Saturday, September 27, 2008

International Space Station Conducts Tests for US Air Force

NASA recently partnered with Air Force Research Laboratory officials from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to conduct materials experiments aboard the International Space Station. The Materials on the International Space Station Experiment program exposes items in suitcase-sized containers to orbit before returning them to Earth aboard the space shuttle. Pictured is MISSE 6A and 6B. (Courtesy photo.)

Focus on Defense:

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, Sept. 27, 2008 -- Air Force Research Laboratory officials here recently partnered with NASA to conduct materials experiments aboard the International Space Station.

The project incorporates 500 materials samples into two suitcase-like containers attached to the exterior of the International Space Station.

The containers are fully opened and folded back to expose them to atomic oxygen bombardment, solar radiation, extreme temperature changes, and other severe space environmental factors. They will remain in that configuration until retrieved by International Space Station astronauts and brought back to Earth aboard a space shuttle.

Members of the Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing and Propulsion directorates, working with NASA, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Sandia National Laboratories, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Boeing, the Space Test Program, Aerospace Corp., deployed the sixth in a series of materials experiments to the International Space Station via a space shuttle.

The International Space Station provides a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate and qualify promising new materials that may offer weight, performance and cost savings benefits, and to re-qualify existing materials, said Shane Juhl, an engineer at AFRL and current program manager for the Materials on the International Space Station Experiment program, known as MISSE.

"Due to the limited number of qualified materials for space, manufacturers tend to build spacecraft using existing qualified materials," Mr. Juhl said. "MISSE offers a cost-effective means for testing new materials and re-qualifying existing ones whose suppliers or processing methods have undergone change over time.

"No single piece of equipment or facility currently exists that can simultaneously expose materials to all the damaging environmental effects of space," Mr. Juhl said. "In the laboratory, samples can be exposed to only a limited number of simulated environments at a time. In space -- the ultimate testing environment -- samples are exposed to all the harsh realities of the space environment at once."

Until now, the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate staff has deployed only passive experiments to the International Space Station (experiments characterized before and after deployment). The ongoing mission, MISSE 6, incorporates eight active AFRL experiments that collect and store data in real time continuously or at set intervals for later analysis.

"The transition to more active experimentation will provide unprecedented information about the on-orbit effects on material properties of interest and will help reduce material screening and qualification costs," Mr. Juhl said. "This will free up more funding for mission-critical programs."

MISSE 6 is comprised of two containers and incorporates 40 samples from AFRL including the eight active experiments. Officials say a seventh deployment is in the planning phase.

(Story by by Pete Meltzer Jr., Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.)

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Friday, September 26, 2008

NAVSEA Continues Ike Relief

On the Home Front

On the Home Front:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2008 -- Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), a directorate of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington D.C. cleared the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) near Galveston, Texas, for marine vessel traffic Sept. 25.

The salvage removal operation directly supports Hurricane Ike relief efforts.

"We originally identified five salvage targets, two of which were confirmed to be commercial-size fishing vessels," said Michael Herb, director of salvage operations. "However the work has grown and a total of three deck barges full of debris have been removed." SUPSALV and its east coast salvage contractor, Donjon Marine, commenced salvage removal operations Sept. 17.

NAVSEA's SUPSALV received the request from the Galveston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) Sept. 15 for U.S. Navy assistance in removing a number of small vessels sunk in the GIWW along the Bolivar Peninsula northeast of Galveston. SUPSALV will also remove an obstruction from the north edge of the Galveston channel.

"It's important to remove these obstructions quickly to get the critical barge and ship commerce back in transit safely," said Herb. SUPSALV is responsible for all aspects of ocean engineering, including salvage, oil pollution response, deep ocean search and recovery, in-water ship repair, towing, diving safety and equipment maintenance and procurement.

Worldwide maritime security remains a top Navy priority and NAVSEA provides highly capable disaster response to support the Maritime Strategy.

(From Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications.)

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US Air Force Tests Active Denial System as Nonlethal Weapon

An operational version of the Active Denial System is shown. It is an invisible, counter personnel, directed-energy weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo.)

Focus on Defense:

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, Sept. 26, 2008 -- Air Force Research Laboratory officials here recently completed an extensive bioeffects research program for an invisible, counter personnel, directed-energy weapon known as the Active Denial System.

Data showed that millimeter waves do not promote cancer or cause reproductive problems, and researchers also defined skin and eye exposure thresholds, as well as levels at which effective repel occurs.

Results demonstrate that the Denial System, or ADS, can be used operationally while maintaining a significant safety margin, thus making the device a landmark nonlethal weapon.

The bioeffects research effort also assisted hardware developers in their design of the novel weapon. The ADS program marks the first instance wherein a nonlethal weapon was founded on bioeffects research occurring prior to, rather than subsequent to, the weapons development process.

AFRL officials have been involved in researching the operationally useful effects of millimeter waves for almost 20 years. These wavelengths occur in the one to 10 mm (0.04-0.4 in.) region of the electromagnetic spectrum, which means they are larger than infrared waves but smaller than radio waves or microwaves. Millimeter waves correspond to radio band frequencies of 30-300 GHz. In the late 1980s, AFRL researchers discovered a particular effect of 94 GHz energy that ultimately became the basis for the ADS.

The system focuses a beam of millimeter waves occurring at this 94 GHz frequency. The effect is a rapid heating of the human target's (adversary's) skin that is extremely uncomfortable and ultimately prompts the individual to flee the beam. The AFRL Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate, Air Force Force Protection Battlelab, and Office of the Secretary of Defense Advanced Systems and Concepts Office funded ADS development through an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration. This produced two versions of the system: a mobile version that has since served as a technology demonstrator and a containerized version that is suitable for operational deployment.

(Story by Dr. Gordon Hengst, Human Effectiveness Directorate.)

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US Airmen Get Hollywood Closeup in 'Eagle Eye'

An MQ-9 Reaper, like the one pictured here, is featured in the movie "Eagle Eye." (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson.)

Focus on Defense:

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md., Sept. 26, 2008 -- Members of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations will get ready for its close-up Sept. 26 as the movie "Eagle Eye" will be released to selected theaters around the country.

The movie stars Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan and is directed by D. J. Caruso.

"This was a great opportunity for the Air Force to be involved in such an action-packed thriller that reflects our core values through a prominent character in the story," said Lt. Col. Francisco Hamm, the Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office director.

The Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office is the single point of contact for information and assistance with entertainment productions having Air Force themes or segments. The office offers direct access to Air Force people, aircraft, equipment, technical assistance, military advice and locations, and ensures that projects highlighting the missions and members of the Air Force are plausible and realistic.

Although the story is not specifically about the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Air Force's participation afforded the opportunity to highlight the dedication and professionalism of the AFOSI mission through the character Special Agent Zoe Perez, played by actress Rosario Dawson.

"We worked very hard with the filmmakers to develop this character in this film," Colonel Hamm said. "It allowed us to depict the Air Force as being on the front lines of the war on terrorism and gave us the chance to highlight this normally low key investigative organization."

The story is about two strangers who become the pawns of a mysterious woman they have never met, but who seems to know their every move. Realizing they are being used to further her diabolical plot, they must work together to outwit the woman before she has them killed.

Other well-known stars in this film include Anthony Azizi and Billy Bob Thornton. "Eagle Eye" is a DreamWorks production and produced by Steven Spielberg, Ed McDonnell and Roberto Orci.

Air Force Entertainment Office members previously worked with Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Orci on several previous projects including "Transformers" and "War of the Worlds."

"Many of their movies reflect our Air Force core values and depict characters who fully embrace them," Colonel Hamm said.

The two project officers who worked on the film were Senior Master Sgt. Vince Arragona and Capt. Christian Hodge.

"The Air Force is involved with 'Eagle Eye' because of our overall increased profile in Hollywood in the last few years. The producers were familiar with the Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office from our work on 'Transformers' and 'Iron Man' and wanted the Air Force to be an integral part of the film," Captain Hodge said.

"Sergeant Arragona and Captain Hodge did a great job in working with the filmmakers on making our character plausible and accurate as well as coordinating all the moving pieces for such an action-packed thriller," Colonel Hamm said.

Some of the assistance provided to "Eagle Eye" included script and story development, dialogue to enhance the authenticity of character development, wardrobe and uniform assistance, cast training and research visits for project development.

"We coordinated Rosario Dawson's meetings with AFOSI agents at both Andrews Air Force Base and Los Angeles AFB, Calif., for several days as part of her research," Colonel Hamm said.

AFOSI husband and wife team, Special Agent Christopher Ouellette and Special Agent Rachel Ouellette were Rosario Dawson's personal escorts for two days during her visit to Andrews AFB and the Pentagon. Both agents talked at length with the actress about what it's like being an AFOSI agent.

"Since Rosario was totally unfamiliar with AFOSI, it was really important for her to understand our mission well, in order to accurately depict her character in the movie," Special Agent Rachel Ouellette said. "When she left Andrews, she really had a very good understanding of AFOSI's role, how we support the Air Force and how we work with our other federal law enforcement agency counterparts."

The actress also spent some time at the Pentagon with Agent Christopher Ouellette where she got a sense of the inter-workings of the Pentagon's hierarchy and overall mission in our nation's defense.

"Rosario quickly grasped the Pentagon's mission, organizational structure and AFOSI's computer crime mission," Agent Christopher Oullette said. "We also discussed the fact that AFOSI is the Department of Defense's leader in computer crime investigations," he added.

In addition to the AFOSI character, the film also features the C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker, F-16 Fighting Falcon and C-130 Hercules. An HH-60G Pave Hawk was also used for both aerial and ground photography in San Pedro, Calif.

Aerial filming included a UH-1N Huey landing at the Pentagon and the filming of the MQ-9 Reaper at Creech AFB, Nev. The Air Force also provided Airmen as extras in several military-related scenes in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Air Force officials said they will continue to take advantage of opportunities to build awareness and inform the American public about the Air Force through movies when the characters and Airmen portrayed reflect our core values.

"By officially supporting these projects, we are able to ensure the depictions of our capabilities and our Airmen are as credible as possible, and that helps us educate the public and builds Air Force morale," Colonel Hamm said.

The office is currently working on the Michael Bay film, "Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen," and developing several other projects that could feature the Air Force.

(Story from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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Head of Joint Chiefs Urges Calm as US Deals with Pakistani Allies

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2008 -- While things are tense and dangerous in Pakistan, “that doesn't mean the sky is falling,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen offered the reassurance during a Pentagon news conference. He said the cross-border fire incident yesterday into Afghanistan does not mean America should over-react.

A Pakistani military border checkpoint fired on two U.S. Kiowa helicopters flying inside Afghan airspace, NATO and U.S. officials said. A ground-based American patrol then exchanged fire with the checkpoint, they said.

The chairman urged calm during the tense situation. “It's time to recognize that we all – Pakistani, Afghan, American and others in the region – share a stake in a safe and secure Pakistan,” he said.

Mullen said he believes all concerned can work out the problems.

The Pakistanis face a growing and increasingly lethal insurgency on the border and inside their country, the chairman said. The Taliban and al-Qaida groups threaten the security of Pakistan’s newly elected government, and the leaders are aware of this threat, he said.

“They are dealing with extremist safe havens in the (Federally Administered Tribal Area), many of which are sheltered by local tribesmen,” Mullen said. “And like so many other nations around the world, they confront economic woes that undercut their efforts to improve living conditions for their citizens.”

Mullen has visited his Pakistani counterpart, Army Gen. Parvez Kayani, half a dozen times this year.

“Despite the violence of the last few days, it's why I remain convinced that Pakistan's military leaders understand the nature of the threat and are working hard to eliminate it,” he said.

But this will take time, Mullen said.

“We've learned ourselves you don't take an Army that was built to fight a conventional war and turn it into an effective counterinsurgency force overnight,” he said. “And you don't defeat extremists or their ideologies solely with military power.”

The Joint Staff is working with other agencies on a review of U.S. military strategy for the entire border region, “not simply to identify problems, but to find multilateral solutions,” Mullen said.

The chairman was encouraged by Afghan Defense Minister Wardak’s suggestion for a joint Afghan-Pakistani force to patrol the border.

“Though much would need to be flushed out, it is precisely that sort of cooperation we need,” he said. “Quite frankly, I believe some of the best solutions we may find are those not tied to military power but rather to economic aid and assistance and other whole-of-government approaches.”

All sides realize that no one gains from misunderstandings, harsh rhetoric or open conflict, Mullen said.

NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan cooperate in the Tripartite Meetings at the highest levels all the way to liaison between company level officers, Mullen said. The Afghans, Pakistanis and NATO are establishing five border cooperation centers to help eliminate the confusion. One is operating in Nangahar province, Afghanistan, and four more are scheduled for other spots on the border.

Mullen and Kayani have discussed the continuing commitment to reduce conflicts.

(Story by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.)

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US Marine Sues Rep. Murtha Over Haditha Remarks

News in Balance
In this AP news photo, U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a high ranking Pennsylvania Democrat, speaks about Iraq during an address Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2008 -- Writing in The Tribune-Democrat, reporter Mike Faher notes that in May 2006, six months after 24 people were killed in a small Iraqi town, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (Dem.) made a startling accusation.

He contended that U.S. troops had killed innocent civilians “in cold blood.” Murtha, a former Marine and decorated Vietnam War veteran, spoke out about the killings, saying that troops in Iraq were being put under too much pressure.

Now, less than six weeks before Murtha is up for re-election, a Marine involved in the now-infamous Haditha incident is suing the Democrat for slander.

Justin Sharratt left the Marine Corps last year. But he claims Murtha’s statements have caused “permanent, irreversible damage to his reputation.”

“What Murtha did is outrageous, and I am seeking punitive damages,” said Noah Geary, a Pittsburgh attorney representing Sharratt.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Pittsburgh.

It includes Murtha’s statements from nationally televised interviews in 2006, including an exchange during a CNN interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“There was an (improvised explosive device) attack, it killed one Marine, and then they overreacted and killed a number of civilians without anybody firing at them,” Murtha told Blitzer.

“That’s what you’re going to find out.”
Four enlisted Marines, including Sharratt, were originally charged for their roles in the killings and four officers were charged in connection to the investigation. One officer was acquitted and charges have since been dropped against everyone else except Wuterich, whose case is pending.

Wuterich, of Meriden, Conn., has pleaded not guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter. He is accused of ordering his men to clear several houses with grenades and gunfire, leading to the deaths of women and children.

Murtha has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

You can read the rest of the article at the following URL:

(Story from mainstream media sources.)

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Militants Nabbed in Khowst, Ghazni Provinces, Afghanistan

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2008 -- Coalition forces detained two suspected militants during operations targeting a Haqqani terrorist network in Afghanistan’s Khowst province yesterday, military officials reported.

The operation targeted a suspected Haqqani militant in Sabari district, near the Pakistan border, who is suspected to be in direct contact with Haqqani commanders.

The targeted militant also is suspected to be an active participant in the intertwined financial, bomb-making and foreign terrorist network.

Elsewhere, coalition forces detained two suspected militants during an operation in Ghazni province Sept. 23. The two militants were detained for their suspected ties to a Taliban terrorist network and foreign fighter facilitation in Andar district.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)

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Homemade Bomb Kills, Injures Children in Iraq

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2008 -- Iraqi and coalition forces responded to an explosion yesterday that killed and injured Iraqi children in southern Baghdad’s Rashid district, military officials reported.

Three children were killed and two were injured when a homemade bomb detonated in the neighborhood, police from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division reported. U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived on the scene to conduct a post-blast analysis.

"This attack is a tragedy and clearly demonstrates that the cowardly enemy will stoop to the lowest level to commit atrocious attacks on innocent children," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Hossenlopp, deputy commander of the 1st BCT.

"The soldiers of the 1st BCT partner with the brave volunteers of the [Iraqi security forces] who work daily to free the streets and neighborhoods of Rashid from the extreme violence of terrorists," he said.

In other operations yesterday:
  • Coalition forces and Iraqi police captured 22 wanted people, two days after a Sons of Iraq citizen security group checkpoint was attacked in the northern city of Siniyah. The operation was aimed at finding people who did not choose to clear their names during the reconciliation period over the past few months in the adjacent city of Beiji, officials said. Some were also being sought for possible involvement in the checkpoint attack.

  • Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division’s 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team discovered a bomb next to a school in southern Baghdad’s Hadar community after receiving a tip from a concerned Iraqi citizen. An explosive ordnance disposal unit arrived on the scene and properly disposed of the 130 mm projectile.

  • Soldiers serving with the 25th Infantry Division’s 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team seized a rocket, three 60 mm mortar rounds, five 120 mm mortar rounds and eight rocket-propelled grenade warheads north of Baghdad. Later in the evening, Iraqi soldiers found a 60 mm mortar round, a hand grenade and an RPG while on patrol in the Kadhamiyah district of Baghdad.

In other developments, soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division’s 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team worked with Iraqi soldiers to seize a weapons cache in Baghdad’s Sadr City district Sept. 24.

The munitions included six grenades, two grenade fuses, nearly three pounds of Iranian-manufactured C-4 explosives, two improvised firing devices, an electronic blasting cap and about 25 pounds of C-4 explosives in a garbage bag.

On Sept. 23, Marines assigned to Multinational Force West discovered an old weapons stockpile near Haditha. The Marines, with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, discovered the munitions while on patrol 20 miles west of the city. Among the contents of the find were about 10,000 82 mm rounds, 106 155 mm rounds, one 100 mm projectile, 19 rockets, and one rocket tube.

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

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Combat Camera: US Marines Use 'Cop on the Beat' Tactics in Afghanistan

Ralph E. Morten, a senior advisor for counterinsurgency with Lockheed Martin, patrols through a bazaar in Sangin, Afghanistan, with Cpl. Michael A. Brown, Jr., a 2nd platoon squad leader assigned to Company E, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, Sept. 1. Morten, a 34-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, came to Sangin to teach Echo Company Marines the methods of patrolling the streets like a police officer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steve Cushman.)

Ralph E. Morten, a senior advisor for counter-insurgency with Lockheed Martin, shows a Marine assigned to Company E, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, some wire and other components necessary to construct an improvised explosive device that he was able to purchase in a local bazaar, Sept. 1. Morten, a 34-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, came to Sangin to teach Echo Company Marines the methods of patrolling the streets like a police officer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steve Cushman.)

Ralph E. Morten (left), a senior advisor for counter-insurgency with Lockheed Martin, discusses visiting a shop that advertises selling cell phones, which can be used as a key component in detonating an improvised explosive device. Morten, a 34-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, came to Sangin to teach Echo Company Marines the methods of patrolling the streets like a police officer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steve Cushman.)

Ralph E. Morten, a senior advisor for counter-insurgency with Lockheed Martin, exits a cell phone store located in a bazaar in Sangin, Sept. 1. Cell phones have been used by the Taliban to remotely detonate improvised explosive devices. By using the Cop on the Beat system to patrol through the bazaar, the Marines hope to deny the enemy access to the necessary components to construct IEDs. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steve Cushman.)

Dispatches from the Front:

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SANGIN, Afghanistan, Sept. 26, 2008 -- As a squad of Marines walk in a tactical column through a bazaar here in the Helmand Province, they approach a shop with a sign advertising electronic items for sale. The Marines pause and set up security, while the squad leader and interpreter enters the shop to talk to the store owner.

By building a rapport with the store owners and other locals, the Marines hope to saturate every aspect of Afghan society.

“Saturation of the society enables us to know when and how the Taliban are operating, and deny them access to materials they need to build IEDs (improvised explosive devices). We do that by always being present in the marketplaces where the components for the bombs they use are sold,” said Ralph E. Morten, a senior counterinsurgency advisor with Lockheed Martin.

This process of patrolling the bazaars and building rapport with locals is similar to the way the police officers in major cities operate to root out criminal activity.

The Marines of Company E, Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, learned the techniques of patrolling like a “Cop on the Beat” from Morten.

A retired Los Angeles police officer with 34 years on the “force,” Morten is a counter-terrorism and counter-IED expert who has also spent time training with the Israeli National Police.

“The Echo Company Marines have been fantastic at adapting to Cop on the Beat patrols, especially after having already been in the area of operations for five months before receiving the training,” Morten said.

Within the first week, Echo Company Marines were able to identify the stores where Taliban bomb makers could acquire the electronics and components to build IEDs.

“Before we learned the Cop on the Beat patrolling system, we would patrol through the bazaar and back without stopping,” said Cpl. Michael A. Brown, Jr., a 2nd platoon squad leader and Bellflower, Calif., native. “Now, we have a reason to go into the shops. We know we’re not going to find the Taliban in the shops, but we now know what to look for.”

The Cop on the Beat patrolling system has been used with great success in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province. The same concept was used in Fallujah, and is one of the reasons the province has since become a model city.

“If we can apply the same things in Afghanistan that have been used in Anbar, we’ll see improvements in our ability to deny the enemy the materials they need to attack us,” said 1st Lt. James C. McKendree, 2nd Platoon commander and Pearland, Texas native. “The situation here is more complex than in Iraq, because the networks are harder to track. This is going to be a lengthy process. It’s not something that is going to happen in a week or a month.”

Another critical aspect of using the Cop on the Beat system is to be able to identify people displaying unusually nervous behavior whenever the Marines enter the vicinity. According to Morten, everyone gets a little nervous when a police car pulls in behind them, but not everyone immediately takes off running. Using the system, Marines are taught to become aware of people displaying excessive nervous behavior.

“Patrolling this way is making the Marines focus more on the little things,” said Sgt. Zachary R. Alexander, a 2nd platoon squad leader and Forney, Texas native. “It’s teaching the Marines to look at people more intently to be able to identify the people who might be up to no good.”

The key of the Cop on the Beat system is to identify the problems and take action. It works on the premise that every Marine is a collector of information. Each Marine is also made aware of the components that make up the IEDs they face and suspicious behavior that could lead to the identification of individuals who could pose a threat.

(Story by Cpl. Steve Cushman, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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USS Nassau, CPR-6 Head Home After Recovery Efforts in Galveston

GALVESTON, Texas (Sept. 23, 2008) Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2 departs the beach in Galveston aboard a landing craft utility (LCU) before returning to the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4). Nassau is anchored off the coast of Galveston to support civil authorities in disaster recovery as directed in the wake of Hurricane Ike. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elizabeth Merriam.)

GALVESTON, Texas (Sept. 22, 2008) Machinist Mate 3rd Class James Brown, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), helps remove debris from the Galveston Flight Musuem after Hurricane Ike devastated the facility. Nassau is anchored off the coast of Galveston, Texas, to render disaster recovery and aid to civil authorities as directed in the wake of Hurricane Ike. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Wyscaver.)

GALVESTON, Texas (Sept. 22, 2008) Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) help a Galveston, Texas, resident load his damaged car from Hurricane Ike onto a trailer to be transported for repairs. Nassau is anchored off the coast of Galveston, Texas to render disaster recovery and aid to civil authorities as directed in the wake of Hurricane Ike. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Wyscaver.)

On the Home Front:

GALVESTON, Texas, Sept. 26, 2008 -- Amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) and her embarked personnel departed Galveston, Texas Sept. 23, after completing a week-long disaster relief effort providing essential recovery and aid capabilities to the Texas coastal region affected by Hurricane Ike.

"I'm extremely pleased with the performance of all the Sailors and Marines," said Capt. James Boorujy, USS Nassau commanding officer. "Everyday, we had a long line of Sailors ready to come ashore and help out in any way possible."

Throughout the week, Nassau helped local, state and federal agencies distribute 27,440 Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's), 22,135 cases of water and 44,285 bags of ice to 6,878 families at two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) points of distribution in Galveston.

In addition to the essential supplies distributed to Galveston residents, Nassau provided aid by treating 14 minor medical cases, clearing 1,075 cubic yards of debris and sending a total of 1,129 Sailors ashore.

"We averaged about 200 Sailors a day out in Galveston helping to distribute essential supplies, clearing debris and cleaning up areas of the city," said Capt. Bob Lineberry, mission commander, Navy Task Group Ike.

Many military units assisted Nassau in her mission of providing support to the city, including Amphibious Squadron (CPR) 6, Assault Craft Unit 2, Amphibious Construction Battalion 2, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 2, all based in the Hampton Roads area, and Galveston Assistance Team-Overhaul Recovery comprised of Nassau Sailors.

"It was critical to have the machinist Sailors from the ship who were able to make the parts we needed to help fix and operate our water system," said Steve Leblanc, Galveston city manager. "I'd like to say a very special thanks to the Navy."

"Our primary focus was on key infrastructure," said Lineberry. "We spent a lot of Sailor and Marine manpower out at the port facility and airport. I'm very happy to hear both sites will be open soon. It was essential for city officials and our nation to get the key infrastructures going so commerce can start flowing."

A few Sailors who played a critical role in providing help to those in need offered their personal feelings on what it meant to them to give back.

"Everything went great with our recovery efforts and aid," said Boorujy. "It's going to take some time to restore Galveston but I think the assistance of state and federal agencies as well as the Navy helped jump start the effort."

"It felt great to be in Galveston helping out," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Terrance Bellock, CPR 6 operations yeoman and Texas resident. "I joined the military to help out and to be able to participate in something like this is rewarding for so many reasons."

Nassau and her embarked units arrived in Galveston Sept. 17 to support civil authorities in the aid and recovery process of the city as directed.

(Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) David Wyscaver, USS Nassau Public Affairs.)

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Iraqi Detainees Return Armed With Skills

Dispatches from the Front
In this file photo, detainees at the coalition detention facility at Camp Cropper play volleyball in February 2008. (U.S. Department of Defense photo by Spc. Michael V. May.)

Dispatches from the Front:

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2008 -- Coalition forces have returned nearly 13,000 Iraqi detainees to their families this year in the hopes that they will benefit a society they once helped fill with violence.

The coalition’s Joint Task Force 134 is working to reinstate between 30 and
45 detainees per day, and arming them with job skills and education before they are returned home.

"This is a process that shows the people of Iraq that we are working with the government of Iraq to reconcile the past," said Navy Lt. Micah Brewer, of Oceanside, Calif., a representative of the Multinational Force Review Committee.

The detainees benefit from a number of programs to better their lives. Carpentry, art, literacy, civics classes and even a sewing shop are among the many classes available during detainment,

"This process helps get them back to a normal life and hopefully helps bring Iraq to a level of normalcy that provides stability and peace," added Brewer, who is stationed on Camp Cropper, an internment facility just south of Baghdad that holds roughly 3,000 detainees.

"(Sewing) is one of the most popular classes," Brewer said of the course, which is taught by a parachute rigger. "By the end of the class, the detainees can learn to mend clothes, and all of them make a small stuffed camel for their children."

Camp Bucca, located in the southern-most province of Iraq, holds about 16,000 detainees, and hosts an enrichment school offering such courses as arithmetic, Arabic reading and writing, English and social sciences, among others.

Currently, there are more than 2,300 students enrolled in the intra-compound schools, and more than 2,700 have completed basic education; an additional 250 students finished the higher-level courses.

Since August 2007, more than 12,000 detainees have participated in work programs, which yield an hourly salary to help provide for their families.

The Bucca compound also holds a vocational technical school, an arts-and-crafts shop, a library and different recreational activities.

In fact, Bucca detainees have been working to craft 200 desks, which will be delivered in October to nearby schools in support of renovation efforts.

"The detainees here are learning vocational skills and receiving an education to assist them in providing for their families and become productive citizens to help in the rebuilding of Iraq," said Capt. Michael Greene, of Kansas City, Mo., with the 42nd Military Police Brigade at Camp Bucca.

The committee reviews nearly 700 cases each week, a process that allows review every six months for adults and every three months for juveniles, though women also hold priority over men. JTF 134 handles all the detainee operations throughout Iraq, as well as releases.

"They're able to present their case to a [review] board in a productive manner," Brewer said. "If they prove themselves to no longer be a security risk, the board will recommend they be reconciled back into society."

Fewer than one percent of citizens released have been recaptured due to criminal activity. Of the total number still detained, 4,500 are considered a high threat. They were captured for manufacturing bombs, direct involvement in attacks and confirmed membership in al-Qaida. The majority of the detainees in camps Bucca and Cropper were involved in a criminal activity - such as digging a hole on the side of the road or filling a hole with explosives - either because they were being paid or threatened to do so.

Prior to release, detainees are given a class that promotes peace, then they take an oath before an Iraqi judge stating they will not engage in terrorism or insurgency efforts.

"If one of these guys gets out and plants a (bomb), or kills a soldier or a Shiite or Sunni or anyone, and I find out about it, (I'll feel) I was part of a system that failed," Brewer said. "I know that this is war, and it is not perfect. But it reminds me that I need to take the job at hand seriously."

(Story by Army Staff Sgt. Michel Sauret, public affairs office of Multinational Division Center.)

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US State Department: US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Joint Statement

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2008 -- The following news release made available Thursday by the U.S. State Department is the text of a statement issued by U.S Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte and Afghanistan Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfur Spanta following the third round of the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership dialogue:
Senior representatives of the Governments of the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan met in Washington DC today for the third round of the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership dialogue. President Bush and President Karzai created and signed into effect the Strategic Partnership in May 2005 to enhance the long-term security, democracy and prosperity of Afghanistan, as well as to support U.S. national interests. Today’s meeting again underscores the commitment of the United States and Afghanistan to carrying forward a shared vision through senior-level dialogue to further improve bilateral coordination and cooperation to address near- and long-term challenges.

The United States delegation expressed regret over the loss of any innocent civilian lives incurred during security operations. In response to concerns expressed by the Government of Afghanistan, the United States is conducting a senior level review and assessment of the August 22 Shindand operation. In addition, both sides recognize the need for establishing a mutually agreed-upon a framework and mechanism to minimize civilian casualties and to maintain the strong support of the Afghan people in fighting terrorism. The United States reiterated during discussions that it takes every precaution to avoid harming any Afghan civilian during military operations and drew a sharp contrast to the Taliban and Al Qaida and their deliberate campaigns of intimidation and terror on the Afghan populace. The United States especially condemned, along with the UN Secretary General, the recent murder of two UN doctors and multiple Afghan civilians during the UN’s humanitarian efforts to vaccinate Afghan children in southern Afghanistan.

In the Security Working Group, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to pursue a comprehensive security strategy to address Afghanistan’s security challenges and threats. By commending the growing professionalism and sacrifices of the Afghan National Security Forces, they reiterated their determination for the Afghan National Security Forces to progressively assume the leading role in defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and protecting the lives of Afghan citizens. The U.S. side welcomed the recent agreement to expand the Afghan National Army (ANA) to 134,000 personnel. This agreement will allow the ANA to move closer to our shared goal of a well equipped and fully capable force. The Afghan National Police (ANP) also continues to strengthen its capabilities, with the Focused District Development Program serving as the cornerstone of these efforts. Hence, in order to support Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior visions, both sides agreed that the assistance of the international community is essential to realizing the improving capabilities of both ANA and ANP. The ANA, ANP and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are playing central roles in voter registration security and are working to ensure that Afghan voters are able to exercise their rights fully, freely and in a secure environment. The two sides recognized the successes of the United States-Afghan Defense Parliamentary Exchange Program and the Agri-Business Development Teams and continue to look for ways to expand cooperation in these areas.

Both sides emphasized the important roles of regional countries, particularly in confronting transnational terrorism, extremism, organized crime and narcotics trafficking.

In the Governance Working Group, both sides emphasized the fundamental role of respecting and institutionalizing principles of good governance and human rights. The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan briefed the Governance Working Group in detail on Afghanistan’s preparations for the 2009 Presidential and Provincial Council elections. The Afghan side expressed its gratitude for the significant funding and expertise provided by the United States to support this process, including assistance to the Independent Electoral Commission and a number of non-governmental organizations helping Afghan citizens to prepare for this upcoming election. The delegation of the Government of Afghanistan emphasized the transformation in sub-national governance, built around the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). The two parties agreed on the importance of improving the ability of governors to connect to and serve their constituents. The United States, noting the milestone represented by this second round of democratic elections, pledged funding and technical expertise to support this outreach program.

The Governance Working Group welcomed Afghanistan’s recent legal and institutional measures to establish the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, including special units in the Office of the Attorney General and in the Supreme Court, to intensify and oversee efforts aimed at eliminating corruption through preventative, educational and enforcement measures. Both sides committed themselves to seek more progress on corruption over the next year, and to help ensure concrete results – including successful prosecutions where appropriate – the U.S. side agreed to assist the above-mentioned entities in their efforts to secure the necessary resources and means to carry out their respective mandates. We look forward to Afghanistan’s next step in establishing anti-corruption tribunals in the Supreme Court.

In the Prosperity Working Group, both sides expressed concern over increased food insecurity in Afghanistan and pledged to take appropriate actions to resolve this problem. They also acknowledged the enormous needs facing victims of drought, returnees, and internally displaced persons. Private sector-led economic growth as a stability and confidence-building measure, beginning with passage and implementation of a package of pro-competitive, transparent commercial and investment laws and regulations designed to attract investors and to create new jobs was deemed essential for Afghanistan. The two delegations highlighted the importance of promoting a number of key infrastructure projects as prioritized by the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), such as irrigation, agriculture, roads, and power. The delegations noted positively the progress toward electricity sector agreements between Afghanistan and its neighbors. The United States pledged to continue to support efforts to build both bilateral and regional linkages in electricity, and to explore such linkages in transportation and communications.

Both sides also supported concrete steps to expedite and increase Afghanistan’s trade with neighbors in the region, eliminate obstacles to commerce, and focus on preparations to implement the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ) legislation now under consideration by the U.S. Congress. This type of economic strategy is key to fighting terror and narco-trafficking by creating jobs, promoting sustainable development, and drawing investment to targeted areas and the border regions of Afghanistan. Transit trade and Reconstruction Opportunity Zones will be discussed in more detail in the October 8, 2008, U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks in Kabul.

The two delegations discussed the importance of strengthening fiscal sustainability, including the challenge of increasing domestic revenue. The Afghan side is considering a number of steps to ensure that all revenues are duly collected and properly transferred to the Ministry of Finance for recording and allocation. The United States delegation welcomes recent steps taken by the Government of Afghanistan to place operations and maintenance of public infrastructure on a sound cost-recovery basis. These include commercializing the management of key public services such as electrical power in Kabul and the provision of urban water to several major municipalities, as well as the establishment of a Road Maintenance Unit within the Ministry of Public Works. The United States pledges to support both of these efforts by sharing high quality technical expertise.

Both sides recognize the importance of the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy as useful frameworks to foster Afghanistan’s reconstruction and revitalization.

Both delegations in the Counter-Narcotics Working Group welcomed the success achieved this year in reducing poppy cultivation by 19 percent from 2007. This reversed the trend of record poppy growth over the past two years and expanded the number of poppy-free provinces from 13 to 18 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. During the same period, Nangarhar province went from being Afghanistan’s number two poppy-producing province to achieving poppy-free status. These developments are inspiring confidence that the Government of Afghanistan's broad-based counter-narcotics strategy of incentives and disincentives, with the support of the United States and the international community, is working in areas that enjoy relative security and stability. However, connections among narcotics, terrorism, organized crime and corruption are undeniable and the drug problem remains a pressing concern, particularly in the insecure south and southwest regions where seven provinces accounted for 98 percent of total opium production this year. The Government of Afghanistan and its international partners are collaborating on an effort to target more intensively these areas to reduce opium production.

The two delegations endorsed the Afghan Government’s plan for Helmand province to further improve security and governance in that province, and consequently make sustainable progress in eliminating poppy cultivation. The United States will expand the Drug Enforcement Administration’s operations in Afghanistan and continue to build the Afghan Counter Narcotics Police’s capacity. The two sides will work together and will focus on creating an intensified mix of disincentives and incentives for further reductions in opium poppy cultivation and trafficking, including expanded alternative development programs and improving market access infrastructure to support the growing of alternative crops. The Afghan side also spoke of the importance of U.S. support toward the restructured and reformed Counter Narcotics Trust Fund (CNTF). The Government of Afghanistan is committed to carrying out a more robust counter-narcotics campaign for the coming year, including poppy elimination and eradication; strengthening the justice sector; enhancing public information and education; taking vigorous anti-corruption measures, and arresting and prosecuting high-value drug kingpin targets.

Based on this Strategic Partnership Joint Statement, the United States and Afghanistan hereby recommit themselves to shared efforts towards Afghanistan’s commitment to join the family of nations as a secure, prosperous, progressive and democratic nation.
(From U.S. State Department news releases.)

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US Air Force Disciplines 15 in Nuclear Nose Cone Fiasco

News in Balance
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, right, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz hold a press conference at the Pentagon, Sept. 25, 2008, to announce they have taken administrative actions against 15 officers found to have been negligent in the erroneous shipment, of four intercontinental ballistic missile nose-cone fuse assemblies to Taiwan in August, 2006. (DoD photo by R. D. Ward.)

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2008 -- The Air Force has disciplined 15 senior officers, including six generals, in connection with the errant shipping of nuclear missile nose cones to Taiwan in 2006, officials announced today.

The service took administrative actions against two lieutenant generals, two major generals, two brigadier generals and nine colonels, Acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said. He and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz made the announcements at a Pentagon news conference.

In March 2008, the Air Force revealed that the U.S. military had regained control of four nuclear nose cone assemblies, which did not contain nuclear material, for a Minuteman missile mistakenly sent to Taiwan in 2006. After a review of the error, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked for the resignations of then-Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley.

“It has been an Air Force priority that airmen at all levels hold themselves to the highest standards of performance and that all airmen, therefore, remain accountable for their areas of responsibilities and the successful execution of their assigned missions,” Donley said.

The acting secretary said no mission in the Air Force is more important than the service’s central role in maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent. The punishments he and Schwartz made grew out of recommendations from a report submitted by Navy Adm. Kirkwood Donald, the chief of the Navy’s office of nuclear propulsion.

“These actions are administrative in nature but can carry with them substantial consequences for the careers of these officers, including their potential to command, to be promoted or to retire in their current grade,” Donley said. “We recognize the years of dedicated service that these officers have given, but we cannot ignore the breaches of trust that have occurred on their watch.”

Schwartz echoed the acting secretary in his comments about accountability. “The standards to which we must adhere are high, and that is for very good reason,” the chief of staff said. “We are entrusted with the defense of the nation. In no area is that imperative greater than in the stewardship of our nation’s nuclear enterprise. The very nature of the mission demands adherence to the highest standards of precision and reliability.

“Today we are taking action in response to a breakdown in adherence to those standards,” he continued. “These officers are good people with otherwise distinguished careers spent in faithful service to the nation. They are not accused of intentional wrongdoing, but they did not do enough to carry out their leadership responsibilities for nuclear oversight. For that, they must be held accountable.”

The officers involved received letters of reprimand, admonishment or counseling. The most serious is a letter of reprimand.

Lt. Gen. Kevin J. Sullivan received a letter of reprimand for not adequately addressing logistics policy deficiencies and for failing to correct previously identified systemic issues in Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, or ICBM, logistics. He also was cited for not exercising effective command oversight to recognize and correct deficiencies in ICBM depot maintenance and materiel control at the Ogden Air Logistics Center, Utah. Sullivan has requested retirement.

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel received a letter of admonishment for not effectively exercising responsibility for ICBM system sustainment matters and for not effectively correcting deficiencies in engineering support of ICBM components while serving as commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space. Hamel had previously requested retirement.

Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg received a letter of admonishment for not exercising effective command oversight of ICBM sustainment-related activities. He also did not identify and correct deficiencies in shipping and receiving sensitive components at ICBM bases in his current position as commander of 20th Air Force. Donley and Schwartz have determined that Burg is needed to restore effective stewardship of the ICBM force, and he will remain in command to continue corrective actions he has initiated.

Maj. Gen. Kathleen D. Close received a letter of admonishment for not exercising effective command oversight of depot maintenance, engineering activities and materiel control of sensitive components. She was cited for not recognizing weaknesses in the sensitive component supply chain, and for not correcting materiel control and maintenance deficiencies at Ogden Air Logistics Center. Donley and Schwartz determined that Close is needed to restore Air Force stewardship of the ICBM force, and she will remain in command to continue corrective actions she has initiated.

Brig. Gen. Francis M. Bruno was admonished for not exercising proper oversight to identify and correct weaknesses in logistics management and maintenance support for ICBM components, and for not taking adequate action to correct previously identified deficiencies at air logistics centers in his position as logistics director for Air Force Materiel Command. Bruno previously requested retirement.

Brig. Gen. Arthur B. Cameron III was admonished for not identifying and correcting deficiencies in depot maintenance operations involving sensitive components, for not ensuring proper materiel control of sensitive components when in the custody of maintenance personnel and for not taking adequate action to correct previously identified discrepancies in materiel control and maintenance while he served as a maintenance wing commander.

Five of the colonels received letters of reprimand, three letters of admonishment and one a letter of counseling.

“All who serve in uniform understand our obligation to the mission, to personal accountability and to order and discipline in our organizations,” Schwartz said. “We will sustain our high standards, because the nature of our work depends on it. And our client, the American people, expect it.”

(Story by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.)

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