Monday, October 26, 2009


General Dynamics, Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $24,999,954 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide non-nuclear maintenance and repair support at the Naval Submarine Support Facility, Naval Submarine Base. Under the terms of the contract, Electric Boat will continue to provide services required to support planned and emergent non-nuclear maintenance and repair for operational nuclear submarines, floating dry-docks, support and service craft, and other platforms and equipment. Work will be performed in New London, Conn., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5,765,500 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-4302).

IAP–Hill, LLC (a joint venture), Cape Canaveral, Fla., is being awarded a $19,600,000 modification to task order #0904 under a previously awarded combination firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N62467-00-D-2451) for regional base operating support services at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport, and the surrounding Southeast region. The work to be performed provides for service calls over and above the firm fixed price threshold of the contract. Service calls consist of repairs of base facilities, utilities, transportation and fire alarm systems. The total contract amount after exercise of this task order modification will be $480,651,969 ($234,151,921 FFP and $246,500,048 IDIQ). Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Fla., and the task order is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Vision Systems International, LLC, San Jose, Calif., is being awarded a $6,782,599 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 20 Navy joint helmet mounted cueing system 40-degree night vision cueing and display units, including hardware and associated support equipment. Work will be performed in San Jose, Calif., and is expected to be completed in April 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $4,582,071 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-10-C-0007).

Buckeye Energy Services, LLC, Telford, Pa., is being awarded a maximum $5,944,272 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance include New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Using services are Army, Air Force and federal civilian agencies. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is April 30, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-8512).

Pentagon, VA Team Up to Improve Mental Health Care

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

Oct. 26, 2009 - Defense and Veterans Affairs Department health care professionals began a three-day workshop here today to harness initiatives to improve psychological health care for servicemembers and veterans. Through the first-of-its kind joint mental health summit, officials of both departments hope to gain a broader, national perspective of the care servicemembers, veterans and their families need to overcome the emotional wounds of war, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said.

"Beyond waging the wars we're in, treatment of our wounded -- their continuing care and eventual reintegration into everyday life -- is my highest priority," Gates said. "I consider this a solemn pact between those who have risked and suffered and the nation that owes them its eternal gratitude."

Gates' remarks comes less than a week after President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Healthcare Reform and Transparency Act, which improves the way VA receives health care funding.

"The attention being paid to mental health issues is so important, because in the past, unseen injuries such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury were not accorded the full attention they deserved," he said.

Gates noted that such conditions have been "around as long as war itself." But repeated deployments since Sept. 11, 2001 to Iraq and Afghanistan have brought new focus to these illnesses, he added.

More than 6,000 current servicemembers, according to recent studies, are potentially affected with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury or similar conditions, Gates said, noting some of the signs of such circumstances.

"Some of the signs are apparent – severe depression, or even suicide," he said. "Others are more elusive and sometimes ill-defined, arriving in the form of nightmares, anxiety or unexplained and uncontrollable anger. Other acts, seemingly unrelated, bear this enemy's indelible fingerprints: petty thefts, fights, spousal abuse, drug or alcohol abuse.

"Today, it is all too clear that TBI, post-traumatic stress, and numerous other related mental ailments are widespread, entrenched and insidious," he continued.

Defense officials have gradually realized that care for psychological wounds must have the same focus, initiative and standards as the care for physical injuries, Gates said, noting the past two years have seen significant improvements in mental health care.

About $3.3 billion of the fiscal 2010 defense budget is allotted to meet those needs. Gates cited that this year alone, the department has increased its numbers of case managers and mental health providers, developed a new disability evaluation system with VA, established a dozen more Army Warrior in Transition complexes and pursued a number of other initiatives to improve the quality of life for psychologically wounded troops.

The Army, which has seen a steady increase in soldier suicides in the past four years, "is putting renewed emphasis" on leader responsibilities in noticing the signs of psychological stress, Gates noted. The Army began a five-year partnership this year with the National Institute of Mental Health, which is considered the largest study of suicide ever embarked upon.

"These [initiatives] include early recognition of warning signals and intervention in the hope of preventing the kinds of tragedies that have destroyed careers, families and lives," he said. "This military research and activity on psychological stress may have positive ramifications for society at large for understanding and treating the effects of traumatic events on civilians who suffer from accidents, natural disasters, personal tragedies or crime."

Positive steps have been made, but more must be done, Gates said. He said the Defense Department and VA must continue defining roles and responsibilities and keep searching for better ways to share information.

Gates noted that the eight years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan constitute the longest war America has fought with an all-volunteer force. Retention goals continue to be met and troops and their families have shown "remarkable resilience," Gates said, but he added there's no telling how long that trend could last.

"We don't know the limits of their endurance and the consequences once those limits have passed," he said. "The humbling fact remains that there is so much we still don't know about post-traumatic stress and other psychological problems.

"This reality makes it imperative that we continue the work that has already begun," he continued. "The military medical community, the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, is supremely dedicated to this issue."

Obama Salutes Servicemembers' Duty, Sacrifices

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 26, 2009 - President Barack Obama today thanked U.S. military members for their service and sacrifice to the nation during his visit to a Florida Navy base. America has the best military in the world, "because we have the finest personnel in the world," Obama told servicemembers at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. "You are the best-trained, the best-prepared, the best-led force in history," Obama said. "Our people are our most precious resource."

Obama then cited the 11 U.S. servicemembers and three U.S. civilians who perished today in Afghanistan as a result of two separate helicopter crashes.

"Fourteen Americans gave their lives. And our prayers are with these servicemembers, their civilian colleagues and the families who loved them," Obama said.

Relatives and friends of the departed may find some comfort, Obama said, in knowing that their loved ones died to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists and their extremist allies. Those who perished in the helicopter crashes in Afghanistan "gave their lives to protect ours," said the president added.

Obama told the military members that he is humbled by their service to the nation.

"The American people thank you for your service," he said. "We honor you for your sacrifices. And just as you have fulfilled your responsibilities to your nation, your nation will fulfill its responsibilities to you."

Of all the presidential privileges and responsibilities, Obama said, his highest honor is to serve as commander in chief of the U.S. military. "You inspire me," he said. "And I'm here today to deliver a simple message – a message of thanks to you and your families."

Earlier today, Obama conducted a sixth White House meeting with his national security advisors to discuss the way ahead in Afghanistan. As deliberations continue, the president emphasized in Jacksonville, he will never rush the decision to send America's servicemembers into harm's way.

"I won't risk your lives unless it's absolutely necessary," Obama told servicemembers. "And if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt, because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission and the defined goals as well as the equipment and support that you need to get the job done."

Obama pledged that U.S. servicemembers always would be fully supported back home, noting he will soon sign a $680.2 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2010 that contains added funding for the military.

Obama also vowed to take care of U.S. servicemembers' families, noting First Lady Michelle Obama has been visiting bases across the country to connect with military families. Recent actions, the president said, have increased military pay and education benefits and improved child care and hospital facilities as part of efforts to improve quality of life for servicemembers and military families.

He also cited initiatives designed to reduce military families' stress while loved ones are deployed and efforts that bolster medical care for wounded warriors.

"We're improving care for our wounded warriors, especially those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries," Obama said.

And to take better care of the nation's veterans, Obama said, the Department of Veterans Affairs budget is being increased by the highest percentage in more than 30 years. Servicemembers, their families and veterans deserve these initiatives and more, the president said, because of their service to the nation.

"You have always taken care of America; America must take care of you, always," Obama told servicemembers.

Obama recalled Jacksonville's recent welcome home for previously missing Navy aviator Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, whose remains were discovered in August in Iraq and returned to his family for burial. Speicher was shot down over Iraq in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War.

As Speicher's flag-draped casket lay in repose at the naval base's chapel before his burial, Jacksonville's military members and civilians "gave Scott back to the city he loved," Obama said.

"That's what you do," he added, "not only for Scott, but for all the fallen warriors you bring home."

While in Jacksonville, Obama also met with 11 sailors and Marines noted for their leadership, high achievement and excellence during performance of their duties.

Ophthalmology Academy Honors Military Doctors

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 26, 2009 - The American Academy of Ophthalmology presented military ophthalmologists with its Distinguished Service Award in San Francisco yesterday for their ongoing service and contributions to vision care. "It is my distinct honor to accept this award on behalf of all ophthalmologists who have proudly served in our military," said Army Col. (Dr.) Donald Gagliano, director of the newly established Vision Center of Excellence. "Military ophthalmologists understand the importance of war-related eye injuries and are committed to improving the quality of care for our wounded warriors, who deserve the very best for the sacrifices they have made for our nation."

In cooperation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department is leading the way in providing the best possible surgical and rehabilitative eye care available to military personnel. The Vision Center of Excellence will track serious eye injuries and eye diseases, update clinical progress in a timely and accessible manner, and jointly arrange and collaborate on vision research studies. It is charged specifically to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat and rehabilitate military eye injuries.

"This year's Distinguished Service Award recognizes all military ophthalmologists, past and present, for their persistent dedication to serving the eye care needs of active duty, dependents and retirees," said Dr. Michael Brennan, president of the academy and himself a former military ophthalmologist. "I know the commitment to excellence in eye care that these physicians bring to our profession, and we are proud to honor them for their dedication at home and abroad."

(From an American Academy of Ophthalmology news release.)

Exercise Seeks to Reduce 'Friendly-fire' Incidents

By Jacob Boyer
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 26, 2009 - Warfighters from the United States and 10 allied nations will assess coalition combat identification systems during a U.S. Joint Forces Command exercise Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 here and at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. Bold Quest 2009, a capability assessment designed by Joint Forces Command's joint capability development directorate, will focus on testing air and ground units' ability to exchange information and on improving coalition warfighters' ability to identify friendly forces on the ground, said John Miller, the joint capability integration and fires division's operational manager for the exercise.

"It's about passing friendly ground force location information to strike [aircrews] who may have to engage ground targets," he said. "We're assessing some advanced technologies and the associated procedures that would enable those [aircrews] to interrogate ground target areas and receive a quick, accurate response from any friendly ground forces who are equipped with compatible technologies."

Miller said the assessment, the latest in the Bold Quest series, is driven by a need to provide tools that make warfighters more effective in engaging targets while minimizing the risk of fratricide. Past assessments focused on ground forces' ability to interact and identify each other. This time, the idea is to see whether aircrews can use those same technologies.

"Identifying your friends is about as basic as it gets," he said. "Shooters are confronted with a lot of confusion - noise, dust, darkness. The technologies, techniques and procedures that we're assessing here are designed to enable them to start sorting that confusion out."

The demonstration will collect both technical data on systems and subjective judgments from the warfighters using them. Demonstration analysts will collect and analyze information which will be put together as the exercise's coalition military utility assessment.

Bold Quest 2009 includes military units and technical teams from all four services and U.S. Special Operations Command, as well as representatives from the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Most of these nations participated in past Bold Quests, and Miller said their continued participation shows that their militaries see the value in continued participation.

"An event like this enables them to collectively get an early look at what works, what doesn't work, and what has the highest degree of military utility," he said. "As they look at their resources, an event like this will allow them to get an early look at the military utility of these solutions and better enable them to invest further their limited developmental dollars."

Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Rob Roscoe, United Kingdom liaison officer, said his nation's military gets multiple benefits from participating in the demonstration.

"We do it to look at emerging technologies," he said. "[It also allows us] to demonstrate our own kit. ... We've bought the kit, but the environment that you have at Bold Quest is an ideal opportunity to test out what the full capability of that kit is."

Improved interoperability between coalition and U.S. systems is another reason to participate, Roscoe said.

"The ability to test [our systems] with a range of aircraft isn't available to us in the U.K.," he said. "We can test it against our own aircraft, but it's when we go to Afghanistan or other regions, we can test it to a much wider range of aircraft.

"We need to know where the U.S. is going," he continued. "If you go down a particular path of technology, we need to have the same ID system or the same capability to operate an ID system. Otherwise, we'll be a liability when we come to operate together, because you won't know it's us."

Besides operating out of Cherry Point, aircraft from the United States, Canada and France supporting the demonstration will launch from Langley Air Force Base, Va.; Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.; Patuxent River, Md.; and Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Demonstrations have been held annually since 2003.

(Jacob Boyer works in the U.S. Joint Forces Command public affairs office.)

Mullen Vows Continued Support for Korean Military

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

Oct. 23, 2009 - (Editor's note: This story corrects an error contained in the original version, in which an inaccurate statement about future troop levels in South Korea was attributed to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The article inaccurately reported the chairman said U.S. troop strength would be cut by roughly 14,000. The admiral's actual statement was that over the next nine years or so, about 14,000 U.S. servicemembers – half of the 28,000 serving in South Korea -- would be accompanied by command-sponsored dependents. We regret the error and apologize to all concerned.)

As South Korea's military transitions to full operational control, it's important to remember the past 60 years of U.S. commitment to the country and to not waver in that support, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen talked yesterday with servicemembers and defense civilians at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, Korea.

He spoke about his earlier meetings with his South Korean counterpart, citing "tremendous change" on the horizon. The Korean military is expected to assume a larger defense responsibility there in April 2012.

The alliance will only get stronger, the chairman said, with continued commitment from the United States.

The U.S.-South Korea alliance dates to the Korean War in 1950. An armistice was signed in July 1953 with North Korea, unofficially ending the war. The United Nations and U.S. military have maintained a presence in South Korea since then.

"Sometimes you don't think about this, but you are here as a part of that, and sometimes we don't think about how significant that alliance is in terms of preserving the freedom, preserving the democracy that is here in the Republic of Korea," Mullen said. "We are very much supportive of executing and sustain that alliance."

Mullen spent the previous two days with his Korean counterparts reviewing the changes and specifics of their alliance. One of the changes will be more command-sponsored families and new infrastructure to accommodate them, he said.

In December, about 1,700 U.S. troops with families were there. The number has since grown to 3,100. The chairman said that by the end of 2010 there would be about 4,500 command-sponsored U.S. families. That number is expected to grow to 14,000 over the next nine years of so, he added, noting that the Defense Department is planning to normalize three-year tour lengths there.

"That's a big undertaking, and it's difficult," the admiral said. "We've got to get the schools in, we've got to get the housing in, [and] we've got to have the entire infrastructure in the peninsula upgraded to make sure that we are ready for that transition."

Mullen also talked about changes occurring with the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO forces are in their ninth year of fighting in the Middle East, but where there was once doubt in Iraq, security is sustained and Iraq now can focus on building its government capacity, he said.

"Most of what's left in Iraq, quite frankly, is politics," he said. "When they have the elections in January, we start a pretty rapid drawdown in the March timeframe ... from 120,000 troops to about 35,000 to 50,000 less than a year from now.

"There was no group that made a bigger difference than men and women in uniform," he said of the progress made in Iraq. "I'm extremely grateful for your service, for the difference ... and the sacrifices that you make.

He added that all U.S. forces will be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011, allowing more focus on securing and building a democracy in Afghanistan.

Families also share in the sacrifices servicemembers make in the name of freedom and democracy, the admiral said. Mullen's wife, Deborah, met with spouses there during their visit and also is meeting with spouses of troops in Japan today.

"We try to do this wherever we go to understand what the challenges are for the families," he said. "We couldn't do it without family support, so [family] is a big focus for me."

Mullen credits leadership at all levels within the military for its ability to adjust to the persistent conflicts throughout the world. America values the combat experience of today's military, and maintaining that knowledge is critical to the future armed forces, he said.

"If we don't do that well, we will in fact be in a much more difficult situation at a time where things are changing and the pace will continue for the foreseeable future," he said. "Lead exceptionally well. It's an enormously challenging time."