Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dwell time, PT exemptions for new AF mothers increase to 1 year

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, / Published July 14, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The six-month deferment for female Airmen to accomplish their fitness assessments following childbirth will be increased to 12 months to align with recent changes to the deployment deferments, Air Force officials announced July 14.

The deployment deferment policy, as part of the Air Force’s 2015 Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, increases the deferment from deployment, short tour or dependent-restricted assignment, and temporary duty to one year, unless waived by the service member.

“The goal is to alleviate the strain on some of our talented Airmen who choose to leave the Air Force as they struggle to balance deployments and family issues, and this is especially true soon after childbirth," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.

The one-year deferment applies to female Airmen who gave birth on or after the effective date of March 6, 2015, to provide predictability with minimal disruption to Airmen and the deployment process.

As dwell times for deployment, permanent change of station and TDY increase, so too will the exemption from the current fitness assessment for female Airmen following pregnancies lasting 20 weeks or more (delivery, miscarriage, etc.). The service does not anticipate significant mission or readiness impacts associated with extending this action.

“Like many other programs announced earlier this year, such as the Career Intermission Program, we recognize the potential retention benefits associated with providing our female Airmen options that allow them to serve and support their family without having to choose one over the other,” James said.

Air Force Guidance Memorandums will be available detailing the changes to both policies in the coming weeks.

The Air Force continues to research opportunities, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, to extend the maternity and convalescent leave period, similar to the recent changes announced by the Secretary of the Navy.

Airmen currently receive six weeks (42 days) of maternity leave, in line with the Department of Defense policy. By direction of the President, federal agencies can advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees with a new child.

“We want to make sure we develop an equitable policy that supports all of our Airmen and also maintains the ability to execute our mission,” James said.

AF releases SSIP results to DOD contractors

By Senior Airman Hailey Haux, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information / Published July 14, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Today, the Department of the Air Force announced its top performing industry partners for 2015. This is the second annual ranking released as part of the Defense Department's Superior Supplier Incentive Program.

SSIP is designed to incentivize contractor performance by identifying suppliers with the highest rankings in terms of cost, schedule, performance, quality, and business relations. Its publication is intended to incentivize suppliers to improve performance.

"The feedback the department provides to industry through the Superior Supplier (Incentive) Program is intended to allow our suppliers to benchmark their major business units against other firms,” said Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “It lets the leadership and employees of the best performing firms know that their work is high quality and appreciated, and it helps the firms that have more room to improve know where they need to focus their efforts."

SSIP uses performance data gathered through the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System to rate the 25 largest companies doing business with each of the three services based on contract obligations, and categorizes their business segments into one of three performance tiers, with "Tier I" being the best.

Last year was the first year the SSIP was brought to life as part of Kendall’s Better Buying Power initiative. The Air Force joined the other services in releasing results that validated and in some cases, surprised industry.

“I (would) say the first year was very successful,” said Bobby Smart, the deputy assistant secretary for Acquisition Integration. “We gained industries’ attention, but we also gained their confidence that we’re trying to create an environment to communicate with them and set up a series of metrics that we could all measure and understand to gauge their performance against their competitors and continually improve.”

SSIP has several objectives in order for it to be successful: improve productivity, publicly acknowledge performance and provide incentives, and continuously improve suppliers’ performance.

Broken into three tiers, 45 business sectors were rated based on a set of metrics established by the Army, Navy and Air Force.

“We got with the Army and Navy and have started to standardize how we are implementing the program so that all the comparisons across the entire Department (of Defense) are the same,” Smart said. “That has been a real, in my mind, important lesson we have learned in the first year, and a lesson that we are trying to apply to make the program better and fairer so (suppliers) understand what it is that we are measuring against.

“I believe, over time, we will have a better assessment of our companies when we start to see trends,” Smart said. “It’s really hard just in the first year to look at how the companies ranked and know if that’s really a true assessment of the contribution they are making. If we look at trends over time, we will have a better view of how our companies are performing.”

Once the foundation is set, Smart said he hopes the program will continue to grow as time goes on, to include other contracts.

“In a time of stable or declining budgets, we have to come up with ways to incentivize our industry partners in a positive way, so they have a priority of maximizing our defense dollars,” Smart said. “In today’s environment, we absolutely have to convey to them that we must maximize the productivity from every defense dollar that we have and our contractors know that, and I think that’s why they have embraced this in such a positive way. It’s a win-win for the companies and for the Department of Defense.”

Adjutant General presents homeland security strategy

July 14, 2015
Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs

MADISON, Wis. — The state’s revised homeland security strategy should be seen as a roadmap that guides state and local response to such potential hazards as cyber attacks, asymmetric or terrorist threats, and catastrophic incidents as well as sustaining response capabilities already developed.

That’s according to Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and Gov. Scott Walker’s homeland security advisor. In the latter role, Dunbar chairs Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Council, comprised of representatives from 16 state agencies and first responder organizations.

“This strategy is Wisconsin’s homeland security keystone document,” Dunbar said during an official presentation ceremony July 10 in the governor’s conference room at the state capitol. “It’s a core document, the foundation on which the rest of our plans and programs will be built upon.”

Dunbar said state government has a clear responsibility to protect the state network and respond to cyber incidents. The revised strategy focuses on improving Wisconsin’s cyber response capabilities, developing a cyber disruption strategy and creating a cyber liaison office program.

“We think there’s quite a bit of ingenuity in our plan,” Dunbar said. “On the cyber front, the cyber disruption plan, we’re going to collaborate with all the critical infrastructure lead companies that will partner with us and try to figure out if something happens to a particular critical infrastructure area, what might be needed in terms of supporting them, and to build the right capabilities here in the state to end the disruption as soon as possible.”
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Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and the governor's appointed Homeland Security advisor, presented a Homeland Security Strategy to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch during a brief ceremony July 10 in the governor's conference room at the state capitol. The strategy identifies four priorities — three potential hazards as well as sustaining already developed capabilities — with subordinate goals and objectives. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Vaughn R. Larson

Click To View High-Resolution Photo
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and the governor's appointed Homeland Security advisor, presented a Homeland Security Strategy to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch during a brief ceremony July 10 in the governor's conference room at the state capitol. The strategy identifies four priorities — three potential hazards as well as sustaining already developed capabilities — with subordinate goals and objectives. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Vaughn R. Larson

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who accepted the strategy on behalf of Walker, noted that there were 60 million cyber attacks on private and public agencies in Wisconsin last month.

“It’s an incredibly serious threat, and we need to address it,” she said.

Dunbar described cyber attacks as asymmetric threats that are more challenging to respond to — in large part to how new the threat is.

“With a tornado or a flood, we have well-developed muscle movements on how to respond,” Dunbar said. “Not to minimize the severity that a tornado can cause, but we know what to do when a tornado happens. We haven’t gone through a big cyber event, and every indication is something is going to happen down that lane.”

Mark Michie, the Joint Staff vice chief of staff, said the Wisconsin National Guard is building a Cyber Network Defense team, which will begin training next year.

The revised homeland security strategy’s second priority focuses on preventing and responding to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-explosive (CBRNE) events, infectious disease incidents and “agro-terror” events that could devastate the state and its economy.

The strategy’s third priority focuses on natural or man-made catastrophic incident response and recovery.

“In a catastrophic event, local and state resources can be overwhelmed, and there may be a significant threat to life and property,” Dunbar explained. “It’s important to plan for high consequence, low probability events in order to protect our community and enable a deliberate and full recovery following a disaster. This plan seeks to script our response during the critical first 72 hours after an event, to expand on regional collaboration and improve resilience through the long-term recovery plan.”

In previous years, Wisconsin has invested federal Homeland Security grants to develop response and mitigation capabilities. The final priority of the state’s revised homeland security strategy is to sustain those capabilities.

“We know these are very austere fiscal times,” Kleefisch said, “and we know you had to spend a good amount of time deciding where exactly [federal funds] would be allocated. We know those funds have been appropriated exactly where they are most needed — the local level, and at the tribal level, working with your first responders, the police department, sheriff’s offices and municipalities and counties across the state.”

The Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff has developed a five-year revolving plan to prepare for the hazards identified by Wisconsin Emergency Management’s Threat Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA) — floods, tornadoes, snowstorms, wildfires, cyber attacks, terrorism, CBRNE, pandemics and agro-terror events. Operation Plans have been developed for each contingency, which allows the Joint Staff to identify the appropriate assets quickly and place the right Wisconsin National Guard members on state orders.

“We call it ‘speed through preparedness,’” said Col. Julie Gerety, the Joint Staff operations, plans and training officer.

The state homeland security strategy is updated every four years, following each gubernatorial election, and is informed by public comment.

“Part of the point of revising the plan and revisiting how we sustain our current collaborative relationships that resource this is there are new threats that emerge every single day,” Kleefisch said. “The threats today are certainly not the threats from our childhoods, so we need to make sure we’re prepared for what comes in the future. Part of our plan is anticipating the future, being prepared for whatever may come.”

“We think this is a well thought-out plan,” Dunbar added. “It’s not going to solve all our problems or build walls that make us impenetrable, but it will give us good places to start and be better prepared when the inevitable will happen.”