Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Navy Announces Decision on Norfolk Harbor Channel Dredging

The Navy announced today its decision to deepen approximately five miles of the Norfolk Harbor Channel in the Elizabeth River. This action will allow the continuous safe and expeditious travel of aircraft carriers to and from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) and the Lamberts Point Deperming Station.

Dredging this heavily-used waterway, which is the federal navigation channel within the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake, would occur from the Lamberts Point Deperming Station in the Lamberts Bend Reach, south to NNSY in the Lower Reach. Dredging would occur completely within the existing Army Corps of Engineers-maintained federal navigation channel.

The action is necessary because currently there is not enough space between the keel of transiting aircraft carriers and the bottom of the channel. This causes mud and other debris from the river bottom to be drawn into the engine cooling and firefighting systems, creating the potential for engine damage, costly delays, and unsafe conditions.

To avoid these conditions, aircraft carrier movements into and out of the deperming station and NNSY are now limited to high tide periods. These conditions must be alleviated in order for the Navy to meet the requirement of maintaining the combat readiness of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and effectively and efficiently perform its national defense mission.

The Navy's decision conforms to the process outlined in the National Environmental Protection Act, which requires analysis of the environmental consequences of federal actions. The Navy consulted with state and federal regulatory agencies throughout the environmental impact statement (EIS) process, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was a cooperating agency in this EIS.

The record of decision is available on the project Web site at http://www.norfolkdredgingeis.com . For further information, contact Navy Public Affairs at 703-697-5342.

Successfully Marketing Your Novel In The 21st Century

On September 17, 2009, Conversations with American Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a Former Sergeant First Class Austin S. Camacho, USA on Successfully Marketing Your Novel In The 21st Century.

Program Date: September 17, 2009
Program Time: 1700 hours, Pacific
Topic: Successfully Marketing Your Novel In The 21st Century
Listen Live:

About the Guest
Former Sergeant First Class
Austin S. Camacho, USA “was born in New York City but grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York. He majored in psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. There he read a number of good books, learned to tell good beer from bad, and became a brother in the Alpha Delpha Phi fraternity. Actually, the frat was largely responsible for the books and the beer. Dwindling finances and escalating costs brought his college days to an end after three years. Then came the factory work, the five years selling insurance, and finally, the Army. He enlisted as a weapons repairman but soon moved into a more appropriate field. The Army trained him to be a broadcast journalist. Disc jockey time alternated with news writing, video camera and editing work public affairs assignments and news anchor duties.

During his thirteen years as a soldier,
Austin S. Camacho lived in Missouri, California, Maryland, Georgia and Belgium. He also spent a couple of exciting weeks in Israel during Desert Storm, covering the action with the Patriot missile crews and capturing scud showers on video tape. While enlisted he finished his Bachelor's Degree at night and started his Master's, and rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class. And in his spare moments, he began writing adventure and mystery novels set in some of the exotic places he'd visited.

After leaving the
Army in 1996 Austin S. Camacho continued writing military news for the Defense Department as a civilian, frequently serving as on air anchor for the American Forces Information Service. Today he does public affairs work for the DoD agency charged with guarding the health of service members when they are deployed.” Austin S. Camacho is the author of Successfully Marketing Your Novel In The 21st Century, Russian Roulette, The Troubleshooter, World War II Radio Heroes: Letters of Compassion, Blood and Bone, Damaged Goods, The Orion Assignment, The Payback Assignment, Collateral Damage.

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is
Police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in
Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in Law Enforcement, public policy, Public Safety Technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in Law Enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Gates Labels Iran as Problem for Middle East, World

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 8, 2009 - Iran is a problem not just for the United States, but for the greater Middle East and the world, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the Arabic television network Al-Jazeera in an interview being broadcast this week. Gates long has wanted to speak with Al-Jazeera, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said, because the news network reaches the Muslim world in a way no other network can duplicate. The hour-long interview ran in its entirety yesterday and will repeat through the week.

If Iran builds nuclear weapons, it would create an arms race in the Middle East – a truly de-stabilizing move in a region not noted for stability, Gates said. Still, he added, the United States believes the best way to deal with the possible nuclear threat from Iran is through diplomatic and economic efforts, and U.S. officials encourage allies in the region to bring pressure on Iranian leaders to end their program.

"One of the pathways to get the Iranians to change their approach on the nuclear issue is to persuade them that moving down that path will actually jeopardize their security, not enhance it," Gates told Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief, Abderrahim Foukara.

"So the more that our Arab friends and allies can straighten their security capabilities, the more they can strengthen their cooperation, both with each other and with us," he said, "I think sends the signal to the Iranians that this path they're on is not going to advance Iranian security, but, in fact, could weaken it."

In addition, America is working to strengthen diplomatic and military-to-military relations in the region, Gates said.

Iran has been a challenge for the international community for 30 years, the secretary said, and patience is needed. Still, Iranian leaders have threatened to destroy Israel, and the Iranian government has violated United Nations Security Council resolutions pertaining to its weapons program.

"We want them to adhere to these resolutions, and we are willing to acknowledge the right of the Iranian government and the Iranian people to have a peaceful nuclear program if it is intended for the production of electric power and so on," Gates said. "What is central, then, is trying to persuade the Iranians to agree to that, and then to verification procedures under the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"That gives us confidence that it is indeed a peaceful nuclear program and not a weaponization program," he said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS September 8, 2009

The Dayton Power and Light Co., Dayton, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum $175,536,444 tariff contract for ownership, operation, and maintenance of the Electric Distribution System at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The other location of performance is Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Using service is the Air Force. The original proposal was Web solicited and through a mailing list with three responses. This contract is regulated tariff rate based for a 50-year contract period. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jul. 10, 2061. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-C-8251).

Navistar Defense LLC, Warrenville, Ill., is being awarded a $47,950,155 firm-fixed-priced delivery order #0004 modification under a previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5032) for the procurement of Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) Field Service Representatives (FSRs), OCONUS senior instructors, FSR instructor/mechanics, and various contract data requirements lists. Work will be performed in the United States and Iraq, and work is expected to be completed in September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $47,950,155 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The base contract was competitively awarded, and the new requirements are sole source additions to the contract. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Grunley/Goel JV LLC*, Rockville, Md., is being awarded $5,981,114 for firm-fixed price task order #0052 for repair of fire alarm systems at the National Naval Medical Center. The work to be performed provides for new fire alarms, installation, and incidental related work. There will be four new fire alarm systems (mirroring the existing fire alarm systems) in this project and the fire alarm system being installed in Building 9 to cover approximately half of that building under the Base Realignment and Closure project will be extended to the rest of the building. The new systems will serve: Building 1, Buildings 2, 7 and 8, Buildings 4 and 6, and Building 10. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Md., and is expected to be completed by Mar. 2012. Funds for this project are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Three proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N40080-06-D-0004).

Gates Hears Military Children's Education Issues

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 8, 2009 - As President Barack Obama was in nearby Arlington giving his pep talk today to America's schoolchildren, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here in a receiving mode to hear firsthand about challenges military children face in the education system. Gates paid his first visit here as defense secretary, meeting in a closed-door session with military parents whose children were kicking off their new school year at local Fairfax County schools.

Talking with reporters after the 45-minute session, Gates said he has a list of issues to look into after today's discussion. These include:

-- Exploring the possibility of opening more Defense Department schools on military bases, particularly elementary schools on larger posts experiencing regular troop rotations;

-- Assigning more dual-military families to the same post to reduce family separations;

-- Getting training for public-school teachers and counselors so they're better equipped to help their military children in their classes cope with the unique challenges they face;

-- Ensuring policies created for the old "garrison Army" are re-examined and updated as necessary to be more realistic for a highly deployable, highly mobile modern-day Army; and

-- Making the Tricare military health system system more user-friendly for families geographically separated due to deployments and other duty obligations.

Gates noted that 44 percent of active-duty servicemembers have children, about two-thirds of them under age 11.

Of the 1.2 million military children, only about 85,000 attend Defense Department schools. The rest attend public schools – where their nonmilitary schoolmates often don't understand or relate to their lifestyle and the difficulties they face, and staffs too often aren't equipped to offer the support they need.

Talking today with military parents, Gates said he found unanimous support for expanding the Defense Department school system.

"These parents would love to have schools on post," he said, ticking off some benefits the parents raised. Teachers and counselors would understand exactly what their students were dealing with and be trained to help them. Kids would be surrounded by peers "going through the same thing they are going through."

In addition, parents would have more confidence in the quality of their schools, and students wouldn't always find themselves playing catch-up or repeating what they already learned as they moved from one school to another because of a parent's deployment or the family's move to a new duty station.

Gates conceded that expanding the Defense Department school system may not be possible from a financial or political standpoint, particularly at the high-school level. "But one of the questions I am going to ask coming out of this is, at least on big posts where we have a lot of repeated rotations, ... could we at least do elementary schools?" he said.

Gates added he also plans to look into what kinds of White House or Education Department initiatives can better prepare public schools to meet military children's needs.

The secretary said he's optimistic that the new Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children will help to reduce the bumps in the road for children transitioning between school systems in different states. Twenty-five states have agreed so far to the initiative, which standardizes eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation requirements. The California state legislature has passed the bill, too, and once California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it into law, the compact will cover 81 percent of all military children, Gates said.

One concern about public schools raised today took Gates by surprise. Parents told him their children had come home with stories of teachers expressing negative views of the war or the military – insensitive to the fact that their parents were off fighting it. "So you have a child whose parent is deployed and in danger, and at the same time, [you have] a teacher perhaps being critical of what they were doing, or [of] the military," Gates said. "That is an obvious concern."

The secretary told reporters his visit reinforced his belief that too many dual-military families spend too much time apart. Among the parents he met was Army Sgt. 1st Class Sumalee Bustamante, a military police soldier and mother of two who has lived with her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class John Bustamante, just 10 months out of the last six years.

"That is just not acceptable," Gates told reporters after hearing her story. "This is something we really need to do a better job of as we work with military families." He vowed to see what needs to be changed to get more dual-military families assigned together so they don't have to be separated.

In many cases, Gates said, the problem boils down to old ways of doing business that no longer work for today's military.

"In many respects, we have really focused a lot on the stresses on our military families over the last two or three years, as we have recognized the repeated deployments and the consequences of this," he said he told the parents in closing. "But in many ways, I think many of our policies are a legacy of an Army that was essentially a garrison Army. They haven't caught up in terms of how mobile these families are now, and how often they are moving, and the consequences of one parent [being] deployed and one not, or both deployed."

One surprise takeaway from today's visit involved gaps in the Tricare system.

Bustamante described to Gates the headaches she faced when she had to send her two children to live with her parents in California while she deployed to Iraq from Fort Drum, N.Y. She didn't realize that she had to disenroll the children from Tricare North, which covered Fort Drum, and re-enroll them in Tricare West for them to receive coverage. Her father, not wanting to add to her concerns while she was deployed, ended up paying out of his own pocket for their medical care.

Another parent told Gates of a similar problem when her child left home for college in New England, which is covered by a different Tricare system.

"I am going to be asking about ... what kind of changes we need to make in Tricare to make it more convenient for these families that are so much on the move," Gates said. "My view is that it ought to be seamless and automatic, but it isn't – or at least they don't think it is. And my suspicion is they are right. So I think we have got to work on that."

Gates called sessions like today's at Fort Belvoir "incredibly valuable" in helping him get troops' perspectives straight from the source.

"I find out a lot of things I am not going to hear in briefing rooms in the Pentagon," he said. "And it is enormously valuable to me in that respect."

If there's one message Gates said he wants the families to take away from his visit, it's that "we care." Bustamante said she heard it, loud and clear.

"My heart was pounding," she said on hearing Gates promise to look into the issues she raised. "There is a voice -- somebody out there actually cares."

Army Col. Jerry Blixt, Fort Belvoir installation commander, said Gates' visit will have a ripple effect among his soldiers and their families.

"I hope they go back to their communities and let other people know that they had an opportunity to voice their issues, and that the secretary was there, wanting to hear their concerns," he said.

Fire Department Embraces Its Military 'Brothers'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 8, 2009 - An Air National Guardsman from Cambridge, Mass., knows first-hand the extent to which his co-workers in the city's fire department support their military brethren. "They all [offer] whatever we need," said Patrick Haggerty, a lieutenant with the fire department and a master sergeant who serves in fire protection in the Massachusetts Air National Guard. "If work needs to be done at home, ... everyone's like, 'If any work needs to be done while you're gone, let us know.'"

That's one of the reasons Haggerty, a 16-year veteran of the fire department, nominated his employer for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's 2009 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award. The award recognizes public and private employers for going above and beyond what's required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act for their employees who serve in the reserve components. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve manages the award.

Haggerty, who has served in the Air National Guard for nearly 19 years, deployed in 2005 to the island of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles off the South American coast for almost six months in support of the war on drugs.

When one of the Cambridge Fire Department's dozen military employees is activated, the department does its best to ease any strain on the servicemember and family, Haggerty said, providing several benefits in addition to making sure families don't have to deal with major home-repair issues on their own.

"They keep our benefits going," Haggerty said. "They make sure that everything's still fine here. That's just one less thing for us to worry about while we're deployed."

The touted brotherhood in firehouses is "a true thing," he added.

To show their continuous support of the military, department officials instituted "Red Shirt Friday." Every member of the fire department wears a red polo shirt that bears a yellow ribbon with the phrase "Support Our Troops" on one sleeve. If a member of the fire department was in the military, his or her service branch is represented on the other sleeve, Haggerty said.

And when department members are deployed, he added, their fire truck sports a blue star, symbolic of the deployment.

Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon said that while he wasn't surprised that Haggerty nominated the department for the award, he was surprised to learn that his department had been chosen as one of the 15 award recipients from the more than 3,200 nominations.

"We had won the Pro Patria award here in Massachusetts and we were actually shocked at that," Reardon said. "When you go to that award [ceremony], there's so many employers out there that have done some phenomenal things." The Pro Patria award is presented by state Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve organizations.

"I felt humbled by the whole experience, to be honest with you," Reardon added.

The chief said either he or the department's chief of operations tries to attend each deployment ceremony, and that the department also provides care packages and goodie bags to their military employees' families. But perhaps the most important factor in the department's recognition, he added, is the department's determination to go beyond Massachusetts law in caring for its military employees.

"Basically, state law ... is that the employer pays you your salary, less the difference of the military pay or stipends," he explained. "I paid them the full pay and I didn't deduct stipends. At the end of the day, I did get caught." At the end of another day, which included a reprimand by the city manager, the Cambridge City Council voted to approve full benefits for Guardsmen and reservists employed by the city of Cambridge who are deployed.

"[They voted] that they would get their full benefits without touching their military pay, and they had to go to home-rule petition to the state to do that," Reardon said.

The ruling retroactively applied to anyone activated to serve since Sept. 11, 2001, he said.

Currently, the department has one member deployed and another who recently returned. Reardon estimated that the about one-third of the department's 300 firefighters are former military, which could explain the staunch support the department provides for its military employees.

"[For] the people who serve, or who have had someone serve who actually know ... the level of commitment and the level of upsetting your life, ... I think there's great appreciation," Reardon said. "Obviously, in previous wars, there was more of the full-time professional [soldier]. I think now it really has hit home with the reserve forces."

The Freedom Award recipients will be recognized at a Sept. 17 ceremony here.

Face of Defense: Officer Pushes Marines to Succeed

By Marine Corps Pfc. Khoa N. Pelczar
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 8, 2009 - A boy who wanted to become an architect ended up enlisting to be a part of the brotherhood of the Marine Corps. Today, as an officer, he uses his experience as an enlisted Marine to help those in his charge. Growing up, Marine Corps Capt. Alexis Sanchez went to a fine-arts high school to study and prepare his art portfolio to be submitted to a college. But a sudden change of heart led the 18-year-old to become a Marine.

Sanchez, the operations officer for Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, remembers when he first saw the Marine Corps poster advertisement featuring the most decorated Marine, Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller, holding a sword. When his mother would joke with him about how he should join the Corps, he said, he gave her the same answer every time: "No way, Mom, because they kill people."

A recruiter started calling him, and gave him another option to consider after graduating from high school. After seeing a classmate enlist under the Delayed Entry Program, Sanchez decided it was time for a change. He walked right up to the recruiting station and enlisted.

After Sanchez was enlisted for seven and a half years, he said, he figured it was time for another change, but he wasn't ready to leave the Corps. So he earned a commission through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program.

"Having the enlisted background, it gives me the sanity check," the 31-year-old native of Paterson, N.J., said. "I know what works and what doesn't."

Having served as an enlisted Marine, Sanchez said, he can relate to the enlisted Marines who serve under him. That, he added, has helped him out tremendously in his job.

As operations officer, his job is to develop a pre-deployment training plan, which involves attending meetings to discuss different types of training and coordinating with subordinate units and outside agencies.

"If I take time to do a detailed plan now, it would eliminate a lot of headaches down the road," Sanchez said. "Marines would be able to train properly with no downtime. Knowing that I have contributed to something that would affect the Marines and bring them back safely from deployments due to proper training, it makes me feel good about my job."

His junior Marines agree Sanchez is approachable. They can go to him for anything, they said, and he treats them with the utmost respect.

"Treat others like how you want to be treated; I have always followed this concept in my career," Sanchez said. "You can always learn something from anyone."

Sanchez said he treats his Marines the way he would treat his children. He spends time with them to get to know them and help them do well.

"I want to be able to wake up every morning and push my kids to do their best by mere example," he said. "That translates to my professional career by wanting to push my Marines to do their best by setting the example as well."

Sanchez said meeting people face to face makes it easier to actually get to know them. In the process, he added, he is able to get out of the office and meet a lot of people.

One way he does that is joining his fellow Marines on the softball field.

"I enjoy participating on the softball team, because it allows me to engage the Marines outside of work, and I believe it builds camaraderie," said Sanchez, who plays left-center field, pitcher and first base for 1st Marine Logistics Group team, The Dirty Dogs.

Sanchez said he plans to stay in the Corps for at least 20 years, and hopes to become either a math or Spanish teacher after retirement. That way, he said, he can continue to pass down his knowledge and make a difference in people's lives.

(Marine Corps Pfc. Khoa N. Pelczar serves with the 1st Marine Logistics Group.)