Military News

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Louisiana Guard Aids Oil Spill Operations

By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens
Louisiana National Guard

May 4, 2010 - Louisiana National Guard members yesterday participated in oil-spill response operations at the Breton Sound Marina in Hopedale, La., with St. Bernard Parish officials and workers from a private company called Oil Mop.

Guardsmen from the 527th Engineer Battalion's 1022nd Engineer Company kept track of the number of oil booms that will be used to collect oil from the water as it reaches the coastline.

The soldiers were given a class on safety and immediately began loading bags of booms and stakes onto boats that are going to put the booms in place.

"As each bag is carefully loaded, it is our job to make sure that everything is counted," said Army Cpl. Caitlyn M. Jones. "That can be a hard task, because this is a big operation, but we are going to do it efficiently."

The soldiers also kept a record of the number of booms being loaded and the boats carrying them.

"We have been looking for a way to keep accountability on what is going out," said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Namon R. Dimitroff. "The Guardsmen are helping us out tremendously, and we appreciate their help."

Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor gains two new members


May 4, 2010 - Two retired Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers with a combined 74 years of military experience took their place of honor among 41 other individuals Sunday (May 2) during the 10th annual Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor induction ceremony in Witmer Hall at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Douglas H. Alfke of Jackson, Wis., and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas E. Gehrke of Monona, Wis., both began their careers during the Vietnam War, and both retired in 2003 following decades of dedicated service to Wisconsin and their nation.

"Despite the difficulties put upon our service members during that time, these two men stood up for what they believed in and never stopped serving - first as traditional Guardsmen, and then full time," said Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, who led the induction with Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Alfke joined the 32nd Infantry Brigade in 1973 after service in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. His enlisted career culminated with his assignment as first sergeant of the Red Arrow Brigade Headquarters Company. Upon his later appointment as a warrant officer, he distinguished himself by providing leadership and mentorship to the brigade's commanders, staff and Soldiers. Upon transfer to the State Headquarters, Alfke served as labor relations manager responsible for all Army and Air National Guard labor issues. He retired following a 34-year military career.

Gehrke served multiple tours in Vietnam as an artilleryman before joining the Wisconsin Army National Guard, where he enjoyed a long career in the logistics, intelligence and operations fields. He spent the last 10 years of his career in the area of training, and greatly impacted the deployment readiness of 64th Troop Command Soldiers. He retired from the Wisconsin Guard after a combined active duty and Guard career spanning 40 years.

Dunbar noted the recent return of more than 3,000 Wisconsin National Guard troops and also the approximately 500 Guard members presently deployed, and linked their present readiness to the mentorship of Soldiers such as Alfke and Gehrke.

"It is their hard work in areas of training, personnel, supply and operations that ensured the future success of our Soldiers when they began deploying in support of the global war on terror," he said. "We owe them a debt of gratitude. None of these accomplishments would be possible without the legacy left behind by Soldiers such as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Alfke and Command Sgt. Major Gehrke - outstanding Soldiers who made a difference."

Airmen provide unique 'open-the-base' capability

by Airman 1st Class Grovert Fuentes-Contreras
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/4/2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Transforming an abandoned airfield or an austere piece of land into a functional airfield in 12 hours might seem impossible to some, but it's just another day's work for the Airmen in Ramstein's 435th Air Mobility Squadron.

For an airfield to be "functional," command and control, aerial port operations, aerospace ground equipment, communications and maintenance capabilities all must be up and running.

As part of the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing headquartered at Ramstein, 435th AMS planners rapidly deploy light and lean cross-functional mobility teams to establish first-in expeditionary airfield operations.

If the mission alone isn't unique enough, there are numerous qualities inherent in the squadron that makes the unit stand out. One in particular is the variety of career fields, from loadmasters to communications support to aircraft maintainers, that must work together to achieve mission success.

The squadron consists of 70 personnel with 21 different Air Force specialty codes; however each mission dictates the number of personnel and amount of cargo necessary to achieve the task.

"Being a part of the (squadron), you get to see what other (specialists) do to build a base from ground up," said Master Sgt. Rodney Anthony, 435th AMS aircraft maintenance flight chief. "Nothing is more impressive than going (to a place) where there is nothing and within 24 hours we have personnel already working to set-up an operating base."

As part of the overall "open the base" mission of the 435th Contingency Response Group, the squadron is a quick-reaction unit for U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Some recent examples of their work include providing primary base support for a recent medical exercise in Serbia and an annual bilateral training exercise in Bulgaria.

In addition to supporting various exercises in the region, the unit also plays a vital role in support to the warfighter.

"Our mission is unique because we have the capability to immediately respond to a crisis within the AOR," said Maj. Leo Gage, 435th AMS director of operations. "We are an organization with a diverse skill set and even send our own Airmen with special operations personnel for exercises to better prepare them for expeditionary combat support to operations Iraqi (Freedom) and Enduring Freedom."

With such job diversity in the squadron, it also gives Airmen the opportunity to acquire knowledge from each other.

"Having just arrived here, I've realized we are so broad and diverse with an impressive mission," said Capt. Jason Powell, 435th AMS logistics support maintenance officer. "I'm still a maintenance officer, but I'm going to be well-rounded when I leave here. I'm going to have a better understanding of the whole Air Force mission, which is going to make me a better Airman."

One more factor that makes the 435th AMS special is having airborne-qualified Airmen, which helps when an area needs to be surveyed to set up landing capabilities.

"The combined 435th AGOW and 86th Airlift Wing operational readiness exercise scenario in January successfully exemplified the CRG capability to conduct airborne operations and insert an assessment team into an airfield to perform the 'open the base' capability," Major Gage said.

The vision for the unit's leaders is to continue to lead the way in contingency and mobility operations. And, they say, with these Airmen, the mission never truly stops.

"From the time we get called to wheels off the ground is only 12 hours," Sergeant Anthony said. "We are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year on standby, and we have 12 hours to have our equipment and personnel ready to go and wheels off the ground. That is just phenomenal."

http://www.computerrepair-online.com

(5/2/10) - On May 3, the North Dakota Air National Guard will welcome Airmen scheduled to return home from a two-week humanitarian mission in Ghana.

The 34 Airmen are members of the 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, who deployed to Ghana April 19 to work on two major construction projects there. They replaced a group of Airmen from the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron from the Michigan Air National Guard.

"It was impressive to see everything that was being accomplished by these North Dakota Airmen," said Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the adjutant general of North Dakota, who visited Ghana last week. "This was a humanitarian mission to provide construction in a training environment.

"Since we began working with the State Partnership Program six years ago, we have formed a great relationship with the people of Ghana and being able to perform missions like these is not only rewarding, but beneficial in today's military environment."

Last week, the Airmen finished work on a complex at the School of Trade Training at Burma Camp, a Ghanaian military complex near Accra, Ghana's capital. They painted the facility, installed doors and windows, replaced walls, completed electrical work, installed fans and air conditioning, plastered the exterior walls and more at the building that will be used to provide training to the Ghanaian Armed Forces.

"We have had the chance to work side by side with the Ghanaian Army Engineers on these projects," said Maj. John Gibbs of the 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron. "We are able to share our skills and learn from each other. This type of training and overall cultural experience is invaluable in our career field."

The Airmen also worked on a project in Takoradi, in Ghana's western region to renovate a medical laboratory facility co-located with the Ghanaian Armed Forces' 2nd Battalion. The Airmen prepared the roof for installation, installed the underground sanitary hookup and completed masonry work in the window and door openings of the building. They also hooked up utilities, such as electric, water and sewer to the building there they stayed during the deployment.

"The Happy Hooligans have a reputation of working hard and getting the job done," said Gibbs. "We have definitely lived up to our reputation here and accomplished everything that we were tasked with, even in the heat. Now that we've been acclimated to working in temps over 100 degrees, we should be ready for summer in North Dakota now."

North Dakota has been partners with Ghana since 2004 as part of the State Partnership Program, which is sponsored by the Department of Defense. The program aligns states with partner countries to encourage the development of economic, political and military ties.

During the past six years, more than 180 North Dakota Guardsmen, Ghana military members and civilians have taken part in State Partnership Program events and workshops. The current mission is providing valuable training on contingency skills for the Airmen while helping Ghanaians.

Article sponsored by computer repair online.

National Guard Chief Notes Pain of Transformation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 4, 2010 - The National Guard is transforming itself to meet the threats of the 21st century, but the transition is hard and will be painful for units, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said here today.

Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley spoke during a breakfast meeting of the Defense Writers Group.

"We are in transition to a new type of force to be more relevant in today's wars," McKinley said.

Balance is the operative word in the Defense Department this year, the general said.

"How do we make a balanced force – both Army and Air Guard – that allows us to do the services' requirements, but still gives the governors flexibility and capability at home?" McKinley asked. "The National Guard is adapting to the changing styles of warfare. I couldn't have predicted 15 years ago that we would have used more that 80 percent of our Army Guard in full rotation fighting over a period of almost nine years. But we were able to adapt."

In the mid-1990s, McKinley said, it was difficult to train up Guard formations for operations in the Balkans. "Now, we can take of formation of 2,000 people and within 90 days have them ready to deploy to Afghanistan," he said. "I don't think we could have done that 15 years ago."

Times have changed, the general said, and so has the National Guard. "We have to be a more agile and quick response force," he said. "The old rules of the 20th century are just not relevant."

The transition will be especially painful in the Air National Guard, where new missions, new equipment and new threats drive the process, the general said. The Air Guard still operates at bases they started using at the end of World War II, he explained, and many units are fighter units flying aircraft that are ending their operational lives. Now, he said, the country needs units that can operate unmanned aerial vehicles and manage intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, McKinley said. Other personnel will be needed in command and control and intelligence functions.

"We are transitioning to a new place," he said. "But it's going to be painful for many of our units."

The Army National Guard went through a modernization effort after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Army equipped Guard units with the latest equipment and integrated them into the larger force.

"It's produced a force that is on average between 50,000 and 60,000 soldiers fighting ... in Iraq and Afghanistan," McKinley said. "With an overall force of 358,000, we believe we can sustain this indefinitely."

Army Guard troops are in a 1-to-3 ratio of years deployed to years at home, the general said, and he would like to see that ratio at 1-to-5. "The Army Guard worked as it was supposed to," he said. "[The United States was] confronted with two land wars and used the Army National Guard as a shock absorber, because the U.S. Army asn't big enough. And it still may not be big enough."

Even with the high deployment rate, National Guard recruiting and retention numbers "defy all logic," McKinley said.

"They are the highest they've ever been," he said. "Our retention in the Army Guard approaches 100 percent. We've had to shut down recruiting, because we have already met our goals, and I believe it is sustainable."

The Guard is a joint force, especially in the United States, McKinley said.

"The fact that we have an Army Guard and an Air Guard sometimes is irrelevant when you're fighting a flood or doing things in the Gulf of Mexico," he said. Governors use the highly trained and highly skilled Guardsmen as needed, he added.

"There are 66,000 Guardsmen working around the world in various capacities – mostly Army Guardsmen in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a large number of Air Guardsmen," McKinley said. "We are proud of what we are, and proud of what we've become. We've transformed ourselves."

Article sponsored by computer repair online.

Wisconsin Guard unit shows community what it's made of

By Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek
112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

May 4, 2010 - The Wisconsin Army National Guard is there when called upon to defend the nation, and it is there for natural disasters and other state emergencies. Recently, residents in the Berlin community had the opportunity to see what skills and equipment Guard Soldiers bring when they are called.

"The armory is owned by the people of the state of Wisconsin," said Lt. Col. Robert Boelkow, commander of the 332nd Rear Operations Center, based in Berlin. "They deserve to see what they have."

In addition to displays of military weapons and vehicles, the open house included displays of a unit tactical operations center featuring which focused on the ROC's role in coordinating state military response to a mock flood situation in the Berlin area, unit history, the state's Family Life program, the unit's Family Readiness Group, and the Recruiting and Retention Command's rock wall. The open house was also supported by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, whose members held a brat fry.

Boelkow said several unit members came in the day before on their free time and then early Saturday morning to help set up.

One of the more popular displays was the all terrain version of the military's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) line of vehicles. Known as the M-ATV, the vehicle on display had rolled off the production line at the Oshkosh Corp. plant the day before. After the open house, the M-ATV was taken to South Carolina for shipment to Afghanistan.

That was just one example of what Boelkow said helped make the open house a success. Weapons from other units were loaned for display as well. "That shows the level of support from other units and organizations," he said.

"The purpose of this open house, basically, was to make the community aware of the National Guard and how we support them in more than just a wartime situation," he continued. "This community has just always been very supportive of the 332nd."

Iwo Jima Wraps Up Fleet Week Port Everglades

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/NAC) Eric J. Rowley, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 4, 2010 - USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) departed Port Everglades, Fla. May 3, after successfully completing the 20th Annual Fleet Week Port Everglades.

Fleet weeks are designed to show local communities what the military does and the equipment they use. They also give Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen the chance to interact with local communities.

"Fleet Week was fantastic," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Cory Clark. "The food and functions were great, and we had the opportunity to listen to a lot of other people's stories. So many people showed their support and everyone was thankful we were there."

Fleet Week Port Everglades offered many opportunities to see and experience different activities in South Florida, such as glass bottom boat tours, fan boat tours of the Everglades, a major league baseball game and beach activities.

Iwo Jima hosted tours where the local community came aboard and learned a little about the Navy and Marine Corps team.

"I enjoyed working as a tour guide," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 3rd Class Emily Demario.

"It was great to see how interested the children were in what we do. I think it's important for other communities who are unfamiliar with the military to get a chance to see the good in the Navy and Marines. It was one of the best experiences I have had in the military. I learned a lot about my ship and the Marines. I hope I get a chance to do this again soon."

Iwo Jima Sailors and Marines also participated in many community relations projects like children's hospital visits, elementary school visits and Habitat for Humanity.

"There were a lot of great activities to do like baseball games and snorkeling," said Aviation Technician Airman Adam Sexton. "The communities were very supportive of us; some people even bought us meals. It's important to be good ambassadors and do stuff like Habitat for Humanity because it shows that we care about our local communities. I had a blast during Fleet Week."

Overall, the Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and the community all benefited from the Fleet Week Port Everglades experience.

MILITARY CONTRACTS May 4, 2010

NAVY

L-3 Communications Corp., Salt Lake City, Utah, is being awarded a $70,805,737 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for hardware and services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Surface/Aviation Interoperability Laboratory. Services to be provided include upgrades, maintenance, repair, spares, systems engineering support (integration and installation) and testing of various tactical common data link systems. The estimated level of effort for this contract is 36,700 man-hours. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to be completed in May 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00421-10-D-0013).

Northrop Grumman Corp., Integrated Systems, El Segundo, Calif., is being awarded a $35,194,492 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 33 Center Barrels and loose and miscellaneous parts for the F/A-18 A-D aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, Calif., and is expected to be completed in October 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $4,931,095 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-10-C-0052).

Clark/Balfour Beatty, JV, Bethesda, Md., is being awarded a $24,135,408 firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of an approximately 1204-space multi-use parking structure located in the community services district at the National Naval Medical Center Bethesda. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Md., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was procured as a sole source in accordance with FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Officer in Charge of Construction, Bethesda, Md., is the contracting activity (N40080-10-C-1503).

BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle, LP, Sealy, Texas, is being awarded $14,097,655 for firm-fixed-priced delivery order #0006 under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5030) for the procurement of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle university field services representative and instructors to service the Caiman MRAP vehicles. Work will be performed in the continental United States and outside the continental U.S., and work is expected to be completed by the end of December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $14,097,655 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Woburn, Mass., is being awarded a sole-source cost-plus-award-fee modification with a total value of $12,595,000 under contract HQ0006-03-C-0047. Under this modification, Raytheon will develop and integrate an X-band simulation tester which is a radar digital signal injection system that will interface with the X-band family of radars to provide test and performance assessment capability. The work will be performed in Woburn, Massachusetts. The performance period is from April 2010 through March 2011. Fiscal year 2010 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds will be used to incrementally fund this effort in the amount of $6,161,180. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity (HQ0006).

Get Me to the Doc on Time: Volunteer Driver Clocks 200 Miles Daily


Jerry Hatchett drives 200 miles a day, making sure Veteran patients get to their appointments.

Jerry Hatchett is no ordinary van driver. He's a VA volunteer driver who escorts Veterans to and from the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Every Wednesday, Hatchett leaves his house at 4:45am and doesn't return home until 4 in the afternoon. His nearly 12-hour day is filled with miles and miles on the road as he picks up and drops off Veterans in need of a ride to the medical center.

"I typically drive 200 miles a day," said Hatchett. These miles are charted without leaving the Oklahoma City metro area. Usually, he will cover one half of the city while another volunteer drives the other half of the sprawling area.

A marine Veteran, Hatchett values his time spent helping fellow military men and women. Over the past five years of volunteering, he has been around to offer a friendly grin and chat with the passengers he takes to medical appointments.

"People tell me things about their kids or something about their past. It's really nice to have that kind of connection with them," he said.

"When I see patients get well, it's a wonderful thing."

Jerry Hatchett loads the van with Veterans heading home after their visit to the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

But that's not what makes Hatchett happiest about his job. He explained, "When I see patients get well, it is a wonderful thing. It's nice to see when they've healed and pretty much gone on their own."

"Jerry takes his volunteering very seriously, developing a relationship with his passengers. He goes above and beyond to meet the requests of those Veterans," said Richard Maxey, Chief of Voluntary Services in Oklahoma City.

Veterans who have Hatchett chauffeur them to the VA realize he likes to partake in a healthy dialogue — and he might even offer them some advice. During his drives, he talks to patients about "anything from politics to marriage counseling. A lot of problems are resolved through our conversations."

When Hatchett is not volunteering, he can be found in his workshop building furniture, playing a round of golf, or spending time with his family. He and his wife of nearly 50 years are expecting their fourth great-grandchild in the next few months.

Jerry is one of those guys who found a job he likes to do and knows the value of helping others. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my volunteer job," he said. "If you have any desire to volunteer, don't hesitate."

Six Names Added to Vietnam Veterans Memorial


By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

May 4, 2010 - This week, the names of six American servicemembers will join the list of other departed or missing troops featured on the intersecting black-granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Army Lt. Col. William Taylor's name was engraved at a ceremony today at the memorial on the National Mall here. The names of Marine Corps Lance Cpls. John Granville and Clayton Hough Jr., Marine Corps Cpl. Ronald Vivona, Army Capt. Edward Miles and Army Sgt. Michael Morehouse will be added later this week.

The new additions are veterans who survived serious injury in the war but were determined by Defense Department officials to have "died as a result of wounds [combat or hostile related] sustained in the combat zone" that required drastic measures, such as amputation.

"It's an important honor to pay tribute to our nation's veterans – of Vietnam, especially," said J.C. Cummings, the architect of record for the memorial. The main part of the memorial was completed in 1982.

Cummings said a space on the wall allows Taylor's name to fit the chronological scheme as if his name had been in the database of fallen soldiers when the wall was first built. Of the six names being added to the wall this week, three of them can be placed as such, he said.

"When these young men were over there, their units became a family, a military family," Cummings said. "We're lucky because we can put the name where it belongs, with their brothers and sisters in arms."

Taylor's nephew, Thomas Carpenter, was in attendance today, along with family members of the five other servicemembers whose names are being added to the wall. Photos of each man were shown as each family gave a small tribute to their lost relative.

"I'm humbled in front of this wall," Carpenter said, "where they are forever young, strong and brave."

James Lee, a stoneworker whose Colorado-based company has worked at the wall since 1987, said each name takes at least a few days to prepare. Multiple test stones are used to ensure the newly engraved names match the older ones in shape, size and depth.

"Every name that we add to the memorial further completes it," he said.

The engravings for 11 other servicemembers, from the Army and Air Force, will be modified to reflect that they're no longer considered missing in action.

The changes will bring the total number of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to 58,267 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action. The six new names will become official when they are read aloud during the annual Memorial Day ceremony May 31 at 1 p.m.

Gates Approves Federal Money for Guard Units in Gulf

By Donna Miles and Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 4, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has given verbal approval to the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida for Title 32 status for National Guardsmen to help to combat the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The requests are in addition to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request for up to 6,000 National Guardsmen to be covered under Title 32 authority that the secretary approved yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said.

Alabama requested up to 3,000 Guardsmen, Mississippi requested 6,000, and Florida requested up to 2,500. Louisiana has employed about 1,200 Guardsmen on Title 32 status, and they are providing command-and-control and sandbagging assistance in St. Bernard and Plaquemine parishes. Guardsmen possibly could be used in communications, logistics, transportation, assessment, medical, aviation support and shoreline clean-up, Lapan said.

Once the secretary gives approval for the Guard units to operate under Title 32 authority, "what puts them into action are requests from the on-scene federal coordinator," Lapan said.

Most of the 1,200 Louisiana Guardsmen are from the 225th Engineer Brigade with headquarters in Pineville, La. However, many of the volunteers are from the brigade's battalions located throughout the state, said Army Col. Mike Deville, state public affairs officer.

All Guardsmen are receiving Occupational Safety and Health Administration training as they come on duty to deal with contaminants when and if they come ashore.

The Guardsmen have pre-positioned a package of engineering and logistics equipment to be able to respond as quickly as needed, and they've helped the Coast Guard load booms on boats for deployment. They also are running aviation missions not only to provide reconnaissance of the oil slick, but also to ensure that boom equipment hasn't shifted position, officials said.

The oil slick has not reached shore yet, said Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau here.

"We have a good construct to operate in," McKinley said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast today. The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency in the crisis, and National Guard leaders in the region have a good working relationship with the service, McKinley said.

Title 32 authority means the Guardsmen continue to work for the governors of the states, McKinley said. "It also gives the federal government the opportunity to recover the funds through the Oil-Spill Recovery Act," he said.

The general said Jindal has indicated he will pre-position forces so he can react if the spill comes ashore. The pre-positioning will allow authorities to "get the needed people and equipment from the civilian agencies to the scene quickly and rapidly so we can assist BP and the other oil companies – who are taking a very proactive response," McKinley said.

"We'll be part of that community-based force that knows the roads, knows the back roads, knows the estuaries and knows the parish leadership," he added, "and get the real experts to the scene, secure the site, set up relief efforts to feed people [and] to do the kinds of things a large relief operation will require."

The Louisiana National Guard still has the high-water vehicles that were used in Hurricane Katrina relief operations, and the state has learned a lot since that catastrophe in 2005, the general noted.

"There has been marked improvement since Katrina in how the state of Louisiana attacks a problem like this," McKinley said.

Army Captain Stole in Excess of $690,000

Army Officer Sentenced to 30 Months in Federal Prison After Admitting Theft of Government Property Related to DOD Contracts in Support of Iraq War


May 4, 2010 - PORTLAND, OR—Capt. Michael Dung Nguyen, 28, of Ft. Lewis, Washington, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggerty following his guilty pleas to the crimes of theft of government property and structuring financial transactions. Nguyen was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on September 1, 2010. In addition to imprisonment, Judge Haggerty order Nguyen to serve three years of supervised release, pay restitution in the amount of $200,000 and forfeit his interest in all personal property he bought with the stolen money as well as the remaining funds seized by the government at the time of his arrest.

Nguyen previously admitted that while on deployment to Iraq, he stole and converted to his own use approximately $690,000 in United States currency. Nguyen gained access to the funds in his capacity as the Project Purchasing Officer in the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the United States Army. The money was derived from Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds. CERP funds are the property of the United States and are managed by the Department of Defense (DOD). The currency was intended as payment for security contracts with the Sons of Iraq as well as humanitarian relief and reconstruction programs.

Nguyen transported the stolen CERP funds into the District of Oregon by mailing the stolen CERP funds to himself at his family’s Oregon residence prior to his return from Iraq. Shortly after his return from Iraq, Nguyen opened new bank accounts at Bank of America, Washington Mutual Bank, America’s Credit Union and Heritage Bank and proceeded to deposit $387,550.00 of the stolen CERP money into those accounts in Oregon and elsewhere. Between June 9, 2008 and September 26, 2008, Nguyen made repeated deposits of the stolen CERP funds in a manner that was intended to evade federal reporting requirements for the deposit of large amounts of currency.

After depositing the money in the accounts, Nguyen purchased a 2008 BMW and a 2009 Hummer H3T, in addition to purchasing computers, firearms, electronics and furniture. During the execution of a search warrant, investigators discovered over $300,000 in stolen CERP funds hidden in the attic of Nguyen’s Portland family home.

The investigation was initiated by the Portland office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation following the discovery of large and frequent currency deposits and substantial expenditures above Captain Nguyen’s legitimate income level. The investigation was joined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Army CID's Major Procurement Fraud Unit and Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug prosecuted the case.

Soldier Siblings Serve Together

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Laura Goodgame
Regional Command East

May 4, 2010 - Sibling rivalry isn't a problem for a brother and sister from Collegeville, Pa., who are serving a deployment here together. "My brother was my best friend growing up; he was all I had," said Army Pfc. Jessica Kimball, 20, a mechanic assigned to Company B, 82nd Division Special Troops Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C. "I didn't have the picture-perfect childhood."

Kimball was 11 when her grandmother died, and she was placed into her brother's family for foster care. She said her brother, Army Pvt. Logan Yost, 21, an infantryman assigned to the same unit, always took her under his wing.

Kimball said she planned to go to college, but couldn't afford it. After hearing about GI Bill education benefits, she decided to see a recruiter.

"The recruiter mentioned the opportunity to go Airborne, [and] being of competitive nature, it intrigued me," she said. "I talked it over with my brother. He did not want me to go alone, so we both joined the Army together."

After basic training and Airborne School, the siblings were assigned to the same airborne unit. Soon, they deployed to Afghanistan, where they have been on several missions together and look out for each other.

"Sometimes we would be outside the wire for several days in a row," Yost said. "At night, we would all take turns staying awake to pull security. When it was Jessica's turn, I would go sit with her to keep her company so she wouldn't be alone." His sister returned the favor when it was his turn for security detail, he added.

"I feel for anyone who has siblings in the military," Yost said. "We are lucky to have gotten stationed together, because most of the time siblings get split up and sent halfway around the world from each other."

The siblings already were close when they joined the military, they said, but their time in Afghanistan has made their bond stronger.

"The deployment has brought us closer together," Kimball said. "It is like a hardcore friendship, and it is comforting to know someone has your back in a foreign country away from anything we've ever known."

Guard Responds to Storm Damage, Water Main Break

By Army Spc. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

May 3, 2010 - Severe storms ripped through several southern states over the weekend, leaving floods and damage throughout the region. National Guard members were called upon in Arkansas and Tennessee to assist local emergency management organizations in search-and-rescue and evacuation efforts, respectively.

In Arkansas, the Guard responded to calls for support teams and equipment to assist with search-and-rescue efforts due to tornado damage to infrastructure such as power and water, National Guard Bureau officials said.

"At roughly 10 p.m. [April 30], we received word that we were to deploy two county support teams of about 50 personnel," said Army Capt. Chris Heathscott, public affairs officer for the Arkansas Guard. "Our troops were on the ground shortly after 1 a.m. in order to support the communities of East End and Scotland."

Soldiers from the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided support and equipment to the mission in Scotland, and airmen from the 189th Airlift Wing provided support in East End, Heathscott said.

"As of today, the airmen are still supporting the East End community with security operations and traffic control," he said.

In addition to the personnel support, the Guard had two additional missions in Arkansas over the weekend, sending a 500-gallon water tanker to Scotland and a generator to Jackson County, Arkansas Guard officials said.

Severe storms dumped heavy rains that caused flash flooding in Tennessee, and the Tennessee Guard provided evacuation support in Williamson and Houston counties.

"We had the 1176th Transportation Company go out yesterday and escort people that were recovered from areas that had been walled up by water," said Army Capt. Darrin Haas, deputy director of public affairs for the Tennessee Guard. "They assisted about 240 individuals and brought them out to staging areas and shelters. They drove house-to-house also with high-water vehicles to knock on doors and ask people if they wanted to be escorted out."

The Guard also transported sandbags in Clarksville, Tenn., but most of their efforts had been focused on getting people to safety, Haas said.

"Today, we're beginning missions to do debris removal," he said. "The governor of Tennessee and the adjutant general will be flying around to access the damage. We're doing everything the governor asks, and we're [here] to help the first responders from our state and local governments, who are doing a fantastic job."

Guard members also were called out in Massachusetts for a massive rupture of a critical water main that supplies millions of residents in the Boston area. About 450 Guardsmen helped to distribute bottled water and provided other support functions, Guard officials said.

"The commonwealth can rely on the Guard's diverse capabilities, our strategically located units and our quick response during times of need," said Army Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, Massachusetts adjutant general.

CNO Meets with Navy Families Displaced by Flooding in Millington

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

May 3, 2010 - MILINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead visited Naval Support Activity Mid-South command to meet with Sailors and families affected by severe flooding and survey the damage to the base on May 3.

CNO was accompanied by Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson and Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Vice Adm. Mike Vitale. The Navy leaders got a firsthand look at the condition of the base and discussed the path ahead for the Sailors, Navy civilians and their families as they recover from the flooding that overtook the base Saturday, May 1.

CNO said the Sailors' and Navy civilians' swift reactions to the flooding ensured the safety of those who work and live on the base.

"I can't say enough about how prepared this base was and how responsive everyone who serves here was," said Roughead,. "First and foremost [to] safety, but then volunteering and making sure that everybody was taken care of."

During a town hall meeting with Sailors, families, volunteers and other base personnel, Roughead told those affected that the entire Navy is working to ensure they remain safe and cared for during the difficult time.

"I want to assure everyone here that the entire Navy is going to lean forward to make sure that we take care of your needs, that we meet the needs of your family and that we get the base restored and get your lives back to normal as soon as we possibly can," said Roughead.

Roughead also expressed the importance of a quick recovery due to the business of the Navy that takes place in Millington.

"There is a lot that goes on here that affects everybody [in the Navy]," said Roughead. "I also want to make sure everybody understands we are going to do everything necessary to get Millington and the Navy personnel system back in battery, back in business and back to serving the fleet."