Military News

Friday, January 09, 2009

Face of Defense: Vermont Guardsman Crashes Truck, Then Wins Bobsled Event

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 9, 2009 - Despite rolling his truck on a snowy road while driving to the 2009 U.S. National Bobsled Championships on Jan. 3, Army Pfc. John Napier of the Vermont National Guard won the two-man crown at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y. Napier was driving his 1999 Dodge Ram along an unplowed, snowy, back road from Saranac Lake when he lost control, drove into a snow bank, and rolled the truck onto its top and side for an upside-down slide on the icy road.

"My tire just went off the pavement, and it was on a corner so I couldn't correct -- it was a bad spot -- and it just sucked my truck right off the road into a bank, and the bank flipped the car," Napier said. "The snow was only a couple feet deep, but it was just enough to flip me over.

"It slid about 30 feet on the icy road," he said. "While I was upside down, I thought, 'This is just like being in a bobsled.' I eventually had to crawl out the passenger window."

Napier, a bobsledder in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, was fortunate to walk away with only bruised ribs and his bobsled gear. He called a friend, who gave him a ride to the track while his truck was being towed away.

The accident occurred around 11 a.m., and Napier planned to arrive at the track at 11:30. He got there at 12:30 p.m. -- just in time to make his warm-up runs before completing two heats that left Napier and teammate Cory Butner in first place by one-tenth of a second. Their combined time was 1 minute, 53.5 seconds.

"I was just a little beat up with some bruised ribs," said Napier, who added that the setback did not affect his bobsled driving ability.

The next day, the duo held on to win the event by .30 of a second over former WCAP driver Army Sgt. Mike Kohn, now a member of the National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program, who finished runner-up in the two-man championships.

With the victory, Napier earned a berth in the 2009 World Championships, scheduled for Feb. 20 through March 1 in Lake Placid.

Napier, 22, the son of former bobsled national contender Bill Napier, has been bobsledding since he was 8. He enlisted in the Vermont Army National Guard in June 2007 as an engineer, and joined WCAP last May. He said he credits the Army and WCAP/Team USA Bobsled coach Army Sgt. William Tavares for helping to further his Olympic dream.

"When I joined the Army, I knew a couple of our best bobsledders had been in the World Class Athlete Program, and I had seen what it did for them," Napier recalled of his developmental years competing against the likes of former WCAP athletes Kohn and Steven Holcomb.

"I saw how difficult my future was going to be in this sport," he said. "Right now, I wouldn't be able to slide without WCAP -- there's no way because all of the bills we have to pay are the driver's responsibility.

"Equipment is on the driver," he explained. "The runners we buy are about $5,000 a pair, and we have to have multiple pairs because different runners go faster at different tracks. I saw how great the program was for those guys and how it made it feasible for them to slide. Without it, there's no other income for a driver, and it's a full-time job.

"We're trying to be the best in the world so we need to dedicate our time to training, to bobsledding. There's just no other program out there that makes it possible," he added.

Napier will compete in the Four-man Bobsled National Championships this weekend on his hometown track in Lake Placid. He needs to finish first or runner-up to Holcomb's sled to earn another berth on Team USA for the upcoming World Championships.

"In the past, I've been a little bit stronger in the four-man sled because I'm able to make up a little more distance on the push," said Napier, a 6-foot, 200-pounder. "My deficit is that I'm just a little bit smaller of a driver, size-wise and weight-wise, so I'm not able to contribute as much on the push. That's why in four-man I'm a little bit better."

The national championships was held in conjunction with the 4th Annual Whelen Bodine Bobsled Challenge, which was supported by the New York National Guard and where Guard combat veterans had a chance to race.

SPEED channel will televise four hours of the championships and the Bodine Bobsled Challenge on Jan. 18 at noon and Jan. 25 at 2 pm.

(Tim Hipps serves in the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center public affairs office.)

Department Keeps Commitment to Stress Care, Official Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 9, 2009 - The Defense Department is deeply committed to providing the best care possible for military members with post-traumatic stress disorder, despite the determination that the disorder does not meet the criteria for the Purple Heart, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said yesterday. The decision, announced earlier this week, followed months of evaluation by awards experts in the Pentagon Awards Advisory Group. The group used "very precise criteria" and longstanding historical definitions in making its determination, Morrell said during a Pentagon briefing.

"I don't think anybody should assume that that decision is in any way reflective on how seriously we take the problem of PTSD," he said.

"So, just because an awards committee believes this particular injury does not qualify for this award, does not in any way reflect that we don't take this problem seriously and aren't committed to doing everything we possibly can towards preventing it, towards treating it, towards taking care of those who are suffering with it," he said.

Morrell noted the heavy investment the Defense Department has made into preventing and treating PTSD.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted in November that recent studies suggest as many as 20 percent of today's troops may suffer from the disorder.

"I think we will have spent about a billion dollars on research, development, treatment, preventative measures," Morrell said. "And I think you will see more and more money being spent to combat this very real problem that we are all terribly concerned with."

As one example, the Defense Department broke ground in June for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence for psychological health and traumatic brain injury at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. That $70 million, 75,000-square-foot facility, funded by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, will serve as the clinical research and educational arm of the Defense Department's Center of Excellence for psychological health and TBI.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates toured another facility, the Restoration and Resilience Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, in May, calling the care it provides soldiers with PTSD as an example of the new approaches the military is exploring.

"They are doing some amazing things here in terms of helping soldiers who want to remain soldiers, but who have been wounded with post-traumatic stress disorder," he said. "It is a multi-month effort by a lot of caring people, and they are showing some real success in restoring these soldiers."

Also, the military has implemented better reporting mechanisms for those potentially affected, and the Defense Department has launched departmentwide efforts aimed at reducing the stigma attached with receiving mental health services in the military.

Gates took his appeal directly to senior noncommissioned officers attending the Sergeants Major Academy during his visit to Fort Bliss.

"All of you have a special role in encouraging troops to seek help for the unseen scars of war -- to let them know that doing so is a sign of strength and maturity," Gates told the NCOs. "I urge you all to talk with those below you to find out where we can continue to improve.

"Those who have sacrificed for our nation deserve the best care they can get," Gates continued. "As I have said before, there is no higher priority for the Department of Defense, after the war itself, than caring for our wounded warriors."

Obama Announces Intelligence Director, CIA Chief Picks

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 9, 2009 - President-elect Barack Obama announced his choices for the nation's new top intelligence official and CIA chief at a news conference held here today. Retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair, Obama told reporters, is his pick to become the new director of national intelligence, while Leon E. Panetta, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, is his nominee for CIA director.

"I am confident that Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta are the right leaders to advance the work of our intelligence community," Obama said. "They are public servants with unquestioned integrity, broad experience, strong management skills, and the core pragmatism we need in dangerous times."

The intelligence director oversees 16 intelligence agencies, including the CIA and intelligence components of the military services, and reports directly to the president. The position was established in December 2004 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The CIA director heads America's best-known clandestine intelligence-gathering organization. The CIA was established in 1947, essentially replacing the Office of Strategic Services that was created during World War II.

Blair's impressive qualifications and wide experience suit him well to become the next intelligence director, Obama said. The former U.S. Pacific Command chief "has seen the diverse uses of intelligence from many different perspectives," he said. Blair retired from the Navy in 2002.

Obama cited Blair "as someone who has handled intelligence as a sailor at sea, and as a strategic thinker in Washington." As the intelligence director, the former four-star admiral "will have the expertise and authority to ensure that our 16 intelligence agencies act with unity of effort and purpose," Obama said.

Turning to his pick for CIA director, Obama praised Panetta as "one of the finest public servants of our time." Obama observed that Panetta, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has "committed himself to his country since he put on the uniform of the U.S. Army." Panetta served as an Army officer from 1964 to 1966.

With Panetta at its helm, the CIA "will have a director who has my complete trust and substantial clout," Obama said.

Panetta, who also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration, "knows how to focus resources where they are needed, and he has a proven track record of building consensus and working on a bipartisan basis with Congress," he said.

Obama also announced that CIA veteran John O. Brennan will be his homeland security advisor and deputy national security advisor for counterterrorism.

"The demands on the intelligence community are huge and growing," Obama observed. "To have a successful national security strategy, I have made it clear that we will need to deploy and balance all elements of American power -- our military, diplomacy, homeland security, economic might and moral persuasion.

"Good intelligence work is necessary to support each of these endeavors," Obama said.

Defense Department to Develop National Cyber Testbed

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

an. 9, 2009 - The Defense Department is developing a national "cyber range" to test cybersecurity technology and reduce the vulnerability of government computer systems to networks attacks. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials announced yesterday that they awarded contracts to seven companies to come up with detailed engineering plans to design and build the new testbed. Over the next eight months, each contractor will lead a team of businesses, universities and federal laboratories in the first phase of the National Cyber Range program. DARPA will select from the plans to build the full-scale facility.

"What we are doing is creating kind of a 'Consumer Reports' or an underwriter laboratory-type facility to bring in different types of computer equipment to test and see how secure they are," DARPA Program Manager Dr. Michael VanPutte explained.

The facility is to take current testing for government research and development programs to a whole new level -- making it faster and broader and automating much of the manual procedures involved.

"I see it as advancing the state-of-the-art of cyber testing," VanPutte said.

The goal, he said, is to identify the most promising security solutions for future computer systems. But the testbed also will help identify and shore up yet-unrecognized vulnerabilities in current systems.

"Today, we really don't have a way to know how secure our solutions are," VanPutte said. "It's like in the dark ages of building cathedrals. We don't understand the science of security. So we are building the national cyber range in order to bring in potential solutions and really stress them and test them in a carefully controlled environment."

The effort, part of the interagency Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative announced last year, will benefit researchers not just in the Defense Department, but at all federal departments and agencies.

"This is a national testbed, not a [Defense Department] one," VanPutte said. "So the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the [Director of National Intelligence] can all come use this testbed when it is up and running."

The testbed will help prevent network attacks that VanPutte said have become "a common and increasing occurrence."

"The national cyber range, ultimately, will help provide our leaders and warfighters with greater assurance that our citizens, businesses and our armed forces will be protected against damaging cyber attacks," he said.

Melissa Hathaway, director of the Joint Interagency Cyber Task Force, said addressing vulnerabilities within the U.S. computer network infrastructure must become a long-term priority for national and economic security.

"I don't believe that this is a single-year or even a multi-year investment," she said. "It's a multi-decade approach."

Army General Apologizes for Misprinted Letters

By Lindy Kyzer
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 9, 2009 - The Army's adjutant general apologized yesterday on behalf of the Army for a printing error that resulted in the delivery of 7,000 letters without a by-name salutation to family members who lost a soldier in operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Brig. Gen. Reuben Jones expressed his disappointment in the error and his team's concern for the recipients during a special blogger's roundtable hosted by the New Media Directorate of Defense Media Activity.

The letters, which included the placeholder greeting of "Dear John Doe," were printed and sent by a contractor in late December to inform families of private organizations that offer services and assistance.

"I can tell you, I know our pain isn't what our family members' pain is about receiving this, but I have a team of dedicated young Americans who are on a first-name basis with many of these survivors, and they feel this hurt just as bad," Jones told the bloggers and online journalists. "But they are marching on because they know that their intent was to connect with them and provide them information on the generosity of our nation that has come to the Army and said, 'We want to help.'"

Jones did not go into the details about who made the mistake, but said contracting officials would look into the error and how it happened. Jones said his team's focus now is on the families. Each family will receive a letter of apology from Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George Casey.

"We work so hard to build that trust and a relationship with our families so they know that they're still part of this Army team, because they have been strong families for this strong Army," Jones said.

The letters were sent as a part of the Survivor Outreach Services program, which sends the families of fallen soldiers regular correspondence and ensures they have regular contact with Army representatives. The program, launched in February, continues to build a closer, stronger bond with spouses and family members, Jones said.

"Survivors are part of that family for as long as they desire," Jones said. "We will give that support to them, day in, day out .... One part of our covenant, our warrior ethos says -- it's the last line -- and it says that we will never leave a fallen comrade. We expand that to say that we will never leave a family behind either."

The program not only reaches out to families, but also offers families the means to reach out to the Army with their needs and suggestions.


"We continue to connect with our families, receive their comments and feedback on what we can do better," Jones said. "This is a program that we say, hey, tell us what else we can do."

The misprinted letter, a part of regular SOS outreach to families, included links to dozens of organizations offering services and assistance to the families of fallen soldiers. For a listing of the organizations included on the letter, visit https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/Active/TAGD/CMAOC/ALTFCM/programs.html.

(Lindy Kyzer is a public affairs specialist with the Department of the Army).

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 9, 2009

NAVY

Lockheed Martin, Maritime Systems and Sensors, Moorestown, N.J., is being awarded a $51,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee letter contract for FY09 Aegis Platform Systems Engineering Agent (PSEA) activities and Aegis Modernization (AMOD) Advanced Capability Build (ACB 12) engineering. The PSEA will manage the in-service combat systems configurations as well as the integration of new or upgraded capability, including AMOD, into the CG 47 and the DDG 51 Class Ships. AMOD consists of ACB 12 software and Technical Instruction 12 hardware. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract for the first year's period of performance to $192,500,716. Work will be performed in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be completed by December 2009. 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 Navy Yard, D.C, is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-5103).

Raytheon Company, Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $44,335,934 modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5361 for engineering and technical services in support of Standard Missile research, development, test, and evaluation programs. The work performed under this modification includes flowdown of top level requirements; predicting and monitoring missile performance and reliability; internal/ external interfaces; interfaces with ship combat systems; interfaces with test and packaging, handling, storage and transportation equipment; improving missile design; and maintaining the technical data package. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by December 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Walker Power Systems, Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., is being awarded a maximum $17,287,442 fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for an upgraded external auxiliary power unit to provide power to multiple systems while the M1A1 main engine is not on. The objective system will provide greater power, increased reliability, and less noise than the current model. The contract contains three one-year options. The initial amount to be obligated is $6,600,000. The maximum total dollar amount to be awarded under this contract is $17,287,442 which includes the initial order quantity and additional options. Work will be performed in Phoenix, Ariz., and work is expected to be completed December 2009. This contract was competitively procured through full and open competition via Navy Electronic Commerce Office, with four offers received. The Marine Corps System Command in Quantico, Va., is the procuring contracting activity (M67854-09-C-6005).

ITT Industries Advanced Engineering & Sciences Division, Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $7,896,524 cost-plus-fixed-fee term contract for scientific, engineering, technical and analytical support for a wide range of research and information technology service activities for the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Center for High Assurance Computer Systems. This contract contains options, which if exercised, will bring the cumulative contract value to $42,223,954. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C., and work is expected to be completed in Dec. 2010 (with options exercised Dec 2014). Contract funds in the amount of $235,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under a Naval Research Laboratory Request for Proposal N000173-08-R-TB09. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contacting activity (N000173-09-C-2053)

Honeywell International, Inc., Defense and Space Electronic Systems, Albuquerque, N.M., is being awarded a not-to-exceed $5,736,465 modification to a previously awarded undefinitized contract action (N00019-09-C-0004) for the procurement of 6 Block II Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) systems, including associated support equipment, spares, training, and engineering and logistics support for the United Kingdom under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Albuquerque, N.M., and is expected to be completed in June 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is awarding an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract to Johns Hopkins University, Laurel Maryland for $24,000,000. This contact will provide Electronic Warfare Capability Development Analyses and Support. At this time, no money has been obligated. HQ 577 AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8626-09-D-2099).

The Air Force is awarding a firm, fixed Price contract with the Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington for $12,050,000. This contract is for C-32A Communication Equipment Subscription Service for CY09. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. ASC/655th AESS/SYKA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (F33657-01-D-0013).

The Air Force is awarding a firm, fixed price contract to Hamilton Sundstrand, Hamilton Road Windsor Locks, Connecticut for an estimated $6,214,886. This contract will provide Repair/Overhaul of Digital Electronic Engine Controls, Engine Diagnostic Units and associated parts to F15 and F16 aircraft. At this time no money has been obligated. 448 SCMB/PKBB, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma is the contracting activity (FA8104-08-D-0002).

ARMY

Weston Solutions, Incorporated, West Chester, Pa., was awarded on Jan 8, 2009, a $13,599,275 firm/fixed/price contract for Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA) for Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) of Public Beaches at Surf City and Ship Bottom, Long Beach Island (LBI), Ocean County, NJ. Work will be performed at Surf City and Ship Bottom, Long Beach Island, NJ with an estimated completion date of May 22, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (W912WJ-05-D-0009).

Fluorescent Protein Holds Promise for Disease Treatment, Prevention

By John Ohab
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 9, 2009 - A fluorescent protein discovered in jellyfish has enabled scientists to visualize molecular and cellular events in real time, a leading U.S. biochemical researcher said yesterday. Roger Tsien, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, won the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his role in developing the green fluorescent protein known as "GFP," and spoke about his research to "Dot Mil Docs" listeners on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Using this protein, researchers now can track processes that were previously invisible, such as the cell-to-cell transmission of HIV and the activity of cancer cells in a developing tumor.

"GFP gave us the first way to link molecular biology to something we could see," Tsein said. "When genes or proteins are made, scientists can now see directly when and where these molecular biological events occurred. We can actually watch processes in continuous movies inside living organisms."

Tsien's work with two colleagues, Martin Chalfie and Osamu Shimomura, has redefined molecular imaging and led to the development of tools for treating a variety of devastating illnesses. Tsien credited these achievements to his laboratory and collaborators, whose work over 40 years made GFP an irreplaceable tool in bioscience research. He said he was thrilled to be a part of the Nobel experience, which included talks at schools throughout Sweden and interesting discussions with fellow Nobel Laureates.

"The Nobel Prize is for Sweden what the Oscars or the Super Bowl are for Americans," he said. "It's on [their] national TV like the Oscar ceremony [here], and I got to sit next to the royal family. This is not something you experience in the ordinary research life."

Currently, Tsien is investigating new ways to defeat breast cancer as part of the Breast Cancer Research Program, a congressionally directed medical research program funded by the Defense Department.

"We have funding to develop a new way of targeting synthetic molecules that could be used to identify tumors and eventually treat them," Tsien said. "We wanted to do something that could be applied to real patients."

Tsien has created a kind of "molecular nametag" that would be used for early identification of cancer cells in patients.

"This is a way to light up tumors for early detection and during surgeries, in particular, to help the surgeon hone in on a millimeter by millimeter scale exactly where the tumor cells are and where the boundary is for normal cells and actually do that at real time," Tsien said. "We tried to use this biochemistry to actually make the tumor glow. That will guide the surgeon much more accurately than simply cutting out a hunk and waiting for the pathologist to declare whether you have a healthy margin around the dissected specimen."

In addition, Tsien said, he hopes this research will provide tools for more focused chemo and radiation therapies and improve early detection of other diseases, such as stroke and atherosclerosis. He hopes to continue his pursuit of creative and innovative research endeavors that will ultimately impact human health.

"It's a great thrill to win the Nobel Prize, but you have to come back to reality. I've still got the same research challenges and everyday [duties] as everybody else," he said.

(John Ohab is attached to the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Military Police Dogs to Have Their Day as Part of Inauguration

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 9, 2009 - If, as the saying goes, every dog has its day, then four military police dogs certainly will have theirs when they help to provide security for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. "The dogs that are going to be going out there ... [are] patrol certified," Army Staff Sgt. Sarah Goulart, training noncommissioned officer in charge for the 947th Military Police Detachment, said. "That means they can do security missions, [and] if they need to be released on somebody, they can be released to detain them."

Since the unit, part of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, or "The Old Guard," regularly supports the president and the Secret Service, it's all in a day's work for these dogs, Goulart said. They put in at least four hours a week in both explosives detection and patrol training.

Mike, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, is one of the four dogs whose training has led him to the plum assignment of providing security on Inauguration Day.

His handler, Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Konrardy, has no doubts about his four-legged partner's ability to handle the craziness of the day.

"Have you ever seen the series, '24' with Kiefer Southerland? I kind of expect that, just every hour things just being so busy and changing," he said. "Hopefully nobody gets real close to my dog."

The dogs are very good with crowds, Konrardy said. The only thing that sets Mike off is gunfire.

"Hopefully we won't be hearing any gunfire," he said.

The dog and handler had a rather unpromising beginning before their relationship straightened out. Mike's attitude had caused him to be passed over by every other handler coming into the kennel, Konrardy said.

"Finally I got here, and he was the only one left," Konrardy said. "[I showed] him a lot of love, and it worked. He's a good dog. He's just special."


In this case, "special" is code for "relative of Jaws."


"He loves biting things," Konrardy said. "He lost three of his [canine teeth], or parts of three of his canines, from just biting things.


"He's a masochist. He loves pain," he joked. "I'm not a dog psychologist, but I'd be interested to have him looked at by one." At first, Mike's favorite thing to bite was his handler, Konrardy said, which resulted in several shredded Army combat uniforms.


Konrardy said he and Mike will start their Inauguration Day duties in support of the Secret Service on Jan. 15, with a Jan. 23 end date.


As impressive as their upcoming mission sounds, it's part of everyday life for the military dogs of the 947th MP Detachment.

"We get a lot of Secret Service missions," Konrardy said. "This Christmas, me and Mike were up at Camp David. We were just searching vehicles up there."