22 December 2009

Lockheed Martin Super Hercules Deliveries Continue to Strengthen USAF Fleet in Europe

/PRNewswire/ -- Brig. Gen. Michael W. Callan, Vice Commander, 17th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Africa, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, today (December 21) accepted the tenth of 14 Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) C-130Js to be based at Ramstein. The USAF Europe C-130Js based there also support the airlift needs of Africa Command (AFRICOM).

"I was excited to be asked by the 86 Airlift Wing commander to fly one of his new J-models to Ramstein Air Base," Callan said. "As our USAF continues to upgrade its C-130 fleet, this C-130J will climb faster, go farther and perform with precision in all qualification and missions areas. All of those capabilities will be tested in AFRICOM's AOR, and we at 17th Air Force (AFAFRICA) look forward to partnering with the 37th Airlift Squadron and 86th Airlift Wing to make a difference in Africa."

The Ramstein delivery is the tenth C-130J for the base, which will receive four more in 2010. This aircraft is Lockheed Martin's 16th and final C-130J delivery of 2009.

U.S. Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA) is responsible for conducting Air Force, joint and combined air and space operations in the AFRICOM area of responsibility. To fulfill these responsibilities AFAFRICA employs a full spectrum of capabilities, to include intra-theater airlift assets.

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18 December 2009

Pro-Troop Group Says Repatriating Yemenis Will Result in Loss of Innocent Lives

The largest pro-troop grassroots group in the nation, Move America Forward, was appalled to learn that the Obama administration is preparing to release six Yemenis and four Afghans to the Yemini government soon.

Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda have a well documented history of taking advantage of the political instability in Yemen to use it as a training base or temporary safe haven for terrorists hiding or on their way to other battlefields.

“Transferring these terrorists back to Yemen or back to any of their home countries is extremely dangerous, and will almost certainly cause more American deaths and the deaths of other innocents, sadly,” said Danny Gonzalez, Director of Communications for the group. “We have had horrible luck, from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, with releasing these GITMO detainees. An alarming number of them, verifiably, return to terror.”

Gonzalez continued, “We have seen then show up in Al Qaeda propaganda videos, captured on the battlefield again, or we hear about them taking part in another bombing or kidnapping. Ultimately the safest place for these murders is Guantanamo Bay.”

In 2008 Move America Forward led a delegation on a 3 day tour of the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

They concluded that the facility at GITMO was professionally run and operating under the guidelines of all international laws and treaties.

11 December 2009

MOAA Celebrates Military Spouse Residency Relief Act Victory on Capitol Hill

/PRNewswire/ -- Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) President VADM Norb Ryan Jr., USN (Ret.), joined Sen. Richard M. Burr (R-NC) and Rep. John R. Carter (R-TX), military spouses and congressional staff at a MOAA-sponsored Capitol Hill reception to celebrate enactment of the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act and recognize those who played leadership roles in getting the initiative signed into law.

The new law, signed by President Obama on Veterans Day 2009, will reduce voting and state tax challenges military spouses have faced with every military-ordered move. They will now have the option to elect the same state of domicile as their active duty spouse, without having to change state residency with every relocation.

"This great victory was crucial to ensure the states to recognize that military spouses are serving our country, too," Ryan said. "Rebecca Noah Poynter and Joanna Williamson are two military spouses who had a great idea, and exercised authentic leadership in convincing Congressional leaders of its importance. MOAA is proud to have been a lead blocker and tackler in helping these stars cross the goal line."

"Military spouses are our real unsung heroes, and anything we can do for them is a reward to the country," said Rep. Carter, who championed the bill in the House of Representatives. "It's a common-sense bill, and we found a lot of common-sense cosponsors in Congress to help us support it."

"There's no question that military spouses make many sacrifices in support of our Armed Forces," said Burr. "That's why I introduced the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act in the Senate, and [why I was so proud to see] it signed into law on Veterans Day."

"MOAA identified this as one of our key initiatives for military families. It's a great example of military spouses speaking out and getting things changed," said Joy Dunlap, MOAA's Deputy Director of Government Relations. "This is just one of a long list of initiatives that we hope to get accomplished to help military spouses and their families - and with spouses speaking out, more improvements can be made."

Acknowledging MOAA's strong support in this gratifying victory for military spouses, Poynter called Ryan up before the gathering, saying, "I recently received my MOAA membership renewal notice and I'm giving you my renewal check right now!"

MOAA is the nation's largest association of active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired, and former military officers and their families and survivors, and the fourth-largest veterans' association, with more than 370,000 members. The association promotes a strong national defense by advocating equitable treatment of those who serve and have served their country in uniform.

MOAA Selected Legislative Goals for 2010
MOAA Celebrates Military Spouse Residency Relief Act 12/10/09
S. 475 - Military Spouses Residency Relief Act 11/11/09
MOAA Applauds Hill Action for Military Spouses 11/02/09

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09 December 2009

New Air Force Plan Targets Energy

National energy independence took another leap forward with today's rollout of the Air Force Energy Plan. The plan serves as the framework for communicating Air Force energy goals and further expands a culture shift "where Airmen make energy a consideration in everything we do."

"The case for action to reduce our energy consumption and diversify our energy sources is more compelling than ever," states the plan. "Military forces will always be dependent on energy, but we must dramatically reduce the risk to national security associated with our current energy posture."

The Air Force is the largest user of energy in the federal government. The Air Force Energy Plan supports Air Force priorities and provides links to energy goals established by the federal government. It involves energy-focused considerations from initial design and acquisition through effective use of Air Force resources.

"Integrating energy considerations into Air Force operations is not new," said Ms. Debra Walker, currently performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Environment. "While we have recently developed overarching policy guidance, the Air Force Energy Plan provides us with a foundational, comprehensive plan from which to execute programs."

The plan is written in "...plain English. It explains installation energy requirements, goals and targets," said Ms. Walker. "But these requirements, goals and targets are part of a larger plan that includes acquisition and technology, changing the culture and how we train and indoctrinate people about considering energy in their duties and other matters. It also strongly considers aviation operations."

Colonel Suzanne Johnson, Chief of Policy and Planning, worked on the plan for more than two years. The final product is laid out in four sections: The core document, which gives an overview, and three appendices: Aviation Operations, Infrastructure, and Acquisition.

The desired effect will be achieved through a three-part strategy, which can be applied to any functional area: (1) reduce demand, (2) increase supply--through a variety of alternative and renewable types of energy, and (3) change the culture.

"We are proud of the energy initiatives already implemented by the Air Force," Ms. Walker said. "But this gets an actual, institutionalized, long-range energy plan into 2035. Otherwise, we have no unity of purpose, no unity of effort."

The Air Force Energy Plan was signed by Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley.

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08 December 2009

4-Star Gen. McCaffrey, Back From Afghanistan, Offers Comprehensive Report and Strategy

/PRNewswire/ -- Four Star-Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret), a former Gulf War commander, SouthCom Commander, and U.S. National Drug Policy Director, now Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at West Point, has issued a comprehensive assessment, report, and recommendations on the situation in Afghanistan following a week long-visit.

During his mission, conducted for the U.S. Military Academy, McCaffrey toured the region and met with senior military officials including General David Petraeus and General Stanley McChrystal, attended a Joint Command briefing, met with the ISAF Strategic Advisory Board, top Afghanistan officials, U.S. diplomats including Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, and law enforcement officials.

For the full report, see: http://www.mccaffreyassociates.com/pdfs/AAR_november_2009.pdf .

Among Gen. McCaffrey's findings:

* The President's strategy speech at West Point was "coherent, logical, and sincere."

* A successful strategy will require three to ten years "to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw. We are likely to suffer thousands more U.S. casualties."

* One of the most important concerns is the stability of Pakistan.

* "We are vulnerable in our Afghanistan operation.... There is little question that Pakistan offers de facto sanctuary to the Taliban.... The Pakistani Army is fighting their own Taliban for the future of the nation."

* "The Taliban believe they are winning in Afghanistan. The Taliban now have a serious presence in 160 districts of 364 -- up from 30 in 2003. In July alone they employed 828 IED attacks. We should expect 5700 IED attacks by year's end 2009."

* "The Afghan National Army is a growing success story," but "the Afghan National police are badly equipped, corrupt (7300 fired in last two years), and untrained." Even with U.S. DOD taking charge of the program, "it will take a decade to create an Afghan National Police Force with adequate integrity."

* While the U.S. prison commander establishes proper values and meets each day with senior detainees to hear their views, "the nation's 34 provincial prisons and 203 detention centers are appalling. Prisoners are consistently subject to torture and police frequently rape female and male detainees."

* The Taliban enforce a parallel system of justice involving hangings, torture, beheadings and beatings."

* "Afghanistan now has hope" despite its problems. Access to basic health care has rocketed from 8% in 2001 to 79%, 83% of children are immunized, TB deaths are down 50%, and seven million children including three million girls are in school - up from one million students and zero girls during the Taliban rule.

THE DRUG ISSUE:

* "The $3.4 billion opium crop produces weapons and supplies for the Taliban and al Qaeda. Left unaddressed, the heroin menace will defeat our strategic goals. Afghanistan produces 93% of the global supply of heroin."

"The current notion that we can ignore the growers as simple farmers and focus our counter-drug strategy on law enforcement against the cartels is painfully naive."

"The solution is three pronged. First, work on alternative livelihood agricultural crops. Second, have the Afghan political leadership confront the opium issue as un-Islamic and one that destroys their culture. Third, destroy the crops. Without the last, nothing will work."

SUMMARY:
We can achieve our objectives in the coming five years:

* Create an Afghan security force;

* Create governance from the bottom up;

* Mitigate the corruption by having a parallel chain of financial custody until the Afghan government is operating unlike an active criminal enterprise."

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New Research Examines Military Children’s Experience When Their Parents Deploy

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the largest study to date looking at the emotional well-being of military children, there is now scientific confirmation to many anecdotal reports of the impact of a parent’s deployment on the well-being of a child. The results, published today in the journal Pediatrics, are the first findings of a large-scale, cross-Service and cross-component research study on military children.

The National Military Family Association commissioned the RAND Corporation to follow military children for 12 months, summer 2008 through summer 2009, surveying them and their parent or caregiver on three occasions to answer two key questions: how are school-age military children faring and what types of issues do military children face related to deployment? The baseline findings released today set the stage for results from the follow-up surveys to be reported in subsequent studies.

Study results are consistent across Service branches:

* As the months of parental deployment increased so did the child’s challenges. The total number of months away mattered more than the number of deployments.
* Older children experienced more difficulties during deployment.
* There is a direct correlation between the mental health of the caregiver and the well-being of the child.
* Girls experienced more difficulty during reintegration, the period of months readjusting after the service member’s homecoming.
* About one-third of the children reported symptoms of anxiety, which is somewhat higher than the percentage reported in other studies of children.

“These findings back up what we have been hearing from parents about the impacts of parental deployments on children,” said National Military Family Association Executive Director Joyce Raezer. “While military families are determined to stay strong and healthy, our Nation has been at war for nearly eight years now. We owe it to military families to better understand and address the challenges they are facing now, and may be facing later. Commissioning this research is the first step in doing that.”

Families with a child between the ages of 11 and 17 who applied to the National Military Family Association’s 2008 Operation Purple® Summer Camp program were invited to participate in the survey. Among the 1,507 parent and child sets surveyed (3,014 total participants), 57 percent of the children were from Army families, 20 percent had a parent in the Air Force, 17 percent were Navy families, and the remainder had parents in the Marine Corps or Coast Guard. About 63 percent of the parents were in the active component, with the rest in the National Guard or Reserve.

The study found no significant differences among children based on the Service branch of the parent or whether they were a part of the active or reserve component of the military. Ninety-five percent of children had experienced at least one parental deployment in the three years prior to the study, and nearly 40 percent were going through a deployment at the time of the interview. The study’s participation rate was 97% indicating the importance families place on the need for this research.

What does this mean for military families? This study presents clear evidence that many families are still experiencing stress. There are many good programs from both military and private organizations that support military children and military families; however, quality and outreach are inconsistent, some programs are redundant, and needs remain to be filled. Current programs were created with the best information available at the time. Now that new research-based information is available, the National Military Family Association is calling on all organizations — including the Department of Defense — to use these findings to assess their current offerings.

The Association wants to see best practices replicated and greater targeted support when and where most needed. Because the total months of separation matters to children’s well-being, support programs must continue to be available for families facing their second, third, and fourth deployments. These families need support programs and their community as much as, or more than, those saying goodbye for the first time.

What is next? The National Military Family Association is gathering key nonprofit, military, corporate, education, community, faith-based, and research leaders to form an expert task force and lead a national conversation on the needs of military children and families. In May 2010, the task force will present a plan to address both the immediate and long-term research implications. The task force working groups will focus on the following goals: building resiliency in youth, addressing the needs of girls, engaging communities to support military families, investing in military spouses, and improving the mental health of caregivers and kids.

“Our 40 years of service have made us a trusted resource for families and the Nation’s leaders and we are uniquely qualified to lead the search for solutions, focused on building on best practices and creating partnerships,” Raezer added.

Families and caring adults in military kids’ lives can visit, www.MilitaryFamily.org, for a list of ways to support military families or download the “10 Things Military Teens Want You to Know” toolkit. Also, a link to a downloadable copy of the complete Pediatrics article about the study can be found at www.MilitaryFamily.org/study.

The research project was made possible through grants to the National Military Family Association from the Robertson Foundation, the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation.

The study was jointly conducted by RAND Health, a division of the nonprofit RAND Corporation, and the RAND National Security Research Division.

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07 December 2009

Hughes Expands High-Speed Satellite Internet Access for U.S. Troops in Middle East and Central Asia

/PRNewswire/ -- Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, today announced that it has expanded provision of high-speed satellite Internet access for U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Available at U.S. military bases, the broadband Internet service is being delivered via the company's new operations hub in Dubai, enabling troops to stay in touch with family and friends at home, including sending photos and videos, connecting over social networking sites and making VoIP telephone calls.

"Hughes is proud to provide high-speed Internet service to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, reinforcing the military's Morale, Welfare & Recreation [MWR] efforts in the region," said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. "Staying connected with spouses, children, extended family, and friends is essential for our troops' morale, especially as they often are deployed overseas for a year or more."

Payam Herischi, senior director of Hughes Global Services added, "Hughes has been providing broadband satellite terminals throughout the region since 2003, and the additional bandwidth and resources from our new Dubai-based hub now enables us to connect even more men and women of the military with their loved ones at home while they serve our country overseas."

Hughes high-speed satellite internet service is available at U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, with local installation and logistics support provided by partner companies in the region. For more information on internet service for our troops, visit www.hughesglobalservices.com/mwr.html or email hughes-mwr@hughes.com.

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03 December 2009

VA to Survey Veteran Households

/PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a national survey of Veterans, active duty service members, activated National Guard and reserve members, and family members and survivors to learn if they are aware of VA services.

"By hearing directly from Veterans and their family members, we gain valuable information to help us serve them better. We hope those who receive the survey will respond to it," Secretary Shinseki said.

In addition to assessing awareness levels, the National Survey of Veterans will collect important health care, benefits, employment, and demographic information that VA will use to inform policy decisions and improve benefits. Recognizing a broader client base than just Veterans, this is the first time VA has included others, such as Veteran family members, in its survey population.

VA is mailing out survey "screeners" to more than 130,000 households to identify potential survey participants. The screener asks if anyone in the household is a member of one of the identified survey groups -- Veterans, family members and survivors, active duty, Guard or Reserve members. Eligible survey participants then may be requested to participate in a full-length survey.

Participants will be able to select a preferred survey method: through U.S. mail, telephone or a password-protected Internet address. VA expects approximately 10,000 Veterans to complete the full-length survey.

This is the sixth VA National Survey of Veterans since 1978. The information collected will help VA in its efforts to design and conduct outreach to Veterans. In addition, it will provide a clearer picture of the Veteran population's characteristics to help evaluate existing programs and policies and measure their impact.

The data collection is expected to be finished by the end of February and the final report released by December 2010.

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Supreme Court Supports Veteran PTSD Defenses

/PRNewswire/ -- On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the sentencing decision of a Korean War Veteran convicted of murder should have taken into consideration Post Traumatic Stress he incurred during the war.

This decision comes after a recent jury decision in Oregon where Jesse Bratcher, an Iraqi War Veteran on trial for murder, was found insane due to PTSD. This was the first U.S. murder case where combat PTSD influenced a jury's verdict.

"These recent legal decisions," said National Veterans Foundation (NVF) President Shad Meshad, "are very significant as more Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, with no prior history of criminal behavior, are coming home to inadequate transitional services, and are ending up in jail, accused of crimes."

"The Supreme Court decision basically says that attorneys of clients facing the death penalty must present evidence of PTSD from military service in their defense," said Meshad.

Meshad consulted on the defense of the Bratcher and on a new book--Veterans in the Justice System: a manual for the legal professional. D.C. Press will publish the book, co-authored by William Brown PhD, next May.

Meshad began assisting Vietnam Veterans who were getting into legal trouble in the seventies. "I see so many of the same patterns repeating," said Meshad. "War experiences and a lack of help transitioning to civilian life ended with many Vietnam Veterans in jail. Soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan have more resources and more support from the public, but it is still not enough. I fear we are going to see many more of these cases popping up all over the country."

Meshad is one of the nation's leading experts on PTSD treatment. A licensed therapist who began working with soldiers as Psych Officer in the Vietnam War, Meshad Founded the National Veterans Foundation in 1985 to provide crisis counseling and transitional resources to soldiers and Veterans.

The National Veterans Foundation launches a new Web page today as a resource to Veterans who are in need of legal assistance at www.nvflegal.org. NFV will include links to organizations and attorneys who specialize in defending former soldiers, frequently asked questions, news about Veteran legal cases, information about representation on claims appeal, email legal advice, pro-bono representation and other resources.

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