Military News

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tight-knit Trident Submariners Conduct Strategic Deterrence Missions

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Says Budget Signifies New Way Forward for Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense Stimulus Money to Flow to Projects, Homeowner Assistance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MILITARY CONTRACTS February 25, 2009

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

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

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

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

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

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

NAVY

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

Raytheon Technical Services Co., LLC, Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded an $11,367,693 delivery order against a previously issued basic order agreement (N00019-05-G-0008) for 180 shipsets of AN/ALE-47 Dual Pods for the AH-1W. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Ind., and is expected to be completed in Sept. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

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

ARMY

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

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

AIR FORCE

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

Guardsmen Earn Medals at World Bobsled Event

American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gates Calls for Forthright, Collegial Budget Discussions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama Nominates Defense Acquisition Undersecretary

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign Coincides with 'Taking Chance' Film Premiere

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Servicemembers More Realistic About Retirement than Civilians, Survey Shows

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Combat Vet Gives Voice to Military Musicians

By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Presidential Helicopter Faces Scrutiny

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 24, 2009 - The VH-71 helicopter being developed as the next-generation presidential helicopter could get the ax before it ever takes flight. President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he has directed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to conduct "a thorough review" of the program, which has experienced big cost overruns.

Speaking at the closing of a White House summit on fiscal responsibility, the president called the helicopter program an example of "the procurement process gone amok."

"We're going to have to fix it," he said, calling it "one of our highest priorities" and urging congressional support.

Obama noted that Gates is a big advocate of the effort and "recognizes that simply adding more and more does not necessarily mean better and better, or safer and more secure."

The president offered a lighthearted take on the helicopter Lockheed-Martin is developing to replace the Sikorsky Marine One helicopters the White House has used for a quarter-century. "The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me," he quipped. "Of course, I've never had a helicopter before. ... Maybe I've been deprived, and I didn't know it."

The VH-71 contract calls for 28 helicopters for $6 billion, but the cost has almost doubled to about $11 billion.

Cost overruns of this magnitude in major defense acquisition programs require congressional notification. This requirement was established under the so-called Nunn-McCurdy provision of the 1982 Defense Authorization Act. The provision was named for its sponsors, U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and U.S. Rep Dave McCurdy.

The VH-71 program "certainly fits the category of requiring a Nunn-McCurdy breach notification, and that is not a good position to have a program in," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today.

The program will be among many to get a thorough review during the acquisition overhaul, he said. "We are committed to looking at expensive programs, particularly those programs that are underperforming," Whitman said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS February 24, 2009

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price contract with Lockheed Martin Corp., of Fort Worth, Texas for $797,132,785. This contract action will provide 14 F-16C and 16 F-16D Block 50 aircraft for the Government of Turkey. At this time, $682,158,785 of Foreign Military Sales funds has been obligated. 312 AESG/SYKA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8615-07-C-6034, PZ0005).

The Air Force is modifying a cost plus award fee contract with the Boeing Co., of Seal Beach, Calif., for $43,315,519. This modification will be issued to procure 282,002 hours for CY09 Exercised Options for Sustainment Support. At this time $25,185,415 has been obligated. GPSW/PK, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04701-96-C-0025).

ARMY

General Dynamics Land Systems, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on Feb. 23, 2009, a $32,042,890 firm fixed price contract change order issued to procure national level reset of 129 each 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) Abrams System Enhancement Package (SEPv2) tanks. Work is to be performed at Lima, Ohio, (75 percent), Tallahassee, Fla., (10 percent), Anniston, Ala., (9 percent), Scranton, Pa., (3 percent), and Sterling Heights, Mich., (3 percent), with an estimated completion date of Sep 30, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid received. The Tank and Automotive Command (TACOM) Contracting Activity (W56HZV-06-G-0006).

Raytheon Co., Andover, Mass., was awarded on Feb. 23, 2009, a $9,244,000 firm fixed price contract for PATRIOT Pure Fleet 12 Lot Add on Items. Work is to be performed at Andover, Mass., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-07-C-0151).

Shanska USA Building, Inc., Rockville, Md., was awarded on Feb. 20, 2009, a $31,856,596 firm fixed price construction contract for which the requirement for the project consists of constructing a 151,590 gross square foot, 3 story administrative facility for 767 personnel to support co-location of military department adjudication activities on Fort George G. Meade, Md., in compliance with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act. The estimated completion date is Feb. 20, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 10 bids received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity (W912DR-09-C-0018).

Bristol Design Build Services, LLC, Anchorage, Ala., was awarded on Feb. 20, 2009, a $13,483,962 firm fixed price contract for PN0666956, design/build FTR262 child development center (Ages 6-10), at Fort Richardson, Ala. Estimated completion date is Oct 1, 2009. Seven bids were solicited with two bids received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District Ala., Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ala., is the contracting activity (W911KB-08-D-0008).

BATTELLE MEMORIAL INSTITUTE, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded on Feb 19, 2009, an increase of $78,500,000 cost-reimbursable type contract for the Scientific Services Program which is designed to provide scientific, technical and advisory services for problems related to research and development projects within the Government. This program is composed of Short-Term Analysis Services (STAS). STAS is designed for the resolution of problems for the sponsoring agency or command if the objectives are achievable in a short period of time (usually within a two-year period) through the efforts of the selected scientist(s) or engineer(s). OTHER INFORMATION REGARDING THIS MODIFICATION: A Justification & Approval was signed in accordance with the appropriate signature authority. Performance locations are to be determined with each task order and have an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. The U.S. Army Research Development Engineering Command, Acquisition Center-Research Triangle Park, Durham, N.C., is the contracting activity (W911NF-07-D-0001).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments Limited Partnership, Armament Systems Division, Minneapolis, Minn., was awarded on Feb. 19, 2009, a $22,461,120 firm fixed price contract to procure the Improved Vehicle Emergency Escape (IVEE) Windshield Kit for the M1151 Up-Armored High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMW) for a quantity of 5,685 kits. Work is to be performed at Minneapolis, Minn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2009. One bid was solicited and one bid received. The U.S. Army Tank & Automotive Command (TACOM) Contracting Center, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-C-0322).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Caterpillar Inc., Mossville, Ind., is being awarded a maximum $15,288,972 firm fixed price, long term contract for motor graders. Other location of performance is in Illinois. Using service is Navy. There were originally 4 proposals solicited with 1 response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM500-01-D-0059-0260).

Propper International, Inc., Mayaquez, Puerto Rico is being awarded a maximum $28,600,250 firm fixed price contract for Air Force parkas and trousers. Other location of performance is in Puerto Rico. Using service is Air Force. The proposal was originally Web solicited with three 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 Feb. 22, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM1C1-09-D-0035).

Y. Hata & Co., Limited, Honolulu, Hawaii *, is being awarded a maximum $7,989,041 fixed price with economic price adjustment, sole source, C-1 Bridge contract for full line food distribution. Other location of performance is in Hawaii. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jan. 12, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-09-D-3295).

NAVY

Cityon Systems, Inc.*, Plano, Texas, is being awarded a $6,302,691 indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, firm fixed price contract for firewall server load balancing appliances. Work will be performed in Plano, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2013. Contractfunds in the amount of$37,854willexpire by the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities web site and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce web site, with four proposals solicited and four offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, is the contracting activity (N65236-08-D-6045).

Northrop Grumman Corp., Melville, N.Y., is being awarded a $6,019,124 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-4307) for Design Agent/Technical Engineering Services (DA/TE) in support of the AN/SPQ-9B Radar System Program. The AN/SPQ-9B ASMD radar program is a radar improvement program to the AN/SPQ-9A radar providing the Navy the capability to detect and track low-flying, high-speed, small Radar Cross Section (RCS) anti-ship missile targets in heavy clutter environments. The contract provides for design and on-site support to AN/SPQ-9B Radars during installation, integration, testing and refurbishment. The modification provides for continuing support under the DA/TE contract during Fiscal Year 2009. This contract supports special studies, failure analysis, engineering change proposal investigation and other on-going developmental efforts associated with the AN/SPQ-9B Program. Work will be performed in Melville, N.Y., (78 percent), Baltimore, Md., (16 percent), and Norwalk, Conn., (6 percent), and is expected to be completed in Feb. 2010. 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.