Military News

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Navy Surgeon General visits University of Alabama in Birmingham

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

May 8, 2010 - BIRMINGHAM, Ala (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy Surgeon General paid a visit to the University of Alabama Hospital (UAB), a Level I trauma center located in the Medical Center District on the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) campus on Birmingham's Southside May 6 during Navy Week Birmingham.

Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr. visited the 908-bed facility which is the state of Alabama's major tertiary care center to meet with hospital leadership and medical students to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Speaking with students from UAB School of Medicine Robinson covered topics ranging from why he joined the Navy to his passion for the medical field.

"Service in the Navy is like no other service I have ever done," he said.

The students were impressed by Robinson's speech, which, for some, showed them a different point of view.

"Vice Admiral Robinson helped give me a better perspective of military service since I'm not coming from a military family," said third-year School of Medicine student Rozalyn Love.

Robinson was able to tell the students about a military career and how rewarding it is.

"The Navy has been a wonderful ride of a lifetime and the future is bright in medicine," Robinson said. "It's about taking care of men and women just like you do here every day."

This outreach event was one of many scheduled for the Birmingham Navy Week, which in turn is one of 20 Navy weeks planned across the country in 2010.

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

Kitsap Sailors Recognized at Hire America's Heroes Symposium

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Whetstine, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

May 8, 2010 - TACOMA, Wash. (NNS) -- Nearly 200 military personnel, business leaders and government officials attended the 2010 Hire America's Heroes (HAH) symposium held at the McChord Field Consolidated Clubs on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash., May 6.

HAH is a nonprofit origination whose purpose is to expand employment options in corporate America for service members when they leave the military through retirement or separation. The group recognizes the excellent performance of veterans in the civilian workplace, and its primary mission is educating other employers on reaching out and hiring former military members.

"This annual symposium allows us to showcase to people who are in the human resource departments for major corporations within the local area what military personnel have to offer to the job market," said Majorie James, president, Hire America's Heroes.

Washington State Senator Patty Murray spoke to the audience via pre-recorded video and shared her endorsement of the HAH program.

"Hire America's Heroes plays a critical and unique role in the veteran's support system," Murray said. "While you at HAH continue to challenge military, Veteran Affairs and private sectors to build bridges and help veterans find jobs, you should know you have a strong ally fighting by your side in the U.S. Senate."

Top performers from each branch of the military were introduced along with a brief background on each as examples of the types of skills veterans can bring to the corporate sector.

"I'm here representing the Navy, and it's a great honor," said Chief Electrician's Mate (SW/AW) Leo Pulan, Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Seattle. "I think this symposium is a great resource and opportunity for networking. It also provides people in uniform better information to transition into the civilian world."

HAH engages interested corporations in activities designed to educate, promote and facilitate best practices and success strategies for sourcing, recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, supporting and retaining America's transitioning service members and veterans.

"This symposium is an excellent networking tool for those who have done well in the military but choose to get out and explore other options outside of the military," said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Adelle Thompson, Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor. Hire America's Heroes bridges the gap between civilian and military for the way we work with each other because we're all one team."

CNRMW Visits Millington, Praises Recovery Efforts

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Ronda Lyn Spaulding, Naval Support Activity Mid-South Public Affairs

May 8, 2010 - MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Region Mid-West visited Naval Support Activity Mid-South to support the base's recovery efforts following floods that crippled the base May 1.

Rear Adm. Anthony Gaiani, CNRMW, offered words of encouragement to NSA Mid-South Commanding Officer Capt. Doug McGowen and Sailors staffing the base's Emergency Operations Center.

"Some of these stories are heartbreaking to listen to," Gaiani said. "There are folks who have some really serious problems and on top of that they've lost all their possessions. But the thing I take away from all that, when I talk to these families, is how grateful they are for the assistance they're getting."

NSA Mid-South, located in Shelby County, was struck by severe rainstorms and flooding May 1, causing the displacement of more than 300 families and significant structural damage to several buildings.

Gaiani praised NSA Mid-South Sailors' efforts, citing the impressive manner in which the community pulled together.

"The piece that was so impressive to me was speaking with families," he said. "They told me about the kindness and help that they've been given from people was overwhelming. The chiefs who've been out there and are helping clean out the houses, other Sailors and their families who are coming over to make sure they're getting enough to eat, that they're kids are being taken care of is absolutely overwhelming. It's what the Navy is really all about."

Gaiani said the Navy's working force – the military in uniform, the Government Service civilians and the contractors – have all been instrumental in recovery operations. He said he had heard of one contractor working for the NSA Mid-South Security Department and married to an active duty Sailor who was evacuated from his house during the inclement weather. Gaiani said the contractor immediately returned to the scene after ensuring his wife and child were safe, and later stood an additional 36 hours of duty.

"This contractor is showing the same kind of dedication to duty we would expect from Sailors," he said. "I saw this in the military, the civilians – everyone across the board. It's exactly what this business really means to all of us."

NSA Mid-South serves as the Navy's human resources center of excellence. The more than 40 tenant commands, including Navy Personnel Command and Navy Recruiting Command, manage a sailor's career from recruitment through retirement and support critical family readiness programs.

Gates Calls for Significant Cuts in Defense Overhead

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 8, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates used the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the Victory in Europe to declare war on duplicative overhead, bloat and needless spending in the Defense Department.

In a speech at the Eisenhower Library here today, Gates called for a reduction in overhead for the department, and said he wants the department to take a hard, realistic look at what defense capabilities America really needs in the 21st Century.

The Defense Department must take a hard look at every aspect of how it is organized, staffed and operated, Gates said in the speech.

"In each instance we must ask: First, is this respectful of the American taxpayer at a time of economic and fiscal duress?" he said. "And second, is this activity or arrangement the best use of limited dollars, given the pressing needs to take care of our people, win the wars we are in, and invest in the capabilities necessary to deal with the most likely and lethal future threats?"

The secretary called for a two to three percent reduction in overhead costs in the fiscal 2012 budget request. The money saved can be dedicated to force structure – the formations that fight our nation's wars.

Gates noted that Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as president from 1953 to 1961, led the Allied armies to victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 and confronted the Soviet Union in some of the coldest days of the Cold War. Given his prestige as a five-star general, Gates said, Eisenhower was able to make the tough choices needed for the U.S. military to be balanced and ready.

Still, Gates continued, Eisenhower maintained "his passionate belief that the U.S. should spend as much as necessary on national defense – and not one penny more," Gates said. "And with his peerless credentials and standing, he was uniquely positioned to ask hard questions, make tough choices, and set firm limits."

The secretary said he doesn't see that willingness inside or outside the Pentagon anymore.

"Looking back from today's vantage point, what I find so compelling and instructive was the simple fact that when it came to defense matters, under Eisenhower real choices were made, priorities set and limits enforced," he said. "This became increasingly rare in the decades that followed, despite the best efforts of some of my predecessors and other attempts at reform over the years."

Since the terror attacks of 9-11, the Defense base budget – not including money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – has nearly doubled, Gates said. The gusher of money has ended, and given America's difficult economic circumstances, military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny, he said.

The secretary is not advocating wholesale cuts. He said the nation is still at war and some for of growth must be maintained to fight the battles. Maintaining the brigades, regiments, wings and ships will require real growth in the defense budget ranging from two and three percent above inflation.

"In this year's budget request, the Defense Department asked for, and I hope will receive, just under two percent – roughly that level of growth," Gates said. But without change, this isn't realistic for the long run.Any change will have to overcome opposition inside the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

Gates pointed to the alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the C-17 airlifter programs as examples. The department does not want or need these programs, and they were not included in President Obama's defense budget request. Yet Congress may put both programs back in the budget at a potential cost of billions.

"I have strongly recommended a presidential veto if either program is included in next year's defense budget legislation," Gates said.

Regular military health care is another budget breaker. Defense Department health care costs have risen from $19 billion in 2000 to about $50 billion today. During that time, the premiums for TRICARE, the military health insurance program, have not risen.

"Many working age military retirees – who are earning full-time salaries on top of their full military pensions – are opting for TRICARE even though they could get health coverage through their employer, with the taxpayer picking up most of the tab as the result," the secretary said.

Both Gates and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld tried to implement modest increases in premiums and co-pays to help bring costs under control. Congress and veterans groups opposed these increases and they "the proposals routinely die an ignominious death on Capitol Hill," Gates said.

The secretary said he understands these political and fiscal realities, but says there has to be real reform in the way DoD does business.

"For the better part of two years I have focused on the Pentagon's major weapons programs – to make sure we are buying the right things in the right quantities," he said. "Last year, the department made more than 30 tough choices in this area, cancelling or curtailing major weapons systems that were either performing poorly or excess to real world needs – about $330 billion dollars worth as measured over the life of the terminated programs. We also began to overhaul the Pentagon's processes for acquisitions and contracting."

Reforming budgeting practices and contracting is a first step, and the department has begun this process, he said. The department is hiring more contracting professionals.

"Another category ripe for scrutiny should be overhead – all the activity and bureaucracy that supports the military mission," Gates said. Overhead makes up roughly 40 percent of the defense budget.

"During the 1990s, the military saw deep cuts in overall force structure – the Army by nearly 40 percent," Gates said. "But the reduction in flag officers – generals and admirals – was about half that. The department's management layers – civilian and military – and numbers of senior executives outside the services grew during that same period."

While private sector businesses have flattened and streamlined the middle and upper echelons, the Defense Department continues to maintain a top-heavy hierarchy that more reflects 20th Century headquarters superstructure than 21st Century realities.

"Two decades after the end of the Cold War led to steep cuts in U.S. forces in Europe, our military still has more than 40 generals, admirals or civilian equivalents based on the continent, Gates said. "Yet we scold our allies over the bloat in NATO headquarters."

This has bred a bureaucracy with its hands in everything, he said. A request for a military dog-handling team for Afghanistan, for example, must be processed and validated through five four-star headquarters before being approved.

"This during an era when more and more responsibility – including decisions with strategic consequences – is being exercised by young captains and colonels on the battlefield," Gates said.

He gave an example of how difficult it is to make even modest adjustments in the Pentagon. "The Department commissioned a study a few years ago to assess the flag-officer requirements of the services," he said. "The study identified 37 positions – out of more than 1,300 active and reserve billets – that could be reasonably converted to a lower rank. None were downgraded."

Gates said he has a few questions: How many of these jobs, headquarters or secretariats are actually doing a needed mission and how many are supervising other headquarters and secretariats? How many of the general and flag officer positions or those in the civilian senior executive service could be converted to a lower grade?

How many commands or organizations are conducting repetitive or overlapping functions – whether in logistics, intelligence, policy, or anything else – and could be combined or eliminated altogether?

Finally, these changes have to be done with a realistic look at the threats. "Before making claims of requirements not being met or alleged 'gaps' – in ships, tactical fighters, personnel or anything else – we need to evaluate the criteria upon which requirements are based and the wider real world context," he said.

"For example, should we really be up in arms over a temporary projected shortfall of about 100 Navy and Marine strike fighters relative to the number of carrier wings, when America's military possesses more than 3,200 tactical combat aircraft of all kinds?" he asked.

"Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?"

Gates said Eisenhower, with his five-stars and lifetime of experience in military affairs, asked these same questions and made these choices, and he was able to make them stick.

"Therefore, as the Defense Department begins the process of preparing next's years Fiscal Year 2012 budget request, I am directing the military services, the Joint Staff, the major functional and regional commands, and the civilian side of the Pentagon to take a hard, unsparing look at how they operate – in substance and style alike," he said. "The goal is to cut our overhead costs and to transfer those savings to force structure and modernization within the programmed budget."

The secretary wants money taken from the "tail" part of the defense dog to the "tooth." He said he wants enough savings to provide the equivalent of the roughly two to three percent real growth. This would give the department the resources needed to sustain America's combat power in a time of war and make investments to prepare for an uncertain future.

"Simply taking a few percent off the top of everything on a one-time basis will not do," Gates said. "These savings must stem from root-and-branch changes that can be sustained and added to over time."

It is time to act, the secretary said. "What is required going forward is not more study, nor do we need more legislation. It is not a great mystery what needs to change. What it takes is the political will and willingness, as Eisenhower possessed, to make hard choices – choices that will displease powerful people both inside the Pentagon and out."

CMS/ID Schedule Adjusted in Response to Millington Flood

May 8, 2010 - ILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- In response to the May 1 flash flood affecting Naval Support Activity Mid-South commands, Navy Personnel Command (NPC) extended the requisition schedule dates for Sailors using Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID).

Although CMS/ID remained operational throughout the flooding, NPC personnel, including Navy detailers, were diverted for disaster response and restoration efforts. As a result, processing of applications was delayed.

According to a message posted on the CMS/ID splash page, the selection period was extended through 14 May for active and Full Time Support (FTS) enlisted Sailors.

The May 2010 application period for active and FTS Sailors will begin at 6 p.m. Central Time, May 19 through 5 a.m., May 28.

The command phase will occur May 28 through May 31. Selections will occur May 31 through June 4.

Drilling Reservists are unaffected by this schedule change as there is no change to the Reserve schedule.

HSV 2 Delivers Project Handclasp Aid to Haiti

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie, High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

May 8, 2010 - PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Swift delivered the supplies as part of the Navy's Project Handclasp program, designed to transport educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

"Project Handclasp is a coordinated effort between the Navy and individual donors in the United States to bring much-needed emergency supplies and donated items to places in need," said Capt. Kurt Hedberg, mission commander, Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010. "What's unique about the Swift is its speed and cargo-carrying capability. We were able to bring these items here from the United States in a day and a half… a commercial shipping [vessel] would have taken a week."

Swift crew worked into the evening to deliver 23 pallets of water purifiers and relief supplies to Pure Water for the World, Inc., for distribution to the people in and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

"Our primary mission is to prevent childhood intestinal diseases, which is the second leading cause of death in developing countries," said Dr. Noelle Thabault, of Pure Water for the World, Inc., a nonprofit nongovernmental organization currently working to bring clean water to Haiti since 2008.

Following the Jan. 12 earthquake, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team has worked with various aid organizations and local Haitian leaders to deliver aid and to facilitate Haiti's long-term reconstruction. Combined, U.S. military forces have delivered more than 2.6 million bottles of water, 2.2 million food rations, 17 million lbs. of bulk food and 149,000 lbs. of medical supplies into Haiti.

Thabault said many of the area's water filters and purifiers in schools and medical clinics were damaged in the earthquake, and the organization will use the equipment delivered by Swift to help the affected areas.

"Clean water is largely unavailable here in Port-au-Prince, and throughout Haiti, and these biosanitation filters are a proven technology and have been in use in circumstances around the world," said Thabault. "Once they're installed they last for years, and they are directly going to save lives."

The Swift is currently deployed in Support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010, an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

General Officer Announcement

May 8, 2010 - Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nominations:

Air Force Col. Jeffrey L. Harrigian has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Harrigian is currently serving as the commander, 49th Fighter Wing, Air Combat Command, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

Air Force Col. John F. Newell III has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Newell is currently serving as the director, secretary of the Air Force/Air Force Chief of Staff Executive Action Group, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Air Force Col. Mark C. Nowland has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Nowland is currently serving as the commander, 71st Flying Training Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Vance Air Force Base, Okla.

Air Force Col. Robert D. Thomas has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Thomas is currently serving as the commander, 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Air Mobility Command, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

NMCB 11 Participates In CARAT 2010

By Lt. j.g. Andy Takach and Builder 3rd Class Caleb Gregoire, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 Public Affairs

May 7, 2010 - RAYONG, Thailand (NNS) -- Fifteen Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) Eleven's Detachment CARAT prepared their equipment for airlift April 15.

These Seabees staged their equipment on Kadena Air Force Base working through bad weather, including torrential downpours and whipping winds on an unusually chilly day in Okinawa.

NMCB 11 is tasked with supporting Engineering Civic Action Projects (ENCAP) for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2010. CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises between the navies of the U.S. and multiple countries in Southeast Asia, with goals of military-to-military cohesion, training, and relationship building. Its traditions span almost two decades.

In past CARATs, Seabee detachments would embark upon a participating ship from port to port, but this year NMCB 11's detachment will fly to each location to maximize its time on the ground and execute each project from cradle to grave.

Their first stop is Rayong, Thailand, and members are excited for the opportunity.

A few short hours after their C-130 touched down in Thailand, the Seabees of NMCB 11 teamed up with a 15-person detachment from the Royal Thai Marines (RTM). Their common goal is to construct a 7-by-8-meter, one-room schoolhouse for a primary school in a small village outside of Rayong. They have 30 days to complete their tasking.

Introductions were made, and the two crews set to work. At first, the language barrier was a concern. However, hand signals, sketches, and common phrases from both languages soon became commonplace at the job site, and the pace of construction picked up with a fury. Column footers were poured on the third full day of construction, and the grade beam and slab were poured just two days later.

The bond between the Seabees and the RTM strengthened; and by the end of the first week, they referred to themselves as one crew. Every day meant something new to learn from each other: a word, a different food, a different aspect of each other's culture, and of course, construction methods.

"It's a common misconception that we participate in these exercise to teach the host nation our way of doing things," says Chief Builder (SCW) Mario Solares, assistant officer in charge of the detachment, "but really, we are learning just as much about construction from them as they are from us."

The project crew continued to be innovative, reusing their formwork from the grade beams for the columns, and the project shot out of the ground. As April came to an end, all concrete work had been completed, and the crew had already placed three courses of block for the exterior walls.

"The timeline has definitely been our biggest challenge," said Builder 1st Class (SCW) David Sheard, NMCB 11's crew leader. "We've been able to combine our different methods tremendously. The efforts on both sides have been outstanding, and I'm confident we'll finish on time."

This project has been rewarding for the Seabees on many levels. Not only have they learned a great deal, but also they get to experience the impacts of their efforts firsthand. The local villagers never cease to show their appreciation. They cook lunch for the project crew at least once a week: a feast of exotic, and often spicy, Thai cuisine. Others stop by with bottles of sports drinks, and all of them exhibit the Thais' natural generosity. Smiling on-lookers will call for the Seabee's translator, wishing to personally thank the crew for its hard work.

Although school is not currently in session, due to summer break, students hang around the outskirts of the project on a daily basis. The Seabees make friends with all of them, buying them ice cream and teaching them games.

"I can't imagine a better deployment," said Builder 3rd Class (SCW) Daniel Guillermety. "I know that this will be one of the best in my career."

As the exercise pushes into May, the walls are almost complete, and the crew works on installing the heavy roof trusses by hand. With the ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for May 14th, they can't afford to slow down, and the Seabees and the Thais can be found working side by side, communicating with ease and completely in sync. It's obvious that neither side will forget the friendships that they've made and the contributions of their counterparts.

The rain at the staging area in Okinawa has long been forgotten. In a little over the week, the DET will yet again be preparing their TRICONs for airlift, this time to Malaysia. If it rains again, no one will question whether his or her next mission will be worth it.

USS Vicksburg Partners with Lithuania

By Ensign Marc D. Schron, Destroyer Squadron 24 Public Affairs

May 7, 2010 - KLAIPEDA, Lithuania (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) visited Klaipeda, Lithuania May 4-7 for a three-day theater security cooperation (TSC) port visit to the country.

Sailors took part in various events including community relations (COMREL) projects, school tours, sporting events and multiple receptions hosted both aboard Vicksburg and by the Lithuanian navy.

Distinguished guests included various officials from the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense and Lithuanian navy. Melnrage Municipality was the center of COMREL efforts, where Sailors cleaned five kilometers of beachfront, dug out 15 beach accesses, cleared playgrounds and removed cement debris.

Following the clean-up, the Lithuanian and U.S. navies partnered to host a barbeque at the nearby Palanga radar station.

Crew members on Vicksburg's basketball and soccer teams also participated in games against Lithuanian navy teams.

The events are part of a scheduled U.S. 6th Fleet TSC port visit, focused on promoting maritime safety and security through strengthened relationships with partner nations.

University Educators Tour USS Abraham Lincoln

By Lt. Greg D. Raelson, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

May 7, 2010 - USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) hosted 12 professors and senior administrators from various colleges May 6 to share a day-in-the-life at sea and highlight the Navy's commitment to education.

The visitors, who hailed from University of Southern California, Washington State University, University of Northern Iowa, Michigan Technological University, Iowa State University, and University of Montana, arrived on a C-2 Greyhound. They were greeted by the ship's commanding officer, air wing commander and command master chief before being whisked away to a full day of tours, discussion forums, a briefing with Carrier Strike Group 9 Commander Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, and interaction with the ship's crew.

During their stay, the ship not only demonstrated her capabilities as one of the mightiest warships on the seas, but also showed how far the Navy has come with its educational and career programs.

One stop on their tour was a visit with one of the ship's command career counselors, Navy Counselor 1st Class Adam Cregar, of Kokomo, Ind., who explained many of the opportunities available to Sailors at sea.

"We work with each Sailor individually to fully prepare them for their journey into education," said Cregar. "Our intention is to maximize the availability of programs to give all our Sailors the opportunity to benefit from our education services."

Additional highlights of the tour included a visit to the ship's library and computer center, as well as plenty of conversation with ship's company.

"Many Sailors are involved in higher education in one form or another," said Cregar. "We have Sailors working on their associate's, bachelor's and even master's degrees."

During the ship's last deployment, 749 Sailors completed college classes in 20 different subjects.

The visitors will return to their colleges and universities to share their recent experiences aboard the ship.

USS Abraham Lincoln is currently underway off the coast of southern California conducting Tailored Ship Training Assessment in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of the national maritime strategy this summer.

President Issues Military Spouse Day Proclamation

American Forces Press Service

May 7, 2010 - President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation declaring today as Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

Here is the text of the president's proclamation:

When Americans answer the call to serve in our Armed Forces, a sacred trust is forged. Our men and women in uniform take on the duty of protecting us all, and their spouses and families also help shoulder this important responsibility.

As we mark Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to supporting and honoring the husbands, wives, and loved ones of our Nation's servicemembers.

At the heart of our Armed Forces, servicemembers' spouses keep our military families on track. They balance family life, military life, and their careers -- all while supporting other military families and giving back to their communities. Many have served in uniform themselves and, understanding the obligations involved, can provide unparalleled support. They are pillars of strength in their families, often celebrating their children's life milestones while the other parent is away.

Military spouses also care for our wounded warriors and honor the memory of our Nation's fallen heroes, including their own loved ones. They impact countless lives on military bases and in schools, places of worship, and neighborhoods across our Nation. Their contributions help protect our freedom by strengthening our communities and our servicemembers.

My Administration is committed to improving opportunities and quality of life for these brave spouses and families who know the separation and stress of war. We are increasing servicemembers' compensation as well as funding for better housing, job training, counseling, outreach, and support for spouses and their families. We are also expanding our ground forces to reduce the strain of repeated deployments, and to give servicemembers more time with their loved ones.

There are many ways for each of us to show our appreciation for military spouses. Working through community-based organizations, workplaces, schools, and places of worship, we can help them support their families, establish or build a career, and address the unique challenges they face.

I am inspired every day by our men and women in uniform and their families. They are America's greatest military asset, and my Administration is committed to fulfilling our obligations to them. Today, let us honor the spouses and families who support our servicemembers and, in doing so, help defend our Nation and preserve our liberty.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the

United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2010, as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. I call upon the people of the United States to honor military spouses with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

Barack Obama

General Officer Assignments

May 7, 2010 - The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignments:

Brig. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, who has been selected for the rank of major general, to director of operations, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Franklin is currently serving as commander, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Joint Base Balad, Iraq,

Brig. Gen. Kurt F. Neubauer, commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to commander, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Joint Base Balad, Iraq

Col. Jerry D. Harris Jr., who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, to commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Harris is currently serving as assistant director, operations, plans, requirements and programs, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii

Brig. Gen. Bryan J. Benson, commander, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to vice commander, 18th Air Force, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Col. Edward M. Minahan, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, to commander, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. Minahan is currently serving as executive officer to the deputy commander, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany.

Col. Donald S. George, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, to director of intelligence, J-2, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. George is currently serving as commander, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Col. Gregory J. Lengyel, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, to executive assistant to supreme allied commander, Europe, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Mons, Belgium. Lengyel is currently serving as commander, 1st Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

NEX Memphis Helps Military Families in Aftermath of Flood

By Kristine Sturkie, Navy Exchange Service Command

May 7, 2010 - VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Support Activity (NSA) Memphis evacuated after the state of Tennessee was hit by unprecedented rain the first week of May. Navy Exchange (NEX) locations on base, including the gas station/mini mart, NEX main store, the furniture store and the Navy Inn were all affected by the rising water.

"The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) has a Crisis Action Team that supports and coordinates communication, emergency supplies, and relief efforts for NEXs and Navy Lodges throughout a major crisis," said Gerald Outar, NEXCOM director of Store Operations, Merchandising and Field Support. "When NEXCOM was informed of the flooding in Millington, our Mid-South District vice president quickly convened a response team from other NEXs in the South to aid in the recovery efforts."

The NSA commanding officer requested the NEX provide emergency supplies, including diapers, dog food and diesel gasoline for emergency boats, to families initially evacuated to the Navy Inn. The NEX also brought in additional emergency supplies that were made available to emergency recovery personnel on May 4. These items included 10 generators, 108 quarts motor oil, 52 large gas cans, 76 large squeegees, 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, 20 heavy duty brooms and 102 cans of fix-a-flat.

As the base was slowly being reopened to military families, the NEX was able to reopen the main store and one of its mini-marts so customers could purchase items needed to clean up as well as purchase food and beverage items. The NEX Subway, located at the main NEX, was also up and running when families were allowed back on base.

In addition, a Mobile Retail Facility (MRF) vehicle, a trailer on wheels, was on site at the North 82 Gym on May 4, to support evacuated housing residents. The MRF sold snacks, beverages, and other convenience items to displaced customers.

"We know this is a stressful time for everyone stationed down in Millington," said Outar. "NEX facilities were damaged right alongside everyone else's. We know what everyone is going through. We want our customers to know that we will do everything we can to get our locations opened to assist them in their recovery efforts."

For customers living in Millington, a special MILITARY STAR® Card zero percent financing program has been established. From May 8–31, customers who purchase a mattress, furniture or major appliances priced $199 or more and pay with a MILITARY STAR® Card can take advantage of no interest, no down payment with no payments for six months.

"This special program allows our customers the opportunity to work with their insurance companies for up to six months without having to make a payment on the merchandise," said Jim Winn, NEXCOM's customer service manager. "Our hearts go out to our customers in Millington. We know this is an extremely stressful time and we want to do all we came to help alleviate some of that stress for them. Hopefully, this special arrangement will do that."

Officials expand opportunities for small businesses

5/7/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President Obama signed two executive orders April 26 that focus additional resources on providing new opportunities for small businesses to compete for federal contracts.

Noting that "more work can and should be done" to help ensure the federal government meets its small business contracting goals, the executive orders define how government departments and agencies are to coordinate their efforts in making small business contracting a high priority in the procurement process.

One of the executive orders is dedicated to assisting veteran-owned small businesses. It seeks to "improve capital, business development opportunities and pre-established Federal contracting goals for small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled veterans."

"Airmen, in particular, have the military training and experience that increases their ability to be successful small-business owners and provide capabilities and solutions back to the mission," said John Caporal, Air Force small business deputy director.

He added that many veteran Airmen inherently have the innovation, risk-taking skills and level-headedness to competently run an organization.

Leaders at all levels are increasing awareness of the efficiencies that small businesses bring to the mission.

Two interagency task forces (one for each executive order) are responsible for coordinating administrative and regulatory activities. Each task force is charged with a number of objectives, including expanding outreach strategies to match small businesses with contracting opportunities.

The task forces also will analyze how small businesses develop, expand access to capital and offer advice to help them stay afloat and obtain federal contracts.

"Over the past 15 years, 64 percent of all new jobs created were created by small businesses," Mr. Caporal said. "The positive impact of empowering small businesses is significant to veterans and to our nation's economy."

Communication between Air Force representatives and members of the small business community is vital to expanding opportunities for all types of small business, including companies located in historically underutilized business zones and firms owned and controlled by women, minorities, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Among the priorities of Air Force Small Business Program officials is need to increase the awareness of how small businesses make an invaluable contribution to Air Force mission, not only by meeting statutory, statistical goals but by ensuring warfighters have access to a comprehensive set of capabilities in support of Air Force priorities.

As stated in the Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses executive order, "Indeed, where small businesses have the capacity to do more, we should strive to exceed the statutory goals."

For more information about the Air Force Office of Small Business, visit www.airforcesmallbiz.org.

(Tim Dzyacky, Air Force Small Business Programs Office, also contributed to this story.)