Military News

Friday, April 17, 2009

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 17, 2009

NAVY
BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems, Nashua, N.H., is being awarded a $33,676,912 modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-08-C-0044) for the Low Rate Initial Production Lot V of the Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) AN/ALE-55(V) Subsystems and associated technical support and non-recurring engineering for the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18E/F aircraft. The AN/ALE-55(V) subsystem consists of an electronic frequency converter (EFC) and a fiber optic towed decoy (FOTD). This modification provides for a total of 70 EFCs for the U.S. Navy, (58) and the Royal Australian Air Force, (12); and 323 FOTDs for the U.S. Navy, (251) and the Royal Australian Air Force, (72). Work will be performed in Nashua, N.H., (92 percent) and Mountain View, Calif., (8 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy, ($27,469,780; 81.57 percent) and the Government of Australia, ($6,207,132; 18.43 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics, Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $10,250,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-4005) for non-nuclear maintenance and repair support at the Naval Submarine Support Facility, Naval Submarine Base, New London, Conn. Under the terms of the contract, Electric Boat will continue to provide services required to support planned and emergent non-nuclear maintenance and repair for operational nuclear submarines, floating dry-docks, support & service craft and other platforms and equipment. Work will be performed in New London, Conn., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $10,250,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

ARMY
General Dynamics C$ Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz., was awarded on Apr. 15, 2009 a $11,771,894 cost plus fixed fee contract for the technology development phase of the Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE) program. The Army will be procuring ten (10) GSE prototypes systems for the Prototype Phase. This contract also includes an option to support a potential Marine Corp requirement of five (5) GSE refined systems. Work is to be performed in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Anaheim, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 13, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and eight bids were received. Tacom Contracting Center, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-0382)

Rohde & Schwarz Inc. Columbia, Md., was awarded on Apr. 15, 2009 a $5,647,530 firm fixed price contract for compact receivers, spare parts package and contractor training as required by foreign customer under foreign military sales. Work is to be performed in Munich, Germany with an estimated completion date of Apr. 3, 2010. One sole source bids was solicited and one bid received. Cecom Acquisition center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-09-C-D012).

Raytheon Company, McKinney, Texas was awarded on Apr. 15, 2009 a $5,494,229 cost plus fixed fee contract for the technology development phase of the Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE) program. The Army will be procuring ten (10) GSE prototypes systems for the Prototype Phase. This contract also includes an option to support a potential Marine Corp requirement of five (5) GSE refined systems. Work is to be performed in McKinney, Texas, Tempe, Ariz., and Poway, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 13, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and eight bids were received. Tacom Contracting Center, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-0381).

Rockwell Collins, Inc., Cedar Rapid Iowa was awarded on Apr. 15, 2009 a $5,344,549 cost plus fixed fee contract for the technology development phase of the Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE) program. The Army will be procuring ten (10) GSE prototypes systems for the Prototype Phase. This contract also includes an option to support a potential Marine Corp requirement of five (5) GSE refined systems. Work is to be performed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Tallahassee, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 13, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web and eight bids were received. Tacom Contracting Center, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-C-0385).

AIR FORCE
The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to McDonnell Douglas Corp., of Long Beach, Calif., for an estimated $7,625,366. This action will provide Recurring Engineering Services for the B-1B Aircraft. At this time, no money has been obligated. OC-ALC/747th/PKB of Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (F33657-01-D-2050-SD21).

Next-Generation Navy Destroyer Set for Construction in Maine

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2009 - A recent agreement among the Defense Department, the Navy and shipbuilders will enable more efficient construction of the next-generation destroyer at one shipyard instead of two, a senior Defense Department official announced here today. The "swap" agreement calls for three DDG-1000 destroyers to be built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, John J. Young Jr., undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Work on the DDG-1000 destroyers previously was to be split between General Dynamics' Bath Works and Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi, Young said. As part of the new agreement, the Ingalls shipyard, which also builds some other Navy vessels, will gain a contract to build two more DDG-51 guided-missile destroyers.

The swap agreement, Young said, is the result of months of negotiations and is a reflection of "unprecedented efforts by the Navy and industry partners to operate in a business-like manner." The agreement, he added, involved compromises by all parties "to enable efficient construction of naval vessels."

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class vessel is a high-tech, guided-missile destroyer envisioned to eventually replace the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class of warships that were developed 30 years ago. Navy Adm. Arleigh Burke was a famous destroyer commander in the South Pacific during World War II.

Named for Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations in the early 1970s and died in January 2000, the DDG-1000 ships feature computer-aided design, modular construction, high-tech armaments and radar, as well as a unique, streamlined hull design.

The DDG-1000's complicated, high-tech content, Young said, makes its design and construction an admittedly expensive endeavor. Cost of a first prototype, or lead, DDG-1000 ship is estimated to be around $3.2 billion, he said, with prices of follow-on vessels likely to decrease due to industrial economies of scale.

The design and development of the DDG-1000 "has gone well," Young said, noting that the program has "gone to budget [and] gone on schedule."

Initial plans were to build 32 of the DDG-1000-series vessels at the Bath and Ingalls shipyards. Today, the Defense Department's proposed fiscal 2010 budget calls for building just three vessels.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today told members of the Naval War College in Newport R.I., that the United States will require a naval presence in the future.

"But we cannot allow more ships to go the way of the DDG-1000," Gates told the Naval War College audience. The DDG-1000's rising cost per ship, he noted, was among the reasons for buying reduced numbers.

Gates has recommended building more Arleigh Burke-class vessels and upgrading those now in the fleet. Sixty-four Arleigh Burkes have been built, not counting the two new ones slated for construction at the Ingalls shipyard.

Gates also deemed the arrangement for constructing DDG-1000s at the two shipyards as inefficient and too costly to taxpayers, Young said.

"I think it was important to him that we build these ships efficiently," Young said of his understanding of Gates' reasoning.

If the DDG-1000s couldn't be efficiently produced, Gates "was potentially prepared, even in the face of clear political danger, to go back and possibly cancel two ships, and that would have cut jobs in both shipyards," Young said.

Face of Defense: Air Force Band Member Enjoys Audience Interaction

By Army Spc. Eric J. Cullen
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2009 - For Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Castle, the opportunity to play for Haitian children at the U.S. Embassy here April 15 was a privilege. The U.S. Air Force Band of the West, based at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort as part Continuing Promise 2009, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored humanitarian mission.

Castle said he heard about a career in music in the military while attending graduate school at Rice University in Houston.

"I wanted a career serving as a performer," he said. "I love to boost morale and play in the ceremonies for our troops."

The performance went well at the embassy, Castle said, and the audience of mostly youth received the band with open arms.

"It was great," he said. "The kids were wonderfully behaved, very attentive and very appreciative. It feels good to be partners and friends with them."

Continuing Promise 2009 combines U.S. military and interagency personnel, civil service mariners, nongovernmental organizations, academia and partner nations to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services afloat and ashore alongside host-nation personnel. Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission that will visit seven countries in the region.

"Any time you can interact with the audience and everyone is engaged in the music, it is very exciting," Castle said.

(Army Spc. Eric J. Cullen is deployed to Operation Continuing Promise 2009.)

Gates Says America Must Protect Conventional Capabilities

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2009 - Though the proposed fiscal 2010 defense budget reflects some shifts in emphasis, it is important for the United States to maintain its capabilities for conventional warfare dominance, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told members of the Naval War College here today. But America also must be ready to face enemies across a wide spectrum of conflict, the secretary said.

Gates spoke at the Marine Corps War College on April 13, the Air War College on April 15 and the Army War College yesterday to present his rationale for budget-related decisions. In all three venues, he emphasized the idea that programs that aid warfighters have to have advocates.

This, he said, was why he placed programs that aid those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the base budgets of the services, rather than in supplemental funding requests. It's also why he recommends eliminating other programs, such as the airborne laser, the Air Force's combat search and rescue helicopter, the vehicle portion of the Army's Future Combat System and several missile programs, he said.

The Pentagon's processes for procurement and acquisition of new systems have to change, Gates said. In a lesson from history, he told the students that when Henry Knox, the country's first war secretary, was charged with building America's fleet in 1797, he had to build six frigates in six different shipyards in six different states to gain congressional support for the plan. "So some things never change," Gates said.

The secretary's recommendations for the Navy include accelerating procurement of the littoral combat ship. He acknowledged that the ship -- designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast -- has had problems, but said it's past those problems now.

"As you saw last week, you don't necessarily need a billion-dollar ship to chase down a bunch of teenage pirates," he said. "The size of the ship in such cases is less important than having Navy SEALs on board."

The United States still will need naval presence in the future, Gates said, noting that a U.S. Navy ship is a traveling piece of American territory that can influence friends and enemies around the world. "But we cannot allow more ships to go the way of the DDG-1000," he added. Since its inception, he noted, the projected buy of the Zumwalt-class destroyer has dwindled from 32 ships to three, as costs per ship have more than doubled.

Gates has recommended building more Arleigh Burke-class ships and upgrading the rest. He called the ship class the workhorse of the fleet.

The new focus requires new thinking, because the United States cannot build ships as it did during the Cold War, the secretary said. The Quadrennial Defense Review will provide the framework for this strategy, he told the Naval War College audience.

The secretary said America must put discussions about the Navy in perspective. "As much as the U.S. Navy has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, ... its battle fleet ... is still larger than the next 13 navies combined – and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners," he said. "In terms of capabilities, the overmatch is even greater."

No other country has the reach and firepower of carrier strike groups or expeditionary strike groups. But those are targets as well, and the American military must look for ways to counter threats to these assets from nontraditional foes with nontraditional capabilities, Gates said.

U.S. sailors are all over the world in many settings that previous thinkers wouldn't have thought possible, Gates noted.

"All of the services are challenged to find the right balance between preserving what is unique and valuable in their traditions, while at the same time making the changes necessary to win the wars we are in and, particularly in the case of the Navy, be prepared for likely future threats," Gates said. "With this budget, I have tried to make a holistic assessment of the capabilities, requirements, risks and needs across the services."

Chairman Emphasizes Need to "Get It Right" for Soldiers, Families

By Heather Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2009 - Making sure "we get it right" for the nation's soldiers and their families is his top priority, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told about 400 4th Infantry Division soldiers here yesterday. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen was here to thank soldiers and families for their sacrifices and service, and to listen to their concerns, comments and questions.

During a morning question-and-answer session with the soldiers, Mullen fielded inquiries relating to phasing out the "stop-loss" program that keeps some soldiers in the Army beyond expiration of their enlistments, as well as suicide prevention and mental health, "dwell time" at home stations between deployments and the Warrior Pay program.

Responding to one soldier's query about stop-loss, Mullen said he has not been a supporter of the program for a long time and thinks it needs to go away. "It is my expectation we will continue to call on the [Individual Ready Reserve]," he said.

Most of the questions dealt directly with deployments and what the future holds for the soldiers and their families.

"We live in extraordinary times of change," Mullen told the Fort Hood soldiers, most of whom recently returned from 15 months in Iraq. Continual deployments with no end in sight were part of the chairman's message, especially as the focus shifts to the war in Afghanistan. Mullen also acknowledged that the need to balance training with limited dwell time at home has stretched the force.

"You've met that challenge and all things associated with it," the chairman said.

Mullen said he would take input he received here to Washington and "incorporate the information into the leadership challenges we have to make to move forward."

Those challenges include increasing dwell time while providing resources and training to meet the mission in Iraq and the shifting focus to Afghanistan.

"We've got to win the fights we're in while building the health of the force and more time at home," Mullen said.

As troops are entering the eighth year of the nation being at war, the Army and Marines are on a "1-and-1" rotation schedule, serving one year deployed with one year at home before the next deployment. Mullen said he does not expect that schedule to change soon, but that "in 18 to 24 months, we should see more daylight between deployments."

Though the Iraq mission is winding down, the war effort is shifting to Afghanistan, with 17,000 troops scheduled to deploy there, mostly in the south, in the next few months, Mullen said. An additional 4,000 troops focused on training Afghan forces are expected to deploy later this year.

The chairman said when additional troops are brought in, violence is expected to go up at first, the chairman said.

"Hopefully, roughly one year from now, we will have that turned around," he said. "I am hoping in the next 12 months we have taken significant steps to turn the tide."

"Home-tempo," Mullen's term for nights spent at home, is expected to rise significantly beginning in late 2010 through mid-2011. Soldiers could start to see 15 or 18 months, and eventually 24 months of dwell time between deployments, he said.

"Our long-term goal is to be home for three years," he added. "We will move in that direction."

As the Army continues to grow and the new units are up to speed, the pressure on soldiers should begin to ease, Mullen said. But this is an expeditionary Army, he noted, and it will continue in that vein.

"I don't see a time when deployments end," he said.

Therefore, he said, the Army must do all that it can to ensure soldiers and their families are taken care of and receive the support and resources they need.

"We could not be where we are without family support," Mullen said. "We cannot sustain if we don't continue to support the families."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Miles, a 4th Infantry Division chaplain's assistant who recently returned from his third deployment to Iraq and sixth overall, agreed with the chairman that family support is vital to soldiers' ability to complete their missions overseas.

"My family has been my backbone," Miles said. One key to that support, he added, has been open lines with his wife and children.

"Communication has been important," he said.

Over time, Mullen said, support services -- especially mental health services -- have evolved and expanded to meet the needs of soldiers and their families. He addressed the mounting suicide rates across the services, and especially in the Army.

Suicides are at an all-time high, the admiral noted, and prevention is a primary focus on all levels. Addressing and relieving stress are important to suicide prevention, he added.

Though one suicide is too many, the chairman said, he noted that Fort Hood has had only one confirmed suicide this year.

"I applaud what you are doing," he said. "But we cannot rest on our laurels, because lives are at stake."

The stigma of seeking help for mental health issues has to end, Mullen added, and soldiers need to know they can ask for help without penalty or harassment.

Combat stresses are normal, he emphasized, and receiving professional help should be encouraged to help soldiers process and cope with their war experiences.

"It is a natural human condition after you've been through what you've been through," he said. "We've got to continue to focus on this."

Mullen said he looks to leaders to make sure people are taking care of each other. "In the toughest of times, it's great leadership that gets us through," he said, and the leadership piece is something that needs to continue to be worked.

"We need to retain the best, recruit the best and look to the future," he said.

Following his meeting, Mullen toured the installation. He met with families and viewed some of the programs and facilities offered for wounded troops, Gold Star Families, spiritual fitness and resilience.

(Heather Graham works in the 3rd Corps public affairs office.)

National Security Personnel System Goes Under Microscope

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2009 - The federal government's largest pay-for-performance system, the National Security Personnel System, is under review at the request of the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management. Since October 2006, about 205,000 defense employees were brought under the new NSPS, which replaced the 50-plus-year-old General Schedule system.

"With new leadership under a new administration, this review provides an opportunity for the department and OPM to gain a full understanding of NSPS, including how the system is operating, what the issues are, and the various stakeholder viewpoints and perspectives," Bradley Bunn, NSPS program executive officer, said. "The results of the review will assist leadership in determining the future of the program."

The review was announced March 16, and should take three to six months, Bunn said. The findings and recommendations are expected to be delivered in late summer.

The structure of the review is still being determined, Bunn added. It likely will be an external review to provide an objective assessment, which is how the department has approached reviews of other significant issues.

"We expect the review to include a thorough and comprehensive examination of the NSPS policies, regulations, and practices, as well as the underlying design principles of the system," he said. "We also expect the review to consider reports and evaluations already conducted on NSPS by external organizations such as the Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the Office of Personnel Management."

The review also may include outreach to a number of stakeholders, including senior leaders, managers and supervisors, employees, labor and professional groups, Congress, and experts in human resources policy, Bunn said.

"It will be important to gain the perspectives of those affected by NSPS," he said. "We expect that civilian employees will have an opportunity to make their views known, although we don't know how that will happen yet."

The Defense Department has suspended conversions of GS positions to NSPS until at least October, according to the NSPS Web site.

Clinton Observes Continuing Promise at Work in Haiti

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2009 - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton got a first-hand look yesterday at the humanitarian assistance a military, interagency and nongovernmental team is providing here as she toured a medical clinic set up during Continuing Promise 2009. Clinton visited the facility in the Cite Soleil section of Haiti's capital city, where she chatted with medical professionals who arrived here aboard USNS Comfort to provide critically needed medical and dental care to some of Haiti's poorest people.

Comfort, home-ported in Baltimore, arrived in Port au Prince harbor April 9, the first stop during its four-month mission through Latin America and the Caribbean. Its 850-member crew also will visit Antigua, Barbuda, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama before returning to the United States.

In addition to conducting 15 to 20 surgeries daily aboard the 250-bed floating hospital, crewmembers are treating about 500 patients a day at two onshore medical sites set up through coordination with Haiti's health ministry, said Navy Capt. James J. Ware, who oversees Comfort's medical operations.

Navy Capt. Robert G. Lineberry Jr., Comfort's commodore and tactical commander, walked Clinton through the Cite Soleil site, describing the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Continuing Promise mission.

The secretary shook hands with the medical staff as she toured the facility and posed for photos with the Comfort's medical staff. "Thank you for what you do here!" she called out, waving as she passed other crewmembers attending to patients.

"I'm very impressed and grateful that our country is able to provide this service," Clinton said as she left the building where dental, pediatric, women's health and pharmaceutical services are delivered.

Lineberry said Clinton was particularly impressed by the scale of the operation and the number of participating international and humanitarian organizations. "She sees that we certainly could be doing it even better with more organizations," he said.

The Comfort crew called Clinton's visit a highlight of a mission just begun, but already punctuated by high points.

"It shows that they actually care about what we are doing here, that they take the time to come down here and see it," said Navy Seaman Robert Barnes, a personnel specialist from Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla.

He said he hopes Clinton would see "that what we're doing is all worth it: people helping other people get medical care they wouldn't otherwise get."

"I hope she sees how much hard work we're doing here, and how we're giving aid to people less fortunate than in the United States," echoed Navy Seaman Laura Pickett, who works in a small tent just outside the dental treatment facility, sterilizing dental equipment.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Carlos Ramossanchez, a pharmacy technician from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., said the message he most wanted Clinton to take away was "the great work that all the organizations are doing, all working together, to take care of people."

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Peters, assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs Squadron 2 in Yorktown, Va., said Continuing Promise goes beyond the desperately needed care the USNS Comfort crew is providing. "It's about relationship-building between the two countries, and building communications and lasting partnerships," he said.

Clinton's visit came the day after she promised Haitian Prime Minister Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis in Washington that the United States will remain a "committed partner" in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. Lineberry called the visit a great opportunity to showcase how the Continuing Promise mission directly supports that commitment.

Before USNS Comfort launched the mission earlier this month, Lineberry and Ware met with the embassy staff at every country to be visited. "We sat within the embassy staff and with [the U.S. Agency for International Development] and asked, 'What is your plan, and how can we help you carry it out or help you with your objectives?'" Lineberry said.

This unity of effort helps to ensure all players are working cooperatively to support the same goals, while bringing an immense capability to the effort, he said.

Later during Continuing Promise 2009, when USNS Comfort visits Colombia, crewmembers will roll up their sleeves to support a major USAID effort under way there, Lineberry said. USAID helped to relocate about 200 families who were living in a low-lying area that regularly flooded to higher ground.

"Now we will be going in at the request of the embassy and USAID and put in a playground area and a community garden for this new community that USAID has put a lot of effort and resources into," Lineberry said. "Those are the kinds of opportunities we are looking for, with the Department of Defense working alongside the Department of State to achieve our objectives together."

National Guard Connects Military, American People, Gates Says

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - The National Guard is one of the best connections between the armed forces and the public, the secretary of defense said yesterday. "Our best connection to the American people and to communities is, in fact, the reserve component – the National Guard and the Reserves," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told an Air War College audience at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. "The fact that they have been turned into an operational reserve and have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and go back to their communities ... has had a huge impact."

Gates said that's easy to see in any newspaper around the country. "All you have to do is read about what happens in towns and cities when our fallen come home, where the whole town turns out ... with flags and lining the streets and so on."

Gates was responding to a question that suggested that Americans are more likely to know who has won "American Idol" than who has earned the Medal of Honor.

Some people were concerned that an all-volunteer force would create an elite force unconnected to the country, Gates said. But, in fact, "the all-volunteer force is the best military the United States has ever had" – and the National Guard is a vital link between men and women in uniform and civilians.

Calling the all-volunteer force "America's greatest strategic asset," Gates talked about changes in the direction of the Defense Department.

"Starting with the roll-out of the Iraq surge, my overriding priority has been getting troops at the front everything they need to fight, to win and to survive, while making sure that they and their families are properly cared for when they return," Gates said.

Among key changes Gates cited: fixing outpatient care, getting better armored vehicles and sending more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability into the combat theater.

Getting such capabilities into the hands of warfighters is a focus of Gate's request in the fiscal 2010 Defense Department budget. "While the military has made great strides in operating jointly over the last two decades," he said, "procurement remains overwhelmingly service-centric. ... It's so important to look across the services for joint procurement and joint capability so that a single service doesn't bear the full burden of completing a mission that actually will involve all of the services."

The secretary also stressed the importance of partnerships, using the recent spate of piracy off Somalia's coast as an example in noting that the key difference between dealing with piracy in Southeast Asia and dealing with it in Somalia has been partnership capacity.

"There was a huge piracy problem in the Strait of Malacca, and hijackings were almost as frequent as they are now off of Somalia," Gates said. But partnerships with other governments have significantly reduced piracy in Asia, he said.

"The problem is that in the Somalia area, we don't have governments like we had in Southeast Asia to be able to deal with the problem," he said. "That's what makes Somalia a particularly difficult issue."

The National Guard contributes to building partnership capacity through its State Partnership Program, which pairs 61 countries worldwide with states and territories.

Partnership activities include exchanges by high-level military and civilian leaders. Military-to-military contacts bring state National Guard members together with foreign troops. Military-to-civilian activities focus on homeland defense, homeland security and military support to civilian authorities, including disaster preparedness, emergency response and consequence management.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 16, 2009

AIR FORCE
The Air Force is awarding a cost-reimbursement, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract to the University of Dayton Research Institute of Dayton, Ohio for $15,100,000. This contract action will enable the quick reaction evaluation of materials and processes. At this time, $154,133 has been obligated. Det 1 AFRL/PKMN, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-D-5600).

NAVY
McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded an $11,577,286 firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for implementation of Engineering Change Proposal 6282, "Fatigue Test Article 50/Fatigue Test Article 77 Post-Cost Reduction Initiative Inner Wing Retrofit Out of Warranty Kits" for the F/A-18E/F aircraft, including 144 wing pylon spar fitting kits. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed in November 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $1,800,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Obama Discusses Mutual Security Interests of U.S., Latin America

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - President Barack Obama said it's critical for the United States to support Mexico's efforts to take on drug cartels that have "plagued both sides of the border." After a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Los Pinos, Mexico, Obama discussed the security partnership between the neighboring countries and the broader interests of the region.

"At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the borders, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue, both through initiatives like the Merida Initiative, but also on our side of the border, in dealing with the flow of guns and cash south," he said.

The Merida Initiative will provide equipment and training in support of law enforcement operations and technical assistance to promote the long-term reform, oversight and professionalization of Mexico's security agencies, according to the State Department.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said intelligence sharing, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are areas where the U.S. military can help Mexican forces, and added the military-to-military relationship with Mexico is in the best shape he has ever seen.

"There is a significant opportunity to continue to cooperate and to focus very heavily with respect to the needs on the border and the kinds of capabilities that they need from an intelligence and equipping piece," he said after meeting with Mexican leaders in Mexico City.

Obama called Mexico a global leader, and emphasized the importance of partnering on items of mutual interest, including terrorism and other security issues.

"These are issues in which the United States and Mexico will have to stand side by side in order to promote common security and common prosperity," he said.

The president's remarks come on the same day that he published an opinion article in more than a dozen U.S. and Latin American newspapers urging unity among regional partners. "Just as we advance our common prosperity, we must advance our common security. Too many in our hemisphere are forced to live in fear," Obama wrote. "That is why the United States will strongly support respect for the rule of law, better law enforcement, and stronger judicial institutions."

Ahead of the fifth Summit of the Americas, which runs April 17 – 19 at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Obama underscored the importance of advancing common security interests, highlighting the United States' unique responsibility.

"Security for our citizens must be advanced through our commitment to partner with those who are courageously battling drug cartels, gangs and other criminal networks throughout the Americas," he wrote, adding, "Our efforts start at home.

"By reducing demand for drugs and curtailing the illegal flow of weapons and bulk cash south across our border, we can advance security in the United States and beyond," he continued. "And going forward, we will sustain a lasting dialogue in the hemisphere to ensure that we are building on best practices, adapting to new threats, and coordinating our efforts."

Warfighters Top Budget Priorities, Gates Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - Making sure warfighters have everything they need "to fight, to win and to survive, while making sure that they and their families are properly cared for when they return" was the "overriding priority" of the fiscal 2010 Defense Budget request, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today. As part of rebalancing the department's efforts, Gates told students at the Army War College here that he wants all DoD personnel to be on a war footing. Since taking office in December 2006, he said, he has noticed that this is not necessarily the case, "even as young Americans were fighting and dying every day."

Part of the problem, Gates said, was that many in the department viewed the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as aberrations and not the likely models of future U.S. conflicts. The fact that mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles did not have a regular place in the Army or Marine Corps future planning, despite their success in theater, was in example of the problem, he said.

"Therefore, we should not spend too much, or buy too much equipment not already in our long-range procurement plans, or turn our bureaucracies and processes upside down," Gates said. "As a result of these failed assumptions, the capabilities most urgently needed by our warfighters were, for the most part, fielded ad hoc and on the fly, developed outside the regular bureaucracy and funded in supplemental appropriations that would go away when the wars did – if not sooner."

But wars like Iraq and Afghanistan will not go away, the secretary, which led to his budget recommendations to give the warfighters a seat at the budget table. Gates shifted funding for programs that benefit the warfighters from supplemental appropriations to the services' base budgets.

"One of the things I have learned since entering government 43 years ago is that the best way to ensure that an organization really cares for and protects something is to put that thing in its base budget," he said.

Programs to benefit the warfighters include such things as more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. The changes bulk up special operations forces and "train and equip" programs for foreign militaries. The changes also call for more tactical and strategic airlift.

"This shift should be of special resonance to our ground forces, which have borne the human and material brunt of the current conflicts," Gates said.

The secretary also seeks to change the strategic mind-set of Defense leaders. DoD needs "to recognize that the black and white distinction between conventional and irregular conflict is an outdated model," he said.

The future will be more complex and an enemy will likely confront America again, Gates said. Even near-peer competitors are likely to use asymmetric tactics, including cyber-warfare, guerilla tactics and low-tech roadside and car bombs, he said.

"Future adversaries will continue to employ new readily available technologies in sinister ways," he said. "They will adapt and develop new tactics, techniques and procedures as fast as they can imagine ways to gain any advantage on us. This kind of warfare will require innovative, versatile leaders and capabilities with the maximum possible flexibility to deal with the widest possible range of conflict."

Another thing that has to change is the acquisition and procurement system, Gates said. The department and the services must work more closely together. The American military is a world-class, joint organization. This joint capability, unfortunately, does not carry over to acquisition, he said.

"Where different modernization programs within services exist to counter roughly the same threat, or accomplish roughly the same mission, we should look more to capabilities available across the services," Gates said.

The services need to work together more closely and a capability in one service must be taken into consideration by other services, he said.

The military needs to shift away from the 99 percent "exquisite" service-centric solutions. These programs are costly and take too long to build, Gates said.

"With the pace of technological and geopolitical change, and the range of possible contingencies, we must look more to the 80 percent solution that can be produced on time, on budget and in significant numbers. As Stalin once said, 'Quantity has a quality all its own," said Gates, who holds a doctorate in Russian studies.

Gates explained his recommendation to cancel the Army's Future Combat Systems vehicle program, saying it
does not fully take in the lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That the service needs to modernize is not a question. It's how best to do it, the secretary said.

"Before we spend 10 years and nearly $90 billion, and before we send young soldiers downrange, we had better be sure to get it right – or as close to right as we can," he said.

Gates said the Army will keep the money with hopes that a vehicle program can be re-launched. "My hope is that we can be ready to move forward in fiscal 2011," he said. "And I have directed that all the money for FCS in the out-years be protected to fund the new vehicle modernization program."

Gates said that other decisions remain to be made. The Quadrennial Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review will provide guidance for the fiscal 2011 budget.

America's Servicemembers Deserve Nation's Gratitude, Biden Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - U.S. servicemembers' combat missions over the years -- in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq -- have earned them the support and thanks of a grateful nation, Vice President Joe Biden told troops at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., today. Today's generation of American warriors, Biden said, are "the most powerful, best disciplined, best-trained warriors America has ever, ever produced. And for that I thank you and we owe you -- and that is not an exaggeration."

So, the U.S. government is working hard to "improve the quality of life on bases all across America," Biden said, noting that $17.8 million is being invested at Whiteman to modernize the base and improve the quality of life for its servicemembers.
Additionally, Biden said, recent legislation includes more than $7 billion for military construction projects, including hospitals, child care centers, and upgraded housing.

The government also has expanded GI Bill benefits to make college more affordable for servicemembers and military veterans, Biden said.

"All in all, this administration is wholly devoted to serving the brave women and men in uniform," the vice president said. "As you sacrifice to serve our country, we should do a little sacrifice serving you."

And funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Biden said, has been boosted by $25 billion.

"That's never happened before," he said. "It's the biggest (VA) budget increase in a generation."

Thousands of wounded warriors "will need the most modern medical health
care for the rest of their lives," Biden pointed out. "The cost of that will be in the tens of billions of dollars. But it's a sacred, a sacred commitment."

Increased health care coverage, he said, will provide 5.5 million veterans with timely and high-quality health care.

"We're providing services to veterans with the efficiency and quality they deserve, and keeping that deep debt that we owe that you should and have a right to demand," Biden told servicemembers.

"We owe you a particular obligation today," he said, "because there's tens of thousands of men and women who have already fought and continue to fight bravely for our country in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Biden also saluted National Guard members who deploy overseas and the families -- reserve and active component -- who support them at home.

"It's become a day job for tens of thousands of Guardsmen, in addition to all your families," he said.

Biden also praised the families of servicemembers who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the families of wounded warriors.

"I say to the families, thank you, thank you, and we owe you -- we owe you as deeply as we owe your kin, your blood," Biden said.

Servicemembers' "unyielding commitment" to the defense of their nation, Biden said, is part of what "makes each and every one of you so special."

Biden's son, Joseph "Beau" Biden III, an Army National Guard captain, is serving in Iraq.

"So from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of every one of those young men and women on the ground, like my son in Iraq, I say to all of you, I admire you, the president admires you, and we are putting our money where our mouth is in terms of seeing to it that you have everything you need as you deploy, when you deploy, and when you come home," he said.

Gates Discusses Tough Decisions, Congressional Oversight

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 16, 2009 - In his two-and-a-half years as Defense secretary, Robert M. Gates has had many hard decisions to make. But none, he said here today, compare to the difficulty of his part in sending men and women into combat. "The rest of it all pales by comparison," Gates told students at the Army War College here. "Knowing what I have to do, but knowing the consequences."

Approving combat deployments, Gates said, is not an ethical issue for him, "but it is the toughest moral issue that I face."

Gates made the comments as part of a question-and-answer session with the audience following a speech he gave about his recommended fiscal 2010 Defense Budget, his third such speech at a military college this week.

Responding to an audience member's question, Gates said the decisions get tougher the higher in government a person climbs. "If there was a good option, somebody at a lower level would have made the decision and taken credit for it," he said. "By the time a decision gets to the president or the secretary of Defense, more often than not, you're having to choose the least bad option. And the question that is always difficult is sending people into battle and knowing the cost."

The secretary also spoke about the need for congressional oversight in departmental decisions. As a government worker for 43 years, Gates said he has always been guided by adherence to U.S. law.

"I have always believed that, as painful and frustrating as it can be, that congressional oversight, whether it's over intelligence or over the military, is absolutely essential to keeping us all on the right track," he said.

In the next few weeks, Gates said he anticipates interesting conversations with Congress members on his fiscal 2010 recommendations. "I actually kind of look forward to that because I think there is, in some areas, some misunderstanding about the nature of the decisions that have been made," he said.

Gates also discussed changes in the way that DoD civilians are trained. "One of the areas where I am working on developing human capital is on the civilian side," he said. "For a variety of reasons, a good part of the civilian part of our business has been turned over to contractors."

There are more contractors working for the Defense Department than there are government employees, Gates said.

"We are in much the same situation in the whole acquisition, contracting and procurement world," he said. "We have thousands and thousands and thousands of contractors helping us manage contractors. And so first thing we're going to do is we're going to rebuild the professional acquisition cadre in the Department of Defense – with professional civil servants."

In the next five years, the goal is to put in 20,000 civil servants replacing contractors, Gates said. Next year he wants to start with 4,000.

The secretary also was questioned about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military. "We will do what the president tells us to," Gates said.

The policy is not just a policy, it is law, and the military will uphold the law, Gates said. "If the law changes, so will our policies," he said.

Gates said he and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have begun a dialogue on this issue with President Barack Obama. The issue is complex and difficult, and the force is already under considerable strain from two wars, he said.

"The president has been clear about where he wants to go and what he thinks needs to be done," Gates said. "But I think that he is approaching this in a deliberate and cautious manner, so that if we do go down that road, we do it right and we do it in a way that mitigates any down sides."

Gates said he agrees with that approach. "I believe this is something that needs to be done very, very carefully," he said.