Thursday, March 18, 2010

Defense Department Prepares for Recruiting Challenges

By Jordan Reimer
American Forces Press Service

March 18, 2010 - Despite historic recruitment rates since the end of the military draft, the Defense Department continues to take measures to ensure prolonged recruitment successes, a senior Pentagon official informed Congress yesterday. Several challenges loom ahead, particularly in the eligibility of potential recruits, Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in written testimony submitted to the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on military personnel.

"I do not take our recent success for granted, nor do I assume the current environment will continue," Stanley said.

In fiscal 2009, for the first time in the history of the all-volunteer force, all four military services and all six reserve components reached their recruiting targets in quantity and quality. All active components also met their retention goals.

These trends have continued through the current fiscal year and are expected to do so, Stanley said.

The economic downturn is partially responsible for this success, he acknowledged, but he added that officials noted a renewed interest in military service as a large contributing factor. A 2007 Army survey demonstrated that 40 percent of new recruits cited patriotism as their primary reason for enlistment.

However, these factors lessen, but do not alleviate, the challenges to maintain recruiting levels," Stanley told the panel.

Of particular concern to defense officials is the eligibility of American youth to serve in the military. Obesity is the most prominent disqualifying factor, along with other medical issues, drug or alcohol abuse, low aptitude, criminal misbehavior, and having too many dependents. Expected economic recovery and high school graduates choosing to go directly to college also affect recruitment rates, Stanley said.

Combining disqualifiers, including college attendance, only 15 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are both available and qualified for military service, defense officials said.

Despite these concerns, Stanley said, the military remains committed to end "Stop Loss," a program that permits involuntary extension of a servicemember's active-duty contract. The Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have ended the policy, and the Army is on track to phase it out by March 2011. In the meantime, two retroactive payments have been enacted for members whose service was extended since September 2001.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department must ensure a steady supply of experienced recruiters to prevent a "boom or bust" recruiting cycle, Stanley said. The military currently fields more than 15,000 active-duty recruiters.

"These recruiters often are the sole representative of our military forces in local communities, and they have both my and the department's most sincere respect and gratitude," he said.

Another factor that greatly assists recruiting efforts is the Post-9/11 GI Bill, implemented in August, Stanley said. Of particular note was a provision servicemembers had long sought to transfer the bill's education benefits to their immediate families. The new law is the most extensive restructuring of education benefits for servicemembers since the original GI Bill.

"The [bill] should enhance our recruiting efforts even more," Stanley said, adding that it will play a crucial role in retention, as well.

Military Women

Gates Notes Contributions of Military Women

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

March 18, 2010 - The nation depends upon women, both military and civilian, at all levels of the Defense Department, from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan to the upper echelons of military command, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. Gates traced the evolving role of women in the Defense Department, from the Revolutionary War through today, during remarks at the Pentagon's Women's History Month observance.

"For over 230 years, American women have served with distinction on the battlefield," he said, "even when they have had to do so in secret."

Gates cited the example of Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to enlist in the Revolutionary War and was wounded twice during battles with British forces. After the war, Sampson was given a $4 annual pension, he said, noting that "a dollar went further in those days."

In World War II, more than 300,000 women volunteered for service, and about 1,000 Women Airforce Service Pilots, known as WASPs, flew more than 60 million miles in nearly every type of aircraft and role, he said. These women, however, were denied benefits until 1977.

Earlier this month, WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their wartime service, a "belated recognition of the debt that we owe these and many other patriotic women," Gates said.

Moving to the present, Gates noted the importance of women to the nation's current conflicts.

"Since 9/11, women have served everywhere and are critical to our war effort," he said.

Gates described the heroism of Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown. In 2007, Brown was serving as a medic in Afghanistan's Paktia province when her convoy was ambushed by insurgents. She braved mortar and small-arms fire to aid soldiers wounded by a homemade bomb. Brown is credited with saving the lives of five soldiers, he said, and was awarded the Silver Star for her selfless actions.

Gates also noted the contributions of women at the highest levels of military command.

"They are quietly leading large, diverse institutions with honor, integrity and skill," he said. Gates said he had the privilege of promoting the U.S. military's first female four-star general, Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, two years ago.

"General Dunwoody now leads the 66,000 men and women of Army Materiel Command, providing critical supplies and support to our military forces around the world," he said.

Gates praised the nation's civilian leaders as well. Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, is the first woman with undersecretary rank in the Defense Department, he said, and Christine Fox is the first female director of the cost assessment and program evaluation office.

"All of these women, and many here in this audience, have volunteered to serve our nation during times of great peril both past and present," the secretary said. "Their example teaches us to persevere in the face of adversity and also to realize that all Americans willing to serve can make magnificent contributions."

Following the secretary's remarks, Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole M.E. Malachowski, the first female member of the Air Force Thunderbirds, expressed her admiration for her predecessors in military aviation. She credits WASPs as the inspiration for her own career.

"These World War II vanguards moved everybody forward, unknowingly shaping the environment that I would inherit and generations of other women military aviators," she said.

"Countless military women like me are part of this vanguard, advancing, changing and shaping our environment," she continued. "We are the greatest military in the world because we combine our unique gifts, women and men alike."

She thanked her predecessors for teaching modern military women the valuable lesson that "women can love their country too and that many of us choose to show it by wearing our nation's uniform."



Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Irvine, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5405); Harper Construction Co., Inc., San Diego, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5406); Barnhart, Inc., San Diego, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5407); Sundt Construction, Inc., Tempe, Ariz. (N62473-10-D-5408); RQ Construction, Inc., Carlsbad, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5409); R. A. Burch Construction Co., Inc., Ramona, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5410); Solpac Construction, Inc., dba Soltek Pacific Construction Co., San Diego, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5411); T. B. Penick & Sons, Inc., San Diego, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5412); and Clark Construction Group - California, LP, Costa Mesa, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5413), are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple-award construction contract for commercial and institutional building construction at various locations predominantly within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest area of responsibility (AOR). The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all nine contracts combined is $900,000,000. Hensel Phelps Construction Co. is being awarded task order 0001 at $5,775,000 for the design and construction of an industrial machine shop facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, Calif. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by December 2010. All work will be performed at various federal sites within the NAVFAC Southwest AOR including, but not limited to, Southern California (94 percent), Arizona (5 percent), and New Mexico (1 percent). The term of the contracts is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of March 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with 54 proposals received. These nine contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contracts. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Simulation, Training and Support, Orlando, Fla., is being awarded an $83,305,442 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to design, develop, fabricate, integrate, and test the electronic Consolidated Automated Support System. In addition, this provides for the procurement of 14 engineering development models during the system design and development phase of the contract. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla. (61 percent); Hunt Valley, Md. (26 percent); North Reading, Mass.(12 percent); and Reston, Va. (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals; three offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-10-C-0225).

AECOM Technical Services, Inc., Raleigh, N.C., is being awarded a maximum $30,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity architect-engineering contract for utilities design and engineering services for projects located at Marine Corps installations at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Work performed includes utility infrastructure design projects; providing/replacing/upgrading sanitary collection and treatment systems; potable water supply, treatment, and distribution systems; stormwater collection and conveyance systems; installation of security fencing and entry control facilities; installation/repair of shoreline erosion control measures; design of new and resurfacing of existing airfields, roads, and parking lots; performing property and topographic surveys; and facility site work to include demolition, underground storage tank removal, layout, and site preparation. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, N.C. (75 percent), and Havelock, N.C. (25 percent), and is expected to be completed by March 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with 28 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N40085-10-D-5313).

Mikros Systems Corp.*, Fort Washington, Pa.,is being awarded a maximum amount $25,959,991 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of adaptive diagnostic electronic portable test sets that will be used by technicians to maintain, calibrate and diagnose problems with complex electronic radar systems. Work will be performed in Fort Washington, Pa. (90 percent), and various other locations (10 percent), and is expected be completed by September 2015. Contract funds willnot expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research action; one offer was received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-10-D-GR63).

Raytheon Network Centric Systems, St. Petersburg, Fla., is being awarded a $13,680,670 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5202) for the design agent and engineering services for the cooperative engagement capability (CEC) system. This contract combines purchases for the Navy (97 percent) and the government of the United Kingdom (3 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Largo, Fla. (80 percent); St. Petersburg, Fla. (19 percent); and Dallas, Texas (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Ocean Systems Engineering Corp., Oceanside, Calif., is being awarded $9,034,935 for task order # 0068 under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-A-9020). The scope of this effort is to provide on-going engineering, technical, acquisition, administrative, and management support to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Command and Control Systems Program Management Office; and a liaison representative on-site at Communications-Electronics Command, Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications Tactical, Project Manager Battle Command. This statement of work includes Combat Operations Center; MAGTF command and control combat operations center capability blocks 2010 and 2012; joint tactical common operational picture workstation; target location designation handoff system; advanced field artillery tactical data system; blue force situational awareness family of systems; joint interface control officer support system; and potential technology insertion opportunities under the science and technology transition office. The programs require support through all phases of the acquisition cycle. Work will be performed in Quantico, Va., and is expected to be completed in March 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $4,458,469 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $7,873,660 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-02-C-3002) for the development, fabrication, and qualification of a polymer matrix composite drag brace for use on the main landing gear on the F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft. Work will be performed in Helmond, the Netherlands (67 percent), and Ft. Worth, Texas (33 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2014. 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.

P&S Construction, Inc.*, Lowell, Mass., is being awarded a $6,257,000 firm-fixed-price contract for main gate security improvements at Naval Weapons Station Earle. Work includes gate access realignment; reinforced fencing; new security fencing surrounding the guardhouse area; new hardened guard house; base-wide alarm duress system; site lighting; permanent vehicle inspection shelter with closed circuit television; undercarriage video surveillance equipment; permanent passive security barriers; two active pop-up vehicle barriers; new connector road to explosive ordnance disposal; demolition of existing pass and identification office; construction of new pass and identification office within a new inspection facility; and 54 parking spaces. The contract also contains one unexercised option which, if exercised, would increase cumulative contract value to $6,276,950. Work will be performed in Colts Neck, N.J., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site with 16 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N40085-10-C-9441).


Boeing Co., Long Beach, Calif., was awarded a $272,581,553 contract which will exercise FY10 third quarter option contract line items for the C17 Globemaster III sustainment partnership contract. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 330 ASW, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8614-04-C-2004, P00525).


Kentucky Bioprocessing, LLC, is being awarded a $17,900,500 other transaction/technology investment agreement for developing a proof-of-concept platform capable of yielding a purified vaccine candidate using a whole plant-based process. Work will be performed in Owensboro, Ky., and is expected to be completed in March 2011. Funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. A solicitation was issued via Federal Business Opportunities on March 6, 2009; more than 25 bids were received. The contracting activity is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va. (HR0011-10-3-0004).


Disc-O-Bed, LP, Duluth, Ga., was awarded on March 16, 2010, a $12,000,000 firm-fixed-fee contract to procure bunk beds with foot lockers and spare parts. The original estimated dollar value was $1,000,000. This action is to increase the amount of this indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity to $12,000,000. Work is to be performed in Duluth, Ga., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 3, 2013. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. RDECOM Contracting Center, Natick Contracting Division, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W58P05-08-D-0015).

Arete Associates, Northridge, Calif., was awarded on March 17, 2010, a $7,810,252 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The program seeks to develop advanced technologies to provide superior situational awareness to war fighters operating in maritime environments. Work is to be performed in Arlington, Va. (76.6 percent); Tucson, Ariz. (9.9 percent); North Billerica, Mass. (4.9 percent); and various other locations (8.9 percent), with an estimated completion date of June 16, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-10-C-0006).

NextiraOne Federal, LLC, Herndon, Va., was awarded on March 12, 2010, a $6,954,688 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. This project manager, network service center performance work statement addresses the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program effort to engineer, furnish, install, secure, test, document, migrate, and cutover a turn-key solution to upgrade the existing infrastructure and facilities at Germany 3C (Hohenfels). Work is to be performed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with an estimated completion date of June 12, 2011. Ten bids were solicited with ten bids received. Army Contracting Command, National Capitol Regional Contracting Center, Alexandria, Va., is the contracting activity (W91QUZ-06-D-0027-0005).

Senators Salute National Guard's Value

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

March 18, 2010 - U.S. senators applauded the National Guard's domestic and overseas contributions at a Capitol Hill breakfast today. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and Missouri Sen. Christopher S. Bond co-hosted the 2010 Senate National Guard Caucus Breakfast, which also included newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a current Army Guard lieutenant colonel, who joked that he needs to get a haircut before he attends his monthly drill with the Massachusetts National Guard this weekend.

"The National Guard is a tremendous instrument for smart power," Bond said.

Smart power refers to the use of both soft and hard power.

"We must use what has been called smart power he full range of tools at our disposal iplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at her 2009 confirmation hearing.

Caucus members heard from Guard officials about the work of National Guard agribusiness development teams in Afghanistan. The teams combine Guard members' civilian-acquired skills with their military training to help Afghans improve agricultural practices.

"To defeat the insurgents the radical extremists who want to destroy us and our way of life we have not only to provide military force, ... but we need to bring along the ability to help countries like Afghanistan develop a good economy where young people can get a profitable job and not have to rely on getting $25 from some terrorist to plant [a roadside bomb]," Bond said. "Smart power is beginning to work."

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, told senators about his pride in the Air Guard's contributions to hard power.

The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan is commanded by Air Force Brig. Gen. Guy M. Walsh, a Maryland National Guard member. He is the first Air National Guard officer to command a wing during combat.

Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, gave senators and their staffs a snapshot of Guard operations within the last month.

The National Guard stood by for a possible tsunami in Hawaii after the Chilean earthquake. Guard members continue to help Haitians in the wake of their earthquake, and the Guard is responding to flood threats in North Dakota and Minnesota. More than 53,400 Guard members are currently deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, the Sinai Desert and elsewhere.

Guard members also are furthering state partnerships with 63 countries worldwide. They are running counter-drug operations and pressing toward graduating the 100,000th high school dropout through the Youth ChalleNGe Program that offers a second chance at a better life.

"There's little the National Guard cannot achieve, and we're so proud of what it does nationwide," Bond said. When the United States went after terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard was there, he added, as it was during the response to Hurricane Katrina and various floods, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters.

Leahy said Guard members deserve the best. He urged communities where deployed Guard members live to pitch in with yard work, babysitting and other help for families left behind. "If you know a family member of a National Guard member, offer to help," he said.

"With the families behind the Guardsmen, we can do anything, and will do anything," Brown added.

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

U.S.-Japan Relations Remain Strong, Official Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

March 18, 2010 - U.S. military relations with Japan remain strong despite disagreements over basing and other aspects of the bilateral security agreement, the Pentagon's head of East Asian relations said here yesterday. The strength of U.S.-Japan security relations can be seen in the totality of its 50-year relationship and progress moving forward, Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Japan's desire to relocate U.S. Marines on Okinawa, the government's recent halt of refueling operations in the Indian Ocean and other disagreements do not match deeper challenges the alliance faced in years past and have not prevented the two countries from moving forward, Schiffer said in prepared testimony to the committee.

Public support for the alliance is high in both countries, and bilateral relations are strong on nuclear nonproliferation and missile defense, reconstruction in Afghanistan and stability in Pakistan, counter-piracy efforts and preserving open sea lines of communication, Schiffer said.

The Japanese government "has made clear its commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance, as well as to principles of transparency and accountability in a vibrant democracy," he said. "By working patiently and persistently through areas of disagreement, we will ensure the continued expansion and strengthening of our relationship, even as core commitments remain unshaken."

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who was elected in September, has said he will resolve by May the years-long debate about relocating Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Schiffer said. He reiterated the U.S. position that the base should stay on Okinawa.

"The only readily deployable U.S. ground forces between Hawaii and India are the U.S. Marines located on Okinawa," Schiffer said. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Unit has a broader role than responding to military contingencies in the area, he said, noting that they led the U.S. effort to respond to natural disasters in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Burma.

At the same time, existing U.S.-Japanese agreements call for more joint training between the two militaries on Okinawa and Guam, and for co-location of air and missile defense commands at Yokota Air Base and the Ground Self-Defense Force's Central Readiness Force with a transformed U.S. Army command and control structure, Schiffer said.

"Forces who have established ingrained patterns of cooperation, deep friendships, and a better understanding of each other's plans and decision-making processes will be better equipped to respond with speed and efficiency in a crisis situation," he said. Schiffer noted other progress, most importantly strengthened ties in the trilateral relationship among the United States, Japan and South Korea. He also cited Japan's contribution of four Aegis destroyers for ballistic-missile defense for the region, its collaboration with the United States on the land-based missile-defense system planned for Europe, and its assistance with humanitarian relief to Haiti and other areas.

Moving forward, Schiffer said, the United States hopes Japan will provide more funding for its defense, relax restrictions on its military operations, and continue its support in broader Asia and in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Much more will be required of Japan and our alliance in the coming months and years," he said. "I am confident that Japan will continue to step up and find ways to do more. It will do so not because the United States asks it to, but rather because Japan has interests at stake, responsibilities to bear, and the capacity to make a difference."

Illinois Guard helps prepare Polish army for Afghanistan

By Capt. Sonie L. Munson
Army News Service

(3/16/10) -- The phrase "train as we fight" is applicable across the Army and around the world, and it was the standard during the recent training exercise here at Bukowka Barracks March 4-10.

Bagram VII is a joint training exercise, which included members of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 18th Engineer Brigade, the Joint Forces Headquarters of the Illinois National Guard, the Polish 2nd Mechanized Corps and the Joint Multi-National Simulations Center Grafenwoehr.

These agencies worked together to prepare and certify the 1st Polish Armored Brigade and Soldiers from the Illinois National Guard for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

During the opening ceremony, Polish army Maj. Gen. Zbigniew Glowienka, the exercise director and commander of the Polish 2nd Mech. Corps, said the exercise's aim was to ensure that the Task Force White Eagle's headquarters is prepared for International Security Assistance Force operations in Afghanistan.

During the exercise, the unit will be tested for combat for the first time using Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulations, Glowienka added.

Bagram VII was the seventh readiness exercise to certify the Polish task force is ready for its six-month rotation to Afghanistan. However, there were a lot of firsts during the exercise.

Some of these firsts included the use of simulation platforms provided by the Joint Multi-National Simulations Center Grafenwoehr, the use of the 18th Engineering Brigade as the higher headquarters and the embedding of Soldiers from the Illinois National Guard, who will deploy with the 1st Polish Armored Brigade to Afghanistan.

The Joint Multi-National Simulations Center Grafenwoehr assisted the exercise by providing all the simulation systems free of charge, including JCATS, Blue Force Tracker, Command Post of the Future and Unmanned Aerial Simulation Systems. These simulation systems provided the task force with the ability to respond to numerous scenarios, which better tested the task force's tactical operations procedures.

When Polish army Lt. Col. Piotr Fajkowski, B Battle Group commander, 1st Polish Armored Brigade, was asked what the hardest part of Bagram VII was, he said, "to learn the systems and to compare what information it provided. But it was nice to learn the systems we will use in theater step-by-step before our deployment."

The 18th Engineering Brigade, with members of the Illinois National Guard and the Polish 2nd Mech. Corps, made the exercise even more realistic by role-playing Combined Joint Task Force-East, the unit the task force will report to in Afghanistan.

During the exercise, the 18th monitored how Task Force White Eagle responded to the scenarios, from tactical operations to responding to the civilian populous and the local media.

"Our mission is twofold: to ensure Task Force White Eagle receives the most realistic training possible and to build a positive relationship with our Polish allies," said Col. Paul M. Paolozzi, the 18th brigade commander.

This was accomplished by selecting subject matter experts from the brigade in areas such as operations, logistics, intelligence, signal, interpreters and public affairs, resulting in relevant training and a new lasting relationship with the 2nd Mechanized Corps and Task Force White Eagle.

"We are one team, not Polish or American Soldiers," said Polish army Maj. Stanislaw Koppczynski, the chief of the Tactical Operation Center for Polish Land Forces.

This exercise and the upcoming deployment is the first time in the 17-year relationship between the Illinois National Guard and the Polish army where National Guard Soldiers will embed with Task Force White Eagle during its six-month rotation.

"Partnering with the Polish army is a vital part of our mission success and being allowed to train prior to deployment together will allow us to be mission effective once we reach Afghanistan," said Cpt. Tim Newman, the battle captain for Task Force White Eagle, from Plainfield, Ill.

U.S. Military Support Continues in Chile

By Christen N. McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 18, 2010 - U.S. military support to relief efforts in Chile continues in the wake of a magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck the country Feb. 27.

"U.S. military personnel have been working with local and international responders to provide relief to the hard-hit areas," Air Force Col. Byron Mathewson, commander of U.S. military forces deployed to Chile, said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable yesterday.

Shortly after the earthquake, the Chilean government requested support from the U.S. military, which provided two C-130 transport aircraft, naval assessment experts and an expeditionary medical support team.

"They needed help with some specific challenges," Mathewson said. The U.S. team began operations March 7.

The C-130s were brought in to augment the Chilean air force's air bridge of relief supplies. In seven days, the colonel said, the U.S. team completed 17 missions and flew more than 37 hours evacuating 205 Chileans and moving more than 300,000 pounds of cargo in support of the relief efforts.

"The airmen worked closely with the Chilean air force throughout their deployment to integrate into their flight schedule and move the appropriate cargo and passengers," Mathewson said.

U.S. Navy experts also provided the Chilean navy with assessments of the shipyard and naval base at Talcahuano. The team, composed of 12 sailors and civilians from various commands, was able to provide damage assessment and determine what capabilities were needed to repair the base and the shipyard.

"They were quickly able to integrate with the Chilean navy's assessment teams, providing a fresh set of eyes and offering their expertise," Mathewson said.

One of the larger tasks in Chile was building a mobile hospital in the city of Angol after one of the major regional hospitals was deemed structurally unsound.

"Prior to that expeditionary hospital's completion, local Chilean medics treated members of the local community in a small clinic or referred them to a nearby hospital some 40 miles away," he said.

Air Force expeditionary medical support airmen and members of the Chilean army built a new mobile hospital for the community in three-and-a-half days. The hospital is equipped to provide surgical, primary care, pediatric, radiological, gynecologic, laboratory and pharmaceutical services to nearly 110,000 Chileans in that region. Mathewson said the hospital has been operational since March 13.

The medical team performed its first surgery two days after opening, and has since treated more than 55 patients and performed six surgeries.

Mathewson added that the personnel deployed with the medical support unit will work alongside Chilean health professionals until March 26, when the United States will turn the facility over to Chilean officials.

Mathewson said the recent earthquake in Haiti helped the U.S. servicemembers know what to expect in Chile.

"We were able to understand what our role here was and how we could best integrate with the Chileans and help them in their time of need," he said. "It's been a truly remarkable experience working alongside the Chileans to bring help to those most in need.

"The U.S. and Chile have a long history of partnership and friendship," he continued. "We're honored to be a part of this important mission."

(Christen N. McCluney writes for Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity.)