Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Guard contributed in Battle of the Bulge

Compiled from NGB historical records

(12/16/09) - Four National Guard infantry divisions were involved in repelling a German counterattack on the western front in what became known as the "Battle of the Bulge" in mid-December of 1944.

Earlier this week, the 65th anniversary of the month-long battle was commemorated in the city of Bastogne, Belgium, which in World War II was under siege by the German army.

When the Germans struck on Dec. 16, 1944, VIII Corps was stretched more than 80 miles from Belgium across the Ardennes Forest in Luxembourg. The 28th Infantry Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard was among the first units attacked along "Skyline Drive

The division was deployed in a general north-south direction and spread out along 24 miles. More than three German divisions, including the elite Panzer Lehr, struck the overextended 28th ID. They resisted stubbornly but had to give up ground. The 110th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Division fought for three days despite being completely encircled. Their stiff resistance bought time for other Allied units to move into the sector to block the enemy assault and the occupation of Bastogne.

The 30th Infantry Division, made up of Guard units from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, provided part of the northern shoulder of the bulge, with their sector covering the Malmedy area. They moved into position the day after the attack began. The 30th fought first to contain the German penetration and later attacked to erase the bulge.

Soon after the start of the German Ardennes offensive, the 26th Infantry Division of the Massachusetts National Guard, which was part of Gen. George Patton's Third Army, was diverted from its eastward advance toward the German border near Metz, France. It was one of the spearhead elements of Patton's historic winter march north to relieve the 101st Airborne Division surrounded in Bastogne.

The 26th formed part of the southern shoulder protecting the flank of the 4th Armored Division in its attack towards the encircled 101st. The 26th moved into the line on Dec. 22, 1944.

On Christmas Day, the 26th Division attacked the Germans in the village of Eschdorf near the Sure River in Luxembourg despite heavy snow and sub-freezing temperatures. They needed to link up with the 80th Infantry Division to secure the area, so a bridgehead across the Sure River could be constructed to allow Patton's armored formations to cross over and relieve the besieged town of Bastogne.

After a sharp firefight, which included tanks from both sides, Eschdorf was cleared of its last German defenders and the 26th moved to the river to secure the area allowing combat engineers to quickly construct a floatbridge, which was used by the 3rd Armored Division.

The forward elements of the 3rd Division reached the outskirts of Bastogne on Dec. 26, effectively lifting the siege. The 26th was joined by the 35th Infantry Division, made up of Guard units from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, in widening the corridor to Bastogne. They would stay in close combat with German forces until the enemy was finally pushed back to its starting positions, marking the end of the campaign on Jan. 25, 1945.

It was the largest land battle involving American forces in history. More than a million Allied troops fought in the battle across the Ardennes, including about 500,000 Americans and more than 55,000 British troops. More than 19,000 were killed in action.

C-27J training operations center opens in Georgia

By Wayne Crenshaw
78th Air Base Wing

(12/15/09) -- Air Force, Army and community officials celebrated the opening of a new cargo plane schoolhouse here Dec. 9. The C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft Schoolhouse will be used to train pilots of the C-27J, the new cargo plane used to reduce the need for ground convoys in dangerous areas.

After years of development by the Army, the C-27J Spartan program has shifted to the Air Force, but will be a joint program and both Army and Air National Guard pilots and loadmasters will attend the school.

The school has already been in operation at Robins Air Force Base since Sept. 9, when the first of two C-27J planes arrived here, but the school will be under development through 2011. Still to be added are a operational flight trainer and a fuselage trainer. A mockup cockpit has already been installed.

"This aircraft will provide the capability to fly in Afghanistan where they do not have the infrastructure to handle our larger aircraft," said Army Col. Anthony Potts, the project manager for aviation systems. "It will have the capability to get supplies not within 50 miles of our forces but within the last tactical mile."

The school had already been operating on a temporary basis in Waco, Texas, but transferred here Sept. 9 with the arrival of the first plane. That allowed the first graduating class of the school to be recognized at the ceremony.

The program calls for a minimum of 38 aircraft, but Army Maj. Gen. William T. Nesbitt, the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, said at the ceremony that he believes that number will eventually rise to 78. The aircraft will be stationed at Air National Guard bases around the country.

He said after the ceremony that that the aircraft will definitely save lives if the program's potential is fully realized.

"It will (save lives) if we field an adequate number of aircraft, but right now I don't think 38 is enough," he said.

Development of the school is a $1.8 million project, which includes $300,000 from the state of Georgia, $125,000 from the city of Warner Robins and the Houston County Development Authority, and $50,000 from the Macon-Bibb Development Authority.

Soldiers on track to make U.S. Olympic bobsled team

By Tim Hipps
Family and MWR Command

(12/15/09) -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program bobsledders Sgt. John Napier and 2nd Lt. Chris Fogt are on track to make Team USA for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Several other Soldiers and former WCAP bobsledders are in the wintry mix that will be settled in January by a selection committee.

Napier, a former member of the Vermont National Guard, and Fogt took their first major step by making Team USA for the 2009-1010 World Cup circuit Oct. 24 in Park City.

"God, the Army, my mother," Napier said. "That's who helped me get here."

The WCAP duo further etched their bid in ice at the World Cup event Nov. 21-22 in Lake Placid, N.Y., when pilot Napier won a gold medal in the two-man race and took silver in the four-man event with brakeman Fogt aboard his sled.

Former WCAP bobsled driver Steven Holcomb, a former member of the Utah National Guard and the pilot for the reigning four-man world champions, also is a virtual lock to drive one of Team USA's three sleds in Whistler, Canada --site of the Olympic bobsled races in February.

Holcomb finished second behind Napier in the two-man competition at Lake Placid and topped Napier's team the next day in the four-man event. Napier teamed with Charles Berkeley to win the two-man chase with a cumulative time of 1 minute, 53.62 seconds for two runs down the one-mile track. Holcomb and teammate Justin Olsen finished second in 1:53.88.

"I relied on great guys like Steve Holcomb, who have been there before, about what it feels like, and I asked him, 'What the heck do I do?" Napier said. "He told me to just hang out and chill out and act like it's a practice run. So I did."

Holcomb was one of the first people to congratulate Napier when he climbed from his sled.

"I told Napier to relax between heats," Holcomb said. "I told him to try not to think about it because the more you think about, the more pressure you put on yourself and the harder it is. I tried to keep him calm and let him do his thing on his home track."

Napier's mother, Betsy, was at the finish clanging a large cowbell she purchased several years ago at Innsbruck, Austria. Napier took a moment to remember his father, William, a former president of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and an accomplished bobsled pilot who lost his battle with cancer in June 2005.

"I have so much support back here," said Napier, who began bobsledding as an 8-year-old living in Lake Placid. "It's great to be on my home track. I was up in the old 1980 start house thinking about how ironic it was that 30 years ago my father was in there warming up.

"In the back of my mind, he's always there with me."

The next day, Holcomb and Napier finished 1-2 in the four-man event.

"We did an awesome job," Napier said. "All the pieces of the puzzle fit together. We went one-two over two consecutive days with Holcomb. It's an amazing feeling to be up there on the podium with him."

Holcomb was happy to share the podium with a U.S. Soldier.

"All summer we've said we have the strongest U.S. team we've ever had," Holcomb said. "Today shows that we're going to be a fighting force out there. It's going to be a good year, and I'm excited."

So, too, is U.S. bobsled head coach Brian Shimer, a five-time Olympic competitor who all but declared Napier the future of USA bobsleigh. Shimer said the bulked-up Napier is the most improved among the Olympic driver candidates.

"Not in his driving skills on the track, because he's one of our best and one of the best in the world, but in his athletic ability and developing into an athlete," Shimer explained. "John is a unique case in that he started at 8 years old driving little junior bobsleds. We usually recruit athletes from some collegiate sport - track and field, football or baseball - so they are established as an athlete in another sport. John, being a bobsledder since 8, has never established himself as an athlete, per se. In this last year, he has done that."

Napier gained about 30 pounds of muscle since March.

"He just started training like a champion," WCAP bobsled and Team USA assistant coach Sgt. Bill Tavares said. "He did the right things. He ate the right things. And when he started putting on the weight and the muscle in the weight room, it was like a drug. He realized, 'Holy cow, I can get really get stronger and bigger and get that little extra.' He did that little extra and he found the weight. ... And the scary thing is: he's just begun. He's just begun."

Napier then went out and won Team USA's push championships for drivers.

"It's a good feeling as a coach, looking into the future," Shimer said. "He made huge gains this year that I thought wouldn't be possible within a year. That was great to see. How far can he take this as an athlete? That's up to him. If any indication what he did this past year, the future looks good.

"He's right where we expect him to be. ... Todd Hays is finishing up his career in bobsled and you've got Napier nipping at his heels and making sure that he pushes him out. It's great to see John's success. Of all the pilots that we have, he's probably the most experienced on the ice. Not the most experienced athlete, but he's well on his way now. I'm happy with John and how far he's come."

Shimer also predicted a great future for Fogt, 26, a speed merchant who mans the brakes. Fogt, who holds five school track and field records for Utah Valley University, has personal-bests of 10.53 seconds in the 100 meters, 21.3 in the 200, and 48.7 in the indoor 400. At 6-foot-0, 205-pounds, he ran the 60 meters indoors in 6.9 seconds.

"Chris Fogt is an extraordinary athlete," Shimer said. "I'm not sure we've had an athlete with his potential. He came out and put down a 30-meter time, which is like a 40-yard time for the NFL, with a 3.43. Our next-fastest was a 3.48 and the next was a 3.50, so he set himself apart from our elite athletes.

"His chances in the sport are absolutely as good as they can get with those numbers. ... By February, we look at him being one of our best."

Sgt. Mike Kohn, a bobsled pilot in the Army National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program, is competing on the America's Cup circuit to bid for a spot on the Olympic team, as is WCAP brakeman Capt. Garrett Hines, a 2002 Olympic silver medalist.

"Mike's still there," Shimer said. "His chances are not done by any means. He can qualify for the Olympic Games through the America's Cup circuit if he dominates and puts himself in a position that he should be in Vancouver."

Team USA is fielding three sleds on the World Cup tour, but if one finishes out of the top 13, the selection committee might send a sled from the America's Cup circuit to Canada for the Olympics.

"It's still a possibility," Shimer said of Kohn's chances. "I'm not going to say it's even a slim chance -- it could be a decent chance if everything goes right for him on America's Cup."

Ditto for Hines, the 40-year-old self-professed "old man in the bunch."

"Garrett really impressed me in terms of how (little) he's actually been on the ice the last four years and his age, still being a brakeman," Shimer said. "The drivers are typically a little bit older because it takes more years of experience to reach that level. As a brakeman, for him to be at this level and still vying for a spot on our national team, that says a lot for Garrett. Whether or not it works out is going to be up to the selection committee to crunch those numbers.

"Obviously, we take input from the drivers, as well, because that's who is riding behind them. It's not going to be an easy choice for us, but he's right there in the mix."

Tavares, a 27-year Army veteran, finished ninth at the 1992 Olympics as a luge competitor. He coached Team USA's women bobsled teams at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics. Along the way, he's helped coach athletes to five world championships and 70 World Cup medals.

Shimer believes the military is the biggest bobsled supporter in America.

"I think every athlete in the sport of bobsled should go through the military," Shimer said. "Absolutely, it's the best program I've ever seen. In my last year in 2002, my best sponsor was the military. I had two WCAP athletes, Mike Kohn and Doug Sharp, on my team in those Olympics. I was contracted, basically, to drive for the military team. They bought a sled. They bought runners. It was the best sponsor I ever had in my 17 years of seeking sponsorship.

"I owe a lot to the Army."

Tavares pointed out another advantage Soldiers have over their American peers.

"WCAP athletes from any sport have the biggest upper hand on any other athlete," he said. "Because this is sport, it's not the end of the world. And WCAP athletes have a better understanding of that than any other athlete that I know.

"We can be deployed at any time. Let's get some things under perspective here, you know?" Tavares said with a stern smile. "We know what our jobs are. We might be athletes and coaches now, but we're Soldiers. This is sport."

Chaplain's ministry includes fallen and those who honor them

By Ed Drohan
Dover Air Force Base

(12/14/09) -- For an Alaska Air National Guard chaplain, a deployment to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center here hits close to home. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Lance Jennings' son served with the Air National Guard in Kirkuk, Iraq in 2002. When your ministry revolves around serving those who have given their lives for their country, their families, and the men and women who provide the full measure of dignity, honor and respect for the fallen, you can't help but think about family members who have been in harm's way.

The chaplains have been providing spiritual and moral support here since September, and Jennings will return to his unit - the 168th Air Refueling - in January. He has never been here before, but said he volunteered for the deployment.

The chaplain said he's done a tour of duty at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, ministering to wounded warriors, and his work at the AFMAO has given him a chance to see and appreciate not only the fallen heroes, but the professionalism of those who provide dignity, honor and respect for the them, as well as care, service and support for their families.

As part of his duties, the chaplain and the rest of his "padre cadre" has worked with families of the fallen who come to Dover to observe the dignified transfer of their loved ones. In his civilian ministry, he's provided comfort to families of accident victims, and while similar, the work here is different.

"We see death, but here, because of the violence of war, it is more intense," said Chaplain (Maj.) Richard Bach, a Maine Air National Guard chaplain, who has worked with Jennings since September.

The support and comfort the chaplains provide isn't limited to the fallen and their families, though. They also provide a "ministry of presence" for the men and women called upon to prepare those fallen for the trip to their final destination.

Many of the young men and women who deploy here from around the country are exposed to stresses most people will never see, the chaplains said.

Whether it's assisting with autopsies, cleaning personal effects so they can be returned to families, or dressing the fallen in the proper uniform for a funeral, exposure to the horrors of war can take its toll on individuals.

"These people are doing things for our heroes that they can't necessarily talk to their families about," Jennings said. "They see and do things that people can't understand unless they've been here."

Chaplains work closely with mental health specialists to help ease those stresses. They try to be very visible and establish relationships with workers throughout the center, they said.

"You have to develop trust before they'll talk," Jennings agreed.

One thing that has impressed Jennings is the level of professionalism and devotion he sees in people, who work at the center.

"There's a camaraderie, especially in the back (where the fallen are prepared for transport)," Jennings said. They move around together and there's a lot of humor in the morning, but when the preparation starts, things get quiet and they focus on the task at hand."

The chaplains also help with the center's Resiliency Program, which is designed to help people deal with the stresses they encounter in the workplace. They have set up trips to off-base sites, including a trip to Arlington National Cemetery and a kayaking trip - trips that not only tie together the work they do here but also provide relief from stress.

When he returns to his home, the chaplain said he'll take a part of the center with him - he'll leave Dover with memories, both painful and positive.

"We all have scars on our body, like when I fell on a bike and got gravel under my skin. Every once in a while you'll touch that scar and remember that life experience," Jennings said. "The analogy with those scars is that I'll remember the pain, the sadness, the grieving parents and spouses. But I'll also remember the pleasantries as well ... the personalities who have touched me in positive ways. They've helped heal those scars."

Guard recognition program continues in 2010

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau

(12/15/09) – An Air National Guard award campaign that has honored thousands of Citizen-Airmen, families and civilians this year will continue into 2010, officials said here today.

The Air Guard’s Hometown Heroes Salute campaign recognizes Airmen who have deployed since 9/11 as well their families and personal “centers of influence,” who supported them.

“It’s to celebrate every single Airman that you have, and their family and the community that is taking care of you,” Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy, command chief of the Air National Guard, recently told the National Guard’s top leaders.

The success of the program was measured through the dozens of events that took place around the nation this year. During the recognition ceremonies, Airmen are awarded a cherry-wood encased letter of appreciation signed by the Air Guard’s director and command chief, which is enclosed with a commemorative coin.

In addition, spouses or significant others receive an engraved pen and pencil set and medallion. Each child receives engraved dog tags.

“They have gone off very well,” said Linda Brooks, the campaign’s program manager at the Guard Bureau. “The average unit has about 500 people to recognize.”

Thousands of Airmen will eventually be honored though the campaign for their deployments in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle.

About 10 percent of the 135 eligible Air Guard units held ceremonies this year, said Brooks.

“Everyone has done it with the pomp and circumstance that not only honors Airmen, but honors their families and the community,” said Brooks. “They are proud of them for doing what they do.”

Although the program was introduced last January, the first batch of awards only began arriving in the field in May.

The first ceremony was held by Louisiana Air Guard, and many units are still awaiting their awards or are awaiting the best time to hold their ceremonies, said Brooks.

A Web site, launched in April, connects units to award ordering, eligibility criteria and other valuable information and is accessed through the Air Force Portal.

“Bottom line, this is the right thing to do,” said Muncy. “So take care of your Airmen, the greatest Airmen in the United States Air Force.”

MILITARY CONTRACTS December 16, 2009

The Boeing Co., Ridley Park, Pa., was awarded on Dec. 14, 2009, a $704,417,000 firm-fixed-price contract for 21 new build aircraft and 14 remanufacture aircraft. This is the third year of a multi-year contract for CH-47F. Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, Pa., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2013. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation and Missiles, CCAM-CG-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

GM GDLS Defense Group, LLC, JV, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on Dec. 14, 2009, a $134,348,933 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is to support performance specification changes to the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, which will result in the design, integration, production and procurement of necessary components and enhancements to support vehicles operating in the Operation Enduring Freedom theater. Work is to be performed in Sterling Heights, Mich. (41 percent), and London, Ontario (59 percent), with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2009. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Tank Automotive and Armament Command, AMSCC-TAC- AHLC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-D-M112).

American K-9 Detection Services, Inc., Lake Mary, Fla., was awarded on Dec. 11, 2009, a $15,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for a working dog patrol, narcotic and explosive detection services, and to operate throughout Regional Command South, Afghanistan. Work is to be performed in Regional Command South, Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 10, 2010. Two bids solicited with two bids received. Bagram Regional Contracting Center, Bagram Airfields, Afghanistan, is the contracting activity (W91B4N-10-C-5001).

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Baltimore, Md., was awarded on Dec. 14, 2009, a $13,139,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This project is for the renovation of Building 10500 at Fort Lee, Va. This work includes complete renovation of the building to prepare for the relocation of the Defense Contract Management Agency. The renovation will call for new interior partitions; toilet facilities; janitor rooms; elevator; exterior curtain wall systems; all new ceilings; and floor and wall finishes. Work is to be performed in Fort Lee, Va., with an estimated completion date of June 28, 2011. Five bids solicited with five bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (W91236-08-D-0069).

W. M. Jordan Co., Newport News, Va., was awarded on Dec. 11, 2009, a $11,177,043 firm-fixed-price contract. This project is to provide for one additional facility to the Central Campus Part 1 and Part 2 facilities currently under construction. This facility will be comprised of high bay training spaces and administrative and instructional spaces. Work is to be performed in Fort Lee, Va., with an estimated completion date of July 10, 2011. Six bids solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (W91235-080D-0056).

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Inc., Scranton, Pa., was awarded on Dec. 11, 2009, a $10,593,983 firm-fixed-price contract. This modification is to award 56,900 155mm M107 projectile metal parts. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Contracting Center, Rock Island., Ill., is the contracting activity (W52P1J-07-C-0038).

Delta Wave Communications, Inc., Morgan City, La., was awarded on Dec. 11, 2009, a $6,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). The ERDC leverages commercial satellite access in order to facilitate reach-back communications. In order to continue efforts in this area, ERDC must have International Mobile Satellite Organization mobile satellite services. Work is to be performed in Morgan City, La., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 16, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC, Vicksburg, Miss., is the contracting activity (W912HZ-09-C-0014).

Better Built Construction Services, Inc., Middletown, Ohio, was awarded on Dec. 10, 2009, a $9,584,800 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of an Army Reserve Center. Work is to be performed in Fort Custer, Mich., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 4, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with seven bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0017).

Arrow Kinsley, JV, York, Pa., was awarded on Dec. 14, 2009, a $9,105,787 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of an Army Reserve Center. Work is to be performed in Allentown, Pa., with an estimated completion date of May 1, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with eight bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0020).

Syracuse Research Corp., North Syracuse, N.Y., was awarded on Dec. 14, 2009, a $5,277,916 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar System. Work is to be performed in Syracuse, N.Y., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 17, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Commands, Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W91CRB-10-C-0026).

Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $39,687,436 contract which will provide the joint helmet mounted cueing systems Full Rate Production 6 for the Air Force F-15 and F-16, the Navy F/A-18 platforms, and Foreign Military Sales countries. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 641 AESS/SYKA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (F33657-01-D-0026).

Honeywell International, Inc., Clearwater, Fla., was awarded a $31,284,630 contract which will provide 390 UH-60 P31 EGI plus 429 install units. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 647 AESS/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8626-06-C-2065).

AMSEC, LLC., Virginia Beach, Va. (N32253-10-D-0001); BAE Systems Hawaii Shipyards, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii (N32253-10-D-0002); Chugach Government Services, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska (N32253-10-D-0003); Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn. (N32253-10-D-0004); Pacific Shipyards International, LLC, Honolulu, Hawaii (N32253-10-D-0005); and QED Systems, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va. (N32253-10-D-0006) are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award contract for the maintenance, repair and modernization of submarines home-ported or transient through Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The maximum value for each contract is $23,400,000. Work will be performed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed by December 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $15,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website with 6 offers received. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Warner Robins, Ga., is being awarded a $9,000,000 modification to previously awarded contract to increase the contract ceiling amount to $18,000,000 for life cycle sustainment of the AN/TPS-63B radar system. Engineering and logistics supplies and services in support of extended life cycle sustainment for the AN/TPS-63B radar system will be provided by Northrop Grumman. The sustainment effort shall be implemented through a series of engineering change proposals that may include hardware, firmware and software development as well as any required logistics support, training, diminishing manufacturing sources, material shortages studies, analysis and redesign. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-07-D-2057).

Progeny Systems Corp.*, Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $10,406,870 modification to previously awarded contract for Phase III engineering and technical support services in support of small business innovative research Topic No. N03-220, extensible after-action review acquisition, retrieval and storage system. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-6207).

Converteam, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., is being awarded a $7,040,000 modification to previously awarded contract for the DDG 1002 baseline tactical high voltage power distribution switchboards for use in the Navy's integrated power system land based test site. Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is expected to be completed by July 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-4203).

Law Allows Spouses to Keep Residency While Under Orders

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 16, 2009 - A new law protects military spouses from being taxed for work performed in states where they're living outside their home states as a result of military orders. President Barack Obama signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, an amendment to the 2003 Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, on Nov. 11.

"This act, among other things, would provide that when a servicemember leaves his or her home state in accord with military orders, the servicemember's spouse may retain residency in his or her home state for voting and tax purposes, after relocating from that state to accompany the servicemember," the president said in a Nov. 12 White House statement.

The new law means a change in fundamental tax law for military spouses, said Army Col. Shawn Shumake, director of legal policy in the office of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

"If a spouse accompanies a military member to a state that is not the spouse's [state of legal residence] and does so solely to be with the servicemember under military orders, then the income the spouse earns from services performed in that nondomiciliary state cannot be taxed," he said in a Pentagon Channel interview yesterday.

But, he warned, some states interpret the act to apply only if the military servicemember and the spouse live under the same roof. "A number of states believe that to get this tax break, or tax exemption, the spouse and the servicemember must have the same domicile," he said. "Different states interpret this possible requirement differently."

The law does not necessarily mean that someone who makes their permanent home in one state will never be taxed in the state they're living in because of a servicemember's military orders, Shumake said. In fact, he explained, the act states only that income earned from work performed in the nondomiciliary state is not taxable. That doesn't mean the spouse wouldn't have to pay income tax on such income to the state of legal residency.

"Of course, there are those states that don't have any income tax at all," Shumake said. "If the spouse were a legal resident of those states, then they would likely not pay income tax from [work] performed in any state."

Understanding the meaning of "domicile" and knowing how to prove it are keys to understanding the law, Shumake said.

First, he said, the terms "domicile," and "legal residence," are synonymous. A person can have only one domicile at a time. It is one's primary home or permanent residence, and it's formed by being physically present in a state and simultaneously forming the intent to remain there for the indefinite future.

"You have to prove your intent by establishing certain contacts with the state, such as voting there, buying property there, getting your professional license there, claiming in-state tuition rates there, registering a vehicle or obtaining a driver's license there," Shumake said. "Of all of those, voting may turn out to be the most important for proving your domicile for the purposes of the [Military Spouses Residency Relief Act]."

The act also has an effect on personal property taxes, Shumake said.

"The [act] now says that a nondomiciliary state cannot tax personal property such as automobiles and boats if that property is in the state only because the spouse is with the servicemember in that state in compliance with military orders," he said.

For all the positive benefits the law offers military spouses, it can be confusing, Shumake acknowledged.

The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act addresses only tax law concerning income earned in nondomiciliary states, the colonel said, and doesn't change the rules for establishing and proving legal residency.

"One common misperception is that the new law allows a spouse simply to 'choose' his or her spouse's domicile. This is not true," he said. "Domicile must still be demonstrated or proven under the rules that have always been in place. Likewise, a spouse does not 'inherit' the domicile of the military member through marriage."

Spouses also should be aware that the law doesn't allow them to recapture or regain a previously abandoned domicile, he added.

"For example, if the spouse established a Texas domiciliary status and then moved to Virginia under orders with the [servicemember], and while in Virginia the spouse registered to vote and bought property in Virginia and got a real estate license from Virginia, then it looks like the spouse has established Virginia as the new domicile," Shumake said. "The [law] is not likely to allow the spouse to abandon Virginia and resume or recapture Texas domiciliary status while still in Virginia."

It seems the matter of how the law affects driver's licenses has left some in a bit of a quandary, as well.
Whether a spouse needs to obtain a new driver's license in each new state the spouse lives in is a matter of state law and completely unaffected by the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, Shumake said.

While the new law can be confusing, help is only as far away as the nearest legal assistance attorney, Shumake said. He also suggested checking with appropriate state tax authorities for any rules they may have put out, especially with respect to refunds for tax year 2009.

Military Housing Allowance Rates Set for 2010

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

Dec. 16, 2009 - Military members will see an average raise of 2.5 percent in housing allowance rates in 2010, a BAH program analyst for the Defense Department said today. The increase comes to average of around $37 per month for the more than 900,000 servicemembers expected to draw the basic allowance for housing in 2010. Some areas will see a higher increase, while others will see less, Cheryl Anne Woehr said.

The 2010 raise is down from 2009's 6.5 percent average, and is the smallest percentage increase since the inception of the BAH program in 2000. This is due the past year's recession and declining housing market, she said.

"Rates are set based on actual housing data, so as the economy has declined, vacancy rates have increased [and] rental prices have declined, which results directly to lower BAH rates in various areas," Woehr said.

Those who do notice the BAH rates lower in their area than last year shouldn't worry, she said, because an individual rate protection law is in place. The policy protects those who already are under a rental agreement. So if BAH rates in their area are lower Jan. 1 than on Dec. 31, the previous, higher rate applies.

"Servicemembers are able to take advantage of the increase in rates, but are not affected by decreasing rates," she said. But servicemembers who change duty stations, change dependency status or get promoted on or after Jan. 1 will be affected by the new rates, she added.

Woehr stressed that it isn't necessarily bad news for the servicemember in areas that see a decrease in rates. "Servicemembers who are newly reporting to an area get to take advantage of the lower market when they arrive," she said.

The BAH program is designed to benefit the servicemember, but it's not designed to pay 100 percent of housing expenses, Woehr said. The rate is intended to cover rent, renter's insurance and utilities based on pay grade and dependency status.

The local market economy determines annual BAH changes and sets the next year's BAH rates. Military housing offices from each installation begin collecting data on the local rental market as early as January each year. The offices research the current rates for two-bedroom houses, townhouses, single-family homes and the different standards and profiles for homes, Woehr explained.

Typically, rates are higher in larger, more heavily populated metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Rates in rural areas usually are more stable, and although they may increase to some degree, the rise doesn't have the same impact as in larger cities, she said.

An estimated $19 billion in BAH will be paid to nearly 1 million servicemembers in 2010, Woehr said.

Test Undermines Iranian Claims, Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 16, 2009 - Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell today expressed concern over Iran's reported test-fire yesterday of a medium-range missile, saying it undermines Tehran's claim of peaceful intentions regarding its nuclear program. Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has seen the intelligence on the launch, which reportedly involved a Sajjil-2 rocket that has the range to hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf.

"This is just the latest in a series of provocative actions by Iran, all seemingly oblivious to the scrutiny of the international community, or perhaps more likely, in spite of it," Morrell told Pentagon reporters today.

The test-fire comes after President Barack Obama last month underscored that the government in Tehran must provide assurances to the international community that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and transparent.

Obama said the so-called P5-plus-1 partners are unified on the position, referring to the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations of Great Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany. The International Atomic Energy Agency also rebuked Iran last month after it failed to provide information about the purpose of a previously secret nuclear site.

"I think there's no doubt that given this environment, missile tests do nothing but undermine Iranian claims," White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said today. "They're not productive. The Iranians still have the opportunity to live up to their responsibilities. If they don't, then time will run out, and we will move to the next step."

Morrell said the missile test subverts Iran's credibility. "At a time when the international community has offered Iran opportunities to begin to build trust and confidence, Iran's missile test only undermined Iran's claims of peaceful intentions," he said.

The provocation yesterday strengthens the resolve of the international community, including China and Russia, to pursue sanctions on Iran if it fails to show progress by the year's end, in keeping with deadline Obama laid out, Morrell said.

"So we are we're watching closely," he added, "and we are concerned."

First Lady Delivers 'Toys for Tots' Donation

By Elaine Wilson
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 16, 2009 - First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a van full of toys and a holiday message of giving today to volunteers at the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots distribution center here. "That's what America is all about -- people already sacrificing, stepping up and doing a little bit more," the first lady said. "We are just so proud and so grateful for what you are doing for this country, for what you are doing for this effort, and we will be a part of [the Toys for Tots program] for as long as I'm in the White House."

Obama brought with her several bulging sacks of toys donated by the White House staff. The staff has donated more than 500 toys – including clothes, books, markers and board games -- to Toys for Tots so far, a White House official said. About 30 percent have been delivered here to support the Marine Corps Base Quantico campaign, and the others are slated for a distribution center in Washington, D.C.

The first lady lauded the Toys for Tots volunteers, many of them active-duty and reserve Marines, for "stepping up" to help. The program collects new, unwrapped toys each fall and then donates them to needy children throughout the nation during the holidays.

"In a time when you all are already serving and making such a huge sacrifice, all of you, the troops and their families ... show America that you can dig even deeper in this time and put your time and effort into making sure that kids all around this country have something wonderful to wake up to on Christmas morning," Obama said.

The first lady also noted the importance of families in the effort. "We know that the Marine Corps -- you guys -- do a lot of the work, but you couldn't do what you do if you didn't have your families supporting you," she said. "So I want to thank all the spouses who stepped up as well."

Obama urged Americans to continue to donate through Dec. 22, the program's deadline, emphasizing the need for older children's toys.

"We have more than enough toys for younger children. One of the challenges that this program has is really finding toys for the older kids," she said. But, "There's still time. I'm going to go back shopping. We still have a couple more days, and we're going to pick up some more toys for 11- to 14-year-olds."

Now, "Let's get to work; we have work to do," she said as she pitched in to help the volunteers sort toys.

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. H. Pete Osman, CEO of the Toys for Tots Foundation, accompanied the first lady on her tour of the warehouse.

"Her genuine interest in trying to find out exactly how a local campaign works was very, very apparent," he said.
The volunteers working alongside the first lady said they were thrilled by her support.

"I don't think I have words for it," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Gordon, Marine Corps Base Quantico campaign coordinator. "This is my first year ever doing Toys for Tots as a Marine, and I was not expecting this kind of attention." He said he hopes her support drums up some more donations.

"I'm almost scared now," he joked about the anticipated response.

The first lady's visit offers "a great opportunity to highlight what we do for the community," Marine Corps Maj. Max Stapp, Quantico campaign program administrator, noted.
Her visit also helps "get the message out: we still need toys," he said. The Quantico campaign's goal this year is to donate 150,000 toys to 75,000 children.

The first lady pledged her support for the program earlier this month.

"Each time I visit a base or meet with members of our armed forces and veterans, I'm struck not just by the extraordinary sacrifices they and their families make to serve our country, but by all they do to help others right here at home in their own communities," she said at a Dec. 2 holiday media preview.

"And the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is a great example of how servicemen and women are doing even more than just serving our country in uniform," she continued. "For more than 62 years, Marines have distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million needy children."

Task Force Helps Flooded Communities Heal

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Hammond
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 16, 2009 - Nieto Cruz-Hernandez and his family will never forget the morning of Nov. 8. After a low-pressure system brought torrential downpours to much of El Salvador, the Arenal River ran dangerously high as it flowed through Hernandez' small city of San Agustin. His sister-in-law, Carla Santos-Hernandez, her children, and other family members gathered to spend the night of Nov. 7 at Hernandez' house, which was on higher ground than their own places.

As the family slept in relative safety, all hell broke loose in the lower-lying parts of town. A wall of water roared down the riverbed, pushing with it a crushing ooze of mud and debris - a deadly mix that consumed everything in its path.

At around 8 a.m., the family ventured out to see what had happened overnight.

Carla Hernandez and her family lived in a small cinderblock house, much like those of the other residents of the farming and fishing community. But the wreck she came back to was nothing like the home she left. The roof was collapsed, walls either were missing or in pieces, and mud was piled up several feet high all around and through the home.

Her neighbor, another brother of Nieto Hernandez, fared even worse. Where his home once stood, nothing but small blocks of concrete and strands of rebar remained among the mud. Just one block or so away, three residents were missing -- along with their homes. Only one of them has been found -- dead in the nearby Lake Ilopongo.

Fortunately for stricken communities like San Agustin, many in El Salvador and from other friendly nations, including the United States, sprang into action upon hearing of the destruction. The Salvadoran government teamed up with U.S. Southern Command, Joint Task Force Bravo, the U.S. Agency for International Development and a number of nongovernmental aid organizations to begin a multifaceted relief effort.

The desire to help those in need is what drove an initial medical civil action program between Joint Task Force Bravo, based at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, and the Salvadoran health ministry from Nov. 21-24. Nearly 3,000 patients received medical care, prescription and over-the-counter medication, immunizations and counseling.

Today, a follow-up medical civil action program began - starting in San Agustin and continuing tomorrow in the city of El Achiotal. In San Agustin, 445 patients were seen. They received preventive medicine education, medical and dental care, vitamins and medicine, and immunizations. Joint Task Force Bravo used three helicopters and crews, plus 30 medical and other personnel in the effort. The Salvadoran health ministry brought about 30 health-care providers and workers, and the El Salvadoran military and police force used more than 20 people to provide security at the site.

"We have focused our efforts [in San Agustin] because it is one of the hardest-hit areas from the November flooding," said Dr. Ellen Awarenga de Duenas, the health ministry coordinator for the department of Cuscutlan, in which San Agustin falls. "We have sent help here before, but we didn't have enough to treat everyone in need. That's why with the additional providers and medicine we feel we may reach our goal of offering care to everyone affected."

In addition to treating common ailments such as upper respiratory illness, rashes and intestinal parasites, the medical civil action program also featured four Salvadoran psychologists available to diagnose and begin to treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the disaster.

For the residents of San Agustin, there's plenty of work ahead in rebuilding their lives. Things improve daily; commercial equipment works steadily throughout the day, removing dirt and debris still left from a month ago. But it's slow, tedious work coming back when you've lost everything.

Residents like the Hernandez family and others in these communities have suffered a great deal. But with every road plowed and every patient cared for, heartbreak slowly turns into hope.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Hammond serves with the Joint Task Force Bravo public affairs office.)

DoD Announces Results of 2008 Health Related Behaviors Survey

Charlene Reynolds

Today the Department of Defense announced the final results of its 2008 Survey of Health Related Behaviors among active duty military personnel. Active duty Coast Guard personnel were included in the survey's cohort for the first time since the series of surveys began in 1980, providing the first comprehensive look at all active military services.

"The 2008 survey indicates that the U.S. Armed Forces are generally strong, healthy, and ready to accomplish their mission," said Jack Smith, M.D., acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for clinical policy and program policy. "We are pleased with the continued increase of healthy behaviors and preventive health practices reported by our service members."

The study shows notable decreases over the past 28 years in the use of cigarettes and illegal drugs and encouraging indicators of mental well being.

In addition, there are improvements in certain self-reported preventive health measures since 2005 including increases in moderate or vigorous exercise and a decline in overweight personnel under age 20. When compared to civilian data adjusted to mirror military demographic characteristics, the 2008 survey showed that military rates of heavy drinking were lower than the civilian average among persons aged 46 to 64. For cigarette use, military rates were slightly higher than civilian rates among persons aged 18 to 35 but military rates were significantly lower for persons aged 36 and older. The 2008 rate for illicit drug use, including prescription drugs, was 12 percent, an increase from 5 percent in 2005. The percentage increase is primarily attributed to the addition of questions that ask for usage of prescription medication for non-medical reasons. Rates of use of nonprescription illicit drugs (e.g. cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines) have remained low and stable at about two percent.

This survey is the 10th in a series of confidential, anonymous standardized surveys that ask active duty service members about various health related behaviors. In addition to substance use, the survey also assesses mental well-being, deployment issues, fitness, nutrition and weight management, and selected national health status goals from the Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 objectives. More than 28,500 service members from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, randomly selected to represent men and women in all pay grades of the active force throughout the world, completed the survey.

Survey Results

Official Urges More U.S.-Pakistan Military Contacts

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 16, 2009 - Though American and Pakistani soldiers are interacting at an unprecedented rate, that trend needs to gain momentum, a senior U.S. embassy official said here today. Pakistani officers are attending American professional military education schools, including military command and general staff colleges and the military war colleges. American officers also attend Pakistani schools.

But this process must speed up, the official said, speaking on background. The United States cut all military-to-military ties with Pakistan from 1990 to 2002 as a result of the Pressler Amendment, which sanctioned Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons. "We lost the chance to influence an entire generation of officers," the official said.

Pakistani officers once were common sights at American military schools. For example, the current Pakistani army chief of staff, Gen. Asfaq Kayani, attended the Advanced Infantry Officer Course at Fort Benning, Ga., and the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Older Pakistani officers, who know America and have a network of American friends and colleagues, are more apt to listen to American points of view, the embassy official said.

But after more than a decade of no U.S.-Pakistani military contact, a generation of Pakistani officers spent their formative years in schools in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and China, and they have no American friends. "We have this huge layer of estrangement we are trying to cut our way through," the official said.

The operational tempo for the Pakistani army means that the exchange program and education program cannot work as fast as U.S. and Pakistani officials want. While Pakistan has one of the largest armies in the world, it is severely strained by operations against extremists in western Pakistan. The country also keeps substantial garrisons along the country's border with India.

The exchange program is set to double in the next year, and that's a good start, the official said. "But you have to remember how deep the hole is," the official added.

Anti-American sentiment in Pakistan also plays a part, the official noted, with officers not wanting to appear as lackeys to the Americans. But actions along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and contacts with U.S. units and officers across the border are helping the process along.

National Guard (in Federal Status) and Reserve Activated as of December 15, 2009

This week the Navy and Air Force announced an increase in activated reservists, while the Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard announced a decrease. The net collective result is 521 fewer reservists activated than last week.

At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 106,832; Navy Reserve, 6,289; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 14,826; Marine Corps Reserve, 7,716; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 778. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 136,441, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found at

DOD Releases 2010 Housing Rates

The Department of Defense today released the 2010 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates. Military members will receive an average housing allowance increase of 2.5 percent when the new rates take effect, Jan. 1, 2010.

For members with dependents, average increases in the BAH are approximately $37 per month. A typical junior enlisted member with dependents, for example, will find his/her BAH about $25 per month higher than last year, while a senior non-commissioned officer with dependents will receive about $42 more than last year.

Three components are included in the BAH computation: median current market rent; average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer); and average renter's insurance.

Total housing costs are calculated for six housing profiles (based on dwelling type and number of bedrooms) in each military housing area. BAH rates are then calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents. An estimated $19 billion will be paid to nearly 1 million service members in 2010.

An integral part of the BAH program is the provision of individual rate protection to all members. No matter what happens to measured housing costs, an individual member in a given location will not see his/her BAH rate decrease. This assures that members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area's housing costs decrease.

The continued improvement in housing allowances represents the Department's commitment to the preservation of a compensation and benefit structure that provides members with a suitable and secure standard of living to sustain a trained, experienced, and ready force in the future.

For more information on BAH, visit