Military News

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas inside a plow truck – South Dakota Guard responds to record blizzard

By Maj. Brendan Murphy
South Dakota National Guard

When meteorologists predicted more than a foot of snow, high winds and impossible travel across South Dakota in the days before Christmas, Guardmembers here prepared and waited to respond. “Our job was to get snow removal equipment where it was needed, or potentially needed,” said Col. Scott Jacobson, director of operations for the South Dakota Army Guard, just before the record-breaking winter storm hit.

The South Dakota Guard awaited the support request from the emergency management agency as the state braced itself for a blanket of snow, wind and freezing temperatures during the Christmas weekend.

Meteorologists had predicted a foot of snow or more, high winds and virtually impossible travel across the state.

Winter storm warnings and travel advisories were issued. The state’s emergency operations center in Pierre requested support from the National Guard. Gov. Mike Rounds issued a state of emergency Dec. 22.

Guard officials prepositioned equipment and notified personnel to stand ready to assist with snow removal from the state’s roads and highways.

The storm made its way into the Black Hills and the plains and delivered on meteorologists’ predictions.

Higher elevations in the Black Hills received up to 40 inches of snow while the eastern part of the state reported accumulations ranging from one to two feet. Rapid City reported wind gusts up to 76 mph.

The Guard’s Rapid City Task Force 109 dispatched snow blowers, dozers and dump trucks. More than 80 Soldiers from TF109 assisted the Department of Transportation with snow removal missions.

They formed “blade teams” consisting of various heavy-equipment that worked statewide in snow removal operations.

Guard teams also delivered six, 20-ton truckloads of firewood to the citizens of the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.

At least 30 South Dakota Guard members remain in storm response operations in support of state agencies.

New Yorkers Enjoy New Years' With Additional Security in Place

York National Guard to Provide Support to City, State over Holiday weekend

(12/30/2009) - As New Yorkers and visitors gear up for New Year's Eve celebrations, the Citizen Soldiers and Airmen of the New York National Guard remain on duty in support of homeland security missions across the state. At the direction of New York Gov. David Paterson, members of the New York Army and Air National Guard will conduct additional security missions and stand ready to respond to local civil authorities if an emergency occurs.

Throughout New York City, National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will conduct security operations at Penn Station, the PATH terminal, and LaGuardia and JFK airports in coordination with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The airport security measures directed by Paterson earlier this week were the result of the failed terrorist bombing on Christmas Day of a commercial airliner in Detroit.

"Our actions should not raise the alarm, but rather demonstrate that we are working at the local, state and federal levels to keep travelers safe," Paterson said in a statement Dec. 28.

The National Guard's 2nd Civil Support Team (CST), a full-time rapid response element that detects chemical, biological or radiological hazards will also provide a detachment in Manhattan to support the New York Police Department. The 22-man detachment, based at the Scotia Air National Guard Base near Schenectady, N.Y. has been partnered with the NYPD for counter-terrorism support operations since the unit's formation in 2000.

It is estimated that a million people will celebrate New Years' in Times Square. The New York Police Department will control all access points to Times Square as part of the evening's security plans. No bags or backpacks are permitted. Emergency Service squads, drug and bomb sniffing canine units and other counter-terrorism personnel will be present in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

At the New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y., staff representatives from New York State military forces will man the National Guard's Joint Operations Center. This command and control node provides liaison and linkage to the State Emergency Management Office and New York State Department of Homeland Security.

"We will be monitoring Joint Task Force Empire Shield and the 2nd Civil Support Team," Maj. Robert Stabb, director of the New York National Guard Joint Operations Center, explained. "Empire Shield and the 2nd CST both are ready to assist the city of New York as required," he said.

The New York National Guard will also provide liaison officers to the New York Police Department in preparation for the New Year's celebration.

Media representatives who wish to visit the Joint Operations Center at the National Gaurd Joint Forces Headquarters in Latham should contact the public affairs office at 518-786-4581 before noon on Dec. 31.

For more information about the capabilities and organization of the New York National Guard, visit the Division of Military and Naval Affairs website at http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/

New year’s resolution: nominate your patriotic employer for an ESGR award



Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau

 
(12/30/09) - Providing pay and benefits during deployments, sending care packages to deployed employees, allowing time off, and celebrating military service with send-off and homecoming ceremonies are just a few commitments that the Guard and Reserve’s top employers are honored for each year. And officials here are asking Guard and Reserve servicemembers to begin 2010 with a resolution to speak out and honor their patriotic employers.

 
“With ongoing global operations, support from employers for Guard and Reserve service is more critical now than ever,” said officials with the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

 
The ESGR’s mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support. It also increases awareness of the laws governing Guard and Reserve service and resolves conflict through mediation.

 
Guard and Reserve leaders continually stress how critical the support of families, communities and employers are to the defense of the nation.

 
“If you added up all of your family members and all the employers you touch, we have over a million people that directly know what we do with the National Guard of the United States," said Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, speaking to thousands of Guard leaders during a conference in November.

 
But officials said honoring employers depends on nominations by Guard and Reserve members.

 
“All employer recognition and awards originate from nominations by individual reserve component members,” said ESGR officials.

 
Filling out two online forms and writing a few words about your employers is all it takes to honor them. Here’s how:

 
Patriot Award

 
  • Go online to www.esgr.org and click on the Patriot Award link and fill out the nomination form.
  • This award recognizes all employers with a certificate and accompanying lapel pin and are considered for other awards and recognitions based on their level of support.
  • Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award
  • Go online to http://www.freedomaward.mil/ and fill out the nomination form.

This award is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the DoD. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 18.

 
Officials said the award was created to “publicly recognize employers that provide exceptional support to their National Guard and Reserve employees.”

 
More than 3,200 nominations for awards were submitted to ESGR this year. Fifteen employers, ranging from mega-corporations to small businesses, local firehouses and police departments were honored in Washington by the nation’s top elected officials, celebrities and Guard and Reserve leaders.

National Guard (In Federal Status) and Reserve Activated as of December 29, 2009

This week the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps announced an increase in activated reservists, while the Army and Coast Guard announced a decrease. The net collective result is 217 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 105,243; Navy Reserve, 6,281; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 15,706; Marine Corps Reserve, 7,600; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 774. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 135,604, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found at http://www.defense.gov/news/Dec2009/d20091229ngr.pdf.

MILITARY CONTRACTS December 30, 2009

NAVY

Sauer, Inc., East Jacksonville, Fla. (N40080-10-D-0490); Haskell, Jacksonville, Fla. (N40080-10-D-0491); John C. Grimberg, Rockville, Md. (N40080-10-D-0492); TtEC-Tesoro, JV, Virginia Beach, Va. (N40080-10-D-0493); and Whiting-Turner, Baltimore, Md. (N40080-10-D-0494), are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity large multiple award construction contract for various large dollar construction projects within the area of responsibility of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Washington. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all five contracts combined is $750,000,000. Sauer, Inc., is being awarded task order 0001 at $15,478,820 for construction of the headquarters facility and Officer Candidate School mess hall at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by July 2011. All work on this contract will be performed within NAVFAC Washington's area of responsibility, to include Maryland (55 percent), Virginia (30 percent), and Washington, D.C. (15 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of December 2014. Contract funds for task order 0001 will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website with 10 proposals received. These five contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego, Owego, N.Y., is being awarded an $81,973,196 firm-fixed-price modification to definitize a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This definitization will provide for the production and delivery of common cockpits for the MH-60S Lot 12 aircraft and MH-60R Lot 8 aircraft. In addition, this modification provides for long lead items to support MH-60S Lot 13 and MH-60R Lot 9 common cockpit kits. Work will be performed in Owego, N.Y. (58.8 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (13.9 percent); Farmingdale, N.Y. (12.7 percent); Grand Rapids, Mich. (4.7 percent); Woodland Hills, Calif. (3.7 percent); Lewisville, Texas (2.9 percent); Windsor Locks, Conn. (2.2 percent); Middletown, Conn. (0.6 percent); and Butler, N.J. (0.5 percent). Work is expected to be completed in July 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-06-C-0098).

Lockheed Martin, Maritime Systems and Sensors, Moorestown, N.J., is being awarded a $32,013,370 modification to previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for technical and engineering support and related operation and maintenance of the Navy's Combat Systems Engineering Development Site and technical engineering support of the SPY-1A test lab and Naval Systems Computing Center. Work under this modification is in support of the U.S. Navy and the governments of Australia, Spain and Korea. Work will be performed in Moorestown, N.J., and is expected to be completed by October 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 (N00024-10-C-5124).

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, LP, Waco, Texas, is being awarded a $16,099,786 ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award contract to complete Zone 5 critical airframe structures replacements for five P-3C aircraft in support of the P-3C sustainment, modification and installation program. Work will be performed in Waco, Texas (80 percent), and Greenville, Texas (20 percent). Work is expected to be completed in December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5,677,624 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-05-D-0008).

Niking Corp.*, Wahiawa, Hawaii, is being awarded firm-fixed-price task order 0003 at $15,237,555 under an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity design-build multiple award construction contract to install grid-tied photovoltaic power systems at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Work will be performed in Oahu, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed by July 2011. Funds for this project are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Three proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity (N62478-08-D-4010).

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $13,777,196 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a previously issued basic ordering agreement for the design, development and manufacture of 12 peculiar support equipment end items to support the intermediate and operational level of maintenance of the V-22 aircraft for the Navy and the Air Force. Work will be performed in Amarillo, Texas, and is expected to be completed in March 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $10,626,029 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N68335-06-G-0007).

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a modification, P00025, to a previously awarded contract to establish contract line item ceiling worth $13,198,666, cost-plus-fixed fee, for January through April of calendar year 2010 production support for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile. Production support includes tasks needed to support missile production that are not directly associated with the manufacture of missile hardware. This modification combines purchases of the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium which includes the Navy and the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Turkey. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (45 percent); Camden, Ark. (2 percent); Andover, Mass. (10 percent); Australia (11 percent); Canada (7 percent); Denmark (1 percent); Greece (1 percent); Germany (8 percent); The Netherlands (6 percent); Norway (5 percent); Spain (3 percent); and Turkey (1 percent). Work is expected to be complete by April 2010. 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 (N00024-07-C-5432).

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company, St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $12,420,974.00 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, without a provision for an option quantity, for 12 months of 2010 avionics repair facility support, which provides for repair of various F/A-18 components. This announcement involves a foreign military sale, less than 1 percent, for Spain, Kuwait and Malaysia. The applicable funding for this action is the Navy Working Capital Fund. Funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. Work will be performed in Lemoore, Calif. (57 percent), Cecil Field, Fla. (40 percent), and at the Hornet Control Center, Philadelphia, Pa. (3 percent). Work will be completed by Dec. 31, 2010. One company was solicited for this non-competitive requirement and one offer was received. The Naval Inventory Control Point, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N00383-07-G-005H-0011).

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded an $11,406,910 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity delivery order contract to provide specialized technical services in support of depot level maintenance work performed at the Fleet Readiness Center, Southwest on aircraft and rework of associated components and materials. Services to be provided include modifications, in-service repairs and all other categories of service associated with aircraft depot level maintenance and its planning. The estimated level of effort for this modification is 346,670 man-hours. Work will be performed at the Fleet Readiness Center, Southwest, San Diego, Calif. (78 percent); the Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton, Calif. (9 percent); the Naval Air Station, Lemoore, Calif. (4 percent); the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu, Calif. (2 percent); Naval Air Station,Whidbey Island, Bremerton, Wash. (2 percent); Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (2 percent); Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Ariz. (2 percent); and Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, Calif. (1 percent). Work is expected to be completed in April 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-06-D-0024).

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $10,750,886.00 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the exercise of FY 10 options for performing as the platform system engineering agent for the Ship Self Defense System. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (90 percent); Tewksbury, Mass. (2.5 percent); Portsmouth, R.I. (2.5 percent); St. Petersburg, Fla. (2.5 percent); and Tucson, Ariz. (2.5 percent). Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 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 (N00024-08-C-5122).

Adaptive Methods Inc.*, Centreville, Va., is being awarded an $8,083,728 cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-reimbursable contract for engineering services to develop and integrate improved algorithms into the Undersea Warfare Decision Support System (USW DSS). USW DSS provides an integrated, near real-time net-centric undersea warfare command and control capability across multiple platforms. Work will be performed in Centreville, Va. (50 percent), Clearwater, Fla. (20 percent), Rockville, Md. (15 percent), and Middletown, R.I. (15 percent).. Work is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5229).

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, St. Petersburg, Fla. is being awarded a $6,114,217 modification to previously awarded contract for calendar year 2010 contractor logistics support, for Expeditionary Fire Support System-Internally Transportable Vehicles (EFSS-ITV). This modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional increment of 12 months of support services for fielding and associated training requirements for EFSS-ITV systems. Work will be performed in Huntsville, Ala. (60 percent), and St. Petersburg, Fla. (40 percent). Work is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-05-D-6014).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a $5,914,484 firm-fixed-price delivery order, 0096, under their existing indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. This delivery order is for the purchase of 22 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement vehicles. Production and work will be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-04-D-5016).

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Corp., King of Prussia, Pa., was awarded a $16,020,497 contract for all design elements through the preliminary design review. Lockheed Martin shall design, fabricate, integrate and test payload delivery vehicle for flight demonstration for the conventional prompt global strike capability. At this time, no funds have been obligated. SMC/XRC, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8814-08-C-003).

DEFENSE COMMISSARY AGENCY

Nayyarsons Corp., New Hyde Park, N.Y., was awarded a fixed-price incentive, requirements-type contract to provide deli/bakery operations for resale to the Defense Commissary Agency's West region commissaries. The estimated award amount is $9,448,990.56. The contract is for a 24-month base period of performance beginning Feb. 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2012. Two one-year option periods and four award terms are available. If both option periods are exercised and four award terms are earned, the contract will be completed Jan. 31, 2018. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 13 firms were solicited and four offers were received. The Defense Commissary Agency, Marketing Business Unit, Resale Contracting Division, Fort Lee, Va., is the contracting activity (HDEC02-10-D-0004).

DoD Works to Ensure Health Assessments Are Administered Post Deployment

The Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) is a tool using the DD Form 2900, designed to identify service member health concerns which may have either been unresolved from the deployment or emerged during the post-deployment period.

The PDHRA is to be offered to all active duty service members, Reservists and National Guardsmen within a three- to six-month time period after returning from overseas deployments greater than 30 days in length and where there are no fixed medical treatment facilities. The basic purpose is to enable health providers, in partnership with service members, to identify post-deployment medical issues in service members and make recommendations for treatment.

Department of Defense (DoD) policy requires that completed PDHRA forms be kept electronically in a central repository administered by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC). Data extrapolated from these forms also assists the Military Health System in detecting patterns of medical issues affecting American forces post-deployment.

Last year, the Senate Armed Services Committee directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate reports that completed PDHRA forms were not making their way into the central repository for a variety of reasons. Without these reports, DoD would find it difficult to accurately track and respond to long-term medical concerns of American military forces.

During the course of its investigation, GAO found that the DoD central repository did not have reports for approximately 23 percent of service members whom the GAO expected to complete the PDHRA in the post-deployment period. DoD found this number to be wholly unacceptable, and concurred with GAO recommendations that every effort be made to ensure service members who are required to complete the PDHRA do so, and that these reports are electronically submitted to the central repository.

Without waiting for the final GAO report, DoD began the process of rectifying these issues by taking the following steps:

DoD is currently working with the armed services to determine that eligible service members are correctly identified (for example, sailors who remained shipboard during their deployment were incorrectly expected to have completed the PDHRA), why eligible individuals within that service either did not complete the PDHRA or why it is not in the central repository. Once this initiative is complete, DoD will take corrective action and conduct a follow-up review to ensure accountability.

The armed services are working with AFHSC to develop a process by which automated confirmation will be obtained when PDHRAs are added to the central repository. The Navy already has such a system in place, covering their personnel as well as United States Marines.

All services have issued policies to ensure frequent deployers receive the PDHRA annually.

The Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness issued a memorandum to the armed service surgeons general re-emphasizing the need for the PDHRA to be offered to all who are eligible.

In addition, the Reserve Health Readiness Program has taken steps to improve its documentation of problem identification and resolution regarding the PDHRA processes, thereby solidifying program improvements.

In short, DoD is taking the steps necessary to ensure service members receive the care they have earned and deserve. We appreciate and welcome outside scrutiny because we will accept nothing less than the best for members of the United States Armed Forces.

Officials Encourage Guard, Reserve to Honor Employers

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 30, 2009 - Providing pay and benefits during deployments, sending care packages to deployed employees, allowing time off, and celebrating military service with send-off and homecoming ceremonies are just a few commitments that the Guard and Reserve's top employers are honored for each year. Officials here are asking Guard and Reserve servicemembers to speak out and honor their patriotic employers.

With ongoing global operations, support from employers for Guard and Reserve service is more critical now than ever, said Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve officials.

The ESGR's mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support. It also increases awareness of the laws governing Guard and Reserve service and resolves potential employer-servicemember conflicts through mediation.

Guard and Reserve leaders continually stress how critical the support of families, communities and employers are to the defense of the nation.

"If you added up all of your family members and all the employers you touch, we have over a million people that directly know what we do with the National Guard of the United States," Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Guard leaders at a conference last month.

Guard and Reserve servicemembers can nominate their employers for the Patriot and the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom awards online.

The Patriot Award recognizes all employers with a certificate and an accompanying lapel pin. Nominees are considered for other awards and recognition based on their level of support.

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the Defense Department. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 18.

Officials said the award was created to publicly recognize employers that provide exceptional support to their National Guard and Reserve employees.

More than 3,200 nominations for awards were submitted to ESGR this year.

(Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Community Partnerships Assist Families of Deployed Soldiers

By Rob Mcllvaine
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 30, 2009 - Due to multiple military deployments that have occurred for nearly a decade, many Army families choose to remain in their established neighborhoods or return to a relative's hometown when their soldier deploys. In many cases this means that family resources commonly found on a military installation aren't available for the duration of the soldier's deployment.

The Army has hired 61 community support coordinators located across the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and Japan to help connect these geographically dispersed military personnel with community-service systems.

Community support coordinators work to engage and invite community organizations to partner with the Army, which has led to new programs and support initiatives. Partnership with community organizations provides an extension to the services traditionally offered on Army posts. Army families, therefore, can access services wherever they reside while their military sponsor is deployed.

Community support coordinators work to identify resources and build partnerships with community organizations, said Karen Conrad, a family programs specialist at the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command here. These services then are made available to family programs staff of the active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve to build connections for soldiers and their family members, so they have a link to information and services even if they don't live on or near an installation.

"The CSCs have been very instrumental in connecting geographically dispersed soldiers and families to services," Conrad said. "Community organizations want to step up and partner with the military, but don't always know how they can make the connection. The CSCs provide them with the information they need to build that partnership."

CSCs have been trained by Army family specialists at the University of North Carolina's Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at Chapel Hill.

The CSC program is a result of an Army Family Action Plan issue and the Army Family Covenant. All Army components and family-service agencies are developing a strategic partnership to standardize soldier- and family-support programs and services regardless of component or geographical location, officials said.

Most civilian community programs and agencies, such as schools, nonprofit agencies, faith-based, legal and financial service organizations, as well as behavioral health and government organizations -- state and local government, Veterans Affairs, for instance -- are unaware of the number of Army personnel or families who live in their community or use their services, officials said.

The Army Community Covenant is a way of formally introducing these servicemembers and the organizations.

"We're in the [ninth] year of this war, the longest in our nation's history with an all-volunteer force," said retired Army Maj. Gen. Craig Whelden, the covenant's national outreach coordinator.

Whelden is a former commander of the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center, now redesignated as Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.

"The secretary of the Army thought this would be an opportunity to engage the American public in their communities and raise the level of visibility of the dedication and sacrifices [of] our servicemembers," Whelden said at this year's community covenant signing with the American Legion.

Since April 2008, 85 communities have signed community covenants

"It's incumbent upon us to look in our own backyards ... and to figure out who's out there serving our country and what kind of support they need," First Lady Michelle Obama said during a visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., in March. "We need to make sure, as a community, that we're coming together around those [military] families."

The Army OneSource online portal provides easy access to many services for families living far outside garrison borders.

Besides offering family-service connections initiated by community support coordinators, Army OneSource also compiles up-to-date information in a single location for access at any time of day.

The AOS portal features Army family-services-oriented articles, videos and resources in categories, such as programs and services, health care, soldier and family housing, child, youth and school services; education, careers and libraries; recreation, communities, marketplace and travel, as well as information about the Army's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program.

By using the Army OneSource portal, soldiers and families "can have local services at their fingertips and access information regardless of their component or where they reside," Conrad said.

(Rob Mcllvaine works with U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs.)

Civilian Turns Computer Parts into Artwork



By Air Force Capt. Larry van der Oord
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 30, 2009 - A civilian administrator working for the Air Force here transforms worn out computer parts into unique works of art. When computer hard drives go bad, airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron here typically remove all of the pertinent data and send them to the local disposal unit for destruction.

However, Miguel Rivera has been using some old hard drives and other discarded computer parts to create a collection of distinctive sculptures. So far he has constructed two different cars, a motorcycle and a robot.

"I just started making them just a few months ago," said Rivera, who has worked with the squadron for the past five years.

"We had a growing pile of hard drives just lying around the shop," Rivera explained. "One day I decided to take one apart, since I'd never looked at the 'guts' up close before. That's pretty much how it all started."

His first sculpture, a car-like vehicle, was built over one full weekend from standard 3.5-inch hard drives. It took a total of 33 hard drives to make.

"The first one wasn't really difficult to put together, since I didn't have to modify much other than the cover," Rivera said. "Everything else just screwed on."

Rivera's second sculpture was another miniature car. His third piece of art, a motorcycle, was a bit more difficult to construct.

"I just couldn't get parts to mix well at first to reflect the look I wanted," Rivera said. "It took many hours of taking apart pieces and putting them back together to get it right."

Rivera's favorite sculpture is the robot he built.

"In fact, I'm not sure I can out-do this one," Rivera said of his robot sculpture. "Building it went surprisingly smooth; it took me about two full weeks to make."

Rivera's creations are displayed on his office desk. And, his handiwork is drawing outside attention. All four sculptures were recently featured on "Wired" magazine's Web site.

Rivera "applies the same creativity in solving communication challenges as he applies in creating his very unique sculptures," said Air Force Maj. Roy Rockwell, 386th ECS commander.

Meanwhile, Rivera is working on a fifth sculpture and plans to unveil his "Hard-drive Helicopter" within the next few weeks.

(Air Force Capt. Larry van der Oord serves with 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)