Thursday, April 30, 2020

U.S. Must Prepare for Current, Future Pandemics

April 30, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the United States must bolster its medical-industrial base to deal with both the current pandemic, a potential resurgence in the fall and any pandemics that may come in the future, the Defense Department's undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment said.

"How much longer are we going to be cranking out the masks? For a very long time," Ellen M. Lord said during a news conference today at the Pentagon.

Lord told reporters she expects the department and the nation will be battling COVID-19 for six months to a year or more, and she has several materiel-related objectives being prepared for that continued fight.

"We need to take care of the demand we have right now that started with medical personnel," she said. "But we need the country to get back to work, and that is going to require some personal protective equipment that includes masks. So, No. 1, we have to bridge beyond nonmedical personnel PPE, and masks are very significant."

As part of an ongoing effort to equip service members with PPE, she said, the Defense Logistics Agency continues to work with the military services to get them what ithey need. She said the agency has procured more than 5.9 million N95 respirator masks, 14.2 million nonmedical and surgical masks, 92.2 million exam gloves, 2.4 million isolation and surgical gowns and 8,000 ventilators.

"Delivery of over 5 million nonmedical cloth face coverings to our military services, combatant commands, U.S. Coast Guard and several federal agencies has begun," she said.

For the nation as a whole, she said, it'll also be necessary to refill the national U.S. stockpile of personal protective equipment.

"Then we need to look forward to what the data is telling us — that there may well be another significant outbreak this fall. We want to be prepared for that," Lord said.

Two women put masks into plastic bags. In the foreground are cardboard boxes filled with individually wrapped masks.

Also important, she said, is being prepared for the next pandemic that might come in the future.

"We see this as an ongoing issue, both within the Defense Department — because we need to not only support the nation with everything we're doing with Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency — but we have our primary mission here of national security, and we have to be ready to go ahead and do that."

While HHS and FEMA have the infrastructure and the overall mission of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, DOD, with its sizable acquisition workforce, has the ability to surge the medical-industrial base. She said the industrial base, however, may need some changes if it's going to be ready to address future pandemics.

"We've learned that we've had fragility in it on a number of fronts," she said. "We were overly dependent on foreign sources; we still have the air bridge working to bring all kinds of medical resources back to the United States. So, we need to make sure that we have security and resiliency in our medical-industrial base."

Lord said the DOD acquisition apparatus can help ensure the medical-industrial base has both the capacity and capability to provide for both the current medical crisis and future crises.

"What I would like to see is the U.S. have the capacity and throughput to take care of ourselves in times of need," she said.

USTRANSCOM Awards Global Household Goods Contract

April 30, 2020

U.S. Transportation Command, on behalf of the Department of Defense, awarded American Roll On Roll Off Carrier Group, Inc., (ARC), Parsippany, New Jersey, a Fixed-Price with Economic Price Adjustments, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contract in the amount of $7,211,331,984 in the procurement of the Global Household Goods Contract on April 30, 2020.

“DOD families are our North Star and the reason we are making this change to the Defense Personal Property Program,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Lyons, commander, USTRANSCOM. “The contract was written by and for the Military Services, and addresses long-standing pain points DOD families have highlighted for years.”

The GHC is one aspect of a broader DOD reform plan to improve the relocation process for DOD families and integrates functions currently performed by hundreds of commercial entities. It will improve access to, and management of, quality capacity to meet peak demand and enable the Department to affix the accountability and responsibility lacking in today’s program. The government will continue to maintain ordering of services and an accountability program for contractor performance.

“To be clear,” said Gen. Lyons, “the DOD will never relinquish responsibility for household goods shipments.”

The DOD has outlined a deliberate transition approach to operations under this contract, and the contract award is simply the first step in this journey. USTRANSCOM and ARC will spend the next nine months integrating IT systems and processes, with the first move under the contract planned for February 2021; ARC will be postured to handle 100% of shipments in the continental U.S. during the 2021 ‘Peak Season.’  Transition work will resume in October 2021, with ARC managing 100% of planned workload (domestic and international) in time for the 2022 Peak Season.

Once implemented, customers can expect improved communication throughout the moving process; professional movers delivering improved service standards ‘at the curb;’ clear accountability when things go wrong; and streamlined claims processes in the event of loss, damage, or inconvenience.

To accomplish the requirements of the contract, ARC has partnered with a group of principal subcontractors to carry out the moves and will ensure a minimum of 40% of the total acquisition value of the domestic work performed flows down to small businesses.

“Small businesses are—and will remain—the backbone of this program,” said Rick Marsh, director of the Defense Personal Property Program at USTRANSCOM. “If a company delivers a quality product in today’s program, there is room for them in tomorrow’s. Their capacity will remain critical as long as DOD moves personnel and their families around the globe.”

 “The DOD is the largest consumer of household goods services—restructuring our relationship with industry in this manner lets us raise the standard of service for DOD families. ARC brings tremendous capability to the table and they’ve built an impressive coalition of industry leaders to generate the quality capacity this program requires,” said Marsh. “Once we’ve transitioned into the contract, DOD families will see improved customer service and more professional processes and interactions with the movers that serve them. ARC will also introduce some pretty powerful digital tools—the kind of simple, modern tools we demand in every aspect of our personal lives, but that DOD cannot independently deliver to the moving process.”

“Throughout my career, I’ve been disappointed with what the Defense Personal Property Program does to families,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason France, Command Senior Enlisted Leader for USTRANSCOM. “Today, I’m confident that the Defense Personal Property Program will deliver the care and service they deserve in the coming years.”

While USTRANSCOM looks forward to delivering capabilities under the Global Household Goods Contract, the command remains focused on delivering a quality experience for customers moving under the current program. All shipments in 2020 will move under the existing program.  DOD personnel can visit for more tools and information to help them prepare for their upcoming move.

This acquisition was openly competed and seven offers were received.  After considering and discussing each competing proposal, USTRANSCOM selected ARC because their proposal provided the best service for the best value for Service members, DoD civilians, and their families.

USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the Joint Force, we advance American interests around the globe, and we provide our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.

Defense Officials Tout Progress in Fight Against Sexual Assault

April 30, 2020 | BY JIM GARAMONE , DOD News

The Defense Department is making progress in combating sexual assault and harassment in the military, DOD officials said in announcing the release of the department's annual report on sexual assault in the military for fiscal year 2019.

Officials said they are encouraged because the rate of reporting sexual assaults has risen 3%. This may seem counterintutitive, but it does indicate progress, Nate Galbreath, the acting director of DOD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said.

In fiscal 2019, there were 6,236 reports from service members on sexual assaults, up from 6,053 in fiscal 2018. Still, Galbreath said, he cannot say that the rate of the crime dropped, because the department did not conduct a survey this year to assess the prevalence of sexual assault, and the crimes tend to be underreported. That survey is happening now.

"Sexual assault remains an underreported crime, both in the military and in the U.S. population writ large," he said. The department uses the 2018 data to estimate that just under 15,000 instances of sexual assault take place in the military over a year.

A service member who experiences a sexual assault and wants to report it has two options — a restricted report or an unrestricted report. "We generally view more reporting of the crime as a positive thing, because it helps us connect victims to services," Galbreath said. "It also helps us and gives us a chance to hold offenders appropriately accountable."

More reporting is good because it means more of the victims have confidence in the systems put in place, he added.

When surveyed, service members believe the situation is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly, he said. First responders — SAPRO professionals, law enforcement personnel and others surveyed for the first time — said that the impetus is coming from senior leaders. Now, they said, the effort needs to concentrate on midlevel enlisted personnel — those most closely allied with troops.

These young leaders need to model the correct behavior, because they are the individuals most likely to set expectations and foster a good unit climate, Galbreath said.

“Enlisted members in these grades are at a relatable age to younger members and are believed to exemplify desired standards of proficiency, knowledge and effectiveness," the report states. "Participants believed these individuals … are uniquely positioned to lead young, enlisted members due to their frequent workplace interaction."

Punishing the perpetrators is one aspect that needs to be pursued, but stopping the problem is the ultimate goal for DOD, the acting director said. "As we go into the world of prevention — and we really do build out a system of prevention in the Department of Defense — we need greater and more empowered workforce to be able to do that," he said. "And in addition to that, we need an additional set of metrics to ensure that we are … moving the needle on this problem."

DOD's focus is on military climate and culture. The shorthand is that good leaders make good units, officials said, noting that units that are respectful and healthy reduce the risk of sexual assault.

It is not an easy fix, and much needs to come together to get at this problem, Galbreath said. DOD addresses the bane of sexual assault holistically with prevention, prosecution, aid to victims and more as the integral parts of the solution, he added.