Military News

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fourth Joint High Speed Vessel Named

March 26, 2010 - Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus joined Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to announce that the name of the Department of the Navy's fourth Joint High Speed Vessel will be USNS Fall River (JHSV 4), during a brief ceremony at Heritage State Park on the Fall River waterfront.

"The Fall River represents the physical embodiment of the City of Fall River's patriotic spirit," said Mabus, "and the dedication of the thousands of young men and women from this city who have worn and continue to wear the uniform of our country all over the world." USNS Fall River will be the second ship to hold the name of the city. The first, USS Fall River, was a Baltimore-class heavy cruise ship commissioned in 1945 and used largely on training missions. The tip of the bow of the decommissioned cruiser is on display at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.

"This is a great day for the city of Fall River, and for the Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick. "I am honored to be here with Secretary Mabus as we commission the USNS Fall River in the name of the sons and daughters of Massachusetts who served with such nobility. The USNS Fall River will carry with it the honor and rich history of Massachusetts, a proud history we celebrate for its role in granting liberty and freedom."

Joint high speed vessels are ideal for fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles, supplies and equipment. They are capable of transporting 600 short tons, 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2). Other joint requirements include an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations. Additionally, JHSV will have airline style seating for 312 embarked forces and fixed berthing for 104.

Military commanders will have the flexibility to use JHSV in a variety of roles to include supporting overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts. JHSV 4 will be constructed by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., as part of the joint effort between the Army and the Navy to acquire 10 of these high-speed vessels, five for the Army and five for the Navy. Each service will be responsible for operating and maintaining its vessels following delivery. Interested media may contact the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342. Additional information on JHSV is available online at http://peoships.crane.navy.mil/JHSV/default.htm

DOD to Host International Military Sports Council Ceremony

March 26, 2010 - The Department of Defense will host the International Military Sports Council (CISM) Board of Directors meeting March 29. The opening ceremony and press conference will begin at 10 a.m. EDT in the Tuskegee Ball Room at the Bolling Air Force Base club. With more than 130 countries participating in competitive sports events, CISM is the largest military organization in the world. Its goal is to contribute to world peace by uniting armed forces through sports. Board directors from 17 countries will attend the ceremony. The opening ceremony will include remarks by Maj. Gen. Gianni Gola, Italy CISM president. Maj. Gen. Darren McDew, U.S. CISM chief of delegation, will also provide remarks. A press conference will immediately follow the ceremony.

Media should arrive at the Bolling Air Force Base South Gate no later than 9:30 a.m. with proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification. Please e-mail april.cunningham@osd.mil no later than March 26 if you plan to attend. Information about CISM can be found at http://www.armedforcessports.com/

South Korea Post Readies for More Troops, Families


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 26, 2010 - "If you build it, they will come." The massive military community rising from the rice paddies here dwarfs anything Kevin Costner's character might have envisioned in the movie "Field of Dreams."

The old Camp Humphreys is transforming from a quiet aviation base off the beaten track from Pyongtaek into a major hub for U.S. forces in South Korea. It's part of a major realignment of the 28,500 servicemembers in Korea, with nearly all of them to move south of the Han River within the next several years.

All but a tiny residual force will leave U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, current home to U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Korea in the heart of Seoul, and the 2nd Infantry Division and its supporting elements will relocate from Camp Casey and its tiny satellite bases north of the capital.

Most will consolidate at a U.S. military base being built here that's unlike anything ever seen before on the Korean peninsula.

The project is moving forward, full speed ahead, Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, reported to the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.

"We are on track, over the next five or six years, to complete all of the construction down there," he told the panel. "We will actually start moving down there in 2012, and then phase that in over the next several years following that."

Sharp resisted setting a definitive timetable for completion, but said the effort is on the fast track.

"We're trying to do it as quickly as possible, to be able to return this land of the Republic of Korea and to consolidate our forces to improve the quality of life for our servicemembers," he told Congress.

At Humphreys, Army Col. Joseph Moore, the garrison commander, gets excited talking about the enormity of the project and the unprecedented quality of life it will offer.

Initial plans called for the post's population to more than quadruple from the current 10,000, which includes 4,200 military members and about 2,500 U.S. civilian employees, contractors and family members. But a new dynamic added to the mix just as the relocation plan was being launched – the normalization of tours in South Korea – is expected to further increase the scope of the project, Moore said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced in December the extension of tour lengths in Korea. Under the normalization plan, single servicemembers will serve two-year tours, and married troops who bring their families will stay for three years.

So instead of about 1,900 family members currently here, and about 15,000 expected to arrive as U.S. forces relocate south and more command-sponsored slots are offered, Moore estimates that the post ultimately could become home to as many as 30,000 family members, swelling the base's total population to more than 62,000.

Bulldozers are busy at work, preparing for their arrival. The result essentially will be a brand-new installation, unrecognizable to anyone who has served in the hodgepodge of buildings built at Humphreys over the decades to accommodate troops serving one-year, unaccompanied tours.

Seventy percent of those existing buildings will be razed, explained Todd Dirmeyer, chief master planner for the project. Replacing them will be a state-of-the-art community planned from the ground up to accommodate servicemembers and their families. The new Humphreys complex will dwarf the current post, tripling its size to almost 3,600 acres and providing about 30 million square feet in finished building space, compared to the current 4 million.

For comparison's sake, Fort Bliss, Texas, the U.S. installation experiencing the most growth due to base realignment and closure mandates, is adding 13 million square feet of facilities, Moore noted.

"It really is an awesome thing, if you think about it, because we are going to build a city here," he said. "This is like starting with a blank canvas that considers the whole of the property and the timing of the demolition and construction. At the end of it, we will have essentially a new installation, instead of a new one adjoined to an old one."

That new installation will provide state-of-the-art unit training, maintenance and equipment storage facilities, as well as modern housing, dining and recreational amenities, Dirmeyer said.

The plan incorporates lessons from Fort Bliss and other BRAC installations, from the multi-story post exchange that's proven successful at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and from the transformation Moore oversaw at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany.

"This represents a new vision, with efficient and thoughtful facility placement," Dirmeyer said as he looked over a map of the post dotted with different-colored squares and rectangles representing facilities to be built.

"The maneuver and training areas designated for local training are situated away from the housing, recreational and commercial areas. The industrial areas and vehicle maintenance facilities are away from those areas," he said. "Troop housing is within walking distance of working areas. Family housing is in a commercial area, with family-friendly facilities and schools within walking distance or an easy commute."

Barracks will be the popular "one plus one" design, in which servicemembers have private bedrooms and bathrooms, but share a common living area. A private company will pay for, build and manage most family housing units, similar to the residential communities initiative being used at stateside posts.

A downtown shopping area, built around a food, beverage and entertainment complex, will give garrison residents a sense of Hometown USA, Dirmeyer said. An aquatics park that opened in 2006 already has proven to be a big hit, as well as the new community fitness center, affectionately called the "Super Gym."

While providing these and other quality-of-life amenities, the planners took pains to preserving green spaces. Walkways connect living and working areas, and ball fields, picnic areas and a riverfront jogging path will beckon residents outdoors.

Even with his latest challenge -- accommodating an additional 15,000 family members due to tour normalization -- Moore is committed to preserving sweeping outdoor areas. "We're looking at a lot of different options, and we have a lot of ideas," he said. "What we don't want is to sacrifice what is really a great plan by plugging additional buildings in almost randomly."

As these final decisions get made and the weather warms up, Humphreys is buzzing with construction activity.

Eighteen construction projects, with a contract value of $1.2 billion, already are under way on the existing post. Another 57 projects are in the planning and design process.

Meanwhile, a massive effort is under way to build up the rice paddies surrounding the post to accommodate the new construction. The land needs to be built up almost 15 feet to bring it above the 50-year flood plain, Moore said.

That, Dirmeyer explained, takes a lot of dirt.

"On a busy day this summer, you would see upward of 3,000 vehicles in a single day, bringing dirt in here," he said. "If you took all the mileage from the first truck to the very last truck required to do this land expansion, it would equal 17 round-trips to the moon. And if you took allthe fill, it would fill the Hoover Dam." As the land is built up, giant piles are being driven into the ground to provide a stable building site.

As the planning and building processes take place, Moore said, the biggest challenge is ensuring it never interferes with the U.S. mission here.

"My first goal is to support General Sharp's first priority: to be prepared to fight tonight," he said. "So everything we do has to be connected to that first goal. We cannot do something that would interrupt a unit's ability to do its mission."

The effort here also supports Sharp's priority of strengthening the U.S.-South Korea alliance because of the cooperative way it's being planned, funded and built, Moore said.

Moore said he's particularly proud of the quality-of-life improvements the new U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys will provide U.S. servicemembers and their families, fulfilling Sharp's third command priority.

Ultimately, Moore said he expects Humphreys to be the assignment of choice for U.S. forces who come to see it as the best place to serve in South Korea.

"This ought to sell itself. We ought not have to sell Humphreys," he said. "If we do it well, it will sell itself, and servicemembers will tell other servicemembers that this is a great place to live."

Sharp Salutes South Korea's Military Forces

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

March 26, 2010 - Annual exercises that wrapped up last week demonstrated not only that the U.S. and South Korean militaries are ready to "fight tonight" if needed to defend South Korea, but also that the South Korean military is on a solid path toward assuming wartime control of its forces, the top U.S. commander there said. U.S. forces will be prepared to transition wartime operational control to the South Korean joint chiefs of staff as scheduled April 17, 2012, Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp told the House and Senate Armed Services committees yesterday and this morning.

This year's Key Resolve exercise focused on ensuring the two countries' military staffs are trained and ready to go to war if required, Sharp said. But as they tested their war plans during one of the world's largest simulated exercises, which ran from March 8 to 18, he said, they also built on groundwork being laid for the "opcon" transfer.

"It was a great success," Sharp said during an interview yesterday with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. "We have really made a lot of progress in developing our command-and-control systems [and] developing a way in which we are able to see the battlefield."

Sharp said he has full confidence that the South Korean military will be prepared to assume wartime as well as peacetime control of their forces as scheduled. At that point, U.S. forces will become the supporting command to the South Korean military.

"It is the right time to do this," Sharp said. "I believe the Republic of Korea military is definitely ready to do this."

But to be militarily prepared for the transition, he said, a new war plan first needs to be put in place, and the command-and-control system and other processes have to be refined. Work is under way to complete a single, bilateral war plan that will take effect when the transfer takes place, Sharp said. The plan is now in its second version, and will be revised further after the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise this summer, he added.

Meanwhile, the general said, the two militaries are fine-tuning their processes and putting the structures in place to ensure a smooth transition.

"We are standing up the organizations already to be able to make sure that the organizational structures ... are completely up and operational," Sharp said. Both U.S. Forces Korea, which will become U.S. Korea Command when operational control transfers, and the South Korean military headquarters and components are preparing for the transition.

Sharp also pointed to the combined information cell that has already been stood up as an example of what's to come.

"We are working hard on the command-and-control system and the processes in order to be able to make sure we have a seamless command-and-control between Korea Command, the supporting command, and the [South Korean joint chiefs], the supported command," he said.

Noting that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, Sharp said the Korean military has proven itself to be up to the task.

"It really starts with the individual troop level, and the training and the equipment that the Korean military has today," he said. "They're a very professional military, ... and it goes through the command structure to the top level."

Sharp credited the strong U.S.-South Korean alliance with providing stability on the Korean peninsula for almost 60 years and enabling South Korea to emerge as a secure, prosperous nation.

"Since 1950, Congress and the American people have made an enormous investment in blood and treasure to first defeat and then deter North Korean aggression," he told Congress. "This alliance continues to reap the returns of that investment."

But while focusing on its most immediate mission protecting South Korea the South Korean military also has become an important contributor to peacekeeping and disaster response missions around the world, Sharp noted.

"The Republic of Korea is fast becoming a global strategic ally," he said. "From a military standpoint, they are already stepping up to the plate with deployments to help security and stability in Haiti, Lebanon, Afghanistan and other places around the world. I see that growing in the future."

President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak signed a joint vision for the alliance in April that recognizes South Korea's broader role beyond its own borders.

"What President Lee has said is, 'Hey, we have gone for many, many years with other countries helping us in the Republic of Korea,'" Sharp said. "[Lee has said,] 'We are now at a point that we ought to be giving back to the world.' And that is where this alliance is going in the future."

Commanders Encourage North Korea to Resume Talks

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

March 26, 2010 - The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific region yesterday expressed hope that North Korea would resume six-party talks aimed at addressing the country's nuclear program.

Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the United States and other parties involved -- China, Japan, Russia and South Korea -- have encouraged North Korea to rejoin the forum it abandoned last year.

"At the end of the day," Willard said, "the choice to re-enter into six-party [talks] or not has been a North Korean refusal."

The North Korean government in Pyongyang backed out of talks last spring after receiving widespread international condemnation for conducting a missile launch in April, which it followed with a second nuclear test.

Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Willard said provocations by North Korea raise fears that it continues to proliferate weapons of mass destruction.

"The potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or the proliferation of the delivery systems represented by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1784, are an example of concerns that we have that North Korea has in the past and may continue to be a proliferator," he said.

"The provocations that we encountered through the sequence of missile tests that occurred last year are another example of the actions that we take in this ballistic-missile defense area to deal with North Korea and the instability that this regime represents," he added.

Willard commented on the increased efforts by China to bring North Korea back to the bargaining table.

"I think we're convinced that the Chinese are committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, as we are, and they have made efforts -- increasing efforts, I think, over the past year -- to exert their influence over North Korea," he said.

While the interested parties remain hopeful for renewed talks, Willard said, the United States continues watching threats emanating from Pyongyang, including the recent ramping up of its naval forces and dubious economic moves.

"We watch closely for provocations emanating out of North Korea," Willard said. "We have watched a small naval buildup and issues that are occurring in the West Sea area over the past several weeks."

The United States also has been interested to watch the consequence of currency devaluation in North Korea and the effects of such economic manipulation.

"And obviously we watch over Kim Jong Il's health and the succession issues that we've no doubt discussed before," he said, referring to the North Korean leader who reportedly is in failing health.

Appearing alongside Willard at the hearing was Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, who echoed Willard's comments in urging North Korea to resume talks.

"We highly encourage Kim Jong Il to come back to the six-party talks," Sharp said. "It is the way that I think that he has the opportunity to be able to stop the downward spiral that has happened in North Korea over the last several years."

President Barack Obama repeatedly called on North Korea to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

"North Korea has a choice: It can continue down the path of confrontation and provocation that has led to less security, less prosperity, and more isolation from the global community," Obama said in November, "or it can choose to become a full member of the international community, which will give a better life to its people by living up to international obligations and foregoing nuclear weapons."

Pentagon Lawyer Explains Policy Revisions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 26, 2010 - Changes made to the way the Defense Department applies the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military means that officials will apply the law in a more fair and appropriate manner, the Pentagon's top lawyer said here today. General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson stressed that although the Defense Department has changed some of its practices in applying it, only Congress can repeal the law.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the changes yesterday, and Johnson explained the changes in an interview today.

"The secretary approved raising of the level of the officer who can initiate an inquiry, raising the level of the officer who can conduct the inquiry and a raising of the level of the officer who would separate someone from the enlisted forces," Johnson said.

The department also revised its definition of credible information the military can use in an inquiry and revised the term "reliable person" as it pertains to the process.

Another revision creates an area of "protected communications" that cannot be used in a separation inquiry. These include doctor-patient, therapist-patient and lawyer-client communications, communications with clergy, and communications that are part of a background check, Johnson said.

The revisions do not apply retroactively, but they apply immediately to all open cases and to all cases moving forward.

"So if there is an open administrative case, an open separation proceeding, the revisions would apply," Johnson said. "The person who is conducting the inquiry or separation proceedings is supposed to look at the regulations and see if that matter is still appropriate, given the revisions."

All of the services have agreed to these changes, Johnson said.

Gates tapped Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, to study how best to move forward if Congress repeals the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Their report is due Dec. 1.

Johnson said it is important that he and Ham get a range of opinions from servicemembers. He said they will get frank information from gay servicemembers and those who work with gay servicemembers within the confines of the law. "It's something we recognize we should do, and we're working to find mechanisms, legally, for us to do that," Johnson said.

If Congress decides not to act on repeal of the law, the Gates revisions will remain in effect. "There is no sunset provision on these changes," Johnson said.

The general counsel would not try to quantify what effect the revisions will have on the number of servicemembers discharged under the law. In 2009, 428 servicemembers were discharged under the law – the fewest since the Defense Department began keeping records in 1997.

Since 1997, the military has discharged 10,935 servicemembers under the law.

Flag Officer Announcement

March 26, 2010 - Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nominations:

Navy Rear Adm. (lower half) William A. Brown has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral. Brown is currently serving as director, logistics and security assistance, J4, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany.

Navy Rear Adm. (lower half) Elizabeth S. Niemyer has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral. Niemyer is currently serving as director, Tricare Region, West, San Diego, Calif.

Navy Rear Adm. (lower half) Alton L. Stocks has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral. Stocks is currently serving as fleet surgeon, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.

Navy Capt. David M. Boone has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Boone is currently serving as commanding officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va.

Navy Capt. Colin G. Chinn has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Chinn is currently serving as force surgeon, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Camp H M Smith, Hawaii.

Navy Capt. Robert J. Gilbeau has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Gilbeau is deputy commander for aviation, Naval Inventory Control Point Philadelphia/Mechanicsburg, Philadelphia, Pa.

Navy Capt. Margaret G. Kibben has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Kibben is currently serving as executive assistant to the chief of chaplains/director of religious ministries, N097, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.

Navy Capt. Glenn C. Robillard has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Robillard is currently serving as commanding officer, Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, San Diego, Calif.

Navy Capt. Elaine C. Wagner has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Wagner is currently serving as commanding officer, Naval Health Clinic New England, Newport, R.I.

General Officer Assignments

March 26, 2010 - The Chief of Staff, Army announced today the following assignments:

Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Tom, chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, to commander, Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, U.S. Pacific Command, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Army Brig. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, director of intelligence, J-2, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., to commanding general/commandant, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Army Brig. Gen. Keith W. Gallagher, commanding general, Europe Regional Medical Command/command surgeon, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany, to commanding general, Tripler Army Medical Center/Pacific Regional Medical Command/U.S. Army Pacific surgeon/lead agent, Tricare Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Army Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Jones, commanding general, Tripler Army Medical Center/Pacific Regional Medical Command/U.S. Army Pacific surgeon/lead agent, Tricare Pacific/chief, U.S. Army Medical Corps, Honolulu, Hawaii, to deputy commander, Joint Task Force - National Capital Region Medical Command, Bethesda, Md.

Army Brig. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, commandant, U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School/deputy commanding general, Material and Technology, U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to commanding general, 20th Support Command (Chemical, Biological, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, commanding general, 20th Support Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to director, Iraq Training and Advisory Team-Army, U.S. Forces-Iraq.

General Describes Link Between Northcom, Guard

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

March 26, 2010 - U.S. Northern Command and its sister command, North American Aerospace Defense Command, are inextricably linked to the National Guard, Northcom's operations director said March 23. "I don't think you'll ever see a day where NORAD and Northcom can be separated from the National Guard," Army Maj. Gen. Frank Grass told National Guard leaders gathered for a weeklong domestic operations workshop held at the National Harbor here.

"It behooves us to stay very closely tied with the Guard," Grass said, noting the National Guard "has been involved in every homeland mission," to include the Hurricane Katrina disaster-relief operations.

As of March 22, 72,520 Army and Air Guard members were serving in federal Title 10 status and 6,082 more were serving in domestic missions such as homeland defense air sovereignty alert, counterdrug operations or in support of their governors.

"The Guard ... is truly outstanding," Grass said. "You lead the best men and women the Guard has ever produced. The best citizen-soldier or -airmen and women that serve across our land every day are led by the best [noncommissioned officers] and the best senior enlisted in the nation."

Northcom has recognized the quality of National Guard NCOs; Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Allen Usry is the first National Guard NCO to serve as the senior enlisted leader at a combatant command.

Northcom is responsible for homeland defense, sustaining continuous situational awareness and readiness to protect the homeland against a range of symmetric and asymmetric threats in all domains. Its area of responsibility includes the continental United States, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, French territory off the Canadian coast and three British overseas territories. The command strives to collaborate with the National Guard so that the two share a common operating picture, Grass said.

"We're getting very good at that," the general said. "Developing and building an understanding between capabilities and what the Guard has in the states is critical to us in that partnership. ... Most of my job is spent watching what's going on in the National Guard in the states."

Northcom has a unique degree of the "jointness" sought throughout the Defense Department. A mix of National Guard, Reserve, Coast Guard, active-duty component, senior civilians and contractors fill the command's ranks. The command partners with Canada and Mexico and with the Defense Department, as well as civilian and private agencies – more than 60 organizations.

These relationships paid dividends during the response to Haiti's earthquake, Grass said.

"The ... staff needs to be a mix of active, Guard and Reserve. It is the only place in my military career where you can bring together all components, all services ... work together, and learn about this mission in the homeland," Grass said. "Everybody in this nation ... should know about defending the homeland, not just the National Guard."

National Guard brigadier generals fill slots at Northcom while the command's officers are away at schools or other temporary assignments.

"I can't stress the importance of that [enough]," Grass said. "Not just for the Army and Air Guard members who come in and serve, ... but also for our staff to truly get a picture and understanding of what a Guard soldier or airman does from day to day, across the map, both in their civilian job and in their service to the state."

Northcom also hosts joint task force commander and staff courses heavily attended by National Guard leaders.

And the Guard plays a key role in supporting Northcom's missions, including significant involvement in Operation Noble Eagle, a post-9/11 initiative to protect U.S. and Canadian airspace that has seen Air National Guard members and reservists fly more than 80 percent of its more than 55,000 missions.

"There is either an alert or scramble somewhere in the nation every day," Grass said. "[Where] we used to look outward, now we look outward and inward."

Colorado and Alaska National Guard units provide ballistic missile defense.

"If we had an incoming ballistic missile to the U.S., we would be prepared to shoot it down," Grass said. "You can see how ... the Guard is connected to our homeland defense mission."

The Guard also provides much of the ground-based air defense system for the national capital region; it contributed to forces standing by to support the recent Winter Olympics; and it conducts joint exercises and workshops with Northcom.

The National Guard is the first domestic military responder, Grass said.

"Northcom does not get a mission until the governor asks the president for support," he said. "The National Guard is always there under the governors' control, ... but when that one catastrophic event that hopefully never happens, you want that catastrophic insurance policy. When that one incident occurs that's catastrophic, we're prepared to come and support ... the states and the National Guard."

Navy to Commission Submarine New Mexico

March 26, 2010 - The Navy's newest Virginia class attack submarine New Mexico will be commissioned Saturday, March 27, 2010, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Va.

New Mexico is named in recognition of the people of the 'Land of Enchantment.' The battleship New Mexico (1918–1946), the only other ship named after the 47th state, earned six battle stars for World War II service, which included providing shore bombardment support for landings in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and at Guam, Tinian, Saipan, the Philippines, and Okinawa.

Adm. Kirkland Donald, director, naval nuclear propulsion, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Cindy Giambastiani, wife of former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, will serve as the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition she will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

The sixth Virginia class submarine, New Mexico, is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; battle group support; and mine warfare missions. Upon entering service, New Mexico will directly enable five of the six Navy Maritime Strategy Core Capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

Cmdr. Mark A. Prokopius, a native of Seven Hills, Ohio, is the prospective commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.

The 7,800-ton New Mexico was built under a unique teaming arrangement between Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat. The boat is 377-feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. New Mexico is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship – reducing lifecycle costs while increasing operational availability.

Additional information about this class of submarine is available online at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4100&tid=100&ct=4.

U.S., Russia Agree to New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

March 26, 2010 - The United States and Russia have agreed to a new arms reduction treaty that will slash each of their nuclear arsenals by a third and improve the way the terms of the agreement are verified, President Barack Obama announced today.

Pending Senate approval, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, replaces a predecessor agreement that expired in December, and would represent the achievement of an arms reduction goal that has figured as a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's national security agenda.

"Today, we have taken another step forward in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century while building a more secure future for our children. We have turned words into action. We have made progress that is clear and concrete," Obama said at a White House briefing. "And we have demonstrated the importance of American leadership -- and American partnership -- on behalf of our own security, and the world's."

Obama, who spoke to reporters after a phone call with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, hailed the treaty as the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades and a move that brings the world further from the specter of the Cold War.

Under the treaty, which requires Senate approval before ratification, the United States and Russia would be limited to significantly fewer strategic arms within seven years from the date the treaty enters into force. The parameters were based on a Defense Department analysis in support of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said is due out in coming weeks.

Gates, who appeared alongside Obama and other Cabinet members at the briefing, said the treaty strengthens nuclear stability. He also noted that America's nuclear arsenal remains an important pillar of the U.S. defense posture -- both as a deterrent and as reassurance to more than two dozen allies who rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for their security.

"But it is clear that we can accomplish these goals with fewer nuclear weapons," he said. "The reductions in this treaty will not affect the strength of our nuclear triad, nor does this treaty limit plans to protect the United States and our allies by improving and deploying missile-defense systems."

The treaty holds personal meaning for Gates, whose lengthy public service career has been partly defined by Cold War considerations and nuclear strategy, including his stint more than four decades ago as a junior Air Force officer in Strategic Air Command.

"The journey we have taken, from being one misstep away from mutual assured destruction to the substantial arms reductions of this new agreement, is testimony to just how much the world has changed," he said, "and all of the opportunities we still have to make our planet safer and more secure."

The provisions engendered in the treaty have been embraced by the top military commanders, according to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said the nation's military leaders were allowed to submit their input during the process.

"I would only like to add that I, the vice chairman and the Joint Chiefs, as well as our combatant commanders around the world stand solidly behind this new treaty," he said, "having had the opportunity to provide our counsel, to make our recommendations and to help shape the final agreements.

"Through the trust it engenders, the cuts it requires and the flexibility it preserves," Mullen added, "this treaty enhances our ability to do that which we have been charged to do: protect and defend the citizens of the United States."

The treaty caps the number of deployable warheads at 1,550 – either as intercontinental ballistic missiles or deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles – which represents a 74-percent lower limit than the terms set out in the previous treaty. In addition to other reductions, the treaty also implements a beefed-up regimen for verifying compliance with the treaty's terms.

The previous treaty, signed in July 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, had been considered the biggest arms reduction treaty ever brokered.

Under that agreement, Russia has more than halved its nuclear arsenal, destroying more than 3,000 intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 45 atomic submarines and more than 65 strategic bombers, according to Russia's foreign ministry. The United States also reduced by more than 3,000 its arsenal of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and cut the numbers of its launchers and heavy bombers.

MILITARY CONTRACTS March 26, 2010

ARMY

AM General, LLC, South Bend, Ind., was awarded on March 22 a $317,961,404 firm-fixed-price contract to add 2,122 high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles to contract. Work is to be performed in Mishawaka, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Warren, AMSTA-AQ-ATCA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001).

Hellfire Systems, LLC, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on March 24 a $268,750,936 firm-fixed-price contract for fiscal 2010 option exercise for a total quantity of 3,955 HELLFIRE II missiles. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2013. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-08-C-0361).

EG&G Defense Materials, Inc., Tooele, Utah., was awarded on March 23 a $181,291,800 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Phase 2 chemical agent munitions disposal systems (CAMDS) closure, CAMDS & Deseret Chemical Depot secondary waste and GA/Lewisite Disposal. Work is to be performed in Tooele, Utah, with an estimated completion date of July 30, 2015. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Army Contracting CMD-Rock Island Contracting Center, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (DACA97-89-C-0076).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on March 22 a $41,941,800 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 1,080 rocket propelled grenade protection kits. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012. Five bids were solicited with five bids received. TACOM, AMSCC-ASCA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111).

Walbridge, Detroit, Mich., was awarded on March 23 a $40,686,943 firm-fixed-price contract. This project consists of the design and construction of three tactical equipment maintenance facilities (TEMFS) for a sustainment bridge, Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System battery and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery at Fort Bliss, Texas. The project construction shall be on three nearby but separate sites on Fort Bliss. Each TEMFS will provide facilities for the purpose of maintaining and repairing tactical organizational equipment and vehicles, a complex with repair and maintenance bays, equipment and parts storage, administrative offices, secure vaults, oil storage buildings, hazardous material storage, and other supporting facilities such as organizational storage buildings. Work is to be performed in Fort Bliss, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2011. Bids were solicited via World Wide Web with four bids received.

Alliance Construction Solutions of Wyoming, Cheyenne, Wyo., was awarded on March 22 an $8,636,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of a training support center at Fort Carson, Colo. Work is to be performed in Fort Carson, Colo., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 1, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 20 bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, N.E., is the contracting activity (W9128F-10-C-0013).

Raytheon Systems Co., McKinney, Texas, was awarded on March 22 a $7,906,132 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 26 improved target acquisition sub-systems. Work is to be performed by Oct. 31, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-06-C-0490).

Teledyne Scientific and Imaging, LLC, West Palm Beach, Fla., was awarded on March 19 a $6,763,839 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program that will revolutionize the underlying technologies for unmanned sensor systems. This effort seeks to emulate the mammalian visual pathway by implementing advanced models and algorithmic emulations of the entire visual pathway from retina to the visual cortex. Work is to be performed in West Palm Beach, Fla. (35.8 percent); LaJolla, Calif. (13.2 percent); Berkeley, Calif. (11.5 percent); Berkeley, Calif. (10.2 percent); Cambridge, Mass. (12.1 percent); Santa Clara, Calif. (7.4 percent); Stanford, Calif. (2.9 percent); and Bedford, Mass. (6.9 percent), with an estimated completion date of Sept. 18, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 14 bids received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-10-C-0032).

NAVY

VT Halter Marine, Inc, Pascagoula, Miss., is being awarded a $165,361,305 not-to-exceed firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2212) for the detail, design, and construction of the fourth Egyptian navy Fast Missile Craft under the Foreign Military Sales program. The effort will also include technical manuals, crew familiarization training, and technical and supply support. The efforts required include all hardware, software, licensing, design engineering, production engineering, manufacturing, test engineering, technical documentation, training, spares procurement, and program management through delivery. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, Miss. (57 percent); Manassas, Va. (12 percent); Wyndmoor, Pa. (12 percent); Linthicum, Md. (9 percent); and other locations (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2013. 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.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $101,636,713 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-07-C-0093) for the procurement of 313 full rate production Lot 6 (FRP-6) AGM-154C-1 Unitary Joint Stand-Off Weapon missiles, including associated support equipment. In addition, this modification provides for one AGM-154C-1 for performance characterization test. Work will be performed in Dallas, Texas (44 percent); Cedar Rapids, Iowa (24 percent); Tucson, Ariz. (22 percent); and McAllester, Okla. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Portsmouth, R.I., is being awarded a $59,662,245 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-C-0096) for the procurement of 18 full-rate production Lot VIII AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar helicopter dipping sonar systems and two sonar transmitter/receiver weapon replaceable assemblies for the MH-60R program. Work will be performed in Brest, France (72 percent); Portsmouth, R.I. (26 percent); and Gaithersburg, Md. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2013. 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.

Simmonds Precision Products, Inc., dba Goodrich Fuel and Utility Systems, Vergennes, Vt., is being awarded a $13,642,763 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0298) to exercise an option for the procurement of various integrated mechanical diagnostics system kits and delta parts in support of MH-60R/S helicopters. Work will be performed in Vergennes, Vt., and is expected to be completed in October 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Sudbury, Mass., is being awarded a $9,089,490 firm-fixed-price not-to-exceed delivery order #0002 to basic ordering agreement N00024-06-G-5109 for the procurement of stable master oscillator ordinance alteration kits for CG 55, 60, 62, and DDG 53 ship sets. Work under the not-to-exceed delivery order will be performed in Sudbury, Mass. (55.5 percent); Andover, Mass. (28.9 percent); and Norfolk, Va. (15.6 percent), and is expected to be completed by January 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This not-to-exceed basic ordering agreement delivery order 0002 was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., is being awarded an $8,418,042 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-07-D-0004) to exercise an option for the VH-3D executive helicopter special progressive aircraft rework induction. Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., and is expected to be completed in June 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $8,418,042 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $6,965,693 modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431) for funding for savings on value engineering change proposals for warhead fairing, dual band antenna, telemetric data transmitting set, rear receiver, Unit 10 front microwave receiver, power converter, two-piece Marmon clamp, and control section component parts of the Evolved Seasparrow Missile.. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (45 percent), Camden, Ark. (2 percent), Andover, Mass. (10 percent), Australia (11 percent), Canada (7 percent), Denmark (1 percent), Greece (1 percent), Germany (8 percent), The Netherlands (6 percent), Norway (5 percent), Spain (3 percent), and Turkey (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2013. 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.

Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp., Herndon, Va., is being awarded a $6,291,556 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for AEGIS engineering and technical services. This procurement shall furnish engineering, technical, computer programming, materials management, and specified logistics services necessary to support AEGIS Combat System; major weapon systems programs; and test and evaluation and post event analysis. Support services shall be required at shore sites, land based test facilities, shipyards, and aboard ships in port and at sea for the United States, allied nations, and Foreign Military Sales customers. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $9,980,755. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (84 percent) and the governments of Australia (6 percent), Japan (5 percent), and Spain (5 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Port Hueneme, Calif. (65 percent), San Diego, Calif. (15 percent), Dahlgren, Va. (10 percent), and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1,384,142 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Port Hueneme Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity (N63394-10-C-1201).

Rockwell Collins, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is being awarded a $5,944,064 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract (N00019-09-C-0069) to exercise an option for the procurement of 124 ARC-210 RT-1824(C)/ARC receiver transmitters for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is expected to be completed in December 2010. 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.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing Co., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a maximum $13,373,066 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation fuel. Other location of performance is in Louisiana. Using services are Foreign Military Sales for Israel. The original proposal was Web solicited with three responses. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is April 30, 2010. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-0480).

Mansfield Oil Co.*, Gainsville, Ga., is being awarded a minimum $5,990,062 fixed-price with economic price adjustment for fuel. Other locations of performance include California, Utah and Arizona. Using services are Army and federal civilian agencies. The original proposal was Web solicited with forty-eight responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2012. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-4517).

Falcon Fuels, Inc.*, Paramount, Calif., is being awarded a minimum $5,695,980 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are throughout California. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The original proposal was Web solicited with forty-eight responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2012. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-4513).

Happy Hooligans prepare for Ghana deployment

Capt. Penny Ripperger
North Dakota National Guard

(3/26/10) -- As the 2010 North Dakota National Guard flood operations come to a close, the 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron is already in full swing preparing for their next deployment, a two-week humanitarian mission to Africa through the State Partnership Program (SPP). Since 2004, the North Dakota National Guard has developed a professional relationship with Ghana as part of the Department of Defense's SPP. This program aligns states with partner countries encouraging the development of economic, political and military ties.

"It's exciting for our squadron to go somewhere that we've never been before. We have had the opportunity to travel to several unique places in the past, like Romania, Caribbean, Germany and Honduras twice, but going to Ghana will be a first for us as a squadron," said Maj. John Gibbs.

Gibbs is part of a three-person advance team that will leave Monday. The rest of the group, which consists of about 40 Happy Hooligans, are scheduled to depart April 19.

The North Dakota Airmen, along with a group of Airmen from the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron based out of Michigan, will work together to complete two major construction projects while they're in the country.

The first project will consist of renovating a medical laboratory facility at the Ghanaian Armed Forces 2nd Battalion in Takoradi, a city in the western region of Ghana. The Airmen will replace the roof, construct interior partitions, plaster and paint walls, conduct electrical work, fix the flooring and install air conditioning units and windows in the facility.

The second project will take place at the Acota Academy at Burma Camp, near the capital city of Accra. The Airmen will be tasked with window installation, painting and electrical work.

"Our primary mission as a Civil Engineer Squadron is to be able to support air operations worldwide and these types of deployments help us to remain trained and prepared to do just that," said Gibbs. "Not only will it be an incredible experience, but it will also give us a chance to train in our contingency skills that are vital in our jobs."

Since the inception of SPP, over 180 North Dakota Guardsman, civilian officials, Ghanaian military and civilians have conducted SPP events and workshops to include topics such as disaster management, aviation safety and maintenance, military medical and community health programs, military engineering, public affairs, and leadership.

Virginia reinforces partnership with Tajikistan

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia National Guard

(3/26/10) -- Virginia National Guard Soldiers completed a three-week visit to Tajikistan, where they took part in high level discussions about the country's security and military objectives as well as trained and mentored junior leaders in the Tajik military March 12.

The trip was the latest in a series of activities designed to strengthen the State Partnership Program between the Virginia Guard and Tajikistan.

Tajikistan, once part of the Soviet Union, is located in Central Asia, directly north of Afghanistan, and has a land mass slightly smaller than Wisconsin. The Virginia Guard has become a trusted mentor and partner for Tajikistan's military since they became partners in 2004.

Lt. Col. Bill Mahoney, Virginia State Partnership Program coordinator, recently attended an action officer working group in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to discuss numerous big picture topics.

Attendees included representatives from United States Central Command, U.S. Army Central, the U.S. State Department, and officials from Tajikistan's Ministry of Defense, border guards, National Guard and Committee of Emergency Situation.

Most of the discussions revolved around security and the group also reviewed Tajikistan's strategic military to military objectives. It finished with planning events and meetings during the 2011 calendar year to ensure the partnership stays active.

"Virginia's involvement in the State Partnership Program directly fits into CENTCOM's and the State Department's long term strategic plan for Tajikistan," Mahoney said. "Virginia has a strong partnership with Tajikistan and we look forward to continue building relationships with their junior leaders and staff officers and continue mentoring on topics regarding peace keeping operations."

Virginia's involvement in the partnership program included military to military objectives. A significant topic was Tajikistan's future role in potentially sending a unit to take part in United Nations peacekeeping operations, similar to what units from Virginia did in Kosovo in 2007.

"Since the partnership began, Tajikistan soldiers have learned more English and have improved their leadership skills and professional development," Mahoney said. "They have been making a consistent effort to learn from us."

Other than the Action Officer Working Group, the non-commissioned officers were given the opportunity to meet with some of Tajikistan's junior leaders.

In early March, a group of non-commissioned officers from the Virginia Guard's 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute visited some of Tajikistan's best junior leaders to conduct a seminar equal to what is included in a U.S. Army basic non-commissioned officer course.

The Guardsmen mentored about 21 Tajik soldiers from their emergency services, cadet corps and Ministry of Defense. Their main point reinforced how non-commissioned officers play a role in the army, since their structure is very different from the American military rank structure.

The RTI Soldiers lead exercises in counseling, risk management, troop leading procedures and tactics with the focus on having the Tajikistan soldiers putting their own spin on the exercises.

"Since it started in 2004 the soldiers are much more open and not as tight lipped," Master Sgt. Matt Webster said. "They were very engaging and vey open. They seemed to enjoy the instruction. The program has really been a benefit for them."

This was the fifth trip for Webster, who has seen a noticeable difference in the knowledge and professional growth of the Tajikistan soldiers. "The Tajiks are looking at us to help mentor and develop their junior leadership," he said. "You can see a significant difference in the students since 2004."

A-10 Flies on Synthetic Fuel Blend


By Samuel King Jr.
96th Air Base Wing

March 26, 2010 - In a step toward cleaner fuel and energy independence, an A-10C Thunderbolt II here took to the air yesterday fueled with a blend of a synthetic fuel known as Hydrotreated Renewable Jet, or HRJ, and conventional JP-8 fuel. HRJ is a hydrocarbon synthetic jet fuel, created from animal fats and plant oils. Members of the Air Armament Center's 40th Flight Test Squadron conducted this first feasibility flight.

"The Air Force is committed to reducing our reliance on foreign oil," said Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. "Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption."

Although mission data has yet to be analyzed, the demonstration was considered a success just by the jet leaving the ground, officials said, because it proved an Air Force aircraft can be flown using a synthetic fuel blend.

A thumbs up came from the test pilot, Air Force Maj. Chris Seager, after the flight. Immediately upon stepping out of the aircraft, he told fuel certification officials that the jet "felt great, no problems whatsoever."

"This sortie was pretty uneventful and predictable. ... That's a good thing," said Seager, who focused on monitoring his gauges and engine performance during the flight. "It was a real privilege to be part of this ground-breaking demonstration."

After hearing from the pilot, the certification officials, who traveled here from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, breathed a little easier, but had no doubts about the demonstration and its potential.

"We weren't concerned at all about the flight," said Jeffrey Braun, director of the alternative fuels certification office. "We knew it would take off, and we're thrilled this project is moving forward."

The fuel used for the demonstration was from the camelina plant, a weed-like plant that needs little to flourish and isn't used as a food source. HRJ's refining process and emissions are cleaner than those of conventional fuels, officials said.

The Air Force is the Defense Department's largest user of jet fuel, consuming 2.4 billion gallons per year. The Air Force plans to switch half of its continental U.S. jet fuel requirement to alternative fuels by 2016. A short-term goal is to have all Air Force aircraft certified to fly using alternative fuels by 2012, Yonkers said.

The 40th Flight Test Squadron's two-month build up to the pioneering flight was focused on safety and risk mitigation. The week of the flight, squadron members performed ground tests and the A-10 flew with the fuels split into its two separate fuel tanks.

The A-10 has the ability to segregate its fuel system so one set of fuel tanks can be paired to one engine while the other set can be paired to the other engine without mixing fuel between systems. This makes the A-10 a perfect platform to begin testing fuel blends, said Air Force Capt. Andrew Radzicki, a test engineer with the 40th Flight Test Squadron.

The Air Force plans for a second feasibility demonstration this summer using an F-15 Eagle fighter jet to test performance parameters. A C-17 Globemaster III transport jet will be tested because of the amount of fuel it consumes, and a F-22 Raptor test is planned because of the fighter's complexity. The latter two tests are scheduled to occur later this year.

Countries to Receive Special Defense Department Funds

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

March 26, 2010 - The Defense Department has notified Congress that eight countries will receive special funds from the department this year, Pentagon officials said today. Georgia, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary and Latvia will receive funds to help troops from those nations operate with U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Yemen and the Philippines will receive money to strengthen their militaries inside their countries.

"Section 1206 funding" – named for the portion of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act that enabled it -- provides countries with funds to develop counterterrorism capabilities or to help with stability operations. They also can be used to help nations develop the capabilities to work effectively with U.S. forces. The program has $350 million dedicated to it this fiscal year. Since its creation, Section 1206 has funded more than 100 train-and-equip programs, spanning 50 countries.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates notified Congress in a March 22 letter of the 10 programs in seven countries that will receive funds this year.

Six of the programs will build capacity for forces of Georgia, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to work alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Three of the programs will improve the military forces of Yemen to conduct counterterrorism operations, while one similar program is aimed at the Philippines.

Details of the programs will come into focus after the Defense Department sends a second written notification to Congress "not less than 15 days prior to the execution of a particular program," officials said. The second notification includes the program descriptions, timelines and cost data.