Military News

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wyatt visits classic association at Fairchild


By Air Force Maj. Sandy Smock
Washington National Guard

(2/1/10) -- Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, the director of the Air National Guard, spent the day with Air Mobility Command leaders here today to observe the progress of the association between an Air Guard and active duty air refueling wing.

As part of total force integration in 2007, the Washington Air National Guard's 141st ARW and the active duty Air Force's 92nd ARW were the first Guard and active duty tanker units to stand up as a classic association. Both units now accomplish the KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling mission together.

Without an exact blueprint of this new joint mission, each day both units are faced with new challenges and have been tested in communication within the different groups.

The 141st and 92nd have worked together to develop new and more efficient processes through total force integration while sharing deployment requirements and successfully fulfilling daily operational missions.

“Integration at all levels facilitates the integration with this unit … as it will across all of the other associations,” said Wyatt.

The majority of Wyatt's time was spent in the maintenance hangars and presentations were given from commanders on the latest benefits from now collocated offices.

Even with all the building and personnel moves, working together is not a new concept for the 141st ARW and 92nd ARW. Both groups have deployed and completed missions together in the past, now they just do it under a new name of total force integration.

California, New York name new adjutant general


(2/3/10) -- Two states with a large National Guard presence have appointed a new adjutant general this week. In California, Air Force Brig. Gen. Mary J. Kight will took command as the 45th adjutant general of the state in a change of command ceremony at the Mather Field Armory in Sacramento Feb. 2.

In New York, Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Murphy was announced as the 52nd adjutant general for the nation's eighth largest National Guard today.

Kight took over for Army Maj. General William H. Wade II, who relinquished command after nearly five years as the adjutant general of the California National Guard. He will serve as the director of operations for the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy.

“Brigadier General Mary Kight is a proven, courageous, loyal and honorable leader. She has a long and distinguished history of service to our state and nation and I am proud to have her as the first female adjutant general of our military forces here in California,” said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I am confident that with her leadership, the California National Guard will continue to be fully prepared, standing ready and able to assist our local communities and our country when called upon in times of emergency.”

According to a press release, Kight has broken many barriers since entering military service October 19, 1973 as an Air Force second lieutenant. She was the California National Guard’s first female African American general officer and first female assistant adjutant general and is now the country’s first female African American state adjutant general.

“I whole-heartedly share in the governor’s commitment to public safety and ensuring that our armed forces are well-trained and equipped to provide support and assistance here in California and abroad at a moment’s notice,” said Kight. “I am honored to take on this new position serving the California National Guard as adjutant general and I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to uphold California’s military forces’ outstanding legacy of service.”

The California National Guard is an all-volunteer, operational force comprised of more than 22,000 Soldiers and Airmen. These citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have kept watch over California during times of need since their inception in 1849. More recently, the California National Guard has supported first responders during civil-support operations such as wildfires, floods and search and rescue.

Murphy, a former Iowa National Guardsman who currently serves as assistant adjutant general and the director of Joint Staff for New York, will replace Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, who will retire on Feb. 14 after 44 years of service.

"Brigadier General Murphy is an outstanding officer who brings with him a wealth of experience integrating the National Guard and active military components into State emergency and security planning, homeland defense, and anti-terrorism activities," said New York Gov. David A. Paterson. "He has played a critical role in the New York National Guard's response to flooding in Western New York, providing emergency aid to other states, and refocusing the National Guard's Joint Task Force Empire Shield into a more capable security force in New York City."

A 32-year veteran of the Army National Guard, Murphy has been responsible for the New York National Guard's state emergency and homeland security operations.

"I am honored by Governor Paterson's decision to select me to replace Major General Taluto," Murphy said. "I appreciate his confidence in me, and I look forward to working with the men and women of the New York Military Forces to continue to improve our abilities to respond when called upon by the people of New York and our nation."

As adjutant general, he will be responsible for ensuring that the 16,500 members of the New York Army and Air National Guard are prepared to deploy in combat zones on federal missions and prepared to respond to state emergencies. He will also oversee the 2,500 members of the New York Naval Militia and the 700-member New York Guard, a state-only volunteer force.

Murphy has served at Joint Forces Command and Joint Task Force - Civil Support, based at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.

After leaving Kuwait in 2007, Murphy joined the New York Army National Guard. He was recruited by Taluto because of his experience in homeland defense and security. Taluto felt that New York, and especially New York City was a likely terrorist target, and he wanted the New York National Guard to be ready.

Since then Murphy's role has been to ensure that contingency plans are in place to deploy New York Military Forces assets in support of State and domestic emergencies, oversee the National Guard's role in State Homeland security efforts, and manage joint Army and Air National Guard functions within the state's Joint Forces Headquarters. He has been responsible for coordinating with other state agencies, federal organizations and industry.

Other recent appointments to adjutant general include Air Force Brig. Gen. Gary Sayler in Idaho and Army Brig. Gen. Max Haston in Tennessee.

(Editor's Note: Eric Durr of the New York National Guard contributed to this report.)

MILTIARY CONTRACTS February 3, 2010

NAVY

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded $158,382,797 for fixed-price delivery order #0064 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-06-D-5028). This delivery order is issued against exercised priced options for the purchase of 388 logistic vehicle system replacement production cargo vehicles and 15 tractors. Work will be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., and for this delivery order, work is expected to be completed by July 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Cape Environmental Management, Inc., dba CAPE, Inc.*, Atlanta, Ga., is being awarded a maximum $60,000,000 cost-plus-award-fee contract for remedial action services at various sites within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Pacific area of responsibility (AOR). The work to be performed provides for remediation of any media contaminated by solvents, petroleum, oils, lubricants, metals, acids, bases, reactives, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides. Work will be performed at various sites predominantly in Hawaii (70 percent) and Guam (25 percent), and other areas within the NAVFAC Pacific AOR including Japan, Okinawa, Diego Garcia and other areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans (5 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed five years with an expected completion date of January 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the NAVFAC e-solicitation Web site with five proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity (N62742-10-D-1804).

Computer Sciences Corp., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded an $11,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee and firm-fixed price contract for the OCONUS Naval Enterprise Network (ONE-NET) server farm refresh designed to provide integrated data services to the fleet users overseas. The contract includes four one-year option periods which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $25,000,000. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (25 percent); Yokosuka, Japan (25 percent); Manama, Bahrain (25 percent); and Naples, Italy (25 percent). Work is expected to be completed by February 2011. If all options are exercised, work could continue until February 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce Web site, with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and two offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity (N65236-10-D-5826).

Triton Marine Construction Corp., Bremerton, Wash., is being awarded $8,186,057 for firm-fixed-price task order #0002 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62478-09-D-4018) for repair of wharves B22-B24 at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. This project will repair the wharves which have deteriorated through years of use and exposure to the marine environment. The work includes selective removal work, concrete rehabilitation, marine concrete, refurbishment of marine hardware, metal fabrications, coating of waterfront steel structures, pavement markings, oil-spill containment booms, low pressure compressed air, water distribution, sanitary sewer, exterior salt water distribution system, electrical work, and incidental related work. Work will be performed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is expected to be completed September 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Six proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity.

Arete Associates, Northridge, Calif., is being awarded a $6,000,000 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N68335-08-D-0012) for a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research project under Topic N06-002, entitled "Sea Surface Slope and Elevation Statistics to Support Radar Performance Modeling." This modification provides for the development of a capability to extract ocean surface wave slopes over a sizeable patch at a high spatial resolution using passive polarimetric sensors. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C., and is expected to be completed in March 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This Phase III contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

Spaceport Systems International, Lompoc, Calif., was awarded a $48,000,000 contract which will provide for future launch spaceport services for the Launch Test Squadron within the Space and Missile Systems Center/Space Development and Test Wing. At this time, $300,000 has been obligated. SMC/PKN, Kirtland, N.M., is the contracting activity (FA8818-10-D-0022).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., was awarded a $9,419,947 contract which will exercise an option for installation of a quantity of eight C-5 aircraft with C-5 avionics modernization program kits and 1 lot of step van maintenance under a firm fixed price effort; and under a time and material effort, Installation of the consolidated load panel avionics modernization program. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 716 AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (F33657-98-C-0006,P00233).

NorthWest Florida Contractors, Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded an $8,096,083 contract which will provide all plant, materials, labor, equipment, and all operations in connection with the construction of various reinforced concrete targets on specified test areas as shown on contract drawings, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 96 CONS/PKA, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA2823-10-D-0006).

Gates: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' to Get Broad Review

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 3, 2010 - A new panel assembled to review the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bans openly gay people from military service will consider the views of those affected throughout the chain of command, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Congress today. The review also will consider the impact of a potential policy repeal on morale, unit cohesion and retention, he said.

Gates attempted to allay concerns within the House Armed Services Committee that the working group he announced yesterday will overlook getting input about a potential policy change from the troops themselves.

If there's one thing he learned during his career -- as director of Central Intelligence, president of Texas A&M University and as defense secretary -- Gates said it was to get input from the people affected before imposing change.

"In each of those [positions], I have led and managed change. And I've done it smart, and I've done it stupid," he told lawmakers. "Happily, I think, the stupid was early. But stupid was trying to impose a policy from the top without any regard for the views of the people who were going to be affected or the people who would have to effect the policy change."

Gates said the working group, headed by Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, and Army Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, will review the full range of issues associated with a repeal to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"One of the purposes of the review that I have directed [to] be undertaken by General Ham and by Jeh Johnson is precisely so we can understand not just the views and concerns of the [service] chiefs, but of our military people and their families," he said.

"If you want lasting and effective change, you had better bring the people who are going to be affected by it into the discussion and get their views," Gates said. "At a minimum, it will help you mitigate whatever negative consequences there are."

The panel also will evaluate the impact of a policy change on military readiness and effectiveness, Gates said, including unit cohesion, morale, and retention, "so we can get some facts into this debate, or at least some data that we think is reliable and objective."

As part of that, Gates said he will ask the Rand Corporation to update its 1993 study that led to the policy's adoption, expanding the review to cover a broader range of issues.

"I think this review period is absolutely essential in terms of us understanding what we're doing; figuring out what the concerns are and the issues are, helping us figure out how to mitigate them so that if the Congress does vote to change this policy, we have an understanding of how to go about implementing in a way that minimizes whatever negative consequences there are," Gates told legislators.

"We have set the goal," he said, emphasizing that the decision ultimately will be Congress' to make.

Should Congress change the policy, Gates said, it's "vitally important" to be able to tell servicemembers that the change represents the view of the elected representatives of the United States of America. Meanwhile, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a blog posted today that he still has questions about the impact of a policy change, but that he also personally supports a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

"My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do," Mullen wrote in his blog. "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."

Mullen told Congress today he recognizes the issue is charged "with emotion and strongly held opinions and beliefs" that the panel will work through during the course of its assessment.

While declining to speak for the service chiefs, Mullen said the top concern for military leaders boils down to "the readiness and military effectiveness of the force."

Pentagon Raises Record $17 Million for CFC Campaign

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 3, 2010 - Leading all other U.S. federal agencies, the Defense Department today announced it collected $17.2 million in last year's annual federal fundraising campaign, a record-breaking sum of charitable donations to groups operating in Haiti and other areas where needs exist.

The total is $3 million more than the previous high recorded by the department since it began participating in the Combined Federal Campaign, which was established in 1961 to provide an efficient means for federal employees to choose to donate to certain charitable organizations.

At a Pentagon award ceremony Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III today commended department employees for their donations – an average of $435 per person, which reflected a 10-percent increase – in spite of a harsh economic climate in 2009.

"As the president said in his State of the Union Address, this last year has been a tough one for many people in America and around the world ... I know people had to dig deeper to give," Lynn said. "Despite the uncertainty in the economy, the men and women in the Department of Defense have come through again."

Charitable groups are listed in catalogs that paper federal workplaces when they are distributed among employees every fall. Of the thousands of organizations listed in the densely packed catalog, groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Doctors Without Borders have directly aided earthquake victims in Haiti.

"We need not look further than Haiti to see how others are living in conditions that are a world apart from those that we know," Lynn said. "And yet in Haiti, and in other places closer to home, we do not have to sit idly by."

International aid began pouring into Haiti following a magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Jan. 12, creating what an official called one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas. Estimates are that some 200,000 died in the quake, and another 150,000 were left injured.

"After a disaster, or moments of ordinary need," Lynn said, "we can use our time and our generosity to make a difference."

Nearly half of the Defense Department's workforce participated in the campaign, which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the original goal, Lynn said.

Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the deputy assistant secretary for the Army's Acquisition and Systems Management, said CFC-provided funding helps those in need, including "rebuilding a country like Haiti after a natural disaster."

"Your generosity makes things a little better," Brown told attendees at the ceremony.

Echoing Lynn, Brown also commended the department's employees for rising to the challenge amid tough economic times, before highlighting some two dozen Defense Department organizations recognized for extraordinary fundraising success.

"But 'tough times' are not words that we in the DoD worry about; we thrive on tough times ... tough times spawn tough people," Brown said.

Wisconsin National Guard to assist Haiti relief efforts

February 3, 2010 - When a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti last month, the U.S. rushed to provide assistance. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen here in Wisconsin and across the country made themselves available to provide humanitarian assistance. Beginning next week the Wisconsin National Guard will be among the relief workers.

Three members of the Wisconsin Joint Force Headquarters' Detachment 52, a C-26E fixed-wing aircraft unit, will head to Homestead Joint Air Reserve Base in Florida Feb. 9 to assume an operational airlift support mission for approximately one month. The small aircraft and crew will shuttle personnel and supplies between Florida and Haiti beginning Feb. 11.

Approximately one week later, a senior non-commissioned officer from the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard will report for a 120-day tour to provide civil engineering assistance. In addition, several other Wisconsin Guard Soldiers and Airmen have volunteered their expertise, many in response to a request for troop availability from the National Guard Bureau.

"The Wisconsin Guard is in constant communications with the National Guard Bureau, and is ready to send a wide array of Wisconsin Guard assets to Haiti," said Maj. David May, liaison officer for the state Emergency Operations Center. Wisconsin is among at least 32 other states to volunteer National Guard assets for humanitarian assistance, he added.

A total of five Soldiers from Detachment 52 will serve in the relief effort, with two Soldiers relieving part of the initial crew. While the Guard members will be on active duty orders, this is not a conventional deployment, but rather an "operational use mission."

According to Col. Jeff Paulson, director of aviation and safety for the Wisconsin National Guard, the Department of Defense frequently tasks Detachment 52 with brief missions outside the continental U.S. The DoD's Operational Support Airlift Command has command and control of the 10 C-26 units in the National Guard, one of which is in Wisconsin.

Haiti falls within the area of operations for the U.S. Southern Command, which is based in Miami. Homestead JARB is located in the Miami suburb of Homestead. Southern Command has coordinated with the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to assess how the Armed Forces may be of assistance.

Paulson said no special training is required for this particular mission.

The Wisconsin C-26 aircraft and crew will join relief efforts being conducted by thousands of military forces including Guard members from more than 20 states.

The last time the National Guard supported relief efforts in Haiti was 2008, when eight Air National Guard medical personnel were onboard the USS Kearsarge when it was diverted from its Continuing Promise mission to Haiti following Hurricane Ike.

Col. David Aycock, deputy chief of staff of operations for the Army Guard, said that the next few weeks may see a transition to reserve component units, including those from the Army Guard, taking the lead in Haiti.

"The Army has asked us to look at some alternative solutions to provide some options for either additional forces that may be required or to replace some of the forces that are already on the ground sometime in the near future," Aycock said. "My personal perspective is this thing is going to transition more and more to the reserve component-side of the house in the weeks ahead."

However, which units or types of units that would be activated have not yet been determined. "We've been asked to staff some potential options," Aycock said. "We don't have a hard requirement yet but we're looking at some organizational constructs of what we think would be the right force structure to go down there within the parameters we've been given."

Those parameters may change based on the needs on the ground and any mission plan would have to be first validated by Southern Command.

"We still have to go through the process of getting a validation from both Forces Command and Southern Command that the force mix we're working meets the requirement on the ground," Aycock said. "And we would need to put specific Army Guard solutions against that list, brief the leadership here and then engage with those states that own those units."

Budget Request Increases Wounded Warrior Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 3, 2010 - Calling health care for wounded warriors a top Defense Department priority, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged Congress today to support the request for $2.2 billion in the fiscal 2011 defense budget to improve treatment and other services. The request, up $100 million from current levels, will fund a dramatic increase in staff mental-health professionals while advancing research on traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress that have become signature wounds from Afghanistan and Iraq operations, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee.

"We know the strain of frequent deployments causes many problems, but we won't yet fully understand ... how, or to what extent," he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates underscored the department's focus on caring for wounded and ill servicemembers during a Feb. 1 Pentagon news conference in which he unveiled details of the fiscal 2011 budget request and Quadrennial Defense Review.

The budget request includes a 9 percent increase in overall health-care funding, with additional money to provide wounded warrior support to an additional 1,000 servicemembers.

As it sustains health benefits for wounded warriors and enlarges the pool of medical professionals to support them, the Defense Department will broaden electronic information sharing with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ease their transition to civilian life, Gates told reporters.

This includes a seamless transition process for wounded warriors leaving the military, and the creation of Virtual Lifetime Electronic Records that improve servicemembers' and veterans' care by ensuring their health-care providers have full access to their medical histories.

The fiscal 2011 budget request also provides funding to maintain first-rate hospitals and facilities and trained staff for the Army's Warrior Transition Units that support wounded troops and their families, defense officials noted.

It also supports improvements in the disability evaluation system, with the goal of establishing a simpler, faster and more consistent process to determine which wounded warriors may continue their military service, and helping them become as independent and self-supporting as possible.

Robert Hale, the Pentagon's comptroller and chief financial officer, told bloggers yesterday the investments represent the department's unwavering commitment to supporting its wounded warriors.

"Secretary Gates has said that, other than winning the wars themselves, nothing is more important than taking care of these brave people who have sacrificed for us," Hale said. "So taking care of people [is] our highest priority."

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, called the department's emphasis on its people – both through its budget requests and the QDR – a "strategic imperative."

"Our people are our most important pillar of America's defense," she told the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday. "And the QDR outlines a range of efforts to ensure that their needs are met, from working to ensure a more sustainable deployment tempo for our troops, to enhancing mental and physical care for our wounded warriors, to ensuring that families are cared for as they make significant sacrifices."

Singing Army Wife Meets Leno Between Recording Sessions


By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 3, 2010 - Army Capt. Matt Pratt and his songstress wife, Lisa, lived the dream in southern California Feb. 1, thanks to an Army morale and recreation program that supports soldiers and their families. Lisa Pratt earned an all-expenses-paid trip to record a three-song demonstration CD at DMI Music's Firehouse Recording Studios here after winning the 2009 Operation Rising Star singing contest. Rising Star is one of hundreds of programs the Alexandria, Va.,-based Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command provides for soldiers and their families.

After her first session in the recording studio, Pratt sang the praises of the Army Family Covenant, which supports soldiers and their families with resourced programs that deliver a quality of life commensurate with their service and sacrifice to the nation.

"The Army Family Covenant; this is what it is," Lisa said, before departing the recording studio to attend "The Jay Leno Show" in Burbank, where she got to meet one of the world's most- famous comedians.

"I never knew that Operation Rising Star was going to open all these doors for me," she said.

For Lisa, the journey to serve as an ambassador for FMWRC's Army Entertainment Division had just begun. For Matt Pratt, who redeployed from Mosul, Iraq, last autumn and accompanied his wife from Fort Carson, Colo., to Hollywood, the Operation Rising Star winner's journey reaffirmed his belief in the Army's promise to support soldiers and families.

"I'm trying to take it all in, but it's an emotional time for me because I get to see Lisa do what she absolutely loves doing," said Pratt, a 2006 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. "For the past year while I was in Iraq, she was supporting me and what I was doing. Now the Army has provided me the opportunity to sit here and support her with what she does."

Pratt never had the opportunity to sit back and watch his wife of nearly four years perform until she took the stage to compete in Operation Rising Star, a program best described as "American Idol" for the military.

"In church, I play the guitar and she sings," he said. "But to see her under the lights and me be on the receiving end as part of the audience, I'd never had the opportunity to do that.

Pratt knew that his wife had won a recording session, but he had no idea what level of professionalism awaited them in Pasadena.

"That's part of the magic. It's overwhelming to see the level that she's at and to see her basking in it. It still seems very surreal," he said.

"I asked her, 'Is this really happening?'" Pratt recalled. "And she said, 'I don't think it is.' So, I think both of us are sort of caught in some sort of hyper-reality right now."

Capt. Pratt, too, is praising the Army Family Covenant program.

"So, here we are in sunny Los Angeles right now," he said, "and the Army Family Covenant is the reason we're here, and I couldn't be more grateful."

The trip to California with his wife, Pratt said, ranks among his best-ever family experiences.

"The only thing I would compare this to, as far as the level of emotion I feel, was walking into the gym and seeing Lisa for that first time after I came back from Iraq," he said. "This is up there. It's on par with that sort of feeling of surreal. This is one of the most exciting times since Lisa and I have been together."

Pratt then sped away to drive his wife to meet Leno.

(Tim Hipps works with Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command public affairs.)

Mullen's Blog: My View on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

By Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 3, 2010 - "Over these last two months, the Chiefs and I have reviewed the fundamental premises behind 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' as well as its application in practice over the last 16 years. We understand perfectly the President's desire to see the law repealed and we owe him our best military advice about the impact this change in policy would have on the military. "While the Chiefs and I have not developed our advice, we believe that any implementation plan for a policy permitting homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed. The review group to be headed by Mr. Jeh Johnson and General Carter Ham will no doubt give us that time and an even deeper level of understanding.

"My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.

"I also believe the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change, but I do not know this for a fact. I will not deny that during a time of two wars, such a major policy change will cause some disruption in the force. It also seems plausible that there will be legal, social, and perhaps even infrastructure changes to be made. These are some of the issues our review will address.

"But we would do well to remember that this is not an issue for the military leadership to decide. The current law and policy came from the American people through their elected officials. We will continue to obey that law, and we will obey whatever legislative and executive decisions come out of this debate.

"With Afghanistan, Iraq, and significant security commitments around the globe, our plate is very full. While I believe this is an important issue, I also believe we need to be mindful as we move forward of other pressing needs in the military. What our young men and women and their families want, what they deserve, is that we listen to them and act in their best interests.

"Balance and thoughtfulness is required. It's what the President has promised us, and it's what we ask of Congress as this debate moves forward."

Kansas Air Guard Members Build Hospital in Haiti


By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Emily Alley
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 3, 2010 - The bright clothing, smiles and conversation could be taking place in any hospital lobby in the world. Patients are being admitted, treated and released. But a flurry of French and the grinding whirl of a helicopter nearby reveal the reality that this is Haiti.

A brutal sun burns over the tent, while the floor is dust and rock. The patients survived Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake. They've been flown from the USNS Comfort, the Navy's 1,000-bed floating hospital that has been deployed here. A handful of Navy translators are helping survivors to find rides back to their families.

The Comfort is working at its full operational capacity; officials say it would take a hundred more such ships to treat all of the estimated injured people in Haiti.

Meanwhile, civil engineers from the Kansas Air National Guard are expanding one of the medical triage facilities in Port-au-Prince by assembling an Expeditionary Medical Support hospital.

About 40 members of the 190th Civil Engineering Squadron from Topeka, Kan., and five members of the 184th Civil Engineering Squadron from Wichita, Kan., deployed to Haiti to build infrastructure for sustained humanitarian operations.

Many of the Guardsmen were training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when the earthquake struck Haiti. The units deployed to Haiti about two weeks later. The deployment is scheduled to last about four months.

With the hospital in place, medics will be able to ease the workload on the Comfort by performing minor surgery and 24-hour medical operations without transporting patients to the ship.

The Guardsmen also are building a helicopter landing pad to help transport more severely injured patients to and from the Comfort.

"If there's minor surgery (the patients) can get it here instead of the ship," said Lt. Commander Robert Propes, liaison officer for the Comfort.

By the end of January, the engineers had set up air conditioned tents. They plan to eventually provide showers and latrines, which have been a luxury for relief workers. There is an informal consensus at the Port-au-Prince airport that the Kansas Air National Guardsmen are already heroes for bringing those facilities.

The civil engineers could complain about the cramped living quarters, lack of showers and long workdays. They taste the dust, they wear the sun - everyone has some degree of sunburn.

But it's hard to complain when only a few feet from their camp is the city of Port-au-Prince, where the inhabitants must endure similar, or worse, conditions.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Emily Alley is serving with the Kansas Air National Guard.)

National Guard (In Federal Status) and Reserve Activated as of February 2, 2010

This week the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Air Force announced an increase. The net collective result is 474 fewer reservists activated than last week.

At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 112,004; Navy Reserve, 6,973; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 16,738; Marine Corps Reserve, 6,350; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 769. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 142,834, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found at http://www.defense.gov/news/Feb2010/d20100202ngr.pdf.

Irwin Army Community Hospital Receives a 2009 Excalibur Award

By Alison Kohler
MEDDAC Public Affairs

February 3, 2010 - A military treatment facility in central Kansas received a top U.S. Army Surgeon General’s award Jan. 28 at the Military Health System conference in National Harbor, Md.Irwin Army Community Hospital, located at Fort Riley, Kan., was selected as the recipient of the Surgeon General’s Excalibur award active component military treatment facility category for its success in improving its physical evaluation board process and decreasing the rate of returned board packets.

“The impact of this process improvement plan to soldiers and family members is they get better service,” said Mark Rivera, supervisory physical evaluation board liaison officer.

The results of the process improvement took IACH from being one of the worst MTFs in the Army for return rates to being one of the best in the Army.

“As well as this award, IACH has a successful [medical evaluation board] program. We’re in the top five for processing medical boards the last six months of fiscal year 2009,” Rivera said.

This is the first time IACH submitted a performance improvement initiative for consideration by the Office of the Surgeon General, according to Deanna Wolnik, chief of quality management in the clinical operations division.

“It is a very good feeling to have our staff's efforts recognized – especially at this level,” Wolnik said.

The process improvement began when IACH’s return rate, meaning cases submitted were rejected because of incorrect or missing data, was as high as 39 percent.

“You don’t know how frustrating it is when, back in the day, our return rate was 20 percent, 39 percent, that meant that 39 percent of the boards we sent forward had to be repeated in many cases,” Rivera said.

One of the greatest improvements to the process was improving communication, Rivera said.

“When we got a return, it wasn’t communicated to anybody so the next month we’d get a return for the same exact reason. Part of our process improvement plan was to hold after action reviews when we received a return, so we could make sure everyone was informed why it was returned and we had a plan on how to avoid repeated returns for the very same reason,” Rivera said.

Another improvement was to do a quality check, submit the case to another PEBLO for review, have the supervisor briefly review it and then send it forward, Rivera said.

“With these processes put in place, the first year we were able to reduce our returns to 5.34 percent and then the following year our return rate was actually the best in the Army,” Rivera said.

IACH consistently has maintained a return rate below the OTSG and Medical Command standard of 10 percent for the past four years.

“MEDCOM in their April 2009 (organizational inspection program) when they came down, they identified our process improvement plan as a best practice, and they also requested electronic copies of it so they could share it with other MTFs that process medical boards,” Rivera said.

“The winning of this award is prestigious and sets our hospital up as a benchmark for other facilities to emulate,” Wolnik said.

The team that worked on the process improvement was comprised of PEBLOs, MEB physicians, psychiatrists, physical therapists, patient administration division representatives, and the deputy commander for clinical services.

“They’re proud of being in the top five. They’re proud of the Excalibur award, and it’s a very good team,” Rivera said.