Military News

Friday, January 30, 2009

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 30, 2009

NAVY

The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., is being awarded a $146,156,130 cost plus incentive fee contract for a Trident II (D5) MK6 Life Extension Guidance System. Work will be performed in Clearwater, Fla., (35 percent); Plymouth, Minn., (27 percent); Bloomington, Minn., (16 percent), Cambridge, Mass., (12 percent); Pittsfield, Mass., (10 percent), and work is expected to be completed Dec. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Strategic systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (N00030-09-C-0011).

Pave-Tech, Inc.*, Carlsbad, Calif., is being awarded $13,995,000 for firm fixed price task order #0002 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-09-D-1605) for concrete and lighting repairs of Runway 13R-31L at Naval Air Station, Fallon. Work will be performed in Fallon, Nev., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

IAP World Services, Inc., Cape Canaveral, Fla., is being awarded a $13,352,747 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for base operating support services at Naval Support Activity Annapolis. The work to be performed provides for all labor, supervision, management, tools, materials, equipment, facilities, transportation, and other items to provide services included, but not limited to, operation and maintenance of the Central Heating Plant, Water Treatment Plant, Waste Water Treatment Plant, utility systems, sustainment of site utilities, infrastructure, building structures and systems, and transportation. The contract also contains eight unexercised options, which if exercised would increase cumulative contract value to $179,829,122. Work will be performed in Annapolis, Md., and work is expected to be completed Nov. 30, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Online Website, with five proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington D.C., Public Works Department Annapolis, Annapolis, Md., is the contracting activity (N40080-09-D-0512).

Eastern GCR, LLC, JV*, Pinehurst, N.C., is being awarded a $9,461,295 modification under a previously awarded firm fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract (N40080-05-D-3002) to exercise Option 3 for small business base operating support services at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River Complex. The work to be performed provides for all managerial, supervision, labor, tools, materials, equipment and transportation necessary to provide janitorial, portable toilets, pest control, grounds maintenance, snow removal, street sweeping and transportation services. The current total contract amount after exercise of this option is $34,181,276. Work will be performed primarily at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md., (79 percent); Webster Outlying Field, St. Inigoes, Md., (19 precent); and Solomons Recreation Center, Solomons, Md., (2 percent), and work is expected to be completed Jan. 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineer Command, Washington, Public Works Department, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

T. B. Penick & Sons, Inc., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded $7,625,101 for firm fixed price task order #0004 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-08-D-8612) for design and construction of a Combined Child Care and Youth Center at the Naval Air Facility, El Centro. The contract also contains two unexercised options, which if exercised would increase cumulative contract value to $8,223,724. Work will be performed in El Centro, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Jul. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $6,490,441 cost plus fixed fee order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) to assess and define the static structural and fatigue capabilities of the LITENING Targeting Pod to support a Fleet flight clearance for carriage on weapons station four of the F/A-18A-D aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., (60 percent); Patuxent River, Md., (20 percent); El Segundo, Calif., (10 percent); and Rolling Meadows, Ill., (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in Apr. 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $2,743,444 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Propper International, Inc., Mayaquez, Puerto Rico is being awarded a maximum $74,293,980 firm fixed price, total set aside, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery contract for Army Combat Uniform, coats and trousers. Other locations of performance are in Puerto Rico. Using service is Army. The proposal was originally Web solicited with 36 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM100-05-D-0408).

American Apparel, Inc., Selma, Ala., is being awarded a maximum $34,782,000 firm fixed price, partial set aside, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery contract for Army Combat Uniform coats. Other locations of performance are in Alabama. Using service is Army. The proposal was originally Web solicited with 36 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM100-05-D-0406).

D.J. Manufacturing Corp., Caguas, Puerto Rico is being awarded a maximum $32,114,016 firm fixed price, total set aside, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery contract for Army Combat Uniform, coats and trousers. Other locations of performance are in Puerto Rico. Using service is Army. The proposal was originally Web solicited with 36 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM100-05-D-0407).

Golden Manufacturing Inc., Golden, Miss., is being awarded a maximum $19,942,920 firm fixed price, total set aside, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery contract for Army Combat Uniform coats. Other locations of performance are in Mississippi. Using service is Army. The proposal was originally Web solicited with 36 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM100-05-D-0409).

Woolrich, Woolrich, Pa., is being awarded a maximum $13,004,376 firm fixed price, total set aside, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery contract for Army Combat Uniform trousers. Other locations of performance are in Ga, Texas and Illinois. Using service is Army. The proposal was originally Web solicited with 36 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM100-05-D-0410).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a maximum $8,913,246 firm fixed price contract for runway snow broom/blowers. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There were originally two proposals solicited with 1 response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jan. 15, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM500-01-D-0066-0021).

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed contract to Northrop Grumman, Palmdale, California for $35,150,555.00. This contract action will provide for B-2 Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment Team Contract, Performance Based Logistics, and CY09 Contract Depot Maintenance. At this time the entire amount has been obligated. 448 SCMG/PKBF Tinker AFB, Oklahoma is the contracting activity (F33657-99-D-0028).

The Air Force is awarding a contract modification to Lockheed Martin Co., Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems of Marietta, Ga., for $29,087,742.00. This modification will exercise options to purchase initial spares for the Global War on Terror aircraft, support equipment and other items. The work will be performed in Marietta, Ga. USAF/AFMC, Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8625-06-C-6456).

The Air Force is awarding a contract to BAE Systems Electronic Intelligence Support of Nashua, N. H., for $6,275,262. This contract will provide a three-year technology development program to develop a radio frequency detection and space warning receiver system for satellites. The work will be performed in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N.M., is the contracting activity. (FA9453-09-C-0335)

The Air Force is awarding a contract to L3 Communications Corp., Integrated Systems Joint Operations of Lexington, Ky., for $6,156,863. This contract is to exercise the remaining option for the production and installation of dual rails applicable to the MC-130P. The work will be performed in Crestview and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. WR-ALC/580th ACSSG/Contracting, Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (USZA22-03-D-0006-RJ31-03).

Alaska Army Guardsman Prepares for Iditarod

By Army Sgt. Karima Turner
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - An Alaska Army National Guardsman is one step closer to competing in the Iditarod, Alaska's famous 1,150-mile sled-dog race. Staff Sgt. Harry Alexie finished ninth with a time of 59 hours, 8 minutes, and was named "Rookie of the Year" in the Copper Basin 300 Dog Sled Race here last week.

The 300-mile race is the second qualifying race for Alexie before the 2009 Iditarod and is considered to be the toughest mid-distance sled-dog race in the world.

The first qualifying race Alexie completed was Alaska's Gin Gin 200 Dog Sled Race in December, in which he placed fifth in the men's division with a time of 10 hours, 48 minutes, after battling 40 mph winds and temperatures that reached minus 40.

In line with National Guard recruiting and retention efforts, the National Guard Bureau is sponsoring Alexie to race in the 2009 Iditarod, to be held in March.

As part of this sponsorship, Alexie asked veteran musher Lance Mackey, a two-time Iditarod champion, to be his trainer, and will use one of Mackey's dog sled teams to run in the upcoming race.

Alexie has been training since October at Mackey's Comeback Kennel training facility in Fairbanks.

"Up to this point, Staff Sgt. Alexie has been doing quite well," Army Sgt. Maj. Clinton Brown II of the Alaska Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention office said. "Given the experience that he has accumulated and the trainer that is preparing him, Staff Sgt. Alexie has the ability to finish in the top 20 of the Iditarod.

"Anything can happen on the trail, but Staff Sgt. Alexie is determined to show that he has what it takes to compete in the Last Great Race."

Alexie, a Yupik Alaska native of Kwethluk and resident of Bethel, has been mushing for about 15 years. He has competed in such races as the Fur Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Race and several sprint races.

"My [race] times have been surprising," Alexie said. "I'm very pleased and surprised for our finishes. Before I started racing distance races, I didn't know it would be so challenging.

"But every race I've competed in, I've learned something, and the Iditarod is something I'm up for. I've completed all of the qualifying races -- the Gin Gin and the Copper Basin 300, and now I'm looking forward to the Iditarod. I can't wait 'till it kicks off."

(Army Sgt. Karima Turner serves in the Alaska National Guard public affairs office.)

Army-issued Body Armor Safe, Effective, Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - Soldiers should have full confidence in the quality of a particular series of Army-issued body armor plates that has come under recent scrutiny, Army officials said.
Scores of Army tests and an independent evaluation have determined the effectiveness of three types of ceramic plates manufactured by Armor Works of Chandler, Ariz., said Army Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, one of the officers who oversees equipment as part of the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier.

"Those plates being worn on the backs and fronts of soldiers all around the world are quality product," Fuller said in an interview today.

An audit published today by the Defense Department's Inspector General concluded the Army did not adhere to contract requirements in the first phase of tests performed on three designs submitted by Armor Works, and recommended the 16,413 sets of these plates in the field be returned.

Army Secretary Pete Geren disputed this finding, but agreed to order the withdrawal of the nearly 33,000 components from the total armor plate supply of about 9 million, as a precautionary measure.

Fuller said reactions to the audit have caused a "perception issue" being fueled by a characterization of the protective components as being unsafe. But a battery of tests performed throughout the life cycle of Army equipment ensures the effectiveness of soldiers' gear, he added.

"The [news] organizations are saying we are doing a recall because we have defective armor," he said. "That is not the case."

While the Army concedes there were "anomalies" in its initial evaluation process, known as first article tests, repeated follow-up analyses by the Army and a separate review by the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation office, validate the equipment's safety, Fuller said.

The test and evaluation office, the Defense Department's premier ballistics testing shop, functions independently of the Army.

"That's why we're standing behind these three sets of designs of body armor," Fuller said. "We've tested it, we've validated it -- in this case, we've even had someone else validate the same information."

The Army, meanwhile, has asked the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense to adjudicate its disagreement with the Inspector General – the first time a mediation request of this kind has been invoked, Fuller said.

Asked what message he sends troops in the field wearing Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts, which entails the Armor Works designs, Fuller said, "Wear them --you've got the best thing on ... It'll stop that round."

Army Sgt. Maj. Tom Coleman, who has had four tours of duty and also works in the Program Executive Office Soldier, said he has full confidence in the plates that are being returned, adding that he has seen them withstand a bullet round in combat.

"I've seen plates that have been hit, and I've seen what happens; it's primarily bruising," Coleman said. "I have never seen the skin get broken on a round that hit the armor.

"I have never seen it fail," he added. "And there are no reports that I've seen or that I'm aware of that are out there of any body armor failing to stop the round it was designed to stop."

Stavridis Praises U.S.-Honduran Cooperation in Confronting Mutual Threats

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - The commander of U.S. Southern Command arrived here yesterday to reaffirm the United States' strategic partnership with Honduras and praise the solid bilateral and interagency cooperation that is delivering tangible success. Navy Adm. James S. Stavridis met with President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, Defense Minister Aristides Mejia Carranza and Defense Chief Maj. Gen. Romeo Orlando Vasquez Velasquez to discuss security challenges of mutual concern: primarily illicit drug, arms and human trafficking.

These, he said, threaten not just national, but also regional stability.

Stavridis also met with U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens and his embassy country team, as well as U.S. Military Group Honduras to explore ways to improve military-to-military training, education and other support to the Honduran government.

Declaring an "excellent state of cooperation between our two militaries," Stavridis lauded tremendous progress within Honduras' 11,000-member military.

The Honduran military is the country's most respected government institution, with only the Catholic Church garnering higher public respect, Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Military Group Honduras, told Stavridis.

That respect follows a decade-long leadership emphasis on excellence, integrity and professionalism within the ranks, coupled with a close military-to-military relationship with the United States, officials here said.

Stavridis' noted Honduras' "extremely full pallet of exercises" to build on those gains. Within the next few months alone, the Honduran military will join the United States and other regional partners to exercise maritime security operations, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, medical readiness and other critical capabilities.

The admiral credited those efforts, along with growing cooperation between the U.S. and Honduran governments, with making big headway against narcotics trafficking and other regional threats.

An example of that success took place the day before Stavridis arrived, when Honduran police seized 1.5 metric tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of $25 million, an aircraft and two "go-fast" boats used by drug runners. Tipped off by intelligence from Southcom's Joint Interagency Task Force South counterdrug operation based in Key West, Fla., Honduran authorities closed in on the traffickers in their first aircraft interdiction. The Honduran navy also supported the operation.

Stavridis said he congratulated Honduran leaders on the "extraordinary operation" in which their government took the lead in a cooperative arrangement.

The arrival of four U.S.-funded "fast boats," slated for delivery today, will further enhance Honduras' drug-interdiction capabilities, Rodriguez explained. The United States is providing the boats, as well training and equipment to operate and maintain them, through the Enduring Friendship security assistance program.

By 2010, the United States plans to buy four light observation aircraft for the Honduran military to augment the four the Hondurans recently bought to support counter-trafficking, he said.

Stavridis noted the long history of friendship and cooperation between the United States and Honduras that he said has paved the way for important security successes.

He thanked Honduran leaders for their support for Joint Task Force Bravo, Southcom's only permanently deployed U.S. forces in the region, which has operated in Honduras since 1983.

Based at Soto Cano Air Base, Joint Task Force Bravo stands as Southcom's "911 force," prepared to respond to natural disasters such as severe flooding and landslides that ravaged much of Costa Rica and Panama in late November and early December. In addition to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the task force supports counternarcotics and other missions in the region.

Stavridis asked both Honduran and U.S. leaders here for advice on ways to build on the already-strong U.S.-Honduran relationship. He also emphasized throughout his sessions that confronting transnational challenges demands close interagency cooperation like that already in place here.

"The future of national security is the interagency, all working together," he said.

Stavridis' visit here underscored the value the United States places on its strategic partnership with Honduras in promoting regional security and stability, Rodriguez said.

"We in the United States get as much out of this relationship as [the Hondurans] do," he said. "What we have is a relationship of comrades in arms, working together to confront mutual threats."

Health System Site Helps Troops, Spouses Launch Medical Careers

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - A major health care provider in the suburbs here is teaming up with the Defense Department to help military members and spouses pursue medical careers. The Fairfax, Va.-based Inova Health System is expanding its partnership with the department to provide training for military spouses and severely injured servicemembers seeking jobs in the health care industry, Daniel Nichols, director of Inova recruitment, said.

Inova plans to launch a virtual career center on their Web site by March that will "help address the busy lives of military spouses and families by offering free, online training that leads directly to jobs inside a long-term career track in a growing industry," Nichols said.

Not only will the center attract military talent into the health care profession, but it also will help retain that talent by assisting in job transition and providing guidance to clarify career steps along the way, Nichols said.

The free training in a virtual setting will free up other Inova organizations to help the effort in other ways, such as awarding scholarships and certifications, he said.

The virtual career center will reserve 1,000 openings for military spouses to take classes in computer literacy skills and Microsoft Office software training that could lead to careers in health administration, health information technology or clinical technology, Nichols said.

The center is adding career guidance information, skill gap analysis and, by the end of the year, will have a talent-exchange section where transitioning military families will be able to connect with affiliated employers to secure jobs prior to their moves, he said.

Inova is funding the initial classes, building the content and overseeing operations of the center.

Late last year, Inova launched a regional initiative called CareerSTAT, which combines the military spouse efforts with training geared toward wounded warriors and, more specifically, those with traumatic brain injury.

Obama, Top Pentagon Officials Send Super Bowl Message to Troops

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - Deployed troops watching the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 will be greeted with messages from their new commander in chief and top Defense Department officials. Instead of commercials, part of the content carried between downs on the American Forces Network will be public service announcements recorded by President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"As we all take this time to watch the big game, I wanted to be sure to send all of our military men and women a special greeting," the transcript of Obama's salutation reads. "You are tuning in from all over the world. But no matter where you are and no matter which team you're rooting for, this event is bringing you a little closer to home."

Obama, who recorded his video message this week during his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief, tells troops that American events like the Super Bowl are possible only because of the sacrifice and duty paid by servicemembers and their families.

"I am honored to be your commander in chief, I thank you for your courage and sacrifice during these trying times, and I promise to do everything in my power to help you accomplish your mission," he said. "You make us proud each and every day."

Obama, who appears clutching a football and without his suit jacket -- a "sign of solidarity" with Gates who was unable to wear a jacket due to bandaging on his injured left arm -- saw the message as a "an incredible opportunity," Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

"I think the president recognized this is a great platform, an incredible opportunity, in his early days on the job, to send the message to hundreds of thousands of troops deployed around the world," he said. "This is everybody getting a rare break from work, huddled around a TV set watching the most popular program on television."

Gates injected history and humor into his message that will air during breaks in the gridiron action between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, which he noted, used to be one team.

"During World War II, because so many men were serving overseas, the Chicago Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers actually merged for a season," he said. "They were called the Card-Pitt Combine, and they went 0-10, earning a less-than-flattering nickname: 'the carpets' -- because everyone walked all over them.

"This game is a little more exciting. Wherever you are, I hope that you have a chance to kick back and relax for a few hours -- you have certainly earned it," Gates said. "As always, I thank you for your service, and for the sacrifice you make every day in defense of our nation. Enjoy the game."

Mullen thanked military men and women and their families for their service at this "critical time in our nation's history."

"I know many of you won't be able to watch tonight's game at home with your loved ones, but I also know you are proud of the work you are doing and the difference you are making," Mullen said. "Whatever team you're cheering for tonight, all of America is cheering for you."

Entertainers Join Elmo to Help Military Families Find 'New Normal'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - Sesame Workshop will air a PBS special April 1 aimed at helping military families cope with changes. Actor/singer Queen Latifah and singer John Mayer will join Elmo to present, "Coming Home: Military Families Cope with Change." The special carries a message for children whose parents suffered a physical or psychological wound in combat.

"Rosita's father is in a wheelchair and [she] talks to Elmo about her feelings," Barbara Thompson, director of the Defense Department's Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, said. "Elmo very graciously says, 'You need to talk to your dad about that.'"

Rosita does talk with her dad and learns that even though they can't do all the things they used to, they can do other things.

"It gives this sense of relief that I can talk about the change. That my dad is still my dad [and] my parent is still my parent," Thompson said. "It's very powerful for ... parents to see ... what it's like from a child's perspective, what they're feeling and experiencing."

Having celebrities participate also adds value, beyond the "cool" factor, Thompson said.

"I think it ... draws a larger [portion] of the population to the issues that military families [face]," she said. "It shows, I think, people's interest."

The half-hour special, which will air at the beginning of the "Month of the Military Child," is a part of Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen, Connect" initiative, which began two years ago.

The first phase of the TLC program addressed the issues of multiple deployments and their impact on young children. It included the half-hour TV special, "When Parents Are Deployed," hosted by Cuba Gooding Jr.

The second phase, which includes the upcoming TV special, addresses the issues of changes, both physical and psychological, and the impact those changes can have on a family. It does this, in part, by telling the stories of servicemembers with challenges like post-traumatic stress disorder, and the struggles these families face in finding the "new normal," Thompson said.

To help parents communicate better with their children on these topics, the Sesame Workshop has created an informative kit in both English and Spanish. Defense Department employees served as subject matter experts for the Sesame Workshop kit, which contains two DVDs and printed materials.

"Of course [the Sesame Workshop is] the creative force behind it," Thompson said. "They know how to craft those messages so that children really benefit from the comfort of the Sesame characters."

More than 1.3 million kits are being distributed through Military OneSource, an online resource available to families 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The materials also are available through various military organizations. The Sesame Workshop Web site also offers a variety of resources, including printed material, and videos and music to help military families communicate about issues affecting them.

"The range of media tools available through 'Talk, Listen, Connect' truly provides fundamental ways for each family member to support each other through all stages," Gary E. Knell, president and chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop, said. "The deep impact of this project continues to inspire us, which is why we are excited to create [this] new special that will further champion the needs of the military community and will help these families ... find ways to be there for each other."

Sesame Workshop produced the special in association with Lookalike Productions and David Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated.

"The men and women of our military have made indescribable sacrifices," Letterman said. "The very least we can do is tell their stories, and to honor the bravery and strength of both the soldiers and their families."

The special is scheduled to air April 1, at 8 p.m. EST.

President to Meet with Senior Enlisted Advisors at White House

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet this afternoon with the U.S. military's senior enlisted advisors at the White House, a senior Defense Department official said. The armed services' enlisted advisors are the senior noncommissioned officers for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The president also will greet the Coast Guard's top enlisted leader, spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters today.

Obama is slated to meet with Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Charles W. Bowen.

The senior enlisted leaders serve as personal advisors to their respective civilian service secretaries and military chiefs of staff or commandants on matters concerning enlisted-force welfare, readiness, morale and utilization.

The meeting is a way for Obama to gain insight and perspective about the enlisted force through the accumulated experience of the military's most senior enlisted leaders, Whitman said.

Just as Obama met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon Jan. 28, Whitman said, the commander in chief also "feels that it's important to talk" to the armed service's senior enlisted advisors.

Navy Task Force, Partner Nations Deter Pirate Attacks

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - The presence of partner nations and the newly formed task force to reduce the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden seem to be working, the commander of Combined Task Force 151 said. "I think the combination of the coalition working together [with] the maritime community has decreased the pirate activity over the last couple of months," Navy Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, also the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, told bloggers and online journalists during a Defense Department bloggers roundtable yesterday.

The task force was formed earlier this month and comprises three ships -- USS San Antonio, USS Mahan and HMS Portland -- that are collaborating with other nations to deter future pirate attacks.

While a number of factors -- even the weather -- can impact the number of attacks, McKnight gave credit to the European Union and the nations involved in anti-piracy operations, as well as the task force, with helping to decrease attacks since early December.

"Some things have changed that have helped us in this case to combat piracy," McKnight said. "The United Nations has come out with several resolutions ... that give us more authority to combat piracy."

U.N. Resolution 1846, approved by the United Nations Security Council on Dec. 2, authorizes states and regional organizations cooperating with the Somali transitional government to enter Somalia's territorial waters and use "all necessary means" to combat piracy. Two weeks later, U.N. Resolution 1851 was approved, and calls for those states and organizations to "actively participate in defeating piracy and armed robbery off Somalia's coast by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, and through seizure and disposition of boats and arms used in the commission of those crimes."

The other recent change that has assisted in combating piracy is the maritime community itself, McKnight said.

"We have tried very hard to say to the maritime community, there are just not enough Navy ships out there to cover 1.1 million square miles," he said.

McKnight added that creating a safe corridor allows the nations involved in combating piracy to offer protection to the maritime vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden.

In standing up Combined Task Force 151, McKnight said, he hopes to "make it unpleasant to be in the pirate business."

"Right now, we have about 14 nations out here with about 20 ships," he said. "We've had some encouraging signs from other ships and other nations to join the task force. I expect that by the spring we will have quite a few ships joining."

McKnight said these and other nations involved and those interested in participating in the future all share the same goal of "free commerce."

"We have to make sure that we have free commerce throughout the open seas and throughout the world," McKnight said.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media Directorate of the Defense Media Activity)

Navy Hydrographers Provide Critical Mapping of Ocean Floor

By John Ohab
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2009 - Advanced ocean-bottom mapping technologies have enhanced the Navy's ability to navigate safely throughout the world and have helped support disaster assistance and humanitarian relief operations, the Navy's oldest active diver said. Michael Jeffries, a Navy hydrographer and technical director of the Fleet Survey Team, spoke with bloggers and online journalists on "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" on BlogTalkRadio.com Jan. 28 about the science of hydrography and the tools and techniques used to develop precise nautical navigation charts.

Hydrography focuses on measurements and descriptions of the physical characteristics of oceans, seas and coastal areas, including lakes and rivers. The primary purpose of collecting hydrographic information is to support the production of nautical charts, graphical representations of the maritime environment and adjacent coastal regions.

The most important information contained on a nautical chart is the depiction of soundings, or the water depths.

"Whether the user is a fisherman or a captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, knowing the depths of the water you are navigating is paramount to maintaining the safety of the vessel and all of its crew," Jeffries, a hydrographer for more than 30 years, said.

The Fleet Survey Team, a subordinate command to the Naval Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, supports Navy and Marine Corps global operations by conducting hydrographic surveys that provide critical nautical information, including water depth, tide levels, and the location of navigational aids like buoys, lighthouses, beacons, shipwrecks, rocks and reefs.

The team also conducts expeditionary hydrographic surveys using personal watercraft called "expeditionary survey vessels," or ESVs, to identify underwater hazards during amphibious landing exercises.

"Teams conduct surveys in advance of our amphibious landing forces to determine the most suitable beach landings for the military exercise," Jeffries said.

An estimated 89 percent of Earth's waters have not been adequately charted, and some nautical charts still contain source data from the 19th century, Jeffries said. Furthermore, the marine environment and seafloor are constantly changing due to natural events like hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, and manmade events like shipwrecks and construction. For these reasons, emerging navigation and positioning equipment play an important role in developing the most accurate and up-to-date nautical charts, he said.

"One of the most remarkable technological advances for the science of hydrography is the use of satellites for positioning and navigation," Jeffries said. "With our current technology, we can refine [positioning] to less than 1 centimeter."

The Fleet Survey Team employs a variety of high resolution sonar systems to define the topographic characteristics of the seafloor. Portable sensors known as "single beam echo sounders" can be outfitted on ESVs to provide depth information. A specialized sensor called "side-scan sonar" is the main tool used by the Naval mine warfare community to locate mine-like objects and other obstructions on the seafloor.

"The key to accurate hydrographic surveying is precise positioning of your vessel and the sensors that collect information about the seafloor," Jeffries said.

Comprising 65 military and civilian personnel, the Fleet Survey Team plays a critical role in support of disaster assistance and humanitarian relief operations. After the 2004 tsunami that struck the coastal town of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, teams surveyed for underwater hazards and cleared waterways for relief ship traffic. Recently, it conducted joint hydrographic surveys with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that waterways were clear in Texas and Louisiana after hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

"Whether here in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, our 'fly-away teams' comprised of three or four Fleet Survey Team members hand-carry suites of sonar sensors with them," Jeffries said. "Upon arriving at their mission location, the teams install these sensors onboard any platform that is made available to them."

The Fleet Survey Team also supports joint hydrographic survey operations with more than 20 international partners.

"Partnership building with other countries contributes to the security and stability of the maritime domain, and this most certainly benefits all of us," Jeffries said.

(John Ohab holds a doctorate in neuroscience and works for the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)