28 April 2010

Army Releases 2010 Modernization Strategy

The Department of the Army released today the 2010 Army Modernization Strategy (AMS).

"The goal of Army modernization is to develop and field the best equipment available to allow our soldiers to be successful against our enemies," said Gen. George W. Casey, chief of staff of the Army. "We must continue to transform into a force that is versatile, expeditionary, agile, lethal, sustainable and interoperable, so that our soldiers will have a decisive advantage in any fight," Casey said.

The Army plans to achieve its 2010 modernization goals by developing and fielding new capabilities; continuously modernizing equipment to meet current and future capability needs through procurement of upgraded capabilities, reset, and recapitalization; and meeting continuously evolving force requirements through Army priorities and the Army Force Generation Model.

Equipping individual soldiers and units is a core Army responsibility under Title 10, U.S. Code. "Providing all of America's sons and daughters who serve in our Army with the most capable equipment for the battles they're fighting today and are likely to face in the future are the responsibilities that the Army takes seriously and is committed to accomplishing," said Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox, deputy chief of staff G-8 and the Army's chief material integration officer.

The complete 2010 AMS is available at: www.g8.army.mil.
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26 April 2010

U.S. Airman MIA from WWII is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Walter A. McClellan will be buried Friday in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla.

On April 17, 1945, McClellan's B-17 Flying Fortress was struck by enemy fighters while on a bombing run against a rail depot in Dresden, Germany. Following the war, U.S. teams attempted to locate the remains of the crew but because the area was under Soviet control, no further searches could be conducted. The U.S. Army was forced to declare the remains of the "Towering Titan's" crew to be non-recoverable.

Two reports from German citizens in 1956 and 2007 indicated that the remains of a 19-year-old were buried as an "unknown" in a local church cemetery in Burkhardswalde. Church records revealed that the grave held the remains of a young American flyer who had parachuted from his aircraft over the town of Biensdorf, was captured and killed by German SS forces near Burkhardswalde. He was first buried in the town's sports field, but exhumed by the townspeople after the war and reburied in the church cemetery.

In September 2008, a recovery team of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command exhumed the grave in Burkhardswalde and recovered human remains and other artifacts, including a silver Army Air Forces identification bracelet bearing the emblem of a qualified aerial gunner. The biological profile of the remains and McClellan's dental records enabled JPAC scientists to establish the identification.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo

23 April 2010

Sweeping Veterans and Caregivers Legislation Passes Congress: Supported by VetsFirst

/PRNewswire/ -- VetsFirst, a national organization that serves veterans with disabilities, their families and survivors, applauds the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for passing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (S. 1963). The legislation's sweeping provisions include improvements in VA health care services for veterans, programs for women veterans, construction of new VA medical facilities and, for the first time, critical supports for family and other personal caregivers of veterans with disabilities.

"VetsFirst has strongly advocated for the passage of legislation that recognizes the sacrifice of family members who dedicate their lives to caring for those who have selflessly defended our freedom. We urge the President to quickly sign this bill into law," said VetsFirst's President and CEO Paul J. Tobin.

Under the legislation, family caregivers for eligible veterans of all eras can receive VA training, support services, counseling, mental health services and respite care. For family and non-family caregivers who live with veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the legislation also provides a monthly stipend and access to their own VA health care.

"VetsFirst believes that providing these services to caregivers will ensure that veterans receive quality care and support in their homes and communities. Veterans have the right to receive such care in the least restrictive environment possible," Tobin stated.

"Many wounded warriors don't want to spend their lives in a hospital or nursing home. They would prefer to recover in the company and care of their loved ones. The new VA caregiver services and supports will ease the burden for family members, many of whom have forsaken their own jobs and health care coverage, to care for their veteran," Tobin added.

Although funding VA services for caregivers will require an upfront investment, the long-term gains that result from caring for veterans at home will improve their outlook, speed their recovery and allow them to more easily reintegrate into their community.

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19 April 2010

First Lockheed Martin/USAF HC-130J Combat Rescue Tanker Rolls out

/PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) rolled out the first of a new fleet of HC-130J combat rescue tankers for the U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command (ACC) during a ceremony here today. Maj. Gen. Thomas K. Andersen, director of requirements, Headquarters ACC, spoke at the ceremony.

"Personnel recovery is one of the Air Force's core missions and vital to what we do in defense of America. The mission is demanding and we are grateful to those [employees] of Lockheed Martin assembled here that have given us a world-class aircraft ready for the demands of the mission," Andersen said. "The HC-130J will enable us to meet the expanding operational tasks that we face today - wartime operations in Operation Enduring Freedom and the Horn of Africa, and relief operations in the continental United States as well as in areas like Haiti and Chile. For that, ACC, the Air Force and the nation thank you."

Lockheed Martin is contracted with the U.S. Air Force to build 21 C130J Super Hercules to replace aging fleets of combat search and rescue HC-130s and special operations MC130s. The U.S. Air Force is authorized to acquire up to 31 HC/MC130Js (11 HCs and 20 MCs).

"Yet again, we see the C-130 setting new standards for mission flexibility," said Ross Reynolds, Lockheed Martin vice president for C-130 programs. "This new configuration of the proven C-130J will give ACC unparalleled capability for combat search and rescue. As demand for the C-130J continues to grow around the world, we will see more ways this aircraft can meet the demands of any operator and mission."

The new aircraft, which is based on a KC-130J tanker baseline, will have the Enhanced Service Life Wing, Enhanced Cargo Handling System, a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (boom refueling receptacle), an electro-optical/infrared sensor, a combat systems operator station on the flight deck, and provisions for the large aircraft infrared countermeasures system. In-line production of this configuration reduces cost and risk, and meets the required 2012 initial operational capability.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.

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14 April 2010

Military Leaders Press Obama to Act On Defense Contract

/PRNewswire/ -- Twelve members of the National Defense Trust (NDT) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over the ongoing delays and political maneuvering preventing the Air Force from awarding the contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers. The letter was signed by retired military officers, leaders of think tanks focusing on national defense, and a former US Senator. A copy of the letter was sent to every Member of Congress.

The current fleet of refueling tankers is five decades old and have been in service since the Korean War. Efforts to build new planes that support military aircraft has been ongoing for nearly a decade and the contracts have been canceled due to controversy and scandal.

The latest Request for Proposal was released several months ago with one of the bidders, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), withdrawing from the competition. However, after pressure from EADS and the government of France, the Pentagon extended the deadline for two months.

The National Defense Trust's members believe it is critical that the delays, particularly those that are politically motivated, cease, allowing the military to focus on procuring the planes needed for a strong national defense. As a result of the most recent delay in the process, NDT members have sent this letter to Commander in Chief Obama and Members of Congress. The letter reads in part:

Delays often beget delays. Our war fighters deserve new tankers delivered as quickly as possible, and we see no valid reason to postpone the tanker acquisition process any longer. We urge you to resist further efforts to stall the long-overdue process of procuring and building the next fleet of refueling tankers our men and women in uniform need and deserve.

The National Defense Trust is a coalition of Americans dedicated to a robust defense of the United States and our allies.

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08 April 2010

Disabled Vets Discover 'Miracle on Mountainside'


About 400 disabled veterans here for the 24th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic -- including about 150 veterans of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- aren't anticipating pulling April Fools pranks tomorrow. They're expecting miracles today.

Photo left: Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class John Felix said he had fixated for far too long on what he couldn't do due to multiple sclerosis. Just days into his first National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, Felix said he'll return home a new man, focused on his capabilities, not his disability. DoD photo by Donna Miles

And halfway through six days jam-packed days of activities designed to push them to new heights and enhance their rehabilitation, those miracles are beginning to unfold.

"I'm already feeling it," said Noah Currier, a medically retired Marine Corps corporal who is among more than 100 first-timers at the clinic.

Currier returned home safely after two combat deployments with the 1st Marine Division's 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. He was among the first to deploy to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and was at the tip of the spear during the U.S. invasion into Iraq in 2003.

But three days after he returned from the second deployment, as he was riding back to Camp Pendleton, Calif., Currier's life took a dramatic turn. The fellow Marine driving from San Diego feel asleep at the wheel, and their vehicle hit a tree and slammed down a 20-foot embankment.

Currier was paralyzed from the chest down.

Seven years later, after whizzing down Snowmass Mountain on adaptive skis at his first winter sports clinic, Currier experienced the kind of adrenaline rush he thought he'd lost forever.

"It was absolutely great! Awesome! I had a blast!" he exclaimed. "It's a feeling of liberation. I wish I'd done it a long time ago."

Currier experienced a phenomenon that's come to be known here as the "Miracle on the Mountainside."

It's ever-present at the winter sports clinic, where veterans of all ages are getting introduced to adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing, rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, wheelchair fencing, sled hockey, snowmobiling and sled hockey, among other activities.

As they push past their comfort zone and try things many thought they'd never be able to again, they discover a new sense of self-confidence and purpose.

"They say, 'Wow, this is something I can do,'" said Darren Cook, a scuba instructor at the clinic for the past 20 years. "And you see them build that confidence, one step at a time."

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class John Felix said he, too, has felt the Miracle on the Mountainside. The former recruiter admits he took an emotional nosedive watching multiple sclerosis weaken his body. But just two days into the clinic, realizing he still can enjoy the love of skiing he picked up while stationed in Germany, Felix declared himself new man.

"Yesterday was a major accomplishment," he said of his successful downhill run, with an adaptive ski instructor at his side. "It was the first victory I've had in the last three years."

The victory continued as Felix climbed a rock wall, drawing wild applause from onlookers below as he rang the bell at its apex. Felix said he'll take the can-do attitude he's gained here when he returns home from the clinic.

"I now have a whole new attitude," he said. "I feel like I can go back to Connecticut, and whatever challenges come my way, I can say, 'Bring it on. I can handle it.'"

Heeding the advice of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a disabled veteran himself who opened the clinic March 28, Felix said he's finding encouragement and inspiration from the other participants.

"I see people with a whole lot more serious issues than I'm dealing with doing amazing things," he said. "And the way I look at it, if they can do it, I can definitely do it."

Daniel Pelacios, a former Army sergeant and long-time participant at the clinic, said he was excited to return after a five-year hiatus to enjoy the camaraderie at the clinic.

"What's really great is the chance to see the new guys, bond with them and help them out," he said. "Because no matter what service they were in or when they served, I find that I have so much in common with them."

"I'm learning so much here, from everyone," said Joey King, a former Marine corporal who was confined to a wheelchair four years after leaving active duty, after a 2008 car accident. "I'm asking lots of questions."

King's attendance at his first winter sports clinic is a rite of passage in itself. Although he lives independently, he's been largely confined to his Wisconsin community since his injury and had yet to get on a plane or check into a hotel room. "It's a whole learning experience," he said.

That was before his first time on skis – ever. Although sore from keeping his forearms so tense during the downhill run, King said, he had a blast screaming down the mountain. He was looking forward to trying his hand at snowmobiling and other activities at the clinic. "I'll try anything," he said.

The Miracle on the Mountainside extends to family members attending the clinic with their loved ones. Valerie Wallace said she's amazed in the transformation she's watching take place in her son, Army Sgt. John Barnes.

Barnes was wounded during a mortar attack while deployed to southwestern Baghdad with the 101st Infantry Division in 2006. Since then, he's struggled with a severe traumatic brain injury that's complicated by post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

Getting Barnes to the clinic was a challenge in itself, his mother admitted, but she said she's already seeing a breakthrough in the making. He spent two and a half hours on a snowboard, arriving at the bottom of the slope dripping in sweat and the kind of ear-to-ear grin that she said has become so rare since he was wounded.

"Just for him to be out here and do all this, you can't wipe the smile off his face," she said. "There really is something special that's happening here."

Hundreds of volunteers who make the winter sports clinic possible say they, too, feel the magic of the winter sports clinic.

"This is a way for us to come and give a little bit back, but in some ways, it's almost self-serving to be here," said Scott Romme, who has returned to the clinic for the past 10 years to teach scuba diving. "It puts life in perspective. And in a lot of ways, I think we get more out of it than the veterans."

As he talked about the winter sports clinic – a vision he came up with more than two decades ago to help disabled veteran recuperate –clinic director Sandy Trombetta tried to describe what happens during the Miracle on the Mountainside.

Many veterans lose a sense of who they are when they become disabled, he said, but he credited the tremendous support they receive here, along with the healing power of the mountains, with helping them re-establish their identify.

"It's a mind, body, soul experience that affects the spirit," Trombetta said. "And what really makes the difference here are those mountains. It's Mother Nature. You can't come here and not be overwhelmed by the grandeur of these mountains. It's overwhelming."

The winter sports clinic, which continues through April 3, is jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans.

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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U.S. Soldier MIA from Korean War is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
 
 U.S. Army Cpl. Stanley P. Arendt was buried on March 29 in Palatine, Ill. In early November 1950, Arendt was assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division occupying a defensive position near the town of Unsan in the bend of the Kuryong River known as the "Camel's Head." Arendt's unit was involved in heavy fighting which devolved into hand-to-hand combat around their command post. Almost 400 men of the 8th Cavalry Regiment were reported missing in action or killed in action from the battle at Unsan.
 
In late November 1950, a U.S. soldier captured during the battle of Unsan reported during his debriefing that he and nine other American soldiers were moved to a house near the battlefield. The POWs were taken to an adjacent field and shot.  Three of the 10 Americans survived, though one later died. He provided detailed information on the location of the incident and the identities of the other soldiers.  Following the armistice in 1953 and the release of POWs, the other surviving soldier confirmed the details provided in 1950.
 
In May 2004, a joint U.S.-North Korean team excavated a mass grave near the "Camel's Head" after receiving a report that an elderly North Korean national had witnessed the death of seven or eight U.S. soldiers near that location and provided the team with a general description of the burial site.
 
The excavation team recovered human remains and other personal artifacts, ultimately leading to the identification of seven soldiers from that site. Among the forensic techniques used in the identifications by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was that of mitochondrial DNA, five samples of which matched the DNA of Arendt's brother.