Military News

Friday, February 27, 2009

Face of Defense: Veteran Submariner Garners Coveted Neptune Award

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2009 - Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Korey Ketola recalled that he was uneasy when he embarked on his first submarine patrol in 1983. "I was scared," Ketola told reporters at Naval Submarine Base King's Bay, Ga., Feb. 18.

Yet, today, Ketola is the current holder of the coveted Neptune Award for having completed 35 strategic submarine patrols -- the most patrols among active-duty officers and enlisted members in the U.S. Navy.

Ketola, now the senior noncommissioned officer at the Trident submarine training facility at King's Bay, will retain the award until someone else surpasses his total or he retires.

All 35 of his patrols, Ketola said, were made aboard Trident strategic missile submarines.

Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, Tridents are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory.

A Trident crew consists of about 160 officers and enlisted sailors. The original ballistic missile versions are nicknamed "Boomers," and they feature the designator SSBN. The Boomers are capable of carrying as many as 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear missiles. The vessel also carries Mark-48 torpedoes.

Ketola completed his first patrol aboard the USS Michigan. Later, he went on to serve aboard the submarines USS West Virginia, USS Wyoming and USS Maine.

The veteran submariner also earned the Neptune Award in 2005 by accruing 29 completed Trident submarine patrols.

The Trident submarine "is a fantastic machine, probably the second-most complex machine you have, next to the space shuttle," Ketola told reporters.

New Pentagon Channel Podcast Brings Troops, Entertainers Together

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2009 - The Pentagon Channel is giving troops a chance to get to know their favorite entertainers a little better with a new video podcast called "Command Performance." The podcast consists of an interactive session with popular entertainers, using questions submitted online by military members and their families.

"'Command Performance' is designed to reach more of our audience members and is one of the many products the Pentagon Channel produces to keep servicemembers and their families informed and entertained," Brian Natwick, the channel's general manager, said.

The broad range of questions submitted and the entertainers' answers will define common ground between the two groups. For example, the rock band The Killers will provide insight into how they stay close to their families while on tour, and one artist will tell of a personal struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Available through iTunes or directly from the Pentagon Channel's Web site, "Command Performance" gives the audience a chance to submit questions online for the roster of upcoming shows, which will be available in early spring when the program officially launches. Two podcasts are available now for download.

Channel officials said they hope the interactive format of the new video podcast will keep servicemembers engaged not only with the show, but also, by extension, with military news available on the Pentagon Channel site.

The "Command Performance" playlist offers something for everyone, with a range of entertainers from rock to jazz scenes and pop to blues. Current episodes feature interviews with jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, indie rock singer Cat Power and members of the rock band 3 Doors Down.

"Going behind the scenes and watching the process of how a concert is put together is really fascinating," said Pentagon Channel anchor Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Liz Murray. "But being able to sit down and talk to the artist while all that is going on is even better!"

The program puts the spotlight on the servicemember, Marine Sgt. Ted Macdonald said. "A big part of what makes 'Command Performance' so special is the fact that artists seem just as interested in learning about the military as we are in getting to know them," he said.

Multinational Exercise to Test Interoperability in Caribbean

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2009 - An initiative aimed at boosting capacity among Central and South American security forces will get put to the test next week when 18 countries come together for a national security exercise in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
The United States and Great Britain will join 16 Caribbean countries during the 25th annual Tradewinds exercise that kicks off March 4 and runs through March 18.

Marine Corps Forces South will take the lead in the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise focused on maritime interdiction and search-and-rescue operations with an emphasis on command and control.

Representatives of every military service, the Coast Guard, Joint Interagency Task Force South and the Drug Enforcement Agency will be among about 500 participants in Tradewinds 2009.

During the exercise, they'll conduct boarding party operations training, evidence processing and hazardous material identification and handling during realistic scenarios in Nassau and the Dominican Republic, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. David Hercher of Marine Corps Forces South said.

As the participants rehearse critical skills, they'll also help Southcom assess the effectiveness of its Enduring Friendship program. The program provides select partner nations with high-speed interceptor boats with extensive communication and surveillance capabilities, operation and maintenance training, and command and control systems, Southcom spokesman Jose Ruiz said.

By providing a common operating picture and improving maritime domain awareness and interoperability, the program builds or improves partner nations' ability to detect and interdict illicit trafficking along their shores.

The Tradewinds exercise will offer one of the first opportunities for Enduring Friendship program participants to exercise the standardized equipment and training offered through the program, Ruiz said.

"The goals of Tradewinds 2009 are to better coordinate partner nations' search-and-rescue and maritime interdiction operations, increase maritime domain awareness, and better coordinate end-game seizure of illicit-trafficking vessels that can be used to smuggle terrorists, weapons, explosives or narcotics," said Marine Corps Maj. Landon Hutchens, exercise coordinator for U.S. Marine Corps Forces South.

"The U.S. and the Caribbean share common interests, and regional challenges require cooperative solutions," Hutchens said. "Illicit trafficking is a threat faced by all nations in the region. We are all committed to building lasting partnerships that will enhance our ability to work effectively together."

In addition to the United States and Great Britain, participants in the exercise are the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, St. Kitts-Neves, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad-Tobago.

President's Budget Proposal Includes 2.9 Percent Pay Raise for Troops

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2009 - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2010 budget proposal includes a 2.9 percent pay increase for U.S. servicemembers. The figure is lower than pay raises requested the past two years, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday. But he noted that Congress has a precedent of increasing the amount initially requested.

"Two years ago, we went to the Hill with about the same request; it was 3 percent. And last year, we went with a request for 3.5 percent," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. "In both cases, the Congress added to it."

Gates cited the "constrained economic environment" for the smaller proposed pay raise, but said the request is "not all that different from what we submitted in the past."

The bump in pay is part of the Defense Department's $534 base operating budget for fiscal 2010, which represents a 4 percent, or $20 billion, increase from the previous fiscal year.

At a news conference yesterday, Gates expressed confidence that the department's budget share will be enough to sustain its requirements, including personnel needs.

"I'm confident that this funding level will allow the department to meet its long-term institutional priorities of taking care of the troops and their families, rebalancing our capabilities for conventional and irregular warfare, completing the growth of the Army and Marine Corps and preserving essential modernization programs," he said.

The budget summary released by the White House yesterday says the military pay increase reflects the administration's commitment to caring for troops and increases servicemembers' purchasing power.

"After years of asking more and more from our troops and their families, this budget reflects the priorities of an administration that is committed to caring for the servicemembers who protect our security and the families who support them," the summary states.

Defense Schools Raise Age Requirements for Early Childhood Education

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2009 - Young military children who thought the first day of school was imminent may not have to worry about reading, writing and arithmetic until next year because of a change in entrance age requirements. The new rule, which goes into effect this fall with the start of the 2009-2010 school year, requires that students reach the pre-established age by Sept. 1. Students must be 4 years old to enroll in pre-kindergarten or the Defense Department's Sure Start program. Kindergartners must be 5, and first graders, 6. Under current rules, children have to reach the above ages by Oct. 31.

The Department of Defense Education Activity made the change after research showed that 36 states require kindergartners to be 5 by Sept. 1 or earlier, Marc Mossburg, chief of curriculum for DoDEA, said.

"This was done nationally for a variety of reasons, but it basically gives most kids a sure start in kindergarten and first grade," Mossburg said. "We did make the choice to align ourselves with the nation. We're trying to keep pace with the nation and trying to make sure our military kids have that advantage."

DoDEA's decision to implement the change also was, in part, an effort to ease the transition of students who start in a defense school, but then transfer to a public school, Mossburg said.

"We wanted to make sure that our kids, if they go to kindergarten and they transfer to a first grade in the States, that they are ready to enter that first grade," he said.

Consequently, students who have completed a year at an accredited kindergarten and then transfer to a DoDEA school can enroll in first grade regardless of whether they meet the age requirement, Mossburg said. There are considerations for kindergartners who transfer after starting school but before completing kindergarten, as well.

"We realize we deal with the military population. Our exceptions are based upon those families who [transfer] here and they've already started kindergarten," he said. "They're enrolled in kindergarten. They're going to kindergarten for a week, or a month, or six months and they're younger and they come into our [program], we don't say, 'Oh, you don't meet our [age requirement].'

"We accept them, but that's where the exceptions are; those students whose parents are [transferring] during the school year," he added.

Mossburg knows that some parents and students eagerly awaiting that first day of school may be disappointed in DoDEA's decision, but he's confident the change was made in the best interests of the students.

Lori Pickel, DoDEA's acting early childhood coordinator, who has already encountered this situation, agrees. Her son didn't meet North Carolina's age requirement to start kindergarten when the military family was stationed in the state. But, she said, how that realization affects students is really up to the parents.

"We all know that our kids' first teachers are parents," she said. "We set the stage in our attitude and the way we're going to accept it.

"You ... as the parent, have to choose: Is it going to be a positive or a negative?" she said.

Parents whose students don't meet the age requirements by Sept. 1 have options for their children, including the Defense Department's child development centers, Mossburg said. The centers teach a developmental program like that used in DoDEA's preschools.

In addition, if a parent feels their student can handle some advanced work, regardless of their age, DoDEA offers parent guides by grade on its Web site. The guides provide grade-appropriate standards and activities.

MILITARY CONTRACTS February 27, 2009

Missile Defense Agency Contract Award

The Computer Sciences Corp., Federal Sector of Falls Church, Va., is being awarded a cost plus award fee contract modification under contract HQ0006-03-C-0003 for $108,011,668. After award of this modification the cumulative contract value will be $736,989,348. The work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama. This sole source award is a modification to extend the existing contract through Jan. 2010. This is a bridge modification to provide continuity of support until the competitive award of the Missile Defense Agency Advisory and Engineering Support Services contracts. The amount obligated on this action is $40,129,330 using fiscal year 2009 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity (HQ0006-03-C-0003).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., for $175,000,000. This action is to procure the congressionally mandated advance procurement of long-lead parts in FY08 and FY09 for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite Vehicle four. At this time $104,450,000 has been obligated. MCSW/PK, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04701-02-C-0002 POO347).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Jacobs Technology, Incorporated, Tullahoma, Tennessee for $22,801,396. This action will provided operational support required by the Air Force Research Laboratory for design, construction, reconfiguration, modification, test operations and maintenance of experimental and support facilities used to perform research and development of rocket propulsion, space systems and their components. At this time $9,250,909 has been obligated. AFFTC/PK, Edwards AFB, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04611-99-C-0003 P00115).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with IAP Worldwide Services, Incorporated, Cape Canaveral, Fla., for $16, 512,251. This contract will exercise option one to perform Civil Engineering Services for Hanscom AFB to include customer support services, infrastructure maintenance, facility maintenance, physical plant operations, utilities management, civil engineer services, environmental compliance, engineering support services, repair, some construction, property management and financial management. At the time$7, 736, 473 has been obligated. 66 CONS/LGCA, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA2835-08-D-0001 P00005).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with the Science Applications International Corporation, El Segundo, Calif., for $12,737,017. This modification will modify the system Engineering and Integration services contract to expand the Modernized Global Positioning System User Equipment program. At this time $69,368 has been obligated. GPSW/PK, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FAA807-07-C-002/P00019).

The Air Force is awarding a contract to Lockheed Martin Corp., King of Prussia, Pa., for $9,725,522. This contract action will design, fabricate, integrate, and test the Payload Delivery Vehicle for flight demonstration of the Conventional Prompt Global Strike Capability. SMC/XRC, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8814-08-C-0003).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Marietta for $8,419,000. This contract action is for the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engineering Program estimate at completion growth and cost overrun. At this time $6,419,126 has been obligated. ASC/516 AESW/716 AESG, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio is the contracting activity (F33657-02-C-2000 P00172).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Integrated Systems Air Combat Systems, San Diego, Calif., for $5,857,128. This action will provide Engineering, manufacturing and development infrastructure activates in support of the Global Hawk Program. At this time $5,362,526 has been obligated. 303 AESG/SYK, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio is the contracting activity (F33657-01-C-4600 P00304).

ARMY

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla., was awarded on Feb. 26, 2009, a $46,257,600 firm fixed price contract for 30,000 each, M865 (Target Practice Cone Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer) 120mm Cartridges. The M865 is the Kinetic Energy Training round. This round has inert projectiles and is used in live-fire training for M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams Tanks; 15,000 each, M1002 (Target Practice, Multipurpose Tracer TP-T) Cartridges. Load, Assemble and Pack (LAP) will take place at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Middletown, Iowa, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2010. Two bids were solicited and two bids received. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Contracting Center – Tank & Automotive Command (TACOM), Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52P1J-08-C-0010).

Cubic Simulation Systems, Inc., Orlando, Fla., was awarded on Feb. 26, 2009, a $16,169,357 mixed line items primarily firm fixed price contract for which the delivery order is for the procurement of up to 255 Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) 2000 systems, and supporting weapons and spares. Work is to be performed at Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2012. One bid was solicited and one bid received. Program Executive Office, Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (W900KK-07-D-0720).

Parker Hannifin Corp., Minneapolis, Minn., was awarded on Feb. 25, 2009, a $34,322,920 firm fixed price UCA contract for the procurement of 1,354 each, Door Assistant Mechanisms for the Frag Kit 6. Work is to be performed at Minneapolis, Minn., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid received. Tank & Automotive Command Contracting Center, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52H09-09-C-0062).

Alutiiq International Solutions, LLC, Aurora, Colo., was awarded on Feb. 25, 2009, an $11,510,573 construction firm fixed price contract for construction of a Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility at Fort Riley, Kan. Estimated completion date is Sept. 2, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City, Mo., is the contracting activity (W912HN-08-D-0032).

NAVY

Rolls Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded a $39,085,141 indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for logistics support, technical engineering support services, and spare engines and associated parts for the U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J, which includes the AE2100D3 turboprop engine and R391 propeller. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Ind. and is expected to be completed in Feb. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-D-0020).

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a not to exceed $26,500,000 modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-04-C-0014) for non-recurring engineering and recurring effort associated with Engineering Change Proposal 6359 in support of Australian F/A-18 aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., (40 percent); El Segundo, Calif., (30 percent); Bethpage, N.Y., (25 percent); and Mesa, Ariz., (5 percent) and is expected to be completed in Aug. 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.

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $24,505,932 cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-07-G-0008) to support the Naval Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron by providing on-site and off-site flight test management, flight test engineering, design engineering, and related efforts to support the conduct of flight and ground testing for the MV-22 tiltrotor aircraft. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md., (70 percent); Philadelphia, Pa., (19 percent); and Fort Worth, Texas, (11 percent) and is expected to be completed in Dec. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz., is being awarded a $15,883,079 indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, firm fixed price, commercial contract to provide Very High Frequency Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) transmitter and receiver radio equipment and VHF/UHF multi-frequency transceiver radio equipment, amplifiers, remote heads, and ancillary accessories to support Air Traffic Control. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $99,008,749. Work will be performed in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2010 (Feb. 2016 with options exercised). Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and one offer received via the Federal Business Opportunities web site, and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce web site. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (N65236-09-D-3532).

Solpac Construction Inc., dba Soltek Pacific Construction, Co., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded $15,868,171 for firm fixed price task order #0007 under a previously award multiple award construction contract (N62473-08-D-8615) for design, construction and repair of Bldg. "A" and Bldg. 730, at the Naval Air Station, Lemoore, Calif. The work to be performed provides for design and construction to Training Building "A" which includes Wings 1 through 6, and Building 730 which includes Wing 7. Work will be performed in Lemoore, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Chesapeake Technology International Corp.*, California, Md., is being awarded a $9,866,703 cost plus fixed fee, indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract for engineering, technical and program services in support of the design, development, integration, testing and Fleet distribution of communications jamming and receiver operational flight program simulations for EA-6B, EA-18G, and other advanced electronic attack derivatives. Work will be performed in California, Md., (50 percent); Cherry Point, N.C., (20 percent); Point Mugu, Calif., (20 percent); Whidbey Island, Wash., (2 percent); China Lake, Calif., (2 percent); Patuxent River, Md., (2 percent); Iwakuni, Japan, (2 percent); and Yuma, Ariz., (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in Feb. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-D-0017).

Raytheon Co., Electronic Warfare Operations, Goleta, Calif., is being awarded a $9,866,703 cost plus fixed fee contract for products and engineering services in support of the AN/ALR-67(V)3 F/A-18 A-F operational flight programs for U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F aircraft and the F/A-18 A-D and E/F aircraft owned by the Governments of Canada, Australia, and Switzerland. The estimated level of effort for this contract is 57,686 man-hours. Work will be performed Goleta, Calif., (80 percent) and Point Mugu, Calif., (10 percent); and China Lake, Calif., (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in Feb. 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $1,152,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy, ($5,426,688; 55 percent) and the governments of Canada, ($1,480,005; 15 percent), Australia, ($1,480,005; 15 percent); and Switzerland, ($1,480,005; 15 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-C-0029).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, LP, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., is being awarded a $5,583,600 firm fixed priced modification to previously awarded delivery order #0007 under previously awarded firm fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract (M67854-07-D-5025) for spare vehicle effector boxes. Work will be performed in York, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Jul. 2009. Contract funds will not expire by the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Woodward Governor Co., Rockton, Ill., is being awarded a maximum $22,374,542 fixed price with economic price adjustment, sole source, requirements type contract for various spare aircraft parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. There was one original proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the third two-year option period. The date of performance completion is Jan. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., (SPM400-03-D-9402).

'Reach Out and Read' Expands Literacy Message on Military Bases

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 27, 2009 - "Reach Out and Read," an early childhood literacy organization, has secured more than $1 million in Defense Department funding to expand its military initiative on military bases across the country. The national, nonprofit program promotes early literacy during routine pediatric care by having volunteers read aloud in waiting rooms. Providers also offer tips to parents about the importance of reading aloud to children.

"Our first military site started in 1999," said Stacie D. Fredriksson, manager of military programs and special initiatives at the Reach Out and Read National Center. "Today, we present a unique opportunity to support and strengthen even more military families with young children."

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, called the program "a proven success."

"It helps doctors and nurses at military treatment facilities encourage parents to read to their children and gives them the tools to get started," Reed said while touring Naval Health Clinic in Rhode Island, a pilot site where he saw the program in action. "I am particularly pleased to see the excitement of the kids on base."

The program was launched at the clinic last fall. It, like all military bases participating in the program, has created a literacy-rich waiting room, complete with child-sized furniture and bookcases where trained volunteers model reading with the children while they wait for appointments.

"I don't think you can say enough about the positive effects," Anthony Amaio, a pediatrician at the clinic, said. "When children and parents share books that deal with deployment, it encourages discussion and provides an opportunity to determine how well the child is dealing with their parent's absence. Reading books together that deal with deployment opens up dialogue, and lets the child know that they're not the only one going through this."

As part of the initiative, pediatricians at 27 U.S. military bases across the country and three outside the United States, send their young patients home with a free book. Currently, children at the military sites receive the book, "While You Were Away," by Eileen Spinelli. The organization plans to provide the book, "Over There," by Dorinda Silver Williams, to all Reach Out and Read sites.

The group's military initiative is funded by the Defense Department and jointly administered with Strategic Resources Inc.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chicago Police, FBI and Midnight Battles

Editor's Note: John Wills is a former servicemember.

On March 20, 2009, Conversations with Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a discussion Special Agent John Wills, FBI (ret.) the author of Chicago Warriors Midnight Battles in the Windy City.

Program Date: March 20, 2009
Program Time: 2100 hours, Pacific
Topic:
Chicago Police, FBI and Midnight Battles
Listen Live:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/LawEnforcement/2009/03/21/Chicago-Police-FBI-and-Midnight-Battles

About the Guest
Special Agent
John Wills, FBI (ret.) spent two years in the U.S. Army before serving 12 years with the Chicago Police Department. He left the Chicago Police Department to become an FBI Special Agent, working organized crime, violent crime, and drugs. He worked for 2 ½ years as an undercover agent in the FBI’s first ever steroid sting. He served in Chicago, Alexandria, VA., Detroit, and Houston. Before retiring from the FBI, he spent 7 years teaching at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia. He has taught Street Survival domestically and internationally, as well as supervised new agent training at the Academy.

Special Agent
John Wills presently works for Advanced Interactive Systems (www.ais-sim.com) as a Field Training Manager, conducting training for police and military using the PRISim Judgment Simulator. John Wills also owns his own business, LivSafe, teaching Situational Awareness Classes. He appears on the NCAA speakers list, presenting lectures to universities on the dangers of steroids and other drugs. Special Agent John Wills is the author of Chicago Warriors Midnight Battles in the Windy City.

According to the book description of Chicago Warriors Midnight Battles in the Windy City, “
Chicago Police Officer Pete Shannon’s life is about to take a dramatic turn. His wife has a dark secret that she’s about to reveal to him; his partner’s life is about to be in jeopardy, and worst of all one of his own colleagues will present him with one of the biggest challenges of his life. Pete’s strength, both physical and spiritual, will be put to the test as he and his partner work the “graveyard shift” on the mean streets of the “Windy City.”

Fellow officer Marilyn Benson doesn't realize it yet, but her life is about to change in ways that she could have never imagined. Forces of good and evil will do battle for her soul and her faith, both of which have lain dormant for many years. It's an issue that she can no longer ignore. St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police officers, is about to engage in his biggest clash since throwing Satan out of Heaven.”

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is
police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in
Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in Law Enforcement, public policy, Law Enforcement Technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in Law Enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/LawEnforcement/2009/03/21/Chicago-Police-FBI-and-Midnight-Battles

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA
editor@police-writers.com
909.599.7530

Defense Secretary Confident With Proposed Budget Share

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

Feb. 26, 2009 - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2010 budget gives the Defense Department nearly $664 billion, an amount Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he's confident will be enough to sustain the department's programs. "I'm confident that this funding level will allow the department to meet its long-term institutional priorities of taking care of the troops and their families, rebalancing our capabilities for conventional and irregular warfare, completing the growth of the Army and Marine Corps and preserving essential modernization programs," Gates told Pentagon reporters at a news conference here today.

The $534 base operating budget for fiscal 2010 represents a 4 percent, or $20 billion, increase from the previous fiscal year, while $130 billion is the Pentagon's "best estimate" fixed for war costs, he said.

Gates added that the $75.5 billion left from the fiscal 2009 war cost is enough for the Pentagon to continue supporting efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan through the year.

The top-line budget figure already is being analyzed to determine next year's spending details, Gates said. The process includes efforts to realize cost efficiencies, reassess all weapons programs, and rebalance investments between current and future capabilities.

Gates didn't address specific programs, but said he recognizes the rising personnel costs, which consume the majority of the department's budget. The percentage of the defense budget that goes to health care is increasing at what he called "almost an alarming rate in terms of the future."

"We will be making tough choices to ensure that this department's budget priorities best position our military to deal with the most pressing threats and security challenges facing America today and tomorrow," he said.

Missile Defense Capable, but Needs More Testing, Pentagon Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2009 - U.S. missile defense is prepared to defend against North Korean threats, but the system needs more testing before the Pentagon can endorse its capabilities with "high confidence," the top Defense Department tester said. In three test scenarios, the missile defense system successfully destroyed threats emanating from North Korea, Dr. Charles E. McQueary, the director of Operational Test and Evaluation, told a congressional panel yesterday.

"What we showed as a consequence of the test was that, indeed, we did intercept and 'kill' a target to demonstrate that the [ground missile defense] did work in that particular [test]," he said. "To me, that was a demonstration that this system has the capability to work."

But McQueary told the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the missile defense program, that additional assessments are needed before he can confirm a high level of statistical confidence in the system.

"There's simply not been enough testing done in order to be able to state it," he said. The test and evaluation office that McQueary directs provides the Defense Department with independent reviews of weapons and equipment.

The hearing comes amid reports suggesting that North Korea may be preparing an advanced version of the Taepodong-2 missile with a striking range extending to the U.S. West Coast and Alaska.

Despite the need for more evaluation, McQueary said, the United States is prepared to respond to a potential threat from the communist regime.

"We've consistently said that we need more modeling and simulation," he said. "[But] if the North Koreans launched an attack against us this afternoon, we wouldn't say we need more test data before we decided whether we were going to launch against and try to intercept that. We'd see how the system works and we'd find out."

The ground-based system is a network of interceptor missiles linked by satellites, radar and communications networks. It has destroyed targets successfully in eight of 13 tests since 1999, according to Defense Department statistics.

Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O'Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told the subcommittee that the agency has launched a comprehensive review of its testing plans and would complete it by May. He noted that missile defense functions as a deterrent to potential adversaries.

"The most compelling way to devalue these missiles is to show that they're ineffective because we keep intercepting them in different ways," he said. "A great strength of a robust test program is to keep intercepting in all the different fashions in which I believe our adversaries are looking at ways to defeat it."

Obama Announces More Key Defense Appointments

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2009 - President Barack Obama continued his efforts to fill key Defense Department posts, announcing plans today to nominate two more people and to have three others continue to serve in their current posts. Obama announced his intent to name Jim Miller as principal deputy undersecretary for policy, and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Wallace "Chip" Gregson Jr. as assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs.

The White House also announced that Michael B. Donley will continue serving as Air Force secretary, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper will remain on board as undersecretary for intelligence, and Michael G. Vickers will remain as assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

"I am confident that these distinguished individuals have the commitment and expertise to help guide the Department of Defense at this critical time for our nation," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

"Under the leadership of Secretary Gates, this group will help us maintain a strong and effective military to accomplish the fundamental goals of keeping America safe, advancing our interests abroad and restoring American leadership in the world," the president said.

Miller works in national security policy, currently as senior vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, and from 2000 to 2007 as senior vice president at Hicks and Associates, Inc. He was the Defense Department's deputy assistant secretary for requirements, plans and counter-proliferation policy from 1997 to 2000.

A former assistant professor at Duke University and senior staff member for the House Armed Services Committee, Miller is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Combating WMD Panel of the Defense Department's Threat Reduction Advisory Committee.

Gregson has been a foreign policy and military affairs consultant for WCG & Associates International since 2006. He previously served as chief operating officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Gregson retired from the Marine Corps in 2005 after 37 years of service. He was commander of Marine Corps Forces Pacific and Marine Corps Forces Central Command, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Bases Japan, and 3rd Marine Division in Japan.

Before his assignments in Japan, Gregson was director of Asia-Pacific policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1998 to 2000. He has served in the Marine Corps since his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College.

Donley has served as Air Force secretary since Oct. 17, 2008.

Clapper was confirmed by the Senate as undersecretary for intelligence April 11, 2007.

Vickers was confirmed as assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities July 23, 2007.

MILITARY CONTRACTS February 26, 2009

NAVY

Wyle Laboratories, Lexington Park, Md., is being awarded a $34,371,379 cost plus fixed fee contract to provide program management support services for all domestic and international Integrated Product Teams within the F/A-18 and EA-18G program office. This work will support related Foreign Military Sales efforts, to include those of the nations of Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Finland, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. Work will be performed in Lexington Park, Md., and is expected to be completed in Dec. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00421-09-C-0041).

John C. Grimberg Co., Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $34,273,000 firm fixed price contract for the design and construction of an Explosive Development Facility at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head, Md. The work to be performed constructs facilities and renovates two buildings. The facilities will provide the following explosives capabilities and supporting functions: melt casting, pressing, machining, a change house, and storage. The renovated facilities will also provide office, work, and laboratory space. Work will be performed in Indian Head, Md., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with two proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N40080-09-C-0156).

Olin/Winchester (Cage 1MR34), East Alton, Ill., is being awarded a $30,000,000 firm fixed, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for the acquisition of 9mm frangible ammunition to be used as training ammunition to support the Navy Special Warfare Ammunition Program. Work will be performed in East Alton, Ill., and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year 2009. This contract was competitively procured. This contract was competitively procured with multipleproposals solicited and three offers received via the Federal Business Opportunities. The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-09-D-JN29).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., is being awarded a $16,456,956 firm fixed price modification against a previously issued delivery order under a Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-08-G-0010) for the procurement of MH-60S Armed Helicopter Mission Kits, which consist of the Integrated Self Defense (ISD) Mission Kit, (33); Weapons Kit, (30); and the B-Kit installation hardware. Work will be performed in Tallassee, Ala., (76.1 percent); Coxsackie, N.Y., (17.6 percent); Wichita, Kan., (4.3 percent); Valencia, Calif., (1 percent); and at various locations across the United States (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in Apr. 2012. 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.

Accord MACTEC JV*, comprised of According Engineering and MACTEC Engineering and Consulting Inc., Santa Ana, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $15,000,000 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity architect/engineering contract for storm water, incidental potable water, ground water, and waste water environmental compliance. The intent of this contract is to provide comprehensive services to various Navy and Marine Corps and other federal government facilities within the contract geographic area to meet statutory compliance requirements for all applicable DOD, Federal, State, local, and installation specific environment laws, regulations, and guidance pertaining to storm water and incidental potable water, groundwater, wastewater, and compliance with similar requirements as required to support other related RCRA, CERCLA, and Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC). Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps installations in Calif., (80 percent), Ariz., (10 percent), Nevada, (2 percent), N.M. (2 percent), Colo., (2 percent), Utah, (2 percent) and other federal and DOD installations (2 percent) nationwide, and work is expected to be completed Feb. 2014. This contract was competitively procured as a small business set-aside via the Federal Business Opportunities and Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with four offers received in response to the synopsis and four firms were slated for interview. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62473-09-D-2613).

Forrester Construction Co., Rockville, Md., is being awarded $13,748,000 for firm fixed price task order #0010 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62477-04-D-0035) for renovation to Hubbard Hall RM 9-94, and restore and modernize Building 260 at the United States Naval Academy. The work to be performed is to completely renovate Hubbard Hall, Work will be performed in Annapolis, Md., and is expected to be completed by Jul. 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Wash., D.C., is the contracting activity. home of the three USNA rowing crews. This project includes repair of deteriorated foundation pilings, construction of a temporary tension fabric boat storage "shed", and repair and expansion of the existing wharf and floating docs. The scope of work includes hazardous material abatement, interior reorganization, repairs to the existing building and wharf structure, repairs to the building enclosure, expansion of the existing wharf and complete replacement of all heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems.

Three Phoenix Inc.*, Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $13,450,671 cost plus fixed fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-6274) for a Technology Insertion Photonics Mast Engineering Development Model (EDM). The Engineering Development Model is in support of Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Topic No. 04-138 "Real Time Data Fusion and Visualization Interface for Environmental Research Data". This contract modification is to complete the engineering assessment and design and development of a non-developmental item Submarine Optronics System. Three Phoenix will procure a Technology Insertion Photonics Mast System, test and integrate this system onboard a U.S. Navy Virginia Class submarine as an EDM for evaluation purposes. Work will be performed in Wake Forest, N.C., (60 percent), Fairfax, Va., (30 percent), and Hanover, Md., (10 percent) and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2010. Contract funds for FY08 in the amount of $4,498,002 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Contract funds for FY09 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.

Melwood Horticultural Training Center Inc., Upper Marlboro, Md., is being awarded an $8,565,880 modification under a previously awarded firm fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract (N40080-07-D-0381) to exercise Option two for janitorial and recycling services in the Washington, D.C., area. The work to be performed provides for all managerial, supervision, labor, tools, materials, and equipment necessary to provide janitorial and recycling services. The current total contract amount after exercise of this option is $22,585,842. Work is expected to be completed Feb. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Rockwell Collins Government Systems, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is being awarded a $7,024,770 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract (N00019-05-C-0050) to exercise an option for the FY 2009 production of the AN/ARC-210(V) Electronic Protection Radio Systems for the U.S. Air Force F-16 Block 30 aircraft. This modification provides for 90 MT-6567/ARC mounting bases; 90 ARC 210-C-12719 radio set controls; 90 RT-1851A(C)/ARC receiver-transmitters; and 90 ARC 210 RF filter diplexers. Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is expected to be completed in Sept. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of San Diego, Calif., for $168,372,886. This action will provide all program management, urgent repairs and services, logistics support, configuration management, technical manual and software maintenance, engineering technical services, contractor inventory control point and spares management, depot repair, flight operations support, reliability/maintenance enhancements, data collection/entry and numbered periodic depot maintenance for the Predator/Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System program. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 703d ASG, Wright-Patterson, Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8620-05-G-3028).

The Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price contract with Rockwell Collins, Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for an estimated $73,808,391. This action will provide an additional 46 kits and Installs to support the KC-135 Global Air Traffic Management Program. At this time, no money has been obligated. OC-ALC/827 ACSG/PK, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, is the contracting activity (F33657-98-C-0036, P00106).

The Air Force is awarding a cost plus fixed fee contract to Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, for an estimated $32,357,157. This action is to conduct assessments, evaluations, and studies of the material system and make recommendations to ensure the most efficient and rapid modernization of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear equipment and execute the engineering, sustainment, and training recommendations. At this time, $95,846 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is the contracting activity (SP0700-00-D-3180).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Textron Systems Corp., of Wilmington, Massachusetts, for $9,527,490. This action will provide 30 additional Sensor Fuzed Weapons, Full Rate Production Lot 12. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 683rd ARSS/SYKA, Eglin Air Force Base is the contracting activity (FA8677-07-C-0001).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Castrol Marine Americas, Houston, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $7,759,660 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for lubricating oils. Other locations of performance include Louisiana, N.J., Calif., and Pa. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. There were 135 proposal originally solicited with five responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0754).

Pepco Energy Services, Inc., Arlington, Va., is being awarded a maximum $16,571,222 firm fixed price contract for electrical services. Other location of performance is Ill. Using services are Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 100 proposals solicited with 5 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. (SP0600-09-D-8012).

ARMY

General Dynamics C4 Systems Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz., was awarded on Feb. 25, 2009, a $70,828,176 indefinite delivery indefinite quantity with firm fixed price contract in which the award basic contract and first delivery order (DO) are for the procurement of thirty-seven (37) Prophet Enhanced (PE) B-Kits, and nineteen (19) PE A-Kits, and associated spares. DO also provide for PE Quality Management, Non-Recurring Engineering and First Article Testing and Refurbishment. Overall estimated "face" value is based upon aggregate value of Dos issued over six (6) year life of the contract. Prophet is the Army's principal ground-based tactical Communications Intelligence 9COMINT)/Electronic Warfare (EW) sensor, providing force protection and technically advanced intelligence. Work will be performed at Melbourne, Fla. (66 percent), Scottsdale, Ariz., (14 percent), San Diego, Calif., (12 percent), Huntsville, Ala., (.5 percent), and Fairfax, Va., (.5 percent), with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2015. Bids were solicited on the Worldwide Web with three bids received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-09-D-W401).

WATTERSON CONSTRUCTION CO, Anchorage, Ala., was awarded on Feb. 24, 2009, a $21,330,000 firm fixed price construction contract for a project that includes construction of barracks facility at Fort Wainwright, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 28, 2010. Bids were solicited on the Worldwide Web with six bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ala. is the contracting activity (W911KB-09-C-0005).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tight-knit Trident Submariners Conduct Strategic Deterrence Missions

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2009 - Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean last week, sailors aboard the Trident strategic missile submarine USS Maryland prepared to start a series of underwater practice maneuvers known as "angles and dangles." The Maryland's captain, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey M. Grimes, and his chief of the boat and senior enlisted leader, Master Chief Petty Officer Michael C. McLauchlan, intently observed the actions of the officers and enlisted crew in the control room as the vessel silently tilted downward.

Trident strategic deterrent submarines -- nicknamed "Boomers" -- carry as many as 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles.

"We're there on the front line, ready to go," Grimes said. Important missions, he said, are "happening every day in the deep, blue ocean."

Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, they are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory.

Meanwhile, in the control room, Petty Officer 3rd Class Lamar Johnson, 23, sits calmly at the helmsman's station as he adroitly manipulates the yoke control that adjusts the submarine's depth and direction. At about 400 feet under the waves, the Maryland leveled off, then began ascending.

After the exercise, Johnson, who hails from Chicago, said piloting the Maryland underwater is a matter of "paying attention, making sure you're tracking the gauges."

Sailors volunteer for submarine duty and are among the top performers across the Navy, McLauchlan, a 26-year veteran, said.

"There is a pretty rigid screening process to get a guy to come into the submarine force," McLauchlan said. New submariners are subject to stringent qualification criteria when they report to their first boat, he said, while submarine veterans experience continued certifications during their careers.

During their first year while assigned to their first submarine, enlisted members are required to earn the coveted silver "dolphins" pin that says they've learned how to function as a team member aboard their boat. Dolphins-pin recipients also must demonstrate knowledge of basic submarine operations, as well as the ability to work as a team member to put out fires and control flooding.

"They kill themselves to try to get those dolphins, because it's very important to them," McLauchlan said of enlisted sailors aboard their first submarine. "And we make it very special when we present them. Once they get those dolphins, it's just the start for more and more for these kids."

Commissioned-officer submariners also must qualify to wear golden dolphins.

About a week earlier, the Maryland's "Gold" crew under Grimes' command embarked on its 53rd patrol from its home port at Naval Submarine Base King's Bay, Ga. Trident submarines have two crews, called Blue and Gold, which rotate patrols. One crew is at sea for 60 to 90 days, while the other trains ashore. In this way, the vessels can be employed at sea 70 percent of the time, when not undergoing scheduled maintenance in port.

The USS Maryland is "a platform that is undetectable, that cannot be found, and yet, is in constant connection with the national command authorities," Grimes explained. The submarine, he added, possesses "the stealth and power needed to respond to a global crisis with devastating force."

The Maryland's crew routinely performs damage control exercises –- consisting of flooding and fire scenarios -- as well as mock battle and strategic-deterrence drills during its patrols, so that if the real event should ever occur, "we're ready to go," Grimes said.

As the Maryland's commander, it's important to impart to the crew "how they fit together on the ship as a team," Grimes said.

"They realize the mission is relevant and they feel the importance of their job," Grimes said. "They leave their families at home. They work long hours for me when we have the boat in for refit.

"It's all about the mission," Grimes said, adding that Trident submarine sailors stay in the Navy "because they like what they do, and they are true patriots."

The Navy's attack and strategic-deterrent submarine force "is safe, secure and reliable and ready to perform its mission, 24/7," said Navy Capt. Kevin R. Brenton, who was along for part of the Maryland's patrol and is preparing to take command of Submarine Squadron 20 at King's Bay.

"We couldn't do it without the extraordinary young men that man these submarines," Brenton said. "They're America's best and brightest."

Besides its 160-member crew, the Maryland also was carrying a group of journalists, who early on Feb. 15 had been conveyed by tugboat to the Maryland for a two-day orientation tour. During the journalists' visit, the submarine would be submerged for 24 hours.

A nuclear-powered Trident submarine like the Maryland produces its own drinking water and oxygen, and, therefore can remain submerged nearly indefinitely, Grimes said, needing to surface only to take on food.

The Maryland's lead culinary specialist, Chief Petty Officer Tony L. Thompson, 40, said he and his staff prepare food for about 120 crew members during the course of the day. Submariners, he said, enjoy the best food in the Navy.

"We do all we can to make them comfortable down here," Thompson said of his team's efforts to provide the best meals possible for the Maryland's crew.

Thompson, a 20-year Navy veteran, said he enjoys the "close-knitted" camaraderie that's part of duty aboard submarines such as the Maryland.

"I could walk around and talk to anybody around here," said Thompson, as he enjoyed a plate of prime rib. "Everything is 'one' crew ... because you've got to depend on everybody.

"I'm a cook," Thompson said, "but at the same time, I can go and put out a fire."

Near the end of the journalists' visit, the submarine surfaced to make its rendezvous with the tugboat that would return them to shore.

A cloudless, bright-blue sky stretched across the horizon as Lt. j.g. Eric S. Spurling, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle G. Fulmer and Seaman DeAngelo Jackson Adams pulled watch duty on the bridge atop the Maryland's sail panel, or uppermost structure. The day's temperature was unseasonably mild.

Submariners belong to "a real tight community" of sailors who perform a vital, unique mission, said Fulmer, 23, from Dillon, S.C.

"You have to be able to trust everybody with your life. ... Any time, anything could go wrong, and if you're beside it, you have to be ready to act on it," Fulmer said.

Adams, a 21-year-old sailor from Detroit, cracked a sliver of a smile at his machine-gun station as the breeze batted at his orange windbreaker.

Adams said he loves the sailor's life aboard the Maryland.

"The mission of being out to sea, under water, is just cool, you know?" he said.

President Says Budget Signifies New Way Forward for Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - Americans are not quitters, and the country can overcome the difficulties facing it, President Barack Obama said tonight in his first speech before a joint session of Congress. In a speech mainly dedicated to the economic crisis facing the world, the president also honored the nation's men and women in uniform, vowing to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps, raise military pay and provide the medical care veterans deserve.

While not formally a State of the Union Address, the speech had all the trappings. Servicemembers and veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were among the guests sitting with first lady Michelle Obama.

The troops received a standing ovation from both houses of Congress when the president said Americans are united in sending them one message: "We honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice and you have our unyielding support."

Obama vowed that the budget he will send to Congress in the next few days would include the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. "For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price," he said.

"We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war," Obama said.

He also noted some of the choices that must be made in that budget. "We'll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use," he said.

Obama mentioned the strategic reviews of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he will soon announce the results of the review of the Iraq conflict and will soon announce a way forward "that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war."

The president also said that his administration will consult with friends and allies to "forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al-Qaida and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away."

The budget will also contain money to reduce the strain on the military – particularly the Army and Marine Corps. The budget calls for more soldiers and Marines. "And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned," he said.

American values are the country's best weapons, Obama said. "There is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America," he said. "That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists.

"Because living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger," he explained. "And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture. We can make that commitment here tonight."

America will reach out to allies and friends in the weeks and months ahead, Obama said.

"We know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America," he said. "We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand."

Obama promised progress in securing a peace between Israel and its neighbors and he promised to be vigilant against the new threats of this new century. He said the country must be prepared to take on terrorism and guard against pandemic disease and cyber threats. The United States must also address the crushing poverty that is often the root cause of extremism.

"To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power. We will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones and use all elements of our national power," he said.

The budget he will submit is more than simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. "I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future," he said.

Defense Stimulus Money to Flow to Projects, Homeowner Assistance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2009 - Projects resulting from the $7.4 billion Defense Department portion of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package will start to be visible soon, defense officials said today. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Obama signed Feb. 17, provides $787 billion to stimulate the economy and help the nation and world recover from the global economic crisis.

"The recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track," Obama said during his speech to a joint session of Congress last night.

While most of the money will go to civilian agencies, the $7.4 billion Defense Department portion is aimed at projects that could be accelerated or started at once. The department can obligate stimulus funds for military construction projects through the end of fiscal 2013, and the rest through the end of fiscal 2010.

A focal point of the bill is $555 million for a temporary expansion of the Homeowner's Assistance Program benefits for private home sale losses of both military and civilian Defense Department personnel. The program reimburses those who lose money on a home sale due to a forced relocation.

Under the legislation, $4.2 billion is available in operations and maintenance accounts to upgrade military facilities, including energy-related improvements, officials said.

The act calls for $1.3 billion in military construction for hospitals, and $240 million for child development centers.

The legislation also provides $100 million in military construction for warrior transition complexes, and about $600 million for military housing projects for the troops and their families.

The department will receive $300 million to develop energy-efficient technologies and $120 million for the Energy Conservation Investment Program. Another $15 million is marked for inspector general oversight and audit of Recovery Act spending.

Pentagon officials are working with service leaders to finalize details. The legislation calls on federal agencies to report on their use of the stimulus funds on March 3. Defense Department and service officials are working to determine which bases will receive construction projects.

MILITARY CONTRACTS February 25, 2009

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Castrol Marine Americas, Houston, Texas is being awarded a maximum $7,759,660 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for lubricating oils. Other locations of performance include La., N.J., Calif., and Pa. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. There were 135 proposal originally solicited with five responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0754).

McKesson Corp., San Francisco, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $902,400,000 firm fixed price, national prime vendor contract for pharmaceutical supplies. Other location of performance is Arizona. Using service is Department of Defense. The original proposal was FedBizOps solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the sixth option year period. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM200-03-D-1666).

AmeriQual Group, LLC, Evansville, Ind.*, is being awarded a maximum $11,392,284 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for various polymeric traypack ration items. Other location of performance is Indiana. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. There were originally two proposals solicited with two responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the second option year period. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM3S1-07-D-Z193).

Bangor International Airport, Bangor, Maine is being awarded a maximum $13,204,428 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for jet fuel. Other location of performance is Bangor International Airport, Maine. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Mar. 31, 2013. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0053).

AvFlight Harrisonburg Corp., Middletown, Pa.*, is being awarded a maximum $5,858,213 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for jet fuel. Other location of performance is Pa. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Mar. 31, 2013. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0078).

NAVY

The Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Strategic Missiles Programs, Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $64,590,745 modification (P00025) under previously awarded contract (N00030-07-C-0100) for the Low Cost Test Missile Kit Production. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, Calif., (55.98 percent); Lancaster, Pa., (19.19 percent); Cape Canaveral, Fla., (6.77 percent); St. Mary's, Ga., (5.87 percent); Camarillo, Calif., (3.08 percent) ; Hollister, Calif., (2.92 percent); Joplin, Mo., (1.72 percent); San Diego, Calif., (1.06 percent); Simi Valley, Calif., (0.66 percent); Fairfax, Va., (0.38 percent); Depew, N.Y., (0.30 percent); Los Angeles, Calif., (0.29 percent); Bristol, Pa., (0.29 percent); Walpole, Mass., (0.25 percent); Santa Ana, Calif., (0.21 percent); Other (1.03 percent), and work is expected to be completed Mar. 31, 2012. This contract was not competitively procured. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Technical Services Co., LLC, Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded an $11,367,693 delivery order against a previously issued basic order agreement (N00019-05-G-0008) for 180 shipsets of AN/ALE-47 Dual Pods for the AH-1W. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Ind., and is expected to be completed in Sept. 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.

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz., is being awarded a $7,866,032 modification (P00154) to previously awarded contract (M67854-02-C-2052) to procure four Capability Set (CapSet) III, Combat Operations Centers Systems including four Common Modules and four CapSet III units. This modification is also to procure 8 DPAK (Duct Plenum Adapter Kit) Kits for the CapSet III systems and 90 DPAK Kits for the CapSet II systems that were previously negotiated under P00146. Work will be performed in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

ARMY

Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded on Feb. 23, 2009, a $30,524,017 firm fixed price with time and materials CLINS contract to exercise Lot II option for a quantity of 3 Reconfigurable Vehicle Simulators (RVS) and 7 Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainers (RVTT's) and associated weapons training. Work is to be performed at Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2010. A sole source bid was solicited with one bid received. Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting agency (W900KK-07-D-0707).

FLIR Services, Inc., Wilsonville, Ore., was awarded on Feb. 23, 2009, a $6,429,954 firm fixed price General Services Administration (GSA) order for 13 each FLIR Star Safire II Systems; five each Imaging Systems Support Kits; three each Operator Training; and three each Maintenance Training. Work is to be performed at Wilsonville, Ore., with an estimated completion date of Jun. 30, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-09-F-0006).

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, Calif., for an amount not to exceed $8,000,000. This change order modification of the Wideband Global SATCOM Block I contract to purchase Thermal Cycling Testing on the solar panel arrays of WGS Satellites two and three. At this time, $6,000,000 has been obligated. HQ SMC/MCSW/PK, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04701-00-C-0011/P00172).

Guardsmen Earn Medals at World Bobsled Event

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2009 - Two Utah Army National Guard members won second- and third-place medals in the world championship bobsled competition at the Olympic Sports Complex here. Army Spc. Shauna Rohbock and her teammate, Elana Meyers, won silver medals Feb. 21 in the women's bobsled event.

"It's really hard to have four consistent heats," Rohbock said. "This track changes a lot, so you have to constantly change your driving. My goal was to be on the podium here, so I'm happy. This is my home track, and I wanted to be on the podium more than anything."

Team Rohbock was in the lead entering the final two heats, and nabbed the silver medal with a four-run combined time of 3 minutes, 48.60 seconds. Rohbock navigated her Bo-Dyn sled down the 20 curves of the winding course in 57.12 and 57.43 seconds for the third and fourth runs.

Meyers and Valerie Fleming have alternated as push athletes in Rohbock's sled throughout the season. Rohbock, a former professional soccer player, most recently won gold with Meyers on the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, British Columbia. Rohbock and Fleming claimed the Olympic silver medal in 2006.

In the men's competition, former Utah Guardsman Steven Holcomb teamed with Curt Tomasevicz to claim the bronze in the two-man bobsled world championships.

"I just won my first world championship medal," Holcomb said. "I'm really excited, but of course I wish it was gold."

Holcomb entered the day's final two heats in fourth position, but immediately moved into medal position in his first heat with a run of 55.41 seconds. Holcomb and Tomasevicz dug their sled out of the start with a push time of 5.16 seconds in the final heat.

Holcomb was four hundredths of a second out of the medals exiting corner 14, but made up a tenth of a second before crossing the finish line in 55.79 seconds for his first world championship medal.

Vermont National Guard Pfc. John Napier teamed with T.J. Burns to finish 17th with a combined time of 3:45.17 after sliding runs of 56.25 and 56.37 seconds. Napier had been battling the flu throughout the week, but managed to muster push times of 5.37 and 5.33 with Burns. Napier and teammate Cory Butner won the two-man title for the national bobsled championships here Jan. 4.

"My legs aren't under me yet," Napier said of his Feb. 22 showing. "T.J. did as much as he could to help me, but I had nothing left."

The U.S. men and women combined forces to claim bronze in the world championship team event Feb. 22 here to conclude the first weekend of competitions.

The United States has won three medals in three events so far, including silver and two bronze.

(From a news release by Amanda Bird of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.)

Gates Calls for Forthright, Collegial Budget Discussions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has called for forthright, collegial discussions among Defense Department leaders to make tough choices about programs, projects and procurement as the defense portion of the fiscal 2010 federal budget takes shape. Gates asked those participating in the discussions to sign a nondisclosure agreement because leaks may discourage the free exchange of ideas, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.

"This is highly sensitive stuff, involving programs costing tens of billions of dollars, employing hundreds of thousands of people and go to the heart of our national security," Morrell said. "He wants this process to be as disciplined and as forthright as possible."

Gates wants the budget to be judged as a whole, rather than in parts via selective leaks, Morrell said. The secretary thinks the agreement "will create a climate in which you can ultimately produce a better product, as people can speak candidly with the confidence that it will not be leaked," he added.

The secretary wants the budget to be judged in its totality "because that's where you will see the strategic balance he is trying to build," Morrell said.

In testimony before Congress in January, Gates talked about making the hard choices on procurement. Projects that are significantly behind schedule or over budget are more likely to face the budget ax, he said.

Gates called for discipline in the acquisition process and said the department must freeze requirements at contract time.

Big-ticket items are going to go through a very thorough review as part of the fiscal 2010 budget process, Morrell said.

The White House's Office of Management and Budget is expected to announce top-line budget figures tomorrow, along with a fiscal 2010 war supplement.

Obama wants to stop the supplemental process and transfer the costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the base budget, but will not be able to do so this year, Morrell said.

"It's extremely difficult for us to predict what our level of commitment is going to be in either theater, let alone theaters that we haven't potentially thought of, God forbid, a year, two years, let alone 10 years from now," he said. "So we are trying to be as helpful as possible to this process, but some of this stuff is not known at this point."

More Troops, Families Likely to Qualify for New GI Bill Benefits

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - Troops nearing retirement eligibility may be able to tap into the transferability benefits provided in the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, even if they're unable to serve four more years of duty due to service policies, a senior defense official said. The Post-9/11 Veterans Education Bill that takes effect in August and will offer more benefits and the ability to transfer benefits to a spouse or child has proven to be a hit with the troops, Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

Of servicemembers surveyed in August, 97 percent said they plan to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, particularly its transferability provision, Carr said.

"Enormous interest has been expressed in the transferability provision and how it would work, because so many in the force have families," Carr said. He noted that half of the military force is married. By the time troops have served six years of duty, about two-thirds have families.

To qualify for transferability under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, servicemembers must have served six years on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and must commit to another four years. But Carr said the rules could be tweaked soon to allow mid- or late-career troops to qualify, even if they can't sign on for another four years of duty due to service restrictions.

Rules expected to be published in the months ahead will clarify exactly who is or isn't eligible to transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Carr said he expects those rules to be "very flexible" to allow servicemembers with 15 or even 20 years of service to quality. What's definite now is that only those in the active or reserve components on Aug. 1 will be eligible for transferability under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

"The law doesn't allow it to be retroactive" to cover those who already have left the military, Carr said.

The new bill represents the most comprehensive education package since the original World War II-era GI Bill, he said. Unlike the current GI Bill, it covers 100 percent – rather than 80 percent – of the cost of tuition, fees and books. Servicemembers no longer will have to pay $1,200 out of pocket, at the rate of $100 a month for their first year of service, to qualify.

In addition, most troops will receive a "living stipend" while drawing GI Bill benefits. That benefit will equate to the basic allowance for housing that an E-5 with dependents serving on active duty receives, Carr said. And for the first time, servicemembers will be able to transfer any benefits they don't use themselves to their immediate family members.

Of those surveyed in August, 73 percent said they would transfer benefits to their spouse, while 94 percent said they would transfer them to their children.

This is a particularly attractive option for servicemembers who have earned degrees before entering the military or while on duty through the military's tuition assistance programs, Carr said. These programs will continue when the Post-9/11 GI Bill takes effect.

Troops automatically are eligible to transfer to the Post-9/11 GI Bill program when it takes effect, but must elect to do so, officials said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which administers the program, has more details about the basic program on its Web site. The Defense Department will oversee the transferability program and set up a Web-based application servicemembers can use to request transfer of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, Carr said.

Carr expressed hope that servicemembers will take advantage of the new benefits.

"The new GI Bill provides some wonderful opportunities for the military," he said. "These are benefits that we had hoped for for a number of years, and finally have received."

Obama Nominates Defense Acquisition Undersecretary

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he will nominate Ashton Carter to be the next undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Carter is the chairman of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He served as assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy from 1993 to 1996.

If confirmed to the post held by John Young since 2007, Carter would oversee a sweeping defense acquisition reform effort.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has called overhauling the way the department buys goods and services and manages taxpayer dollars one of the biggest challenges it faces.

"A risk-averse culture, a litigious process, parochial interests, excessive and changing requirements, budget churn and instability and sometimes adversarial relationships" within the department and other parts of government have made acquisition reform a priority, Gates said last month during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

If confirmed as undersecretary, Carter would be the point man in the difficult procurement decisions Gates told the senators would begin with Obama's fiscal 2010 defense budget request.

"One thing we have known for many months is that the spigot of defense spending that opened on 9/11 is closing," Gates said at the hearing. "Two major campaigns ongoing, the economic crisis and resulting budget pressures will force hard choices on this department."

Carter, who has a doctorate in physics, directed military planning during the 1994 crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, according to a statement released by the White House. He was instrumental in removing all nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and he directed the establishment of defense and intelligence relationships with former Soviet nations at the end of the Cold War.

He also participated in negotiations that led to the deployment of Russian troops as part of the Bosnia Peace Plan Implementation Force.

Carter managed the Cooperative Threat Reduction program aimed at eliminating nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of the former Soviet Union, and he directed the Nuclear Posture Review and oversaw the Defense Department's Counterproliferation Initiative. He also directed the reform of the department's national security export controls.

In 1997, Carter co-chaired the Catastrophic Terrorism Study Group with former CIA Director John M. Deutch, urging greater attention to the terrorist threat. From 1998 to 2000, he was deputy to former Defense Secretary William J. Perry in the North Korea Policy Review, and traveled with Perry to Pyongyang. From 2001 to 2002, he served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism and advised on the creation of the Homeland Security Department.

Carter is a two-time recipient of the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the department's highest award. In addition to his current position at the Kennedy School, Carter is co-director of the Preventive Defense Project, serving along with Perry. The project is a research collaboration between Harvard and Stanford universities.

Campaign Coincides with 'Taking Chance' Film Premiere

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - Coinciding with the HBO Film premiere of "Taking Chance," based on a Marine's tribute to a fallen comrade, more than 100 servicemembers joined the Run4Chance team at the 28th Annual Los Alamitos 5K "Race on the Base" in California to honor the fallen hero.

"Taking Chance," starring Kevin Bacon, premiered Feb. 21 on HBO and is based on the special care given to fallen Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps during his final journey home to Dubois, Wyo. He was accompanied by Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, who volunteered to escort Phelps' body from Dover Air Force Base and later wrote of his experience. Phelps was killed in Iraq in 2004 at the age of 19.

Shortly after Phelps death, his family and friends formed the Run4Chance team. In 2004, the team ran the Marine Corps Marathon here as a tribute to Phelps and to raise funds for the Chance Phelps Foundation, a nonprofit organization that benefits U.S. troops, especially those who have deployed to Iraq.

With the backing of HBO, the foundation and its Run4Chance team encourage distance runners and military groups to run under the team name in marathons across the country, with entry fees waived for servicemembers. At the Los Alamitos event, HBO presented the Chance Phelps Foundation with a $10,000 donation on behalf of servicemembers who participated in the race.

The initiative also aims to raise awareness for the Fisher House Foundation and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

"By shining a national spotlight on Run4Chance, we hope to honor the memory of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps and pay tribute to all fallen Marines and soldiers," Zach Enterlin, vice president of advertising and promotions at HBO, said. "By raising awareness of the foundation's great work, more servicemembers and their families will benefit from the financial and medical support it provides."

HBO will sponsor several Run4Chance teams in races around the country this year. The initial schedule of races includes the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, San Diego, May 31; New York City Half-Marathon, Aug. 30; Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon, Virginia Beach, Va., Sept. 6; Marine Corps Marathon, Arlington, Va., Oct. 25; and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon, San Antonio, Nov. 15.

Servicemembers More Realistic About Retirement than Civilians, Survey Shows

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - Servicemembers are more practical about their retirement needs than their civilian counterparts, according to a survey conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, Investor Education Foundation, in cooperation with the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The findings bode well for servicemembers' readiness to transition out of work and into retirement, FINRA's foundation president says.

"Unless you are aware of the amount of money you're going to need in retirement, it's going to be hard to start saving the amount you need," John Gannon, president of the FINRA Foundation, said. "The good thing is the military is much further along in understanding their savings needs than the general public."

While 26 percent of civilian workers think they can retire on less than $250,000, only 10 percent of servicemembers believe that to be true. On the other hand, nearly a third of servicemembers think they'll need more than $1 million, which is a lot closer to the truth, Gannon said.

For most people, $1 million probably will be enough, given that most people will spend 20 to 30 years in retirement, he added.

Servicemembers may be in better stead thanks to the military's efforts to provide financial education. While there's always more that can be done, the services understand the importance of financial readiness, especially in conjunction with military readiness, Gannon said.

"You really don't want somebody being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan who's worried about back home not being able to pay bills, having credit problems and having their spouse get calls from collection agencies," he said. "That can all cause problems."

In fact, personal finance issues can jeopardize a security clearance.

Though servicemembers, generally, are ahead of civilians when it comes to having a realistic investment plan, they're not doing all they can to make that plan happen, Gannon said.

Only one in five servicemembers are aware of the government's Thrift Savings Plan and fewer than half of those participate in the TSP. More than 87 percent of federal civilian employees participate in the TSP.

"I think it's very important that they understand that the Thrift Savings Plan exists because, for many servicemembers who don't stay in the military for 20 years and get access to the pension, it's really their only retirement savings vehicle in the military," Gannon said. "It's one of the best-designed, employer-sponsored contribution plans that exists in the United States, as far as I'm concerned.

"It's extremely low cost, has great investment options and appears to be a very well-run program."

A section of the FINRA Web site is dedicated to helping military members develop a retirement savings plan. It offers tools such as a retirement calculator and a link to the American Saving and Education Council's "Ballpark Estimate," which allows users to estimate how much they'll need for retirement.

"They're really straightforward simple things to really put themselves in a position to understand their retirement savings needs," Gannon said.

In addition, nearly every military base around the world has a personal financial manager to provide financial counseling to servicemembers and their families.

Another thing most servicemembers have going for them is youth, Gannon said.

"That's the great thing about the military" that 65 percent of servicemembers are under 30, Gannon said. "Time is on their side."

Though saving for retirement is important at any age, the earlier one can start, the better. If retirement is ominously looming, it's still not too late, Gannon said.

"Once you hit 50, you can contribute an extra $5,000 to the TSP," he said. "It's set up so that for people who start late, they can contribute more and catch up."

Combat Vet Gives Voice to Military Musicians

By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - Music is considered by many to be a universal language, and for some military veterans, it is the only language that allows them to describe their experiences in combat and their struggles afterward. Military musicians normally would struggle to have their voices heard in the cutthroat music industry, but a fellow veteran has given them a chance to get their music released and in the hands of fans worldwide.

Army Capt. Sean Gilfillan, a reservist who served four years on active duty and a tour in Iraq, started To the Fallen Records in 2006. The record label, which takes its name from a tattoo Gilfillan bears to commemorate fellow servicemembers who died in combat, signs only musicians who are military members or veterans.

Gilfillan said he was inspired to start To the Fallen by the many musicians he met during his time on active duty, and the powerful message their songs had. After he left active duty, he met his wife, and seeing how interested she was in the music made him realize it might appeal to a larger audience, he said.

"It's so emotional," he said. "It's so personal, and we don't see this stuff on TV or on the radio. Unfortunately, we only hear about the attacks and how many people are killed and when bad things happen."

The couple started the record label to bring music from servicemembers to the civilian world and to bridge the gap of understanding about military life and combat.

"If civilians hear military music, they might understand. They're never going to be in those shoes, but they can at least empathize and understand what three tours really does to someone, to someone's family," Gilfillan said. "Not only that, but war ... what happens during war, during patrols, and what it takes to actually psyche yourself up to go out to war, and the struggles when you come home with [post-traumatic stress disorder], with relationships, and how every normal everyday struggle is made more difficult by you being away for so long."

Since its inception, the record label has grown into a platform to showcase all military musicians, even those not talking about combat. But the bottom line, Gilfillan said, has always been quality music.

"If the music isn't good, if the quality isn't there, then we won't feature you," he said. "It has to be radio quality."

In its first year, the record label saw almost instant success, being featured in Rolling Stone magazine and the New York Times and releasing its first three CDs, which were compilations of hip hop, country and rock music. Today, the label has a database of about 2,000 artists and 200 producers it works with, Gilfillan said. It also maintains a database of recording studios that offer discounts to military members.

Establishing a credible record label is very important to Gilfillan, he said, because he wants to give the military musicians a chance to establish a fan base, which is key to any musician's success. He said he follows the military's philosophy that no one person is more important than the organization.

"To the Fallen will always exist," he said. "The artists might change, I might change, but the label will always exist. So, hopefully the name builds enough prestige where any artist being linked to the name will get a leg up."

To the Fallen sells its music online at its Web site and that of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and physically, at Green Beans Coffee, which has stores in Iraq and Afghanistan. The label is working on several new projects, including a reality TV show based on military musicians.

Another new project Gilfillan and his wife are working on is in creating a nonprofit group that will use musical therapy to help rehabilitate wounded veterans. The group is in early development, but the vision is a place where wounded veterans can learn about the entire musical process, including recording and production, and use it as therapy, Gilfillan said.

"We would kind of just recruit and train our own military musicians and give them a trade and, in return, we would do musical therapy for anyone who needs it," he said. "I really believe in musical therapy as a viable way to recuperate."

To the Fallen already donates part of its profits to charities that benefit wounded troops, and once the nonprofit organization is established, money would go into that also, Gilfillan said. But more important than the money, he said, is giving military musicians an opportunity to get their music out there and letting the world hear the quality of music servicemembers create.

"These are not hokey artists," he said. "This is real music."