Saturday, May 31, 2008
Iraq Operations See 13 Enemy Killed, 14 Captured
May 30, 2008 - Coalition and Iraqi troops killed 13 enemy fighters and captured 14 others during recent operations, military officials said.
In operations today:
-- Coalition forces killed an al-Qaida in Iraq weapons dealer and detained another man near Tikrit. Perceiving hostile intent after the man made threatening movements toward them, coalition forces shot and killed him. The man was identified as the targeted weapons dealer, who was involved in a Tigris River Valley bomb-making network, officials said.
-- An operation south of Sinjar netted an individual reportedly involved in bombings and an illegal terrorist court system in Ninevah province. Military officials said the wanted man tested positive for explosives residue. An additional suspect was detained.
-- Coalition forces captured two more alleged bombing-network operatives and three additional suspects near Beiji. Officials said one of the men confessed to killing three Americans and emplacing roadside bombs in the area and that the other was involved in bombing networks in the Tigris River Valley and Mosul.
-- While coalition forces were targeting a senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader in Tarmiyah, military officials said, a group of men approached them. The coalition forces identified themselves, and all but one man in the group turned away. Perceiving hostile intent, the coalition forces shot and killed him. One of the captured men is believed to coordinate attacks against coalition forces, officials said. The other allegedly provides falsified documents for foreign terrorists. Two additional suspected terrorists were detained.
-- Iraqi and coalition forces captured a wanted man and two other suspected terrorists who are allegedly tied to al-Qaida leaders in Kirkuk. Farther south, the force detained an alleged foreign-terrorist facilitator with ties to a suicide-bombing network in Abu Ghraib, military officials said.
In operations yesterday:
-- Members of a "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group killed nine enemy fighters during a firefight at a checkpoint near Owja, south of Tikrit. Members of the group were attacked when a fuel truck approached the checkpoint and engaged the guards with small-arms fire. The driver then got out and detonated a suicide vest. The remaining enemy fighters continued to target the security group, and Iraqi army soldiers and police responded to the firefight, eliminating the threat, officials said.
-- Acting on a tip from local citizens, Iraqi soldiers found a large weapons cache near the Rega area of Salahuddin province. The cache contained various sizes of rounds commonly used to manufacture homemade bombs.
-- In separate operations, Iraqi army soldiers discovered six homemade bombs and a weapons cache containing rocket-propelled grenades in northern Baghdad.
In operations May 28, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers killed two enemy fighters who were armed with rocket-propelled-grenade launchers. They also seized grenades, RPGs and various other bomb-making materials during operations in Baghdad.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Conference Brings Key Iraqi Energy Leaders Together
May 29, 2008 - Northern Iraqi leaders came together for an energy conference at Contingency Operating Base Spiecher in the province of Salahuddin yesterday. The conference covered the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity within the northern region of Iraq.
All four northern provinces -- Tamim, Diyala, Salahuddin and Ninevah -- had official representation at the conference, and they all spoke on their areas within the region.
Officials also represented three Kurdish provinces: Sulaimaniyah, Irbil and Dahuk.
The Iraqi Minister of Electricity, Iraqi military leaders and coalition soldiers were in attendance to bring awareness of the energy issues and to develop possible means for resolving some of the lingering problems northern Iraqis are facing with their electricity deficit.
Maj. Gen. Salahadin Mustafa Kamal el-Qradg, commander of 4th Iraqi Army Division, spoke about the Iraqi army military capabilities and the security issues around the electricity plants.
"Things are certainly getting better," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Butch Graham, division engineer for Task Force Iron and Multinational Division North.
Northern Iraqi oil companies produced nearly 20 billion barrels of oil in April. Exported barrels earned more than $1.5 billion for the Iraqi people.
"These efforts have been critical to keeping the power plants running, industries producing, and the home cooking stoves lit," Graham said.
With many questions and ideas for long- and short-term plans batted back and forth between the attendees, there were concerns of financial strain on the provinces and security restraints. Military and government leaders and engineers spoke about interim solutions to the energy issues while the Iraqi provinces work to grow their larger generation plants.
"We have an unbelievable opportunity in this point in the history of Iraq, not to be penny wise and megawatt poor, so if we can tolerate a little inefficiency for the next two years, there is a risk of growing Iraq and bringing this nation together," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Tony Thomas, deputy commander of Multinational Division North. "I would say that this would be money well spent."
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)
2008 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference East
“Partnering for a Safer Nation”
June 2-5, 2008 * Ronald Reagan International Trade Center * Washington, D.C.
The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology highlight the speakers list for the 2008 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference East, taking place June 2-5 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, D.C,, presented by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) with subject matter support provided by the Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. The theme for the conference is “Partnering for a Safer Nation.”
The purpose of the conference is to inform Federal, state, and local government personnel, First Responders, industry, and academia of the direction, emphasis, scope, and status of the research investments by the Department of Homeland Security S&T Directorate, and to describe the business opportunities for private sector organizations and universities.
Keynote speakers committed to the event include The Honorable Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security and The Honorable Jay Cohen, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology. Other invited speakers include The Honorable Paul Schneider, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, The Honorable Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Mr. Alfonso Martinez-Fonts, Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector Office, Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Bead Buswell, Deputy Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, and Mr. Adam Tsao, Chief of Staff of Operational Process and Technology for the Transportation Security Administration. Other notable speakers include Capitol Hill staffers and leaders from government, academic, and private sector organizations that are partnering with S&T in science & technology research. There will be a significant international component to the event.
The leadership and key staff of the S&T Directorate will be broadly represented throughout the S&T Stakeholders Conference East. Registered attendees will have extensive opportunities for formal and informal interaction with Directors, Division Heads, and Program Managers from the S&T Directorate. The S&T Directorate is the gateway into DHS for innovative concepts and technologies that can support the Homeland Security mission from all levels of government, the private sector, academia, and individuals with good ideas, new products, and new or improved capabilities.
Pre-Conference Training & Familiarization Session
Monday, June 2 will be the Pre-Conference Training and Familiarization Training Session at the 2008 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference East. Attendees can access a wide range of informative sessions on multiple subject areas including Doing Business with the S&T Directorate, Science & Technology for First Responders, IEDs, Crisis Communication, and many other topics. Conference attendees can get an in-depth understanding of the organization, focus, and plans of the S&T Directorate, and hear the S&T Divisions describe their areas of responsibility, and highlight key deliverables and technologies being worked on now and planned for the future. The Pre-Conference Training and Familiarization Training Session is included in a full conference registration. Registration for the training & familiarization session only is also available.
The theme of the 2008 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference East is “Partnering for a Safer Nation”. The Science & Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security has spent the past two years building partnerships with Federal, state, local, and international governments, industry, inventors, and academia, all for the purpose of delivering effective products and capabilities to people performing the Homeland Security mission across the nation and around the world. Since good partnerships are built on two-way communication, the S&T Directorate will spend two and ½ days at the conference not just telling conference attendees what the Directorate has been doing the last two years, but also listening to the attendees at the conference, getting their feedback on the Directorate’s track record since 2006, and their input on the plans and budgets for science & technology research for homeland security in the years ahead. Plenary sessions on Tuesday, June 3 will be feature several panels that will highlight partnerships built by the S&T Directorate over the last two years to help make the nation safer. The panels will be composed of S&T Directorate leadership personnel and representatives from the organizations with which partnerships have been fostered. On Wednesday, June 4 and Thursday, June 5, the conference will focus on the future plans of the S&T Directorate, and where investments in research are planned. Input from conference attendees is an important part of these two days, and conference attendees can anticipate intense discussions with S&T Directorate personnel about capability gaps and technology requirements that S&T’s customers need filled. Conference attendees are encouraged to provide their thoughts, input, and suggestions to the people who are setting the priorities for science and technology research for homeland security in the coming years.
The exhibit hall at the 2008 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference East will display significant new technologies relevant to the Homeland Security mission at the national, state, and local level, with particular attention to and focus on products and technology relevant to First Responders and other authorized emergency response personnel. Attendees can see and discuss scientific breakthroughs and the latest products with researchers and representatives from industry, laboratories, and all levels of government. Free passes to the exhibit hall only on June 3-5 are available for First Responders, Homeland Security professionals and people in businesses related to the Homeland Security mission. To get the free “View Exhibits Only” pass, go to http://exhibits.ndia.org/NDIA/CUSTOM/DHSSandTEast08VEOPassprint.pdf where you will download the application form for the pass. Fill out the application and bring it with you to the exhibit hall registration desk during the designated hours for VEO admission.
Visit the official web site for the conference at http://www.ndia.org/meetings/8680
10th Annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Exposition October 29-31, 2008
The U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS), and Defense (DoD)
DOJ's Office of Justice Programs' National Institute of Justice, DHS's Science and Technology Directorate, and DoD's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:
FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association
InterAgency Board for Interoperability and Standardization
International Association of Chiefs of Police
International Association of Emergency Managers
National Emergency Management Association
National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center
National Sheriffs' Association
Public Safety and Security Institute for Technology
Technical Support Working Group
US Army RDECOM's Natick Research Development and Engineering Center
The 10th annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Exposition highlights DOJ, DHS and DoD's technology and training tools currently available and being developed for the emergency responder community, as well as provides a forum for emergency responders to discuss best practices and exchange information. With 1,500 attendees and 200 exhibits and demonstrations expected, this conference offers a unique opportunity for emergency responders, business and industry, academia and local, tribal, state, and Federal stakeholders to network, exchange ideas and address common critical incident technology and preparedness needs, protocols, and solutions.
Hyatt Regency Chicago
151 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
$185: State/local public safety practitioners
$205*: Federal government/industry/other
(subject to change 10/01/08 to FY09 per diem)
Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel reservations will be available starting in early June through the conference website.
$250: Local, Tribal, State & Federal Government
$350: Non-profit/Academia/Federally designated 8(A)'s
$550: Private Sector/Industry/Other
Attendee registration will open in early June at www.ctc.org. Look for our next e-mail, which will announce the opening of registration, in a couple of weeks!
$1,800: Local, Tribal, State & Federal Government/Non-profit/Academia
$2,000: Private Sector/Industry/Other
Exhibit booth sales for our largest exhibit area in 10 years will open in early June at www.ctc.org. Look for our next e-mail, which will announce the opening of the exhibit booth sales, in a couple of weeks!
CONFERENCE WEBSITE: www.ctc.org
Coalition forces in Iraq Kill 10, Catch 11
May 29, 2008 - Coalition and Iraqi forces killed 10 enemy fighters, captured 11 suspects, and uncovered scores of weapons in Iraq over the past three days, military officials said. In two-day operations that culminated today, coalition forces detained 11 suspected al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists, including two wanted men.
One of the wanted men allegedly conducted bombing attacks against Iraqi security forces and the other is believed to be a senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader in Salahuddin and Anbar provinces, military officials said.
"We will continue to put pressure on al-Qaida in Iraq together with the Iraqi security forces to protect innocent citizens from these terrorists," said Army Maj. John Hall, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.
In Iraq yesterday:
-- Coalition forces killed 10 members of Iranian-backed "special groups" in the Fedaliyah neighborhood of eastern Baghdad's New Baghdad district. Troops engaged the weapon-wielding militants after observing them emplace homemade bombs.
-- Troops captured a key suspected special groups financier in Mahmudiyah, about 10 miles south of the Iraqi capital. Military officials believe the suspect is the primary financier between Iranian intelligence elements and special groups operatives from Mahmudiyah to southern Baghdad.
-- Coalition and Iraqi forces found weapons caches in the following areas: northwest of Baghdad, and in the Aamel, Rashid, West Rashid and Mansour districts of the Iraqi capital. The stockpiles totaled dozens of mortar rounds, rockets, bomb-making materials, homemade explosives, assault rifles and ammunition, and other military equipment.
During two separate operations May 27, coalition and Iraqi forces discovered hidden lodes of illegal weapons. A find in the Saydiyah district of southern Baghdad yielded weaponry and ammunition of various sizes, and a local citizens group in Arab Jabour uncovered a 200-pound bomb.
"The more bombs we get off the battlefield the better," Army 1st Lt. Jeno Giorgi, a military spokesman, said of the bomb discovered in the Arab Jabour farm field. "It's one less coalition force or Iraqi casualty."
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)
Troops Kill Enemy Fighters, Disarm Bombs in Afghanistan
May 29, 2008 - Coalition and Afghan national security forces killed an unknown number of enemy fighters and neutralized homemade bombs in Afghanistan over the past two days, military officials said. Combined forces killed several extremists during an operation today in Helmand province.
While patrolling near the Sangin district center, troops received fire from militants. The combined ground force responded with small-arms fire and called in precision air strikes, killing the enemy fighters.
Troops also destroyed a cache of mortar rounds during the operation.
In Farah province yesterday, coalition forces killed several extremists with small-arms fire and precision air strikes.
In the midst of responding to an allied unit under attack, coalition forces received machine gun, mortar, and rocket-propelled-grenade fire from a nearby compound. During successive engagements, troops used precision aircraft strikes on confirmed enemy locations, killing an unknown number of militants.
Immediately following the operation, coalition and Afghan National Army leaders met with village elders to explain the situation and reassure the local civilians of their safety.
No civilians or coalition forces were harmed in the engagement.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan yesterday, a villager in Helmand province discovered several homemade bombs near his home and turned them over to local Afghan forces. Afghan national security forces disarmed the explosives.
(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)
Deployed Physical Therapists Keep Soldiers on Their Feet
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 29, 2008 - Many of the physical tolls professional athletes face are mirrored in professional soldiers. Pulled muscles, back pain, and sprains are just a few injuries soldiers face while conducting day-to-day operations in Iraq. Enter the Army physical therapist -- a mobile, hands-on medical professional who works with soldiers to alleviate their neuromusculoskeletal problems in the thick of the fight here.
"We see our guys on the line as professional athletes," said Army Capt. Christine Iverson, a physical therapist with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Iverson, who has been an Army physical therapist since April 2006, earned a doctorate of physical therapy from Baylor University and has been helping Screaming Eagle soldiers reach their peak performance ever since.
She and her mobile physical therapy team have helped more than 2,500 soldiers get back on their feet since being deployed here in September.
The Bastogne physical therapy team handles an array of soldier's injuries, from acute battle wounds to chronic orthopedic pain, Iverson said.
"You name it, we're here to fix 'em," Iverson said.
"Physical therapy is not to be confused with massage therapy," said Iverson, who describes her operation as a one-stop shop for relieving soldiers' aches and pains.
The physical therapy team here specializes in joint mobilizations, manipulations and exercise therapies. They use sophisticated machines, modalities and braces to help debilitated warriors get back on their feet across the Salahuddin province.
Iverson said her team spends an average of 20 days a month traveling to forward operating bases here providing treatment and giving advice to soldiers on how to avoid injuries.
"As we are trying to do more with less, it becomes important for our line soldiers to get the best treatment we can give them," she said. "We want them to leave here as better soldiers."
A large portion of the cases Iverson's team deals with concern back pain. As soldiers are being asked to carry a heavy burden here, they carry equally heavy loads on their backs.
Core strengthening is key to avoiding back issues, Iverson said. This entails building the muscle that acts as a weight belt underneath the superficial layers of muscle around your core, she said.
For many soldiers, the physical therapists here have been instrumental in helping them recover.
"It's awesome because you don't have to go through a whole deployment in pain," said Army Spc. Thomas Heppler, who suffers from chronic back pain.
Heppler said he appreciates having a physical therapist at the brigade level instead of having to seek help elsewhere. "It makes it easier on me to have them here," he said. "They make themselves real accessible."
For Iverson, there is no better place for a physical therapist to be, than at the heart of the fight. "We belong down at the line units," she said. "We owe them that."
(Army Spc. Rick Rzepka serves with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in Multinational Division North.)
Pfc. Chad M. Trimble, 29, of West Covina, Calif., died May 28, near Gardez, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th 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.
Face of Defense: Soldier Helps Iraqis Take Charge
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 28, 2008 - U.S. soldiers working together with their Iraqi counterparts is an important step toward Iraqis taking charge of their nation. A fire team at a joint security station near Camp Taji, northwest of Baghdad, is a model for a successful transition from a dependent Iraq to a sovereign nation that can secure the people.
The fire team consists of both Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers and Iraqi soldiers from 36th Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division. U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Rios, a native of Sebastian, Texas, serves as the team chief. He is assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment "Wolfhounds," 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Warriors."
The formation of the combined group initially came together out of sheer necessity when Rios' soldiers were reassigned to other duties or left the area for environmental morale leave.
The sudden moves forced the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers to learn to work together and overcome linguistic barriers. Overcoming those barriers was a challenge, Rios said, but they were eased through the use of interpreters and hand signals.
"The most amazing aspect of the fire team is that we speak so little to each other," Rios said. "We work mostly by hand signals and knowing glances."
Acknowledgement, he explained, is made by a simple nod.
"They work like any other fire team in a modern army," he said. "They know their jobs, take directions from their leader and execute. They are well-rehearsed and work flawlessly together."
Rios said he believes in the soldiers' ability to work as members of a team. In fact, he added, they train together every chance they get. During their available free time, they come together to work on close-quarters-combat drills, practice search techniques for vehicles and buildings, and constantly refine their battle-drill skills. All team members know what they are expected to do when hostile contact is made.
"He is a good leader," said Hamed, an Iraqi soldier from 36th Brigade. Hamed has been on Rios' team since the beginning. "[He's] patient and decisive, and very funny, too."
Even with a language barrier, Rios is passing on his knowledge and preparing the Iraqi soldiers to be future leaders. He said his vision is to be a force multiplier by being an example so these soldiers can one day show their future soldiers how to be proficient warriors.
Rios said he demands excellence from his team and doesn't allow them to give less than their best.
"I want 100 percent from them -- their undivided attention. If they work hard now and train properly, when it comes to firefights and real-life matters, they won't have to think about it," he said. "I want them to identify what they must to do and execute."
(Army Spc. John Ahn serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)
Forces in Iraq Capture Dozens, Discover Weapons Caches
May 28, 2008 - Forces in Iraq captured dozens of suspects and found multiple caches of weapons in recent days, military officials said. Iraqi national policemen discovered a substantial munitions cache early this morning in the Aamel area of Rashid, in southeastern Baghdad.
The national police seized 11 explosively formed projectiles -- bombs specifically designed to pierce armored vehicles -- as well as various sizes of mortar rounds, various explosives, rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, sniper rifles, a machine gun, grenades, a rocket sled, mortar base plates, and several artillery timers.
"Taking these weapons off the streets of Baghdad is a tremendous step in safeguarding the people of Baghdad," said Army Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for Multinational Division Baghdad and 4th Infantry Division. "The national police continue to demonstrate their professionalism in keeping the local populace safe and secure."
In operations yesterday:
-- Information from an April 21 operation led coalition forces to Mosul, where they detained four suspected terrorists believed to be associated with al-Qaida in Iraq senior leaders. This included a wanted man believed to have fled to Mosul to avoid pressure from Iraqi and coalition forces in western Iraq.
-- Iraqi police and local members of "Sons of Iraq," a citizen security group, detained 41 men in the Salahuddin province. They also confiscated about 700 rounds of machine-gun ammunition from the detainees, officials said.
-- Iraqi soldiers found four weapons caches. They soldiers seized an RPG launcher and rocket, a trigger device, various size mortars and rounds, bomb-making materials, a homemade bomb, helmets, and life preservers.
-- Iraqi special operations forces captured three suspected Iranian-backed "special groups" enemy fighters in two separate operations around Baghdad. The two suspects are accused of kidnapping, torturing and killing Iraqi citizens. The third suspect is reported to be responsible for attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, military officials said.
-- Iraqi soldiers took a number of weapons out of the control of enemy fighters during Operation Peace in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, seizing a total of 27 bombs designed to penetrate armored vehicles, and one mortar tube.
-- In two separate operations in Sadr City, Iraqi soldiers found assault rifles and ammunition, sniper rifles, two RPG launchers, mortar rounds and ammunition, a set of body armor, a radio, blasting caps, ammunition pouches, and a pair of binoculars.
-- An Iraqi led coalition forces to two large weapons caches near Duar, 18 miles south of Baghdad. The larger of the two caches, 30 meters from the second cache, was found buried 3 feet deep in the side of a hill. The combined caches contained more than 900 pounds of homemade explosives, various artillery and other military equipment and scores of rounds.
In operations May 26:
-- Coalition forces captured a wanted man believed to have been a leader of al-Qaida in Iraq since 2005. The suspect also allegedly was involved in an attack on U.S. troops near Donkey Island, in Anbar province, June 30, officials said. Seven other suspected terrorists also were captured.
-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained a suspected terrorist in Tarmiyah, northwest of Baghdad. Soldiers detained the suspect, who is accused of recruiting juveniles in the area to carry out attacks on Iraqi security forces and coalition forces. Military officials linked the suspect to an explosion at an Iraqi security checkpoint in the Tarmiyah area in which four Iraqi security force members were killed.
-- Iraqi special operations forces captured a suspected terrorist in eastern Mosul. The leader is suspected of operating an al-Qaida in Iraq cell in the Mosul area. Three other suspects were detained. The terrorist and his cell are suspected of being responsible for homemade-bomb attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, officials said.
-- A tip led Multinational Division Center soldiers to about 900 pounds of homemade explosives north of Patrol Base Shanghai, about 22 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. In another operation, they uncovered a cache consisting of 18 50-pound bags of homemade explosive, military officials said.
-- Iraqi army and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers discovered RPG rounds and a machine gun in the Adhamiyah district. In another operation, soldiers seized an 82 mm mortar round, a rocket, two homemade bombs, 12 bags of gun powder, and two hand grenades in the Karkh district. In the Furat area of the Rashid district, soldiers seized an RPG launcher, two RPG warheads and two RPG boosters, military officials said.
-- During a cordon-and-search operation, the Iraqi army found a large weapons cache in Tamim province. The cache consisted of RPG launchers and rockets, hundreds of anti-aircraft artillery rounds, various propellant charges, a machine gun, hundreds of communication devices and more than 2,500 meters of detonation cord, officials said.
-- Iraqi security forces, a Sons of Iraq a security group, and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers discovered three weapons caches in Baghdad containing homemade explosives, mortar rounds, various rockets and fuses, assault rifles and hand grenades, officials said.
-- Iraqi army soldiers discovered a large explosives cache in Mosul. The cache consisted of homemade explosives, nitrate and liquid nitrate, oxygen tanks, gunpowder, and ball bearings. During operations Lion's Roar and Mother of Two Springs, the Iraqi army and Iraqi police have discovered 40 weapons and explosives caches throughout Mosul and Ninevah province, military officials said.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)
Iraqi Businesses Display Wares at Expo
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 28, 2008 - More than 70 Iraqi business owners gathered in the Babylon Hotel on the Karadah Peninsula in southeastern Baghdad for the inaugural Rebuilding Karadah Expo and Conference, May 23-24. Entrepreneurs and shopkeepers met at the hotel to display their products and services and to meet other Karadah business owners and community leaders.
Participants setting up booths represented businesses in the fields of retail sales, construction, durable and industrial goods, and even a beekeeper selling honey. In addition, several nongovernmental agencies and municipal officials set up and visited booths, and various Arab media organizations covered both days of the conference and expo.
The Iraqi Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the two-day event, which the Baghdad 2 Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team officials estimate more than 2,000 visitors attended.
Conrad Tribble, leader of the Baghdad 2 EPRT, a Washington D.C., native, said this was the largest event of its kind to take place in Baghdad outside the International Zone in a long time.
"The event was a success because it sent a strong message to government leaders of Baghdad that business owners are an important voice of the community," he said. The business owners of Karadah have a positive message, he added.
The Baghdad 2 Embedded PRT, based at Forward Operating Base Loyalty, and the main Baghdad PRT, based in the International Zone, each sponsored 10 booths at the expo for local small-business owners.
In addition to leading the team, Tribble serves as theteam's political specialist, drawing on his 20 years of experience as a State Department foreign-service officer. He said his mission is to bring civilian development and diplomacy to the operating environment of the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.
"What we are trying to do through our participation is to stimulate the private sector as well as see what kinds of businesses would come out," Tribble explained, crediting the Iraqi Chamber of Commerce and Industry for planning and executing the expo and conference.
Madeeha Hasan Odhaib, a Karadah business owner and member of the Karadah District Advisory Council, whom Time Magazine recently named one of the world's 100 most influential people of 2008, attended the event. She employs 100 Iraqi women in the sewing factory in the district.
"I'm happy that Iraqi ladies of Karadah are allowed and encouraged to participate in events such as these," said Odhaib, whom Queen Rania of Jordan nominated for the Time Magazine honor.
Baghdad's provincial governor, Hussein al Tahan; Sabir al-Isawi, the mayor of Baghdad; and Muin Hamid Abd al-Majid al-Kadhimi, Baghdad Provincial Council chairman, attended the event to support Karadah businesses.
The Baghdad 2 Embedded PRT and main Baghdad PRT sponsored the Business-2-Business trade show in February, in which more than 300 businesses from throughout the capital participated. That "monumentally successful" event, Tribble said, spawned the idea for each local district to have its own expo, highlighting local business owners and addressing their concerns.
Next month, the Rusafa district of Baghdad will host its expo, and it won't be long before every district in Baghdad has celebrated inaugural business expos, Tribble said.
"This is sort of developing a Baghdad-wide wave of enthusiasm and attention to the private sector, which we all like to think is the primary stimulus for economic growth, ... the main potential for employment growth over the next several years," he said.
(Army Sgt. Jeremy Todd serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Exhibition 2008
October 29-31,2008, Chicago, Illinois
This 10th annual conference provides the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense the opportunity to highlight the technology and training tools currently available and being developed for the emergency responder community and to elicit responder technology requirements. It provides a forum for responders to discuss best practices and exchange information. Expected to draw 1,500 attendees and 150 exhibits, this three-day conference will bring together key leaders and decision makers--offering responders, business and industry, academia, and Federal, State, tribal and local stakeholders a unique forum to network, exchange ideas, and collaboratively address critical incident technology and preparedness needs, protocols, and solutions. Attendee registration will open in June at www.ctc.org.
Improved Iraqi Forces Contribute to Four-Year Violence Low
American Forces Press Service
May 28, 2008 - Last week, Iraq experienced the lowest level of "security incidents" since March 2004, a reduction that military officials attribute in part to improvements in Iraqi security forces. The collective efforts ... to increase the capacity of the Iraqi security forces is a key part of the reason why we saw last week the lowest level of security incidents in Iraq the past four years," Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said this morning during a news conference in Baghdad.
"It is also why we are seeing Iraqi citizens increasingly supporting their security forces by calling in tips on criminal activity and illegal weapons," Bergner continued. "And it is why we are seeing the Iraqi security forces conducting effective operations in Basra, Mosul and Baghdad to enforce the rule of law."
Army Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, commander of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, said he and other officials tasked with building and training the national security forces in Iraq are seeing continued progress.
"The last 12 months have witnessed a marked decrease in violence, along with a corresponding increase in the capability, professionalism and effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces," he told reporters during the news conference.
The media have devoted much attention to the temporary 33,000-troop surge announced last year, which military officials have praised for helping tamp down violence in Iraq, Dubik said. But equally important, he added, is the complementary surge in the numbers and overall quality of the Iraqi forces.
Since June 2007, the Iraqi army has added 52,000 soldiers, the air force has expanded by 21 aircraft, and Iraq's special operations forces have increased by 1,400 personnel. At the same time, the nation's armed forces have dramatically increased their ability to sustain and replenish themselves, Dubik said.
"Last year at this time, the Iraqi army had only about 2,500 up-armored Humvees; right now it's almost 3,200, and by the end of this year, there will be over 6,200 up-armored Humvees in the army alone," he said, adding that the Iraqi air force increased its number of sorties over the same time from 30 weekly missions to 225.
Since this time last year, Iraqi security forces have grown by about 46,000 Iraqi police members and 15,000 Iraqi national police, Dubik said. As the forces swell, the Interior Ministry has made a "concerted effort" to ensure the members are trained to comport themselves professionally at the national and provincial levels.
"This has contributed greatly to an increase in confidence in the people that the police are to serve and protect," he added. "I'm very proud to be a partner in this endeavor."
CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- May 28, 2008
“A two-year UN study of internationally funded training programmes in biotechnology and biosafety warns that as many as 100 developing countries are unprepared to effectively manage and monitor the use of modern biotechnologies, leaving the world community open to serious biosafety threats. […] they cite the lack of technical, policy and enforcement capacities in developing countries as ‘a potentially contributing factor to the spread of bioterrorism’ -- the deliberate release of naturally-occurring or human-modified bacteria, viruses, toxins or other biological agents.” (One World; 26May08) http://uk.oneworld.net/article/view/160556/1/
Summit town [Toyakocho, Hokkaido, Japan] fire dept to use new alert system
“The fire department responsible for Toyakocho, Hokkaido, where the Group of Eight summit meeting is to be held in July, has introduced a monitoring system intended to provide early warning of disease outbreaks, be they natural epidemics or the result of bioterrorism. […] The system analyzes the frequency of reported symptoms such as fever and diarrhea, which are possible indicators of an outbreak of new strains of influenza, bioterrorist attacks or food poisoning, by comparing it with past dispatch records.” (The Yomiuri Shimbun; 26May08) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080526TDY02303.htm
India not enforcing safety norms for GM crops: UN study
“India faces a huge risk because safety norms on genetically modified crops are not being enforced, says a UN study, adding that it also makes the country vulnerable to bioterrorism attacks. The study’s Melbourne-based lead author Sam Johnston told IANS from Bonn: ‘India still has a huge problem of biosafety enforcement. Many farmers are using genetically modified crops without government approval. For example, it was recently reported in The Hindu Business Line that 28 percent of area in Gujarat was planted with illegal GM crops.’ Citing the lack of technical, policy and enforcement capacities in developing countries as ‘a potentially contributing factor to the spread of bioterrorism’ - the deliberate release of naturally-occurring or human-modified bacteria, viruses, toxins or other biological agents - Johnston said: ‘If you don’t have the ability to monitor technology, the technology can be used for bioterrorism as you are not bio-secure.’” (Thaindian News; 28May08; Neena
MAF Biosecurity endorses UK animal health officials
“UK animal health officials have received a ringing endorsement from Barry O'Neil, deputy director general of MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and president of the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE. Answering a question about the risk of malicious release of animal diseases, he said it was an issue for countries with significant agricultural production and such ‘bioterrorism’ needed to be guarded against. ‘We do need to have disease surveillance in place to detect the unexpected, and I think the UK is very well placed on that.’" (Farmers Weekly Interactive; 27May08) http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2008/05/26/110617/maf-biosecurity-endorses-uk-animal-health-officials.html
Bioterrorist Attack: Fact or Fiction?
“While the potential devastation (in human lives) from an attack with a biological agent like Ebola virus or anthrax bacillus is much greater again there is no evidence of any effort to undertake such an attack in this or any other country. […] The point to all this is that by the end of the 2008 fiscal year the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will have spent $50 billion on defense against bioterrorism attacks. Let's assume for the moment that the biological weapons threat is more fantasy then fact, how much law enforcement and emergency response equipment would State and local police department have bought with that amount of your tax payer dollars? Need updated cruisers, computer, commutations systems and centers, or weapons and ammo for use on your beat? Fifty billion will buy a bunch of that stuff.” (Officer.com; 26May08; Doug Hanson)
Army aims to finish destruction of agent VX shells in Anniston [Alabama] today
“The Army expects to finish destroying 139,581 artillery shells containing the deadly chemical agent VX this afternoon at the chemical weapons incinerator at Anniston Army Depot, a spokesman said today.” (The Birmingham Times; 24May08; Katherine Bouma) http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2008/05/army_finishing_destruction_of.html
Searching for Project SHAD [Shipboard Hazard and Defense]: Vet's efforts lead to investigation, legislation
“Years after he left the military, Jack Alderson began asking questions about chemical testing he was involved in and its effects on his health and the health of others. Those efforts led to the introduction of a bill earlier this month that would offer health benefits to veterans exposed to chemical agents during two classified government projects in the 1960s and 1970s. North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg of Montana introduced HR 5954 on May 1. If passed, the bill will provide Veterans Affairs health benefits to veterans who were exposed to biological, chemical or other toxic agents as part of Project 112 and Project SHAD.” (Lake County News; 26May08; Elizabeth
Cornell fiber scientist receives federal grants to create fabrics to render toxic chemicals harmless
“[…] Juan Hinestroza is working with the U.S. government to create fabrics made of functional nanofibers that would decompose toxic industrial chemicals into harmless byproducts. Potential applications include safety gear for U.S. soldiers and filtration systems for buildings and vehicles. Hinestroza, assistant professor of fiber science in the College of Human Ecology, is a member of two teams that secured more than $2.2 million from the U.S. Department of Defense; about $875,000 will go directly to Hinestoza's work. Both grants are multi-university collaborative efforts funded through the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.” (Nano-Tech Wire;
China Quake also an Environmental Catastrophe
“Eleven days after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck western China, vice environment minister Wu Xiaoqing first revealed Friday, May 23, that 50 hazardous radioactive sources have been located – 35 recovered and controlled; ‘three more buried in rubble and 12 in dangerous buildings. At present, tests show no accidental release of radiation,’ he reported as the death toll climbed past 55,000. Two of the most badly damaged cities housed China’s secret nuclear weapons design facility - at Mianyang - and a plutonium processing facility - in Guangyuan – both close to the quake’s epicenter. Soon after the quake struck, Chinese soldiers were sent to protect nuclear sites and preparations made for an environmental emergency.” (St Louis Today; 24May08; Tim Kusky) http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/mother-nature-watch/mother-nature-watch/2008/05/china-quake-also-an-environmental-catastrophe/
High stakes in tale of a ‘contract killing that backfired'
“On August 2, 2006, Sharon Collins set up a Yahoo Mail account in the name of firstname.lastname@example.org. She sent an email from her own Eircom address to Lyingeyes the day it was created. Lyingeyes98 searched the net for contract killers and on August 8 sent an email to email@example.com. Hitman was also visited by someone using the computer at Downes and Howard. […] She said she had ‘no conscience’ about ordering her husband's death […] She suggested an accident for the two boys or poisoning their drinks in the local pub near their holiday home in Kilkee. […] It is alleged that at one stage the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] passed some information to gardai [An Garda Síochána, Republic of Ireland Police Force] which led them to search Essam Eid's cell. In that search, traces of the deadly poison, Ricin, were discovered in a contact lens case.” (Irish Independent; 25May08; Abigail Rieley) http://www.independent.ie/national-news/high-stakes-in-tale-of-a-contract-killing-that-backfired-1386457.html
When is a terrorist a terrorist?
“The definition of what constitutes a terrorist has exercised some of the best minds in history, but in answer to the question ‘When is a terrorist a terrorist?’ the current US President replies, ‘When I say so…’ Ok, he didn’t actually use those exact words, at least not in public, but he did say this about Saddam Hussein in 2006: ‘He was a state sponsor of terror. In other words, the (US) government had declared, you are a state sponsor of terror.’ […] Perhaps the most edifying example is the sale of WMD to Saddam by the US under Ronald Reagan to support his ambitions and keep Iranian fundamentalism at bay. Exports included biological agents such as anthrax, vital ingredients for chemical weapons, and cluster bombs - all delivered by a CIA front organisation in Chile… Obviously this was all well before Iraq’s psychopathic tyrant fell out of favour by invading Kuwait.” (Pakistan Daily; 24May08) http://www.daily.pk/world/europe/81-europe/3918-when-is-a-terrorist-a-terrorist-terrorist.html
Al-Qa'eda to urge biological warfare in new video message
“Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network is to post a new video in the next 24 hours urging jihadists to use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons against the West, the FBI has warned. The FBI has alerted 1,800 American law enforcement agencies about the expected video calling for the use of weapons of mass destruction, Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman, said. ‘We got information the tape is coming,’ said Mr Kolko. ‘We sent out an alert to law enforcement (agencies) to let them know.’” (Telegraph; 28May08; Tom Peterkin) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uncertain-world/2041499/Al-Qa'eda-urges-biological-warfare-in-new-video-message.html
EPA tests plans to protect water
“The pilot program ordered by the Department of Homeland Security in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks uses continuous monitoring of public water for contaminants that could sicken or kill millions of people. Some utilities only do spot checks now for such germs, pesticides or radioactive materials. […] ‘Water supplies are very, very accessible targets for biological or chemical weapons,’ said Donna Schlagheck, a Wright State University political scientist who specializes in American foreign policy and international terrorism. ‘There are so many potential targets - whether you are taking water from the ground or a river or a lake - and the vulnerability there is enormous.’” (Mojave Daily News; 25May08; Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press) http://www.mohavedailynews.com/articles/2008/05/25/news/nation/nation3.txt
Kiss American security goodbye
“Every police department from Arkansas to Ohio would be in desperate need of anti-terror funding. And why not, when the terrorists loomed so monstrously large, were so apocalyptically capable, and wanted so very badly to destroy our way of life? No wonder that, in the 2006 National Asset Database, compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, the state of Indiana, ‘with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.’” (Al-Jazeera; 26May08; Tom Engelhardt)
McCain Pledges to Work With Russians on Arms Control (Update1)
“Republican John McCain extended an olive branch to Russia today by pledging to work toward the elimination of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and to negotiate a new accord limiting strategic arms. McCain, who previously has warned of ‘Russian revanchism’ and called for the country's expulsion from the Group of Eight, said there are numerous areas where America can ‘work in partnership with Russia’ to halt the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.” (Bloomberg; 27May08; Hans
Israelis to receive new non-conventional warfare kits
“Gas-masks and other protective gear that has been collected from the public over the last few years and is being updated will be made available for collection starting January 2009. […] IDF officials that disclosed this information to The Jerusalem Post were careful to explain that the decision to begin handing out the equipment has not been affected by any threat of imminent war. […] At present, the Israeli public is virtually unprotected from any chemical or biological agents[…].” (Jerusalem Newswire; 25May08; Stan Goodenough)
Bomb disposal unit opened [New Zealand]
“The stars of the show are a dozen new robots considered the Ferarris of bomb disposal. They can be fitted with a shotgun to blow off door hinges, water cannons to destroy a bombs circuitry, a sniffer to detect chemical weapons and cameras to let the team know just what they are up against.”
(One News; 26May08)
CNS ChemBio-WMD 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.
Spc. Justin L. Buxbaum, 23, of South Portland, Maine, died May 26 in Kushamond, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood Texas.
The incident is under investigation.
For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.
Al-Qaida in Iraq Is On the Run, Officials Say
American Forces Press Service
May 27, 2008 - Al-Qaida terrorists in Iraq are being systematically hunted down and given little or no time to regroup as U.S. and Iraqi security forces tighten the noose, senior U.S. and Iraqi military officials said May 25 in Baghdad. Al-Qaida terrorists were ejected from Baghdad and its environs more than a year ago by the surge of U.S. and Iraqi forces, Navy Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll told reporters at a news conference. Driscoll was accompanied by Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al Askari.
"Recent improvements by the government of Iraq and the growing capability of the Iraqi security forces are improving security" across Iraq, Driscoll said. "Iraqi security forces are in the lead in Basra, Mosul and Sadr City."
Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, the home of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, sprawls across Baghdad's eastern sector. A continuing cease-fire agreement made between Sadr's militia and the Iraqi government has helped dampen violence in the formerly combustible area, where Iraqi security forces are now conducting security patrols.
Overall, Iraq has seen a significant reduction in violence, Driscoll told reporters. "In the past week, security incidents decreased to levels not seen since March of 2004," he said. In fact, insurgent attacks have declined by 70 percent since the surge of forces began in June, the admiral added. Nonetheless, Driscoll predicted "more hard fighting ahead" in Iraq as its citizens increasingly cooperate with government forces in efforts to smoke out terrorists and other criminals.
"As criminals and terrorists flee their hideouts, we continue to uncover large quantities of weapons in residential neighborhoods and public buildings," Driscoll said. Since the beginning of operations in Basra, he noted, Iraqi security forces have collected close to 270 caches of medium- and heavy-caliber ordnance.
Some of the most-lethal weaponry uncovered in Iraq in recent weeks is of Iranian manufacture, Driscoll said.
"Local residents who are tired of the violence and criminal activity are increasingly pointing out where these weapons are hidden," Driscoll said.
Besides Basra, he added, other large weapons caches are being discovered across Baghdad as well as in Mosul, to the north. Many al-Qaida members fled northward to Mosul as the surge took hold.
During a May 24 visit to observe reconstruction projects in the southern-Iraqi city of Najaf, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker avoided saying al-Qaida in Iraq is finished. Crocker did say, however, that al-Qaida in Iraq has "never been closer to defeat than they are now."
"Ambassador Crocker was right in his statement," Askari told reporters. "Al-Qaida in Iraq is being defeated." Citing recent intelligence data, the Iraqi general said al-Qaida is frustrated at its lack of operational success since the surge of forces took hold.
"They say that they cannot carry out the operations and they would like to find another place outside of Iraq," Askari said of information about al-Qaida in Iraq's present state of mind. "And this is due to the security gains and also the development of the Iraqi security forces and the [Iraqi] intelligence."
The citizens of Iraq's Ninevah province have risen up to drive al-Qaida out, Askari observed, which is "just like the people in Anbar [province] did." Any residual al-Qaida safe havens in Ninevah "will be eliminated" over time, he predicted.
Still, Driscoll said, al-Qaida in Iraq "remains a very lethal threat" that is being pressured by U.S. and Iraqi security forces.
"They've been put off-balance, and they're certainly on the run," Driscoll said of al-Qaida's situation in Iraq. "They no longer control large swaths of territory or they don't control cities, but they're still out there."
Al-Qaida in Iraq still is capable of conducting high-profile attacks as part of its desire to incite sectarian strife, Driscoll cautioned.
Driscoll noted that he and Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus share the same opinion regarding the current situation in Iraq. Petraeus, who carried out the successful surge strategy, has been selected by President Bush to be the next chief of U.S. Central Command.
"As General Petraeus has said, ... it's too early to pop the champagne bottle and celebrate victory," Driscoll emphasized, noting al-Qaida in Iraq still is active and looking for ways to make an impact.
"If we let up on them, they will come back," Driscoll predicted. "So, it's an ongoing effort."
Sgt. 1st Class Jason F. Dene, 37, of Castleton, Vt., died May 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident on May 24. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
The incident is under investigation.
For more information media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.
Spc. Christopher Gathercole, 21, of Santa Rosa, Calif., died May 26 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash.
For further information, media should contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005, or visit the following Website: http://news.soc.mil/ .
Iraqi Forces Learn Combat Camera Skills, Document Missions
May 27, 2008 - Iraqi security forces are taking "shooting" to a new level as they learn to use cameras in their quest to bring security and stability to their country. Over the past six months, some Iraqi special weapons and tactics teams and Iraqi special operations forces have been learning how to combat terrorism and insurgency through the use of imagery.
U.S. Army Maj. Joseph Peterson, civil-military operations officer of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula here, is a proponent of a new program to teach camera skills to Iraqi security forces.
"An active public communications outreach program provides a means for the government of Iraq's security forces to maintain credibility and legitimacy," Peterson said. "And, accurate and timely imagery is one important part of any effective communications program."
The first step in providing imagery to the Iraqi citizens is to teach the Iraqi security forces how to use a camera while on different types of operations.
U.S. Army Sgt. McCoy developed a combat camera course for the Iraqis and served as its first instructor. He adapted the 10-month curriculum he learned from the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md., and condensed it to a two-week program that can be used to teach Iraqi troops in the field.
McCoy recalled some of the challenges his students had with the camera and computer equipment in the beginning of the class. He explained that they were not very confident in their abilities at the beginning, but by the end of the course, they knew just what to do.
"They went from looking at a camera and wondering, 'What do you want me to do with this?' to holding the camera with confidence and saying, 'Let me show you what I can do with this,'" McCoy said. "To me, the overall knowledge they gained was impressive for 10 days."
McCoy's first class was with a Hillah special weapons and tactics unit, one of the more advanced SWAT units in the country. The unit is at a stage where its combat skills are advanced enough to introduce this new combat camera element to its missions, McCoy said.
Through the course, the students learned police photography functions, such as crime-scene photography, and how to do media outreach by taking video during missions and providing that video to the local media.
Three other SWAT units have completed the combat camera course and now are interfacing with the community through their new media-outreach capabilities.
McCoy added military elements of photography such as operational security, handling classified information and combat documentary photography to the basic elements of the course. He also provided instruction in teaching techniques and materials. As a result, one student instructed the first Iraqi-taught combat camera course, graduating seven members May 6.
"They were eager to learn everything they possibly could. They were really focused, [and they] paid attention," McCoy said. Seeing some of the work that other Iraqi special operations forces members had done helped motivate them, he added.
McCoy said he liked what he saw when the Iraqis applied their training during a real mission. "They did an outstanding job on their first mission," he said.
The first mission with combat camera-trained personnel was the liberation of the southern city of Basra in March. As the troops pushed through the city, a newly trained Iraqi combat cameraman documented every move the special operations forces made.
"Sometimes, the picture you take is how you feel inside," said Iraqi Col. Falah Hasan Khadhim, a brigade deputy commander in the Iraqi special operations forces, during the May 8 graduation ceremony.
"It could be a picture of nature or the scene of a battlefield. The camera has more effect than the gun. Our duty is to our country," he continued. "You are now fighting with two weapons: by your camera and by your gun."
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)
Troops Kill, Capture Militants, Destroy Weapons, Drugs in Afghanistan
May 27, 2008 - Coalition troops killed several enemy fighters, detained nine others, and destroyed caches of weapons and drugs in Afghanistan today, military officials said. During a coalition forces operation to disrupt anti-government operations in Paktia province, troops killed several militants and captured nine others.
An unknown number of enemy fighters engaged coalition troops who were searching several compounds in Zurmat district. Forces responded with small-arms fire and air strikes. The troops also seized and destroyed several rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and other equipment.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan today, coalition forces searched several compounds in the Garmsir district of Helmand province, targeting a Taliban leader involved with weapons smuggling and other operations in the area.
During the search, several militants engaged coalition forces, who responded with small-arms fire, killing the enemy fighters. Troops later discovered and destroyed a narcotics cache.
(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)
Face of Defense: Band Member Keeps Division Gym in Tune
By Army Spc. April Campbell
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 27, 2008 - Physical fitness is an integral part of every soldier's duties, and time available to accomplish this vital task is a valuable asset for the soldiers of Multinational Division Baghdad, who have an important mission at hand. For a soldier who plans on working out for and hour or two at the gym, spending that time standing around and waiting for a working machine can be frustrating.
Army Sgt. Jared Bargas, a Houston native who serves as the training noncommissioned officer in charge with the 4th Infantry Division Band, took it upon himself to ensure that fellow soldiers don't waste time waiting at the gym due to broken equipment.
The soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division Band are responsible for maintaining the division gym here, and Bargas has made many improvements to the well-used facility throughout the past month.
"A lot of people come through the division gym every day," said Army 1st Sgt. Jeremy Smelser, the band's senior enlisted leader.
With the constant use and high demand, it can be quite a chore to keep up the gym and ensure Ivy Division soldiers have a reliable place to conduct physical fitness training.
"Equipment gets broken," said Smelser, a native of Killeen, Texas. "It needs repair. Screws need to be tightened. Air conditioners get broken. Lights burn out. It's just a constant upkeep."
Going into the job, Bargas was not necessarily trained on how to repair workout machines. However, he demonstrated ingenuity and initiative in his efforts to fix up the gym. "Instead of allowing equipment to break and using the excuse of 'I'm not a mechanic,' he took it upon himself to fix the equipment," Smelser added.
Much of the work was accomplished through Bargas' willingness to simply find out what worked through trial and error. It was a learning process, and the results of his efforts are readily evident to soldiers who frequent the gym.
"By taking apart some of the bikes, I learned what's actually inside," Bargas said. "One of the electronic machines wouldn't turn on. I had no clue about electronics, but I just unscrewed the cover and blew some dust out. I put it back together, and then it worked."
For those areas where Bargas was unable to personally resolve the issue, he took the time to find the correct channels to facilitate the repairs.
He used his personal time to talk to contractors and set up appointments for them to replace air conditioners and install new lights. Bargas also went to the nearby morale, welfare and recreation gym and canvassed the assistance of technicians, who offered to help him repair the equipment.
His time at the gym is not always exclusively spent working. He said he takes advantage of the opportunity to be one of his own customers and enjoys working out on the equipment he helps to mend. Although he works in the gym once every eight days, he spends time there working out at the facility five to six times a week. Even when he is there as a customer, he said, he tries to ensure the equipment remains functional.
"I try to check all the equipment as much as possible and fix everything," he said. "It's personally satisfying when people come up to me and tell me the gym looks nice. I know they are thankful for the working equipment."
Senior leaders also took notice of Bargas' efforts. He was recently recognized as the 4th Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion's Player of the Week and received an Army Achievement Medal.
In the meantime, Bargas said, much of his efforts will be focused on maintaining the improvements he has already made.
As the Ivy Division soldiers continue their efforts to stay physically fit, they can rest assured knowing soldiers such as Bargas are working hard to give them the best possible conditions in which to do so.
(Army Spc. April Campbell serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)