Military News

Thursday, August 19, 2010

General Officer Assignments

The chief of staff, Air Force announces the assignment of the following general officers:

Maj. Gen. Harry D. Polumbo Jr., director, plans and programs, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., to director, plans and programs, Headquarters U. S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany.

Maj. Gen. Michael R. Boera, commanding general, Combined Air Power Transition Force, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan; and commander, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Kabul Air Base, Afghanistan, to director, plans and programs, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kendall, deputy director, intelligence, operations and nuclear integration for flying training, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, to commander, Kandahar Air Field, U. S. Forces Afghanistan, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Navy Choppers Provide Aid to Pakistani Flood Victims

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

Aug. 19, 2010 - As flooding continues to plague Pakistan, the U.S. Navy is providing helicopters from a detachment in Bahrain to carry supplies into the stricken country's Swat valley.

Members of the Navy's Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 Detachment 2 spoke in a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable today to explain the ins and outs of their mission.

To date, the U.S. has pledged to provide more than $76 million in assistance to flood-affected people in Pakistan. Twenty-two U.S. military and civilian aircraft are in Pakistan in support of flood relief operations. U.S. helicopters have evacuated more than 5,000 people and delivered more than 500,000 pounds of relief supplies.

In addition, U.S. military cargo aircraft based in Afghanistan have transported more than 268,000 pounds of international aid from the Pakistani air force's central flood relief cell in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to other locations throughout the country.

In the past five days, HM-15 and its MH-53E "Sea Dragon" aircraft have been able to evacuate more than 1,600 people and deliver more than 271,000 pounds of food and other relief supplies. The unit has been at Ghazi Air Base for a week, but rain and cloud cover limited their ability to get to the people in Swat.

Navy Lt. Sean Snyder, one of HM-15's pilots, said the high altitudes have been difficult to get accustomed to. The aircraft responds differently to the thinner air at higher altitudes, he explained, so controlling the helicopter under a full load has been harder than it would be regularly.

"It's been a challenge getting the mission done every day," he said. "Had it been a sea-level situation, we probably could have doubled [the amount of evacuations and deliveries]."

Although Snyder and crew member Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Strickhouser operate only in one area, they said the widespread damage has been apparent as they fly over the country. The fact that the United Nations is pressing for more aid and more organizations are rallying to help the country is heartening, they said.

HM-15 is doing fine moving things, Strickhouser said, but any more help would be appreciated.

"Anything anybody can send won't be enough to stop the suffering that people are going through right now; I don't think that there's anything that can be done [to fix things right away]," Snyder said. "The more they can provide, so the assets can be spread out to help the whole country, would be very useful."

Snyder said his crew and the other MH-53E's crew from HM-15 have been working tirelessly to carry food and get as many people out of harm's way as possible. Usually, Snyder said, about five trips to and from the valley can be made daily by each aircraft. Though concerns have been raised that the Taliban in the area may somehow be using the flood to their advantage by helping people as a recruitment tool, there's no indication the insurgents are providing assistance, Snyder said.

"Other than what we're taking in and what the Pakistani government is providing, I haven't seen any other groups doing any assistance," Snyder said, adding that he has seen nothing of the Taliban firsthand or anecdotally. "People from the World Food Program are here, but I haven't seen anything else."

Strickhouser added that there has been little disruption of any kind to missions beyond the bad weather on their arrival. The Pakistani army is providing security and has landing zones prepared for U.S. aircraft, and generally the people waiting for aid have been orderly outside the established landing perimeter.

"We're only there for a short period of time before they take off, so they don't see a lot on the ground throughout the day," he said, "but there haven't been any problems. The only people who approach the aircraft are there to get the food we're bringing, and they take it to the others outside our perimeter."

Meanwhile, Snyder and Strickhouser said, members of the U.S. military, the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and a collection of nongovernment organizations continue to provide assistance to stricken Pakistanis.

"The Pakistani government determines where they need U.S. aid, and then the U.S. decides if they're able to help there with the equipment they have," Strickhouser said.

U.S. Military Continues Pakistan Relief Efforts

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 19, 2010 - U.S. forces continue to provide aid and aerial support to millions of Pakistanis hit hard by the monsoon floods, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said here today.

Whitman reiterated that the United States is responding to requests from the Pakistani government. "We have provided everything that Pakistan has asked for and [that] they feel would be helpful in this operation," he said.

In the last 24 hours, U.S. helicopters rescued another 187 people and delivered about another 50,000 pounds of relief supplies, Whitman said. Fifteen American helicopters from the USS Peleliu are operating in Pakistan. The Peleliu is in international waters off Pakistan.

Air Force C-130s were active, transporting a little more than 175,000 pounds of relief goods. The C-130s are based in Afghanistan and fly daily into Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where they pick up relief supplies and deliver them to Pakistani officials at various airports.

Local Pakistani officials are in charge of distributing the relief goods, Whitman said. The four areas that the aircraft supplied today were Sukkura, Jacocobad, Quetta and Multan.

Overall, since Aug. 5, U.S. helicopters have rescued almost 5,000 Pakistanis and delivered 634,000 pounds of relief supplies. Since they began operating Aug. 16, C-130s have transported about 269,000 pounds of supplies.

Whitman called the U.S. commitment to Pakistan robust and pegged the total contributions at about $96 million. But the operation is still in its early phases, he said.

"This operation is ongoing, and I suspect there will be additional assistance rendered," Whitman said. The monsoon rains continue in Pakistan, and more than 20 million people are affected by the disaster. United Nations officials expect that the waters won't begin to ebb until September.

More than 1,500 Pakistanis have died since the floods of the Indus River and its tributaries began July 29.

"These are things that have impact, not just for weeks or months, but for years – perhaps for decades," Whitman said. "These are disasters that have impact well beyond alleviating the immediate suffering, and the immediate humanitarian assistance."

The long-term effects cannot be known, he added, and may have an effect on the security situation in the country.

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 19, 2010

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Sysco Food Services of Seattle, Kent, Wash., is being awarded a maximum $540,815,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, sole-source contract for full line food distribution. Other location of performance is Alaska. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, federal civilian agencies and the Department of Defense. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Feb. 25, 2012. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM300-09-D-3160).

Hydro-Aire, Inc., Burbank, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $7,865,190 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for tire parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (SPRHA1-10-C-0043).

NAVY

ITT Advanced Engineering & Sciences, Annapolis Junction, Md., is being awarded a $455,026,747 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-only indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for production of up to 5000 Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) 3.2 mounted systems to meet urgent requirements of the Department of Defense in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Mounted JCREW systems are electronic jammers designed to prevent the initiation of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices and are critical to protecting U.S. personnel from the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. This contract is for the urgent procurement and support of JCREW systems, to be used by forces in each of the military services of the Central Command area of responsibility. Work will be performed in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (95.35 percent); Annapolis Junction, Md. (3 percent); Charleston, S.C. (1.09 percent); and Clifton, N.J. (0.56 percent). Work is expected to be completed by September 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with two offers received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-D-6300).

Austin Brockenbrough & Associates*, Richmond, Va. (N62583-10-D-0408); Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Kansas City, Mo. (N62583-10-D-0409); Enterprise Engineering*, Anchorage, Alaska (N62583-10-D-0410); Pond and Co., Norcross, Ga. (N62583-10-D-0411); and Robert and Co., Atlanta, Ga. (N62583-10-D-0412), are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award contract for architect-engineering support services for new and existing petroleum, oils and lubricants facilities to support the design of sustainment, restoration and modernization and military construction projects at Department of Defense (DoD) fuel facilities worldwide. The maximum dollar value for all five contracts combined is $100,000,000. No task orders are being issued at this time. Work will be performed at various DoD facilities worldwide including, but not limited to, the contiguous United States (60 percent) and outside the contiguous United States (40 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with expected completion date of Aug. 18, 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with eight offers received; five firms were selected for award. These five contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Specialty Center Acquisitions, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Force Protection Industries, Inc., Ladson, S.C., is being awarded a $64,097,528 firm- fixed-price contract modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5031) for the purchase of 1,946 seat survivability upgrade kits and the associated non-recurring engineering efforts, for installation on the Cougar CAT I A1 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. The installations will be performed in Afghanistan (80 percent), Kuwait (5 percent), and on vehicles at home stations in the U.S. (15 percent). Work is expected to be completed by February 2011. The contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Terra Group Corp., Allentown, Pa., is being awarded firm-fixed-price delivery orders #0007 and #0009 in the respective amounts of $8,037,810 and $10,200,000 under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-08-D-5083) for light weight water purification systems. Work will be performed in Allentown, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $10,200,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

General Electric Aviation, Lynn, Mass., is being awarded a $6,309,149 order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-09-G-0009) to provide engineering and engine system improvement services in support of the F414 Component Improvement Program. Work will be performed in Lynn, Mass., and is expected to be completed in June 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

AGEISS Environmental, Evergreen, Colo.; Booz Allen Hamilton, San Antonio, Texas; Portage Environmental, Inc., San Antonio, Texas; and TEAM Integrated Engineering, San Antonio, Texas, were awarded a $200,000,000 contract which will bridge the gap between the expiration date of existing contracts and the competitively awarded Global Engineering, Integration and Technical Assistance 2011 follow-on contracts. At this time, $4,000 has been obligated. AFCEE/ACX, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA8903-10-D-8500/8501/8502/8504).

Boeing Satellite Systems, El Segundo, Calif., was awarded an $182,177,702 contract which will provide the necessary items to begin production of Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite 7. At this time, $164,446,487 has been obligated. MCSW/PK, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity(FA8808-10-C-0001).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $23,712,712 contract which will provide survivability-vulnerability strategic planning, analysis and security analysis for U.S. European Command. At this time, $3,983,124 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1380; Delivery Order 362).

CAE USA, Inc., Tampa, Fla., was awarded a $21,289,460 contract which will provide one C-130 H weapons system trainer device, in the initial flight test ready operational flight for the Egyptian Air Force. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. ASC/WNSK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8621-10-C-6285).

Kestrel Institute, Palo Alto, Calif., was awarded a $10,734,887 contract which will develop and demonstrate new technology that provides comprehensive, automated techniques to allow end users to safely execute new software of uncertain provenance. DET 1 AFRL/PKDA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-10-C-7026).

DRS C3 & Aviation Co., Oakland, N.J., was awarded a $5,724,994 contract to design, test and produce boresight measuring equipment and adapters for F-15 and F-16 aircraft. At this time, no funds have been obligated. WR-ALC/GRVKBB, Robins Air Force base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8533-10-D-0014).

General Officer Assignment

The chief of staff, Air Force announces the assignment of the following general officer:

Brig. Gen. Teresa A. H. Djuric, commander, Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development, Air University, Air Education and Training Command, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., to deputy director, Space and Intelligence Office, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Written by: LT Connie Braesch

The Coast Guard Academy earned a perfect score of 100 and the top honor as the #1 regional college in the North based on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges 2011 issue released earlier this week. The academy was also recently named one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, for a second year in a row, by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Way to go Bears!

Among the more than 300 schools ranked in the “Regional Colleges (North)” category, the academy earned the highest score by the U.S. News and World Report. CGA is also featured among the best in other reviews of colleges and universities such as Princeton Review’s Best in the Northeast and Forbes Magazine’s America’s Best Colleges 2010 edition.

“These rankings are important because they reflect the quality of our academic programs, facilities, faculty and staff,” said Academy Superintendent Rear Admiral Scott Burhoe. “They allow us to better compete for an increasingly diverse pool of talented young men and women.”

CGA earned the distinction as a “Great College to Work For” after more than 43,000 people at 275 colleges and universities participated in a survey assessing the academic workplace. Of those schools, only 97 were given the admirable title.

“I am ecstatic that our faculty and staff recognized the Coast Guard Academy as a great college to work for, because we really are committed to providing everyone here an environment where they can reach their full potential” said Burhoe. “It is because of our faculty and staff that the Academy is able to achieve its mission to educate, develop, train and inspire leaders of character.”

C-17 squadron sets new standard in deployed airdrops

by Staff Sgt. Tim Jenkins
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/19/2010 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Members of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here dropped more than 1,192,000 pounds to 22 different drop zones, including fuel, water, food and additional supplies needed by servicemembers on the ground at forward operating bases across the area of responsibility.

The endeavor, called Operation Everest, took place over the course of one week, and was an effort headed by the 816th EAS to "fully exercise the C-17 (Globemaster III) theater drop capability," said Lt. Col. Stephen Ritter, the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.

The idea for the operation was inspired by airdrop missions during World War II, flying over the hump, and during the Berlin Airlift, where squadrons would push to make big numbers, Colonel Ritter said.

"They would really, really push," he said. "They found that their baseline, what they were comfortable doing in the beginning before a big push, increased afterwards. The norm goes up after a big push because you discover efficiencies and new ways of doing things, which we've done through our whole deployment. We've really upped the ante."

The week's missions added up to 837 bundles dropped, setting a record for C-17 drops in one week, officials said.

Although Operation Everest tops the record books, members of the 816th EAS said the week wasn't about setting records.

"It's not so much a record, but a demonstration for the planners in (U.S. Air Forces Central) to let them know what kind of capability we can bring to the fight by deploying the new efficiencies we've worked on so hard," said Lt. Col. Michael Snodgrass, the 816th EAS operations officer.

The capabilities demonstrated during Operation Everest include the capability of performing three airdrops in one day using one aircraft and two crews, and making three airdrops in one day with one aircraft and crew.

The squadron has also rehashed it's manning, and has improved its capability to change airdrop drop zones on short notice.

"The folks in the mission planning cell have been working on efficiencies trying to figure out how we can do more with less," Colonel Snodgrass said. "We're a smaller squadron than we've had historically, so we're trying to figure out ways that we can continue to put mass on the drop zone with fewer people."

He said these changes were necessary to ramp up capabilities in an effort to help their main customer: the servicemembers on the ground.

"They're down there at a forward operating base and may be hundreds of (kilometers) away from a main base, so we're out there getting them mass to the (drop zone), right to them, dropping the supplies so they can get to them while minimizing their exposure to unfriendly forces," Colonel Snodgrass said.

Staff Sgt. Hardia Madden, an 816th EAS aircraft loadmaster, said he's always thinking about who the supplies are going to on the ground.

"That's probably the best thing you can do with a C-17 or just airdropping," he said. "Knowing that you're getting whatever the guys need at the FOBs that vehicles can't reach, we do a few hours of planning and a few hours of flying, and they've got 40 bundles of what they need: ammo, water, MREs -- stuff to sustain them. Everybody needs stuff and we're proud to get it to them."

It's also a great feeling to know the squadron's efforts are directly affecting the airlift community, putting more bundles on the ground and less aircraft in harm's way, Colonel Snodgrass said.

"The main thing the C-17 is bringing to the fight is mass on the drop zone," he said. "We can drop 40 bundles in one pass. In that one pass we're doing what two-to-three C-130s would take. So by doing it with one C-17, we're minimizing the threat to both the airplanes and the crews."

Although the members of the 816th EAS call Operation Everest a success, they said they're hoping the real success will come in future squadrons continuing the work of efficiently putting more equipment and supplies on the ground.

"We're hoping the squadron that follows us at the end of this month, we're going to leave them all of the plans we've come up with, and they're going to take those, and come up with better things," Colonel Snodgrass said. "The goal is to keep doing more with less and to keep giving the warfighter what he needs."

Colonel Ritter said the work of the 816th EAS is the product of contributions from not only the members of his squadron, but also the mission partners, who have given unwavering support.

"I've really enjoyed watching this team work -- setting a goal, setting the bar high and watching them achieve it," Colonel Ritter said. "I'm really proud with how this squadron has interacted with our mission partners here at the 379th (AEW), with the Army mission partners and with all our downrange folks all throughout the AOR. They came in from day one to do the job right and to help everyone do great things. It just goes to show the great things you can achieve when you build a cohesive, tight, professional team."

McConnell Airman helps save 8-year-old's life

by Airman 1st Class Armando A. Schwier-Morales
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/19/2010 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) -- A McConnell Air Force Base Airman saved an 8-year-old girl from drowning recently while on a canoeing trip with his church at the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

After spending the day navigating the river, Senior Airman Robert Fischer, a 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment operator, and his group grounded their canoes on the river's banks near a bridge. Like many of the group Airmen Fischer went for a swim. While submerged, he heard Alexi Gardner's panicked screams, coming from shore.

"I popped my head up," Airman Fischer said. "I couldn't make out the sounds, but I looked over and saw Alexi struggling in panic next to the pillars of the bridge."

The river's current swept Alexi away from the shallows to the pillars of the bridge where the river gets much deeper. At the pillars, she began to panic and struggled to stay afloat.

"I was almost walking on water trying to run to her, it was too shallow to swim in the two feet of water with sandals, making it harder," he said. "Then I swam to her and was able to get her to where she could touch again."

Airman Fischer described the events humbly; however, his actions had a great impact.

"I am very grateful for what he did," said Stephanie Burton, Alexi's mother. "It was like 'Bam!' and he was next to her in no time, and for him to do that without hesitation is so wonderful."

After the rescue, Airman Fischer did not discuss it; his leadership did not know about his heroics. However, following a letter from the trip coordinator his commander and the 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander recognized Airman Fischer for his life-saving actions.

"Airman Fischer is a modest, but hard-working young man," said Maj. Paul Silas, the 22nd Civil Engineering Squadron commander. "He puts in more than 10 hours a day routinely with the other heavy equipment operators and never complains. The base benefits from his presence by the immense quantity of airfield, grounds and road work he and the heavy equipment shop do, but the community benefits as well, since he volunteers his free time in community service with his church."

To help Airmen stay prepared for nearly any contingency, Air Force officials offer a variety of courses, both in the field and computer based. He said his training helped prepare him for the rescue.

"I would say my training did help because when your adrenaline gets going you have to stay focused and my training helped me stay focused and accomplish the task without becoming a victim myself," he said.

He hopes to return to the river next year, hopefully without needing to battle the elements to rescue someone else, but if it calls "I am a ready Airman," he said.

Volunteer mentors support families of fallen

by Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

8/19/2010 - WASHINGTON -- The day Scott Warner saw Marines standing at his front door, his world came to a crashing halt.

The servicemembers told Mr. Warner that his son, Marine Pvt. Heath Warner, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq's Anbar province.

Mr. Warner and his family, including his two younger sons, tried to come to terms with the tremendous loss while also attempting to navigate a huge and vastly unfamiliar military system.

"We were thrust into this military world that we didn't know how to interact with and didn't know how to connect with," he said. "At the same time, we had to deal with the death of our son."

Mr. Warner eventually found the support he needed through the military and volunteers in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping families of the military fallen. And nearly four years later, he's now dedicated himself to ensuring other families don't experience that same sense of overwhelming confusion after such a profound loss.

Mr. Warner is a volunteer with the TAPS Peer Mentor Program, a peer-to-peer program for people who have lost military loved ones. The program pairs survivors who are further along in their journey of recovery with those who are experiencing a more recent loss.

"It's someone saying, 'My story is quieter now, and I want to help others along with the process,'" said Debbie Dey, the mentor program manager.

Mentors offer everything from a shoulder to cry on to connections to helping resources, Ms. Dey explained. Mentors aren't counselors or advisors, she added, they're new friends who will commit to being there for others.

Mentors ideally are paired with survivors within 48 hours of their request for a mentor, Ms. Dey said, and the goal is to match people based on relationship first, followed by circumstances of death and branch of service. So, a mother of a Soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan will be paired, if possible, with another mother whose Soldier son died in similar circumstances, she explained.

The similarities help to create common bonds, Mr. Dey said.

"Survivors are so grateful to have an ear from someone who understands their loss," she added.

In turn, the mentors often gain as much from the relationship as the person being mentored.

"It's very therapeutic on both sides," Ms. Dey said. "And it can offer a stepping stone for both relationships. Their circumstances may be different, their relationship with a loved one may be different, but they're offering each other hope for the future."

Meagan Staats said she has found healing by serving as a peer mentor. But just four years earlier, she never imagined being able to undertake the task. On Dec. 16, 2006, two soldiers came to her home to notify her of her husband's death. Her husband, Army Staff Sgt. David Staats, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. The devastation was immediate and life-altering, she said.

"My stomach still hurts when I see soldiers in Class A's," she said, referring to the dress uniforms the notification team members were wearing.

Mrs. Staats sat with the soldiers for several hours, showing them pictures and sharing stories about her husband. But her thoughts were on her daughter, whom she had dropped off at a birthday party a few hours earlier, and how she was going to tell the 7-year-old that her father was now dead.

When her daughter arrived home, Mrs. Staats said, she didn't sugarcoat the news; she told her daughter that her father had died in Iraq. Her daughter went into her room and screamed into a pillow. "I felt so hopeless," she said. "It was traumatic."

Mrs. Staats avoided counseling, and she and her daughter struggled with the weight of the loss. Having heard about TAPS, she and her daughter went to their first TAPS regional meeting eight months out from their loss, marking "the start of our healing," she said.

Two years later, she was asked to become a mentor. After extensive online and in-person training, she was assigned to be a mentor for a woman in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I was scared to take that on, because I felt responsible and didn't know if I could help her," she said. "I weighed the decision for a few days."

Mrs. Staats decided to make the call and "just listened and listened," she said. "Hopefully, that was helpful for her."

She since has mentored nearly a dozen other widows through TAPS. She's now mentoring two women, one of whom she has never met. But they exchange text messages and e-mails frequently, she said.

Mrs. Staats has benefited so much from her volunteer work she refers to it as self-serving.

"We really help each other on our journey," she said. "It's healing to me to feel like I'm serving a purpose."

Mr. Warner describes being a mentor as "paying it forward."

"The only people who can understand and really help other people are the people who have walked in the steps that they're walking," he said.

But like Mrs. Staats, Mr. Warner has had his moments of self-doubt. He recently was called on to mentor a father from California whose son had died while home on leave from a deployment. The servicemember died in his father's arms. The father took a leave of absence from work, but due to a procedural glitch, he was terminated from his job. The family dipped into most of their financial assets and was heading toward foreclosure.

"It was the worst-case scenario in trying to provide some type of encouragement," Mr. Warner said. "Not only did they lose their son and their life turned upside-down, their whole life was coming unglued. It was really hard."

Mr. Warner talked the family into attending a TAPS national conference, where he and other TAPS members offered as much emotional support as they could. This was a tough situation, Mr. Warner noted, but still rewarding to him to help.

"Being a peer mentor has been a very positive thing," he said. "Having relationships with people who don't judge, who offer encouragement, those are positive things. There's no wrong way to grieve. It's the journey you're on. You have to walk it."

Mentor relationships can become lasting ones, Ms. Dey noted. She's heard of families staying in close contact or taking vacations together. But whether they stay in touch for a month or for years, "the bond is very genuine," she said. "It's a beautiful and unique relationship."

Mrs. Staats said she's just grateful for the opportunity to help others, and herself along the way.

"The loss is profound, but what we've gained is immeasurable," she said. "I've never known friendships like this."

U.S. Adds $60 Million for Pakistan Flood Relief

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2010 - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today pledged an additional $60 million in U.S. funding to help Pakistan battle record floods.

"With a new pledge that I am making today of $60 million, the United States will be contributing more than $150 million toward emergency flood relief" efforts in Pakistan, Clinton told the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.

Pakistan was stricken by massive flooding more than two weeks ago. On Aug. 11, the United Nations asked the world community to share in a $459 million emergency flood relief plan for Pakistan.

At that time the United States made an initial pledge of about $92 million for the U.N. flood relief plan for Pakistan, Clinton said.

"These funds are being used to provide critical supplies and support operations of the Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority and other organizations inside Pakistan," she said. "The United States is providing technical assistance and mobilizing military and civilian resources as well."

Clinton also called on the American public and corporations to support Pakistan flood relief efforts.

"Beyond our immediate response, the United States is committed to the long-term goal of working with Pakistan to improve conditions in the country," Clinton said. "We demonstrated that commitment with a multi-year $7.5 billion nonmilitary assistance package authorized by the Congress and agreed to by the president.

"We will now take some of those funds that were directed to initiatives that I announced just last month in Islamabad to support Pakistan in its reconstruction efforts," she added.

Open House this weekend at Volk Field

Date: August 19, 2010

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center will host a fly-in and open house Saturday (Aug. 21) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event includes a pancake breakfast, flying demonstrations and displays of military aircraft and equipment. The Wisconsin Air National Guard Museum will also be open during the open house. The state Department of Transportation's Bureau of Avionics will host seminars on maintenance, instrument flight rules and visual flight rules. There is no admission or parking fees for this event.

Visitors are welcome to either fly or drive in, although pilots interested in flying in for the day must pre-register at (800) 972-8673. UHF/VHF radios are also required to fly in.

Volk Field is located just off Interstate 90-94 (Exit 55) and state Highway 16 near Camp Douglas, Wis. For more information, call (608) 427-1899.

Volk Field to host inaugural NATO exercise


Date: August 19, 2010

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center and nearby training facilities will host the first international exercise in the U.S. to train NATO forward air controllers. The exercise, named Ramstein Rover 2010, begins Aug. 21 and concludes Sept. 3.

Ramstein Rover 2010 provides an advanced training opportunity for NATO members to build and standardize close air support, forward air controller and joint terminal attack controller capabilities. Participants include approximately 40 NATO members from Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Fifteen forward air controller instructors will also take part in the exercise.

Volk Field was selected to host Ramstein Rover 2010 for its ability to provide realistic training scenarios. The training is meant to ensure effective use of airpower in support of forces while mitigating risks to civilians and their property. This exercise will also prepare NATO forward air controllers and joint terminal attack controllers for deployment to NATO's International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan.

"With NATO's 'train as you operate' approach, we ensure best training and exercise opportunities during Ramstein Rover 2010 for air-land integration elements and facilities in theater-realistic scenarios," said U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Redanz, exercise director. Redanz leads the Headquarters Air Controller Ramstein ISAF Branch overseeing the forward air controller capability branch.

The Wisconsin National Guard will also support the exercise's nine fly days with F-16, B-1 and A-10 aircraft as well as KC-135 tanker aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and rotary-wing assets to portray the air dimension.

Training objectives include, but are not limited to: control of fighter aircraft in close air support missions, develop and maintain forward air controller skills, introduce and practice convoy procedures using spot maps and aerial photographs, and observe the effects of live ordnance.

Green Bay Sailors Complete Jerabek Challenge Memorial Run at Sea

By Ensign Nora A. Hill, USS Green Bay Public Affairs

USS GREEN BAY, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the fourth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) hosted a run Aug. 14 in conjunction with an annual event in Wisconsin designed to commemorate a fallen Marine.

The Jerabek Challenge Memorial Run, hosted annually in Hobart, Wis., the hometown of Pvt. 1st Class Ryan Jerabek who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, April 6, 2004, is a yearly four-mile run.

As part of Green Bay's ties to the state of Wisconsin, Jerabek is one of several fallen heroes from the state honored in the ship's main passageway, nicknamed the "Hall of Heroes."

Green Bay Sailors have done a yearly companion run to the Jerabek Challenge, originally scheduled for the ship's in-port San Diego period. Due to operational commitments, the run was rescheduled for Green Bay's in-port period in Seattle, Wash., but was subsequently cancelled.

Sailors and Marines ran laps on Green Bay's flight deck, completing 36 laps and matching the four-mile distance runners in Wisconsin completed the morning of Aug. 14.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Rudy Contreras, who was part of of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, the same battalion to which Jerabek was assigned at the time of his death, said the run had a special meaning.

"For someone that was actually there and endured a lot of the same hardships, it means a lot when people show recognition for your sacrifice, and prove that you are truly not forgotten," he said.

TAPS Mentors Support Families of Fallen

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 19, 2010 - The day Scott Warner saw Marines standing at his front door, his world came to a crashing halt.

The servicemembers told Warner that his son, Marine Pvt. Heath Warner, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq's Anbar province.

Warner and his family, including his two younger sons, tried to come to terms with the tremendous loss while also attempting to navigate a huge and vastly unfamiliar military system.

"We were thrust into this military world that we didn't know how to interact with and didn't know how to connect with," Warner said. "At the same time, we had to deal with the death of our son."

Warner eventually found the support he needed through the military and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping families of the military fallen. And nearly four years later, he's now dedicated himself to ensuring other families don't experience that same sense of overwhelming confusion after such a profound loss.

Warner is a volunteer with the TAPS Peer Mentor Program, a peer-to-peer program for people who have lost military loved ones. The program pairs survivors who are further along in their journey of recovery with those who are experiencing a more recent loss.

"It's someone saying, 'My story is quieter now, and I want to help others along with the process,'" Debbie Dey, the mentor program manager, said.

Mentors offer everything from a shoulder to cry on to connections to helping resources, Dey explained. Mentors aren't counselors or advisors, she added -- they're new friends who will commit to being there for others.

Mentors ideally are paired with survivors within 48 hours of their request for a mentor, Dey said, and the goal is to match people based on relationship first, followed by circumstances of death and branch of service. So, a mother of a soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan will be paired, if possible, with another mother whose soldier son died in similar circumstances, she explained.

The similarities help to create common bonds, Dey said. "Survivors are so grateful to have an ear from someone who understands their loss," she added.

In turn, the mentors often gain as much from the relationship as the person being mentored. "It's very therapeutic on both sides," Dey said. "And it can offer a stepping stone for both relationships. Their circumstances may be different, their relationship with a loved one may be different, but they're offering each other hope for the future."

Meagan Staats said she has found healing by serving as a peer mentor. But just four years earlier, she never imagined being able to undertake the task. On Dec. 16, 2006, two soldiers came to her home to notify her of her husband's death. Her husband, Army Staff Sgt. David Staats, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. The devastation was immediate and life-altering, she said.

"My stomach still hurts when I see soldiers in Class A's," she said, referring to the dress uniforms the notification team members were wearing.

Staats sat with the soldiers for several hours, showing them pictures and sharing stories about her husband. But her thoughts were on her daughter, whom she had dropped off at a birthday party a few hours earlier, and how she was going to tell the 7-year-old that her father was now dead.

When her daughter arrived home, Staats said, she didn't sugarcoat the news; she told her daughter that her father had died in Iraq. Her daughter went into her room and screamed into a pillow. "I felt so hopeless," she said. "It was traumatic."

Staats avoided counseling, and she and her daughter struggled with the weight of the loss. Having heard about TAPS, Staats and her daughter went to their first TAPS regional meeting eight months out from their loss, marking "the start of our healing," she said.

Two years later, Staats was asked to become a mentor. After extensive online and in-person training, she was assigned to be a mentor for a woman in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I was scared to take that on, because I felt responsible and didn't know if I could help her," she said. "I weighed the decision for a few days."

Staats decided to make the call and "just listened and listened," she said. "Hopefully, that was helpful for her."

She since has mentored nearly a dozen other widows through TAPS. She's now mentoring two women, one of whom she has never met. But they exchange text messages and e-mails frequently, she said.

Staats has benefited so much from her volunteer work she refers to it as self-serving. "We really help each other on our journey," she said. "It's healing to me to feel like I'm serving a purpose."

Warner describes being a mentor as "paying it forward."

"The only people that can understand and really help other people are the people who have walked in the steps that they're walking," he said.

But like Staats, Warner has had his moments of self-doubt. He recently was called on to mentor a father from California whose son had died while home on leave from a deployment. The servicemember died in his father's arms. The father took a leave of absence from work, but due to a procedural glitch, he was terminated from his job. The family dipped into most of their financial assets and was heading toward foreclosure.

"It was the worst-case scenario in trying to provide some type of encouragement," Warner said. "Not only did they lose their son and their life turned upside-down, their whole life was coming unglued. It was really hard."

Warner talked the family into attending a TAPS national conference, where he and other TAPS members offered as much emotional support as they could. This was a tough situation, Warner noted, but still rewarding to him to help.

"Being a peer mentor has been a very positive thing," he said. "Having relationships with people who don't judge, who offer encouragement, those are positive things. There's no wrong way to grieve. It's the journey you're on. You have to walk it."

Mentor relationships can become lasting ones, Dey noted. She's heard of families staying in close contact or taking vacations together. But whether they stay in touch for a month or for years, "the bond is very genuine," she said. "It's a beautiful and unique relationship."

Staats said she's just grateful for the opportunity to help others, and herself along the way.

"The loss is profound, but what we've gained is immeasurable," she said. "I've never known friendships like this."