Military News

Monday, November 24, 2008

Post-Combat Coping Methods Vary, Troops Say

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - Methods of coping with combat and its after effects vary as greatly as the effects themselves, six warriors participating in a conference panel here said. The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury hosted the "Warrior Resilience Conference: Partnership with the Line." Combat veterans who spoke at the conference described a range of effects and needs in becoming resilient.

Army Maj. Stephen Williams was the head nurse with an outpatient unit of the 3rd Medical Command's 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad when the base was hit with mortars July 10.

Since then, Williams has dwelled not on what he saw or did that day, but on what he couldn't do -- save his battle partner,
Army Capt. Maria Ortiz.

"I couldn't provide assistance to my comrade who was actually lying next to me and ended up passing away," said Williams, who was seriously wounded in his leg with a severed femoral artery.

Dealing with the reality that he couldn't help Ortiz was just one piece of a larger puzzle for Williams. He also had to face how his injuries would affect him and his family. When he returned home to convalesce, he said, his young children wouldn't touch him, for fear they would hurt him.

"In hindsight, I didn't know enough to say, 'Hey, we need to talk to them more [deeply] on this," he said. "So, I think there's something more that we could do for the families out there [to] let them come to grips with these situations."

An
Army couple at the conference, the Blackledges, also know how crucial it is to have family support during the healing process and just how important it is to come to grips with what's happened.

Army Maj. Gen. David Blackledge, a West Point graduate, has served for 32 years and was serving with the 352nd Civil Affairs Command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in January 2003. He was on his last mission outside the wire before heading home when his convoy was ambushed. The vehicle he was riding in rolled and, among other injuries, he suffered a crushed vertebra.

It took nearly two years for him to fully recover and return to full duty. During this time his wife,
Army Lt. Colonel-select Iwona E. Blackledge, learned how spouses cope with the effects of war.

She had attended family readiness group briefings. It was a good start, but there's really no preparing for what she endured.

"It is very hard to prepare someone for that 5 o'clock call in the morning," she said. "What helped was that it was my husband who called, so I knew he was OK. Once he hung up, I was all alone and that's when the stress started."

Talking to a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here after her husband arrived gave her an idea of what to expect and how to deal with what might come up, she said.

Blackledge returned to theater after his recovery only to be injured again – much less severely -- in a bombing.

Blackledge's resiliency after combat, he said, came from family support and belief in the mission. Also, talking about it was a big help, he said.

"When I got to Walter Reed, they immediately assigned a psychologist to me," as is protocol for all traumatic cases returning to the facility, Blackledge said. "He was really helpful because I was going through the dreams and all that stuff. He talked me through it, gave me some tips on how to deal with that [and] ... what I would expect to deal with over the preceding weeks and months."

Retired
Army Capt. Dawn Halfaker said, for her, recovery was a three-part process that began in the hospital. That phase focuses on physically rebuilding the body. She lost an arm when her vehicle was ambushed with small-arms and rocket-propelled-grenade fire while she was serving in Baqouba, Iraq, in February 2004.

"I really, really would not be, I don't think, here today or the person I am today without the physical therapy and occupational therapy that I received," Halfaker said. "Although I wasn't certainly busting out pushups or maxing my [physical test] ... I was working toward a goal of getting better.

"That was really, I think, a positive and powerful phase for me," she added.

Then, the West Point graduate entered the reintegration phase and realized it's a journey that never ends.

"Every day something comes up that is difficult or challenging, or socially awkward or, I guess, psychologically challenging," Halfaker said. "I feel like the support I had at Walter Reed and my family support and just sort of my ability through my work ... to regain that sense of purpose is so critical to get through all those little frustrations."

One thing that really helped, Halfaker said, was when she received a call from Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, former acting commander of U.S. Central Command, from Iraq. Halfaker had played on the West Point basketball team with Dempsey's daughter.

"That was just huge. I can't even explain how powerful that was," she said of the call.

Retired
Army Master Sgt. Christopher Scheuerman reiterated suggestions that leaders throughout the chain of command need to be involved with their troops, even before injuries occur.

After a disciplinary action and corrective training for being what the Army labeled a "malingerer," Scheuerman's son, Jason, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at the time, killed himself, Scheuerman told the audience.

"We have a foundation of support, that foundation being our chain of command, the chaplaincy and medical," Scheuerman said. "Very seldom do all three of those foundations of support fail.

"In this case, all three did," he added.

Realizing he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, Scheuerman, who trains medics at Fort Bragg, N.C., began seeing a therapist and never failed to mention it to his students.

"Just by telling them that, almost every class, three of four of them would come to me later and say, 'How did you start that? I need to do that, too,'" he said. "We have to err on the side of soldiers' safety, because if we make a mistake, resiliency breaks down [and] we lose a soldier.

"It's horrible to lose the soldiers we have to, [but] it's an absolute tragedy to lose a soldier we shouldn't."

Retired Marine Sgt. Andrew Brandi, who works with veterans returning from combat, is working to prevent losing any more servicemembers to what he described as the "norm" for his generation.

"I was sitting down with three of my good Marine Corps buddies, all [diagnosed as] 100 [percent PTSD disabled] ... not too long ago. Relationships came up,'" Brandi said. "Between the four of us ... we had 23 wives. I've had 65 jobs, five major career changes and three wives, so I was by no means the record holder in this group."

But one of his buddies piped up to say that's "normal" for what they'd been through.

"He was right. For my generation that's normal," Brandi said. "We do not want this generation to go through what we have for the last 40 years."

Veterans have the strength to overcome, but it won't be easy, Brandi said.

"I want these young folks to know they have the strength as warriors to get through the [Veterans Affairs] programs and face it," he said. "Is it easy? Hell, no. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

"Life can be excellent, but it takes a lot of guts ... to get through it," he added. "We have the strength to do this."

Deployed Soldier Runs Gamut from Infantry to Personnel Office

By Army Staff Sgt. Amber Emery
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 -
Army Spc. Anthony Calhoun has discovered that sometimes the things we don't plan, work out the best. Calhoun didn't plan to enlist in the Army. But once he did, he realized it was his calling. From infantryman to administrative specialist, he has had a spectrum of experiences in his Army career. Currently, he is a 10th Mountain Division Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System operator.

"Honestly, I don't know why I joined. I was just watching TV, and it looked fun -- jumping out of helicopters," the
New Orleans native said. "I have always been infatuated with tanks and helicopters and things like that. I guess it was just in my blood; it was kind of like a childhood dream to try it out."

Calhoun enlisted in 1999 and served the next six years with the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade. He was deployed multiple times, including for a two-year tour at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"At the time, the length of the deployment didn't bother me. The people you are around make a big difference," Calhoun said. "You adopt each other as family ... your military family is actually closer. It's weird, but we would all die for each other.

"I got used to the field time. That's all we ever did was train, so I was prepared for it."

Asked what his favorite job position was, Calhoun doesn't hesitate: It was when he moved from team
leader to squad leader right before the kick off of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I got to lead soldiers in combat. I feel I am a natural born
leader. Some people you have to teach to lead, but I feel it is one of my best assets to lead," Calhoun said. "I am a take charge type of person."

Calhoun had a two-year break in service from 2005 to 2007, during which he spent time with his family. He re-enlisted, he said, because he loved what he was doing.

"My three children -- Destiny, 11, Tyreik, 10, and Trayvion, 8 -- think it is just one of the most wonderful jobs in the world," he said. "Daddy was fighting bad people, and daddy was in Iraq."

Since his return to active duty, Calhoun left the front lines to take his current position with 10th Mountain Division. His work here includes providing identification cards, retirement packets, supervising finance, and assisting with awards and personnel actions.

"Being with 10th Mountain is a whole different ball game for me because I am used to the mechanized world," he said. "So, it is totally different. You have to be more professional here than anything, especially with the job I have. Being on line is totally different than being in a division element. It is like going from day to night."

Comparing Iraq's current state of affairs to his previous deployment here, Calhoun feels the improvements in security prove coalition forces are doing the right thing.

"I have been outside the wire twice since I've been here," he said. "Seeing what it was from when I was here before to seeing it now, it is really amazing."

Calhoun's future plans include pursuing his promotion to sergeant and eventually putting in a packet to become a warrant officer in the aviation field.

"I've done everything else I've wanted to do so far," he said. "I've been in the Bradley's, I've shot a tank, I've been around all kinds of artillery on the ground. The one thing left to do that I haven't done is to fly a [helicopter]."

(
Army Staff Sgt. Amber Emery works for Multinational Division –Center Public Affairs.)

Investment in Afghanistan Makes Economic Sense, Gates Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - Tough economic times are no excuse for the international community to withhold support for Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters returning with him Nov. 21 from a two-day defense ministerial in Nova Scotia, Canada. Gates called it shortsighted for some to consider cutting troop support or funding in Afghanistan, particularly in light of the threats that remain there.

"They'll have to weigh the consequences of not doing it," he told reporters.

The secretary said during a news conference in Cornwallis, Canada, that Afghanistan poses "some significant challenges," with insurgents finding sanctuary in the western border area and new recruits joining the insurgency during the past two years.

A key to countering this, he said, is to continue going after the Taliban, al-Qaida and other threats while building Afghan security forces so they can assume full responsibility for the country's security.

NATO is building a trust fund to underwrite the effort and nearly doubling the Afghan security forces to 134,000 members. Despite its estimated $17 billion price tag, Gates called it a solid investment.

"There is a huge disproportion between what it costs to train and equip an Afghan soldier and what it costs to put an American soldier in Afghanistan, trained and equipped and sustained," he said. "It is an order of many orders of magnitude, [and that's] true of other countries as well."

Ultimately, he said, it's in everyone's best interest to speed up the process in building up the Afghan national security forces. "Over the long term, your interests in getting out [of Afghanistan] are served by making a contribution to expanding the Afghan army."

Gates said during a NATO defense ministerial last month in Bucharest, Hungary, that he encountered no "push-back" on either the expansion of the Afghan National Army or creation of a NATO trust fund to help pay for it. "I think there is a broad understanding that, ultimately, the expansion of the Afghan security forces is everybody's ticket out of there," he told reporters.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, who hosted last week's meeting, reiterated the call for other NATO countries to support the effort through trainers, equipment or funding. "Other countries should be under no illusion," MacKay said. "We are still asking for them to pick up the slack and share the burden."

Thanksgiving Day Message 2008

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - In his 2008 Thanksgiving Day message released today,
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted the wartime similarities between today and the proclamation of the national holiday 140 years ago. Here is the text of Mullen's message:

Citing the many blessings bestowed upon the United States, these timeless words were delivered by Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 proclamation establishing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday:

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole
American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise ..."

It is humbling indeed to recall that in the thick of the
Civil War – rife with conflict, dark with turmoil, and bloody with loss – American families at home and abroad were encouraged to reflect upon the bounty, opportunities, and liberties of their Nation. And give thanks they did.

This year, as we once again set apart and observe a day of thanks, nearly 280,000 service men and women are currently deployed across the globe, fighting our Nation's wars and defending our way of life. Let us remember those who are serving abroad and unable to celebrate with their loved ones.

Let us also honor their families, especially those of the fallen, who endure yet another gathering with an empty chair at the table, and one less hand to hold. We should present our thanks to them – and for them – with words, deeds, and open arms.

On behalf of my family, and those of the Joint Chiefs, I offer my heartfelt gratitude to you and your families for your service and sacrifice. Together, you help us rise above the challenges of our day, and make thanksgiving and praise possible once more for the whole
American people.

MILITARY CONTRACTS November 24, 2008

Navy

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney,
Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $98,894,306 modification to a previously awarded cost plus incentive fee contract (N00019-07-C-0098) to exercise an option for the procurement of one Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) propulsion system, one STOVL initial spare module, initial spare parts, and associated sustainment efforts for the U.S. Navy. In addition, this modification provides for special tooling and test equipment and a low rate initial production proposal and planning effort for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (70 percent); Bristol, United Kingdom (19 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (11 percent) and is expected to be completed in February 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Honeywell
Technology Solutions, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., being awarded a $52,328,604 modification (#P00124) to previously awarded cost plus award fee contract (M67004-99-C-0002) to incorporate funds for the exercise of an option for the Maritime Prepositioning Ships Program, the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway, and other logistics support which includes logistics services that cover maintenance, supply support, inventory management, IT support, preservation, packing and packaging, organic support, and shipping and receiving, both in CONUS and OCONUS. This modification increases the basic value of the contract to a new total of $810,234,260. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Fla. (75 percent); various locations in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan (17 percent); aboard 16 MPS ships (7 percent); in six locations in Norway (1 percent); and work is expected to be completed by July 13, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The United States Marine Corps, Blount Island Command, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Norfolk, Va., is being awarded a $15,977,851 modification to previously awarded contract N00024-05-C-4403 for the USS Nassau (LHA-4) FY09 planned maintenance availability. There are 30+ work items that are repair, replace, preserve, install, clean in nature. In addition, the contractor will perform support services for several alteration installation teams and Norfolk Naval Shipyard work. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be completed by February 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $15,905,566 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., Greenville, S.C., is being awarded an $11,822,675 not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for Special Structural Inspection Kit (SSIK) Revision 7 inspection/ installation on five P-3 aircraft. Work will be performed in Greenville, S.C., and is expected to be completed in June 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-05-D-0013).

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded an $11,276,395 modification to previously awarded contract to exercise an option for technical engineering support for the ESSM. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (45 percent); Camden, Ark. (2 percent); Andover, Mass. (10 percent); Australia (11 percent); Canada (7 percent); Denmark (1 percent); Greece (1 percent); Germany (8 percent); The Netherlands (6 percent); Norway (5 percent); Spain (3 percent); and Turkey (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $349,968 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington
Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-07-C-5432).

Air Force

The
Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price and cost plus fixed fee contract with Thales-Raytheon Systems, Fullerton, Calif. for $6,604,990. This contract will provide sector/systems sustainment, engineering support, and materials to support sustainment of the Battle Control System-fixed system, which provides NORAD and PACOM commanders with a viable, interoperable, open architecture air defense and control platform in support of NORAD's Homeland Defense. At this time, all the money has been obligated. HQ Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. is the contracting activity. (FA8722-06-C-001, Modification P00017).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Foster-Caviness Company, Inc., Colfax, N.C.* is being awarded a maximum $14,100,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, total set aside contract for fresh fruit and vegetable support. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and USDA School Lunch Participants. This proposal was originally Web solicited with 2 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising first option period. The date of performance completion is May 29, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM300-08-D-P002).

Produce Source Partners, Newport News, Va.* is being awarded a maximum $10,350,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, total set aside contract for fresh fruit and vegetable support. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are
Army, Navy and Marine Corps. This proposal was originally Web solicited with 3 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising first option period. The date of performance completion is May 29, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM300-08-D-P001).

Army

Summa
Technology Inc, Huntsville, Ala., was awarded on Nov 21, 2008 a, $39,999,694 five-year firm fixed price contract for a container Roll In/Out Platform. The estimated Five Year total was 3,270. Work will be performed in Cullman, Ala., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2012. Bids solicited were via the Web and six bids were received. US Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-06-D-0269).

Thales-Raytheon Systems Co., LLC,
Fullerton, Calif., was awarded on Sept 25, 2008, a modification for $22,316,182.00 with the total of %75,510,390.00 firm fixed price contract for 264 Radar Processors and 47 Radar Processors Spare Kits in support of the Firefinder AN/TPQ-36 Radar Processors replacement program. Work will be performed in Fullerton, Calif., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2010. This was a sole source contract. Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-06-C-M207 P00020).

Rolls-Royce Corporation, Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded on Nov 20, 2008 a, $11,050,725 firm fixed price contract, to analyze, test, repair and overhaul of 117 each T63-A-720 Gas Turbine Engines applicable to the OH-58 Kiowa Helicopters. Work will be performed in Neosho, Mo., and
Oakland, Calif., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. US Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-09-C-0001).

Mississippi Limestone Corp, Friars Point, Miss., was awarded on Nov 20, 2008 a, $9,802,332 firm fixed price contract for flood control, Mississippi River & Tributaries, Articulated Concrete Matter Castings, Delta, La. Work will be performed in Vidalia, La., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 10, 2009. Bids solicited were via the FedBizOpps and two bids were received. Corp of Engineers, Vicksburg Contracting Office, Vicksburg, Miss., is the contracting activity (W912EE-09-C-0001).

BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Nashua, NH was awarded on Sept 25, 2008, a fixed price contract for $11,221,000.00 with a not to exceed total of $22,900,000.00 firm for 73 Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure/Common Missile Warning Systems A-Kits for the CH-47 aircraft. Work will be performed in Nashua, N.H., with an estimated completion date of July 25, 2009. This was a sole source contract. Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-08-C-T213).

.W. LaQuay Dredging, Inc, Port Lavaca, Texas, was awarded on Nov 20, 2008 a, $10,796,000 firm fixed price contract. Gulf Intercostals Waterways, Texas in Nueces, Kleberg, Kennedy, Willacy, and Cameron Counties, Texas, Corpus Christi Bay to Port Isabel, Pipeline Dredging. Work will be performed in Nueces County, Texas, Kleberg County, Texas, Kennedy, Texas, Willacy County, Texas and Cameron County, Texas, with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2009. Eighteen bids were solicited and two bids were received. US
Army Engineer District, Galveston, Texas, is the contracting activity (W912HY-09-C-0005).