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Friday, April 30, 2010

Alabama companies awarded defense contract

Wyle Laboratories, Inc. of Huntsville was awarded a $24,014,219 contract which will provide for the research, test and development, and delivery of architectural drawings; system/subsystems/infrastructure/prototype assessments; system alternatives recommendations; feasibility studies; interoperability testing; results; survey and infrastructure implementation designs; schedules and summary reports.

At this time, $160,725 has been obligated.

55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity.


PPG Aerospace Transparencies of Huntsville is being awarded a maximum $50,126,406 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for aircraft windshields.

There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy.

The original proposal was solicited via the Internet Bid Board System Web site with one response.

The date of performance completion is April 29, 2011.

The Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., is the contracting activity.
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alabamian killed in Afghanistan

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Thomas E. Rivers Jr., 22, of Birmingham, Ala., died April 28 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Aegis Technologies Group, Inc. of Huntsville, was awarded a $20,481,517 contract which will provide the Air Force Modeling and Simulation Training Toolkit, which is a non-commercial, government-owned simulation system used to train the Joint Force Command, Joint Force Air Component Commander, and their battle staff in multiple federation environments.

At this time, $1,483,700 has been obligated.

753 ESG, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Social media opens up on AF bases, including Maxwell

What's that? Facebook on a Department of Defense computer?

Yup, it's happening.

The Air Force began this week to open access to social media sites.

Pacific Air Forces bases gained access earlier as the test run of the Air Force-wide initiative, according to an Air Force release.

Air Force Space Command, Air Education and Training Command and Air Mobility Command bases began getting access to social media sites April 26. Maxwell Air Force Base now has access.

Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and United States Air Forces in Europe will get access beginning May 1. During the final phase, Air National Guard bases will get access beginning May 6.

It will take up to five business days to open up every base in each major command because technicians in the Integrated Network Operations and Security Centers responsible for opening social media access must account for the different major command network infrastructures, according to the AF release. They also must allow members of the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team to provide required services to each MAJCOM as they are granted access.

Earlier this spring, DoD released
the beginnings of policy for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online social networking sites.

I reported in March on the policy, known as Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026, which is nine pages laying out basic rules for military members and DoD staffers using social network sites.

It came after a year of policy reversals by the different military branches and DoD as a whole that seemed a bit schizophrenic.

Last summer, the Army lifted its ban on some social media, but the Marine Corps banned all social media sites. Then DoD contemplated a department-wide ban on all social media.

The Air Force was hit or miss in accessibility. Some bases and commands allowed access; others did not. But the Air Force did create the Emerging Technology division of its Public Affairs Agency at the Pentagon.

And at Maxwell Air Force Base, the Web site was redesigned and a Twitter account launched.

The ambiguous policies came as public affairs officers, commanders and military units were launching blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. The Air Force created and launched its own version of YouTube, known as BlueTube.

The new DTM set the military default switch to open access, Price Floyd said during a bloggers roundtable on the policy earlier this year. He was hired in June as DoD's principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

Security of course, is still priority uno.

DoD officials are working on more detailed regulations, educating troops on the new policies and figuring out the record keeping of what's said through social media. Some of those details include guidance for commanders in the field, like Afghanistan and Iraq, where bandwidth is limited and security concerns heightened. Access to social media can be restricted temporarily, the new policy states, but there's no definition yet as to what is considered temporary.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Hunt Refining Co. of Tuscaloosa is being awarded a maximum $52,684,167 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation fuel.

There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. The original proposal was Web solicited with 27 responses.

The date of performance completion is April 30, 2011.

The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New commander coming to Redstone

A new commander is coming to Redstone Arsenal.

Maj. Gen. James E. Rogers is currently the commanding general, 1st Theater Sustainment Command at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

The Department of Defense announced today that he is being assigned as the commanding general of U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sessions on EADS and the tanker

The following was released by Sen. Jeff Sessions' office today regarding EADS entering the tanker bid process. The Alabamian is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The Pentagon should be delighted by today’s announcement from EADS. Just a few weeks ago, this major acquisition program was headed toward a sole-source selection process, despite an unequivocal Congressional mandate for competition. EADS’ bold decision to bid alone salvages that competition, and should be music to the ears of taxpayers and the men and women in uniform who will depend on this aircraft for decades to come. Compared to a sole-source deal that clearly undermines competition and would result in an inferior aircraft being provided to our war fighters, a true competition is far more likely to produce an aircraft with better capabilities at a lower price.

“The EADS team is clearly confident that they can submit a competitive proposal and are justifiably proud of the plane they can build for the Air Force. To continue this procurement without considering that aircraft—which overwhelmingly won when this process was conducted under the Air Force’s original rules—would have been a tragic mistake. Air Force officials have repeatedly stated a need for a multi-role, transformational aircraft that can support military activities around the globe, and we know from the previous evaluation that the EADS aircraft is best equipped to satisfy those demands.

“Although this contest appears to now have two participants, it will not be a true competition until it is conducted on a level playing field. Serious concerns still remain regarding the fairness of the Pentagon’s RFP, which was dramatically altered in ways that clearly favor one side over the other. I will continue to encourage senior Department of Defense officials to address those concerns. Ensuring that every aspect of the process is conducted properly will send a strong message that the Pentagon is serious about selecting the best aircraft for the military and the taxpayer.”
Monday, April 19, 2010

Sessions reacts to another lawmakers remards on tanker contract

Just got this from Sen. Sessions' office:

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following statement today regarding comments made by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) regarding the Air Force Tanker Recapitalization Program:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Norm Dicks, would publically engage in political intimidation to restrict competition on any contract, much less one that would directly affect the men and women in our Armed Services.

“Chairman Dicks said last week that he hoped U.S. companies would not partner with European-based EADS to compete for the Air Force’s refueling tanker contract. By this admission, Chairman Dicks is attempting to restrict competition—a competition mandated by Congress—on the second-largest defense contract in the history of the United States to the sole benefit of one company. I believe that many Americans view this as brazenly inappropriate behavior.

“If Chairman Dicks is successful in politically intimidating contractors from partnering with EADS, there could be two negative impacts. First, taxpayers may be forced to pay more for a new aircraft than is warranted, and second, the aircraft’s value and capability to the war fighter will likely decrease, rather than increase as it would through a competitive procurement process.

“Defense companies should understand that, contrary to Representative Dick’s comments, the majority of members in the House and Senate want a robust competition engineered not to benefit a single company, but to produce the best airplane for the war fighter.

“I encourage U.S. companies to consider partnering with EADS, which was part of the team originally selected by the Air Force to build this airplane. Chairman Dicks should know that the men and women of our Armed Services deserve the transformational aircraft that the Air Force has repeatedly said it needs to support military operations around the world. The company that can build that aircraft should win the competition, free from political interference.”

“I intend to raise these troubling comments with senior Department of Defense officials when I meet with them at the Pentagon this week. I would hope that the Secretary of Defense would condemn statements of this nature, which only serve to politicize and corrupt this competitive process.”

'The Wall that Heals' is coming to the Tuscaloosa VA in June

From the VA, coming to Tuscaloosa this summer:

The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will bring the message of The Wall home to Tuscaloosa from June 9 to June 13.

Located at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, the exhibition will feature the dramatic replica – stretching nearly 250 feet in total length – as well as an Information Center and traveling museum displaying memorabilia left at The Wall in Washington, D.C. Special activities planned include opening and closing ceremonies, a reading of each name of the service members from Alabama listed on The Wall and other events to be announced.

The Wall That Heals, allows the many thousands of Vietnam veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of “facing The Wall” to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin.

“Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, the Marine Corps League, and the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport are very honored to bring this event to Tuscaloosa, in order to help the healing process begin for those veterans that we so proudly serve,” said Damon Stevenson, Public Affairs Officer for the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

The Wall That Heals exhibition is organized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization charged with preserving The Wall in Washington, D.C., and its vast legacy. National sponsors of the tour include Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Trust, Federal Express, Geico, New Century Transportation, Harley-Davidson Foundation and Target Corporation. Local sponsors include the Mike Spann Detachment of the Marine Corps League and the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

The Wall That Heals will begin with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. on June 9 and will then be open 24 hours a day until 5 p.m. on June 13. There is no charge for admission. For more information on The Wall That Heals, contact Connie Booth at 205-554-3673 or

Three Alabama companies recognized for miltary support

This was released last week while I was out of town:

Three Alabama employers have been selected as semifinalists for the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award is the U.S. Government’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the award which was instituted in 1996 under then Secretary of Defense William Perry. Nominations for the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award were accepted from November 2009 through mid-January 2010.

Of Alabama’s 57 nominations for the Freedom Award, Alabama Power Company of Mobile, the Birmingham Police Department and Spiritus Inc. of Huntsville were selected as semifinalists. Examples of semifinalists support for their Guard and Reserve employees include providing the difference between military and civilian salary during deployments, continuation of full benefits, care packages and even family support to employees fulfilling their military obligation.

The three Alabama employers are among 130 semifinalists from across the nation, selected from more than 2,500 nominations submitted by Guard and Reserve members or their families for outstanding employer support.

From this field, a national review board will now select 30 finalists for the award. A national selection board comprised of senior defense officials, business leaders and prior Freedom Award recipients, representing small business, large business and public sector employers, will then select the 15 recipients for the 2010 Freedom Award. The Department of Defense will announce the 2010 finalists in May and the award recipients in early summer. The 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., September 23rd at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center.

About ESGR & the Freedom Award

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 whose mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve Service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law and resolving conflict through mediation. Since 1996, only 130 companies have been presented with the prestigious Freedom Award. Previous honorees include Microsoft, Sears, Home Depot, American Airlines and Miller Brewing Company. For more information, please visit

Alabama company awarded defense contract

American Apparel, Inc. of Selma is being awarded a maximum $20,815,122 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity contract for combat utility uniform.

Other locations of performance are in Alabama. Using service is Marine Corps.

Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The original proposal was Web solicited with ten responses.

This contract is exercising the fourth option year period. The date of performance completion is April 18, 2011.

The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More jobs coming to Montgomery, at the VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its Montgomery VA regional benefits office have been authorized to hire 34 new employees to assist with processing veterans' claims for VA benefits.

The Montgomery VA regional office was authorized to hire 34 new employees to assist with processing Veterans’ claims for VA benefits. The new jobs came from federal dollars allocated under the Recovery Act, enacted by Congress in February 2009.

The new staffers will help handle the massive backlog of claims at the Montgomery regional office. Glen E. Struchtemeyer, director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, told veterans last month that Montgomery has one of the largest backlogs of claims nationwide. His staff has a backlog of compensation and pension exams that support the regional office and they've asked for help from other VA offices statewide to lighten the load.

“The jobs created under the Recovery Act are a real boost to Alabama's economy,” VA Regional Office Director Ricardo Randle said in a release. “These new employees are a great resource to our office, and the assistance they provide allows us to better serve Alabama's veterans and their dependents.”

The new hires are involved in administrative work supporting the professional adjudicators who make compensation, pension or education decisions, or process changes in veterans’ benefits. VA expects the additional staffing will help to deliver veterans their benefits as quickly as possible.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $150 million for the program to hire and train the new staffers. Nationally, VA has put 2,300 people to work in benefits offices including 500 new staff members hired as permanent employees.

While Recovery Act funding for the term employees will expire in September 2010, the 2011 president's budget includes funds to retain or replace these employees on a permanent basis and to hire more than 2,000 additional new processors.

In addition to bolstering the benefits office staffing, the law is funding more than $1 billion of improvements at VA medical centers and national cemeteries around the country.

More information about VA benefits is available at or veterans may contact one of VA's Call Center representatives at 1-800-827-1000.

Montcomery CAVHCS campus expanding

The Montgomery campus of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System is expanding.

Glen E. Struchtemeyer, CAVHCS director, told a group of veterans about the expansion earlier this month, as reported by the Advertiser. He was speaking at a meeting of Rep. Mike Rogers' (R-Saks) veterans advisory council on March 31.

He told the veterans that an architecture firm had been hired to begin work on an expansion.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange has scheduled his weekly press briefing to be held at the Montgomery campus on Friday to release more details about the new, 112,000 square foot, leased outpatient clinic in Montgomery.

The facility will use the "medical home" model the Army has adopted. It brings more medical staff and services to one location so patients don't have to go to different offices for different services, Struchtemeyer said.

The clinic at Fort Rucker is expanding, and the Tuskegee facility also is expanding and working to offer more services, including those for homeless veterans.

Local/state military stories

Here's a few stories I've come across today about Alabamians deployed and at home.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Benning soldier one of those killed in Osprey crash

The Department of Defense released today that Cpl. Michael D. Jankiewicz, 23, of Ramsey, N.J., was one of those killed in the April 9 Osprey crash.

He died in Zabul, Afghanistan. Jankiewicz was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.
Friday, April 9, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Fontaine Trailer Military Products of Jasper was awarded on April 1 an $8,765,565 firm-fixed-price contract.

This contract is for 250 M871A3 drop-deck semitrailers ordered through General Services Administration (GSA) contract GS-30F-0018T.

Fontaine Trailer Military Products in the only supplier of the M871A3 semitrailers in the GSA schedule.

A limited source justification was provided and approved by the Contract Management Office on March 8.

Work is to be performed in Jasper, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2010.

One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Contracting Center, Warren CCTA-ATB-D, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Wyle Laboratories, Inc. of Huntsville was awarded a $6,808,382 contract which provides for the research, test, development, and delivery of communication and technical recommendations, technical studies, network operations reports, version updates, engineering studies, and requirements traceability matrices.

At this time, $371,461 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Base officials release air show attendance figures, but unofficial traffic counts are higher

Maxwell Air Force Base officials have released their attendance figures for the Thunder over Alabama air show.

The official numbers are 120,000 for the two day event that included the Air Force's Thunderbirds.

I've been told by other air show organizers that the traffic count was closer to 92,000 on Saturday and 41,000 on Sunday for a total of 134,000.

And those figures don't include those who walked on base or watched from off-base. Although, the traffic count figures also don't account for people who may have driven onto base to go to work or who live on base.
Monday, April 5, 2010

Leadership change at Rucker

The chief of staff of the Army announced this assignment today:
Brig. Gen. Kelly J. Thomas, deputy commanding general/assistant commandant, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker, Ala., to assistant division commander, 2d Infantry Division, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea.
My Photo

I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 

As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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