Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Navy Marks Passing of Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, regarded as the father of the Navy's AEGIS Weapons System, passed away today. "I am deeply saddened by a great loss to our Navy family," said Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations. "Rear Admiral Meyer's passion, technical acumen, and warfighting expertise served as the foundation of our Navy combatant fleet today. On behalf of the men and women of the United States Navy, I extend my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy to the Meyer family. He was a close friend and mentor to so many of us. His legacy will remain in the Navy forever."

Meyer was born in Brunswick, Mo., on April 21, 1926. In 1946, he graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He also held an master's degree in astronautics and aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Meyer's Navy career began in 1943 as an apprentice seaman. In 1946, he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was transferred to regular Navy in 1948. After several years at sea, he returned to school in 1951 and attended the Joint Guided Missile School, Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Naval Line School, Monterey, Calif., and eventually served as an instructor at Special Weapons School, Norfolk, Va.

Meyer returned to sea as executive officer on USS Strickland, followed by service on the commander's staff, Destroyer Force Atlantic. He was then ordered to USS Galveston.

In 1963, Meyer was chosen to head the TERRIER desk in the Special Navy Task Force for Surface Missile Systems. He turned down a destroyer command to continue his work with missile, radar, and fire control systems, and became the founding Chief Engineer at the Naval Ship Missile System Engineering Station, Port Hueneme, Calif. In 1970, the Navy chose then Capt. Meyer to lead the development of the new AEGIS Weapon System in the Naval Ordnance Systems Command.

In this position, Meyer was promoted to rear admiral in Jan. 1975. In Jan. 1977, he assumed duties as the founding project manager of the AEGIS Shipbuilding Project. This project was ultimately responsible for the construction of all of the Navy's current cruisers and destroyers – with 89 ships built or in construction, and more in planning. This is one of the longest and largest naval shipbuilding programs in history. He retired from active duty in 1985.

In Nov. 2006, the Secretary of the Navy announced that an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, DDG 108, would be named in honor of Rear Adm. Meyer. Christened on Oct. 18, 2008, the ship utilizes the same combat system that Meyer helped to develop, the Aegis Combat System, including the SPY-lD, multifunction phased array radar. This advanced system makes the AEGIS ship the foundation of the U.S. Navy's surface combatant fleet. Additionally, when the ship is commissioned in Philadelphia, Pa. on Oct. 10, 2009, it will be manned with a complement of highly trained sailors, providing the Navy with a dynamic multi-mission warship that can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious ready groups, ensuring USS Wayne E. Meyer will lead the Navy into the future.

Rear Adm. Meyer's personal decorations and service medals include: Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon with Bronze Star; China Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Medal with Bronze Star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation; and Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation.

His other awards include: American Society of Naval Engineers Gold Medal, 1976; Old Crow Electronics Countermeasure Association Silver Medal; Distinguished Engineer Alumni Award, University of Kansas, 1981; Naval Ordnance Engineer Certificate #99; Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Missile Systems Award for distinguished service, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1983; Navy League's Rear Admiral William Sterling Parsons Award, for scientific and technical progress in construction of the nation's AEGIS fleet, 1985; Harold E. Sanders Award for a lifetime of contributions to Naval Engineering, American Society of Naval Engineers, 1985; Admiral J. H. Sides Award for major contributions to Anti-Air Warfare, National Security Industrial Association, 1988.

In 1977, Meyer was designated a Pioneer in the Navy's Acquisition Hall of Fame in the Pentagon. In 2008, he was presented with the sixth annual Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Award.

Pledge of Support From First Lady Begins Family Conference

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 1, 2009 - With personal assurance from the nation's first lady that President Barack Obama is committed to military families, more than 1,500 people participated as the Defense Department's Joint Family Readiness Conference kicked off here today. In a letter read to the group by Tommy Thomas, the Defense Department's deputy director of military community and family policy, Michelle Obama thanked the group for its support of servicemembers and pledged continued support.

"Our armed forces and their families have done their duty and we are grateful as a nation, and we must do ours to provide them all the support they need," Thomas read from the letter. "They do not complain about their sacrifices, but we all can help lighten the load. The president is committed to doing just that."

In the day's keynote address, Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, said that while the military's core values haven't changed since he was a young soldier living in Italy with his family, support programs surely have, and they must continue to do so.

"We have to change," the general said. "Our services are now well over 50 percent married. Servicemembers are getting married at a younger age. We're enlisting more and more married servicemembers and their families."

The military realizes that it may enlist soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, but in many cases, it retains families, Ham noted. Retention helps to ensure a high state of military readiness, he added.

"We do need to continue to create programs that equip our families and servicemembers with the knowledge to take care of themselves -- programs that highlight life skills," Ham said. "Building systems of support, as this conference is focused on, is exactly the right concept.

"I challenge all of you at this conference to identify and address the problem areas as you discover them," he added. "Together, in this room, there are centuries upon centuries of experience that can be harnessed to develop innovative ways to improve the quality of life for our families and our servicemembers, and to improve the readiness of our joint force."

The general's wife, Christi, highlighted some of the programs that are of high interest to servicemembers and their families and are among the topics being discussed throughout the three-day program.

Greater access to health care -- especially behavioral health care -- for all servicemembers and family members and easing the transition from military medical care to the Veterans Affairs system topped her list. But no less important, she added, are employment issues and career options for spouses, the amount of time servicemembers spend at their home stations between deployments, and school transition issues for the children of military families.

She also advocated strengthening programs to help children cope with repeated deployments.

The day's message may have been serious, but the Hams delivered it with a lighthearted flair. Mrs. Ham briefly caught the audience off-guard when she admitted to "marital difficulties."

"When some folks find themselves at a podium in a sizeable audience," she said, "they also find themselves making some kind of disclosure about their marital challenges. Finding myself here at this podium and in front of this amazing crowd, I've decided I should probably do the same."

"For decades now, I have been involved in a relationship outside of our marriage," she told the group, "but it has proven to be wonderful, worthwhile, important, and rewarding. My involvement during this time has been with Uncle Sam, and it has been an incredible relationship."

Over time, she said, Uncle Sam has listened to her and other military spouses and slowly has brought about change to meet their needs.

Those needs will be thoroughly discussed over the next two days, and any suggestions for improvement will certainly make it to Uncle Sam's ears, the general's wife promised the group.

Her husband's parting words encouraged attendees to remember the servicemembers and their families who are at the "core of everything we do."

"Surely we can -- I would say we must -- do our best for them everyday," he said.

Defense Department to Start H1N1 Flu Vaccinations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 1, 2009 - All military personnel will be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus, and the vaccine will be available to all military family members who want it, a Defense Department health affairs official said today. The H1N1 vaccination program will begin in early October, said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Wayne Hachey, director of preventive medicine for Defense Department health affairs.

The vaccine, which has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, will be mandatory for uniformed personnel, the colonel said. "What we want to do is target those people who are at highest risk for transmission," he said.

Health-care workers, deploying troops, those serving on ships and submarines, and new accessions are at the top of the list. "Any place where we take a lot of people, squash them all together and get them nice and close and put them under stressful conditions will get the vaccine first," he said.

The department will use the usual seasonal flu vaccine distribution chain for the H1N1, Hachey said, noting that while the mass H1N1 vaccinations are new to the general population, the process for vaccinating against seasonal flu is old hat for the Defense Department. "We've been doing this for decades," the colonel said. "The system is tried and true."

The department initially will receive 1 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, and another 1.7 million doses later in October.

Officials don't know yet whether people will need one dose or two, Hachey said. "The assumption right now is that people will need two doses, 21 days apart," he said. "That may change."

FDA officials still are studying H1N1 and the vaccine, and the results should be known by the end of the month.

Seasonal flu vaccine already is available, and the Defense Department will begin giving those shots shortly, Hachey said. "That has been our message to immunizers: to try and get as many people as they can immunized against the seasonal flu early," he said.

Guidelines for giving priority to family members will follow those for the general population, Hachey said. The Department of Health and Human Services is buying millions of doses of the vaccine.

"Installations are going to register with each state as an immunizer," Hachey said. "They will tell how many people they care for. This includes dependents, retirees and so on."

The Centers for Disease Control will place the order and will ship the vaccine where needed. Family members will have multiple opportunities to get the vaccine, whether at Defense Department medical facilities or off post, Hachey said.

The CDC has established target groups for those at greatest risk for transmitting or being affected by the H1N1. They include pregnant women, health-care workers, those younger than 25 or older than 65, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Hachey said previous plans are serving the Defense Department well. "We have been preparing for pandemic flu because of its potential impact on the mission," he said.

The symptoms of the H1N1 flu are almost the same as the seasonal flu: fever, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, muscle aches and feeling rundown. The 2009 H1N1 virus – formerly known as swine flu – is a pandemic virus, according to the World Health Organization. U.S. officials call the virus "troubling" and urge communities across the United States to take actions to mitigate the effects of it. The federal government is urging states and municipalities to begin preparing now for the fall flu season.

President Barack Obama addressed the H1N1 pandemic following a White House meeting today.

"As I said when we saw the first cases of this virus back in the spring, I don't want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want everybody to be prepared," he said. "We know that we usually get a second, larger wave of these flu viruses in the fall, and so response plans have been put in place across all levels of government."

But government cannot do it all, and the American people have a responsibility to stop the spread of the disease, Obama said. "We need families and businesses to ensure that they have plans in place if a family member, a child or a co-worker contracts the flu and needs to stay home," he said.

"And most importantly, we need everyone to get informed about individual risk factors, and we need everyone to take the common-sense steps that we know can make a difference," the president said. "Stay home if you're sick. Wash your hands frequently. Cover your sneezes with your sleeve, not your hands. And take all the necessary precautions to stay healthy. I know it sounds simple, but it's important and it works."

The H1N1 is a never-before-seen combination of human, swine and avian flu viruses, officials said. First detected in Mexico in February, it quickly spread around the world. According to July WHO statistics, there have been 94,512 H1N1 cases worldwide, and 429 people have died from it. In the United States, 33,902 contracted H1N1, and 170 have died.

MILITARY CONTRACTS September 1, 2009

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $99,542,851 modified contract for the existing engineering, manufacturing, and development contract for the Space Base Infrared System High Component. At this time no funds have been obligated. ISSW/PKS, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting authority (F04701-95-C-0017, P00583).

The Boeing Co., Wichita Falls, Kansas, was awarded a $88,849,717 contract to provide contractor logistics support for the VC-25A aircraft. At this time $81,685,910 has been obligated. 727 ACSG/PKB, Tinker AFB, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8106-09-C-0005).

Cazador Apparel, LLC, Anchorage, Alaska was awarded a $9,900,000 contract for the base-wide furniture program to include storage and reuse for Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo. At this time, $10,000 has been obligated. 21 CONS/LGCAB, Peterson AFB, Colo., is the contracting activity (FA2517-09-D-5003).

CME Group, Incorporated, Castle Hills, Texas was awarded a $7,851,000 contract to develop a high performance computing system to support a DNA repository of high threat infectious agents. At this time $1,058,000 has been obligated. AFRL/PKHB, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-C-6034).

S. T. Wooten, New Bern, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9024); Onslow Grading & Paving, Inc.*, Jacksonville, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9025); Morton Trucking*, Jacksonville, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9026); TEAM Construction*, Jacksonville, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9027); Barnhill Contracting Company, Tarboro, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9028); Sunland Builders, Inc.*, Newport, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9029); Trader Construction Co.*, New Bern, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9074); and Joyce & Associates*, Newport, N.C., (N40085-09-D-9075), are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract for paving and civil type projects at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and all outlying fields, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (including New River Air Station), and other military and government installations/sites in North Carolina. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all eight contracts combined is $90,000,000. Work will be performed in Cherry Point and Jacksonville, N.C. The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of August 2014. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 12 proposals received. These eight contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

SCI Technology, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., is being awarded a $55,860,200 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract to provide Light Armored Vehicle/Amphibious Assault Vehicle Intercommunication Equipment in support of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Command and Control (C2) Systems Division. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $99,988,665. Work will be performed in Huntsville, Ala., and is expected to be completed by August 2010. If all options are exercised, work could continue until August 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities web site and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce web site, with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and one offer received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (N65236-09-D-3582).

Shell Marine Products (US) Co., Houston, Texas, is being awarded an $11,023,993 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with firm, fixed-price task orders for the supply of lube oil products and services worldwide to the Military Sealift Command fleet. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $45,508,061. Work will be performed worldwide, and is expected to be completed by August 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with one offer received. The Military Sealift Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N00033-09-D-8002).

Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., Windsor Locks, Conn., is being awarded a maximum $11,389,266 firm fixed price, sole source contract for spare replenishment supplies. Other location of performance is Phoenix, Ariz. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is April 30, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency, Oklahoma City, Tinker AFB, Okla., (SPRTA1-09-C-0201).

The Produce Connection, Miami, Fla.*, is being awarded a maximum $7,708,967 fixed price with economic price adjustment, total set aside contract for full line fruit and vegetable support. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and USDA School customers. The original proposal was Web solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is March 12, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-09-D-P034).

Face of Defense: Soldier Set to Wrestle World Heavyweights

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 1, 2009 - In the Army's celebratory Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, Dremiel Byers stands out. Byers, who recently joined the ranks of the senior NCOs with his promotion to sergeant first class, will represent the Army on Team USA at the 2009 World Wrestling Championships. Byers is a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program as a Greco-Roman heavyweight wrestler. He will compete in the world championships scheduled for Sept. 21-27 in Herning, Denmark.

"A senior NCO can really take the guys to a higher level on the military side," said Staff Sgt. Shon Lewis, the program's wrestling coach, who is among the U.S. contingent headed to Denmark. "As a staff sergeant, you can walk some things through. Of course, the more rank you get, the farther you can walk with it, so that's going to be huge for the wrestling team."

Byers has been walking the walk on wrestling mats for the past decade. He reiterated his primary purpose at so many international tournaments, a phrase that has become his personal working mantra: "Get my hand raised, and our song played," he says.

A world champion in 2002, Byers helped Team USA win its only Greco-Roman team title in the history of amateur wrestling at the 2007 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. He knows the spine-tingling sensation of hearing "The Star-Spangled Banner" being played on foreign soil while watching the Stars and Stripes get hoisted to the rafters. He intends to hear it again.

Byers has been wrestling in and out of the shadow of two-time Olympic medalist Rulon Gardner, who posted the wrestling upset of the century at the 2000 Sydney Games against Russian legend Alexandre Karaline, who had not lost a match in 13 years. Gardner also turned the tables on slightly favored Byers at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling at Indianapolis, which left Byers serving as Gardner's training partner that summer in Athens, Greece.

"I benefitted from battling Rulon for so many years," Byers said. "When I went with him to Athens to be his training partner, all the pressure was off of me. All I had to do was help him. I was watching and still learning. I saw how badly he wanted it and how badly I wanted it for him. He didn't win a gold medal, but a bronze. He touched the podium, and I saw that."

Three years later, Byers claimed Team USA's Greco-Roman heavyweight spot for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he finished a disappointing seventh. Byers then vowed to continue wrestling toward London, where he fully expects in 2012 to honor a promise he made long ago to his late grandfather, Theodore.

"Not accomplishing something for someone you love is a thorn in your side," Byers said. "It bothers you. I think about it every day. That's something that has to happen, and that's why I'm still going."

In 2002, he beamed from atop the podium in Athens, where he captured a gold medal as the first African-American and fourth member of Team USA ever to win a Greco-Roman crown at the World Wrestling Championships.

"The whole year in itself led up to it," Byers said of the best wrestling run of his life. "A lot of things changed in my wrestling. Rulon Gardner's [snowmobiling] accident left the door open for me to get a whole lot more matches in. I had more world tours and had a great opportunity to see what was out there."

Along the way, Byers kept landing atop podiums. "I stole a few moves from some little guys around the world, and by the time I showed up at the World Championships, there was nothing there I hadn't already seen," Byers said. "Once the wrestling started, I was totally in the zone and ready to go. Whenever someone would happen to score a point, it didn't matter, because I knew there were too many areas for me to get it back. And it worked out.

"I got it back," he said, "and we got our song played at the end."

For his efforts, Byers earned the Army's 2002 Male Athlete of the Year honors and received a similar award from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Byers defeated Hungary's Deke Bardois in the 264.5-pound Greco-Roman finale of the 2002 World Wrestling Championships.

"Finally," Byers thought as he climbed atop the podium in Greece. "Everything I'd been hearing about my wrestling ability and the potential people saw in me, maybe they were right. I really believe that it was something great that happened on the way to something better," he said.

Seven years later, Byers, an eight-time national champion, is set to take on the best Greco-Roman heavyweights Sept. 27. At age 35, Byers will be the wily veteran on a U.S. team he expects will surprise wrestling aficionados around the globe.

"I'm getting older. It's getting harder. But I still know that I can get it done," Byers said. "Once you're No. 1, you want to stay No. 1."

Still, he said, the world championships are tough, with some 70 countries competing. "There's a greater wild-card factor and a greater potential for all of the threats to be on one side," he explained. "That happened in 2007. The Lithuanian came up to me, and he was laughing and saying, 'Hey, all you good guys are on one side. Ha-ha.' He was so happy with that. Then he got put out of the tournament, but the next year he wins a bronze medal at the Olympics."

Byers said "something special happened" when he won the bronze medal at the 2007 championships. "I appreciate the fact that I was part of the first U.S. team ever to win a world championship, but it still hurts," he said of another potential gold medal that slipped from his grasp. "If you're not doing this to be No. 1, you're just hoping and wishing."

Byers said his days of hoping and wishing are history.

Byers said he's gotten better at realizing his mistakes, as he did this summer in Baku, where he settled for a silver medal after losing to Iranian Masoud Hashemzadeh in the finals of the Heydar Aliyev Gold Grand Prix tournament. After waiting nearly four hours for his final match, Byers admittedly walked onto the mat lacking focus.

"I was a little lackadaisical and thinking, 'This guy didn't do anything in the tournament, so I'm going to be cool, calm and collected.' Then, I'm like, 'This guy is spinning off, so give him something and see what he does with it.' And I gave him something, and this dude turned into a man all of a sudden – a real man. And then I'm like, 'Whoa, whoa, I'm in a match now.' And then he scores – with my move. I'm like, 'Oh, no.' Then, instead of just waking up and getting it, I'm like, 'OK, yeah, that was my fault.'

In the end, he said, "The only story that's going to be told is that you won."

It is time for Byers to resort to his bone-crushing ways of the days when fellow soldiers chanted 'Bam, bam, boom!' every time he walked onto the mat. Byers said he wasn't in the greatest of shape then, therefore he had a sense of urgency to end matches quickly, before he got winded. Now he's wiser, and says he's "found that lung I never had."

Byers has been working out in Fort Carson, Colo., with German Nico Schmidt, a strong 30-year-old who reminded him that wrestling is a violent sport, that aggression is required, that no holds are barred, and that no opponents are friends.

"I have to go back to who I am and what I do," Byers said. The key is to make every move count, and never let up, he added.

Skeptics wonder what makes Byers think he can remain atop the U.S. heavyweight division until the 2012 Olympics in London, when he will be 37.

"These young guys, I know that they are a different breed," he said. "I will never knock them for who they are, their abilities, their performance or anything, because you never want to give a guy a reason. At the same time, I miss having a threat in practice. And if I can't have that, then I'm going to be that. I am that. Eventually, they'll get it."

Byers is going to Denmark to get his, and he vows to keep coming back until someone in America knocks him off.

"There's this thing about crawling back to the center and being ready to go out there and fight," he said. "I've got to be that guy. Some people say take off and take it easy, but I'm always hungry for the competition. I can't wait to get back to the competition.

"Generally, I don't look back," concluded Byers, who contends that he never will again. "I'm representing the Army, and my coaches do a good job of reminding me that people are counting on me to get it done, and why we're doing this. I've got to stick around until the next Olympic Games. I feel like I can win that one."

For this year, however, another world championship would suffice.

"I'm going to go back over there and get a medal," Byers said. "And keep winning for the Army. I'm fortunate to be a part of the World Class Athlete Program. There are people out there with the same [military occupational specialty] that I have – 92 Yankee – and those guys are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The least I can do is win for them."

(Tim Hipps works in the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command public affairs office.)

White House Launches Virtual Town Hall for Deployed Troops

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 1, 2009 - The White House launched an interactive, virtual town hall meeting yesterday that enables troops deployed within U.S. Central Command to pose their questions and get direct feedback from the commander in chief. "During my time in office, I've learned that there is no substitute for hearing directly from the men and women who are serving abroad," Obama said in a video posted on the Military OneSource site promoting the Web-based town hall.

Military OneSource is hosting the effort, a collaboration between the White House and Pentagon.

Troops can submit their questions through Sept. 25 by video and text in a variety of ways. They can send them through a link on the Military OneSource Web site at http://townhall.militaryonesource.com, or they can e-mail questions to townhall@militaryonesource.com, anonymously.

They also can take advantage of video sessions Armed Forces Network plans to set up throughout the Centcom theater to ensure troops get the chance to ask their questions.

Centcom officials posted the president's video on the command's Web site to encourage servicemembers to take part in the town hall. Participants will vote on the questions submitted, and Obama, along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, will answer the top five to 10. The video responses will be featured on the Military OneSource site and broadcast in the theater on AFN, officials said.

Obama called the Internet-based forum a great opportunity to hear directly from the force to ensure his administration's programs are aligned with their needs. Officials said the virtual town hall sessions will also ensure troops and their families know about the wealth of resources available to them through Military OneSource.

"You are carrying out the complex missions of the 21st century. You are bearing the greatest responsibility for America's security," Obama said in his promotional video. "And we must always ensure that we are hearing from you, and communicating clearly with you. That's what this new tool lets us do."

Similar initiatives are under way at the Pentagon, where both Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have launched similar town hall sessions.

The new Defense Department home page that went live last month features a prominently placed "Ask the Secretary" section. Anyone visiting http://www.defense.gov can submit a question to Gates.

Questions will be accepted for two weeks, then participants in the town hall will have another two weeks to vote on the questions submitted. The secretary will answer the five to 10 questions that top the list.

Meanwhile, Mullen launched an "Ask the Chairman" venue Aug. 18 that enabled anyone, military or not, to pose a question to him http://www.youtube.com/dodvclips by Aug. 31.
Mullen will watch questions submitted by YouTube viewers, then respond in a podcast, officials said

Gates Cites Importance of Acquisition Reform

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 1, 2009 - It is imperative for the nation to get defense acquisition reform right, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday during a visit to Texas to tour the plants of two major defense contractors. Americans are getting value for their tax dollars spent in the defense realm, Gates told Bloomberg News journalist Peter Cook while traveling to Fort Worth to tour a Lockheed Martin factory that makes the F-35 jet fighter. He later visited an L3 Communications plant in Greenville.

Taxpayers "certainly are getting more than their money's worth in terms of their men and women in uniform and the performance that they turn in," Gates told Cook. But acquisition reform is important to the nation's defense, said he added, so that servicemembers continue to receive appropriate –- and affordable -- weapons systems and equipment needed to deter threats to the nation.

The acquisition process needs to move beyond the situation that developed over the years, Gates said, in which so many capabilities are added to a new platform or system under development that it exceeds budget and cannot be purchased in quantity or simply becomes unaffordable.

"We need to get past an era where the platforms become so expensive that we can only buy a small number of them," Gates explained. For example, he said, the high-tech, but costly, B-2 bomber lists for almost $2 billion each; accordingly, the department has purchased just 19 of the stealthy aircraft.

Rising costs, Gates added, deep-sixed plans to purchase 32 new-generation DDG-1000 destroyers. The Pentagon now will buy just three of the new ships, he said.

Such a state of affairs "doesn't help our military capabilities," he said.

"So, the key is getting control of this acquisition process," the secretary said. To do that, he said, it's imperative "that programs are being executed according to the budgets that have been established for them, and on the timelines established."

With the current tight economy, he said, consensus exists among officials in the Pentagon, Congress and the White House "to try to address some of these acquisition issues that have built up cumulatively over a large number of years."

The new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is an all-purpose aircraft that makes financial sense, Gates said. The F-35 will be used by the Air Force, the Marines Corps and the Navy. Once in production, he said, the F-35's unit price will be at less than half the cost of the F-22 Raptor fighter that's tabbed for exclusive use by the Air Force.

The Defense Department is slated to purchase 187 F-22s, which Gates called "a great airplane." But finite defense resources compelled the Pentagon to favor the F-35, he said.

Gates Touts F-35 As Heart of Future Tactical Combat Aviation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited the Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter factory here today, assessing progress on what he called "the heart of the future of our tactical combat aviation." Gates walked through the mile-long production facility, getting briefed at stops along the way and chatting with workers on the production line.

The Lockheed-Martin facility has been used since 1942 to build military aircraft. Today, the front fuselage and wings of the latest-generation combat aircraft are built here. Then, they're incorporated, along with the center and aft fuselage pieces built by other contractors, into the final product.

"The importance of this aircraft cannot be overstated," Gates told reporters, holding up the F-35 as an example of new, innovative and more cost-effective ways to meet the country's current and future defense needs.

The F-35 is the first aircraft to be developed within the Defense Department to meet the needs of three services, with three variants being developed simultaneously. This brings cost savings and economies of scale not possible with separate aircraft, because the F-35s will share common components and maintenance requirements, Gates noted.

"We cannot afford as a nation not to have this airplane," he said, noting that every dollar saved in acquisition frees up a dollar to support other critical wartime requirements.

The Air Force will receive the F-35's "A" variant, which will provide conventional takeoff and landing capabilities. The Marine Corps is slated to receive the "B" variant that has a vertical-lift capability. The Navy will receive the "C" variant, designed for carrier launches.

The different F-35 variants will replace the legacy F-16 aircraft for the Air Force and the F/A-18 and AV-8 aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Gates said he was impressed by the investments made in the production line, with robotics and automation bringing speed and precision to the operation. Lockheed-Martin poured $1 billion into the facility to prepare it for F-35 production, officials said, and is adding another 250,000 feet of floor space to the more than 1 million square feet currently used.

But even more impressive, Gates said, is the "dedication and clear commitment of the men and women ... working on this airplane."

"They're clearly excited about it," Gates said. "I'm excited about it."

Gates said he's particularly excited that the F-35 appears to be on schedule to equip the first training squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. , by 2011, and enable the Marine Corps to reach initial operational capability by 2012.

"So I am heartened by what I've seen here this morning," he said, "but especially by the commitment of the people putting this airplane together."

Marine Maj. Joseph Bachmann, an F-35 test pilot who goes by the call sign, "OD," shares Gates' enthusiasm about the aircraft he said will deliver a "quantum leap" in new capability.

"It's important for him to see that this is a beautiful machine," Bachmann said of Gates' visit. "But I'd also like him to see that we are being good stewards with the taxpayers' money, and working together to deliver on time."

The Joint Strike Fighter will replace not only legacy U.S. aircraft, but also numerous aircraft for the international partners participating in the program.

During today's tour, Gates walked beneath flags draped over the immaculate factory floor that reflect the broad partnership behind the F-35 program. Along with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps flags hung flags of the United States , United Kingdom , Italy , the Netherlands , Turkey , Canada , Denmark , Norway and Australia .
A huge banner at the entranceway to the plant captured the team spirit: "F-35 JSF: Where Our Future Comes Together."

Gates credited that teamwork with overcoming challenges and moving forward with the program. The goal, he said is to complete the development program in the next few years, then move into full production.

At that point, the facility will ramp up from its current production of one aircraft per month to about one per day.

"We are in this position where we can deliver as promised," said Jon Beesley, chief F-35 test pilot. "We're developing things people have never done before and learning a lot of things along the way."

Mike Bateman, an electrical installer who's worked with the F-35 program for the past five years, said he's proud of the way management listens to workers who are always trying to figure out ways to make the aircraft better and produce it faster.

Gates' visit "is pretty awesome," Bateman said. "He's getting a chance to see the quality here, and the fact that we are going to make these schedules and under budget," he said.

Steve Nelson, a Lockheed-Martin manager who supervises the forward fuselage operation, said he hoped Gates got a sense during his visit about what makes the F-35 such a distinctive program.

"I want him to take away how much the engineering has progressed, and how people are working together to get the fifth-generation aircraft out the door and to our country," he said.

Gates to MC-12 Workers: Your Work is Saving Troops' Lives

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates gave a pep talk today to employees outfitting the MC-12 Liberty aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, telling them their work is saving lives on the battlefield. Gates visited the L3 Communications plant here, getting briefed about progress,on "Project Liberty." The program outfits a commercial turboprop aircraft with high-tech gear that provides real-time, full-motion video and signals intelligence to military commanders.
After observing work under way on four additional MC-12s today, all bound for Afghanistan, Gates told factory employees their work is paying off in a big way.

"You all have the opportunity to work on one of the few projects where your efforts have a direct and immediate impact on men and women fighting on the front lines," he said. "With every plane that you complete, you are saving American lives and giving our troops the tools they need to accomplish their mission and come home safely."

"Your work already has had an impact in Iraq ," Gates told the workers. Six MC-12s deployed there have flown 302 combat missions since the first combat mission, in mid-June, Bob Spivey, L3-Com's vice present of special projects, reported.

Another 24 MC-12s currently contracted for are bound for Afghanistan .

"Within the next few months, I hope that planes sitting right here – the first second-generation MC-12 scheduled for deployment – will be flying combat missions in Afghanistan, giving our troops a crucial asset as they engage a committed and deadly enemy in a new phase of that war," Gates told the workers.

Gates has championed getting more ISR assets to better support troops battling an enemy who hides among the population and uses roadside bombs rather than engaging in a direct fight.

"Platforms like the MC-12, though, give America distinct counter to their efforts, an unmatched advantage," he said. "They give our troops an eye in the sky. They help us disrupt and hunt down our enemies, often before they strike, saving the lives of American troops while sparing innocent civilians."

Gates praised "an unprecedented fusion of intelligence and operations on the ground in recent years." It's driven, he said, by technological advances, as well as creativity and flexibility among those in uniform as well as industrial partners.

"Your work proves what industry and the military can accomplish together," he said.

Turning out an MC-12 is tedious, detailed work that involves installing 41,000 individual parts installed into a space only slightly larger than a Volkswagon. Workers pull around-the-clock shifts, taking 22,000 hours of labor to complete each aircraft. "We're trying to pump these out as fast as we can," Spivey said.

"We understand the urgency, and our people are working this program really hard, 24 hours," echoed Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Buddelmeyer, commander of the 645th Aeronautical Systems Squadron that's assigned to the program.

"This program is a big priority," he said. "And it's doing some wonderful things in theater."

Gates said the MC-12 program offers a reminder that new combat platforms can be developed, built and deployed quickly. "And the best solution isn't always the fanciest or the most expensive," he said.

He closed by praising the work under way and urging workers to push themselves to turn out MC-12s even faster.

"Each day earlier one of these planes arrives downrange may well be the day that a soldier's life is saved. So I ask you to sustain your effort and to keep pursuing ways to improve this program," he said.

"Your job is critical," he said. "We are counting on you. Most importantly, the troops who are putting their lives on the line also are counting on you."

Philip Johnson, a quality manager for the program, called Gates' visit an inspiration to him and his coworkers. "It really brings home the sense of what we do here, and how it supports our country and our fighters and troops on the ground," he said.

Making Money with a Computer Virus

Editor's Note: The author is a former servicemember.

Running a large number of websites and a small office network has certainly given me a lot of experience in being exposed to the dangers of Viruses, Trojans and other MalWare. Also, having taught an introductory course in computer crime and written a book on technology - well, I have at least a pretty good idea about the dangers of the Internet. But, I didn’t think I would ever fall into a way to make money with computer viruses.

It started over a year ago. The first indication was the network slowing - then, several of the more popular websites were hacked. How a keylogger program became installed - well, I have my suspicions. I did some research and found an online computer repair company. Rather than take all the computers in or call a technician to the office, I figured I’d roll the dice.

I was very pleased an hour later. Remotely, the company found, killed and then restored - for a single - very reasonable price - my computer. Heck, I signed up with for year which included tuning and optimizing all computers. For the next year, every once a while, we went online and the company remotely scanned and optimized.

The year was great - but, not having had any recurrences, I let the contract lapse. Six months later, I did it this time. In an effort to improve broadcast sound quality - I did something stupid. I disable the firewall and virus protection. Really, it should have been okay. I had I remembered to re-activate the programs. The next day - we were slammed.

My fault. I contacted the remote technicians. This time - same great service, but the Trojan had burrowed deep into a single machine. It took longer - but they were able to restore everything. I was so pleased, I told the technician via chat that I would be blogging about my satisfaction; and, link to them. This honest guy says, “You ought to just become an affiliate.”

That was an easy decision. Over the last 18 months I have referred dozens of people to them - each one was as satisfied as I was. I never imagined I could become an affiliate. Because of my websites, I am an affiliate with several companies. None was this easy - nor, do I have such a personal connection. I signed up, they created a page - at no cost to me. I then registered a domain, pointed to the sub-domain they had created - and, well I am in business.

There is one last cool part - I can sign up people to be affiliates and - well, get a small commission of the people they refer. Can you imagine - all the people, all the computers, all the knotheads creating viruses - now I can make a little money helping people clean their machines!

First, if your machine is infected, or slow, I strongly recommended these technicians - it’s done remotely and very cool to watch your cursor move on its own. Second, if you would like be an affiliate - that’s right, make money with computer viruses, I encourage to click on the link and sign up!

Computer Repair

If you scroll down on the page you will see a link to become an affiliate on the bottom right.