Monday, May 18, 2009

Rolling Thunder Plans 'Saluting Our Troops' Program

American Forces Press Service

May 18, 2009 - Mike Corrado, the Marine recording artist whose 2005 hit song "On My Watch Tonight" was featured on ABC's "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" and has become an anthem for servicemembers worldwide, is one of the headliners in Rolling Thunder's "Saluting the Troops" program in Washington, D.C., May 23. Vietnam Memorial Founder and veterans' activist Jan Scruggs also will be a featured speaker at the event, which will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the reflecting pool at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.

In addition to Corrado, musical guests include national recording artist Spike Ivory and U.S. Army veteran and country music singer and songwriter Ted Painter.

The keynote speaker for this year's program is Patrick Campbell, the chief legislative counsel for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Campbell also is a sergeant and combat medic in the District of Columbia National Guard who served in Iraq with the 256th Infantry Brigade. Campbell's blog has been noted by the MSNBC television network, and he has made many network media appearances. He also has testified before the Senate and House veterans affairs committees on mental health, education benefits and appropriation issues.

Incorporated in 1995, Rolling Thunder is a nonprofit organization with more than 90 chartered chapters throughout the United States. Officials said 40 to 45 percent of the men and women in the group are nonveterans, with the balance being veterans from all wars and peacetime. Although many of its members ride motorcycles, they added, owning or riding a motorcycle is not a condition for membership; all that's necessary is having the time and willingness to be an advocate for troops, veterans, and the nation's prisoners of war and servicemembers missing in action.

(From a Rolling Thunder news release.)

Army Air Defense Unit to Activate at Fort Sill

The Department of the Army announced today the planned activation of the 4th Batallion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment (Patriot) at Fort Sill, Okla. This stationing action represents an increase of 603 military authorizations at Fort Sill and no change in civilian authorizations. This stationing action will be completed by Oct. 17, 2010.

4th Batallion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment provides high to medium altitude air defense of ground combat forces and high value assets against cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles /unmanned combat aerial vehicles, and rotary and fixed wing aircraft. This stationing action is in support of the integrated force structure changes resulting from the President's Grow the Army initiative.

This stationing action is part of integrated force structure changes that support the Army's transformation requirements. This initiative supports and provides Combatant Commanders with forces at a higher level of readiness.

For more information on this unit activation contact Lt. Col. Lee M. Packnett, (703) 614-2487 or Maj. Jimmie Cummings, (703) 697-3491, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Army.

Pacific Command Strategy Centers on Partnership, Readiness, Presence

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 18, 2009 - The three major tenets of the U.S. Pacific Command strategy – partnership, readiness and presence – are having a powerful impact in bringing together the joint, interagency and international capabilities required to promote regional stability, the command's top officer told American Forces Press Service. The strategy, revised last fall to better support the new U.S. national military strategy, establishes the three major keystones for engagements throughout Pacom's area of responsibility, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating said.

The strategy recognizes the broad focus of the Pacom mission, he said, as well as the importance of galvanizing the broadest array of alliances, partnerships and working relationships possible to carry it out.

Almost three years into the job, Keating said he's more convinced than ever that every player counts.

"It is more indelibly imprinted on my mind than it was on Day 1 or Day 100 or Day 500 the necessity for working on an interagency, international, multilateral basis," he said. "It's greater than ever, and the spirit of cooperation and collaboration engendered is unmistakable."

As he travels Pacom's vast area of responsibility – half the surface of the globe that includes half its population spread across 36 countries – Keating works to build on that spirit of partnership.

And with few exceptions, he said, he's impressed to find that across a very broad spectrum, "folks have common goals and are increasingly cohesive in working together to achieve those goals."

Even the smallest countries in the region have a role to play, he said. "There is no country so big that they can make all the strategic decisions and execute themselves, and there is no country so small that it can't make a contribution," Keating said, borrowing an observation from former Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace.

"We've got big countries and we've got small countries [within the AOR]," he said. "And as we travel and talk and watch and work with the folks of Tonga through Mongolia to India and everybody in between, we are seeing firsthand that they are all interested" in working together toward common goals.

The most striking example of these growing military-to-military relationships comes in the form of military exercises, which have increased significantly in scope, sophistication and participation.

Keating pointed to the Malabar 2009 naval exercise that wrapped up May 3 as an example of the growing combined exercise program. India led this year's Malabar, in which about 4,000 members of the Indian, U.S. and Japanese navies trained together in surface, subsurface and air operations. They also conducted a visit, board, search and seizure operation aboard USS Blue Ridge to simulate searching a merchant vessel.

Similarly, this year's Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand included five principal participants and 22 observers, including China.

"These are full-scale amphibious landings with jets screeching overhead, ships operating offshore and thousands of soldiers participating in real field training exercises," Keating said. Cobra Gold also included a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise, as well as U.N. peacekeeping training.

The scenarios are designed to be tactically and operationally challenging, with a span that's appealing and valuable to every participant, Keating said.

"Not everybody in our AOR ... has aircraft carriers, F22s and the 25th Infantry Division," he said. "But the key is tactics, techniques and procedures. ... And the exercises are devised and implemented to be very challenging across a wide spectrum, because everyone has some contribution to make."

Dovetailing with exercises, military educational exchanges provide forums for sharing expertise as well as understanding. Keating noted high interest among partner nations in sending their senior commissioned and noncommissioned officers – and those destined to fill those ranks -- to U.S. military schools.

"That is one of the most important initiatives our country has," he said. U.S. training assistance pays off in enhancing partner nations' capabilities so they can play a bigger role in current and potential missions, the admiral explained.

One striking example is taking place in the Straits of Malacca. The strategic waterway linking the Indian and Pacific oceans that was plagued by piracy until Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore formed a partnership focused on maritime security. Thailand and the Philippines are increasingly participating as well.

The result is a dramatic drop in pirate attacks – from almost 50 a year just three years ago to less than five in 2008, Keating said.

Although the U.S. military provided training as well as technology and equipment support to the initiative, Keating described it as a minor supporting role, as the partners took center stage to carry it out. That's a critical point, he said, because the U.S. military simply can't be everywhere there's a current or potential threat.

"This is an advantage of partnership," he said. "We in the United States don't have to be everywhere, doing everything. By increased cooperation and collaboration, we can rely on and depend on our friends, allies [and] partners throughout the region."

As Pacom strives to increase capability among partner militaries, it's also promoting another key tenet of its strategy – readiness – at home, Keating said.

Like their counterparts elsewhere throughout the U.S. military, Pacom-based ground, air and naval elements have been taxed supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Keating conceded. But these demands have never jeopardized the command's ability to execute its security plans, he said.

"We are a force ready. We are a force equipped. We are a force trained," he said.

In fact, Pacom is benefitting from the vast combat experience of its force, which Keating called "unparalleled in our country's history."

"These young men and women have been in the crucible," he said. Young troops have been thrust into leadership roles in combat, and find themselves making strategic-level decisions at the corporal level.

"We have this bench strength that is unprecedented, and we will enjoy the benefits of their very, very demanding work for decades," Keating said. "And in United States Pacific Command, we capitalize on that every day."

These forces provide the day-to-day presence Keating said sends an unmistakable message of the United States' continued commitment to the region.

"Virtual presence equals actual absence," he said, borrowing a junior officer term. "You can do all the [video teleconferences] you want, and you can have instantaneous global communications. But nothing replaces boots on the ground, jets in the air and ships in the harbor. You have to have forces ready, and then you have to have forces present."

Sometimes that presence is subtle, as in the upcoming Pacific Partnership mission that will send U.S. military, nongovernmental agency and volunteer medical professionals throughout the South Pacific on a humanitarian assistance mission.

Emphasizing the "partnership" in the Pacific Partnership mission, Keating called the program a "profoundly powerful" way to reach out to and bring hope to those in need.

"It's also a great way to win the hearts and minds of thousands and thousands of people in our area of responsibility," he said.

The direct result, he said, is less likelihood that they'll elect to support violent extremists, making it more difficult for them to operate.

"Our overarching mission is to defend the homeland and prevail in the struggle against violent extremism," he said. "And folks are less likely to support violent extremism if they understand the goodwill expressed by the citizens of the United States of America and other countries in our AOR."

These and other initiatives – all promoting partnership, readiness and presence in the region – are having a positive impact in promoting peace and stability, Keating said.

"I am convinced it is working," he said of the Pacom strategy.

One measure of that success, he said, is the fact that the region continues to enjoy a relative peace, with no significant military incidents and no state-on-state conflict.

"In a way, it's what hasn't happened," Keating said. "Some of that is good fortune. But a lot of it is due to a concerted effort by a lot of people, including those at Pacific Command."

NORAD Officials Reschedule Capital-area Exercise

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 18, 2009 - A North American Aerospace Defense Command exercise designed to test the command's aerospace defense capabilities in the national capital area has been rescheduled after inclement weather last week forced its postponement. Exercise Falcon Virgo, originally planned for the May 15-16 overnight period, now is scheduled for May 19-20.

Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, Coast Guard Dolphin choppers and Civil Air Patrol Cessnas will participate in the exercise over the nation's capital and its suburbs. 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 of May 20. The exercise should wrap up during the morning.

Social Science Research Assists Navigation of 'Human Terrain'

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

May 18, 2009 - The Defense Department is funding research to help warfighters learn and adapt to the social and cultural norms in their deployment areas, a Navy program officer said in a May 13 webcast of "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" on Pentagon Web Radio. "It's been a shift in the thinking of the Department of Defense away from conventional warfare practices to the asymmetric and irregular warfare environment, which requires our warfighters to interact with the native population at a much more intense level," said Ivy Estabrooke, program manager for the human, social, cultural and behavioral sciences in the expeditionary and maneuver warfare and combating terrorism department at the Office of Naval Research.

This investment in social science research is driven by the current warfighting environment in Iraq and Afghanistan, which requires more direct interactions with the general population, said Estabrooke, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience.

"We are funding work that will enable the warfighter to learn cross-cultural skills more easily, more quickly, so that when they're being sent to a new area of operations they can quickly learn what the social and cultural norms are and what appropriate and acceptable behavior will be in those areas," Estabrooke said.

This research is part of a larger Defense Department initiative that includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense's human, social, cultural and behavioral modeling program; the director of Defense Research and Engineering; the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Institute.

Joining Estabrooke on the webcast was Elisa Bienenstock, chief human science officer at NSI Inc. and adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University, who said social science methodology is particularly challenging in the battlefield because gathering data often interferes with the environment being studied.

"The problems that we're dealing with are intrinsically hard, ... even under the best of circumstances," said Bienenstock, who holds a doctorate in mathematical sociology. "What makes it more difficult is that the answers were needed yesterday, not tomorrow."

As a sociologist, Bienenstock has spent a number of years researching social network analysis to bring about a better understanding of how culture and communications affect the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said that as the conflicts developed, the Defense Department didn't have the tools or expertise to understand the diverse communities and cultures.

"As a sociologist, I was being called on to try to figure out a way that the [Defense Department] could leverage some of the useful tools and methods and theories in the social sciences," Bienenstock said.

Both women added that this type of research is multidisciplinary and requires a full range of researchers.

"We need to bring to the table sociologists and anthropologists and political scientists and computational scientists and modelers," Estabrooke said. "Everyone speaks a different language almost, so bringing these teams together and getting them to work well together takes some time and some effort."

Office of Naval Research officials hope to connect with a diverse pool of researchers through several outreach efforts. In June, ONR will release a broad agency announcement that seeks ideas for how to better address the challenges in the human, social, cultural and behavioral sciences domain. In August, the secretary of defense's HSCB Modeling Program will host a conference aimed at uniting current and prospective grantees, members of the operational community and a number of government agencies that fund social science research.

"[It's] an opportunity for researchers, both at universities and from companies, from industry, to submit their ideas of how they can address the challenges in the human, social, cultural and behavioral domain," Estabrooke said.

Bienenstock emphasized that these outreach efforts could play an important part in bridging the gap between social scientists and the military.

"To most effectively engage social scientists, it will require outreach that alerts the social science community about the existence of these funding and networking opportunities," she said.

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


The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to Hawker Beechcraft Corp., of Wichita, Kan., for an amount not-to-exceed $123,794,733. This contract will provide for 20 T6A trainer aircraft, training devices and technical publications. At this time, $69,325,051 has been obligated. ASC, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8617-09-C-6166).

The Air Force is awarding a cost plus fixed fee contract to Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of Herndon, Va., for $11,556,957. This contract action will provide for development of survivable conventional force requirements and technical analyses of combat operations for commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force. At this time, $676,329 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 firm fixed price contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of Poway, Calif., for $9,828,520. This contract action is for the Predator receiver terminals, installation and software updates. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 703 AESG/SYK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8620-05-G-3028).

Air Rover, Incorp.*, Tyler, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $15,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price with for Environmental Control Units. The units will be used for various types of expeditionary facilities (e.g. shelters, enclosed trailers, tent complexes). The government has a current requirement for four units to be delivered. Work will be performed in Tyler, Texas, and is expected to be completed by May 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with an unspecified number of proposals being solicited via Federal Business Opportunities website and the internet, with five offers received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-09-D-JS25).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., is being awarded a $14,302,280 firm-fixed-priced modification to previously awarded delivery order #0004 under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5025) for Field Service Representatives and Instructors to support Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Work will be performed in Iraq, and is expected to be completed by the Dec. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Misener Marine Construction, Inc., Tampa, Fla., is being awarded a $12,107,587 firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of wharf Alpha improvements at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. Work will be performed in Mayport, Fla., and is expected to be completed by May 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Online website, with 11 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N69450-09-C-1259; Project Number P-999).

Barnes Aerospace, Windsor, Conn., is being awarded a maximum $6,082,411 firm fixed price contract for parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There were originally 2 proposals solicited with 2 responses. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Oklahoma City, Tinker AFB, Okla., (SPRTA1-09-C-0120).

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Ever wonder how the leaders of America start their journeys? Want to honor the young heroes that are learning early the importance of helping others? I’m contacting you today on behalf of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. For their extraordinary efforts in serving others through volunteerism, ten middle and high school students from across the country were named America's top ten youth volunteers for 2009 in a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters, capping the 14th year of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Each year, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors the outstanding community service of young Americans. The results are now in the top ten youth volunteers from the May 4th ceremony have been announced!

Want to watch the winners receive their awards? Watch a webcast event, replaying all of the wonderfully inspiring moments and announcements:

You can get your children and community involved by encouraging them to visit where they can find out how to become a nominee for next year’s honorary ceremony.

Please let me know if you would be interested in sharing this information with Military Online readers, as it is support like yours, from their communities, that keep these young people motivated and proud of the work they have accomplished all throughout the year!

New Book Aims to Help Children of Troops Buried in Arlington

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

May 17, 2009 - Generals, congressmen and, in many cases, presidents of the United States have attended military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery here and given their condolences to children who have lost loved ones to war. But for many of those unfortunate children, it may still be difficult to understand the honor of their loved ones' sacrifices and what it means for a servicemember to be buried here.

A new book titled "For Children of Valor: Arlington National Cemetery" is dedicated to helping children and families of the fallen buried here to cope with their loss. Five such families, representing the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps were presented with first-edition copies of the book during a May 15 ceremony at the cemetery's information center.

"This small gift conveys our admiration and our respect by acknowledging the pain and the loss these sacrifices must bring," said retired Army Maj. Gen. Carl H. McNair, Jr., president and chairman of the Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project. "We wanted to provide a gift that captures the honor of Arlington National Cemetery.

"May this gift bring the spirit and fond memories of your family a little closer to home, and may you gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the hallowed grounds on which we stand," McNair said.

The Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project produced the book in conjunction with illustration and photography support from the Washington Post. Dr. Stephen J. Cozza, a retired Army colonel, advised and helped author portions of the book. Cozza is a psychiatrist and expert in child trauma currently serving as a professor with the Uniformed Service University of Health Sciences, Children's author Linda Tyler wrote the main text, and artist Deborah Withey illustrated the book.

The 52-page book is filled with somber images of children and families visiting the cemetery, as well as colorful patriotic graphics typical of an elementary school arts-and-craft project. Educational messages and information about Arlington cemetery history appear on the pages. There is also a section of artwork toward the back of the book for children to color in themselves.

During the ceremony, Army Secretary Pete Geren spoke of the sacrifices made by the more than 340,000 American military members buried here since the Revolutionary War as well as the millions of others buried elsewhere throughout the world. He credited the families of the fallen for supporting their military loved ones despite the frightening realities of war. The families are heroes, too, he said.

"Military families are the strength behind our servicemembers," he said. "The families don't get medals, but they're heroes, and these heroes come in all ages and sizes."

Americans are indebted to the families for their sacrifices, he added. "For Children of Valor" is an "expression of gratitude from the heart of a grateful nation."

Angie Capra said it was a great honor for her and her family to be a part of the presentation ceremony. Capra and her five children, Mark, 12, Victoria, 10, Jared, 7, Shawn, 5, and Adrianna, 3, were recognized for the loss of husband and father, Air Force Tech Sgt. Anthony L. Capra.

"The book is great," said Capra, who drives about 40 miles from Fredricksburg, Va., to visit her husband's grave here at least once a month. "It's a wonderful memory for my children to have, and to know that people still think of their father and honor him and everyone else who've lost their life in combat."

Tech Sgt. Capra was killed in northern Iraq in April 2008. He was an explosive ordnance technician whose job was to dismantle and handle insurgent-made bombs, which have claimed the majority of the civilian and coalition lives lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

"My husband went into the service wanting to do his part at whatever the cost, so we accepted that a long time ago," she said, adding that her and husband were both "Air Force brats" and met more than 13 years ago when their parents were stationed in Turkey. "[The presentation] is a great honor for our family."

Other families recognized at the presentation were:

-- Marissa Alexander and 3 -year-old twins Avery and Alaya who survive Army Staff Sgt. Leroy Alexander, a Special Forces engineer killed in Afghanistan in June 3, 2005.

-- Lisa Dolan and her son, Beau, and daughter, Rebecca, survive Navy Capt. Robert E. Dolan, killed in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

-- Terry Valentine, along with her son, John, and daughter, Meghan, survive Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas J. Valentine, a Navy SEAL who died during a pre-deployment airborne operation Feb. 13, 2008, in Casa Grande, Ariz.

-- Pamela Zembiec and her daughter Fallyn survive Marine Maj. Douglas Zembiec, killed May 11, 2007, in Baghdad.

"For Children of Valor" follows the publication "Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery," which was also produced by The Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project, in conjunction with National Geographic, and Rich Clarkson and Associates. "Where Valor Rests" was released two years ago today as a salute to members of the U.S. armed forces who are buried here.