Military News

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gates, Mullen, To Join U.S. Delegation to Mexico

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 19, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will travel to Mexico City next week as part of a U.S. delegation focused on helping the Mexican government fight drug-trafficking cartels and other security threats. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will lead the delegation to the March 23 Merida U.S.-Mexico High Level Consultative Group meeting, State Department officials announced.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and other top-level U.S. government officials also will participate in talks expected to be dominated by ways to strengthen the Merida Initiative.

The initiative provides a framework for the United States to provide Mexico equipment, training and technical expertise to support its crackdown on drugs, trafficking and corruption. Among other capabilities, it provides helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support the Mexican military's drug-interdiction activities.

Although the Merida Initiative initially was planned as a three-year program, "it's clear now to us that our governments should work together on a continuing basis, because that work is not done," acting deputy State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters earlier this week.

Next week's visit will build on the last high-level consultative group session, when Clinton and Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa discussed ways to evolve Merida Initiative in December 2008. Those talks focused on breaking the power of drug-trafficking organizations, improving border security and strengthening the rule of law, as well as democratic institutions and human rights.

Gates last visited Mexico City in April 2008, when he became the first defense secretary to visit Mexico in 12 years.

The secretary emphasized during that visit that helping Mexico ultimately helps the United States. "It is in our interest that our friends have greater capabilities to protect their own security and to take care of transnational criminal activity such as the drug cartels," he said. "It is in our interest, because we have [a] shared interest to enhance the capabilities of the Mexican armed forces."

Gates called the effort a move forward in strengthening the "still relatively young" U.S.-Mexican military relationship in a way that respects Mexico's sovereignty and recognizes Mexican sensitivities. "I would say that the relationship is limited, but both sides are looking for opportunities where we can cautiously grow it," he said.

More educational exchanges and expanded information sharing are two potential growth areas Gates said he and the Mexican leaders discussed. "We just have to take it a step at a time and explore what the opportunities are for expanded cooperation," he said.

Mullen visited Mexico City in March 2009, when he praised Mexican leaders for their firm stand against drug cartels and the destruction they bring.

"From my perspective, we have shared responsibilities for the cause and shared responsibilities for the solutions," he told his hosts. "How we work those shared responsibilities is very important."

More intelligence sharing and more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, as well as a stronger military-to-military relationship, could improve the Mexican military's capabilities for the challenges they face, he noted as he returned to Washington.

Mullen emphasized during that trip that other U.S. agencies, including the State and Homeland Security departments and the Drug Enforcement Agency, play important roles in supporting Mexico. "There are fairly far-reaching areas of cooperation," he said. "These are very much ongoing."

MILITARY CONTRACTS March 19, 2010

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

AmerisourceBergen Drub Corporation, Chester Brook, Pa. is being awarded a maximum $177,500,000 firm fixed price, prime vendor contract for pharmaceutical requirements. Other locations of performance include Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia and North Carolina. Using services include all designated providers that are part of the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan program. The original proposal was Web solicited with five responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the second of three thirty-month option periods. The date of performance completion is September 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM200-05-D-0950).

AmerisourceBergen Drub Corporation, Chester Brook, Pa. is being awarded a maximum $110,000,000 firm fixed price, prime vendor contract for pharmaceutical requirements. Other locations of performance include Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington. Using services include various non-DoD agencies, National Institute of Health, Department of Justice and District of Columbia government. The original proposal was Web solicited with five responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the second of three thirty-month option periods. The date of performance completion is September 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM200-05-D-0925).

Shore Terminals LLC, San Antonio, Texas is being awarded a maximum $70,860,000 firm fixed price contract for petroleum storage services. Other location of performance is California. Using services are the Defense Energy Support center and federal civilian agencies. There were originally 15 proposals solicited with four responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract has a five year base with one five-year option period. The date of performance completion is March 16, 2015. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), Fort Belvoir, Va. (SP0600-10-C-5033).

Wolverine World Wide, Inc., Rockford, Mich. is being awarded a maximum $7,370,410 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for dress leather shoes. Other locations of performance are Arizona and Michigan. Using services are Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The original proposal was Web solicited with six responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth of four one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is March 19, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SP0100-06-D-0351).

Zimmer, Inc., Warsaw, Ind. is being awarded a maximum $6,629,467 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for knee and hip orthopedic implants, instrumentation sets and auxiliary products. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The original proposal was Web solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the fourth option year. The date of performance completion is March 24, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM200-06-D-7202).

NAVY

Parsons Infrastructure and Technology Group, Inc., Pasadena, Calif. (N62470-10-D-2019) and HDR Engineering, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colo. (N62470-10-D-2020), are each being awarded a multiple award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for planning and engineering services at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities worldwide. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, of the two contracts combined is $60,000,000. This effort provides for preparation of plans, project planning documents, cost estimates, planning studies, visioning and scenario workshops/planning, geo-spatial information and service, and preparation of Navy and Marine Corps planning and engineering services for projects. The preponderance of documents to be prepared under this contract includes but is not limited to the following: global shore infrastructure plans, base development plans, activity master plans, regional shore infrastructure plans, regional Integration plans, maintenance and sustainment plans, integrated logistics plans, encroachment action plans, family housing and bachelor quarters comprehensive neighborhood plans, activity overview plans, project planning documentation, asset evaluations, basic facilities requirements documentation, facilities planning documents. Work will performed in N.C. (24 percent), Fla. (16 percent), Va. (13 percent), Conn. (8 percent), Md. (6 percent), Ariz. (6 percent), Ga. (5 percent), R.I. (4 percent), Maine (3 percent), N.J. (3 percent), W.V. (2 percent), Miss. (2 percent), N.Y. (2 percent), and Calif. (1 percent). Work may also be performed within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic area of responsibility and the adjacent waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, including the Continental United States, the Caribbean, Europe and North Africa (5 percent). However, tasks associated with this contract may be assigned anywhere in the world. The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of Mar. 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 website, with 10 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

DynCorp International LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a modification to decrease the maximum dollar value by $34,486,995 on a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N62742-08-C-1115) to provide support services for Philippines operations support in the Republic of the Philippines for the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines. The work to be performed provides for all labor, supervision, management, tools, materials, equipment, facilities, transportation, incidental engineering, and other items necessary to provide support services. After award of this modification, the total cumulative contract value will be $177,186,271. Work is performed in the Republic of the Philippines, and is expected to be completed by Sep. 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity.

Progeny Systems Corporation, Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $23,134,194 option exercise under previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-6297). The option is for AN/WLY-1 System, Active Intercept & Ranging (AI&R) System and Archival Media Center (AMC) production and engineering services for the Navy's modernization of existing active intercept acoustic signal processing systems onboard all submarines in order to satisfy the functional requirements for acoustic intercept capability in the Virginia class submarines. Tactical recording and storage of acoustic data is provided by the AMC. The effort under this contract will provide for continuous development that optimizes use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies, common submarine COTS-based sonar system hardware and software elements, future technology insertion initiatives and improved total ownership cost. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed by September 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded an $11,807,094 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-07-C-0097) to definitize the requirement to provide and install P5 Combat Training System Group A provisions into all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Low Rate Initial Production Lot 2 Aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, Calif. (89 percent) and Fort Worth, Texas (11 percent), and is expected to be completed in February 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $5,507,094 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Clark-Nexsen/CH2M Hill, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a maximum amount $10,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for geographic information systems, professional surveying, mapping and engineering services and support at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities worldwide. Work will predominantly be performed in Calif. (25 percent), Wash. (15 percent), Fla. (15 percent), Va. (15 percent) and Texas (15 percent). Work may also be performed within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic area of responsibility and the adjacent waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, including the continental United States, the Caribbean, Europe and North Africa (15 percent). However, tasks associated with this contract may be assigned anywhere in the world. The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of Mar. 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 website, with nine proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N62470-10-D-2023).

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $9,944,691 firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-07-G-0008) to procure 62 swashplate actuators (7 for U.S. Air Force CV-22; 55 for U.S. Marine Corps MV-22); 307 flaperon actuators (50 for Air Force CV-22; 257 for U.S. Marine Corps MV-22). In addition, this order provides for the training and support equipment tools for regulator control units, and intercom set controllers specific to the MV-22 and CV-22 aircraft. Work will be performed in New York, N.Y. (99 percent) and Arville, France (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 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.

DRS C3 System, Inc., Stevensville, Md., is being awarded a $7,935,427 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development activities associated with integrated power system (IPS) advanced modules and IPS ship design tools. This effort supports the research and development of various alternative technologies associated with advanced power systems and development of ship design tools that support the design development of advanced IPS ship concepts and that quantifies technical risks associated with the integrated technology. DRS C3 System, Inc will develop an advanced hydrodynamics simulation tool and related ship design software and an advanced design, modeling & simulation tool for capability-based ship design that includes IPS technology. Work will be performed in Stevensville, Md., 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 broad agency announcement; 81 white papers were received, 24 proposals were requested, and 23 awards have been made. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-4214).

AIR FORCE

Triune Group of Dayton, Ohio was awarded a $48,500,000 contract which will provide the Air Force Knowledge Now operations and maintenance, development, knowledge engineering and functional support services. At this time, $1,391,878.70 has been obligated. ASC/PKEIE, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. (FA8604-10-D-7045)

Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems of Santa Maria, California was awarded a $20,599,510 contract modification which extends RSA IIA support to complete the Mission Flight Control Center. At this time, the $2,770,000 has been obligated. SMC/LRSW/PK, El Segundo, California is the contracting activity. (FO4701-95-C0029, P00314)

Boeing Company of St. Louis, Missouri was awarded a $14,288,369 contract which will provide the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems full rate production for the Air Force, Navy and Foreign Military Sales for Belgium. At this time, the total amount has been obligated. 641 AESS/SYKA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (F33657-01-D-0026)

Net-Scale Technologies of Morganville, New Jersey was awarded a $5,771,541 contract which will provide a deep learning program to discover and instantiate a single set of methods that will yield more useful representations. At this time, $1,564,943 has been obligated. AFRL/PKD at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. (FA8650-10-C-7019)

Active, Reserve Components Maintain Strong Recruiting

American Forces Press Service

March 19, 2010 - Three of the four services and all of the reserve components met or exceeded their recruiting goals for February, Pentagon officials reported.

The Marine Corps intentionally missed its monthly accession goal to ensure its end strength stays within authorized levels, according to a Defense Department-issued statement.

Here is the breakdown among active duty services:

-- The Army had the most recruits – 6,537 toward its goal of 6,389, or 102 percent of its goal.

-- The Navy and Air Force both met 100 percent of their monthly accessions at 2,941 and 2,430, respectively.

-- The Marine Corps recruited 99 percent of its goal of 919 accessions, with 906 new recruits.

Three of the four active duty services met their retention goals for the first five months of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. The Air Force missed the Defense Department's retention benchmark for its first-term airmen, but attained the benchmarks in all other retention categories, officials said.

All six reserve components met or exceed their recruiting goals, officials said. Here is the breakdown:

-- The Marine Corps Reserve met 144 percent of its goal with 738 recruits.

-- The Army National Guard met 143 percent of its goal with 6,607 recruits.

-- The Army Reserve met 106 percent of its goal with 2,421 recruits.

-- Air National Guard met 104 percent of its goal with 554 recruits.

-- The Navy and Air Force reserves each met 100 percent of their goals with 454 and 735 recruits, respectively.

All reserve components had acceptable levels of attrition, officials said.

Military Gears Up for 2010 Census

By Jordan Reimer
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 19, 2010 - The Defense Department is working with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that all military personnel are accounted for in the 2010 census, a defense official said here today. All servicemembers and their families, whether stationed domestically or overseas, must be counted and attributed to their proper place of residence, Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

"The important thing is making sure that the states and the federal government are allocating funds to those communities where our bases are located, so they can properly support our military members," she said.

The constitution mandates that the government take a census of United States residents every 10 years. All residents, regardless of citizenship or legal status, are legally required to take part in the census.

Census information primarily is used to reapportion the number of seats allotted to each state in the House of Representatives. The government also draws on the data to distribute about $400 billion in aid for programs such as Medicaid. States use the records to determine how to allocate funds to cities and neighborhoods for critical projects such as infrastructure, hospitals and schools.

The Defense Department and the Census Bureau established a joint working group in 2004 to coordinate the process of counting military members and their families. All four military services and the Coast Guard are included. The Defense Manpower Data Center -- which collects, archives, and maintains manpower and personnel data -- represents the Defense Department in the committee.

"This group works together to figure out what that process is going to be, making sure we have all the designated points of contact, so that the census will run smoothly during the course of the census process," Dixon said.

Defense officials said the department is on track to submit the count forms to the bureau ahead of the July deadline.

All servicemembers who receive a census form are required to fill it out and mail it back to the Census Bureau. The data of military members stationed overseas – who will not receive any forms – will be processed administratively. Servicemembers who live in group quarters will be required to fill out a "military census report" that will be distributed and collected by their installation's service representative and submitted on their behalf to the bureau.

Servicemembers who are not U.S. citizens will be counted in the census. Servicemembers stationed overseas still are considered U.S. residents because they normally reside in the United States but are assigned abroad, Dixon said.

Because some servicemembers maintain more than one place of residence, the concern exists that some people will be counted twice, or not at all, Dixon acknowledged. But she added that she's is confident that the Defense Department, which fine-tunes its process after each census, will accomplish the mission accurately and efficiently.

"There haven't been any substantial differences in what we're doing," she said. "[And] I think we've been pretty successful in the past."

General Officer Assignments

The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignments.

Maj. Gen. David W. Eidsaune, director, Air, Space and Information Operations, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to director, strategic plans, programs and analyses, and director, Develop and Sustain Warfighting Systems, Air Force Process Office, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Col. William J. Thornton, who has been selected for the rank brigadier general, commander, 412th Test Wing, Air Force Materiel Command, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to director, Air, Space and Information Operations, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Brig. Gen. David S. Fadok, director for policy and strategy, J-5, Headquarters U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Fla., to commander, Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education and vice commander, Air University, Air Education and Training Command, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Col. Steven M. Shepro, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, commander, 316th Wing, Air Force District of Washington, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to director for policy and strategy, J-5, Headquarters U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Fla.

Additional Bidder Could Enter Tanker Competition

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 19, 2010 - A company that had been partnering with Northrop Grumman before it withdrew from the KC-X tanker competition has asked for additional time to submit a proposal, a senior defense official confirmed today. The Defense Department is considering European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.'s request for 90 days beyond the May 10 deadline to prepare its bid, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today.

The department is considering whether it will allow a "reasonable extension," Whitman said, without specifying how long that might be. Extensions aren't unusual for requests for proposals, Whitman said, and are considered on a case-by-case basis.

EADS indicated in a statement posted on its Web site today that other issues could affect its decision to compete against Boeing Co. for the Air Force KC-135 modernization program contract, estimated to be worth $35 billion.

Whitman reiterated an interest in the broadest competition possible. "The department remains committed to fair and open competition and welcomes proposals from all qualified offerers," he said.

Association Pledges Support for Troops

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

March 19, 2010 - The world's largest association for human resource management today affirmed its commitment to bettering employment opportunities and benefits for citizen servicemembers by signing a statement of support endorsed by the Defense Department's Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve agency. The Society of Human Resource Management, and its more than 260,000 members, formally made this pledge during the society's Employment Law and Legislative Conference here, which hosted more than 650 human resources professionals.

Dennis McCarthy, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, joined the society's president and CEO Lon O'Neil and board chairman Rob Van Cleave as they signed the statement.

"Thank you for the action of your leadership and organization," McCarthy told the society's representatives. "This is a great opportunity for [the Defense Department] to witness your commitment."

The society's partnership with the Defense Department will ensure human resources organizations throughout the nation continue to solicit support and take part in National Guard and Reserve programs, he added.

McCarthy stressed that today's generation of citizen servicemembers may be the nation's "next greatest generation." He urged employers to look at hiring and retaining those servicemembers, calling them the best young Americans the nation has to offer.

"Thanking them for their service is very important," he said, "but so, too, is to tap into their potential."

Van Cleave agreed, calling the partnership mutually beneficial to the civilian work force and the military.

"If we look at the situation somewhat selfishly, these returning Guard and Reserve members represent a terrific talent pool," he said. "They are skilled, mature individuals whose dedication and work ethic have been tested and proven."

He praised citizen warriors for putting the nation's needs ahead of their own. Americans owe the military a debt of gratitude for their selfless service and willingness to sacrifice, he said.

"They have given Uncle Sam a blank check to be used as needed, a check payable with anything, including their lives," he said of U.S. military members. "We owe them our worry, and in gratitude, we pledge to support them as they support and protect us."

The society is made up of more than 260,000 members in all 50 states. Along with hiring and ensuring pay, compensation and benefits for employed citizen servicemembers called to duty, local chapters in several states also have headed working groups to help military members find work.

Programs have been implemented, most recently in New Jersey and Indiana, to help military members and veterans prepare resumes and improve interviewing skills.

"It's our expertise ... [and] knowledge of organizational structures and business trends that can steer [citizen servicemembers] toward job opportunities," Van Cleave said. "It's our dedication that will drive development of policies and practices that support and encourage our organizations to participate in Guard and Reserve programs."

Guard Must Maintain Readiness, McKinley Says

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

March 19, 2010 - A new threat environment means a transformed National Guard should maintain its force after drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard's highest-ranking general said here this week. "The National Guard must remain a full-spectrum force, available to our governors to assist when disaster strikes and available to the president to execute his duties as commander in chief," Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said March 17 to the Advisory Panel on Department of Defense Capabilities for Support of Civil Authorities After Certain Incidents.

The Air National Guard has been at war for almost 20 years since Operation Desert Storm and the no-fly zone enforcement that followed until the war in Iraq while the Army National Guard has fought for almost a decade since the attacks of 9/11. The National Guard, McKinley said, has transformed in that time from a strategic reserve to an operational force.

"We have proven we can operate side by side with our active-component brothers and sisters on the battlefield," McKinley said, "and, in doing so, have built a National Guard that is better-trained, better-equipped and better-led than at any other time."

Throughout its 373-year history, the National Guard typically has been put back on the shelf following major conflicts, the general said. As a consequence, he noted, training fades, skills atrophy, equipment ages and readiness recedes. McKinley urged the congressionally mandated panel not to let that happen this time.

"The current threat environment does not allow us to accept this risk," he said. "Our enemies can strike us here at home. We are unlikely to get advance warning."

In the Cold War paradigm, the United States would dust off the Guard, re-equip it and devote months to pre-mobilization training, but times have changed, he said.

"We must be prepared, like the Minutemen of our heritage, to immediately make the transition from citizen to soldier or airman," McKinley told the panel. "We must maintain the readiness we have built."

The advisory panel is assessing how the Defense Department can support civil authorities for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives incidents in the homeland. It is chaired by retired Navy Adm. Steve Abbot, a former presidential assistant for homeland security and deputy commander of U.S. European Command.

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who has served as associate U.S. attorney general and assistant treasury secretary, is the vice chairman. Also among the panel's 13 members are five current or former Guard senior leaders.

To some people, the statutorily established panel, a new Council of Governors and enhancements to the National Guard "seem to reflect a sense to Congress that [the Defense Department] has not adequately planned for or provided resources to respond to catastrophic incidents," McKinley said.

Not true, he told the panel.

"I want to challenge the assumption that [the Defense Department] is either complacent or takes this mission lightly," he said. McKinley noted he is included in meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top-level discussions, and he meets regularly with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense. He is the first four-star general to serve as National Guard Bureau chief.

"I can attest that the department's senior leaders take no issue more seriously than the safety of our citizens here at home," he said.

The panelists are navigating a labyrinth that requires lessons in constitutional law; the relationships between local, state and federal authorities; the different statuses National Guard members serve under with their "dual-hatted" state and federal missions; and the interplay among institutions such as U.S. Northern Command, the National Guard Bureau, the Defense Department, state emergency managers, governors and other institutions and individuals.

The panel is will report its findings to the secretary of defense and the House and Senate armed services committees.