Military News

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Troops Wage Friendly Competition in Pentagon Fitness Challenge


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

Oct. 30, 2009 - Army Lt. Col. Chris Carlson thrives to stay physically fit, and neither his ripe age of 46 nor his heavy workload here at the Pentagon could prevent that. Carlson, an Army program analysis and evaluations officer, and several other military competitors showed off their speed, agility and dedication to physical fitness yesterday in the Pentagon Athletic Center's Ultimate Fitness Challenge here. The competitors shared Carlson's enthusiasm for fitness and agreed that working behind a desk in the Pentagon doesn't mean you can't maintain fitness.

"[The competitors] were serious about staying in great physical shape, [and] I think all of us want to maintain ourselves at the best possible shape that we can," Carlson said. "I think it's a tribute to the professionalism of all the services that we want to stay in the best possible shape."

The four events were a timed shuttle run, a 35-pound sandbag-carry relay, a 60-second box jump and an obstacle course.

Despite the best efforts and confidence from the field of competitors, the challenge was surprisingly more difficult than expected, Carlson said. The object of the shuttle run was to sprint and retrieve 14 tennis balls, seven of which were positioned about 15 feet away from the start point and the other seven about 30 feet away. It's safe to say that most were beginning to feel the burn afterwards, as almost everyone was hunched over at the waist and drenched with sweat with still three events to go.

"After the first event, we were all starting to feel the muscles tightening up, [and] you knew it was going to be a contest," Carlson said. "I think we were all pretty fired up."

The next three events were equally exhausting, he said. But the most notable aspect of the challenge was how the competitors came together and bonded through a little friendly competition.

"Everyone had a lot of camaraderie," Carlson said. "We were all obviously competitive, and you could see that, but everyone was cheering for each other despite the fact that none of us had ever met before."

Carlson called the challenge an "eye-opener" to include even more variety into his workouts, which regularly include weightlifting, biking, running and martial arts. Although he believes he's in the best shape of his life, he said the competition showed him he needs to work out even harder.

That sort of competitive spirit was evident in many of the competitors. But for Navy Capt. Tyrone "Chappy" Payton, who unofficially finished second in the challenge, being fit is just part of who he is as a servicemember, he said.

Staying healthy and in shape is the individual servicemember's responsibility, said Payton, deputy director of the Navy staff. Although he acknowledges that it's easy to get "bogged down" with work here at the Pentagon, "you still need to make it your business to incorporate time to come to the gym."

"I think the military, in general, lives a healthy lifestyle" the 50-year-old sailor said. "We represent the country, so why not be in the best shape that you can and set an example for your country."

Payton also tries to set a good example for younger servicemembers, he said. Establishing good nutritional, physical and mental strengths at a young age is a message he often communicates.

"I think it's important for young people to make time to build good habits, because it's much easier to start the habit now and maintain that throughout your career in the military," he said. "I suggest to all the young people who work for me to make time and get to the gym, because when they get to my age at 50, it'll be a little bit easier to maintain."

The results of the competition are pending, but for the participants, competing and showcasing their athleticism was rewarding enough.

Yoga, Curry Make for Good Army Training

by Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 30, 2009 - It's 6 a.m. and as the sun rises, U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Vacchelli sits on a mat in the grass, cross-legged, eyes closed and index and thumb fingers pressed together with his palms facing up. Hummmm. Hummmm, he murmurs.

Off and on for the past two weeks, Vacchelli and others in the 2nd Squadron, 14th Calvary Regiment, took off their running shoes and traded their standard Army physical training for a little inner peace.

Sports included hitting, or trying to hit, a white ball with a polo mallet through a goal, while riding a bicycle.

And hamburgers and fries were swapped with mutton curry and naan.

The soldiers deployed here to train with the Indian army's 7th Mechanized Infantry Battalion. Dubbed "Yudh Abhyas," loosely translated as war preparation, it is the largest military exercise to date with the Indians. The two armies soldiered side by side, firing weapons and trading equipment. But perhaps the most valuable lessons learned were not those on the battlefield.

Today's U.S. military is no stranger to working alongside those from other countries. In Afghanistan, alone, more than 40 country's militaries are in the fight. In Iraq, while most troops have cleared out of combat outposts, U.S. soldiers still serve as advisors for the Iraqi army.

Learning to bridge language barriers and cultural gaps has become as necessary as practicing marksmanship for today's troops.

"We are not the only culture on the globe," said Army Lt. Col. Jim Isenhower, commander of the 2nd-14th. "As Americans, it is important that we recognize that there are different perspectives, and different ways to think about things. Perhaps the most valuable lesson our soldiers will take from this is an ability to recognize a competing or a different perspective and understand that they may not agree with it but it's something they must incorporate in their decision making and how they interact with others."

The Indian army embraced the American soldiers from the first day, Isenhower said. What began with simple handshakes and some slight awkwardness turned into strong friendships, he said.

The troops were treated to special dinners and dancing. They participated in the local Divali celebration, the Hindu festival of lights.

By the end of the training, troops were trading e-mails, and becoming friends on Facebook.

Troops can train on maneuvers or weapons skills on almost any range. But it was the cultural exchange that can't be replicated, Isenhower said.

"Recognizing cultural differences is something our Army has become much more proficient at over the course of the last decade, but this was a perfect time to try to incorporate those lessons," he said.

Bridging the culture gap quickly put the troops on a faster track when it came time to work together.

Isenhower said he was surprised at how quickly the two armies were able to integrate on the battlefield. By the end of the exercise, the two were working through complex, synchronized military operations with soldiers from each army integrated at every level.

"This is a professional army," Isenhower said. "It is extremely strong and extremely capable. And that has been different than our experience in training up other armies that we've worked closely with over the past couple of years.

"In this case, we are learning as much from the Indian army as they are learning from us. They have been fighting counterinsurgency for 20 years. We've been at it about eight. So we bring a lot of current tactics, techniques and procedures, and yet they do, too."

Army 1st Sgt. Joseph Messier with A Troop said he has worked with 16 other militaries during his career. Even so, Messier admitted to being a little hesitant at the start. It was his first trip to India, his first taste of curry and he had never attempted yoga.

The friendliness of the Indian soldiers won him over, Messier said.

"They reached their hand out first and, like the good Americans we are, we smiled back and started joining right in, and built a lot of friendships," he said.

But it wasn't just the Indians' friendliness that impressed Messier.

"This is the most professional military I've ever encountered outside of ours," he said. "Their individual skills are excellent, their collective skills are well trained and their soldiers are well disciplined.

"I'm glad they're our friends. I'm glad they're on our side," he said.

Army 1st Lt. Joseph Lewandowski, the squadron's information operations officer, said that some troops were hesitant at first to try the food. Some even opted for field rations, rather than give the spicy food a try.

Two chow halls were set up, one offering American food and the other offering Indian cuisine. Eventually, most U.S. soldiers tried the Indian specialties, and liked them.

Chow time became a culture class for those wanting to know what was in the dish, it regional influence and how it was made.

"They would authentically be intrigued about their culture and ask them questions rather than just walk by in a regular cafeteria," Lewandowski said.

Interacting on the sports field, Lewandowski said, improves interaction on the battlefield. Within the construct of healthy sportsmanship, you begin to know your teammates, regardless of what uniform they wear.

You begin to look at them differently, he said. You begin to trust them.

It is then that the two armies can truly begin working together.

"I think without the culture piece, this exercise would be just that, an exercise. There would be nothing else besides coming out here, doing the work, getting it done and going home," Lewandowski said. "By having the cultural part, you actually integrate with them and learn to appreciate their abilities, skills and who they are as a person."

MILITARY CONTRACTS October 30, 2009

NAVY
W R Systems Ltd., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $26,946,956 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, performance-based contract for in-service engineering technical support services for various navigation systems. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $140,601,392. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, (97 percent) and the governments of Japan, (0.5 percent), Taiwan, (0.5 percent), Korea, (0.5 percent), Australia, (0.5 percent), Saudi Arabia, (0.5 percent) and Egypt, (0.5 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program. Work will be performed in Hampton Roads, Va., (75 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (4 percent); San Diego, Calif., (3 percent); Groton, Conn., (3 percent); Pascagoula, Miss., (3 percent); Jacksonville, Fla., (3 percent); Ingleside, Texas, (3 percent); Seattle, Wash., (3 percent); and Foreign Military Sites, (3 percent), and is expected to be completed by October 2010. If all options are exercised, work could continue until October 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website and the SPAWAR E-commerce website, with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and one offer received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic is the contracting activity (N65236-10-D-2839).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Melville, N.Y., is being awarded a $26,623,968 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement, fabrication and delivery of four AN/SPQ-9B radar sets (above/below deck hardware) and combat interface kits for use on Navy Ships. The AN/SPQ-9B radar system provides the capability to detect and track low-flying, high-speed, small radar cross section anti-ship missile targets in heavy clutter environments. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $281,530,546. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, (56 percent) and the government of Australia, (44 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Melville, N.Y., (91.2 percent); Norwalk, Conn., (5.5 percent); Baltimore, Md., (3.3 percent), and is expected to be completed by April 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5343).

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $24,605,198 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-D-0007) to exercise an option for organizational, selected intermediate and limited depot level maintenance for F-16, F-18, H-60 and E-2C aircraft operated by the adversary squadrons based at Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nev. Work will be performed in Fallon, Nev., and is expected to be completed in October 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $24,605,198 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Melville, N.Y., is being awarded a $7,886,078 cost- plus-fixed fee contract for continued design agent and technical engineering support to AN/SPQ-9B radars during installation, integration, testing, and refurbishment. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $39,325,257. This contract combines purchases for the Navy, (71.8 percent) and the government of Australia, (28.2 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Melville, N.Y., (96.9 percent); Baltimore, Md., (2.4 percent); Norwalk, Conn., (0.7 percent), and is expected to be completed by October 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5341).

L3 Services, Inc., Mount Laurel, N.J., is being awarded a $7,454,671 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00421-05-C-0009) for additional engineering and technical services and supplies to design, develop, procure, prototype, modify, integrate, test and evaluate, install and provide logistics support for telecommunication and related communication-electronic (C-E) systems. These services are in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Special Communications Requirements Division. The estimated level of effort for this modification is 72,368 man-hours. Work will be performed in Lexington Park, Md., (80 percent) and St. Inigoes, Md., (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, St. Inigoes, Md., is the contracting activity.

Correction: Contract awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., for $853,305,629 should have stated contracting funds in the amount of $291,361,000 would expire by the end of the current fiscal year.

AIR FORCE
Lockheed Martin Corp., of Marietta, Ga., was awarded a $20,814,340 contract which will provide funding for the non-recurring cost for diminishing manufacturing source engineering change proposals for the replacement C-130J trim panels, embedded Global Positioning-Inertial Naviagation System, and the automatic flight control processor. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 657 AESS, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8625-06-C-6456).

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., of Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $17,297,711 contract which will provide additional segment level testing for the command and control element of the Lockheed Martin mission control segment. At this time $582,983 has been obligated. SMC/MCSW, El Segundo, California is the contracting activity (F04701-02-C-002, P00339).

Gyro House, of Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma was awarded a $6,001.280 contract which will provide civil engineering services at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. At this time, no money has been obligated. 448 SCMG/PKBD, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma is the contracting activity (FA8117-10-D-0001).

Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Electro-Optics Limited of Basildon, United Kingdom was awarded a $5,957,366 contract which will provide support for all the low light television systems applicable to the AC-130 gunship. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 580 ACSG, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (F33657-95-C-0072, P00099).

Science Applications International Corp., of San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $5,544,869 contract which will provide measurement and signature intelligence services. At this time, $517,559 has been obligated. AMIC/PKA, Newport News, Va., is the contracting activity (FA4890-07-C-0005, P00017).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
Dennis K. Burke, Inc., Chelsea, Mass., is being awarded a maximum $10,675,156 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for diesel fuel. Other locations of performance include Conn., Mass., Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 81 proposals solicited with eight responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 11, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-8500).