Military News

Friday, January 08, 2010

Toolkit Helps Answer Service Members’ Health Care Questions

January 07, 2010 One in five service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from major depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

To help service members affected by a behavioral or other health condition, TRICARE created the Toolkit for Wounded, Ill, and Injured Service Members. The Toolkit is located at www.tricare.mil/wii and it’s a good resource for wounded service members seeking information about healthcare.

In the Toolkit, service members can find information explaining Medicare eligibility for wounded service members and an explanation of how TRICARE and Medicare work together to reduce a service member’s out-of-pocket costs. There are also news releases with the latest information on new programs and changes in care and a link to the Mental Health Resource Center. The Mental Health Resource Center provides confidential access to mental health resources for service members and their loved ones.

The Toolkit also features a widget—an embeddable link directing people back to the Toolkit Web site. Visitors can download the widget and install it on their own Web site, to help spread the word about the Wounded, Ill and Injured Toolkit to others who can benefit from its resources.

Army Guard begins a busy new year

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke

National Guard Bureau

(1/8/10) – This week, eight Army National Guard brigade combat teams were either returning to their home states from overseas or preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. Almost 60,000 Guardsmen have been mobilized for overseas missions as of today, according to Guard reports.

Returning units involved in this transition include the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade of Pennsylvania, the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) of North Carolina and the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) of Wisconsin.

Deploying units include the 53rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of Florida, the 72nd IBCT of Texas, the 278th HBCT of Tennessee, the 86th BCT of Vermont and the 256th IBCT of Louisiana.

Pennsylvania

The 28th CAB of the Pennsylvania National Guard, also known as Task Force Keystone, began arriving at Fort Dix, N.J., in December after their successful eight-month deployment to Iraq. The remaining elements of the CAB will redeploy in mid-January.

While in Iraq, the pilots, mechanics and support personnel provided helicopter air support and transportation needed to aid Iraq's transition to local security force control.

Col. Teresa A. Gallagher, the CAB commander, led the Soldiers into Iraq. Her initial challenge was to bring together all the elements of the brigade from nine states.

Once fully deployed, the 28th CAB took control of aviation operations in southern Iraq and performed the full-spectrum of aviation operation tasks, including troop and equipment transport, combat operations, air-assault training for Iraqi and U.S. special-operations forces, and airlifting non-operational vehicles from the battlefield.

Under Gallagher's leadership, the Guardsmen flew in excess of 25,000 flight hours, moved almost 60,000 passengers and 2.5 billion pounds of cargo, and participated in multiple combat missions, all with the use of CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

The brigade also had the first all-female medical evacuation team make history during the deployment. "There must have been another all-female MEDEVAC crew somewhere, but I haven't seen one," said Chief Warrant Officer Andrea Galatian, the pilot.

The 28th CAB also celebrated its 50th birthday, which it marked by receiving a combat patch for its service in Iraq.

"As the leader of this tremendous group of Soldiers, I must say that I couldn't be more proud," said Gallagher.

North Carolina

Soldiers from the 30th HBCT of the North Carolina National Guard are also preparing for redeployment this month after spending about eight months in Iraq.

The mission of the brigade, also known as "Old Hickory" and made up of 4,000 Soldiers, was to secure an area south of Baghdad.

"We set out to accomplish our mission by focusing primarily along two main lines of effort,” said Col. Gregory Lusk, the commander of the brigade and Multinational Division-Baghdad. “The first being our partnership with the Iraqi security forces and the combined security operations that we do together, as well as civil capacity. And we see both of these lines of efforts being inextricably linked to the goal of securing the population."

The brigade has also played an instrumental part in other successes now being seen in Iraq, including the country's upcoming national elections.

"We recognized early on that this would be a key event for our time here in Iraq, and all of our efforts since our day of arrival have been dedicated toward accomplishing this goal and setting the conditions and supporting the Iraqi desires for holding these important elections," said Lusk.

Wisconsin

The return of the 32nd IBCT of the Wisconsin Army National Guard from an eight-month deployment to Iraq began Jan. 5, when about 115 Soldiers from Troop A, 105th Cavalry arrived at Volk Field, Wis.

About 3,200 members of the 32nd, augmented by six other Wisconsin Army National Guard units, were ordered to active duty Feb. 1, 2009 and deployed to Iraq in April and May following two months of training at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Troop A was stationed at eight different bases in northern Iraq.

Capt. Matthew McDonald, Troop A commander, said the unit directly supported Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, his staff and their operations in Iraq to stabilize the Iraqi government and protect U.S. forces. This also involved working with joint Department of Defense agencies.

MacDonald said Troop A completed more than 1,700 missions in Iraq. "It's still a very dangerous place, but I'm confident your efforts helped make it a better place," he said. "Your stories are yours to tell, or not to tell."

Some of the missions that Troop A conducted are still governed by operational security concerns, but senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders made no secret of their pride in the unit.

"You did a phenomenal job on a phenomenal mission," said Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. "What you accomplished will have a lasting effect on Iraq."

McDonald credited his lower enlisted and NCOs with the unit's success. "This was very much a bottom-driven job," he explained. "Specialists, sergeants and staff sergeants were mission leaders. Every Soldier had a tremendous amount of responsibility placed on him. They did a phenomenal, outstanding job."

The Soldiers will now spend about a week at nearby Fort McCoy for demobilization processing – which includes briefing each Soldier about resources and benefits available to help them transition back to civilian life – before being released from active duty.

Florida

More than 600 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment left Jan. 5 from the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport to become part of the Florida Army National Guard’s largest, single-unit deployment since World War II.

The Soldiers joined nearly 2,000 other men and women from the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team who are deploying from across the state this week.

They flew to Ft. Hood, Texas, where they will receive additional training before departing for Southwest Asia for a yearlong mission in Kuwait and Iraq, where they will perform various security missions, including providing convoy security for coalition forces entering and departing Iraq.

During a ceremony prior to the unit’s departure, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist lauded the Soldiers for their service.

“You who stand before us are very brave men and women of the Florida National Guard,” he said. “Your commitment to securing the freedom and democracy is what we are all here (for) today. Our state and our country are grateful – enormously grateful – for your courage.”

Speaking to the Soldiers and their families gathered for the ceremony, the governor said he has seen the sacrifices made by the Florida National Guard during both state and federal deployments.

“You remind us of the courage and the true determination that define America and her freedom,” he said.

Crist also noted the sacrifices made by the families of the deploying Soldiers, adding that “service men and women are not the only ones who make sacrifices” during deployments.

“We are joined today by many of your family members,” he said. “They truly make sacrifices as well.”

Texas

The 72nd IBCT has been busy preparing for and focusing on Operation Iraqi Freedom in the New Mexico desert outside of El Paso, Texas.

In Iraq, the 72nd IBCT headquarters will operate as the Joint Area Support Group-Central with responsibility for the administration and security of the International Zone in Baghdad.

Part of the 72nd IBCT’s assignment is to support the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and the return of U.S.-controlled properties in the International Zone to the government of Iraq.

About 3,000 soldiers, to include the 1-141st and 3-141st Infantry Battalion headquarters, which fall under the 72nd IBCT headquarters, will perform various roles in Baghdad and throughout Iraq, such as security and guard force and detainee and convoy operations.

“We anticipate a number of mission changes due to theater requirements,” said Col. Mark N. Campsey, the 72nd IBCT’s commander. “So, we’re training on multiple tasks which we might do.”

For Campsey, the main concern is the ambiguity of the mission. However, he believes the 72nd IBCT’s training gives the brigade the flexibility, capability and the capacity to meet the demands of the situation in Iraq.

“Our Soldiers are uniquely qualified for what’s ahead due to the combination of their civilian and military skills,” he said.

Tennessee

More than 3,000 Guardsmen from the 278th HBCT of the Tennessee National Guard will train at Camp Shelby, Miss., for two months before heading to Iraq.

The deployment is expected to last for at least one year.

Vermont

About 1,500 Guardsmen from the 86th BCT are currently at Camp Atterbury, Ind., preparing for their deployment to Afghanistan, where they will replace the 48th BCT of the Georgia National Guard.

Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan Farnham, the Vermont Guard’s joint staff director, will head-up the newly created Afghan National Security Forces Development Assistance Bureau, which will oversee the training of Afghanistan’s security forces.

“It appears that my group will be doing some data collection, some analysis, receiving reports and doing some war-gaming of things to make suggestions on how to improve on how things are going given the resources that are available,” said Farnham in an interview with Vermont Public Radio in December.

He added that he will lead about 100 Soldiers, including some military members from Macedonia, which is one of Vermont’s State Partnership Program countries.

Farnham’s mission in Afghanistan is an offshoot of the Vermont Guard’s original mission of heading up Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, which was responsible for training the Afghan National Army.

“I know that Task Force Phoenix, which we originally believed that Vermont would be manning and managing, is in the process of going away and being reorganized,” he said. “It appears to me to be a little leaner and a smaller footprint than it originally was.”

Louisiana

Family and friends gathered at 21 ceremonies throughout Louisiana this week to bid farewell to about 3,000 Louisiana Army National Guardsmen deploying to Iraq.

Soldiers of the 256th IBCT departed for their one-year tour that begins with training at Camp Shelby.

"Today, each and every one of you embarks to change the course of history,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, addressing the Soldiers at one of the ceremonies. “You set out to fight for freedom in a part of the world that does not have the same liberties we do in America.”

Since the 256th deployed in 2004, many of the Guardsmen are leaving for the second and third time.

Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general for Louisiana, praised each one for answering the nation’s call. “We need to remember that every Soldier sitting here today is a true patriot,” he said. “They are men and women who are willing to give up the comforts of home to answer our country’s call to duty.”

The brigade’s mission will be to provide security to U.S. convoys and bases across Iraq.

"The 256th has a distinguished history, and we've already been battle-tested," said Col. Jonathan T. Ball, commander of the 256th. "We will accomplish our mission and bring your Soldiers back to you."

“The men and women of this unit remind us all of what America stands for,” said Landreneau. “We wish them good luck, and Godspeed on their mission. Our prayers go with them, and we’ll be looking forward to the next ceremony where we welcome them home.”

(The public affairs offices of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin also contributed to this report.)

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 8, 2010

NAVY

NAVMAR Applied Sciences Corp.*, Warminster, Pa., is being awarded a $73,078,749 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research project under Topics N92-170 and N94-178. The contractor will provide services and materials for the design and development of a persistent ground surveillance system for the Army and the Marine Corps. Work will be performed at various forward-deployed operating bases located in Afghanistan (86 percent); Patuxent River, Md. (11 percent); and Yuma, Ariz. (3 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This Phase III contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J. is the contracting activity (N68335-10-C-0101).

Neany, Inc.*, Hollywood, Md., is being awarded a $72,289,266 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the procurement of a persistent ground surveillance system for the Army, capable of providing day/night protection and support for forward operating bases. This effort will include preparation for deployment; procurement of spares and support equipment; selection and training of field operators and technicians; activation of the logistics trail required for program execution; and deployment of systems to the field for operational testing. Work will be performed in various forward deployed operating bases located in Afghanistan (71.27 percent); Hollywood, Md. (21.26 percent); and Yuma, Ariz. (7.47 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-2. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-10-C-0100).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Sperry Marine, Charlottesville, Va., is being awarded a $10,921,428 modification to previously awarded contract (N65540-06-D-0009) for additional engineering and technical services, including associated equipment in support of the analysis, repair, alteration, maintenance, and production improvement on the existing Sperry Marine manufactured Integrated Bridge System and the steering/ship control systems installed on Navy vessels and at land-based test facilities. Work will be performed in Charlottesville, Va. (25 percent); Norfolk, Va. (25 percent); San Diego, Calif. (25 percent); Philadelphia, Pa. (10 percent); Mayport, Fla. (5 percent); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (5 percent); and other locations (5 percent). Work is expected to be completed by March 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $500,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Ship System Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

U.S. Foodservice, Livermore, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $16,368,070 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity/indefinite-delivery contract for full line food distribution. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. There were originally three proposals solicited with three responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first 18-month option. The date of performance completion is July 13, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM300-08-D-3228).

AIR FORCE

Champion Energy Services, LLC, Houston, Texas, was awarded a $6,488,044 contract to add funding for electrical services at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, from Feb. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2010. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 82 CONS, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA3002-08-D-0026, modification 03).

New York Guardsmen become bobsledders this weekend


By Eric Durr
New York National Guard

(1/5/10) - About 20 New York Army National Guard Soldiers will spend this weekend going fast on America's only dedicated bobsled track.

The Soldiers, members of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, will be serving as brakemen for professional drivers from NASCAR and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), who will be competing against each other.

It's the third time that New York National Guardsmen have been part of the bobsled teams competing in the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge.

The race, organized by former NASCAR champion Geoff Bodine, the winner of the 1986 Indy 500, is held to raise money to support the Bo-Dyne Bobsled Project Inc. The Bo-Dyne project is an effort by Bodine and race-car designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., to create made-in-America bobsleds for the United States men's and women's national bobsled teams.

This will be the fifth year for the race, held at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex, where the 1980 Winter Olympics bobsled racing took place. The almost mile-long track incorporates 20 turns and bobsled speeds can reach almost 100 miles an hour. U.S. Olympians train at the track regularly.

Getting the Army National Guard involved was Bodine's idea.

"As a son of a World War II veteran and a former Army National Guardsmen, I thought we needed some brave people to ride with these drivers and there's no braver folks than our men and women in the U.S. military," Bodine said during the 2009 race.

In 2006, Bodine approached U.S Bobsled National Team Coach Bill Tavares, who is also a 26-year veteran of the Army National Guard, about bringing the Guard into the nationally televised event.

"I approached the unit in nearby Saranac Lake to see if I could get them to come over," Tavares said. From there, the request was routed through regional recruiters and the Guard was officially on board."

In the first year, Iraq veterans and their families were invited to the event. In other years, National Guard recruits and combat veterans have served as brakemen, helping to launch and stop the sleds.

"For the participants, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the coverage the Guard receives is phenomenal ... international," said Maj. David Palmieri, the organizer of the National Guard's 2009 effort.

The racers like having the Guardsmen participate. "I think they're crazy," said NASCAR driver and former bobsledder Boris Said, during the 2009 race. "I think it's probably safer in Iraq than it is getting into the back of a bobsled with us."

Today the New York Army National Guard's Recruiting Command still organizes Guard participation in the race.

This year's race NCOIC is Sgt. Dwayne White, who is based at the New York State Armory in Morrisonville. He reached out to members of Company B who drill at the armory to participate in this year's event.

Along with Guardsmen serving as brakemen, the rider responsible for dropping the metal hook that digs into the ice to slow the sled, White will have a team of recruiters at the event.

The recruiting exhibit will include a replica of the #88 National Guard Card driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a National Guard Indy car simulator that allows a visitor to experience the thrills of racing through video and sound.

Ohio Air, Army Guard prepares for future mission

By Capt. Nicole L. Ashcroft

Ohio National Guard

(1/8/10) -- The 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard recently deployed to Iraq to work with members of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Ohio Army National Guard in a ground-breaking concept of operations test between the two services.

In preparation for the arrival of C-27 Spartans, the 179th answered the call from Air Mobility Command for a unit to participate in this test to watch and document how an Air Force squadron integrates with Army command and control and scheduling processes.

This type of mission has not been conducted since Vietnam. At that time, it was only done for the purpose of transferring C-7 Caribous to the Air Force from the Army -- having Air Force units remain attached while deployed is a new concept.

The 179th has special capabilities that will greatly assist the 25th in completing their mission, said Guard officials.

As a “slick” or non-special operations unit, they’re qualified in airdrop/airland and adverse weather aerial delivery and certified in flying with full-up night vision goggles. This will enable the 25th to haul more cargo and personnel, relieving the stress on the general support helicopters, such as UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks.

In most instances, the 179th can execute direct support plus time-sensitive and critical missions with more robust and quicker delivery, Guard officials said.

Both the Air Force and the Army have their unique tactics, techniques and procedures. This study is focused on learning how to combine the two in order to forge a blend that will make the two services successful in future missions. This is particularly important as the C-27 Spartans are scheduled to begin arriving at 179th in the near future, Guard officials said. In preparation for the new mission, a group of pilots and loadmasters began training on the C-27J Spartan at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., in December.

Chairman Touts Importance of Cultural Engagement

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 8, 2010 - Knowing about and engaging with people of other cultures, other beliefs and other ethnicities may be as important to American security as battle plans, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke at the Naval War College to an audience that included 110 students from other countries.

"I have been driven for a long time by the belief that the world we're living in requires us to understand problems from somebody else's perspective," Mullen said. "And I see that to be the case more and more in everything that I'm doing."

The strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example, is predicated on American servicemembers understanding and respecting the cultures of the countries. It is so important, he noted, that it is at the heart of an initiative he has to develop a core group of servicemembers who concentrate on the region even when they are not assigned there.

"I'm very focused right now on getting a cadre of some 700, 800, 900 individuals that are going to be focused on and do tours in Afghanistan and Pakistan," the chairman said. "And when they come back for a year or two, they're still working those issues." This cadre will know the "complex human terrain" of the region and understand the dynamics of the people and their leaders, the admiral said. Part of their value is that they will not have to spend time getting up to speed when they arrive for an assignment in the country.

The idea breaks service promotion-track paradigms, the chairman acknowledged. "But we've got to promote those kinds of people," he added. "This is my top priority right now."

The United States does not have the luxury of time in Afghanistan, Mullen said. "I am losing people almost every day in a fight," he told the audience. "There should be nothing that's more important, quite frankly."

And the same is true in other areas of the world, the chairman said. Military leaders need to know the military leaders of other nations.

"I can go to the Pacific, I can go to Africa, I can go into our own hemisphere -- where we haven't spent enough time, in my view -- focusing on making sure those relationships are strong," he said. "That's culture. That's language."

This type of knowledge, he admitted, has not been rewarded in the past. "We need to change that, in terms of what we value, because of the importance of those relationships," he said.

Mullen offered some advice to the foreign military officers at the war college.

"I hope you get out and see America," he said. "I hope you get to go out and meet our citizens, and not just our military. That's really who we are. And take every opportunity to teach us about you and your countries and your histories and traditions."

It is very difficult to establish relationships in the middle of a crisis, Mullen said. Though leaders must work to avoid crises, it's important to have an established relationship if they occur -- a relationship in which "we've got an e-mail address, got a telephone number and know the person," he said.

New Guide Aims at Improving DoD-NGO Field Collaboration

By Matt Pueschel
FHP&R Staff Writer

A hit at last month’s Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA) conference was the release of a new Guide to Nongovernmental Organizations for the Military (PDF download), which was edited and co-written by FHP&R International Health Division (IHD) member Dr. Lynn Lawry.

The guide is aimed at helping deploying DoD personnel understand how to work in a collaborative, productive fashion with NGOs that they likely will encounter in the field. The guide was originally written in 2002 by Grey Frandsen, who was then a project officer for the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). Lawry, who is assigned to IHD through a Henry Jackson Foundation grant at CDHAM, rewrote and updated the guide last summer. “It’s for DoD in general for anybody who is deploying,” she advised. “The civil-military world has changed a lot since 2002. The military has had a lot of experiences with NGOs and it needed more of a focus on the military.”

Fundamental differences between DoD and NGOs have presented challenges in the field at times, although their relationship is evolving. “[The guide] can be used by host nations and anybody, but we focused on the military so some of the conflict could be mitigated,” Lawry said.

“What’s new about it is it pulls in [recent] military guidance and doctrine and shows where difficulties between the military and civilian community happen. It is more extensive in talking about coordination and adds a section on security, and how NGOs do security. They have their own security measures and protocols, which have developed in the last 10 years. They don’t [always] have to go to the military [for security]. There are a lot of myths that we debunked in this book.”

Much of the new policy basis for increasing collaboration with NGOs stems from DoD directive 3000.05, which was established in late 2005 and updated in an instruction last fall. The policy elevated the importance of stability operations and directs DoD to be prepared to conduct them across the range of conflict and non-combat environments, and to integrate mission planning and execution with other U.S. government agencies, foreign governments and security forces, and NGOs.

“In many cases NGOs can operate in space DoD can’t. They can move faster through customs, etc., and many NGOs have been in countries longer than DoD and have experience,” said Fred Gerber, the Iraq country director for the NGO, Project HOPE.

IHD member Cdr. Patrick Laraby, MC, USN, said NGOs prefer to maintain neutrality from the government, so there is an inherent friction between them and DoD. He added that there are some NGOs that have former military members in them that are more amenable to working with DoD, and then a wide range of other international and local NGOs. “How DoD works with them is what we’re trying to work out right now,” he said. “It will take some time. I think things are moving in the right direction.”

The guide shows how the military can work with NGOs that may not want to be perceived as being aligned with people in uniform on the ground. “Through coordinating mechanisms and understanding how to work with NGOs without being face to face. They just have to know at the field level. The book can point people in the right direction,” Lawry said.

Cdr. Laraby said NGOs do not want to be coordinated by the military, so it is best to collaborate and coordinate with them from the beginning. “Then they can say if and how they can help you,” he said.

Gerber acknowledged many NGOs do not want to be associated with people in uniform so that they are not recognized as collaborators in conflict areas, but not all NGOs feel this way. Project HOPE, for example, works with the Army Corps of Engineers on a children’s hospital in Basra, Iraq, and has been involved with the Navy’s global interagency humanitarian civic assistance hospital ship missions the last several years.

“The Department of State and USAID are the lead [in development], but are not equipped to operate in combat zones and are not well organized or experienced with these environments and rebuilding health systems,” he said. “[Through] health and engineering—DoD recognized that as being important, especially with the creation of IHD--I’ve seen a distinct change and improvement in how DoD is reaching out to NGOs. DoD realizes it doesn’t have experience in capacity building and needs to partner. NGOs are standard across battlefield spaces and have been there for decades.”

Lawry said the guide gives the military a ready reference for looking up and understanding issues the military may have with NGOs when they are trying to work in an area where NGOs exist. “There is not enough training early in military careers to understand who and what NGOs are and how they operate and how they can be helpful,” she advised. “There are cultural differences that have to be understood.”

The military has varying sets of leaders who have had different experiences with NGOs, Lawry added. For example, a major might be more open to communicating with NGOs than some colonels or generals. “This book is aimed at everybody, not just the young guys,” she said. “All of the surgeons general are dying to see it because they realize with the new doctrine and new COIN (Counter-Insurgency), they have to deal with them. They should be shown how.”

Lawry said there are also three courses at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) that are focused on these issues and will utilize the new guide in the classroom. “The NGO guidebook is an outstanding resource for clinicians, medical planners and commanders,” said Maj. Pat Hickey, MC, USA, deputy director for Tropical Public Health at USU. “In today’s operation environment, knowing how to leverage the resources and skill sets of NGO partners is a key to mission success. Doing so allows military resources to be employed more efficiently and synchronized with civilian humanitarian aid and development projects.”

Hickey said he will be utilizing the guide to teach military physicians, nurses and Master’s degree level graduate students in several arenas. It will serve as a core resource in the USU course, Public Health Issues of Disasters, and will also be incorporated into the two-day Military Medicine Humanitarian Assistance Course that is offered at various venues around DoD.

“For USU medical students [and others], this text can serve as a great resource to be filed in that ‘just in case’ section of your files,” Hickey said. “Given current operations, most of these students can expect to deploy in support of combat or stability operations, and everything in between. With a little bit of extra preparation, a tool like this has the potential to turn you into the local subject matter expert—and provide invaluable guidance to the command they are supporting, whether it be at the battalion, brigade or corps level.”

NGOs bring many strengths to the table that can complement DoD’s heavy lift, logistics, trauma lifesaving abilities and capability to work in hostile areas. NGOs conduct long-term capacity building in a diverse range of areas, including water, sanitation, food, schools and health, which are strategically important for the country’s health ministry and what the local population wants and can support. “The NGO has local partnerships, a history in the area and sustainability, and all of the new guidances are saying if you create a program it has to be sustainable and the hand-off to the host nation or NGOs working with the host nation is appropriately done,” Lawry said.

The guide is geared to disaster relief environments and the full range of complex conflict areas and peacetime situations that require health services, nutrition, shelter, communications and security. Lawry said military members who are deploying abroad should be aware that there are NGOs in the area and they need to be given instructions on what they do, who they are and where they are. “You need to communicate with them and this gives you a guide,” she said. “You need to understand your differences and their differences, and the culture clash and how to get around it.”

Many times the clash comes down to a communication breakdown. “The [differences in] terminology, culture, and education,” Lawry said. “Not understanding development and only understanding the military, or only understanding development and not understanding the military.”

But Lawry, who herself worked for NGOs for 16 years before joining DoD, said it is a myth that NGOs do not want to talk to the military. She said the relationship has improved. “Absolutely, NGOs understand the military is not going anywhere and vice versa with the military,” she said.

“I’ve been in this a long time. It used to be five people talking [about civil-military international work]. Now there are hundreds of people discussing it in the room and this is doctrine. So obviously it has gotten better. More people are interested in it and understand you do have to do COIN, which includes ensuring the host country’s basic needs are met.”

The most efficient and best way is for DoD to allow NGOs to do their job, understand their needs in the field and provide security and development support. Lawry said the end goal of assisting the host nation is the same. “It’s just the method of getting there,” she said. “NGOs don’t have command and control. The military can’t do command and control [in international development where the U.S. Agency for International Development has the lead]. So there has to be working together from the planning stage all the way through.”

Military attendees of the SOMA conference said they often stumble upon NGOs in deployment missions, so they expressed a need for the guide and a list of operating NGOs. The guide has an annex of 200 NGOs and contact information. A releasable version of the guide is available for download here, and will also be published by the Borden Institute and be made available at www.cdham.org. The Borden Institute is a military publishing agency run in cooperation with the U.S. Army and Government Printing office, and is located at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

IHD member Mary Ann Ante-Amburgey added that there is a process for NGOs to register in countries they are working in, such as with the Iraqi government for example, and that local leaders can advise which ones are most effective.

Through the CDHAM grant, Dr. Lawry further has helped develop a new online database of about 5,000 international NGOs that will soon be available on www.global-health.org. The database contains local NGO contacts and will be self-updating. Dr. Warner Anderson, director of IHD, said the newly updated database will allow Service members to type in a stability topic such as water or health and the place they are deploying to, and pull up the best NGO contacts in that area.

“Before you leave, you should be querying the database about who’s there and where,” Lawry advised.

Download the Guide to Nongovernmental Organizations for the Military (PDF)
http://www.health.mil/Content//docsngo_guidebook_S1.pdf

USO Plans Family Centers at Bethesda, Belvoir

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 8, 2010 - USO officials plan to build family centers at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., and Fort Belvoir, Va., to continue the USO's tradition of bringing troops a piece of home. The project was inspired by the Army Community Services center at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said Sloan Gibson, USO Inc. president, who toured the facility in March. He said he got to thinking about construction under way at Bethesda and Fort Belvoir for new military medical facilities and decided the new facilities needed similar centers.

The 25,000 square-foot facility at Bethesda will feature phone banks and computer banks where people can stay in touch with home, as well as places to get together and watch movies and football games and for troops and their families to play video games. "We want to have a huge kitchen, because we've learned from [Brooke] in particular ... that that winds up being a real gathering place," Gibson said. "It's a very important part of creating that environment that makes people feel very much like they're at home."

USO officials also want to include a major training facility, as many of the wounded warriors and their families end up spending months -- and sometimes years -- at the medical facilities.

"That's a long time, and many of these troops and their families feel like they're kind of treading water," Gibson said. "They're doing their therapy, and they're working to get better, but in terms of other things, they don't necessarily feel like they're getting ready for what's next. What we wanted to do was to be able to provide a robust training and education space inside the building."

Navy Vice Adm. John Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, called the USO's proposal "serendipitous," Gibson said.

"He was sitting there trying to develop a joint solution to deal with a lot of the very issues that we were talking about," he said. "From that first visit, we proceeded to visit with every command element conceivable that would be involved, even peripherally, in a project there at Bethesda."

Those visits started the USO down a parallel track planning a similar facility for Fort Belvoir with the Army, Gibson said.

The Fort Belvoir facility, though smaller at a planned 15,000 square feet, will possess all the qualities of the Bethesda center. The only true difference, besides floor space, is that the Bethesda center will have office space for governmental and nongovernmental organizations that wounded warriors and their families rely on for essential support. The same accommodations were offered for the Belvoir center, but the Army had already made provisions for them in a nearby building, Gibson said.

"One of the biggest challenges that these families have [is that] there are a lot of resources out there to help them, but finding those resources and actually benefitting from the service sometimes is a real challenge," Gibson said. "One of the thing we've offered to do at Bethesda is put, under the same roof, offices for the Veterans Affairs, offices for the Social Security Administration, offices for the billeting office."

USO of Metropolitan Washington, the local USO affiliate, will staff both facilities with some full-time staff and many volunteers, but just how many is still unknown.

"I think that's going to be one of those things we're going to have to wait and see," said Elaine Rogers, president of USO Metro. "We have about 5,000 USO volunteers in the metropolitan area, but [they're] not all hospital-related. We have hundreds of volunteers right now who help us with hospital programs, and we'll be expanding that."

And USO Metro plans to provide many programs, including everything from celebrities coming for autograph sessions to possibly having chefs come in to do cooking programs.

"We're really, really excited about this," Rogers said. "[We're] trying to take some of the things that everybody experiences in life and kind of bring them to that center."

The chance to get out of a hospital environment and relax somewhere that feels more like home is an important part of the healing process, said Deborah Mullen, wife of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a nonvoting member of the USO Metro board.

"I really do believe [this] is going to be a significant assist in the healing process, just because of the ability to get away, to be calm, to be out of the hospital with the noises and the smells -- all of the things that go on in a hospital," she said. "This will be just a very quiet peaceful environment."

Mullen said she knows first-hand the effect these centers can have on wounded warriors and their families. When she travels with her husband, she makes a point of trying to visit USO airport centers or nearby family centers.

Recently she visited a family center in Germany.

"What they're going to do here, it's very similar to the [USO Warrior Center] in Landstuhl, which Michael and I just visited before Christmas," Mullen said. "I think what we can expect is the same sort of place that's almost a home away from home. It's outside the hospital, but yet on the campus, easily reachable. It's a place, really, for rest, restoration, respite -- a comfortable place to go where you can just renew."

But it's not just the warriors who need to be able to get away from the sights, sounds and smells associated with a hospital stay. Family members also need that respite. The USO centers will give families a place to relax outside their rooms at a Fisher House, the Navy Lodge or motel where they're staying.

While the homey feel surely will be welcome, Mullen said, at some point those relaxing in the new home-like family centers will recognize that these centers are really the American people showing their support and gratitude to the nation's servicemembers and their families.

"I think this is an expression of the citizens of our country wanting to help support our men and women," Mullen said. "I think that will register with them."

Gibson said he expects the two facilities to cost about $25 million to build, equip and furnish. The USO, however, is hoping to raise $100 million. That would cover the cost of the construction another $20 million to $25 million to endow their perpetual operation, including permanent staff and some supplies, and $50 million to support an array of "best-in-class programs" to support wounded warriors and their families.

Should fundraising go smoothly, Gibson said, he's hoping to break ground on the Bethesda center July 4 and would like to see both buildings completed by Sept. 15, 2011, the day the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to close, with its patients moving to Bethesda or Fort Belvoir.

Gates Will Remain as Secretary at Least Another Year

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 8, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will stay in office for at least another year, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed yesterday. Gates met with President Barack Obama before Christmas and committed to another year on the job, Morrell said.

Then-President George W. Bush nominated Gates for the job in December 2006, and Obama asked the secretary to remain as defense secretary when his administration began in January 2009. Gates is the only Cabinet member to span both administrations.

Gates has worked to remake the way the Defense Department does business, and another year in office will give him another opportunity to shape the department's budget. In the fiscal 2010 budget, for example, the secretary recommended ending the F-22 Raptor program and concentrating on the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter. He also ended the Army's Future Combat System and pledged the money to other Army programs.

He drove the effort to buy and rapidly deploy mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to protect servicemembers in Iraq from roadside bombs and to provide all-terrain versions of the vehicles for troops in Afghanistan.

Gates took over at a tough time for the department. The troop surge in Iraq was just getting under way, and casualties in the fighting were mounting. Gates also was in charge when revelations about substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center came out. He fired the Army secretary, the service's surgeon general and the commander at the facility. He has concentrated attention on care for wounded warriors and putting in place systems so the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs can work together.

Amid concerns over the Air Force's handling of its nuclear weapons, Gates asked for and received the resignations of the service's secretary and chief of staff in June 2008.

More recently, Gates has been instrumental in developing the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.

As with any appointed official, Morrell noted, Gates serves at the pleasure of the president.

"[The president and Gates] agreed to revisit this issue again later this year, but for all intents and purposes, their original agreement still stands: he serves at the pleasure of the president indefinitely, and he is honored to do so, though he certainly looks forward to one day retiring to his family home in the Pacific Northwest," Morrell said.

Spouse Describes Reunion, Reintegration Challenges

By Elaine Wilson

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 8, 2010 - Kelly Henry was hoping for a picture-perfect reunion when her husband returned after a yearlong deployment to Iraq. But what she got was far from a Hollywood scene. "All four [of my kids] cried within 48 hours of my husband coming home," said Henry, wife of Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Henry, a family medicine doctor assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.

Henry described the ups and downs of reunion and reintegration and lessons learned yesterday in an interview with American Forces Press Service.

The floodgates first opened when her husband arrived home early Dec. 2.

"His flight had been delayed, so he arrived at 1 a.m.," she recalled. Henry asked him to take a cab home rather than wake up their four children to pick him up at the airport.

When he walked through the door, "Our 4-year-old woke up and burst into tears; he couldn't be soothed," she said.

He had seen his father on a Web cam a week before, "but he was totally freaked out," Henry said. "It wasn't one of those warm reunion moments; both of us were trying to console a frightened 4-year-old."

It was downhill from there. "Later in the day, one of my kids became feverish at school and came home," she said. "So, on my husband's first day home, I was in the acute clinic with a child with a double ear infection, and he was making dinner and feeding three kids. Not a good first 24 hours."

Then, two of their kids cried at dinner after their father corrected their behavior. "Big tears; big, big tears," Henry observed.

It took some time, but life has been smoother sailing since those tough first days, Henry said.

"I'd say it took a good month to get back to normal," she said. "The first couple of days, a kid was glued to his side constantly. Now we're a lot more casual. We're back into our regular routine."

Henry said she's not surprised there were a few rough spots. She's experienced the gamut during her husband's four deployments, and she has first-hand experience as a Navy "brat" and retired Navy commander.

"I grew up with a parent in the Navy; this has been my life from birth," she said. "I feel like I'm pretty well equipped."

Henry said she's learned by now that the reunion "is not going to go the way you think it's going to go. Someone is going to cry," she said. Still, each time is different, with different lessons learned, she added. To illustrate, she described a "meltdown" her daughter had when her husband first returned home.

Henry was out running an errand while her husband stayed behind to help their daughter with her math homework. Their older son began to tease her about her math skills, and she started crying.

"My husband called me and said, 'I don't know why she's crying,'" Henry recalled. "I knew right away what was up. You can't do math with our daughter while her brother, a 'math wiz,' is in the room. "It didn't occur to me to tell him this. These are the subtle things you forget to mention. They lose the flavor of what it's like to be in the room."

To add to the challenge, children may change substantially while a loved one is away for long periods of time.

"Our 4-year-old was a baby when he left, and is now an independent boy," Henry said. "There are big changes in our children's personalities and what they can do, what they worry about, what they think is funny or scary."

To ease reunion roadblocks, Henry advises parents to maintain closeness by keeping an open line of communication between the deployed parent and their children during the separation. She also said a strict routine is all important.

"It's important to maintain a routine, whether he's here or not," she said, noting that a routine maintains a healthy order to the household.

At the same time, "I think you have to balance between bringing the parent back into a family routine and not dumping everything on them all at once," she said.

Over the years, Henry said, she's learned the importance of allowing her husband time to decompress.

"I think what's hard is that they go from an environment where the things they deal with are life-and-death issues, and then they come home, and what people are reacting to [is] treated with the same urgency," she said. "It's hard to reframe that perspective and not dismiss concerns because they're not life-and-death."

Henry said she tries to be sensitive to this and encourages her children to seek Dad out, but doesn't let all four pummel him with things that need to be done immediately. "I tell them, 'Dad's going to be really tired and may not remember all the rules. Let's show him how we do things,'" she said.

Whether the spouse is deployed or at home, Henry said, military programs can offer families some much-needed help.

"The first time my husband went to Iraq, I would meet with a coffee group," she said. "We had informal 'battle buddies' to help us over the course of a deployment. It was really helpful."

Henry also used online military resources to ease the reintegration for her family. "So much of the information is common sense, but during such an emotional time, it's hard to remember it all," she said. "Everyone's emotions are running high."

She also emphasized the importance of reaching out to younger military spouses who may not be aware of the support and the extensive amount of resources available to help them.

"We're older -- late 40s and married almost 20 years. I think, as a family, we're well-equipped to handle deployments, but it's still hard even for us," she said. "But there are young families that don't have a long-term relationship to fall back on. For them, the reunion can be very challenging."

Henry said she's always willing to lend a helping hand.

"We have a young couple in our neighborhood; the husband is deployed," she said. "We get together for pizza a couple of times a month. It's fun for our kids and nice for me to have another grownup over. Being able to have adult conversation was helpful to me when my husband was deployed."

Henry said she knows more separations and rough patches loom ahead, but today, she's just grateful to have her husband home.

"He's fitting right back in," she said. "I'm enjoying this time with all of us together."

And, she added, "No one has cried in over a week."