Monday, July 31, 2006

Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery

Focusing on Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery, this 3-day conference highlights technology and training tools now available and being developed for emergency responders to deal with major threats, such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Conference speakers include State and local public safety professionals, as well as Federal experts from the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense.

More than 1,000 people attend every year. This year more than 180 exhibits and Federal technology demonstrations will be there. This conference offers a great opportunity for emergency responders, business and industry, academia, and Federal, State, local, and tribal officials to network, exchange ideas, and address common critical incident technology and preparedness needs and solutions.

The 8th Annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Exposition is sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, a component of the office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice, in association with CTC, Inc. - Public Safety Technology Center.
Visit the Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference & Exposition website to learn more and register.

Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. James W. Higgins, 22, of Frederick, Md., died July 27 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Lance Cpl. Adam R. Murray, 21, of Cordova, Tenn., died July 27 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Cpl. Timothy D. Roos, 21, of Cincinnati, Ohio, died July 27 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Pfc. Enrique C. Sanchez, 21, of Garner, N.C., died July 27 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions about Higgins can call the Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044. Media with questions about Murray, Roos and Sanchez can call the 2nd Marine Division Public Affairs Office at (910) 451-9033.

Defense Department to Host Second Annual 'America Supports You' Freedom Walk

The Defense Department announced today that it will hold the second annual “America Supports You” ‘Freedom Walk,’ 7:30 p.m., EDT, Sunday, Sept. 10, the night before the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

Monday, Sept. 11, 2006, marks the five-year anniversary of the tragic attacks at the Pentagon, the Twin Towers in New York City, and Shanksville, Pa. Last year, as part of an ongoing effort to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001, the Department of Defense hosted the first “America Supports You” ‘Freedom Walk’ bringing together more than 15,000 walkers including family members of the victims of Sept. 11, members of Congress, administration officials, federal workers, corporate employees, civic organizations and citizens from across the country. All walked to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and to honor the brave service of U.S. troops and veterans protecting the nation’s freedom.

This year the “America Supports You” ‘Freedom Walk’ will begin at 7:30 p.m., EDT, Sunday, Sept. 10, and follow a two-mile route from the National Mall in Washington D.C. passing several national memorials, across Memorial Bridge to Arlington National Cemetery and ending at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. Immediately following the walk, musicial star Denyce Graves will perform for those who completed the Freedom Walk in tribute to the family members.

In addition to the national “America Supports You” ‘Freedom Walk,’ many cities will be hosting their own ‘Freedom Walks.’ Information on those walks can be found at the “America Supports You” Web site - The “America Supports You” ‘Freedom Walk’ is free and open to the public. Individuals interested in walking in the Washington, D.C. ‘Freedom Walk’ must register to participate at the “America Supports You” Web site. Registration closes at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 8, 2006.

Persons interested in starting their own ‘Freedom Walk’ can register it on “America Supports You” Web site and download the ‘Freedom Walk’ planning guide for assistance and recommendations. For a complete list of events the Department of Defense will be participating in to mark Sept. 11, check the “America Supports You” Web site for updates.

To arrange an interview with the “America Supports You Freedom Walk” spokesperson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Allison Barber, please contact Navy Cmdr. Gregory Hicks, at (703) 695-0195. “America Supports You” is an ongoing nationwide program launched by DoD to help showcase American’s support for U.S. military men and women and their families and communicate that support to members of American forces at home and abroad. Information on the program is found at

Navy Casualty

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

Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward A. Koth, 30, ofTowson, Md., died July 26 at Camp Victory, Iraq, after ordnance exploded during a disposal operation. Koth was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eight, serving with Multinational Corps Iraq in Baghdad.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact Navy Public Affairs at (703) 697-5342.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Coalition Forces Respond to Afghan Helicopter Crash

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, July 27, 2006 – Coalition forces from Combined Joint Task Force 76 responded to a helicopter crash that killed at least a dozen people yesterday in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan's Paktia province, military officials here reported. A Russian-made Mi 8 helicopter, owned by the Afghan government, crashed in the Qalandar Mountains near the Khost border. Initial reports indicate between 12 and 16 people were killed, officials said.

A logistics company ferrying supplies and fuel from Kabul to Khost airport operated the helicopter. The coalition first sent an aviation search-and-rescue team to find the crash and offer recovery assistance, but extreme weather conditions prevented the crew from landing. A ground-force quick-reaction team then hiked up the mountain, led by an Afghan guide.

"We made every effort to quickly reach the downed aircraft with hopes of saving some or all of the passengers and crew," said Major General Benjamin C. Freakley, CJTF 76 commander. "Unfortunately, there were no survivors. Our condolences go out to the friends and families of the victims."

Reports from the crash site indicate the remains of 12 people have been recovered. Afghan and coalition forces continue recovery operations for any additional people, officials said. A local Afghan National Army unit provided security at the crash site last night and helped with recovery operations this morning.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters in the Afghan capital of Kabul confirmed two ISAF troops traveling to a security coordination meeting were on board the aircraft, and that ISAF has mobilized assets for the recovery effort.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Joseph A. Graves, 21, of Discovery Bay, Calif., was killed on July 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his convoy encountered enemy fire. Graves was assigned to the 110th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office at (254) 287-3700

Coalition Forces Kill Extremists in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – Coalition forces killed 10 insurgents in separate operations in Afghanistan July 25 and today, U.S. military officials in Afghanistan reported. Coalition forces killed three extremists today following a failed ambush on a civilian convoy in the Zhari district of Kandahar province. The extremists attacked from a compound as the convoy moved west on Highway 1 near the Zhari District Center at around 8:30 a.m. Intelligence sources confirmed the location of the enemy compound, and coalition forces killed three enemy fighters with artillery fire.

"The coalition is working with our Afghan partners to drive Taliban extremists from southern Afghanistan and create a safe and secure environment to facilitate reconstruction and extend the reach of the central government," Army Col. Thomas Collins, a coalition spokesman, said.

Elsewhere, a coalition patrol killed seven extremists July 25 after the enemy fighters attacked coalition forces in the Garmser district of Helmand province. There were no coalition casualties in the fight. The coalition unit received small-arms, rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and sniper fire from a group of extremists. The coalition force returned fire, killing five insurgents.

Later in the same area, insurgents fired small arms at an Afghan National Army mortar team with an embedded coalition tactical training team. The combined unit responded with machine gun fire and killed the remaining two insurgents.

"If enemy extremists fire upon coalition forces, we will respond with deadly accuracy," Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman, said. "If they attack Afghan civilians, we will respond just as forcefully. We remain committed to engaging any threats to the peaceful future of the Afghan people."

Special Troops Battalion Plays Key Role in Putting Iraqis in Lead

By Staff Sgt. Brent Williams, USA

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team are working to set conditions for the Iraqi government to take charge of essential services and public works within Baghdad. The brigade's Special Troops Battalion has taken the lead in helping the Iraqi government maintain and improve water, sewer, electric and sanitation services in southwestern Baghdad, Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Gandara, the unit's commander, said.

The battalion's Infrastructure Coordination Element, a group of engineers, officers and soldiers dedicated to helping Iraqis take the lead in building a better Baghdad, work with local leaders to improve living conditions for Iraqi citizens. "The brigade's mission is to create an environment that enables the Iraqi government to establish rule of law in Baghdad and transition to Iraqi control," Army Capt. Ryan Parks, the battalion's sewer and water projects manager, said.

"By developing and managing infrastructure projects, the ICE is helping create that environment," he explained. "If the citizens of Baghdad do not have to worry about necessities, such as potable water and electricity, they can focus more on establishing governance and order to Iraq." The ICE cell has managed 94 essential service projects worth more than $48 million. The projects also provide both short- and long-term employment for Iraqis.

"There are countless neighborhoods and citizens around Baghdad that are benefiting from new infrastructure projects and from rehabilitation projects," Parks said. As the Iraqi government assumes more responsibility for infrastructure, the role of civil military operations is changing. The Special Troops Battalion is working with local municipal departments to make these organizations more effective, Army Maj. Ray Proske, the battalion's executive officer, said. A coordination cell works with local leaders to identify and service the particular needs of their communities.

The success of the battalion in improving the lifestyle of the Iraqi people cannot be gauged in dollars or in projects alone, Gandara said. The real success is in developing a relationship between the city government and local townships within the city to identify and meet the needs of the people.

Teaching civics and the benefits of a representative government to local government officials is a challenge, he said. The unit is teaching local-level Iraqi leaders how to govern "within the parameters of a normal society," Gandara said, "so that we know that we have built something that will stand -- that I know will be a success within the traditions and culture of the Arab peoples."

(Army Staff Sgt. Brent Williams is assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, public affairs office.)

Coalition Forces Capture Terrorists, Seize Weapons

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – Coalition forces captured 13 suspected terrorists and found several weapons caches throughout Iraq this week, U.S. military officials in Iraq reported. Coalition forces successfully targeted and captured a wanted terrorist and another associate during a raid north of Tikrit, today. The targeted terrorist is a known leader of several al Qaeda in Iraq members in the area, officials said. Intelligence indicates the group is responsible for an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint that killed nine Iraqi security forces and wounded 14 others July 6.

Elsewhere, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained six suspected terrorists and located a buried weapons cache southwest of Baghdad on July 25. Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, noticed a suspicious burial site while conducting a dismounted combat patrol at about 2:15 p.m. The soldiers cordoned off the area and unearthed several mortar rounds, a box of miscellaneous ammunition, two mortar sites and other bomb-making materials. The weapons cache was destroyed in a controlled detonation by an explosive ordnance disposal team.

In another operation, Multinational Division Baghdad's 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, captured five wanted terrorists and seized four weapons caches during a counterinsurgency mission that began at about 2 a.m. July 24 and continued through 9:30 a.m. July 25 in Sayifiyah, a city in Babil province.

Overall, the caches consisted of various machine guns, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, various mortar rounds, ammunition, and grenades. The caches also included duffel bags full of miscellaneous bomb-making materials, mortar fuses and detonation cord. During the operations, soldiers also disabled an improvised explosive device and identified a car bomb, which was destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team. The suspected terrorists were detained for questioning.

In a separate operation, patrols from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, found weapons and munitions at sites north and west of Baghdad July 24 and 25. A patrol from 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, seized 1,000 7.62 mm rounds, 800 PKC rounds, a 155 mm artillery round, a German sniper rifle, a 9 mm pistol, an AK-47 assault rifle and various bomb-making materials after responding to a tip west of Baghdad at about 9 p.m. July 25. Another patrol from the same unit seized various ammunition, including of 400 7.62 mm rounds of ammunition, 12 AK-47 magazines with ammunition, and 53 shotgun shells, at about 11:30 p.m. July 24 west of Baghdad.

America Supports You: Groups Provide 'Train' Tickets

By Monique Reuben

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – More than 100 servicemembers and their families and friends watched Grammy award-winning rock band "Train" perform at their sold-out concert July 24, compliments of Northrop Grumman and the United Service Organizations of Metropolitan Washington. Northrop Grumman Corp., a defense contracting company, offered the USO of Metropolitan Washington 150 tickets to give to servicemembers. The two organizations also sponsored a barbecue dinner for servicemembers and their guests before the concert at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va.

Servicemembers from the Washington, D.C., area, including patients from Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, attended the dinner and concert. Army Spc. Doug Berdan, who has been undergoing treatment at Walter Reed for a leg injury suffered in Iraq in January, said he is a fan of the band. "I enjoy Train's music very much. There was a little advertisement for the concert at the hospital, and it seemed like a fun thing to check out," Berdan said.

"It's nice to get away from the hospital and the area up there and just to get out and do more normal activities, especially for people like myself, who are being released from duty, a chance to get back into more of a civilian lifestyle and a chance to hang out with other guys that have been through the same thing," Berdan said. Joseph Briseno Sr. said he decided to come to the reception on behalf of his son, 23-year-old Army Spc. Joseph Briseno Jr., who was critically injured in Iraq in June 2003.

The senior Briseno, who is a retired Army staff sergeant, said his son is paraplegic after suffering a spinal cord injury and could not attend the event. "It's very important, for me at least, that I'm here to represent my son and all the wounded warriors," the Manassas Park, Va., resident said.

Army Staff Sgt. Kristy Ligon said she appreciated not having to pay for the concert and noted that many servicemembers simply can't afford to attend such events. "(Northrup Grumman's) willingness to support the troops, like a lot of other companies, shows that the nation is behind us and shows that we have support other than just our fellow family members and friends telling us that we did a good job," she said.

Jerry Agee, a corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector, said sponsoring the concert with the USO was a way to show gratitude to servicemembers.

Agee, who retired as a naval officer 20 years ago, said he admires what the USO does for servicemembers and is honored to be working with them to support the armed forces. "Having that military background, I know what the USO means. I know what it meant to me during Vietnam. I know how much I looked forward to seeing groups come out to the carriers and visit and put on shows, and it was greatly appreciated," he said. "And I know that still exists today."

Train singer Pat Monahan said he has visited wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed.

"It's interesting finding the great uplifting spirit they have when they leave the hospital," he said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel shortly before the concert. "These guys were happy to be alive ... for the most part. "They were so thankful to be home, even if it was without something they left with, like an arm.

"I don't think I have the courage to do what those young men and women have done," he added. "If I did have that courage, I would hope to be as at peace with it as they seemed to have been."

Citizens' Tips Help Foil Baghdad Attack, Lead Soldiers to Weapons

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – Tips from Iraqi citizens led coalition and Iraqi soldiers to foil a terrorist attack and find weapons caches in Baghdad yesterday, U.S. military officials in Iraq reported. A concerned Iraqi citizen's tip led Iraqi army soldiers to a shop south of Baghdad last night, where they found a munitions cache. Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, investigated the carpentry shop and seized 58 homemade bombs, three rocket-propelled-grenade boosters, and two improvised explosive devices attached to batteries. Iraqi soldiers also detained a suspected terrorist at the site and seven others suspected of plotting an upcoming attack on a traffic control point.

Elsewhere, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers searched three houses last night and seized weapons and a large amount of money in central Baghdad after acting on a tip from an Iraqi citizen. At the first house, soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, discovered ammunition and two body armor vests. As the soldiers continued to search the house, they found a false wall that contained mortar rounds and more ammunition. In an adjoining house, the soldiers found AK-47 rifles, bloody clothes and terrorist propaganda. In a third house that appeared to have been used as a sniper position, the soldiers found spent shell casings and $17,000 in U.S. currency.

When the raids concluded, Multinational Division Baghdad troops seized a 60 mm mortar tube with base plate, 100 60 mm and 81 mm mortar rounds, four AK-47s with magazines, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, two 102 mm rockets, two hand grenades, five cases of 7.62 mm ammunition and various bomb-making materials. Soldiers removed the smaller weapons and an explosive ordnance disposal team conducted a controlled detonation to destroy the larger munitions.

In another operation, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers and Iraqi police seized explosives last night after searching a building north of Baghdad. While conducting a dismounted combined patrol, soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and Iraqi police were attacked by terrorists using small-arms fire from an apartment complex.

The soldiers and police searched the building and found five blocks of explosives, an AK-47 and ammunition. Six suspects were questioned and taken into custody in connection with the incident.

Army Casualty

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

Capt. Jason M. West, 28, of Pittsburg, Pa., died on July 24 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when he encountered enemy forces using small arms fire. West was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-4862.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swanson, 25, of Rose Haven, Md., died on July 22 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, of injuries sustained when his patrol encountered enemy forces small arms fire. Swanson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-4862

Pace Visits Afghanistan, Calls Taliban 'Tactical Problem'

By Jim Garamone

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 27, 2006 – The Taliban is a tactical problem for the coalition in Afghanistan, but the coalition is a strategic problem for the Taliban, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. Marine General Peter Pace is in Afghanistan to meet with Afghan, coalition and NATO officials.

Fighting in Afghanistan is concentrated in the country's south, the area the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is due to take over in the next few days. More Taliban are "presenting themselves on the battlefield then there have been," Pace told reporters traveling with him. But Afghan and coalition forces have dealt the Taliban some heavy blows, he added.

The Taliban has not reconstituted since being routed by U.S.-led coalition forces following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. However, coalition officials in Kabul said, the group has "more robust" command and control and more weapons than in the recent past. "The Taliban can cause problems for us in certain areas of the country, but they can't sustain it," Pace said. "Whereas, as long as the coalition is here, the Taliban doesn't have a chance of reasserting itself and taking over the country. That's why I say they may be a day-to-day tactical problem for us, but we are a long-term strategic problem for them. They can pick and chose some battles, but they cannot take over this country again."

Pace said he sees this trip as an opportunity to thank the 21,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serving in Afghanistan. The trip is also an opportunity to speak with leaders on their home ground. He said he plans to visit troops in the field "and hear first-hand from them how they think things are going." Pace said that opium cultivation is still a problem in Afghanistan, though officials hope the country's growing economy will stem the problem.

Roughly one-third of Afghanistan's gross national product comes from opium cultivation, down from past years, officials said. "The economy is getting stronger," Pace said. "Roads have been built that are opening up a lot of markets for the Afghan people. The more alternatives that folks have for a livelihood, the more likely it is that the drug trade will become a smaller and smaller part of the overall economy."

The Afghan government needs to provide viable economic alternatives to the country's citizens, Pace said. The chairman said the Afghan people should be proud of how far they have come in a short while. He added that the coalition and NATO military effort must remain strong. "From a military standpoint, what we can do is to continue to provide a secure environment inside which the Afghan government can provide assistance to its own people," he said.

Experts Helping Military Kids Deal With Loss of Parent

By Rudi Williams

HOUSTON, July 27, 2006 – Experts with the Military Child Education Coalition are working to help military children deal with the death of a parent through a new initiative: "Living in the New Normal; Supporting Children through Trauma and Loss." "In the schools, the children are able to enjoy a predictable environment. The educators are certainly able to assist children in very compassionate and caring ways," Patty Shinseki, a member of the coalition's Board of Directors, said.

The primary loss military children experience when a parent dies is often compounded by secondary losses, such as the need to relocate, the loss of the familiar military community and culture, and changes to their support network and friends, Shinseki wrote in a recent article. Shinseki chairs the committee working on the initiative. She said MCEC is grateful for the volunteers working on the project.

"The bottom line is that death is such a tough topic," committee member Marlene Lee said. "It makes people uncomfortable. It's difficult to talk about. It's something a lot of people avoid. ... How do you take this really tough, really uncomfortable topic that needs to be discussed and break that communications down in a way that helps educate people?"

Lee is an expert in "thanatology," the study of death, dying and grieving. Her book, "The Hero in My Pocket," is aimed at children affected by the loss of a member of the armed forces. "Whether we like it or not, we have to talk about issues related to death, dying and, as importantly, positive recovery," Lee said.

Karla Shinners, a counselor and expert in risk prevention for children, said the project will provide guidance to people around children who experience such a loss. "How do you explain it to the whole class if this child has experienced a loss?" Shinners said. "How long should the child be away from school? Should you send them right back to the classroom, or should they stay home for a little while? Should the child attend the memorial service?

"We have to look at the factors as to how to make that best decision to help a child," she said. The initiative promotes "an environment of resilience and non-victimization of the military child," said Army Major Jeff Bergmann, who teaches psychology at the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point, N.Y. He is also a member of the program's committee.

"Since I'm in the military, I ... educate the officers, noncommissioned officers and the future leadership about resources available from MCEC and specifically this initiative, 'Living in the New Normal,' because it's going to become increasingly important based on the global war on terrorism," he said.

The death of a military members leads to transition and dramatic change in families' and children's lives, retired Army Dr. (Col.) Stephen J. Cozza said. Also a member of the committee, Corza is associate director for child and family programs at the Center for Traumatic Stress, a part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, Md.

"During that change, there are certain vulnerabilities that families and children may be exposed to," Cozza said. "They have to figure out how to tolerate and reestablish their families in new places or new situations with the loss of a loved one."

Cozza said MCEC wants to support such children and families so they come out on the other end healthy, happy and adapted. "Part of what we want to do is to help rally the resources around children," he said. "MCEC is naturally well-suited for that because the educational setting is the setting of kids. The teachers will be the ones that kids spend most of their days with."

Cozza said he'd like to develop a transition packet that parents, children and schools can complete that transfers information from one school to the next. "The worse-case situation would be that a child goes to a new school and no one is aware of the special challenges or changes that have that have occurred in that family," he said.

He said some educators don't recognize that a child's behaviors, difficulty in learning or emotional state may be related to adverse events in their life.

Shinseki said the program will lead to a system of resources for educators and parents. "Some of the themes we're following acknowledge the wonderful positive attributes of our children."

Supply Officer Enjoys Helping People

By Staff Sgt. Nikki Prodromos, USA

TIKRIT, Iraq, July 27, 2006 – Army Captain Demechel Robinson likes helping people. Army Capt. Demechel Robinson (shown here as a first lieutenant), of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, provides security for other Soldiers from a Humvee turret in Tikrit, Iraq. From her job as the assistant logistics officer of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, to her involvement in many charitable organizations, she spends most of her time giving something back -- to her community, her country, and her fellow soldiers.

Robinson helps bring 3rd Brigade Combat Team troops on the ground medical supplies, water, food, ammunition and other necessities by providing an accurate and continuous picture of the brigade's combat power. She explained that her biggest sense of job satisfaction comes from knowing the work she does means something and is helping provide what the soldiers need to survive. She said she is also proud that the soldiers know she and the other members of her team are there for them when they need them.

One of the biggest challenges she has encountered during her tour in Iraq is communication. The 3rd BCT covers a wide area of operation spanning an area roughly the shape and size of Vermont. Sometimes unit logistics specialists are not able to get supplies to the troops as fast as they would like, but they always get them there.

Robinson hails from a military family. Her father, Simmie Robinson, retired from the Air Force after 21 years, and she has a sister and two cousins that have also "aimed high," completing Air Force enlistments. She said her original plan was to stick to the family tradition and join the Air Force too, but the Army won her over. Entering active duty in 1991, Robinson enlisted as a private and spent nine years on active duty before transferring to the Army Reserve as a staff sergeant in 2000 to pursue a degree at the University of Texas, San Antonio. In 2003, Robinson graduated with a degree in community health and a commission as an Army second lieutenant.

"I hope to one day provide medical assistance to low-income people," she said. "That's one of the biggest things I see. Medicine has come so far, but so few can afford it." Robinson's first assignment was with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea before landing at the home of the Rakkasans of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. "I would have been really disappointed if I had not gotten the 101st," she said. "I think working with the senior staff officers and the soldiers has made me who I am at this point in my military career."

Outside the military, Robinson is active in the charitable sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and said she donates time, money, clothes and food on a regular basis. When asked what she would like to tell the people back home, Robinson quickly replied: "I would like to let the American people know that we are over here doing what we need to do, and its not all negative like it sometimes gets portrayed. ... I really feel good about what I'm doing over here."

(Army Staff Sgt. Nikki Prodromos is assigned to the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Andrew Velez, 22, of Lubbock, Texas, died on July 25 in Sharona, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related injury. Velez was assigned to the Corps Support Battalion, Theater Support Command, Fort Irwin, Calif.

This incident is under investigation.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the Fort Irwin public affairs office at (760) 380-3078.

U.S., Romanian Presidents Discuss Terror War, Security Issues

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – President Bush thanked Romanian President Traian Basescu today for his country's strong support for the young democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Speaking at a photo opportunity in the Oval Office between working sessions, the two leaders told reporters they share goals for the region and will continue their commitment to peace there.

"Romania will continue to remain an ally of the United States in supporting the democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan," Basescu said. Romania is a "stalwart ally" in the terror war, with just under 700 troops in Iraq and about 800 in Afghanistan, a senior defense official told Pentagon reporters today. In addition, Romania contributes more than 150 troops to the Kosovo peacekeeping force and has some 80 more in Bosnia, he noted. During his early-morning photo session with Basescu, Bush condemned terrorists who "can't stand the thought of democracy taking hold in parts of the ... Middle East."

"As democracy begins to advance, they use terrorist tactics to stop it," he said. Bush said he's not surprised by reports of a videotape featuring Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key al Qaeda operative, urging Muslims to become martyrs in the conflict in Lebanon. "Zawahiri's attitude about life is that there shouldn't be free societies, and he believes that people ought to use terrorist tactics -- the killing of innocent people -- to achieve his objective," Bush said. "And so I'm not surprised he feels like he needs to lend his voice to terrorist activities that are trying to prevent democracies from stepping forward."

Bush said his goal is to address the root causes of the dispute between Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and Israel to create "a lasting peace, not a fake peace." He praised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts, noting: "There's a serious diplomatic effort going forward." "Our objective is to ... make sure those who use terrorist tactics are not rewarded and, at the same time, help those who have suffered as a result of the responses," he said.

Today's discussions between Bush and Basescu extended beyond the Middle East to include security concerns in the Black Sea region and the Balkans. Bush called Romania's role in the area of historical conflict vital. Neither leader spoke to reporters about two other issues expected to be raised today: an oil pipeline from Central Asia to Europe that crosses the Black Sea or plans for the U.S. to use military bases in Romania.

Rice and Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, Romania's foreign minister, signed an agreement in early December that will give the U.S. military access to military bases in Romania. Basescu was scheduled to visit the Pentagon later today to meet with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Army Chief: Commitments Needed to Keep Army Ready

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – Today's Army is the best the U.S. has ever sent into combat, and initiatives under way will ensure it remains that way, the Army chief of staff said in a statement released last night. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said he's confident that efforts from the Army and Defense Department staffs, in Congress and the White House will ensure the Army is equipped and financed to face "the many challenges that lie ahead during these dangerous times."

Schoomaker, who came out of retirement to accept the Army's top military job, disputed recent public statements criticizing Army readiness. "The Army has been at war for close to five years now and I am extremely proud of all of our soldiers, civilians, and families," he wrote. "We have asked a lot of them, from repetitive combat tours, to transforming the Army, to expanding our training base, to resetting our combat equipment.

"Simply put, this is the finest Army this nation has ever put into combat," Schoomaker said. "Our soldiers' collective efforts have been magnificent." What's needed now is a commitment that ensures the force remains prepared for the future, he said. Schoomaker cited his June 27 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and reiterated four key requirements needed to maintain Army readiness:

Timely passage of the National Defense Authorization Bill;

Growth of the Army's base budget;

Supplementary funding of $17.1 billion to repair, replace and refurbish Army equipment in fiscal 2007; and

An additional $12-13 billion a year for two to three years following hostilities to repair and replace worn Army equipment, particularly if current operational tempos continue.

"To prevail in the long struggle (in which) we are now engaged, we must maintain our readiness by resetting those who have deployed through a disciplined, orderly reconstitution of combat power," Schoomaker said in his June testimony. "Our soldiers' effectiveness depends upon a national commitment to recruit, train, equip and support them properly."

The high demand of fighting the war on terror has put a major strain on Army equipment, Schoomaker told the committee, pointing to harsh operating environments in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, crews are driving tanks more than 4,000 miles per year, five times more than the expected annual usage of 800 miles, he said. Army helicopters are experiencing usage rates about three times higher than the programmed rate, and trucks are operating five to six times their programmed rate.

"This extreme wear is further exacerbated by the addition of heavy armor kits and other force protection initiatives," he said. "The compounding effect of increasing tempo and severe operating conditions in combat is decreasing the life of our equipment."

Cheney: U.S., South Korea Partners in Spread of Freedom

By Steven Donald Smith

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – The United States and its ally South Korea will welcome the day when the light of freedom and progress covers all of Korea and the peninsula is peacefully reconciled, Vice President Dick Cheney said here today. "Until then, stability and peace will be maintained by our great military alliance," Cheney said during a speech at a National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial here. "Tens of thousands of American troops proudly serve in Korea today."

The United States and South Korea will continue to stand together in defending civilization against global terror and building the peace that freedom brings, he said. Cheney said American veterans of the Korean War made great sacrifices to the cause of freedom more than a half century ago.

"On this anniversary, gathered at this place of remembrance and reflection, our thoughts turn to a generation of Americans who lived and breathed the ideals of courage and honor, service and sacrifice," he said. "There could be no more eloquent testimony to the character of our country than those words from an American who served in that war. And it is fitting that every year on the 27th of July we honor them all and offer the respect of a grateful nation."

The United States and its allies held off the aggressive expansion of communism and helped make possible the prosperity enjoyed today by 48 million South Koreans, the vice president said.

The Korean War began due to the division of the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel following World War II in 1945. In 1948, the South proclaimed the Republic of Korea, and the North established the People's Republic of Korea. Border skirmishes soon followed and, in June 1950, North Korean forces invaded the South. That year the United States joined the fighting on the side of the South, while communist China joined the war on the North's side. A cease-fire agreement was signed July 27, 1953. The armistice ended the fighting, but Korea remains divided along a military demarcation line.

Relations between the two Koreas have remained tense, and earlier this month North Korean test-fired seven ballistic missiles, causing international condemnation. Cheney praised today's servicemembers who are stationed in Korea and those fighting in the global war on terrorism. He said American troops stationed in South Korea follow in the finest tradition of the 1.8 million Americans who fought there during the Korean War.

"The American people have been inspired once again by the bravery and the selflessness of our armed forces," Cheney said. "Freedom is not free -- and all of us are deep in the debt of the men and women who go out and pay the price for our liberty."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Battalion Maintains Support Mission While Preparing to Move Locations

By Cpl. Michael Molinar, USA

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, July 26, 2006 – Support battalions are the backbone of the Army's brigade combat teams, aiding and sustaining them in a variety of ways. But continuing its mission while preparing for and conducting a unit move to another base would be a challenge for any unit. Army Sgt. 1st Class Roderick Raymond, logistics noncommissioned officer-in-charge for 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, supervises the movement of a supply container July 16 at Forward Operating Base Duke. The unit is moving to another base while keeping up its sustainment mission.

Still, soldiers from 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, see moving here from Forward Operating Base Duke as one step closer to going home and leaving Iraq a more stable and secure nation. "This move is the last in several large moves we've made," Army Capt. Daniel Krug, the battalion's operations officer, said. "A large area has already been transitioned. The military and border transition teams here will continue to mentor the Iraqi security forces."

Moving from FOB Duke in Najaf province will help the battalion to better support units to the north, he added. FOB Duke is scheduled to be turned over to Iraqi forces later this summer. The support battalion support 2nd Brigade Combat Team units by delivering its water, building materials, rations, maintenance supplies and providing medical support. The battalion runs one to two logistical package runs -- known as logpacs -- a day in the brigade area of operations. It also retrieves broken-down vehicles and equipment, repairs the items and returns them to the units.

"We continue to push logpacs every single night," Krug said. "Even though we are preparing to move, we haven't stopped our mission and are maintaining 100 percent sustainment to the brigade." Besides delivering their usual supplies to FOB Kalsu, soldiers also are bringing non-essential equipment, such as heavy equipment and supply containers, during logpacs, Army Sgt. Angus Claytor, a truck driver with Company A, 204th SB, said.

The battalion also has addressed other issues, such as force protection measures and living space. The battalion is pre-positioning living containers at FOB Kalsu, Krug said. Leaders want to make the move as seamless as possible for soldiers. Gravel is being hauled to FOB Kalsu, as well, so the battalion can create a solid base for its warehouse and motor pool. Soldiers said they are viewing the move as a sign of progress in Iraqi forces.

"It's a good thing," Army Sgt. Laura Williams, a truck driver with Company A said. "We have been training the Iraqis the whole deployment, and now we can give them the area." "I like (FOB) Duke better, but it's one step closer to going home," Pfc. Octavio Foster, a truck driver with Company A, said. "That's all any of us want to do."

Moving to FOB Kalsu is the latest in a string of transfers of battle space and bases between Multinational Division Baghdad and Iraqi forces over the past few months. Officials have said Iraqi forces continue to make great strides all over Iraq -- which is exactly what leaders from 4th Infantry Division imagined before deploying.

"This whole move falls under Multinational Division Baghdad's campaign plan to transition areas of operations to the Iraqis," Krug said. "I remember the Iraqi army in 2003 (during Operation Iraqi Freedom I) and they had a tough job," he said. "Now they are planning missions, going on the roads, and the soldiers are more dedicated. This is a good thing."

(Army Cpl. Michael Molinar is assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.)

U.S. Soldiers Capture Members of Iraqi 'Death Squad'

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – U.S. soldiers with Multinational Division Baghdad captured five members of a "death squad" in Iraq today. The soldiers, from 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, captured the terrorists during a cordon-and-search operation in Mahmudiyah around 1:40 a.m. Officials said one of the detainees is a leader of the group.

In a separate incident, soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, detained a wanted terrorist in southwestern Baghdad around 2:30 a.m. today during a dismounted cordon-and-search mission. The terrorist was discovered after soldiers entered a house in which they believed the target was hiding. They also detained another suspect in the house. Soldiers then moved to the house next door, where they detained two more wanted suspects. No injuries or damage to MNDB personnel or equipment were reported.

Elsewhere, soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad's Troop A, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, seized weapons in southeastern Baghdad around 5 a.m. today. While acting on a tip from an Iraqi citizen, soldiers searched a cement factory and found a sniper rifle, an AK-47 rifle, a PKC machine gun, two hand grenades, a pair of military-style binoculars, and 379 rounds of ammunition. The soldiers also detained four suspected terrorists.

In other news from Iraq, U.S. military officials announced today that U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers rescued three hostages July 23. Marines from Regimental Combat Team 5's, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, and soldiers from 2nd and 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, rescued the three Iraqi hostages in an "intelligence-driven" operation, officials said. The three were personal assistants and bodyguards to Dr. Rafa Hayid Chiad Al-Isaw, an Iraqi government official in Baghdad.

"We are extremely pleased we were able to recover these three Iraqi citizens," Marine Colonel Larry D. Nicholson, the Marine unit's commander, said. "The safety of Iraqi citizens to move freely about their own country without fear is a priority for U.S and Iraqi forces, and we will continue to assist the Iraqi army and Iraqi police in ensuring their citizens have a future that is free of terrorism."

The three had been held captive by al Qaeda insurgents in a "spiderhole" complex for 27 days, after being captured west of Zaidon, a rural area south of Fallujah. The hostages were beaten with electrical cords, bitten and threatened with their lives at gunpoint by their captors. They were rescued near Fuhaylat, southwest of Fallujah, and treated by coalition medical personnel.

Combined forces also recovered a significant weapons cache, including a fully assembled car bomb, nearby. Marines also recovered improvised explosive devices and IED-making material, mortar tubes and rounds, artillery rounds, machine guns, bulk explosives, anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, AK-47 assault rifles, small-arms ammunition, and video cameras.

Two Servicemembers Die in Iraq; Officials Identify Earlier Casualties

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – Two servicemembers have died in Iraq since yesterday, and officials have identified earlier casualties. A sailor assigned to Multinational Corps Iraq died around 2:15 p.m. today in Baghdad. Officials said the incident does not appear to be due to enemy action and is under investigation.

A servicemember assigned to 43rd Military Police Brigade was killed in action north of Baghdad yesterday. Officials did not identify the individual's branch of service. The names of the deceased servicemembers are being withheld pending next-of-kin notification.

DoD officials have identified three soldiers reported killed earlier in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Army Sgt. David M. Hierholzer, 27, of Lewisburg, Tenn., died July 24 in Pesch, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his platoon encountered enemy small-arms fire. Hierholzer was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Army Spc. Stephen W. Castner, 27, of Cedarburg, Wis., died July 24 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in Tallil, Iraq. Castner was assigned to the Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, Milwaukee.

Army Cpl. Adam J. Fargo, 22, of Ruckersville, Va., died July 22 in Baghdad of injuries suffered when his convoy encountered enemy small-arms fire. Fargo was assigned to the 4th Brigade Troop Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

U.S. Military Involvement in Lebanon Evacuations Coming to End

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – The U.S. military today performed its final scheduled evacuation of U.S. citizens from Lebanon, a U.S. military spokesman in Cyprus said. The military has worked with the U.S. State Department and the governments of Turkey and Cyprus for the past 10 days to evacuate U.S. citizens from Lebanon, which has suffered extensive damage in 15 days of conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah militants.

The military has evacuated almost 14,000 U.S. citizens from Lebanon, Marine Brig. Gen. Carl B. Jensen, commander of Task Force 59, said in a news conference via satellite. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut estimates that the vast majority of U.S. citizens wishing to leave Lebanon have now been evacuated, Jensen said.

The number of Americans coming to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut seeking evacuation has diminished drastically, Jensen said, but U.S. military forces will remain in the country as long as they are needed.

"We will be here as long as the ambassador needs us to do the job that we've been assigned," he said. "We are still participating daily in moving the trickle of Americans now that wish to depart Lebanon out of Beirut, and we are supporting the embassy's efforts to continue to move Americans via civil transport out of southern Lebanon."

A group of 100 U.S. citizens was taken from southern Lebanon to the port city of Tyre today by civilian vehicles, and they will be joining another 110 Americans on a Canadian ship leaving today, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said. In the last 24 hours, about 725 Americans left Lebanon aboard the contracted vessels Orient Queen and Vittoria M, he added.

Yesterday, the U.S. military dropped off its first load of supplies to assist in the humanitarian effort being led by the United States Agency for International Development, Jensen said. The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which has been on the ground participating in evacuation efforts, has not been assigned to the humanitarian mission yet, but will likely help with transporting supplies, he said.

More than 5,000 U.S. servicemembers have been involved in evacuation efforts in Lebanon, Jensen said. They have been putting in long hours, he said, but added that the mission is valuable and rewarding.

"We've got some awfully tired soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out here. But, I'll tell you what, it's hard to get really tired in this business, because this is all about Americans helping Americans, and it gives you such a great feeling," Jensen said. "This is, in fact, a labor of love."

Iraqi PM to U.S. Congress: Iraq to Become 'Graveyard for Terrorism'

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – Iraq is the front line in the war on terror and ultimately will serve as a "graveyard for terrorism," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a joint session of Congress here today. Maliki repeatedly thanked the lawmakers for the United States' steadfast support for his country and assured them that Iraq will remain a solid ally in the terror war. "Iraq will never forget those who stood with her ... and who continue to stand with her in times of need," he said.

The prime minister compared the losses Iraq faces at the hands of Islamic extremists to those the U.S. experienced during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. "Thousands of lives were tragically lost on Sept. 11th, when these imposters of Islam reared their ugly head," he said. "Thousands more continue to die in Iraq today at the hands of the same terrorists who show complete disregard for human life."

The prime minister praised the U.S. and other coalition partners who ousted former dictator Saddam Hussein and now are helping Iraq overcome terrorists who aim to derail its new democracy. "Many around the world ... underestimated the resolve of Iraq's people and were sure that we would never reach this stage. Few believed in us," he said. "But you, the American people, did -- and we are grateful for this."

Terrorists continue to threaten Iraq, but Maliki insisted that the Iraqi people, with help from their friends abroad, will prevail against them. I "will not allow Iraq to become a launch pad for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations," he said. "Trust that Iraq will be the graveyard for terrorism and terrorists, ... for the good of all humanity."

Maliki said the outcome of the terror war in Iraq will impact the rest of the free world. "Do not think that this is an Iraqi problem," he cautioned. "This terrorist front is a threat to every free nation in the world and their citizens," he said. "What is at stake is nothing less than our freedom and liberty. Confronting and dealing with this challenge is the responsibility of every liberal democracy that values its freedom."

He acknowledged that the road ahead will be bumpy, but said continued vigilance will ensure victory over terrorism. "The coming few days are difficult, and the challenges are considerable" he said. "Iraq and America both need each other to defeat the terror engulfing the free world," he said. "In partnership, we will be triumphant because we will never be slaves to terror, for God has made us free."

Following today's session with Congress, Maliki was slated to join President Bush in visiting servicemembers and their families at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Baghdad Violence Solution Depends on Security, Reconciliation

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – Increasing violence in Baghdad is due to sectarian tensions, and the solution to the problem will involve more than increased security forces, a Defense Department spokesman said here today. The U.S. will be shifting more forces into Baghdad to stem the violence, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's reconciliation plan and government activities are just as important in resolving the situation, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

"It's a more holistic approach in how you deal with the situation that has developed in Baghdad," he said. A sharp increase in civilian casualties in Baghdad can be attributed to the fact that civilians make easy targets for terrorists, Whitman said.

Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multinational Force Iraq, has indicated that he can increase the number of troops in Baghdad with forces he already has in Iraq, Whitman said. As the shift occurs, the focus in the country will remain the same -- to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces and the government to take over more security responsibilities, he said.

President Bush announced yesterday during a news conference with Maliki that additional U.S. military police will be moved to Baghdad from other parts of Iraq to help stem the increase in insurgent violence plaguing the city. The security situation in Iraq is always evolving, and some areas pose greater challenges than others, Whitman said. But, he added, progress still is being made in the country, and Iraqi forces are taking over security responsibilities on a weekly basis.

America Supports You: DoD, American Legion Ink Support Agreement

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – The Defense Department and the American Legion today pledged to mutually support a nationwide program that assists severely injured military veterans. American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock signs a memorandum of understanding outlining Legion interaction with the Defense Department in co-management of the Heroes to Hometowns program. Pictured on the right is Leslye Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense (military community and family policy), who also signed the agreement, at the Pentagon Military Severely Injured Center, July 26. The Heroes to Hometowns program assists former servicemembers who've been severely injured in the global war on terrorism.

The American Legion is in a unique position to partner with the Defense Department, the Veterans Affairs Department and other agencies to garner community support for severely injured servicemembers and their families, Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, said at a ceremony held at the Pentagon Military Severely Injured Center. Arsht and American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock signed a memorandum of understanding outlining each organization's respective roles in support of the "Heroes to Hometowns" program.

The Legion can help build relationships at the local level to assist injured servicemembers and their families in transitioning to civilian life, Arsht said. "It's a real honor and privilege for the American Legion to fit in on this," Bock said. "We're so proud to be able to join with you to do this," he told Arsht.

Arsht thanked Bock and his organization for their role in encouraging communities to welcoming military heroes home. "We very much look forward to working with you," she said. The Heroes to Hometowns program encourages local communities to prepare support programs for injured veterans and their families, said Pam Crespi, a civilian administrator in DoD's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Policy office who's knowledgeable about the program.

Community assistance may entail job searches, home remodeling, transportation requirements, or anything a family might need to transition back to civilian life, she said. The American Legion is a non-profit veterans-service organization that's active in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, and the Philippines. The organization has 15,000 posts across the United States and overseas and boasts nearly 3 million members. The Legion's national headquarters is in Indianapolis, and it also has offices in Washington, D.C.

The American Legion is a perfect choice to partner with DoD to provide assistance for returning injured veterans because of their state networks and their local contacts, Crespi said.

Bush, Iraqi Prime Minister Thank Fort Belvoir Troops for Support

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – President Bush introduced Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to "some of the finest citizens in the United States of America" at Fort Belvoir, Va., today. Bush and Maliki visited the northern Virginia post, which is home to 120 military organizations representing every branch of the service, to thank about 300 servicemembers, military family members and civilian employees for their support for the war on terror.

Defeating terrorism is essential for freedom to succeed, Bush said. "And that's why we've sent some of our finest citizens to help you, Mr. Prime Minister," he told Maliki at the Fort Belvoir Community Club. "We want you to succeed. And I'm confident we will succeed." Bush promised Maliki that the United States will stand by its promise and complete the mission in Iraq. "We owe it to those who've served in combat," he said. "We owe it to those who've lost a limb. We owe it to those who've lost a life."

The president singled out a Fort Belvoir soldier, Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Smith, who died July 17 in Iskandariyah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated during a controlled ordnance-clearing mission. Smith, age 34, was assigned to the 52nd Ordnance Group's 737th Explosive Ordnance Detachment.

"He helped save lives. He helped lay the foundation for peace," Bush told the group of their fallen comrade. "And in honor of his memory and ... the memory of others who have gone before him, in honor of the thousands of Iraqis who have died at the hands of terrorists, we will complete the mission."

Maliki saluted the troops for what they have offered Iraq. The prime minister told the servicemembers that Iraqis will never forget the sacrifices American troops have made for them. He said he understands all too well the pain those losses bring because 67 of his family members were executed under Saddam Hussein's regime.

"On behalf of myself and...the Iraqi people, I would like to thank you and thank your families," he said. "I would like to appreciate your losses, your sacrifices, ... the bitterness of those who have lost loved ones," he said. "We feel pain and sorrow for every drop of blood that falls in Iraq."

Terrorists will continue violence as they attempt to kill democracy, Maliki said. "But they will fail, because we are committed to success, and we are committed to democracy," he said. "And we are confident that we will succeed, because you and people like you are helping us to confront terrorism."

Servicemembers at the session said they felt awed to meet the president and prime minister and inspired by their message. "It was pretty awesome that they took time out of their busy schedules to thank us personally for our service," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dan Medina, an instructor with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency who is stationed at Fort Belvoir.

Medina said he was particularly struck by Bush's message that every servicemember's job is important to the mission, and that family members serve the country right alongside military members. After three deployments to Iraq, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jerome Leary said today's visit gave him confidence that the U.S. mission there is progressing. Leary, also an instructor at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said it was heartwarming to hear both Bush and Maliki thank the troops for their support before shaking every hand in the audience and posing for photos around the room.

"It felt good to hear them say that they know the sacrifices servicemembers and their families are making and appreciate those sacrifices," the 15-year Marine said. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Onyiego Ochieng said he felt "really touched" that Bush described him and his fellow servicemembers as America's finest. "It felt really special to have him personally thank us and tell us on a personal level that he appreciates what we do," said Ochieng, branch chief for the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, at Fort Belvoir.

Ochieng remembered back to the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he was deployed in the Persian Gulf aboard USS Austin. Today's visit by the democratically elected prime minister of Iraq brought that experience full circle, he said. "He told us he understands our sacrifices, knows we will succeed and believes in what we are doing," he said. "It was really powerful."

For Army Staff Sgt. Carlton Hunter, a personnel noncommissioned officer in Fort Belvoir's Adjutant General's office, today's visit was an eye-opener. Hunter is due to move to Fort Drum, N.Y., in October to become part of the 10th Mountain Division and expects that a deployment to Iraq is in his future. Hunter said the visit reinforced his belief in the U.S. mission in Iraq. "I completely support it, and am looking forward to going over there," he said.

The nine-year-Army veteran said he was surprised at his own reaction to President Bush. "It was a little overwhelming, a lot different than I expected after seeing him so much on TV," he said. "I couldn't stop smiling."


Rome, 25 July - 'Sleeper' cells belonging to militant Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah are present in Western Europe, Latin America and in southeast Asia and been ordered to be ready to carry out terrorist attacks should Israel prolong its military offensive against Lebanon, according to unnamed German intelligence sources.

A similar alarm was raised two days ago by Israel's Shin Bet security service and Israeli embassies and institutions have been put on high alert. Hezbollah reportedly has sleeper cells in more than 20 countries, including Italy, and is alleged to have already been involved in several spectacular attacks. These include Argentina's deadliest bombing and the largest single incident of terrorism against Jews since World War II: the 1994 car-bomb attack on the AMIA building in the capital Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people - most of them Jewish - and injured over 300.

Eight days after the AMIA attack, the Israeli Embassy in the British capital, London, was car-bombed by two Palestinians allegedly linked to Hezbollah. Hezbollah has also been blamed for an earlier suicide bomb attack in 1992 that destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring 242.

Hezbollah is believed by the United States and some other countries' intelligence agencies to have kidnapped over 30 Westerners between 1982 and 1992, including US journalist Terry Anderson, British journalist John McCarthy, the Archbishop of Canterbury's special envoy, Terry Waite, and Irish citizen, Brian Keenan.

Hezbollah was accused by the US government of being responsible for the April 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut that killed 63; of being behind the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, a suicide truck bombing that killed 241 US Marines in their barracks in Beirut in October 1983; of bombing the replacement US Embassy in East Beirut on 20 September, 1984, killing 20 Lebanese and two US soldiers; an attack that killed 58 French soldiers in their barracks; and of carrying out the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome.

A Lebanese newspaper has estimated 1,000 people have been killed in terror attacks by Hezbollah. The group denies involvement in any of these attacks.

From: Adnkronosinternational

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Dennis K. Samson Jr., 24, of Hesperia, Mich., died on July 24 in Taqaddum, Iraq, of injuries sustained by enemy small arms fire. Samson was assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-3025.

Unmanned Aircraft Give Military Added Capability

By Steven Donald Smith

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – The instant feedback of information supplied by unmanned aerial vehicles is bringing immediate "value added" to U.S. military operations, the Joint Staff's director for strategic plans and policy explained yesterday. "UAVs have become such an important tool for our decision makers -- operational battlefield decision makers and strategic decision makers," Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor E. "Gene" Renuart Jr. said in a Pentagon Channel interview. "They have become an accepted part of our inventory."

Unmanned aerial vehicles are remotely piloted or self-piloted aircraft that can carry cameras, sensors and communications equipment that provide an integrated system of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. The vehicles also provide valuable battle-damage assessment and are used to track high-value targets. Some even carry weapons.

The Predator and Global Hawk are the two most prominent UAV systems. The U.S. military has used UAVs for many years, but their use has rapidly increased and evolved over the past few years, Renuart said. "We have for years used them to test missile defense systems and air defense systems. We've used them for a variety of single-mission approaches," he said

Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the military has been adapting UAV technology for multiple functions. Unmanned capabilities have expanded with advances in technology, such as miniaturization and digital imagery. Digital images are now provided in real time, which enables commanders to monitor enemy movements.

"The advantage of the near-real-time or real-time information is that you can produce essential decision-quality data for commanders on the spot," he said. "We're dealing in tenths of seconds, as opposed to minutes, hours or days in some cases." The use of UAVs has steadily increased in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There has really been a growth in the understanding of what you can use a UAV for, both tactically on the battlefield and strategically," Renuart said. "As we have seen the proliferation of miniaturization and the quality of the technology, you find battlefield commanders want more." The general pointed out that unmanned aerial vehicles have been helpful in joint operations. "We're beginning to collaborate much more on our integration and use of information that comes from these systems," he said.

For instance, in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, U.S. Army and Navy special operations forces use the Air Force Predator to feed information back to their component commanders, so they can monitor the battlefield situation and respond accordingly, he said.

The UAV Center of Excellence was stood up in 2005 at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The center's focus is to integrate technology and to analyze how to make systems more efficient and effective. The center also looks at other ways UAVs can be used in the future.

Numerous UAV prototypes have been developed over the past two decades, including hand-launched, slingshot-launched, truck-launched, ship-launched and tradition runway-launched versions. The UAV Center of Excellence works to set uniform standards that meet needs defined by all the services.

The center also examines how to use UAVs to deal with emerging threats. "A lot of forward-thinking engineers are looking at the problems we need to solve in the next 15 years and trying to decide the best way to meet those with an unmanned vehicle," Renuart said. Maritime security is one area in which UAVs are becoming increasingly necessary, he said. "There is a real need for an ability to monitor the volume of shipping that goes on around the world, to ensure that we don't have so-called rogue states moving potential weapons of mass destruction over sea into a port," he said.

Renuart stressed that the advancement of UAV technology does not herald the end of manned-flight vehicles. "Even if you look out to futuristic scenarios, there is a critical place for the human touch," he said.

America Supports You: Military Amputees to Get Free Service Dogs

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2006 – Man's best friend is about to become every military amputee's best friend, thanks to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and a new pilot program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. For the past 60 years, the Guide Dog Foundation has provided service dogs free of charge to help people with visual impairments become more mobile and independent. But less well known is the group's work with service dogs for people with other disabilities.

Mike Sergeant, chief training officer for the organization, said he's excited about the potential of a pilot program that will enable amputees at Walter Reed to get their own service dog, without cost. The dogs are trained to help the troops balance as they learn to walk with artificial limbs, to retrieve items the servicemembers drop, and in some cases, to serve as braces as the troops lift themselves from a chair or the floor, Sergeant explained. "The service dog will help the veterans as they learn a new way of mobility with their artificial limbs," he said.

While helping veterans overcome physical barriers, the dogs will help them overcome emotional ones, too, Sergeant said. "They will serve as a companion dog to help during the veteran's transition," he said. "We've been told that a lot of veterans are proud of what they have done, but that there's an awkwardness about adjusting" to life outside the hospital. When a dog accompanies a wounded veteran, the public's focus automatically goes to the dog, not to the wound or disability, Sergeant said.

"A service dog is a great living tool," he said. "It can make life a little easier as they adjust to their civilian life or career. The veteran and dog act together as one, so the veteran is less dependent on human assistance and becomes more independent. "Plus, there's the benefit of love and companionship that a dog provides," he added. "The two work kind of like the buddy system, going through the transition together."

Dogs used for the program, mostly retrievers, go through a rigorous three- to four-month training program that instills the skills and discipline required for the job. "We need a dog that's disciplined and rock-steady," he said. Sergeant said he's hopeful the program can kick off at Walter Reed as soon as October. If the pilot program proves successful, it may expand to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he said.

His hope is that the pilot program will be an overwhelming success and that "any amputee who is interested will be able to apply to take a service dog home to help with his transition." Harvey Naranjo, sports and activities coordinator in Walter Reed's Occupational Therapy Amputee Section, has lined up three patients interested in trying out service dogs.

Among them is Eddie Wright, a 30-year-old Marine sergeant who was medically retired after losing both arms in Fallujah, Iraq, in April 2004. "I think it's awesome," Wright said of the opportunity, though he quickly volunteered to Sergeant that he wouldn't accept a service dog if it could go to someone who needed it more than he did.

Sergeant assured Wright his group will work to ensure it generates enough donations to provide a trained service dog to any veteran who needs one. "If you want one, we are going to work with you to provide you a fully trained dog," he said. "And we will teach you how to work with it so that when you do home, this dog will be of real assistance in your life."

Wright said he's hopeful about the new capabilities a service dog will bring him. "It will help me be more independent and more comfortable on my own," he said. "I hate to be dependent." Naranjo is a big fan of service dogs. He introduced Deuce, a year-and-a-half-old chocolate Labrador retriever, to the Walter Reed staff in March after seeing how well patients responded to dogs during their therapy.

"He's a big welcome mat who opens up the door to communication wherever he goes," Naranjo said of Deuce. "I see these service dogs as real ambassadors. They can provide a huge service and therapeutic outlet."

Seminar Looks at Countering Ideological Support for Terroris

By Joe Ferrare

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany, July 26, 2006 – Scores of representatives from almost two dozen nations left the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here with what could be new directions in the fight against terror after a week-long seminar. Representatives at the seminar, which ended July 21, included Marshall Center alumni from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine, as well as speakers and observers.

The alumni seminar is an annual event during which the center invites a select group of alumni who have stayed engaged with the center, and who will continue to learn and use that education to lead, officials said. "The (purpose of the) Alumni Leadership Seminar is to bring back those that have been serving as partners for the Marshall Center in the region over the last year and educate them on a topic that is of importance, with the hope they will go back to their own countries and perhaps do something on this topic," explained Graduate Support Program Chief Alan Gorowitz.

The importance of what the alumni took away from the event was matched by what they brought to it, center Director John P. Rose said. "You represent the best and brightest from within your countries, and we need your help to better understand your thinking, your thoughts, your ideas on what the international community needs to do to address this issue."

The more than 40 participants came from within foreign affairs, defense and interior ministries in countries throughout Europe and Eurasia. The wealth of perspective and experience they brought was valuable to American participants. American officials are trying to work with the international community to defeat terrorism -- despite what keynote speaker retired U.S. Marine Gen. Carlton W. Fulford said is public perception to the contrary.

"The United States has garnered a reputation recently as being unilateralist in its actions. That's not intentional," he said. "If you read the documentation the U.S. has put out -- the National Security Strategy, the National Military Strategy, the recently completed Quadrennial Defense Review -- long words and lots of thought and policy go toward creating, maintaining and supporting partnerships and alliances around the world.

"That's why this conference is so important," he added. "You know the sentiment within your country. You know how your citizens react to U.S. words and actions. Conferences like this help us gain knowledge and understanding, which is greatly needed." Suspicion and misunderstanding take root without such knowledge and understanding, said Fulford, who is director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, in Washington, D.C. "I firmly believe that these two evils -- suspicion and misunderstanding -- are the foundation of the hatred that exists around the world today," he said

Seminar participants came to an understanding about the importance of the fight against terrorism, conference moderator and Marshall Center Professor Sharyl Cross said. "For all the participating countries, the conclusion was that this is, in fact, an important issue for their nations," she said. "It may not be the first priority for nations dealing with other political or economic reform issues, but I think across the board there was a consensus that it is important."

She said the issue would be important for decades, and officials would need to seek international and cultural input to devise the most constructive and effective solution. That kind of input was in evidence at this seminar, Cross said. "We tried to bring together different perspectives from different parts of the world, professional backgrounds and that sort of thing, and were looking at very complex issues from multiple points of view," she said.

Cross noted that the Marshall Center is an ideal venue for exploring such issues, because of the professional experience and internationally diversity of participants. "They can talk about what we can do --working together in the interests of promoting peace and security and addressing the issues."

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. David M. Hierholzer, 27, of Lewisburg, Tenn., died on July 24 in Pesch, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his platoon encountered enemy forces small arms fire. Hierholzer was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the Fort Drum Public Affairs Office at (315) 772-5463.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Iraqi Forces Nab Eight Insurgents in Early-Morning Raids

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2006 – Iraqi security forces conducted early-morning raids in two areas today, netting eight insurgent fighters. Iraq forces captured two targeted insurgents, one of whom was a local insurgent cell leader, in a raid in a rural area northeast of Fallujah. Coalition force advisers looked on as Iraqi forces raided a targeted house and captured both insurgents.

The cell leader allegedly coordinated and directed makeshift bomb attacks against coalition convoys, mortar attacks against coalition bases, and ran an insurgent training camp near Samarra. His accomplice, a member of his cell, is believed to have conducted bomb and mortar attacks against coalition forces in the Fallujah area. Iraqi forces also seized one AK-47 assault rifle. No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured during the operation.

In a separate pre-dawn raid, Iraqi army forces captured six insurgents in Baghdad. The captured individuals are believed to have been involved in "death squad" activities, according to U.S. officials. As coalition force advisers looked on, Iraqi forces raided four buildings and captured the cell leader and five other key members of an insurgent "punishment committee." Iraqi forces also seized two AK-47 assault rifles, one pistol, and one set of body armor. No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured in the raids.

In other news from Iraq, soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad's 4th Brigade Combat team, 101st Airborne Division, detained five terrorist suspects and seized their weapons at around 12:30 a.m. July 23 after receiving a tip from an Iraqi citizen of a possible weapons cache. Soldiers entered the house and detained the five terrorists, along with two rocket-propelled grenades, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher and a 9 mm pistol.

In another incident, Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and U.S. soldiers from 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, were in patrol in Adhamiyah shortly before 1 a.m. July 23 when they were attacked by terrorists using small-arms fire. The soldiers returned fire and detained two terrorists.

As they were returning to base, they observed another individual running from a house carrying an AK-47 rifle. Soldiers stopped the man, confiscated his weapon and detained him. Upon searching the house from which the man fled and a vehicle nearby, soldiers found a mortar tube and a 60 mm round, three additional AK-47s, two bandoliers of ammunition, and six grenades

Two Soldiers Killed in Iraq; Officials Identify Earlier Casualties

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2006 – Two soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, died in separate incidents in Iraq's Anbar province yesterday, military officials.
Officials provided no further details about the incidents. The soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Defense Department officials have identified three earlier casualties from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army Capt. Blake H. Russell, 35, of Forth Worth, Texas, died July 22 of injuries caused by enemy forces while investigating a possible mortar cache in Baghdad. Russell was assigned to 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Marine Capt. Christopher T. Pate, 29, of Hampstead, N.C., died July 21 in Anbar province. He was assigned to 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Command Element, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Army 1st Sgt. Christopher C. Rafferty, 37, of Brownsville, Pa., died July 21 in Sharana, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered a day earlier, when his unit encountered small-arms fire. Rafferty was assigned to 37th Engineer Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Iraqis Continue to Take Lead in Fighting Terrorists, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2006 – Better-trained and more confident Iraqi troops increasingly are taking the fight to the terrorists, and U.S. troops are securing better and more actionable intelligence, thanks to their daily, long-standing efforts on behalf of the Iraqi people, U.S. military officials reported this week. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, killed five terrorists, wounded 13, and detained 47 during a two-hour firefight in Mahmudiyah South on July 21.

The 6th IA soldiers received a report from an Iraqi citizen that 10 to 15 men were attacking a house in Hayy Al Shuhada. The IA soldiers tracked the gunmen to the Hayy Al Askery neighborhood, where a small-arms battle ensued in which five terrorists were killed and the remainder fled the scene in a white truck. The Iraqi soldiers followed the terrorists to a residence, whereupon the terrorists abandoned their vehicle. Attack helicopter aviators from Multinational Division Baghdad destroyed the vehicle. Iraqi soldiers detained six suspects who were hiding in a nearby canal and another three who were found by the crew of another military vehicle.

A total of 47 suspects were detained during the operation. Iraqi soldiers also confiscated five PKC machine guns, 16 AK-47s and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. Three Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi police officers were killed during the engagements. "This was an Iraqi Army action that clearly demonstrates the professionalism and capability of the IA," said U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Thomas Kunk, commander, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. "They heard the cry for help from the Iraqi citizens and went to the sound of the guns. They are fighting for the Iraqi people and their country."

Similar Iraqi Army successes against the terrorists also were achieved in recent days: Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, captured four terrorists in a small town south of Iskandariyah during an early morning raid on July 21. The captured terrorists were wanted for murdering local citizens and producing car bombs and roadside bombs.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, supported by attack aviation and soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, killed a terrorist, wounded another and detained 10 terrorism suspects on July 19 during an evening firefight in the city of Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. The engagement began when Iraqi soldiers engaged a group of men armed with AK-47s, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. With the help of combat aviation, the Iraqi soldiers subdued the terrorists and suffered one injury in the resultant firefight.

Iraqi 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, soldiers responded to a report from a villager about a possible mortar position in a small town near Hillah on July 20. The Iraqi soldiers found a live rocket, wire remnants and what appeared to be two base plate marks on the ground. The Iraqi soldiers recovered the round.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and an Iraqi special weapons and tactics team from Hillah joined U.S. armed forces yesterday to defeat a planned terrorist insurrection in the cities of Mussayib and Husaniyah. The Iraqi forces searched a mosque that the terrorists were using as a weapons sanctuary; indeed, rocket-propelled grenades were found in a mosque bathroom. U.S. forces, meanwhile, provided a protective perimeter and killed 15 terrorists during a three-hour firefight.

"Thugs and criminals tried to take over Mussayib, but they failed because the Iraqi army and police are unbeatable when they work together," said U.S. Army Col. John Tully, commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "The coalition forces were proud to assist their Iraqi brothers." Combined U.S.-Iraqi operations are enjoying greater success also because the troops there have been able to secure more and better actionable intelligence officials said.

Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, serving with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, captured one of the Baghdad area's 20 most-wanted terrorists last week.

U.S. soldiers were on patrol when they noticed two individuals in a parked vehicle behaving suspiciously. The soldiers searched the vehicle and discovered a pistol that the men had no permit for, as well as printed documents that indicated that the men supported terrorist activities.

The soldiers detained the suspects for further investigation. During their detention, intelligence soldiers determined that one of the men was one of the Baghdad area's 20 most-wanted terrorists. "This was great detective work by the troops on the ground and great work by the battalion and brigade intelligence soldiers, putting the pieces together to figure this out," said Lt. Col. William Brown, intelligence officer, 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division.

For the capture to take place, he explained, the soldiers had to notice that something about the situation was not right. "They said they were security forces, but we had not seen them around all day. We do this often. When things aren't right, we check," said Army Spc. Lonnie Bays, a tank crewmember acting as an armored Humvee crewmember.

The company commander of the 1st Platoon echoed that observation. "They have consistently found the bad guys and then used precision engagements to capture them. This is another example of the positive work they do with the local populous each day," said Capt. Andrew Byrd, 4th BCT.

Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers also detained a wanted terrorist on July 19 during a routine security patrol south of Baghdad. A patrol from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, observed five suspicious civilians walking around a parked car. When a 2nd BCT soldier attempted to investigate, the suspects tried to evade the patrol by hiding in a nearby vegetated canal. The soldiers detained the group for questioning; one of the suspects was identified as a wanted terrorist for attacks against coalition forces. The suspect was taken to an MND-B forward operating base for further questioning, officials said.

DoD Continues Lebanon Evacuation, Delivers Humanitarian Aid

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2006 – The Defense Department evacuated 957 U.S. citizens from Lebanon to Cyprus yesterday aboard the contracted cruise ship Orient Queen, bringing the total to 12,870 since the crisis in Lebanon began July 16, DoD officials said today. Also, DoD airlifted the first humanitarian supplies promised to those in the war-torn country, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Three helicopters delivered three kits of medical supplies to Red Cross personnel. Each of the three medical kits has enough medicine and supplies to meet the needs of 10,000 people for three months. Seven other kits have arrived in Cyprus and will be delivered later.

Today the contract vessel Rahmah will end its contract period with the U.S. effort and will make its final run from Beirut to Cyprus. The last scheduled ship evacuation will be tomorrow, U.S. embassy officials in Beirut said. About 6,100 servicemembers -- 5,900 of them afloat -- are participating under the command of Task Force 59, U.S. officials said.

Officials said they will conduct future evacuations on an emergency, case-by-case basis. Embassy officials are continuing to develop and facilitate departure options for a number of citizens who wish to leave southern Lebanon. Whitman said "a few hundred" Americans are still in southern Lebanon, and that busing them to the port in Beirut is the favored method of evacuation. The Ocean Queen, the contracted vessel Vittoria M, and the Swift, a high-speed vessel manned by U.S. Navy personnel, will continue to make runs into Beirut evacuating American citizens or delivering humanitarian supplies.

The USS Nashville, USS Trenton, USS Whidbey Island, USS Mount Whitney, USS Gonzalez, USS Barry and the Swift -- part of the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group -- will remain in the region, officials said.

Air Force military flights and DoD-chartered commercial aircraft transported 1,749 Americans from Cyprus and Turkey to the United States yesterday. A total of 6,130 Americans have used these flights, with another 3,800 expected to arrive in the U.S. today. The Defense Logistics Agency has delivered supplies to the effort. DLA has delivered 2,000 cases of individual military rations, 240 modules of group rations that feed 50 people each, 11,700 cases of bottled water, 2,000 cots, 1,412 blankets and jet fuel.