Thursday, January 31, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- January 30, 2008

Georgia lab workers exposed to bioterror agent
“Hundreds of laboratory workers across the country — including 57 in
Georgia — were potentially exposed to a weakened bioterrorism agent when samples were mishandled as part of a voluntary readiness test, state and federal health officials said. At 16 of Georgia's 27 clinical labs participating in the test, workers failed to follow proper handling procedures and were potentially exposed to a vaccine strain of Brucella abortus RB51. Brucella bacteria, which are classified as a bioterrorism agent, primarily infect animals, but also can sicken people. […] Officials at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating, said that while such tests are important, the widespread handling problems illustrate the need for hospital and other private labs to establish and follow safety procedures when working with suspected bioterrorism agents.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 30Jan08, Alison Young)

New Decontamination System Kills Anthrax Rapidly
“[…] Researchers at the
Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in collaboration with Austin-based Stellar Micro Devices, Inc. (SMD) have developed prototypes of a rapid, non-disruptive and less expensive method that could be used to decontaminate bioterrorism hazards in the future. Using flat panel modules that produce X-rays and ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light simultaneously, the researchers can kill anthrax spores in two to three hours without any lingering effects. The system also has the ability to kill anthrax spores hidden in places like computer keyboards without causing damage.” (Georgia Tech Research Institute, 29Jan08, Abby Vogel)

Questions arise over UW [University of
Wisconsin]-Madison germs research “Ebola virus. Bird flu. Botulinum toxin. The monkey version of AIDS.
Bacteria that cause tuberculosis, a lung infection, and listeriosis, a food-borne disease. UW-Madison scientists, like those at most major universities, study dozens of dangerous germs. A biosafety office and a faculty committee review the research to make sure it is safe, but discrepancies can lead some to question the oversight. Critics cried foul after the National Institutes of Health said some of Yoshihiro Kawaoka's Ebola research must be done in a lab with the highest biosafety standards, overruling the campus committee's approval of a lower-level lab. Now Kawaoka is carrying out different Ebola work in a lab with an even lower classification, and the university hasn't consulted the NIH. […] The issue of biosafety oversight came up last week, when Kawaoka reported that he had removed a gene from the deadly Ebola virus to create a version he and others say is safe to use in most labs.” (Wisconsin State Journal, 29Jan08, David Wahlberg)

New Livermore [California] facility to detect West Nile, anthrax

“A newly constructed laboratory equipped to handle deadly airborne pathogens such as anthrax [bacteria], bird flu [viruses] and West Nile virus began operating Friday at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The new Biosafety Level 3 lab allows scientists to test detection devices being developed at the lab against the pathogens they are designed to detect. Previously, testing had to be done elsewhere, or with less dangerous strains of the microorganisms. The DOE released its final environmental impact assessment for the Biosafety Level 3 lab Monday, which found there was no significant impact.” (, 29Jan08, Betsy Mason)

EU defends controversial Baltic gas pipeline
“EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs has defended controversial plans to build a gas pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea, connecting Russia and Germany, amid growing environmental concerns over the project. […] The commissioner was speaking at a public hearing organised by the European Parliament in response to concerns over the pipeline's impact on the Baltic Sea. According to Krzysztof Maczkowski, a Polish national and a petitioner campaigning for a land alternative, the proposed natural gas pipeline could disturb WWII chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic Sea and endanger public health as well as flora and fauna in all coastal states in the region.” (EU Observer, 30Jan08, Renata Goldirova)

[Blue Grass
Army] Depot stockpile passes inspection
“The Blue Grass
Army Depot chemical weapon stockpile successfully passed its annual inspection last week that was administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) headquartered in The Netherlands. The inspectors came from several different countries, including South Korea, and conducted an inspection of all chemical weapons stored and monitored by the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, which is a separate entity located inside the depot to ensure the proper storage, maintenance and disposal qualifications are being met. The inspection is conducted to make sure that those working for Blue Grass Chemical Activity are meeting requirements set by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).”
(Richmond Register, 29Jan08, Ronica Shannon)

NNSA [National Nuclear
Security Administration] Provides Aerial Radiation Detection Training to Chicago Police Department
“The federal government's experts in detecting radiation are partnering with Chicago's police department in a pilot effort to train local law enforcement officers to use advanced detection methods. The aerial radiation detection training will be provided by the United States Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) this week. […] In conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), NNSA will train the police aviation unit on radiation detection. The course is designed to prepare law enforcement officers to conduct a radiological surveillance mission using a radiation detection system mounted on a helicopter. This system detects gamma radiation and will help locate a potential dirty bomb or other radiological source. This training is a part of a joint NNSA/DNDO pilot project that could later be expanded to cover additional cities.”
(NNSA, 29Jan08)

Assessing the
dirty bomb threat
“Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has placed Romania on a list of countries named as likely sources of ‘
dirty bomb’ material for terrorists. But Romanian officials tell ISN Security Watch that terrorists are unlikely to get their hands on nuclear material here, and point to other, much deadlier, threats. In an interview with the Arab daily al Hayat on 10 January, ElBaradei stated that ‘many’ of some 100 nuclear material trafficking incidents (no time frame was mentioned) had involved Romania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Those incidents, the IAEA chief said, concerned only the smuggling of materials limited in capacity and power. While admitting that terrorist groups might find it almost impossible to acquire an actual nuclear bomb, ElBaradei speculated that they could obtain nuclear material for tainting conventional explosives to build ‘dirty bombs.’” (ISN, 30Jan08, Anca Paduraru)

Agawam [
Massachusetts] man charged with toxin threat on courthouse
“An Agawam man who was being held on a federal firearms charge allegedly mailed letters to the prosecutor and a newspaper threatening to attack a federal building in Springfield with a weapon of mass destruction, according to a nine-count indictment unsealed this week. Federal authorities investigated the threats that Michael A. Crooker made while in custody in July 2004 and found a quantity of the toxin ricin, which had been processed for use as a biological weapon, the indictment said. They also found castor beans and rosary peas, the plants from which ricin and the toxin abrin are extracted, respectively.” (The Boston Globe, 30Jan08, Jonathan Saltzman)

Logan [International Airport] looks for new ways to catch
“After terrorists hijacked two planes out of Logan International Airport and crashed them into New York’s World Trade Center in 2001, well-meaning and entrepreneurial vendors and inventors started coming forward with products and ideas to improve airport and port security. Some of the ideas initially proposed just didn’t work. So, with no vetting process in place, in 2002 the Massachusetts Port Authority formed the Center of Excellence to test and evaluate them. A wealth of potential technological advances was at play, and MassPort could offer an airport, cargo container terminal and its own experience to put ideas to the test. […] Massport […] is planning a pilot program with the Coast Guard to deploy what’s known as a passive Fourier transform infrared spectrometer. Its developer claims the instrument can detect chemical weapons and […] biohazards based on their molecular structure. The Coast Guard would use it to check cargo containers headed into the port of Boston.” (Boston Herald, 30Jan08, Donna

Work on chemical sensor wins honor
“A sensor developed by a University of Maine professor to detect the presence of dangerous chemical and biological agents has been chosen as one of the National Science Foundation [NSF]’s notable achievements for 2008. John Vetelino, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who joined the UMaine faculty in 1969, is regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of sensor
technology. […] About four years ago, NSF funding allowed him and his research team to focus on development of a sensing element for certain chemical and biological agents that pose a serious health threat in high concentrations.”
(, 29Jan08, Portland Press Herald)

Feds in dark on Ottawa's emergency response plans
“The federal government needs to come up with money and some direct agreements with the City of Ottawa to ensure emergency preparedness in its own back yard, the Senate committee on national security and defence was told yesterday. Four of Ottawa's key emergency managers appearing before the committee yesterday said the relationship between the federal government and Ottawa officials is not defined and the ground rules are not set, which could spell trouble in a serious emergency. If there were to be a biological or chemical
dirty bomb attack on Ottawa, the federal government might expect that MPs and senators would get preferred first treatment by Ottawa's emergency staff, but there's no such agreement, said John Ash, manager of Ottawa's emergency management office.” (National Post, 29Jan08, Patrick Dare)

Police ready to face eventual chemical threat during APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum]
“Peru’s National
Police (PNP) is ready to face an eventual terrorist threat with chemical and biological weapons during the Leaders Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum to be held in Peru in November, said today the head of APEC General Command Ricardo Benavides Rodríguez. This morning the Government presented the first brigade to face emergencies of mass destruction weapons, internationally known as NBC (Nuclear, biological and chemical), which operates in Peru.” (Andina,

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

CNS presents these keywords and links for the convenience of the recipients of ChemBio-WMD
Terrorism News, but CNS does not endorse these sites or the veracity of their information and cannot be responsible for the maintenance of the links listed here. For a searchable archive of the CBR-WMD Terrorism News listserv, please visit the Nuclear Threat Initiative's website, at

Improved Iraq Security Allows More Capacity Building

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 30, 2008 - As the
security situation has improved in the southern belts of Baghdad, coalition officials find themselves more involved with building local governance capacity and creating jobs. Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division Center, said that when his unit arrived in March, there were 25 attacks a day on coalition and Iraqi troops. Now that number has dropped to an average of three a day. This has allowed him to spend more time working with local tribal and city leaders in building their governance capabilities.

"As a division commander, I spend roughly 30 percent of my day on combat operations – the kinetic side – and 70 percent on capacity building," Lynch said during a phone interview with
military analysts today.

This does not mean that combat operations are ignored. The southern belts were particularly deadly areas for American troops before the division arrived. And while Multinational Division Center has made progress, there are still areas of concern.

The division recently launched Operation Marne Thunderbolt in the southern portion of Arab Jabour. The enemy has had roughly three years to plant improvised explosive devices and to rig houses with explosives in that area, and the division took those forces on.

On Jan. 10, the division called on the U.S.
Air Force to help with shaping operations – Air Force jets dropped about 40,000 pounds of munitions in about 10 minutes on 37 targets, Lynch said. "Of those, about half had significant secondary explosions that led us to believe there was an IED or cache there," he said.

On Jan. 22, the division launched major operations with ground forces. As the forces attacked, 40 Iraqi concerned local citizens came out and led the combat forces into the area to show them where the IEDs were, Lynch said.

The general attributed the division's success to the presence of surge forces, which gave him the combat power needed to clear and hold areas. He also pointed to the change in tactics, techniques and procedures. There are 20,000 U.S. forces in the division, and 75 percent of them live with the Iraqi population on 53 patrol bases.

The bases give local citizens a sense of
security, and that presence gives them the courage needed to turn against the enemy. About 32,000 concerned local citizens are in the division's area. They man about 1,500 checkpoints in the area and have turned in 600 IEDs and 500 arms caches, Lynch said. "They have also turned over a number of high-value targets," he said.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Airmen Help Wounded Troops Survive Journey Home

By Tech. Sgt. D. Clare, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2008 - The
Air Force Theater Hospital's 98 percent survivability rate for injured U.S. servicemembers would be meaningless if the wounded were unable to survive their journey out of the combat zone. Four years into the war, the process of saving lives and safely transporting critically injured and ill troops out of Iraq has become one of the greatest military feats in modern history, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Beverly Johnson, chief nurse for the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility here.

The CASF is a minor conglomerate of different functions. It's at once a ward for the sick and injured and a recreation center for those who are able enough. It's a passenger terminal where travelers get bandages changed and customs agents come to the bedridden.

Patients are pre-assessed, assessed, and reassessed. Lessons have been learned and are applied. How will altitude affect cranial swelling for a traumatic brain injury victim? Will an arm in a cast swell in mid-flight? Burn patients must stay warm, current prescriptions must be filled, and care providers must anticipate every possible scenario before the patient goes by bus to the plane. Launch nurses pass on reports; other nurses pick the most critical patients up from the hospital's intensive care unit.

"By the time most patients get here, they might have some pain, but they're pretty happy," said
Air Force Staff Sgt. Joan Sanchez, lead technician for the litter side of the CASF ward. "For many soldiers, this is as nice a facility as they have ever seen in Iraq."

Sanchez and other CASF team members act as care providers, terminal agents and hospital logisticians. The team also has mental health professionals who monitor traumatic brain injury victims and support patients suffering from post-traumatic stress.

On the ground, the team organizes its passenger load based on the configuration of outbound cargo aircraft. A C-17 Globemaster III transport jet has to be reconfigured to become a flying hospital.

In addition to hosting the most comprehensive medical facility in Iraq, the
Air Force Theater Hospital's CASF here acts as the hub for wounded troops being flown out of the country. If servicemembers from anywhere in Iraq require aeromedical evacuation from the theater, they will pass through the Air Force Theater Hospital and the hands of CASF team members en route to follow-on care, said Air Force Lt. Col. Rene Bloomer, Air Expeditionary Force CASF chief nurse.

The 60-member CASF team represents more than a half dozen specialties and facilitates one of the hospital's top priorities -- clearing beds.

"Our No. 1 goal is to get them here, quickly assess and stabilize them, and get them on an airplane," Johnson said.

Success at the hospital depends on a constant cycle. Staff members must always be ready to save new trauma victims and have enough empty beds for the next casualties.

Beyond the logistical achievement of maintaining constant airflow from Balad to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and to bases outside the combat zone, the aeromedical evacuation process has evolved and improved, said Johnson, a 15-year CASF veteran.

Aeromedical evacuation has been a
military asset since World War II, she said, though at first on a limited scale and with equally limited capabilities. The Korean and Vietnam wars saw increasing use of air power in medical evacuations. Neither those wars, nor the limited casualties in Desert Storm, however, truly tested the system, she said.

But the simultaneous bombing of three U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998 and the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in a Yemeni harbor in October 2000 showed the modern capabilities of critical care teams and aeromedical evacuations. Johnson recalled when the system was being tested In the 1990s.

"The European Command called saying, 'What would happen if we had to move 1,000 casualties in a day?' I said, 'We can't. We don't have enough aircrews to support that kind of movement.' They've really built up the system, and it's been seamless since I've been here. It's really been revolutionary for the
Air Force. It's always been a good system, but we've really put it to the test in this war, and it has performed phenomenally."

On the flight line, seriously wounded and ill patients are transferred to the Critical Care Air Transport Team -- specially trained flight medics, nurses and physicians who set up and staff the trauma ward in the sky.

On a busy day, 50 patients will head out to Germany. On a slow day, 10 or 12 patients might be outbound. Rarely is there a day without an aeromedical evacuation. Johnson said 600 to 700 patients move out from Balad every month now, a 20 percent decrease from what teams experienced during past rotations.

Aeromedical evacuation teams in general and CASFs in particular are not common in stateside
military medical facilities. Airmen like Staff Sgt. Jessica Reese, a CASF medical technician, said the opportunity for additional training before her deployment and the ability to work outside her normal clinical experience make the facility a rewarding place to work.

A dermatology technician at home, she said she knows she's making a difference in Iraq.

"I'm so proud of what I do. I feel good to be taking care of these troops who have made such tremendous sacrifices. It's an honor to be here for them, to take care of them and to send them home safe," Reese said. Her favorite part of the job comes after litters are loaded on the flightline.

"For the guys who can walk, we line up in two rows and applaud them as they walk onto the plane. I love that. It's our way of saying, 'We support you, and you get to go home now,'" she said.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. D. Clare serves in public affairs with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.)

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died from wounds suffered when their unit encountered an improvised explosive device during convoy operations Jan. 28 in Mosul, Iraq. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Killed were:

Sgt. James E. Craig, 26, of Hollywood, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Gary W. Jeffries, 37, of Roscoe, Texas.

Spc. Evan A. Marshall, 21, of Athens, Ga.

Pfc. Brandon A. Meyer, 20, of Orange, Calif.

Pvt. Joshua A. R. Young, 21, of Riddle, Ore.

For more information media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-4143; after hours (719) 526-5500.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Coalition Forces in Iraq Capture 18 Suspected Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2008 - Coalition forces in Iraq today detained 18 suspected
terrorists during operations to disrupt al Qaeda networks operating in the central and northern parts of the country, military officials said.

-- North of Samarra, coalition forces captured an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq agent linked to supplying improvised explosive devices and weapons to
terrorists operating in the region. Reports indicate the detainee has ties to senior al Qaeda leaders. Four other suspects also were detained.

-- Coalition forces north of Baqouba detained six more
terrorism suspects.

-- In Tarmiyah, coalition forces detained two suspects. Southwest of Baghdad, a suspected
terrorist was detained during an operation targeting an alleged IED cell leader in Karkh.

-- Further north in Sharqat, coalition forces detained four more suspects linked to al Qaeda in Iraq operations.

"Each capture is another step forward on the path to an Iraq free from al Qaeda's violence," said
Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "While al Qaeda is still capable of brutal and spectacular attacks, we are working to dismantle their networks and keep them off balance."

Yesterday, a major local roadway was re-opened for civilian use during a ceremony held in the Shifta district in Baqouba.

Kharesan Street, a main roadway linking northern and southern Baqouba, had been closed due to
terrorist attacks, including IEDs and small-arms fire. The road was reopened after Iraqi and coalition forces cleared the area.

"We celebrate this day by opening this road," Diyala
Police Chief Gen. Ghanem Al Kurashi said during a news conference. "We thank the people for cooperating with the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army."

Re-opening the road "helps the people get to the markets and will help the city become stable," said Baqouba Mayor Ahmed Hameed. "We are especially thankful for the Iraqi
security forces' assistance."

In other news, U.S. soldiers found two weapons caches in Baghdad's Rashid district Jan. 26.

The first cache contained a 105 mm artillery round, 15 blasting caps, three grenade fuses, two cans of 7.62 mm rifle ammunition and a magazine of 9 mm cartridges.

The second cache contained 24 mortar initiators, three rocket-propelled grenades, four sticks of plastic explosives, seven blasting caps, a detonator, 300 feet of copper wire, two rocket fins, 8 feet of detonation cord and 10 machine-gun rounds. The confiscated ordnance was destroyed.

Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers with Troop B, 1st Cavalry Regiment, found a large weapons cache near the home of a recently captured suspect in Narhwan, Iraq, Jan. 25.

The detainee was captured Jan. 23, and he is linked to a
terrorist weapons-smuggling operation that passed through Narhwan. He also was connected to attacks on coalition forces and local citizens, Army Capt. Jared Albright, Troop B commander, said. "He has also bragged about having a sniper rifle and threatened local citizens with it," the captain added.

The cache was found buried behind the home of the arrested suspect. It included eight rocket-propelled grenades, 30 RPG expellant charges, three RPG launchers, a tactical vest, three AK-47 magazines, 5,200 rounds of small-arms ammunition and one machine gun.

"Getting these weapons out of insurgents' hands and off the street has been a huge relief to the local community. Many have said they feel safer now that he is behind bars," Albright said.

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

Groups Work to Kindle Commerce at New Baghdad Market

By Elaine Eliah
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 29, 2008 - To many Americans, convenient shopping means easy, safe parking at clean, wholesome supermarkets. In Iraq, where shoppers often risk their lives buying groceries and vendors watch produce rot for lack of electricity or transport, marketing has different requirements. The New Baghdad Market, also known as 9 Nissan, soon will be able to meet these special needs.

The "Baghdad 2" embedded provincial reconstruction team and the 3rd Infantry Division's 2-69th Armor Battalion have been working with the Baghdad Provincial Council, local district and neighborhood councils and the U.S. Agency for International Development's "Inma" agribusiness program to rekindle plans for a modern community-based retail food market. Inma is an Arabic word that means "growth."

The high-profile New Baghdad Market is perfectly located beside a highway, adjacent to bus transport and surrounded by a large residential community. It was designed for secure shopping, sanitary food handling and safe food storage. Built with USAID funding in 2004, the market remained unoccupied as violence and ethnic tension drove many residents away.

police continuously ran squatters out of the stalls, and coalition forces often found weapons caches there. As stability took hold and local residents returned to their neighborhood, hundreds of vendors commandeered nearby streets, building makeshift stalls from scrap wood and plastic sheeting to sell vegetables, chicken and meat.

"The area developed so fast economically that it attracted people even from outside the area," said
Army Capt. Alexis Perez-Cruz, who has worked for 10 months with Iraqi police and soldiers in the area of the market. "Neighborhood council meetings have now shifted focus from security to economic issues."

Looking at the unoccupied New Baghdad Market, the council saw economic opportunity ready to be developed. The Iraqi
police saw a way to clear a major thoroughfare, and coalition forces saw an opportunity to work with the Iraqi government to improve a community and the lives of its residents.

Late last year, 2-69th Armor and the Baghdad 2 team asked Inma to help make the market viable. Inma's value chain strategy for improving Iraq's private sector agribusiness recognizes that increasing the supply of farm produce without enabling markets to accommodate the demand cannot lead to sustainable development.

"A clean, safe market offers Iraqi shoppers one small semblance of normalcy in their lives," said Inma Chief of Party Herschel Weeks. "The facility will ultimately impact farmers by becoming an introductory step toward modern marketing and packaging."

When Inma engineers visited the New Baghdad Market, they found street lighting in place, but no electricity; sewers and toilets were in need of cleaning and repair, but had no running water. Strengthening Iraq's agribusiness value chain requires water and electricity for cleaning, packing and refrigerating produce to prolong its shelf life.

Soldiers from 2-69th Armor designed the
security for the market, including T-wall concrete barriers, "drop-arm" vehicle entry gates and pedestrian checkpoints. Their noncommissioned officer for projects, Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Rogers, has been instrumental in bringing together the many stakeholders. The battalion will coordinate crews for clearing parking lots and cleaning the sewer system.

Representatives of the Iraqi government and local councils documented land ownership at New Baghdad Market and will secure an agreement that allows market vendors to hold official leases for their stalls.

USAID contractors will complete display stands and install roller shutters on the stalls. They also will manage construction repairs and upgrades, including electrical and plumbing installation, flooring, roofing, doors and shutters for market booths.

Taking the lead on market completion, Inma will install the
security elements and will provide generators and cold storage units. Inma helped the 9 Nissan Market Agricultural Association, which will manage the facility, legally register as a nongovernmental organization and will train association members in facility operations and food safety management.

Opening New Baghdad Market will ease traffic congestion by ending street-selling. Many vendors say they prefer renting one of the 730 new stalls to improve their safety and comfort. New tenants will be prime candidates for micro loans and grants, funds that could help them purchase coolers and other store fixtures.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for stability," said Capt. Joseph Peppers, 2-69th Armor effects coordinator. "These stalls mean steady jobs – a chance to have a regular business."

Community buy-in is vital not only for market viability, but also to make New Baghdad Market a respected, protected, permanent fixture in the neighborhood and to further increase the number of people who benefit from its operations.

"This will be the best market, and everyone will want to say they're in the best place," Peppers said. "It's going to act as a model market – a mini mall."

While each of the stalls will provide sales employment for tenant vendors, the market itself will generate hundreds of other job opportunities for transporters, cleaners and other service providers. A higher standard of cleanliness and safer, more secure facilities will enable restaurants and cafes to grow up around it – many of which will employ women.

"If you walk through New Baghdad Market, it doesn't exactly match its name," said Neighborhood Council Chairman Haitham Ali, while touring the current vending area. "We are working together to make New Baghdad, really New Baghdad."

Rebuilding the New Baghdad Market demonstrates the U.S. government's three-track strategy –
security, coupled with economic and political stability – through the cooperation of the U.S. military, USAID and Department of State and through collaboration with their Iraqi counterparts in government, police, nongovernment organizations and the private sector.

"New Baghdad Market also shows the Iraqi people that this market, started by Americans, was finished by Americans – with the help of their Iraqi colleagues," Weeks said.

(Elaine Eliah, Inma Public Relations/Communications Manager, has worked in Iraq for over three years.)

Security Promotes Sunni-Shiite Reconciliation

By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 -
Security improvements have spurred reconciliation in the Madain Qada region along the Diyala and Tigris rivers in Iraq, an area that had been plagued by brutal sectarian violence, a U.S. commander there said. "We have made amazing progress along all lines of operation, but it is security that opened all the doors to allow us to get (reconciliation) going," Army Col. Wayne Grigsby, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, said during a teleconference with online journalists and "bloggers" Jan. 25.

Grigsby said his unit has conducted 166 named operations in Madain Qada province -- an area about the size of
Rhode Island with a population of 1.2 million -- since April.

"These operations to date have resulted in about 149 extremists killed, 500 extremists captured, and 36 of those (captured) were high-value individuals," he said. The unit also cleared over 3,300 buildings, found 78 weapons caches and 151 improvised explosive devices through operations in Madain Qada, he said.

As a result, extremist violence against civilians in the region has decreased significantly. The murder rate has dropped from an average of 53 murders per month in 2006 to an average of nine a month over the past few months, Grigsby estimated. And there were only two kidnappings in December, compared to a peak of 22 in May, he said.

"When we arrived here, many people had fled the area," he said. "Now, we see more and more families coming back to live here."

With violence down, concerned local citizens groups are standing up to help coalition and Iraqi
police forces maintain security by manning checkpoints to prevent extremists from returning, Grigsby said. "In our area, the concerned local citizens took root in Arafiyah in August," he said.

The concerned local citizen groups are setting the grounds for reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite sects in Madain Qada. "We have ... about 5,800 concerned local citizens -- 50-50 split on Shiia and Sunni -- and some of these concerned local citizens groups are both Shiia and Sunni," Grigsby explained. "It's forcing the Sunnis and the Shiia to work together."

In addition to the sects working together within the concerned local citizen groups, he said, there is still cooperation with the mostly Shiite Iraqi
police force in Madain Qada in areas where these groups are mostly Sunni.

For example, Grigsby recalled, a sheikh's son was killed deterring an al Qaeda suicide bomber's attempted attack on a mostly Sunni concerned local citizens group meeting in August. "Within hours, they were working with the predominately Shiia national
police, who arrested the (al Qaeda in Iraq) cell that was responsible."

He said the reconciliation between the two sects is working because of an attitude shift among people in Madain Qada.

"So what we're seeing right now is, it doesn't make a difference what team you're on. If you are threatening any people in the Madain Qada, we don't like you," he said. "The people are standing up and saying, 'We don't want the violence any more.'"

The citizens' front against
violence also is deterring extremism organically, Grigsby said, because extremists count on being able to hide behind the people.

"The concerned local citizens now stood up and said, 'Stop, you can't hide behind me any more,'" he said. "So (the extremists) have to leave the area and go find another place where they don't have all the

(Kristen Noel works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)

Center Blazes Trail in Afghanistan Emergency Services

By Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Caldwell, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - The Joint Provincial Coordination Center in Jalalabad is serving as a model in eastern Afghanistan for synchronizing the efforts of the U.S. forces, Afghan National
Police, Afghan Border Police, Afghan National Army, and emergency fire and medical services. Exchanging information and discussing what they can do to better serve the citizens of the province, provincial law enforcement representatives and Task Force Raptor soldiers meet weekly at the coordination center. While the center's successes are numerous, the highest-profile program thus far has been the implementation of an emergency phone number based on the U.S. 911 system. Dialing 100 in Jalalabad provides quick access to emergency responders 24 hours a day.

"They dial three numbers, and they can talk to the (Afghan National
Police)," said Army 1st Lt. Jeff Reed, officer in charge of the Joint Provincial Coordination Center, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Special Troops Battalion.

"If they need to talk to anybody, if there is anything going on, from this center they can dispatch
fire trucks, ambulances, police patrols, or they can just ask questions," Reed said.

The JPCC averages 25 to 50 calls on the 100 number on a normal day. Some days, that number surpasses 100 calls. For now, the majority of the calls are to check whether the number actually works. It does.

Afghan National
Police respond to the 10 percent of calls that provide actionable information.

The program is another step forward in Afghanistan's progress,
Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Milhorn, 173rd Special Troops Battalion and Task Force Raptor commander, said.

"Generally, the people are now securing themselves," Milhorn said. "They now have a communications network established that they can tie back to the JPCC immediately and get a relatively rapid response."

As with any new program, obstacles had to be overcome, said
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Roth, JPCC noncommissioned officer in charge, assigned to HHC, 173rd STB.

"The initial problems were dealing with the different phone carriers," he said. "Now they have lines for everybody, regardless of whatever phone carrier the people are using. They can call in and make contact."

Afghan National
Police Maj. Abdul Gadim said that although crank calls to the toll-free number have been an annoyance in the early going, he's impressed with the success of the program.

"It's fantastic," he said. "It's great. If there's a problem, we can jump on it and help the people."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Caldwell serves in public affairs with 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.)

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Mikeal W. Miller, 22, of Albany, Ore., died Jan. 27 at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., of wounds suffered in Baghdad, Iraq on July 9, 2007, when the vehicle he was in encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For more information media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-4143; after hours (719) 526-5500.

Iraqi Security Forces Gain in Capability, Professionalism

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - Iraqi
security forces increasingly demonstrate their professionalism and willingness to step up to protect the Iraqi people, a spokesman for Multinational Corps Iraq told reporters yesterday. During a briefing in Baghdad, Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith pointed to numerous signs of progress in training and equipping the Iraqi army and police forces and the greater role these forces now play in Iraq's security.

"We continue to see examples of the increasingly professionalized Iraqi
security forces stepping up to protect their people," he said.

Smith noted the gains being made by soldiers,
police officers and groups such as "The Awakening" and concerned local citizens. For example, last week in Karmah, an Iraqi army unit discovered two critical stockpiles that together included more than 2,500 pounds of homemade explosives.

"The Iraqi
army, being on the ground and among its people, saved an unknown number of lives with this find," Smith said.

In a similar incident, Iraqi soldiers operating northeast of Ramadi responded to a tip from a local citizen and recovered a stockpile of plastic explosives, rocket and mortar rounds, detonating cords and ammunition.

"These finds happen every day, and ... in every corner of Iraq," Smith said. "As Operation Phantom Phoenix continues, we are seeing Iraq's commitment to its
security forces produce real results."

Meanwhile, Iraqi
security forces continue to grow and increase in capability, Smith said.

More than 1,800 new
police officers recently graduated from the National Police Training Center in Numaniyah, Smith noted. The officers received individualized, specialized instruction and education, with some focusing on anti-terrorism operations and others in investigations.

"These officers will enrich and expand the capabilities of their nation's security forces," Smith said. "All of these officers have pledged their loyalty to the united, democratic Iraq. They have expressed their commitment to all the people of Iraq. And they have bravely chosen to stand with those who want a better tomorrow instead of violence and anarchy offered by Iraq's enemies."

In addition, more than 2,000 newly trained
police officers have graduated from the Habbaniyah Police Training Center in Anbar province since it opened in June, Smith said. That school offers three specialized schools: one in convoy operations and street survivability, another train-the-trainer school designed to equip the Iraqi police to educate and lead on their own, and an officers' transition integration program.

"These capabilities matter and are having positive effects in the lines of Iraqi citizens," Smith said.

Iraq's enemies are responding to this new capability with ever-more-desperate attacks, he said. He pointed to two incidents last week in Mosul and Tikrit, in which 15-year-olds were exploited to carry out murder-suicides.

"Children are not only humanity's future, they are the most innocent and vulnerable among us," Smith said. "We have a trust to care for them, to raise them up as good citizens. Al Qaeda is instead trying to brainwash children ... with hate and death. We see a stark contrast between those who are building a strong, secure and peaceful society and those who seek to create a culture of violence, hate and despair."

Afghan Police Trainer Cites Steady Progress

By Seaman William Selby, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - Coalition forces are making slow but steady progress training the Afghan
police force, a top leader in the effort said Jan. 25. Army Col. Edward Kornish, commander of Regional Police Advisory Command, is training police in western Afghanistan, a high-risk area.

In a conference call with online journalists and "bloggers," he credited a variety of new strategic programs and new tactics with bringing progress about.

One such strategy, checkpoint consolidation, is being adopted countrywide, he said.

"We have worked with the Afghans and convinced them that they can have better security and better survivability of their
police by consolidating checkpoints and building police stations, which in turn provides more security for the citizens," Kornish explained. "The citizens in the area (in which) we initiated that program have been very positive with their feedback on the success of the program."

While coalition efforts have made progress, officials still face a variety of challenges with the
police -- most notably, corruption. But Afghan officials are trying to weed out corrupt police officers and leaders, the colonel noted. "They've eliminated some of the corrupt leaders and replaced them with more honest, more capable leaders," he said.

Another challenge is reforming the pay for the
police. Until recently, the police were being paid less than the Afghan army, and they typically face more danger than the army, Kornish said. The coalition has reformed that by working with the Afghan government to raise police salaries, he said.

Kornish also said new coalition training programs begun in December allow leaders to train as a group and the
police to train as units in highlighting progress.

"In summary, I would say that although it's challenging, it's also rewarding, and that we've seen good, steady progress the whole time we've been here," he said. "And we think we're making a difference for the people of Afghanistan. They much prefer our company to the Taliban's."

(Navy Seaman William Selby works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)

Air Force General Lauds Joint 'Marne Thunderbolt' Success

By Staff Sgt. Amanda Callahan, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - A top
Air Force officer here praised the joint-service effort that has made Operation Marne Thunderbolt successful. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and B-1B Lancer crews, Navy F/A-18 Hornet pilots, Army 3rd Infantry Division soldiers and Iraqi forces integrated with Army intelligence to shape the battlefield to protect ground soldiers in southern Iraq, Air Force Maj. Gen. David M. Edgington, director of Multinational Force Iraq's Air Component Coordination Element, told reporters here yesterday.

He described how the
Air Force uses intelligence in operations to shape the battlefield for an Army advantage, recounting one mission in which Air Force B-1B Lancers and F-16 Fighting Falcons disposed of improvised explosive devices, which were a significant threat to ground forces.

Air Force provides air components to synchronize with joint-force commanders," Edgington said. "We develop target sets to figure out what targets we're able to strike that will make the battle space safer for ground troops who follow."

The general explained that, with today's technology, much consideration is given to the types of munitions used on specific targets, as well as ways to reduce or eliminate collateral damage.

Technology has advanced to where we can now drop bombs with great precision," he said.

Targets included houses booby-trapped with explosives and deeply buried improvised explosive devices.

"We hit the targets (the
Army) asked us to hit to make it more safe for them to achieve their mission," Edgington said. "By taking out IEDs with air strikes, we're saving the lives of soldiers on the ground."

The emphasis on precision strikes and a focus on reducing civilian casualties also has helped battlefield commanders gain ground with local populations, the general said.

"Concerned local citizens have stepped up because they are tired of the violence and want to secure their areas," he said. "They want to be legitimate members of society, and they want their children to go out and play soccer without fear."

At the same meeting with reporters,
Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of 3rd Infantry Division and Multinational Division Center, emphasized the joint nature of modern combat.

"It is a joint battlefield," he said, outlining the coalition's three main goals of blocking accelerants of violence into Baghdad, securing the population, and defeating sectarian violence.

"We turned to our brothers in the
U.S. Air Force," he said, for help with intelligence gathering and target mapping using intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets such as the unmanned MQ-1A Predator.

Both generals said operational success depends on the ability of warfighters to team up in the joint environment.

"At the captain level, at the master sergeant level, it is inspiring to see how the services work together to get the mission done," Edgington said.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Callahan serves in public affairs with 447th Air Expeditionary Group.)

Army Casualty

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

Maj. Alan G. Rogers, 40, of Hampton, Fla., died Jan. 27 of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was conducting a dismounted patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

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

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- January 28, 2008

Construction on new labs at [Fort] Detrick 60 percent complete
“The new Department of
Homeland Security biodefense center at Fort Detrick should be open by the end of this year, but it’ll likely be the end of 2009 before the labs are in service. The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center is one of several labs planned or being built for the National Interagency Biodefense Campus. Construction on the $143 million project is on schedule at 60 percent complete […].” (Frederick News-Post, 26Jan08, Justin M. Palk)

Anthrax Cellular Entry Point Uncovered
“The long-sought-after biological ‘gateway’ that anthrax uses to enter healthy cells has been uncovered by microbiologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Anthrax spores enter the cell through something called Mac-1, a receptor that sits on the surface of certain cells. This is the first study to uncover exactly how the bacteria get inside cells to begin with, the UAB researchers said. Previous studies have shown what happens after anthrax spores enter the body and wreak havoc.” (Science Daily, 25Jan08)

Prosecutor general: Chemical victims complaints should be followed up
“The [Iranian] prosecutor general in a meeting with Foreign Ministry representatives underlined the need to legally follow up the complaints lodged by chemical victims of Iraq-Iran war with international tribunals. Ayatollah Qorban ali Dorri Najafabadi told Foreign Ministry officials here that Iran's powerful presence in international tribunals and utilization of existing potentials to defend Iranians' rights was necessary. He added, ‘All those involved in producing chemical weapons in any forms must be prosecuted through authorized international circles according to international legal system.’” (IRNA, 25Jan08)

Pakistan nuclear sites on alert
“Pakistan has raised the state of alert around its nuclear facilities amid concerns they could be targeted by Islamist militants. But a senior Pakistan
military official said there had been no specific threat to the sites, and insisted that safeguards in place were fool proof. The official was speaking in a rare press briefing on the issue. It followed Western media reports warning that Pakistan's nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands. The Pakistani authorities have been angered by Western media reports speculating that the country's nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda militants. [The official] acknowledged that Islamic militants had begun to attack army personnel in recent months, and that nuclear sites may also become a target.” (BBC News, 26Jan08, Barbara Plett)

Nurses Are Life Lines in a Public Health Disaster
“When an outbreak of West Nile virus hit
Colorado in 2003, many worried state residents picked up their phones and called a new public health crisis hotline created only months earlier through the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. The Health Emergency Line for the Public (HELP) calmed callers’ fears with information about West Nile and its symptoms, and also collected data, such as dead bird reports, that helped epidemiologists pinpoint clusters of the virus. […] The line has proved so successful the poison center’s team of health investigators has created a model of how other states can use community call centers, such as nurse-staffed advice lines and poison centers, as life lines to a panicked population during a widespread public health emergency such as a pandemic or a biological or chemical terrorist attack.” (, 28Jan08, Cathryn Domrose)

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

NATO Chief: Military Alone Can't Solve Afghanistan's Problems

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - The
military cannot solve the problems of Afghanistan by itself, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe said today. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock spoke on National Public Radio's Diane Rehm Show. NATO is responsible for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Craddock, who has held his post since December 2006, said he had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, and though he sees progress every time he goes to the country, it is uneven. Even where
security progress has been good, more needs to be done to bring good governance to the people and to create jobs, he said.

"The fact is the
military can't solve the problem," Craddock said. "The military will set the conditions to allow the people of Afghanistan and the local, provincial and national governments to provide better governance, and create jobs."

The idea, he said, is to drive a wedge between the Taliban and the people. He said he wants to break the "day fighters" -- Afghans who fight for the Taliban or al Qaeda as a way to earn money and put food on their families' tables -- away from the group. "If they could get an honest wage, they would do it," Craddock said. "That's the job creation that needs to happen throughout the country. And it has to happen in the south and east, as well as the more stable areas in the north and west."

Most of Afghanistan's 396 districts are peaceful, the general said, with 40 districts in the southern and eastern parts of the country causing 70 percent of Afghanistan's
security problems. "That is Taliban country," Craddock said.

The United States is sending an additional 3,200 Marines into Afghanistan beginning in March. Part of the force will go to reinforce NATO forces in Regional Command South, and the rest will be trainers for the Afghan National
Army and Afghan National Police.

NATO has 47,000 troops in Afghanistan, 18,000 of them American. Another 10,000 American servicemembers are part of Operation Enduring Freedom and are not under NATO command. This includes trainers with Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.

Marines will be a short-term fix. Once they leave Afghanistan after a seven-month stint, NATO nations must pony up their replacements. The need for the troops is undisputed; NATO nations determined the numbers, and the alliance members agreed.

"We have a requirement that has not been met," Craddock said. "We have a troop list, and we continue to work with the NATO nations to get them to contribute to meet all of our
military requirements."

Some of the requirements are in the "high-demand, low-density" category. These include helicopters and complex intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. In some cases, the general said, political issues preclude nations from contributing.

The NATO effort must be a long-term commitment, Craddock said, because NATO forces will be needed until Afghan
security forces can take responsibility. Meanwhile, he said, the Afghan government must work with the international community and nongovernmental organizations to put aid and job programs in place. These programs "must be integrated, coordinated and focused on the delivery of the effects: the jobs, the infrastructure, the roads," he said.

"The key here is the development of a competent Afghan National
Army and police force," he said.

The Afghan National
Army is moving along very well. The army could be ready to take over total responsibility in four to five years, he said, with the police two years behind.

Bush: U.S. Future Depends on Confronting Enemies, Advancing Liberty

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - As President Bush outlined a full agenda of initiatives tonight during his final State of the Union address, he emphasized that a prosperous future for America "depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world." The United States has witnessed stirring moments as liberty advanced over the past seven years, but also sobering images of devastation caused by those bent on preventing it from taking hold, Bush told a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol.

"We've seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan, Afghans and Iraqis blown up in mosques and markets and trains in London and Madrid ripped apart by bombs," Bush said.

But never was the message driven home more clearly, he said, than on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The advance of liberty is opposed by
terrorists and extremists -- evil men who despise freedom, despise America and aim to subject millions to their violent rule," Bush told the assembly.

Calling this conflict "the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century," he vowed to continue taking the fight to the
terrorists and extremists.

"We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to our enemies," he said, drawing applause from the full chamber.

Bush pointed to successes the United States, 25 NATO allies and 15 partner nations are helping to realize in Afghanistan. Once a safe haven for extremists and the launching pad for the Sept. 11 attacks, Afghanistan now is a new democracy with a hopeful future.

"These successes must continue, so we're adding 3,200
Marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight the terrorists and train the Afghan army and police," he said. "Defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda is critical to our security."

Bush pointed to similar efforts in Iraq, where terrorists and extremists are fighting to defeat the new democratic government and establish new safe havens from which to launch future attacks. Thanks to a new U.S. strategy that's brought about a dramatic turnaround there, Bush said these enemies are now on the run.

The president noted that
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, has warned that too fast a drawdown of U.S. troops could allow al Qaeda to regain lost ground. "Having come so far and achieved so much, we must not allow this to happen," he told the lawmakers.

Bush said a failed Iraq would embolden the extremists and give
terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks against the United States and its friends and allies. It would also encourage Iran, where Bush said an oppressive regime works to squelch freedom wherever it advances in the Middle East.

"Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah
terrorists in Lebanon and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land," he said. Meanwhile, the Tehran government is developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continuing to develop the uranium-enrichment capability needed to create a nuclear weapon, he added.

The United States has no quarrel with the people of Iran and looks forward to the day when they live in freedom, the president said. However, Bush offered a far stronger message to Iran's leaders: "Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, ... come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad.

"But above all, know this," the president continued. "America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf."

Ultimately, protecting the United States from the dangers
terrorists and extremists pose requires changing the conditions that breed resentment and allow them to prey on despair, the president said.

"So America is using its influence to build a freer, more hopeful and more compassionate world," he said. "This is a reflection of our national interest; it is the calling of our conscience."

Bush said the United States' long-term security depends on its success in standing up to
terrorism and extremism and spreading liberty to prevent their hateful ideologies from taking hold.

"We must do the difficult work today, so that years from now people will look back and say that this generation rose to the moment, prevailed in a tough fight, and left behind a more hopeful region and a safer America," he said.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Robert J. Wilson, 28, of Boynton Beach, Fla., died Jan. 26 of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was conducting a dismounted patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

For more information media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-9966.

Resources Needed to Build On Iraq Successes, Bush Tells Congress

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - President Bush used his final State of the Union address tonight to praise strides made in Iraq over the past year and to urge Congress to ensure U.S. troops have the resources and support they need to build on that success. With Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several invited Iraq war veterans looking on, Bush told a joint session of Congress the new strategy in Iraq that became fully operational in mid-June "has achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago."

"When we met last year, many said containing the violence was impossible," Bush said. "A year later, high-profile
terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down and sectarian killings are down."

Similarly, militia extremists were wreaking havoc last year in large areas of Iraq. "A year later, coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters," Bush said. "And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country."

Also last year, al Qaeda had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and its
leaders had offered U.S. forces safe passage out of the country. "Today, it is al Qaeda that is searching for safe passage," Bush said. "They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders and operatives."

Bush cited a tape released last month in which Osama bin Laden railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who had turned on al Qaeda and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq.

"Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working," the president told the chamber. "But among the
terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated."

Bush attributed the progress made to "the valor of our troops and the brilliance of their commanders." He cited the success of the troop surge and a new, expanded mission aimed at denying terrorists sanctuary and working with Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people.

"The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened," he said. "Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw ... our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the
terrorists and staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return." U.S. troops worked side by side with provincial reconstruction teams to ensure improvements in Iraqi's daily lives followed those security improvements, Bush said.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis launched a surge of their own, Bush said. Sunni tribal
leaders grew tired of al Qaeda's brutality and started the "Anbar Awakening," an uprising that sparked similar movements across Iraq.

"And today, this grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the
terrorists," Bush said. "The government in Baghdad has stepped forward as well, adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year."

Bush cited signs of political progress as well: the Iraqi parliament's passage of pension law and de-Baathification reform and the central government's sharing of oil revenues with the provinces.

As this progress continues, Bush vowed that the United States won't stop short of seeing the mission through.

He conceded that while the enemies in Iraq "have been hit hard," the job there is far from over. "The enemy is still dangerous, and more work remains," he said. "They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead."

Still, he said, progress has been made and must continue.

"Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy," he said. "American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission."

As this effort continues, Bush said, more U.S. forces will be able to begin returning home. So far, one Army brigade combat team and a Marine expeditionary unit that were part of the surge have returned without being replaced. In the coming months, four additional
Army brigades and two more Marine battalions will return without replacement. "Taken together, this means more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home," he said.

Decisions about any additional drawdowns will be based on conditions on the ground and commanders' recommendations, the president said.

Speaking directly to the troops on the front lines, Bush pledged that the country will ensure they have everything they need to succeed in Iraq.

"In the past year, you have done everything we have asked of you, and more," he said. "Our nation is grateful for your courage. We are proud of your accomplishments."

Bush followed with a pledge: "In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our nation. And I ask the Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women by fully funding our troops."

The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for the United States, the president conceded. "But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed," he said. "A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda safe haven. A free Iraq will show millions across the Middle East that a future of liberty is possible. And a free Iraq will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world."

A failed Iraq, in contrast, "would embolden extremists, strengthen Iran and give
terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies and our homeland," Bush said. "The enemy has made its intentions clear."

Bush insisted that the United States won't rest until the enemy has been defeated.

"We must do the difficult work today, so that years from now people will look back and say that this generation rose to the moment, prevailed in a tough fight and left behind a more hopeful region and a safer America," he said.

Bush Urges Programs to Benefit Military Families, Wounded Troops

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 28, 2008 - President Bush called on Congress tonight to reward the contributions servicemembers and their families make every day through better services and laws that let them share unused
education benefits and give military spouses hiring preference for federal jobs. Addressing both houses of Congress during his seventh annual State of the Union address, the president also urged passage of Dole-Shalala Commission recommendations to ensure wounded warriors receive the services they deserve.

The president acknowledged the great sacrifices
military families make as their loved ones serve, and announced new proposals to show appreciation.

"Our military families also sacrifice for America. They endure sleepless nights and the daily struggle of providing for children while a loved one is serving far from home," Bush said. "We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I ask you to join me in expanding their access to child care, creating new hiring preferences for
military spouses across the federal government, and allowing our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children."

Bush urged Congress to approve legislation that allows servicemembers to transfer unused Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to their spouses and children. The G.I. Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits to eligible veterans for college, technical or vocational courses and other job training. Currently, the
Army is the only service that allows its members to transfer those benefits to their children.

The president said he wants all veterans to be able to transfer benefits they have earned to their spouses and children.

Bush also asked Congress to pass a bill creating new hiring preferences across the federal government for
military spouses. Under current law, only veterans themselves are entitled to preferences over others in competitive hiring for federal government jobs.

military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them," he said. The United States owes that same honor to its veterans, Bush said, particularly those wounded in the war on terror.

He urged Congress to enact reforms recommended by the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors to ensure they are able to "build lives of hope, promise and dignity."

The president created the commission in March to conduct a comprehensive review of the services returning wounded warriors receive. The commission, co-chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala -- both of whom attended tonight's address -- released its findings in July.

Some of the commission's recommendations have been put into effect already, but others require legislative action. Measures already taken or in the works include:

-- Hiring of the first federal recovery coordinators to help guide wounded servicemembers through their recuperation;

-- Establishment of a pilot program establishing a single comprehensive disability exam to replace separate exams in the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs;

-- Creation of a new National Center of Excellence for
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury in the Washington, D.C., area;

-- Efforts to create a single Web portal so wounded servicemembers and veterans can track their medical and recovery records, get information and apply for benefits and services;

-- Proposed regulations to update the disability schedule for traumatic brain injury and burns; and

-- Use of special authorities to retain the best health professionals working at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center until it closes.

The president said he remains committed to the well-being of America's men and women in uniform and is keeping his commitment to provide for veterans.

"America is a force for hope in the world because we are a compassionate people, and some of the most compassionate Americans are those who have stepped forward to protect us," he said. "We must keep faith with all who have risked life and limb so that we might live in freedom and peace."