Military News

Thursday, March 11, 2010

General Calls Exercises Key to South Korean Defense

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - Military exercises under way are refining command and control capabilities that will be critical for the U.S. and South Korean militaries to defend against a North Korean attack, the top U.S. general here told reporters today. Army Gen. William "Skip" Sharp, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, called the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises an important step toward preparing South Korea's military to assume wartime operational control of its forces in 2012.

The exercises kicked off March 8. Official notification provided to North Korea a month ago on the exercises' timing and defensive nature generated heavy criticism and threats from Pyongyang.

Sharp declined to discuss specifics about the exercise scenarios because of what they might reveal about Combined Forces Command war plans, but he made no secret of the fact they involve North Korean aggression.

The opposing "red" force, based at Camp Casey, Korea, is "very well versed in North Korea tactics," he said, and using them against the friendly "blue" forces will create realistic scenarios.

"What we train today, what we are training for after [operational control] transition, is all the threats that we see that North Korea could throw at us," Sharp said. "We constantly evaluate what North Korea is doing, what they are saying, what they are buying. ... And we adjust our exercises and our training to account for that."

The objective, he said, is to ensure that should North Korea attack, U.S. and South Korean forces working together through Combined Forces Command are "prepared to fight and win if we had to go to war today."

Four days into the exercise, Sharp said it's building on efforts over the past year to boost intelligence sharing between Combined Forces Command and South Korea's joint chiefs of staff, and to improve their ability to interact on a "minute-by-minute basis."

This, in turn, is helping them "properly see what is going on in the war fight and be able to rapidly make the right decisions on how to react to it," he said.

The principle has been tested during the past year amid North Korean missile launches and other provocations. In each case, military leaders working together through a collaborative command and control system "saw what was going on [and] reacted as one team," Sharp said, both militarily and diplomatically.

"We, during this exercise, have done and exercised that same process, that same collaborative command and control system, that we have continued to improve over this last year, and have exercised that here as in the real war fight," he said.

The exercise pays off tactically as well, Sharp said, in preparing forces to react to a potential artillery strike from the north.

"We work every day, very hard, to make sure we are prepared to deal with the long-range artillery that sits just north of the [demilitarized zone] today that could bring a lot of destruction to Seoul," Sharp said. "We make sure we have all the intelligence in place to find and locate those artillery systems, and [that] we have fires from the air and ground prepared to destroy them if they every started firing, in order to be able to give the maximum protection to Seoul.

"We exercise that very hard in all our exercises, especially this one," Sharp said.

South Korean Army Gen. Hwang Eui-don, Combined Forces Command deputy commander, called the exercises a great way for his military to verify and refine its operations while learning tactics, techniques and procedures from the world's most advanced and combat-capable military. These lessons will prove critical in preparing the South Korean leadership to take on wartime operational control of its forces in just over two years, he said. At that point, U.S. forces will move into a supporting role.

Sharp said he has no doubts that the South Koreans will be ready to take on the broader security mission.

"I am confident we have the plans, the organizations, the systems and the processes in place to be able to be prepared and properly execute [operational control] transition on 17 April 2012," he said. "And I believe this alliance will be stronger because of that."

Official Rebuts Quadrennial Review Critics

By Jordan Reimer
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - A month after the release of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, a senior defense official directly addressed critiques of the report here yesterday. The 2010 QDR, released on Feb. 1, is a comprehensive review of Defense Department strategy and priorities and identifies several key goals for the department in the next decade.

Speaking on background at a two-day seminar on the review hosted by the National Defense University, the official said it has become a well-established tradition to criticize the QDR, the fourth published to date.

"We've learned a lot about the critiques over the years [and] how they've evolved," the official said.

Rather than condemn the QDR's critics, the official noted the importance of having opposing viewpoints to make sure the administration is aware of all possible concerns.

"The great thing about this country truly is that we have this debate and that this debate creates innovation," the official said. "It asks the hard questions, it pushes us to rethink our assumptions. I think that's critical."

Without naming specific detractors or citing specific sources, the official outlined several negative observations that the current report has generated, and presented the department's response to each.

Beginning with the assertion that the 2010 QDR doesn't provide a strategic vision or overall conceptual framework, the official said that the review process begins with a thorough assessment of the U.S. security environment through extensive interagency meetings and discussions with allies and partners.

"We wanted to have very strong strategy themes. We didn't want our QDR to be misconstrued as either about [one particular weapons system or another]," the official said. "We wanted a very clear, obvious, strategy approach to the QDR, and that's how we came to the 'prevail, prevent, prepare, and preserve' themes."

Those themes, the official said, provide a 20-year outlook for Defense Department prerogatives, as the congressional mandate for the review requires.

The official noted that criticisms sometimes are contradictory, asserting that while the QDR has strategic vision, that vision is too divorced from fiscal realities.

"You get this a lot with QDRs," the official said. "You get hit on all sides."

The 2010 report is tied closely to the budget, the official pointed out, because the preceding QDR was accused of being too separated from the budget.

"I guess we would plead guilty. ... The secretary [of defense] did indeed push the department through the program review [and] budget process to ensure that we were always linking our decisions back up to what our strategic goals were," the official stated.

Regarding the concern that the QDR is too focused on prevailing in today's conflicts at the expense of tomorrow's threats, the official said it does address future challenges by laying out several high-end threats from potential state adversaries. But more importantly, the official added, the emphasis on today's threats is warranted.

"The secretary's emphasis is right," the official asserted. "We would be irresponsible if we did not pay foremost attention to giving the support necessary to the men and women in uniform in harm's way in operational theaters today."

The official added that military planners foresee that ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not aberrations, but rather are harbingers of the types of warfare in which the U.S. will engage over the next several years.

In reference to the dual accusations that the report outlined decisions made before the process began and that its conclusions were out of line with the current administration's goals, the official stressed the unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination during the review process, both within the Defense Department and with other departments and agencies.

"All of the combatant commanders were brought into the process from the beginning, which is the first time that has occurred," the official said. The review team also "worked very closely with the national security staff to make sure we understood the president's priorities."

The official acknowledged that the QDR could not address every issue related to the Defense Department, and that in only setting forth a way ahead, the QDR leaves some issues undecided for now. However, the official added, these omissions provide opportunities for those outside of government to contribute their insights.

"For those who think we didn't do enough, challenge us to tell us what more you would do right now," the official said.

Northcom, NORAD, 'Inextricably Linked,' Commander Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command are "inextricably linked" and share an "indispensible partnership," the commander of both commands said here today. Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on the commands' missions, ranging from supporting law enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border to monitoring Russian military planes and ships off U.S. borders.

Renuart also underscored his belief that the two commands should continue to share a commander, saying the two are "inextricably linked" in their mission to protect North America.

The commands operate with an integrated headquarters staff, Renuart told the senators. "Our commands have forged an indispensible partnership operating within a common security environment," he said. "The synergies that exist between these two commands enable us to conduct our missions with a sense or urgency in the face of very real threats."

Northcom's mission is to protect the United States against any threats by air, land or sea with responsibility for Canada, Mexico, the surrounding territories, and 500 miles out at sea. The command, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, also works with civilian agencies to provide civil support against natural or manmade disasters.

NORAD is a binational U.S.-Canadian command charged with aerospace warning and control and maritime warning for North America. NORAD has flown more than 55,000 air surveillance and security missions over the Washington, D.C., area since 9/11, Renuart said. Last year, NORAD launched fighter aircraft 14 times to identify unknown aircraft operating near U.S. and Canadian airspace, said he added.

Last year, the general said, a NORAD representative was included for the first time at the U.S.-Russia Prevention of Incidents Over the High Seas staff talks. The representation is expected to continue this year "to reduce the ambiguity of Russian military flights near our borders and promote safe flight operations within the international airspace," he said.

NORAD operations in Alaska "will remain a key avenue for positive interaction with Russian military counterparts during the reset of relationships between our nations," the general added.

Russia has increased its long-range training flights, but they do not appear to be threatening, Renuart said. "We've had a couple instances in the past year where Russian planes flew too close to the Aleutian Islands," he said, adding that the Russian military is increasing its flight training after neglecting it for several years due to a weakened economy.

NORAD is developing a risk assessment as recommended by the General Accountability Office to determine the types of units, personnel and aircraft needed to maintain U.S. air sovereignty, he said.

"Day to day, we are focused on deterring, preventing and defeating attacks against the United States," Renuart said, adding that Northcom monitors an average of 12 to 20 potentially dangerous events each day.

The commands' spectrum of missions includes supporting law enforcement, particularly along the U.S.-Mexican border, but also with major events such as the 2010 Winter Olympics held last month in Vancouver, British Columbia. The commands also supported U.S. Southern Command in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Haiti in January.

Northcom shares intelligence with federal, state and local agencies to prevent attacks in the United States, exchanging liaison officers with several intelligence agencies. Following the mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in November, the command established a daily terrorism and force protection information-sharing group to improve how threats are identified, assessed and acted upon, Renuart said.

Northcom also works with the Missile Defense Agency in protecting against ballistic missile threats, Renuart said. The immediate challenge in that area is balancing a real-time defensive capability with the missile agency's requirements for research, development, testing and evaluation, he told the panel.

Asked for his opinion of the new, phased-in ballistic missile defense system, the general said he is confident in the system and that "initial indications look very promising" that it will improve U.S. defenses. A software glitch that caused a test of the system in January to fail is being fixed, and the test will be repeated "in the not-too-distant future," the general said.

Renuart noted that two of three brigades being created under his purview to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives attacks have been cancelled as a result of the Quadrennial Defense Review. Instead, he said, the one brigade in existence will grow by 700 troops, and two smaller units will operate command and control, joint reception and some lifesaving capabilities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will work with local governments in its 10 regional offices to set up locally based response units in lieu of the two additional military brigades, he said.

One of Northcom's biggest missions is to support law enforcement through its subordinate command, Joint Task Force North, which coordinated 61 missions last year, Renuart said. The task force employs joint air, ground and maritime sensors along the northern and southern U.S. borders and coasts, detects, monitors trafficking of drugs and weapons, and trains civilian border agents in military skills.

Along the Southwest U.S. border, Northcom used acoustic and fiber-optic sensors and robotics to explore, map and characterize subterranean tunnels used in trafficking, Renuart said. In the past year, Defense Department support has resulted in stopping the construction of two unfinished tunnels, he said.

Northcom has shared military lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat violence and illegal activity on the Southwest border, Renuart said. Last year, there were 7,000 drug-related murders, "mostly cartel on cartel," he said of the illegal drug trafficking operations.

"We're working aggressively to build interagency capacity to help Mexico deal with this," Renuart said. "Especially in the local police and governments, there is an element of corruption that is significant and is the means by which the cartels influence the government to leave them alone. There is a substantial effort by the Mexican government to replace them, but it takes time."

More and more, Northcom is working with Mexican servicemembers sent to replace Mexican law enforcement officers along the border, he said. Working with the Mexican military, Northcom's work resulted in more than 40 prosecutions in the past two years for people trafficking weapons, including .50-caliber weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, from the United States into Mexico, Renuart said.

"This is a hemispheric problem, and something we need to continue to work at," he said.

Humanitarian Missions Prove Skills, Flexibility

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - The military's quick humanitarian response in Haiti, then in Chile, proved the skills and compassion of servicemembers and showed how fast U.S. Southern Command's mission can change from its ongoing challenges in Latin America, Southcom's commander said here today. Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser outlined Southcom's missions to the Senate Armed Services Committee, highlighting servicemembers' work in the aftermath of the earthquake that leveled much of Haiti in January, prompting a massive international humanitarian relief effort.

"I've personally seen what these brave young men and women are capable of," said Fraser, who took over the command last year. "The men and women who deployed to Haiti performed magnificently. They were outstanding representatives of our military, displaying compassion and a sense of focus."

The magnitude 7 earthquake hit the island nation on Jan. 12, and multiple U.S. military assets were there within 24 hours, Fraser said. In total, some 22,000 U.S. servicemembers provided humanitarian support to Haiti, providing 2 million meals, 2.6 million liters of water and 17 million pounds of bulk food. And thousands of surgeries were performed on the hospital ship USNS Comfort, he said.

Less than two months later, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake devastated Chile. While the humanitarian crisis and request for assistance was not as great as in Haiti, the U.S. military again responded within 24 hours, providing critical imagery and satellite phones to the Chilean government, Fraser said.

"The tragedy in Haiti is a stark reminder of the nature of the challenges we face in the region," the general said. Southcom's emphasis on relationship-building and partnerships proved important, he said.

Beyond humanitarian responses, Southcom is focused on challenges to the stability and security of the region, including narcotics and weapons trafficking, the proliferation of gangs, competing ideologies, and the reach of Iran, Russia and China into the region, Fraser said.

"As globalization trends continue, our security will depend upon expanding cooperative engagement with multinational, multiagency and public-private partners in our hemisphere," he said. "We will be better able to meet complex challenges of the 21st century security environment by building robust, enduring partnerships now. Together, we are stronger and more effective than working as a single organization or nation operating individually."

Southcom has strong military-to-military relations with every counterpart in the region except Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, Fraser said. "I see real competition in the region for various ideologies, but I see the view of the U.S. growing, too," he told the Senate panel.

The command also tracks the flow of weapons through the region. "There's a lot headed toward Colombia right now," he said. "Most of it originates in Central America, but there also are some from the U.S. heading in that direction."

Last year, for the first time, Southcom detected a decreased amount of sea-based drug trafficking, Fraser said, noting 46 maritime movements, compared to 68 in 2008.

"From a destabilizing standpoint, my biggest concern is illicit trafficking," Fraser said. "Brazil is now the second-largest cocaine user in the world. Criminal elements spread from that." Southcom is working with U.S. Northern Command and law enforcement officials to combat the spread of illegal drugs in the region, he said.

Asked how possible ratification of the Latin America Free Trade Agreement would affect the region, the general said he thinks it would be "a very positive step forward."

"One stabilizing factor is to have a vibrant economy," he said.

Fraser noted the economic importance of the region, the United States' largest market with nearly 38 percent of U.S. trade worth about $1.5 trillion per year. The region supplies 52 percent of U.S. crude oil imports, compared to 13 percent from the Persian Gulf, Fraser said. The Panama Canal, he added, is paramount in strategic and economic importance, as nearly two-thirds of ships transiting the canal are going to or coming from a U.S. port.

Wisconsin Air Guard refueling wing conducts emergency response exercise

By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze
128th Air Refueling Wing

March 11, 2010 - As the sun rose on a chilly Saturday morning in March, two security forces team members paid vigilant attention at the front gate of the Gen. Mitchell Air National Guard base.

A silent procession of three emergency response vehicles was outbound from the base. Professionalism was evident on the Guardsmen's faces.

Lying on the side of the base-access road, near Grange Avenue, were two abandoned 55-gallon drums leaking clear fluids.

The 128th Air Refueling Wing conducted the above scenario as an emergency response exercise at 9 a.m. on March 6.

"We are required to have two terrorist-use Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive exercises every year," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Thrun, the emergency management program director.

The exercise involved the 128th ARW's Security Forces Squadron and fire department, Thrun said. The goal of the exercise was to examine the 128th's ability as a first responder in an emergency response situation, which allowed the exercise to exclude a majority of the base.

"In this instance, city personnel were only notified," Thrun said. In a real-world situation, the 128th Air Refueling Wing emergency response team would secure and cordon off the affected areas until a city HAZMAT [hazardous materials] team took control of the situation, he said.

The scenario for the exercise involved a mentally-unbalanced terrorist who used two separate chemicals in the 55-gallon drums to create a potentially deadly mixture, Thrun said.

"These are over-the-shelf items," Thrun said. "If someone bad wanted to use this, all he had to do was mix them."

Such a scenario highlights the reality that not all terrorist actions will involve complex weapons or carefully-planned attacks. Though this situation was an exercise, the threat for such an attack does exist.

"This was an incident of someone being smart enough to make this stuff, but not smart enough to appreciate his choices," Thrun said. Such exercises also have real-world applications for the 128th.

"Continuing to practice like this can ensure that we can meet these threats," Thrun said. "I know doing this helps us better prepare for it."

MILITARY CONTRACTS March 11, 2010

AIR FORCE

ADVENT Environmental, Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C. (FA8903-10-D-8602); EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., Hunt Valley, Md. (FA8903-10-D-8601); and Zapata Inc., Charlotte, N.C. (8903-10-D-8600), were awarded a $350,000,000 contract which will provide environmental support restoration and remediation. At this time, $3,000 per contract has been obligated. AFCEE/ACX, Brooks City-Base, Texas, is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications, Pittsburgh, Pa., was awarded a $6,000,000 contract which will provide support for the Air Force Flight Test Center Range System Upgrade program. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. AFFTC/PKEE, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA9302-10-D-0007).

NAVY

General Electric Aircraft Engines, Lynn, Mass., is being awarded a $326,080,865 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0088) to exercise an option for 80 F414-GE-400 engines and modules and two spare engines for the Navy. In addition, this modification provides advanced procurement funding for associated long-lead material for future F414-GE-400 engines. The F414-GE-400 engine powers the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. This modification also provides for the procurement of one engine fan module; eight engine high pressure turbine modules; 33 combuster modules; and 80 engine device kits. Work will be performed in Lynn, Mass. (49 percent); Madisonville, Ky. (21 percent); Hooksett, N.H. (12 percent); Albuquerque, N.M. (7 percent); Rutland, Vt. (5 percent); Dayton, Ohio (2 percent); Wilmington, N.C. (2 percent); Evendale, Ohio (1 percent); and Bromont, Quebec (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2012. 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.

Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, is being awarded a $47,626,804 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide technical and engineering support for software development; systems engineering; configuration management; quality assurance; logistics and life-cycle management to support unmanned systems; airspace control; maritime surveillance systems; anti-terrorist force protection surveillance systems; security systems; and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems. This five-year contract includes three 12-month award term periods for a total potential period of performance of eight years and a total potential value of $63,601,466. All work will be performed at government and contractor sites in the San Diego area, and work for the base award is expected to be completed by March 10, 2015. Contractfunds will notexpire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site and posting to the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central Web site, with one offer received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N66001-10-D-0049).

Omega Aerial Refueling Services, Inc., Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $32,438,304 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-07-D-0009) to exercise an option for contractor owned-and-operated aircraft in support of the Commercial Air Services (CAS) program. The CAS program provides aerial refueling services for the U.S. Navy, other Department of Defense and government agencies, and Foreign Military Sales aircraft. Work will be performed at various locations in the continental United States (45 percent East Coast, 35 percent West Coast) and at various locations outside the continental United States (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2011. 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.

ViaSat, Carlsbad, Calif., was awarded on March 10, 2010, a $21,470,330 firm-fixed-price contract and delivery order for Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVTs). The MIDS-LVT provides secure, high capacity, jam resistant, digital data and voice communications capability for U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army platforms. This delivery order combines purchases for the United States (68 percent); the government of Germany (11 percent); and the governments of Australia (18 percent) and South Korea (3 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Contractfunds in the amount of $1,573,644 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Work will be performed in Carlsbad, Calif. (30 percent) and in various other sites worldwide (70 percent), and is expected to be completed by Feb. 28, 2012. This contract was competitively procured via the Space and Naval Warfare Systems E-commerce Web site, with two offers received. The synopsis was released via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N00039-10-D-0032).

Data Link Solutions, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded on March 10, 2010, a $19,946,436 firm-fixed-price contract and delivery order for Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVTs). The MIDS-LVT provides secure, high capacity, jam resistant, digital data and voice communications capability for U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army platforms. This delivery order combines purchases for the United States (61 percent) and the governments of Finland (22 percent), Japan (8 percent) and Saudi Arabia (9 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Wayne, N.J. (50 percent), and Cedar Rapids, Iowa (50 percent), and is expected to be completed by Feb. 28, 2012. Contractfunds in the amount of $3,173,712 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Space and Naval Warfare Systems E-commerce Web site, with two offers received. The synopsis was released via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N00039-10-D-0031).

Guam Industrial Services, Inc., dba Guam Shipyard, Santa Rita, Guam, is being awarded a $10,404,769 firm-fixed-price contract for the civilian modification of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) submarine tender USS Frank Cable, which transferred to MSC operation on Feb. 1, 2010. The ship requires maintenance and repair, as well as modifications including the installation of equipment and systems for operation by MSC civil service mariners in keeping with U.S. merchant marine standards. The modifications are to better equip the vessel for MSC's reduced manning profile. The ship's primary mission is to provide repairs, spare parts, provisions, stores, potable water, consumables, and petroleum to the Navy's submarines and other naval forces at sea. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $15,116,641. Work will be performed at Guam Shipyard in Santa Rita, Guam, and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured; it was procured on a sole-source basis for the purposes of industrial mobilization. A pre-solicitation notice was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site in order to provide public notice of the intent to issue a sole-source contract. No other contractors expressed interest in this procurement. The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command is the contracting activity (N00033-10-C-7500).

Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, is being awarded a $6,307,064 cost-plus-incentive fee, firm-fixed-price, and cost-only contract for Tactical Mobile (TacMobile) systems engineering and technical support services. This contract will allow the Navy Carrier and Air Integration Program Office and the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence, to acquire technical services, equipment, system integration/assembly/testing, installation training, maintenance, and logistics products in support of the TacMobile program. This contract contains options which, if exercised, will bring the total estimated value of the contract to $108,164,122. Work will be performed in Charleston, S.C. (65 percent), and Patuxent River, Md. (35 percent), and work is expected to be completed December 2010. If option years are exercised under this contract, work could continue through December 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract wascompetitively procured using full and open competitive procedures via the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce Web site, with one offer received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N00039-10-C-0046).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

MedImmune Vaccines, Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., is being awarded a maximum $32,293,397 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for influenza vaccine packages. Other location of performance is Pennsylvania. Using services are U. S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is May 26, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2DP-09-D-0005).

ARMY

Alacran Contracting, LLC, Rockford, Ill., was awarded on March 09, 2010, a $13,364,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of a Combined Arms Collective Training Facility. Work is to be performed at Fort McCoy, Wis., with an estimated completion date of March 07, 2012. Bids were posted on the World Wide Web with four bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-V-004).

Alliant Techsystems Inc., Radford, Va., was awarded on March 9, 2010, an $11,902,416 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for TNT procured to MIL-DTL-248, Revision D, May 14, 2002, with Amendment 1, June 27, 2007. Work is to be performed in Radford, Va., with an estimated completion of Sept. 30, 2012. Bids were solicicted on the World Wide Web with three bids reveived. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Contracting Center, CCRC-AR, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52P1J-09-D-0017).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on March 4, 2010, a $10,365,999 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 1,401 kits for remote weapons systems crew remote operation weapons systems for Operation Enduring Freedom on the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012. Five bids were solicited with five bids received. TACOM, CCTA-ADCA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111).

Inland Dredging Co., LLC, Dyersburg, Tenn., was awarded on March 8, 2010, a $10,121,000 firm-fixed-price contract for flood control, Mississippi River and tributaries, Yazoo Basin, Mississippi, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, upper Yazoo projects, Item 7B, channel improvement. Work is to be performed in Tallahatchie County, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 10, 2010. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with four bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, Vicksburg Contracting Office, Vicksburg, Miss., is the contracting activity (W912EE-10-C-0010).

Geodetics, Inc., San Diego, was awarded on March 4, 2010, an $8,400,000 firm-fixed-price contract for real-time enhanced network global positioning systems units. This modification is to increase the order ceiling by $8,400,000 from $3,811,500 to $12,211,500. Work is to be performed in San Diego with an estimated completion date of Aug. 21, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Test & Evaluation Command, Mission Support Contracting Activity, Fort Hood, Texas, is the contracting activity (W9115U-08-D-0001).

O'Neal & Associates, Inc., Miamisburg, Ohio, was awarded on March 8, 2010, a $10,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This award exercises option for 88,313 hours of support and maintenance of the Electronic Maintenance System (EMS) next generation software. The EMS software ia a suite of web-based software modules consisting of content development, content managemant, and deployed applications currently used in thousands of Army fighting and tactical vehicles for system diagnostic troubleshooting and maintenance. Work is to be performed in Warren, Mich. (10 percent); Miamisburg, Ohio (75 percent); and National City, Calif. (15 percent), with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-C-0251).

Overland Corp., Okla., was awarded on March 9 a $9,692,700 firm-fixed-price contract for design/build of guardrails throughout Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Work is to be performed in various cities in the United States with an estimated completion date of May 19, 2011. Five bids were solicited with two bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, Okla., is the contracting actiity (W9126G-08-D-0083).

Lockheed Martin Electronics and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on March 1, 2010 a $7,559,720 firm-fixed-price contract to reset support to include inspection, refurbishment, and removal of sand, dust and foreign material intrusion to the Apache modernized and legacy target acquisition designation sight assembly and pilot night vision sensor assembly system. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, CCAM-AP-B, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-10-C-0023).

E-One, Inc., Ocala, Fla., was awarded on March 1, 2010, a $7,507,533 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 10 air rescue fire fighting vehicles; spare parts; vehicle test; diagnostic software kit; training outside of the continental United States; and deprocessing of vehicles. Work is to be performed in Ocala, Fla., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2011. One sole-source bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, CCTA-ADB-A, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-10-C-0111).

ARES Systems Group, LLC, Vicksburg, Miss., was awarded on March 9 a $6,846,241 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for threat detection alongside or approaching roadways. Work is to be performed in Alexandria, Va., with an estimated completion date of March 9, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC Contracting Office, Vicksburg, Miss., is the contracting activity (W912HZ-09-C-0097).

Whiting-Turner, Baltimore, Md., was awarded on March 5, 2010, a $6,743,000 firm-fixed-price contract for building 705 renovations, Fort Eustis, Va. Work will include renovations to administrative, classroom, and library space. Work is to be performed in Fort Eustis, Va., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. Six bids were solicited with five bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (W91236-08-D-0069).

L.R. Costanzo Co., Inc., Scranton, Pa., was awarded on March 2, 2010, a $6,265,989 firm-fixed-price contract. This procurement is for the renovation of 60,000 square feet within Tobyhanna Army Depot's existing industrial complex. Necessary improvements to existing bays include lighting upgrades, power upgrades, HVAC, crane, and other modification necessary based on the large weapons systems at issue. Work is to be performed in Tobyhanna Army Depot, Tobyhanna, Pa., with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2010. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with seven bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Baltimore, Md., is the contracting activity (W912DR-10-C-0073).

Mechanical Equipment, Inc., Covington, La., was awarded on March 5, 2010, a $6,619,001 firm-fixed-price contract for a requirement contract of an estimated 154 lightweight water purifiers. Work is to be performed in Sugar Land, Texas, with an estimated completion date of March 4, 2015. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with six bids received. TACOM Contracting Center, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-10-D-0002).

Luna Innovations, Inc., Roanoke, Va., was awarded on March 8, 2010, a $5,982,218 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding Luna Inovations to develop an independent suite of tools to verify that Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) bit streams can be trusted and contain only that functionality in the design implementation; nothing more and nothing less. They will also develop tools to authenticate that the target FPGA hardware has not been substitited within the supply chain. Work is to be performed in Roanoke, Va., with an estimated completion date of March 7, 2010. Bids were solicited via Broad Agency Announcement with 30 bids received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-08-C-0007).

Sundt Construction, Inc., Tempe, Ariz., was awarded on March 4, 2010, a $5,520,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This task order is consisting of providing materials, equipment, and labor for the construction of the Combat Aviation Brigade Hot Refuel Facility at Fort Bliss, Texas, which includes clearing and grubbing; earthwork; site work; concrete roadway paving; storm drainage systems; water distribution systems; sanitary sewer collection system; concrete fueling apron and taxiways; airfield and roadway striping and marking; airfield electrical; fueling control building; above ground storage tanks; fuel piping systems; electrical distribution systems and duct banks; communication duct bank system; erosion control; temporary access roadways; traffic control; signage; and other items specified in the contract documents. Work is to be performed in El Paso, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. Five bids were solicited with two bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District, Fort Worth, Texas, is the contracting activity (W9126G-09-D-0004).

Flag Officer Announcement

March 11, 2010 - Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nominations:

Navy Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command and Commander, Fifth Fleet, in Bahrain. Fox is currently serving ascommander, Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Fallon, Nev.

Navy Rear Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as commander, Seventh Fleet, Yokosuka, Japan. Van Buskirk is currently serving as deputy and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

General Officer Announcement

March 11, 2010 - Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as director, Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5; Senior Member, U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Military Staff Committee, Washington, D.C. Jacoby is currently serving as the commanding general, I Corps and Fort Lewis/deputy commander for Operations, U.S. Forces-Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq.

Flag Officer Assignments

March 11, 2010 - Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the following assignments:

Rear Adm. (lower half) Michael J. Browne will be assigned as director, Personal Readiness and Community Support Branch, N135, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Browne is currently serving as deputy chief engineer, Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.

Capt. Clinton F. Faison III, who has been selected for promotion to Rear Adm. (lower half), will be assigned as commander, Navy Medicine West/commander, Naval Medical Center, San Diego. Faison is currently serving as deputy chief, Medical Operations, M3/5, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Donald E. Gaddis will be assigned as program executive officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs, Washington, D.C. Gaddis is currently serving as commander, Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division/assistant commander for research and engineering, Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Michael H. Mittelman, who has been selected for promotion to Rear Adm., will be assigned as fleet surgeon, U.S. Pacific Fleet/command surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii. Mittleman is currently serving as command surgeon, Joint Forces Command/medical advisor to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Norfolk, Va.

Rear Adm. (lower half) William M. Roberts will be assigned as fleet surgeon, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va. Roberts is currently serving as director, Medical Resources, Plans, and Policy Division, N931, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Alton L. Stocks will be assigned as commander, Navy Medicine East/commander, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va. Stocks is currently serving as fleet surgeon, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.

Many Pieces Come Together for 'Key Resolve'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - With a major threat immediately to their north, the South Korean military and U.S. forces based here recognize the need to be, in the words of their top commander, "prepared to fight and win if we had to go to war today." Yet, Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, along with his troops at United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea, recognize that conducting major field exercises here is no easy task.

Training areas are limited, so it's impossible to conduct live training with large-scale forces. Meanwhile, traffic congestion inhibits troop movements to and from training areas, and political and environmental sensitivities always come into play.

The solution? It's under way now, as Combined Forces Command in Korea conducts Key Resolve 2010, one of the world's largest simulated exercises. The only larger one, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, takes place in South Korea every August.

"If you measure the exercise in terms of the level of effort, the number of sites, the number of simulations, the number of work stations, the magnitude of the exercise command and control system and so forth, there is no other exercise that comes close to what we do here," said Jude Shea, director of the Korea Battle Simulation Center at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan.

This year's Key Resolve kicked off March 8 to drill Combined Forces Command's command and staff procedures, and ultimately, its ability to defend South Korea against an attack.

The exercise overcomes training constraints by combining live, virtual and constructive training.

Live training, Shea explained, involves real people, out under field conditions, using real equipment. Virtual training involves real people operating in simulators with the same characteristics as real systems, but using computer-generated scenarios. In constructive training, simulated people use simulated equipment housed in computer models and simulations.

Bringing these three methods into play is a massive undertaking – one that involves thousands of participants, modeling work stations and computer systems at dozens of sites throughout South Korea, as well as Japan and the United States.

The training focuses on two basic training audiences from the U.S. and South Korean militaries, Shea explained. "Players" operate from wartime command posts under tactical conditions, issuing operational plans, orders and directives to the "gamers."

The gamers, based in simulation centers throughout South Korea, translate that information into computer orders.

As the friendly forces operate during the exercise, a constructive 600-member opposing force goes through essentially the same process, with no competitive edge.

"One of the things we work very hard to accomplish is to not provide the players with any more information in this exercise than we would expect them to have in the real world," Shea said. "So on both sides, [the] red side and blue side, there is fog of war, there is friction, there is some information that is not correct -- just as it would be in real warfare."

The participants are left to "sort through that, and try and figure out what is correct, and react to it," Shea said.

The tension that results – with both sides fighting to win -- gets played out in simulated combat. It determines which side wins, at least at the tactical level, and assesses casualties, equipment damage and other outcomes, Shea said.

That information is fed back to the gamers, who relay it to the players, starting the cycle all over again.

As this process takes place, other behind-the-scenes participants facilitate the exercise, Shea explained. Controllers regulate the exercise to make sure training objectives can be met. Observers posted with the players and gamers monitor their actions to help develop after-action reports.

The Combined Battle Simulation Center, collocated with the U.S.-Korea Battle Simulation Center, serves as the exercise hub. The operational force is based at another simulation facility, the Warrior Training Center at Camp Casey.

Several other simulation organizations are participating in the exercise, Shea said. These include the Korea Air Simulation Center on Osan Air Base and South Korea's Army Battle Command Training Program in Daejeon. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force's Tactical Exercise Control Group, based at Camp Courtney in Okinawa, Japan, also is involved

In addition, various sites throughout South Korea and the United States are serving as model host sites, Shea said. Walker Center at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan is hosting the ground and intelligence models, with a backup intelligence model at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Air models for the exercise are being hosted at Osan Air Base, and the naval models, at a temporary simulation center set up at a South Korean navy base in Cheong Hae.

Meanwhile, Fort Lee, Va., is hosting the logistics model, and Shriever Air Force Base, Colo., hosts the space mode.

A wide-area communications network links these far-flung participants during the exercise. "By the use of modern communications technology, we are able to link all of these sites and many others together, so we are virtually all located in the same work space," Shea said.

Four days into Key Resolve 2010, Sharp offered rave reviews about the training realism being offered, particularly in promoting command and control collaboration and senior decision-making capabilities. He also expressed appreciation of all that was involved in setting up and running an exercise of Key Resolve's magnitude.

It reaffirms what Sharp called the top priority for members of Combined Forces Korea, whether during exercises like Key Resolve, or as they carry out their mission every day.

That, he said, is to be ready to defend South Korea against aggression at a moment's notice, "prepared to fight and win if we had to go to war today."

"Whether it be at this top theater level, like you are observing during this exercise, or down to the individual soldier level, where they are learning how to fire their weapons, and at every level in between, we train every day to be prepared to execute our mission here," he said.

Joint Fighter Faces Critical Period, Official Says


By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - Contracting for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, touted as the future backbone of U.S. air superiority, must be brought in line with budget realities to make the aircraft affordable again, a defense official said today. Key manufacturing and testing milestones are expected for the fighter between now and 2011, Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"The next two years will be critical ones for the joint strike fighter," Carter said, "with the delivery of test aircraft, ... completion and analysis of hundreds of test flights, and commencement of flight training."

Pentagon and defense industry officials made efforts last week to explain adjustments made in the wake of a Defense Department study last year that found the development phase of the revolutionary aircraft had slipped by 30 months. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates took measures to reduce the lag time to 13 months, officials said.

Early last month, Gates announced the restructuring of the program -- the most expensive acquisition in U.S. military history -- with the objective of restoring the development program schedule.

Carter, in a phone interview last week, said he was able to report to program partners, including the prime contractor Lockheed Martin, that Gates' modifications provided the program a realistic plan instead of one that was "blindly optimistic" or "fatalistic."

The stealthy, supersonic F-35 will replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and eight international partners.

The Defense Department report showed the program was taking longer and costing more than either the government's development office or the contractor had predicted, said Carter, who emphasized that the review turned up no major technological or manufacturing problems.

"This schedule and cost trend was unacceptable for the taxpayers of the U.S. and for the other eight nations," he said in the interview last week. "The schedule slip was estimated at 30 months in the development program. The cost of the airplanes had grown since 2002, and for a variety of reasons, the JSF program would breach the Nunn-McCurdy threshold."

The Nunn-McCurdy law requires that Congress be notified of a cost growth of more than 15 percent in a program. It also calls for cancellation of programs for which total cost grew by more than 25 percent over the original estimate.

"We didn't wait for the Nunn-McCurdy paperwork to play out," Carter said. "We began to review and restructure the JSF program as though it were already in Nunn-McCurdy breach, and the results of that review and restructuring were subsequently described by Gates."

Carter reiterated to lawmakers today that reports last showed the program failed to meet expectations, and described management measures put in place to increase oversight of the program.

"Studies conducted over the past year indicate that the JSF program fell short of expectations and must be restored to affordability and a stable schedule," he told senators.

Gates elevated the position of the JSF program executive to three-star rank, which Carter said reflected a need for experienced and vigorous management. The executive primarily will focus on three phases of the contract life: the developmental test program, the ramp-up to full production and Nunn-McCurdy cost concerns.

"I pledge that we will keep this committee fully and promptly informed of this program's progress. We will also keep our international partners fully and promptly informed," Carter said. "The program will benefit from the fresh eyes and experienced managerial hand of a three-star program executive officer."

First Female Military Pilots Get Congressional Gold Medal


By Air Force Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - The first female military pilots received the Congressional Gold Medal yesterday at a ceremony in the Capitol. Almost 70 years ago, the Women Airforce Service Pilots were disbanded with little fanfare. This ceremony was a way to make things right for the trailblazers, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said at the ceremony. "As a result of your conviction and your devotion to duty, from that time onward, women would forever be a part of United States military aviation," Donley said.

More than 200 WASPs attended the event, many of them wearing their World War II-era uniforms. The audience, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted was one of the largest ever in the Capitol and too large to fit into Emancipation Hall, also included their families, as well as the families of WASPs who have died or couldn't travel.

Military members from every branch of service served as escorts for the veterans. For Air Force 1st Lt. Sarah Reich, escorting WASP Janet Lee Hutchison to the ceremony was "one of the greatest experiences" of her life.

"The past couple of days with Janet have changed my life," said Reich, an Air National Guard communications officer. "She told me, 'I have never known fear; everything is an adventure,' and I'll take that lesson with me forever. Her story as a WASP is just amazing."

The process to approve the Congressional Gold Medal was introduced and approved in record time last year. The bipartisan effort was led by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, as well as Reps. Susan Davis of California and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. All four elected officials spoke at the event.

Deanie Parrish, associate director of Wings Across America, accepted the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the WASPs. Along with Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell presented the medal.

Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole Malachowski, the first female pilot in the Air Force's air demonstration squadron, was instrumental in shaping the bill to honor and recognize the WASPs. She also spoke at the ceremony.

"Today is the day when the WASPs will make history once again," Malachowski said. "If you spend any time at all talking to these wonderful women, you'll notice how humble and gracious and selfless they all are. Their motives for wanting to fly airplanes all those years ago wasn't for fame or glory or recognition. They simply had a passion to take what gifts they had and use them to help defend not only America, but the entire free world, from tyranny.

"And they let no one get in their way," she added.

Of the more than 1,100 women who volunteered and flew every fighter, bomber, transport and trainer aircraft in the inventory 68 years ago, only about 300 are still alive.

Betty Wall Strohfus, a WASP from Minnesota, was one of the women who "just had to be here for this." She flew the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-26 Marauder bombers, as well as the P-39 Airacobra fighter.

"It's almost unbelievable. We never thought this day would come," she said. "We were all just so grateful to have the opportunity to fly. But this was just such a lovely ceremony and so nice for all these people to come out for us."

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award Congress can present to a civilian or group of civilians. Past honorees include the Navajo Code Talkers in 2000 and Tuskegee Airmen in 2006.

Each WASP received a smaller version of the medal to keep. The original medal will be donated to the Smithsonian Institution for display later this year with the "Women in Aviation" display at its Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

(Air Force Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski serves in the Secretary of the Air Force public affairs office.)

National Guard Program Boosts Africa Command

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

March 11, 2010 - The National Guard's State Partnership Program is a superb tool for U.S. Africa Command, the command's top military officer told a congressional committee March 9. "The benefits ... are many and impressive," Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward said in his 2010 posture statement presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The State Partnership Program started with U.S. European Command partners in 1993 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Eucom spawned Africom in 2007, and now eight National Guard states are partnered with African nations. State partnerships foster military-to-military, military-to-civilian and civilian-to-civilian cooperation.

"The [program] delivers programs and activities that build broad capabilities with our African partners," Ward told the committee. "The habitual relationships this builds adds tremendous value to our efforts. This program is very valuable to [Africom], and we look forward to expanding it as our African partners request greater participation."

Ward's area of responsibility is three and a half times the size of the continental United States. Africa includes 53 countries that are home to a billion people who speak 1,000 languages, and its population growth rate is the world's highest.

The National Guard's State Partnership Program is one piece of a joint approach to Africa that starts with the vision of the president and his state and defense secretaries reflected in the combatant command's strategy and mission. Speaking in Ghana last year, President Barack Obama said the United States has four priorities: supporting strong and sustainable democracies and good governance; fostering sustained economic growth and development; increasing access to quality health and education; and helping to prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict.

Ward urged funding and further development of programs such as the State Partnership Program in his testimony. "The United States achieves its greatest effect when all U.S. government agencies work collaboratively in applying the tools of diplomacy, development and defense to meet our national security objectives," he said.

Current National Guard pairings in Africa are: California with Nigeria; Michigan with Liberia; New York with South Africa; North Carolina with Botswana; North Dakota with Ghana; Utah with Morocco; Vermont with Senegal; and Wyoming with Tunisia.

Conflict, violent extremism, narcotics trafficking, piracy, disease and economic development are among issues Africom tackles on the continent.

"The United States and our African partners have strong mutual interests in promoting security and stability on the continent of Africa," Ward said. "The more the countries of Africa work together, the greater the likelihood that the continent will achieve lasting stability. ... Increasing African partner capability to identify and interdict threats emanating from the continent enhances the security of the ... homeland.

"Enhancing the capacity of African forces ... allows the United States to use its forces for other operations," he added.

National Guard states offer a smorgasbord of experience ranging from tackling the consequences of natural and manmade disasters to training and maintaining a professional noncommissioned officer corps.

The Utah Guard provides KC-135 Stratotankers and personnel for African Lion, an annual Marine Corps-led exercise with Morocco. Tennessee, which does not have an African partner yet, works with Nigeria to rebuild C-130 Hercules aircraft. Wyoming helps Tunisia use radar for border patrol missions. North Carolina shows Botswana how modular airborne firefighting systems can fight range fires that threaten that nation's wealth of wildlife.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Gates Comments on Tanker Competition, Other Issues

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - The recently released request for proposals for the Air Force's next-generation tanker aircraft was fair, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today, and he expressed disappointment that Northrop-Grumman has withdrawn from the competition for the $35 billion contract. Gates also talked about military retention and the proper mix of military members, career civil servants and contractors during a question-and-answer period with servicemembers of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Earlier this week, Northrop-Grumman announced it would not compete to build the KC-X tanker, leaving the field to Boeing. "I wish that we had had a competition; I wish that both companies had stayed in it," the secretary said at the town hall-style meeting that included many tanker pilots and crews. "I think the request for proposals that the Air Force sent out was fair and balanced and was based on Air Force requirements."

Gates promised the airmen that the Defense Department will "certainly be sharpening our pencil when it comes to negotiating with Boeing."

The newest of the Air Force's current KC-135 tanker aircraft now in service were built in the 1960s, and Gates said the program would experience no more delays. "The bottom line: I don't see any reason for this outcome to bring any further delays to a long-delayed program," he said.

The secretary addressed a question about the right size and mixture of the department's manpower. One of his first acts upon becoming secretary in December 2006 was to recommend to then-President George W. Bush that the Army and Marine Corps increase in size. "I came to the job with the view that the Army and the Marine Corps didn't have enough troops to carry out all the missions they were being asked to perform," he said.

Since those permanent increases were approved, Gates said, he has asked for and received permission for further temporary increases in the Army.

But the Navy and Air Force were having problems, also. "I had been in the job just a few months when I realized that both the Navy and the Air Force were basically trying to pay for their modernization by cutting people and personnel costs," he said. "So in 2007, I froze further reductions in the Air Force. The service had been headed for 316,000, and I stopped it at 330,000."

That freeze brought to light a philosophical priority for the secretary. "I think that the men and women in uniform are the country's most strategic asset and, frankly, if I'm given a choice between some equipment and having the professionals to do this job, I'll choose the latter," he said.

The secretary said he also was concerned about too many government-unique functions being done by contractors, and he used pilot training as an example. Basic pilot training learning to fly a Cessna – doesn't require an experienced F-15 pilot as an instructor. "But when you get beyond that, you ought to have someone who has military and combat experience," he said.

The secretary also looked at contractors doing inherently governmental jobs on the civilian side of the department. Contractors were monitoring government contractors, and Gates recommended that function come back under civil-service control.

"In contracting, we're going to convert 10,000 acquisition contract jobs to permanent civil servants who belong to the Department of Defense, and are only looking out for the Department of Defense and not their home company," he said. "Then we will add another 10,000 civil servants to that." Overall, the Defense Department will convert tens of thousands of contractor professional services and management support jobs to civil servants as well.

"This is not disparaging to contractors," Gates said. "We need them, and we have an important partnership with them in many places, but we kind of let it get out of control, in my view. I think we're beginning to get our arms around the problem by making better choices about what's done by people in uniform, what's done by career civil servants and what's done by contractors."

Personnel matters of other sorts concern him, too, he said.

"Most people in America don't realize – and probably many in the Pentagon don't realize -- that the Air Force has been at war for 18 or 19 years – since the first Gulf War," Gates said. "Another concern that I had when I took this job is that when it comes to the reserve components, we might have pulled a bait-and-switch on people, particularly [noncommissioned officers] and officers that joined before 9/11 and joined a reserve component that was a strategic reserve, not an operational reserve." But airmen who joined the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve after the 9/11 attacks clearly understand the requirements of that service, Gates noted. He said that so far retention in all components has not been a problem.

The secretary told the servicemembers he would like to see more "dwell time" at home stations between deployments, and that the services are moving in that direction. The Marine Corps is now up to about one year deployed and 1.7 years at home. The surge into Afghanistan probably has slowed the Army's progress, he acknowledged, "but they're still at about 15 months at home to a year deployed, and headed toward 18 or 19 months by the end of this year or the beginning of the next," he said.

Gates pledged that all services will keep a sharp eye on retention and the tools and incentives the department uses to manage the force.

Army Releases February Suicide Data

The Army released suicide data today for the month of February. Among active-duty soldiers, there were 14 potential suicides: one has been confirmed as suicide, and 13 remain under investigation. For January, the Army reported 12 potential suicides among active duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, two have been confirmed as suicides, and ten remain under investigation.

During February, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were five potential suicides: all five remain under investigation. For January, among that same group, there were 15 potential suicides. Of those, seven were confirmed as suicides and eight are pending determination of the manner of death.

"In our continuing efforts to sharpen our current focus on suicide prevention, we are conducting a comprehensive review of existing programs Army-wide, related to health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention," said Col. Chris Philbrick, director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "We will use the results of this review to increase the effectiveness of our efforts."

"Because suicide affects every member of our Army family and no one is immune to depression, anxiety and stress; we are also expanding our training resources and support programs to address these issues with our Department of the Army civilians and family members," Philbrick said.

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

Mortuary Airman Cares for Personal Effects


By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - Air Force Master Sgt. Tracy Bailey painstakingly cleans jewelry each day, putting the shine on cherished wedding bands and polishing gold and silver chains. She is meticulous in her work, buffing and polishing every inch of every item -- all while knowing this jewelry may never be worn again.

As noncommissioned officer in charge of the personal effects section of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center here, it's Bailey's job to clean the personal belongings that arrive with a servicemember's remains.

"These items are going to be the last things the family will have of their loved one," Bailey said. "We strive to do the best we can for them."

Bailey's job starts when fallen servicemember arrives at the port mortuary, where the remains of all U.S. servicemembers who died in support of a combat operation are prepared for final disposition. She or a member of her staff inventories every personal belonging, from rings and necklaces to the miscellaneous papers most wallets contain. These are the items the servicemember had been carrying or wearing at the time of death.

"Servicemembers can carry only a very limited amount of things with them in the field," Bailey said. "So I'm getting a glimpse at what the most important items to them at the time were."

Using an assortment of tools, Bailey and her staff meticulously clean every item, from polishing a wedding band or necklace to pounding out a bent dog tag. Their job is to restore the items to the best condition possible, Bailey said.

The sentimental items, such as wedding bands and dog tags, are placed in a velvet jewelry bag and handed over to the escort who will accompany the body home. The escort personally will turn the items over to the person authorized to receive the effects.

Other items are sent to the Joint Personal Effects Depot at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where they are joined with other personal effects from the fallen servicemember's living quarters. Ultimately, a summary courts officer will be appointed and charged with returning all of the personal effects to the family.

Bailey said she gains a snapshot of a servicemember's life by piecing together the items she receives, whether it's a tattered family photo tucked into a well-worn wallet, a young child's drawing that had been kept close at hand in a parent's uniform pocket, or a list of songs the servicemember had been planning to download.

It's those types of items that get to her the most, she said.

"It affects you; you can't say it doesn't," she acknowledged. "But you have to be a strong type of person to be here. You can't let it impede your mission because of the importance for family members."

Employment Program to Resume for Enrolled Spouses

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program, commonly known as MyCAA, will resume March 13 for the more than 136,000 spouses who already have established an account, the defense official who heads up the program announced today. Officials announced a temporary halt in the program Feb. 18, pending a top-to-bottom review, after a six-fold spike in enrollments in January, a surge that overwhelmed the system and caused the program to nearly reach its budget threshold.

"We made a commitment to our military spouses when they established a career advancement account, and we will be true to our promises," said Tommy T. Thomas, deputy undersecretary of defense for the Pentagon's office of military community and family policy.

The Defense Department will resume the program for the 136,583 military spouses currently in the program at noon EDT March 13, Thomas said.

"We sincerely apologize to our military spouses for the added burden caused by the pause in operation," he added.

While the program will resume for enrolled spouses, new MyCAA accounts or financial assistance applications will not be accepted yet, Thomas said, noting that the comprehensive review of the program still is under way.

"We are working hard to adjust the program to meet the demands of the MyCAA program and to arrive at a long-term solution for military spouses who would like to establish an account," he said. "Until that time, we encourage spouses to consult with the MyCAA career counselors who can provide career exploration, assessment, employment readiness and career search assistance."

The top-to-bottom review includes procedures, financial assistance documents and the overall program, which is intended to provide military spouses with opportunities to pursue portable careers in high-demand, high-growth occupations.

The program has been growing in popularity since its inception March 2, 2009. Enrollments had been increasing at a rate of about 10,000 a month, and in January, the number spiked to 70,000.

"We had very little time to react to that," Thomas said. "I make no excuses for that. We should have done a better job of notifying our military spouses." Thomas said he will work hard to restore the confidence lost when the program was halted.

"We certainly know we have lost some confidence, and we want to rebuild that confidence," he said. "We will restore that faith hopefully by one, restoring the program, and two, having appropriate resources to ensure everyone that applies for the program receives the appropriate financial assistance.

"We appreciate what [spouses] do, and we hope that through this, that once we get this program back on track, that we don't lose any ... spouses," he continued. "We value and treasure everything you do each and every day, not only for the Department of Defense, but for this nation."

Thomas said he will ensure the lines of communication stay open in the days ahead. An e-mail has been sent to all program participants, informing them of the program's resumption, and spouses will see the announcement letter when they log on to their MyCAA accounts. A "media blitz" of information will precede any announcement that applies to all military spouses, he vowed.

"We don't want to make the mistake we made in the beginning, and that is not notifying you what's going on," Thomas said. "We want to make absolutely sure that you understand that we're working in your best interest."

In the meantime, Thomas urged spouses to be wary of questionable Web sites enticing them with employment opportunities.

"Stay the course with us and allow us to work this to finality by restoring the program," he said. "We will make every effort possible to ensure we educate you and get the necessary funds to continue this program."

Along with MyCAA counselors, spouses also can request free career counseling through Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 or at http://militaryonesource.com/.

DOD Resumes Military Career Spouse Program

March 11, 2010 - The Department of Defense announced today the resumption of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account – MyCAA – program. Beginning March 13 at 12 p.m. EST, the 136,583 military spouses who are currently enrolled in the program will once again be able to receive tuition assistance.

"We made a commitment to our military spouses when they established a career advancement account and we will be true to our promises," said Tommy Thomas, deputy under secretary of defense, military community and family policy.

The first phase of the reinstated program will enable the department to continue to pay up to $6,000 in tuition assistance for spouses currently enrolled. The department is working hard to adjust and meet the demands of the program and develop a long-term solution for spouses not yet enrolled who would like to establish an account.

The program was launched March 2, 2009, to assist military spouses in attaining portable careers in high-demand, high-growth occupations. An unexpected spike in enrollment prompted the Defense Department to pause the program on Feb. 16. A thorough review began immediately to assure the program was accomplishing its intended goals.

"When we determined that an operational pause in the program was critically needed, we failed to notify our spouses in a timely and appropriate manner," said Thomas. "As a result of our failure, we know we will have to work hard to restore their faith in us. We are committed to earning that trust through improved communication and by delivering services."

The Defense Department is currently developing options for the long-term management of the program and expect to be able to announce the details soon. Until new accounts can be created, Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Consultants will continue to be available to provide education and training, career exploration, assessment, employment readiness and career search assistance.

Gates Meets With Troops in Southwest Asia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 11, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has served eight presidents, and he shared some of his insights into that experience today with U.S. servicemembers here. Gates spoke to members of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing and attached units during a town hall-style meeting, and provided his insights when a sergeant asked him about differences he's noticed while serving two presidents as defense secretary.

Gates served in the Air Force in 1967 and then went into the Central Intelligence Agency, where he rose to be the director of central intelligence. During that time, he also served at the National Security Council.

"I've worked for eight presidents, and I've known seven of them," Gates said. "One thing that always struck me is I don't think the American people really appreciate how much every single one of them gives of himself to the country."

People can agree or disagree with the politics of the presidents, the secretary said, but "every single president I've worked for has made decisions on the basis of what he thought was best for the country, and not for his electoral prospects, regardless of what commentators on the outside say. I've watched them."

The same is true of President Barack Obama, Gates said. He acknowledged the president had not served in the military, but said he does not see that as a handicap. Most of the presidents who had served were young when they were in the military, he noted, and weren't in a position to broadly view the Defense Department or the world. Most of the presidents who were in the military, he added, left the service when they still were at a junior level.

"So there's really nothing that can prepare a president for the responsibilities that he has in terms of ordering men and women to war," Gates said. "And it's as true of [former President] George H.W. Bush, who was a decorated veteran, as it is of those who haven't served at all."

Each commander in chief takes his military responsibility seriously, "and it weighs on every single one of them," Gates said.

The secretary noted that the nation has been in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for his entire tenure as defense secretary. "I don't think anything prepares you for that," he said, "whether you are the secretary or the president."

Each president has a deep sense of obligation to servicemembers, the secretary said. "I must say in the case of President Obama, this is a president who in the last 14 months as ordered 62,000 more Americans into Afghanistan," he said. "If that's not someone behaving like a wartime president, I don't know what is."

In answer to another question, Gates also defended Congress. Differences exist in the legislative branch about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he acknowledged. But when it comes to supporting men and women in uniform and giving them the equipment they need, he said, "Congress has voted every single dollar I've asked it for, and in some cases, more."

The secretary pointed to the speedy fielding of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles as an example of congressional support.

"The Congress voted every dollar I've asked them to," said Gates, noting there are 15,000 regular MRAPs now in theater. "We're going to get about 6,000 or 7,000 more of the vehicles adapted for Afghanistan," he added.

The MRAP program "was never in the budget," Gates continued, and it "was never in the future-year defense plan."

The Congress, the secretary said, voted "more than $30 billion to protect the lives and limbs of American men and women in uniform."

"So, [give] credit where credit is due," he said."

Gates said he thinks Americans have learned at least one lesson from the U.S. experience in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s: the Congress and the American people have been able since then to differentiate between their views on the war and on the warrior. "The good news is there's just tremendous support for the warrior, and for veterans as well," he said.

Texas trains with Czech public affairs officers


By Staff Sgt. Daniel Griego
Texas National Guard

(3/10/10) -- Scientist and inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said, "Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds." For the military public affairs practitioners of Texas, Chile, The Czech Republic, Puerto Rico and various U.S. states, this cooperation came in the form of the annual Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Conference.

Held Feb. 23-24, this international event presented a remarkable opportunity for military experts to share their experiences and values with each other in an open workshop environment.

“Our state public affairs conference gives us the opportunity to meet and become familiar with our colleagues,” said Col. William Meehan, State Public Affairs Officer. “We share experiences, best practices and the knowledge that during crisis operations, we will already have worked together as a team.”

"Communication is what we do," said Chief Master Sgt. Gonda E. Moncada of the Texas public affairs office. "The importance of doing that right cannot be overstated. Coming together this week with other communicators from other states and countries gave us the opportunity to hone our skills and benchmark those ideas that have worked for others."

Activities for the two-day conference included public affairs presentations from the representatives, future mission planning, and discussions on the role of public affairs in military operations. Sharing creative briefings and video projects, the participants all learned new things about their international brethren.

"What I find interesting," said Capt. Jan ŠULC, public affairs officer for the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, "is that you are able to make the message serious but you can deal with it in a funny way and that's perfect. You will find the audience this way."

It wasn't all classroom discussion, as day two offered attendees a special tour of the Texas Military Forces Joint Operations Center via two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Throughout the conference, all participants came to learn that they had more in common in their military roles than they initially thought.

"The most important for me," said ŠULC, "is we are working on the same issues and we find similar challenges. You need to deal with internal public. You need to show how we are here for the public."

"Our job, our mission, is to help them," said Lt. Col. Pablo Müller Barberia, public affairs officer for the Department of Communications - Army, in Santiago, Chile. "We give peace, security and defense."

The conference, which capitalizes on the State Partnership Program pairing Texas and the Czech Republic in 1993 and Texas with Chile in May of 2009, reinforces the established strong bonds of training and cooperation.

In their almost 17 years of partnership, Texas and the Czech Republic have shared host duties, training opportunities and troop commitments in such exercises as medical certifications, combat instruction and F-16 aircraft demonstrations.

"I got to network with more public affairs professionals in my field," said Staff Sgt. Luis E. Orengo, Operations NCO for the 113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. Orengo also serves as the public affairs specialist for the Puerto Rican National Guard, working directly for the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico.

"I'm very glad," said Orengo. "Having this kind of experience that bonds us together gives us also the freedom of mind to do our stuff and you have somebody to rely on. If I have a problem now, I have the confidence to call Col. Meehan or anybody here."

Attendees, during their week-long stay in the country, also got the opportunity to explore central and south Texas, visiting Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio.

"It's a good experience for me," said Müller. "This my first time in Austin; it's a great city."

"First time for me not only in Texas, but also the U.S.A.," said ŠULC. "It was really beneficial for me."

Having enjoyed the journey and contacts made, our international partners look forward to sending their peers and comrades to future goodwill events.

"I think that it will also be important for my colleagues," said ŠULC, "to have the chance to come next time."

With fresh contacts made and old friendships renewed,this year's conference successfully sustained the benevolent relationships that will only continue to grow.

"We were delighted to welcome our State Partnership Program partners from Chile and the Czech Republic," said Moncada, "and hope that they enjoyed themselves as much as we did."

Sharing medical ideas during Botswana workshop

By Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Africa

(3/6/10) - Lt. Col. Rick Vatt, an officer from the North Carolina Air National Guard and U.S. Army Africa's Maj. Terry Clark and Sgt. 1st Class Roddy Rieger spent the last week of January sharing medical information in Gaborone, Botswana.

"Our intent was to familiarize the Botswana Defense Force with U.S. Army ways to care for casualties under tactical conditions and the roles of first responders," Clark said. "In turn, we learned a lot from the BDF about their medical capabilities."

Roughly two dozen BDF officers and noncommissioned officers took part, to include physicians, nurses, medics, logistical officers and aviation officers. To set up the event, the U.S. team worked closely with Lt. Col. Chris Wyatt and Maj. Syd Shinn, U.S. military officers assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone.

Brig. Gen. George M. Tlhalerwa, chief of staff for BDF land forces, welcomed the team upon their arrival. Then the medics set to work. Learning went both ways, Clark said.

After an initial U.S. briefing, a BDF officer explained his army's healthcare system. Being that it was the first time U.S. Army Africa and Botswana shared a medical event, it was important to understand each other's backgrounds, Clark said.

"We requested the BDF briefing to better understand their capabilities and their vision for the future development of their medical corps," Clark said. "That quickly established what information would best assist them in their efforts."

During the workshop, the U.S. Soldiers discussed force health protection, the levels of care ranging from battlefield treatment to aid stations and back to stateside military hospitals, the makeup of U.S. Army medical units and how medical units are staffed.

Rieger discussed career progression for U.S. Army NCOs in the medical field. Then he offered an overview of U.S. Army medical gear, combat lifesaving skills and the role of aviation in evacuations. The talks became more in-depth as the team covered trauma care and tactical casualty evacuations

"The BDF then offered us a tour of their medical clinic, which helped us better understand their current capabilities," Rieger said.

The BDF also shared their experiences from anti-poaching assignments and peacekeeping missions, Rieger said. The BDF wants to create its own first responder course to provide further medical capabilities for its troops. Future partnership events could involve U.S. Army medics offering guidance during the development of a first responder course and taking part in medical exercises in Botswana. The BDF is also interested in building a blood supply system, improving medical logistics and learning more about preventative medicine, Clark said.

"This was a great opportunity for both U.S. Army Africa and the BDF to build a relationship that can lead to future events in the medical field," Clark said.