War on Terrorism

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Face of Defense: Army Veterinarian Plays Key Role in Iraq

By Army Sgt. David Turner
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2008 - Most people think of veterinarians as animal doctors, and indeed they are. But the work of a deployed
Army veterinarian here shows the specialty involves much more than that. "My main job here at division is agriculture subject-matter expert," Army Maj. Freddie Zink explained from his office at Task Force Mountain headquarters here.

Zink works regularly with Iraqi veterinarians and farmers, whether it's helping with vaccinations of farm animals or advising on projects from poultry farms to beehives.

Like many of the other reservists in the 445th
Civil Affairs Battalion, Zink brings valuable civilian skills to his job in the Army. He practiced veterinary medicine in Piedmont, S.C., for 20 years before retiring, selling his practice, and accepting a commission in the Army Reserve. After officer training, he volunteered to deploy with the 445th, and is now serving his first tour of duty.

His years of experience help Zink in assessing the needs of Iraq's many practicing veterinarians. Though agriculture here may not be as high-tech as it has come to be in the United States, Zink said, Iraqi veterinarians need more up-to-date training and better access to supplies to keep Iraq's farms healthy and prospering.

"They have not had hardly any continuing training in the past 15 years," he said of the Iraqi veterinarians he has met during his frequent
Civil-military engagements, where he teaches and supervises new techniques. "There are 10 veterinary schools in Iraq, and really they need one -- two at the most." Though Iraqi schools train as many as 1,000 new veterinarians a year, unemployment in the field is high, he said.

The other challenge, a recurring theme for Iraq's rural farmers, is access to drugs, vaccines and supplies, Zink said.

But the most vital need in Iraqi agriculture, he noted, is better water management.

"The biggest problem with agriculture right now is getting irrigation canals repaired, getting the pumps fixed and getting the canals lined," he said. With thousands of miles of river-fed canals supporting farms, maintenance and control can be tricky. "There needs to be some strict enforcement on water resources. Getting water to the farms is very important," he said.

Zink said he also would like to see locally produced feed for animals. Without such an operation, he said, farmers rely on expensive imports and feed that varies in quality. "We need a feed mill in south-central Iraq that is modern and can provide economical, quality feed," he said.

Big potential exists in the once-thriving aquaculture industry in southern Iraq, the
Army veterinarian said. Fish farming on a large scale relies on not only good water management and inexpensive feed, but also on help from science.

"They have not brought any new genetic [strains] into the aquaculture since 1979, and the fish have poor feed-to-gain ratios," he explained. "Just by bringing new genetics in, within two years, the fish experts say, it will increase fish production by 35 to 40 percent."

Zink said he looks forward to helping to solve some of the challenges while he's in Iraq.

"[The agriculture infrastructure] just needs a lot of work, and I've enjoyed looking at the big picture, trying to see what's broken and how to fix agriculture in general," he said.

Zink's deployment hasn't been all about agriculture. When the U.S. State Department donated a pair of rare Bengal tigers to the Baghdad Zoo in August, their transportation from the United States to Iraq in the belly of a cargo plane required much care.

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team led the initiative to find the tigers, but when it came to handling the precious cargo, a specialist was needed to look after the animals' health, and Zink got the call to escort the tigers.

Army Sgt. David Turner serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)

Coalition Detains 11 Suspects in Mosul, Baghdad

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2008 - Coalition forces captured three wanted men and detained eight additional suspected terrorists yesterday and today during operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq in and around Baghdad and Mosul,
military officials reported. Southeast of Mosul yesterday, coalition forces targeting al-Qaida communication networks captured one wanted man believed to be a courier for the terrorist organization. The man, who identified himself to coalition forces during the operation, is also believed to have connections to al-Qaida communication lines coming out of Mosul.

Today in Mosul, a coalition force operation targeting a wanted man believed to be a foreign terrorist facilitator netted four suspects.

In Baghdad today, coalition forces detained one suspect believed to be an associate of a man wanted for his dealings in al-Qaida's Mahmudiyah foreign terrorist facilitator cell and connections to international al-Qaida operatives.

In Abu Ghraib today, forces captured two wanted men believed to be
leaders of a terrorist group known to conduct attacks against coalition forces. Three additional suspects were detained during the operation.

In other operations yesterday:

-- Iraqi National
Police and soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, attached to the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, captured and questioned two known members of an illegal, Iranian-backed militia during an operation targeting criminals and protecting the populace in the Amin area of New Baghdad. Both men are linked to improvised explosive device activity in the area, officials said.

-- Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's Troop B, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, discovered a hand grenade in an abandoned house while on patrol in the Hadar community of Baghdad's Rashid district. After questioning the neighbors near the house, the soldiers detained the man responsible for the grenade. In addition to the grenade, the man had five AK-47 magazines in his possession.

-- Soldiers from the 5th Engineer Battalion detained an individual who had thrown a hand grenade at one of their vehicles in northern Salahuddin province. Soldiers serving with the 509th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, attached to the 3rd Sustainment Command, were on patrol when an individual threw the grenade at one of their vehicles. The device bounced off the armor plating of the vehicle, but did not detonate. The soldiers were able to identify the individual and returned fire. The individual later was turned over to Iraqi security forces for processing.

-- Iraqi National
Police in Baghdad turned in four grenades, a rocket-propelled grenade and a tail boom for an RPG to soldiers serving with the 25th Infantry Division's Company B, 1st Battalion 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

-- After receiving a tip from a concerned citizen, soldiers serving with the 25th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, found a cache north of Baghdad. The munitions included a 60 mm mortar tube, a 7 mm pistol and other bomb-making materials.

-- "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group members turned in five 57 mm projectiles, a 57 mm fuse, six batteries and two blasting caps to soldiers serving with the 25th Infantry Division's Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, north of Baghdad.

-- Soldiers serving with the 4th Infantry Division's Company B, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, found two rifles and two sights in a vehicle in Baghdad's West Rashid district.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Amenities Give Soldiers Home Away From Home in Iraq

By Army Sgt. Rodney Foliente
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2008 - Although most would rather be at home, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team here are enjoying the comforts and amenities of life at their temporary home away from home. Warhorse soldiers from 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment; Company C of the 204th Brigade Support Battalion; and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Special Troops Battalion are based here.

"This is going to be my new home for the deployment, and it's better here than I thought," said
Army Spc. Chau Nguyen, an automated logistics specialist with the special troops battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

Nguyen, who calls
Boston home, said the comforts available here help the soldiers deal with being away from home.

Although the camp offers fewer amenities and on a smaller scale than most previously deployed soldiers experienced on their last tour, Camp Echo boasts more features than the Warhorse soldiers expected.

"We'll work as hard as we can to improve the quality of life here. We're at the initial phase right now, but there will be significant changes within the next six months or so," said
Army Sgt. 1st Class Erin Langes, Camp Echo mayor, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Soldiers have access to free laundry services, a free Internet cafe, a phone center, a convenience store, a coffee shop, a movie theater, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation center and a gym. Brigade officials plan to expand the MWR and gym facilities and add more equipment, enlarge the Internet café, phone centers and laundry facility and add a convenience store with concession stands.

Soldiers here live in or are moving into containerized housing units with beds, electricity and air conditioners, though most arrived expecting to live in tents for quite a while. Brigade officials are working on establishing wireless Internet availability at the housing units as well.

Hungry soldiers can fill up at the dining facility, with food available 24 hours a day.

The food is good, with a wide variety of choices available, said
Army Spc. Kenneth Hill, a medic with the brigade personal security detachment team, as he played a game of billiards. Hill comes from Columbus, Ga.

"The living conditions are pretty comfortable, and everybody says the quality of life will get better," said
Army Sgt. Leif Wood, a senior radar operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment.

He'd rather be home, he said, but overall there isn't much to complain about here.

"I think the family members back home should know that we're doing fine and trying to have a good time," said the
Colorado Springs, Colo., resident. "They've got things you can do on your off time, and that keeps the morale up."

Army Sgt. Rodney Foliente serves in the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Colonel Debunks Individual Ready Reserve Mobilization Myths

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2008 - Though they may serve only two to four years on active duty, soldiers who enlist in the
Army takes on an eight-year commitment. When they leave active duty, they can serve the remainder of their obligation in the National Guard or Army Reserve, but they also can fulfill the commitment in the Individual Ready Reserve. IRR members must meet minimal annual requirements -- such as keeping personal contact information current, attending musters, updating readiness screening questionnaires and responding to official correspondence – and are subject to being mobilized, or called back to the Army.

Col. Wanda Good, commander of the St. Louis branch of the U.S.
Army Human Resources Command, discussed the process for mobilizing soldiers under the IRR program during a teleconference with bloggers and online journalists yesterday.

"Their knowledge and skill make them an invaluable asset to our nation, and we're tremendously proud of our IRR soldiers and their contribution to the total
Army," she said.

"IRR soldiers have been making a contribution for a long time," the colonel said. "Beginning with the Berlin crisis in 1961, we had 38,827 IRR soldiers mobilized by the
Army, and this was the largest mobilization of the IRR to date."

Good added that in the late 1960s during the Vietnam era, 1,692 IRR soldiers were called up into 42 mobilized reserve units. During the
Gulf War in the ealy 1990s, 20,277 IRR soldiers were mobilized, and 14,470 of them were deployed.

"This is not the first time we've tapped the expertise of the IRR soldiers," Good noted.

Good said a common myth surrounding the IRR today is the impression that a massive mobilization is under way.

"There are 65,000 IRR soldiers. Since 9/11, seven years ago, we've published about 20,000 mobilization orders. That's about 31 percent of the IRR. Slightly less than 5,000 are mobilized today, and that's about 7 percent of the current IRR population," she said.

Another myth, Good said, is the belief that vast numbers of IRR soldiers are failing to report to mobilization stations as ordered.

"We've had 779 cases of IRR soldiers failing to report as ordered to their mobilization stations," she said. "We've discharged 354 of them for failure to report, and we have 425 cases still under investigation. So, if you calculate those numbers, that's 779 out of 20,000, soldiers. That's only 4 percent."

Good said another myth centers around the belief that the
Army doesn't take care of IRR soldiers after they return from Iraq or Afghanistan.

"Actually, the
Army and the [Veterans Affairs Department] have a wide variety of programs in place to support all soldiers," she said. "That is another reason why we have musters on an annual basis. We want to call back our soldiers and make sure they are filling out their post-deployment health reassessments."

The assessments are important, the colonel said. "Last year ... we found three soldiers who were suicidal, one of whom got directly into the VA and [received] help immediately," she noted. "We do try very hard to take care of our soldiers, and the musters [are] the best way so far that we can actually touch these soldiers and give them the medical assistance they need."

Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, 2,218 IRR soldiers have volunteered to return to active duty, Good said. Of the more than 2,200 that have returned to active duty, 384 of them have served in Iraq, and 122 of them have served in Afghanistan.

Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg is assigned to the New Media Directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Report Says Iraq Security Improves, Fundamental Conflict Remains

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2008 - Trends across the security, political and economic landscape of Iraq continue to improve, but the fundamental character of the conflict remains unchanged, according to a Defense Department report submitted to Congress yesterday. The improved security in Iraq has opened the doors for dialogue between the leading parties in the country's government and communities and has made room for other institutional developments. But results are still tenuous and long-term stability will only be realized if the Iraqi government continues to build its legitimacy and take on existing challenges, the report says.

The quarterly report is required by the 2008 DoD Appropriations Act and measures the stability and security in Iraq.

The report states that security in the country has continued to improve, even as coalition forces have drawn down, with security incidents at levels last seen in 2004. Civilian deaths across Iraq have declined by 77 percent compared to the same reporting period last year. Major contributions include the surge of coalition forces, the growth of the Iraqi security forces and the efforts of the "Sons of Iraq" citizen security groups, according to the report.

High-profile suicide attacks have taken fewer lives, and they have not been as successful at inciting subsequent violent acts, the report says.

At the same time, coalition forces have drawn down significantly. All five U.S. surge brigade combat teams, two
Marine battalions and other coalition forces have left Iraq. The transfers to provincial Iraqi control of Qadisiyah province in July and of Anbar province this month highlight the report's assessment of security achievements during the drawdown of coalition forces.

The Iraqi security forces also are making progress and earning the respect of the Iraqi people, and with coalition forces, they have had many successes in the past several months against local and Iranian-supported militias, the report says. This has led to a shift in the people's attitude toward the militias, and has led to more Iraqis choosing to address their differences politically rather than through violence, according to the report.

The security successes have also led to the degradation of al-Qaida in Iraq's capabilities, the report says, and have led to broader political support for the Iraqi government.

But the report also states that while trends continue to remain positive, "they remain fragile, reversible, and uneven."

"While security has improved dramatically, the fundamental character of the conflict in Iraq remains unchanged—a communal struggle for power and resources," the report reads.

The report calls on the Iraqi government to continue building legitimacy by serving its people while taking on challenges that remain.

Some of those challenges facing the government include expanding its ministries of Defense and Interior to properly man, train and sustain their field forces. It needs to improve its defense budget and distribution of resources, the report says, and it calls on the defense ministry to successfully integrate former militia members into the Iraqi security forces.

Iranian influence in illegal militias known as "special groups" continues to plague Iraqi security efforts, the report says.

"Malign Iranian influence continues to pose the most significant threat to long-term stability in Iraq," the report reads. "Despite continued Iranian promises to the contrary, it appears clear that Iran continues to fund, train, arm, and direct [special groups] intent on destabilizing the situation in Iraq."

The nearly 100,000 Sons of Iraq helping with local security are slowly transitioning into the traditional Iraqi security forces, but the process needs to be faster and more efficient, according to the report.

leaders continue to make incremental but steady political progress, the report says, thanks largely to the security gains.

"The current security environment is more hospitable to compromise across sectarian and ethnic divides, while expanding oil revenues have generated the funds needed to support development and reconciliation programs," the report reads.

Army Announces Deployment

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2008 - The Defense Department today announced replacement units scheduled to deploy next year to Iraq. About 26,000 troops from an
Army corps headquarters, an Army division headquarters, a Marine expeditionary force headquarters, an Army fires brigade and six Army brigade combat teams are scheduled to rotate into Iraq between this winter and next summer, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

Units receiving deployment orders are:

-- 1st Corps Headquarters, Fort Lewis, Wash.;

-- 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas;

-- 2nd
Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters, Camp Lejeune, N.C.;

-- 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas;

-- 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.;

-- 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis;

-- 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg;

-- 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis;

-- 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.;

-- 115th Fires Brigade, Cheyenne, Wyo.

The Wyoming
Army National Guard's 115th Fires Brigade is made up of artillery battalions and batteries and will be assigned tasks to ensure freedom of movement and continuity operations throughout the country. This includes route clearance operations, searching for roadside bombs and escort security for supply convoys, Whitman said.

The six brigade combat teams are scheduled to deploy as part of DoD's continuing commitment to maintain the current projected level of forces in Iraq, which is 14 brigade combat teams, he said.

"There are no dwell-time issues," he said, referring to the amount of time at home these units will have had since their last deployment. Today's announcement is consistent with President Bush's recent announcements to reduce Iraq troop levels, Whitman added, though a possibility exists for any of the brigade combat teams to be re-tasked for Afghanistan deployments.

Based on future decisions and recommendations from ground and combatant commanders, Iraq troop numbers and security efforts will be adjusted accordingly, he explained.

U.S. Northern Command gains dedicated response force

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For the first time in its existence, U.S. Northern Command is gaining a dedicated force to respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents in the homeland.

"We are now building the first of three CBRNE Consequence Management Forces," said USNORTHCOM Commander Gen. Gene Renuart. "On the first of October, we’ll have an organized force, a trained force, an equipped force, a force that has adequate command and control and is on quick response – 48 hours – to head off to a large-scale nuclear, chemical, biological event that might require Department of Defense support."

The CBRNE Consequence Management Force, or CCMRF, is a team of about 4,700 joint personnel that would deploy as the Department of Defense’s initial response force for a CBRNE incident. Its capabilities include search and rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support.

Each CCMRF will be composed of three functional task forces – Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation – that have their own individual operational focus and set of mission skills. Depending on the different mission requirements and the incident commander’s priorities, Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation units would have varying roles and responsibilities based upon the type of catastrophe and the size of the geographical area. In USNORTHCOM’s first CCMRF, the
Army’s 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, assigned at Fort Stewart, Ga., will form the core unit of Task Force Operations.

Although CCMRFs are a joint force comprised of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, the first CCMRF will fall under the operational control of USNORTHCOM’s Joint Force Land Component Command, U.S.
Army North, located in San Antonio, Texas. Joint Task Force Civil Support, USNORTHCOM’s subordinate command in Fort Monroe, Va., would serve as the operational headquarters and work closely with state and local officials and first responders.

Army North has done an outstanding job anticipating the needs of our federal, state and local partners, and training the CCMRF to be prepared to respond when called upon,” said Army Col. Michael Boatner, USNORTHCOM future operations division chief.

“We’re excited about obtaining a ready and capable team that we can quickly activate and deploy as part of a federal response package when responding in the aftermath of catastrophic events,” Boatner said. “This response force will not be called upon to help with law enforcement,
Civil disturbance or crowd control, but will be used to support lead agencies involved in saving lives, relieving suffering and meeting the needs of communities affected by weapons of mass destruction attacks, accidents or even natural disasters.”

USNORTHCOM is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of
Civil authorities.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-September 29, 2008

Emergent BioSolutions signs $29.7 million contract with BARDA
[Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] NIAID [National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases]
“Emergent BioSolutions, a biopharmaceutical company, has signed a contract with BARDA/NIAID, valued at up to $29.7 million, to fund the further development of AV7909, a next generation anthrax vaccine candidate within the company's portfolio of anthrax countermeasures. The three-year contract provides up to $24.9 million of funding for manufacturing of clinical lots […] and for stability studies to further demonstrate that the vaccine candidate does not need refrigeration during storage, a key requirement of this vaccine development initiative.” (Datamonitor; 29Sep08; Source: COMTEX)

Congress to fund UA [University of
Arkansas] research [on nano-sensors]
“Congress is expected to approve by the end of the week a spending bill that includes money for research into biological weapons detection systems at the University of
Arkansas […] center for nanoscale bio-sensors. According to the university, the money would be for research into creation of small devices that can detect and alert people to biological weapons. […] Arkansas officials said nanoscale bio-sensors would be small enough for soldiers to wear on helmets or sleeves and would alert forces of biological agents in the air.” (YourIndustryNews.com; 29Sep08)

Scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
“A light-transmitting compound that could one day be used in high-efficiency fiber optics and in sensors to detect biological and chemical weapons at long distance almost went undiscovered by scientists because its structure was too difficult to examine. […]This two-for-one wavelength boost is paired with greater transparency, so the material can actually transmit the whole higher-wavelength beam. This could have eventual real-world applications in identifying biological and chemical weapons at long distances and in optical communications. […] The material, (A)ZrPSe6, where A can be potassium, rubidium or cesium, has a unique and difficult chemical structure that does not crystallize very well. It grows lengthwise, but not in other directions.” (Medical News Today; 29Sep08) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/123343.php

Two rival biotech companies receive approval to develop anthrax vaccines
“Emergent BioSolutions of Rockville and PharmAthene of Annapolis received separate federal development contracts to develop an improved form of the anthrax vaccine. PharmAthene of Annapolis was awarded with a multi-year contract by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health.” (Eflux Media; 29Sep08; Alice Carver)

National Institutes of Health gives Dynavax a $17M contract
Berkeley’s Dynavax Technologies Corp. will develop immune system triggers useful for vaccines under a $17 million contract from the National Institutes of Health. The award comes through the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and is enough money to pay all the costs of Dynavax’s work on this program. This research will be useful for anthrax vaccines and also for protection against other diseases.” (East Bay Business Times; 29Sep08)

[Indian National Security Advisor] Narayanan learns American way of tackling
“[…] National Security Advisor MK Narayanan visited the US homeland security department for a firsthand understanding of US security establishment. […] Charles Allen, under secretary in the office of intelligence and analysis, took the NSA and his team through a drill on how America tackles terror. […] The issues that are being addressed […] include regional counter-terrorism efforts, threat assessments in South Asia, Middle East and South East Asia, bioterrorism, anti-terrorism assistance training programme and cooperation in the field of forensic epidemiology.” (The Economic Times; 29Sep08; ET bureau)

Chemical weapons destruction at Anniston
Army Depot [Alabama] at halfway point
“The effort to destroy the chemical weapons stored at the Anniston
Army Depot reached the halfway point Saturday. More than 330,900 nerve agent-filled rockets, artillery shells and land mine have been disposed of since the incineration process began in 2003. […] The munitions loaded with nerve agents VX and GB or the blister agent mustard gas have been stored at the installation since 1961.” (Birmingham News; 28Sep08; Thomas Spencer)

OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]
Director-General addresses basic course for national authorities in France “The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, addressed a basic course for personnel of national authorities involved in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that was jointly organised by France’s National Authority and the OPCW from 22 to 26 September 2008 […] in Paris. During his visit to Paris the Director-General also held discussions with high-level officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence, who assured him of France’s continued strong support for the CWC and the work of the OPCW.” (OPCW News; 29Sep08)

Toxic chemicals missing from hospital lab [Vancouver]
“Substance can cause burns, blindness and death but only small amount gone. A box of toxic chemicals that can cause burns, blindness or even death has mysteriously disappeared from […] Royal Jubilee Hospital. […] the box, containing 21 vials of osmium tetroxide and a bottle of uranyl acetate[…] is clearly labelled and staff are at a loss to explain what has happened to it, although they are hoping that it has been compacted in the garbage. The chemical is like bleach and evaporates when it is exposed to air.” (Vancouver Sun; 28Sep08; Judith Lavoie)

Nuclear security institute in Vienna [Austria] launched with US funding
“An international institute to work on the improvement of global nuclear security practices was launched in Vienna Monday, funded by the Unites States and the Nuclear Threat Initiative organization. The World Institute for Nuclear Security will provide a forum for experts, industry and government officials to discuss standards for protecting nuclear materials from criminals or terrorists. […] Around 200 cases of illicit trafficking of radioactive sources are reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) per year, but many more are estimated to go unreported.” (Earth Times; 29Sep08)

My Blackberry as a bomb sniffer?
“The current state of the art, ‘spectroscopic’ detectors, can distinguish between the harmless beta rays given off by the potassium-40 in bananas and the very dangerous gamma rays from uranium and plutonium, which are used to produce nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons. But they're expensive. In the run-up to the Olympics, China bought many detectors, at $27,000 each, from the Beijing firm RAE-KLH Technologies to check people and vehicles entering the Olympic Village, airports and other venues. The detectors, too, are limited because they can work only at choke points, such as entrances to buildings or compounds […] By contrast, to search for dirty-bomb radiation at large calls for cheaper electronics technologies, which are just now starting to become available. […] In June, Splinternet Holdings, a security firm in Norwalk, Conn., began ‘wrapping’ buildings with radiation-detecting cameras that cost less than half as much as the Chinese model. The detectors differentiate between benign and dangerous radiation, a big help for organizations such as hospitals that are trying to prevent the theft of radioactive material.” (Newsweek; 27Sep08; Benjamin Sutherland)

terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

Iran Remains Unyielding, Gates Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2008 - Until Iran decides to change its approach to the world, the United States shouldn't reach out to the nation, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. Gates discussed the recent history of U.S.-Iranian relations in answer to a question posed by a student at the National Defense University.

"I have been involved in the search for the elusive Iranian moderate for 30 years," Gates told the students.

The secretary spoke of the first high-level meeting between Iranian and U.S. officials after the Ayatollah Khomenei took
leadership in the country in 1979.

Zbigniew Brzezinski -- President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor -- told the Iranians that although it had supported exiled Shah Reza Pahlavi's rule in Iran, the United States would accept the revolution, would recognize the new Iranian government and would follow through on arms sales contracted by the shah's government, Gates said.

Brzezinski noted the United States and Iran had a common enemy – the Soviet Union – and said the two nations could work together.

"Their response was, 'Give us the shah,'" Gates told the students. The exiled leader was in the United States at the time for medical treatment. Each side repeated its position a couple of times, and finally, Gates said, "Brzezinski stood up and said, 'To give you the shah would be incompatible with our national honor.' And that ended it."

Three days later, Iranian radicals seized the American embassy in Tehran.

"Each administration since then has reached out [to the Iranians] in one way or another, and all have failed," Gates said. "But the reality is the Iranian
leadership has been consistently unyielding over a long period of time in response to repeated overtures from the United States about having a different and better kind of relationship."

The United States is working with Russia, China and allies to put pressure on Iran to stop uranium enrichment and other activities that destabilize the Middle East and the world. This probably is the best way forward, Gates said.

In 2004 and 2005, Gates and Brzezinski chaired a Council of Foreign Relations group that urged the United States to reach out to Iran. The Iranian
leader at the time appeared moderate, Gates said, and it was worth the effort. Iran also was sending strange signals to the West – cooperating in some areas over Iraq and not in others.

"The opportunity to engage in a dialogue should they stop their enrichment in some kind of verifiable way is not an unreasonable pre-condition to high-level talks," Gates said. "I think this is a case where we have to look at the history of outreach that was very real under successive presidents and did not yield any results.

"Until the Iranians decide they want to take a different approach to the rest of the world, where we are is probably not a bad place."

Balance at Heart of National Defense Strategy, Gates Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2008 - Noting that balance is at the center of the national defense strategy, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today he wants department personnel to look to the future, but not lose sight of what needs to be done now to win today's wars. Gates spoke to the students and faculty of the National Defense University here.

Balance is the key word in a number of areas, the secretary said. Balance is needed "between doing everything we can to prevail in the conflicts we are in and being prepared for other contingencies that might arise elsewhere or in the future," he said.

It also is key to institutionalizing capabilities such as counterinsurgency and stability operations, helping nations build their own capacities, and maintaining the U.S.
military advantage against the military forces of other nation states, the secretary said.

Finally, balance is needed between the traditional way of doing things and "shedding those cultural elements that are barriers to doing what needs to get done," Gates said.

And all this needs to be done at a time when defense budgets will be constrained, he said. The secretary said he hopes the floor for the national defense funding will be 4 percent of gross domestic product. While this is more than 500 billion dollars, he said, "we still must set priorities and consider inescapable tradeoffs and opportunity costs."

The international environment today is more complex and unpredictable than ever, Gates said, as security challenges run the gamut of threats.

"It is important to establish upfront that America's ability to deal with threats for years to come will depend importantly on our performance in the conflicts of today," he said. "To be blunt, to fail – or to be seen to fail – in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to our credibility, both among our friends and allies and among potential adversaries."

Both Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to be important in the
military's future, the secretary said.

"In Afghanistan, as the president announced earlier this month, U.S. troop levels are rising, with the likelihood of more increases next year," he said. "Given its terrain, poverty, neighborhood and tragic history, Afghanistan in many ways poses an even more complex and difficult long-term challenge than Iraq – one that, despite a large international effort, will require a significant American
military and economic commitment for some time."

The defense bureaucracy needs to pay attention to these current wars, Gates told the audience.

"For too many in the Pentagon, it has been business as usual, as opposed to a wartime footing and a wartime mentality," he said. "When referring to 'next-war-itis,' I was not expressing opposition to thinking about and preparing for the future. ... My point was simply that we must not be so preoccupied with preparing for future conventional and strategic conflicts that we neglect to provide both short-term and long-term all the capabilities necessary to fight and win conflicts such as we are in today."

Support for conventional modernization programs is deeply embedded in the defense budget and bureaucracy, the secretary acknowledged.

"My fundamental concern is that there is not commensurate institutional support – including in the Pentagon – for the capabilities needed to win the wars we are in, and of the kinds of missions we are most likely to undertake in the future," Gates said.

Although long-term efforts against terrorists and other extremists will require
military force, "we also understand that over the long term, we cannot kill or capture our way to success," Gates said.

"Where possible, kinetic operations should be subordinate to measures to promote better governance, economic programs to spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented from which the terrorists recruit," he said.

The recent past has demonstrated vividly the consequences of failing to address adequately the dangers posed by insurgencies or failing states, Gates said.

"Terrorist networks can find sanctuary within the borders of a weak nation and strength within the chaos of social breakdown," he said. "A nuclear-armed state could collapse into chaos and criminality.

"Let's be honest with ourselves," he continued. "The most likely catastrophic threats to our homeland – for example, an American city poisoned or reduced to rubble by a terrorist attack – are more likely to emanate from failing states than from aggressor states."

The capabilities needed to deal with these scenarios cannot be considered exotic distractions or temporary diversions, the secretary said.

"We do not have the luxury of opting out because they do not conform to preferred notions of the American way of war," he said.

Indeed, the
military has made some impressive strides in recent years, Gates said, including steep increases in special operations forces. The Air Force has created a new air advisory program and a new career track for unmanned aerial operations. The Navy stood up a new expeditionary combat command and brought back its riverine units.

"New counterinsurgency and Army operations manuals, plus a new maritime strategy, have incorporated the lessons of recent years in service doctrine," he added.

A variety of initiatives are under way that better integrate and coordinate U.S.
military efforts with civilian agencies and engage the expertise of the private sector, including nongovernmental organizations and academia, Gates pointed out. But the need for "hard power" – traditional military force – still exists, he said.

"The United States still has to contend with the security challenges posed by the military forces of other countries – from those actively hostile to those that are at strategic crossroads," the secretary said.

Russian tanks rolling into Georgia provided a reminder that nations and traditional
military power still matter, he said.

"Both Russia and China have increased their defense spending and modernization programs, to include air defense and fighter capabilities that in some cases approach our own," Gates said. "In addition, there is the potentially toxic mix of rogue nations, terrorist groups, and nuclear, chemical or biological weapons."

North Korea, Iran and terrorist networks all seek an asymmetric advantage, the secretary told the audience, and the United States cannot take traditional dominance for granted.

"Many of America's refueling tankers and some fighters are now older than the pilots who fly them," he said. "As a result of the demands of Afghanistan and Iraq, the ground forces have not been able to stay proficient in specialties such as field artillery in the Army and amphibious operations in the
Marine Corps. We must remedy this as soon as we can through growing the ground forces, and increasing dwell time and opportunities for full-spectrum training."

Though the
Navy has shrunk too much, Gates said, it is important to remember that in terms of tonnage, its battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies of the world combined – and 11 of those 13 navies are allies or partners, he noted.

"No other
Navy has anything comparable to the reach or combat power of a single American carrier strike group," Gates said.

The latest national defense strategy concluded that although U.S. predominance in conventional warfare is not unchallenged, it is sustainable given current trends.

"As we think about this range of threats, it is common to define and divide the so-called 'high end' from the 'low end,' the conventional from the irregular -- armored divisions on one side, guerrillas toting AK-47s on the other," the secretary said. "We can expect to see more tools and tactics of destruction – from the sophisticated to the simple – being employed simultaneously in hybrid and more complex forms of warfare."

For example, Russia augmented its conventional offensive in Georgia with a sophisticated cyber attack, and a well-coordinated propaganda campaign.

"Conversely, militias, insurgent groups, other nonstate actors and third-world militaries are increasingly acquiring more
technology, lethality, and sophistication – as illustrated by the losses and propaganda victory that Hezbollah was able to inflict on Israel two years ago," Gates said.

"As we can expect a blended, high-low mix of adversaries and types of conflict, so too should America seek a better balance in the portfolio of capabilities we have – the types of units we field, the weapons we buy, the training we do," he said.

Conventional American
military programs seek a 99 percent solution over several years, Gates said. But current stability and counterinsurgency missions – those in Iraq and Afghanistan -- require 75 percent solutions delivered in months.

"The challenge is whether in our bureaucracy and in our minds these two different paradigms can be made to coexist," he said.

The key is to make sure that strategy and risk assessment drive procurement, rather than the other way around, he said. "The two models can – and do – coexist," he said. "Being able to fight and adapt to a diverse range of conflicts ... lands squarely in the long history and finest traditions of the American practice of arms."

Gates noted that the Defense Department's transformation has played out in full view in Iraq, sometimes hampered by entrenched practices and bureaucracy.

"In Iraq, we've seen how an army that was basically a smaller version of the Cold War force can become an effective instrument of counterinsurgency," he said. "But that came at a frightful human, financial and political cost. For every heroic and resourceful innovation by troops and commanders on the battlefield, there was some institutional shortcoming they had to overcome at the Pentagon."

One of the enduring issues the U.S.
military struggles with is whether personnel and promotions systems designed to reward command of American troops will be able to reflect the importance of advising, training and equipping foreign troops, the secretary said.

"In the end, the military capabilities we need cannot be separated from the cultural traits and reward structure of the institutions we have: the signals sent by what gets funded, who gets promoted, what is taught in the academies and staff colleges and how we train," he said.

Gates cautioned the audience that
military action isn't always appropriate when a crisis arises.

"The power of our
military's global reach has been an indispensable contributor to world peace – and must remain so," he said. "But not every outrage, every act of aggression, every crisis can or should elicit an American military response, and we should acknowledge such."

military might quickly toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan and drove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, Gates said, officials need to be modest about what military force and technology can accomplish.

"The advances in precision, sensor, information and satellite
technology have led to extraordinary gains in what the U.S. military can do," Gates said. "The Taliban were dispatched within three months; Saddam's regime toppled in three weeks.

"But also never neglect the psychological, cultural, political and human dimensions of warfare, which is inevitably tragic, inefficient and uncertain. Be skeptical of systems analysis, computer models, game theories or doctrines that suggest otherwise."

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. William E. Hasenflu, 38, of Bradenton, Fla., died Sept. 28 in the Jaji District, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when his unit was ambushed by enemy forces using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-9966, or go to www.campbell.army.mil/eh/eaglehonors.htm .

U.S. Soldiers Assist in Turbine Movement

By Army Staff Sgt. Adora Medina
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2008 - People in the smaller villages of southern Afghanistan have limited or no electricity. Though rows of power lines stretch for miles across the desolate sands of the region, only residents of major cities have electrical power. U.S. forces joined with Afghan forces and NATO's International Security Assistance Force last month in an operation officials expect will lead to the eventual establishment of power for the smaller communities.

The combined forces transported a new turbine more than 100 miles across southern Afghanistan to the Kajaki dam in Helmand province.

On Aug. 28, soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, escorted the turbine as it passed through their area of operations. The light infantry unit cleared a path and secured about a 20-mile vicinity, enabling safe travel. The vast open area presented a challenge for the light infantrymen, who began operations in the district just months ago.

"We're still not sure what villages are pro-ISAF or pro-Taliban, or where some of the areas along the route are worse than the others,"
Army Capt. Trevor Voelkel, commander of the battalion's Company C, said.

To familiarize themselves with the area, the soldiers in Voelkel's company went out to perform reconnaissance just a couple of days prior to the operation. When they reached a certain portion of the district, Voelkel said, they were attacked by rockets twice within an hour. To alleviate unnecessary risks on the day of the operation, Kiowa and Apache helicopters circled the district, providing air support to the combined convoy.

Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division shadowed the convoy for about 10 hours, encountering only one incoming rocket round, which landed north of their perimeter. As the convoy departed from the district, soldiers transferred responsibility to Task Force Helmand, which led the convoy the rest of the way.

Despite Taliban attempts to deter the operation, the turbine safely arrived to the Kajaki Dam on Sept. 2. There, engineers would begin the construction process to provide electricity for the remote areas of Afghanistan.

Army Staff Sgt. Adora Medina serves with Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

Coalition in Iraq Targets Bomb Networks, Foreign Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2008 - Five wanted men and two additional suspects were detained during coalition operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq bomb networks and foreign terrorist cells in and around the Iraqi capital today,
military officials reported. Coalition forces operating near Mahmudiyah, about 17 miles south of Baghdad, captured one wanted man believed to be a member of the area's al-Qaida in Iraq foreign terrorist cell. The man, who identified himself to coalition forces, also is believed to have links to other cells in the region and may have connections to terrorists outside of Iraq, officials said.

In Baghdad, forces captured a wanted man believed to be a
leader in a roadside-bomb cell and detained two additional men believed to be his associates.

In another operation in Baghdad, coalition troops captured a wanted man believed to facilitate roadside bombs and suicide bombers, officials said. The man is believed to have links to foreign terrorist groups and may be associated with terrorists known to conduct operations against coalition forces, officials said.

During the operation, the suspect identified himself to forces and led them to another location. where two more wanted men were detained.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release).

Village of Hope Training Center Graduates Final Class

By army Pfc. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2008 - A program designed to help "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group members learn skills that will enable them to help Iraq move forward graduated its final class of 60 students here Sept. 25. "The Village of Hope was part of a
civil service corps program that took Sons of Iraq members from checkpoints and taught them useable trades that they can make a living with," said Air Force Capt. Michael Askegren, 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron's officer in charge for the program. RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers.

As Iraq's security forces continue to grow and mature, some Sons of Iraq members will be able to serve with the
army or police. But for the majority who won't, "the Village of Hope gives them an option to make a good living in legitimate ways," Askegren said.

The first of four Village of Hope classes graduated in May. Askegren said he noted progress from each class to the next.

"When it started off, we had to build trust within the community and get them to believe that we are here to help and teach them something they can use," he said. "Each class has steadily gotten better, and it all culminated with the graduation of the final class."

The day also saw the official reopening of the Almainn School for Boys, which was remodeled through construction efforts of both contractors and Village of Hope graduates.

"Iraqi service workers did all of the work on the school," said
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael McKeen, the RED HORSE squadron's structure lead noncommissioned officer. "After their training, we put them straight to work. In the beginning, we had to do a lot of hands-on training with them, but after we got their first group of supervisors through their course, they kind of filled in our role."

The sharpest individuals from each class were placed into a supervisors' course, where they learned supervisory skills and responsibilities.

"Having actual supervisors out on the construction sites allowed [the coalition] to take a step back and let Iraqis train Iraqis," McKeen said.

Since the inception of the Village of Hope, four classes that yielded a total of 210 graduates trained in construction, plumbing and electrical wiring. The supervisors learned to coordinate necessities and maintain equipment for the various trades.

Although no additional classes will be offered at the Village of Hope, Askergren said good things lie ahead for Hawr Rajab.

"Though the training is complete, there are still renovations left to be done in the community," he said. "We've officially planted the seed to a new future. Now, it's time for us to step back and watch it grow."

army Pfc. Christopher McKenna serves with the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

Troops Kill Insurgents in Southern Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2008 - Coalition and Afghan forces killed several insurgents during weekend patrols in southern Afghanistan,
military officials reported. Insurgents have fired on coalition and Afghan troops in the past three days of patrols through Helmand, Kandahar and Zabol provinces, officials said. No coalition or Afghan casualties were reported from the engagements.

The troops killed an undetermined number of insurgents yesterday after being fired upon while searching a remote compound in Kandahar province's Maywand district where insurgent activities were suspected, officials said. During the search, soldiers saw a group of insurgents placing a homemade bomb alongside a road. The troops fired on the insurgents, killing two.

Coalition and Afghan forces then received small-arms fire from a nearby fighting position. They returned fire on the enemy position, killing one attacker, officials said.

A cache of more than 1,000 small-arms rounds was confiscated during the search.

On Sept. 27, Afghan and coalition forces killed several insurgents during a security patrol in Helmand province's Nahr Surkh district. Insurgents engaged the patrol with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Coalition and Afghan troops fired back with small arms and heavy weapons, killing several insurgents.

During a Sept. 26 security patrol in Zabul province's Arghandab district, coalition and Afghan forces responded to insurgent small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades with small arms and heavy weapons, killing two insurgents.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips Jr., 33, of Conway, S.C., died Sept. 25 in Bahbahani, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

For more information media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.

Army Casualty

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

Capt. Michael J. Medders, 25, of Ohio, died Sept. 24 in Jisr Naft, Iraq, of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated a vest during operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Jamel A. Bryant, 22, of Belleville, Ill., died Sept. 27 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident while on patrol in Wahida, Iraq. He was assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the U.S. Army, Europe, public affairs office at 011-49-6221-57-5816 or 8694, or email ocpa.pi@eur.army.mil .

Coalition, Iraqi Forces Continue Pressure on Insurgents

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2008 - Coalition and Iraqi forces continue their relentless assault on al-Qaida in Iraq and "special groups" criminals with targeted raids that get these terrorists off the streets. Even as violence trends downward – Iraq has the fewest violent incidents since early 2004 – coalition and Iraqi forces are keeping the pressure on insurgent groups. Operations this weekend targeted terrorists in the north and around Baghdad.

In the north, coalition and Iraqi forces detained 12 suspected al-Qaida terrorists in five coordinated operations in Mosul and nearby Al Qasr. Forces zeroed in on al-Qaida car bomb networks yesterday, targeting a wanted man believed to plan and execute multiple attacks against Iraqi citizens and coalition forces. Five others associated with the man were also captured during the raids.

An operation 80 kilometers southeast of Kirkuk resulted in detention of two suspects affiliated with al-Qaida. The operation was targeting a wanted man who intelligence reports suggest is an al-Qaida operative. The man is also wanted for involvement in gathering operations used to plan attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces in the area.

Acting on tips from detainees, coalition forces targeted senior al-Qaida in Iraq leadership networks in Bayji Saturday. Three suspects were apprehended during the operation.

Coalition forces also detained two suspected terrorists during a raid on Saturday 116 km northeast of Baghdad. The detainees are believed to be associated with regional al-Qaida leaders in Northern Diyala.

Army soldiers captured a suspected al-Qaida member Sept. 25 in Tarmiyah. The suspect is an alleged explosives expert and is believed to have plotted several kidnappings, murders and indirect fire attacks in Taji and Tarmiyah and their surrounding areas northwest of Baghdad.

Al-Qaida's car bomb and financial networks were further debilitated by the capture of seven suspected terrorists during coalition operations Saturday and Sunday.

An operation in Baghdad Saturday netted one man believed to be a key player in al-Qaida's car bomb. Another suspect was also detained during the operation.

Coalition forces, acting on a tip, targeted another man alleged to be one of al-Qaida's bookkeepers in eastern Mosul early Sunday. When forces arrived at the location, the man was taken into custody without incident. The detained man – al-Qaida's paymaster – led coalition forces to a second location where they arrested four more men believed to be his associates.

Iranian-backed groups also fared badly this weekend. Coalition forces apprehended five members of the Kataib Hezbollah network Saturday morning in new Baghdad.

In an intelligence-driven raid, coalition forces targeted suspected criminals linked to recent rocket attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces.

Coalition members captured the five suspects in three separate locations without incident.

Coalition forces also apprehended three more suspected members of the Kataib Hezbollah network early Sunday in Naharwan, about 25 km east of Baghdad.

Acting on intelligence information, coalition forces targeted a suspect who has been linked to Kataib Hezbollah operations in and around Baghdad.

Coalition forces entered the suspect's location, where he was identified to be the wanted man. The alleged criminal and two of his associates were detained without incident.

Coalition forces have captured more than 30 Kataib Hezbollah criminals in the last two months.

Officials said Kata'ib Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran, and its members are believed to employ improvised rocket assisted mortars as well as explosively formed penetrators in civilian areas.

All security forces in Iraq combined to get weapons off the streets this weekend.

U.S. soldiers with Multinational Division Baghdad found a weapons cache in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad. The munitions consisted of nine AK-47 rifles, six grenades, two cans of blasting caps, two Iraqi
Police uniforms, 10 digital cameras and a VHS camcorder.

Later Iraqi
Police officers found a cache in the West Rashid District of Baghdad. The munitions included 10 60 mm mortar rounds, six Iranian-manufactured 81 mm mortar rounds, nine 82 mm mortar rounds, a white phosphorous 82 mm mortar round, a 120 mm mortar round, a 100 mm high-explosive projectile, 13 85 mm rounds, two Iranian-manufactured anti-tank rounds, an Iranian manufactured AT-1 PG-7, eight expelling charges, three hand grenades, a Mills bomb, propellant for the PG-7, an improvised grenade, a 6-inch long improvised-explosive device filled with approximately 1.5 pounds of explosives, a roadside bomb encased in foam consisting of two 82 mm mortar rounds, a 57 mm projectile and a bottle of homemade explosives.

A tip from a local citizen pointed U.S. soldiers to six 107 mm rounds in a canal northwest of Baghdad.

Finally, Iraqi
Army soldiers northwest of Baghdad found what appeared to be five jugs of nitrogen and called for an assessment. An explosive ordnance disposal team identified the materials as four five-gallon jugs of diesel fuel and a five gallon jug of sugar, which were likely to be used as a bomb.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq and Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

Coalition Targets Bomb Networks in Eastern Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2008 - Coalition forces killed six militants and detained eight others in operations in Afghanistan's Regional Command – East over the past two days. U.S. forces launched multiple operations to disrupt terrorist networks and deny them sanctuary. In Andar District, coalition forces targeted a Taliban commander who funded, coordinated and directed roadside bomb attacks against civilians, Afghan and coalition forces. Officials believe the man facilitates the flow of foreign fighters into the Khowst region of Afghanistan. The force detained one suspected militant during the operation.

Coalition forces also targeted a Hakkani sub-commander responsible for planning and conducting roadside bomb attacks. As coalition forces entered the targeted compound, many militants fired on the troops. Coalition forces returned fire, killing one.

The other militants ran out of the compound and began firing on the force, again. The troops engaged them with small-arms fire, killing two. A third militant was killed after engaging coalition forces from a firing position in an open field. Two civilians injured during the battle received treatment by coalition forces.

A search of the buildings revealed a number of AK-47 assault rifles, other automatic weapons, dynamite, hand grenades and
military style clothing. The items were destroyed to prevent future use. Seven suspected militants were detained during the operation.

In Ghazni province, coalition forces killed two militants while targeting a Taliban commander known to facilitate the movement of foreign fighters into Afghanistan. A search yielded multiple grenades, blasting caps, rocket-propelled grenades and
military style clothing.

In Konar province, coalition forces came under heavy fire while searching a compound. Coalition forces called for close air support and returned fire killing two of the militants.

Initial reports show no civilian or coalition casualties.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)

Homemade Bomb Kills, Injures Iraqi Children

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 26, 2008 - Iraqi and coalition forces responded to an explosion yesterday that killed and injured Iraqi children in southern Baghdad's Rashid district,
military officials reported. Three children were killed and two were injured when a homemade bomb detonated in the neighborhood, police from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd National police Division reported. U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived on the scene to conduct a post-blast analysis.

"This attack is a tragedy and clearly demonstrates that the cowardly enemy will stoop to the lowest level to commit atrocious attacks on innocent children," said
Army Lt. Col. Paul Hossenlopp, deputy commander of the 1st BCT.

"The soldiers of the 1st BCT partner with the brave volunteers of the [Iraqi security forces] who work daily to free the streets and neighborhoods of Rashid from the extreme violence of terrorists," he said.

In other operations yesterday:

-- Coalition forces and Iraqi
police captured 22 wanted people, two days after a Sons of Iraq citizen security group checkpoint was attacked in the northern city of Siniyah. The operation was aimed at finding people who did not choose to clear their names during the reconciliation period over the past few months in the adjacent city of Beiji, officials said. Some were also being sought for possible involvement in the checkpoint attack.

-- Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team discovered a bomb next to a school in southern Baghdad's Hadar community after receiving a tip from a concerned Iraqi citizen. An explosive ordnance disposal unit arrived on the scene and properly disposed of the 130 mm projectile.

-- Soldiers serving with the 25th Infantry Division's 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team seized a rocket, three 60 mm mortar rounds, five 120 mm mortar rounds and eight rocket-propelled grenade warheads north of Baghdad. Later in the evening, Iraqi soldiers found a 60 mm mortar round, a hand grenade and an RPG while on patrol in the Kadhamiyah district of Baghdad.

In other developments, soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team worked with Iraqi soldiers to seize a weapons cache in Baghdad's Sadr City district Sept. 24.

The munitions included six grenades, two grenade fuses, nearly three pounds of Iranian-manufactured C-4 explosives, two improvised firing devices, an electronic blasting cap and about 25 pounds of C-4 explosives in a garbage bag.

On Sept. 23, Marines assigned to Multinational Force West discovered an old weapons stockpile near Haditha. The Marines, with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, discovered the munitions while on patrol 20 miles west of the city. Among the contents of the find were about 10,000 82 mm rounds, 106 155 mm rounds, one 100 mm projectile, 19 rockets, and one rocket tube.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Poppy-Free Nangarhar Province Shows Afghanistan Improvements

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 26, 2008 - Things are looking up in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, a region that has been declared poppy-free and experiences little insurgent-generated violence, senior U.S. officials posted in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters today. The report was in contrast to a Pentagon briefing earlier in the day in which
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed increased tensions along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. Nangahar borders Pakistan, just east of Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul.

Shawn Waddoups and
Army Lt. Col. Gregory Allison, the U.S. State Department and military leaders, respectively, of Provincial Reconstruction Team Jalalabad that operates in Nangarhar, briefed President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai via video teleconference earlier today. Karzai is in Washington for meetings with Bush and other senior U.S. officials.

The 26 provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan comprise "a central part of the counterinsurgency strategy, which combines economic development, education, and infrastructure with security, all aiming to help this young democracy not only survive, but to thrive, so that it never becomes a safe haven for those who would do us harm," Bush said after the teleconference.

Karzai said "life was better" in his country, and he thanked Bush and the United States "for all that you have done for Afghanistan."

During the news conference, Waddoups recalled Nangarhar's Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai telling him about a year ago, "I'll be able to wipe out the poppy crop."

The governor did so by issuing an ultimatum to growers: plow up the poppy fields, or go to jail.

Today, Nangarhar province has been declared by a United Nations body as being poppy free, Waddoups said.

Poppy eradication is a major goal of the United Nations because the plants are processed into heroin, sold on the black market and used to fund terrorist groups.

Afghan farmers in Nangarhar province now grow onions, wheat and other food crops, Waddoups said. There is more interaction between Afghans and their government than in the past, he said, noting the myriad government-provided improvements consisting of new buildings, roads, schools, bridges and other infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the reconstruction team hopes to see the development of hydro-electric dams to generate power that can be used to establish food-processing factories and create much-needed jobs, said Allison, who's also commander of the 935th Agribusiness Development Team that serves Nangarhar province.

"The agriculture piece, of course, is a viable alternative (to poppy growing)," Allison said. "But, it's not a 'quick fix.' It takes time for crops to grow, and in some of the rural and remote areas, irrigation is a problem."

Irrigation is being addressed, but large amounts of electricity is needed to run factories that can process foodstuffs and provide jobs, Allison said. Fortunately, Nangarhar province has abundant water resources for hydro-electric power, he said.

"The electricity problem is particularly difficult," Waddoups said. However, Afghan leaders are looking to obtain resources for electricity-generating projects through internal funding or via the international donor community, he said.

The outstanding Afghan
Army and police in Nangarhar province "are in the lead" providing security for residents, Waddoups said. Improvised explosive devices constitute the main, but rarely seen, insurgent threat in the province, he said.

"The insurgents, frankly, they can't stand toe-to-toe with the Afghan security forces in our part of the country," Waddoups said.

Mullen Urges Calm as U.S. Deals with Pakistani Allies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 26, 2008 - While things are tense and dangerous in Pakistan, "that doesn't mean the sky is falling," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen offered the reassurance during a Pentagon news conference. He said the cross-border fire incident yesterday into Afghanistan does not mean America should over-react.

A Pakistani
military border checkpoint fired on two U.S. Kiowa helicopters flying inside Afghan airspace, NATO and U.S. officials said. A ground-based American patrol then exchanged fire with the checkpoint, they said.

The chairman urged calm during the tense situation. "It's time to recognize that we all – Pakistani, Afghan, American and others in the region – share a stake in a safe and secure Pakistan," he said.

Mullen said he believes all concerned can work out the problems.

The Pakistanis face a growing and increasingly lethal insurgency on the border and inside their country, the chairman said. The Taliban and al-Qaida groups threaten the security of Pakistan's newly elected government, and the leaders are aware of this threat, he said.

"They are dealing with extremist safe havens in the (Federally Administered Tribal Area), many of which are sheltered by local tribesmen," Mullen said. "And like so many other nations around the world, they confront economic woes that undercut their efforts to improve living conditions for their citizens."

Mullen has visited his Pakistani counterpart,
Army Gen. Parvez Kayani, half a dozen times this year.

"Despite the violence of the last few days, it's why I remain convinced that Pakistan's
military leaders understand the nature of the threat and are working hard to eliminate it," he said.

But this will take time, Mullen said.

"We've learned ourselves you don't take an
Army that was built to fight a conventional war and turn it into an effective counterinsurgency force overnight," he said. "And you don't defeat extremists or their ideologies solely with military power."

The Joint Staff is working with other agencies on a review of U.S.
military strategy for the entire border region, "not simply to identify problems, but to find multilateral solutions," Mullen said.

The chairman was encouraged by Afghan Defense Minister Wardak's suggestion for a joint Afghan-Pakistani force to patrol the border.

"Though much would need to be flushed out, it is precisely that sort of cooperation we need," he said. "Quite frankly, I believe some of the best solutions we may find are those not tied to
military power but rather to economic aid and assistance and other whole-of-government approaches."

All sides realize that no one gains from misunderstandings, harsh rhetoric or open conflict, Mullen said.

NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan cooperate in the Tripartite Meetings at the highest levels all the way to liaison between company level officers, Mullen said. The Afghans, Pakistanis and NATO are establishing five border cooperation centers to help eliminate the confusion. One is operating in Nangahar province, Afghanistan, and four more are scheduled for other spots on the border.

Mullen and Kayani have discussed the continuing commitment to reduce conflicts.

Militants Detained in Khowst, Ghazni Provinces

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 26, 2008 - Coalition forces detained two suspected militants during operations targeting a Haqqani terrorist network in Afghanistan's Khowst province yesterday, military officials reported. The operation targeted a suspected Haqqani militant in Sabari district, near the Pakistan border, who is suspected to be in direct contact with Haqqani commanders.

The targeted militant also is suspected to be an active participant in the intertwined financial, bomb-making and foreign terrorist network.

Elsewhere, coalition forces detained two suspected militants during an operation in Ghazni province Sept. 23. The two militants were detained for their suspected ties to a Taliban terrorist network and foreign fighter facilitation in Andar district.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Iraqi Detainees Return to Society Armed With Skills, Education

By Army Staff Sgt. Michel Sauret
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 25, 2008 - Coalition forces have returned nearly 13,000 Iraqi detainees to their families this year in the hopes that they will benefit a society they once helped fill with violence. The coalition's Joint Task Force 134 is working to reinstate between 30 and
45 detainees per day, and arming them with job skills and education before they are returned home.

"This is a process that shows the people of Iraq that we are working with the government of Iraq to reconcile the past," said
Navy Lt. Micah Brewer, of Oceanside, Calif., a representative of the Multinational Force Review Committee.

The detainees benefit from a number of programs to better their lives. Carpentry, art, literacy, civics classes and even a sewing shop are among the many classes available during detainment,

"This process helps get them back to a normal life and hopefully helps bring Iraq to a level of normalcy that provides stability and peace," added Brewer, who is stationed on Camp Cropper, an internment facility just south of Baghdad that holds roughly 3,000 detainees.

"(Sewing) is one of the most popular classes," Brewer said of the course, which is taught by a parachute rigger. "By the end of the class, the detainees can learn to mend clothes, and all of them make a small stuffed camel for their children."

Camp Bucca, located in the southern-most province of Iraq, holds about 16,000 detainees, and hosts an enrichment school offering such courses as arithmetic, Arabic reading and writing, English and social sciences, among others.

Currently, there are more than 2,300 students enrolled in the intra-compound schools, and more than 2,700 have completed basic education; an additional 250 students finished the higher-level courses.

Since August 2007, more than 12,000 detainees have participated in work programs, which yield an hourly salary to help provide for their families.

The Bucca compound also holds a vocational technical school, an arts-and-crafts shop, a library and different recreational activities.

In fact, Bucca detainees have been working to craft 200 desks, which will be delivered in October to nearby schools in support of renovation efforts.

"The detainees here are learning vocational skills and receiving an education to assist them in providing for their families and become productive citizens to help in the rebuilding of Iraq," said Capt. Michael Greene, of Kansas City, Mo., with the 42nd Military
Police Brigade at Camp Bucca.

The committee reviews nearly 700 cases each week, a process that allows review every six months for adults and every three months for juveniles, though women also hold priority over men. JTF 134 handles all the detainee operations throughout Iraq, as well as releases.

"They're able to present their case to a [review] board in a productive manner," Brewer said. "If they prove themselves to no longer be a security risk, the board will recommend they be reconciled back into society."

Fewer than one percent of citizens released have been recaptured due to criminal activity. Of the total number still detained, 4,500 are considered a high threat. They were captured for manufacturing bombs, direct involvement in attacks and confirmed membership in al-Qaida. The majority of the detainees in camps Bucca and Cropper were involved in a criminal activity - such as digging a hole on the side of the road or filling a hole with explosives - either because they were being paid or threatened to do so.

Prior to release, detainees are given a class that promotes peace, then they take an oath before an Iraqi judge stating they will not engage in terrorism or insurgency efforts.

"If one of these guys gets out and plants a (bomb), or kills a soldier or a Shiite or Sunni or anyone, and I find out about it, (I'll feel) I was part of a system that failed," Brewer said. "I know that this is war, and it is not perfect. But it reminds me that I need to take the job at hand seriously."

(Army Staff Sgt. Michel
Sauret works in the public affairs office of Multinational Division Center).