Military News

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MILITARY CONTRACTS March 10, 2009

NAVY

Atlantic Marine Mayport, LLC, Jacksonville, Fla., is being awarded a $37,035,816 firm-fixed-price contract to perform drydock, ship alterations, and maintenance and repair work for the extended drydock selected restricted availability of the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58). This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $42,476,685. Work will be performed in the Jacksonville, Fla., area and is expected to be completed by Dec. 22, 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $42,476,685 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with six proposals solicited and two offers received via the Federal Business Opportunities website. The Southeast Regional Maintenance Center, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N40027-09-C-0048).

Solpac Construction Inc., dba Soltek Pacific Construction, Co., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded $26,226,750 for firm-fixed price task order #0008 under a previously awarded multiple award construction (N62473-08-D-8615) for design and construction of a new Weapons and Armament Research, Development, Acquisition, Test, and Evaluation Laboratory (RDT&E) Facility #3 at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif. The facility will provide technical and management support offices with electronic computer labs, laboratory work areas, and miscellaneous supporting spaces to support electronic work on guidance systems. The task order also contains two unexercised options, which if exercised would increase cumulative task order value to $28,786,750. Work will be performed in China Lake, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Five proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

GE Aviation Systems, LLC, Bohemia, N.Y., is being awarded a ceiling $9,300,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of spare components for the GE avionics system for flight control and communications in support of the C-130J aircraft sustainment program. Thirty seven components are included in this contract over the next five years. These components are considered end items or weapons replaceable assemblies of the K/H/C-130J. Work will be performed in Bohemia, N.Y., and is expected to be completed by March 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-09-D-WT30).

U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND

ITT Corp., of Roanoke, Va., is being awarded a $11,422,775 firm-fixed-price contract for image intensifier assemblies, 18 MM microchannel wafer high performance tubes, MX-10160 GS in support of U.S. Special Operations Command Procurement Division. The work will be performed in Roanoke and is expected to be completed by May 26, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was awarded on a competitive basis. The contract number is H92222-09-C-0025.

Face of Defense: Alaska Army National Guard Soldier Takes on Iditarod

By Army Spc. Paizley Ramsey
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 10, 2009 - An Alaska Army National Guardsman is running in the grueling 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race under way in Alaska. Army Staff Sgt. Harry Alexie's selection marks the first time an Alaska Army National Guardsman has represented the Alaska Army Guard in the race. The Kwethluk, Alaska, native has roots firmly planted in Alaska's culture, the Alaska Army National Guard and sled dog racing.

"Alexie was a perfect candidate for the Iditarod," Army Command Sgt. Maj. Clinton Brown, recruiting and retention command sergeant major for the 38th Troop Command, said. "He has experience with this sport, and he has the physical and mental strength to be a real contender."

Alexie, who serves with the Alaska Guard's Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1-297th Cavalry, began the 1,150-mile journey to Nome on March 7 at the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage, Alaska. The "musher" and a team of dogs cover the distance in 10 to 17 days. But before he left the starting line, the soldier racked up months of valuable training with one of the race's best.

Alexie has trained since October with veteran musher and two-time Iditarod winner Lance Mackey at Mackey's Comeback Kennel outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Alexie said the training was highly motivating, and that he hopes to represent the Alaska Army National Guard with the highest degree of pride of service and professionalism.

"Training has been going great since I started working with Lance," Alexie said.

"The past few weeks have been pretty tough, and I've lost a lot of sleep, but no worse than basic training," he joked. "It's part of the training and conditioning for the trail. I'm just happy to be a part of this."

Alexie's apprenticeship under Mackey demonstrates not only his desire to train with a champion, but also the pioneering efforts of Guard leaders wanting to highlight the history and partnership between Alaska and its Army National Guard.

"We're going back to our roots," Army Lt. Col. Joseph Lawendowski, recruiting and retention commander for the 38th Troop Command, said. "The Guard was founded by the efforts of people like 'Muktuk' Marston, who recruited nearly 4,000 individuals using sled dogs as a means of transportation to remote villages to bolster the Alaska Territorial Guard during the World War II era.

"We have a history with this sport, because this is how [the Alaska Army National Guard] started," he continued. "Alexie will be following in the tracks of Muktuk Marston's 1942 recruitment effort."

Mackey said competing in the Iditarod takes a great deal of mental strength and fortitude, and he is confident that Alexie will be able to successfully complete the race.

"I believe Harry has what it takes," Mackey said. "I have the utmost confidence in his abilities, but in the end it's up to him to make it to Nome."

(Army Spc. Paizley Ramsey serves with the Alaska Army National Guard.)

Coast Guard Trains Partner Nations in Exercise Tradewinds

By Marine Corps Sgt. Sheila Brooks and Lance Cpl. Randall Little Special to American Forces Press Service

March 10, 2009 - Coast Guardsmen from District 7, Tactical Law Enforcement Detachment, are taking part in Tradewinds 2009, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise designed to increase maritime security. The Coast Guardsmen trained servicemembers from partner nations in compliant and noncompliant boarding March 6 to 8 at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Base in Coral Harbour.
The exercise -- which includes participants from the United States, Great Britain and 16 Caribbean countries -- is focused on maritime interdiction and search-and-rescue operations, with an emphasis on command and control. The exercise began March 4 and runs through March 18.

As part of Tradewinds' goal to increase maritime security, the compliant and noncompliant boarding training will help to ensure partner nations are able to execute the necessary measures when called upon to board a vessel -- with the appropriate use of force -- to prevent illegal trafficking.

"The focus of this year's activities on maritime interdiction is critical and timely, and is in line with our determination that every effort should be made to prevent a significant upsurge in drug trafficking in the Caribbean region," Bahamas National Security Minister O.A. "Tommy" Turnquest said during the opening ceremonies of the exercise.

Coast Guardsmen instructed their partner nation counterparts in the proper way to approach a vessel occupant in a nonaggressive manner -- slowly walking toward the subject with their hands open, palms facing the subject.

"When dealing with compliant occupants of a vessel, it's like dealing with [peaceful] protestors," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Matthew Rouse, stationed out of Mayport, Fla.

Even if they don't immediately follow instructions, "the occupants are noncombatant," he said.

The students were shown techniques such as pressure points and handcuffing procedures to detain suspects who become aggressive and show resistance, but still are not attacking them.

"Noncompliant [occupants] need a little bit more convincing to cooperate," Able Seaman Miska Clarke of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force said, "whether it is talking more harsh, getting more physical or using deadly force to achieve the goal of your boarding."

If the situation escalates and the occupants become violent or aggressive, they then would be classified as noncompliant.

"Noncompliant boarding is a boarding in which the boarding team encounters resistance or resentment from the crew toward the law enforcement presence," Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Gustavo Tirado, an Islaverde, Puerto Rico native, said.
Partner nation servicemembers were instructed in escalation of force and how to properly evaluate when an occupant is noncompliant and how to keep control of the situation with the correct course of action.

"It's very important for the partner nations to learn these skills, because they will be conducting these operations in the future," Rouse said. "There are a lot of people out there up to no good, and we want to ensure that our partner nations' servicemembers will have the knowledge to deal with those threats."

Rouse, whose detachment is based out of Miami, said he enjoys the opportunity to train other servicemembers and show them how the Coast Guard operates, as well as to build camaraderie that will benefit all when having to cooperate in real-world events.

"It's a great chance for us to share with them how we board vessels, and also shows them we're more than willing to support them," Rouse said.

Nations participating in Exercise Tradewinds 2009 include the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.

(Marine Corps Sgt. Sheila Brooks and Lance Cpl. Randall Little are with the Exercise Tradewinds 2009 Public Affairs Detachment.)

Task Group Reviews Education Activity's Literacy Programs

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

March 10, 2009 - The Department of Defense Education Activity has suspended the use of the Reading Recovery program in its European schools for the school year that begins in the fall. Reading Recovery, a manpower-intensive literacy program that aims to bolster literacy skills of low-achieving first grade students, already has been discontinued in DoDEA's Pacific schools.

"Reading Recovery itself ... is very limiting, in that it targets 10 to 20 percent of first graders," Lori Pickel, DoDEA's elementary reading and language arts coordinator, said of the 16-week, one-on-one program. "We have many ways that we provide reading intervention or literacy intervention for our students. Reading Recovery was just one of those vehicles."

It's also just one of the literacy programs under review by DoDEA's Literacy Task Group. The group was convened during the current school year.

"In reviewing the programs, this is one ... that really may not be hitting the population of military students that we have in the numbers that we need," Marc Mossburg, the activity's chief of curriculum, said. "This is the way to move forward and the way for continuous improvement.

"[The task group] is having their third and final meeting in April, at which time they will present some preliminary recommendations for a [pre-kindergarten] through [12th grade] literacy program that will have intervention strategies and support strategies," he added.

The bottom line for DoDEA is to build one consistent program with strategies it will fully fund and support in the next few years that is driven by student need, including learning styles, Mossburg said.

Students participating in Reading Recovery this year will continue to receive assistance next year through other initiatives should they need it, he said.

February Statistics Show Solid Recruiting, Retention Success

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 10, 2009 - Defense Department officials today announced across-the-board recruiting and retention successes in February, with every service meeting or exceeding its active-duty, reserve and National Guard goals. The statistics reflect solid recruiting performance during a month that Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman noted is traditionally a slow recruiting period.

Both the Army and Marine Corps, which are in the midst of growing their forces, exceeded their February goals. The Army led active-component recruiting, signing on 324 more soldiers than its 6,000-soldier goal for February. The Marine Corps, with 1,752 new accessions, topped its monthly goal by a whopping 36 percent, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Navy and Air Force met their February goals with 3,060 and 2,486 accessions, respectively.

In the reserve components, the Army National Guard signed on 6,114 members, 109 percent of its goal. The Army Reserve, with 3,614 accessions, topped its goal by 15 percent.

The Air National Guard recruited 946 members, 110 percent of its goal. The Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve both met their monthly goals of 602 recruits, and the Air Force Reserve met its 803-airman goal.

These recruiting successes continue a fiscal 2009 trend despite what the Pentagon's accessions chief described last week as a particularly challenging recruiting environment.

"The services have done a remarkable job in recruiting a quality force in an environment that has been characterized by most as the most challenging since the advent of the all-volunteer force in 1973," Curtis Gilroy, director of the Pentagon's Accessions Policy Office, told Congress last week.

Gilroy cited a full range of recruiting challenges during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing. Adult influencers have become increasingly hesitant to recommend military service, and young people are demonstrating a lower propensity to enlist than just four years ago, he said. In addition, the pool of qualified candidates is shrinking due to educational, physical fitness or health problems, including obesity.

But despite these challenges, Gilroy reported a strong year for military recruiting. "I'm delighted to report to you that the state of recruiting and retention for our active-duty force, as we are one-third of the way through fiscal 2009, is a success," he told the congressional panel.

U.S. Will Continue to Sail in International Waters, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 10, 2009 - The United States will continue to sail ships on missions in international waters, a Defense Department official said here today. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the March 8 incident in the South China Sea in which five Chinese ships surrounded the USNS Impeccable -- an unarmed Military Sealift Command vessel – won't hinder the United States from using international sea lanes.

The United States protested the Chinese activity to China's foreign ministry in Beijing and to the defense attache at the Chinese Embassy here. China rejected the U.S. protests today, and maintains the Impeccable violated international law by sailing in the area.

The ship is an ocean surveillance vessel and was mapping the sea bottom when the Chinese ships approached. 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.

Two ships approached within 50 feet of the Impeccable before the American civilian crew used fire hoses to challenge them. One of the Chinese ships approached within 25 feet of the American ship. Two Chinese trawlers then stopped directly in front of the Impeccable as it attempted to leave the area.

The Chinese allege the American ship was operating illegally in China's Economic Exclusion Zone. China claims a 125-mile zone.

"Our activities were in international waters, and we will continue to operate in international waters as appropriate," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday. "Our ships obviously operate fairly regularly in international waters where these incidents took place. We're going to continue to operate in those international waters, and we expect the Chinese to observe international law around them."

The area is about 70 miles south of Hainan Island. In 2001, two Chinese fighter aircraft challenged a U.S. Navy EP-3 patrol plane in the area. There was a collision between one of the Chinese fighters and the P-3, killing the Chinese pilot. The P-3 made an emergency landing on Hainan Island, and the Chinese detained the 24-member crew of the American patrol plane for 12 days.

Status of First Gulf War Casualty Changed to 'Missing in Action'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 10, 2009 - Calling Navy Capt. Michael "Scott" Speicher "an American hero," Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter today announced his decision to change the status of the first Operation Desert Storm casualty from "missing/captured" to "missing in action." Winter made the determination after a thorough review of information about the case, including a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment and comments from the Speicher family, defense officials said.

His determination overruled recommendations of a Navy status review board, which Winter said in a message explaining his decision were based on faulty logic and false premises.

Speicher was an F/A-18 Hornet pilot stationed aboard the carrier USS Saratoga when his aircraft was shot down by enemy fire over western Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991. His mission was part of the first manned strike of the air war over Iraq.

The Defense Department declared Speicher "killed-in-action/body-not-recovered" in May 1991. However, conflicting reports and intelligence information led then-Navy Secretary Richard Danzig to change his status to "missing in action" on Jan. 11, 2001.

That status was changed again in late 2002 to "missing-captured" based on sighting reports in Iraq that have since been discredited.

The intelligence community concluded in October that Speicher is deceased, although his remains were never found. Based on that assessment, Winter convened a status review board to consider changing his status to MIA.

The board recommended retaining the "missing/captured" status. But in a statement issued today, Winter explained why he overruled it.

"My review of the board proceedings and the compelling evidence presented by the intelligence community causes me great concern about the board's recommendation," he said. He cited the board's "failure to employ a logical, analytical process to their evaluation of the evidence in the intelligence assessment."

The board's recommendation begins with the premise that Speicher was alive after ejecting from his aircraft over Iraq, Winter said. The board findings were based on a statistical analysis of peacetime F/A-18 ejections, and didn't consider the factors associated with ejecting in a combat environment, he said.

"They also chose to ignore the lack of any parachute sighting, emergency beacon transmission or survival radio transmissions," he continued.

Citing failure to find Speicher despite the current U.S. presence in Iraq, and the discrediting of previous claims of seeing him in captivity, Winter concluded, "There is currently no credible evidence that Captain Speicher is 'captured.'"

"For Captain Speicher to be in captivity today, one would have to accept a massive conspiracy of silence and perfectly executed deception that has lasted for over 18 years and that continues today," Winter said. "Consequently, I cannot support the recommendation of the status review board."

Winter said he believes another status review board should review the case, and recommended that the Navy reconsider the matter within the next 12 months.

"The Navy appreciates the challenges Captain Speicher's family has faced these past 18 years," Winter concluded. "Captain Speicher is an American hero, and bringing him home to his family and his country will remain a top priority for the Navy and the nation."

Camp Speicher, a former Iraqi air base in Tikrit, honors Speicher's memory. In addition, his alma mater, Florida State University, named its tennis center for Speicher, an avid player.