Monday, August 23, 2010

Deployed aircrew brings relief to flood-torn Pakistan

by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
U.S. Air Forces Central Combat Camera Team

8/23/2010 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- As Air Force operations in support of flood relief operations in Pakistan resumed, aircrew and support personnel from the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia prepared to forward deploy to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to ease the workload of the local airlift squadron already engaged with supporting missions in Afghanistan.

"Once the floods happened, we were tasked ... to come up and provide additional support to the airlift squadron here at Bagram to help with the relief effort in Pakistan," said Master Sgt. John Metcalf, an Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules loadmaster deployed to the 746th EAS. "We brought a small contingency of crews and support personnel and two aircraft to help the (774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron) here so they could continue their mission in Afghanistan and we could help out in Pakistan."

Not long after their arrival in Bagram, the crew began operations from Bagram to the Pakistan Air Force's Central Flood Relief Cell at Chaklala Air Force Base, Pakistan, near the capital city of Islamabad. From there, the C-130 was loaded with relief supplies and sent on its way to various locations affected by the flooding.

The 746th AES crew, an Air Force Reserve unit deployed from the 357th Airlift Squadron out of Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., quickly shifted mindset from missions in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom to humanitarian aid and relief efforts. Being prepared to conduct operations in such an environment, however, doesn't come synonymously with being prepared to see such ruin.

The floods have affected more than 14 million people, more than one million homes were damaged or destroyed, and there have been more than 1,500 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. An estimated one-fifth of the country is underwater; and the disaster has affected more people than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.

Sergeant Metcalf described his first reaction as being in "complete awe," said the Montgomery, Ala., native. "Just to see the devastation. I've (seen the effects of Hurricane) Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana, and I'm not going to say that it topped that, but it gave me the same feeling; towns and farms and buildings just under water."

Lt. Col. Ken Ostrat, an Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules pilot deployed to the 746th EAS, also recalled being taken back by the amount of water and seeing villages, farms and lives uprooted.

"The first thing I thought was that this was a massively destructive natural event. There had to be thousands of people who were directly impacted, and hundreds of thousands more that were indirectly impacted by something of that scale," said the Prattville, Ala., native, also the director of operations for the 357th AS at Maxwell AFB. "As we left Islamabad, you could tell the rivers were a little bit high. The more we flew down toward Sukkur, which is downriver, you can see out the window the widening of the river as the floodwaters continued to go further past the banks of the normal river channel.

"By the time we got down to Sukkur, there were thousands of acres flooded, virtually the entire area. And you could see that there were farms, date farms, small villages and houses that were completely inundated with the water for miles in every direction," he said.

While this is not the unit's first experience with humanitarian aid missions, there were some unique challenges the crew overcame to safely and efficiently conduct operations supporting flood relief in Pakistan.

Communication, procedures and terrain are among the many changes to adapt to when flying missions into unfamiliar territory as flood relief missions require coordinating with local nationals at the flood relief cell, operating in Pakistan's airspace and flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan's mountainous summits.

The language and communication barrier is one of the major challenges, according to Sergeant Metcalf, a loadmaster with 10 years of experience.

"Anytime you go international, the procedures are slightly different and the terminology is slightly different, so that increases the challenges," said Colonel Ostrat. "You just have to be flexible and respond to their requirements. The biggest challenge is understanding the communication difference. They all speak English,the controllers, however, they all have their own regional dialects and accents, and that sometimes makes it hard."

The crew from the 379th AEW is just one of many elements of support in the worldwide relief effort in Pakistan. The Pakistan-run flood relief center receives and dispatches relief supplies to include food, water and shelter donated by numerous countries.

"It was rewarding to see the international power that is going in to bring relief to those people in Sukkur and all the other downstream regions in Pakistan that were affected," said Colonel Ostrat, describing the various country labels he's seen on relief supply packages to include Korea, China, Russia, Australia and many others.

Being a part of such a huge conglomeration of nations racing to aid a fellow country in need can be a rewarding experience. Sergeant Metcalf expressed satisfaction with the work C-130 crews are doing to relieve some of the hardship on people in flooded regions by providing life-sustaining provisions.

"Unfortunately, when we go into these places we're on a tight timeline. We've got to get in there and get out. We drop off the supplies, and we go to our next destination to pick up supplies and deliver them to all the locations," said Sergeant Metcalf. "We don't really get to see the fruits of our labor, but we know (we're doing a good thing), and that's all that matters to us."

Veterans encouraged to submit claims for retroactive stop loss

8/23/2010 - SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- In working closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff on a congressional action involving veterans submitting claims for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay, major command and wing level officials are working to inform veterans who were affected by stop loss.

Eligible Airmen include those who served on active duty while their enlistment or period of obligated service was involuntarily extended, or whose eligibility for separation or retirement was suspended during Operation Enduring Freedom from Oct. 2, 2001, through Jan. 31, 2003, and Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2 through Dec. 31, 2003.

"This is a mandatory final push to ensure we inform our Airmen and veterans about the retroactive stop loss claim," Air Force officials said. "It is understood that some bases may have already been complying with this, but there are still many veterans that have not submitted their claims to date."

The deadline for veterans to submit claims for RSLSP is October 21. Visit to get claims forms and instructions on how to file.

Alaska, Washington Guardsmen experience Mongolian culture

By Pfc. Karina Paraoan
Alaska National Guard

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia - Soldiers with the Alaska and Washington National Guard had the opportunity to explore this city and dive into the history and culture of Mongolia during a Morale, Welfare and Recreation Day Aug. 15.

The day began with an hour-long ride to the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex, where the Soldiers saw the world's largest equestrian statue of Chinggis Khaan, also known as Ghengis Khan. The statue is 40 meters high and built on a 10-meter high base, covered by stainless steel and surrounded by 36 columns.

Inside the statue complex, the Guardsmen had the chance to visit the Museum of the Bronze Age and Xiongnu Empire. The museum featured ancient arrowheads, cauldrons, weapons and other tools used during the Bronze Age.

"I think it is an amazing opportunity for our National Guardsmen to not only be able to work with the Mongolian Armed Forces during Khaan Quest 2010, but to also have a day where they can explore the city of Ulaanbaatar and learn more about Mongolia's history and culture," said Capt. Jared Wandell, Alaska National Guard Counterdrug Support Program at Camp Denali in Fort Richardson, Alaska.

After visiting the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex, many of the Soldiers had a chance to ride on a camel for the very first time.

"It was a different, but a very enjoyable experience," said 1st Lt. Noah Wisecarver of the Alaska Army National Guard. "Many people can say that they have been horseback riding but not camelback riding."

The Soldiers also had the rest of the day to spend walking around the city of Ulaanbaatar where they ate Mongolian treats and shopped in tourist stores.

"This is my first time going to Mongolia and I would definitely love to come back," said Spc. David Carnahan of the Washington National Guard. "I had the chance to interact with local Mongolian people and see their way of life which was a lot of fun."

The Alaska and Washington National Guardsmen are currently in Mongolia as part of Khaan Quest 2010. The exercise and related events cultivate readiness and interoperability of participating military forces, while developing interpersonal relations. Mongolian, U.S. forces and multinational observers are here to conduct a command post exercise, a humanitarian and civic assistance project and a medical readiness training exercise.

Alaska and Mongolia also participate in the State Partnership Program together.

Submariners Give Rare Glimpse Into 'Silent Service'

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 23, 2010 - On a recent sun-soaked morning hundreds of miles off Florida's Atlantic coast, this Trident ballistic missile submarine surfaced for an unusual operation. About a dozen journalists, many representing the military, watched from a contracted 250-foot support vessel as the sleek, black back of the submarine ascended above gentle waters in the open ocean and maneuvered alongside the boat. With just a few feet separating the two vessels and a Coast Guard cutter on watch, the support boat's crew extended a catwalk bridge from its deck over to the Rhode Island.

A pod of dolphins played in the wake below as the journalists hobbled quickly over to the submarine. "Keep moving! Keep moving!" a submariner shouted, as a slowdown easily could lead to a foot or leg getting caught and injured, or causing a "man overboard" situation.

After exchanging quick greetings with the attending crew, the journalists climbed in turn through the hatch and down the steep, narrow ladder into the belly of the sub.

The Aug. 16 media visit offered a rare glimpse into what is known as "the silent service," the community of Navy submariners who man and control the vessels that carry weapons under the sea. Journalists were invited to embed on the Trident after a military-commissioned survey showed that Americans know less about the Navy than the other services, and even less about submarines and those who serve on them, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, public affairs officer for Submarine Group 10 at King's Bay Naval Base, Ga., said.

The visit also coincided with increasing media attention on the submarine community following two major changes in Navy policy earlier this year: lifting the ban on women serving on submarines, and ending smoking on subs. The Navy chose 21 women early this summer to begin the 15-month training to serve on subs beginning in the fall of 2011. The smoking ban takes effect Jan. 1.

The Nuclear Triad

The Rhode Island is an Ohio-class submarine, the largest model in the U.S. fleet. At about 560 feet long and 42 feet in diameter, Ohio-class submarines hold 24 Trident ballistic missile tubes and four torpedo tubes. The Navy's fleet of 14 SSBNs is based at King's Bay and at Bangor, Wash.

The Trident subs, known as "boomers," are powered by a single-shaft nuclear reactor. They can carry more than 16 tons, travel more than 20 knots -- more than 23 miles per hour -- and submerge more than 800 feet, according to Navy officials who keep their exact capabilities secret.

Part of the nuclear deterrent triad along with land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and Air Force bombers, the Tridents' sole mission is to deter a nuclear attack through its ultimate strike capabilities. A command from the president, passed through U.S. Strategic Command and ultimately to the ship's captain, allows the crew to fire a long-range ballistic missile in a matter of minutes.

The Trident is a three-stage missile powered by solid rocket motors. It's about 44 feet long and 7 feet in diameter, and weighs about 120,000 pounds, according to information provided by public affairs officials. Each has a range of more than 4,000 miles.

Touring the Boomer

The boomer's design of massive missile tubes occupying the bulk of the midsection and extending vertically through four levels is the focal point of the vessel and a reminder of the singular mission of deterrence. The space between the tanks makes up the hallways. Small rooms, such as the nine-person enlisted berthing cabins -- three sets of bunks with three beds each -- and a couple of bathrooms, known as "heads," are tucked in between.

The galley and crew's mess are nearby on the same level and they present a nearly constant hub of activity. The Navy is known for providing good meals, and if the Rhode Island is an indication, submarines are among the best. The boat's head chef, Petty Officer 1st Class Daniell Pinero, a former chef for the secretary of defense, and his crew provide three hot meals each day as well as late-evening snacks.

Stocking the galley for a three-month tour is no small undertaking. A lengthy shopping list includes, for example, 530 pounds of coffee, 22,140 eggs, 800 pounds of butter, 504 bags of microwave popcorn and 21,000 biodegradable weights to sink trash in the ocean. Because all food must be purchased and stored before the start of the tours, fresh produce is a scarce commodity enjoyed in the early days of each patrol. Still, there are few complaints. Pizza, spaghetti, turkey and dressing, ham and sweet potatoes, rolls, cakes and pies -– all homemade -– were provided during the media visit.

"I gain 10 pounds every time we go out," Cmdr. Robert J. Clark, commanding officer and captain for one of the Rhode Island's two rotating crews, said.

Exercise equipment is placed sporadically around the ship – cardio machines and free weights – wherever there is a little spare room. But as Clark and others noted, any weight gained on board is lost during shore duty.

A Tight-knit Community

Clark is the commanding officer and captain of the Rhode Island's blue crew, which carried the media representatives during their visit. His executive officer, or second in command, is Lt. Cmdr. Paul Pampuro.

Each Trident sub includes two crews of 15 officers and about 140 enlisted men, known as the blue and gold crews, each with its own commanding officer. Each crew rotates onto submarine duty about every 112 days, while the other crew stays at base for training and preparation for the next time at sea.

A snapshot of the crew is one that is young, smart, and committed to the mission and fellow crewmembers. The average age is 23, and many have engineering, math or science degrees.

Ask submariners what they enjoy most about their work and the answer usually is the camaraderie of a tight-knit community, the highly specialized work, and the importance of the mission.

Lt. Colin Myers is a Naval Academy graduate who serves as the sub's main propulsion assistant, assistant security manager, intelligence officer and ship self-assessment coordinator. He said he enjoys the Rhode Island because of the quality of the crew.

"These are a lot of really smart guys," Myers said. "Some are double majors. It's a volunteer force, so they really want to be here." He added that because the submarine force is small, there are many opportunities and officers advance quickly; some obtain command by their mid-30s.

Serving on a submarine -– mostly submerged for three months with only periscopes to see out -- also can be stressful, tedious and boring, submariners say. The days are long, sleep is minimal, and submariners are surprisingly disconnected. E-mail is sporadic, only coming through every couple of days when an antenna is connected to the sail -- a submarine's exterior tower-like structure -- and attachments are not allowed. There are no phone calls; no text messages. Still, some say they don't mind being disconnected.

"You either love it or hate it," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Calvin Hurt, the torpedo room supervisor.

Reality in Mission Control

Around 9 p.m., some off-duty crew members gather in the mess to wind down with a movie. The chef has made pizza and Buffalo wings, and someone pops in the 1990 movie, "The Hunt for Red October."

"This is a comedy!" a long-time submariner proclaimed as the crew laughed at the creative license Hollywood took in producing the action-packed drama of a Trident submarine executive officer, played by Denzel Washington, who leads a mutiny after the captain, played by Gene Hackman, decides to launch a ballistic missile at a perceived Soviet threat.

In the real world of Trident subs, protocol and procedures rule. In the control room, the sub's nerve center, each area is manned in six-hour shifts with full attention on the equipment. The mission is to keep the boomer undetected, while detecting everything else around it.

In the front of the room, three enlisted men watch location and conditions on monitors while two of them do their part to "drive" the sub with long-handled steering wheels. Behind them, two others man multiple screens that track sonar and acoustics, analyzing sounds from as far away as 75,000 yards. Behind them, an officer always is watching through the periscope, and those images are provided on computer screens. Coordinates are constantly being called out above the sound of the equipment, and the standard response "very well" acknowledges receipt of the information.

Many of the screens are marked "Secret," and all of the crew has security clearances. While each has his own job specialty, all are cross-trained and expected to be able to do multiple jobs, Rolinger said. "Everyone is an expert at damage control," he said, noting the crew practices multiple drills -– from firing torpedoes to putting out fires –- several times per week.

During a missile release test, Clark stands in the center of the control room receiving information from every possible data point, some relayed repeatedly to ensure conditions have not changed. "All missiles will be released," he announces along with the exact time so all clocks are synchronized to the exact second.

"This is the captain. This is an exercise," Clark says over the sub's speaker system.

Down the hall, two crew members man the missile control center, divided between "launcher" and "fire" controls. The U.S. ballistic missile fleet fires four test missiles each year, and has had 124 consecutive successful tests in 20 years, Cmdr. Michael Sowa, deputy chief of staff of strategic weapons for Submarine Group 10, said. The tests also serve as a deterrent, and foreign countries are notified before testing begins, he added.

"The system works well, even better than it was designed to work," Sowa said. The British, French, and Russians also test ballistic missiles, and the Chinese are developing the capabilities, he said.

"The SSBN mission is to deter," Sowa added. "So, if we must launch, we've failed our mission."

Earning Their Dolphins

A more likely scenario than the release of a Trident missile is the release of a torpedo. Back toward the front end of the sub and down the stairs next to the smoking room, two crew members man the torpedo controls, watching red and green lights for the status of torpedoes that lie horizontally on hydraulic lifts. They hold several exercises each week to practice firing torpedoes, and avoiding torpedoes from an enemy.

"Everything we do down here, we get one minute to do it in," Hurt said. A submariner for four years, he said he now loves the job that is very trying for the first two years.

Three sailors earned the title of submariner here on Aug. 16 when they were presented the coveted Dolphin pins, which come only after a new crew member proves within 10 months that he has a basic understanding of everything on the boat. Clark presented the pins during a ceremony in the crew's mess.

"The whole thing is a little overwhelming," Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Iverson, 20, of Freeport, Ill., said after receiving his pin. "With this, you know you've earned the respect of your fellow shipmates."

Petty Officer 1st Class Herwin Marcia, who has served on submarines for 13 years, still remembers the stress of being new on a submarine.

"It's a big culture shock," he said. "You have to catch up to where you can support everyone else. You have to be ready when called on. We don't have time to wait."

Alaska Guardsmen provide medical support at Khaan Quest 2010

By Capt. Amy B. Slinker
Alaska National Guard

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, (8/18/10) - Three Alaska National Guard members are providing medical support for U.S. and Mongolian troops during Khaan Quest 2010, a bilateral peacekeeping operations training exercise here in the Five Hills Training Area Aug. 8-29.

Lt. Col. Rebecca Young, a nurse practitioner from the Alaska Army National Guard Medical Detachment, serves as the Medical Officer for Khaan Quest 2010. She leads a team of two medics; Sgt. Tara Gardner, also a member of the Medical Detachment at Camp Denali, Fort Richardson, Alaska and Sgt. Edward Antonio of the 297th Military Police Company in Juneau, Alaska.

Gardner is assigned to the command post exercise at Five Hills Training Area outside of Ulaanbaatar, while Antonio provides medical support at the humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) project site in the Songinokhairkhan District 22nd Horoo.

Young travels between the two sites, guiding and supervising the medics while also providing a training environment to further develop their skills. The team primarily supports U.S. Soldiers, but has also treated U.S. exercise instructors and support staff, Mongolian Armed Forces service members, and Mongolian civilian support staff. They are working in conjunction with a Mongolian civilian doctor and a psychiatrist from Singapore.

Upon arrival to Mongolia, the team established urgent care protocol and a sick call area at each site. They evaluated each environment and conducted health and welfare checks of U.S. and Mongolian personnel.

"We got an idea of who is here and identified any chronic conditions," said Young. "We watch them [U.S. and Mongolian personnel] in all of their environments - we observe work areas, eat in the same dining hall and sleep in the same quarters so that we continuously assess for any risks."

Antonio is attached to the 797th Engineer Company (Vertical), U.S. Army Reserves, from Barrigada, Guam. U.S. Army and Mongolian Armed Forces engineers, carpentry masons, electricians, plumbers and laborers are constructing a public bath house facility as a humanitarian and civic assistance project.

He works with U.S. and Mongolian leadership on site to ensure that safety briefings are conducted every day and service members continuously watch for safety hazards.

He credits his North American Rescue emergency medical technician kit as one of his biggest assets for treating patients with eye, nose and throat ailments on the construction site. Some of the other cases he has seen include minor lacerations and dehydration.

Antonio expressed that the most fulfilling aspect of his mission has been the opportunity to treat Mongolian Armed Forces soldiers. He conducted a prenatal counseling through a translator, and identified a cataract in a 54-year-old Mongolian soldier's eyes.

"It's an honor to have the Mongolian Armed Forces trust us," said Antonio. "We built a rapport so that if any of their soldiers need attention, they come to us. The experience of treating soldiers from other countries is a unique opportunity."

At Five Hills Training Area, Young and Gardner treated Mongolian Armed Forces 1st Lt. Tuvshinjargal Mangal for an eye infection. Young noted that by providing a conveniently located sick call area, she and Gardner were accessible to provide care.

"I asked for help from the American doctor," said Mangal. "She gave me some eye drops; I used it and now my eyes are getting better."

All three of the Alaska National Guard medical support team members have civilian careers in the medical field.

Young serves three roles as a family nurse practitioner; she has a practice at Valley Medical Care in Juneau, contracts through Juneau Emergency Medical Association to provide care at the emergency room at Bartlett Hospital and flies medical evacuation with Airlift Northwest.

She often crosses paths with Antonio, who is an emergency medical technician in the Bartlett Regional Hospital chemical dependency unit.

Gardner works as a medical assistant for an orthopedic physician in Anchorage.

"It's a little more clinical on my civilian side and here it's a lot more field medicine," said Gardner. "It's always fun to switch back and forth and get the best of both."

Gardner explained that medics are required to hold national certification as emergency medical technicians, which she feels makes Guardsmen more hirable in civilian medical fields.

This week, Gardner will leave Five Hills Training Area to join other Alaska National Guard and Mongolian Armed Forces members to participate in a medical readiness training exercise. They will provide medical and dental care, as well as veterinary services for the Mongolian people living in rural Omnogobi Aimag.

During the exercise, the Guardsmen and Mongolian medical personnel will exchange ideas and techniques while gaining experience with providing care in remote and austere environments.

Besides the command post exercise, humanitarian and civic assistance project and medical readiness training exercise, a Senior Leadership Conference will also be held this week concurrent with Khaan Quest 2010.

In addition to U.S. and Mongolian military units, observers from other countries in the Pacific region are involved in the events. Exercise Khaan Quest and related events cultivate readiness and interoperability of participating military forces while developing interpersonal relations.

Alaska and Mongolia also participate in the National Guard's State Partnership Program together.

Mattis to Assess U.S. Aid to Pakistan

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

Aug. 23, 2010 - Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis is scheduled to make his first trip to Pakistan today as commander of U.S. Central Command to assess U.S. flood relief efforts there.

According to a statement released by Centcom officials today, Mattis will consult with Pakistani leaders and visit flood regions. He will "express his sympathy for those affected by the massive flooding in recent weeks," the statement said.

U.S. military relief workers have rescued nearly 6,500 flood victims in northwestern Pakistan this month, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today. U.S. forces have been conducting relief efforts in the Swat Valley and Peshawar regions of Pakistan since Aug. 5 at the request of the Pakistani government. Relief includes 19 U.S. military helicopters and four cargo planes. About 400 U.S. troops are on the ground there.

More than 1.4 million pounds of food and relief supplies have been delivered, Whitman said.

As of today, Pakistan authorities have not made additional requests for support, he added, but he noted that there are "plenty of relief supplies to be distributed, and that's what we're going to do."

Mattis also is expected to discuss other means by which the U.S. can support Pakistan's recovery, as well as update Pakistani officials on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and other regional issues.

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Feedback Sought From Spouses

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

Aug. 23, 2010 - Pentagon officials today mailed out 150,000 new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" surveys, this time seeking input from military spouses about the potential repeal of the law that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly, officials said.

"We understand the inextricable link between the families, servicemembers and readiness, and this survey is a way to try to better understand that," Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe commander, said in a recent Pentagon Channel interview.

Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, were appointed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to head a special review panel that's studying the possible implications on the military should Congress decide to repeal the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.

"What we're trying to gauge is an assessment that if this law is repealed, and this 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy is changed, what will that mean to our families?" Ham said. "By better understanding the impacts of possible repeal, we'll be able to craft policies, procedures, education and training to address those issues."

The group has been meeting with troops and family members since February. The surveys are important to the panel's research, Ham added, because time and financial constraints preclude meeting with every servicemember and spouse.

The surveys give the panel a baseline of information that best represents the military's 2.2 million servicemembers and their families, the general said. Last month, 400,000 surveys were e-mailed to active duty and reserve-component troops throughout the force. The deadline for their response was Aug. 15.

The spouse survey is somewhat different from the one taken by the servicemembers, Ham said, noting the spouse survey is not as lengthy or comprehensive, and it "zeroes in" on family readiness.

Also, he added, the spouse survey is a hard-copy form, rather than the digital e-mail form troops received. It should take spouses about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, he said.

"We know there's a very real connection between family readiness and military readiness," Ham said. "We want to make sure we understand what that dynamic might be if the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy were to change."

The spouse survey responses, like those of the servicemembers' survey, are confidential, the general said.

Ham emphasized that the surveys and responses for both groups can't be traced. The company managing the survey distribution and results-gathering is not a Defense Department organization and "does not have access to personally identifiable information to military members," he explained.

Feedback from military spouses is an important aspect in the review, Ham said. The panel wants to know if spouses will be less likely to support their servicemember continuing his service if the law changes, Ham said.

"We know for our married servicemembers, the most important influence on whether or not that servicemember decides to continue his service is his spouse," he said. "So we need to know what the effects would be if the law was changed."

The spouse surveys were mailed to 80,000 reserve-component and 70,000 active duty spouses. The spouses will have a little more than 30 days to complete and return their surveys, Ham said.

For spouses who weren't selected, but want to offer their opinion on the potential impact of repeal, Ham suggested using the online inbox at The site is not confidential and requires a military common access card to log on. The online inbox will be available until Aug. 30. This tool will allow anyone who didn't receive the survey to offer feedback and remain anonymous.

"We know that for our married servicemembers, their spouses' views, the spouses' satisfaction with the quality of service and the family readiness directly attributes to military readiness," the general said. "Secretary Gates was focused at the very start to make sure that we understood what impact a possible repeal would mean to our family members."

U.S. Continues Flood Relief Aid for Pakistan

American Forces Press Service

Aug. 23, 2010 - U.S. military and other government and nongovernment organizations continue to assist Pakistani citizens battling the effects of massive floods that began July 29.

To date, according to a fact sheet issued today by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, the United States is providing about $150 million to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan, including funding for the operations of the Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority, the U.N.'s emergency relief plan, and the many local and international organizations responding to this disaster.

These funds are being used to provide critical supplies to Pakistani citizens impacted by the flood. The United States also is providing millions of dollars of additional in-kind and technical assistance.

U.S.-provided aid to Pakistan also includes the expansion of pre-existing programs in flood-affected areas, providing temporary bridges, and mobilizing significant U.S. military and civilian resources to rescue victims of the disaster and deliver needed supplies.

U.S. military and civilian aircraft continue to support flood relief operations. Through Aug. 22, these aircraft have evacuated 7,835 people and delivered more than 1.6 million pounds of relief supplies.

In other recent developments:

-- On Aug. 22, U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft, based from Afghanistan, delivered 79,000 pounds of food and relief supplies yesterday from Rawalpindi to Sukkur and Multan.

-- The World Food Program has reached more than 1.3 million flood-affected beneficiaries with almost 16,000 metric tons of food assistance, about 50 percent of which is provided by the United States.

-- The U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Food for Peace has provided the World Food Program with an additional $32.3 million for local and regional procurement of food, bringing the U.S. total contribution to WFP to more than $51 million.

-- Since Aug. 8, U.S. water treatment units have provided approximately 4.8 million liters of safe drinking water to Pakistani citizens.

WWII Veteran Reflects During Boise Navy Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cheryl Dilgard, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

BOISE, Idaho (NNS) -- The special assistant for Integrated Undersea Warfare, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command visited with residents at Spring Creek Assisted Living Center in Boise, Idaho as part of Boise Navy Week Aug. 21.

The residents hosted a luncheon for Rear Adm. Douglas Asbjornsen and other area Sailors visiting the center. Asbjornsen spoke directly to the veterans in the crowd and asked them to share their experiences.

"It is important for them to share their stories, and it is important for us to hear them," Asbjornsen said.

"I was a major in the Army, and did recruiting for Army nurses out of Georgia," said Marjorie Parks, an 89-year-old veteran. "I also worked at a small fort hospital [in Georgia] that isn't there anymore. When the soldiers would get injured overseas they would send them there, and I would contact their families. I did mostly hospital administration in those days."

Parks enlisted in the Army Sept. 8, 1939, shortly after the Nazi invasion of Poland. She served through the entire war and was released from service with an honorable discharge Aug. 31, 1946. She said her enlistment was spent stateside. Her last assignment was at a post in Tampa, Fla.

"I met my husband in Tampa, but in those days you couldn't be a woman in the Army and be married," said Parks. "We had to wait until I got out."

During the visit, Parks shared photographs of her in uniform and her original separation papers she had framed.

"I don't have many opportunities to talk about my days in the Army," said Parks. "That was really a good time in my life."



Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Sudbury, Mass., is being awarded a $46,873,788 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5111) for the definitization of the production of an AN/SPY-1D(V) transmitter group, MK 99 Mod 8 fire control system and engineering services in support of the DDG 113 Aegis weapons systems ship set. Work will be performed in Andover, Mass. (88 percent), and Sudbury, Mass. (12 percent), and is expected to be completed by February 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

JLG Industries, Inc., McConnellsburg, Pa., is being awarded a $40,373,200 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to purchase up to 280 extendable boom fork lifts and associated training. Delivery Order 0001 will be executed in the amount of $23,214,590. Work will be performed in McConnelsburg, Pa., and is expected to be completed by August 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

DTI Associates, Inc., a Kratos Co., Arlington, Va., was awarded an $11,088,758 cost-plus-fixed-fee level-of-effort contract on Aug. 20 for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) requirement for continuing and uninterrupted engineering support performed in support of NSWCDD Engagement Systems Department programs and activities. This contract will be used to provide engineering support for critical and high priority programs such as Precision Strike Package; Littoral Combat Ship; Electromagnetic Railgun Launcher; GunPACS; and Strategic Border Initiative. Work will be performed in Dahlgren, Va., and is expected to be completed by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $213,176 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity (N00178-10-C-1056).

W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co., Biloxi, Miss., is being awarded $10,037,000 for firm-fixed price task order #0004 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for the construction of a Navy Lodge addition at Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss. The work provides for the construction of a two-story, 50-room wing to the existing Navy Lodge; a new entryway and lobby; and pathways, landscaping, tot lot, outdoor patios, and additional parking. The project includes all site work, utilities, and fire protection. This facility shall be constructed in accordance with current anti-terrorism/force protection standards. Work will be performed in Gulfport, Miss., and is expected to be completed by March 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Five proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N62467-05-D-0183).

Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $9,218,711 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract under previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00024-10-G-4314) to support submarine repair work at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on SSN 688-class submarines during on-going availabilities. This contract is for skilled tradesmen support to three Chief of Naval Operations submarine maintenance availabilities. Ships scheduled to undergo repairs include USS Key West (SSN 722); USS Columbus (SSN 762); and USS Chicago (SSN 721). The work will be performed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is scheduled to be completed in February 2011. This contract was not competitively procured. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair, Groton, Conn., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded an $8,491,829 cost-plus-incentive-fee deliver order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for non-recurring engineering associated with the integration of a synthetic radar virtual mission training system (VMTS) into T-45C aircraft. Efforts to be provided include design, integration, test, validation and verification of two flight-worthy VMTS retrofit kits. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo. (57 percent), and Israel (43 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2012. 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.


DTS Aviation Services, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $42,265,329 contract modification which will provide maintenance of T-38C, T-6 and T1A aircraft at Columbus Air Force Base. At this time, no funds have been obligated. 14 CONS/LGC, Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., is the contracting activity (FA3002-05-C-0016).

Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded a $19,393,764 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. AFRL/PKDA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-10-C-7023).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Herndon, Va., was awarded an $8,432,204 contract which will provide vulnerability and survivability analysis for Special Operations Command Pacific combat readiness and mission assurance. At this time, $4,070,376 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1380; Delivery Order 366).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $6,480,392 contract which will provide advanced deployment kits in support of Foreign Military Sales customer Saudi Arabia. At this time, $3,175,392 has been obligated. WR-ALC/448 ACMG/PKHCB, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8522-10-C-0005).


Burlington Apparel Fabrics, Greensboro, N.C., is being awarded a maximum $37,471,200 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, total set-aside contract for cloth. Other locations of performance are Raeford, N.C., Rockingham, N.C., and Hurt, Va. Using service is the Army. There was one response to the original proposal solicited. The date of performance completion is Aug. 27, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM1C1-09-D-0045).

Defense Contract Services, Inc.*, Leander, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $6,537,254 firm-fixed-price, total set-aside contract to provide fuel management services. Other location of performance is Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Using service is Air Force. There were 16 responses to the original proposal solicited. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2013. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-C-5044).

O.E.S., Inc.*, Wainwright, Alaska, is being awarded a maximum $6,822,376 fixed-price, incentive firm target contract to provide material distribution services. Other location of performance is San Diego, Calif. Using service is Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution. There were five responses to the original proposal solicited. The date of performance completion is Aug. 31, 2015. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, New Cumberland, Pa. (SP3300-10-C-0037).

Rhode Island Guards hosts Operation Purple camp this week

Story courtesy of the Rhode Island National Guard

CRANSTON, R.I., (8/20/10) - The Rhode Island National Guard Child and Youth Program, has been selected to host an Operation Purple® camp at YMCA Camp Fuller in Wakefield, Rhode Island Aug. 22–28.

As a leading supporter of military children and youth, the RI National Guard Child and Youth program has all the qualities it takes to provide a memorable and life changing experience to our young campers.

“The goal of Operation Purple summer camps is to let these young heroes know that “Kids Serve Too!” Military children who attend camp will have the opportunity to learn the skills to cope with the stress of a deployment and make friends with other kids who are also missing their mom or dad,” said Mary Scott, the National Military Family Association’s Chairman of the Board. “The association is excited to work with the RI National Guard Child and Youth Program on this very worthwhile program.”

Operation Purple summer camps are free to all participants thanks to support from the Sierra Club and The Sierra Club Foundation.

Participants of the program are between the ages of 7 and 17 and are children of service members from all branches of the military from several different states.

Activities for this year’s program will include a community service project, participation in teamwork activities, as well as typical summer camp activities such as singing, games, arts and crafts, swimming, boating, sports etc. They will also participate in workshops and discussions pertaining to parental deployments and other issues that specifically affect the well-being of the military child.

Participants will come away from this program with a better understanding of the role of their family member, who is serving in the military.

Alaska Guard trains with Mongolian armed forces

By Pfc. Karina Paraoan
Alaska Army National Guard

FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia (8/19/10) - Alaska Army National Guard Soldiers and Mongolian Armed Forces members sharpened their command and operations skills during a command post exercise at Five Hills Training Area, Mongolia, this week.

The command post exercise (CPX) is part of Khaan Quest 2010, a bilateral peacekeeping operations training exercise held at the Five Hills Training Area just outside the city of Ulaanbaatar.

Khaan Quest is designed to focus on developing participating military forces' ability to contribute to U.N. peacekeeping operations, particularly multinational efforts involving peacekeeping challenges like insurgency, terrorism, crime and ethnic conflict. The exercise aims to cultivate the readiness, interoperability and interpersonal relationships that translate into success in such contexts.

Alaska Army National Guard Lt. Col. Simon Brown, commander of the 761st Military Police Battalion, based in Juneau, Alaska, served as one of the U.S. battalion commanders during the exercise.

Brown explained that while the U.S. participants offered insight on battalion staff planning and operations, their Mongolian counterparts shared expertise in peacekeeping operations.

"The CPX is a command and control operation that takes young officers from America and Mongolia and teaches them the finer points of command, control and planning," Brown said. "This training is extremely important because the United States is able to offer insight on battalion staff planning and operations, and the Mongolian counterparts can share their expertise in peacekeeping operations; by sharing this knowledge, soldiers from both countries become more well-rounded and are better able to work together in real-world situations."

This is the eighth year for the Alaska National Guard's involvement in the exercise and is driven by the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program, which pairs the Alaska National Guard with Mongolian forces.

Training in battalion staff level operations during the command post exercise supports the Mongolian defense reform program's goal to establish and globally deploy battalion assets in peacekeeping operations in accordance with NATO standards. As the Mongolian and U.S.

participants work together side-by-side, they develop cohesive battalion-level mission plans.

Capt. Rentsen Enkhbold, brigade operations officer of the 150th Peace Security Battalion, Mongolian Armed Forces, said the training was beneficial because he learned more about the way the American Soldiers solved problems and conducted training.

"This is my second year in Khaan Quest," Enkhbold said. "It is a very good exercise and we hope to collect enough experience from this to establish one more battalion for a peacekeeping brigade by 2015."

Scenarios were based on U.N. peace support missions such as convoy operations, cordon and search operations, and establishing checkpoints and food distribution sites. United States and Mongolian battalion staff officers and non-commissioned officers would respond to scenarios by developing and writing mission operations orders.

"Each side brings their different experiences to the table," Brown said.

"The Mongolians' extensive history in peacekeeping operations and our multiple experiences in combat operations combine to build a really great training venue."

Homefront Celebration Comes to Colorado Springs

Spa Event to Benefit Military Spouses

Colorado Springs, CO -- Operation Homefront will host a special event for military spouses, a Homefront Celebration, on September 18, at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

All military spouses in the Colorado Springs area are invited to participate in a meal along with relaxation, inspiration, and laughter. Each attendee will also receive a gift bag filled with spa items to pamper themselves at home. This event is generously sponsored by TriWest Healthcare Alliance and is open to all military spouses.

“TriWest understands that the families of our military service members make tremendous sacrifices when their loved ones choose to defend our country,” said David J. McIntyre, Jr., president and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance. “Military spouse s often do double-duty as parents, while also worrying about someone in harm’s way overseas. By partnering with Operation Homefront, TriWest is continuing our commitment to serve and support the men and women in uniform and their families.”

The Colorado Springs event is one of six Homefront Celebrations being held for military spouses across the nation. Each event will host up to 150 military spouses and will begin with a reception, followed by an elegant four-course dinner.

The evening will feature Marshele Carter Waddell, Author of “Hope for the Home Front”, Co-Author of “When War Comes Home” and Founder of One Hope, a non-profit organization which brings hope, healing and solutions to military families.

Homefront Online will host an Internet cafe to visit the online networking magazine and to chat with other military spouses around the world.

Military spouses many times have to simultaneously be the mother, father, peacemaker, referee and keep the homefront together while every member of the family sacrifices through service. This community event allows Operation Homefront and TriWest Healthcare Alliance the opportunity to show gratitude for all they do.

Military spouses interested in participating may register for the events online at: or

Sailors, It's All About You

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Navy Personnel Command (NPC) has an all new "My Personnel Information" link on the NPC homepage, directing Sailors to a single grouping of web links for personnel information and career management.

"This is all about the individual Sailor," said Capt. Hank Vitali, director of the Personnel Services Delivery Transformation Office at the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

"The 'My Personnel Information' page (the first listing under quick links) is a first step in response to requests from the fleet for a single self-service-online site for personnel service delivery capabilities," Vitali said. "We've heard the fleet loud and clear and are working to develop an enhanced 'portal' that provides Sailors direct access to the most commonly used applications and sources of career information."

The "My Personnel Information" page has four main functions; personnel records, self-support, training and education, and Customer Service Center support. Sailors can access their official military personnel file, their physical readiness information, submit an electronic-leave request, enter the Defense Travel System or request a Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript.

"There are 20 links to personnel records information, self service and support sites, training and education, customer service - even post-incident personnel accountability via the Navy Family and Accountability System," said Vitali. "We'll leverage the feedback and lessons learned from the 'My Personnel Information' page into the requirements for the future Navy Human Resources Portal under development for our active and Reserve Sailors."

For more information or to provide direct feedback on "My Personnel Information" visit (quick links to the left), or contact NPC Customer Service Center at or 1-866-U-ASK-NPC.