Friday, July 31, 2009

Boeing Rolls Out the Navy P8A Poseidon

An estimated 500 guests, including Governor Christine Gregiore and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, applauded the roll out of the Navy’s next generation electronics surveillance/submarine hunter at the Boeing Renton plant on July 30, 2009. The P8A Poseidon provides a leap forward in capabilities over the P3C Orion it replaces.

Photo: Boeing Company

Nearly 100 officers and sailors from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, an eventual home for the P8A, flocked to the new aircraft following the official ceremony to check it out and “kick the tires.”

The Navy plans to buy 117 of the aircraft, while India will purchase 8 more and Australia has expressed an interest in 4 aircraft. More purchases by foreign navies could on the horizon upon flight test and certification.

The roll out of the P8A trailed the roll out of the Navy’s version of the F-35 joint strike fighter (JSF) at the Lockheed-Martin plant in Houston, Texas earlier this week.

Guest Blogger: Roger Olsen, Navy League of the U.S. Tacoma Council

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Noteworthies With a Local Link

Today, Col. Thomas H. Brittain assumed command of the garrison at Ft. Lewis. Col. Brittain was previously a student at the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, PA.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pierce College Lucky 13

The Military Times EDGE magazine today reports that Pierce College ranks as No. 13 among colleges and universities chosen by service members using military tuition assistance.

Pierce College was identified as providing service members 14,659 courses reimbursed by military tuition assistance. Active-duty service members may receive $250 per credit hour up to $4,500 per year using federal tuition assistance.

Three online-only universities entered the top ten. Among those universities and colleges offering traditional classroom learning, Pierce College ranked #10 in the nation. On average, reports Military Times EDGE, distance learning is over 50% more than classroom based courses: $605.06 vs. $401.89.

This information was gleaned from an earlier this year presentation by Carolyn Baker, the DoD's chief of continuing education.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

To Be Counted or Not

Legislation aimed at spurring states to do a better job of tracking absentee ballots was headed for House consideration last Tuesday.

The bill (H.R. 2510) would create a grant program to reimburse states for costs associated with establishing an absentee ballot tracking program for federal elections. The bill amends the Help America Vote Act by requiring the Election Assistance Commission to reimburse any state that chooses to implement an absentee ballot tracking program. The state would receive $3,000 for each jurisdiction in the state that conducts the program.

Under the absentee ballot tracking program, absentee voters would be able to confirm online whether the election office received their absentee ballot, whether the ballot was counted and if not counted, the reason why. If an election office does not have a website, they can use a toll-free number to allow absentee voters to obtain the information regarding their ballot. The bill authorizes appropriations as necessary in Fiscal Year 2010 and each succeeding fiscal year.

According to a study conducted by the Overseas Vote Foundation, more than half of surveyed military and overseas voters who tried to vote absentee by mail in the 2008 election were unable to do so because their requested ballots either were received too late to be counted or were not received at all. Washington already employs ballot tracking technology. Currently, if any absentee voter would like to find out the status of their ballot, all they have to do is call their respective County Auditor’s Office. The County Auditor’s Office will be able to tell the voter if their ballot was counted or not and why.

In order to qualify for the grant funding, states must have tracking systems that allow voters to confirm whether their absentee ballots for federal elections have been received and counted. Washington State does employ this technology. Washington’s Secretary of State is currently in a lawsuit over the use of this technology. Here is a FAQ on barcodes and ballot secrecy in Washington.

Twenty-one of the thirty-nine counties in Washington use voting systems manufactured by Hart InterCivic. The Hart system uses serial numbers on ballots as a way of preventing the same ballot from being counted twice. In the Hart system, the ballot is not linked to the voter in any way, but if the system receives a ballot with the same serial number twice, it knows not to count it the second time. In other words, it recognizes that the same ballot has been input more than once. The number is not linked to the voter and cannot be used to identify who cast the ballot. It can also be used to verify that the ballot was issued through the county’s system, and thus screens out counterfeit or “look alike” ballots. The bottom line is that since those numbers are not linked to voters, they cannot be used to identify voters.

Some Washington counties use a ballot tracking system that originated with the VoteHere company, and for which the current vendor is VoteTrust. This system uses a serial number (either the Hart number, if the county also uses Hart, or a random unique number, if the county does not use Hart) to track the ballot through the process of receiving, verifying, canvassing, and counting ballots.

As currently used, this system does not save any connection between the ballot and the voter. It does not identify the voter and the ballot, but is simply used for reconciliation purposes. The counties using the system use it to identify which ballots are mailed out, and which of those ballots are returned and counted. This assures that only valid ballots are mailed out and that only ballots produced by the county are received back and tabulated (so that nobody can introduce a counterfeit ballot into the system at tabulation). They are also used, at least in “Hart” counties, to assure that no ballot is counted twice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

AMC Rodeo 2009 Civic Leaders Tour

The bi-annual Air Mobility Command (AMC) Rodeo, currently underway at McChord AFB, took care to share with local community leadership what it's all about.

As in other rodeos, which are a competitive demonstration of job skills, the airmen at McChord, composed of competitive teams from the U.S.A.F. and some 26 allied nations, do a varied of timed and measured tasks from aerial port to airdrop to maintenance. Attached to this link, is a series of photos that show the various skills competitions and personages of the 2,500 competing airmen.

Earlier this week, local chambers of commerce hosted various constituency groups at community welcoming receptions. You can see the AMC Rodeo 2009 International Icebreaker with this link.

Monday, July 20, 2009

40 and Counting

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing and excursion on the Moon.

Our nation's military has untold honors in defense of this nation in both hot and cold wars. It has myriad humanitarian relief efforts to citizens of former enemy countries and those suffering from natural disasters and turmoil. And, it has profound scientific achievements on earth. But it's most spectacular scientific achievement is the whole space program, culminating - so far - with the landings on the moon.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of that first moon landing. And, our homage to the military men who actually went there as well as the many thousands of men and women who did all those creative endeavors that supported and enabled their individual achievements.

Those men, members of our military services, are:

Commander Neil Armstrong, US. Navy, first person to set foot on the moon.
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, USMA (West Point) grad/U.S. Air Force.
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. Aldrin,, Jr., USMA grad/U. S. Air Force, first person to land on the moon and second person to set foot on the moon

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wind Beneath Wings or Filling Sails

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber's Military Affairs Committee welcomes the 26 countries competing or observing the 2009 Air Mobility Command (AMC) Rodeo.

The International Icebreaker was hosted by community firms in the Working Waterfront Maritime Museum for the beginning of the AMC Rodeo hosted at McChord AFB.

See our slide show and video. You are welcome to enjoy this premier and fun event at the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Local Tricare Provider 3peats

Dave McIntyre, CEO, announced today that TriWest Healthcare Alliance has been chosen by the Department of Defense to continue to serve the healthcare needs of 2.7 million active duty personnel, their families and retirees across the 21-state TRICARE West Region.

Regina McDaniel, TriWest with Military Citizen of the Year MSgt. Marvin Shields, Jr., WADS, McChord AFB.

McIntyre said: “This third contract award is a strong vote of confidence in our company and a testament to the work we have done throughout the 13 years we have been in business. The award also reflects the ‘Whatever It Takes’ attitude and commitment of our leadership and employee base, who know that it is not only our duty, but our privilege to serve those who sacrifice so much in service to us all.”

PNWers are well aware of the proactive role the regional TriWest office has assumed – and performed admirably – in the community. Although numerous in their many actions, TriWest's exemplary community involvement in the USO and the sponsorship of the Chamber’s Military Citizen of the Year and the Citizen-Soldier of the Year award are demonstrative of their local commitment to service.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Noteworthies With a Local Link

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Reserve Col. Daniel L. York for appointment to the grade of brigadier general and assignment to commander, 104th Division (institutional training), Vancouver, Wash.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Defense Dollars for FY 2010

Congressman Adam Smith reported today he voted in support of H.R. 2647, the fiscal year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA authorizes appropriations for fiscal year 2010 military activities including the Department of Defense, the national security programs of the Department of Energy, military construction projects and other defense and military personnel activities related to U.S. national security efforts.

Congressman Smith cited these authorizations he requested for funding:

· $9,000,000 – Military Construction to construct a joint base access road between Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.
· $2,500,000 – Tacoma Trauma Trust for trauma training of military medical personnel at local civilian hospitals
· $2,500,000 – Western Regional Counterdrug Training Center to re-establish a fifth counter-drug training center, which would be located at Camp Murray, Washington
· $2,000,000 – Quest Integrated to develop new inspection methods and procedures using magneto-optic imaging for F-15s that will eliminate the need to disassemble part of the aircraft.
· $1,800,000 – Sagem Morpho to develop a portable device that will be used by operators in the field to search, capture, and identity latent fingerprints.
· $1,200,000 – Evergreen Recycling to conduct a comprehensive analysis to reduce the amount of landfill waste at Ft. Lewis.

The bill must now be approved by the Senate and signed by the President before it becomes law.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Look Behind to Look Ahead for Fiscal Policies

So, you think you know how the new federal administration will treat the military budget given this year?

Wrong, according to Lt. Gen. (ret.) Theodore Stroup at today's joint meeting of the Ft. Lewis and Puget Sound* AUSA Chapters. Stroup, currently serves as the Association of the U.S. Army's (AUSA) Vice President of Education and Executive Director for their Institute of Land Warfare.

Stroup says every administration, regardless of party affiliation, inherits the last budget of the "outgone" administration. It's simply a matter of timing required for budget submittal to Congress and the beginning of the federal fiscal year. Stroup says we will have to see the budget for 2011 before we will know the policy implications for the new administration.

As far as looking ahead to future actions goes, Stroup said the Pres. Obama administration has been clear in stating its intent, looking back from recent statements to the campaign policies and speeches.

* Newly renamed in honor: PFC William Kenzo Nakamura Chapter

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

AFA Atwitter

The AFA has announced it's new tool that places it in the vanguard of grassroots communications with the recent introduction of its twitter page.

Without signing up for Twitter, you can see AFA's tweets by clicking the light blue Twitter icon soon to be at the top of their web page.

Although twittering was originally dismissed as a fanciful preoccupation by an unoccupied constituency, it has proven it has serious and dramatic capabilities. Just consider the use of this and other electronic communications in the successful election of Pres. Obama and the riveting relevancy of twittering in the current Iran election and governance demonstrations.

The AFA proposes to post twitters twice a day initially.