Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama Kicks Off Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 30, 2009 - "On your mark. Get set. Go!" With those words and the wail of an air horn he held overhead, President Barack Obama today kicked off the third annual "White House to Light House" Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride. About 40 wounded warriors got a presidential send off at the White House today as they launched a three-day bicycle ride to show the world and themselves what they're still capable of accomplishing.

Flanked on the White House's South Lawn by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Obama heralded the "heroes among us" as he recognized their service, sacrifice and inspiration.

Newly confirmed VA Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Tammy Duckworth, who lost two legs and had her arm severely wounded while deployed to Iraq with the Illinois Army National Guard, also participated.

With a military band playing from the second-floor, Harry Truman Balcony, the wounded warriors – many with prosthetic legs or arms – emerged from the White House in red, white and blue racing jerseys to take their places on their bikes.

A crowd of several hundred fellow military members and family members erupted into cheers and applause.

Gates opened the event, praising the riders who along with their comrades "have paid a steep price on behalf of their country."

The president noted that the riders have served "with extraordinary bravery" and saved lives through their service.

Now recovering from their wounds, they're continuing to demonstrate courage and strength. "Now they choose to prove that life after injury isn't about what you can't do," Obama told the group. "It's about what you can do."

The president encouraged anyone who sees the riders as they travel from Washington to Annapolis over the next three day to render them the recognition they deserve. "Cheer. Salute. Say 'thank you,'" he said.

After Obama sounded the air horn to kick off the ride, the cyclists whizzed by him, waving as they made a loop around the asphalt trail that rings the South Lawn.

From there, the riders were slated to bike from the White House to Arlington National Cemetery before attending a reception tonight on Capitol Hill. After two more days of riding, they will conclude their ride in Annapolis.

The ride is the first of 14 scheduled across the country as part of the 2009-2010 Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride National Tour.

Obama noted today that Chris Carney, a young bartender on Long Island, N.Y., came up with the idea of the Soldier Ride to raise money and awareness for returning and wounded troops.

Carney conducted the first soldier ride in 2004, when he pedaled cross country in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. Other combat-wounded veterans joined him the following year, and the program continued growing. It switched format in 2007, with seven regional rides across the country that offered more opportunity for more participants to join.

The ride is sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project as a rehabilitative cycling program that provides the first steps in combat-wounded veterans' healing.

Month of the Military Child has Deeper Meaning for Wounded Warrior Families

By Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Clifton
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 30, 2009 - The road to recovery for a wounded soldier can be long and difficult, but with the help of Army medicine and the love of military spouses and children, that road is shorter and smoother. For some soldiers who use the Warrior Family Support Center here, their sons and daughters have played an instrumental role in their recovery as wounded veterans.

Soldiers and their families use the center at no cost to them while they receive care at Brooke Army Medical Center here. Through peer and community support and recreational activities, the center provides a high-quality setting for the whole family as they return to normal life.

Reestablishing family responsibilities is critical to the recovery of many soldiers. At least 1.7 million American children have at least one parent serving in the military with an estimated 900,000 of those with parents who have deployed multiple times overseas.

On April 29, Army Secretary Pete Geren expressed his personal appreciation to a group of children of wounded warriors at the center.

"The Army is asking a lot of you all and I hope that we are doing everything we can to help you and your parents," Geren said.

Abby Smith, 10, the daughter of Spc. Jourdan Smith, an infantryman who served with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division of Fort Lewis, Wa., knows first-hand the hardships family members can face supporting their wounded warriors.

"When I first got injured, she didn't want to look at me, and I used to have to make fun of my injuries to try to cheer her up," said Smith, recalling how he told his daughter the wounds on his leg looked like train tracks. "She had a hard time dealing with my situation at first, but now she helps me more than I can believe.

"It was like she went from 8 to 18 in just two years."

Abby was 8, and her brother was 10 months old, when her father was injured by gunfire while serving in Iraq. She felt sorry for her father as well as for her mother who stepped up to take care of the whole family. So Abby contributed by helping her dad exercise his knee and by bringing him blankets on cold days and ice on warm days.

The crucial role spouses and children play in the recovery of injured soldiers is not lost on the Smith family, who also remember the days before the injury when Smith could play a more active role in the life of his daughter.

"Before I could run and play with her, but now I have to sit and watch," Smith said. "She has done incredible though and will help me tie my shoes or clear the table for me."

But the sacrifices Abby has made to help her father are larger than just helping around the house. Abby was forced to miss a lot of school after her father's injury, and eventually had to be taken out of public school in favor of home schooling.

"There are so many times I feel like I can't do anything, and there Abby is to help me out with whatever I need," Smith said. "She is my life, and I feel like I owe my life to her."

Their story is not uncommon. Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris, a Soldier recovering at BAMC, suffered burns on 35 percent of his body, and credits his daughter as the inspiration for his hugely successful recovery. His youngest child, Elizabeth, was four years old at the time, and when Harris was discharged on an outpatient status, Elizabeth assisted her mother with his daily care.

Since 1986, the Defense Department has recognized the sacrifices and applauded the courage of military children by designating April as the Month of the Military Child.

Renovated Center Increases Job Training in Iraqi Province

By Alicia Embrey
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 30, 2009 - Community leaders, media and coalition representatives gathered for a grand opening to showcase the newly renovated $5.4 million Iskandariyah Vocational Technology Center here April 22. Reyad Hassan, executive general manager of Iraq's Labor Ministry, officiated with the assistance of newly elected Babil provincial leaders.

The Iskandariyah Votech and Industrial Complex, 25 miles south of Baghdad, once was the industrial jewel of north Babil province. But during April 2003, its automotive, industrial and munitions facilities were ransacked and torched by looters, leaving behind burned-out shells of what had been home to 25,000 employees.

To help to revitalize that area, Iraqi officials, the provincial reconstruction team and U.S. forces combined their efforts.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversaw the Votech's upgrade, using Iraqi contractors. The three-phase project included renovating seven dorms, a classroom building, an auditorium and a mechanical shop. The Iraqi crew of 200 local workers finished the project three months ahead of schedule. Of those workers, 50 were recent graduates of the center.

When the Votech renovations began in 2007, the school was offering a limited curriculum for an enrollment of 30 students. This year, the center is expected to train and house 4,000 students in a variety of occupational specialties, including hair dressing, sewing, administration and other clerical work, computer and automotive maintenance, masonry, electrical work, carpentry and welding.

"The renovation project became a reality because of the partnership between city and provincial government leaders, coalition forces, the Babil PRT, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Iraqi construction crews, along with unwavering support from the local community," said Army Col. Jack Drolet, district commander of USACE's Gulf Region South district. "The young men and women who come to this vocational center will learn skills, laying a foundation for future prosperity. We're honored to be part of this effort."

The Iskandariyah Votech "is critical in our efforts to attract foreign investment to Babil province," Pradeep Patnaik, the Babil PRT's senior economic advisor, said. At least five international firms are considering manufacturing contracts with automotive and mechanical industries, he added.

In 2008, 450 tractors were assembled and 200 of those were sold. "All tractors were pre-sold with a plan of assembling and selling another 1,000 tractors this year," Patnaik said.

Prefabricated housing units, oil refineries, buses, construction equipment, greenhouses, and much more also are in the works. "We are working with local and international businesses so that there will be enough work for everyone," Patnaik said.

(Alicia Embrey works in the Gulf Region South district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division.)

Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Four, Detain Two

American Forces Press Service

April 30, 2009 - Afghan and coalition forces killed four men and detained two others in operations overnight to disrupt bomb-making networks in Afghanistan's Lowgar and Helmand provinces. In Lowgar's Charkh district, Afghan and coalition forces conducted an assault to dismantle a Taliban network responsible for planning and conducting attacks. When the forces arrived at the rural village, they spotted several men moving in a field near the targeted compound. Using close-air support to contain the threat, they attempted to detain the men. One suspect was detained when he followed the forces' instructions, but four others were killed during ensuing encounters.

A woman who was outside her compound when the assault force arrived at the village was inadvertently injured during the hostile action, officials said. She was treated by a medic and evacuated to a coalition hospital for additional treatment. An elder family member accompanied the wounded woman and remains with her at the hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.

Three women and three children who were inside when the assault force arrived, followed the Afghan forces' instructions and were protected.

During a separate operation in Helmand's Nad Ali district, a combined force searched a compound without incident, detaining an insurgent believed to be associated with an al-Qaida foreign-fighter cell in southern Afghanistan. During the search, forces found more than 200 pounds of opium, which they destroyed a safe distance from the compound. Eleven adults and 16 children were protected.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gains in Afghanistan Tied to Pakistan, Marine General Says

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - Any gains in Afghanistan will be tied to the coalition's ability to tighten control of the Pakistan border, the top Marine officer said today. In a briefing to Pentagon reporters, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway said his 8,000 Marines deploying to southern Afghanistan this spring face "tough days ahead."

Southern Afghanistan is adjacent to a wide-open border with Pakistan, with many unrestricted crossing points. Neither the Afghan nor Pakistani border police have sufficient manning there, Conway said.

"We can and will eventually run up the victory pennant in Afghanistan, but without eliminating sanctuary across the border, the bad guys will simply come back, as they did in 2003 and 2004," Conway said.

Conway has met three times with the chief of the Pakistani army, who has expressed concerns over an influx of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan. Conway said the Pakistani general is concerned that forces going into the south could cause a refugee problem that Pakistan is ill-equipped to handle, and that the Taliban could be forced out of the south and onto supply lines that Pakistani forces are trying to protect.

The U.S. general said it remains unclear how Pakistan will deal with the internal threat posed by Taliban and al-Qaida presence.

"How they deal with that is going to be, I think, very important and pretty educational for us all over the next few weeks," Conway said.

Defense leaders have voiced approval of recent Pakistani military action against the increasingly emboldened Taliban forces there, and have offered additional support if Pakistan's government will accept it. Still, Conway said, his Marines will follow through on their planned push in the south, working to stamp out the Taliban and cut off its funding provided by illegal poppy production in the region.

"We've got to do what we've got to do in the south," he said. "And there will be pond rings coming off of that that I think we're going to have to adjust to."

Southern Afghanistan produces of most of the poppy grown in the country. Estimates widely vary, Conway said, but up to $400 million in drug production money is making its way to Taliban funding. Military officials recently authorized U.S. forces to destroy drug-related facilities that have known connections with the Taliban.

But, Conway said, fighting the drug production must take on a more holistic approach that gives the farmers an alternative to their poppy cash crop.

"I mean, otherwise, we're going to be creating Taliban if we simply take away the ability of a man to feed his family," Conway said.

The general, who recently returned from a visit to the country, said programs to combat drug production need to be expanded. The programs need to include alternate seed crops, education for farmers and infrastructure so that the farmers can move their crops to market, he said.

Some of that is in place now, he added, but not on a large enough scale to deal with the size of the drug production problem. And, Conway said, more help is needed from NATO partners and civilian agencies.

As the drawdown of forces in Iraq continues, Conway estimated there eventually may be as many as 18,000 Marines in Afghanistan. About 2,000 Marines are in the south now, and about 500 more serve in embedded training teams with the Afghan army and police.

Fort Dix Terror Plotters Sentenced

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - The last of five defendants found guilty in a terror plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., were sentenced today, with four to serve the rest of their lives behind bars and one sentenced to 33 years in prison. Mohamad Shnewer, who a federal judge described as the "epicenter" of the plot, was sentenced in New Jersey earlier today to life plus 30 years in prison.

Serdar Tatar, a convenience store clerk in Philadelphia who provided the other conspirators a map of Fort Dix, received a 33-year sentence today.

Three brothers involved in the plot -- Dritan Duka, 30, Shain Duka, 28, and Eljvir Duka, 25 -- received life sentences yesterday without the possibility of parole.

Federal prosecutors said the five men, all Muslim immigrants arrested in Cherry Hill, N.J., in May 2007, were planning to attack Fort Dix and military personnel.

Assistant Attorney General Patrick Rowan said as the guilty verdicts were rendered that they underscore the need for continued vigilance against homegrown terror threats.

Although the defendants weren't members of an international terror organization, "their involvement in weapons training, their surveillance of domestic targets and their discussions of killing U.S. military personnel posed a serious threat that required the law-enforcement disruption and the prosecutions upheld by the jury today," he said.

A 16-month FBI investigation led to the suspects' arrests May 7, 2007, as Dritan and Shain Duka tried to buy three AK-47 assault rifles and four semi-automatic M-16s from a confidential government witness.

"They identified their target, they did their reconnaissance, they had maps, and they were in the process of buying weapons," Jody Weiss, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Philadelphia, said a day after the arrests.

"Today we dodged a bullet," Weiss added. "In fact, when you look at the type of weapons this group was trying to purchase, we may have dodged a lot of bullets."

Marines Engineer Afghanistan-Worthy MRAP

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - The Marines are working to build an Afghanistan-worthy mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. With 8,000 Marines on their way there now, the Marine Corps wants an off-road version of the MRAP that is now fielded, said Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway at a news conference here today.

While the MRAPs work well to save lives, the bulky, 16-ton vehicle does not work so well where there are not improved roads. In Afghanistan, where there are few improved roads, the vehicles have been known to get bogged down.

Conway said that instead of pursuing a new line of vehicles, he asked engineers to look at modifying a current version of the MRAP with an independent wheel suspension. A prototype has been tested with good results, he said.

Unfortunately, initial modifications to the V-shaped hull reduced the vehicles resistance to roadside bombs, he said.

"It didn't work very well -- didn't work like an MRAP is supposed to," Conway said. "And the dummies inside all died, based on the testing."

A second modification and testing yielded similar results, he said.

The third time was the charm, though, and now the Marines are modifying the remainder of their fleet of MRAPs for Afghanistan use.

"... The long-term use of MRAPs in the Marine Corps is going to be very positive, and we can do it all at a fraction of the cost [of pursuing a new line of vehicles]," Conway said.

The Marine Corps has about 2,200 MRAPs and Conway said the service does not need anymore.

Enemy Fighters in Afghanistan, Pakistan Pose Direct Threat, Obama Says

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - Taliban and al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan pose "the single most direct threat" to U.S. national security interests, President Barack Obama said today during a town hall meeting at Fox High School in Arnold, Mo. His decision to send additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan did not receive a warm reception, the president acknowledged.

"But as commander in chief, it is my responsibility to make sure that [al-Qaida leader Osama] bin Laden and his cronies are not able to create a safe haven within which they can kill another 3,000 Americans or more," he said. The effort requires a new strategy that includes not only military action, but also diplomacy and development, the president added.

The new strategy will help the United States become secure and its global leadership role has been restored, Obama said. In addition to a ramp-down of U.S. military presence in Iraq and a renewed emphasis on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he explained, the strategy includes renewed diplomacy to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons and the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama said he took those actions because America is stronger than any enemy and always has been, and "because we do what's right, not just when it's easy, but when it's hard."

"That's what sets us apart," he said.

The president told the students and faculty that the drawdown in Iraq will proceed responsibly.

"We are doing it in a careful way, because we don't want the country to collapse," he said. "That would not be in our strategic interests. There's been recent flare-ups of violence in Iraq that are highly sensationalized, and that indicates the degree to which this is a ramp-down that is conducted over the course of 18 months. I think that's the right thing to do."

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- April 29, 2009

More than just a drill [IN]
"It was only a drill but those involved were taking Tuesday's event very serious at Crawfordsville High School [IN]. Montgomery County was one of eight counties to take part in a Mass Prophylaxis Plan exercise at Crawfordsville High School Tuesday. The high school was set up as a Point of Distribution site to deal with a mock anthrax exposure. 'What we are dealing with is an anthrax exposure drill," Tippecanoe County Health Department Public Information Officer Ron Cripe said. "This is our Point of Distribution and today's goal is to see where we can improve. We have been doing one or two exercises like this over the past few years so we will be ready if there ever is an emergency.'" (Paper of Montgomery County; 29Apr09; Barry Lewis)

Agencies participate in disaster preparedness exercises
"On Monday, April 27, several government agencies and the four area hospitals in Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland [IL] participated in a full-day exercise, 'Cascadia Peril,' involving simulated emergency response to a 9.0-magnitude earthquake. […] Public health agencies first became involved in disaster preparations after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States prompted the federal government to provide funds to local governments to combat bioterrorism, [Belle] Shepherd [Josephine County Public Health director] said. […] Public Health handles water, food, air, and vaccinations; and shares mass sheltering duties with the American Red Cross." (Illinois Valley News; 29Apr09; Scott

College of American Pathologists Is confident in U.S. Laboratories' ability to respond to influenza outbreak
"Long regarded as the gold standard in monitoring medical laboratory performance, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) believes that the nation's laboratories will be able to adequately process and handle influenza cases and adapt to evolving guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Their readiness is demonstrated through the CAP's Proficiency Testing (PT) program. […] In addition, after 9/11, the College […] create[d] a Laboratory Preparedness Exercise which tests the strength of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN). The LRN is a system of designated laboratories established to enhance early detection and surveillance activities, as well as increase laboratory response capacity associated with a potential pandemic or bioterrorism threat." (Red Orbit; 28Apr09)

Unpredictablility is the predictable part of viruses
"For all that scientists have learned about influenza since the catastrophic pandemic of 1917-19, one thing has not changed: the predictably unpredictable nature of the viruses that cause it. […] Although health officials have held exercises to prepare for pandemics and outbreaks caused by bioterrorism, they have yet to master the necessary communications skills. They are in a 'damned if they do, damned if they don't' situation. A decision about travel restrictions or advisories, for example, could affect trade and finances at a time of economic chaos. If the public health emergency declared by the WHO and the Obama administration turns out to be a false alarm, officials will be ridiculed for unnecessarily worrying millions of people -- perhaps even for creating fear to justify their budgets." (New York Times; 28Apr09; Lawrence K.

CDC [Centers for Disease Control] lacks chief, but can handle flu epidemic, White House says
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta lacks a permanent chief and the appointed secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services isn't on the job yet [Listserv editor: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has since been confirmed]. But Americans shouldn't be worried about the government's handling of the still-growing swine flu outbreak, a senior White House adviser said Tuesday. […] 'The great thing about our preparedness, whether it's for biological warfare or what's going on with the swine flu, is that post 9-11 we put in a seamless response system' that crosses over different federal agencies, Isakson said. Isakson is on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee." (AJC; 28Apr09; Bob Keefe)

Army destroys 60 Percent of U.S. chemical weapons
"Today, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials announced the destruction of 60 percent of the U.S. declared stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This milestone was achieved Saturday, April 25. CMA reached the 50 percent milestone in December 2007 and is poised to destroy its two-millionth munition in the coming months. 'We have increased our efficiency at destroying the nation's chemical weapons stockpile while maintaining the highest safety and environmental compliance standards,' said Conrad Whyne, CMA Director. 'This accomplishment is the result of a true team effort between our storage and destruction staff consisting of both government and contractor personnel, and I commend the dedication of the members of our highly skilled work force,' he added." (Red Orbit; 28Apr09; Source: PR Newswire/US Newswire)

Bolstered efforts needed to combat chemical weapons - [U.N.] Secretary-General [Ban Ki-Moon]
"Observing the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for greater efforts [to] prevent the deadly weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. The Day coincides with the 22nd anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention
- which provides for the eradication of these instruments of mass destruction - entering into force. To date, 188 States have [become] members of the pact." (UN News; 29Apr09)

UAE signs immunities and privileges agreement with OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]
"Under mandate from Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE Ambassador to Belgium Ali Thani Al Suwaidi signed here today, on behalf of the government of the UAE, an agreement with the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on immunities and privileges. The agreement was signed on OPCW's behalf by its Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter." (WAM; 27Apr09)

Legislators demand better cleanup plans for a radioactive shipyard dump
"[California] Assembly Member Tom Ammiano's legislative aide Quentin Mecke says [that] the April 1 letter that Ammiano and fellow Assembly Members Fiona Ma and state Sen. Leland Yee sent [San Francisco] Mayor Gavin Newsom urging him not to support a proposal to bury a radiologically-contaminated dump beneath a concrete cap on the Hunters Point Shipyard was dead serious. […] A 1999 ordinance passed by San Francisco voters as Proposition P 'recognized that the U.S. Navy had for decades negligently polluted the seismically-active shipyard, and that the city should not accept early transfer of the shipyard to San Francisco's jurisdiction, unless and until it is cleaned up to the highest standards,' the legislators wrote." (San Francisco Bay Guardian; 29Apr09; Sarah Phelan)

Local company sells millions of 'nukepills' to Kuwait
"[ is] a very different Mooresville [NC] business -- one with connections to the Middle Eastern country of Kuwait. But why Kuwait? And why now? Does the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health know something about nuclear security in the Middle East that we don't? Troy Jones founded to sell potassium iodide. The pills and liquid potassium iodide obviously couldn't protect against a nuclear blast. But they can protect against certain types of cancer caused by radioactive fallout. 'It protects the thyroid from radioactive iodine in the event of a nuclear blast or fallout from a nuclear reactor,' said Jones. But recently sold more than five million doses of the drug to Kuwait."
(WCNC; 28Apr09; Stuart Watson)

Does Pakistan's Taliban surge raise a nuclear threat?
"Army General Michael Maples, chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month […] [about] the threat posed by al-Qaeda, which, along with the Taliban, is sowing unrest in Pakistan. 'Al-Qaeda continues efforts to acquire chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials,' he said, 'and would not hesitate to use such weapons if the group develops sufficient capabilities.' The concern in Washington is less that al-Qaeda or the Taliban would manage to actually seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons, but instead that increasingly-radicalized younger Pakistanis are finding their way into military and research circles where they may begin to play a growing role in the nation's nuclear-weapons program. Pakistani officials insist their personnel safeguards are stringent, but a sleeper cell could cause big trouble, U.S. officials say."

Block Engineering wins $3,300,000 in development contracts for infrared spectrometers for chemical detection and analysis
"Block Engineering announced today that it has been awarded a total of $3,300,000 in contracts from several DoD [Department of Defense] agencies to develop next generation, ultra-miniaturized infrared spectrometers [….] Block Engineering is a leading developer of high performance FT-IR spectrometers for chemical detection and analysis to military, government, commercial, and industrial customers. Its Mobile Chemical Agent Detector (MCAD) system, in partnership with Northrop Grumman Corporation, and, PORTHOS(TM), a portable FT-IR spectrometer system, remotely detect chemical threats as far as 3 miles and protect against chemical warfare agents and weapons of mass destruction. Block's systems are currently used to protect critical infrastructure in the Washington Capital region." (PR Newswire; 28Apr09)

White powder in Maine called safe
"Police say a white powder that led to the shutdown of a bank processing center last week was nothing more than baking powder and sugar. About 100 employees were evacuated from the TD Banknorth center in Lewiston for several hours after a worker opened an envelope containing the suspicious powder. Police told the Sun Journal in Lewiston that state crime laboratory analysts determined the contents of the envelope, which had a blank sheet of paper in it, no return address and a New Jersey postmark. Police said they have turned over their investigation to the FBI." (Bangor Daily News; 28Apr09; Source: Associated Press)

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.

Flournoy Urges Boosting U.S. Military Support to Pakistan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - With a deteriorating situation in Pakistan, now is the time to strengthen the U.S.-Pakistan military partnership to help Pakistan in its counterinsurgency efforts, the undersecretary of defense for policy told Congress today. We believe that right now it is more important than ever to strengthen our military partnership with Pakistan," Michele Flournoy told the House Armed Services Committee.

The partnership is a vital component of the Obama administration's Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, she said.

"We have a vital interest in defeating al-Qaida and its extremist allies in the border region," she said. "We must deny them safe havens from which to launch attacks against the United States and our allies."

Flournoy described a rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan that she said demands a rapid response. Insurgents along its western border are steadily expanding and increasingly positioned to threaten the Pakistani heartland. Extremists basically control the Swat Valley, and last week established bases in Bruner, just 60 miles from Islamabad, she said.

"With instability increasing, many Pakistani civilians and political leaders fear violent retaliation if they openly oppose extremist groups," she told the committee. "Meanwhile, opportunities are growing for al-Qaida and its associates. From safe havens within Pakistan, they can plan and stage attacks against our troops in Afghanistan, and potentially against the United States itself."

The Pakistan government's recent military offensive underscores its recognition of the threat these extremists pose and the need to support Pakistan's efforts, Flournoy said.

"The Pakistan government is undertaking concrete actions to demonstrate their commitment to counterinsurgency and counterterrorism," she said. "We must show our Pakistan partners that if they take decisive action against extremists, we will give them the support they need."

Flournoy conceded that forging an effective partnership between the two militaries hasn't always been straightforward. For too long, she said, Pakistan has eyed India – rather than militants within its own borders – as its biggest threat, and has focused its resources accordingly. There's also been a "trust deficit" between the two countries, she said, that needs to be put behind as Pakistan and the United States recognize they share common interests.

"With only a limited capacity to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations, Pakistan's military needs assistance so it can do more," Flournoy said. "Unless we provide them with better equipment and training, such operations will continue to lead to short-term progress, but not necessarily enduring results. It is vital that we act now to provide Pakistan with the capabilities they so critically need."

Flournoy urged quick approval of the proposed Title X Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund, which she called "absolutely crucial to this effort."

The fund would give Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, the authority and funding needed to boost Pakistan's counterinsurgency capabilities quickly, she told the committee.

She called the fund "a critical tool that will allow our military assistance in Pakistan to be flexible, focused and fast, providing resources when and where they are most needed, in an urgent and rapidly evolving situation."

It also reaffirms U.S. commitment as Pakistan as it demonstrates its own commitment to taking assertive action against insurgents, she said.

Navy Vice Adm. James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr., director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff, said the PCCF ultimately will benefit U.S. troops on the front lines in Afghanistan.

"It will support U.S. troops who are in an ongoing effort in Afghanistan, because this threat clearly does not respect borders in this fight," he said. Winnefeld echoed Flournoy's conviction that the U.S.-Pakistan military relationship is critical to the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.

"While we use diplomacy to build trust and buoy Pakistan's will in this very important fight in defeating the extremist threats, our ability and our efforts to build Pakistani counterinsurgency capability in the middle of an ongoing fight are also a key element of our new strategy," he said.

Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill More Than 40 Insurgents

American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - Afghan and coalition forces today killed an estimated 42 insurgents during operations in Oruzgan, Helmand and Lowgar provinces. In Oruzgan province, Afghan National Police and Coalition forces were conducting a routine combat reconnaissance patrol in Langar, Tarin Kowt District, when they were attacked by several militants with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, from multiple sides.

After positively identifying the enemies' positions, the Afghan-led force responded to the enemy attack with small-arms and heavy weapons fire. The militants repositioned and continued their attack on the convoy. Afghan and Coalition Forces returned fire and called for close-air support, killing 23 militants.

In Helmand province, Afghan commandos of the 205th Corps, Afghan National Army and Coalition Forces were conducting a cordon and search in the Lashkargah District when they positively identified armed militants preparing an attack from inside a wooded area.

The Afghan-led force engaged the militants with small-arms and heavy weapons fire, killing four militants.

After a search of the area, Afghan and Coalition Forces discovered 220 pounds of opium, 2,400 kilograms of ammonium nitrate commonly used by militants to produce explosives, and numerous pressure plates. Several improvised explosive devices were also discovered in the area and destroyed.

Militants re-engaged the combined force with small-arms and heavy weapons fire. ANSF and Coalition Forces pursued the enemy and returned fire, killing another five militants. Operations are still ongoing.

No Afghan, coalition or civilian casualties have been reported from either operation.

In Lowgar province, Afghan-coalition force targeted a village located about 80 kilometers southwest of Kabul in the Baraki Barak district. Intelligence sources indicated Taliban operatives were in the area.

En route to the village, Afghan and coalition troops encountered and killed two insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 rifles and grenades.

Shortly afterward, a small group of heavily armed insurgents attacked the Afghan-coalition force as it approached the village. An estimated eight insurgents were killed during the brief battle. Afghan and coalition forces sustained no injuries.

Upon search of the compounds in the village, Afghan and coalition troops detained two suspected Taliban insurgents. Enemy weapons, RPGs and other grenades recovered after the battle were destroyed.

In yesterday's news:

- Afghan soldiers and coalition troops destroyed a weapons cache during a combat patrol in Bala Boluk district, Farah province. The cache contained 29 rocket-propelled grenades, 32 RPG boosters, plastic explosives and one improvised explosive device.

- Afghan Army commandos with the 207th Corps, assisted by coalition forces, destroyed 331 pounds of narcotics discovered in Shindand district, Herat province. The narcotics' street value was judged at approximately $2 million. An assault rifle and 14 fully-loaded magazines of ammunition also were confiscated.

Water Treatment Facility Opens West of Baghdad

By Army Sgt. Dustin Roberts
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - Close to a thousand families in the Khandari area west of the Iraqi capital now have clean water for everyday use, as the Khandari Water Treatment Facility opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 27 in the Abu Ghraib district. Contracted through the local government and Multinational Division Baghdad, the facility, which took close to three months to complete, treats and purifies 5 million to 8 million gallons of water per-day.

"This is a culmination of the efforts of many people, to include coalition forces and the local government," Army Lt. Col. Samuel Hayes, commander of 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, said. "We have been working with the Iraqis very hard to make sure that everybody in Abu Ghraib has clean water to use every day."

The water facility will also help about 500 additional families by preserving the water that flowed through the original pipeline prior to the construction of the facility.

"I am so glad that these families are being taken care of," said Ali Ishmael, director of the Nasir Wa Salam water office. "This place will be a very big help in the future, especially in the summer months."

To provide more assistance to the people, the battalion's leaders continue to work with the local government to carry out more water treatment projects, electricity projects, a market opening and school projects in the Abu Ghraib district. Hayes said essential-service projects demand hours of planning, but the average citizen doesn't notice.

"This is a physical example of the government's desire to help the individual Iraqi," Hayes said. "When they drive by,they see this facility, and when they turn their faucet on at home they have clean water, and they know they can safely use it."

A concern of the local residents in Khandari is keeping the facility secure from insurgents and special group criminals. Hayes said Iraqi security forces, who lead in securing the facility, have improved immensely at combating violence in Abu Ghraib.

"Certainly, there is an ongoing concern about the security in Abu Ghraib, and there is still work to be done there, but I don't think we would have been able to do this two years ago," he said. "There has been a lot of effort by coalition forces, but more importantly, the Iraqi security forces have made great progress in this effort."

(Army Sgt. Dustin Roberts serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

On Tour with Toby Keith: Danger, Excitement, Gratitude

American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2009 - Country music megastar Toby Keith has performed for rowdy, appreciative troops more than 130 times over seven straight years. But during this year's "America's Toughest Tour," he said, "The boys and girls were rockin' and laughin' like never before." Keith set out on his latest tour, sponsored by the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment, from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., April 21. His goals: meet as many troops and perform at as many remote bases as possible. The "FOB-hopping" trip took the performers to within six miles of the Pakistan border.

As he sat aboard an Air Force C-17 preparing for departure from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Keith took time to write a message for American Forces Press Service and the USO to share with servicemembers around the world.

Written in blog style, Keith's message starts out with a tally of the hectic schedule of shows at forward operating bases and combat outposts in Afghanistan, reveals he's written a new military-themed song, and shares his impressions of the tour:

"5 Days: 15 shows completed in Afghanistan -- 13 FOBs/2 COPs. The boys and girls were rockin' and laughin' like never before. This being my 7th year and 130+ shows, I've never seen them as energetic. That being said, The danger factor was at an all time high.

"Not since my early trips to Iraq have we been escorted in by gunships as often as we were on this visit. Thank you Cobra's and Apache's. Thanks to all our bird teams for the rides.

"I also wrote a new military song for this visit. It's called "The Ballad of Balad." Funny song about an Army recruiter. It made hard core crusted jaded FOB Sgt. Majors laugh out loud. I love it.

"I have tons of info to report back back home to the press. And as always, it's all good here. The U.S. military and their commanders are in complete control like always. 'Nuff said!

"I will close for now as this damn C-17 is shaking my penmanship somethin' fierce as we're leavin' Bagram.

"Mission accomplished Team USO – USA."

Visitors to DefenseLINK, the Defense Department's official Web site, can get more of the inside story from the tour. In a daily blog, Amy K. Mitchell, USO's vice president for publications, chronicles the tour's sights and sounds in a DefenseLINK Special Report.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Afghan Police Play Critical Role in Country's Future

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - Afghanistan really will be secure only when Afghan police enforce the rule of law in the country, said a senior officer in the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan. Army Brig. Gen. Anne F. Macdonald, the command's assistant commanding general responsible for police development, said during a recent interview on Afghanistan's Camp Eggers that Afghan police forces are critical to success in that country.

"We can help, but ultimately it is going to be up to Afghan security forces – most notably the police – to make the difference," she said.

There is no shortage of Afghan police bravery, she said, noting that the enemy killed more than 1,500 Afghan police officers last year.

"They weren't out there just playing tiddlywinks," Macdonald said. "The enemy obviously thinks the police are a danger to them, and are targeting them."

The Afghan police face tremendous challenges, according to U.S. embassy and military officials. Historically, the police did not have a stellar reputation. Before the Soviet invasion, the police were notoriously corrupt. Thirty years of invasion, warlordism and the Taliban did not improve the situation. There was no police force, just militias that extorted money from the people and protected drug lords.

Today, every poll that is taken shows the Afghan National Army is the most-respected organization in the country. The Afghan people perceive their soldiers as warriors who are above corruption and who represent all Afghans. The same must become true of the police for there to be success, Macdonald said.

Overcoming the historical perception is just one part of the problem for building an effective police force, she said. Attracting the right types of recruits means ensuring the recruits are loyal to the government and not to the Taliban, a warlord or al-Qaida. In addition, there are seven major languages in Afghanistan and a number of dialects, further complicating the training process. Illiteracy is another problem. Thirty years of war has wrecked the education system and very few men and even fewer women are literate. Drug addiction also is an issue in Afghanistan, and there is testing to weed addicts out. The age range for police recruits is 18 to 28.

The police regional training center in Kabul trains 500 recruits in each eight-week course. The recruits mostly come from the Kabul area, but can include police from other provinces.

"It is so important that we get this right," Macdonald said. "It starts here in this center where you plant the seed of pride and service to Afghanistan. Here is where we begin to change the Afghan peoples' conception of their police."

Recruits are screened, tested and equipped at the center. Then they begin rigorous hands-on classes on everything from how to handcuff a suspect to respecting human rights to how to professionally search a house, said Afghan Police Brig. Gen. Khudeidad Agher, the commandant of the center through a translator. Other subjects include firearms, drill, physical training, riot control, rule of law, traffic control, first aid, crime scene management, values and ethics.

There is so much that needs to be done in Afghanistan that people often forget how much has been accomplished. Agher has been in charge of the center for more than three years. "The saying is that tomorrow is better than today and the effort tomorrow will be better than today," he said.

Police had no training when he took over as commandant, Agher said. Instead, officers were hired and sent to stations. Now, his center and the others in the country have trained about 82,000 police officers.

Barracks to house the trainees are near completion, which will allow for even more rigorous training at the center. It also will allow the center to provide literacy classes for those who need it. Equipment is coming in to ensure the recruits have what they need to train. Agher said he has asked for educational movies to reinforce the hands-on lessons with his trainees.

"The police are more professional and better trained, and when the police training teams come in they will be even better," he said.

Agher was referring to Police Mentor Teams that will embed with Afghan police units and coach police leaders during training. The teams will continue the training for the police in the real world. The concept has worked in places like Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. Part of the 4,000-member 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division will be assigned to this duty.

A lot rides on the success of this training, and Agher said he knows it.

"I hope with the help of God and our foreign friends and the hard work of the Afghans themselves that this will succeed," he said.

U.S. Soldiers Struggle to Save Afghan Boy

By Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - Raziqullah laid motionless on the green stretcher as blood oozed across his forehead, dripping onto the floor of Forward Operating Base Blessing's aid station. Army Maj. Durren Hightower, a physician's assistant, looked up from the massive head wound that exposed the 15-year-old's brain, and sighed, "You know he isn't going to have a good outcome, right?"

One of the medics, fighting to keep the boy breathing by pumping oxygen into his lungs, replied quietly, "Yes sir."

Raziqullah, a shepherd, who like many Afghans has only one name, left home early on the morning of April 23 to tend to his flock in the mountains around his village of Gosalak. His family found him hours later at the mountain's rocky bottom. He had fallen.

The teenage boy's two uncles rushed him from his tiny village to FOB Blessing, an American military outpost in the remote Konar province of Afghanistan manned by soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment.

"The call came in over the radio that we had an Afghan boy at the front gate with a head injury, so our medics rushed down there," said Maj. Paresh R. Patel, the aid station's physician. "It was bad."

According to Patel, the tiny aid station sees levels of trauma like this almost weekly. Local villagers flock to the aid station seeking Western medical treatment they can't normally get from their local clinics.

As they rushed Raziqullah to one of aid station's two stretchers, the medical personnel immediately began surveying the unconscious teenager, his small bruised frame covered in blood.

"What happened?" one of them cried to the interpreter.

"He fell off a mountain," the interpreter replied.

Raziqullah's breathing was failing; he was fading quickly. The Soldiers placed an oxygen tube in the boy's throat, which became his lifeline.

Racing against time, the doctors and medics pumped Raziqullah's body with medication and treated his wounds, using an ultrasound to check for internal injuries.

Hightower looked at the boys crushed skull with worry.

"This sucks," said Army Spc. Jeremy Shepler, combat medic, shaking his head in concern as he pumped oxygen into the boy's lungs.

A fellow medic looked up from Raziqullah and frowned. "Yeah," he said.

After two hours of fighting to keep the boy alive, Patel called for his interpreter, "We need to go talk to the family," he said. His face was grim.

With tears streaming down the face of one of the boy's two uncles, Patel explained that Raziqullah was brain dead, and was kept alive only by the breathing tube that pumped oxygen into his lungs. "What do you want to do?" he asked them.

The young shepherd's uncles had to make a difficult decision.

Finally they asked to have their nephew's breathing tube removed.

A Muslim Chaplin from the Afghan National Army was called to the aid station to pray for Raziqullah, as the two uncles grieved for their fading nephew.

Less than 10 minutes later, Raziqullah died.

His body was wrapped in a white shawl, with strings tied around his toes and chin according to Muslim tradition, and then his family took him home to be buried.

"In the States, you would have a less than 5 percent survivability rate for this type of injury," said Shepler. "Here it's almost nonexistent ... All we can do is try every time."

(Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller is assigned to the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Soldiers Bring Light to Afghan Marketplace

By Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - A busy marketplace is a common sight in the city of Nangalam during the day, but as night falls, the lack of electricity turns the bustling Konar province commercial center into a ghost town. "By 6 p.m. all the shops would close and people would head back home, that way they wouldn't be frightened by the [anti-Afghanistan forces], or injured when they were walking down a dark street," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Campos of the 416th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in San Diego, Calif.

In order to increase security and commerce, Campos and his team of fellow 416th soldiers from the recently began the installation of 25 solar lights in the city's marketplace.

According to Campos, the team started with two solar lights on April 20 in order to gauge the citizens' reactions. They responded so positively to the project that within a week, 20 lights were installed by local contractors, with five more to arrive soon.

"[Many] thought the idea of lights at night to be something that was only imaginable in their lifetime," said Campos.

With the shops open and security improved, the flourishing city that has seen its population double in recent years is expected to grow even more.

"We're looking at possibly 10 to 15 percent increase in shops opening, and up to 35 percent more commerce and economic growth within the next year," said Campos. "The lights are working."

The Civil Affairs team already has plans to expand on the project, with 25 additional solar lights to be installed around the city's outlying areas. By next year the team also hopes to finish its largest project, two micro-hydro power plants that will provide electricity to every home in Nangalam, and its nearby villages.

(Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller is assigned to the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Petraeus Parallels Iraq, Afghanistan Strategies

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the author of the military's counterinsurgency manual, yesterday explained the principles that led to success in Iraq and how they apply to the fight in Afghanistan. The commander of U.S. Central Command spoke to a packed stadium at Kansas State University, invited as part of the prestigious Alfred M. Landon lecture series on public issues hosted there.

To a resounding ovation, he stepped to a podium that has seen three standing presidents and five former presidents, the current and three previous defense secretaries, a slew of politicians, ambassadors, Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners, but only a handful of military generals since the series began in 1966.

With his own Ivy League doctorate degree and tours as a military professor, Petraeus is no stranger to academia and is friends with the university's president.

Barely 100 miles away at Fort Leavenworth, Petraeus once commanded the Army's Combined Arms Center, the service's think-tank for lessons learned, dubbed the "Intellectual Center of the Army." It was there in 2006, along with Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, that Petraeus laid the foundation of the strategy which would eventually turn around the war in Iraq, and one Petraeus said he believes will work in Afghanistan.

Petraeus left Fort Leavenworth to take command of the troops in Iraq and to oversee the 2007 presidentially-ordered surge. Yesterday he credited the surge for providing critically-needed security, but he also cautioned that the surge must be viewed within the context of a broad counterinsurgency strategy, and not as the solution in and of itself.

"This is not to discount the importance of sending additional troopers ...," Petraeus said. "At the low point of the security situation in Iraq, we were seeing more than 50 dead bodies a night turn up on the streets of Baghdad alone, so there was no doubt that more troopers were needed to help quell the horrific violence."

Equally important, though, Petraeus said, was that the surge signaled to the Iraqi people that the United States was committed. This gave them the confidence to stand up to the extremists, he said.

Also during the surge, more than 100,000 additional Iraqi security forces were added and more than 100,000 locals joined the Sons of Iraq program which paid local Iraqis to patrol and protect their own communities.

"Together, these efforts provided the strength and numbers necessary to confront the elements that stoked the violence and brought Baghdad to its knees," Petraeus said.

But probably the most important element of the surge, he said, was employing the additional troops in line with key counterinsurgency concepts.

Moving troops out of large forward operating bases and into small, community-based joint security stations earned the trust of the locals and paid huge dividends in terms of intelligence. Under the safety umbrella of the security station, locals who rejected the insurgency turned over enemy fighters and their weapons caches in record amounts.

"As coalition and Iraqi forces began to provide breathing space from the violence, emboldened Iraqis increasingly began to reject violence and those who employed it," the general said.

This opened the door for reconciliation efforts between rival tribes, and even with those who once fought on the side of the insurgency. Offering amnesty, U.S. and Iraqi leaders reached out to those who had opposed the government and encouraged them to participate in newly established political process. Job training helped give local young men an option to fighting with the insurgency.

Even within the military-run detention facilities, detainees considered irreconcilable were culled from others who were provided job training and education.

And military officials worked hard to legitimize the Iraqi government, partnering with Iraqi officials to boost electricity generation, oil production and commercial development.

These efforts, along with the successes of the Iraqi government, led to the turnaround there, Petraeus said.

This is in stark contrast, however, to the current situation in Afghanistan.

Petraeus cited the downward spiral the country has taken, with an expanded and stronger insurgency and markedly increased levels of violence.

Also, the Afghan government has been slow to develop, is wracked with corruption, and its legitimacy in the eyes of the locals has suffered.

Petraeus embraced President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan, saying that progress there is tied to a "robust, sustained and comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign."

"Our fundamental objective in Afghanistan remains ... to ensure that transnational terrorists are not able to establish the sanctuaries they enjoyed there prior to 9/11," Petraeus said. "Accomplishing this aim, though, requires not just killing or capturing terrorists, but also developing Afghan security forces, reducing the drug trade that finances the insurgency, fostering the growth of Afghan governance ..., creating basic economic opportunity for Afghan citizens, and so forth."

But while the challenges in Afghanistan parallel those in Iraq, the fight is not the same, he said. In fact, Petraeus called it "daunting," and said that, while the principles of counterinsurgency are the same, they must be adapted to work in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is larger and more rural than Iraq with more rugged terrain and harsher climate. Fewer in Afghanistan are literate and there are fewer natural resources.

The total revenue generation in Afghanistan was under $1 billion last year, compared to $60 billion generated in oil revenue alone last year in Iraq. Also, Afghanistan has very little infrastructure, all but stopping the government's attempt to deliver basic services.

"In Afghanistan, we are building; not rebuilding," Petraeus said.

More forces are needed in Afghanistan, Petraeus said, which will allow troops to secure areas that have been already cleared. Just as in Iraq, many times enemy fighters simply hide out in the mountains until the U.S. troops have gone, and then return to the villages and towns.

"The increase in forces and focus on securing the people are needed, to help create the breathing space that will allow Afghanistan to stand up for themselves and that will also allow the government to begin working for its people and providing essential services, instead of simply struggling to survive," Petraeus said.

Even now, the U.S. military is mirroring the strategy of moving troops out of bases and into the communities. In the small combat outposts they partner with the Afghan forces to keep watch over the villages so that the insurgents cannot return. They are also funding the rebuilding of schools, clinics and other projects that provide basic services, in an effort to gain the locals' trust.

Another program that mirrors efforts in Iraq is the Afghan public protection program, similar in concept to the Sons of Iraq. More trainers are needed to help grow the Afghan forces, Petraeus said.

But, just as in Iraq, more U.S. or NATO forces alone are not the lone answer to solving the problems there.

"Operating in a country known as the 'graveyard of empires,' our forces must partner with their [Afghan] counterparts to show the Afghan people that they are not would-be conquerors but are instead there to secure and serve Afghan communities," Petraeus said. "Doing so will require being good neighbors."

Reconciliation efforts must be embraced – a much debated topic within both the U.S. and Afghan governments because most believe that senior Taliban leaders would never agree to necessary preconditions. But Petraeus said it should start at the local level where those who are simply fighting to support their families are given an economic alternative.

Petraeus also echoed recent remarks by senior U.S. officials that the way ahead in Afghanistan will require a much more coordinated civil-military approach.

"As always, military action is necessary, but not sufficient," Petraeus said. "Additional civilian resources will be essential to building on the progress that our troopers and their Afghan partners can achieve on the ground."

Finally, Petraeus said that Afghanistan and Pakistan must be viewed as a single problem set, or a single theater with different rules of engagement. Increased Taliban activity in the bordering Pakistan impacts efforts in Afghanistan and poses a global threat, he said.

"Even as we actively pursue militants and seek economic and governance improvements, in Afghanistan, we also have to encourage the Pakistani government to recognize that these militants are the most significant threat to their country's very existence," Petraeus said.

More support is needed for Pakistan to help them build, train, and equip their forces, he said.

Dubbed by senior U.S. officials as the "long war," Petraeus will not likely see the turn-around there under his watch on the same scale as in Iraq.

But Petraeus saw the war in Iraq come nearly full-circle, starting out as a commander on the ground at the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, as CENTCOM commander, he's mulling exit strategies and managing the shift of forces from there to Afghanistan.

And he said he is confident of such success in Afghanistan.

"By increasing our civilian and military footprints in Afghanistan, focusing our troopers on securing and serving the population, fostering reconciliation, pursuing a comprehensive approach and working toward greater unity of effort, we can help Afghan forces and leaders achieve the security, economic and governance improvements that are so necessary in their country," Petraeus said.

Romanian Soldiers Train Iraqi Army Commandos

By By Army Spc. Terence Ewings
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - Romanian soldiers are helping train Iraqi commandos on Camp Ur, near Contingency Operating Base Adder in Iraq. Soldiers of the 26th Romanian Infantry Battalion mentored Iraqi soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 39th Iraqi Army Brigade, through the first four weeks of tactical, physical and weapons training of an eight-week commando training course.

"Our duty here is to improve the tactical skills of our Iraqi partners," said Romanian Army Capt. Bumbac, the training team commander for the Romanian instructors. "They will use these tactics on real missions, so it's important that they receive this active training."

The future IA commandos received the same training the Romanian Special Forces units receive. The Romanian soldiers also trained their partners on Shotokan Karate, a martial art that may be used during hand-to-hand combat.

"We're impressed with what they have accomplished so far," said Bumbac. "It's a pleasure to be training together with these troops."

U.S. soldiers, assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, provided advice and assistance to the Romanians during the planning stages of the event and throughout the training.

"The Romanians are actively engaging their Iraqi partners and pushing them in the right direction," said U.S. Army Maj. Troy Wayman, the Iraqi Security Forces Coordinator from Ainsworth, Neb., who is assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Coalition forces already have begun the next phase of the commando training, which consists of complex exercises like scouting, reconnaissance, check point procedures and patrolling.

Upon graduation in late May, the Iraqi Army troops will join their units to provide security in the tri-province region of Dhi Qar, Maysan and Muthanna in southern Iraq.

(Army Spc. Terence Ewings is assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)

DoD Supports Pakistan's Anti-Taliban Operations, Hopes for Sustained Effort

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - Defense leaders are "clearly pleased" to see the Pakistani military take action against increasingly emboldened Taliban forces, and have offered additional support if Pakistan's government will accept it to promote a sustained effort, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and others have expressed "a very real concern" about the eroding security situation in Pakistan in recent weeks, Morrell told reporters.

"They and others in this building were clearly pleased to see the Pakistan military take the initiative over the past couple of days and push back against the militants who had been encroaching ever further toward Islamabad," he said.

Taliban forces have moved in recent weeks from the Swat Valley into the Buner and Dir districts. But in recent days, Pakistani ground troops and heavy artillery have moved into the region to assault guerilla hideouts, with Pakistani jets and helicopters attacking Taliban positions from overhead.

"We think the military operations that are under way in Buner and Dir districts are exactly the appropriate response to the offensive operations by the Taliban and other militants over the past few weeks," Morrell said. "And so we are hopeful and encouraging of the Pakistan military that they are able to sustain these operations against the militants and to stem this encroachment on the more populated areas of Pakistan."

The military operations followed a highly criticized peace deal between the Pakistani government and Taliban elements in Swat. "We have made no secret of the fact that we have never been a big fan of these agreements or deals that they have reached with militants" in parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan, Morrell said.

The United States stands ready to provide more assistance to keep up the effort if the Pakistani government will accept it, he said.

"We have made it clear for a long, long time that we are ready, willing and able to do more than we are doing," he said. "The fundamental obstacle to this, historically, has been a comfort level on the part of the Pakistani government."

Recent activities by the Taliban could change that, he said. The Pakistani government "obviously, based on these military operations, recognizes the activities in Swat and Buner and Dir as a real threat to them," he said. "So, as long as there is that recognition and appropriate action in response, we are pleased and ready to help in additional ways."

Morrell recognized sacrifices the Pakistani military has already made, with 3,000 of its troops killed or injured in operations along the country's western border.

"They have been involved in this fight," he said. "But the key is to sustain these operations at this tempo and to keep the militants on their heels and ultimately defeat them."

Deal Could Be Near to Extend Use of Manas Air Base

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - The United States could be nearing a deal with the Kyrgyzstan government to extend U.S. access to Manas Air Base, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters today. Morrell reported progress in negotiations he called "reason for hope" about reversing Kyrgyzstan's previous decision regarding the base.

Kyrgyzstan's foreign ministry notified the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek in February that it had six months to leave Manas, a major logistical and refueling center that supports troops in Afghanistan, About 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo move through the base every month.

The decision was to end the arrangement the United States and Kyrgyzstan entered three years ago that gave the U.S. annually renewal rights through July 2011. The United States pays $17.4 million a year to use the base.

But officials made it clear from the start that they hoped to get Kyrgyzstan to reconsider its decision.

"We ... have been engaged in conversations with them about extending our use of that facility," Morrell said today. "And I think we see reason for hope there, that that can be worked out... We hope we're getting closer."

In the meantime, he said the military has been looking for alternative air bases in the event that that doesn't happen

"We have found a number of suitable ones" to support its northern distribution network, he said. "Should it become necessary to find other bases to fly out of and trans-load our personnel into Afghanistan, I think we've got suitable alternatives within the region."

Toby Keith Entertains Troops in Afghanistan

By Army Capt. Michael Greenberger
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2009 - Country singer and troop supporter Toby Keith finished up a 15-show tour in Afghanistan yesterday as he drew near the end of his seventh tour with the United Service Organizations. Keith spent five days criss-crossing the war-torn country visiting bases large and small in a whirlwind of handshakes, autographs, photo-ops and of course – country music shows.

Whether it's hundreds of Marines at Camp Bastion or a crowd of thousands at Kandahar Air Field, countless hours of preparation and manpower go into making each show special.

"It's a three-pronged attack," said Rachel Tischler, USO vice president of entertainment operations. "The crews get to work setting everything up for the larger shows as most of the band goes to see people at the larger bases. While they are doing that, [Toby] and a few others visit the more remote locations."

Keith's tour visited Forward Operating Bases Tillman and Boris, near the Pakistan border, in addition to the larger bases, like FOBs Sharana and Salerno.

"It was important to Toby and the crew to visit as many of the smaller, remote locations as possible," said Tischler. "Never mind getting entertainers – some of them don't have running water!"

Keith, was taught early on to respect the military and those who serve in it.

"My father was a soldier. He taught his kids to respect veterans," said Keith. "It's that respect and the thank-you that we have a military that's in place and ready to defend our nation; our freedom."

Since 2002, Keith and company have visited war zones, military bases and ships at sea to bring a little levity and light into the lives of those in harm's way. He loves his job, he said.

"It's a break from the monotony in their life," Keith said of his duty to the troops. "They're under fire and tremendous workloads trying to accomplish their goals, so when we show up, it changes that for a little while. We try to put smiles on their faces."

According to the roaring crowd in the "clamshell tent" on Bagram, he succeeded.

"The energy level was so high," said Army Spc. Jennifer Cook. "It brought all the soldiers in, no matter what kind of music they liked."

Keith's forte is playing country music. He's been doing it for more than 23 years. Some of the hits he poured into the night sky over Afghanistan have been staples of country music for years – as well as favorites of those in uniform, such as "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" and "American Soldier."

Written after his first visit to Iraq, "American Soldier" is a tribute to service members everywhere. Keith salutes military mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters -- ordinary people all over who volunteer to serve their country and give their lives for it if necessary. Keith took many of his first interactions with the military in Iraq, such as a remembrance ceremony for a fallen service member, and turned it into something many could understand.

"Those kinds of things just bore into your soul," Keith said. "I would have never been able to complete 'American Soldier' if it weren't for the experiences I had."

The troops appreciate Keith just as much as he appreciated them.

"This show was awesome," said Air Force Senior Airman Patrick McGuire. "I saw Toby Keith stateside and it was smoky and the crowd was just different. Here, it's like he was here for us, not just a show. It just felt like he was here for us."

Keith doesn't just raise spirits though, he raises awareness too.

"It's great to be supported by someone in the music business," Cook said. "It also keeps us on people's minds back home."

Keith ended more than an hour of guitar whompin', foot stompin' music with a promise he's echoed over 150 times: "I'll see you next year."

After departing Afghanistan, Keith and company head to Italy to finish their seventh USO tour.

(Army Capt. Michael Greenberger serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Bombs, Bullets and Fast Talk

On May 1, 2009, Conversations with Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a discussion Special James Botting, FBI (ret.) the author of Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-Five Years of FBI War Stories.

Program Date: May 1, 2009
Program Time: 2100 hours, Pacific
Topic: Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-Five Years of
FBI War Stories.
Listen Live:

About the Guest
Special Agent
James Botting (ret.) served in the FBI for twenty-five years, sixteen as a crisis/hostage negotiator. He served as the team leader of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) from 1981 to 1995 and a supervisory member of its international Critical Incident Negotiation Team since its inception in 1985 until his retirement. He has personally negotiated numerous hostage/barricade incidents and responded to several high-profile events. He lives in California. James Botting is the author of Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-Five Years of FBI War Stories.

According to the book description of Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-Five Years of
FBI War Stories, “A desperate gunman holds a planeload of innocent passengers hostage. A heavily armed cult leader refuses to leave his compound, threatening mass suicide by a hundred of his brainwashed followers. A neo-Nazi militant in a cabin hideout keeps federal agents at bay with gunfire. A baby disappears; his only trace is an ominous ransom call to his parents. Prisoners riot, threatening the lives of prison officers and hundreds of other inmates. How do you react? What do you do? What do you say? Your words, your actions can save lives--or lose them.”

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is
police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the
Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in Law Enforcement, public policy, Law Enforcement Technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in Law Enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Monday, April 27, 2009

Army Chief of Staff Shares Insights During Afghanistan Visit

By Army Sgt. John Zumer
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2009 - A revitalized spirit is among the things the Army's top officer noted April 24 during his third visit to Afghanistan in the past year and his first in four months.
"There's a great sense of energy here," Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said. "When I was here in December, I saw a little apprehension." Casey attributed the upturn to additional troops who have arrived in Afghanistan recently. They and more additional soldiers on the way are putting coalition forces in a much better position as the 101st Airborne Division prepares to hand responsibility for the combined joint task force here to the 82nd Airborne Division, he said.

The Army has been working hard to meet the higher manpower totals envisioned a couple years ago, the general said, noting he has long been concerned about stretching the Army so thin that it would be unable to accomplish present and future missions.

"We were out of balance," Casey said. The original goal was to grow the active-duty force to 547,000 soldiers by the end of 2011, he added, but the Army attained that level two years early. The biggest impact for soldiers, he said, is that future burdens of frequent deployments may be lessened.

"The most important thing we can do to get ourselves back in balance is to increase the amount of time soldiers spend at home between deployments," Casey said, and he added that once demand comes down, "dwell time" at home can be increased and perhaps deployment lengths could be shortened.

Soldiers' families continue to occupy the thoughts of Casey and other Army officials, the general said.

"Our soldiers draw their strength from their families," he said. The Army spent $1.4 billion on family support in 2008, and is expected to continue investing in such programs. "We are committed to delivering on the Army Family Covenant," he said.

The covenant signifies the Army's efforts to fund and support family programs, physical and mental health care, housing, education, child care and employment opportunities for spouses.

These large efforts on behalf of families are in conjunction with a new initiative Casey referred to as "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness." CSF is designed to put mental fitness on the same level of importance to individual soldiers and their leaders as physical fitness, he said.

"You can build mental resilience and enhance soldier performance," he added. The sooner soldiers are willing to come forward and get treatment for problems, the sooner they can be helped. Most importantly, Casey said, "no soldier stands alone" if treatment is needed.

Casey proudly noted that his travels have elicited many favorable comments directed toward the professionalism and competence of the Army's noncommissioned officer corps. Those comments, he said, led him and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston to proclaim 2009 as the "Year of the NCO."

"We haven't done this in 20 years," Casey said. It was important, he said, to recognize NCOs, to inform Congress and the American people what an asset NCOs are, and to enhance the skills of NCOs and give them necessary tools for future success.

Changes in planned deployments and theaters of operation for certain Army units have begun, Casey confirmed, and he said he sees encouraging signs. One positive aspect is that Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has the forces he needs to provide security for Afghanistan's upcoming elections.

"General McKiernan has the troops he needs to ensure that there are safe elections this August," Casey said.

Casey said he realizes deployments can be long and difficult, and that experience has also shown that going home can be stressful as well as exhilarating. But he said that if he could provide a single piece of advice to soldiers returning to families and their former lives, he would cut to the chase quickly.

"Take some time to relax and build yourself back up gradually," he said.

(Army Sgt. John Zumer serves with the 40th Public Affairs Detachment.)

Joint Forces in Afghanistan Kill Five Militants, Detain 16

American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2009 - Afghan and coalition forces killed five militants and detained 16 suspects – including a Taliban commander -- during recent operations in Afghanistan. In Kandahar province's Zharmi district, Afghan and coalition forces conducted a complex operation after receiving a tip on the location of Taliban operatives. The suspects were connected to bomb-making and other questionable activities, including operating a checkpoint in the district to collect money from local residents.

When the assault force attempted to search several compounds in the targeted village, they encountered armed militants who did not comply with instructions to leave their buildings. Two men were killed when forces entered the building and the men attempted to engage the force with small-arms fire. Similarly, on three separate compounds, three other men refused to comply with instructions given by Afghan and coalition forces and were killed in a subsequent engagement.

A search of the remaining compounds resulted in Afghan and coalition forces detaining 10 suspects.

In a separate operation northeast of Jalalabad in the Sarkani district of Konar province, Afghan forces, with a small element of coalition forces in support, searched a compound where suspected al-Qaida operatives were located. The forces detained two suspects associated with attacks against coalition forces in the province.

In operations yesterday, Afghan army commandos, assisted by coalition forces, captured a Taliban commander in Farah province's Gulistan district. The detainee has been directly involved with numerous attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in the Gulistan Valley, as well as kidnapping weapons trafficking and facilitating movement of foreign fighters, officials said.

A search of the detainee's compound uncovered a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with rounds, a machine gun with ammunition, a AK-47 assault rifle with ammunition, a mine and numerous bomb-making materials. The weapons and ammunition were destroyed in place.

In a separate operation yesterday, a coalition precision strike destroyed an anti-aircraft weapon system in Helmand province's Nad Ali district. Coalition forces learned through villagers that insurgents in the area had obtained a ZPU-2 anti-aircraft gun and were staging it on the back of a pick-up truck for use against coalition aircraft. The ZPU-2 was hidden between two compounds in the Nad Ali district. After ensuring there were no noncombatants in the area, the coalition forces destroyed the weapon system with a precision strike.

In an overnight operation that began April 25, Afghan and coalition forces detained three men in eastern Afghanistan during efforts to capture a militant associated with the Haqqani terrorist network and the Baitullah Mahsud extremist group in Pakistan. In Khowst province, the combined force captured a terrorist known to facilitate suicide attacks against Afghan citizens and coalition forces in Khowst and Paktia provinces. As the targeted individual's vehicle approached an intersection, Afghan forces signaled the vehicle to stop and successfully called for the passengers to exit the vehicle. Without incident, all occupants complied.

The targeted individual and two men traveling with him were detained. Afghan National Police were called to assist a woman and child who were passengers in the car.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Leroy O. Webster, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., died April 25 near Kirkuk, Iraq, after being shot while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

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

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-April 27, 2009

Biological terrorism: recommended protection for first responders
"The approach to any potentially hazardous environment, including one with biological hazards, must be made with a plan that includes an assessment of hazard and exposure potential, respiratory protection needs, dermal protection needs, entry conditions, exit routes, and decontamination strategies. Plans involving a biological hazard should be based on relevant infectious disease or biological safety recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (e.g.," (Forensic Magazine; 27Apr09;
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)

OSU [Ohio State University] labs in Wooster [OH] to handle risky viruses
"Ohio State University plans to study organisms such [as] the bird-flu virus and ash borers at new high-security labs [Biosafety Level 3] on its agricultural research campus in Wooster [OH]. The $21.7 million laboratory complex would be the first of its kind in the state and would hold the second-highest federal security rating for laboratories that handle dangerous biological substances. The university said it had to turn down grant money in the past because it didn't have the facilities needed to safely conduct sensitive research. Construction on the complex is set to begin in September and should be complete by fall 2011." (Columbus Dispatch; 27Apr09; Doug Caruso; Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention )

Local firm a leader in food security field [MD]
"Food quality and safety are paramount issues today, and a Frederick [MD]-based company is a leader in that field. Microbiology International, located on Pegasus Court, has become the exclusive distributor for the R.A.P.I.D. LT Food Security System. […] Kevin Klink, co-CEO of Microbiology International [said] 'It takes the samples and makes them hot and cold, which allows a reaction to take place to replace the original DNA strand,' Klink said. The equipment provides zero tolerance when checking for any problems in food samples. 'It looks for listeria, salmonella, e-coli, campylobacter and more,' he said. The same equipment is used by the military to identify anthrax and other bioterrorism organisms, Klink said." (Frederick News Post; 25Apr09; Ed Waters, Jr.)

Hong Kong may provide answers to [swine flu] disease
"[W]ith the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and the United States, Hong Kong suddenly finds the world looking to it for lessons on how to stop the spread of disease. 'Managing a (potential) pandemic can't be from the top down, it must be from the ground up,' said Lo, a former Hong Kong legislator representing the medical community. According to the World Health Organization, a public health emergency is an occurrence or imminent threat of illness or health conditions caused by bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or highly fatal infectious agents or toxins that pose serious risk to a significant number of people. […] The communication channels have improved between China and Hong Kong, health officials said, as well as better surveillance of the disease. Every visitor who comes through Hong Kong International Airport now is scanned by infrared monitors and immediately isolated if suffering from a fever or respiratory illness." (CNN; 27Apr09; Kevin Voigt)

Background: Looking at Israel's bio-defense program
"Biological warfare is considered by Israeli security officials to be one of the most dangerous forms of unconventional attacks, and an Israeli bio-defense program has taken shape in recent decades with the growing threat of bio-terrorism backed by rogue regimes. 'I will say that Israel has the best solution to this threat in the world,' Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. 'I can say with certainty that Israel has prepared a series of steps designed to deal with biological warfare.' Eiland said Israel had invested heavily in the field of bio-terrorism but added that the threat remained 'huge.' […] The bio-defense program Eiland alluded to was not always in place - it took the defense establishment decades to develop it." (Jerusalem Post; 26Apr09; Yaakov Lappin)

WHO [World Health Organization Dr. Keiji] Fukuda: no evidence swine flu is bioterrorism attack
"The World Health Organization said Sunday there is no evidence an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico represents an act of bioterrorism. 'There are no signs we are dealing with purposeful actions,' Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's temporary assistant director-general for Health Security and the Environment, said on a media call. Fukuda was responding to a question about U.S. President Barack Obama's recent visit to Mexico, where at least 81 people have died from severe pneumonia caused by the flu-like illness in Mexico, according to the WHO." (NASDAQ; 27Apr09; Katharina Bart)

Annual CSEPP [Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program] drill Tuesday night at the Umatilla Chemical Depot [OR]
"The Umatilla Chemical Depot had its annual Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program […] [to] simulate a chemical accident on the Depot site to see how workers respond. At the beginning of the exercise, the room was quiet. Then once the staged accident happened, everyone jumped into action. Greg Mahall, the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, explained the exercise. He says, 'Inside the Depot today, we are simulating an accident involving 3 1-ton containers of mustard agent. There were injuries, leakage, fire, smoke.' The on-site accident was called in through a radio and emergency personnel had to act quickly." (KNDO-KNDU; 23Apr09)

India completes chemical weapons disposal; Iraq declares stockpile
"India has become the third nation to eliminate its known stockpile of chemical weapons, the organization that monitors adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention announced last week. India on March 26 notified the Technical Secretariat to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that it had completed operations, according to OPCW Director General Rogelio Pfirter. […] Albania and another nation that remains officially anonymous but is widely accepted to be South Korea have already disposed of their chemical arsenals." (Global Security Newswire; 27Apr09; Chris Schneidmiller)

Bahamas joins Chemical Weapons Convention
"The Bahamas has become the 188th nation to join the international pact banning the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons, the treaty's monitoring agency announced yesterday. The Chemical Weapons Convention will enter into force 30 days after April 21, the date on which the island nation submitted its ratification document to the United Nations. Member nations are required to declare activities that could 'pose a risk to the object and purpose of the convention' and to allow inspections and other means of compliance verification by the Hague-based organization. The remaining holdout nations are Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia and Syria." (Your Industry News; 27Apr09)

Grappling with the dirty bomb threat
"President Barack Obama has turned his focus to stockpiles of dangerous chemical and radiological materials that remain at risk from being stolen by terror groups planning to make what is known as a dirty bomb. Much of it is in the former Soviet Union, but it is also being kept in other parts of the world by countries that have nuclear power plants or had plans to build a nuclear bomb, but abandoned them. American intelligence agencies believe a dirty bomb strike is almost inevitable in a major city within the next five years, and last month the British government conceded that such an attack was highly likely and could happen without warning at any time." (BBC News; 27Apr09; Humphrey Hawksley)

First responders: to fight terror, cross-training needed
"If terrorists stage a large-scale strike on a major city, police, firefighters and other first responders may not simultaneously converge on the scene […] That is why first responders should be 'cross trained' to deal with emergency situations outside their purview, said Lt. Gregory Bennett, of the Middlesex County, N.J., sheriff's office. He spoke at the GovSec [Government Security] conference in Washington, D.C. The scene of a nuclear, chemical or biological attack would be chaotic, with emergency responders setting up shop everywhere in the city. Confusion would reign, and special units may be miles away from where they are needed, he said." (National Defense Magazine; May09; Stew Magnuson and Matthew Rusling),Cross-TrainingNeeded.aspx

Prepare for emergencies
"When health services fail to provide timely and effective help, people suffer needlessly. Even a tiny investment can make a difference. It is vital for hospitals to ensure that essential services are available quickly during a disaster. […] Disasters and emergencies may occur in different forms like floods, earthquakes, terrorism and mass casualties in a major road traffic accident, blasts, biological warfare and nuclear attacks. Even mass food poisoning can be counted as a disaster. When disasters strike, aid agencies, communities, media, and the government focuses immediately on the victims. But if the focus on victims is to have real meaning, we must prioritise medical care." (Deccan Herald; 25Apr09; Source: Complete Wellbeing Magazine; Dr. Adash S. Rajpal)

Officials: suspicious powder at [FL] courthouse not anthrax
A suspicious white powder found in an envelope at the Hillsborough County Courthouse this afternoon is not anthrax, Tampa [FL] Fire Rescue officials said.The powder fell out when a clerk opened the envelope. The substance hasn't been identified but is not considered to be hazardous, said Capt.Bill Wade. The clerk is undergoing medical tests. […] Sixty people work in the area but only the clerk who opened the envelope was considered at risk for exposure, Wade said." (Tampa Bay Online; 27Apr09)

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.