Military News

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

5,000-Bed Hospital to Increase Haitian Medical Capacity

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2010 - U.S. and international relief workers in Haiti are developing a 5,000-bed hospital in the capital of Port-au-Prince to increase medical capacity as the country struggles to recover two weeks after a devastating earthquake struck. Among other facilities, the hospital will accept patients from the floating hospital ship USNS Comfort, where more than 100 surgeries have been performed since arriving at the Haitian coast last week.

Though still some weeks away from becoming fully operational, U.S. medical equipment that will outfit the additional hospital in northern Port-au-Prince has begun to arrive, Army Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen, the top U.S. commander in Haiti, told Pentagon reporters today.

"We are anticipating to at least get the seeds of that hospital up within the next week or so, but that we'll begin small and then grow from there," Keen said via teleconference from Haiti. "We are hoping to be able to at least start with a 250-man centerpiece."

Haitian authorities have said more than 150,000 bodies have been buried in Haiti since a magnitude 7 earthquake devastated the country Jan. 12. Original estimates by the Red Cross were that upwards of 3 million Haitians were affected.

International aid continues pouring into Haiti in the midst of what an official called one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas. Among those assets is the USNS Comfort, on which U.S. medical personnel has taken aboard nearly 400 patients, performed more than 100 surgeries and filled more than 11,800 prescriptions since its Jan. 20 arrival.

Keen said the Haitian government quickly granted a request for a large piece of land -- situated near the hospital ship and also accessible by road -- that could host the 5,000-bed hospital. A principal source of the incoming patients will come from the Comfort, he added.

"We want to continue to see a flow of patients that need that critical care that the Comfort offers, and then take patients off of her that do not need that any longer, in order to maximize the utility of the Comfort," Keen said.

The general said nongovernment organizations are determining who will man the hospital once it opens its doors to patients, with the United States playing the role of advisors and assistants in what Keen characterized as a "joint venture."

"[The organizations] are responding, in terms of being able to manage the hospital and in being able to staff the hospital," he said. "We are enabling that by working with the international community to procure tinnage and all the things that you can imagine you need in order to build a hospital of that magnitude."

DoD and Army Work to Provide Psychological Health Care When It’s Needed Most

By Sarah Heynen
DCoE

January 26, 2010 - The Army is ever increasing its efforts to treat and provide continuity of care for soldiers with psychological health issues, an Army psychological health expert said at the 2010 MHS Conference Jan. 25.

“We've got a tremendous sense of mission now,” said Col. Elspeth C. Ritchie, M.D., M.P.H., psychiatry advisor to the Army surgeon general. Ritchie said that the Army has increased behavioral health providers by 50 percent since 2007.

In addition to the increase in providers, Ritchie said that the Army has and will continue to install new programs that will reach the warriors who need help, increase effective treatments for those who have already sought help, and combat the rise in suicides. The programs include using telehealth services that can treat patients through the use of video teleconferencing and Webcams.

Ritchie said that after creating innovative programs to meet the needs service members there still remains the challenge to implement the programs in a way that is effective and useful. Among the barriers to care for service members is the stigma sometimes associated with seeking psychological health care. While efforts to eliminate stigma are increasing, it is still necessary to ensure that policies are also in place that protect those service members who seek help.

As the Army increases its efforts in this arena, the Department of Defense is doing the same, said Capt. Edward Simmer, senior executive director for psychological health at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, and also a speaker at the conference.

“We must provide the best possible care in the worst possible place,” said Simmer, reminding that service members need to receive the highest quality care available in some of the most remote locations – from warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan to Reservists battling PTSD in Minnesota many miles away from a behavioral health provider. Simmer, too, suggested the use of telehealth in these circumstances.

Simmer highlighted a model for care based on “resilience, recovery and reintegration.” As service members go through the continuum of care this model provides a way to help prevent future issues, acknowledge and heal from any injury that may occur (physical or psychological), and reintegrate back into life whether from an injury or just returning from deployment.

Empowering line leaders, service members and families to take responsibility for service members' psychological health is another way to increase access to psychological health services, Simmer said. With protocols in place to enable line leaders to identify problems and make the initial intervention, warriors could get the needed help sooner. Simmer also stressed the importance of partnering with civilian health care providers to increase the number of behavioral health providers available. The DoD, along with the services, is actively working to provide warriors access to the best psychological health care available, when they need it most.

First Lady Announces Family Program Budget Boost

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2010 - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request calls for a record $8.8 billion for military family support programs, First Lady Michelle Obama told military spouses today at Bolling Air Force Base here. The request represents a 3 percent increase over current funding, she told attendees at the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives Club annual luncheon.

The budget request will include $1.3 billion to reduce shortages in military child care and ensure its quality remains high, and also increases funding for youth programs, she said.

Another provision will provide $439 million to build 10 new Department of Defense Education Activity Schools. This measure, directed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, is part of a major, five-year effort to renovate or replace 103 of the schools by 2015.

Obama emphasized the challenges military children face, and the need to ensure they're cared for.

"We cannot forget that military kids also serve in their own special way," she said. "They're just like any other child in this country – except their lives are turned upside-down every time their mom or dad is gone halfway around the world, risking their lives so that all our children can enjoy the freedoms of our democracy."

As a result, she said, military children often experience higher levels of anxiety and a higher risk of depression than their nonmilitary classmates, and a tougher time focusing at school.

"So, we can never forget just how much these wars affect our military kids, and we all have an obligation to ensure they have the support they need at home and at school," she said.

Based on input from military spouses, the fiscal 2011 budget request also will include $84 million for spousal career development, Obama said, including tuition assistance and a federal internship program.

Another provision will provide $14 million in new funding for Coast Guard housing.

"These are all major investments, and they are the result of military families speaking up and being heard," the first lady said. "They are part of a larger, ongoing commitment to care for our troops and their families after the fighting ends."

Obama said her many interactions with military families over the past year has deepened her respect and gratitude for them, and her recognition of "the spirit and strength and courage that our military families display every day."

"You put your own priorities aside. You take care of one another. You take care of this nation," she said. "So, as first lady, I can't thank you enough for that sacrifice, and I promise you that I will use every ounce of my energy to make sure that America always takes care of you."

Obama said she recognizes that providing this level of support network will require "active citizens," as well as the government, working hand in hand.

She said she will continue making it a priority to keep asking all Americans to join in supporting military families. She noted, for example, the "Mission Serve" network she and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, helped to launch on Veterans Day to bring civilian and military services groups together to help in supporting military members and their families.

"We're asking Americans to engage and support military families any way they can," she said, through job opportunities, professional services, or even babysitting or providing a home-cooked meal. "Our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice for every single one of us, and every single one of us can do something in return, even if it's as simple as saying, 'Thank you.'"

Attendees at today's luncheon said they welcomed the first lady's commitment to military families – one they noted that she has demonstrated continually since her husband entered the presidential race.

"The fact that she's shown such an interest means a lot," said Meredith Simpson, whose husband, Marine Corps Capt. Neal Simpson, is a student at the Expeditionary Warfare School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Simpson is no stranger to the challenges military families face. The couple's 3-year-old twins were born when their father was deployed to Iraq, and they were 3 months old before he met them.

Simpson said she's encouraged by Obama's emphasis on putting military families first – and by the example she credits the first lady with showing by putting her own family first. "That's very promising to me," she said.

Department of Military Affairs furlough day set for Friday, Jan. 29

January 26, 2010 - Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs (DMA) will operate on a limited basis Friday, Jan. 29, as state employees take one of 16 furlough days required for all state workers in the next two years. DMA will resume regular business hours Monday, Feb. 1.

The Department of Military Affairs includes Joint Force Headquarters-Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard, and the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management. Wisconsin National Guard federal employees are not furloughed.

Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of Wisconsin, said the Wisconsin National Guard's Joint Operations Center (JOC) and the 24-Hour Emergency Management Duty Officer System will remain fully operational. Edward Wall, WEM Administrator, has ensured that if a disaster or emergency should occur on Jan. 29, there will be staff available to respond to the scene and to work in the state Emergency Operations Center.

Pay, Medical, Family Issues Highlight Budget Request

By Donna Miles

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2010 - Recognizing the nation's responsibility to support its men and women in uniform and their families, President Barack Obama will request increased funding for military pay, housing allowances, family support programs and care for wounded warriors, White House officials said today.

The budget request, expected to be released Feb. 1, will include a 1.4 percent basic pay raise officials say is designed to keep military pay increases in line with those in the private sector. The request also will include an average housing allowance increase of 4.2 percent, as well as a variety of enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses and monthly payments for specialty skills.

Family support programs will grow 3 percent if Congress approves the request – to $8.8 billion – to support the family members who officials credit with providing the strength and stability on which the uniformed force relies.

The request will include $1.3 billion to make affordable, high-quality child care services more available at 800 military child development centers stateside and overseas. This represents an $87 million increase over fiscal 2010 funding levels, officials noted.

Expanded counseling and assistance services to be funded in the new budget will help families meet the challenges of repeated deployments and family separations, officials noted. The president will request $1.9 billion for these services, which range from financial counseling to transition and relocation assistance, up $37 million from fiscal 2010 funding.

In addition, the request will include $84 million for enhanced career and educational opportunities for military spouses through tuition assistance and federal internship programs. This represents a $12 million increase over current funding.

Another provision in the request will provide $439 million to build 10 new Department of Defense Education Activity schools. This is the first step in a Defense Department plan to replace or renovate 103 of the schools by 2015, providing military children what officials called "the world-class education they deserve," offered in "world-class facilities."

Providing high-quality medical care for more than 9.5 million servicemembers and their families and military retirees -- but especially wounded, ill and injured troops -- remains a top administration priority, officials said. Toward that end, the fiscal 2011 budget request includes support for wounded warrior transition units and centers of excellence in vision, hearing, traumatic brain injury and other areas.

Specifically, it includes: $30.9 billion overall for medical care, up 5.8 percent from current levels; $669 million to provide TBI and psychological health care; and $250 million for continued mental-health and TVI research.

The budget request also will fund more employment and job training for military spouses and veterans, officials noted. It provides $262 million for the Labor Department's Veterans Employment and Training Service, up $6 million from fiscal 2010 levels. This includes $5 million for a new initiative to help homeless women veterans and homeless families.

Another effort, to provide more employment workshops for spouses of separating servicemembers, will receive $1 million in the president's budget request.

The budget request also seeks to expand veterans' access to medical care, officials noted. Obama will request $50.6 billion in advance appropriations for the VA medical care program to ensure veterans' care isn't interrupted due to budget delays. The goal, officials explained, is to ensure VA has timely, predictable funding from year to year, so veterans can rely on the quality and accessibility of the care they receive through VA.

For the first time, highly disabled veterans who are medically retired from the military will be eligible to receive both VA disability benefits and military retirement benefits. By 2015, all medically retired servicemembers will be eligible to receive concurrent benefits, officials said.

The fiscal 2011 budget request also provides funds to continue enrolling more than 500,000 veterans with moderate income into the VA health care system by 2011.

Another measure in the request funds technology to improve the timely, high-quality delivery of health care and benefits, officials said. The Defense Department and VA are implementing the Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record – essentially an electronic medical record that will follow a servicemember from initial enlistment through retirement or separation and transition to the VA system.

The request also includes more than $200 million in automated processing to directly improve both the accuracy and timeliness of the delivery of veterans benefits – particularly disability compensation and the new Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit, officials said.

Speaking to military spouses today at the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives Club at Bolling Air Force Base here, First Lady Michelle Obama said the budget request represents a shared interest among administration officials, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, and the entire military chain of command to take care of servicemembers and their families.

"The quality of the lives of our military and their families means a great deal, because in the history of our all-volunteer forces, we've never asked so much of so few," she said. "We've seen the huge burden of eight years of war on our troops – tour after tour, year after year, missing out on moments that every parent treasures: a baby's first steps, the first words, the day the training wheels come off the bike, birthdays, anniversaries."

Obama said she's been inspired by the spirit of the men and women in uniform and the families who stand with them as they serve the nation.

"All of you – our troops and families – you do your duty, and you do it without complaint," she said. "You give your all and ask very little in return -- only that we back you up so our troops can do their job.

"That's why my husband and his administration have worked to do right by our armed forces and their families," she said, "to be there for you like you have been there for us, to lighten your load as all of you have lightened ours."

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 26, 2010

ARMY

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wisc., was awarded on Jan. 20, 2010 a $258,201,196 firm-fixed-price contract to exercise the option for 90 lots authorized stockage list kits, 90 lots of prescribed load list kits, 23 each deprocessing spare kits, and 132 lots battle damage repair kits for the mine resistant ambush protected all terrain vehicle. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wisc., (50 percent) and McConnellsburg, Pa., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012. Five bids were solicited with five bids received. TACOM, CCTA-ADC-A, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wisc., was awarded on Jan. 20, 2010 a $67,448,554 firm-fixed-price contract for the partial exercise the option for 2 lots authorized stockage list kits, 2 lots of prescribed load list kits, and 65 lots battle damage repair kits for the mine resistant ambush protected all terrain vehicle. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wisc., (50 percent) and McConnellsburg, Pa., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012. Five bids were solicited with five bids received. TACOM, CCTA-ADC-A, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111).

BAE Systems Inc., Anniston, Ala., was awarded on Jan. 20, 2010 a $29,247,535 firm-fixed-price contract for the Centralized and National Level RESET of a total of 417 M113 Family of Vehicles. Work is to be performed in Anniston, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, CCTA-AHLA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).

Lockheed Martin Corp, Missiles and fire control, grand prairie, Texas, was awarded on Jan. 22, 2010 a $44,875,596 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee for PATRIOT advanced capability – 3 (PAC-3) United Arab Emirates requirement quantities are 16 launcher mod kits and 16 motor control units. Work is to be performed in Dallas, Texas, (82.8 percent), Camden, Ark., (0.2 percent), Lufkin, Texas, (10.9 percent), Ocala, Fla., (6.1 percent). One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-09-C-0002).

Vetco Contracting Service, LLC., Watertown, N.Y., was awarded on Jan. 20, 2010 a $15,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract to design and construct a child development center. Work is to be performed at in Fort Belvoir, Va., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 30, 2011. Four bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District-Baltimore District, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity (W912DS-09-D-0007-DA01).

Watterson/Davis JV., Anchorage, Ark., was awarded on Jan. 22, 2010 a $11,231,012 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of an F22A weapons loading crew training facility, Elmendorf AFB, Ark. Work is to be performed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ark., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 13, 2011. Seven bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Alaska District, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ark., is the contracting activity (W911KB-07-D-0013).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Dec. 31, 2009 a $8,219,728 firm-fixed-price contract for the UH-60 (BLACKHAWK) for 22 each, transmission, mechanical, NSN: 1615-01-542-7514, part number: 70400-06641-201. Work is to be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, CCAM-AL-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (N00383-06-G-006F)

Northstar Huffman JV, North Olmsted, Ohio, was awarded on Jan. 22, 2010 a $6,258,000 firm-fixed-price contract to remove 400,000 cubic yards of dredged material from consolidated disposal facility 10B. Work is to be performed in Cleveland, Ohio, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 14, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 10 bids received. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Buffalo District, Buffalo, N.Y., is the contracting activity (W912P4-10-C-0001).

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., LLC., Oak Brook, Ill., was awarded on Jan. 22, 2010 a $6,233,200 firm-fixed-price contract for Jacksonville Harbor maintenance dredging, 40-foot project, Bar Cut 3 through Bar Cut 45, Duval County, Fla. Work is to be performed in Duval County, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 1, 2010. Six bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (W912EP-10-C-0016).

Raytheon Co., Marlborough, Mass., was awarded on Jan. 19, 2010 a $5,912,675 firm-fixed-price contract for air traffic navigation integration and coordination system hardware, sustainment support, II spares and engineering services. Work is to be performed in Marlborough, Mass., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 11, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Aviation and Missile Contracting Center, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-06-C-0323).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Metals USA, (DBA) 1-Solutions Group, Fort Washington, Pa., is being awarded a maximum $124,500,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, prime vendor contract for customer direct meals deliveries. Other locations of performance are throughout Pennsylvania. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies in the Western United States. There were originally five proposals solicited with two responses. This contract consists of a two year base with three one-year option periods. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is January 26, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM8EG-09-D-0013)

United Technologies, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a maximum $110,138,427 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity, sole source, corporate contract for engine lines. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Navy and Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. This modified contract is exercising the seventh option period. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Feb. 14, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., (SPM400-01-D-9405).

Propper International Inc., Mayaguez, Puerto Rico is being awarded a maximum $19,461,168 firm fixed price contract for men's and women's airman battle uniform, coats and trousers. Other locations of performance are throughout Puerto Rico. Using service is Air Force. The original proposal was Web solicited with six responses. This contract includes a base and four one-year options and represents the third option year period. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM1C1-07-D-0008).

American Apparel, Inc., Selma, Ala., is being awarded a maximum $14,046,480 firm fixed price contract for men's and women's airman battle uniform, coats and trousers. Other locations of performance are in Texas and Mississippi. Using service is Air Force. The original proposal was Web solicited with six responses. This contract includes a base and four one-year options and represents the third option year period. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jan. 31, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM1C1-07-D-0009).

AIR FORCE

CSC Applied Technologies LLC of Fort Worth, Texas was awarded a $29,513,871 contract which will provide for base operating support service at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. At this time, $25,427,428 has been obligated. 81 CONS, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is the contracting activity (FA3002-08-C-0001, A0024)

NAVY

Argon ST, Inc., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $23,838,548 firm-fixed-price contract for 28 Cerberus units and associated spares for deployment in support of operational forces abroad. Cerberus is a portable, self sustaining, integrated tower developed to provide persistent ground surveillance system for perimeter defense for the Forward Operating Bases. Work will be performed in Newington, Va., (90 percent) and Orlando, Fla., (10 percent) and is expected to be completed in December 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $20,371,498 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.3. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-10-C-0110).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Integrated Systems Sector, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded an $11,000,000 not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-07-C-0055) for autonomous aerial refueling technology maturation and demonstration activities in support of the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration. Work will be performed in El Segundo, Calif., (60 percent) and Rancho Bernardo, Calif., (40 percent), and is expected to be completed in November 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin, MS2 Division, Syracuse, N.Y., is being awarded an $8,817,539 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5201) to exercise Fiscal Year 2010 options for upgrade kits for the Navy's AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 Undersea Warfare System. The AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 is a surface ship combat system with the capabilities to search, detect, classify, localize and track undersea contacts; and to engage and evade submarines, mine-like small objects, and torpedo threats. Work will be performed in Lemont Furnace, Pa., (50 precent); Syracuse, N.Y., (25 percent); and Eagan, Minn., (25 percent) and is expected to be completed by September 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY

Intelsat General Corp., 6550 Rock Spring Drive, Suite 450, Bethesda, MD 20817-1112, was awarded a contract for the guaranteed minimum of $10 million, firm-fixed-price, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's Commercial Broadband Satellite Program on Jan. 25, 2010. The contract, with a not-to-exceed ceiling of $542.7 million, provides worldwide commercial telecommunications services to include: C, Ku, and X-band satellite resources, land earth stations, terrestrial backhauls, and bandwidth management services. The period of performance is Jan. 26, 2010 through Jan. 25, 2015 (a one-year base with four one-year options). Performance will be at various locations around the world. The solicitation was issued as a full and open competitive action. Solicitation was posted to FEDBIZOPPS. Five offers were received. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, Scott AFB Ill., is the contracting activity. Contracting point of contact is Karen E. Kincaid at 618-229-9451 (HC1013-10-D-2000).

U.S., U.K. Share History, Values in Afghanistan

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2010 - "The United States has no closer ally than the United Kingdom," Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here yesterday. The two nations have a special relationship based on history, shared values and a shared future, he said during a speech before the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic and International Security.

"Nowhere is our special relationship more apparent than in Afghanistan," he pointed out. "No one country has stood closer with us on the front lines in our fight against violent extremism -- and no country has paid so high a price in this crucial mission."

As of November, 9,000 of the United Kingdom's 150,240 soldiers were participating in NATO operations in Afghanistan. According to BBC News, 251 British military personnel have been killed during operations there, including the latest, Lance Cpl. Daniel Cooper, who was killed Jan. 24 in an explosion south of Sangin district center in Helmand province. Of those killed, 31 have died from accidents, illness or non-combat injuries, or have yet to be assigned a cause of death.

Lynn expressed the American people's deep gratitude for their service and sacrifice. "We rely greatly on the expertise and resources that you bring to the fight," he told the members of the Parliamentary group.

The U.S. deputy defense secretary arrived here the night of Jan. 24, primed to address mutual security concerns and encourage defense cooperation during his public events and one-on-one meetings with government officials. Following a meeting at the U.S. Embassy with Ambassador Louis Susman, Lynn spoke during an off-the-record session at the European Security and Defense Conference.

About 250 European diplomats, military and government officials and think-tank researchers are attending the two-day conference at Chatham House, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Next on his docket was his visit to Parliament, where he was escorted on a brief tour of the historic building by Gisela Stuart, member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston and chairwoman of the All Parliamentary Group. Following lunch in the House of Commons, Lynn addressed the need for defense cooperation to develop new capabilities to deal with unconventional threats. He also spoke of the continuing military partnership between the two nations.

"In Haiti, your military and rescue services are serving alongside ours to help make a desperate situation a little less desperate each day," he said. "Off the Horn of Africa, your Navy sails with ours to sweep the sea clear of pirates."

Turning to Afghanistan, Lynn said, British leadership has helped to solidify European resolve as the war there enters a pivotal phase.

"Your public, like ours, has grown weary of conflict," he said. "Your treasury, like ours, is under strain. And yet when President Obama asked for others to join in our renewed push for security, it was your country who first answered the call. In fact, you increased your troop presence even before the new strategy was announced."

Lynn noted that the London Conference on Afghanistan is also being held here this week, co-hosted by the British and Afghan governments. Nearly 70 delegations are attending to focus on the civilian side of the mission. Lynn said he hopes the conference will link international support with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's anti-corruption, governance and security initiatives.

The deputy defense secretary also highlighted the Afghan government's plan to announce a new program of reconciliation underwritten by the U.K.-Japan International Reintegration Fund. The program's goal is to provide "an assured and lasting means to demobilize Taliban fighters who are willing to switch sides," Lynn said.

"The London Conference is also an important opportunity for countries to fulfill their pledges of support, and for still more countries to step forward with pledges of troops," he added. A shortage of trainers to help ready Afghan security forces, he said, "is an area where we can and should do more."

Measurable progress should take place over the next 18 to 24 months, Lynn said, but he acknowledged that it's too early to judge whether momentum on the ground has shifted.

"But we are confident that the new strategy will help us reach our goal of beginning the transition to Afghan leadership and control next year," he said. "We are not in an easy fight. And 2011 is not the end. It will be the beginning of a transition to Afghan control. But a stable and secure Afghanistan, free from terrorist threat, is a goal worth fighting for -- for America, for Europe, for our partners and for Afghanistan."

Wisconsin Guard family readiness group leader to be First Lady's guest at State of Union

January 26, 2010 - Janell Kellett has found that moving forward and giving back can bring satisfaction and purpose - and a special invitation to the nation's capitol. Kellett learned last week that she had been selected to attend the State of the Union address Wednesday (Jan. 27) as the guest of First Lady Michelle Obama. Kellett will be among 23 guests, civilian and military, to sit with the First Lady as well as Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice- President Joe Biden.

"It's totally awesome," Kellett said. "If you would have told me four months ago, or even four weeks ago, that this was a possibility, I wouldn't have believed it."

Kellett's husband, Maj. Michael Hanson, recently returned from Iraq following a year-long deployment with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. While that 3,200-Soldier unit was training, mobilizing and deploying, Kellett served as the lead volunteer for the brigade's Family Readiness Group, where she coordinated the efforts of approximately 27 subordinate-unit Family Readiness Group volunteers. They launched a community service campaign called "Moving Forward, Giving Back" to bring together families of Soldiers who have deployed in the past with families experiencing their first deployment, as well as to provide a focus outside of deployment concerns.

The Wisconsin National Guard learned late last year that the 32nd Brigade's Family Readiness Group was named the best in the Army National Guard for 2009, and will be one of seven reserve component family readiness groups to receive a Department of Defense award next month.

Kellett contends that her volunteer work, both with the Family Readiness Group as well as other organizations, likely played a major role in receiving the invitation. For example, a food drive the 32nd Brigade Family Readiness Group conducted at Volk Field as Red Arrow Soldiers were returning from Iraq netted more than 2,000 pounds of food for the Mauston Food Pantry.

"Our leadership here in Wisconsin, as well as our leadership in Washington, support volunteerism and clearly support these efforts," she said. "It's a lot of hard work, but a lot of rewarding work. I truly believe our volunteers are serving the National Guard, definitely making an important contribution."

Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, agreed.

"We are very proud of Janell and grateful for her tireless efforts on behalf of the 32nd IBCT," Dunbar said. "She has a heart of gold and is the perfect choice to represent Family Readiness Group volunteers across the military.

"I am also very appreciative of the honor that the First Lady is bestowing to Janell and all volunteers who support our military family," he continued. "Clearly, our First Lady understands the importance of family support to our nation's warriors."

Kellett was nominated by Col. Steven Bensend, commander of the 32nd Brigade, as well as by Jan Van Kirk, lead volunteer for the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and by Lt. Col. Tammy Gross, director of the Wisconsin National Guard's Service Member Support Division.

She said her husband, who will watch the speech from the theater room of the White House while she is at the Capitol Building, jokes that he is the "and guest" part of the invitation. She disagreed.

"If it wasn't for him, I never would have been asked," Kellett, the only National Guard spouse to be invited, said. She described the invitation as a great honor, and said she struggled to justify why she was selected over other deserving candidates.

"At first I was excited, and then I was panicked, and then I was wondering why someone else wasn't picked," she explained. "Then I accepted that I was picked, and then I was excited again."

TRICARE Increases Behavioral Health Care Options

By Gabrielle Kirk
Health.mil

January 26, 2010 - TRICARE has made Web-based behavioral health counseling available to service members, spouses and other beneficiaries who have a computer and a Webcam, a TRICARE representative said at the Jan. 25 at the 2010 Military Health System Conference. The counseling service is called the TRICARE Assistance Program, or TRIAP, and allows beneficiaries to speak privately with a licensed counselor over the Internet at any time.

“The use of TRIAP is unlimited so beneficiaries can access it as many times as they like to,” said Rear Adm. Elizabeth Niemyer, director of TRICARE Regional Office West. Niemyer spoke in a conference session to inform on TRICARE’s recently expanded behavioral health care services that further support service members and their families.

TRIAP is more like a civilian employee assistance program, Niemyer said. If TRIAP counseling suggests that more specialized care is required, the beneficiary will be referred to a behavioral health provider. Niemyer said that most users have sought counseling for relationship issues and stress.

Niemyer stressed the importance of reaching out to and increasing the number of mental health providers in the TRICARE network. More than three million troops have been deployed in the more than eight years the U.S. has been at war, and more than 800,000 service members having been deployed more than once. The constant stress on troops and families has made behavioral health care an issue of paramount concern to military health officials. Niemyer said Tri West has added 12,000 mental health providers since 2005.

To help meet the growing demand for behavioral health care, TRICARE launched its Telemental Health Program in August 2009 (at the same time as TRIAP). It provides behavioral health care, including psychotherapy and medication management, through medically supervised, secure video conferencing at TRICARE facilities with offsite TRICARE network behavioral health care providers.

Additional support has been provided to beneficiaries who are more isolated from the military community, including National Guard and Reserve troops. The Guard and Reserve portal was created to provide targeted information to those groups of service members.

Niemyer also discussed the impact of integrating and coordination behavioral health into primary care, wounded warrior care and individual units on eliminating the stigma of seeking behavioral health care. Describing a pilot project that embedded behavioral health providers in National Guard units in Montana, Minnesota, and California, Niemyer said, “One unit commander in California was quoted as saying ‘The embedded provider program has saved marriages and our soldiers’ mental health’.”

Next for TRICARE West Region, says Niemyer, is a behavioral health initiative to examine issues experienced by female active duty service members returning from deployment and wives of deployed service members, due to rising rates of depression, suicide, and divorce in that group.

National Guard Responds to Winter Storms

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 26, 2010 - The National Guard responded to severe weather in the Dakotas and Arizona yesterday. In South Dakota – where National Guard officials said about 6,000 people were without power during strong winter storms with high wind, snow and freezing rain – Guard members set up generators at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, worked to reopen roads and prepared for search-and-rescue operations.

South Dakota's response included bulldozers and recovery vehicles staged in three cities, and personnel called up for snow removal and to tackle ice accumulations on roads and power lines.

In North Dakota, civilian media reported about 2,500 people without power. Travel was said to be virtually impossible in parts of the state, and the state's homeland security division issued a "no travel advisory."

The North Dakota National Guard assisted with aerial surveillance of power lines. Storms downed lines and poles, and the state remained under a blizzard warning. The Guard also prepared for search-and-rescue operations, snow removal, temporary shelter requirements and other missions such as providing high-wheel vehicles for transportation or helping to restore power, said Army Staff Sgt. Billie Jo Lorius, deputy public affairs officer.

The winter storm first hit the region Jan. 19.

In Arizona – with northern counties experiencing similar storms to the Dakotas and forecasters predicting more to come midweek – Guard members transported water and prepositioned trucks.

The Nevada National Guard sent CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to assist flooded communities around Flagstaff and northern Arizona.

The Navajo Indian Reservation was one area where Arizona officials anticipated aerial operations. Civilian media were reporting that the Navajo Nation president asked for assistance after snow trapped reservation residents in their homes. The National Guard assisted with the delivery of medicine, food, fuel and hay to isolated Navajo and Hopi lands.

Arizona Guard leaders said the operation might continue for up to two weeks.

While Guard members respond to the president for national emergencies and overseas operations, state governors call their Guard members up as needed.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau. Army Sgt. Monette Wesolek of the Arizona National Guard and Army Maj. Brendan Murphy of the South Dakota National Guard contributed to this report.)