Military News

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gates, Willard Seek More Engagement With China

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 21, 2009 - It's in the United States' long-term interest to engage more closely with China, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today, and his new top officer in the Pacific said he's looking forward to the role he hopes to play in the dialogue. Dialog between the two countries, particularly about China's military modernization efforts, will go a long way toward promoting transparency and "preventing miscalculations," Gates told a gathering of U.S. and South Korean troops here today.

It also can promote the kind of relationship required for the United States and China to work together to confront mutual security concerns, he said.

Gates cited China's important role in the six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "The Chinese have a similar interest in preventing destabilizing activities in the region as much as any of us," he said. "Our goal moving forward is to try to encourage China to grow its participation in internationally stabilizing activities."

Navy Adm. Robert M. Willard, who took the helm at U.S. Pacific Command just two days ago, said welcomes the role he'll play in promoting more dialogue and engagement with China.

China brought an abrupt halt to that interchange after the United States announced arms sales to Taiwan in October 2008, but slowly is showing interest in reengaging.

Chinese Gen. Xu Caihou, China's No. 2 military officer, will meet with Gates in Washington next week, but Willard said he wants more lower-level engagement throughout the military ranks as well. He expressed hope that these exchanges will engender trust and help to clear up some of the uncertainty – particularly about China's military buildup that's proceeded at "an unprecedented rate."

The United States isn't the only country that's taken notice, he said. "Our regional partners are somewhat uncertain about it," he said. "And one of my responsibilities is to seek to better the relations and the levels of understanding regarding intentions and regarding that military development."

Willard said he'd like to use the dialog as a way to "seek areas that we have in common and common interest in." He noted efforts China already is involved in or might want to contribute toward, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterpiracy in the Gulf of Aden, counterproliferation, and search-and-rescue and submarine rescue efforts.

Increased dialogue also could help to clear up differences in how the two countries interpret maritime law. It's caused some close calls when Chinese naval vessels tried to prevent U.S. ships from operating in international waters off its shores.

"[The Chinese] interpret military operations in their exclusive economic zone differently than we do – and differently, frankly, than the majority of countries do globally," Willard said.

"We are more than happy to sit down and have an adult discussion about our differences," Willard added, but he also said the United States isn't about to back down.

"The United States has operated in the maritime domain in this region of the world for 150 years, and we have no intention of doing differently," he said. "We very much exert our right to operate militarily and with our commercial ships in international water throughout the Asia-Pacific region."

Willard noted China's rise as an economic and world power, and said he welcomes the role it can play as a regional partner.

"China is not our enemy," he said. "We look forward to a constructive relationship with China, and their constructive contribution to the security of the Asia-Pacific region."

Pentagon Radio Volunteers Move to New Office

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 21, 2009 - A military institution designed to provide emergency communications has moved to new quarters in the Pentagon. John G. Grimes, the former assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, cut the ribbon on the new Military Affiliate Radio System office on the fifth floor of the Pentagon today.

The facility is packed with shortwave radios, radio-telephone patches, computers and data links. It is manned by the Pentagon Amateur Radio Club. "This is a great facility, manned totally by volunteers," Grimes said. "It's a crucial capability for our country."

The system - known by the acronym MARS - began in the early 1950s. It was a worldwide network of shortwave radio enthusiasts who would spring into action in the event of a nuclear war or natural disaster. Thousands of civilian and military ham radio volunteers manned the system.

"In the years before the Internet, deployed servicemembers kept in touch with families and friends using MARS," said Gary Sessums, a contractor in the Pentagon and one of the stalwarts of the radio club.

From the Korean War to the Gulf War, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines used "Marsgrams" to keep in touch. Ham radio operators called these "health and welfare" messages.

The shortwave broadcasts have been superseded by the Internet, and servicemembers in many parts of the U.S. Central Command area can use cell phones and voice over Internet protocol to speak with those back home. Still, in the event of an emergency, high-frequency communication is generally the first to recover, and even the most modern technology can get overloaded.

Allan Hubbert, a volunteer in the Pentagon, noted communication problems during President Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration as an example. "During the inauguration, there were so many people on cell phones that it overloaded the system," he said. "We could still operate, and helped back up the system down on the [National] Mall."

More than 60 volunteers help to man the Pentagon node of the system. They will turn out in force to help with communications for the Marine Corps Marathon, which will be held in the area this weekend. "In that case, we can help act as a bridge between the military and various local and regional agencies," said Navy Capt. Rich Low.

With more than 6,000 volunteers worldwide, the system now also backs up the Department of Homeland Security. "There have been many crises or disasters that have struck where the first word out of an area is via [shortwave radio], and someone has their little gas generator going," Grimes said. "That's not likely to change any time soon."

Association Names Military Families of Year

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 21, 2009 - Seven families, one from each of the uniformed services, have been selected as National Military Family Association's 2009 Military Families of the Year for the roles they play in their communities and the way they embrace the military lifestyle. "They're really all great," said Bailey Toombs, a National Military Family Association spokeswoman. "A lot of them are just really involved in the community and just go above and beyond."

The association serves the five branches of the armed forces as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service.

To be nominated, or to nominate themselves, families must be associated with one of the services or be the family of a fallen servicemember, Toombs said. Active duty, reserve components, and retiree families of the Army, Navy, Air Force Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, or the commissioned corps of NOAA or the Public Health Service also are eligible.

The seven families chosen to represent their services are:

-- Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Nolan and his family, of Fort Riley, Kan., are the Army Family of the Year. The family is active in its church, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as the children's school and Nolan's command.

-- Lt. j.g. Joshua Caldwell and his family, of Kailua, Hawaii, are the Navy Family of the Year. The Caldwells have overcome many obstacles to get to where they are today. They regularly volunteer in the community and help to support hospital patients, homeless veterans and disabled youth.

-- Sgt. Dennis Leanes and his family, of Camp Lejeune, N.C., are the Marine Corps Family of the Year. When the sergeant is deployed, his wife and children throw themselves into serving their community. According to the family, they "have learned not to define ourselves by our challenges, but by our accomplishments."

-- Master Sgt. Wayne and Tech. Sgt. Thane Ojala and their family, of Las Vegas, are the Air Force Family of the Year. The dual-military family volunteers and says, "It's a good feeling to know we're contributing to something greater than ourselves." They view the challenges of military life as an opportunity to become closer as a family.

-- Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Udland and his family, of Juneau, Alaska, are the Coast Guard Family of the Year. This family's passion is the Relay for Life fundraiser for cancer research. They've turned volunteering into a whole-family activity and love to spend time together exploring the wonderful activities that Juneau has to offer.

-- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Family of the Year Cmdr. Shep Smith and family, are stationed at Norfolk, Va. They like to travel, participate in a community theater group, and stay involved in the NOAA Corps community. The Smiths are active participants in the NOAA Officers Family Association, helping to keep their small community strong.

-- Public Health Service Family of the Year Cmdr. Dana Hall and the Horesh family, stationed at Overland Park, Kan., support local food banks because they are "working hard to teach our children that they have a responsibility to actively participate in the improvement of their community."

The National Military Family Association's National Military Family of the Year will be chosen from among these seven families and announced Oct. 28 in Washington. The announcement, and presentation of awards by the service chiefs, will be made as part of the organization's 40th anniversary celebration.

The National Military Family Association is a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening and protecting the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen. It provides families of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA with information, works to get them the benefits they deserve, and offers programs that improve their lives.

Defense Department to Compensate 'Stop Loss' Troops

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

Oct. 21, 2009 - The Defense Department will implement a new program this week to compensate former and current servicemembers for each month they involuntarily served from Sept. 11, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2009, a defense official said. Congress approved an appropriation bill last summer, giving the department $534 billion over the next year for an estimated 185,000 servicemembers affected by the "Stop Loss" authority since 9/11, said Sam Retherford, director for the department's officer and enlisted personnel management office.

In an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service, Retherford explained that qualified servicemembers will receive $500 for each month served past their contracted end-of-service, resignation or retirement date.

"Stop Loss is very difficult," he said. "Members have obligations and have intended periods of service, then they have plans for themselves and their families afterward. So we're doing everything we can to discontinue the use of this authority and compensate our members."

Survivors of servicemembers killed in combat or who died after their service will be allowed to make claims. Retherford said those families are entitled to the compensation and shouldn't be forgotten. "We've asked the services to go out there and identify those who've passed away subsequent to their military service or in the conflict," he said.

Those seeking claims have until Oct. 20, 2010 to do so. The services were directed to develop their own online application process and Web sites defining criteria, as well as their systems for seeking out those who qualify and may have lost contact with their service, he said.

Here's where to get information from each service:

-- Army: https://www.stoplosspay.army.mil or e-mail to RetroStopLossPay@conus.army.mil

-- Navy: E-mail to NXAG_N132C@navy.mil

-- Air Force: http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/stoploss/

-- Marine Corps: https://www.manpower.usmc.mil/stoploss or e-mail to stoploss@usmc.mil

Servicemembers must have been discharged honorably, and have sufficient documents proving their case. Servicemembers who were affected by Stop Loss, but later decided to extend or re-enlist also qualify.

"You'll have to submit documentation to show that you were Stop Lossed -- certificate of discharge, separation orders, retirement orders, memoranda from previous commanders or organizations," Retherford said. "Even if you don't have all the correct documentation, we encourage you to submit and articulate the claim, because the service may have the documentation."

The process shouldn't be difficult for most applying for claims. The military departments will verify eligibility to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. "So all the work will be done right up front," Retherford said. "All DFAS will have to do is issue payment."

For those who don't have documents and believe they should qualify, the department included a provision in the policy memorandum that allows them to make their case through a memo from their former chain of command.

Locating former servicemembers and survivors is the most challenging aspect of the program, Retherford said, and the program was designed with that in mind. The department tasks each service to develop its own initiatives to seek out those who qualify.

"Getting the word out is our No. 1 challenge," Retherford said. "Many are former members. Many have no obligation to the military anymore and are scattered across the world right now. Getting the word out for people to solicit the claim is our first challenge."

The retroactive special pay isn't an official end to the Stop Loss authority, but the department plans to phase out its use in fiscal 2011. The department retains the authority in case of a national emergency.

"In this case, we've been frustrated in our attempts to minimize Stop Loss because of the persistent and dynamic nature of the conflict," Retherford said. "The secretary of defense has already established a plan, and we've reduced Stop Loss significantly."

New Command Center Adds to Collaboration

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 21, 2009 - At the U.S. military nerve center responsible for coordinating the deployment of troops and equipment downrange, the neurons are likely to fire faster with the addition of a new, state-of-the-art facility. U.S. Joint Forces Command's dual-use Joint Deployment and Maritime Operations Centers adds a piece to the military's force management puzzle that ultimately will make combatant commands more effective, officials said. It also represents another step in an eight-year process of transforming the apparatus for commanding joint forces.

"This new facility and its attendant automation and connectivity will greatly assist Joint Forces Command and the components in further improving its effectiveness and transparency amongst all of these different staffs," retired Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. Giambastiani is a former commander of Joint Forces Command who later served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The 49,000-square-foot facility that houses the Joint Forces Command's Joint Deployment Center and U.S. Fleet Forces Command Maritime Operations Center boasts cutting-edge technology that allows for more efficient collaboration among all the moving parts involved in tracking and deploying U.S. troops and ships.

The center is a marvel of ergonomics, with lighting and acoustics specially designed to reduce anxiety in the high-stress environment. And in the spirit of military jointness, the adjacent Joint Forces Command and the Navy's Fleet Forces Command crisis response centers housed within the facility are separated only by a single removable wall.

"The important piece is collaboration," Giambastiani said. "They're working with all four service components. You've got to be able to do this virtually and the collaboration part is really quite impressive.

"The ability to be able to work around the world with the other service components and know the status and be transparent among all of those is incredibly important for them to be able to do their job properly," he said.

Navy Rear Adm. Gerald R. Beaman, deputy chief of staff for global force management and joint operations at Fleet Forces Command, said the center represents much more than an example of architectural ingenuity.

"What you see in front of you today is a vast improvement over the previous space," he said. "This is a state-of-the art technological facility in which we are able to direct maritime operations and collaborate with our joint interagency and multinational partners."

For Giambastiani, today's keynote speaker, the new center is the culmination of a vision of global U.S. force management that he helped to develop during his Navy career. In 2001, when he worked as a senior military assistant to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Gambastiani said, Defense Department leaders discussed the need have a single source for conventional forces.

Following the attack of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing war in Afghanistan, department officials decided to create a place for one-stop shopping for conventional forces across the entire armed forces, including National Guard and Reserve components as well as active duty, he said.

Recalling the U.S. invasion of Taliban-led Afghanistan eight years ago this month, Giambastiani said the newly aligned Joint Forces Command received its first request for forces.

"The staff today here, eight years later, is working on request for forces No. 1,060," he said of the sequential requests. "But what does this mean really, that we've gone from 1 to 1,060? To put a face on it, on average, [Joint Forces Command] and its forward service components deploy, get ready, equip and send out for operations 300,000 personnel a year and about 250,000 short tons of equipment a year."

Further describing the past eight years of transformation, Giambastiani compared the amount of personnel and equipment Joint Forces Command oversees to the moving of an entire city in a year.

"Now that sounds big if it was just a single city. But the fact of the matter is that these folks and the service components are not only doing it at large-unit levels, but they're doing it at individual levels," he said, referring to the intense level of management involved in identifying individual troops with specific deployable skills.

Compared to 2001, when the command operated with 60 days in advance of expected needs, it now operates 18 months in advance, he added.

"About 70 percent [of military personnel] are married [and] have families," he said. "And knowing where you're going and when you're coming back [and having] the ability to be able to schedule and think about that, just on a family basis, is incredibly important."

Giambastiani reiterated the role of collaboration in achieving the goals of force management.

"Successfully accomplishing this task requires very extensive connectivity and collaboration capability amongst all four of the service components, [Joint Forces Command], and also with the other [combatant commands] and the Joint Staff in Washington," he said.

Defense Department to Compensate 'Stop Loss' Troops

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

Oct. 21, 2009 - The Defense Department will implement a new program this week to compensate former and current servicemembers for each month they involuntarily served from Sept. 11, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2009, a defense official said. Congress approved an appropriation bill last summer, giving the department $534 million over the next year for an estimated 185,000 servicemembers affected by the "Stop Loss" authority since 9/11, said Sam Retherford, director for the department's officer and enlisted personnel management office.

In an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service, Retherford explained that qualified servicemembers will receive $500 for each month served past their contracted end-of-service, resignation or retirement date.

"Stop Loss is very difficult," he said. "Members have obligations and have intended periods of service, then they have plans for themselves and their families afterward. So we're doing everything we can to discontinue the use of this authority and compensate our members."

Survivors of servicemembers killed in combat or who died after their service will be allowed to make claims. Retherford said those families are entitled to the compensation and shouldn't be forgotten. "We've asked the services to go out there and identify those who've passed away subsequent to their military service or in the conflict," he said.

Those seeking claims have until Oct. 20, 2010 to do so. The services were directed to develop their own online application process and Web sites defining criteria, as well as their systems for seeking out those who qualify and may have lost contact with their service, he said.

Here's where to get information from each service:

-- Army: https://www.stoplosspay.army.mil or e-mail to RetroStopLossPay@conus.army.mil

-- Navy: E-mail to NXAG_N132C@navy.mil

-- Air Force: http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/stoploss/

-- Marine Corps: https://www.manpower.usmc.mil/stoploss or e-mail to stoploss@usmc.mil

Servicemembers must have been discharged honorably, and have sufficient documents proving their case. Servicemembers who were affected by Stop Loss, but later decided to extend or re-enlist also qualify.

"You'll have to submit documentation to show that you were Stop Lossed -- certificate of discharge, separation orders, retirement orders, memoranda from previous commanders or organizations," Retherford said. "Even if you don't have all the correct documentation, we encourage you to submit and articulate the claim, because the service may have the documentation."

The process shouldn't be difficult for most applying for claims. The military departments will verify eligibility to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. "So all the work will be done right up front," Retherford said. "All DFAS will have to do is issue payment."

For those who don't have documents and believe they should qualify, the department included a provision in the policy memorandum that allows them to make their case through a memo from their former chain of command.

Locating former servicemembers and survivors is the most challenging aspect of the program, Retherford said, and the program was designed with that in mind. The department tasks each service to develop its own initiatives to seek out those who qualify.

"Getting the word out is our No. 1 challenge," Retherford said. "Many are former members. Many have no obligation to the military anymore and are scattered across the world right now. Getting the word out for people to solicit the claim is our first challenge."

The retroactive special pay isn't an official end to the Stop Loss authority, but the department plans to phase out its use in fiscal 2011. The department retains the authority in case of a national emergency.

"In this case, we've been frustrated in our attempts to minimize Stop Loss because of the persistent and dynamic nature of the conflict," Retherford said. "The secretary of defense has already established a plan, and we've reduced Stop Loss significantly."

Event Salutes Severely Disabled Employees

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 21, 2009 - Senior Defense Department officials recognized the work and contributions made by disabled contract employees during a ceremony held at the Pentagon conference center yesterday. The department employs about 33,000 severely disabled civilians, and it added more than 1,600 severely disabled employees to its work force under the AbilityOne Program in fiscal 2009, said Shay Assad, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology.

The AbilityOne Program, formerly known as the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act, is a federal initiative that works with private and public organizations to generate employment opportunities for Americans who are blind or who have other severe disabilities. More than 40,000 people work under the program, including more than 2,000 wounded military veterans.

The department conducted about $1.5 billion in contracted business as part of the AbilityOne Program, Assad said. "That's a significant accomplishment in today's economic environment," he added.

The Pentagon's AbilityOne ceremony is held in October in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, said ceremony host Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

"I'm proud to be honoring you today for your dedicated service to this department," Carter told the award recipients. "There is no doubt that AbilityOne Program employees are vital to the military industrial base and contribute to the [Defense Department] mission here at the Pentagon."

AbilityOne employees produce quality office products as well as military goods, and also provide essential services used throughout the department and by warfighters, Carter said.

AbilityOne employees who received the Defense Department Award for Excellent Performance include:

-- Louis Miller, 53. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Miller performs stocking and maintenance work at the Pentagon.

-- Nicholas Moreno, 26. Diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome, Moreno performs custodial work at the Pentagon.

-- Keith Tyson, 37. Legally blind, Tyson performs stocking and other duties at the office supply center at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.

"I never could find a job until I found out about the AbilityOne Program," Tyson said. "I really enjoy working where I am now."

It's a good feeling, Miller said, "to know that there's support" that assists severely disabled people in finding employment.

The AbilityOne Program, Moreno said, "helps people like us with disabilities to find a good job in the community and it helps people to be on their own."

The ceremony also honored defense managers who support AbilityOne, as well as a private enterprise long associated with the military.

The Osborne A. "Oz" Day AbilityOne Awareness Award went to Frank J. Anderson Jr., the director for acquisition, technology and logistics human capital initiatives and president of the Defense Acquisition University. The DAU recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the AbilityOne program. Day, who died May 20, 2008, was a private-citizen member of the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, the federal agency that oversees AbilityOne operations.

The committee, along with the National Industries for the Blind, and NISH, formerly known as National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, form a triad of support for AbilityOne. The present committee chairman, Andrew D. Houghton, has headed the body since July 2006. He praised the department for its support of AbilityOne.

"We wouldn't be here today if it was not for the support of the Department of Defense and the military," Houghton said, noting the Pentagon has "raised the bar" for its employment of people with severe disabilities.

Other award recipients honored at the ceremony include:

-- Acquisition Excellence Award: Sean Murphy and Stephen Abate, procurement officials at the U.S. Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command Acquisition Center in Natick, Mass., awarded a $15.4 million contract to Industries of the Blind, to manufacture neck pads that protect a combat soldier's neck from shrapnel.

-- Acquisition Excellence Award: The Army Public Works Project Team at Fort Polk, La., worked to let a $18 million contract with an AbilityOne-affiliated nonprofit agency that will provide 91 full-time jobs for people with disabilities.

-- Exceptional Industry Contribution Award: The Boeing Co. office in Chicago was recognized as a long-time industry leader in partnering with the AbilityOne program.

After the award presentations, Carter introduced the ceremony's keynote speaker, former California National Guardsman Alvin Ramlu.

Ramlu recalled thinking that he "needed a new plan" for his life after suffering severe injuries from a suicide-bomb blast and rocket attack during his service as an Army specialist three years ago in Afghanistan.

Ramlu's three-vehicle convoy encountered an enemy ambush on June 3, 2006. He pulled two injured comrades to safety during the attack and received the Combat Action Badge, but felt there was something wrong with him.

"I started realizing that something was not right; anxiety was turning me into a different person," Ramlu said, noting he'd been notified around that time that his grandmother had suffered a stroke.

Ramlu, now 29, was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and several other injuries after he returned stateside in March 2007. He was medically retired.

Today, Ramlu helps fellow veterans at his job as a switchboard operator at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Mather, Calif. He was hired through an AbilityOne contract offered by the nonprofit Project HIRED.

"I'm learning something new every day," Ramlu said, noting he is preparing to take a new job at the veterans' hospital in Palo Alto to be closer to his home in San Mateo. The AbilityOne Program "gave me a chance," he said. "I have so much gratitude ... I'm able to support me and my family."

Employees hired under the AbilityOne program also work at military base dining facilities and perform laundry, digital imaging, as well as office supply and grounds maintenance services.

AbilityOne program employees also make military equipment such as canteens, chemical-protective suits, portable water carriers, and more, said Stephanie Lesko, a spokeswoman for the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.

"We make a variety of products for the military," Lesko said as she displayed a portable water carrier. "Everything here was made by people with severe disabilities."

MILITARY CONTRACTS October 21, 2009

Missile Defense Agency
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors, Moorestown, N.J., is being awarded a Cost-Plus-Incentive-Fee / Cost-Plus-Award-Fee contract with a total value of $1,034,550,502. The contract is for Lockheed Martin to serve as the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Combat System engineering agent and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System design, development and computer program source for Aegis cruisers and destroyers. Work is to be performed in Moorestown, N.J. The period of performance is from Oct. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2014. FY 09 Research, development, test and evaluation funding will be used to incrementally fund this effort for $15,207,030. The Missile Defense Agency, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

NAVY
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is being awarded a $79,452,144 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) to exercise an option for additional class services associated with the detail design and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer. This work will provide technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detailed design to support construction and the maintenance of a safe and operable ship design. Work will be performed in Bath, Maine, and is expected to be completed by November 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Cianbro Corp., Pittsfield, Maine, is being awarded a $19,528,000 firm-fixed-price contract for Drydock 2 caisson and sill repairs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The work to be performed includes construction of a temporary cofferdam to allow demolition and reconstruction of the sill structures; the addition of rock anchors and dowels to existing sill and wing walls in order to stabilize them in dewatered conditions; phased demolition of the existing granite masonry blocks and concrete bedding; phased demolition of existing sill structures, including caisson sill armoring; and construction of a reinforced concrete sill structure with two seats, each to be capable of superflood operations, anchored to the bedrock with rock anchors. Work will be performed in Kittery, Maine, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 2010. 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 two proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N40085-10-C-9401).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., is being awarded a $16,972,005 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-07-D-0004) to exercise an option for the VH-3D/VH060N executive helicopter special progressive aircraft rework. Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., and is expected to be completed in September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $16,972,005 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
United Technologies, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a maximum $11,058,501 firm fixed price, sole source, indefinite quantity contract for price redetermination for 536 items. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Navy and Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is a ten-year, corporate contract with a three-year base period and provisions for seven one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is Feb. 14, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., (SPM400-01-D-9405).

ARMY
BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems LP., Sealy, Texas, was awarded in Oct. 19, 2009 a $6,653,743 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the system technical support/system sustainment technical support services in support of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. This modification will fund milstd/technical manual efforts. Work is to be performed in Sealy, Texas, with an estimated completion date of May 7, 2012. One bid solicited with one bid received. TACOM, AMSCC-TAC-ADCA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-C-0454).

Obama Recognizes Cavalry Troop for Vietnam Gallantry

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

Oct. 20, 2009 - President Barack Obama today paid a long-overdue tribute to the Vietnam War-era soldiers of Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. Obama awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the nation's highest award for a military unit, for the troop's actions March 26, 1970, in Vietnam. Eighty-six former soldiers who served in Alpha Troop then were on hand for the ceremony, and although it's been nearly four decades since many of them served, Obama said, the heroism they displayed will never be forgotten.

"Welcome to a moment nearly 40 years in the making," Obama said. "These men might be a little bit older, a little bit grayer, but make no mistake -- these soldiers define the meaning of bravery and heroism."

Without concern for their own safety, the soldiers of Alpha Troop tended to the rescue of a company of fellow soldiers heavily outnumbered by the North Vietnamese army. The company of only 100 or so soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division came across an underground bunker of around 400 North Vietnamese troops and was at risk of being overrun.

Alpha Troop soldiers heard the situation over their radio and quickly assembled. Their commander gave the order: "Saddle up and move out," Obama said, and the soldiers plowed their way through the jungle.

"These men will tell you themselves, this isn't the story of a battle that changed the course of the war. ... But like countless battles, known and unknown, it is a proud chapter in the story of the American soldier," he said. "It's a story of resolve. For Alpha Troop could have simply evacuated their comrades and left that enemy bunker for another day to ambush another American unit. But their captain said, 'That's not what the 11th Cavalry does.'"

The president praised the 200 men of Alpha Troop, calling their valiant actions "a story of what soldiers do, not only for their country, but for each other."

Those soldiers put themselves in the line of fire and continued fighting, even when one of their own was wounded, he said. About 20 members of Alpha Troop were wounded that day, and at least two were killed. Nevertheless, they continued their mission and rescued the company.

"[Alpha Troop] saved those 100 American soldiers," Obama said. "And those soldiers went on to have families -- children and grandchildren who also owe their lives to Alpha Troop."

Despite the decades that have passed, Obama said, it's never too late to recognize heroism. "Why honor this heroism now?" he asked. "The answer is simple: Because we must -- because we have a sacred obligation as a nation to this troop."

Obama said the nation has an obligation to all who served in Vietnam. Many were shunned and neglected when they came home, the president said, and he pledged never to let that sort of "national disgrace" occur again.

"Many of our Vietnam vets put away their medals, rarely spoke of their service, and moved on," he said. "All of you carry the memories, and so I say, 'It's never too late; we can never say enough.'

"I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to these men who fought in what came to be called the 'Anonymous Battle,'" he continued. "Troopers, you are not anonymous any more. And with America's overdue recognition also comes responsibility – our responsibility as citizens and as a nation to always remain worthy of your service."

First Lady Notes VA's Road of Change

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 20, 2009 - First Lady Michelle Obama expressed gratitude for Veterans Affairs employees and their dedication during a visit to the department today. She also encouraged them not to waiver in their dedication to the country's veterans.

"We are at the beginning of a long road of change, and we're going to need every single one of you feeling the kind of passion and engagement when times are good and when times get tough," Obama said.

Some of that change already has begun, she added.

On Oct. 22, Obama noted, the president will keep a campaign promise by signing into law the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act.

"After all, our veterans' unwavering belief in this country is what inspired them to serve in the first place," the first lady said. "They deserve our unwavering support in return. They deserve the care that they were promised, and they deserve the benefits that they earned."

In addition, she noted, the budget the president submitted includes the largest single-year percentage increase in VA funding in three decades. The administration is expanding VA health coverage to 500,000 more veterans who previously had been denied, she added.

The number of veterans centers is growing as well, Obama said, as is the number of mobile health clinics, which will expand health care to rural areas.

"This administration put a new focus on the new care required for today's wars – injuries like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury," she said. There also have been new commitments to ending homelessness among veterans – something she called a "moral outrage."

The first lady also said she wanted to impress upon Veterans Affairs employees just how much she and the president value them.

"It's just important for you to know that the president and I are proud of you, just as proud as we are of the men and women who serve this country, the people that you serve," she said. "Many of you have been devoting your lives to this work. You've spent decades, especially the people who are standing behind me ... working in the VA or working for the federal government longer than I've been alive.

"And we are grateful to all of you for your long service," Obama said.

And that was the reason at the heart of her visit, she said.

"One of the reasons why I do this is because so often federal employees feel under-appreciated," Obama said. "You often get a lot of the blame, but sometimes none of the thanks.

"My simple job is to say thank you, because the job that you do is a big one," she added. "It's huge, particularly for the men and women in uniform who serve or have served."

Veterans Affairs Secretary Erik K. Shinseki said he was pleased to have the first lady pay his agency a visit.

"We're so very proud to welcome our Lafayette Park neighbor to our house, here on Vermont Avenue," he said. "Her commitment to the men and women who serve and have served to safeguard our way of life is everywhere evident. Her advocacy for the [servicemembers] and those who marched in their own time, our veterans, and all of their families, is clear, sincere and genuinely from deep in her heart."

Before the first lady made her remarks, she spent time talking with hundreds of Veterans Affairs employees. Some of the longest-serving – at least one with 40-plus years of service – stood with her while she addressed the formal gathering.

MILITARY CONTRACTS October 20, 2009

ARMY
Sevenson Environmental Services, Inc., Niagara Falls, N.Y., was awarded on Oct. 15, 2009 a $17,641,805 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the remediation of the Blackwater Street and Floodplain, Route 55 to the Maurice River Parkway, Vineland Chemical Superfund Site, Operable Unit 3, Phase III Work, Vineland, N.J. Work is to be performed in Vineland, N.J., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (W912DQ-04-D-0023).

NAVY
Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc., Newport News, Va., is being awarded $7,000,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2100) for planned and growth supplemental work for the accomplishment of the fiscal year 2008 extended drydocking selected restricted availability (EDSRA) of USS Enterprise (CVN 65). EDSRAs are similar to an overhaul in that it will restore the ship, including all subsystems that affect combat capability and safety, to established performance standards. This will also provides an opportunity to perform hull inspections and recoating, and other maintenance related evolutions below the waterline that cannot be accomplished while the ship is waterborne. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be completed by January 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $7,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

McHugh Puts Soldiers, Families at Center of Agenda

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 20, 2009 - Getting the Army's personnel aspects right is the most important job for its leaders, Army Secretary John M. McHugh said today. McHugh took office Sept. 21.

In many ways the Army is doing well, but more needs to be done as the service begins a ninth year at war, the secretary said during an interview in his Pentagon office.

Soldiers are performing their missions extraordinarily well, but they and their families are under enormous stress, McHugh said.

"I think the Army has done significant work in recognizing the challenges that have evolved over those eight years - everything from dwell time [at home stations between deployments] to the need to make more robust family support programs," he said.

The former congressman represented the upstate New York district that includes Fort Drum. He also served as ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. In that job, he made 14 trips to visit servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said it's a great honor to serve as Army secretary, and he is familiar with the challenges facing the service.

"Where appropriate, we want to focus on those initiatives that have been put into place," he said, "and continue to strive to identify others that can complete the job that I think all of us in this building understand."

Deployments are front and center with McHugh. He noted that Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has done a lot of work on this so that currently, active duty soldiers spend a year deployed and about a year and a half at their home station before deploying again.

"[Casey's] plan is over the next few years to reach that 1-to-2 [ratio], and ideally over a much longer term, 1-to-3 for the active component and an ideal of 1-to-5 for the reserve components," McHugh said.

This will not happen overnight, he acknowledged. And like any plan, he added, it is subject to change and the issues of supply and demand. The plan will be affected by the situation in Iraq and, possibly, Afghanistan, the secretary said. If progress in Iraq continues, the command there can draw down forces faster. If President Barack Obama decides to add forces to Afghanistan, this also affects the dwell-time calculus, he said.

The service also is looking at the number of deployments soldiers make. Some soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have deployed four or five times. "We can't really consider number of deployments, but how they are dispersed across time," McHugh said.

The operational and personnel tempo of the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan clearly were unacceptable, McHugh said. But recruiting and retention numbers also tell a story. The Army is an all-volunteer force, he noted, and soldiers who enlist know they are going to be deployed to a war zone.

"Everyone who is re-upping understands that," he said. "They have already been [deployed], and they are likely to go again, and yet the [re-enlistment] numbers are good."

McHugh said he always thanks new recruits when he meets them. "It's an all-volunteer military, and it does an amazing job, but it can't do it without people like you," he said he tells new soldiers.

The retention rate suggests to leaders that soldiers are willing to carry the burden. "But that's not enough; it can't be enough for us," McHugh said. "The issue is not can we do something - can we pile on more deployments, with short dwell times - but should we? And the answer is no."

Regardless of how many soldiers are willing to step forward and do it again, "we want to make sure there's time for folks to come home, get their feet back on the ground, spend time with their families and enjoy life," he said. "That means extending those periods of dwell."

McHugh and Casey discussed this recently, and if Iraq continues in a positive direction, then the service can continue to extend the dwell time at home, the secretary said.

"I think that, more than anything, is what the troops and their families want," he said. "The chief has set goals, and as long as we are progressing toward them, that keeps the faith, and that's what we're all working to do."

The service isn't looking at a limit on the number of deployments a soldier can make, McHugh said. "Rather, [we're looking at] constructing a responsible balance and support paradigm that is reasonable and well-tolerated."

McHugh said reserve-component soldiers and the support the service provides them and their families has come a long way since 2001. "The Guard and Reserve are an irreplaceable part of the operating force, and we've made a lot of progress in resourcing them on that basis," he said.
"But there are still a lot of gaps, and [we're] still working it."

McHugh said when he gets off the plane to visit troops he cannot tell the difference between active duty and reserve-component soldiers. "I suspect the attitude of the regular Army about the reserves has changed as well. And that's all for the good," he said.

The reserve-component soldiers - coming from every city, town and hamlet - also help to connect the Army to the nation, he said.

Defense Department officials are looking at the right size of the force as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review due out in January, McHugh said. "Is the Army the right size?" he asked. "There's no perfect answer to that question," he said, "because its predicated on knowing ... what is tomorrow going to look like? If we knew that, life would be a lot easier," he said.

"What we're trying to do is come to a reasonable baseline for end-strength, but equally important is to modernize the forces and reshape it to be able to respond to the broadest set of challenges," McHugh explained. "Budgets come and go, they rise and fall. We've got to ensure we have a strategy that provides a modern force, that's well-equipped, well-trained and able to go out there and meet the enemy whoever that enemy might be."

Communicating with soldiers and families is an imperative for the service. "We have to communicate in ways that our people communicate," he said. "In this world of tweeting and YouTube and Facebook, we need to get into that. We need to use these new means of communications that our soldiers and their families use to let them know what's available, demystify it and tell them how to participate."

The Army can't help soldiers and families if they don't know about programs, he noted. "[We] can't help them if they don't hear about it, [and] can't help them if they don't understand it," he said. The secretary said he wants all soldiers to understand the range of options and opportunities that exist in today's military. "This is a place where you can get the most relevant training on the most modern platforms and the educational opportunities of a lifetime," he said.

Finally, solders and families have to know what programs are out there to help them, and "what the Army family is ready, willing and anxious to do for them," he said.

"From the moment that they join the Army," he said, "they are a part of a team that cares, and that there's help for them whatever the challenge they've got in their lives."

Gates to Urge Japan to Stand By Existing Security Pacts

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 20, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he looks forward to building on the strong U.S.-Japan security relationship during his meetings here with the new Japanese government, but that he plans to urge its leaders to leave intact security arrangements that have been years in the making. Gates, the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit since the new Japanese Democratic Party government took office last month, told reporters he understands Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's interest in reviewing certain policies. "President [Barack] Obama's administration has done the same thing," he said.

But during his meeting today with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, and tomorrow's sessions with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, Gates said he would urge the new leaders to leave existing security agreements in place.

"We are committed to advancing and implementing our agreed alliance transformation agenda," Gates told Okada today at the Foreign Ministry.

At issue is Hatoyama's interest in re-examining the 2006 U.S.-Japan Roadmap for Realignment and Implementation, which outlines a major strategic repositioning of alliance forces.

The agreement includes plans to move thousands of U.S. forces from southern Okinawa, consolidate numerous bases, build a new runway to the north at Camp Schwab to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and relocate 8,000 Marines and their families to Guam.

Ultimately, the plan would relocate U.S. servicemembers from the heavily populated southern part of Okinawa and reduce the Marine troops on Okinawa from 18,000 to 10,000, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell explained. The deadline for the plan to be implemented is 2014 -- "a very ambitious goal" that's achievable, he said, but only if it continues moving forward on schedule.

Gates told reporters during the flight here the security agreements can't be picked apart piece by piece.

"This has been a negotiation in the works for 15 years," he said. "All of the elements of it are interlocking, and so it is important to continue with it."

The agreement is highly complex, the result of extensive negotiations that resolved numerous strategic, military and political issues, a senior defense official traveling with Gates told reporters. "If one starts into minor adjustments, it's not a minor adjustment," he said. "It becomes a cascading series of other decisions that have to be made."

Gates said options being voiced to change agreed-upon plans – from changing the location of the proposed runway at Camp Schwab to cancelling its construction altogether and moving Futenma's operations to Kadena Air Base -- simply won't work.

"We've looked over the years at all these alternatives, and they are either politically untenable or operationally unworkable, so we need to proceed with the agreement as negotiated," Gates said. "There really ... are no alternatives to the arrangement that was negotiated."

Not going forward as previously agreed to would have a ripple effect, Gates said.

"It is hard for me to believe that the [U.S.] Congress would support going forward in Guam without real progress with respect to the Futenma replacement facility," he said.

Ultimately, Gates said he has "every confidence" that both the United States and Japan "will fulfill the commitments they have made in this agreement" as they work toward strengthening their bilateral relationship.

"I think there are some real opportunities going forward," he said, with "further cooperation and partnership with one of our strongest allies."

During his meeting today with Okada, Gates called the upcoming 50th anniversary of the treaty of mutual cooperation and security between the United States and Japan an appropriate time to recognize "all we have achieved together, and more importantly, all that we will accomplish together in the future."

Troops in Djibouti Get Improved Conditions

By Christen McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 20, 2009 - Officials at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, are working to improve the quality of life and facilities for more than 20 tenant commands there, including Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, the camp's commanding officer said yesterday. "Our goals [are] to be the best we can for our tenant commands; we don't want [servicemembers] to worry about quality of life so that they can focus on their mission," Navy Capt. Bill Finn said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable.

Camp Lemonnier falls under the administrative chain of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia and Navy Installations Command. Finn discussed projects and plans that include improving the level of support for servicemembers, base tenants, and Djiboutians who use Camp Lemonnier, along with quality-of-life improvement projects.

The effort is helping operations transition from an expeditionary environment to a more enduring one by providing better infrastructure that allows people working or living in temporary facilities such as containers and tents have more long-term environments, he said.

Infrastructure projects under way or being planned include an aircraft taxiway and apron and hangar upgrades. Quality-of-life improvement projects include a new galley, more laundry facilities, a new recreation center and a larger chapel.

Camp Lemonnier supports the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa as it develops security and conducts training while countering violent extremism, Finn said. An important part of the mission, he added, is the "three D's" -- diplomacy, development and defense. "We like to say the defense part is a small "d," he said.

The strategy is part of an overall U.S. government approach to help African nations by playing a supporting role while local governments develop solutions to key issues.

Part of the goal is to help Djibouti by ensuring Camp Lemonnier is a contributor to the local economy, Finn said. More than 1,000 local residents work on the camp daily, he noted. "And we are very proud of that number," the captain added. Camp officials work with the government and local chamber of commerce to make the most of local resources, he said.

"This is a great mission ... that the U.S. military and government have out here in Djibouti," he said. "As you know, this is a part of world that has a lot of challenges, and what we are trying to do in an indirect way is to gain the confidence and help the Africans solve their own issues with a little bit of help from us."

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

MILITARY CONTRACTS October 19, 2009

NAVY
Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc., Monroeville, Pa., is being awarded a $523,530,301 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for naval nuclear propulsion components. Work will be performed in Monroeville, Pa., (67 percent); Schenectady, N.Y., (33 percent). Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. No completion date or additional information is provided on naval nuclear propulsion program contracts. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-2119).

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Inc., Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $12,104,240 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-4404) for the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) fiscal 2010 Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). A PIA provides for an extensive renovation and modernization of an aircraft carrier, including alterations and repairs as well as inspection and testing to all ships systems and components ensuring safe and dependable operation of the ship. Work will be performed in San Diego and is expected to be completed by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $12,104,240 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, San Diego is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, is being awarded a $10,063,637 firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N68335-06-G-0024) for the procurement of 133 pieces of "O" level support equipment for the emerging F/A-18 E/F squadron stand-ups at the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center, Fallon, Nev., and the Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. This effort will support the F/A-18 C/D transition to the F/A-18 E/F for the VFA-195 and VFA-86 squadrons. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be completed in August 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $10,063,637 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J. is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
US Foodservice, Fairburn, Ga., is being awarded a maximum $32,831,453.55 fixed price with economic price adjustment, for food and beverage support. Using services are the Army and Air Force. Originally Web solicited with one response, contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year with a performance completion of Oct. 16, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (SPM300-09-D-3324).

Reinhart Foodservice, LLC, a division of Reinhart Foodservice, Valdosta, Ga., is being awarded a maximum $22,785,750.34 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery contract for full line food service distribution. Using service is the Navy. Originally Web solicited with three responses, contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year with a performance completion of Oct. 16, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (SPM300-10-D-3316).

SNC Telecommunication, LLC*, Comerio, Puerto Rico, is being awarded a maximum $15,376,000 firm fixed price, total set aside contract for duffel bags. Other location of performance is Orocovis, Puerto Rico. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Originally one proposal 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 Sept. 28, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (SPM1C1-09-D-0014).

Sysco Foodservice, Calera, Ala., is being awarded a maximum $15,000,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, for food and beverage service. Using services are the Air Force, Army, and Navy. Originally Web solicited with one response, contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 16, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (SPM300-09-D-3325).

Burlington Apparel Fabrics, a division of Burlington Industries, LLC, Greensboro, N.C., is being awarded a maximum $6,553,000 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery contract for fabric. Other locations of performance are Hoke County, N.C., and Richmond County, N.C. Using service is the Air Force. There were originally 65 proposals solicited with two responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 20, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (SP0100-05-D-0516).

Mindray DS USA, Inc., Mahwah, N.J., is being awarded a maximum $5,969,605 firm fixed price, total set aside contract for patient monitoring systems, subsystems, accessories, consumables, spare/repair parts and training. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There was originally 17 proposal solicited with nine responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 18, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (SPM2D1-09-D8352).

Keating Passes Pacom Torch to Willard

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 19, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided over a change-of-command ceremony here today as Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating passed the U.S. Pacific Command helm to Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard. Willard assumed command of the 250,000-member command that includes all military forces in the Asia-Pacific region during a ceremony at Pacom headquarters, high on a hillside overlooking Pearl Harbor.

It was a stirring ceremony with ship's bells and a boatswain's pipe announcing the arrival of the official party, followed by a 19-gun salute. Jim Nabors sang the national anthem and Ciana Pelekai, the Hawaii state song.

Gates lauded Keating's 42-year naval career in the cockpit, on land and at sea. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Keating is an F-18 Hornet pilot with 5,000 flight hours and 1,200 landings on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

But he also distinguished himself on land, as commander at U.S. Northern Command, Gates said. Recognizing his accomplishments there, as well as his "unique skills and strategic vision," the secretary said, he recommended Keating for his most important assignment at the oldest and largest U.S. combatant command.

Pacom's area of responsibility stretches across 36 nations that include more than half the world's population, and that represent more than $1 trillion in annual trade with the United States.

"Leading a military organization in this part of the world requires a deft touch, a diplomat's sensibilities, a scholar's sense of the past and a commercial tycoon's business savvy," Gates said. "Admiral Keating has provided all of that and more."

Gates ticked off some of Pacom's challenges: complex national and international agreements, relations and rivalries; vast distances within its boundaries; the ever-present danger of manmade and natural disasters; and the threat of international terrorism, among them.

"The relative stability of the region belies the historic, economic and cultural rip currents that exist just below the visible surface," he said.

Keating has visited 29 of the 36 countries within Pacom since taking command two and a half years ago, fostering long-standing alliances along with new partnerships with other nations, Gates noted.

That outreach took him to Japan a dozen times, the Philippines about six times, Indonesia three times and China and India twice. Keating said he had hoped to visit China more frequently, a goal foiled after China cut off military-to-military relationships after the United States announced arms sales to Taiwan.

Mullen also praised Keating, who he said "understood the power of relationships and how to turn relationships into partnerships and partnerships into friendships."

Keating oversaw the revision of the Pacom strategy, built on three major tenets: partnership, readiness and presence. These, Mullen said, ensured Pacom remained "a cohesive and lasting power for peace and readiness."

Mullen wished Keating and his wife, Wanda Lee, "fair winds and following seas" as he welcomed Willard and his wife Donna to "the best job a Navy officer could have."

In his remarks, Keating evoked the vision of the founding fathers and said it's embodied in the servicemembers of Pacom who have served and sacrificed to keep it a reality.

But he also cited a less vaunted visionary, singer Jimmy Buffet, who sang of a world where "kids play on the shore all day and all are safe within."

This, Keating said, captures the same sentiment as lofty statements of strategy. And, he said, is the vision that drives the men and women of Pacom.

"It's been a grand adventure," Keating told Hawaii-based reporters as he summed up his time at Pacom. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Willard, who spent two and a half years as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate with extensive experience in the Pacific region and knowledge of its history.

Willard said he's deeply honored to follow in Keating's footsteps, noting, "Yours will be large shoes to fill."

He vowed to emulate Keating, both in his dedication to his staff that engendered tremendous loyalty, and by clear-eyed focus on Asia and the Pacific.

As the region has changed, the growing importance of Asia has remained a constant, Willard said.

He said he'll work tirelessly to ensure Pacom lives up to that challenge and that its role in U.S. national defense is understood.

"Our nation's interests are here," he said.

Gates Heads to Asia to Bolster U.S. Alliances

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 19, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is on his way to Japan, where he will discuss a broad range of defense issues as the first Cabinet-level U.S. official to visit the new Japanese Democratic Party government since it took office last month. Gates presided earlier today at the change-of-command ceremony at U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu and is traveling on to Tokyo, then Seoul, South Korea, to meet with two of the strongest U.S. allies in the region.

"Our alliances are in, we think, great shape -- not just in the military side, but politically, economically and in every other way," a senior defense official traveling with Gates told reporters. "We intend to reinforce all that, and we intend to make sure that America's rock-solid, steadfast commitment to the security of our allies is plainly evident through these visits."

Discussions during both visits will focus on major transformations under way to keep the alliances "forward-looking" so they are prepared to deal with challenges, not only on the Korean peninsula, but also in the wider Asia-Pacific region and globally.

The visits will "build on the time-tested strength of these alliance relationships" in the lead-up to two historic milestones in 2010. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of mutual cooperation and security with Japan.

In Tokyo, Gates' meetings with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada will focus on regional security and the ongoing transformation of the U.S.-Japan alliance, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said at last week's Pentagon briefing.

The talks, the senior official told reporters, will stress "the importance of continuity and realignment efforts while conveying our views on Japan's role in the bilateral alliance and in the international community."

Issues likely to arise include the Japanese navy's at-sea refueling mission for U.S. and British ships with cargo for the coalition mission in Afghanistan, and Kitazawa's interest in reviewing existing security accords between the two countries. Those agreements involve the 48,000 U.S. troops in Japan, as well as the planned movement of about 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, which Japan had previously agreed to help underwrite.

Gates will emphasize the need to keep previously agreed-to arrangements, the result of 15 years of negotiation and review, in place. These agreements are "beneficial to both of our countries and to our long-term relationship and to the security situation in the region," Morrell told reporters.

The secretary's talks in Tokyo will set the stage for President Barack Obama's scheduled visit in mid-November.

In Seoul, Gates will co-chair the 41st annual Security Consultative Meeting with Minister of National Defense Kim Tae Young. The meeting, the first since the U.S.-South Korean presidential summit in mid-June, "will be an opportunity to strengthen the defense relationship in keeping with the joint vision statement promulgated by the U.S. and the Republic of Korea presidents," the official said.

North Korea's nuclear, missile and proliferation threat is expected to be a major topic as the defense leaders explore ways to work together cooperatively and with solidarity to confront it.

Kim, who previously served as South Korea's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assumed his new post in September, emphasizing the importance of changes and reform to cope with the tension on the Korean peninsula.

The talks also will address progress toward South Korea's assumption of wartime operational control of its forces by April 2012. "We have absolutely no worries that the military conditions and the military capabilities will be there, to enable 'opcon' transfer in 2012," the official said.

The transfer won't reduce U.S. obligations as an ally, he emphasized, noting that all other aspects of the alliance, including extended deterrence, will remain in full effect after it occurs.

"All we are doing is recognizing the tremendous development within the Republic of Korea's military structure and military capabilities to transfer the command decisions for defense of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of Korea," he said.

"We will maintain American forces on the peninsula. We will have a specific command on the American side that's dedicated to supporting the Republic of Korea," he said. "But we think it's a natural evolution to the alliance that it's time now -- 60 years after the start of the Korean War on June 23, 1950 -- that we have the Koreans in command."

Gates is traveling to Asia after presiding at a change-of-command ceremony at U.S. Pacific Command. Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating passed command to Navy Adm. Robert Willard.

Admiral Cites Need to Prepare for All Threats

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 19, 2009 - Military commanders of the future should be proficient at managing high-tech communications networks and also should know how to wage conventional, irregular and hybrid warfare, a senior U.S. Navy officer said here today. A rapidly changing world presents an array of new threats and challenges to U.S. national security, Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, deputy commander for U.S. Forces Command, based at Norfolk, Va., told attendees at the annual C4ISR Journal Integration Conference held in Arlington, Va.

C4ISR is military shorthand for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

"To look at the world that we're in right now we're in constant conflict. ... As we see the future, that leader is going to be critical," Harward said.

Space-based and aerial sensor equipment, part of the military's C4ISR infrastructure, provides joint commanders added sets of "eyes" used to survey the battle space, Harward said. Yet, he added, those same commanders must be able to understand, manage and act on the information they're receiving.

Joint Forces Command is "focused, first and foremost, on the leader," the admiral said. Consequently, he added, the computerized C4ISR system should now be considered leader-centric instead of network-centric.

The command's current joint operating environment report, which predicts potential threats to U.S. national security in the years ahead, foresees a period of persistent conflict, Harward said. It also predicts global instability, potential adversaries using a combination of conventional and irregular tactics to fight a hybrid-style war, increasing access to weapons of mass destruction, the rise of regional state and nonstate actors, and the unpredictability of security threats.

Although the U.S. military still must be prepared to fight and win large conventional-warfare conflicts, Harward said, it also must "be able to deal with this irregular warfare," including emerging hybrid threats.

Another future threat, Harward said, involves a potential enemy's use of cyber warfare to take down the U.S. military's computerized communications and sensor network. Therefore, Harward urged the development of more-robust computer security systems to protect space, aerial- and ground-based communications systems and sensors.

The companion piece for the report is known as the Capstone concept for joint operations, which represents Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen's vision for how the joint force will operate in the future. Capstone provides proposed solutions to envisioned security threats presented in the joint operating environment report.

Input from that report influences the Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated report prepared every four years that also seeks to predict future threats while balancing military capabilities to confront them.

According to the joint operating environment report, Harward said, U.S. military leaders must be prepared to confront foes who fight either conventionally or irregularly, or employ a combination of the two.

"And, so the C4ISR system we grow for the future needs to dominate both and all of those environments," Harward said.

It's also important to learn from irregular warfare battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions, Harward said, in training future leaders "to make sure we better understand the capabilities and skills they need."

Harward, who has a special operations background, was nominated earlier this month by President Barack Obama for reappointment to vice admiral and directed to take command of the newly created Joint Task Force 435 to revamp U.S. detention policies in Afghanistan. Army Maj. Gen. Keith M. Huber, present commander of U.S. Army South based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is nominated for promotion to lieutenant general, and he is slated to take Harward's place at Joint Forces Command.

Author Draws on 'Outsider' Perspective

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 19, 2009 - Alison Buckholtz had no desire to marry into the military, but when she fell for her husband, an active-duty Navy pilot, she became a Navy wife. The couple married shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Buckholtz's military education began at the same time.

"I basically thought servicemembers were robots and their spouses were unambitious, at best," she said. "That was because, growing up, there was no member of my family who had served. I didn't have any teachers who were in the military, no neighbors.

"I really knew no one [who had served in the military]," she added.

She was thrilled to have her preconceived notions of military life shattered, however. "What I found was much richer and more interesting than what I had thought it to be," Buckholtz said.

Buckholtz would identify her husband only by his first name, Scott, and his occupation -- an EA-6B Prowler jet pilot who's serving a 12-month individual augmentation assignment with an Army unit in Iraq. Her learning curve on how to be an officer's wife was a steep one, she acknowledged. Most military wives whose husbands held the rank her husband held when he deployed for his command tour aboard an aircraft carrier beginning in 2007 hadn't started out at that level, she explained.

"We were very new to the military," she said, "so even though I was considered a senior spouse, this was our first deployment with kids. It was all really fresh."

She said she made the best of it and looked to those who'd been there for support. She also worked hard to make things easier on her two young children, now 6 and 4. Part of that effort was a life-size photo of her husband, a "Flat Daddy," intended to keep Dad in the forefront of the kids' minds.

"I had never really thought that Flat Daddy would be a good idea for us," Buckholtz admitted. "Just knowing my kids and their personalities, it seemed kind of creepy to me. But I try to be open to as many ideas as I can, so I gave it a try."

She was right. It didn't work for her kids. In fact, the experience prompted the freelance writer to write an essay published in the New York Times in 2007 that drew interest from several publishing houses as the possible basis for a book about trying to help her kids through their dad's lengthy absence.

"I think it was because, having not come from a military family myself, and having no military experience, I really did feel like an outsider, and I wrote as an outsider," Buckholtz said. "During the process of that deployment, I became an insider, and so I had the vocabulary and I had the experiences, but I still had the perspective of an outsider.

"That's what people wanted to read," she said.

Love, loss and separation are human experiences to which anyone can relate, she said. The fact that she was telling about them from a military perspective, she added, probably is what made it interesting. So, despite being surprised at the interest her stories generated, she began working on "Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War."

With the kids going to bed at 6:30 in those days, Buckholtz had her evenings free, and she wrote from 7 p.m. until midnight. Though some find the process of writing to be therapeutic, Buckholtz said, that wasn't the case for her as she wrote the book.

"It helped me sort out a lot of issues that I had been thinking about since I'd gotten married," Buckholtz said. "But in terms of being cathartic, it wasn't an emotional release."

It may just have been a way to chronicle her family's experience while her husband was away for the better part of three years, but it did serve a higher purpose. Published by Tarcher/Penguin, "Standing By" provides civilian America a glimpse into the inner workings of a military family experiencing a long absence of a family member. It also allows military families a chance to realize that others have experiences similar to their own.

Forces Progress in Transition to Operational Reserve

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 19, 2009 - Today's reserve forces have made tremendous progress transforming from a strategic to an operational reserve, even as they continue to support two wars and hundreds of other missions around the world, a senior Defense Department official said last week. Family programs are strong, employers are supporting the troops, recruiting and retention have hit record highs, and the active and reserve forces are working together better than they ever have in the past, said Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.

Barely four months into the post, McCarthy painted a positive picture of where the reserve forces are today, while admitting more work remains to be done.

"It doesn't mean we don't have challenges, but overall I think the force is holding up extremely well," he said in a broad-ranging interview with American Forces Press Service.

About 138,000 reservists are now serving on active duty. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about 725,000 reservists have been activated, and more than 64 percent of the reserve force has seen recent deployments. That's the highest percentage of any time in the past 50 years, officials said.

McCarthy -- a retired Marine reservist -- has witnessed first-hand many of the changes as the force began its transition in the wake of the start of two wars.

He was activated in the early 1990s at the start of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 1997, he became the only reserve general officer to command an active-duty Marine division, and before his retirement in 2005 as a lieutenant general, McCarthy commanded the Marine Corps Reserve.

McCarthy acknowledged that of the reserve forces, the Army's reserve components faced the largest transition. For decades, they had relied on a deployment model that counted on its units having time after mobilization to train and get the equipment they needed to deploy.

That model has shifted, putting more demands on the unit to report to the mobilization site trained and ready to deploy. The shift requires the active-duty force to work hand in hand with the reserves on funding, equipping, training and readiness requirements.

Admittedly, McCarthy said, those areas got off to a shaky start as the two forces were thrust into providing the lion's share of the troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, that relationship has forged into one that has never been better, he noted.

"Best I've ever seen," he said. "The fact is that the quality of relationships has grown since 2001, in part because of need – [it] had to happen. But I think in part because now that you've had leaders [and] formations working together, the confidence that they have in each other goes up."

At the start of the wars, reservists faced lengthy deployments stretched by six months or more at a mobilization site readying for war. Many saw the equipment they would fight with for the first time at the site. Pay issues plagued the units, as National Guard members transitioned from state pay systems to the federal system. Some training was duplicated because of certification requirements.

Now, reserve units are training more at their home stations. That training is certified and is not repeated at mobilization. Also, reserve units now are heading into the first funding year that puts new equipment in their hands in time to have troops train with it before they are mobilized and deployed.

Besides training and equipping the units, some of the greatest strides in progress have come in supporting families, McCarthy said.

All seven reserve-component services and the Defense Department have poured money and resources into family programs since the wars started. At one time, family groups were led by a volunteer who used donated office space or supplies from a nearby armory. Now, full-time family-support staff has been fielded to the units, and staff and funds have been added all the way to the Defense Department level.

"We are clearly better than we were in 2001," McCarthy said.

The retired three-star general said he spent his last four years in uniform pushing the importance of family readiness programs. The emphasis has to be at the commander level, he said.

"It's a non-delegable duty for a commander to have a strong family readiness program," McCarthy said.

McCarthy praised the Yellow Ribbon Program, in which representatives in each state can act as a single resource, reaching out to a network of services available for servicemembers and families. The program started in the Minnesota National Guard in 2007 to help members of the 34th Infantry Division who had been deployed for 23 consecutive months. The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act mandated a national program for all reserve components.

Employer support efforts in the past two decades also have reaped dividends, McCarthy said. Much of that has to do with the work by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency that works with employers, reservists, military leaders and volunteers to help employers prepare for the increase in deployments.

"It is so much better and so much stronger than it was 19 years ago. It's almost like night and day," McCarthy said.

Many times, especially in small towns, a unit deployment can mean a serious reduction in force on police and fire departments and education and medical staffs. This has put employers in a pinch, especially small businesses, which are required by law to guarantee a job for the returning reservist.

"When [reservists] leave, it's a big hole," McCarthy said. "And people are finding ways to work things out."

But while McCarthy attributed a portion of progress to ESGR's efforts, much of the support stems from the patriotism of the employers themselves, he noted.

"I could go on from now until next week with one good story after another about what individuals employers ... are doing for their employees," McCarthy said. Still, he said, unit commanders today seldom reach out to employers until there is an issue with a troop. McCarthy said he would like to see commanders embrace employer support much the same as family support.

"If there's one area where I think we really need some improvement, it's making commanders more aware of the need to ... proactively reach out the employers," McCarthy said. "Don't wait until there's a problem. Let's get out in front of it."

Both families and employers are critical to the record high recruiting and retention numbers the reserves enjoyed this year, McCarthy said.

"If we lose either the families or the employers," he warned, "retention is going to in the tank. I don't think there's any question about that."

Even state governors and commanders have all but stopped complaining about the frequent deployments of their troops and equipment, McCarthy said. Early on in the wars, many governors and commanders complained that heavy deployment cycles were leaving the states without adequate resources to respond to internal needs, such as fires, floods and other emergencies. But largely out of necessity, states now have agreements with their neighbors so that if their resources are not available, they can borrow them from nearby.

Also, senior leadership from the active-duty Army and the National Guard put together a list of equipment that will stay in each state for such responses. Those stocks are being built up now, McCarthy said.

McCarthy pointed out that every reservist serving now has either enlisted or re-enlisted since the wars started. At the outset of the wars and the accompanying heavy deployment cycles, some questioned whether the use of the reserve components in an operational manner would put too much strain on the community-based force. And many who had served for years in the Cold War strategic reserve were forced to decide whether to become part of an operational force or leave.

Reservists serving now deserve credit for the decision they made to serve in the fight now, McCarthy said.

"This is the all-volunteer force," he said. "And as far as I'm concerned, it's another greatest generation because of this spirit of willing volunteerism, fully understanding what the implications of making that decision are."

Special Tactics Airmen Complete 800-mile March

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 19, 2009 - After walking more than 800 miles through five states, 12 special tactics airmen arrived here Oct. 16, officially completing a memorial march for their fallen comrades. The marchers -- several combat controllers and pararescuemen and one combat weatherman -- split into six two-man teams and walked day and night to honor 12 special tactics airmen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the march, five teams rested while one continued the march, averaging nearly 20 miles before being spelled. Each marcher carried a 50-pound rucksack and a baton engraved with the name of a fallen special tactics airman.

The 12 airmen reunited just outside the base and walked the final five miles as a team.

"This walk shows that with Air Force special operations, you are never forgotten," said Air Force Master Sgt. Ken Huhman, one of the event's coordinators and a marcher from the 342nd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Several family members of the 12 special tactics airmen being memorialized joined the marchers on the final five-mile stretch.

"I feel very honored," said Sally Sheldon, mother of Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, a combat controller killed in Afghanistan in February. "They've been so good to me, and I'm very proud of all these young men. They've made me a part of their family."

The memorial march's route, which began at Lackland and ended here, was chosen for a reason. Special tactics training begins at Lackland, and combat controllers complete their training here before joining their first teams.

"It was a long walk," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesse Schrader, a marcher from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron here. "My feet are covered in blisters and are numb, but it's worth it. This is something we wanted to do to remember our friends and teammates that were killed."

The memorial march also was organized to help to raise awareness for Air Force specialties such as combat control and pararescue, and to increase awareness of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The foundation provides assistance to families of fallen special operations servicemembers.

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates serves with Defense Media Activity San Antonio.)