Military News

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tricare Meets Health Care Bill's Standards, Gates Says

American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - The Tricare military health plan meets the standards set by the health care reform bill the House of Representatives passed last night, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a statement issued yesterday.

Calling their health and well-being his highest priority, Gates reassured servicemembers and their families that the legislation won't have a negative effect on Tricare, which "already meets the bill's quality and minimum benefit standards."

"This was clarified by a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives [March 20], and is expected to be re-affirmed by the Senate," Gates said in the statement.

"The president and I are committed to seeing that our troops, retirees and their families will continue to receive the best quality health care," the secretary said.

FIRST SIKH U.S. ARMY OFFICER IN TWO DECADES SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES BASIC TRAINING


Recruit Accepted by Fellow Soldiers and Excels During Training

March 22, 2010 – Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan graduated from basic training today at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to great fanfare from the nation’s Sikh American community. Captain Rattan is the first turbaned Sikh officer to complete basic training in over two decades. “I am overjoyed to serve my country, work with my fellow soldiers, and to have completed basic training,” said Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan. “Most importantly, in preparation for my work as a soldier, I was able to successfully complete all aspects of my initial training. I had an overwhelmingly positive experience. I am very thankful to the base command, Army leadership, and my fellow soldiers. I look forward to continuing to serve my country.”

Captain Rattan was recruited to join the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program several years ago. He maintained his turban throughout his dental education. Nevertheless, after completing his education, he was told that he must remove his religiously-mandated turban and unshorn hair before he began active duty.

Last April, he submitted a request to the Army asking that he be allowed to maintain his turban and beard while serving the Army. This past December, the Army granted his request for accommodation.

Contrary to the concerns of some, Captain Rattan was able to meet all the requirements of a solider during basic training. He wore a helmet over a small turban during field exercises. During gas mask exercises, he successfully created a seal. He also built strong bonds with the soldiers in his platoon.

“We are pleased to learn that Tejdeep’s experience demonstrates that Sikh service in the U.S. Army meets military necessity,” said Harsimran Kaur, Legal Director, Sikh Coalition. “Turbaned Sikhs previously served the United States’ military with distinction in every major armed conflict over the past 100 years. While it is unfortunate that Sikhs were excluded from the military for the past two decades, I hope we will soon turn a page and restore Sikh service in the U.S. military. Sikhs freely serve in the militaries of Great Britain, Canada and India, and as United Nations Peacekeepers. Whether through Tejdeep’s experience here in Fort Sam Houston or through the experience of hundreds of thousands of Sikh soldiers in militaries throughout the world, we know Sikhs are capable soldiers. We look forward to the day when the U.S. Army again welcomes the service of all Sikhs.”

In 1981, the Army banned “conspicuous” religious articles of faith for its service members. This included a ban on Sikh turbans and unshorn hair in the Army. Though Captain Rattan was successful in his requests for accommodation, his accommodation applied only in his individual case. The general policy disallowing Sikhs from maintaining their articles of faith in the military still remains in effect.

To learn more, please visit our Campaign Media Center or email us at media@sikhcoalition.org.

Navy Combat Ship Earns High Marks on Maiden Voyage

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - A month into a maiden voyage that has seen a trio of drug-smuggling attempts thwarted, the commander aboard the Navy's first littoral combat ship today described the vessel's performance to date as "exceptional." Now floating off the coast of Colombia, the USS Freedom received high marks from Navy Cmdr. Randy Gardner, who delivered an assessment to reporters today from aboard the ship via telephone.

"The performance of the ship so far has been exceptional," he said of the Freedom, which set sail Feb. 16 from Mayport, Fla. "We are learning a lot about what Freedom can do well."

Freedom and its crew grabbed headlines in recent weeks after interdicting three vessels transporting illicit drugs through the western Caribbean. Military officials say the ship's speed, which at roughly 46 miles per hour is significantly faster than U.S. frigates that max out just below 30 miles per hour, is responsible for much of its counternarcotics success.

In its most recent interdiction, the Freedom disrupted a high-speed ship known as a "go-fast" vessel and recovered more than 2 tons of cocaine that officials said was bound for the United States.

After detecting the suspected drug vessel March 11, the Freedom launched a high-speed pursuit and deployed a separate team of sailors and Coast Guardsmen aboard rigid inflatable boats to intercept it. Smugglers aboard the fleeing vessel began dumping its cargo into the southern Caribbean Sea.

The Navy-Coast Guard response team recovered 72 bales of cocaine weighing a total of 4,680 pounds from the water after being jettisoned from the vessel that was on a "stereotypical route" pursued by drug traffickers with U.S.-bound narcotics, Gardner said.

During its first two successful drug seizures in the Caribbean -- on Feb. 22 and March 3 -- Freedom seized one "go-fast" vessel, five suspects and more than 3,700 pounds of cocaine.

In addition to counternarcotics operations, the Freedom made its first shore leave in Cartagena, Colombia, Gardner said. The Freedom also played host to top defense officials from Colombia who toured the ship while it was docked in Cartagena.

The Freedom, which is deploying about two and a half years before the first littoral combat ship was expected to be operational, is bound for Panama and Mexico before it's set to return to its home port in San Diego in late April. After undergoing about a month of routine maintenance, the ship then will carry out operations in Canada, followed by an exercise in the Pacific Ocean, military officials said.

The Freedom, along with the USS Independence, is at the vanguard of a Navy littoral combat ship fleet that is expected to grow to about 55 vessels by 2035, officials said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS March 22, 2010

NAVY

Raytheon Co., Marlborough, Mass., is being awarded a $28,144,958 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded contract (N00039-08-C-0115) for eight Submarine High Data Rate Antenna Systems. Work will be performed in Marlborough, Mass. (69 percent) and St. Petersburg, Fla. (31 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured because Raytheon developed the submarine antenna under contract N00039-04-D-0033, which was competitively awarded Oct. 23, 1996. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $24,147,757 modification under previously awarded contract (N00030-07-C-0100) for the Trident II (D5) life extension commonality parts procurement. This effort is to provide procurement and testing of commonality parts necessary for the Trident II (D5) life extension program. The total contract value after award of this effort will be $1,159,319,749. Work will be performed in Bloomington, Minn. (93.24 percent); Sunnyvale, Calif. (4.15 percent); Fairview, N.C. (2.46 percent); Marionville, Mo. (0.10 percent); and Clearwater, Fla. (0.05 percent), and work is expected to be completed May 31, 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $11,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Strategic Systems Program, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., is being awarded a $21,900,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for engineering and logistic services in response to obsolescence and operational and/or technical issues for the P-3 aircraft. Services are in support of the Navy and Foreign Military Sales customers, which include all members of the P-3 airframe sustainment international working group, including the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany and Norway. Work will be performed in Marietta, Ga., and is expected to be completed in March 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-10-D-0015).

Accord MACTEC JV*, Santa Ana, Calif., is being awarded a maximum amount $20,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for architect-engineering services to provide comprehensive environmental response, Compensation and Liability Act/Resource Conservation and Recovery Act/underground storage tanks environmental studies and other support services in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest area of responsibility (AOR). Work will be performed at Navy and Marine Corps installations and other Department of Defense installations within the NAVFAC Southwest AOR including, but not limited to, Calif. (90 percent), Ariz. (2 percent), Nev. (2 percent), N.M. (2 percent), Colo. (2 percent), and Utah (2 percent). The contract is expected to be completed by Mar. 2015. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as an 8(a) small business set-aside via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 12 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62473-10-D-0814).

General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems, St. Petersburg, Fla., is being awarded $19,961,049 for delivery order under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-05-D-6014) for the Production Lot 3 (PL3) procurement of 20 full rate production Expeditionary Fire Support Systems (EFSS) together with their corresponding basic issue item kits, additional authorization list hardware. The EFSS provides all-weather, ground-based, close supporting, accurate, immediately responsive, and lethal indirect fires. The EFSS is defined as a launcher, mobility platform (prime mover), ammunition (not included in this order), ammunition supply vehicle, and technical fire direction equipment necessary for orienting the weapon on to an azimuth of fire and accurately computing firing data. Work will be performed in St. Aubin, France (63 percent), Robbins, N.C. (20 percent), and Forest, Va. (17 percent), and work is expected to be completed by April 22, 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The basic contract was competitively procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems & Sensors, Baltimore, Md., is being awarded a $14,078,054 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-2303) for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class design services. These LCS class design services provide necessary engineering, program, and technical support for LCS class ships. This includes class baseline design services, class configuration management services, class documentation services, ship interim support, ship systems development, and other technical and engineering analyses. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va. (41 percent), Moorestown, N.J. (16 percent), Baltimore, Md. (15 percent), Marinette, Wis. (14 percent), Washington, D.C. (8 percent), Arlington, Va. (6 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2010. 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.

Ecology and Environment, Inc., Lancaster, N.Y., is being awarded a maximum amount $10,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for design and/or engineering services for base development planning and engineering services for Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ), Range Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (RAICUZ) and other encroachment-related studies at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities worldwide. The preponderance of documents to be prepared under this contract are AICUZ documents including the following: detailed analysis of aircraft noise, accident potential, land use compatibility, operations alternatives, and potential solutions to both existing and potential incompatible land use problems. RAICUZ documents include the following: quantify range compatibility zones, aircraft noise zones and blast noise zones, develop strategies for lands affected by potential weapon impacts or noise impacts, and develop a strategy to promote compatible development on land within these areas. Work will predominantly be performed in Md. (25 percent), Va. (20 percent), N.C (20 percent), Fla. (20 percent) and Calif., (10 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 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 (contract number N62470-10-D-2024).

Contingency Response Services, LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $9,615,384 cost-plus-award-fee task order #JN09 on March 12, 2010, under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity global contingency services contract (N62742-06-D-1113) for debris removal in Haiti. The work to be performed provides for removing concrete and organic rubble and debris and other selected material from right of way within the Turgeau area of Haiti or surrounding areas. Work will be performed in Turgeau, Haiti, and is expected to be completed by Apr. 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y., is being awarded a maximum $14,073,970 firm fixed price, sole source contract for inertial navigation units and common cockpit spare parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. 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 March 31, 2013. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Procurement Operations, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPRPA1-09-G-002Y-0001).

AIR FORCE

Burnett Equipment, Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., was awarded a $12,497,882 contract which will provide Louden Crane System items to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. At this time, no money has been obligated. OC-ALC/PKEA at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma is the contracting activity. (FA8100-10-D-0003)

Cartwright Calls for Balance in Missile Defense Construct

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

March 22, 2010 - Modern missile defense requires the U.S. military to strike a balance between offensive and defensive capabilities to meet today's changing threat, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today. Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright spoke to an audience of more than 200 missile defense experts at the 8th Annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here. He touched on a need to balance the construct of offensive and defensive long-range capabilities as well as the importance of integrating those means with international partners and allies.

No real changes have risen in regards to ballistic missile developments to defend against nuclear weapons. However, the United States must tailor capabilities, such as bomber jets and Patriot missiles, to address actions from nations with nuclear weapons as well as individual terrorists. And the United States can't do that alone, he said.

"We can't do the defense all ourselves, and we certainly can't do the offense ourselves," Cartwright said. "We're going to work as a coalition, [and] ... what used to be extended deterrence now has to take on an attribute of sharing."

The general explained that this change in culture is necessary because the United States can't carry the burden of keeping up with technology and the financial load alone. Bringing foreign partners into the equation must be the new norm in order to be the most effective, he said.

Whether it's nuclear deterrence, weapons acquisition or sensory capabilities, the United States can't afford not to partner and consolidate capabilities. The United States and its allies also can't afford for potential enemies to gain confidence in their abilities, he added.

Taking advantage of foreign partnerships and striking a balance between offense and defense will make it very clear to U.S. adversaries that they will "pay dearly" should they attempt a missile attack. Otherwise, the United States and its allies are vulnerable, he said.

"There just can't be any doubt in the [enemy's] mind," Cartwright explained. "We've got to demonstrate that day in and day out with our exercises, our planning, our rhetoric. All of this has to come together, and it's got to b meaningful from the individual terrorist all the way up to the peer nation states."

The general also called for the missile defense community to work toward an "open architecture" to bring together capabilities from different systems to avoid redundancy and unnecessary costs.

"We've got to understand it's the same data," he said. "We manipulate it differently, process it differently, [but] these have to be pulled together in very similar ways.

"As we work our way forward, we can't let ourselves lose track of the fact that we're out there to assimilate, use it to our advantage, the advantage of our friends and allies to have better deterrence," he added.

Looking forward, missile defense experts and the Pentagon are working toward manning the U.S. military's individual geographic areas of responsibility with the correct balance of effectiveness and affordability, Cartwright said.

Cartwright said he's confident in the United States' ability to move in the right direction, but stressed that the "adversary gets a vote." He noted that the United States and its allies are more than capable of adjusting to potential threats, but "we have to be ready and maintain cutting-edge technology and management and resources."

Leadership Award

Editor's Note:  The recipient is a former servicemember.

The Cincinnati Division has selected Dr. Creighton Wright to receive the Director’s Community Leadership Award.


March 22, 2010 - Dr. Wright is a talented surgeon, teacher, volunteer, and community leader who has been an active supporter of local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

Dr. Wright is known for his extensive work in the greater Cincinnati community. He is a 2007 graduate of the FBI Citizens' Academy and a member of the FBI Citizens' Academy Foundation of Cincinnati. He is also an active member of the Cincinnati Citizens Police Association (CCPA), a group of community and business leaders who partner with law enforcement agencies to help make Cincinnati a safer place in which to live and work.

Dr. Wright and the members of the CCPA have worked to raise funds for important groups like The Shield, a local nonprofit organization that provides resources and financial support to the families of law enforcement officers killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Dr. Wright has also been a strong supporter of the FBI Citizens' Academy Foundation of Cincinnati, working to further strengthen the partnership among the Foundation, the CCPA, and the FBI.

As a leader in the community, Dr. Wright has been a constant supporter of law enforcement. He is an active member of the Covington Fraternal Order of Police Associates and a member of the original Citizens on Patrol team. In addition, he has been named as a Kenton County Sheriff's Special Deputy to assist with emergency management.

Dr. Wright graduated from Duke University Medical School in 1965 and received an MBA from Xavier University in 1995. Dr. Wright came to Cincinnati in 1981 as a member of Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgeons, Inc., where he currently serves as the president and director. Dr. Wright also served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam conflict and in the Army Reserves during Operation Desert Storm, where he earned the Bronze Star.

General Keen's Blog: Coordinate and Collaborate

By Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen
Commander, Joint Task Force Haiti

March 22, 2010 - Picture more than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations; the United Nations and its nearly 9,000 UN military force; embassy personnel from within the country, the region and around the world; European Union representatives, and on top of that, more than 20,000 U.S. troops and a sea of planes filled with supplies and volunteers, all converged on an island about the size of Maryland with one objective: save lives and help the injured.

This was the scene during the days and weeks that followed the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area on Jan 12. This is one of the worst natural disasters our world has ever witnessed. It required a response of immediacy that the international community could never have anticipated or imagined. The number of countries and nongovernmental organizations that converged on this Caribbean island was unprecedented.

However, this convergence of humanitarian assistance presented a challenge in its own right for Joint Task Force Haiti, whose mission was, and continues to be, to support the lead federal agency, the United States Agency for International Development. How did Joint Task Force Haiti bridge the gap of language, culture, function, and public-to-private sector? We did it with coordination and collaboration, the "new C2."

Now I know there are some purists who will read this blog and say, "No, C2 stands for command and control, not coordinate and collaborate." You will get no argument from me. We in Joint Task Force Haiti maintain command and control throughout the operation; it's standard practice. But what I found was that command and control, though very important, was not the critical element in achieving the objective in this humanitarian assistance mission. What we have found is that our success as a comprehensive body the government of Haiti, U.S. Embassy, the U.N., USAID, Joint Task Force Haiti and the nongovernmental organizations is primarily tied to our ability to coordinate and collaborate.

We recognized early in the operation that if we weren't engaged in C2 at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, we would fall short. The means by which we've done this has varied across the different levels of organizations. For example, our commanders on the ground, many of which relied upon their time in Iraq and Afghanistan, were well prepared when it came to engaging community leaders. The challenge was at the higher levels, somewhere between the operational and strategic levels. It was very cumbersome at times and in many cases overwhelming, to navigate through the levels of the different organizations and nongovernmental organizations.

The one organization that served as the conduit for bringing all the different organizations and functions under one "C2 roof" was the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center, or HACC. The HACC, which is a function within the U.N., was the central body that pulled all the C2 efforts of Joint Task Force Haiti, U.N. military forces, USAID and nongovernmental organizations together to build a common operating picture of what was required. It was composed of more than 30 officers and noncommissioned officers and led by a Joint Task Force Haiti general officer. The HACC was plugged into every facet of the joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational environment, ensuring all our efforts were synched.

There are many valuable lessons learned from Operation Unified Response. The complex nature of the environment in Haiti has proved to me that C2 is one of the most important elements -- if not the most important element -- in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation. Because of our ability to coordinate and collaborate, we were able save more lives, provide more assistance and reach more people during a critical time of need.

Command Supports Peace, Prosperity Along Korean DMZ


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - When Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Fischle got orders two years ago and learned that he was to be posted here, he assumed he'd be pulling patrols along the heavily fortified border separating North and South Korea. But Fischle isn't guarding against infiltrators from the north, as U.S. troops once did in support of the South Korean military. Instead, he's helping thousands of workers, along with truckloads of raw materials, cross into North Korea each day.

The mission, under the auspices of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission, supports a sprawling industrial complex about six miles north of the DMZ that's unknown to many Americans.

The Kaesong Industrial Park opened in 2003, part of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine Policy" promoting reconciliation between the two Koreas. So far, 117 South Korean companies have set up operations on the 2.2-square-kilometer complex with 123 more in the process of building additional factories as the complex balloons to 60 square kilometers, or more than 23 square miles.

These companies employ almost 43,000 North Korean workers who manufacture clothing, pots and pans, and small electronic components and process mushrooms, garlic and chestnuts for delivery to the south. Another 1,000 South Koreans work at the factories, mostly as supervisors.

The relationship benefits North and South Korea, explained Canadian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Son, the U.N. Command Military Armistice Commission's control officer for the western transportation corridor that leads to the factory complex.

It provides a cheap labor source for South Korean companies, which pay the North Korean workers, through their government, $57.99 a month in hard U.S. currency.

But the Kaesong complex has a far-larger significance, said Son, a South Korean native who emigrated to Canada with his family at age 4. It's captured in the engraving on a giant rock at the entranceway to the four-lane road leading to the complex: "This road leads to peace and prosperity."

"This truly is, I believe, the road that will lead to peace and prosperity for both sides," Son said. "What we are seeing here is the future."

The Kaesong complex stands as a symbol of promise that has managed to withstand political tensions. The factory wheels never stopped turning during North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, when it walked away from the six-party talks, or when it ratcheted up its rhetoric over the Key Resolve military exercise South Korea and the United States wrapped up last week.

As newspaper headlines blared division, operations at the Kaesong complex continued nearly unfettered, along with the steady flow of traffic that transits the DMZ each day to support it.

Son's four-man detachment, with Fischle as its noncommissioned-officer-in-charge, plays a big part in preventing political turmoil from spilling over into the more than four-mile-long sector leading to the Kaesong complex.

Acting on behalf of Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, commander of United Nations Command, U.S. Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, the team monitors everything crossing through the DMZ. They monitor for compliance not just with the armistice agreement, but also with North-South agreements governing administration of the corridor and U.N. Security Council resolutions banning weapons, high-tech computers and luxury goods from being shipped into North Korea.

The South Korean unification and defense ministries and customs, immigration and quarantine offices process transit requests, register travelers and inspect vehicles. Son's team approves the manifests, giving the official green light for movements across the DMZ.

The mission keeps them busy. Since 2004, more than 1.4 million people and 700,000 vehicles have crossed the DMZ en route to the Kaesong complex.

Son and his team monitor about 20 scheduled crossings between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each day. A fleet of about 100 Hyundai buses ferries workers to the complex every day except Sundays and North Korean holidays. Convoys of up to 200 vehicles carry equipment and raw supplies to the factories; they then return south loaded with manufactured goods.

Traffic is expected to increase during the summer, particularly if a tour company resumes taking sightseers through the DMZ's western corridor to explore historical sites in Kaesong. That's expected to begin at any time, Son said, as soon as the South Korean government officially approves the plan. Although U.S. citizens will be authorized to take the tours, U.S. military members won't, he noted.

As he talks about these and other plans involving Kaesong, Son recognizes the unique, once-unimaginable role he and his fellow servicemembers at the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission are playing in helping to maintain stability along the DMZ.

"I think of it as a football field, with two teams going at it," Son said. "Then, at the one-yard line, someone sets up a hot dog stand. That's how I see this whole area. You have this corridor, four kilometers by 250 meters, the most heavily mined border in the world right now. But just on the other side, we have these factories operating."

The detachment's job, Son said, is to ensure the action on the playing field doesn't escalate, and that the hot dog stand and beyond it can continue to operate without violence.

As he wraps up his tour here and prepares to re-enter civilian life, Fischle said he recognizes the big, long-term implications of the work he and his tiny detachment are conducting here.

"When you see something like this, it gives me hope that one day I will turn on CNN and hear that North and South Korea have come together," he said. "The prospect of that makes me feel warm inside."

Missile Defense Review Confirms Capability's Necessity

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - Ballistic missile defense has come out of the world of the controversial and improbable and now is in the realm of the accepted and possible, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said today. Lynn spoke to the 8th Annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference held at the Ronald Reagan Building here.

The deputy secretary charted the course of missile defense in the United States. He said officials recognized as soon as the Nazis launched V-2 missiles at Great Britain during World War II that a new threat had emerged, and something had to be done to combat it. But for years, he said, missile defense was viewed as technologically impossible and politically unpalatable.

"Fifty years of concerted investment by our scientific and military establishment was capped in this past decade by stunning technological progress in both sensor and systems integration," Lynn said. "The result is a series of systems that provide demonstrable protection against a range of missile defense threats."

The United States now has limited continental defense, and deployed U.S. forces have a shield against shorter-range missile threats. Lynn called missile defense a cornerstone to American defense.

But the threat continues to grow, Lynn said. "The most immediate threat is ballistic missiles from regional actors," he said. "That threat is growing both quantitatively and qualitatively systems that could someday be deployed against our forces are becoming more accurate and harder to defeat, while attaining greater ranges."

The Defense Department completed its first Ballistic Missile Defense Review this past year and released its conclusions in early February. The review posited six priorities that shape the missile defense program. The first brick in the missile defense policy wall is that the United States will continue to defend the homeland against limited missile attack, he said.

"With current capabilities we can continue to defend the homeland against a limited attack, both now and in the foreseeable future," Lynn said, adding that homeland defense is focused on Iran and North Korea and does not focus on Russia or China.

The United States will defend U.S. forces and allies from regional threats, Lynn said. The short-range missile threat has increased and while the United States has made significant progress, more needs to be done, he noted.

"To counter the regional threat ... we need to devote further resources to missile defense capabilities," Lynn said. "The safety of our deployed forces and allies depend upon this investment."

The third fundamental is that before the United States deploys new capabilities, the systems must undergo thorough testing in realistic operational conditions.

Any system deployed must be fiscally sustainable, Lynn said. This means ensuring the United States can fund the system through the life of that system.

Any U.S. missile defense capability must be adaptable to changes, the deputy secretary said. Building capabilities that are mobile and modular ensures the United States can adapt as the threats evolve and the technology improves, he explained.

Finally, the United States will continue to work with international allies and partners, especially for building regional security architectures, he said.

"Missile defense is an important aspect of our regional partnerships," Lynn said. "In some, our missile defense posture redirects missile defense resources to address near-term regional missile threats while also sustaining and enhancing our ability to defend the homeland against limited long-range attacks."

Lynn noted that the missile defense program received real growth in the most-recent budget despite spending restraints President Barack Obama is imposing on government agencies. "We are fielding all these capabilities in an austere fiscal environment," Lynn said.

"The president has announced a spending freeze in domestic agencies, yet for the second year in a row, he has increased the Department of Defense's budget," the deputy secretary said. "President Obama has made a strategic choice to continue funding growth in the military and other national security agencies."

Official Details New Recuperation Leave Policy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - Some deployed servicemembers will not be charged for rest and recuperation leave under a new Defense Department policy. The new policy allows servicemembers in designated areas to go on rest and recuperation leave without charge to their leave accounts. "So in a sense, it is an administrative absence and that's up to 15 days," said Sam Retherford, the Defense Department's director of officer and enlisted personnel management.

In the past, the leave was charged to servicemembers' accounts, though travel time from the theater to the airport closest to their destinations was not charged, Retherford said.

The nonchargeable rest and recuperation leave program will be limited to the "most arduous" areas, and the combatant commander must recommend it through the Joint Staff for approval by the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Retherford said.

To qualify for the program, members must be serving in a leave restricted area, where no dependents are allowed. They must be receiving hostile-fire pay and in areas where travel in and out of the country is restricted. "Two additional areas are that the duty has to be extremely arduous and the command has to foresee continuing combat operations," Retherford said.

The benefit will take effect once an area is designated by the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and will not apply retroactively.

The Army identified the need as especially important for junior members, Retherford said, because they typically do not have a large amount of leave accumulated. "At the end of their deployment, there is very little in their leave accounts for rest, recuperation and reintegration to the family and community," he said. "So this program means they will not be charged for the R&R leave, and they will have that leave upon redeployment."

Inability to take leave upon returning from a deployment is a problem. The services want their people to take leave so they can decompress and reintegrate with the families and communities. The services have been allowing administrative leave upon redeployment from a combat zone, but generally limit it to local areas around bases.

Servicemembers already in Iraq and Afghanistan who qualify to participate in the R&R program will qualify for the nonchargeable R&R program. The areas that qualify for the program have to be redesignated every two years.

The commander of U.S. Central Command requested that Iraq and Afghanistan be designated as nonchargeable rest and recuperation areas, Retherford said. "We quickly coordinated this request with the military departments to ensure we provided servicemembers with this new benefit as quickly as possible," he added.

About 1 million servicemembers have participated in Centcom's rest and recuperation program. Due to the requirement for combat operations in a presidentially designated combat zone, the nonchargeable rest and recuperation program should be limited to U.S. Central Command, officials said.

Preventing Friendly Fire

Meprolight Announces MEPRO LIR Personal Marker for Military and Law Enforcement Forces, Preventing Friendly Fire Incidents


March 22, 2010. Meprolight, a provider of innovative weapon sights, today announced MEPRO LIR – a personal marker designed specifically as an individual identification device for fratricide prevention. The device’s unique design makes it both easy and safe to operate.

MEPRO LIR was designed in response to requests by special military and police units for an infrared identification device. The device is resistant to shock, water and most oil-based solutions. Since MEPRO LIR is placed on the back, or the rear of the helmet, it includes a digital control panel that is connected to the marking unit via a wire. The panel enables the user to see any malfunction, as well as information about the light intensity and illumination panel. MEPRO LIR is the only personal marker of this kind that includes a personal control panel.

“Friendly fire incidents are a main concern of military and law enforcement special forces,” said Golan Kalimi, Meprolight’s Vice President of Marketing. “There is a growing need for unique identification devices that are easy to use. MEPRO LIR is the ultimate solution for this issue, even in close quarter combat situations.”

The signal is emitted by high-power infrared light-emitting diodes (LED) at a wavelength that cannot be detected by uanaided human eye. When viewed through night vision systems, the IR light can be seen at long ranges.

MEPRO LIR, which complies with Mil-Spec requirements, is available in two models:

- SWAT Model – with a single IR element usually placed on the back, behind the shoulder.

- Military Model – two elements, one in front and the other on the rear of the helmet. The rear element is capable of working in a visible range, usually yellow (other colors available).

MEPRO LIR is microprocessor controlled and has several models of operation: steady or multiple IR flashing modes, as well as visible flashing. The device has a digital, illuminated panel that shows each selected mode by an illuminated letter or number. Low battery conditions, as well as any detected malfunctions, are also displayed on the panel.

About Meprolight
Meprolight designs and manufactures a wide array of electro-optical and optical sights and devices, night vision devices, thermal sights and a wide variety of night sights and other tritium- and LED-illuminated products and accessories for safety and security applications for the law enforcement, military and civilian communities. For more information about Meprolight visit www.meprolight.com.

Gates, Canadian Counterpart Meet at Pentagon

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his Canadian counterpart discussed bilateral defense issues here today, including Canada's future role in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The meeting between Gates and Canadian National Defense Minister Peter MacKay covered the projected U.S.-Canadian defense relationship over the next five years, and areas of mutual interest such as the countries' shared border area, the Arctic, and relief efforts in Caribbean nations.

"The relationship between the U.S. and Canada is vitally important to both of us," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon following his meeting with MacKay. "I look forward to continuing this dialogue in the future."

MacKay described the talks as a "substantive and productive" discussion on the enduring defense relationship between Ottawa and Washington. He said the recent Olympic Games in Vancouver highlighted bilateral cooperation with the United States.

MacKay added that security preparations are ongoing ahead of G-8 and G-20 summits to be hosted in Canada.

"We've demonstrated a very close working relationship and commitment to continental security, [and] we're looking to areas of further cooperation," MacKay said. "At a military-to-military level in places like Afghanistan, ... our countries continue to work together in a very sophisticated and very important way to provide for the type of security both at home and abroad that both of our countries and our populations expect."

Canadian military forces number nearly 3,000 of the roughly 45,000 allied troops operating in Afghanistan as NATO's International Security Assistance Force. American troop levels are around 83,000, according to the latest available figures.

Asked about Canada's future in Afghanistan, MacKay said Canada would end its combat role next year, concluding a decade of fighting alongside its NATO partners there.

"By 2011, Canadian will have been in Afghanistan for 10 years," he said, adding that Canadian troops are without the restrictions that limit how some contributing countries' forces operate. "We plan to continue combat operations until mid-summer of 2011."

Gates is slated to hold talks this week with a Pakistani delegation, with the war effort in Afghanistan expected to be a major focal point of discussions.

"I'm looking forward to the meetings this week with the Pakistani delegation," said Gates, who meets later today with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani army's chief of staff, and later this week with other Pakistani officials.

"What we are interested in is looking at the long-term in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan," Gates said, "how we can strengthen our relationship, and how we can help Pakistan in dealing with the security challenges that face them, but also face us and NATO as well."

Deployed Spouse Shares in Husband's Promotion

American Forces Press Service

March 22, 2010 - A visit by North Dakota's adjutant general to the emergency operations center yesterday set up for flood response at the North Dakota Air National Guard base here came with a surprise for one Guardsman.

Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk promoted Traver W. Silbernagel to master sergeant as the North Dakota Army National Guard noncommissioned officer ended a 12-hour night shift.

To add to the surprise, Silbernagel's wife, Jennifer, was able to witness the promotion via Skype from the United Arab Emirates.

"It's always a great day in the North Dakota National Guard when we have the opportunity to promote someone, and it's even better when we have the chance to give that recognition during an important mission, such as now during flood duty," Sprynczynatyk said. "I always like when we can include families in these events, because they're such an important part of our North Dakota National Guard family, and today is especially wonderful because we have Jennifer here via Skype."

Jennifer Silbernagel, a captain with the North Dakota Air National Guard, has been deployed for two months and expects to return in August. Her husband started flood duty last week, and he said he has been thankful for family members pitching in to help with the couple's children.

The entire event came as a surprise for the newly promoted master sergeant.

"When I came on last night, they left me a note that said something pretty serious came up, we've got to talk in the morning, and I didn't know what it was," he said.

The crew had led him to believe something must have gone wrong. But after breakfast, he walked back into a room full of people, including his wife on the Skype screen.

"We've had a chance to talk, but we really haven't had a chance to see her much, so that's kind of nice," he said.

The opportunity also gave the deployed captain a chance to provide a quick update on her mission. "Things are going good," she said. We're staying busy every day, and the days are going very fast."

In turn, Sprynczynatyk gave his wife an update on flood operations back home, which began March 15. (From a North Dakota National Guard news release.)