Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guard Members Battle Western Wildfires

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., June 13, 2012 – Citizen-soldiers and airmen from five states are working alongside civilian first responders as they continue to battle wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico, according to National Guard officials.

New Mexico Army National Guard members are still battling the Little Bear wildfire near Ruidoso, N.M., which is approximately 35 percent contained, officials said.

The number of New Mexico Guard members has increased from 117 to approximately 218 since June 11, officials said. The New Mexico Guard has deployed three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, two equipped with Bambi buckets and one on standby for medical evacuations.

Guard members in New Mexico are also performing roving walking patrols, setting up traffic control points, and handing out information to residents who could be affected by the wildfire, officials said.

Guard members in Colorado are continuing to battle the High Peak wildfire near Fort Collins, officials said.

There are approximately 90 Colorado National Guard soldiers and airmen providing support and performing missions such as communication support, refueling, and security.

Additionally, the Colorado Guard has deployed UH-60 helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets, said officials, who said the fire has destroyed approximately 46,600 acres.

The Kansas National Guard and Nebraska National Guard are also assisting with wildfire suppression in Colorado, each sending one UH-60 helicopter equipped with a Bambi bucket and a crew of nine and four soldiers respectively.

Wildfire suppression operations in Wyoming have concluded in Guernsey State Park, Guard officials said. Currently, two Wyoming Air National Guard members are working in the communications center augmenting civilian first responders.

Wyoming is also scheduled to send one UH-60 helicopter equipped with a Bambi bucket, and a crew of four, to assist with the Colorado wildfires, officials said.

DOD Leaders Strongly Urge Congress to Preserve Budget Request

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta cautioned Congress today against dismantling the strategic framework that supports the 2013 defense budget request.

Testifying along with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee, the secretary said some changes to the request could undermine the careful balance department leaders built into military spending projections.

“Some of the [congressional] committees have … made changes with regard to our recommendations that we're concerned about,” Panetta said.

He listed three areas DOD leaders have targeted for cuts, and which some members of Congress have challenged during defense budget consideration.

“Some of the bills seek to reverse the decisions to eliminate aging and lower-priority ships and aircraft,” the secretary noted. “My concern is that if these decisions are totally reversed, then I've got to find money somewhere … to maintain this old stuff.”

Keeping outdated equipment in service would rob needed funds from other areas, he said. That, he added, would lead to what he has long called a “hollow force” – a military that is not trained, manned or equipped to meet current and future threats.

“We've got to be able to retire what is aged and what we can achieve some savings on,” Panetta said.

Some in Congress have also objected to “the measured and gradual reductions in end strength that we've proposed for the Army and the Marine Corps,” he added. Panetta noted that under current plans, DOD will reduce the active Army from roughly 560,000 to 490,000, while the Marine Corps will downsize from 202,000 to 182,000 over five years.

“Again, if I have a large force and I don't have the money to maintain that large force, I'm going to end up hollowing it out, because I can't provide the training [and] I can't provide the equipment,” the secretary said. “So that's why, if we're going to reduce the force, then I've got to be able to do it in a responsible way.”

The third spending area he discussed involves military compensation and health care. The budget request includes some additional fees for retiree health care, and limits active-duty pay raises after 2013. Panetta and Dempsey both emphasized that the department does not plan to cut pay, but that compensation cost growth must be controlled to meet budget constraints.

“If I suddenly wind up with no reductions in that area, I've got to reach someplace to find the money to maintain those programs, ... every low-priority program or overhead cost that is retained will have to be offset by cuts in higher-priority investments in order to comply with the Budget Control Act,” he said.

Panetta noted that act, which mandated the defense spending cuts reflected in the fiscal 2013 request, also holds a more dire threat to military spending: sequestration. That provision will trigger another $500 billion across-the-board cut in defense spending over the next decade if Congress doesn’t identify an equivalent level of spending cuts by January.

“Obviously, this is a great concern,” he said, calling sequestration a “meat-ax approach.”

“It would guarantee that we hollow out our force and inflict severe damage on our national defense,” the secretary asserted.

Dempsey also spoke about the damage changes to defense spending plans could cause.

The strategy-based budget request, the chairman said, “ensures we retain our conventional overmatch while divesting capabilities not required in the active force -- or at all.”

The spending plan reflects choices that maintain a needed balance among force structure, modernization, readiness, pay and benefits, he added.

“Different choices will produce a different balance,” the chairman cautioned. “So before giving us weapons we don't need or giving up on reforms that we do need, I'd only ask you to make sure it's the right choice, not for our armed forces but for our nation.

“Sequestration is absolutely certain to upend this balance,” he continued. “It would lead to further end-strength reductions, the potential cancellation of major weapons systems and the disruption of global operations.”

Dempsey said slashing another half-trillion dollars from defense funding over the next 10 years under sequestration would transform U.S. forces “from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visible globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries. That transformation would, in turn, change the nation’s deterrent stance and potentially increase the likelihood of conflict, the chairman said.

The general noted that because the law allows defense leaders to cut spending in only certain areas, only three broad areas would be available to service chiefs faced with sequestration: training, maintenance and modernization.

“That's it. There's no magic in the budget at that point,” Dempsey said. “And those three accounts will be subjected to all of the cuts mandated by sequestration.”

Panetta appealed to the senators to take action to avert a “potential disaster” by preserving the strategy-based defense spending plan submitted in February.

“I know the members of this committee are committed to working together to stop sequester, and I want you to know that we are prepared to work with you to try to do what is necessary to avoid that crisis,” he said.

South Dakota National Guard kicks off international exercise Golden Coyote

By Army National Guard Maj. Anthony Deiss
South Dakota National Guard

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The South Dakota National Guard's 28th annual Golden Coyote training exercise is underway in Rapid City and the southern Black Hills, with more than 2,200 service members participating from across the country and the world.

The two-week training exercise, which began June 9 and is scheduled to continue until June 23, allows military forces to conduct combat support and combat service support missions in a realistic training environment and provide valuable services to the public.

Created in the mid-1980s with the cooperation of the National Forest Service and Custer State Park, the exercise provides relevant training opportunities in support of overseas contingency operations and homeland defense. Golden Coyote has developed into one of the nation's top training opportunities for National Guard, Reserve and active-duty forces, as well as military personnel from foreign countries.

"This exercise is a great opportunity for units to tailor their training to their needs," said Army Brig. Gen. Jeff Marlette, commander of forces for Golden Coyote. "Nationwide there are very few exercises that are designed for National Guard, U.S. Reserve and international forces to come together and train. It helps to prepare units to be able to go abroad and support operations overseas, as well as train on homeland security missions right here in the United States."

There are 37 units representing 17 states, and six foreign nations participating in the exercise from multiple branches of military service – Army, Navy, and Air Force – working together to create an invaluable training experience. This includes medical, chemical, transportation, signal, aviation, military police, engineer and quartermaster units. These military forces train on their equipment and employ tactics to prepare them for any future overseas deployment.

"Military forces are able to participate in numerous warrior training tasks and battle drills, such as urban combat operations, medical aid, and day and night convoy operations," said Army Maj. Travis Eastman, exercise coordinator.

Units can also participate in combat patrols, fire arms training and reacting to improvised explosive devices, Eastman said.

Participating units also complete various projects that help improve the forest and local communities. Local residents receive numerous benefits of the many engineering projects being conducted during the training exercise.

Units will be repairing roadways, providing reclamation of hazardous wilderness areas and hauling cut timber from the forest.

"We have transportation units moving timber cut by the National Forest Service for fire control purposes to Native American reservation communities who can use it as firewood," Eastman said. "Our engineers will also repair hazardous wilderness areas and make them safe for public use, and re-surface local roadways that have fallen into disrepair."

"This exercise is a great testament to how we come together with the civilian public," Marlette said. "We coordinate with the National Forest Service, Custer State Park and other local agencies, and the event allows both their agencies and us to be better prepared to meet homeland security missions and provide services to the public."

This year's exercise also includes members from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Suriname.

"The training aim for this exercise is the interoperability with our allies and synchronization between different work forces and equipment," said United Kingdom Territorial Army Maj. Andrew Inglis, Headquarters, 71st Engineer Regiment. "We are looking to provide aid to your civil community here; mainly to conduct route construction, hauling missions and other construction projects.

"As combat engineers we are soldiers first, so we will take part in the exercise's warrior lanes," said Inglis. "The majority of [soldiers] here will probably deploy in the next two to three years, so this is a method of the sub-unit commander to look at his people and make sure they are ready to deploy."

"The international units here provide us an opportunity for joint operations that we will conduct serving our counties abroad," Marlette said.

Three-day veterans hiring fair planned in Detroit

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Veterans looking for careers in both the public and private sectors are encouraged to attend the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' "VA for Vets" hiring fair June 26-28 in Detroit at the COBO Center, One Washington Boulevard.

The event will offer thousands of on-the-spot career prospects, including interviews, career search classes and one-on-one counseling. More than 16,000 federal and private job opportunities will be available, including many in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

"The main difference between a job fair and a hiring fair is that employers will be conducting on-the-spot interviews at hiring fairs," said Tiffany Addair of the Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) office in Madison, Wis. "Research and find general interview questions and practice answering them."

Addair also recommended having questions prepared to ask the interviewer.

All interested National Guard members are encouraged to register in advance at Registrants will stay connected with current event information, weekly e-mails on available jobs, coaching assistance and opportunities to sign up for additional training available during the event.

"Make sure to bring multiple copies of your resume," Addair said. "There can be many employers attending that are in the same related field - you don't want to miss out on any opportunities."

Additionally, Addair said that submitting resumes for jobs of interest on the hiring fair website prior to attending the event will qualify veterans for on-the-spot interviews.

Veterans should bring proof of military service to the hiring fair, as well as college transcripts, professional licenses or certificates, VA service-connected disability or Civil Service preference letter, and Schedule A letter if applicable.

Supporting Citizen Soldiers gain civilian employment is among the highest priorities for the National Guard. This event is part of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's ongoing efforts to help veterans secure employment in both the public and private sectors.

Sustainability Excellence Earns Fentress-Designed Military Headquarters LEED Gold

Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2012) —For excellence in sustainable design features, the Russell-Knox Building in Quantico, Virginia, has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Designed by Fentress Architects, the government headquarters project successfully co-locates five U.S. Military Department Investigative Agencies.

The design’s sustainability goals, which target energy consumption and site conservation, exceeded the project’s minimum requirements for LEED Silver in order to achieve LEED Gold. Architectural, lighting and HVAC systems were designed to achieve an energy cost savings of more than 25 percent above ASHRAE 90.1-2004.

To lessen the building’s environmental impact, Fentress Architects selected zero-irrigation plant species and more than 85 percent native trees. Seven acres of land were reforested and site disturbance was minimized, resulting in 55 percent of the site designated open space, more than twice LEED’s required amount. These sustainable practices yielded a LEED Exemplary Performance Credit for site initiatives.

Fast Track Schedule | Completed on time and under budget, Fentress’ goal with all its projects, the 719,000-square-foot building was designed and built in only 30 months. Commissioned by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington as a component of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, the project relocated approximately 2,640 full-time government jobs to Quantico, Va.

The five military agencies consist of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Headquarters Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), Headquarters Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Headquarters Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and the Defense Security Service (DSS). In addition to a state-of-the-art, 12,000-square-foot Data Center, all agencies have access to the Collaboration Center for training sessions, a dining hall, wellness center and retail convenience store.

High-Tech, Flexible Office Space | The challenge of the complex building program was to co-locate five separate military investigative agencies in a single facility while maintaining a strong identity for each agency. In addition, the design team had to accommodate each organization’s strict set of classifications, security and technology requirements. Designed to easily adapt to changes within an office environment, the highly efficient space plan features raised-floor systems for data/power cabling, flexible meeting rooms, modular walls and systems furniture. Cutting-edge technologies,

security systems and redundant back-up systems support the occupants’ complex, highly-technical work. The design meets all anti-terrorism/force protection requirements.

The $365,000,000 project was a design-build collaboration between Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and Fentress Architects.

Fentress Architects is a global design firm that passionately pursues the creation of sustainable and iconic architecture. Together with their clients, Fentress creates inspired design to improve the human environment. Founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980, the firm has designed US$26 billion of architectural projects worldwide, visited by over 300 million people each year. Fentress is a dynamic learning organization, driven to grow its ability to design, innovate and exceed client expectations. The firm has been honored with more than 385 distinctions for design excellence and innovation, and in 2010, Curtis Fentress was recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the most prestigious award for public architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Award. Fentress has studios in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and London, U.K.

Please contact Angela Potrykus at 303.282.6192 or for more information or images.


Team 4Mil’s coast-to-coast marathon supports and raises awareness for rehabilitation of injured service members, through US Wounded Warriors Project and UK’s Battle Back Battalion

Annapolis, MD (June 13, 2012)Team 4Mil, which is training, equipping, and supporting a team of previously wounded service members to compete in June’s “Race Across America” (RAAM), proudly announces its partnership with international law firm SNR Denton. The firm has agreed to sponsor both American and British teams in the 3,000-mile race.

Race Across America was created in 1982 as a standard of athletic endurance and achievement. Individual cyclists and relay teams compete in the transcontinental contest, which this year begins in Oceanside, Calif., and ends in Annapolis, Md., crossing 12 states and climbing a total of more than 100,000 feet. Unlike famous races such as the Tour de France, there are no stages – “the sun may set, but the race goes on.”

In the last four years racers have raised an average of $1 million per race for charities.

Team 4Mil is actually made up of two 10-rider squads. One will race to increase awareness and raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps wounded or sick US service members and their families overcome physical and psychological scars of war. The other, the US Military Service team, is comprised largely of active and retired military personnel, including officers, enlisted personnel, and even Navy SEALS. Several previously competed in triathlons or other multi-sport events.

Last year’s Team 4Mil, which included members from all five branches of the US armed services, finished RAAM second among all teams, blazing the length of the country in 5 days, 12 hours, and 5 minutes.

SNR Denton, formed of the 2010 combination of US- and British-based firms, is also sponsoring the UK’s Team Battle Back, whose eight riders are all military personnel who sustained injuries during service. Four are double amputees, who will be riding handbikes. The UK team has completed an intensive training program and will be accompanied by a dedicated civilian and military support crew.

The race begins June 16.

Team 4Mil co-founder Roy Collins said, “For riders who are previously wounded vets, the Race Across America has an even more profound meaning than just pitting themselves against some of the best endurance cyclists in the world.  Many say that cycling was a big part of their rehabilitation, and that they hope to show other wounded vets that any goal is attainable, despite the obstacles.”

He continued, “We’re grateful for SNR Denton’s commitment to enable members of our team to participate in adaptive cycling and rehabilitation programs. SNR Denton’s support allows us to expand our program to include collaboration with the UK’s Battle Back Battalion, which enables them to experience this event and both teams to share best practices on vets’ recoveries.” 

SNR Denton global chairman Joseph Andrew coordinates the firm’s ongoing support for 4Mil’s mission. “We’re very pleased to support both the US and UK teams,” he said. “Besides honoring patriotism and military service, these riders are setting an example for other wounded veterans by demonstrating perseverance and a drive for achievement. Many have come through rigorous programs of mental and physical rehabilitation to enable them to lead active and independent lives. Almost all say cycling was a peaceful and meditative part of their recuperation. Well, now we’ll see how that translates into cycling continuously from coast to coast in about a week.”

About Team 4Mil
Team 4Mil is a registered 501C3 charity dedicated to “keeping the warrior spirit alive!” by actively supporting wounded veteran programs thru direct partnership and financial contributions resulting from our participation in a variety of nationally organized cycling events, culminating in our competition in the world’s most challenging endurance race, the Race Across America.  Our website provides an introduction to each athlete and connects to our charitable benefactor, The Wounded Warrior Project.  

About  SNR Denton
SNR Denton is a client-focused international legal practice delivering quality and value. We serve clients in key business and financial centers from more than 60 locations worldwide, through offices, associate firms and special alliances across the US, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS, Asia Pacific and Africa, making us a top 25 legal services provider by lawyers and professionals. Joining the complementary top tier practices of its founding firms—Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP and Denton Wilde Sapte LLP—SNR Denton offers business, government and institutional clients premier service and a disciplined focus to meet evolving needs in eight key industry sectors: Energy, Transport and Infrastructure; Financial Institutions and Funds; Government; Health and Life Sciences; Insurance; Manufacturing; Real Estate, Retail and Hotels; and Technology, Media and Telecommunications. Please see for more information and Legal Notices.

Michigan Air Guard firefighters exchange best practices during Saber Srtike 2012

By Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Daniel Heaton
127th Wing

AMARI AIR BASE, Estonia – Under a light drizzle on the afternoon of June 12, firefighters from the Amari Air Base – local civilian firefighters – and four firefighters from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard rolled out to the flightline with lights and sirens blaring, as they responded to a call of a fire and incapacitated crew members aboard a Michigan Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker.

The alarm, however, was part of a surprise drill in which the American firefighters helped the Estonians learn new skills about how to respond to a fire on large aircraft since the Estonian Air Force does not own any large aircraft, such as the KC-135.

"The Estonian guys have a lot of experience and knowledge in fighting a structure fire," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Miguel Castillo, the lead Michigan Air Guard firefighter participating in the larger Saber Strike 2012 exercise. "Our mission is to help give them some training on how to engage on an aircraft fire."

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Juozapaitis, another 127th Wing firefighter, said the crews from the two nations have been sharing ideas with each side and allowing each group to determine how best to apply that information to their own setting.

"We're not trying to come in here and say 'here's how we do it and you have to do it this way,'" he said. "The Estonians have their own equipment and their own procedures. This is about exchanging ideas."

Building such partnerships is the goal of Saber Strike 2012, a multinational exercise based in Estonia and Latvia. This is the second year for the exercise, which is led by U.S. Army-Europe and includes about 2,000 personnel from eight nations and the air forces of the various nations for the first time this year.

Paavon M√ľnter, the Estonian fire chief, said having such realistic training is a definite benefit for his department.

"We do not otherwise have the opportunity to train with these types of aircraft, but we want to be a ready air field for any aircraft that lands here," he said.

Castillo, who is a firefighter in Toledo, Ohio, in his civilian job, said there is an interesting difference in firefighting philosophy between the Americans and Estonians.

"Their equipment is built around the idea of using high pressure on lower volumes of water. Ours is a lower pressure with more volume," he said. "It is a different way of looking at the same problem."

Adding to the exercise for the firefighters are the long hours on duty in the firehouse for the airmen from both nations. Airmen from both air forces are all living at the firehouse for the duration of the two-week exercise.

"We are living together, working together, eating together," Juozapaitis said. "We've even learned after duty that they have a few different 'house' rules in playing [the board game] Risk. So, I think the fire crews are really getting along well."