Military News

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Defense Department Budget Request Pushes Reform

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2009 - The Pentagon's chief financial officer today described the Defense Department's fiscal 2010 funding request as a "reform budget." Comptroller Robert F. Hale and Navy Vice Adm. P. Stephen Stanley, the Joint Staff's budget expert, unveiled a defense budget request that supports Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' recommendations.

"If approved, I think it will change the way we manage the Department of Defense," Hale said during a Pentagon briefing.

The budget includes $533.8 billion in the base budget and $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The budget, 4 percent more than that for fiscal 2009, is 4.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

The proposed 2010 base budget represents an increase of $20.5 billion over the $513.3 billion enacted for fiscal 2009. The 4 percent increase represents 2.1 percent real growth after adjusting for inflation, Hale said.

The budget is firmly rooted in taking care of the department's most precious resource – its people. "This is the highest priority for our nation," Stanley said. "It's strongly supported by all the service chiefs -- clear recognition that the strength of our nation is based on the ability of our people to go forward and defend our way of life."

The $663.8 billion request proposes a 2.9 percent pay raise for servicemembers and a 2 percent raise for Defense Department civilians. There will be more servicemembers, too. The budget fully funds the increase in Army and Marine end strength and halts decreases in the Navy and Air Force.

The request also takes care of military families. It fully funds the military medical accounts with $47 billion, and provides $11 billion to fund military housing and support programs for single and married servicemembers.

The budget also provides $3.3 billion for care for wounded, ill and injured servicemembers and their families. If approved, this money would go toward creating an expedited disability evaluation system, 12 more Wounded Warrior facilities and help for servicemembers with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Gates wants to reshape the force, and this budget begins the process. The aim is to build a military to fight the wars America is most likely to fight – irregular and unconventional. Gates has said the nation needs a balance of forces, and the Defense Department must modernize with this balance in mind.

The proposed budget includes additions to help to build partnership capability and train and equip allies. The budget request seeks to add 2,400 special operations forces who are key to irregular and unconventional war.

Helicopter aviation is a premium in the wars today, and the budget calls for training 150 more crews starting in fiscal 2010. The budget calls for buying littoral combat ships and a joint high-speed vessel that will serve well in irregular warfare.

"And we've stopped the growth of Army brigade combat teams at 45, rather than going to 48," Hale said, "to fully man these units within a given end strength, so that they're ready at a moment's notice to fight."

Modernizing conventional capabilities is also important. The budget ends the F-22 fighter jet program at 187 aircraft. "We believe that is enough of these high-capability aircraft to meet the high-end threats," Hale said. The budget also ends the C-17 airlifter program at 205, which, with the C-5 Galaxy aircraft, provides enough lift for the force, officials said.

The department will beef up cyber-defense capabilities and increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. "We'll make a variety of increases; for example, in our unmanned aerial vehicle programs," Hale said.

The comptroller said he hopes the pending Air Force aerial refueling tanker purchase will remain on pace for contract award by spring 2010.

The Army's Future Combat System will be restructured, with its technological spin-offs in network-centric warfare going to all units, but the vehicle portion being terminated, Hale said. "The Army will relook at that program and start it again at some point, with that thought in mind and taking into account the more than $25 billion we've spent buying mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles," he said.

The budget gets away from asking for emergency supplemental funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We're asking for $130 billion to fund wartime activities in fiscal year 2010 [in the base budget]," Hale said. Eighty percent of it or so is for operations – added tank miles, paying mobilized reserves and so on.

"This request is where you're going to first see the swing of not only dollars or resources, but [also] combat capability, from the Iraq theater into the Afghan theater," Stanley said. "Actually, you'll see in this request that the money requested here, about $65 billion for Afghanistan, actually exceeds the $61 billion that we're requesting for Iraq."

Supporting troops in the field is the backbone of the budget request. Building an all-terrain vehicle version of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle for operations in Afghanistan is part of the $130 billion war-funding portion of the request.

Another $7.5 billion is slotted to train added Afghan soldiers and police. The overseas contingency operations fund also has $1.5 billion for the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, and $700 million for the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund.

The budget calls for reducing the percentage of contractors working in the department from 39 percent today to 26 percent, Hale said. The budget also funds more manpower positions for contracting officials.

Overall, the budget request breaks out the $136 billion for military personnel, $185 billion for operations and maintenance accounts, $107.4 billion for procurement, $78.6 billion for research and development, $21 billion for military construction and $2 billion for family housing.

The Army would receive $142.1 billion, the Navy $156.4 billion, and the Air Force $144.5 billion.

First Lady Vows More Support for Military Spouses, Families

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2009 - First Lady Michelle Obama was surprised to learn that the majority of military families feel their struggles often go unnoticed, she said during an interview today with The Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. "I just saw the results of a recent survey done by Blue Star Families that shows that 94 percent of military families feel as if the country doesn't understand their challenges," Obama said. "That's a pretty powerful statement."

The struggles include moving from city to city and trying to find good schools, or child care, or a new job. In the case of a military spouse, all of these struggles fall on one set of shoulders when a servicemember is deployed.

The administration is moving ahead with concrete measures to make military families' lives a little easier, Obama said.

"We're seeing a 2.9 percent increase in salary for our [servicemembers] to ensure that we're retaining and attracting new numbers of individuals who want to be part of the military forces and feel like they can build a life as a result," she said. "In terms of our spouses, the administration is investing $80 million just for career development and training for spouses, which is critical."

That's just the beginning.

"You'll see more down the line that will show, not just in word but in deed, that we have to invest in our military, their families, and our veterans in a real meaningful way," she added. "Whether that's job training, mental health support [or] whether that's ensuring that people have access to the health care they need."

These are all good steps to lowering the number of military families who feel disconnected from the rest of the American public, but more can be done, the first lady said.

"There's also a separate call to the nation that has nothing to do with the government," she said. "It's what we do in our own neighborhoods that's also an important part of what this community of families needs to feel."

It's about neighbors reaching out, businesses reaching out to new military families in the area. Even schools and colleges can help military families and spouses by thinking creatively about helping them transfer credits and gain access to training and other educational opportunities, she said.

The outreach doesn't need to be a grand gesture, as even the smallest act is a signal to the military community that the nation understands the sacrifices its servicemembers and their families are making, Obama said. And even though she, too, has endured having an absent spouse, she said there is no comparison to the extra burden on military spouses.

"I try not to compare my experience in any way to what a military spouse faces," the first lady said. "When I was away from my husband during the time of the campaign, he wasn't at war.

"What I do know is that when you're married to somebody who feels a call to serve, that you're part of that service as well," she said.

That means she'll stand behind, next to, or with her husband, Obama added. "The women and men that I've met who are serving alongside their spouses feel the same way," she said. "They feel a part of this challenge and they embrace it with pride and dignity and courage and strength."

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen recently declared tomorrow "Military Spouse Appreciation Day." It's a wonderful recognition, Obama said, "but that's just one day. We should be doing it every day."

In light of the day, however, she said she wants every military spouse to know they're loved, valued and appreciated, and that the administration will work hard to make sure that's realized.

She had one other wish for them as well. "Hopefully somebody will take them out to lunch," she said with a chuckle.

MILITARY CONTRACTS May 7, 2009

NAVY
Archer Western Contractors, Atlanta, Ga., is being awarded a $38,949,000 firm-fixed price contract for the design and construction of an aircraft taxiway/parking apron and an aircraft maintenance hangar (Greenside), at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico. Work will be performed in Quantico, Va., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 2011. 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 eight proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity, (N40080-09-C-0011).

Tri Star Engineering Inc., Bedford, Ind., is being awarded a $34,228,780 cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for antenna system and component maintenance and repair in support of Electronic Countermeasures, Fire Control, and Search Radars. Work will be performed in Crane, Ind., (25 percent) and Bedford, Ind., (75 percent), and is expected to be completed by May 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $50,000 will expire at the end for the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-09-D-GR40).

General Dynamics Information Technology, Fairfax, Va., is being awarded an estimated $10,906,614 modification to previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee multiple award contract (N65540-02-D-0041) for engineering and technical services for alteration installations, engineering research, design, computer programming and logistics on hull, mechanical, electrical and electronics systems onboard U.S. Navy ships. Work will be performed principally at fleet concentration areas including but not limited to Norfolk, Va., (25 percent); San Diego, Calif., (15 percent); Mayport, Fla., (55 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (3 percent); and Yokosuka/Sasebo, Japan, (2 percent); and is expected to be completed by Mar. 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $2,181,323 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Ship System Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity.

Ultra Electronics Oceans Systems, Braintree, Mass., is being awarded a $9,993,352 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-6102) to exercise an option for fiscal year 09 production in support of the Acoustic Device Countermeasure (ADC) MK 3/4 Program. The MK3 (torpedo countermeasure) and Mk 4 (sonar countermeasure) are both 16 CM countermeasures and produced together to promote component commonality among the two devices and reduce production costs in operating the 16 CM countermeasure production line. Work will be performed in Braintree, Mass., and is expected to be completed by May 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Alliant Techsystems, Inc., ATK Tactical Propulsion and Controls, Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, Rocket Center, W.V., is being awarded a $9,452,708 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development efforts for solid rocket propulsion technology. Work will be performed in Keyser, W.V., (54 percent) and China Lake, Calif., (46 percent), and is expected to be completed in Sept. 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via a Broad Agency Announcement; two offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-C-0032).

More Ospreys Will Deploy With Marine Unit, General Says

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2009 - After three successful combat deployments over more than 19 consecutive months, Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys will begin a global deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, a senior Marine aviation official said yesterday. The Marine Corps views these first three deployments of the Osprey into combat as marvelously successful," Lt. Gen. George J. Trautman III, deputy commandant of aviation, said during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable. "The aircraft completed every assigned mission, and it did so flying faster, farther, and with safer flight profiles than any other assault support aircraft in the history of military operations."

While in Iraq, the Osprey flew thousands of missions, impressing those who flew in it with its speed and range, Trautman said.

"The way the Osprey collapsed the battle space in al Anbar -- in fact, indeed throughout all of Iraq -- is really something that amazed those who saw it perform," he said. "The aircraft has tremendous range, and [impressive] speed with which it moves around the operational area."

For example, Trautman said one of his commanders told him that when the Osprey arrived in Iraq, it turned his battle space from the size of Texas into the size of Rhode Island.

The Osprey's speed and range, Trautman said, means a lot more support for Marines on the ground.

"Marine aviation exists to support the warfighter -- the Marine on the ground, the soldier in distress -- and the Osprey offers the warfighter a tremendous advantage over the enemy, and it also offers an incredible increase in capability for our commanders."

While the MV-22 is being deployed only with the 22nd MEU right now, Trautman said every MEU will have an Osprey squadron in the future.

"As the transition from our legacy CH-46s to MV-22s continues, every subsequent MEU from the East Coast is going to deploy ... Ospreys, and this will have a very important effect on those combatant commanders that we support," he said.

Though the Osprey has faced some challenges and there is still much to learn from the deployments to Iraq, Trautman said, plans call for sending one squadron to Afghanistan later this year.

"We understand that Afghanistan is a harsh environment, especially a harsh environment on aircraft," he said. "But we're incredibly confident that having the Osprey in that environment is going to pay dividends for our forces."

Trautman added that several different weapons and weapons systems have been mounted to the Osprey, and that officials are discussing other options.

"We're going to increase the capability of the ramp-mounted weapon system to take up to a .5- caliber machine gun for heavier firepower should we need it," he said. Also, the Air Force Special Operations Command has developed a smaller-caliber weapon that can provide 360-degree quadrant coverage, the general added.

(Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby serves in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Air Force Reserve, Air Guard Maintain Aerial Firefighting Certification

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2009 - Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard crews and aerial firefighters are participating in a week-long annual certification hosted by the U.S. Forest Service to be qualified and prepared to fight forest fires at a moment's notice. About 40 military air crews and aerial firefighters are participating in the training.

"The event is done using military C-130 aircraft and U.S. Forest Service lead planes," Air Force Lt. Col. David Condit, 302nd Airlift Wing chief of safety at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., told online journalists and bloggers at a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable yesterday. "We have four different airlift wings that will deploy -- one from the Air Force Reserve and three from the Air National Guard."

In addition to the military crews receiving the certification, representatives from several countries are observing the training to take away lessons learned from the training.

"We usually get two to three countries that will come in and observe our certification, and then a couple times a year, we'll be asked to go help train or qualify folks on similar types of aircraft systems," Condit said.

The training uses the Air Force's Military Airborne Firefighting System II, which deploys fire retardant from a C-130 Hercules transport. Based on previous short-notice MAFFS activations for U.S. wildland fires, the importance of the annual certification week underscores the need for airlift wings to remain vigilant to answer the call at any time, Condit said.

The airlift wings come from as far as North Carolina to participate in the training. The wings participating in the certification are the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing; the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing; the 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard; and the Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing from Colorado.

The units involved in the certification have done so through interagency agreements that prove beneficial not only during the firefighting season, but also during the hurricane season, Condit said. Ongoing interagency relationships, he explained, promote sharing of valuable lessons learned.

"We have conferences twice a year where we get together with our interagency partners and kind of examine how we did business over the last year and see if there are any other takeaways from that," Condit said. "We attend the national aerial firefighting academy each year, and we have a [working relationship] between civilian air firefighters and the military, and that helps us."

Working hand in hand with civilian firefighting agencies, military air reserve component members provide critical support to contain wildland fires and help save citizens and their property. Condit said that this type of interagency support is ideal, because constant sharing of best practices allows them to "pick up things from them and they pick up things from us, and I think it helps us share knowledge."

The support network comes in handy when coordination is necessary to put out a rampaging fire, such as last year's fires in California.

"Last year, we had a contingent of helicopters, 16 federal military helicopters and 18 C-130s that were all put on task in California," Condit said, "and to be able to use that large of a tool effectively, we're able to stand up an organization up at the fire center and help manage that resource, and I think that was a good example of how we were beneficial on an interagency format."

He added that this relationship enabled organizing a lot of different resources quickly when civil resources were tapped out.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Better-equipped National Guard Still Faces Critical Shortages

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

May 7, 2009 - Equipment critical to both domestic and warfighting missions and aircraft essential to guarding the nation's air sovereignty remain areas of concern for the National Guard. That was the message Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, and Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting deputy director of the Army National Guard, gave members of the House Armed Services Committee's air and land forces subcommittee May 5.

"The Army has made great progress toward improving equipping levels within the Army National Guard," Carpenter said. "In recent years, the Army has made an unprecedented level of investment in Army National Guard equipment."

But both Carpenter and Wyatt said more needs to be done – and the Air Guard director sounded a warning about aging F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighter aircraft.

"Our primary concern is that 80 percent of the F-16s, the backbone of our air-sovereignty alert force, will begin reaching the end of their service life in eight years," Wyatt said. "We need solutions for what we in the Air National Guard refer to as the 'mid-term gap,' and for long-term recapitalization. Neither of these can be sacrificed.

"If we sacrifice the mid-term, we risk uncovering a critical line of defense. If we sacrifice the long term, or fifth generation, we risk what can best be referred to as our children and grandchildren's critical edge. Everything has to be on the table. This infrastructure of equipment is not just fighters; it includes tankers, air traffic control, command and control, security and communications – the entire system supporting and protecting our nation's last line of defense."

Critical dual-use items needed for both domestic and overseas missions are a top priority for the Army National Guard and the National Guard Bureau, Carpenter told committee members.

"It is ... important to note that a significant quantity of critical dual-use equipment, while it may have been issued to [Army National Guard] units, is chronically unavailable to governors ... due to continuing rotational deployments," Carpenter said.

Modernizing the truck fleet, procuring more battle command equipment and expanding stocks of water purification systems, generators, material-handling equipment, field feeding systems, tactical ambulances and aviation ground equipment are key concerns for the Army National Guard.

"We appreciate ... the strong interest of the Congress and the Department of Defense in closing the gap between our domestic requirements and the available equipment in our armories and motor pools," Carpenter said.

"Shortfalls in equipment will impact the Air National Guard's ability to support the National Guard's response to disasters and terrorist incidents in the homeland," Wyatt warned. "Improved equipping strengthens readiness for both overseas and homeland missions and improves our capability to train on mission-essential equipment."

The 1950s technology used by air traffic controllers and the 40 percent of the Air National Guard's vehicles that are at or beyond their life expectancy also are areas of concern for the Air Guard, he added.

The hearing was intended to get a straightforward assessment of the National Guard's equipment levels in light of the Commission of the National Guard and Reserves recommendation that the Guard be equipped and resourced as an operational reserve rather than the Cold War model of a strategic reserve, said U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, the committee chairman.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to provide Congress with a detailed budget in the coming weeks, and the directors said they could provide more information once that budget is released.

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

DoD Releases Fiscal 2010 Budget Proposal

President Barack Obama today sent to Congress a proposed defense budget of $663.8 billion for fiscal 2010. The budget request for the Department of Defense (DoD) includes $533.8 billion in discretionary budget authority to fund base defense programs and $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The proposed DoD base budget represents an increase of $20.5 billion over the $513.3 billion enacted for fiscal 2009. This is an increase of 4 percent, or 2.1 percent real growth after adjusting for inflation.

The fiscal 2010 budget proposal will end the planned use of supplemental requests to fund overseas operations, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The inclusion of these expenses as a separate category in the department's annual budget request will ensure greater transparency and accountability to Congress and the American people. The budget will also request funds in the base that were previously in supplementals for programs such as those supporting our military families and providing long-term medical care to injured service members.

"This budget provides the balance necessary to institutionalize and finance our capabilities to fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies," said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Key highlights of the proposed DoD budget are outlined in the attached overview and summary charts. For more information and to view the entire fiscal 2010 budget proposal, please visit http://www.budget.mil and download the department's "FY 2010 Budget Request Summary Justification." Budget-related transcripts can also be viewed online at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/index.aspx?mo=4&yr=2009 to include "DoD News Briefing With Secretary Gates From The Pentagon" on April 6, 2009.

Defense Department Officials Hope to Create 20,000 Acquisition Jobs

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2009 - Defense Department officials want to increase acquisition jobs by 20,000 over the next five years, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III told Congress yesterday. Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Lynn cited a "lack of critical skills" as a major consideration while the department reforms its process for purchasing weapons and defense systems.

"These new positions will ensure that [the Defense Department] knows what it is buying and gets what it pays for," he said.

The Defense Department budget, expected to be submitted to Capitol Hill today, includes funding to increase acquisition personnel by 20,000 positions over the fiscal years 2010 to 2015, Lynn said.

The breakdown includes roughly 9,000 jobs at the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency, the Pentagon components responsible for estimating contracting costs and contract oversight.

The remaining 11,000 new hires will be created when roles currently carried out by contractors -- jobs in systems engineering, program and business management, and logistics -- are converted to federal positions.

"One of the critical reasons for some of our shortcomings in the acquisition process is the lack of critical skills in the acquisition work force," Lynn said. "Over the last 10 years, defense contract obligations have nearly tripled, while our acquisition work force has fallen by more than 10 percent.

"In the absence of these personnel, we have outsourced too many functions that should be performed inside the department," he added.

Lynn acknowledged the challenge in attempting to enhance a system as complex as defense purchasing, noting that nearly 130 studies of acquisition reform have been completed since World War II.

"Many very smart people have tried and have met with only limited success," he said. "In this regard, we need to keep in mind the importance of not making the system worse in our efforts to achieve reform."

Describing other areas in need of improvement, Lynn stressed a need for clearer, more realistic contract requirements and cost estimates, and the importance of shortening the development cycle.