Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Once a Medic, Always a Medic

By Army Sgt. Neil Gussman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2009 - For a flight medic here, notice of a medical evacuation mission starts the wheels turning in her mind, but then instinct takes over. "I am never nervous on the flight out," Army Staff Sgt. Cynthia Dalton said. "I go over every possible scenario in my mind. But when we touch down, I just go."

Dalton, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Brigade -- part of Task Force Keystone -- said her first rescue mission in Iraq was the hardest. It was a vehicle rollover in bad weather. One soldier was dead at the scene, and two more were badly injured. She and the other medics at the scene treated the soldiers as best they could and then loaded them on their Black Hawk helicopters for transport to the nearest emergency medical facility.

"Both soldiers made it," she said. "But after a mission like that, I am really hard on myself. I can see why people burn out. I go over everything I could possibly have done differently. We did our jobs, but it always seems like there is something I could have done different or better."

Dalton, a daughter of military parents who hails from Orwigsburg, Pa., said she knew from an early age she wanted to help soldiers, but tried various jobs before finding a career path that was right for her.

"I joined the Army at 17 when I was a junior in high school," she said. "I went to basic training between my junior and senior years, and started training to be a medic right after high school."

While serving in the Army Reserve, Dalton got additional medical training as a civilian and worked for a nursing agency. She was serving as a reservist in Germany on Sept. 11, 2001, and was activated there, serving in a medical support unit and helping soldiers prepare for deployment to the Middle East.

"I did literally hundreds of immunizations every day," she said. When she returned to the United States, she switched to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard to take advantage of the education benefits.

After getting soldiers ready for deployment at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, Dalton spent the three years leading up to her current deployment helping National Guard soldiers return to civilian life.

"I love helping soldiers," she said. "Soldiers come back from deployment needing many kinds of help to reintegrate into civilian life. The Guard has the help available. I make sure they can get access to the right resources."

In preparation for deployment to Iraq, Dalton trained as a flight medic. She has worked with two medical evacuation companies during the deployment, including an Oregon-based unit during training in Oklahoma and Kuwait. She is currently serving with an Alaska-based active Army medevac unit. Dalton works a 48-hour cycle, sleeping and eating at the hangar while waiting for medevac calls.

When she returns to the United States, Dalton said, she plans to take a full-time job as the medical sergeant for the Pennsylvania National Guard's 55th Brigade in Scranton. "That will be the end of flying for a while," she said. "I am sure I will miss it."

(Army Sgt. Neil Gussman serves with the 28th Combat Aviation Battalion.)

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 30, 2009

No silver bullet against extremists at U.S. biodefense labs, security report says
"There is no silver bullet ensuring that no would-be bioterrorist finds a job at a U.S. disease research laboratory, however measures can be taken to prevent dangerous materials from being diverted for harmful purposes, a panel of experts said today. Worries about security at laboratories that work with select agents [...] have grown as the amount of research has increased in recent years, according to a report from the National Research Council [NRC], an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. While there are legitimate concerns about an individual gaining inappropriate access to biological agents, those instance are very, very rare, infectious disease expert Rita Colwell, who led the group of 14 experts who contributed to the report, said today during a press conference. [...] The NRC report addresses existing regulations and oversight to safeguard against the deliberate use of select agents and examines both physical security and personnel reliability at laboratories. The committee was also asked to consider the potentially restrictive impact biosecurity regulations have on scientific research. The study offers nine recommendations, including having each facility registered to work with select agents develop and implement a security plan, which would be reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service." (Global Security Newswire; 30Sep09; Martin Matishak)

Non human primate study results of restanza [oral antibiotic to combat yersinia pestis] released
"Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc. [...] today announced positive top-line results from a pivotal, non-human primate study involving its novel, once-a-day, oral antibiotic Restanza (cethromycin) demonstrating statistical significance at a 90% survival rate against an inhaled lethal dose of plague [bacteria]. The study tested Restanza's protective efficacy at various doses up to 64 mg/kg, where nine out of ten animals in the study that received a 14-day course of Restanza initiated within 24 hours after exposure to a lethal dose of plague [bacteria] survived while only one out of ten of the animals that received placebo survived. [...] The Johns Hopkins Working Group on Civilian Biodefense notes that because of 'the availability of Y. pestis around the world, capacity for its mass production and aerosol dissemination, difficulty in preventing such activities, high fatality rate of pneumonic plague, and potential for secondary spread of cases during an epidemic, the potential use of plague as a biological weapon is of great concern.' [...] Advanced Life Sciences is developing Restanza as a broad spectrum medical countermeasure for biodefense to combat multiple high priority bioterror[ism] agents, such as anthrax [bacteria], Fransicella tularensis (tularemia), Yersinia pestis (plague) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis) under a two-year, $3.8 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense." (Medical News; 30Sep09; Source: Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc.)

Study reveals that most Americans will refuse FDA authorized emergency use H1N1 flu vaccine
"According to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and University of Georgia study [...] fewer than 10 percent of [people] surveyed said they would be willing to take such a vaccine or drug and nearly 30 percent remained undecided. The passage of the Project Bioshield Act in 2004 created the emergency use authorization (EUA) giving the FDA the ability to use experimental [...] drugs in the event of an actual or potential emergency. [...] Several drug additives, or adjuvants - sometimes added to vaccines to strengthen the immune response and stretch the quantity of available vaccines in the event of a pandemic - have been ordered and stockpiled by the federal government in case they may be needed. But adding them to H1N1 vaccines would trigger an EUA, which is one of the reasons the federal government has chosen not to use them. [...] The study was based on a survey that focused on attitudes toward H1N1 and willingness to accept flu vaccines and drugs not officially approved by the FDA, but authorized for emergency use. Of the 1,543 adults questioned in June 2009, 46 percent of people surveyed said they were concerned about getting swine flu. However, nearly 86 percent said they thought it was unlikely or very unlikely that they themselves would become ill. [...] 'Communication about the H1N1 vaccine is enormously challenging,' said [study author Sandra Quinn, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health]. [...] 'In the event an emergency-use adjuvant is required to stem the H1N1 pandemic, public health professionals will need to articulate a strong case for the vaccine and aggressively address myths and misinformation to increase understanding and acceptance.'" (Medical News; 30Sep09; Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences)

DHS [Department of Homeland Security] seeks contractor for biosurveillance program
"The Homeland Security Department is looking for a content aggregator that can put together an electronic data feed for regular updates on biosurveillance events, influenza outbreaks and other health incidents. The project is being sponsored by the department's Office of Health Affairs' National Bio-Surveillance Integration Center, which integrates health and disease information from food, agricultural, public health, environmental and intelligence sources. The center provides early warning of global disease outbreaks or possible bioterrorism attacks. [...] The project is called the Biosurveillance Information Source Initiative. The contractor shall provide a data-mining, analysis and reporting system that can provide near real-time information of worldwide disease events and disease threats based on verified information not available via a general Web search on search engines such as Google. Proposals are due by Oct. 7." (Washington Technology; 29Sep09; Alice Lipowicz)

[U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington] upholds dismissal of [anthrax] vaccine suit
"A federal appeals court [U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington] on Tuesday upheld a program that requires some members of the military to be vaccinated against anthrax over objections from service members who say the vaccine has not been proven to be effective. The [court] upheld a lower court's decision dismissing a case brought by eight service members who challenged the Food and Drug Administration's determination that the vaccine was effective. The plaintiffs also wanted to stop the Defense Department's requirement that service members at risk for anthrax exposure must be vaccinated. [...] The service members argued that because the one human study [conducted in the 1950s] included only a few inhalation cases, there is insufficient evidence to conclude the vaccine is effective against them. But the appeals court ruled that the service members who filed the suit did not provide any scientific evidence to prove the vaccine was ineffective." (Associated Press; 29Sep09; Nedra Pickler)

House panel becomes flash point for chemical bill
"A major lobbying battle has heated up over legislation that would establish new security standards for facilities across the country that store or process chemicals, pitting some of the nation's largest business groups against environmental and labor organizations. Nearly 30 industry groups sent House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) a strongly worded letter Monday opposing certain provisions in a chemical security bill making its way through Congress. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee plans a hearing Thursday on the bill, which would reauthorize and expand authorities Congress gave the Homeland Security Department in 2006 to regulate security at chemical facilities. The industry groups [...] oppose provisions that could require chemical plants to use safer technologies; would allow facilities to be sued by citizens; and would allow states to adopt their own security standards. The groups argue that requiring facilities to use inherently safer technologies could be costly, disruptive and overly burdensome." (Global Security Newswire; 29Sep09; Chris Strohm, CongressDaily)

Sub-Regional seminar on chemical industry-related issues in the Mediterranean Basin [Turkey]
"Turkey hosted a sub-regional seminar organised by the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] on Chemical Industry-Related Issues in the Mediterranean Basin that was held in Istanbul on 24 and 25 September 2009. Participants from 14 State Parties attended the seminar. [...] The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter [...] in his opening remarks [...] described the chemical industry as a central stakeholder in the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and stressed that engagement and cooperation with industry will continue to be a critical aspect of the work of the OPCW Technical Secretariat. [...] The aim of the seminar was to inform and sensitise chemical industry representatives in the sub-region about the CWC, and to better understand the issues and challenges for industry in complying with the provisions of the Convention." (OPCW; 30Sep09)

Indian P[rime] M[inister] [Manmohan Singh] stresses commitment to nuclear non-proliferation

"Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [...] maintaining that the spectrum of nuclear terrorism is a formidable challenge [...] supported US President Barack Obama's initiative to hold a summit on nuclear security next year. Singh said India has an updated, effective and comprehensive export controls system and is 'committed to not transferring sensitive technologies and equipment to other countries that do not possess them.' Holding that India has been sponsoring a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for measures to address the nuclear terrorism threat, he said, 'We support strengthening the international efforts in improving nuclear security and in this context, welcome President Obama's timely initiative to hold a global Summit on Nuclear Security in 2010.'" (Pakistan Daily Times; 30Sep09)

DOE [Department of Energy] Deputy Secretary [Daniel Poneman] and Rosatom [State Atomic Energy Corporation] Director [Sergei Kiriyenko] visit Y-12 Oak Ridge National Laboratory during first meeting of US-Russia nuclear energy and nuclear security working group
"The Department of Energy today announced that Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation 'Rosatom' Sergei Kiriyenko held the first meetings of the joint US-Russian Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group on Monday, September 28 and Tuesday, September 29. The meetings opened with a session hosted by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who met with Director Kiriyenko and Deputy Secretary Poneman to discuss a variety of issues. These included the two countries' mutual work securing vulnerable nuclear materials, efforts to increase cooperation on civil nuclear technologies, and cooperation on other nuclear security issues. The meetings [...] were the first since the working group was established under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission during the July 2009 Presidential Summit. [...] 'The United States and Russia have a long and successful track record of cooperation in the area of nuclear security,' said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. 'These meetings and our visits to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex demonstrate how seriously our countries take our shared responsibility to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy while combating nuclear dangers.' [...] After their meeting with Secretary Chu, Deputy Secretary Poneman and Director Kiriyenko flew to Tennessee to visit ORNL [Oak Ridge National Laboratory] and Y-12 [National Security Complex] where they observed a joint nuclear security training exercise." (NNSA; 29Sep09)

Cleveland BioLabs awarded $5.3 million grand opportunities grant from National Institutes of Health for protectan CBLB502 [a derivative of a microbial protein] research in mitigation of radiation damage of GI [gastrointestinal] tract
"Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. today announced that it has been awarded a $5.3 million Grand Opportunities (GO) grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 from the Office of the Director and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant will fund studies of molecular mechanisms by which Protectan CBLB502 mitigates gastrointestinal (GI) damage from radiation exposure. [...] CBLB502 is a derivative of a microbial protein, which has demonstrated the capacity to reduce injury from acute stresses, such as radiation, in animal models. [...] CBLB502 is being developed under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Animal Efficacy Rule to treat Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) or radiation poisoning from any exposure to radiation such as a nuclear or radiological weapon/dirty bomb, or from a nuclear accident." (Marketwire; 29Sep09; Source: Cleveland BioLabs, Inc.)

FBI weapons of mass destruction experts failed simple test questions, report [conducted by Justice Department's Inspector General] says
"Some of the FBI's so-called experts [working at the Houston field office] on Weapons of Mass Destruction couldn't even name the most important targets and threats in their own back yard, according to the Justice Department's Inspector General. [...] Some [officers] flunked the test when they were asked to name the 10 top threats and targets in their areas. Some simply answered the quiz by listing off threats and targets that had been assembled by previous assessments in other divisions, while others actually called their peers to help them answer the auditors' questions. The report also says those experts, known as WMD Coordinators are also not getting crucial intelligence from local law enforcement and other FBI offices that could identify emerging threats. [...] The report states, 'We also found that the FBI has not established specific qualifications that WMD Coordinators need so that they can perform their critical functions.' [...] The 97-page report pointed out that only 7-percent of those 57 WMD Coordinators had received training about nuclear threats, 25% had been trained on radiological material being used as weapons, and 28% had been trained on chemical weapons being used by terrorists, home-grown or otherwise." (San Francisco Examiner; 28Sep09; Stephen Dean)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] emergency operations teams enhance radiological security for Pittsburgh G-20 summit [PA]
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) deployed emergency operations personnel to support the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with nuclear and radiological security for the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. [...] NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol [said], 'This week's cooperation with the FBI and Secret Service is an example of the return our nation gets on its investment in nuclear security. We were proud to do our part, putting that expertise to work protecting leaders from around the world.' NNSA deployed members of its Radiological Assistance Program, which provide teams of nuclear scientists and health physicists equipped to conduct radiological search, monitoring, and assessment activities. The Nuclear Radiological Advisory Team with nuclear and radiological subject matter expertise was also deployed to assist with the detection and identification of radiological materials. One part of NNSA's mission is to protect the public, environment, and emergency responders from both terrorist and non-terrorist events by providing a responsive, flexible, efficient, and effective radiological emergency response framework and capability for the nation. This mission is accomplished by applying NNSA's unique technical expertise residing within the Department of Energy's national laboratories." (NNSA; 25Sep09)

Gov[ernment] takes terrorism and money laundering fight a notch up
“With full support of members of the House of Assembly, the Proliferation Financing (Prohibition) Act, 2009 which is geared towards strengthening the powers of the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) in the fight against financing of terrorism, money laundering and the production of weapons of mass destruction was passed on Tuesday. The Bill, which was piloted by Hon. Premier Ralph T. O'Neal, is designed to empower the FIA to take actions against any person involved in activities that may have some connection with terrorist financing, money laundering or development [...] and production of biological chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons. [...] Hon. Premier explained that the power sought to be given to the FIA under the bill will enable it to issue direction to persons or individuals in corporate or incorporated bodies who operate in the Territory's financial service sector as a measure to protect the Territory against certain risk." (Virgin Islands Platinum News; 30Sep09)

United Nations headquarters to host special event on Security Council resolution 1540, 1 October (New York, NY)
"A special event entitled Resolution 1540: At the Crossroads will be held at United Nations Headquarters on 1 October. Sponsored by the Office for Disarmament Affairs, the event is organized in connection with the comprehensive review of the status of implementation of resolution 1540. [...] The aim of the review is, among other things, to assess the evolution of risks and threats, and to identify possible new approaches for implementation of the resolution. [...] It aims at enabling non-governmental organizations, academia and the industry to contribute to the comprehensive review. [...] Resolution 1540 obliges all States to refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. Also by the text, all States are to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials." (United Nations; 28Sep09)

Reconstruction Team Signs Pact for Schools in Eastern Afghanistan

By Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2009 - Government leaders and provincial reconstruction team members here signed an agreement Sept. 27 to build five new schools in the province, and protect them for the future. Kunar Gov. Fazullah Wahidi told more than 100 gathered religious leaders, village elders and government directors that the new school in Narang district and four schools in Asadabad district represent the Afghan government's commitment to improve education.

"The time of fighting is done; now is the time for education," Wahidi said. "Education is important for everyone, because it takes people out of the darkness and into the light. We want Afghanistan children to get an education."

The governor said while the buildings are important and the first step to improving the development and security of the country, education begins when teachers teach and children learn. He also stressed it's the community council's responsibility to help with security on the projects so the contractors can do their jobs, as well as the need to protect the schools if insurgents try to damage them.

"If the Taliban come to burn the schools, we as shura members need to say first, 'Burn my home, not the school,'" Wahidi said. "These schools will give our children a place to learn and must be protected."

Sayed Jalaluddine Hasani, Kunar's director of education, said the schools represent an investment by the government in the province's people.

"With good schools, we can have the darkness go away," Udin said. "We are building these five schools to make Afghanistan better."

A Narang community council member said residents are grateful to have a new school for the district.

"We have kids learning outside under the trees and sun, but now they will have a good place to learn," the village elder said. "On behalf of the Narang shura, I thank the [provincial government] for helping bring a school to Narang."

Army Lt. Col. Joseph Cantlin, the provincial reconstruction team's chief of civil-military operations, said the signing ceremony was a happy occasion and represents the combined effort of the provincial government and the United States to make Afghanistan better.

"We've been working hard to coordinate with the governor and directors to find the most important areas to put schools, hospitals and other projects across Kunar," the Fort Belvoir, Va., native said. "It's a privilege to work with the governor and line directors to bring this happy day to build five new schools to the people of Kunar province.

"I have two children myself," Cantlin continued, "and understand how important it is to the young people of Narang and Asadabad to have the opportunity to go to a good school and learn because they represent the future of Afghanistan. My hope is for the children to learn and grow up to be good citizens of Kunar and Afghanistan."

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jay Burgess of Oklahoma City, the team's senior engineer, echoed Cantlin's sentiments.

"Nothing is as special to me in my heart as building schools," Burgess said. "The contractor said, 'God willing, we will have the schools built in 12 months,' but the real work doesn't begin until the school is finished. That is when the investment pays off, because teachers will have the opportunity and tools to invest in the children of Afghanistan. So, while we celebrate today, I look forward to the decades when the schools still exist and the students have a proper education."

The contract was signed Sept. 20; the Sept. 27 ceremony was a promise-signing agreement among the Asadabad and Narang district development associations, the provincial governor and the provincial reconstruction team to support and protect the project.

An additional benefit to the provincial economy is that the prime contractor will hire local workers to build the schools, officials said.

(Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman serves in the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team public affairs office.)

Odierno: Continued Progress in Iraq Could Speed Withdrawal

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2009 - The United States may be able to draw down troop levels in Iraq quicker than anticipated if progress continues there, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq said here today. An agreement that took effect in January calls for U.S. troops to cease combat operations and reduce their presence in Iraq to 50,000 by Aug. 31, 2010. All U.S. combat forces are scheduled to be out of the country by Dec. 31, 2011.

"Although challenges remain in Iraq, with the continued support of Congress and the American people, I believe we are now in reach of our goals," Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said.

About 122,000 military members are deployed in Iraq now, and by next month that number will decrease by 2,000, a milestone Odierno said is "faster than anticipated." This is a reduction of more than 40,000 troops since 2008, he added, and the reduction to 50,000 troops also may happen sooner than the August target.

The first sign that a quicker U.S. drawdown was possible came on June 30, Odierno said, when U.S. forces moved out of the city centers and Iraqi security forces took full responsibility of security. Iraqi forces have handled the responsibilities well despite sporadic insurgent attempts to undermine progress, he added, and attack levels are down to levels unseen since the summer of 2003.

Overall attacks, U.S. and Iraqi deaths, and sectarian murders have declined greatly since August 2007, when more than 4,000 attacks took place, Odierno said. This month, he noted, fewer than 600 attacks. U.S. military deaths decreased by 93 percent and Iraqi military deaths by 79 percent in the same period, he added, and sectarian-related murders fell by nearly 90 percent.

"While statistics do not paint the whole picture, they help provide some context in understanding the progress made to date," he said, noting that insurgent efforts to derail that progress are failing.

"The overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people reject extremism," the general said. "We have seen no indications of a return to the sectarian violence that plagued Iraq in 2006 and 2007."

Odierno cautioned, however, that the transition to full Iraqi control must be done responsibly. He cited the need to continue U.S. efforts in training security forces and helping to establish government processes. Although progress is evident, he said, security is not yet enduring.

"There still remains underlying, unresolved sources of potential conflict," he said. "Iraq is a nascent democracy emerging from 30 years of authoritarian rule based on ethno-sectarian privilege. Its future as a stable, multi-ethnic, representative state rests upon its ability to deal with the myriad of these challenges, and some of these issues will take time to resolve."

Iraq has the potential to build a capable government, representative of all Iraqis, the general explained, but potential also exists for societal divisions like those of the old Iraq, where religious sect and affiliation had its privileges.

"Even as Iraq's political system continues to mature, there is not yet consensus ... that is accepted across ethnic, sectarian and regional lines," he said.

Decades of neglect to the country's infrastructure are another area of concern. But Iraqi institutions and essential services continue to improve, Odierno said.

Probably the No. 1 "driver of instability" that could be trouble for Iraq is the Arab-Kurd boundary dispute in northern Iraq, the general said. The conflict has been ongoing for centuries, but is being addressed by a special United Nations commission. Odierno said he believes a resolution will occur by the next Iraqi elections in January.

Despite these challenges, Odierno said, withdrawal plans continue. U.S. troops already have handed over the keys or closed more than 200 bases, he said.

"We have spent a lot of money and personal sacrifice [in Iraq]," he said. "Security is heading in the right direction, and we don't want to lose that. Keeping troops through 2011 allows [the Iraqis] to establish their new government."

Even after U.S. forces leave Iraq, continued partnership with the country and its government is the overall concern, he added.

"We have an opportunity here to have a long-term strategic partner," he said. "It's about strategic patience. Even after we leave in 2011, we can't say Iraq is finished. We also need to continue to support them in some way beyond 2011, developing institutions. We contribute to our national security in the process."

New Protective Vehicles Head to Afghanistan Overnight

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2009 - The first parcel of an influx of vehicles designed to protect troops from deadly roadside bombs is expected to arrive overnight in Afghanistan, a Defense Department spokesman said today. The expected delivery comes soon after the department awarded an order for more than 6,600 of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles -- known as M-ATVs -- to be fielded over the next year.

"That is just the first wave of a massive production and transportation program that will see at least 6,644 of these life-saving vehicles delivered to our forces in Afghanistan over the next year or so, making it one of the fastest and highest-priority acquisition programs in the history of the Defense Department," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters today.

Three M-ATVs were loaded onto a C-17 and four onto a C-5 at the Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., yesterday and flown to Afghanistan. Morrell characterized the shipment as an "extraordinary achievement" considering that the contract for production of these highly maneuverable armored trucks was awarded to the Oshkosh Corp. just three months ago.

Conventional MRAP vehicles feature a V-shaped hull to deflect roadside bombs, and are proven to be lifesavers on the battlefield. The M-ATV provides troops a smaller and more maneuverable vehicle that can travel off-road and navigate Afghanistan's difficult, mountainous terrain, Marine Corps Systems Command officials said.

Morrell said the department would like the M-ATVs to have an effect in Afghanistan similar to the one that MRAPs had when they were delivered en masse to Iraq, leading to a reduction in casualties resulting from roadside bombs.

"These new vehicles are urgently needed, because improvised explosive devices are claiming the lives of more U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan than ever before," he said. "The hope is that the M-ATVs will have the same impact in Afghanistan as the MRAPs did in Iraq, providing our troops the best counter-IED protection money can buy so that they can defeat the terrorist networks responsible for planting these bombs, and ultimately win the trust and confidence of the Afghan people."

The M-ATV supports small-unit combat operations in highly restricted rural, mountainous and urban environments that include mounted patrols, reconnaissance, security, convoy protection, communications, command and control, and combat service support. It is designed to replace the up-armored Humvee in Afghanistan. The M-ATV will carry up to five personnel: four plus a gunner.

Morrell added that the vehicle has captured the attention of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who previously made it a personal mission to oversee the expedited fielding of the MRAP vehicle in Iraq.

"With so much riding on this program, of course Secretary Gates will be watching it like a hawk in the coming months, just as he did the MRAPs," Morrell said.

Afghanistan Talks Focus on Means, Not Ends, Spokesman Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2009 - The U.S. aim in Afghanistan remains on defeating extremism, but high-level talks at the White House today center on the best means to achieve this goal, a Pentagon spokesman said today. Today's meeting in the Situation Room, which comes six months after a new strategy refocused the U.S. mission in Afghanistan on thwarting al-Qaida and its allies, convenes both top national security advisors and a range of proposals for the way ahead.

"The objective is clearly still to disrupt, dismantle and destroy al-Qaida," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters. "I think the discussion focuses now less along what the ends should be, but [more on] whether or not counterinsurgency is still the preferred means of achieving that end."

Among the cadre of top national security and military advisors joining President Barack Obama in the discussions is Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who Morrell said has yet to reach a decision on which approach to Afghanistan he favors.

"I think [Gates] is going in open-minded, undecided, willing to engage in these discussions that will take place over the next at least couple of weeks," he said.

News reports suggest that a range of recommendations exists, from a scaled-back U.S. presence more reliant on Special Forces and drone attacks to increased troop levels in Afghanistan.

Morrell declined to reveal in which direction Gates was leaning, but he did say that Gates previously has disagreed with a plan to largely reduce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and instead wage a counterinsurgency effort involving small groups of special operations forces, drone aircraft and other clandestine means.

"I think he's been clearly very forthright about his concerns about trying to do a limited offshore, remote -- however you want to characterize it -- counterterrorism operation," Morrell said of Gates.

Gates' thinking on the prospect of a larger force in Afghanistan has evolved from his original position that an "increased footprint" could alienate the United States from the Afghan population, Morrell has said. About 66,000 American forces are deployed there, along with 39,000 allied troops.

But Gates has said that since taking the top command position in Afghanistan in June, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal has assuaged some of the secretary's concerns about a larger U.S. presence.

"I think the secretary ... [recently] once again made it clear ... that he is as yet undecided about what the appropriate tack should be going forward in Afghanistan," he said. "But I think he clearly also signaled that some of his concerns that he had raised ... have been mitigated during his conversations with General McChrystal."

In addition to Obama, Gates and McChrystal, today's meeting convened other top military leaders, including Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command.

Gates is pleased with Obama's pledge to allow commanders as much time as is necessary to make their case to the president regarding Afghanistan, Morrell said. He added that discussion about troop levels and other recourses was not expected to be on today's agenda.

"Resources will clearly be a part of the discussion, at some point," he said. "We're not there yet. It has not been injected into this process yet."

Iraqi Air Force Assumes Control of C-130 Operations

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 30, 2009 - The Iraqi air force officially began fully independent C-130 air operations yesterday, marking the end of the U.S. C-130 air advisory mission here. A ceremony deactivating the U.S. Air Force's 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and marking assumption of C-130 operations, maintenance and training by the Iraqi air force's Squadron 23 formalized the milestone.

Presiding over the event were U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert C. Kane, commander of the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing and director of the Air Force's Iraq training and advisory mission; Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed, Iraqi air force commander; Brig. Gen. Kareem Ali Abud, commander of the Iraqi air force's New Al-Muthana Air Base; and Col. Christopher Pehrson, commander of the U.S. Air Force's 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.

"Today, I say we are proud to have had the honor to work with you side by side as brothers, not less," Kareem said. "I have worked with about eight advisors, and we have here more than 60 groups at Al-Mathana, great in all fields: discipline, versatility, specialties and, more than that, humanity.

"We can't forget the support you gave in the training of pilots, craft engineers, logistics, security forces and English classes," he continued. "We respect your sacrifices -- leaving your families behind just to support Iraqi air forces. We are grateful for you and your families. We don't like to say goodbye. See you again with better situations in Iraq."

The deactivation of the U.S. squadron marked another claim to the Iraqi air force's independence.

Squadron 23 is the largest C-130 squadron in the Iraqi air force, and its mission includes delivering troops and cargo, supporting distinguished visitors and flying medical evacuation missions. The squadron began after the United States gave three C-130E aircraft to the Iraqis through the Excess Defense Articles program.

The Iraqi air force C-130 airlift mission was born with the arrival in January 2005 of those same three aircraft at Ali Air Base. This paved the way for the first aircrew members to receive flight training at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. After being assigned to Ali Air Base since 2005, the squadron moved here March 7, 2006.

In his remarks, Kane declared the C-130 flight training effort "mission complete."

"The Iraqi pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters, and maintainers have clearly demonstrated that they are ready to perform their missions and, most importantly, to do it well," he said. "American advisors have also done what we've asked them to do: to stand side by side with their Iraqi partners and provide them the training required to operate the C-130 safely. This is a big deal -- something the people of Iraq, and even the world, will take note of. The Iraqi air force is on its way to independent operations."

In his comments, Pehrson noted the milestone's importance. "Today's ceremony is possible because the United States Air Force and the Iraqi air force were successful in their partnership to develop credible, professional and enduring airlift capability in the Iraqi C-130 fleet," he said. "It's an important step in the realization of a fully independent Iraqi air force that will one day defend and protect the people of Iraq.

"From today forward, Squadron 23 will fly independently over the skies of Iraq without direct support from a U.S. air advisory squadron," he added. "One day soon, other squadrons throughout the Iraqi air force will also operate independent of American advisor support. This change, and the evolution of the air advisory mission, is good because it means that we are moving together beyond foundational training and towards air power capabilities that are credible and enduring."

Air advisory training included a focus on foundational training for pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters, crew chiefs and maintenance specialists in engines, sheet metal, avionics and hydraulics.

(From a Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq news release.)

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Jordan L. Chrobot, 24, of Frederick, Md., died Sept. 26 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media may contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office at (910) 451-7200.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First M-ATVs Deploy to Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2009 - With unprecedented speed, the first of thousands of mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles —known as M-ATVs -- are being deployed to Afghanistan just three months after a delivery order was awarded. Conventional MRAP vehicles feature a V-shaped hull to deflect roadside bombs, and are proven to be lifesavers on the battlefield. The procurement of the M-ATV grew from an urgent requirement to provide troops a smaller and more maneuverable vehicle that can travel off-road and navigate Afghanistan's difficult, mountainous terrain, Marine Corps Systems Command officials said.

"We have pulled out all the stops to collapse the schedule and get these vehicles into theater," said
Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Michael M. Brogan, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command and joint program executive officer of the MRAP program. "We are doing everything that's required to ensure that they are safe, that the risk assessments are complete, [and] that they're fully integrated and flown into Afghanistan."

The M-ATV supports small-unit combat operations in highly restricted rural, mountainous and urban environments that include mounted patrols, reconnaissance, security, convoy protection, communications, command and control, and combat service support. It is designed to replace the up-armored Humvee in Afghanistan. The M-ATV will carry up to five personnel: four plus a gunner.

The Defense Department has ordered more than 4,300 of the all-terrain mine-resistant trucks, and another 1,400 are planned. Oshkosh Corp. is producing the vehicles.

(From a Marine Corps Systems Command news release.)

Joint Force Clears Insurgents, Detains Suspect in Western Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2009 - A 500-strong Afghan and coalition force cleared insurgents in Afghanistan's Farah province and detained a suspected militant in Takhar province in recent days, military officials reported. Afghan and coalition forces participated in an operation yesterday to clear insurgents from Shewan City.

Heavy fighting took place for more than 12 hours, and the force received rocket-propelled-grenade, machine-gun and small-arms fire. The force responded with small-arms and machine-gun fire as well as air strikes. A large number of insurgents were killed, military officials reported.

"This is a great day for Afghanistan and a great day for Farah province," said Afghan army Col. Namatulah. "Today we fought alongside coalition forces like brothers. Main roads that go through this city will not be under Taliban control. Safe roads are good for everyone, military and civilian."

Elsewhere, an Afghan and international force detained a suspected militant today after searching a compound in Takhar province. The compound is known to be used by a leader in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group responsible for financing and shipping weapons to other militant elements in the region.

No shots were fired and no one was injured, officials said.

(From a NATO International Security Assistance Force news release.)

Obama Calls Afghanistan NATO's Most Important Mission

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2009 - President Barack Obama today called Afghanistan the most important mission to NATO and underscored that the war there is a multinational effort. The president appeared with new NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House following talks that also covered missile defense and NATO-Russia relations.

"We both agree that it is absolutely critical that we are successful in dismantling, disrupting, destroying the al-Qaida network and that we are effectively working with the Afghan government to provide the security necessary for that country," Obama told reporters after the meeting.

"This is not an American battle," he said, referring to the 39,000 NATO forces fighting alongside 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. "This is a NATO mission as well, and we are working actively and diligently to consult with NATO at every step of the way."

Rasmussen also underscored the multilateral approach, saying Afghanistan is "not America's burden or responsibility alone."

"It is, and it will remain, a team effort," he said.

Obama's remarks today come after he recently received an on-the-ground assessment from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The president said he wants a new strategy in place -- one that weighs the outcome of the Afghanistan election review -- before committing more resources to Afghanistan.

Rasmussen, expressing optimism in the Afghan missions, endorsed the president's stance. "I agree with President Obama in his approach: strategy first, then resources," he said.

"I'm convinced that success in Afghanistan is achievable, and will be achieved," he added. "And don't make any mistake: The normal discussion on the right approach should not be misinterpreted as lack of resolve. This alliance will stand united, and we will stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to finish our job."

The two leaders also discussed a new U.S. missile defense plan for Europe the White House announced this month. Putting aside earlier plans to build ground-based components in Poland and the Czech Republic, the United States has proposed a new sea-based approach, which it says is better suited to intelligence on Iranian threats and would provide protection sooner.

"We both agreed that the configuration that we have proposed is one that ultimately will serve the interests of not only the United States, but also NATO alliance members most effectively," Obama said. "It allows for a full collaboration with NATO members. And we are very optimistic that it will achieve our aims and deal with the very real threat of ballistic missiles."

Obama said the two leaders also agreed on the importance of reaching out to Moscow in an effort to further collaborate with Russia on missile defense.

"We want to improve generally not only U.S.-Russian relations, but also NATO-Russian relations, while making absolutely clear that our commitments to all of our allies in NATO is sacrosanct and that our commitment to Article 5 continues," Obama said, referring to the point in the NATO charter stating that an attack on one member is an attack against all members.

The meeting also included discussion about a forthcoming strategic concept review that will articulate the role NATO is expected to play in the future.

"NATO has been so successful that sometimes I think that we forget this was shaped and crafted for a 20th-century landscape," Obama said. "We're now well into the 21st century, and that means that we are going to have to constantly renew and revitalize NATO to meet current threats and not just past threats."

Maintenance Operations Center Keeps Crews Informed

By Army Pfc. Cody A. Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2009 - Before they can take off or land, pilots here need to know their aircraft's condition and whether dangers could arise from bad weather, broken equipment or potential attacks. Airmen in the 4th Maintenance Operations Center, made up of units from seven states, ensure aircraft here are logged, maintained and ready for time-sensitive takeoffs and landings.

"We compile all of the information from takeoffs, landings, weather conditions and maintenance status into a centralized location," said
Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Woller, senior controller with the 455th Equipment Maintenance Group. The information enables commanders and aircrews to view the history of past and current flight plans, as well as potential problems, he explained.

In conjunction with pilots, the center's airmen can categorize the extent of any aircraft damage using several codes.

"The pilots communicate to us the status of their aircraft," said
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Donald Seymore, a C-130 controller with the 136th Maintenance Squadron from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. The status can range from no mechanical problems to minor mechanical problems that don't preclude flight to major mechanical problems that will not allow the plane to fly, Seymore explained.

The maintenance operations center has sections that deal with F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The senior controller collects and logs data while keeping flight crews and commanders informed of conditions. Part of this is making sure airdrop cargo gets to its destination.

"Airdrops have to be at the right place at the right time," said
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Cobb, a C-130 controller with the 152nd Maintenance Squadron. "Beans, bullets, whatever they need to do their job and, hopefully, get them home."

Before flight crews can deliver equipment to forward operating bases, they go through the maintenance operations center to create an effective flight plan.

"We monitor maintenance status of all aircraft, land times, and even the next projected time for an engine oil analysis," said
Air Force Staff Sgt. Erick R. Davis, an F-15 controller with the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. "We are the main hub of the flightline."

This hub of controllers enables commanders to create plans according to the data presented to them. The information gathered is taken to a weekly briefing for
Air Force Brig. Gen. Steven Kwast, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, Woller said. After the briefing, he added, commanders are able to keep track of the tools at their command and initiate effective missions.

"Our MOC is the linchpin in this effort to provide security to the Afghan people," Kwast said. "Without the tireless work of these airmen, we couldn't maintain 100 percent accountability of our aircraft and launch all available assets to provide security for the Afghan people and our coalition forces. Their efforts are crucial to this fight."

(Army Pfc. Cody A. Thompson serves with the 40th Public Affairs Detachment.)

Military Police Patrols Maintain Order on Base

By Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 29, 2009 - Minnesota Army National Guardsmen of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division's 34th Military
Police Company patrol here daily to ensure the base's residents are safe and that everything is running normally. "This can range from vehicle accidents, lost identification cards or criminal activities," said Army Lt. Col. Dale Slimmer, Multinational Division South provost marshal. "From the [base defense operations center], the fire department, ambulance, military Police or quick-reaction force will be dispatched, depending on the emergency."

The military
Police also conduct random searches of local Iraqis, said Army Spc. Robert McGrane, a 34th MP Company patrol officer. "In the searches, we are looking for any kind of contraband they aren't allowed to have [that] they may have sneaked in," he explained.

Most of the time, McGrane said, the Iraqis mean no harm when they're found with prohibited items. "Sometimes we find cell phones and DVD players they aren't supposed to have," he said. "Anything that can store media, they aren't supposed to have it on post. The prohibition prevents Iraqis working on the base from taking photos or retaining documents to take home at night, he added.

The MPs' mission here is to provide an additional resource for security and enforcement of rules, regulations and policies, Slimmer said, noting that work will continue to grow even after the division has returned home to Minnesota.

(Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery serves with Multinational Division South.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 28, 2009

Public health's unsung heroes [Puget Sound, WA]
"[...] King County health officials continue to prepare for another outbreak. One of their secret tools is a group of volunteers that act as first responders in a crisis. [...] I'm inside a conference room at the King County office building in downtown Seattle. There's a handful of volunteers getting an introduction to the Public Health Reserve Corps. If they pass the background and license screenings, these citizens will be called up when there's a public health emergency. Mandi George is the program manager. She says it takes a lot of people to get an emergency response operating. Volunteers help in different ways, whether it's distributing antibiotics or setting up emergency care shelters. [...] Volunteers played a big role in late April. That's when the H1N1 virus appeared in King County. [...] Dr. Robert Smith was one of the volunteers on the other end of the hotline [setup for the emergency]. He gave advice to health care providers on how to handle lab work for patients with flu–like symptoms. The Public Health Reserve Corps is made up of medical professionals like Dr. Smith. But half of its volunteers are also people with no health care background. [...] Basically, anyone who's 18 years or older may apply." (Radio transcript from KUOW, WA; 28Sep09; Ruby de Luna)

IOM [Institute of Medicine] issues guidance for disaster prep
"Consistency is the major theme of new guidance from the Institute of Medicine for implementing standards of care during a flu pandemic or any other crisis that causes healthcare resource shortages. The H1N1 influenza pandemic underscores the need for such planning, according to the IOM committee that developed the guidance, but the advice applies to preparations for any major disaster, whether it's pervasive, such as an infectious disease outbreak, or catastrophic like an earthquake. [...] they acknowledged that during a crisis that limits resources, certain situations will require the ethically-justified allocation of resources to those who will most benefit. The guidance represents a preliminary recommendation from the committee, which was chaired by Lawrence Gostin, JD, of Georgetown University Law Center, and included 14 other prominent figures in public health, law, and ethics. The committee found that some states have already starting developing protocols dealing with crisis standards of care, although 'many states have only just begun to address this urgent need.' [...] Kristi Koenig, MD, director of public health preparedness at the University of California Irvine, said broad guidance like this is helpful in sparking dialogue among healthcare professionals and the public about how to handle crises." (Medpage Today; 28Sep09; Todd Neale)

Expert [Joseph Michael]: anthrax spore coatings not unique
"A microscopy expert [Joseph Michael of Sandia National Laboratory, NM, CA] said there was nothing unique about the silica coating found in the anthrax spores recovered from the 2001 letter attacks. The [...] scientific panel confirmed nothing new but provided the group, convened by the National Academy of Sciences, a glimpse into the investigative science used in the wake of the nation's first major bioterrorism event. 'I think the letter powders are not unique with respect to (silica) and (oxygen) elemental signatures,' Sandia said. He said previous studies have shown the same chemical make up of silica added to dried anthrax. Investigators think the silica was introduced to the dried anthrax spores as a way to weaponize the bacteria by making it airborne longer and easier to inhale. [...] The FBI has yet to close its case but has accused Frederick [MD] resident Bruce Ivins, a researcher at Fort Detrick's U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, of processing and mailing the anthrax [spores]. Michael's presentation is part of an 18-month, $880,000 National Academy of Sciences study commissioned by the FBI. [...] Michael studied the powders recovered from letters sent to the Washington offices of Sens. Tom Daschle [D-MD] and Patrick Leahy [D-VT], and the New York Post. He used Scanning Electron and Scanning Transmission Electron microscopes to study the structures of thousands of the irradiated, lifeless spores. Michael said it was clear the silica coating had been added. The same study of the RMR-1029, a flask of liquid Ames strain anthrax investigators think Ivins drew from to create the weaponized powder anthrax, did not contain silica, Michael said." (Frederick News Post; 26Sep09; Adam Mehsudi)

Anthrax [outbreak response] drill hits close to home [York, PA]
"All things considered, Don Aumen was satisfied with a drill to get an antibiotic to treat the deadly effects of anthrax. After maneuvering through a wave of fire policemen, security, medical staff and volunteers, Aumen was given a handful of peppermint Lifesavers, which represented the cure to the deadly powder. Aumen, of Dillsburg, was among the first to test a distribution center and mock drill setup Saturday morning at Northern York County High School. [...] For months, emergency officials have planned for the drill, said Bill Turner, a Carroll Township Emergency Management Agency member and event public information officer. Every conceivable aspect was considered, including security to handle mass hysteria, an information officer to keep people informed, medics to detect the deadly illness, and volunteers to gather information and distribute the antidote. The only twist the drill cannot duplicate is how people would react in an actual emergency. [...] The drill's goal was to get familiar with helpers; understand the delegation of duties, responsibilities and chain of command; and troubleshoot any foreseeable problems, [Bill Hildebrand, point of distribution manager] said. Ideally, it would take 15 minutes for a person to fill out the necessary paperwork, get the right antibiotic and be out the door, he said." (York Daily Record; 26Sep09; Mike Hoover)

Experts disagree over lead agency for labs, classification system
"Federal officials and independent experts this week prodded Congress to consolidate government oversight of the nation's disease research laboratories but offered divergent views about which agency should take the lead role [...] An influx in recent years of billions of dollars for biodefense activities led to rapid expansion of disease research facilities. With that came concerns about accidents and the potential misuse of lethal disease materials. A number of incidents have provided fuel for those worries. The federal government last year levied a $1 million fine against Texas A&M University when it failed to notify authorities that researchers had been exposed to -- and in one case, infected by -- infectious agents. Meanwhile, the FBI last year identified the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax [spore] mailings as a researcher from the Army biodefense site at Fort Detrick, Md. [...] [Senator Benjamin Cardin, D-MD] said most people would turn to the Homeland Security Department as the 'logical place' to have responsibility over facilities working with disease materials. The lawmaker did not elaborate. When DHS compliance assurance program manager Brandt Pasco said the agency only had authority over the 42 sites it funds, Cardin replied, 'That's clearly inadequate.' That same day Cardin said he would call for legislation to select a lead agency to oversee security measures at high-containment laboratories and establish uniform guidelines for those sites, including background checks of researchers, according to a statement from his office." (Global Security Newswire; 25Sep09; Martin Matishak)

Texas A&M works to improve public health in South Texas
"The Texas A&M Health Science Center on Wednesday launched a new Biosecurity and Import Safety Initiative designed to protect the Rio Grande Valley region from the risk of infectious disease, environmental threats and natural disasters. [...] The initiative will be based in the border city of McAllen. Scientists and researchers with Texas A&M will coordinate service, research and education activities in the event of a public health crisis. 'One of the Health Science Center's main objectives with the Biosecurity and Import Safety Initiative will be to increase the likelihood that local public health personnel, health providers and health-related organizations have the tools necessary to immediately recognize emergency situations and, in turn, report potential situations to local and regional public health authorities,' Lillibridge adds. The state will appropriate $1 million over the next two years to establish the groundwork in three major areas: support of public health preparedness for urgent threats; provision of environmental health laboratory services to guard against threats to water and food; and training opportunities for health professionals in McAllen and throughout the Valley region." (Triangle Business News; 23Sep09)

[Honduran president Jose Manuel] Zelaya: Brazilian embassy in Honduras [Tegucigalpa] attacked with gas
"Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya said he and supporters holed up at the Brazilian Embassy [in Honduran capital Tegucigalpa] were victims of a 'neurotoxic' gas attack Friday morning that caused many people to have nose bleeds and breathing difficulties. An official with Brazil's Foreign Ministry told CNN there was some type of gas used in the area but could not confirm it was a nerve agent. [...] Roberto Micheletti, who was named president after the June 28 coup that removed Zelaya, told [...] that his government did not launch a gas attack on the embassy. [...] Journalists [...] were kept several blocks away from the embassy [...] and could not confirm whether a gas attack had taken place. [...] Dr. Mauricio Castellano [a local public health specialist] took air samples near the embassy after the attack and determined that the gas contained HCN, an abbreviation for hydrogen cyanide [a blood agent]. HCN can cause dryness and burning of the throat, shortness of breath, convulsion, coma and cardiovascular collapse. [...Zelaya] showed photographs at the briefing that he said were of soldiers setting up gas-delivery systems and noise machines in neighboring yards. The United Nations Security Council met Friday morning to discuss Brazil's concern over what is happening at its embassy." (Cable News Network; 25Sep09)

New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, others press for federal security funds [New York, NY]
"The arrest last week of former coffee vendor Najibullah Zazi on charges of plotting to attack New York City gives added urgency to the city's pleas for federal funding to deter nuclear attacks, Mayor Bloomberg and area lawmakers said Sunday. 'Despite the incredible job the NYPD is doing, our city does remain a prime target for terrorists,' Bloomberg said. 'That's a fact. And so we can always use more resources, more technology and more boots on the ground to keep this city safe.' City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and U.S. Rep. Peter King of Long Island joined the mayor in pressing Congress for $40 million for a program to ring the region with sensors to detect radioactive material. 'With additional funding of $40 million that we're looking for, we'll be able to put in permanent, fixed cameras and radiation detection equipment at all the entry points into Manhattan,' Kelly said, 'and we'll also be able to establish a regional wireless system that will enable all the partners in this program to get notified immediately if in fact radiation material is discovered.' The Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee is considering the act that would fund the program." (Associated Press; 27Sep09; Karen Matthews)

Forces Arrest Tae Kwon Do Murder Suspect, Others in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2009 - Iraqi forces, aided by U.S. troops, arrested multiple
terrorism suspects, including one accused in a 2006 Tae Kwon Do kidnapping and murder case, and seized weapons throughout Iraq in recent days, military officials reported. Sept. 24, Iraqi soldiers, with U.S. advisors, arrested a suspect in the 2006 kidnapping and murder of Iraq national Tae Kwon Do team members. In May 2006, while the team was en route to Jordan for a training camp, terrorists stopped their vehicle between Ramadi and Fallujah and abducted all 15 team members. In June of the following year, remains believed to be those of the missing team were found.

The force, operating under a warrant issued by the Magistrate Court in Karmah, found the suspect near Khalidiyah. The suspect also is believed to be involved in multiple terrorist activities and crimes against Iraq, officials said.

In Mahmudiyah, Hillah special weapons and tactics team members, with U.S. forces advisors, arrested 16 suspected terrorists yesterday. The Iraqi forces were operating under the authority of warrants issued by the District Court of Babil in accordance with Iraq's anti-
terrorism law. The men are suspected of playing various roles in terrorist activities connected with al-Qaida in Iraq network operating in and around Babil province, officials said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces arrested a vehicle-bomb cell member and five other suspected terrorists yesterday during a series of security operations conducted in central and northern Iraq.

In eastern Ramadi, Iraqi soldiers with U.S. forces advisors arrested two suspects while conducting a warranted search for a known bomb cell member. Along with the wanted man, Iraqi soldiers identified the second suspect as an al-Qaida in Iraq associate believed to be involved in assassinations and attacks against Iraqi security forces and civilians.

In a separate operation, Iraqi police with U.S. forces advisors searched two buildings in Baqubah for a man charged in a warrant with coordinating suicide bomb attacks in Diyala province. Iraqi police apprehended a suspect who attempted to flee from security forces. Police questioned the suspect, who was determined to be an accomplice to criminal and terrorist activity.

In Rashad Valley, Iraqi forces, aided by U.S. troops, arrested three suspects associated with a Kirkuk bomb network. The suspects are believed to be responsible for training others on how to manufacture and employ vehicle-borne explosives.

Elsewhere, Iraqi security forces with U.S. advisors arrested six suspected terrorists Sept. 26 during separate security operations in northern Iraq. The force arrested four people during a search for an al-Qaida in Iraq extortion and finance leader in Mosul. The suspects are believed to be al-Qaida in Iraq associates.

Near Abassi, southwest of Kirkuk, the force arrested the al-Qaida in Iraq military leader of Abassi. The man is charged in a warrant with coordinating and participating in multiple vehicle- bomb attacks targeting Iraqi security forces. The security team also arrested a second suspect near Abassi. Iraqi security forces identified the man as an associate of al-Qaida in Iraq operating in the Hawijah area.

In other operations in Iraq:

-- Iraqi security forces with U.S. soldiers seized three weapons caches near Byaa in Diyala province Sept. 25.

-- Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted a large-scale clearing operation Sept. 23 along a key road in Kirkuk province to prevent insurgents from staging attacks with homemade bombs. Several attacks had taken place recently on the road, which is the main artery from Hawijah to Kirkuk, officials said. The force found multiple command wires used to trigger bombs along the route.

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

Commandos Set to Return to Dramatically Improved Iraq

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2009 - The new 10th Mountain Division commander told his soldiers preparing to deploy that they'll play a critical role in "one of the most challenging and dynamic deployments" to Iraq as they transfer full operational control of the Iraqi security forces to the Iraqi government.
Army Maj. Gen. James L. Terry heralded the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team – "one of the Army's most-experienced, most deployed and most successful brigade combat teams" -- during a rousing Sept. 25 deployment ceremony here outside the division headquarters building.

Hundreds of family members and community leaders gathered around the parade field, filling the seats and bleachers and finding spots on the grass to honor the 2nd BCT "Commandos," who begin deploying next week.

Addressing his soldiers, formed up against the backdrop of giant crossed red swords on a 10th Mountain Division banner, Terry noted the vast improvements in the security situation since the brigade's last deployment in 2006 to what was then known as Iraq's "Triangle of Death."

Fifty-four Commandos died during that 15-month deployment, and hundreds more were wounded as they helped to lay the foundation for progress seen today, Terry said.

"Your combat skill and outreach to the people of Iraq resulted in a dramatic drop in attacks on all coalition forces and the Iraqi population, providing an opportunity for economic growth and governmental authority to take hold," he told his soldiers. "Those tireless efforts are largely responsible for the relative peace and security that abides there today. That is your legacy."

Almost two years after returning from that deployment, the Commandos will build on that legacy as they return to an Iraq that Terry said is changing for the better, and in ways "we could have only hoped for" in 2006.

"You will bear witness to historic times in that country," he said. "This will be a period of transition in Iraq, and it will be one of the most challenging and dynamic deployments since the war began."

As they transfer full operational control of the Iraqi security forces serving a sovereign Iraq, the Commandos will fulfill "what our
Army – our nation – has been working toward for six long years," Terry said.

Terry noted the relentless training the Commandos have undergone during the past two years to prepare for their upcoming mission.

"It has been a well-earned two years of rest – but take note of what rest really is," he said. He pointed to the "countless live-fire exercises," the 25-mile foot marches, and training not only at home station, but also at Yuma, Ariz.; Fort Pickett, Va.; Fort A.P. Hill, Va.; and at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., where the Commandos conducted two mission-ready exercise rotations.

Meanwhile, the brigade also provided training support at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and remained on standby for a no-notice deployment in support of homeland defense.

"This brigade combat team could not be better prepared than they are right now," said Army Col. David Miller, the team's commander. "Your soldiers will excel," he assured the families, and he thanked them for their role in the Commandos' readiness.

"The soldiers on the field are just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "Soldiering is truly a family affair."

Terry assured his soldiers the Fort Drum community will ensure their families are cared for while they're gone. "That is my promise to you, so you can deploy as a focused and ready force, knowing we will look after those you leave behind," he said.

Army Pfc. Kevin Cabrera admitted he's approaching his first deployment with a flurry of emotions. "It's very exciting," he said. "I think we're all looking forward to it, and to brining our mission in Iraq to an end."

Not as exciting, he said, will be saying goodbye to his wife, Erika, and 2-year-old daughter, Alanni. "I hate that part," he said. "What I have to keep in mind is that what we're doing is for the good of the Iraqi people. We really hope to make a difference."

Standing at the sidelines during the ceremony, Erica Andersen shared Cabrera's mixed emotions as she prepared for her husband, Army Spc. Ryan Andersen's, first deployment.

"Of course I'm feeling stress, and some worry, but at the same time, I am very, very proud that he is making this commitment for our nation," she said. "I love him for it, very much, and I am very proud of him."

Although calling the family support network at Fort Drum "amazing," Andersen said she plans to spend her husband's deployment with her extended family in Dallas.

Tamika Shugard, wife of Army Sgt. Aaron Shugard, said she plans to stick out her husband's deployment at Fort Drum. "The family readiness group here is really good," she said. "It does a lot for the soldiers, and I want to be a part of that."

In the meantime, Shugard admitted, she's approaching the first deployment in her two-year marriage by making every minute count before her husband leaves. "I like being in the Army and what it represents, so I'm really excited about this, but at the same time, nervous," she said. "So for now, I'm just trying to spend as much time with him as I can."

Pam Gable has said goodbye to her husband,
Army Staff Sgt. David Gable, during numerous deployments, but never before to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I'm a little afraid," she admitted, but she said she has no doubt her husband and his comrades are prepared for what's ahead.

Gable said she plans to keep herself busy while he's deployed working full-time at the post orthopedic clinic and studying for her nursing degree in her spare time. She expects the deployment to be harder for their three children, especially their 15-year-old son, who's particularly close to his father.

"I try to push it all out of my mind, but every day that goes by, we are getting closer and closer, so you have to deal with it," she said. "I figure the first two weeks will be the hardest. After that, we'll be into our routine and everything will be OK."

Although the days leading up to the deployment are passing all too quickly for many of the family members, some brigade soldiers said the deployment can't come soon enough.

"We've been training for this for a very, very long time," said Army Spc. Joshua Kendall. "What we want now is to get this done and over with so we can get back home."

Army Staff Sgt. Nathanial Scoy, who's served two deployments in Iraq and another in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division before joining the 10th Mountain Division, echoed Kendall's sentiment.

"Right now, I'm just looking at getting over there and getting started," he said. "We've trained a couple of weeks out of every month since I got here, and now it's time for all that to come together. We're ready. We're absolutely ready."

Staff Officer Flies Medevac Missions

By Army Sgt. Neil Gussman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2009 - Army Maj. Brett Feddersen sat in the ready room next to the medical evacuation hangar at 11 p.m. Hunched over his personal computer, he was editing a document for a meeting the next day. "I've got to get some sleep in case we get a 2 a.m. call," he said, mostly to the air. The rest of his crew was asleep or resting, waiting for the call.

Feddersen is a senior staff officer with 2nd Battalion, 104th Aviation Brigade, but two to four days every week he is a medevac pilot on a 48-hour rotation with Alaska-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment. His shift will be over at 9 the following morning, but he had a long flight in the afternoon and a long day of meetings before and after the flight.

"I have to stay balanced," he said. "I have to stay rested, but I have to complete the mission."

It's a challenge he faces both in civilian life and on deployment. Senior Trooper Feddersen has served with the Pennsylvania State
Police since 1995, most recently flying with an aviation patrol unit in the state's southeastern area. Flying medevac missions in addition to his staff duties here makes life hectic, he said, but he added that he lives to fly.

Feddersen arranges his life to complete the staff tasks to the best of his ability, making the time necessary to fly medevac Black Hawk helicopters every week. He is serious and professional when discussing staff duties, but is all smiles and broad hand and arm gestures when he's describing a favorite medevac mission. Even while crawling on top of the helicopter underneath the rotors for pre-flight checks before starting the engines, he clearly is enjoying himself whether under, on top or at the controls of a Black Hawk.

The major said flying medevac missions in Iraq has many similarities with flying for his civilian job.

"Flying for the state
Police is always on an emergency basis," he explained. "The mission can be a lost child, lost hikers or hunters, or a bad-guy pursuit. We get the call, we go."

Medevac is the same. For the first 24 hours of his 48-hour shift, Feddersen and his crew are "second up" -- the backup team that goes if a call comes in and "first up" already is on a mission. During the first day, the crew must be ready to take off within a half hour and can travel only a short distance from the ready hangar. On the second day, the crew moves to "first up," and must be prepared to fly within 15 minutes of receiving a medevac call to meet the Army standard. In Company C, the standard is eight minutes.

Whether at Ali Air Base in Iraq or in Pennsylvania's Twin Valley, the emergency response mission gives Feddersen a sense of accomplishment.

"We make a difference here," he said. "When a soldier is down, we do everything we can to get them care and get them home. At home, when we find the lost child or get the bad guy, it's a great feeling. One big difference here is we have to be more vigilant when landing at a point of injury."

(Army Sgt. Neil Gussman serves with the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade.)

Civilians, Soldiers Work Together for Change in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2009 - Afghan civilians, leaders, and soldiers are working together along with soldiers of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to make their villages and districts safer and more secure in Afghanistan's Konar province. Afghan National
Army elements and ISAF servicemembers from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lethal, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, build stability and security in villages, towns and cities across the province and beyond. Increasingly, officials said, they find themselves receiving help from some friendly faces.

A resident of the province's Sarkani district turned in nine mines to the Manogai district center Sept. 16. The Manogai district sub-governor led soldiers from Task Force Lethal to the district center, and the soldiers safely removed and disposed of the mines.

The local resident was rewarded under the Small Rewards Program, which provides incentives to Afghans who turn in weapons and ordnance and provide tips and information on insurgent activity. ISAF officials said the program has seen a steady increase in positive results.

In the province's Dara Noor district, soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company C, 2-12th Infantry Regiment, trained Afghan soldiers on the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and long-range rifle marksmanship on Combat Outpost Able Main on Sept. 15.

The training covered the fundamentals of use and maintenance for the M249 SAW as the Task Force Lethal soldiers taught Afghan soldiers how to disassemble, clean, and reassemble the weapon. Afghan long-range marksmen learned fundamentals of firing, zeroing, and the proper use of the wind and elevation adjustments.

In the neighboring Pech district, Afghan soldiers and soldiers from Task Force Lethal conducted a joint traffic control point Sept. 14 to prevent the movement of weapons and insurgents in the Pech River valley.

The Afghan and ISAF servicemembers exchanged ideas, and the Afghan soldiers learned new techniques while practicing the skills they already have. This mission is just one of many that focus on building and improving the Afghan security forces that stabilize the area and ensure the safety of Afghan citizens, ISAF officials said.

(From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)

Engineers Work to Replace Washed-out Bridge in Iraq

By Army Pfc. J. Princeville Lawrence
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2009 - Military engineers are nearing the end of a project to build a new bridge near the border of two Afghanistan provinces. The leadership of the 1st Armored Division's 7th Engineer Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, inspected the construction site on Route Arnhem in Afghanistan's Maysan province.

The bridge, located near the border of Dhi Qar and Maysan provinces, will replace a temporary bridge built when the road washed out several years ago.

Engineers have been working in phases for almost six weeks to complete the new bridge before the old bridge is dismantled.

When the new bridge is finished, the 7th Engineer Battalion's soldiers can remove the old bridge safely while minimizing disruptions to normal traffic flow.

"When the bridge comes out, there wouldn't be anything in place to keep the road open, so we built a bypass around the washed-out site," said Army Lt. Col. Chris Barron, the battalion's commander.

The battalion's commander, command sergeant major and technical engineers traveled to the site to check on the final stages of construction. The engineers examined materials and construction methods to determine if the bridge was built according to plan, if it will last for its intended lifespan and if it's strong enough to handle expected traffic.

"We're going over there to check it out -- make sure it's safe, make sure the road will be open and available for traffic and it will be durable for the residents of Dhi Qar and Maysan provinces," Barron said. "Once that's done, then we'll give the go-ahead to pull that military bridge."

The bypass will allow Route Arnhem to remain open as a main route to Contingency Operating Site Garyowen and a conduit for a large part of southern Iraq. Starting at Amara, it cuts across Maysan province and into Dhi Qar, into Karbala, then north to Baghdad.

"There's a lot of traffic out there," Barron said. "We want to maintain the average Iraqi's ability to move west from Amara without having to take a huge, three-hour bypass or take dirt roads."

Most of the work on the bridge is done at night, when there is less heat and traffic. During the day, the soldiers live in tents near the construction site. Two Iraqis who operate the excavators and buckets work with the soldiers.

They were excited to get on the machines, get on that equipment," said Army 1st Lt. Nathaniel Waybrant, battalion design engineer.

When American forces leave, the bridge will be turned over to Iraqi oversight and allow the river of commerce for the people of Iraq to flow unabated from Amara to Baghdad.

(Army Pfc. J. Princeville Lawrence serves with the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)

Army Casaulty

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

Spc. Kevin J. Graham, 27, of Benton, Ky., died Sept. 26 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

For more information media may contact the Fort Lewis public affairs office at (253) 967-0152, (253) 967-0147 or after hours at (253) 967-0015 (ask for the Public Affairs Officer on call).

Afghan, NATO Troops Disrupt Insurgency in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 28, 2009 - Afghan and international forces have captured several militant fighters in southern Afghanistan in the past three days,
military officials reported. Several other insurgents were killed in firefights with combined Afghan and international forces, they said.

Combined Afghan and NATO International Security Assistance Forces today detained several suspects following a search of an insurgent compound in Wardak province known as a Taliban weapons supply center.

The joint force conducted the search in the Chaki Wardak district without incident. No shots were fired, and no Afghan civilians were harmed.

Yesterday, an Afghan and international security force detained several suspects after searching a compound in Kandahar province known to be used by an insurgent leader and his followers.

The search was conducted near the village of Haji Mohammad Ewaz, southwest of Kandahar City. The joint security force detained four suspected insurgents responsible for financial and logistical support of militant attacks in the region. The operation was conducted without incident, and no Afghan civilians were harmed.

On Sept. 26, a joint force detained several suspected insurgents in three separate operations after searching compounds in Wardak and Helmand provinces known to be used by insurgents.

Joint security forces searched a compound north of Ghazni City in Wardak province after intelligence reports indicated militant activity. The force killed enemy militants when they ignored the force's instruction to comply and demonstrated hostile intent. The force then completed its search and identified one of the killed enemy militants as the Taliban facilitator responsible for financial support of militant attacks and dissemination of anti-government media in the region.

In another operation in Wardak province, the joint security force searched compounds near the village of Mohabbat Kheyl and detained a suspected militant member of a Taliban element responsible for financing, supplying and conducting numerous bombing and small-arms attacks against Afghan civilians and infrastructure.

In Helmand province, a joint security force searched a compound near the village of Ali Khafali, north of Lashkar Gah district, and detained two suspected militants. There were no civilian casualties.

(Compiled from NATO International Security Assistance Force news releases.)

McChrystal: Conventional Strategy Won't Win in Afghanistan

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 27, 2009 - The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan ardently believes that conventional military thinking and actions won't win the counterinsurgency war there. "What I'm really telling people is; the greatest risk we can accept is to lose the support of the people here," Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal told "60 Minutes" news program correspondent David Martin during a profile segment that aired tonight.

McChrystal was appointed in June as chief of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Martin traveled to Afghanistan to get McChrystal's thoughts about what it would take to win, or lose, the conflict in Afghanistan.

After arriving in Afghanistan as the top commander, McChrystal said conditions there were "probably a little worse" than he'd expected, noting he was taken aback by the spread of Taliban-committed violence into some of the northern and western portions of the country.

The Taliban are the radical Islamic terrorists that once ran Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan allies chased them from power during Operation Enduring Freedom in the fall and winter following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Prior to their removal from power, the Taliban facilitated al-Qaida's stay in Afghanistan, where al-Qaida ran terrorist training camps and plotted attacks.

Protecting the Afghan population from a resurgent Taliban and thus gaining their support is the key tenet of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, McChrystal told Martin.

"If the people are against us, we cannot be successful," McChrystal said. "If the people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can't be successful and our casualties will go up dramatically,"

McChrystal believes that just focusing on killing the Taliban – without consideration for accidental Afghan civilian casualties or the destruction of their homes – plays into the hands of the enemy.

"Since I've been here the last two-and-a-half months, this civilian casualty issue is much more important than I'd even realized," McChrystal said. "It is literally how we lose the war, or in many ways, how we win it."

Consequently, McChrystal banned air strikes against residential areas, even if the enemy was firing from the buildings.

"We've got some things we absolutely have got to show them we'll do differently," McChrystal said.

Waging conventional war in Afghanistan by blasting away with all the firepower that's available is a non-starter, McChrystal said.

"There's a favorite saying, that to a man with hammer everything looks like a nail," McChrystal said. "We can't operate that way; we can't walk with only a hammer in our hands."

McChrystal makes it point not to wear body armor or carry a sidearm when he visits with Afghan governors or with everyday citizens in public.

The governors and citizens don't wear body armor, McChrystal pointed out, noting it's important that he conveys a message of trust, while demonstrating that he doesn't believe he is more valuable than his Afghan hosts are.

During his travels around the country, McChrystal routinely asks Afghans what U.S. and NATO forces can do to improve their lives -- especially in regard to protecting them from Taliban insurgents.

But, things are going too slow in Afghanistan right now to suit McChrystal.

"We could do good things in Afghanistan for the next 100 years -- and fail," McChrystal said, "because we're doing a lot of good things, (but) it just doesn't' add up to success.

"We've got to think quicker," he said.

McChrystal also voiced frustration with a military bureaucracy that takes too long to provide him with needed staff personnel and other necessities.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "talks in terms of 12 to 18 months to show a significant change, and then we eat up two or three months just on sort of getting the tools out of the toolbox," McChrystal said.

"That really hurts," he said.

An average organization pulls out a calendar when something needs to be done, McChrystal said, while a good organization looks at its watch.

"And, we really have got to get that way," McChrystal said.

McChrystal also has directed that convoy drivers cease driving wildly around on Afghanistan's streets and roads.

Such aggressive driving is perceived by the Afghans "as arrogant" behavior, McChrystal said, and an indicator of "not caring about their right to use their roads."

Bad or dangerous driving constitutes one of many "bad habits we've got to deprogram" in Afghanistan, McChrystal said.

McChrystal's room is shown as a Spartan affair, while the general acknowledges that he eats but once a day, and considers his daily hour-long run that starts at 5 a.m. as leisure time.

A Special Operations officer par-excellence, McChrystal was involved in the separate Iraq operations that captured Saddam Hussein and killed al Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

McChrystal recently submitted to the Pentagon and the White House his assessment of Afghan operations and another report recommending the required number of troops and resources that he thinks will be required to win in Afghanistan.

"I take this extraordinarily seriously," McChrystal said of his duties as the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan. "I believe that what I am responsible to do is to give my best assessment."

McChrystal also said he'd have no qualms if he had to tell President Barack Obama that the mission in Afghanistan couldn't be accomplished.

"And, if I felt that way; the day I feel that way; the day I'm sure I feel that way; I'll tell him that," McChrystal said.