Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Face of Defense: Drive to 'Go Deep' Into Other Cultures Inspires Navy Foreign Area Officer

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2009 - An officer based at the U.S. embassy here is on the leading edge of the Navy's new foreign area officer program. Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Federal, director of Navy programs in the embassy's Office of Defense Cooperation and a former F-14 and Super Hornet pilot, said he jumped at the chance to get into the program when the Navy first announced it in 2005.

"It rang a chord with me," Federal said. "It's a great opportunity for people who want to live overseas, interact with other cultures and receive extensive language and cultural training."

Federal's path to becoming the first Navy FAO in India started at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., where he earned a master's degree – a requirement for the program -- in national security affairs. After that, he moved on to the Defense Language Institute, also in Monterey, to study Hindi.

Three months into the 12-month curriculum, Federal cut his language studies short to move on to his new assignment in India. "That's OK," he said, shrugging. "I'm the first guy to have this job who's had any language [training] at all."

His FAO training brings a new dimension to the job, giving him a deeper understanding of issues and sensitivities, he said.

"It lets us establish a long-term knowledge base of a particular region," he said, making him a better advisor on issues ranging from training to military sales. A big focus of the job is helping India as it purchases new weapons systems for its military modernization program.

Federal said he's learning more every day – not just on the job, but also when he leaves the office to go home to an Indian neighborhood where there's not a single Westerner in sight. He's learning cricket from his neighbors, and he and his wife have adopted a nearly 100 percent Indian diet.

"The best FAOs are the people who want to go deep into other cultures," he said. "They have to want to speak the language, eat the food and live in their conditions."

But that drive to "go deep" has to extend to a FAO's family as well. "Your family has got to want it, too, or it's not a good career choice for you," he said.

Federal said he has no regrets about giving up flying airplanes. "I'll never go back and fly jets," he said. "I'll spend the rest of my career in this specialty, and I'm thrilled to be here."

'Her War' Podcast Aims to Help Military Wives

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2009 - When Melissa Seligman's husband left for his second deployment to Iraq, she knew all too well what was expected of her. "I was expected to be the nice, caring, understanding military wife and mom," Seligman said. "No military wife wants to admit that she is hurt -- and sometimes angry and very fearful -- of being alone when her husband is deployed, ... sometimes for the second or third time. It's very hard. The guilt we feel from these natural emotions often keeps us silent."

Seligman said she hopes her new weekly podcast, "Her War," will help to provide a platform for military wives to openly discuss such anxieties and uncertainties about their husbands' deployments. The podcast, she said, is dedicated to providing military wives with the tools and resources they need to better equip themselves to deal with separation issues.

Weekly discussions will focus not only on hope, understanding and acceptance, but also on denial, anger, bargaining and depression -- feelings that she said often are hidden.

"'Her War' is about honesty," Seligman said. "Military wives can join our discussions and be fully honest about their inner fears and not worry about being judged. The absolute focus of this podcast is to uplift them. I truly believe giving these wives a chance to speak, hear and take charge will empower them. In doing so, we strengthen our soldiers, our marriages and our abilities to mother."

Seligman, with the help of another military wife, Chris Piper, launched the "Her War" podcast last week. The first discussion, which included eight military wives, centered on hope and denial.

"The podcast went really well," said Lucy Brassard, whose husband just returned from Afghanistan. "I was really pleased with the format. I could relate. This is a support group of women who have been there. You can trust them.

"I also liked the anonymity," she continued. "We military wives are often so closed-lipped. We just don't discuss these issues out in the open. When you join the podcast, the only name people know is your screen name. It just makes you feel more comfortable and more relaxed."

This is the type of atmosphere she'd hoped to capture, Piper said.

"I believe military spouses don't feel they have a right to feel a certain way, especially with their spouse in harm's way," she said. "With this podcast, they can learn that they are normal and not alone. We sit here in our homes thinking that we are the only ones that are grieving for our husbands while they are gone. Just knowing that we are having normal feelings and thoughts helps. We can learn to rely on ourselves and each other. We can also learn about other resources that the military provides for dealing with deployments."

Seligman, the author of "The Day After He Left for Iraq," said her inspiration for this podcast came from a military wife who drove three hours to her first book signing.

"She walked into the store carrying the weight of her burden and told me simply, 'I'm a military spouse, too,'" Seligman said. "She fell into my arms and cried. I told her she was not alone. Right then, I knew I wanted to create a tool that would uplift spouses and give them a sense of support and normalcy."

The "Her War" podcast is hosted by Courage Community, a California-based online support group consisting of mental health professionals and volunteers.

"We provide an online network and a lifeline of hope for those looking for peer support, professional help, reconnection to the community or just an understanding friend," Carlana Stone, founder of Courage Community, said. "Melissa is on a passion-driven pursuit, from her own military experiences in life, to empower and uplift military wives. We wanted to be a part of this. Courage Community wants to be an ally for these women."

Pacific Partnership to Run as Scheduled Aboard USNS Byrd

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2009 - The H1N1 flu virus won't be able count the Pacific Partnership 2009 mission among its casualties. Pacific Partnership will kick off as scheduled next month, delivering medical, dental, veterinary care and engineering support to the South Pacific -- albeit it on a new platform due to an H1N1 virus diagnosis.

USNS Richard E. Byrd will conduct the four-month humanitarian assistance mission to Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga, U.S. Pacific Fleet officials announced yesterday.

USNS Byrd is a Military Sealift Command underway replenishment ship assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet.

The Pacific Partnership mission initially had been assigned to USS Dubuque, a San Diego-based amphibious transport dock ship. But Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, cancelled the Dubuque's participation earlier this month after one of the 50 sailors aboard who reported flu-like symptoms tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

Despite the likelihood that the virus would run its course and the crew would recover fully while essentially quarantined as they transited the Pacific, Willard scratched Dubuque's participation to eliminate any risk of -- or concerns about -- spreading the virus.

Willard offered assurance, however, that the annual Pacific Partnership would go on – an effort Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said reinforces U.S. commitment to the mission and the region.

Byrd, although slightly bigger than the Dubuque, has fewer beds and less extensive onboard medical facilities. Its medical crew – a blend of medical-care providers from the military, nongovernmental organizations and volunteer groups – will treat patients ashore, just as they would have if based on the Dubuque, Keating said.

To help to make up for fewer medical providers, the Navy will tailor teams for each country to be visited to best meet its specific needs -- "the most important thing being the folks who are hoping for and expecting expert medical, dental and veterinary assistance will realize those expectations," Keating said.

"We are pleased to be able to continue on with Pacific Partnership and meet our commitments to the host nations," the Pacific Partnership 2009 mission commander, Navy Capt. Andrew Cully, said after yesterday's announcement of the Byrd's participation.

"After reviewing the available Navy assets and their capabilities, USNS Richard E. Byrd proved to have more than enough storage space for equipment and supplies necessary to support the mission," Cully said.

Byrd has a crew of 124 civil-service mariners working for Military Sealift Command, as well as a detachment of 11 Navy sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination. When needed, the ship also can carry a supply detachment, officials said.

Another side benefit of the new mission platform is that Byrd has as many engineers as medical personnel aboard. This will enhance Pacific Partnership's efforts to refurbish schools and medical clinics in nearly every country to be visited, officials said.

In Kiribati, the engineers are scheduled to replace a key bridge between North and South Tarawa.

For Pacific Partnership, Cully said, partner nations and nongovernmental organizations remain important members of the mission team. "We expect to execute a significant portion of the projects planned for in our initial concept of operations," he said.

Achieving that goal took some flexibility, but U.S. Pacific Fleet came up with a solid plan, he added.

The Pacific Partnership mission team and much of its equipment and supplies are slated to leave San Diego in early June aboard USNS Amelia Earhart as it makes its first deployment to 7th Fleet. The team and equipment then will transfer at sea to USNS Richard E. Byrd during the transit to Oceania, as Earhart continues on to other mission commitments.

Emphasizing the "partnership" in Pacific Partnership, Keating called the mission a "profoundly powerful" way to reach out to and bring hope to those in need. He recalled the way he personally witnessed past Pacific Partnership missions touching people's lives. A young Filipino boy whose potentially fatal digestive disorder was cured through a relatively simple surgery aboard now "has a full life ahead of him," Keating said, with the chance to grow up to be a farmer or a helicopter pilot or even president of the Philippines.

Keating also relayed the story of watching a young Vietnamese girl as the doctors took the bandages off after repairing her cleft palate. "Thank you for making me pretty," she said as she looked into a mirror to admire their work.

"It's the right thing to do," Keating said of the mission as he emphasized the "indelible imprint" it leaves on people's lives. It also helps reduce the likelihood that those who benefit from or know about the mission will elect to support violent extremists, Keating said.

In addition, he said, the mission lays a foundation for participants to work with potential future partners to prepare for future crises during peacetime.

"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 [area of responsibility]."

USNS Mercy, a San Diego-based Military Sealift Command hospital ship, conducted last year's Pacific Partnership mission, visiting the Philippines, Vietnam, Micronesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. The previous year, USS Peleliu conducted Pacific Partnership 2007, visiting the Philippines, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands.

As this year's Pacific Partnership prepares to kick off, a similar mission, Continuing Promise 2009, is under way in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort left its home port in Baltimore on April 1 to conduct a four-month mission to Antigua, Barbuda, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama.

Gates Outlines Details of 'Reform Budget' for House Subcommittee

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2009 - Characterizing it as a "reform budget," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today described for members of Congress the thinking underlying his recommendations for fiscal 2010 Pentagon spending. Gates' main themes in developing the Pentagon's budget proposal were military troops and families, balancing between current and future missions and reforming the Defense Department's buying process.

"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 told members of the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. He and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the details of President Barack Obama's proposed $534 billion defense base budget for fiscal 2010 during the hearing.

The defense secretary said that on a recent visit to Afghanistan he sought "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, 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.

Mullen described military personnel and their families as the top strategic priority. "I've said many times, and remain convinced, the best way to guarantee our future security is to support our troops and their needs and the needs of their families. It is the recruit-and-retain choices of our members and their families -- and, quite frankly, the American citizens writ large -- that will make or break the all-volunteer force."

Potential servicemembers will be less inclined to serve if the department is unable to offer viable career options, adequate health care, suitable housing, advanced education and the promise of prosperity beyond their military commitments, he added.

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

Gates announced his recommendations last month, distributing the funds in accordance with what he characterized as the type of "complex, hybrid warfare" that 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 unique breakdown he outlined, the defense secretary's proposal seeks to move funding away from supplemental budgets and into the baseline budget. Gates today said 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 emphasized the need to reform the defense acquisition process, a goal he has stated repeatedly.

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

Defense Department Launches Official Military Blogging Platform

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

May 20, 2009 - The Defense Department has unveiled "DoDLive," a centrally linked and unified platform from which services can create and maintain blogs. "This blogging tool allows all branches of the military an opportunity to establish an official blog about their command, organization or unit," said Brian Natwick, acting director of the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate and general manager of the Pentagon Channel.

This tool will enable Defense Department organizations to communicate on a more personal level, and can be used as an extension to their Web sites.

"Having a central blogging capability means that not only can readers know they're receiving reliable content, but it enables conversations through which the Department of Defense can learn and grow," Natwick said.

Beta testing of the platform began in January. Since its soft launch, the Air Force and Army added service-specific blogs, and the Coast Guard is expected to join in soon.

The department's official blog is at and is managed by the emerging media directorate. Posts will cover a spectrum of content, including first-person updates from Pentagon Channel reporters and senior Defense Department officials, "DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable" content, internal messages for military audiences and updates on military news stories. The blog also will showcase the department's other social media products such as the Wounded Warrior Diaries, "DoDvClips," and the "Armed with Science" and "Dot Mil Docs" audio webcasts.

"We recognize our servicemembers and organizations are blogging already, and we encourage that," said Les Benito, director of the department's public Web site. "What 'DoDLive' gives us is the top-down support that will help the department dispel any lingering doubts about blogging and security and whether organizations should or shouldn't engage. We hope the conversation expands because of it."

The emerging media directorate was established in October 2006 to educate Defense Department organizations about new media tools and applications, encourage their use throughout the department, and to communicate department messages and priorities more effectively with the public.

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

Wounded Warrior, Guardsman Sworn Into Key VA Position

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

May 20, 2009 - In an emotional return to Walter Reed Army Medical Center here today, Army National Guardsman Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth was sworn in as assistant secretary of veterans affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs. She pledged to continue her commitment to military veterans. "It is with excitement and humility that I begin my tenure as assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs," Duckworth, fighting back tears, said to an audience of wounded warriors, close friends and hospital staff. "Serving our veterans is a tremendous responsibility that requires dedication and sacrifice, a dedication that I see daily in all of our VA employees."

President Barack Obama and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki's vision of a "VA for the 21st Century" is a vision Duckworth is passionate about, she said. As a wounded Iraq war veteran and bilateral amputee, she knows first-hand of the sacrifices made by servicemembers and their families.

Duckworth spent nearly a year rehabilitating at Walter Reed after the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq in November 2004. She began a career in public service shortly thereafter -- specifically, she said, to ensure better care for military members and veterans, such as the ones who "didn't leave me behind" in the wreckage of the helicopter crash.

She's been an active voice for women servicemembers and wounded veterans. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Illinois' 6th district in 2006, and became director of the Illinois state VA later that year.

As assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, Duckworth is the "voice and face" of the veteran community, Shinseki said. In this position, she's the primary contact for the White House and other federal agencies regarding VA matters.

Duckworth was officially sworn into her new position on April 22, after her Senate confirmation. But because of the impact her recovery at Walter Reed had on her life, she said, she was compelled to take the oath of office again at the medical center.

"I literally owe Walter Reed, and all the staff that work here, my life," she said. "I wanted to do this here, because this is the place where I got my life back."

She said the words, "Walter Reed" made her feel safe when she was still in shock and confused after the crash. The chain of heroism, she said, started with her crew at the crash site, but couldn't have succeeded without the staff and others at Walter Reed.

"Walter Reed is present in every day of my life," she said. "Just as you did not leave me behind, I am honored to join Secretary Shinseki and the rest of the VA family to make sure we never leave a veteran behind."

Bunny Wyckoff had been on the job as a physical therapist at Walter Reed for only about six months when Duckworth first arrived for care. Wyckoff said she always knew Duckworth would make a difference for her fellow veterans in public service. "She just has a spark and desire to push beyond everything to achieve what she wants," she said.

"It gives me great pleasure to see her moving on and doing great things," Wyckoff added. "Tammy represents veterans very well. She understands what it's like, and she has great compassion."

U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and other members of Congress attended the ceremony, and Shinseki officiated. Many of the recovering troops who attended today's ceremony, although holding cameras and obviously excited about the event, admitted to not knowing what it was about and who Duckworth is, Wyckoff said.

When asked by her patients, she said, she simply replied: "You'd better learn who Tammy Duckworth is, because she's going to be your voice."


Lankford Sysco, Inc., Pocomoke City, Md., is being awarded a maximum $31,250,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, prime vendor contract for total food and beverage support. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There were four responses to the original proposed solicitation. The date of performance completion is May 24, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-08-D-3126).

Dutra Dredging Co., San Rafael, Calif., was awarded on May 15, 2009 an $18,224,915 firm-fixed-price contract for Harbor Improvements Phase III, St. Paul, Alaska, St. Paul, Alaska Dredging approximately 150,000 Cubic Yard (CY) for the entrance channel, maneuvering area, mooring area, and the intertidal beach area, dredging approximately 27,000 CY for the breakwater berth dredge area (optional item), demolish an existing rubblemound breakwater, construct a 435-foot long rubblemound breakwater (attached) in the existing harbor, construct a 160-foot long rubblemound breakwater (detached) in the existing harbor, construct a 485-foot long rubblemound circulation berm in the existing harbor. Work is to be performed in St. Paul Island, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 25, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three (3) bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska, Contracting Division, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ala., is the contracting activity (W911KB-09-C-0021).

Nickerson & O'Day, Inc. Brewer, Maine, was awarded on May 19, 2009 an $12,937,885 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of a regional training institute, for the Maine Army National Guard, Located in Bangor, Maine. Work is to be performed in Bangor, Maine with an estimated completion date of Jun. 19, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with eight bids received. National Guard Bureau, USPFO for Maine, August, Maine is the contracting activity (W912JD-09-C-0001).

ALCAN Builders Inc. Fairbanks, Alaska, was awarded on May 15, 2009 an $ 11,737,800 firm-fixed-price contract to construct the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Satellite Operations Facility, Fairbanks, Alaska. This project is to replace the current operations facility with a new stat of the art facility. This facility will support the NOAA polar-orbiting satellite program. Work is to be performed in Fairbanks, Alaska with an estimated completion date of Oct. 30, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska, Elmendorf Air Force base, Alaska is the contracting activity (W911KB-09-C-0018).

Niche Inc, New Bedford, Mass., was awarded on May 15, 2009 an $11,499,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 6,000 each low cost low velocity cargo parachutes, NSN 1670-01-547-0401. Work is to be performed in New Bedford, Mass., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 2010. Sole Source bids were solicited. Natick Contracting Division, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W58P05-09-C-0022).

Raytheon Co., AMDD , Andover, Mass., was awarded on May 19, 2009 an $8,808,000 firm-fixed-price contract for three-Patriot Depot Test Equipment upgrades and new depot Test Equipment including installation and training. Work is to be performed in Andover, Mass., (50 percent), Tewksbury, Mass., (20 percent), Sudbury, Mass., (20% percent), and Burlington, Mass., (10 percent) with an estimated completion date of Jun. 08, 2015. One bid solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-09-C-0321).

Earl Industries, LLC, Portsmouth, Va., is being awarded a $10,232,295 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-4403) for the FY09 CNO availability for maintenance and repair of USS Carter Hall (LSD-50). Work will be performed in Portsmouth, Va., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $10,232,295 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Organizational Strategies, Inc.*, Arlington, Va., is being awarded a $10,000,000 Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program firm fixed price contract for Topic N98-057 entitled "Advanced Training Technology Delivery System." The contractor will provide services and materials required to deliver the Training Continuum Integration (TCI) portion of the H-53 and V-22 Integrated Training Systems. This will provide the integrated training system with collaborative product acquisition, deployment, and concurrency data. Successful completion will reduce program and operational risk, as well as produce an increase in safety, crew performance and operational capabilities for both the H-53 and V-22 programs. Work will be performed in New River, N.C., (60 percent); Patuxent River, Md., (20 percent); and Atlanta, Ga., (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured using SBIR Program Solicitation under Topic N98-057 with 15 offers received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-09-C-0120).

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $7,298,041 firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-07-G-0008) for non-recurring engineering to retrofit 7 CV-22 aircraft with single configuration retrofit engineering change proposal V-22-0802; and provide the associated retrofit kits for 3 CV-22 aircraft. Effort will bring the 7 aircraft to a Block B/10 configuration. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, Pa., (60 percent); and Fort Worth, Texas, (40 percent) and is expected to be completed in Nov. 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Defense Comptroller Addresses 'Reform' Budget Proposal

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2009 - The recently submitted $664 billion defense budget proposal for fiscal 2010 by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates can best be characterized as a "reform budget," the Pentagon's chief financial officer said. "We sometimes use that term 'reform' loosely, but I think this time it applies," Robert Hale, the Defense Department's comptroller, said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable May 15. "And I would say it's reform mainly because he is trying to [bring about], and I think gradually accomplishing, a reshaping of the budget to focus more on unconventional war and irregular war, while maintaining a balance of conventional capability."

Hale provided examples of programs that will balance the need to fight the wars of today with the scenarios the Defense Department most likely will face in the years ahead, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies.

"We've added 2,400 people to the Special Operations Command," he said. "We've increased our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, including [unmanned aerial vehicle] increases, heading for 50 combat air patrols with UAVs by fiscal year '11."

Despite much of the news coverage on the proposed Defense budget focusing on program terminations, there is a 5.6-percent increase in the weapons procurement budget between fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010, Hale said. "This was a case where the secretary said, 'We got a lot of studies; we got a lot of information — it's time to act on some of these programs that are troubled as to cost, schedule or performance,'" he added. And although some prominent programs were cut, he said, the budget contains large increases for some, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and the extremely high frequency satellite program.

Significant reform also will occur in how the department buys equipment and services, Hale said, including a "beefing-up of the acquisition work force, because I think it's both too small and probably needs a higher percentage of government personnel involved."

"We've planned some overall insourcing," he continued. "Although we need contractors to run this department, we also feel the pendulum has swung too far toward dependence on contractors. We're going to hire more government employees and reduce somewhat our dependence on contractors. So there's a people side to how we buy differently."

Although the department ultimately will hire more civilian employees, Hale also addressed whether possible job impacts in the defense industry were considered in the decisions on which programs to keep or cut.

"The goal of the secretary of defense is to recommend to the president the programs that we think make sense for the national security," Hale said. "I sat through I don't know how many budget debates or meetings as we led up to this budget. Not once was there a discussion of job impacts. We really don't feel that it's our job to consider job impacts. Our job is to recommend what's best for national security.

"That said," he continued, "we are mindful that we are affecting people's lives and livelihoods. And certainly we hope that for those programs that were terminated or where there's going to be reduced employment, that there are other benefits -- whether they're federal, state or nongovernment -- that come to these people's aid. And we'd want to note there are programs that are growing. I mean, we're going to increase the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program by $3.5 billion between '09 and '10. There will be a lot of new jobs there."

Hale went on to say that deciding what programs to fund, increase or stop really depends on lots of small, but very important decisions.

"Increasing funding for things like the building partnership capacity, where we're either working with the State Department or our allies to provide them 'training and equip' roles so they can join us in supporting our common goals" plays into the decision process, he said.

Since the budget details were announced May 7, Hale said, he has been spending a lot of time briefing congressional members and staffers.

"The Constitution is real clear – we propose, they dispose," Hale said. "We have made our best proposal, and while we would like it back 100 percent, I think there probably will be some changes.

"We will provide the Congress with all the information they need and continue to make the case that the 2010 budget proposal is in the best interest of our warfighters, the department and the nation," he added.

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

Washington Guard Works With Thai First Responders

By Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 19, 2009 - The National Guard's State Partnership Program pairs up Guard members from every state with foreign countries to provide mentorship and training, largely focusing on military training. But one state has been working with its partner country to build on another aspect unique to the Guard: domestic response. Members of the Washington National Guard have worked with first responders from their partnership country, Thailand, to build on their skills in port security, fire fighting, search and rescue and command and control, said Maj. Wil Johnston, director of the Washington Guard's State Partnership Program.

"The intent is to build their capacity to respond to a potential disaster that may or may not involve hazardous materials at the port," he said. Then, he added, they can respond with fire fighting, medical response and command and control components.

Members of the Washington Guard normally visit Thailand several times a year to conduct this training, which culminates in a full-scale field training exercise. However, the goal is to sustain the training program within Thailand. That comes about by training the trainers there, said Johnston, who added that the aim is simply to be in an advisory status within two years and have the training conducted solely by Thai officials.

Already, the training that has been provided has had positive benefits. A recent event here brought out emergency response teams from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Thailand's equivalent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who brought with them skills on operating in confined spaces.

"We actually used the knowledge that we have from the training just days ago, when a building collapsed at the construction site of a new major cinema complex," Ruamporn Kerdlarbpol, a senior plans and policy officer with DDPM, said through an interpreter. "A couple of people were trapped inside the building, and we sent our emergency response teams to the scene.

"Without the knowledge that we gained from Washington National Guard helping us with the training, we wouldn't have been able to do the job properly and as easily as we did."

Thailand's emergency response teams were first formed two years ago, Kerdlarbpol said.

"We will be needing more techniques and expertise to help build the capacity of these ERTs to be much better," she said. "We are looking to get more techniques in search and rescue, so we try and build our capacity based on our cooperation with the Washington National Guard."

And while the ERTs have a similar role as the National Guard's response to a similar disaster, there are differences.

"The complexity comes, because their organizational structure doesn't necessarily mirror ours," Johnston said. "So, who works for who may not be immediately clear."

One of the ways around that complexity is to provide a system of response and command and control that is the same across the country, he said.

Much of the recent training has been with fire fighters and port officials at the port of Laem Chabang, about 100 miles south of Bangkok. It has stirred interest with other agencies within Thailand.

"The port of Bangkok is now very interested in seeing what the port of Laem Chabang is doing," Johnston said. "They can then mirror that and eventually that will grow throughout the Marine Department and then throughout all of Thailand. Then there will be standard operating procedures." Thailand's Marine department oversees both ports.

But it's not as easy as it sounds, especially when it comes to command and control.

"Obviously, the command and control piece of it is very broad," Johnston said. It involves keeping the media informed, crowd control and using the incident command system, he said. While command and control is a complex issue, training on fire fighting and search and rescue techniques, he added, "is pretty straightforward."

But it is all starting to come together.

"They're doing a great job with the fire fighting, and they're doing a good job with the port security, but it's been a long time coming," Johnston said.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Mabus Sworn in as New Navy Secretary

Ray Mabus, former Mississippi governor and U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was sworn in today as the 75th Secretary of the Navy. Leading the Navy and Marine Corps, Secretary Mabus will be responsible for an annual budget in excess of $150 billion and almost 900,000 people.

The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for conducting all the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, and mobilizing. Additionally, he oversees the construction, outfitting, and repair of naval ships, equipment and facilities, and is responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that are consistent with the national security policies and objectives established by the president and the secretary of defense.

Prior to joining the administration of President Barrack Obama, Mabus served in a variety of top posts in government and the private sector. In 1988, Mabus was elected governor of Mississippi where he stressed education and job creation. In 1994, he was appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where during his tenure, the Kingdom officially abandoned the boycott of U.S. businesses that trade with Israel. Mabus also was chairman and chief executive officer of Foamex, a large manufacturing company, and also served as a Navy surface warfare officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

Secretary Mabus is a native of Ackerman, Miss., and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi, a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.