Tuesday, January 19, 2010

U.S. To Open Additional Runway in Haiti, General Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - As some 200 daily flights transit through the congested and sole functioning Haitian airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. military is looking to open a second runway in the city of Jacmel within a day. The airfield will receive C-130 deliveries that initially will support Canadian humanitarian assistance efforts centered in the southern city about 30 miles southeast of the Haitian capital, a military official said.

"The first [additional] runway in Haiti proper will go into operation in the vicinity of Jacmel within the next 24 hours," Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the second in command of U.S. operations in Haiti, told Pentagon reporters today.

Reports of bottlenecking at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince have emerged as the hub's capacity has grown from an average of 13 commercial aircraft arrivals daily before a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Jan. 12 to the present level of more than 200 flights.

As international support continues to flow into Haiti amid what one official has called one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas, the U.S. military has looked outside the capital for areas to receive the additional provisions, equipment and personnel.

"We are obviously very conscious of the need to have multiple ports of entry," said Allyn, adding that the U.S. military assessed the site at Jacmel yesterday during a helicopter delivery of food and supplies to the area.

In addition to the strip in Jacmel, officials hope to improve logistics from San Isidro in the neighboring Dominican Republic to affected areas in Haiti.

Original estimates by the Red Cross were that upwards of 50,000 people were killed in the quake, with 3 million Haitians affected, but other reports elevated the estimated death count at 100,000 to 200,000.

The top priority now is to distribute supplies that are building on the ground as they continue being delivered by the Defense Department and international contributors, the general said. A C-17 Globemaster III transport jet flew from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., yesterday and airdropped nearly 15,000 meals and more than 15,000 liters of water to people in northeastern Port-au-Prince.

"This aerial delivery augments our ongoing relief efforts and continues to extend our reach to the stricken," said Allyn, adding that the United States has delivered more than 400,000 bottles of water and 300,000 rations to the people of Haiti in the past six days.

About half of the 7,000 U.S. troops in Haiti -- 2,000 on the ground and more than 5,000 afloat off the Haitian coast -- are directly involved in delivering humanitarian assistance ashore, he said. The number of U.S. forces operating in and around Haiti is expected to rise to more than 10,000 by the end of the day, a defense official said.

Baker's Blog: I Want Coffee, They Want Water

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - I woke up yesterday really wanting a hot cup of coffee. I hadn't had any coffee for a few days. A few hundred yards from me, several thousand others woke up really needing something to eat. Who knows when they had last eaten? I realize when I write this how spoiled I am and how ashamed I am to write it. They are starving, and I want my Starbucks. Sad, really.

But I am used to a different quality of life, granted at least in part because of geography. Haiti is almost 11,000 square miles, about the size of Maryland. Its estimated population in 2009 was just more than 9 million, according to the State Department. It is the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the poorest in the world, and last week's earthquake just cemented that fact in rubble.

The devastation made a bad situation worse. The damage here ranges from having no power to having nothing at all.

I am staying at a forward operating base near the embassy run by the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, out of Fort Bragg, N.C. From the first day, the need was apparent. The troops had barely landed, and a crowd of thousands started coming up the hill from a survivor camp below. The troops had been on the ground only hours when they started passing out the much-needed food and water. We drove from the forward operating base here yesterday to find a local hospital that can take any critical patients that the soldiers may hear about or treat at the base.

Along the narrow mountain streets, cars still were crushed beneath rubble. Some of the fallen trees were cut back to allow traffic to pass. Broken clay pots scattered the roadsides. The streets were full of people, many wearing masks and scarves across their noses and mouths.

Along the narrow, curvy road, you could look down into the valley and see some houses crushed.

People walked along the streets, carrying what they needed for life to move on. One woman carried a white plastic chair and a small bag of vegetables on her head. Another carried a full-size mattress.

In the cities, makeshift markets were open for business. People were doing their laundry and bathing in the streets and along the sidewalks. Many were cleaning up the debris or pushing the rubble off into a mountainous pile so that business could return to some kind of normal.

What would have been a park turned into a survivor camp, with people pitching tarps for tents, stray dogs running in and out of the crowd and women cooking food in pots in the open air.

The line for gas stretched for blocks. The police were directing traffic at the station we passed. Everyone was impatient for fuel to run the motorcycles, cars and generators. And all along our route, there was the occasional hand-scrawled call for help on a fence or gate:

"We need help. Water and food."

Not one of them asked for coffee.

(Fred W. Baker III of American Forces Press Service is reporting and blogging about relief operations in Haiti.)

General Reports Relative Calm in Haiti

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - For the second straight day, military officials have characterized the security situation in Haiti as "relatively calm" amid the country's struggle to recover in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

With the U.S. military footprint expected to grow to more than 10,000 by the day's end, the positive assessment comes a day after official U.S. sources and Haitian residents reported that the number of violent incidents has declined to pre-earthquake levels.

"The security situation here in Haiti remains relatively calm," Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the second in command of U.S. operations in Haiti, told Pentagon reporters today. "Distribution points remain orderly throughout our humanitarian assistance efforts, and feedback from the people of Haiti has been positive."

The remarks today come as some 7,000 U.S. troops are operating in Haiti, including 2,000 on the ground and more than 5,000 afloat off the Haitian coast. The 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team continues to flow into the country, with the last portion of the brigade expected within 48 hours, and some 800 Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived offshore last night.

But despite an increasing military footprint to reinforce a security situation that has enjoyed two days of relatively upbeat appraisals, the top U.S. commander in Haiti yesterday reported that security incidents in the devastated country continue to impede efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance, and Allyn today emphasized the ongoing potential for violence.

"Obviously, we are watching for signs of instability," Allyn said. "At present, there are 'pockets' in areas of Haiti, and the U.N. security forces are working with the Haitian national police to address those pockets as they arise. And they have been able to effectively deal with them, and we're confident they will continue to do so."

Such instability sometimes is caused by people who need food, water or other life-sustaining support, Allyn said, and some instability is created by criminal activity. Haitian prisons collapsed in the earthquake, he noted, allowing inmates back into the populace.

The general cited progress among the decimated ranks of Haitian police, which was reduced to a 500-strong force in the quake's immediate aftermath, but has since quadrupled, with 2,000 police reporting for duty last night.

"It's obviously necessary for the security forces of the government of Haiti, the Haitian national police, to increase their capacity," Allyn added.

The general praised the United Nations, which has the lead for security in Haiti, for helping to restore stability and security to the people of Haiti and its government. Under this rubric, U.S. military efforts are working in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is orchestrating U.S. government contributions to the relief mission.

For its part, the Defense Department has pledged up to $20 million in emergency relief funds for Haiti, and sprang troops into action following the quake, with the U.S. military footprint there expected to grow with the addition of more troops and the impending arrival of the USNS Comfort, a floating military hospital ship.

"By midday tomorrow, we expect to be able to transfer high-priority patients identified by the minister of health and the medical professionals on the ground here in Haiti to ensure that those most in need of trauma care and advanced medical procedures will be able to receive those on the Comfort," Allyn said.

Haiti has been the focus of an expansive relief effort in the wake of the disaster, which officials believe has killed between 100,000 to 200,000 people and which the Red Cross estimates has affected some 3 million people.

Guardmember rescues woman from house fire

By Spc. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

(1/15/10) – A Guardmember credits childhood lessons and training she received in the Army National Guard for her quick response to a house fire here Jan. 11. “When you were younger, they always told you to get low to the ground during a fire,” said Maj. Nathlon Jackson, an assignments officer for logistics and communications who works at the Army National Guard Readiness Center. “It’s certainly those things that hold true.”

“What I have learned in the military in first-aid training also helped me to access the situation and take charge when I realized that … [a] person was not responding.”

As Jackson walked to her car outside the readiness center during lunch, she noticed smoke pouring from the top of a nearby house.

She walked to the front door and began knocking to see if anyone was inside.

“As I walked over to the house, I could smell that something was burning, rather than just it being smoke from a pot burning in the kitchen,” she said. “I opened the mail slot with my hand and started to yell inside ‘hello, hello’ to see if anyone was home.”

A neighbor from across the street told Jackson that there was someone inside.

“I began to bang on the door louder, and the neighbor said that she had a key and went to get it, and I think she called 9-1-1 also.”

When the neighbor came back with the key, they opened the door and the neighbor pointed Jackson toward steps leading upstairs.

After climbing the stairs, she opened a door to a find a room full of smoke. “When I ran in, it was like an automatic suffocation from all of the smoke, and I fell to one knee ….”

When Jackson went to her knee, she could see the victim’s legs across the room through the smoke. She appeared to be sitting on the bed, but from what Jackson could see it was clear that the victim was disorientated and in shock.

“I kept yelling to her to come to my voice, and when she flopped over, that’s when I crawled into the room,” she said. “I started to feel around the bed until I found her body, and when I did, I just started pulling her to me.

“Luckily, the stairs were right by the bedroom door, so once I got her off of the bed we slid down the stairs together.”

Jackson vividly recalled the victim’s face covered in black soot and mucus. She could tell that she was in shock, so she wrapped the victim in her Gortex jacket.

“We sat on the curb, and I kept telling her that she was safe now. I made sure the jacket was on nicely, and we just waited for the ambulance to come.”

Jackson said when she first enlisted in the Army Guard, she saw a recruiter’s video highlighting Soldiers helping victims and she knew that was what she wanted to do.

“I was interested in helping the community,” she said. “That is what we do as Soldiers, and that’s why I joined the Army National Guard. I’ve always liked to help the community.”

Kentucky TAG visits troops in Kosovo

By Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds

North Dakota National Guard

(1/18/10) -- The adjutant general of the Kentucky National Guard took time recently to personally thank his state's Citizen-Soldiers, who are on an important NATO peace-keeping mission here in Kosovo. Air Force Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini recently spent three days in Kosovo, visiting troops from the Bluegrass State and conducting meetings with leaders of Multi-National Task Force-East (MNTF-E), part of NATO's KFOR (Kosovo Forces) peace operations.

The general was an honored guest of MNTF-E's Task Force Aviation, which has two Kentucky aviation units - 2-147th Aviation Battalion and 169th Aviation Battalion - that make up its force structure. In all there are about 80 Kentucky-based National Guard Soldiers in the units.

Tonini hit the ground running right away on Jan. 15, when he took a tour of Camp Bonsteel, the main U.S.-led NATO headquarters in Kosovo. As part of the tour, the general stopped and visited with Kentucky Soldiers at the base's helicopter refueling point. From there it was off to dinner and a meeting with Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., commander of MNTF-E; and Lt. Col. Wallace Bonds, Isle Palms, S.C., commander of Task Force Aviation.

"From the beginning the Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard have demonstrated nothing but extreme professionalism and a can-do spirit that has helped us forge from a unit made up of 14 source states and territories to a Task Force with a common purpose and mission," said Brig. Gen. Dohrmann. "The Kentucky-based Soldiers have embraced change and have worked effectively alongside aviation units from other states and nations to keep Kosovo safe and secure."

Col. Aaron T. Barrier, commander of the Kentucky-based 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade; and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Delynn H. Gibson, Kentucky command chief warrant officer, joined Tonini on the visit to Kosovo.

"The observations that I've had is that everyone is doing a great job," Tonini said. "I get great comments from the commands about the job they're doing, the reliability, the professionalism and as far as the Soldiers themselves are concerned, they seem to be in very high spirits.

"We are very fortunate in Kentucky in having people that are very supportive of those in uniform. People recognize the value and have a deep appreciation for what our Soldiers do."

Also, during his stay, Tonini visited the Task Force Aviation tactical operations center and the air-traffic control tower, before a visit to the MNTF-E joint operations center for a command-level presentation on Task Force Aviation's role as part of KFOR.

"It's been a great experience having Maj. Gen. Tonini here, along with Col. Barrier and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gibson," said Capt. Stephen Martin, 2-147th AV BN. "It's been a really big morale boost. He definitely brings a message from home, from our families, that the state cares about us and supports us."

The general also took time to root for one of the home teams while he was in Kosovo. He and a group of Kentucky Soldiers watched the University of Kentucky basketball team deliver a victory over Auburn.

"It's really nice to see TAG (The Adjutant General) and Col. Barrier here," said Sgt. Shaun M. Morris, 2-147th AV BN. "TAG knows us fairly well because we fly him around back home quite a lot. It's great to see him come out and show his support for us."

Tonini made a special effort to interact with the Soldiers of the 2-147th and the 169th, which provides UH-60 helicopters for medevac purposes throughout Kosovo. He also took time to say thanks to the members of the Virginia-based 777th Aviation Support Battalion, which provides the maintenance support for the Task Force Aviation choppers.

"I appreciate everything that's being done here," Tonini said. "This particular deployment is one that doesn't get a lot of headlines, but nonetheless, it's important, because stability in this part of the world is certainly critical."

Corporate America reaches out to veterans

By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau

(1/15/10) -- Corporate America has joined forces with this country's veterans to provide the skills and mentorship that they need to rejoin the civilian workforce. “They have experience and character and all those military traits that are valuable to employers,” said Army Maj. Robert Lee, the employer initiative program manager for the Army National Guard’s Employment and Education Outreach Branch.

“They are instructors and teachers and leaders, and they know how to motivate men and women to be productive. That is what these guys bring to the work force.”

The mission of Lee’s office is to provide employment and educational opportunities and programs to Soldiers by leveraging their military training, leadership experience, job skills and education with civilian employers, schools and other government agencies.

Lee said the division has developed a national job bank to help Soldiers find employment opportunities if unemployed, underemployed, need to switch careers or find a new job.

“Through the employer partner initiative, we have about 840 employer partners already,” Lee said. “You can search by job or geographic area.”

They also look for opportunities to partner with industry. For example, Helmets to Hardhats is for veterans interested in the construction business.

Another program is American Corporate Partners, which is a nationwide mentoring program dedicated to helping veterans transition from the armed services to private enterprise. They provide career counseling and networking with professionals from some of America’s largest corporations, according to their Website.

A veteran is a good investment for corporate America, because they can have an immediate and positive impact on production, Lee said. “All of these job skills and experiences that servicemen and women bring to corporate America saves them time and money.”

It is important for corporate America to reach out to veterans, “(they) provided their time and service to our country,” Lee said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Embezzling Life Insurance Intended for Deceased Soldier’s Child

Woman Ordered to Serve 36 Months in Prison and Pay Over $362,000 in Restitution for Embezzling Life Insurance Intended for Deceased Soldier’s Child

January 19, 2010 - OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - This afternoon, TRISHA DAWN FISH, 31, of Harrah, Oklahoma, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen P. Friot to serve 36 months in federal prison for embezzlement of military life insurance funds intended for the minor child of deceased Army Specialist Jeffrey S. Henthorn, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. In addition, Judge Friot ordered Fish to serve three years supervised release upon release from prison and pay $362,644 in restitution.

According to Court records, Specialist Henthorn and Fish were married, had a child in 1998 and divorced in 2000. Specialist Henthorn died in Iraq on February 8, 2005. Before his death, he completed a “Service Members Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate” designating his child as the beneficiary to be paid 100% of the insurance proceeds. The funds were a part of the Service Member’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI), a low cost insurance program provided to military servicemembers and administered by Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

In March of 2005, Fish filed a petition for guardianship and temporary custody of Specialist Henthorn’s child in Kickapoo Tribal Court in McCloud, Oklahoma, and cited the need to set up a trust fund for the purpose of receiving the serviceman’s life insurance proceeds and military death gratuity totaling approximately $450,000 for the benefit of the child. In about seven months, Fish embezzled and misappropriated the funds which had been entrusted to her as the guardian and fiduciary of Specialist Henthorn’s child and used the funds for items such as purchases of a car, land, camping trailer, vacations, dogs, jewelry, big screen TV, medications, payment for vacations and meals, and cash gifts to friends and family members.

Fish was indicted in April of 2009 and pled guilty in August of 2009. Fish was ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons on March 3, 2010 to begin serving her sentence.

The Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) is available to members of the armed services, including Reservists, Guardsmen, cadets and midshipmen of the service academies, as well as commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Currently there are 2.4 million military members covered under SGLI, and another 3 million military family members covered under the Family SGLI. Further information about SGLI is available at www.insurance.va.gov

This case is the result of investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, Department of the Defense Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James F. Robinson and Robert Don Gifford.

USNS Comfort to Provide Vital Part of Relief

By Ian Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - As thousands of people and billions of dollars come flowing into Haiti from around the world, the Navy could be supplying one of the most vital pieces of the relief effort: the hospital ship USNS Comfort. Navy Cmdr. Mark Marino, director of nursing aboard the Comfort, joined a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable today to explain the range of patient-care capabilities the ship carries and to discuss how the Comfort carries out a relief mission like the one in Haiti.

The ship's capacity is about 1,000 beds, he said. Some 400 to 600 of those are for "low-acuity" patients who don't need much care, and another 400 are for more severely injured patients who have undergone surgery or have special needs such as a continuous IV or special dressing changes.

The ship normally has 60 intensive-care beds, Marino said, but he's expanded that capacity to 80 beds, anticipating more severe injuries. A 50-bed emergency room is on board for first-aid and immediate care, as well as eight to 11 operating rooms.

"So all of the patients that come from either other ships in the area or from Haiti itself will come to our casualty receiving," Marino said. "Any emergency lifesaving measures will be addressed there, and then they'll either be taken to surgery or they'll be admitted to either a surgical ward or a medical ward or my intensive care unit."

Marino said he hopes the ship can be staffed enough to allow maximum capacity for treatment; the Comfort generally partners with nongovernment organizations, ranging from nonprofit organizations such as Operation Smile and Project Hope to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the Comfort's last mission, 10 to 15 groups contributed, either by supplying volunteers or by donating material goods.

"There is an Operation Smile representative on board," Marino said. "Their mission has been traditionally to do cleft palate care to young children, but they have offered up surgeons and other staff to help care for our patients in other areas.

"[The LDS church] were partners with us on our last mission," he continued. "They have orthopedic surgeons, emergency surgeons, general surgeons, pediatric, all the specialties in nursing, as well as ancillary services [and] respiratory technicians. And they are all willing to jump in, and they've got people standing by."

Volunteers from other organizations, he said, will begin rotating into the ship in coming weeks.

"They are assessing how they can fit into the organization, but in such short notice, we wanted to get our military folks up and running and on the ship, and get them in country as quickly as we could," Marino said. "And then we are now making arrangements to start that partnership with the various [nongovernmental organizations] that'll be joining us."

The Comfort is scheduled to arrive in Haiti the morning of Jan. 20, when it will join the USS Bataan and USS Carl Vinson, taking on patients the other ships and the hospitals on the ground can't help.

"We already have a list [of high-priority patients] from the Vinson; I imagine the Bataan is going to do the same thing," Marino said. "There is, I believe, a surgical hospital -- I'm not sure if it's an Army field hospital or who's in there -- but we already have one of the {Defense Department] military hospitals in country with a backlog, and they are all ready to send us patients as well," Marino said.

The Vinson, Bataan and Comfort will have strategic pick-up points where helicopters from each ship will retrieve patients and bring them aboard to receive treatment.

"I believe right now we're embedding at least a trauma surgeon and possibly another physician to triage what patients would be suitable to come out to the Comfort," Marino said. "And hopefully that will be some of our focal point, at least initially."

The medical presence on the ground should expand in the next week or two to help in treating critical patients sooner. But for now, he said, the focus is relieving the backlog of patients and getting them aboard the Comfort.

"Slowly we'll start to set up in country our own triage points at some of the places we've actually been in the past when we were doing our mission this past summer," he said.

(Ian Graham works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Hospital Ship Comfort Nears Haitian Coast

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - Drills have been run, beds are set up, supplies are stowed. The intensive care units are up and running, and medical equipment is where it needs to be. The USNS Comfort, with 1,000 desperately needed hospital beds, is approaching Haiti. The ship will arrive in Haiti tomorrow morning, a day earlier than expected, said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Jim Ware, commander of the ship's medical treatment facility. The sailors aboard the ship are primed and ready to go. "These are Americans who really want to help," Ware said. The sailors come from all over the continental United States.

The crew is not looking at what the mission means to the United States globally, Ware said. "We're here to focus on one-on-one patient care – to focus on care for every mother, father and child out there," he said. "The most important thing about this isn't its global effect, it's the one-on-one quality patient care."

This, he added, amounts to helping a nation one person at a time.

"When that helicopter touches down and that 75-year old lady who was buried in a building for four days and has some type of broken bone, my surgeon is going to focus on her," Ware said. "When that 7-year old child comes off and he's got a crushed finger, we will focus on her."

A detachment has landed aboard the vessel with two Seahawk helicopters. A mobile security group is on board to provide force protection for the medical detachment once it reaches the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Navy Capt. Rodelio Laco will move aboard the Comfort once the ship arrives in Port-au-Prince harbor to take command of the task group. Laco will bring a staff aboard and coordinate medical care, Ware said. "He will orchestrate, coordinate and execute the operations," Ware explained.

Coordinating these operations, he said, will allow the medical professionals aboard the Comfort to concentrate on the medicine.

The Comfort crew will work with nongovernmental organizations, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division who already are in Haiti providing assistance. The crew also expects to work with medical professionals from many other countries – including sizeable contingents from Mexico, Brazil and Canada.

"They will be working with us to bring the right patients to the ship since there will be thousands of individuals we can help," Ware said.

The ship's reach goes beyond the shoreline or landing zones, the captain said. Teams from the Comfort also can push out to help individuals in the hinterlands, depending on the security environment.

"We expect a fluid situation in country," Ware said. Still, he added, he expects the interface with medical groups already on the island will allow the care to proceed in a safe and orderly fashion.

The U.S. military already has established safe areas to pick up patients, Ware said, and are assessing how to move the patients through Port-au-Prince to get them to the ship.

"My understanding [is that] we are looking at three different sites initially for the first 72 hours, and then we will open up to other areas of opportunity," the captain said.

(Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service is reporting and blogging from the USNS Comfort.)

Army Announces Force Structure Actions

The Department of the Army announced today the planned relocation of the 86th Signal Battalion from Fort Huachuca, Ariz. to Fort Bliss, Texas. This force structure action represents an increase of 487 military authorizations and one civilian authorization at Fort Bliss and a decrease of 487 military authorizations and one civilian authorization at Fort Huachuca. Implementation of these changes is scheduled to be completed in July 2011.

The 86th Signal Battalion provides Command Post nodes in support of Combatant Commanders, Army Service Component Commanders, Joint Task Force Commanders, Joint Land Force Component Commanders, Coalition Headquarters, Army support to other Services, Theater Army Commands, functional brigades, and task organized battalions in support of functional and multi-functional brigades.

Point of contact for this notification is Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, 703-614-2487, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Army.

TUI University Partners with FBI National Academy Associates

Members to transfer training towards specialized course credits

January 15, 2009- TUI University (www.tuiu.edu), a leader in online education, today announced it was named an academic partner by the FBI National Academy Associates, Inc (FBINAA). The FBINAA is a non-profit organization that provides the highest degree of law enforcement expertise, training, education and information to over 17,000 senior law enforcement members. As a partner university, TUI will accept the transfer of FBINAA credits towards its MBA degree programs.

"TUI is the first school we have partnered with in the Western United States. It's a great fit for FBINAA members because of its academic excellence and accommodations for working professionals," stated Gary Foster, chief operating officer, FBI National Academy Associates. "TUI also understands the unique training undergone by law enforcement and the military, and their programs in Strategic Leadership, Public Management, and Criminal Justice Administration offer our members logical career advancement."

The new partnership permits members of the FBINAA, their spouses and dependents, to receive a tuition reduction at TUI of 15% for the Bachelors program and 27.5% for the Masters program. TUI's transfer policy will also allow for the transfer of up to 88 credits from community colleges and four year universities towards the Bachelor degree, and up to 12 Master level credits towards a Master degree. In addition to tuition discounts, there is no cost for textbooks and all application fees are waived.

"This new partnership with the FBI National Academy Associates demonstrates TUI's commitment to serving the educational needs of our nation's first responders, "said Kenneth Sobaski, president and chief executive officer, TUI University. "We hope to provide enhanced academic and career opportunities for law enforcement executives, while simultaneously providing them with applicable knowledge for their current positions in public safety and homeland security."

TUI University alliances include all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, leading law enforcement agencies and organizations such as the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP), the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department University (LASDU), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), CA POST Command College, leading corporations, professional associations, and community colleges.

About TUI University
Founded in 1998, TUI University (www.tuiu.edu) has become a leading online postsecondary university. Its technology-enabled online learning model and solutions provide a convenient, cost-effective, and high-quality education to students. TUI University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is based in Cypress, California.



Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2010 a $923,716,895 firm-fixed-price contract for the funding of Fourth Program Year of multi-year contract for Army Lot 34 consisting of 46 each UH-60M and 21 each HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and 10 each Option UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for Army and also tooling: program systems management; and technical publications. Work is to be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. One bid solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command, AMSAM-AC-BH-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W5RGZ-08-C-0003).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2010 a $600,697,952 firm-fixed-price contract for the funding of Fourth Program Year of multi-year contract for Navy Lot 12 consisting of 18 each MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters and for Navy Lot 8 consisting of 24 each MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters for the Navy and also tooling: program systems management; and technical publications. Work is to be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. One bid solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command, AMSAM-AC-BH-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W5RGZ-08-C-0003).

Son's Quality Food Company, Silver Spring, Md., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2010 a $63,189,885 cost-plus-award-fee contract for the cadet mess, mess attendant/waiter services for the United States Military Academy. Work is to be performed in West Point, NY, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2017. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with seven bids received. Mission Installation Contracting Command, DOC, West Point, N.Y., is the contracting activity (W911SD-10-C-0005).

Neumann Brothers, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa., was awarded on Jan. 14, 2010 a $24,860,500 firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of a new Armed Forces Reserve Center with field maintenance shop in Middletown, Iowa. Work is to be performed in Middletown, Iowa, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 15, 2012. Bids were solicited via Army Single Face Industry with 40 Phase I, and 3 Phase II bids received. National Guard Bureau Iowa, Johnson, Iowa, is the contracting activity (W912LP-10-C-0001).

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on Jan. 14, 2010 a $19,399,999 firm-fixed-price contract for definitization of an undefinitized contract action for the purchase of M-TADS/PNVS Arrowhead kits, partial B-kits, spares and tads electronic display and control. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, CCAM-AP, B, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0169).

Journeyman Construction, Inc., Austin, Texas., was awarded on Jan. 13, 2010 a $10,681,418 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of an Armed Forces Reserve Center. Work is to be performed in Lufkin, Texas., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 12, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 14 bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR10-C-0027).

Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corp., Carson, Calif., was awarded on Jan, 15, 2009 a $8,043,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Product Director Network Operations-Current Forces has a requirement for support services for the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, Integrated System Command/Tactical Internet Management System, and Blue Force tracking data product and automated toll development/update. Work is to be performed in Carson, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 4, 2010. Sixteen bids were solicited with one bid received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W91QUZ-07-D-0005).

DRS Sustainment Systems, Inc., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2010 a $7,198,850 firm-fixed-price contract for additional services and consumables to support the Expeditionary Water Packaging System. Work is to be performed in St. Louis, Mo., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 9, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-10-C-0010).

Meinecke-Johnson Company., Fargo, N.D., was awarded on Jan. 13, 2010 a $7,161,800 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of an Army Reserve Center in Fargo, N.D. Work is to be performed in Fargo, N.D., with an estimated completion date of May 19, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with five bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0028).

Harris IT Services, Dulles, Va., was awarded on Sept. 24, 2009 a $6,323,003 contract for TIER III to adequately support the rapid growth of roles and responsibilities relating to centralized network operations of the Air National Guard NIPRNet and SIPRNet additional staffing is required to augment the current military forces. Work is to be performed in Arlington, Va., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 23, 2014. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with two bids received. National Guard Bureau, Air Support Division NGB-ZC-AQ, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (FA8771-04D-0003-2Y04).

The Boeing Company, Mesa., Ariz., was awarded on Jan. 15, 2010 a $6,268,746 firm-fixed-price contract for the post production system support, engineering services, product quality deficiency report (25) for the AH-64 Apache airframe. This effort will be for 12 months to support weapons interface, crew station development, and engineering analysis. Work is to be performed in Mesa, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 13, 2013. One bid solicited with one bids received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center, CCAM-AP-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-05-G-0005).


J2 Engineering, Inc.*, Tampa, Fla., is being awarded $7,138,569 for firm-fixed price task order #0003 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract (N69450-08-D-1782) for repair of Buildings 330 and 333 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. The work to be performed provides for the contractor to furnish all labor, equipment, tools, transportation and materials required to execute repairs. Work will be performed in Beaufort, S.C., and is expected to be completed by Jun. 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Four proposals were received for this task order. The Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, Beaufort, Beaufort, S.C., is the contracting activity.

Detyens Shipyards, Inc., North Charleston, S.C., is being awarded a $6,405,847 firm-fixed-price contract for a 55-calendar day regular overhaul of Military Sealift Command's fleet replenishment oiler USNS Lenthall. The ship's primary mission is to provide fuel to Navy ships at sea and jet fuel to aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. Work performed will include preservation of ballast tanks; preservation of tank deck overhead; preservation of potable water tanks and main engine turbo overhaul. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $7,757,269. Work will be performed in North Charleston, S.C., and is expected to be completed by April 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with three proposals solicited and three offers received. The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, a field activity of Military Sealift Command, is the contracting activity (N40442-10-C-1007).

Metro Machine, Portsmouth, Va., is being awarded a $6,234,201 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-10-C-4401) for the maintenance and repair of USS Ponce (LPD-15). Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be completed by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $6,234,201 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Ship Support Activity, Portsmouth, Va., is the contracting activity.

Flags lowered to half-staff in Wisconsin Wednesday for Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob Meinert

January 19, 2010 - Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities across the state will fly at half-staff Wednesday, Jan. 20 in honor of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jacob Meinert of Fort Atkinson, who was killed in action in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 10. The Guard will render these honors in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Jim Doyle.

EXECUTIVE ORDER # 309 reads:

Relating to a Proclamation that the Flag of the United States and the Flag of the State of Wisconsin be Flown at Half-Staff as a Mark of Respect for Lance Corporal Jacob Meinert of the United State Marine Corps Who Lost His Life While Serving His Country in Operation Enduring Freedom

WHEREAS, on January 10, 2010, Lance Corporal Jacob Meinert, who was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, died while serving his country in Afghanistan; and

WHEREAS, Lance Corporal Jacob Meinert provided faithful and honorable service to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the people of the United States; and WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin mourn the death of Lance Corporal Jacob Meinert; and

WHEREAS, a memorial service will be held for Lance Corporal Jacob Meinert on Wednesday, January 20, 2010;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JIM DOYLE, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me by Federal and State law, do hereby order that the flag of the United States and the flag of the State of Wisconsin shall be flown at half-staff at all buildings, grounds and military installations of the State of Wisconsin equipped with such flags beginning at sunrise on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, and ending at sundown on that date.

All Wisconsin state government facilities are covered by the governor's order and a 2007 amendment to the U.S. Flag Code now requires all federal facilities in Wisconsin to comply. Other government agencies, businesses and private residences with flagpoles may also honor Lance Cpl. Jacob Meinert by lowering their U.S. and Wisconsin state flags to half-staff during the daylight hours on Jan. 20.

Airborne Troops Expand Relief Efforts

By Fred W. Baker III

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - Even as thousands more show up daily for free food and water, the 82nd Airborne Division troops at their makeshift forward operating base here have begun to move out beyond its barriers to see how else they can help those still suffering from last week's earthquake. Helicopters arrive every morning, bringing more food and water to the base, run by the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. Troops line the hill like ants from the landing zone down to the distribution point, carry cases and cases of water and meals.

The soldiers handed out twice as much yesterday as they did the day before – more than 15,000 bottles of water and 4,000 meals. But beyond ramping up the amount of water and food they are distributing, the leaders here have begun to look beyond their own perimeter, trying to figure out how to reach out to those who cannot make it to the base.

"We hope to get a good sense of where those people are who can't get to us," said Army Lt. Chris Anderson, the squadron's intelligence officer. "That's what we really want to get."

Anderson's team of intelligence gatherers began interviewing some of those coming through the distribution line yesterday. They want to find the 'pockets' of people in the city who need food, water and medical attention most. They also are gathering information on security concerns, possible medical and other resources in the community, and generally any information that will help local commanders paint a broader picture of the relief effort ahead of them.

This will help them determine when, where and how they push their relief efforts out, officials said.

"We have limited resources. We only have so much food, so much water," Anderson said. "[The commanders must] make those hard decisions of who to give it to and how to get it to them. Every little bit [of intelligence] that we can give him gives him a better picture."

The squadron's medical professionals also began yesterday reaching out to those needing care. The handful of combat medics set up a makeshift trauma area and treated more than 50 people, mostly for cuts, bruises and broken bones. None were critically injured.

Because security for the relief effort is its primary mission, the squadron did not deploy with the resources to set up a field clinic. Still, the squadron commander has said he will do what he can for those who make it to the base.

Army Capt. Buddy Davis, the squadron's physician assistant, called those he treated the "walking wounded."

"Those who have been able to see me have been able to get to me," he said. "They are saying that there are others still out there, and it's my hope to find out where those pockets may be and to communicate them up."

Davis yesterday began looking for medical resources in the community that may be able to accept critically injured patients, should the soldiers be able to transport them there. His first stop was the Baptist Haiti Mission, high atop the city. Its rooms were packed, and its hallways already were lined with patients.

"I initially thought as we walked in the door that this was a waste of our time," Davis said. "But clearly, it's not the sentiment shared by those in charge." Surprisingly, the chief surgeon said he will take all the patients Davis can transport, as long as Davis can provide a place for them to go after surgery to heal. The hospital simply does not have the room for post-operative care.

That sent Davis a few miles down the road, staring out over the sloping hillsides looking for a helicopter landing zone, and to an abandoned school nearby that could be used to house soldiers and equipment and food and water for distribution.

The squadron wants to find and support local health-care agencies already providing care, Davis said.

"Today, it was 'Lets get an idea of who's sick and who's hurt and where they can go and how we can help out,'" he said.

With the numbers of those gathering here for relief supplies growing every day, officials have started considering how to push their distribution efforts beyond the base. Estimates have as many as 20,000 people in the camp during the day, and 50,000 at night. The initial effort to distribute the food in the survival camp proved too chaotic, and ended with the soldiers having to retreat to the base for the distribution.

Squadron commanders met today with leaders of the survivor camp. Four local leaders have agreed to divide the camp into equal parts, with each assuming responsibility for distribution in their quadrant.

About a dozen soldiers went to a community center in the city yesterday delivering food and water, and others are out today surveying a handful of other sites to do the same.

"Word of mouth is getting out, and people know right now this is 'the spot,'" said Army Maj. J.T. Eldridge, the squadron operations officer. "That's why we're looking at alternative sites. We want to make [more] spots."

The squadron also is working with representatives of a few local nongovernmental organizations who arrived yesterday. Eldridge said the squadron eventually would like to drop back into solely a security role, ensuring that the relief is distributed to those who need it most.

"That's the goal -- to go and establish these sites where we can go and drop these supplies, and the Haitian populace has a system in place with which to receive it and hand it out in an orderly fashion," he said.

Army Capt. Jon Hartsock, C Troop commander, has managed the day-to-day distribution of the relief rations at the base. Putting local people in charge has been key to the peaceful distribution, he said.

Hartsock's troops yesterday stopped wearing their weapons, and quickly put the Haitian volunteers in place to organize the efforts. A Haitian woman, though not from the local area, was chosen to select those from the crowd to receive food and water.

The bulk of his soldiers' work now is carrying the massive amounts of relief from the landing zone to the distribution point. Along its perimeter, they are a presence to simply help in keeping the order.

"It's their country. They know that we're here to help. They know that we're bringing the food in," Hartsock said. "But any time you empower the local populace to help themselves, it only makes it better in the end."

Gates Presses for U.S.-Indian Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today emphasized the opportunity and the need for closer defense cooperation between the United States and India in a broad range of areas, including the maritime, cyberspace and space domains. Gates kicked off his two-day visit to India today by meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, discussing the two nations' shared values, interests and challenges, senior defense officials told reporters following the sessions.

The secretary is expected to reinforce that message — and the U.S. wish to broaden its strategic partnership with India — when he meets tomorrow with Defense Minister A.K. Antony.

Today's sessions covered a broad range of issues, but focused heavily on the violent extremism that threatens both countries and their need to continue collaborative efforts to confront it.

A senior official who attended today's talks said Gates also addressed the need to overcome roadblocks that stand in the way of two critical tools supporting counter-extremism efforts: more technology sharing and an increased flow of information and expertise.

"We want to enhance and strengthen our sharing of technology with India," the official said. "We want to be able to share more information with India ... and develop cooperative programs, particularly in the maritime, cyberspace and space area."

The need to secure these realms, the so-called "global commons," is among the 21st-century challenges that "can only be solved by many nations working together in concert," Gates wrote in an article published in today's Times of India.

Yet the secretary has long been frustrated that U.S. law limits just how much technology and information the United States can share with trusted partners such as India to support these efforts.

During today's sessions, Gates also pressed for continued discussion on yet-to-be-finalized agreements between the two countries that will promote geospatial data-sharing, communications interoperability and security and logistical support.

"Not getting these agreements signed is an obstacle to Indian access to the very highest level of technology," he told reporters during the flight here.

Gates lauded in his article the way India has stepped up in the maritime domain, where it is working alongside the multinational naval task force, conducting counter-piracy missions.

In addition to counter-piracy, today's talks also focused on increasing "maritime domain awareness," which the defense official described as "knowing what is moving around out there."

The terror attacks that rocked Mumbai in November 2008 and left 173 people dead drove home the tragic consequences of gaps within this capability. Investigations revealed that the attackers entered Mumbai by hijacking a fishing trawler, killing its crew, then going ashore in a rubber dinghy.

"The attack on Mumbai came from the sea, so there is a definite need to track the movement of people who want to do harm to us out there," a senior defense official told reporters.

During the flight here, Gates praised India's restraint toward Pakistan following the attacks.

"The bombing in Mumbai was a really terrible event, and frankly, I believe that the Indians responded subsequently with a great deal of restraint and have conducted themselves in a very statesmanlike manner since that attack," he told reporters flying with him.

"Obviously, we would hope that there wouldn't be any more attacks," he said. "But I think that even within the framework of that attack and the suspicions that it created, the two sides have managed to keep the tensions between them at a manageable level."

Gates summed up today's sessions as "very productive" and said he looks forward to another round of positive meetings tomorrow at the defense ministry, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell reported.

"Thus far, the visit is off to a very strong start," he said.

Defense Logisticians Stock Comfort's Shelves

By Diana Stewart
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - When the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort's crew cast off lines Jan. 16 and the ship headed for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, it did so with shelves stocked in part by Defense Logistics Agency team members here.

Officials from the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia's subsistence supply chain confirmed requests and requisitions for 6,000 cases of packaged meals and 100 pallets of water, while its medical supply chain received more than 300 requisitions for medical supplies.

Navy Capt. Alfredo Rackauskas, subsistence director, said the meals and water were provided from stock or sourced through the supply chain's prime vendor contracts. "My folks jumped in immediately to help make sure the Class I requirements [arrived] at the right place at the right time to support this critical mission," he said.

Army Col. Marsha Langlois, medical director, said all of her team's requisitions were expedited, with primary immediate support provided through prime vendor contracts. Medical supply chain personnel also were placed on board the Comfort while it was docked in Baltimore to assist crew members in placing and filling medical requisitions.

"Due to the forethought and experience of troop-support personnel, we [were] ready to support the immediate needs for Haiti," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Chambers, the supply center's commander.

The floating hospital is on its way to Haiti on an open-ended humanitarian mission. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Haiti on Jan. 21.

The Philadelphia supply center has a long history of supporting the USNS Comfort, as well as the Navy's other hospital ship, USNS Mercy, on humanitarian missions around the globe.

(Diana Stewart works at Defense Supply Center Philadelphia.)

Hall of Remembrance Honors Fallen Troops

By Heather Graham

Special to American Forces Press Service

Texas, Jan. 19, 2010 - Army Spc. Jonathan Emard, 20, was killed June 4, 2008, in Tikrit, Iraq, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces using small-arms fire and hand grenades. At Fort Hood, his is one of 97 photographs of fallen servicemembers enshrined in the survivor outreach services program's Hall of Remembrance. The photos reflect the faces of fallen soldiers and Marines following their weddings, combat missions or other photo sessions. Some are in uniform, some are dressed casually, but all are represented the way their families wanted them to be remembered.

The hall has room for more than 700 photos, and staff members hope more survivor families choose to honor their soldiers on the walls of the hall. Whether their deaths were due to combat, homicide, suicide, training or vehicular accidents, all of them died while serving on active duty.

The soldiers pictured are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters whose memories live on not only in the hearts and minds of their loved ones, but now also in a solemn room here dedicated to their service and in memory of their sacrifices.

After their son was killed, the Emards were contacted by Fort Hood's survivor outreach services – known as SOS -- but the family didn't have time to deal with it. "That first year, there was just too much going on," said Debbie, Jonathan's mother. "We were just sort of overloaded."

Later, the Emards got involved with the Fort Hood SOS program after learning about the Hall of Remembrance. "We wanted to see what it is all about," Debbie said. The Emards liked the idea, so they contacted SOS and submitted a photo.

"It is honoring our son," Debbie said. "It's a good way to honor him."

For their submission to the Hall, David and Debbie Emard chose a photo of their son wearing his uniform. "It's how we wanted him remembered," the soldier's father said.

The Emards attended the private opening for the hall Dec. 22 and returned for the official opening Jan. 11, when Jonathan's sister, Jennifer Marler, sang two original songs she wrote following her brother's death.

Since their initial visit to Fort Hood SOS, the Emard family has become involved with the program, mostly for shared experiences with other surviving families.

"A lot of times we pick up something from other families," David said. "It helps to help others." For example, they said, they have learned their emotions of continued grief for their son's loss are normal and are shared by many families who have lost a soldier.

Widow Denisa Thomas also has found much-needed support and assistance at the SOS office. Her husband, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Terry Thomas, an Apache helicopter pilot, was killed Sept. 19, 2006, during a training mission in Germany.

In the aftermath of his death, Denisa said, she initially sought assistance for herself and the couple's two children, now 12 and 10, from a post at Illesheim, Germany.

Following a friend who helped her after her husband's death, the German-born Bosnian came to Fort Hood in July. When she contacted SOS, Denisa said, she found the information and support she had sought. Her questions were answered, she found help enrolling her children in school, and found a group of people who understand her situation and experiences.

"It's the kind of support everybody wishes and hopes for," she said. "I really felt taken care of."

Denisa attends meetings at SOS to share her experiences and listen to others' stories. "We are all trying to move forward," she said.

SOS staff members helped Denisa get her children enrolled in school here and provided a smooth transition for their move from Germany. The program also provides family life consultant services, financial and survivor benefits services and support groups to survivors.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors shares office space and resources for comprehensive care and support to surviving family members. The SOS program continues to expand as part of the Army Family Covenant, the Army's commitment to care for families.

"The program is in place and going strong," said Janeth Lopez, the SOS program manager. "We are keeping our promise that the families are not forgotten."

For most surviving families, that is the promise they seek – that their soldier is remembered and never forgotten. The Hall of Remembrance is for all active-duty casualties, and for all survivors, Lopez stressed.

"What better way to honor the fallen and their sacrifice?" she asked.

For the Emards, memorials and events have slowed since Jonathan's death, and David and Debbie have had a chance to absorb the events of the past 18 months, but the grief process continues with the war and current events.

"You don't get to a point where it stops," Debbie said.

(Heather Graham writes for the Fort Hood Sentinel.)

Haiti Native Heads Home to Help

By Navy Chief Petty Officer Craig P. Strawser
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - Army Sgt. Maj. Jean Chouloute was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and lived in Saint-Marc until he was about 11. Although he moved away, he still has family living in Port-au-Prince, and like the rest of the world, the events that have unfolded in Haiti have held his rapt attention. For the last five months, Chouloute has served here as the command sergeant major for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Joint Operations Center, responsible for the health and welfare of everyone who works there.

Now, he is embarking on a completely different mission. He is heading to the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bragg, N.C., and then on to Haiti, where he will be among those helping the victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Although his family in Haiti had damage to their house and are now living in a local church, they made it through OK, Chouloute said. Many had it a lot worse, he noted -- all 10 members of the family next door were killed.

But it's not concern for his family that's pulling him out of Afghanistan. When he gets there, he said, he will use his language skills while patrolling, delivering food and working with other troops to provide hope to the Haitian people.

"We will show the people of Haiti what the U.S. military and the U.S. people are all about," he said. "It's important for me to do this on a couple different fronts. I am helping to show the diversity of the Army, and I will be able to help serve as a bridge between the folks who need help and those who are going there to help. I know the culture, language, area, and people."

Chouloute said it's imperative that the United States shows Haiti how much it cares about what's happened over there.

"It makes me sad to see the level of devastation that has hit Haiti," he said. "They went for almost 50 years without making any real advances, and in the last year they started to get hope, electricity and hotels." He added that the people of Haiti have a lot of faith in the U.S. government, and are counting on its support and assistance.

"That's why it is so important for the U.S. to go there," he added. "The relationship of the Haitian people with the U.S. is important. If we weren't there, there would be more hunger, and more looting. It would be a lot worse than it is right now."

This will be Chouloute's third time going to help in Haiti since he's been in the Army, Chouloute said, adding that he is glad he has the abilities needed to be of help.

"I can't think of a better way to close out my Army career than helping out the country where I was born while representing the country I love," he said.

(Navy Chief Petty Officer Craig P. Strawser serves in the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command public affairs office.)

Haiti Task Force Commander Notes Progress

By Judith Snyderman
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - Humanitarian assistance efforts in Haiti are improving every day despite enormous challenges, the commander of Joint Task Force Haiti said. "Today, we had 180 flights go through the airport with zero delays," Army Lt. Gen. P.K. "Ken" Keen said yesterday during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable. "That's the first day since we started that we did not have a delay."

For perspective, Keen noted that the single runway at the Port-au-Prince airport handled just 13 flights per day before the earthquake. U.S. airmen opened the airport less than 24 hours after the earthquake in response to a request for help from Haitian authorities. It then took several days to streamline the system for handling the crush of planes carrying supplies. Landing time slots now are now assigned based on priorities set by Haitian officials, he explained.

As of yesterday, U.S. troops had distributed 400,000 bottles of water, 300,000 rations and 12,000 pounds of medical supplies, Keen said, adding that those figures count only U.S. contributions. Numerous nations and international aid groups also are delivering assistance, he said.

But while the amount of aid is substantial, Keen said, it's just a drop in the bucket compared to the needs of some 3.5 million people who are suffering, so the size of U.S. military force in Haiti -- in an operation now dubbed "Unified Response" -- will continue to grow.

"We have about 1,400 military on the ground right now," he said. "We have another approximately 5,000 that are afloat on various ships supporting us. We will grow that force over the coming weeks to where we will have about 4,000 to 5,000 on Haiti and another 5,000 offshore supporting us."

Among the assets moving toward Haiti are the hospital ship USNS Comfort, which can supply up to 1,000 hospital beds. The USS Bataan also has arrivedA arrived, and a Marine landing battalion from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is expected to go ashore today to one of the hardest-hit regions outside Port-au-Prince that has been beyond the reach of help until now.

Keen clarified the boundaries of the role that U.S. troops will play. He stressed that their priority is to distribute aid in partnership with other agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development.

"My mission is to provide humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and security in order to execute delivery of that [assistance and relief supplies]," he said. He added that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti remains primarily in charge of security and that U.N. troops who had been successful in significantly reducing gang activity prior to the earthquake now are at work to contain pockets of violence that have cropped up in the disaster's chaotic aftermath.

Keen said he has not witnessed what some media reports characterize as a rising tide of violence.

"All the places that U.S. forces have gone thus far have been very calm," he said. "In fact, they've been overtly welcoming. People have been very orderly, and they've been very appreciative of all the aid that they've been given."

Looking ahead, Keen said, he counts water purification units in the next group of priorities. Sixteen units had arrived yesterday, with five more due today. Opening the ports also is a critical need, he said.

"We've got to have other means to get cargo in here and take pressure off the airport, " he explained.

Assessment teams have determined that both the main port and a fuel pier are inoperable. Keen said he expects to have one of the ports operating with limited capacity by the end of the week, possibly using landing craft.

Keen also told bloggers about another sign of progress in organizing the massive international relief effort: a new humanitarian coordination center that has been established using U.N. facilities. The idea, he said, is to have one place to funnel the immense outpouring of donation sto determine whether any given donation is needed and where should it be stacked if it is.

Keen, who was in Haiti when the earthquake struck, said the response so far has been tremendous.

"I am proud of what our nation and the international community has done," he said.

(Judith Snyderman works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Haitian-American Officer Seeks to Aid Communications

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 19, 2010 - Mill Etienne was 5 years old when his family fled Haiti in 1981 to escape the violence of the Duvalier regime. Now, Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Mill Etienne is returning to the island nation to help Haiti in its hour of need.

Etienne is a neurologist aboard the USNS Comfort, which sailed from Baltimore Jan. 16 and is expected to arrive in Haiti later this week. The Yale and Columbia-trained physician is helping his fellow medical professionals understand Haiti and Haitians before they begin treating them aboard the ship.

"Basically, the crew will be much better received if they are educated on Haitian history, Haitian culture and also know some Haitian language," Etienne said to reporters traveling aboard the Comfort. The commander is being helped by 14 other members of the crew who also are from Haiti.

He is putting together instructions for the doctors, nurses and corpsmen aboard the vessel, as well as a Haitian "word of the day" for the medical professionals.

The relief effort is personal to the commander. He still has close family and many friends living in Haiti, and they have been affected by the earthquake. One of his cousins was buried in the rubble of the Hotel Montana in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, but was brought out alive after two days. Many family friends still have not been found, Etienne said, and he fears they are dead.

Reports out of Port-au-Prince are dire. Government estimates of the death toll are now up to 200,000. An estimated 150,000 people are injured, and another 1.5 million are homeless.

One fundamental of medical care is communication, Etienne said. Cultural understanding will help that process, and the communication must be two ways, he added. "The patients must understand that they have a choice," he said. "Everything must be explained to the patient, and then they make the choice. I know we're doing a service and giving aid to this country, but they are still people who have a choice, and I'm going to make sure that happens."

Haitians are fighters and have a lot of pride, Etienne said, and Americans need to understand that pride.

"I'm grateful that my mother and father moved from Haiti when they did," he said. "I'm grateful for the wonderful education that I received in the United States. And I'm particularly proud and honored that this time while serving the United States, I'm going back to serve Haiti – two countries that I've grown to know and love throughout my life. This time, I'm on a mission serving both."

Gates Seeks to Broaden India Partnership

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 18, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is slated to leave today for India to discuss the comprehensive, strategic partnership between the United States and India, and ways to expand it to provide broader regional security.

Gates is to visit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who President Barack Obama feted in late November with his administration's first state dinner.

He also is to meet with Defense Minister A.K. Antony and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell announced.

Gates last visited India in February 2008, but has interacted regularly with his counterparts there as part of the broad pattern of U.S. engagement that includes not only security, but also a range of other issues, a senior defense official told reporters.

"This is part of that broad plan to make sure that we continue to build patterns of cooperation and understand where our shared interests will lead to greater cooperation in the defense and security realm," he said.

Gates will explore with Indian leaders ways to expand the already-robust military-to-military relationship, deepen counterterrorism cooperation and bolster India's role in promoting security in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the entire South Asia region, he said.

The secretary also is expected to recognize India as a major donor in Afghanistan, funding several major reconstruction projects under way there.

The talks undoubtedly will address tensions between India and Pakistan. However, defense officials said they're gratified by both countries' growing recognition that their biggest threat is radical extremism, not each other.

Military trade is likely to be discussed, but Morrell emphasized that Gates' visit is intended to deepen relations with a growing global economic, political and security leader, not to sell weapons.

"The secretary is traveling to India because we have strong bilateral relations with that country and need to nurture and grow those," he said. "That is a priority."

Military exercises between the United States and India have increased in size and scope every year since 2002, the defense official noted.

The two armies conducted their largest joint military exercise yet in October, when 250 25th Infantry Division soldiers deployed to India with 17 Stryker combat vehicles to train with India's 7th Mechanized Infantry Battalion. In addition, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III led the Defense Planning Group, which he co-chairs, during its visit to India in early November for top-level security talks.

"The United States and India have made great strides in our defense relationships as strategic partners over the past five years. Our relationship is strong and growing," Lynn told reporters in New Delhi. "The world's two largest democracies working together on defense issues sends a powerful message."

Gates' visit marks the most senior-level engagement between the United States and India since Obama hosted Singh at the White House just before Thanksgiving. During that visit, Obama and Singh signed a memo of understanding on "Advancing Global Security and Countering Terrorism," and reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and missile and nuclear weapons technology.

"In Asia, Indian leadership is expanding prosperity and the security across the region," Obama said after meeting with Singh. "And the United States welcomes and encourages India's leadership role in helping to shape the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Asia."

Gates initially planned to travel to Australia en route to India, but postponed that visit to focus on military support for the disaster response mission in Haiti.

TRICARE Dives into Social Media to Engage Beneficiaries

January 19, 2010 – TRICARE is taking the plunge into social media to uncover what issues matter most to its beneficiaries around the world. Social media channels and networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr continue to transform how healthcare information—and information in general—is consumed by the public.

“Social media is changing the way we communicate. These powerful tools give us an opportunity to join the conversation surrounding TRICARE and military health,” said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity.

The ability to share healthcare information and receive feedback helps TRICARE identify and address beneficiary concerns. Instead of deciding what information to share with beneficiaries, TRICARE can ask for their input, identify what they want to know more about and respond accordingly.

Recommendations from service members and their families have the potential to influence policy decisions and improve overall satisfaction with military healthcare.

“We understand the value social media can bring to the organization, and we invite beneficiaries to talk to us about how we can improve their health care experience,” Hunter said.

TRICARE is active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, and is getting ready to launch a new media center Web page in March 2010. The media center will include TRICARE news and links to TRICARE’s social media channels. It will also allow beneficiaries to “share” benefit information with their friends and families online.

Before launching the new media center Web page, TRICARE wants to hear from the military men and women who use its benefits everyday. In the coming weeks TRICARE will ask beneficiaries for feedback on the issues they want to know more about through TRICARE’s Facebook, www.facebook.com/TRICARE, or Twitter account at www.twitter.com/TRICARE. Beneficiaries are also encouraged to visit www.tricare.mil/subscriptions to sign up for e-alerts about TRICARE benefits and news.