Monday, June 30, 2008

Six Units Get Call for 2009 Iraq Deployment

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 30, 2008 - The Defense Department has alerted six combat units for deployment to Iraq from January to March 2009, officials said here today. Though the announcement identifies forces for the current level of effort in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, it does not try to predict decisions down the road.

"It's proper, prudent planning to give units the time to train and to ensure they are notified in a deliberate fashion and well in advance of when they would have to deploy," Whitman said.

The four
Army combat brigades and two Marine regimental combat teams cover about 33,000 personnel. These are normal rotation forces, and all of the units have the capability of performing full-spectrum combat operations.

Marine units notified today are Regimental Combat Team 8 and Regimental Combat Team 6, both based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Army units are the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st and 2nd brigade combat teams, based at Fort Hood, Texas; the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.; and 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Infantry Division.

The announcement for the 12-month deployments assumes a force level of 15 brigade combat teams in Iraq. "This is a planning effort for maintaining a 15-combat-brigade level," Whitman said.

"That doesn't mean decisions down the road couldn't affect this," he added. "You can always have units that redeploy earlier and deploy later. This is a planning effort to sustain the current level of operations."

The last surge brigade will leave Iraq by the end of July. Some 45 days later, officials in Iraq, U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon will assess conditions in Iraq "post-surge," Whitman said. Decisions after that review could affect deployments, he said.

Program Trains Auxiliary Police Officers in Afghanistan

By Navy Lt. Neil Myers
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 30, 2008 - A Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team program here trains Afghan men to become part of the Afghan National Auxiliary
Police force. The three-week Police Training and Advisory Team program was conducted at Camp Wright, near Asadabad, and is the only one of its kind in the province. The trainees come from every district in the province and are housed at the Asadabad police headquarters during their training.

"Many of the police trainees arrive at the ANAP course with poor discipline,"
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos A. Ramirez, of the Kunar PRT, said. "We teach them discipline through repetitive activities and specially designed physical exercise."

After physical exercise, the trainees attend classroom training led by one of three Afghan police officer instructors attached to the
Police Training and Advisory Team program.

Trainees learn
traffic accident investigation, weapons familiarization, domestic violence investigation, vehicle searches, community policing, explosives detection, the penal code, baton training, handcuffing, and a variety of other law enforcement skills.

"I think it's good to have our three Afghan teachers leading the lecture part of the training, because they speak the Pashto language, and about half of the trainees speak very little English,"
Navy Seaman Brian L. Boyd Jr. of the Kunar PRT said.

Police Training and Advisory Team military staff, assisted by four interpreters, teaches practical, hands-on training in the afternoon.

"Initially the trainees are reserved, due to the fact that for many, this is their first interaction with coalition forces," Boyd said. "Midway through the class, they interact more with us. By graduation, many of us are good friends. If we maintain this program, Afghanistan will improve, because these trainees want to become [Afghan National Police officers] and truly want their country to succeed."

The goal of coalition forces is to have Afghanistan secure and govern itself. Security is a big issue in Kunar province, and the
police play a huge role toward accomplishing that goal, PRT officials said, and the PTAT contributes to that effort by providing a steady pool of well-trained police officers who are ready to serve their country.

A typical auxiliary police candidate, 36-year-old Ali hails from the Shigal district. He is married and has seven children. Ali is eager to complete the training and eventually get hired by the Afghan National
Police at the end of his three-year auxiliary police contract. He has a positive attitude toward the coalition forces and understands they are here to help him rebuild his country, officials said.

The program also mentors police chiefs.

"We go to every district and survey the police station, meet with the police chief, and ascertain their needs," Ramirez said. "Whether it be facility improvements, more staff or equipment, the PTAT mentors and shows police chiefs how to properly coordinate assistance with other agencies for help run their stations. In some cases, PTAT provides assistance with building upgrades and repairs."

To date, PTAT has trained 290 auxiliary police officers, with 90 more candidates now enrolled.

Navy Lt. Neil Myers serves with the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team.)

Forces in Iraq Kill Enemy Fighters, Detain Suspected Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

June 30, 2008 - Coalition forces killed six enemy fighters and detained 22
terrorism suspects in operations over the past two days, military officials said. Using information gained from a May 21 operation, coalition forces conducted several operations yesterday targeting members of an al-Qaida in Iraq cell that operates in the Tigris River Valley, officials said.

Near Balad, coalition forces identified two suspected
terrorists in a vehicle. The driver ignored coalition forces' warnings to stop, including warning shots. Coalition forces engaged and killed both men and found a weapon and military-style assault vest in the vehicle, officials said.

During a second operation near Balad, coalition forces identified four suspected terrorists in another vehicle who also ignored coalition forces' warnings to stop. Perceiving hostile intent, officials said, the forces fired shots, stopping the vehicle. Explosives and ammunition in the vehicle ignited, burning the vehicle and killing the four men inside.

In Beiji, forces detained nine suspected
terrorists yesterday and three today. One of the detainees is suspected of providing safe houses for foreign terrorists who are responsible for attacks in the area.

In operations today:

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted man and another suspect allegedly tied to the al-Qaida in Iraq
terrorist group in Baghdad.

-- Forces detained a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq operative in Mosul after an operation that netted two suspected terrorists, propaganda materials and equipment used for forging documents, officials said. Coalition forces also captured a wanted man suspected of being a
leader involved in bombings and assassinations, and detained four additional suspects.

-- Coalition forces captured a man suspected of being an al-Qaida in Iraq cell
leader in the southern belt around Baghdad. The man allegedly provides suicide bombers for attacks.

In operations yesterday:

-- A Baghdad resident led Iraqi national police to a weapons cache. The cache contained homemade bombs, mortars, mortar fuses, mortar charges and pistols.

-- A tip by an Iraqi citizen led Iraqi soldiers to a house in Baghdad's Amarah district that contained a large weapons cache. Soldiers seized rocket-propelled grenades, bombs designed to pierce armored vehicles, surface-to-air missiles and bomb-making materials.

-- A national
police division reported confiscating about 150 weapons during a clearance operation in the Mashtal area of New Baghdad. The weapons included various rifles, machine guns and pistols.

-- The local "Sons of Iraq" citizen
security group reported a weapons cache in Adhamiya to Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers. Soldiers seized hand grenades and various ammunition rounds including rounds designed to pierce armor.

-- Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, along with Iraqi National
Police, seized terrorist paraphernalia in multiple locations in Baghdad's New Baghdad district. The combined forces seized rifles, license plates, a detonator, rocket-propelled-grenade propellant, an artillery shell, identification cards and bomb-making materials.

-- Sons of Iraq members in Baghdad's West Rashid district turned over a munitions cache to soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. The cache was wrapped in plastic and contained rockets, seven RPGs, RPG propellant sticks, and mortars.

In other news from Iraq, the Iraqi national
police received 82 Ford F-550 cargo trucks June 27. The Directorate of Interior Affairs arranged the transfer of the vehicles to the national police through the Iraqi security forces fund to speed up the development and capabilities of the national police force, officials said.

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

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died June 29 in Khosrow-E Sofla, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when their vehicle rolled into a canal. They were assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey M. Radamorales, 32, of Naranjito, Puerto Rico.

Master Sgt. Shawn E. Simmons, 39, of Ashland, Mass.

Sgt. James M. Treber, 24, of Imperial Beach, Calif.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information, media may contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005, or visit the following Website:

Guantanamo Detainee Charged for Role in USS Cole Attack

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 30, 2008 - A Saudi Arabian national being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been charged with planning and preparing for the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors and wounded 47 others, the Defense Department announced today. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was charged today in connection with the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the vessel as it awaited refueling in the Port of Aden in Yemen,
Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to the convening authority in the Office of Military Commissions, told Pentagon reporters today.

The chief prosecutor has recommended that the case be tried as a death-penalty case.

Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority, will review the case and determine which, if any, of the charges should be referred for trial by a
military commission, Hartmann said. If she refers the case for trial, Crawford must also decide if she will refer it as a capital case.

The Nashiri swearing brings to 20 the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay involved in the military commissions process, Hartmann said.

He noted that the military commissions process provides the accused several protections, including representation by a military counsel and a civilian counsel of his own choosing at no expense to the government. The protections, guaranteed by the
Military Commissions Act, ensure that Nashiri "receives a fair trial consistent with American standards of justice," Hartmann said.

Nashiri was charged today with conspiracy to violate the law of war, murder in violation of the law of war, treachery or perfidy,
terrorism, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, providing material support to terrorism and attempted murder.

Charges brought against Nashiri today claim he rented apartments and facilities near the Port of Aden to prepare for an attack, bought the boat and explosives used in the attack and arranged for two co-conspirators to launch the attack.

During the attack, two men dressed as civilians are alleged to have piloted what looked like a small, civilian garbage barge up to the ship. The two men allegedly made friendly gestures to crewmembers aboard the ship before detonating explosives hidden in their boat that blasted a 40-foot hole in the side of Cole.

Nashiri also was charged with participating in the unsuccessful attack on the USS The Sullivans as it refueled in the Port of Aden on Jan. 3, 2000, and for helping attack the French supertanker SS Limburg in the Gulf of Aden on Oct. 6, 2002. That attack left one crewmember dead and spilled about 90,000 gallons of oil into the gulf.

Nashiri was arrested in October 2002 in the United Arab Emirates and was under CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

Hartmann said the charges issued today result from an extensive investigation that brought together the intelligence and
law enforcement communities. "We'd rather do it right. We'd rather do it thoroughly. We'd rather do it fairly than quickly," he said.
If the Nashiri case goes to trial, Hartmann said the defense counsel will have the opportunity to argue points before the
military judge, including allegations that Nashiri was subjected to the "waterboarding" interrogation technique by the CIA. "The judge, just as in any matter of law, will make a final decision as to the validity of any piece of evidence," he said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman emphasized the Defense Department's commitment to "ensuring that both the process and the
military commissions proceedings themselves are as transparent as possible, within the bounds of security and safety."

The United States has used military commissions for war
crime trials since the Revolutionary War, he noted.

Enemy Neutralized in Iraq's Anbar Province, Colonel Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 30, 2008 - The enemy in the eastern portion of Iraq's Anbar province has been neutralized, the coalition commander in the area said today. Al-Qaida in Iraq still can launch occasional horrific attacks, but in Ramadi and Fallujah -- once strongholds of the terror group --
security is allowing the region to transfer to provincial Iraqi control, Marine Corps Col. Lewis Craparotta, the area's coalition commander, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing via satellite from Camp Fallujah today.

Still, the colonel said, coalition and Iraqi forces must remain vigilant, as al-Qaida wants to come back into the area. "Both cities have historical significance to the insurgents," he explained.

In an attack in Karmah last week, for example, an al-Qaida suicide bomber infiltrated a tribal
leader meeting. The explosion killed three Americans and 15 Iraqi leaders.

"We watch the enemy actions very closely," Craparotta said. "We work side by side with both the Iraqi
police and the Iraqi army to reduce the enemy's capabilities to execute these attacks, and to prevent them from re-establishing themselves in our area."
police and soldiers are full partners in the fight against al-Qaida, the colonel said.

"Yesterday, ... we sat down with the police and the army and talked about this incident in Karmah," he said, "and we decided there was a need to conduct an operation that ... was completed this morning."

Craparotta said he asked the Fallujah
police chief what he needed from the coalition to perform the mission. "He told me that he would just as soon I watch my students go out there and execute and that he was confident he could do it, and if I was available to provide a [quick-reaction force], that that would be enough," the colonel said.

While the events in Karmah are tragic, he said, they need to be taken in perspective.

In May and June, five other suicide-vest attacks and a car-bomb attack took place in Fallujah, he said, and Iraqi
police and soldiers minimized the effects of these attacks and prevented many more attacks. The police, in fact, have the lead in Ramadi and Fallujah, he added.

"The relationships that we have developed with the Iraqi
police have allowed us to reduce slowly our 24-hour presence [and] put them in the lead for most of the day-to-day operations," the colonel said. "There is mutual respect among the forces and a common goal: protecting the citizens. Both the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police leadership have certainly proven capable. They have risen to every occasion, and they have certainly earned the respect of the population."

Coalition experts continue to train the Iraqi security forces.
Military and police transition teams work with Iraqi units to hone their skills.

Security progress allows civilian agencies and the Iraqi government to step forward to improve the quality of life for the average Iraqi, Craparotta said. "We've assisted or are assisting the Iraqis with local governance, reconstruction, implementing the rule of law and generally trying to improve the quality of life for the citizens," he said. "Local governments are continuing to prosper, with mayors and city councils taking on more and more responsibility. And we expect that that will accelerate here, as we transition to provincial Iraqi control."

Anbar province will transfer to Iraqi control as soon as the sandstorm across the region subsides. The colonel said he expects that once the transfer occurs, more Iraqi government money will come into the province "so that they can really take advantage of that element of control that they'll gain after the ceremony."

The rule of law is settling into place, and small and mid-sized companies are beginning. Provincial authorities are learning the stresses and challenges of a democratic budgetary process.

"As with most budgets, I think there is always a desire for more," Craparotta said. "But this is ... the first year that we've been able to execute a budget."

Local officials are helping to draft next year's budget now. "We're picking up steam in the budget area and governance, and I think we're on the road to success," the colonel said.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

General Recounts 3rd Infantry Division's Iraq Deployment

By Pat Young
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 29, 2008 - While most people only read about history, the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division helped to make history during their 15-month deployment to Iraq, the division's commander said here June 27.
Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch had lunch with Savannah and Coastal Georgia new media at Club Stewart here and thanked them for their efforts in telling the division's story.

Lynch expressed his pride in and appreciation for the "Rock of the Marne" soldiers whose dedication and sacrifice helped secure and improve life for the Iraqi people, and he recognized the sacrifices and efforts of family members who supported his soldiers while they were deployed.

In Iraq, Lynch commanded Task Force Marne, which comprised about 20,000 coalition soldiers, 27,000 Iraqi soldiers and 47,000 Iraqi
police operating in an area the size of West Virginia.

"Our job, once we got over there, was to block the accelerants of violence into Baghdad, secure the population, and defeat sectarian violence," Lynch said, noting the effort was successful. When they first arrived, the general said, his soldiers were being attacked about 25 times a day. By the time the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters left, attacks were down to fewer than two a day.

The success of the "surge" strategy in Iraq is evident in the reduction of violence during the division's deployment, Lynch said. Total attacks decreased 89 percent, indirect fire attacks stopped, small-arms attacks saw an 88 percent decline, and roadside bomb attacks decreased 79 percent, he said.

The reduction in violence was accompanied by sharp declines in casualties, Lynch said. During the deployment, civilian casualties fell 95 percent, coalition casualties saw a 91 percent reduction, and forces casualties decreased 79 percent, the general said.

Lynch said that while the 3rd Infantry Division was there, the Iraqi people got tired of insurgent intimidation and violence and took action to prevent it. More than 36,000 Iraqis joined the "Sons of Iraq" citizen group in the Task Force Marne area of operations to help the security effort in their communities.

"The people of Iraq want what we want," Lynch said. "They want freedom from fear. They want to be able to send their kids to school. They want jobs, and they want to be able to go out to the market."

One of the reasons for the surge's success, he told the audience, was the decision to have most of the soldiers living and working at patrol bases in the Iraqi communities. Lynch said the response was positive, noting that when the Iraqi people saw the patrol bases being built, they had two questions: "Where are the soldiers going to stay?" and "How can we help?"

The new sense of security the people felt with the soldiers living among them led to improved cooperation from local citizens, the general added.

The shift in attitudes facilitated a transition for the soldiers from conducting combat operations to capacity-building, Lynch said, as they worked on projects to benefit employment and the economy and helped the local government further establish itself.

For example, the general said, Task Force Marne worked to develop more than 3,000 fish farms, to improve the flow of water in their area, and to revitalize the chicken-farming industry.

"We imported 90,000 chicken eggs from Holland," Lynch said. "We brought them into our area, built incubators so the chickens could hatch, and sent 90,000 chicks to the local poultry farmers so they could raise chickens and bring them to market."

Lynch attributed his soldiers' success to their dedication, commitment and belief they were making a difference. He said their commitment was evident when the division achieved its 12-month re-enlistment goal in just five months - an unprecedented accomplishment. And he noted that the soldiers were able to focus on their missions because they knew their families were being taken care of back home.

Although the mission was successful, Lynch said, it wasn't without cost, as 152 Marne soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice during the deployment. He said he will not forget their heroic actions, nor those of their brothers and sisters in arms. Lynch said he was continuously moved by the soldiers, who would come in for memorials, share their emotions, then turn around, put their body armor back on, and continue the mission.

Lynch said he was honored to work with the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division, and that although he would be turning over command in mid-July, he would continue to wear the Marne Division combat patch on his right shoulder in remembrance of their service together.

(Pat Young works in the Fort Stewart, Ga., Public Affairs Office.)

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died from wounds suffered June 26 near Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, when their convoy encountered improvised explosive devices, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew L. Hilton, 37, of Livonia, Mich., who was assigned to the 425th Infantry Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard, Selfridge, Mich.

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. McKay, 51, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition), New York Army National Guard, Jamestown, N.Y.

Spc. Mark C. Palmateer, 38, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition), New York Army National Guard, Jamestown, N.Y.

For more information on Hilton, media may contact the Michigan National Guard public affairs office at (517) 481-8140, or (517) 647-5338 after hours.

For more information on McKay and Palmateer, media may contact the New York National Guard public affairs office at (518) 786-4581, or (518) 786-4500 after hours.

Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Travis K. Hunsberger, 24, of Goshen, Ind., died on June 27 of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device while on combat patrol near Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

For more information, the media may contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at 910-432-3383 or after-hours at 910-303-1004.

Iraqi Forces Detain Suspect Linked to Rocket Attacks

American Forces Press Service

June 29, 2008 - Iraq's Baqubah Emergency Response Force detained a suspected al-Qaida member in Udaim, north of Baghdad, today. The response force conducted the operation to disrupt al-Qaida's movement and decrease the
terrorist organization's intimidation attacks on the local Iraqis in the Udaim River Valley area, officials said.

The detained man is believed to be part of a mortar and rocket cell that targets Iraqi security and coalition forces and local citizens, officials said.

During the operation, ground intelligence indicated that two buildings were rigged with homemade bombs and posed a threat to ground forces. The emergency response force cleared the buildings of all occupants before air support fire was requested to destroy the two structures.

In other operations today:

-- Coalition forces in Mosul captured a suspected al-Qaida agent and an additional suspected
terrorist. The agent is believed to have close contact with several al-Qaida senior leaders.

-- South of Sharqat, coalition forces detained a suspected
terrorist believed to be tied to a bombing network in the area.

-- Coalition forces conducted several operations in Baghdad using information from operations in the area yesterday. They detained five suspected
terrorists allegedly tied to the al-Qaida in Iraq network and confiscated propaganda materials.

In operations yesterday:

-- Coalition forces engaged and killed a man who drew a weapon when they entered a building during an operation targeting a leader of an al-Qaida propaganda cell in Baghdad. They engaged and killed another suspected terrorist when they perceived hostile intent from his failure to follow coalition forces' instructions, officials said. Six suspects were detained when they fled to nearby homes, including a man believed to be the targeted

-- During another operation in Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted man believed to conspire with al-Qaida leaders.

-- In Baghdad's Rashid district, members of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National
Police Division, found rockets, boxes of plastic explosives, homemade bombs, AK-47 assault rifles, rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, a 120 mm mortar round, rocket-propelled grenades, a PKC machine gun and a sniper rifle.

-- South of Mosul in Sharqat, two men refused to comply with instructions and warnings, including warning shots. Coalition forces engaged them, killing both. One was identified as a wanted terrorist who was part of a bombing network. Eight suspected
terrorists were detained in the same operation, including a wanted man who identified himself to coalition forces. Two others admitted to playing a role in the terrorist cell.

-- Southwest of Mosul in Bulayj, coalition forces captured a suspected leader in the network who is believed to have ties to al-Qaida senior

-- Iraqi and coalition forces observed an armed man on a roof in Kirkuk. The forces perceived hostile intent when the man quickly moved his weapon into a confrontational position. Iraqi and coalition forces engaged and killed the armed man.

In operations on June 27:

-- Coalition forces in Mosul captured an alleged leader of an illegal
terrorist "court," the third such suspected leader to be detained in the last three weeks. The suspect also is believed to oversee financial matters and the movement of suicide bombers. Two additional suspects were detained.

-- Iraqi soldiers with the 34th Brigade, 9th Iraqi
Army Division, seized a rocket-propelled grenade, a rocket tube and six AK-47 assault rifle magazines in Baghdad's Sadr City district.

-- In the same area, Iraqi soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi
Army Division, found munitions on the roof of a house. The cache included an RPG propellant charge, a flare pistol, a 7 mm pistol, body-armor jackets, a blasting cap with detonation cord, a video camera with cassettes, full AK-47 magazines, a sub-machine gun, a pistol holster, an AK-47 sight and an AK-47 flash suppressor.

-- Members of the same unit also found a bomb designed to pierce armored vehicles, an AK-47, a machine gun, three AK-47 magazines, night vision goggles, two grenades, body armor and detonation cord. Two hours later, members of the same unit seized a cache consisting of 120 mm mortar rounds, 60 mm mortar rounds, 82 mm mortar rounds, anti-tank missiles, anti-tank shells, a rocket launcher, mortar fuses, an AK-47 and rifles.

-- In Baghdad's West Rashid district, soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team found a sniper rifle, a PKC machine gun, PKC rounds, a bolt-action rifle, pistols, and pistol rounds.

-- In the Aamel neighborhood of Baghdad's Rashid district, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team discovered a sniper rifle, a PKC machine gun, a bolt-action rifle, pistols, rounds of PKC ammunition and rounds of pistol ammunition.

-- In Baghdad's Saydiyah community, soldiers from the 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi
Army Division, reported finding 60 mm mortar rounds. An explosive ordnance disposal unit responded to handle the munitions.

-- Also in Saydiyah, soldiers from the 64th Armor Regiment, attached to the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, discovered a munitions cache consisting of three RPGs altered to be remotely detonated during the search of a house. They also detained three suspected

-- Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraq Army Division, seized an AK-47, an MP-5, AK-47 magazines, night-vision goggles, two grenades, a set of body armor and six CDs belonging to a
criminal group in Baghdad's Sadr City district.

-- Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team seized 120 mm mortar rounds, 80 mm mortar rounds and 60 mm mortar rounds west of Baghdad.

-- Iraqi soldiers from the 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi
Army Division, found 60 mm mortar rounds in the West Rashid area of Baghdad.

-- Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team found AK-47s, a bolt-action rifle and an aviation helicopter breach kit in New Baghdad.

-- Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team found homemade explosive material in the Mansour area of Baghdad.

-- Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team found hand grenades, a smoke grenade, RPG boosters, an AK-47 assault rifle, AK-47 magazines, and 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition in Baghdad.

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

U.S. Ambassador Cites Positive Changes in Iraq

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

June 29, 2008 - Iraq is enjoying some substantial political, and economic progress in addition to better
security, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said during an interview on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" today. "As security has improved, the environment has changed for the better," Ryan C. Crocker from Baghdad. "That allows for compromises to emerge that simply were not possible before."

He pointed to better budget execution as one piece of evidence pointing toward Iraq's changes for the better, and also noted provinclial elections are coming up. "Those elections, in the latter part of this year, will be a very significant step," he said.

Crocker acknowledged that the United States' work in Iraq is not over when Candy Crowley, filling in for "Late Edition" host Wolf Blitzer, asked him about the increase in casualties in some areas since May.

"Overall, we have seen an improvement in the
security situation and a reduction in casualties, both Iraqi and American," Crocker said. "We're up against some resilient and determined enemies [who] have the capacity to hit back, and that's what we're seeing, both from al-Qaida and its allies and from Shiia militias."

While the enemy may be pushing back, the Iraqi government's response displays intolerance for these acts and a determination to reclaim their neighborhoods from the perpetrators, the ambassador said. Leadership response to a June 24 attack in Baghdad's Sadr City area aimed at district council members is a prime example, Crocker said.

On June 26, the council reconvened to hold the election that had been scheduled for the day of the attack and elected one of the members who had been wounded as its new chairman. It then denounced the attackers, publicly thanked the United States for its support, and extended sympathy to those affected by the attack, Crocker said.

"We've got more hard work in front of us," he said. "The fighting is by no means over, but clearly we are in a different and better place than we were even six months ago."

But while Iraqi
security forces are successfully taking Iranian-backed militias off the street in Basra, Sadr City and other areas around Iraq, Crocker said, he had no direct answer to whether there was Iranian activity in Iraq has decreased. But the channels remain open for talks among the United States, Iraq and Iran, however, he said.

"I think it's important to have that option," he said. "But also, it's important to have talks for a purpose, not just for the sake of having another session. We'll need to choose the timing when we think it will improve the situation [and] make some progress."

Until talks happen, Iraq and the United States will push forward on the current path, one that includes forging an agreement allowing U.S. servicemembers to remain in Iraq past the expiration of the U.N. Security Council resolution. The resolution expires at the end of the year.

The possibility of Iraq wanting the ability to prosecute U.S. personnel for
crime could be a stumbling block, however. Crocker outlined where the negotiations stand.

"We're negotiating a very broad set of issues with our Iraqi partners," Crocker said. "We're operating under some pretty fundamental principles. One of them is full respect for Iraqi sovereignty, Iraqi law and the Iraqi process.

"Neither we nor they will put anything into this agreement that would contravene those principles," he continued. "At the same time, we do have to have the necessary precautions and authorizations for our forces to do what they need to do to support Iraq."

Though work remains to be completed in Iraq, Crocker said, he is certain the climate is in place for Iraqis to build their country on all fronts --
security, political and economic.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- June 27, 2008

Avalanche Photodiodes Target Bioterrorism Agents
“Researchers have shown that a new class of ultraviolet photodiode could help meet the U.S.
military's pressing requirement for compact, reliable and cost-effective sensors to detect anthrax and other bioterrorism agents in the air.” (Medical News Today; 27June08)

Viruses rewritten
“A gene by any other name is not quite the same, and scientists could exploit that fact to develop new vaccines for viral diseases, research suggests. By ‘misspelling’ the genetic code of the virus that causes polio so that the virus still reproduced but did so a thousand times slower than normal, researchers created a weakened version of the virus that trained mice’s immune systems to fight off the real one.” (Science News; 26June08; Patrick Barry)

CDC faces challenge of aging work force
“More than a quarter of workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in
Atlanta — and more than a third of its medical officers — will be eligible to retire in the next five years. Replacing them will be difficult because of a national shortage of public health professionals, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution; 27June08; Alison Young)

NEOUCOM [Northeastern
Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy], KSU [Kent State University] get bioterrorism grant
Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy and Kent State University have been awarded $6.7 million for the continued development and commercialization of a real-time pathogen detection instrument.” (Vindy; 27June08)

Smiths Detection Launches Smart Trigger For Biological Agent Detection
“Smiths Detection, part of the global
technology business Smiths Group, announced the launch of SmartBio™ Sensor (SBS), a real-time detector for biological agents or airborne toxins. SBS provides a visual or audio alarm when a bio-threat is detected and classifies the agent by threat category.” (Medical News Today; 27June08)

Arthur Galston, botanist, died on June 15th, aged 88
“If you had asked him, on one of his visits to Vietnam in those years, whether Agent Orange was directly responsible for the sarcomas, lesions and deformities, he would have replied, like the careful scientist he was, that it was hard to make a connection solid enough to stand up in a court of law. But three things he was sure of. First, Agent Orange had caused ‘an ecological disaster’ that might take decades to repair. Second, its use contravened the Geneva protocols against chemical and biological warfare. And third, he had a responsibility to speak, because this agent of horror was partly his child.” (The Economist; 26June08)

Iran: US should disarm chemical weapons
"‘The Islamic Republic of Iran is a main victim of chemical warfare as Iraq attacked the country for eight years using weapons of mass destruction. Iran expects the international community to bring war
criminal to justice and force major powers, including the US and the occupying regime of al-Quds [Jerusalem], to take practical steps in fulfilling their international obligations, particularly concerning chemical disarmament,’ reads a statement released Friday by Iran's Foreign Ministry.” (Press TV; 27June08)

Hanford Nuclear Services, Inc. (HNS) to sell US Patent 6805815, Unique ‘Dirty Bomb’ Cleanup Polymer
“Hanford Nuclear Services, Inc. (HNS), a leading research and advisory firm for the nuclear and environmental industries, announces the sale of US Patent 6805815, ‘Composition For Shielding Radioactivity’ through a website that offers access to patent, test data, an applications presentation, and portable deployment system information (” (STL Today; 25June08)

N. Korea declares nuclear program, but what's next?
“The Bush administration hailed North Korea's declaration of its nuclear program as a success for the multilateral diplomacy it engaged in through the Six Party Talks with South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. […] But as important as what the document says is what it doesn't say. There is no mention of how many weapons North Korea has or where they are hidden. Nor did North Korea admit to a suspected uranium enrichment program or what nuclear secrets it may have shared with Syria. Both issues are reduced in the declaration to ‘concerns’ which Pyongyang promises to address down the road.” (CNN; 27June08; Elise Labott)

Ensuring public safety
“Interpol is the world's largest international
police organization, with 186 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime. Terrorism poses a grave threat to individuals' lives and national security around the world. Interpol has therefore made available various resources to support member countries in their efforts to protect their citizens from terrorism, including bio-terrorism; firearms and explosives; attacks against civil aviation; maritime piracy; and weapons of mass destruction.”
(The New Nation; 27June08)

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.

Largest Public Works Substation Opens in Baghdad

American Forces Press Service

June 27, 2008 - Iraqi
security forces, civic leaders, local townspeople and coalition forces gathered in the Ameriyah community in Baghdad's Mansour district June 25 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to acknowledge the opening of the biggest public works substation in the Iraqi capital. Public works substations provide essential services to local communities, such as trash pickup, street cleaning and other services necessary for proper community maintenance.

The opening of the Ameriyah substation marks an important milestone for residents of this area, who have not had these services in more than two years.

"These basic services used to be centralized into only one station located in the eastern Mansour district of Baghdad, creating a deficit in other parts of the city," said
Army Col. Louis Fazeka, part of the provincial reconstruction team embedded with the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Multinational Division Baghdad.

"The focus of this mission has been to 'decentralize' and make substations throughout western Baghdad, making these services more readily available to those neglected parts of the city," Fazeka explained.

The colonel said that he hopes, in time, that these stations will aid in Ameriyah's security and stability by restoring the confidence of the people in their government.

"These people want these basic essential services that you and I take for granted back home," Fazeka said. "It boosts the peoples' confidence in the government."

With the help of contractors, the PRT went to work and cleaned up the area where the substation now stands, leveled the ground, fixed up the run-down house there and put concrete T-wall barriers around the lot to increase security for the workers and the equipment.

The project took 45 days to complete.

"This station has brought life back to 15,000 residents due to the reinstatement of these services," said Salwan Talal Latif, Iraqi public works assistant zone director, and a 30-year resident of Ameriyah.

"Seven months ago, we were hiding in our houses in fear for our lives," he continued. "But thanks be to God, ... all aspects of fear that we had [are] in the past, and our lives are open now, and so are our opportunities."

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

Civil Affairs Projects Help to Rebuild Afghan District

By Army Pvt. Tamara Gabbard
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 27, 2008 - The Kapisa and Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team
civil affairs leader visited a few local villages in the Kohe Safi district June 24 and met with Community Development Council representatives. The CDC, a body of elected villagers, is given special training to learn how to allocate funds and pick projects that are needed in each village.

The National Solidarity Program funds the projects through Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development.

"The outreach that was involved in this mission was to get to meet some of the CDCs from nine of the targeted villages in the Kohe Safi district," said
Army Capt. Steve H. Kaiser, civil affairs leader for the Kapisa and Parwan PRT. "With the information gathered, we will start a Quick Impact Project."

The QIP involves calculating how many families are in a village to determine the amount of the grant per project. This helps with reaching out to more villagers, which gives capability to build cultural enhancements, Kaiser explained.

"Being able to meet some of these CDCs for the first time, and get their names and pictures, was a real breakthrough," he said. "These villages are important, because we do not want them to become a safe haven for the enemy."

The ability to interact with villagers creates a sense of
morale for villagers and builds trust. Working with the CDCs also lets PRT members establish personal relationships with the villagers, Kaiser said.

"We want [Afghans] to know that we are here to help, not be part of the problem," he said.

Army Pvt. Tamara Gabbard serves with the 382nd Public Affairs Detachment.)

Coalition Forces Kill One, Detain 11, Find Weapons in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

June 27, 2008 - Coalition forces killed one militant, detained 11 suspected
terrorists and found numerous weapons caches during recent operations in Iraq, military officials said. Coalition forces captured five suspected terrorists in separate operations today in Taji, Biaj and Anbar province.

Intelligence gathered from a June 14 operation resulted in U.S. troops detaining three suspected al-Qaida operatives in Taji. Another suspected
terrorist was captured in Biaj, about 80 miles southwest of Mosul, for allegedly harboring terrorists, officials said.

In Anbar, coalition forces arrested one man for his alleged association with an al-Qaida cell. The cell is believed to be responsible for a bombing yesterday that killed three U.S. Marines and 20 Iraqi sheiks, officials said.

In operations yesterday:

-- Coalition forces killed one terrorist, detained three others and found weapons during operations about 60 miles south of Mosul in Sharqat. The individuals are believed to be connected to a terrorist bomb cell
leader in the area. Some of the weapons discovered were high-powered rifles, a machine gun, hand grenades, pistols and explosive-triggering devices, officials said.

-- U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division captured three suspected terrorists, including an Iranian-backed "special groups" cell
leader, in Baghdad's Rashid district. The suspects allegedly are responsible for numerous attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in the area, officials said.

-- Soldiers from the 1st Iraqi
Army Division uncovered several weapons caches during operations in Baghdad's Sadr City district. They found 19 artillery rounds, four rocket-propelled grenades, four AK-47 assault rifles, two roadside bombs designed to pierce armor-hulled vehicles, two sniper rifles and various bomb-making materials, officials said.

-- U.S. and Iraqi forces confiscated multiple weapons caches during operations northwest of Baghdad and in the New Baghdad district. They found more than 25 various rifles and machine guns, three mortar rounds, three anti-tank mines, a rocket-propelled grenade, a surface-to-air missile and bomb-making materials, officials said.

-- Iraqi soldiers operating in Diyala province found more than 1,000 pounds of explosives, 10 anti-tank mines, four rockets, three homemade bombs and various bomb-making materials, officials said.

-- Tips from local civilians led U.S. troops from the 10th Cavalry Regiment and the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team to discover a weapons cache in western Baghdad's Ameriyah neighborhood. The cache contained 122 mortar rounds, 17 rocket-propelled grenades, eight rockets, three sniper rifles, a machine gun, TNT explosives, mortar tubes and various bomb-making materials, officials said.

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

Marines in Afghanistan Disrupt Taliban's Freedom of Movement

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
American Forces Press Service

June 27, 2008 - The 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines are disrupting the Taliban's freedom of movement in Afghanistan's Helmand and Farah provinces, the battalion's commander said today. "We expected that we were going to experience a lot of friction by the enemy,"
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Richard D. Hall told online journalists and bloggers in a teleconference, noting that until the 1st Marine Division unit arrived, Taliban operatives and other militants could operate as they pleased.

"We're disrupting that, and they don't like it," Hall said, "so they've been trying to come after us because of that."

He praised his Marines' fighting spirit, calling them "some of the very best of America."

"Their heart is absolutely unbelievable," Hall said. "When I have gone to the hospital to visit some of the wounded with the intent of cheering them up, bolstering their confidence, the exact opposite occurred. Their spirit was so great that I had shivers going through me after talking to these men. Their primary concern was ... 'How are the guys doing, ... and when can I get back?'"

Hall acknowledged that local
police hadn't been effective, but said the focused district development police training program under way in Afghanistan will turn that around.

"What we're currently experiencing right now is a lot of change, and it's a good change," he said. "In a lot of the 2/7's districts, we have some positive things going on where previously they had relatively well-trained
police -- but not mentored and certainly under the influence of corruption -- now about to be replaced with trained and respectable police."

Focused district development is an Afghan Interior Ministry initiative designed to improve policing in the country, district by district. It was developed by Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan officials to address issues of inadequate training, poor equipment and corruption, which made it difficult for the
police to provide public safety and internal security.

"We have a couple of districts that are going through the transfusion of previously untrained police, sending them to a six- or eight-week training package and then reinserting them back into their district as trained and mentored
police," Hall said. "We have several of our districts that are well under way. We have almost 300 police that are currently undergoing training right now, and we have another district that's about to receive its first group of trained police back into the district and to swap out with the placeholders there."

Highly trained Afghan national civil order police work in the districts while the local police are trained at regional centers. When the local
police return, mentoling teams help them apply their training.

The increase in violence in their area is tied primarily to the Marines' operations, Hall said, explaining that that the Taliban aren't so much increasing their level of activity as much as the Marines are interdicting and disrupting their operation.

"Whether they're been trained and mentored for some time or they've just recently returned to their district, we are showing [the Afghan police] that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with them," Hall said. "That has given them a lot of confidence."

He added that the Taliban are ostracizing themselves in the villages where 2/7 operates.

"[They] are separating themselves from the people, because they are indiscriminately killing innocents," he said. "And they've shown that multiple times, with their suicide bombing right in the midst of the civilian population at a tremendous toll to civilians, not just our Marines."

The 2/7 has lost 10 men since assuming its current mission. Hall noted that one of those 10 was his interpreter, whom he considered one of his men.

"Although they're Afghans, they're still my people, so I feel the same about them since we work side by side and we are here for them," he said.

Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media Directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reports Detail Progress in Afghan Security, National Forces

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

June 27, 2008 - A pair of Defense Department reports published today on Afghanistan describe progress with regard to the country's
security and national forces. The studies, which analyze results of Operation Enduring Freedom through March, were mandated by Congress and represent the first installment of what are slated to be semi-annual progress updates.

The Report on Progress Toward
Security and Stability in Afghanistan depicts a "fragile" security environment in much of the country. It concludes, however, that coalition forces' counterinsurgency approach has demonstrated how a hybrid of military and nonmilitary resources can create stability and connect Afghan citizens to their government.

Underscoring the fragility of situation in Afghanistan and its tendency for rapid change is the fact that some of the report's assertions about security success -- based on information available several months ago and earlier -- no longer are as solid as once believed.

For instance, the report highlights Khowst province in eastern Afghanistan as an example of a once-troubled region transformed by counterinsurgency operations.

"Khowst was once considered ungovernable and one of the most dangerous provinces in Afghanistan," the report states. "Today, tangible improvements in security, governance, reconstruction, and development are being made."

But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday expressed concern that attacks in NATO's Regional Command East section of Afghanistan, which includes Khowst province, rose 40 percent from January to May.

Gates, in a news conference yesterday, attributed the rise in violence to militants using Pakistan's North West Frontier Province as a staging ground for launching attacks in Afghanistan. But the report does not identify threats emanating from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region -- which Gates called a recent phenomenon -- as a primary
security challenge.

Challenges outlined in the report include the
narcotics trade and the Taliban. These militants regrouped after their fall from power and have coalesced into a resilient insurgency, according to the report, which notes a rise in insurgent violence in 2007. More that 6,500 people died as a result of suicide attacks, roadside bombs and combat-related violence, it said.

Despite coalition success in combating them, Taliban operatives are likely to maintain or even increase the scope and pace of
terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008, the report concludes.

"The Taliban will challenge the control of the Afghan government in rural areas, especially in the south and east," it states. "The Taliban will also probably attempt to increase its presence in the west and north."

The security report credits a plus-up of U.S. forces over the spring with reinforcing Afghan and international forces' momentum, and for enabling the Afghan national security forces to grow quickly – from 70,000 to 80,000
army personnel by 2010.

Meanwhile, the report states, the deployment of a U.S.
Marine Corps Marine Air Ground Task Force is bolstering the ability of NATO's International Security Assistance Forces to maneuver troops in Regional Command South.

The other security and stability highlights outlined in the report are:

-- The Afghan National
Army had taken the lead in more than 30 significant operations at the time of the report, and the force has demonstrated increasing competence, effectiveness and professionalism.

-- Since 2001, Afghanistan has made significant progress rebuilding its national political institutions. Afghans wrote and passed a new constitution in 2004, 8.1 million people voted in the nation's first presidential election, and 6.4 million voters helped reestablish the National Assembly after 32 years without a legislature.

-- The gross domestic product, per capita income and foreign direct investment all are up since 2001. Afghanistan's domestic revenues have grown considerably, and international reserves have nearly doubled since 2004.

Key points from the report titled, "United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces" include:

-- The capabilities of the Afghan National
Army are improving steadily, with a long-term army posture that also may include a more robust army air corps capability and a larger force.

-- The Afghan National
Police force is making steady progress, but its capabilities still lag behind those of the national army. The current police force has not been sufficiently reformed or developed to a level at which it can adequately perform its security and policing mission; however, coalition governments are working to improve the police capabilities, with a target force size of 82,000 personnel.

-- An independent, capable army and
police are critical to counterinsurgency effort, thus it is crucial that coalition partners dedicate the necessary resources and personnel to ensure that the mission to develop the Afghan national security forces is a success.

Officials Identify Mosul al-Qaida Leader Killed in Recent Operation

American Forces Press Service

June 27, 2008 - A
terrorist killed during a June 24 operation in Mosul, Iraq, has been positively identified as the city's top al-Qaida in Iraq leader, military officials here reported today. Officials said coalition forces killed Abu Khalaf, the al-Qaeda in Iraq "emir" of Mosul.

In the operation, coalition forces engaged and killed a man who was reaching for a pistol, another who was wearing a suicide vest, and a woman who tried to detonate the dead man's suicide vest. Associates later identified Abu Khalaf as one of the men killed in the operation.

As coalition forces were taking down the terrorist
leader, officials said, they also were moving in on one of his suspected closest assistants, detaining him and uncovering more than $100,000 in U.S. currency.

Abu Khalaf previously had been a deputy and Mosul
military commander for a close associate of former al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a June 2006 coalition bombing raid. He rose through the ranks to become the terror organization's overall chieftan in Mosul.

In that capacity, officials said, he met with senior al-Qaida in Iraq l
eaders in Mosul and Jazeera, coordinating and ordering dozens of attacks against Iraqi citizens, Iraqi forces and coalition forces.

Information gleaned from associates in custody revealed that Abu Khalaf often traveled with foreigners, and associates identified the suicide-vest-wearing man killed with him as Abu Khalud, a Syrian who was a longtime close associate of the Mosul
terrorist leader, officials said.

"With the declining morale [among al-Qaida in Iraq operatives] and paranoia within their ranks, Abu Khalaf's death and loss of funds will severely impact their
terrorist operations," Navy Lt. David Russell, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

Marine Casualties

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

The following Marines died June 26 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq:

Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Capt. Philip J. Dykeman, 38, of Brockport, N.Y.

Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme, 23, of North Miami Beach, Fla.

The Marines were assigned to 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

For additional background information on these Marines, news media representatives may contact the Marine Corps Base Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8840/70.

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Joshua L. Plocica, 20, of Clarksville, Tenn., died June 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died June 25 in Mosul, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device on June 24. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Sgt. Alejandro A. Dominguez, 24, of San Diego, Calif.

Spc. Joel A. Taylor, 20, of Pinetown, N.C.

Pfc. James M. Yohn, 25, of Highspire, Pa.

For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died June 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from a bomb blast.

Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer Robert C. Hammett, 39, of Tucson, Ariz., who was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Maj. Dwayne M. Kelley, 48, of Willingboro, N.J., who was assigned to the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Green Bay, Wis.

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

For more information on Kelley, media may contact the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command at (910) 432-7241; after hours (910) 432-7714.

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Bryan M. Thomas, 22, of Lake Charles, La., died June 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Salman Pak, Iraq, when his patrol encountered small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

The Department of Defense announced June 25 the death of Capt. Gregory T. Dalessio, who was killed in the same incident.

For more information media may contact the U.S. Army, Europe, public affairs office at 011-49-6221-57-5816 or 8694, or email: .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Home-Front Support is Key to Success, Soldier Says

By Jamie Findlater
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 26, 2008 - Support from their fellow citizens is vital to the success of servicemembers fighting the
war on terror, a soldier who earned the Bronze Star Medal in Iraq said today. "Support means everything," Army Staff Sgt. John Aughtman saidin an interview on the "ASY Live" program on BlogTalkRadio. "A letter, a care package, a telephone call, a visit, a blanket -- anything means everything."

"ASY Live" is part of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad. As a squad
leader, Aughtman earned the Bronze Star Medal for his leadership after an attack in Tikrit. He cared for his soldiers and led them to safety before taking care of his own injuries. He has served three combat deployments, and plans to go back.

"I've had some good times and bad times, and I can't wait to get back in," he said.

Aughtman talked about his time being deployed before his injury, and emphasized the importance of support organizations that helped to keep him connected to what was going on back home.

"The home-front groups go above and beyond, doing great things for us," he said. "It may not be a lot, but it is something when they are far away from home."

In particular, Aughtman said, care packages, letters from people around the country and notes from elementary school children really warmed his heart. "They would send care packages and movies around the holidays – it kind of warms you up when you get something like that and have been deployed for awhile," he said.

On April 22 2007, the day he was injured, Aughtman was on a routine patrol returning to his forward operating base when his vehicle was struck by a grenade. He was knocked unconscious for about a minute and a half.

"When I woke up," he said, "I started testing the other soldiers for injuries, and I found that one soldier had shrapnel wounds to about 90 percent of his right leg and one soldier had internal injuries." Without hesitation, Aughtman treated the soldier with the shrapnel wounds and kept the other soldier conscious before deciding to get back to the forward operating base on a "self-medevac" to get attention for his own injuries.

Although many would agree that Aughtman is a hero, he doesn't view himself that way. "I am just doing my job and doing what I am supposed to do. ... The men to your left and right are going to do anything and everything to help you out as long as you do the same," he said. "I lost a friend in Iraq. "He paid the ultimate sacrifice and is a true hero."

While recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here, Aughtman received a wide variety of care and support that he credits with assisting in his speedy recovery.

"I received blankets clothes, money, letters everything you think you would need while you are in the hospital," he explained. "One group gave us a credit card to buy clothes, because we didn't have any when we had to self-medevac. Another group gave me a handmade quilt that is very nice and warm.

"The thing that stands out the most," he continued, "were the people at Walter Reed. They came around every day to check on me and talk to me and see how I was doing. They were just there to talk and make the experience a little better."

To support groups that work tirelessly to provide for servicemembers, Aughtman had words of encouragement to offer. "Continue your support, and don't forget about us," he said.

(Jamie Findlater, host of "ASY Live," works in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Marine Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Strickland, 25, of Labelle, Fla. died June 25, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

News media representatives with questions about this Marine may contact the 1st Marine Logistics Group public affairs office at (760) 725-5043.

NATO's Long-Term Relevance Hinges on Afghanistan, Mullen Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 26, 2008 - NATO's long-term relevance will be tied directly to success in Afghanistan, and the slower NATO moves to ensure that success, the longer it will take to achieve, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told about 200 students at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies he's "desperate to get more capability" out of NATO. He said it's critical that NATO lives up to its commitments to the alliance's International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The biggest need, Mullen said, is for trainers for the Afghan National
Army and Afghan National Police and advisors to help the Afghan ministries develop capacity. And every day those requirements go unfulfilled, he said, stretches out the timeline for Afghanistan to reach self-sufficiency.

"The slower we are at doing this – and we are pretty slow – the longer it is going to take," Mullen said. "And it is going to take a long time in Afghanistan."

Mullen is expected to continue pressing NATO members to step up their contributions in Afghanistan at a NATO
Military Committee chiefs of staff session in Brussels, Belgium, tomorrow,.

Earlier this year, President Bush approved what he stressed would be an "extraordinary, one-time" seven-month deployment of about 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan. Those Marines, from the 24th
Marine Expeditionary Unit and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, have had "an extraordinary impact," Mullen told the Joint Staff during a June 23 Pentagon town hall meeting.

But Mullen emphasized yesterday that the U.S.
military simply doesn't have the manpower to keep trying to cover the shortfall.

"The simple math is that I can't put any more forces in Afghanistan until I come down in Iraq," he told the group. He noted that initiatives to "grow" the
Army and Marine Corps will take two to three years to develop deployment-ready troops. Meanwhile, U.S. troops are "pressed very hard" from multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, with too little tim" at home stations between deployments. Mullen said keeping up the current operational tempo for the long term will be impossible.

The chairman cited politics, economy and
security as critical to Afghanistan's success, and said Afghanistan needs long-term help in building that "three-legged stool."

"They have to be linked. But you have to work each one of those legs to link them," he said. "That's why ... we say this is a long haul, and we need help. We need countries stepping forward to do this."

Mullen told students at the Marshall Center that he finds it difficult to understand why some NATO countries don't share the deep concern the United States and other alliance members have about the situation in Afghanistan.

"It is very clear to me that those who live in Europe see [the terrorist threat] differently from those of us in the United States," he said. Why Europe "isn't more excited about what's going on there than those of us in the United States," Mullen said, is a question to which he doesn't know the answer.

Afghanistan, where NATO leads the ISAF effort, is "at the heart of NATO right now," he said. "And I believe that whether NATO is going to be relevant in the future is tied directly to a positive outcome in Afghanistan. And we've got a lot of work to do there, [and] some significant challenges."

Mullen spent most of the day at the Marshall Center, which opened in 1993 to promote dialog and understanding among nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia. He met with students halfway through the 12-week Program in advanced
security studies, and others wrapping up the five-week program on terrorism and security studies.

Mullen noted that many of the students will go on to become
leaders in their country's militaries and governments, as one prime minister, three defense ministers, nine defense chiefs, four foreign affairs ministers, some 30 other ministers, 56 Parliament members and 82 ambassadors already have.

When they do so, Mullen urged them to apply the lessons learned at the Marshall Center and to return in the future to help educate the next class of students who will follow in their footsteps.

"We need great
leadership for as far as I can see into the future," Mullen told them, "because I also see nothing but challenges."