Thursday, August 20, 2009

Breaking the Silence: The Mexican Army and the 1997 Acteal Massacre

Washington, DC, August 20, 2009 - As Mexicans debate last week's Supreme Court ruling vacating the conviction of 20 men for the Acteal massacre, newly declassified documents from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency describe the Mexican Army's role in backing paramilitary groups in Chiapas at the time of the killings. The secret cables confirm reporting about military support for indigenous armed groups carrying out attacks on pro-Zapatista communities in the region and add important new details. They also revive a question that has lingered for almost 12 years: when will the Army come clean about its role in Acteal?

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

Group Finds Foster Homes for Deployed Troops' Pets

By Army Sgt. Will Hill
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 20, 2009 - Many programs help military members' families during a deployment, but what about their four-legged friends? Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet, a nonprofit organization made up of all volunteers, locates foster homes for the pets of servicemembers who are deployed, training or experiencing an emergency or financial hardship.

Linda Spurlin-Dominik, the group's chief executive officer, said the group was formed in January 2005 after the founders learned that troops across the country had pets that needed a loving and safe home while their owners were deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other designated combat areas.

"Soldiers had no options with their pets and had to turn over their pet's ownership to shelters and rescue groups across the country," Spurlin-Dominik said. The organization now has about 800 potential foster homes and 55 foster pets, she added.

Additionally, the group lends support for emergency services such as transportation, boarding and veterinarian care, Spurlin-Dominik said.

Jamie Shively, vice president of Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet and the Indiana state coordinator, said the group has every kind of pet.

"We have a majority of dogs and cats, but we have helped horses and birds," Shively said. "Servicemembers consider their pets as kids or best friends, so to be able to assist them by getting their pets into a foster home so they do not have to surrender them to a shelter or a rescue organization is just absolutely great."

Army Sgt. Donietta McPowell, a Frankfort, Ky., native training here with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, said she would have used the program if her parents had been unable to provide a home for her pet.

"I had no idea programs like that existed. I will inform all my [fellow soldiers] back home," McPowell said.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Travis Rogers, a maintenance test pilot, also with the 147th Aviation Regiment, said he also would use the services if he had no one to turn to. "If I was single, I would differently have used the program," he said.

Servicemembers, veterans or their families who need a safe home for their pets can request services either through the group's Web site,, or by calling 501-325-1591 to begin the process.

Once the owner is registered and a foster home has been selected, Spurlin-Dominik said, a written agreement is prepared for the pet owner, the foster home and a representative approved by the group to help reach agreement on the cost and duration of the pet's stay with the foster home.

"The organization does not charge any fees, but the military pet owner will be responsible for any veterinarian bills and food cost for the pet, which would basically be the same if they were not deployed," she explained, adding that some foster homes do not charge for pet food.

Once an agreement has been made, the foster home will take custody of the pets until the servicemember returns home.

(Army Sgt. Will Hill serves in the Camp Atterbury public affairs office.)


Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $151,577,441 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431) to procure 186 Evolved SEASPARROW Missiles (ESSM), 77 shipping containers, and spares for the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium and the United Arab Emirates. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., (45 percent); Camden, Ark., (2 percent); Andover, Mass,. (10 percent), Australia, (11 percent), Canada, (7 percent), Denmark, (1 percent), Greece, (1 percent), Germany, (8 percent), The Netherlands, (6 percent); Norway, (5 percent); Spain, (3 percent); and Turkey, (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Innovative Technical Solutions Inc.*, Walnut Creek, Calif., (N62473-09-D-2625); CKY *, San Pedro, Calif., (N62473-09-D-2626); and CE2 Kleinfelder JV *, Pleasanton, Calif., (N62473-09-D-2627), are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity environmental multiple award contract for environmental remediation services on Navy and Marine Corps installations. The work to be performed provides for environmental remediation services under the 562910 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all three contracts combined is $100,000,000. The work will be performed at various locations in Alaska (2 percent), Ariz., (4 percent), Calif., (80 percent), Colo., (2 percent) Nev., (2 percent), N.M., (2 percent), Ore., (2 percent), Utah, (2 percent), Wash., (2 percent), and other DOD installations nationwide (2 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed five years, with an expected completion date of August 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as a 100 percent Small Business set-aside via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 13 proposals received. These three firms may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contracts. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems, Land & Armaments L.P., U.S. Combat Systems, Minneapolis, Minn., is being awarded a $41,091,369 firm-fixed-price contract for the FY08 canister production requirements for MK-13 MOD 0 and MK-25 MOD 0 canisters to support integration of STANDARD Missile (SM-2) and EVOLVED SEASPARROW (ESSM) missiles into the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS). The MK 41 VLS provides a missile launching system for CG 47 and DDG 51 class surface combatants of the Navy as well as surface combatants of allied navies. The canisters provide rocket motor exhaust gas containment and a launch rail during missile firing. They also serve as missile shipping and storage containers. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy, (21.0 percent), and the Governments of Korea, (38.4 percent), Germany, (16.6 percent), Australia, (8.7 percent), Turkey, (7.8 percent), Japan, (5.8 percent), and Spain, (1.7 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales and Memorandum of Understanding Programs. Work will be performed in Aberdeen, S.D., (77 percent); Odessa, Mo., (10 percent); Minneapolis, Minn., (8 percent); and Lewisburg, Tenn., (5 percent), and is expected to be completed by May 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-5307).

Fairbanks Morse Engine, Beloit, Wis., is being awarded a $7,835,262 firm-fixed, indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contract to furnish of up to a quantity of 842 each ship's service diesel generator low load installation and spare parts kits to modify the LSD-41 and LSD-49 Class opposed piston engines, and associated technical data. The kits will increase exhaust temperature and lube oil temperature, optimize fuel delivery, promote complete combustion and reduce oil carryover into the combustion chambers and the exhaust belts, and improve the sealing capabilities of the cylinder liner and piston rings of the opposed piston engine. Work will be performed in Beloit, Wis., and is expected to be completed by August 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Ship System Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N65540-09-D-0028).

Sealift, Inc., Oyster Bay, N.Y., is being awarded a $7,634,264 firm-fixed-price contract for a one-year time charter of a vessel, which will be U.S.-flagged upon delivery to the government. The ship's primary mission will be to re-supply armed services personnel on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value to $31,401,710. Work will be performed primarily in the Indian Ocean, and is expected to be completed by November 2010. With options exercised, October 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with six offers received. The Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00033-09-C-5502).

Raytheon Network Centric Systems, Marlborough, Mass., is being awarded a $6,475,553 commercial, firm-fixed-price contract for production of two fixed base, precision approach radar systems as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations to move U.S. Marine Corps helicopters from Naval Air Station (NAS) Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, and from NAS Atlanta, Ga., to Robins AFB, Georgia. This seventeen-month contract contains no options. Work will be performed in Marlborough, Mass., (10 percent), at McGuire AFB, N.J., (45 percent), and at Robins AFB, Ga., (45 percent), and work is expected to be completed Mar. 1, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Commerce Business Daily's Federal Business Opportunities website and the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central website, with two offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific is the contracting activity (N66001-09-C-0044).

Bohlke International Airways, Inc., dba BIA, Kingshill, Virgin Island *, is being awarded a maximum $35,869,534 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other location of performance is Virgin Island. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The original proposal was Web solicited with four responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Mar. 31, 2013. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-0123).

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 August 16, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond (Ogden), Hill Air Force Base, Utah (SPRHA4-09-D-0001).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Incorporated, Herndon, Va. was awarded a $19,323,392 cost plus fixed fee contract for the technical area task, to provide sound, unique IA solutions for transforming the Air Force's enterprise architecture capability for Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer (SAF/XCT). At this time $2,927,536 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002,0378).

Wyle Information Systems, LLC, McLean, Va., was awarded a $13,870,000 indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to provide the technical services and space operations support contract that provides services to operate, maintain, and support the Space Innovation and Development Center located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The contract is directed toward examining, assessing, and developing the means to integrate national system and DoD space systems support to enhance combat, and research and development capabilities within the Air Force. At this time no funds have been obligated. Space Innovation and Development Center, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., is the contracting activity (FA2550-01-D-0003, P00026).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Incorporated, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $9,661,837 cost plus fixed fee contract for the technical area task to provide information systems security improvements to the United States military ground communication systems and onboard United States military airborne systems and platforms. At this time $4,264,927 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002,0377).

Obama Honors Wounded Warriors With NASCAR Greats

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 20, 2009 - President Barack Obama paid tribute yesterday to past and present NASCAR champions Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon – both of whom drive National Guard-sponsored cars -- but not before honoring the wounded warriors attending the ceremony. Obama hosted the NASCAR champs at the White House, acknowledging their accomplishments on the track, but also what they give back to the community and the men and women in uniform.

"NASCAR's about a lot more than just racing cars," the president told the drivers, who also included Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby and Terry Labonte, Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin and Richard Petty. "It's about supporting our troops and veterans, from flyovers and red, white and blue paint jobs on Memorial Day, to your visits to Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] and Iraq and Afghanistan that show our appreciation for the brave men and women who are serving our country," Obama said.

The president opened his remarks by acknowledging the wounded warriors from Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center attending the ceremony. "I want everyone to give them a big round of applause," he told the group. "We are grateful to them."

Earnhardt, arguably NASCAR's most popular driver, began racing his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the National Guard last year. He also has driven for the Navy in the Nationwide Series. Gordon entered his partnership with the Guard this season, driving his No. 24 Dupont/National Guard Chevrolet in select events.

The drivers promote National Guard programs and meet with troops and potential recruits during their engagements.

"Both drivers are huge fans of the National Guard and truly appreciate what soldiers do," Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. John Gipe said of the NASCAR champs.

Acquisition Work Force Steps Toward Reform

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 20, 2009 - Big changes are ahead in the acquisitions community as the Defense Department increases and reshapes its acquisition work force so it's better postured to support the reforms Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and President Barack Obama are championing. The federal civilian defense acquisition work force is expected to grow by about 20,000 over the next five years, Shay Assad, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, told American Forces Press Service.

The Defense Department will increase the number of federal civilian employees conducting acquisitions-related jobs by 20,000, while reducing its contractor work force by about 10,000. This will expand the acquisition work force from its current 127,000 federal employees and 52,000 contractors to 147,000 feds and about 42,000 contractors by fiscal 2015, Assad said.

The first 4,100 of the new federal employees are expected to be hired through a competitive selection process during fiscal 2010.

Assad called the growth – the largest in some three decades for the acquisition community – a vital step toward improving the way the department does business.

It's an effort that's generated support from the president, defense leaders and Congress. All are "totally aligned on the need to increase the size and improve the capability of the work force," Assad said.

Obama underscored the importance of acquisition reforms earlier this week during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix.

"We cannot build the 21st-century military we need and maintain the fiscal responsibility that America demands unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does business," he told the veterans.

"It's a simple fact," Obama continued. "Every dollar wasted in our defense budget is a dollar we can't spend to care for our troops or protect America or prepare for the future."

So in addition to making tough decisions about what equipment and weapons troops need and cutting unnecessary programs, officials are working to ensure they get the most out of every defense dollar spent.

The department has increased its contract obligations almost three-fold over the past eight years, from about $138 billion in 2001 to more than $390 billion in fiscal 2008. Yet the size of the work force that awards and oversees these contracts has remained relatively unchanged.

"The secretary is very concerned about proper oversight," Assad said. "This is not just about ensuring that we get a good deal. It's about ensuring that once we issue the contracts, how do we ensure we, in fact, got what we paid for? And how do we ferret out any waste or abuse and -- although it doesn't happen often, it does occur -- fraud from the process?"

The additional acquisition employees will focus on awarding more competitive contracts and providing more contract oversight. Others will be hired across the department to improve business management, logistics management, systems engineering and program management functions, jobs now conducted largely by contractors.

Beefing up the department's professional acquisition work force will improve its permanent capability, Assad said, while reducing reliance on contractors will bring more stability to the process. "This is taking a look at those functions we want to have inherent to our government, and to help us build the kind of inherent program management and systems engineering capability we want to have," he said.

The bottom line, he said, is ensuring the department delivers U.S. forces what they need, when they need it and in the most cost-effective way.

"You can have nifty processes, you can use clever contracting techniques, but at the end of the day, it is having a capable, competent work force who can execute on behalf of the warfighters and taxpayers," Assad said.

"You have to have enough people," he added, "but you have to have the right capabilities as well. That's the work force we are going to build."