Military News

Monday, November 09, 2009

MILITARY CONTRACTS November 9, 2009

AIR FORCE
Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., of Herndon, Va., was awarded a $108,771,191 contract which will provide for the operation of a survivability/vulnerability information analysis center for a three-year option period. At this time, no money has been obligated. The contracting activity is 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., (SP0700-03-D-1380).

NAVY
General Atomics, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $102,200,000 modification to the previously awarded Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System Ship-set undefinitized contract action (N68335-09-C-0573) to provide for the production of one advanced arresting gear system ship-set for CVN-78. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (35 percent); Mt. Pleasant, Pa. (28 percent); Tupelo, Miss. (15 percent); Waltham, Mass. (12 percent); and Aston, Pa. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contracting activity is the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, N.Y., is being awarded a $15,570,058 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) to provide Phase I aircraft data management efforts in support of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System Development and Demonstration program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y. (71.3 percent); Grand Rapids, Mich. (9.3 percent); Woodland Hills, Calif. (6 percent); St. Augustine, Fla. (5.4 percent); Cedar Rapids, Iowa (3 percent); Norfolk, Va. (2.2 percent); and various locations within the United States (2.8 percent). Work is expected to be completed in July 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $11,030,005 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contracting activity is the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md.

NexGen Communications LLC, Dulles, Va., is being awarded a $9,687,500 firm-fixed-price contract for the supply of 1,450 distributed tactical communication systems- radio only (DTCS-RO) communication devices. The DTCS-RO communication devices are communications systems that are hand-held, on-the-move, over-the-horizon, beyond line-of-sight command and control systems suitable for tactical operations. Work will be performed in Dulles, Va., and is expected to be completed by March 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $9,687,500 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The contracting activity is the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., (N00178-10-C-3056).
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems – Marine Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $6,793,942 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract to provide preliminary SSP Alteration (SPALT) design of the D5 missile, hoist S/N 0002 upgrade for shipyard use only. As part of the preliminary SPALT design effort, the contractor shall refurbish, modify or replace parts of the existing hoist to bring the hoist to a condition and configuration capable of accomplishing active inert missile moves on a ballistic missile submarine. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, Calif. (20 percent), and Kings Bay, Ga. (80 percent). Work is expected to be completed July 31, 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured. The contracting activity is the Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., (N00030-10-C-0028).

Symposium Draws Top Medical Professionals

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 9, 2009 - The conference room was filled with doctors, nurses, scientists and top officials, all subject-matter experts in their respective medical fields. Some wore military uniforms, others business suits. Some were versed on the science of traumatic brain injuries. Others were veterans of combat hospital trauma.

They gathered here Nov. 6 to discuss how to be better partners in research and care. For the good of the troops, both sides need to work together, they said.

But for all the slides, illustrations, videos and questions, the reality of such a partnership walked to the podium during lunch.

"I stand here today as an example of a miracle -- the power of military and civilian medicine coming together," said Army Lt. Col. Gregory Gadson.

Gadson was the guest of award-winning singer Faith Hill at the Partnership for Military Medicine symposium, a two-day event aimed at promoting better cooperation between military and civilian research and medicine. Standing before the crowd on two of the most advanced prosthetic legs in the world, Gadson served as testament to benefits of a partnership between the two medical worlds.

"It makes it possible for me to live. But not only live, but stand here and talk to you today," he said.

A roadside bomb in Iraq destroyed Gadson's legs in May 2007. In the two years that have followed, he has tested some of the most advance prosthetic devices available.

Gadson was the first person to use the finished version of the Power Knee2, a next-generation powered prosthetic knee featuring new artificial intelligence and sensor technology that makes it possible for above-the-knee amputees to walk with increased confidence, safety and a more natural gait.

The Army officer became involved in the project when the designers asked him to walk on the original Power Knee produced in 2006. Gadson traveled to Iceland, where the designer is based, to participate in the development.

He praised both his military and civilian doctors for their efforts to "push the envelope" in advancing prosthetic devices.

"They realize that we can still be courageous, not only on the battlefield, but as we try to get our lives together," Gadson said.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced similar advancements in other medical fields, officials at the seminar said. The lessons the military learns feed civilian medical professionals, and vice versa.

"Every major conflict since the civil war has produced improvements in military medicine that have also had a direct impact on civilian health," said Ellen P. Embrey, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and acting director of Tricare Management Activity, speaking at the symposium.

Medical lessons learned in wartime spurred the development of mobile hospitals and improved amputation procedures. They documented links between immediate treatment and survival and sanitation and infection.

In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy's use of improvised explosive devices have led to advancements in treating injuries that in past wars would have been fatal, Embrey said.

The advancements have spread to the lowest level. In the field, new bandages are fielded that can stop severe bleeding almost instantly.

Even Gadson noted the advancements in the field first-aid kits from the time he served in the 1991 Gulf War until now. He went through 129 pints of blood the night of his injury. Gadson acknowledged that if he had suffered the same injuries in his first deployment, he likely would not be alive today.

The development of prosthetic devices has seen a revolution in the past eight years, Embrey said, including a hand that can be moved by thought, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Other recent military medical advances include a portable sensor system that guides combat medics during resuscitation; robotic support for battlefield tele-surgery; and regenerative medicine that includes techniques that prompt the body to regenerate cells and tissues.

Embrey cited remarkable advances in head injury treatment, as well as facial reconstruction and efforts to identify and treat traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Defense Department officials would like to accelerate the translation of medical technology into deployed products, Embrey said, and collaboration with civilian partners accelerates this opportunity.

She cited a recent department initiative that offers special funding for medical programs for which research can be translated quickly into treatments for wounded warriors to restore form and function and help them reclaim independence. Recipients of the funds have to achieve clinical use within 18 months.

Last month, two civilian hospitals were awarded such funding -- one was for facial reconstruction and the second for surgical techniques that can precisely shape facial features.

But for all of the advances to date, Embrey said, the future includes closer cooperation between civilian and military medical professionals.

"Today, the military cannot make all of these advancements without collaboration with our civilian partners," she said. "And the pace of making medical improvements depends on that collaboration."

Chaplain Helps Others Fight Stress

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 9, 2009 - Readers of Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" can put the book aside when they've had enough of their mind's reaction of the brutal 1993 battle of Mogadishu, Somalia. But Chaplain (Maj.) Jeff Struecker isn't that lucky. The decorated Army Ranger was charged with leading the ground assault force on all the targets that the task force hit in Somalia.

"I had been shot at and seen many dead warriors [before Mogadishu]," Struecker said. "I never experienced anything like the violence and the overwhelming sense of desperation like I experienced in Somalia. After losing one of my men and having many others wounded around me, I found a great sense of peace and courage through my faith."

Struecker, who also deployed to Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East in 1991, went back and forth into Mogadishu three times during the main firefight.

His experience in the Somalian capital was a turning point for the soldier who's currently deployed to Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regimental Special Troops Battalion.

"My wife, Dawn, and I had a great relationship before Somalia, but after the operation we both understood just how fragile human life is and how valuable our relationship is," he said. "Somalia helped me put my priorities in order."

It also led him to consider pursuing a different aspect of his military career.

"After the big firefight was over, I had many men that I work with asking me questions about matters of faith and how to deal with the trauma of an event like this," Struecker said. "It was this experience -- talking with my friends about combat stress and faith in Jesus Christ after the big firefight -- that caused me to start thinking about becoming an Army chaplain."

Since 2001, every time Struecker has deployed, it's been as a chaplain, drawing on the combat experiences he's had during his 22-year military career to help servicemembers dealing with the traumatic stress they may be feeling.

"I talk to them about what has helped me and others in similar situations like theirs," he said. "I [also] work diligently to stay abreast of resources for warriors who are struggling with the weight of their profession."

Those resources are much more plentiful than they were in the days surrounding Mogadishu, Struecker said.

"The task force had a unit psychologist and a chaplain available to answer questions and work with guys, but most of them were overloaded with the amount of people coming to see them," he said. "The U.S. military, and specifically the [Department of] Veterans Affairs, has done greater work in the past few years helping warriors deal with the stress of combat than I have ever seen in my life."

Struecker is deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Benning, Ga. He and his wife, Dawn, are both from Fort Dodge, Iowa, and have five children -- six, if you count the family's black Labrador retriever.

"[He] acts like one of our children most of the time," Struecker said.

Struecker, who enjoys reading and running in his off-duty hours, said he feels strongly about helping other servicemembers deal with the traumatic stress they may feel after combat.

"It is an enormous burden to carry for those warriors that have been directly affected by the stress of severe combat," Struecker said. "Our nation owes all our warriors a debt of gratitude. We especially need to honor these courageous men and women for their service to our country and for the sacrifices that their families have made for our freedoms."

Struecker recently received the "Unsung Hero" award for using his experiences to help others dealing with the effects of traumatic stress. The award was presented at the Country United Gala here, the final piece of a two-day event that included the Partnership for Military Medicine Symposium.

The symposium highlighted discoveries in military medicine and fostered collaborations among military and civilian partners to further advance research and clinical care. The Country United Gala recognized the efforts of medical researchers, clinicians, and educators, as well as friends of military medicine.

The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine joined with the Tug McGraw Foundation to present the symposium and gala.

The Tug McGraw Foundation was established in 2003 to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors, and in 2009 expanded programs to include post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Officials Plan Fort Hood Memorial Service

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 9, 2009 - President Barack Obama will join Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. at Fort Hood, Texas, tomorrow for a ceremony to honor the victims of the Nov. 5 shooting rampage that left 13 dead and 38 wounded. Many of those wounded in the attack have recovered enough to attend the ceremony, said Army Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commander of 3rd Corps and Fort Hood.

"We still have 15 of our great soldiers hospitalized; eight are in intensive care, and seven are in wards," Cone said during a news conference at Fort Hood today. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families during this difficult time."

Cone said he is most concerned that the healing phase begins. "I think what's absolutely critical is that we understand the nature of what has happened here," he told reporters. "There are probably about 600 people who were somehow directly touched by this incident."

Cone said authorities' initial focus in these last three days has been working on getting those 600 people the right behavioral assessments and counseling.

Now, officials are dealing with the larger population at the sprawling post. "I had a very good session yesterday with ... the civilian personnel and the soldiers who worked at the soldier readiness site, and had a good opportunity to address their concerns," Cone said. "And ... they began their processing through this critical-incident debrief process."

Soldiers are among the best prepared to deal with the stress of this incident, the general noted, because they have had training and experience. "Many of us are used to being in theater, and something like this happens, and we come back right away. We get on with the mission. We do the memorial service, we send our comrades home, and then we move on with the mission," he said.

But dealing with the civilians and families poses more of a challenge. They've always considered the base to be a safe place, Cone noted, and now officials must devise ways to help them. "We are right now in the process of executing a comprehensive program to address the needs of all of these populations," he said.

Officials also must find ways to help soldiers who suffered post-traumatic stress from earlier combat-related incidents, Cone said. They, too, saw Fort Hood as a safe place. "We don't really know what the impact of something like this has on them," the general acknowledged.

The Army has mobilized resources to help, with 27 military family life consultants, 18 combat stress control teams, 41 behavioral health specialists and 57 ministry support teams on the ground at Fort Hood.

"We have additional resources coming in as we need it," Cone said. "As General Casey tells me, the entire resources of the United States Army are at the disposal of Fort Hood and its population to help deal with the impact of this event."

People who wish to donate to aid the victims and the families have a number of options.

Checks can be mailed to:

Chaplain's Fund Office
Bldg 44, 761st Tank Battalion Ave.
Fort Hood, TX 76544-5000

Checks should be made payable to "CTOF" -- which stands for Chapel's Tithes and Offerings Fund -- with a note on the memo line stating "Nov. 5 Tragedy."

Contributions on behalf of Fort Hood soldiers also can be made to:

Fisher House
Bldg 36015, Fisher Lane
Fort Hood, TX 76544

For questions about the Fisher House operation, phone 254-286-7927 or 254-286-7929.

Donations also can be made through the Red Cross:

Killeen Red Cross
208 W. Ave. A
Killeen, TX 76541
Phone 254-200-4400 or visit http://www.waco.redcross.org.

Finally, donations can be made through the USO:

USO Fort Hood
Building 1871, 50th St.
Fort Hood, TX 76544
Phone: 254-768-2771 or visit http://www.uso.org.

In related news, the Army Criminal Investigation Command is seeking anyone who may have left the area of the shooting with gunshot damage to their vehicles or clothing, and anyone who may inadvertently have left the scene with material that could be used as evidence -- shell casings inside their boot, for example.

The evidence would aid CID and FBI investigators, officials said.

Officials said gunshot-damaged material needs to be inspected by the soldier's or civilian's supervisor or chain of command, and commanders or first sergeants must verify that the person providing the evidence was at the scene.

VFW Gives Troops Free Talk Time on Veterans Day

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 9, 2009 - Deployed and hospitalized servicemembers are expected to make about 120,000 calls home this Veterans Day, and it won't cost them one thin dime. The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization is once again offering "Free Call Day" through its Operation Uplink program. USAA, which offers financial services to servicemembers, is sponsoring the day of free phoning, which is expected to total some 1 million minutes.

"We are very pleased to join forces with USAA, an association recognized as a devoted friend and advocate of the military community, to offer a special Veterans Day Free Call Day," said Dan Shea, director of the VFW Foundation. "Calling home, even for a few brief minutes, is a tremendous morale boost for our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, and helps families stay connected despite deployments."

Servicemembers can visit one of nearly 900 Internet cafes in Iraq and Afghanistan between midnight and 11:59 p.m. Iraq time to place their free call home. Callers will need a SPAWAR prepaid personal identification number. The PINs can be obtained by visiting the SPAWAR site, http://www.oif.spawareurope.net/index.htm. SPAWAR is a contractor that provides voice-over-Internet phone service for deployed forces.

In other locations where a PIN number has been requested, the free calls also will be available at hospitals and morale, welfare and recreation service centers on bases worldwide. Users will have to make their calls between the same hours Iraqi time, as well.

Internet café managers may have a PIN available for non-account holders to use on Nov. 11 only.

"At USAA ... it is our privilege to support the VFW's Operation Uplink, which gives [servicemembers] an opportunity to hear their loved ones' voices, helping ease the burden of separation that military service often requires," said retired Navy Rear Adm. John Townes, vice president of military affairs for USAA. "As we expand our business to serve many more military veterans, we look forward to additional opportunities to work with the VFW to help those who serve our nation as well as those who have served."

The VFW launched Operation Uplink in 1996. It has contributed more than 105 million minutes of free calling time to U.S. servicemembers. The program works exclusively with DRS Technical Services to provide the Free Call Day program.

USA Cares Announces Details of Fort Hood

Family Emergency Fund
Emergency fund will assist families with travel, housing and meals
Radcliff, KY—USA Cares has established the Fort Hood Family Emergency Fund in response to the tragic events that occurred last Thursday afternoon on the base of the Army’s largest installation. The fund, which serves to assist the immediate families of those wounded and killed, will provide for travel, housing and meals.

Bill Nelson, USA Cares Executive Director remarked, “Our goal is to ensure that victim’s family members do not have to worry about the financial hardships of travel at this time—we encourage them to visit our website for information on eligibility and benefits. Further, we ask Americans everywhere to go to www.usacares.org and donate in light of this tragedy.”

Those needing assistance may contact Forest Bruner of USA Cares directly at 800.773.0387. Bruner, a 20-year US Army retiree, is fielding calls directly in lieu of the normal online application. Visit www.usacares.org to donate to USA Care’s Fort Hood Family Emergency Fund.

About USA Cares
USA Cares is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that helps post 9/11 military families bear the burdens of service with financial and advocacy support. Its mission: To help with basic needs during financial crisis, to assist combat injured veterans and their families and to prevent private military home foreclosures and evictions. In six years, USA Cares has received over 19,000 requests and responded with more than $6 million in grants. US military families anywhere can apply for assistance through the USA Cares web site or by calling 800.773.0387. For more information on USA Cares contact John Revell or call 270.352.5451.

Casey Pledges Progress on Mental Health Resources

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 9, 2009 - The Army has worked hard on developing programs to maintain the psychological health of the service, but much more needs to be done, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said yesterday. Appearing on the CNN program "State of the Union," Casey reflected on his "gut-wrenching" and "up-lifting" visit to Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 6, the day after 13 people were murdered in a shooting spree, allegedly by an Army psychiatrist.

The general said the experience was gut-wrenching "because the suspect is one of our own, and it happened on one of our bases." But he added that he was heartened by stories of soldiers rushing to one another's aid. "But it's a kick in the gut," he said.
Because the alleged gunman is Muslim, the general expressed concern about the possibility of backlash against other Muslim soldiers. "I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that," he said. "As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well."

About 3,000 Muslim soldiers serve in the Army. The general said he doesn't believe there is discrimination against them, but that continued speculation on the alleged gunman's motivation might cause a backlash.

Casey emphasized that the Army has stressed mental fitness for several years and has launched campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with seeking health for psychological trauma. The service needs to do more, the general acknowledged, but has made a good start in bringing to the forefront the need to seek help for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury – the signature psychological wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment is not just an Army problem, Casey noted. "This is a societal problem that we all have to wrestle with," he said.

The Army has hired more than 900 additional medical health providers in the last two years, Casey said, and the Tricare military health system has hired more than 2,800.

In addition, Casey said, a Defense Department military family life consultants program sends certified behavioral health specialists to Army brigades returning from deployment.

"It is a challenge, across the country, in the number of mental health providers that are available, particularly in rural areas," Casey said. "It's something that we all need to work together."

The Army is stressed and out of balance, Casey acknowledged. Many soldiers have deployed a number of times, and the service needs to increase the amount of "dwell time" soldiers spend at home stations between deployments. "We started in 2007 with a program to get ourselves back in balance by 2011," he said.

The Army has added 40,000 active duty soldiers since 2007 and has ended the 15-month deployments that were necessary to maintain the surge in Iraq. Officials also are working to eliminate the practice known as "Stop-Loss," in which the Army holds on to selected soldiers beyond their enlistment contracts.

"We're beginning to come off of Stop-Loss, and we're beginning to gradually increase the time the soldiers spend at home between deployments," Casey said. "We need to continue to make progress toward that goal of one year out, two years back, for the active force [and] one year out, four years back, for the Guard and Reserve."

Studies show that after a year in combat, it takes about two years to get stress levels back to normal garrison levels, Casey said.

Suicides have increased in the Army since 2004, and last year, the service exceeded the civilian rate.
"Unfortunately, the progression will remain about the same this year," Casey said. "We'll exceed the number of suicides last year."

The general noted the Army conducted a "suicide stand-down" across the entire force.

"One of the things as we looked at the challenges facing the Army was that we felt we were a little light on the preventive measures -- in giving soldiers the skills that they need to prevent mental problems and suicides," he said. "So we instituted in October a program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which is a long-term development program designed to build resilience in our soldiers. And it's already implemented across the force.

"Tomorrow, we'll have 150 sergeants and a few family members up at University of Pennsylvania going through the first course to build master resilience trainers," he continued. "And our goal is by next year to have one of these trainers in every battalion in the Army. So we're looking at it both from the preventive side and from the assistance and treatment side."

The service continues to learn from incidents, and will learn from the suicide prevention program and the Fort Hood tragedy, the general said.

"We have to go back and look at ourselves and ask ourselves the hard questions. Are we doing the right things?" he said. "It's way too early to draw any kind of specific conclusions from it, but we'll ask ourselves the hard questions about what we're doing and about what changes we should make as a result of this incident at Fort Hood."

Gates Delegates Training Decision to Army Secretary

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 9, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has delegated the authority to order up to 45 days of pre-mobilization training for reserve-component soldiers to the secretary of the Army. The change will allow Army Secretary John M. McHugh to authorize "contiguous training" for selected National Guard and Army Reserve units. The delegation authority will last for one year.

The term refers to inactive duty training or annual training conducted immediately before units are mobilized for federal service.

"This whole request originated with the state and territory adjutants general," said Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. State National Guard leaders asked for clarification of Gates' policy on the use of reserve-component forces. A big part of the policy is that federal mobilization would last for one year, including train-up and deployment.

Previously, Gates personally approved contiguous training for some units where it made sense, McCarthy said, and this is the reason for the delegation of authority to the Army, where the same rules will apply. Reserve-component aviation units can receive up to 45 days of contiguous training. Other types of units can receive up to 30 days contiguous training.

Contiguous training also helps to ensure unit soldiers get sufficient training, even in cases of late notification or personnel fills. "We do not expect every unit will want or need contiguous training," McCarthy said.

This will mean less turmoil among servicemembers, their families and employers, McCarthy said. Under the old system, units would train in weeklong or two-week increments. "This meant an on-again, off-again cycle of training, and employers, particularly, found this difficult," he said.

Allowing contiguous training means soldiers go through the training closer to home and often can spend nights or weekends at home. "The bottom line for the adjutants general was they felt this was a less disruptive policy for soldiers, families and employers," McCarthy said.

Gates put the one-year limit in place in 2007 because some reservists were being called to active duty and spending 16 to 24 months away from home. The defense secretary wanted to cut the stress on reservists, their families and their employers, and move to the ideal of one year deployed to five years at home.

"The bottom-line key question for Secretary Gates on this was whether approving it would break faith with soldiers and their families," McCarthy said. "He studied the proposal long and hard, and met with all those involved."

The proposal moved up the chain and picked up the concurrence of the chief of the Army Reserve, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, the Army chief of staff, the Army secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs chairman, concurred with their recommendation in a July 22 letter to the secretary.

McCarthy has met with mobilizing soldiers. "It's not universal, but the vast majority feel this is a better way to go," he said.

Gates has tasked McCarthy to study the situation and address pre- and post-deployment requirements. McCarthy must submit his report by June 30.