Military News

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Navy Boxing Team Ready To Win At Championships

By Andrea Howry, Naval Base Ventura County Public Affairs

April 14, 2010 - PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- The Navy Boxing Team is ready and the ring is set for the 2010 Armed Forces Boxing Championships at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in Port Hueneme, Calif., April 23.

Eight Navy boxers are competing in the 2010 competition, down from the 12 who fought in the recent Navy box-off, also at NBVC, for the right to represent the Navy in the Armed Forces Championships.

The Navy's team captain is Seaman (SW) Justin Diaz from USS Pinckney (DDG 91). Diaz brought home a gold medal from the 2009 Armed Forces Championships at Fort Huarachuca, Ariz. At the 2009 championships, the Navy brought home two gold, two silver and a bronze medal. Most importantly, the team won the Team Challenge event, a first for the Navy in 15 years.

Teams are scheduled to arrive at NBVC April 18 and begin training at noon April 19. Opening ceremonies are set for the Warfield Gym at Port Hueneme at 5:30 p.m. April 20, with evening bouts beginning at 6 p.m. Boxing resumes at 6 p.m. April 21 with finals scheduled for 6 p.m. April 23.

Representing the Navy in the championships are Diaz; Special Warfare Boat Operator 2nd Class Angel Arauz, from Special Boat Team 20 in Norfolk; Hospital Corpsmen 2nd Class Antonel Cruz, from Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Wash.; Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Tyron Hunter, from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22 at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Fresno, Calif.; Hopsital Corpsmen Seaman Brandon Wicker, from Naval Hospital Camp Lejune, N.C.; Logistics Specialist Seaman Abdullah Johnson, from VFA 151 at Naval Air Station Lemoore; Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Anthony Aguirre, from USS Roosevelt (CVN 71); and Yeoman 2nd Class Jovan Wallace, from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

All of the Sailors won matches at the Navy box-off except for super heavyweight Wallace, who did not compete.

"This is always a great event," said Kent Blankenship, NBVC's athletic director. "It brings a lot of excitement to the base, and it gives our active duty personnel a chance to see possible future Olympians. It becomes a great community event."

The Pentagon Channel will be filming the bouts, which will be broadcasted over a seven- to 10-day period during summer 2010.

"It's a pretty intense event," said Steve Carbajal, who is coaching the Navy boxers, along with George Sylva.

The championships rotate among each branch of the military. NBVC hosted them in 1998, 2002 and 2006. The Army hosted the competition in 2009, and the Marine Corps hosted in 2008.

"When we travel to another branch, we're the underdog," said Carbajal. "We're not popular. But this year, it's our turn."

Carbajal, a Santa Barbara, Calif., resident, has coached at NBVC for five years. He was brought on board by Sylva, a longtime Ventura coach who has worked at NBVC for seven years.

Carbajal expressed confidence in his team's ability to be victorious at the championships.

"Last year we had a bigger team, with 19 athletes," said Carbajal. "This year's group is smaller, but the talent is better. We've seen them develop into a stronger team."

A boxing coach for 35 years, Carbajal enjoys the commitment he sees in the Sailors on the team.

"When you're training civilians, they're always involved in other things," said Carbajal. "The Sailors are more committed, more dedicated.

"It's a pleasure and an honor for me to coach at this level, to coach the military."

Sailors Celebrate Opening of Albuquerque Armed Forces Reserve Center

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Carolyn M. Cerminara, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

April 14, 2010 - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- Full-time support staff at the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Albuquerque along with Marines and Soldiers attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 8 for the new Armed Forces Reserve Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

After two-years of construction, joint Reserve forces will commence moving into their expansive 110,000 square foot space in May. The new facility comes as a result of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) in 2005 at a cost of $29.9 million.

K. L. House Construction of Albuquerque built the facility and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, designed the Reserve Center.

"You look at the old Reserve Center and a disconnect exists between the interaction of leadership and the junior Sailors," said Lt. Cmdr. Damon Slutz, commanding officer of NOSC Albuquerque. "The layout of the new building is the biggest attribute. It will promote efficiency and increase mentoring on drill weekends. Since we were announced on BRAC six years ago our old facility, which was built in the 70s has not been financially supported."

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Rear Adm. Nicholas T. Kalathas, assistant deputy commander for logistics, Naval Sea Systems Command.

"There is one place Navy Reservists call home and that is the Reserve Center where they drill," Kalathas said. "New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the fourth largest country in the world. There is one center in New Mexico for Navy Reservists."

The new Armed Forces Reserve Center will serve 12 Navy Reserve units, 11 Army Reserve units and two Marine Corps Reserve units, totaling more than 1,000 Reservists.

The center features separate spaces for the three Reserve branches along with two fitness rooms, two simulation rooms for small arms proficiency, a 60-foot parachute drying tower and rappelling wall, small craft reconnaissance boat facility, two vehicle repair bays, an explosion proof, hazardous material storage container with a secondary container for fire suppression and a helicopter mock-up for a jumping pit.

"To prepare the Reservist is critical to the success of the service member and the family," Kalathas said. "That's the function of a Reserve Center, to give Reservists the tools to enable them to become more effective war fighters. The work done at this level is critical to the success of service members and their families."

Navy Medicine Puts FOCUS on Building Resiliency for Military Families

By Valerie A. Kremer, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

April 14, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Wartime deployment takes a toll on both the service member and family members on the home front with multiple deployments often compounding existing stress Post traumatic stress, other mental health conditions, and physical injuries in a military parent are likely to disrupt family roles, sources of care, and instrumental support.

To meet this challenge, Navy Medicine developed Project FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) to serve the growing need of military families and children.

FOCUS is a family-centered resiliency training program based on evidence-based interventions that enhances understanding, psychological health, and developmental outcomes for highly stressed children and families. In January 2009, the BUMED Family Programs Division was stood-up under the Deployment Heath Directorate in the Wounded, Ill, and Injured Warrior Support Command of BUMED and now oversees FOCUS training.

"Project FOCUS is unprecedented within Department of Defense medical commands," said Kirsten Woodward, director of Family Programs Division, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). "A family programs division has never been established," Woodward added. "It has responded to the importance of family readiness and preparedness through unprecedented programming that Navy Medicine has to offer."

FOCUS is an eight-week, skill-based, trainer-led, intervention that addresses difficulties that families may have when facing the challenges of multiple deployments and parental combat-related psychological and physical health problems.

The program provides structured activities to bridge gaps in shared family understanding that may follow stressful experiences and separations. FOCUS uses family training techniques to highlight areas of strength and resilience in the family and promote family growth to help address daily challenges. Today, there are nearly two million American children with a parent serving in the military and approximately 900,000 children and youth with one or both parents deployed multiple times. Continued and repetitive deployments can have a psychological impact on family functioning according to research. In the past five years, there has been an increase in both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health admissions for children.

"For the kids, learning 'hands on' with different skills and activities [was significant]." The feeling thermometer was great. For the adults having a place to talk with someone about challenges/issues going on is important," a FOCUS family member said.

In both group and individual family service settings, family members are taught skills to improve emotional regulation, problem solving, goal setting, and communication.

"The trainer's ability to help each of us see situations from each other's vantage points as parents, teenagers, and children [was helpful]. I feel we gained valuable insights and tools– and ended up with more acceptable expectations and understanding," added another FOCUS family participant.

Notably, program participation has resulted in statistically significant increases in family and child positive coping and significant reductions in parent and child distress over time, suggesting longer-term benefits for military family wellness.

In June 2009, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Child and Family Policy determined FOCUS as a best practice program and requested the support of BUMED to expand to select Army and Air Force sites for services. To date over 97,000 service members, spouses, children and community providers have received services on FOCUS.

"Navy Medicine will continue to embrace all the services through Project FOCUS with expansion to other Navy Medicine locations to support psychological health," said Woodward. "Integration with Navy line perspective is being developed."

Gates Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Peru

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 14, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates declared his meeting here today with Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Rey a positive step toward deepening a bilateral security arrangement that "is vitally important to both of us." Gates reiterated the U.S. commitment to help Peru tackle illicit trafficking, narcotics and terrorism to reporters gathered at the Peruvian army headquarters. Such trans-border challenges "can only be overcome through strong international cooperation," he said.

"Our two nations are deepening an already-robust military partnership, and we discussed expanding this relationship through bilateral and multilateral initiatives," Gates said.

Today's talks covered a variety of bilateral and multilateral initiatives, including joint staff talks to begin tomorrow in Washington, a bilateral working group scheduled in late May and the Inter-American Defense Board, Gates said. He noted Peru's cooperation with regional security partners including Colombia and Mexico, and said the United States is encouraged by the recent military training and doctrine exchanges between Peru and Colombia.

"We stand ready to assist as appropriate in these regional initiatives," he said.

Gates praised Peru's military, which he said has proven it is "willing and able to respond to regional humanitarian needs." He commended Peru on its commitment to send 150 additional peacekeepers this week to support the United Nations' mission in Haiti. Both Gates and Rey clarified that today's talks did not cover any possibility of basing U.S. troops in Peru. "There was no discussion whatsoever of any possible base," the secretary said.

"I think the key here is, as we look to the future is, how can we best work together along with Colombia in [the] counternarcotics arena?" Gates said. "We clearly want to do that in a way that is comfortable and politically acceptable for our partners. And we will examine any possibilities in the future in terms of air surveillance or counternarcotics within that framework."

Gates emphasized in response to a reporter's question that his visit to the region is not designed to send a message to Venezuela or to discourage Iranian influence here. He noted the signing of a new defense cooperation agreement with Brazil at the Pentagon earlier this week, and his plans to visit Colombia and the Caribbean before returning to Washington.

"These arrangements between ourselves and Brazil, ourselves and Peru, ourselves and Colombia, are about these countries, not about anybody else," he said. That will also be true of his meeting with seven Caribbean defense ministers in Barbados, he said.

Gates met President Alan Garcia at the presidential palace after his session with Rey.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Garcia, Gates reiterated both countries' mutual interest in furthering their defense relationship in the years ahead. "We had very wide areas of agreement," he said.

Rey has pressed for a bigger Peruvian defense budget to confront the Shining Path terrorist group and its fringe elements. Meanwhile, Garcia has budgeted resources to improve coordination between the military and police and train special operations troops to enhance counterinsurgency operations.

Gates last visited Peru in October 2007, when Peruvian defense officials presented him a plan for combating arms and drug trafficking up its rivers and coasts.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Peru in March 2009 as part of a regional visit to promote closer military-to-military relations.

Wisconsin National Guard leaders honor families at annual conference

By Sgt. Andy Poquette
Wisconsin National Guard

April 14, 2010 - As nearly 4,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard undergo reintegration back to civilian live after overseas deployments, hundreds more are preparing for deployment and the Wisconsin National Guard Family Program and its volunteers are certainly keeping busy.

Nearly 100 Soldiers, Airmen, and family volunteers met with senior leaders of the Wisconsin National Guard this weekend in Wausau to discuss the 2010 Wisconsin National Guard Family Program and ways to fulfill its new motto: "Full sTEAM Ahead."

"The purpose of the conference was really two-fold," said Lt. Col. Tammy Gross, the Service Member Support Division chief. "First, it gives volunteers the opportunity to interact with all levels of leadership in the Wisconsin Guard, and second, it gives us the chance to recognize our volunteers for all the great work that they do."

To kick-start the conference, Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, spoke about resiliency, empowering service members and their families with tools that will help them transition between military and civilian life.

Other workshops offered at the conference focused on dealing with legal issues while a service member is deployed, how to take care of yourself while taking care of others, and resources to help understand Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These workshops assist both service members and families to focus on their mission, whether that is taking care of the family at home, or doing their jobs overseas.

"If you're focused on the mission, there is no finer force in the world than the Wisconsin National Guard," said Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. "But if service members or families are worried about finances, or their employer, they can't do their jobs effectively."

"The TEAM of our 'Full sTEAM Ahead' motto refers to the team of service members, leaders, and volunteers, and how they all must work together to be successful," Gross explained. "This is really the only time we have members of the Air and Army Guard in one place to share ideas and resources."

Volunteers and family members were also given the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of general officers, the highest ranking members of the Wisconsin National Guard leadership. The questions covered topics ranging from the effects of continuous mobilization on service members and families, to how to get better interaction with families and service members through technologies like Facebook. Other issues discussed at the panel were how to increase attendance of Badger Yellow Ribbon events throughout the state, how to increase interaction of Family Readiness Groups from different units, and the vast resources and services available to service members and their families; resources including financial planning, spiritual guidance, and marriage counseling, and many more services.

"I look forward to the Family Program conference every year, but I most look forward to the general officer panel," said Brig. Gen. Mark E. Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. "I think the leadership gets just as much out of it as the families do because we get to have an honest dialog with family members."

More information on programs offered by the Service Member Support Division and Wisconsin National Guard Family Program are online at http://www.wisconsinmilitary.org/.

MCPON Testifies before Congress on Quality of Life

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (EXW) Jennifer A. Villalovos

April 14, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) and senior enlisted leaders from all the services testified before Congress April 14. They appeared before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Military Construction.

MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West, along with the other top senior enlisted leaders from the Marines, Army and Air Force, discussed quality of life, recruiting and retention, Reserve force, and veteran affairs issues.

"In my first year, I have made it known across our fleet that our Sailors and their families' quality of life is of vital importance to operational readiness and mission effectiveness," said West in his opening statement.

"The engine that drives our great Navy is our Sailors with their families' support. They truly define who we are as a Navy and a nation. We are a global force for good."

In his written statement, West said the United States Navy has been tasked with emerging missions that were not foreseeable less than a decade ago, along with more frequent and often longer deployments and those that are individual versus unit deployments. Preparing Sailors and their families to anticipate, understand and cope with Navy life and intensive operational tempo is critical to mission success.

Navy's Homeport Ashore program, bachelor and Navy family housing, and, childcare continuum of care were other important issues that were brought up to the congressional subcommittee. West said that as the environment of Sailors and their families changes, along with global requirements and world events, new and better ways to support Navy families must be continuously searched.

"It is no source of contention for Sailors to deploy from their loved ones. Deployments are what we do; but, we should never underestimate or take for granted the incredible sacrifices our Sailors and their families make for the good of our nation as they meet the unusual demands associated with the Navy lifestyle," said West.

West discussed the Navy's current operations and told the committee as of April 1, 39 percent of the Navy's force is underway, and approximately 23,000 Sailors are in the Central Command Area of Responsibility (AOR), more than 50,000 Sailors are on station around the world.

"We have Sailors on the ground excelling in new missions and Sailors above, on and under the world's ocean executing our maritime strategy's core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support," said West. "Between our traditional maritime requirements, counter-piracy operations and the many non-traditional missions we have adopted in support of overseas contingency operations … Your Sailors are making a difference everyday."

MCPON periodically testifies before Congress along with the senior enlisted leaders of the other services. This was his third appearance before the congressional committee.

Navy's Newest Littoral Combat Ship Arrives in Norfolk Today


From Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic Public Affairs

April 14, 2010 - NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk April 14, ending her maiden voyage.

The Navy's newest littoral combat ship, Independence sailed away from the Austal USA shipyards in Mobile, Ala., March. 26.

This milestone marks the completion of initial testing and evaluation of the innovative aluminum trimaran vessel, the first of its kind in the Naval Surface Force.

"This transit will allow us to gain valuable operational experience and is another large step toward bringing our unique and versatile capabilities to the fleet," said Cmdr. Curt Renshaw, Independence Blue Crew commanding officer

Independence's maiden voyage began with a port visit to Key West, Fla., where the crew gave tours to many local groups and was able to enjoy liberty for the first time outside of Mobile, Ala.

Independence's next stop was Naval Station Mayport, Fla., which was the first time that the ship moored in the company of other naval vessels. During the ship's stay at Mayport, the Littoral Combat Ship Class Squadron led aviation training for both rotational crews in preparation for their final certification to embark aircraft due later this month. Practice rounds for the new SEARAM weapon system were also loaded aboard the ship. Independence is the first Navy ship to be armed with the SEARAM.

Operations at sea during this maiden voyage have consisted of continued testing on the ship's capabilities and limitations, and the ship reached several milestones. Independence deployed and recovered its five-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat, as well as anchored at sea, for the first time outside of the shipyard. The crew also conducted extensive training with the SEARAM weapon system.

Independence will depart Naval Station Norfolk April 17 for Port Everglades, Fla., to participate in Fleet Week.

Seabee Progress in Haiti Saving Lives

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist James G. Pinsky

April 14, 2010 - PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Work performed by Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7's Air Detachment is having a significant and immediate impact saving Haitian lives at Camp Petionville in Port-au-Prince.

"Although we are less then half way through the mitigation construction, we have already seen the result of our hard work," said Camp Petionville project leader, Navy Lt. Jason Killian, a Civil Engineer Corps(CEC) officer assigned to Joint Task Force (JTF) Haiti's J7 engineers. "There was a heavy rain on Friday that put our work to the test. As we walked through the camp at night we were praised by the Haitians who live there for our work and thanked for keeping them out of the possible flood."

Camp Petionville is a 50,000-man internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Port-au-Prince situated on a resort retreat in the Petionville suburb of Port-au-Prince. The camp began when small bands of survivors displaced by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake settled in and around the spacious land. As word spread throughout the region the population grew and the relief organization J/P HRO, chaired by Sean Penn, began managing what became known as Camp Petionville.

Penn asked the military to help - and they did.

"At our request, the military engineers (JTF-Haiti) did an original assessment of Camp Petionville and from that meeting we felt that the current situation put people at high risk particularly related to floods and mudslides," said Penn. "With the proper action these effects could be mitigated to save lives."

JTF-Haiti's answer for Camp Petionville's problems was NMCB 7's Air Detachment.

"The Seabees came in and did another assessment that jived pretty close with the Army assessment, so it helped validate that we had some very serious problems and they needed to be dealt with immediately," said Penn.

JTF-Haiti responded quickly reaching out to the Seabees at NMCB 7 teaming them up with their own engineers from JTF-Haiti's J7 department and the United Nations, and non-governmental organization (NGO) engineers who went right to work at Camp Petionville earning immediate praise from Penn.

"The U.S. Military has been the pace-setting face of humanitarianism in this country," said Penn. "Since the very beginning with the 82nd Airborne up to now with the huge participation by the Seabees, it has been, to the man, such an impressive effort here. The interaction has been respectful, humane and heartfelt. It has made a real impression here and it has helped the NGO's because it's one more face of concern," said Penn.

The plan to help Camp Petionville was drafted by JTF-Haiti's J7 department which is a combination of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Air Force engineering professionals from around the globe.

"We are operating together on this project as a seasoned team working through issues, tackling logistical challenges, changing the design to meet the demands, and taking care of the people that we are here to help," said Killian.

According to Killian, the scope of work for the Seabees at Camp Petionville falls into three basic engineering categories: flood control and drainage, landslide prevention and shoring, and safety and egress. Flood control and drainage will be addressed with an entire grid of primary and secondary drainage ditches throughout the camp. For landslide prevention and shoring a variety of methods from wood shoring to sand bag walls will be used to stabilize the hillsides that have been excavated and are in danger of falling, and for safety and egress 600 meters of fence will be placed along the main drainage ditch to prevent people from falling into the water during a heavy rain along with building a gravel roadway complete with deep v-ditches and culverts also to control water runoff.

The help for the Haitians arrived faster than Penn expected giving the famous Hollywood actor turned humanitarian a crash course in just what a Seabee is, and what the legendary "Can Do!" spirit is all about.

"The Seabees are decisive, clear gentlemen of the first order and they have my highest level of confidence," said Penn. "The changes here have been so dramatic and so fast even without their own gear, their equipment. They found equipment to use either from NGO's or contractors, and the work they have been able to do has been a miracle."

Part of that miracle has been the Haitians themselves who have contributed by the hundreds in a cash-for-work program run through the United Nations.

"The efforts of the cash for work laborers is the main factor in our success," said Killian. "We are currently running 160 people in this system and plan to have more than 240 soon. They want to work to help their neighbors and they put forth a solid effort every day to make their camp a better place to live."

The Seabees and their leadership understand the critical role their work plays at Camp Petionville.

"My Seabees, led by Builder 2nd Class Thomas Camara, are focused on the importance of their work and the impact they are making on a daily basis," said Lt. Beau Brooks, officer in charge, NMCB 7 Air Detachment. "They remind me everyday what it means to be a Seabee, what is really important, and that in the end it's all just about people helping people for a better life tomorrow."

Suspected Suicides Down Among Active Duty Soldiers

From a Defense Department News Release

April 14, 2010 - WASHINGTON, April 14, 2010 - The number of suspected suicides among soldiers serving on active duty dropped slightly for the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, according to information Army officials released today.

Suspected suicides among active duty soldiers from Jan. 1 to March 31 this year were down to 71 from 76 during the first three months of last year, officials said.

Suspected suicides among soldiers on active duty were down to 39 for the first quarter of this calendar year from 53 last year. But the number of suspected suicides among soldiers not on active duty was up this year to 32, from 23 over the first three months of last year.

Thirteen soldiers died from suspected suicides last month – 11 on active duty and one each in the National Guard and Army Reserve – compared to 14 in February.

Of the March active-duty deaths, one has been confirmed as suicide and 12 remain under investigation. Of the February active-duty deaths, two are confirmed suicides and 12 remain under investigation.

Among reserve-component soldiers not on active duty, there were eight potential suicides in March, all in the National Guard. None of the cases has been confirmed, and all remain under investigation.

Among that same group in February, there were eight potential suicides – six in the National Guard, two in Army Reserve. Of those, five were confirmed as suicides and three are still being investigated.

The Army, in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health and civilian research institutions, is preparing to launch several large, representative surveys of soldiers as a major component of a five-year study, Col. Chris Philbrick, director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force, said today.

"The goal of the study is to provide the tools and information that will not only help the Army mitigate suicides and suicidal behavior, but will help our country address the problem of suicide among all Americans," Philbrick said.

The task force is completing a review of more than 600 programs related to suicide prevention, Philbrick said. The Army intends to refine programs and focus on those that provide commanders the best tools to address behavioral health concerns.

Moreover, Philbrick said, the Army recently established the Specialized Suicide Augmentation Response Team to help commanders with local problems regarding suicides. "This is a team of experts that can be dispatched to augment local command response to an increase [in suicides], identify gaps in policies and procedures, and offer recommendations for improvement."

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, every day of the year.

Guam Residents Thank Navy for Celebration at Historic Village

By Oyaol Ngirairikl, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

April 14, 2010 - SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Former residents of the pre-World War II village of Sumay and their descendants celebrated their heritage April 11 thanks to a working partnership between U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) and three local mayors' offices.

"We're so thankful and grateful for the United States Navy for opening this place up for us today," said Mayor Ben Gumataotao of the village of Piti and one of the event organizers.

"Back to Sumay Day" allowed former residents and descendants of the historic village to return as a community and learn more about their history.

Sumay was one of the island's most prosperous villages with a population of more than 2,000 in the late 1930s. However, the residents had to leave the village as the Imperial Forces of Japan invaded Guam during World War II. What now remain are remnants of the past, such as a Sumay Cemetery, which are preserved by the Navy on NBG.

Capt. Scott Galbreaith, NBG commanding officer, said the event was one way to reinforce an already strong relationship between the Navy and the island's community. It was also a way to honor the men and women, both civilians and military, who fought and died during World War II.

"We need to get along as neighbors now and recognize that a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices and those sacrifices need to be honored," Galbreaith said.

The day-long event started with a Catholic Mass attended by hundreds of "man'amko," or elders, of Guam's Chamorro people, and their families.

With tears in her eyes, Marie Luarca, whose mother's family lived in Sumay, said she appreciated the opportunity to attend Mass at the old village with her family. She added it was great meeting other elderly and their children to hear their family stories.

"I just hope that my generation and those to follow can continue to maintain the memories of our parents who were born and raised here," Luarca said.

Mass was followed by presentations of the village's history shared by WWII survivors and historians, among them Tony Palomo, a Chamorro historian and author.

Palomo spoke of Sumay's history as a port for ships and amphibious planes that brought military personnel and visitors to the island.

"Sumay has always played a tremendous role because it's the first place you get to when you get to Guam," Palomo said.

Gumataotao, who was born in Sumay in 1927 and survived the Japanese attack on the area in 1941, said it saddened him that his home was lost in the war. Gumataotao, a retired U.S. Navy master chief, said he's glad to see the area continues to serve as a platform from which the U.S. can launch forces in protection of the nation, the island and the freedoms all American citizens enjoy.

"Thank the Lord the United States won this war otherwise we would not be here," Gumataotao said.

At the event, there were also a display of photos and old newspaper clippings portraying life on Guam in the 1930s, a traditional Chamorro fiesta and presentations by cultural performers.

Guam Commands Awarded for Community Service

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Peter Lewis, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

April 14, 2010 - SANTA RITA, GUAM (NNS) -- Three U.S. Navy commands on Guam were among six commands recognized April 6 for their community service excellence as Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) announced the Navy Community Service Program (NSCP)/Project Good Neighbor Community Service Flagship Award winners for 2009.

The award recognizes the best volunteer-supported program or special project that promotes outreach activities throughout the year to establish and restore hope to the community.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead released a message selecting U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) as winner in the large overseas category, U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas as winner in the medium overseas category, and Mobile Mine Assembly Unit (MOMAU) 8 as winner in the small overseas category.

A command effort from NBG saw 159 Sailors volunteer 2,573 hours to help members of Guam Animals In Need, Salvation Army, Guam Department of Parks and Recreation, Special Olympics Guam, the Hagatna soup kitchen, several elementary and high schools, and many other worthy causes.

According to Chief Master-at-Arms (AW/SW) Jason Smith, NBG's community service coordinator, receiving this award reflects the command's commitment to volunteerism.

"U.S. Naval Base Guam takes pride in continuing to contribute to the betterment of the community for the benefit of all who live within it," Smith said.

The 26 volunteers from NAVFAC Marianas accumulated 825 service hours, helping causes such as the Girl Scouts of Guam, Island Girl Power, Special Olympics Guam, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Harry S. Truman Elementary School.

Receiving the award shows that partnerships between the commands of Guam and the island's community are mutually beneficial, according to Mark Cruz, a civilian volunteer from NAVFAC Marianas.

"Receiving such a prestigious award really serves to validate all the hard work all the Navy and civilian volunteers put in," Cruz said. "I feel like our efforts are being recognized and really make a difference in the community."

Of the 35 service members at MOMAU 8, all are volunteers, and they were able to spend 688 hours helping is sister village of Talofofo, Talofofo Elementary School, Commander William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School and the Guam National Park Service.

"The crew of MOMAU 8 exemplifies the core value of commitment with the long-lasting dedication and continued excitement for this program and for the positive effect it has on our sister village of Talofofo," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Kleva, MOMAU 8 commanding officer.

The Navy Community Service Program was launched in 1992 by then-CNO Adm. Frank B. Kelso. The program's goal is to foster and nurture community ties with the Navy and promote volunteerism while developing better naval leaders through experience in the program.

The program consists of five flagships, including the Health, Safety, and Fitness Flagship, Personal Excellence Partnership Flagship, Project Good Neighbor Flagship, Campaign Drug Free Flagship and Environmental Stewardship Flagship. A separate Navy command sponsors and administers each flagship.

Gates Arrives in Colombia to Expand on Security Successes

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 14, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here this evening to offer congratulations and support for Colombia's progress in the fight against its insurgency and the lessons it is sharing with its neighbors in the region.

Gates, who traveled here from Peru, is slated to meet with President Alvaro Uribe and Defense Minister Gabriel Silva Luján to discuss progress in the offensive against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia and other paramilitary groups.

The secretary also plans to praise Colombia for the training it already provides the Peruvians and Mexicans, and seek ways to expand it in the region.

"They face similar types of problems with insurgents and narcotics and crime, so figuring out how we can further help them in their own efforts and also in their cooperation with one another is an important opportunity," Gates told reporters traveling with him.

"[The Colombians] clearly have learned some very important lessons in terms of counterinsurgency," Gates said, as well as the benefit of both military and civil approaches to address not just the threat, but also its root causes. "This is really about more than just military-to-military relationships in these countries." The Colombian military also has learned valuable lessons in the human rights arena that could be helpful to Peru and other neighbors, Gates said.

This broad expertise could have big payoff beyond the region, including Afghanistan. Colombia has provided training for Afghan police forces, and Gates noted that it plans to send a contingent to Afghanistan to support of the International Security Assistance Force there.

While highlighting successes of the U.S.-funded Plan Colombia, Gates' talks here are expected to forge new ground in advancing a new defense cooperation agreement. The U.S.-Colombian Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed in October, formalized the military-to-military relationship between the two countries to better address narcotics production and trafficking, terrorism, illicit smuggling and humanitarian and natural disasters.

The meeting is expected to be Gates' last with Uribe before the Colombian president leaves office in August. Gates said he'll take the opportunity to acknowledge Uribe's leadership in confronting his country's challenges.

"Uribe, in my view, is a great hero and has been an enormously successful president of Colombia," Gates told reporters. "The key ... will be to consolidate the achievements, and particularly our partnership, on an enduring basis so that this relationship continues to thrive and grow after President Uribe leaves office."

Series allows New Port Richey man to relive brother's WWII heroics

Don Basilone was 12 years old when his older brother, John, went off to fight in World War II. John, 23, had enlisted in the Marines in 1940 and eventually was shipped off to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. During the bloody battle of Guadalcanal, Gunnery Sgt. Basilone held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 16-member unit was reduced to two men.

Read On
http://suncoastpinellas.tbo.com/content/2010/apr/05/051017/series-allows-new-port-richey-man-relive-brothers-/

Gates Expresses Confidence in U.N Progress on Iran

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 14, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed confidence today in progress being made toward passing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would ratchet up sanctions against Iran for refusing to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Such a resolution could go a long way not only in isolating Iran, but also in providing a new legal platform for some countries to impose even more stringent sanctions against it, Gates said in response to a reporter's question during a news conference with Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Rey.

Gates said he left for Latin America before he could get details about President Barack Obama's exchange with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier this week in conjunction with the Nuclear Security Summit. While acknowledging that he doesn't know exactly where China stands at this point, Gates said, "all indications are that they were moving in the direction of being willing to support a resolution."

China is a member of the U.N. Security Council, so all resolutions require its approval.

Gates said the exact content of a resolution is less important than the fact that it would further isolate Iran from the rest of the world. It also could also serve as a "launching pad for more specific sanctions by individual countries and cooperating nations" such as the European Union, he said.

Speaking to reporters yesterday during his flight to Lima, Gates said he doesn't believe reports that Tehran could acquire a nuclear weapon within a matter of months. He said a more realistic timeframe, based on most intelligence estimates he's seen, is "at least a year," and possibly longer.

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 14, 2010

AIR FORCE

Rockwell Collins, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded a $208,905,836 contract which will provide for the Senior Leadership Command, Control, and Communications System - Airborne Communications program. The contractor will provide secure voice, data, and video systems for the very important person special air mission fleet, up to 40 aircraft, to include: communication system operator work stations; passenger stations voice over internet protocol phones; video teleconferencing systems; classified and unclassified local area networks; and training, maintenance, and logistic support. At this time, $8,560,163 has been obligated. 653d ELSG/PK, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA8726-10-D-0003).

ARMY

Lockheed Martin Corp., Syracuse, N.Y., was awarded on April 12 a $108,490,207 firm-fixed-price contract. The government intends to procure 17 enhanced AN/TPQ-36 (EQ-36) radar systems with the associated sustained operational group and mission essential group (MEG) non-recurring engineering and MEG installation under an undefinitized contractual action with an obligation of 49 percent of the estimated value. Work is to be performed in Syracuse, N.Y., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 8, 2010. Sole-source bids were solicited with one bid received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-06-C-T004).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on April 12 a $68,737,950 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 1,770 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, CCTA-ADCA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111).

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on April 9 a $46,242,947 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for the issuance of an undefinitized contract action for the purchase of AH-64 Apache modernized target acquisition designation sight/pilot night vision sensors systems; associated integration and installation; associated spares; TADS electronic display and control glass; unique meeting support; and troubleshooting and repair for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Netherlands. The April 9 obligation of $46,242,947 is 49 percent of the UCA not-to-exceed amount of $94,373,362. 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. Army Contracting Commands, AMCOM Contracting Center, CCAM-AP-B, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0169).

Honeywell International, Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., was awarded on April 9 a $12,150,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is for developing technologies to improve and enable silicon carbide power devices and component technologies. These technologies will enable military and commercial systems to be more efficient while operating at higher temperatures and small footprints. These technologies are critical to meet performance requirements for advanced military and U.S. energy platforms. Work is to be performed in Phoenix, Ariz. (0.98 percent); Durham, N.C. (48.65 percent); Niskayuna, N.Y. (9.87 percent); Fayetteville, Ark. (9.57 percent); East Butler, Pa. (15.16 percent); Longwood, Fla. (6.69 percent); and Midland, Mich.; (8.09 percent), with an estimated completion date of May 29, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Army Research Development & Engineering Command Contracting Center, Research Triangle Park, Durham, N.C., is the contracting activity (DAAD19-01-C-0067).

ACC Construction Company, Inc., Augusta, Ga., was awarded on April 9 a $20,800,464 firm-fixed-price contract for the design/build of special operations facility battalion and operations complex, Phase 4, Fort Campbell, Ky. Work is to be performed in Fort Campbell, Ky., with an estimated completion date of June 8, 2012. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with nine bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0043).

Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Phoenix, Ariz., was awarded on April 9 a $32,766,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This construction project, entitled "Design/build Special Operations Forces Fuel Cell and Corrosion Control Hangars, Cannon Air Force Base, Curry County, New Mexico," consists of the design and construction of a 32,087 square foot fuel cell hangar and a 57,674 square foot corrosion control hangar with all associated site work, site utilities, Anti Terrorism Force Protection requirements, parking lots, airfield ramps, underground electrical duct bank to substation, and new electrical switch gear and vault at the substation. Work is to be performed in Curry County, N.M., with an estimated completion date of May 2, 2010. Twenty bids were solicited with 13 bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, CESPA-CT, Albuquerque, N.M., is the contracting activity (W912PP-10-C-0015).

Osborne Co., Inc., Eden, N.C., was awarded on April 8 a $8,321,151 firm-fixed-price contract to construct 6.03 miles of roads from the Harmony Church cantonment area to the new Good Hope maneuver/training area. This new roadway will require the construction of a bridge over US Highway 27/280 and a replacement bridge on Jamestown Road across the Weems Pond spillway. Construction of the Weems Pond Bridge will require a temporary bridge on Jamestown Road. Supporting facilities will include: clearing and grubbing; fine and rough grading; erosion control systems; grassing; storm drainage; guard rails; force protection fencing and gates; and utility protection. Work is to be performed in Fort Benning, Ga., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 10, 2011. Six bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W912HN-09-D-0015).

Design Build S.E., Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, was awarded on April 8 a $5,990,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the recovery design/build roof and exterior repairs, Ramey Army Reserve Center, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Work is to be performed in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, with an estimated completion date of May 14, 2011. Bids were posted on the World Wide Web with five bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0047).

RCG Enterprises, Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded on April 9 a $12,489,158 firm-fixed-price contract for Lake Pontchartrain and vicinity, Lakefront Airport T-walls, LPV 105.01. Work is to be performed in Orleans Parish, La., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 11, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 11 bids received. West New Orleans East, Hurricane Protection Office, Orleans Parish, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-10-C-0054).

CACI, Inc., Federal, Chantilly, Va., was awarded on April 9 an $8,788,911 firm-fixed-price contract. The contractor will provide simulation-supported battle command staff training exercise for pre- and post-mobilizing active and reserve component combat, combat support, and combat service support brigade and battalion equivalents headquarters. Work is to be performed in Fort Dix, N.J. (20 percent); Dublin, Calif. (20 percent); Birmingham, Ala. (20 percent); Arlington Heights, Ill. (20 percent); and Houston, Texas (20 percent), with an estimated completion date of Jan. 1, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Mission & Installation Contracting Command, MICC Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., is the contracting activity (W91247-10-C-0032).

NAVY

CACI Technologies, Inc., Chantilly, Va., is being awarded a $37,744,674 modification to previously awarded contract (N63394-04-D-1262) for systems engineering services in support of integrated ship self defense. This procurement is to provide professional engineering, technical, training, software, project service, and logistics services and products necessary to support the Ship Self Defense System of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division, Port Hueneme, Calif. Services will be required at shore sites, land-based test facilities, shipyards, and aboard ships in ports and at sea. Work will be performed in Port Hueneme, Calif. (35 percent); Wallops Island, Va. (20 percent); Crystal City, Va. (20 percent); San Diego, Calif. (10 percent); Little Creek, Va. (10 percent); and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (5 percent). Work is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $781,438 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Port Hueneme Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $10,994,224 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-C-0050) to provide 6,600 flight hours of persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance unmanned aircraft vehicle services in support of naval maritime missions. Work will be performed in Bingen, Wash. (97 percent), and St. Louis, Mo. (3 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $10,994,224 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Network Centric Systems, St. Petersburg, Fla., is being awarded an $8,090,839 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5203) for Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system production. CEC is a sensor netting system that significantly improves battle-force anti-air warfare capability by extracting and distributing sensor-derived information and making the data available to all participating CEC units. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (97.3 percent) and the government of the United Kingdom (2.7 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Largo, Fla. (47 percent); St. Petersburg, Fla. (20 percent); Dallas, Texas (18 percent); and McKinney, Texas (15 percent), and is expected to be completed by January 2012. 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.

Shaw Environmental, Inc., Concord, Calif., is being awarded $7,463,914 for task order #0010 under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N68711-01-D-6011) for non-time critical removal action for three solid waste disposal areas (SWDA) at Installation Restoration Site 12 at Naval Station Treasure Island. The work to be performed provides for additional soil characterization and excavation within the three SWDA. Work will be performed in San Francisco, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics Information Technology, Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $6,221,873 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide support to the U.S. Joint Forces Command for studies and analyses, logistics support, and specialized program support. Work will be performed in Suffolk, Va., and is expected to be completed Jan. 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. The contract is a sole-source pursuant to the authority of 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c) (1); only one responsible source and no other supplies and services will satisfy agency requirements. Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, Norfolk, Contracting Department, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N00189-10-D-Z040).

Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo., is being awarded an estimated $5,545,404 cost-plus-incentive-fee, fixed-price-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-priced, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to conduct a software requirements review and system design review, and will provide the Navy the means to establish initial conditions for naval operational oceanographic models, allowing them to represent both the current and predicted ocean thermal structure. The objective of this acquisition is to provide an on-orbit asset that will deliver altimetry data to the Navy's central data processing ground site. It will have a capability to measure mesoscale ocean topography with at least a three centimeters precision for a mean mission duration of at least six years. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $499,625,341. Work will be performed in Boulder, Colo. (46 percent); France (43 percent); Clifton, N.J. (8 percent); and Golden, Colo. (3 percent). Work is expected be completed by November 2010; with options exercised, the work will continue until 2019. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems e-Commerce Central Web sites, with an unlimited number of proposals solicited and one offer received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N00039-10-D-0068).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Belmont Instrument Corp.*, Billerica, Mass., is being awarded a maximum $31,611,102 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for blood fluid warming system with accessories and repair parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There were 99 proposals originally solicited with 68 responses. The date of performance completion is April 13, 2015. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2D1-10-D-8208).

McClellan Jet Services*, McClellan, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $25,126,757 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for jet fuel. Other location of performance is California. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There was one proposal originally solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is March 31, 2014. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-0015).

MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory (NMSU PSL), Las Cruces, N.M., is being awarded a sole-source cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (HQ0147-10-D-0051) for $6,775,921. Under this contract, NMSU PSL will provide sustainment efforts to maintain, test, and certify Lance missile equipment for use during launch operations; maintain, test, and certify as operational the mobile telemetry van to support launch operations; provide launch services for all Lance target missile system launch operations; and build, test, install, integrate, and monitor telemetry packages required during specified target missile launch operations. The work will be performed in Las Cruces, N.M. The performance period is through March 2015. Fiscal year 2010 research, development, test, and evaluation funds will be used for the initial task order for equipment storage, maintenance, and management effort. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.

Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors work together to give sight to Alaskan villagers


by Staff Sgt. J. Paul Croxon
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

4/14/2010 - KOTZEBUE, Alaska (AFNS) -- In a remote Alaskan village, 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle, an 8-year-old boy named Jason complained to his parents that he couldn't see the school chalkboard. But Jason received his first pair of glasses from Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors deployed here as part of Operation Artic Care.

Operation Arctic Care id an annual innovative readiness training operation where medical team members deploy to isolated locations in Alaska and provide care to communities with little or no access to medical facilities.

The optometry team here is made up of active duty, Guard and Reserve components and is part of the main hub for eyeglass fabrication and is able to rapidly diagnose and correct common vision problems.

"I was anxious about what types of eye health problems we would see on this deployment," said Tech. Sgt. Christy Shortridge, an ophthalmic technician and traditional reservist from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. "The most common problem we're seeing is (far-sightedness), which means the patient can't see things up close but can see things in the distance. We're able to hand these patients a new pair of glasses in a day that would sometimes take weeks to make for base unit."

Part of that speed comes from the joint nature of the makeshift optometry clinic. The Reserve and Guard doctors and technicians work with their active-duty counterparts who deployed with the equipment needed to make the glasses.

Patients like Jason typically receive an exam by a technician like Sergeant Shortridge, that, among other things, narrows down his prescription. Then he his eyes are dilated and an optometrist gives him a more extensive exam and, if needed, writes a prescription before Jason picks out his frames.

"The nice thing about this is that the patients get to pick from a selection of civilian frames," said Tech. Sgt. David Hauser of the deployed team. "They're not getting military issue glasses."

Jason's frame selection and prescription are then given to the fabrication section in an adjacent room where Sailors and Soldiers find the right lenses from a stock of more than 13,000 and grind them to fit his frames using automated grinding machines. The lenses and frames are then assembled and given quality checks before giving Jason his first pair of glasses.

"It only takes about five minutes to complete the fabrication," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Phillip Cowger, deployed from the Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity. "Once we get the prescription we basically find the lens, find the axis and grind them to a pattern. This is the first deployment I've been on and it's great that we're able to help fellow Americans who have a real need."

"About eight out of 10 patients leave with a prescription," said Maj. Jeff Autrey, an optometrist deployed from Davis-Mothan AFB, Ariz. "Out of those needing glasses, we're able to make glasses for about 90 percent of them. For the rest we fax in the prescription and they are sent out."

For the team, the opportunity to improve the vision and eye health of the villagers is a rewarding way to train. Giving a child his first pair of glasses is even more special.

"It's grand. It's great," Sergeant Shortridge said. "Across the board in optometry, when you can help people see it's a great feeling. Imagine walking around fuzzy all the time and then being able to see clearly. It's just great."

Air Force officials reduce Palace Chase obligation

by Daniel Elkins
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

4/14/2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force officials here recently reduced the Reserve commitment for officers and enlisted members participating in Palace Chase temporarily as part of Air Force management measures to balance the force while meeting a congressionally mandated end strength.

The three-to-one officer and two-for-one enlisted Reserve obligation for each remaining year of active-duty service commitment have been reduced to a one-for-one commitment.

The expanded fiscal 2010 Palace Chase Program provides Airmen in select Air Force specialties an additional waiver for active duty service commitment to transfer from active military service to the Air Reserve component.

Eligible Airmen may apply for the expanded waiver through June 30 and must separate from active duty by Sept. 1. The obligation reduction does not apply to members separating under regular Palace Chase guidelines.

"Palace Chase allows the total force to retain critical skills and training invested in the development of Airmen and provides them a means to continue serving," said Senior Master Sgt. Cindy Clendenen, the Palace Chase Program superintendent at the Air Force Personnel Center here. "The decreased mobility also allows Airmen to maintain stability for their families."

Senior Master Sgt. Sean Strong, the Western Sector superintendent for Air National Guard in-service recruiting, said family and education top the list of reasons why people choose Palace Chase.

"Many active-duty members want to pursue a college degree full time, which can be tough to do given the active-duty operations tempo, shift work and permanent changes of station," Sergeant Strong said. "Just as many are looking to separate so they can be near loved ones again, settle down or start a new career."

Other advantages include having control over where one chooses to live, and the flexibility of serving just two days a month and 15 days of annual training per year, he said.

Keeping that sense of military camaraderie with a new level of freedom and independence along with retaining access to most of the military benefits they enjoy now are also key factors why Airmen choose to continue their service in the Reserve or Guard, Sergeant Strong said.

Air Force leaders in November initially expanded Palace Chase transfers by waiving active-duty service commitments to allow officers to voluntarily fulfill their commitment through the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a force management measure to help meet a fiscal 2010 end strength of 331,700. However, an insufficient response to the program led Air Force officials to retool the transfer obligation period as part of their expanded measures announced March 25 and appeal to a wider number of Airmen, including enlisted.

One Airman taking advantage of the opportunity to separate from active duty early is Capt. Nicole Hagerman, the aircraft maintenance unit officer in charge for the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Among her considerations, what appealed most to the five-year veteran was a chance to be closer to home while still serving in the Air Force at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind.

"It all really depends on what the individual is looking for," Captain Hagerman said. "I am looking to get closer to my family and start a family of my own. It is sad leaving active duty, but exciting about starting a new life."

Sergeant Clendenen said she recommends the first step members should take if interested in Palace Chase is to contact an in-service recruiter for additional information on the program. Reserve in-service recruiters are located at every military personnel section, and the Air National Guard has in-service recruiters at 24 bases. To find the nearest Guard in-service recruiter, call (800) TO-GO-ANG or visit www.goang.com.

1st Lt. Danielle Hummert of Malmstrom AFB, Mont., also recommended talking with someone who went through the process and remaining patient.

"Each step in the process takes time. It can be a little overwhelming trying to navigate each step and ensuring the application is received by AFPC with all of the requirements," she said. "Bottom line, talk to the in-service recruiter frequently, read all of the application instructions, and be proactive. You are the only person that is most concerned about your future."

As a military personnel section program manager for the 341st Mission Support Group, Lieutenant Hummert had conducted a few re-enlistment ceremonies for the Reserve in-service recruiter at Malmstrom AFB before asking him to explain Palace Chase in greater detail.

"The thing that appealed to me the most about this program was the fact that I could still serve in the Air Force part time while being able to pursue a second career or go back to school," she said.

She admitted that leaving active duty was the most difficult part of her decision, but lists family as foremost among reasons for joining the Reserve. Other considerations she cited in her decision included job security in an intimidating civilian job market, financial concerns and the challenges of her husband also serving on active duty.

"Deciding to serve was one of the best decisions I have made," Lieutenant Hummert said. "It is difficult to think about life without the Air Force being a huge part of it." Lieutenant Hummert separates in June after three years of service and will be assigned to the 940th Reserve Wing at Beale AFB, Calif. "However, the Air Force instilled in me many marketable leadership and management skills that I'm sure will pay off."

Separations officials at AFPC said they will approve applications based on Air Force specialty manning in order to preserve minimum sustainment levels. Consideration of the expanded waiver for those previously approved for Palace Chase under force management will be made on a case-by-case basis considering the best interest of the Air Force.

Eligible Airmen may submit Palace Chase applications using the online application located on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight. To learn more about eligibility criteria for Palace Chase and any possible restrictions under force management, visit the AFPC personnel services Web site or call the Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

Military's Top Doctors Discuss Centers of Excellence

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

April 14, 2010 - The military's top doctors were on Capitol Hill yesterday to give their assessment of the Defense Department's Medical Centers of Excellence, four hospital centers they say are on their way to becoming the best in the world for research and treatment. Dr. Charles L. Rice, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and the Army, Navy and Air Force surgeons general also told members of the House Armed Services Committee's military personnel subcommittee that they are working to open the remaining two medical centers more quickly and run all four more efficiently.

"Like the Congress, we remain concerned about duplication of services" and other coordination and administrative problems, Rice said, but he expressed confidence that the department is moving in the right direction.

The three surgeons general soon will offer a plan "to help us get our infrastructure in place so we can execute more efficiently," he said.

Rice, who assumed his position six weeks ago, said department officials have struggled to bring together the diverse specialties – including fields such as psychology, pharmacology and engineering – inherent in the Centers of Excellence.

"Bringing this group of disparate professionals together is a complex undertaking," he said. "That said, we all feel the sense of urgency."

The variety of specialties is necessary, Rice said, noting that no "gold standard" diagnostic test exists for the common diagnosis of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He also acknowledged a rough start in the effort. "I think we've had some growing pains," he said, "but we are beginning to get our arms around it. As time has gone by, there's been the realization that keeping the organizational responsibility in what was intended to be a policy development office was not the best choice."

The centers, mandated by Congress, include the National Intrepid Center of Excellence for psychological health and traumatic brain injury in Bethesda, Md., and the Center for the Intrepid for physical rehabilitation in San Antonio. Two more centers – one focused on vision and hearing, the other on neuroscience regeneration -- are being developed, defense officials said.

"Ultimately, these centers will achieve their original vision," Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, said. The centers are a single point of contact for vetting new ideas, bringing the best practices and research from the services and the Veterans Affairs Department, he said.

"I foresee the day when the centers are recognized worldwide as the best" in innovative care, he added.

Rice and the military surgeons general said the congressional mandate has value.

"What you did was galvanize the department's attention around a set of injuries that we did not [focus on] in the past," Rice said, "in part because this is a different kind of war with different kinds of injuries, and because our success in the field is greater now" than in past wars, Rice said. He suggested, however, and members of the subcommittee agreed, that the Centers of Excellence should be re-evaluated in five to seven years.

"Each person thinks they have the answer," Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Bruce Green said. "This effort is about trying to find out what it is we need, and how to prove it's going to do what we say it's going to do."

Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. (Dr.) Adam Robinson said those running the centers are working toward efficiencies by trying to ensure they don't duplicate efforts in areas such as information technology, engineering and public affairs.

"Part of the slowness in getting the centers up is in trying to figure out how we execute this," Robinson said. "It's been slow, but it's been fruitful."

The centers have made fast improvements in battlefield and post-combat care, Schoomaker said. "We've essentially managed what community hospitals do, but across three continents ... and thousands of miles," he said.

"The respect that our line commanders have for this, all the way up to the senior leaders of the Army, is very profound," he added.

Army Releases March Suicide Data

April 14, 2010 - The Army released suicide data today for the month of March. Among active-duty soldiers in March, there were 13 (11 active Army; one Army National Guard; one Army Reserves) potential suicides: one (active Army) has been confirmed as suicide, and 12 (10 active Army; one Army National Guard; one Army Reserves) remain under investigation. For February, the Army reported 14 potential suicides (11 active Army; one Army National Guard; two Army Reserves) among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, two of those (two active Army) have been confirmed as suicides, and 12 (nine active Army; one Army National Guard; two Army Reserves) remain under investigation.

During March, among reserve-component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were eight (eight Army National Guard; no Army Reserves) potential suicides: none have been confirmed; all eight remain under investigation. For February, among that same group, there were eight (six Army National Guard; two Army Reserves) potential suicides. Of those, five (three Army National Guard; two Army Reserves) were confirmed as suicides and three (three Army National Guard) are pending determination of the manner of death.

For reference, the Army's total for 1st Quarter Calendar Year 2009 was 53 for active-duty and 23 for not-on-active-duty. For 1st Quarter Calendar Year 2010, the totals were 39 for active-duty and 32 for not-on-active-duty.

"In partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health and civilian research institutions, the Army is preparing to launch several large representative surveys of soldiers as a major component of an ongoing five-year study," said Col. Chris Philbrick, director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "The goal of the study is to provide the tools and information that will not only help the Army mitigate suicides and suicidal behavior, but will help our country address the problem of suicide among all Americans."

"The Army Suicide Prevention Task Force is completing a review of more than 600 programs related to health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention," Philbrick said. The Army intends to refine programs and focus on those that provide commanders the best tools to address the key issues that cause behavioral health concerns."

"To help commanders with local concerns regarding suicides, the Army recently established a Specialized Suicide Augmentation Response Team, Philbrick said. "This is a team of experts that can be dispatched to augment local command response to an increase, identify gaps in policies and procedures, and offer recommendations for improvement."

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental U.S. is 1-800-342-9647; their Web site address is http://www.militaryonesource.com . Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.

The DCoE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.Org. and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil/ .

Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/.

U.S. Army Program Supports Warriors in Transition

Nicole Romanies
FHP&R Strategic Communications

April 14, 2010 - The U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command (WTC) is a major subordinate command built from the ground up to successfully care for and transition wounded, ill and injured soldiers and their families back to the Army, or to civilian life, through a comprehensive program of medical care, rehabilitation, professional development, and personal goals. The program currently serves over 9,000 individuals and has helped nearly 56,000 soldiers since June 2007.

According to Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, Commanding General, Warrior Transition Command Assistant Surgeon General, Warrior Care and Transition, “for 30 years our peacetime Army did not have a coordinated system to care for wounded warriors.”

In the post-Vietnam era, wounded soldiers were sent to one rehabilitation center located in Valley Forge, Pa., but it was soon realized that for a modern, volunteer Army, only one rehabilitation center location was not realistic because the soldier was required to leave his family for a prolonged period of time. Currently, 29 Warrior Transition Units are located across the U.S. to allow soldiers to heal near their family or other base of support.

When a soldier first arrives at a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) it is important for the soldier to choose a transition plan and remain committed. These career options could include returning to the Army, returning to the Army with a new skill, or separating from the Army. The physical recovery of the soldier continues regardless of the career path chosen.

Soldiers are given access to state-of-the-art facilities throughout their recovery and have access to experts in areas such as sports medicine, orthopedics, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress. While recovering, soldiers also have the opportunity to stretch their physical aptitude by participating in adaptive sports and programs like Road 2 Recovery, a cycling program that challenges wounded warriors to complete strenuous bicycle rides that cover hundreds of miles.

“We want to excite each soldier about his future so that he works hard during rehabilitation and sets goals for himself…we view success as directly related to attitude,” said Cheek.

Recently DoD and the U.S. Olympic Committee partnered to provide an athletic opportunity for wounded service members across the nation. The Warrior Games, to be held in May, will bring together 200 wounded, ill and injured athletes from all branches of service to compete in events including swimming, track and field, archery, and cycling. The goal of the Warrior Games is to recognize the role of sport in emphasizing ability over disability.

“The message is that you can have a rich life…you still have abilities,” said Cheek.

WTUs also help with the real world transition of soldiers by offering educational courses, internships, and work experience during the rehabilitation process. The WTC partners with many federal agencies, corporate partners, the VA, educational institutions, and VSOs.

“Most soldiers are worried about their future so the more we can do to help them establish a path to their future the stronger they will work at their reintegration,” said Cheek.

Rehabilitation is not the only benefit soldiers gain from the program; many programs and opportunities offered are useful to family members too. For example, Soldier Family Assistance Centers (SFACs) are located at all WTUs. These centers provide educational information, employment guidance, family counseling, and other resources. Families can enroll in programs and attend sessions specific to individual needs.

“Although we have a tremendous program, it is not a perfect program,” said Cheek. For that reason, the WTC program is constantly evolving. “The next phase [of the program] will be to have a family plan to begin in the next four months or so to complement the soldier’s comprehensive transition plan. By tracking elements of the family plan we can determine how best to help soldiers and families as we move forward into the future.”

For more information about the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command please visit http://wtc.armylive.dodlive.mil/.

Happy Hooligan helps save son's life

(4/9/10) - "Kids will be kids and they're going to do crazy things", said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Jacobson, 119th Wing as he described his son at a news conference that took place at Innovis Health today. On April 1, Jacobson found his son, Karson without a pulse hanging from a rope swing. The 10-year old boy had been playing on the swing that is attached to the rafters in their garage.

Jacobson immediately performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.

"This is one of those things that we're not talking about minutes making a difference, we're talking about seconds," said Dr. Tony Hamilton, emergency room physician at Innovis Health. "Dad knew what to do. He got Karson down, started CPR and started oxygenating him right away. Those first few seconds is what made all the difference."

Karson was admitted into the intensive care unit where he was induced into a coma to control brain swelling. No one was sure of the extent of brain injury until he started waking up five days later.

"When they wake up, you find out you either have a save or you don't," said Dr. Tim Mahoney, surgical doctor at Innovis Health.

Karson started waking up on Monday, but Tuesday was when his family and doctors began to see tremendous recovery.

"What we see in this remarkable young man is that this week he has gotten better and better and he will soon be the boy he was," said Mahoney.

Mohoney attributes the CPR Jacobson performed on Karson and the quick response of FM Ambulance to the boy's successful recovery.

"It was those critical 15 minutes and the dad did all the right things and held it together," said Mahoney.

At the news conference, Karson who was shy in front of the cameras quietly talked about how he was looking forward to seeing his dog, Daisy and thanked everyone for being so supportive.

Jacobson continued with his comments, "I have so many people to thank, of course the N.D. Air National Guard for giving me the training, all the doctors and nurses here and everyone's prayers and thoughts."

When asked about this training and how he knew how to perform CPR, Jacobson explained that CPR is part of the general training that everyone receives at the 119th Wing. He couldn't remember very much of the actual incident, but described himself as being on "auto-pilot" when he was performing CPR on his son.

Mohoney kept the news conference light-hearted, "I keep running into the Guard all the time- I tell ya!" he said, evoking laughter in the crowd. In addition to being a doctor, Mohoney is also the Deputy Mayor for the city of Fargo and has worked with the Guard on many events, to include the recent spring flooding in the area.

Today the Jacobson family will finally get to go home, in their parting comments they described the last week as a blur.

"I was expecting the worst right from the start, so it is very surreal that he has come out so well," said Jacobson. "I am just very thankful. It's a great feeling to see him awake and his big smile. It's the best feeling in the world."

"He's just our little miracle," added Karson's mom, Karen Jacobson.

Academy, VA Team Up for Ambulatory Surgery Services

Ann Patton
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

April 13, 2010 - A $14-million cooperative venture between officials from the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Department of Veterans Affairs, funded by the Department of Defense and VA's Joint Incentive Fund, will bring much-needed ambulatory surgical care to veterans in southern Colorado.

Medical procedures for urology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, ear, nose and throat and general surgery are scheduled to commence for veterans May 1.

"It's all about the vets," said Col. Leslie Ness, the 10th Surgical Operations Squadron administrator. "The biggest thing is that our veterans don't have to travel long distances."

She stressed the additional medical services on base will also alleviate long waits for procedures.

Previously such services were limited to facilities in Denver, and veterans from southern Colorado were forced to travel to Denver for surgical care as well as for the procedures themselves.

Tentative planning originally called for construction of a new building to house the surgical services in Colorado Springs, Colo., but Colonel Ness said the costs proved prohibitive.

Medical staff from the Academy and the VA will work together as one team.

The VA will provide seven registered nurses, two technicians, three nurse anesthetists and surgeons, said Lt. Col. Suzanne Quirao, the squadron operations officer. They will join the Academy's 19 active-duty surgeons, plus Academy nurses and technicians and the joint operation will also include services to families, she said.

Before the 10th Medical Group underwent changes under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, the facility had five operating rooms available, but two were converted for other uses. With the expansion of services to veterans, those two rooms will once again be used for their original intended purpose.

Veteran medical services at the downtown Spruce Street VA facility will continue, and the VA will verify eligibility and make referrals for ambulatory surgical services.

"Things haven't changed," Colonel Ness said. "We will still have all the surgical specialties we had before."

The cooperative venture will also provide additional overlap for all surgical care.

"It will preserve the longevity of ambulatory surgery here in southern Colorado," she said. The staff additions will allow surgical operations to operate independently, even with deployments and down times.

Preparing for the joint venture has required time and painstaking planning but has been worth it, she said.

"It has been a herculean task, but in the end, our VA beneficiaries and tax payers will reap the huge benefits with this project," she said.

Officials reduce Palace Chase obligation

by Daniel Elkins
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs Office

April 14, 2010 - As part of the Air Force’s force management measures to balance the force while meeting a congressionally mandated end strength, officials have temporarily reduced the Reserve commitment for officers and enlisted members participating in Palace Chase. The 3-to-1 officer and 2-for-1 enlisted Reserve obligation for each remaining year of active-duty service commitment have been reduced to a 1-for-1 commitment.

The expanded fiscal 2010 Palace Chase Program provides Airmen in select Air Force specialties an additional waiver for ADSC to transfer from active military service to the Air Reserve component. Eligible Airmen may apply for the expanded waiver through June 30 and must separate from active duty by Sept. 1. The obligation reduction does not apply to members separating under regular Palace Chase guidelines.

"Palace Chase allows the total force to retain critical skills and training invested in the development of Airmen and provides them a means to continue serving," said Senior Master Sgt. Cindy Clendenen, the Palace Chase Program superintendent at the Air Force Personnel Center here. "The decreased mobility also allows Airmen to maintain stability for their families."

Senior Master Sgt. Sean Strong, the Western Sector superintendent for Air National Guard in-service recruiting, said family and education top the list of reasons why people choose Palace Chase.

“Many active-duty members want to pursue a college degree full time, which can be tough to do given the active-duty operations tempo, shift work and permanent changes of station,” Sergeant Strong said. “Just as many are looking to separate so they can be near loved ones again, settle down or start a new career.”

He said other advantages include having control over where one chooses to live, and the flexibility of serving just two days a month and 15 days of annual training per year. Sergeant Strong added keeping that sense of military camaraderie with a new level of freedom and independence along with retaining access to most of the military benefits they enjoy now are also key factors why Airmen choose to continue their service in the Reserve or Guard.

Air Force leaders in November initially expanded Palace Chase transfers by waiving active-duty service commitments to allow officers to voluntarily fulfill their commitment through the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a force management measure to help meet a fiscal 2010 end strength of 331,700. However, an insufficient response to the program led Air Force officials to retool the transfer obligation period as part of their expanded measures announced March 25 and appeal to a wider number of Airmen, including enlisted.

One Airman taking advantage of the opportunity to separate from active duty early is Capt. Nicole Hagerman, the aircraft maintenance unit officer in charge for the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Among her considerations, what appealed most to the five-year veteran was a chance to be closer to home while still serving in the Air Force at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind.

"It all really depends on what the individual is looking for. I am looking to get closer to my family and start a family of my own," said Captain Hagerman, who separates this month to serve one year in the Reserve. "It is sad leaving active duty, but exciting about starting a new life."

Sergeant Clendenen recommends the first step members should take if interested in Palace Chase is to contact an in-service recruiter for additional information on the program. She said Reserve in-service recruiters are located at every military personnel section, and the Guard has in-service recruiters at 24 bases. To find the nearest Guard in-service recruiter, call (800) TO-GO-ANG or visit www.goang.com.

First Lt. Danielle Hummert of Malmstrom AFB, Mont., also recommends talking with someone who went through the process and remaining patient.

"Each step in the process takes time. It can be a little overwhelming trying to navigate each step and ensuring the application is received by AFPC with all of the requirements," she said. "Bottom line, talk to the in-service recruiter frequently, read all of the application instructions, and be proactive. You are the only person that is most concerned about your future."

As a military personnel section program manager for the 341st Mission Support Group, Lieutenant Hummert had conducted a few re-enlistment ceremonies for the Reserve in-service recruiter at Malmstrom before asking him to explain Palace Chase in greater detail.

"The thing that appealed to me the most about this program was the fact that I could still serve in the Air Force part time while being able to pursue a second career or go back to school," she said.

She admits that leaving active duty was the most difficult part of her decision, but lists family as foremost among reasons for joining the Reserve. Other considerations she cited in her decision included job security in an intimidating civilian job market, financial concerns and the challenges of her husband also serving on active duty.

"Deciding to serve was one of the best decisions I have made. It is difficult to think about life without the Air Force being a huge part of it," said Lieutenant Hummert, who separates in June after three years of service and will be assigned to the 940th Reserve Wing at Beale AFB, Calif. "However, the Air Force instilled in me many marketable leadership and management skills that I’m sure will pay off."

Separations officials at the Air Force Personnel Center said they will approve applications based on Air Force specialty manning in order to preserve minimum sustainment levels. They added consideration of the expanded waiver for those previously approved for Palace Chase under force management will be made on a case-by-case basis considering the best interest of the Air Force.

Eligible Airmen may submit Palace Chase applications using the online application located on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight. To learn more about eligibility criteria for Palace Chase and any possible restrictions under force management, visit the AFPC personnel services Web site or call the Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

Guardsman Supports Contracting Efforts



By Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol
380th Air Expeditionary Wing

April 14, 2010 - Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tyson Hall's hometown motto in Middleton, Wis., is the "Good Neighbor City." As a contracting officer with the 380th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron here, Hall also might be considered a "good neighbor" to the many people he supports throughout the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.

"If you got it, we bought it," said Hall, who is deployed from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field in Madison. "As a contracting officer, we appear to be a 'behind-the-scenes' career field within the Air Force. However, we are involved with every squadron or group on base in one way or another."

Hall said the squadron's mission is separated into three flights to service the majority of base acquisitions: commodities, construction and services.

"I work within the commodities flight with three other contracting officers, purchasing for all other squadrons and groups," Hall said. "We purchase items per the customer's request, while remaining within the guidelines as established, and get these items in the hands of the end users as soon as possible at a fair and reasonable price with the best quality commercially available. The workload and days are long, with most guys staying here until midnight -- six days on and one day off."

In a deployed environment, Hall said, the majority of base purchases are directed through the contracting squadron.

"That's done to ensure a streamlined and efficient transaction for a broad range of services, supplies and construction projects," Hall said. "These purchases range from the cleaning of restrooms, providing personnel for food services, construction of living quarters and the installation of slide barriers and traffic spikes. It also includes routine purchases of office furniture, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, security equipment and a variety of other items."

Hall started off his military career as an Army National Guard transportation specialist. He said he soon realized the benefits the Air Force and the Air National Guard had to offer. He re-enlisted to the Air National Guard in 2004 and said he enjoys his time here while being deployed.

"I feel fortunate and privileged to be located in the best squadron on base and working alongside with the best active-duty contracting officers the Air Force has to offer," Hall said. "I joined the military to explore a challenge. It has always been something that has interested me since I saw my dad's basic training yearbook when I was elementary school or heard the stories of and from my grandfather, Jack Hall -- a distinguished World War II veteran.

"The decision was sealed to further explore the opportunities the military had to offer when my cousin, Jon Hall, enlisted in the Marines and my best friend, Jeff Killian, was accepted at West Point," Hall said. "It is, and has been, an honor to be the third generation serving in the military and has made for some interesting and entertaining stories and experiences."

The 380th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron is part of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. The wing is home to the KC-10 Extender, U-2 Dragon Lady, E-3 Sentry and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, and its deployed mission includes air refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.