War on Terrorism

Monday, November 30, 2009

Navy Casualty

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

Petty Officer 3rd Class David M. Mudge, 22, of Sutherlin, Ore., died Nov. 28, in a non-hostile accident aboard USS Rentz while in Port Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates.

For further information regarding this sailor, please contact commander, Naval Surface Forces Public Affairs at (619) 437-2146 email or christopher.servello@navy.mil.

DoD Announces Change-In-Status of Army Soldier

The Department of Defense today announced the death of a soldier supporting Operation Enduring Freedom who was previously listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.

Sgt. Brandon T. Islip, 23, of Richmond, Va., had been listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. His status was changed Nov. 29 to having died in a non-combat related incident.

He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. and went missing, Nov. 4, while involved in a resupply mission in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan.

For further information these soldiers, contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at (910) 432-0661 or (910) 432-0662.

Program Aims to Improve Iraqi Women's Lives

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

Nov. 30, 2009 - As Iraq rebuilds its economy, many Iraqi women are looking to be recognized as working equals, according to a U.S. military officer posted in Iraq. "As far as a glass ceiling, that idea is very much a Western process. That doesn't exist here yet due to the cultural differences of Iraq and their religion," Army Maj. Elba D'asaro, Multinational Forces-Iraq Chief of Women's Initiatives Program, told bloggers during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable Nov. 25.

In Islamic tradition, women's status is higher at home than in the workplace, D'asaro said. In Iraq, she said, women are traditionally expected to bear children to continue the family line, which is viewed as more important than employment.

D'asaro said she understands the situation of Iraqi women as the country transforms from Saddam Hussein's Batthist's party regime to the current Sharia law.

Iraqi women "don't want to be restrained from getting work, getting employment, getting heard and also helping their country [improve]," she said.

Ray, an Iraqi linguist who prefers his last name not be used for security reasons, accompanied D'asaro at the roundtable. There has been a reversal in women's rights in Iraq, he said, as compared to the social situation during the 1950s.

"In the '50s, women could be elected to political position; since about 1980 there's been a reversal in progress for women in Iraq," he said.

Ray left Iraq in the late 1970s at 25. Today, he said, some women are not allowed to shake hands with men due to religious interpretations.

And, he said, some terrorist groups today are trying to mock the idea of women as equal to men, and are seeking women to use violence against other women.

Some Iraqi women, Ray said, are so discouraged about their social and economical situations that they've developed feelings of hopelessness. "They are easy targets of being recruited by terrorist groups because they have nothing to look for," he said.

Iraqi women can achieve more upward mobility, Ray said, if the Iraqi government provides financial resources to help women find jobs.

As U.S. forces approach the official drawdown in August, D'asaro said, Iraq's future is ultimately in the hands of their government. "They have to step in and help themselves. And we've helped them with the tools. We've showed them how," she said.

Improving the rights and quality of life of Iraq's women, D'asaro said, will be accomplished one step at a time. "We just need to support the government of Iraq, the ministries ... especially women," she said.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg is assigned to Defense Media Activity's Emerging Media Directorate.)

Iraqi Police Arrest 15 with Alleged Al Qaida Ties

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 30, 2009 - Iraqi
police and U.S. advisors apprehended 15 suspects with alleged ties to al Qaida in Iraq during operations in there in the past few days, military officials said. Iraqi police arrested four suspected members of al Qaida cells today in two joint security operations near Baghdad and Kirkuk, military officials said.

In a joint security operation in Karmah, west of Baghdad, police apprehended an alleged associate of a car-bomb cell believed responsible for attacks targeting government buildings and civilians in the Iraqi capital. Police also arrested a suspected accomplice.

During a separate operation in a rural area southwest of Kirkuk, the 3rd Emergency Services Unit and U.S. advisors arrested a suspected al Qaida in Iraq leader and a suspected criminal accomplice.

The suspected terrorist leader is believed to be responsible for emplacing improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, throughout the region, moving foreign fighters into Iraq to carry out attacks, and transporting and storing weapons.

In earlier operations, Iraqi security forces arrested four suspected members of al Qaida in Iraq during joint security operations in northern Iraq.

During a security operation yesterday in Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, Iraqi police and U.S. advisors apprehended a man with alleged ties to the terrorist network.

On Nov. 28, Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors in southwestern Mosul arrested three suspected associates of an alleged al Qaida member.

In other Nov. 28 operations, Iraqi police in Mosul arrested an alleged al Qaida in Iraq associate, and police in Hawija arrested an alleged associate of the network and a suspected accomplice.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

Remains of U.S. Paratrooper Found in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 30, 2009 - The remains of a U.S. paratrooper reported missing since early this month in western Afghanistan was recovered yesterday, military officials said. The body of Army Sgt. Brandon Islip was recovered from the Bala Murgahab River in Badghis province after a local Afghan resident provided information on his whereabouts, officials said.

Islip, a paratrooper with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, went missing with another paratrooper Nov. 4 after being swept away by a fast-moving current while on an airdrop re-supply mission in western Afghanistan.

The recovery comes weeks after British divers found the body of Islip's fellow soldier, Spc. Benjamin Sherman, who was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.

"The recovery of Sergeant Islip and Sergeant Sherman would not have been possible without the untiring support and efforts of our fellow international forces, the Afghan national security forces and the local people of Bala Murghab," said Col. Brian M. Drinkwine, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, to which the two soldiers were assigned.

A memorial service for the two paratroopers will be held in Afghanistan in the coming days, officials said.

In other operations around the country, Afghan and international forces detained several suspected militants yesterday in Wardak province while pursuing a militant Taliban commander involved in weapons trafficking.

In a separate operation yesterday, an international security force killed an enemy militant and detained several others in Kandahar province while pursuing a Taliban district commander. The commander has ties to local senior militant leaders and weapons traffickers and is responsible for local attacks involving small arms and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

On Nov. 28, an international force detained several suspected militants in Logar province while pursuing a Taliban roadside bomber involved in several attacks in the area.

Elsewhere in the country Nov. 28, 12 inmates broke out of a prison in Farah province by digging a tunnel from their cell to the outside. Officials captured a 13th prisoner as he tried to escape, officials said.

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

Deployed Soldiers Tour Iraq's Ziggurat of Ur

By Army Spc. Shane P.S. Begg
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 30, 2009 - Many soldiers cite travel as the reason why they joined the Army. But many don't expect to have much opportunity to get out and see their host nation while deployed. Yet more than 40 Iraq-stationed soldiers from 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, on Nov. 21 got to take a guided tour of one of the world's most historic sites: the Great Ziggurat of Ur.

Most commonly known as "The Ziggurat of Ur," the step pyramid, built by an ancient Sumerian king, is located a short distance from here.

Dhaif, a local Iraqi man who has lived his entire life next to the site, has spent many hours studying the history and culture of ancient Iraq, and offered a tour to soldiers.

The ziggurat was built by the Sumerians over four thousand years ago under the rule of King Ur-Nammu. It served as a temple to the Sumerian moon god Nanna.

"It is a rare opportunity to be able to visit a site with such biblical and historical significance," said Army Staff Sgt. Miriam Mountain. "I highly recommend this tour to all soldiers living on or visiting COB Adder."

Dhaif explained the historical significance of the temple and touched on some of the ongoing restoration and excavation projects.

"We also visited what is believed to be the home of Terah and Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam," said Army Spc. Courtney Sloat, a medic from Grand Blan, Mich.

Upon the completion of the tour, the soldiers gathered at the base of the ancient step pyramid for photographs before returning to their base.

(Spc. Shane P.S. Begg is assigned to Multinational Division South, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division)

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Michael A. Rogers, 23, of White Sulphur Springs, Mont., died Nov. 27, at Forward Operating Base Hammer, east of Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

For more information media may contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-7267.

Logistics Agency Prepares to Move 'Mountain' from Iraq

By Jonathan Stack
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 30, 2009 - Army Col. Mike Bird is about to move a mountain, but he won't be doing it alone. Bird, commander of Defense Logistics Agency—Central Command, will have help from his DLA support team and participants from several of the agency's field activities. That, however, doesn't make the task of helping the military services draw down a mountain of equipment and supplies accumulated during six years of operations in Iraq any less daunting.

DLA provides the military services, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. These services include disposing of excess military property or allowing for its reuse, as well as disposing of hazardous waste and materials.

Bird has made planning for the drawdown a priority since he assumed command this summer.

"This is much more than moving a mountain," he said. "It surpasses any logistical challenge we have undertaken to date, all while we are still fighting two wars. It is critical that we ensure the warfighter is being sustained while we retrograde, refit and redistribute to the war effort."
The drawdown is the return of all U.S. forces back to their home stations and the closing out the military presence in Iraq, said Donald Bruce, DLA's Joint Logistics Operations Center lead planner for drawdown, retrograde and reset.

"Bringing back troops means bringing back all supplies," Bruce said.

The U.S. equipment drawdown from Iraq will impact all DLA's primary-level field activities to some extent, with the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service shouldering most of the workload. From its headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., and offices throughout the world, DRMS disposes of excess property received from the military services.

"Coordination and flexibility are keys in any complex operation," said Twila Gonzales, DRMS director.

DRMS already handles the military services' excess property in Iraq, including disposal of battle-damaged equipment and surplus items. DRMS also removes scrap from both the small forward-operating bases and the larger bases. Gonzales said her team is also handling a portion of hazardous waste and materials disposal.

"We're not just working with or for the military units in Iraq, we are working right alongside them," she said. "Our mobilized reservists are doing great work on those teams."

Earlier this year, members of a disposal team working at a large forward-operating base in Iraq removed more than 3 million pounds of scrap from the base in just 30 days.

"Good management of excess equipment in this case helps protect our fighting forces from the danger that an adversary will be able to use some of our own equipment against us," Gonzales said. "Good stewardship over excess property serves both the warfighter and taxpayers."

As U.S. military units start leaving Iraq, Bruce said, they'll look at their supplies and equipment and decide whether to take items with them or leave them behind.

"In some cases, the services might decide they don't need those consumable materials in Iraq because they're drawing down the force," he said. "But due to the buildup, the materials might be needed in Afghanistan."

Much usable material will be shipped from Iraq to Defense Distribution Depot-Kuwait, Bruce said, while some will come back to DLA's stateside depots. The depots, mainly co-located with military repair depots, act as receiving and temporary storage locations.

If a Humvee comes back to an Army repair depot, it will be received by the DLA depot and stored until the Army is ready to put it on the maintenance line and begin the rebuild, Bruce said.

"There's a big impact there for DLA because there's a lot of equipment that has to come back and be repaired before it can be provided to units to prepare for the next fight," he said.

In addition, Bruce said, there will be an impact on the amount of repair parts DLA is supplying to support rebuilding the equipment coming back and going into the depot system.

"The fact that this equipment has been used in the desert for so long means the military services might have to replace a lot of parts that they normally wouldn't," Bruce said. "We have to work closely with the services to make sure we're on top of that and we know what those demands are so we're prepared to support them."

DLA's supply centers are expected to see a surge in business as the military services' requirements evolve.

"We were sustaining the force in Iraq, and those demands are going to decrease over time and demands in Afghanistan are going to increase," he said.

(Jonathan Stack is a writer with Defense Logistics Agency's communications office)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, November 25, 2009

Vaccine making out of date
"Florida Democrat [former Senator Bob Graham] and Missouri Republican [former Senator Jim Talent], who presided over a congressional panel charged with assessing terrorist threats and weapons proliferation, say that even though bioterrorism [...] is the nation's leading terrorist threat, the country isn't equipped to respond quickly. 'This is an epidemic that didn't just attack us by ambush, we've had much time to prepare, yet many people who want to get the vaccine have been denied so because of inadequate technology,' Mr. Graham said, referring to the growth and spread of the H1N1 virus since April. The rush to manufacture millions of doses of the H1N1 influenza virus highlighted problems with a vaccine-manufacturing process developed before the Cold War that has never been updated. [...] Pharmaceutical manufacturers have not had the financial incentive to spend the billions of dollars necessary to upgrade the manufacturing process (a vaccine is sold and administered far less frequently than other, more profitable medications) which is why the government needs to support any effort, he said. 'The real endgame is to bring the technology into the 21st century and use molecular biological techniques so you can really have control about making the purified proteins that you want,' he explained. The federal government has established efforts to address the problem but has yet to funnel the money needed into the lead program." (Washington Times; 24Nov09; Tom LoBianco) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/24/vaccine-making-outdated/

Safety breach at IU [Indiana University] sends 7 to hospital as precaution [Bloomington, IN]
"An Indiana University laboratory that does research on deadly bubonic plague bacterium sent seven people to Bloomington Hospital after a small amount of potentially infected material was discovered in a place where it shouldn't have been in the lab. The seven were sent to the emergency room Wednesday to begin antibiotic treatment as a precautionary measure, university spokesman Larry MacIntyre said Friday afternoon. [...] 'We think it's highly unlikely that anybody could be infected with anything, but since it's not a 100 percent certainty, we're not going to take a chance,' MacIntyre said." (Apria Healthcare; 21Nov09; Mike Leonard) http://www.apria.com/resources/1,2725,494-1033107,00.html

Grant goes to Purdue University to fund research into life cycle of potential bio-weapon viruses [West Lafayette, IN]
"The life cycles of two virus types that could be used as biological weapons will be researched with funding from a National Institutes of Health agency with the hope of creating better treatments against them. Purdue University has been awarded a two-year, $4 million grant from the 2009 federal stimulus bill by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study flaviviruses, including dengue and West Nile, and alphaviruses, including eastern equine encephalitis and chikungunya. [...] There is [...] fear that the diseases could be used as weapons by terrorists as there are few methods for controlling their infection. A better understanding of the life cycle of the viruses, a Purdue spokesperson said, will allow for better ways to defend against attacks." (Bio Prep Watch; 19Nov09; Nick Rees) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/210992-grant-goes-to-purdue-university-to-fund-research-into-life-cycle-of-potential-bioweapon-viruses

Living Weapons [a book by Gregory Koblentz] tackles biowarfare
"Biological weapons are poorly understood by most. Political scientist and author Gregory Koblentz attempts to rectify this reality in his book Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security. Koblentz explores the scientific basis of biological weapons and examines why they are so difficult to properly manage. His work uses scientific expertise to illuminate why bioweapons are so uniquely threatening to international security." (John Hopkins Newsletter; 19Nov09; Greg Sgammato) http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2009/11/19/ScienceTech/Living.Weapons.Tackles.Biowarfare-3838872-page2.shtml

Officials list reuses for Oregon weapons depot [Hermiston, OR]
"A top five list has been drawn up for ways to redevelop the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot near Hermiston, Ore., after its scheduled closure in 2011. According to a recent exercise completed by the depot Land Reuse Authority, the top five most likely uses are: energy development; telecommunications business; transportation or distribution center; attracting government funding; and environmental restoration." ( Seattle Journal Daily of Commerce; 20Nov09) http://www.djc.com/news/co/12012289.html?cgi=yes

Colorado State Professor [Anthony Tu] honored by Japan for help solving '90s sarin gas attacks
"Anthony Tu's expertise about a deadly nerve gas helped the Japanese identify and catch suspects in the sarin gas attacks in the 1990s – assistance that has now earned him one of the nation's highest honors. On Nov. 9, the Japanese Emperor bestowed the Colorado State University emeritus professor with the distinction of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. [...] Tu, a biochemistry professor whose research focused on snake venom, published papers in Japan on chemical warfare just before the Matsumoto attack in 1994 that killed seven people and poisoned 500 others. Police asked Tu for help with the case and the ensuing nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 12 and injured about 3,800 more. Japanese officials used Tu's assistance to analyze the sarin and its byproducts to identify the manufacturing facility where the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo produced 70 tons of the deadly nerve gas. Tu's knowledge of chemicals produced from the degradation of sarin in soils was instrumental in linking Aum Shinrikyo definitively with the manufacture and use of sarin, evidence that helped convict the sect's leader, Shoko Asahara, who was later sentenced to be hanged." (Colorado State University; 23Nov09)

Pig proxies root out solutions for soldiers
"As research animals standing in for real soldiers over the last decade, they have helped prepare Canadian troops for the potential nightmare of chemical warfare. [...] The Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) facility in Suffield, Alta., will fit the pigs with an array of medical monitors to track their physiological reaction to the type of wounds sustained by troops in Afghanistan and similar conflicts. [...] What makes the hog such an attractive surrogate for humans, when the nature of the research would clearly preclude using actual people? They are relatively large, while their cardiac and lung systems and other aspects of their physiology - including their skin - are all similar to those of people, said Mr. [Stephen Bjarnason, head of casualty management at DRDC's Suffield branch]. The same type of monitors used on human patients in the intensive care unit measure their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and other indicators during studies. About 1,500 pigs have been pressed into service since 1997 for chemical-warfare experiments, including tests of an antidote for Sarin gas and other nerve agents that is now routinely issued to Canadian soldiers. The studies also found that rapidly cooling the skin where a chemical agent made contact can delay its impact, giving medics hours more time to neutralize the substance, said Mr. Bjarnason." (National Post; 23Nov09; Tom Blackwell)

Cleveland BioLabs opens enrollment of second safety study for CBLB502 [drug to treat Acute Radiation Syndrome]
"Cleveland BioLabs [...] today announced the opening of enrollment for the second human safety study for CBLB502, a drug under development for the treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). CBLB502 is being developed by Cleveland BioLabs under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Animal Efficacy Rule to treat Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) or radiation poisoning from any exposure to radiation such as a nuclear or radiological weapon / dirty bomb, or from a nuclear accident. This approval pathway requires demonstration of efficacy in representative animal models and safety and drug metabolism testing in healthy human volunteers." (CNN Money; 23Nov09) http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/marketwire/0561669.htm

US Megaports Initiative launched in Kaohsiung
"The implementation of the U.S Megaports Initiative at Kaohsiung Port in southern Taiwan is a significant step forward in Taipei-Washington relations, said American Institute in Taiwan Director William A. Stanton. [...] The Megaports Initiative was set up by the U.S. government under the auspices of the Department of Energy in 2003 to deter the illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive material in many of the world's largest ports. The initiative seeks to enhance the ability of U.S. partners around the world to screen container cargo for nuclear and other radioactive materials that could potentially be exploited by terrorists as weapons of mass destruction. Under the program, U.S. partners are provided with radiation portal monitors, handheld detection devices, optical character recognition technology, communication equipment, training, and technical support at key ports." (Taiwan Today; 19Nov09)

GAO [Government Accountability Office] faults plant for lax nuclear-weapon parts oversight
"The U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that the National Nuclear Security Administration's is not doing enough to prevent rogue actors from acquiring nuclear-weapon components from at least one facility, the Kansas City Star reported yesterday. The GAO report focuses on current operations and plans for a site that would replace a facility in Kansas City. Mo. The Kansas City Plant, overseen by the nuclear agency and managed by a private contractor, produces 85 percent of the non-nuclear components that go into building the average nuclear weapon. Congressional auditors said it has not done enough to ensure that sensitive dual-use equipment does not fall into the hands of terrorist organizations or foreign countries. The nuclear agency has not supplied enough 'oversight or clear and up-to-date control guidance' to limit proliferation opportunities, according to the report. 'The Kansas City Plant instead treats all components as if they pose equal proliferation risks. As such, items such as a common, commercially available screw are considered to be at the same level of proliferation risk as a complex mechanism designed to arm nuclear weapons,' the report says. The existing plant uses other firms to provide 54 percent of its parts; that number would increase to 70 percent at the new facility. It counts on these outside parties to observe U.S. regulations on the sale of parts and technologies that 'may be used by potential adversaries to develop or advance their nuclear capabilities,' said the accountability office." (Global Security Newswire; 24Nov09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091124_8047.php

House Homeland Security Committee passes Congressman Al Green's amendment to expand the Securing the Cities program
"In a unanimous vote, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed this week H.R. 2611, a measure which would authorize the Department of Homeland Security's Securing the Cities (STC) initiative. The bill includes an amendment offered by Congressman Al Green (TX-09) that would expand the scope of the STC program to include at least two additional cities in the program. [...] STC is a unified effort among federal, state and local law enforcement in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to defend against the threat of a radiological or nuclear device. [...] 'While New York City may remain a prime target for terrorist activity, other densely populated areas and those housing a lot of critical infrastructure should also be protected from dirty bombs to the best of our ability. My amendment would benefit even more high-risk urban areas by providing the necessary resources to detect and intercept illicit radiological material before it could be used in a weapon by would-be terrorists,' said Congressman Green." (Congressman Al Green; 20Nov09) http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/tx09_green/pr_20091120.html

Coweta firefighters to get new air-paks [GA]
"Coweta firefighters can breathe a little easier with the unanimous decision Nov. 17 by county commissioners to approve the purchase of new breathing devices and other equipment. The new air-paks will replace the older, questionable equipment currently in use. [...] Fire Chief Johnny Teeters said the purchase [$682,000] would allow the department to replace its aging inventory of Self Contained Breathing Apparatus that do not meet current standards in the areas of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protection." (The Citizen; 19Nov09; Ben Nelms)

Next generation of airport security to take off soon
"The growing threat from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons means airport security cannot rely on conventional screening methods. Airport security in India will go beyond X-ray machines, CCTVs, perimeter patrolling and sniffer dogs. Liquid screeners and radiation detection devices will be part of the security infrastructure in major airports of the country. 'The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has already identified some of the new and emerging threats as attacks with biological, chemical and nuclear material weapons (BCN) and our airports should be ready to meet such threats,' said P Mohanan, former ICAO aviation security auditor. [...] The other significant addition to airport security in the near future would be equipment based on Liquid Screening Technology (LST) which could change the way air passengers pack their handbags. 'Unlike Liquid Explosive Detectors, currently in use in major airports, LST is a non-invasive form of explosive detection,' says Mohanan . While using a Liquid Explosive Detector, the suspected liquid item needs to be removed from the bag for inspection. But an LST works on the agnetic resonance imaging principle, and can detect an explosive liquid inside the bag." (Economic Times; 20Nov09) http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Next-generation-of-airport-security-to-take-off-soon/articleshow/5250270.cms

Iran conducts major defense exercise
"Iran yesterday began a major exercise intended to test and illustrate the nation's ability to protect itself against attack, Reuters reported. The event occurs as tensions are again rising in the standoff over Iran's disputed nuclear activities. [...] The exercise is expected to last five days and involve both the Revolutionary Guard and other military personnel. 'It is the biggest war game, which takes place over an area 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles). The aim of this war game is to promote military power of the armed forces against any attack,' state television quoted Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani as saying. 'The aim of the drill is to display Iran's combat readiness and military potentials,' he added. 'Defense policies, psychological operations and innovations during the war game are among the objectives of the drill.' Iranian broadcasts yesterday showed bomb drops by aircraft, rocket firings and paratroopers climbing into helicopters, the Washington Post reported." (Global Security Newswire; 23Nov09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091123_3673.php

U.S. and South Africa strengthen partnership to prevent illicit WMD-related trade in first bilateral workshop
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry today announced the completion of the first ever bilateral Weapons of Mass Destruction Commodity Identification Training (WMD-CIT) instructor workshop in Pretoria, South Africa. United States and South African interagency officials, including NNSA and a multi-National Laboratory training team, and the South African Revenue Service and South African Department of Energy, discussed global best practices to help front line inspectors identify weapons of mass destruction and WMD-related goods across international borders. Recognizing WMD and related goods allows law enforcement officials to stop and respond to suspicious transfers. This cooperation is another example of U.S. and South African partnership to cooperate to build capacity in combating proliferation networks." (NNSA; 20Nov09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2723.htm

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DoD Announces Military Commissions Actions

Today, prosecutors in the Office of Military Commissions announced they intend to ask the convening authority to refer new charges under the recently-enacted Military Commissions Act of 2009 against Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi, in connection with his alleged involvement in an al Qaeda conspiracy to attack military and commercial shipping in the Port of Aden and the Straits of Hormuz.

This announcement follows the attorney general's determination on Nov. 13, 2009, that a military commission was the appropriate forum for prosecution of al Darbi.

The prosecutors are reviewing this and other cases identified by the attorney general as appropriate for trial in a military commission and anticipate making further announcements soon.

As part of the process of moving forward with the prosecution of al Darbi, on Nov. 25, 2009, in response to a request from the prosecutors, the convening authority withdrew and dismissed without prejudice the pending charges against al Darbi. Dismissal without prejudice is a procedural action that permits new charges to be referred at a later time.

A charge is merely an accusation; an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Iraqis Arrest 18 Suspected al—Qaida Associates

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2009 - Iraqi security forces arrested 18 suspected al-Qaida in Iraq associates today, and earlier this week captured a terrorism suspect they've been pursuing for three years, military officials reported. Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched several houses in Mosul looking for an alleged al-Qaida in Iraq regional leader who is suspected of staging deadly attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces.

Based on preliminary questioning and evidence gathered at the scene, Iraqi forces arrested 18 of his suspected associates.

The arrests in Mosul are expected to contribute to greater safety for Iraqis from attacks during the upcoming Eid al-Adha, or "Festival of Sacrifice," Muslim holiday.

In Diyala province Nov. 22, Iraqi security forces, advised by U.S. forces, arrested a suspected leader of a terrorist group, along with a suspected associate.

The judicial court of Muqdadiyah had issued a warrant for Harith Sadun Dawud al-Rubayi for suspicion of murder, kidnapping and bombing attacks against Iraqi citizens and Iraqi security forces. He also is suspected of smuggling weapons, home invasions and stealing money from Iraq's interior ministry.

He is believed to be linked to the kidnapping and murder of the son of a former Muqdadiyah mayor in September, as well as the murder of an Iraqi policeman in Abu Sayda. The suspect has been wanted by authorities and had evaded capture for three years.

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

Realistic Training Gets Soldiers Ready for Iraq

By Army Sgt. Christopher Milbrodt
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 25, 2009 - In the midst of a nondescript Middle Eastern-style village, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers interact with the local inhabitants the same as they have done day in and day out on routine patrols. Today, however, something feels different. You can describe all the little things that make you feel that way: the hairs on your neck, that pit in your stomach, or even the fidgeting that at this point you can't stop. No matter what it is, something isn't right.

You look to your buddy for validation of your feelings, and as he acknowledges, BOOM! Chaos erupts as a car explodes and gunfire bursts from a house down the street. Now your mind clears and your body calms down, and all that remains is your training and muscle memory of your tasks at hand.

This engagement didn't take place on some foreign battlefield, and no one was injured. It was just simulations and blanks. This isn't simply a training event, but a true learning experience from which to build - provided through the Exportable Combat Training Capability, known as XCTC.

While these scenarios unfold, subcontractors monitor the movement and actions of each soldier and establish a high-tech "overwatch" to help even the individual soldier understand what went right and what went wrong.

XCTC is taking the National Guard to a new level of readiness.

In 2006 at Camp Atterbury, Ind., the principal exercise of XCTC was conducted to demonstrate the type of training to be offered. The 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is participating here in the seventh rotation of XCTC's training package since its inception. Each rotation, consisting of 21 days or more, is completely customized and tailored to unit mission and requirements. Previously, this type of training was available only at a select few training installations, and most National Guard units did not have the resources to attend.

As part of the ever-changing overseas contingency operations, XCTC brings the most up-to-date theater-specific training to mobilizing Army National Guard units. This approach to mobilization training cuts down on the time spent at mobilization sites and increases the amount of time units can actively support combat commanders.

The XCTC was designed to fill a capabilities gap in training set forth by Army training strategy that the Army could not provide to Guard units. The National Guard Bureau, along with a team from Stanford University, used the Army's training criteria to develop a program that could fill the void.

The XCTC is available only to deployable expeditionary force brigades headed into combat threat areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan. "We work our way down, and we get those [units] that we think fit the model, but you don't get it unless you're deploying to theater," said Army Col. Rob Moore, chief of the National Guard Bureau's training division. "It is tailored and pinpoint training."

With this new tool, the Army National Guard is able not only to meet, but also to exceed, prior training expectations and standards put in place by the Army. "We know that units that use XCTC accomplish at least 82 percent of all their required tasks for deployment," Moore said.

Total immersion training is what XCTC brings to the units receiving the training package. Soldiers are surrounded by the look, smell, sound, feel and taste of their projected combat tour.

"I believe that increased use of modeling and simulation – and using them with greater effectiveness – will be essential for all reserve components to increase and maintain their combat readiness," said Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.

As part of this immersion, soldiers interact with American and foreign-national role players to make the exercise as real as possible.

"It's a great pleasure to be able to do what I do," said Thomas Cottle, a volunteer role player from Madison, Fla. "I interact with soldiers, but I also interact with Iraqi citizens and citizens from other countries as well who speak Arabic. We're helping make this training exercise more realistic for the soldiers."

Michael LiDondici, managing field director of Allied Container Systems which oversees the role players, said many 53rd Infantry Brigade soldiers have demonstrated a high level of knowledge of Iraqi culture during the training. He attributes this to the fact that many of the soldiers wear combat patches and have already deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"The role players have been absolutely critical to our training success," said Army Col. Richard Gallant, commander of the 53rd. "From working with interpreters to managing the cultural and religious differences, they have created a level of realism we generally don't see prior to deployment."

The appreciation of the level and quality of training extends not only to the leadership, but also to the most important element of the equation: the soldier.

"The training we've had so far has been very beneficial," said Army Pfc. Alistair Salesman, a member of the 53rd. The integration and use of Iraqi nationals, coupled with the complete immersion of the environment, helps to bring valued experience and an ability to better learn the tasks at hand, the soldier added.

As the soldiers maneuver through the mock village, they understand the significance of being engulfed in the surrounding culture. While their environment is chaotic, they understand they have to differentiate between the friendly populace and those who would do harm.

"So far, it's going great. We're learning a lot of across-the-board tactics," said Army Pvt. Eric Alapont, a nursing student from Orlando. "It's really an eye-opener as to what we might expect overseas, given not every town is hostile."

As the brigade finalizes its Florida training before leaving for its active-duty mobilization station, the sense is that the soldiers are more confident in their ability to get the job done when they deploy early next year, and in their prospects of coming back safely.

Army Lt. Col. George Rosser, commander of 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, exudes the confidence his soldiers gained through the training.

"The XCTC portion of [the training] this last week really brings a lot of resources we can't get otherwise, with the civilians on the battlefield and the villages," he said. "That adds a lot more realism, and makes the training that much better for the soldiers.

"I'm absolutely confident in my soldiers," he continued. "We've deployed this battalion and this brigade twice already. ... We have an extensive amount of combat experience."

Rosser said the goal is simple: "Bring everyone home alive, having completed the mission."

(Army Sgt. Christopher Milbrodt serves with the Florida Army National Guard's 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Air Force Lt. Col. Ron Tittle and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa of the Florida National Guard public affairs office contributed to this article.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Engineers Train Afghans in Quality Assurance

By Air Force Capt. Angela Webb
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - Provincial reconstruction team engineers here conducted quality assurance training for more than 30 Afghan contractors, foremen and engineers at the Civil-Military Operations Center in downtown Khost, Nov. 14. The engineers conduct training monthly to address issues found during project site audits throughout the province's 12 districts and one municipality. This training, the third session, concentrated on brick masonry, material storage and project administration. Previous topics included concrete preparation and processing, and plaster and mortar finishing techniques.

"We are addressing recurring quality issues in our training sessions," said Navy Lt. Stephen Gustafson, lead engineer for the provincial reconstruction team. "Our overall goal is to mentor the Afghans in construction best practices and techniques, and facilitate their implementation in the field, so that when [coalition forces] leave, Afghan capacity has grown to the point that the Afghans are mentoring Afghans."

The team's engineers share the latest construction and engineering procedures with their Afghan partners during the training sessions.

"Mentoring the Afghans in construction best practices helps to ensure a lasting, quality product," Gustafson said. "We work closely with the provincial development committee in assessing each project from conception through project turnover."

Significant improvements have been noted since the training sessions began, Gustafson said.

"We noticed improvements in technique, and are spending less time on fundamentals," he said. "We're now spending more time defining and sharpening skills, instead of concentrating on the basics."

Five Khost sector directors attended the latest session, and spoke about the roles of the government, contractors and the provincial reconstruction team for any project and the specific responsibilities after a project is completed.

"It is important to bring everyone together to address some concerns and issues on project construction," said Hamid Shah, director of economy for the province. "We each have a role to make sure the design is done correctly, and it meets the specifications of the contract. If we monitor [and] ensure the owner is properly checking on the site and doing so regularly, then there will be a better product for everyone to enjoy."

The partnership among all development parties is improving, but work remains to be done, Gustafson said.

"There were concerns with a lack of project oversight from all parties involved, so we are working with the [provincial development committee] to visit the project sites frequently and for longer periods of time," he said. "The time we spend with our Afghan contractors is very important in order to provide the proper tools, so they can eventually monitor their own quality and progress."

Nearly 40 projects are in progress throughout the province, and new projects are added periodically to address the latest urgent development needs. Next month's training will concentrate on project management skills, such as development of plans for quality control, safety and work activity.

(Air Force Capt. Angela Webb serves in the public affairs office for the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's Khost province.)

Obama Provides Glimpse of Afghanistan Strategy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - President Barack Obama said today he will announce his decision on the strategy and troop request for Afghanistan "shortly after Thanksgiving." During a news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Obama said the strategy review he and his national security team performed was extremely useful, and he provided a glimpse at the conclusions.

"I can tell you ... that it is in our strategic interest, in our national security interest, to make sure that al-Qaida and its extremist allies cannot operate effectively in those areas," Obama said. "We are going to dismantle and degrade their capabilities and ultimately dismantle and destroy their networks. And Afghanistan's stability is important to that process."

The president said that since the United States went into Afghanistan, the war there lacked the resources or strategy to deal effectively with the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies. "It is my intention to finish the job," he said. "And I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, they will be supportive."

Obama stressed that Afghan security is important globally. "The whole world, I think, has a core security interest in making sure that the kind of extremism and violence that you've seen emanating from this region is tackled, confronted in a serious way," the president said.

Singh agreed with that assessment.

"It is important for the international community to sustain its engagement in Afghanistan, to help its emergence as a modern state," the Indian prime minister said. "The forces of terrorism in our region pose a grave threat to the entire civilized world and have to be defeated. President Obama and I have decided to strengthen our cooperation in the area of counterterrorism."

Confronting extremism must be a multinational effort, Obama said, noting that his announcement of the strategy will include the obligations of international partners.

The strategy, he added, will recognize that the Afghan people ultimately are going to have to provide for their own security.

"So we'll be discussing that process whereby Afghan security forces are properly trained and equipped to do the job," he said. "And it's going to be important to recognize that in order for us to succeed there, you've got to have a comprehensive strategy that includes civilian and diplomatic efforts."

U.S. Expects More NATO Troops for Afghanistan

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - Should President Barack Obama's anticipated Afghanistan strategy announcement call for more U.S. troops, Defense Department and White House officials would expect a greater contribution from their NATO allies, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today. Obama held his ninth and final meeting yesterday with his Afghanistan war council, which includes Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and said today he will make his decision public soon after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"Clearly, if the president decides to commit additional forces to Afghanistan, there would be an expectation that our allies would also commit additional forces," Morrell told reporters during a Pentagon news conference.

Officials also expect that many U.S. allies won't revisit their Afghan strategies until after Obama's announcement, he said, adding that Washington has been "trying to consult" with other troop-contributing nations about Obama's plans. Ultimately, the NATO partners will be informed of U.S. intentions following Obama's official announcement, Morrell added, but he suggested that other countries' decisions likely don't depend on the U.S. strategy.

Rather, he said, European nations will determine their future in Afghanistan following conferences among themselves in December and January. As of now, the United States has not been invited to those meetings, he said.

"I think it would be reasonable to assume that [other nations] have to do their own determination about what they can do, as we are doing what we're doing," he explained. "But I don't think there's any expectation, on the heels of whatever it is the president announces, that all of a sudden you're going to have nations standing up in succession behind him."

Even with the possibility of additional U.S. forces being ordered to Afghanistan, U.S. officials still consider the endeavor there a NATO-led effort, Morrell said.

Morrell added that past NATO contributions haven't gone unnoticed or unfelt by Washington. He pointed out that roughly 68,000 U.S. troops and 45,000 NATO military members are serving in Afghanistan. NATO has been very forthcoming with support for the overall mission there, an effort that often gets overlooked, he said.

"As we've plussed up, NATO has plussed up" over the last three years, Morrell said. "Some may take issue at the kinds of forces or the caveats that come with [NATO forces' participation] and things of that nature, but the bottom line is there is no denying that NATO has ponied up significant numbers of additional forces as we have added forces over the last several years."

Morrell also pointed to NATO nations' roles in northern and western Afghanistan, noting their efforts have allowed U.S. troops to stay focused in the hostile southern and eastern provinces.

"That is something that cannot be discounted," he said. "If we can get more [NATO troops], that would help us ... to sort of focus much more of our efforts in the south, which seems to be the hotbed of Taliban activity. But if indeed we add more forces, it would be expected that our allies would find a way to do the same. And I'm sure appropriate conversations would be had with [NATO nations] about what they can do and when they can do it."

Gates is having his weekly meeting with Obama this afternoon, but plans to leave Washington tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday and return Nov. 30, Morrell said. The secretary believes the past three months of review have been "thorough and comprehensive," and he expects that Obama has made his final decision, Morrell said.

"[The Afghan strategy review] has been a very thorough and comprehensive review, and one that has resulted in everyone involved coming away with a much better understanding of the situation in Afghanistan and the challenges we face there," he said. "So I think [Gates] feels as though it's been a very worthwhile process. And he, like you, now waits for a decision."

Panel Leaders Tour Rampage Site, Describe Mission

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - The leaders of an independent review panel toured the scene of the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting rampage today and described how they view the panel's mission. Former Veterans Affairs Secretary Togo West and retired Adm. Vern Clark spoke at a short news conference at Fort Hood. The two men met with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday and received their charge from him.

The panel will review the circumstances surrounding the Nov. 5 shooting to see how future incidents could be avoided. "We will look at policies and procedures that look at how we deal with servicemembers who may cause trouble or harm to their fellows," West said.

The review is to look at personal reliability programs, counseling programs, procedures on the handling of defense employee's adverse information, medical screening and pre- and post-deployment evaluations. The panel members also are to look at the response to the incident and see how these procedures could be improved.

Today's trip to Fort Hood was important to starting the review, Clark, a former chief of naval operations, said.

"It was important to me to see the site, walk the ground and really see the setting," he said. "Today's activities have been immensely valuable in providing the baseline of factual information upon which we will grow the rest of the information that is required to conduct the assessment."

Clark said he was impressed with the Army's 3rd Corps leadership team. "I just want to single out ... the leadership team at the hospital," he said, adding that the panel also is charged with evaluating the performance of the first responders. "The story about how the first responder team performed is very, very encouraging. It not only involves the leadership team here at Fort Hood, but it involves the leadership teams of the hospitals in the local area and the manner in which they all responded."

West reminded everyone that the panel is not conducting a criminal investigation and will not interfere with the criminal case against Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with 13 counts of murder who remains hospitalized in intensive care.

West said his group will "not point fingers. We are here to accumulate information and offer our best judgments to the secretary of defense."

The investigation is departmentwide, Clark said. "The secretary charged us to find the gaps that make us less effective than we desire to be, and to do that, we will go over a wide range of things after we go through the discovery process."

The panel report is due to Gates by Jan. 15.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Pucino, 34, of Cockeysville, Md., died Nov. 23 in Pashay Kala, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group of the Maryland Army National Guard in Glen Arm, Md.

For more information media may contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005; after hours (910) 689-6187, or visit http://news.soc.mil/.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Jason A. McLeod, 22, of Crystal Lake, Ill., died Nov. 23, west of Pashmul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with mortar fire. He was assigned to the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For more information media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-7525; after hours (719) 526-5500.

Iraqis Kill Bomb Cell Member, Detain 6 Others

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - Iraqi police killed a suspected bombing-cell member and arrested six others in operations over the last two days, military officials reported. Police arrested a suspect today during a combined security operation in Beiji, southwest of Kirkuk, during a search for a member of an al-Qaida in Iraq-sponsored bombing cell.

Based on preliminary questioning and evidence found at the scene, police arrested a suspected accomplice of the wanted man, who was not apprehended.

–In Mosul yesterday, federal police elements arrested five suspected vehicle-borne bomb cell members. A sixth suspect was shot and killed during the operation.

Iraqi police and U.S. advisors were searching for a suspected cell member believed to be associated with the Islamic State of Iraq terrorist organization. The suspect allegedly facilitates vehicle-bomb attacks targeting civilians and security forces in central and northern Iraq.

The team established a cordon and began searching a house in western Mosul for the suspect. During the search, a suspect fled from the building on foot. A member of the security team pursued the suspect and apprehended him. The suspect became combative and aggressively grabbed the weapon of a security team member, who shot and killed the suspect.

Police arrested five suspected associates based on preliminary questioning and evidence gathered during the operation.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

Agency Delivers 'Taste of Home' to Deployed Troops

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - How do you plan Thanksgiving dinner for 180,000 people more than 6,000 miles away? If you're a food buyer at the Defense Logistics Agency, you start by making a shopping list in April for meals to be served to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Providing superb meals to our U.S. troops is a critical mission of the Defense Logistics Agency, and one we put a great deal of effort into," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Chambers commander of the DLA Philadelphia field activity, which provides all the food for U.S. military personnel worldwide, 365 days a year.

"It's very important to us to give our troops a taste of home during the holidays, so we start planning the traditional Thanksgiving meal even before Memorial Day rolls around," Chambers said.

DLA employees in the Philadelphia-based subsistence supply chain start their Thanksgiving meal planning this early to make sure that food items and ingredients will arrive overseas in time for the holiday. Many ingredients for the meals are on hand at prime vendor locations by September, and bigger dining facilities start receiving high-volume items, such as turkeys and large beef roasts, in October.

Navy Capt. Ed Rackauskas, who leads DLA's subsistence directorate, said deliveries began in Iraq and Afghanistan in mid-October to allow for unexpected changes or possible redistribution due to movement of troops. "No matter where troops are stationed, they can expect DLA to provide the best possible meal for Thanksgiving," he added.

He said putting together these meals is challenging, particularly in supplying some of the bigger dining facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan where holiday meals are served all day to accommodate servicemembers working different shifts.

Here is a breakdown of quantities and dollar values for Thanksgiving meals for servicemembers in Iraq:

-- Raw and precooked whole turkey: 225,980 pounds, $795,359.08;

-- Turkey white meat: 77,648 pounds, $416,969.76;

-- Turkey dark meat: 73,296 pounds, $236,013.12;

-- Ham: 40,826 pounds, $135,020.26;

-- Beef: 23,536 pounds, $128,019.30;

-- Shrimp: 28,764 pounds, $180,062.64;

-- Stuffing mix: 37,107 pounds, $87,421.94;

-- Potatoes: 41,515 pounds, $102,362.32;

-- Sweet potatoes: 9,702 cans, $60,799.20;

-- Vegetables, corn, green beans: 59,435 pounds, $80,771.42;

-- Cranberry sauce: 7,188 cans, $52,448.44;

-- Pie: 26,946 pies, $245,320.33; and

-- Cake: 13,544 cakes, $220,915.68.

The total dollar value for Thanksgiving meals in Iraq is $2,741,483.49.

Here is the same breakdown for the $1,301,292.42 spent for Thanksgiving meal items for servicemembers in Afghanistan:

-- Raw and precooked whole turkey: 48,228 pounds, $121,143.96;

-- Turkey white meat: 28,235 pounds, $134,682.35;

-- Turkey dark meat: 14,112 pounds, $32,034.24;

-- Ham: 22,950 pounds, $62,424;

-- Beef: 112,467 pounds, $520,489.01;

-- Shrimp: 21,168 pounds, $140,555.52;

-- Stuffing mix: 24,706 pounds, $49,838.88;

-- Potatoes: 23,814 pounds, $19,815.60;

-- Sweet potatoes: 3,529 cans, $15,017.65;

-- Vegetables, corn, green beans: 48,397 pounds, $23,766.47;

-- Cranberry sauce: 1,764 cans, $8,869.98;

-- Pie: 24,706 pies, $126,411.76; and

-- Cake: 2,824 cakes, $46,243.

(From a Defense Logistics Agency news release.)

Forces in Afghanistan Kill Militant, Detain Suspects

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 24, 2009 - Combined Afghan and international forces killed an enemy militant and detained numerous suspects in recent operations in Afghanistan, military officials reported. In Kandahar province today, a combined force detained several suspected militants, including a known Taliban facilitator responsible for the financial and logistical support of militant elements in the area.

Tips from intelligence sources led the force to search compounds near the village of Bahay Dehe Sufla, southwest of Kandahar City. The suspects were detained without resistance, and one confirmed his identity as the Taliban facilitator.

In another operation today, a combined force detained a sought-after Haqqani terrorist network facilitator and several other militants in Khost province. Tips from intelligence sources led the force to search a compound near the village of Maymad Kalay in the Sabari district. The militants were detained without resistance, and one identified himself as the Haqqani facilitator.

In an operation in Parwan province yesterday, a combined force detained a prominent insurgent leader associated with indirect-fire attacks near Bagram Airfield.

On Nov. 22 in Ghazni province, a combined force killed ane enemy militant and detained another suspected militant while pursuing a Taliban commander known to lead militant foreign-fighter elements and to be responsible for several attacks in the area.

The force searched a compound near the village of Ali Niazi in the Qara Bagh district after intelligence sources indicated militant activity. While clearing the compound, the force shot and killed an armed militant after he displayed hostile intent, then searched the compound without further incident, recovering pistols and grenades and detaining the suspected militant.

In a separate Nov. 22 operation, a combined force detained several suspected militants near the village of Kashimiri Bala in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province while pursuing a sought-after Taliban weapons facilitator operating in the area.

The force searched compounds after intelligence sources reported militant activity and recovered small-arms weapons, grenades, multiple assault rifle ammunition magazines and a military-grade night optical device.

In another operation Nov. 22 near the village of Ebrahim Kheyl, also in Logar's Baraki Barak district, a combined force detained several suspected militants while pursuing a Taliban commander linked with local senior Taliban leaders and actively operating in the area. The force targeted compounds after intelligence reported militant activity in that area. The search went off without incident, and the suspected militants were detained.

Also on Nov. 22, a combined force detained several militants in Kandahar province, one of whom is a known Taliban facilitator, reportedly linked to senior local Taliban leaders and involved with a suicide-bomber element in the area.

The force searched buildings in the Molla Alla Kalay neighborhood of Kandahar City after intelligence sources reported the facilitator to be located there. The search was completed without incident, and several militants, one of whom surrendered immediately and identified himself as the Taliban facilitator, were detained.

In an operation in Kandahar province Nov. 21, a combined force detained a group of suspected militants while pursuing a senior Taliban commander from northern Kandahar. The force searched a vehicle in Ghorak district without incident and detained the occupants for additional questioning.

Also on Nov. 21, a combined force in Paktika province detained two militants, one of whom was a sought-after Haqqani facilitator who was dressed in women's attire to avoid capture. The facilitator is believed to be responsible for financing and transporting weapons and fighters to other militant elements in the area.

The force targeted a compound near the village of Nasruddin Kelay in the Bermel district where intelligence sources reported the facilitator to be located, searched the compound without incident, and detained the suspected militants. Afghan members of the force immediately saw through the facilitator's disguise when they questioned him, and were able to identify him.

In a separate operation in Kandahar province Nov. 21, a combined force detained two militants, one of whom was a sought after Taliban facilitator responsible for several attacks in the area who has links to local Taliban senior leaders.

The force targeted buildings on the north side of Kandahar City where intelligence sources reported the facilitator to be located, searched the buildings without incident, and detained the suspected militants, one of whom was identified as the facilitator.

No civilians were harmed in the operations, officials said.

(Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command news releases.)

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Briand T. Williams, 25, of Sparks, Ga., died Nov. 22, in Numaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

For more information the media may contact the Fort Benning public affairs office at (706) 545-3512; after hours, call (706) 545-2218.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New NATO Command in Kabul Focuses on Afghan Training

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 23, 2009 - A newly established NATO command was activated Nov. 21 at Camp Eggers here, as the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan merged with the new NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan to create a unified command for the training of Afghan security forces. The multination partnership aims to foster new and existing relationships and build on the already expanding task of training and mentoring Afghan national security forces in preparation for the future security and sustainment of Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who was tapped to lead the new NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, intends to continue focusing coalition forces efforts on Afghanistan's sustainability as a free and open society.

"Our mission is about teaming with Afghans to build a bright, dynamic future for this sovereign nation. As the...mission has evolved, so has the mindset governing our outlook and perspective," said U.S. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who was tapped to lead the new command. "This new mindset, a mindset that challenges us to focus on the people of Afghanistan, requires us to be agile, adaptive, culturally respectful, and innovative. With this mission, and this new mindset, the path to success for [the command] lies with 3 T's: teaming, transparency, and transition."

U.S. Commanding General Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who heads NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and more than 400 coalition soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, U.S. Defense Department civilians, joined with the Afghan ministers of defense and interior and partner nation representatives at the activation and change-of-command ceremony.

The former commander, Maj. Gen. Richard P. Formica, applauded previous successes while looking to the future with a sense of optimism and pride with the establishment of NTM-A.

"It has been my honor and privilege to serve here in Afghanistan," Formica said. "Those of us who serve here recognize the strategic importance of this mission and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to bringing stability and security to the people of Afghanistan."

Preceding the activation, an official change-of-command ceremony was held at Camp Eggers where Caldwell assumed authority from Formica.

(From a NATO Training Mission Afghanistan news release.)

Logistics Chiefs Lays Out Challenges in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 23, 2009 - Everything in Afghanistan – including combating improvised explosive devices – is made more difficult because the nation is at the end of a long and complicated logistics trail, Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter said today. Carter, who has charge of acquisitions, technology and logistics provided insight about his office during a Pentagon roundtable meeting with reporters today. He said there is no higher mission than devising ways to counter the IED threat.

"Getting things into Afghanistan, which we need to do as quickly as we possibly can do it, is very difficult," Carter said. "Next to Antarctica, Afghanistan is probably the most incommodious place to be trying to fight a war. It's landlocked, rugged, the road network is much thinner than Iraq and it has fewer airports."

Added to the challenge of supplying Afghanistan is the need to get military materiel out of Iraq on deadline, making for an incredibly complicated process.

Some of the things that have worked well in countering roadside and car bombs in Iraq -- intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and additional infrastructure -- are more difficult to get into an austere environment like Afghanistan.

"It's not a matter of just make it and fly it over there," Carter said, citing the MRAP vehicles' need for concrete slabs as an example. "There's no place to get concrete in Afghanistan, you have to get it from Pakistan," he said. "We can produce MRAPs faster than we can introduce them to soldiers and Marines."

The soldiers and Marines need to get the vehicles, learn to drive them, learn their strengths and weaknesses and then get into the fight with them. "For want of a nail – everything is like that in Afghanistan," Carter said, noting the old proverb that underscores how lack of even the smallest things make Afghanistan a challenge.

Carter and Marine Lt. Gen. John Paxton, director of operations for the Joint Staff, are in charge of the Pentagon's new Counter IED Task Force. "When I was offered this job by Secretary [Robert M.] Gates, he said the troops are at war, the building is not and especially acquisition, technology and logistics," he said. "I've tried to change that."

Carter noted that Gates wants more efficiency in countering IEDs – the leading killer of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "The secretary would like the department as a whole to quickly get up to the learning curve that took a number of years in Iraq," he said. "That means to bring together all the pieces that are already working on the problem."

This includes the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization; the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Task Force; the MRAP Task Force; various organizations in theater and the service labs and operators, Carter said.

"All are doing good work, but the charge is to get them all together and make the whole greater than the sum of its parts," he said.

There is no silver bullet against IEDs, the undersecretary said, and there is no one material solution. His group is looking at anything and everything that can be effective – now. "It's a six-month effort," he said. "So it is intense, and won't do something that will make us better in two years, but two, four or six months from now," he said.

The logisticians have done a great job in supplying American troops with what they need, when they need it, DoD officials said, but the next months will challenge them. Between 50,000 and 60,000 U.S. soldiers and their equipment will leave Iraq after national elections there next year. By the end of 2011, all American forces are to be out of Iraq.

Among the logistics questions that need to be answered is, does the equipment come back to the states to reconstitute the Army? Does it go to the Guard and Reserve? How much should go directly to Afghanistan? How much should stay in pre-positioned stocks in Kuwait? How much should go to Iraqi security forces?

It is not as simple as loading it aboard a ship or plane and taking it away, Carter said.

"It's quite a challenge," he said. "You have to figure out where everything goes that is going out."

Pentagon Convenes Fort Hood Shooting Task Force

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 23, 2009 - The leaders of the Pentagon's review board on the Fort Hood, Texas, rampage reported for duty here today to begin their 45-day investigation to what led to the mass shooting, a Pentagon official said. The Nov. 5 shooting at Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Center left 12 soldiers and one Army civilian dead and 30 others injured.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Nov. 19 that the initial review board will be headed by former Army Secretary Togo West and former Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark.

West and Clark met with their staff, which consists of representatives from each of the military services, for the first time today. They are: Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army commander; Navy Vice Adm. Michael C. Vitale, commander of Navy Installations Command; Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel; and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Willie J. Williams, director of the Marine Corps staff.

The panel will review possible weaknesses in Pentagon policies, programs and procedures in hopes of preventing similar incidences in the future, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

Also, West and Clark are scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates this afternoon to further outline and address his intents.

"They have a very tight timeline to operate off of," Whitman said. "It's a very ambitious task that the secretary has given them."

The terms of reference for the investigation, which was publically released today, will guide the task force in their review. The Pentagon's review is independent of the criminal investigation, as well as those by the inspector general and White House, and doesn't employ the task force to take action against people suspected of withholding information that may have prevented the incident.

According to the terms of reference, the Pentagon's review will not overlap with President Barack Obama's review of intelligence matters related to the shooting or investigations of individuals in the intelligence community.

"The charter is to look at things outside of any criminal- or liability-type review that's taking place," Whitman explained. "This is not a criminal review, [but] they'll certainly make recommendations."

The review will take a closer look at personal reliability programs, counseling programs, procedures on the handling of defense employee's adverse information, medical screening and pre- and post-deployment evaluations. It also will take into account force protection programs, emergency response policies and the functionality and adequacy of those programs, policies and procedures.

The task force's review will lead to a follow-on investigation that is expected to last four to six months, Whitman said. The more in-depth review will entail each service selecting an investigative panel that will report their findings up the chain of command to a department-level panel. The departmentwide group will assess the findings and identify changes needed in policy and procedure, as well as areas where additional resources are required.

"This effort here will largely inform what the broader, sustained efforts will be," Whitman said. "This will not be exclusively what determines the longer-sustained efforts. But all of the energy of the department is going to go into assisting these two prominent individuals in this very quick look" at the events that led to the shooting.

Gates is very confident in West and Clark to head the task force, Whitman said, adding that their history of service and compassion for servicemembers makes them more than credible and qualified.

"When you take a look at the individuals [Gates] asked to lead up this panel, these are two very prominent Americans that have a tremendous amount of experience with the United State military, and have, over their many years, established a reputation of caring about the men and women in uniform," he added.

As of now, West and Clark are not expected to be part of the follow-on review, he said. The panel's final report is due to Gates by Jan. 15.

Meanwhile, a military magistrate at Fort Hood on Nov. 21 ordered shooting suspect Nidal M. Hasan to remain in custody until the trial, which has yet to be scheduled, a Fort Hood press release issued today says. Hasan has been in custody and in the hospital since the Nov. 5 shooting.

Fort Hood officials are concerned about protecting the integrity of the judicial process, and all further updates about the criminal proceedings will be released by the Army's Criminal Investigative Division, the release says.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Hand, 20, of Kansas City, Mo., died Nov. 22 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For additional background information on this Marine, media representatives may contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office at (910) 451-7200.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Nov. 19 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when a suicide car-bomber attacked their unit. They were assigned to the 782d Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. John J. Cleaver, 36, of Marysville, Wash.; and

Sgt. Daniel A. Frazier, 25, of Saint Joseph, Mo.

For more information the media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at (910) 432-0661.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Iraqi Forces, U.S. Advisors Capture Terrorism Suspects

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 20, 2009 - Iraqi security forces arrested five suspected members of the al-Qaida in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq terrorist groups today during three combined security operations conducted with U.S. advisors in the Iraqi cities of Ramadi, Tikrit and Kirkuk, military officials reported. Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched two buildings in Ramadi for a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq leader believed to be responsible for multiple vehicle-borne bomb attacks in the region.

After questioning those in the buildings and examining evidence found at the scene, Iraqi forces arrested two suspected al-Qaida in Iraq associates.

In Tikrit, Salahuddin province police and U.S. advisors searched a building for an alleged associate of al-Qaida in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq. Police conducted a preliminary investigation, and based on questioning conducted at the scene, arrested two individuals determined to be accomplices of the suspected al-Qaida in Iraq member.

In southern Kirkuk, an Iraqi emergency services unit and U.S. advisors searched a building for a suspected Islamic State of Iraq member believed to be involved in planning and conducting vehicle-borne bomb attacks against security forces in Iraq.

Members of the Iraqi unit made one arrest without incident based on evidence found at the scene linking the arrested individual to criminal activity.

In northeastern Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi soldiers arrested a Kataib Hezbollah terrorist organization cell member during a combined operation.

The Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors searched a building and arrested the Kataib Hezbollah member, who allegedly leads a sniper and missiles group in addition to being part of a media cell that records attacks against security forces in Iraq.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

U.S., Canadian Defense Chiefs Answer Afghanistan Questions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 20, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay met here today to discuss bilateral, hemispheric issues, but reporters' questions afterward were all about Afghanistan. In their meeting, MacKay and Gates discussed building a maritime surveillance capability, defense issues in the Arctic and security cooperation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

But Afghanistan was in the background of all discussions. In his second-term inaugural address yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he wants to assume security control in his country by 2014, and Gates was asked if that was feasible.

"Our goal is to enable the Afghans to take responsibility for their own security," Gates said. "All of us who have troops in Afghanistan look for the day when we can turn over that responsibility and begin bringing our troops home."

The secretary noted that Afghans and the international community have a common interest in Afghanistan being responsible for its own security, Gates said, and the transfer of security responsibility to Afghanistan would not mean that the international community would sever all ties to the country. The nations working in the country now intend to remain engaged in Afghanistan and help the country develop governance and their economy over the long term, he added.

"We are not going to do what we did in 1989 and turn our backs on Afghanistan," Gates said. "What we would hope is that in a reasonable period of time we could begin transferring security to the Afghans as they are ready to take responsibility. Everybody's hope is that it will come sooner rather than later."

Canadian forces will continue to deploy to Regional Command South in Afghanistan through the end of 2011, but Canadian aid will continue beyond that date, MacKay said. The minister said Canada will continue to work with the United States and other NATO nations to ensure security for necessary infrastructure projects.

The Netherlands in 2010, and then Canada in 2011, will withdraw troops from the country. Both the Dutch and Canadians have had forces in Afghanistan since 2002. Gates thanked both nations for their contributions and sacrifices, and he added that NATO officials understand this is coming and are planning appropriately.

Regional Command South is clearly of critical importance in Afghanistan, both MacKay and Gates said. The area in and around Kandahar is the home turf of the Taliban. Canada is putting the counterinsurgency strategy in place in and around Kandahar city.

"We are liberating some of the villages and towns [near] Kandahar, and then holding and building, and then turning over that security responsibility to Afghan security forces," MacKay said. This classic counterinsurgency strategy has the blessing of International Security Assistance Force leaders.

More forces are needed in Afghanistan, and they don't have to be American, MacKay said.

"The United States has contributed mightily," he said. "They have been in a leadership role. But this is an international mission, and I think it is fair to say that all NATO countries will up their game and look for ways to contribute."

Nations can aid efforts in Afghanistan in any number of ways, MacKay said. "But what is needed right now, frankly, is combat soldiers," he added.

Corruption is endemic in Afghanistan, and Karzai has promised to attack it. Gates said the United States will aid that effort by making certain that aid provided by the government does not get siphoned off to line corrupt pockets.

"The place to start is where we have a direct interest and where we control the flow of dollars," he said.

Gates noted that while corruption is a big problem in Afghanistan, the situation isn't hopeless. "The reality is we have some very good ministers in Afghanistan," he said, specifically praising the ministers of interior and defense. "This is not all a bleak picture. There are some bright spots. The key is to strengthen that, and make them more widespread."

The two defense leaders did discuss hemispheric issues in their meeting, and Gates said it was past time for the two allies to get together and discuss these and other bilateral issues.

"We focused on rejuvenating the Permanent Joint Board on Defense and assigning new tasks to the board relevant to our defense dialogue," Gates said.

DOD Statement on Fort Hood Independent Review

The Department of Defense today released a statement by Togo West and retired Adm. Vern Clark, co-chairs of the DoD independent review related to Fort Hood.

"In light of the shooting at Fort Hood, Secretary Gates has asked us to lead a department-wide review to ensure the safety and health of DOD employees and their families.

"The secretary has given extensive guidance on areas to be examined – areas that cover a broad range of issues, programs, policies, and procedures. Considering the scope of this review, its short deadline, and its importance to the Department of Defense, we will be focused intently on our work during this time. At the end of this process, we will be more than willing to discuss our findings.

"This task is a solemn responsibility, and one that we undertake with humility and a firm commitment to fulfill the department's – and the nation's – obligation to keep our troops, their families, and all DoD employees safe."

For additional information, media may contact OSD Public Affairs, Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington at 703-697-5131.

Gates Highlights Canada's Efforts in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 20, 2009 - Afghanistan was among the issues that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay discussed during a bilateral meeting here today. In a speech to the Halifax International Security Forum here, Gates recognized the contributions and sacrifices that Canadian servicemembers have made in that country.

"In Afghanistan, the Canadian military has more than distinguished itself in battle in some of the most dangerous parts of the country," Gates said.

Canada has more than 2,800 troops in the ground in Afghanistan, serving in Regional Command South, where Canadian generals have commanded the troublesome region. Canada has suffered among the highest per-capita casualty rates there, with more than 130 servicemembers killed. Canada also has contributed generously to support economic and infrastructure improvements and in building government institutions.

"It was Canadian soldiers – along with our British, Dutch, Danish and Estonian allies – who largely held the line in the south before U.S. reinforcements arrived in strength earlier this year," Gates said.

The secretary called on other allies and friends "to do what they can on behalf of this noble and necessary campaign – an effort that will ... require more commitment, more sacrifice and more patience from the community of free nations."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, November 20, 2009

Rabies [outbreak in Bali] originated in Indonesia, not bioterrorism, says virologist [Ni Nyoman Sri Budayanti]
"The Molecular Biology Laboratory at the University of Udayana's School of Medicine has confirmed the rabies outbreak in Bali originated in Indonesia, an expert [Ni Nyoman Sri Budayanti, head of the laboratory] confirmed [, denying] reports the virus was related to international bioterrorism as previously speculated by a government official. [...] 'We assume the virus entered Bali through inter-island animal trafficking. Our study found the virus came from Flores in East Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi,' she said. Budayanti went on to say that many fishermen from East Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi took their rabies-affected dogs while they were fishing in Bali waters. [...] The increasing demand for dog meat among Balinese people may have also exacerbated the spread of the virus on the island. [...] The rabies outbreak hit Bali in November 2008 and has so far claimed 17 lives." (Jakarta Post; 19Nov09; Luh De Suriyani) http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/11/18/rabies-originated-indonesia-not-bioterrorism-says-virologist.html

World's top gene synthesis companies establish tough biosecurity screening protocol
"Five of the world's leading gene synthesis companies [that represent approximately 80 percent of the global gene synthesis capacity] announced agreement that they will apply a common screening protocol to promote biosecurity in the gene synthesis industry. By screening the sequences of synthetic gene orders and the customers who place them, the companies [Blue Heron Biotechnology, DNA2.0, GENEART, GenScript, and Integrated DNA Technologies] aim to support government efforts to prevent the misuse of gene synthesis technology. They have formed the International Gene Synthesis Consortium (IGSC) to coordinate ongoing best practices development and to work together with governments and others concerned to promote the beneficial application of gene synthesis technology and to safeguard biosecurity. [...] The IGSC's 'Harmonized Screening Protocol for Gene Sequence & Customer Screening to Promote Biosecurity' establishes the five core components that each IGSC company will apply to promote the safe use of synthetic genes." (Earthtimes; 19Nov09; Source: PRWeb) http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/worldrsquos-top-gene-synthesis-companies-establish-tough-biosecurity-screening-protocol,1054186.shtml

Group [American Association for the Advancement of Science] warns biosecurity bill [Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2009] could burden scientific research
"Mandates included in new federal legislation could impair the ability of U.S. laboratories to conduct important biodefense research, according to [the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which] earlier this month submitted a letter to the bill's [Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2009] authors. [...] The association is primarily concerned that the bill calls for the establishment of a new system of oversight and security procedures under the Homeland Security Department for certain select agents, pathogens and biological toxins declared to pose a severe threat to human or animal health. [...] Many in the biological research community have raised concerns that laboratories already must use time and resources that could be employed for research to deal with government security rules." (Global Security Newswire; 19Nov09; Martin Matishak)

U.S. funds development of freeze-dried smallpox vaccine
"The United States expects to pay Danish biotechnology firm Bavarian Nordic up to $40 million to adapt its smallpox vaccine so that it can be freeze-dried, the company announced yesterday. [...] The new contract would fund preclinical and clinical studies on efforts to create a freeze-dried version of Bavarian Nordic's Imvamune vaccine. It would also be used to 'validate the new freeze-dried manufacturing process,' according to a press release. A freeze-dried smallpox vaccine could be kept longer than the existing liquid form that must be frozen for storage, Bavarian Nordic said." (Global Security Newswire; 18Nov09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091118_2578.php

Army, contractor [General Dynamics] develop biological material detector
"The U.S. Army and defense contractor General Dynamics have signed agreements to work together on rolling out a new biological agent detector [which will use ultra violet light irradiation] for commercial use. General Dynamics' Armament and Technical Products division last week signed a cooperative research and development agreement and a patent license deal with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center [...]. 'The commercialization of the TAC-BIO will make the device widely available to detect biological warfare threat agents to protect war fighters on the battlefield, first responders and civilians at home,' Edgewood Technical Director Rick Decker said in a statement. 'Collaboration ... will get this government-created innovation to the end-user much faster than we can use traditional means' he said. Work on the system began seven years ago [...]. [...] a prototype has been created 'that is ready for transition to the industrial sector.'" (Global Security Newswire; 17 Nov09)

FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] denies approval for Human Genome's anthrax drug [ABthrax]
"Human Genome Sciences Inc said the U.S. health regulators declined to approve its experimental treatment for anthrax infection. [...] U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a complete response letter asking for additional information relating to its biologics license application (BLA) seeking approval of ABthrax, also known as raxibacumab. [...]. The company said [...] that the complete response letter sent by the FDA seemed 'inconsistent' with the agency's published final rule governing the development of new drugs. [...] ABthrax was developed under a government project to encourage new drugs and vaccines to fight potential bioweapons. The project was launched after letters carrying powdered anthrax [bacteria] killed five people in 2001. [...] The U.S. government had already ordered 65,000 doses of ABthrax for a national stockpile of emergency medicines. In July, the company received more than $160 million through sales of the drug to the government in the first two quarters of 2009." (Reuters; 16Nov09; Krishnakali Sengupta) http://in.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idINBNG38513920091116?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0

Feds ride rails to stop bombers in their tracks
"Federal officers equipped with nuclear- and biological-weapons detectors have begun to ride the nation's rail system, including Amtrak, to prevent terrorists from hauling dirty bombs and other explosives to big-city targets, The Post has learned. The Department of Homeland Security, working with the FBI, has been quietly rolling out handheld radiological devices to specially trained Transportation Security Administration agents who are randomly fanning out aboard trains and buses and at transit hubs. [...] The small portable instruments detect radiological and biological particles emitted from materials that may be transported in baggage or personal belongings."
(New York Post; 16Nov09; Murray Weiss)

'Breeding Bio Insecurity' [a book by Edward Sylvester and Lynn Klotz] argues for change in biodefense policy
"With their new book, 'Breeding Bio Insecurity: How U.S. Biodefense is Exporting Fear, Globalizing Risk, and Making Us All Less Secure,' Edward Sylvester, an Arizona State University professor, and Lynn Klotz, a senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, investigate the implications of costly, complex and secretive U.S. biodefense policy. The book [...] offers readers facts and figures regarding the U.S. government's biodefense policy, and compels policymakers to justify spending and actions. The authors argue that the greatest external threat facing the U.S. comes from rogue nations conducting secret research rather than hypothetical scenarios in which people with basic skills weaponize deadly biomaterials. [...] The anthrax used against American citizens in the attacks after Sept. 11 was almost certainly stolen from Fort Detrick in Maryland, he [Sylvester] notes. 'It was the extremely lethal Ames strain, cultured by well-trained scientists. It couldn't have been grown from a soil sample in someone's basement lab or a cave somewhere,' Sylvester says. [...] The book asserts that the only way to truly defend the country from bioterrorism is through multilateral activities, such as treaties, and international cooperation on defenses against all diseases." (Physorg; 12Nov09; Source: Arizona State University) http://www.physorg.com/wire-news/19484825/breeding-bio-insecurity-argues-for-change-in-biodefense-policy.html

New [background] checks for bio-terror[ism] agent handlers
"People handling biological agents that could be used for terrorist attacks will face new background checks under a measure that has been introduced to parliament. Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the change will enhance Australia's capacity to secure biological agents of diseases such as anthrax, smallpox and the plague. They are known as security sensitive biological agents, or SSBAs. [...] The new measure would enable the federal health minister to determine that background checking of people who handle SSBAs is conducted by the Australian Background Checking Service, or AusCheck, of the Attorney-General's Department." (Brisbane Times; 19Nov09; Source: Australian Associated Press)

Tiny chip could diagnose disease
"A tiny drop of blood is drawn through the chip, where disease markers are caught and show up under light. The device uses the tendency of a fluid to travel through small channels under its own force, instead of using pumps. The design is simpler, requires less blood be taken, and works more quickly than existing 'lab on a chip' designs, the team report in Lab on a Chip. [...] The device relies on an array of antibody molecules that are designed to latch on to the protein-based molecular markers of disease [agents] in blood. The antibodies are chemically connected to molecules that emit light of a specific colour when illuminated - but only when they have bound to the disease [agent] markers. [...] While the approach will make diagnosis cheaper, co-author Emmanuel Delamarche said the key aspect of the approach is its speed. 'We are giving back precious minutes to doctors so they can make informed and accurate decisions right at the time they need them most to save lives.'" (British Broadcasting Company; 18Nov09; Jason

Officials receive bioterrorism training devised by Interpol
"'The UAE is not currently facing a bioterrorism threat, however preparedness is key to ensure the safety of the public, as we could easily be affected in case of such an attack elsewhere in the world,' said Colonel Ali Salem Al Khayal, Head of Interpol Abu Dhabi, at the Interior ministry. He was speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of an Interpol training session on preventing bioterrorism, hosted by the ministry. [...] Thirty UAE officials, from various forces, including the police, rescue and emergency management, health authorities, customs, armed forces and the national emergency and crisis management authority are attending the training, which concludes on Thursday. Training sessions devised by Interpol are being delivered by experts from 11 countries." (Gulf News; 17Nov09; Rayeesa Absal)

Farm tractor driven through fence at Umatilla Chemical Depot [Hermiston, OR]
"A large farm tractor drove through a Umatilla Chemical Depot fence [...], and the driver abandoned it. The person responsible has not been apprehended. [...] The tractor did not get near the depot's chemical weapons storage area. [...] No damage was sustained to chemical munitions or the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility UMCDF) [which] is not processing chemical agent at this time. Depot officials notified off-post emergency operations centers in Umatilla and Morrow counties, Ore., Benton County, Wash., those in Oregon and Washington states, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality. Citizens should report any suspicious activities in and around the depot to their local police departments or the depot." (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 16Nov09)

Russian [chemical weapons disposal] site [Maradykovsky facility in the Kirov Region] finishes disposal of sarin nerve agent
"A Russian chemical weapons disposal site has finished elimination of 232.6 metric tons of the nerve agent sarin [...]. The Maradykovsky facility in the Kirov Region destroyed 4,866 munitions filled with the chemical warfare material. Progress has also been made in preparations to begin disarmament operations for a cache of munitions filled with a mixture of mustard and lewisite blister agents. There are 150 metric tons of the material waiting for disposal. 'The facility has completed the construction of a line for the destruction of mustard-lewisite mixture,' said the Kirov Region government in a statement. 'In late November, hook-up and commissioning work will start at the line, testing the technology for destroying this toxic substance.' Full chemical weapons destruction at Maradykovsky is expected to be finished by 2012." (Global Security Newswire; 19Nov09; Source:

Mustard gas men gain recognition
"Three RAAF armourers who risked their lives working with mustard gas in Glenbrook during World War II returned to the village last Wednesday to unveil a plaque commemorating the men who worked on the top secret project. Geoff Burn, Doug Bain and Arthur Lewis were the guests of honour at the special Remembrance Day ceremony at Panthers Glenbrook. Now in their mid-80s, the men worked with secret stockpiles of mustard gas in a disused Glenbrook railway tunnel during World War II but struggled for decades to gain formal recognition for their role in the war effort. [...] 'Many of the health issues that were faced throughout that period continue to be faced by many of the men that were involved in that unit today,' said Mr Bradbury. The Labor MP paid tribute to historian Geoff Plunkett who helped lift the lid on the secret mustard gas unit with his 2008 book on Australia's chemical warfare history." (Blue Mountains Gazette; 18Nov09) http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/news/local/news/general/mustard-gas-men-gain-recognition/1680969.aspx

Cell phone sensor aims to crowd source chemical attack information
"NASA scientists have developed a new chemical sensor that allows iPhones to identify low airborne concentrations of chemicals including ammonia, chlorine gas and methane. The postage-stamp sized chemical sensor was developed by Jing Li, a Physical Scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. The project was developed with other researchers as part of Homeland Security's Cell-All program, which was created to put more mobile sensors in the hands of every cell phone user. [...] The sensor, it is hoped, could be used to alert first responders to the presence of a chemical agent stemming from an accident or attack. The device would work even if the cell phone user loses consciousness from the chemical's presence." (Bio Prep Watch; 17Nov09; Nick Rees) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/210959-cell-phone-sensor-aims-to-crowd-source-chemical-attack-information

Honduran Foreign Ministry declared CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] national authority
"The Foreign Ministry of Honduras has been selected to manage implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the country [...] The convention requires that all member states establish or designate a national authority to manage contact with other CWC member nations and with the Hague-based organization that monitors compliance with the pact. [...] Honduras in 2005 joined the pact that prohibits development, production, stockpiling, transfer or use of chemical warfare materials such as mustard blister agent and the nerve agents sarin and VX. All but three of the 188 member nations to the Chemical Weapons Convention had set national authorities [...]." (Global Security Newswire; 09Nov09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091106_4701.php

Drill tests nuclear plant's [Duane Arnold Energy Center] crisis plan [Linn County, IA]
"Linn County emergency planners got a call that there was a fire at the Duane Arnold Energy Center just north of Palo. As the training drill went on, the 45 people at the agency's office learned that the fire had caused a steam leak outside the plant. They would have to evacuate 18,000 students from area public schools. To make things worse, a train had 'derailed' at the intersection of Blairs Ferry Road and Interstate 380. [...] The plant hasn't seen a real emergency over its 35-year history, but that doesn't mean something like this couldn't happen. 'We do this to make sure that communications flow and internal and external orders are coordinated and so that information and equipment orders flow the way they're supposed to,' said Mike Goldberg, Linn County's Emergency Management Agency coordinator. [...] Goldberg said coordinating information and orders among federal, state, county and local authorities isn't easy, but as the flood of 2008 showed, it is essential in a crisis." (iStockAnalyst; 19Nov09;
Source: Gazette - Cedar Rapids)

Homeland security misses self-imposed schedule to certify new radiation detectors
"The acting head of the department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office said in June that Homeland Security would sign off this fall on two congressionally mandated certifications for the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitor system. 'October is kind of our notional date right now,' Chuck Gallaway told the House Homeland Security Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science and Technology Subcommittee. A department spokeswoman last week said testing and evaluation of the monitors is 'still ongoing.' [...] Department officials have said they hope to deploy 1,400 of the new machines at a cost of roughly $1.2 billion to detect materials that could be used in a radiological or nuclear weapon. The department has already spent roughly $230 million on the effort, with each sensor [is] expected to cost approximately $822,000. The United States has spent more than $3 billion since 2002 to field devices intended to detect radioactive material being smuggled through border crossings with Canada and Mexico or through seaports." (Global Security Newswire; 17Nov09; Martin Matishak) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20091117_8921.php

Abused wife [Amber Cummings] pleads guilty in husband's [James Cummings] shooting [Rockland, ME]
"A 31-year-old woman [Amber Cummings] faces no more than a year behind bars after pleading guilty to domestic violence manslaughter for fatally shooting her sleeping husband [James Cummings] [...] Cummings told police that her husband was a white supremacist and was plotting to build so-called dirty bombs and set them off during President Barack Obama's inauguration. Radioactive materials were removed from their home after his death, but authorities said there weren't enough to make a dirty bomb and that the public was never at risk."(Nashua Telegraph; 16Nov09; Source: AP) http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/News/StateNewEngland/437230-227/abused-wife-pleads-guilty-in-husbands-shooting.html

TV show on 'dirty bomb' hitting Portland offered good advice
"On Thursday, National Geographic aired a one-hour special depicting the impact of a 'dirty bomb' attack in Portland. While dirty bombs – which use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material – are fearsome, it is important to know that the U.S. government and the average citizen have tools to effectively prevent and respond to such a scenario. Through the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and our National Laboratories, the federal government has the world's best nuclear experts working to prevent and respond to nuclear terrorism. [...] Our teams would deploy and gather and share the critical information and provide medical advice for all types of radiation exposure. With state-of-the-art computer modeling, aerial surveillance and radioisotope identification, NNSA would provide crucial information to first responders to help them disseminate information to the community. [...] Do not self-evacuate without direction or it may increase the risk for you and your family. A dirty bomb would likely not release enough radiation to kill or cause severe illness to those unaffected by the immediate blast area." (Portland Press Herald; 13Nov09; Joseph Krol)

Increasing likelihood of terrorist getting hands on N[uclear]-arms: [U.S. Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton
"Warning that there is an increasing likelihood of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons if preventive measures are not taken now, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that too much of the world's atomic material remains vulnerable to theft or diversion. [...] Clinton said that in the early days of the atomic age, a handful of powerful countries could effectively set non-proliferation strategy. 'But in today's changing world, with information and technology leaping across borders, industrial capacity more widely distributed, and non-state actors wielding increasing influence, it will require unprecedented international cooperation,' Clinton said and suggested that the UN atomic watchdog IAEA be given more teeth. [...] 'The most effective way to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism is to ensure that nuclear materials that can be used to build weapons are well protected against theft or seizure. 'That is why the United States has proposed a plan to secure all vulnerable nuclear material worldwide within four years -- a plan that has now won the endorsement of the UN Security Council,' Clinton said." (Economic Times; 30Oct09)

Poison conviction contested: Expert witness in ricin trial [of Kenneth Olsen] was later fired
"A Spokane Valley man [Kenneth Olsen, a former computer programmer and part-time massage therapist] serving 10 years in federal prison for making a deadly chemical poison is asking to have his conviction overturned because one of the government's expert witnesses was later fired for misconduct in other criminal cases. [...] Olsen is scheduled for a Jan. 29 hearing on his request to set aside his 2003 jury conviction for making ricin. The conviction has been upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, although his original sentence was remanded and reduced." (Spokesman-Review; 19Nov09; Jim Camden) http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/nov/19/poison-conviction-contested/

Biomedical scientists develop new anti-toxin
"Researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) in Wiltshire have been working on a substance to combat the effects of ricin poisoning. [...] the institution's Dr Jane Holley revealed they have succeeded in coming up with the first anti-toxin that has gone into production. She commented: 'In the past there has been lots of research carried out using different methods.' However, never before has this been translated into production techniques, the expert added. The principal scientist in biomedical sciences at DSTL - which is an agency of the Ministry of Defence and aims to supply impartial, scientific and technical research to the government - said the product should be available within the next couple of years." (Mediplacements; 12Nov09; Alex Franklin Stortford) http://www.mediplacements.com/article-19457193-biomedical_scientists_develop.html

Chairs of three [counter terrorism] Security Council Committees aimed at countering terrorist threat, monitoring related sanctions, brief council on progress since May
"Terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors continued to be a threat to international peace and security, and cooperation was a crucial element in the efforts to counter that threat, Ranko Vilovic [chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee] (Croatia) told the Security Council [...while] speaking on behalf of the three Committees established to enforce the Security Council's counter-terrorism measures and related sanctions [...] resolution 1267 (1999) on Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions; and resolution 1540 (2004) on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. [...] Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica), Chairman of the 1540 Committee which aimed at preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of non-State actors, said that his Committee was conducting a comprehensive review, and representatives of industry, academics and non-governmental organizations also had an opportunity to give input on such topics as the impact of the resolution; [...] The Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities, Thomas Mayr-Harting ( Austria), noted that the threat from those organizations still persisted." (United Nations Department of Public Information; 13Nov09) http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/sc9788.doc.htm

Funding secured for second New York protection ring
"An antiterrorism system featuring chemical-agent sensors and other high-tech security devices is expected to encircle midtown New York City by 2011. The security ring, similar to one currently in place in lower Manhattan, is being supported by $24 million in funding from the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Lower Manhattan's security ring is modeled after London's so-called 'Ring of Steel,' and involves cameras and license-plate readers that relay data and images to a command site in the Financial District. [...] An additional $40 million in federal funds are still being sought by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to finish preparing the system's detection program." (Bio Prep Watch; 20Nov09; Nick Rees) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211005-funding-secured-for-second-new-york-city-protection-ring

D.C. National] Guard Civil Support Team show off for Homeland Security Secretary [Janet Napolitano]
"The District of Columbia National Guard's 33rd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team [CST] [consisting of experts in dealing with weapons of mass destruction] showcased their equipment for the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and other senior DHS officials [...] 'One of the important things we did today was to show the secretary what we can do in a WMD incident ... and if she needs to call on the Guard to assist first responders, she can be confident that the Guard is there and is well prepared,' he [Army Lt. Col. Keith Bauder, the CST program manager for the National Guard Bureau] said.
[...] Among the teams' many real-world missions last year were the Democratic National Convention, flood recovery in Iowa, the presidential inauguration, the G-20 Summit and multiple 'white powder' incidents." (Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System; 18Nov09; MSgt Mike Smith)

GE [General Electric Co.] develop wearable sensors [that alert people to chemical weapons and disease agents]
"GE Global Research, the technology development arm of General Electric Co., said [...] it will get $2 million federal grant to develop wearable sensors that alert people to chemical weapons and diseases [sic]. Radio-frequency identification sensors are commonly used to track materials, including in baggage at airports. GE's sensors would combine the tracking capability with gas sensors that could detect harmful chemicals in the air. Because they can be smaller than a penny, GE says the sensors could be integrated into identification badges or serve as part of warning systems. GE said it also will develop sensors that can analyze breath and pick up early signs of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. The grant is from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health." (ABC News; 17Nov09; Source: Associated Press)

Japan beefs up security ahead of Obama visit
"Japan has beefed up security ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama and the 20th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's accession to the throne [...] The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reportedly plans to deploy about 16,000 officers in the capital when Obama arrives [...] It will be the highest level of security since Japan hosted a summit of the Group of Eight major economies on northern Hokkaido island [...] when around 20,000 police were deployed in Tokyo alone. Police have set up checkpoints near the US embassy to inspect suspicious vehicles, while anti-riot police were patrolling near Tokyo's Yokota Air Base, where an explosive device was reportedly found last month. Police have sealed off manhole covers and put extra officers on duty at subway stations, which were targeted by a doomsday cult using Sarin nerve gas in 1995 in an attack that killed 12 people and injured thousands. Demonstrators plan to stage a rally Friday and march near the US embassy and the prime minister's office against the US military presence on the southern island of Okinawa [...]. [Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi] Hirano said the government had received no information indicating a security threat but was taking precautionary measures." (Agence France Presse; 11Nov09) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hSnfPl8mWK0UHq1tQkwqPC8GEmJg

Subversion trial [over an alleged terrorist organization] puts cloud over Turkey
"In thousands of pages of indictments of stunning complexity, prosecutors allege that an underground organization named Ergenekon has committed dozens of terrorist acts and ultimately sought to topple Turkey's Islamic-inspired government. Since June 2007, when 27 hand grenades, other explosives and illegal documents were found in the attic of an ultranationalist retired officer's house in an Istanbul shantytown, more than 300 suspects have been detained. [...] Prosecutors contend that the group planned to engage in civil unrest, assassination and terrorism to create chaos and undermine the stability of Turkey to provoke a coup. [...] Mr. [Gareth] Jenkins [a Turkey specialist working for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, a Washington research institute affiliated with Johns Hopkins University] said the indictment also maintained that investigators had uncovered evidence that the 'Ergenekon Terrorist Organization' planned to 'manufacture chemical and biological weapons and then, with the high revenue it earned from selling them, to finance and control every terrorist organization not just in Turkey but in the entire world.'" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; 13Nov09; Dan Bilefsky; Source: New York Times)

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