Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Like Body Armor, Flu Vaccine Aims to Protect Troops

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 3, 2009 - Like protective equipment issued to troops downrange, the H1N1 flu vaccine is a measure the Defense Department is taking to safeguard U.S. military forces, a defense official said. "We use other treatment modalities to protect people in the same way we use body armor to protect against other threats," said Ellen P. Embrey, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

"The H1N1 vaccine was purchased specifically for our uniformed servicemembers so they could continue to perform their mission anywhere on the globe," she continued. "And during a pandemic, that's a real threat."

Officials at the department, which received initial allotments of the vaccine last week, said doses will be distributed in coming weeks according to a prioritized list of recipients. Vaccines first will be made available to deployed personnel, bases that receive new military accessions, such as basic training installations and the service academies, and all health-care workers assigned to military medical treatment facilities.

Immunization for both seasonal flu and H1N1 is mandatory for all military personnel and is highly recommended for beneficiaries.

"Our system to manufacture and distribute, and then put shots in arms, is the priority of the government. And [the Defense Department] has been participating with HHS very closely to ensure that we acquire sufficient vaccine to protect the U.S. military's ability to perform its mission globally," Embrey said, referring to the Health and Human Services Department.

Embrey noted that the department has long used vaccinations -– against anthrax, small pox and seasonal flu, for example -- to protect the force and preserve its ability to perform its mission.

"The H1N1 virus is unique because it targets young, healthy people 24 and under and the average age of our force is 24," she said. "So this is particularly important to us that we have the ability to protect the majority of the people who are preserving the national security of this country because if they're down they can't perform."

The department also has received several hundred vaccines from Health and Human Services for defense civilians, Embrey said. Because vaccines may be coming in relatively small numbers initially, local commanders will be responsible for determining how supplies are distributed.

"It will be up to the local commanders to determine the best balance of mission preservation and addressing the individuals who are at high risk of getting the flu whether they're a civilian in our workforce, and according to CDC, we should be paying closest attention to those at highest risk," she said, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"As additional allotments come in over the next several weeks, there will be sufficient vaccines to give to anyone who would like to have it," she added.

Embrey said HHS allocated additional vaccines for retirees, family members and other individuals living overseas.

"So if you live in those locations and you want a shot, please come in, or if you're at high risk, please come in and get your shots now because those are being distributed as we speak," she said. "This vaccine is safe, it's effective, it's [Food and Drug Administration] approved. If this vaccine is available in your area -- get it."

Shinseki Outlines Plan to End Veteran Homelessness

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

Nov. 3, 2009 - The secretary of veterans affairs today announced the framework of a bold initiative to end homelessness among veterans within five years. VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki outlined the comprehensive plan to an audience of VA officials, other government representatives and private-sector homeless outreach organizers at the VA National Summit Ending Homelessness Among Veterans here. He called the goal an ambitious one that will take a nationwide collaborative effort to be successful.

"I learned long ago that there are never any absolutes in life, and a goal of zero homeless veterans sure sounds like an absolute," Shinseki said. "But unless we set ambitious targets for ourselves, we would not be giving this our very best efforts. No one who has served this nation as veterans should ever have to be living on the streets."

VA officials estimate that about 131,000 veterans live on the streets throughout the United States. In 2003, the estimate was around 195,000. Although progress is being made, much work is left to be done, especially at the local levels, Shinseki said.

The five-year plan involves efforts from the Education, Labor, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development departments. Also, hard work from the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, state VA directors, veteran service organizations and national, state and local community groups is needed.

"Your local initiatives are crucial," Shinseki said. "That's where the creative fires are built, stoked, and bellowed.

"Sitting in Washington with a 2,000-mile screwdriver trying to fine-tune things at the local level never works," he added. "While much of the effort may begin in Washington, we won't even begin to reach our most modest targets unless local efforts are resourced, creative, aggressive, determined, and successful."

Veterans lead the nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicides. They're also among the leaders in unemployment, the secretary said. Knowing these facts, Shinseki said, provides a baseline to realistically address the homeless issue by attacking the problem before it starts.

The plan, Shinseki said, speaks to a different approach from past VA efforts. The distinction, he noted, lies in VA's attempt at prevention rather than simply getting veterans off the streets.

"If we want to end veteran homelessness, we must attack the entire downward spiral that ends in homelessness," he said. "We must offer education and jobs, treat depression and fight substance abuse, prevent suicides and provide safe housing."

Shinseki noted the Post 9/11 GI Bill gives veterans better education opportunities. He also said that in fiscal 2008, VA granted $1.6 billion in contracts to small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans and encourages other government agencies to do so as well.

"These initiatives are intended to enable veteran-owned small businesses to survive the economic downturn, so they can create jobs for other veterans and help the nation through this economic recovery," he said.

Also, VA will spend more than $3 billion specifically to reduce homelessness, the majority of which is dedicated to medical services, and the remainder -- about $500 million -- on homeless programs, Shinseki said. He added that VA and the Defense Department officially joined forces last week to improve mental health care among servicemembers and veterans.

"The psychological wounds of war affect every generation of veterans," he said. "We know if we diagnose and treat, people usually get better. If we don't, they won't, and sometimes their problems become debilitating. We understand the stigma issue, but we are not going to be dissuaded. We are not giving up on any of our veterans with mental health challenges -- definitely not the homeless."

The secretary also talked about housing for homeless veterans, describing the VA's initiative launched last month to award more than $17 million in grants to create more than 1,100 beds for homeless veterans. The transitional housing will allow "those who slip through our safety nets" to leverage access to VA health care and other benefits, he said. VA officials expect roughly 20,000 veterans to take part in this program this year.

Lastly, Shinseki spoke about VA's concern for incarcerated veterans released from long-term psychiatric care. He noted that an estimated 40,000 veterans are released each year from prison, and if their transition through medical care and employment training are improved, their chances of being re-institutionalized or ending up homeless will lessen.

"We have to do it all -- no missed opportunities in going from 131,000 to zero," he said. "If we are going to end veteran homelessness in five years, we must be efficient, effective, determined, creative and resourceful. We have to get 60 seconds of running out of every minute of homeless work. We have to get 99 cents out of every dollar to end homelessness. We must partner, collaborate, cooperate, and help each other in synergistic ways."


American Auto Logistics, LP, of Park Ridge, N.J., is being awarded a $207,382,618 firm, fixed-price modification for an earned award term under a previously awarded contract (DAMTOI-03-D-0184) to provide continuing services for the transportation and storage of privately owned vehicles. Work will be performed at worldwide locations and is expected to be completed Oct. 31, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Fuzing & Ordnance Systems, Cincinnati, Ohio, was awarded on Oct. 30, 2009 a $98,510,380 firm-fixed-price contract for the production and delivery of M734A1 fuzes, M783 fuzes, M734A1/M783 inert fuzes, M734A1 cutaway fuzes, and M783 cutaway fuzes with four firm-fixed-priced options. Work is to be performed in Cincinnati, Ohio, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 15, 2014. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. U.S. Army Joint Munitions & Lethality, Army Contracting Command, Combat Ammunition Systems Contracting Center, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15QKN-10-C-0015).

Akima Logistics Services, Anchorage, Ark., was awarded on Nov. 2, 2009 a $29,958,521 firm-fixed-price contract for vehicle operations & vehicle maintenance for the West Point, NY Garrison. Work is to be performed in West Point, N.Y., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2004. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with nine bids received. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, DOC, West Point, N.Y., was the contacting activity (W911SD-10-C-0001).

Avon Protection Systems, Inc., Cadillac, Mich., was awarded on Oct. 28, 2009 a $6,576,570 cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for 75,000 audio frequency amplifiers for the joint service general purpose mask program. Work is to be performed in Cadillac, Mich., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Research and Development Command (RDECOM), Edgewood Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W911SR-05-D-0011).

Dix Corp., Spokane, Wash., was awarded on Oct. 28, 2009 a $5,506,002 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract includes all operations required to provide the design and to perform the work required to rehabilitate both existing 375-ton bridge cranes as well as rail replacement and power distribution installation at the John Day Powerhouse. The bridge cranes shall be rerated, tested and certified at 385 tons. Work includes: A. Structural work to replace operator cabs including new captain-style operator's chair with integrated control console on both the north and south bridge cranes. B. Crane rail track replacement. C. Mechanical work includes: replace all wire rope, replace all motors, brakes, and replace coupling, replace seals and bearing, align machinery and gearing to obtain proper alignment, rebuild main and auxiliary lower and upper blocks. D. Electrical work includes: replace the complete existing power and control systems and associated equipment including main line conductors, panels, enclosures, transformers, wiring, wire ways, festoons, and conduit; motors and brakes with winding and enclosure heaters; gear case heater; limit switches; and lighting. As part of the new control system, provide new flux-vector variable frequency drives (VFD) for all hoists, and provide open-loop vector VFDs for all travel. Work is to be performed at John Day Dam located on the Columbia River at Rufus, Ore., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 15, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with two bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, Portland, Ore., is the contracting activity (W9127N-10-C-0002).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Nov. 2, 2009 a $5,356,500 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is to procure the refurbishment of one Egyptian Air Force VIP UH-60 helicopter. Work is to be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CCAM-BH-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0118).

Kollmorgen Corp., Electro-Optical Division, Northampton, Mass., is being awarded a $17,100,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-6248) for the procurement of AN/BVS-1 Photonics Mast sensor units. The AN/BVS-1 photonics mast sensor unit is a non-hull penetrating electronic imaging subsystem of the command and control system. These units incorporate visible, infrared and electronic support measures sensors and stealth features that will provide new capabilities for attack submarines. Work will be performed in Northampton, Mass. (77 percent); Seattle, Wash. (9 percent); Methuen, Mass. (5 percent); Westfield, Mass. (5 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (2 percent), and Orlando, Fla. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2011. 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.

Solpac, Inc. dba Soltek Pacific, San Diego Calif., is being awarded $6,496,350 for firm-fixed price task order #0004 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-06-D-1058) for the design and construction of repairs to Bachelor Enlisted Quarters 210636 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The contract also contains a planned modification, which if issued would increase cumulative contract value to $7,996,350. Work will be performed in Oceanside, Calif., and is expected to be completed by November 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity.

PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, Pa. (N00189-10-D-0007) and Sherwin Williams, Cleveland, Ohio (N00189-10-D-0006), are each being a $6,483,838 awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity with fixed unit prices contract to provide marine coatings approved for Navy shipyards. This contract contains a one-year base period with three one-year option periods, which if exercised, the total contract value is $35,150,321. PPG Industries is receiving a base amount of $1,985,963 with an estimated value if all options are exercised of $10,543,747. Sherwin Williams is receiving a base amount of $4,497,875, with an estimated value if all options are exercised of $24,606,573. Work is to be performed in Puget Sound, Wash. (66 percent); Norfolk, Va. (11 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (15 percent); and Portsmouth, Va. (8 percent). Work is expected to be complete December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $10,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured through Government Points of Entry, Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities, with two offers received. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Florida Detroit Diesel-Allison Inc., Lauderdale, Fla.* is being awarded a maximum $9,344,135 firm fixed price contract for diesel engines with containers. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There were originally two proposals solicited with two responses. This is a five year long term contract. The date of performance completion is October 27, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Warren (DSCC-ZG), Warren, Mich. (SPRDL1-10-D-0011).

VLOC, Inc. of New Port Rickey, Florida was awarded a $6,054,165 contract which will provide for viable manufacturer of high-energy laser weapons systems-grade polycrystalline laser gain material that is responsive to customer requirements. At this time, $4,929,941has been obligated. AFRL/PKMD, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. (FA8650-10-2-5504)

Leaders Urged to Promote Resilience in Troops

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 3, 2009 - Resilience is not issued when you join the service, but it can and must be built to prevent post-war mental health problems, a Navy official told attendees at the Warrior Resilience Conference here today. Navy Rear Adm. Karen Flaherty, director of the Navy's Nurse Corps and deputy chief of the Bureau of Medicine's wounded, ill and injured section, urged more than 400 people who gathered here to learn the best practices in the mental health care of soldiers and veterans.

The conference is subtitled "Full Operational Capability," and it has two connotations. The first is that warriors affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries or other combat-related psychological ailments receive the care they need and deserve to return to full capability.

The other is a challenge for commanders, supervisors, clinicians and care givers to ensure the processes and policies are in place to give those affected the best care. "In the Navy, we want to make sure the seabag is full of things that make a difference as we move forward," Flaherty said.

Resilience is the human capacity to prepare for, recover from and adjust to life in the face of stress, adversity or trauma, she said, and can be gained, lost and taught.

Resilience is a result of biology, the environment and the choices people make, Flaherty said. "It is important for us to understand how individuals, families and units can build resilience and can be better prepared to adapt and even thrive in stressful environments," she said.

Mental health professionals need to understand what contributes to personal resilience, Flaherty said, listing critical attributes as critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills, a positive outlook, an ability to embrace change and a sense of humor.

"Trusting and supportive relationships also play a role in resilience," she said. "The ability to investigate solutions without getting worked up and the ability to manage strong feelings and impulses also contribute."

In the military, units also must be resilient, Flaherty said, and that happens with high morale, unit cohesion, pride in the unit's mission and pride in leaders. Units that face adversity can even strengthen their resilience, she said, as they become more agile and can adapt easier.

Individuals can increase resilience through common-sense strategies such as getting enough sleep, eating correctly and exercising, she said. It also helps for commanders to use after-action reports and critiques to encourage troops to talk about their experiences, she added.

Leaders must understand that they are as responsible for the good mental health of their servicemembers as they are of the physical health of their troops, Flaherty said.

"Tough, realistic training develops physical and mental strength and endurance," she said. "It enhances each servicemember's confidence in their abilities and their ability to cope with the familiar and unfamiliar."

Medical, ministry and other support groups are critical to building resilience. "It is about the team," she said.
But it is the line leaders – the unit commanders and noncommissioned officers – who have the largest responsibility, Flaherty said. "They balance the operational requirement to expose those servicemembers to risk against the imperative to preserve their health and readiness," she said.

Leaders have to be aware of the strains that servicemembers and their families are under. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the department has invested billions of dollars in trying to help families, Flaherty said.

"Our military families, when compared to families at large, are quite resilient, but also quite vulnerable," she said. "The frequency and length of deployments can create extraordinary pressure for many."

Developing resilience is not a science, and it will take years to determine what works best. "But we need to move now," she said. "We'll know more in five years, but we know more today than we did a year ago, so we act upon what we know and move forward.

"We can't wait for the perfect solution," she continued, "because the war will continue, the warriors will continue to be wounded, and we'll still have gaps in care."

Mullen Praises World War II Japanese-American Troops

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 3, 2009 - For three days in October 1944, a Japanese-American military unit fought in dense woods, heavy fog and freezing temperatures in the mountains of France, answering the prayers of an American battalion pinned down by German forces. In a bloody rescue mission that became one of World War II's most famed battles, more than 800 troops fighting with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team died as the unit saved 217 American forces.

"The 442nd, for its size and length of service, is the most decorated unit in the entire history of the United States military," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this week in remarks before the Japanese American Memorial Fund. "Their story has taught me so many things and has likely inspired all who have heard it."

German forces had cut off the Texas National Guard's 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, in the Vosges Mountains when commanders ordered in the 442nd. The German troops already had repelled repeated rescue attempts by the 141st's other two battalions.

Nearly half of the men in the Japanese-American unit would be dead or wounded three days later, with the Texas battalion still isolated.

"Then, something happened in the 442nd," according to an official account at the Army Center for Military History. "By ones and twos, almost spontaneously and without orders, the men got to their feet and, with a kind of universal anger, moved toward the enemy position. Bitter hand-to-hand combat ensued as the Americans fought from one fortified position to the next. Finally, the enemy broke in disorder."

The original 4,000 men had to be replaced nearly three and a half times. In total, about 14,000 men served at the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, ultimately earning 9,486 Purple Hearts, 21 Medals of Honor, and an unprecedented eight Presidential Unit Citations, Mullen told an audience that included troops from the 442nd and 141st.

"I am truly humbled in the deepest sense possible to be in their midst, to share with you some of the many lessons I have learned from their intrepid service," he said. "Their story has taught me so many things and has likely inspired all who have heard it."

Mullen said a study of what inspired Japanese-American troops is a lesson in pride, courage and a heartfelt belief in the liberties promised by the U.S. Constitution.

"These Japanese-Americans nobly volunteered to serve the very country who persecuted and imprisoned them and their families," Mullen said, referring to the U.S. policy of placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. "Yet, these Japanese-Americans who chose to serve felt not only a deep sense of patriotism, but they also felt that they had to prove their patriotism, their loyalty to a then-ungrateful nation."

The chairman said he derives another important lesson from the 442nd from an anecdote about one of the unit's officers. When a Colonel Kim, a Korean-American, was told to transfer out of the unit because of a historical Korean-Japanese friction, he refused the order.

"'They are Americans. I am an American. And together, we are going to fight for America,'" Mullen said, quoting Kim.

"In everything we do, every choice we make," Mullen continued, "we should strive to make our communities and this nation as rich and diverse as possible by living up to the principles upon which the United States of America was founded."

Mental Health Pros Meet to Consider Treatments

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 3, 2009 - Improving mental health care for servicemembers and veterans requires a coordinated effort beyond health care providers and the military community, the Pentagon's top mental health expert said here today. Opening the second Warrior Resilience Conference, Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Loree K. Sutton, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, asked the more than 400 attendees to learn from each other and the presenters as the military looks for the best way to build psychological resilience in the force.

The conference brings together line supervisors, clinicians, care providers and experts from around the United States to deal with the signature psychological injuries of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The general set the tone early about the scope of the problem. "As a nation, we have never asked so much from so few on behalf of so many," Sutton said. "Failure is not an option. The needs of our warriors, our veterans, their family members, must come first."

Candor, transparency, speed, and accountability are non-negotiable virtues for treating those in the field. Results – real, measurable results – must guide the effort as it moves forward, she said.

"And we must work as a team," she added. "This is not about competition."

Sutton joked that her office, which serves as a clearinghouse for treatments, steals the good ideas of others. "Yes. Of course we do!" she said. "We exist so we can look over the horizon and we can dig into the other agencies.

"It is our privilege to leave no stone unturned in finding leading practices and promising principles ... so we can catalyze new knowledge and action and we can accelerate positive change," Sutton said as she called for a Manhattan Project-type of national unity and effort to help those most affected.

The invisible wounds of war are a public health challenge, Sutton said, and the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are not the sole owners of the effort. People and communities across the United States have to participate as well, said the general added.

And the movement in support of psychological health is not limited to mental health professionals, Sutton said. Members of faith communities, business communities, schools and employers also must be involved with treatment and must work together to ensure that servicemembers and their families get the help they need, she told the conferees.

The use of the reserve components in the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan means that men and women from almost every community in the United States are doing their part, the general said. But because they don't live on or near a military installation, they may not be getting the support they need. She asked that all at the conference look for ways to reach out to these people.

U.S. troops and their families understand resilience in a way that most Americans don't, Sutton said. "They know what's important: relationships, families, connections," she said. The conference mission is to help troops and families strengthen that resilience, she said, adding that the effort will require a new outlook for the military.

"If we fail to transform our culture, we will have missed the boat," Sutton said. "This 'suck-it-up' [military] culture yields a vulnerability that places our health, our safety, our security, our families and our futures at risk. To prevail, leaders at all levels must work together to build strength through nurturing, connection, trust, courage and resilience."

Training Range Environmental Evaluation and Characterization System

ERDC/EL TR-09-11
Methods for Tier 1 Modeling within the Training Range Environmental Evaluation and Characterization System by Mark S. Dortch, Jeffrey A. Gerald, and Billy E. Johnson

The Training Range Environmental Evaluation and Characterization System (TREECS) is being developed for the Army with varying levels of capability to forecast the fate and risk of munitions constituents (MC), such as high explosives (HE), within and transported from firing/training ranges to surface water and groundwater. The overall objective is to provide the range manager with tools to assess range management strategies to meet environmental compliance goals. Tier 1 will consist of screening-level methods that require minimal data input requirements and can be easily and quickly applied by range managers or their local environmental staff to assess whether or not there is potential for MC compliance concern, such as predicted surface water and/or groundwater MC concentrations exceeding protective health benchmarks at receptor locations.

This report describes the Army’s existing and perceived future requirements for TREECS Tier 1 tools and provides recommendations and a plan for technology developments to meet those needs. The information provided in this report is sufficient to serve as design and specifications for development of models and software that will comprise Tier 1 of TREECS. The details of the model formulations provided herein can also serve as documentation for the Tier 1 TREECS models.

The highly conservative assumptions of steady-state (time-invariant) conditions and no MC degradation are used. Thus, MC loadings to the range are constant over time, and fluxes to and concentrations within receiving water media reach a constant MC concentration for comparison to protective ecological and human health benchmarks. Tier 1 will include an analytical range soil model with its computed leaching flux linked to a semi-analytical-numerical aquifer model and with its computed runofferosion flux linked to a numerical surface water model. Tier 1 will also include an MC loading module, a hydro-geo-chemical toolkit for estimating input parameters, constituent databases for chemical-specific properties, and a database of ecological and human protective health benchmarks. All components will be packaged within a user-friendly PC client-based application with an emphasis on ease of use.

If you wish to access/download the document (68 pages, 1.91 mb) in pdf format, the address is: http://libweb.wes.army.mil/uhtbin/hyperion/EL-TR-09-11.pdf

Test Pilot Takes Equipment Downrange

By Kari Hawkins
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 3, 2009 - Experimental test pilot Army Chief Warrant Officer Cary Nadeau views his job as being the consumer advocate for Army aviators. And like any good consumer advocate, he reaches out to his customers – in his case, in combat zones. Nadeau, 38, recently left for his fourth deployment – his third to Iraq – as one of the Army's 30 experimental test pilots to show Chinook pilots the benefits of new technology tested by the Redstone Test Center here.

Chinook helicopters flown by pilots of the 25th Infantry Division's 25th Combat Aviation Brigade are the first to be equipped with a laser-based countermeasure system designed to shoot laser energy at incoming infrared missiles to redirect them away from the aircraft.

"It looks like two R2-D2 heads on the side of the aircraft," Nadeau said. "They provide an added layer of protection against infrared missiles by using laser energy to spoof them or direct them in a different direction. The lasers work automatically to confuse the missile. It's all about increasing the survivability of the aircraft."

Because of their limited number, experimental test pilots are assigned only to brigades fielding equipment being used for the first time on major systems or airframes. Nadeau has flown test flights with the laser-based countermeasure system that he will support in Iraq, and possibly Afghanistan, where he could be transferred about midway through the deployment to support another unit of Chinooks being equipped with the system.

"Eventually, all of the Army's Chinooks will have this system," he said.

Nadeau recently transferred to Redstone Arsenal as part of the merger of Fort Rucker's Aviation Technical Test Center with the Redstone Technical Test Center. He is assigned to the Redstone Test Center to perform test flights on new technology for Chinook helicopters.

During his six-month deployment, Nadeau said, his mission, first of all, is to be a soldier. "Second, it is to embed with the aviation brigade to impart my experience in flight testing," he said.

"My job is to dispel myths and rumors about the new equipment, to train the soldiers on how the technology works and to bring information back to Redstone Test Center on how well the system is operating in real use situations," he explained. "I've seen this system flown. I've seen it work against real live missiles. I can impart that confidence to the pilots of the 25th."

It's critical, when flying a Chinook, that the aircraft have the "capability of protecting itself from outside forces," Nadeau said. Geneva Convention rules prohibit medical evacuation Chinooks from shooting back when fired upon, so their crews must rely heavily on armed escorts and multilayered defense systems, he added.

Nadeau will serve as a liaison between the brigade and the test center.

"We're shifting this system from testing to now flying," he said. "We will gain more experience from the pilots in Iraq that we can use productively in the test community. This keeps us relevant."

Nadeau's role is an offshoot of a program started after 9/11 when the Army Test and Evaluation Command and Fort Rucker's test center used forward operational assessment teams in theater in support of new technology.

"ATTC realized then the importance to staying relevant to the fight," Nadeau said. "We needed to look at new systems in theater and help in the deployment of new systems." Since then, commanders began requesting experimental test pilots for their brigades.

"We offer a very good liaison capability between the brigade and program managers, airworthiness managers and test managers," Nadeau said. "We can get commanders things - information, technology and equipment - that they can use in their brigades while in theater."

Nadeau enlisted in the Air Force and served as a firefighter for seven years before joining the Army's warrant officer program 12 years ago. He first deployed to Kosovo in 1999 and 2000, where he flew Black Hawk helicopters. During his first deployment to Iraq in 2003, Nadeau served with the 507th Medical Company, assigned to the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, where he flew Chinook medical evacuation missions.

"It was during the initial invasion, the main push into Baghdad," he recalled. "It was real quick. Most of our medevac missions involved soldiers who happened to get injured by a mine in a field."

In his second deployment to Iraq, he flew a medevac Chinook for the 1st Marine Division, mostly in the western regions of Fallujah and Ramadi. "The enemy had gotten smarter, and there were a lot of [improvised explosive devices]," he said. "Our bus picked up a lot of Marines."

Nadeau left Oct. 24 for his third deployment to Iraq. Before leaving Redstone, he met with Army Maj. Gen. Jim Myles, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command, and aircraft program managers to establish a rapport that will serve him well in his liaison role.

"The message I received from General Myles and all the program managers is that they are there to support the warfighter 24/7," he said.

Besides supporting warfighters, Nadeau views his deployment as a way to gain a better understanding of theater requirements.

"I think staying relevant is the big thing," he said. "We need to keep our testers relevant to the current fight so that we keep our credibility with the soldiers.

"It's sort of a role reversal," he continued. "To stay credible with soldiers and soldier pilots, I'm going over there to eat dirt, walk my boots in the sand, fly missions and be a soldier with them."

Although he will fly Chinooks and primarily support technical issues involving the Chinook, Nadeau also supports technical questions involving the unit's Black Hawk, Apache and Kiowa helicopters.

"Army pilots typically fly one airframe," he said. "But as an experimental test pilot, those divisions go away, the lines dissolve. I will be used where my expertise is, but I can also work outside my expertise to provide a fresh view of any of the airframes flown by the brigade."

For example, if a technical issue arises involving the brigade's Apache helicopter, Nadeau has the expertise to get involved, formulate the issue and communicate it back to program managers for resolution.

Being an experimental test pilot has allowed Nadeau to get more involved in how the Army acquires new aircraft. "I fly a plethora of different aircraft, and test lots of systems," he said.

During experimental testing, pilots look for flaws in new systems. Nadeau recently performed several test flights for a new infrared exhaust suppressor that reduces the Chinook's heat signature so that it is more difficult to detect by heat-seeking missiles. During those tests, Nadeau discovered flaws in the infrared exhaust suppressor system that resulted in a system redesign.

"We don't say 'Buy it' or 'Don't buy it,'" he said. "We tell the good things, the bad things and the safety things about an aircraft or its systems and subsystems. We answer questions like 'Is it safe?' and 'Does it function the way it is supposed to?'"

Once his deployment is complete, Nadeau will return to Redstone and resume flight testing for the test center.

"The projects we test are always changing," he said. "I will just fall right back into the test schedule."

(Kari Hawkins works in the U.S. Army Garrison Redstone public affairs office.)