plus award fee contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., of Littleton, Colo., for $19,865,511. The purpose of this modification is to definitize the Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA). Under Assured Access to Space (AATS) FY08 this action by Lockheed Martin will perform supply chain management and technological improvement task to minimize the risk of launch failure by establishing subcontracts with common suppliers and addressing new capabilities to support the upcoming government launches. These projects include lithium ion battery development for flight safety and development of a replacement resin for solid rocket boosters. Any delay in these projects will have detrimental effects to mission capability and schedule. At this time all funds have been obligated. Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Space Launch and Range Systems Material Wing (LR), LA AFB, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8816-06-C-0002, P00095).

The
Air Force is modifying a fixed price with cost reimbursable CLINS contract by exercising an option with DTS Aviation Services, Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas, for $14,045,401. This action will exercise option year six, will provide aircraft backshop maintenance, munitions, and equipment support for the Air Armament Center and for Air Armamanet and Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C41) Systems Testing for a 12-month period. At this time $12,840,255 has been obligated. 96 CONS/MSCB, Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity (F08651-02-C-0085, Modification P00054).

The
Air Force is modifying a cost plus fixed fee contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., of McLean, Va., for $9,995,999.88. This action will provide for systems engineering and integration support to the Military Satellite Communications Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, in support of the Global Broadcast Services Program and the Joint Terminal Engineering Office through 21 Oct. 2009. At this time $1,740,630 has been obligated. Space and Missiles Systems Center, Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8808-08-F-0003, P00010).

NAVY

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., is being awarded a $14,333,113 modification to a previously awarded cost plus fixed fee, research and development contract (N66001-06-C-8005) to develop a modular design, fully functional 22 degree of freedom prosthetic for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. This modification will increase the first option period costs to fund additional functionality and clinical transition of prototypes, as well as additional tasking related to FDA Regulatory Requirements. The program's focus is to develop an advanced neurally controlled upper extremity prosthesis capable of restoring full motor and sensory functions, and perform as a native limb to the injured warfighter. The program supports the effort that will ultimately result in a superior prosthetic device for disabled warfighters. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), Biosciences Division, is responsible for, and tasked with, the daily management of the program. The cumulative value of this contract, including this modification, is $72,452,451. Primary work will be performed in Maryland, and subcontractor facilities as required. The period of performance to complete phase two of the option award, which includes this modification, is from Oct. 17, 2008 through Jan. 30, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was approved under the Broad Agency Announcement for this procurement and was publicized through the Federal Business Opportunities, Government-wide Point of Entry. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $11,243,728 firm fixed price, definite delivery definite quantity modification under a previously awarded delivery order contract (N00383-06-D-001J-0005) for active electronically scanned array (AESA) spares used on the F/A-18/E/F/G APG radar system. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., (40 percent); and El Segundo, Calif., (60 percent), and work is expected to be completed by May 2011. Contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity.

Navy Christens Guided Missile Destroyer Wayne E. Meyer

The Navy will christen the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Wayne E. Meyer, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. Designated DDG 108, the new destroyer honors the retired Navy rear admiral who led the development of Aegis, the first fully integrated combat system built to defend against air, surface and subsurface threats.

In 1963, Secretary of the
Navy Fred Korth chose Meyer to lead a special task force for surface guided missiles. Meyer's efforts laid the groundwork for a successful prototype Aegis system in 1974. Meyer then served as the Aegis program manager from 1975 to 1983.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Anna Mae Meyer will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her husband. In accordance with
Navy tradition, she will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow and christen the ship.

Wayne E. Meyer is the 58th of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and carries the 100th Aegis Combat System built. The ship will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Wayne E. Meyer will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy of 21st Century Seapower," the new maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Nick A. Sarap Jr., born in Richmond, Va., and raised in Zanesville, Ohio, is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton destroyer is being built by Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics company. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=900&ct=4 .

AfriCom Officials Note Milestones, Challenges Ahead

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 17, 2008 -
Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward brought the celebration of U.S. Africa Command's activation home to Germany today as he praised those who came together to stand the command up so quickly and urged them to continue working together so it can reach its potential. Speaking at the AfriCom's headquarters in Stuttgart, Ward – AfriCom's commander --thanked the visionaries who conceived of a command that brings together interagency capabilities to address challenges on the African continent, and his staff and all who worked doggedly alongside them to make it a reality.

"Without you, the establishment of this command would not have been possible," Ward told the audience of
military, governmental and diplomatic dignitaries from the United States, Africa and Germany, and his AfriCom staff. "I am proud of all that we have achieved to date, but more importantly, I am excited for the future and for what we can accomplish."

Today's ceremony marked the hometown commemoration of AfriCom's Oct. 1 activation ceremony at the Pentagon. In Washington, Ward unfurled the AfriCom colors, declaring to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen that "U.S. Africa Command reports for duty!"

AfriCom will ensure effective, sustained, security cooperation programs on the African continent and its island nations that directly support U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, Ward said today at Kelley Barracks. "That's what we are about: sustained security engagement," he said.

"We are there for the long haul," Ward said. "The creation of this command signifies that we are committed to it."

AfriCom will work in tandem with other U.S. government agencies and international partners as it helps the 53 African nations create stability, security and prosperity for Africa, he said.

Ward assured the audience that AfriCom's activities – from its
military-to-military programs to military-sponsored activities and operations – won't detract from other important efforts already under way.

"We will pursue close coordination and cooperation with international and interagency partners to ensure we complement -- and not conflict with -- their efforts on the continent," he said.

Mark Kimmitt, assistant secretary of state for political-
military affairs, said AfriCom's unique organizational makeup and the capabilities it brings "can only make these programs more effective."

"What has been created is an important tool to support our comprehensive strategy for Africa," he said.

Meanwhile, Ward said AfriCom, like all U.S. geographic commands, stands prepared to respond to crises as directed by the president and to support humanitarian assistance efforts, as needed.

"Challenges do lie ahead," Ward told the audience. "There are also great opportunities to help build partners' capacity and support developmental efforts."

A more stable, more secure African continent will benefit not just Africa, but the United States and the world, he said. "We are all neighbors in our global community," he noted.

Ward told the audience they can make a difference. He urged them to continue their close cooperation in an unprecedented new command structure to get to the important work ahead.

"There is work to be done. Let's do it right by doing it together," he said.

Family, Friends Help Dedicate Cherry Point Building to Fallen Marine

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Doug Payne
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 17, 2008 - Marines, sailors, family and friends, each displaying a mixture of cheerful and solemn expressions, gathered around the fuel pump house here to honor their fallen hero Oct. 10. The ceremony honored
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Daniel McVicker by dedicating the fuel house in his name. The bulk fuel specialist was killed in 2005 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The unanimous theme among speakers at the event was that McVicker's personality inspired both his fellow Marines as well as his superiors.

"I went out with Dan to buy an engagement ring for my girlfriend at the time," said
Marine Corps Sgt. Joseph K. Freeman, a recruiter at Indiana, Pa. "I couldn't figure out how to propose, when all of a sudden he shouted, 'I've got it!'

"He told me to get my girlfriend and meet him at Indian Beach," Freeman said. "By the time we got to the beach he had grabbed a bunch of Marines and other friends we knew and had written, 'Megan will you marry me?' with seaweed in the sand.

"That's just how Dan was," Freeman added. "If it wasn't for him, I couldn't have proposed as gloriously to my wife."

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Linda Tierney, the fuels team leader with station fuels, said although many Marines didn't get a chance to know McVicker personally, they still were able to form a bond with the fallen Marine.

"The ceremony allowed them to meet the family and really find out who he was," Tierney said. "Now, if you ask any Marine at station fuels, they talk about him as if they were close friends."

"It amazes me to hear about all the things he did for other people and how he touched them," said
Marine Corps Cpl. Jason Hopkins, a bulk fuel specialist with station fuels. "When his mother played the last voicemail she had of him on her cell phone, there wasn't a dry eye around."

After all the comments were made, Daniel's father, Mark, hung a commemorative plaque on the front of the fuel pump house. Along with his name and the dates of his birth and death was an excerpt from the Bible, Daniel 10:6. It reads: "His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude."

Lance Cpl. Daniel McVicker, of Alliance, Ohio, was 20 when the vehicle he was driving hit a roadside bomb near Qaim, Iraq.

Gates: U.S. Toolbox to Confront Threats Requires More Than 'Just Hammers'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 15, 2008 - The war on terror, particularly in Afghanistan , has put the United States and its allies and partners to the test as they strive to apply both "soft-" and "hard-power" capabilities to ward off violent extremism, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here tonight. "Afghanistan is the test, on the grandest scale, of what we are trying to achieve when it comes to integrating the
military and the civilian, the public and private, the national and international," Gates said at the U.S. Institute of Peace's first Dean Acheson lecture.

The lecture series honors the former secretary of state who Gates said had a clear understanding of the importance of applying the full spectrum of national power to confront Cold War threats that dominated the late 20th century. Acheson recognized the "ideological zeal and fighting power" that characterized Soviet communism, Gates noted, as well as the importance of U.S. "power and energy" in stopping its expansion.

Gates drew parallels to the violent extremism that he said menaces peace-loving people around the world today.

"It is an adversary without the resources of a great power, but with unlimited ideological zeal and no shortage of fighting power," Gates said. This challenge demands "the full strength of America and its people," he said, as encompassed in the new national defense strategy.

The United States must be prepared to change old ways of doing business and create new institutions at home nationally and nationally to deal with these threats, he said. "And our own national security toolbox must be well-equipped with more than just hammers."

Gates called Afghanistan "the laboratory" for U.S. efforts to apply and fully integrate the full range of its national power and international cooperation to protect its security and vital interests.

He described the scope of the effort there, as 42 nations, hundreds of nongovernmental organizations, universities, development banks, the United Nations, the European Union and NATO all work together to help Afghanistan rise above the challenges it faces. These range from crushing poverty to a bumper opium crop to a ruthless and resilient insurgency and al-Qaida and other violent extremists.

" Afghanistan has tested America 's capacity – and the capacity of our allies and partners – to adapt institutions, policies and approaches that in many cases were formed in a different era for a different set of challenges," Gates said.

Coalition warfare is nothing new, with positive examples set during World War II, in Korea in and the Persian Gulf, he said.

Yet despite decades of NATO preparation, Gates said, the alliance's operations in Afghanistan are hamstrung by national caveats that limit how different countries' militaries can go and what they can do. He conceded that some allies and partners have "stepped forward courageously – showing a willingness to take physical risks on the battlefield and political risks at home."

"But many have defense budgets that are so low and coalition governments so precarious," he continued, "that they cannot provide the quantity or type of forces needed for this kind of fight."

A big factor in Afghanistan 's success rests in the effort to rapidly train, equip and advise its army and police force, Gates said. He noted that until recently, few Western governments and militaries had this capability outside their Special Forces.

Ultimately, he said, the formula for success extends beyond
military strength – to encompass economic development, reconstruction, improved governance, the development of modern institutions and counternarcotics strategy.

"To be successful, the entirety of the NATO alliance, the European Union, NGOs and other groups – the full panoply of
military and civilian elements – must better integrate and coordinate with one another and also with the Afghan government," he said. "These efforts today, however well-intentioned and even heroic, add up to less than the sum of the parts."

Gates expressed hope that last week's NATO defense ministerial conference in Budapest , Hungary , will result in concrete steps to reverse that equation. "Whether we make progress remains to be seen," he said.

Gates Pushes for Stronger International, Interagency Relationships

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 16, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said last night he's struck by universal interest in bridging stronger ties with the United States in the roughly 50 countries he's visited since taking office, and that allowing the evolving U.S.-China relationship to unravel would be a huge strategic mistake. Gates also offered assurance that the
military has no interest in dominating in operations best left to other departments and nongovernmental agencies.

Responding to questions at the U.S. Institute of Peace's first Dean Acheson lecture, Gates called insights he's gained during meetings with his international counterparts one of his biggest surprises during his 22 months at the Pentagon.

"Every single one of these countries wants to have a better relationship with the United States, wants to have a stronger relationship, wants to increase our
military-to-military relationships," he said following his address.

Gates said these countries view the United States as "the last, best hope."

"They want to have a better relationship with us, and we just have to open our arms and welcome them into that relationship," he said.

That acceptance extends to China, Gates said, noting progress in the U.S.-Sino defense relationship he insisted must continue.

"China is a competitor, but it is not necessarily an adversary," he said in response to a question from the audience. "We are increasing our
military-to-military relationship with the Chinese, we have opened the strategic dialogue with them in terms of where they think they are headed and what are their worries about us.

"I think there is absolutely no reason in the world for China to be a strategic adversary to the United States," he said.

Gates conceded that the circumstances or politics in either country could reverse the positive trend lines and create an adversarial relationship. "And I think that would be a tragic mistake," he said.

Meanwhile, Gates assured a questioner that as he pushes for stronger coordination among the
military, diplomatic and economic elements of U.S. national power, he doesn't see the military dominating in roles best assumed by others.

Gates referred to former U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld's assertion that "peacekeeping is not a soldier's job, but only a soldier can do it," and said the
military is happy to relinquish nonmilitary responsibilities to organizations trained to conduct them.

He pointed to the provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, where, although the
military is a big player due to the security situation, "there is never any question that the civilians in the PRT are leading the effort."

"The
military really doesn't want to be in the lead in these areas," he said. "We have to have the military and the civilians working together, and the reality is in these PRTs, it is the civilians who are in charge, and it is the civilians who are leading the way. And I can tell you, that gives comfort to the military."

Face of Defense: Honor Guard Soldier Strives to Leave Lasting Impression

By Army Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 16, 2008 - His look is piercing. His movements are sharp. His skills are among the best. He wears a patch on his left shoulder that identifies him as the first National Guard soldier in the state of
Louisiana certified to train others to meet the high standards embodied by a member of the Military Funeral Honors Program. "It's important that we look our absolute best," said Sgt. Michael A. Huff, the first Louisiana Guardsman to complete the Army's honor guard course. "For some people, you are the first Military impression, ... and for some you are the last."

The Shreveport, La., native graduated from the Honor Guard Train the Trainer Course at Camp Robinson, Ark., where his instructors were members of "The Old Guard," the famed 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, based at Fort Myer, Va. Trained by the best, Huff is now a team leader for the Shreveport area
Military Funeral Honors Program. With its demand for excellence and precision, the program represents the epitome of perfection as soldiers exemplify Army traditions and standards.

"The course was both physically and mentally demanding, but the honor guard is what a soldier should be, and our deceased veterans have earned the right for us to be at our best," Huff said. "It's my job to make sure they get the respect they deserve."

Huff now trains the honor guard teams around the state. "It is a challenge to take soldiers who have never done this and get them ready to look their best for a funeral or ceremony," he said.

Though the team is made up of volunteers, only those who are highly motivated and maintain exceptionally high standards of appearance and conduct are considered to be a member of the honor guard, Huff said.

Huff, who is also a mortar platoon squad leader for B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, said he was looking for a full-time job when his readiness noncommissioned officer presented the honor guard idea to him.

The
Military Honors program through the Louisiana Army National Guard started in December, with Command Sgt. Maj. Steven R. Stuckey as the state coordinator.

Huff explained that prior to a funeral, he must mentally prepare and focus on the mission at hand. "I am going over everything in my mind," he said. "I am going over movements and making sure that I am ready to represent and show that soldier and his family the respect they deserve."

The duty can challenge soldiers' emotions, Huff said. "The hardest part of this job is knowing that when you go to a funeral, people are going to be upset and they are going to cry," he said. "But we must remain professional at all times. I have lost friends in combat and understand how difficult death is to a family, but if I don't find a way to focus and detach, I can't give them the funeral that they deserve. ... I can't afford to get emotional then."

Huff said that he tries to incorporate the importance of professionalism into the honor guard soldiers he trains. "It can be hard, ... especially when it's someone we know, but we have to be in that focused mental mind frame before any funeral."

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth R. Wagner, senior enlisted advisor for the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said he is impressed with the state's program. "I've been to five funerals since Command Sergeant Major Stuckey started this program," he said. "On short notice, the honor guards have come together and formed a good team. Their execution is extremely well done and very professional."

Stuckey agreed.

"I am proud of my team and what they represent," he said. "Most people do not understand what they give up. These guys have to be ready at any time. Some of them have families at home and have civilian jobs, but at a moment's notice, with their uniforms maintained to perfection, they are ready to drop their plans and give our veterans the respectful funeral they deserve."

Stuckey said that most families of veterans do not know that the benefit of a
Military funeral is available to all veterans. Family members should request a Military funeral through their funeral home director.

"It's a benefit that everyone who has served in the
Military is entitled to, whether they were honorably discharged or retired. It's an honor for us to be able to give them respect as a comrade, and we want the opportunity to do it," Huff said. The four Louisiana National Guard honor guard teams have conducted about 225 funerals in eight regions of the state.

Huff said that even though he originally joined the National Guard to pay for school and earned an associates degree in biology, he does not plan on getting out any time soon, and that he plans on making a career as an honor guard soldier.

"I achieved my goal of earning that degree, and that is a great feeling, but I am very proud of my service," he said. "I feel like I am supposed to be in the
Military, and I love what I do."

(
Army Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang serves with the 199th Brigade Support Battalion.)