Friday, May 07, 2010

Exchange Service officials investing in facilities

5/7/2010 - DALLAS (AFPN) -- Construction on a military installation is a sign of progress as the Department of Defense transforms.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are playing an active part in this process as the organization has completed 123 major facility projects, valued at more than $1.1 billion dollars, over the past five years to provide the right size and mix of exchange facilities where Soldiers and Airmen are stationed.

During a recessionary period, when many retailers are tightening the reins on capital expenditures, AAFES officials, who finance projects through the sale of merchandise and services, are actually accelerating facility renovations to improve service. Funding comes strictly from self-generated, non-appropriated resources and is not a burden to the American taxpayer.

"With a slumping economy, shoppers have been asking more questions about capital improvements," said Mike Gividen, Army and Air Force Exchange Service's senior vice president of real estate. "We want our customers to know we are investing in our facilities more than ever before."

As a non-appropriated government entity, funds to build new or replacement AAFES facilities come entirely from the sale of merchandise and services. While the majority of earnings generated are returned to Air Force Services and Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs for quality-of-life efforts, historically about one-third is re-invested into exchange operations to build new facilities or update existing stores.

"There is a direct correlation between patronage at the exchange and resulting capital improvement projects," Mr. Gividen said. "AAFES shoppers are essentially AAFES' shareholders and our goal is to be our customer's first choice. As such, we have a responsibility to properly re-invest in our facilities to provide a pleasant, first-class shopping experience."

The replacement of aging facilities begins with a thorough evaluation of factors such as age, potential demand and military transformation requirements. Once complete, AAFES' real estate team is able to identify potential priority locations that are reviewed for replacement. By the end of 2010, AAFES officials will have opened the doors to five new shopping centers including the world's largest exchange, a sprawling 490,000 square-foot multi-use retail development at Ft. Bliss by El Paso, Texas. This is in addition to six new shopping centers opened in 2009.

Since new facilities are not always financially feasible, the useful life of a main store can be extended through an image update renovation.

"Many of our main stores have years of useful life left in them, they just need a facelift," said Gus Elliott, vice president of the facilities division in charge of renovations. "As we executed renovation projects last year, we were experiencing 25 to 30 percent savings because contractors needed work. As a result, we decided to accelerate future renovations not only to realize capital program savings, but to help the local contractors with increased business during these tough economic times."

AAFES officials plan to bring twenty-four exchanges up to current retail design standards in 2010.

Warrior Games team completes training, ready to compete

by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

5/7/2010 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) -- Members of the Air Force team competing in the inaugural Warrior Games here completed their final week of training May 7.

The 17 wounded, ill and injured Air Force team members will compete against Soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Sailors May 10 through 14. The teams will compete in a variety of events including shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track, wheelchair basketball, discus and shot put.

Prior to this week of training, team members trained on their own at their respective bases, while keeping in contact with their coaching staff.

Once the athletes arrived, the Air Force coaches scheduled full days of workouts and practices to prepare them for their events.

"We told them that wherever they were, that was fine; we would meet them at their level," said Cami Stock, the Air Force team head coach. "This training wasn't intended to get the athletes in shape, because they should already be there. This training was intended to get them acclimated to the weather and more prepared for their events."

For Matt Sanders, a former staff sergeant who currently works at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the first day of track practice in Colorado Springs was a shock.

"It was 32 degrees, there was ice on the ground and it was windy," said Mr. Sanders, who is competing in multiple track and field events. "We ran a couple miles on the track, then we ran on the trail, a total of maybe five miles. The first day they really pushed us. I think that was good because we all motivated each other and ran as a team."

For the team sporting events like wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, this week was the first time the athletes had practiced together. For some, it was the first time they had played the sport at all.

The team sports are a really good demonstration of the teamwork the athletes have honed, Coach Stock said. Within 10 minutes they were playing sitting volleyball together and none of them have played the game before.

During the team sports practices, the athletes also learned how to tailor their game to accommodate each other's disabilities.

"We made note of their limitations, but with practice, we were also able to accentuate on what our teammates can do," said Mr. Sanders, who donated a kidney to his sister 2001 and underwent various knee surgeries prior to separating from the Air Force in 2006.

We've seen some amazing strides this week, especially in swimming, Coach Stock said.

During swim practice, 2nd Lt. Ryan McGuire, a below-the-knee amputee from Laughlin AFB, Texas, dove off a starting block, with one leg.

"Some people can't even do that with two legs," Coach Stock said. "It was just amazing."

Coach Stock said she's also impressed by these athletes' attitudes and how they motivate each other.

"They are beat, but they are motivated and they are motivating each other," she said. "Not everyone is going to be on every single day, but if someone else is, they can bring each other up and that's what they are doing."

Mr. Saunders said he's been inspired by what his teammates do despite their various disabilities.

"Knowing that they are in wheelchairs, or they have one leg or they have issues that I don't have, yet they are still trying their hardest makes me push myself," he said. "No matter what, you have to push yourself."

Three days before the start of the inaugural games, Coach Stock said her team realizes the magnitude of what they're about to do and are ready to compete.

"Chief (Master Sgt. Damian) Orslene recently told the team, 'We are the first to have this experience, and I don't know why it happened, but that's amazing,'" she said. "They realize how special it is; they don't take it lightly. They are fired up. They are ready."

Asia-Pacific Region Stands at Pivotal Point

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2010 - The Asia-Pacific region stands at a pivotal point in history as it draws on the strength of regional alliances and partnerships to contend with a broad range of threats and challenges, a senior defense official said yesterday.

In remarks at the East-West Center's Washington office, Wallace "Chip" Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, cited the dramatic transformation in the region since the East-West Center's main campus was established in Hawaii 50 years ago at a time of regional uncertainty.

"Yet while this dynamism continues to fuel tremendous progress and growth, there are also tectonic shifts taking place in the region that create a continued sense of uncertainty," he told the U.S.-Asia Pacific Council's annual conference.

Asia is home to four of the world's five largest military powers and some of its most-advanced military capabilities, Gregson noted. In light of ongoing territorial disputes and contested sovereignty claims, "the potential impact of a large-scale conflict would be unprecedented in scope," he said.

But Gregson also cited new, cross-border threats: the challenge of rising powers and failing states, the proliferation of nuclear and ballistic missile technologies and extremist violence, among them. In addition, he said, new anti-access capabilities threaten to prevent open access to the global commons – oceans, forests and atmosphere – which Asia's economic stability depends upon.

"Because we face a far more complex range of threats, the strength of our mutual commitments is more critical than ever before," Gregson said.

"These threats are not any one nation's alone, nor does the responsibility to counter these threats belong to any one nation alone," he continued. "Just as we all have a shared interest in ensuring continued peace, prosperity and stability in the region, we must all share in the responsibility for maintaining this peace."

Gregson emphasized the need to build on existing alliances and partnerships in the region and to foster more multilateral cooperation. "If we are to successfully meet the challenges ahead, we must bring a renewed sense of purpose to the concept of regional cooperation," he said.

The United States must instill confidence among its regional partners that it stands by its security commitments and will maintain deterrence against the full range of potential threats and aggression, Gregson said. He noted steps the United States is taking to strengthen its deterrent capabilities, particularly in light of destabilizing activities in North Korea and China.

Gregson noted the United States' efforts to promote stronger multilateral, rather than simply bilateral, relationships in the region. This includes helping partners and allies build their own security capacities.

Yet, the United States must do a better job of providing this support in a timely, reliable manner, Gregson told the audience. He emphasized the need to overcome limitations in the United States' security assistance system and to reform export control laws to enable partners and allies to play a greater role in their own defense and in regional affairs.

"If we are to build deep and enduring partnerships, we must ensure that this assistance is reliable, and that our partners know we will not be a fair-weather friend," Gregson told the audience.

Looking toward the future, Gregson offered assurance that the United States will provide greater support to its partners – but emphasized that it also will expect more in return. The United States, he said, will expect its partners in the Asia-Pacific region to increase their capability in a transparent, responsible, way, and to begin taking the lead in regional security dialogue and initiatives.

"Finally, we also expect that as America fulfills our commitment to building greater partner capacity, our partners will in turn take greater leading roles in their own defense, and in regional and global security affairs," he said.

The United States and its Asia-Pacific partners face an incredibly important series of choices in the years ahead, Gregson said. He noted years of discussion about the need to recalibrate existing partnerships and develop a broader set of roles, missions and capabilities to address a wider range of threats. "Our ability to implement this commitment will be the true test of our mettle in the next several years," he said.

"Our alliances and our partnerships must foster real patterns of cooperation, built on mutual trust, mutual responsibility and mutual exchange of ideas," he said. "By creating these types of partnerships, we will ensure that these relationships have tangible meaning, depth and value for the next generation of leaders."

Connections with Hooligans continue after Ghana mission ends

(5/6/10) -- A two-week mission to Ghana resulted in enduring personal and professional connections for a Happy Hooligan.

Senior Airman Derek Johansen recently returned from the African country, where he worked with more than 30 other North Dakota Air National Guardsmen in the Civil Engineer Squadron to renovate buildings in Accra, Ghana's capital, and Takoradi.

Johansen works as an electrician with the Guard, although he helped with a variety of projects while in Ghana, "whether that be helping build trusses or hammering away on concrete," he said.

In the course of his job, he met electricians in the Ghana Armed Forces, and has since established Facebook connections to stay in touch. The first connection Johansen made, however, was with Senam Doe-Dade, the son of a Ghanaian soldier.

"Senam, who goes by the name Joe, is a 16-year-old student whose father is in the military. He and some of his friends were playing basketball one day, and I just had to join in the fun," Johansen said. "We got to talking about everything from the differences in our home countries to the similarities."

North Dakota paired with Ghana in 2004 as part of the Department of Defense-sponsored State Partnership Program, which aligns states with partner countries to encourage the development of economic, political and military ties.

While at first glance there may appear to be few similarities between North Dakota and anywhere in Africa, the military in each area face similar challenges, including frequent flooding and deployment on peacekeeping missions.

When Johansen asked Doe-Dade about Facebook, he had replied, "Yes, it is big in Ghana."

Johansen later connected with Samuel Arizie, an electrician with the Ghana Army with whom he wired ceiling fans, and Richard Amakwah, Arizie's friend from basic military training.

"I set both of them up with Facebook to stay in touch with me after I departed," Johansen said.

When the Civil Engineer Squadron moved north to the project in Takoradi, Johansen connected with another Ghanaian electrician, Makafui Kofi Sosu.

"He helped me inventory the electrical supplies, and from there we hit it off quite well," Johansen said.

Before leaving Takoradi, Johansen connected with Lt. Jacob Nanjo, of the Ghana Army, at a commander's dinner. They connected almost immediately.

"He tagged along with us when we went off base and had a good time," Johansen said. "We both loved music, and I eventually got some local Ghanaian music from him before I left the country. Jacob is a really great guy, and the one I will miss the most."

Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, noticed the friendships and Facebook connections being formed when he visited the squadron in Ghana.

"I think this is a great example of what the State Partnership Program is doing on so many levels," he said. "In terms of the global operating environment, we're learning from each other and building on each other's strengths to become a stronger, more adaptable force in our own countries.

"On a smaller but no less important scale, our Guardsmen are learning and refining their skills while also making lasting connections that will enhance their military and civilian experiences. This is truly a win-win situation for the North Dakota National Guard and our members."

Johansen, who has been in the Guard for four years, knows that for certain.

"I hope to stay in contact with all of the Ghanaians via Facebook, and I would love to make it back to visit someday," he said. "We joke around that we will send Facebook invites for each other's weddings in the future."

Wisconsin Guard Soldiers head to regional competition

May 7, 2010 - Two Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers will compete with Soldiers from six other states at the Regional Soldier of the Year Competition at Fort McCoy May 10-13 for the right to advance to the National Guard Bureau's Best Warrior Competition in August.

Pfc. Randy Fendryk of Waukesha and Sgt. Cody Brueggen of Oconomowoc earned the distinction of being the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, respectively, by completing a rigorous schedule of a dozen events - completing a physical fitness test, qualifying on M-4 automatic rifles, competing in hand-to-hand combat drills and answering questions on military knowledge before a panel of three sergeants major.

Fendryk is a multiple launch rocket system specialist from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery in Sussex, and Brueggen is a utilities equipment repairer from Detachment 1, 107th Maintenance Company in Sparta.

Last year, Spc. John Wiernasz of Vadnais Heights, Minn., won the annual Soldier of the Year competition and Sgt. Raymond B. Heilman, Spooner, won the NCO of the Year competition. Both are members of Detachment 1, 950th Engineer Company, a Spooner-based unit that specializes in mine clearance. Wiernasz advanced to the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition last August at the Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga.

Eisenhower Sailors Form Autism Support Group

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Watson, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Public Affairs

May 7, 2010 - USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) are joining together to form a support group for parents with children suffering from autism.

The father of two autistic children, Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Henry Cooper, the V-1 Division's leading chief petty officer, said he wanted to form a group where other Sailors could share their stories and experiences dealing with autism, as well as share knowledge of available resources.

"I sent out an email to the chief's mess and crew, and I received 20 to 30 emails from people whose children have autism," said Cooper.

In a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, researchers found an average of one in 110 U.S. children have been diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That statistic breaks down to one in 70 boys and one in 315 girls - a 60 percent increase for boys and 48 percent increase for girls from previous reports.

"It hurts, because everyone wants their child to be perfect," said Cooper. "But, it hurts less when you have someone to talk to - people who are dealing with the same situation."

The Autism Society defines autism as a group of developmental disabilities caused by a problem within the brain. Thought processes and learning capabilities of someone with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged – this may impact their social, emotional, communication and behavioral skills.

While there are no definite causes for autism, common characteristics are resistance to change, lack of or delay in spoken language, difficulty in expressing needs, repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language, laughing/crying for no apparent reason, preference of being alone, little or no eye contact, tantrums, spinning objects and non-responsiveness to verbal cues.

After a diagnosis, Cooper said many Sailors are overwhelmed and wondering what help is available. He hopes this support group will benefit them.

"Many young sailors on Ike (Dwight D. Eisenhower) have autistic children and are not aware of the programs and resources available to them through TRICARE," said Cooper, who admits his wife struggled to find information on the disorder and what the available resources were to help their children receive the care they needed.

Cmdr. Peter Matisoo, the ship's Air department head, also has two children with autism, and he could clearly understand how when a family receives a diagnosis of autism, many don't know where to turn and feel overwhelmed or confused.

"Early intervention and getting your child the skills to function on their own is a great step parents need to take," said Matisoo. "Do not despair, do not get discouraged. Appreciate your child for the great talents and gifts they have."

There are six different forms of autism, ranging from moderate to severe. Matisoo explained that with proper treatment many autistic children can function normally.

"How your child currently is, is not how they will grow up to be," said Matisoo. "Work with them in the areas they struggle in to lift them up something closer to normal."

Cooper said one of his sons has made great strides in improving his behavior skills through applied behavior analysis therapy.

"He was not speaking, but after two months of therapy he started talking and holding conversations," said Cooper, who hopes others will have success stories like his to share with the support group in an effort to encourage parents to continue seeking help.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is underway as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR). Operations in the 5th Fleet AOR are focused on reassuring regional partners of the coalition's commitment to help set conditions for security and stability. U.S. forces maintain a naval and air presence in the region that deters destabilizing activities while safeguarding the region's vital links to the global economy.

Navy Training Honors 2009 Instructors of the Year

By Steve Vanderwerff, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

May 7, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), announced its 2009 Military Instructors of the Year (IOY) during a ceremony May 6 at the Navy Memorial. NETC Commander Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny spoke at the ceremony and praised the instructors.

"Demand for maritime forces is the highest it has been in recent years and we are responding to this demand with more agility and flexibility than every before," Kilkenny said. "We are able to achieve this level of support and readiness because our Sailors and Marines receive the best training in the world. And you, the instructors sitting here before us, are the key to that success. You are fully engaged with the mission of your commands. You take the extra time and effort required to ensure your Sailors and Marines are ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their shipmates as they go into harms way."

Marine Corps Capt. Kim R. Rossiter, from Lake Charles, La., was selected as Officer Instructor of the Year. A 16-year veteran, Rossiter is currently assigned to Marine Corps Detachment, Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center (NMITC). He credits his communication skills and passion for his selection.

"Instructor duty, with the associated opportunity to make an impact on Sailors and Marines, officer and enlisted, who are the future of naval intelligence has been the most rewarding duty of my 16 years in uniform," Rossiter explained. "I have been blessed with the communication skills and passion to achieve the highest levels of understanding among my students."

Rossiter has been teaching students for a little more than two years at NMITC.

"I embrace opportunity to mold and mentor young minds in the art and science of intelligence operations, while always seeking ways to demonstrate the value of the Navy and Marine Corps team. I affect what I can effect, maintain an operational mindset, never compromise my integrity, and I never settle for the, 'oh, well, that's how we did it in the past' argument."

The Senior Enlisted Instructor of the Year is Chief Naval Aircrewman Jonathan R. Showerman, from Portland, Mich. An 18-year veteran, he is currently assigned to Recruit Training Command (RTC), Great Lakes.

"I'm honored to be selected for this prestigious award," Showerman said. "I appreciate the recognition and hope I represent all of my fellow instructors at the "Quarterdeck of the Navy," RTC Great Lakes, with pride."

Showerman has been instructing students for more than two years at RTC. He suggests to those who want to be an instructor and make a difference to, "never short-change yourself, and always strive to be the best you can possibly be."

Enlisted Instructor of the Year honors went to Construction Electrician 1st Class Ryan Gerdon, a native of Belford, N.J. He is currently assigned to the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering Detachment Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

"Being assigned to instructor duty is the most rewarding privilege I have had in my 13 years of naval service," Gerdon said. "It has allowed me to exercise my passion for my rate, while paying immediate dividends in the form of students who are excited to go out and contribute to the Navy's mission."

He credits his leadership and team effort for his selection.

"My selection as instructor of the year is a reflection of the outstanding mentorship and support I've received from my leadership," he explained. "To be recognized among all the outstanding instructors throughout the Navy is very humbling. I couldn't have achieved my success without help from others. It's a total team effort. If you don't seek help from others, you limit your opportunity to give back to your students and accomplishing your goals.

"It often sounds cliché, but with being an instructor it's easy to get caught up with routines," Gerdon explained. "There is a fine line between being comfortable and then too comfortable. Those behind the podium should always work towards learning more about their topic, while making a concerted effort to keep improving their knowledge base, lesson plans, slides, and all of the other tools he or she may use. The improved end result will ultimately reflect in the students who are looking to them as the subject matter experts."

The NETC Military Instructor of the Year award program recognizes Navy and Marine Corps instructors and facilitators who exemplify personal excellence and display outstanding instructional and leadership performance. The program highlights the significant contributions of individuals from throughout the Naval Education and Training enterprise who have been nominated by their command based on their sustained superior performance over the course of the past year. Nomination packages, highlighting the nominee's accomplishments, community involvement, and personal and professional growth, are submitted to NETC headquarters in Pensacola. An awards committee reviews the packages and selects the most deserving candidates for IOY honors, which include award of the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal and an IOY plaque.

"There is no doubt that the Naval Education and Training Command enables the fleet to successfully execute the Maritime Strategy. We have some of the greatest military instructors in the world," said Kilkenny. "If we didn't we wouldn't have more than 150 allied nations sending their personnel through our schools. I firmly believe the success of our training can be linked to the skill and unwavering dedication of our instructors."



AM General, LLC, South Bend, Ind., was awarded on May 5 a $54,264,735 firm-fixed-price contract to add 500 Humvees to contract. Work is to be performed in Mishawaka, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Warren, CCTA-ATA-C, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001).

The Boeing Co., Mesa, Ariz., was awarded on May 5 a $22,556,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the award of advance procurement/long lead for 10 Egyptian Block II Apache AH-64D helicopters. Work is to be performed in Mesa, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-10-C-0086).

Lydig Construction, Inc., Spokane Valley, Wash., was awarded on May 5 an $18,797,474 firm-fixed-price construction contract for construction of a fitness center and demolition of an existing fitness center at Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Wash. Work is to be performed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Wash., with an estimated completion date of May 4, 2012. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with 14 bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, Seattle, Wash., is the contracting activity (W912DW-10-C-0008).

General Electric Engine Services, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, was awarded on April 30, 2010 a $9,196,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the overhaul and upgrade of 20 Y700-GE-701C turbine engines to the T700-GE-701D configuration applicable to the UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The National Stock Numbers are 2840-01-284-4011 and 2840-01-503-1701. Work is to be performed in Arkansas City, Kan., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. Three bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CCAM-AL-M, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-D-0226)

Summa Technology, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded on April 30 a $7,865,297 firm-fixed-price contract for 776 communication interface assembly upgrade and magnetic tape unit replacement for the Hawk air defense ground equipment. Work is to be performed in Egypt, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2013. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CCAM-RD-F, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-10-C-0225).

The Harper Company Contractors., Hebron, Ky., was awarded on May 5 a $7,300,980 firm-fixed-price contract for the repair and replacement of West Ramp Phase II at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Work is to be performed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 5, 2010. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0050).

EADS North America Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded on May 4 a $6,879,253 firm-fixed-price contract to increase the funding and corresponding contractor logistics support (CLS) flight hours for contract line item number 5230AA Program Year 05, CLS TDA throughout the contiguous United States, and contract line item number 5250AA Program Year 05, hybrid CLS throughout the contiguous United States. Work is to be performed in Columbus, Miss. (20 percent), and Trumbull, Conn. (80 percent), with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CCAM-BH-C, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0194).

Fluor Intercontinental, Inc., Greenville, S.C., was awarded on April 30 a $6,234,001 cost-plus-award-fee contract for operations and maintenance, Victory Base Complex, Baghdad, Iraq. Work is to be performed in Baghdad, Iraq, with an estimated completion date of March 21, 2011. Ten bids were solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Programs Center, CETAC-ST-U, Winchester, Va., is the contracting activity (W912ER-04-D-0004).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on April 30 a $5,993,025 firm-fixed-price contract for the purchase of 25 new Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) M983A2 light equipment transporter trucks on the existing HEMTT contract. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0024).

Siemens Government Services, Inc., Reston, Va., was awarded on May 3 a $5,943,737 firm-fixed-price contract for the acquisition on support of the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program for Katterbach Kaserne, Germany. Work is to be performed in Katterbach Kaserne, Germany, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 25, 2011. Ten bids were solicited with three bids received. Army Contracting Command, National Capitol Region Contracting Center, Alexandria, Va., is the contracting activity (W91QUZ-06-D-0029).

Toro Enterprises, Inc., Oxnard, Calif., was awarded on May 5 a $5,850,903 firm-fixed-price contract. This is a recovery project for North Valley Regional Water Infrastructure, City of Lancaster, Los Angeles County, Calif. Construction of a 24-inch recycled water main and related facilities to serve the northern section of the City of Lancaster located in North Los Angeles County. The new pipeline will connect to the existing 24-inch diameter recycled water main. Work is to be performed in the City of Lancaster, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities and Army Single Face to Industry Web sites, with ten bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Los Angeles, Calif., is the contracting activity (W912PL-10-C-0026).

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded on May 3 a $5,800,000 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for continued performance of the system development demonstration in support of the extended range/multi-purpose unmanned aircraft system. Work is to be performed in Poway, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Constructing Center, CCAM-AR-A-Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-05-C-0069).

CAS, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded on May 3a $5,000,000 time-and-material contract for the Threat System Management Office requirement for research, design, development, and delivery of multiple scenarios, simulations, hardware involving a myriad of systems and programs. Work is to be performed in Iraq (15 percent), Afghanistan (20 percent), and Redstone Arsenal, Ala. (65 percent), with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Mission & Installation Contracting Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., is the contracting activity (W91247-10-F-0031).


General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is being awarded a $26,755,525 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) to provide additional systems engineering services associated with the detail, design, and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer. Systems engineering efforts include detail design excursions, shock qualification, production process prototype manufacturing, and life cycle support services prior to post shakedown availability. Work will be performed in Bath, Maine, and is expected to be completed by December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

IAP-Leopardo Construction, Inc.*, Columbus, Ohio, is being awarded a $14,152,620 firm-fixed price contract for design and construction of two child development centers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The first will be a new one-story facility to support 302 children. It will include activity rooms for infants to children up to five years in age. In addition, this facility will support the supervising and administrative staff and will include administrative areas, support spaces, restrooms, kitchen, food storage, laundry, and reception/control area. The second is for construction of a new one-story facility addition to match the first. This facility will be designed for a maximum of 74 infants to children up to three years in age. Demolition of Building 434 is included in this project. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to be completed by November 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with 19 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N40080-10-C-0155).

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $14,000,000 ceiling-priced undefinitized contract action (UCA) to provide aircraft maintenance and logistics services in support of the Navy's T-34 and T-44 aircraft. Services to be provided include aircraft maintenance and logistics support, including labor, equipment, tools, and material. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field, Fla. (50 percent) and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas (50 percent), and is expected to be completed in November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $6,860,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-2. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-10-C-0051).

Protective Products Enterprises, Sunrise, Fla., is being awarded an estimated maximum value $10,550,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) spare and replacement parts. This contract is necessary to provide continued sustainment of previously fielded MTVs. Work will be performed in Sunrise, Fla., and is expected to be completed May 2011. An initial delivery order in the amount of $9,996,000 will be issued, and these contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is being awarded on a sole-source basis. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-10-D-3023).

Daniel Defense, Inc.*, Savannah, Ga., is being awarded a $9,500,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for a Rail Interface System II (RIS-II) for the M4A1 carbine in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command Weapons Accessories Program. RIS-II will increase the operational effectiveness of the M4A1 carbine, M203 grenade launcher and other special operations forces small arms. Work will be performed in Savannah, Ga., and is expected to be completed by May 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $173,397 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not awarded on a competitive basis. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-10-D-JN70).

BAE Systems U.S. Combat Systems, Minneapolis, Minn., is being awarded a $9,021,023 firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-4137) for procurement and delivery of long-lead and standard-lead time material in support of the Virginia-class submarine propulsor system requirements. Work will be performed in Louisville, Ky., and is expected to be completed by April 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp., Cambridge, Mass., is being awarded an $8,335,142 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for Precision Electronic Warfare (PREW) research and development. This effort will develop distributed beam-forming, clock synchronization, and node localization techniques in support of PREW. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $15,156,516. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., and is expected to be completed by November 2011. If all options are exercised, work could continue until November 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $1,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with nine offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N66001-10-C-2005).


Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $23,639,890 contract which will provide integrated Department of Defense cyberspace operations, synchronize warfighting effects across the global security environment, and provide assistance to civil authorities and international partners. At this time, $482,000 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002).

Raytheon Co., Goleta, Calif., was awarded a $23,177,494 contract which will provide production/purchase of 947 advanced airborne electronics decoys sets for the Airborne Launch Expendable 50 system. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 542 CBSG/PKS, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity. (FA8523-04-D-0001)

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $14,880,115 contract which will provide for current and future missions through secure/assured data and information integrity which are imperative to maintaining combat capabilities for the Air Force. At this time, $19,841 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $14,432,448 contract which will provide threat monitoring, detection, characterization, and actionable information for the computer network operations in order to help advance Department of Defense Global Information Grid initiative and nationally-oriented cyber security priorities. At this time, $1,168,000 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $9,917,987 contract which will provide for state-of-the-art information assurance research and analysis within command, control, communications, computing, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. At this time, $24,802 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-98-D-4002).

Louisiana Guard Builds Bridge for Oil Spill Effort

By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens
Louisiana National Guard

May 7, 2010 - The Louisiana National Guard's 205th Engineer Battalion built an improved ribbon bridge in St. Bernard Parish yesterday to be used in support of operations related to the oil spill off the state's coast. About 50 members of the 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company, based in Marrero, La., built the 300-foot temporary wharf near the Frank "Blackie" Campo Marina in Shell Beach, La., so that oil booms can be picked up and distributed to fishermen who are working in support of the mission.

"Our main job is to construct the bridge so that the process of distribution becomes easier for all involved," said Army Maj. James S. Slaven, executive officer of the 205th.

After transporting their boats and equipment to the Campo Marina in two separate convoys, the Guardsmen staged and accounted for all pieces. They loaded the boats into the bay, and one by one, each bridge section was dropped into the water and transported into the open bay for construction.

"Because we need adequate space to put it together, we have to move each section about 500 feet into the open bay," Slaven explained.

"It seems like a tedious process, but once we get started, it rolls easily and quickly," said Army 1st Sgt. Kevin P. Giroir, senior enlisted advisor for the 2225th.

Once the sections were transported to the working area, a crew connected each component until the whole bridge was completed.

"They worked diligently to get this complete," Slaven said. "We were originally expecting to be here until 10 p.m., but they completed the mission by 5 p.m."

As a last order of business, Slaven inspected the bridge and gave it a final "thumbs-up" after the work met and surpassed standards. A team of about 10 Guardsmen will be onsite daily to maintain the bridge.

"I am really proud of each of these soldiers," Slaven said. "They worked really hard today to help Louisiana, and I want them to know that I appreciate their efforts."

Motorcycle Champions Rev Up Safe Riding Message

By Judith Snyderman
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

May 7, 2010 - Pentagon officials hosted their fourth annual motorcycle safety event today to rev up interest in learning the right way to ride. To reinforce the message to both riders and military leaders that it takes training to handle motorcycles, world-class riders including Keith Code, director of the California Superbikes School, and Jeff Tilten, co-producer of the safety film "Semper Ride," came out to lend support and show off their skills in heart-pumping demonstrations.

Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety and occupational health, said several years ago a rise in the number of servicemembers getting injured or killed in off-duty motorcycle accidents drove the creation of the annual joint-service event.

"We had a situation where we were losing about 20 soldiers a year, [then] in 2006 it doubled." That's when, he said, "bells and whistles went off."

Davis said the growing popularity of motorcycles contributed to the alarming numbers. From 1999 to the present, he said, "we went in this nation from about 2 to 3 million to over 8 million people riding bikes."

In the Army alone, he noted, "we have over 100,000 soldiers and civilians riding motorcycles."

Newcomers to riding are at high risk, Air Force Col. Earle Thompson explained. "If you take a guy that's never ridden before and he goes out and buys a 600cc sports bike," he said, "he can very easily let that [bike] get away from him in a hurry."

The two-day safety event held in a Pentagon parking lot has grown each year in size and scope. More than 1,000 defense officials, servicemembers and civilians were expected to turn out to watch freestyle motocross and street bike freestyle shows and participate in other activities. This year also marked the first appearance of professional riders from the Semper Ride team of Marine motorcyclists.

Among first-time visitors was Army Master Sgt. David Newmer, who was wounded on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan and is recovering from a fractured leg and internal injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Despite the inherent risks of motorcycles, Newmer said, he plans to ride again as soon as his leg heals. The key to safety, he added, is to take advantage of training opportunities.

"There's no excuse," he said. "The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a big network, and [training] is available to each and every rider, regardless of experience."

Navy Rear Adm. Arthur Johnson, commander of the Naval Safety Center agreed that inexperienced riders driving at excess speeds cause the most accidents. Military leaders simply discouraged motorcycle enthusiasts in the past, he added, but a new mindset is to facilitate safety awareness and training "so our people can be successful with this high risk activity."

That new attitude brought in Keith Code four years ago to customize a training course, called the Advanced Motorcycle Operators School, or AMOS, for the military. The champion rider and instructor announced some tremendous results.

"As of today," he noted, "none of the over 700 riders trained in the AMOS program have had any serious mishaps."

More recent statistics show that the military's emphasis on safety is paying off. The Navy reports that motorcycle fatalities dropped by 61 percent in 2009 over prior years. The Army also has seen a significant drop in fatal accidents.

However, Davis said, it's imperative not to become complacent. He warned that motorcycle skills are perishable, and he recommended that riders renew training at least every three years.

Navy Serves Up Meals With Local Community Kitchen

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lewis Hunsaker, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

May 7, 2010 - BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (NNS) -- Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Atlanta and from USS Alabama (SSBN 731) helped prepare and serve meals May 3 at the St. Andrews church in Birmingham, Ala., as part of the Community Kitchens of Birmingham program.

The event was one of many outreach opportunities scheduled for the service members during the 2010 Birmingham Navy Week, one of 20 Navy Weeks scheduled in 2010.

"We usually have volunteers on a daily basis" said Andrea Blackert, executive director of the Community Kitchens of Birmingham. "This is the first time the military has come out to help us and we feel so blessed."

During the event, Sailors talked with guests and told stories, which helped lighten everyone spirits.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Sailors to give back to a community that supports them," said Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander, Navy Region Southeast.

Navy weeks are designed to educate Americans on the importance of Naval service, understand the investment they make in their Navy and increase awareness in cities which might not otherwise see the Navy at work on a regular basis.

For more information about the ongoing Birmingham Navy Week and it's events, visit

NSA Mid-South Recovering Thanks to Teamwork

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth St John, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

May 7, 2010 - MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Thanks to an amazing display of teamwork and dedication, life is returning back to normal at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., after heavy rains and substantial flooding caused significant damage May 1.

All base personnel and residents were evacuated and the base was closed for several days to all except mission-essential employees.

"This is a perfect example of the cooperation that happens when you have a terrific relationship with your tenant commands and a terrific relationship with your community," said Capt. Doug McGowen, commanding officer, NSA Mid-South.

The installation suffered no loss of life from the massive flooding that affected 25 counties across the state and took the lives of 18 people.

"My obligation is clearly to protect the Navy's most precious assets, that's our Sailors and our families," said McGowen.

NSA Mid-South immediately activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from which to organize first responders and monitor the crisis.

"Our first responders -our fire, our security- were out there in boats rescuing these people," said Karen Blackwood, NSA Mid-South emergency management officer.

"They were up to their necks in this gunk, rescuing people, carrying babies, doing the things you only see on TV. That's what our first responders were out there doing, saving these people. Because of them we had no serious injuries and no one died, which really could have happened," she added.

The EOC, which had to be re-located four times because of the rising water, is working tirelessly to return a sense of normalcy to life on base.

"We have people working so far outside their normal duties and everyone has a smile on their face," said Blackwood. "Our spirits are up. We are keeping that positive attitude because we know that in the end, we are doing what we are supposed to do -serving Sailors," she added.

NSA Mid-South also began organizing volunteers once the storm passed, including chaplains and counselors. Those 200 volunteers are now helping displaced families sift through their belongings and move back into their homes.

"The response has been tremendous," said Force Master Chief (AW/SW/NAC) Jon D. Port, Naval Personnel Command force master chief.

Port said that within 24 hours a Family Assistance Center (FAC) had been stood up and was staffed by residents from the Fleet and Family Support Center, Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society and the Red Cross. The FAC served as a temporary home to those who were evacuated and provided basic necessities such as food, water and cleaning supplies.

"Now comes the hard steps of recovery. CNIC [Commander Naval Installations Command] has been actively engaged every step of the way to get the resources down here," Port added. "Everybody has stood shoulder to shoulder to try and help each other. I can see why Tennessee is called the volunteer state."

With the clean up well underway, the essential missions of the base are coming back on line and 147 families have been able to move back into their homes.

Nominations open for 2010 GEICO awards

Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Awards and decorations officials at the Air Force Personnel Center here are seeking nominations for the 2010 Government Employees Insurance Company’s Military Service Awards. The annual GEICO Military Service Awards recognize enlisted servicemembers from all military service branches, active duty, Guard and Reserve, for their contributions to military and civilian communities.

The three award categories are drug and alcohol abuse prevention, fire safety and fire prevention, and traffic safety and accident prevention. The accident prevention category applies specifically to vehicle or motorcycle related accomplishments.

Nominees must have at least one year of obligated service through Dec. 31, 2011, to be eligible. The award's period of service runs from Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010. However, nominees’ accomplishments could have been performed during the award period, be ongoing or span a period of several years.

Organizations and base-level personnel must contact their major command, field operating agency, direct reporting unit or MAJCOM equivalent for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures.

Each MAJCOM, FOA or DRU may submit one nomination. Completed nomination packages must be sent to AFPC by Oct. 15, 2010.

For more information about the GEICO Military Service Awards, visit the AFPC personnel services website or call the Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

Military Support Continues on Gulf Coast

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

May 7, 2010 - Military support continues today as part of an interagency response force that's working to clean up an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Air Force flew six aerial spray operation sorties yesterday with C-130 Hercules aircraft to help in neutralizing the oil spill with dispersing agents. Ten more sorties are scheduled in the coming days, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Robert Ditchey said today.

The two C-130 crews are assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing's 757th Airlift Squadron based at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio. They are deployed to and operating out of Stennis International Airport, Miss.

Meanwhile, the Navy is sustaining logistical support, equipment and assistance in skimming and salvage operations. The Navy has provided 66,000 feet of inflatable oil boom with mooring equipment, 16 rapid deployment skimmer systems and 44 contractors to assist in the efforts.

The Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Miss., has received the Navy equipment at the Mississippi State Dock. The equipment will be deployed as necessary. On-scene coordinators in support of the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard are coordinating this effort, Ditchey said.

Also, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., is acting as a staging facility for BP contractor-provided equipment, such as containment booms, recovery barges, tractor-trailer trucks, pumps and other equipment, he added.

BP lowered a pollution-containment dome about 500 feet above the sea floor last night. The next step will be to connect the cofferdam to a ship on the surface to salvage the spilled oil. May 9 is the earliest Pentagon officials expect the dome to be operational, Ditchey said.

The governors of Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama have declared states of emergency. More than 1,000 National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard personnel have been called to action along the Gulf Coast.

Marine Makes Difference in Liberia

By Nicole Dalrymple
U.S. Africa Command

May 7, 2010 - Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Gary Morris' time in Liberia, which originally began as a voluntary six-month assignment, will end in August, 20 months after it started. The U.S. military has been providing mentors and advisors to Liberia's security sector reform initiative since 2006 through a U.S. State Department-led initiative. Morris, a reservist, was serving as a platoon leader in an antiterrorism unit in Billings, Mont., when he accepted an assignment as a military advisor in Liberia.

Morris arrived in Liberia on January 2009, where for six months he served as a mentor to the 2nd Battalion of the newly formed 23rd Infantry Brigade of the Liberian armed forces. He returned home to Dallas, only to receive a call shortly afterward asking if he would return to Liberia.

Morris agreed to return to Liberia, and served another two months as a mentor. He then moved to U.S. Africa Command's office of security cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. He works there as the Liberia defense-sector reform liaison and assists all U.S. military personnel in Liberia with logistical support.

Morris said he has learned a lot about Liberia and its people because he has taken the time to talk to people and get to know them. He said the Liberian people will tell him about the devastating civil war that ravaged their country for 14 years.

The Liberian children he has met seem mature beyond their years, Morris observed.

"Kids here don't get a chance to be kids," he explained. "That's what strikes me. Four and 5 year olds are out working and earning money for their families."

To Morris, who has a 6-year-old son, "It is a fascinating place and a very humbling place."

On top of his regular duties, Morris has regularly visited a small Monrovia school for more than a year, and he recently started teaching a weekly physical education class at the American International School in Monrovia.

In March 2009, Morris met a group of children who watched as he offered assistance to the driver of a Liberian military truck that had broken down near Camp Edward Binyah Kesselly Barracks, where the battalion is based. He was approached by their teacher at the Margretia School, who invited Morris to visit. During his visit to the school, Morris learned that unless the students brought their own food, they didn't get lunch.

Perhaps it was his own experience as a child in Jamaica, walking to school in his bare feet and picking fruit from the trees for breakfast, but Morris knew what the children needed. He began making regular trips to the school, bringing bags of rice and cooking oil and providing all the items needed to provide lunch for the children.

In an effort to create a connection between the Liberian armed forces and the school, and hoping others would continue to support the school after he leaves, Morris brought Liberian soldiers to the school and invited fellow U.S. servicemembers to accompany him on his visits.

In January 2010, Morris was invited to teach a class on exercise and nutrition at American International School in Monrovia. This morphed into a standing appointment every Friday, where he teaches a 90-minute physical education class to 24 students in grades 4 through 9. A certified trainer, Morris owns and operates his own personal training and corporate fitness business back home in Texas.

Many of the students at American International School are children of parents serving in Liberia as diplomats or nongovernmental organization employees. Some are children of Liberians who are returning to the country after leaving because of the civil war. The diverse student body represents France, Ghana, Holland, Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, Spain, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Teachers report noticing a change in the students since Morris started teaching physical education. The school's director, Gary Eubank, and his wife, Rory, who is the upper school team leader, praised Morris on his interaction with the students.

"They are more attentive in class and have been asking about the nutritional value of snacks and food," Rory Eubank said. "The kids love his classes."

Her husband noted that Morris has set benchmarks, incorporating the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports into his program. He encourages the children to set goals, he said, and conducts periodic assessments so they can see how they are improving.

Morris also has engaged the students in leadership activities, having them lead exercises and giving them an example to emulate. In particular, Rory Eubank commented on changes she has seen in a 7th-grade student from Niger.

"He is a superb student and a bit of jokester," she said. "We've seen him becoming a leader, becoming more serious but still retaining his fun side."

Morris views his time in Liberia as volunteerism. While he misses his son, he said, he tells him what he is doing and why it is important.

"The U.S. military is having a very positive impact here in Liberia," he said, adding the biggest compliment he has received as a Marine came when he was leaving the United Nations Liberian mission's headquarters here and a gentleman told him, "When I see U.S. Marines, it brings me peace."

Morris said the future of Liberia is bright.

"I remember the president telling the [armed forces] that they are the future of Liberia," he said, reflecting on a Feb. 11 Armed Forces Day ceremony. "I can feel the pride [the Liberian servicemembers] feel, and at the Armed Forces Day, I could feel the pride that Liberians have in their armed forces."

Chairman Tells Troops It's OK to Get Help

From a Tricare News Release

May 7, 2010 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wants servicemembers to know it's OK to get help for behavioral health-related conditions. In a new video spotlighting The Tricare Military Health System's behavioral health care benefits, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen sends a strong message to servicemembers struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

"If you feel as though you or a close family member need help, please don't wait. Tell someone," Mullen said. "Asking for help may very well be the bravest thing you can do."

In the four-minute video, Mullen urges troops to tell someone in their chain of command if they're having difficulties working through stress from deployments or the demands of military life. These are issues all servicemembers may have at one time or another, Mullen said, and by ignoring them they can hurt not just themselves, but also their family, friends and fellow servicemembers.

"The truth is, many people are reluctant to seek counseling because they fear the stigma attached to psychological or emotion problems," Mullen said.

To avoid that, Tricare's new mental health options allow beneficiaries to seek help in a more private manner. The Tricare Assistance Program brings short-term professional counseling assistance straight into the home. Beneficiaries with a computer, a webcam and the associated software can speak "face to face" with a licensed counselor over the Internet at any time, day or night.

The Tricare Assistance Program is available in the United States to active duty servicemembers, those eligible for the Transition Assistance Management Program and National Guard and Reserve members enrolled in Tricare Reserve Select. It is also available to their spouses of any age and to other eligible family members 18 years of age or older.

The video also features Marine Corps Sgt. Josh Hopper, who shares his experiences with seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder after two deployments to Iraq. More of his story is available, along with the stories of other servicemembers who have sought help, on the "Real Warriors" website.