Tuesday, October 13, 2009

VA to Short-cut Some Agent Orange Rulings

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 13, 2009 - A new Department of Veterans Affairs ruling will soon relieve Vietnam veterans suffering from three specific illnesses from the burden of proving their ailments are linked to Agent Orange exposure to receive VA health care and disability payments. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki's decision, announced today, establishes a service connection for Vietnam vets stricken with hairy-cell leukemia and other B-cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease, VA chief of staff John Gingrich told American Forces Press Service.

Shinseki made the decision based on a recent report by the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine. The report cited new scientific studies pointing to a strong connection between the illnesses and Agent Orange exposure.

Shinseki determined that evidence was compelling enough to establish a presumption that affected veterans' illnesses are service-related, Gingrich said.

This determination will short-cut the process for them to receive services through what Shinseki called "a world-class health care system," as well as monthly disability payments.

But before the ruling takes effect, it must be published in the Federal Register and opened for final comment, Gingrich explained. He predicted that the process would be completed early next year.

It's unclear exactly how many of the 2.1 million Vietnam veterans the ruling will affect, Gingrich said. If 10 percent have the presumed illnesses, that could result in some 200,000 new VA claims.

Agent Orange, named for the orange-colored barrels in which it was stored, was sprayed widely during the Vietnam War to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy. Veterans have long blamed the herbicide for causing a variety of illnesses, but until now, there's been no official recognition of a link. That put the burden on veterans to prove an association - a process Shinseki conceded too often has created an adversarial relationship between the VA and veterans.

Shinseki, a retired Army general and a Vietnam veteran himself, lamented this situation this summer at
a medical symposium in San Antonio.

"I have asked why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this secretary is still adjudicating claims for presumption of service-connected disabilities tied to its toxic effects," he told attendees at the Association of the U.S. Army's Institute of Land Warfare Army Medical Symposium.

Shinseki also questioned why the debilitating effects of Gulf War illnesses still are being debated 20 years after Operation Desert Storm.

"Why weren't conclusive studies conducted by [the Department of Defense] and VA to render presumption of service-connected disability resulting from exposure to toxic environments associated with these operations?" Shinseki asked. "Such findings would have facilitated VA's settling of service-connected disability claims in far less time. The scientific method, and the failure to advocate for the veteran, got in the way of our processes."

Veterans deserve better, he said.

"We must do better reviews of illnesses that may be connected to service, and we will," he said. "Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence."

Shinseki's decision brings to 15 the number of presumed illnesses VA recognizes. Others are:

-- Acute and subacute transient peripheral neuropathy;

-- AL amyloidosis;

-- Chloracne;

-- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia;

-- Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2);

-- Hodgkin's disease;

-- Multiple myeloma;

-- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma;

-- Porphyria cutanea tarda;

-- Prostate cancer;

-- Respiratory cancers; and

-- Soft-tissue sarcoma other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma or mesothelioma.

Military Records Banner Recruiting Year

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 13, 2009 - The military services' active and reserve components notched record recruiting numbers and signed up the highest-quality recruits ever in fiscal 2009, senior defense officials said today. It is the first time that all active services and reserve components met or exceeded their numerical recruiting goals and exceeded their recruit-quality benchmarks since the start of the all-volunteer force in 1973, Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told Pentagon reporters.

While Carr acknowledged that the current economic downturn probably is having a positive effect on recruiting, he also pointed to the sterling efforts of military recruiters for the superb results and noted the military deployed a robust bonus program in which 40 percent of recruits received an average bonus of $14,000.

The recruiting success achieved in fiscal 2009 is even more impressive, Carr said, considering that 70 percent of today's high school graduates – the military's target recruiting pool – go on to college upon graduation. In the 1980s, he noted, only about half of American high school students went on to college.

A rising propensity for young people age 17 to 24 to be obese, Carr said, also complicates the military's recruiting mission.

"If we look back to the 1980s, one in 20 young people were obese," Carr said, as compared to today's ratio of 1 in 4 young people being categorized as obese. "And, that creates a tighter constraint as you seek to find fully qualified recruits," he added.

However, he said, the number of waivers issued to recruits with medical or conduct issues is trending downward.

Here are the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force recruiting results for fiscal 2009:

-- The Army had 70,045 accessions, making 108 percent of its 65,000 goal.

-- The Navy had 35,527 accessions, making 100 percent of its 35,500 goal.

-- The Marine Corps had 31,413 accessions, making 100 percent of its 31,400 goal.

-- The Air Force had 31,983 accessions, making 100 percent of its 31,980 goal.

Reserve-component recruiting results for fiscal 2009:

-- The Army National Guard had 56,071 accessions, making 100 percent of its 56,000 goal.

-- The Army Reserve had 36,189 accessions, making 105 percent of its 34,598 goal.

-- The Navy Reserve had 7,793 accessions, making 101 percent of its 7,743 goal.

-- The Marine Corps Reserve had 8,805 accessions, making 122 percent of its 7,194 goal.

-- The Air National Guard had 10,075 accessions, making 106 percent of its 9,500 goal.

-- The Air Force Reserve had 8,604 accessions, making 109 percent of its 7,863 goal.

Attrition losses in all reserve components are among the best in recent years, officials said.

Carr also attributed current recruiting success to the "Millennial" demographic of young people that includes those born between 1978 and 1996. Generational studies show, he said, that these young people – who've lived during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States – are more inclined to perform public service.

Additionally, Carr said, Congress continues to provide the Defense Department with sufficient funding to sustain the all-volunteer force.

Studies also show that young people can make a good living in the military, Carr said, as compared to their civilian peers with equitable workplace experience and education qualifications. Generous pay raises provided to junior officers and mid-level noncommissioned officers in recent years, he noted, have boosted those servicemembers' earning capacity.

"It has been a banner year for recruiting," Curtis L. Gilroy, director of accession policy, told American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel reporters during an Oct. 9 interview at the Pentagon.

Gilroy, too, saluted the "outstanding" performance of the services' military recruiters. His directorate is a component of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Fiscal 2009's crop of recruits also represents the best quality ever, Gilroy said, noting 96 percent of active-duty recruits and 95 percent of reserve-component recruits possessed a high school diploma. The Defense Department benchmark for recruits with high school diplomas is 90 percent. Studies show, he added, that 80 percent of servicemembers with high school diplomas complete their initial term of service.

Gilroy said 73 percent of active recruits and 72 percent of reserve-component recruits scored average or above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. The AFQT measures an individual's math and verbal ability, which indicates aptitude for military service. The department sets a benchmark of 60 percent of all recruits scoring at or above the 50th percentile on the AFQT.

"As you can see from these numbers," Gilroy said, "the services have far exceeded those benchmarks" in fiscal 2009 for signing up recruits with high school diplomas and those with average or better AFQT scores. Increased capabilities demonstrated by the majority of the nearly 300,000 active and reserve component recruits signed up in fiscal 2009, he added, will result in higher performance in the field and will enhance readiness.

Army, Air Guard Reach Recruiting Goals

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service

Oct. 13, 2009 - Both components of the National Guard reached their end-strength goals for fiscal 2009, officials announced today. The Army National Guard closed its books for 2009 with 358,391 soldiers, or 100.1 percent of its fiscal year end-strength goal of 358,200 soldiers. It also met its retention goal by retaining 36,672 soldiers, or 106 percent of its goal of 34,593.

The Air National Guard surpassed its 2009 end-strength goal with 109,196 airmen, or 102.3 percent of its goal of 106,756 airmen. The Air Guard also retained 17,904 airmen, or 120.1 percent of its goal of 14,904.

Success for the Army Guard, officials noted, meant reducing its end strength rather than gaining servicemembers. The Army Guard had 368,727 soldiers in March, and it needed to reduce that to a congressionally mandated end strength of 358,200 soldiers by September.

"Never before has the Army Guard been challenged to reduce its end strength by more than 11,000 soldiers within six months," said Army Lt. Col. Ron Walls, chief of the strength and maintenance division at the National Guard Bureau. The Army Guard reduced end strength while meeting accession and retention goals. Its 56,000-soldier accession mission was met with 56,071 soldiers, and 36,672 soldiers were retained to meet the 34,593-soldier retention mission.

"We had to do a 'full-court press' with the 54 states and territories in order to ensure we were successful," Walls said. "We ensured each state could reach their end strength while maintaining retention."

Success came down to "driven, focused leadership and a committed recruiting and retention force," he said.

Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, made it clear that the Army Guard's end strength of 358,200 soldiers would be met and that it would align with the states' force structure, Walls said. A series of restrictions was placed on the recruiting and retention force before the summer, increasing the Army Guard's quality marks to "unprecedented levels," he added.

The Army Guard also suspended many recruiting waivers or options, and it restricted incentive programs.

State leaders focused on end strength by placing some soldiers into duty statuses that better described them, including those enlisted soldiers with expired terms of service, nonvalidated pay or no training seat reservations.

"To me, that's the best success story," Walls said. "Never before has the Army Guard had such pure, ready formations prepared to meet combatant commanders' needs."

For fiscal 2010, Walls said, the big challenge is constrained resources. Providing the ability to tailor the force to meet mission requirements will help the state adjutants general and their recruiting and retention commanders stay competitive for recruits, he noted. "They will successfully reach non-prior-service and prior-service soldiers," he said.

In the states, some 3,700 Army Guard recruiters will face 2010's recruiting challenges with fewer resources to draw applicants in the door. Though direct mail, radio and television, local advertising and sales brochures, giveaway items, and posters will continue, Walls said, few, if any, new recruiting programs will be offered.

Case-by-case funding will take into account operation tempos, requirements for certain specialties and parts of the country facing extraordinary challenges, he said.

The Army Guard will enhance its social media programs and integrate them with other marketing, Walls said. Depending on actual budgets, tentative plans are to expand marketing to outdoor enthusiasts, because research shows outdoor activities rate high among recruits.

Walls said recruiters must accomplish the same mission with significantly fewer leads, which in the past were generated through campaigns, but he expressed confidence that they'll succeed. "The recruiting force is highly trained and motivated," he said. "They will continue to meet challenges this country places on them.

"The greatest take-away from our success is not the numbers or the mission, but it's the commitment," he continued. "We continue to have a long line of individuals who are willing to serve their country."

Air Force Col. Mary Salcido, director of recruiting and retention for the Air National Guard, said her recruiters made "target recruiting" for specific jobs their top goal in 2009. The result was that the Air Guard surpassed its end-strength goal, while adjusting manpower and reducing shortfalls in specific skills.

Fiscal 2008 was the first time in several years that the Air Guard had met its end-strength goal. Salcido said in 2009 the Air Guard adjusted its synergy and efforts to put manpower exactly where it was needed. She said the recruiting teams quickly created goals and programs to "precision recruit."

"Recruiting the right people in the right place at the right time: That's our theme, and that's what we did all year long," she said.

Salcido said advertising, operations, bonuses and incentives were focused on critical Air Force specialties such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, health professions, civil engineer specialties, security forces, special tactics and the newest total-force-initiative missions.

"When you have missions that require a lot of physical as well as tactical skills -- such as the tactical air control party members -- those are more difficult to recruit," she said. "Your cyber missions now require higher test scores with a lot of technology and longer schools; those are tougher to recruit. The bonuses and the incentives are going that way."

Planning ahead for new missions, Salcido said, Air Guard officials have reached out to help prepare the states for the future. "We are trying a little different mindset; we are in full coordination with the [Air National Guard] functional organizations," she said.

The Air Guard Readiness Center recruiters reached out to the states to evaluate recruiting programs. She said they "wanted to increase their return on those investments."

"We put the focus where it should be: that's recruiters and accountability," she said. "They are doing a phenomenal job. We also involved wing-level and headquarters-level management."

Like the Army Guard, the Air Guard's budget for advertising and recruiting programs was cut, so the Air Guard asked state recruiters what programs should be kept. "We have found it very successful, and I think the field is very happy," she said about the outcome.

The Guard Recruiting Assistant Program was extremely successful, she said, bringing in at least 30 percent of Air Guard's new recruits. And recruiting programs in general initiated considerable interest in the Air Guard, she said, especially through social networking.

On the advertising side, Salcido said, a "more bang for the buck" approach helps to ensure that the Air Guard remains known.

Coordination with the Army Guard at events and at recruiting centers also helps, the colonel noted. "It's a hometown team, and that's what we are doing," she said.

The Air Guard has about 650 recruiters and retainers across the nation and at the National Guard Bureau. She called those recruiters a "furious force" who operate in a high-burnout career field.

(Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)


Airborne Systems North America, Santa Ana, Calif., was awarded on Oct. 9, 2009 a $13,996,042 firm-fixed-price, 5 year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity production with multiple awarded contracts. This contract is for the procurement of T-11 Personnel Parachute Systems with a minimum contract value of $200,000 and a maximum combined contract value (among three awardees) of 220,000,000. Quantity anticipated is approximately 45,000-50,000. Work is to be performed in Santa Ana, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 5, 2014. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with seven bids received. Research, Development, & Engineering Command, Contracting Center, Natick Contracting Division, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-10-D-0003).

Aerostar International, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D., was awarded on Oct. 9, 2009 a $12,243,600 firm-fixed-price, 5 year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity production with multiple awarded contracts. This contract is for the procurement of T-11 Personnel Parachute Systems with a minimum contract value of $200,000 and a maximum combined contract value (among three awardees) of 220,000,000. Quantity anticipated is approximately 45,000-50,000. Work is to be performed in Huron, S.D., (95 percent) and Madison, S.D., (5 percent), with an estimated completion date of Oct. 5, 2014. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with seven bids received. Research, Development, & Engineering Command, Contracting Center, Natick Contracting Division, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-09-D-0036).

Leo A. Daly/ RLF, Inc., Omaha, Neb., was awarded on Oct. 9, 2009 a $9,052,788 firm-fixed-price contract for the architect-engineering services in support of the Fort Riley, Kansas hospital replacement project. Work is to be performed in Fort Riley, Kansas, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 14 bids received. U.S. Corps of Engineers, CECT-NWK-M, Kansas City, Mo., is the contracting activity (W912DQ-09-C-4003).

BAE Systems, Phoenix, Ariz., was awarded on Oct. 9, 2009 a $8,746,475 firm-fixed-price, 5 year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity production with multiple awarded contract. This contract is for the procurement of T-11 Personnel Parachute Systems with a minimum contract value of $200,000 and a maximum combined contract value (among three awardees) of 220,000,000. Quantity anticipated is approximately 45,000-50,000. Work is to be performed in Phoenix, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 5, 2014. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with seven bids received. Research, Development, & Engineering Command, Contracting Center, Natick Contracting Division, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-10-D-0001).

The Nutmeg Companies, Inc., Norwich, Conn., was awarded on Oct. 9, 2009 a $6,490,520 firm-fixed-price contract for the restoration of the existing Esek Hopkins Armed Forces Reserve Center. Work is to be performed in Cranston, R.I., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 1, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with six bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-10-C-0002).

General Dynamics, Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $43,727,922 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-4005) to exercise an option CLIN 0005 for non-nuclear maintenance and repair support at the Naval Submarine Support Facility, Naval Submarine Base, New London, Conn. Under the terms of the contract, Electric Boat will continue to provide services required to support planned and emergent non-nuclear maintenance and repair for operational nuclear submarines, floating dry-docks, support & service craft and other platforms and equipment. Work will be performed in New London, Conn., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $10,391,980 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded an $18,084,018 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-2103) for reactor plant planning yard services for nuclear-powered submarines and support yard services for the Navy's moored training ships. The contractor will furnish, fabricate, or acquire such materials, supplies and services as may be necessary to perform the functions of the planning yard for reactor plants and associated portions of the propulsion plants for nuclear powered submarines. Work will be performed in Groton, Conn., (95 percent), Charleston, S.C., (5 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $18,084,018 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc., Newport News Va., is being awarded a $5,967,938 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-2104) for planning and design yard functions for standard navy valves in support of nuclear powered submarines. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5,967,938 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Weinbrenner Shoe Co., Merrill, Wis.*, is being awarded a maximum $9,166,331 firm fixed price indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for hot weather boots. Other locations of performance are Marshfield and Saint Nazianz, Wis. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. This proposal was originally Web solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the second option year period. The date of performance completion is October 13, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM1C1-08-D-1040).

Defense Supply Associates, Inc., Fort Atkinson, Wis.*, is being awarded a maximum $18,874,930 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract for HMMWV starters. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. This proposal was originally web solicited with six responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Mar. 8, 2015. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Warren, Warren, Mich., (SPRDL1-10-D-0003). partment of Defense · 408 St. Peter Street Suite 600 · St. Paul, MN 55102 · 1-800-439-1420

USS Freedom To Deploy Early

The Navy announced today the decision to deploy the USS Freedom (LCS 1) in early 2010 to the Southern Command and Pacific Command areas ahead of her originally scheduled 2012 maiden deployment. According to Navy leaders, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are needed now to close urgent warfighting gaps.

Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it needs to be – operating in the increasingly important littoral regions," said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. "We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now."

The USS Freedom will have an immediate impact on fleet readiness and global reach as an asset with unique combat capabilities and the ability to meet littoral tasking not previously seen in the modern cruiser or destroyer fleet.

The Navy plans to build a considerable number of littoral combat ships which will form the backbone of our future fleet," said Adm J. C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, charged with executing the early deployment. "The sooner we integrate them into our fleet, the sooner we can incorporate them in the order of battle. This deployment offers a golden opportunity to learn by doing. Employing the USS Freedom in theater two years ahead of a normal timeline allows us to incorporate lessons that can only be learned in a deployment setting more quickly and effectively in the LCS fleet integration process."

In evaluating options for deploying the USS Freedom earlier than originally scheduled, the Navy took into consideration several key factors including combat systems testing, shakedown of the ship systems, and overseas sustainment with a new concept of operations and crew training. To facilitate the early deployment, the Navy adjusted the USS Freedom testing schedule, prioritized testing events needed for deployment and deferred others not required for the missions envisioned during this deployment. The USS Freedom recently completed Industrial Post Delivery Availability 2, which also supported an early deployment.

Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.

Leaders Pledge Support to Guard, Reserve Employers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Oct. 13, 2009 - The Pentagon's top civilian official for Guard and Reserve matters and uniformed reserve-component leaders pledged to support employers of the nation's Guard and Reserve members at a Pentagon ceremony today. Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, was the first official to sign the statement of support sponsored by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The ceremony was held in the chief of naval operations' dining room.

ESGR is a Defense Department agency that seeks to foster good communications and working relationships between Guard and Reserve members and their civilian employers. That relationship is delineated by the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, which, among other things, stipulates that Guard and Reserve members are to be returned to their civilian jobs after being away to perform stints of military service.

Civilian employers sign statements of support to demonstrate their awareness and support of the law and to pledge assistance to employees in the Guard and Reserve and to their families.

"We traditionally ask employers to sign these kinds of certificates, but it's really important that [reserve-component] service chiefs representing the military leadership express their support as well," McCarthy said at the ceremony's conclusion. "It's clearly a mutually supporting relationship that we need, and so this signing reflects that."

Employers of Guard and Reserve servicemembers make significant contributions to reserve-component readiness, recruiting and retention missions, said Pauline K. Brunelli, ESGR's acting executive director.

"We're very pleased to show this statement of support and all the members behind it," Brunelli said. The signing ceremony, she said, featured participation by senior military leaders primarily involved in reserve-component issues.

Navy Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink, chief of the Navy Reserve, hosted the ceremony. Gaining employers' understanding and assistance "makes a big difference," he said.

Additionally, Debbink said, reserve-component members should strive to maintain good communications with their civilian employers so that effective arrangements can be made to provide workplace replacements while they are deployed on military duty.

Communication "is absolutely the key," he said. Reserve-component members, he said, should keep employers current on upcoming deployments and other military duties.

Army Secretary, Chief Reaffirm Family Covenant

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 13, 2009 - The Army's top military officer and civilian leader underscored the service's commitment to Army families at last week's annual meeting and exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army. Reaffirmation of the Army Family Covenant by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, and Army Secretary John M. McHugh shows that families are taking the forefront in the readiness picture, officials said.

At an Oct. 7 forum sponsored by the Institute of Land Warfare during last week's event, several family advocates outlined how the covenant has affected families and what they can expect in the future.

The Army has doubled its investment in family programs from $750 million to $1.5 billion, said Kathleen Marin, director of installation services for the office of the assistant chief of installation management, who highlighted some programs and initiatives that have evolved since the Army Family Covenant first was signed in 2007. They include:

-- Adding 1,079 readiness support assistant positions;

-- Increasing the number of military family life consultants from 144 to 212;

-- Establishing Army survivor outreach services to improve support for survivors of fallen soldiers;

-- Funding construction of more than 100 child development centers;

-- Gaining support of 39 Fortune 500 companies who have helped to find jobs for more than 41,000 military spouses through the Army Spouse Employment Program;

-- Developing the Warrior Adventure Quest for soldiers to participate in outdoor adventure activities that help them cope with re-integration after the stresses of a combat environment; and

-- Getting 25 states to sign the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children – a change that affects 71 percent of students of servicemembers.

Also, a new program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness has begun with basic training recruits. Modeled after Army physical training, it is a psychological fitness initiative that will leave soldiers with mental strength and resilience through physical challenges.

"It's not a cure-all, but it helps prevent negative outcomes," said Army Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the program's director. It's slated to start in the active Army in November, and it will be available to family members in January.

Army Col. David C. Moran from the office of the chief of chaplains told attendees how a 10-year-old program called Strong Bonds has benefited from funding by being placed under the Army Family Covenant. Similar to unit stand-downs, it's a retreat-based program in which family members get away from work and home to build stronger relationships.

The number of participants has doubled every year, and in 2010, it's projected to have 4,000 events totaling more than 365,000 participants.

Army Brig. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, office of the surgeon general, said that while the Army Family Covenant has affected health care programs and initiatives, it's up to leadership and family advocates to keep soldiers and families informed on how to access health services. Over the past 20 years, the number of Army hospitals has shrunk as the growth of Tricare military health plan networks has replaced much of what those facilities had provided.

To get the word out on the Army Family Covenant, the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command has instituted an aggressive marketing campaign that "will highlight the strength of the American soldier and his or her family," James Abney, a command official. At the forefront is the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, with in-store messaging, food court tray liners and 100 fleet trucks carrying the family covenant message.

U.S. Army Accessions Command officials said they will get the message out to recruiting stations to ensure potential recruits know the importance of family members in the Army.

(From an Association of the U.S. Army news release.)

Nuclear Noh Drama: Tokyo, Washington and the Case of the Missing Nuclear Agreements

For more information contact:
Robert Wampler: wampler@gwu.edu


October 13, 2009 - The election of the new Democratic Party government in Japan led by Yukio Hatoyama raises a significant challenge for the Obama administration: the status of secret agreements on nuclear weapons that Tokyo and Washington negotiated in 1960 and 1969. For years, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party claimed that there were no such agreements, denying, for example, allegations that they had allowed U.S. nuclear-armed ships to sail into Japanese ports. Nevertheless, declassified U.S. government documents, interviews with former U.S. Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer, and memoirs by Japanese diplomats confirm the existence of the secret understandings.

The basic facts about the agreements have been the subject of long-standing controversy in Japan, where a post-Hiroshima, anti-nuclear tradition was at odds with secret understandings crafted to support the operational requirements of America's Cold War nuclear deterrent. The Liberal Democrats might have faced a political disaster if they had acknowledged, as appears to be the case, that the U.S. Navy's nuclear-armed ships had free access to Japanese waters.

Seeking to settle the matter, the new Democratic Party government has launched an internal investigation into the agreements and their negotiating history. To aid this investigation, the National Security Archive today posted on the Web the most important U.S. declassified documents on the issue. Nevertheless, Japan is not likely to act unilaterally to declassify the 1960 and 1969 nuclear agreements. The Obama administration should not only assist Japan so that early declassification of the agreements is possible, but also declassify the remaining still-secret U.S. documents, allowing an old controversy to be settled.

The two secret agreements were negotiated during the Cold War, when the United States Navy routinely transited Pacific waters with nuclear weapons onboard and the possibility of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear war was a matter of routine military planning. One of the agreements was actually a record of discussion that established an agreed and carefully defined interpretation of U.S. commitments regarding nuclear weapons, negotiated in 1960, that allowed transit of nuclear weapons through Japanese territory and waters, relegating the consultation requirement to the introduction and basing of nuclear weapons in Japan.

The other was part of the 1969 agreement reverting Okinawa to Japan: U.S. nuclear weapons on Okinawa would be withdrawn but re-introduction would be possible in an emergency. Even after the end of the Cold War, which brought the worldwide withdrawal of all U.S. theater nuclear weapons, the U.S. government deferred to the Liberal Democrats on the need to keep the agreements secret, but that need is clearly now moot. Declassification is possible and necessary because determining what Tokyo and Washington actually negotiated is a question of significant historical importance and a key missing piece in the nuclear history of the Cold War.

Visit the National Security Archive Web site for more information:


THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.