Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reporter's Notebook: USNS Comfort Spawns Countless Stories

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - I left the USNS Comfort July 13 after a little more than three days aboard the hospital ship. It was not long enough. I underestimated the time I would need to gather the stories I wanted to tell.

It is truly an amazing ship, with a crew of physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurses and a host of other staff who perform incredible work in difficult conditions.

Hundreds of health care professionals from around the world, many of them volunteers, gathered to deliver basic care that most of us in the United States take for granted.

One young mother came to a medical site complaining of stomach pains. It turned out she hadn't eaten in five days.

Truth be told, I could have followed them for their entire four months at sea and still not have done the story justice.

It's a side of the Defense Department that most rarely get to see. The $25 million budget for the trip is a fraction of what an Army tank or an Air Force bomber costs. Yet, the dividends are immeasurable. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently called the Comfort's 2007 mission to this region "one of the most successful acts of American public diplomacy so far in this new century."

But for the hundreds waiting in line during a single day to be seen by doctors from some of the world's finest health care systems, diplomacy is the furthest thing from their minds.

They want to know if their children are healthy. They want to see. They want to eat without the pain of a toothache. They want hope for a better future.

Web Site Features Jobs for Disabled Veterans

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - With more than 3,000 job openings, the creators of a new Web portal are hoping to attract disabled veterans seeking employment. "Our current project is to spread the word that we are here," said Diana Corso, executive director of disABLEDperson Inc., a nonprofit group aiming to reduce the unemployment rate of disabled veterans.

"We launched a couple of months ago," she said. "We have jobs on the site, but not that many resumes. We are hoping to attract many more applicants. These positions are from employers across the U.S."

DisABLEDperson.Inc. hosts the nationally based online job board called Job Opportunities for Disabled American Veterans. The site is free for disabled veterans to post their resumes and employers to post their jobs.

"We are trying to make it as easy as possible for [disabled veterans] and employers to come together," Corso said. "All positions are paid openings, some carrying benefits."
To post a resume, job seekers must first fill out an online registration. The resume will post on for three months. After three months, job seekers are given the option to repost their resume, to modify it or to leave it inactive.

Corso encourages job seekers not just to wait for employers to find them, but to browse through job openings that companies already have posted.

Current job openings on the Web site include accounting, administration and clerical, business development, information technology, research, restaurant and food service, science, collections, public relations and security. Other than job titles, postings specify geographic location, job category, career level, salary level and job description.

"This Web site has attracted employers that are proactively seeking to hire disabled American veterans," Corso said. "My desire is to find a way to get the word out about these openings to generate more disabled job seekers to fill the slots."

North Korean Provocations Underscore Importance of U.S., South Korean Alliance

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - North Korea's recent provocations underscore the importance of the strong U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance, the top U.S. commander in South Korea said yesterday. "I can assure you that the alliance is fully prepared to respond to any situation as we continue to closely monitor activities in the region," Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces in Korea, told reporters via videoconference from New York.

"In the face of these recent provocations, the alliance stands strong and ready, and in fact is getting stronger every day," he said.

Sharp told reporters during a question-and-answer session he's confident the United States and South Korea are prepared to defend against land or sea attacks and intercept North Korean missiles fired south of the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone.

"The threat as far as on the high end is, of course, the fact that North Korea has so many forces located very close to the demilitarized zone to South Korea," he said. "So we have to be prepared for that type of quick attack, and I am absolutely confident that we are, and that we would be victorious if there was any attack along those lines."

Sharp urged continued international cooperation in getting North Korea to end its nuclear-weapons program.

But noting North Korea's recent short-range missile launches, he said he's "absolutely confident" U.S. and South Korean forces are prepared to intercept North Korean missiles, if necessary.

Strengthening the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance has been one of Sharp's top priorities since taking command just over a year ago. He said it's been the central theme of his U.S. visit, which included meetings with the Council on Foreign Relations, the Korea Society and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Citing positive developments, he said, "I am convinced the next several years will see an even stronger ROK-U.S. alliance."

Sharp reported progress in two other areas he's made priorities: "to be prepared to fight and win" and to improve the quality of life for U.S. servicemembers, Defense Department civilian employees and their families in Korea.

Describing both the challenges and opportunities in Korea, Sharp contrasted North Korea's defiance of the U.N. Security Council and President Barack Obama's recent summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

"As President Obama recently reaffirmed, The Republic of Korea is one of America's closes allies. Our friendship has been forged through a history of shared sacrifice, and it is anchored in our shared democratic values," Sharp said, echoing his sentiments.

Sharp pointed to the alliance's effectiveness during the past 60 years in deterring aggression, maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula and promoting regional security and stability.

But, he noted, "The world, and the region of Northeast Asia, has changed since the ROK-U.S. alliance was forged in the Korean War. And the opportunities and challenges facing it have also changed."

In addition to South Korea's success as a leader in advanced technology and a model of democracy, Sharp said its military has evolved to become "one of the most capable and professional defense organizations in the world."

As a sign of that capability, Sharp is focused on transitioning wartime operational control of South Korean military forces from the United States to the Republic of Korea in April 2012.

"Wartime operational control transition is the next logical step in the natural evolution of the alliance," he said. "The ROK military is trained, professional and will be ready to accept this role in 2012."

After the transition is complete, the United States will remain committed to a long-term presence in Korea and the region, he said.

In support of that commitment, Sharp said he's moving forward with other transformational efforts that will normalize U.S. military tours in Korea and repositioning U.S. forces in Korea into first-class, enduring military facilities.

"The future will see a Republic of Korea-led defense structure with U.S. forces -- operating with the current troop and capability levels -- consolidated in two hubs at Pyongtaek and Daegu," he told reporters. "The majority of those forces will be in Korea on three-year accompanied tours."

Face of Defense: Identical Twins Have Soldiers Seeing Double

By Chuck Cannon
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - Don't blame the soldiers here if you see them do a double take when two of the unit's newest captains pass by. Despite appearances, the soldiers of 10th Mountain Division's 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team are not seeing double -- they've just passed identical twins Army Capt. Darrell Lyles, commander of E Company, 94th BSB, and Army Capt. Derrick Lyles, commander of F Company, 94th BSB.

The brothers pinned on their new bars during a promotion ceremony here July 1.

Army Lt. Col. Anthony Coston, battalion commander, said the only way most soldiers can tell the brothers apart is by looking at their left hands.

"One's married and the other isn't," Coston said. "If Darrell ever stops wearing his wedding band, we're in trouble."

Darrell was a platoon leader in F Company before moving to E Company as commander, while Derrick was a platoon leader in E Company before assuming command of F Company. Coston said even he gets confused at times.

"They both have a habit of calling and saying, 'This is Lieutenant Lyles sir, I've got a question,'" Coston said. "Often, it's midway through the conversation before I figure out which one I'm talking to."

Coston said he's mixed the twins up once -- that he knows of. "It is a little bit of a challenge," he said.

As for the new captains, they both said they enjoy being stationed with their sibling. "This is the best thing that could happen because I've got a great friend that I can bounce things off of and someone to hang out with," Darrell said.

Both soldiers said they were influenced in their career choice by their parents. Their father, Levi Lyles, spent four years on active duty before becoming a minister, while mother Wanda Lyles retired from the National Guard as a master sergeant.

"I remember seeing my mom in uniform," Derrick said. "They both brought a lot of discipline -- if pops said something once, you did it."

Levi Lyles said he and his wife are concerned, but proud, of the choice made by their sons.

"They went in when the war was going on," he said. "I never said anything; they followed their heart, and I just ask God to watch over them every day."

The twins said they were never tempted -- at least not too much -- to fill in for the other, whether it was for class, a date or during a meeting.

"It might have crossed our minds, but we would have never done it," Derrick said. "Although we look alike, our personalities are completely different. We would have been caught."

Darrell's wife, Lisa, said there was one occasion when the brothers attempted to pull the switcheroo on her, but she outsmarted them.

"I had just started dating Darrell and was going to his place to meet his brother," she recalled. "I knocked on the door and I heard Darrell tell his brother, 'You answer the door and tell her you're me.'"

"When I went in, they looked just alike so I didn't sit by either one of them. Then I noticed that Darrell was wearing the same pair of sweatpants I saw him in earlier in the day."

"But if it hadn't been for that, it would have been tough."

(Chuck Cannon works in the Fort Polk public affairs office.)

Gates Praises McKiernan's Leadership at Retirement Ceremony

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates commended Army Gen. David D. McKiernan's leadership at every military level during a retirement ceremony for the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan here today. McKiernan returned the favor, calling Gates "the finest secretary of defense in my lifetime."

Gates replaced McKiernan as the commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the general spent less than a year in Kabul. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal now holds the position.

McKiernan addressed this early in his remarks. "If you had asked me 30 days ago if I would be here at my retirement ceremony, I probably would have said no," the general said. "Make no mistake I was dismayed, disappointed, more than a little embarrassed. But, as so often in life ... I received some candid coaching that said, 'McKiernan, this is not about you. It's about paying respect to your profession and those around who know you.'"

Gates said it was an honor to be asked to participate in the ceremony marking the end of McKiernan's 37-year Army career.

"He has handled everything the Army and his commander in chief have thrown at him with supreme professionalism, intelligence and dedication to our nation and the men and women under his command," the secretary said.

The general commanded the coalition land forces and launched the attack into Iraq in March 2003. Gates praised McKiernan for having the "skill and the will to keep the march to Baghdad on track through 'Fedayeen' attacks and furious sandstorms. [It was] a march that in less than three weeks brought Saddam Hussein's brutal regime to an end."

The general's experience in Iraq served him well in Afghanistan, where he led an international military effort to secure and rebuild the country, the secretary said. McKiernan dedicated himself to recalibrating the International Security Assistance Force's mission to better protect the Afghan people, the secretary said. He also oversaw a major expansion in Afghan security forces and brought about better coordination between military and civilian efforts in the country.

McKiernan made the NATO force better at counterinsurgency by ensuring its members were better trained. He worked diligently to improve cooperation among Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO, Gates said.

McKiernan believed "the Afghan people deserve better than the last 30 years of conflict," Gates said. "While the Taliban and other terrorist groups offer only lies and fears, our continued effort promotes freedom and hope."

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. hosted the retirement review on Summerall Field here and spoke highly of McKiernan's command and operational experience.

Casey praised the general for his service in the Cold War, during Desert Storm, in the Balkans, as the ground commander of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and finally, as the commander of the NATO in Afghanistan.

"I can't think of another officer who has contributed so much and given so much to the men and women of this Army," Casey said.

The general received the Distinguished Service Medal from Casey and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal from Gates. In addition, his wife, Carmen McKiernan, was presented the Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.

McKiernan has said that he and his wife plan on living in the Boston area and on staying involved in the support of soldiers.

Division Commander Blogs for Troops' Feedback

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - When Army Maj. Gen. Michael L. Oates poses a question to his 10th Mountain Division soldiers and their families on his personal blog, the floodgates open in a dialogue once considered unimaginable between junior troops and their commander. About twice a month, Oates goes straight to the source to get the troops' views on everything from the quality of the post's annual Mountainfest festival to a possible revision to the military's ban on homosexuality in the ranks.

A visit to the blog, posted at, reveals that troops are giving Oates exactly what he's looking for: direct, honest communication. It's so honest, in fact, that many responders opt to use just a first name or nickname rather than identifying themselves outright.

Oates is the first, or among the first, division commanders to embrace social media as a way to interact with his soldiers.

It's an effort he started in Iraq when he commanded Multinational Division Center, where he launched an online chat room to improve communication.

Participants logged on anonymously or used their real names and peppered Oates with questions about far-ranging issues. They complained about the Army's stop-loss policy and asked about talk they'd heard of a division headquarters move to southern Iraq, Army promotion and awards policies, and quality-of-life issues such as housing and housing allowances and cost-of-living adjustments at their home station at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Oates "took the time to answer each question carefully and connect with his troops," Army Maj. Daniel Elliott, division deputy public affairs officer said during the deployment.

"To our knowledge, this is the only division where the commanding general manages an active blog and has done an online chat with soldiers," Elliott added.

Oates has taken pains to continue that connection when he and his soldiers redeployed to Fort Drum.

Oates is "always stunned" to hear himself singled out for his innovative approach, he told American Forces Press Service. "I'm just doing what every leader in the Army does, just using a different, new venue."

"The reason I use a blog is because that's where the soldiers are," Oates said. "So you have to fish in that water." He recalled the old adage about asking a robber why he steals from banks, and the tongue-in-cheek retort: "Because that's where the money is."

Social media isn't a silver bullet, but it supports open and honest communication in ways most other venues can't, Oates said. Soldiers, their families and civilian employees feel comfortable responding to a blog, and it generates "a degree of candor you can't get face to face," he said.

"Soldiers aren't intimidated typing onto a screen," he said. "So if you want soldiers to be honest with you, you have to set the conditions for them to be honest."

Oates said he reads every entry on the blog. The most enlightening aren't necessarily what his troops tell him, he said, but what they tell each other.

"It's the cross-talk that's the most useful," he said. "People take ideas, refine them and wire brush them. And through that process, I pick up a lot of useful concepts."

Oates interjects questions and comments on his commander's blog to keep the conversation going.

In late April, shortly after redeploying from Iraq, he asked his troops directly what topics they wanted him to open up for discussion.

Two weeks later, he asked, "Now that we're back and have had time to relax and look back, what is the biggest lesson you took away from this last deployment? (Spouses, too.)"

That question elicited the fewest responses -- six rather than the typical 45 to 100. But the responders provided insights Oates might not have gotten in more traditional forums.

One complained of an unfair awards policy, others of promotions that came too quickly or too easily for those they perceived as unready or unworthy. One spouse urged Oates to ensure that "dwell time" between deployments focuses more on family time. Another expressed gratitude that her spouse was coming home safely.

But perhaps the most insightful came from a responder who identified himself only as "Army Dude."

"From the perspective of someone about to deploy again, I think a few lessons the division learned are at risk of dying on the vine or getting re-learned the hard way," he warned Oates.

The responder offered an assessment of which development projects in Iraq are worthy of funding and which aren't, of problems to be overcome in generating interagency cooperation, and the disconnect between the Army's "quick victory" mind-set and provincial reconstruction teams' long-term development strategy.

But the responder also alerted Oates to "one lesson not learned:" the need to take better care of families.

"The 'train' during our final months is going about as fast as it can possibly run,'" Army Dude wrote.

"Good commanders are able to make the call when enough is enough and pull in the reigns," he continued. "If not, [or if not supported by the higher commander], ultimately it is our families who pay the price. Then we pay when our families have had enough and/or we grow apart to where we no longer know who they are."

Oates said he wants more of this kind of direct communication from his troops, and recognizes his blog as the best way to get it.

"I hate to think of myself being referred to as 'the blogging general,'" he said. "But there's tremendous value in this forum. It's a great way for me to communicate with my soldiers."

Troops Should Apply Soon for Education Benefits, VA Official Says

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

July 15, 2009 - Servicemembers interested in using the new Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits this fall are encouraged to contact the Veterans Affairs Department soon to determine their eligibility, the VA's director of education said. "The reason we opened the door early on May 1 [was] so that we can manage this workload effectively; we expected a significant demand," Keith Wilson told bloggers and online journalists during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable, yesterday.

"We wanted people to come in as quickly as possible because the sooner we can get that eligibility determination out of the way, the better place we are [in] to process the enrollment [certifications] when the schools start to come in with that information," he said.

On average, processing times to verify eligibility can take from a few weeks up to a few months, Wilson said. However, colleges and universities have been ready to receive the enrollment applications for some time.

"We've got students at 6,800 colleges," Wilson said. "They have been engaged with information flow from VA from the beginning."

The VA already is processing fall enrollment forms, he noted.

"The important issue, though, is getting that request into us as soon as possible. We are already at the point now where the fall enrollment is starting to hit us; our high demand period for the year is upon us," he said.

The new Post-9/11 GI Bill is just one of four major education programs the VA offers, Wilson said. People should educate themselves on the different options to find the best fit.

"This is a complex program, but it is complex because of the flexibility it has," Wilson said. "The costs of education vary widely across the country, the types of training that is offered vary widely, and individuals have to be participatory in this process.

"They have to be actively engaged to understand what their benefits do for them or what they don't do for them so that they can maximize the benefits of all of our programs."

In fact, "many individuals are eligible for multiple programs," he said.

Servicemembers' spouses and children may be eligible for benefits, as well.

"Transferability of education benefits has been one of the most requested and largest requests from the field and fleet, particularly from family support and advocacy groups," said Bob Clark, assistant director of Accession Policy for the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, who also attended the roundtable.

To be eligible to transfer benefits to family members, servicemembers must first qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Clark said.

Servicemembers must have qualifying active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, and must be serving in the armed forces either on active duty or in the selective reserves on Aug. 1,, 2009, Clark said. "That means that it doesn't apply to members of the individual ready reserve, those who retired or separated.

"The provision was included in law to recruit and retain the current force, and requires a member [to be] of that force on or after that date the program becomes effective," he continued. "To be eligible, you must have served six years and commit to four additional years."

Clark said servicemembers can verify their family members' eligibility by checking the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

"[They] must be listed in DEERS and must be eligible for benefits," Clark said. "They must be either a spouse or a child who [is] eligible for benefits, which means children under the age of 21 or 23 as a full-time student."

When servicemembers' children use the benefit, they use it the same way as a veteran, Wilson said.

"They would go to our GI Bill Web site [and] apply online," he explained. "After service approval and application to VA, we would issue them a certificate of eligibility."

Students then take the certificate to their school, and their school's VA certifying official will report to the VA the same information they would have reported if the veteran would have been using the benefit, Wilson said.

Children can start using the benefit at 18 years old or after obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, or until the day they turn 26, Clark said.

On the other hand, "A spouse is treated exactly like the sponsor; they can use the benefit while the sponsor is on active duty and for up to 15 years after the sponsor's last separation," he said.

Servicemembers can select the months they have available -- up to 36 months total -- to share with each family member, and select the period of time in whole months, Clark said. Their application will be sent to their service to approve before being sent to the VA database.

For information on the transferability process, servicemembers should contact their service, and for use of the transfer benefit, they should visit the VA Web site, Wilson said.

"This is a program that the VA will be administering on behalf of [the Defense Department]," Wilson said. "[The department] will be determining eligibility, so if the issue involves that of determining the eligibility, the individual will be working with [the department].

"When it comes to the point where the individual is interested in actually using the benefit, they will come to VA," he said.

Wilson and Clark both added that the new Post-9/11 GI Bill is flexible. This flexibility applies to those servicemembers who came into the military under the Montgomery GI Bill era, but think they don't qualify for benefits under the new 9/11 Post GI Bill.

"A person can use all of their Montgomery GI Bill benefits, then come in and apply for Chapter 33 and receive 12 more months of benefits under Chapter 33," Wilson said. "Because they are no longer entitled to the Montgomery GI Bill, they are not giving up that entitlement; they have used up that entitlement".

For questions on eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill visit or contact the call center at 1-888-GIBill-1.

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


United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney, Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $571,114,320 modification to definitize the previously awarded Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-135 Low Rate Initial Production Lot III advance acquisition contract (N00019-08-C-0033) to a cost-plus-incentive-fee/award-fee contract. The modification establishes a final price and fully funds the procurement of seven Air Force Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) Propulsion Systems, one spare main engine, initial spare modules and spare parts; one Royal Netherlands Air Force CTOL propulsion system, one spare main engine, and spare parts; seven U.S. Marine Corps Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) propulsion systems; initial spare modules and spare parts; two United Kingdom Royal Navy STOVL propulsion systems, one spare main engine, initial spare modules and spare parts. This modification also provides for associated special tooling, special test equipment, production non-recurring effort, autonomic logistics planning and management, sustainment effort, program management, and financial and technical data. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (73 percent); Bristol, United Kingdom (17 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in February 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($260,681,734; 46 percent); the U.S. Air Force ($160,279,954; 28 percent); and the Governments of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom ($150,152,632; 26 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Corp., Integrated Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $26,640,000 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0057) for additional operations and maintenance support for the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) Program. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed in August 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $26,640,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Bell Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $24,500,000 ceiling-priced indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity time and material contract for the development and delivery of safety corrective actions, reliability and maintainability improvements, and quick reaction capability improvements in support of V-22 Osprey missions for the Air Force, Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, Pa. (50 percent); Amarillo, Texas (25 percent); and Fort Worth, Texas (25 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-D-0004).

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz., is being awarded $16,941,789 for modification P00171 to a previously awarded firmed-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-C-2052) for the purchase nine combat operations centers capability set III units and 18 duct plenum adapter kits. Work will be performed in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

HDR Architecture, Inc., Chicago, Ill., is being awarded $10,000,000 modification under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N40083-08-D-0065) to exercise Option 1 for architectural and engineering services at Naval Station Great Lakes. The work to be performed provides for partial design packages; total design packages; design-build request for proposal packages; repairs and alterations to existing facilities, collateral equipment lists; project preliminary hazard analysis; obtaining permits and regulatory approvals; surveys (topographic and boundary); soil investigations, comprehensive interior design; contractor submittal review; construction inspection, observation and consultation; operation and maintenance support information; environmental assessments; fire protection; anti-terrorism/force protection evaluation and design; designs for phased construction; and as-built drawing preparation. Some projects will require design in the metric system. Acceptance of project-related work that requires comprehensive asbestos/lead paint surveying and provide a design that will support the removal, demolition, and disposal of these and other hazardous materials in accordance with applicable laws and regulations is required. The current total estimated contract amount after exercise of this option will be $20,000,000. Work will be performed in Great Lakes, Ill., and this option is expected to be completed July 15, 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Midwest, Great Lakes, Ill., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Corp., Electronic Systems, Defensive Systems Division, Rolling Meadows, Ill., is being awarded a $6,008,825 cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-08-G-0012) to perform configuration upgrades to the V22 large aircraft infrared countermeasures, including qualification testing and acceptance test reports. Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and is expected to be completed in June 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.

Labatt Food Service, San Antonio, Texas is being awarded a maximum $45,000,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, prime vendor contract for total food & beverage support for DOD and non-DOD customers in San Antonio, Texas and surrounding area. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The original proposal was Web solicited with three responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is July 14, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM300-08-D-3143).

BAE Systems Information and Electronics, Totowa, N.J. is being awarded a maximum $13,918,311 firm fixed price, sole source contract for spare parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is July 31, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Warner Robins (DSCR-Warren), Robins AFB, Ga. (F09603-03-D-0001-XE02).

Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems, Akron, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum $9,886,017 firm fixed price, sole source contract for aircraft braking systems. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is the Defense Logistics Agency. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is April 1, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond (DSCR), Va. (SPM4AX-07-D-9006).

Caterpillar Inc., Mossville, Ind. is being awarded a maximum $9,178,946 fixed price with economic price adjustment, long term contract for full track loader. Other location of performance is France. Using service is Navy. There were originally three proposals solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is July 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM500-01-D-0059-0328).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments Limited Partnership, Minneapolis, Minn. was awarded on July 14, 2009 a $ 21,007,124 firm-fixed-price contract for the purchase of 5,325 improved vehicle emergency escape windshield kits for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). Work is to be performed in Minneapolis, MN with an estimated completion date of March 30, 2010. One bid solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army TACOM Contracting Center, Warren Mich. is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-C-0524).
U.S. Ordnance, Inc., Reno, Nev. was awarded on July 14, 2009 a $ 6,7500,300 firm-fixed-price contract for procuring 548 each M2 machine guns with a potential for a maximum quantity of 30,678. Work is to be performed in Reno, Nev. with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2012. Six bids solicited with six bids received. TACOM Contracting Center (Rock Island), CCTA-AR-SA, Rock Island, Ill, is the contracting activity (W52H09-09-D-0249).

The Korte Company, St. Louise, Mo. was awarded on July 13, 2009 a $ 23,680,700 firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of an armed forces reserve center complex, Round Rock, Texas. Work is to be performed in Round Rock, Texas. with an estimated completion date of July 01, 2011. Forty-six bids solicited with five bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louis is the contracting activity (W912QR-09-C-0030)

Anthony and Gordon Construction Company, Inc. Knoxville, Tenn. was awarded on July 13, 2009 a $ 14, 864,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of Armed Forces Reserve Center, Amarillo, Texas. Work is to be completed in Amarillo, Texas. with an estimated completion date of July 1, 2011. One Hundred Sixty-nine (169) bids were solicited with nine (9) bids received. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky. is the contracting activity (W912QR-09-C-0054)

Solis Constructors, Inc. Austin Texas. was awarded a $ 14, 900,000 firm-fixed-price contract to design/build a chapel complex and religious education facility at Fort Hood, Texas. Work includes the design of construction site work, utilities and construction of the chapel complex and religious education facility. A 17,900 square foot structure with the chapel accommodating 600 personnel and education facility accommodating 575 personnel. Work is to be performed in Fort Hood, Texas. with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31,2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with eleven (11) bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, Nebraska. is the contracting activity (W9128F-09-C-0021).

GoveConnection, Inc., Rockville, MD was awarded on July 13, 2009 a $ 7,810,002 firm-fixed-price contract for labor, material, and services required providing a wide range of logistics support services for the National Guard Bureau headquarters, 54 states and territories, NASA SEWP IV contract. Work is to be performed in Montgomery, Ala, Golden, Co, Starke, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., Johnston, Iowa, Indianapolis, Ind., Topeka, Kan., Pineville, L.A., Havre De Grace, Md., Augusta, Maine., Lansing, Mich., Little Falls, Minn., Helena, Mont., Raleigh, NC, Devils Lake, N.D., Lincoln, Neb., Santa Fe, N.M., Oklahoma City, Okla., Salem, Ore., Annville, Pa., Columbia, S.C., Nashville, Tenn., Austin, Texas, Draper, Utah, Tacoma, Wash., Camp Douglas, Wis., Buckhannon, W.V., and Guernsey, Wyo.. The estimated completion date if July12, 2010. Fifteen bids were solicited and five bids were received. National Guard Bureau, Arlington, Va. is the contracting activity (W9133L-09-F-0088).

Missile Defense Agency
Aerojet General Corporation of Rancho Cordova, California, is being awarded a modification to exercise Option 1 for $13,718,441 under its cost-plus-fixed-fee contract HQ0006-08-C-0035. This prototype demonstration effort supports improvements to the ballistic missile defense system. Under this option, Aerojet General Corporation will fabricate two divert and attitude control systems and perform a static fire test on one in order to demonstrate the system's technical maturity for potential inclusion in an early intercept capability program. The work will be performed in Rancho Cordova, California. The performance period is from Ju1y 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011. The amount obligated on this action is $7,185,000 using fiscal year 2009 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity (HQ0006-08-C-0035).

Elite Aerospace, Hollywood, Fla., was awarded a $7,000,000 contract to provide a maximum quantity of 250 secondary heat exchangers in support of the F-15 aircraft. At this time all the funds have been obligated. 848th CBSG, Tinker Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. (FA8118-09-D-0034)

Booz Allen Hamilton, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $6,272,271contract to provide the Headquarters Space Command Directorate of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance space intelligence survivability/vulnerability, threat assessment evaluation, integration and insertion. At this time $193,237, has been obligated. 55th Contracting Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base is the contracting activity. (SP0700-03-D-1380)

Universal Understanding, Jacksonville, Fla., was awarded a $6,867,119 contract to exercise an option for continuation of SMARTnet II Network optimization and software support for the United States Air Forces Central. At this time all the funds have been obligated. 20th Contracting Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base is the contracting activity. (FA4803-08-C-0016)

F-22 Debate Reflects Broader Acquisition Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is pressing his point with Congress that the Defense Department doesn't need more than 187 F-22 aircraft, the Pentagon's press secretary told reporters today. If the department is forced to buy more than it needs, other defense needs will suffer, Geoff Morrell said.

Gates will address the issue tomorrow with the Economic Club of Chicago, where he will point to the F-22 issue as an example of the acquisition challenges the department faces and the reforms he is promoting.

"F-22 is just indicative of what we are facing in this department," Morrell said. "We need to rise above narrow, parochial interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our overall national security. We need to change the way we have been conducting business in this department."

The F-22 issue, being debated on Capitol Hill, is a "vitally important issue" to the department, and Gates is making his and President Barack Obama's stand on the issue clear, Morrell said. Obama has threatened to veto any bill that funds more aircraft than the Pentagon has requested.

Nobody debates the aircraft's capability, Morrell said. "This is the best air-to-air fighter that, to date, has ever been built. There is no denying the extraordinary capabilities of this aircraft.

"What is at debate here is how many do you need of that exquisite niche capability for the threats we face, the operations we see ourselves conducting potentially in the future?" he said. "And it is the unanimous belief of all the decision makers in this building that 187 is more than enough to meet the need, particularly when they are used in conjunction with the array of other aircraft we will have at our disposal."

Morrell called the F-22 issue an example of the choices that need to be made to properly fund U.S. defense. "You cannot continue to be all things to all people," he said. "There are tradeoffs that have to be made."

Buying more F-22s than needed will limit the military's ability to buy other weapons systems and equipment, Morrell said. "It has to come out of something else we do vitally need," he said.

Such tradeoffs, he said, will be "painful and detrimental to our overall national security if we are forced to make them."

Officials Won't Ban Tobacco for Deployed Troops, Morrell Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has made it clear he does not plan to restrict tobacco use among troops in war zones, the Pentagon's press secretary said today. Gates has yet to see a report commissioned by the Defense Department that proposes a ban on smoking in the military, Geoff Morrell said.

The National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine completed the study last month, which reportedly recommends strict controls to limit new users from entering the military and to curtail use among those already serving.

The secretary is likely to consider some of the report's recommendations, but none that ban tobacco use among deployed forces, Morrell said.

"[Gates] has been very clear to me up front that one of the things he is not prepared to do is to restrict use of tobacco products in combat zones," he said.

"We are fighting two wars right now using a force that we are demanding more of than we ever have before," Morrell said. "They are under enormous stress and strain, and the secretary does not want to compound that stress by taking away one of the few outlets they may have to relieve that stress."

The secretary shares the concerns of those who prepared the report about the health and well-being of the force and understands the administration's goal of a smoke-free America, Morrell said.

"Obviously, it is not our preference to have a force that is using tobacco products," he said.

Morrell noted the enormous cost to the department in terms of health care. "By some estimates, it costs us nearly a billion dollars a year in tobacco-related health problems," he said.

Gates to Hold Town Hall at Fort Drum, Talk Budget in Chicago

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates begins a two-day trip tomorrow that will take him to Fort Drum, N.Y., home of the 10th Mountain Division, and Chicago. "[At Fort Drum] he will meet with recently deployed brigade commanders and command sergeants major as well as separately with spouses to discuss the stresses and strains of frequent and lengthy deployments," said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell. "The 10th Mountain Division ... I believe, is still the Army's most deployed unit."

Gates also will conduct a town hall-style meeting with hundreds of soldiers on post, Morrell said.

From Fort Drum, the secretary will travel to Chicago where he'll address hundreds of executives at the Economic Club of Chicago.

"He will continue to press for fundamentally reshaping the Pentagon budget and reforming the way the military does business," Morrell said. "As Congress debates the [fiscal 2010] budget here in Washington, the secretary will take his case to the nation, that we must not just change the weapons that we buy, but how we buy them to ensure we win the wars we are waging, [and] prepare for the wars of tomorrow ... rather than continue to rearm for previous ones.

"Secretary Gates will argue that when it comes to defense spending and weapons buying, from missile defense to the F-22, business as usual simply will not do," he added.

On July 17, Gates will travel to just north of Chicago to Naval Station Great Lakes where 50,000 recruits receive their basic training every year. He will observe some of that training and meet with instructors before addressing the 971 newly minted sailors graduating this week.

Gates will arrive back in Washington later that afternoon in time to bid farewell to Army Secretary Pete Geren, who is leaving his post after two years, Morrell said.