Military News

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DOD to Resume Restructured Military Spouse Career Program

From the Department of Defense

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Department of Defense announced July 20 the resumption of a restructured military spouse career advancement account program - MyCAA, following a comprehensive review.

The program will be available to spouses of service members in the pay grades of E1-E5, W1-W2 and O1-O2 beginning Oct. 25.

"The changes announced today reflect a return to the original intent of the program, which is to help military spouses, with the greatest need, successfully enter, navigate and advance in portable careers," said Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "We fully support the program and are committed to ensuring the program's sustainability. To that end, we are making several critical operational changes."

Amongst these changes, eligible spouses will receive a total of $4,000 in DoD-funded financial aid, with an annual cap of $2,000 per fiscal year; funding must be used within a three-year time period from the start date of the first class; and must be used to obtain an associates' degree, licensure or certification. A waiver may be granted when fees for licensure or certification require an up-front fee greater than $2,000 and up to the total maximum assistance of $4,000.

"The MyCAA program popularity grew beyond our expectations and became too expensive to continue. Therefore, we are returning to the original intent of the program in a way that is attainable and fiscally responsible for the Defense Department," said Stanley. "As we look to the future, we envision a program that is much broader than DoD's financial assistance component. Military spouses will be guided along a more holistic approach to career planning."

Under the long-term program guidelines, career counselors will continue to work with all military spouses to help develop career and education goals and plans and assist them in identifying and accessing available federal education benefits toward these goals.

"Families play a crucial role in supporting our men and women on the battlefield. When service members are confident that their families at home have access to resources and support, they are better able to focus on their mission," said Stanley. "The Defense Department is committed to investing in military families. When we invest in the well-being of the family, we invest in the well-being of the force."

Minnesota Sailors Volunteer at Charity to Help Children around the World

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Susan Hammond, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CHANHASSEN, Minn. (NNS) -- Twin Cities Sailors prepared food at a warehouse operated by the Minnesota charity Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) July 19 during Twin Cities Navy Week.

Sailors, along with 40 additional volunteers, packed rice and protein meals for children around the world.

FMSC is a non-profit organization distributing through missionary partners millions of meals each year to orphanages, schools and relief centers. In 2010, FMSC will prepare 127 million meals to feed children in 60 countries.

Twin Cities Navy Week gave the public a close-up look at what Sailors do throughout the world. The Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO), Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Minneapolis and Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Minneapolis will participate with the Navy Parachute Team "Leap Frogs" and Navy Band Great Lakes "Horizon" to showcase the Navy July 17-24. Twin Cities Navy Week is taking place with the 2010 Minneapolis Aquatennial. It is one of 20 Navy Weeks being held across America in 2010.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to be part of this project," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Sharla Jackson, NOSC Minneapolis. "It's fun watching the kids!"

FMSC accommodates volunteers from age 5 to 85. FMSC trains 60 volunteers per session, five sessions per day, six days per week. The other five FMSC packing sites in Minnesota, Illinois and Arizona can accommodate 100 volunteers per session.

"This is a hands-on endeavor," said Lois Long, a FMSC team leader. "They have an investment in the time. It's not just an envelope in the mail."

Sailors worked alongside the children, scooping rice, weighing and counting packets, refilling bins and sealing boxes. In two hours, more than 11,000 meals in 53 boxes were prepared for children around the globe.

Navy Week includes demonstrations by the Navy Parachute Team and performances by the Navy Band Great Lakes. Interactive displays, including the Navy Simulator will feature live-action Navy films programmed to move in sync with point-of-view imagery, at a variety of locations. The schedule also includes civic, corporate and educational engagements by Vice Admiral Jay Donnelly, Commander, Submarine Force, and Rear Adm. Buzz Little, commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command.

Twin Cities Navy Week concludes July 24 with a performance by the Navy Band at the Xcel Energy River Bash on the Minneapolis Riverfront.

Minnesota Sailors Volunteer at Charity to Help Children around the World

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Susan Hammond, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CHANHASSEN, Minn. (NNS) -- Twin Cities Sailors prepared food at a warehouse operated by the Minnesota charity Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) July 19 during Twin Cities Navy Week.

Sailors, along with 40 additional volunteers, packed rice and protein meals for children around the world.

FMSC is a non-profit organization distributing through missionary partners millions of meals each year to orphanages, schools and relief centers. In 2010, FMSC will prepare 127 million meals to feed children in 60 countries.

Twin Cities Navy Week gave the public a close-up look at what Sailors do throughout the world. The Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO), Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Minneapolis and Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Minneapolis will participate with the Navy Parachute Team "Leap Frogs" and Navy Band Great Lakes "Horizon" to showcase the Navy July 17-24. Twin Cities Navy Week is taking place with the 2010 Minneapolis Aquatennial. It is one of 20 Navy Weeks being held across America in 2010.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to be part of this project," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Sharla Jackson, NOSC Minneapolis. "It's fun watching the kids!"

FMSC accommodates volunteers from age 5 to 85. FMSC trains 60 volunteers per session, five sessions per day, six days per week. The other five FMSC packing sites in Minnesota, Illinois and Arizona can accommodate 100 volunteers per session.

"This is a hands-on endeavor," said Lois Long, a FMSC team leader. "They have an investment in the time. It's not just an envelope in the mail."

Sailors worked alongside the children, scooping rice, weighing and counting packets, refilling bins and sealing boxes. In two hours, more than 11,000 meals in 53 boxes were prepared for children around the globe.

Navy Week includes demonstrations by the Navy Parachute Team and performances by the Navy Band Great Lakes. Interactive displays, including the Navy Simulator will feature live-action Navy films programmed to move in sync with point-of-view imagery, at a variety of locations. The schedule also includes civic, corporate and educational engagements by Vice Admiral Jay Donnelly, Commander, Submarine Force, and Rear Adm. Buzz Little, commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command.

Twin Cities Navy Week concludes July 24 with a performance by the Navy Band at the Xcel Energy River Bash on the Minneapolis Riverfront.

Seoul Meetings Emphasize Strength of U.S., South Korean Pact

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

July 20, 2010 - In 1950, the United States and many other countries of the United Nations came to the defense of South Korea when North Korea invaded. The meetings in Seoul beginning tomorrow are a reaffirmation of U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea, said Navy Adm. Mike Mullen.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters traveling with him that the "Two-plus-Two" meetings between the secretaries of State and Defense and the ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Defense re-emphasize the security relationship between the United States and South Korea.

Mullen and Navy Adm Robert F. Willard will participate in the discussions, and provide their military advice to the civilian leaders. Their South Korean counterparts – led by Gen. Han Min-yu – will do the same for ROK government leaders. "I think it is an extremely important reaffirmation of the alliance on the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War," Mullen said.

Complicating matters is the March sinking of the South Korean frigate Cheonan off the west coast of the peninsula. An independent review team concluded that a North Korean vessel fired a torpedo that sank the ship and killed 46 ROK sailors.

This latest incident continues a history of provocative acts by North Korea. Northern leaders have ordered assassinations, kidnappings, raids across the DMZ, and any number of other acts since the armistice ending the fighting in 1953.

North Korea has developed a nuclear capability and the missile capability to deliver it. North Korea maintains a military in excess of 1.5 million, and has thousands of artillery tubes and missiles pointed at – and in range of – Seoul, which is one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the world.

The discussions in Seoul will be more than simply military talks, senior defense officials said. The leaders will discuss the full range of foreign and security issues confronting the region. On the military side, the Two-plus-Two will be discussions of joint U.S.-ROK military exercises. Leaders will also discuss the extension of the date for passing wartime control to South Korean forces. The transition was supposed to be complete in April 2012. It will now happen in December 2015.

Mullen said the leaders will continue to work together both in exercises and operations. "This is a really critical part of the world, and certainly if you have an incident like Cheonan and a country like North Korea, you worry a great deal about what else could happen here," he said. "We will continue with our strong relationship and continue to work with the Korean military as we have over decades."

The chairman praised diplomats across the spectrum for the U.S. Security Council resolution on the Cheonan. "There is nobody – the United States or those who live in the region – who want any kind of conflict to break out," the admiral said.

The specific act of the sinking of Cheonan and killing 46 sailors "is just completely unacceptable," Mullen said. "It doesn't meet any kind of international norm and that behavior isn't going to be tolerated."

Still, the chairman said he will not underestimate North Korean capabilities. "The size of the force and its proximity to Seoul make it dangerous," Mullen said. "It's got an unpredictable leadership, and that's indicative in what happened to Cheonan."

The U.N. Security Council resolution – with the agreement of China and Russia – sends North Korean leaders the message that no country supports them. U.S. and South Korean forces will conduct joint exercises off both the east and west coasts of the peninsula. The intent of the exercises is to improve stability in the region and improve interoperability. It also sends the message to the North that the South Korean military is a powerful force on its own , and that the nation is a treaty ally of the most powerful and combat-proven force in the world today.

The U.S. and South Koreans exercise routinely in the waters off the peninsula. The Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea are international waters and the United States will use them as such, Mullen said.

The Two-plus-Two will begin with a ceremony at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul. There will be a moment of silence for the 46 sailors killed aboard the Cheonan. Leaders will also remember the more than 32,000 American servicemembers who died in the war. Since 1953, the United States has maintained troops on the peninsula. There are currently 28,500 U.S. servicemembers in South Korea.

General Outlines U.S. Mission, Challenges in Africa

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

July 20, 2010 - As U.S. Africa Command matures and strengthens ties with African nations, American interests on the continent become more stable, the command's top officer said today.

Africom was established in October 2007 to "add value" to African nations by improving their military capacities and to help nations achieve their short- and long-term goals, Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward said during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here. He discussed progress and challenges and explained the strategic importance of the continent to global security.

Many African nations struggle with democratic processes, political reform, civil conflict and reconstruction issues, Ward noted. Despite those challenges, Africa presents tremendous opportunity, he said.

Much of the continent's development progress is hindered by corruption, weak governance and drug and human trafficking, Ward explained. Also, the growing population faces challenges in food and security. However, those concerns are "not absolute barriers," he said.

Good governance and reliable militaries prove to counter such concerns, Ward said. Several nations have become well-respected, international partners dedicated to peacekeeping, he added.

"Good governance ... fosters change in stability that allows the U.S. and Africa, across all spectrums to build trust [and] pursue mutual interests toward lasting relationships," Ward said. "Africans are steadily taking ownership in addressing existing security challenges. It means that, over time, we can work more effectively together to further these mutual interests."

African nations have the potential to be great, long-term security partners, the general said. But some are more dependent on outside resources, he added.

"The greater issue is not that challenges exist in Africa," he said. "Africans lack the means to wholly and fully confront them."

In some cases, Ward explained, resources are available within African nations, but are not aligned to address the challenges. Also, sometimes opportunities for progress are not well understood, he said, adding that developing a stable economy and government need as much focus as security.

"I get asked all the time: What are you going to do about Somalia? What are you going to do about Sudan? What are you going to do about the Democratic Republic of the Congo? What are you going to do about Liberia?" the general said.

"It's also important to look at Africa in terms of the opportunity that exists," Ward said. "Economic development, governance, security initiatives and the continent's geopolitical role will both improve the lives of Africans and build a foundation for a stronger, longer friendship [and] cooperation between the nations of Africa and the United States, all the while promoting an environment where American lives are more secure."

Such effects will be felt abroad and in the United States, anywhere American interests are promoted, Ward said. The strategic importance of Africa is about stability and growth, which is in the best interest of the United States, he added.

"Since the command's inception, we routinely heard phrases like, 'African solutions to African problems,'" he said. "While that theme still resonates, U.S. efforts to help Africans address their challenges focus ... on a combination of diplomatic, developmental and defense engagement – programs that help build capacity, that foster African ownership."

The command, he said, prides itself on the ability to "listen and learn" from African nations.

"We had to get out of our foxholes, go down range and look back at what we were doing from the perspective of our most-important partners – the Africans," Ward said. "After hundreds of engagements with African political and military leaders, as well as members of civil society, there were several common themes of what the Africans wanted in terms of their long-term security interests."

Africom is primarily concerned with building military forces, the general said, acknowledging the importance of ground, sea and air military capabilities. However, he added, broader capabilities also are needed.

"Police, border patrols, coast guard, customs, immigration, air/space management, courts, law; all these are lined against the challenges and threats the partner nations face," Ward said. "Sufficient freedom from political violence is needed to allow real progress to take root."

Conditions must be set for Africans to address short-term challenges, so long-term objectives can be pursued, he said.

"This is clearly a long-term endeavor," Ward said. "Development or transformation of security capacity does not happen overnight, and in many cases will happen on an African, not an American, timetable."

World War II veteran receives Distinguished Flying Cross in Pentagon ceremony

by Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

7/20/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A World War II veteran received recognition for the heroism he displayed 65 years ago in the sky above Nazi Germany, during a ceremony July 19 in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

Retired Col. Claude M. Schonberger received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions Feb. 16, 1945, from Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at Headquarters Air Force here.

"I am in awe and ecstatic to be in the Hall of Heroes for this presentation," Colonel Schonberger said. "It is indeed a great privilege and honor to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for my actions in World War II.

"I share the Distinguished Flying Cross award with my former B-24 (Liberator) crew members who flew with me on most of my missions, many who were fatally injured," the retired colonel said.

General Deptula praised Colonel Schonberger's heroic actions on his 20th mission.

"Courage. There are those who attempt to define this small corner of the human soul with eloquent words," General Deptula said. "And then there are those who define it with their actions; who under great personal risk and danger, and not without fear, but rather in the resolute and firm sense of duty to service before self, act in spite of that fear in the almost certain consequences of the most selfless of ways that show us what courage really is.

"We call those who show us this courage 'heroes,'" General Deptula said, "and I'm both honored and humbled to be in the presence of just such a hero today: Colonel Claude Schonberger. For aviators, we recognize those heroes and their tenacity with the Distinguished Flying Cross," General Deptula said.

Colonel Schonberger's DFC citation details events of the Feb. 16 mission: " ... Lieutenant Schonberger demonstrated extraordinary flying skills and courage against the Obertraubling Airdrome in Regensburg, Germany. During the final bomb run of this mission, his bomb-loaded B-24 aircraft was struck by enemy fire, resulting in an uncontrollable propeller of the number four engine and a fire near the number three engine. Despite this hazardous situation, Lieutenant Schonberger continued on the bomb run and released his bombs with considerable accuracy."

General Deptula acknowledged that the delay in presenting Colonel Schonberger's DFC was not a reflection on the actions justifying it.

"Despite the fact that it's taken over 60 years for this day to arrive, time in no way diminishes the courageous actions of my fellow Airman, Claude Schonberger," General Deptula said.

Colonel Schonberger thanked General Deptula "for bringing my DFC papers to the attention of the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records," and Lt. Col. Laura Ryan for "bringing all the required documentation together for review."

Colonel Ryan is the Joint Concept Development and Experimentation Branch chief, Joint Force Development and Integration Division, J-7, Joint Staff.

Colonel Schonberger heard in 1942 that his draft number was about to be called up for military service.

"I always wanted to get in the Air Corps," Colonel Schonberger said. He decided to head to Minneapolis to see if he could pass the requirements to become a pilot. He did, and began training at Lincoln Army Air Field, Neb. He and his crew sailed from Norfolk, Va., Sept. 4, 1944, for Bari, Italy. He was assigned to the 759th Squadron, 459th Group, 13th Wing, 15th Air Force.

Colonel Schonberger flew 21 missions before being shot down Feb. 28 on a bombing mission to a bridge in the northern Italian town of Bolzano. This happened 12 days after the mission where he earned the DFC. The only other crew member to survive the bomber's explosion along with Colonel Schonberger was his navigator, 2nd Lt. Bob Johnson of Bigfork, Mont. Colonel Schonberger spent the rest of the war at Stalag Luft XIII in Nuremberg, Germany.

Colonel Schonberger continued to serve on active duty until 1951. He later joined the D.C. Air National Guard and retired in 1974 as a colonel. He worked as an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Spouse jobs program to relaunch in October

by Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

7/20/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts program will resume Oct. 25, but with some significant changes to the popular spouse employment program, a defense official announced July 20.

Changes include a reduction in the amount of financial aid, a change in the population eligible to receive that aid -- from all military spouses to just spouses of junior servicemembers -- and more robust counseling services.

These changes bring the program, commonly known as MyCAA, back to its original intent of equipping military spouses of junior servicemembers with portable careers, such as in real estate or health care, said Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The program was launched in November 2007 for spouses of junior servicemembers, and was expanded to all pay grades and programs of study in March 2009.

"We're trying to empower, to give spouses in particular, an opportunity to be immediately impactful as soon as they get into a community," Mr. Stanley said. "We want to make sure they have opportunities to work when they get to a new duty station."

Officials temporarily halted the program Feb. 16, pending a top-to-bottom review, after an enrollment surge overwhelmed the system and caused the program to nearly reach its budget threshold. In March, with the review still under way, officials resumed the program for the more than 136,000 spouses who already had established an account.

The review took time, but officials wanted to ensure they could sustain the program for the long-term, particularly in light of fiscal realities the government is facing, Mr. Stanley said.

"We want to help people be employed, but at the same time we have to be cost conscious," he said.

The aim is to sustain the program, he said.

"We don't want to start it and stop it. This is something we want to continue because it's important to take care of our families and our spouses."

The previous program offered all spouses of active duty servicemembers a lifetime benefit of $6,000 to be used for education purposes.

Under the new parameters, spouses of junior servicemembers can apply for a maximum financial benefit of $4,000 for up to three years from the start date of the first class, with a $2,000 annual cap, Mr. Stanley explained. Spouses pursuing licenses or certifications requiring an up-front fee of greater than $2,000 may apply for a waiver of the annual cap up to the maximum benefit of $4,000, he added.

Financial aid will be limited to spouses of active duty servicemembers in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W1 to W-2 and O-1 to O-2, Mr. Stanley said, as well as the spouses of activated Guard and Reserve members within those ranks. Spouses of Guard and Reserve members must be able to start and complete their courses while their sponsor is on Title 10 orders, he added.

Those spouses eligible to receive aid can use the money to fund associate's degrees, licenses and certification programs, not higher degrees. The program wasn't intended to support bachelor's and master's degrees, Mr. Stanley said. However, he added, spouses pursuing higher degrees can explore a plethora of other education opportunities -- such as scholarships, federal grants and the G.I. Bill -- with help from Military OneSource consultants.

"The counseling piece is probably the most important, and pivotal, part of this program," he said.

Spouses currently enrolled in the program can continue their participation through Oct. 21, when MyCAA will ramp down and prepare for the Oct. 25 relaunch. As of Oct. 25, those spouses who fall within the eligible pay grades can continue their program participation. Spouses who no longer are eligible for financial aid still can participate by accessing career and education counseling services, Mr. Stanley said.

"There are still opportunities," he said. "This one program is just one small part of the overall equation of taking care of our family members. It's an important part, but it's a small part."

To fund the program, officials have budgeted about $210 million for 2010 with an increase to $250 million for 2011 due to an expected spike in enrollments, Mr. Stanley said. For future years, officials are estimating a budget of about $190 million per year.

To ensure the vitality of the program, Military OneSource counselors will encourage spouses to explore other funding resources, including federal benefits. And staffing levels have been increased to handle the anticipated call volume and enable more one-on-one counseling with spouses, Mr. Stanley said. Officials also will monitor the program much closer now to ensure they can maintain it, he added.

The program became "wildly popular" before, mainly through word of mouth, Mr. Stanley said. People heard about the program and immediately recognized it was a good deal.

And "It's still a good deal," he said. "We always tend to look at the glass as half empty. We are doing the best we can with what we have. I wish we had a lot more money, but we don't. But this glass is still half full."

Airmen help Trinidadian officials build disaster plan

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

7/20/2010 - PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (AFNS) -- A military medical team is helping Trinidadian officials develop more comprehensive disaster plans, and also providing them the forum to coordinate their plans with other local agencies here July 20.

Each agency represented at the Disaster Planning and Mass Casualty Response course has a disaster plan.

"Now, the goal is for them to talk to each other, and take all of these plans and put them into one comprehensive plan," said Staff Sgt. Abraham Rodriguez, the NCO in charge for the Defense Institute of Medical Operations at Brooks City-Base, Texas.

For Christina Siew, a health and safety officer with Trinidad and Tobago's Northwest Regional Health Authority, having these different agencies in one room is helping her revise her current disaster plan.

"Everyone in one room is helping, because within the reviewing process, we need to get stakeholders to give us the additional assistance required," she said. "We don't have police, and we don't have transport -- we have them in our plan mentally, but with them here, they can work through issues."

Some of the potential natural disasters to Trinidad and Tobago include flooding, landslides and earthquakes. With these potential disasters in mind, the instructors create scenarios for the officials to practice and discuss their plans.

"We give them the scenarios and ask them what kind of resources or manpower is needed," Sergeant Rodriguez said. "If we identify that fire department services are needed, we ask the individual in the classroom what his agency brings to the table. This way, all of the agencies are on the same page on what is needed."

"It also helps that officials from different echelons of these agencies are here to discuss these issues," he said. "This way, the people at the work stations, such as the fire department, have the opportunity to justify to those higher officials why they need what resources, if a disaster occurred."

"I hope to get a better understanding of disaster preparedness," Ms. Siew said. "Right now, we just have the basics. The material (the DIMO team) provided is more in-depth, which will help us better prepare a final document."

U.S. Fleet Forces Visits RIVGRU, NECC

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Michael R. Hinchcliffe, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) presented awards to Riverine Group (RIVGRU) 1 and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story July 19.

During his RIVGRU 1 visit, Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr. presented Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Michael Finch, Riverine Squadron 1, with the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Finch manned a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle gun during a four-vehicle tactical convoy from Basrah Area Operations Center (BAOC) June 25. While returning from a salvage operation, Finch's vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device about one kilometer southwest of BAOC. Finch's hand was severely damaged in the attack.

"I was extremely honored to receive the Purple Heart medal for doing my job. When everything happened all my training kicked in, and it felt like second nature; I racked my weapon (chambered a round) and assessed the situation," said Finch. "I am definitely excited to get back out there on deployment with my shipmates. If I could go now, I would."

Harvey presented NECC personnel with the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) for exceptional meritorious service from 2006 to 2008.

"The results of NECC's mission have been beneficial to the Navy, to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to all the other places that we have deployed you," said Harvey. "Thank you and congratulations on a job extraordinarily well done."

From January 2006 through the end of 2008, NECC deployed more than 25,000 expeditionary forces to support combatant commanders and Navy component commanders' global requirements.

"It takes something special to receive a NUC. It took something special back in 2006 to bring all these communities together with their histories, traditions and backgrounds and to bring them all together in a coherent and complete way," said Harvey. "I respect the leadership team and the folks who have been here from day one for coming together and putting this command together."

Harvey said the incredible skill sets forged at NECC will be needed long after OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Exemption from State Tax Withholding for Military Residents of Oklahoma

Per Oklahoma Statute, Title 68, Sec. 2358 (2009), effective for taxable years beginning on or after 1 January 2010 and through 2014, all military pay received by active duty or reserve members of the Armed Forces will be exempt from Oklahoma income tax.

The military pay exemption applies to all Oklahoma military members regardless of where the member is stationed.

Continuation of the tax exclusion for tax years 2015 and beyond will be determined later based on an analysis by Oklahoma officials of various kinds of revenues.

Effective 1 July 2010, PPC stopped withholding of state income tax for members claiming Oklahoma as their state of legal residence. However, PPC will continue to report earnings even though taxes will not be withheld. Members must continue to file Oklahoma state income tax returns to claim the exclusion of military pay. Other earnings by military personnel, such as investment income or income from other employment, are not exempt.

U.S. Fleet Forces Visits RIVGRU, NECC

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Michael R. Hinchcliffe, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) presented awards to Riverine Group (RIVGRU) 1 and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story July 19.

During his RIVGRU 1 visit, Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr. presented Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Michael Finch, Riverine Squadron 1, with the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Finch manned a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle gun during a four-vehicle tactical convoy from Basrah Area Operations Center (BAOC) June 25. While returning from a salvage operation, Finch's vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device about one kilometer southwest of BAOC. Finch's hand was severely damaged in the attack.

"I was extremely honored to receive the Purple Heart medal for doing my job. When everything happened all my training kicked in, and it felt like second nature; I racked my weapon (chambered a round) and assessed the situation," said Finch. "I am definitely excited to get back out there on deployment with my shipmates. If I could go now, I would."

Harvey presented NECC personnel with the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) for exceptional meritorious service from 2006 to 2008.

"The results of NECC's mission have been beneficial to the Navy, to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to all the other places that we have deployed you," said Harvey. "Thank you and congratulations on a job extraordinarily well done."

From January 2006 through the end of 2008, NECC deployed more than 25,000 expeditionary forces to support combatant commanders and Navy component commanders' global requirements.

"It takes something special to receive a NUC. It took something special back in 2006 to bring all these communities together with their histories, traditions and backgrounds and to bring them all together in a coherent and complete way," said Harvey. "I respect the leadership team and the folks who have been here from day one for coming together and putting this command together."

Harvey said the incredible skill sets forged at NECC will be needed long after OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom.

MILITARY CONTRACTS July 20, 2010

ARMY

Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Dallas, Texas, was awarded on July 12 a $469,922,290 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The guided multiple rocket systems (GMLRS) unitary, Full Rate Production V procurement is to acquire 4,770 unitary and 530 reduced range rocket pods (RRPR). This procurement covers requirements and service for the U.S., foreign partners, and Foreign Military Sales customers. The U.S. Army is to acquire 532 unitary pods, 3 stockpile reliability program pods and 18 unitary production validation test rockets. The U.S. Marine Corps is to acquire 98 unitary pods. Foreign partners are to aquire the following: Germany, 20 unitary pods; United Kingdom, 72 unitary pods; France, 43 unitary pods. Foreign Military Sales customer Jordan is to acquire 24 unitary pods. The procurement of RRPR is as follows: U.S. Army, 344 pods; U.S. Marine Corps, 120 pods; United Arab Emirates (UAE), 30 pods; and Jordan, 36 pods. Downloads/demate rocket pods are as follows: U.S. Army unitary, 538 pods; U.S. Army RRPR, 344 pods; U.S. Army 2009 supplemental, 118 pods; U.S. Marine Corps supplemental, 74 pods; U.S. Marine Corps, 98 pods; U.S. Marine Corps RRPR, 120 pods; Germany unitary, 20 pods; United Kingdom unitary, 72 pods; France unitary, 43 pods; Jordan unitary, 24 pods; UAE RRPR, 30 pods; and Jordan RRPR, 36 pods. Other requirements in support of production deliveries include: integrated logistic support; facilitization of France; GMLRS technical publications, Jordan; GMLRS multiple launch rocket system family of munitions spares; and GMLRS obsolescence. Work is to be performed in Dallas, Texas (15 percent), and Camden, Ark. (85 percent), with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2013. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-10-C-0270).

AVI Bophirima, Inc., Corvallis, Ore., was awarded on July 14 a $80,396,827 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. This contract is for the development and licensure of hemorrhagic fever virus therapeutics, Ebola and Marburg. Work is to be performed in Corvallis, Ore. (51.85 percent); Fort Detrick, Md. (2.7 percent); and Fort Devens, Mass. (42.45 percent), with an estimated completion date of May 24, 2016. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 10 bids received. U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Frederick, Md., is the contracting activity (W9113M-10-C-0056).

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp., British Columbia, Canada, was awarded on July 14 a $34,747,879 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. This contract is for development and licensure of hemorrhagic fever virus therapeutics. Work is to be performed in Canada (68.72 percent), and Fort Detrick, Md. (31.28 percent), with an estimated completion date of July 19, 2016. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 10 bids received. U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Frederick, Md., is the contracting activity (W9113M-10-C-0057).

NAVY

J.J. Sosa & Associates, Inc.*, Tampa, Fla. (N69450-10-D-0783); Asset Group, Inc.*, Oklahoma City, Okla. (N69450-10-D-0784); Core Engineering & Construction, Inc.*, Winter Park, Fla. (N69450-10-D-0785); DC General, LLC*, Hattiesburg, Miss. (N69450-10-D-0786); Environmental Management Resources, Inc.*, Lawrence, Kan. (N69450-10-D-0787); and Thrash Commercial Contractors, Inc.*, Brandon, Miss. (N69450-10-D-0788), are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award design-build construction contract for projects at military installations along the Gulf Coast of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama region within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast's area of responsibility. The work to be performed provides for general building type projects - new construction, renovation, alteration and repair of facilities and infrastructure, roofing, demolition, and routine renovation - including, but not limited to: aviation and aircraft facilities; maintenance facilities; barracks and personnel housing facilities; administrative facilities; warehouses and supply facilities; training facilities; personnel support and service facilities; security level facilities; community support facilities; and abatement and handling of hazardous/regulated materials, including and not limited to asbestos, lead paint, mold remediation, and polychlorinated biphenyls. Projects may also require comprehensive incorporation of sustainable features. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all six contracts combined is $100,000,000. J. J. Sosa & Associates, Inc., is being awarded task order #0001 at $5,726,565 for the design and construction of a battalion maintenance facility and equipment yard at Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by January 2012. All work on this contract will be performed primarily in Louisiana (40 percent), Mississippi (30 percent), and Alabama (20 percent). Work may also be performed within a range of 250 miles from Gulfport, Miss. (10 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of July 2015. Contract funds for task order #0001 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 37 proposals received. These six contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

G.S.E. Dynamics, Inc.*, Hauppauge, N.Y., is being awarded an $8,462,663 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the acquisition of repair/refurbishment, rebuilding, assembling and modification of government-furnished fiberglass composite structures for various Navy ships. The required service repairs will consist of submarine antenna and periscope mast fairings; radomes; antenna closure caps; non-composite submarine antenna mast fairings and periscope fairing structures; hydraulic/hoist cylinders; bearing frames; and closure doors. Work will be performed in Hauppauge, N.Y., and is expected to be completed by July 2015. Contract funds will expire at end of the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with one offer received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Ship System Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N65540-10-D-0012).

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $34,804,061 contract modification which will exercise the fourth option for Space Based Infrared Systems Highly Elliptical Earth Orbit Payload 3 launch and early on-orbit support. At this time, $548,174 has been obligated. ISSW/PKF, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8810-08-C-0002; P00012).

Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Sudbury, Mass., was awarded a $29,211,458 contract modification for the surveillance radar program, a foreign military sales program managed by the Electronic Systems Center to provide Taiwan with the elements of a missile and air defense capability. At this time, $8,324,987 has been obligated. 850 ELSG/PK, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA8722-05-C-0001 P00073).

ITT Corp., Clifton, N.J., was awarded a $7,482,910 contract which will provide AN/ALQ-172 block cycle software support and enhanced maintenance test set engineering services. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. WR-AL/GRWKB, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity.(FA8523-09-G-0001-0002).

Gates Discusses Korea Tour Lengths, Army Deployments

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

July 20, 2010 - Tour lengths for servicemembers assigned to South Korea and the Army's deployment cycles were on the minds of soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team when they met with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates here today.

After making prepared remarks to about 300 soldiers at this post about 20 miles from Korea's demilitarized zone, Gates opened the floor to questions.

One soldier wanted to know if the standard tour length for unaccompanied servicemembers would be doubled to two years.

Gates replied that he approved the idea of "tour normalization" in South Korea a couple of years ago. "What we're looking at is a two-year tour for single members of the service and three-year [tours] for families," he said. "We're proceeding with the first phase in terms of families."

It's a long-term process, the secretary explained, partly because greater numbers of command-sponsored families means more infrastructure is needed to support their needs.

"We think the circumstances are such ... that this is a place where American families would be comfortable and would be safe," he said, "and would make the service of our men and women in uniform more bearable for the families."

Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, pointed out to Gates that the decision has begun to have an effect. Two years ago, about 1,600 U.S. military families were living in South Korea, a number that has reached more than 4,200.

"Even up here at 2nd Infantry Division, they have about 600 families that are command-sponsored right now," Sharp said. "[We're] making sure that we build the infrastructure in order to be able to have even more families come, to the point where we can eventually allow all families to come, to get to about 14,000 families [in South Korea].

Another soldier wanted to know what Gates thinks about Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.'s desire to reduce combat deployments for soldiers, which now are a year long, to nine months.

"One of the reasons that the Army has had 12-month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, in contrast to [the other services], among other things, has just been the logistics," Gates said. "Trying to move as many forces as the Army had in Iraq and Afghanistan on nine-month centers has just been beyond our capability."

Gates said he believes Casey expects that as stress on the force comes down with drawdowns in Iraq and upon reaching the authorized strength in Afghanistan, the Army can go to one-year combat tours followed by two years at home stations, and then work from there toward a 1-to-3 ratio.

"And I know that it is his goal, once we're not involved in these two wars simultaneously, to be able to get to nine-month deployments, which would obviously be a lot easier on troops and their families," Gates said.

"But I won't kid you," he added. "I still think it's a long ways away."

Gates, who had begun his formal remarks by offering his thanks to the soldiers for their service and to their families for supporting them, took time after the question-and-answer session to shake hands with each soldier, pose for pictures with them, and present them with his commemorative coin.

The secretary later met with Defense Minister Kim Tae-young in the South Korean capital of Seoul, and tomorrow he'll join Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Korea's demilitarized zone. The two Cabinet officers are visiting South Korea this week to participate in the first "Two-plus-Two Talks" between the long-time allies.

Gates Plans Demilitarized Zone Visit as Gesture of Solidarity

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

July 20, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will visit Korea's demilitarized zone tomorrow in a demonstration of U.S.-South Korean solidarity.

Gates told soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team here that he'll visit the demilitarized zone along with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and their South Korean counterparts to highlight the importance of operations there and to demonstrate the "steadfast" U.S. commitment to South Korea.

"I think [the demilitarized zone visit] is a useful reminder that we are in an armistice and that it is a volatile region," Gates told reporters after his talk with the soldiers, noting North Korea's sinking of the freighter Cheonan in March that killed 46 South Korean soldiers. "I think it's a gesture of solidarity with our Korean allies, and recognition that issues of [North Korean] missile and nuclear proliferation endure and continue to be serious challenges for us and for our allies."

Gates told the soldiers that he and Clinton will participate with their South Korean counterparts in the first "2-plus-2 Talks" between the two nations tomorrow, and they'll discuss a wide range of issues, including upcoming military exercises. Though the meetings were in the planning stages before the Cheonan incident, he said, "that attack and our collective efforts to prevent another one will certainly also be a part of our bilateral discussions this week."

In fact, the secretary said, he would meet later in the day with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young to discuss a series of exercises involving the two nations' armed forces over the next several months. The exercises, mainly in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, are designed to enhance interoperability and readiness, he said, adding that the exercises also are meant to send a strong signal of deterrence to North Korea.

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is arriving in South Korea this week for a port visit and will participate in the first exercise of the upcoming series.

"It's going to be a pretty big exercise -- I think all together [it will involve] about 18 ships – 10 U.S., eight South Korean," Gates told the soldiers, who are based about 20 miles from the demilitarized zone. The exercise also will involve a large number of aircraft and will feature anti-submarine warfare operations and aircraft operations using an Air Force training range, he added.