Military News

Friday, April 03, 2009

N. Korean Missile Launch Would be 'Counterproductive,' Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - A potential North Korean test launch of a three-stage missile would have a negative impact on efforts to lessen tensions in the region, a U.S. State Department official told reporters here yesterday. Senior U.S. diplomats have urged North Korea "to desist from launching any type of missile," spokesman Robert Wood said at a news conference.

The North Koreans insist that their Taepodong 2 missile that is expected to be launched in the coming days is carrying a communications satellite for peaceful purposes. North Korea's neighbors South Korea and Japan are alarmed at the possible launch. The North Koreans conducted an unsuccessful missile launch in 2006 when their rocket briefly passed over Japanese territory.

"It would be counterproductive," Wood said of the possibility of the North Koreans conducting another missile test.

"It's provocative. It further inflames tensions in the region," Wood emphasized.

International diplomats have employed Six-Party Talks to persuade North Korea to jettison its nuclear weapons program. Arms control experts believe that a nuclear-armed North Korea would ratchet up tensions and prompt a nuclear-arms race across the region.

"We want to see the North get back to the six-party framework and focus on denuclearization," Wood said.

President Barack Obama met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak yesterday at the Group of 20 international economic summit held in London.

Before meeting with Lee, Obama told reporters he was concerned about global economic issues, as well as defense, peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Afterward, a senior U.S. official said Obama and Lee had "a fair amount of discussion on the North Korean issue."

Officials estimate the North Koreans could test their missile within the next few days.

A North Korean missile launch would be a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, the U.S. official told reporters, noting that the United States and South Korea would consult closely about how to respond firmly at the U.N. if the launch occurs.

"I don't know anyone at a senior level in the American government who does not believe this [North Korean missile] technology is intended as a mask for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during his March 29 appearance on the "Fox News Sunday" TV news show.

China, Russia and other countries also are concerned about a potential North Korean missile launch, Wood told reporters.

"And, we have continued to call on the North to not undertake provocative acts that only inflame the situation in the region," Wood said. "And, we're going to continue to do that, and our allies have certainly done that."

DoD Launches New Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Department of Defense launched a new social marketing campaign today called Our Strength is for Defending. This research-based prevention strategy is designed to empower service members to intervene in situations where possible sexual assaults may occur.

"We want to capitalize on the strength of our men and women in uniform to ensure they know how to safely intervene in situations to prevent this horrible crime," said Kaye Whitley, director, sexual assault prevention and response office.

The campaign's informational materials and public service announcements address topics such as active bystander intervention; crime reporting: supportive behavior for victims of sexual assault; and services provided by sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates within each of the armed forces. The campaign was developed with the assistance of Men Can Stop Rape, an organization that has successfully deployed sexual assault prevention programs throughout the United States and several countries.

"Although we are rolling out this campaign during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, our goal is to continue to push hard on these messages throughout the year. Prevention requires everyone to be alert 24 hours a day. We need service members to be constantly on guard to protect their friends and co-workers, both on and off the battlefield," said Whitley.

This will be the department's fifth year directly participating in this important national event. Special events will be held throughout the month by all of the armed forces in an effort to promote awareness of the strategy and to highlight the department's efforts to ensure all service members understand their role in preventing sexual assault.

For more information on DoD events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit http://www.MyDuty.mil.

Soldiers Missing In Action From The Korean War Are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of four U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

They are Cpl. Samuel C. Harris Jr., of Rogersville, Tenn; Cpl. Lloyd D. Stidham, of Beattyville, Ky.; Cpl. Robert G. Schoening, of Blaine, Wash; and one serviceman whose name is being withheld pending a briefing to his family. All men were U.S. Army. Harris will be buried April 10 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., Stidham will be buried April 13 in Nicholasville, Ky., and Schoening will be buried June 19 in Arlington.

Representatives from the Army's Mortuary Office met with these servicemembers' next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the secretary of the Army.

These soldiers were assigned to Company C, 65th Combat Engineer Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. On Nov. 25, 1950, Company C came under intense enemy attack when it was occupying a position near Hill 222 situated south of the Kuryong River east of the "Camel's Head" bend, North Korea. The men were reported missing in action on Nov. 27.

In 2000, a joint U.S./Democratic People's Republic of Korea team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), excavated a site overlooking the Kuryong River in P'yongan-Pukto Province where U.S. soldiers were believed to be buried. The team recovered human remains and non-biological evidence. One soldier who was also recovered there with this group, 1st Lt. Dixie Parker, was previously identified and buried in December 2007 in Arlington.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in the identification of these soldiers' remains. Remains that could not be individually identified will be buried as a group in Arlington on a date to be determined.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169 or (703) 699-1420.

Face of Defense: Soldier Returns After 15-Year Break to be Close to Troops

By Ken Hall
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - Some people just can't get the military out of their system – nor do they want to. That is the case with Staff Sgt. Dianne Smith, who has re-joined the Army after a 15-year break as a way to show her patriotism and sense of duty to her country again during a troubled time.

Smith, an intelligence analyst with 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion, recently returned to active duty to share her experience and leadership skills with new enlisted soldiers.

She completed basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala. – then the Army Women's Corps headquarters -- in 1978. Following advanced individual training and her initial assignments in 1984, she found herself stationed at Yongin, South Korea, where she met her husband, Tim. They have been married 25 years.

"I was a signal intelligence analyst during my first 13 years of active-duty service, but the best job I had before I got out was platoon sergeant," Smith said. "This is the job that epitomizes the noncommissioned officer position or me, and why I've come back."

Platoon sergeants, she added, have hands-on, direct contact with soldiers.

"You are the first one to know if your soldiers have problems, or if they've accomplished something, and I love being connected with troops," she said. "And next to [being a] sergeant major, I believe this is the best job in the Army."

After training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., last year, Smith rejoined the Army's military intelligence community. Returning to South Korea for her first active-duty tour in 25 years has been more than a typical overseas duty assignment, she said.

"My husband and I met while serving here in 1984, and it's like a homecoming," she said. "Returning to active duty after all these years was a major commitment I could have never made without his unwavering support."

During her early years of Army service, Smith had mentors who now are nearly gone from the Army rolls: Vietnam Veterans.

"They taught me a lot of things about what I could actually do, what I could endure, and what I could accomplish and overcome," she said. "When I began my first Army enlistment, I was a scared kid from Kentucky. And I was pushed beyond what I thought I could do, but found out I could do far more.

"To see soldiers like I was who come in today and don't have confidence in what they can do or are not aware of what they do," she continued, "my job as an NCO is to push them and encourage them, because we can do so much more than we believe."

In November, Smith met here with an NCO whose service predates her own. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston has served since 1975.

"SMA Preston asked me about why I came back in, and he encouraged me and welcomed me back into the NCO corps," she said. "I've met many successful people in my life, but I was as nervous as I could be, because he is the sergeant major of the Army, and the one who sets the bar for all of us and who we all strive to be.

"It was an honor for this old soldier to have those few minutes with him," she said. "There was an understanding of all the things that are not needed to be said - because we were Army then, and we are Army now, and we're still hanging in there."

Once you've been a soldier, you have a connection with people, and no matter where you go, you share a bond because you have served, Smith said.

"I've worn a lot of different clothes to work, but there's nothing like putting on this uniform [and] being proud of it. ... "It's the best job in the world, and I will continue to do the job my soldiers deserve up until the day I retire from the Army."

Smith added that female soldiers must respect themselves, treat everyone else with respect and take nothing less.

"Being a female in the military should never be used as an excuse to be less than absolutely all you can be," she said. "We're fellow soldiers, and we drive on."

Smith said she plans to retire in 2013, and she wants caring for soldiers to be her legacy.

"I want to know without a shadow of a doubt that I took care of my soldiers," Smith said. "I'm going to be that old veteran in the wheelchair at parades waving the American flag, proud of our soldiers marching through."

(Ken Hall works in the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys public affairs office.)

DoD Releases Updated E-Learning Standard

The Defense Department announced today the 4th edition of its Web-based e-learning standard, used by government, commercial and international agencies, allowing organizations to easily exchange online learning, training and educational content. Known as the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 2004, this e-learning standard ensures the learning experience and performance data tracking is consistent in the distribution of training courses via the Internet, and allows for online collaboration between users.

"SCORM 2004 4th Edition provides a significant step forward for the department—and e-learning communities in general. The proper use of SCORM reduces training time or training costs by a third, by encouraging organizations to reuse established content and reformat that content for their needs," said Robert Wisher, director of the ADL Initiative. "The updates represent a technical achievement for the Defense Department and our many users, and I'm very pleased we've met this important milestone."

Developed by the department and in collaboration with industry and academia partners, SCORM has become a de facto government, international and commercial standard. Dozens of vendors have developed products that comply with SCORM. The 4th edition corrects previous system defects, adds enhancements that were a direct result of community collaboration, and increases SCORM's interoperability across learning management systems.

More information on SCORM can be found at http://www.adlnet.gov . The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative was established in 1997 to standardize and modernize the delivery of training and education across DoD and other federal agencies. It is a collaborative effort to harness the power of information technologies to deliver high-quality, easily accessible, adaptable, and cost-effective education and training.

Social Software Keys Information Sharing, Security, Researchers Say

By John Ohab
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - Social software such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter may close information gaps on the battlefield by advancing collaboration and information sharing among warfighters and analysts, according to researchers at the National Defense University. "Social tools ... give people platforms to share information with each other in ways that you really can't do with e-mail or some more traditional forms of communication," said Mark Drapeau, associate research fellow at NDU's Center for Technology and National Security Policy during an April 1 "Armed with Science" audio webcast on Pentagon Web Radio.

"Every warfighter wants the right information at the right time, but in many cases it is very hard to know what the 'relevant' information is in advance," Drapeau said. "Social software can facilitate simple sharing of possibly relevant information to supplement traditional methods, yielding better knowledge for better decision-making."

Social software encompasses a broad range of tools that connect people and promote information sharing over networks such as the Internet. These tools include social networking, video and photo sharing, blogs, wikis, and instant messaging.

While many social software tools are freely available to the public, cyber security concerns, infrastructure limitations, employee demographics and existing federal policy have hindered the integration of these tools in the federal workplace.

"[The Defense Department] is simply the largest organization in the world. Large organizations, in general, are not very good at sharing information," Drapeau said.

Drapeau is working with Linton Wells II, former chief information officer for the Pentagon, on a soon-to-be published research paper that proposes a framework for how the department can use emerging social software to increase information sharing, transparency, and engagement with the public. The paper will address the national security and intelligence concerns that have limited the use of these tools, he said.

Drapeau compared the balance between information sharing and security to the balance between inhaling and exhaling. "We need both," he said.

"While cyber security is a very serious and important issue, completing your mission is a more serious and important issue," Drapeau said. "People need access to tools that will help them accomplish their mission."

Social software has played a role in a number of international events with U.S. national security implications. During last year's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, citizens used the micro-blogging platform, Twitter, to share information about the events as they happened in real-time. In March, the State Department used Twitter to deny rumors that could possibly have led to a siege on the American Embassy in Madagascar.

The push to incorporate social software into the Defense Department is in line with a memo President Barack Obama issued in January, "Transparency and Open Government," which directs leaders to foster in their agencies a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration by leveraging emerging information technologies, including social software.

Drapeau said this effort extends beyond just allowing the use of social software in the department.

"It means the government being more accountable to the people, being more transparent to the people, and working better with the people," he said.

(John Ohab holds a doctorate in neuroscience and works for the Defense Media Activity's Emerging Media directorate.)

Fiscal 2010 Budget to Reflect 'Fundamental Shift' in Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will make budget decisions this weekend that will indicate a "fundamental shift in direction" for the department, the Pentagon press secretary said today. "These are not changes to the margins," Geoff Morrell said. The changes will affect the fiscal 2010 Defense Department budget request, he explained.

Gates is expected to announce the changes during a news conference April 6. The announcement ends more than three months of careful analysis, Morrell said.

"A series of choices have been teed up for the secretary, and he will spend the weekend making those decisions and putting the finishing touches on his recommendations to President Obama," he said.

During the news conference, Gates will discuss his recommendations and the strategic goals that drove his thinking, Morrell said.

The secretary revealed some of his budget concerns during hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January. In that testimony, Gates stressed that he was ready to make tough choices. "Any necessary changes should avoid across-the-board adjustments, which inefficiently extend all programs," Gates said. "We must have the courage to make hard choices."

Gates is expected to push for more efficient rates of production and look for economies of scale as he makes his decisions this weekend.

Gates has said he will stress jointness in his deliberations while considering service specifics. "To address a given risk, we may have to invest more in the future-oriented program of one service and less in that of another – particularly when both programs were conceived with the same threat in mind," Gates said before the Senate.

The secretary also wants to implement changes that will increase competition, freeze requirements on programs when contracts are awarded, and increase incentives for proper contract behavior.

Since Obama assumed office, the president and Gates have had ongoing conversations about the process. "The president is well-aware of the decisions facing the secretary," Morrell said. "The president will make his own judgment about the recommendations put forth by the secretary."

This does not in any way suggest the White House has embraced the secretary's recommendations, but White House officials are aware of the process and how the secretary will unveil them, Morrell said.

The secretary wants the process viewed as a whole, rather than as the sum of its parts, Morrell said.

"He wants the opportunity to explain to the Congress and the American people how each of these decisions adds up to a budget that better allocates resources to meet the challenges we are currently facing, to support the warfighters that are currently engaged in conflicts while at the same time not neglecting the very real need to prepare for potential near-peer conventional conflicts down the road," he said.

Youth Have 'Tremendous Responsibility' Amid Global Crossroads, Obama Says

American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - The world is at a crossroads, and it's up to the future generations of leaders to take responsibility, President Barack Obama today told 300 students and young professionals from about 50 countries gathered in Strasbourg, France, for the NATO Youth Summit conference being held in conjunction with the alliance's annual summit. "We find ourselves at a crossroads, ... all of us, for we've arrived at a moment where each nation and every citizen must choose, at last, how we respond to a world that has grown smaller and more connected than at any time in its existence," Obama said.
“But it's also a tremendous responsibility, because it is you who must ultimately decide what we do with this incredible moment in history," he added.

In remarks ahead of the NATO summit today, Obama said the forces that have brought the world closer together have had both good and bad repercussions.

"The same forces that have brought us closer together have also given rise to new dangers that threaten to tear our world apart, dangers that cannot be contained by the nearest border or the furthest ocean," he said.

Outlining some of the 21st century threats the international community faces, Obama cited the spread of nuclear weapons and the theft of nuclear material, which has the potential to lead "to the extermination of any city on the planet."

Describing the global reach of terrorism, the president pointed to attacks on both U.S. and British soil that were hatched domestically and abroad.

"The terrorists who struck in London and New York plotted in distant caves and simple apartments much closer to your home," he said. As a result, every country in the international community has a share in responsibility, he added.

"Every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead, especially now," Obama said. "For whether it's the recession or climate change or terrorism or drug trafficking, poverty or the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we have learned that, without a doubt, there's no corner of the globe that can wall itself off from the threats of the 21st century.

"The one way forward -- the only way forward -- is through a common and persistent effort to combat fear and want wherever they exist," he continued. "That is the challenge of our time, and we cannot fail to meet it together."

Obama reached into the history of NATO, one day before the military alliance celebrates its 60th birthday. Without firing a single shot, he said, the alliance prevented the Iron Curtain from descending on the free nations of Western Europe, and led to the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the end of the communist threat.

"Two decades later, with 28 member nations that stretch from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, NATO remains the strongest alliance that the world has ever known," he said, praising the addition this week of Albania and Croatia, and France's recent pledge to deepen its commitment.

Speaking about the alliance's mission in Afghanistan, Obama praised the contributions made by NATO allies to an operation that he characterized as "indispensable to our common security."

"Now I understand that this war has been long. Our allies have already contributed greatly to this endeavor," he said. "You've sent your sons and daughters to fight alongside ours, and we honor and respect their service and sacrifice."

Obama said there's no decision more difficult, and no duty more painful, than signing a letter to the family of somebody who's died in a war. As a result, he understands doubts among Americans and Europeans about NATO's first overseas mission.

"But know this: The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan," he said. "We were attacked by an al-Qaida network that killed thousands on American soil, including French and Germans. Along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, those terrorists are still plotting today. And if there is another al-Qaida attack, it is just as likely, if not more, that it will be here in Europe, in a European city."

Obama said he has requested more civilian and military assistance from NATO allies to help root out terrorists who pose a threat to international security.

"This is a mission that tests whether nations can come together in common purpose on behalf of our common security. That's what we did together in the 20th century," he said. "And now we need an alliance that is even stronger than when it brought down a mighty wall in Berlin.

"That's why we applaud France's decision to expand and deepen its participation in NATO, just as we support a strong European defense," the president continued. "That's why we welcome Croatia and Albania into the fold. And that is why we must ensure that NATO is equipped and capable of facing down the threats and challenges of this new age."

The president implored the young people into action, cautioning that contentment with the successes of the last century will not help defend against modern threats.

"This is our generation. This is our time," he said. "And I am confident that we can meet any challenge, as long as we are together."

Young people, by virtue of being unburdened by the biases or prejudices of the past, have a unique privilege and responsibility today, Obama said.

"Each time we find ourselves at a crossroads, paralyzed by worn debates and stale thinking, the old ways of doing things, a new generation rises up and shows the way forward," he said.

NATO Remains as Necessary as Ever, Secretary General Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, now more than ever, must hold together to solve some of the world's most pressing problems, NATO's secretary general said on the eve of the alliance's 60th anniversary and summit. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the leaders of the 28 NATO nations have much on their plates during the summit, which begins today.

In a commentary in today's Wall Street Journal, de Hoop Scheffer made the case that NATO is as relevant today as it was when founded 60 years ago.

The secretary general noted that many of the leaders who attended the G-20 economics meeting in London yesterday also are attending the NATO summit today and tomorrow in France and Germany. In London, they concentrated on economic progress in the face of a global financial meltdown. At the summit, the leaders will stress security.

"This is not a total change of subject," de Hoop Scheffer wrote. "Imagine what would happen to the international financial system if there were another major terrorist attack. What would happen to investment and growth if the free flow of energy were seriously threatened? Could struggling economies keep the wheels turning if they came under the same kind of cyber attacks that Estonia suffered two years ago?"

Security is not discretionary; it is something that enables all other aspects of life and progress, de Hoop Scheffer said. Like an economy, security can be built only through multinational cooperation, he added. That cooperation is illustrated, he noted, in France and Germany jointly hosting NATO's summit.

The leaders meeting this week will have to chart a common way forward on Afghanistan, the secretary general said. While there has been progress in the north and west of the country, he noted, al-Qaida and the Taliban remain a threat.

The insurgency continues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and corruption and narcotics are endemic, de Hoop Scheffer said. International aid to the country is far too fragmented, he added. "We must do better, before the endurance of the international community and the patience of the Afghan people begin to wane," he said.

President Barack Obama consulted extensively with allies as part of the U.S. Afghan strategy review, and the allies will consult extensively on the recommendations during the summit, the secretary general said. This would include more support for Pakistan, and more coordinated efforts to strengthen Afghanistan's police and army.

NATO leaders also will discuss building a true partnership with Russia, de Hoop Scheffer said. NATO can work constructively with Russia on Afghanistan, missile defense and terrorism, he said.

"It is no secret that when it comes to Russia, there are a wide range of views within NATO, from the very cautious to the forward-leaning," he acknowledged. "Until we narrow that range, it will be difficult to engage Russia effectively."

For its part, Russia must decide whether it wants to recognize NATO's desire for partnership, "or whether it will continue to look at NATO through the prism of a Cold War that is long behind us," the secretary general said.

NATO leaders will adopt a declaration on alliance security that not only will reaffirm NATO's core business, but also will map what it should do in future, de Hoop Scheffer said.

"I hope that the alliance also will launch a fundamental review of NATO's strategic concept — one of the alliance's most important guiding documents — to get agreement among allies on what NATO should be doing in the 21st century, including on cyber defense and energy security, areas where I believe NATO should do more to add its unique value," he said.

The summit participants also will mark 60 years of the alliance. When the Soviet Union broke up, signaling the end of the Cold War, many forecast that the alliance would die.

"But NATO is alive and kicking, because it still has a unique job to do: to be the place where Europe and North America stand together, consult together and act together to ensure their common security," de Hoop Scheffer said. "That role will be reaffirmed and strengthened at this weekend's summit."

VA Secretary Expects Big Impact From Post-9/11 GI Bill

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - All systems are on track for this summer's rollout of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, which Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said he expects to have as monumental an impact as the original World War II-era GI Bill of Rights. Shinseki, who served as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003, told American Forces Press Service he understands the excitement over the new program that goes into effect Aug. 1.

The new GI Bill will provide the most comprehensive educational benefits since the original bill, officially called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was signed into law.

Many veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, will be eligible for full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend and an annual stipend of up to $1,000 for books and supplies. Reservists and National Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since 9/11 will have access to the same GI Bill benefits.

And for the first time, those enrolled in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program will be able to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or children.

"It has been a long time since we've had an education initiative that includes tuition fees [and a] housing allowance, [and] takes care of all of the requirements required to go to school," Shinseki said of the program. This will enable veterans to focus on their studies, he said, without the distractions of figuring out how to pay for them.

Shinseki said he expects the Post-9/11 GI Bill to have as big an impact as the original GI Bill. That law provided college education or vocational training for millions of returning World War II veterans, loans so they could buy homes or start businesses, and unemployment compensation while they looked for jobs.

By the time the original GI Bill ended in July 1956, 7.8 million World War II veterans had taken advantage of the education and training programs it funded, and another 2.4 million had signed up for VA-backed home loans.

"What that bill did for the country was to change the course of our history and the latter half of the 20th century," Shinseki said. "When those veterans went back to their communities with their college degrees, they ended up being our leaders in religion, education, business, government – you name it."

The Post-9/11 version "has the opportunity to create in the 21st century the same kind of impact for development, ... social change [and] leadership across a lot of institutions," he said.

The program will be administered and funded by VA, and represents a "huge investment" by the United States in its veterans, Shinseki said.

This, he said, sends a strong, unmistakable message.

"I think young veterans who come back and participate in [in the Post 9/11 GI Bill] will begin to understand how much they are valued [and] how much their service is valued, just by the opportunity here," he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates advocated expanding education benefits as a way to recognize troops' service while supporting both recruiting and retention. Gates first heard the transferability concept floated during a meeting with a military spouses' group at Fort Hood, Texas, and pitched the idea to then-President George W. Bush. Bush promoted the idea and ultimately signed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 into law on June 30.

A whopping 97 percent of servicemembers surveyed in August said they plan to take advantage of the new benefits provided in the Post-11 GI Bill, said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy.

"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.

Chairman Urges Support in Preventing Sexual Assault

American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - As the Defense Department kicked off its annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month observance, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took to the airwaves to tell servicemembers they have a part to play in preventing sexual assault. "It's up to each of us to prevent sexual assault," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said in a public service announcement being aired on the Pentagon Channel and its affiliates.

Mullen noted that nearly 3,000 armed forces members, both military and civilian, reported sexual assault last year.

"This crime has no place – NO PLACE – in our ranks," Mullen said. "One is one too many."

Mullen called on servicemembers to check out a new Web site, http://www.sapr.mil, to learn more about the department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.

"You can take a stand," he said, emphasizing the 'you.'"

"It's up to each of us," he said. "It's up to all of us."

North Dakota Adjutant General Gets 'Blogged' Down in Flood Response

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - North Dakota's adjutant general reached out to civilian and military Internet bloggers yesterday to detail the flood response efforts under way in his state. Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk said he wanted to use any means available to tell the nation what has taken place in his state. "Anything we can do to get the word out," he said. "I think it's very important." Sprynczynatyk said the blogging community and the Internet are just another means to get information and access to the public.

Bloggers on the call were interested in the spring floods along the state's Red River and other areas, which rose in late March. With the river receding and state officials now estimating the damage, Guard members and civilian responders are preparing for a predicted snow melt in the next few weeks, Sprynczynatyk said.

The general took questions on the telephone, as well as through online social media outlets, including Twitter, a popular social networking and micro-blogging service. The Blogger's Roundtable, a Defense Department social media program, hosted the event.

Roundtable coordinator Lindy Kyzer said in an e-mail that several hundred live listeners normally participate in their Roundtable talks. The interviews are then posted to iTunes for downloading. Bloggers post the interviews or portions of them on their Web sites, and typically include commentaries about the topics.

Blog readers are invited to post comments, which generate additional discussion and postings about the interview and topic.

"Today was the first time that a National Guard adjutant general has directly engaged bloggers to tell our story in a homeland defense mission," Jack Harrison, the National Guard Bureau's director of public affairs, said.

During his session, Sprynczynatyk told the bloggers that 2,400 Guard members joined local emergency responders to fly search-and-rescue missions, fill and stack sand bags, manage ice jams and help communities in many other flood response missions.

"It was epic in nature," Sprynczynatyk said. "None of us imagined what the scale of the event would be across the state."

He added that the North Dakota Guard had anticipated and prepared for flooding from the winter snowfalls. "We went through an extensive planning exercise to ensure whatever was asked of us we would be prepared for," he said.

Harrison said expanding the National Guard's public communications activities into new and developing media will provide the public unique access to leaders like the adjutants general.

"It's an opportunity that those in the community would not normally have to ask questions about their National Guard," he said. "The National Guard is based in the community, and this helps strengthen that bond."

The National Guard Bureau maintains a Facebook fan page, a Flickr account and a YouTube channel. Those sites can be found at http://www.NGB.Army.mil.

(Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves with the National Guard Bureau.)

Obama, Sarkozy Share Views on NATO, Russia, Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy today remembered the Americans "who fought and died for us" at Normandy as he called for greater integration between the United States and Europe under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Sarkozy and President Barack Obama held a joint news conference in advance of the NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, today.

Obama stressed that NATO is the most successful alliance in modern history. "The basic premise of NATO was that Europe's security was the United States' security, and vice versa," the president said.

The alliance has been the pillar of American foreign policy since its founding 60 years ago, and it will become even stronger ahead, Obama said. "With France's reintegration into the highest command structures of NATO, that principle will continue to be upheld," he said.

The alliance needs strong allies, both Obama and Sarkozy said. The French and American presidents said they want Europe to have much more robust defense capabilities.

The United States is "not looking to be the patron of Europe, we're looking to be partners with Europe," Obama said.

France and the United States have a shared vision of the world, Sarkozy said. "We don't want to impose our values on anybody," he said. "But we don't want anybody, anywhere in the world, to prevent us from believing in our principles."

At the summit, the alliance members will deal with future relations with Russia. Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met during the G-20 economics conference in London. The president said there is potential to improve U.S.-Russian relations.

"I think that it is important for NATO allies to engage Russia and to recognize that they have legitimate interests," he said. "In some cases we've got common interests. But we also have some core disagreements."

NATO and Russia should be in a dialogue. "We have to send a very clear message to Russia that we want to work with them, but that we can't go back to the old ways of doing business," he added.

One area of agreement could be Iran, Obama said. "All have an interest in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and that there should be a mechanism that respects Iran's sovereignty and allows them to develop peaceful nuclear energy, but draws a clear line that we cannot have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," he said.

Sarkozy said there is no exclusive Russian area of influence any more. "With the problems the world faces today, we're not going to reinvent the Cold War," he said. "We need the world getting together; we need the world to unite. We need Russia to shoulder its responsibilities, because it is a great country, a great power, to help us find a solution to the Iranian crisis."

France and the United States are on the same page in dealing with Russia, Sarkozy said.

Obama praised France for its stance on Afghanistan. He called France a stalwart ally and addressed the possibilities of all the NATO allies re-engaging in a more effective mission in Afghanistan.

"I've not had to drag France kicking and screaming into ... Afghanistan, because France recognizes that having al-Qaida operate safe havens that can be used to launch attacks is a threat not just to the United States, but to Europe," the American president said. "In fact, it is probably more likely that al-Qaida would be able to launch a serious terrorist attack in Europe than in the United States, because of proximity."

The French president endorsed the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. "I want to say to my fellow Frenchmen that when New York was crucified, this could have happened in any other capital city of any democratic state," Sarkozy said. "It wasn't New York that was being targeted, it was democracies at large."

France has a major presence in Afghanistan, with almost 1,100 soldiers. "We are prepared to do more in terms of police, of the gendarmes, the military police, in terms of economic aid, in order to train Afghans and 'Afghanize' Afghanistan," Sarkozy said.
"We are not waging a war against Afghanistan. We are helping Afghanistan rebuild," he said. "We don't support any given candidate. We support the right of young Afghans to look to a future, to have a future."

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 3, 2009

UNITED STATES TRANSPORTATION COMMAND
Evergreen Helicopters, Inc., of McMinnville, Ore., is being awarded a $158,397,403 indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for rotary wing aircraft, personnel, equipment, tools, material, maintenance and supervision necessary to perform passenger and cargo air transportation services. Work will be performed in Afghanistan and is expected to start Apr. 3, 2009, to be completed by Nov. 30, 2013. This contract was a competitive acquisition with four offers received. The contracting activity is United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., (HTC711-09-D-0023).

ARMY
BAE Systems, Tactical Vehicle Systems Limited Partnership, Sealy, Texas, was awarded on Apr. 1, 2009, a $64,092,257 firm-fixed-price and cost reimbursement contract for the procurement of 500 ten-ton dumps as an undefinitized contractual action obligating 49.9 percent of the ceiling price. Work is to be performed in Sealy, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army TACOM-Warren, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-C-0460).

Skanska Brandt Engineering, San Antonio, Texas, was awarded on Apr. 1, 2009, a $61,199,866 firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of the Tri-Service Research Laboratory. Work is to be performed in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Mar. 1, 2011. Ten bids solicited and ten bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Fort Worth, Texas, is the contracting activity (W9126G-09-C-0025).

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, Inc., Burlington, Vt., was awarded on Apr. 2, 2009, a $28,980,070 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of an additional 2,414 each M2 machine guns. Work is to be performed in Saca, Maine, with an estimated completion date of Apr. 2, 2009. One bid solicited and one bid received. TACOM LCMC, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52H09-07-C-125).

Weeks Marine, Inc. Covington, La., was awarded on Apr. 2, 2009, a $25,725,875 firm-fixed-price contract for the Grand Isle & vicinity rehabilitation of Hurricane Gustav and Ike damages. Work is to be performed in Jefferson Parish, La., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 31, 2009. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and four bids received. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-09-0038).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009, a $9,862,538 Primary firm-fixed-price with a time and Material contract for the procurement of thirteen M1A2 and M60A3 conduct of fire trainers and one M1A2 tank trainer's updates under Foreign Military Sale case SR-B-VTC for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Procurement includes delivery of trainer kits, spares, training, on-site acceptance and test, and technical data. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Apr. 14, 2011. One Sole Source bid was solicited and one bid received. Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting agency (W900KK-07-D-0707).

Titan Construction Organization, Inc., Olathe, Kan., was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009, a $9,387,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of consolidated communications facilities at Whiteman Air Force Base. Work is to be performed in Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 05, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and nine bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City, Mo., is the contracting agency (W912DQ-09-C-4019).

Telcordia Technologies, Inc., Piscataway, N.J., was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009, a $9,203,124 cost plus fixed fee contract to provide situational awareness to a small group of dismounted warfighters. Work is to be performed in Piscataway, N.J., with an estimated completions date of Mar. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited by Broad Agency Announcement and one bid received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting agency (HR0011-09-C-0065).

Better Built Construction Services, Middletown, Ohio, was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009, a $9,125,296 firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of the Training Support Center at Ft. Campbell, Ky. Work is to be performed in Ft. Campbell, Ky., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 21, 2011. Bids were posted on web and eight bids received. Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting agency (W912QR-09-C-0025).

RQ Construction, Inc. San Diego, Calif., was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009 a $8,726,996 firm-fixed-price contract for the design-build for military operations urban training Phase III, at Fort Irwin, Calif. This is a design Phase III consist of approximately 83 buildings. The primary facilities include a palace headquarters, barracks, multistory business and one two-story residence, training roads and instruments. Work is to be performed in Fort Irwin, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Jun. 30, 2009. Bids were solicited on www.fbo.gov and ASFI with nine bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Las Angeles, Calif., is the contracting agency (W912PL-09-C-0012).

I.C.D. Design Partnership, Madison, Wis., was awarded on Apr. 1, 2009 a $7,594,401 firm-fixed-price contract to increase the program square footage from 3600,000 gross square feet to 526,255 gross square feet. Work is to be performed in Madison, Wis., with an estimated completion date of Nov. 28, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and thirty bids received. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting agency (W912DR-08-C-0001).

Northrop Grumman Space & Mission System, Redondo Beach, Calif., was awarded on Apr 2, 2009, a $6,525,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee for the develop critical devices and integration technologies necessary to realize compact, high-performance electronic circuits that operate at a center frequency of 1.03THz. Work is to be performed in Redondo Beach, Calif., (82.58 percent), Charlottesville, Va., (1.84 percent), Pasadena, Calif., (9.38 percent), Charlottesville, Va., (3.51 percent), Tempe, Ariz., (1.73 percent), and University Park, Pa., (0.96 percent) with an estimated completion date of Mar. 31, 2014. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and nine bids received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting agency (HR0011-09-C-0062).

Bristol environment Remediation, LLC, Anchorage, Alaska, was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009, a $5,952,258 firm-fixed-price contract to implement the final intrusive drum removal and capping remedy for the Cargo Beach Road landfill. Work is to be performed in St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, with an estimated completion date of Jun. 30, 2010. One bid solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, is the contracting agency (W911KB-09-C-0013).

Rocky Hill Contracting, Inc., Kenbridge, Va., was awarded on Mar. 31, 2009, a $5,242,000 firm-fixed-price contract for constructing a training building in Fort Lee, Va. Work is to be performed in Fort Eustis, Va., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 15, 2011. Eighty bids were solicited and two bids received. U.S. Army Corp of Engineer, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting agency (W91236-09-D-0011).

NAVY

General Dynamics Information Technology, Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $50,814,949 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a cost-plus-fixed-fee pricing arrangement to support the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific Command and Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Secure Voice and Defense Red Switch Network, and information assurance and interoperability programs/systems. This five-year contract includes eight, six-month award terms which, if earned, would bring the potential, cumulative value of this contract to $98,145,000. Work will be performed at the contractor's facility in Norfolk, Va., (15 percent) and at government-furnished facilities in St Juliens Creek, Va., (85 percent), and work is expected to be completed April 2, 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunity web site (Solicitation N66001-08-R-0008) and the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central website, with two offers received. SSC Pacific is the contracting activity (N66001-09-D-0037).

Ewing & Cole, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa., is being awarded a maximum amount $7,500,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for architectural design and engineering services for support of projects within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic area of responsibility. The work to be performed provides for architectural and engineering services, including civil/structural/mechanical/ electrical. Services that may be required under this contract include DD Form 1391 documentation, plans, specifications, cost estimates, related studies, all associated engineering services, shop drawing review, as-built drawing preparation, quality assurance plan preparation, operation and maintenance support information, and construction surveillance and engineering consultation services during construction. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps installations and other government facilities within the NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic AOR including, but not limited to Pennsylvania (50 percent) and Delaware (50 percent), and is expected to be completed by April 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 17 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N40085-09-D-7022).

Tech Resources, Inc.,* Milford, N.H., is being awarded a $5,899,702 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 16 F/A-18+ AN/ALR-67(V)3 antenna coupler interconnecting groups for the Royal Australian Air Force and the government of Canada. Work will be performed in Milford, N.H., and is expected to be completed in July 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to the FAR 6.302-1. This contract combines purchases for the Government of Australia ($2,949,849; 50 percent) and the Government of Canada ($2,949,852; 50 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity (N68335-09-C-0133).

AIR FORCE
The Air Force is awarding a cost plus fixed fee contract to Alion Science and Technology Corporation of Chicago, Illinois for an estimated $9,178,744. This action is for the Special II Program, which requires modeling, simulation and analyses in the areas of radio frequency interference electromagnetic compatibility, signal intelligence, and emerging wireless technologies. At this time, $556,870 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska is the contracting activity (N61339-03-D-0300).

The Air Force is awarding an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to L-3 Communications Corp. of San Diego, Calif., for a maximum of $9,847,831. This contract will provide production and delivery of miniature electronic communications security units engineering and production models to be purchased in quantity ranges from 5 to 30 units. At this time, no money has been obligated. Directorate of Contracting, San Antonio, Texas is the contracting activity (FA8307-09-D-0002).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Caterpillar Inc., Mossville, Ind., is being awarded a maximum $8,863,745 fixed price with economic price adjustment, long term contract for motorized vibratory compactor roller. Other location of performance is Minnesota. Using service is Navy. There were originally four proposals solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 30, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM500-01-D-0059-0287).

JLG Industries, Inc., McConnellsburg, Pa., is being awarded a maximum $6,289,999 firm fixed price, long term contract for forklift linear valve. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There was originally one proposal solicited with two responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 6, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC-ZGAA), Warren, Mich., (SPRDL1-09-D-0013).

BAE Systems Land & Armament, Pompano Beach, Fla., is being awarded a maximum $6,288,811 firm fixed price, sole source, definite quantity contract for gunner restraints. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army and Marine Corps. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jul. 24, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Columbus, Columbus, Ohio, (SPM7LX-09-M-0003).

Groups Use Social Networking Sites to Reach Out to Supporters

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2009 - From fundraising to volunteering, troop-support groups are taking full advantage of social networking Web sites to reach out and gather support for troops at home and abroad. "We created three MySpace pages a few years back and a Facebook page this year," Andi Grant, president and founder of Give2TheTroops, said. "We update our pages daily, running current events, group news and photos. These Web sites have helped us quite a bit in gathering support and organizing."

Operation Gratitude, a California based troop-support group, has long believed social Web sites are a "great" tool for keeping in touch with supporters and sharing troop information. On its official Web site, Operation Gratitude urges all visitors to join the group's Facebook "cause" page and invite more of their Facebook friends to join as well.

"Our Facebook page was set up a month ago," Carolyn Blashek, president of Operation Gratitude, said. "The 'cause' page was set up about two years ago. We have seen an increase in volunteers and supporters through our Facebook networking. We started using Twitter about a month ago. The two have provided a mechanism for us to publish updates easily and recruit volunteers. I can honestly say keeping up with the two has enhanced our efforts, but also caused more work!"

Leaders of both groups agree social networking sites have allowed them to "get the word out" more quickly about different activities and events because of the high volume of traffic on these Web sites. It also allows for online conversations with prospective volunteers and supporters through chat rooms and forums, and direct supporters back to their official Web sites to collect funds for troop-support activities.

"By utilizing these Web sites, we have been able to introduce more people to who we are – our goals, our mission and why we do what we do," Blashek said. "We've also received a lot of positive feedback and ideas from supporters who didn't know we existed."

Grant, whose troop-support group is based in Connecticut, acknowledged some possible drawbacks to social networking.

"You need to have the time to maintain the Web site, answer questions and monitor responses and comments," Grant said. "There is plenty of competition out there, so if you don't have designated people updating and monitoring your page, it can have adverse effects."

Grant said he had to delete inappropriate remarks and, on occasion, links to other causes which other supporters wanted his group to endorse. "Bottom line – you have to patrol it often," he said.

While both leaders recommend social networking Web sites to other troop-support groups, they still value the success of their official Web sites.

"It's still too early to tell in comparing our Facebook page with our Web site," Blaschek said. "Our Web site is still a vital part of who we are. I would definitely recommend these other social networking sites to other groups. The more people know what you do, as it relates to supporting the troops, the better. I look at this as just another way of communicating with supporters."