Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Marines, Sailors Join Coalition in Exercise

By Marine Corps Capt. Clark D. Carpenter
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 14, 2009 - U.S. Marines and sailors were part of a four-nation coalition that stormed the beaches near here during a major amphibious assault demonstration Oct. 12. "This was a team effort," said Marine Corps Col. Gareth F. Brandl, the 22nd MEU's commander. "Conducting operations like this with our partner nations now will help ensure we can conduct future missions in a proficient and professional manner."

As part of the simulation, Egyptian special operations forces conducted beach reconnaissance prior to the assault. U.S. Marines followed with four AV-88 Harriers. Then amphibious assault vehicles, Humvees and landing craft came ashore.

The Marines have been planning for the exercise since June, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Owen, the 22nd MEU's operations officer.

"There was a significant amount of detailed planning that went into this event to ensure success," Owen said. "This is a great example of how we can work together with our partner nations in this region, regardless of any language barrier, and plan and execute very complex mission sets like the amphibious assault demonstration today."

Troops from the various nations, along with 30 vehicles including aircraft, landing craft, amphibious assault vehicles and amphibious tracked vehicles, participated.

"This type of training is important, because it shows us what we can accomplish working with other forces from around the world," said Marine Corps Cpl. Gabriel T. Church, a vehicle commander with Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd MEU. "As the theater reserve force, there are endless possibilities of what we may be asked to do -- noncombatant evacuations, humanitarian relief or combat operations. This training helps keep our edge sharpened if the situation calls for it."
Established in 1981 as a result of the Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel, Bright Star is U.S. Central Command's longest-running exercise. Co-sponsored by Centcom and its Egyptian counterpart, it's designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships and improve readiness and interoperability among the United States, Egypt and coalition forces.

Highlights of this year's exercise include a naval exercise, a multinational amphibious assault demonstration, a multinational paratrooper jump involving 600 troops and a combined arms live fire exercise.

(Marine Corps Capt. Clark D. Carpenter serves with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit public affairs office.)

Congress Finishes Work on Authorization Bill

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 14, 2009 - Congress has reached agreement on a $680.2 billion National Defense Authorization Bill for fiscal 2010. The bill authorizes a 3.4 percent military pay increase and full funding for the Defense Health Program, and it caps F-22 Raptor production at 187 aircraft. For civilian workers, it ends the National Security Personnel System. It includes a base budget of $550.2 billion and $130 billion for overseas contingency operations.

Congress released the conference report Oct. 7. The full Senate and House must pass the conference report before the bill goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill includes $560 million to continue development and initial procurement of the alternate F136 engine for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended that the funding be struck, arguing development of the F135 engine – the main engine for the F-35 – is proceeding well and that any money spent of the F136 would be wasteful. House and Senate conferees still included the engine in the fiscal 2010 budget authorization. White House officials said it is up to the president whether to veto the legislation over the inclusion.

The bill authorizes payment of hostile fire pay, imminent danger pay, hazardous duty pay, assignment pay and skill incentive pay to be prorated to reflect actual qualifying service performed during the month.

The authorization bill is one of two bills needed for the Defense Department to spend money – the other being the appropriations bill, which is still in a Senate-House committee to resolve differences between the two chambers' versions.

The authorization bill includes end strengths of 562,000 for the Army,; 202,100 for the Marine Corps, 331,700 for the Air Force, and 328,000 for the Navy. The legislation authorizes an increase in active-duty Army end-strength of 30,000 in fiscal 2011 and 2012.

The bill authorizes $6.7 billion for all-terrain mine-resistant, ambushed protected vehicles, known as M-ATVs. The first of these vehicles have arrived in Afghanistan, with thousands more to be delivered under the new budget.

The authorization bill conference report has full funding for the Navy's Carrier Replacement Program, a Virginia-class submarine, a littoral combat ship, a DDG-1000 destroyer and the DDG-51 program. The bill includes $512 million for 18 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft and approves the full request for 22 EA-18G aircraft – an advanced electronic warfare plane named the Growler.

The bill authorizes $7.5 billion to train and equip the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, and provides oversight of the $700 million dedicated to building Pakistan's military, police and frontier corps, which guards Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. The authorization also allows for the transfer of defense property in Iraq to Iraqi security forces or Afghan security forces.

The bill kills the Multiple Kill Vehicle program and the second Airborne Laser platform. It applies savings from terminations in the Army's Future Combat System to other promising technologies and ensures these will spin out to Army brigades quickly.

The conference report repeals the authority for the National Security Personnel System and requires that affected employees transition to previously existing personnel systems. The authorization will provide new personnel flexibilities that include hiring, firing, assigning personnel and appraisals. The authorization also allows the secretary to propose other personnel flexibilities.

Gates to Welcome Chinese General

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 14, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will welcome China's second-ranking military officer to the nation's capital Oct. 24, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell announced here today. Gen. Xu Caihou will visit Washington and posts and bases throughout the United States during his trip, which will end Oct. 31, Morrell said.

Gates has been trying to foster a strategic dialogue between the two countries since visiting China two years ago. He especially wants military-to-military contacts to establish better trust and transparency, Morrell said.

Xu is to visit a number of U.S. military installations and organizations including the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; Fort Benning, Ga.; U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego; and U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu.

"It's been two years since the secretary visited China, and we have yet to have a reciprocal visit from what would essentially be his Chinese counterpart," Morrell said. "We are finally getting that with the arrival of General Xu later this month, and we are very much looking forward to that."

Better transparency and a more open dialogue leads to better understanding, Morrell said, and officials hope the visit will encourage China to be more transparent about its military spending.

"The more transparency there is, the more dialogue that goes on, the less chance there is for a misunderstanding between two very formidable powers on the world stage," he said.


Pond-TranSystems LLC, Norcross, Ga., is being awarded a maximum $30,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity architect/engineering contract for preparation of design-build request for proposals and 100 percent design services in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast area of responsibility (AOR). The work to be performed provides for architectural programming, geotechnical investigation, surveying, cost estimating and DD 1391 preparation. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities within the NAVFAC Southeast AOR including, but not limited to, Ga., (20 percent), S.C., (20 percent), Texas, (15 percent), La., (15 percent), Miss., (15 percent), and Ala., (15 percent), and is expected to be completed by Oct. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the NAVFAC e-solicitation website with 12 proposals received. The Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N69450-10-D-0001).

Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., Greenville, S.C., is being awarded a $6,770,916 cost-plus fixed-fee modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity multiple award contract (N00019-05-D-0013) for the procurement of lower wing Zone 5 material structures replacement for two P-3C aircraft. Work will be performed in Greenville, S.C., and is expected to be completed in June 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

ACE Engineering, Co., of La Verne, Calif., was awarded a $49,000,000 contract which will provide for multiple paving projects at Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, and Tonapah Test Range in Nevada. At this time, $100,000 has been obligated. 99 CONS/LGCA, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada is the contracting activity (FA4861-09-D-A010).

Boeing Launch Services of Huntington Beach, Calif., was awarded a $21,849,961 contract which will provide engineering development models for a family of advanced beyond-line-of sight terminals to allow for operational testing with production representative terminals. At this time, $1,310,821has been obligated. 653 ESW/PK, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (F19628-02-C-0048, P00171).

Sysco Nashville, LLC, Nashville, Tenn., is being awarded a maximum $17,546,917 fixed price with economic price adjustment, prime vendor contract for food and beverage support. Other locations of performance are the same. Using service is Army. This proposal was originally Web solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The date of performance completion is Apr. 13, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM300-08-D-3227).