Saturday, October 31, 2009

Troops Wage Friendly Competition in Pentagon Fitness Challenge

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - Army Lt. Col. Chris Carlson thrives to stay physically fit, and neither his ripe age of 46 nor his heavy workload here at the Pentagon could prevent that. Carlson, an Army program analysis and evaluations officer, and several other military competitors showed off their speed, agility and dedication to physical fitness yesterday in the Pentagon Athletic Center's Ultimate Fitness Challenge here. The competitors shared Carlson's enthusiasm for fitness and agreed that working behind a desk in the Pentagon doesn't mean you can't maintain fitness.

"[The competitors] were serious about staying in great physical shape, [and] I think all of us want to maintain ourselves at the best possible shape that we can," Carlson said. "I think it's a tribute to the professionalism of all the services that we want to stay in the best possible shape."

The four events were a timed shuttle run, a 35-pound sandbag-carry relay, a 60-second box jump and an obstacle course.

Despite the best efforts and confidence from the field of competitors, the challenge was surprisingly more difficult than expected, Carlson said. The object of the shuttle run was to sprint and retrieve 14 tennis balls, seven of which were positioned about 15 feet away from the start point and the other seven about 30 feet away. It's safe to say that most were beginning to feel the burn afterwards, as almost everyone was hunched over at the waist and drenched with sweat with still three events to go.

"After the first event, we were all starting to feel the muscles tightening up, [and] you knew it was going to be a contest," Carlson said. "I think we were all pretty fired up."

The next three events were equally exhausting, he said. But the most notable aspect of the challenge was how the competitors came together and bonded through a little friendly competition.

"Everyone had a lot of camaraderie," Carlson said. "We were all obviously competitive, and you could see that, but everyone was cheering for each other despite the fact that none of us had ever met before."

Carlson called the challenge an "eye-opener" to include even more variety into his workouts, which regularly include weightlifting, biking, running and martial arts. Although he believes he's in the best shape of his life, he said the competition showed him he needs to work out even harder.

That sort of competitive spirit was evident in many of the competitors. But for Navy Capt. Tyrone "Chappy" Payton, who unofficially finished second in the challenge, being fit is just part of who he is as a servicemember, he said.

Staying healthy and in shape is the individual servicemember's responsibility, said Payton, deputy director of the Navy staff. Although he acknowledges that it's easy to get "bogged down" with work here at the Pentagon, "you still need to make it your business to incorporate time to come to the gym."

"I think the military, in general, lives a healthy lifestyle" the 50-year-old sailor said. "We represent the country, so why not be in the best shape that you can and set an example for your country."

Payton also tries to set a good example for younger servicemembers, he said. Establishing good nutritional, physical and mental strengths at a young age is a message he often communicates.

"I think it's important for young people to make time to build good habits, because it's much easier to start the habit now and maintain that throughout your career in the military," he said. "I suggest to all the young people who work for me to make time and get to the gym, because when they get to my age at 50, it'll be a little bit easier to maintain."

The results of the competition are pending, but for the participants, competing and showcasing their athleticism was rewarding enough.

Yoga, Curry Make for Good Army Training

by Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - It's 6 a.m. and as the sun rises, U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Vacchelli sits on a mat in the grass, cross-legged, eyes closed and index and thumb fingers pressed together with his palms facing up. Hummmm. Hummmm, he murmurs.

Off and on for the past two weeks, Vacchelli and others in the 2nd Squadron, 14th Calvary Regiment, took off their running shoes and traded their standard Army physical training for a little inner peace.

Sports included hitting, or trying to hit, a white ball with a polo mallet through a goal, while riding a bicycle.

And hamburgers and fries were swapped with mutton curry and naan.

The soldiers deployed here to train with the Indian army's 7th Mechanized Infantry Battalion. Dubbed "Yudh Abhyas," loosely translated as war preparation, it is the largest military exercise to date with the Indians. The two armies soldiered side by side, firing weapons and trading equipment. But perhaps the most valuable lessons learned were not those on the battlefield.

Today's U.S. military is no stranger to working alongside those from other countries. In Afghanistan, alone, more than 40 country's militaries are in the fight. In Iraq, while most troops have cleared out of combat outposts, U.S. soldiers still serve as advisors for the Iraqi army.

Learning to bridge language barriers and cultural gaps has become as necessary as practicing marksmanship for today's troops.

"We are not the only culture on the globe," said Army Lt. Col. Jim Isenhower, commander of the 2nd-14th. "As Americans, it is important that we recognize that there are different perspectives, and different ways to think about things. Perhaps the most valuable lesson our soldiers will take from this is an ability to recognize a competing or a different perspective and understand that they may not agree with it but it's something they must incorporate in their decision making and how they interact with others."

The Indian army embraced the American soldiers from the first day, Isenhower said. What began with simple handshakes and some slight awkwardness turned into strong friendships, he said.

The troops were treated to special dinners and dancing. They participated in the local Divali celebration, the Hindu festival of lights.

By the end of the training, troops were trading e-mails, and becoming friends on Facebook.

Troops can train on maneuvers or weapons skills on almost any range. But it was the cultural exchange that can't be replicated, Isenhower said.

"Recognizing cultural differences is something our Army has become much more proficient at over the course of the last decade, but this was a perfect time to try to incorporate those lessons," he said.

Bridging the culture gap quickly put the troops on a faster track when it came time to work together.

Isenhower said he was surprised at how quickly the two armies were able to integrate on the battlefield. By the end of the exercise, the two were working through complex, synchronized military operations with soldiers from each army integrated at every level.

"This is a professional army," Isenhower said. "It is extremely strong and extremely capable. And that has been different than our experience in training up other armies that we've worked closely with over the past couple of years.

"In this case, we are learning as much from the Indian army as they are learning from us. They have been fighting counterinsurgency for 20 years. We've been at it about eight. So we bring a lot of current tactics, techniques and procedures, and yet they do, too."

Army 1st Sgt. Joseph Messier with A Troop said he has worked with 16 other militaries during his career. Even so, Messier admitted to being a little hesitant at the start. It was his first trip to India, his first taste of curry and he had never attempted yoga.

The friendliness of the Indian soldiers won him over, Messier said.

"They reached their hand out first and, like the good Americans we are, we smiled back and started joining right in, and built a lot of friendships," he said.

But it wasn't just the Indians' friendliness that impressed Messier.

"This is the most professional military I've ever encountered outside of ours," he said. "Their individual skills are excellent, their collective skills are well trained and their soldiers are well disciplined.

"I'm glad they're our friends. I'm glad they're on our side," he said.

Army 1st Lt. Joseph Lewandowski, the squadron's information operations officer, said that some troops were hesitant at first to try the food. Some even opted for field rations, rather than give the spicy food a try.

Two chow halls were set up, one offering American food and the other offering Indian cuisine. Eventually, most U.S. soldiers tried the Indian specialties, and liked them.

Chow time became a culture class for those wanting to know what was in the dish, it regional influence and how it was made.

"They would authentically be intrigued about their culture and ask them questions rather than just walk by in a regular cafeteria," Lewandowski said.

Interacting on the sports field, Lewandowski said, improves interaction on the battlefield. Within the construct of healthy sportsmanship, you begin to know your teammates, regardless of what uniform they wear.

You begin to look at them differently, he said. You begin to trust them.

It is then that the two armies can truly begin working together.

"I think without the culture piece, this exercise would be just that, an exercise. There would be nothing else besides coming out here, doing the work, getting it done and going home," Lewandowski said. "By having the cultural part, you actually integrate with them and learn to appreciate their abilities, skills and who they are as a person."


W R Systems Ltd., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $26,946,956 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, performance-based contract for in-service engineering technical support services for various navigation systems. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $140,601,392. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, (97 percent) and the governments of Japan, (0.5 percent), Taiwan, (0.5 percent), Korea, (0.5 percent), Australia, (0.5 percent), Saudi Arabia, (0.5 percent) and Egypt, (0.5 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program. Work will be performed in Hampton Roads, Va., (75 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (4 percent); San Diego, Calif., (3 percent); Groton, Conn., (3 percent); Pascagoula, Miss., (3 percent); Jacksonville, Fla., (3 percent); Ingleside, Texas, (3 percent); Seattle, Wash., (3 percent); and Foreign Military Sites, (3 percent), and is expected to be completed by October 2010. If all options are exercised, work could continue until October 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website and the SPAWAR E-commerce website, with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and one offer received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic is the contracting activity (N65236-10-D-2839).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Melville, N.Y., is being awarded a $26,623,968 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement, fabrication and delivery of four AN/SPQ-9B radar sets (above/below deck hardware) and combat interface kits for use on Navy Ships. The AN/SPQ-9B radar system provides the capability to detect and track low-flying, high-speed, small radar cross section anti-ship missile targets in heavy clutter environments. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $281,530,546. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, (56 percent) and the government of Australia, (44 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Melville, N.Y., (91.2 percent); Norwalk, Conn., (5.5 percent); Baltimore, Md., (3.3 percent), and is expected to be completed by April 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5343).

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $24,605,198 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-D-0007) to exercise an option for organizational, selected intermediate and limited depot level maintenance for F-16, F-18, H-60 and E-2C aircraft operated by the adversary squadrons based at Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nev. Work will be performed in Fallon, Nev., and is expected to be completed in October 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $24,605,198 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Melville, N.Y., is being awarded a $7,886,078 cost- plus-fixed fee contract for continued design agent and technical engineering support to AN/SPQ-9B radars during installation, integration, testing, and refurbishment. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $39,325,257. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, (71.8 percent) and the government of Australia, (28.2 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Melville, N.Y., (96.9 percent); Baltimore, Md., (2.4 percent); Norwalk, Conn., (0.7 percent), and is expected to be completed by October 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5341).

L3 Services, Inc., Mount Laurel, N.J., is being awarded a $7,454,671 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00421-05-C-0009) for additional engineering and technical services and supplies to design, develop, procure, prototype, modify, integrate, test and evaluate, install and provide logistics support for telecommunication and related communication-electronic (C-E) systems. These services are in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Special Communications Requirements Division. The estimated level of effort for this modification is 72,368 man-hours. Work will be performed in Lexington Park, Md., (80 percent) and St. Inigoes, Md., (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, St. Inigoes, Md., is the contracting activity.

Correction: Contract awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., for $853,305,629 should have stated contracting funds in the amount of $291,361,000 would expire by the end of the current fiscal year.

Lockheed Martin Corp., of Marietta, Ga., was awarded a $20,814,340 contract which will provide funding for the non-recurring cost for diminishing manufacturing source engineering change proposals for the replacement C-130J trim panels, embedded Global Positioning-Inertial Naviagation System, and the automatic flight control processor. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 657 AESS, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8625-06-C-6456).

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., of Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $17,297,711 contract which will provide additional segment level testing for the command and control element of the Lockheed Martin mission control segment. At this time $582,983 has been obligated. SMC/MCSW, El Segundo, California is the contracting activity (F04701-02-C-002, P00339).

Gyro House, of Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma was awarded a $6,001.280 contract which will provide civil engineering services at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. At this time, no money has been obligated. 448 SCMG/PKBD, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma is the contracting activity (FA8117-10-D-0001).

Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Electro-Optics Limited of Basildon, United Kingdom was awarded a $5,957,366 contract which will provide support for all the low light television systems applicable to the AC-130 gunship. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 580 ACSG, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (F33657-95-C-0072, P00099).

Science Applications International Corp., of San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $5,544,869 contract which will provide measurement and signature intelligence services. At this time, $517,559 has been obligated. AMIC/PKA, Newport News, Va., is the contracting activity (FA4890-07-C-0005, P00017).

Dennis K. Burke, Inc., Chelsea, Mass., is being awarded a maximum $10,675,156 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for diesel fuel. Other locations of performance include Conn., Mass., Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 81 proposals solicited with eight responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 11, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-8500).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Exercise Seeks to Reduce Friendly Fire Incidents

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - Modern technology makes warfare more fast-paced, efficient and deadly, but the ever-present confusion or "fog" of battle still causes inadvertent deaths of friendly forces and civilians. The two-week Bold Quest 2009 exercise that began Oct. 27 at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., seeks to identify emerging technologies that can be used to save military and civilian lives during combat operations.

This year's exercise is looking for ways to better aid combat air crews in differentiating between friendly and enemy forces and civilians during air-to-ground support operations, said Bold Quest coordinator John Miller, a civilian member at Norfolk, Va.,-based U.S. Joint Forces Command that sponsors the annual exercises.

"That means kill the right target and avoid fratricide," Miller said today in an interview with reporters from Camp Lejeune.

Bold Quest also is a coalition affair, Miller said, noting 10 nations are actively participating in this year's exercises with some other countries sending observers.

The coalition component, he said, is an important factor as part of efforts to improve combat identification.

About 1,000 military members are participating in Bold Quest, which includes about 20 U.S. and Canadian aircraft and some 80 U.S. ground vehicles.

Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, are heavily involved in all of Bold Quest's ground operations, Miller said.

"The purpose of this is indentifying ground troops with this technology, and we're providing the ground troops," said Army Capt. Bixler Benson, part of the 10th Mountain contingent bivouacked at the exercise's tactical operations center at Camp Lejeune.

Benson's soldiers, he said, are incorporating routine field training as part of their role in the exercise, while interacting with coalition participants.

Coalition partners at Bold Quest demonstrations desire "an early look at what has military utility and what warrants a future investment in further development and fielding," Miller said.

Canada, a long-time participant in Bold Quest, wants "exposure to future technologies to fill capability gaps in combat identification," said Cmdr. R.S. Edwards with the Canadian Forces.

The Canadians also are interested "in exploiting new systems for improved interoperability, particularly with the United States, but also with our coalition partners," Edwards added.

Bold Quest "represents a very safe and testable environment where we can evaluate interoperability for our own systems to make sure that we can cooperate in the field and that we can develop then common procedures in order to operate effectively," said Norwegian Lt. Col. Bjorn Kristiansen.

The exercise, Miller said, seeks to provide "shooters with the tools to help them to sort out the confusion that they confront on a daily basis, whether from the air or the ground."

A variety of sensor equipment is being tested, Miller said. For example, "interrogators" installed on aircraft are designed to enable friendly aviators, through query and response, to identify friendly ground troops that carry "responders" on their vehicles.

Other identification devices being tested, he said, are designed to be carried by friendly soldiers and noncombatant civilians.

Yet, because the potential for human error cannot be totally factored out, it's unlikely that fratricide or civilian casualties will be completely eliminated from warfare, Miller acknowledged.

However, "we can take some steps to try to minimize it," he said.

Survivors Unlikely in Midair Crash, Pentagon Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - Search efforts continue after two military aircraft collided off the California coast yesterday, but a Defense Department official said it's unlikely there are survivors among the nine people aboard. The crash occurred about 7 p.m. local time last night some 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, Calif., when a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft with seven people aboard collided with an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter containing two pilots, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Web site.

"The search is still on, but it's likely taken the lives of nine individuals," said Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman, calling the collision a "tragic event."

The Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps are involved in the search, with Coast Guard assets including two MH-60J Jayhawk helicopters, the Cutters Edisto and Petrel, from San Diego, and the Cutter Blackfin from Santa Barbara, Calif.

The Coast Guard aircraft from Air Station Sacramento was engaged in a search and rescue mission and the Marine helicopter from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing stationed at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was conducting a routine training mission at the time of the crash. The Navy reported to the Coast Guard that they observed what appeared to be a midair collision, according to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard and Navy crews searched through the night amid conditions offering unlimited visibility and "ideal search conditions," the Coast Guard reported.

Efforts are focused on the search for survivors, and the Coast Guard is investigating to determine the cause of the accident.

Chairman Honored for Efforts to End Homelessness

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - The United States has the values, wealth, and support of its leadership to end homelessness among veterans, the top military officer said last night as he accepted an award for his efforts to stop what he said is a nationwide problem. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was "humbled, thrilled and grateful" to accept the first "Soldier On" award here last night.

"I accept this award but I really do accept it for the 2 million men and women who are serving right now, active and reserve and guard," Mullen said. "[They] make up the best military we've ever had in our country."
The Soldier On award was created as an annual recognition of a person who has made a significant contribution to ending homelessness among veterans. Mullen received a bronze statuette created by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andrew DeVries, who will create statuettes for future honorees, as well.

Homelessness among veterans has been a challenge virtually all of Mullen's adult life, particularly post-Vietnam, he said. It's an issue he's focused on as the country fights two wars.
"Several years ago when these conflicts started, one of the things I promised myself is I'd do everything I could to make sure we didn't generate another generation of homeless veterans, which we did when I was young," Mullen told reporters before accepting the award.

The chairman said he is grateful for all that Jack Downing, founder of Soldier On and all the sponsors have done to curb homelessness among veterans in Massachusetts. But, he said, "the homeless veterans challenge is one that is certainly much broader than the local challenge here. It's a national challenge."
The road ahead to curbing homelessness among veterans is long, but Mullen said he's confident in the leadership, which he described as "committed to making it work."
"It is a great, great privilege to be able to serve with so many who care and then to see how much difference can be made," he said as he accepted the award. "We do have extraordinary support for our young men and women who serve right now.
"I really do believe that we can solve this problem," he added. "We are a rich country. We are a rich people with the values that can make sure that everyone who serves is able to live their American dream. That's who we are as a country."
Soldier On is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group that serves homeless veterans at shelters in Leeds and Pittsfield, Mass.

Its mission is to end homelessness among veterans by providing permanent, sustainable, safe, and affordable housing with support services that veterans will own and operate.

Earlier today, the group broke ground for the construction of 39 apartments which will be owned, managed, and occupied by formerly homeless veterans. The project, a $6 million dollar venture involving state, federal, and local housing programs, will incorporate green building design and features that will allow veterans to stay in their homes as they age.

Soldier One will continue to provide mental health, vocational and psychological and social services to the veterans in residence.

Because the project is virtually debt-free, the portion of the veteran's rent that would have supported debt service will be deposited in individual development accounts for the veterans to earn equity in their homes.

Weekend Musician Fulfills Duty in Desert

By Army Sgt. Neil Gussman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - Army Sgt. Nicholas Raia said it was a sense of duty that made him give up the good life as a full-time Penn State student and weekend National Guard musician to volunteer to come here. After seven years in the Pennsylvania National Guard band, Raia decided to take a year away from performing and volunteer for a combat tour. Since January, Raia has served here as a door gunner on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment.

"I felt that after seven years in the Guard, it was my turn to do my part overseas," he said.

Raia, of Altoona, Pa., got his start with the Guard when, at 18, he brought his trumpet to an audition for the Guard band. He aced the audition and until last summer was a member of several of the band's performance groups, playing trumpet, baritone and guitar for recruiting events and celebrations, and more formal military ceremonies.

Over the years he was in the band, Raia came to believe he should deploy with a combat unit.

"Our job [in the band] is unique in that we are in the public eye often, and we often get thanked for our service by people in our audiences," Raia said. "I would find myself conflicted, because while it is true that we, as a unit, were serving our country in the way in which we were meant to serve, I also felt as if I should be doing more."

Raia had several friends in the Guard who deployed overseas at least once in their careers. He said he felt those were the soldiers who truly deserved to be thanked.

"I felt that after seven years in the Guard, it was my turn to do my part overseas," he said.

His final decision to deploy was met by his unit with unwavering support.

"My unit could not have been more supportive of my decision," he recalled. "They helped me get everything on the military side of the house in order prior to my deployment and have made it a point to ensure it would not affect me negatively upon my return."

To get ready for the transition from full-time student and weekend band member, Raia volunteered for additional training in weapons. In June 2008, Raia attended the Small Arms Master Gunner course at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. To prepare for hand-to-hand combat, he completed the weeklong Level One Combatives Course in July. At the end of September, he was one of 10 soldiers in the first class trained in the new live-fire shoot house, also at Fort Indiantown Gap.

But his transition from band member and college student to door gunner had difficulties training could not help.

"It was a decision that I struggled with for a while," he said. "It's one thing to tell your loved ones you are being ordered to leave and a totally different animal entirely when you are trying to explain to them that you are voluntarily leaving."

Raia said his civilian friends did not understand his desire to volunteer for combat in the way his military friends did. "People in the military think a little differently than those who are not and most of the soldiers in the military today could probably easily understand the feeling of responsibility that compelled me to deploy."

His family also wasn't happy with his decision, but has since become very supportive, he said. "My family worried about me and they were not real thrilled that I would volunteer to leave them for a year to go to a combat zone." he said, but added, "Any previous uncertainty or worries has given way to pride in what I am doing."

Before deployment, Raia completed all the requirements for a bachelor's degree at Penn State with a double major in criminal justice and psychology. He plans to become a police officer after deployment — except on National Guard weekends when he will be back on stage or in formation at ceremonies in the 28th Infantry Division Band.

(Army Sgt. Neil Gussman serves with 28th Combat Aviation Brigade public affairs.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Total Fitness' Seeks Unit, Troop Effectiveness

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2009 - Being fit to fight in today's military means more than simply being physically fit, and through the concept of "total fitness," Defense Department officials hope to build on what many say already is the most resilient force in U.S. military history. Total fitness strikes a balance between strong minds and bodies, a balance servicemembers today need more than ever, said Army Maj. Todd Yosik, chief of the operational division for the Defense Centers of Excellence, in an interview with American Forces Press Service yesterday.

Yosik echoed recent comments by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other top officials, noting that mental readiness has become increasingly important for servicemembers as they continue to deal with the stress of frequent deployments. Even the most optimistic troops have had difficulty staying vigilant over the past eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"This has really challenged even the most resilient and best warriors that we have," Yosik said. "Through the last several years, a lot of very resilient folks have struggled with deployments. Warriors today, probably more than ever before, need to possess more strength and stamina than what we've ever really encountered in the history of our military within the U.S. Defense Department."

A servicemember who is in top physical as well as mental shape will be more efficient and effective and, more importantly, better equipped to sustain the rigors of a variety of tough missions, he explained.

It's not uncommon for troops to carry up to 150 pounds of equipment for days and weeks in an operation. Although the physical toll is great, such servicemembers still need to be as stress-free as possible and able to process their task, he added.

"Total fitness is an emerging concept that integrates not only the physical part of being a warrior, but also the mental part, and also that larger part of having a sense of purpose and being connected to something bigger than yourself," Yosik said. "The bottom line is you can't do it all on your own."

Family, community, emotional strength and stamina are just as important as physical fitness, Yosik said. He said he encourages troops to be open and communicate with their families and units, rather than bottling up their stress.

Also, focusing on good nutritional and sleep habits can lead to positive differences, he said. These practices will culminate into a more well-rounded servicemember and overall force.

"The total fitness concept is really an effort to build on existing strength that are already there to help enhance some of these elements to make warriors stronger, to prepare them better and to help them sustain better," he said, "[and] also, at the same time, enhance their performance and their mission effectiveness."

The Army, Yosik noted, recently began a servicewide program to teach soldiers the value of total fitness. Through its Comprehensive Fitness program, the Army is implementing online and classroom training in individual units and various levels of leadership education. The program began earlier this month to give soldiers a means to evaluate their psychological strengths and improve on their weaker areas. Also, soldiers who are deemed mentally fit through their evaluations learn to educate others.

"Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is a perfect example of a total fitness initiative, and the Army is out in front on that," he said. "It's a commendable effort of bringing together these topics, and that's something that is emerging across the [department]."

As the total fitness idea continues to spread throughout the force, Yosik and others recognize the long-term effect psychological fitness can have on troops. More and more servicemembers are being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Research indicates that untreated psychological conditions can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, problems at home, depression and even suicide. At a joint Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Summit here this week, health care professionals gathered to address the emotional wounds of war.

Gates noted in his keynote address Oct. 26 that more than 6,000 servicemembers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with psychological conditions. Eight years of fighting terrorism in the two countries has impacted the troops, he said, and Pentagon leadership is cautious about pushing troops to their limits.

But through initiatives such as the total fitness concept and the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, Yosik said, the force will only get better.

"The Defense Department is really taking an aggressive stance on mental health and resilience," Yosik said. "That's very telling when you have the most senior person in the [department] saying this is an important thing.

"I think in order to sustain yourself in full-spectrum operations, you really can't separate the two. You can't separate the mind and body, because mental stamina [and] physical fitness are so critical for mission success."

Exercise Seeks Battlefield Information Effectiveness

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2009 - U.S. warfighters and allies operating in Afghanistan and Iraq depend on various sensor platforms that can provide information about the enemy's whereabouts night or day, a senior U.S. military officer said today. That's why the annual joint Empire Challenge demonstration, which explores how to improve dissemination of vital intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to battlefield commanders, is so important, Air Force Col. George J. Krakie, the director of this year's exercise, told American Forces Press Service.

"It's about bringing all these different ISR capabilities together to form a coherent picture for the warfighter of the battle space that's around them," Krakie said. This year's four-week demonstration, he said, was held in July at several locations across the world.

Empire Challenge 2009 was the sixth of the series and the first managed by Norfolk, Va.,-based U.S. Joint Forces Command, Krakie said. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, he said, ran the previous exercises, which are directed by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

Senior officials had decided the demonstration needed to be "more operationally realistic and relevant," Krakie said, so Joint Forces Command was directed to take the lead.

U.S. military members from all service branches as well as allied participants from France, Norway, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand took part in this year's demonstration, Krakie said.

Wartime commanders crave situational awareness –- the ability of knowing what is happening around you -- so they can make better, more informed decisions, said Krakie, who is chief of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance integration division at Joint Forces Command's intelligence directorate.

"What we're trying to do for the warfighter," Krakie said, "is to make sure that all the intelligence that is available, whether it be from these ground sensors or airborne sensors, can be brought together, moved around in an enterprise and made available to the warfighter."

However, Krakie said, though unmanned aerial systems can provide analog or high-definition photo imagery and other useful information to commanders, that information quickly loses value if it's not accessible and tailored to users' needs.

"We don't want to 'dump' large amounts of data on the warfighter at the tactical edge and force him to sort through all that data," Krakie explained. "But what we do want to do is to make this data available to them to answer specific problems that they're facing in accomplishing their mission."

Empire Challenge demonstrations also evaluate new technologies -- such as the high-definition full-motion video sensor being considered by the Air Force -- and how they could fit into existing infrastructure, Krakie said.

The high-definition video was impressive, he said, but some allied participants in the exercise had difficulty accessing the information. "That's another piece of the interoperability that we work -- to make sure that these sensors are interoperable" among U.S. and allied forces, Krakie said.

This year's Empire Challenge was conducted at 20 sites worldwide, Krakie said, with scenarios based on lessons learned and case studies that came out of Iraq or Afghanistan.

The main ground demonstrations conducted at China Lake, Calif., took advantage of geographic and climatic conditions similar to those found in Afghanistan. China Lake "had the terrain we wanted," Krakie said, as well as the heat, dust and wind.

Empire Challenge 2010, slated for August, is planned to be of two-week's duration will "be very focused on the battlefield problems that are faced in Afghanistan," Krakie said. "We will do our best to mimic the network and command structure there," he added.

One of the scenarios for next year's demonstration, Krakie said, involves analysis of ISR involvement in joint close-air support missions. The focus in that area, he said, is to see how ISR capabilities can help to improve combat effectiveness while minimizing civilian casualties and reducing the likelihood of fratricide.


MWH Americas, Inc. of Broomfield, Colo., and ARGO/LRS JV of Glen Burnie, Md. were awarded a $3 billion contract which will provide primarily environmental requirements that include completion of a conceptual design, construction, implementation, demolition, repair, and operation and maintenance of installed systems prior to delivery to the government. At this time, $3,000 has been obligated for each prime contractor. AFCEE/ACV, Brooks City-Base, Texas is the contracting activity (FA8903-10-D-8573; FA8903-10-D-8551).

Lockheed Martin Corp., of Fort Worth, Texas was awarded a $474,200,000 contract which will provide for the issuance of full production of four F-22 Lot 10 air vehicles, alternate mission equipment, production engineering support and work in process through Aug. 11, 2009 for 16 shipsets of raw material aircraft fuselage titanium. 478 AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8611-09-C-2900,P00007).

Lockheed Martin Corporation of Marietta, Georgia was awarded a $13,200,000 contract which will provide initial funding for the delivery of an engineering change proposal for the replacement of the C130J Star VII mission computer. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 657 AESS, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. (FA8625-06-C-6456)

Harris Corp., (RF Communications Division), Rochester, N.Y., is being awarded a five year $90,000,000 ceiling firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract resulting from Request for Proposal No. M67854-09-R-7028 for up to 3,385 multi-band radio vehicular installation kits. Work will be performed in Rochester, N.Y., and is expected to be completed October 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively awarded, with one offer received. Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-10-D-7000).

Airborne Tactical Advantage Co. LLC, Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $43,514,490 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-09-D-0021) to exercise an option for contractor owned and operated type III high subsonic and Type IV supersonic aircraft (approximately 2,800 and 1,000 flight hours, respectively) in support of the Commercial Air Services (CAS) program for the Navy. Efforts to be provided include a wide variety of airborne threat simulation capabilities to train shipboard and aircraft squadron weapon systems operators and aircrew how to counter potential enemy electronic warfare and electronic attack operations in today's electronic combat environment. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., (45 percent); Point Mugu, Calif., (35 percent); and various locations outside the Continental United States, (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 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.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $19,067,850 undefinitized not-to-exceed contract for procurement of the MK 698 guided missile test sets (GMTS). This contract action initiates the procurement of MK 698 GMTS, that will be used to support production, testing and interim level maintenance work for the Evolved SEASPARROW missile sonsortium consisting of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, and United States. The United States and Turkey will fund the effort under this contract. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., (79 percent); Charleston S.C., (13 percent); Irvine, Calif., (8 percent), and is expected to be completed by March 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-07-C-5431).

Bell Aerospace Services, Inc., Bedford, Texas, is being awarded a $13,199,152 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity time and materials contract to provide up to 145,152 hours of contractor engineering technical services on-site proficiency training for the airframe, avionics, and electrical systems of the H-1 aircraft. Work will be performed in Camp Pendleton, Calif., (53 percent); Cherry Point, N.C., (11 percent); New Orleans, La., (9 percent); New River, N.C., (9 percent); Johnstown, Pa., (9 percent); Okinawa, Japan, (5 percent); and Atlanta, Ga., (4 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $4,381,074 will 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 Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-10-D-0007).

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, Marion, Va., is being awarded a $10,382,683 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for antenna reflectors for the AN/SPG-62 antenna; a component of the AEGIS weapon system. Work will be performed in Marion, Va., and is expected to be completed by October 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $650,460 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-10-D-GR39).

Lockheed Martin Corp, Maritime Systems and Sensors (MS2), Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $7,378,662 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-6207) to exercise a cost-plus-incentive fee/award fee option for the procurement of TI08 Tech Insertion for Virginia Class (SSN 774) modernization and spares in support of the Acoustic Rapid Commercial-Off-The-Shelf Insertion (A-RCI) system improvement and integration effort program. A-RCI is a sonar system that integrates and improves towed array, hull array, sphere array, and other ship sensor processing, through rapid insertion of commercial-off-the-shelf based hardware and software. Work will be performed in Clearwater, Fla., (60 percent); Manassas, Va., (40 percent), and is expected to be completed by October 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Integrated Systems Sector, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $5,695,624 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-07-C-0055) for the design and development of Airborne Precision Guided Positioning System (PGPS) algorithms in support of the X-47 unmanned combat air system demonstration program. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed in September 2013. 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.

Lear Siegier Services, Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., was awarded on Oct. 23, 2009 a $140,682,292 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is to provide for the Iraq maintenance and tire repair program maintenance, supply and logistics support for the theater provided equipment add on armor modifications and enhancements, upgrades and installs, fragment kit 7, tire assembly repair program, security, standard depot system/Army war reserve deployment system and property book unit supply enhanced support. Missions are assigned to the 1/402nd Army field support battalion in Iraq. Work is to be performed in Iraq, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 23, 2014. Fifteen bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Contracting Center, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W911SE-07-D-0008).

Weeks Marine, Inc., Covington, Lo., was awarded on Oct. 26, 2009 a $61,810,000 firm-fixed-price contract. The work consist of dredging approx., 6.8 miles of navigation channel and the design and construction of five new dredged material placement area including the proposed Shoal Point Pas 2,3,4, and 5, and the Pelican Island placement area. In additional work will include levee repair and rehabilitation, levee raising and shore protection for two upland Pas 5 and 6. The levee repairs consist in general of restoring the levees to conditions prior to Hurricane Ike. Levee improvement includes levee raising and shore protection. Work is to be performed in Galveston County, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Mar. 30, 2011. Three bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District, Galveston, Texas, is the contracting activity (W912HY-10-C-0004).

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded on Oct. 26, 2009 a $8,713,631 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Red Stick Program will develop and demonstrate health prediction technologies for modern combat aircraft. Work is to be performed in East Hartford, Conn., (88.3 percent), Lovettsville, Va., (2.3 percent), Birmingham, Ala., (4.3 percent), with an estimated completion date of Apr. 30, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with over 25 bids received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-10-C-0002).

McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a maximum $51,000,000 firm fixed price, sole source contract for ceiling price order for the procurement of twenty-three line items in support of the fiscal year 2010 requirement for the EA-18G program. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. There was originally 1 proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 31, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (N00383-06-D-001J-TH05).

Direct Energy Business, Pittsburgh, Pa. is being awarded a maximum $11,628,229 firm fixed price contract for electricity. Other locations of performance are Tobyhanna Army Depot, Army - Carlisle Barracks and Defense Distribution Depot, New Cumberland. Using services are Army and DOD installations. There were originally 107 proposals solicited with seven responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is January 31, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-10-D-8000).

BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle, Sealy, Texas is being awarded a maximum $7,821,543 firm fixed price, sole source contract for heater comp housing for MRAP vehicles. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy and Air Force. There were originally two proposals solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is March 8, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Columbus, Columbus, Ohio (SPM7L2-10-M-0056).

Analyst Warms Hearts With Magic

By Marine Corps Cpl. Katie Densmore
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2009 - The ability to mislead an audience and make them believe the impossible is a skill few possess. A good magician leaves the audience with a sense of awe and mystery and the lingering question, "How did he do that?" For Bill Frost, the site lead simulations analyst with the School of Infantry East at Camp Geiger, part of the Camp Lejeune complex, his road to becoming a magician started in an unusual manner.

A martial arts practitioner since the age of 3, Frost met a man 20 years ago who would introduce him to a new love.

"I met Bill in Nashville, Tenn., in 1989," said Special Agent Gary Thomas, with the FBI office in Houston. "At the time, we were both training under the same [martial arts] master. I showed him a coin trick, then a card trick." One trick changed Frost's perception of magic and made him hungry to learn more.

"He showed me a magic trick that blew my mind," Frost said with grandiose gestures, smiling as he began to recall the beginning of his magic career. "I had seen tricks before, but I couldn't figure out how he was ripping and repairing things."

Thomas agreed to teach Frost magic if he, in turn, taught him martial arts. This sparked an unusual partnership that led to them starting the "Magic and Martial Arts Show."

"We started part of the time doing close-up magic tricks," Thomas said. "We would come out in our martial arts uniforms and perform Kung Fu forms and techniques. Afterward, we did the magic show. It was great. Everyone loved it, and it was just a lot of fun."

As a beginning magician, Thomas said, Frost had a natural talent and a rapport with the audiences that made the shows a success.

"From the beginning, it was definitely there," he said. "It was just amazing for someone who had never done it before. It's all about presence, dexterity and showmanship. You have to have these things to mislead the audience and not make it look lame."

From the first magic trick Thomas taught him, Frost immediately began making the tricks his own.

"After he sees something, he electrifies it and charges it up," Thomas said. "He was always wanting to innovate. If I taught him a trick, he would always have to put his own spin on it. He was always thinking of ways to add the martial arts into the magic for more flair, like using the martial arts to cut somebody in half. That's just his personality as a whole."

But when Frost turned 18, the two would part ways, as Thomas joined the FBI and Frost joined the Marine Corps. But they remained in touch.

"My guidance counselor was very disappointed I enlisted in the Marine Corps," Frost said with a sly look as he recalled the disappointment on his counselor's face. "I had a choice to go to [the U.S. Naval Academy], but I chose to enlist and join the grunts. I knew I wanted to serve my country. I wanted the hardest thing to do. I guess being into full-contact fighting, I was looking for the most aggressive thing to do."

During his time as a Marine, Frost was attached to the 2nd Marine Division's Company L, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. There, he was able to do training missions with the South Korean marines.

"We were training in the mountains, and it was very tough," Frost recalled. "It is just so different to see how other people live with so little, but are so rich in spirit."

Later in his 10-year career, Frost took a position as a combat instructor at Marine Combat Training Battalion East, and he re-ignited his passion for performing magic. He'd never lost his love for magic, and he revitalized that love by raising money for a ball.

"I really got back into magic when I told the colonel I wanted to do a magic show as a fundraiser for [Marine Combat Training Battalion]," he said. "I told him I would do everything. We sold out and made enough money to donate the extra to the USO. Afterward, I really got to thinking, 'That was really fun.' I got to raise money for a good cause, and I really enjoyed doing it."

Around that time, Frost decided to leave the Marine Corps.

"I am glad I left the Marines," he said, pausing to reflect on a difficult, but necessary choice. "I got to go have more fun and choose how I use my talents. Every time I tried to leave the Marine Corps, there was a connection. I had to get out. It was holding me back from pursuing my talents. But I didn't want to leave the Marines, so I stayed in the area and eventually got a job on base."

This allowed Frost to be close to the Marines and continue serving as a civilian.

"Everything I do is centered around some type of service, whether it is teaching people, training people or putting a smile on their faces," he said.

However, Frost knows that he will someday have a tough choice on whether he wants to stay here or continue on with his magic on a larger scale.

"I know one of these days I will have to make a decision to stay with my job on base or leave to pursue something else," he said. "I have connections with magicians in Las Vegas and around the [country]. I am working slowly to get to the national level."

(Marine Corps Cpl. Katie Densmore serves at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.)

2009 Visual Information Awards Program (VIAP).

The deadline (15 February 2010) is fast approaching for the annual Visual Information Awards Program (VIAP) competition year 2009. The competitions are open to enlisted active duty, reserve, and National Guard personnel of all the armed services, including the Coast Guard, holding the occupational specialty code (MOS, NEC, or AFSC) of graphic artist, photographer, journalist, photojournalist, broadcasters, videographer, mass communicator or equivalent. The VIAP encompasses the Military Photographer of the Year (MILPHOG), Military Videographer of the Year (MILVID) and the Military Graphic Artist of the Year (MILGRAPH) competitions.

The registration process is very simple and can save time and increase efficiency. Those wishing to compete in MILPHOG and/or MILGRAPH can also submit their entries electronically (For those wishing to FTP their MILGRAPH entries to the competition, please contact the competition coordinators at for the FTP url, username and password.) Those wishing to compete in MILVID must register, enter VIRIN, caption, category and other pertinent entry information online, but must FTP their MILVID entries to the competition, please contact the competition coordinators at for the FTP url, username and password. DINFOS will accept the registration page and caption page printed directly from MMES in lieu of an Entrant Data Form and/or Motion Media Caption Sheet as specified in the SOP.

Entrants must begin by filling out a registration form at
Once registered, entrants will be issued a username and password that can be used to access the entry system to submit entries, review and modify information about entries, and modify registration information. The MMES automatically generates extremely cryptic passwords, so to eliminate future conflicts, follow the following directions: type the password in a text editor (so you can see what you are typing), verify that it is correct, and then copy and paste the password into the login prompt on the MMES. Once in the system, use the "change password" utility to change your password to one that is easier to remember. If you are a returning entrant and do not remember your username and/or password, contact the competition coordinator for your information. Contact information can be found at Entrants using the system may only view and/or edit their own entries. MMES will open 15 Dec 2009 and close at 2359, 15 Feb 2010.

For details on the competition visit, refer to the VIAP SOPs which can be viewed at

Please send any comments or questions to

H1N1 Vaccine Order Includes Enough for National Guard

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2009 - The Defense Department has acquired enough doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine to immunize all 460,000 members of the National Guard, officials announced today. The supply will go out to the Guard through the Army Medical Materiel Agency, said Army Lt. Col. Dawn Barrowman, chief of occupational health for the Army National Guard.

All states have ordered the H1N1 injectable vaccine through the agency, which is the same way that states order the seasonal flu vaccine.

Army Guard officials in two states, Arkansas and Indiana, plan to use the Department of Health and Human Services allotment procured by their state, said Army Col. Rob Brown, the Army Guard's chief surgeon.

For Air Guard personnel, the H1N1 injectable vaccine has been ordered through the active duty host base, using the same method and guidance as for the seasonal flu vaccine, said Air Force Capt. Tonya Moser, chief of medical logistics for the Air National Guard.

Shipments of the Defense Department vaccine are scheduled for the second week of November, but "exact dates will differ from state to state," Brown said.

The Defense Department has acquired 2.7 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, which may be allocated to active duty members, reservists, Guard members, Defense Department civilians and essential contractors, according to a department memorandum.

Despite its availability this way, Guard members are encouraged to get the vaccine through the "most expedient route," Barrowman said. This includes registered H1N1 providers or a HHS source.

Army Guard members who receive a H1N1 vaccine from another source are strongly encouraged to provide the documentation to their unit's medical readiness noncommissioned officer, Barrowman said, so the Army Guard can track the number of soldiers who have received the vaccine.

The vaccine will be mandatory for uniformed personnel and highly encouraged for all others, according to a Defense Department memo. Priority would be given to deployed and deploying forces, new accession sites, including the service academies, and health care personnel.

Brown said the vaccine was produced by the same companies that made the seasonal flu vaccine, and it went through strict quality assurance inspections by the Food and Drug Administration before it was approved for release to the public.

He emphasized the H1N1 vaccine is the best and most effective way for people to protect themselves.

Brown also encourages Guard members to take everyday actions to stay healthy, including:

-- Covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze;

-- Washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing;

-- Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, because germs spread that way, and;

-- Staying home if they get sick.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Office Seeks Balance Supporting Current, Future Warfighters

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2009 - It's a fine balancing act for the office of the Pentagon's director of defense research and engineering: how does the department fulfill the needs of today's warfighters and the needs of servicemembers a generation from now? The office has several functions, director Zachary Lemnios said during an interview with American Forces Press Service. One is to prepare for an uncertain future by investing in science and technology across the department. Another function is to find ways "to take early results from the science and technology community and quickly transition them to the warfighter," he said. A third function, he added, is to improve early technology testing activities to control cost, schedule and risk in Defense Department acquisition programs.

"My mantra for this organization is innovation, speed and agility. We're trying to innovate at speed with a lot of agility," Lemnios said.

This signifies a cultural shift in the organization, which in the past focused more on future capabilities.

"Everyone wants to get capability into the hands of those in theater as fast as possible," he said, "but the building doesn't always work on those coordinates, and we're trying to work it in that direction a bit."

The effort has the absolute endorsement of combatant commanders and the secretary, Lemnios said, and brings together the service science and technology community and agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The office cannot stand by when servicemembers are putting their lives on the line fighting two wars, and the director called getting new capabilities to warfighters "a contact sport."

"We need to find ways to work with acquisition and science and technology organizations inside and outside the department to identify those core capabilities and find ways to transition them to use," he said.

The classic example is the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. The vehicle went from a combatant command request in 2004 to fielding more than 16,000 vehicles by 2008. Industry ramped up production to 1,200 vehicles a month, and is still projected to produce 1,000 MRAPs in December.

"It's a stellar program," Lemnios said, "because it brought the science and technology community together with the combatant commands together with skill sets we had in department to build an entirely new vehicle."

The MRAP is a V-hulled vehicle that mitigates the effects of a roadside bomb. The office worked closely with the Marine Corps Combat Development Center, the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center and with Aberdeen Proving Ground to validate the concepts, the director said. "We shortened the acquisition time [and] went through all sorts of new lanes to make that happen, so it didn't take five years to make," he said.

Now the organization is heading a new effort to get all-terrain versions of MRAPs - known as M-ATVs -- to Afghanistan. This is an entirely new design with much of it done in-house - a break from past practices of taking designs from the private sector. The first M-ATVs arrived in Afghanistan this month, with many more coming.

Another example of getting technology to the warfighters is the recommendation to send A-160 Hummingbird autonomous helicopters to Afghanistan to handle resupply missions to remote forward operating bases. These unmanned helicopters belong to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The A-160s are capable of delivering 1,500-pound cargos and flying 1,700 miles.

A third effort looks to reduce the energy footprint of forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The office sponsored a team in the region to perform an energy survey. "If we can cut down on the number of fuel and water truck drivers, we would help a lot," Lemnios said.

Listening to and dealing with combatant commanders is imperative for the science and technology communities, Lemnios said. "We've got to be cognizant of the needs in the field," he said.

The office must be responsive when combatant commanders submit joint urgent operational needs statements. These are needs that they see as life-threatening or have a significant near-term impact.

"We vet all of those and match what the [combatant commanders] need with what we understand from the [acquisition and science and technology] community," he said.

The office "translates" each community to the other. Lemnios also manages the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, which matches the combatant commanders' needs with private technologies.

Lemnios has met with five combatant commanders to try to understand the seminal needs that they want to see in place. He asks them what capabilities they would like to have in a perfect world. They need to get beyond the processes, he explained, and look to those capabilities without self-censorship.

The office has connected with the 65 science and technology advisors working for the combatant commands, Lemnios noted. And while the office is working to help warfighters today, it also has a responsibility to maintain the U.S. military's technological edge for the future.

Lemnios' office oversees DARPA, and coordinates research work by the Army, Navy and Air Force laboratory commands. "The role for this office is to [assemble a coherent] strategic plan for the entire scope of investments -- that's people and ideas for the strategic future," he said.

The fight against terrorism will take years. "The key is to find a way to use advanced technology as a force extender and a lever," Lemnios said. It also is about identifying potent new technologies, he added, noting the value of unmanned aerial vehicles on today's battlefields.
"There was no requirement for UAVs 20 years ago," he said.

The organization is working to take core ideas and move them out of the science and technology realm and into acquisition. The budget for science and technology is growing by a few percent each year, Lemnios said. "The growth is healthy and appropriate," he said.

The office stood up a systems engineering directorate targeted at helping major defense programs through the milestones. These experts also will study the early architectural trades for a system.

"Seventy to75 percent of a system's cost is determined before Milestone A," Lemnios said. "Once you lock down the system architecture, you've essentially nailed the program cost.

"It's like building a home," he continued. "You want to spend a lot of time with the architect and the builder up front so you minimize the changes downstream. Every one of those change orders cost you a bundle."

Lemnios opined that the next big technology breakthrough may have to do with "our ability to communicate with systems in a very natural way."

"We will be building systems that really do have cognitive abilities to understand the user - whether it is a computer system or whether an information system or a robotics system," he said.

Some systems already approach the ability to mimic human language understanding, and in some cases learning and reasoning, he said. "So you can think of, for example, a computer that you can have a conversation, and it will respond to you in the correct tone, or even perhaps with gestures."

This technology exists to some extent today, he said. "Within five to 10 years, you will see robotics systems you actually interact with at the human scale," he predicted. "That's going to be a revolution."

Managing vast amounts of information is another problem technology must address, Lemnios said.

"So if you look in theater today, ... it is trying to manage enormous sensor data, working with multinational troops and do it in a way that is time critical, that is persistent across large areas," he said. "Trying to manage that info and find the hidden features in large data sets. If we could really build information systems that allow the analyst to interoperate with that data in a natural way, it would have a huge impact."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

President Signs Defense Authorization Act

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2009 - President Barack Obama today signed the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act during a ceremony at the White House. Obama hailed the act, which contains $680.2 billion in military budget authority, as transformational legislation that targets wasteful defense spending. The president was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, congressional leaders and other senior officials, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"There's still more waste we need to cut; there's still more fights that we need to win," Obama said, noting he and Gates will continue to seek out unnecessary defense spending. Obama said he has ended unnecessary no-bid defense contracts and signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement practices so weapons systems' costs do not spin out of control.

"Even as we have made critical investments in equipment and weapons our troops do need, we're eliminating tens of billions of dollars in waste we don't need," Obama said.

The legislation, Obama said, saves billions by capping production of the Air Force's costly F-22 fighter jet and terminating troubled, over-budget programs such as the Army's Future Combat System and a new presidential helicopter.

"As commander in chief, I will always do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe to defend this nation," Obama said. "That's why this bill provides for the best military in the history of the world."

The authorization act provides for a 3.4 percent pay raise for military members, improves care for wounded warriors and expands family leave rights.

Money also is budgeted to fund programs that address "real and growing threats," Obama said. Such systems, he said, include the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, the littoral combat ship, and more helicopters and reconnaissance support for deployed U.S. forces.

The authorization act contains $130 billion to fund overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and it also provides $6.7 billion for thousands of all-terrain, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles now arriving in Afghanistan.

"Secretary Gates and I both know that we can't build the 21st century military we need unless we fundamentality reform the way our defense establishment does business," Obama said. He cited a Government Accountability Office report that found cost overruns totaling $296 billion across 96 major defense projects over the last year. That amount of money, the president said, would have paid for troop salaries and military family benefits for more than a year.

Obama praised Gates and Mullen for their hard work in developing the 2010 defense budget. "I want to thank, publicly, Bob Gates for his service to our nation," he said, and he added that Mullen has "provided wise counsel and stood with us in our efforts to initiate reform."

The authorization act, Gates said, is a bipartisan effort that's the result of countless hours and hard work on Capitol Hill.

"This bill is a necessary step toward reshaping the priorities of America's defense establishment and changing the way the Pentagon does business," Gates said at the signing ceremony. Work already is under way, he said, in development of the 2011 defense budget recommendation.

"And, I can ensure you it will focus on institutionalizing and accelerating many of the priorities and reforms embraced by this legislation," Gates said.

The annual defense authorization bill prepared for the president's approval or veto falls under the House and Senate armed services committees and is one of two bills required for the Defense Department to spend money. The other is the appropriations bill, crafted by the House and Senate appropriations committees, which provides funding to pay for the defense programs specified in the authorization bill.

Although the authorization bill signed today contains funding to develop and produce an alternate engine for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter that Gates had opposed, the legislators were able to provide that funding without taking resources away from the F-35 program itself, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters later in the day.

Some people, Morrell said, believe that funding a second engine for the F-35 would be an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' money.

"The authorizers have been able to do it in a way that does not seriously disrupt the overall F-35 program; we'll see if the appropriators are able to come up with a way to do it that way," Morrell said. "If they don't -- if they seriously disrupt it -- then the secretary will recommend to the president that he veto the appropriations bill."

The House and Senate appropriations committees are evaluating budget provisions contained within the Defense Authorization Act signed today.

Officials Cite Military's Domestic Response Role

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2009 - If not for the logistical capability and other unique assets the U.S. military has at its disposal during times of crises, the American population would suffer significantly, federal health officials said. U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. (Dr.) W. Craig Vanderwagen, former assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, underscored the critical role the military plays in responding to catastrophic events domestically.

"In terms of domestic response capability, the most significant logistical capability in this country for response is in the hands of our military personnel," Vanderwagen said in a telephone interview this week. "And if we do not have their engagement in planning and execution, the civilian population would suffer significantly."

Vanderwagen, a physician who is set to retire next month, said part of the military's role in humanitarian and disaster aid is in planning for and responding to potential events.

"What the military has to bring to the fight is a huge and capable logistics experience," he said. "The civilian environment does not have the kind of reserves – the tools and people – that allow for extensive and timely logistical response to events."

In a separate interview, Dr. Kevin Yeskey, deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response and director of the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations at HHS, echoed Vanderwagen's conviction.

"We all know [catastrophic events] are going to happen," he said. "You can think of scenarios where there's just a devastating earthquake, a devastating hurricane, a devastating chemical release or accident, or something where there's just an overwhelming number of casualties.

"If we don't plan for them and we don't exercise for them, and we don't understand what's going to happen at the local, state and federal levels and how those responses are going to take, and make sure they're integrated," he continued, "we're not going to have an efficient response. We're not going to have an effective response, and there's going to be lost lives unnecessarily."

Yeskey said the point of thorough planning and exercises is to work out as many of the bugs as possible and to anticipate potential surprises where possible.

"So when the event happens, we're ready to go, and it doesn't take us a long time to get out of the starting blocks and respond," he said in a phone interview this week.

Vanderwagen said the Department of Homeland Security and its components have laid out roughly 15 scenarios – from anthrax exposure to a nuclear attack or accident to hurricanes – on which responders base their preparation.

"What has increasingly begun to occur and is becoming a routine part of business is joint planning between [U.S. Northern Command] and the civilian elements," he said, referring to the military command responsible for anticipating and coordinating responses to domestic events.

Vanderwagen praised Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., the commander of Northcom, for his level of engagement and similar efforts by Renuart's Northcom predecessor, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating.

"Renuart has provided great support from the assets that they have within Northcom to do planning for those various scenarios and identify those specific operational and tactical missions where the [Defense Department] elements would be most useful," he said. Such assets, Vanderwagen said, include not only logistic support, but also public health personnel and medical personnel.

"The role of the Northcom as the relevant command here has been an expanding role, and one that's been extraordinarily important in filling gaps that the civilian population just can't deal with in a timely manner," he said.


BAE Systems Applied Technologies, Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $29,489,406 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00421-07-C-0013) to exercise an option for approximately 420,000 hours of engineering and technical services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Special Communications Requirements Division's Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Communications-Electronics Program. Work will be performed in St. Inigoes, Md., and is expected to be completed in October 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

LTM, Inc., Havelock, N.C., is being awarded a $25,843,072 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00421-01-D-0101) to exercise an option for approximately 431,707 hours of maintenance planning and design interface technical/management support services for the Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East, Cherry Point, N.C. These services include evaluating initial designs and proposed design changes, maintenance planning, and sustaining maintenance plans. Work will be performed at FRC East, Cherry Point, N.C., (99 percent), and at various locations across the United States (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Frontier Systems Integrators, LLC*, Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $5,780,879 ($5,745,919 firm-fixed price (FFP) and $34,960 estimated indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ)) modification under a previously awarded combination FFP, IDIQ contract (N40080-06-D-0456) to exercise Option 3 for regional security guard services at various locations within Naval District Washington. The work to be performed provides for, but is not limited to, security operations to ensure security and safety for personnel, property, facilities, and assets. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $20,986,722. Work will be performed at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.; National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; Carderock Naval District Washington, West Bethesda, Md.; Defense Information Systems Agency, Arlington, Va.; Naval Research Labs, Chesapeake Beach Detachment, Annapolis, Md., and work is expected to be completed Oct. 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Wash., D.C., is the contracting activity.

McDonnell Douglas Corp., of St. Louis, Missouri was awarded a $72,022,275 contract which will provide for a quantity of 2,925 Lot 14 guided vehicle kits are procured for joint direct attack munition purposes. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 678 ARSS/PK, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida is the contracting activity (FA8681-10-C-0072).

Opticomp Corp., of Zephyr Cove, Nevada was awarded a $5,543,337 contract which will develop a semiconductor optical amplifier structure that is integrated monolithically with OptiComp Corporation's prototype antenna demonstration. At this time, $1,974,000 has been obligated. Det 8 AFRL/RVKS, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico is the contracting activity (FA9453-10-C-0202).

Mrs. Obama, Dr. Biden Praise Troops, Vets, Families

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2009 - The wives of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden praised servicemembers, veterans and their families today during a visit to a Veterans Affairs hospital in New York City. Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden spoke at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx hours before the scheduled start of the 2009 World Series at nearby Yankee Stadium. Major League Baseball is dedicating Game 1 of the Series in support of "Welcome Back Veterans," an MLB Charities initiative designed to support returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families with mental health treatment and job opportunities.

"One of the first events Michelle and I did together just about a year ago was a roundtable with military spouses," Biden said in her introduction of the first lady. "We have worked together since then to understand the issues faced by our soldiers and their families while they are deployed and when they return home. We have been truly overwhelmed by the courage of our men and women in uniform and inspired by the dignity and sense of patriotism that our military families exhibit every day."

Noting Major League Baseball's decision to salute servicemembers, veterans and their families in conjunction with the opening of this year's Fall Classic, Biden called on all Americans to do the same.

"There is a role for each and every one of us in supporting our military families," she said. "We are asking all Americans to take action and show their thanks through simple acts of kindness to these families and our veterans.

"As a military mom," she continued, "I know how a simple act of kindness can make a difference to a soldier, whether it's troop greeters who are meeting our troopers coming back, a neighbor offering to baby-sit, or a classroom adopting a unit. It is our sacred duty to honor the service of those who sacrifice for our country -- and we can all play a role with a simple act of service. I hope that the millions of viewers watching tonight's game will join us in this effort."

Obama said she visited VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and the department's headquarters staff last week to underscore the importance of their mission and to thank them and VA staff members across the nation for their service.

"And I know that many of you are veterans yourselves -- the people who work at the VA, the people who work at facilities like this -- and your work couldn't be more important," she said.

The first lady said today's visit underscores the fact that for many of the nation's warriors, the battle continues even after they come home.

"But when I talk with these brave men and women, they speak less about themselves and more about the stress that their sacrifice puts on their families who live each day without them and hold everything together in their absence," she said. "That's all these folks think about and worry about. As a nation, we have a responsibility to honor their service by doing everything we can to support our servicemen and women, our veterans, and their families."

Obama pointed out that the president signed legislation into law today that gives the family members of wounded veterans federal family leave protection so they can care for their loved ones without losing their jobs. "But providing our military and their families with the support they deserve requires far more than government can do, as Jill pointed out," she added. "It requires all of us to be very active in this effort."

Business owners, big or small, can help returning servicemembers, veterans or their spouses by helping them get or keep a job, she noted, or people with professional skills can provide their services free to military families who need assistance. But everyday people can help too, the first lady said, by doing things as simple as offering to drive a carpool, baby-sit or make a meal.

"Just so many small things can really make the difference and make sure that our veterans and our men and women in uniform know that we care and that we're thinking about them," she said.

But above all, Obama added, people can simply say, "Thank you," and she expressed the hope that a public service announcement to be shown at the ballpark and during the World Series telecast would hit its mark.

"Each and every one of us is living in a community that has some family who has been touched in some way," she said. "They're in our schools, in our churches. They're walking through the streets at the grocery store. Sometimes they're easily identified, sometimes they're not. But as Jill said, part of why we're here is that we want to urge all Americans who ... get a chance to see our PSA, hear the sound of our voices, to never forget that these folks have made sacrifices. And we owe for what they've done for us."

In pregame ceremonies at Yankee Stadium tonight, the nation's first and second ladies are scheduled escort Yankees legend and World War II veteran Yogi Berra and Tony Odierno, who will be throwing out the first pitch.

Odierno, a U.S. Military Academy graduate who lost his left arm during the war in Iraq, earned the Bronze Star with valor and a Purple Heart and now works for the Yankees in stadium operations. Odierno's father is Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

"We are looking forward to welcoming the first lady and Dr. Biden to Yankee Stadium and Game 1 of the 2009 World Series," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig. "We hope their presence at both the game and the hospital visit will be an inspiration to the veterans who proudly served our country. The support for, an incredibly important initiative for Major League Baseball, will make a difference as we look to help today's veterans and military families with their transition back to civilian life."

U.S.-Indian Armies Wrap Up Historic Exercise

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2009 - With a massive display of firepower and teamwork, the U.S. and Indian armies finished their largest joint military exercise to date yesterday. The exercise is dubbed "Yudh Abhyas," loosely translated as "war preparation."

About 250 U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Squadron, based out of Hawaii brought 17 of their Stryker combat vehicles and paired with the Indian army's 7th Mechanized Infantry Battalion here at one of India's premier military training sites.

Since Oct. 12, the two armies have swapped soldiers, shared equipment and traded war stories, officials said.

"That's the most important aspect of this whole exercise -- getting to know each other, getting to appreciate our cultures, and working together as a team," said Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, the commander of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific.

Mixon and a host of Indian army generals traveled here Oct. 26 to view a culminating demonstration of firepower that offered up both the conventional battlefield power of the Indian's T-90 tanks with the high-technology precision of the U.S. military's tank killer, the Javelin.

Both infantries brought out their vehicles and weapons for a live-fire demonstration, and Indian helicopters dropped soldiers from both armies to join in the live-fire assault.

This was the largest deployment of the Stryker vehicle outside of deployments for war, and the Indian soldiers were eager to get a peek at its firepower and technical capabilities. The only restrictions were that the Indian soldiers could not drive the Strykers or use the high-tech communications network that manages the crew's weapons.

Both armies traded firing their big guns on the range, and U.S. soldiers rode alongside their Indian counterparts in their infantry vehicle. A handful of Indian troops were allowed to fire the Javelin, a treat that many U.S. troops in the infantry have yet to experience.

The training started two weeks ago with simple handshakes among the soldiers and a display of the each army's equipment. It quickly escalated to the two nations' armies working side by side on complex maneuvers, some scenarios strongly resembling the types of joint operations troops see in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As opposed to joint military operations in which U.S. technology and firepower clearly positions itself as the superior force, the Indian army proved itself a capable force, teaching as much as it was learning, U.S. commanders on the ground said. The Indian army has long been fighting an insurgency, and brought new tactics to the table.

"The Indian army is a professional military force," Mixon said. "I would be comfortable going with the Indian army anywhere, any time."

The 2-14th returned from Iraq six months ago, and is slated to return in about nine months. This exercise is a ramp-up in training, as the unit prepares for larger pre-deployment training exercises such as those at the National Training Facility in California.

But while the U.S. troops leave this week with training under their belts that prepares them for their next deployment, the value of the training was integrating successfully with the Indian army.

"At the end of the day, the important part of the exercise is the future cooperation and the understanding between the two armies," Mixon said.

The United States has sought to increase its military relations with India in recent years. Until now, most of the exercises in that effort have been smaller troop exchanges or command-level exercises using only computer-driven scenarios. This is the first time that a large number of boots on the ground have acted out those scenarios together.

"This is all about training with the Indian army, to enhance relationships so that we gain a greater understanding of each other. That's really what this is all about," the general said.

U.S. Pacific Command works regularly with other militaries on large-scale military operations, especially maritime.

Yudh Abhyas started in 2004 as the first conventional army-to-army training in India since 1962. In 2005, U.S. troops came to train at India's counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school. In 2006, Indian troops went to Hawaii for training, and in 2007, troops traveled to Alaska. The exercise shifted back to Hawaii last year.

"We want to be able to work together as militaries," Mixon said. "By us training together and getting to know each other, if there were a contingency, we would be better prepared to respond to that contingency. You cannot do that training here at the last minute."

Act Ends Controversial Personnel System

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2009 - With President Barack Obama's signature today on the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, a controversial pay-for-performance personnel system is abolished. About 220,000 Defense Department employees who had come under the National Security Personnel System will transition back to the long-standing General Schedule system, but that will take time, a senior official said.

Tim Curry, acting program executive officer for NSPS, said the department could start transitioning employees in six months. The department has begun a comprehensive planning process, he explained, with the goal of ensuring a smooth and orderly transition of employees and organizations out of NSPS.

"The department is going to proceed deliberately and cautiously without unnecessary delay," Curry said during an interview today. The transition will take place organization by organization, he said to minimize disruption. Meanwhile, employees under NSPS will remain in that system.

"It took three years to bring those 220,000 employees into the system," Curry said. "Congress recognized that it was going to take time ... to do it right."

The new law gives Defense Department officials six months to develop and submit a plan to Congress detailing the transition. The whole transition must be finished by Jan. 1, 2012.

"We will work under NSPS for the time being, while we are working on the transition plan," Curry said. "When we're at the point where employees come out of the system, ... the law ensures that no employee's pay will be reduced when converting out of NSPS."

Employees outside of NSPS are not affected by the change.

Curry's office is also studying the new law's other civilian personnel ramifications. He said these include requirements for performance management, hiring flexibilities, training requirements and the department's ability to go back to Congress for added personnel flexibilities.

"We're looking at what that means and how to proceed,"
Curry said. "We're just assessing the impact and how to move forward."

The major complaint about NSPS was that it was overly complicated and that no employee understood the pay pool process, Curry said, pledging that department officials will take the lessons from the NSPS experience as it moves ahead.

"We'll be particularly mindful of issues surrounding complexity and transparency," he said. "Those are certainly important considerations to ensure employees understand and accept and buy into any rules that will be put in place."

Civilian employees under NSPS finished a rating cycle at the end of September. These workers will receive performance ratings and payouts effective in January under NSPS, Curry said. A provision of the act requires that employees with Level 2 ratings or higher are guaranteed a pay increase in January that's at least equivalent to the pay increase that applies to General Schedule employees.

Willard Looks to Partnerships in Pacific

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 28, 2009 - Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard made his Hollywood debut as the Soviet MiG pilot who challenged Tom Cruise's character – known by the call sign "Mustang" – to an exhilarating dogfight before meeting his demise in the 1986 "Top Gun" blockbuster.
While serving as operations and executive officer at the Navy's "Top Gun" Fighter Weapons School at the time, Willard was aerial coordinator for the movie. That got him a short, but pivotal, on-screen appearance as the pilot of an F-14 fighter jet painted black and embellished for the movie with a MiG-style fin flash on its tail.

"I kept looking back over my shoulder, and another missile was on its way," Willard recalled of the dogfight scene in which he ultimately was shot down. "It was very exciting."

More than two decades later, in his new role as the top U.S. officer in the Pacific, Willard doesn't have the luxury of being able to fixate on a single, Warsaw Pact-type threat. His vast region of responsibility, which stretches across half the world's surface and includes half its population in 36 countries, enjoys a relative peace. But its tensions, like its volatile geology, are bubbling just at or slightly below the surface.

North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs and China's military buildup and lack of transparency loom large. Terrorist activity threatens Indonesia, the Philippines and most recently, India. Other challenges range from piracy to the proliferation of technology for weapons of mass destruction.

Willard sat down with reporters last week in Seoul, South Korea, just two days after assuming command, to discuss these and other challenges and his vision for U.S. Pacific Command.

"I love this region of the world," he said. "The Asia-Pacific region, to me, is extremely complex [and] has a great history associated with it."

As he spoke, Willard had yet to set foot into his new headquarters office at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, perched on a mountain with a majestic view of Pearl Harbor. After consultative sessions in South Korea last week and an off-site defense chiefs conference in Hawaii this week, Willard said, he was looking forward to getting settled into his new office and getting down to business with his new staff.

North Korea is high on his priority list.

"A nuclear-armed North Korea, and a North Korea that chooses to provoke and ... may be on the brink of succession – all those things make North Korea worthy of our attention now," he said. "North Korea needs to be watched very closely."

Meanwhile, China is expanding its military might at "an unprecedented rate," Willard said, exceeding U.S. intelligence estimates every year for the past decade. Equally troubling, China also has obtained "asymmetric capabilities that are concerning to the region," including anti-access capabilities, ballistic missiles and sophisticated weaponry.

And even the historically rock-solid alliance with Japan is demanding more attention these days, as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's new government reassesses security agreements made by previous administrations.

Willard told reporters he's intent on strengthening the five U.S. alliances in the region and bringing new partners, including China, into the fold.

China abruptly halted all military-to-military engagement when the United States announced arms sales to Taiwan in October 2008. But now that China has demonstrated a willingness to re-engage, Willard wants to increase the interface and take the relationship to a new level.

"China is not our enemy," he said. "We look forward to a constructive relationship with China and their constructive contribution to the security of the Asia-Pacific region."

Willard said he'll work to promote more multilateralism in a region that historically has been characterized by bilateral relationships with the United States. "Ten years ago, the Asia-Pacific was, by and large, a place where ... countries were very comfortable talking one-on-one with the United States or with other partners, but rarely together," he said.

Although that's been improving, Willard said, current challenges facing the region demand even closer cooperation. He pointed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the power of like-minded nations engaging together, as valuable lessons for the Pacific.

"We are looking for as many partners ... as we can find in the region," he said.

As he takes on these challenges, Willard brings to the job extensive experience in the Pacific, both operationally, as a Navy pilot, and in command positions.

Most recently, he spent two and a half years commanding U.S. Pacific Fleet, the world's largest fleet command, with its 180 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 125,000 sailors and Marines. He previously commanded the Fighter Squadron 51 "Screaming Eagles"; the amphibious flagship USS Tripoli; the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln out of Everett, Wash.; Carrier Group 5 aboard USS Kitty Hawk; and 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.

While he's already putting his experience to work, Willard conceded that the top Pacom job demands an entirely different focus.

"This is a more strategic level of command than the components are, and as a consequence, it will be a little different level of engagement," he said. "It's a new experience for me, and I very much look forward to it."

To help in preparing himself, Willard spent the past couple months consulting with think-tank and Asia experts and working with a small transition team to ensure a smooth transition to his new post.

He noted during his Oct. 19 assumption of command ceremony the vast changes that have taken place in Asia and the Pacific in recent decades. The one constant, he said, has been Asia's growing importance, not just to the region, but to the world.

Willard said he'll work tirelessly to ensure Pacom lives up to the challenges, and sends an unmistakable message of U.S. commitment to Asia and the Pacific.

"Our nation's interests are here," he said.