War on Terrorism

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Christopher T. Blaney, 19, of Winter Park, Fla., died in Taji, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident on Sept. 29. Blaney was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release media can contact Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. James Chamroeun, 20, of Union City, Ga., died Sept. 28 of wounds received while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

For further information related to this release media can contact the Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8870.

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- September 29, 2006

Peril of E. coli [Escherichia coli]

“Part of the alarm over cases of E. coli poisoning, such as the current spinach-linked outbreak blamed on the O157:H7 strain, has been the difficulty in treating the most severe cases -- when toxins produced by the bacterium cause kidney failure. But researchers have been working for two decades to learn more about the illness and now think they will eventually have ways to limit the damage. …[B]ecause severe E. coli poisoning affects so few people, some health experts wonder whether a pharmaceutical company would be interested in commercial development of a drug or vaccine, [Alison] O'Brien [chair of microbiology and immunology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences] says. However, [Tom] Obrig [a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and an expert on E. coli poisoning] notes E. coli O157:H7 is now listed on the nation's select agent list of possible substances that could be used in bioterrorism attacks. That status, he says, could lead to more funding for research.” (The News & Observer; 28Sep06; Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times)


Crowded ERs [Emergency Rooms] Raise Concerns On Readiness

“Emergency rooms at many hospitals are routinely stretched to the breaking point, raising concerns that they would not be able to handle victims during a terrorist attack or natural disaster, according to congressional testimony yesterday and a new federal study. Between 40 percent and 50 percent of emergency departments experienced crowding during 2003 and 2004, the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. The findings are stirring interest in Congress, and the Senate Health subcommittee on bioterrorism and public health preparedness convened a panel of experts yesterday to discuss the problems.” (Washington Post, 28Sep06, Christopher Lee)

FBI Denies Overestimating Anthrax [Bacillus anthracis] Power

FBI denied Thursday that it ever overestimated the potency of the anthrax spores used in mailings that killed five people in 2001. The bureau also rejected a request for a classified briefing on the case from Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. Citing media reports, Holt said Wednesday that the FBI should have determined in days, not years, that the anthrax was less sophisticated than initially believed. Bureau officials say the early reports of weaponized anthrax were misconceptions, and the more recent reports misunderstood how early the FBI was able to accurately analyze the spores.” (ABC News, 28Sep06, Michael J. Sniffen)

Senator’s office hit by anthrax hoax

“An anthrax hoax at Sen. John Cornyn's office left aides stuck in their offices for about 45 minutes at lunchtime Thursday, after an intern opened an envelope containing a small amount of powder. Tests quickly determined that it wasn't dangerous. ‘There was a small amount of powder. It was nothing hazardous. Hazmat has given the all clear,’ said Capitol
police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. ‘There was also a note indicating that there was anthrax.’” (San Jose Mercury News; 28Sep06; Todd J. Gillman, The Dallas Morning News)

New anthrax vaccine shows promise

“Five years after anthrax attacks left five dead and terrified America, scientists are reporting progress on developing a new vaccine they hope will work faster and with fewer side effects than the current one. The experimental vaccine cleared two big hurdles in its first round of human tests, involving two doses given in a single month: No safety problems emerged, and it produced responses that suggest people were developing immunity to anthrax, its British manufacturer reported Wednesday. The federally funded study involved 111 healthy adults and tested a vaccine developed by Avecia, a suburban London company, and the Defense Science and Technology Lab, part of the British Ministry of Defense.” (Monterey Herald; 27Sep06; Marilynn Marchione, AP)

Hoof-and-mouth peril seen

“When he visited a Nebraska feedlot of 10,000 cattle last week, David Franz saw it as a perfect bull’s-eye for a potential
terrorist attack. ‘There were people driving in and out,’ said Franz, director of the National Agriculture Biosecurity Center at Kansas State University. ‘Nobody was checking. There was really no control.’ With thousands of farms in Kansas and Missouri alone, experts say the vulnerabilities are endless. One potential threat many are focusing on now is hoof-and-mouth disease in cattle, for example, and some possible defenses include an animal identification system to track an outbreak. But one major need is emerging: To bring together planning that includes all the different strands of the vast agricultural industry.” (The Kansas City Star, 29Sep06, Adjoa Adofo)

Umatilla depot starts work on [destroying] nerve gas artillery shells

“The Umatilla Chemical Depot has turned its attention to destroying artillery shells containing GB nerve gas. The facility began processing the first of the artillery shells shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday, it said.”
(OregonLive.com, 28Sep06, AP)

World Marks 60th Anniversary of Chemotherapy: Its Origins Can Be Traced to a Horrific World War II Chemical Weapons Accident

“This week marks the 60th anniversary of the first described use of chemotherapy to treat cancer. The use of chemical poisons — commonly in early 20th-century warfare — had been secretly tested to treat cancer since the 1940s. It wasn't until after a spectacular event in Bari, Italy, during
World War II that this research finally came to light. In the crowded harbor at Bari, Italy, the Liberty ship John Harvey was docked, harboring 2,000 mustard-gas bombs. An early-morning air raid by Axis powers on Dec. 2, 1943, sunk many of the ships in the harbor, including the John Harvey, depositing its dangerous chemical cargo into the sea. It wasn't until [the]…survivors broke out in skin irritations and ulcers that an expert in chemical warfare, Lt. Col. Stewart Alexander, was called to investigate. Within several days, Alexander noticed that the patients' white blood cell levels were decreasing rapidly and that they were becoming anemic. He began to wonder, might nitrogen mustard's effects have some medical use? Alexander's research on the effects of mustard gas gained much attention, opening the door for a new technique to treat cancer: chemotherapy.” (ABC News, 27Sep06, Laura Owings)

Senators vow tougher chemical security

“Two Senate Democrats vowed Wednesday to keep the need for stronger chemical security regulations in the public spotlight, but conceded they will not be able to change compromise legislation that conferees added Monday to the fiscal 2007
Homeland Security appropriations bill. The spending bill includes a provision that gives the Homeland Security Department authority, for the first time, to regulate chemical facilities that ‘present high levels of security risk.’ Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., who co-wrote a chemical security bill earlier this year, said during a news conference that they will fight during the next session of Congress to pass a stronger regulatory measure.” (GovExec.com; 28Sep06; Chris Strohm, Congress Daily)

ACC [American Chemistry Council] backs Congress move on chem[ical] security

“The American Chemistry Council Tuesday praised a congressional agreement on a new chemical security bill. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate approved chemical facility security language during a reconciliation conference to resolve the differences between their versions of the Department of
Homeland Security appropriations bill, HR. 5441.” (United Press International, 26Sep06) http://www.upi.com

Scientists work on treatments for mass radiation exposure

“Scientists are on the front lines of preparation for a ‘dirty bomb’ attack or other radiological incident. The federal government has awarded $1 million to a team from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory studying potential treatments for exposure to radioactive substances, such as would come from a radiation-contaminated ‘dirty’ bomb. ‘I think we have the opportunity to develop something that works better than what's been available for the last 20 to 30 years,’ said Berkeley Lab chemist Kenneth Raymond, the research leader. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases granted the money to Raymond in the hope of accelerating his research on molecules that can flush metals such as plutonium and uranium out of the body. The treatments the federal government is currently stockpiling are not very thorough or efficient and must be injected. ‘If there is an incident, such as a dirty bomb attack, the numbers of people potentially requiring emergency treatment is likely to be large,’ said biologist Bert Maidment of infectious diseases institute. ‘And an injectable (treatment) is probably not mass-casualty friendly.’” (The Oakland Tribune; 28Sep06; Betsy Mason, Medianews)

Container Ships Must Be Protected from
Terrorist Exploitation

“A State Department
terrorism expert says the United States must work with its international partners to reduce the risk that terrorists will use container ships to carry weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Thomas Lehrman, director of the State Department’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism, said terrorists constantly are adapting to existing defenses.~ Previously, an airplane might have been a weapon of choice against civilians, he said, but the next time the terrorists ‘may seek to slip a weapon of mass destruction into a container ship headed for one of our ports and then onto the streets of our cities,’ he said at a Maritime Security Expo in New York on September 20. For this reason, Lehrman stressed, international coordination among specialists in weapons design, transportation and international finance is needed to prevent illegal shipments of WMD.” (U.S. Department of State, 28Sep06, Jacquelyn S. Porth)

terrorists call scientists to jihad

“Al-Qaida in Iraq's leader, in a chilling audiotape released Thursday, called for nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war and urged insurgents to kidnap Westerners so they could be traded for a blind Egyptian sheik who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison. The fugitive
terror chief said experts in the fields of ‘chemistry, physics, electronics, media and all other sciences — especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts’ should join his group's jihad, or holy war, against the West. ‘We are in dire need of you,’ said the speaker, who identified himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri. ‘The field of jihad can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases (in Iraq) are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty, as they call them.’”
(Yahoo! News; 29Sep06; David Rising, AP)


U.S. Northern Command to Celebrate Fourth Birthday

By Chief Petty Officer Susan Hammond, USN

AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Sept. 29, 2006 – U.S. Northern Command, which works to deal with threats to the U.S. homeland, celebrates its fourth birthday Oct. 2. NORTHCOM became operational Oct. 1, 2002, although the Defense Department began reviewing the need for a homeland defense combatant command within weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At that time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of the military services signed a common letter stating that it was time to define what was needed for homeland defense and homeland security. In January 2002, the secretary of defense announced that a new command would be established; nine months later, NORTHCOM began operations at Peterson Air Force Base.

"(The command) had about 150 personnel at the stand-up," said Dr. Thomas Fuller, historian for NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The two commands share headquarters facilities and many command components.

"Today we have over 1,200 personnel," Fuller said. "The two-element mission remains the same."

NORTHCOM's mission is to conduct operations to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States and, when necessary, to provide defense support of civil authorities.

"This is the first time the
U.S. military has had a homeland defense commander since President George Washington," said Michael B. Perini, director of public affairs for NORAD and NORTHCOM.

"In these four years, we've become a very recognizable group of dedicated men and women whose expertise is sought after," Perini said. "Our exercise and training program is a benchmark for others. We have a new state-of-the art command center that allows us to communicate with 150 other centers and is a template for other organizations to emulate.

"We are getting a reputation for being a leader in c2 -- communication and coordination -- which is critically important for an organization like ours."

Civil service employees and uniformed members representing all service branches work at NORTHCOM's headquarters. "Everybody has a role in the homeland defense mission by staying informed, being watchful and not being apathetic," Perini said. "Terrorists continue to plan, and so U.S. NORTHCOM needs to continue to work in safeguarding our nation around the clock. We are entrusted with protecting Americans where they live and work."

When the command began operations, it reached full operational capability inside a year and has continued to improve, Fuller said.

"Over the years we've built relationships with the multitude of interagency organizations that we have to interact with, most notably the Department of Homeland Security and all its sub-components like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration," Fuller said.

Both elements of the NORTHCOM mission have been tested in the four short years of its existence. NORTHCOM supports interagency efforts to deter and defeat possible threats during "national security special events," such as the G8 Summit, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, United Nations meetings, the funeral of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, presidential inaugurations and state of the union addresses, as well as the Super Bowl.

This summer, NORTHCOM immediately detected missiles launched by North Korea and determined they posed no threat to the United States or its territories. When arrests were made in the United Kingdom of suspects in an alleged plot to blow up airliners bound for the United States, the command coordinated with
Homeland Security, TSA and other federal agencies to ensure safe travel on aircraft.

In its role of defense support of civil authorities, NORTHCOM supported firefighting efforts in Washington this summer and in California in 2003, as well as FEMA's efforts to provide relief in Florida to those impacted by Hurricane Charley in 2004.

The command became the most visible to the public, however, in September 2005, when NORTHCOM supported the Homeland Security Department, FEMA and other federal agencies in disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. More than 21,400 active-duty servicemembers supported effort along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"I believe we have some of our nation's best experts working homeland defense 24-7-365," Perini said, "all services, active duty, Guard and reserve, civilian and contractors, who treat their responsibilities to keep the nation secure as a sacred honor."

Navy Chief Petty Officer Susan Hammond is assigned to U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs.)

USO Honors Servicemembers for Heroism

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – The United Service Organizations celebrated its 65th anniversary last night and honored troops from each branch of the military for heroism. "We are thankful that we are defended by men and women of character and courage, and we are grateful to all the USO volunteers to work to entertain them," President Bush said in a video message to the 65th annual USO gala here. "They lift their spirits and express the gratitude and support of the American people."

The five troops who received USO Servicemember of the Year awards at the gala represent the highest ideals of courage and patriotism, and have demonstrated extraordinary loyalty, bravery and heroism, Bush said.

Honored were:
Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, of the Kentucky National Guard. Hester served as a team leader with the 617th Military Police Company at Camp Liberty, Iraq. On March 20, 2005, Hester was in one of three escort vehicles providing security for a convoy when the convoy was ambushed by insurgents. Despite being outnumbered five to one and coming under heavy fire, Hester led her soldiers on a counterattack, maneuvering her team into a flanking position and clearing trenches occupied by the insurgents. Hester is the first woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star for combat action.

Marine Cpl. Robert L. Snyder, of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Snyder was a fire team leader in Operation Iraqi Freedom. During a sweep of a compound in western Anbar province, Snyder's platoon encountered heavy machine gun fire. Learning that his squad leader was wounded, Snyder took charge, pulled one Marine to safety and ordered the squad to remove the remaining injured Marines. Snyder then used his own suppressive fire to rescue a Marine trapped inside the compound. Snyder was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device for his actions.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathaniel R. Leoncio, of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, Calif. As a hospital corpsman deployed to Iraq, Leoncio was in a patrol stuck by an improvised explosive device. The IED caused his Humvee to overturn, traumatically amputating his lower right leg and causing other serious fractures and internal injuries. Despite his injuries, Leoncio began giving instructions on how to care for himself and the other injured Marines and personally rendered life-saving medical care to other Marines, including his platoon commander. Leoncio was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device for his valor.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Upton, of the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Upton was a member of a team that identified and disabled IEDs in Iraq, helping to secure areas for coalition and Iraqi army forces. During an operation to secure a main supply route, an IED detonated, rupturing Upton's eardrums and giving him a concussion. Despite his injuries, Upton rushed to the aid of his teammate, who had suffered a traumatic limb amputation. Upton improvised a tourniquet and began treating the other injuries. On the deployment, Upton led more than 50 missions to identify and disable IEDs, and led the destruction of more than 4,000 pieces of ordnance.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Mitchell A. Latta. Latta was an aviation survival technician involved in day and night rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina. While in a helicopter battling 40-knot winds, Latta dropped to a rooftop where 10 survivors were gathered inches above rising flood waters. One was an amputee suffering from diabetic shock. Latta rescued a stroke victim trapped in her attic and submerged himself in toxic flood waters to save a woman whose legs were tangled in a garden hose. Over the five days of rescue operations, Latta saved the lives of 181 people.
Leoncio, the Navy corpsman who is now a single-leg amputee, said he is honored to receive this award, but he knows many other corpsmen and Marines who have done just as much as he did, or more. He said he doesn't remember many of the events of the day he was injured and has to rely on other people to tell him what happened, but he's glad he was able to do his job and save the lives of the Marines that he said are like a family to him.

"We'd do anything for each other; I'd do anything for any of my Marines, and they'd do the same for me," he said. "I love my Marines; they saved my life."

Leoncio lost friends in the war on terror, but he said he tries to maintain a good attitude and go on with life -- including running in the upcoming Army 10-miler -- to honor their lives and to show gratitude for the chances he's been given.

"You live life for those that didn't make it, and that's it," he said. "You can't be sad because, one, I'm not that bad off; there are a lot of other people worse off than me. And, I've had some friends who didn't make it home. Don't get me wrong, I have my sad days and there are certain times when certain things will remind me of my friends and I get sad and I get depressed, but then you snap out of it. You just have to."

Hester echoed Leoncio's sentiments of humility about receiving the USO award. Her fellow soldiers are her brothers and sisters, she said, and they serve honorably every day. "I served close to a year over there with them, and they deserve to be standing up here with me," she said. "They fought just as hard as I did so, in my eyes, they should be here too."

Hester said that her actions that day in Iraq were largely instinctive, drawing on her training as a soldier. "You really don't have time to think about what you should and shouldn't do," she said. "To make no decision is the wrong decision, and that's the only wrong decision you can make. I just reacted; it was pretty instinctive."

Snyder, the Marine, said that he was just doing his job while clearing the compound in Iraq. He never expected to be nominated for an award, he said, and he is just glad he was able to be there for his fellow Marines when they needed him.Snyder comes from a family of Marines and said that when he joined, he knew he had found his niche in life -- a niche he is eager to get back to.

"They're out there doing their job in the field right now, training hard. I've just got to get out of here quick enough to go back with them," he said.

At the gala, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the stories of the five servicemember honorees and other troops like them bring tears to his eyes and make his job a privilege. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Pace's assumption of the chairman position, and he said he is proud of the past year and ready for the future.

"I have no idea what this next year has in store, but I do know this: there are 2.4 million young men and women -- active, Guard and Reserve -- just like the five young men and women who are standing before you tonight, who have pledged their lives if necessary to defend this country," he said. "And therefore, it is not a burden for me to go do my job. It's an honor; I'm fired up, and I'm proud to serve alongside them."

Pace also thanked the volunteers and celebrities who work with the USO, bringing a piece of home to U.S. troops serving overseas. "You have no idea how you touch our hearts and how just hearing your voice or seeing your smile or knowing that you too are in 120 degree heat -- what a huge difference that makes to everybody serving overseas," he said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq Severely Disrupted, General Says

By Steven Donald Smith

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – The killing of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June severely disrupted the
terrorist organization's capability, but foreign fighters entering Iraq continue to cause problems, a senior Multinational Force Iraq spokesman told reporters in Baghdad yesterday. "What the al Qaeda in Iraq could do in May and what they can do today has been seriously degraded," Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said. "They are not as effective or as organized today as they were back in May. But they're still an organization out there."

The general said about 50 to 70 foreign fighters enter Iraq every month. "We know that most of them come from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt and Syria," he said.

Iraqi and coalition forces are capturing or killing between 30 and 50 of these foreign fighters per month, he said. "Today in Iraq there are currently 381 foreign fighters in detention," he said.

Most of the suicide bombers in Iraq are foreigners, he said. "And therefore, the importance of securing the borders of this country becomes more paramount when you see that kind of infiltration occurring," he said.

Caldwell said about 27,000 trained and equipped Iraqi border forces are operating on the country's borders. "That is having a positive impact, but these are brand new forces that have just been trained," he said. "They're just starting to operate out there, and it's going to take some time before we see the real benefit of their presence."

The border forces are not just there to stop the infiltration of
terrorists, but also to prevent any kind of smuggling or illegal transportation of anything across the borders, he said. Coalition forces continue to support the Iraqi border forces by providing aerial and ground assets. "There is a very close relationship between the coalition forces and the border security forces that are out there operating predominantly along the Syrian border and the Iranian border, since those seem to be the two places where we see the foreign fighters come from," Caldwell said.

Coalition forces and the Iraqi government are striving to achieve three main goals. "Unity, security and prosperity are the ultimate three goals," he said. Achieving these goals, however, will depend largely on Iraqi people and their elected government, the general added.

"Our ultimate goal for the coalition forces here in Iraq is to see an Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, that has a country here that has a representative government that respects the rights of all Iraqi citizens, with security forces that are sufficient to maintain the security for the Iraqi citizens, and then to deny this country as safe haven for terrorists," Caldwell said.

The general acknowledged that major challenges lay ahead for the Iraqi government. "They have to reestablish basic services for the citizens of Iraq. And when we say basic services, we're talking about electricity, water and sewage," he said.

Caldwell also mentioned a letter from the president of the Islamic community of Kosovo that was recently published in an Iraqi paper. The letter explained the difficulties Kosovo had to overcome when transitioning from war-torn region to stability.

The letter talks about security, democracy, constitutional and privatization issues, Caldwell said. "The biggest challenge of all (in Kosovo), though, was reconciliation," he said.

"He tells you to keep hope, to keep your faith, to not lose the fact that it's going to be hard and challenging, but in the end you will prevail and you will find the peace that they have found in Kosovo and what they have discovered there for their people," Caldwell said describing the letter's content.

"It's a very moving letter in that it's a very recent example," the general said.

Navy in Expanded, Nontraditional Roles in Iraq

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – In addition to filling its traditional maritime security role, the
U.S. Navy has been performing different missions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, shouldering a larger part of the burden in the war on terror. Currently, more than 11,000 sailors are deployed at sea in the Middle East, and 12,000 sailors are deployed in U.S. Central Command countries, said Navy Lt. Trey Brown, a Navy spokesman. About 4,300 sailors are on the ground in Iraq, he said.

Sailors are performing many different missions in the
war on terror, Brown said. Some are traditional Navy duties, such as those being carried out by Seabees conducting construction missions and Navy corpsmen deployed with Marine Corps units, Brown said. But Navy units also are doing very nontraditional Navy missions: customs inspections, medical operations, civil affairs and detention operations, among them, he said.

In carrying out these diverse missions, the Navy has lost 56 sailors in Operation Iraqi Freedom and 29 in Operation Enduring Freedom.

"This war to defeat terrorism is not something that is put directly onto the
Army or Marine Corps; it's put onto the military as a whole," Brown said. "It's up to the military as a whole to win. With that in mind, our sailors have a lot of skills that are very useful and are very sought after by the commanders that are in Central Command and in Iraq."

This week, a group of 520 sailors is redeploying after running a detention facility in northern Iraq, Brown said. This unit is being replaced by another Navy unit, which will do everything from commanding the facility to overseeing its laundry operations, he said.

In Afghanistan, about 180 sailors are working on six provincial reconstruction teams working directly with the provinces, teaching the leaders how to work with the national government and local governments, he said.

Many sailors who deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan go as "individual augmentees," which means they are pulled from their home units to support the war on terror, Brown said. The 520 sailors coming back from Iraq this week, for example, are from more than 100 different
Navy commands.

Every sailor sent to the Middle East goes through specialized training to prepare for the mission, Brown said. The level of training depends on the mission they will perform, he said. Those who will be in a staff position do two weeks of weapons and cultural training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and the sailors who work with detainees go through three months of training, he said.

"We're using the
Army facilities and we're using a lot of Army personnel to help train them, but this is a Navy training set-up," he said. Only sailors go through the training.

The numbers of sailors on the ground has increased continually since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and has steadily grown to its current strength, Brown said. Future levels will depend on the requirements of the commanders on the ground, he said, but he added that he expects the Navy to continue to be a valuable contributor to the
war on terror.

"Certainly we anticipate that our sailors are going to continue to be in high demand; the skills that we have will continue to be wanted over there," he said.

During a news conference Sept. 25, Navy Rear Adm. Raymond Spicer, commander of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, outlined his unit's contributions to the war on terror. The Enterprise strike group has been deployed for almost five months, conducting maritime security operations to ensure security for commercial shipping and Iraq's two oil terminals in the northern Arabian Gulf, and setting the conditions for security and stability in the region, Spicer said.

Aircraft from the USS Enterprise have performed hundreds of missions over Iraq and Afghanistan, Spicer said. Over Iraq, the missions have centered on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and in Afghanistan, the aircraft have more actively supported troops on the ground, he said.

Sailors and Marines from the Enterprise strike group have been working long hours and have made critical contributions to the
war on terror, Spicer said. Throughout their deployment, the troops have stayed motivated because they see the role they play in the war and the support they provide to the troops on the ground, he said.

"They're committed; they're motivated; they're proud to be contributing to maritime security operations and the war on terror," he said. "I think the American people would be proud too if they knew just how hard these sailors and
Marines have been working and just how tremendously effective they've been at what they've been doing."

Defense Commissary Agency Has 140-Year History, 231-Year Heritage

By Dr. Peter D. Skirbunt

FORT LEE, Va., Sept. 29, 2006 – The Defense Commissary Agency preserves a
military benefit officially established 140 years ago, with a heritage extending back to the American Revolution. In 1775, Congress created the Office of the Commissary General of Stores and Purchases to provide the Army's daily rations. Fifty years later, the "Commissariat," as it was then known, began selling items from its warehouses "at cost" to Army officers for their personal use. By 1841, officers could also purchase items for their families.

The dietary needs of enlisted men, whose official rations were not particularly healthy, were largely dependent upon civilian merchants for additional food. Merchants selling to the Army were "sutlers;" those who sold to the Navy in harbors around the world were known as "bumboaters." These merchants sold hard goods and all sorts of edibles, including canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables. They provided a valuable service, but many of them overcharged or sold inferior goods.

During the Civil War, while men on both sides complained about prices and quality, some unscrupulous sutlers grew rich. After the war, Congress began to phase the sutlers out of business. In 1866, it authorized the
Army to sell goods at cost from its subsistence warehouses to officers and enlisted men alike. These sales, which began on July 1, 1867, were the start of the modern commissary system. In 1868, customers could choose from an official 82-item stock list.

Congress established sales stores "wherever needed," with no restrictions on their geographical locations. The notion that commissaries were originally established for remote frontier posts is untrue; in fact, "remote" or "frontier" posts were actually the last places to have commissary sales stores. They were the very places where fully stocked commissaries could not be maintained due to distance, bad roads, hostile tribes and bad winter weather. Such forts were supplied by a combination of "issue" commissaries, "sales" commissaries and "post traders," who were under Army contract and could not sell anything available at the commissaries. By 1895, when railroads were bringing supplies to most forts, sutlers were no longer needed.

Overseas commissaries followed the acquisition of territory during the Spanish-American War. The first store overseas opened in Manila in 1899, and soon there were more than 30 other stores throughout the Philippines. Suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China prompted the establishment of a commissary in Peking in 1900, and construction of the Panama Canal prompted a series of
military and civilian stores to open in Panama after 1904.

Following the around-the-world voyage of the
Navy's "Great White Fleet" in 1907-09, the Navy realized bumboats were inadequate for supplying the needs of a modern fleet. Consequently, in 1909 Congress provided for ships' stores afloat and ashore for the Navy and Marine Corps; the "stores ashore" would later become known as commissaries. The first of these opened in 1910 at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard, just down the street from Congress -- a clear example of Congress' intent to establish the commissaries wherever necessary and not only at remote posts. By 1930, the Navy disallowed doing business with bumboats.

Commissaries' customer base gradually expanded. Initially established for the benefit of active-duty personnel, commissaries began selling to retirees in 1879, and reaffirmed the practice in 1916. In the decade before
World War II, store privileges were extended to members of the Lighthouse Service, as well as spouses and widows of uniformed personnel.

Other changes came quickly following the war. Perishable goods were officially placed on the commissary stock list in 1945. The first
Air Force commissaries opened in 1947, the year the Air Force was established. In 1949, the Armed Services Commissary Store Regulation standardized the stock list, terminology and other criteria for all the armed services, and specified the qualifications for commissary patrons.

To help cover the stores' expenses, in 1952 the Department of Defense ordered an across-the-board 2-percent surcharge; this was gradually increased until it reached the current level, 5 percent, in 1983. Funds generated by the surcharge pay for construction, renovation and maintenance of commissary structures, as well as for some supplies and equipment.

More recently, members of the Guard and Reserve received full-time shopping privileges in 2003. Stock lists, limited to 82 items in 1867, today offer more than 14,000 items.

Each service continued to maintain its own commissary procedures, and several large organizations gradually emerged: the
Navy Resale System in 1967, followed by the Navy Resale Support Office, which directed operations of Navy commissaries. The Army Troop Support Agency was activated in 1972, and the Air Force Commissary Service began operations in 1976.

In 1990, Congress and the Defense Department decided to consolidate the individual service systems.
Army Maj. Gen. John P. Dreska was named the agency's first director, and Fort Lee, Va., became home to its headquarters. The agency officially took control of 410 military commissaries and multiple-related operations (such as Air Force troop support operations, and sales to U.S. Embassy personnel) on Oct. 1, 1991. After Dreska, the agency was led by Army Maj. Gen. Richard E. Beale Jr. and Air Force Maj. Gens. Robert J. Courter and Michael P. Wiedemer. Its current director is Senior Executive Service civilian Patrick B. Nixon.

After a decade of base closures and realignments, DeCA now has 264 stores. Of these, more than 140 are new or have undergone extensive renovation. Today's commissaries are much like their civilian supermarket counterparts, using scanning and other technologies to provide customers with a modern shopping experience, and establishing various cost-saving initiatives that have earned the agency several governmental awards. The agency is constantly reviewing, adjusting and improving its procedures, bringing the benefit into the 21st century.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sept. 26, of injuries suffered when their M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over while maneuvering.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Edward C. Reynolds, Jr., 27, of Groves, Texas.
Pfc. Henry Paul, 24, of Kolonia Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

The incident is under investigation. For further information related to this release contact Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Iraqi Police Capture Terrorists; Bodies Found in Vehicle

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – Iraqi national police detained eight suspected terrorists and seized a weapons cache in western Baghdad Sept. 26, U.S. military officials reported. Police officers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, were attacked by terrorists using small-arms fire from the Al Kur Mosque and requested assistance from Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from 5th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 8th Squadron, 10th Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The soldiers set up a cordon while the Iraqi police entered the mosque.

Inside the mosque, the
police discovered two hostages and detained eight suspected terrorists. They also found assault rifles, a hand grenade and ammunition.

The suspects were detained for questioning, and the munitions were destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team. Iraqi citizen was killed and four
police vehicles were destroyed in the attack, officials said.

In other news from Iraq, soldiers from 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, found nine bodies inside a vehicle loaded with explosives in Baghdad's Mansour district on Sept. 26. Cause of death was not reported.

The Iraqi soldiers removed the bodies, and an explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the vehicle.

In a separate incident, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained two suspected terrorists trying to place a makeshift bomb on the side of a road in Najaf on Sept. 26. The suspects were handed over to Iraqi
police for further questioning.

In addition, elements of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, attached to Multinational Division Baghdad, discovered a large cache of mortar rounds while performing combat operations in northwestern Baghdad this week. The munitions were destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team.

President Praises Troops on Front Lines of Terror War

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – There's no doubt of victory in the
terror war -- not just because the United States is committed to seeing it through, but also because of the quality of the troops carrying it out, President Bush told the Reserve Officers Association here today. "We can have confidence in the outcome of the war on terror, because our nation is determined," the president said. "We've done this kind of hard work before, and we have succeeded."

Bush offered special recognition to servicemembers on the front lines of that effort. "We can be confident because we've got incredible men and women who wear our nation's uniform," he said. "I am constantly amazed at the incredible courage that our fellow citizens who wear the uniform show on a regular basis."

The president held up two prime examples of that courage, demonstrated by two
Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan in June 2005. Petty Officers 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson and Danny P. Dietz were part of a SEAL team operating deep in the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill or capture a Taliban leader. Shortly after they were discovered, they found themselves surrounded in a mountain ravine by 30 to 40 Taliban fighters.

"During the firefight that ensued, Axelson urged an injured teammate to escape, and he provided cover before suffering a mortal wound," Bush told the group. "Fighting nearby, his partner Deetz was also mortally wounded, but he too stood his ground and kept firing until ... he finally died."

The president praised the two as heroes. "Because of the courage of Petty Officers Axelson and Deetz, their wounded teammate made it out alive," he said.

During a ceremony earlier this month in which the two sailors posthumously received the Navy Cross, Deetz's wife spoke of her husband and his comrades in arms, Bush told the group. "She said, 'Danny and his brothers went toward evil and ran forward and gave their last breath,'" Bush said.

Axelson and Deetz demonstrated the mettle of the
U.S. armed forces, the president said. "We live in freedom because of the courage of men like Matthew and Danny," he said. "And we will honor their sacrifice by completing this mission."

The United States and its allies and partners around the world are engaged in a struggle against violent extremists that "will help determine the destiny of the civilized world," Bush said.

"We've borne these responsibilities before, and we have seen our faith in freedom vindicated by history," he said. "In this young century, a new generation of Americans is being called to defend liberty. And once again, the cause of liberty and peace will prevail."

During today's remarks, Bush paid tribute to those in the audience who serve in the
military, including patients from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, and the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. "I thank you for your sacrifice," he told them.

Bush also expressed thanks to the medical professionals from the two hospitals for helping troops wounded in combat recover from their wounds. "It gives me great comfort to be able to tell the loved ones of those who wear our uniform that, 'If you get hurt, you will receive first class, compassionate care from the
United States military,'" he said. "And so, to the healers who are here, thank you for doing your duty and providing these brave folks the help they need to recover."

Ramadi has 'Tipped' to Iraqi Government, Coalition

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – The battle for Ramadi has "tipped" in favor of the government of Iraq and the coalition, the commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, said today.
Army Col. Sean MacFarland told the Pentagon press corps in a video teleconference call that attacks are down 25 percent over the past couple of months, and coalition forces, together with the Iraqi security forces, have steadily increased their presence inside of the city.

Ramadi, the capital and largest city in Anbar province, has been an al Qaeda in Iraq and Sunni insurgent hotbed. But now the tide seems to have turned, MacFarland said. "The Iraqi police recruiting has soared tenfold, and the Iraqi
army readiness has improved to the point where Iraqi army battalions are now assuming the lead in portions of the city and its suburbs," he said.

Coalition-sponsored public works projects are bringing improvements in Iraqi quality of life. "Water and power projects are moving forward," he said. "And by February, we will have more than doubled both basic services."

MacFarland said he is encouraged by the attitude of the people of the city. The people who were fence-sitters in the battle between the Iraqi government and al Qaeda in Iraq are stepping forward and cooperating with Iraqi security forces against al Qaeda, he said.

"I think al Qaeda has been pushed up against the ropes by this, and now they're finding themselves trapped between the coalition and (Iraqi security forces) on the one side and the people on the other," the colonel said. "Now it's the al Qaeda forces that need to be worried about living in those neighborhoods. They stick out like a sore thumb. Everybody knows who the
terrorists are."

Local sheikhs are cooperating with the Iraqi government. Tribal leaders are steering new recruits to the
police, and they are becoming more effective. MacFarland said that Iraqi police in Ramadi today intercepted insurgents driving a car loaded with rocket-propelled grenades. "The insurgents tried to run away," he said. "(The police) chased them, and they killed or captured the entire group."

In another instance, the
police intercepted a suicide car bomber before he could detonate the car at an Iraqi police position.

"There's still a lot of work to be done, but I'm very encouraged by the direction of events here," he said.

The colonel said the insurgency is "beatable" in Ramadi, but it will not be coalition forces that do the beating. "The instrument of their destruction will be the Iraqi security forces," he said. "And that's why we've been working so hard to develop the Iraqi
police and the Iraqi army in and around Ramadi, and to that end the acceleration of their readiness has been very heartening."

The aim of U.S. forces in the city is to drive the level of violence in Ramadi down to a level that the Iraqi security forces will be able to manage after the coalition's departure. "So I am responsible for setting the conditions for success for the (Iraqi forces), and I think we're making good headway on that," he said.

But MacFarland again stressed the importance of getting the population on the Iraqi government's side. "It's got legs; it's moving forward, and it's because success begets success," he said. "The people are beginning to recognize that the coalition and the Iraqi security forces mean business, that they're here to stay -- especially on the Iraqi security force side -- and that they have the ability to stay.

"At the same time, they've come to recognize that al Qaeda offers them nothing, nothing but death and destruction, and that they are turning away from the al Qaeda fighters and turning toward their own sons who are in the Iraqi security forces."

Terrorism Preparedness Symposium

A One Day Terrorism Preparedness Symposium

Saturday, November 11, 2006 • 8:30 am - 4:30 pm • New Jersey Institute of Technology • Campus Center

Preventing a Terrorist Attack: A Pro-Active Approach

The mission of this symposium is to educate the public on counter-terrorist prevention strategies already in place; response resources and particularly looking at realistic scenarios run in the hospital environment. Our November ‘06 event will include IED educational overview, NBC training and certification for eligible participants, the School Resource Officer Association’s school security overview, and an Avian Flu-Pandemic Preparedness analysis from a hospital viewpoint.

We are still actively looking for sponsors for this NJIT Campus venue. If you or your company would be interested in co-sponsoring this event please ask for information by calling or emailing Walter F. Conner, Colonel USMC (ret): 609-977-2114 or

Rumsfeld: 21st Century Challenges Can't Be Overcome by Military Means Alone

By John D. Banusiewicz

PORTOROZ, Slovenia, Sept. 29, 2006 – The challenges the world faces in the 21st century can't be overcome by
military means alone, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today. In a meeting with reporters capping this week's informal meeting of NATO defense ministers, Rumsfeld said that while NATO has expanded in size, scope and capabilities, the alliance and other free nations face a world far different from that of the 20th century.

NATO is fully engaged in Afghanistan, the first time the alliance has taken on major military operations outside its geographic boundaries, and has the same kinds of issues that the United States and the coalition face there, the secretary said.

"Twenty-first century challenges are not challenges that can be overcome with brute military strength," he said. "They just don't lend themselves to military victories."

Rumsfeld said progress is necessary not only in the security part of the equation, but also in the governance, political and economic arenas.

"All of those things have to come along together," he said, "and one of the elements of the discussion (among NATO defense ministers) today was that reality, which ... is something that we discuss inside of our government continuously. How do you get all of those things moving in reasonable synchronization?"

Rumsfeld said the current tension between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia was among the topics discussed when he met this morning with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov. The subject also was discussed in the NATO-Russia Council meeting today. "It's a subject of great interest to the United States and also to the NATO alliance," Rumsfeld said. "The thread of those discussions clearly was for there to be calm and for those tensions to be eased down in a peaceful way."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Air Force Investigating Crash in Kyrgyzstan

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2006 – Air Force officials have convened a Safety Investigation Board to determine the cause of a ground collision between a Kyrgyz TU-154 passenger plane and a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker at Manas International Airport, Kyrgyzstan around 8 p.m. Sept. 26. "Our primary concern was for the safety of the passengers and crew of both aircraft," Air Force Col. Joel "Scott" Reese, commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, said. "I'm thankful there were no injuries."

The three-member crew of the KC-135 had just returned from an aerial refueling mission and was taxiing from the runway when the TU-154's wing collided with the KC-135's wing. The wing of the KC-135 caught fire as a result of the collision. The TU-154 continued its take off and made an immediate emergency landing. The passengers of the TU-154 were evacuated without injury.

"Fire and emergency crews from Manas International Airport along with our firefighters extinguished the fire on the KC-135," Reese said. "We're grateful for the relationship we have with our partners here at the airport. Our joint training paid off immensely in the successful response to this emergency."

This is the first accident between U.S. and Kyrgyz aircraft.
Air Force officials are cooperating with local airport and aviation authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident, officials said.

The KC-135 aircraft and crew are deployed to Manas from Fairchild
Air Force Base, Wash. The 376th AEW at Manas has been supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan since the base opened in December 2001. The wing's mission is air mobility, with both KC-135s and C-17 Globemaster IIIs moving people, cargo and fuel into and out of Afghanistan.

Terrorists Killed, Captured in Iraq; Weapons Caches Found

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2006 – Stryker Brigade soldiers killed a terrorist and wounded another after spotting them attempting to place an anti-tank mine near Muqdadiya, in Iraq's Diyala province, yesterday, U.S. military officials said. The patrol from Comanche Troop, 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, investigated the scene and found the mine set to detonate on a passing vehicle. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the mine on site. Iraqi and coalition forces continue to work throughout Diyala province to stop insurgent activity and increase security in the multi-ethnic region, officials said.

In addition, four suspected insurgents were detained and a large weapons cache was found during an Iraqi army-led operation with coalition forces in Mosul yesterday. Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi
Army Division, and coalition soldiers cleared the area around one building and detained two suspects, while another group moved to a second building, detaining two additional suspects without incident.

Two coalition soldiers in the first building found a crawl space on the roof, which revealed a hidden weapons cache. The cache contained rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, rifles, mortar tubes,
military maps and propaganda.

A coalition forces interpreter overheard the detainees discussing a second cache in the building and notified the soldiers. The second cache was hidden behind a 16 inch-thick concrete wall in the basement of the building. Using sledgehammers, Iraqi soldiers unearthed a larger weapons cache containing grenades, ammunition, machine guns and mortar rounds. There were no injuries during the course of the operation.

Elsewhere, Iraqi security forces captured two people suspected of kidnapping and murdering Iraqi civilians during an early-morning raid near Tarmiya on Sept. 26.

Iraqi forces, along with coalition advisors, conducted an air assault near their objective and quickly entered a residence holding the suspects. Iraqi forces detained the suspects without incident. Those detained are believed to belong to a terror cell that commits acts of violence against innocent Iraqis and have ties to al Qaeda in Iraq, and have allegedly targeted U.S. forces in a bomb attack, officials said.

The two detainees are in Iraqi custody. There were no casualties during the operation. The raid was conducted as part of Operation Together Forward to capture those responsible for the murder of innocent Iraqi civilians. The operation, a helicopter-borne assault, highlights the capability of Iraqi forces to go where criminals are, deny them sanctuary, and provide for a safe and secure Iraq, officials said.

Also on Sept. 26, specially trained Iraqi security forces captured six
terrorists suspected of targeting coalition forces with makeshift bombs during a raid near Haswah. The suspects, who all had outstanding Ministry of Interior arrest warrants, are believed to be responsible for a bomb attack that resulted in the death of a U.S. soldier.

Components for building makeshift bombs also were captured, and multiple suspects and a vehicle at the site tested positive for exposure to military-grade explosives. The detainees left the scene in Iraqi custody. There were no casualties in the operation.

Iranian Government Behind Shipping Weapons to Iraq

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2006 – The Iranian government is behind shipping components used to make improvised explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents, a senior intelligence official in Iraq said yesterday. Labels on weapons stocks seized inside and outside Iraq point to Iranian government complicity in arming Shiite militias in Iraq,
Army Major General Richard Zahner, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence with Multinational Force Iraq, said at a news roundtable.

U.S. officials have said in the past that Iran is fomenting instability in Iraq. In August,
Army Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero said that the Iranian government is training many members of the Shiite insurgency in Iraq. Barbero is the deputy operations chief on the Joint Staff.

"Iran is definitely a destabilizing force in Iraq," Barbero said during an Aug. 23 Pentagon news conference. "I think it's irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding and equipping some of these Shiia extremist groups and also providing advanced (improvised explosive device) technology to them, and there's clear evidence of that."

Zahner said Iran is funneling millions of dollars for
military goods into Iraq. He noted that labels on C-4 explosive found in Baghdad make it clear where the munitions came from. "You'll find a red label on the C-4 printed in English and will tell you the lot number and name of the manufacturer," he said.

In 2002, the Israelis seized a small ship bringing military supplies to Hezbollah. "Compare the labels on the
military C-4 in that and tell me if they're not identical," Zahner said.

He said British, Iraqi and American officials in Basra also have found blocks of C-4. "You will see the same red label for each and every one of those," he said.

Zahner also said it's clear that the Iranian government is behind the munitions shipments. "I will tell you that the control of
military-grade explosives in Iran is controlled through the state apparatus and is not committed through rogue elements right there," he said. "It is a deliberate decision on the part of elements associated with the Iranian government to affect this type of activities."

Rumsfeld: Enemy Underestimated NATO in Afghanistan

By John D. Banusiewicz

PORTOROZ, Slovenia, Sept. 28, 2006 – The enemy in Afghanistan underestimated NATO's will and ability to bring security and stability to the country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today. "The enemy obviously decided that once NATO came in, NATO would be a soft touch," Rumsfeld said at a news conference during an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers. "And so they went after NATO, and they were surprised. NATO was not soft; NATO was hard. And NATO pushed them back, and they didn't like it."

Rumsfeld said he was impressed by the commitment to the Afghanistan mission that he saw in his counterparts today. He noted that several allies are pooling resources to purchase three or more C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to help the alliance meet an important need and show NATO's commitment and ability to meet its mission requirements.

"I think that the progress that's been made with respect to assuring that NATO will have some strategic airlift is a significant thing. It's an enabler that's needed," he said. "But in addition, it is an example of NATO addressing a real problem and people stepping up, providing the funds and the political decisions to move forward with it.

He noted that today's meeting yielded offers of thousands of weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition for the Afghan National
Army, as well as pledges for additional troops to help in the NATO effort.

Rumsfeld said that in
World War II's aftermath and in the advent of the Cold War, then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson knew many of the institutions the allies were putting together to make a new world would endure; in fact, Rumsfeld said, Acheson titled his memoirs, "Present at the Creation."

"I believe the past few years have represented a similar juncture in history," Rumsfeld said, "where we're at the end of the Cold War and in the initial phases of the 21st century and what will prove to be a long struggle against violent extremism and a range of very complex, derivative and asymmetrical challenges, such as the opportunity we have today to modernize and transform our institutions, including NATO."

He said NATO arguably is the most successful
military alliance in history. "I have no doubt that if NATO and its members muster the political will to make the necessary adjustments and investments, we will be able to successfully deal with challenges of this new era."

About 12,000 U.S. Troops to Come Under NATO Control in Afghanistan

By John D. Banusiewicz

PORTOROZ, Slovenia, Sept. 28, 2006 – Some 12,000 U.S. troops in 14 eastern provinces of Afghanistan will come under NATO control in the near future following a decision today by the alliance's defense ministers meeting here. The transfer of authority from the coalition to NATO's International Security Assistance Force will take place "very soon, indeed," Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said at a news conference.

In a later news conference, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the transfer "a bold step forward for this alliance."

An official NATO statement said the decision will be implemented when
U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, NATO's top operational commander, issues an activation order. "This is expected in the next few days," the statement said.

Officials said ISAF having operational control over forces in all regions of Afghanistan will give commanders the flexibility they need to employ the force's capabilities whenever and wherever they're needed most. Officials said the decision to proceed with Phase 4 was made in consultation with non-NATO countries that provide troops to the mission.

The U.S. will remain the largest troop contributor to the overall security mission in Afghanistan, DoD officials said.

An important issue affecting NATO's ability to succeed in Afghanistan is the need for countries contributing forces to ease or eliminate restrictions, known as "caveats," on how and where their forces may be used, Scheffer said. He quoted Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski as telling his colleagues, "Giving forces without caveats is giving twice." Poland's ISAF forces are operating without caveats.

Rumsfeld said it's important that ISAF forces operate under "as few caveats as possible."

"It is very difficult for a commander managing the forces from ... 35 or 40 different countries -- NATO nations as well as non-NATO nations -- when he is not able to move forces around and to have them go where they're needed, when they're needed to do the things that needed to be done," he said.

Rumsfeld added that he believes some progress on the issue was made here today.

With the transfer of authority, NATO will take command of 12 additional provincial reconstruction teams, bringing the total number of NATO-led PRTs to 25. The number of troops under NATO command will increase from the current 20,000 to more than 30,000. Most of these forces are already in place in Afghanistan, the statement said.

"Today's decision to expand the mission to the whole country, coupled with substantial offers to equip the Afghan army, are more examples of the progress we are making to help Afghanistan build a better future," Scheffer said.

The secretary-general said the defense ministers in today's meeting showed determination in dealing with the Afghanistan mission, a mission the secretary-general called "NATO's No. 1 priority."

"What I saw around the table is a lot of resolve to stay the course in Afghanistan, a lot of confirmation that this is a long-term commitment from NATO, and also the notion that things are going well in Afghanistan," Scheffer said. "Let's not be gloomy when we discuss Afghanistan."

He noted that 3,000 kilometers of new roads have been built there, that 6 million children are going to school, and that reconstruction is going on in many places throughout the country. He also cited "many commitments" among NATO countries to train and equip the Afghan National

"NATO, like we do in Iraq, is going to be a sort of clearing house," he explained, "and many ministers around the table said they are ready and they are willing to train and equip the Afghan National

Scheffer emphasized that going ahead with Phase 4 does not mean it's any less important for the alliance to continue addressing its needs in Afghanistan's southern provinces, where Jones recently said more troops and equipment are needed. NATO sources said five countries -- reportedly Romania, Canada, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic -- today offered to provide additional forces for the effort in the south.

"If you are in an alliance based on solidarity, you have to deliver," Scheffer said. "And to deliver is a question of will, in the last instance. It's not a question of process or structure or organization."

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Casey L. Mellen, 21, of Huachuca City, Ariz., died on Sept. 25 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his mounted patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Mosul, Iraq. Mellen was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

For further information related to this release, can contact the Fort Lewis public affairs office at (253) 967-0152.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1st Lt. James N. Lyons, 28, of Rochester, N.Y., died on Sept. 27 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his mounted patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations. Lyons was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information related to this release, can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Jose A. Lanzarin, 28, of Lubbock, Texas, was killed in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Sept. 26, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Lanzarin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

For further information related to this release the media can contact 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-4862.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Terrorist Bomb Expert Captured in Afghanistan; 10 Taliban Rebels Killed

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2006 – Afghan and coalition forces captured a known makeshift bomb expert and terrorist cell leader today during an operation south of Asadabad, U.S. military officials reported. The terrorist was the leader of a cell that planned bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the Konar region. He was also responsible for placing bombs in various locations in the Pech Valley region.

Intelligence indicated that the
terrorist was planning to attack coalition and Afghan security forces in the immediate future, officials said.

"This improvised explosive device builder posed an imminent threat to the safety of not only coalition and Afghan forces, but to the local population," said
Air Force Lt. Col. John Paradis, a coalition spokesman. "This is a positive development in that a key terrorist facilitator has been detained, his actions thwarted and his future plans disrupted. Today's operation sends a strong message to the extremists. We will continue to pursue these enemies of Afghanistan."

The operation ended without incident, and no injuries were reported, officials said.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, coalition forces killed 10 Taliban rebels in Paktika province while conducting offensive operations during Operation Mountain Fury on Sept. 25.

Coalition forces spotted 15 extremists operating in the Sharan district and engaged with ground forces and attack helicopters. Five of the extremists broke contact and fled.

"Operation Mountain Fury continues to pressure the enemy to eliminate their ability to coerce and intimidate the Afghan people," said
Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a coalition spokesman. "We will continue to take the fight to the enemy and destroy them, if necessary, to ensure security here in Paktika and elsewhere."

In a separate incident in Khost province, a suicide bomber apparently wearing an explosive vest attacked an Afghan National
Army vehicle patrol near their encampment. A U.S. soldier received minor injuries, and two vehicles were damaged. The suicide bomber died in the attack.

In other news from Afghanistan, Kapisa province governor, Abdul Satar Murad, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a major road project Sept. 28. The ceremony is in support of the first phase of the recent $3 million road contract provided by the Bagram provincial reconstruction team. The road, when completed, will extend 62 kilometers in length and connect all districts of Kapisa province and make Kapisa the only province in Afghanistan with roads connecting all districts with Kabul.

"This will be the first time that people will be able to travel to all the districts across the province, bringing commerce, security and stability to the region," said
Army Maj. Donald Johnson, director of civil-military operations for the Bagram PRT. "Our goal is to aid in making them more self-sufficient and a future partner in the international arena."

Finally, about 70 Afghan and American leaders and experts from around Afghanistan are attending the first national field artillery conference at Kabul
Military Training Center this week. The conference is modeled on similar U.S. conferences to facilitate discussion and help units operate using standard procedures.

The culmination event of the conference is a live-fire exercise conducted by the Afghan National
Army tomorrow. They will fire Russian Howitzers, large artillery guns and mortars. The live-fire exercise is meant to demonstrate "what right looks like," officials said.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Top NCOs Offer Condolences, Encouragement to Gold Star Families

By Master Sgt. Gerrold Johnson, USA

CHICAGO, Sept. 26, 2006 – The
Army and the Marine Corps' top enlisted leaders took part in a poignant Gold Star Mothers Day ceremony at Chicago's Navy Pier on Sept. 24. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada read the names of 23 servicemembers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the global war on terrorism. Families of the fallen also were on hand to receive a Gold Star banner from Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.

"Our Gold Star Mothers have raised young men and women, heroes, who have held us in the palm of their hands and in their hearts and protected us," Quinn said.

Near the end of the ceremony, families gathered to lay a yellow rose at the base of the service flag of their loved ones. Amid somber music and a tear-filled room, Danuta Kowalik of Des Plaines, Ill., laid her flower at the base of the Marine Corps flag. Her son, Lance Cpl. Jakub Kowalik was killed in Iraq in 2003. This is her fourth annual Gold Star Mothers Day ceremony.

"It gets so hard because you see more people, every single year, there are more of us," she said. "It doesn't get any easier for me, but I feel more for the other moms and families.

"I am like a veteran here. I sit in the back and more and more (new Gold Star Mothers) sit in front of me," Kowalik said.

Sandra Miller of Alsip, Ill., is a Gold Star Mother who also hasn't missed a Gold Star ceremony over the past few years.

Her son,
Marine Capt. Adam Miller, was a helicopter pilot who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He died during a training exercise in 2004 after returning to Camp Pendleton, Calf.

"For me, it's not about it getting any easier, but more about me sharing my experience with maybe a new mother," she said " It's about how can we, as a state, keep these young men and women's memory alive, and that's why I continue to come here."

"Mothers of fallen servicemembers form an unbreakable bond with each other that strengthens not only the Gold Star Mothers organization, but our entire nation," said Preston, who flew in from Washington to personally offer his condolences.

Preston said he thinks the service today has become a family business, noting that many of the
Army's senior leaders also have sons and daughters currently serving in harm's way.

"The majority of the soldiers serving today have a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister who has served in the
Army," he said. "Soldiers today join for different reasons, but they all have something in common -- the desire to serve a cause bigger than themselves."

Estrada offered words of encouragement in his remarks to the families. Those words are inscribed on the back of his military coin of excellence. "I live by something that says 'perseverance through adversity' so, during those tough times, I ask you to persevere and things will always work out," Estrada said.

He says that he mourns with the families for the losses they have suffered and hopes to someday live in a world without war. "But until then," he went on to say, "take comfort in knowing that your loved ones made a positive difference in this world."

The civilian aide to the Secretary of the
Army for Illinois, retired Army Reserve Maj. Gen. John Scully, made three other special Gold Star presentations, during the ceremony. Army Reserve Pvt. 1st Class Justin King lost his battle with cancer in September. A local soldier escorted his mother, Pamela King, to receive her Gold Star banner. And, after 62 years, the families of Capt. Vladimir M. Sasko and 2nd Lt. David Nelson, U.S. Army Air Forces, were presented with Gold Star banners, as well. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command recently accounted for these two servicemembers who had been missing since 1944.

(Army Master Sgt. Gerrold Johnson is the chief public affairs NCO for Army Outreach Division - Midwest.)

Marine Corps Corporal Questions War Coverage at Pentagon Employees' Forum

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2006 – A
Marine corporal quizzed top leaders at a recent Pentagon employees' question-and-answer session about what the department can do to counter the reporting of negative news from Iraq and Afghanistan. "Negativity in the press is absolutely detrimental to the morale of our forces and our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan," Cpl. John A. Stukins said to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Sept. 22 town hall meeting.

"What are we doing to confront this problem and to better the morale of our forces over there -- not only over there, but here as well?" asked Stukins, a 23-year-old administrative specialist from Lafayette, La., who works with the
Marine Staff at the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld and Pace both congratulated Stukins for asking his question.

Fielding Stukins' query, Pace said there was around-the-clock media coverage of the overseas exploits of the
U.S. military early on during the global war on terrorism.

"We had television, newspapers, magazines," Pace explained. "If you were interested, you could read as much as you wanted and you could watch as much as you wanted, and you could form your own opinions."

However, as the conflict continued, other issues began to compete with military news for radio or television airtime or newspaper or magazine copy inches, Pace said.

"News is a business, and now the news cycle is such that only certain amounts (of coverage) of every day are allocated to coverage of the war," Pace said. "And, unfortunately, the parts of the war that then become shown are the parts that capture people's attentions."

And, more often than not, Pace noted, today's
military news coverage in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to focus on "where the bombs are going off," instead of "where the schools are being built and the like."

So, the general said, it's important that department
leaders and rank-and-file military members tell the public about the good, as well as the not-so-good, military news from overseas.

One way the
military provides unfiltered information to the public is having Iraq and Afghanistan veterans share their wartime experiences with hometown citizens, Pace said.

It's necessary "to make ourselves more available to the American people so that we can, in fact, get more of the story out here so that the American people -- whose center of gravity is really very, very solid -- have the opportunity to digest all that information and judge for themselves what's really going on," Pace said.

In a later interview with American Forces Press Service, Stukins said he believes U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is the right thing to do. He joined the Marines shortly after completing high school in October 2001 and said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, greatly influenced his decision to enlist. Stukins recalled working at
Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, in January 2005 when he'd heard 30 Marines and a Navy corpsman had died in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

The incident was jarring, Stukins said, because he'd prepared the deployment orders for most of the Marines who died.

"To see my name in association with them, it struck deep," Stukins said. "These guys were doing the greatest things out there." Hawaiian newscasts reported the incident, Stukins recalled, noting some residents who were interviewed seemed to sharply question the purpose and necessity of the war.

Stukins said he thought such a presentation of the news "was reprehensible" and seemed to discount the sacrifices made by the servicemembers who died.

"Basically, (it's) somebody speaking ill of your sacrifice," the corporal said, as well as compounding the suffering of friends, spouses and relatives of the deceased.

Stukins says he's a firm believer in freedom of speech as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. "But, I also have the right to respect your right to be wrong," he said.

The U.S. military is doing a great job fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stukins said. But, he stressed, things would be better "if people could see the good things that are going on over there and not hear all about the bad."

Stukins said he's thankful he could express his views to his leaders directly at the Pentagon town hall meeting. "It's great to have open dialogue," he said.