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February 4, 2011 at 4:57pm

Fort Carson will likely get aviation brigade

FT. CARSON, Colo. -- An Army environmental study says Colorado's Fort Carson is the best location for a new combat aviation brigade.

Members of Colorado's congressional delegation announced the findings Friday.

The Army concluded that it favors consolidating aircraft of up to one combat aviation brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and creating a brand new combat aviation brigade at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs.

The stationing of a CAB at JBLM would cause traffic volume on the base to increase, a according to a report released today by the Army.  

A final decision on where to put the new brigade is expected after March 7.

If the Army picks Fort Carson, 2,700 new soldiers and 120 helicopters would begin arriving in Oct. 2012.

Filed under: Army News, Fort Lewis, News To Us,

February 3, 2011 at 2:29pm

JBLM hosts Warrior Forge Planning Conference 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - More than 300 Soldiers and civilians from across the nation have gathered this week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Warrior Forge Planning Conference.

Operation Warrior Forge is the largest annual Army training in the United States. It is required for all Army ROTC Cadets to attend the course before becoming commissioned officers in the U.S. Army.

"Planning never stops for an event this size, but this is a single point of time where all the components can come together to understand the mission and set the conditions for the successful execution of the event in June," said Joel Manning, chief of plans for Warrior Forge.

During the 59 days of Warrior Forge, Joint Base Lewis-McChord will play host to more than 6,700 Cadets and more than 3,500 support personnel.

Cadets will begin arriving in mid-June for their 29-day training cycle, with the final Cadets leaving in early August.

They will be tested and assessed throughout their time on the ground here by vigorous physical and mental challenges that are designed to help them become future Army leaders.

"The biggest obstacle is in themselves and understanding that their fears can prevent them from performing at their best," Sgt. Maj. Gary Fortunato said. "It's our job to help them overcome that." Fortunato is a seasoned-veteran of 12 summers at Warrior Forge, spending the last six as the non-commissioned officer in charge of the water confidence course.

Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command, spoke Tuesday to planning conference attendees.

"We owe it to these Cadets to be a first-class organization," he said. "This is the foundation of their training. This is our opportunity to show them what ‘right' looks like."

As the start of Warrior Forge 2011 gets closer, family, friends, Cadets and cadre will be able to follow the progress of the LDAC attendees through social media. The Warrior Forge 2011 Facebook page and the Twitter feed at @warriorforge will launch in early March.

Filed under: Army News, ROTC, Fort Lewis,

February 1, 2011 at 10:18am

Army to prosecute JBLM soldier for Afghan murder

This from The News Tribune: The Army announced today that it will prosecute the fifth and final member of a group of Stryker soldiers who allegedly murdered Afghan civilians during patrols last year despite a review that cited weaknesses in the case against the soldier.

The announcement is a setback to Spc. Michael Wagnon, 30, whose family had hoped that the Army would dismiss charges against him after an investigating officer reviewed the case in November and reported that there was little evidence against him.

That report went to Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the senior general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, who determined the Army has evidence to proceed with a court-martial against Wagnon.

Wagnon will face a court-martial on charges that he murdered an Afghan civilian during a February patrol, shot at unarmed Afghans in March and participated in conspiracies to harm Afghans. He could be sentenced to life in prison if he's convicted.

The Army dismissed two charges from Wagnon's case. One alleged that he kept a piece of skull from an Afghan corpse; the other accused him of trying to obstruct the Army's investigation into his platoon's misconduct by destroying images of Afghan casualties on his computer.

His attorney debunked both of those charges at an Article 32 hearing in November. Wagnon's platoon mates said the skull fragment he kept came from a camel, not a person.

For more on the story, click here.

January 31, 2011 at 11:45am

JBLM wins environmental awards

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -The Army announced last Wednesday the results of the annual Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards.  Joint Base Lewis-McChord was selected as the Army winner in the Sustainability, Non-industrial Installation category.

A total of five installations, one organization, two teams, and one individual will receive Army awards for their environmental and sustainability program achievements during fiscal 2010.  The Secretary of the Army's Environmental Awards represent the highest honor in the field of environmental science and sustainability conferred by the Army. These award winners will go on to compete for the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards later this year.

A full list of this year's Army winners is available at http://www.army.mil/-newsreleases/2011/01/26/50872-army-announces-environmental-award-winners/ .

Additionally, JBLM has won the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Champions of Environmental Leadership and Green Government Award in the category of waste management.

"We need to focus on managing the resources we have at our disposal," said Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Installations, Energy and Environment. "These winning nominations translate into Army best practices. We are managing cultural and natural resources appropriately; reducing, reusing, repurposing and recycling; and doing what it takes to make our Army sustainable."

Six sustainability teams are responsible for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Installation Sustainability Program (ISP) goals in these focused areas:  Air Quality, Water Resources, Energy, Products & Materials Management, Sustainable Community, and Sustainable Training Lands. These teams facilitate and implement projects and initiatives that move JBLM toward its installation sustainability goals.

Recent JBLM accomplishments illustrate the depth and breadth of how sustainability touches the lives of JBLM personnel and supports the military training mission:

  • Green Procurement and Green Procurement Team
  • Environmental Management System and Environmental Operating Permits
  • Waste Diversion, Recycling, Composting, Concrete/Asphalt crushing and Reuse
  • Sustainable Master Plan's holistic design approach and Town Center project
  • Sustainability Outreach and Partnerships
  • Alternate Fuels and Transportation, and Commute Trip Reduction
  • Energy Conservation via $14M energy efficiency projects
  • Habitat Restoration (forests and native prairies)
  • Stormwater Filtration System facility including a wetlands education center, increased habitat for wildlife species, and a training area for Soldiers

"The goals already achieved and the goals yet to be reached promise a more sustainable, livable, and mission capable installation in the coming years," said Paul Steucke, Chief, Environmental Division at JBLM.  "Because of the strength of leaders, the dedication of the Installation Sustainability Program Teams, and the support of our neighbors and community members, we anticipate continued innovation and progress in the sustainable development of Joint Base Lewis-McChord," he added.

January 18, 2011 at 8:56am

Study: Deployed GIs benefited from upfront help

This from USA Today: A battlefield study conducted by the Army on 20,000 soldiers during the troop surge in Iraq shows that more aggressive efforts to question and counsel GIs about their mental health reduce by nearly 80 percent the number who develop behavioral health illnesses during combat.

The results of the study, to be published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also show that 54 percent fewer soldiers contemplated suicide and that the number who needed to be sent home from Iraq with mental health problems dropped by nearly 70 percent.

"We're excited about what this study shows," says Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army deputy surgeon general. "It is the first direct evidence that a program [of more aggressive screening and treatment] is effective in preventing adverse behavioral health outcomes."

The Army will begin using screening and treatment methods from the study within six months, Horoho says.

Battlefield doctors who authored the study tracked six brigades attached to the 3rd Infantry Division fighting in Iraq during early 2007, at the height of a surge ordered by President Bush. At the core of the experiment was an effort to more thoroughly screen soldiers as they were heading off to war, the study says.

To read the complete story, click here.

January 13, 2011 at 4:14pm

Army doctor pleads guilty to graft

This from The News Tribune: A Madigan Army Medical Center cardiologist pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally accepting funds from a medical-equipment manufacturer that wanted to do business with the hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle reported.

Maj. Jason Layne Davis, 38, faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine when sentenced in April.

Davis accepted about $4,800 in cash, meals and gratuities from Guidant Sales Corp, a sudsidiary of Boston Scientific, between January 2006 and February 2009, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He worked as the chief of Madigan's cardiology department during part of that time and almost exclusively used Boston Scientific's pacemakers and implantable defibrillators in his practice, according to prosecutors.

Last fall, Guidant Sales paid $600,000 to the U.S. government to settle claims it provided illegal payments to Davis to influence him to use the company's devices and recommend that others do the same.

"Military doctors must owe their allegiance to the soldiers and families they treat - not to drug companies or makers of medical devices," U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said. "That is why we have a bright line rule: doctors employed by the government cannot accept payments or gratuities from an outside source, especially one that is seeking government business."

Filed under: Army News, Crime, News To Us,

January 13, 2011 at 11:31am

Ex-soldier in Lacey fights deportation to Pakistan

This from The News Tribune: A disabled former Washington National Guard soldier got to go home to Lacey after his immigration hearing ended Wednesday, but he still could be deported to his native Pakistan later this year.

Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry, 37, brought about 30 supporters from the Olympia area with him for his hearing before an immigration judge on charges that he lied on visa documents. He sat in his wheelchair, wore his National Guard dress uniform and appealed to stay in the U.S. based on his service in the military.

"I have served with honor and dignity," Chaudhry, who was discharged a year ago for medical reasons, said before his hearing began.

For more on the story, click here.

January 11, 2011 at 12:15pm

5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment returns from deployment

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - About 280 Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment will be reunited with friends and families at a "welcome home" ceremony currently scheduled for 3 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Wilson Gym on JBLM Lewis-North.

The unit deployed in January 2010 and has spent the past year spread across 15 different locations in Iraq, from Mosul in the north to the southern city of Basra, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. 

The JBLM Soldiers were part of a larger air defense task force while in Iraq known as Joint Task Force 5-5 ADA which totaled almost 430 Soldiers and Sailors whose mission was to provide Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) "sense and warn" capabilities to detect incoming indirect fire attacks and to alert forces.  In various locations throughout Iraq, JTF 5-5 ADA also had the capability to intercept and destroy incoming indirect fire, protecting mission essential assets.

This was the unit's third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They completed their second deployment in May 2008.

Filed under: Army News, Deployment, Iraq,

January 10, 2011 at 4:37pm

Rally planned to stop deportation of Army veteran

I received this today from a group calling itself "Keep Zahid Home."

Veterans, along with friends and neighbors of disabled US military veteran Spc. Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry will protest outside the Seattle Immigration Court building from noon to 1 p.m. prior to Chaudhry's deportation hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Supporters of Chaudhry are calling on elected representatives to take action to prevent the deportation of the decorated veteran and valued community member.

Chaudhry is a legal permanent resident who served in the U.S. Army and National Guard until he was honorably discharged due to injuries sustained in the military that left him in a wheelchair. Despite his qualified military service and despite being married to a U.S. citizen for ten years, Chaudhry has been forced to resist wrongful deportation to Pakistan and fight for his right to remain in the United States.

In his struggle to remain home with his family, Chaudhry has received letters of support and recommendations for citizenship from U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressman Doc Hastings, Washington State legislators, as well as from a former immigration adjudicator. His ordeal was profiled in the Yakima Herald Republic in an article that was subsequently picked up by the Associated Press and has been featured in news outlets across the country.

Yet deportation proceedings have continued against him. As a result, friends and neighbors of the Chaudhrys have organized the "Keep Zahid Home" campaign with the intention of making it clear that the Chaudhrys are valued members of the community who should not be forced to leave.

"This is a man who has always come to the U.S. legally and is a legal permanent resident," says Keep Zahid Home organizer Wendy Tanowitz. "Our government has a reputation for not fulfilling its promises to its veterans. The treatment of Zahid Chaudhry, who served in the military until injuries made him no longer valuable and who is now being threatened with deportation, does nothing to improve the government's image."

The Keep Zahid Home campaign calls on elected representatives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prevent the deportation of this valued friend and neighbor who has done so much for our country.

Following the Jan. 12 rally, Spc. Chaudhry will attend a master calendar hearing in Immigration Court to determine the status of his deportation proceedings.

For more information, visit www.keepzahidhome.org.       

Filed under: Army News, Ceremony,

January 7, 2011 at 12:15pm

Gates outlines ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal process

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2011 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday described the Pentagon's three-step process for preparing to allow gays to serve openly in the military services.    

At a Pentagon news conference with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gates updated reporters on the department's plan for implementing repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which has been in effect since 1993 and remains in effect until the process is complete.

"Our goal here is to move as quickly, but as responsibly, as possible," Gates said. "I see this as a three-step process. The first is to finalize changes in regulations [and] policies [and] get clearer definition on benefits."

The second phase is to prepare training materials for use by personnel specialists, chaplains, commanders and other leaders, and those who are in daily contact with service members, he said.

The third phase, the secretary explained, is the actual training for service members.

"We're trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible," he said. "My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks, so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people."

To read the complete story, click here.

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