Military News

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

USS Kearsarge Demonstrates Navy 'Soft Power' Capabilities

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - In what could serve as the model for the Navy's "soft power" efforts in the future, the USS Kearsarge has cruised the Atlantic for the past few months delivering disaster relief and humanitarian aid to a handful of countries in that region. The fact that it is a 40-ton U.S. military expeditionary strike group flagship delivering supplies and medical, dental and veterinary care makes no difference to those on the receiving end in these impoverished countries, the mission commander for Kearsarge's humanitarian and civic assistance mission said.

"The host nation doesn't care what the number is, or the color [of the ship]," said Navy Capt. Frank Ponds, commander of the mission dubbed "Continuing Promise." "All [it] cares about is that this ship is bringing a critical capability by sea, air and shore to their citizens. And you know what? That's all we care about. We are no threat to any host nation down here, because we are here on a humanitarian assistance mission."

Speaking to a group of bloggers yesterday via conference call from the ship, Ponds called the Kearsarge "the perfect platform" for carrying out the mission. In fact, the same features that are designed into the ship that allow it to deliver critical military supplies, troops and equipment ashore are the same capabilities that make it right for the job of delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief, he said.

In its combat mission, the 844-foot Kearsarge can transport and land ashore troops, tanks, trucks, artillery, ammunition and other supplies necessary to support an assault.

And the ship's medical capabilities are second only to the USNS hospital ships Comfort and Mercy, Ponds said. The Kearsarge can support up to 600 patients while still providing routine care to crewmembers and embarked troops. Its facilities include four main and two emergency operating rooms, four dental operating rooms, X-ray facilities, a blood bank, laboratories and intensive-care ward facilities.

Ponds said the primary purpose of the mission is to reinforce security, stability and prosperity within the region, but that it also provides valuable training for the ship's crew.

The crew is made up of members of all branches of service, Ponds said. The mission allows development of interagency and international relationships, as the crew works closely with other U.S. federal agencies and international aid groups. Ponds said the crew works "shoulder to shoulder and scalpel to scalpel" with physicians and experts from the Netherlands, Canada, Brazil and France.

"So this has been a true interagency, joint, multinational operation delivering much-needed services ... in the Central America, South America and Caribbean region," Ponds said.

The ship is now docked off the shores of Trinidad and Tobago and has about another five weeks left before it heads to its home port in Norfolk, Va.

In the first three countries Kearsarge visited -- Nicaragua, Colombia and the Dominican Republic -- the ship's medical teams screened more than 107,000 patients, treating more than 34,000 patients, and dispensed 64,000 pharmaceuticals, Ponds said. Doctors have performed 104 medical procedures on the ship, and they likely will perform another 60 before it leaves Trinidad and Tobago.

The crew also delivered thousands of pairs of glasses, and its veterinary teams treated more than 4,000 animals, he said.

The ship was pulled off its stop in Colombia three days early to respond to disaster relief requests by Haiti that felt the brunt of hurricanes Hannah, Ike and Gustav. In 18 days, the ship's crew delivered 3.3 million pounds of relief supplies and more than 30,000 gallons of water. Medical teams provided assessments of the storm-ravaged areas, and the civil engineers assessed critical infrastructure needed to deliver aid by roads, Ponds said.

"What we did in Haiti was no small feat, only because we were able to do a sea-based mission with a minimum footprint ashore, delivering some much-needed supplies to the folks in Haiti," he said. "We took to Haiti an invaluable asset in the form of lift, aviation and service lift, to those remote areas that could not be normally accessible by the roadways."

Ponds said the military staff has learned a lot from this mission and has adjusted its operations with each lesson.

"It's been about humbling ourselves to deliver what they think that they need, not what we think that they need, and working with them to deliver these critical capabilities," Ponds said.

Many times, as the crews work to rebuild schools, clinics and other infrastructure, they find themselves partnering more, and taking the lead less, depending on the capabilities of the host nation.

"We've come away with some valuable lessons learned," Ponds said. "And we've used those lessons in stride to adjust our mission as we have gone along."

The Kearsarge is the second Navy amphibious ship to deploy to Latin America and the Caribbean this year for the "Continuing Promise" mission. The USS Boxer wrapped up the first phase in June after visiting three countries.

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MILITARY CONTRACTS October 29, 2008

NAVY

Navistar Defense LLC (ND), Warrenville, Ill., is being awarded a $56,440,112 firm fixed priced delivery order #0007 modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5032) to procure several engineering changes and sustainment items to support the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Category I (CAT I) vehicles currently in theater. Work will be performed in WestPoint, Miss., and work is expected to be completed by the end of November 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems Applied Technologies, Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $25,401,782 modification to a previously awarded cost plus fixed fee contract (N00421-07-C-0013) to exercise an option for approximately 394,000 hours of engineering and technical services. These efforts are in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Special Communications Requirements Division's Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) communications-electronics program. Work will be performed in California, Md. (80 percent), and St. Inigoes, Md. (20 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, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

ManTech Systems Engineering Corp., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $16,203,677 modification to a previously awarded indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract (N00421-08-D-0008) to exercise an option for the procurement of warfare analysis, modeling and simulation (M&S), software development, and analytic program support for the Naval Air Systems Command's Warfare Analysis and Integration Department. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Md. (85 percent) and Lexington Park, Md. (15 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 Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $12,646,800 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00421-05-C-0048) to exercise an option for 200 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) Command Launch Computer (CLC) systems in support of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G platforms. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed in November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1,707,318 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Canadian Commercial Corp., Ontario, Canada is being awarded a $12,439,765 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity long-term contract for repair of the Advanced Imaging Multi-spectral Sensor used on the P-3 Aircraft. This contract contains a 2-year base period and three one-year option periods -- FY 2009 is $6,038,249; FY 2010 is $6,401,516; FY 2011 is $6,595, 291; FY 2012 is $6,822,033; FY 2013 $7,056,270 -- which if exercised, the total contract value will $32,913,359. Work will be performed by Wescam, a subcontractor, in Ontario, Canada, and work is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. On a competitive basis, Canadian Commercial Corporation was the sole responsible and responsive offeror. The Naval Inventory Control Point, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity.

Force Protection Industries, Inc., Ladson, S.C., is being awarded an $11,820,775 firm fixed priced modification to previously awarded delivery order #0007 under contract M67854-07-D-5031 for the purchase of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle EOD cages, increased quantities of prescribed load lists, authorized stockage list, Battle Damage Assessment repair kits, deprocessing kits. Work will be performed in, Ladson, S.C. and in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom area's of responsibilities. Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Navistar Defense LLC (ND), Warrenville, Ill., is being awarded $8,289,394 for firm-fixed-priced delivery order #0006 modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5032) to fund additional Maintenance Workshop Blocks to support MRAP Category I (CAT I) vehicles currently in theater. Work will be performed in WestPoint, Miss., and work is expected to be completed by the end of February 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

ARMY

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y., was awarded Oct. 29, 2008, a $35,942,059 cost plus fixed fee contract. The contract is for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Family of Vehicles (FoV) Technology Development Phase. Work will be performed in Owego, N.Y., and Sealy, Texas with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Web with seven bids received. Tank & Automotive Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-C-0431).

General Tactical Vehicles, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded Oct. 29, 2008 a $45,061,720 cost share contract for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Family of Vehicles (FoV) Technology Development Phase. Work will be performed in Livonia, Mich., Sterling Heights, Mich., Muskegon, Mich., and South Bend, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Web with seven bids received. Tank & Automotive Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity ((W56HZV-08-C-0430).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments-Grounds System Division, Santa Clara, Calif., was awarded Oct. 29, 2008 a $40,493,203 cost share contract for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Family of Vehicles (FoV) Technology Development Phase. Work will be performed in Santa Clara, Calif., Warrenville, Ill., Johnson City, N.Y., and Troy, Mich., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Web with seven bids received. Tank & Automotive Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity ((W56HZV-08-C-0426).

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price contract with DTS Aviation Systems of Fort Worth, Texas, for $11,456,736. This action will provide for contractor logistics support for the C-21 Aircraft, consisting of maintenance, repair and support functions. At this time all funds have been obligated. OC-ALC/727 ACSG/PKA, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8106-05-C-0001/P00125).

Officials Urge TSP Participants to Stay Calm Amid Market Turbulence

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Defense Department civilians and
military members who participate in the Thrift Savings Plan should try to stay calm after recent stock market gyrations have reduced many retirement account balances, senior officials said. "The last few weeks have been difficult times for all of us," Gregory T. Long, executive director of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board,wrote in an Oct. 7 letter addressed to TSP participants.

Long also is the chief executive officer and manager of the TSP that serves federal civilians and
military members. The TSP is similar to 401(k) retirement plans used by private-sector enterprises.

Amid the global economic crisis, the TSP's stock-market-invested C, S, and I Funds "have experienced sharp declines," Long acknowledged in the letter. However, TSP participants should view the present situation "as a time for prudence, not panic," he wrote.

Many participants, both those nearing retirement and people with years to serve until retirement, have transferred their TSP assets from C, S and I Funds into the more-stable G Fund, which is backed by the U.S. government, said Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs for the Thrift Investment Board, which oversees TSP.

Echoing Long's belief that TSP participants should not panic, Trabucco said people shouldn't constantly switch their TSP funds back and forth according to stock market conditions.

"It's unfortunate, because what happens is, as people are running away from the stock funds, they are missing the potential for when those stock funds snap back, as they did yesterday with a 10-percent return," Trabucco said, referring to the Dow Jones' recent near 900-point rally.

A much-better course is to develop a balanced, long-range retirement investment plan, Trabucco said, instead of routinely switching TSP monies between various funds.

"If you don't think that you're capable of putting together a long-term investment plan, you are exactly the type of person who we had in mind when we created what we call our 'L' Funds, or life-cycle funds," Trabucco said. The L Funds represent a good choice for both younger and older employees, he said, because they use risk strategies that are weighted according to the participant's age and proximity to retirement.

Trabucco acknowledged that the stock market has been very volatile, "with very big swings" over the past two months. However, regardless of economic conditions, it is imperative that TSP participants develop long-term retirement-savings investment plans, he said.

"You just can't get overwhelmed with these short-term ups and downs" in the stock market, Trabucco said. "If you have a long-term plan, stick with your long-term plan. If you don't have a long-term plan, maybe it's time to start thinking about putting one together."

Air Force 'Moving in Right Direction' on Nuclear Program, Gates Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pointed yesterday to broad initiatives within the
Air Force he said are helping to return its nuclear mission to "the standards of excellence for which it was known throughout the entire Cold War." Speaking at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, Gates credited airmen with helping the Air Force recover from problems that came to light over the past year regarding its handling of nuclear weapons and related material.

Those issues involved a mistaken shipment of sensitive missions parts to Taiwan in 2006, and an unauthorized transfer of munitions from Minot
Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in August 2007.

Gates responded by ordering the resignations of then-
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and then-Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. Another 15 officers, including six generals, received disciplinary action in connection with the nose-cone shipment.
Gates said yesterday he's confident in measures the new
leadership -- Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz -- is taking to turn the situation around. "The Air Force is now moving in the right direction," Gates said, expressing confidence that headway will continue in what he said "will undoubtedly be a long-term process."

Gates noted several measures that aim to, in Donley's words, "refocus the nuclear enterprise."

That effort, described in the Air Force's recently released "Nuclear Enterprise Roadmap" calls for a new Global Strike Command and a Headquarters Air Force staff agency to handle nuclear assets, a nuclear weapons center and a single process for inspections.

"This roadmap will enable the
Air Force to effectively secure, maintain, operate and sustain our nation's nuclear capabilities and expertise," Donley said last week in releasing the plan. "It is the foundation for reinvigorating the Air Force nuclear enterprise to reestablish the confidence in our ability to provide nuclear deterrence to our nation and our allies."

Donley told airmen at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., the roadmap "will provide focus to the nuclear mission so that it will not get confused with other business, missions and functions across the
Air Force."

Gates said the standup of a new agency within the Air Staff focused exclusively on nuclear policy and oversight is a positive step in that direction.

He said the proposed Global Strike Command, which will bring all the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-coded bombers together under one organizational chain, also will help to bring better focus to the nuclear enterprise.

This command will include 8th Air Force, with headquarters at Barksdale and now under Air Combat Command; and 20th Air Force at F.E. Warren
Air Force Base, Wyo., currently under Air Force Space Command.

Gates cited other signs that the Air Force is taking action. The Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., has been "revitalized and expanded, with clearly understood chains of command to prevent repeats of pass problems," he said.

In addition, he said the Air Force is undergoing a top-to-bottom review of what items to place under the Nuclear Weapons Center's control. Gates explained that many nuclear-related components – including the nose cones that inadvertently were shipped to Taiwan – had been migrated into the regular
Air Force supply chain during the 1990s as a streamlining measure.

Gates also pointed to efforts within the Air Force to develop "a stronger, more centralized inspection process to ensure that nuclear material is handled properly." This measure, he said will be bolstered by expanded training and career development for security personnel assigned to nuclear duties.

Meanwhile, Gates said, he looks forward to recommendations from a task force he formed to review the way the
Air Force, and the Defense Department overall, ensure proper leadership and oversight of the nuclear enterprise. The so-called Schlesinger Panel, named because it is chaired by former Energy and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, is expected to report its findings in December.

Mullen Cites Culture of Change During Air War College Address

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

Oct. 29, 2008 - Change is the cornerstone and is at the heart of every aspect of today's
military, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told more than 800 Air War College students at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., yesterday. I see it in technology. I see it in people. I see it in missions. I see it in the joint world, and I see it in the coalition world," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said. "I see change spanning the full spectrum of what we're required to do right now."

Speaking to a crowd of mostly senior U.S.
Air Force officers, Mullen spoke about some changes occurring in their pilot ranks, citing new requirements and advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles. The remotely controlled UAVs gather imagery intelligence and even launch attacks on enemy forces, minimizing the risks pilots need to face.

"When you look at the requirements, we have to fly unmanned vehicles," Mullen said. "That's hard stuff, because you want to fly a jet, but now, all of a sudden, your career path gets ventured into sitting behind a console."

Though it may not be exactly the excitement pilots signed up for, the UAV mission is as critical as any other during today's fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, the admiral said. Mullen added that in the foreseeable future, more and more pilots will be operating UAVs.

"You may not like that, but I'm telling you that's a vital mission, and we are going there," Mullen said.

The focus on change in today's
military is visible in its efforts in the Middle East, Mullen said. Improvised explosive devices once were almost too much for U.S. forces, he said, but vigilance and the ability to learn their enemy allowed U.S. troops to adapt. Today, a high percentage of roadside bombs are discovered before they even have the chance to detonate.

"We have dramatically closed the gap in the IED war," he said. "In 2004, we were a far second in that war. We were months down the road to adjustment. But now we are adapting more quickly than [the enemy]."

Mullen challenged the students to share their ideas and experiences during their year in school as they spend time away from today's heavy operational tempo. He assured them that changes, advancements and progress aren't stopping, and reminded them that the
military will expect them, as leaders, to adapt whenever necessary to ensure national security.

"We live in a time of enormous change, and it will continue to change," he said. "And you, by virtue of your seniority, are at the heart of that change."

Center Serves as Hub for Air Mobility Operations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - There is more to flying a mission than just hopping on the aircraft and cranking the engines. Air Mobility Command's 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center here is the nexus for the global air mission for the U.S.
military.

"We plan missions, resource the crews and the aircraft, task the missions to the wings and command and control the missions from here,"
Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Solo, the center's commander, said.

The 618th reports to 18th
Air Force and is the hub for planning and directing tanker and transport aircraft operations. The air operations center is responsible for around-the-clock centralized command and control of both Air Force and commercial-contract air mobility aircraft.

When fully mobilized, Air Mobility Command has 1,322 aircraft it can call on. "We're not at full mobilization right now," Solo said during an interview. "On a typical day, we command and control about 450 aircraft all over the world, flying 6,000 passengers a day and 2,000 tons of cargo."

The center plans about 900 sorties a day, including alert missions that often don't have to launch. Aircraft are affected by weather and by maintenance, and the enemy gets a vote. "We typically fly about 80 percent of those [900 sorties] day in and day out," Solo said.

The command is always leaning forward, the general said. "There are days when I wake up and see something on the morning news and I say, 'Oh, boy. We're going to be busy for the next few days,'" he said. This happened most recently during hurricane season when, Gustav and Ike were bearing down on the United States.

In August, Air Mobility Command had to move Georgian troops from Baghdad to Tbilisi when Russia invaded their homeland. Solo said an agreement with the Georgian
leadership included a quick move back to the capital if necessary. "The move was something we knew was possible ever since they deployed with us," he said.

Georgia's nearly 1,800 troops in Iraq were serving in several locations around the country. In the agreement, the United States promised to redeploy the troops within four days at Georgia's request should the troops be needed for an emergency.

When the Russians invaded, "it was pretty safe to assume that Georgia would be recalling their troops," Solo said. "So we started looking at what we might do, should that call come, and it did come."

Launching that mission was a display of
Air Force know-how, Solo said. Planes and crews came from around the area. They needed fuel to fly the mission. An air field needed to be identified in case a mission needed to be diverted. Crew rest, security, overflight privileges and more went into flying the Georgian troops home. Meanwhile, Russian troops were near the Georgian capital, and it was an active combat zone. The Georgian troops and their personal gear loaded aboard the C-17s, and all the troops were delivered within the four-day deadline.

Hurricane season also provides challenges. Airmen participate in planning conferences throughout the winter and spring with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Transportation Command, state officials and others to ensure everyone is in the loop. During the past hurricane season, the command helped plan missions for aeromedical evacuation, pre-positioning supplies and getting people out of the path of the storms.

Solo said an operation the size of the control center comes with its fair share of worries for its boss, but "I have such great folks working here that I'm rarely surprised to a large degree and a large scale."

"The folks are very good at what they do," he said. "The people who are here are here because they love this mission and because we are launching our nation's airlift and air refueling and see the impact that it makes. I don't have many sleepless nights."

The air refueling mission is crucial to the American
military's global reach and success, Solo said. The command off-loads an average of 5 million pounds of fuel a day. The KC-135 Stratotanker still is the workhorse of that effort, though the average KC-135 in the fleet is 48 years old.

"In order to accomplish that mission, you have to do an awful lot to maintain and upgrade the aircraft ... so that they're certified to fly in the international air traffic environment we're in today and they are able to deliver the fuel that we need in the volume that we need it," Solo said.

The maintenance personnel have so far been up to the job, he said, "but it is a tremendous effort."

The
Air Force wants a new tanker, and though the contract has been mired in controversy, that doesn't mean the aircraft isn't needed. A new tanker not only would improve the fleet's reliability, but also would give Air Mobility Command more capability, Solo said.

"The tanker we're asking for would not only have 'stiff boom' capability that we require for [refueling] Air Force fixed-wing assets, but would provide the basket refueling for
Navy and Marine partners and our foreign partners," he said.

Any new tanker not only would haul gas, but also would be designed to carry a good amount of cargo, and could be fitted to carry wounded servicemembers home. Any new aircraft also would have to have the legs to make a flight from Afghanistan to Washington without refueling, the general said.

The work at the center doesn't stop. "We have a mission that we've got to support every day," Solo said. "There are two wars that we must support, plus hotspots around the world. We're providing support to theater engagement plans to combatant commanders around the world, and support to exercises."

But in addition to caring for the command's aircraft, the general said, Air Mobility Command leaders also must remember that the mission tempo also results in wear and tear on people.

"After so many years of conflict now, that tends to take a toll on people over time," he said. "We need to be concerned with their needs and make sure they have their needs -- the family and professional development."

Finally, Solo said, the command has to keep an eye on the future.

"I know darn well that how we do things in 10 years is going to be different than what we are doing today," he said. "I have to look out there and see what's available technology-wise that will help us better be able to command and control and execute this mission in the future."

'Readiness Challenge' Events to Help Families Manage Finances

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - Installation commanders from all military services and the Defense Department will begin conducting "Financial Readiness Challenge" events nationwide next week to help
military families deal with the effects of today's economy. Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., will host the first event Nov. 5 in partnership with the deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.

Together, installation commanders and DoD will bring a full range of local, state and federal resources to help military personnel and their families manage their finances effectively, officials said.

Event planners said the Financial Readiness Challenge events -- being conducted for the first time -- are paving the way for an expanding series of customized financial outreach efforts that address the unique issues military communities face.

"Each event is designed to help service personnel and family members make direct contact with local, state and federal subject matter experts -- financial counselors and educators," Lynda C. Davis, deputy undersecretary for
military community and family policy, said. "These experts will provide information and assistance on such topics as budgets and spending plans, stretching your dollars to make ends meet, credit management, debt elimination, car buying, housing loans and foreclosures, savings and investments, and financial, estate and retirement planning."

Financial Readiness Challenge events include keynote speakers such as Public Television's Kelvin Boston and author and lecturer Brooke Stephens, as well as others who address topics such as credit scores and myths, the perils of debt and getting what you need and want in today's economy.

Hands-on workshop sessions will provide information on debt elimination, investing, car- and home-buying strategies, the Thrift Savings Plan and retirement planning, building a better budget and spending plan, paying for college, identity theft, credit reports, and what to do in today's economy, officials said.

Certified financial planners and counselors will answer questions and provide counseling services. Sign-ups for private counseling appointments will be available prior to and during each event.

Special financial education programs for children will be available at some Financial Challenge events, including Sammy Rabbit for younger children, Junior Achievement for older students and Jump $tart for all ages, including college. Child care by pre-registration also will be available at some events, officials said.

All workshops, counseling services and light refreshments will be provided at no cost to
military personnel, their families and organizational representatives.

Financial Readiness Challenge events are scheduled at the following installations:

--
Air Force: Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Nov 5; Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 13; Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 14-15; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, week of Dec. 8; and Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., week of Feb 25.

-- Joint commands and
Army: Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, Wash., Dec. 4; Fort Belvoir, Va., Jan. 24; and Fort Polk, La., March 7.

--
Navy and Marine Corps: Base Consortium in San Diego Region, Calif., week of Feb. 25; Base Consortium in Norfolk, Va., Feb. 25; and Naval Base Kitsap, Wash., Feb. 23.

(From a Defense Department Office of
military Community and Family Policy news release.)

Commander Discusses 'Jewel in Crown' of America's Military

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - The United States
military is the best-manned, best-equipped and best-trained force in the world, but that doesn't mean a thing if it can't get to the fight. The 138,000 military and civilian men and women of the U.S. Transportation Command and its service components – the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, the Navy's Military Sealift Command and the Army's Military Deployment and Distribution Command – "are really the jewel in the crown" of the American military, Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, TransCom commander, said in an interview here yesterday.

The command gives the United States the strategic ability "that is just tremendous" to move and sustain its forces globally, the general said. "That allows our warfighters to have great flexibility in their options," he explained. "If we've done this right, they never worry about us. They just assume it's going to be there."

The command – established in 1987 –supplies the day-to-day needs of a
military force fighting two wars and operating in more than 70 countries. With civilian partners, the command also stands ready to support humanitarian assistance missions such as the ones that followed the earthquake in Pakistan, the tsunami in Indonesia or hurricanes in the United States.

The command has its own alphabet soup of acronyms, officials here said, but the mission is simple: get the warfighters to the fight, sustain them during the fight and bring them home. TransCom uses air, sea and land modes of transportation to accomplish the mission. Command officials prioritize requests from the combatant commands and put together the best way to deliver the capabilities. Depending on the mission, requests may be filled by airlift, sealift, ground transportation or – more likely – a combination of them all.

McNabb said the transportation of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan is a good example of the way TransCom works. In July 2007, very few MRAPs were in service in Iraq. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked Congress for more MRAPs, and the vehicles began coming off assembly lines and were readied for shipment to U.S. Central Command.

As the "distribution process owner," TransCom has end-to-end responsibility for the supply chain, from assembly line to user. The command worked closely with industrial partners to plan the movement of the MRAPs to Central Command and monitored the various choke points along the way. The effort got under way in September 2007, and by the end of the year, 1,500 MRAPs were in the combat theater. To date, more than 10,300 of the vehicles have been delivered.

This was more than just collaboration, it was fusion, McNabb said.

"If you think about collaboration, a lot of that is just knowing what everyone is doing," he said. "But if you think of why you want collaboration, it's because you want to synchronize what they're doing. That's fusion."

The command flew the first vehicles to the theater aboard heavy-lift aircraft. Later shipments went by sea. In addition, TransCom officials had to ensure there were people in theater who knew how to off-load the vehicles and ensure they were combat ready. The command also worked with CentCom logistics officials to get the vehicles from airports or seaports to the men and women who needed the protection these vehicles provide.

This was an example of all involved working together to identify potential bottlenecks for the distribution process and put in place ways to smooth the flow of goods and materials, McNabb said.

"Synchronizing" and "orchestrating" are two terms constantly heard at TransCom, and McNabb said he wants to improve the distribution coordination in the
military. The TransCom organization charged with this responsibility is the Deployment and Distribution Operations Center, "a true fusion cell," where members of the command and its service components receive the combatant commands' requirements and generate distribution solutions, McNabb explained.

In determining the best solutions to fulfill the need, the group asks a lot of questions, the general said. Should the goods be delivered by military assets or by civilian lift partners? Should it be delivered by air or sea or by some combination of both?

"I want to put everything together in a way that is precise," McNabb said. "You fuse your operation. You need to have redundancy in your system, but you want to make sure you have it all orchestrated."

With new organizations called joint deployment and distribution operations centers, TransCom now has the end-to-end visibility it needs to do its job and provide warfighters with better service, McNabb said. The first of these stood up in CentCom in January 2007, and now all of the combatant commands have them, he said.

Technology will help with the transportation mission, the general said, noting that TransCom is the DoD proponent for automatic identification technology and radio frequency identification. Both provide better visibility of cargo in transit. "If you can see it, you trust it," McNabb said.

The technology will allow maintenance or supply specialists to use computers to see exactly where their piece of cargo is. Overnight delivery companies pioneered the technology in the civilian world, and just as people waiting for a package can track where it is, DoD personnel will be able to do the same, McNabb said.

Eventually, the general said, this will change the customer's behavior. Now, supply personnel may order parts two or three times, because they don't know where their gizmo is, but they want to be sure they get it.

"FedEx changed peoples' behavior with their tracking system," he said. "People can trust that they will deliver it when they say. That's how we want [servicemembers] to view the supply chain. They can watch it every day and verify that it's moving. With that trust, you also save a lot of money."

The command has many other initiatives working, including how best to deliver supplies to places where the infrastructure has been wiped out and coming up with better ways to write and monitor contracts. TransCom officials are looking at ways to increase access to Afghanistan, and are working with commercial carriers to ensure that vital part of the supply chain is healthy. They are taking best practices learned from civilian organizations and adapting them to
military applications, McNabb said.

The fusion idea is at the center of all this, the general said. When TransCom's new headquarters building opens here in 2010, the expanded operations center will include people not currently on the main floor.

"We don't know what synergy will result from that," McNabb said. "The idea is to get to where we are fusing all actions, and everything is on the table. When you have a championship organization like this one, people are always looking for ways to make it better."

Job No. 1 for the command is to take care of the warfighter, the general said.

"The very next job is to make sure we can do this for the future, and that depends on a strong sealift industry and a very strong airlift industry," he said. The economy has not been kind to the airline industry, McNabb said, so he is worried. He is meeting with airline chief executive officers in the coming weeks to see what effect the economic downturn will have on
military operations.

"The partnership with air and sea lift companies is a very cheap way to maintain the military's capabilities for war," he said.

McNabb recently returned from visiting the TransCom assets in the CentCom area of operations, and from consultations with leaders in the region.

"What I found is how far we keep coming," he said. From the ports to airfields, he said, everybody is looking at ways to improve services to the troops.

"It is the way that everybody is working as a member of the team that is amazing to me, and humbling," McNabb said.

Face of Defense: World War Two Hero Motivates Soldier

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - A Multinational Division Baghdad soldier from the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team who draws his motivation from a
World War Two hero joined the exclusive company of soldiers who have earned membership in the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club here in September. Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Cameron, who hails from College Park, Ga., and serves with the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, was nominated by Master Sgt. Ron Camp, his supervisor, to compete for the privilege of becoming a Sgt. Audie Murphy Club member.

Murphy, who went on to become a Hollywood movie star, was
World War Two's most decorated U.S. soldier. The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club began in 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas. It expanded to include all of 3rd Corps five years later, grew to include all of Forces Command in 1993, and a year later it expanded Armywide.

Camp said he nominated Cameron because "he has a strong aggression to accomplish the mission before he's told to."

Cameron said his interest in joining the
Army dates back to when he was a student at Benjamin Banneker High School and a teacher asked her students to write a report on someone from a list of 50 notable people. Cameron said he chose Murphy as his subject only because his name seemed different.

But his research on Murphy and his accomplishments inspired and motivated him to serve his nation in the
Army, Cameron said, and eventually drove him to excel to the point that he would earn membership in the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club.

As Cameron began his research, he said, he began to see how Murphy overcame most of the obstacles he faced with his personal courage and sheer determination, and he summoned up those qualities within himself. "With the help of the recruiter and the example of Audie Murphy," he said, "I was able to lose a massive amount of weight to join the
Army."

Though Murphy was an infantryman, Cameron chose to be a fires support specialist. "As I read the Audie Murphy story," he explained, "I got excited after he picked up a [hand microphone] in a burned-out armored personenl carrier to call for fire. Giving them the enemy's position saved the whole platoon. That earned him the Medal of Honor."

Murphy's story motivated him to make a life-changing decision, Cameron said.

"When I was in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life until I read his story," he said. "I knew for sure after writing the report on Audie Murphy that I was going to join the Army, because I wanted to be somewhat like him."

He said he was even more motivated when he read about Murphy overcoming his own internal demons in his battle against his addiction to the prescription drugs given to him for "shell shock" after
World War Two.

"Murphy recognized he had a problem with drugs and decided to go 'cold turkey' off the drugs by locking himself up in a hotel room for a week to deal with the withdrawal," said Cameron. "I was really impressed then."

Cameron said he channeled that determination against his own inner struggle – his weight.

"The recruiter told me that I was overweight by over 100 pounds, and I could not join until I lost the weight," he said.

And up stepped another motivating force, his
Army recruiter, who worked with Cameron for a year while he was in the delayed entry program to help him lose the weight and achieve his goal. Cameron ultimately succeeded in his battle over his weight problem and he became a member of the Army team in June 2000 as a fires support specialist, and now he offers advice to fellow soldiers.

"Speed bumps will always come, but once you hit that speed bump, don't quit," he said. "Just keep trucking so you can accomplish your goals. Once you accomplish your goal, set your next goal and accomplish it as well."

Cameron said his next goal is to achieve the rank of master sergeant within 12 years of service.

"I have done great things in the Army, and the Army is the only thing that I know and I love," he said. "I met my wife, who is my soulmate, and we had our four boys in the
Army. Everything I have, I have because of the Army."

(From a Multinational Division Baghdad news release.)

82nd Airborne Trains to Re-assume Global Response Force Mission

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - If there's one thing that keeps the 82nd Airborne's deputy commander awake at night, he said, it's competing requirements that could threaten the division's ability to project no-notice combat power and conduct forced-entry missions.
Army Brig. Gen. William Mayville shared his concerns as the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team trains to re-assume its role in June as the U.S. global response force. In this capacity, the brigade will be on 24/7 standby, ready to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours.

Its mission, if called, would be to forcibly enter and seize a defended airfield, then build up combat power to support follow-on
military operations.

The 2nd BCT will reclaim the longstanding 82nd Airborne Division role – one some say defines the All American Division's very existence. The 82nd passed the mission to the 101st Airborne Division last year when it was called to deploy to Iraq as part of the troop surge. At the time, the division's three other brigades were already deployed.

The deployment represented the first time since 2003 that the entire division was deployed from Fort Bragg.

"We shared the wealth with other people, because the whole 82nd was deployed," said
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel, the division's top noncommissioned officer. "We didn't want to leave the United States here without a force ready to answer the nation's call if they were called to do something. And so we started passing it around to other divisions to pick up the slack."

With the 82nd now enjoying what Mayville called "a rarity," with all four brigades now home, the 2nd BCT is training up to resume its role as the ready brigade. Plans call for it to assume the mission for a full year, rather than rotating it among the division's other brigades every quarter.

By mid-day Oct. 23, Mayville reported, the division already had conducted seven airfield seizure operations, dropped 36 heavy-drop platforms, conducted several tactical air-land operations and jumped more than 5,000 paratroopers, with another nighttime jump scheduled that night.

"It's important that we understand and maintain this fundamental requirement to project combat power and forced-entry missions," Mayville said. "So far, this is not a problem. ... But this requirement has got to compete with all these [other] near-term requirements," including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mayville's concern is that readiness for the quick-response mission requires practice – not just by the paratroopers and the
Air Force assets that deliver them, but by every entity that would support the mission.

"There is a lot of investment in this readiness business, and it has to be practiced," he said. "You have to have a force that has all the enablers that would be needed in an expeditionary environment, and they have to be ready and work together and train together."

Last week's airfield seizure training successfully incorporated these participants. But Mayville said he's concerned that when push comes to shove, current requirements could compete against future training opportunities.

"I worry about this," he said. "This is not an 82nd issue. This is a readiness issue."

Mayville said he brings up this concern every opportunity he gets. "Readiness and no-notice capabilities do not happen by accident," he said. "[They come] with foresight, with investment, with training – joint training.

"We just have to constantly remind ourselves that as hard as things are today, there is something out there that we don't see that we have got to be ready for," he said.

"There will be a call at a time not of our choosing that this nation is going to turn and say, 'Get something there now,'" he said. "And that doesn't just happen because someone made a phone call."

Military Linguists Learn Language Skills Vital to Operations

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - Foreign languages are vital to an effective
military force, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center's provost said in an interview here. "It's absolutely vital that we have people on the ground who can speak [the native language]," said retired Army Col. Donald C. Fischer, a former military linguist.

To ensure the military has those resources, DLI instructs
military student linguists in 24 languages requested by the services. Many of those languages, including her native language of Hindi, must be taught beginning with the most basic concepts, said Madhumita Mehrotra, a native of India and an instructor at the language center.

"We started with basic sounds and script, [and] within three weeks, they get to know sound and script," she said of her current class, which is 33 weeks into its 48-week program.

Mehrotra is particular about how her students learn her native language.

"I'm very much particular with their pronunciation, because Hindi is such that one additional ... hard vowel attached to the consonant, it changes the whole meaning of the word," she said. "So they have to be very, very particular with what ... kind of sound they are making. It makes the whole word change.

"They're doing pretty good," she added. "They are at the level where they should be at this time."

Despite the difficulty of learning the language,
Air Force Airman 1st Class Chelsye Shaffer said she is enjoying the challenges it presents.

"It's a great language," she said. "The teachers are awesome, [and] they help a lot."

Air Force Airman 1st Class Alvertis Bishop agreed, but showed his hand when he explained why he likes studying Hindi. "I've been telling people that I wouldn't want any other language, because we get all the festivals," he said with a smile. The two Hindi students sang and Shaffer recited a Hindi poem during an August celebration of Indian culture for their 11-student class.

It's one thing to study a language in a classroom setting, but quite another to put it, and a knowledge of the culture, to use in real life, a former
Marine who's now a soldier has learned.

The
Army staff sergeant, who requested his name not be used for security reasons, served a tour in Iraq with the 1st Marines. On patrol near Baghdad one morning, the members of his unit reached the location where they'd been told to establish a roadblock and wait for trucks to come and pick them up.

A group of Arabic-speaking men approached them and began talking. None of the Marines spoke or understood Arabic, but they soon learned the men had been relaying information back to counterparts. Suddenly, the group of men was gone, and three rocket-propelled grenades landed near the Marines, starting a "full-on fight," the staff sergeant said.

"If we would have known any Arabic, we would have caught on to what they were doing before it started," he said. "So I just didn't want to go back without knowing Arabic."

But it's not easy for a
Marine to switch from infantry to linguistics, which is classified as an intelligence job, he said, so he decided to switch to the Army with the intent of studying Arabic at DLI.

Now about a year into the 18-month Arabic program, he said he realizes how important it is for servicemembers to understand both the language and the culture of other lands.

"When I went there, I had no clue," he said. "I was completely ignorant to the Middle East. I had no knowledge of it [or] the culture of Islam. There's a lot of things that if you do wrong [in] their culture, then they can take that really offensively. It can antagonize them, and it can actually create a fight that didn't need to happen."

Just a little bit of knowledge and understanding on servicemembers' part goes a long way, he added, noting that DLI conducts culturally based instruction that includes cultural immersion activities.

"Just understanding them, I think, allows them to respect us more," he said.

Coast Guard Gets Expanded Budget for Fiscal 2009

By Navy Seaman William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - The
Coast Guard received a large budget increase for fiscal 2009 as part of the Consolidated Security Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act, a senior Coast Guard officer said last week. "In our operating expenses account and appropriation, we were appropriated $43.6 million to enhance maritime safety, security, and stewardship," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Keith Taylor, assistant commandant for resources and chief financial officer, said to online journalists during a teleconference Oct. 24.

Taylor said the money will allow the Coast Guard to hire about 500 new maritime inspectors, maritime investigators, and boat crew and boarding team members. The funding also will enhance the Coast Guard's ability to manage rule-making projects and provide for training and support, he said.

"There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of maritime trade over the last 10 years, as well as the use of our maritime transportation system," Taylor said. "This growth in this area will allow us to add capacity, to meet the requirements that we have, and begin to address the shortfalls that we have in this area."

In addition to maritime support, he said, the budget addresses
Coast Guard requirements in other areas including inspection, command and control, and intelligence.

To fulfill inspection requirements for the U.S. towing-vessel fleet, Taylor said, the Coast Guard has increased its capacity to provide armed-boat escorts and to carry out security boardings. The service also is enhancing its ability to test contingency plans that address environmental hazards in the port and coastal regions, he added.

"It's allowing us to ... continue to beat all the mission demands we have across all threats and all hazards," the admiral said. "It's allowing us to keep critical acquisition projects on track, and being able to continue to deliver new assets to the men and women of the
Coast Guard, so they can meet mission demands."

The
Coast Guard received $38.1 million to help the Coast Guard establish comprehensive intelligence and awareness regimens. The funds will provide 100 more positions and enhance cryptologic service groups, which provide intelligence and maritime domain awareness efforts, he said.

The
Coast Guard also plans to add more than 200 "watch standers" at command centers nationwide, Taylor said, to improve situational awareness and monitor the new rescue circuits.

Taylor said the increased budget will allow the
Coast Guard to keep critical projects on schedule and meet mission demands.

(
Navy Seaman William Selby serves in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Transportation Command Delivers on Promises, General Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - As far as
Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb is concerned, U.S. Transportation Command is "a championship team" that delivers on its promises. TransCom, which McNabb commands, came into existence in 1987 during a time of reform and emphasis on joint capabilities following the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. Its mission is simple: deploy warfighters, sustain them, and bring them home.

The command and its service components – the
Air Force's Air Mobility Command, the Navy's Military Sealift Command and the Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command – are responsible for the U.S. Military's transportation needs. Whether it's shipping bullets and beans to U.S. Central Command or household goods from Japan, the command has a hand in it.

The effort is staggering, with 138,000 servicemembers and civilians involved in the effort. Commercial industry partners also shoulder a significant load.

TransCom synchronizes and coordinates the transportation mission. It works with the other combatant commands to best fulfill their transportation requests. And the personnel of the command have demonstrated to the other combatant command that they know what they are doing.

"When we first started, commanders would call and say they needed this many C-17 [transport jets]," said
Navy Capt. Chuck Baldwin, the senior Deployment Distribution Operations Center chief. "Now they just tell us what capability they need transported and when they need it. We do the rest."

The solution to transportation needs may be airlift, it may be sealift, or it may be a combination of the two. The delivery could be made by commercial ships or airplanes or by
Military assets. The command determines what makes the best sense.

But the bottom line of every decision is what the warfighters need, TransCom officials said. For example, the command shipped the first mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to U.S. Central Command via air because
leaders wanted these vehicles immediately. The vehicles have been successful in protecting the lives of American servicemembers who were exposed to roadside bombs and car bombs. Once the first vehicles satisfied immediate needs, TransCom transported the vast majority of the vehicles via ship.

In another case, it made sense to airdrop humanitarian daily rations to Afghans, even though sending the rations via ship was just a fraction of the cost.

The operations center is a large, dimly lit room in the command's headquarters here.
Military and civilian personnel man the facility 24/7, keeping an eye on every military mission globally.

And that footprint is huge. Air Mobility Command has 1,322 aircraft. On any given day, planners schedule 900 sorties, including air refueling missions. An Air Mobility Command aircraft is taking off or landing every 90 seconds. With 123,600 personnel, the command is the largest portion of the TransCom team.

The
Navy's Military Sealift Command is the next-largest component, with a civilian and Military force of about 8,100 people. Only about 20 percent of the command's capacity is dedicated to Transportation Command; the rest goes to replenishing the U.S. Navy's combat ships. One Sealift Command roll-on/roll-off ship can carry the same load as 400 C-17s, or enough to move all the equipment of an Army brigade combat team. On any given day, 35 sealift command ships are loading, off-loading or underway in support of the TransCom mission.

The
Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command has about 4,900 military and civilian personnel. On any given day, the command honchos 100 rail car shipments, 1,961 shipments of household goods, almost 300 privately owned vehicles and 2,298 domestic freight shipments. In addition, the command runs the ports in U.S. Central Command.

TransCom also places a heavy reliance on commercial air and sea carriers. More than 90 percent of
Military personnel moves are via commercial air carriers. Commercial shipping lines carry most of the food, fuel and supplies needed.

The members of Transportation Command and its service partners continue to improve service and programs in place, officials said. TransCom officials are working with the Defense Department's office of program analysis and evaluation on a study of mobility capabilities and requirements to be finished in May.

Working Dogs, Handlers Share Special Bond

By Susan Huseman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - A
military working dog team here is waiting to find out whether a canine warrior will be awarded the Combat Action Badge. Army Staff Sgt. Cully Parr, a dog handler with the 554th Military Police Company Military Working Dog Section, was deployed to Afghanistan with Rex, an 11-year-old Belgium Malinois shepherd, when they were attacked by insurgents.

"We were caught up in a two-hour firefight – where we were engaged by the enemy with indirect fire and small arms fire – during a town hall meeting for the local Afghan community," Parr said. "For over a week we went out to villages and informed the people about the meeting. We had humanitarian aid, such as rice and other supplies, for them at the meeting to take back to their villages."

But during the meeting, enemy fighters attacked. "The first thing I did was get Rex behind a pillar, and I took up a position next to him," Parr said. Despite the ensuing chaos, Rex, a patrol and explosive detection dog, never budged. "That's where obedience training comes into play," Parr said. "He's got to stay there, so he doesn't risk getting injured."

Now back at Stuttgart, garrison life for the two might not be nearly as exciting, but it certainly isn't dull. The day starts early, at 5:30 a.m., when the dogs get the first of two feedings. Training follows.

"Obedience training is a daily occurrence," Parr said. "We'll also set up a problem where we train on odor, whether it is explosive or narcotics. We're always training to go downrange, though. We have dogs and handlers going out about every six months."

For a dog, the training is anything but work. "Everything we do is about play. When we're out looking for explosives, it's all play," Parr said. "Each dog has a little toy they're working for, whether it is a ball, a kong or a tug toy. When they find the odor, they'll sit on that odor, and then they get their toy. Rex has a rubber tug toy and loves it."

Training is a big part of the day, but there are other duties, Parr noted, including "a lot of paperwork that comes with the job."

"Everything we do with the dogs is annotated," Parr said. "We'll also get out on the gates, do fence-line checks and back patrols up when responding to alarms. We're also constantly checking the mail that's coming into the [Regional Post Office]."

The section also puts on demonstrations. "The main purpose of the demos is to allow the units to see what we're capable of doing, whether it's detection, bite work or obedience," Parr explained. "It allows them to see how they can use us when they go downrange. There are times when we're asked to do something out of the capabilities of the dog. For example, our dogs aren't trained to search mine fields. That's a different kind of dog."

Besides training, the handlers also care for the dogs. Eleven dogs are now at the kennel, as two soldiers and their dogs are deployed.

"We're responsible for training one dog, but we're responsible for the care and maintenance of at least one more," said
Army Spc. Damen Tokarz, also of the 554th MP Company.

"It's a lot of work keeping the dogs groomed and cleaning the kennels," he said. "We clean their runs every day, scrub them from top to bottom and disinfect once a week, bathe the dogs a minimum of once every two weeks, brush them at least every other day, feed, water and give them their medicine." They also take the dogs that don't have handlers out for exercise.

He's not complaining, though.

"Being a dog handler is a thoroughly enjoyable job, but it's physically, mentally and emotionally demanding," Tokarz said.

When the dogs have dental or veterinary appointments, the handlers are there right alongside their dogs. The U.S.
Army Europe military Working Dog Program is in the process of making sure all dogs have a gastropexy operation, a surgical procedure performed on large-breed dogs to prevent bloat, a life-threatening condition in which the stomach flips over and expands, trapping air and gases in the stomach.

Tokarz took his dog, Cedo, an 8-year-old German shepherd, and Rex to the vet clinic on Oct. 15 for the procedure. "Tonight I will be with Cedo and Rex for 24 hours," he said. "I'll check on them every half hour to make sure they're OK. It's not required, but we love and care for our dogs."

The emotional bond between handler and dog is a strong one. Just ask
Army Staff Sgt. Moreno Thomas, who recently arrived in Stuttgart with his dog, Brando, from Fort Myer, Va.

When dog handlers relocate, their dogs typically do not go with them, Thomas said. "Ours is a rare case," he said. "I am one of the fortunate ones who was able to bring my dog with me."

Brando, a 7-year-old German shepherd, is Thomas' second dog. "My first dog, Fox, had hip dysplasia. He had to be put down. It's hard, especially when it's your first dog. That's why I wanted to [move] with Brando, so when he has to retire, I'd be able to adopt him."

(Susan Huseman works in the U.S.
Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office.)

Group Surpasses $2 Million in Grants for Military Children

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - "Our
Military Kids," a nonprofit support group, recently reached a new milestone: $2 million in grants awarded for sports, fine arts and tutoring programs. "The Our Military Kids grant program has been a wonderful way for Americans to thank our men and women serving our country overseas by providing direct and tangible support to their children at home," said Linda Davidson, Our Military Kids co-founder. "The military families participating in the grant program have been extremely grateful."

Our
Military Kids, a Virginia-based organization, awarded its new milestone grant on Oct. 20. It awarded its first grant in April 2005, and surpassed $1 million in grants seven months ago.

The organization provides grants to children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and Reserve members. Grants are up to $500 per child, with recipients receiving an average of $350.

Davidson and Gail Kruzel founded Our Military Kids in response to the stories they heard about hardships National Guard and Reserve families face during overseas deployments. Many of these families live too far from a military base to take advantage of low-cost programs offered there, and rely on access to programs available in their own communities, they explained.

It's often difficult for children of deployed Guard or Reserve personnel to play on local sports teams, participate in community arts programs, or get academic tutoring because fees for these activities can be prohibitive. This is particularly true for families who experience a loss of income when their loved one leaves a civilian job for active duty.

"We heard stories of families second-mortgaging their homes in order to keep their children involved in their activities, or dropping activities completely because of the cost," Kruzel said. "At a time when children most need stability and routine, the extracurricular programs that provide these essentials are being taken from them."

Davidson attributed the success of Our
Military Kids to the many generous contributors who have joined in the mission of providing support and recognition to the children of those who wear the military uniform.

"We are most proud of the fact that we have never turned away a single eligible child," Kruzel said. "These parents are making enormous sacrifices for our country, and it is our honor and duty to minimize the sacrifices their children must make at home during their parent's absence."

(From an Our
Military Kids news release.)

Russians Know Missile Defenses Not Aimed at Them, Gates Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - The next president will "take a fresh look" at plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today, but he dismissed Russian objections to the system as politically based. Gates said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace he's confident the Russians know the proposed missile defense system in Eastern Europe does not threaten them. He called objections that 10 missile-defense interceptors would jeopardize Russia's arsenal "laughable."

"I think we've leaned forward pretty far and have been open with them about what we intend to do," Gates said. "I think we have gone a long way toward providing the necessary assurances to Russia that this system is not aimed at them, but is aimed at a very limited threat coming from Iran."

Gates noted proposals the United States has offered to help reassure Russia. One would allow Russia to have representatives at each site, if the host nation agreed, to provide technical monitoring of activities. Another would be to base a common-data-sharing center in Moscow.

He said he assured Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when Putin was president that the United States would not make the sites operational until the Iranians had tested a missile that could reach most of Western Europe, including parts of Russia.

"We have provided transparency in a number of ways," Gates said. While the Russian
military "has shown some interest in this," Russians have "chosen to make an issue of the notion," for political reasons, he said.

Meanwhile, Gates said, he believes it's likely the United States and Russia will arrive at an agreement when the Moscow Treaty expires. President Bush and Putin signed the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions in 2002, calling for both countries to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads to a level of 1,700 to 2,200 by 2012.

Gates said he believes there's "a willingness and ability to make deeper reductions," but said any new agreement must include the same verification procedures included in previous arms-control agreements.

But Gates said he'd like to see one big difference. "I'm not sure agreements the size of a telephone book that take years and years to negotiate are in the interest of either party," he said. "It ought to be an agreement that is shorter, simpler and easier to adjust to real-world conditions than most of the strategic arms agreements that we have seen in the last 40 years."

First-Timers Win 33rd Running of Marine Corps Marathon

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - First-time marathoners with strong
military ties won the men's and women's open divisions of the 33rd Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 26. Andrew Dumm, 23, of Washington, D.C., won the men's race with a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 42 seconds.

He was recruited by his older brother, fifth-place finisher
Air Force 1st Lt. Brian Dumm, 25, who is stationed at Molesworth Air Force Base in England, and their father, Kenneth, to make his 26.2-mile race debut in "The People's Marathon." They also were joined at several points on the course by their oldest brother, Tim, who ran onto the streets to urge them along.

Cate Fenster, 37, of Wooster, Ohio, and the daughter of a former
Army Ranger, won the women's division with a time of 2:39:32. "I was crying in pain coming up that last hill, the last 200 yards," Fenster said.

She held off runner-up Lindsay Wilkins to win the women's race by 11 seconds.

"At Mile 26, I was crying. I felt good for most of the way, but about Mile 20, I could feel the bricks coming," Fenster said. "I was kind of shocked to win. I'm on Cloud 9."

Fenster is a neurobiology and physiology instructor at the College of Wooster on assignment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and remembers running with her father through boot camp-like training exercises as a girl.

"On the weekends, dad would always want to go out on some adventure," Fenster recalled of her father, Gary Pichon, who she said served in the
Army from 1969 through 1973. "You always had to end up freezing or crying or cold or hungry or caught in some crazy storm for it to be complete. So my husband is always telling me, 'We are not going on one of your dad's-style adventures.' Dad doesn't do those adventures any more, though, because he's 62. He's slowed down some."

Andrew Dumm also slowed down some during the second half of the race, but he managed to win by 1 minute, 10 seconds over runner-up Fred Joslyn, 24, of Rochester, Mich., who finished in 2:23:52.

"I knew it was my first [marathon], and I knew it was going to be OK if I hit the wall, because you usually do in your first marathon," Andrew said. "So I was expecting and fearing that would happen, but being my first marathon also freed me up a little bit to make kind of a bold move."

Brian Dumm, a graduate of the U.S.
Air Force Academy, was elated to watch his brother Andrew, a University of Virginia graduate, run to victory.

"When he took off and went to the front, I couldn't have been happier for him," Brian said of Andrew, who holds the University of Virginia's second-fastest 10-kilometer time of 28:59, set at the Stanford Invitational. "We trade off the family records. I've got the 5K; he's got the 10K."

Brian won the armed forces division and finished sixth overall in the 2007
Marine Corps Marathon. This year, he finished second in the armed forces division.

The event that featured 18,281 runners and wheelchair finishers started and ended at the
Marine Corps War Memorial and wound around several of Washington's most famous monuments. It marked the first time the Dumm brothers had run a race together since they were cross-country teammates at nearby Robinson Secondary School.

Army 2nd Lt. Kenneth Foster set the pace for a lead pack of five runners through the first 11 miles. He finished 10th overall in 2:29:59 and was the first Army soldier to cross the finish line.

"I just started running for the All-Army marathon team and this is my first
Marine Corps Marathon," said Foster, 22, who ran four seasons of cross country for Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., where he holds the 10-kilometer school record of 33:25. "I'm also trying to qualify for the Army World Class Athlete Program."

Foster ran the 2006 Philadelphia Marathon in 2:43:41 and completed the 2007 chase around the City of Brotherly Love in 2:32:50. At
Marine Corps, he knocked almost three more minutes off his personal-best time.

"I was on the lead pack for the first 12 miles – then my pace started to drift off, but I was really happy with the way I performed today," said Foster, whose sights are set on qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials. "That's been my goal ever since I was a freshman in college.

"When I was younger," he continued, "I was a little bit naïve, and I wanted to be the new Steve Prefontaine and dominate the 5K, but I just never had that turnover, so that led me to the marathon."

Andrew Dumm joined Foster in the lead pack during the sixth mile and made his winning move near the 12-mile mark while running in East Potomac Park along the Potomac River and around Hains Point.

"That's a pretty early spot for a move, but I just wanted to use Hains Point, because that's a little bit of a lonely stretch of the race to make a move," Dumm said. "It's a pretty good psychological area to do so."

Dumm surged past a stage band playing the theme song from "Rocky" near the 13.1-mile mark and maintained a 150-meter lead the rest of the way. He exchanged high-fives with his brother as they passed each other while running in opposite directions through Crystal City late in the race.

"I was actually pretty surprised at about the halfway point that I had a little bit of a gap," Andrew said. "Once I had that, and I had the crowd behind me, it was just a long 13 miles. Coming back to Crystal City, that is a long bridge with no water stops, no spectators, and a couple of hills.

"Once I got into Crystal City, I knew I had about five miles left and I could probably dig it out," he said. "Once I got across that physical and mental bridge, I knew I was going to be OK."

Navy Seaman Corey Duquette, 26, of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., finished third overall and won the armed forces men's division with a time of 2:24:38; he was followed by Jaron Hawkins, 25, of Frostburg, Md., in 2:25:17; and Brian Dumm in 2:25:58.

Wilkins, 30, of Arlington, Va., finished second among women with a personal-best time of 2:49:04, and was followed by Melissa Tanner, 27, of Bethesda, Md.; Abigail Stiles, 28, of Newport, R.I.; and Rebekah Potts, of Chapel Hill, N.C.

"I cramped on the hill and just couldn't get that extra kick in," Wilkins said of running the final stretch. "I could see her. She was so close. I just didn't have that little extra."

Results of the 33rd running of the
Marine Corps Marathon with names, ages, hometowns and times of the top 10 men's and women's finishers:

MEN
1. Andrew Dumm, 23, Washington, D.C., 2 hours, 22 minutes, 42 seconds;
2. Fred Joslyn, 24, Rochester, Mich., 2:23:52;
3. Corey Duquette, 26, Pensacola, Fla., 2:24:38;
4. Jaron Hawkins, 25, Frostburg, Md., 2:25:17;
5. Brian Dumm, 25, Fairfax, Va., 2:25:58;
6. Jose Mirando, 37, Mexico, 2:26:50;
7. Alejandro Valdez, 32, Mexico, 2:27:38;
8. William Christian, 25, APO, 2:27:54;
9. Michael Wardian, Arlington, Va., 2:28:24;
10. Kenneth Foster, Brookville, Pa., 2:29:59.

WOMEN
1. Cate Fenster, 37, Wooster, Ohio, 2:48:53;
2. Lindsay Wilkins, 30, Arlington, Va., 2:49:04;
3. Melissa Tanner, 27, Bethesda, Md., 2:51:43;
4. Abigail Stiles, 28, Newport, R.I., 2:54:45;
5. Rebekah Potts, 26, Chapel Hill, N.C., 2:55:42;
6. Mary Beth Muething, 30, Arlington, Va., 2:55:52;
7. Jaymee Marty, 41, Sacramento, Calif., 2:57:02;
8. Meghan Ridgeley, 29, Reston, Va., 2:58:03;
9. Shawna Wilskey, 36, Burlington, Wash., 2:58:04;
10. Jilane Rodgers, 24, Washington, D.C., 2:58:12.

(Tim Hipps works at the U.S.
Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.)

Gates Calls Nulke Capability Critical to Deterrence, Reasuring Allies

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2008 - Calling nuclear weapons one of the world's "messy realities," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today that as long as others who could potentially threaten the United States possess or seek them, it's critical that the United States does as well, and that they be kept safe, secure and reliable. "As long as others have nuclear weapons, we must maintain some level of these weapons ourselves," Gates noted in a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This, he said, "will deter potential adversaries while reassuring over two dozen allies and partners who rely on the U.S. strategic umbrella for their own security."

The United States soon will have 75 percent fewer nuclear weapons than at the end of the
Cold War, he said. But while endorsing more non-nuclear deterrence and response options, Gates said modern-day threats require the country to preserve what former President Clinton called a "lead and hedge strategy."

"We'll lead the way in reducing our arsenal, but we must always hedge against the dangerous and unpredictable world," he said.

"The power of nuclear weapons and their strategic impact is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle, at least for a very long time," he said. "While we have a long-term goal of abolishing nuclear weapons once and for all, given the world in which we live, we have to be realistic about that proposition."

The secretary cited threats posed by rising and resurgent powers, rouge nations pursuing nuclear weapons, proliferation and international
terrorism.

"There is no way to ignore efforts by rogue states such as North Korea and Iran to develop and deploy nuclear weapons, or Russian and Chinese strategic modernization programs," he said. "As long as other nations have or seek nuclear weapons – and can potentially threaten us, our allies and friends – then we must have a deterrent capacity that makes it clear that challenging the United States in the nuclear arena, or with weapons of mass destruction, could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response."
The United States continues to keep the number of nuclear states as limited as possible, Gates said, citing "real successes" during the past 45 years through nonproliferation and arms-control efforts. He noted that many countries have opted not to seek nuclear weapons, recognizing that the U.S. nuclear capability protects them.

"Our nuclear umbrella – our extended deterrent – underpins our alliances in Europe and the Pacific and enables our friends, especially those worried about Tehran and Pyongyang, to continue to rely on our nuclear deterrent rather than to develop their own," he said.

But possessing nuclear weapons means accepting the responsibilities involved, Gates said, citing problems that arose last year over the Air Force's handling of nuclear weapons and related material.

He cited remedies being put into place:

-- A new office within the Air Staff will focus exclusively on nuclear policy and oversight and report directly to the
Air Force chief of staff.

-- The
Air Force's proposed Global Strike Command would bring all nuclear weapons and material supporting U.S. Strategic Command under one entity.

-- The Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland
Air Force Base, N.M., has been revitalized and expanded, with clearly understood chains of command to prevent repeats of pass problems.

-- The
Air Force is undergoing a full review to provide better control of nuclear-related components, and placing them under the Nuclear Weapons Center's control.

-- A new, centralized process within the Air Force will ensure proper handling of nuclear material and provide expanded training for those charged with securing it.

Gates conceded the effort will be "a long-term process," but said he is confident the
Air Force "is now moving in the right direction." He expressed thanks to the airmen working to return the Air Force's nuclear mission "to the standards of excellence for which it was known throughout the Cold War."

Meanwhile, Gates said, he looks forward to recommendations from a task force he formed to review nuclear enterprise oversight.

Gates confirmed that U.S. nuclear weapons are safe, secure and reliable, but said failure to look ahead to the future leaves a "bleak" long-term prognosis. No one has designed a new nuclear weapon in the United States since the 1980s, and veteran nuclear weapons designers and technicians are steadily moving into retirement, with no one following behind.

"The United States is the only declared nuclear power that is neither modernizing its nuclear arsenal nor has the capability to produce a new nuclear warhead," Gates said. He also expressed concern that the country is not replacing its existing stockpile.

Congress's refusal to fund a joint Defense Department and Energy Department program to field a safer, more secure warhead leaves the United States lacking, he said.

"The program we propose is not about new capabilities," he said. "It is about safety, security and reliability. It is about the future credibility of our nuclear deterrent, and it deserves urgent attention."