Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Marine Killed in Anbar Province; DoD Identifies Previous Casualties

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2006 – A Marine serving with an Army unit in Iraq died yesterday from wounds suffered due to enemy action in Iraq's Anbar province, and Defense Department officials have identified previous casualties. The name of the Marine, who was serving with 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

DoD officials have identified the following previous casualties:

-- Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey J. Hansen, 31, of Cairo, Neb., died Aug. 27 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of injuries suffered Aug. 21 from a vehicle accident in Balad, Iraq. Hansen was assigned to the Army National Guard 1st Squadron, 167th Cavalry Regiment, Lincoln, Neb.

-- Army Spc. Seth A. Hildreth, 26, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., died Aug. 27 in Baghdad of injuries suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Hildreth was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

-- Marine Lance Cpl. Donald E. Champlin, 28, of Natchitoches, La., died Aug. 28 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Anbar province Aug. 27. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

-- Army Sgt. David J. Almazan, 27, of Van Nuys, Calif., died Aug. 27 in Hit, Iraq, of injuries suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee during combat operations. Almazan was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

-- Army Sgt. Darry Benson, 46, of Winterville, N.C., died Aug. 27 at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, from a non-combat related cause. Benson was assigned the Army National Guard's 730th Quartermaster Battalion, Ahoskie, N.C.

-- Army Spc. Joshua D. Jones, 24, of Pomeroy, Ohio, died Aug. 27 in Baghdad of injuries suffered when his Humvee came in contact with enemy forces using small-arms fire during combat operations. Jones was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

-- Army Spc. Kenneth M. Cross, 21, of Superior, Wis., and Army Pfc. Daniel G. Dolan, 19, of Roy, Utah, died during combat operations Aug. 27 in Baghdad when their M1126 Stryker vehicle came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

-- Army Spc. Matthew E. Schneider, 23, of Gorham, N.H., died Aug. 28 in Ramadi, Iraq, from a non-combat related cause. Schneider was assigned to the 141st Signal Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Florida School Named for OIF Medal of Honor Recipient

By Spc. Chris Erickson, USA

HOLIDAY, Fla., Aug. 30, 2006 – A new middle school named in honor of a Florida soldier who earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in Operation Iraqi Freedom was dedicated here Aug. 25.

The dedication of Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith Middle School came a year after Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on April 4, 2003. That's the date his unit, the 11th Engineer Battalion, was attacked by enemy forces near Baghdad International Airport while the unit was building a prisoner-of-war holding area.

Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division, students, faculty, family and members of the local community gathered at the school to celebrate Smith's legacy. Col. Mark McKnight, 3rd Infantry Division chief of staff, said naming the school after Smith is a fitting honor.

"I think it's very appropriate," McKnight said during his remarks at the ceremony in the school's gymnasium. "Smith wasn't born a hero, he was developed a hero; and part of that development is your school experience. What an honor and a lasting tribute to a Medal of Honor winner to name a school in his legacy, because they'll develop Medal of Honor winners in this school. They may not earn them on the field of battle, but they'll earn them in communities, churches, and government, so I think it's great."

Other soldiers in attendance agreed dedicating the school to Smith's memory was a wonderful act by the community, although some said they felt that Smith was such a humble soldier, he would have shunned the recognition.

"I'm very glad that they did it," said Sgt. 1st Class Glenn A. Goody, an operations sergeant with 3rd ID's 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. "It is an honor for him to have a school that's going to affect so many children. Sergeant 1st Class Smith wouldn't have liked all the fuss. ... To him, he was doing his job."

Smith's widow, Birgit, agreed that her husband wouldn't have sought the attention. "If he were here today, he would be explaining he was only doing his job," she said. "He was a modest man who did not enjoy being in the spotlight."

When his unit was attacked, according to the Medal of Honor citation detailing his horoism, Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, a Bradley fighting vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket-propelled grenade and a 60 mm mortar round.

Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. "In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force," the citation reads.

Smith continued to fire on enemy forces, reloading the machine gun three times, before he was killed by enemy fire.

Those who knew Smith remember him as a noncommissioned officer who demanded a lot from his soldiers, but produced dedicated, disciplined troops as a result.

"Sergeant 1st Class Smith was one of those guys you thought of as Superman," said Staff Sgt. Robert P. Puckett, a platoon sergeant with Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, after the school ceremony. "In my opinion, there is nothing they could ever do to commemorate him -- there is no dedication worthy. However, I think it's a great thing they're doing here. Hopefully, it will reflect on the students, and the students will grow up to be good people in the world."

Smith's widow said naming the school after her husband will keep his legacy alive.

"The naming of the new middle school after him assures that the community where he grew up will never forget his name and the bravery he displayed at the battle at the Baghdad International Airport," she said. "It was an important battle that had to be won so coalition forces could bring stability to a city of chaos. A city where citizens, for their entire life, never had the opportunity to make their own decisions and choices as we do here in the United States. My husband is a man worthy of being remembered."

She expressed the hope that students attending the school would learn about Smith and try to be like him. "I hope they find encouragement to try and emulate his character, his selflessness, his action of bravery, loyalty and devotion to a cause greater than himself, and especially his desire to inspire those around him to be better people," she said.

This is not the first time Smith has been honored in his hometown. The Holiday post office has been dedicated to Smith, and in November 2003 the former Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando, Fla., was renamed in his honor.

The school opened for about 850 students to attend the first day of classes Aug. 8. Among them was Smith's son, David, who began the seventh grade here.

Army Spc. Chris Erickson is assigned to the 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

America Supports You: Groups Honor Troops with Celebration

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2006 – Waxhaw, N.C., is planning an all-American celebration of freedom to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and honor the nation's servicemembers. Flags Across the Nation, a nonprofit troop support group; the Waxhaw American Legion; and other local groups are sponsoring the "Waving Patriotism" event. The celebration will start at 11 a.m. Sept. 9 in downtown Waxhaw, said Eileen Schwartz, founder and president of Flags Across the Nation.

Flags Across the Nation and the American Legion are members of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which highlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers. "We're doing this for the kids. We want the kids to understand the significance of the flag, to learn about respect (for the flag)," Schwartz said. "I'm hoping they're going to learn that the men and women who are serving and are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan are committed to the love of America and to serve the nation."

She said some of the children understand servicemembers' lives are in danger and that they appreciate the gifts and letters that people send them. Schwartz said she hopes the children will understand that those shows of support from home are very important to the servicemembers who receive them.

The festival will be set up similar to a treasure hunt. Children participating will have a list of stations where they can learn flag etiquette and how to properly fold an American flag, as well as learning or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, she said. Children and their parents also are being encouraged to donate an item that could be included in a care package to send to the troops.

Other stations will have visitors participating in art projects that include what organizers are calling "Pocket Patriotism," Schwartz said.

Participants can draw something symbolic of patriotism on one side of a card the size of a business card and write a message or their name on the other side, she said. "The idea behind this is so that we can send these overseas to the troops and they could carry them in their pockets," Schwartz said. "We try to educate the kids about American values and ... the idea of freedom through art," she said.

That's why Schwartz hopes everyone participates in "Chalk It Up for the Troops." "That's going to be on the sidewalks and the streets so kids and adults will be able to do patriotic chalk drawings," Schwartz said. For a $1 donation, participants will get a cup of colored chalk to create to create their piece of art. The donations will benefit Flags Across the Nation.

These artworks, as well as all of the events of the day, will be captured in photos and burned to a CD, Schwartz said. A dozen or so CDs will be included in care packages that will go to members of the
Army's 108th Division, a reserve unit out of Charlotte, N.C.

After participating in the required number of activities, the American Legion will present the kids with a small American flag and a flag sticker, Schwartz said. Those attending the celebration, which ends at 5 p.m., also are encouraged to bring any American flags that need to be retired. The American Legion will hold an official flag retirement ceremony at the Museum of the Waxhaws at 7 p.m.

"We already have about 400 flags (to retire)," Schwartz said.

To make the Waving Patriotism celebration complete, a variety of all-American food - hamburgers, popcorn, cotton candy, fruit pies, to name a few - will be available for purchase. A portion of some vendors' proceeds will benefit Flags Across the Nation.

Schwartz said events like these are needed in the country today, especially after the terrorist attacks. "When 9/11 happened, I perceived the country as feeling united in supporting one another through the crisis ... and being very patriotic," she said. "I'm doing this right now because I think we need to continue showing love for America and support for our country and our troops and ... our (veterans)."

She said while the events of Sept. 11, 2001 were tragic and should be remembered, the country should look for positive ways to bring people together to, "declare the significance of freedom ... and support the efforts of the troops."

From Forest Fires to Fallujah, AAFES Goes Where Troops Go

DALLAS, Aug. 30, 2006 – True to its motto of "We Go Where You Go," the
Army and Air Force Exchange Service has mobilized its next-generation Tactical Field Exchange in support of some 550 active-duty soldiers helping control wildfires that have burned across Washington's Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests. "AAFES has pulled off another superb operation in record time," said AAFES' Fort Lewis General Manager JW Merriman. "Our associates were able to open the exchange less than six hours after pulling into camp. We opened our doors at 8 p.m. and remained open until 10:30 p.m., serving exhausted troops who had just returned from fighting the 100,000-acre fire."

The mobile equivalent of a stationary post or base exchange found on an Army or Air Force installation, TFEs are 40- to 53-foot trailers that have been converted into mobile retail stores to support contingency deployments.
Military operations in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo validated the need for this quality-of-life support to deployed servicemembers, as did last year's hurricane relief operations for Joint Task Forces Katrina and Rita, AAFES officials said.

Once the TFE arrives on site, receives merchandise and sets up -- usually done within 24 hours -- the unit is open for business around the clock, as long as needed. AAFES maintains a fleet of TFEs for use in support of training exercises, war zones and natural disasters. While the exterior of the TFE sent to Washington may look similar to those serving troops throughout Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, all comparisons end with the paint and logo.

"Our new TFEs are being designed through lessons learned in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Steven Dean, AAFES' chief of contingency plans. "The feedback we are receiving indicates that the new units will result in better work environments for associates and reduced support requirements from supported units. The TFE in Washington is just the first in a group of self-sustaining exchanges AAFES will be deploying in the years to come."

Like the older versions, the new TFEs carry a basic stock assortment that includes water, personal care items, basic clothing items, snacks, soft drinks and entertainment.
"While personal sacrifices and inconveniences are a way of life for troops, TFE support plays a significant role in enhancing morale, readiness and mission effectiveness," Dean said. "Whether troops are on patrol in a war zone or battling fires in the Pacific Northwest, TFEs make it possible for AAFES to provide support to almost every corner of the globe."

Task Force Blaze, made up of many Fort Lewis units, is expected to last up to 30 days. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, requested the deployment due to a critical shortage of civilian firefighting crews and unfavorable weather forecasts. The task force includes 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment; 23rd Chemical Battalion; 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; 4th Battalion, 6th Aviation Regiment; 29th Signal Battalion; and the 28th Public Affairs Detachment.

Casey Details Threats to Iraq, Progress to Combat Them

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2006 – The primary threats to Iraq's security are
terrorists and death squads, the coalition commander in the country said today, and both must be addressed if Iraq is going to progress. Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said the Iraqi people "aren't going to have the security that they want until the Iraqi security forces are the primary and dominant providers of security in the country. That won't happen until all militias and insurgents are disbanded."

Casey spoke to reporters this morning in Baghdad. He said the Iraqi security forces are developing and continue to evolve and that soon they will turn into "security forces that the Iraqi people can be proud of." The Iraqi forces are receiving the equipment they need to deal with the enemy they face, Casey said. But they will receive more armored vehicles, more aircraft and more logistical capabilities in the coming months.

Casey said that while he does not know when Iraqi forces will be able to take over the security mission, they'll be able to take on security missions with very little coalition support over the next year to 18 months. The coalition and Iraqi government have a three-step process to develop the security forces, he said. The first step involved recruiting and training the
army and police. This included giving the soldiers and police the weapons and equipment they need.

"The second step was to put them into the lead, still with our support," Casey said. "When they're in the lead, they're responsible for the area, and we still help them. That process is almost 75 percent complete." The final step will be to get the forces to the stage where they can provide
security independently. "That step becomes primarily building institutional capacity, building ministerial capacity and building the key enabling systems - logistics, intelligence, medical support, those kinds of things - that can support and sustain the armed forces in place for a longer period of time."

Casey stressed that the Iraqi army forces in Diwaniyah "acquitted themselves quite well" in fighting against militia forces in the city. "They had losses, but they gave much better than they got," he said. "And that battle is not finished yet. There were (Iraqi) soldiers that were killed there. There is clearly an illegal armed force that is attempting to control areas of Diwaniyah, and I believe that the Iraqi division commander down there is going to continue to work to restore Iraqi governmental control to that city."

Disarming the militias is key to success in Iraq, Casey said, noting that the militias have to be confronted both politically and militarily. He said dealing with the militias is "fairly sophisticated and delicate, but both those tracks have to be pursued if we're going to stand the militias down in an appropriate fashion."

The experience in Baghdad illustrates the way to take down the militias. "What we're seeing in Baghdad, as these neighborhoods are cleared, is the Iraqi security forces that go in and hold the security in those neighborhoods," he said. "I think when the people begin to feel more confidence in their security forces, they'll feel less need to rely on the militias." Militias are a problem, with some militias "no better than murdering, criminal gangs" that "flout the rule of law every day," Casey said. "Those need to be dealt with firmly by the government, because no government can stand to have criminal groups terrorizing their population."

Casey said he has great hopes for the establishment of the Iraqi ground force headquarters and joint headquarters, both to begin operations in the next few days. This will give Iraqi security forces the oversight from their government that has been missing, he said.

Casey praised the work of the soldiers of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Baghdad. He extended the brigade's tour of duty in Iraq for four months to help combat sectarian violence in the capital. "It puts our most capable force at the decisive point in the campaign, and that's what we needed," he said. "They are magnificent young men and women, and their families are also magnificent for the support that they give these solders. I know it was difficult for the families. These soldiers are making a decisive difference here on the ground in Baghdad."

Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Christopher T. Warndorf, 21, of Burlington, Ky., died Aug. 29 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 this Marine can call the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at (910) 451-9033.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Matthew E. Schneider, 23, of Gorham, N.H., died on Aug. 28, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, from a non-combat related cause. Schneider was assigned to the 141st Signal Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Wiesbaden, Germany.
The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs at 011-49-611-705-4862.

Cheney Praises Troops, Vows U.S. Will Win Anti-Terror War

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2006 – The United States is fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq to keep its pledge to the people there and to prevent future attacks on America, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said at a troop rally at an Air Force base yesterday. "We maintain forces in those countries because we're a nation that keeps its word and because we understand what is at stake in that part of the world," Cheney told servicemembers gathered at Offutt
Air Force Base, Neb.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, American and allied
military forces displaced despotic regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, respectively. President Bush told Americans after 9/11 "that the struggle ahead would be global in nature, that it would be lengthy and difficult, that it would require our best effort and unfailing resolve," Cheney recalled. This, he said, is how the war against terror began.

During the past five years "some of the toughest, most urgent duties have come to our men and women in uniform," Cheney said. "Fortunately for America, you've never let us down, and the nation has an awful lot to be grateful for." The Taliban and al Qaeda elements were defeated in Afghanistan between Oct. 7, 2001 and March 2002. A U.S.-coalition military campaign was launched against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on March 20, 2003. It resulted in the fall of Saddam's regime on April 9, 2003.

Afterward, the United States promised it would assist Afghans and Iraqis in establishing their new democratic institutions, Cheney said. This, he said, would "help build the freedom that leads to peace in the long run." Today, regenerated
terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq want to overthrow those new democratic governments, Cheney said, and they've undertaken a campaign of violence and murder to achieve their aims. And, Iraq has become "the central front" in this phase of the war, he said.

Cheney acknowledged that expressing views on issues is an integral component of American democracy. But he drew the line regarding some opinions about the United States should proceed in Iraq. "There is a difference between healthy debate and self-defeating pessimism," the vice president said. "We have only two options in Iraq - victory or defeat."

Terrorists only understand force and must therefore be militarily defeated, Cheney said, pointing to past failed U.S. government efforts tried prior to 9/11 that attempted to address terrorism through diplomacy. "This is not an enemy that can be ignored, or negotiated with, or appeased," Cheney said. Therefore, the United States has taken the offensive, he said, to pre-empt possible future attacks and to track down and defeat terrorists wherever they may be.

Any retreat from this policy, Cheney said, would put civilized nations at peril. To illustrate his point, he noted the recent failed terrorist plot that sought to down commercial airliners as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean en route to the U.S. from Great Britain. "Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not," Cheney said. "And the enemies of America need to know: We are serious, we will not let down our guard."

America will soon mark the fifth anniversary of the 9/11
terror attacks that killed more than 3,000 innocent people, Cheney said. Since then, "the people and the government of the United States have answered violence with justice, honor and moral courage," he said. Those ideals and the desire to confront oppression, Cheney pointed out, are embodied in American democracy and are embraced by its citizenry, to include the members of the U.S. armed services.

"America is a good, and decent, and generous country," the vice president said. "The ideals that gave life to this nation are the same ideals we uphold at home and that we serve abroad."

Las Vegas Freedom Walk to Remember Those Killed Sept. 11

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2006 – Las Vegas will remember those lost in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with a Freedom Walk on Sept. 9. "We hope this will become an annual commemoration of those we lost on 9/11," said Courtney Wroblewski, a special events planner with the city.

The 2.2-mile loop will begin and end at the Kellogg Zaher Sports Complex at 7901 Washington Ave. Walkers, including Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman and Councilman Larry Brown, will step out beginning at 7:30 a.m. Las Vegas planners called the walk a time to reflect on the lives lost on Sept. 11, and to "renew our commitment to freedom and the values of the United States."

Planners expect about 500 walkers to participate. Refreshments will be provided for the walkers. "We expect this will grow in the future," Wroblewski said. Local communities across the United States have committed to similar Freedom Walks to remember the victims of 9/11 and to honor the nation's veterans, past and present. The local events around the country parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk scheduled Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program.

America Supports You spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers. Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.

New Intel Squadron Turns Aerial Eye on Terrorists

By Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery, USAF

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla., Aug. 30, 2006 –
Terrorists and their supporters around the world soon will be under the gaze of a powerful "unblinking eye" providing information on their whereabouts to a "brain" here. The reactivation of the 11th Intelligence Squadron here marks a milestone for Air Force Special Operations Command, which gains its first intelligence squadron. The 11th IS, commanded by Lt. Col. David Hambleton, is assigned to Air Force Special Operations Forces, AFSOC's warfighting headquarters.

The squadron's mission is to process, exploit and disseminate to commanders information gathered by AFSOC's MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and other airborne intelligence and surveillance sources, Hambleton said. The Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft operated by the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Creech
Air Force Base, Nev.

Operators at Creech use remote controls to fly Predators anywhere in the world, around the clock. That capability, when fully realized, will create what
Army General Doug Brown, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, calls an "unblinking eye" for special operations forces. But even an unblinking eye is worthless without a brain to process the information the eye sees, said Air Force Col. Timothy Leahy, AFSOF vice commander. "That's where the 11th IS comes in," he said.

"We're going to extract intel value from data streams coming off (reconnaissance aircraft), figure out what the bad guys are doing and provide information to special ops commanders so they can make combat decisions," Hambleton said. "Basically, the 3rd SOS will provide the data, and we'll tailor it for the SOF customer forward."

Special operations forces require SOF-specific intelligence, Hambleton said. So the entire data gathering-analysis-combat commander chain is specialized and unique compared to the way other Air Force commands process and disseminate data, he said. For instance, AFSOC is the only major command where the intelligence weapons system, called the distributed common ground system, works hand-in-hand with the air operations center. In AFSOC, both the DCGS and AOC report to the AFSOF commander, Col. Michael Callan.

"I'm very excited to see the 11th IS a reality," Callan said. "Many dedicated members of the AFSOF and AFSOC staffs have worked very hard to make this day happen.

"Having the 11th IS provide dedicated intelligence support to our warfighters will make us better able to find, fix and finish our adversaries," he said. "I welcome Colonel Hambleton and his squadron members to AFSOF".

In the war on terrorism, tracking down elusive enemies is akin to what Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley, AFSOC commander, calls "finding the proverbial needle not in a haystack, but hiding among other needles."

Intel specialists of the 11th IS will "be able to discern what that needle among needles is doing," Leahy said. "Once the operators of the 11th Intelligence Squadron find and fix the enemy, the world's best special operators, riding in the back of AFSOC aircraft, will go in and finish them."

(Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery is assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Milwaukee Organizers Prepare for City's First Freedom Walk

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2006 – Troop-support volunteers in Milwaukee are gearing up for the city's first Freedom Walk, a local organizer said today. Emily Lindeman, Operation Homefront's chapter president for southeastern Wisconsin, said Milwaukee's two-mile-long Freedom Walk is scheduled Sept. 11 starting at 9 a.m. at the city's War Memorial.

"We're going to be walking through Veterans' Park, which is a park right behind the War Memorial," Lindeman said, noting there will be a 9/11 memorial service before the walk. Lindeman said Operation Homefront, a co-sponsor of Milwaukee's Freedom Walk, is a national nonprofit volunteer group that provides emergency support and assistance to servicemembers and their families. Milwaukee County officials and local businesses also are pitching in to help organize the event, Lindeman added.

Registration for Milwaukee's Freedom Walk is free and can be made online, or on site before the event starting at 8:30 a.m., Lindeman said. Participants will receive complimentary T-shirts. Lindeman called Freedom Walks and other events honoring present-day military members and past veterans important endeavors. She noted her father had served in the
Air Force, while her husband, Brandon, was in the Marines for four years and saw two tours of duty in Iraq.

"I think too many people take our freedoms for granted here in the United States," Lindeman said. "And, we often forget the people who put in the work and put in the time to make it easy for us to find our dreams and successes in America." Americans should honor the sacrifices made by U.S. servicemembers and realize that "freedom isn't free," Lindeman said.

Operation Homefront is affiliated with the Defense Department's "America Supports You" troop-support campaign, Lindeman said. America Supports You spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers.

Operation Homefront is organizing Freedom Walks in 13 cities to honor military members, their families and veterans, Lindeman said. Freedom Walks similar to Milwaukee's are being held across the country to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and to honor America's military veterans, past and present. These local events parallel Washington, D.C.'s Freedom Walk that's slated Sept. 10 and sponsored by America Supports You.

As of today, DoD officials said, 91 communities in 41 states have registered Freedom Walks at DoD's Freedom Walk Web site.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey J. Hansen, 31, of Cairo, Neb., died on Aug. 27, in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries suffered on Aug. 21 from a vehicle accident in Balad, Iraq. Hansen was assigned to the Army National Guard 1st Squadron, 167th Cavalry Regiment, Lincoln, Neb.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the Nebraska National Guard public affairs office at (402) 309-7300.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Donald E. Champlin, 28, of Natchitoches, La., died Aug. 28 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on Aug. 27. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions about this Marine can call the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at (910) 451-9033.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Joshua D. Jones, 24, of Pomeroy, Ohio, died Aug 27, in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his HMMWV came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations. Jones was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Media with questions about this soldier can contact the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office at (254) 291-2591.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Darry Benson, 46, of Winterville, N.C., died on Aug 27, in Camp Virginia, Kuwait, from a non-combat related cause. Benson was assigned the Army National Guard's 730th Quartermaster Battalion, Ahoskie, N.C.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact the North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs office at (919) 664-6544.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died during combat operations Aug 27, in Baghdad, Iraq, when their M1126 Stryker Vehicle came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

Killed were:
Spc. Kenneth M. Cross, 21, of Superior, Wis.
Pfc. Daniel G. Dolan, 19, of Roy, Utah.

Media with questions about these soldiers can contact the Fort Lewis Public Affairs Office at (253) 967-0152/0146.

Eight U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Eight Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers were killed yesterday in Iraq, seven of them after makeshift bombs struck their vehicles in and around Baghdad, military officials reported. Two soldiers died of wounds suffered when a makeshift bomb struck their vehicle in western Baghdad and one soldier died when his vehicle was struck by a makeshift bomb south of Baghdad. In addition, four soldiers died when a makeshift bomb struck their vehicle north of Baghdad.

Another soldier was killed by small-arms fire in eastern Baghdad.

The soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

U.S. Officer Sees 'Very Positive Progress' In Baghdad

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Iraqi- and coalition-conducted anti-insurgent operations in Baghdad in recent weeks are achieving results, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters in the Iraqi capital today. "We're seeing progress toward reducing the number of kidnappings, murders and sectarian violence in areas in which we're operating,"
Army Major General William B. Caldwell, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said at a news briefing.

Insurgent attacks within Baghdad province averaged about 23 per day during the past week, Caldwell said. He noted that Baghdad's average daily murder rate dropped 46 percent from July to August. "And, if you look to just the past few weeks, from the 7th through the 25th of August," he said, "the murder rate has dropped 50 percent over the daily rate for July."

Vehicle-bomb attacks also have decreased in recent weeks, up until the renewed enemy improvised-explosive-device attacks that occurred today and over the past weekend, Caldwell said. "The insurgents and
terrorists are punching back," Caldwell acknowledged. They want to negate recent Iraqi security successes in Baghdad, he said, and divert media attention from those victories.

Iraqi and U.S. security forces began a stepped-up security campaign across Baghdad Aug. 8 to curtail deadly sectarian violence that had plagued the Iraqi capital city. As of yesterday, Caldwell said, Iraqi troops, with U.S. forces supporting them, had cleared more than 30,000 buildings, found 19 caches, seized more than 700 weapons and detained 70 suspects.

Iraqi and U.S. forces have achieved "very positive progress" against insurgents operating in Baghdad, Caldwell said. Yet, he acknowledged that the insurgents are still active in some city neighborhoods. "We have reduced the violence, and we're working to set the conditions so the Iraqi leadership and local citizens can revitalize those communities," he said. "But, it's just not the statistics that show progress. We're actually seeing progress out there."

Afghan, Coalition Forces Find Multiple Bombs; Two Afghans Rescued

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Afghan and coalition forces discovered and disabled multiple explosive devices in three separate locations today, and coalition forces helped save two Afghan boys, U.S. military officials reported. A coalition unit discovered a landmine placed on the side of a road in Paktika province. A coalition explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the mine in place.

In Khost province, an Afghan civilian reported a makeshift bomb to the Afghan National
Police, who investigated and found it in the Warza Village. Another makeshift bomb placed along the same road hit a separate Afghan police unit responding to the site. In addition, an Afghan National Army patrol discovered another two makeshift bombs along a road in Paktika province. The patrol destroyed the devices in place. No injuries or damage was reported in any of the incidents.

"Afghan security forces demonstrated their capability to quickly respond to emergencies in support of the Afghan people," said
Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. "They showed great courage in responding to these (bombs) today. These weapons will no longer be a threat to the lives of Afghan civilians. Afghan and coalition forces will continue to seek out and destroy these types of deadly weapons wherever we find them to ensure the safety of the Afghan people."

In other news from Afghanistan, U.S. medical evacuation helicopters flew two injured boys to U.S. medical facilities. A 7-year-old boy who fell from a cliff was brought to the U.S. base in Kunar province with a skull fracture today. In a separate incident, an 11-year-old boy was taken to the medical clinic on the coalition base in Asadabad yesterday after suffering from severe wounds sustained when an explosive detonated. The boy lost an arm in the explosion, but he is now recovering in stable condition, officials said.

"The Afghan hospital is very good, but traumatic injuries can be a challenge for any hospital to treat. When civilians come to a coalition clinic with life-threatening injuries, we will do everything we can to help save their lives," Fitzpatrick said. "Many times that includes transporting the patient to our two full-scale hospitals in either Bagram or Kandahar. When that occurs, we provide the same urgent medical care as for our own soldiers."

Coalition forces fly an average of three to five medical evacuation flights for Afghan civilians a week. "We genuinely care for the well being of the Afghan people and routinely devote our helicopters to civilian medical flights," Fitzpatrick said.

Rumsfeld To Stress to VFW Need for Resolve in Terror War

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will call upon Americans in a speech later today to "work hard to keep a 'Blame America First' mentality from undermining our efforts" in the
global war on terror. Pentagon officials released excerpts of a speech the secretary will deliver to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. Officials expect more than 2,300 veterans to attend the event.

Rumsfeld disputes critics who say the United States should not be in Iraq. "The extremists openly call Iraq the 'epicenter' in the
war on terror," his speech asserts. "And they mean it. Yet even today, so many seem to want to argue otherwise." The remarks indicate Rumsfeld's concern about "the lack of perspective in our national dialogue today - the perspective of history, and an understanding of the new challenges and threats that free people face."

The secretary also points out that the United States is held to a near-impossible standard, while the terrorists are not. "Our forces strive to protect civilians; the enemy uses civilians as shields. As our troops strive to obey the laws of warfare, the enemy uses those laws against us. As our troops are held to a standard of near perfection, the enemy is held to no standard at all," he said. "And while some argue for tossing in the towel, the enemy is waiting and hoping for us to do just that," Rumsfeld will tell the VFW.

The speech will note that al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden believes the United States is a paper tiger--ferocious on the outside, but actually toothless. Rumsfeld will evoke past events to show the veterans the danger in giving the enemy the idea that Americans cannot stomach a tough fight. "It was after U.S. forces left Somalia in 1994 that Osama bin Laden concluded that American forces were a 'paper tiger,'" Rumsfeld will tell the VFW. "There are stories that Saddam Hussein gave copies of 'Black Hawk Down' - a film about U.S. difficulties in Somalia - to his commanders as an example of American weakness and faintheartedness."

The secretary's remarks will stress that Americans can handle the tough road and make the tough choices. "The great story of America is one of grit, of determination and victory," the secretary will tell the veterans. "And that story is still unfolding. Americans didn't cross oceans and settle a wilderness and build history's greatest democracy, only to run away from murderers and extremists who try to kill everyone they cannot convert and try to tear down what they could never build."

Iraqi Forces Capture Bomb Maker, Repel Attack

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Iraqi security forces captured a suspected bomb maker and cell leader yesterday near Mussayib, Iraq, U.S. military officials said. The suspect is believed to have participated in multiple bomb attacks on coalition and Iraqi security forces, including one that killed four U.S. servicemembers May 5. This person is also believed to be a supplier of bombs to illegal armed groups inciting sectarian violence and government instability through kidnapping, murder and armed attacks, officials said.

The raid was conducted by Iraqi
police and occurred without incident. No civilian, Iraqi or coalition forces casualties were reported. One additional individual was detained in the operation, officials said.

Also in Iraq, Iraqi
army and police forces fended off an attack by a large group of terrorists in Diwaniyah after a 12-hour battle today. Coalition forces provided support to the Iraqi security forces by setting up blocking positions at several points on the outskirts of Diwaniyah to prevent additional terrorists from entering the city.

A Polish helicopter providing support to the Iraqi security forces was hit with seven rounds of small-arms fire, but was able to safely land at a nearby coalition base. Casualties are still being assessed.

Commissary, School Agencies Support Family Dining Day

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – The Defense Commissary Agency is partnering with a national anti-substance-abuse organization to promote the concept of families dining together as a means of establishing healthy lifestyles for young people, a DeCA spokesperson said today. "Since we're the food leader for the military, anything that has to do with family quality and family lifestyles and focuses on eating is a good thing for us to be involved in," said Bonnie Powell during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service from her organization's headquarters at Fort Lee, Va.

DeCA will support and celebrate "Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children" Sept. 25, Powell said. Children of families that regularly eat together are less likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Such children also get better grades.

Founded in 1992, CASA is a New York City-headquartered national organization that studies alcohol, nicotine, illegal and prescription drug addictions and other substance abuse in order to combat them. CASA created Family Day in 2001 and President Bush supports the initiative each year. Last year, 1.3 million Americans pledged to have a family dinner.

"We'd like to see
military active duty, retirees and Guard and reserve families double that amount," Defense Commissary Agency Director Patrick Nixon said in a recent DeCa news release. The Department of Defense Education Activity is partnering with DeCA, Powell said, by encouraging its more than 200 stateside and overseas schools to team with local military commissaries to spread the word about Family Day.

"When parents and students dine together, they have an opportunity to discuss education and school issues," DoDEA spokesperson Frank O'Gara noted in the DeCA release.

"These discussions lead to greater parental involvement and interest," O'Gara continued, "and can go a long way in fostering success for all children." The Coca Cola Company's military sales division, Powell said, is sponsoring a contest for a
military family to win a trip to New York to experience a healthy dinner cooked up by famous chef Sandra Lee. Registration for the contest will be conducted throughout September on DeCA's Web site.

And, any Fisher House manager who plans family dinners for guests on Sept. 25 will receive $200 worth of donated commissary gift certificates, Powell said. Fisher Houses are comfort homes for military families to stay near loved ones undergoing treatment at military medical facilities.

The National
Military Family Association recommends that children can do some commissary shopping for deployed military parents, Powell reported. Young family members, she said, can pick out a favorite food to send to an overseas-deployed parent.

The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries, providing groceries to military members, retirees, and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized commissary shoppers can realize an average of 30 percent or more in savings compared to commercial prices. Officials say that equates to savings worth about $2,700 annually for a family of four.

Programs Help Prepare, Support Families Through Deployments

By Donna Miles

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Aug. 28, 2006 – As members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit here make last-minute preparations for their upcoming deployment, Staff Sgt. Danny Sava and his family are getting their own affairs in order so they're ready for another long separation. The Sava family - Danny, a seven-year
Marine, his wife of two years, Julia, and their children, Anthony, 10, and Alyssa, 18 months - offer insights into what a "typical" military family faces during deployments and the importance of the services the military provides to help them.

Less than three weeks before Danny and 2,300 fellow Marines leave here for six months of duty as U.S. Central Command's theater reserve, the Savas told
American Forces Press Service they've got a handle on their family affairs.

Sava, the 15th MEU's data chief, is drawing up a list of details and contact information for Julia. The family bill-payer, he set up automatic online payments and is making sure she knows where to find his will, power of attorney, Social Security card and other important documents. "We're trying our best to get everything together and get squared away," Julia said.

The Savas already have endured one deployment as a family - when Danny was in Iraq and Julia was experiencing a difficult pregnancy until Alyssa's birth two months before her daddy's homecoming. The family lived off base during the last deployment, and Julia's doctor warned her not to drive. Fortunately, her parents didn't live far away and were able to pitch in when she needed it. "That's what kept me going," she said.

Danny made his presence felt at home the best he could by calling whenever possible, sending frequent e-mails and photos and picking up souvenirs for Anthony during port calls. "Frequent communication let me know he was OK and gave me peace of mind," Julia said. "It made a big difference." Now that they have one deployment under their belts, the Savas say this time they pretty much know what to expect.

With the family now living on base and Julia serving as a key volunteer for the 15th MEU's family support network, they're hoping the deployment will go a bit easier than the last one. In her volunteer role, Julia will serve as a conduit between the unit and other Marine spouses, keeping the information channels open and helping steer families to any help they might need during the deployment. "We pass information to them and let them know what's going on," she said.

A vast volunteer network is just one part of the array of resources and services Camp Pendleton offers its 18,000 families to help them cope during deployments, explained Veronica Largent, assistant branch manager for the base's Family Team Building and Community Support effort.

The program has grown by leaps and bounds since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the launch of the
war on terror and the corresponding acceleration in the Marines' deployment cycles.

The program's offerings span the full deployment cycle, from pre-deployment briefings to prepare families for what's ahead to support groups during the deployment to a Warrior Transition Briefing that helps redeploying Marines transition back to their roles at home, Largent explained.

In addition to committing more resources to family support, the Marines are fine-tuning their support network to make it more proactive to families' needs, she said.

For example, "family readiness officer" was once an additional duty that rotated between Marines as they came and went. Now the base has hired full-time civilian employees, such as Bill Bonney, the 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force's family readiness officer, to bring experience and continuity to the job.

The base also established task-organized response teams, made up of professional counselors and other family experts, to bring families together and assist them through bumpy spots during deployments. "It was an opportunity to bring spouses together and allow them to vent and express their concerns, with counselors able to take that discussion and steer it in a constructive way," said Lisa Stehle, team leader for the base's LINKS program.

The program, better known for its acronym than its full name -- Lifestyle Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program -- has proved to be invaluable in bringing Marine families into the fold of the base support program, officials said. They describe LINKS as "Marine Corps 101," an eight-hour workshop that teaches families about the Marine Corps, how it's organized and what services it provides. "It's the single most important program we have," said Bonney, noting that this knowledge empowers family members to tap into programs offered to help them.

Like many family support programs here, LINKS is run by volunteers who shoulder the largest share of the load in taking care of families. Last year alone, this network of Marines, spouses,
military retirees, base civilian employees and members of the local community, clocked 180,000 volunteer hours, said Emily McKinley, the volunteer program coordinator.

In addition to steering families toward the resources and services offered to help them, Camp Pendleton's programs aim to ensure they understand the family dynamics that take place before, during and after a deployment, explained Deborah Smith-Porter, a readiness support coordinator and key volunteer trainer.

"There's an emotional cycle of deployment, and a lot of times spouses don't realize that," said Smith-Porter, a Marine wife who's held down the homestead during her husband's three deployments. "They might fight a lot just before the deployments and have doubts about their marriage. They might go through a stage where they are mad at their Marine and mad at the whole Corps. We teach them about this cycle and let them know that this is all perfectly normal."

As spouses of deployed Marines support each other, they form bonds that officials said many simply can't find outside the base network. Frequently families like the Savas, who counted on their extended family for support during the deployment, begin seeking that support from their
Marine Corps family, Smith-Porter said.

"At home with your parents, the same support system of understanding just isn't there," she said. "Military spouses are a special breed who understand what you're experiencing. The Marine Corps family is a very small family, but we are very supportive of each other."

"We are spouses, and we are in this together," agreed Stehle. "So we circle the wagons and take care of each other."

Rebecca Rider, a family member employment assistance specialist and Marine wife, said he's proud of Camp Pendleton's programs and the support it offers families. "If spouses grab hold of these programs, they won't be disappointed," she said.

As the base's family support program has evolved, a new level of cooperation has developed between the base's operational side and its support side. "We're working more closely together and understand each other better," Largent said. "We're synchronizing our efforts and, as a result, ensuring we are providing the services needed."

"It's really part of taking care of our own," said Lloyd Thorne, supervisor for Marine Family Team Building and a retired Marine. And that, he said, ultimately boils down to supporting the Marine Corps mission. "It's so they can do their job and keep their head in the game," Thorne said. "That's what it ultimately comes down to."

Col. Brian Beaudreault, the 15th MEU commander, praised the support services being offered to his Marines and their families. He noted with pride that on his past deployment, he didn't have to send a single Marine home to take care of a family problem. "There wasn't an issue that arose that my key volunteers couldn't handle," he said. "I have total confidence in them."

As Beaudreault's unit prepares to deploy in early September, he said he's counting on the family support network to look out for his Marines' families. "A commander can't do this alone," he said. "We count on them and the support they offer."

As the Savas prepare for the MEU's deployment, Julia said she knows she has to be extra strong once again - not just for her children, but also for her husband, who's counting on her so he can focus on his mission. It won't be easy, she acknowledged, particularly knowing that he'll be gone over Christmas and for both of his children's birthdays.

But Julia said she's determined to make the deployment a success. "We'll make it," she said. "We'll be OK."

For now, little Alyssa toddles around base with an infectious ear-to-ear grin, blissfully unaware that her father will soon be leaving. Ten-year-old Anthony understands all too well what's ahead, keeping a brave face as he promises to be a big help to his mother while his Marine father is deployed. "I get used to it," Anthony said of Danny's absence, "but I kind of miss him."

As he utters the words with a brave smile on his face, a tear forms in his left eye and slowly rolls down his cheek.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. David G. Weimortz, 28, of Irmo, S.C. died Aug. 26 from injuries suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Media with questions about this Marine can call 2nd Marine Division public affairs at (910) 451-9033.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Edgardo Zayas, 29, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, died on Aug. 26, in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol during combat operations. Zayas was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

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

Cheney: U.S. Troops Fighting for American Ideals, Security

By Steven Donald Smith

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – American troops fighting in the war against
terrorism are serving the highest ideals of the United States, such as freedom, justice, equality and the dignity of the individual, Vice President Dick Cheney said today in Reno, Nev. "And they are serving the vital security interests of America and the civilized world," Cheney told an audience at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention. "There is no denying that the work is difficult and that there is a great deal to be done. Yet we can harbor no illusions about the nature of the enemy we're fighting, or the ambitions they seek to achieve."

The enemy the U.S. faces wears no uniform, has no regard for the rules of warfare and is unconstrained by any standard of decency or morality, Cheney said. "They plot and plan in secret, target the defenseless, and rejoice at the death of innocent, unsuspecting human beings," he said. Islamic extremists seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to a narrow and hateful ideology, he said.

"This ideology rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of our society," he said. "Such beliefs can be imposed only through force and intimidation, so those who refuse to bow to the tyrants will be brutalized or killed -- and no person or group is exempt."

These extremists have a set of clear objectives, he said. They want to end all American and Western influence in the Middle East, seize control of a country so they have a base from which to launch attacks and to wage war against governments that do not meet their demands, he said. "The terrorists believe that by controlling one country, they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and ultimately to establish a totalitarian empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way around to Indonesia," the vice president said.

Islamic extremists also have made it known that they want to arm themselves with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause mass death in the United States, he said. "Some might look at these ambitions and wave them off as extreme and mad. Well, these ambitions are extreme and they are mad," he said. "They are also real, and we must not wave them off. We must take them seriously. We must oppose them. And we must defeat them."

It is important to go on the offensive against
terrorists in order to prevent future attacks against the United States, Cheney said. He also said it was important to deny terrorists access to safe havens, halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to keep those weapons out of the hands of killers. "In the post-9/11 world, we have to confront such dangers before they fully materialize," Cheney said.

It is also vital to deny the
terrorists control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and staging ground for terrorist attacks on others, he said. "That's why we continue to fight Taliban remnants and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan," he said. "That's why we're working with President (Pervez) Musharraf to oppose and isolate the terrorist element in Pakistan. And that's why we are fighting with the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorists in Iraq."

Retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change their policies, forsake their friends and abandon national interests whenever confronted with violence and blackmail, he said. "We have only two options in Iraq: victory or defeat," the vice president said. "And this nation will not pursue a policy of retreat. We will complete the mission, we will get it done right, and then we will return with honor."

Cheney said the terrorists have been weakened since Sept. 11, 2001, but are still lethal and still desperately trying to hit the U.S. "They hate us, they hate our country and they hate the liberties for which we stand," he said. "This is not a war we can win on the defensive. Either we are serious about this fight or we are not. And the enemies of America need to know we are serious, and we will not let down our guard."

Training Teams Making Difference in Iraqi Forces

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Coalition training teams with Iraqi
military units, police battalions and border guard units are making a tremendous difference in the performance and professionalism of the Iraqi security forces, said the commander of the Iraq Assistance Group today. Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard told the Pentagon press corps in a video teleconference from Iraq that Iraqi forces are well-equipped, but they do need help in sustainment.

Pittard confirmed that 100 members of an Iraqi battalion had refused to redeploy to Baghdad. The soldiers were part of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 10th Iraqi
Army Division, in Maysan in the south. "There were some soldiers ... that said that they would not deploy as a part of the operation," Pittard said. "A decision is going to be made whether or not that battalion will actually deploy."

This is part of the growing pains of the Iraqi security forces, he said. The Iraqi
army now is a regionally recruited force. "The majority of this particular unit was Shiia, and ... the leadership of that unit and their soldiers felt like they were needed down there in Maysan in that province," he said. The Iraqi government will work on how to deal with the situation, and the coalition transition teams will support that, he said.

Hundreds of coalition transition teams are operating throughout Iraq. The 11-man units are embedded with their Iraqi units from the battalion through division level. Advisers also serve with the local police, the national
police and the border guards. The coalition soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines work with their Iraqi counterparts to plan and execute operations.

But the effort goes farther. Coalition logistics personnel train up their Iraqi equivalents. Personnel specialists work with Iraqi trainees to teach them personnel procedures. Maintenance experts work with Iraqis to ensure the units' vehicles stay in condition for combat.

"Our major mission is to help develop and support the Iraqi
security forces, and of course to advise them," Pittard said. "What we do as advisers is we take those Iraqi army units and advise them in the field. It's more of the execution phase." Logistics is a sore point in the Iraqi forces. "We are focusing on just basic sustainment: sustainment of fuel, sustainment of ammunition, their medical supplies and their maintenance," he said. "Those are the key areas that we're focusing on with the Iraqi security forces."

Pittard said he sees a long-term job for coalition training teams with the Iraqi forces. "U.S. forces will be here as long as the Iraqi government wants us here," he said. "But I'll tell you, ... after the majority of U.S. forces leave, we'll still see some level of advisory teams that'll still be here. In fact, I feel like we'll be the last men standing at the end of the U.S. presence here."

Military Capable of Meeting All Its Challenges, Rumsfeld Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nev., Aug. 28, 2006 – The
U.S. military is capable not only of winning the war on terror, but also of fulfilling its other commitments around the world and dealing with unforeseen circumstances, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a group of sailors and Marines here today. "It would be unfortunate if other countries thought because we had 136,000 troops in Iraq today that therefore we are not capable of defending our country or doing anything that we might need to do," Rumsfeld said at a town-hall meeting.

Rumsfeld noted that the U.S. has a large active and reserve force, as well as the Individual Ready Reserve, and has many allies that provide support to the war on
terror. No country can do everything at once, he acknowledged, but the United States has proved its readiness by responding to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan, evacuating American citizens from Lebanon, and sending National Guard troops to fortify the southwestern U.S. border - all while maintaining troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

America is fully capable of winning the
war on terror as long as it keeps its resolve in the face of a ruthless enemy, Rumsfeld said. The intentions of terrorists groups were made clear once again this month when a plot was uncovered to attack commercial flights between Britain and the United States, he said. Incidents like that serve as a reminder that Americans and people in free countries everywhere should have the same sense of concern and urgency as they did on Sept. 12, 2001, right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, he said. "It should be a powerful reminder to everyone - free people - (the terrorists are) serious, that they're determined, and that they're not going to go away," he said.

The terrorist groups are excellent communicators and manipulate the media to get across their agenda, Rumsfeld said. The
terrorists lie with impunity and arte not held to the same standard of near perfection that U.S. forces are, he said. Rumsfeld acknowledged that the terrorists' propaganda threatens to weaken the American people's will and harm the U.S. cause in the war on terror.

"I wish we were better at countering that, because the constant drumbeat of things they say - all of which are not true - is harmful," he said. "It's cumulative, and it does weaken people's will and lessen their determination and raise questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it." Rumsfeld noted that naval aviators like those trained here have made great contributions to the
war on terror. Weeks after Sept. 11, Navy aircraft conducted air strikes in Afghanistan that helped topple the Taliban regime, he said, and close-air support has saved countless lives in Iraq.

The secretary stopped here after two days in Alaska, where he visited families of the deployed 172nd Stryker Brigade and toured missile defense facilities. Tonight he will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev.

Iraqis to Take Control of Their Army, Air Force, Navy

By Gerry J. Gilmore

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – The Iraqi government is slated to assume control of its soldiers, sailors and airmen sometime next month, a senior
U.S. military officer told reporters in Baghdad today. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense, through its joint headquarters in Baghdad, will assume operational control of the Iraqi army, as well as the country's air force and navy, in early September, Army Major General William B. Caldwell, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said at a news briefing.

"This is a significant step in the Iraqi path to self-reliance and
security," Caldwell said. "What this means is that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense is prepared to begin assuming direct operational control over Iraq's armed forces." Iraq's 3-year-old armed forces have "been rebuilt from the ground up as a modern and effective fighting force," Caldwell said. Iraqi army divisions have fought alongside coalition forces under the commander of the Multinational Corps Iraq, he added. Coalition forces also have worked to train the new Iraqi army, which now stands at about 115,000 soldiers.

The transition of control of Iraq's armed forces to the Iraqi government should take several months, Caldwell said. The 10 Iraqi army divisions eventually will come under the direct operational control of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, commander in chief of Iraq's armed forces, Caldwell said.

"The majority of Iraqi (
army) divisions will remain under coalition forces initially," Caldwell explained, "and then be gradually transitioned into the Iraqi ground forces command."

Iowa Town's Freedom Walk Honors 9/11 Victims, Veterans

By Samantha L. Quigley

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – A small community in Iowa is among 86 cities and towns in 39 states planning Freedom Walks to honor those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks on the United States, as well as the nation's veterans, past and present. The American Legion chapter in Milo, Iowa, a town of about 1,000, is sponsoring its Freedom Walk Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.

The American Legion is a member of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers. Beginning in downtown Milo, the walk will cover four blocks and will end at City Park, where participants will reflect and pray, Ron Hensel, the walk's organizer and a member of Milo's American Legion post, said.

"We'll have a minister on hand to give a prayer," he said. "There'll be time for speakers if anyone cares to speak." Hensel said all veterans, children from the area schools, and fire department and local law enforcement officers have been invited to participate in the walk. He said he's hoping for 100 to 200 Milo residents to participate.

"(It's) just to let the community know that there's patriotism still alive and well in the Midwest," Hensel said, adding that everyone walking will be handed a small American flag. "I'm a veteran from the Vietnam era, and I feel that it's important for veterans to be recognized and given their just due."

Similar Freedom Walks are scheduled around the country to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and to honor America's
military veterans. The local events around the country parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk, scheduled Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's America Supports You program.

The Pentagon sponsored the first America Supports You Freedom Walk in the Washington, D.C., area last year. The fact that so many cities across the country are holding Freedom Walks makes Hensel proud, he said. "I think that we have a great country, and I think people believe in the country, believe in our freedom," he Said.

Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.

Country Music Star to Perform at Aurora's Freedom Walk

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Country music star Tammy Cochran has enlisted to perform at the Freedom Walk in Aurora, Colo., on Sept. 9, according to event organizers. Cochran is slated to perform at the Aurora Municipal Center, along with recording artist Allen Asbury, as well as the Kory Brunson Band, North-40 and other artists and groups. "Tammy Cochran is so generous to come and join us for this special event, and we are happy to have her," said Leo Pacheco, executive director for the Beacon of Hope Outreach Center, which is sponsoring Aurora's Freedom Walk.

Aurora's Freedom Walk also will feature Iraq war veteran
Army Staff Sgt. Paul Brondhaver, who suffered almost 300 wounds after his convoy was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade. "We invited Staff Sergeant Brondhaver to come and speak about what's really going on in Iraq from his perspective, which is really positive and encouraging," Pacheco said. "We also invited, but he hasn't confirmed yet, actor Berry Pepper from 'We Were Soldiers' and 'Saving Private Ryan.'"

The Aurora Freedom Walk is free to participants, but registration is required. People interested in participating can visit the Beacon of Hope Outreach Center's Web site, he said, or call 303-290-7412. Registration is open until Sept. 4. Similar Freedom Walks are being held across the nation to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and to honor America's military veterans, past and present. These local events parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk, scheduled Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's America Supports You program. America Supports You spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers.

As of this morning, DoD officials said, 86 communities in 39 states have registered Freedom Walks at DoD's Freedom Walk Web site. Organizers expect 5,000 people to participate in Aurora's Freedom Walk, slated to begin at 10 a.m. at the future Colorado Freedom Memorial.

Walkers will be serenaded by special musical tributes and will be able to enjoy various food vendors and visit with event sponsors along the route. "Our sponsors have all very much declared their support for the troops," Pacheco said, noting many businesses are displaying their patriotism by their support of Aurora's Freedom Walk.

"The (Aurora) Freedom Walk has a lot of great potential, and it's going to be a huge event," Pacheco said. Founded in 1995, the Beacon of Hope Outreach Center is a non-profit organization that provides financial, physical and emotional assistance to disadvantaged families and at-risk youth. Through its Operation Hope program started in 2003, Beacon of Hope has provided care packages, financial aid and other support to more than 10,000 military members and their families. Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.

California Guardsmen Help Enforce Airport Security

By Donna Miles

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 28, 2006 – Staff Sgt. Chris Salgado, a California Army National Guard member based here, remembers his wife calling him to the television set Aug. 10 to see news reports about a
terrorist ring unearthed in London that was planning attacks on U.S.-bound airliners. Within the hour, Salgado's phone was ringing, and by nightfall, he was in uniform, responding to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's call for the National Guard to augment airport security.

"We got the call Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening we were at the armory and by Friday morning, we were standing tall at the airport," the squad leader for B Company, 40th Special Troop Brigade said of his assignment to San Diego International Airport. Today, Salgado and 317 of his fellow California Guardsmen are on duty at seven major airports throughout the state, supporting Transportation Safety Administration workers as they enforce new security precautions.

Massachusetts and New York took similar actions following the announcement of the foiled terror plot. The Massachusetts National Guard has assigned 129 soldiers and 14 airmen to the mission at Boston Logan International Airport, according to National Guard Bureau officials. In New York, 103 Army National Guard soldiers are on duty at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia International Airports.

In San Diego, about 90 Guardsmen are working side-by-side with TSA officials, helping ensure airline passengers don't carry liquids, gels, lotions or other forbidden substances in their carry-on bags. They stand at the boarding gates wearing blue latex gloves, randomly screening passengers and checking their bags for items not detected during the initial security screening. When they discover a banned item, they explain to the passenger that they must confiscate it, then place it in a gray plastic tray for disposal.

"We pick them at random, not because of their race or any other special factor," said Spc. Linda Kim, a Guardsman based in Van Nuys, Calif., who volunteered for the duty. “People are generally pretty accepting," said Pfc. Matthew Sharrar, a member of E Co., 1st Battalion, 185th Engineer in National City, Calif., who like Salgado, got called to duty Aug. 10.

Typically, the Guardsmen end up confiscating small-ticket items: bottles of water, lip gloss and other incidental items passengers forgot they had stashed in their bags. But Sharrar recalled the day he had to take a $150 bottle of lotion from a passenger before she boarded her plane. "She cooperated," he said. "She was understanding."

Overall, passengers said they're glad to see the National Guard helping keep airports safe. "It's outstanding. They're serving us and serving their country," said Ted Judson, a passenger bound for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport aboard American Airlines Flight 608. "The more you can have, the better." "Most people are really friendly," said Sharrar. "They see the uniform and respect it. They have a lot of respect for their military, and that's kind of nice."

The Guardsmen said they've gotten great feedback from the TSA officials they're supporting. "They're glad we're here," said Spc. John Rivera from 40th Special Troop Brigade in San Diego. "They know that we're just here to help." Most of the Guard members involved already have served deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many reported being called up for state missions involving everything from wildfire fighting support to riot or earthquake response.

Most view the airport security mission as another way to help their fellow citizens. "It's important work that has to be done to make sure everybody is safe," said Spc. Gabriel Gambone from the 670th Military
Police Company based in National City. "It's a commitment, something I signed on for and have to do." Kim, an accountant in her civilian job, said she had no qualms about volunteering for the duty. "I'm in the National Guard, so it's meant for me to come and help," she said. "That's what I'm here for."

America Supports You: Program Helps Wounded Vets Find New Jobs

By Samantha L. Quigley

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Severely injured servicemembers and their spouses are seeing doors open to meaningful civilian careers, thanks to a partnership between the Defense Department and the private sector. The Office of the Secretary of Defense, DoD's Military Severely Injured Center and -- a private organization that provides information and serves as a networking hub for current and former military people, defense workers and their families - are co-sponsors of "Hiring Heroes."

Hiring Heroes helps connect servicemembers with DoD and other federal agencies, as well as civilian companies, with significant positions to fill. But it's not just a career fair, Mark Smith, chief of the Recruiting Assistance Division of the Defense Department's Civilian Personnel Management Service, said. "We don't want them just coming in and getting interviews," Smith said. "We want them to be prepared for an interview, know how to dress for the interview, know how to present a resume, and then basically, hopefully, get a job from that."

The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, another troop-support organization, inspired Smith to create Hiring Heroes. He met Roger Chapin, the coalition's founder, at a luncheon and discovered the coalition, a private entity, was already working to help wounded servicemembers transition into civilian careers. At that point, he realized the Defense Department needed to step up to the plate. "It's great (that private organizations are) doing it - but DoD has got to do something too," Smith said.

He was pleasantly surprised to find that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld already had budgeted to develop the
Military Severely Injured Center, he said. "Rumsfeld had something going that was really good, and ... now it's a combined effort," Smith said. "We now support the Military Severely Injured Center, and we put our Hiring Heroes directly with them. So it's a partnership."

Hiring Heroes held its first job fair at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here in April 2004, he said. Since then, more than 800 injured servicemembers and their spouses have attended events at Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and most recently, at Fort Gordon, Ga. DoD alone has made more than 70 job offers, and civilian employers may have extended many more offers, he said.

"I'll be honest ... I'm biased. I want them in DoD, but I understand that's not always going to happen in all cases," Smith said. "As long as we get them a job, I'm OK with that, but we would love to keep them in the DoD family if we possibly can."

The next event will be held at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Sept. 18 and 19. For more information about this event or other upcoming Hiring Heroes events, contact Karen Hannah, the Hiring Heroes program manager, at 1-888-363-4872 or by e-mailing her at

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Taliban Commander, 15 Other Militants Killed

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2006 – Coalition soldiers killed a known Taliban commander and 15 other militants in Afghanistan Aug. 25, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials said in a news release. Coalition forces engaged Taliban leaders with joint in the central Khod Valley of Uruzgan province, officials said.

The Taliban commander and his associates were involved in attacks against the Afghan people, as well as Afghan, International Security Assistance Force and coalition forces, officials said. Coalition forces used deliberate measures to limit the chances of property damage. No damage was reported to a mosque adjacent to the militant's safe house after a precision coalition air strike, officials said.

No civilians were injured during the operation. "Coalition forces are actively and aggressively extending the security and the reach of the Afghan government," Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesperson, said. "Through tireless efforts, we continue to pursue terrorists and their leaders in making Afghanistan safer."

Navy Frigate Intercepts Drug Smugglers, Helps Rescue 26

NAPLES, Italy, Aug. 27, 2006 – U.S. Navy frigate USS Boone intercepted a drug-smuggling speedboat Aug. 24 while enroute from Algeria to Spain during a patrol of the Mediterranean Sea south of the Spanish coastline. According to U.S. Navy 6th Fleet officials, the crew abandoned its cargo-five packages of marijuana weighing 90 kilograms--when the USS Boone was sighted and entered Algerian territorial water. The Boone's crew confiscated the marijuana.

A few hours later, near the same location, the USS Boone encountered two small rubber boats in apparent distress, officials said. The ship approached the boats and found 26 people on board. A Spanish
Coast Guard vessel intervened to assist and rescued all 26 passengers, taking them ashore.

The USS Boone is part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 and is currently participating in Operation Active Endeavor. The allied component maritime commander,
Vice Admiral Roberto Cesaretti, who is responsible for the operation, sent his congratulations to the crew via the military code "Bravo Zulo" and stressed the importance of the operation.

Operation Active Endeavor is NATO's maritime contribution to the fight against terrorism. Launched in October 2001, it continues to conduct surveillance and monitoring operations of the major shipping lanes in the Mediterranean.

JTF Lebanon Establishes Air-Land and Sea Task Forces

By Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Brown

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Eastern Mediterranean, Aug. 27, 2006 – Navy Vice Adm. J. "Boomer" Stufflebeem, commander of Joint Task Force Lebanon, assigned two task force commanders to lead critical elements of his newly formed organization as part of assuming authority for
U.S. military operations here on Aug. 23, officials here announced today. Air Force Col. Brad Webb will command Task Force "Alpha," consisting of air and land components, while Navy Capt. John Nowell will lead Task Force "Bravo," consisting of maritime assets in the joint operating area.

"These task force commanders have responsibility for the air, land and sea support to the American Embassy in Beirut and will execute the daily operations necessary to carry out our mission to assist Department of State-led efforts in the region," Stufflebeem said. Since the current Middle East crisis began in mid-July, the Department of Defense and the Department of State joint interagency team has helped nearly 15,000 U.S. citizens safely depart Lebanon, while strengthening hope for the Lebanese people by providing millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, officials said.

As commander of the 352nd Special Operations Group, Webb arrived in the region July 19 with more than 180 personnel from his home station at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom. Originally supporting the U.S. Central Command-led operations, the 352nd will remain in the area, continuing the mission now under the authority of U.S. European Command. "On the surface, the shift from CENTCOM to EUCOM will cause some small changes," Webb said from his Cyprus-based headquarters. "But at the root of it all, the operations won't change because the air assets and ground assets are already in place."

Webb will continue using a group of MH-53M Pave Low heavy-lift helicopters as an "air bridge" to transport people in and out of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where a JTF Lebanon
Marine Corps Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team is located. "The FAST platoon working security at the Beirut Embassy is from Rota, Spain," said Webb. "Task Force Alpha is also responsible for our Army CH-47 helicopters based out of Ingolstadt, Germany, our MC-130P Combat Shadow refuelers and a small logistics element."

While Task Force Alpha has more than 450 personnel from all branches of the service, Nowell's maritime Task Force Bravo has a heavier naval presence of nearly 1,800 sailors, Marines, Air Force medical personnel and civilian mariners aboard USS Barry, USS Trenton, HSV Swift, USNS Kanawha and the JTF Lebanon flagship USS Mount Whitney.

"Mount Whitney is a good platform for the 200-plus joint personnel manning the JTF Lebanon headquarters staff as well as for exercising command of Task Force Bravo," said Nowell. "The ship's command and control suite is phenomenal and provides much needed capability."

Nowell visited both USS Trenton and USS Barry to tell crewmembers how much their work is appreciated. Both ships have been on station in the Eastern Mediterranean since mid-July and were instrumental in helping Americans leave Lebanon. Nowell also passed on a specific message from U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman. "He wanted to say a hearty 'thank you, and a job well done' in getting American citizens out of there in a time of crisis,'" Nowell told the ships' sailors.

Both Nowell and Webb said that while a lot of great work had already been accomplished, there is still a need for continued joint interagency presence in the area."There's certainly still work to do, be it helping Americans in peril or providing humanitarian assistance that helps contribute to stability in the region," Nowell explained. "There's a significant number of Americans that are solely dependent on the ability of our forces to come and get them if the need should arise," Webb said. "Every one of our soldiers, sailors,
Marines and airmen is proud to be here, and I expect it will stay that way until the time when the situation is stable and we can go home."

(Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Brown is assigned to JTF Lebanon public affairs.)