Military News

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

MILITARY CONTRACTS May 13, 2009

NAVY
Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $10,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for advanced development, engineering, and testing efforts in support of reliable acoustic path vertical line array sensor systems for distributed netted systems. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., (40 precent); Riviera Beach, Fla., (30 precent); Greensboro, N.C., (25 precent); Groton, Conn., (5 precent), and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as a result of a broad agency announcement with proposals solicited and offers received via FedBizOpps. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-5215).

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $7,436,085 time and material delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for wind tunnel testing of the prototype Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) on the F/A-18E/F. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., (92 percent); and Philadelphia, Pa., (8 percent), and is expected to be completed in Mar. 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $5,765,878 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., being awarded a $5,828,085 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5444) for phalanx simulated infrared/visible engagement targets engagement simulator kits with shorting plugs in support of the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System Program. Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is a fast reaction terminal defense against low and high flying, high-speed maneuvering anti-ship missile threats that have penetrated all other ships' defenses. The CIWS is an integral element of the Fleet Defense in-depth concept and the Ship Self-Defense Program. Operating either autonomously or integrated with a combat system, it is an automatic terminal defense weapon system designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy anti-ship missile threats penetrating other defense envelopes. PHALANX CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies. Work will be performed in Louisville, Ky., (15 percent); Tuscon, Ariz., (5 percent); and England, (80 percent), and is expected to be completed by Jan. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE
The Air Force is awarding a cost plus fixed fee contract to Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., of Herndon, Va., for $11,541,898. This contract action will provide surface warfare mission development research and analysis to commander, Surface Warfare Development Group. At this time, $55,556 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1380).

The Air Force is awarding a cost plus fixed fee contract to Alion Science and Technology Corp., of Chicago, Ill., for an estimated $6,411,510. This contract action is for Modeling Simulation Information Analysis Center will provide research analysis, findings and recommendations to the newly established Army Enterprise Task Force to establish an enterprise approach to Army decision making management process. At this time, $434,782 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (FA8722-09-C-0001).

Upcoming Joint Wargame Examines Future Force Capabilities

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - Security experts from inside and outside the Pentagon soon will test out predictions on what the U.S. military will look like and how it will operate in coming years, a senior U.S. military officer said here yesterday. The seminar-type, joint wargame experiments will be held in McLean, Va., from May 31 through June 5, and they'll feature input from national security experts, multinational partners and interagency organizations, said Navy Rear Adm. Dan W. Davenport, chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command's joint concept development and experimentation directorate.

"The idea is to bring the right kind of leaders and thinkers together," Davenport said, to analyze and "deal with the future threat."

The wargame looks ahead to 2020, he said, and will feature scenarios that pit U.S. joint forces against three types of enemies: a globally networked terrorist threat, a peer competitor, and a failed or failing state.

The hybrid-war threat, whereby a potential adversary would employ both conventional and irregular forces during a conflict with the United States, is "probably the most challenging" threat, Davenport said, because "you're really having to deal with the full spectrum of threats, all at one time."

Another challenging, complex scenario, Davenport said, involves instances of military and interagency coordination in transitioning from traditional U.S. warfighting actions to other-than-war tasks, such as providing humanitarian and reconstruction aid.

"We realize that any solution we come up with has got to incorporate and include the interagency and multinational perspectives," Davenport said.

In a related effort, Joint Forces Command is revising its Joint Operating Environment report, known as the JOE, which predicts potential threats to U.S. national security in the years ahead.

The current JOE report predicts a future of persistent conflict and hybrid enemy threats, global instability, increasing access to weapons of mass destruction, the rise of regional state and non-state actors, and the unpredictability of security threats.

Input from the JOE influences the Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated report that's prepared every four years that also seeks to predict future threats while balancing U.S. military capabilities to confront them.

The companion piece to the JOE, known as the Capstone concept for joint operations, represents Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen's vision for how the joint force will operate in the future, and it provides proposed solutions to envisioned security threats presented in the JOE. The Capstone also is used to guide U.S. military force experimentation and development efforts.

The JOE outlines the possible problems or threats confronting U.S. joint military forces in the future, Mattis explained, while the Capstone concept presents proposed solutions.

The war gamers in McLean will experiment with the Capstone concept's solutions to predicted potential future threats outlined in the JOE report.

Army Seeks Inexpensive, Lightweight, Reliable Battery

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

May 13, 2009 - The Army's Advanced Automotive Battery Initiative is searching for the "holy grail" of power technology: an inexpensive, lightweight and reliable battery. "Collaboration is very important, in my opinion," Sonja Gargies, energy storage team leader for the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, told listeners during an "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" webcast May 6 on Pentagon Web Radio. "I don't see how one agency alone can accomplish the goal of a more energy efficient world."

Academia and industry, along with the Defense and Energy departments, need to work together to make the goal a reality, she said.

"The 'holy grail' of power is actually the path that leads to an inexpensive, lightweight, reliable and long-lasting battery," Gargies said.

TARDEC and other collaborating agencies, such as the Energy Department and the Army Research Lab, are trying to find dual-use niche markets with industry and academia under this new initiative.

"The battery initiative's outcome is to establish a cost-competitive, flexible, domestic production base where we can have high-quality, advanced automotive battery materials, along with components that have dual-use applications for military ground vehicles, hopefully by 2015," Gargies said.

Toward that end, TARDEC chaired a battery-planning summit meeting, where military and commercial vehicle users worked together to reach a consensus on the near-term equipment for launching and executing this initiative. The result was an Advanced Automotive Battery Initiative white paper.

"Basically, [we are] maximizing the commonality between the military and commercial market," Gargies said. "We're hoping to reduce the overall cost and increase the manufacturing flexibility to address the ... unique vehicle military requirements and weapon systems requirements."

The military is a large consumer of batteries, but that alone doesn't create a sufficient demand to justify the creation of facilities and cell manufacturing that are solely devoted to military applications, Gargies said.

"To reduce the cost for military and industrial applications, we need to grow the niche battery markets while taking advantage of something called 'dual-use' technologies that will help meet the needs of both commercial and military vehicle platforms and products," she explained.

Gargies added that battery research and development is an integral part of the national effort to develop environmentally friendly technology.

"In addition to the conventional applications, they can be used for electric vehicles, hybrid-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, to reduce the greenhouse emissions and the dependence on imported oil," Gargies said. "They can be used to store electricity that is generated by solar energy and wind energy."

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

Face of Defense: Maintainer's Idea Earns Big Bucks

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel Martinez
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - A simple suggestion earned $10,000 for an engine maintainer here and saved the Air Force thousands more. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jerome Latham, an engine craftsman with the 35th Maintenance Squadron, suggested a technical order change that resulted in validated, tangible savings and was approved for implementation throughout the Air Force.

Latham's idea involved extending the divergent flap wear limit on the exhaust nozzle of the F110-GE-129 aircraft engine.

"We do regular inspections, and these parts were supposed to be replaced," he said. "The wear limits were minimal, and we were throwing them away all the time."

At first seeking simply to obtain a local waiver, Latham contacted the engine manufacturer. He was given permission to increase the wear limit for Misawa and implemented the new practice in December. Looking at past data, he discovered the local change would save the base more than $256,000 annually. Believing the rest of the Air Force could implement the same change, Latham submitted his suggestion to the Air Force's IDEA program – an acronym for "innovative development through employee awareness."

"There was a lot of paperwork that needed to be submitted, but I knew I had the evidence," Latham said. "It was a long process, but it paid off in the end."

Latham was notified recently that his idea was approved and his suggestion would be added to the new technical order. Air Force Col. Robert Craig, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander, presented Latham with the $10,000 check in his work center.

"A lot of people see the same things I did, but don't want to take the time to fix them," he said. "It was just a simple change. Lesson learned: keep your eyes open, save the Air Force money and improve your job by doing it more efficiently."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel Martinez serves in the 35th Fighter Wing public affairs office.)

Admiral Cites Partnership, Commitment as Keys to Piracy Crackdown

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - With piracy generating big news in the Gulf of Aden, a far-less-recognized multilateral partnership has brought pirates' swashbuckling days to a virtual halt in the strategic Strait of Malacca. Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, praised a partnership among Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and, increasingly, Thailand and the Philippines, that has boosted maritime security dramatically.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's trade -- about 50,000 vessels each year -- transit the narrow passageway that links the Indian and Pacific oceans. Until three years ago, pirates trolling the strait had been launching almost 50 attacks a year, Keating said. Today, that number has dropped to fewer than five.

"That's astounding," he said of the decrease – one he attributes to the initiative of nations bordering the strait, with help from U.S. technology.

"In years past, the nations that border the Strait of Malacca were not nearly as willing as they are today to engage in multilateral, multinational operations," Keating told American Forces Press Service during a flight to India. Not so today, as they've joined forces to increase patrols and to improve their collective maritime domain awareness and law-enforcement capabilities.

"They are sharing information. They are sharing a common operational picture. They're passing information back and forth," Keating said.

Congressionally approved "1206 money," named for the section of the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes the United States to help other countries build their military capacities, has gone a long way toward promoting this effort, he noted.

The funding covers the cost of highly sophisticated radars, radio capabilities and training, delivering them far more quickly than through other military programs.

"But the larger issue is the nations cooperating and focusing on the issue themselves," Keating said. "More nations are saying, 'We can do a better job ourselves, by cooperating.'"

While praising the effort, Keating stopped short of calling it a blueprint for cracking down on piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. Piracy in that region has spiked sharply, with pirates successfully carrying out 42 of their 122 attempts in 2008, Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

Beyond simple geography – the Somalia-based pirates operate in a region of more than a million square nautical miles -- the challenges extend to the bordering countries themselves.

"The countries whose shores border the Strait of Malacca all have standing militaries, and they're all democracies with firmly established procedures for observing and executing the rule of law," so they're able to prosecute pirates, Keating said.

"The situation is not nearly the same for all the countries bordering the Gulf of Aden, and that is a significant challenge for U.S. Central Command."

Lack of a strong Somali government is a key part of the piracy problem in the Centcom area of responsibility. It provides "freedom of action" for pirates along the Somalia coast, Daniel Pike, the Pentagon's acting principal director of African affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee in March.

The root cause of maritime piracy resides on land, Pike said, emphasizing the need for an international solution to address.

To better confront the problem, Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, who commands U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, stood up a multinational anti-piracy effort known as Combined Task Force 151 on Jan. 1. Task force members have national mandates to conduct counter-piracy operations and work together "to support our goal of deterring, disrupting and eventually bringing to justice the maritime criminals involved in piracy events," Gortney explained as the task force became fully operational in mid-January.

CTF 151 operates primarily in and around the Gulf of Aden, but also in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. At any given time, 12 to 16 warships from the task force and from other nations are operating in the region.

"The international presence there is significant," a Navy official said. "We are working with everybody who is there."

Fishing Boat Incidents Indicate Troubling Rift With China, Admiral Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - The top U.S. officer in the Pacific called recent Chinese harassment of U.S. Navy ships "troublesome" and lamented China's refusal to resume military-to-military dialogue as a lost opportunity to promote understanding that could prevent conflict. Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, admitted he's as baffled as anyone by the May 1 incident in which two Chinese fishing boats closed in on and maneuvered dangerously close to the USNS Victorious in international waters in the Yellow Sea. That followed on the heels of a March 8 incident in which five Chinese vessels surrounded and harassed the USNS Impeccable as it was conducting operations 80 nautical miles off Hainan Island.

"Their behavior is troublesome," Keating told American Forces Press Service during a flight to India. Chinese vessels defied maritime 'rules of the road,' he said, but also posed a danger to ships operating in accordance with international law.

Keating dismissed any Chinese challenges regarding the right of U.S. Navy ships to operate in China's economic exclusion zone, or EEZ. He noted that 40 percent of the world's waters constitute one or more nations' EEZs, and that other countries' ships regularly operate within them.

"Our ships are operating in accordance with international law and standard rules of the road, and our standing rules of engagement," he said. The Chinese, by harassing them, "are conducting themselves in ... ways that are just not done by normal seafaring men and women."

Bothersome as the incidents are, Keating said, he's even more troubled that there's no military-to-military dialogue between the United States and China to make sure incidents like these don't get out of hand.

China suspended U.S.-Sino military-to-military relations after the U.S. government's announcement in October that it was selling arms to Taiwan. The suspension halted what Keating had considered promising developments.

"In our view, we were making reasonable progress," he said. "We were engendering friendship and improving understanding and a more transparent dialogue."

That progress proceeded despite roadblocks China put in the way – including its sudden denial of port access to the USS Kitty Hawk battle group during the 2007 Thanksgiving weekend, and an earlier denial to U.S. minesweepers seeking refuge from a brewing storm.

"You just don't deny safe harbor to ships that are in need," Keating said. "But we had moved beyond that incident."

That included a new defense hotline for U.S. and Chinese military leaders. It got its first operational use to coordinate U.S. humanitarian support after a devastating earthquake hit southern China last May.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Chinese military delegations conducted senior-level exchanges. Keating made several visits. Another exchange, led by Pacom's senior enlisted advisor, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jim Roy, took a delegation of senior enlisted leaders to China. The Chinese reciprocated with a similar visit to Pacom's headquarters in Honolulu.

Keating hasn't been back to China since it severed military ties with the United States, and he conceded he's disappointed that China brought an abrupt halt to progress being made.

He said he wants to see the suspended Military Maritime Consultative Agreement talks, focused on maritime safety, continue. He wants to see China participate in – or at least observe – humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search-and-rescue exercises.

"We are not able to engage in any of those activities, and in my mind, those are opportunities lost," Keating said. "It is not helpful."

But he's particularly concerned about the potential consequences of cutting off communications. There's no direct way to pick up the phone, dial a number and tell his Chinese counterparts, "I am calling you to tell you I don't understand what you are doing," he said.

"It would be helpful to understand so we don't have confusion," he said. "If confusion persists, that can lead to some sort of confrontation. And confrontation ... can engender a crisis."

And a crisis, if not abated, could lead to conflict, he said.

Keating expressed concern that misunderstandings between the United States and China could escalate if they're not nipped in the bud through simple communication.

"Every day that goes by that we don't have an ability to discuss -- whether it is fairly tactical or broad strategic issues" – with China's military represents "opportunities not realized," he said.

Defense Budget Reflects Lessons Learned, Future Threats, Gates Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said his focal points in formulating fiscal 2010 defense budget recommendations were military troops and families, balancing between current and future missions and reforming the Pentagon's buying process. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the details of President Barack Obama's proposed $534 billion defense budget for fiscal 2010 during a House Armed Services Committee hearing today.

"First and foremost, this is a reform budget reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet also addressing the range of other potential threats around the world now and in the future," Gates said.

On the heels of a trip to Afghanistan last week, Gates said one purpose of his visit was to get the "unvarnished and unscripted" perspective from troops and commanders downrange.

"As we increase our presence there – and refocus our efforts with a new strategy – I wanted to get a sense from the ground level of the challenges and needs so that we can give our troops the equipment and support to be successful and come home safely," he said. Such input, Gates added, has provided the best source of ideas for directing the Defense Department.

"As I told a group of soldiers on [May 7], they have done their job," he said. "Now it is time for us in Washington to do ours."

Gates laid out his three principal objectives, citing the need to reaffirm the commitment to take care of the all-volunteer force, which he said represents America's greatest strategic asset.

"As Admiral Mullen says, if we don't get the 'people' part of this business right, none of the other decisions will matter," Gates said.

The defense secretary's second objective is to rebalance the Defense Department's programs in order to enhance warfighting capabilities for the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to prepare for scenarios the U.S. is most likely to face in the years ahead, while hedging against other risks and contingencies.

Gates announced his recommendations last month, distributing funds in accordance with what he characterized as the type of "complex hybrid" warfare he expects will be increasingly common. He allotted roughly half of his proposed budget for traditional, strategic and conventional conflict, about 40 percent for dual-purpose capabilities and the remaining 10 percent for irregular warfare.

In addition to the breakdown he outlined, the defense secretary's proposal seeks to move funding away from supplemental budgets and into the baseline budget. Gates said today his suggestions were derived from lessons he's learned during his tenure as defense secretary.

"As you know, this year we have funded the costs of the wars through the regular budgeting process – as opposed to emergency supplementals," he said. "By presenting this budget together, we hope to give a more accurate picture of the costs of the wars and also create a more unified budget process to decrease some of the churn usually associated with funding for the Defense Department."

Finally, Gates reiterated the need to reform the defense acquisition process.

"We must reform how and what we buy," he said, "meaning a fundamental overhaul of our approach to procurement, acquisition, and contracting."

Mullen endorsed the collaborative and comprehensive process by which Gates and the department reached their conclusions about the proposed shape and contents of the budget.

"Decisions to curtail or eliminate a program were based solely on its relevance and on its execution. The same can be said for those we decided to keep," he said. "None of the final decisions were easy to make, but all of them are vital to our future.

"It's been said that we are what we buy, and I believe that," he added. "And I also believe that the force we are asking you to help us buy today is the right one, both for the world we are living in, and the world we may find ourselves living in 20 to 30 years down the road."

Nominee Plans to Draw on Lessons From Past Threat Reduction Programs

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - President Barack Obama's nominee to be assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs said yesterday he agrees with a recent report on future opportunities for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. "It's an excellent report, and I personally endorse all the recommendations," Andrew Weber told the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the National Academy of Sciences report during his confirmation hearing. "The most important one is that we take lessons learned from our threat reduction programs in the former Soviet Union and expand them geographically to other areas of the world."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is working on a determination that would allow the use of new authorities given by the committee in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Initially, the focus will be on biological threat reduction programs, Weber said.

It's possible that these programs could be expanded into other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Africa, in the future, he said.

"Another recommendation, which I fully endorse, is the need for less bureaucracy and more agility and flexibility as we implement these programs," Weber said. "And, if confirmed for this position, I will oversee the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and will work with that agency on improving the flexibility.

"Secretary Gates has said that a 75 percent solution in months is better than a 100 percent solution in years," he continued, "and I think that will be sort of our guiding mandate as we move forward with these programs."

Weber currently is an advisor for threat reduction policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is responsible for initiatives to reduce the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The former foreign service officer is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches a course on force and diplomacy in the foreign service program. He also holds a master's degree from Georgetown and earned his bachelor's degree at Cornell University.

Army Makes Progress in Achieving Balance, Casey Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - The Army is making progress toward getting current operational needs and long-term requirements back in balance, but there is still a long way to go, the service's top officer said today. The Army is so weighed down by current demands that it can't do "the things we know we need to do to sustain the all-volunteer force for the long haul and restore our strategic flexibility to do other things," Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. told Pentagon reporters during a media roundtable.

The service is following plans put in place in 2004 and 2007 to address the balance question by 2011. "That sounds like a long time, but in an organization of 1.1 million people that's growing and transforming itself, it's not at all," Casey said.

The general said the next 12 to 18 months are the crunch time for the Army, "because we will actually increase the number of troops we have deployed by about 10,000 as we shift [forces] from Iraq to Afghanistan."

Balance for any military service is important, the general said. "For the Army, it is having procedures revised to deploy a steady stream of trained and ready forces to the combatant commanders," Casey said, "and to do that in a way that is sustainable for soldiers and their families."

The current war is the longest the country has conducted with an all-volunteer force. Casey said there is "a thin red line" that could break the service if it's crossed.

The most important part of balance officials are working to attain is the time soldiers spend at home between deployments, the general said. Currently, soldiers spend a year deployed followed by slightly more than a year at home. Army officials want to get the "dwell time" at home to three years for every year deployed.

"You can fix this two ways: increase the forces, or decrease the need," Casey said.

The Army has grown, and reached its new end-strength limit of 547,000 soldiers this month – more than two years early. Now the service has to fill the structure, and that will take place over the next few years.

Casey said he anticipates a steady deployment of 15 brigade combat teams over the next few years, and said this would get the dwell-time-to-deployment ratio to 2 to 1. "With the president's drawdown plan [in Iraq], we do better than that in 2011," he said. However, he acknowledged, the enemy gets a vote.

Another aspect of balance is the effort to convert the Army from a garrison-based, Cold War force to the nimble, agile and lean force needed to fight the wars of today. Army units must be versatile and adaptable. Conversion to modular brigades is part of this, but so is converting jobs from what worked to hold off the Soviet Union to what is needed today.

The Army is about 85 percent along in its conversion of about 300 brigades to the modular format.

The transformation also requires 150,000 soldiers to change skills, and the service is roughly two-thirds through that process, Casey said. "Since this began, the Army has taken down about 200 tank, field artillery and air defense companies and built an equivalent number of military police, engineers, Special Forces and civil affairs units," he said.

Both efforts will be finished in 2011.

Casey wants to put the Army on a rotational cycle like the one the Navy and Marine Corps already use. "As I look to the future, I believe we will have 10 Army and Marine Corps brigades and regiments in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan for a decade," he said. "To do that, we have to be on a rotational cycle, and we must adapt our institutions to support that cycle."

Balance also requires different Army basing, and the service is in the middle of the latest base realignment and closure process that is scheduled to end in 2011. The process will affect roughly 380,000 people over the next few years.

Restoring strategic flexibility also is a key factor in the effort, the general said. Soldiers must be trained to handle all the missions the Army may face.

"As we look to the future, put out about 14 or 15 [brigades] and associated enablers," he said. "If had nine or 10 brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan, that would leave four or five brigades to handle other things." This would allow some brigades to serve regional assignments for combatant commanders and still leave units for a "911" force to deal with emergencies, the general said.

Casey acknowledged he is worried about the long-term impact of repeated deployments on the force and families. Last year, physicians diagnosed 13,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Army is dedicating money and resources to help with this stress on soldiers and their families.

"Another thing that worries me is not being able to draw down in Iraq close to the schedule we have set," he added. "It would be very difficult to sustain the current levels of commitment here for very much longer."

The general also said he's worried about other, unexpected commitments. "I do believe that we will be doing something in the three to five years that none of us is thinking of right now," he said.

This is an era of persistent conflict, and the service will be at this for a while, Casey said. But the bottom line is that if the Army can get through the next 12 to 18 months, "we will get to a very good position here in 2011," he added.

Exercise to Test Aerospace Response Over Washington

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - The North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct an exercise over the nation's capital and its suburbs May 15, Defense Department officials said today. Exercise Falcon Virgo tests the aerospace defense of the national capital area.

Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, Coast Guard Dolphin choppers and Civil Air Patrol Cessnas will participate in the exercise. A number of Falcon Virgo exercises have taken place since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, officials said. The most recent one over Washington was in March.

"The exercise is always held in the middle of the night to not interfere with civilian air traffic," Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Almarah Belk said. "The aircraft involved follow all noise abatement procedures."

The exercise is in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Command Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region, the Civil Air Patrol and the Coast Guard.

Residents in the area can expect flights to occur shortly after midnight and into the early morning hours May 15. The exercise should wrap up during the morning. In the event of inclement weather, it will be cancelled.

Training, Humanitarian Assistance Fuse During Continuing Promise

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

May 13, 2009 - Less than halfway into a four-month deployment to bring medical care and humanitarian assistance to the people of the Caribbean and Central and South America, personnel involved in Operation Continuing Promise 2009 already have treated more than 25,000 patients from three countries, the officer in charge said. "Our primary mission is to go out and train and gain valuable experience, going out and doing humanitarian, civic-assistance missions," Navy Capt. Robert Lineberry, mission commander for Continuing Promise 2009, said during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable May 11.

"We constantly talk about the numbers, but it's not about the numbers," he said. "It's really about providing accessible and quality health care to the folks that are really in need."

Continuing Promise is an annual humanitarian and civic assistance operation supported by U.S. and international military medical personnel, U.S. government agencies, regional health ministries, nongovernmental organizations and U.S. academic institutions. It is coordinated by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. 4th Fleet. In addition to providing medical care, and promoting goodwill and partnerships, the mission provides valuable emergency training for the personnel involved.

The operation is being run from the USNS Comfort, one of two Military Sealift Command hospital ships capable of rapid response during emergencies. The ship provided support in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and in the Gulf Coast region in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Continuing Promise began when the Comfort departed Norfolk, Va., on April 1, with visits planned to Antigua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama. Each visit is scheduled to last 10 to 12 days.

The medical, dental and veterinary crew of the Comfort includes about 650 medical professionals from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Public Health Service, nongovernmental organizations, and other international partners. Canada, Chile, El Salvador, France, the Netherlands and Nicaragua will also provide medical professionals for the mission at some point during the deployment to participate in the training.

"We will rotate through quite a few Navy Reserve [personnel, and] quite a few humanitarian organizations, and probably when it's all said and done after the four months, we'll probably have trained up over 1,400 individuals," Lineberry said.

The crew for Continuing Promise also includes a construction battalion of Seabees tasked with rebuilding and restoring hospitals and other buildings, Lineberry added.

The Seabees already have fully restored a condemned hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and are currently working on a mental hospital in Antigua and Barbuda, he said.

"The Seabees are very rounded. They can do anything you can ask them to do," Lineberry said.

This is the fourth humanitarian-focused U.S. naval deployment to the region in the past three years designed to promote partnerships and goodwill. Building on lessons learned from the past mission, the Comfort is making fewer stops, but for longer durations during Continuing Promise 2009.

"Our goal is to just to go out and just do good things, and we're doing that," Lineberry said.

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

Armed Forces Day Calls for Recognition and Awareness of Unique Benefits Provided to Military Personnel

May 13, 2009 – Albany, NY – This Saturday, people across the nation will celebrate Armed Forces Day, which honors the men and women in uniform who serve in all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Armed Forces Day has been held annually on the third Saturday of May since the 1950s.

One of the ways the nation pays tribute to military personnel is through the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The Act, which was revised in 2003, is meant to provide peace of mind for soldiers on active duty regarding their affairs back home.

The SCRA allows for the temporary suspension of certain financial obligations and judicial or administrative proceedings during active duty military service. Some of the areas which servicemembers receive protection under the SCRA are:

Reduced interest rates on mortgage payments and credit card debt.

Protection from eviction for the servicemember and his or her dependents if the rent is less than $1200.

Termination of an automobile lease that was entered into before being called to active duty.

Termination of a residential lease that was entered into before being called to active duty.

“While it’s important to honor our military through celebrations like parades and air shows on this day, true recognition for what our serving men and women do for the country is shown through laws like the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act,” said Mathew B. Tully, Esq. Tully is the founding partner of the law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC and serves as a major in the New York Army National Guard. “Many of these soldiers simply drop their lives to answer the call to duty. Their affairs should be protected accordingly.”

Servicemembers involved in civil litigation can also request for the postponement of any judicial proceedings or civil court cases while on active duty. This includes matters ranging from contract disputes to real estate and property issues. “Civil court proceedings can involve some complex issues that are difficult to navigate,” said Tully. “I highly recommend that servicemembers who wish to delay their court proceedings contact a civilian attorney or their unit’s military legal assistance center to ensure their situation is taken care of properly.”

Tully is available for comment on the importance of honoring servicemembers on Armed Forces Day and the unique benefits and protections extended to them under the SCRA. For more information or to speak with Tully, please contact Caitlin Merrill at 518-755-2789 or via email at cmerrill@tullylegal.com.