Monday, May 31, 2010

World Trade Center I-beam Unveiled at Bagram

By Army Sgt. Spencer Case
304th Public Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan , May 31, 2010 - More than 200 multinational troops converged in front of the Regional Command East command building here to see an I-beam segment from the World Trade Center unveiled during a Memorial Day ceremony today. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and Army Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 82, also attended the event.

"Today is about people," McChrystal said in his keynote address. "It's about people who we have lost throughout the years and, I think just as importantly, it is about people they have left behind."

McChrystal emphasized the beam's symbolism. Once it provided structure to a building so that life could be lived inside of it. Now, in front of the Regional Command East headquarters, it would continue to provide structure in the mindset of troops.

Following McChrystal's speech, troops applauded as Scaparrotti and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas R. Capel, task force command sergeant major, removed the tarp that covered the 9-foot, 950-pound beam segment.

Residents of Breezy Point, N.Y., donated the beam through an organization called Sons and Daughters of America, Breezy Point. The city of New York had given a number of beams to the residents of Breezy Point after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 30 residents from the small neighborhood in Queens.

After the community constructed a memorial from the beams, Sons and Daughters donated three beams to the U.S. military. One is at the recently opened Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Ga., and the other is aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The third beam arrived here in March, based largely on the efforts of recently redeployed Army Maj. Stephen J. Ryan, a governance planner for Combined Joint Task Force 82 who hails from Breezy Point.

As a tribute to its arrival March 31, soldiers of the 612th Quarter Master Detachment sling-loaded the beam along with a U.S. flag from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and flew around the installation with the beam and flag displayed.

In accordance with the wishes of Sons and Daughters, the beam will remain on loan to successive units in RC East until the last American troops withdraw from Afghanistan. The beam will then be sent to Fort Bragg, N.C.

Airman Touched by Memorial Service in Iraq

By Air Force Master Sgt. Darrell Habisch
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 31, 2010 - This Memorial Day in Iraq, I have shed many tears for a soldier I never met. I was asked to videotape a memorial service for an Army major killed in action May 24 when an improvised explosive device pierced his mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle near Numaniyah in southern Iraq.

The memorial service took place May 27 at Memorial Hall here. Seats were set for 560 people, and it was already half full as soldiers waited for the 10:15 a.m. start time.

It was very quiet with hardly a whisper or sound of a weapon placed on the concrete floor. A projector cast photos of the major on a screen at the front of the stage.

Soldiers filed in and filled up seats until the hall was standing room only. To videotape, I positioned myself toward the front and to the side.

The members of his brigade wore the usual Army combat uniforms, with a few exceptions: instead of camouflaged caps, the members from the 2-108th Cavalry Squadron wore the traditional black Stetson hat with gold tassels, some with blue tassels in reference to that soldier's infantry background. Many wore silver or gold combat spurs on their combat boots to honor their cavalry heritage.

Finally, a soldier asked the assembly to rise for the arrival of the official party. Four soldiers walked on stage.

They talked about what a great guy the major was, his great sense of humor and how he was always concerned about his soldiers.

They talked about how he gave his watch to a young lieutenant who kept asking what time it was, afraid she would miss a meeting. He told her he had worn that watch without taking it off for a year during his last deployment here and he left without a scratch.

He told her to never take it off and she'll go home fine. She is a public affairs officer and every night the watch alarm went off at 6 p.m. She called and asked him how to turn it off and he said he wouldn't tell her. Every evening when the alarm goes off, he told her, she will be reminded that she needs to write more stories about soldiers.

When his seemingly routine mission began, the major asked the squadron to fly a flag in honor of his wedding anniversary that day so he could send it back to his wife. The squadron raised his flag in front of headquarters for him. That afternoon, after the attack, they lowered his flag to half-staff, in his memory.

The service continued with the chaplain speaking of the major's faith and how he knew he would see his friend in heaven. He choked up at the podium and the squadron command sergeant major walked across the stage to support him. The room was silent, save for the sound of more than 500 battle-tested soldiers sniffling.

The chaplain concluded his remarks with a prayer. Immediately, a bagpipe's wail began at the rear of the hall as a single soldier played "Amazing Grace" while marching down the center aisle. He stopped at the memorial at the front.

The memorial was a table covered by a black and gold cloth upon which sat his boots, an inverted rifle standing upright with his helmet placed on top. His dog tags were hanging from the top of the rifle. The table had various items soldiers had placed there: his coffee cup, papers and other things that only have special meaning for them and their lost comrade.

When the song ended, the room was called to attention. The first sergeant on stage called for roll call for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop.

He yelled, "Captain Lloyd!"

A booming voice yelled back, "Here, first sergeant!"

"Major Robinson!"

"Here, first sergeant."

"Major Culver!"

There was silence.

He yelled, "Maj. Ronald Culver!"


He yelled again, "Maj. Ronald W. Culver Jr.!"

And a voice said, "He's not here first sergeant - for he's gone to Fiddler's Green."

Profound silence.

"Sergeant Major, strike Major Culver's name from the roll."

After a few moments the soldiers walked off the stage and taps was played.

Soldiers stood and waited their turn to approach the memorial table, touch the dog tags, leave an item or say a prayer. Each performed a slow salute, turned and marched to a line of waiting comrades to express their condolences and share their grief.

Maj. Ronald "Wayne" Culver was a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment of Shreveport, La. The 44 year-old officer left behind a wife and two teenage children.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht, 24, of College Station, Texas, died May 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the 1stMarine Division public affairs office at760-725-6573 or 760-468-9895.

Personnel recovery team lives up to its motto

by Master Sgt. Kimberley Harrison
U.S. Air Forces Central combat camera

5/28/2010 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (AFNS) -- "These things we do, that others may live." That s the motto for the Airmen of the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron who operate and maintain Joint Base Balad's rescue helicopters.

Training exercises, conducted at both deployed locations and stateside units, are a never-ending way of life for the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron members.

"We train for a very diverse set of search methods," said Capt. Lee Kostellic, a 64th ERQS HH-60 Pave Hawk pilot. "When something actually happens, it's never going to be the perfect training scenario, so we train for multiple circumstances in order for us to have the tools available to do our job."

The squadron was once considered the largest, single combat search and rescue operation since the Vietnam War. The squadron no longer performs the traditional combat-search-and-rescue mission, which was limited to the recovery of downed aircrews from hostile territory.

"We're personnel recovery," said Maj. Jenn Reed, the 64th ERQS director of operations, "We train for the entire spectrum of personnel recovery. CSAR is just one small end of that spectrum."

Personnel recovery has become an increasingly important mission within the joint fight in both Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

"In Afghanistan we're assisting with Army medical evacuations," Captain Kostellic said. "Folks are affected by life, limb, and eyesight injuries daily and the timeliness of our response - the faster we are at what we do and the more efficient we are in what we do - can make the difference between that person surviving or dying."

The Air Force was designated by the Department of Defense as the lead military service for personnel recovery efforts.

There are approximately 48 Airmen - pilots, flight engineers, aerial gunners, pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, aviation resource management and others who make up the rescue squadron.

"We're not a large force, but we're the most highly trained in personnel recovery," Major Reed said. "If we get a call for a mission, it means someone is having a really bad day."

"The most interesting part about the personnel recovery aspect is it tasks our brains because there is always more than one way to skin that cat, Captain Kostellic said. "Sometimes the (pararescuemen) are the answer, sometimes we are the answer but the bottom line is we are here to save lives in the best way possible."

"We're in an unusual situation because we are a low-supply, high-demand asset and we're constantly deployed or preparing to deploy," Major Reed said.

The operations tempo hasn't deterred anyone's motivation and dedication because job satisfaction is second to none.

"Our mission is a noble one," Major Reed said. "When you're part of an effort that allows somebody else to go home to their family, it makes the months we spend away from our families worthwhile."

For first-time deployers, this opportunity offers a unique training experience.

"This is a very good environment to send our brand new guys," Captain Kostellic said. "They can get their feet wet and test their training because there's not a ton of missions here. That's a good thing."

"It's a great place to go on a first deployment," said Senior Airman Joseph Arriza, a 64th ERQS aerial gunner. "I'm learning a lot because I'm actually able to do my job here, so I'm learning the ropes about what an aerial gunner really does."

Job excitement seems to be constant for this personnel recovery team - from the pilots who get everyone where they need to be, the flight engineer and aerial gunner who remain alert for possible trouble, to the pararescuemen who ensure personnel are brought back where they belong, everyone has a job to do and each do it well.

"I think being an aerial gunner is the best job in the Air Force," Airman Arriza said. "It's a big responsibility because you're responsible (for) where those bullets go. You have to think about what you're doing before you do it within such a short span of time when something arises."

In addition to normal CSAR efforts, personnel-recovery teams also respond to mishaps or precautionary landings by any friendly military force, convoys isolated in hostile territory, civil search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, non-combatant evacuation, disaster relief and international aid.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Role Players Provide Key Training Lessons

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - Enter the tiny, fictional village of West Sangan on this sprawling training base and you'll encounter a world about as far removed from western Louisiana as one can imagine. The village, one of 22 dotting the Joint Readiness Training Center, looks as if it's been plucked like Dorothy's house in "The Wizard of Oz" from one of the most isolated regions of Afghanistan and transplanted deep within a Louisiana pine forest.

Its plywood structures have been "Hollywoodized," embellished with Styrofoam facings to resemble authentic-looking mosques, homes, food markets and shops. Goats roam freely, some curling beneath fruit and vegetable carts to seek shelter from the hot sun. Clothing hangs from the windows as if set out to dry, and residents dressed in authentic Afghan garb sit together at tables and in doorways, chatting away the hours.

These residents -- portrayed by civilian role players, many from the Middle East – serve as the single most important training feature the Joint Readiness Training Center offers units preparing for deployments to Afghanistan.

The role players represent the people behind the population-centric U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. They're the Afghan citizens who must reject the Taliban and al-Qaida and embrace the Afghan government and its security forces for that strategy to succeed. So as units encounter these villages during their training rotations here, a huge teaching point is on the line.

West Sagan is "amber," explained Veronica Wilson, team leader for the village's role players. That means its population is neither "red," with allegiances to the insurgency, nor "green," supporting the Afghan government, and by extension, the coalition.

So when U.S. troops enter the village, operating in ways they hope will turn the village fence-sitters in their favor, Wilson and her co-workers do their best to remain in character and maintain a hard line.

"We will accept anything they are telling us and anything they will give us," she said. "We just won't give them any information in return."

Some of the role players, like Darrell Thrasher, serve as Afghan security forces and join the rotational training units in combined operations. Wearing the blue uniform of an Afghan National Police officer with the Afghan flag patch on his sleeve, he explained the big changes over the past five years in how rotational training units interact with host-nation security forces.

"There's been a huge transformation of tactics," Thrasher said. "At the beginning, they would have full-on engagement with the enemy with no local interaction. ... But that has all changed. It's gone from the [rotational training unit] acting on its own to one that recognizes the importance of working with the population."

Many of the training center's role-players were born and raised in the Middle East and bring important cultural and language lessons to the training scenarios. Aziz Shoja, who left his native Afghanistan 28 years ago, now serves as a tribal elder here. Abdul Resuli, who arrived in the United States from Afghanistan just last year, plays a religious leader.

As he witnesses realistic training designed to prepare troops for Afghanistan deployments, Shoja takes advantage of every opportunity to impart some of the cultural knowledge that will help their cause.

"We try to teach them everything we can about our country, from A to Z," he said. "This is an important part of the training they get here. And it can save not just their lives, but Afghan lives, too."

James "Fuzzy" Hall, a role player in West Sangan's butcher shop, tries to interject some lessons, too. Hall paid his first visit to Fort Polk to attend Army basic training in 1963 before being stationed in Korea, then deploying to Vietnam. He remembers sadly how many of his buddies returned from Vietnam in body bags, and said he's back at Fort Polk almost 50 years later because he wants to save today's troops from the same fate.

"In Vietnam, we didn't win the hearts and minds of the people, because we didn't learn to show them respect," he said. "If we had had training like this back then, many of the ones who were killed would have come home."

Although Hall is supposed to be a fence-sitter in his training role, he admitted he sometimes breaks out of character to tip off soldiers when he notices them doing something amiss. If, for example, he notices a medic's weapon dragging in the dirt while attending to his simulated injuries, he'll whisper to the soldier to clean his weapon.

"It's so hard when you see them making mistakes that could get them killed," he said. "The way I see it, if I have helped save one soldier's life, I have done my duty."

Across the board, a sense of duty drives the role players here as they pull long hours in often-uninviting conditions to give deploying troops a jump on what they'll encounter in Afghanistan.

Wilson, wife of a retired soldier who deployed to the first Gulf War, understands what the importance of the lessons troops learn here. "When they leave us, they are going to be deployed," she said. "So we do everything we can to help bring someone's husband or son or daughter home.

"You can always be rekeyed here," she continued, referring to the laser gear soldiers wear here that simulates when they've been hit by enemy fire. "You can't be rekeyed over there, when it's real."

John Cummings, known around West Sangan as "Big John," gets up at 2 every morning to drive to Fort Polk. He's been a role player here since January, often incorporating his real-life leg amputation into an exercise scenario.

"All of us feel that the reward for doing this work is the training that we are giving these people," he said. "We're so proud to be doing this, knowing that what we do here is helping keep them out of harm's way when they're overseas."

(This is the last article in a five-part series about how the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., is preparing the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.)


An Inside Look at Special Training

05/28/10 - When Special Agent Rick M. deployed to Afghanistan for temporary duty in 2004, only a handful of FBI personnel were assigned to the war theater, and the Bureau had no formal training program to prepare them for the experience.

Today, much has changed. Hundreds of our agents, analysts, and support staff have volunteered for assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Agent M.—who has returned overseas several times since his first trip—is one of the people in charge of their pre-deployment training.


Now, all FBI personnel going to Afghanistan and Iraq—with assignments ranging from four months to a year—attend an intensive two-week training program to prepare them for what the military calls the “non-permissive environment” they will encounter. attended a recent training class in Utah, and over the next several weeks—with articles, pictures, and video—we will report on the training, the veteran instructors who administer it, and the “students” who will soon be using their new knowledge in-country to support a variety of FBI missions.

“We base the training in Utah—especially in the remote mountains around Salt Lake City—because the area is similar to conditions in Afghanistan,” Agent M. said. “The climate, elevation, and topography are in many ways the same.”

Run by our International Operations Division, the pre-deployment program consists of indoor classroom training—everything from administrative details about visas and passports to briefings on insurgency activity—as well as outdoor instruction in Utah’s harsh winter climate at nearly 6,000 feet above sea level.

Classes include hands-on weapons training, land navigation techniques, and emergency trauma medicine. “We go through a lot of fake blood,” said Agent M., one of the program’s four coordinators. He added that the 12 consecutive days of rigorous instruction is “like taking a drink from a fire hose,” but there is no other alternative.

“To try to train somebody overseas—when they’ve just traveled on an airplane for 30 hours, are sleep deprived, and are under real-world stress—is not really an option,” he explained. “What we strive for with pre-deployment training is that you shouldn’t see or hear anything in country that you haven’t already seen or heard here first.”

The program has expanded as our mission in the war theater has expanded. When Agent M. first went to Afghanistan, the few agents there mostly provided expertise to the military. But now, working through our legal attaché program in coordination with the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bureau is involved with just about every kind of investigation in the war theater that we carry out domestically, from public corruption and kidnapping cases to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction matters.

“We’ve given this training to agents, analysts, linguists, IT specialists—you name the discipline, they’ve come through the class,” he said.

Since the pre-deployment program was officially established at the end of 2004, hundreds of Bureau personnel have benefited from the instruction.

“For the FBI folks who raise their hand to go into a war zone,” Agent M. said, “we owe it to them to provide the most applicable and relevant training possible prior to their deployment.”

Jury Convicts Pakistani Citizen of Conspiring to Support the Taliban and Unlawful Possession of Firearms

HOUSTON—After a three-day trial, a federal jury has convicted Adnan Mirza, 33, of all nine counts in an indictment arising from his efforts to provide support and funds to the Taliban, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno announced. Mirza, a citizen of Pakistan, had entered the United States on a student visa and was attending a local community college in 2005 and 2006 when he committed the offenses for which he was convicted.

The jury returned its verdicts Thursday night, finding Mirza guilty of conspiracy to unlawfully possess firearms, conspiracy to provide funds to the Taliban and all seven counts of unlawful possession by an alien of firearms and ammunition. U.S.District Judge Ewing Werlein, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for Sept. 10, 2010. Mirza faces a maximum of five years imprisonment for each of the two conspiracy convictions as well as fines of up to $250,000. Each of the five unlawful possession of firearms or ammunition by an alien carries a maximum fine of $250,000 and a term of confinement of not more than 10 years. Mirza has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest and will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing.

During the trial, the government presented evidence that proved Mirza, a foreign national who had entered the United States on a student visa, is not permitted by federal law to possess firearms while in this country. Through an FBI undercover investigation, the evidence also proved Mirza and others engaged in weekend camping/training and practice sessions with firearms on six different occasions beginning in May 2006 at a location on the north side of Houston to prepare for Jihad. Evidence also proved Mirza and the others intended to send funds to the Taliban.

The investigation leading to the charges against Mirza and others was conducted by the Houston office of the FBI with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Deputy Criminal Chief Glenn Cook and Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister prosecuted the case for the United States.

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, May 28, 2010

Drug defeats deadly ebola virus infection
"An RNA-based drug has treated an infection of the deadly Ebola virus – the first drug to have been shown to do so in all recipients. Ebola Zaire virus kills 90 per cent of the people it infects. There are experimental vaccines that protect people given it before they are exposed to the virus, but there has been no drug to help those who are already infected. [...] Four rhesus monkeys infected with the virus all survived after receiving the drug for seven days, starting 30 minutes after infection." (New Scientist; 28May10; Andy Coghlan)

Europe looking out for Q fever
"In the wake of the ongoing Dutch epidemic of Q fever European authorities have issued expert advice to help officials weigh up the threat. On request by the European Commission, a risk assessment published this week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and reports released earlier by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recommend steps that should be taken to prevent and reduce spread of the disease in the region. [...] 'Active surveillance' should be used during an epidemic, according to the ECDC. This type of surveillance helps to detect cases by mandating that people at high risk are tested for the disease even if they show no symptoms. But finding 'clusters' or outbreaks of Q fever in areas free of the disease is more difficult. The experts suggest that this can be done by looking out for cases of acute respiratory infection, or by 'syndromic surveillance' -- a disease-monitoring system that relies on picking up cases through information on clinical syndromes such as pneumonia, without testing for the bacteria in the laboratory. Syndromic surveillance systems have been developed for Q fever, says the ECDC, because the C. burnetii bacteria are a category B bioterrorism agent. But there is 'no convincing evidence' that the system is efficient in practice, it says." (Emerging Health Threats Forum; 26May10)

Novel therapeutic approach shows promise against multiple bacterial pathogens
"A team of scientists from government, academia and private industry has developed a novel treatment that protects mice from infection with the bacterium that causes tularemia, [...and] three other types of disease-causing bacteria that, like the tularemia bacteria, occur naturally, can be highly virulent, and are considered possible agents of bioterrorism. [...] The experimental therapeutic works by stimulating the host immune system to destroy invading microbes." (National Institutes of Health; 27May10; Ken Pekoc)

Safety rules can’t keep up with biotech industry
"Whether handling deadly pathogens for biowarfare research, harnessing viruses to do humankind's bidding or genetically transforming cells to give them powers not found in nature, the estimated 232,000 employees in the nation's most sophisticated biotechnology labs work amid imponderable hazards. And some critics say the modern biolab often has fewer federal safety regulations than a typical blue-collar factory. Even the head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration acknowledges that his agency's 20th-century rules have not yet caught up with the 21st-century biotech industry. 'Worker safety cannot be sacrificed on the altar of innovation,' said David Michaels, OSHA's new director. 'We have inadequate standards for workers exposed to infectious materials.' [...] three trends are stoking concern among safety advocates. In the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks, the federal government stepped up research involving biowarfare threats, like anthrax, Ebola and many other of the world's deadliest pathogens. Another factor is that the new techniques of so-called synthetic biology allow scientists to make wholesale genetic changes in organisms [...] The third trend involves [...] Drug makers, responding to competition from cheap generic medications, are moving beyond the traditional business of making pills in chemical factories to focus instead on vaccines and biologic drugs that are made in vats of living cells." (New York Times; 27May10; Andrew Pollack and Duff Wilson)

[Bigham Young University] BYU holds bioterror[ism] simulation [provo, ut]
"Brigham Young University's LaVell Edwards Stadium on Tuesday played host to emergency management responders instead of football fans. Those in attendance received training that would help them respond to a bioterrorism attack when the stadium is at capacity, according to the Desert News. The Utah County Health Department coordinated the drill, which involved volunteers acting as victims of a biological weapons attack. [...] The county health department participated in the exercise with officials from agencies including the Utah Transit Authority, Provo police and fire departments, the National Guard and the Red Cross, according to the newspaper." (Bioprepwatch; 27May10; Ted Purlain)

U.S. government stockpiles new, safer smallpox vaccine
"The U.S. government has begun bolstering its smallpox vaccine stockpile with a new version designed to close a gap that left millions vulnerable to a bioterror[ism] attack. The vaccine, Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic's Imvamune, is made with modified vaccinia ankara, a safer alternative to the cowpox vaccines used for generations. Company officials say the first shipments arrived in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile last week, within hours of a World Health Organization ceremony marking eradication of the disease, widely regarded as one of the great public health achievements of all time. [...] Though natural transmission has ceased, the virus lives in freezers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and possibly [sic] in Russia, where Soviet scientists are believed to have created tons of weaponized smallpox [virus]. The breakup of the Soviet Union and the rise of global terrorism led the USA a decade ago to begin stockpiling vaccine." (USA Today; 25May10; Steve Sternberg)

County restaurants getting defense kits to combat food-related bioterrorism [Multnomah County, OR]
"Multnomah County proposed the project, got the grant and wrote the guidelines. Now it's passing out binders in hopes of preventing a food-related bioterrorism attack. The county's Food Defense Toolkit is being distributed to restaurants in hopes of protecting them from food poisoning sprees like the one in The Dalles [OR] in 1984. That year, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh sprinkled Salmonella [typhi] on salad bars in 10 restaurants, sickening more than 750 people. The county -- and the Food and Drug Administration -- hopes its new guidelines will prevent similar attacks. 'These things don't occur often, but they're serious when they happen,' said Rosa Klein, a county health educator. The FDA has guidelines to prevent a bioterrorism attack in food processing facilities, Klein said, but nothing was being done in restaurants. So in 2008, the county applied for a grant. The agency liked the idea, forked over $40,000, and the county got to work." (; 25May10; Lynne Terry, The Oregonian)

Newark's ANP [Technologies] gets federal funding for detection technology [Newark, DE]
"U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and Congressman Mike Castle (R-Del.) announced $2.4 million in federal funding for ANP Technologies in Newark. ANP is receiving funds for research, development, testing, and evaluation to develop a handheld device for detection of a variety of biological warfare agents related to bacteria and viruses. 'Today's funding announcement is good for local, national, and international reasons,' Sen. Kaufman said. 'It is a boon to our national defense system, American innovation, and the local community. Small, flexible, and ambitious companies like ANP are the integral piece in getting the U.S. economy moving again.' 'I am proud that the delegation was able to support the important, life-saving work that is being done at ANP Technologies,' Congressman Castle said. 'Unfortunately, the realistic battlefield of today puts our soldiers in constant danger of a biological attack. This type of technology will help our military to test for biological agents and respond immediately during high-threat situations.' 'This money will go a long way in helping keep not just our men and women in uniform safe but our entire nation as well,' said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in a statement. 'With the research and development being done right here in Delaware, we can help prevent the very real threat of biological terrorist attacks.'" (Newark Post; 24May10)

Mail carriers part of plan to combat anthrax attacks [sic] [MN]
"A plan to combat an anthrax attack [sic] in Minnesota has mail carriers on the front lines. The state has received about $6 million from the federal government to put toward anthrax emergency preparedness, a result of anthrax scares following Sept. 11, 2001. It's an effort involving state lab workers, law enforcement and mail carriers. 'We don't know when something will happen, if it will happen or what it'll be, but the last thing we want to do is get flat-footed,' said Capt. Matt Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol. A security-tight lab operated by the Department of Health is charged with testing material for anthrax [bacteria]. A risk of airborne exposure could prompt the distribution of antibiotic pill packs supplied by the federal government. 'They're committed to getting meds to us within 12 hours,' said Aggie Leitheiser of the department's Office of Emergency Preparedness. About 50 state troopers would escort the antibiotics to distribution sites. That's where mail carriers like Pam Donate would come in. She's one of 400 volunteers trained to leave medication in mailboxes in Minneapolis and St. Paul during an anthrax attack [sic]." (American Broadcasting Corporation: Austin, MN; 21May10; Colleen Mahoney and Lauren Radomski)

New chem[ical weapons destruction] depot weapons plan mulled [Pueblo, CO]
"Irene Kornelly, chairwoman of the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission, said Wednesday that she doesn't expect Pentagon officials to make a decision until mid-June and the commission doesn't meet until the last Wednesday in June. Late last year, the head of the Defense Department agency assigned to destroy the Pueblo Chemical Depot's stockpile of 780,000 artillery shells and mortar rounds containing mustard agent said he'd been asked to see if using new explosive technologies on some of the weapons could speed up the process. Kevin Flamm, manager of the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, said a few weeks ago that his agency came up with several proposals, including one that would blow up as many as 125,000 weapons in sealed chambers, a move that could trim several months off the entire demilitarization process [...] The rest of the weapons would go through the water neutralization plant under construction." (Pueblo Chieftain; 28May10; John Norton)

Tokyo court rejects damage claims by China victims of WW2 chemical weapons left by Japan
"A Tokyo court rejected compensation claims Monday by a group of Chinese plaintiffs over the death and the sickening of 44 people after construction workers broke open several barrels of World War II poison gas abandoned by Japanese troops. The plaintiffs -- 43 people injured and five relatives of one who died in the 2003 accident in Qiqihar city, northeastern China -- demanded the Japanese government pay 1.43 billion yen ($16 million) in damages. Japan's government was not responsible for the accident, the court said, noting, however, residents faced imminent danger from chemical weapons left behind in the area. The plaintiffs have complained of painful blisters, weakened vision, coughs and chronic fatigue. The abandoned chemical weapons are part of the legacy of Japan's wartime conquests in East Asia that still complicate Tokyo's relations with Beijing." (Los Angeles Times; 24May10; Mari Yamaguchi),0,5543175.story

NYPD gripe over bomb-sniffing stiffing [concerns funding for radiological detectors New York, NY]
"NYPD officials are frustrated with the Department of Homeland Security delay in releasing funds that the Finest badly need for the prevention of a 'dirty bomb' attack. The Police Department said it has been trying since last fall to obtain an $8 million federal grant for a radiation detection system, which would instantly read data from 4,500 sensors in cop cars across the region to intercept vehicles carrying explosive devices. 'There are bureaucratic hurdles and delays between the time you apply for the money, and when you actually get to use it,' said Jessica Tisch, policy and planning director in the NYPD counter-terrorism bureau. The money to set up the radiation-reading system in a Lower Manhattan command center would come from funds allocated in 2008 for the 'Securing the Cities' program. It took the feds five months to respond to the November request -- and only to ask for more information. After inquiries by the Post on Friday, a Homeland Security spokeswoman said the department now has all the information it needs, and the project 'will be approved in the near future.'" (New York Post; 23May10; Susan Edelman)

CTR [Cooperative Threat Reduction] program deactivates six more nuclear warheads
"The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program last month rendered inoperable six strategic nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) announced yesterday. The Nunn-Lugar initiative's April accomplishments also included elimination of two ICBMs, six mobile ICBM launchers and 75 metric tons of Russian chemical-weapon agent. In addition, the program safeguarded five nuclear-weapon train shipments. Since being established in 1991 to secure and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in one-time Soviet states, the program has deactivated 7,539 strategic nuclear warheads and destroyed 781 ICBMs, 498 ICBM silos, 168 mobile ICBM launchers, 651 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 476 SLBM launchers, 32 ballistic missile-capable submarines, 155 strategic bombers, 906 nuclear air-to-surface missiles and 194 nuclear test tunnels." (Global Security Newswire; 27May10)

Center [Beijing Second Artillery General Hospital] ready for war
"Nuclear warfare, bio-chemical weapons, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and pathogen outbreaks are the emergencies Beijing's first 24/7 public health emergency center is equipped to handle. Linked up with the country's military command, the 300-million yuan ($44 million) center opened Monday morning 500 meters north of the Jishuitan subway station. The 50,000-square-meter center nominally functions as an outpatient building for the Beijing Second Artillery General Hospital, with 15 floors above ground and three below. At 9 am Monday the center was available to deal with round-the-clock public medical emergencies, setting aside medicine, staff and hospital beds for up to 100 patients. The hospital next to the emergency center has also developed 22 different protocols to respond to and deal with instances of nuclear warfare, bio-chemical weapon attacks, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and pathogen outbreaks. The hospital has an information platform that connects the Red Cross's 999 emergency hotline and the city's 120 medical hotline with the military command center. The platform makes use of a video system that can be installed in ambulances to transmit live video feedback to the hospital." (Global Times; 25May10; Li Shuang)

Distribution of gas masks goes smoothly in nationwide drill
"At schools, post offices and community centers across the country on Wednesday, soldiers from the Home Front Command handed out gas masks to citizens, to use in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack. At the Reading power station in north Tel Aviv, dozens of soldiers worked at eight stations handing out gas masks and showing people how to use them. Capt. Eyal Cohen, who was supervising the facility, said that by the early afternoon around 200 people had arrived to pick up masks for themselves and their family members, and that so far the distribution was proceeding much like last year's. 'For the most part it's just like last year's handout, but it seems that people are more aware of what we're doing and are coming in larger numbers,' he said. In the morning, air raid sirens sounded throughout the country and citizens were asked to enter the nearest bomb shelter or safe room." (Jerusalem Post; 27May10; Ben Harmtan and Yaakov Katz)

Israel holds defense drill amid regional tension
"Israel held a dress rehearsal for disaster Sunday, beginning a defense drill to test the response of soldiers, emergency crews and civilians to simulated missile barrages, terrorist attacks and chemical strikes. Israel embarked on its fourth annual home front drill at a time when Iranian-backed militants are rearming to Israel's north and south, and Iran itself is suspected of developing nuclear arms, despite its denials. The five-day exercise, the biggest in Israel's history, has raised allegations by the country's enemies that it is preparing for war -- a concern Israel has sought to allay. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the drill is a 'routine exercise that was scheduled long ago.' 'I want to emphasize that this is not a result of any abnormal security development,' he told his Cabinet on Sunday. 'On the contrary, Israel wants quiet, stability and peace, but it is no secret that we live in a region that is under threat of missiles and rockets.' Israel began carrying out the annual exercise, code-named Turning Point, after its 2006 war with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon showed the country's bomb shelters, air raid sirens and civil defense authorities were unprepared. The exercise also incorporates lessons from Israel's 2009 war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip." (Associated Press; 23May10; Amy Teibel)

National Security Strategy: May 2010
"The American people face no greater or more urgent danger than a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. And international peace and security is threatened by proliferation that could lead to a nuclear exchange. Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, the risk of a nuclear attack has increased. Excessive Cold War stockpiles remain. More nations have acquired nuclear weapons. Testing has continued. Black markets trade in nuclear secrets and materials. Terrorists are determined to buy, build, or steal a nuclear weapon. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered in a global nonproliferation regime that has frayed as more people and nations break the rules. That is why reversing the spread of nuclear weapons is a top priority. Success depends upon broad consensus and concerted action, we will move forward strategically on a number of fronts through our example, our partnerships, and a reinvigorated international regime." (White House; 26May10)

Auditor: Portland [OR] Office of Emergency Management needs to improve coordination
"A Portland city audit to be released today shows that the office tasked with coordinating emergency response could do a better job. In her report, City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade found that the city's basic emergency operations plan is outdated, emergency responder training is infrequent, and efforts to inform the public are disjointed. In short, the Portland Office of Emergency Management needs to beef up its 72-hour emergency 'kit.' 'They have taken a reactive, rather than proactive, approach to emergency management,' said Drummond Kahn, director of Audit Services. 'They have not completed a comprehensive risk assessment or a strategic plan to guide emergency preparedness efforts and planning.' The emergency management office and Mayor Sam Adams, who oversees it, agreed in large part with the findings. A big problem, according to the emergency office, is that it can't order other bureaus to work together or to improve bureau-specific responses to a dirty bomb or earthquake." (; 24May10; Janie Har, The Oregonian)

Suspicious bag leads to live demonstration of new bomb truck [Fort Wayne, IN]
"Less than two hours before it was to be formally unveiled to local media Friday, the Fort Wayne Police Department's 'total containment vessel' – in essence, a truck used for bomb gathering and disposal – made a far more dramatic entrance to the city's streets. The police department received a report around 11 a.m. of a suspicious bag left on the north end of the Clinton Street bridge, and after officers noticed wires protruding from the duffel bag, the department's bomb squad was summoned, along with its $310,000 toy – so new it still doesn't have the police logo or sirens. The vessel looks like a steel box truck on steroids. Upon arrival, bomb squad officers began to maneuver a separate robotic device to the duffel bag for retrieval. After picking up the bag – bomb squad commander Sgt. Greg Stier said it appeared to be a police-issued bag – the remote-controlled robot carried it over the bridge and put it in the vessel. That's when the real benefit of having one of these trucks was witnessed. Rather than have officers investigate the bag while on a busy thoroughfare, two lanes of Clinton were reopened as the vessel performed its duty, which is to safely hold devices and contain any explosions or chemical and biological agents. 'Normally what we'd do is come and disrupt it,' said Stier. 'Now, we just put it in the sphere and take off, and we can take a look at it and dispose of it later.'" (News-Sentinel; 22May10; Aaron Organ)

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

Iraqis Arrest 5 Terrorism Suspects

Compiled from U.S. Forces Iraq News Releases

May 28, 2010 - Iraqi security forces arrested four terrorism suspects today during three combined operations conducted with U.S. advisors.

In northwestern Baghdad, Iraqi forces arrested a suspected criminal associate during an operation seeking a Promised Day Brigade terrorist group leader who allegedly is involved in sniper, indirect-fire and roadside-bomb attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

Meanwhile, in western Baghdad, Iraqi forces arrested three suspected criminal associates while seeking an al-Qaida in Iraq leader who allegedly is involved in high-profile vehicle-bomb attacks and has ties to senior leadership of the terror organization. A combined operation in western Mosul targeting an al-Qaida in Iraq leader who allegedly is in charge of security for the terror organization and has close ties to its senior leadership led to the arrest of a suspected criminal associate of the wanted man.

Operation Improves Security in Afghan Province

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

May 28, 2010 - Afghan soldiers, supported by International Security Assistance Force troops, have completed a clearing operation aimed at disrupting insurgent presence in and around Bala Murghab, north of Heart in Afghanistan's Badghis province, military officials reported.

After several days of fighting, Afghan soldiers and their coalition partners, using close-air support and mortar fire, removed insurgents from the southern edge of Bala Murghab during Operation "Subh Bakhair," or "Good Morning."

The increased security is allowing Afghan and international forces to distribute food and provide medical assistance to residents, officials said. It's also allowing long-term projects to begin, including the renovation of a bridge on the river Darya-Ye-Murghab, which will link several communities in the area.

The operation is the first phase of operations to allow for the completion of Highway 1 in the province. The section running through Bala Murghab is unpaved, officials noted, which greatly hinders travel and commerce in northwestern Afghanistan.

In other news from Afghanistan, Afghan and international partners discovered and destroyed two bomb factories in Kandahar province recently.

An Afghan-international security force found insurgents, weapons and homemade bombs during a clearing operation this week. A large combined force searched several compounds, buildings and open fields for insurgents and their weapons after intelligence information verified militant activity in an area south of the village of Kudezai.

During the two-day operation, the security force found a bomb factory with high explosives, mortar rounds, many active bombs, including one planted inside a house, as well as rocket-propelled grenades, and automatic rifles and hand grenades. The illegal munitions were destroyed in place.

During the search, insurgents tried to engage the combined force, and several were shot and killed. Several suspected insurgents were detained for questioning, and many women and children were protected during the operation, officials said.

Afghan army commandos, assisted by U.S. special operations forces, also destroyed a bomb factory in Kandahar province May 24. As the combined force searched several compounds, they were engaged multiple times with small-arms, rocket and mortar fire during the 20-hour mission. The combined force returned fire from their ground positions and from a supporting helicopter, killing several armed insurgents.

During a search of the compounds, the combined force found two homemade bombs rigged to detonate, 16 anti-personnel mines, laboratory equipment and bomb-making materials, as well as ammonium nitrate and other fertilizer used in the construction of roadside bombs. The combined force also found numerous mines throughout a nearby poppy field.

The compound with the ammonium nitrate and anti-personnel mines was determined unsafe, and coalition close-air support was called in to destroy the materials after Afghan commandos cleared all areas of civilians.

In a separate operation, an Afghan-international security force detained several individuals suspected of insurgent activity in Nimroz province yesterday. The security team intercepted the suspects in a vehicle in a rural area in the Kash Rod district after intelligence information confirmed insurgent activity.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guardsman Creates With Metal

By Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Hughes
Combined Joint Task Force 82

May 27, 2010 - Just as some look at a blank canvas and imagine art, Army Sgt. Theodore Sweet looks at a piece of metal and sees innovations. With the creativity of a sculptor and the weathered hands of a metal worker, he uses his workshop as his studio and scrap metal as his canvas to create everything from brackets to bed frames.

His work isn't displayed in an art gallery. It is used by soldiers every day in the field.

Sweet is a welder from the Vermont Army National Guard serving here with Company E, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment. His inventions and repairs have been integral to the success of not only the soldiers in his battalion, but also the Afghan army and special operations soldiers.

"It seems like every day I make a new creation," Sweet said. "Sometimes it seems like they're looking for miracles, but in the end it always works out."

One of his inventions is a mount for an M-240B machine gun that he engineered for an all-terrain vehicle for Special Forces soldiers. The vehicle, similar to a common four-wheeler, had no weapon system before Sweet got his hands on it.

It turned out to be an effective tool aiding special operations soldiers during a firefight.

"It definitely enhanced our capability to maneuver on the enemy," said one soldier, who didn't give his name for security reasons.

Another of Sweet's inventions is an improved ammunition box for a Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher. The weapon is mounted in the turret on top of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles that soldiers use every day to travel around Afghanistan as one of their first lines of defense against attacks on their convoys.

Normally, the soldiers can expend about 50 rounds of ammunition before they have to reload. With Sweet's invention mounted in the turret, they can fire three times as many rounds before having to reload. This invention has also been tested and proven in combat by soldiers, Sweet said.

Sweet said he's asked daily to invent or replicate tools and hardware that normally are made by industrial machines.

"I just give him a drawing and he makes it work," said Gerard Pantin, a civilian contractor. "Any type of welding we want, he comes up with the design and executes."

"It's like molding clay," Sweet said.

Sweet has only been a certified military welder for about two years. As a traditional National Guard soldier, this is not his full-time occupation. At his home in Burke, N.Y., Sweet is a Clinton County corrections officer. His background in welding came from growing up on a farm, restoring old cars and working in a junkyard.

Sweet also knows first-hand the importance of having effective equipment in combat. In addition to his civilian experience, he draws on his combat experience from his first deployment, where he served as a tanker in Ramadi, Iraq, from 2005 to 2006.

"There's not much we can give him that he can't fix," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Larry Grace, the support maintenance technician supervisor for Company E.

Through his ingenuity, Sweet has proven that it is possible to not only think outside the box, but also to take that box and weld it into a life-saving innovation.

Opposing Force Puts Deploying Troops to Test

Opposing Force Puts Deploying Troops to Test

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 27, 2010 - For the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, Army Spc. Kevin Pemberton is the bane of their existence.He's the face of the insurgency they will face when they deploy to Afghanistan this summer – an ever-adapting enemy that seemingly will stop at nothing to kill coalition and Afghan troops, instill fear in the population and, ultimately, derail Afghan progress.

Pemberton has spent the past 15 months as a member of the Joint Readiness Training Center's permanent opposing force here. The 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, lurks in the shadows throughout every training rotation.

Its members, referred to as "Geronimo" or simply "G-Men," plant mock improvised explosive devices throughout the miles of dusty roadways that cut through the center's pine forests. They rig vehicles with explosives designed to create mayhem. They set up ambushes and launch small-arms and rocket-propelled-grenade attacks against coalition and Afghan forces.

And they blend inconspicuously among the Afghan population the security forces are working to protect, portrayed by role players dressed in authentic Afghan clothing.

Pemberton, in his mid-20s, grew a heavy beard and mustache to keep rotational training units like the 4th BCT "Currahee" from easily identifying him as a soldier. He dresses in a traditional dishdasha robe and turban.

The only thing that differentiates his appearance from the typical Afghan is the reddish cast to his hair and the laser gear he and the other players in the maneuver box wear to add realism to the training by detecting when the wearer has been wounded or killed.

Like most of the Geronimo force, Pemberton has been deployed to Afghanistan and has witnessed insurgent tactics up close and personal. He incorporates his own experiences from the 15 months he spent in northern Afghanistan's Kunar province with regular updates his battalion gets to keep the opposing force current in ever-evolving insurgent tactics.

He also keeps close tabs with his buddies in the combat theater, to hear directly from them what the enemy is up to.

"We know what they are doing over there," he said, citing his most recent report from the theater, of a female insurgent who launched an RPG from a motorcycle in Wardak province.

"That doesn't mean we're going to start attacking from motorcycles here," he said. "But our goal is to replicate what is happening there the best we can, and to make it as realistic and challenging as possible for the [rotational training units].

Pemberton enjoys the authority driven down to more junior levels within the opposing force here. There's less free play now than during past training rotations that focused on the Iraq theater, but he takes pride in personalizing his role in the bigger ambushes and more complex operations the opposing force now conducts.

"I try to take what's going on in Afghanistan and put a little of my own signature on it," he said.

Last week, Pemberton played the role of a suicide bomber intent on disrupting the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a municipal building in the fictional Afghan village of Sangari. He arrived at the village – one of 22 mock Afghan villages dotting the training center's 200,000 acres – hours before the ceremony, slipping in before the 4th Brigade Combat Team and its Afghan counterparts had set up a security perimeter.

Beneath his flowing robe, he concealed a suicide vest rigged with five bricks of C4 explosives. Tucked in his pocket, along with the detonator, was an Afghan citizenship card identifying him as Zabidullah Nafi'e Hamet Mahsud.

"My name changes every day," Pemberton said. "Sometimes I have to look at the card to remember who I am."

Pemberton moved comfortably around Sangari, mingling among the villagers. If questioned by security forces, he was ready to pass himself off as a wheat farmer, traveling with his wife. He'd come to Sangari alone, but felt sure he could pull a woman from the village if necessary to support his ruse.

"Once, I was interrogated for an hour and a half, and I was able to spin out one lie after another," he said. Ultimately, the unit that had detained him released him for insufficient evidence. But during last week's mission, Pemberton had no intention of being detained. His plan was to wait until the ribbon-cutting ceremony concluded and the crowd started to disperse, then to detonate.

If necessary, he'd detonate sooner. But by waiting as long as possible to detonate would reduce civilian casualties, he explained, and more importantly, serve as the ultimate counterpoint to any message of assurance offered during the ceremony.

In the lead-up to the ceremony, he joined the crowd that gathered in front of the municipal building. He positioned himself along the security line, directly behind Darrell Thrasher, a role player depicting an Afghan police officer.

Pemberton successfully carried out his plan, storming the municipal center after the ribbon-cutting. The detonation occurred as Afghan soldiers and police attempted to stop his charge, with an air cluster generating smoke and noise.

Chaos erupted among the crowd, as screaming men and women fled the area. Left lying behind, along with Pemberton, were 12 casualties – six Afghan soldiers, four Afghan police officers and two civilians.

The 4th Brigade "Currahees" scrambled into position as simulated rockets crashed down in the distance and insurgent forces engaged U.S. and Afghan forces manning the control points ringing the village.

Pemberton's prediction made before the incident had proven accurate. "This town is green right now," he said, meaning it supports the Afghan national government rather than the insurgency. "But it will go red" – shifting its loyalty to the Taliban - because its people had lost faith in the security provided by the Afghan forces, he said.

Such a training scenario "happens every rotation here," Pemberton said.

Pemberton and his fellow G-Men are committed to helping rotational training units prevent that from happening when they arrive in Afghanistan. "I am not here to win," he said. "I am here as a training utensil for these guys."

After more than a year with the opposing force, Pemberton said he has seen the full scope of tactics, with units demonstrating the full spectrum of capabilities. "In any big training environment like this, you get the good and the bad," he said. "You see really good and really bad examples."

Often, he said, it comes down to remembering the basics: conducting pre-combat inspections, ensuring troops have sufficient water and ammunition and that their weapons are loaded, correctly securing sectors of fire, and setting up tactical checkpoints and searching prisoners of war.

"It comes down to first-line supervisors," he said. "By the end of their time here, they get the picture."

The experience here will pay off when the opposing force troops return to regular Army units and ultimately deploy, he said.

"Tactically, if you have half a brain while [participating in the opposing force], you will learn something here," Pemberton said. "You just can't do this and not take something valuable away from it."

(This is the fourth article in a series about how the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., is preparing the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.)

Sailors Renew Commitment to the Country at World Trade Center Site

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) W. B. Swoboda

May 27, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- A promotion and reenlistment ceremony was held at the World Trade Center (WTC) site for Sailors of all ranks participating in Fleet Week New York City 2010 May 27.

During the ceremony, six commissioned officers received a promotion, and more than a dozen Sailors from various commands participating in Fleet Week were reenlisted by Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, Rear Adm. Mark S. Boensel.

"It's a privilege to be here at the World Trade Center," said Boensel. "It is an honor to do this today, and of all places this site which is now synonymous in America, to have Sailors agree to renew the commitment to the nation."

The 20 Sailors reenlisting and six officers receiving their promotion had family and friends on hand to witness this special time in their careers.

"Reenlisting for the first time; at this site, is a reaffirmation of my commitment to my country, family and friends," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Lashaunda Guy, of Cleveland, stationed aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). "Being a HM, I was touched to reenlist at the World Trade Center Site." Guy hopes to receive orders overseas to Europe for next duty station.

Fleet Week New York is an annual celebration of the sea services that began in 1984. It provides an opportunity for the citizens of New York City and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, firsthand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd commemoration of Fleet Week New York, which continues through June 2.

National Guard leaders observe Israel's nationwide exercise

by Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

5/27/2010 - TEL AVIV, Israel (AFNS) -- Sirens wailed across Israel and residents took shelter during a nationwide civil defense exercise carefully watched by a delegation of National Guard leaders May 26 here.

The communication, collaboration and coordination National Level Exercise Turning Point 4 revealed between the Israeli Defense Force's Home Front Command, roughly comparable to the National Guard, and local agencies set an example for members of the Guard, said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

"While not exact, because our states and governors and adjutants general are really our commanders and they have a state affiliation, whereas the Home Front Command is a national member of the Israeli Defense Force, what I saw here was the integrated way in which the Home Front Command works with their local officials, down to the mayors of the cities," General McKinley said.

"We are doing the same missions," said Israeli Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, the HFC commander. "We try to help and support the civilian population. Our main counterpart in the United States is the National Guard."

General Golan said members of the HFC, which is also a reserve force, respect the professionalism of the National Guard, which has many of the same capabilities as the HFC.

Geopolitical reality has forced a high level of readiness on HFC members.

"This is a very dangerous neighborhood," General McKinley said. "They're under constant threat of attack. Being ready next month or next week is not an option. You must be ready today for any eventuality."

The HFC practices one of the National Guard's mottos: Always ready, always there.

"They have always said that they will never have their nation threatened again and they will be prepared to pay the highest price to protect their form of government and their way of life - much like in our nation," General McKinley said. "As we fought our revolution, we created a nation that needs to be respected, and we must always understand that the price of freedom should be paid with our effort, and each citizen of the United States should have a part of that."

The North Dakota National Guard is an example of where a high level of readiness isn't optional. Flood-fighting is just one of the challenges the state's Soldiers and Airmen have faced this year.

Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, was part of the leadership delegation here to observe Exercise Turning Point 4, representing the adjutants general of the 54 states and territories and the commanding general of the District of Columbia.

"The greatest value of my being here is seeing how the communities position themselves, how they're organized and how they're prepared to react to a disaster," General Sprynczynatyk said. "I'd give anything for all of our communities back home to have the same level of capabilities that we're seeing here.

"There is a constant threat here, and they need to be prepared at a minute's notice to respond," he said. "It's real, and they live it day-to-day and everyone in the country knows and understands that, so there's no question they have to be prepared, and they certainly are."

General Sprynczynatyk also closely observed the relationship between the HFC members and the communities they protect and serve.

"Whenever we've had a disaster in the past, we haven't had ... a liaison within the operations center of the county or the city," General Sprynczynatyk said. "I've seen that here, and I've talked with their liaisons about how important that is. It's key.

"Whenever there is a disaster, we need to make sure that there is someone from the National Guard acting as a liaison to that community, or that county, to report back to the ... joint force headquarters and at the same time ... relay to the mayor or the county commission the capability of the Guard and what we can and can't do."

Exercise Turning Point 4 officials saw residents and local officials across Israel practicing preparedness and coordination with HFC members. As municipal governments met in fully equipped bomb shelters, monitored computer screens and communicated with higher authorities, individual Israelis rehearsed finding shelter; servicemembers performed drills such as decontaminating people and vehicles; and hospitals simulated mass trauma casualty care.

"This is the largest national exercise ever conducted in Israel," General Golan said. "The uniqueness of this exercise is the fact that we practiced with all local governments. Sixty eight of them practiced for two or three days.

"All governmental agencies are in the exercise. All of them train for today. All of them develop the right procedures to handle emergency situations," he said.

Observing how other nations handle threats helps National Guard officials refine its their homeland defense readiness, capacity and capabilities, General McKinley said.

"We know we're living in an age of terror," he said, noting recent events such as a thwarted attempted bombing in New York's Times Square. "We don't know exactly when it started but certainly after Sept. 11, 2001, we knew it was potentially very dangerous to our citizens and that the battlefront now includes our home front.

"What I learned here today is that each citizen must take special note of this dangerous era in which we live, and do their part to protect themselves and their families, and then let the local agencies up through the national government be part of that solution, because it's a whole-of-government approach to protecting lives, protecting property and restoring order."

General Golan observed a real-world National Guard response during Hurricane Ike in 2008 in Galveston, Texas.

"I went there especially to learn how you conducted a major evacuation operation," General Golan said. "We took most of our ideas from (that) experience."

General Sprynczynatyk said he is taking ideas back to North Dakota and his fellow adjutants general.

"The one thing that has been truly impressive to me is just the high level of organization, the structure, how everybody is fully read-in to what's going on," he said. "It's been good to talk to military counterparts and learn what they do on a day-to-day basis from the standpoint of national defense in their homeland.

"I relate that back to what we need to do when we (prepare) our National Guard members to react to whatever disaster may occur. We train for war. We're all very proficient at that. What we don't do enough of, in my mind, is train for that natural disaster, and here I see that that's something they do every day."

As an Oklahoma National Guard wing commander, Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, who is now the director of the Air National Guard, experienced the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

"They have been under a threat for a long period of time, and they have been able to better organize the military through their Home Front Command with the local first responders," General Wyatt said. "We saw some of that in Oklahoma City. I was proud of the way the community came together, but never having been under a threat like that before, it was a first-time experience, and I think the city learned a lot.

"You see some of the lessons of Oklahoma City being incorporated into what they're doing here," he said.

General Wyatt said he also saw potential alternative missions here for Air National Guard units in an era of declining numbers of aircraft.

"We see some capabilities ... as maybe some of the things that the Air Guard could get into to help not only the communities, but to provide a service for the United States Air Force."

Task Force Badger assumes control of Iraq mission

Date: May 27, 2010
By 1st Lt. Peter M. Owen
724th Engineer Battalion Task Force Badger Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Farewell, Eagle. Welcome aboard, Badger.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 724th Engineer Battalion officially replaced the 18th Airborne Corps' 37th Engineer Battalion during a transfer of authority ceremony May 22, and also changed the name of the mission from Joint Task Force Eagle to Task Force Badger. The 724th will support the 36th Engineer Brigade, which itself arrived in theater in April.

"We are privileged to work alongside this brigade with its proud and distinguished history," said Lt. Col. David O'Donahue, Task Force Badger commander. "We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to that history. Together we will do great things here in Iraq."

In addition to serving as the higher command element for engineer units in Iraq, the 36th Engineer Brigade oversees training for Iraqi army engineers. The outgoing 37th Engineer Battalion, for example, partnered with the 5th Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiment and the Headquarters Field Engineer Regiment Strategic Bridge Company.

Other highlights from the JTF Eagle deployment include the construction of the Baqubah Landfill, emplacement of the Mabey Johnson Float Bridge in Taji, nearly 4,000 interrogations of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and other explosive hazards, and clearing hundreds of miles of road during the course of nearly 5,000 hours on route clearance patrols covering a cumulative distance of more than 2,200 kilometers of road.

Additionally, the battalion maintained all military bridges north of Baghdad and constructed more than 11 Southwest Asia huts.

Lt. Col. Paul Huszar, 37th Engineer Battalion - JTF Eagle commander, thanked the commanders of the 555th Engineer Brigade, 194th Engineer Brigade and 36th Engineer Brigade for enabling the 37th's success while providing multiple opportunities for the battalion to excel. Huszar indicated the success of the battalion can be attributed to the Soldiers from across JTF-Eagle.

"To all of these phenomenal teammates, you each helped make our vision of the U.S. Army Airborne Knife a reality," Huszar said. "I could not be more proud and honored to serve as your commander."

This transition of authority ceremony marks the beginning of the 724th's second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Task Force Badger is composed of the 228th Engineer Company from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, the active Army 617th Engineer Company from Fort Lewis, Wash., the 950th Clearance Company from the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the 1013th Engineer (Sapper) Company from the Puerto Rico National Guard. The 739th Multi-Role Bridge Company from the Army Reserve is also joining the battalion in theater for the deployment.

The 724th Engineer Battalion was mobilized on March 5. The unit conducted training at Fort McCoy before deploying to Iraq in late April. Upon arriving in Iraq, Task Force Badger Soldiers spent nearly three weeks with their Joint Task Force Eagle counterparts learning to apply their training to their specific area of operations. This training consisted of a type of job shadowing better known as "left seat-right seat" training, as incoming units first observe the mission and then are observed performing mission tasks by the outgoing unit. The incoming unit must be certified as mission capable by the outgoing unit prior to the transfer of authority.

Afghan, International Forces Detain Insurgent Suspects

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

May 27, 2010 - Combined Afghan-international security forces detained several suspected insurgents in eastern and southern Afghanistan in recent operations, military officials reported.

A combined team was searching a series of buildings in the Zharay district of Kandahar province when several suspects fled the area. They were quickly and safely apprehended.

Another combined force detained a suspected insurgent in Khost province last night while searching a compound in the Sabari district.

In another operation, an International Security Assistance Force patrol detained several men in three locations in Helmand province's Nad-e Ali district yesterday. They are suspected of arming the insurgency and carrying out roadside-bomb attacks in the area.

Also yesterday, a combined patrol found a weapons cache in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province. The cache contained two rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, 17 blasting caps, a propane tank, numerous assault rifle rounds, an instruction

book on how to make improvised explosive devices and other bomb-making components.

No shots were fired and no civilians were harmed during the operations, officials said.

Development Continues for Afghan Legal System

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

May 27, 2010 - Servicemembers in Afghanistan are working with the country's interior and defense ministries to provide legal advice and development in the country. "We're a little bit different than most of your standard military legal offices," said Army Col. Rick Rousseau, who serves in Afghanistan with the NATO training mission's staff judge advocate's office, during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable yesterday.

"While we do the normal functions of a legal office, I have three sections in my office that are quite different from any other," Rousseau said.

The main role of the judge advocate's office is to provide legal advice on all issues affecting the command's commanders and staff. The office focuses on anticorruption efforts in Afghanistan and the legal development of the Afghan army and police.

Afghanistan's national police fall under the interior ministry, and the judge advocate's office stood up regional legal offices to provide legal services to the agency across the country, Rousseau said.

"That's really just getting started," he said. The staff also works with embassy officials on their rule-of-law strategy to make sure the role of police is outlined clearly in the justice continuum.

Referring to Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV's "three-legged stool" of cops, courts and corrections, Rousseau explained his office's role. Caldwell is in charge of the NATO training effort in Afghanistan.

"A component that we have of that is cops," he said. "We want to make sure that that three-legged stool stands up right, and regarding the cops, that we provide the legal training for them."

In the last nine months, Rousseau's office and the national police have worked with the U.S. embassy and marshal's service to beef up the judicial security in Afghanistan. Rousseau said the judicial security unit that initially had only 55 members is going to grow to more than 700, and then to 1,500 next year. The additional security, the colonel said, can ensure that that justice can be done and that judges are not feeling threatened.

Rousseau's office also works with the defense ministry and the Afghan army, advising them on how to develop legal officers. In the past year, courthouses and detention facilities have been built for every Afghan army corps. The army also has a temporary legal school while a permanent facility is built on the grounds of the Afghan Defense University. This school will be used to train military judges, legal officers, criminal investigators and paralegals.

"The [Afghan army] legal system is doing pretty good," Rousseau said. "They try about 300 to 400 [courts-martial] a year. "There's hiccups we have to work through, but we're feeling pretty good about the way that the legal system's coming along."

In addition to providing internal legal services, the judge advocate's office has an important function in the development of the rule of law in Afghanistan, which Rousseau said is one of the biggest challenges.

"Not only do you have those different U.S. players, but we've got 30 or 40 different countries here with different agendas, [as well as nongovernmental organizations]," he said. "Coordinating all of that is a big challenge in the rule-of-law area."

Rousseau also shared the story of 1st Lt. Lutfallah Abrihimi, a legal officer in the Afghan army who sacrificed his life when Taliban insurgents boarded a bus he was on to cut off the fingers of Afghans who had participated in the election. Abrihimi engaged the insurgents and killed three before they could terrorize or harm his fellow countrymen, and he lost his life when his service revolver ran out of ammunition.

"When I get asked that question about the political will and the mind of individuals to do the right thing, I think of the lieutenant, because here was a legal officer -- someone that was literate, educated, didn't have to be in the military," Rousseau said. "He joined the military, and he chose to do the right thing. He stood up for what was right."

Rousseau said as a result of the efforts from Abrihimi, no one else was injured on that bus, and the insurgents departed.

"There's a lot of people out there doing fantastic things, putting their lives at stake, moving out to different places in the country to further the rule of law," Rousseau said. "We serve with these individual every day, as we say here in the command, "shohna ba shohna" -- shoulder to shoulder."

Iraqis Arrest 5 Terrorism Suspects

Compiled from U.S. Forces Iraq News Releases

May 27, 2010 - Iraqi forces arrested five terrorism suspects today in combined operations with U.S. forces advisors in Iraq, military officials reported.

In northern Baghdad, Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched a building for a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq member who allegedly is in charge of distributing propaganda materials throughout Iraq for the terror organization. Information and evidence gathered at the scene led Iraqi forces to identify and arrest two suspected criminal associates of the wanted man.

In an operation northeast of Baghdad, Iraqi forces working with U.S. advisors arrested a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq propaganda distributor and a suspected criminal associate.

Iraqi forces searching in eastern Mosul with U.S. advisors for a man suspected of being a media producer for al-Qaida in Iraq propaganda arrested a suspected criminal associate of the wanted man.

DOD Announces Units for Upcoming Rotation to Afghanistan

The Department of Defense announced today the alert of replacement forces scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The announcement involves two brigades of Army National Guard consisting of approximately 7,000 personnel.

Specific units alerted are:

37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard

45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Okla. Army National Guard

The units will replace redeploying units, with no increase in overall force levels. They are currently scheduled to begin their deployment in the summer of 2011 and are receiving alert orders now in order to provide the maximum time to complete preparations. It also provides a greater measure of predictability for family members and flexibility for employers to plan for military service of their employees.

The 37th and 45th IBCTs will deploy to Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces.

DoD will continue to announce major unit deployments as they are identified and those units are alerted. For information on the supporting units for this deployment, please contact Oklahoma National Guard Public Affairs at 405-228-5212 or Ohio National Guard Public Affairs at 614-336-7174.

Afghan Army Chief, Advisor Shape Growing Force

By Judith Snyderman
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

May 26, 2010 - As the Afghan army rapidly approaches a 171,000-troop level this year, the force's top-ranking uniformed leader is tackling growing pains with help from an U.S. Army advisor.

For the past year, Army Col. George T. "Tom" Donovan, a member of NATO's training effort in Afghanistan, has been working closely with Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, chief of the Afghan army's general staff.

Donovan described Mohammadi as a "charismatic and decisive leader," during a May 21 "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable.

Donovan said he and the Afghan general are working together to improve the army's organization, citing personnel management as one area in need of development. The process for assigning new officers to command billets at brigade and corps levels, for instance, is complicated by a legacy of nepotism, Donovan said.

"Because of the culture in Afghanistan, there are quite a lot of phone calls being made by leading officials on behalf of their relatives or people they know," Donovan explained. That kind of pressure, he said, also applies to promotions, which are complicated by other factors as well. Donovan said a fledgling written evaluation system is not yet reliable and doesn't reflect past achievements.

"Many officers have served in many different armies over the years. They're Mujahidin fighters, they're maybe members of the old communist army or members of the king's army - or members of some faction in between," Donovan said.

Another wrinkle is that the Afghan army is required to maintain proscribed proportions of Pashtuns, Tajiks and other ethnic group members, so promotions must consider the ethnicity of the outgoing officer in assigning a replacement. "Otherwise, if they change the ethnic group, then they have to move the chief of staff or operations officer or something in order to keep the ethnic balance within that command," Donovan explained.

He added that Mohammadi has helped to introduce innovative solutions. During a recent graduation at the national military academy, newly commissioned Afghan army lieutenants drew stations in a lottery. "Ingeniously, they came up with a lottery system that was broken down by ethnic group and region that basically took the ability of anyone to meddle with assignments out," Donovan said.

A priority now, he added, is to clarify roles, responsibilities and authorities within the military organization, including the role of Mohammadi's own office. The chief of the general staff reports to Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak. Donovan said he believes friction that may exist between the two, because Mohammadi is Tajik and Wardak is Pashtun, would be eliminated if their job roles were more clearly defined.

It also is important, Donovan said, to "power down" some authority to add efficiency. "If you wanted to move a sergeant from one squad to another squad within the same platoon," he said, "that requires a piece of paper signed by the minister of defense." Donovan also believes introducing civilians into the defense ministry's work force at lower to middle levels would enable them to gain experience and eventually rise in the organization.

Meanwhile, Donovan said, Mohammadi is focused on solving a frustrating problem related to some Afghan officers who have shown a lack of acceptance for taking responsibility or initiative.

"[He] is addressing that now," Donovan said, adding that Mohammadi is using his vast experience to "teach commanders how to command and leaders how to lead."

Colorado Guard, Slovenia team to mentor Afghan army

By Army Sgt. Aaron Rognstad
Colorado National Guard

(5/10/10) -- Family, friends and fellow Soldiers were on hand at a departure ceremony here at the Joint Force Headquarters to send off 12 Colorado Army National Guard Citizen-Soldiers, who will deploy to Afghanistan as part of an Operational Mentor and Liaison Team-Augmentation to train and mentor the Afghan National army.

The OMLT-A Soldiers, the majority of whom are combat veterans, will join 30 Slovenian soldiers in country for the six-month mission.

Colorado Guard and Slovene soldiers will arrive in Afghanistan in early fall after a summer of training in Fort Polk, La., and in Germany.

Sgt. Nicholas Puetz of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, will be making his fifth deployment in a 10-year career with this team. This will be his second trip to Afghanistan.

“This is going to be a lot of fun, and it’s going to be intense at times,” he said, “but it’s going to be good for relations.”

The Colorado Guard and the republic of Slovenia have become strong allies over their 17-year collaboration through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.

The Colorado SPP works closely with National Guard Bureau International Affairs, U.S. European Command, as well as the Slovenian embassy, and strives to advance strong military-to-military and civilian-to-military foreign relations with select countries.

The OMLT-A is part of NATO’s International Security and Assistance Force’s contribution toward the development of the ANA. The ISAF’s military objectives include assisting the Afghan government to extend its authority countrywide by conducting security operations with the Afghan National Security Forces and mentoring the ANA.

The SPP was established in 1993 in response to the radically changed political-military situation following the collapse of Communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The SPP provides Slovenia with access to experts within the state of Colorado on the full range of military to military, military to civilian and civilian to civilian activities.

The intent is to build upon the relationships that have been developed over time with the Colorado National Guard. During this time military and civic leaders have been part of an exchange program focused primarily on Slovenia’s military and their pursuit of membership of NATO.

Now that Slovenia is a member of NATO the intent is to do more exchanges to support one another and improve the strategic objectives of both Slovenia and the United States.

U.S., NATO Forces Set Sights on Kandahar

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

May 26, 2010 - With U.S. and NATO forces on the verge of major operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan, a top commander there today underscored the complexity of their charge, citing "political problems and impunities" as the main challenge to overcome.

Operations in Kandahar follow months of combat and other efforts in Marja, a former Taliban stronghold in Helmand province. While the goal in Marja was ousting extremists, the ultimate goal for Kandahar is to legitimize the local government into something its citizens can believe in, said Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, a British army officer who commands international forces in southern Afghanistan, in a video news conference with Pentagon reporters from his base there.

"It's about connecting the population to its government," the general said. "That requires building representative governance from the bottom up. We'll define success here by ... credible, transparent, inclusive and representative governance that is genuinely connected to the population."

Carter described life in Kandahar City, citing its historic and cultural significance. The city is traditionally an economic and commercial hub. Yet, though the city bustles with bazaars and businesses, there's little investment, essential services, sanitation, health care or education, he said.

"It's pretty challenging in terms of productivity and in terms of quality of life," he added.

Carter estimated that up to 1,000 insurgents are in Kandahar province, and he said they have "a degree of control over the battle space" in the rural north and south regions of Kandahar City. "They will be a military challenge," he said, but he added the challenge in the city is more complicated than the insurgency. It's more a problem of order, organization, administration and basic policing than it is contested battle space, he said.

Challenges are present in private-sector security companies and militias, the general noted, explaining that such organizations make it difficult for the Afghan government to compete with salaries for government soldiers and police. He called for a need to regulate private security companies and militias.

Without government oversight and government-backed security forces in place, Carter said, the average Afghan has little in the way of legal rights and freedoms. Criminals and overall disorder pose more problems in the city than the Taliban and insurgency, he said.

"What's needed is that this regulation and proper administration is delivered, so that the police forces have something ... to sort out and bring to order," the general added. What's required, too, he added, is for the capacity of government offices to be built up, so they can bring order and administration to the city.

"If you provide all of those," Carter continued, "then you're not going to have an intimidation problem [from the Taliban] at all."

The surge of U.S. forces arriving in Kandahar will give NATO the muscle it needs to institute the culture of change needed there, he said. More U.S. troops enables more Afghan police training and improved command and control and information sharing, he added, and most importantly, those forces will help to alleviate criminal intimidation and impose "a ring of security" to keep insurgents at bay.

The general stressed that the planning and execution of operations in Kandahar are Afghan-led initiatives directed by President Hamid Karzai. The provincial governor is reaching out to his city and district mayors to engage the population and build relationships with the population, he said.

Carter said he expects operations to begin in the "next month or two," and that by Ramadan, which begins in August, security improvements will begin to be apparent. It will take some three months before a strong, credible government is formed in Marja, he said, leading him to believe that it could take just as long, if not longer, to sway public support and perception in Kandahar.

"The key point of this is that it's a political movement, the Taliban," he said. "It takes time for people to be convinced. We'll have to be patient over the course of the summer watching as the intimidation reduces and the population becomes more on our side."