Third Quarter 2002
NEW NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY
President Bush, in a speech to West Point’s 2002 graduating class, announced a fundamental change to U.S. national security strategy. Describing our current policy of deterrence and containment as outmoded in an age of terrorists and dictators who possess weapons of mass destruction, the President outlined a bold policy that called for the preemptive use of military force and other elements of national power against threats before they attain the capability to attack the United States. He reemphasized the requirement for a military that has the strategic and tactical agility to respond to a wide range of scenarios with little lead time or warning as well as a robust intelligence capability both at home and abroad. AUSA’s analysis of the President’s speech and its implications for the Army. (PDF)
ARMY RETIREMENT SERVICES
The Army has a RADical way for soldiers, retirees and family members to get information on retirement benefits. Retiree Appreciation Days (RADs) are one- or two-day seminars conducted annually at major Army installations, bringing retirees, soldiers and their families up-to-date information on the Army and on changes in retirement benefits as well providing opportunities for visits to medical facilities.
RADs programs consist of guest speakers and displays covering such topics as health care, retired pay, the Survivor Benefit Plan, veterans’ benefits, Social Security, military legal aid, and retirees as adjunct recruiters. Some RADs also include health fairs with blood pressure screening and eye and dental exams for retirees. More information at the Army Retirement Services Home Page.
- Veteran Life Insurance 800-669-8477
- VA Office of Memorial Programs 800-697-6947
- Persian Gulf Vets helpline 800-749-8387
- Gulf War Hospital Records 800-497-6261
- Social Security helpline 800-772-1213
PENTAGON MEMORIAL CONTEST
The Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans for a contest to design a Pentagon memorial to commemorate those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on 11 September 2001. Due to overwhelming interest, the contest will be open to everyone, according to project manager Carol Anderson-Austra.
The deadline for the contest is 11 September 2002. A jury, consisting of professional designers and representatives of victims’ families, will evaluate the designs as they come in and eventually select a group of at least five designs. The final five designers will be given funding and asked to develop their ideas, create a model and work with the victims’ families to ensure that they have input throughout the entire project. The winning design is scheduled to be announced in December and dedicated on 11 September 2003; however, officials are willing to let the process lead them to the outcome, whenever that may be, according to Anderson-Austra.
The site of the memorial will be outside the Pentagon, very close to the area where the impact occurred. Thus far the construction budget for the memorial is two million dollars, although there is also a provision for donations to the project.
Information for the contest. To receive a design competition program, call toll-free 1-866-782-4383. If you require additional information, please call Mary Beth Thompson at 410-962-2809. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
RED CROSS PUBLICATIONS
Among the many publications available through the American Red Cross is one entitled "Welcome Home: A Guide to a Healthy Family Reunion." The pamphlet was created to assist families in dealing with the stress caused by military members returning home after a long deployment. Download pamphlet now. (PDF)
ATLDP NCO STUDY ON LINE
The Army Training and Leader Development Panel (ATLDP) Phase II (NCO Study) is the largest self-assessment study ever done by the Army. It focuses on training and leader development requirements for NCOs More than 30,000 active and reserve component officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, enlisted soldiers and spouses provided input to the study through surveys, participation in focus groups, or personal interviews.
The study found that NCOs understand Army Transformation and the role the Army and the nation expect them to accomplish. They believe the Army must recapitalize and modernize the training and leader development tools to enable them to continue being the backbone of the Army.
Today’s NCOs have a strong service ethic, take pride in the Army and what they do, and are steadfast in accomplishing the mission. Additionally, NCOs believe that the Army, while continuing to develop highly professional noncommissioned officers, must assure the well-being of NCOs and their families if it is to continue to attract and retain high-quality leaders.
Recommendations in the study’s action plan require decisions by Army senior leaders, setting of priorities, and allocation of resources. The Army must reevaluate the way it trains and look for ways to balance requirements and available training time with competing demands, avoiding predictability and reducing personnel turbulence across the force. The recommendations are linked to six of the imperatives established in the ATLDP Phase I (Officer Study). They are in the areas of Army culture, NCOES, training, systems approach to training, training and leader development model, and lifelong learning. (From an ArmyLINK release.)
NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL
A memorandum from the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense dated 16 April 2002 authorized the reinstatement of the National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) for members of the U.S. armed forces serving on active duty on or after 11 September 2001. The termination date will be determined in the future.
The NDSM is awarded for honorable active service and includes the following inclusive periods: 27 Jun 50 -- 27 Jul 54; 1 Jan 61 -- 14 Aug 74; 2 Aug 90 -- 30 Nov 95; and 11 Sep 01 to a date to be determined. The NDSM may also be issued posthumously.
Point of contact is Arlette King at DSN 221-9171 or commercial 703-325-9171.
ADVANCED TACTICAL PARACHUTE SYSTEM (ATPS)
Natick Soldiers Center is conducting a program to develop a parachute system which will satisfy the XVIII Airborne Corps top-priority airdrop need and user requirements to reduce parachutist injuries.
The ATPS will operate in a combat environment of 500 feet (+/-125 feet) above ground level (AGL) minimum planned altitude, deployed from aircraft traveling at speeds of 130--150 knots. The rate of decent at impact will be reduced by 25 percent from 21 feet per second to 16 feet per second. The reduction in impact velocity will result in a 40 percent reduction in impact energy and a significant reduction in landing injuries.
The ATPS will also incorporate an advanced reserve parachute and an advanced harness. The new reserve parachute will provide a significant decrease in the rate-of-descent at impact over the T-10 reserve. The ATPS harness will include main and reserve attachments, which will align the parachute opening forces along the long axis of the jumper’s body, thereby reducing spinal injuries. The harness will incorporate the use of comfort pads, an integral equipment release, and adjustability for use by a 5-percentile female and 95-percentile male jumper.
FEMALE ASSIGNMENT RESTRICTIONS
At the request of TRADOC, female soldiers will no longer be authorized assignment to the Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) squadrons at Fort Lewis, WA. Also, the 13 female soldiers currently assigned to these squadrons will be reassigned within the brigade.
DoD’s policy is to not assign women to positions involving direct ground combat, which is the reason women cannot be drafted and are not required to register with the Selective Service System. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
EARLIER PROMOTIONS TO SPECIALIST
Later this year privates first class will pin on the rank of specialist after being in the Army 24 months instead of 26 months, according to SGM Gerald Purcell, personnel policy integrator with the Army’s G1.
Another policy change initiated to increase morale and promote more to the NCO corps is the elimination of the requirement that a soldier have six months of remaining service in order to be promoted to sergeant, Purcell said. Also, according to Purcell, beginning 1 August 2002 soldiers will no longer receive four promotion points per BNCOC course week. Forty points will be awarded to individuals who successfully complete BNCOC, regardless of course length.
The new point system will give everyone promotion points based on set standards instead of the length of the course, Purcell said. In July all personnel support battalions will begin converting the BNCOC points and adjusting promotion points. Soldiers will not be required to do anything to facilitate the change, Purcell said. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
SERGEANT CONDITIONAL PROMOTIONS
PERSCOM advises that conditional promotion to sergeant is dependent upon successful completion of the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC). Soldiers conditionally promoted to sergeant have 12 months to complete the course or be administratively reduced by PERSCOM.
Any exception to retain conditional promotion to sergeant beyond 12 months must be submitted to Commander, PERSCOM, ATTN: TAPC-MSP-E, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0443 or FAX 703-325-0742, DSN: 221-0742. Exception to policy requests must be submitted prior to end of the 12-month conditional promotion period.
ACTIVE GUARD AND RESERVE (AGR) PROMOTION BOARD
A DA selection board is scheduled to convene at the DA Secretariat, PERSCOM -- St. Louis, MO on 1 October 2002. This board will consider eligible AGR soldiers for promotion to master sergeant and sergeant major, and selection to attend the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course (USASMC). The resident USASMC for soldiers selected by this board will attend USASMC Class 54 (August 2003). The nonresident selectees will attend USASMC Class 30 (April 2003). In addition, the board will review records for possible denial of continued active duty service under the Qualitative Management Program (QMP).
Eligibility criteria for promotion consideration to sergeant major: master sergeant/first sergeant with a date of rank (DOR) of 30 September 2000 and earlier. Primary zone DOR is 30 September 1999 or earlier and the secondary zone is 1 October 1999 through 30 September 2000. Soldiers must have a pay entry base date (PEBD) of 30 September 1988 or earlier and 10 years must be cumulative enlisted service.
Eligibility criteria for promotion consideration to master sergeant: all sergeants first class with a DOR of 30 September 2000 and earlier. Primary zone DOR is 30 September 1999 or earlier and the secondary zone DOR is 1 October 1999 through 30 September 2000. Soldiers must have a PEBD of 30 September 1991 or earlier and eight years must be cumulative enlisted service.
Other restrictions apply. Contact PERSCOM MSG/SGM Promotion Board, ATTN: SSG Sepulveda at 314-592-1201 or e-mail him.
CHANGES TO DRILL SERGEANT SELECTION
PERSCOM recently announced significant changes to AR 614-200, Enlisted Assignments and Utilization Management that affect drill sergeant candidate prerequisites.
Paragraph 8-15B(2), AR 614-200 previously stated that drill sergeant candidates must be 36 years old or less. Effective immediately, the age requirement is changed to 40 years old or less. Volunteers may be 41 years old or older provided they have the appropriate medical clearance at the time of request.
Paragraph 8-15B(12), AR 614-200 previously stated that drill sergeant candidates must have a minimum GT score of 100. Effective immediately, this criterion can be waived by Commander, PERSCOM to not less than 95, on a case-by-case basis. Requests for waiver will be for soldiers who have a successful record of service in leadership positions and have completed college degree requirements or are continuing to further their education at the collegiate level.
The POC is Greg Drake.
ARMY KNOWLEDGE ONLINE (AKO) COLLABORATION CENTER
A Collaboration Center to let AKO customers hold Internet conferences with other users is a favorite feature for enlisted soldiers. The center serves as a chat room for users to discuss specific Army issues. Such conference rooms enable an AKO user and other individuals to talk to each other simultaneously. "This is part of the continuing evolution of AKO," said COL Robert Coxe, G6’s Chief Technical Officer. "We wanted to give soldiers a place to either exchange concepts and ideas or to be able to discuss a particular document online," he said.
CSA RETIREE COUNCIL
The Army Chief of Staff’s Retiree Council met 15--19 April 2002. The Council urged GEN Shinseki to support concurrent receipt of military retired pay and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation, to enhance cooperation between the DoD and VA health care systems to improve benefits without forcing military retirees to choose one of the systems, and to remain vigilant to reducing access to or service at military commissaries. The council also underlined the importance of full-time installation Army Retirement Service Officers (RSOs) and urged that these positions not be outsourced or otherwise undermined. Of the 35 issues submitted, 17 concerned the accessibility, quality and affordability of the military health care system.
Download the report. (PDF)
MORE ON STOP-LOSS
The Army announced 6 June a fourth increment to the Stop-Loss program that allows it to retain soldiers in certain specialties beyond their date of separation or retirement for an open-ended period.
While the new call will keep about 260 soldiers on active duty who had potential separation or retirement dates between now and 30 September 2002, it releases another 370 who had been impacted by previous Stop-Loss decisions. Stop-Loss continues to retain about 12,000 active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers.
List of MOSs affected by this increment. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
ONLINE GULF WAR MEDICAL LIBRARY
DoD, the VA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched an Internet site called Medsearch, a central repository of Gulf War-related medical research. Visit Medsearch online.
Developers designed the website to serve the needs of both the layperson and the researcher. The site is indexed with plain-language topic headings so that anyone can readily locate information. Those headings include topics of particular interest to Gulf War veterans that may not be featured in other sources, such as pesticides and depleted uranium.
The goal of Medsearch’s creators is to include in one centralized place all the federally funded research into the illness of Gulf War veterans. The site will be updated frequently to ensure that it contains the most recent and complete information available. (From a DoD news release.)
DoD’s unconventional war against terrorism has spawned an unconventional website to report news about the war: DefendAmerica.mil, or DefendAmerica.gov, offers the latest news, photographs, transcripts and other information about the U.S.-led effort against terrorism. As DefendAmerica’s editor, David Jackson, put it: "If it has anything to do with the war, we’re interested."
Content on the site changes daily, Jackson said, and includes coverage of every Pentagon briefing by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top military officials. A daily feature titled "We Remember Their Sacrifice" pays tribute to each victim who died in last year’s 11 September 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
Probably the most popular feature, according to Jackson, has been DefendAmerica’s photo gallery archive, which offers photo essays by Joint Combat Camera and other military photographers that chronicle the progress of the war, from the 11 September terrorists attacks to the current campaign to help Afghanistan rebuild after years of civil war and unrest. (From an American Forces Press story.)
PENTAGON MEMORIAL MEDITATION AREA
In addition to the Pentagon Memorial to those who lost their lives on 11 September 2001, a Pentagon memorial meditation area is scheduled to be finished by 11 September 2002. The area will consist of a meditation chapel and memorial room.
"It will be a beautiful meditation area for all the folks of the Pentagon and visitors," said Chaplain (COL) Donald Hanchett, Office of the Army Chief of Chaplains. The chapel will consist of adjacent meditation and memorial areas. Other features of the chapel will include a stained glass window that has already been prepared as well as several others that are scheduled to be added in the future, Hanchett said. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
LEGAL INFORMATION ONLINE
The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps has launched a legal services website, designed as a portal of legal information for military members and their families. The site comprises a "virtual" legal information and resource knowledge center, officials say. It includes information on personal legal assistance, claims, trial defense, and victim/ witness information for the Army. It provides preventive law information and helps users find the nearest Legal Assistance Office of any military branch. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
NEW VETS’ EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM PROPOSED
The White House has asked Congress to authorize a new, comprehensive employment program for veterans that would consolidate the federal government’s job-search efforts for former servicemembers within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Highlights of the proposal include:
- establishing a system for state governors or public or private organizations to receive grants to provide employment programs for veterans;
- transferring to VA the current functions of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans Employment and Training; and
- transferring to VA from the Labor Department responsibility for both the transition assistance program and the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project.
"Employment is the only major program in the continuum of service for which VA does not have responsibility," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi. "Just as education, home loans, insurance and health care for veterans are entrusted to VA, so should employment."
If approved by Congress, the new program, called the "Veterans Employment, Business Opportunity and Training (VEBOT) Program," would take effect in 2003.
SOLDIERS CAN GAIN JOB CERTIFICATION
The Army has added a new component to its "GI to Jobs Program" that will help soldiers understand and obtain certification for civilian jobs when they leave the service.
Soldiers now have a website, called Army Credentialing Opportunities On-line (Army COOL), where they can learn what civilian certifications relate to their MOS and how to obtain them.
"This new website explains differences between military and civilian training and certification requirements, and it does so in easy-to-understand language," SMA Jack Tilley said. "The program and the website tell soldiers exactly what they need to do to begin and complete the certification process in their MOS."
Under this initiative, soldiers will know what is necessary to complete certification or licensure requirements for jobs related to approximately 100 MOSs. All MOS-applicable credentialing examinations are clearly identified and articulated by MOS to ensure success.(From an ArmyLINK news release.)
CALLING HOME: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a new brochure that explains how to save money when keeping in touch with families and friends via telephone from both CONUS and OCONUS. The brochure is packed with information about making long-distance contact cheaper for defense personnel, according to K. Dane Snowden, chief of the FCC.
"The brochure contains different calling options," Snowden noted. "It tells consumers what to ask a carrier before they sign up for a particular calling plan, explains what a ‘10-10’ dollar round plan is and tells them where they can go should they have any problems with a carrier."
All consumers will find the tips helpful, but the FCC designed the program specifically for military personnel. Snowden said all the information is in a central location, either in the brochure or through the FCC website. The toll-free number is 1-888-225-5322; the TTY number is 1-888-835-5322. (From an American Forces Press Service story.)
FEDERAL CHILDREN’S SCHOLARSHIP FUND
The Federal Children’s Scholarship Fund (FCSF) is a nonprofit organization that offers need-based college scholarships to children of federal employees and retirees, military personnel and veterans. Visit the home page to download a free copy of the newly updated 2002 FCSF Handbook. The publication provides college-bound students, and those already in college, everything they need to know about the ins and outs of paying for their college education. From choosing a college to detailed explanations for qualifying for scholarships and grants, this comprehensive guide provides the tools needed to succeed.
ONLINE VA BENEFITS GUIDE
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made its comprehensive benefits guide available for free on the Internet. Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents is a 100-page handbook describing benefits provided by the VA and an overview of programs and services for veterans provided by other federal agencies. The handbook includes a listing of toll-free, World Wide Web information resources and VA facilities. Download a free copy of the handbook (PDF) or order it through the Government Printing Office for $5 for U.S.-based customers and $6.25 for those overseas by calling 866-512-1800.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MILITARY CHILDREN
Five hundred twenty military children have earned $1,500 scholarships this year through the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) scholarship program.
The Scholarships for Military Children program made its debut in 2001, awarding 400 scholarships to graduating high school or college-enrolled students in four-year degree programs. The scholarships are open to qualified sons and daughters of U.S. military members to include active duty, retirees, and Guard and Reserve. Minimum requirements are a 3.0 grade point average, leadership activities and a written essay. The subject of this year’s essay was how the applicant’s community activities have enriched his or her community.
As in the 2001 program, the recipient quality for 2002 was extremely high. "The grade point averages of the winners are in the 3.8 range," says Bernard Cote of Scholarship Managers. "But what’s particularly impressive to me is the level of extracurricular and community volunteerism military children display. It reflects a level of maturity not seen in applicants from other scholarship programs."
List of 2002 scholarship recipients.
Information and application procedures (PDF)
NEW PET SHIPPING POLICY
After a three-month test, Air Mobility Command officials started a new policy that increases the maximum allowable weight for shipping dogs and cats from 99 to 150 pounds. The new limit is the combined weight of both the pet and its kennel on Patriot Express contract carrier flights to and from overseas. The policy also allows no more than two pets per family.
Cindy Rothenbach, a traffic management specialist with the passenger policy branch at AMC, said that passengers are also required to use a hard-shell kennel that allows their pet enough room to stand up and move around comfortably. Soft-sided or collapsible containers will not be accepted. (From an AMC News Service release.)
FUNERAL HONORS FOR ACTIVE DUTY DESIGNEES
The Army recently announced that individuals from 37 groups known as Active Duty Designees, who served the country during World War I and World War II in a capacity considered civilian or contractual service at the time, may now receive military honors when they are inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. The groups include Woman’s Air Force Pilots (WASPs), Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs), Flying Tigers, battlefield ambulance drivers, female civilians who served with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps at Bataan and Corregidor, ocean-going members of the Merchant Marine and defenders of Bataan and Wake Island.
The military honors the Active Duty Designees will be given at Arlington include a military chaplain and a detail of up to 16 servicemembers to serve as body bearers, conduct a rifle salute, fold and present the United States flag to the family of the deceased, and play "Taps."
For general information on Arlington National Cemetery, call 202-685-4645. For questions about eligibility for inurnment and military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, call 703-607-8052. Information about the cemetery. (From a U.S. Army news release.)
SPONSORSHIP GATEWAY TO EUROPE
Soldiers with orders to U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR) can go online to "meet" their sponsors, get information about concurrent travel for their family members, and learn their assignment locations.
The Sponsorship Gateway to Europe, or S-GATE, is a Web-based sponsorship program hosted by the 1st Personnel Command. It allows soldiers moving to USAREUR to access sponsor information via the Internet. After entering their Social Security Number, birth date and Primary Military Occupational Specialty (PMOS), soldiers will see a welcome letter that contains information about their sponsor. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)
Starting in July, kids as well as adults will have the opportunity to play a realistic interactive computer game that will take them on a virtual tour inside the Army.
"America’s Army," to be distributed free of charge on the Web at americasarmy.com, will allow players to experience everything from the enlistment process at a recruiting station, to jumping out of a C-130 aircraft during an airborne operation and retrieving stolen Stinger missiles from enemy forces, said LTC George Juntiff, Army Game Project’s operations officer. The Army’s intent is not only to enhance kids’--and adults’--video-game-playing experiences and spark interest in the Army as a potential career, but also to reintroduce the Army to the population at large, said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
For more in-depth coverage, look, for Heike Hasenauer’s story in the August issue of Soldiers magazine. (From an ArmyLINK news story.)