Monday, July 06, 2009

Obama, Medvedev Agree to Reduce Nuclear Stockpiles

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

July 6, 2009 - President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev agreed in Moscow today to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles by up to a third. Medvedev said during a news conference with Obama at the Kremlin that the two leaders have forged an understanding on a pact to follow up the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START.

"We agreed on the levels of carriers and warheads, meaning that this is a very concrete subject," the Russian president said. "In the mutual understanding, as we have just signed with the president of the United States, it is said that our two countries can have from 500 to 1,100 carriers of strategic arms, and from 1,500 to 1,675 warheads."

The leaders agreed that offensive and defensive systems should be considered together. The two also adopted a joint statement on anti-ballistic missile programs.

Obama said the meetings helped to correct the "sense of drift" in the relationship between the two nations. Russia damaged the relationship with its August incursion into the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Still, the two nations must talk and must work together, the leaders said. "We've taken important steps forward to increase nuclear security and to stop the spread of nuclear weapons," Obama said at the news conference.

"We have signed a joint understanding for a follow-on treaty to the START agreement that will reduce our nuclear warheads and delivery systems by up to a third from our current treaty limitations," Obama said. "This legally binding treaty will be completed this year."

The leaders also agreed on a joint statement on nuclear security cooperation that calls on the two nations to cooperate in securing vulnerable nuclear materials.

"As we keep our commitments, so we must ensure that other nations keep theirs," the U.S. president said. "To that end, we had constructive discussions about North Korea and Iran."

Obama praised Russia for its help in passing a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for strong steps to block North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and noted that Iran also continues to develop nuclear capabilities and the means to deliver them.

"This is not just a problem for the United States," Obama said. "It raises the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which would endanger global security, while Iran's ballistic missile program could also pose a threat to the broader region."

Obama said he is pleased with the U.S.-Russian statement on cooperation on missile defense, and the agreement to conduct a joint threat assessment of the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century that will include Iran and North Korea.


Northrup Grumman Space and Missions Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif., is being awarded a $98,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) Program. The MLD Program seeks to mature technologies through and beyond a technical readiness level of six, in a technology demonstration (TD) phase with an anticipated contract duration period of between 12 and 18 months. There will be a final demonstration phase of a demonstrator/prototype. The prototype system installation envisioned and desired not to be limited to installation on a specific or particular class of ship, but at the very minimum shall support the US Navy DDG, LCS, CG, LSD, LPD, LHA, LHD, and FFG ship classes. Incremental land based live-fire tests for safety and range readiness reviews and testing will be considered as part of the overall program, leading to a real-time, "at sea" dynamic demonstration showing a counter-material capability against small boats. On successful completion of the TD, additional task orders for a subsequent acquisition oriented system development and demonstration phase may extend the life of the contract. These capabilities define its relevance to the Office of Naval Research mission since they are key thrusts of the survivability & self defense and power projection S&T focus areas at ONR. The contract allows for the placement of firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee task orders. At the time of award, $499,999 will be obligated. Work will be performed in Redondo Beach, Calif., and the expected date of completion is June 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $499,999 will expire at end of current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured via the internet under a Request For Proposals. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (N00014-09-D-0077).

Kiewit Building Group, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a $24,380,777 firm-fixed price contract for the construction of a fitness center at Naval Base, Pearl Harbor. A new paved parking area with new access driveways, landscaping, and the demolition of four existing building structures are also included in this project. Work will be performed in Oahu, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed by November 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with six proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity (N62742-09-C-1304).

T.B Penick & Sons, Inc., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded $14,970,106 for firm-fixed price task order #0006 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-08-D-8612) for the design and construction of an applied instruction facility at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The contract also contains two unexercised options, which if exercised would increase the cumulative task order value to $18,703,081. Work will be performed in Yuma, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by November 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Six proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Hawthorne Machinery Co., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a ceiling $14,200,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to accomplish maintenance and Class "B" overhauls on Caterpillar brand diesel engines on torpedo weapon retrievers and other small boats and crafts for the Navy. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by July 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $20,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured with four proposals solicited and one offer received via the Federal Business Opportunities website. The Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, San Diego, Calif. is the contracting activity (N55236-09-D-0019).

CACI, Inc.-Federal, Chantilly, Va., is being awarded a $8,706,093 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with fixed-priced task orders for the enhancement, maintenance and support of Military Sealift Command information technology systems used for maintenance and supply processes. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to $69,985,284. At the time of award, $1,000,000 will be obligated. Work will be performed in Chantilly, Va., (40 percent); Arlington, Va., (20 percent); San Diego, Calif., (20 percent); and Hampton Roads, Va., (20 percent), and is expected to be completed by January 2017. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with more than 100 proposals solicited with four offers received. Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00033-09-D-6503).

The Air Force is awarding an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to Choctaw Professional Resources Enterprise, Durant, Okla., for $16,900,386. This action will provide for a family advocacy program, East CONUS. The location of performance is 23 various medical treatment facilities within the Eastern Continental United States. No funds have been obligated at this time. AFDW/A7KM-S, Brooks City-Base, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA7014-09-D-0001).

The Air Force is awarding a contract to Vision Systems International, San Jose, Calif., for $10,205,915. This action will provide the equipment, data and technical support necessary to stand-up an organic repair capability for the helmet vehicle interface cables supporting the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System at Robins AFB. The system provides the war fighter an ejection-compatible, helmet-mounted display with the capability to cue and verify high off-axis sensors and weapons on USAF/USN single and dual seat fighter aircraft. The entire amount has been obligated at this time. The 448 SCMG/PKHCB, Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8522-09-C-0012).

U.S., Russia Resume Military Relations

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

July 6, 2009 - The United States and Russia today agreed to resume bilateral military cooperation, which has been on hold since the conflict between Russia and Georgia erupted in August. In a strategic framework agreement signed by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Russian counterpart, the two countries pledged to engage in a range of military-to-military exchanges and also to restore a joint commission on prisoners of war and servicemembers missing in action.

"This provides a framework for improved cooperation and interoperability between our armed forces, so that we can better address the threats that we face, from terrorism to piracy," President Barack Obama said during a news conference in Moscow today.

"We've also agreed to restore a joint commission on prisoners of war and missing in action, which will allow our governments to cooperate in our unwavering commitment to our missing servicemen and -women," he added.

The framework of understanding signed today by Mullen and Russian Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff, entails the following U.S.-Russian military-to-military operations:

-- Conducting nearly 20 exchanges and operational events before the end of 2009, including a strategic discussion between the U.S. Joint Staff and the Russian General Staff;

-- Orientation for Russian military cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.;

-- Planning for a joint exercise to respond to a hijacked aircraft in national and international airspace;

-- Visiting of the faculty of the Russian Combined Arms Academy to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and

-- A naval war game conducted by the Kuznetsov Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College.

Additionally, U.S. European Command and the Russian Defense Ministry have agreed to meet to plan a robust and more ambitious work plan for 2010.

"As global powers, the United States and Russia have a special responsibility for ensuring peace and stability in the world," a White House statement reads. "Re-establishing our military-to-military bonds will enhance transparency, establish clear paths of communication, and focus our collective efforts on today's global strategic challenges."

Following their meeting, Obama told reporters that he and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev held frank discussions, which included topics where the two leaders' views part.

"For instance, we had a frank discussion on Georgia, and I reiterated my firm belief that Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected," Obama said, alluding to Moscow's invasion of Georgia in August, which drew rebukes from the United States and NATO. "Yet even as we work through our disagreements on Georgia's borders, we do agree that no one has an interest in renewed military conflict."

Both leaders also are committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past to advance the countries' mutual interests, Obama said.

"Today, we've made meaningful progress in demonstrating through deeds and words what a more constructive U.S.-Russian relationship can look like in the 21st century," he said.

Defense Secretary During Vietnam Build-up Dies at 93

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

July 6, 2009 - The defense secretary who presided over the department during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam died today. Robert S. McNamara, the nation's eighth defense secretary who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, died here following a long illness. He was 93.

McNamara became defense secretary on Jan. 21, 1961, and served as such during the coldest part of the Cold War. In 1962, the Soviet Union began building missile sites in Cuba. The sites would have Soviet nuclear missiles capable of hitting any city in the United States in minutes. President John F. Kennedy and his advisors challenged Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev.

McNamara was a member of the small group of advisors called the Executive Committee who counseled Kennedy on the matter. In the view of many historians, the United States and the Soviet Union came closer to a nuclear war during this time than at any other in history. McNamara supported the president's decision to quarantine Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from bringing in more offensive weapons. During the crisis, the Pentagon placed U.S. military forces on alert, ready to back up the administration's demand that the Soviet Union withdraw its offensive missiles from Cuba.

Vietnam was the major issue for McNamara. During the Kennedy administration, U.S. involvement in South Vietnam was limited to American Special Forces advisor teams and their support. The numbers of U.S. troops in Vietnam reached 17,000 by the time Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963.

In 1964, the so-called "Gulf of Tonkin incident" – in which North Vietnamese ships fired on U.S. Navy vessels – caused President Lyndon B. Johnson to retaliate by bombing North Vietnam. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving the president the authority to increase the number of U.S. troops and missions in South Vietnam.

The number of American troops in South Vietnam hit 485,000 by the end of 1967, and it reached almost 535,000 by June 1968.

McNamara loyally supported the war in Vietnam, but grew disillusioned. By 1966, he questioned whether the war could be won by deploying more troops to South Vietnam and intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam. McNamara traveled to Southeast Asia many times to assess the war first-hand. North Vietnam's Tet Offensive, launched in February 1968, was a strategic victory for the enemy. American servicemembers won every battle, but the heart had gone out of U.S. determination to win the war.

By the end of the Tet Offensive, McNamara had resigned, leaving office on Feb. 29, 1968. Johnson presented him with both the Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Medal.

McNamara was born June 9, 1916, in San Francisco. In 1937, he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in economics and philosophy, and he earned a master's degree in business administration from Harvard in 1939. In 1940, he married Margaret Craig, who founded the Reading is Fundamental program in the 1960s and died in 1981. He entered the Army Air Forces as a captain in early 1943 and left active duty three years later with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the war, McNamara joined the Ford Motor Co. as manager of planning and financial analysis. He rose through the ranks and was named the president of Ford on November 9, 1960. Less than five weeks after becoming president of Ford, McNamara accepted Kennedy's invitation to join his Cabinet. After leaving the Pentagon, he served as president of the World Bank.

The former defense secretary is survived by a son, Robert Craig; two daughters, Margaret Elizabeth and Kathleen; and his wife, Diana Masieri Byfield, whom he married in San Francisco in 2004.

Don't Hate Sarah Palin Because She's Beautiful

This weekend Sarah Palin announced she would resign her position as Governor of Alaska.

This of course led to a snobby, bitchy, column by the perennially unsatisfied and in desperate need of male attention Maureen Dowd. I won't bother linking.

The shrews of Manhattan and Georgetown, not to mention the State Department, could never accept that Sarah Palin has a career, family, and husband, all while being prettier than them.

Actually, I think Todd Palin may have been the greatest source of anguish for the dissapointed and angry feminist. Most of the sisters have husbands too, but they're not the kind to kill an intruder, let alone fix something around the house. These men most likely pee sitting down. Todd Palin is married to a pretty, successful woman; all while racing dog sleds, hunting, and being a member of the steel workers union. What's worse, Sarah Palin can take care of her man. They have five kids after all. This is something we know Maureen Dowd can't do.

Will's book about the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the Battle of 73 Easting, is called A Line Through the Desert. It may be purchased at Amazon.

On what planet do these people live?

Lord Bingham, described as Britain's 'Top Judge' by the Independent, deplores the use of unmanned drones against the Taliban, describing them as, "cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance". The Independent goes on to note that, 'International lawyers also argue that air strikes using drones are state-sanctioned assassinations where the targeted suspected terrorist has no opportunity to defend the case against him,' a right denied to the victims of the 7/7 London Tube Bombings, victim's of the Passover Massacre, and those targeted in the Bali Bombings.

Remember, were the war on radical Islam treated as a law enforcement matter, as Lord Bingham (henceforth to be known as Lord Haw Haw) and former presidential candidates wish, the terrorists will have more legal rights than you or I.

Pray tell, Lord Haw Haw, what is the proper way to kill someone?

I seem to recall 'human rights' advocates making a stink during Operation Desert Storm because the U.S. Army was bulldozer bunkers held by Iraqi troops. The alternative was going in with hand grenades and bayonets, you lead the way though.

Most famously, international campaigners have banned land mines and are now moving on to other areas, inbcluding white phosphorous (smoke bombs) cluster bombers, and now apparently, UAVs.

Where are the campaigns to end suicide bombings and slitting the throughts of flight attendants?
Will's book about the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the Battle of 73 Easting, is called A Line Through the Desert. It may be purchased at Amazon

Face of Defense: Iraqi-born Soldier Becomes U.S. Citizen

By Army Lt. Col. Pat Simon
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 6, 2009 - Red, white and blue are the colors associated with American independence, but this year, we can add another color: brown. Army Spc. "Brown," an interpreter with the 225th Engineer Brigade, joined 236 other servicemembers who raised their right hands and recited the oath of citizenship as new Americans at Al Faw palace here July 4.

Brown isn't the soldier's real name; it's a nickname given to him by an Army officer, and he's kept it to protect the lives of his family members who live in Baghdad.

Vice President Joe Biden and Multinational Force Iraq Commander Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno participated in the citizenship ceremony. Biden commended the newly sworn-in citizens for their service and their decision to become Americans.

"You represent what America always stood for: strength, freedom, and resolve, [and] also remarkable diversity," Biden said.

"It is an amazing feeling," Brown said soon after shaking Biden's and Odierno's hands. "I was shaking -- nervous."

Brown recalled growing up and living under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

"As a student, I remembered that we had to stay behind the wall to stay safe from the former Baath Party," he said. "You could not talk about politics. Those that did disappeared."

Brown received his education in civil engineering and got a job in Baghdad as a supervisor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He quickly found that his daily commute to Tikrit to check on water, sewer and electrical projects would become a frightening trek.

"The security was very bad," he recalled. "There were many sectarian problems over here. It was not easy moving from area to area. It was very dangerous."

He also became emotionally scarred by the way some fellow Iraqis treated him because of his tenure working for the U.S. Army.

"Many of them thought I was a traitor," Brown said. "They called us very bad names. They did not realize that when we did our jobs, we did them for the Iraqi people."

Brown said he felt he no longer had a future in his war-torn country. He had to leave his father, brother and two sisters behind to set a new course for freedom and opportunity in America.

Brown was granted a special immigrant visa. His first stop was in Denver, to live with his uncle. Brown tried to find a job in engineering, but he found nothing. He remembered a friend who was a former associate of his in Iraq. He called her, and within a few days, Brown and his wife were in St. Louis, staying with his friend, who suggested that he apply for a program that would change his life. He didn't know it at the time, but it would put him back on his homeland's soil.

Within weeks, Brown was at U.S. Army basic training as a new recruit. As a qualified interpreter, he was on the fast track to deployment to Iraq. The program also expedited his ability to receive his U.S. citizenship.

"It's truly amazing to have this new opportunity," Brown said.

Four months ago, Brown was attached to the 225th Engineer Brigade. He found himself right in the middle of history, engaging in conversations between military leaders from both countries. As a military engineer interpreter, Brown literally has bridged the gap between two worlds, and he has finally come to grips with his past and his future.

"It's a big responsibility," he said. "I know I am making a difference. This is important for me."

By the end of the year, Brown will again have to leave his beloved birthplace behind, but the circumstances are different this time.

"My old life is over for me here, but I would like to return and visit one day as an American citizen," he said.

(Army Lt. Col. Pat Simon serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 225th Engineer Brigade public affairs office.)

Nonlethal Capabilities Provide Alternative to Deadly Force

By Ian Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 6, 2009 - When shouting isn't enough to stop someone who poses a threat, nonlethal weapons provide an alternative to lethal force. "Nonlethal weapons give warfighters crucial escalation-of-force options between shouting and shooting," said Kelley Hughes, strategic communications officer for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

"They help minimize casualties and collateral damage across the full spectrum of military operations -- everything from full-scale combat to humanitarian and disaster relief missions," Hughes said during a July 1 webcast of "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" on Pentagon Web Radio.

The nonlethal weapons program has been advising the services since 1996.

Hughes said nonlethal weapons are designed to incapacitate targeted people or equipment immediately while minimizing casualties and damage. They're intended to have reversible effects, she added.

Alicia Owsiak, deputy chief of the program's Technology Division, spoke about optical distracters, popularly known as "laser dazzlers," which are used by servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Optical distractors employ a green laser that can be used as a warning or distraction to give servicemembers at least one option to quell a situation before escalating force. They commonly are used at roadside checkpoints.

"The warfighter can actually shine the laser in an approaching vehicle's windshield to hail, warn and even suppress vehicle drivers," Owsiak said. "If the driver is an innocent civilian who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, this gives them a very clear signal, and will likely make them stop. But if that person ... keeps coming at full speed ... the warfighter then knows that the driver likely has malicious intent."

Lasers are safe when properly employed from prescribed distances, Owsiak said. The programs tests extensively to discern the parameters under which nonlethal weapons can be used without causing irreversible injury, she said.

The program also involves modifying previously developed weapons, to prevent injury to civilians and U.S. troops, Owsiak said. For example, the Green Beam Dazzler III Custom -- known as GBD-IIIC -- one of the green lasers the services use, is being retrofitted to include a safety control module that will prevent inadvertent lasing by shutting off the system when the target gets too close to the user.

Hughes said optical distractors have been "extremely effective" in the field.

"Anecdotal reports suggest that fielded green laser devices have been extremely effective in providing a means for warfighters to engage personnel at significant standoff distances, allowing them to determine the intent of personnel before the warfighter comes in harm's way," Hughes said. "In cases where innocent vehicle drivers misunderstand or misinterpret initial signals and signs to stop or move away from a protected asset, using a green laser for unequivocal warning prevents further unnecessary escalation of force and saves lives."

(Ian Graham works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)