Military News

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Hails Troops, Families at Commander in Chief's Ball

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 21, 2009 - President Barack Obama saluted U.S. troops and their families, paying special tribute to wounded warriors and families of the fallen, during an inaugural ball last night that included a live videoconference with deployed Illinois National Guardsmen. "Tonight isn't simply about the inauguration of an American president," Obama told the audience at the Commander in Chief's Inaugural Ball. "It's a celebration of our military and our military families, so going forward you will have our support and our respect."

The ball, co-hosted by the senior enlisted advisors of the five branches of the armed forces, and attended by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the service chiefs, was among 10 official inaugural balls the president and first lady Michelle Obama attended last night.

Obama pledged that he, along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, would work tirelessly to serve thoise who have served the nation in uniform.

"Every single day that I am in the White House, I will try to serve you as well as you are serving the United States of America," Obama told the group, which included about 300 wounded warriors, families of fallen servicemembers and military families.

"It is wonderful to be surrounded by some of the very best and bravest Americans," Obama said. "Your courage, grace and your patriotism inspire us all. To you, and to all those watching around the world, know that as president, I will have no greater honor or responsibility than serving as your commander in chief."

Obama said the celebration was made somber by the knowledge that many U.S. troops are serving in harm's way.

He spoke to some of those troops -- members of the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team -- during a live video feed from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Brown, the top enlisted soldier in Task Force Phoenix, rendered the new commander in chief his first presidential "hooah" and introduced his fellow soldiers, many from the Chicago area.

Bowman invited Obama to return to Kabul to "sit down with some of the great Afghans we work with."

"As we develop their security forces," he continued, "come on back when you get a chance, sir."

Obama bantered with the troops about Chicago neighborhoods and baseball teams, then turned serious as he thanked them for their service and pledged his support.

"No matter where you are from, we are all grateful to you for your outstanding service," he said. "You make us proud, and we are going to do everything we can to make your work go smoother."

Obama told the troops they need to know that "every single American, regardless of party, regardless of what their politics are, support you, and will always support you."

As the United States fights two wars and faces dangerous threats to its security, "we depend on the men and women of our armed forces to keep us safe," he said.

Obama noted that service and sacrifice extend to the families that stand behind the men and women in uniform.

"Every time a serviceman [deploys], there is an empty seat at the table back home, and a family that has to bear an extra burden," he said. "And that's why tonight we don't just salute our troops, we salute the military families who have earned the respect of a grateful nation."

The president reiterated the call he made during his inaugural speech for the United States to embrace the deeply held values upon which the nation's foundation was built. "While the tests we face are new, and the ways in which we meet them may be new, the values on which our success depends are old," he said.

"Those values -- like hard work and honesty, courage and tolerance, loyalty and patriotism -- those are values that are embodied in our armed forces," the president said.

Student Leader Attends Inauguration, Soaks Up History

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 21, 2009 - When the invitation to attend the inauguration of then-President-elect Barack Obama arrived in Candace Water's mailbox in the Netherlands around Thanksgiving, it was nearly classified with the rest of the junk mail. "At first my mom was like, 'I don't think you're going to be able to go,'" Waters, the daughter of Air Force Lt. Col. Esau and Venetia Waters, said. "Well, she said no, but I knew she meant yes, because that's just how she is. Then my dad said no, but I knew she would persuade him to say yes.

"I wasn't really worried ... I knew I was going to go," the 17-year-old senior at Allied Forces North International High School in Brunssum said.

True to her prediction, Waters, accompanied by her mom, accepted the invitation to participate in the Presidential Youth Leadership Conference sponsored by LeadAmerica. The program exists to inspire and empower the world's youth to achieve their full potential, according to its Web site.

Waters' accomplishments led to her inaugural invitation. She participated in the 2008 Global Leadership Summit, a college-accredited invitational leadership program. At the end of the summit, she was chosen as one of four recipients of the Kofi Anan Secretary General's Award for outstanding leadership, which earned her a place in the Presidential Youth Leadership Conference and led to the coveted invitation.

The excitement she felt before arriving in the nation's capital did nothing but grow as the LeadAmerica delegation of 600-plus students attended several events tied to the inauguration, Waters said. The inauguration itself was the intended highlight of the events the students attended, and Waters said being a close to the stage was fantastic, despite the cold.

A few fortunate conference members scored seats at the ceremony. "There were 22 tickets for 22 students picked randomly from my conference," she said. "I wasn't one of those 22 students [with a seat at the inauguration, but where I was standing was really, really, really close. I could see everything.

"It was just ... ridiculously cold," she said.

But the memory she said she is most eager to share with her friends was the Jan. 18 "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert included musical performances by U2, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and will.i.am, as well as appearances by actors Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx, to name a few. It also included a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., a day ahead of the national observance of the civil rights leader's birthday.

"The inauguration in itself was exciting," Waters said. "The concert tops the whole entire inauguration, because it was so nice."

With all the excitement, including a LeadAmerica inaugural ball, over, Waters headed for home today, having seen the first African-American president of the United States sworn into office, something her mother never thought she'd witness.

"It's something you can live to tell your grandkids and your kids about," her mother said. "I thought it was really, really amazing."

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 21, 2009

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

United Technologies, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a minimum $120,526,032 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity, sole source contract for engines. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Navy and Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This modification is exercising the fifth option period of a ten-year contract with a three-year base period and provisions for seven one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is Feb. 14, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center, Richmond (DSCR, Richmond, Va., (SPM400-01-D-9405).

ARMY

L-3 Services, Inc., Alexandria, Va., was awarded on Jan. 16, 2009, a $34,591,288 IDIQ/LH firm fixed price contract for Office Chief of Public Affairs strategic communications support services. Work will be performed at Washington, D.C., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2012. Bids were solicited on the Web with three bids received. Contracting Center of Excellence, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., is the contracting agency (W91WAW-09-D-0006).

AAI Corp., Hunt Valley, Md., was awarded on Jan. 16, 2009, a $12,162,558 firm fixed price Definitization of Letter Contract Modification (P00012) for the purchase of 25 Laser Designator Retrofit Kits for the SHADOW Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The Shadow UAS provides flexible and responsive near real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, battle damage assessment, and battle management support to Army Ground Maneuver Commanders. Work will be performed at Hunt Valley, Md., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0023).

TEXTRON MARINE & LAND SYSEMS, DIVISION OF TEXTRON INC., New Orleans, La., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2009, a $43,747,620 firm fixed price contract so U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Command Contracting Center may exercise the option to purchase 60 each armored security vehicles from Textron Marine & Land Systems. Work will be performed at New Orleans, La., with an estimated completion date of Jun. 30, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Tank & Automotive Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-C-0470).

EADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2009, a $25,588,548 firm fixed price contract for funding of the Army's Light Utility Helicopter contract for five (5) Light Utility Helicopters (UH-72A), two (2) MEDEVAC B-Kits, two (2) Hoist B-Kits, two (2) Environmental Control Units, and two (2) MEDEVAC Mission Equipment Packages. Work will be performed at Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 1, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0194).

NAVY

First RF Corporation, Boulder, Colo., is being awarded a ceiling $75,000,000 firm fixed priced, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for the FRF-115H, High Power Directional Antenna. Work will be performed in Boulder, Colo., and work is expected to be completed will be Jan. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was solicited through a Request for Proposal, No., M67854-08-R-7049. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity M67854-09-D-7049.

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $28,291,742 cost plus incentive fee order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for non-recurring engineering for the design, integration, test, validation and verification of two flight-worthy synthetic radar Virtual Mission Training System (VMTS) retrofit kits for the U.S. Navy T-45C trainer aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo. (83 percent) an d Haifa, Israel (17 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, N.Y., is being awarded an $8,509,598 cost plus fix fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00421-05-G-0001) to provide three System Interrogator/Transponder Set RT1645 Weapon Replaceable Assemblies and five Shop Replaceable Assemblies for the Japanese Foreign Military Sales (FMS) E-2C aircraft program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y., and is expected to be completed in Dec. 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.

DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY

Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Inc., McLean, Virginia was awarded a $11,204,437 firm fixed price performance-based task order. This task order is for operations and network defense personnel to support the Joint Task F43-09orce – Global Network Operations. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, National Capital Region, is the contracting activity (HC1028-08-D-2023-VC04).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Dixie Chemical Co., Incorporated, Houston, Texas,* is being awarded a minimum $10,355,053 firm fixed price, total set aside contract for production, storage and distribution of fuel. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Navy, Air Force, Federal Civilian Agencies and Defense Contractors. This proposal was originally Web solicited on FedBizOps with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jan. 19, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, San Antonio, Texas (SP0600-09-D-1518).

The Boeing Co., Mesa, Ariz., is being awarded a minimum $6,421,074 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity, sole source contract for military unique items with AMC code of 3. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army and Air Force. There was originally 1 proposal solicited with 1 response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., (SPM4AG-08-D-9002).

Senate Confirms Clinton as Secretary of State

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 21, 2009 - The Senate voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to confirm Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and as a member of President Barack Obama's national security team. The Senate confirmed Clinton's nomination by a 94-to-2 vote.

Clinton has represented New York since her election in 2000 and has served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She supported military action in Afghanistan, but opposed recent actions in Iraq. In the Senate, she sponsored legislation to increase the size of the Army and has consistently worked to help military families.

Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at her confirmation hearing she looks forward to working with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. She noted Gates' distinguished record of service to the country and belief in a strong partnership between the Defense and State departments.

As it works to take on more responsibility in foreign policy, she added, the State Department will have to work to disprove the presumption that the military can move more quickly and work more effectively.

"I'm working with Secretary Gates," the senator said. "He's very open to cooperative efforts. But we have to prove that we can shoulder this responsibility." She cited the need to prove the State Department can handle stabilization, reconstruction and other "outcomes-oriented development aid" quickly and without enormous bureaucracy.

Clinton emphasized during her confirmation hearing the importance of diplomacy in promoting national security.

"Diplomacy is hard work, but when we work hard, diplomacy can work -- not just to diffuse tensions, but achieve results that advance our security, interests and values," she said.