Military News

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pentagon Officials Say: 'We Want to Hear from You'

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - Defense officials at the Pentagon have redesigned the Defense Department Web site to use social networking tools to engage the American public -- particularly 18- to 24-year-olds. "We need to embrace these technologies. We need to use them because that's what the young people use these days. We need to communicate with them," said Price Floyd, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

People between the ages of 18 and 24 are much more likely to communicate using Twitter and Facebook than they are traditional communication tools, Floyd told the American Forces Press Service, the Pentagon Channel and DoDLive Blog Talk Radio.

"If we just stick to the traditional ways of communicating, we leave out a huge portion of society," he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recognizes both the need for engagement with the American people and the value of these new tools, Floyd noted.

"The secretary wanted to figure out ways to engage more with the public, and one of the ways you can do that is through your Web site," he said. So defense public affairs officials redesigned the Defense Department's home page, launching Defense.gov on Aug. 17.

The department's former home page DefenseLINK.mil focused on providing news and information, Floyd said. The new site, Defense.gov, will emphasize personal, two-way communication.

DefenseLINK was a name more suited for an internal Web site, an intranet, as opposed to an Internet site, he added. "Most people on the outside wouldn't have guessed that DefenseLink was the Web site for the Defense Department."

"Instead of trying to figure out one new name, we've taken several domain names which all lead you to the same place – DoD.gov, Defense.gov and Defense.mil, and Pentagon.gov and Pentagon.mil," he said. "This puts the site more in line with the other departments in the government -- State.gov, Whitehouse.gov. -- and it's a more intuitive name to search for."

Defense public affairs officials used the newly interactive White House Web site as a model. Just as Whitehouse.gov asks people to give their policy recommendations to the President, the new Defense site will seek people's input on defense policies and issues, thus giving the site more credibility, according to Floyd.

"We do live in a democracy and that feedback from people is important to know what they're thinking, what they believe is important," he said. "It's their national security policy, it's not ours. It's theirs. The president was elected and he appointed people here at the Defense Department to lead, but it starts with the American people."

"I think we might be surprised by the issues and policies that are important to the American people, versus what we think are important," he added.

A new feature on Defense.gov will enable people to pose questions for the defense secretary, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top defense and military officials.

"You can type in what you want to ask the secretary," Floyd explained. "We'll leave that open for several weeks. Once it's done, people can then go in and vote on questions they want to have asked. They can vote on more than one, and the software will enable us to determine the top five questions which the secretary has to answer.

"There will also be a place where you'll be able to type in policy initiatives that are important to you," Floyd continued. "After several weeks, people will be able to come back and vote on the policy initiatives that are most important to them."

The new site also will link to the Defense Department's Facebook and Twitter sites. People can post comments and these engagement tools also will help people in the Department see and hear what the public regards as important.

Floyd said the goal is to encourage commanders to launch their own social networking sites, "so there's not just one DoD Twitter site, or one Facebook site the military uses, there are hundreds, thousands."

U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, European Command and Southern Command, for example, have Facebook sites, and there are numerous sites within each of these commands.

"Here in the Pentagon, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has his own Twitter site. I have a Twitter site," he said.

He stressed, however, that operational security remains a concern, and cautioned people to be careful when posting information on these sites. The security of the social networking sites is a major concern to Strategic Command, he noted, and the Marine Corps has banned the use of social networking on official computers.

Recognizing that there are risks involved, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III has tasked the department's chief information officer to conduct a short-fused study. A report is due to the deputy on Aug. 31 and a policy is to be announced by the end of September.

Floyd said officials will look at both the threats and opportunities social networking sites hold for the department. The study will allow defense officials to make a decision on how to move forward and implement a uniform, department-wide policy for dealing with social network sites.

Floyd hopes the number of visits to Defense.gov will increase beyond DefenseLINK's two million visits a month.

"Unlike most Web sites, more people over 45 go to DefenseLINK than under 45," he said. "This was another reason why we needed to change the Web site and rebrand it was to reach that younger audience. But we also don't want to lose the audience we have now."

The American Forces Press Service news and feature articles, photographs and special reports currently on DefenseLINK will continue to be available as an internal page on Defense.gov.

Floyd's message to the American public: "I encourage everyone to go to the new Web site to check it out. If you see things we can improve, please let me know. Feel free to reach out to me on my Twitter site which is on there and give me your comments. Don't just let me know what you think needs to be improved, but let me know what you think is working really well and what you like."

Face of Defense: Chaplain Brings Unique Perspective

By Melissa Bower
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - Ten years ago, when he was a battalion commander at Fort Sill, Okla., then–Army Col. Jim Davis received a call that the Army had a new chaplain for his soldiers -- and he was Muslim. The 400 soldiers with 6th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery, although mostly Christian, trusted Chaplain Dawud Agbere right away, said Davis, now an assistant professor for the Center for Army Tactics.

"I got a chaplain that soldiers loved to go and talk to," Davis said. "He's just an outgoing individual, and his smile was just infectious."

Davis said Agbere helped him understand the importance of having an Army chaplain for his soldiers. While at Fort Sill, he and Agbere developed a religious program for the battalion from scratch.

"At the time, I was very unfamiliar with the Muslim religion, like most Americans, but I wanted someone to serve the spiritual wellness needs of my soldiers," Davis said.

Agbere, one of six active-duty Muslim chaplains in the Army, has an impressive resume. He has two bachelor's degrees, a master's degree in Islamic studies, and is a doctoral candidate for a ministry degree from Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. He also speaks English, Arabic and four African languages.

Agbere was born and raised in a Muslim family in Ghana, West Africa. His father was a truck driver for the military there, and Agbere said, through his father's work, he grew to respect soldiers.

Agbere and his wife, Meimunatu, also from Ghana, have five children. He came to the United States to teach high school in 1995. "I showed up in New York City and took up a high school teaching job," he said. "Then I found myself in the middle of a cultural shock."

While growing up in Africa, Agbere said, he learned discipline and respect, but didn't find that among many of his students. One day, he came across an ad in a newspaper for government jobs. The jobs were with the U.S. Navy.

He enlisted to serve on a Navy ship, but grew interested in the Army when he discovered he could be commissioned as an officer there. He was granted a discharge from the Navy so he could join the Army.

Agbere was commissioned aboard a Navy ship May 23, 1997, an event covered by the local press.

Agbere's assignments include Fort Sill, Okla.; Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; and a deployment to Iraq with the 31st Combat Support Hospital.

As a chaplain in a Baghdad hospital from 2004 to 2005, Agbere ministered not only to Muslim soldiers, but to Iraqis as well.

"It's a very interesting dynamic in America," he said. "We are doing really well to overcome hearts and minds. Iraqis and Afghans both have misperceptions [about U.S. soldiers]."

Agbere said he believes actions will help create more accurate opinions about Americans.

"If I'm an Iraqi citizen and all I see is shooting, we can't convince them," he said. "But the moment they come in contact with us, they see a different thing."

While working in the Baghdad hospital, Agbere recalls a U.S. Army nurse who helped save the life of an Iraqi civilian. "What he did not know was that this patient was a former Iraqi officer, and this officer was so impressed with this nurse," Agbere said.

Agbere said the Iraqi officer told him, "I want you to thank this nurse for me. I was really grateful for what he did, because if he had been in my position, I would have killed him."

Davis said he read about Agbere's work in Iraq in a news story shortly before he was slated to deploy to Iraq.

"Chaplain Agbere brought a perspective to his unit like no other," Davis said. "As we send units into Iraq and Afghanistan, we do cultural awareness training, but he understands it far better than anybody."

Maj. Agbere is beginning his intermediate level education at the Command and General Staff College here this month, and Davis predicted success for him.

"He's got multiple deployments under his belt, and because he is a chaplain, it helps the other 15 members of his group have a good understanding of what they can use a chaplain for," Davis said.

When Agbere served at Fort Sill, Davis said, he was impressed with how the chaplain helped people solve problems.

"We all have bad days, but every time I had a bad day, he would come in with that smile and you just felt better," he said.

(Melissa Bower serves in the Fort Leavenworth, Kan., public affairs office.)

Brazil Conspired with U.S. to Overthrow Allende (Updated)

Declassified U.S. Documents Show Richard Nixon and Brazilian President Emilio Medici Discussed Coordinated Intervention in Chile, Cuba, and other Latin American nations "to prevent new Allendes and Castros"

Secret Back Channel established between Presidents

Brazilian General Accused U.S. of Asking Brazil to "do its dirty work"

For more information contact: Peter Kornbluh - 202/994-7000

http://www.nsarchive.org

Washington, DC, August 16, 2009 - In December 1971, President Richard Nixon and Brazilian President Emilio Garrastazu Medici discussed Brazil's role in efforts to overthrow the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile, formerly Top Secret records posted by the National Security Archive today reveal. According to a declassified memorandum of conversation, Nixon asked Medici whether the Chilean military was capable of overthrowing Allende. "He felt that they were," Medici replied, "and made clear that Brazil was working toward this end."

The document was the subject of a story in today's New York Times ["Memos Show Nixon's Bid to Enlist Brazil in a Coup" - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/world/americas/17chile.html?_r=1&ref=world ]

According to the Top Secret "memcon" of the December 9, 1971, Oval Office meeting, Nixon offered his approval and support for Brazil's intervention in Chile. "The President said that it was very important that Brazil and the United States work closely in this field. We could not take direction but if the Brazilians felt that there was something we could do to be helpful in this area, he would like President Medici to let him know. If money were required or other discreet aid, we might be able to make it available," Nixon stated. "This should be held in the greatest confidence."

The U.S. and Brazil, Nixon told Medici, "must try and prevent new Allendes and Castros and try where possible to reverse these trends."

During the same meeting, President Medici asked Nixon if "we" should be supporting Cuban exiles who "had forces and could overthrow Castro's regime." Nixon responded that "we should, as long as we did not push them into doing something that we could not support, and as long as our hand did not appear."

The documents were declassified in July as part of the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

The memcon records Nixon telling Medici that he "hoped we could cooperate closely, as there were many things that Brazil as a South American country could do that the U.S. could not." Indeed, the documentation reveals that Nixon believed that a special relationship with Brazil was so important that he proposed a secret back-channel between the two presidents "as a means of communicating directly outside of normal diplomatic channels." M├ędici named his private advisor and foreign minister Gibson Barbosa as his back-channel representative, but told Nixon that for "extremely private and delicate matters" Brazil would use Col. Manso Netto. Nixon named Kissinger as his representative for the special back channel.

Communications between Nixon and Medici using the special back-channel remain secret.

Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive's Chile and Brazil projects, noted that "a hidden chapter of collaborative intervention to overthrow the government of Chile" was now emerging from the declassified documentation. "Brazil's archives are the missing link," he said, calling on President Ignacio Lula da Silva to open Brazil's military records on the past. "The full history of intervention in South America in the 1970s cannot be told without access to Brazilian documents."

Please visit the National Security Archive Web site for more information.

http://www.nsarchive.org

Guardsmen Provide Health, Vet Care in Alaska

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - Medical personnel from the Army and Air National Guard and Coast Guard traveled 6,600 miles in three days to visit three Alaska communities as part of Operation Arctic Crossroads. The three services, along with active-duty Air Force personnel, will provide medical, dental and optometry services to residents of nine remote villages in the state through Aug. 24.

Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Dixon Christian treated more than 40 patients during outreach efforts in the communities of Kivalina, Koyuk and Wales. Air Force Lt. Col. Huey Frye, an optometrist from the Tennessee Air National Guard's 118th Medical Group, saw more than 45 patients; Air Force Maj. Mike Lewis of the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Medical Group and Air Force Capt. Rhonda Ellison of the Alabama Air National Guard's 117th Medical Group – both veterinarians -- gave rabies shots and other vaccinations to more than 115 animals.

"You could tell that the people really loved their pets," Ellison said. "The people were very receptive to our efforts and would love for us to return in the future."

On the North Slope, veterinarians have treated more than 20 animals in Barrow and Wainwright.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary also has reached out within the communities, helping to promote water safety with an emphasis on the "Kids Don't Float" campaign, which loans life jackets for children to use while at sea.

A forward operating location has been established here. Four MH/HH-60 helicopters and crews from the Army and Air National Guard and the Coast Guard are providing air transportation and logistics throughout the state.

Operation Arctic Crossroads is an effort to integrate local knowledge with military expertise to meet the many challenges of Arctic operations.

(From a Coast Guard Atlantic Area news release.)

Commentary: Remembering Pentagon Spokesman Ken Bacon

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - American Forces Press Service has lost a dear friend, a staunch supporter who believed the nation's troops had the same "need to know" about their defense secretary as the commercial press. Ken Bacon, 64, who served as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs during the Clinton administration, died of skin cancer Aug. 15, at his summer home on Block Island, R.I.

Bacon changed the face of military journalism in 1994, when he invited American Forces Press Service to become part of the Pentagon press corps that traveled the world with then-Defense Secretary William J. Perry. Bacon's invitation opened the door to the department's in-house news team, giving AFPS unprecedented access to the secretary and other senior defense leaders.

Until then, only a handful of commercial media accompanied Bacon and the defense secretary on their travels to meet with foreign defense officials and deployed U.S. forces. Bacon's support enabled AFPS to become a true news service, providing current coverage of international events to nearly 1,000 military newspapers.

I was the first AFPS reporter to travel as part of the secretary's press corps. After my first few trips, Bacon arranged for me to show clippings of the AFPS stories I'd written to the secretary during a long flight to Europe. As Perry flipped through the pages of news clips, he commented, "I always wondered how people in the military knew so much about me and my policies."

AFPS gave the secretary a direct link to the troops and, as a result, he became far more than the top photo in the military chain of command. As he traveled to 67 countries, logging more than 700,000 miles over the next three years, people throughout the military community learned of the secretary's troop visits, decisions and priorities.

"Every [private first class] knows my name because of American Forces Press Service," Perry said following his farewell ceremony on Fort Myer, Va., in 1997.

Traveling with the defense secretary has enabled AFPS to cover U.S. troop deployments in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The press service has broadened its perspective from the internal aspects of military life to an expanded view of combat operations, military ties with partners and allies, and the humanitarian efforts of U.S. forces around the globe.

An AFPS reporter was on board in 1996 when Perry traveled to Pervomaysk, Ukraine, to join Russian Defense Minister Gen. Pavel Grachev and Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Shmarov in destroying a Soviet missile silo to mark the beginning of a nuclear-free age in the former Soviet state.

AFPS also was there in 2000 when William S. Cohen became the first defense secretary to visit Vietnam since Melvin Laird in 1971. And AFPS was there in 2003 when Donald Rumsfeld flew into Iraq on an MC-130 from the Air Force's 919th Special Operations Wing less than a month after the fall of Baghdad.

I'm now the director of AFPS and I no longer travel to far-off lands. Instead, AFPS writers Jim Garamone, Donna Miles, Gerry Gilmore, Fred Baker, Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Carden and Samantha Quigley pack their bags and head to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to catch their flights with the defense secretary and other defense leaders.

Jim Garamone was the first AFPS reporter to become a permanent member of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff traveling crew when Air Force Gen. Richard Myer and later Marine Gen. Peter Pace invited AFPS along. AFPS currently travels throughout the United States and overseas with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and is seeking an invitation to travel with Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III.

Bacon served as our guide and mentor. He opened the door and set a precedent that lives on, and today, hundreds of thousands of people in and outside of the military read AFPS articles each week. He saw the value of having AFPS accurately chronicle the secretary's activities and remarks, as well as the many-faceted operations conducted by the U.S. military.

Thanks to Bacon's vision and high regard for the nation's men and women in uniform, the military community has been kept well-informed. The Internet has further expanded the AFPS audience. On behalf of all of us who tell the military's story from the inside, and on behalf of all who read AFPS, we are eternally grateful for his leadership and his commitment to the precepts of journalism.

Perpetual Technologies Tapped for Employer-Support Award

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - Defense officials have chosen Perpetual Technologies Inc. to receive the department's employer-support award for providing exceptional financial and emotional support to its employees who deploy as National Guard or Reserve members. PTI will receive the Freedom Award along with 14 other companies in a ceremony here next month. The Freedom Award, instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, recognizes exceptional support from the employer community.

"PTI has been very supportive of my military career over the years, and has fully supported my annual training as well as other National Guard conferences," said Chris Zeis, a PTI employee who is now serving in Afghanistan's Khost province as a sergeant first class in the Army National Guard.

Zeis, who nominated the Indianapolis-based PTI for the Freedom Award, said when he learned of his upcoming deployment, PTI leadership simply said: "We will take care of you."

"Without their support and financial commitment, I might not have taken this deployment and would have retired from the National Guard altogether," he said.

Ten percent of the veteran-owned company's payroll consists of current or former Guard and Reserve members. For these employees, PTI, which provides management and consulting services, offers differential pay between employees' military pay and PTI's salary during deployments.

In the past, PTI has paid a differential of up to $40,000, said Ted Utley, PTI's human resources manager. The differential pay is available for each of the dozen or so National Guard or Reserve members on staff if they are called up to active duty.

"We've got to take care of the person and make their life as minimally interrupted as possible. We can't stop the fact that he's in Afghanistan, or Iraq or Kosovo for a year," Utley said. "But we can make it so the long-term financial impact is minimized.

"Plus, it's better than free coffee!" Utley said of the salary accommodation. "Some things are bigger than just profits -- like defending our nation."

Additionally, the company regularly ships care packages to deployed employees and invites their family members to company functions throughout the year. The company sends birthday cards to family members of deployed employees that include a $5 bill for children and a $25 gift certificate for spouses.

"When someone's deployed, we include the families in our newsletters [and send them] to their home address, invite them to company cookouts we have once or twice a month," Utley said. "We encourage the families to show up, bring the kids, and hang out with us."

Utley said PTI modeled its family outreach efforts on similar programs already within the military. "We kind of just borrowed from their handbook, which says, 'Don't forget the people back home.'"

But the support of their military-civilian staff members does not stop with the mission. Upon returning from mobilization, PTI recognizes military members at public events and prominently displays yellow ribbons throughout the company's facilities.

The company contributes to the military in other ways too, including annual support of the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund and sponsorship of a military charitable golf outing in Indianapolis.

The Freedom Award recognizes U.S. employers that rise above the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. PTI previously received the ESGR Pro Patria Award for its support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

Zeis said he was excited when he learned that his nomination had culminated in PTI receiving the Freedom Award.

"This award and the caliber of support it requires clearly illustrates the character and the identity of a company," he said. "I do look very forward to rejoining the PTI team when I get home."

Yellow Ribbon Program Provides Support Services

By Army Lt. Col. Matt Leonard
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - The Yellow Ribbon Program is "off and running," said the program's deputy executive director, James "Scotty" Scott. The program's goal is to prepare servicemembers and their families for mobilization, sustain families during mobilization, and reintegrate soldiers with their families, communities and employers upon redeployment.

During the first nine months of fiscal 2009, reserve components have hosted more than 1,367 Yellow Ribbon events across the 54 U.S. states and territories. Through these events, more than 133,000 reservists and their family members have received valuable training and information about support services available to them before, during and after mobilization.

In addition to helping families understand their benefits and entitlements as they transition in and out of active-duty status, the program also links people to services such as referrals and counseling through Military OneSource, Veterans Affairs Vet Centers, Tricare, and other state and local programs.

Ultimately, deployment support and military family programs are the responsibility of each unit commander. However, the program assists commanders by actively surveying the best practices from the military services, and combining those to form a joint program that servicemembers and their families can rely on for assistance and support regardless of service, component or location.

"The Yellow Ribbon Program represents an increasingly valuable resource that commanders are able to integrate into their overall deployment support, readiness and support program," said Dennis M. McCarthy, the assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs.

Meanwhile, the newly formed Yellow Ribbon Advisory Board has conducted its second meeting in the Pentagon. In addition to Defense Department representatives, leaders from the reserve components and the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs were in attendance.

The advisory board's mission is to provide independent advice regarding the program to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Along with recommending improvements for delivery of services, the board is required to submit a report to the Senate and House Armed Services committees at least once a year.

The board is completing its initial report to Congress, which is due in early September. It also is in the process of finalizing a department instruction, which will provide Yellow Ribbon guidance to the individual reserve components.

(Army Lt. Col. Matt Leonard serves in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.)

Afghan War 'Fundamental' to U.S. Defense, Obama Tells VFW

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - Terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, are plotting to do so again, so defeating them is "fundamental to the defense of our people," President Barack Obama told veterans at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix today. Obama said the U.S. military will be better able to refocus on the war against al-Qaida and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it moves toward completing the mission in Iraq.

The president cited signs of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy introduced in March in action. U.S. troops have gone into new areas to take the fight to the Taliban. They've adopted new tactics that include protecting the Afghan people and improving their lives.

Today, he noted, they're helping secure polling places for the Aug. 20 elections.

These efforts have come at a high cost, he told the veterans, with fierce fighting and heavier U.S. casualties.

"As I said when I announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead," he said. "The insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight. And we won't defeat it overnight. This will not be quick. This will not be easy.

"But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice," the president continued. "This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again."

If left unchecked, extremists will secure an even larger safe haven for al-Qaida to plot to kill more Americans, Obama said. "So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people."

Meanwhile, Obama cited progress made in Iraq. He called the transfer of security control in the cities and town to Iraq's own security services June 30 a critical step toward completing the U.S. mission there.

"As they take control of their destiny, Iraqis will be tested and targeted," he said. "Those who seek to sow sectarian division will attempt more senseless bombings, more killings of innocents. This we know."

But the president reiterated that the United States will live up to its commitment to Iraq, removing all combat brigades by August 2010, and all U.S. troops by December 2011.

"For America, the Iraq war will end," he told the veterans.

Obama pledged to ensure troops who wage the wars have everything they need to succeed in these operations, and that policies reward them and their families for their sacrifices.

"To all those who have served America -- our forces, your families, our veterans -- you have done your duty," Obama told the veterans. "You have fulfilled your responsibilities, and now a grateful nation must fulfill ours."

Obama Pledges Support for Troops, Veterans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - America's men and women in uniform have done their duty and fulfilled every responsibility that's been asked of them, President Barack Obama said today. "And now," he said, "a grateful nation must fulfill ours."

Obama offered high praise for the troops, calling them the heart and soul of the world's best military during a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' annual convention in Phoenix.

"It's not the powerful weapons that make our military the strongest in the world. It's not the sophisticated systems that make us the most advanced," he told the veterans. "No, the true strength of our military lies in the spirit and skill of our men and women in uniform."

Obama said he recognizes his responsibility to "America's most precious resource" and vowed to be deliberate in how he commits them.

"I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary," he said. "When I do, it will be based on good intelligence and guided by a sound strategy. And I will give you a clear mission, defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done."

Obama promised to ensure troops have the resources, equipment and strategies they need to succeed in the current conflicts as well as future ones. "We need to keep our military the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped fighting force in the world," he said.

The president outlined some of the initiatives under way to support this goal:

-- Growing the Army and Marine Corps, and halting reductions in the Navy and Air Force to increase time between deployments, reduce stress on the force and bring an end to the Army's stop-loss, an involuntary extension program;

-- Providing more assets to support current operations: helicopters and crews; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; special operations forces; and armored vehicles and protective gear;

-- Conducting a top-to-bottom review of military priorities and posture to develop a new blueprint for the 21st century military the United States will need;

-- Balancing military capabilities to face unconventional as well as conventional threats;

-- Modernizing the force by investing in new skills and specialties as well as new technologies; and

-- Reforming the way the Pentagon does business to reduce waste and get the most capability out of every defense dollar.

Obama also recognized the country's responsibility to take care of its men and women in uniform, as well as veterans.

He noted that his fiscal 2010 budget funds "increasing military pay, building better family housing and funding more childcare and counseling to help families cope with the stresses of war."

In addition, big increases will be devoted to providing wounded warriors treatment centers, case managers and better medical care, he said. These resources, he told the veterans, will ensure wounded warriors get the care they need so they "can recover and return to where they want to be: with their units."

Obama also noted the billions of dollars in the new budget that will go toward treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries that have become the defining wounds of today's wars.

Increased funding will provide more treatment and mental-health screening to reach troops on the front lines, and more mobile and rural clinics to reach veterans who have returned home, he said.

"We are not going to abandon these American heroes," Obama said. "We will do right by them."

America's commitment to its troops will continue when they become veterans, he said, noting significant funding increases for Department of Veterans Affairs programs.

"Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned," the president promised the veterans.

Even during tough economic times, Obama said the country can't shirk from its responsibilities to servicemembers and veterans.

"Let me be clear," he said. "America's commitments to its veterans are not just lines in a budget.

"They are bonds that are sacred – a sacred trust that we are honor-bound to uphold."

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 17, 2009

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
Tesoro Hawaii Corp., Kapolei, Hawaii is being awarded a maximum $186,733,154 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for aviation fuel. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. The original proposal was Web solicited with 19 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0505).

Honeywell International, Albuquerque, N.M., is being awarded a maximum $25,338,258 firm-fixed price, sole-source, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for aircraft circuit card assemblies. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Aug. 16, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond (Ogden), Hill Air Force Base, Utah (SPRHA4-09-D-0001).

Paramount Petroleum Corp., Paramount, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $21,167,158 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for fuel. Other location of performance is Carson, Calif.. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. There were originally 72 proposals solicited with 19 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0504).

Timken Aerospace Transmissions, LLC., Manchester, Conn., is being awarded a maximum $10,299,904 firm fixed price contract for tail rotor gearboxes. Other location of performance is Connecticut. Using service is Army. There were originally two proposals solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is December 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., (W58RGZ-04-D-0298/ZB01).

Montana Refining Co., Inc., Great Falls, Cascade County, Mont.*, is being awarded a maximum $9,434,379 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for fuel. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. The original proposal was Web solicited with 19 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0506).

Sysco Food Services of Seattle, Kent, Wash., is being awarded a maximum $7,250,000 firm-fixed price, indefinite quantity full line food distribution contract. Other location of performance is Anchorage, AK. Using services are Army, Air Force and Job Corps. The original proposal was Web solicited with 3 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year of a five-year contract which includes four one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is Aug. 26, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-08-D-3160).

AIR FORCE
McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $98,000,000 cost plus fixed fee contract to provide integration and production of the laser joint direct attack munitions system on various Foreign Military Sales aircraft platforms throughout the life of the contract. At this time no funds have been obligated. 680 ARSSG/PK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA8681-09-D-0065).

Hawker Beechcraft Corp., Wichita, Kan., was awarded a $86,575,795.09 firm fixed price contract to provide for 8 T-6A Texan II training aircraft produced by Hawker Beechcraft Corp., including ground-based training systems, aircraft spare parts, technical publications, and two years of contractor logistics support for the Iraqi Air Force. At this time, $69,420,044 has been obligated. 877 AESG/SYI, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8617-09-C-6175).


Alion Science and Technology Corp., Chicago, Ill., was awarded a $32,469,127 cost plus fixed fee contract to provide a complete range of analytical research, studies, and assessment for the testing and evaluation of command and control architectures. At this time, $1,931,949 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (N61339-03-D-0300, Delivery Order: 0229).


NAVY
Nan, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a $39,784,330 firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of two Bachelor Enlisted Quarters at Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. The work to be performed provides for buildings of reinforced concrete or masonry construction providing 88 rooms (P-749) and 62 rooms (P-750) with semi-private in the standard 2 + 0 room configuration. Building(s) will be interconnected through walkways and shall not exceed five stories in height with community and service core areas consisting of laundry facilities, lounges, duty officer and bunk room, housekeeping, vending area, and public restroom. Work will be performed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed by February 2012. 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 nine proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity (N62742-09-C-1303).

W. M. Jordan Company, Inc., Newport News, Va., was awarded a $14,579,588 modification under a firm-fixed price contract (N40085-08-C-9684) on Aug. 14, 2009, to exercise option 0002 which provides for all work in connection with the installation of collateral equipment for the Special Operations Forces Facility (SOF) and SOF Operational Training Facility at Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck Annex. The work to be performed under this option provides for the installation of all furniture and furnishings in accordance with the drawings and specifications as specified in the furniture, fixtures and equipment package. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $96,365,379. Work will be performed in Virginia Beach, Va., and is expected to be completed by August 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.