Thursday, November 30, 2006

Baqubah Still Functioning, Military Commander Reports

Nov. 30, 2006 – The city of Baqubah is fully operational despite media reports to the contrary, the senior coalition forces commander for Iraq's Diyala province said here today. "The erroneous reports are clearly an effort by some individuals to paint a picture of disarray and hysteria to destabilize the province," Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said.

The city's government center is open and most of the ministries are present for work, as are the city workers, the health care providers, and ambulances, Sutherland said.

"The mosques are open, and the market in Baqubah has seen a rise in business as fresh fruits and vegetables are arriving and being sold daily," the colonel said. "We also see construction projects progressing in the area, people going to the markets and walking the streets daily."

police are manning seven critical checkpoints, and the Iraqi army is manning four others, Sutherland said. Another checkpoint is jointly manned by both forces, he added.

Sutherland acknowledged that Iraqi
police fled when the Buhriz police station was attacked Nov. 27. He said the station will be rebuilt, fully manned and operational soon, and that the incident doesn't represent the quality of the police force throughout the city.

"That's not indicative of the situation in all the other stations in the city," Sutherland said. "The IPs are going through challenges with their leadership, logistics, and training. However, day in and day out, they show up to work. Even with the friction created by leadership challenges, the majority of the Iraqi
police remain at their post, ready to continue their work. I am very impressed with the loyalty and dedication of the individual policemen."

According to coalition forces reports, about 985
police officers work in Baqubah, and about 9,550 are assigned throughout the province. Additionally, an Emergency Response Force is manned and ready to respond to any crisis, he said.

"I'm not going to paint a pretty picture - insurgent and
terrorist organizations are attempting to destabilize the security forces, the government and the population through violence and misinformation," said Sutherland. "However, the government and the security forces are in control."

Coalition soldiers are patrolling around the clock with Iraqi soldiers in Baqubah, Sutherland said.

"We are fully committed to support the government in establishing a safe environment -- one that allows economic growth, infrastructure development, and most importantly, security for the people of Diyala," he said.

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Florida Guard Delivers Donations to Kabul Orphanage

Blankets, school supplies and soccer balls made their way to hundreds of orphaned children here today thanks to a deployed Florida U.S. Army Guard unit and donations from Americans. "This demonstrates America's compassion," said Col. Andrew Verrett, commander of the 930th Army Liaison Team, from Homestead, Fla. "We tend to be a nation of doers not

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Marines Rescue Hostage, Uncover Caches

Nov. 30, 2006 – Marines assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, rescued one hostage and uncovered two partially buried caches yesterday while conducting search-and-knock operations here, military officials reported. "By rescuing this gentleman and capturing the kidnappers, it shows the Iraqi people we do care for them, their safety and their future," said Marine Corps Lt. Col. William Seely, the battalion commander. "I am extremely proud of those Marines. The Marines saved a life and reunited a family. It just doesn't get any better."

After receiving intelligence from reliable sources, the
Marines raided a house and launched an extensive search of the premises. Soon after gaining entry into the facility, the Marines discovered three suspected insurgents in beds and a local national hostage, whose body bore marks of torture, huddled on the floor.

"It looked like they had beaten him pretty bad with a cane," said Cpl. Eric Maxwell, who participated in the operation. "He couldn't stand on his own; we had to pick him up. Our corpsman provided medical attention to the guy."

The three insurgents were detained. The situation continued to develop, though, and culminated in the elimination of two arms caches.

"Another platoon had a (person) get away, so my vehicle and Corporal Maxwell's vehicle moved from the house; the rest of the element moved in on the guy on foot," said Sgt. David Evans, an assistant team leader.

After pursuing the fleeing insurgent through fields, the Marines chanced upon "a dug-up cache in a reed line," he said. The find led them to another cache 50 meters to the west on the other side of a canal.

In sum, the stockpiles yielded one 155 mm artillery round and 15 130 mm artillery rounds. Both caches were destroyed by combat engineers attached to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. The
Marines also uncovered several identification badges, insurgent propaganda, one Italian 8 mm pistol with magazine, one AK 47 assault rifle with a chest rig and six magazines, and one M14 with 10 rounds.

"You might see a decrease in IED activity in that area," Evans said. "It makes them think, 'When is the next one going to come?'"

In other news from Iraq, Iraqi army soldiers found 28 bodies in a mass grave yesterday south of Baqubah.

Elements from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division with support from coalition forces, including an air weapons team, identified the possible grave site. The Iraqi troops recovered the bodies and moved them to the Narwan area for identification by possible family members. The bodies were later transported to an Iraqi police station in Baghdad.

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Cold War History Played Out at Guantanamo Bay Gate

Even as deployed National Guard members make history serving with Joint Task Force Guantanamo, they find history at the base's Northeast Gate. Minutemen and women helping fulfill JTF-GTMO's mission of providing safe care and custody for enemy combatants detained during the global war on terrorism can join Marine guides for an off-duty......

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U.S., Iraq Unified On Way-Forward Policy, Spokesmen Say

By Gerry J. Gilmore

Nov. 30, 2006 – Today's meeting between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, was historic and demonstrated the two leaders' accord on how to move forward in Iraq, a senior
U.S. military officer told reporters at a Baghdad news conference today. The two senior leaders had a very productive talk on how to best address the current security situation in Iraq, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told Ali al-Dabbagh, a senior Iraqi government official who accompanied the general to the briefing.

Iraq has experienced escalating Sunni-vs.-Shiite sectarian violence since a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra was bombed by extremists Feb. 22.

Bush and Maliki agreed to speed up the transfer of authority and responsibility for security matters in Iraq to the country's government and its
military and police forces, Caldwell said.

Dabbagh echoed Caldwell's comments, saying Maliki's meeting with Bush "paints the horizons of relations between Iraq and the United States."

The Iraqi official added that his government "will make an all-out review for the security situation in Iraq and take necessary steps in order to make Iraqi security forces enabled to hold (increased) responsibilities."

In addition, Dabbagh said, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi recently met with Jordan's King Abdullah, and discussed the mutual desirability of countries bordering Iraq to have a positive influence on the country's internal affairs.

The current levels of violence in Iraq are unacceptable, Caldwell said later during a question-and-answer session with reporters.

He added that resolving Iraq's violence involves both political and military components. "A
military solution, alone, will not solve the problem of the violence," Caldwell said to an Iraqi reporter. "We're very encouraged as we listen to your prime minister and the political parties discuss and continue with their efforts at reconciliation, because that's a key component to solving this violence."

However, it's also important that Iraq's soldiers and police become more capable than they are today, as the transfer of security responsibilities moves forward, the general said. To help achieve this goal, more coalition assistance teams will be embedded with Iraqi army and
police forces. "We're going to either double or triple the size of these teams across the (Iraqi) army and the police forces," Caldwell said. "And, their purpose is to focus on the professionalism and continuing training of the leaders and the soldiers and the policemen."

Iraqi and coalition forces continue to work closely together to go after al Qaeda in Iraq, who have been striving to separate the Iraqi people along sectarian lines, Caldwell said. "They do this by sensational attacks causing large civilian casualties," the general said. "They also do it through intimidation, murders and executions."

Coalition and Iraqi security forces are working together in operations that target al Qaeda in Iraq, Caldwell said, noting some key members of the terrorist network were recently captured. "And those operations are still continuing today, and we are working very diligently at bringing down those organizations," said he added.

Asked by another reporter if he thought the United States was going to soon withdraw its
military forces from Iraq, Caldwell responded, "No, not at all." The U.S. military, he said, is in Iraq at the request and invitation of the Iraqi government, and the United States is committed to assisting the Iraqi government until its security forces are capable of standing on their own.

Dabbagh dismisses reports that Iraq is experiencing a civil war. "There is political tension in Iraq," he acknowledged. However, accounts that describe an ongoing civil war in Iraq are exaggerated, the Iraqi official said.

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Army Casualty

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

Spc. Christopher E. Mason, 32, of Mobile, Ala., died Nov. 28 in Bayji, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire while on patrol. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at (910) 907-1946.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Jeannette T. Dunn, 44, of Bronx, N.Y., died Nov. 26 in Taji, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related injury. She was assigned to the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Nov. 28 in Logar, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 230th Military Police Company, 95th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Michael A. Shank, 31 of Bonham, Texas.

Spc. Jeffrey G. Roberson, 22, of Phelan, Calif.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the 21st Theater Support Command Public Affairs Office at 011-49-631-413-8184.

DoD Announces Air Force Airman as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown

The Department of Defense announced today the identity of an airman listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN).

Maj. Troy L. Gilbert was the pilot of an
Air Force F-16C engaged in support of coalition ground combat operations that crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of Baghdad Nov. 27.

Gilbert is assigned to the 309th Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, AZ and currently deployed to the 332nd Expeditionary Wing, Balad Air Force Base, Iraq.

An investigation is ongoing.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Luke Air Force Base public affairs office at (623) 856-5853.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Army Casualty

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

1st Lt. Benjamin D. Keating, 27, of Shapleigh, Maine, died Nov. 26 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his vehicle turned over. Keating was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-5461.

Afghan National Army Designates First Commando Battalion

By Staff Sgt. Marelise Wood, USAF

Nov. 29, 2006 – A 600-man battalion from the Afghan National
Army's 201st Corps has been selected as the country's first unit to undergo commando training. The battalion, led by Afghan National Army Lt. Col. Muhammad Farid Ahmadi, was selected over others because of its high morale and unparalleled esprit de corps, U.S. officials said.

An important part of developing commando capability is training noncommissioned officers who can go back and train others. Each of the five corps in the Afghan army will eventually have a commando unit assigned, and the 201st Corps soldiers train those units, officials said.

The unit's soldiers were evaluated on marksmanship, a timed three-mile run, push-ups, sit-ups, and a rucksack foot march in full battle gear. When the dust cleared, 100 soldiers were selected to receive specialized training.

"I think this is a good recognition, ... that they have recognized me and my battalion," Ahmadi said. "I am very proud."

His soldiers are equally proud and happy to be a part of the battalion. "He's a very good commander; he's professional," Capt. Sayed Naser said. "Since he's been assigned here, there have been positive changes, from physical training to education to professionalism. There is a great positive change. In all the battalion, from privates to NCOs to officers, they are happy with him and his leadership."

The soldiers selected are scheduled to receive specialized training in Jordan for six months, and expectations are high. "With this new training, good equipment, and designation as commando battalion, we will play a greater role in the future and the stability and security of the region," Ahmadi said.

"When there is security there will be reconstruction," he said. "This will lead to good diplomatic relations with the international community as a sound and healthy member. Reconstruction, economy, education, road building, all these things depend on security, and this battalion will play its role in that."

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Pace: Military Chiefs Looking at Full-Spectrum of Iraq Options

By Jim Garamone

Nov. 29, 2006 – Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are looking at the whole spectrum of conflict and the various options open to them regarding troop deployments,
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace said here today. "Whether it's been reported that we're looking at beefing up or it's reported that we're looking at 'skinnying' down, (we are doing) as you would expect your military planners to do: We're looking at the whole spectrum of possible military actions," Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon news conference.

Pentagon leaders are not considering abandoning Iraq's Anbar province and moving the 30,000
U.S. Marines and soldiers in that province to the battle in and around Baghdad, as has been reported by some media outlets, he said.

"Why would we want to forfeit any part of Iraq to the enemy? We don't," Pace said. "We want to provide security for the Iraqi people. You want to be able to assist the Iraqi government in providing good governance and providing economic opportunity."

He also said U.S. officials have no immediate thoughts to moving coalition forces out of Anbar and leaving the security situation to Iraqi security forces. "It's not on the table," he said.

In addition, discussions on whether Iraq is in a civil war are wasted effort, Pace said. He said the Iraqis do not call the conflict in the country a civil war; the Iraqi government is operating; and the Iraqi
military and police are answering to that government. "The level of violence that's being inflicted by al Qaeda and the like is specifically designed to create a civil war," he said. "It is specifically designed to create an ungovernable condition so the terrorists can then set up shop and rule those people the way they want to.

"It's much more important that we focus on how to defeat the enemy that is trying to create the civil war than it is we spend a lot of time dancing on the head of a pin as far as what particular words we should use to describe the environment which is currently unacceptable," he continued.

Military leaders in the Pentagon are looking at all aspects of the war on terror, and observers should not think a leaked piece of information is the be-all and end-all of strategy, Pace said.

The chiefs analyze the action against the desired outcome, get input for the rest of the staffs, apply their own experience, and then apply their best military judgment, the chairman said. Pace would not say what the chiefs' advice on the size of the force in Iraq was. He did confirm that
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, is moving "a couple" of U.S. battalions into Baghdad. Pace did not say where the battalions are coming from.

The chiefs' advice will be weighed alongside advice from the Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. Pace said he is not concerned about bumping into the group's recommendations. "This is a very complex problem, and the more 10-pound rings we can bring to bear on the problem for our nation the better," he said. "And the fact that somebody's wearing a uniform and not wearing a uniform doesn't impact whether or not they have a good idea."

Many different options are being considered, and no decisions have been made, despite media reports to the contrary. Bits and pieces of the deliberations are being reported, and some reporters are assuming that every item is the one way forward, Pace said. While it is true that the chiefs may be examining an option, it is just one of many.

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National Guard Chief Praises Rumsfeld's Leadership, Vision

By Donna Miles

Nov. 29, 2006 – As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld prepares to leave the office he's held for almost six years, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said the Defense Department and nation are losing "a heck of a leader" who led the department through a difficult and challenging period. Speaking with American Forces Press Service today during a week-long visit to the border states to observe National Guard operations in support of the U.S. Border Patrol,
Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum said he'll personally miss Rumsfeld and the strong leadership style he brought DoD. "We're a nation at war, and we don't want a pushover as secretary of defense," he said.

"We're prosecuting this war, and we still don't know exactly what we're dealing with," Blum continued. "It's easy (for people) to criticize, but this is not business as usual."

Blum said he's particularly impressed that Rumsfeld held on to his conviction to transform the military even after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Rumsfeld took on the transformation and modernization of the Pentagon and that whole structure, and then 9-11 got thrown in," he said. Rather than "pushing transformation aside" to focus on the global war on terror -- something Blum said would have been a lot easier than overseeing both simultaneously -- Rumsfeld used the
terror war as a "forcing mechanism" to speed up the transformation process.

Blum also credited Rumsfeld with recognizing early on that the
military, despite its strengths, can't carry the entire share of the load in conducting the terror war. Other agencies and organizations must step up to the plate and contribute their capabilities as well, the general said.

"We can't put the entire burden on the soldiers, sailors, airmen and
Marines," he said. "DoD can't be a one-dog sled that covers everything."

Blum expressed appreciation that Rumsfeld was willing to do what was necessary to serve the Defense Department at such a critical period in the country's history. "Here he is, in his golden years, and who else at that point of their life is going to push himself and work that hard?" he said. "He's a pretty selfless guy and a real patriot."

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Department of Homeland Security Grants

Beginning December 4, 2006 at 8:00 a.m. eastern standard time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin accepting applications for Fire Prevention and Safety grants (FP&S).

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Iraqis, Coalition Working to Counter Terrorists' Strategy

By Jim Garamone

Nov. 28, 2006 –
Terrorists and extremists in Iraq are working to destabilize the country to further their own goals, a coalition spokesman in Iraq said at a news conference today. This goal drives the horrific attacks on civilians and fuels retaliatory killings in and around Baghdad, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said, adding that all this is counter to the will of the Iraqi people.

"Al Qaeda, foreign terrorists and extremists do not want to let the Iraqis decide their own future," Caldwell said. "Through two elections and a constitutional referendum, the Iraqi people have demonstrated they want to be a part of this political process and they want to have a representative government."

Saddam Hussein's rule crippled the oil-rich nation. Making the transition from dictatorship to democracy would be tough even without
terrorist efforts to derail the process, Caldwell said, but he predicted the will of the Iraqi people will prevail. "Iraqis are creating a country that will replace the rule of the gun with the rule of the law," Caldwell said. "And they will put criminals and killers out of business."

Mortar and car bomb attacks Nov. 23 that killed more than 180 innocent Iraqis and wounded 245 in Sadr City, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood on the east side of Baghdad, reflect the al Qaeda in Iraq strategy in the nation, the general said. "It was indisputably a terrible crime against the Iraqi people," Caldwell said. "The retaliatory attacks we have seen the last couple of days are also."

Terrorists seek to control the Sunni population in the country, Caldwell explained, and they are looking to dominate Baghdad, the
military and political center of gravity in Iraq. Al Qaeda kills and intimidates Sunnis who want to work with the elected, representative government. The group also seeks to weaken the Iraqi government and destroy faith in the democratically elected representatives. The terrorists attack the representatives and work to make Iraqis fearful of dealing with their own government.

Al Qaeda's strategy also calls for attacks on Shiite civilians. The attacks in Sadr City are an example of this strategy, Caldwell said. Al Qaeda launches the attacks and counts on illegal militias to launch revenge attacks on Sunnis. This creates division along sectarian lines.

The Iraqis and coalition have made progress against al Qaeda in Iraq, Caldwell said. Since November 2004, Iraqi and coalition forces have killed or captured more than 7,000 al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists, including more than 30 senior-level terrorists who have been captured or killed since July, he said.

Between Nov. 14 and 19, Iraqi and coalition forces conducted a number of targeted raids across Iraq and captured the terrorist emirs of Ramadi, Bakuba, Qaim, Tikrit, Bayji and Baghdad, Caldwell said. The forces also captured two terrorist facilitators, a courier, an explosive expert and a financier. "The detention of these terrorists represents a serious blow against the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network," he said.

Iraqi and coalition forces also are working diligently against death squads. Most sectarian attacks in the country are within 30 miles of Baghdad, and Iraqi and coalition forces continue to work against illegal militias. "In the past week, our combined forces conducted 18 operations against sectarian death squads resulting in the detainment of 78 suspected cell members," Caldwell said.

Caldwell said that polls in Iraq show the people want the government to succeed. He said Iraqis are resolved on a unified, secure and prosperous Iraq. "In polling conducted last month, 89 percent of Iraqis nationwide agreed with this statement: 'My first loyalty is to my country rather than my sect, ethnic group or tribe,'" Caldwell said. Only 25 percent of Iraqis said the country would be better off divided along sectarian lines.

Coalition forces continue to work with Iraqi security forces to build their professionalism, Caldwell said. More than 4,000 U.S. servicemembers organized in 430 teams advise the Iraqi
army, police and border guards. The teams are necessary "to sustain and develop these forces so they can evolve into a professional security institution," the general said. "They will remain in place long after we have met our goal of training and equipping 325,000 Iraqi security forces."

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Training Takes Over As Medics Treat Soldiers They Know

By Spc. Courtney Marulli, USA

Nov. 28, 2006 – The medics of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, train hard to save the lives of any soldier, and sometimes that includes the lives of soldiers they work with on a daily basis. These
Army medics found out quickly they have little time to adjust from garrison to combat once in Iraq.

Sgt. Bambi Sharpe, the supply and evacuation noncommissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, of Rocky Mount, N.C., said the new medics did a wonderful job when several casualties came in after a mortar attack.

"I thought, initially, we were going to have people choke up," Sharpe said, "but they got right in there and got their hands dirty. I am very proud of them."

Sharpe said seasoned and new medics are stepping up and doing what needs to be done to properly care for patients.

Pfc. Heaven Gallop, a medic with HHC, BSTB, from Winston, S.C., said she wanted to be a medic since she was a little girl. She used to go around trying to bandage animals and other children whenever they were hurt. "I grew up watching war movies with my father," she said. "I wanted to be the one out there with the face paint and helping."

Gallop said the medical team for her brigade, with a mix of medics and physician's assistants, offers her a great environment to continue learning about the medical field.

When her first patient came in, Gallop said, her training paid off.

"You don't really have time to freak out. You don't have time to process it," she said. "You can only concentrate on the patient and then later reflect on it. You always learn from each patient, because they're different."

Gallop said it's rewarding when patients look at her and know they can depend on her. She said she also feels good when she's done the best she can to help someone.

Pfc. Chris Llewellyn, of Sacramento, Calif., a medic with HHC, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, said even though this is his first deployment, he isn't feeling too apprehensive. "I had more anxiety before I got here than since I've been here," he said.

The first time Llewellyn toured the aid station, there was a mortar attack and the lights went out. Several casualties came in, but the trauma training he received prepared him for the emergency and the outage, he said.

Aside from treating casualties, Llewellyn said, he is learning how to manage sick call, which includes learning about medications and how to tell what is normal by listening to someone's heart and lungs.

Pvt. Charlie Pennington of Indianapolis, a line medic with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, said he was a pre-med major before joining the
Army. His interest is orthopedics, but he enjoys it all aspects of health care. This is his first deployment, and Pennington hasn't had to treat a casualty yet while out on patrol.
"We've been shot at, but no one's been hurt," he said.

Even though he hasn't treated anyone yet, Pennington said he feels prepared because of the experience he received at medical school. Pennington said he was also an emergency medical technician in high school.

Medics not only have to learn the technical aspects of their job, but also may have to put their knowledge to use on those they know. For Sharpe, that is the hardest part of her job.

"It's hard to work on someone you know who is on the table," she said. "I was a line medic last time, and it got real personal. Those guys are the ones who have your back, no matter what."

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Bush: 'Forces of Freedom, Decency Will Prevail' in Afghanistan

By Kathleen T. Rhem

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2006 – Afghanistan is NATO's most important
military operation, President Bush said today in Riga, Latvia. "By standing together in Afghanistan, we'll protect our people, defend our freedom, and send a clear message to the extremists: The forces of freedom and decency will prevail," he said in a speech at Latvia University.

Bush is in Riga attending a summit of leaders of NATO nations.

All 26 NATO allies and 11 other partner nations are conducting a variety of missions in Afghanistan: operating provincial reconstruction teams, conducting combat operations to root out Taliban fighters, and training the Afghan National
Army and police forces.

"They're serving with courage, and they're doing the vital work necessary to help this young democracy secure the peace," he said.

NATO forces were tested after taking control of operations in southern Afghanistan -- the traditional home of the Taliban and other extremists -- over the summer. "The Taliban radicals, who are trying to pull down Afghanistan's democracy and regain power, saw the transfer from American to NATO control as a window of opportunity to test the will of the alliance," Bush said.

He noted that Taliban fighters amassed a large force near Kandahar to take on NATO troops. "It was a mistake," Bush said.

Combat forces from Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Australia and the United States engaged the enemy fighters, with forces from Romania, Portugal and Estonia providing support. "According to NATO commanders, allied forces fought bravely and inflicted great damage on the Taliban," Bush said.

Bush told the NATO allies they can be proud of the transformation Afghanistan has undergone. "Because of our efforts, Afghanistan has gone from a totalitarian nightmare to a free nation with an elected president, a democratic constitution, and brave soldiers and
police fighting for their country," he said.

He cited several statistics that highlight successes in Afghanistan: More than 4.6 refugees have returned home; the country's economy has tripled over five years; 2 million girls are attending school, compared to none under the Taliban; and 85 women have been elected or appointed to the Afghan National Assembly.

"A nation that was once a
terrorist sanctuary has been transformed into an ally in the war on terror, led by a brave president, Hamid Karzai," Bush said. "Our work in Afghanistan is bringing freedom to the Afghan people; it is bringing security to the Euro-Atlantic community; and it's bringing pride to the NATO alliance."

Still, security and the success of the Afghan government are not assured in the country. Drug traffickers, warlords and other criminals "remain active and are committed to destroying democracy in Afghanistan," Bush said.

"Defeating them will require the full commitment of our alliance. For NATO to succeed, its commanders on the ground must have the resources and flexibility they need to do their jobs," he added. "The alliance was founded on a clear principle: An attack on one is an attack on all. That principle holds true whether the attack is on our home soil or on our forces deployed on a NATO mission abroad."

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Air Force Convenes Board to Examine F-16 Crash in Iraq

By Jim Garamone

Nov. 28, 2006 – The
Air Force has convened an investigative board to look into the crash of an F-16 Fighting Falcon engaged in combat operations over Iraq yesterday. The board will look into what caused the F-16CG single-seat fighter to crash about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad around 1:35 p.m.

The pilot of the craft is officially listed as "duty status: whereabouts unknown," coalition spokesman
Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said during a Baghdad news conference today.

While the cause of the crash is unknown, there is nothing to suggest that insurgents shot down the aircraft Caldwell said. The aircraft was part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, at Balad Air Base, Iraq.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Hoog, air component coordination element director for Multinational Force Iraq, said the fighter was part of a "troops in contact" operation. The aircraft was under operational control of ground commanders at the time of the incident.

Hoog said officials have retrieved
DNA material from the site and that it will take two to four days to analyze the material.

Immediately after the crash, other aircraft and surveillance assets were over the site, the general said. "Those assets did observe insurgents in the vicinity of the crash site," he added.

A quick-reaction force secured the area as soon as combat operations in the area finished. Hoog said officials found the ejection seat, but it wasn't possible to determine if the pilot had used the seat or not.

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NATO Countries Need to Make Strategic Investments, Bush Tells Leaders

By Kathleen T. Rhem

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2006 – NATO nations must invest enough to give NATO forces the capabilities they need to meet current and future challenges, President Bush told alliance leaders in Riga, Latvia, today. "The most basic responsibility of this alliance is to defend our people against the threats of a new century," he said.

Bush described details of several military transformational initiatives that NATO leaders will announce during this summit.

The NATO Special Operations Forces Initiative will strengthen the ability of NATO special ops troops to work together.

A new Strategic Airlift Initiative will ensure a dedicated fleet of C-17 cargo aircraft available for use by NATO members.

The Riga Global Partnership Initiative will allow NATO to conduct joint training, exercises and planning with non-NATO partners such as Australia and Japan, "countries that share NATO's values and want to work with our alliance in the cause of peace."
A new Training Cooperation Initiative will allow military forces in the Middle East to receive NATO training in counterterrorism, counterproliferation and peace-support operations.

These moves will follow other recent transformation initiatives such as the creation of the NATO Response Force, to ensure the alliance can deploy rapidly and effectively, and NATO Transformation Command, to ensure the alliance is prepared to meet threats of the future, Bush said.

"When NATO was formed in 1949, its principal mission was to protect Europe from a Soviet tank invasion," Bush said. "Today the Soviet threat is gone, and under the able leadership of the secretary-general, NATO is transforming from a static alliance focused on the defense of Europe into an (expeditionary) alliance ready to deploy outside of Europe in the defense of freedom."

NATO recognized that threats to alliance members may come from outside Europe and sent international forces to Afghanistan, 3,000 miles away from Europe, Bush said. "NATO has expanded (the International Security Assistance Force) from a small force that was operating only in Kabul into a robust force that conducts security operations in all of Afghanistan," he said.

Future threats could come from any front, Bush said.

"We're in a long struggle against
terrorists and extremists who follow a hateful ideology and seek to establish a totalitarian empire from Spain to Indonesia," the president said. "We fight against the extremists who desire safe havens and are willing to kill innocents anywhere to achieve their objectives."

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Bush: Freedom Worked in Europe, Can Work in Middle East

By Jim Garamone

Nov. 28, 2006 – Freedom in Europe can be an example to the people of the greater Middle East, President Bush said in Tallinn, Estonia, and in Riga, Latvia, today. Bush stopped in Estonia briefly on his way to Riga for a NATO Summit. In Tallin, Bush spoke after a meeting with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. In Riga, he spoke at Latvia University.

Both countries were under the totalitarian heel of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Both countries are now free, prosperous and members of NATO.

"Freedom in Europe has brought peace to Europe, and freedom has brought the power to bring peace to the broader Middle East," Bush said in his speech in Riga.

He said that nations cannot compromise with
terrorists. "The question facing our nations today is this: Will we turn the fate of millions over to totalitarian extremists and allow the enemy to impose their hateful ideology across the Middle East, or will we stand with the forces of freedom in that part of the world and defend the moderate majority, who want a future of peace?"

The president said the United States and its NATO allies have chosen freedom. "We refuse to give in to the pessimism that consigns millions across the Middle East to endless oppression," he said. "We understand that, ultimately, the only path to lasting peace is through the rise of lasting free societies."

Bush said during a news conference in Estonia that it is important for the region that the freely elected government of Iraq succeeds. He said al Qaeda in Iraq is trying desperately to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "The Samarra bombing that took place last winter was intended to create sectarian violence, and it has," Bush said.

Bush is set to meet with Maliki in Jordan Nov. 30. "My questions to him will be: 'What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?' I will assure him that we will continue to pursue al Qaeda to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq," the president said.

"It's in our interest that we succeed," Bush said. "A democracy in the heart of the Middle East is an important part of defeating the radicals and totalitarians that can't stand the emergence of a democracy."

The same pressure is being applied by terrorists to the government of Lebanon "That government is being undermined, in my opinion, by extremist forces encouraged out of Syria and Iran. Why? Because a democracy will be a major defeat for those who articulate extremist points of view."

Terrorists also will do what they can to short-circuit any progress in a Palestinian-Israeli peace, Bush said. "Extremists attack because they can't stand the thought of a democracy," he said.

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Forensic Science Identifies Korean War MIA

Layton, assigned to 31st Regimental Combat Team was engaged against the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces along the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. After intense fighting from Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 1950, the battalion was forced to abandon its position, leaving its dead behind. Layton was listed as missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, and was later presumed

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Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle Nov. 26 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Killed were:

Capt. Jason R. Hamill, 31, of New Haven, Conn.
1st Lt. David M. Fraser, 25, of Texas.
Pvt. Joshua C. Burrows, 20, of Bossier City, La.

Hamill and Fraser were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Burrows was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Bridade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Army Casualty

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

Cpl. Nathan J. Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, N.D., died Nov. 23 in Qarabagh, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. He was assigned to National Guard's 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery, Grand Forks, N.D.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the North Dakota National Guard public affairs office at (701) 333-2006.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Daniel M. Morris, 28, of Clinton, Tenn., died Nov. 25 in Al Judiah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz, 20, of Carlstadt, N.J., died Nov. 27 from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th 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) 450-6575.

Army Casualty

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

2nd Lt. Scott B. Lundell, 35, of Hurricane, Utah, died Nov. 25 in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades while on patrol during combat operations. He was assigned to I Corps Artillery, Utah National Guard, Camp Williams, Utah.

For further information related to this release, contact the Utah National Guard Public Affairs Office at 801-523-4407.

Monday, November 27, 2006

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News

November 27, 2006

Combating anthrax

“[A study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham], through the Centers for Disease Control, is being conducted nationwide at five separate centers and is helping to determine just how much of the anthrax vaccine the body needs to develop immunity. Soldiers, for example, get a course of eight vaccines over 3½ years. But transfers to far-off stations or even combat sometimes means skipping an injection. The study, among other things, is trying to find out if a person can get by with four injections.
Researchers also will use the results to determine the side effects from injecting the shot into the muscles of the upper arm rather than the fatty tissue farther down.” (The Birmingham News; William Thornton)

New agency would bolster biodefense

“After two years of delays, Congress is poised to pass biodefense legislation next month that would create a new federal agency to speed development of drugs for an array of infectious diseases that are bioterror threats... The bill that would establish the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, was passed unanimously by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in September...
[P]rogress in designing drugs to counter potential biological weapons has been slow. Vaccines in particular are enormously complex to design, take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring to the market and have limited use. Currently, there are only four major vaccine manufacturers left in the world... If passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush, BARDA will become an office under the Department of Health and Human Services, which already spends $4.2 billion a year to address bioterror threats...‘A key feature of strategy for HHS is to move from fixed defenses, what's called 'one bug, one drug,' to flexible defenses,’ said Smith. ‘This is a reflection of what a lot of people have been saying about how to develop new drugs and vaccines. The only way out of (the bioterror threat) is to make a broad defense against a wide array of infectious diseases both here and outside the U.S. -- that's our vision of victory.’” (The Star-Ledger; 26Nov06; Amy Ellis Nutt)

Labs need the tools to protect us

“Within the next several months, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [LLNL, California] plans to open a new building that will assist its scientists in developing detection technologies to help protect the United States against bioterrorism. The new building, called a Biosafety Level 3 facility, will permit Livermore researchers to conduct more sophisticated experiments on a wider range of microorganisms than can currently be handled... Dr. Caroline Purdy, of the Science and Technology directorate at DHS, said she believes the Livermore Biosafety Level 3 facility is important for continuing to upgrade the BioWatch system. ‘It is my professional opinion that LLNL's BSL-3 facility will significantly improve our nation's ability to detect and respond to the threat of terrorism using biological agents, and that delaying commencement of operations at LLNL's BSL-3 facility would directly and adversely impact the national security of the United States,' Purdy said... Activists have appealed a previous U.S. District Court decision affirming the opening of the facility, citing concerns about earthquake safety, security and possible releases... [However,] independent safety reviews have been conducted of the Livermore BSL-3 facility, design and operations to ensure that the facility will be safely operated.” (Contra Costa Times; 25Nov06; Colston)

Police Raid North Korea-Related Facilities

“A special Japanese
police unit has raided facilities connected to North Korea, the latest of a series of efforts to limit illegal exports to the country... Police say they are investigating an unauthorized attempt to smuggle 60 bags of intravenous solutions to North Korea six months ago...Japanese media say the liquids could have been used to make biochemical weapons. A spokesman for the association, who asks to be identified only as Mr. Jon, says that is not true... Police raided facilities in Tokyo and the city of Niigata affiliated with [the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan] ... Japan imposed trade and financial restrictions on North Korea and has halted shipping to the communist state following Pyongyang's nuclear test last month.” (Voice of America; 27Nov06; Steve Herman)

Russian officials deny report of accident at chemical weapons reprocessing site

“Russian officials denied reports Thursday that highly toxic chemicals had accidentally spilled from a weapons reprocessing facility in central Russia. Radio Liberty had quoted Tatyana Korolyovaya, an environmental activist in a town close to the Maradykovsky complex, as saying that several aviation bomb casings had ruptured during reprocessing and that toxic liquid had spilled onto the ground. The Maradykovsky plant, located
725 kilometers (450 miles) northeast of Moscow, holds 6,900 tons of nerve agents stored in aerial bombs and missile warheads — or more than 17 percent of Russia's chemical weapons stockpile. ‘Information that depressurization of several weapons and poisonous liquids spilled on the ground is completely disinformation,’ said Mikhail Manin, the official in the Volga region responsible for weapons-related issues....The plant is a focal point of the push to meet an April 2007 target set by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for Russia to destroy 20 percent of its stockpile... The bombs stored at Maradykovsky hold VX, soman and sarin, as well as a less deadly mixture of lewisite and mustard gas.” (International Herald Tribune; 23Nov06; AP)

Composite Made from Synthetic Rubber with Liquid Crystals Could Protect from Toxic Chemicals

Military personnel, chemical workers, and others could benefit from a new synthetic rubber material tailored with liquid crystals. The material might be used to make body suits to protect chemical-industry employees from skin exposure to toxic vapors and aerosols, as well as providing protection for military personnel and civilians in the event of a chemical-weapons attack. The new composite is lightweight and breathable, but still blocks the passage of toxic chemicals, reducing the risk of heat exhaustion in anyone wearing it... At present, the only certain way to protect people from all chemical vapors to which they might be exposed is to use a hermetically sealed body suit and fully enclosed breathing apparatus... During preparation of [this new] breathable rubber, the liquid crystals organize themselves into cylinders around water molecules in the reaction mixture. This causes tiny water-filled nanopores just 1.2 nanometers in diameter to form. Only the smallest of molecules can pass through these pores, including water. Many toxic molecules, nerve agents, and other chemicals are too big to enter the pores.” (; 27Nov06)

Code of conduct for scientists could be a reality

“The international watchdog against chemical weapons wants to see a code of conduct for scientists worldwide. This is to ensure that the right knowledge does not fall into the wrong hands. The Organisation for Prohibition Against Chemical Weapons said the new code of ethics or conduct is timely for those who use and apply chemistry. It is working to make the code a key part of the chemistry curriculum in educational institutions to prevent those with the knowledge from using it for the wrong cause... For the first time, conference organisers have brought together scientists as well as civil and military personnel from operational agencies, as they all play key roles in responding to and overcoming chemical, biological, radiological and explosive threats.”
(Channel NewsAsia; 27Nov06; Farah Abdul Rahim)

Review Conference Working Group Holds Third Meeting: The Role of the CWC in Enhancing International Peace and Security

“The Open-Ended Working Group for the Chemical Weapons Convention’s Second Review Conference (WGRC) held its third meeting on 13 November 2006 at the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague...The Third Meeting addressed the role of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in enhancing international peace and security. The issues discussed included the importance of the destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles within the applicable deadlines, the importance of achieving universal adherence to and full and prompt implementation of the CWC, and the role of the CWC in responding to the threat of international terrorism. At the meeting, the Working Group also continued its consideration of the contribution of civil society to the review process. The Working Group will hold its next meeting on 11 December 2006.” (OPCW Pres Release; 23Nov06)

Radioactive element found in blood of Russian ex-spy

“Traces of radioactive polonium have been found in the blood of the deceased ex-Soviet spy Alexander Litvinenko, the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said on Friday... High levels of radiation have been discovered in a central London hotel that Litvinenko frequented, and at the sushi restaurant where he said he ate on 1 November 2006... To poison someone, polonium would most likely have been chemically combined in some type of dissolvable salt, for example polonium nitrate, experts told New Scientist. In this form the material could easily have been added to his food and ingested. Polonium is a radioactive element that is used industrially as an anti-static material. It is difficult to get hold of and not used regularly by research scientists, but very small traces of it occur naturally... ‘To poison someone, large amounts of polonium-210 are required and this would have to be manmade, perhaps from a particle accelerator or a nuclear reactor,’ said Dudley Goodhead at the UK's MRC Radiation and Genome Stability Unit. ‘Polonium has a half-life of 138 days. This means that if that was the poison it will still be in the body and in the area – which makes it relatively easy to identify.’” (New Scientist; 27Nov06; Gaia Vince)

Britain seeks to calm radioactive alarm

“British authorities sought overnight to allay growing public concern after radioactive traces were found in London following the death of a Russian ex-spy, and a handful of people were sent for tests....[S]peaking to MPs [Members of Parliament] afterwards, Mr. Reid [Home Secretary] confirmed traces of the radioactive substance polonium-210 had been found in two hospitals where Litvinenko spent his dying days, a sushi bar and a hotel he visited on November 1, and ‘certain’ other places in London. He did not specify them, but Sky News reported that experts had located suspect material - of the kind found in Litvinenko's urine - at a west London office block and a building in the upscale Mayfair neighbourhood... The Health Protection Agency has also sought to allay concern, pointing out the kind of alpha radiation involved can travel only tiny distances, so the risk of contamination is minimal.” (The Australian; 28Nov06; AFP)

Manchester signs counter-
terrorism deal with [U.K.] Home Office

“The University of Manchester is to develop a host of new counter-terrorism technologies following the award of a multi-million pound research contract by the Home Office... The project will form part of the Home Office's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear terrorism (CBRN) Resilience Programme, established in October 2001... The three projects, all separately funded, are led by members of the School of Chemistry with support from Chemical Engineering, Earth Science and Materials Science, all part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences... Professor Francis Livens, an expert in radiation sciences, will lead a project focusing on the identification and development of new molecules which can be incorporated into materials to be used as decontaminants on surfaces and in liquids. Michael Turner, Professor of Materials Chemistry, will lead the development of new type of low cost sensor which uses organic semiconductors to detect chemical agents... Roy Goodacre, Professor of Biological Chemistry, will lead the development of a portable device which uses the interaction of laser light with matter to generate a fingerprint to identify and detect bacteria in the air.”
(University of Manchester Press Release; 21Nov06)

Saddam Hussein's genocide trial resumes

“Prosecutors pressed ahead in the genocide trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and six others Monday in Baghdad after a two-week recess. The group is charged with crimes against humanity involving the deaths of as many as 180,000 Kurds in 1987-88 in the so-called Anfal, or spoils of war campaign, which prosecutors allege was a type of ethnic cleansing undertaken while Iraq and Iran were at war. All seven men have pleaded innocent to the charges, which include the use of chemical and biological weapons.” (United Press International; 27Nov06)

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'Observant, Adaptive Enemy' Calls for New Approaches, Gainey Says

By Sgt. Jon Cupp, USA

Nov. 27, 2006 – Soldiers who are new to the theater of operations in Iraq actually have an advantage over those who are veterans of previous Operation Iraqi Freedom rotations, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told soldiers here yesterday.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey visited with 1st Cavalry Division soldiers at the Taji Cinema Theater here.

"You who have been here before have the expectation of things running the same way as the last time you were here," said Gainey, likening their situation to that of a football team. "You play Friday night and win; but you lose the next game because your thinking was the same. You played exactly the same way as you did the last time."

Gainey said the soldiers need to remember that they are facing an observant, adaptive enemy.

"The enemy is smart. ... Act like this is the first game, the first season, the first time," said Gainey. "Forget (about the last time); do it the way it is now. I've been here a lot of times, and every day is different."

Gainey told the soldiers that it is perfectly natural for them to miss their families while deployed, but that the troops should stay focused on the mission by finding ways to keep their minds off of what's going on at home.

"Get yourself involved in something to help get your mind off of missing your family," he said. "Physical fitness, mental fitness and emotional fitness are all very important."

Gainey explained that becoming a part of volunteer groups is one of the things he has done while being away from his family. He suggested that soldiers can find other ways to keep their minds off of things at home, such as seeking out educational opportunities or working out at the gym.

"I didn't sit around worrying about the fact that I was going to be away from them," he said. "You can't worry about what you can't change."

Gainey left the troopers with some parting advice.

"Spend your time wisely and be professionals," said Gainey, adding, "Pride is contagious. Share the pride you have with each other."

Soldiers who heard Gainey speak said it was a worthwhile experience.

"I was honored to hear the sergeant major speak," Pfc. Erica Wells from Company E, 615th Air Support Battalion, said. "It definitely cheered me up to know that he cared enough to come and speak to us and share his feelings with us. He really knows how to motivate you. The things he spoke on were very important."

"He was very personable and really taught us quite a bit," added Pfc. Ashley Howard, a truck driver for Company A, 615th Air Support Battalion.

At the end of his visit, Gainey took a tour of one of the 15th Sustainment Brigade's vehicle yards on the camp, where soldiers were placing new, improved armor on their Humvees.

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Bigger Problems Await if Extremists Hold Sway on Region, General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore

Nov. 27, 2006 – It's imperative that the United States, its allies and the Iraqi government stop Islamic extremists from achieving their goal of controlling Iraq and the surrounding region, a senior
U.S. military officer said on CBS's "60 Minutes" yesterday. "We have to stabilize Iraq and the broader regional dynamic in order to make the region less conducive to extremism, because if we don't, the extremist values will become mainstream and we will have a much worse security situation develop in the future," Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, told CBS reporter Lara Logan.

Recent heightened sectarian violence in Iraq "is worrisome," Abizaid acknowledged, noting "it can be fatal to Iraq if it's not checked." Yet, he dismissed talk of partitioning Iraq into separate Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni segments.

"There's no good solution to a divided Iraq," Abizaid asserted. "It's got to come together. It's got to stabilize. And, it's going to require Iraqi sacrifice and courage and responsibility along with that of the United States and our allies."

U.S. military commanders "don't believe that they've been defeated" in Iraq, Abizaid said. His greatest concern for Iraq, he said, is that neighbors like Syria and Iran decide to further destabilize the country, rather than help it to coalesce.

The Iraqi government has shown its desire to confront the sectarian violence, including violence committed by illegal militias, Abizaid pointed out. "They know that the militias have got to be taken on," the general said.

A major element in stabilizing Iraq, Abizaid said, involves employing the country's army to stop the sectarian strife.

"The (Iraqi) government must get behind its army in order to give it confidence that it can operate on the non-sectarian plain," the four-star general said. "And, it's a very, very complicated problem. But, it is one that can be solved."

The Iraqi army is improving daily in both numbers and quality, Abizaid pointed out. During his recent testimony before Congress, the general noted he'd never ruled out that more U.S. troops could be sent to Iraq.

"I had not precluded the notion of more (U.S.) troops coming into Iraq," Abizaid said. "We'll do whatever we have to do to stabilize the situation. As, I said in my testimony, all options are on the table."

Abizaid rejected the idea that Americans have given up on the mission in Iraq.

"I think people in the country are trying to figure out how to manage our involvement in Iraq so that Iraq can stabilize," Abizaid said. "You just can't walk away from these problems in the Middle East and hope that things are going to get better."

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Marine Aviation Transforming to Support Warfighter

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

Nov. 27, 2006 – The
Marine Corps aviation component is transforming along with the total force while keeping its focus on its most important priority, supporting the Marines fighting on the ground, a senior Marine aviation officer said here last week. While aviation is not usually associated with the Marine Corps, it is actually an essential element of the force, because it enables the Marines to respond quickly to requirements around the globe with a lighter, more versatile force, Marine Col. Robert Walsh, deputy assistant commandant for aviation, said in a Pentagon Channel interview last week. Aviation makes up about one-third of the total Marine Corps, with about 1,200 aircraft, Walsh said.

The Marines often respond more quickly than the Army, because they don't bring the heavy capabilities the
Army does, Walsh explained. "To be able to support that Marine on the ground, we bring a lot more of our fire from the air than the Army does," he said. "Because we're a lighter, quicker-to-the-fight force, we rely much more on aviation as an integral part of this team, this Navy-Marine air-ground team."

As the battlefield has shifted in the 21st century to more irregular warfare, Marine aviation also has shifted its role, Walsh said. To better support the Marines fighting on the ground in urban environments, aircraft have been doing more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance work to give the ground forces more awareness of the situation, he said.

While this transformation is important, Walsh noted, the commandant of the Marine Corps has given clear guidance that the entire force stay versed in conventional capabilities, to be prepared for anything that could happen in the future. For Marine aviation, this means maintaining the ability to integrate ground and air forces to best accomplish the mission, Walsh said.

"We've got to continue to look at where we want to be in the future and what the Marine Corps wants to do," he said. "That's where we go back to our roots -- conventional capabilities - so we don't get so focused in the one area that we're not able to shift gears quickly, because the enemy's not going to give us that notice to be able to spool up quickly and shift gears. So we can be that force that's most ready when the nation's least ready."

Sustaining the current force is the first priority of Marine aviation, Walsh said. This includes ensuring that aircraft sent to the theaters of operation are in good condition and ready for use, he said. The
Marine Corps is also rotating its aircraft more often and putting them through a "reset" program in the U.S. before deploying them again, he explained.

The second priority of Marine aviation is modernizing the force, Walsh said. The modernization is happening service-wide, but in the aviation component it means replacing older, legacy aircraft with new technology, he said. Specifically, the KC-130J is being integrated to the force as an air and ground refueler, and the MV-22 Osprey is replacing the CH-46 Sea Knight.

Both of these aircraft bring new capabilities to the force that will change the way it operates on the battlefield, he said. The Osprey will be able to go twice as fast, have six times the range, seven times the ballistic tolerance capability, one-fourth the infared signature, and one-sixth of the acoustic signature of the CH-46, he noted, and will be able to go to altitudes above 10,000 feet. The KC-130J brings air refueling capabilities to the aviation force, he added.

Another aircraft that will modernize the force is the Joint Strike Fighter, Walsh said. The Joint Strike Fighter is being purchased by the
Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and about nine partner nations, and in the Marine Corps will replace two aircraft: the AV8-B Harrier and the F-18 Hornet. The fighter is being developed as a stealth aircraft with precision fire capabilities, but it will also bring other assets to the Marines, he said.

"We see using the Joint Strike Fighter as an integrator - really a battlefield integrator or an enabler between the air and the ground," Walsh said. "It's going to have intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance command and control capabilities, along with a lot of network sharing. It's going to have capabilities of ensuring our Marine on the ground - building their situational awareness as much as we can."

As Marine aviation, and the
Marine Corps at large, transforms to meet the requirements of the 21st century, the force's leaders are focusing on strengthening the partnership with the Navy, Walsh said. The Marines' current role in Iraq can draw attention away from the service's affiliation with the Navy, but that affiliation is important because it often ensures access to remote parts of the world, he explained.

Marine aviation is in an exciting time right now, when new technologies are rapidly becoming available and bringing new capabilities to the force, Walsh said. Even as the force transforms, it is staying true to its roots of supporting Marines fighting on the ground, he said.

"The technology's going to enable us to do many more things, and today's young
Marines understand technology better than anybody, and they're going to have the capability to experience that," he said.

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Justice Dept. Opens Probe Into Secret U.S. Wiretapping Program

The Justice Department's internal watchdog said Monday it has opened an investigation into the agency's use of information gathered in the government's warrantless surveillance program run by the NSA. The review comes a week after a federal judge ruled that the NSA is not required to publicly release details about its secret wiretapping program.

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U.S. F-16 Crashes Near Baghdad; Forces Capture, Kill Terrorists

U.S. Air Force F-16 engaged in support of coalition ground combat operations crashed about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad today, and coalition and Iraqi forces killed two terrorists and detained 10 in separate operations Nov. 25 and yesterday, military officials reported. The crash occurred at about 1:35 p.m. Iraq Time with one pilot on board. A board will be convened to investigate the incident, officials said. By mid-afternoon Eastern Time, officials had not released any information on the fate of the F-16 pilot.

In Ramadi, coalition forces conducted a precision strike on insurgent forces after observing three men loading weapons from a known cache site into a vehicle yesterday.

After establishing positive identification, coalition forces fired precision ordnance at the vehicle, killing two terrorists. One terrorist was seen fleeing from the scene.

Elsewhere, soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and Company D, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, detained 10 terrorist suspects and found a cache of improvised explosive device components near Taqa, a village on the banks of the Euphrates River southwest of Yusufiyah on Nov. 25.

The 10 Iraqi males were caught attempting to place roadside bombs along a route the U.S. forces were traveling. Upon questioning, the group identified a cache site. The cache contained two pressure plates, three portable phones, four six-foot bundles of wire and a 300-foot roll of copper wire.

The cache and detainees were seized as part of Operation Polar Black Diamond, a combined air assault into the former al Qaeda sanctuary about 20 miles southwest of Baghdad.

In another operation, Iraqi
army and coalition forces were dispatched to the scene of an oil pipeline fire just north of Mahmudiyah this morning and secured the area.

The Iraqi army and coalition forces are at the site and will remain there to provide security and to prevent further injury or damage, officials said. Iraqi emergency responders are working to contain the fire.

The cause of the fire is unknown and is under investigation, officials said.

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Insurance Companies to Pay Refunds to GIs for Deceptive Sales

Life insurance companies are being held accountable for their improper sales practices to military members. Four companies in the past three months have agreed to a multi-state settlement agreement after Texas Department of Insurance investigators uncovered a pattern of deception to young troops.

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Army Casualty

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

Pvt. Reece D. Moreno, 19, of Prescott, Ariz., died of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident in Balad, Iraq, on Nov. 24. Moreno was assigned to the 92 Engineer Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact the Fort Stewart Public Affairs Office at (912) 767-5457.

Army Casualty

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

Command Sgt. Maj. Donovan E. Watts, 46, of Atlanta, Ga., died Nov. 21 in Bayji, Iraq, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations in Siniyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

For further information related to this release, contact the 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Office at (910) 907-1946.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. 1st Class James D. Priestap, 39, of Harwood, Mich., died Nov. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when he came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during checkpoint operations. He was assigned to the 46th Military Police Company, Kingsford, Mich.

For further information related to this release, contact the Michigan National Guard at (517) 481-8140.

Marine Casualties

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

Lance Cpl. James R. Davenport, 20, of Danville, Ind., died Nov. 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

Pvt. Heath D. Warner, 19, of Canton, Ohio, died Nov. 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

Both Marines were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Media with questions about these Marines can call the Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8870.

Marine Casualties

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

Cpl. Nicholas P. Rapavi, 22, of Springfield, Va., died Nov. 24 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Cpl. Michael C. Ledsome, 24, of Austin, Texas, died Nov. 25 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lance Cpl. Jeromy D. West, 20, of Aguanga, Calif., died Nov. 25 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

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

Media with questions about West can call the Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8870.

WAKE UP --- Ahmadinejad Predicts Collapse of Israel, U.S., U.K.

WAKE UP America -- we need to quit fighting left and right and get behind this WAR on TERROR before it is to late. This guy is a NUT JOB and will start WW-III. Once he gets the bomb the world as we know it will be no more.

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Iraq: Enter the Saudis

The collapsing security situation in Iraq is producing a dramatic realignment of nations in the Middle East, with the United States being pushed to protect Sunnis in Iraq against Shiites by an unlikely combination of its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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Bolton: Future of Lebanon 'may well be decided' in days

"The future of the Middle East, certainly the future of Lebanon may well be decided in the next several days," U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton told BBC radio. "A successful re-emergence of democracy there is being directly challenged by the terrorist Hizbullah and those who support them, Syria, Iran and others."

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Searching for Victory in Iraq: Why the Baker-Hamilton Commission Ought to V

All Froth. Back to Basics: Winning is making the other side give up. It is accomplished by inducing stark unremitting terror in your enemy. It is not accomplished by doing good deeds, announcing how earnestly you want the war to be over, destroying buildings, getting sanctions, being more respectful, or even killing more enemy soldiers.

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Terrorists Launch Google Guide

"Because you can't spell jihad without GOOGLE. An organization calling itself 'The Jihad Media Battalion' (alt, brigade), which is linked to al Qaeda in Iraq, has produced a 26 page guide for using the Google search engine to further the goals of the global jihad."

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bush Expresses Thanksgiving Appreciation to Troops

By Donna Miles

Nov. 25, 2006 – President Bush expressed thanks in his radio address today to the troops who are risking their lives far from home this Thanksgiving holiday to protect the rights the Pilgrims celebrated that first Thanksgiving Day. The desire for freedom that drove the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, Mass., still guides the United States today, the president said. "Americans believe that every person has the right to live, work and worship in freedom," he said. "And we're thankful to the men and women of our nation's
armed forces who risk their lives to protect those rights."

The American people know that "many of our finest citizens are spending the holiday far from their homes and loved ones," the president said. "And we know that their service makes it possible for us to live in freedom."

Bush said his visit to Hickam
Air Force Base, Hawaii, earlier this week reinforced his deep appreciation of the contributions U.S. troops and their families make every day.

"Our servicemembers there have deployed around the world -- to fight the
terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, conduct important maritime exercises in the Pacific, help deliver humanitarian aid to the victims of disaster and fight drug trafficking," he said. "I told the men and women at the base that we're grateful for their bravery and service and that we will never forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."

The president paid special recognition to
Marine Corps Cpl. Jason Dunham, who died in Iraq two-and-a-half years ago in Iraq, when he threw himself on top of an enemy grenade and absorbed the blast. "His selfless act saved the lives of two of his fellow Marines, and earlier this month I announced that our nation will recognize Corporal Dunham with our highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor," he said.

"Corporal Dunham's friends remember him as the kind of guy who would do anything for you, his superiors remember him as a model
Marine and a grateful nation will forever remember him as one of America's most valiant heroes," Bush said. "This Thanksgiving, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with all military families, especially those mourning the loss of a loved one."

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Criminal Justice Online, Coast Guard Gifts and Police Officer turned law enforcement writer.