Military News

Friday, April 10, 2009

National Guard Prepares for 2009 Hurricane Season

By Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - With the start of hurricane season only a few months away, the National Guard is busy preparing to respond if such a storm should make landfall, senior Army officials said during an Army bloggers roundtable yesterday. Those preparations include a large-scale command post exercise scheduled for April 14-15 at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"It's an exercise that will have over 150 participants from all the inter-agencies, all the other portions of the Army, to include many of the National Guard [leaders in] states that are affected by hurricanes," said Army Maj. Gen. John Basilica Jr., commander of Operational Command Post 1, Army North, which oversees domestic operations.

"We do that rehearsal of concept to try and synchronize all of our collective efforts," the general explained. "It is a complex operation, and then we learn from them and finalize our plans leading up to the hurricane season."

For the states, hurricane season is just another contingency to plan for each year.

"About five years ago, we started meeting as a region in the southeast to discuss our shortfalls for units that were activating and mobilizing to go overseas as well as units coming back," said Army Col. Bill Beiswenger, the joint operations officer for the Florida National Guard. "For those shortfalls that we couldn't meet within our respective states, we went ahead and worked out preliminary EMACs — Emergency Management Agreement Compacts — between the states that we could bring in forces rapidly."

And that planning conference has grown, Beiswenger said.

"This year, we went ahead and took it one step further," he said. "We had 27 states represented at the conference. It was a three-day long conference, and we went through all our states' worst-case scenarios, and then we discussed our shortfalls and what assets we could provide across state lines as necessary."

For those in the Florida National Guard, those response plans have been refined over the years.

"We probably get more chance than anyone to exercise hurricane operations," Beiswenger said. "Since 1992, with Hurricane Andrew, the Florida National Guard has been activated 70 times [for state missions]. So, Florida gets a lot of chance to go ahead and rehearse and work actual operations."

That means that should a hurricane make landfall and cause damage, the response is almost second-nature for those in the Florida National Guard. It also means that training for such an occurrence is almost a year-round event.

"The minute hurricane season ends, we start our training program," Beiswenger said. "And we go through a multitude of training, everything from search and rescue to training our liaison officers that we put out in the county emergency operations centers. In turn, when we get ready for hurricane season, we're able to come together."

That allows for a seamless ability to get in where help is needed, Beiswenger said, adding that experience from previous storms has taught the Guardsmen a few lessons.

"We feel that with our experience, the citizens are going to need certain things," Beiswenger said. "They're going to need food, water and ice. They're going to need search and rescue, so we go in there, and our first forces in there are going to be able to go ahead and start fulfilling that."

That also means working hand-in-hand with state and local officials.

"During Katrina, Florida provided almost 7,000 folks up to Mississippi to assist in the four southernmost counties up there," Beiswenger said. "About 700 to 900 were National Guard; the rest was made up of first responders from across the state of Florida."

Forecasters are predicting 2009 to be an "above average" year for hurricanes, and the Guard will be ready to respond to those storms, Beiswenger said.

"We're all part of one team out there, and our main mission out there is to protect the life and property of our citizens," he said. "We're prepared to step up to the plate as needed throughout the year."

(Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

Circus Salutes Military Children, Families

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus invited more than 300 military families to their show at the Patriot Center here last night for "thrills and chills" under the big top in recognition of the Month of the Military Child. "This is so important, because the kids serve alongside their parents," circus spokesman Bob Swaney said. "The kids go through deployments and meeting new friends when their military parents are constantly moving. They deal with a lot, and they take it all in stride. Tonight is especially for them."

Ringling Bros. hosted the children of veterans and currently serving troops from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the Believe in Tomorrow's Children Foundation, Our Military Kids, the National Military Family Association and the Coast Guard Morale, Well-being and Recreation Program.

The lead Ringling elephant, endowed with her military dog tags, joined the children for photos in the center ring as the Military District of Washington Armed Forces Color Guard kicked off the night's festivities.

The National Military Family Association selected 12-year-old Camden Doerer from northern Virginia to be guest ringmaster for the performance. The sixth grader is the son of Army Col. Robert Doerer, a helicopter pilot currently assigned in Germany who has been deployed to Iraq several times. The family plans to join him in Germany in June.

"This is a great experience," Camden said. "I'm here representing the Army, my dad and other kids like me. I can't wait to see him later this summer."

Joining Camden at the circus were his mother, Tammy, younger sister, Casey, and other relatives.

"I am so happy the National Military Family Association did this for the kids," Tammy Doerer said. "They deserve it. The free tickets were just a great gesture. We are looking forward to joining my husband later this year."

After his guest ringmaster duties, Camden received a certificate in front of the crowd from ringmaster Chuck Wagner.

"We would like to salute our very special guests at this evening's performance of the Greatest Show on Earth," Wagner said. "April is The Month of the Military Child, and we extend a warm welcome to all the children of our armed forces."

Wagner urged the audience to continue showing appreciation to the nation's servicemembers and their families in their everyday lives.

"The next time you see a member of our armed forces in uniform, please look them in the eyes and tell them, 'Thank you for your service to America,'" he said.

Active-Duty, Reserve Components Meet Recruiting Goals

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - All 10 active-duty and reserve military components met or exceeded their recruiting goals in March, with the Marine Corps adding the highest percentage of active-duty members, Defense Department officials announced today. The Army Reserve led the reserve components, and all four active departments met or exceeded their March retention goals.

"Recruiting continues to be strong in all military departments," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

Data published on the Defense Department Web site shows that the Marine Corps goal was to add 1,411 new Marines, which it exceeded by 43 percent, recruiting a total of 2,017. The Army Reserve outperformed its goal of 3,445 by 38 percent, adding 4,771 soldiers.

Here is a breakdown of the other components:

-- Active-duty Army: 6,548 accessions with a goal of 6,425, for 102 percent;

-- Active-duty Navy: 2,857 accessions with a goal of 2,857, for 100 percent;

-- Active-duty Air Force: 2,748 accessions with a goal of 2,745, for 100 percent;

-- Army National Guard: 6,255 accessions with a goal of 4,974, for 126 percent;

-- Navy Reserve: 654 accessions with a goal of 654, for 100 percent;

-- Marine Corps Reserve: 579 accessions with a goal of 566, for 102 percent;

-- Air National Guard: 933 accessions with a goal of 840, for 111 percent; and

-- Air Force Reserve: 825 accessions with a goal of 825, for 100 percent.

Pentagon Official Mum on Pirate Hostage Details

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - A senior Pentagon spokesman today declined to provide details on the ongoing situation involving a U.S. maritime captain being held hostage by pirates in a small boat adrift off the coast of Somalia. "There will be a point in time where we can be fully forthcoming with what the military role was and our thinking on it, and why we did what we did, Bryan Whitman told reporters. "That time is not right now."

The paramount concern of all agencies involved is obtaining the safe return of the hostage, Whitman said.

Armed pirates attacked the cargo ship Maersk Alabama about 300 miles off the Somali coast on April 8. The unarmed ship's 20-member American crew eventually regained control of the vessel, but the captain offered himself as a hostage to forestall violence.

The captain and his four pirate captors continue to share a small boat that's adrift in open sea. Whitman said there is "no information to suggest the ship's captain has been physically harmed."

The Navy is monitoring the situation, Whitman said, noting that at least two vessels, the destroyer USS Bainbridge and the guided-missile frigate USS Halyburton, are now in the vicinity.

"I'm not going to comment on other resources that might join in this effort, beyond the Halyburton and the Bainbridge, at this point," Whitman said.

VA Secretary Embraces 'Personal Calling' of Serving Veterans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki is a no-nonsense leader who wants veterans to measure his performance and that of the department he leads through concrete results, not rhetoric. "Veterans have been given a lot of promises over a bunch of years, and I have assured them that they should measure us by our accomplishments, not just the promises," Shinseki told American Forces Press Service. "We have some things to deliver."

Less than two months into the job, Shinseki is focused on transforming VA into a "people-centric, results-oriented and forward-looking" department.

"We have committed to putting veterans at the focal point of all that we do here," he said. "There is only one reason we exist, and that is to ensure that our veterans who have earned benefits and services get them quickly – and that it is accessible to them, it is logical, it is fair and consistent."

For Shinseki, a 38-year soldier who retired in 2003 as Army chief of staff, the mission is extremely personal.

Many of the veterans he now serves were "the truly unbelievable heroes of World War II" who returned from Europe and the Pacific to provide leadership for the United States, including the military, he said. "We all stand on their shoulders," Shinseki said. "We do things today professionally that they taught us how to do."

But other veterans under VA's charge served alongside Shinseki or under his command -- in Vietnam and elsewhere during his military career. For others, Shinseki was the one who issued the deployment orders that sent them into harm's way.

"So this is an opportunity for me to give back to the ones I went to war with, and the men and women I sent to war," he said. "It's a way to give back, and I am honored to have that opportunity."

Shinseki's vision of giving back to America's veterans got a solid endorsement yesterday as President Barack Obama, flanked by Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, reiterated his commitment to the nation's veterans.

As Obama announced a new joint virtual lifetime electronic record that will improve care and services to transitioning veterans by smoothing the flow of medical records between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, the president recognized the debt the country owes its servicemembers and veterans.

"We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America," he said. "It's a commitment that begins in enlistment, and it must never end." But for too long, the United States has fallen short of that commitment, he added.

"Too many wounded warriors go without the care that they need," he said. "Too many veterans don't receive the support that they've earned. Too many who once wore our nation's uniform now sleep in our nation's streets.

"It's time to change all that," he continued. "It's time to give our veterans a 21st-century VA."

Obama said his fiscal 2010 budget request, which represents the largest single-year increase in VA funding in three decades, will help achieve that goal. "All told, we will increase funding by $25 billion over the next five years," he said.

"This is the largest budget request ever put forward by a president," Shinseki told American Forces Press Service. "And I think veterans should take great confidence in our president's commitment to veterans" – a commitment he said Obama has maintained consistently as a member of the Senate Affairs Committee, as a presidential candidate, and now as commander in chief.

Congress, too, has strongly supported additional VA funding during the past two years, Shinseki said.

"So I am pretty optimistic about this budget," he said. "The dialogue has already begun with key members of Congress."

In an open letter to veterans after taking office, Shinseki said VA's "best days as an organization to support veterans are ahead of us."

"We will fulfill President Lincoln's charge to care for 'him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan' by redesigning and re-engineering ourselves for the future," he wrote.

"I look forward to working together with all VA employees to transform our department into an organization that reflects the change and commitment our country expects and our veterans deserve.”

New 'eMagazine' Keeps Servicemembers, Families in the Know

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - All the support programs in the world won't do any good if no one knows about them, so the Defense Department's principal director for military community and family policy started the office's new "eMagazine." "What I found when I came up here was they have great programs and so forth, but they didn't tell people what was available," said Arthur Myers, who assumed his post in January. "So we started with a weekly activity report. That had such great response I said, 'Let's do a magazine where we can show all of our activities.'"

The eMagazine made its debut April 1. Originally slated to be a quarterly publication, the new magazine got such a great response, Myers said, that he already has decided to adjust the production schedule. The next edition will publish June 1.

The content for each eMagazine will largely depend on the time of the year, he added.

"This is the Month of the Military Child, so you want to focus on that," Myers said. "As issues come up, that's what we decide to put on there."

With links to the office's programs and activities, the eMagazine will focus on different issues, including a new campaign for exceptional family members. It also will focus on areas of continuous interest to military members and their families.

For instance, this issue features a story on a new YMCA benefit for military personnel and their families who don't have convenient access to a military installation and the support systems they provide. In fact, that benefit spurred a reader to e-mail Myers and tell him of her experience. She said her husband won't recognize her when he returns from deployment. She's lost 25 pounds thanks to the free YMCA membership.

The publication also will feature articles that servicemembers and their families will find helpful in planning moves to new duty assignments.

Other content will come from reader feedback. For example, Myers said, the staff will consider what kinds of information servicemembers and their families are seeking from Military OneSource, a resource for overall life assistance, or what they're looking at on the military community and family policy office's Military Homefront Web page.

Each military departments will have a page, Myers said, with the hope that they'll help to ensure the right people receive the eMagazine. The potential distribution list includes all members of the military, including National Guardsmen and reservists, family, friends, retirees, and other interested parties.

The military community and family policy staff were skeptical about the original weekly updates, Myers said, but the staff is enthused about the eMagazine. In fact, he said, he occasionally has to figure out which pieces he's going to cut from one eMagazine and try to work into another. Myers said he doesn't want the eMagazine to be so big that people won't want to read it. But if it's readable, and if people ask for it to grow just a little, he said, he'd be perfectly happy.

Developing System Gives Hope to Improved Battlefield Communications

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - Having a conversation interrupted by a lost cell phone signal is annoying. But for those serving in a combat zone, losing connectivity can be deadly. A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program is well on its way toward developing a system that prevents disruptions in communication signals, and when they do occur, ensures the message doesn't disappear into never-never-land.

DARPA launched the Disruption Tolerant Networking program three years ago to eliminate dropped messages that occur due to interference in the communication path, explained Preston Marshall, the program manager.

Interruptions can be caused by anything from a metal vehicle or building to terrain features that that block satellite signal paths – all common factors on the battlefield, he noted.

The concept originated with NASA, where engineers explored ways to deal with interplanetary communications in highly unpredictable circumstances. But DARPA saw military applications, too.

The challenge, Marshall explained, is that Internet technology was built around the assumption that "everyone is connected to cable modems and that they are underneath 1,000-foot cell towers."

That's hardly the case for combat troops. "In the military, our soldiers are talking between radios that are very close to the ground, and a 10-foot berm on the ground looks like a mountain," he said.

Marshall and his DARPA team members encounter the same phenomenon when they operate at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. – an Army base where the word "hill" is a bit of a stretch. "When we drive around Fort A.P. Hill, we lose satellite signals about 25 percent of the time, just because of the trees on the side of the roads," he said.

"Similarly, if I am a soldier doing a Web page or updating Blue Force tracking data, and I walk behind a metal building or get into a metal vehicle, that can be enough to break my connection for 10 or 20 seconds," he said.

Those few seconds can stop a message in its tracks – with potentially life-or-death consequences. That's because when traditional networks run up against these disruptions, they simply drop the signal. The intended recipient never gets the communication, and neither the sender nor receiver realizes it.

Not so with DTN, which Marshall said will hold onto the message and deliver it at the first opportunity. "In DTN, if the network can't deliver it right away, it doesn't throw it away. If I give something to a DTN and then I disconnect, DTN will continue to march it across the network and get it delivered for me," he said.

"It takes responsibility for the material until it delivers it – just like the Postal Service," he said. "So it's a very common-sense way to run networks."

That capability could be a lifesaver for combat troops who depend on reliable communications. "It can be the difference in ensuring the tactical edge," Marshall said.

The DTN program has made steady progress, with the technology proving itself out in two field demonstrations replicating combat conditions. It's currently in its third and final phase of development, after which the military services will assess it and determine if they want to adopt it, Marshall said.

The Army already has agreed to buy about 300 low-cost hand-held radios built around DTN technology. If the system performs as expected in the operational environment, the Army is expected to buy large quantities.

Ultimately, Marshall expects to see broad, almost across-the-board application of DTN that brings more dependable communications to front-line troops.

"If you are sitting in a command center, you have got lots of fiber and you don't need DTN," he said. "DTN is for the guy on the edge who has one path back that is competing with lots of other applications and being blocked as he goes behind vehicles. That's where this effort is focused: on the tactical edge."

VA Nursing Academy Expands to 15 Universities, Medical Facilities

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - Five collegiate nursing programs yesterday became the newest partners in a Veterans Affairs Department initiative to bring more nurses into the national work force and improve the quality of health care veterans receive, the director of the VA's Nursing Academy pilot program told American Forces Press Service today. In a telephone interview, Linda D. Johnson said the partnerships address the national shortage of nurses that's been a major concern of health care providers for several years. Since 2000, hospitals throughout the country have reported annual nursing shortages, but more than 100,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools during the same time, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nurses.

The main reason for applicants being turned away is a lack of educators, said Johnson, who has a doctorate in nursing and more than 40 years of experience in the military and VA health care systems.

Surveys of nursing schools with bachelor's degree programs show that as many as 75 percent of the nation's nursing schools have faculty shortages that prevent them from increasing enrollment, she said.

"There's just not enough room in the classrooms to facilitate all the qualified applicants," she said.

The five-year pilot program began in 2007 with four universities to develop data and research in an attempt to counter the shortage. VA officials believed offering additional funding and faculty for increased student enrollment would make a positive impact, Johnson said.

In 2008, six more universities, with their local VA hospitals, were selected to participate in the program. The latest partnerships the VA established are with:

-- Western Carolina University in Asheville, N.C.;

-- University of Alabama at Birmingham, Ala.;

-- University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu;

-- Pace University in New York; and

-- Waynesburg University in Pittsburgh.

Each of the 15 schools now in the program was competitively selected through a formal proposal request, in which VA officials gave points based on the schools' past relationships with local VA facilities, their perception of the schools' commitment to VA, how they intended to increase learning and improve education practices, and commitment by the local VA faculty.

"We didn't just choose the school," Johnson explained. "We chose the VA hospital as well. We looked at the commitment by the VA and the facility leadership to support a culture of excellence in nursing education because we really want it to be a great environment for people to learn."

The requires each school to increase enrollment by 20 students in its first year, and then by 40 every year after. The partner VA hospital provides five faculty members the first year, and 10 each following year. The VA faculty teaches classes and supervises hands-on, clinical learning at the VA hospital, she said.

The program's budget is around $59 million for the five years, Johnson said. By fiscal 2012, when the pilot is scheduled to end, at least an additional 1,000 nurses will be licensed, while 440 new faculty positions will have been opened between the 15 nursing schools, she added.

Although the program will produce more nurses nationwide, Johnson said, VA officials hope to attract nurses for employment at VA facilities. She said she hopes students will value and enjoy their clinical experiences with the VA, while the VA nursing school faculty will appreciate the new opportunities within the VA system.

Johnson added that even if faculty members and graduates decide to seek private-sector employment, they'll still benefit from their VA experience. VA officials believe a large portion of the nation's veterans seek health care outside the VA system, and the nurses still will have a better understanding of what it takes to care for the nation's veterans because of their prior experiences, she said.

"Recruitment of the graduates is a focus of the program, but not all the students are going to come to the VA," Johnson said. "When those nurses who have some clinical experience in the VA interact with veterans in the private sector, we hope they'll have a better understanding of who is a veteran and what makes them unique and what kinds of experience they have that makes them different from everybody else."

As the program approaches its halfway point, the first set of schools is finishing up its second year in the program. Although Johnson remains hopeful, she said, it's too early to determine the program's fate.

"We don't have enough data yet, at this point," she said. "But what we're already seeing is substantial increases in recruitment of students that come to the VA, so I don't think we're going to have any difficulty demonstrating the success of it. We'll just have to see."


BAE Systems Land & Armaments, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., is being awarded a $47,209,920 firm fixed priced modification to previously awarded delivery order #0006 under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5025) for field service representatives and instructors to support Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Work will be performed in Iraq, and is expected to be completed by the December 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Flight International, Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $21,944,115 modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price, indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract (N00019-09-D-0018) for commercial air services, and military operations support. This modification provides airborne threat simulation training for shipboard and aircraft squadron weapon systems operators and aircrew, to enhance abilities to counter potential enemy Electronic Warfare and Electronic Attack operations in an Electronic Combat environment. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., (50 percent) and San Diego, Calif., (50 percent), and is expected to be completed in Oct. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded $10,564,291 for fixed price delivery order #0071 under their existing indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract (M67854-04-D-5016). This delivery order is for the installation of 442 Reducible Armor Kits on Non-RTAA Cargo, Dump, and Tractor vehicle variants and Armor Kits on Wrecker variants at Jacksonville, Fla. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Fla., and work for this delivery order is expected to be completed by May 31, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Computer Technology Assoc., Inc.*, Ridgecrest, Calif., is being awarded a $6,525,141 indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for 609 electronic assemblies and the associated engineering and technical support, as well as repair services. This effort is in support of the U.S. Navy's Airborne Threat Simulation Organization. Work will be performed in Ridgecrest, Calif., and is expected to be completed in Apr. 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposal as a 100 percent small business set aside, and three offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-D-0023).

Symetrics Industries*, Melbourne, Fla., is being awarded a $6,515,886 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for the procurement of 500 Technique Control Modulators units, 950 TCM Kits and the engineering and technical support, and repair services for the TCM units/kits for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force in support of the Airborne Threat Simulation Organization. Work will be performed in Melbourne, Fla., and is expected to be completed in Apr. 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under an electronic request for proposals as a 100 percent small business set-aside; three offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-D-0009).

Burlington Apparel Fabrics, Greensboro, N.C., is being awarded a maximum $24,835,440 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for Poly/Wool Serge cloth. Other location of performance is in North Carolina. Using service is Army. The original proposal was Web solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 10, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM1C1-09-D-0045).

Burlington Apparel Fabrics, Greensboro, N.C., is being awarded a maximum $16,377,771 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for Poly/Wool Serge cloth. Other location of performance is in North Carolina. Using service is Army. The originally proposal was Web solicited with 1 response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Oct. 10, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM1C1-09-D-0046).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a maximum $11,277,803 firm fixed price contract for axle assembly parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There were originally three proposals solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Apr. 10, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency – Warren (DSCC-ZG), Warren, Mich., (SPRDL1-09-D-0019).

Today the Air Force is awarding a cost plus incentive fee contract to L3 Communications, Link Simulation & Training, Arlington, Texas for an estimated $22,891,332. This action will provide B-2 Training System follow on concurrency with the B-2 Weapon System through CY17 and Contractor Logistics Support of existing B-2 training devices to include courseware, classroom, and academic instruction for training systems located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. At this time, $7,188,477 has been obligated. ASC/AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity (FA8621-08-C-6250).

Today the Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to Kilgore Flares Co., Toone, Tenn., for an estimated $6,776,294. This action will provide for the MJU-53/B IR Decoy Flare which is used by U.S. military aircraft, most notably the C-17, to provide seduction protection against heat-seeking missiles. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 784 CBSG/PK, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8213-09-C-0001).

UV Country Inc., of Houston is being awarded a $28,390,453, not to exceed, firm fixed price, five-year indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract for 1,625 Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicles. This acquisition is in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. The period of performance of this contract is Apr. 10, 2009, to Apr. 9, 2014. The contract number is H92222-09-D-0013.

NATO Group Visits Guard Site to Scout Training Opportunities

By Army Sgts. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo and Bradley Staggs
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 10, 2009 - NATO's Urban Warfare Working Group paid a visit last week to Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations in search of training options for deploying troops. Swedish Army Capt. Richard Eriksson said the simulator training available at Camp Atterbury and live urban-terrain training available at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., was exactly what he and the seven other NATO delegates wanted to see during their visit. The Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck center provided the immersive, real-world training that NATO countries want, he said.

"To have [simulator] mission training before going out on missions so you can train escort [duties], that was very nice," Eriksson said. "I think we should have that in Sweden."

The trainers, soldiers from the 205th Infantry Brigade, showed the NATO delegation how they ensure soldiers are prepared to recognize combatants and noncombatants in all situations, allowing mistakes to be made in training, not in combat.

Army Col. Steven M. Merkel, 205th Infantry Brigade commander, said the trainers use many methods to give soldiers the realistic training experience.

"Here at Atterbury, we use a number of different techniques to include rules of engagement training, dry fires, and also the Engagement Skill Trainer 2000, which is a marksmanship video game that allows us to run simulated shoot-don't shoot scenarios, so the soldiers get used to – and probably more importantly – feel confident and competent in their ability to make quick decisions on how to most appropriately respond in certain situations," he said.

What helps to create the realistic scenarios is the replication of three systems present in any urban environment: terrain, society and infrastructure, Merkel said.

"We have [Muscatatuck] available, which allows us to train American soldiers in each of those dimensions, because it has the tunnels, the roof tops and obviously, it has the surface area and the air space to operate within," he said.

Army bLt. Col. Chris Kelsey, site manager at Muscatatuck, said one of the center's advantages is that trainers can make a training site look like a city street, including pedestrians.

"Everybody who works here is 'in-play,'" he explained to the group. "That means that if a training group needs to have a busy Middle Eastern market, we can provide that."

In the past five years, the trainers at Muscatatuck and Camp Atterbury have learned how to integrate the facilities, their experience and commanders' needs into a realistic, relevant training experience.

"The place is just incredible. I wish we had a place to train like this," said Swedish Army Capt. Johan Eklof after touring the Muscatatuck facility.

British Army Maj. Paul Fox said he, too, would like to implement the same business model in other places throughout NATO, but he would really like to train his troops at MUTC. "I just think that it is a great way to train," he said.

(Army Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo serves with the 205th Infantry Brigade, Camp Atterbury public affairs. Army Sgt. Bradley Staggs serves with the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center's public affairs office.)