Military News

Monday, August 10, 2009

Potential Recruits 'Experience' Army

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 10, 2009 - Army Sgt. Steve Compton remembers the gulp rising in his throat when he stepped inside an Army recruiting station to get information about enlisting. Every head turned his way – except that of the one recruiter Compton felt comfortable enough to approach, and who ultimately enlisted him. Nearly seven years later, Compton is helping to give potential recruits, and anyone else curious about the Army, a less intimidating introduction at the Army Experience Center here.

More than 12,000 people have visited the one-of-a-kind facility since its doors opened almost a year ago at the Franklin Mills Mall near Northeast Philadelphia's city limits.

The center is billed not as a recruiting station, but as an educational facility that offers an array of interactive computer game stations and simulators visitors can enjoy to their hearts' content.

The goal, explained Capt. Jared Auchey, the company commander, is to make the center as inviting and nonthreatening as possible so people want to come in and enjoy the offerings – and learn about the Army in the process.

"The bottom line is, we want people to walk away with a favorable experience about the Army," Auchey said. "If they want to join, that's great. But if they don't, we want them to look back at coming here as a positive experience."

Unlike the bland recruiting station Compton remembers, the Army Experience Center beckons visitors inside. It's situated within a traditional shopping mall, just across from a restaurant that features interactive video games and an indoor skateboard park.

Inviting sofas and chairs positioned around wide-screen TVs beckon mall-weary feet inside the glass-front panels. A boutique within the center sells Army T-shirts, running shorts and other paraphernalia. A snack bar sells treats.

The 23 soldiers who man the center wear Army polo shirts and khaki pants rather than uniforms, and they're quick to note they have no recruiting quotas to fill. All were hand-picked for the job, and they're happy to share their own Army experiences or answer questions about Army life or opportunities with anyone who asks.

But they're also happy to let visitors stroll through on their own, checking out interactive displays that show where Army bases are located worldwide, what kinds of jobs soldiers perform and how much they get paid.

But the most popular attractions at the Army Experience Center are the rows of X-Box 360 video game consoles that feature Army-made as well as off-the-shelf computer games.

Other big draws are life-size simulators that replicate flying a UH-60 Black Hawk or AH-64 Apache helicopter or driving a Humvee as part of a convoy delivering humanitarian supplies in a combat zone.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Baggett, a soldier of seven years who jumped at the opportunity to be assigned to the Army Experience Center, calls these offerings "the wow factor."

"What we have here is a really high-tech way to show the young Americans who visit here there's a lot more to the Army than they think," he said.

As the games and simulations put participants through realistic combat scenarios, they also introduce key Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

For example, after Christopher Brooks and his wife, Jennifer, went through a Black Hawk simulation, Conway talked them through not only how they performed against the enemy, but also how they communicated and worked together as a team.

Brooks, a former soldier, had a leg up on most visitors, but his wife said she learned a lot through the exercise.

"We don't want people to come in here thinking that it's all about shooting things up," Auchey explained. "There's a lot more than that to being in the Army, and that's what we want people to understand after visiting here. We want them to have a taste of what it's like to be a soldier."

The experience helps to clear up a lot of misconceptions about the Army in this historically Navy city that's never quite lived up to its recruiting potential.

"All that a lot of the people who come in here know is what they've seen in the Hollywood movies," Compton said. "This helps change that perspective. This is valuable face time for the Army."

Seventeen-year-old Joseph Staszak gets a lot of that face time, spending six to seven hours playing computer games at the center almost every day. "I don't have an X-box at home, and here I can play for free," he said.

Staszak works part-time in a hospital cafeteria, but said he plans to join the Army as soon as he undergoes the knee surgery he needs to enlist.

"Going into the Army is a way for me to go to college, and it offers great benefits," he said, pausing the action in a video game that takes the player through Army basic training. "And coming here is a good way to learn about all that."

Not all the visitors who hang out at the center aspire to be soldiers, but Auckey said that's fine with him. Even those who choose not to join the Army will be better informed about it, and more likely to share their positive impressions with others, he said.

Thirteen-year-old Sean Yaffee, for example, doesn't see himself joining the military. But he's becoming another regular at the center, where he can play the same computer games he has at home, but in the company of his buddies.

Yaffee said he's learned a lot about the Army at the center. "It just tells you about the Army experience, but it doesn't pressure you," he said. "I'm really just here to have a good time."

Sgt. 1st Class Monica Godfrey, who has spent 10 of her 18 Army years as a recruiter, likes the center's no-pressure approach, and what it communicates about the Army. Visitors can experience some of the concepts she said are simply too hard to put into words in a traditional recruiting office.

"The Army is not all about combat," she said. "I also want people to experience the love and companionship, the esprit de corps and teamwork that's all part of being in the Army.

"We want people to understand that being a soldier means someone always has your back," she added, "and that we take care of each other."

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 10, 2009

NAVY
Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc., Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $28,000,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2100) for planned and growth supplemental work for the accomplishment of the fiscal year 2008 Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA) of USS Enterprise (CVN 65). The CVN 65 FY08 EDSRA is a ship depot availability of approximately 16-month duration. EDSRAs are similar to overhauls in that they restore the ship, including all subsystems that affect combat capability and safety, to established performance standards. Additionally, an EDSRA provides an opportunity to perform hull inspections and recoating, and other maintenance related evolutions below the waterline that cannot be accomplished while the ship is waterborne. The EDSRA provides sufficient time to perform more extensive repairs and testing than is possible during an Extended Selected Restricted Availability. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be completed by December 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $28,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev., is being awarded a $26,257,400 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-6306) to exercise an option for long lead material for 1,300 dismounted joint counter radio-controlled improvised explosive device electronic warfare (JCREW) systems. This contract is for the procurement and support of JCREW systems to be used by forces in each of the military services of the Central Command Area of Responsibility. Work will be performed in Sparks, Nev. (90 percent) and Rancho Cordova, Calif. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Consigli Construction Co., Inc., Milford, Mass., is being awarded $19,270,355 for firm-fixed price task order #0002 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N40085-08-D-2112) for construction of a Fitness Center at Naval Station Newport. The work to be performed provides for the construction of a new facility to replace the existing gymnasium which is located in Building #109 and the existing fitness-plus facility located in Building #355. Buildings #109 and #355 will be demolished as part of this contract. In addition, this contract constructs a lighted softball field, a 3-court tennis facility, and installs field lighting to the existing track/soccer/football field. Construction of the softball field will require demolition of Building #144. Site work and other incidental related work is also included in this contract. Anti-terrorism Force Protection and sustainable design principles will be integrated into the design and construction. Work will be performed in Newport, R.I., and is expected to be completed by August 2011. The contract also contains one unexercised option, which if exercised would increase the cumulative contract value to $20,499,732. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Five proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Seaward Marine Services, Inc., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $10,076,792 fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for waterborne hull cleaning and associated services to support the director of ocean engineering, supervisor of salvage and diving. The primary purpose of this contract is to provide hull cleaning, hull inspection and other related ship husbandry services on the underwater portion of Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Military Sealift Command ships and craft. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (52 percent); Honolulu (Pearl Harbor), Hawaii (30 percent); Yokosuka, Japan (10 percent); Singapore (3 percent); and Guam (5 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $50,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the government-wide Point of Entry (GPE) website, with two proposals received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-D-4219).

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $7,374,953 definitization modification to previously awarded letter contract (N00024-08-C-5122) for the integration of complex war-fighting improvements as the platform system engineering agent for the ship self defense system. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (90 percent); Tewksbury, Mass. (2.5 percent); Portsmouth, R.I. (2.5 percent); St. Petersburg, Fla. (2.5 percent); and Tucson, Ariz. (2.5 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $394,546 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Navistar Defense LLC, Warrenville, Ill., is being awarded a $7,074,494 firm fixed priced modification under contract (M67854-07-D-5032) delivery order #0010 for the procurement of engineering change proposals and tire chains in support of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) MaxxPro Dash vehicles. Work will be performed in West Point, Miss., and work is expected to be completed by the end of December 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The base contract was competitively awarded, and the new requirements are sole source additions to the contract. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $7,046,245 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive/award-fee contract (N00019-07-C-0097) for the upgrade of six U.S. Air Force and six U.S. Marine Corp Low Rate Initial Production II (LRIP II) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft from the Block 0.5 to the Block 1.0 configuration. Work will be performed Fort Worth, Texas (35 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Orlando, Fla. (10 percent); Nashua, N.H. (5 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2011. 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.

Oceaneering International, Inc., Marine Services Division, Chesapeake, Va., is being awarded a $6,731,538 fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for waterborne hull cleaning and associated services to support the director of pcean engineering, supervisor of salvage and diving. The primary purpose of this contract is to provide hull cleaning, hull inspection and other related ship husbandry services on the underwater portion of Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Military Sealift Command ships and craft. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $33,788,897. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va. (54 percent); Mayport, Fla. (24 percent); Ingleside, Texas (17 percent); and New London, Conn. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $50,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Government-wide Point of Entry (GPE) website, with two proposals received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-D-4220).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $6,172,565 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive/award-fee contract (N00019-06-C-0291) for the upgrade of two U.S. Air Force Low Rate Initial Production I (LRIP I) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft from the Block 0.5 to the Block 1.0 configuration. Work will be performed Fort Worth, Texas (35 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Orlando, Fla. (10 percent); Nashua, N.H. (5 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2011. 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.

U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND
IBM Global Business Services of Bethesda, Md., is being awarded a five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with a ceiling of $20,000,000. This requirement is for Special Operations Resource Business Information System, which will provide an enterprise business systems tool for U.S. Special Operations Command to facilitate planning, programming, budgeting, execution, and program information reporting. The ordering period will be completed in August 2014. The contract number is H92222-09-D-0048.

AIR FORCE
Wyle Laboratories, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $14,492,743 contract for the Research Information Analysis Center to research, test, develop, and deliver Integration Requirements Reports, Systems Requirements Reports, Inventory Effectiveness Analysis Report, and Training Records Reports for the Forecasting Management Productivity Tool Analysis Program. At this time, $72,464 has been obligated. 55th Contracting Squadron, Offutt, Neb., is the contracting activity. (HC1047-05-D-4005)

UNITED STATES TRANSPORTATION COMMAND
TransAtlantic Lines LLC of Greenwich, Conn., T 06830-5751, is being awarded a $5,737,108 fixed-price requirements contract for dedicated sealift services to transport lawful cargo by U.S. flag ships between Jacksonville, Fla., and the terminal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This contract is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2012. Orders placed against this contract will be funded at the time the cargo is booked. This contract was a 100 percent small business set aside acquisition with two bids received. The contracting activity is United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. 62225 (HTC711-09-D-0047).
Defense Logistics Agency

Solutions Lucid Group LLC.*, Oklahoma City, Okla., is being awarded a maximum $5,101,800 fixed price with economic price adjustment modification type contract for fuel. Other location of performance is McAlester, Okla. Using service is Air Force. There were originally 48 proposals solicited with 48 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is June 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. (SP0600-09-D-4539).

Triune Associates**, Dallas, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $42,224,842 fixed price with economic price adjustment type contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are various locations in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. Using services are Army and Air Force. There were originally 48 proposals solicited with 48 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is June 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. (SP0600-09-D-4542)

Summer Recruiting Remains Strong Across Services

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 10, 2009 - July was a boom month for military recruiting, with more than 15,000 young men and women entering the active-duty force, defense officials reported today. July recruiting and retention numbers released today show across-the-board successes, with a new high school graduation class among the recruitment-age population seeking career opportunities.

"In tougher economic times, youth are simply more willing to discuss options with recruiters," said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy. "And when they learn the facts, they see the advantages."

All four services met or exceeded their July active-duty recruiting goals, officials reported. Meanwhile, the reserve components signed on almost 8,000 new members, with six components meeting or exceeding their monthly goals.

Only the Army National Guard and Air National Guard fell short of their initial July projections. Officials called this an intentional measure designed to help them manage their end strength, because they're already on track to meet their annual goals.

The ground forces demonstrated the strongest recruiting showings. The Army, with 6,199 active-duty accessions, topped its July goal by 2 percent. The Marine Corps exceeded its active-duty goal by 15 percent, with 3,451 new members.

Both services showed solid successes in reserve-component recruiting, too. The Army Reserve signed on 1,628 soldiers, 123 percent of its monthly goal. The Marine Corps recruited 1,135 members -- 201 percent of its goal.

The Army Guard added 2,562 members to its ranks, and is on a steady track to meet its annual goals, officials said.

Meanwhile, both the Navy and Air Force met their July active-duty goals, signing on 3,421 and 2,654 new members, respectively.

Both services' reserve components met their July goals, with 688 accessions in the Navy Reserve and 907 in the Air Force Reserve.

AFPS Blog: Obama Spends Birthday Focused on Vets

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 10, 2009 - President Barack Obama strode into the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Aug. 4, uttering apologies for being late as he approached the four military journalists to shake their hands and thank them for coming to talk about veterans' issues.
It was the president's birthday, and the fact hadn't been lost at 1600 Pennsylvania venue. Reporters filing through the security gate passed a group of revelers in pointy party hats assembled outside the fence line. They called out birthday greetings to TV cameras, hoisting a larger-than-life image of the president high under the oppressive afternoon sun.

Inside the White House, Obama had a full schedule of events, including lunch with the Senate Democratic caucus just before his session with me and three other military journalists.

Each session, he explained as he sat across from the reporters with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at his side, had included birthday festivities that he hadn't known about and hadn't factored into his schedule.

It was shaping up to be a good birthday, he reflected. His Secret Service agents had presented him with a fishing rod. His military aides gave him a display for his military coin collection.

"I'm making out," he said with a smile. "I want to see what Michelle gives me."

The pleasantries exchanged and his visitors now at ease, the president explained why he'd called the session to talk about what his administration is doing to support veterans.

Congress is about to take its summer recess and several major veterans conventions are coming up within the next month. "And we think we've got a great story to tell about where we are moving when it comes to how we treat our men and women who served in the United States armed forces," he said.

Obama praised troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, forming "as experienced and as battle-hardened a group of veterans as we've seen in a generation, basically.

"They have performed with extraordinary valor," he said, only to return home to a weakened economy brought on by the financial crisis.

So rather than just "tinker around the edges" to improve VA services for them, Obama said, he opted to "take a forceful series of steps to make sure that the VA was equipped to provide the services that our veterans so richly deserve."

That's the thinking behind the fiscal 2010 VA budget, with its largest funding increase in 30 years, he said. The additional $25 billion over the next five years will go a long way: "more robust" treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, new VA clinics in rural areas to make services more accessible, more claims adjudicators to reduce backlogs.

Obama calls passage of the budget a big success that will enable these and other changes needed at VA to occur. They'll put VA on "a much firmer footing, moving forward," he said. "The key now is implementation, execution.

For that to happen, he said, he's counting on Shinseki to make VA "a much more customer-friendly operation oriented to bringing people in, not keeping them out, and toward giving them the services they need in a cost-efficient way.

Obama ran down a litany of initiatives under way, and took questions on a broad range of other VA issues. Although all four of us reporters had notes in front of us on the table, the president had none. Shinseki filled in some of the gaps, but there weren't many.

The clock was ticking and the staff behind Obama, sitting along a flag-filled wall, was getting nervous. They were, again, behind schedule.

Obama remained at ease, but deliberated a bit less as he responded to the last two questions.

Overall, he said, he's pretty satisfied with the direction things are going as he works to make good on his campaign promises to do right by America's veterans.

"Of all the things we've accomplished over the first seven months of my administration, one of the things I'm most proud of is that I really believe we have been true to our commitment to our veterans," he said. "The promises that I made during the campaign, we have followed through on. And it will provide tangible, concrete benefits to our veterans for years to come."

The interview was now over, the tape recorders off, and suddenly Obama was preparing to dash off to his next appointment -- again, behind schedule.

Hands were shaken and thank-yous exchanged, along with a fresh round of "happy birthdays." The president paused before returning to the Oval Office across the hallway, asking the reporters, "Tell all your readership I appreciate what they do for our country every day."