Military News

Monday, October 27, 2008

Readjusting to Family Life Requires Communication

By Mary Markos
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - All Eva Creel wanted for 12 months was for her husband to come home from Afghanistan to be by her side. When he returned, she found she wanted nothing more than her own personal space. Creel – like many spouses of soldiers returning fro deployments – discovered firsthand that the rush of emotions after redeployment can both draw a couple together and pull them apart.

"When they're gone, you miss them terribly, but you become very independent," she said. "I had my routine, my schedule and my plans. He kind of got in the way of all those things."

Redeployment is an overwhelming joy and a rollercoaster ride of emotions, including everything from feelings of guilt from a newfound independence to the insecurity and frustration of getting to know one another again. But these emotions are 100 percent normal, according to
Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Scheider, deputy chaplain for the U.S. Army Garrison here.

The key to getting back on track, he said, is communicating expectations and emotions with one another.

During extended separations, Scheider said, it is common for couples to develop unrealistic expectations of a physical and emotional reunion. One of the most common types of expectation building is for soldiers to develop an unrealistic image of their spouse in their minds. A very high number of deployed troops do this, the chaplain said.

"There is really not much of a place to get away from it all [while deployed]," he explained, "So they develop a place in their brain to go to, in their memories. And they start to build this safe place. The star of that safe place in their mind is usually their [spouse].

"After awhile, they'll begin to develop this expectation of [the spouse] as this perfect person," he continued. "It is totally unrealistic. It is half fantasy and half reality."

Back at home, Creel said, a spouse may experience the same thing.

"I did turn him into this perfect husband [during the deployment]," she admitted. "The reality is different."

To prevent reality shock from upending the marriage, the soldier and spouse should reevaluate the "fantasy" image they have created of their loved one, Scheider said. Because everyone changes during deployments, he said, couples must evaluate the reality of who they have become and get to know each other again when they're reunited after a deployment.

In doing so, he added, they shouldn't take anything for granted. Couples should communicate even the most obvious expectations and desires, even something as simple how much time you expect to spend alone together or who will take out the trash, the chaplain said.

Some spouses look forward to handing over the job of disciplinarian and household organizer to the redeploying soldier, Scheider said, but recently returned servicemembers often can't make this decision because they are unsure of what the rules were in their absence, or what the rules should be. At the same time the spouse is ready to hand off the disciplinarian hat, the soldier, having missed birthdays and other important family events, is ready to make up for lost time by overindulging the child.

Talk, talk and more talk is the key, Scheider said, as maintaining open communication – detailing both large and small expectations – is one of the only ways to weather the emotional storm of reintegrating.

Another sticking point, the chaplain said, is when increasingly confident spouses who have grown independent during the deployment, begin to resent when their redeployed soldiers expect them to put their lives on hold and devote all of their time to them.

While each couple will experience variations of these common scenarios, each relationship and every individual is unique, Scheider said. The bottom line and the driving factor for a smooth reintegration, he said, is to make reconnecting as a couple a top priority.

Soldiers may find themselves feeling both hurt and proud that their spouse coped so well without them, the chaplain noted. They may question whether or not they are needed in the relationship, and may even feel like an outsider in the family. Spouses should understand these feelings and attempt to make the soldier feel needed, he advised.

Both spouses will need affirmation that their relationship is as strong as ever, or at least growing, Scheider said, but connecting on an emotional level after redeployment may take some time. Soldiers who experienced a high level of stress during the deployment may feel shame for something they did or guilt for something they did not do in combat. This can be a contentious area, the chaplain said.

"The most hurtful thing [to a spouse can be] wanting to have that significant reconnection, waiting for this time to really sit down and talk, and [the soldier] stiff-arms her, thinking, 'I want to protect her from who I am,'" he explained.

While spouses may be curious about their soldier's experiences, the chaplain said, the best thing they offer the servicemember is space to work through their feelings. Spouses should avoid asking questions about what happened in combat and never should pressure the soldier for details, he said.

Soldiers still struggling after six weeks, Scheider said, should seek help.

Throughout reintegration, as soldiers readjust to their new home life, they may seek a comrade in arms to confide in and relate to, the chaplain said. This may leave the spouse feeling unloved and alone.

"It calls into question the whole relationship -- the loyalty and the bond," he said. Soldiers, he added, should resist the urge to close their circle of support to only those they served with.

And just as soldiers do, he noted, spouses learn to rely on those around them for support and assistance during the deployment. When troops return, they may experience hurt feelings and disappointment if those support groups begin to crumble.

"I had a few friends whose husbands were deployed at the same time as mine," Creel said. "We were like family. We talked to each other every day. They were in my routine. But when our husbands came back, we barely talked to each other. It is sad that you lose that friendship."

It is important, however, Scheider said, for the marriage, not the friendships, to be the couple's main priority.

For couples who still are having trouble reconnecting on an emotional level after six weeks, Scheider suggested reaching out for professional help.

"Healthy couples," he said, "gang up on the problem, not each other."

(Mary Markos works in the U.S.
Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs Office.)

America Supports You: Care Package Site Provides Ideas

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - Whether you are a young soldier leaving boot camp for a tour in Germany or a seasoned
military police officer working in Iraq, receiving a care package from home can be a huge pick-me-up. A Web site launched in September provides many ideas to families and friends wanting to send care packages to love ones stationed abroad. Abby Tymchak of Wayne, N.J., was inspired to create the site, called "The Soldiers Family," when she found out her husband, Army Sgt. Scott Kowalski, was being deployed overseas for at least a year. Initially, she said, she did not want to think about the deployment, but after reality set in, she realized their relationship was going to be through the mail for a year.

"One of the things my husband stressed to me on his first deployment in 2003 to Cuba was how much care packages from home helped him," Tymchak said. "He wanted me to send him lots of care packages, because they really help him to keep going."

In collecting and packing items for her husband, Tymchak started gathering ideas from friends who had deployed spouses and friends in the
military who had been deployed themselves. With so much information, Tymchak said, she wanted to share it with others. She decided to launch the Web site to share ideas, she said.

"I have been building this Web site since the beginning of summer, and I was finally ready to launch it in late September," Tymchak said. "I set up the Web site in a way so that everyone -- including friends, parents, spouses and children -- can go to it and get ideas as well as share their ideas on the Web site forum."

Tymchak's Web site not only gives care package ideas for spouses, children, family and friends, but also shares holiday care package ideas, such as sending a soldier "Halloween in a Box," filled with tricks and treats. The Web site also includes a list of items commonly requested by deployed servicemembers and provides information on how to package and ship care packages.

"My Web site is not only a place to get information, but a place that everyone can share their own ideas," Tymchak said. "It's not just for friends and family of servicemembers, but the servicemembers themselves can submit ideas and talk about things they received that meant a lot to them."

The Web site does not currently mail care packages, but Tymchak has not ruled out the idea.

"I am always keeping my options open, and that might become a possibility," she said. "This Web site will continue to be a work in progress as I continue to create new ideas for those out there who are a part of our
military."

Student Linguists Meet High Standards at Language Institute

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - If the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center is a national treasure, as its commandant said, then its students are the jewels. "The students are some of the best and the brightest that [the Defense Department] has," said
Army Col. Sue Ann Sandusky, a 1992 graduate of DLI's French program. "They learn a language to a standard that the vast majority of university languages don't even come close to achieving in a four-year program."

The need for more linguists in what DLI officials consider "Category IV" languages -- Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Korean and Japanese -- requires students to be at the top of their games. Learning these, and the Category III languages, which include Dari, Pashto, and Persian Farsi, are no walk in the park.

It takes a student 64 weeks of intensive study to meet DLI's proficiency standards in a Category IV language. Those weeks are filled with a minimum of six to eight hours of instruction in the language and its culture a day, plus weekend assignments. Students also must maintain
military fitness standards.

Those studying Category I languages --
Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese -- or Category II languages -- German and Indonesian -- don't have it any easier just because the languages aren't considered as complicated. They have to achieve the same proficiency in fewer weeks.

"They [all] have to work very hard when they get here. There are no free rides," Sandusky said. "[You can't just] eat your language jelly beans and suddenly come out speaking at a [proficient] level."

In fact, on a four-point grading scale, an A-minus isn't worthy of the dean's list or honor roll, she said.

"A 3.5 is almost the minimum you need to really ensure success," she said. "You have to be aiming for very close to perfection."

Of the roughly 3,000 DLI students from all the services, 92 percent are studying Category III and IV languages.

"[The students] are pretty precious resources," said retired
Army Col. Donald Fischer, DLI provost and past commandant. "They're probably among the smartest of American youth. [They achieve] very high levels of proficiency in a very short amount of time."

While the students, of course, have a distinct role in their success, exceptionally qualified instructors, the curriculum, and
technology play vital roles as well.

Nearly all of the more than 1,700 international faculty members are native speakers who hail from 100 countries to teach the 24 different languages offered at the institute. This mix of ethnicities and cultures provides not only invaluable resources for the students but contributes to the rich diversity in the city of
Monterey, known as the "Language Capital of the World."

Combining instructor experience with
technology takes the experience to the next level for the students, who walk the campus with tablet computers and iPods, both of which are loaded with language lessons. Other technologies, including "smart boards" in the wireless classrooms, contribute to an interactive learning environment, Fischer said.

"That marriage of teacher and student and curriculum and resources, and the impact of group around [the students] can really motivate a person," Fischer said. "They come out of here a much different person."

Face of Defense: Translator Assists Iraqis, Soldiers

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

Oct. 27, 2008 - Army Spc. Wilson Alnar does a lot of talking. That's because he's a translator with the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office. "It's my job to be that bridge between the Iraqi people and the coalition forces," said Alnar, an Atlanta resident and native of Sudan who speaks Arabic fluently.

When the
Army first arrived in Iraq in 2003, the communication barrier between Iraqis and soldiers was a big issue. In February 2003, the Army Reserve came up with a positive solution with adaptation of the "translator aide" military occupational specialty. Native speakers of Arabic, Dari and Pashto were recruited and inserted into the Individual Ready Reserve. In 2005, a report was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and then in February 2006, the program became official and was expanded to all components of the Army.

Soldiers in this specialty read, write and understand foreign languages, and they interpret for troops operating on the streets of foreign countries. Alnar, who had been working as a custodian at an Atlanta school since 2002, learned of the program after talking with a friend who was serving in the
Army.

"One of my friends deployed to Iraq in 2005 as an interpreter. When he came back in 2006, he started telling me how great it was and about the opportunities I would have," Alnar said. "I already spoke Arabic, so it seemed like the perfect job. It was my chance to do my part for the country and the Army."

But first, he had to convince his wife that it was a good idea.

"She was not too enthused with the idea of me in the
Army," Alnar said. "It took a while, but eventually she gave in. Now she, along with my daughter, are very proud and supportive."

Alnar joined the Army in 2006, and after basic training, he took a six-week advanced individual training course at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Although he was already fluent in Arabic, the official language of Sudan, the dialect in his native country is slightly different from Iraq's. The course allowed him to brush up on his knowledge and skills about Iraq by learning more about the culture and practicing with Iraqi dialect.

"The Arabic language is one of the hardest languages there is to master," Alnar said. "It took me almost 18 years, compared to the four to five years with English, to really become fluent.

"It's just like in the United States" he continued, "where people in the south speak a little differently than the people in the north. The dialect was a little different than what I was used to in Sudan, but I caught on quickly."

Deployed to Iraq since early August, Alnar now finds himself using his language skills to help in the war on terrorism and the rebuilding efforts here.

When he's not putting his interpretation skills to use in the field, he translates documents from Arabic to English and serves as an advisor to his fellow soldiers, teaching them about the Arab culture. He also assembles reports of Web site and news station monitoring to help inform the command of reports by the Iraqi media.

However, he said, he doesn't feel that any one of these jobs is his most important responsibility.

"First and foremost, I'm a soldier," Alnar said. "I do a lot of things, but I'm still trained as a soldier, and I need to be ready at all times."

Alnar said he hopes to go to college when he redeploys next year, but not before he leaves his mark in this country.

"I have a very important job, because good communication is needed," he said. "I want to do well so I can help the soldiers accomplish their mission and also help the Iraqis get their needs across. I'm gaining more experience every day, and I'm looking forward to a long career in the
Army."

(Army Spc. Justin Snyder serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)

Warfighters Drive Acquisition From 'Bottom Up'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 27, 2008 - A new approach to acquisition that puts warfighters, not program managers, in the driver's seat is paying off by ensuring deployed troops have the tools they need to succeed in combat, the 82nd Airborne Division's deputy commander said.
Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mayville told reporters traveling here Oct. 23 with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that a "bottom-up" approach to acquisition -- with deployed troops identifying what they need -- makes the process faster and more responsive.

During their most recent deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, 82nd Division soldiers received 173 new items ranging from uniform items to weapons to lasers and night-vision devices they felt would help them on the battlefield.

Now that they're back at their home station and in a "reset" mode, the equipment keeps rolling in as the division prepares for its next deployments. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team is slated to deploy to Iraq in November, and the 1st and 4th BCTs will follow, probably in summer or fall. The division headquarters expects to deploy in the spring, but is awaiting a Pentagon decision that would make it official.

"As we fight the war downrange, we have a whole lot of people working with us, trying to make sure we get the equipment we need to accomplish our job and do our mission," said
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel, the division's top enlisted soldier.

Mayville and Capel said they remember the days when new gear and equipment arrived at units without notice, and seemingly with no input from the troops who would use it.

"We got stuff on the shelf that we probably didn't need, and it is still on the shelf," Capel recalled. Not so with today's acquisitions, which he said are getting used or added on to existing equipment, vehicles or weapons as quickly as they arrive.

"Everybody is using it, because they are the ones who said we need it," Capel said.

"Today in the theater, if you have a requirement, ... [or] figure out that you need something new, ... you write it down and the institution figures out how to get you a prototype," Mayville said. "It is fundamentally different than what I remember as a youngster, when things were just kind of dreamed up from above and came down to us.

"Now," he said, "it is a survey that goes from the field back to the
Army that generates those requirements."

The requesters, in turn, evaluate the equipment and gear to determine if it will benefit other soldiers. "Everybody [who] goes downrange becomes a test bed for something," Mayville said. "If you dreamed it up, invariably you become the test bed, because it was your idea."

One example of a bottom-up request came from a young warrant officer who recommended mounting a hoist in every UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. This would essentially make every UH-60 medevac capable, able to hoist someone from the ground, without sacrificing crew space inside the aircraft, Mayville said.

"It was a brilliant idea," he said. U.S.
Army Forces Command and the Army Aviation Center are evaluating the proposal to determine if it has Armywide application.

Mayville cited other new technologies that are bringing unprecedented capabilities to warfighters. The Excalibur autonomous-guided projectile, fired from the M777 howitzer, uses Global Positioning System
technology to alter course when it confirms an enemy target. "The level of precision in this thing is phenomenal," Mayville said.

The Rover III system is providing front-line forces the capability to receive imagery directly from unmanned and manned aircraft. Companies and platoons using the system can tap into real-time video feeds available only at the brigade level just two years ago.

"I think that's an example of
technology that you are able to push down things further and further to units that are very necessary for a decentralized fight," Mayville said.

Meanwhile, the division's 3rd brigade is working on a company fusion net to take on its upcoming deployment. As envisioned, the system would enable each company to mine national data bases directly for the intelligence it needs – such as to identify a suspect it has photographed.

"What is cut out are all the tiers of analysts," Mayville said. "The fundamental message is that it is the folks in the theater, doing what they are doing, that is ... driving most of these requirements."

MILITARY CONTRACTS October 27, 2008

NAVY

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Newport News, Va. is being awarded a $300,705,466 cost plus fixed fee contract for continuation of the refueling complex overhaul advance-planning efforts for the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and its reactor plants. This effort will continue to provide for advanced planning, shipchecks, design, documentation, engineering, procurement, fabrication and preliminary shipyard or support facility work to prepare for and make ready for the refueling, overhaul, modernization and routine work. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-07-C-2117).

Honeywell
Technology Solutions, Inc., Columbia, Md., is being awarded an $8,475,973 modification to a previously awarded cost plus fixed fee contract (N00421-05-C-0002) to exercise an option for engineering and logistics services in support of the Light Airborne Multi-purpose System MKIII AN/SRQ-4 data link. The estimated level of effort for this option is 124,000 man-hours. Work will be performed in Lexington Park, Md. (51 percent) and St. Inigoes, Md. (49 percent) and is expected to be completed in October 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, St. Inigoes, Md., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

AmeriQual Group, LLC D/B/A AmeriQual Packaging, Evansville, Ind. is being awarded a maximum $174,320,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite quantity contract for delivery of Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) and Humanitarian Daily Ration (HDR). There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 3 proposals solicited with 3 responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is December 31, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM3S1-06-D-Z103).

Sopakco Inc., Mullins, S.C.* is being awarded a maximum $154,257,500 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite quantity contract for delivery of Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) and Humanitarian Daily Ration (HDR). There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 3 proposals solicited with 3 responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is December 31, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM3S1-06-D-Z104).

The Wornick Company,
Cincinnati, Ohio is being awarded a maximum $138,012,500 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite quantity contract for delivery of Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) and Humanitarian Daily Ration (HDR). There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 3 proposals solicited with 3 responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is December 31, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM3S1-06-D-Z105).

Jianas Brothers Packaging Company, Kansas City, Mo.** is being awarded a maximum $7,369,320 firm fixed price, total set-aside, indefinite quantity contract for delivery of Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) food components. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 7 proposals solicited with 5 responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is November 13, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM3S1-06-D-Z119).

Air Force

Lockheed Martin Corporation, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics of Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for a maximum of $30 million. The objective of the VAATE Phase II and III program is to develop revolutionary and innovative
Technology by the 2017 timeframe that will provide a 10X increase in turbo-propulsion affordable capability when carped to a year 2000 state-of-the-art baseline engine. To achieve this goal, the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Propulsion Directorate (RZ) has committed resources to the development of an advanced Technology base for aero-thermodynamics and innovative structures, the development of advanced components, and the assessment and verification of these components in TRL—6 demonstrator engines. The VAATE Program is structured in three phases to achieve 4X (2009), 6X (2013) and 10X (2017) increases in affordable capability, major U.S. turbine engine and weapon system contractors have planned their future turbine engine and weapon system contractors have planned their future turbo-propulsion research and development consistent with the goals of the VAATE Program. Efforts sought under the announcement were to address turbine engine technologies necessary to meet the VAATE Phase II and/or make progress towards Phase III goals. The technologies proposed may apply to more than one capability area and as such may be considered a pervasive Technology. Examples of these technologies are Modeling and Simulation, Emissions and Noise, High Impact Technologies, Manufacturing Technology, Materials, Safety and Readiness and Cost Reduction. There were six areas of research on this effort as follows: Strike/Persistent Engagement, Multi-Mission Mobility, Persistent Agile Combat Support/Enterprise and Platform Enablers (ACS/EPE C2ISR (P-C21SR), Responsive Space Access (RSA), Agile Combat Support/Enterprise and Platform Enablers (ACS/EPE), Air Superiority/Protection. At this time $1,000 has been obligated. AFRL/PKPB, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-D-2926).

The
Air Force is modifying a cost plus award fee contract by exercising an option with Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp of Herndon, Va., for a total estimated cost of $7,600,477.68. This action will provide USSTRATCOM Intelligence Enterprise Support (UIES), for option period two to extend performance period for FY09 (CLIN's 2001 through 2006). The contract is for operations, maintenance, and management of the intelligence information Technology networks and intelligence applications through system administration, database management, software maintenance and enhancements, and communications security, etc. At this time $200 has been obligated. 55th Contracting Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (FA4600-07-C-0001, Modification No.: P00031).

The
Air Force is modifying a Time & Materials contract with Spectrum Communications, Inc., of Hampton, Va., for an estimated $6,353,224. This action will provide Performance Work Statement entitled 'Air Force Distributed Common Ground Station (AF DCGS) Regional Chief Information Assurance Officer, Site Information Assurance, and Developmental Security Manager Support of the AF DCGS Information Assurance Program". At this time $4,375,000 has been obligated. AF ISR Agency, A7KA, San Antonio, Texas, is the contracting activity (GS-35F-0445N, Task Order FA7037-09-F-0021).