War on Terrorism

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Army Casualty

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

Master Sgt. Anthony Davis, 43, of Deerfield, Fla., died Nov. 24 in Baaj, Iraq, after being shot by an Iraqi Security Force soldier while he was conducting a dismounted humanitarian food drop. He was assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

For more information media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-3410.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Public Safety Technology in the News

Editor's Note: Many of these technologies are being used by state and local agencies in their homeland security/counter-terrorism missions.

Homeland Security and Justice Departments Providing More Info to Local Officers
The National Ledger, (11/16/2008), Jim Kouri

The U.S. Departments of
Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) have enhanced their biometric systems to improve information sharing with state and local agencies. The changes improve interoperability between the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). To target criminal aliens, a new database link can automatically check the criminal and immigration history of individuals incarcerated by local and state law enforcement. IDENT and IAFIS interoperability is key to Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's comprehensive plan to identify criminal aliens in local communities. Seven sites nationwide have participated in a pilot version of interoperability between the DHS and DOJ databases. The Customs agency plans to expand this capability to more than 50 state and local law enforcement agencies by next spring.
www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272623792.shtml

New
Police Car Scans License Plates, Sniffs Out Bombs
ABC News, (11/15/2008), Patrik Jonnsson

law enforcement professionals attending the International Association of Police Chiefs' annual meeting in November got their first look at a "purpose-built" Police Car. The Carbon E7 is a 300-horspower car that runs on biodiesel fuel. It is equipped with sensors for weapons of mass destruction and automatic license-plate scanners. Carbon Motors would need to sell about 20,000 cars to U.S. law enforcement agencies to warrant its proposed 2010 production run. In designing the vehicle, the company included ideas gleaned from law enforcement officers, including a "hoseable" rear seat, an extra-wide driver's seat into a cockpit-style front compartment and side emergency lights to increase visibility and safety. The vehicle sticker price has not yet been announced.
abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=6254509&page=1

Improved Measurements Could Mean Safer, More Reliable Electroshock Weapons
ScienceDaily, (11/14/2008)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) are working toward a standard method for assessing the electrical output of electroshock weapons. In recent years, conducted-energy devices such as stun guns have become popular among law enforcement agencies as less-lethal weapons. Questions have been raised about whether the devices can contribute to or cause death in some individuals. Groups such as Amnesty International have called for guidelines that include "threshold exposures," which are the minimum level that would incapacitate different groups of people without putting them at risk for injury or death. However, current reports on the voltage the weapons deliver are inconsistent. NIST scientists have developed methods for calibrating the high-voltage and current measurement probes used by industry. More research is needed, but eventually NIST will work with government agencies and the law enforcement community to standardize the method that ! will facilitate establishment of user guidelines.
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113140420.htm

Crime Cartography
The Diamondback, (11/11/2008), Kyle Goon

Police at the University of Maryland will soon be able to directly contribute crime data to the crime-mapping Web site www.UCrime.com. UCrime relies on police departments, newspapers, user reports and university incident logs to find crime data and plot it on a Google map. Crimes are classified by category and include descriptions of what happened. University police want to upload the university's crime information for crime mapping purposes.
media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2008/11/10/News/Crime.Cartography-3536238.shtml

Californian Prisons Employ Robotic Scouts
Gizmag, (11/04/2008)

California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to test remote-controlled surveillance robots. Roughly 250 of the 1.2-pound Recon Scouts are used by
law enforcement agencies in the United States and military personnel in Iraq. Ten robots will be tested in California prisons. During hostile prison situations, the robots can be thrown into place or fired from a tear-gas launcher. They can survive a 30-foot drop onto concrete and can be operated from up to 100 feet away using a handheld controller, which displays footage from the robot. The robots cost $6,000 ($9,000 with an infrared camera).
www.gizmag.com/californian-prisons-employ-robotic-scouts/10306/

States Complete Radiation Detection Drill
Global Security Newswire, (11/07/2008)

Nine states and the District of Columbia recently completed a practice exercise to test their ability to cope with a nuclear or radiological attack. The exercise, which ran several days, tested the coordination capabilities in the southeastern region of the United States. The exercise was the end result of the Southeast Transportation Corridor Pilot Program, which emphasized training, improved communications
Technology and emergency protocols to improve regional nuclear detection and response capabilities.
www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081107_5287.php

BMV Joins Identity Theft Fight
Indianapolis Star, (11/07/2008), Gretchen Becker

An Indiana agency is testing face-recognition
Technology for driver's licenses to help fight identity theft. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles will test the Technology at three of its Indianapolis branches as part of a pilot program. A $2.4 million software program scans the millions of photos in the database to determine if a photo is on a different credential with a different name. The software looks for matching points on the face, such as the distance between pupils, and compares those to other images with the same data points. The system reports any suspect names and faces. About 20 states are using the Technology.
www.indystar.com/article/20081107/LOCAL/811070442

Wichita Falls Unified Command Post is Ready for Operation
Texomas, (11/14/08), Sara DiMuro

The city of
Wichita Falls, Texas, has a new rolling command center to help cope up close with long-term situations such as standoffs, environmental hazards and weather disasters. The $400,000 center, which was funded with federal grant money, is available for use across north Texas. The unit has full telephone and dispatch capability, infrared night vision and a camera mounted on the top.
texomashomepage.com/content/fulltext/?cid=22831

New
Technology in Bonneville Co. Will Help Find Missing Children
KPVI-TV, (10/31/08), Andrew Del Greco

The Bonneville County Sheriff's Office in Idaho is the latest jurisdiction to obtain iris scan
Technology as a tool to locate lost children. The sheriff's office will share the Technology with other agencies in the state. Should an adult or child go missing, if their eyes have been scanned their identification can be sent digitally across the United States. Young children may not know their names or phone numbers and can be identified with an iris scan. Thirty-five states currently use the Technology.
www.kpvi.com/Global/story.asp?S=9276017

Green Prisons Farm, Recycle to Save Energy, Money
Associated Press, (11/01/08), Phuong Le

Corrections facilities are discovering the benefits of going green. Prison officials find that using inmates to keep bees, recycle, and grow organic vegetables reduces costs, lowers the impact on the environment and provides inmates with new skills. Agencies are replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones and installing solar panels. Because of a water shortage this summer, inmates in the North Carolina's prison system converted 50-gallon pickle barrels into small cisterns to capture rainwater. The green practices instituted by the Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Washington state has resulted in the facility using 250,000 fewer gallons of water a year and saving $6,000 to $8,400 annually on garbage bills.
ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gW-MYyvVx600Ql2nvH6z6Ybk9yJQD946B0CO0

Company Provides 'Joe' for Deploying Louisiana Soldiers

By Army Sgt. Rebekah L. Malone
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - When soldiers from
Louisiana National Guard headquarters and Headquarters Company, 225th Engineer Brigade, received their mobilization orders, thoughts of what they would be leaving behind for the next year ran across their minds.

But thanks to one local company, the familiar aroma of a local morning brew will be going with them. Community Coffee has volunteered to donate the local favorite to
Louisiana's deploying soldiers, and this is not the first time.

Army Master Sgt. Danny A. Riggs, a resident of Carville, La., deployed with the 205th Engineer Battalion in 2003. "Community Coffee donated to the 205th when we deployed to Afghanistan," he said. "I was excited to hear that they were willing to provide us coffee this time around as well."

During a deployment, with many of the comforts of home left behind, Riggs said, it is imperative to try and have a part of home wherever the soldier is located to help with morale.

"It was nice to have a local coffee this good and not to have to worry our families with coffee requests to mail it over," he said.

Community Coffee prepared a pallet of more than 650 canisters of coffee ready for the engineers to pick up from a warehouse in Baton Rouge. The coffee will be packed in containers and shipped to Iraq when the 225th deploys after Thanksgiving.

The donation of nearly $3,500 worth of coffee is estimated to make 28,000 eight-ounce cups of coffee.

The
Military-friendly business also sends comfort to Louisiana's troops by sponsoring a promotion to match coffee purchased for soldiers called "Military Match."

The idea came about when the corporation heard that the No. 1 item requested by
Louisiana troops overseas is Community Coffee and the No. 1 miscellaneous item requested is a microwavable coffee mug.

"If somebody buys a
Military Match gift box, they are buying 4 pounds of coffee. We will then match an additional 4 pounds free," said Scott Raposo, consumer direct marketing manager for Community Coffee. "This is just something we feel honored [to do]. We want to demonstrate our support for the troops that are serving our country and protecting our freedoms.

"It's a good thing for us to do," he continued. "We hope it brings somebody a little comfort to have some normalcy in their day having their Community Coffee [while deployed]."

(
Army Sgt. Rebekah L. Malone serves in the Louisiana National Guard with the 225th Engineer Brigade.)

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 26, 2008

In [2001] anthrax probe, focus on [Steven J.] Hatfill relied on informants
“Authorities probing the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks fixed on now-cleared scientist Steven J. Hatfill primarily because confidential informants said they had talked with him about his purported involvement in Rhodesian bioweapons initiatives, according to court documents released yesterday. […] Mark A. Grannis, an attorney for Hatfill, [said] ‘[…] the affidavits released today cite sources whose names are unknown and whose credibility cannot be tested. Our repeated experience has been that people make wild accusations in secret, only to retract them under public questioning […].’ […] The main sworn statement, by FBI Special Agent Mark Morin, cites a tip from a confidential informant about Hatfill's alleged activities in Rhodesia in the late 1970s.” (Washington Post; 25Nov08; Carrie Johnson and Del Quentin Wilber) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/11/25/AR2008112502784.html?hpid=moreheadlines

First responders: flu shots administered [CA]
“Hundreds of San Luis Obispo County [CA] employees received a shot in the arm last Thursday as part of a mass vaccination drill […]. […]Vaccines were administered for three consecutive hours in the morning and for another three hours in the afternoon. […] Health emergencies that could require a mass vaccination of the public involve situations where a large number of people have been exposed to a disease or toxic agent — anthrax, smallpox, influenza or the plague — that could make them sick, according to Health Agency officials.” (Times Press Recorder; 26Nov08; TPR Staff) http://www.timespressrecorder.com/articles/2008/11/26/news/slocounty/news10.txt

Zimbabwe: anthrax hits the south
“Matabeleland North provincial medical director, Dr Gibson Mhlanga, confirmed the deaths of two people from anthrax, but a report in the official The Chronicle newspaper said six had died and over 200 cattle had been wiped out in the province's Dongamuzi area […]. The government dispatched its disaster management
Civil Protection Unit (CPU) to Lupane last week to work with the Veterinary Services Department to vaccinate affected cattle in a bid to contain the disease. Anthrax will further strain Zimbabwe's crumbling health delivery system, which has failed to contain a cholera outbreak […]. Medical officials in Lupane said the people who had succumbed to anthrax over the past week had eaten meat from infected cattle; several other villagers in the district have been hospitalised.” (Speroforum; 25Nov08; Source: IRIN)
http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=16855

Toxin suspect [Edward Bachner]’s lawyer explains household items [IL]
“Needles and syringes found in the home of a Lake in the Hills man accused of illegally having a lethal toxin were being used for his wife’s fourth round of in vitro fertilization, his lawyer says. Defense attorney James Marcus filed another motion Tuesday to have his client, Edward F. Bachner IV, freed on bond while awaiting trail after being denied Nov. 3. Court documents offer the defense’s explanation for a number of things that prosecutors used against Bachner to keep him in jail. For example, in addition to the ‘multiple needles and syringes’prosecutors said were uncovered when the FBI raided Bachner’s home June 30, they also found a manual that deals with the effective doses for poisoning people. Marcus said the book is a tool for authors of
crime novels so that they accurately portray the actions of their characters.” (Northwest Herald; 26Nov08; Sarah Sutschek) http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2008/11/26/news/local/doc492d2e79c6ad0116207309.txt

Argentina: curious toxins discovered
“Argentine
police arrested Mario Roberto Segovia, allegedly the largest supplier of ephedrine to Mexican drug cartels, and raided his home in Rosario, Argentina, on Nov. 24. Segovia is suspected of having sent more than 18,000 pounds of ephedrine to Mexico since September 2006, Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported. […] More important, Segovia was found to be in possession of 500 grams each of ricinine and aconitine. These substances are known toxins — ricinine is derived from the castor bean, as is the toxin ricin — and are lethal to humans in doses of just a few grams. Argentine police also suggested that Segovia may have connections to terrorist organizations.” (Stratfor; 26Nov08; Source: La Nacion) http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20081125_argentina_curious_toxins_discovered

The legacy of chemical warfare [Iran/Iraq War]
“Set in a carefully tended park in the centre of the capital [Tehran], the new [war] museum — inspired by existing ones in Hiroshima and Ypres — will also serve as a centre for surviving victims of the war, especially for the thousands of Iranians who were injured in chemical warfare attacks unleashed by Saddam Hussein's forces. […] 60,000 Iranians [were] injured in chemical warfare attacks in what the Islamic Republic still calls the ‘imposed war’ or the ‘sacred defence.’ It was the first time since the
First World War that mustard gas was used and the first time ever that nerve agents such as Sarin and Tabun were employed. Iran complained bitterly that the raw materials were supplied to Iraq by western companies while the US and other governments ‘tilted’ towards Saddam and looked the other way […].” (The Guardian; 26Nov08; Ian Black) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/26/iran-iraq-war

History Channel films [chemical weapons site] at Glenbrook [Australia]
“Although the connection might at first seem incongruous, the [Glenbrook] tunnel’s recently revealed history as a storage site for chemical weapons during World War II made it an ideal subject for the History Channel series, Cities of the Underworld. Presenter Don Wildman filmed segments for the episode earlier this month, […] interviewing two former RAAF [Royal Australian
Air Force] armourers at the old railway tunnel. Now used as a mushroom farm, the tunnel housed enough mustard gas to wipe out the population of Sydney during World War II.” (Blue Mountains Gazette; 26Nov08; Damien Madigan) http://bluemountains.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/history-channel-films-at-glenbrook/1370458.aspx

Senegal hosts meet[ing] on risks of chemical attacks
“A meeting […] for the French-speaking countries in Africa [to] increase [the] capacity of African countries [to] face […] chemical attacks or accidents will be held from 27 to 28 November in Dakar […]. The meeting, which will be attended by eight French-speaking countries in Africa, including hosts Senegal, is being organised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in partnership with the National Commission against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, OPCW said.” (African Press Agency, 26Nov08)
http://www.apanews.net/apa.php?page=show_article_eng&id_article=81509

On the trail with the nuke hunters [DC]
“President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office in 57 days. And security, of course, will be extremely tight. […] From the skies over Washington, a super-secret government team is training for the ultimate terrorist threat. […] CBS News rode along for an exclusive look at a drill aimed at finding stolen radioactive cesium - a potential ingredient for a dirty bomb. […] A spike on a radiation monitor signals the chopper is zeroing in on the radioactive source. […] But, in big cities like Washington, where millions of people will gather for January's presidential inauguration, nukes and dirty explosives laced with radiation could be difficult to detect. […] So far, the team has made radiation maps of the nation's top-two terror targets: Washington and New York.
Chicago is next.” (CBS11TV; 24Nov08; Bob Orr) http://cbs11tv.com/national/radiation.security.inauguration.2.873256.html

CNS ChemBio-WMD
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.

Marine Casualty

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

Capt. Warren A. Frank, 26, of Cincinnati, Ohio, died Nov. 25 while supporting combat operations in Ninewa province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liasion Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the Okinawa public affairs office at 011-81-611-745-0790 or OkinawaPAO@usmc.mil.

Coalition Kills 32 Militants, Captures 10 Others in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - Coalition and Afghan forces killed 32 militants and captured 10 suspected militants today and yesterday during operations to disrupt terrorist networks in Afghanistan, military officials said. Coalition forces were fired on today while clearing a compound believed to be a command and control center for roadside bombs in Kandahar province. Forces returned fire, killing 15 insurgents and detaining six.

Also today, militants fired on coalition and Afghan forces with machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Helmand province. The forces returned fire, killing seven militants. During the operation, forces protected more than 300 local villagers from enemy fire, officials said.

Forces searched the area and seized caches that included bomb-making materials, homemade explosives, mortar rounds and 175 pounds of opium.

Yesterday, coalition forces targeted a suspected senior Taliban commander in Paktia province. The man, believed to be a liaison between the al-Qaida and Taliban terrorist networks, is suspected of aiding movement of foreign fighters into Afghanistan, officials said.

Multiple militants, some of whom were barricaded inside the compound, attacked coalition forces with small-arms fire. Forces returned fire, killing five armed militants.

Elsewhere, coalition forces targeted a man in Paktia province suspected of being a sub-commander in the Haqqani terrorist network. The man is believed to be responsible for planning and conducting attacks against coalition forces in the region and moving terrorist weapons and supplies, officials said.

As coalition forces approached the targeted compound, two armed militants attacked them with small-arms fire. The forces returned fire, killing both men. Militants from inside the compound then fired on the forces, who directed people inside to surrender. Eight women and 11 children left the building unharmed and were moved to a safe location.

After the small-arms fire continued, forces returned fire, killing three militants and capturing four other suspected militants. Forces seized multiple weapons inside the compound.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

Troops in Iraq Capture 14 Suspected Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - Coalition forces captured 14 suspected terrorists today during operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist networks,
military officials said. Forces captured two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists today near Haditha, northwest of Baghdad. The men, based in Beiji, are believed to have ties to bombing networks, officials said. Forces also detained four other suspects.

Elsewhere, forces captured a wanted man and an associate in Tuz Khurmatu, southeast of Kirkuk. The man is suspected of being an al-Qaida in Iraq administrative operative and explosives facilitator with ties to al-Qaida operatives outside of Iraq.

Also today, forces netted two men suspected of being associated with an al-Qaida in Iraq bomb operative. Forces also captured four suspected terrorists near Dawr, north of Baghdad, while targeting a Sumarra-area terrorist cell leader.

In operations yesterday:

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted man believed to be an al-Qaida in Iraq operative in Qayarrah, south of Mosul. The man is suspected of actively planning a car bomb attack in Sharqat. Forces also detained another suspect.

-- Coalition and Iraqi forces targeted al-Qaida in Iraq
military leaders near Hawijah, southwest of Kirkuk. The forces captured a suspected terrorist believed to be connected to an al-Qaida in Iraq leader, along with another man.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained a suspected terrorist in southern Baghdad's Hadar community.

-- Acting on a tip, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers seized a 155 mm projectile northwest of Baghdad.

In separate Nov. 24 operations, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers and Iraqi National
Police in southern Baghdad's Rashid district seized six AK-47 assault rifles and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists.

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

University Donates Textbooks, English Materials to Iraqis

By Nita R. Fulford
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - In a country with a desperate need for engineers, two 402nd Army Field Support Brigade contractors are bridging an Oregon university with Iraqi students and faculty thirsty for knowledge. About 200 students and teachers from Dhi Qar University are the beneficiaries of new engineering textbooks from the Oregon State University College of Engineering delivered during a Nov. 11 ceremony that marked the beginning of an exchange program to enhance higher education.

Joshua Mater, president of the Michael Scott Mater Foundation, and Jesus Quispe, vice president of the foundation, presented Chancellor Ali Ismael Obeidi al-Snafi of Dhi Qar University with the books, worth $20,000, as well as English-as-a-second-language materials from the Book Wish Foundation and Oxford University Press. The English materials are from the Headway Program, which teaches English as a second language.

Mater credited
Army Col. Robert P. Sullivan, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade commander, and Army Lt. Col. Joe Hart, commander of the brigade's 2nd Battalion, with facilitating the donation.

"Thanks to the support of Colonel Sullivan and Lieutenant Colonel Hart of the 402nd AFSB, we are one step closer to making this partnership a reality," Mater said.

The brigade is part of the Army Sustainment Command's global logistics support network. Sullivan requested the support of
leadership and approved the manpower to execute the mission, and many members of the 2nd Battalion worked in various capacities to facilitate the project.

Mater is the 402nd AFSB's operations officer, and Quispe is the redistribution property accountability team administrator for the brigade's 2nd Battalion logistics function. Both work for Honeywell Technology Solutions.

The Michael Scott Mater Foundation is a nonprofit group that aims to provide better education for poor students and communities around the world by providing education, life skills, equal rights, values and a caring environment, according to the foundation's Web site.

With the Iraq project, the foundation worked with representatives of both universities to develop a relationship that will benefit both through cooperative learning, Mater said. The primary initiatives are to develop an exchange program that will target engineering and English language majors at the master's degree level and develop professional training seminars focused on Iraqi city planners, engineers and public servants, he added.

Mater, an OSU graduate and former
Army captain who spent eight months helping to rebuild Iraq, drew on his alma mater to continue his work.

"More than any other time in recent history, Iraq's destiny is of its own choosing," he said. "The youth of this country did not seek, nor did they provoke, strict limitations on what they are able to achieve. They did not expect, nor did they invite, a confrontation with fundamentalism. Yet, the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master those moments when they do arrive.

"This is a time for Iraqi heroes. They will do what is hard and achieve what is great."

The foundation is named for Mater's father, Michael Scott Mater, who was president of Mater Engineering of Corvallis, Ore. He was at the forefront of community development and improvement projects, and died of cancer in 2002.

The textbook exchange was a collaboration of multiple entities, Mater said. In addition to OSU and Dhi Qar University, it also included the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. State Department, the Book Wish Foundation, Honeywell Technology Solutions, and the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Hood, Texas, as well as officials at Contingency Operations Base Adder and 402nd AFSB
leadership at Joint Base Balad, both in Iraq.

"This exchange program represents a new trend in partnering between American and Iraqi universities," Ali, the chancellor, said.

Where traditional relationships usually rely on national government intervention, this program will bring the two university leaders together at Oregon State in early 2009 to discuss curriculum structuring and formalize an agreement that will enable students from Dhi Qar University to study at OSU, Mater said.

"We are bound together by centuries of commitments by those who came before us to a love of learning, an abiding search for truths and a sense of duty to find solutions for the problems of humanity," OSU President Ed Ray wrote in a letter to Ali for the textbook exchange.

(Nita R. Fulford works at the 402nd
Army Field Support Brigade.)

Face of Defense: Corpsman Recalls Firefight That Earned Navy Cross

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - As the Marines in 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion advanced to secure the northern bridge in Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23, 2003, it seemed to then-Seaman Apprentice Luis Fonseca, a
Navy hospital corpsman, that all hell had broken loose. "As we came up and over the bridge, we ran right into an ambush," he said from his current assignment aboard the USS Bataan. "They threw all they had at us -- small-arms fire, heavy machine-gun fire, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and artillery rounds."

That's when Fonseca got the call from then-Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. David Myers, asking him to check on the Marines in one of the vehicles that had been hit.

Trading his communications helmet for Kevlar, the corpsman on his first deployment grabbed his medical bag and headed for the vehicle, which by then was in flames. Five Marines had suffered at least shrapnel wounds.

"I noticed I had two patients with partial lower-leg amputations, one with flash burns to his eyes, and all had shrapnel wounds," Fonseca said. "I applied tourniquets on the two Marines with the partial leg amputations and instructed the other Marines around to apply battle dressings on the others that were wounded."

Fonseca decided to move the wounded Marines to his vehicle to get them out of the middle of what became a six-and-a-half-hour firefight. After reassessing wounds and administering morphine to the two troops with partial leg amputations, Fonseca got a call that another vehicle had been hit.

Normally, the column is lined up in numerical order. In the midst of the firefight, as the vehicles maneuvered to gain an advantage, they got out of order.

Fonseca couldn't find vehicle C206 and returned to his own vehicle just as the enemy got what he described as four lucky hits.

"Two of them were on our right side. One was on our center top hatch. All three were ... 122 mm mortar rounds," he said. "The fourth and final round that disabled the truck was a recoilless rifle round that blew up our transmission."

When the smoke cleared, the wounded Marines were transferred to another vehicle and moved out of the area -- all but one.

"I picked up the last Marine ... and carried him to a ditch," Fonseca said. "The Marine and I sat in the ditch for about 30 minutes before I could get another vehicle to pick us up and drive us out of there."

When Fonseca had gotten all his patients to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines' corpsman, he turned around and headed back to the fight, where he rejoined his platoon.

"We lost about 18 Marines that day," he said. "Fifteen others were wounded and left the battlefield, and about 10 others [who] were wounded ... stayed."

Fonseca, now a petty officer 2nd class, treated about a dozen Marines during that firefight, and as far as he knows, all of them survived their injuries. He was determined not to let them down. "As long as I was alive, I would keep working, even if it meant my life," he said.

Fonseca was awarded the
Navy Cross for his efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of the Marines under his care during the battle of Nasiriyah.

Though he was honored to have received it, he said, he doesn't feel the medal truly belongs to him.

"The Navy Cross means to me honor, sacrifice and loyalty," Fonseca said. "Honor because it is my honor to wear the
Navy Cross for my brothers that gave their lives in that fight. So, it's my honor to wear their Navy Cross that honors them. A lot of men sacrificed that day. Unfortunately, some families and friends had to sacrifice their loved ones."

Since that first tour in Iraq, Fonseca has been back to Iraq once, and has served a tour in Afghanistan. He is married, and the couple has two sons.

Cooperation Grows Between Afghan, U.S. Forces

By Army Sgt. Zach Otto
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - Whether it is a routine patrol or a weapons search, U.S. and Afghan forces increasingly are working together to halt the violence that has haunted Afghanistan for more than 30 years. In the early stages of winter in Afghanistan, creeks begin to freeze as the temperature drops. Everything and everyone seems to slow down and hibernate for the cold weather. But the soldiers with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, won't hibernate this winter.

Before the sunrise on Nov. 12, many of these soldiers awoke to feel the air crisp in their lungs as they prepared to set out on a foot patrol, while others loaded up in vehicles to patrol local villages. The combined operation consisted of U.S. and Afghan soldiers and Afghan National
Police who searched mountainsides and local villages for weapons caches suspected to be hidden deep within the mountains of eastern Afghanistan's Paktika province.

"The [combined] operations work much better now than they did in the past," said
Army 1st Sgt. Darrin Yuhn, embedded training team command sergeant major and mentor to the 203rd Kandak, an Afghan National Army unit that's the equivalent of a U.S. Army battalion. "The Afghan forces are a lot more involved with the planning of operations."

The operations aren't random; they're driven by intelligence. "Our mission changes every day,"
Army Spc. Walter Hresent, an Alpha Company radio transmitter operator, explained. "We get all kinds of intelligence, and we go from there."

This search near Combat Outpost Zirok was for rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms munitions. After a short convoy through a run-off canal, the vehicles came to halt near a small village.

"We disrupt the insurgents' operations in the area by doing patrols," Hresent said. "They do not like us being out there, but it is working. We have not been attacked in a while."

The soldiers split into two groups after hearing that two possible caches had been located, one near the village and the other about an hour's walk over and around mountains.

The Afghan soldiers went first into the mountains. After a half hour of walking, they realized that the cache was not where they thought it was. The patrol continued into another small village, where villagers were questioned about the whereabouts of the weapons. The soldiers then headed back to base. Although no cache was found, the patrol still had positive effects on the area.

"Most of the patrols we do are us moving out to the different areas, making our presence known and interacting,"
Army 1st Lt. Dan Huff, the Alpha Company executive officer, said. "We show the people that we are not scared of the insurgents and that we are here to help them."

(
Army Sgt. Zach Otto serves with Combined Joint Task Force 101.)

Supply Center Provides Thanksgiving Meals to Troops Overseas

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 26, 2008 - U.S. troops serving in the Middle East will dine on a traditional Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, thanks to the efforts of Defense Supply Center Philadelphia employees. The supply center has sent thousands of pounds of food – including more than 120,000 pounds of turkey and more than 170,000 pies -- to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Dubai and Djibouti.

The center has sent the following items overseas for tomorrow's meal:

-- Whole turkey: 121,108 pounds, worth $323,228.60;
-- Turkey breast meat: 109,780 pounds, worth $437,991.49;
-- Turkey thigh meat: 145,780 pounds, worth $361,852.66;
-- Ham: 95,826 pounds, worth $263,199.92;
-- Beef: 178,466 pounds, worth $1,139,970.37;
-- Shrimp: 131,359 pounds, worth $1,712,960.70;
-- Stuffing mix: 16,874 containers, worth $149,025.40;
-- Potatoes: 14,308 containers, worth $64,181.47;
-- Sweet potatoes, 56,104 cans, worth $137,584.15;
-- Cranberry sauce, 10,994 cans, worth $74,683.30;
-- Corn: 32,535 pounds, worth $155,874.42; and
-- Assorted pies: 179,810 individual pies, worth $1,451,491.36.

The center, part of the Defense Logistics Agency, annually supplies $13.4 billion worth of food, clothing and textiles, medicines, medical equipment, construction and equipment supplies and services to servicemembers and their families and other federal customers worldwide.

(From a Defense Logistics Agency news release.)

Coalition in Afghanistan Kills Six Militants, Captures 12

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2008 - Coalition forces killed six armed militants and captured 12 suspected militants yesterday during operations to disrupt terrorist networks in Afghanistan's Kapisa and Paktika provinces. In Kapisa province, coalition forces targeted a man suspected of being a commander in Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, a group coalition forces in Afghanistan consider to be a terrorist organization. The man is suspected of trafficking large-scale weapons used for attacks in the region and coordinating recent attacks on coalition and Afghan forces and civilians.

During the operation, militants attacked coalition forces with small-arms fire. Coalition forces responded, killing five of the militants and capturing seven other suspects, while safeguarding 11 women and 18 children.

After a search of the compound, forces seized AK-47 assault rifles and other
military equipment.

In Paktika province, coalition forces killed one armed militant and captured five others while targeting a man suspected of association with the Haqqani terrorist network. He is suspected of facilitating the movement of weapons and foreign fighters into the region.

An armed militant attacked coalition forces as they entered the targeted building. Coalition forces responded with small-arms fire, killing him. Forces also confronted a militant holding an explosive device detonator in his hand. The militant surrendered.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

Coalition Kills Two Terrorists, Captures Nine in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2008 - Coalition forces killed two terrorists and captured nine additional suspects today and yesterday during operations targeting terrorist networks in Iraq. Coalition forces killed two terrorists while striking an al-Qaida in Iraq foreign terrorist network yesterday southwest of Mosul.

When coalition forces approached a vehicle with a suspected terrorist inside, two men got out and attacked the soldiers with small-arms fire. Coalition forces returned fire, killing the men. One of the attackers was later determined to be a wanted man.

In the vehicle, coalition forces found multiple rifles, three rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 12 grenades and a suicide vest.

Today, coalition forces netted two men believed to be associated with the leader of Mosul's bombing network. Coalition forces also captured two men while targeting al-Qaida in Iraq senior
leadership in Baghdad. North of Baghdad, forces captured two men believed to be associates of a senior courier in al-Qaida in Iraq's Diyala network.

Yesterday, coalition forces captured a wanted man believed to be a terrorist cell leader in Beiji, south of Mosul. North of Baghdad, forces captured two suspects believed to be associated with a car-bomb cell leader in Tikrit.

In other operations:

-- Coalition forces and Iraqi security forces arrested a man believed to be a leader in an Iranian-backed illegal militia along with two other suspects Nov. 21 in Qurna in central Iraq. The leader is suspected of having worked with Iranian intelligence for three years, helping to smuggle weapons, money and information into Iraq to facilitate enemy activities, officials said.

-- Iraqi and coalition forces captured a suspected terrorist Nov. 21 believed to have ties to the al-Qaida in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq terrorist groups while targeting terrorist
leadership in northern Iraq's Ninevah province. The man is suspected of facilitating foreign fighters, displaced insurgents and equipment through Mosul, officials said.

-- Iraqi soldiers arrested a man Nov. 21 believed to be trained to assassinate Iraqi special forces officials.

-- An Iraqi special weapons and tactics team arrested a suspected
criminal Nov. 21 during a raid to disrupt criminal operations in central Iraq's Babil province. The SWAT team detained another suspect in Hayy Askari, also in central Iraq, believed to have ties to transporting weapons, kidnappings and roadside-bomb attacks against Iraqi special forces.

-- Iraqi soldiers captured a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist Nov. 20 in northern Iraq's Farhatiya area. The man is believed to have aided foreign fighters, officials said.

-- Iraqi special operations forces captured a suspected
criminal during an operation Nov. 20 in Baghdad's West Rashid district.

Other recent operations resulted in seizure of enemy weapons stockpiles:

-- Multinational Division Baghdad and Iraqi soldiers seized a weapons cache south of Baghdad yesterday consisting of artillery rounds, 57 mm rockets, boxes of 25 mm and 30 mm ammunition and other
military equipment. Later, a tip led Iraqi soldiers to a cache hidden in front of an apartment building. The cache included two mortars, a fuse and an illumination round.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers confiscated a weapons cache north of Baghdad yesterday consisting of anti-aircraft guns and other
military equipment. Lst night, soldiers seized a weapons cache that included machine guns, rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, RPG warheads, RPG boosters, RPG sights, half-loaded AK-47 assault rifle magazines, AK-47 ammunition, MK-19 rounds, professional-grade TNT, two improvised explosive devices and other military equipment.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers confiscated a weapons cache northwest of Baghdad yesterday consisting of a 120 mm mortar round, 60 mm mortar rounds, anti-aircraft guns and other military equipment. Later, Iraqi soldiers seized a munitions cache north of Baghdad that included high-explosive projectiles and a blasting cap.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers seized a weapons cache northwest of Baghdad Nov. 23 that consisted of a 127 mm missile motor and a machine gun. Later that day, soldiers seized another weapons cache consisting of 155 mm projectiles, SA-7 rocket, 60 mm mortar, 130 mm rockets, 130 mm rocket warheads, 100 mm projectiles, land mines and other
military equipment.

-- An Iraqi special weapons and tactics team discovered a weapons cache in northern Iraq on Nov. 20 that included bomb-making materials.

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

Afghan Troops, Police Continue to Improve as Numbers Grow, General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2008 - The performance of Afghanistan's
army and constabulary continues to improve while more soldiers and police are trained and fielded, the senior U.S. military officer responsible for their training said today. Afghan National army and police units "are leading in the fight here today," Army Maj. Gen. Robert W. Cone, chief of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, told reporters during a satellite-carried news conference at the National Press Club here. Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan's mission is to partner with the Afghan government and the international community to train Afghan security forces.

Afghan army units take the lead "in about 60 percent of the operations they participate in," Cone said, noting Afghan soldiers have proved themselves to be "an effective fighting force."

Meanwhile, the ANA is undergoing expansion, Cone said. About 68,000 Afghan soldiers are now in the field, he said, with plans to field more than 130,000 trained troops eventually.

Last year, Cone said, about 26,000 Afghan National
army troops were trained by U.S., coalition and Afghan instructors working for Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Another 28,000 or so Afghan troops will be trained this year, he said.

At the same time, Afghan army equipment is being upgraded, Cone said, noting that up-armored Humvees and modern NATO-issued weapons and other gear are replacing older vehicles and weaponry derived from the Warsaw Pact.

Similar progress is being realized with Afghan National
police units, Cone said.

"They, too, are leading in this counter-insurgency war," Cone said. The police, he said, are bearing the brunt of casualties during engagements against Taliban or al-Qaida fighters.

"The Afghan National
police currently suffer about 56 percent of those killed in action here in Afghanistan," Cone reported, noting that police casualties "are more than double the rate for either the ANA or coalition forces."

Cone suggested that Afghan soldiers have a training advantage over their police counterparts. The United States and its partner nations have been training Afghan army troops for about five years, Cone said, while Afghanistan's
police training only began about a year ago.

More than 22,000 Afghan police have been retrained over the past year, Cone said, noting that number amounts to more than a quarter of Afghanistan's national police force.

"We're very pleased with our progress, but we have more to do," Cone said. Ongoing police-reform and improvement programs, he said, include training for district officers as well as border
police.

Fifty-two companies of Afghan border police will be trained up over this winter at a cost of $70 million, Cone said, while 165 permanent border facilities will be constructed at a cost of about $800 million.

Afghanistan's long, rugged eastern border with Pakistan has proved problematic in recent months, as al-Qaida and Taliban fighters camped in Pakistan have been conducting cross-border raids into Afghan territory.

"We believe the increased security and stability along the border and throughout the country will be worth the investment in Afghanistan," Cone said.

Though Afghan soldiers and
police continue to improve, Cone said, there's still a long way to go, and a sustained international effort is necessary to achieve ultimate success.

"This is especially true in reforming the Afghan National
police," Cone said. "We welcome the international community involvement, especially in providing police trainers and mentors."

Army Casualty

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

1st Lt. William K. Jernigan, 35, of Doraville, Ga., died Nov. 24 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

For more information the media may contact the U.S. Army, Alaska, public affairs office at (907) 384-1542.

Team Brings Reliable Electricity to Afghan Village

By Army Capt. Dustin Hart
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2008 - Members of the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province joined residents of Qasaba village during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a newly installed electric transformer Nov. 22. The PRT funded the $35,000 project, which will provide a more constant power source to more than 3,000 people in the small village outside the team's base near Jalalabad.

"This was a great project to be a part of, because it allows us to directly help the people who live near us," said
Air Force Capt. Lisa Leon, lead engineer for the PRT. "It lets us return some of the hospitality that has been shown to us so far."

The village had only limited access to electricity prior to the project, but the new transformer will allow the villagers to power their shops, machinery and homes.

"[The PRT] did a good job on this transformer, and the people are really appreciative for the help," said Ataullah, a young Qasaba villager, during the ceremony.

The increased power is especially helpful for the young people of the village, he said, because they now have more power for educational and recreational items such as computers, televisions and radios.

Helping to improve the Afghan people's lives is what the PRT's mission is all about, Leon said.

"The village had unreliable power before, but now they can flip a switch and know that the lights will work," she said. "That's the impact the Afghan government and PRT are working toward here, and I am so happy I could be a part of this."

(
Army Capt. Dustin Hart of the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team serves with the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team.)

Farmers Market Construction Proceeds Ahead of Schedule

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2008 - Construction of the Central Euphrates Farmers Market, scheduled to open in Iraq's Babil province by the end of the year, is proceeding ahead of schedule, officials said. The $3.2 million market, funded through the Commander's Emergency Response Program, will provide a central location for farmers in the northern part of the province to sell their produce.

The complex will include the main market building, which will house 31 vendor stalls and a rest area. Compressors and thermostats will maintain a proper temperature in cold-storage units being built from bricks, reinforced concrete and insulation materials. Support unit facilities will include a meeting and training room, rest rooms, guard houses, a supply room and a truck driving room. The parking lot will accommodate 120 vehicles in addition to 10 reserved spaces.

The
leaders of the agriculture associations in Jiff Jaffa, Haq, Muelha and Diyarah are responsible for bringing the idea of the project to life, officials said.

When construction is complete, the facility will be owned, operated and maintained by the four agricultural associations. The associations bought the land for the complex, enabling them to become a certified nongovernmental organization. The organization will form a management board to manage and operate the complex.

"When this market and agricultural center complex is completed, it will benefit all of the citizens of this area," said
Army Col. Thomas James, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team. "The building of this facility will stimulate economic activity in a peaceful and secure environment that has been created by the Iraqi security forces and civilian leaders who were tired of violence and insecurity."

(
Army Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis serves with the 3rd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bush Praises Fort Campbell Troops for Key Role in Terror War

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2008 - President George W. Bush kicked off his last Thanksgiving week as commander in chief today by thanking the soldiers of Fort Campbell, Ky., for the key role they've played in the war on terror and telling them they're what he'll miss most when he leaves office. Bush visited the home of the 101st Airborne Division, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 5th Special Forces Group soldiers, many recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Among them were the "Screaming Eagles" division's 2nd Brigade, in the midst of returning early from Iraq because of decreased violence there.

"You have performed with courage and distinction on the front lines of the war on terror," Bush told the soldiers, who erupted into cheers, applause and "hoo-ahs" throughout the address.

"You have returned on success," he continued. "On behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to welcome home the Bastogne Brigade, the Strike Brigade, the Rakkasans Brigade. Job well done!"

The president praised the troops for actions that he said not only have brought new hope and opportunity to Iraq and Afghanistan, but also helped to make the United States more secure.

"[You] have gone on the offense in the war against these killers and thugs," he said. "You have taken the battle of the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here in the United States."

Meanwhile, as part of "the great ideological struggle of our time," the Fort Campbell soldiers have brought a more hopeful vision of
justice and liberty, he said. "With the soldiers at Fort Campbell out front, the forces of freedom and liberty will prevail," he said.

The president recalled his first Thanksgiving visit to Fort Campbell, just two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a month after the war in Afghanistan had started. Fort Campbell's Rakkasans Brigade was the first conventional brigade to join the battle.

Since then, the 101st Airborne Division has continued to play a major role in the terror war, most recently as part of the troop surge in Iraq.

"Our troops conducted this surge with resolve and with valor, and nobody knows the impact better than the Screaming Eagles," Bush told the soldiers. He noted the huge turnaround they helped to bring to Iraq's Salahuddin province, which was struggling to recover from the Golden Mosque bombing when the division's Bastogne Brigade deployed there last year.

"But you partnered with the Iraqis to restore security. Schools and businesses are now open. The Golden Mosque is being rebuilt," Bush said. "And throughout the province, hope is returning. The terrorists are being driven out. The Iraqi people have the Screaming Eagles to thank."

Bush noted similar successes taking place across Iraq, with violence and sectarian violence down dramatically and 13 of the country's 18 provinces now under Iraqi security forces responsibility.

"Slowly but steadily, economic and political progress is taking place," he said. "And Iraqis are working together for a more hopeful future."

Bush vowed to continue reducing U.S. forces in Iraq as conditions on the ground continue to improve, a strategy he calls "return on success."

So far, a Marine expeditionary unit, two Marine battalions and six
Army brigades, including the Rakkasans, have returned from Iraq without replacement. "By the end of January, we'll have brought home more than 4,000 additional troops," Bush said.

Meanwhile, the president cited progress toward completing a strategic framework agreement and security agreement with the Iraqi government. Ultimately, these agreements will pave a way for future economic, diplomatic and
military cooperation between the United States and Iraq.

Bush called ongoing debate about these agreements among Iraqi lawmakers a sign of Iraq's strong democracy and a testament to the successes U.S. servicemembers have helped to bring about.

"War in Iraq is not over, but we're drawing closer to the day when our troops can come home," Bush said. "And when they come home, they will come home in victory."

After the cheers subsided, the president thanked the soldiers for their historic accomplishments.

Success in Iraq will frustrate Iran's ambitions to dominate in the region, deny al-Qaida a safe haven for new attacks and give millions of people in the Middle East the promise of liberty and democracy, he said.

But the impact of that success will resonate far beyond Iraq and the region, he added. "Success in Iraq will mean that the American people are more secure at home," he said.

As he prepares to leave office, Bush said, he's often asked what he'll miss most about the job.

"Well, above all, I'm going to miss spending time with men and women who have volunteered to serve the United States of America -- the fine men and women who wear the uniform," he said.

"We are blessed to have defenders of such character and courage," the president said. "I'm grateful to the families who serve by your side, and I will always be thankful for the honor of having served as the commander in chief."

Detainee Transfer Announced

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Salim Hamdan from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Yemen.

On Aug. 6, 2008, Hamdan was convicted of material support to terrorism at trial by
military commission. A military panel of six officers found Hamdan guilty of charges that included service as a Bin Laden bodyguard in Afghanistan both before and after the attacks of Sept. 11.

As part of a transfer agreement with the United States, the remainder of Hamdan's sentence will be served in Yemen. Hamdan was sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison, with 5 years and one month credited for pre-trial confinement. The sentence will end on Dec. 27, 2008.

military commissions have historically been used to prosecute enemy combatants who violate the laws of war and provide a full and fair trial, while protecting classified and sensitive information and all personnel participating in the process, including the accused.

The law of war provides the legal framework to hold enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities. Trials by
military commission demonstrate that the United States is committed to holding dangerous terror suspects accountable for their actions.

Since 2002, more than 520 detainees have departed Guantanamo for other countries including Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Yemen.

Approximately 250 detainees remain at Guantanamo.

Coalition, Iraqis Capture Terror Suspect, Seize Weapons

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - Coalition and Iraqi forces captured a suspected terrorist and seized two weapons caches in Iraq over the past four days, military officials said. Troops captured a terror suspect during an Iraqi security forces-led raid in Mosul on Nov. 22.

"Terrorists are feeling the pressure of the [Iraqi security forces], and they are running out of places to hide in and around Mosul," said U.S. Army Maj. Gary Dangerfield, a coalition spokesman.

Elsewhere, a resident's tip Nov. 20 led Iraqi troops to a weapons cache buried by the side of a road in Baghdad's Sadr City district. The troops also seized a second cache. The caches consisted of an explosive designed to penetrate armor, rockets, mortars, grenades, projectiles, an anti-tank mine, anti-tank grenade rifles, demolition charges, and other military equipment.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Soldiers Pleased With Non-lethal Capabilities

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

Nov. 24, 2008 - Having non-lethal capabilities is a valuable asset to soldiers in combat, because even the most hostile situation can be resolved without lethal measures,
Army Staff Sgt. Eric Johnson said during non-lethal capabilities training and equipment fielding here last week. "We definitely could've used this equipment and training on my previous deployments," said Johnson, an infantryman who has deployed three times to Iraq and is preparing to deploy a fourth time to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team after the new year.

Johnson and about 50 other 10th Mountain Division soldiers representing the 2nd and 3rd BCTs here participated in a weeklong Non-Lethal Capabilities Set issue and training. Each brigade was issued the set and soldiers learned how to react in threatening and hostile environments without immediately resorting to lethal force, he said.

With the brigade-issued set, soldiers have new capabilities -- equipment and training -- to react to hostile situations while operating in a convoy, manning checkpoints, on dismounted patrols, during detainee operations and during riots.

Johnson was somewhat discouraged when he learned he had to attend the weeklong training because he thought non-lethal training was geared more for military
police. The first day of training changed his mind.

"I've realized that the class is geared toward everyone who deploys to theater now," he said. "You don't need lethal force every single time you go out in sector, and this training shows that we have the means and ability to employ non-lethal capabilities."

Johnson and the other soldiers were introduced to weapons and munitions that, even though they're non-lethal, may still be as effective as live ammunition. The soldiers became familiar with non-lethal shotgun and grenade launcher rounds as well as Tasers.

"The ammunition and Tasers we learned to use are great assets, because they're not going to hurt anybody," Johnson said. "For a split second, you're going to contain them and get the necessary results and their attention without taking a life or seriously injuring anyone."

Johnson described a possible situation soldiers manning a checkpoint may face. They are taught to disable a vehicle if it is approaching the checkpoint too fast or ignoring warning signs to stop. Whether the situation results in the soldiers shooting the tires or killing the driver, the threat and possibility of the vehicle being a car bomb is too high not to react, he said.

But with the additional non-lethal capabilities, soldiers have the opportunity to be effective without causing unnecessary collateral damage and death or serious injuries. Soldiers can employ several non-lethal options before escalating to lethal force, he said.

One new option is the portable vehicle arrest barrier, which is basically a large cargo net stored inside a speed bump. Once it's activated, it can stop a 5-ton vehicle traveling 45 mph by wrapping around the vehicle and locking the rear axle. Soldiers can stop a speeding vehicle in its tracks without ever having to expend live ammunition, he said.

The set also has two sets of spike strips, one that soldiers can set up in advance and another they can roll out suddenly in a matter of seconds to disable a vehicle.

Army Sgt. Bryan Temple, an infantryman with 10th Mountain Division's 3rd BCT, recalled his previous deployment to Iraq and stressed how useful the non-lethal training and equipment would've been, especially the voice response translators and Taser guns, he said.

The translators can sync to eight users' voices and translate more than 350 phrases in 18 languages, including Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashtun.

During Temple's previous deployment, his interpreters wouldn't enter a building until after the soldiers secured it. But with the translation device, soldiers can communicate clearly with the locals without using an interpreter. And with the Taser, soldiers can neutralize an aggressive occupant without causing serious injury, Temple said.

"I think we're going to be able to implement a lot of this training into our upcoming mission to Afghanistan," Temple said. "I think a lot of the techniques and devices that we've learned ... will definitely come into play.

"The more tools that we have available to us and the more junior and senior leadership we have to go through these types of classes and learn how to implement them in real life situations, the better off we can be."

10th Mountain Division's 2nd and 3rd BCTs were the seventh and eighth brigades to receive the Non-Lethal Capabilities Set. The set was produced by the Defense Department's Program Executive Office Ammunition and costs just more than $1 million. Fielding began in July to units getting ready for deployment. Every brigade combat team and military
police brigade is expected to have the issue in about 18 months, officials said.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Coalition Kills Seven Militants, Hit Taliban Bomb Network

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - Coalition forces killed seven armed militants yesterday during an operation to disrupt Taliban roadside bomb and foreign-fighter networks in eastern Afghanistan, military officials reported. Coalition forces targeted one of Ghazni province's alleged senior Taliban commanders believed responsible for directing roadside bombs and other attacks in the region. The commander allegedly facilitated the movement of foreign fighters, weapons and bomb-making materials into the province.

After coalition forces reached the targeted building, they instructed the people inside to surrender. A woman and two children exited the building peacefully.

As coalition forces attempted to safeguard the local residents, militants barricaded inside the compound attacked forces with small-arms fire and hand grenades. Coalition forces returned fire killing the seven armed militants inside. The woman and children were moved to a safe location.

Inside the compound, forces seized machine guns, AK-47 rifles, grenades and roadside bomb-making materials.

(Compiled from a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 24, 2008

Wouter Basson [South African germ warfare expert] hearing postponed
“A Health Professions Council of South Africa hearing on apartheid era germ warfare expert Wouter Basson was postponed without a date today. The hearing, held at a hotel in Pretoria, was postponed pending the outcome of an application by the defence. Basson’s legal team wants the Pretoria High Court to declare the manner in which the HPCSA has dealt with the matter ‘unlawful, unreasonable and unfair.’ The affidavit will be filed before the courts this week, after which the council will be able to file an answering affidavit. Basson, who was not at the hearing, faces six charges relating to his time as head of the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare project.” (The Times; 24Nov08; Source: Sapa)
http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=891334

War experts gave anthrax advice
“Warfare experts from the US and Germany gave advice on decontamination after an anthrax death in the Scottish Borders, a fatal accident inquiry has been told. UK authorities had so little experience of the disease they got international help after the incident in 2006, [when] Christopher ‘Pascal’ Norris […] died as a result of inhaling anthrax spores. […] Early investigations centred on Mr Norris's own home. […] His house was found to be clear of spores but some were found on drums […] where classes were held. […] [Ramsay] said they took advice from warfare experts in Germany and America before instructing US company Sabre to decontaminate the hall using chlorine dioxide gas in March 2007.” (BBC News; 24Nov08) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/south_of_scotland/7746436.stm

[New anti-PS antibody drug] Bavituximab can cure lethal virus infections
“Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. yesterday reported the publication of data in Nature Medicine that supports the broad anti-viral potential of the company's novel anti-phosphatidylserine (anti-PS) antibody platform, showing that its PS-targeting drug bavituximab can cure lethal virus infections in animal disease models. Bavituximab is in clinical trials for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and in preclinical development for the treatment of viral hemorrhagic fevers under a contract worth up to $44.4 million with the bioterrorism program of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Bavituximab and other anti-PS antibodies are also being studied preclinically in HIV, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other serious viral infections.” (RedOrbit; 24Nov08; Source: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1602483/bavituximab_can_cure_lethal_virus_infections/

Scientists build ‘roach motel’ for nasty bugs of the bacterial variety
“Scientists at the University of
Florida and the University of New Mexico have created tiny microscopic spheres that trap and kill harmful bacteria in a manner the scientists liken to ‘roach motels’ snaring and killing cockroaches. The research could lead to new coatings that will disinfect common surfaces, combat bioterrorism or sterilize medical devices, reducing the devices’ responsibility for an estimated 1.4 million infection-related deaths each year. ‘The bacteria get in there, they get stuck, and then they get killed,’ said Kirk Schanze, a UF professor of chemistry and one of eight authors of the paper […] set to be published today in the debut issue of the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.” (University of Florida News; 24Nov08; Aaron Hoover) http://news.ufl.edu/2008/11/24/bacteria-motel/

State [TX] declares emergency [in 2007] to buy TB isolation booths that sit unused
“The [TX] state health department declared an emergency in August 2007 so it could immediately buy nine mobile units for isolating tuberculosis and other highly infectious patients without seeking bids from companies that sell the units. […] But nearly a year after the portable booths, which cost a total of $180,000, were delivered, they are sitting largely unused at health centers across the state. […] [The] justification for the emergency last year [was] that Texas was rushing to build the infrastructure and capacity for the ‘impending’ pandemic flu, to prevent the spread of TB (through droplets in the air) and to isolate patients in the event of a bioterrorism attack involving an unknown disease. A worldwide flu epidemic is predicted to occur someday, but no one knows when. […] Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams called the booths ‘a tool to help quickly control the spread of infectious diseases.’” (American-Statesman; 23Nov08; Mary Ann Roser) http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/11/23/1123tb.html

Diseases researched at new MU [Missouri University] laboratory
“In 2001, the scare was anthrax. In 2003, it was SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome. And in 2005, it was bird flu. ‘It seems like odd-numbered years are pretty bad,’ joked Michael Kurilla, director of the office of biodefense research for the National Institutes of Health. ‘And we're about to enter 2009.’ Infectious diseases strike suddenly and can change quickly, leaving scientists scrambling to develop effective treatments. Staying one step ahead of disease is the goal of the new $18 million Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at the University of Missouri. There, scientists will study diseases including the plague, anthrax and ‘Q Fever’ in a safe, contained environment. Experts say the research will be essential in battling the next generation of diseases.” (Columbia Daily Tribune; 24Nov08; T.J. Greaney)
http://www.news-leader.com/article/20081124/NEWS01/811240363

[CA] Scientists identify blood component that turns [anthrax] bacteria virulent
“Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute [CA] have discovered the key chemical that signals Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, to become lethal. […] The Scripps Research scientists identified bicarbonate, a chemical found in all body fluids and organs that plays a major role in maintaining pH balance in cells, as providing the signal for Bacillus anthracis to unleash virulence factors. Without the presence of the bicarbonate transporter in the bloodstream, the scientists found, the bacteria do not become virulent. […] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 10 percent of all patients, or about 2 million people, contract hospital-acquired infections each year. These bacteria are often resistant to multiple antibiotics, making the problem a growing public health concern.” (Infection Control Today; 24Nov08; Source: Scripps Research Institute) http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/hotnews/component-turns-bacteria-virulent.html

Al-Qaeda increases efforts to develop ‘dirty bomb’
“MI6 has issued a global priority warning to all security services that Islamic terrorists are now closer to obtaining material to create a ‘dirty bomb’ to launch against Western targets. […] [Osama bin Laden] has repeatedly said every ‘true Muslim must make it his duty to assist in all ways possible to find the next powerful weapon to destroy our enemies’.[…] MI6 fears there will be little ability [in Pakistan] to provide strong
leadership against the new wave of Islamic extremism that al-Qaeda has launched across the country. Groups such as the newly formed Pakistan Taliban have proclaimed it is focusing on creating a ‘dirty bomb.’MI6 agents based in Islamabad fear the mounting instability in Pakistan will make it easier for them to do so.” (Epoch Times; 22Nov08; Gordon Thomas) http://en.epochtimes.com/n2/world/al-qaeda-develop-dirty-bomb-7569.html

CNS ChemBio-WMD
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.

Reconstruction Teams Work 'One Block at a Time' in Iraq

By Army Sgt. Zach Mott
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - Reconstruction in Iraq means more than fixing broken walls and stocking store shelves. It means securing a future where Iraqis can sustain themselves, a provincial reconstruction team leader said. "The mission is to help bring a sustainable, democratic government, promote moderate [leaders] and encourage economic development in Baghdad," said Ted Andrews, team leader for Provincial Reconstruction Team 3 in Baghdad, which is embedded with the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Multinational Division Baghdad.

The 17-member team comprises representatives from the U.S. State Department and other contracted civilian employees. The team aims to help fill the country's reconstruction needs while focusing on governance, economic development, the rule of law and women's issues, Andrews said. It also meets regularly with elected officials and other government leaders in northern Baghdad to provide mentorship.

"We try to encourage [our] people to give them skills that they can promote and use when we're not there," Andrews said.

For this team, which operates in Baghdad's two most diverse districts -- the progressive Adhamiyah district and the volatile Sadr City district -- the challenges are vast and varied. Andrews cautions his team members to remain guarded in their hopes for success.

"It's hard for us to admit that we can't care about something more than they do," he said. "We do our best and at a certain point we've got to pull back and they've got to take it and make something of it."

And the Iraqis are making something of it. One success story that Andrews likes to tout is the Modern Sewing Company in Adhamiyah. With the help of startup funds provided by the United States and an Iraqi non-governmental organization, the company is making uniforms for school children in Sadr City and the some surrounding communities in Adhamiyah.

"We organized a way... to get the [clothes] out of the factory and into a warehouse and now, finally, more of them are moving up toward the kids," Andrews said.

Other successes are harder to quantify. As Andrews describes, progress isn't going to come in one sweeping event that defines an end to an American presence in Iraq.

"This is one of those places where you have to put your foot on the brakes and step on the gas at the same time," he said. "You've got to be pushing all these buttons in the society to get it going. We're only going to win one block at a time in this place. Victory is going to be a process, not a single event."

Sadr City presents unique challenges. The southern third of the district is separated from the northern portion by a concrete wall. The communities on each side of the wall must be dealt with in different ways, Andrews said.

"The frustration, still, is the slow progress within the government north of the wall in terms of some of the reconstruction and essential services,"
Army Col. John Hort, commander of the 3rd BCT, said. "Our job right now is ... to continue to work with [Andrews] and the other side of the river with the central government to ... get those types of initiatives moving a little bit quicker so the people can see not just a security element that they're very pleased with, but also the governance and the essential services."

The partnership between the provincial reconstruction team and brigade has allowed a sustainable level of progress to take hold with the Iraqi people feeling hopeful – something that has been absent for many years, Andrews said.

"Can Iraqi housewives go to the market and buy vegetables and chicken with a much-reduced fear that they're going to get blown up? That's the sort of progress we're doing," Andrews said.

(
Army Sgt. Zach Mott works in the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office).

Staying Power: Air Force Major Returns to Eradicate Explosives that Nearly Killed Him

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2008 - It's just after 5 on a weekday evening at
Air Force Maj. Matthew Conlan's home in a leafy Northern Virginia subdivision. Conlan's son, Cameron, is home from college for the summer and playing with their dog in the three-story townhouse. Conlan's wife, Becky, just got home from work and is on the phone with a utility company. The dog hears the familiar "click" as the electronic garage door opens and, like clockwork, he starts barking like crazy. The long-time family pet knows Conlan is home, and that it's almost time for their evening walk.

The Conlans' life, for the most part, appears to be normal. But like some 440 other airmen seriously wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Conlan and his family have struggled for normalcy. While on the surface, their life now looks like a slice of Americana, underneath the layers of Conlan's uniform, and behind the smiles on the faces of his family, lie the scars and memories of a bomb blast three years ago that nearly tore them apart.

Conlan grew up an Air Force "brat" immersed in the
military. He was born in an Air Force hospital in France. He graduated from high school in Alaska. His father retired from the Air Force and his mother, too, spent some time in the service. His two brothers became Marines. So it was natural for him to sign up for the Air Force in 1989 after attending Air Force ROTC at Arizona State University, even though his father was against the idea.

"He said, 'I served 20 years on active-duty so you wouldn't have to,'" Conlan recalls. "I said 'That's not true, Dad. You served 20 years so I would have the option to choose what I do with my life. And I choose to serve.'"

Conlan joined as an acquisitions officer and later transferred to civil engineering. He worked his way through the ranks in various assignments, and in 2005 was serving as the deputy airbase squadron commander at the Royal
Air Force Croughton in Oxfordshire, England, when a deployment opportunity opened with the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heading to Afghanistan.

Conlan volunteered. His wife, Becky, prior
military herself, was supportive of his deployment. "She knows that's why I wear the uniform," Conlan said.

Staying With His Troops

On June 17, 2005, just outside of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Conlan was out with an explosive ordnance team collecting and destroying some of the thousands of unused munitions scattered across the country's landscape. Many artillery shells, landmines, grenades and other explosives remain from the country's near decade-long war with Russia that ended almost 20 years ago. The Taliban and other extremist groups often arm the munitions with homemade triggering devices and propellants to use in attacks against coalition forces.

Conlan's job as the expeditionary civil engineer squadron commander didn't require him to be "outside the wire" with the ordnance troops. His main job was to keep the old, 10,000-foot Soviet-built airstrip open.

Built in 1976 primarily as a landing strip for small fighters, the United States and other NATO forces were landing huge cargo planes there, as many as 50 flights per day.

"I loved it. It was one of those assignments where you actually see the results of your efforts," Conlan said. "Every time an aircraft landed it was because we were keeping that runway adequately maintained. It was literally falling apart. It was taking a lot of heavy use and it was just crumbling."

Not the kind of guy to give orders from behind a desk, Conlan, the only officer in the squadron of about 80, went out that day with a group of about 30 troops, ordnance experts and others, to help haul away the munitions. "Whatever my guys were doing, I'd be out there with them," he said.

'What the Hell Happened?'

"All this stuff was just lying around all over the place," he said of the munitions scattered about.

Conlan noticed an artillery shell mostly buried in the ground, nose first. One of the ordnance crew, Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Ramakka, dug around the shell to see if had been expended, or if it needed to be destroyed.

Ramakka and Conlan stood next to the shell talking for a few minutes. When they stepped away, a bomb exploded.

"I did not hear the explosion. It was all a visual sensation like somebody was flipping the lights off and on really fast," Conlan said. "I was falling, and as I was falling I was thinking, 'What the hell is going on?' And then I'm lying on the ground on my back and I'm thinking 'What the hell happened?'"

What Conlan didn't know at the time was that Ramakka had been standing upon a buried anti-personnel mine. It had activated when he stepped onto it. When he stepped off, it exploded. Officials later said that the mine was likely placed there by the Taliban because they knew the troops regularly collected the old munitions and that the artillery shell would attract the ordnance team's attention. In other words, it was a booby trap.

After the blast, Conlan lay in the dust, mud and blood trying to sort out what just happened.

"It was a very surreal experience," Conlan said. His vision was clear. He looked over at Ramakka.

"I looked and there's this leg waving around with no foot, and I'm like 'Oh crap.' Of course I used stronger language at the time," Conlan said.

Between them, there was a smoking hole in the ground.

Still stunned and not yet feeling any pain, Conlan said he then went into "self-assessment mode." His right leg was bent backwards, and there was hole in it with blood and bone oozing out. He couldn't straighten his left leg, so he ripped open a tear in his pants over his left thigh.

"There's this giant hole in there big enough to stick my fist in," Conlan said. "I remember sticking my fingers in there to see if there was blood spraying out. I was thinking that there's an artery there and I couldn't get a good look at what was going on."

By this time, members of the group began gathering around, offering up emergency medical treatment mixed with words of encouragement.

His crew gave him fluids and blood intravenously, snapped a field tourniquet on his right leg to keep him from bleeding to death, and called for a medical evacuation. And then the pain hit - pain so bad that Conlan couldn't describe it.

"You do go through all of those emotions," Conlan said. "'I'm going to die. I'm never going to see my wife and kid again.'"

He said he was angry at one point, "cursing a blue streak." This was not the way he wanted to leave Bagram Airfield. But, Conlan said, he knew his mission there was done.

At times, he also was talking and joking with Ramakka. "Anything to take your mind off of what was going on," Conlan said.

Surgery at Bagram returned blood flow to the right leg, cleaned the wounds and stabilized him. Conlan then had to break the news to his wife. He started the phone conversation by beating around the bush, talking about how the day started and the mission, but then reluctantly told her that he and Ramakka had been injured by the blast.

Conlan told her he'd probably lose the right leg because blood flow had been cut off for more than an hour. Becky asked to speak to a doctor. Her only concern was that Conlan come home alive.

"She's like 'I don't care about the leg. We can get him a new leg. I just want to make sure he's not going to die,'" Conlan said.

Conlan met his wife and son in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. A few days later they flew to Andrews
Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Conlan would spend the next year recovering at Wilford Hall Medical Center, the Air Force's largest medical facility.

Conlan had a grapefruit-size chunk of muscle and bone blown out of his right leg, just below the knee, and a fist-size hole out of his left thigh. The artery was exposed there, but not damaged. There were other holes in his legs, one the size of a soda can and another the size of a silver dollar. He had burns on both legs, and blast damage on his hands, arms and face.

Doctors were not promising they could save his right leg, but they laid out an aggressive treatment plan to try.

It took 10 surgeries on his legs to get Conlan upright again. He had lost a lot of muscle on his right calf and inside left thigh. On his right leg, doctors rotated part of his calf muscles upward to make up for what was lost. Skin grafts and bone grafts were needed on both legs.

For months, Conlan had to wear an external bridging fixture that attached to his thigh bone and screwed into his shin to immobilize his right leg.

Becky's background in the military and experience in operating and emergency rooms proved useful as she helped with Conlan's care. "She could talk to them and understand everything that was going on," Conlan said.

Every day, Becky changed intravenous fluid bags, gave Conlan injections and changed bandages. Conlan's son took part in his care, too. Cameron would clean the area around the screws inserted into his father's leg.

Getting Back on His Feet

The
Air Force changed Conlan's duty assignment to Lackland and shipped the family's belongings there. The family stayed in a Fisher House on the base, which Becky described as a "God-send," for a little more than a month and were later given on-base housing.

It was September 2005 before Conlan could start putting weight on his leg. By the middle of that month, he walked across the living room without help. Every day after, he made a little more progress in rehab.

"Once I put the crutch up, I pretty much didn't use it any more," he said.

At the start, Conlan couldn't lift his right foot up to walk. Because the nerves were so damaged, he probably would never be able to lift it, the doctors told him. Despite that negative prognosis, Conlan said he now has some function back.

"They tell me I shouldn't be able to do what I'm doing, but I'll take what I can get. I'm pretty happy with the way things have gone," Conlan said.

In November 2005, Conlan went back to work. A friend at Lackland's security forces center offered him a job. Nothing too demanding, he said. He still had rehab and numerous medical appointments. He went to work about 7:30 a.m. and went home at lunch time.

"That was a big deal for me. It was one more step towards normal -- getting back in the game," Conlan said. "It was just getting out of the house, and going somewhere and sitting at a desk and saying 'Okay, I'm at least back part time. I'm contributing to the mission.'"

In December 2005, doctors loosened the struts on the frame supporting his leg. About a month later, they removed the frame.

In May 2006, Conlan took a different job at nearby Randolph Air Force Base. It was in the civil engineer directorate and was "nearly full-time," Conlan said. Technically,

Conlan was assigned to the medical wing, and was working more or less as a volunteer. But he was an Air Force engineer and his fellow engineers thought it would be better if he was around. They didn't want him falling through the cracks, Conlan said.

It was about that time that Conlan started having trouble sleeping. When he did sleep he had bad dreams. During the day Conlan sometimes suffered from what he called "unfocused anger."

"I would go from going perfectly happy to completely pissed off for no reason. I couldn't tell you why I was mad," Conlan said.

Working through his recovery was not easy for anyone in the family, and his mood swings made it considerably less easy.

One day, Conlan came home to find Becky holding a piece of paper. "She said 'These are the symptoms of [post traumatic stress disorder] and you pretty much have all of them. And I can't help you with this. So you either go get help or I'm going to have to leave because I can't do this,'" Conlan said. "That caught my attention."

Conlan walked into Wilford Hall's psychiatric services and asked for care. They gave him medicine for his sleeping problems, and counseling for his PTSD.

Returning to Service

By late August 2006, Conlan was on self-directed physical therapy. He still had a host of other related medical appointments. But the time had come for his physical evaluation board. Would he be allowed to finish his career in the
Air Force? At that point, Conlan lacked only a few years from reaching the 20-year goal he set for himself when he joined.

"It was like a mental thing with me. I wanted to finish what I started. I was that close," Conlan said. He wrote a letter to the Air Force board, asking that they allow him to stay on active duty. The Air Force, since the war began, has tried to be generous in its allowances to keep wounded servicemembers who want to stay in the service on active-duty. Remarkably, Conlan's board results came back that October with no duty limitation.

The reason, Conlan said, was that he had worked up to walking three miles. It hurts, he said, but he can do it.

"Their rationale was if I can walk that far, I could run 100 yards in an emergency," Conlan said. "They're probably right. If somebody was shooting at me I could probably run 100 yards. It wouldn't be pretty. It wouldn't be fast, but I could probably do it."

In September 2006,
Air Force officials began setting up an office in Washington, D.C., to counter improvised explosive devices, otherwise known as roadside bombs. They called Conlan and said they needed a civil engineer and asked if he would be interested.

It was a desk job, at Air Force headquarters. But Conlan knew his days in the field were over. And he would be helping the
Air Force buy the right products to combat the radio-controlled bombs that the enemy is using against U.S. forces.

After talking it over with Becky, Conlan accepted. He wanted to keep others from having to endure what he had.

Conlan still has pieces of the Afghanistan landscape embedded in his nose, face and ears. Small fragments of sand and rock continue to work themselves out of his skin. He has been called a "medical marvel." Doctors never thought he would keep his leg. They never thought he would move his foot. But, today, Conlan can lift his foot, and his leg is still there.

He can't run because his knee won't take it. Errant bone is growing in his leg -- a phenomenon common in blast victims in this war -- and grating against his bones, and osteoarthritis has set in. Eventually, Conlan will have to have his knee replaced. His foot needs realignment, but doctors can't fix that until they replace the knee.

Conlan weaves sometimes when he walks, and when he gets tired, his limp is more pronounced. He is in pain every day.

Still, he hops on his Yamaha Majesty 400 cc scooter and rides about 35 miles to work everyday. He used to ride a motorcycle, but since the blast, Becky has vetoed anything that requires a foot break. His Yamaha has all hand controls. He's put 19,000 miles on the bike since his assignment here.

In the afternoons, Conlan escapes from his desk and for physical therapy walks a couple of miles through the cavernous tunnel system of shops and restaurants below his office in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va. He stretches and does leg lifts and other exercises in the stairwell at work. At night, he walks his dog.

"I was sitting there one day and I told my wife, 'Man, I've got ugly legs now.' And she's like 'Yeah, but they are your legs,'" Conlan said. "I've got wicked-cool scars."

Conlan also is active in speaking to
military groups and commanders about PTSD and the signs to watch for. He hopes speaking out will help break the stigma attached with asking for help.

"I've got nothing to lose," Conlan said. "I'm very vocal about talking about it because it is a problem."

Conlan also still keeps in touch with Ramakka, who also is back on active-duty wearing a prosthetic leg and teaching at the
Air Force's explosive ordnance disposal preliminary course at Lackland.

To this day, Conlan said he regrets none of his choices - his choice to serve, to deploy, to go out with the troops that day and his choice to remain on active duty. He will retire next May with his 20 years of service.

"We are returning people to duty, and life does go on and your career doesn't necessarily end," Conlan said. "Yeah, I'm going to have physical limitations for the rest of my life, but I firmly believe that my decision to go out that day was the right decision. I absolutely belonged out there with my guys.

"That's the way I choose to lead," he said.