Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Former Military Contractor Sentenced to 54 Months in Prison for Paying Bribe to Army Officer During Iraq War

A former military contractor who ran two Kuwaiti companies during the Iraq War was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for paying a $15,000 bribe to a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in exchange for the award of a contract.  Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.

George H. Lee, 71, of Philadelphia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

In connection with his guilty plea, Lee admitted that, as the president and chief executive officer of American Logistics Services (ALS), a Kuwaiti company providing supplies to the U.S. military in Iraq, he paid a $15,000 bribe to former Lieutenant Markus E. McClain in exchange for favorable official action in the awarding of an extension of a lucrative bus contract to ALS.  Specifically, Lee admitted that, in August 2004, several of his employees met with former Lieutenant McClain at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and offered McClain $15,000 and a Rolex watch in exchange for former Lieutenant McClain’s assistance in getting the contract extension to ALS.  Former Lieutenant McClain ultimately accepted the bribe payment.

During the sentencing hearing, the court also made specific findings that Lee directed the payment of over $1 million in bribes to other Army personnel.

Former Lieutenant McClain previously pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a gratuity, and will be sentenced on Oct. 23, 2015.  In addition, Lee’s son, Justin Lee, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and four counts of bribery for his role in the scheme, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 29, 2015.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and previously was investigated by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John Keller and Richard Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Carter: Vietnam War, Veterans Taught Important Lessons

By Karen Parrish
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 – As the United States and Vietnam mend and strengthen relations, a congressional ceremony here today commemorated a time 50 years ago when the two nations parted ways.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke during the event at Emancipation Hall, addressing congressional leaders and members from both sides of the House and Senate aisles.

Carter’s remarks credited Vietnam veterans with helping the nation recognize and learn the lessons that divisive war taught.

“We honor our 7.2 million living Vietnam-era veterans, their fallen comrades-in-arms, and the families of all who served,” he said. Some of the surviving veterans bear the wounds of war or the wear of age, he added.

While many of those veterans and many families still carry the memories of brothers, sisters, fathers and others who never came home, Carter said, their service has helped to strengthen the nation and its military.

“One of the reasons the United States has excelled is that, as a nation, we learn and innovate,” the secretary said. “And one reason why we have the finest fighting force the world has ever known is that our military is a learning organization.”

Important Lessons Learned

Carter told those assembled that while some of the lessons the Vietnam War taught America were “difficult to swallow,” all have resulted in a better country and a better military.

Two of those lessons, he said, are particularly important.

“First, we leave no one behind,” Carter said, noting other nations share that ethos.

“But there are few that have such a steadfast and sustained commitment. … Thanks in part to Vietnam-era veterans, the Department of Defense has over 650 people devoted to accounting for the missing and searching for, recovering and identifying their remains, including the more than 1,627 still missing from the Vietnam War,” the secretary added.

The second lesson is that the nation must support its warriors, he said, “regardless of our feelings about the war.”

“Unfortunately,” Carter told the audience, “that was a lesson some learned the hard way in the Vietnam era.”

The secretary noted that Vietnam veterans have shown distinctive honor and comradeship to their fellow service members fighting more recent wars.

“I am pleased by … the support for today’s veterans and service members, including the post-9/11 GI Bill, and how our troops today are welcomed home,” he said. “And I want to take this opportunity to thank you, our Vietnam-era veterans, for that lesson, and to again welcome all of you home.”

Carter also spoke about Chuck Hagel, his predecessor as defense secretary, who followed him in remarks at today’s ceremony.

“Chuck Hagel was a soldier, he’s been a senator and a distinguished secretary of defense, and he remains one of our most thoughtful statesmen,” Carter said. “And I’m proud to have been able to call him a friend for many years.”

As a sergeant in Vietnam, Carter related, Hagel led an infantry squad in fighting that followed the Tet Offensive.

“Stories of his bravery and sacrifice there are well known,” the secretary said. “And throughout the rest of his life in public service, Chuck dedicated himself to those who served, to normalizing and improving relations with Vietnam, to bringing home those still missing, and to ensuring we remember the Vietnam War’s lessons.”

2015: Year of Anniversaries, New Agreements

Carter noted that while today’s ceremony honored the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam Service Ribbon, created by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Executive Order 11231, this year also marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

Carter visited Vietnam for official meetings on his latest Asia-Pacific tour in May and June. On June 1 in Hanoi, he and Vietnamese Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh signed a joint vision statement for the two nations’ bilateral defense relationship.

Defense officials said at the time that during his visit, Carter “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region, reiterating the United States' support for a regional architecture that allows all countries in the Asia-Pacific to rise and prosper.”

State-Level Agreement

President Barack Obama and Vietnamese General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong met yesterday at the White House and adopted a national-level joint vision statement.

That document noted “positive and substantive developments in many areas of cooperation over the past 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations.”

The statement acknowledges growth in economic and trade efforts; addressing war legacy issues; and cooperation in science and technology, education, health care, environment and response to climate change, defense, security, human rights, “and increasing regional and international cooperation on issues of mutual concern.”

The statement notes “continued rapid growth in bilateral trade and investment; the entry into force of the ‘123’ Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; Vietnam’s endorsement of the Proliferation Security Initiative’s Statement of Interdiction Principles; the easing of U.S. restriction of arms sales; the signing of the Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations; and increased cooperation on regional and multilateral issues.”

U.S. Role in Vietnam: War on Many Fronts

In American history, “Vietnam War” and “Age of Protest” are two enduring phrases about an era of stark social unrest: political, generational, racial and philosophical tides divided along lines etched by changing attitudes toward civil rights, love and marriage, civic duty and economic systems.

America’s involvement in the war peaked from 1965 to 1975. U.S. troops sent to fight in Vietnam in those years often found themselves on the front lines of not only Southeast Asia, but also the ideological struggle back home.

More than 2 million American service members assigned worldwide during that era were conscripted, or enlisted without choice, under the then-active draft system, which applied to men 18 to 26. The draft offered various exemptions for education and other factors, which partially fueled the era’s rising tensions between “haves” and “have-nots.”

Meanwhile, many American citizens who opposed the war turned against service members returning from Vietnam -- who were frequently shunned, openly insulted or even physically attacked.

Long, Drawn-Out Conflict

The conflict in Vietnam, beginning in the 1940s, involved many nations and may be viewed historically as an outgrowth of World War II. U.S. participation in the war is dated variously, but official sources set America’s role as occurring primarily between 1954 and 1975, involving five separate presidential administrations.

More than 58,000 U.S. troops died in the Vietnam War. U.S. troop commitments to the conflict increased sharply after 1964, peaking at more than a half million in 1968.

D.C. Air National Guard civil engineers deploy to U.S. Guard Academy for training

by Lt. Col. Eric Swanson
113th Civil Engineer Squadron

6/26/2015 - NEW LONDON, Conn. -- A team of 38 Airmen from the District of Columbia Air National Guard's 113th Civil Engineer Squadron conducted a deployment for training at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) in New London, Connecticut, June 14-27.

The Airmen executed a variety of construction, renovation, and maintenance projects in support of the Academy.

"The experience has been nothing short of fantastic for the Coast Guard Academy's Facility Engineering Branch," said Lt. Liam McCue, Construction Project Manager with the academy. "The 113th Wing team has really impressed everyone at the academy, their hard work and positive attitude was contagious and they continued to build upon the impressive reputation that previous ANG units left from the year before. Without their help most of these projects would have been deferred to a contractor or scrapped entirely, so it was a blessing to have the crew of the 113th spend two weeks helping us out."

The DC Airmen completed numerous projects on academy grounds, including installing heaters and drinking fountains, replacing over 35 signposts with decorative cast posts, replacing damaged sections of sidewalks, replacing drop ceilings, and installing new high voltage switchgear and other electrical equipment to upgrade the campus infrastructure. In addition, the team is training and conducting preventive maintenance on several of the many portable and permanent generators used there.

This is the second year of the joint partnership between the USCGA and Air National Guard civil engineer units. In 2014, two ANG units erected a masonry and wood building and installed electrical and plumbing infrastructure for use as a restroom facility adjacent to sports fields. These previous two teams left a lasting impression on the Academy's Facilities Engineering department, which prompted them to request ANG support during 2015. The joint arrangement between the ANG and the USCGA provides a twofold benefit: the ANG gets hands-on training on real-world projects, and the Academy benefits by receiving low cost labor and the ability to execute projects they otherwise would not have the funding to complete. The Coast Guard estimates the overall savings to be close to $250,000.

Set along the banks of the Thames River, the academy provides a different environment for the Air Force civil engineers to enhance their skillsets, while executing value-added projects for the Academy.

"The experience is unique," said Airman 1st Class Sierra Murphy, a 113th Airman on her first CE deployment for training. "It is cool that we are part of the academy for a couple of weeks. I appreciate the experience of being in Connecticut."

Teamwork was widespread with everyone chipping in to complete the projects, while using their individual skills. Many Airmen were able to gain a new perspective of the different career fields within CE for the first time.

"This DFT has given the Power Production Shop a unique opportunity to install a 600 amp transfer switch," said .Staff Sgt. John Simpson, who worked closely with the electricians. "Even though we learn about transfer switches and the way they operate, the electricians would normally do the installation. I am thankful to the academy for giving us this opportunity."

In addition to the construction projects, some members of the team were able to conduct backflow prevention training that covered regulations and requirements for installation and inspection of these systems. Engineering Assistants surveyed for an underground cable installation. Additionally, a number of the 113th Airmen worked closely with the academy's public works section to complete work orders and conduct preventive maintenance.

Overall, the experience has been a very successful training event that has greatly benefited both the 113th Civil Engineer Squadron and the United States Coast Guard Academy. The Airmen of the 113th have improved their skills while learning about the culture and history of the Coast Guard.

Face of Defense: Coast Guardsman Draws Artistic Inspiration from Service

By Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen
Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment Atlantic City, N.J.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., July 8, 2015 – A patriot’s palette comprises more colors than red, white and blue. A vast array of tones is a testament to true devotion to country. One Coast Guardsman in South Jersey shows his true colors and patriotism through the gift of art, a talent he considers a hobby.

Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Lacy, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, has created a work of art that will adorn that boat station’s walls for generations to come. He calls it chart art.

Chart Art

“It’s a pretty traditional practice amongst units to have an artist do chart art,” Lacy said. “It’s typically done by a painter. They’ll take the area of responsibility chart for a unit and use it as a canvas, painting the unit, assets or any kind of prominent landmark that would represent that particular unit.”

Lacy’s chart art shows the station, boats, crewmembers and the Atlantic City skyline, including the Absecon Lighthouse -- the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey. He even included the unit’s old mascot, Nucky the Newfoundland, sitting by the front door.

“It was a good opportunity for me to take advantage of because I hadn’t done any of my art for years, so it was nice to dust off the cobwebs a little bit,” Lacy said.

“The chart art has been a long process for me -- just getting back into it -- but I’m thrilled to do something like this,” he said. “It’s my way of giving back. The idea that it’ll hang on the walls indefinitely makes me feel good. I’m leaving my mark on the unit.”

A Memorial

The chart art isn’t the first time Lacy has blended his hobby with his profession. He drew a portrait of his late brother in-law, Coast Guard Fireman Michael Bovill, who was killed July 16, 2010, in an off-duty motorcycle accident. Bovill, who served at Coast Guard Station Eaton’s Neck, New York, was an organ donor who went on to posthumously save five lives. He was 23 years old.

“As I worked on the drawing and it started to come alive, so to speak, it was more and more exciting for me,” Lacy said. “I was thrilled to present it to his family and see how much joy it brought them. I did it because I wanted to do something nice for the family and give them something to honor Michael’s service.”

Lacy said the chart art is his way of giving back to his unit, but his Coast Guard service is his way of giving back to his country.

Patriotism Through Service

“I think a patriot is somebody who recognizes the sacrifices that have been made for their freedom,” Lacy said. “I consider myself a patriot in the sense that my grandfather served in World War II as an Air Force fighter pilot, my brother’s in the Navy and here I am in the United States Coast Guard. Serving our country to the capacity of the armed forces is my way of giving back to the country that’s given so much to so many people and to [me].

“I love being an American,” he added. “I was blessed to have been born in this beautiful country. Being grateful and never forgetting sacrifices that have been made for us to live the way we do —- that’s patriotism to me.”

Lt. Cmdr. C.K. Moore, the commanding officer of Station Atlantic City, said the final artwork far exceeded his expectations.

“I know Lacy’s talent and I know his ability,” Moore said. “This chart art is the best work I’ve seen him do, and I’ve seen him do some great stuff. What he had to do to put this all together is pretty interesting, so I’m really proud of how this turned out.”

Lacy’s artwork was digitally scanned, so for years to come, departing members of the unit will receive a print of the chart art to remember their service at Station Atlantic City.