Military News

Monday, August 31, 2009

California Guard Helps to Save Forests From Marijuana Growers

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. David J. Loeffler
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - The California National Guard is part of a 17-agency endeavor to protect the state's forests from destructive marijuana growers. "The environmental impacts of the [marijuana] gardens include complete removal of vegetation, toxic materials which poison and contaminate California's watersheds, and the death of wildlife," said Special Agent Russ Arthur of the U.S. Forest Service. "Many of these sites will never go back to their original state."

Operation Save Our Sierra, or S.O.S., is the battle plan. It involves more than 300 personnel from 17 local, state and federal agencies, including the California National Guard, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

In eastern Fresno County in July, California National Guard counterdrug task force members entered a marijuana garden after a challenging hike through rough terrain framed by poison oak and thorny brush. Large patches of marijuana were woven into the natural landscape in an attempt to conceal it from helicopter surveillance.

The marijuana looked strangely out of place in the once-pristine forest. Its color, a lighter shade of green than the native flora, stood out against the surrounding vegetation. The patches of marijuana appeared healthy, lush and manicured, while the surrounding plant life seemed languid in the 106-degree heat, struggling to survive.

The marijuana growers had clear-cut many of the native plants to make room for the illegal crop. Large piles of manzanita had been hacked down and stacked near the gardens, a clear indicator that often gives away the location of a marijuana garden. The air was thick and redolent with the sticky sweet smell of ripe marijuana.

Dangling from 100-foot lines attached to hovering helicopters, two-man teams dropped into the garden. In seconds, the teams detached themselves and started cutting down the marijuana with machetes, acting in unison with the precision of a machine making its collective way down the hillside. The marijuana, once hacked and stacked, was loaded into a large net and lifted by helicopter to an alternate location to be destroyed.

"By coordinating investigations and sharing intelligence and information, federal, state and local agencies are reclaiming national treasures from these criminal organizations," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, who toured the marijuana gardens with the Guard's counterdrug task force in July.

The patchwork of illegal growth in Fresno County was connected by intricately placed watering systems that stole water from local streams, rivers and aqueducts — water that should have nurtured native plants and animals.

Fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides — many of which are banned in the United States because of their toxic ingredients —also had been abandoned in the forest, where they could leech into the ground, resulting in toxic levels of chemicals in the soil, streams and rivers.

Streams and rivers can become so polluted with toxic chemicals that the water becomes devoid of oxygen, resulting in the deaths of organisms that live in the bodies of water. Algae blooms become rampant, water becomes stagnant and forest animals are forced to search elsewhere for water.

"I'm absolutely appalled at the damage in the gardens," said Army Brig. Gen. Kevin G. Ellsworth, Joint Staff director of the California National Guard. "I'm proud of our team. It's an essential part of the war on drugs."

Operation S.O.S. removed more than 30 miles of irrigation pipe, 17,000 pounds of garbage and 4,050 pounds of fertilizer from state and national forests in July. Nonetheless, it will be years before the sites are returned to their natural states, and the cost of restoration can exceed $10,000 per acre.

The operation also removed more than 400,000 marijuana plants valued at more than $1.1 billion, seized 32 weapons and made 88 arrests.

The growers of these gardens are not stereotypical peace-loving hippies who grow marijuana for medicinal purposes, officials said. A common theme of the operation is that the mission is not about medical marijuana.

Instead the growers, Drug Enforcement Administration officials, are mostly illegal immigrants smuggled into the United States from Mexico specifically to raise marijuana in the forests. Many growers spend the entire growing season, from April through October, in the gardens. They often are armed, and have been known to set up booby traps to protect the gardens. Recently, hikers, campers and hunters have stumbled upon illegal gardens and been threatened and even shot at by the growers, officials said.

In addition to supplying manpower to remove the marijuana gardens, the Guard's counterdrug task force has provided hundreds of hours of aerial support, intelligence-gathering, criminal analysis and photo interpretation for Operation S.O.S.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. David J. Loeffler serves in the California National Guard public affairs).

DoD Establishes Suicide Prevention Task Force

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs announced today the names of 14 members who will serve on the Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces.

The congressionally directed task force will address trends and causal factors, methods to update prevention and education programs, suicide assessment by occupation, suicide incident investigations, and protective measures for confidential information derived from investigations for the department.

"One service member suicide is too many and DoD is taking a proactive and comprehensive approach towards prevention, with efforts to address the stigma of psychological health issues, reduce barriers to care and research best practices," said Ellen Embrey, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "The members of this task force have significant and varied experience in national suicide prevention, research, policy and clinical care that will play a critical role in guiding the Department of Defense in addressing this very serious issue."

The task force will operate within the Federal Advisory Committee Act guidelines as a subcommittee of the Defense Health Board, responsible to the Secretary of Defense, through the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Membership consists of, DoD and non-DoD experts, including at least one representative each from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and one family member with a background in working with military families.

The task force will present their findings and recommendations to the secretary of defense within twelve months. Following review by the secretary, the task force's report and recommendations will be sent to Congress.

The names and biographies of the task force members are available on the Military Health Care Web site at http://www.health.mil/dhb/subcommittees-tfpsmaf.cfm .

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 31, 2009

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
Science Applications International Corp., Fairfield, N.J. is being awarded a maximum $500,000,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery, prime vendor contract for maintenance, repair and operations supplies. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Federal Civilian Agencies. The original proposal was Web solicited with seven 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 August 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM500-04-D-BP24).

Graybar Electric Co., Inc., St. Louis, Mo. is being awarded a maximum $400,000,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite quantity and indefinite delivery, prime vendor, maintenance, repair and operations contract. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The original proposal was Web solicited with six responses. This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is August 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM500-04-D-BP25).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Conn. is being awarded a maximum $7,902,698 firm fixed price, sole source contract for main rotor blades. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. There was one proposal originally solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is December 31, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency, Philadelphia, Pa., (N00383-06-G-006F-THG6).

US Foodservice Oklahoma Division, Oklahoma City, Okla., is being awarded a maximum $32,506,048 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity contract for full line food distribution. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army and Air Force. There were originally eight proposals solicited with three responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 29, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.,

AIR FORCE
InDyne, Inc., Reston, Va., was awarded a $168,100,565 modified contract for Eglin Test and Training Complex Range operation and maintenance of test and training areas and technical facilities to include test and training mission support, engineering support for range system design/modification/range configuration, and range support service to accomplish authorized range activities. At this time no funds have been obligated. Air Armament Center (AAC/PKE), Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA9200-05-C-0001).

InDyne, Incorporated, Reston Va., was awarded a $55,668,789 modified contract to provide a single contractor for range operations, communications and information services required to support the 30th Space Wing mission. At this time no funds have been obligated. 30C CONS/LGCZG, Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04684-03-C-0050).

DTS Aviation Services, Incorporated , Forth Worth, Texas, was awarded a $43,556,472 (estimated) modified contract for maintenance of T-38C, T-6, and T-1A aircraft at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. At this time no funds have been obligated. 14 CPTS-CONS/LGC, Columbus AFB, Miss., is the contracting activity (FA3002-05-C-0016).

Tybrin Corp., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $37,382,944 modified contract for software engineering support of guided weapons systems evaluations, simulations, and other services supporting research and development for the principals and customers of the Air Armament Center. At this time no funds have been obligated. AAC/PKET, Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity (F08635-02-C-0034, P00051).

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Incorporated, Scottsdale, Az., was awarded a $37,101,525 contract for the Identification Friend or Foe Mode 5 top-down directed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and initiated to overcome security issues: identified with the Mark XII IFF system. At this time $3,430,574 has been obligated. CPSG/PK, San Antonio, Texas is the contracting activity (FA8307-09-D-0003).

Concert Business Group, Phoenix, Az., was awarded a $13,938,551, contract for the acquisition of packaged furniture to include comprehensive program management associated with the installation of turn-key furniture systems. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. HQ Air Force Reserve Center (AFRC/A7KA), Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (GS-28F-034T, D.O. FA6643-09-09-F-0051; FA6643-09-F-0052 and FA6643-09-F-0053).

Booz Allen & Hamilton, Incorporated, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $8,539,052 modified contract to meet the Department of Defense's information assurance and cyber security requirement in developing a new national initiative that is greatly expanding the scope, goals, and methodologies of existing IA-related programs. At this time, $3,868,599 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002).

Call Henry, Incorporated, Titusville, Fla., was awarded a $7,741,426 modified contract to support the launch operation support contract and provided maintenance, modification, and modernization for aging facility, property, and Western Range Support equipment to ensure successful performance during tests, operations and launch. At this time no funds have been obligated. 30th Space Wing contracting Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04610-04-C-0004; Mod. P00096).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $7,250,000 modified contract to provide for software and hardware updates as required for the F-16 avionics test station located at the 46TH Test Squadron's Data Links Test Facility at Eglin AFB, Fla. At this time no funds have been obligated. Air Armament Center (AAC/PKE), Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA9200-07-D-0154).

NAVY
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Rolling Meadows, Ill., is being awarded a $98,727,678 ceiling-priced indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for the procurement of Expeditionary Litening Pods (LPODs), upgrades to existing pods, and integration of LPODs into AV-8B Harriers (domestic and allied), F/A-18 Hornets (domestic and FMS), EA-6B Prowlers, C-130 Hercules, and Air Force platforms, including related parts and services. In addition, this contract provides for associated engineering and technical support and technical data. Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and is expected to be completed in June 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $16,107,955 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-D-0025).

General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being issued a $30,866,589 modification under a previously awarded contract (N00030-08-C-0031) to add new procurement contract line item numbers to produce and install the NAVSEA ship alteration kits, for the SSP shipboard integration Increment 1, MK98 MOD 6/7 fire control system; conduct investigations and resolution of problems associated with TRIDENT I and TRIDENT II submarine launched ballistic missile programs, Ohio Class submersible ship guided nuclear requirements; and provide strategic weapon systems technical engineering support. This is follow-on work from the base contract. Work will be performed in Groton, Conn., (68 percent); Silverdale, Wash., (14 percent); Kings Bay, Ga., (14 percent); North Kingstown, R.I., (4 percent), and work is expected to be completed Aug. 4, 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1,250,415 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity.

Duke University, Durham, N.C., is being awarded a $19,580,506 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA-08-22) to provide pre-symptomatic detection and diagnosis of illness resulting from infectious pathogens in humans. This work is expected to result in a breakthrough in predictive testing for pathogen-mediated illness: a point-of-care device that can integrate clinical information and biological information to provide military and other field personnel probabilities for development of a pathogen-mediated illness within a prescribed time. This two-year contract includes no options. Work will be performed at Duke University, Durham, N.C. (88 percent); Retroscreen Virology LTD, London, U.K., (9.0 percent); the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., (2.5 percent) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. (0.5 percent), and work is expected to be completed Aug. 30, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with proposals solicited via the Commerce Business Daily's Federal Business Opportunities website. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific is the contracting activity (N66001-09-C-2082).

Team Corp.*, Burlington, Wash., is being awarded a $16,174,807 firm-fixed-price contract for weapons dynamic test systems for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) Research, Development, Acquisition, Test and Evaluation Facility, in compliance with base realignment and closure 2005, to include delivery and installation. In addition the contract includes system validation, testing and training. This dynamic test system will provide NAWCWD with the capability to replicate the dynamic environment weapons are subjected to throughout the weapon's life-cycle. Work will be performed in Burlington, Wash., (90 percent), and China Lake, Calif., (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $16,174,807 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-C-0113).

The Hana Group Inc.*, Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded an $12,602,474 modification under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N62478-07-D-2311) to exercise option two for regional security services at Commander Naval Region Hawaii, Pearl Harbor; Naval Station Pearl Harbor; Naval Magazine Lualualei; and Naval Communications Telecommunications Area Master Station Wahiawa. The work to be performed provides for, but is not limited to, entry control point (ECP) services such as identification checks, fixed vehicle inspections, commercial vehicle inspections, and emergency ECP closures; and roving guard services such as surveillance detection and mobile vehicle inspections. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $36,643,791. Work will be performed in Oahu, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity.

Amee Bay, LLC*, Anchorage, Ala., is being awarded a $12,387,339 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the acquisition of engineering services, planning and scheduling, installation services and other support needed to accomplish equipment alterations/modifications shipboard. The required services will support and accomplish various levels of ship system installation and equipment modification ranging from component level upgrades through system level upgrades. Systems may include hull/structural, mechanical, electrical, and electronic components. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., (25 percent); San Diego, Calif., (15 percent); Mayport, Fla., (15 percent); Everett, Wash., (15 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (15 percent); and Yokosuka, Japan, (15 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $350,000 will expire at the end of the current 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-0035).

Overland Corporation*, Dallas, Texas, is being awarded an $11,712,934 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of a rotor blade processing facility at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi, Texas, 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 competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with five proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N69450-09-C-0754).

BBN Technologies Corp., Cambridge, Mass., is being awarded a $10,988,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Broad Agency Announcement (BAA-09-11), to provide improved command and control computer network capabilities for tactical military units, allowing commanders the flexibility to assign network resources on the basis of the mission. This one-year contract includes two, one-year options, which, if awarded, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $41,687,000. Work will be performed in Cambridge, Mass., and work is expected to be completed Aug. 30, 2010. 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 web site, with 12 proposals received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific is the contracting activity (N66001-09-C-2073).

Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GMBH, Neuenburg, Germany, is being awarded a $10,944,176 firm-fixed-price, delivery order under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-06-D-1020) for procurement of 65,479 units of grenade, 66mm, smoke screening IR, vehicle launched MK1 Mod 0, DODIC GG24. Work will be performed in Germany, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 11, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with two proposals solicited and two offers received. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Stronghold Engineering, Inc., Riverside, Calif., is being awarded $9,316,127 for firm-fixed price task order #0004 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-06-D-1057) for design and construction for whole bachelor quarters modernization, Building 3204 at Angelley Hall, Naval Station San Diego. The work to be performed provides for the renovation of three, three-story wings surrounding a detached common-use core building. Renovation includes upgraded interior housing units, new conduit runs; upgraded mechanical, electrical, plumbing, security, and fire protection systems. The renovated buildings will house 336 personnel. The contract also contains one unexercised option, which if exercised would increase cumulative contract value to $10,006,127. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by December 2010. Funds for this project are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Suffolk Construction Co., Inc., Boston, Mass., is being awarded a $7,480,059 firm-fixed price contract for design and construction of a waterfront operations small craft facility at the Naval Submarine Base New London. The work to be performed provides for the design and construction of a new waterfront operations small craft facility which includes administrative, training spaces, and maintenance shops. It also includes demolition of Buildings 79 and 110, relocation of the fuel tank, construction of a new guard house, and repairs to the small craft boat ramp. The contract also contains one unexercised option, which if exercised would increase cumulative contract value to $7,510,059. Work will be performed in Groton, Conn., and is expected to be completed by April 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 10 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N40085-09-C-7001).

Stronghold Engineering, Riverside, Calif., is being awarded $7,279,124 for firm-fixed price task order #0005 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-06-D-1057) for the repair and communications and energy upgrade of Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) Building 2002 at Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport. The work to be performed provides for renovations that will bring Building 2002 into compliance with current building codes, seismic codes, health codes, and fire safety codes and also provides for BEQ communications and energy upgrade, installation of a communications and coaxial cable system and alternative solar energy system throughout the building. The contract also contains a planned modification which if issued would increase cumulative contract value to $8,667,718. Work will be performed in Bridgeport, Calif., and is expected to be completed by March 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $7,200,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5432) to establish contract line item ceiling for the remainder of 2009 production support for the ESSM. Production support includes tasks needed to support missile production, which are not directly associated with the manufacture of missile hardware. These tasks include missile improvement, support equipment improvement, software engineering and improvement, reliability monitoring, system safety monitoring, QA, risk management, test equipment, parts control, obsolete materials, CM, PVI, manufacturing qualification, logistics impacts, and other activities needed to support the engineering of an effective ESSM missile for the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., (45 percent); Australia, (11 percent); Andover, Mass., (10 percent); Germany, (8 percent); Canada, (7 percent); The Netherlands (6 percent); Norway (5 percent); Spain (3 precent); Camden, Ark. (2 percent); Denmark, (1 percent); Greece, (1 percent); and Turkey, (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2009. 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.

Wesco Consultants, Limited Liability Co.*, Ridgecrest, Calif., is being awarded a $6,365,065 firm-fixed-price time and materials contract for maintenance and repair services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division's (NAWC WD's) machine shops. Services to be provided include upgrade, tear down, transportation, packaging and installation of machine tools and equipment; wood floor maintenance; and stocking and inventory support. The estimated level of effort is 26,195 man-hours. Work will be performed at NAWC WD, China Lake, Calif., (90 percent) and NAWC WD, Pt. Mugu, Calif., (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under an electronic request for proposals as a 100 percent small business set-aside; one offer was received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-C-0126).

NCS Technologies, Inc., Manassas Va., is being awarded a $6,071,077 firm-fixed-price delivery order under previously awarded contract (W91QUZ-06-D-0009) for a quantity of 2,248 fully ruggedized laptops for the operational forces refresh. This delivery order includes logistics support requirements and 2 year extended warranty for a total of five years. Delivery of equipment is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 30, 2009, sixty days after receipt of order. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. A mini competition was conducted for this delivery order between eight contractors via posting to the Army Computer Hardware Enterprise Software and Solutions, Army Desktop and Mobile Computing contract holders, and four offers were received. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Healy Tibbitts Builders, Inc., Aiea, Hawaii, is being awarded a $5,975,741 firm-fixed-price contract modification to increase the dollar value of task order #0016 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N62472-04-D-1300) to dredge West Loch Channel for the T-AKE vessel at Naval Magazine, Pearl Harbor. The work to be performed under this modification provides for operational and physical changes mandated by the explosive safety submittal. The ESS provides for the protection of dredging and material handling personnel and also for the safety of people working nearby. After award of this modification, the total cumulative task order value will be $24,301,033. Work will be performed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed by November 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity.

Navy Researchers Work on Malaria Vaccine

By Christen McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - Researchers at the Naval Medical Research Center are testing a malaria vaccine officials hope will protect both troops and civilians in tropical and subtropical regions afflicted by the disease. "Every minute, there are about two to three people that will die from malaria in the world," said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Judy Epstein, director of clinical trials at the Naval Medical Research Center's U.S. Military Malaria Vaccine Program.

"It is a top priority for the military to develop a vaccine," she said to "Dot Mil Docs" Pentagon Web Radio listeners Aug. 27.

Malaria affects 300 million to 500 million people throughout the world and kills about 1.5 million people per year. It occurs in many tropical and subtropical countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. military forces are at great risk of developing malaria while deployed in endemic areas. Malaria caused more lost work days among U.S. military personnel during the 20th century than enemy fire in all conflicts in tropical regions combined, Epstein said.

The medical research center is conducting the first trial in humans of a vaccine known as PfSPZ, developed by the biotechnology company Sanaria Inc. in Rockville, Md. The trial, being conducted at both the Naval Medical Research Center and the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland's Baltimore campus, includes 104 volunteers, with 80 getting the vaccine and 24 serving as the control group. The investigators are looking at the safety, tolerability, genetic immunology and protective efficacy of the vaccine, Epstein said.

The process to create the vaccine uses mosquitoes that are infected with the parasite that causes malaria. The mosquitoes are irradiated, and the sporozoites -- cells that spread the disease -- are extracted. The vaccine is a whole-organism vaccine, using the entire parasite in a weakened form. In contrast, most malaria vaccines under development today consist of recombinant, or genetically engineered, proteins that are a part of the parasite, Epstein said.

The clinical trial tests escalating doses of vaccine to see how the participants react with each dose. When the vaccinations are complete, the participants are challenged with bites of infected mosquitoes.

"We feel that having a vaccine that could be given to troops prior to departure, and perhaps boosting before going overseas, would be tremendously useful," Epstein said. "If we develop safe and well tolerated vaccines, they could also be given to infants and have a large global impact having two benefits -- for both the military and the developing world.

"I feel extremely hopeful about this vaccine," she continued, "because it is based on the model of the irradiated sporozoite vaccine model, which is the gold standard.

It will take years and other follow-up trials before this vaccine may be available, Epstein said. "The most important thing now is to demonstrate safety and efficacy," she added.

(Christen N. McCluney works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Mullen Congratulates New Jersey National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program Grads

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2009 - Navy Adm. Mike Mullen congratulated more than 100 high school graduates here who pursued their diploma through a New Jersey National Guard program. In a ceremony at the War Memorial here today, the 30th graduating class of the New Jersey National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academy culminated 22 weeks of hard work and training by earning their high school diplomas.

The 105 youths made a decision to better their lives by joining the program and are now in a position to make a positive impact on society and in their communities, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in his keynote speech before the class and hundreds of proud family members.

"You have been through a tremendous amount in the past months, and I know you've been through a great deal before that," Mullen said. "Let this be only the beginning of what will be a life full of achievements and accomplishments."

Since 1994, the New Jersey program has helped more than 2,500 troubled-teens transition into young adults. The three-phase program begins with a two-week residential assessment phase at Fort Dix, N.J., followed by a 20-week phase where cadets learn life skills, career development, leadership, community service and physical training. They earn their high school diplomas at the end of Phase II.

"There's probably nothing more significant, graduates, in your lives than the changes that have occurred over the past few months," the admiral said. "Continuing to change and grow is difficult, [but] you've learned a lot about yourselves. You can succeed."

The opportunities that follow participating in a program such as this pave way for a better future, he added.

"I can remember being about your age and not having much of a clue about what life would bring, but underpinned with good programs like this, it has great potential to bring good things," he said. "You're now in a position to be able to take advantage of what you've learned here."

For many of the teenagers, it was the challenge program or jail. But after participating in the program, the program's director, ensured the parents in the audience their son or daughter will return home better than when they left.

"Today we give you your kids back, and I think they're much improved models," retired Army brigadier general and program director John Nunn said. "I think you'll see that by the time you get home tonight."

After today, the cadets now move on to the final phase of the program. They'll return home but are assigned a community mentor who's also a graduate of the program. After a year of being mentored and volunteering, the cadets have completed the entire program.

Many will join the active duty military, some will joint the New Jersey Army or Air National Guard and others will attend community college, but all will more than likely continue improving their lives, Nunn said.

Guard's Youth ChalleNGe Turns At-risk Youth's Lives Around

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 29, 2009 - When Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided today at the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe graduation in New Jersey, he witnessed a rite of passage being shared by about 8,000 at-risk youth across the country every year. All came to their state's Youth ChalleNGe program as high school dropouts identified as being at risk for substance abuse, pregnancy, delinquency and criminal activity.

All faced the same rude awakening when they showed up for the first day of a 22-week resident phase that starts the program: no cell phones or electronic games, "O-dark-30" wakeups for physical training, mandatory drug screenings and not a single minute of unstructured free time from sunup to sundown.

But for more than 90,000 cadets who have graduated from the program since Congress first authorized it in 1993, those sacrifices pale when compared to the possibilities the program provides.

Sixteen-year-old Haley Tolbert recently joined the Illinois National Guard's Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy, desperate to turn her life around. She had failing grades and was getting into trouble at school. She recently had moved out of her house to escape constant arguments with her parents.

"I didn't know of any other way to get my life back in order," she said.

Tolbert is among 378 cadets wrapping up their first week of Lincoln ChalleNGe at the former Chanute Air Force Base complex in Rantoul, Ill. It's the single largest Youth Challenge site, and one of the biggest of 33 programs conducted in 28 states and Puerto Rico. The Illinois program recently graduated 303 cadets from the resident program.

Richard Norris, Lincoln ChalleNGe's lead instructor, said he's amazed by the huge changes he sees in young people who elect to participate in the voluntary program.

"They've come here having made a decision that they need to change their lives," said Norris, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who's been with the Illinois program for 16 years. "They have made a commitment, and we have made a commitment to them, too."

The National Guardsmen and retired military members who run the program expose cadets to a steady diet of military-based training and supervised work experience that centers on core program values: citizenship, academics, life-coping skills, community service, health and hygiene, job skills training, leadership and "followership," and physical training.

Army Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Illinois' adjutant general, said the cadre's tireless efforts bring many cadets something they've never experienced.

"They instill the cadets with the discipline that up to that point has been lacking in their lives, and give them back those core values that can guide them in making a success life," Enyart said. "They are incredibly dedicated, incredibly hardworking, and devote countless hours of time to ensure that these cadets are successful."

Norris cited the second phase of the program, a year of mentoring, as a critical follow-on that builds on cadets' accomplishments during the resident phase. Cadets select their own mentors: a teacher, clergy member, police, firefighter or other adult community member. The Youth ChalleNge cadre offers training to help them be effective mentors.

"It really doesn't matter what we're able to do with these cadets if they finish the program and fall back into their old patterns," Norris said. "Mentors provide the continuity that is key in ensuring their success."

Eighteen-year-old Brandon Walton, another new cadet in the Lincoln ChalleNGe program, already has a pretty clear idea of how he'll measure his own success. Walton called the program his "last shot" in getting his life back on track. He was a high achiever in high school, earning a 3.5 grade point average, before he dropped out to help to support his financially struggling family.

Fast-forwarding 22 months ahead, he sees himself graduating from high school, making a gesture to every member of his family to thank them for what they've given him, then joining the Navy or Marine Corps.

"I have big goals and aspirations in life," he said.

Although Walton hopes to one day join the military, he's an exception. Only about 14 percent of the Lincoln ChalleNGe graduates do – a statistic Enyart said he's perfectly comfortable with. Youth ChalleNGe isn't designed as a recruiting program, he explained. It's just a way for the Guard to support the communities in which it operates.

"We view this as an important element of what we do for the community," he said. "We are a community-based organization, and by giving back to the community this way, we're helping build a stronger community and a stronger society."

The states appear to agree, with many seeking to expand their programs despite ever-tightening budgets. States pay 40 percent of the program cost, and the National Guard Bureau picks up the rest, about $93 million a year, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony Kissik, director of the Guard Bureau's youth development office.

Air Force Col. Willie Cobetto, federal coordinator for Lincoln ChalleNGe, called the Illinois' legislature's commitment of $38 million to build a new facility for the program a sign of the value it places on the program.

"They recognize that this is a program that works," he said. "This program is about seeing the kids change, and making a difference and knowing they are on the right track."

FEEDBACK: Send your comments on this story to donna.miles@osd.mil

Research Group Earns Kudos for Military Employee Support

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - When reserve-component troops are called away for military duties, their civilian employers work hard to pick up the slack in their absence. That is especially true for the Mid American Kidney Stone Association, a research group of only 10 staff members in Kansas City, Mo. However, the small association gladly makes do and continues to support its part-time troops despite the heavy workload and small team, said Army Reserve Col. Harold DeLaughder, a citizen-soldier and Mid American nurse.

"When one of its employees has to perform military duties away from their civilian job, it is a strain on the company," DeLaughder said. "But they still go above and beyond in their support of their employees."

Because of that support, Defense Department officials will recognize the association with a 2009 Department of Defense Freedom Award for being one of the nation's most supportive employers of National Guard and Reserve troops.

Despite its small staff, DeLaughder said, Mid American supervisors always have encouraged him to seek required and advanced military training to enhance his military career. The company has helped to pay tuition for his bachelor's and master's degrees that the Army didn't cover. And when military employees are activated for longer than 12 months, the company pays the difference between their regular and military salaries, he said.

The research company also continues health care and dental benefits for the families and encourages other area medical facilities to offer the same support to their National Guard and Reserve employees, he added.

DeLaughder has been called up for active duty several times, including for two Iraq deployments, a flood and a hurricane. All of his mobilizations took place on short notice and without complaint or resentment from his employer. As one of only two full-time registered nurses at the association, DeLaughder's absences are not easy to accommodate, but his colleagues understand, he said.

"I know it is difficult for my employer when I'm gone," he said. "I provide considerable expertise and clinical support to the physicians at our facilities. [But they] understand the needs and demands of the military."

DeLaughder has devoted more than 20 years to the Army National Guard and Army Reserve while working with the association, and said he's never feared losing his job because of his military service.

"I have no doubt that I work for the best employer in the country," DeLaughder said. "This type of reassurance from an employer is welcomed and crucial to my continued service. No one has been more supportive of national security through employer support than the Mid American Kidney Stone Association."

ESGR was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve-component members and their civilian employers, and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment.

Defense Program Addresses Contaminants, Health Risks

By Judith Snyderman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - A Defense Department program is being recognized for identifying chemicals the department uses that have emerging environmental and health risks and finding alternatives to using them. The Emerging Contaminants Program has been nominated for an "Innovations in Government Award" by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"The judges were certainly impressed that [the department] was taking action ahead of a regulatory requirement," said Shannon Cunniff, director of the Pentagon's chemical and material risk management directorate, which runs the program, during an Aug. 26 webcast of "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" on Pentagon Web Radio.

The program acts as a funneling operation for the directorate's focus on reducing solid waste and analyzing water and chemical use. The strategy starts with a scan of scientific journals and a simple question about any chemical of concern, Cunniff said: "Is there something about the chemical that would affect human health or the environment and [the Defense Department's] operations?" If the answer is "yes," she explained, staff members are consulted and some chemicals are placed on a watch list for analysis by panels of scientists, engineers and subject matter experts.

"We use these experts to rank the risks based on their likelihood of occurring and the severity," Cunniff said, adding that not all contaminants are toxic or relevant to the department. "What we are looking at is any emerging contaminant that has potential high risks or impacts to the [Defense Department] mission," she said. "So if we don't use them, we're not interested."

Since the Emerging Contaminants Program began in 2006, several investigations have escalated chemicals to an action list, Cunniff said.

"We've had a couple of pretty significant policy memos come out of our office," she added. "One [was] on the minimization of the use of hexavalent 'chrome' -- a known carcinogen that was the one that the 'Erin Brockovich' film was made about – and we also did one on nano materials." Program findings about hexavalent chromium, an anti-corrosive agent, Cunniff said, have had broad impact due its wide use in the department.

"We were able to convince even the corrosion folks that it made a lot of sense to move away from hex chrome where we could; and this is because we found out in our analyses that the [Defense Department] had invested millions of dollars in alternatives to hex chrome, but they weren't necessarily being adopted, even though they had been proven out as feasible alternatives," she said.

Program officials also studied perchlorate. "In that case, it was public concern over the chemical - even before there was a toxicity level established by [the Environmental Protection Agency] - that caused us to limit training on two of our ranges," Cunniff said.

To anticipate federal regulation related to greenhouse gases, sulfur hexafluoride also was selected for thorough analysis. "It's an industrial chemical with a global warming potential that is 23,000 times that of carbon dioxide, which we are more used to hearing about," she said. "So we knew that [the Defense Department] uses it, we looked at that and we are in the process of developing risk-management measures."

Department stakeholders are involved throughout the analysis process, Cunniff said. The program's list of chemicals being studied is available to the public via the department's Defense Environmental and Network Information Exchange site.

"We put information about the basic reasons why it's on the list, how does [the Defense Department] use it, and then once we have those risk management options developed and endorsed by the governance council, we put those out there on the Web, too," she said.

Due to the global nature of manufacturing, Cunniff said, the toughest challenge is figuring out what materials are being used in equipment. "A part may be made in Zanzibar and then shipped over to Mozambique and added into some other product that then goes over to Brazil and finally makes its way into Kansas, and eventually onto a plane," she explained.

Cunniff credits the program's expert panels with carrying out thorough investigations. "Our process is only as good as the diversity and depth of the scientists we bring into it," she said.

(Judith Snyderman works for the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)