New USO Program Uses Xbox Live Innovations to Connect Troops With Families And Friends Back Home

NEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2003 — Today at a ceremony in downtown Manhattan, scores of military families will converge at the local U.S. Organizations (USO) Center to be among the first to connect with loved ones serving overseas by playing video games and talking with each other while they play. Changing the way troops reunite with their loved ones back home, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) teamed up with the USO and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox®
video game system to launch an innovative and groundbreaking program, Operation: Live Connections.

“Operation: Live Connections is a welcome gift to anyone serving overseas this holiday,” said 1st Lt. Edward Reynado, U.S. Air Force. “Xbox Live (TM) allows me to play my favorite games with friends and family as though I am sitting on the couch right next to them back home in Garden Grove, Calif. We share stories, laugh and poke fun at each other in real time as we play.”

Through this pioneering venture, USO services centers around the world are being equipped with Xbox consoles and the Xbox Live online game service, enabling tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel to play video games with friends and family across a high-speed connection. Thanks to the Xbox Live headset, service personnel can catch up with family and friends while playing games.

“The USO’s mission has not changed for more than 62 years, but the way we deliver our services has changed tremendously,” said Ned Powell, president and CEO of USO. “Operation: Live Connections will enable the USO to continue its commitment to supporting and entertaining military families in the United States and abroad through engaging, interactive online gaming via Xbox Live .”

Earlier this year, USAFE conducted research among airmen to determine what elements would improve their way of life and help boost morale. Research concluded that online gaming centers were at the top of their wish list. As a result, USAFE services built 17 Xbox game lounges on 14 bases in seven European countries.

“USAFE joined forces with Operation: Live Connections to further address the quality-of-life initiative, providing a positive avenue for recreation and leisure-time activities through online gaming,” said Arthur Myers, director of U.S Air Force Services. “With Operation: Live Connections, we are expanding our ability to connect airmen with their loved ones while bringing the familiarities of home to those stationed abroad.”

Beginning in December, USO services centers throughout the country and overseas will be equipped with Xbox consoles, Xbox Live accounts, and popular game titles such as “NFL Fever 2004,” “Project Gotham Racing® 2” and “Crimson Skies®
.” USO centers offering Xbox and Xbox Live include these:

  • The Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX entertains 20,000 military members with programs such as video messaging, Internet use and movies.

  • USO of Metropolitan New York Inc., Port Authority Bus Terminal provides services to 300,000 service members annually.

  • Gen. Colin L. Powell USO Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., provides programs and services to 30,000 soldiers and families annually. This center also caters to military personnel stationed at Fort Hamilton.

  • USO International Gateway Lounge at BWI Airport, Baltimore, is a safe haven for military personnel and their families in transit, serving more than 60,000 military members and their families a year.

  • USO of Hampton Roads Inc., Va., serves more than 200,000 military members and their families each year. It was instrumental in sending items to U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  • USO of Fort Hood, Texas, is home to one of the largest U.S. Army bases, providing services for approximately 30,000 soldiers and their families continuously.

  • Camp Casey, Korea, helps boost the morale of troops stationed in isolated areas, traveling hundreds of miles to provide entertainment. The center sees 240,000 service members annually.

“Microsoft is extremely honored to have the opportunity to join forces with the USO and USAFE to fulfill the program’s mission to give military personnel new ways to connect with family during the holidays,” said Julia Miller, director of marketing for Xbox Live at Microsoft. “This is truly a landmark effort to help boost morale and show the troops and their families our support and appreciation for their dedicated service and sacrifice in being apart, especially during the holidays.”

About USAFE

U.S. Air Forces in Europe, headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is a major command of the U.S. Air Force. It is also the air component of the U.S. European Command; a Department of Defense unified command; and the U.S. component of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. USAFE airmen are engaged in a wide range of active U.S. military efforts in Europe and Africa, including realistic U.S. and NATO exercises and real-world contingencies, such as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The command also plays a major role in furthering democracy in the former Eastern Bloc, as USAFE people take part in Partnership for Peace exercises and Military-to-Military contact programs.

About USO

For more than 62 years, the USO ( http://www.uso.org/ ) has delivered morale and recreation services to U.S. service members and their families around the world. The USO is a congressionally chartered, private nonprofit organization. The USO is not a government agency, and is supported by donations from the public and from corporations. At more than 120 locations around the world, members of the U.S. military and their families know they can depend on the USO for a touch of home and a safe haven.

About Xbox

Xbox ( http://www.xbox.com/ ) is the video game system from Microsoft that brings people together for the most exhilarating game and entertainment experiences. Xbox delivers an expansive collection of breakthrough games, powerful hardware and the unified Xbox Live online service. The new tag line, “It’s good to play together,” captures the spirit of Xbox as the social hub of the new digital entertainment lifestyle. Xbox is now available in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

About Xbox
Live

Xbox Live , which launched in the United States Nov. 15, 2002, allows gamers to play multiplayer Xbox games with other gamers worldwide via a broadband connection. With a built-in hard drive and Ethernet port, the Xbox console is the only video game system built from the ground up for online gaming. Xbox Live enables gamers to easily find their friends; talk to other players during gameplay through the Xbox Communicator headset; download current statistics and new levels and characters to their Xbox hard drive; and play online — all exclusive features to Xbox Live .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox Live, Project Gotham Racing and Crimson Skies are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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