Senate passes Farm Bill
Farm Bill Debate turns to House
Lyons, Nebraska - On Monday, June 10, the U.S. Senate passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill by a vote of 66 to 27. The House of Representatives is now likely to take up the Farm Bill as early as next week.
“While there are a number of good provisions in the Senate Farm Bill worthy of note, the question of setting rural priorities that efficiently invest public dollars in farm and rural programs that have a positive impact on rural America is still in question,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director of the Center for Rural Affairs. “Continuing to provide unlimited crop insurance premium subsidies to megafarms while failing to increase our investments in things like conservation and rural development is not good public policy. We can do better than this.”
We applaud the Senate for passing a Farm Bill that for the first time in a generation closes the gaping loopholes that have made a mockery of farm program payment limitations, said Bruckner. And we thank Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) for their tireless advocacy for reducing the subsidies that mega-farms use to drive family farmers out of business.
According to Bruckner, the Farm Bill that passed the Senate Farm Bill does put back some funding for beginning farmer and rancher training, rural small business loans and assistance, grants and loans for small town water and sewer systems, renewable energy and value-added enterprise grants for family farmers and ranchers. These investments are vitally important steps forward for rural America.
Bruckner went on to praise the efforts of Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for leading a bipartisan group of Senators that secured a sodsaver provision in the Senate Farm Bill that prohibits federal commodity payments on newly broken native sod, and reduces the federal subsidy for crop and revenue insurance by fifty percent on native grass and prairie lands. It also requires that newly broken sod be isolated from other crop acres when calculating insurable yields.
“The sodsaver provision is common-sense legislation that will preserve grazing lands, protect hunting opportunities and conserve vital soil resources,” said Bruckner.
Bruckner indicated that the Farm Bill could come to the floor for debate by the full House of Representatives soon, perhaps as early as next week.
“While timing is never certain, we are encouraged by several forward steps taken in the Senate Farm Bill. The bill isn’t perfect and we have a long row to hoe in the House, but we will continue to work to make greater strides as the Farm Bill moves toward conference committee,” continued Bruckner. “We also look forward to Representative Fortenberry (R-NE) offering an amendment similar to the farm program payment limitations provision offered by Senator Grassley for the Senate Farm Bill. And we hope there are opportunities to cap crop insurance premium subsidies as well as retain the Sodsaver and conservation compliance crop insurance reforms contained in the Senate Farm Bill.”
Regarding his introduction of farm payment limitation legislation, Rep. Fortenberry previously commented, “For the good of all Americans, it is critical that sound public policies create the conditions for continued agricultural prosperity and innovation. While respecting the federal government’s severe budgetary constraints, we need a new farm bill that provides our nation’s farmers adequate protection options, tightens payment limitations, promotes good conservation practices, embraces new domestic and international market opportunities, and helps young and beginning farmers set up agricultural businesses.”
Source: Press Release: Center for Rural Affairs
By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, PEO C3T MilTech Solutions
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June, 2013) — Linking people around the globe, milBook, an internal military social media tool similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, recently became the choice site for 41 Army Professional Forums.
“On any particular day, there are about 40,000 people in the Army that log on to all of the forums collectively to find out information,” said Ron Pruyt, knowledge management officer for the Center for Army Lessons Learned, or CALL. “So thousands of people who were on the old Army Professional Forums, or APF, platform and the thousands of users already on the milBook platform can talk together now, [and exchange information] in a way that was not possible before,” he said.
MilBook is a component of milSuite, a DOD-wide, secure suite of four collaboration tools that mirror existing social media platforms, but are located behind the DOD firewall. MilBook, which currently comprises more than 300,000 users, is a central hub for networking professionals with similar interests or work responsibilities. Users create working groups or communities of practice to collaborate and share information.
In addition to milBook, milSuite also includes milWiki, a living military encyclopedia designed for DOD subject matter experts to share their knowledge; milWire, a micro blogging site to share and comment on internal news and events; and milTube, a video-sharing platform for the military workforce. MilSuite is provided by the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical Military Technical Solutions Office, and it is accessible to most DOD military, civilian and contractor personnel through Common Access Card authentication at https://www.milsuite.mil.
The APF migration to milBook provides its members a much broader community with which to collaborate at no additional cost. Additionally, CALL will no longer need to purchase, manage and maintain costly servers or hardware to host the forums. The transition also eliminates costs for software licensing fees and the need for additional personnel to support the software and hardware. It is expected that the migration could save CALL an estimated $400,000 each year, one of the biggest factors driving the move to milBook, Pruyt said.
CALL uses the APF to help disseminate knowledge and lessons-learned for the Army. These forums are structured communities of practice that enable Soldiers and civilians across the services to share observations, insights and lessons-learned. CALL was instrumental in the APF migration to milBook and worked with the APF to ensure that all the information and discussions were properly migrated.
The APF itself, which was launched in 2004, was a way for members to share their knowledge and experience with peers throughout the Army to promote professional development. The original four forums had approximately 20,000 members, but current membership has since multiplied to nearly 15 times that, to more than 295,000 users.
While many of the APF concentrate on Army knowledge management concepts and doctrine, there are several staff function-related forums, as well as operationally-specific forums. One of the largest forums included in the milBook migration, referred to as S-1 Net, is an Army staff element that is responsible for all personnel-related actions within the Army. With 104,000 members, S-1 Net provides numerous resources including: the latest personnel guidance from the Army; unit-level best practices and lessons-learned; a forum for human resources questions and answers; and promotion letters and lists. The members of this forum will now be able to leverage the capabilities of milBook to collaborate and share this information.
The APF migration to milBook also provides a centralized location in which to retain information and a single tool for users to access. Because milBook is built around familiar Web 2.0 concepts, users can also control how they create, share and consume content.
Since milBook is accessible across the DOD, migrating the APF increases the Army’s visibility and gives other services an opportunity to learn and benefit from Army practices and lessons-learned.
“In our current operational environment, where joint operations are the norm, it is increasingly important for the Army to engage the other services, especially in questions of a joint nature,” said Tom Curran, milSuite project director. “MilBook was designed as a DOD-wide collaboration tool to enable users from all services to communicate across geographic boundaries.”
By reading a discussion thread on milBook recently, the Air Force Software Organizational Development Office discovered information about a government off-the-shelf product, the Rapid Online Content Creation Environment, or ROCCE. By using the ROCCE to deploy a web-based training and development application, the Air Force not only avoided paying licensing fees, which saved an average of $10,000, but also the usual review process required by the government for a new product, which would have taken a year.
As part of the larger milBook community, APF members now have access to other users and unlimited content from across the far corners of the DOD that otherwise would not have been available to them.
“We have people accessing the forums from Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, all over the world,” Pruyt said. “Chances are, when a user has a question or a problem, someone else has experienced the same situation and the APF gives them the ability to share their best practices.”
WASHINGTON (June , 2013) — The Army published a new handbook this month to provide leaders of all levels with the information and tools needed to address today’s cybersecurity challenges, and to ensure organizations adopt the necessary practices to protect their information and the Army network.
“We must change our culture, enforce compliance, and ensure that people are accountable for proper security procedures,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said in a Feb. 1 memo mandating Information Assurance/Cybersecurity awareness training.
Currently, all Army commands are developing Information Assurance/Cybersecurity awareness training to address areas of weakness identified by the Army Information Assurance Self-Assessment Tool. During the Army Cybersecurity Awareness Week, Oct. 15-18, commanders will train personnel based on command plans and highlight the importance of individual responsibilities.
“Beyond required security training, we need you to make certain that all of your Soldiers, civilians, and contractors understand the threat they pose to operational security by not complying with IA/Cybersecurity policies and practices,” McHugh said, addressing all Army leaders.
McHugh also directed all commands to incorporate Information Assurance into their command inspection programs.
More information and guidance are on the Army Information Assurance One-Stop Shop portal which is CAC accessible.
By Spc. Margaret Taylor, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), secure a landing zone for Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province…
Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), board a CH-47 Chinook during a night air assault operation from Forward Operating Base Connolly, Nangarhar Province…
An Afghan National Army soldier from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, poses for a photo while he waits for an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter to transport him back to Forward Operating Base Connolly after successfully completing a clearing…
Afghan National Army soldiers with 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, await Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters for transport to Forward Operating Base Connolly after successfully completing an Afghan led clearing operation near the village of…
Afghan village elders gather at the local police station during a key leader engagement at Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013. The elders discuss what effect the presence of military forces in Hesarak has had. Soldiers from Alpha…
Afghan village elders gather at the local police station during a key leader engagement at Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013. The elders discuss what effect the presence of military forces in Hesarak has had.
Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, look out for enemy activity from a watch tower outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. The improved fighting position helped the ANA provide…
Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), look out for enemy activity near the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. U.S. Army…
Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters prepare to drop off supplies for Afghan forces outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. The Afghan Air Force continues to increase their support role throughout the province.
Spc. Andrew Landish and Spc. Tyrel Fisher, members of 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), prepare to launch a mortar strike from the village of Hesarak…
Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, climb into an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter for transport to Forward Operating Base Connolly after a successfully leading and executing a clearing operation near the village…
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan National Army soldiers, Afghan Uniformed Police, and a smattering of U.S. Army Soldiers serving as mission advisors, sat by their heavy packs on the gravel, talking and laughing in quiet anticipation, waiting for a sound.
After several hours of checks and double-checks, roll calls and final updates from the command center, the punchy staccato of rotors came faintly in the distance. Louder and louder the noise sounded, until the roar deafened and the dusty prop-wash buffeted those waiting at the landing zone for the choppers.
Into the helicopters the Soldiers went, and then, shortly before one in the morning, the air assault to Hesarak began.
Flying from Forward Operating Base Connolly, the mission, which occurred May 15-18, was an Afghan-led operation joining Afghan National Security Forces with U.S. Army advisers to drive back insurgents harassing the inhabitants of Hesarak, an isolated, agricultural district in western Nangarhar.
“They’ve been having problems out there with the district center being constantly under fire, or being harassed,” said Capt. Justin Burney, battalion fire support officer, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), of White Bluff, Tenn. “The objective was to have the ANA (Afghan National Army) go through the area surrounding the district center and clear it of all enemy personnel.”
Burney managed the indirect fire systems to support the operation from Forward Operating Base Connolly.
“This is the ANA and the AUP (Afghan Uniformed Police) trying to establish a base of security,” Burney said. “They go out there and clear an area to show the people that they can still secure them; they can still provide safety and protection.”
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Bn., 327th Inf. Regt., and Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team Blackhorse, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regt., 1st BCT, 101st Abn. Div., joined ANA soldiers of the 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, and AUP personnel in the effort.
Soldiers and supplies were delivered to Hesarak in three waves. The first landed in a wheat field in the early hours, May 15; the second arrived shortly before noon that same day; the final dropped its passengers and cargo before dawn, May 16.
Under cover of darkness, the first wave slogged its way across freshly watered fields, up and down walled terraces, and through a maze of irrigation systems to the objective.
“That was the worst part of the mission: the movement in,” said Spc. Vang Seng Thao, combat camera, 55th Signal Company, Combat Camera, 21st Signal Brigade, 114th Signal Battalion, of Fort Meade, Md. “There were freshly irrigated wheat fields, it was very muddy. Every time you would step, your boots would get stuck in the mud, or you’d be tripping on rocks.”
Not only was the ground treacherous; the weight of the packs Soldiers carried had a tendency to pitch people off balance.
“Some guys were carrying M240Bs with all the extra ammo for those, so they were carrying well over 100 pounds,” Thao said. “Everything else after that was a breeze because we didn’t have all the extra weight.”
Near dawn on May 15, one of the platoons took enemy contact. Sporadic barrages of small arms fire continued throughout the day, with each platoon eventually making contact with the enemy.
There were no U.S., ANA, or AUP casualties, even with the insurgents’ continued attacks. The insurgents, on the other hand, took several.
Beating back the forces harassing the district center was a key part of the mission, but it wasn’t the only part.
Rotating in AUP replacements — the first in six months or more — meeting with local leaders, engaging the Afghan Air Force to help with the airlift, and allowing Afghan forces to take another step toward the front were critical aspects as well.
May 16, a large group of local leaders got together to discuss Hesarak with Afghan and U.S. forces.
“The ANA commander spoke a lot about how Heserak is just as important to the ANA as, say, Jalalabad or Bagram,” Thao said. “They’re still in Afghanistan, they’re Afghan citizens, and they’re going to be protected by the Afghan Army.”
Not only will the ANA and AUP provide support, but the Afghan Air Force will as well.
While U.S. Army Soldiers conduct air assault missions with the support of CH-47 Chinook helicopters from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, ANA personnel came in on Mi-17 helicopters, which are Afghan Air Force assets.
Though Army and Air branches of the Afghan military in this region are just beginning to work on missions together, the combined mission to Hesarak was a success.
“This is the second time, I believe, since we’ve been here that we were actually able to request and get the Afghan Air Force,” said Capt. John Reinke, team leader, SFAAT Blackhorse, of Greensboro, Ga.
With this mission ANA soldiers took another step toward the front of the column, first by reassuring local leaders of continued ANA involvement, but also by leading foot patrols around Hesarak.
“The patrols were, in a sense, run by the ANA to show that they could do their jobs,” said Thao, who accompanied the Soldiers of Alpha Company’s 2nd Platoon to record their particular mission of clearing and securing a portion of the village. “So whenever we did go on patrols, the ANA were in the front to get the experience and show that they knew exactly what they needed to do.”
Afghan soldiers leading all aspects of a mission is something units like the Blackhorse SFAAT have been working toward throughout their time in country.
“What we’re starting to do is have a smaller and smaller adviser footprint forward of the Kandak because they’re capable of providing mission command forward,” said Reinke. “Now we’re starting to work back at the Kandak headquarters to ensure they’re able to mirror the systems that we’ve been able to develop with them over the past six or seven months.”
The approximately 80-hour mission allowed Afghan forces to show just how far they’ve come, but also where they still need to go.
“In the short run, we’ve been successful in establishing a presence and clearing through certain areas,” Burney said. “It is the hope that the ANA will continue to do this, especially pushing out west in places like Hesarak.”
By Roger Teel, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Public Affairs
- TALOS is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection.
Warrior Web Project
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on the Warrior Web Project, which has many of the attributes of the Army’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit concept.
Future force Soldiers
The future warfighter uniform will incorporate new helmet technologies, sensors, communication devices, hearing protection and more.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army researchers are responding to a request from the U.S. Special Operations Command for technologies to help develop a revolutionary Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.
The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection. Using wide-area networking and on-board computers, operators will have more situational awareness of the action around them and of their own bodies.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as RDECOM, is submitting TALOS proposals in response to the May 15 request.
“There is no one industry that can build it,” said SOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris during a panel discussion at a conference at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., recently, reported Defense Media Network.
The request, currently posted on Federal Business Opportunities, is looking for technology demonstration submissions from research and development organizations, private industry, individuals, government labs and academia to support the command-directed requirement issued by Adm. William McRaven, USSOCOM commander.
“[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that — a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in,” said. Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, an RDECOM science advisor assigned to SOCOM.
TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently developing armor made from magnetorheological fluids — liquid body armor — that transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. Though still in development, this technology will likely be submitted to support TALOS.
“RDECOM cuts across every aspect making up this combat armor suit,” Borjes said “It’s advanced armor. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here, too.”
SOCOM demonstrations will take placeJuly 8-10, at or near MacDill Air Force Base.
The request asks participants to submit a white paper summary of their technology by May 31, describing how TALOS can be constructed using current and emerging technologies. A limited number of participant white papers will be selected and those selected will demonstrate their technologies.
The initial demonstration goal is to identify technologies that could be integrated into an initial capability within a year. A second goal is to determine if fielding the TALOS within three years is feasible.
U.S. Army science advisors, such as Borjes, are embedded with major units around the world to speed technology solutions to Soldiers’ needs. The Field Assistance in Science and Technology program’s 30 science advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, provide a link between Soldiers and the RDECOM’s thousands of subject matter experts.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.
By Staff Sgt. Jes Smith, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Maj. Gen. Charles Gailes, commander, Joint Task Force 51, speaks to staff members of his Tactical Operations Center during a situational brief, May 22, 2013, at Fort Bliss, Texas. JTF-51 is part of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) and is based out of Fort…
Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins (top, center) listens intently during the morning Commander’s Update Briefing, May 22, 2013, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, during Ardent Sentry 13. AS13 is a full-scale joint exercise conducted May 16-23 by U.S. Northern Command…
Soldiers with the 44th Civil Support Team, the 316th Engineer Company and the 766th Engineer Company, train on extracting simulated casualties from a debris pile at Camp Blanding, Fla., as part of Ardent Sentry 2013.
Soldiers and civilians of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) coordinate information coming into the Current Operations and Integration Center, May 22, 2013, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, during Ardent Sentry 13. The exercise ran from May 16-23. It is designed…
FORT BLISS, Texas — In any disaster, local first responders start the recovery process. And when they need more manpower, the state can send in additional agencies, such as the National Guard.
If more help is needed, then the federal government can turn to the command with the mission of providing Defense Support of Civil Authorities — specifically, Joint Task Force 51 from U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), headquartered out of Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
If the United States is unlucky enough to have multiple, massive incidents simultaneously, Army North, as U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command, has the mission and the expertise to lead and coordinate with units from both active and reserve bases across the U.S. to provide the appropriate support to the lead federal agency at the appropriate time.
Such was the scene for the command’s JTF-51 as it participated in Ardent Sentry 2013, which is a major disaster response exercise directed by U.S. Northern Command.
JTF-51′s efforts were geared toward four locations on opposite sides of Texas, with San Antonio and Fort Sam Houston in the east and El Paso and Fort Bliss in the West.
The main force of JTF-51′s command in Fort Sam Houston kicked off the exercise May 20, as its forward Tactical Operations Center positioned itself at Fort Bliss.
The cities of San Antonio and El Paso each had Emergency Operation Centers, or EOCs, involved in the exercise, adding an additional layer of realistic training by simulating working with the civilian agencies when called to action.
“We have to be ready at all times to respond for the American people,” said Sgt. Maj. William Powers, operations sergeant major, JTF-51. “The only way to truly stay ready is by regularly conducting training events, such as Ardent Sentry 13; so that way, no matter how many Soldiers come and go within JTF-51, the unit is always ready to fulfill its DSCA mission.”
One of the big changes for the AS13 exercise involved the establishment of a forward Tactical Operations Center as a result of a recommendation from the lessons learned portion of previous exercises. By using a TAC, the task force attempted to enhance command and control of situations closer to a second incident.
“So far, everyone has been really happy with the results from using the TAC,” said Lt. Col. Eric Hood, an operations officer with JTF-51. “Being right here in the city (of El Paso), we are able to take some immediate actions that we couldn’t have done otherwise.”
The El Paso and Fort Bliss military community is unique because it is a border community with Mexico. To capitalize on a training opportunity, a portion of Ardent Sentry 13 was designed as a cross-border incident that requires members of JTF-51 to work with both U.S. agencies and Mexican agencies during a table-top exercise with no troops crossing either border.
The Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional is working with the Task Force by sending liaison officers to Fort Sam Houston to help enhance coordination and communication between the two nations. The participants in this phase were able to discuss possibilities of mutual assistance in the event of a crisis.
“It’s really important that the training exercise involves Mexico as well because we never know if a disaster will be along a border, such as the scenario we are training with now,” said Powers, who postponed his retirement after finding out his unit had been placed on orders for the DSCA mission.
Military liaisons were also sent to each EOC to practice coordinating efforts with local officials and first responders. One of those TF-51 liaison officers, Capt. Daniel Fass, said his main mission was to translate military language and terms for his civilian partners.
“I know it’s all English, but sometimes when Soldiers start talking, you can see the faces of civilians go a little blank and you can tell you have lost them with the military jargon,” said Fass. “If I am doing my job right, then I shouldn’t be seeing blank stares.”
In addition to the El Paso EOC, JTF-51 worked with personnel from the 1st Armored Division EOC on Fort Bliss to simulate how a local military unit would respond to a nearby crisis.
By sending a Tactical Operations Center of approximately 30 Soldiers from Fort Sam Houston to Fort Bliss, Army North’s JTF-51 added multiple levels of coordination and complexity to the Ardent Sentry exercise — making it more realistic and enhancing the military training with that of agencies who regularly respond to incidents.
“You better believe that local authorities are already training every day to handle the situations we are training for ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Gailes, commander, JTF-51. “It’s our job, as a task force, to be prepared to help out when the situation becomes just too big for them to handle.”
By Justin Ward
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As directed by Congress with the passage of the Disaster Relief Appropriation Act of 2013, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers scientists and engineers launched a collaborative study today to determine how best to reduce flood and storm damage risks for people and communities along the North Atlantic coast.
According to the Act, the study was authorized up to $20 million to “address the flood risks of vulnerable coastal populations in the areas that were affected by Hurricane Sandy within the boundaries of the North Atlantic Division of the [U.S. Army] Corps [of Engineers].”
The Act requires completion of the study by January 2015.
While compiling the study, officially known as the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, scientists and engineers will consider future sea-level rise scenarios and integrate economic, climatological, engineering, environmental and societal data from Virginia to Maine to develop a comprehensive framework to reduce coastal flood risk and promote resiliency, said Joseph Vietri, dDirector, National Planning Center of Expertise for Coastal Storm Risk Management, who is leading the effort for the Corps.
According to Vietri, the study will be collaborative, comprehensive and integrated, and conducted in partnership with federal, tribal, state and local government representatives as well as non-government organizations, academia, technical experts and interested parties.
For more information on the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study please visit http://www.nad.usace.army.mil/compstudy.
By Kevin L. Robinson, DeCA public affairs specialist
FORT LEE, Va. — When furloughs are implemented, most military commissaries will close one day a week on Mondays, said the director and chief executive officer of the Defense Commissary Agency. Between July 8 and Sept. 30, 2013, there will be eleven additional days commissaries are closed, days they are not normally closed.
The Monday closures are in addition to any day stores are routinely closed. For instance, there are 148 stores now that routinely close on Mondays. For those stores, they would also be closed the next normal day of operation. Other than the furlough day, there are no other changes planned for store operation hours.
The announcement comes as the Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, follows Department of Defense protocols related to the automatic federal government budget reductions, known as sequestration, which began March 1, 2013. Like most DOD activities, DeCA is mandated to furlough its civil service employees. Furlough notices are scheduled to be delivered to DeCA employees between May 28 and June 5.
DeCA has 247 commissaries with more than 16,000 employees operating in 13 countries and two U.S. territories. Furloughs will impact all of DeCA’s more than 14,000 U.S. civilian employees.
“We know that any disruption in commissary operations will impact our patrons,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA’s director and CEO. “Also, we understand the tremendous burden this places on our employees, who, when furloughed, will lose 20 percent of their pay. We determined that Monday closures would present the least pain for our patrons, employees and industry partners.”
As sequestration continues, commissary customers can find out about any changes to their local store’s operating schedule by going to www.commissaries.com, clicking on the “Locations” tab, then “Alphabetical Listing,” finding their store and clicking on “local store information.” Patrons are reminded that because sequestration is so fluid, DeCA’s plan for this budget-cutting measure is subject to change.
DeCA decided on Monday closures after weighing the potential disruption to patrons and suppliers of having rolling furloughs, where closure dates would differ from store to store. Universal Monday closures are less disruptive to shoppers and the agency’s industry partners, vendors, suppliers and distributors, who deliver products daily to DeCA’s commissaries.
Store staffs overseas include a mix of U.S. and local national employees. Because they are not U.S. government employees, local national employees are not subject to furlough actions. Select locations overseas will open if they have an adequate local national staff. However, if an overseas store is closed, its local national staff will report to work and perform other store-related duties.
In January, DOD released guidance to allow defense components to plan for potential budget cuts by reducing operating costs. In line with that direction, DeCA later executed the following budget-cutting measures:
– a hiring freeze on all outside hires
– curtailment of official travel for all conferences, training and any other events and activities considered noncritical to the agency’s mission
– cancellation of the agency’s May Worldwide Case Lot Sales for all commissaries. Instead, stores are conducting smaller-scale events such as outdoor sidewalk sales
– curtailment of all overtime and compensatory time unless deemed mission-critical
– review of contract services to restrict any increases
– curtailment of all monetary awards unless legally required
– postponement of all Guard and Reserve on-site sales scheduled after July 8 until further notice.
“We are in this together,” Jeu said. “Though limited in our ability by circumstances we cannot control, I assure you we will do all we can to mitigate the impact of sequestration on our patrons, employees and industry partners, and on our mission.”
States With Minimum Wage At The Federal Level Of $7.25 Per Hour Have Largest Wage Gaps, Nwlc Analysis Shows
(Washington, D.C.) The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) Wednesday released new analysis that shows that the average gender wage gap in states with minimum wages above the federally mandated $7.25 per hour is three cents smaller than the average wage gap in states where the minimum wage is just $7.25. And the analysis shows that among the ten states with the widest wage gaps in 2011—Wyoming, Louisiana, Utah, West Virginia, North Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan, Alabama, Montana and Idaho—only two (Michigan and Montana) had minimum wages above $7.25.
Seven of the ten states with the narrowest wage gaps in 2011—District of Columbia, Vermont, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, Arizona and Florida—had minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour. The Center’s analysis reveals that in every state, women represent at least 50 percent of the workers making the state’s minimum wage or below. In twenty-five states, women account for more than 60 percent of the workers making at or below the state minimum wage.
Women make up nearly half the labor force, but their paychecks lag far behind men’s. A woman who works full time, year round is typically paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart—a pay gap that translated to $11,084 in lost wages in 2011. In Wyoming—the state with the worst wage gap for women overall—a woman working full time, year round is typically paid only 67 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart, which translated to $17, 249 in lost wages in 2011. The Center’s analysis reveals that a wage gap of Wyoming’s magnitude, or worse, is the norm for women of color. African-American women working full time, year-round are typically paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women are typically paid only 55 cents, for each dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. These gaps resulted in a loss of $18,817 for African-American women and $23,298 for Hispanic women in 2011.
“This month marks fifty years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, and the gap in wages has moved at a snail’s pace—shrinking only18 cents in five decades and remaining stagnant for the last decade,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger. “And for women of color, the wage gap is even worse. Equal pay is not an abstract principle for women and their families. It translates into thousands of dollars of lost wages year after year that cut deeply into household budgets and force many families to go without basic necessities. At a time when families are relying increasingly on women’s wages, it’s critical to close this gap—and do it now.”
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of passage of the Equal Pay Act, which occurs on June 10th, the Center today launched the website My Wage Gap (http://www.mywagegap.org), which features visually compelling info-graphics about the wage disparity and an interactive portal where women can post what they would do with an additional $11,000 per year. Women’s entries will be highlighted in real time and posted on Facebook and Twitter (#fairpay)—generating a national conversation among women of all ages about how the wage gap affects them personally.
Also Wednesday, the Center will host an equal pay panel—50 Years and Counting: The Unfinished Business of Achieving Fair Pay—at the National Press Club featuring Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as the keynote speaker. The four panelists will discuss the barriers that allow the wage gap to persist and propose concrete solutions to close it, which include the following measures: raising the minimum wage, strengthening equal pay laws by prohibiting retaliation against employees for discussing their pay, closing loopholes that make these laws less effective, increasing opportunities for women and girls to train for and enter higher-wage nontraditional jobs, adopting 21st Century workplace policies, such as paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave, and enforcing existing protections for women in the workplace, including against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and caregiving.
For more NWLC analysis of the wage gap and women’s economic status:
- The Wage Gap, State by State
- Explaining the wage gap
- Closing the wage gap is crucial for women of color and their families
- How the wage gap hurts women and families
- The Wage Gap Over Time
Source: Press Release – The National Women’s Law Center
By Eloise Lundgren
Airborne RA-1 2
A paratrooper flies the RA-1 parachute system during an operational test conducted by the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Operational Test Command, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Airborne Test RA-1
Jumpers buddy-rig the RA-1 parachute system during an operational test conducted by the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Operational Test Command, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate conducted a rigorous operational test recently on the new Military Free Fall Advanced Ram-Air Parachute System, a non-developmental item that is about to replace the nearly 20-year-old MC-4 parachute system for all service branches, according to the test officer.
Supported by 30 static line qualified paratroopers from C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment at Joint Base-Lewis-McChord, Wash., and 50 military free fall paratroopers from the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 10th Special Forces Command groups, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, or ABNSOTD, testers conducted the operational test to validate the system’s effectiveness, suitability and safety, said Roderick Manke, test plans analyst.
“The RA-1 is an individual Soldier’s parachute system consisting of a main parachute, reserve parachute, harness and container,” Manke explained. “It is designed to allow insertion by both Military Free Fall and Double Bag Static Line techniques depending on mission deployment requirements.
“The system also allows for an increase in the jumper’s rigged weight of up to four hundred and fifty pounds,” he continued. “Additionally, the system is designed to deliver jumpers safely from aircraft flying at elevations from thirty-five hundred feet above ground level to twenty-five thousand feet mean sea level with an objective to go to thirty-five thousand [mean sea level] after follow-on testing.”
The main parachute will deliver the jumper safely to the ground during combat and training airdrop operations, Manke said, while the reserve parachute will function across a wide range of parachute malfunctions. The harness container is designed to fit the fifth through 95th percentile Soldiers and houses both the main and reserve canopies.
The test team consisted of Manke, an operational research system analyst, data manager, data collector, T-34 chase plane and pilot, photographer, videographers and an instrumentation technician. The player unit Soldiers were required to undergo new equipment training to include fitting, dawning, doffing, recovery, aircraft exit procedures and packing the main canopy.
Members of ATEC’s integrated product team from the Army Evaluation Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Ariz.; and ABNSOTD developed the design of experiment using performance specifications detailed by the team, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the combat developer, Manke explained.
Using drop zones at Laurinburg, Clinton and Raeford, N.C., and Fort Carson, Colo., paratroopers executed test jumps from U.S. Air Force C-127, Joint Cargo Aircraft, U.S. Army CASA 212, C-23 Sherpa, Pilatus Porter and contracted Twin Otter aircraft at altitudes from 5,500 feet AGL to 12,500 feet mean sea level in day and night conditions, he said.
“Our test team collected raw data, and we have provided our report to the evaluators at the Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground for their final evaluation report to support a milestone C, full materiel release type classification-standard,” Manke said. “The program manager is scheduled to begin fielding the RA-1 in the third quarter of fiscal year 2014.”
“I’d call this a successful endeavor as we were able to collect the right amount and right kind of data to support the evaluators,” said Col. Mark Edmonds, director, ABNSOTD. “And by selecting a non-developmental item, we will be able to accelerate the acquisition process and get the equipment to Soldiers a lot faster.”
ABNSOTD is under the command of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas, as a subordinate command of ATEC.