Monday, December 02, 2013

Volunteering builds Wolf Pack resiliency

by by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/28/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- The 8th Fighter Wing Wolf Pack took resiliency to a new level Nov. 27, 2013, sidestepping the Power Point slides, and getting Airmen to volunteer in the local community.

"We could have spent this day going over briefings on budgeting, finance and talking about relationship issues," said Col. S. Clinton Hinote, 8th Fighter Wing commander. "These are good things, but they are available to us all year. We decided to do something different for Resiliency Day."

A large portion of the Wolf Pack helped at local libraries, women's shelters, elementary schools, kimchee farms and retirement homes in and around Gunsan City, Republic of Korea.

"We decided that the best way to build resiliency is to get outside our own little worlds and do something for someone else," said Hinote.

The day was spent cleaning, shoveling, raking, farming and making traditional food for the needy and homeless. According to one Airman, who is missing his third holiday season with his family, the experience was enjoyable and rewarding.

"I've been laughing all day and having fun," said Airman 1st Class Jacob Gagnon, 8th Maintenance Squadron. "It's definitely something different. Being away from family for the upcoming holidays is going to be tough. I definitely think that being resilient and being able to handle that is a big part of doing what we do."

The Wolf Pack focused on the well-being of others as part of becoming resilient. After a day's work of supporting the local community, Airmen ended their not-so-standard day by sharing memories and experiences with their Wolf Pack family.

Columbus SFS takes a bite out of hunger

by 2nd Lt. Cory Concha
14th Student Squadron

11/27/2013 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Columbus Air Force Base personnel recently showed their support for the local community by participating in and attending a military working dog demonstration outside of the Columbus Club.

The event, led by the 14th Security Forces Squadron asked attendees to donate one non-perishable food item to the United Way of Lowndes County as the price of admission.

The demonstration highlighted the MWD team's members, handlers and dogs alike, in scenarios where the team would have to deploy their skills.

The MWD's, ranked members of the Air Force, helped pursue and immobilize perpetrators in a series of simulated scenarios. The dogs' obedience was also demonstrated as Technical Sergeant Thomas Blandino narrated the events, highlighting the precision with which the dogs both attack perpetrators and respect their handler's commands - even when distracted by gunfire, smoke and other distractions.

"It's important for the public to see what we do [and the] different capabilities we have," Staff Sergeant Franklin Walton said. Walton is a military working dog trainer for the canine personnel of Columbus Air Force Base and participated in the demonstration.

Colonel Jim Sears, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander also donned the "bite suit" and attempted to run away from a dog ordered to stop him, to no avail.

The event, though a fun demonstration of the MWD teams' effectiveness, was a way the squadron decided to help the local community in a time of need.

"It's so important to do it, especially during the holiday season," said Staff Sergeant Karl Stefanowicz, 14th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and demonstrator. "We just want to give back to the community."

The rainy weather was no barrier either, as both the demonstration and the food drop off at the United Way of Lowndes County happened in wake of continuous rain all morning long, not allowing the rain to dampen the squadron's efforts to take a bite out of hunger.

"It was great to see everyone supporting, despite the weather," said Walton, "we appreciate the public being able to see what we do and getting the opportunity to give back to our community all at the same time."

Reserve Components’ Yellow Ribbon Program Remains Vital

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 – A program that has helped ease the post-deployment process for thousands of Guard and reserve members and their families in recent years will remain vital even after combat operations wind down in Afghanistan, a senior defense official who helped establish it told American Forces Press Service.

The Defense Department launched the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program in 2008 to ensure reserve-component members have access to the information and resources they need to effectively reintegrate with their families, communities and their employers, said Ronald G. Young, who oversees the program as executive director of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Over the past 12 years, about 900,000 Guard and reserve members have been called to duty, many for extended combat deployments. But unlike their active-duty counterparts, who returned to the extensive support of an installation after deployment, many reserve component members returned to communities that didn’t always understand the depth of their experience and to families unfamiliar with military demands.

“When we brought home our units from mobilizations in Iraq and Afghanistan, they would demobilize at an active-duty installation” often far from their homes, Young explained. “Here we were, trying to tell unit members about all the services and support they were entitled to now that they were returning home, yet nobody from the local vicinity where they lived or where the unit was located was there to support them.”

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program helped bridge that gap, ensuring geographical separation from the military didn’t leave troops emotionally or socially isolated. Yellow Ribbon coordinators fanned out across the United States to deliver support and services where service members and their families could access them.

Although DOD has oversight of the program, each service tailored its own program to its members’ needs. But they share a general format, with at least one event scheduled at the alert phase, during deployment, and at 30, 60 and 90 days after redeployment.

In addition, family programs help ensure family members understand the deployment and reintegration processes and know about resources available to help them.

“We as a department have recognized the importance of a program to reintegrate our service members back into their local communities with the local support organizations right there,” Young said.

Now that combat deployments are drawing down and fewer reserve-component units are being mobilized, Young said it’s critical that the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program remains strong.

“We have learned that the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is important to readiness, regardless of whether you are mobilizing for a war or mobilizing to go to Europe to backfill for a unit there. You don’t have to be leaving to go into a war zone to need the type of support this program provides,” Young said.

“So I see the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program as an enduring program for the department,” he said. “It helps us to reorganize, refit and prepare out units so they are ready when they are needed again in the future.”

Based on the key role the reserve components play in national defense, Young said that future is now.

“Today, we have 55,000 Guard and reserve members on active duty around the world,” he reported.

“The Guard and reserve are no longer just a strategic force, to be put on the shelf and await the next engagement somewhere,” Young added. “They are part of the operational force, and my belief is that the Guard and reserve will continue to be utilized into the future for operational missions.”

By some estimates, members of the reserve components could be even more important as the services reduce the size of their active forces, he noted.

“When they return home, they are going to need that same support and assistance to reintegrate with their families,” Young said. “And therefore, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is going to remain important to the readiness of our future force. It helps keep our force ready, it keeps our family ready and it is vitally important for our operational Guard and reserve.”

To remain relevant post-conflict, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program has to be reliable, resourced and with trained coordinators ready to provide support when needed, whether during peacetime or war, Young said. DOD is exploring ways to deliver online training and a centralized, ready source of information for those who need it, he said.

As the program incorporates best practices learned from current operations, Young said it must be agile to adapt to future needs and operating environments.

“As part of that, we are adjusting the program content to make it scalable” to suit the size and duration of future mobilizations, he said.

“And the program has to be committed,” Young said. “We must remain dedicated to those who serve and those we support through a process of continuous evaluation and improvement of the program to ensure it provides enduring support to the services.”

Stolen Valor Tarnishes Service Members’ Sacrifices

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 – Soldiers in every war have risked their lives to defend America. In many cases, their valor has been above and beyond the call of duty. For their service, they receive Purple Heart Medals for wounds, and for valor they might earn Bronze Star Medals, Silver Star Medals or others.

It may seem hard to fathom, but there are many who claim to have earned medals to which they are not entitled. Others say they've served in combat but never have.

Donald Mason knows this first-hand because he's called these individuals out and exposed their fraud to the public.

Mason served from 2009-2010 as the national commander of the Legion of Valor. The organization was chartered by an Act of Congress in 1955. Today he serves as the commander of the legion’s San Antonio chapter. All 627 members have received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross or the Air Force Cross.

The mission of the Legion of Valor includes extending relief to needy members, their widows and children, promoting patriotism and pride in serving, and cherishing the memories of valiant deeds by those who served. Members also protect the valor of service members by exposing people who steal the valor of others.

About five years ago, Mason recalls getting a call from the Texas Department of Transportation, which had also contacted Dick Agnew, commander of the Dallas/Fort Worth Legion of Valor chapter. Department personnel suspected that some motorists were fraudulently claiming to be entitled to put Legion of Valor license plates on their vehicles.

Mason and Agnew found that of 67 Legion of Valor plates issued in Texas, 10 were fraudulent. The men then tracked down those 10. Surprisingly, all had actually served in the military, Mason said. Furthermore, most had been officers. However, none of them rated any of the four medals that would make one eligible for membership in the Legion of Valor or to have the license plate.

One of the perpetrators was from Mason's hometown of San Antonio. He was a retired Army lieutenant colonel. Not only did he have a fraudulent plate, he also wore his dress uniform to church and among the medals he wore but did not earn was a Distinguished Service Cross. Another was a combat infantry badge for service in Korea.

When questioned about his combat badge, he replied that it was earned in 1956. The Korean War ended in 1953.

This cut close to home for Mason, who had served with the Marines in Korea as a corpsman. In October 1952, he earned the Navy Cross during fighting near Panmunjom.

Mason has dealt with other cases. He's currently looking into the case of a fraudulent Purple Heart Medal.

It's fairly easy to steal valor, he said. Medals and ribbons can be purchased on the Internet, and blank DD-214 discharge forms can be found online. Awards can then be typed in as well as other service-related data. It doesn't help matters that many service records were lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, in 1973, he added, meaning people can claim their records were destroyed.

The Supreme Court also made it more difficult to prosecute cases of fraud, he said, when in 2012 in U.S. v. Alvarez, it found the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 to violate the First Amendment's free speech clause. The act had made it a federal misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself as having received any U.S. military decoration.

Subsequently, Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2012, which makes it a crime if the stolen valor results in profit.

There are still steps people can take to find out and report stolen valor. The Defense Department, for example, has a list of service members who've earned some of the highest awards for valor.

Mason said he and other Legion of Valor chapter members would be glad to help if someone needs assistance in reporting stolen valor cases.

The first step Mason takes is to talk to the person. If that doesn't work then he would bring it to the attention of the public through the media. Mason said newspapers have reported cases of stolen valor. Also, the fraudulent claims should be brought to the attention of the U.S. Attorney's Office, if the case involves stolen valor for profit.

Grand Forks AFB highlights family during VIP visit

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/27/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The Airmen of Grand Forks Air Force Base were able to highlight the importance of pride, people and respect in the Air Force family when hosting a trio of important visitors this week.

Air Force Chief of staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, his wife, Betty, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody spent Nov. 25 and 26 on the base, getting to know the Warriors of the North.

Mrs. Welsh focused her visit on the families' perspective of military service, the importance of respect and professionalism in the service, and the vital role of resiliency.

Families--The Heart of the Air Force

On Monday, the Airman & Family Readiness Center hosted a session with Key Spouse mentors and first sergeants. Mrs. Welsh offered some advice and personal experience from her 35 years as a military spouse, and answered questions from other key spouses in attendance.

"Early in General Welsh's career was probably one of the most stressful times of my life," she said. Mrs. Welsh explained that back then, when she had four children all under the age of seven, there were no formal programs available to spouses to take care of any issues that may have come up.

Luckily for her, however, she met a squadron officer's spouse who she counted as a great mentor. Between the two of them, they were able to form something resembling the Key Spouse Program of today, complete with a counselor, chaplain, financial advisor and other valuable resources.

The Key Spouses' Program became an official Air Force program under the leadership of former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and his wife, Suzie, in 2009. It is modeled after the Navy's Ombudsman Program, and is designed to enhance unit readiness and establish a sense of Air Force community, with special emphasis on support to families across the deployment cycle.

"The Key Spouse Program is not just another program," said Mrs. Welsh, a Long Island, N.Y., native. "General Welsh likes to say, 'We recruit Airmen, but we retain families.' So this program was started to be a support system for military families to help keep them engaged and resilient."

Many of the questions posed to Mrs. Welsh centered on family reintegration following deployment, Key Spouse mentorship, and some of the best practices she has seen as a Key Spouse.

"I knew of one Key Spouse who attended every Heart Link seminar, every newcomers briefing, who had her photo on the leadership board, and had her own bulletin board," she said. "People are more willing to trust when the unknown is taken away. People can't build that trust and communication until they know who you are, and don't feel like you have to do it all on your own. Many hands make light work."

Cultivating Professionalism and Respect

On Tuesday, Mrs. Welsh attended a briefing on the base's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, where she heard from the SAPR program assistant, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, victim advocates, as well as representatives from the 319th Medical Group mental health clinic, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Equal Opportunity, and the 319th Judge Advocate.

Each briefed Mrs. Welsh on how his or her function is doing its part to reinforce a culture of professionalism and respect within the Air Force.

Mrs. Welsh expressed her gratitude to all of the briefers.

"I just want to thank each and every one of you for everything that you do," she said. "What you're doing is having a positive impact on everyone you touch, so thank you and keep up the good work."

Capt. Carman Leone, 319th Judge Advocate chief of military justice, spoke about his role in prosecuting accused perpetrators, helping the commander enforce the military directive of good order and discipline.

"The most difficult and rewarding aspect of what I do is working with the victim of an assault," he said. "When you can prosecute and get justice, it's good for the victim and the base as a whole. You have to find that balance between meeting your burden of proof, and not re-traumatizing the victim at the same time."

Leone explained that the Special Victims Counsel program launched by the Air Force in January has helped more than 600 victims of sexual assault and currently holds a 90 percent approval rating from its participants.

Staff Sgt. Althea Hunter, 319th Air Base Wing Equal Opportunity NCO in charge, explained that it is her job to assess people's attitudes and behaviors, particularly when an office environment becomes uncomfortable or hostile, and help instill a sense of respect and professionalism in the Airmen she works with.

"A lot of the change we would like to see in the Air Force has to come from a cultural shift," Hunter said. "We all come from different backgrounds and environments, and we all have our own perceptions of certain things, but the best way to bring out the best in our Airmen is to cultivate a culture of trust and respect."

Capt. Thomas Efird, a Family Advocacy officer and licensed clinical social worker at the 319th Medical Group, offered that perhaps one of the best ways to empower those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault is to "stop referring to them as victims."

"'Survivor' is a much better word than 'victim,' I think," he said. "We break people with that word."

Sue Grollimund, SAPR program assistant, summed up the meeting by reinforcing the idea of a healthy Air Force culture.

"We all have the same goals," she said. "Cultivate an environment where we treat each other with respect, and hold those accountable who violate that trust. It's all about relationship building, and it's all about getting things done in a positive way."

What Makes You Resilient?

Mrs. Welsh wrapped up her visit with a Resiliency Reflection Tea co-hosted by Bonnie Bauman, spouse of 319th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Paul Bauman, and Becky Duncan, spouse of 319th ABW Command Chief Master Sgt. David Duncan, in the Bauman's residence.

The event was framed around an essay campaign that was opened up to civilian spouses of military members on base earlier this year. Respondents were asked to write about where they find the source of their strength, and what keeps them resilient.

One thing almost all of the essay writers had in common was children. A few were prior military members themselves, giving them a unique understanding of their active-duty spouse and the challenges they face.

Some said they drew their resiliency from their spouses; some said it was having a network of other spouses; and still others credited their faith with giving them the strength to carry on during difficult times.

Mrs. Welsh, after hearing each of the essay writers' stories, explained that she is very close to her family back home, but because they have not been exposed to the military and the military lifestyle the way she has, there is much they can't understand and can't relate to.

"All of your stories have been inspiring to hear," Mrs. Welsh said. "The fact is that this is not just a job--this is a lifestyle, for our husbands or wives and for us. Our support system is in our military and in our fellow spouses. I always say that every Air Force family has a story, and they should share it. I feel privileged to have been able to share yours with you here today."

KC-135 brings force extension to Iceland

by Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/27/2013 - Keflavik International Airport, Iceland  --
The 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron and the KC-135 Stratotanker deployed from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, make up an important part of the 48th Air Expeditionary Group here in Iceland.

The 48th AEG has been conducting air surveillance and policing missions as a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization here in Iceland since Oct. 28, 2013, in support of the U.S.-Iceland bilateral Defense Agreement of 1951.

In order to conduct air surveillance and policing, the group's F-15C Eagles, KC-135 Stratotanker and C-130J Hercules are on a 24/7 alert status.

The KC-135 has been in the Air Force's inventory for more than 50 years and is a key element in ensuring that the U.S. and its allies complete their mission without losing valuable time by having to land to refuel.

"For this mission and protecting the air space, fighters may not know how long they will need to be airborne," said Maj. Wiley Semrau, 351st EARS commander. "Without us being here they might have to come back down and land after only being on station for a few hours, but with us here they can extend that time."

According to Semrau, the KC-135 can help the F-15Cs, deployed from RAF Lakenheath, England, stay airborne for an extended period of time.

"Force extension is the big capability we bring to the mission," said Capt. Erika Palmer, 351st EARS pilot. "We give the fighters the capability to extend their range, track targets longer and complete intercepts."

Not only do the tankers do their job of air refueling, they also assist the fighters in performing practice aerial interceptions.

"They have been able to practice a lot of intercepts on us. We fly out to the airspace and then they will follow, find us and intercept," said Semrau.

Aircrews agree that they work more closely together than they do back at their home stations.

"We are working very closely with the fighters so it's nice having the operations desk right beside us and we're here to tell them how we can support them and how we can help them out," said Semrau.

Palmer shared similar thoughts.

"Being here in Iceland and working so close together helps us expand our understanding of the mission and what's going on while also getting to play in the fight a little bit more than we normally would," said Palmer.

Without the efforts of the 351st EARS pilots and boom operators, the fighter jet capabilities would not be as strong. They allow the fighters to arrive to Iceland, practice intercepts, conduct surveillance missions and get home safely. The tanker "drags" the fighters to locations such as Iceland, then enables them to practice intercepts and air-to-air fights, conduct the NATO surveillance mission and return home safely with plenty of divert options during questionable weather.

"It is very important for us to be here during this mission to help assist the F-15s," said Semrau. "Without us being here, the capability of how far out the fighters can fly or how long they can stay in the air would be greatly decreased if they didn't have a tanker to give them the fuel they needed to get back, divert or practice interceptions."

Task Force Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment Concludes Exercise

by Capt. Zach Anderson
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

11/26/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Task Force Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment recently conducted an exercise that provided not only training for JTF-Bravo members, but also had the additional effect of positively impacting the ongoing partnership between the United States and Honduras.

During a collective training exercise, the unit set up a tactical field operating location at Mocoron, a remote Honduran military outpost located in the Department of Gracias a Dios, Honduras. In conducting the exercise, the 1-228th built on their strong relationship with a Honduran Army Battalion at Mocoron.

"We are tied in well with the fully vetted Honduran 5th Infantry Battalion, which has been our faithful partner for years," said U.S. Army Maj. Kenneth Ferguson, 1-228th Aviation Regiment Operations Officer. "So when we come out here, we make contact with their chain of command and we can do any opportunity missions to support them as long as we have approval."

During the exercise, U.S. Army Col. Thomas Boccardi, Joint Task Force-Bravo Commander, made the trip to Mocoron to meet and visit with Honduran Lt. Col. Santos Colindres, Deputy Commander of the Honduran 5th Infantry Battalion.

"We have shared objectives, which have to do with the stability of the region," said Boccardi. "He is in a region, Gracias a Dios, that is heavily infested with drug trafficking organizations. So he has to deal not just with the operational piece of that, but also with the logistical piece of having to take care of his service members who are working out there."

Boccardi said a large part of his discussion with Colindres centered on what Joint Task Force-Bravo can do to provide support to the Hondurans operating in the remote region.

"It is a volatile area," said Boccardi. "It is under-governed and under-serviced, and they simply don't have resources. So we talked about what are his needs and how can we help to sustain some of those needs."

U.S. Army Lt. Col. E.J. Irvin, 1-228th Aviation Regiment Commander, said that conducting the exercise in the remote area and interacting with the Honduran military there served to increase the capability of the U.S. and Honduran forces to work together as a team.

"You can't put a price tag on the value of the relationship with have with the Hondurans," said Irvin. "While we are out here, they are assisting us in providing security, helping with cooking our meals, with housing, and we are assisting them with things as well. With them helping us and us helping them, it makes us more of a team. Our whole job here is to continue to have the U.S. and Hondurans work together as a team. I think by doing exercises like this, coming out here, and doing engagements with the leadership, that goes a long way in building that partner nation capacity."

Face of Defense: Army Engineer Helps to Maintain Texas Ports

By Sandra Arnold
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District

GALVESTON, Texas, Dec. 2, 2013 – Making a living managing the removal and placement of dirt wasn’t a job offered during any career fair Christopher Frabotta, chief of navigation at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, attended while earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Florida, but it’s one he actively sought out when he learned he could make a lasting positive impact on the nation.

Frabotta oversees the day-to-day operations and maintenance of 1,000 miles of channel along the Texas coast -- a job that keeps him busy coordinating the removal of dredged material from navigable waterways to ensure safe passage of vessels, the placement of dredged material to renourish beaches, conducting sediment sample testing and initiating studies for future navigation projects.

“Chris is tasked with the overall responsibility of keeping the top three of 10 ports in the nation situated along the Texas coast open for waterborne traffic,” said Joe Hrametz, chief of the district's operations division. “With the Texas coast becoming one of the fastest growing coasts in the nation, home to ports that generate over $10 billion in federal tax revenue, handle more than 500 million tons of cargo annually and supports more than 1.4 million jobs, Chris and his team continue to play a critical role in contributing to the safety, economic success and quality of life of local communities by improving navigation channels along the Texas coast.”

A leader in the district’s efforts to convert its tidal datum from Mean Low Tide to Mean Lower Low Water, a uniform chart datum widely accepted by mariners and used to calculate vessel-under-keel clearance when transiting ship channels and other navigable waterways, Frabotta partnered with the Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi -- manager of the Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network -- to gather data.

“The information supplied by the network provides invaluable navigation-related data that enables the Corps and our stakeholders to keep cargo moving along the Texas coast and supply commodities to the nation,” Frabotta said. “With Texas ports ranking first in the nation in waterborne commerce and handling nearly 43 percent of the nation’s crude imports and 24 percent of the nation’s exports, it’s imperative the Corps execute its mission of keeping waterways open for navigation.”

According to Frabotta, the district plays a key role in not only managing projects along the Texas coastline but also in protecting valuable resources.

“We understand the national, regional and local significance that waterborne commerce has on the nation and the state of Texas and we work diligently to ensure safe and reliable channel availability,” Frabotta said. “The district monitors and maintains the federally authorized navigation channels along the coast of Texas, removing approximately 30-40 million cubic yards of shoaled sediment at a cost of approximately $100 million per year.”

In addition to the district’s tidal datum conversion, Frabotta was instrumental in establishing a setback policy along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which addresses the distance a structure must be set back from the edge of the channel to ensure there are no encroachments in the navigable channel to support safe transportation and maintain sufficient clearance for dredging the channel.

“Increased development along the GIWW encouraged us to develop a predictable and repeatable policy for authorizing structures along the GIWW to maintain the compatibility of these important functions,” Frabotta said. “Staff began work on this policy in 2012 to establish setbacks from the GIWW channel where structures could be placed without interfering with navigation on the GIWW in order to ensure safe navigation.”

With these two initiatives underway, Frabotta has shifted his focus to coordinating an online system for accessing the district’s hydrographic channel condition surveys, which is expected to be launched in fiscal year 2014.

“The district’s navigation, operations and maintenance mission is one of the largest in the nation, with import and export tonnages totaling more than 500 million tons in 2011,” Frabotta said. “Adequate maintenance of the deep and shallow draft navigation channels in Texas ensures foreign and domestic commodities can be shipped through the Texas ports. These commodities provide for a critical portion of the nation’s economy and energy needs. With the state poised to become a leader in exporting liquefied natural gas, it’s imperative that we remain competitive on a global shipping market and continue to work with our partners and stakeholders to take care of our critical infrastructure through continued maintenance and protection.”

An employee of the USACE since 2001, Frabotta was named the USACE Galveston District’s 2013 Supervisor of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the district’s navigation mission. Prior to his arrival at the district in 2011, Frabotta served two tours in Iraq. The first in 2003 as an engineering liaison for the Humanitarian Operations Center in Kuwait City and Southern Iraq, then again in 2005 as the Al Basra South resident engineer, managing approximately $200 million of construction contracts including dredging and wreck removal contracts, port security contracts and the design and construction of the only Iraqi Coast Guard station.

In 2007, Frabotta was selected to serve in a one-year temporary detail to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development to assist the subcommittee staff with development of the 2008 House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill and Report.

"Chris is continually trying to improve the Navigation Program through special initiatives such as the development of the new GIWW set-back policy and the establishment of a Section 217 Agreement template that once approved, will allow the government to collect disposal fees from non-federal entities to replace lost placement area capacity at dredging material disposal sites," Hrametz said. “His efforts will help streamline our processes and save taxpayers’ money.”

A native of Massachusetts, Frabotta, a former soldier, lives and works on Galveston Island and enjoys running, cycling and other outdoor activities in his spare time.