Saturday, August 21, 2010
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON : Pentagon officials today released the Defense Department’s final review of recommendations issued by an independent panel in the wake of the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting spree on Fort Hood, Texas.
Among the department’s top priorities, as outlined in the review, are boosting on-base emergency response capabilities, improving law enforcement and force protection information sharing with partner agencies, and integrating force protection policy, a Defense Department news release said.
In a memorandum signed Aug. 18, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he carefully considered the panel’s recommendations -- detailed in the report titled, “Protecting the Force: Lessons Learned from Fort Hood” -- and is directing the department to take “appropriate action” to address the initiatives detailed in the follow-on review.
“I expect department leaders to place great priority on implementing these recommendations,” Gates said. All actions are aimed at contributing to the safety and health of military forces, the release said.
Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, allegedly opened fire at a Fort Hood facility where soldiers were processing for overseas deployments. He has been charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.
“The tragic shooting of U.S. military personnel at Fort Hood … underscored the need for the [Defense Department] to thoroughly review its approach to force protection and to broaden its force protection policies, programs and procedures to go beyond their traditional focus on hostile external threats,” Gates said.
Earlier this year, an investigative panel detailed 79 recommendations in its report centered on improving force protection and tightening gaps in personnel policies, emergency response mass casualty preparedness and support to Defense Department health care providers. In April, Gates directed the Defense Department to immediately implement 26 of the 79 recommendations while a review of the remaining 53 recommendations continued.
The final review’s initiatives “will significantly improve the department’s ability to mitigate internal threats, ensure force protection, enable emergency response and provide care for victims and families,” Gates said.
The review puts forth “concrete actions” for the majority of the recommendations, Gates said. In some cases, however, further study will be required before the department can take additional steps.
In particular, he said, the department will strengthen its policies, programs and procedures in the following areas:
-- Educating commanders about the symptoms of potential workplace violence and the tools available to them to address it;
-- Ensuring commanders and supervisors have access to appropriate information in personnel records throughout a servicemember’s career;
-- Improving law enforcement and force protection information sharing with partner agencies and among installations to ensure all relevant personnel are aware of and able to analyze and respond to potential threats;
-- Expanding installations’ emergency response capabilities, including enabling enhanced 911 to notify dispatchers of a caller’s location, mass notification and warning systems to guide installation personnel and emergency responders to an emergency, and a common operating picture to ensure emergency responders have access to real-time information in a crisis;
-- Integrating force protection policy through the creation of a consultative and policy-making body that will bring together the various entities across the department with force protection responsibilities; and
-- Ensuring the department provides top-quality health care to servicemembers and health care providers by hiring additional health care providers, particularly in the mental health field, and ensuring health care providers receive appropriate post-deployment respite and time at home between deployments.
Gates also has directed the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and America’s security affairs to continue to lead the follow-on review and to provide regular progress reports to him.
The secretary also emphasized the importance of leadership and the need for intervention when necessary to ensure good order and discipline.
“Force protection, although critical, is not a substitute for leadership,” he said. “Leaders at every level in our military play a critical role.”
Gates pledged to provide leaders with the necessary tools to deal with potential issues among their ranks.
“As the department takes steps to strengthen its approach to force protection,” he said, “I ask leaders and commanders across the force to remain mindful of the unique requirements of the profession of arms –- that military service is grounded in an oath to support and defend our Constitution, but also may necessitate the sacrifice of some of the very rights we defend.”
Robert M. Gates
By Joe N. Wiggins
American Forces Press Service
BROOKS CITY-BASE, Texas : When most airmen come into the Air Force, they know their service could include being called upon to do something that could save a life. However, one airman answered the call in a way very few could.
"While I don't know his name, as soon as I heard who it was, and that he has a rare condition called aplastic anemia, I thought, 'Yeah, I'll gladly do what I can to help out the little guy,'" Newberry said.
Aplastic anemia causes bone marrow to produce an insufficient amount of red and white blood cells or blood platelets. A bone marrow transplant can be the only effective treatment in severe cases.
When he became aware of what his donation could mean, Newberry said, he was eager to volunteer.
"I was surprised when I found out I was a match, but helping someone else's child was clearly something I wanted to do," he said. "My wife and mom were a little skeptical about the operation, but I think my enthusiasm won them over, and they were both supportive of me being a donor."
Newberry's organization and supervisor also were behind his decision.
"I thought his volunteering was very admirable, and a great thing to be willing to do," said Air Force Capt. Troy Lane, commander of the personnel flight. "I was impressed with his excitement to do it."
Newberry said the procedure wasn't very painful or lengthy.
"The surgeons removed the marrow from my lower back after the first day of tests and screening at the hospital," he said. "I was up and walking around the next day and only had to wear some small bandages for about a week."
In addition to his family, Newberry said, the military community also was supportive. "In addition to being given time off from my duty location, [Defense Department officials] sponsored my flight and expenses," he said. "I went through a process of questions and phone interviews before leaving for the trip, but once everything was approved there was no cost involved for me or my family."
Newberry is one of about 500 servicemembers who are matched to a patient and donate bone marrow each year. About 600,000 servicemembers have registered as marrow donors as part of the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program.
Volunteers like Newberry are critical for many patients awaiting a match. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, about 70 percent of those needing a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. Usually used to fight leukemia and lymphoma, a bone marrow donation often is a victim's last chance at beating a potentially fatal disease.
More than 10,000 patients each year are diagnosed with these life-threatening diseases. A patient's doctor can contact the program's database of 8 million potential donors in the United States and another 5 million potential donors in international registries.
The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Center is located in Rockville, Md., and is charged with supporting Defense Department bone marrow volunteers. It is one of 79 donor centers that work with the National Marrow Donor Program.
Established by Congress in 1990, the Defense Department program is open to any military member or civilian and their family members, including Coast Guard and reserve-component members, in good health between the ages of 18 and 60. (Issued on:Aug. 20, 2010)
C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program