Military News

Friday, January 15, 2010

Obama Pledges Continued Commitment to Haiti

By Carol Bowers
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - President Barack Obama today pledged America's continued commitment to the government and people of Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and in recovery efforts. Speaking from the White House, the president singled out the men and women in uniform who "have moved so swiftly" to help Haitians and thanked troops and search and rescue teams.

"I want you to know that you demonstrate the courage and decency of the American people, and we are extraordinarily proud of you," Obama said.

With the arrival of the USS Carl Vinson in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, Obama said, a distribution plan for food, water and medical aid is being developed, and will be coordinated among the United States, the government of Haiti, the United Nations and other international partners and aid organizations.

The Carl Vinson's helicopters "will be critical in delivering assistance in the days to come," he said, noting that crews are going to distribute badly needed water, food and other life-saving supplies to priority areas in Port-au-Prince.

Setting up distribution points for food, water and medical supplies and aid so they can be disbursed in a safe, orderly and effective fashion will take time, Obama said. "But I want the people of Haiti to know that we will do what it takes to save lives and to help them get back on their feet," he added.

Obama said he had talked this morning with Haitian President Rene Preval and expressed his deepest condolences for the people of Haiti.

"Like so many Haitians, President Preval himself has lost his home, and his government is working under extraordinarily difficult conditions," Obama said. "Many communications are down ... and many people remain unaccounted for. The scale of devastation is extraordinary ... and the losses are heartbreaking."

Obama said that during the conversation, he "pledged America's continued commitment to the government and people of Haiti, in the immediate effort to save lives and deliver relief and in the long-term effort to rebuild."

At present, communications are down, the port is closed, roads are damaged and food and water scarce, Obama said. Rescue efforts continue, and Obama praised search and rescue teams from Florida, Virginia and California who have saved American and Haitian lives in recent days.

Meanwhile, resources are continuing to move to Haiti from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia and the Dominican Republic and others, Obama said. The president is scheduled to meet tomorrow with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to discuss ways to enlist the American people in recovery and rebuilding efforts going forward.

"The entire world stands with the government and people of Haiti. For in Haiti's devastation, we all see the common humanity that we share," Obama said.

However, America has a particular responsibility to render aid because the nation "has a unique capacity to reach out broadly and to deliver assistance that can save lives," Obama said.

"That responsibility obviously is magnified when the devastation that's been suffered is so near to us," he added.

Officials Urge Guard, Reserve to Nominate Employers

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - Guard and Reserve members are encouraged to acknowledge their civilian employers' exceptional support by nominating them for a top Defense Department award. Servicemembers and their families have until Jan. 18 to submit their employer for a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. They can nominate their employers online at http://www.freedomaward.mil/.

This award is the government's highest recognition of outstanding employers of the National Guard and Reserve. This year's top 15 employers will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

The award is a "great opportunity for the secretary of defense to, No. 1, put his stamp of approval on the conduct of these great employees, and No. 2, say thank you for what they're doing because it's a direct contribution to national defense," Dennis M. McCarthy, the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said yesterday in an interview with the Pentagon Channel.

"Employers who have supported us since 9/11 have almost exclusively, almost entirely, been wonderful, been solidly supportive," he added.

Past recipients of the award – which have ranged from small businesses such as AeroDyn Wind Tunnel to large companies like Microsoft -- have provided significant support to their military employees, including full salary, continuation of benefits, care packages and family assistance, according to an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve news release. This Defense Department agency manages the award program as part of its mission to recognize exceptional support of military employees.

"We ask employers in this country to make significant sacrifices," McCarthy said, noting they do so without any direct compensation for their support. While employers gain valuable employees in their servicemembers, recognition programs offer a way "to formally say thank you," he added.

The program has received 2,000 nominations since Nov. 2, McCarthy said, but there's always room for one more.

"The only way to get an award is for a member of the National Guard or Reserve, or their families, to nominate an employer; that starts the process," he said. "We really encourage people to do that."

Air Force Evaluates Damaged Haitian Airports

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - The Air Force is working with U.S. Southern Command and the Haitian government to determine what's needed to bring damaged airports up to par to accept more humanitarian relief supplies, officials said today. A massive U.S.-international relief effort is under way to help Haitians stricken by a Jan. 12 earthquake that damaged much of the country's capital of Port-au-Prince.

Ongoing evaluations to determine how to increase traffic at the main airport at Port-au-Prince should be completed sometime today, Air Force Col. Steve Shea, director of the combat support center within the Air Force Office of Logistics Readiness, said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable.

"The Air Force is part of the joint and international support [effort] to help stop the suffering of the Haitians and to try to restore the infrastructure so they can essentially return to normalcy," Shea said.

The major supply route into Haiti right now is at the Port-au-Prince airport, the country's largest, Shea said, and the Air Force already has deployed airport security personnel, air traffic controllers and ground operations technicians to Port-au-Prince. The use of aluminum ground matting, he said, is an option being considered to increase ramp and runway capacity at Port-au-Prince and other Haitian airports.

Additionally, Shea said, a U.S. joint assessment team is evaluating ways to increase the Haitian capital's seaport capacity, which also was damaged by the earthquake.

"Clearly the ability to use a seaport enables both the international community and the Department of Defense to move [a] large tonnage of supplies that will be needed there at a capacity that exceeds what we could do by air lift," he explained.

The Air Force has a team of logistics and transportation experts focused on the Haiti relief mission, said Air Force Col. Sid Banks, chief of logistics plans within the Office of Logistics Readiness. The Air Force, Banks said, can deploy specially trained teams that have the ability to restore operations at the earthquake damaged Port-au-Prince airport.

"We can resume operations on that specific field that may have been crippled as a result of this catastrophe," Banks said. The Air Force, he added, also can supply water-purification units.

From a logistics standpoint, the Air Force's contributions to the Haitian humanitarian relief effort "are huge," Banks said. And it's imperative, he emphasized, that the relief effort for Haiti is a thought-out and organized endeavor.

"From a logistics-plan standpoint," Banks said, "we try to understand our roles and responsibilities, so we can be efficient and effective in getting the right stuff to the right place at the right time."

Ancient Greek Tales of War Evoke Modern Catharses

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - After 2,500 years of retirement, a former general has been hired as a military consultant to help troops cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sophocles, an ancient Greek general and 5th century B.C. dramatist who penned tales of war and the lives of those affected by it, now speaks from the grave, as a modern interpretation of his works is read at military facilities and hospitals before audiences with ties to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Theater of War," a brainchild of director Bryan Doerries that intends to bridge the past and present, represents what military officials describe as one of the more innovative public health efforts to amplify the dialogue about a psychological injury borne by an estimated 20 percent of troops returning from combat.

"I think the military naturally distrust film quite a bit, but I think theater is pure," Doerries, the son of two psychologist parents, said this week in an interview at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here during a performance's intermission. "I think there's something about the felt emotion in the presence of others that changes your relationship to material like this, so that all of a sudden you're not coming at it from your head. You're coming at it from your heart."

The two-part performance staged within an auditorium on the hospital grounds was minimalist fare: it featured only a long table with four microphones and chairs for the performers. Enter stage right, three graduates of the venerable Julliard School, and prominent actor Isiah Whitlock Jr., who is best known for his performance as Sen. Clay Davis on HBO's gritty urban drama "The Wire."

But the matinee of excerpts from Sophocles' "Ajax" and "Philoctetes" was less about the performance itself and more about its effect on audience members able to connect the ancient text to their own lives.

"You, and your various perspectives within this community, are ultimately the translators of this material," Doerries, whose theater production has teamed with the Defense Department to conduct 100 performances over the next year, told the audience. "The performance really begins with what we do onstage, but it ends when the last person in the audience has finished commenting."

Facing the sparse stage was an audience composed of wounded troops, retired servicemembers, families, hospital caregivers and other curious parties interested in the oblique approach to an issue that has been characterized as a "signature wound" of the current U.S. wars.

As the actors portrayed scenes of rage, shame, guilt, isolation and suicide – all inspired or catalyzed by war experience – some in the audience were seen sitting on the edge of their seats, others wiping tears from behind the lenses of their glasses.

One of the more evocative moments came after the dialogue was performed, when a group of panelists – referred to as "the chorus" – occupied the front of the room and drew parallels between then and now, illuminating some of the universal and timeless themes attendant to human conflict documented since the Trojan War.

Among the panelists was self-titled "Army Wife" Sherri Hall, who recalled remaining in "deployment mode" during the brief seven-month period in 2004 between her husband's two tours in Iraq. When her husband, Army Maj. Jeff Hall, returned from Iraq after his second deployment, she said, he possessed what Sophocles described as "the thousand-yard stare."

"I knew he was different when I saw him in the airport hangar," she said.

For years after returning, Hall declined to face the demons he collected during his lengthy deployments. He focused his rage on subordinate soldiers under his command. His family relationships chilled. He loathed himself. Finally, in April 2008, he "hit a wall," and decided to take his own life.

Paraphrasing a line from one of the plays that particularly resonated with him, Hall said, "I decided that if I couldn't live honorably, I would die an honorable death."

When his wife discovered him at 3 a.m., Hall was passed out on the lawn surrounded by empty bottles of wine. He had held a loaded weapon to his head, but had decided against suicide at the last moment.

"It wasn't until I was actually in the backyard about to pull the trigger when I realized that my daughters might see me the way that I had seen people overseas," he recalled. "And I did not want to leave them with that."

With the main dramatis personae and chorus having concluded their roles, an empty microphone stand was placed near the audience. A young woman in civilian clothes approached it.

For the next few minutes, a soldier who declined to be identified, told of her job as a combat nurse at a military hospital in Iraq, the horror she witnessed and the images she can't forget.

"All I saw was death," she said. Identifying with the shame Ajax felt at his inability to cope with his feelings of anguish, the nurse felt isolated from her friends and family. She felt pushed away by an indifferent military system. But gradually, she sought help for her invisible wounds and found solace in connecting with other troops in her recovery program.

"I was the only female amongst all the guys," she said. "And when they cried before me, that made me say to myself, 'We're all one.' We all think the same way, we all have the same problems and the same issues, we all hurt the same way, we all bleed the same way. There's no gender, there's no different military job. There's just a soldier."

Haiti Relief Effort Spans Agencies

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - The Defense Department, other U.S. agencies, and international partners are teaming up today in a major humanitarian relief operation for the people of Haiti, officials said here today. Food, water, shelter and medical support already are pouring into Haiti, Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, told reporters today at a State Department news conference. Haiti was stricken by a Jan. 12 earthquake that damaged much of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital.

"But even as we are focused on this disaster response," Crowley said, "we are also focused on the longer term: how to sustain this relief operation over weeks and months and how ultimately the United States, working with the international community, will help Haiti rebuild."

The United States today is mounting "a major relief operation" in Haiti, Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told reporters. USAID is a State Department-affiliated agency that extends help to nations recovering from disasters.

The Haiti humanitarian aid operation, Shah said, is being conducted in close coordination among USAID, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other U.S.-government organizations including the Defense Department, and civilian agencies.

Today's arrival of the Navy's aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson off the coast of Haiti, Shah said, will "dramatically improve our capabilities to provide critically needed commodities and service support" to nongovernmental organizations and other partners providing aid to the Haitian people.

As stricken Haitians receive basic needs such as food, water, shelter and medical support, Shah said, urban search-and-rescue teams are busy combing Port-au-Prince to rescue people who may be trapped in the rubble.

The humanitarian relief effort also will lay the groundwork for a sustainable redevelopment of Haiti and of Port-au-Prince, with significant financial flows and significant partnerships to improve the development and health outcomes for the Haitian population, Shah said.

Meanwhile, he said, the United States is brainstorming with its partners in Haiti to arrive at ways to expand the reach of humanitarian aid to the affected population.

The Carl Vinson, Shah said, is preparing to deliver 600,000 daily rations to stricken Haitians, and $48 million worth of additional food assistance has been mobilized. The World Food Program and other sources, Shah said, are being mobilized to provide more food.

Also, 100,000 10-liter containers of drinking water have been allocated for Haiti's people, Shah said, with 20,000 of them slated to arrive in Haiti today. Water-purification units also are en route to Haiti, Shah said.

The United States and other countries and agencies involved in the Haitian humanitarian relief effort are confident they'll be able "to send significant commodities, significant materials and significant supplies" to Haiti, Shah said, and are working together to identify the best ways to make sure aid supplies are distributed to Haitians in need.

Releases December Suicide Data

The Army released suicide data today for the month of December. Among active-duty soldiers, there were ten potential suicides: one has been confirmed as suicide, and nine remain under investigation. For November, the Army reported 11 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, three have been confirmed as suicides, and eight remain under investigation. There were 160 reported active-duty Army suicides during 2009. Of these, 114 have been confirmed, and 46 are pending determination of manner of death. During 2008, there were 140 suicides among active-duty soldiers.

During December 2009, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were six potential suicides. For the year 2009, among that same group, there were 78 total suicides. Of those, 49 were confirmed as suicides and 29 are pending determination of the manner of death. For 2008, there were 57 suicides among reserve soldiers who were not on active duty.

"There's no question that 2009 was a painful year for the Army when it came to suicides. We took wide-ranging measures last year to confront the problem, from the service-wide stand-down and chain-teach program, to enhanced suicide prevention programs and guidance for our Army units, and the suicide prevention research through our partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health," said Col. Christopher Philbrick, deputy director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force.

SIn 2010, the Army will continue to update and conduct suicide prevention training and improve procedures to ensure soldiers and families receive the support they need when undergoing key transitions, such as moving to another duty station or separating from the Army.

As part of the ongoing Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention, the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force will complete a thorough analysis and assessment of each of the Army's current suicide prevention programs to determine which are most effectively meeting the needs of the Army community.

"Our assessment will give us the data we need to make decisions about how our programs should be expanded or adjusted, while at the same time maintaining our focus on saving soldiers' lives," Philbrick added.

The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp .

Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf .

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental U.S. is 1-800-342-9647. Their website address is http://www.militaryonesource.com. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.

The DCoE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil .

Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/.

Military Makes Initial Assessments in Haiti, Mullen Says

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

Jan. 15, 2010 - As U.S. military forces work to provide initial relief to Haiti in the wake of a massive Jan. 12 earthquake there, it's difficult to say how long that support will last, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today. U.S. troops are in the first 24 hours of operations there now and are just beginning to assess the overall situation, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said in a Pentagon Channel interview.

Today, those military members are assessing the extent of the damage, the supplies and services needed and where the immediate efforts should focus, Mullen said.

"As we get through that initial stage -- and it's difficult to know how long that'll take, but lets say for the next few days -- I think in that time frame we'll assess what the longer-term impact will be and what additional support needs to be there and sustained over time," he said.

Immediate efforts so far are focusing on search and rescue and saving lives. Providing basic needs, such as food, water, medical care and security are priorities as well, the admiral added.

"The damage is extensive," he said. "Certainly, the early estimates of the lives lost are in the tens of thousands. So at this point, it clearly looks like it will be extensive support from a lot of countries, not the least of which is ours, for a significant length of time."

But what's certain, the chairman said, is that America's armed forces bring much experience and expertise to the table. He noted U.S. military humanitarian efforts in the wake of a Pakistan earthquake in 2008 and in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The U.S. military brings organizational structure, sustainment capabilities and a variety of other assets in terms of security, transportation, coordination and communication. The military also has extensive experience working in partnership with relief agencies and organizations, he added.

"Tragically, we've had considerable amounts of experience responding to natural disasters," he said. "So we have an experience base in our military that's put us in pretty good shape to respond. Most of all, what we bring is a significant part of the relief effort [to] try to make it as good as we possibly can for those who've suffered so much as rapidly as we can."

Despite the Defense Department's experiences, challenges still remain, he said.

Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, maintains the island nation's main sea and air ports. Mullen called the main port there "dysfunctional, and mostly destroyed." Making them manageable again is another main priority to transport supplies in and out of the country.

Commanders on the ground are exploring other ports on the island in the meantime, Mullen said. They're also working closely with the United Nations, which has led a successful security force there over the past several years, he added.

More than 1,000 servicemembers from all of the services and Coast Guard have been tapped so far to support the relief efforts. Ground forces such as Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune, N.C., and paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bragg, N.C., are part of that effort.

Many of those units ordered to Haiti are part of the regular rotation of forces into Iraq and Afghanistan. The 22nd MEU returned only last month from a seven-month tour sailing the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command operational areas.

Mullen stressed that he doesn't believe the U.S. commitment in other parts of the world will be greatly affected by continued support in Haiti, as some might suggest.

"We clearly are involved in two conflicts overseas, and our force is under a lot of pressure," the admiral said. "Clearly, we've seen our Coast Guard, our Navy, as well as our Air Force respond rapidly, and we can sustain that kind of effort for a significant period of time.

"I'm confident, [the Haiti mission] will have an impact" he continued, "but I don't think it will be that severe, even given the other commitments that we have. "And after all, this is our own back yard. They're very close neighbors, and we have a long, committed relationship to this country, and I think it's one that we'll continue to focus on in terms of relief."

Waiting for the 'sadness to hit'


Florida Guardsman anticipates news of family in Haiti
By Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa
Florida National Guard

(1/15/10) -- As the world turned its attention to the devastation caused by an earthquake in Haiti this week, one Florida National Guard Soldier was waiting for word from family members living in the Caribbean nation.

Capt. Ludger Monfort of the 83rd Troop Command was paying extra attention to the media coverage of the Haitian relief efforts and hoping that his aunts, uncle and cousins affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti are alive and safe.

"I almost didn't believe it," the 32-year-old Guardsman said, describing his initial feelings after hearing about the deadly earthquake. "My immediate reaction was to call my mother (in Miami) and find out what was going on." Monfort was born in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and said much of his extended family still lives in Haiti.

For the past few days, Monfort's family in South Florida has been trying to get any information they can about their relatives living in Haiti. Monfort said he has about 30 relatives living throughout Haiti, although he hasn't spoken with many of them in years.

He said they have only received word that his aunt and uncle living in Port-au-Prince survived the 7.0 earthquake and the havoc it caused in the capital.

"They were at their place of business in a bank when the earthquake (struck) so they stayed there because their house had tumbled over," Monfort said. "But they stayed in the bank the entire time and they're there right now. But for anyone else we have no idea what is going on right now."

Monfort is based at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in North Florida, but said he plans to visit his mother in Miami this weekend and try to be a "focal point" of stability for his immediate family in the U.S. "It's shocking, but I try to stay calm whenever things like this happen," Monfort said, speaking rapidly with a slight Haitian accent. "I don't want to overreact, especially when I talk to them...I am highly concerned, but I guess I don't show it as much."

As a young child, Monfort lived with relatives in Haiti, and in the early 1980s he came to the U.S. to be with his parents, who were already working in Miami. He became a U.S. citizen later while serving on active duty in the Army.

Now, as Monfort watches ongoing television coverage of the Haiti's earthquake recovery, he said he finds comfort in seeing the extensive humanitarian relief efforts.

"They are trying, and to me that is the most important thing," he said. "But I know it is very difficult. I'm happy to see the effort as opposed to not seeing any at all."

According to news reports, U.S. assets are already arriving in Haiti, including search-and-rescue teams, medical personnel and relief supplies. After hearing early estimates of death-tolls and seeing the images of the earthquake-ravaged capital on the news, Monfort said he expects at some point to hear bad news about his relatives in Haiti.

"The bottom line for me is I'm really concerned, and I'm waiting for that batch of sadness to hit me once I hear about it," he added.

Should they be needed, the Texas Guard members would work closely with and assist local authorities as needed, Guard officials said.

Guardsmen prepare for floods in South Texas

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

(1/15/10) – About 95 Texas National Guardsmen are standing by in preparation for possible flash flooding from heavy rains that will move through the San Antonio and Austin areas this weekend. According to local news reports, UH-60 Blackhawk crewmembers and other Guard members with cargo trucks capable of fording standing water several feet deep are ready for any contingency.

Central Texas is known by many as Flash Flood Alley and officials said they will be closely monitoring the Brazos, Nueces and Guadalupe Rivers for any flooding.

Should they be needed, the Texas Guard members would work closely with and assist local authorities as needed, Guard officials said.

Ohio ANG pilot describes scene in Haiti

By Spc. Darron Salzer

National Guard Bureau

(1/15/10) – An Ohio Air National Guard C-130 pilot, who flew into the Haiti airport the day after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck, said he was surprised by the condition of the runway. “When we went in, we expected there to be worse conditions at the airport, but by the time we got there, all communication, navigation, and lighting systems were up and running,” said Air Force Lt. Col. William Baulkmon, an aircraft commander from the 179th Airlift Wing, based in Mansfield, Ohio.

Late on Jan. 13, members of the wing flew two C-130 aircraft into Haiti with support personnel and equipment.

“We brought in basic cargo such as communication equipment, and service members from the various services to accompany that equipment,” said Baulkmon. “More than likely we will continue to provide this type of support.”

About 45 members of the 179th have been deployed to Puerto Rico since Dec. 26 and were diverted to earthquake relief efforts. They joined forces with two C-130s from the 156th Airlift Wing of the Puerto Rico National Guard, based at Luis Muniz-Marin International Airport in San Juan.

“We were really surprised at how well the airport was set up as we came in,” said Baulkmon. “We expected the facility itself to be more degraded, but as soon as we landed, they started to off-load us and we were back on our way to Puerto Rico in less than an hour.”

The 179th air crews will be on alert, which means that they will be called upon at anytime in the next few days to fly more of these missions.

“We don’t know what the future’s going to hold, so we’re going to be ready at a moment’s notice,” said Baulkmon. “We were honored to be one of the first crews to go into Haiti to provide the aid that the people desperately need.

“We’ve always been willing and able to volunteer and be on the tip of the spear, and this is just a testament to the preparedness and training of our crews.”

In addition to the 179th, several other Air Guard units have been called up to support the relief effort.

The 167th Airlift Wing, based in Martinsburg, W.V., began hosting a staging area for life-saving supplies bound for Haiti on Jan. 14.

The unit has also alerted two aeromedical evacuation crews for possible deployment to Haiti. These crews assess, treat and transport critically wounded patients.

The 167th wing members responsible for palletizing and loading the supplies on a Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III aircraft had returned only hours earlier from a grueling week-long deployment to Gulfport, Miss.

The C-17s and crews are part of the 172nd Airlift Wing based at Thompson Field in Flowood, Miss.

“When tragedy strikes our Soldiers and Airmen always come to the front, regardless of the situation,” said Army Maj. Gen. William L. Freeman, Jr., the adjutant general of Mississippi. “Our people and our assets will be standing by for any other recovery support that may be required.

The 193rd Special Operations Wing, based in Harrisburg, Pa., deployed three aircraft today, including an EC130J Commando Solo with 12 support personnel. The aircraft is a specially modified four-engine Hercules transport, which conducts information operations, psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts in AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands, according to an Air Force Fact Sheet.

In 1994, Commando Solo was used to transmit messages to the citizens and leaders of Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. President jean-Bertrand Aristide was featured in these broadcasts, which contributed to the orderly transition from military rule to democracy, according to the fact sheet.

Air Guard civil engineers from Kansas and New York are currently deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they are assessing personnel and equipment for providing disaster relief response from the U.S. naval base.

As part of their annual two-week training requirement, the engineers were originally scheduled to assist with several base construction projects. The earthquake changed all that.

“This is what we do and it is an honor to be called upon to support this,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the adjutant general of the Kansas National Guard. “Our Guardsmen are prepared to do whatever is necessary to help the victims in Haiti.”

Finally, officials from the Kentucky and Texas National Guard said they are standing by to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

"We have offered our airlift, search-and-rescue, and emergency medical capabilities and resources, but we have not received any official tasking to provide aid at this time," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Mike Richie, deputy adjutant general for Kentucky. "Meanwhile, we will continue to assess our resources and prepare for the call to duty."

“The crisis in Haiti is a tragedy of epic proportions,” said Army Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga, the adjutant general of Texas. “It is the right and moral thing to provide whatever assistance is necessary to prevent further loss of life.”

USNS Comfort Readies to Leave for Haiti

By Donna Miles

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - Early last spring, Navy Capt. James Ware was preparing his crew aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort for a humanitarian assistance mission in Haiti, the first stop during a four-month swing through the region. Today, Ware is overseeing final preparations to return to Haiti for a more pressing mission: providing life-saving medical care to victims of a devastating earthquake that killed tens of thousands and left untold thousands more injured.

Comfort will leave its home port here early tomorrow and is expected to arrive in Haiti by Jan. 21, delivering a full spectrum of medical and surgical services aboard one of the country's largest trauma facilities.

"This is a moment when we feel we can have a huge impact," along with other military medical providers already on the ground, as well as those from nongovernmental organizations and the international community, Ware said. "Our hope is to work with those individuals, side by side, to truly help the people of Haiti."

USNS Comfort will deliver immense capability to the mission. The hulking hospital ship -- three football fields long and one wide – has 250 hospital beds and a 550-person medical team that includes trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, eye surgeons and obstetricians and gynecologists.

The team also will include medical professionals from the Navy, Army, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service, as well as nongovernmental organizations.

Ware said he expects his staff to initially see about 500 patients a day when it arrives in Haiti, working up to 750 or more, and to conduct 20 to 25 surgical procedures a day.

But his big focus today was on getting the ship manned, equipped and provisioned for the mission ahead. A massive logistical effort was under way to load the food, water and medical supplies the crew -- most from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., but also from its sister hospitals in Portsmouth, Va., and San Diego, Calif. -- will need.

Two cranes worked simultaneously, hoisting palletized loads of bottled water, packaged meals and other supplies to Comfort's upper decks. Meanwhile, a long line of tractor trailers that began arriving last night idled nearby, waiting to offload their supplies. Engine roars mingled with the ever-present "beep-beep-beep" of forklifts scurrying in almost every direction alongside the vessel.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Lamar McDavis, based at the National Naval Medical Center, kept his checklist handy to keep track of the loading process. "It's going to be a long day here," he said, noting that he expects to load as many as 800 pallets by the day's end, compressing into just one day what typically would take about three.

"We're doing this fast, but it can't be fast enough," McDavis said. "People are suffering, and the quicker we get help to them, the better off they will be."

USNS Comfort initially will carry enough food and water to sustain its crew – 550 medical specialists and 250 mariners and staff to provide security, communications and other shipboard support – and the patients who will fill its 250 hospital beds for up to 60 days, Ware said.

In addition, the ship has enough medical supplies aboard to support a 60-day combat casualty care mission, he said.

Ware said he's confident he'll have everything he needs on board to proceed directly to Haiti without having to stop anywhere else en route to pick up additional crew or supplies.

"We have pushed forward on this end to make sure we have the right personnel," he said. "We have looked all the way down to the very lowest seaman on board to determine whether they have the exact skills sets we need – from an operating technician to a surgeon to a blood-bank specialist.

"And we have identified 99 percent of those individuals," he continued. "So [the] plan is to leave tomorrow, and we will be moving as quickly as possible to get to Port-au-Prince Harbor."

As much as 70 percent of the crew already has experience aboard Comfort, or its sister ship USNS Mercy in San Diego, Ware said. In addition to onboard training sessions conducted every 12 weeks, many participated in Continuing Promise 2009, Comfort's most recent humanitarian assistance mission through Latin America and the Caribbean.

During that mission, USNS Comfort treated almost 100,000 patients, including tens of thousands in Haiti alone.

The visit provided important lessons to the Comfort crew it will apply during its disaster response mission, he said, but also fostered relationships that will help in its upcoming mission.

"They are waiting for us to come," Ware said, citing numerous phone calls and e-mails he has received from people he's already worked with in Haiti. "And I think those [relationships] will really pay off – not for us, but for the people of Haiti."

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Olivero, department head for Comfort's operating room, is preparing for a mission he expects to be heavy in head injuries, crushing injuries, amputations and other trauma cases. His crew will exercise various trauma scenarios once it's all onboard and under way, to be sure it's ready to hit the ground running when it arrives.

Olivero remembers the gratification of Continuing Promise 2009, when "a busy day for us was a good day, because we were helping many people."

He expects to be even busier during this mission, too, but acknowledged the circumstances will be a lot tougher to deal with. "It is going to be good to help people, but the reason you are busy is not what you want it to be," he said.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lesley Prasad, one of just 50 permanently assigned crewmembers aboard Comfort, said it feels great seeing the hospital ship provide such a desperately needed service to relieve suffering in Haiti. It's kept him and his fellow crewmembers buzzing nonstop for the past four days "on full steam" to prepare so they're ready to hit the ground running.

"I feel really good about this," he said, pausing as he ordered last-minute medical supplies for the mission. "We are the best qualified crew medically, [and we're] ready to help these people in Haiti," he said. "To be able to have such a vital role in the effort, it's awesome."

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 15, 2010

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

AM General, LLC, Mishawaka, Ind., is being awarded a maximum $93,400,918 firm-fixed-price, sole-source, requirements-type contract in support of HMMWV industrial base requirements. Other locations of performance are in Pennsylvania and Texas. Using service is Army. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is for one base year and four possible one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is January 2012. The Defense Supply Center Columbus, Columbus, Ohio, is the contracting activity (SPM7LX-09-D-9001).

The Merchants Co., Hattiesburg, Miss., is being awarded a maximum $30,420,000 firm-fixed-price, prime vendor contract for full line food distribution. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, federal civilian agencies and Coast Guard. The original proposal was Web solicited with three responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the first 18-month option period. The date of performance completion is July 17, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM300-08-D-3242).

NAVY

Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., is being awarded a $75,000,000 maximum value, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for multimedia environmental compliance engineering support for Navy and other Department of Defense installations within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic area of responsibility, primarily including the Northeast, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic continental United States and some overseas locations. The work to be performed provides for preparation of studies, plans, specifications, design, reports, cost estimates and all associated engineering services in support of the various environmental compliance programs, including: Clean Air Act compliance; Safe Drinking Water Act compliance; stormwater pollution prevention plans and Clean Water Act compliance studies; wastewater plans and compliance studies; laboratory services; petroleum storage tank; oil spill preparedness and planning; waste management; environmental condition of property programs; pesticide management; radon and related products; and sustainability services. The maximum dollar value includes the base period and four option years. Work will be performed predominately in the following states: Virginia; West Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Alabama; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; and Vermont, as well as locations outside the contiguous United States such as Africa, Europe, Southwest Asia, Bahrain, Puerto Rico and Guantanamo Bay. Also included to a lesser extent are Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Louisiana, as needed. The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of January 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with four proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N62470-10-D-3000).

WTAK-2, Inc., Mobile, Ala., is being awarded $28,000,000 to exercise an option under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00033-82-C-1021) for the purchase of maritime prepositioning ship MV PFC Eugene A. Obregon. WTAK-2, which held Military Sealift Command's (MSC) previous long-term charter for Obregon, is executing the sale on behalf of Bell Atlantic Tricon Leasing. The ship's new name will be USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon. The ship has been under long-term charter to MSC since 1985. The ship will remain crewed by about 26 U.S. merchant mariners employed by Waterman Steamship Corp., Mobile, Ala. Obregon is one of 15 maritime prepositioning ships that strategically place Marine Corps equipment and supplies at sea around the world, making the cargo readily available to warfighters who are flown into a theater of operations. The ship will transfer to U.S. government ownership on Jan. 15, 2010, and will continue to operate worldwide. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

American Overseas Marine, Quincy, Mass., is being awarded a $27,196,706 firm-fixed-price contract for the operation and maintenance of seven government-owned Bob Hope-class large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off ships, also called LMSRs. These civilian-crewed ships with their more than 380,000 square feet of cargo-carrying capacity, reinforced decks, shipboard cranes, interior ramps, slewing stern ramp and a movable ramp that services two side ports are ideal for fast loading and off-loading of out-sized military equipment, including tanks, trucks, Humvees and other rolling stock. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $238,165,698. The contract includes four one-year option periods and five six-month award term periods. For six of the seven LMSRs, work will be performed at East Coast, Gulf Coast and West Coast ports where the ships will be primarily maintained in reduced operating status. When needed, these six ships may be activated and fully crewed to transport Department of Defense equipment in support of deployed U.S. military forces worldwide. For the seventh LMSR, work will be performed at sea in support of the Marine Corps' afloat prepositioning mission. The contract is expected to be completed in February 2011, if all option periods are exercised, completion date will be September 2017. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online and the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with more than 50 proposals solicited and seven offers received. The Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00033-10-C-5300).

Universal Propulsion Co., Fairfield, Calif., is being awarded a $16,015,378 firm-fixed-price, definite-delivery/definite-quantity contract for the manufacture of digital recovery sequencer kits, power modules and electronic modules in support of the F-15, F-16 F-17 and F-117 aircraft. Work will be performed in Fairfield, Calif., and work is expected to be completed by July 2011. Contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This announcement includes foreign military sales to the governments of Taiwan (11 percent); the Netherlands (10 percent); Saudi Arabia (4 percent); Singapore (3 percent); Korea (3 percent); Thailand (2 percent); Norway (2 percent); Egypt (2 percent); Israel (1 percent); Denmark (1 percent); Oman (1 percent); and Pakistan, Jordan, Italy, Poland, Chile and United Arab Emirates (less than one percent). This contract was not competitively awarded. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity (N00104-10-C-K026).

SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., is being awarded an $8,957,506 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for the research and development for low frequency, high power satellite calibration service and software development support. This research and development covers the effort required to support the development of various ground support systems which provide support to space and airborne systems. Work will be performance in State College, Pa. (81 percent) and Menlo Park, Calif. (19 percent), and work is expected to be completed January 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $22,000 will expire at end of current fiscal year. The contract was procured under Request for Proposal Number N000173-09-R-RS02 on the basis of other than full and open competition in accordance with FAR 6.302-1 and one offer was received. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N000173-10-C-6005).

AIR FORCE

Boeing Co., Seal Beach, Calif., was awarded a $30,879,365 contract which will exercise the option for CY2010 maintenance and operations services to provide the requirements for the development and delivery of the logistics infrastructure for the Space Based Space Surveillance Block 10 system. At this time, $7,756,737 has been obligated. SMC/SYSW, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8819-08-C-0006, P00014).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded an $8,241,332 contract which will provide data rates communications upgrade Phase II to the Aircraft Structural Integrity Program. At this time, $2,000,000 has been obligated. 303 AESG/SYK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (F33657-01-C-4600).

Unison Engine Components, Manchester, Conn., was awarded an $8,246,798 contract which will provide 455 synchronization rings to support the F100_PW-200/20/220E engines. 448 SCMG/PKBCB Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8121-10-C-C-0002).

Defense Department to Provide Blood Supplies to Haiti

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

Jan. 15, 2010 - The Defense Department has ordered delivery of an initial supply of 500 units of frozen red blood cells to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a military official said today. With the number of wounded Haitians climbing well into the thousands, blood and medical support has become another priority in the relief efforts, Army Col. (Dr.) Frank Rentas, director of the armed forces blood program, said in a Pentagon Channel interview.

The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship home-ported in Baltimore, as well as other Navy vessels are heading to Haiti throughout the weekend, Rentas said. As of 3 p.m. EST today, those units of blood were being transferred to the Comfort from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

"We're still in contact [with the U.S. military in Haiti] and are going to be checking throughout the weekend to see if there's an additional support necessary for the mission," Rentas said. "We're on stand by to find out whether what they have is enough blood supplies, or if they're going to need more."

The Red Cross estimates that 50,000 Haitians were killed in the magnitude 7 earthquake. Thousands of walking wounded throughout the island reportedly need medical treatment.

Medical assistance, food, water and search and rescue are the military's main concerns in the initial response there, Pentagon officials said.

U.S. military support includes ground forces of Marines and soldiers focused on humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue operations. Coast Guard and Navy vessels are operating off the Haitian coast. More than 1,000 U.S. servicemembers are providing relief efforts there, with more on the way.

West Virginia Air Guard Operates Staging Area

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein

Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - Airmen with the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing are working around the clock here in an effort to get critical life-saving supplies to Haiti's earthquake victims. The air base was transformed yesterday into a staging area for more than 332,000 pounds of supplies bound for the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of pounds more are expected to be palletized at the air base for shipment to Haiti in the coming days. A C-17 Globemaster III from the Mississippi Air National Guard made the first flight out of the Martinsburg air base last night.

Sixteen tractor-trailers and eight box trucks ordered by the Department of Health and Human Services brought the critical cargo to the 167th Airlift Wing to be loaded onto aircraft bound for Haiti's capital. The trucks were loaded with medical supplies and equipment, generators, air-conditioning units, tents, food and water.

Air Force Col. Roger L. Nye, 167th Airlift Wing commander, said the C-5 Galaxy aircraft stationed at the base in Martinsburg aren't being used to fly the supplies and equipment to Haiti due to the transport jet's massive size. "A C-5 would shut down the airfield at Port-au-Prince," he said.

Jerry Hill, a Health and Human Services logistics manager, has a 180,000-square foot warehouse that houses emergency medical supplies. "When disasters happen, [the department] is responsible for getting critical assets to the medical professionals in the field," he said.

When it came to finding a location to stage operations for the massive humanitarian airlift, Hill didn't have to look far. As the deployment officer for the 167th Airlift Wing's aeromedical evacuation squadron, Hillknows the wing's efficient reputation and capabilities.

"Within 12 hours, we had trucks on site here," he said. "I expected great support from the unit, and that is exactly what we got. When the flag goes up, these guys really shine."

Hill estimated that more than a million pounds of supplies will be flown to Haiti from the base.

"The base was chosen to support this mission due to the ideal proximity to the national capital region," said Air Force Maj. Melissa Shade, 167th Airlift Wing chief of staff. "Most recently, emergency responders were staged at Martinsburg to support the 2009 presidential inauguration. Since the base began the transformation to house C-5s in 2002, the spacious hangars offer ideal conditions for these types of operations."

Nye lauded the efforts of his unit's airmen as they worked in tandem to ensure that critical supplies were loaded onto aircraft as quickly as possible for the desperate earthquake victims in Haiti.

The colonel said airmen from the unit eventually may be tasked to support the humanitarian efforts downrange as well. The 167th Airlift Wing has alerted two aeromedical evacuation crews for possible deployment to Haiti. These crews will assess, treat and transport critically wounded patients.

About 700 airmen currently are involved with relief effort operations at the Martinsburg air base.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Crowell, a cargo specialist with the wing's Logistics readiness squadron, said he is proud to serve on his first humanitarian mission by helping to palletize supplies for aircraft waiting on the base's runway.

"'Mountaineer Pride Worldwide' is our motto," he said of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Crowell said his heart goes out to the earthquake victims. "I know they didn't have that much to begin with," he said. "We'll try to do what we can to help. It will be worth it in the end."

Many 167th Airlift Wing members responsible for palletizing and loading the supplies on the Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 aircraft had just returned from a week-long deployment to Gulfport, Miss. More than 400 of the base's airmen were in Mississippi to complete an operational

readiness exercise, which is a test of a unit's ability to prepare its members for overseas deployments.

Air Force Capt. Bill Brohard, officer in charge of the wing's small air terminal, said the real-world humanitarian mission allows airmen to test their mettle.

"We're hoping to put our skills to good use," he said.

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein serves with the West Virginia National Guard. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Cadle, state public affairs officer for the West Virginia National Guard, contributed to this story.)

Air Force Photographs Damage to Help Relief Effort

By Judith Snyderman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - A high-tech, unmanned Air Force aircraft is flying over Haiti to collect imagery of vital infrastructure in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that struck the island. The RQ-4 Global Hawk's photos are providing critical assessment data for earthquake recovery efforts and will inform the U.S. military where they can position assets, Air Force Col. Bradley G. Butz told reporters during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable today. Butz is vice commander of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

The Global Hawk flew 14 hours yesterday and will log another 16 hours today, providing about 2,000 images of some 1,000 targets, Butz said. "I think we have pretty good coverage of the entire situation and across the spectrum of capabilities," he added.

The priority is to capture the condition of key infrastructure such as airstrips, bridges and ports throughout the country, where relief agencies may be able to gain entrance to reach injured and trapped people. The clarity of the high-altitude images is good enough, Butz said, "to determine a go [or] no-go," for the use of airport facilities.

Analysts, including some working for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, will compare the Global Hawk photos with reference images taken in June to discern what damage was caused by the earthquake, Butz said. The images will be available to U.S. Southern Command officials coordinating the military effort in Haiti.

"The objective is massive distribution to everyone supplying relief," he said.

The Global Hawk had been slated to go to Afghanistan, Butz said, but was diverted by a Southcom request for help in Haiti. "To my knowledge, this is first time for the use of this aircraft for disaster relief in the Caribbean," the colonel said.

The Global Hawk was flown from its home station at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. It refueled at the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., before arriving in Haiti.

(Judith Snyderman is assigned to Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Brigade Forum Addresses Women's Issues



By Army Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - Female soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team attended a woman's town hall meeting here Jan. 8 to address issues affecting them. The meeting supported the unit's female soldier deployment readiness luncheon held before the brigade deployed in October. During the event here, the soldiers were introduced to leaders of health and welfare services such as behavioral health and stress management and heard about the unit victim advocate program.

"One of the purposes of this meeting today is to inform you of what agencies to go to when you have a problem and where to find those agencies," explained Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson, the brigade's command sergeant major.

Pearson opened the floor for questions after speaking to the soldiers on the brigade's sexual harassment and assault policy. "I want you hear these words come straight from my mouth," he said. "Sexual harassment and sexual assault will not be tolerated in this brigade. Action will be taken."

For many of the soldiers, the meeting was a chance to associate faces with names, not only of the leaders but also of their female battle buddies. "No one understands female soldiers like other female soldiers," said Army Capt. Joan Hollein, commander of the brigade's Headquarters Troop.

Army Spc. Michelle Cook, Headquarters Company, 203rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, explained what it means to be a woman in the military.

"Sometimes we have to go out of our way to get respected," she said. "We have to prove ourselves, where sometimes male soldiers are just expected to do well."

Although many deemed the meeting a success, concerns surfaced among some audience members. "I feel there were some concerns that people weren't saying," said Army Spc. Brentney Williams of Headquarters Company, 203rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "I think some people just weren't comfortable. I think there needs to be a way to get people to talk more. It's important."

Brigade officials said they'll continue holding women's town hall meetings during the unit's deployment.

(Army Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick serves in the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

Marines Embark on Haiti Response Mission

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

Jan. 15, 2010 - About 2,000 North Carolina-based Marines are making final preparations today to embark to earthquake-ravaged Haiti tomorrow morning to provide disaster-relief efforts. The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit will bring a multi-mission capability to Haiti to provide disaster relief and, if necessary, security assistance, a spokesman for the unit said during a telephone news conference today from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Marines expect to provide direct support for the ongoing relief efforts there, although they haven't been given a specific mission yet. But they're well prepared for any number of challenges, Marine Corps Capt. Clark Carpenter said.

"We foresee this mission as however our assets can best be applied to the situation," Carpenter said. "We will be able to support any number of things that will be asked of us. I think the key is to get down there and figure out how our assets are going to best support the mission."

Carpenter said the 22nd MEU is well suited for this type of operation because of its amphibious capability -- supplies, aid, equipment and manpower can be moved by sea and air. And while the infrastructure in Haiti already is under stress, the Marines can base their operations from the sea, getting their food, water and shelter from ships rather than tapping into the limited supplies ashore, he added.

"We don't know if we're going to sea-base or not, [but it] reduces the strain on an already strained infrastructure," he explained. "We have a great flexibility from those ships. We can sea-base, push people to shore and run operations."

The force is deploying aboard three Navy ships – USS Bataan, USS Carter Hall and USS Fort McHenry – with CH-35 Chinook and UH-1 Huey helicopters. They're leaving their tanks and artillery equipment at home for this deployment, but will bring additional trucks and earth-moving equipment, the captain said.

Also, the 22nd MEU will deploy with additional French- and Creole-speaking interpreters, public affairs specialists and possibly more medical personnel and engineers from other Marine units. Carpenter praised the support the 22nd MEU has been given from fellow Marine units at Camp Lejeune and throughout the Corps.

"The great thing about his whole process is that all the Marines here have bent over backwards to make sure we get what we need," he said. "It's been fast-paced organizing and getting ready to get on the ships, but it's been made a lot simpler by the singular focus of Marines on this base."

The Marines expect to depart by ship tomorrow and arrive in three to four days. The length of their deployment is uncertain for now, but the Marines are preparing to be gone for at least 30 days, he said.

"We're looking at a minimum of 30 days, but we're prepared to support the mission as long as we're asked to be down there," he added.

Despite returning in December from a seven-month deployment sailing through the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command areas, morale among the deploying Marines and their families is high, Carpenter said. Many of the Marines were on post-deployment leave when they were recalled, he noted, but they're eager to help in relieving the Haitian people's suffering.

"We did just get back a month ago, but the morale is off the charts here," he said. "We are absolutely ready to go. The images we've been seeing on the news, it's catastrophic, and it's very sad.

"Marines are definitely warriors first, and that is what the world knows the Marines for," he continued, "[but] we're equally as compassionate when we need to be, and this is a role that we'd like to show -- that compassionate warrior, reaching out with a helping hand for those who need it. We are very excited about this."

Army Major Charged with Smuggling Cash from Iraq and Making False Statements

U.S. Army Major Charles E. Sublett, 46, of Huntsville, Ala., was arrested today on charges of bulk cash smuggling and making false statements to a federal agency, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.

Major Sublett was charged in an indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 5, 2010, and unsealed today following his arrest in Huntsville. According to the indictment, Major Sublett smuggled more than $100,000 in currency, concealed in a shipping package, into the United States from Iraq in January 2005. Major Sublett also allegedly failed to declare that he imported the money.

As alleged in the indictment, from August 2004 through February 2005, Major Sublett was deployed to Balad Regional Contracting Center on Logistical Support Area (LSA) Anaconda in Iraq. LSA Anaconda is a U.S. military installation that was established in approximately 2003 to support U.S. military operations in Iraq. According to the indictment, Major Sublett served as a contracting officer while deployed to LSA Anaconda. As a contracting officer, Major Sublett was responsible for, among other things, evaluating and supervising contracts with companies that provide goods and services to the U.S. Army.

According to the indictment, on approximately Jan. 11, 2005, Major Sublett sent a package from Balad, Iraq, to Killeen, Texas, which was seized by Customs and Border Protection officers in Memphis. The international air waybill for the package said it contained books, papers, a jewelry box, and clothes with a total declared customs value of $140 but did not disclose the currency allegedly also contained in the package. According to the indictment, the package also contained $107,900 in U.S. currency and 17,120,000 in Iraqi dinar. Major Sublett allegedly failed to file a Currency or Monetary Instruments Transaction Report (CMIR) as required by federal law when transporting currency in amounts of more than $10,000 into or out of the United States.

The maximum penalty for each of the two charges contained in the indictment—bulk cash smuggling and false statements to a government agency—is five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, to be followed by a term of up to three years of supervised release.

The indictment also contains a criminal forfeiture allegation. Specifically, if convicted of the bulk cash smuggling charge, Sublett would be ordered to forfeit the $107,900 and 17,120,000 Iraqi dinar he is alleged to have concealed in the package.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Daniel A. Petalas and Justin V. Shur of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. This case is being investigated by Army Criminal Investigation Command; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the FBI; Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

TRICARE University Provides Online Benefit Education

January 15, 2010 - If you’re new to the military and eager to learn about your health care benefits or an old hand who wants to know the latest changes, TRICARE University is the place to go. TRICARE University offers free online courses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at www.tricare.mil/tricareu.

“The courses can be taken anytime and you can learn at your own pace,” said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity. “It’s the simplest way to learn about your TRICARE benefit.”

Three different online courses are available. Of these, the TRICARE Public Course provides the quickest and easiest way to get a general overview and basic knowledge of TRICARE programs. There is no registration for this course and it’s accessible to anyone who wants to know more about TRICARE.

The TRICARE Fundamentals Course is much more in-depth as it is primarily designed for TRICARE benefit counselors and family support staff who provide counseling and assistance to TRICARE beneficiaries. Topics covered include TRICARE eligibility, TRICARE programs and plans and on-line resources. Registration is needed to take the course and “graduates” who pass the test at the end of the course receive a certificate from TRICARE.

Members of the Selected Reserve who want to know more about TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) can hone their understanding through a TRICARE University course devoted to this premium-based health care plan. Newly activated Guard and Reserve members might also find the TRICARE public course helpful as it provides a convenient way to learn about their health care benefits while on active duty.

To take one of the offered courses, go to www.tricare.mil/tricareu and click “online training” for a list of options. The TRICARE Public Course is also available through a separate tab on the TRICAREU page

Another change in arrival time for some Wisconsin Guard Soldiers

January 14, 2010 - A flight scheduled to arrive Friday (Jan.15) has been delayed and will now arrive in Wisconsin Saturday with Soldiers mostly from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, Green Bay; Company B (Support Maintenance), 257th Brigade Support Battalion, Kenosha; and some members of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry, Madison and Troop C, Reedsburg.

The entire brigade is returning to Wisconsin in stages throughout January. All are scheduled to return to Volk Field where they will be met by senior National Guard officials, a military band and family members - homecomings are not open to the general public. Following an initial reunion with their families and a brief official "welcome home" ceremony, Soldiers will travel to nearby Fort McCoy to begin about five days of demobilization processing before being released from active duty.

During training and while in Iraq, the brigade was organized into 27 company-sized units. Rather than operating as a brigade, the 32nd was tasked with a variety of missions throughout Iraq. These missions included forward operating base administration, base defense, area security, quick reaction forces, freedom of movement security support, detainee guard force operations at theater internment facilities, closing the largest internment facility in Iraq, transferring detainees, operating an academy to train Iraqi corrections officers, inspecting detention facilities, securing and administering the International Zone in Baghdad, and turning over U.S.-controlled properties to the government of Iraq. The brigade's Soldiers operated around the clock, most of them working at least 12 hours a day - day after day, week after week, for eight full months in Iraq.

Having accomplished their mission, each company began transferring responsibilities to units from the Texas National Guard's 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the end of December and will continue to do so as they prepare to return to Wisconsin in January. ( (For a detailed account of the 32nd Brigade's deployment see: http://dma.wi.gov/deployment )

Returning Soldiers deployed with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Thursday and early Friday may come from units in the following Wisconsin communities:

2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry
Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry - Green Bay
257th Brigade Support Battalion
Company B (Support Maintenance), 257th Brigade Support Battalion - Kenosha
1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition)
Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry - Madison
Troop C, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry - Reedsburg

USS Carl Vinson Arrives in Haiti

By Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived off the coast of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, today to begin humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. "Our initial focus is to concentrate on saving lives while providing first-responder support to the people of Haiti," said Navy Rear Adm. Ted N. Branch, commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and of the sea-based portion of the Navy's humanitarian-support mission in the earthquake-stricken nation. "Our assistance here reflects our nation's compassion and commitment to those impacted by this tragedy."

The carrier arrived with a robust airlift capability, picking up extra helicopters while in transit that will prove essential during the mission.

"When tasked to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti, we immediately headed to Mayport, Fla., at more than 30 knots and loaded 19 helicopters, personnel and support equipment from five different East Coast Navy squadrons in less than eight hours," said Navy Capt. Bruce H. Lindsey, Carl Vinson commanding officer. "There is no other platform that can do all of that so quickly."

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Thompson serves in the USS Carl Vinson public affairs office.)

Stricken Haitians Need Basic Supplies, General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - A massive U.S.-international relief effort is under way to help Haitians stricken by a Jan. 12 earthquake that damaged much of the country's capital of Port-Au-Prince. More than 300 U.S. soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Haiti overnight, and the Navy's aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is now off-shore, dispatching aircraft to aid in relief efforts, Army Lt. Gen. P.K. "Ken" Keen told ABC News reporter Robin Roberts today at Haiti's main airport.

"We've been here doing everything we can. ... Our efforts have been pushed forward as fast as we can get it here," said Keen, deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command based at Miami, who is heading the joint U.S. military task force charged with the Haitian earthquake relief effort.

The top priorities now, Keen said, are providing health care and relief supplies to Haitians in need.

"There's an immense need for medical relief, and we're anticipating, of course, need for basic items such as food," Keen said. "Water, particularly, is in need."

U.S. and international assets, the general said, also are conducting missions to locate and rescue survivors from the rubble.

The Haitians, Keen said, "are in need of everything."

"Much more" U.S. support will be en route to Haiti in coming days, Keen said. The Navy's USNS Comfort hospital ship is being readied to deploy to Haiti to provide medical care. The priority, Keen said, is getting relief aid to Haiti "to mitigate the suffering that the Haitian people are experiencing right now."

Meanwhile, the Haitian government is firmly in control of its affairs as international aid arrives, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten told NBC "Today" show host Meredith Vieira today. The Haitian government "is in charge," Merten emphasized, noting it is holding regular meetings with U.S. and international aid agencies to coordinate relief activities.

Viera asked Merten if Haiti's earthquake-damaged infrastructure, including Port-Au-Prince's airport and seaport, would hinder relief efforts.

There "definitely are" logistical challenges, Merten acknowledged. However, he added, the USS Carl Vinson boasts significant helicopter lift capabilities that can be employed to transport needed supplies to key areas in and around Port-Au-Prince.

Concurrently, search-and-rescue teams "have been out day and night," Merten said, looking to rescue and aid people.

Gates, Mullen Cite Aid Streaming into Haiti

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - All Defense Department resources in the Western Hemisphere are available for assisting Haiti, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.

Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed reporters on the situation in Haiti.

Some 1,000 U.S. servicemembers are on the ground in Haiti today, with more on the way. "The key is to get the food and the water in there as quickly as possible so that people don't – in their desperation – turn to violence or lead to the security situation deteriorating," the secretary said. "But at this point, other than some scavenging and minor looting, our understanding is the security situation is pretty good."

This is a whole-of-government effort by the United States and also is an international effort, Gates said. U.S. soldiers and Marines will aid the 7,000-member United Nations force and about 2,000 police In providing security.

"We are clearly in a position to do more than others, partly by our proximity and partly by our capabilities," Gates said. The key is coordinating the entire effort, he told reporters, and he said the coordination among the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Homeland Security Department, the Coast Guard and the Defense Department "has proceeded very well."

By the end of the weekend, 9,000 to 10,000 American servicemembers will in Haiti or afloat offshore. Red Cross officials said the death toll from Jan. 12's magnitude 7 earthquake could reach 50,000.

"Shortly after the devastating earthquake, [the Defense Department] mobilized to save lives and ease the suffering of the victims," Gates said.

Army and naval forces, disaster-response teams, portable hospitals, K-9 search-and-rescue teams and relief and medical supplies are streaming in from many nations, Mullen said.

"In this situation, the military is best able to supply security, search-and-rescue capabilities, potable water and medical facilities," the chairman said. The Navy's USS Higgins has joined Coast Guard cutters off Haiti to provide support.

"This morning, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived outfitted with 19 helicopters, 51 hospital beds, three operating rooms, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day production capability and a significant capacity to deliver disaster-relief supplies," Mullen said. "A company from the 82nd Airborne Division is on the ground to provide security and also distribution to meet those needs." The rest of the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team will arrive over the weekend.

The USS Normandy and the USS Underwood also will arrive shortly, followed by the USS Bataan, USS Fort McHenry and USS Carter Hall carrying the Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort -- with hundreds of medical personnel, medical capabilities and medical supplies -- will arrive off the coast by the end of next week, Mullen said.

These ships, aircraft and troops "also deliver hope, although it seems that supplies and security cannot come quickly enough," the chairman said.

Gates said he's not worried that the aid effort will be seen as a threat or as a U.S. power grab. "Given the role that we will have in delivering food, water and medical help to people, my guess is the reaction will be one of relief at seeing Americans delivering this kind of help," he said.

The United States also is only one of many countries sending aid and personnel to Haiti. Brazil, for example, has many personnel in Haiti and is sending a large amount of aid, he noted.

Officer Leaves Lasting Impression

By Marine Corps 1st Lt. Steven Baldino
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 15, 2010 - Three years ago, Marine Corps Maj. Chris Messineo was teaching economic geography at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The course covered the effects of globalization, shifting political boundaries and containerized shipping on national and global economies. Today, as Messineo works as the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group logistics and supply officer here, he works to retrograde millions of dollars' worth of Marine Corps equipment from Iraq. And he still extols the virtues of the 20-foot shipping container, which the former teacher will inform any inquiring Marine was invented by Malcom McLean in 1965.

In September, Messineo discovered that the 20-foot shipping container was not the only thing from his economic geography class that would follow him to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marine Corps 1st Lts. Sean Knapp and Robert Caldwell attended Messineo's class as midshipmen and now are deployed here.

Knapp and Caldwell are route-clearance platoon commanders with Company B, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion. At the Naval Academy, both were varsity athletes and leaders among their peers. Caldwell was the defensive captain of the Navy football team his senior year, while Knapp, a varsity wrestler, held a number of key billets during various summer training events.

Though Knapp and Caldwell have advanced and changed since they graduated from the Naval Academy, they still remember their time in Messineo's class and the example he set for them as a Marine officer. Both said they have the utmost respect for their former teacher, and Knapp even credited Messineo for his success. "I would not be a commissioned officer if it hadn't been for Major Messineo," he said.

"He was a great economics instructor, but he spent time mentoring future Marine lieutenants and discussing current events that Marines were involved in back then," recalled Caldwell, who attended Messineo's economic geography class in 2006, during some of the most vicious fighting in Iraq's Anbar province.

When Messineo -- also a Naval Academy graduate -- is not busy tracking generators being shipped to Afghanistan or coordinating support for one of the countless units for which his unit is responsible, he still finds time to check up on his former students.

"How are my two knuckleheads?" he asks with a laugh. Once the jokes die down, though, Messineo always leaves his students with kernels of wisdom: "Seek advice when you need it, and don't be afraid to make decisions."

Messineo has left his mark on Knapp and Caldwell and continues to make a difference in the Marines' lives. He began by teaching them an economics class, and now takes time to stop and ask them about their day.

(Marine Corps 1st Lt. Steven Baldino serves with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.)