Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gates Minot Visit Offers Insight Into Issues Facing Next Administration

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 2, 2008 - Calling his past two years as defense secretary "the most gratifying experience of my life," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told about 1,000 airmen here yesterday that he shares their commitment to service and feels both compelled and honored to retain his post into the next administration. Gates traveled here directly from Chicago, where President-elect Barack Obama announced his national defense team selections, including Gates as defense secretary.

The secretary opened his address to about 1,000 airmen gathered in a B-52H Stratofortress hangar telling them it had not been his "expectation or desire" to remain in the Pentagon post beyond the Bush administration. However, he said, Obama had persuaded him to stay "a little bit longer," not specifying exactly how long that might be.

Gates praised the airmen's service, including a 24/7 nuclear deterrence mission at Minot as well as more than 2,000 deployments in support on the war on terror, and said he, too, will be honored to continue serving.

Obama will be the eighth president Gates has served.

Flanked by
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz and the North Dakota congressional delegation, Gates gave insight into the challenges he is likely to address during the next administration.

These include plans ranging from placing missile defenses in Eastern Europe to the need to overhaul the defense acquisition process to the issue that brought him to Minot: heightened oversight of the
Air Force's nuclear mission.

Minot is home to the 91st Missile Wing and 5th Bomb Wing, and made national headlines last year when six nuclear missiles were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 bomber here and flown to Barksdale
Air Force Base, La. Gates called past lapses in nuclear weapons handling "unacceptable," but said he believes the Air Force is "now moving in the right direction to reclaim the standards of excellence for which it was known throughout the Cold War."

He noted sweeping efforts under way, and said he awaits recommendations from a task force he formed to review nuclear enterprise oversight within the
Air Force and the Defense Department overall. Former Energy and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger is heading the task force, which is expected to deliver its findings later this month.

Gates got a firsthand look yesterday at operations supporting the nuclear mission. He climbed into the cockpit of a B-52 bomber, one of 12 at Minot, with a second squadron of 10 more to arrive beginning late next year. He toured a B-52 weapons system trainer and simulated launch facility.

The secretary also chatted with members of the 91st Security Forces Group, which safeguards 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and 15 missile alert facilities scattered across more than 8,500 square miles in northern North Dakota. As he greeted the airmen, Gates reminded them that their jobs handling land- and air-based nuclear weapons are "vital to the security of our nation."

"It's definitely a help for morale," Airman 1st Class Jeremiah Oswald, a member of the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, said of Gates' visit. "It shows that they think of us and that they've come here to support us."

Staff Sgt. Marcus Thames from the 5th Maintenance Group's weapons section called it "a privilege" that Gates took time to visit Minot and see how the base operates. "This helps the airmen realize how important our mission is to national security," he said. "It's very important to us and to our country."

"Only the best come north,"
Air Force Col. Joel Westa, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, told Gates, citing Minot's motto. "And that is absolutely true here. ... We never rest."

Navy Names Four Ships After American Pioneers

Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter announced today the names of four new Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ships (T-AKE) as Mathew Perry, Charles Drew, Washington Chambers and William McLean. All of the Lewis and Clark ships are named in honor of American explorers and pioneers and are being built by General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.

The selection of Matthew Perry, designated T-AKE 9, honors
Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858), who led a squadron of ships to Japan in 1853 with the aim of opening that nation to trade. He served during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, and was sent to suppress piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies.

The selection of Charles Drew, designated T-AKE 10, honors Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950), a physician and medical researcher whose pioneering work in the late 1930s and early 1940s led to the discovery that blood could be separated into plasma. The model for blood and plasma storage developed by Drew has saved untold lives and is the same process used today by the Red Cross. In 1943, he became the first African-American surgeon to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery. T-AKE 10 will be the first
Navy ship named after Drew.

The selection of Washington Chambers, designated T-AKE 11, honors Navy Capt. Washington Irving Chambers (1856-1934), a pioneer in naval aviation. Responsible for the
Navy's nascent aviation activities, Chambers arranged the world's first airplane flight from a warship. The Nov. 14, 1910, flight by aviator Eugene Ely on the light cruiser the USS Birmingham (CL-2) confirmed the potential of carrier-based naval aviation. T-AKE 11 will be the first Navy ship named after Chambers.

The selection of William McLean, designated T-AKE 12, honors William Burdette McLean (1914-1976), who conceived and developed the heat-seeking Sidewinder air-to-air missile while serving as a physicist for the
Navy. During World War II, McLean worked on ordnance equipment and testing at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. Following the war, he moved to the Naval Ordnance Test Station in China Lake, Calif., where he led the project team developing the Sidewinder missile. T-AKE 12 will be the first Navy ship named after McLean.

The T-AKEs are 689 feet in length, have an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet and displace approximately 42,000 tons. Powered by single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion systems, the T-AKEs can reach a speed of 20 knots. As part of the Military Sealift Command's (MSC) Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the T-AKEs are designated United States Naval Ship (USNS). Unlike their United States Ship (USS) counterparts, the T-AKEs are crewed by 124 civil service mariners working for MSC, as well as 11 sailors who provide supply coordination. When needed, the T-AKEs can also carry a helicopter detachment.

Gates Pledges to Continue Tackling Tough Issues

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 2, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will devote himself to resolving challenges facing the Defense Department while serving as part of the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, he said during a Pentagon news conference today. "Our challenges -- from the budget to acquisition and procurement reform, war strategy, care of wounded warriors, meeting the needs of warfighters, decisions on important modernization and capitalization projects and more -- all demand the personal attention of the secretary of defense and they will get it," he said.

Gates said he has no intention of being "a caretaker secretary" in the Obama administration. As the first defense secretary asked to serve in the administration of another party, Gates said there is far too much at stake for the nation to simply occupy the position.

The secretary thanked President George W. Bush for appointing him as secretary in November 2006.

"Serving in this position has been the most gratifying experience of my life, and he made it possible," Gates said. "I also thank him for his support in the difficult decisions that I've had to make. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work for and with him."

He also thanked President-elect Obama for asking him to remain in office, adding that he does not have a time limit in the new administration. "The president-elect and I agreed that this would be open-ended," Gates said.

The secretary has said many times in the past that his desire was to retire to his home in Washington state. But, "with the country fighting two wars and our men and women in uniform at risk, if a president asks me to help, there's no way I can say no," he said.

As with every new president, Obama will appoint people to fill the civilian
leadership positions at the Defense Department.

"Virtually every political appointee in the Department of Defense before yesterday assumed he or she would be replaced on Jan. 20 or soon thereafter," Gates said. "That assumption remains as valid today as it was before."

The secretary will have some input in the Obama administration's personnel choices for the department.

"I expect that the transition will provide names and candidates to me for positions -- particularly for the most senior positions," Gates said. "I will interview them, and then I'll make a recommendation to the president, and the president-elect or president will make the final decisions."

Gates admitted that he considers himself a Republican, but feels he can work well with President-elect Obama and his team. Gates has served under eight presidents of both parties.

"The president-elect has made it pretty clear that he wanted a team of people around him who would tell him what they thought and give him their best advice," Gates said. "I think he has assembled that team. There will no doubt be differences among the team, and it will be up to the president to make the decisions."

One area of decision involves U.S. forces in Iraq. Gates said the signing of the status-of-forces agreement already put the United States on a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

Obama's desire to withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office is doable. "But he also said that he wanted to have a responsible drawdown, and he also said that he was prepared to listen to his commanders," Gates said. "So I think that that's exactly the position a president-elect should be in."

Gates painted in broad strokes some of the priorities for the next few years. A strategy review in Afghanistan, close scrutiny of the budget, and a very hard look at the way the department handles acquisition and procurement will be important steps in the next few months, he said.

Deputy Secretary England Announces Departure

American Forces Press Service

, Dec. 2, 2008 - Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England said today that he will not be staying with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in President-elect Barack Obama's administration. "I congratulate President-elect Obama for retaining Bob Gates as secretary, and I salute Bob Gates for his continued commitment," England said.

"However, it's time for me to leave. When I came into government in early 2001, I anticipated serving for two to four years. After almost eight years, it's now time for me to turn over the reins to a successor. Also, it's most appropriate for the new administration to name its own deputy."

England said he will stay for some time past Jan. 20, if requested, to assure a smooth transition.

England added, "It's been an astonishing time to serve the nation under President Bush and alongside Secretaries Don Rumsfeld and Bob Gates, each of whom I greatly admire. I thank the brave men and women of our
military, and their families, for their service and sacrifice, and for the honor of serving them."



ADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded on Nov 26, 2008 a, $208,375,756 firm fixed price contract for funding of Program Year 04 of the
Army's Light Utility Helicopter contract for thirty-nine Light Utility Helicopters. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., and Grand Prairie, Texas with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. USA Aviation & Missile Command, Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0194).

Midwest Research Institute,
Kansas City, Mo., was awarded on Nov 26, 2008, a $7,967,779 cost plus fixed fee price contract for Individual Protection Equipment Mannequin System. The integrated IPE Mannequin, Exposure Chamber, Exposure Chambers Ingress/Egress Support and Control Room are referred to as the IPE Mannequin System. Work will be performed in Kansas City, Mo., Waltham, Mass., Seattle, Wash., Atlanta, Ga., and Farmington, Utah, with an estimated completion date of Apr. 30, 2011. Three bids were solicited and two bids were received. USA Army Research Development & Engineer Command Acquisition Center, Aberdeen, Md., is the contracting activity (W911SR-09-C-0006).


Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract and cost plus fixed fee to Raytheon Missile System Co., Tucson, Ariz. for $15,000,000. This effort is for a requirements contract for non-routine actions. At this time $7,259,004 has been obligated. 657 AESS, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8982-09-D-0070 and FA8982-09-D-0070 DO 01).


Treen Box and Pallet, Bensalem, Pa.*, is being awarded a maximum $5,125,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, total set aside contract for supply of wood pallets. There is no other location of performance. Using activities are the Defense Distribution Command Depots throughout the United States. This proposal was originally solicited to 11 entities with nine responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 04, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SP0530-06-D-0004).