Friday, January 30, 2009

White House Stimulates Purple House

With the Stimulus Plan now past the House, and headed to the Senate, some are already comparing total amounts to what Pres. Obama requested and what the House passed and the Senate is calling for. As of yet, not much detail beyond broad categorizations.

Of interest to this blog is the monies in the House Stimulus Package for Defense, about $8.8 billion of the $825 billion (~1%).
  • $350 million for research into using renewable energy for powering weapons and military bases (alternative energy projects);
  • $3.75 billion for new construction for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers (remember Walter Reed or have we already forgotten);
  • $455 million to renovations to medical facilities (ditto);
  • $2.1 billion for repairs to military facilities (when have barracks been an issue?);
  • $1.2 billion for new housing construction (ditto);
  • $154 million to improve troop housing (ditto);
  • $360 million for new child development centers (military families and re-enlistment goals);
  • $400 million for new construction for Guard and Reserve units (Total Force goals);
  • $4.5 billion for USACE for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydro power and navigation infrastructure (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita);
  • $300 million to clean up closed military installations (and return them to civilian public use or for sale to private-tax paying, deficit reducing businesses).
Of course, like the balance of the Stimulus Package, these proposed expenditures are tied to the creation of jobs. The total package of $825 billion is billed as a "first step." However, including the military in the Stimulus Package has produced critics. The Cato Institute released a piece Defense Doesn't Need Stimulus, claiming that defense had more than enough money already and relating these expenditures to the F-22, etc.

I would agree that the defense budget is not a jobs program. Well, the Stimulus Package is mostly all about jobs (except for those parts about needed social services) and ready-to-go infrastructure. And the defense needs do offer shovel-ready infrastructure that is not defense industry weapons manufacture but concrete and sticks as evidenced by the categories above.

Right now, the Army is into Grow the Army (to the personnel levels set by Congress), Realignment, Global Positioning and Base Closures' remediation and cleanup for transfer or sale to the civilian sector (for bases going back to the 1988 first BRAC round). If you aren't aware of budget shortfalls in infrastructure needs, here are two blogs (Army Dollars Are Green and In Defense of a Budget) I did for another blog that recap the issues.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reflection Park at Fort Lewis

The Fort Lewis Chapter of the Association of the United States Army is supporting fundraising efforts for Reflection Park at Fort Lewis, a memorial honoring fallen service members that have lost their lives during past and present conflicts, and who have ties to Washington State.

A total of $7 million is needed to complete the project. Please contact Carlene Joseph to send your fundraising ideas or if you would like to make a donation. Additional details about Reflection Park can be found here.

Air Force Association or Association of the United States Army Corporate Membership

The McChord Air Force Association and the Fort Lewis Chapter of the Association of the United States Army are accepting applications for corporate or individual membership. The annual fees are affordable and this is a perfect way to become part of the military community. Please email Carlene Joseph for details.

Puyallup Dealers Donate to Fort Lewis' Reflection Park

On January 29th, 11:00 am, at Puyallup's Pioneer Park, in front of the Veterans' Monument, the Puyallup Dealerships will deliver $30,020.00 to the Fort Lewis AUSA Chapter President for the benefit of Reflection Park at Fort Lewis. This link provides the address of the Park.

The dealers generously donated $10.00 for every car they sold during a 90-day period, which resulted in the sizable donation. Reflection Park at Fort Lewis is a memorial that honors all service members who lost their lives in a past or current conflict, and who have ties to Washington State.

The media, service members, and community partners are expected to be in attendance.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Longest-serving US Ambassador to China steps down

On January 14th, Ambassador Clark T. Randt, Jr., was honored by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) as he was leaving his post in Beijing as the longest-serving US Ambassador to the People's Republic of China. Ambassador Randt presented his credentials in July 2001, serving over seven and a half years. Ambassador Randt's remarks provide a brief summation of the past thirty years of the US-China relationship, as well as his view of their future. The remarks are presented here in an abridged format.

Remarks to American Chamber of Commerce
by Clark T. Randt, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
Westin Hotel Chaoyang
January 14, 2009

Good evening. Distinguished guests, friends, and fellow Americans, I am personally touched by the honor you do Sarah and me by organizing and hosting this lovely dinner this evening.
As I prepare to depart Beijing next week, I must confess to being sad to be leaving the best job in the United States Government and the smart, dedicated and professional team at the Embassy that I have been blessed with.

The seven and a half years have run too quickly. I was just getting settled in our magnificent new Embassy. I am, however, pleased and proud to be leaving behind a United States-China relationship that has never been better.

These past few days, I have had the honor of participating in events commemorating the 30th anniversary of U.S.-China relations with President Carter, National Security Advisors Kissinger, Scowcroft and Brzezinski, as well as most of my living predecessors as Ambassadors to China. This has been a fitting bookend to my tour.

In this vein, I would like to reflect on the unimaginable changes over the past 30 years and particularly the last nearly eight years that I have had the great privilege of representing the United States of America in China at this critical time in history.

I also want to thank the American Chamber of Commerce in China for its support and the members for their advice and friendship. The Chamber has played a critical role in advocating for and demonstrating the mutual benefits of a good relationship with China. As I look, I can’t help but be impressed by how far we’ve all come together.

I remember being the Embassy’s Commercial Attaché from 1982-1984, when the entire section was three people led by my mentor, the late Mel Searls, with offices in Ambassador Hummel’s garage. In 1979, Mel introduced me to AmCham in Hong Kong, and I followed him as the Chairman of the AmCham Hong Kong China Commercial Relations Committee. The Searls Building still stands on the San Ban Embassy Compound.

In the early 80’s, as many of you remember, Beijing boasted no skyscrapers. Transport was by bicycle or car, and the Beijing International Airport was a sleepy building surrounded by farms. The Third Ring Road, precisely where this spectacular new Westin Hotel now stands, was considered the “edge of civilization.”

In 1979, total U.S.-China trade amounted to only $2.5 billion. Compare that to 2008, when U.S.-China trade surpassed $400 billion.

In 1973, just after President Nixon’s groundbreaking visit, the top exports from the United States to China were wheat, corn, passenger aircraft and soybeans. In 2008, the top exports from the United States to China were electrical machinery, plastics and aircraft.

In 1973, the top imports from China to the United States were tin, cotton, silk, antiques, art and animal products. In 2008, the top imports from China to the United States were machinery, toys, sports equipment, furniture, bedding, and footwear. As one pundit has noted, we’ve gone from T-shirts to T-bills.

Last year, the United States and China combined to make up more than 30% of the globe’s gross domestic product. The United States has become China’s largest single national trading partner, and China is now the United States’ third largest and fastest growing export market. U.S. exports have tripled since my arrival in 2001.

As a further indicator of the importance of the U.S.-China commercial relationship, today there are 147 U.S. Commercial Service employees throughout China, the largest overseas U.S. Commercial presence in the world. In Beijing, the Commercial Section has a staff of 53, making it the largest individual Commercial post in the world.

U.S. investment in China continues to grow, from $9.6 billion in 2000 to over $60 billion today. China itself is a growing investor in the United States and the rest of the world. In fact, China is the United States’ largest creditor, a fact that is drawing our economies and our common interests ever more tightly together.

Any sustainable bilateral relationship must be built on a foundation of people-to-people exchanges and popular support. In fiscal year 1979, the embassy issued just 4,700 non-immigrant visas for Chinese citizens to visit the United States, of which 770 were for students. In 2008, our Embassy and Consulates around China issued nearly half a million non-immigrant visas for Chinese citizens to visit the United States, of which 77,000 were for Chinese traveling to study there – a 46% increase from the number of student visas issued the year before, and a 100-fold increase from 1979.

Today, there are roughly five times the number of Americans studying Chinese in China – 11,000 – as there were when I arrive in 2001. Yale President [Richard] Levin tells me that 10% of students at Yale are studying Chinese language.

In 1979, the Embassy had a total staff of 67. When I arrived as Ambassador in 2001, we had a total Embassy staff of approximately 500 from 12 different U.S. Government agencies. I am leaving a staff of over 1,100 from 29 U.S. Government agencies located in a magnificent new Embassy facility that you can see, shining like a beacon, from the executive floor of this hotel.
By every imaginable metric, our relationship has expanded and deepened in importance.

Over the course of the past 30 years, we have learned that keeping the relationship between our two countries on track requires not only constant high-level attention by the senior leaders of both countries, but also a strong institutional framework of bilateral dialogue mechanisms. Today we boast more than 60. These dialogues offer regular and effective channels of high-level communication and provide opportunities for constant re-examination of where our national priorities intersect.

At the same time, policy-makers have to identify and understand the root causes for areas of disagreement and to thoughtfully manage those differences.
Significantly improved U.S.-China relations will be one of the lasting legacies of President Bush. He has made an unprecedented four official visits to China, more than any other previous sitting U.S. president. The increase in the frequency of Presidential visits, face-to-face meetings, direct correspondence and phone calls is one of the changes in U.S.-China relations that I have witnessed in my nearly eight years as Ambassador. President Bush has met with President Hu Jintao 19 times, in addition to making numerous phone calls and conducting extensive written correspondence. Our Presidents have a personal relationship that corresponds to the importance of the bilateral relationship.

During the past eight years, President Bush and President Hu have used Presidential summits to develop our diplomatic infrastructure. At APEC in 2004, President Bush and President Hu agreed to establish a Senior Dialogue led by Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte and State Councilor Dai Bingguo to exchange views on strategic policy issues. In 2006, President Bush and President Hu agreed to establish the Strategic Economic Dialogue, which serves as our overarching framework for discussing bilateral economic issues. These mechanisms, such as the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), allow us to constructively manage issues on which we continue to have differences.

As China has changed, so too has AmCham. I have seen AmCham grow from an organization of 600 corporate members when I arrived to one of over 1,200 today. AmCham has accomplished much in the last eight years and has much to be proud of. We at the Embassy have appreciated your support and our close cooperative working relationship.

You have been our partners in pushing for transparency, rule of law, stronger IPR protection and further opening of China’s market. From AmCham Doorknocks to the IPR roundtables, corporate social responsibility programs, the Aviation Cooperation Program, the support of the JCCT Working Groups, the businesses visa program, an anti-monopoly and government procurement training program, as well as numerous other activities, your work has had a tremendous impact.

It has been a great honor and privilege to represent the United States in China. No bilateral relationship is more important to the future security and prosperity of Asia and the world than this one. Our planet faces enormous challenges ranging from resource scarcity, growing energy needs and environmental degradation to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and emerging infectious diseases. If we are to overcome these challenges, we must work together as partners.
The current economic seas are stormy, and the United States and China are in the same boat.
At the fifth SED last month here in Beijing, Treasury Secretary Paulson and Vice Premier Wang were determined to show global investors that the United States and China are working together to sustain growth and financial stability – that we are steering that boat together.

The United States welcomes the emergence of China as a responsible global power and as a partner in dealing with global crises. Going forward, the United States and China will be increasingly interdependent, and the areas where our interests intersect will continue to expand. The changes over the next 30 years will be even more dramatic than those we have already experienced.

AmCham friends, thank you for your continuing efforts to make the U.S.-China relationship the most important, constructive and effective relationship on earth. As a former Commercial Officer in Beijing, I know that in the past, when the relationship was stormy, it has been the business community that has held the relationship together. Thank you for being such good partners.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Massing the Colors

You are invited.

The annual Massing of the Colors ceremony is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2009 at the Soldiers Field House at Fort Lewis, WA. This is a family oriented patriotic event. The ceremony honors patriots and organizations who have served, are serving and will serve our nation. This free ceremony is open to the public.

If your organization wishes to participate or if you have questions, please contact COL (Ret.) Jo Swartz at 253-582-4185. Please help spread the word.

Bumped on the Road

The scheduled hearing before the State Senate Government Operations Committee has been delayed.

Formerly scheduled for Monday, Jan. 26, 10:00 a.m. - 12 noon, other issues have pre-empted the committee's calendar.

The issues:
  1. "do no harm" to professional licenses/certifications for activated Guard/Reserve
  2. accept applicable military training for civilian jobs/occupations

Look for future information and opportunities to be involved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vision Clears in Fog as Ft. Lewis May Grow More

A few folks braved the dense fog to attend the Open House hosted by the Army for possible expansion of troops and units at Fort Lewis.

As blogged earlier, Ft. Lewis is examining the potential increase of 5,680 troops to Ft. Lewis. This would promise to bring the post's strength up to over 40,000 by 2013. The alternatives are:

  1. Grow the Army This alternative would increase by approximately 1,880 soldiers by 2013. This alternative has been publicly available before.

  2. Combat Service Support This alternative would be Alternative 1 plus about 1,000 Combat Service Support soldiers. This alternative has been publicly available before.

  3. Combat Aviation Brigade This alternative would be Alternative 2 plus the addition of a 2,800 soldier Combat Aviation Brigade with 110 helicopters. This is not to be confused with an Environmental Assessment in 2005 for 800 soldiers in an aviation regiment. That earlier move from Germany to Ft. Lewis has been accomplished. This is a new action.

  4. Status Quo This alternative is a no change from present conditions comparison.

Respondents have until February 5 to comment upon a scoping for an Environmental Impact Statement (National Environmental Protection Act). The full timeline guide is:

  • Jan.-Jul. 2009 Draft EIS

  • Jul.-Aug. 2009 Public Comments about the Draft EIS

  • Aug.-Nov. 2009 Final EIS Issued

  • Dec. 2009 Record of Decision

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Military Affairs Forum 2-11-09

Military Affairs Committee

Meeting Notice Reminder
Wednesday, Feb. 11
7:30 – 9:00 a.m.


The Military Cluster- A New Effort for Our Economy

Chris Strow, Principal Economic Policy Analyst, Puget Sound Regional Council
will cover strategy development, action items and data collection during the first public presentation of the Military Cluster report.

The Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Prosperity Partnership undertook a cluster strategy to develop our regional economy. The Military Cluster was added to our strategy because of the abnormal contribution it makes to the employment base of the four counties that make up the PSRC (Pierce, King, Snohomish and Kitsap). The Military Cluster adds nearly 125,000 jobs and $3 billion in payroll to our regional economy.


McChord AFB is host to the 2009 Air Mobility Command Rodeo -- a true, "World Series" competition pitting the top military airlift teams in the world.

Lt Col Philip Kase, the Rodeo director at McChord, will speak about the event. At each Rodeo, hotel rooms from SeaTac to Olympia are sold out. Rental cars are all on the road. Restaurants’ seats are full. And the region sees an economic boom for the extended competition between USAF airlift units and hundreds of airmen, premiere international team competitors and international observers.

Sheryl Swory, from the 62nd Force Support Squadron, will let you know the benefits and procedures on how to go about showcasing your company at events of the 2009 Air Mobility Command Rodeo and other programs at McChord.

Wednesday Feb. 11
7:30 – 9:00 a.m.
La Quinta Inn
1425 E. 27th St.
Tacoma 98421

Breakfast Buffet: $12.00 with RSVP. Non-reserved attendance: $15.00
RSVP: Rose Crist, 627-2175; DUE 12 noon, 02/09

Please RSVP by noon on Feb. 9, Monday!
Non-RSVPs welcome, but PLEASE call to help with plans for meals and seating arrangements. Those persons reserving and not attending or canceling before the RSVP deadline will be billed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

When Johnny Comes Marching Home...

...will he have a job?

Making it easier for Guard and Reserve who are returning from deployments and easier for vets to apply their military training to civilian occupations are the intents of efforts by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Derek Kilmer, those issues are coming up for a hearing before the Washington Senate Government Operations Committee Monday, January 26, 10:00 a.m. - 12 noon in the Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 2.

Last year, Sen. Kilmer succeeded in getting two budget provisos calling for studies of these questions:

Page 221 (6) in the budget has the one for licensing on holding in abeyance. The language is:
(6) The department of licensing and the department of health shall jointly review and report to the appropriate policy committees of the legislature by December 1, 2008, recommendations for implementing a process of holding in abeyance for up to six months following the conclusion of active duty service the expiration of, and currency requirements for, professional licenses and certificates for individuals who have been called to active duty military service.
Also, items 44 and 45 on page 164 of the budget:
(44) The department of licensing and the department of health shall jointly review and report to the appropriate policy committees of the legislature by December 1, 2008, recommendations for implementing a process of holding in abeyance for up to six months following the conclusion of active duty service the expiration of, and currency requirements for, professional licenses and certificates for individuals who have been called to active duty military service.
(45) The higher education coordinating board, the department of licensing, and the department of health shall jointly review and report to appropriate policy committees of the legislature by December 1, 2008, on barriers and opportunities for increasing the extent to which veterans separating from duty are able to apply skills sets and education required while in service to certification, licensure, and degree requirements.

These reports are not yet available and will be presented at that committee meeting. I know it somewhat disadvantages us to be asked to comment without having read the reports, but I ask your presence and willingness to speak about the issues you are familiar in getting trained for civilian occupations those with applicable military training. Please share with me your availability to participate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rising Above the Floor

Economists frequently cite Pierce County's military presence as providing an economic floor and damping radical swings like we see in other Puget Sound economies.

Readers with interest in military and community matters should recall information from public sources for a "Grow the Army" (Oct. 2007) and the future stationing of a Combat Service soldiers at the post. New to our attention is the inclusion of a 2,800 Soldier medium Combat Aviation Brigade with 110 helicopters. (An earlier Environmental Assessment called for an aviation regiment of 800 soldiers. (Feb. 2005))

There is an opportunity to raise the floor if not the roof with the notice of a scoping for adding 5,680 soldiers to Ft. Lewis and the Yakima Training Center (YTC). First noted in the Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 246, December 22, 2008, those interested may present comments at an open house where personnel from Ft. Lewis and the YTC will be present to provide information and answer questions.

January 20, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Lacey Community Center
6729 Pacific Ave. SE
Lacey, WA 98503

January 21, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Hal Holmes Community Center
209 North Ruby Street
Ellensburg, WA 98926

January 22, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Howard Johnson Plaza
9 North 9th Street
Yakima, WA 98901

Comments and requests for information may be sent to Mr. Bill Van Hoesen or fax to 253-966-1785.

A FONSI Lifestyle

Fort Lewis has issued a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) for the proposed Lifestyle Center on Ft. Lewis.

This issue has been presented in more depth on our associated blog.

The levels of significance that were either expressed or implied in the comments and Ft. Lewis's reason for deeming them not significant are:

  1. Traffic: The Lifestyle Center in and of itself will not produce significant traffic impacts. Ft. Lewis does recognize that projected installation population growth may produce significant impacts and has initiated an environmental impact statement to address this and other issues connected with this growth.
  2. Retail and tax revenues: Ft. Lewis installation population growth should offset any retail and tax losses encountered as a result of the Lifestyle Center increased retail business.
  3. Negative cumulative impacts as a result of the downturn in the economy are outside the scope of the analysis and were not considered.

If you have any further questions, please contact Mr. Bill Van Hoesen, 253-966-1780.