Fourth Quarter 2003
IN DIRE NEED OF BLOOD
Fact: The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP), comprising the Army, Navy and Air Force blood programs, supplies 1.3 million servicemembers and their families with blood every year. Since the Korean War, 1.5 million units of blood have been used to treat servicemembers on the battlefield.
Now the ASBP is looking for donors, and lots of them. Of particular importance in the military’s fresh and frozen blood supplies is Type O blood. Type O is very valuable because everyone can use it, which also means it is needed the most to support ongoing military operations worldwide and to help replenish the military’s frozen blood reserves. It is the first line of defense for trauma victims. Until a blood type is determined, Type O blood keeps trauma victims alive.
Having blood when and where it is needed is key to medical readiness. Considering a single battlefield injury victim can require two, 10 or more than 40 units of blood in a single emergency, the amount required to support troops worldwide becomes clear. In addition to providing sufficient quantities of blood, the ASBP must make blood available in remote locations. This is daunting, considering fresh red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection and it takes 7–10 days after collection before fresh blood can be tested, shipped and made available for use overseas and in remote locations.
To address this challenge, the military keeps a supply of frozen red blood cells to use when fresh blood is unavailable. Since frozen blood can be safely stored for 10 years, it bridges the gap and ensures that blood is readily available for meeting the military’s needs around the globe.
Strategic use of frozen blood also reduces the amount of fresh blood that expires in areas where blood is needed infrequently. Blood must be available wherever servicemembers are deployed . . . just in case. Not having blood available when it is needed carries a much greater cost than keeping frozen blood in reserve. By using a combination of fresh and frozen blood, the ASBP maintains the flexibility required to support service-members deployed around the world.
To continue its support of servicemembers, the ASBP needs support from servicemembers themselves. Many who served in malarial endemic areas during Operation Iraqi Freedom are unable to donate for one year, so regular donations from those still eligible are critical. Giving blood offers a unique opportunity to save the life of a fellow servicemember injured in the line of duty or that of a family member in the community.
Units may consider establishing a reward system for donating blood to encourage hesitant or skittish Soldiers. Supervisors may include donating blood on Soldiers’ nominations for the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. Units may offer other incentives and command-sponsored programs, such as releasing soldiers early from duty after donating blood at a unit-sponsored drive. First sergeants may also offer passes or other favorable actions to Soldiers who reach the goal of donating a specified number of pints. In sum, use of a Soldier’s competitive nature may prove to be beneficial to the cause.
If you’d like to donate blood or sponsor a group blood drive, contact your local blood donor center to make arrangements. The centers can be located by accessing www.tricare.osd.mil/asbpo/donor_info/donor_centers.htm on the Internet. (From NCO Journal and www.tricare.osd.mil/asbpo.)
BODY ARMOR: HOT COMMODITY IN A HOT ZONE
Stories have been coming back to the states about Soldiers taking enemy fire to the chest, falling down and then dusting themselves off to continue their mission. Those same Soldiers will later take another round, again get back up and continue with their mission . . . unhurt.
Chad Jackson, a Soldier with the 3d Infantry Division in Iraq, had this very thing happen to him. He said that it felt like being punched in the chest, but because he was wearing his body armor, he sustained no serious injuries.
The armor that is saving so many lives in the Army today is called the Interceptor Tactical Vest (manufactured by Point Blank Body Armor Inc.), and it is in short supply in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the moment, Point Blank and many other body armor supply companies are making as much body armor as quickly as their production lines can assemble the armor and immediately shipping it overseas.
Today’s body armor has amazing stopping power compared to armor only a mere decade ago. The outside of the vest is a Kevlar weave for initial protection. The inside of the Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest has removable ceramic inserts that are “harder” than Kevlar, allowing the overall unit to exceed the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level IIIA 9mm protection standard (which is capable of stopping calibers of 9mm, 124 grain full metal jacket rounds or .44 Magnum, 158 grain jacketed hollow points).
The vest is stab/slash resistant for close combat protection and for Military Police working with potentially dangerous prisoners. The shoulder straps of the tactical vest are compatible with most portable hydration systems. It is unisex body armor featuring removable throat and groin protectors as well as front and back removable plates, making the overall item customizable to specific threat situations. With the proper plate protection, these vests have the potential to stop armor-piercing rounds.
Senior Army leadership has made a decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom: all Soldiers, civilians and contractors will have body armor made available to them as soon as possible. Some may not receive the Interceptor, but all will have armor available to them based on their threat situation. This may take some time, since manufacturers are somewhat stressed at the moment, trying to fill the current workload.
BG James R. Moran, Soldier Program Executive Officer, stated, “Getting body armor to combat zones by December is part of the Army’s ‘rapid field initiative,’ which treats soldiers as part of the system, is saving soldiers’ lives, improving the quality of their lives and improving their combat effectiveness. And we’re doing it immediately.” (From www.foxnews.com and Point Blank’s Public Relations Office.)
SENATE POISED TO OK PAY RAISE
Senate Democrats plan to join Republicans in approving a $401.3 billion defense bill despite provisions they said would erode the rights of civilian defense employees and weaken environmental laws. They noted the measure authorizing 2004 defense programs would also raise salaries of Soldiers by an average of 4.15 percent and extend increases in combat and family separation pay.
The defense authorization bill (H.R. 1588) would also partially reverse a policy set back in the 1890s of reducing veterans’ retirement benefits by $1 for every dollar received in disability pay. The change would be phased in over 10 years and mainly help the more seriously disabled. It would cost $22 billion.
The measure would also authorize some of the Pentagon’s most costly programs, including $9.1 billion for ballistic missile defense, $6.6 billion for the construction of seven new ships, $4.4 billion for the development of Joint Strike Fighter and $3.5 billion for 22 F/A-22 Raptor jet fighters.
The bill does not provide the money for military programs. Most of the funding will come from a $368 billion defense appropriations bill signed by President Bush on 30 September 2003. (From www.military.com.)
USASMA COMMANDANT LEAVES LEGACY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF NCOS
The commandant who led the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy through one of the busiest times in its 32-year history has relinquished command.
COL Michael D. Enneking leaves USASMA to assume the duties of the Oklahoma National Guard Inspector General in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Enneking, a Missouri native, enlisted in 1972. He assumed command at the Academy in June 2002. The 31-year veteran had asked specifically to be assigned to the Academy.
“I asked for it. I wanted to give something back. I thought I could help transform the Academy and make the education system better,” Enneking explained. “I started as an [enlisted] soldier, so I owe a lot of what I learned to that beginning. I was a sergeant a long time ago. I’m an officer now, but my foundation is in the NCO Corps.”
Enneking is noted for his innovative thinking. He supported transforming the NCO Education System and automating many of the Academy courses and systems. During his tenure at USASMA, the Academy conducted the largest resident Sergeants Major Course, graduating more than 600 students. The Academy also hosted a record-size resident phase for the Non-resident Sergeants Major Course, hosting more than 560 students.
Enneking said his initiatives were a way of giving back to the NCO Corps that did so much for him. “I appreciate what NCOs do,” he said. “For NCOs, training is a way of life.
“I see the need to educate NCOs, not just to train them. Some people separate training and education,” Enneking said. “I believe you can do both at the same time.”
Enneking invested greatly in improving the quality of instruction within NCOES. He continuously placed a great deal of emphasis on the NCOs’ and particularly the students’ input into training and education.
“I wanted an institution where everybody has input, including the students,” Enneking explained. “It’s a proven fact that you learn better if it’s something you want to learn.”
However, Enneking said he will remember the little things, too, such as the gratitude of students for small changes. “I remember how ecstatic they were when they saw changes, even something simple like installing computers in the library or not having to go to Kinko’s to make copies,” he said.
Enneking leaves behind a legacy that will be implemented years in the future. He spearheaded the Academy’s strategic plan—the vision of what the Academy will look like for the next generation of senior NCOs who will attend courses here as well as other NCOES courses in 2009 and 2010.
“He is an engaged leader who wants the best for NCOs,” said USASMA’s Command Sergeant Major Clifford R. West.
Enneking will be remembered at the Academy as a commandant who sought input and feedback from everyone, including the staff, faculty and students. (From usasma.bliss.army.mil.)
NEW LEADERSHIP FOR THE SERGEANTS MAJOR ACADEMY
LTC John K. Kirby, once the Assistant Commandant, is now the Commandant of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, replacing COL Michael Enneking.
He has been tasked with planning the next resident phase of the Non-resident Sergeants Major Course, the shortened six-month resident Sergeants Major Course and others.
Kirby, a California native, is an Air Defense Artillery officer. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1984. He holds a master’s degree in Education from Fairleigh Dickson University.
In addition to attending schools at Fort Bliss, Kirby has been assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and twice assigned to the Air Defense Artillery School. NCO Update and everyone at AUSA wish LTC Kirby the best of luck in his new assignment.
Some selectees for the Army Sergeants Major Course are going to be schooled by the Navy and Air Force. The selected Soldiers will attend the other services’ senior NCO academies—60 will go to the Air Force and 12 to the Navy—in lieu of going to the six-month Army course that begins in January at Fort Bliss, TX.
The goal of sending the Soldiers to the other services’ shorter courses—6.5 weeks for the Air Force program, 8 weeks for the Navy’s—is improved interservice understanding.
Upon graduation, the Soldiers will receive the same military education credit, “S1,” as graduates of the Army Sergeants Major Course. (From Army Times.)
CID SEARCHES FOR QUALIFIED CANDIDATES
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) has an all-points bulletin out for qualified Soldiers interested in becoming highly trained criminal investigators.
During peacetime and war, CID special agents investigate all felony crimes the Army has an interest in, provide protective services for Department of Defense and Army leadership, and work closely with other federal and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies to solve crime and combat terrorism.
Agents receive training at the U.S. Army Military Police School and advanced training in a wide range of specialized investigative disciplines. Some specialties include polygraphs, counternarcotics, economic-crime investigation, computer crime and many other specialties in the criminal investigative field. With more than 120 offices, CID provides the Army with worldwide support.
Investigators also have the opportunity to receive advanced law enforcement training at the FBI National Academy, the Canadian Police College and Washington University, where they can earn a master’s degree in Forensic Science.
Although many CID agents have some type of military or civilian police background, it’s not a requirement to qualify and be accepted into the program. CID has both Military Police and other military occupational specialties (MOSs), and it benefits from the varied experience.
CID offers a local six-month internship program for Soldiers without law enforcement experience. Major installations like Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Hood and Fort Lewis offer CID intern opportunities for other Soldiers.
“Our profession is an excellent opportunity for enlisted Soldiers who aspire to become warrant officers,” said Marianne Black, chief of CID’s accreditation branch. “In fact, given our current force structure and staffing, the CID agent warrant officer career field provides among the Army’s best opportunities for diverse assignments and rapid advancement.”
To apply and qualify for service as a CID Special Agent, applicants must be U.S. citizens; at least 21 years old; sergeant or below with at least two and not more than 10 years of service; and able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret clearance. They must have a general technical score of at least 110; no court–martial convictions; 60 semester hours of college credit; a physical profile of 111221 or higher with normal color vision. Applicants must possess excellent communication skills and be able to interact effectively with people from varied backgrounds. A service obligation of 36 months is incurred upon completion of the Basic Special Agent Course.
Soldiers interested in becoming CID Special Agents are encouraged to contact their closest CID office or visit CID’s website at www.cid.army.mil. (From NCO Journal and a CID News Release.)
RESORT WON'T REOPEN UNTIL MARCH
The Shades of Green Armed Forces Recreation Center at Walt Disney World Resort won’t reopen until 1 March 2004 because of delays in construction, officials say.
Renovations and expansion had been scheduled to be finished 15 December.
James McCrindle, general manager of Shades of Green, said he has signed about 2,500 letters to guests who had booked rooms between 15 December and the end of February 2004.
“Most of the people who have responded understand,” he said. “Most have just moved their reservations to a period when the hotel will be open.” Those who had reservations before the 1 March reopening have three options, he said. They can move their vacation dates back a year, guaranteed at 2003 rates; move to a comparable Disney resort at the same rates offered by Shades of Green, plus the required local room tax of 11 percent; or cancel their reservations and get a full refund of any deposits.
When it reopens, Shades of Green will have 299 more rooms, bringing the total to 586. The existing 287 rooms are being renovated. A ballroom that seats 500 is being added, as is a Tuscany-style medium-priced family restaurant.
Room rates are computed on a sliding scale, depending on rank, and will increase by $4 to $7 a night when the hotel reopens. Those in ranks E-1 through E-5 will pay $70 a night for a standard room, an increase of $4. The biggest increase will be for generals and admirals, who will pay $106, an increase of $7 a night.
Shades of Green is open to all Defense Department ID cardholders in all branches of the military, including active duty, Guard, Reserve, Defense Department civilians, military and civilian retirees and their families.
Contact Shades of Green toll-free at 1-888-593-2242; or www.shadesofgreen.org. (From an Army Times article by Karen Jones.)
TILLEY ANNOUNCES PLANS TO RETIRE
The Army’s top enlisted Soldier announced his retirement plans 6 August 2003 at the Army Retirement Services conference in Crystal City, VA. After almost 35 years of service, SMA Jack L. Tilley announced that he will be retiring in January 2004.
Tilley was speaking to retirement services officers and transition personnel at their biennial conference. In his opening statement, he thanked the audience for everything they do.
“You make a difference in the attitudes of Soldiers as they leave the military,” Tilley said. He went on to captivate and motivate the audience with stories of wounded Soldiers and personal experience of his retirement preparation. The room filled with laughter as he told jokes about his years in service and being a grandfather.
Tilley focused on the importance of family and friends, and of the little things done everyday. He also stressed having faith, staying motivated and motivating others. “We are all leaders,” Tilley said. “We need to start talking to Soldiers about how to plan for retirement earlier, so that they are prepared when that time comes.”
After Tilley spoke, Radke presented him with a certificate of appreciation. “I have seen him speak on several occasions, and each and every time it is deeply motivating. He is a Soldier’s Soldier,” Radke said. (From AUSA News.)
MORE CLASS DELAYS DUE TO MORE DEPLOYMENTS
Current deployment operations may require many Soldiers to have their scheduled Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) training delayed. To avoid the loss of valuable training seats, these vacancies will be filled by Soldiers who are available to attend. In some cases this may require short notice to the field of a change in the training schedule.
Commanders and first sergeants should encourage their training sections to closely monitor Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) to ensure they have the latest information. PERSCOM’s Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC) and Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) managers will work closely with the field to ensure only Soldiers who are available and qualified to act as fillers will be selected and scheduled for NCOES. POC for this information is SFC Robles at DSN 221-0226 for BNCOC and Ms. Clark at DSN 221-5348 for ANCOC. (From www.perscom.army.mil/epncoes/newsletter.htm.)
TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT VETERANS
On 5 November 2003, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced the launch of “VA Kids,” a new web page designed to help young people understand what it means to be a veteran.
“The ideals of military service and patriotism can be unfamiliar to some children and young adults,” said Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Anthony J. Principi. “The VA Kids Web page supports President Bush’s initiatives on education and volunteerism by providing an entertaining and informative way for young people to learn why veterans are special.”
The site, www.va.gov/kids, contains areas for students in kindergarten through grade 12, and for teachers. VA Kids also has information about Veterans’ Affairs, Veterans’ Day, scholarships, student volunteer opportunities, special events for disabled veterans and links to veteran-related sites.
For younger students, the site has interactive activities such as puzzles, coloring pages, matching contests and age-appropriate language to describe a number of patriotic topics.
For older students, the page has information on volunteer programs, scholarships and more sophisticated educational resources, games and reference links. The teachers’ section contains more information, links and suggested classroom activities.
“The title ‘veteran’ is bestowed by a grateful nation on citizens willing to sacrifice everything to preserve our freedom,” Principi said. “It is our responsibility to honor these heroes by ensuring that each American generation understands what this prestigious title means.” (From American Forces Press Service.)
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MILITARY CHILDREN
Starting 4 November 2003, military children may apply for a $1,500 academic scholarship operated by the Defense Commissary Agency; 18 February 2004 marks the closing of the application period.
Now in its fourth year, the program has awarded nearly $2.5 million in scholarships to 1,500 children of U.S. servicemmembers and retirees. Funding for this and past scholarships comes from manufacturers and suppliers whose products are sold at military commissaries.
The overall goal of the program is to award at least one scholarship at every commissary location.
For more information on this particular scholarship or to find more scholarships tailored directly to the Soldier, visit www.militaryscholar.org.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE TO THE TROOPS
President Bush sent the following message via the American Forces Radio and Television Service on 5 November 2003:
“It is my great privilege to speak to the men and women of the United States military in Iraq, and to thank you for your remarkable service to our country. You’re serving far from home, but you are not alone. The American people are behind you. This nation knows the sacrifices you have made. Your families are proud of you, and I’m proud of you too.
“You’re now deployed at the central front on the war on terror. And every day you’re helping win the war on terror. You’ve toppled a cruel dictator; you’ve helped to liberate almost 25 million people; you’ve captured or killed thousands of terrorists and stopped dozens of planned attacks against the United States and our friends and allies.
“The world is safer and freedom is more secure because of our military. And our military is stronger because each of you volunteered to serve.
“Our mission in Iraq goes on, and the war on terror is far from finished. The road ahead is difficult and dangerous, but I have complete confidence in you. And I know that America and our friends will prevail.
“Your efforts are helping to build a secure and stable Iraq, to spread freedom in the Middle East, and to make the world more peaceful for future generations.
“You have the respect of your commander in chief and the gratitude of the American people.
“Thank you, and may God bless you all.”
NEW TAX RELIEF ACTS HELPING SERVICE-MEMEBERS AND FAMILIES
Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 signed by President Bush on Veterans’ Day, increases the death gratuity payment to $12,000. The gratuity payment is now 100 percent tax free.
This act is retroactive to 10 September 2001 to provide for servicemembers who died in the terrorist attacks the following day and in the ongoing Global War on Terror.
The former death gratuity has been $6,000 since 1991, with half of it being taxed. Now, if a service-member dies on active duty, whether in theater, in training or by disease, the family receives a non-taxed $12,000 death gratuity.
This act will also allow servicemembers to suspend the period of time they have to sell their home and take the tax exclusion so they won’t have to pay the capital gains on the home’s profits. This portion of the act is retroactive to 1997. Servicemembers have until 11 November 2004 to request a refund for any tax that has been paid.
For more detailed information on this tax relief act, visit www.natptax.com. (From an American Forces Press Service release by K.L. Vantran.)
DEPLOYED SOLDIERS GET SOME RELEIF WITH STUDENT LOANS
Soldiers who have been deployed or mobilized are not required to make student loan payments during their absences.
Federal regulations require lenders to postpone the student loan program payments of active duty military personnel. This applies to members of the National Guard and Reserve who have been called to active duty, as well as to active duty personnel whose duty station has been changed as a result of a military mobilization.
“Many of the brave men and women serving our nation right now have put their personal lives on hold to answer the nation’s call to duty,” said Education Secretary Rod Paige in a news release earlier this year. “As they defend the freedoms we cherish, our soldiers should not have to worry about their student loan obligations and resuming their studies.”
He encouraged the higher education and lending communities to be flexible and provide assistance to servicemembers, so they can “easily resume their studies and financial obligations after they complete their tours of duty.”
Colleges will not be required to collect financial aid funds that now-active duty students were given to pay for books and living expenses. Additionally, Education Department officials encourage colleges and universities to either fully refund tuition and other institutional charges or give comparable credit against future charges to students forced to withdraw from school to fulfill their military obligations.
Most financial institutions are suspending the current balance on the student loan; however, interest is still accruing. The process of balance suspension is not automatic. A copy of the deployment orders is sometimes requested. Additional information is available by calling 1-800-433-3243 or visiting the Department of Education website: www.ifap.ed.gov. (From an American Forces Press Service release by K.L. Vantran.)
NCO UPDATE is published quarterly by the AUSA Institute of Land Warfare to help Army noncommissioned officers keep up to date on matters affecting the military profession and to better inform their soldiers. Reproduction is encouraged.