Military News

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Effort Taps Best Commercial Practices for Defense Acquisition

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - When a shopper goes online to make a purchase, a click of the mouse will identify which retailers offer the product and at what price, and how much they'll charge to deliver it to the buyer's doorstep. U.S. Transportation Command's new Corporate Services Vision is bringing that model to the military acquisition process, a senior Transcom official said here today.

The initiative taps into the best practices being perfected in the commercial sector and puts them at the fingertips of warfighters and those who support them, said Robert J. Osborn II, Transcom's deputy director for distribution portfolio management, command, control, communications and computer systems.

Corporate Services Vision is in the process of being rolled out, and will streamline the processes used to do everything from arranging troop transportation to ordering spare parts and tracking their delivery, Osborn said. Instead of having to go into different systems to order equipment and track shipments, users will have access to a virtual one-stop shopping experience.

"Today, if you are trying to order transportation for something, track your shipment [or] find out if it has been delivered, there are multiple systems you have to log onto to get the information you need," Osborn said. "Then it is up to you as the user to collate that information."

Corporate Services Vision is changing that, integrating myriad redundant and often incompatible systems into a single operation across the enterprise, he said. This will simplify the acquisition process, saving money and making many of the steps all but transparent to the user.

Osborn compared the effort to what a consumer experiences when buying an item online. The buyer simply keys in an item name to determine which vendors offer the product and at what price. Then, the buyer selects a vendor and designates how quickly he wants delivery and how much it will cost. Finally, the buyer pays by credit card and receives a code to track the shipment to delivery.

The queries that drive these transactions – to vendors and transportation companies – are transparent to the user.

That's what the Corporate Services Vision will bring warfighters, Osborn said. "We are changing the onus of you as a user [having] to go to different systems to find out your information," he said. "Now you will log onto a Web site, a browser we are providing, and you will be able to conduct business based on what capabilities you need."

Ultimately, this will benefit warfighters by allowing them to concentrate on their mission, not on how to get what they need to accomplish it, he said.

"If you are at the front of the spear out in the field trying to do your job, now that information is being given to you so you can concentrate on making the right decision based on what your job is, rather than spending your time trying to get information," Osborn said.

Serving those who serve -- Major Tammy Duckworth

Below is a link to USAA's Veterans Day keynote address by Illinois National Guard Maj Tammy Duckworth, current Director of Illinois Veterans Affairs. Her speech on the theme "Commitment to Service" was too good to keep to ourselves so I wanted to share it with you in hopes you could spread the reach of her message. Director Duckworth's comments on the value of our servicemembers and how they guarantee their work with their lives is powerful -- especially when you consider her personal sacrifice and the loss of both legs when her Blackhawk helicopter was hit with an RPG. Because of her loss, she speaks personally and powerfully to the strength of our military and the teamwork, courage and sacrifice they display on the frontlines every day.

www.tinyurl.com/usaavetsday

MILITARY CONTRACTS November 19, 2008

NAVY

Baldi Bros. Inc.,* Beaumont, Calif.; Hal Hays Construction, Inc.,* Riverside, Calif.; Pave-Tech, Inc.,* Carlsbad, Calif.; Reyes Construction, Inc., Pomona, Calif.; and Sundt Construction, Inc., Tempe, Ariz., 85282-1903, are each being awarded a firm fixed price indefinite delivery indefinite quantity multiple award construction contract for airfield paving and heavy duty paving for military operation vehicles at various locations within the Southwest. The maximum contract amount for all five contracts combined is not to exceed $250,000,000. Work will be performed within the Southwest, including but not limited to Arizona, (12 percent), Calif., (80 percent), New Mexico, (1 percent), Nevada, (5 percent), Utah (1 percent), and Colorado, (1 percent), and work is expected to be completed November 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as an unrestricted two phase best value design build via the Naval Facilities Engineering Command e-solicitation website, with 10 proposals received. These five contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62473-09-D-1603/1604/1605/1606/1607).

The General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GDAIS), Pittsfield, Mass., is being awarded a $52,253,352 modification (#P00013) under previously awarded contract (N00030-08-C-0041) for FY09-FY11 U.S. and U.K. TRIDENT II (D5) fire control system (FCS) and the U.S. SSGN attack weapon control system (AWCS) support. These efforts include: US/UK weapon control systems (WCS) and weapon control training system (WCTS) operational support, US/UK WCS operational support, US/UK WCS and navigation system repair and return (R&R), FCS software 344 (Mk 6 life extension (LE) development, US/UK Mk 98 Mod 8/9 FCS development, engineered refueling overhaul service, Mk 98 Mod 4, 5, 6 and 7 FCS updates, AWCS training unique, and strategic weapon system training unique. Work will be performed in Pittsfield, Mass., and work is expected to be completed Apr. 1, 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $25,799,969 will expire at the end of current fiscal year. The Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity.

Canadian Commercial Corp., General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada, Ontario, Canada, is being awarded a $49,504,000 firm fixed priced modification to delivery order #0004 under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5028) for the purchase of technical service representatives and trainers for OCONUS deployment. Work will be performed in areas of Operation Enduring Freedom, and work is expected to be completed no later than Jan. 2, 2010. 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.

Northrop Grumman Guidance and Electronics Co. Inc., Navigation Systems Div., Woodland Hills, Calif., is being awarded a $16,009,084 modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-08-C-0004) for the production and delivery of AN/UPX-24(V) interrogator sets for the Navy (2) and the government of Australia (3); 1 AN/UPX-24(V) installation and checkout spare for the government of Australia; and 9 AN/UPX-24(V) retrofit kits for the Navy. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed in Sept. 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $925,734 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This modification combines purchases for the Navy ($8,500,260; 53 percent) and the government of Australia ($7,508,824; 47 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

SERCO Inc., Reston, Va., is being awarded an $8,091,185 cost plus fixed fee, indefinite delivery indefinite quantity, firm fixed price contract for technical, analytical, engineering, logistics, and related effort in support of the implementation of the Navy Pricefighter Program. This contract includes a one-year base period, and four option periods, which if exercised, would bring the total estimated value of the contract to $41,984,118. Work will be performed at Reston, Va., (75 percent); Mechanicsburg, Pa., (8 percent); Philadelphia, Pa., (7 percent); and Norfolk, Va., (10 percent), and work is expected to be completed by May 2014. The contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was awarded competitively through Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with one offer received. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity (N00189-09-D-Z009).

Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $6,633,757 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2105) to provide for the engineering, technical, trade, and program management support of industrial type work performed on behalf of operational, decommissioning, and submarines undergoing availabilities conversion. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

Boeing Co., St Louis, Mo., is being awarded a Cost plus Fixed Fee contract for $48,999,974. This action will provide for an automated aerial refueling Phase II integrator. At this point, $1,150,224 has been obligated. AFRL/PKVC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-C-3902).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va. is being awarded a Cost plus Fixed Fee, Indefinite-Delivery Requirements Contract for $12,560,195. This action will provide survivability and vulnerability technical analyses for Air Combat Command and combat Air Force missions. At this point, $744,351 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1380).

MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., is being awarded a $12,214,532 cost plus fixed fee contract to develop, fabricate, and test a liquid propellant divert and attitude control system. Award is in response to the Broad Agency Announcement HQ0006-06-MP-BAA. Work will be performed at Canoga Park, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Nov. 2009. The Missile Defense Agency, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (HQ0006-08-C-0044). The contract will be incrementally funded by $2,000,000 using Fiscal Year 2008 Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funds.

Vice Chairman Returns From Trip Designed to Entertain, Showcase Troops

By Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - Back home after an eight-day trip that included some out-of-the-way locations, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he found troops to be motivated and saw some eyes opened to the work U.S. servicemembers are doing.
Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright took three congressional staff members, an employer of Army National Guardsmen and five United Service Organizations entertainers on his Nov. 9-16 trip.

The general said his trip was designed to get some recognition for the forces for the job they're doing and bring them a "slice of home" with some entertainment. The vice chairman's tour included stops at Thule Air Base, Greenland, and three locations in Alaska — places people usually don't visit when the weather gets cold.

"We spent a significant amount of time and focus going to places that people don't normally visit," the general said.

He said these trips offer the opportunity to thank troops for their service and help people understand their contribution is important no matter where they are, whether it's the missile fields, the radar sites or the demilitarized zone in Korea.
The general said he found troops still are motivated to do their respective missions.

"I found a substantial motivation inside the forces, including Iraq and Afghanistan, all over the world and found people believed what they were doing was making a difference," the vice chairman said. "I did find varying levels of satisfaction about what they were accomplishing, which I wouldn't have expected to not find. But by and large, the more opportunity they have to do their mission, the more opportunity they have to both interact with allies and locals, the more satisfied they were."

Cartwright said he did find obstacles to overcome, including getting greater mobility in Afghanistan and seemingly everyone wanting more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. But overall, he said, morale was good.

"The forces that are out there that have been on repeated deployments are getting tired, but it's not detracting from their motivation or their job performance," the general said. "If we can get the time at home to start to grow a little bit, I think it will make a big difference in retention, on their mental health, their perspective about being in an all-volunteer force and staying for extended periods of time in the military."

Cartwright also said the mood of troops in Iraq has changed since he was there a year ago.

"[Last year], there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but we weren't sure what the light was," he said. "This year, it was very clear that we are on a path to move forward in Iraq, because we have fundamentally changed the mission out there and the perspective of the warfighters about why they were there and what they were there to do."

Along with the mood change, Cartwright said, the U.S. troops are seeing greater capability out of their Iraqi counterparts.
"Their confidence in the Iraqi military and police was substantially higher than anything I'd seen in the past," the general said.

In Afghanistan, Cartwright said, significant challenges remain.

"Even if we have troop increases, there's still a substantial amount of work to be done," he said. "Everybody there that I talked to believed there was a way forward in Afghanistan, but it was going to take longer and it was going to take substantially greater resources because of what is needed in the way of an infrastructure base to build from."

Cartwright said trips like these are important because of what he sees when he looks in young troops' eyes.

"You feed off their energy," the general said. "There's no way you cannot do that. No matter how far removed I am from my first tour, I can see myself. You also see in their eyes the fact that they're starting to understand other perspectives than their own."

The vice chairman said it also was important for the congressional staffers he brought along to interact with the troops, sometimes one-on-one, to "see morale levels for themselves." He said the staffers were able to talk to both senior leaders and the warfighting privates in an unscripted environment.

"They're better served and we're better served for them understanding what's going on out there," the general said.
Cartwright said bringing the Guard employer, Patrick Smith, was important so he could see the mission first-hand. Although Smith has a medical background, Cartwright said, he brought Smith to several locations with different missions so he could see the other pieces of the Defense Department mission.

"If we just take him to one spot [and] say, 'Here's the mission that relates to what you and your people will do,' I think he misses the bigger picture," the general said.

Cartwright said one of the most surprising aspects of the trip was seeing the interaction between rappers D-Roc and Kaine of The Ying Yang Twins, whom he called "patriotic Americans," and the troops.

"It's similar to what you see when you take entertainers into the hospital the first time," the general said. "If they're sincere about what they're doing and their visit, it will change them. There was a two-way exchange with The Ying Yang Twins. They converted an awful lot of people who looked at them with skepticism, and they got converted by seeing people out there serving their country and making a difference."

(Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)

Defense Department Launches 'Wounded Warrior Diaries'

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - Defense Department officials today launched the "Wounded Warrior Diaries," a multimedia Web tribute in which American servicemembers wounded in combat share stories of their service, including their hard-won battles on the road to recovery and the ups and downs of life in the wake of injury. Located at http://www.defenselink.mil/home/features/2008/0908_wwd/index.html, the Wounded Warrior Diaries feature videos of servicemembers relaying their stories in their own words. The videos are accompanied by a written account of their experiences. The site launched with four diaries, and a new diary will be added each month.

"The diaries are intended to be sources of strength, encouragement and reassurance for other wounded troops and their families," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, DoD's director of new media, said. "They illustrate the ultimate triumph over injury – returning to full and active lives through hard work and the support of loved ones, the community and the military family."

In addition, the process of creating the diaries is meant to be therapeutic for the servicemembers, DeWalt said, noting that in some cases, their spouses and children take part in the interviews. "Finally," he added, "the diaries are created to honor the service, sacrifice, courage and determination of all who voluntarily serve in harm's way."

The Wounded Warrior Diaries' launch in November is part of DoD's Warrior Care Month.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Multinational Conference Focuses on Joint Solutions

By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - Representatives of the United States and its allies are meeting in Oslo, Norway, this week in an effort to develop joint solutions to common defense challenges.
About 230 participants from 33 countries are meeting at the Concept Development and Experimentation Conference to focus on the problems facing their armed forces and to develop partnerships to solve those problems in the long term, officials said.

This year's conference, which began yesterday, deals with unconventional enemies and terror networks, strategic communications and military support for stabilization and reconstruction efforts, Navy Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, director of joint concept development and experimentation for U.S. Joint Forces Command, said in a teleconference from Norway.

The conference is an opportunity to bring together experts in concept development and experimentation from the multinational community, Davenport said. Concept development and experimentation, he explained, is a process of developing solutions to military problems by looking at all aspects of the problem -- including doctrine, training, organization and policy issues -- and then testing those solutions to ensure they meet the need.

Collaborating with interagency and international partners throughout the process is important, he said, because the United States is conducting more joint operations, and will continue to do so.

"We need to have solutions that work for everybody that will be involved in those operations, for all the players," he said. "So it's important to get the different expertise and perspectives and their requirements incorporated throughout the experiment to make sure we get the proper solutions."

Conference participants are sharing lessons learned from past operations and working in focus groups on developing solutions to current challenges, Davenport said. However, since these challenges will need long-term solutions, the most important result of the conference will be the creation of international partnerships that can take the work beyond the focus groups, he said.

"We can't expect that we will solve these kind of problems in a two-day conference, so what we hope to do is build those partnerships and continue that work once we leave here," he said.

Davenport said he hopes to establish important partnerships at the conference, and to bring back insights to incorporate into Joint Forces Command's experimentation work. Joint Forces Command already has established partnerships with many of the nations involved in the conference and works with them in experimentation, he noted.

"We're not only more efficient, but more effective by working with those partners," he said.

The results of this conference are important, Davenport said, because concept development and experimentation is a starting point for solving problems facing the Defense Department.

"It's a source of innovation, and it provides a focused effort early in the solution development process for DoD to provide foundational solutions, and that's both in terms of the concepts and capabilities," he said.

Face of Defense: Soldier, Family Find Helpful 'Source'

By Army Sgt. Whitney Houston
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - Being separated from family can trigger stress and anxiety for deployed servicemembers, especially when children are involved. But one military family has found a valuable source of help online. The Military OneSource site offers around-the-clock information on parenting, child care, military life, relocation, work, education programs and more.

"Military OneSource was described to me in such a way that if a deployed soldier had a need, like a busted water heater in his house, OneSource could get a plumber out to the house to get it fixed," said Army Maj. Allan Dollison, who is on his second deployment in four years.

Dollison said his wife, Martha, uses the site to keep their children occupied while he is away from home.

"My wife got online and found out about a scholarship program they have that engages children in sporting activities," Dollison said. "So she applied for the scholarship and got it. So now the Army, through Military OneSource, is paying for my kids to get karate lessons, which is really cool, and I'm very thankful that they were able to do that."

Karate keeps their children -- Robert, 8, and Alicia, 9 -- busy three times a week, Dollison said. The classes also instill the importance of hard work and physical fitness, which drives them to excel in other areas.

"They actually competed in a karate tournament yesterday," Dollison said. "You know, they go to school and take these classes three times a week, so their minds are off the fact that their daddy is away from home. My son just won student of the month for September at his school, so they seem to be excelling despite the fact that I'm not there."

Knowing his family is cared for back home is comforting and enables him to focus on his job, Dollison said.

"As a civilian, I am a deputy district attorney for Humboldt County, Calif.," Dollison said. In Iraq, he's assigned to 4th Infantry Division and Multinational Division Baghdad's 425th Civil Affairs Battalion.

The demands on Dollison's time may be high, he said, but programs like Military OneSource give him the peace of mind to stay focused on his mission.

(Army Sgt. Whitney Houston serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)

Group Plans Employment, Training Office for Veterans

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - A San Francisco-based group has announced plans to open an employment and training office for Bay Area veterans. "We are opening this new satellite office in
Oakland to make it easier for veterans to access veteran-specific employment and training services in their community," explained Amy N. Fairweather, director of the Iraq Veteran Project for the "Swords to Plowshares" veteran support organization.

"We see a growing number of veterans in the East Bay, and we want to make employment and training services as convenient and accessible as possible," she said.

The services offered at the
Oakland office will include one-on-one employment counseling, interview coaching and assistance with job search and costs. The new office also will reach out to employers in the community and secure interviews for clients.

"We also hope to have our other service departments visit that office periodically to provide help with GI Bill and [Veterans Affairs Department] benefits," Fairweather said.

Swords to Plowshares helps veterans with health and social services, transitional and permanent housing, employment and training and through its Iraq Veteran Project.

"We launched the Iraq Veteran Project in 2005 to better meet the needs of a new and unique population of post-9/11 veterans," Fairweather said. The Iraq Veteran Project staff provides resources and referrals to veterans of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and their families, including help with navigating educational benefits, accessing VA care and finding veterans services where they live, she added.

Michael Ergo, a former Marine sergeant, recently used the group's employment training program to complete a paralegal certificate course at San Francisco State University.

"When I went in to see them, I asked if they had any legal training programs to put me in," Ergo said. "They found the paralegal program within an hour. I was enrolled within a week. Swords to Plowshares definitely care about their clients. I got the impression that they were eager to help me and did not consider it a burden to serve me."

A handful of Vietnam veterans established Swords to Plowshares in 1974. Today, a staff of 85 helps veterans with transitional and supportive housing, mental health care, employment and training, legal services and case management.

In additional to its local services, Swords to Plowshares now provides legal representation for VA claims and discharge review services to post-9/11 veterans regardless of where they live. The group also has developed military and veteran cultural competency training for clinicians and first responders to give them a basic understanding of resources and issues.

"Of course, we continue to provide our local services to veterans of all eras, but hope that by intervening as soon as possible, we will prevent this new generation of combat veterans from some of the suffering their chronically homeless predecessors continue to endure," Fairweather said.

Staying Power: New Regiment Lets Marines Take Care of Marines

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - In January 2006, as Marine Lt. Ray Baronie was lying in a hospital bed recovering from wounds he suffered in Iraq, a Marine lieutenant colonel in his dress uniform, sporting a question mark-shaped scar on the side of his head, paid him a visit.
Remarkably, he was there to offer Baronie a job. The wounded warrior thought maybe his medication was messing with his head.

The officer was Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, himself a seriously wounded Marine, who had an idea to form a company to take care of other wounded Marines. He was recruiting help from within the wounded ranks.

Two years later, Baronie is back on his feet, albeit with a prosthetic leg and crutches, commanding Company A, Wounded Warrior Battalion East here. The company is the realization of both Maxwell's initial ideas and the Marine Corps' historic push to accommodate the influx of seriously wounded Marines since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment has its roots in the Marine for Life program, created in 2002. With its headquarters on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and a battalion on each coast, the regiment has incorporated into its ranks all Marines and some sailors seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, both past and present -- about 9,000 total, said the regiment's commander, Marine Col. Gregory A.D. Boyle.

A veteran combat commander, Boyle launched the regiment in March 2007 under the guidance of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway. In a rare position for a colonel of any military service, Boyle answers directly to a three-star general, Lt. Gen. Ronald. S. Coleman, the Corps' deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs.

"There are no filters between me and him," Boyle said. "I don't have to go through one-stars, two-stars. Nobody has to take the meat out of my brief and make it so it can't be understood. It's unfiltered. I go right to the top, which is nice."

In fact, according to Coleman, Boyle often reports directly to the commandant, testifying to the historic precedence the service has placed on care for its wounded Marines. Besides supporting the war, warrior care is the Corps' No. 1 job, according its commandant.

"I get all the money I need. I get all the people I need. I get all the priority I need," Boyle said. It "is pretty rare in the Marine Corps to have all those things. All I've got to do is pick up the phone and I can get whatever it is I need to take care of wounded warriors."

Besides those injured in the war, the regiment also assumes oversight of other seriously ill or injured Marines who need to focus their efforts on healing, and who may be a burden on traditional units that are steeped in a cycle of training and readying for deployment. The regiment also takes care of some sailors who were injured while attached to Marine units, such as those in ordnance and medical specialties.

The emphasis of the new regiment focuses on leadership, and Marines taking care of Marines, Boyle said.

"It's the Marine knowing that somebody cares about him. We're going to go talk to him every day. We're going to talk to his family every day. We're going to know who he is," Boyle said. "That's where we want our strength to be. I've got the money. I've got the people. But that doesn't make the program better.

"What the Marine is going to respond to is people walking into his room every day and asking how he's doing ... and carrying on a conversation with him and showing that they care about him."

There are about 1,200 seriously injured active-duty Marines recovering in bases, hospitals and homes across the United States, and reaching out to them is no easy task. But, the regiment has managed to connect active-duty, reserve, Veterans Affairs and other resources into a giant network spread across the United States.

Boyle launched the regiment with a small, hand-picked command staff and slowly built it to a size of about 230. It likely will grow to about 400 before Boyle is finished.

A New System of Care

The regiment's headquarters is at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., just a short drive from the Pentagon, and major military healthcare centers such as the NNMC in Bethesda, Md., and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Some of the staff are wounded Marines who working through their own recoveries.

While the headquarters is in temporary billets now, it is slated for a new headquarters building with construction starting this year. Before the staff moves in, they will have already outgrown it, said Boyle.

The regiment consists of a battalion here, another at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a company in Hawaii. Each provides coverage for Marines receiving care in their areas. The east and west battalions divide their coverage of the United States by the Mississippi River, while the Hawaii company covers down on those recovering in the Pacific.

The battalion here has the command structure for two companies, but only one is in place. There are about 100 Marines in the company now, but it has oversight for more than 300. A new $27 million barracks complex is under construction that will move the Marines closer to the hospital and other treatment facilities on base.

The West Coast battalion has oversight of about 200 Marines and has a similar barracks construction project planned.

In the units, Marines spend their days concentrating on healing and transitioning to the next phase of their lives, whether that means recovering and staying on active-duty or leaving the service.

For those not reporting directly to the units, Marine patient affairs teams reach out to all major medical facilities. And, Marines are based in each of the Veterans Administration polytrauma centers in California, Florida, Minnesota and Virginia.

Also, the Marines have based 30 "super case managers" across the country in support cells to manage some of its most difficult cases. The case managers are based in communities where there is a large demographic of Marines recovering from their wounds. They work out of their homes, or out of borrowed office space. But their primary job is to be out meeting with Marines face-to-face to establish personal relationships, Boyle said.

To further extend its reach into the communities where former and current Marines are recovering close to home, the Corps enlisted active-duty representatives stationed at its 186 reserve sites across the country. These Marines are responsible for the training and readiness of the reserve units to which they are assigned, but they also are tasked with checking on recovering Marines at in hospitals and at home, including being on-call for help. Such calls sometimes come from family and friends when a Marine begins having difficulties coping with stress or a brain injury whose symptoms crop up months after their release from service.

Topping it off, the Marines have more than 100 "hometown links," or reservists, who spend their part-time duty helping former Marines find jobs, talking to civic groups, working with the media and other community relations work. They also can make house-calls, Boyle said.

"Within in a couple of hours, we can have a Marine standing on a Marine's doorstep, helping with his problem," Boyle said. "This really does allow us the ability to reach out and touch. It is nice to be able to not just sit here and talk to a Marine on the phone. Sometimes he may respond or may not respond, but if somebody shows up at his door, sits down in his living room -- that makes a huge difference."

The cross-country network is tied together by a massive computer tracking system launched this year. The Web-based system allows leaders to track a Marine as he moves through his recovery process. This is backed by a full-time operations center, also based at Quantico. Designed much like a combat operations center, it monitors every case within the regiment.

Most unique to the Marine Corps' program is its 24-hour per day, seven-day-per-week call center on Quantico. The other services have call centers, but the Marine's center on Quantico made a commitment last summer to begin calling some 8,000 former Marines who were injured since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but have since left the service.

In the past, "We'd meet them at the door, we'd shake their hand and hand them a (record of their service) and say 'Have a good life,'" Boyle said. "We don't do that any more. It's Marine for life. We take care of them when they leave the service. For as long as they are out there, we are going to be here to help them and address their needs."

Of the center's 20 employees, 18 are retired Marines. The other two are Marine spouses. They started calling the most seriously injured first and, so far, have reached more than 5,000 of the Marines.

Many of the contact numbers on file are old and no longer valid so it takes some research and effort for the team. The team likes to talk to family members as they track down the Marine.

"We like to talk to moms and dads and wives, because Marines don't always tell us what's really going on. But moms and dads and wives do. We've fixed a lot of problems out there," Boyle said.

Call centers will be added to each of the wounded warrior battalions, and plans are to staff them with medical personnel for assessments and referrals.

The center also receives calls from Vietnam veterans and helps when they can, Boyle said.

Looking Forward

Taking care of wounded Marines now is no longer "business as usual," said Boyle.

As senior leaders work through the bureaucracy of changing a decades-old system, Boyle and his staff are on the front line of policy change for wounded warrior care. There has been some "push back" Boyle said, but, for the most part, his opinion is "everything is waiverable."

"It's not law. It's policy. They will waive policy, they will rewrite policy," Boyle said.

And, to date, many changes have been made to the policies that were most obviously in contradiction to the service's commitment to caring for Marines, he said.

But lasting, permanent change is needed within many systems to mold a single system that has the care of the Marine at its core, Boyle said.

"We've got to make sure that the wounded warriors are the priority. This is our one chance to fix it and fix it right," Boyle said. "If we do that now, we'll be much better off in the next conflict down the road."

As it is, Boyle said, the service is proving itself "100 times better" than it was a year ago at taking care of its Marines.

(Editor's note: This the latest in a series of AFPS articles about seriously wounded warriors who are returning to active duty).

Warrior Care: Army Surgeon General Discusses Progress

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - With the Defense Department's observance of Warrior Care Month as a backdrop, the Army's top medical officer reflected on some of the warriors he has met and the lessons of courage and strength he has gained from them while serving as commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and later as Army surgeon general and commander of Army Medical Command. "I always remember some of the soldiers that were among those who came to me when I took command of Walter Reed about 18 months ago, in some of our darkest moments of this," Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker said in a Nov. 13 interview on the "Dot Mil Docs" program on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Schoomaker recalled a roadside-bomb victim from Mississippi who was cared for at the point of injury in Iraq and later received care at Walter Reed after first stopping at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. "At the time he was discharged ... to our outpatient facility," Schoomaker said, "he really didn't have family available."

The soldier, he said, essentially was alone at Walter Reed and had problems navigating the campus and making appointments.

"I remember my command sergeant major and I sitting and talking to him at length," Schoomaker said. "He was a great soldier and had a compelling story for us. We had to admit that we had failed to provide all of those safety nets that he needed."

Schoomaker said he and other leaders took these and other lessons learned, and as a result, the Army has radically transformed the way it structures and provides health care to wounded soldiers.

"We have stood up enormous efforts within the entire Department of Defense, and starting with the Army, to improve upon that process, and that is what Warrior Care Month is about," he said. "This effort is really aimed around the entire continuum of care for our wounded, ill and injured soldiers. It includes the recovery phase, the acute recovery from the acute injury or illness into rehabilitation, and finally reintegration either back into uniform or ... citizenship, sometimes with a new job or new focus."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates designated November as Warrior Care Month to highlight the Defense Department's commitment to providing the highest quality of care to servicemembers and their families, Schoomaker noted.

"I think it is very appropriate that he has chosen a month that begins with Veterans Day and allows us to focus on the contributions of our great soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and their families," he said.

Some of the initiatives the Army has created to assist warriors and their families in the last 18 months include the launching of Warrior Transition Units, which have dramatically changed how the Army cares for its injured, ill and wounded soldiers.

The Army's 36 WTUs, composed of active and reserve component soldiers, ensure equal treatment for all, the general said. Nine community-based warrior transition units enable Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers to heal at locations nearer to their homes.

"We recognize very readily that our soldiers and our families really have earned through their oath of duty to this country and defending the nation, the very best in care and counseling, vocational rehabilitation and training if necessary, and then transition back into new jobs within the Army or in civilian life," Schoomaker said.

More than 11,000 wounded soldiers are in WTUs, including about 34 percent coming from the combat theater. In the months before July 2008, Schoomaker said, WTUs were growing by about 925 soldiers per month. WTUs out-processed an average of 630 soldiers per month during that same period, with more than 47 percent of those soldiers returning to duty.

"We have learned over the last 18 months since we stood up the warrior transition units that soldiers and their families want some predictability, and we want to manage the expectations with them of where they are headed with their rehabilitation and their transition," Schoomaker said. "We find that when we can create this tailored and comprehensive transition plan for the family and the soldier to help them with the future and reorienting their efforts, we get the best outcomes for the soldiers and their families."

Other resources for injured, ill or wounded soldiers include the Soldier Family Assistance Center, which provides education, re-training, housing, and financial assistance, and the Army Wounded Warrior program, which serves those who are expected to need lifelong support. Also, some active-duty soldiers are being treated in Department of Veterans Affairs polytrauma centers rather than Army medical centers. These centers are world-class treatment centers for issues such as traumatic brain injuries, amputation and burns.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier Ground Breaking Ceremony

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier Ground Breaking Ceremony
Date: Thursday, December 4, 2008
Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Place: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Inspection Barge Boarding at the Construction Field Office Vulcan Materials Lot 15000 Intracoastal Drive, New Orleans

Dress: Business Casual or Military ACU, All attendees must wear flat, rubber soled shoes.

Parking is limited. Please consider carpooling

Questions: Karen Collins
504-862-1195
karen.e.collins@Usace.army.mil

Date: Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Place: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Inspection Barge Boarding at the Construction Field Office Vulcan Materials Lot 15000 Intracoastal Drive, New Orleans

Dress: Business Casual or Military ACU, All attendees must wear flat, rubber soled shoes.

Parking is limited. Please consider carpooling

Questions: Karen Collins
504-862-1195
karen.e.collins@Usace.army.mil

Guard's First Four-Star General Takes Office

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 -
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley pinned on his fourth star and became chief of the National Guard Bureau in a ceremony at the Pentagon yesterday. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined McKinley's wife, daughter and son in adding the new star to the general's uniform.

More than 300 people from all ranks, services and many states' National Guards then watched Gates swear in McKinley as the first four-star general to lead the National Guard in its 372-year history.

"The promotion of Gen. Craig McKinley to this rank, to serve in this post, is in recognition of his outstanding
leadership abilities and shows the confidence the president and I have in him to be the nation's senior Guard officer at such a critical time," Gates said.

McKinley succeeds Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, who served in the post for more than five years and in January will become deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, the first Guard officer to hold that position.

McKinley joins George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and two other former four-star officers who served as Guardsmen during their military careers.

"It's a rich and high honor to be the 26th chief of the National Guard Bureau," McKinley said. "I will give it every bit of energy, every bit of heart and soul that I can possess to make sure that our National Guard and our soldiers and airmen are well taken care of, and I will work very closely and faithfully with the services."

Of the nation's more than 460,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen, some 68,000 Army and 5,700 Air Guard members are on active duty today for operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. On any given day, an average of 17 governors call out their National Guard for a variety of domestic needs, Guard Bureau officials said.

McKinley is the fourth Air National Guard officer to serve as chief of the National Guard Bureau. He most recently served as director for the Air National Guard. There, he was responsible for policies, plans and programs affecting more than 106,000 airmen.

Gates said McKinley successfully led the Air Guard during a time of severe manpower reductions and major challenges posed by the global war on terrorism, base realignment and closure implementation, budget changes and the transformation of the National Guard from a strategic reserve to an operational force.

McKinley received his
Air Force commission in 1974 after graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a degree in business administration. He holds master's degrees in management and economics and in national security strategy. He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flight hours.

(
Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Combat Medic Training Evolves to Save Lives

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - One day before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,
Army senior leaders put into place a plan to overhaul the service's combat medic training. Officials wanted to replace Cold War-era health care specialists who worked mainly in hospitals as nursing assistants with more qualified, combat-oriented medics for line units.

Little did they know that events the next day eventually would send the force to war in Afghanistan, or that now, seven years later, the new breed of combat medics, many fresh from their initial training, would be called upon on two fronts to save countless lives on the battlefields.

Though they still officially are called health care specialists, today's medics bear little resemblance to those who were trained by nurses. In their place are medics trained by combat veterans with a battle-focused curriculum that has evolved alongside the fight.

"Our medics shouldn't be working in hospitals. Our medics should be saving lives on the battlefield," said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Paul T. Mayer, director of combat medic training at Fort Sam Houston here.

The "68 Whiskey" military occupational specialty is the second-largest in the
Army, with nearly 38,000 medics spread across the active and reserve components. Only the infantry specialty has more soldiers in the force.

The Department of Combat Medic Training trains 8,000 new medics a year, with class sizes that stretch to nearly 500 students. A new iteration of training starts every two weeks, and at any one time, as many as 2,500 students are working their way through the program. Roughly 20 percent will not make it through the training, failing to meet either the academic or physical demands of the course, Mayer said.

"Our challenge is to turn a brand new soldier into a medic, and we've got 16 weeks to do that," Mayer said.

About 60 percent of those who graduate are deployed to the battlefield within six months of graduation, he said. So, during the past few years, officials at the school have revamped the program. The course still includes civilian emergency medical skills, but the focus now is on training for battlefield medicine, said Donald Parsons, the deputy director of the department.

"We have gone back and looked at how people die on the battlefield -- what types of wounds they get, what types of injuries that are killing soldiers -- and that's where we focus our attention on training our medics," Parsons said.

Officials at the school have looked back as far as the Korean War to study causes of death and in an effort to isolate those in which death can be prevented.

For the most part, despite increased
technology in weaponry, the types of injuries suffered in war pretty much have stayed the same, Mayer said. Soldiers die on the battlefield primarily from three causes: they bleed to death as the result of severe trauma, an object penetrates their chest and blocks their breathing, or they suffer a head injury that results in a blocked airway, he explained.

The vast majority of those who die in battle do so because their injuries are catastrophic and they would not survive regardless of how quickly medical care is applied, Parsons said. But there are a small percentage of injuries that could be survivable if the right care is provided quickly.

"What can we train our medics to do to keep these soldiers alive long enough to make it to the combat support hospital?" Parsons asked, noting that care in those hospitals is comparable to that in the United States. "Our focus is to be able to treat those preventable causes of death at the point of injury and get that soldier alive back to that hospital."

The school trains medics to recognize those types of injuries and then treat them, Parsons said, through a dynamic curriculum that constantly is updated with input from the battlefield.

"We have the ability to internally ... change our training program to meet the needs of the combatant commander on the battlefield," Parsons said.

As a result, he said, combat medics are learning and employing much more advanced techniques, especially to restore breathing and stop bleeding.

Medics now learn how to perform surgical cricothyrotomies, which involve cutting an emergency airway in the patient's throat. They learn how to insert a needle into the chest to relieve air pressure on the heart caused by a wound that has penetrated the chest cavity and collapsed a lung. They also learn to use tourniquets -- once considered a last resort -- often. Now, the new combat action tourniquet often is the first item medics take out of their bag, Mayer said.

"Tourniquets used to be taboo, and the tourniquet that was in the Army inventory was a piece of junk," Mayer said. His department worked with industry officials and other military agencies to develop a tourniquet that can be trained on and used successfully on the battlefield. Now, all soldiers are issued tourniquets when they deploy to combat, and medics carry several of them.

"Probably the single most successful thing we've done in this conflict is change the ... dynamic of tourniquet use," Mayer said. "We do it all the time on the battlefield now, and it's saving lives."

The school also has leveraged technology in its teaching tools. The school has one of the largest collections of human simulation systems, Mayer said. Mannequins with pulses and breathing systems are modified with simulated trauma wounds, and are integrated into the training to give the students a better idea of the wounds they eventually will treat for real.

The school also has two "blood labs" in which the students sharpen their skills as soldier medics. One lab simulates the scene of a suicide bombing in a market place, and the other simulates a bombing in an office building.

Strobe lights cut the darkness and fog machines fill the room and obscure the setting. Bloody mannequins – some in uniforms and others dressed as civilians – are scattered on the floors in a maze of rooms. Blaring music and screams of pain and panic fill the air, and the medics must work through the scenarios using both their soldiering skills and their medical training. In their attempts to render aid, they must first look for homemade bombs and enemies bearing weapons.

This is somewhat of a paradigm shift for the use of medics, who in past wars often put themselves in harm's way to render aid and rarely used weapons in battle, Mayer said. Now, they are told to shoot first, eliminate the enemy, and then go about their tasks as medics.

"Be soldiers first. Don't become part of the problem. Become part of the solution," Mayer said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Greg Deleon, a two-tour Iraq war combat veteran and an instructor/writer at the school, agreed, saying that the soldier medics must first gain fire superiority before rendering aid.

"In order to get someone treated efficiently, you first have to get rid of the fire," Deleon said.

The school also is expanding its field training facility at nearby Camp Bullis. Plans are to expand the training facility and modify it to resemble a forward operating base, Mayer said. Gates, checkpoints and guard towers are planned to give it more of a combat environment feel.

"It absolutely helps. It puts them in a situation where they have to have some type of critical thinking to get the job done," Deleon said.

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Watson, an assistant senior instructor at the school, said the more realistic training gives the medics more of an overall view of what they will encounter on the battlefield.

"You have to have the overall big picture to not just treat patients, but [also to] watch out for yourself, because if you become a patient, you are no longer that combat multiplier," he said.

Familiarization also helps the medics learn to keep calm so they can administer aid, he said.

Watson said the training now is much more advanced than when he went through the school in 1999. Before, it was more static and not as sophisticated, he said. Today's training would have been helpful in preparing for his two combat tours in Iraq, he said.

Deleon said the current training easily translates to saving lives on the battlefield.

"Absolutely -- without a doubt," he said. "I only wish I could have had it when I went through. It will help them to be prepared for what they are going to see."

Deleon and Watson said their own combat experiences are proving helpful in the classroom, because they can relate personal experiences to the training.

"It grabs the students' attention, and they are more apt to pay attention to the course," Watson said.

The medics typically are deployed at the platoon level, with each medic responsible for about 40 troops. But they do not initially earn the coveted title "doc," Watson said. First, they must prove they are part of the team.

"If the platoon is filling up sand bags, grab a shovel," Watson said.

Unfortunately, the fastest way to earn the title is to have something bad happen and for the medic to do everything right, he said.

Mayer said the school will continue to expand, evolve and incorporate lessons learned into its training. Meanwhile, soldier medics are proving themselves daily in combat, and more soldiers are returning home alive because of their efforts, he said.

"They are the biggest combat multiplier on the battlefield," Mayer said. "Those [infantry] guys kick in doors and engage and kill the enemy because they know if they're hit, medics are right there to save them."

Staying Power: Marine Returns to Help Others on Road to Recovery

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - When Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel Kachmar extends his right hand to greet combat wounded Marines, there is an instant rapport. A combat veteran himself, having fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Kachmar, 24, can trade stories of blood and war; of buddies lost and battles fought.

But, Kachmar's three-finger grip speaks louder than his words ever could. It says he understands the pain, the process and the path to healing.

Those who haven't been seriously wounded "can't relate to getting flown away from your buddies, bleeding and in pain, mad at yourself because you want to go back regardless of the injury." Kachmar said. "You can't relate to lying in that bed at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center] for months at a time."

Kachmer is now part of the "Tiger Team" that helps those evacuated to U.S. military hospitals work their way through the recovery process. He also is one of the 2,700-plus Marines who have opted to stay on active-duty since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom despite injuries that could have released them from their obligation to the Corps.

Becoming a Marine

"The
Marine Corps is all I know," said the Pittsburgh, Penn., native. "But I'm really good at doing what I'm doing. I like what I'm doing. And the Marine Corps has taken care of me."

Before joining the Marines, Kachmar was a self-described "bad kid" who spent more time on the streets than in school. He spent some time in the juvenile penal system and realized his life was heading in the wrong direction.

"I was on a road of destruction as a teenager and didn't like what the future held," he said.

Looking around at the older guys still hanging out on the streets and getting into trouble, Kachmar decided it was time for a change.

"Geez, I don't want to live my life like this. I don't want to live in this town. I want to do something," he remembers thinking.

His dad was a former sailor, so, because of the historic rivalry, the Army was not an option, Kachmar said. His father consented to the
Marine Corps because it was a department of the Navy.

Kachmar was 17 at the time, and had just finished his junior year in high school when he went to see a Marine Corps recruiter.

It was an easy day for the recruiter.

"I don't want to talk about joining the Marine Corps, I just want to do it," Kachmar recalled telling the recruiter, and soon signed on the dotted line to serve as an infantryman.

Unfortunately, his impending service, which was to begin after graduation, didn't keep Kachmar from getting into more trouble. In his senior year, he was expelled. His academics were in line, but officials wouldn't let him finish the year.

So Kachmar headed to boot camp early. When he returned from Marine basic training, school officials granted his diploma.

"They said, 'Good job for doing something with yourself,'" Kachmar said.

Getting Into the Fight

On June 24, 2002, Kachmar checked into the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., and left in September for Afghanistan. There he worked at the embassy providing security.

"It wasn't walking around the city kicking doors in but it was enough for a young guy ... to kind of see the overall picture," he said.

He later saw combat during a 2004 deployment in Afghanistan, and he returned to the United States by Christmas of that year itching to fight in Iraq.

"That's what you join the Marine Corps to do – to fight. We had plenty of a fight in Afghanistan, but I wanted to see the other theater. I wanted to do my part in both countries," Kachmar said.

So, he transferred to a sister battalion and left for Iraq in March 2005.

His battalion was based in Fallujah, Iraq, and his Alpha Company was about 15 miles north in a small town. There they were looking for improvised explosives, patrolling, conducting raids and providing security.

Kachmar recalled that period as one of "good times" because he said that being a squad leader watching over 13 other Marines, was "the best job in the
Marine Corps."

"Everything that the Marine Corps infantry does, we were doing out there," the Marine said. "I got to fight in Afghanistan. I was getting my chance to fight in Iraq. We were kicking [butt] and taking names."

Kachmar said he was not scared serving in Iraq, but when he returned to his post from a mission, sometimes he would shake.

"You're always kind of anxious over there. You're sleeping and mortars are dropping. There's always something," he said.

Coming up on the end of his four-year enlistment, Kachmar intended to re-enlist in Iraq and cash in on his tax-free status. His re-enlistment packet was in and approved. All he had to do was wait until Oct. 1, 2005.


On Aug. 25, 2005, Kachmar's squad was sent out to look for an improvised explosive device planted somewhere along the road. They were to find it, mark it off and wait for the ordnance guys to blow it up.

"The IED found me instead," Kachmar said.

A Long, Painful Journey

Two stacked 155 mm artillery shells were buried along the side of the road that particular day. As Kachmar walked by, it was remotely detonated.

"I don't remember the blast. I came to standing there in a cloud of dirt ... and I'm like 'What just happened?'" Kachmar said. "I'm looking around, and I'm inside this cloud of dirt, and I can't see anybody, and then everything starts to come together.

"I tried to run away and as I took my first step, because my leg was broken, I just fell to the ground real hard. It felt like I got shot. I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?'" he said.

Shrapnel had ripped through Kachmar's body. His hand was ripped apart and blood was pumping out of it. His left leg was shattered.

It was the leg injury that concerned him the most.

"Doc, am I going to lose my leg? Doc, doc, am I going to lose my leg?" Kachmar recalled asking the doctor again and again.

Even though he tried, the medic on the scene was not able to pull off a convincing "no."

"I was like, 'Oh no, I'm losing my leg. They're going to be calling me stumpy,'" Kachmar said.

His team loaded Kachmar into a Humvee and sped off to Camp Fallujah, about 20 miles away. Doctors were waiting to take him into surgery, and Kachmar knew he was going home but he did not want to leave Iraq without saying goodbye to his squad.

"I was mad," Kachmar said. "'Where're my Marines at?'" he recalled yelling as nurses and doctors tried to calm him. "This is my squad and I'm not going to see them again. They're still in Iraq and I'm going home ... I want to talk to them."

Kachmar said he was afraid the doctors would take him into surgery and dismiss the squadmembers back to their duties, and he wouldn't get to see them before he was flown out of the country.

"When you're over there with guys and you go through [stuff] with them, it's a pretty tight bond.

After he said goodbye to a few of his friends, and told his buddy to take care of his squad, the doctor and chaplain came to tell him it was time for surgery.

But Kachmar still had one more request.

"I said 'Before you put me under I need to call my dad,'" he said.

So, a little more than 25 minutes after being blown up on the streets of Iraq, Kachmar called his dad a world away with news that could have been much worse, and for the first time started crying.

"It's just hard to tell someone that you're hurt. It could have been worse," he said.

In fact, this was not Kachmar's first brush with a homemade bomb. Two weeks before he had been hit by another IED, but those wounds were superficial.

Then he was being wheeled into the same room where he had been just weeks earlier. It is the last thing he remembers there.

Recovery as Empowerment

Doctors operated and stabilized Krachmar, and he was flown to Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad. There, other doctors operated, stabilized him again, and and he was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. From there, Kachmar was flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

He spent three months at the Bethesda hospital, suffering through operation after operation.

Shrapnel had blown through his hand damaging all of the muscles and nerves that work his fingers. Doctors rebuilt the hand, rebuilding bone, grafting nerves and muscles, and installing screws and plates to hold things together.

Krachmer's leg needed rods and pins because his shin and calf bones were shattered. Muscle deteriorated leaving the doctors little to work with. In the end, they had a last choice - graft muscle from his abdominals to his leg, and hope it grows.

It worked, and now Kachmar has only a "three-pack" left in his belly, and three distinct ab-looking lumps on the inside lower part of his left shin.

"When I get hungry now, my leg hurts," Kachmar said jokingly.

Fortunately, doctors were able to work around the homemade number 33 tattooed just above his ankle – Kachmar's high-school football number.

His hands were not quite the success story, however. After 30 surgeries his right pinky and ring finger were not functional. They were just "there," he said.

The bum fingers would get in the way, bumping into things as he tried to drive, while tying his shoes and the like. And, he said, they were "super sensitive" so every bump came with a shot of searing pain.

So, last year, facing no promise of ever having function in the fingers, Kachmar made the almost unthinkable decision. He had doctors cut them off.

"Getting operated on 30 times for two insignificant fingers, I said 'Enough is enough. Go ahead and take them,'" Kachmar said. "They just got in the way."

The young, and sometimes not-very-patient Marine spent three months at Bethesda before being allowed to go home for a month. They released him in a wheelchair with promises of re-teaching him how to walk when he returned.

But, one night, sitting on the couch in his father's Pittsburgh condominium, Kachmar decided to try walking on his own. It was late, he couldn't sleep, and he needed to use the bathroom. Kachmar said he didn't want to "crawl on his butt" up the stairs.

Kachmar said it "hurt like hell" at first, and his muscles were shaky, but his legs held and he worked his way up the steps.

"I think I rushed it too much, but it was empowering," Kachmar said. "Four months [before] I was laying in the middle of the street bleeding and [then] I'm teaching myself to walk, and I'm doing it on my own."

As it turns out, it was just the shot in the arm Kachmar needed. Before he returned to Pittsburgh, Kachmar went to Camp Lejeune to welcome his Marines back from Iraq. Then he went to the funeral of a longtime buddy who was killed in Iraq.

"It was pretty demoralizing. I was like, 'I need to do something positive,'" he said. "I look back now and that was exactly what I needed."

So, Kachmar walked back into the hospital on his own accord after his 30 days of leave, much to the chagrin of the hospital staff.

Kachmar said the days were long at the hospital. When he got bored, Kachmar would hijack one of the wheel chairs and "go run off and raise hell."

A New Beginning

During that time, a girl from his hometown called to see how his recovery was going. One conversation led to another and a romance brewed. Kachmar made his move with the speed of a Marine infantryman securing his target.

"I came home, and I saw her and we hooked up, got married and now we're making babies," Kachmar said, laughing.

The two were married in June 2006. Already, they have a 19-month-old girl, and twins, born this month.

The expeditious Kachmar didn't want to waste time in therapy in the hospital either. He was ready to get back to work and said he felt that he could work the muscles even more outside the hospital as part of a normal day.

"I was doing occupational therapy for my hand and physical therapy for my leg and you go and you sit in a room with a bunch of therapists and they make you squeeze a ball ... and walk and ride a bike. I can do all this stuff on my own by going about my normal day-to-day business. And that's what I do," Kachmar said.

"Whenever I was doing occupational therapy, I would baby my hand and only work it when I was in therapy," he said. "Now I'm just like, 'Do it. Figure out a way.' I don't feel sorry for myself. I don't feel sorry for my hand. Suck it up and do it."

Now he works here at the headquarters of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, about 45 miles south of the Pentagon.

Still a Marine

Although Kachmar is back at work, he said he still considers himself in recovery and is working his body hard to get his abilities back to where they were before.

So far, Kachmar estimated he is about 70-percent physically capable of performing what he once was.

"I used to be a stud," Kachmar said. "I can barely do anything (now). It's kind de-motivating, but at the same time it's motivating. You look back on where you were and where you are at and it's like 'I've really got to get my butt in gear.' It gives you a goal."

He can now run and do pull-ups and is working on the Marine fitness test. Before the IED explosion, he had scored at the top of the test. Now, he figures he can pass it, just not with the scores he wants.

The side of his hand is still "super" sensitive on the back side of his palm, Kachmar said. He can't hold a remote control, or a butter knife. It is hard to hold a hammer, and tools, but he is becoming ambidextrous. For the most part he can "adapt and overcome," Kachmar said.

He can write with a pen, and still types with a "two finger punch." He never could type much before.

More importantly, Kachmar can still shoot a rifle and pistol.

When it came time for the young Marine to decide to stay in the service or get out, Kachmar opted to stay in. He is in waiting now for the ruling on a limited duty request.

In the other services, if a servicemember is found unfit for duty, they are discharged, although the services are working to retain combat wounded warriors who want to stay in. But in the Marine Corps, many Marines actually want an unfit for duty rating because it allows them to stay in, but receive assignment consideration for their injuries and resulting recoveries.

Recovery is a long, and sometimes confusing process, especially in its first few weeks, Kachmar said. Now he is there to help other Marines who are flown in. His job is educating other Marines on the process and their rights.

"When Marines get hurt, they're swamped with so much information that they don't take anything in," Kachmar said. "All they care about is 'Am I going to walk again? Am I going to use my arm again? Is my brain going to function? That's all they care about."

Kachmar tries to ease the pressure on the Marines by encouraging them to not make any decision too quickly.

"You've got a 20-year-old kid who's married, and hasn't known anything but the
Marine Corps since high school, and now he's got an injury ... he just doesn't know," Kachmar said. "He has all these people telling him ... 'This is what you need to do, this is what you need to do.'"

"For me as another wounded Marine to come there and say, 'Look, take a step back. Don't be in any rush to make any decision. There is no point to it," he said.

For Kachmar, though, the decision is made. He said that deep down inside, he feels he can still recover to the point where he can stay in the infantry,

Now, his sights are set on the rigorous sniper school. To get into the school, he will have to work harder to improve his physical conditioning, Kachmar said.

"I don't want to just go through the school. I want to ... excel. If I'm going to do it, I want to do it right," Kachmar said.

If he can't be a sniper, Kachmar is convinced there will be another career opportunity in the Corps. That's because, Kachmar said, he has "
leadership, experience" to bring to the fight.

"That's all any Marine really needs, is
leadership," Kachmar said.

(Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of AFPS articles about seriously injured servicemembers who are returning to active duty).

Face of Defense: Soldier Finds Her Rhythm at Work, on Dance Floor

By Army Staff Sgt. Carlos M. Burger II
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - The stress of being deployed to a combat zone can make it challenging for soldiers to find a daily battle rhythm. But one soldier here is taking action to make sure both her personal and professional life stay "in step." "When I found out they had salsa night here, I talked to the gym coordinator about starting a class," said Army Sgt. Lacy Dunham, an imagery analyst with the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Her job in the team's intelligence section is to gather images and decipher them, which helps soldiers make clearer choices on the battlefield. She also serves as a security manager.

After work, Dunham trades her combat boots for dancing shoes and teaches the basic steps of salsa, bachata and merengue. "The fun I have, I want others to have too. It is fun to see to see them develop and do things they couldn't do before," she said.

The salsa bug bit Dunham on her first deployment, which was to Camp Doha, Kuwait. "I've been [dancing] for seven years, but I just recently started teaching," she said.

Her students said they are grateful for the chance to escape the everyday routine of combat life.

"I think the class is a great idea, especially for soldiers who want something to do, or they've never done it before," said Army Spc. Maria Paulino, 2nd Brigade Combat Team paralegal. "Sergeant Dunham worked with me one on one, and doesn't put you on the spot. We actually extended the class because we were having so much fun."

Dunham said her personal battle rhythm helps her balance dancing and work. While she doesn't consider herself an expert at analyzing or dance, she said, she knows the basics to be successful at both and has found the perfect rhythm to make her deployment as enjoyable as possible.

"Sergeant Dunham is a very enlightened individual," Army Chief Warrant Officer Ian Holt, Dunham's supervisor, said. "She will pick up the ball and run with it with minimal guidance. She's one of the shining stars of our intelligence crew."

(Staff Sgt. Carlos M. Burger II serves in Multinational Division Center with the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.)

Defense Department Recognizes Dedication to Veterans

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - No one has to tell Dawn Halfaker the value of hiring veterans, especially those disabled in combat. She is one. A U.S.
Military Academy at West Point graduate and former Army military police officer, Halfaker was serving in Iraq in 2004 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck her convoy. Critically injured, Halfaker was evacuated from combat to recover at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Her right arm was amputated.

Two years later, medically retired from the service, she began her job hunt. Nothing seemed to fit, Halfaker said, and she missed the "intense" environment of the
Military.

"It's hard to find that kind of camaraderie, teamwork. [In the military], everybody's all about the mission. When I'd go into the business world, people weren't," Halfaker said. "It's like there is a war going on and people were just huddled up in their offices doing whatever, and that wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to continue to contribute and continue my service."

So Halfaker started her own national security consulting company that now employs nearly 100 people – about 65 veterans – with a gross annual revenue of more than $1 million.

In a ceremony at the Pentagon yesterday, Halfaker joined a group of other small business owners, Defense Department prime contractors and Defense Department acquisition professionals who were recognized by the department for their contributions to the department's Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program in fiscal 2007.

In all, 17 contractors, business owners, agencies and civil servants were recognized at the second annual awards ceremony hosted by the Defense Department. The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program is a federal program that was established in 1999 to foster career opportunities to disabled servicemembers.

The awards recognized five government employees and one agency that have promoted the program and provided opportunities by using companies employing disabled veterans. They also recognized five Defense Department prime contractors with a proven record of awarding subcontracts to companies owned by service-disabled veterans. And they recognized six small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans that provide excellent services and products to DoD.

The Defense Department awarded $3 billion in fiscal 2008 in prime contracts to companies owned by service-disabled veterans, said Anthony R. Martoccia, director of the Office of Small Business Programs for the Defense Department. About $1.5 million in subcontracts went to such companies, he said, nearly double the total awards from about two years ago.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England was on hand to present the awards and said that many veterans who contributed to the nation's defense first in the military now have gone on to continue doing so as business owners.

"We are very proud of our strong relationship with America's veterans. We're also pleased with the success of the service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses," England said. "They make a positive impact, and we want to see these businesses continue to do well. It's good for them. It's good for us. And it's good for America.

"We owe it to our veterans," he continued, "and particularly to our disabled veterans, to give them every opportunity they can to continue to contribute to this great free society."

Martoccia said the awards are based on how many veterans the company hires and the level of its performance. Companies are nominated by small-business directors throughout the department. A panel reviews each application and makes the final selection, he said.

Martoccia said veterans are ideal candidates as both employees and contractors for DoD.

"Who knows better how to service the department than veterans? They know the department, they know what it needs and they know how to provide excellent service," Martoccia said. "It's a very successful program, and we're very proud of the service that these veterans provided to the country, and we're here to use their services and products that they can provide to the DoD."

John and Sue Scott, who own Advantage Engineering and IT Solutions out of Eldersburg, Md., were among the small business owners recognized at the ceremony. They both are veterans, and said they recruit veterans from the engineering field.

"We find that they know our customers well. We like the preparation that they've been given throughout their career," John Scott said. "We wanted to give back. So we started interviewing veterans in the engineering field ... as a priority. They've done a great job, and that has kept us hiring them."

Halfaker said she, too, recruits veterans for their dedication to the mission and the perspective and values they acquire in the service.

"What's important to me is I want somebody who wants to continue to serve," she said. "When I peel away the layers of a veteran, at the core is somebody who sees something bigger than themselves, who wants to be part of something bigger than themselves and wants to contribute, and is in it for all the right reasons. That's what I want in my organization."

Halfaker said it is especially important to hire service-disabled veterans, because their employment is key to their recovery.

The Golden Talon Award recognized acquisition professionals who have promoted the program and provided opportunities for veterans by using companies employing disabled veterans.

Those receiving the Golden Talon Award were:

-- Mark Mailander, administrative contracting officer for the Omaha District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;

-- Dawn Chartier, small business specialist, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division-Lakehurst, Naval Air Systems Command, Department of the Navy;

-- Nelson Escribano, small business specialist, Air Mobility Command, 6th Air Refueling Wing, Department of the Air Force;

-- Procurement Division and Small Business Center, Defense Contract Management Agency;

-- Chris Pierce, small business specialist, Aviation Supply Chain, Defense Supply Center Richmond, Defense Logistics Agency; and

-- Susan Larimer, small business specialist, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The Achievement Award recognized service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses that have excelled in the areas of innovative technologies for the warfighter and their impact on the veteran and service-disabled-veteran community and the business.

Those receiving the Achievement Award were:

-- Retired Army Capt. Dawn Halfaker, Halfaker and Associates LLC, Washington, D.C.;

-- Tony Ortiz, Millennium Systems Services Inc., Huntsville, Ala.;

-- Bryan Hill, Logistics 2020 Inc., Chesterfield, Va.;

-- Harry Looney, New World Solutions, Inc., Chantilly, Va.;

-- John Scott, Advantage Engineering and IT Solutions, Eldersburg, Md.; and

-- Joseph F. DiGangi, Trusant Technologies LLC, Columbia, Md.

The Prime Contractor Subcontracting Award recognized prime contractors who exceeded the 3 percent annual goal for subcontracting opportunities to service-disabled-veteran-owned small business.

Those receiving the Prime Contractor Subcontracting Award were:

-- A. Anton Frederickson, L-3 Communications Titan Corp., Reston, Va.;

-- Ralph Schrader, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, Va.;

-- Jean-Louis Vanderstraeten, FN Manufacturing LLC, Columbia, S.C.;

-- Edward J. Casey Jr., Serco Management Services Inc., Vienna, Va.; and

-- Nancy Tuor, CH2M HILL Inc., Englewood, Colo.

Guardsmen Find Parallels in Ukraine's Disaster Relief Efforts

By Army 2nd Lt. Will Martin
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - For
California National Guardsmen, the annual fire season has rendered moot the question of whether natural disasters will strike the state. No longer do they ask "if," but only "when" and "where." On the eve of Vigilant Guard '09, the National Guard's weeklong emergency-response training exercise, California Guardsmen learned their Ukrainian counterparts face a similar burden on their own native soil.

Each summer in western Ukraine, floods hammer the region surrounding the Carpathian Mountains, and this July especially heavy rains brought a record deluge, causing the worst financial damage in more than 100 years.

On Nov. 12, at the Joint Force Headquarters here, Ukrainian delegates prepared for Vigilant Guard by briefing
Army Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, California's adjutant general, and other key leadership on the difficult lessons gleaned from the recent catastrophic floods.

"The damage was equal to approximately 1 billion U.S. dollars," said Maj. Gen. Vasyl Kvashuk, director of the Ukrainian army's
civil protection department, through a translator. "In my opinion, people were not informed [in a timely manner] about the flooding."

Kvashuk said many Ukrainian officials failed to disseminate information about the threat of floods, and more importantly, on what people should do once heavy waters struck the villages at the base of the mountains.

"We lost 40 lives," Kvashuk said. "We lost both children and adult persons during the flood."

Many well-meaning citizens, Kvashuk said, actually caused further damage to life and property due to ignorance on how to respond properly. In one instance, a man overpopulated his small boat with neighbors. The boat capsized, drowning all eight passengers.

Ukraine is one of two nations participating in the
California National Guard's Partnership for Peace program, the other being Nigeria.

Just as officials in
California do, Ukrainian officials are learning to deal with their natural disasters through "real-world emergencies."

"It's not [ideal] to learn from your current emergencies," Kvashuk said, but he also noted that the transcarpathian region, the nation's most frequently flooded area, reacted best to the severe torrent in July, embracing the inevitability of the floods as an opportunity to improve their responsiveness.

That desire to bolster their readiness brought the Ukrainians – and a host of other nations – to
California to participate in Vigilant Guard, which offers participants a close-to-real-world training environment in a simulated earthquake scenario.

"We initiated a partnership with the National Guard of California 15 years ago," Kvashuk said, expressing his gratitude for the training benefits generated by the alliance. "We have learned much from our partnership."

(
Army 2nd Lt. Will Martin serves with the California National Guard.)

Mullen Issues Guidance Listing Priorities for Joint Staff

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 18, 2008 - Dealing with the greater Middle East, avoiding the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, resetting the forces and speeding up the Joint Staff are among the priorities the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has set for the coming year.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen issued his guidance for the coming year yesterday. Some of the guidance has not changed since last year, when Mullen first took office, some has been fine-tuned after the experiences of the past year, and some new items have made the list.

The chairman said he issued the guidance to give the 1,500 members of the Joint Staff the path ahead and to prioritize the strategic objectives for the future.

Mullen said the U.S.
military is the most combat-hardened force in the world today, and that the force has global responsibilities and will continue to have them.

"The sustained presence and persistent engagement of our forces are the most effective way to develop the lasting relationships and cooperation necessary to secure our vital national interests," Mullen wrote in the guidance.

The chairman said the U.S.
military advantage could slip if not maintained. Still, he said, not all problems in the world will respond to a military solution.

"We cannot meet the challenges of today and those of tomorrow with military power alone," he wrote. "We must guard against further militarization of our foreign policy."

The chairman said he wants not only
military capabilities, but also the capabilities of other U.S. agencies and foreign partners, to be successful against the threats facing the free world. He called on Joint Staff members to "think ahead on the strategic level, stay current at the operational level and be informed by tactical developments." He said the U.S. military and Joint Staff still are more reactive than anticipatory.

The greater Middle East remains the focus of the chairman's guidance. This area stretches from North Africa to Pakistan, and includes the Horn of Africa. "Combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan remain our immediate priority," he wrote. "We must do all we can to win these two wars."

Afghanistan and Pakistan are linked throughout the chairman's guidance. "I believe the nexus of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains the greatest threat to the United States and our vital national interests," he wrote. "Al-Qaida sanctuaries in the under-governed regions of Pakistan further contribute to regional instability." He said the safe havens in Pakistan are the greatest potential source of an attack on the United States.

He called on the Joint Staff to conduct continuous assessments of strategies and campaign plans for the United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. He also called on the Joint Staff to work to develop a military strategy to support the national security strategy for the greater Middle East.

Resetting and revitalizing American forces is another priority for the chairman. The pace of operations since Sept. 11, 2001, has precluded full training for many American servicemembers, he noted. Further, he said, many men and women have deployed multiple times.

"We have been at war for more than seven years, and I remain concerned that the high pace of operations will further degrade our warfighting systems, equipment, platforms and people if we fail to deliver on initiatives such as grow the force and reset funding," he wrote.

The chairman said he wants to change peacetime processes that continue on the Joint Staff and the services, and that he also is concerned about the metrics used to measure the health of the force. He also said it is important to develop and fund an operational reserve within the reserve components.

The chairman also asked the members of the Joint Staff to look at the global and long-term view of American
military posture.

"It is imperative that we remain capable of executing our war plans and engaged around the world – building partner capacity, improving international and interagency cooperation and fostering both security and stability," he wrote.

He also wants no let-up in deterrence as the new administration takes the reins of power in January. The chairman said he wants to work with the new administration to craft the National Military Strategy and ready the ground for the next Quadrennial Defense Review. He also called on planners to "articulate a vision for the future force, including an estimate of future threats and the military requirements to counter those threats."

The chairman made it clear he wants to speed up the decision process on the Joint Staff. He said the organization "must be capable of responding at the speed my job requires, not the speed a particular process currently allows."

Processes on the Joint Staff will change, and the guidance calls on the director of the Joint Staff to act. "No process is sacrosanct – [the director of the Joint Staff] shall break and redesign as needed – outcomes are what counts," Mullen wrote.

Soldier Missing in Action from Korean War is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Cpl. Librado Luna, U.S. Army, of Taylor, Texas. He will be buried on Nov. 25 in Taylor.

Representatives from the Army's Mortuary Office met with Luna's next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

In late November 1950, Luna was assigned to the 8th Army Ranger Company, 25th Infantry Division, then attached to B Company, 89th Medium Tank Battalion as part of Task Force Dolvin. The 8th Army Ranger Company was deployed on Hill 205 in Kujang County along the leading edge of the U.S. position. On November 25, the Chinese Army struck in force in what would become known as the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River. Task Force Dolvin, including the 8th Army Ranger Company, was forced to withdraw to the south. Of the 91 men from B Company, 89th Medium Tank Battalion and the 8th Army Ranger Company, only 22 made it to safety. Ten men, including Luna, went missing on November 26 near Hill 205.

In 1998, a joint U.S.-Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (D.P.R.K.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), excavated a burial site in Kujang County where a girl had uncovered possible American remains on a hill near her school. The site correlates with the area where members of the 8th Army Ranger Company fought as part of Task Force Dolvin. The team recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.

Among other
forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Luna's remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1420.