Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Veterans with Disabilities to TEE Off in Iowa

Strengthening Self-Esteem Through Adaptive Golf

WASHINGTON (August 25, 2010)- Nearly 200 military Veterans are
registered to tee-off in a unique golf tournament in Riverside, Iowa,
September 6 - 9, 2010, proving that having a visual impairment or other
disability does not mean they cannot lead a full and rewarding life.

"These Veterans, many of whom were injured during their military
service, will show that being involved in athletic activity can continue
regardless of disability," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki. "I applaud all of the Veterans who will be traveling from
across the country to participate in this event, as they strive to
achieve their goals and continue to lead an active lifestyle."

The National Veterans TEE (Training, Exposure, and Experience)
Tournament provides visually impaired Veterans and those with other
disabilities the opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen their
confidence through adaptive golf as well as bowling and other
recreational sports activities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) endorsed this important event in
2008 and it became one of VA's six national rehabilitation programs for
Veterans. Initially a local program, the first Tournament was held in
1994 in Nauvoo, Ill, and was attended by 36 legally blind Veterans from
six Midwestern states. In 1995, the event was moved to the Iowa City
area. Now in its 17th year, the Tournament has expanded to include not
only Veterans who are legally blind, but also amputees, those who use
wheelchairs and Veterans with other disabilities.

This year's event will take place at various golf courses in and around
Riverside, Iowa, including the Lake MacBride, Quail Creek, West Liberty,
Elks Country Club and Blue Top Ridge golf courses. The bowling events
will take place at Colonial Lanes in Iowa City.

Participation is open to U.S. military Veterans who are visually
impaired or have other disabilities including amputations, traumatic
brain injuries, certain neurological conditions and spinal cord
injuries. The participants receive care at VA medical facilities across
the nation, and many utilize VA's comprehensive visual impairment
services. Nearly 300 volunteers from the local VA Medical Center in Iowa
City and surrounding area will assist at this event.

VA is an unmatched health care leader in rehabilitation, with an
impassioned commitment to serve all our Nation's heroes, men and women,
past and present. The Tournament is hosted by the Iowa City VA Medical
Center, with sponsorship support provided by Help Hospitalized Veterans
and other organizations.

For more information about the National Veterans TEE Tournament or to
volunteer during the week, visit the Web site at

# # #

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Attention Cold War Vets A Message from Belladonna Productions About Divided the Movie

Belladonna Productions would first like to thank you for your commitment and
service to this country, especially during the Cold War. Our film DIVIDED,
by writer/director Michael Johnson, concerns the events that transpired in
Berlin during the Cold War, specifically during the first days of the
construction of the Berlin Wall. The film's events involve not just German
residents, but also American GIs stationed in West Berlin as well.

DIVIDED is the story of a love-triangle set in Berlin during the first days
of the Berlin Wall. During the overnight construction of the Berlin Wall, a
young woman makes it across the closing border, but her husband is left
behind in the east. The dilemma unfolds when she falls in love with the
American GI she enlists to bring her husband to the west.

Michael Johnson's father, in fact, was a GI stationed in West Germany and
met Michael's mother, a true Berliner, after she escaped to the West. The
film is inspired by Michael' story, and he himself lived all his childhood
in West Berlin shadowed by the wall. He has spoken to GIs and MPs and has
done extensive research on accounts by refugees that crossed the border
during this time. Many scenes in the film were inspired by real events.

We are spreading the word about the film to people, such as members of
blogs, communities, Facebook groups, etc.--those who may have ties or can
relate to the circumstances of those events then and those that followed.
We're encouraging people, residents and soldiers alike, to get involved by
posting and sharing stories, pictures, etc. on our Facebook fanpage
<>. Most
importantly, DIVIDED's website <> provides everyone with
a chance to truly get involved and contribute to the literal making of the
film by sponsoring frames for $14 each in return for all kinds of cool
rewards including a download of the film and invitations to gala screenings.
We are also looking for investors for the film.

DIVIDED is being produced by Linda Moran and Rene Bastian of Belladonna
Productions ("LIE", "Transamerica", "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints",
"Mulberry Street", "Funny Games"). The film is currently in development and
we are hoping to shoot the movie in Berlin later in early 2011.

Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share our film project
with, and we hope you'll want to get involved in our journey.


René Bastian and Linda Moran, Producers

VA To Enhance Patient Care

Indianapolis (August 24, 2010) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
today announced a new pilot in the Indianapolis region that will improve
the delivery of Veterans health information.  The Richard L. Roudebush
VA Medical Center in Indianapolis will partner with the Indiana Health
Information Exchange (IHIE), the largest health information exchange
organization in the United States, to securely exchange electronic
health record (EHR) information using the Nationwide Health Information

"This pilot is one more step taken to deliver a Virtual Lifetime
Electronic Record for our Nation's Veterans and Servicemembers," said
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "This new technology
allows safer, more secure, and private access to electronic health
information, which, in turn, enhances our ability to continue providing
Veterans with the quality care that they have earned."

 VA will invite Veterans who receive health care from VA and from
selected hospitals and providers in the Indianapolis area to sign up for
the pilot, with the understanding that their information will not be
shared without their authorization.  Veterans who participate will
enable their public and private sector health care providers and doctors
to share specific health information electronically, safely, securely
and privately.

The pilot is planned to run through 2012 with the goal of advancing EHRs
for VA and other community providers.

Led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Nationwide
Health Information Network provides a technology "gateway" to support
interoperability standards and a legal framework for the secure exchange
of health information between treating physicians, when authorized by a
patient.  Clinicians from the participating organizations can share
authorized patient data electronically, securely, and privately,
ensuring around-the-clock access to critical health information.  This
immediate electronic access supports increased accuracy, efficiency, and
safety.  It also helps to avoid redundant care and testing.

Since more than half of America's Veterans and active duty
Servicemembers receive some portion of their health care outside of VA
or Department of Defense facilities, interoperability between federal
agencies and the private sector is essential to provide the best care
for Veterans, Servicemembers, and their dependents.

IHIE is made up of collaborative partnerships with Regenstrief
Institute, private hospitals, insurers, local and state health
departments, and other health care organizations that impact more than
60 hospitals providing care to more than 6 million patients.

A national effort is underway to promote the important use of EHRs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hope For The Warriors
Wed, 18 Aug 2010 09:04:15 -0500

''Hope For The Warriors'' has released its Spring 2011 scholarship application. Visit for the application and eligibility requirements.

Monday, August 16, 2010

VFF PAC Update

Vets for Freedom PAC members,

This week, Vets for Freedom PAC is proud to introduce a new member to the team--former Army Captain Flagg Youngblood. As the PAC Director, Flagg will be charged with doing everything possible to help elect our conservative Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to Congress this November.

Flagg Youngblood

Flagg brings a wealth of both military and civilian experience to VFF-PAC. Before joining us, Flagg served as Director of Military Outreach for Young America's Foundation, advocating for military recruiters on college campuses and fighting for student access to ROTC.

Militarily, Flagg served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2003-2004, commanding a security task force for Travis Air Force Base and Moffett Field in northern California. Previously, he served with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from 1998-2000. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Flagg is a 1997 graduate of Yale and the University of Connecticut's ROTC.

Flagg will be interfacing with VFF-PAC's "Operation 10-in-10" campaigns, most urgently with our two remaining primaries--Captain Kevin Calvey (OK-5) and Captain Jonathan Paton (AZ-8). Both warriors are in tight GOP primaries next week (August 24), and operations are ongoing for both campaigns down the homestretch.

Click here to give VFF-PAC the ammunition needed to ensure both Calvey and Paton can fight on towards November.

We need your help. Donate today. Entrenched Washington interests are stacked up to beat these veterans, and we must fire back with everything we've got. Join Flagg & VFF-PAC in the fight today!

Move out and draw fire,
Pete Hegseth
Iraq War veteran

Storm The Hill

Dear Sean,

Many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are struggling, and what is Congress doing about it? They're going on vacation.

Our lawmakers have checked out for the summer, but the urgent issues facing vets remain. Military suicides are skyrocketing, unemployment is up, the VA disability backlog is at an all-time high, and the New GI Bill needs to be upgraded. And Washington is going on summer break.

But we're not. And Congress is going to find out just what that means when our Summer Storm hits Capitol Hill. Over the next few weeks, with your help, we're pushing hard for reform in three key areas, in three phases.

First, we're focused on upgrading the New GI Bill by asking Congress to support H.R. 5933. Once the GI Bill is squared away, we'll tackle the disability claims process. When that's done, we'll shift our focus towards getting jobs for vets.

It's going to take a lot of work, and we don't have a lot of time.

Watch this quick video and find out how a few minutes of your day will complete the first phase of the Summer Storm: upgrading the New GI Bill.

Watch the video here.

New vets are tired of campaign promises and yellow ribbons. We need politicians on Capitol Hill to take immediate action to truly support Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Just five minutes of your time can make a huge difference. Click here to join the IAVA Summer Storm and help us make a real impact. And be sure to check back often to see the progress we make over the next few weeks.

Thanks for always having our back.


Todd Bowers
Deputy Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SEC. GATES: (Applause.) Thank you, Bill, for that very kind introduction.

It's a pleasure to be with you in San Francisco, but then I have to confess, it's a pleasure to be anywhere but Washington, D.C. -- (laughter) -- a place where so many people are lost in thought because it's such unfamiliar territory. (Laughter and applause.) Where people say, "I'll double cross that bridge when I get to it." (Laughter.) The only place in the world you can see a prominent person walking down Lover's Lane holding his own hand. (Laughter.)

I'm really honored to have been introduced by Secretary Perry, an extraordinary public servant and visionary thinker on defense and foreign policy issues. As Bill indicated, four years ago, in the spring, summer and fall of 2006, we served together on the Baker-Hamilton Commission, just a couple of Ph.D.s with a little government experience under our belts.

Little did I know that my sojourn to Iraq with that group in September of 2006 would be only the first of many such visits for me. An anecdote about missed opportunities. While in Baghdad with the study group, about 2:00 a.m. one night, the electric power went out -- a common occurrence. And, of course, the air conditioning went off as well. It was about 105 degrees.

As the temperature rose in my room, I went outside to find somebody to fix the problem in a T-shirt and shorts. I stopped a young soldier walking by to ask his help. And all I can say is that his indifference to my discomfort -- (laughter) -- and he walked on. (Laughter.)

Now, just think, had he known that 90 days later I would be named secretary of Defense -- (laughter) -- he might have earned a battlefield promotion. (Laughter.) But it was not to be, and he remains only a vivid, nameless memory. (Laughter.)

I feel truly privileged to have been invited to deliver a lecture named in honor of George Shultz, a man who I believe will be remembered in history as one of our information's finest Secretaries of State. For more than six years, he and Ronald Reagan formed one of the most successful partnerships of a president and his chief diplomat in modern times, a true model for how the relationship is supposed to work.

And having just left the swampy humidity of Washington, all I can tell you is that both Bill and George made a really smart choice by relocating to the Bay Area. (Laughter.)
I would also like to thank this lecture's sponsors, the World Affairs Council of Northern California and the Marines Memorial Association. I appreciate the hard work that the Memorial Association's president, Major General Mike Myatt, put in this event and is putting in to preparing for San Francisco's Fleet Week in October as its chairman.

And it is fitting that George Shultz himself, a proud Marine, be associated with this lecture and with Fleet Week as honorary co-chair. And I might just note that even as Marines today are helping with flood relief in Pakistan, Fleet Week here will provide demonstrations of the Naval service's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

It's appropriate that I address this audience during an important point in the history of the United States Marine Corps and at a time of great challenge and change for America's military. It has been nearly nine years since about a thousand Marines of Task Force 8158 landed in the Afghan desert from ships more than 400 miles away in the Northern Arabian Sea establishing America's first conventional foothold in the country.

The commander of that effort, which took place just weeks after 9/11, was then Brigadier General James Mattis. Yesterday, I was privileged to see General Mattis take charge of Central Command, overseeing all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

The attacks of 9/11 began nearly a decade of constant deployment and combat for our military and especially our nation's ground forces. In Iraq, Marines, as is often the case, were handed some of the roughest real estate and saw some of the most brutal and deadliest fighting of the conflict. Places like Fallujah and names like Zembiec and Dunham will take their place in Marine Corps history along with the legends of the past.

The Marine presence in Iraq came to an end earlier this year with the handover of responsibility for Anbar Province to the Army. Marines left behind a stable region that, in only a few years earlier, was at the epicenter of the Sunni insurgency. In fact, by Marine standards, they were probably too successful as the lack of violence in Anbar Province over the last couple of years, combined with access to the amenities of big bases, made the Commandant worry that his Marines were going soft. And I heard fairly often directly that they were just plain bored.

Well, there will be no such worries in Afghanistan, for nearly 20,000 Marines are in the thick of the fight. There, they have been sent into the Taliban's strongholds in the southern part of the country. These warriors are writing a new chapter in the Marine Corps role of honor with their blood and their sweat.

All told, the Iraq and Afghan campaigns have posed extraordinarily complex challenges to America's fighting men and women, forcing them to assume the role of diplomat, warrior, humanitarian, the development expert. They've shown what the late Marine General Victor Krulak once wrote was the adaptability, initiative and improvisation that are the true fabric of an obedience, the ultimate and soldierly conduct going further than sheer heroism.

In many ways, Marines are uniquely pedigreed for these tasks, having long recognized the need to be flexible and prepared to fight and operate in any contingency including counterinsurgency and stability operations. Indeed, the Marines led the way in our young republic's first war on terror against the Barbary Pirates at the dawn of the 19th century and wrote the first counterinsurgency and stability handbook called "The Small Wars Manual" some 70 years ago.

Yet the post-9/11 years and wars have also triggered anxiety in some circles over the future role and character of the Marine Corps, an anxiety that is rooted in the fact that the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan have functioned for years as a so-called second land army.

The perception being that they have become too heavy, too removed from their expeditionary amphibious roots and the unique skill sets those missions require. General James Conway, the Commandant, has noted that we have a generation of officers and Marines that are combat hardened but may never have stepped aboard a ship. Defining the future mission of the Marine Corps is the intellectual effort that General James Amos will undertake as the new Commandant if he's confirmed by the Senate.

I won't preempt the work of General Amos and other smart people in trying to define the unique mission of the Marines going forward, but I would offer some observations. First, the contemporary debate about the mission of the Corps is not a new phenomenon. After World War II, some military leaders felt that Marine operations on land and in the skies had duplicated the functions of the Army and the Army Air Force. One Army general quipped, "You Marines are nothing but a bunch of beach runners anyway. What do you know about land warfare?" Ironic, given the concerns being expressed today.

In the wake of the post-war defense reorganization and the inter-service battles that went along with it, the Marines' mission was codified in federal statute, the only service to do so. In addition to a long list of maritime responsibilities was added -- and I quote -- "such other duties as the President may direct."

Since then, such duties as directed by the President have taken Marines to beaches, mountains and trenches in Korea and jungles and rice paddies in Vietnam, to the deserts of Kuwait in the first Gulf War and, most recently, to the urban alleys of Anbar Province and the dusty, rugged Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

And although many of these operations saw Marines being initially projected from sea, they soon turned into long, grinding ground engagements. As the service's new operating concept stated earlier this year, the Pacific campaign of World War II was the only period of history when the exclusive focus of the Marine Corps was on amphibious assault.

Yet fundamentally, the Marines do not want to be nor does America need, another land army nor do they want to be nor does America need a U.S. Navy police force, as President Truman once quipped.

The Marines' unique ability to project combat forces from the sea under uncertain circumstances, forces quickly able to protect and sustain themselves, is a capability that America has needed in this past decade and will require in the future. For example, it was a real strategic asset during the first Gulf War to have a flotilla of Marines waiting off Kuwait City forcing Saddam's army to keep one eye on the Saudi border and one eye on the coast.
And then, of course, it was a Marine armored formation in the desert, the second land army, if you will, that liberated Kuwait City.

Looking ahead, I do think it is proper to ask whether large-scale amphibious assault landings along the lines of Inchon are feasible though anti-ship missiles with long range and high accuracy may make it necessary to debark from ships 25 or 40 or 60 or more miles at sea. I, therefore, asked Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, and the Marine Corps leadership to conduct a thorough force-structure review to determine what an expeditionary force and readiness should look like in the 21st century.

I directed them not to lose sight of the Marines' greatest strengths, a broad portfolio of capabilities and penchant for adapting that are needed to be successful in any campaign. The counterinsurgency skills the Marines developed during this past decade, combined with the agility and esprit honed over two centuries well positioned the Corps, in my view, to be at the tip of the spear in the future when the U.S. military is likely to confront a range of irregular and hybrid conflicts.

Ultimately, the maritime soul of the Marine Corps needs to be preserved notwithstanding the imperatives of today's wars. This institutional challenge is not unique to the Marines. All of the military services have been challenged to find the right balance between preserving what is unique and valuable in their traditions while, at the same time, making the changes needed to win the wars we are in and to prepare for likely future threats in the years and decades to come.

Achieving this balance is imperative because it is clear the United States will continue to face a diverse range of threats that will require a more and more flexible portfolio of military capabilities. We face a more complex future where all conflict will range across a broad spectrum of operations and lethality, where other modern militaries will use irregular or asymmetric tactics that target our traditional strengths and where terrorists or military groups may have sophisticated weapons.

Preparing for this uncertain future will be the key challenge for the entire Department of Defense as we move into a post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan era. A line I invoke time and again is that experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again. (Scattered laughter.) Four times in the past century, the United States has come to the end of a war and concluded that the nature of man and the world had changed for better and turned inward, unilaterally disarming and dismantling institutions important to our national security, and in the process, giving ourselves a peace dividend.

Four times we chose to forget history. Four times we have had to rebuild and rearm at huge cost in blood and treasure. After September 11th, the United States rearmed and, again, strengthened our intelligence capabilities. It will be critically important to sustain those capabilities in the future. It will be critically important not to make the same mistake for the fifth time.

Yet in the coming years, the pressure will undoubtedly be great to repeat that mistake and to reduce our spending on defense especially given the political and fiscal realities we face. The post-September 11th spigot of defense spending has been shut off, but I believe that we must have modest and sustainable growth in defense spending to allow us to maintain our capabilities, reset our fighting forces and invest adequately in modernization of future capabilities.

But to make the case for this growth at a time of economic and fiscal duress requires the Defense Department to make every dollar count, to fundamentally change the way we spend the taxpayers' dollars and the way we do business. It means shifting resources from bureaucracies and overhead to military combat capabilities needed by our combat forces today and in the future.

As part of this effort, I asked the entire Pentagon earlier this year to take a hard, unsparing look at how the Department is staffed, organized and operated. I concluded that our headquarters and support bureaucracies, military and civilian alike, have swelled to cumbersome and top-heavy proportions, grown over reliant on contractors, and grown accustomed to operating with little consideration for cost.

So starting in June, we embarked on a sustained, multifaceted effort to move America's defense institutions toward a more effective, efficient, and cost-conscious way of doing business.

As part of that broad effort, earlier this week I announced an initial set of major decisions designed to reduce duplication, overhead and excess in the Defense enterprise. I imposed new constraints on the size of staffs, senior positions and contractors. I also directed that we better take advantage of economies of scale in areas such as information technology. And I announced the elimination of several organizations, including a four-star command that performed duplicative functions or had outlived their original purpose.

While many of these decisions were difficult and will cause hardships for some affected employees, they are necessary to ensure that our fighting forces on air, land and sea have the resources to achieve a wider range of missions and prepare for future needs.

I want to give time for some questions, so I'll close with a final thought. At the beginning of the nuclear age, Albert Einstein remarked that everything has changed but our way of thinking. In his memoir, George Shultz cited that observation and remarked on how ways of thinking are so hard to change, which remains as true as ever.

The Marine Corps has been at the leading edge for over 200 years in adapting and responding to new technologies and new threats. Even as our country faces great challenges, the adaptability, initiative and improvisation, along with the raw courage that is displayed by United States Marines every day, give me the confidence that we can and we will prevail, as this country has in the past. And just as all our troops are doing their duty to ensure our country remains safe and strong, we in Washington must now do ours.

Thank you. (Applause.)

GEN. HOAR: Mr. Secretary, as Mike mentioned earlier, I'm Joe Hoar and I'm going to pop some of the questions for you, if I may. We have far more than you can possibly answer, so I'm going to try and organize them into groups.

Let's talk about Afghanistan first. There's obviously concern about whether or not we have enough forces in Afghanistan. And another question is the relationship with Pakistan. And as many of us believe, that really is the center of gravity there. And what are we doing to change that equation?

SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, the number of forces that have gone into Afghanistan represent the recommendation made by General McChrystal a year ago. There are about 40,000 new forces in Afghanistan. Thirty thousand of them are American, and almost 10,000 are from our partners, principally our NATO partners.

My British colleague, at the end of my first year on this job, referred to my efforts to get the Europeans to do more as megaphone diplomacy. (Laughter.) But the fact is that from about 17,000 troops in 2007, the Europeans and others are now up to almost 50,000 troops. And they are in the fight. A lot of the national caveats have gone away, and they are being very effective partners.

I have some fairly strong feelings about Pakistan, because I bear some personal responsibility for the United States turning its back on Afghanistan in 1989 and 1990 when I was Deputy National Security Advisor. When the Soviets left, we turned our attention away. We didn't do anything, leaving Pakistan with a huge problem. And then, shortly thereafter, with the implementation of the Pressler amendment, we had to cut off all of our military assistance to the Pakistanis because of their nuclear program.

So from the Pakistani standpoint, the United States, when our objective was completed -- that is, the ejection of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan -- we abandoned the area and left them holding the bag. So we have what Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and I refer to as a significant trust deficit with Pakistan. (Laughter.) And they are worried about the possibility that we will leave again prematurely and leave them facing a difficult situation. And so they have hedged over the last decade, trying to be in a position to deal with whoever might come to power and keep power in Afghanistan.

I think we are reducing the trust deficit now. And most people don't realize that the Pakistanis now have 140,000 troops on their Northwestern Frontier, northwestern border areas. They are in the fight. They are taking significant casualties. And they are operating on their side of the border and increasingly cooperating with our operations on the Afghan side of the border. And they have gone into places like Swat and South Waziristan, making al-Qaeda flee those areas, which has given the -- raised the opportunity to kill more of the al-Qaeda.

So, I think that the Pakistanis have made huge progress. I think we have made progress with the Pakistanis. But what we need to do is to continue to affirm to the Pakistanis that we will be a reliable, strategic partner for the long term with them and that we are not going to walk away from Afghanistan and that when the fight is over in Afghanistan, we're still going to stay there and provide the kind of development aid and military training and so on that is needed, but that we are not going to turn our backs on that region again.

So is the situation perfect? Obviously not. But have we made significant progress? Have the Pakistanis made significant progress? Are they doing a lot to help us? The answer is yes.

Now, a caveat: The flooding in Pakistan today, in terms of the number of people it affects and the economic consequences, is actually several times worse than the earthquake in 2005. And how much this will impact Pakistan and its army, I think, remains to be seen. And that's one of the reasons why the President has asked us to lean very far forward in providing as much help as we possibly can.

GEN. HOAR: Mr. Secretary, a couple of years ago you had offered up some of the Defense budget in order to fund other parts of the government, most especially AID. Could you comment on our ability to have a more balanced approach towards our efforts in Afghanistan from the other agencies of government that are so important to us?

SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, just to set the record straight, I never offered up any of the Defense budget. (Laughter.) I just said they should have more. (Laughter.)

Actually, the Congress has, over the last several years, provided additional resources for State and Defense. But I would say that I think it's woefully inadequate. And let me just give you a couple of statistics that indicate the situation. If you took every Foreign Service Officer in the world and added them up, the number would not be enough to crew one aircraft carrier. There are about 6,000 FSOs. Condi Rice used to say we have more people in military bands than they have in the Foreign Service. She was not far wrong. (Laughter.)

When I left the government in 1993, the Agency for International Development had been a huge player in our success in the Cold War. When I left the government, it had about 16,000 employees, dedicated experts who were deployable, who were accustomed to working in insecure conditions in developing countries, and had all the specialties -- in agronomy, rule of law, education, you name it.

When I came back into government in 2006, at the end of 2006, AID had 3,000 employees and mainly was a contracting agency. This is a capability we have denied ourselves, and it is a huge opportunity for us. But these institutions need to be rebuilt and strengthened. Because of the size of the Defense Department, it is critically important that they receive additional resources so we can have rule of -- so we can have whole-of-government efforts to resolve a lot of the problems we're dealing with.

Now, the reality is they have really turned too. The number of civilians from the State Department and AID in Afghanistan has tripled since the first of the year, from about 300 to over a -- almost a thousand. So there's been a huge effort on the part of these agencies. But there just still is not enough critical mass there for them to play the role that they should.

And I will tell you, Congress is part of the problem. When I sent my budget to the Hill for roughly $550 billion, the Senate voted me $550 billion as the budget allocation. That's not what (I got out of the appropriators, but that's what the allocation was.

Hillary Clinton sent up a budget of about $50 billion, and they whacked four or five billion dollars out of it. So there has to be a change in attitude in the recognitions of the critical role that agencies like State and AID play for them to play the leading role that I think they need to play in most of these situations.

GEN. HOAR: Sir, you mentioned in that discussion the issue of contractors. I know that's an important part of the guidance with respect to reductions. Can you speak to the short term on how you would deal with some of the important aspects of what contractors do that we can manage as we cut back on the total number?

SEC. GATES: Well, I'm going to give the services and the various defense agencies a good deal of flexibility. I'm not telling them to cut 10 percent out of every contract. What I'm telling them is that "If your budget for contracting is 'x,' then, beginning in FY '11, you're going to get 'x' minus 10 percent. And you have to prioritize those contracts. Not all contracts are created equal, and some need to go by the way."

And so I think that the services and others will have the flexibility they need that they can fully fund contracts that are important and the contractors that are performing important work that we can't do, and at the same time begin to cut back on those that are redundant or where it's nice to have but not really critically important.

GEN. HOAR: You mentioned the issue of Pakistan and the difficulties that we have had historically. Is there some -- is there some value in extending how we deal with Afghanistan to a larger base? For example, China and Russia, perhaps Iran, India. India's penetration in Afghanistan is considerable, and this is part of the Pakistani problem. Is there a way to broaden our efforts there to the other neighbors with the hope that we can solve some of these long-lasting regional problems?

SEC. GATES: Actually, we're doing that. And that is one of the important roles, in my opinion, that Ambassador Holbrooke is playing. He has spent a lot of time on the road dealing with all of Afghanistan's neighbors, with the exception, obviously, of Iran. But the whole idea is to get others engaged.

And I'll tell you something that I wouldn't have believed three, four years ago. We have created an alternative supply network with Pakistan called the Northern Distribution Network, and we have now sent something on the order of 20,000 containers across Russia through Central Asia to Afghanistan.

The Russians have been very cooperative in this respect. So have the Central Asian nations. About 50 percent of the sustainment supplies that are going into Afghanistan are now going across this Northern Distribution Network. So other countries have been cooperating with us, have been helping us, even if they don't have troops in Afghanistan. But clearly we need to keep them engaged.

GEN. HOAR: With all of the attention that we have paid to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last few years, I'm sure our friends in the Navy are concerned about our ability to meet peer competitors in other places, notably the Western Pacific. Are you comfortable with where the naval forces are? And while you're thinking about naval forces, you might talk a little bit about amphibious shipping too.

SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, I am concerned that we don't have enough ships. I am concerned that there is not enough money in the shipbuilding accounts. And we're not even to the point where we're beginning to think about replacing the Ohio class ballistic missile submarines that will come toward the end of this decade. We're working hard to get the cost of that down, but there -- even if we're really successful, those are still going to be about five billion dollars apiece, so -- which is down from the original estimates of over seven billion, so we're making headway. (Laughter.)

But if -- one of the things in this -- in this budget exercise that we have under way -- there are -- there are two aspects of it that I think are important. One is to incentivize the services to find savings. I am telling them that whatever they -- whatever savings they find in overhead, redundancy, weak programs that they're prepared to take action on, they can keep that money to reinvest in their highest-priority investments for the future -- modernization and for future investments. I suspect in the Navy that will probably be -- shipbuilding will be pretty close to the top of that list.

Now, for the defense agencies, the combatant commands and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, they don't get that deal. All the savings they find, I'm taking -- (laughter) -- and going to give to the services to invest in future -- in force structure, modernization and future investments, and taking care of our men and women in uniform.

So the idea here is to use this entire enterprise to reenergize some funding streams that, frankly, just haven't been -- haven't been big enough. And I think the Navy is headed in the right direction in this respect. And these savings that we anticipate I think are going to give us some help, both from inside the Navy and from the rest of the Defense Department outside the other services.

We clearly need to have amphibious capability. The question that all of us need to think about is how much. These big decks -- the Peleliu, which is off of Pakistan; the Kearsarge, that is going to relieve it -- these are enormously versatile ships that give us huge options, whether it's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, or just platforms for special forces, or a number of other activities, including projecting both Ospreys and helicopters across the water into countries. So I think there's a lot of -- and we have, I think, a pretty good budgetary allocation for these amphibious ships, but I think we do have to address how many we need and how many we -- how many more we should buy and how many we should sustain in the fleet.

GEN. HOAR: Sir, while we're in the Western Pacific, would you talk for a moment about the threats of North Korea and how we might work -- not only with South Korea, but perhaps with China as well, to reduce that threat?

SEC GATES: Well, I will -- I will say that I think that the administration has bent every effort to try and work with China in dealing with North Korea. And the problem is, I think one of the worries -- one of the main worries I have about North Korea is that they appear to be starting a succession process, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Kim Jong-il's son, who wants to take over, has to -- has to earn his stripes with the North Korean military. And my worry is that that's behind a provocation like the sinking of the Cheonan. And so I think we're very concerned that this may not be the only provocation from the North Koreans.

And what worries the Chinese -- and I think justifiably so, but to the exclusion of everything else -- is the prospect of instability in North Korea, of the collapse of the regime, which would send millions of North Korean refugees across their border. And so I think that's one of the reasons why they are unwilling to put much pressure on that regime, because maybe they, even more than we -- believe it's very frail.

But the fact is that North Korea continues to try and smuggle missiles and weapons to others around the world -- Burma, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas. They continue with their development of long-range missiles and their nuclear program. This is -- this is a very, very tough national security problem.

GEN. HOAR: Speaking of difficult security problems, would you speak a little bit to the development of a nuclear capability in Iran and where we are with respect to that problem and the degree to which that the government of Israel and the United States are in sync with respect to how to respond, if at all?

SEC. GATES: Well, first I would say that we are working very closely with the Israelis. We have very intense intelligence exchanges with them. We've done a lot to help them develop their defenses against missiles, principally, obviously, looking at Iran. We've put a specialized radar in Israel. We have Aegis-equipped ships in the Eastern Mediterranean for early warning. We have helped them with the development of their Iron Dome system to try and go after shorter-range missiles.

So I would say I think that our security cooperation with Israel is probably as intense in concrete terms as it has been in a long time.

I would say that in my career that Iran is one of the most frustrating and challenging national security problems the United States has faced. If they acquire nuclear weapons, there will almost certainly be proliferation, a race for proliferation in the region, with several other countries going -- determined to get nuclear weapons, if Iran has them. To have a proliferation problem in the most volatile part of the world cannot be a good development.

On the other hand -- we've talked about this before -- I think we've seen vividly enough in Iraq that every war is unpredictable, and it has unintended consequences and is more difficult than people -- may expect. And I think a military attack on Iran would have enormous consequences in a variety of ways. We have to keep that option open. We have to make sure that the president has every available option in these circumstances.

I will say that all the evidence is -- particularly this last round of sanctions, is really beginning to bite the Iranians. And they hate to be isolated, and they are isolated. They hate these resolutions. You may not think the U.N. resolutions are strong enough, but the fact that the entire Security Council votes -- and particularly Russia and China vote against them -- has real impact. And the Security Council resolution provides a legal platform beyond which individual countries can then take dramatically more severe steps against Iran, and that's happening now.

So the question is, how do you -- how do you push the timeline on Iran forward to give them time to make them realize the costs of their nuclear program and of their international isolation in a way that they are willing to agree to a peaceful nuclear program with appropriate safeguards, with the IAEA and other nations, so that we know they're not building nuclear weapons?

The only long-term solution to this challenge is for the Iranian government itself to decide that having nuclear weapons diminishes their security rather than enhances it. And so we're working with neighbors in the region, in terms of building their missile defense capabilities and their military capabilities.

We are continuing the sanctions. We are continuing the political pressures. We're looking at, how can we -- what would it take for us to say yes? What would they have to do in terms of this program, for us to be confident enough that we could have a negotiated or a diplomatic solution to this problem?

But we are ready with all options. But this was a very, very tough problem for the Bush administration and an equally tough problem for the Obama administration.

GEN. HOAR: Staying on that subject, sir, a few years ago, Hamad bin Jassim, at that time the foreign minister of the state of Qatar, traveled to Tehran to explain to the Iranians that in the event of an attack on Iran that Qatar would not be a participant in supporting it.

And his interlocutors indicated that regardless -- if there were to be an attack, that because the Iranians weren't capable of reaching U.S. targets, that targets up and down the Persian Gulf would be the ones that they would strike.

You mentioned that there's been greater movement towards particularly Patriots in Kuwait. And it's my understanding that they're also in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Are we prepared to sell military equipment to the GCC countries that will assist them in protecting their own, particularly their fixed installations?

Beyond that in the region, can you speak a little bit to the problems that we face in Yemen and in Somalia with al-Qaeda and related kinds of activities?

SEC. GATES: Well, one of -- one of the problems we must face is that while al-Qaeda in North Waziristan and in the Federally Administered Territories in Pakistan remains a problem, remains a source of inspiration and training for terrorists, and remains if you will the ideological heartland of this -- of al-Qaeda, the problem has -- the challenge they pose has metastasized.

And so we find groups like al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb. We see some activity in Sudan. We see al-Shabab in Somalia trying to establish a relationship with al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda telling them -- the leaders of al-Qaeda telling them, don't focus so much on trying to take over your own country, go after the United States, go after the West; this is where -- this is -- you need to get those guys out of the region and then you can do what you want.

So it has become a more difficult problem. The difference of course is that in Yemen, we have a country and a leader that is willing to cooperate with us and work with us in this. And so we're trying to build their capabilities.

Somalia is a very tough problem, because it's difficult to get in there, it's difficult to identify the training camps, it's difficult to see exactly what these guys are doing. And what we may be seeing is more people from Somalia, trained terrorists, going to Yemen or going outside of Somalia to try and get to the U.S.

So this problem is not going away. This challenge of extremist terrorism is more dispersed than it was before 2001. But it is still a mortal threat to us.

GEN. HOAR: Sir, we have time for one more question. We have several questions about Iraq. Perhaps I could summarize them by saying, most everybody seems to be interested what that country is going to look like after the withdrawal of American combat troops. And if you could share with us, how do you see that unfolding?

SEC. GATES: Well, I think -- as the White House announced yesterday, we met on this a couple of days ago with the President and General Odierno when Ambassador Hill reported on the situation in Iraq. And here again the narrative hasn't quite gotten through. General Odierno reported, among other things, that the violence in Iraq has been at the lowest level over the past two weeks as it has been since the -- since we went 2003.

So there are some isolated groups that continue to try and suggest that they play an important part. A lot of these bombings that are taking place are by the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq. But the fact is, these guys are doing politics.

I was somewhat heartened in terms of the time it's taking them to put together a government when I learned that it was going to take the Dutch about four and a half months to put together a coalition government. (Soft laughter.) But they're not shooting at each other; they're negotiating. And to tell you the truth, we expected it to take several months for them to put a government together.

But consider this. Iraq in 10 years could be producing as much oil as Saudi Arabia and could be a very rich country. And if it is able to sustain the democracy that it has today, I think it will change the entire equation in the Middle East. That's the -- that's the optimistic scenario. There are all kinds of more pessimistic scenarios.

But I think Iraq's future is open now. And it's a little bit like what happened in the Soviet Union in 1991. No one was sure what would come later, but for the first time in their history the Russian people had a choice and the future was open to them. I think the same thing is true of Iraq today.

Thank you.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Soldiers Missing in Action from Vietnam War Identified

                The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors. 

                U.S. Army 1st Lt. Paul G. Magers of Sidney, Neb., will be buried on Aug. 27 in Laurel, Mont., and Army Chief Warrant Officer Donald L. Wann of Shawnee, Okla., will be buried on Aug. 21 in Fort Gibson, Okla. 
                On June 1, 1971, both men were flying aboard an AH-1 Cobra gunship in support of an emergency extraction of an Army ranger team in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.  After the rangers were extracted, helicopters were ordered to destroy claymore mines which had been left behind in the landing zone.  During this mission their helicopter was hit by ground fire, crashed and exploded.  Pilots who witnessed the explosions concluded that no one could have survived the crash and explosions.  Enemy activity in the area precluded a ground search.

                In 1990, analysts from DPMO, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and their predecessor organizations interviewed both American and Vietnamese witnesses and produced leads for field investigations. In 1993 and 1998, two U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams, led by JPAC, surveyed the suspected crash site and found artifacts and debris consistent with a Cobra gunship.  In mid-1999, another joint team excavated the site, but it stopped for safety reasons when the weather deteriorated.  No remains were recovered, but the team did find wreckage associated with the specific crash they were investigating.

                The Vietnamese government subsequently declared the region within Quang Tri Province where the aircraft crashed as off-limits to U.S. personnel, citing national security concerns. As part of an agreement with JPAC, a Vietnamese team unilaterally excavated the site and recovered human remains and other artifacts in 2008.  The Vietnamese returned to the site in 2009, expanded the excavation area and discovered more remains and additional evidence.

                Forensic analysis, circumstantial evidence and the mitochondrial DNA match to the Magers and Wann families by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory confirmed the identification of the remains.

                For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at or call 703-699-1169.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Army Strives to Reduce Suicide, Mental-health Issues

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2010 - The Army is striving to reduce soldier suicides and mental-health problems by giving troops more dwell time between deployments, identifying tell-tale symptoms more quickly and eliminating the stigma of seeking help, the Army vice chief of staff said today.

Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli recapped findings of a task force he commissioned to reduce soldier suicides and mental-health problems during an interview with Christiane Amanpour on ABC's "This Week."

The task force offered 250 recommendations, including establishing health promotion councils at each installation, expanding behavioral health screenings and recruiting additional behavioral health counselors.

"We have a force that has been stressed after almost a decade of war," Chiarelli said today, with many that have been home for just 12 to 16 months between 12- to 15-month deployments.

In some cases, this stress has led to problems with alcohol and drug abuse, legal troubles, mental-health issues and, in the most extreme cases, suicide.

The first step in reducing that stress level, Chiarelli said, is to provide soldiers 24 months before year-long deployments, and ultimately, three months at home for every month deployed.

"We know when that happens many of the problems that we've seen will in fact meliorate themselves," Chiarelli said.

Meanwhile, the Army is bolstering its behavioral health staff and encouraging more soldiers to take advantage of their services, he said.

It's an effort Chiarelli said starts at the top. "If you want to get at stigma, you start with the brigade commander [and] brigade command sergeant major and work right down the chain of command so every soldier sees his leader going through the same checks that the soldier's going to go through," he said.

"Leaders need to lead, to know their soldiers, to look for those signs that they see that Pfc. Chiarelli has changed. Pfc. Chiarelli is going out and maybe drinking a little bit too much, showing up for work late, whatever it might be," he said.

Part of the problem, he conceded, is that too many soldiers recognize that they need help, but put off getting it because they feel such a personal responsibility to their units and battle buddies.

"That's one of the issues that we have to get through is we try to break down stigma -- to get soldiers to understand that these hidden wounds of war are things that they've got to seek help for when they have problems," Chiarelli said.

The Army also is exploring innovative approaches to identify troops grappling with the emotional stresses of combat and get them the care they need.

"We're looking for new ways to be able to deliver behavior health, such as virtual behavior health where we literally bring up a network using the Internet, using the network of doctors, say 200, from all over the United States who can, in fact, provide a good, good look at our soldiers when they return," Chiarelli said.

Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli

Related Articles:
Army Releases Suicide Report, Prevention Recommendations

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Marking 20 Years Since Operation Desert Shield

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2010 - When Iraqi forces began pouring over the border into neighboring Kuwait, most Americans would have had a hard time finding the country on a map.

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered his troops to occupy Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990 – calling the oil-rich nation Iraq's "19th province."

At the top of the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is a strategic country. It is a prominent member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Controlling Kuwait meant that Iraq would significantly increase its share of the world's oil reserves.

The world was shocked by the Iraqi move, and neighboring Saudi Arabia was alarmed. No one was sure whether Iraq would stop at the border with Saudi Arabia or move forces into some of the most productive oil fields in the world.

A total of 140,000 Iraqi soldiers, supported by 850 tanks, entered Kuwait on Aug. 2. While tensions with Iraq were high, Kuwait had not alerted its forces. Iraqi aircraft bombed Kuwait City and the air bases in the country. Kuwaiti army units launched attacks against the invading forces, but they were far outnumbered, and the ruling family barely was able to escape to Saudi Arabia before Iraqi forces ringed Kuwait City.

Kuwait turned to the United Nations, and the Security Council passed a resolution calling for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and asking member nations to work together toward that goal.

President George H.W. Bush ordered American air, sea and ground forces to Saudi Arabia, beginning Operation Desert Shield on Aug. 7, 1990. That day, the Air Force sent 48 F-15 fighters of the 1st Fighter Wing from Langley Air Force Base, Va., to Saudi Arabia, where they immediately began patrolling the Saudi-Kuwait-Iraq border areas. The Navy sent the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Independence carrier battle groups to the region. The Army and Marine Corps mobilized to send ground forces to Saudi Arabia, with the leading edge of the Army's 82nd and 101st airborne divisions arriving Aug. 8.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Colin L. Powell began a schedule of near-constant traveling to meet with counterparts around the world.

Those other nations hurried troops, ships and aircraft to the area, where they fell in on the American and Saudi forces and what was left of the Kuwaiti military. The coalition that eventually formed was broad-based, and included 34 nations from Argentina to Bangladesh. Iraqi neighbors Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt also participated to roll back the aggression.

The troops landed in Saudi Arabia during the hottest time of the year. Anyone who can afford to tries to leave Saudi Arabia in August; the temperatures regularly rise to more than 130 degrees, and the prevailing winds from the Persian Gulf bring humidity. The media were full of pictures of American servicemembers slamming down bottles of water as sweat stained their "chocolate chip" desert camouflage uniforms.

In the United States, Desert Shield necessitated the first major call-up of reserve component forces since the war in Korea. Under an order Bush signed on Aug. 22, National Guard and other reserve-component forces reported for duty.

The coalition commander they reported to was Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. The media called him "Stormin' Norman." A West Point graduate who had served in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf had been the commander of U.S. Central Command since 1988. One of the plans on Centcom's shelf was the defense of the oil fields against an Iraqi invasion.

At the time, the Iraqi army was the fourth-largest in the world. American planners stressed the force was battle tested and had a large percentage of combat veterans from the Iran-Iraq War in its ranks. That war – the first launched by Saddam Hussein – lasted from 1980 to 1988, and Iraq held its own against a country three times larger. Centcom officials expected a battle to drive Iraq out of Kuwait would be long and costly.

At the beginning of August, there was little that would halt any Iraqi offensive into Saudi Arabia. By the middle of the month, air, sea and ground assets had grown. By the end of August, Desert Shield had grown to be able to defeat any attack into Saudi Arabia.

Now the question was: What next?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Helping troubled vets

The Labor Department is working to open doors for veterans looking for a second chance.

Recovery Act Funds to Help Veterans or maybe not?

This is all fine and dandy but I will bet you dollars to donuts it won't help resolve the claims back log or give more access to health care fror veterans. They cannot evewn pay off a simple dependency claim off in a timely fashion expect more of the same from the VA and veterans will suffer for it. The Va has made improvements I will grant you but it is a tragically flawed bureaucracy that needs rebuilt top to bottom. 1.8 Billion in stimulus money should go straight to processing and paying off the million or so claims they have yet to handle before anything resembling large infrastructure should be addressed just my opinion.

VA Obligates Last of its Recovery Act Funds to Help Veterans

$1.8 Billion Investment Improves Care and Services for Veterans

WASHINGTON (August 5, 2010)- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
committed the last of its $1.8 billion in Recovery Act funds July 31,
one of the first federal agencies to achieve that milestone.  Projects
at more than 1,200 sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and
Puerto Rico will increase access to health care and services to
Veterans, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

"Veterans across the Nation are benefiting from these Recovery Act
funds," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "Recovery
Act projects are improving medical care, speeding claims processing,
enhancing our national cemeteries, advancing our energy efficiency, and
generating jobs for Americans."

VA rapidly put American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act)
funding to work to improve its medical facilities, revitalize its
national cemeteries, hire claims processors, upgrade technology systems
and assist states in acquiring, building or remodeling state nursing
homes and domiciliary facilities for Veterans.

The funding received by VA is part of President Obama's economic
recovery plan to improve services to America's Veterans.  By obligating
these funds quickly, VA is revitalizing its infrastructure and moving
needed money into the economy.

Using Recovery Act funds, VA entered into 1,521 contracts with 696
contractors. Three-quarters of the contractors are Veterans owned
businesses, either service disabled Veteran owned businesses or Veteran
owned small businesses.

Health Care Services Enhanced

VA obligated $1 billion to improve VA medical care facilities across the
country through building renovations, roadway and walkway repairs, high
cost equipment replacement, security improvements, new construction,
replacement of steam lines and boiler plants, upgrades in emergency
power distribution, and purchases of additional emergency generators
among others.

To help Veterans access care, Recovery Act projects in VA medical
facilities will add or improve more than 26,000 parking spaces and 39
elevator banks are being built or upgraded. VA will upgrade nearly
14,000 inpatient bed spaces, while 16 pharmacy renovation projects will
help Veterans get medicines quicker and more efficiently.  More than
14,400 clinical improvement projects, some with multiple exam rooms,
will be undertaken.

Funds are also helping ensure VA health care facilities function more
efficiently (by reducing annual recurring maintenance and upkeep cost)
and are equipped to provide world-class care to Veterans.

Specific projects include:

*                     Bedford, Mass., VA Medical Center (VAMC) mental
health unit renovation, $7.165 million;

*                     Philadelphia VAMC emergency room renovations,
$4.74 million;

*                     Cleveland VAMC surgical suite refurbishment, $8.5

*                     New Haven, Conn., VAMC private and semi-private
inpatient units, $7.743 million;

*                     Hines, Ill., VAMC electrical distribution
infrastructure upgrade, $8 million.


VA serves 5.5 million Veterans annually in its hospitals, outpatient
clinics and rural health programs.

Energy Conservation

VA is promoting energy conservation and reducing its environmental
footprint by investing $200 million in Recovery Act funds for renewable
energy generation technologies, metering systems, and energy
conservation and water-saving measures.  In total, the renewable energy
systems awarded represent more than 9 megawatts of planned power
generating capacity from solar, wind, and cogeneration technologies.

Two national cemeteries, in Bourne, Mass., and San Joaquin, Calif.,
anticipate producing enough electricity to supply nearly all of their
energy needs.

VA is installing solar photovoltaic systems at facilities in
Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Dublin, Ga.; Calverton, N.Y.; San
Joaquin, Calif., and Riverside, Calif.

VA is erecting a wind turbine in Bourne, Mass., and is constructing a
geothermal system at its medical center in St. Cloud, Minn.

In addition, VA is building renewably fueled cogeneration systems at
five medical facilities:  Togus, Maine; White River Junction, Vt.;
Chillicothe, Ohio; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Canandaigua, N.Y.

VA is installing metering systems at all VA-owned facilities to monitor
energy utilities, including electricity, water, chilled water, steam,
and natural gas consumption.

VA is also investing $197 million in energy and water infrastructure
improvements.  VA facilities across the country are upgrading their
facilities to reduce energy consumption and water usage and better
manage related costs.

Claims Processing Improvements

VA is working to improve the systems for processing claims to more
quickly and efficiently deliver benefits to Veterans.  VA has obligated
$150 million to hire, train and equip new employees to improve claims
processing and speed the delivery of benefits to Veterans.  VA has hired
approximately 2,700 temporary and permanent employees to assist with
processing Veterans' claims for VA benefits.

National Cemeteries Revitalized

Throughout VA's system of 131 national cemeteries, 391 improvement
projects are underway using $50 million in Recovery Act funding.   VA is
restoring and preserving 49 historic monuments and memorials, becoming
more energy efficient by investing in renewable energy sources (solar
and wind), moving forward on nine energy conservation projects, and
improving access and visitor safety with 49 road, paving and grounds
improvement projects.

Recovery Act funds are also being used to raise, realign, and clean
approximately 200,000 headstones and markers, repair sunken graves, and
renovate turf at 22 VA national cemeteries.

One-time Benefit Payments

The Recovery Act provided one-time $250 economic recovery payments to
eligible Veterans, their survivors, and dependents to help mitigate the
effects of the current economy.  $7.1 million were intended for
administrative support of the one-time benefit payments.  VA was able to
successfully administer the program with a savings of approximately $6.1
million, and may return the remaining funds to the US Treasury.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Lavelle Posthumously Nominated to General Injustice Corrected

Lavelle Posthumously Nominated to General

            The Department of Defense announced today that retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John D. Lavelle has been nominated posthumously by the President for advancement on the retired rolls to the rank of general.  This follows an Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records decision and recommendations from the secretary of defense and secretary of the Air Force. 

            In April 1972, Lavelle was removed from command as a result of allegations that he ordered unauthorized bombing missions into North Vietnam, and that he authorized the falsification of reports to conceal the missions.  Lavelle was retired in the grade of major general, two grades lower than the last grade he served on active duty.  Lavelle died in 1979.  

            In 2007, newly released and declassified information resulted in evidence that Lavelle was authorized by President Richard Nixon to conduct the bombing missions.  Further, the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records found no evidence Lavelle caused, either directly or indirectly, the falsification of records, or that he was even aware of their existence.  Once he learned of the reports, Lavelle took action to ensure the practice was discontinued. 

            In light of the new information, a request was made to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records for reinstatement to the grade of general, Lavelle's last grade while on active duty.    

            The evidence presented clearly corrected the historical record and warranted a reassessment of Lavelle's retired grade.  

            For more information, media should call Air Force Public Affairs, at 703-695-0640.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

On the Web:
Media Contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public Contact: or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1