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Proposed Defense Budget Saves Clearwater-based National Guard WMD Unit

Posted Apr 18, 2013 by Howard Altman

Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 01:09 PM

In January 2012, I profiled the 48th Civil Support Team, a 22-member unit of the Florida National Guard that waits in their hangar at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport for disasters human-made and natural.

The unit had been on the budget chopping block, but their funding was restored in the FY 2014 defense spending bill beginning to wend its way through Washington.

Earlier this week, SECDEF Chuck Hagel testified that the 48th, and a similar unit in New York, the 24th CST, had their funding restored. Driving home the importance of these units is the fact that the 24th CST helped out after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Here’s how the news was delivered to the House Defense Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young, according to a media release from the Florida National Guard:

Young noted that the 24th CST had responded to the Boston Marathon bombing incident that day.

“These are important teams, and Congress is very, very supportive of those teams,” the congressman said during the hearing.

Young’s congressional district in Florida includes Clearwater, Fla., where the 48th CST is based.

“We have funded both the New York and the Florida teams,” Hagel told the committee, as part of testimony which focused on the President’s fiscal 2014 budget request for the Department of Defense.

During the hearing Rep. Nita Lowey of New York also received assurance from the Secretary of Defense that the units would not be eliminated. In a statement on her website, the congresswoman recognized both Rep. Young and subcommittee member Rep. Bill Owens of New York for their roles in preventing the “National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams in Florida and New York from being eliminated.”

The 48th CST and its highly-trained members can provide assistance to state and local authorities during domestic incidents by: identifying chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive agents or substances; assessing potential consequences; and assisting with determining appropriate response measures.  The unit can deploy with high-tech equipment and expertise to advise civilian agencies during emergency operations and facilitate requests for assistance of additional state and federal assets to help save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate property damage.

“We are gratified by Secretary Hagel’s determination to reverse last month’s decision to disestablish the 48th Civil Support Team,” said the Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr. “In view of the clear threats to our nation – and recognizing Florida’s high concentrations of valuable infrastructure, population densities, tourist destinations and size – it was imperative that Florida retain both existing CSTs.”




Pentagon announces deaths of 3 soldiers this week

Posted Mar 29, 2013 by Howard Altman

Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 04:21 PM

The Pentagon announced the deaths of three soldiers last week.

Sgt. Michael C. Cable, 26, of Philpot, Ky., died March 27, from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by enemy forces in Shinwar District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Cable was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.


Sgt. Tristan M. Wade, 23, of Indianapolis, Ind., died March 22 in Qarah Bagh District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 573rd Clearance Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion, White Sands Missile Range, N.M. 

Sgt. 1st Class James F. Grissom, 31, of Hayward, Calif., died March 21 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds suffered from small arms fire March 18 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

There have now been 2,177 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation’s longest war.




SOCOM to induct two Medal of Honor recipients into SOCOM Hall of Honor

Posted Mar 26, 2013 by Howard Altman

Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 04:22 PM

I’ve been terribly remiss in posting to this blog, but here’s a good place to restart.

U.S. Special Operations Command will host a ceremony inducting Medal of Honor recipients Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller and Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry into the Socom Hall of Honor at 3 p.m. tomorrow, at the Special Operations Forces Memorial located on Tampa Point Blvd, according to the command.

Petry and Miller’s parents will join USSOCOM Commander Adm. Bill McRaven and Mr. Geoff Barker of the Special Operations Forces Memorial Foundation in unveiling plaques on the Special Operations Forces Memorial honoring the two Medal of Honor recipients.

Miller was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions Jan. 25, 2008, while serving with the 3rd Special Forces Group in Afghanistan.  Petry was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 26, 2008, while serving in Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regiment.




Odessa Firm Wins $800,000 DOD Energy Efficiency Grant

Posted Jan 23, 2013 by Howard Altman

Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 01:36 PM

An Odessa company is one of five nationwide receiving a military grant to find new ways of conserving energy on the battlefield.

Dais Analytic Corp., which provides “industry-changing, nanotechnology-based applications for heating and cooling, water treatment, and energy storage,” according to the company Web site, will receive an $800,000 grant to “develop an energy-efficient, compact dehumidification system” for the military, according to a media release.
The grant is part of an $8.5 million program by the Department of Defense, Navy and Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to “help foster advances in energy performance for military equipment,” according to the Department of Defense.

Thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan “have been killed or injured moving fuel in dangerous supply convoys around the battlefield,” according to the Department of Defense.

To improve efficiency, the department established the Operational Energy Capabilities Improvement Fund last January, according to the release. The fund is particularly interested in accessing advances created by small businesses, an important source of energy innovation for the Department.

A 2010 Marine Corps assessment estimated that nearly 25 percent of fuel used in Afghanistan goes to heating and cooling structures. The Navy and ARPA-E aim to reduce this demand by investing in next-generation deployable HVAC technologies.

The objective is to advance heating and cooling technologies to achieve 20 percent to 50 percent less fuel usage than currently deployed systems. Advances made under the program leverage the Department of Energy’s expertise and on-going work on commercial HVAC systems and have the potential to accelerate the availability of those technologies to homeowners and businesses to reduce their energy bills.

The Dais Analytic Corp. system, according to the Department of Defense, utilizes a polymer membrane that allows moisture - but not air - to pass through it. This membrane allows for water vapor to be efficiently removed from humid air, and enables high-volume, low-cost mass production of the dehumidification system. The resulting dehumidified air can be cooled using far less fuel with evaporative cooling. It is estimated that this could decrease the amount of fuel needed at forward operating bases by 20 percent to 50 percent in hot, humid environments.




SOCCENT getting new CG

Posted Jan 23, 2013 by Howard Altman

Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 01:07 PM

U.S. Special Operations Command Central Command, known as SOCCENT, is getting a new commander.

Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, deputy director for special operations, J-37, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C., has been named to replace Maj. Gen. Ken Tovo, who has been commander since Sept., 2011.
The command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, oversees special operations missions in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

You can read more about Tovo here.

And this is more about Nagata, from his official bio:

He and his wife Barbara have five children.

Commissioned as an Infantry Officer in 1982, he served with the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry in South Korea until 1983. In 1984, he joined Army Special Forces, and served in 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) until 1987.

After attending the Infantry Officers Advance Course, he again served with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa, Japan. In 1990, he joined a Special Mission Unit where he served as a Troop Commander until 1994.

After attending the U.S. Marine Corps Command and General Staff College, he returned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Ft. Lewis where he served as the 3rd Battalion Executive Officer and the Group Operations Officer until 1997. He then served in a Special Mission Unit as an Operations Officer until assuming command of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Ft. Bragg in 1999, where he was responsible for the Special Forces Qualification Course. From 2000 to 2002, he served as a Squadron Commander in a Special Mission Unit.

After graduating from the National War College, he served in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence until 2005. He then assumed command of a Special Mission Unit, and served there until 2008.

He then served within the Intelligence Community as a Deputy Director for CounterTerrorism until 2009. From 2009 to 2011, he deployed to Islamabad, Pakistan where he served as the Deputy Chief, Office of the Defense Representative to Pakistan (ODRP).

MG Nagata has deployed extensively throughout his career, participating in contingency and combat operations in such varied locales as Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq, and elsewhere.