Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Defense Travel System to Modify Reservation Process

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

June 10, 2009 - Minor changes are scheduled to take place within the Defense Department's travel reservation system later this summer to support the Transportation Security Administration's new pre-flight screening program, a Defense Department official said today. Under the current format, when travelers arrange flight, hotel and rental car reservations online at the Defense Travel System Web site, the only personal information the site processes through to the vendors is the traveler's first name, last name and middle initial. But after the system and Web site modifications take effect, the traveler's date of birth and gender will be included to comply with the TSA's Secure Flight Program, said Pam Mitchell, director of the Defense Travel Management Office.

Defense travelers will be prompted by a pop-up screen from the DTS Web site to add the information, as well as to enter their name as it appears on their government-issued identification card. The change will be minimally inconvenient to the traveler, as the information will be entered only once then saved to their profile, Mitchell said.

The program is an outcome of the 9/11 Commission, and it basically streamlines the process of identifying potential passengers deemed a match on the FBI-generated watch list screened by the airlines, Paul Leyh, the program's director, said.

Before the program officially began last month, the various airlines each had their own screening processes, which was inconsistent and inconvenient for many travelers, Leyh said. It's not uncommon for a passenger's information to be identified as a match on one airline's list but cleared through another's, he added.

"From carrier to carrier, because the process is different, it's inconsistent across all carriers," he said. "Throughout the world there are hundreds of carriers, and it could be kind of a crap shoot for people. But with Secure Flight, it's going to be the same process for that person regardless of the carrier."

With the Secure Flight Program, the TSA eventually will become the sole prescreening agency for all airline passengers. The program officially started in May with several domestic airlines, but within 18 months, every airline – international and domestic – that travels within, to, from and over the United States will be phased into the program, he said.

This will improve the safety of more than 2.5 million people, Leyh added. Also, travelers who've been misidentified as a close-enough match on the watch list can apply for a redress number through TSA to prevent future inconveniences. If cleared, the redress number also will be added to their profile in DTS.

"With nearly every commercial airline participating, watch list matching is going to be more effective, which is going to allow us to clear more people and focus on those potential travelers that are considered as a close enough match," he said.

The program will virtually go unnoticed by the passengers, officials said, as no changes to the airline check-in or security checkpoint procedures are involved. Once defense travelers make the initial modifications to their profile on the DTS Web site, officials added, the program's changes will not affect them unless their information matches the watch list.


Capy Machine, Melville, N.Y.*, is being awarded a maximum $2,227,505,000 firm fixed price, total set aside, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for nacelle thrust fittings for A-10 aircraft. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There were originally three proposals solicited with two responses. The date of performance completion is Jun. 10, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency (DSCR Ogden), Hill AFB, Utah (SPRHA4-09-D-0003).

BAE Systems Information and Electronics, Totowa, N.J., is being awarded a maximum $46,497,512 firm fixed price, sole source contract for spare parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Dec. 30, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Distribution Center Robins AFB, Ga., (F09603-03-D-0001-0365).

Valero Marketing & Supply Co., San Antonio, Texas is being awarded a maximum $15,673,310 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for fuel. Other location of performance is Corpus Christi, Texas. Using service is Foreign Military Sales. The original proposal was Web solicited with three responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 31, 2009. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-0454).

The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to the Raytheon Co. of McKinney, Texas for an amount not to exceed $87,327,441. This action will provide 35 multi-spectral targeting systems Model A, 25 multi-spectral targeting systems, 25 multi-spectral targeting systems -B pre-production units including onerRetrofit gyro and one retrofit imager, and associated multi-spectral targeting systems replaceable unit spares and containers to support the Predator/Reaper program. At this time, $14,094,649 has been obligated. 703'd ASG, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8620-06-G-4041).

The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to Alloy Surface Co., Inc., of Chester Township, Pa. This contract action provides for the MJU-50/B infrared countermeasures decoy consists of aluminum cartridge case purged with nitrogen and containing a payload of stacked special material elements which react with air. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 784 CBSG/PK, Hill Air Force Base, Utah is the contracting activity (FA8213-09-C-0051).

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif., is being awarded a $7,227,980 firm-fixed-price contract for a program of family support services in support of the Department of Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The services include group level briefings for pre- and post-deployment military and family, individual consultations, skill-building sessions for families, and multi-session family interventions. The services also include consultation to military staff, schools, family, and community on parenting and combating stress, traumatic grief, and other deployment-related stresses. Work will be performed at the following military locations: Headquarters Marine Corps and the Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico, Va.; Marine Corps Bases in Hawaii, Okinawa, Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., as well as the WW Battalion's in Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune; Naval Stations Norfolk, Va. and San Diego, Calif.; the Naval Special Warfare sites in Coronado, Calif. and Little Creek/Dam Neck, Va.; Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.; and the Naval Construction Battalion Commands in Gulfport, Miss., and Port Hueneme, Calif. Work is expected to be completed in Jun. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was a sole-source requirement in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(2), "Unusual and Compelling Urgency," as implemented by FAR 6.302-2. The Fleet a! nd Indus trial Supply Center Norfolk Contracting Department, Philadelphia Office, is the contracting activity (N00189-09-C-Z057).

May Recruiting Shows Across-the-Board Success

American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2009 - May was a banner recruiting month for every military service, but especially for the Marine Corps, which topped its active-duty goal by 42 percent and its Marine Corps Reserve goal by 12 percent, Defense Department officials announced today. The Marine recruiting successes represent a particularly high point among across-the-board recruiting successes in which every service met or exceeded its May active-duty goal, officials said.

The reserve components reported similar progress. The three components that fell short of their projected May goals did so because only because they already have reached 112 percent of their year-to-date goals, officials explained.

The Army exceeded its active-duty goal by 4 percent, recruiting 4,044 soldiers. The Marine Corps reported 2,146 active-duty accessions, 42 percent above its goal of 1,516.

Meanwhile, the Navy and Air Force met their monthly active-duty goals, with 2,542 and 2,289 accessions, respectively.

In the reserve components, the Marine Corps Reserve reported 1,196 accessions, 212 percent of its May goal. The Air Force Reserve exceeded its goal by 7 percent, with 770 accessions. The Navy Reserve met its goal, recruiting 574 sailors.

Three reserve components that reported lower-than-initially-expected May recruiting figures all have achieved 112 percent of their year-to-date projections, officials said.

The Army National Guard signed on 3,026 members, 83 percent of its initial May goal. The Air National Guard, with 766 accessions, met 95 percent of its original goal. The Army Reserve recruited 3,178 members, 96 percent of its initial goal.

Officials noted that the May statistics represent the last monthly recruiting efforts before the 2009 high school graduations. This is expected to usher in a busy recruiting month as new graduates join the military.

Marine 1st Lt. Brian Block, a Marine Corps spokesman, called the May recruiting statistics particularly noteworthy because they were achieved without sacrificing quality.

"It says a lot about the organization of the Marine Corps and the tradition we have carried since we were originally founded," he said. "We take the best and the brightest. And what ultimately attracts people to the Marine Corps is the honor of carrying the title 'Marine.'"

National Guard Bureau spokesman Army Col. Jamie Davis called recruiting successes in the Army and Air Guard an encouraging sign of "the level of support and patriotism that American citizens have for their country."

Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, lauded continued recruiting successes in the Army Reserve. He noted that the Army Reserve reached its new 206,000-member end-strength objective a year ahead of schedule. During fiscal 2008, the Army Reserve exceeded its goals by recruiting more than 44,000 soldiers and re-enlisting more than 16,000 soldiers, he said.

Mullen: Warfighters, Families, Wounded Warriors Drive Budget Request

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2009 - The nation's top military officer told Congress yesterday the fiscal 2010 defense budget request puts money where it's needed: to recruit and retain the quality troops and their families who form the foundation of the all-volunteer force. But Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee he's particularly proud of funds dedicated to carrying for wounded warriors.

"There is, in my view, no higher duty for this nation, or for those of us in leadership positions, than to care for those who sacrifice so much and who must now face lives forever changed by wounds both seen and unseen," Mullen told the Senate panel during a budget hearing.

Mullen thanked Congress for its continued support for wounded troops as well as families of the fallen. "Our commitment to all of them must be for the remainder of their lives," he said.

The fiscal 2010 budget request builds on support already in place by allocating funds to:

-- Complete construction of additional wounded warrior complexes;

-- Expand the pilot program designed to expedite the processing of injured troops through the disability evaluation system;

-- Increase the number of mental-health professionals assigned to deployed units; and

-- Devote more resources to the study and treatment of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

Mullen praised other provisions in the budget that support what he called "the people account," improving servicemembers' quality of life through better pay, health care and other benefits.

These efforts, he reminded the panel, correlate directly to recruiting and retention, and to the success of the all-volunteer force.

"It is the recruit and the retain choices of our families -- and, quite frankly, American citizens writ large -- that will make or break the all-volunteer force," he said. "They will be less inclined to make those decisions should we not be able to offer them viable career options, adequate health care, suitable housing, advanced education and the promise of a prosperous life long after they've taken off the uniform."

Gates echoed this sentiment, telling the senators the budget request reaffirms U.S. commitment to taking 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 told the panel.

Other decisions represented in the budget request ensure the force is better balanced – not only so it's better postured for current and future threats, but also so it reduces stress on its members.

"After nearly eight years of war, we are the most capable and combat-experienced military we've ever been, [and] certainly, without question, the world's best counterinsurgency force," Mullen said. "Yet for all this success, we are pressed and still lack a proper balance, between [operational] tempo and home tempo, between unconventional and conventional capabilities, between readiness today and readiness tomorrow."

Mullen lauded the budget request's larger investments in "critical enablers," such as servicemembers skilled in aviation, special operations, cyber operations, civil affairs and language skills.

Another key initiative, which the Army announced last week, will cap the number of brigade combat teams at 45 – a goal to be reached in fiscal 2010 with the activation of the 1st Armored Division's 2nd Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas. This adjustment, Mullen told the senators, "helps ensure our ability to impact the fight sooner, increase dwell time and reduce our overall demand on equipment."

In addition to better positioning the military for the current conflicts and those on the horizon, Mullen said, the budget request includes a unique provision that authorizes Gates to transfer funds to the State Department as required to cover the costs of reconstruction, security and stabilization efforts. This, he said, recognizes the capabilities nonmilitary players can bring to the fight.

"It puts more civilian professionals alongside warfighters in more places like Iraq and Afghanistan," Mullen said. "I've said it before, but it bears repeating. More boots on the ground are important, but they will never be completely sufficient. We need people with graphing tablets and shovels and teaching degrees. We need bankers and farmers and law enforcement experts."

Gates said America owes its servicemembers the support they need to succeed in their missions and the quality of life they and their families have earned.

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

Face of Defense: Doctor Applies Traumatic Brain Injury Experience to Mission

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2009 - When Army Col. (Dr.) Kenneth Lee began evaluating more than 3,000 Wisconsin Army National Guardsmen called to duty last fall in the state's largest operational deployment since World War II to ensure their medical readiness, he approached the task with unique and personal insights. Lee, who holds the Wisconsin Guard's top medical post as the state surgeon, had to determine the deployability of about 600 members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team who had been classified on their medical records as "ambers."

Between their initial alert last year and early this year, when they moved to their mobilization station at Fort Bliss, Texas, Lee had to put these soldiers into one of two categories: "green" if they were deployable or "red" for they weren't.

It was a tough call, he admits, because many of the soldiers didn't want to confess to issues that might keep them from deploying with their units. Some hid musculoskeletal or other injuries for fear they'd be forced out of the military if deemed nondeployable. Others acknowledged they had medical issues, but hadn't addressed them because they had no health insurance or couldn't spare time away from their civilian jobs to get treated.

But the bigger challenge, Lee said, was identifying troops with mental-health issues, including post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Lee calls these "the invisible wounds" of war – issues that don't mean a soldier can't deploy, but that have to be weighed when making that determination.

Lee is no stranger to these signs. In his civilian capacity, he's the chief of the spinal cord injury division at the Zablocki Veterans Administration Medical Center in Milwaukee. About 30 percent of the veterans he works with, regardless of what conflict they served in, exhibit symptoms of PTSD or TBI or both, he said.

As he evaluated the Guardsmen's medical records and met with them to discuss their individual cases, Lee said he understood all too well their reluctance to acknowledge these symptoms – in many instances, even to themselves.
Many, like him, had served previous deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan. And many, like Lee, had experienced battlefield trauma.

Lee and two of his soldiers were severely wounded when a suicide bomber attacked their three-vehicle convoy on the airport road outside Baghdad International Airport. The incident occurred on April 12, 2004 – a day Lee now refers to as his "Alive Day."

"That's the day I was supposed to have been dead, but somehow survived," he said. "It's my Alive Day, and I celebrate it every year now, just like my birthday."

Lee was medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, then spent four months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here undergoing five surgeries and extensive rehabilitation therapy. As he recuperated from shrapnel wounds that took a big chunk out of his knee and ripped open his skull, Lee told his medical providers he wanted nothing more than to return to Iraq.

"I wanted so badly to go back to Iraq to be with my soldiers," he said.

But Lee's physicians, family and friends noticed what he wouldn't admit. He suffered from head-splitting headaches. He laughed less. And his once-razor-sharp mind now struggled to remember the simplest of things.

But Lee admits now he wasn't willing to acknowledge that something was amiss. His rehabilitative counselors convinced him to take a neuro-psychology test. Unfortunately, "I didn't test fine," Lee said. The test confirmed a mild case of TBI.

"Severe TBI is easy to see. You have deformed skulls, facial defects, severe speech impediments," Lee said. "It's pretty easy to pick these cases up, so you can bring people in and start treating them."

Moderate TBI is a more difficult to identify. "People with moderate TBI might not have physical defects," Lee said. "But once you start interacting with them, you see that there's a disconnect between their speech and thought processes. It's something you pick up on."

Mild TBI is the most challenging to recognize, he said, expressing concern that many soldiers don't realize they are experiencing it. And once it's diagnosed, he added, there's no specific therapy to treat it.

Lee initially struggled with depression after his diagnosis, then decided to take matters into his own hands. He got counseling. He resisted prescription medications, fearing the side effects and risk of addiction, and using only over-the-counter drugs when his headaches pounded.
He began reading one novel after another to keep his brain exercised. And he turned to a notebook and his BlackBerry to make up for his short-term memory loss.

"I write everything down," he said. "I e-mail myself constantly so I don't forget anything."

Lee admits he initially wondered if he'd be capable of returning to his civilian job at the VA hospital. But now that he's back and keeping up with his heavy patient load, he said, he's brought a new sense of connection to the patients he works with every day. "I have so much more understanding as I deal with them," he said, "because of what I went through."

As a final step toward recovery, Lee set out to repair the family relationships he admits he had come dangerously close to destroying as he struggled with denial, anger and self-pity.

Looking back now, Lee said, he never realized how much his family had endured during his deployment as they worried about his safety and well-being. But exacerbating it, he said, was his attitude when he came home.

"It was all about me," he said. "It took a long time for me to realize the collateral damage I was causing at home by telling them they didn't understand without realizing what they had gone through themselves."

Lee finally faced that fact when he found his wife alone in the garage, crying. He said turning the focus away from himself and toward those he loves actually strengthened his family as it helped him turn the corner. "That has had a huge impact on my recovery," he said.

Another big impact has been sharing his story. Lee lectures regularly about his personal experience with TBI and the challenges of reintegrating back into his family and professional life. He's also a regular at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, where he talks freely about his own experiences.

"It's therapy for me to talk about it," he said. "Every time I give a talk, I feel a little sense of calm."

Lee said he drew on his newfound understanding as he reviewed the cases of National Guard members late last year and earlier this year to determine if they were medically fit to deploy. He encouraged those with symptoms of TBI to get screened, and to seek treatment if they tested positive. Unlike the active Army, where a commander can order his soldiers to take these steps, the reserve components only can recommend it, Lee explained, because the Guardsmen and reservists have to cover the cost if they're not on active duty.

"It hurts for me to tell them they have to do that," Lee said. "There's a huge discrepancy." Yet Lee said he's amazed how many of the Guard members followed up on his recommendation so they could be cleared to deploy.

Mild TBI and PTSD don't have to be deployment show-stoppers if they're addressed, Lee attested. He himself is a "deployable asset," and could be eligible to be mobilized as soon as this year. If called up, he said, he feels he's up to the challenge and ready to go, and that in many respects it will bring a sense of closure to his last deployment, which ended so abruptly.

"This is a problem with many of our combat wounded, who never really felt they came home to reconnect the dots in their life," he said. "Going back would be a way to reconnect the dots and move on."

Wounded Warriors Participate in Virginia's 'Ride 2 Recovery'

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2009 - Many cheering and excited Virginians lined the route of the "Ride 2 Recovery" Memorial Challenge bicycle ride, in which 35 wounded warriors took part last month. This is the second year the ride was held in Virginia.

"The event was very successful," said John Wordin, executive director of Ride 2 Recovery. "Participating in this ride changed the lives of the wounded warriors in a very positive way. To see their transformation over the course of six days was truly inspiring."

After leaving the National Memorial Parade here May 25, cyclists traveled through Manassas, Fredericksburg, Ashland, Williamsburg, Jamestown and Hampton on their 350-mile bicycle journey before reaching Virginia Beach on May 30. The cyclists were greeted with a concert featuring 2008 American Idol winner David Cook.

Other notable supporters of this year's Virginia Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge included Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, actor Gary Sinise and country music artist Lee Greenwood.

In each Virginia town the cyclists passed through, the American Legion Auxiliary provided support, including community fundraising dinners. The USO used its traveling canteen to provide rest stops.

"We were delighted to participate in this bicycle ride for our wounded warriors," said Jeff Hill, U.S. regional vice president for the USO. "One of our programs is Operation Enduring Care. We sponsor many outings with wounded warriors to boost their morale. They have always been our highest priority. To see these servicemembers start this bicycle journey, some full of doubt, then to see them finish with a great sense of accomplishment and achievement was incredible."

Fifty cyclists, including the general public, participated in the ride. One wounded warrior who had turned to cycling as a way to boost his physical and mental rehabilitation was exhilarated.

"My experience was awesome," said Army Sgt. Juan Alcivar, who was shot in the leg by a sniper in Bagdad and lost his right femur. "I didn't think I was going to make it. All the new friends I made helped me. Now, I love to ride my bike. It was just awesome."

The Ride 2 Recovery organization hosts bicycle rides for wounded warriors across the country every year. The Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge will take place Oct. 4 through Oct. 10, starting in San Francisco and ending in Los Angeles. The group plans a Ride 2 Recovery Florida Challenge in December.

The troop-support group raises funds for "spinning recovery labs" and outdoor cycling programs at warrior transition units across the country.

"Our mission has always been to improve the health and wellness of wounded warriors by providing life-changing experiences for them," Wordin said.

Army Anthropologists Apply Science to Uniform Fit

American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2009 - The Army and Marine Corps are surveying their populations to better design clothing to fit warfighters for the next 10 to 15 years. "You're literally measuring thousands of people for hundreds of body dimensions," said Claire Gordon, senior scientist in biological anthropology at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Mass.

Gordon, who holds a doctorate in biological anthropology, explained the effort in a June 3 "DoDLive" webcast of "Armed With Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

"We'll build databases for those two groups," she said, "and then those will be used for the next 10 or 15 years to design virtually everything that we buy off the shelf or design from scratch."

The Army last surveyed its population in 1988, and the Marine Corps conducted its last survey in 1994. "We've had an increasing difference between the components and between the services," Gordon said. "And we've had a change in Army [body measurement] in the last 20 years, so we have to update both of those databases."

Gordon has played an important role in dressing warfighters for more than 20 years. "Pretty much anything you see on the TV that's associated with a soldier was built on a database that we created in 1988," Gordon said.

The Army has maintained an anthropometric database – the scientific term for a database derived from body measurements -- since World War II. "Our database right now is comprised of about 132 body dimensions on more than 9,000 soldiers," Gordon said. "And we have whole-body scans and faces as well."

To optimize the safety and performance of soldiers, Army anthropologists conduct research on human body size and shape variations that influence the design and sizing of everything a soldier wears, carries, flies, drives, works at or lives in, Gordon said.

"The Army is required to accommodate at least 90 percent of its population off the shelf with no customized sizing, and that's for clothing and equipment. For life-protecting equipment, as much as 98 percent of the people we have to fit off the shelf," Gordon said. "So, it's not as if you could just go from one store and walk three doors down and get something that fits better. You've got a one-stop shop, and we've got to fit everybody."

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

Education Activity Lowers Kindergarten Pupil-to-Teacher Ratio

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2009 - Kindergartens at many Department of Defense Education Activity schools will have fewer students per teacher when classes resume in the fall. A student-to-teacher ratio that has ranged from 24-to-1 to 29-to-1 will drop to 18-to-1.

"We've made the decision to place an additional classroom teacher and an additional full-time teacher aide into the kindergarten classrooms that have the highest kindergarten enrollment," said Charlie Toth, the activity's principal deputy director and associate director for education. The 18-1 ratio not only accommodates smaller class sizes, but also increases contact time between students and qualified teachers, he added.

The changes initially will be made in schools with the most crowded kindergarten classes that have the additional classroom space the new ratio would require, Toth said. It will start with 19 classrooms in 14 schools and will expand as facilities allow, Toth said. The schools are in Germany, England, Italy, the Mediterranean and Japan, as well as two schools in the Georgia/Alabama district and one in North Carolina.

The program requires no additional funds, Toth said. "It's a reallocation and a refocus on our existing resources to plan the execution of this initiative," he explained.

The lower ratio allows teachers more time for more individualized instruction, said Lori Pickel, the Department of Defense Education Activity's childhood education coordinator.

"It increases the 'face time' that kids get," she said. "It's an opportunity for us not only to have the individual instruction ... but those very important conversations that happen between adults and children, and for the teacher to model and to help kids get more out of not only the academic piece of school, but how to interact and survive through school."

To determine the new ratio's effectiveness, officials are developing a systemwide, standards-driven assessment process to measure student achievement in kindergarten through second grade. Activity officials will evaluate the program anecdotally for the next two to three years until the formal assessment is complete, Toth said.

Shooting customers is bad for business

Strategy & Tactics, a magazine for which I write, recently published an issue examining the Chinese military buildup. Accompanying the lead article was a game in which two players can simulate a war between the United States and China.

In the comments section of S&T's site, one player decribes how any Chinese move is hampered by Japan's suprisingly large fleet numbering more than 40 surface combatants including five destroyers based on our own state of the art Arleigh Burke Class.

One is tempted to invoke Japan's recent pacifism, but does anyone really beleive they would sit itdly by as China gobbled up, say Taiwan? And of course, there is the American Pacific Fleet.

China's massive naval expansion is aimed at something, but what? Maybe it's just an old fashioned grab at prestige like the battleship races before WWI. Great nations, afterall, have big fleets.

Would whatever goal the Chinese have be worth a war with the United States? Anyone reading this is wearing, or has within arms reach, some product made in China. How long would it take for a boycott of Chinese goods to bankrupt the country. Chinese nationalism may be all well and good, but is gaining Taiwan worth losing your vacation house and second car?

It is not hard to imagine a group of important businessmen, with interests in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai and San Francisco, sitting communist party functionaries down and explaining to them that shooting one's customers is bad for business.

Of course, all this assumes China is a rational actor.

For more about Will, visit His novel, 'A Line Through the Desert' can be purchased here.