Monday, March 09, 2009

Face of Defense: Airman Contributes to Nuclear Airlift Mission

By Dona Fair
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 9, 2009 - For Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Thompson, there is no such thing as making a mistake. He is one of a small group of Air Force men and women responsible for the safety, security and reliability of a part of the nation's nuclear arsenal, a job that leaves no room for error.

Thompson is a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft propulsion specialist with the 62nd Airlift Wing here, a part of the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force mission. Thompson's job is to focus on the aircraft's four main engines and auxiliary power unit, he said.

"I maintain, repair, service and operate these systems to make sure the C-17 is in top shape to transport these weapon systems if ever needed," said Thompson, a Lutz, Fla., native.

This nuclear airlift mission is divided into three main areas. One area is the personnel reliability program. This program ensures that airmen who deal with nuclear weapons are emotionally stable, reliable and physically able to do their jobs. Another area is the upkeep and maintenance of the aircraft and the third, and perhaps most important, is training to ensure the proper transport of the weapons.

For Thompson and his fellow maintainers and aircrew members, this training is hardly left to chance.

He and his fellow airmen recently took part in a weeklong nuclear surety inspection and received the highest score possible. The training leading up to the inspection included at least a year of experience on the airframe, as well as qualification on engine-run training, borescope training, engine fan blade blending, and inlet and exhaust training, Thompson said.

"There was also a rigorous interview and singular senior review of my qualifications, as well as a training session with an experienced team member during an actual mission preparation," he said.

In a job where second chances are rare, Thompson said attention to detail in every aspect of the job is paramount to success.

"It is what we are supposed to do every day and, for us, that second look and extra attention to detail is critical," Thompson said. "During mission prep, the shift hours are longer to allow us the extra time to spend on those details and make sure everything gets done right the first time."

(Dona Fair works at the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service.)



Verizon Business Network Services Inc., Ashburn, Va., was awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract consisting of one five-year base period, two 24-month option periods and one 12-month option period and a maximum ceiling amount of $2,500,000,000. This requirement was announced via the Federal Business Opportunities website and two offers were received. This action, the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) transmission services - Pacific II (DTS-P II) contract, provides end-to-end transmission services and capabilities essential to Defense Information System Network - Pacific, DoD's consolidated enterprise level telecommunications infrastructure for the expanded Pacific region. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, Pacific is the contracting activity (HC1019-09-D-2000).


Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $30,000,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5303) for fiscal year 2009 engineering and technical services in support of STANDARD Missile – 2 (SM-2) for Foreign Military Sales requirements. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 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.

SDV Engineering & Construction, JV.*, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract for environmental restoration projects, at Marine Corps installations within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest (NAVFAC SW) area of responsibility (AOR). The total contract amount is not to exceed $30,000,000 (base year and four option years). Work will be performed at Marine Corps installations in the NAVFAC SW AOR, and is expected to be completed by Mar. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website with four proposals received. The NAVFAC SW, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62473-09-D-1212).

National Technical Systems, East Camden, Ark., is being awarded a $9,582,463 firm-fixed-price-service, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the engineering services and rapid response testing support for a variety of programs that protect and support the warfighter. The testing support will require specialized test facilities with the capability to handle live ordnance and fixturing to accommodate extreme size and weights. This support will include, but not be limited to, engineering services and infrastructure for characterizing, testing, and documenting the performance of weapons, ammunition, munitions, and energetic systems, components and related systems. Work will be performed in East Camden, Ark., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $157,985 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity (N00174-09-D-0007).

LPI Technical Services *, Chesapeake, Va., is being awarded a $7,315,330 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the alteration installation team support. This contract provides for enginee-ring and technical services for shipboard systems and equipment associated with firefighting, damage control, and personnel protection. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., (30 percent), San Diego, Calif., (30 percent), various unspecified locations (14 percent), Mayport, Fla., (10 percent), Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (10 percent), Ingleside, Texas, (3 percent), Pascagoula, Miss., (3 percent), and work is expected to be completed by Mar. 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $200,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with two proposals solicited and two offers received via Federal Business Opportunities. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity (N61331-09-D-0014).


Signature Flight Support Corp., Miami, Fla. is being awarded a maximum $11,093,629 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel delivery. Other location of performance is Fla. Using service is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There was one proposal originally solicited with three responses. Contract funds will 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-0067).

Sopakco Inc., Mullins, S.C.*, is being awarded a maximum $9,042,240 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity contract for first strike rations. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were 38 proposals originally solicited with three responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The date of performance completion is Mar. 31, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM3S1-08-D-Z101).


The Air Force is awarding a cost plus fixed fee contract to BAE Systems National Security Solutions of Burlington, Mass., for $11,934,121. The purpose of this contract is to improve programmer productivity and application performance through the development of a productive, computationally efficient architecture aware compiler environment. At this time, $2,223,417 has been obligated. AFRL/PKDA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-C-7918).

The Air Force is modifying a contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp., of Sunnyvale, Calif. The purpose of this modification is to install hybrid bearings on one AEHF reaction wheel assembly ship set. At this point $1,950,000 has been obligated. SMC/PKA, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (F047)1-02-C-0002, P00357).

Navy, Coast Guard Ships Participate in Exercise Aman

American Forces Press Service

March 9, 2009 - U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell left Karachi, Pakistan, today after a four-day port visit to participate in the international naval exercise Aman 2009, marking the first time a U.S. ship has pulled into Pakistan since May. The 10-day exercise, which began March 5, focuses on air, surface and maritime security training. It includes representatives from 38 countries, as well as ships from 11 nations that include the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan and Australia. The at-sea portion of the exercise is being conducted primarily in the North Arabian Sea, off the coast of Pakistan.

"This exercise provides U.S. and international forces the opportunity to work together and train across the spectrum of naval disciplines," Navy Capt. Rick Williams, director of the U.S. 5th Fleet Maritime Operations Center, said. "Aman 2009 will improve the interoperability and tactical proficiency between coalition nations, and enhance our navies' effectiveness in supporting maritime security objectives."

U.S. ships participating in the exercise include Boutwell, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Lake Champlain, all assigned to the U.S. 5th Fleet.

During the exercise, ships will conduct surface exercises, air-defense training, explosive ordnance disposal exercises, and also will participate in foreign officer exchanges. The exercise is designed to improve maritime security in the region, strengthen international partnerships and highlight the importance of maritime cooperation, officials said.

Maritime security operations enhance stability in the maritime environment, which promotes global prosperity, officials noted. These operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or illicit material.

(From a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command news release.)

Former Hostages to Receive Defense of Freedom Medal

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 9, 2009 - Three U.S. defense contractors held captive for more than five years by Colombian narcoterrorists will receive the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart award this week at the U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami. Southcom Commander Navy Adm. James Stavridis will present the Defense of Freedom Medal to Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes during the March 12 ceremonies. All three were injured during 1,967 days of captivity in the jungles of Colombia at the hands of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, known as the FARC.

The Defense Department established the Defense of Freedom Medal following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to honor Defense Department employees and defense contractors injured or killed while supporting department activities. To date, 37 people have received the award.

Stansell, Gonsalves and Howes were crewmembers taking part in a routine mission to detect cocaine crops over southern Colombia on Feb. 13, 2003, when an in-flight emergency forced the pilot to crash-land the aircraft they were riding in. FARC members stormed the site and murdered pilot Thomas Janis, a U.S. citizen, and Colombian Army Sgt. Luis Alcides Cruz before taking the three other Americans captive.

In a recently published book, Stansell, Gonsalves and Howes chronicle the challenges of their captivity, during which they were detained in jungle cages and forced on marches in chains.

Their imprisonment came to a dramatic end July 2, 2008, when Colombian military agents posing as humanitarian workers foiled the captors into releasing them. The mission, conducted without a single shot being fired, also freed a dozen other hostages.

An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft transported Gonsalves, Stansell and Howes later that day to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. They were transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center at neighboring Fort Sam Houston, where they underwent a medical evaluation, were reunited with their families, and received assistance to help them smoothly transition back into their lives as free U.S. citizens.

In an Independence Day message issued two days after their release, the three expressed thanks to the U.S. and Colombian governments for not abandoning them during their captivity.

"We want to offer our heartfelt thanks to the government and the armed forces of Colombia," they wrote. "The operation they conducted to rescue us was one for the history books – something we will never forget for the rest of our lives."

They also praised the "tireless efforts" of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota and the care they received at Brooke Army Medical Center.

"The personal and professional concern they have taken in our well-being is deeply touching, and the reintegration process they are conducting on our behalf is worthwhile and important," they wrote. "We are all obviously eager to return home, but first we want to complete this entire process so we can return to our lives in the best physical and emotional shape possible."

Chairman, President Discuss U.S. Support to Mexico

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 9, 2009 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Barack Obama discussed the situation in Mexico and the military capabilities that could assist the country in a March 7 conversation. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen had just returned from a trip to Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. The president and the chairman talked about the trip as a whole, but focused specifically on Mexico and the country's fight against organized crime and drug cartels.

"The president is obviously interested in the situation in Mexico, and asked the chairman to back-brief him on the trip," a Joint Staff official speaking on background said.

The U.S.-Mexican border is an area of concern. More than 5,000 people were killed in Mexico last year as a result of drug-related violence, and more than 2,000 have been killed so far this year. Most of the deaths occurred in the northern Mexican states, but it is not limited to that area.

The chairman's trip was aimed at improving the military-to-military relationship between the two countries. To that end, Mullen met with Mexican Secretary of National Defense Army Gen. Guillermo Galvan and Secretary of the Navy Adm. Juan Francisco Saynez on March 6.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered the Mexican military to take on the cartels. U.S. officials are working with Mexican authorities to stem the flow of weapons from the United States to Mexico and to stop money laundering in the United States.

In Mexico, Mullen talked about a "shared responsibility" for the cause of the crisis, and said the United States had a shared responsibility to clean it up as well.

Obama and Mullen discussed what military capabilities might apply to the situation, the official said. This is not any kind of commitment, but rather is just a discussion at this point, the official emphasized.

In Mexico, Mullen said the U.S. military had learned what capabilities worked against terrorist networks. The same capabilities also may work against drug trafficking networks.

Chinese Vessels Shadow, Harass Unarmed U.S. Survey Ship

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 9, 2009 - Five Chinese vessels shadowed and aggressively maneuvered close to the USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea yesterday, a senior Pentagon official said today. The U.S. oceanographic ship was 70 miles south of Hainan Island conducting routine operations in international waters when the ships approached, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

"We view these as unprofessional maneuvers by the Chinese vessels and violations under international law to operate with due regard for the rights and safety of other lawful users of the ocean," Whitman said.

A civilian crew mans the ship, which operates under the auspices of the Military Sealift Command.

The incident began as the ships surrounded the Impeccable and two craft closed to within 50 feet, Whitman said. The Chinese ships included a Chinese navy intelligence collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries patrol vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers.

Crewmen aboard the Impeccable used fire hoses to spray one of the vessels as a protective measure. The Chinese crewmembers disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet.

The Chinese vessels dropped pieces of wood in the water directly in the Impeccable's path, and two of the ships stopped directly in the U.S. vessel's path, forcing it to stop.

Whitman said the Chinese used poles in an attempt to snag the Impeccable's towed acoustic array sonars. Impeccable's master used bridge-to-bridge radio circuits to inform the Chinese ships in a friendly manner that it was leaving the area and requested a safe path to navigate.

"These are dangerous close maneuvers that these vessels engaged in," Whitman said.

The incident was the culmination of earlier harassment. A Chinese patrol vessel shined a high-intensity spotlight March 4 on the USNS Victorious operating in the Yellow Sea 125 miles from China's coast. Chinese maritime aircraft "buzzed" the ship 12 times March 5.

A Chinese frigate crossed the bow of the Impeccable at a range of about 100 yards March 5. Maritime aircraft buzzed the ship after that incident.

Another Chinese ship challenged Impeccable over bridge-to-bridge radio March 7, calling its operations illegal and directing the American ship to leave the area or "suffer the consequences," officials said.

The Impeccable is one of six surveillance ships that gather underwater acoustical data, Whitman said. U.S. ships routinely operate in the area.

"We expect Chinese ships to act responsibly and refrain from provocative activities that could lead to miscalculation or a collision at sea, endangering vessels and the lives of U.S. and Chinese mariners," a Defense Department official said.

U.S. embassy officials lodged a protest against these actions with the Foreign Ministry in China, and Defense Department officials have protested with the Chinese embassy here.