Saturday, March 7, 2009

OEF Summary, March 7, 2009: Forces in Afghanistan Kill 7 Militants, Detain 5

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 7, 2009 -- Afghan border police and coalition forces conducted multiple complex operations in Khowst and Kandahar provinces March 7, killing seven militants and detaining five suspected militants.

In Khowst City (Khost, Matun), Khowst province, approximately 150 km southeast of Kabul, a joint force conducted combat operations to further disrupt the Haqqani leaders in Pakistan. When the combined Afghan and coalition force arrived at the targeted compound, they were engaged by multiple armed militants using small-arms fire in a populated, urban area. The combined force returned fire, killing four militants and injuring one. The injured militant was treated by a coalition medical team and was detained. One armed militant who had fled the compound on foot was captured and detained. Three other militants were detained without incident. A search of the compound revealed weapons, explosives and improvised explosive device-making materials, which were taken off the compound to prevent their use against Afghan citizens, Afghan national security forces and coalition forces.

Fourteen women and 26 children were protected.

In Maywand District, Kandahar province, approximately 80 km west of Kandahar, a combined Afghan and coalition force conducted two operations to disable a mid-level Taliban commander responsible for conducting operations in Maywand District. Based on information, provided by a local Afghan, forces targeted a compound where a militant was staying. When the force reached the compound, an enemy combatant engaged them and was killed. A search of the compound revealed multiple weapons and grenades, which were destroyed outside the compound, minimizing collateral damage.

At a second location, two armed militants were killed during combat operations. A search of the compound revealed weapons and grenades, which were destroyed a safe distance from people and structures, minimizing collateral damage.

Eight women and 14 children were protected.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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Friday, March 6, 2009

US Airpower Summary, March 6, 2009: A-10s Provide Aerial Security

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Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in-flight over Afghanistan providing aerial security for coalition forces. A-10s perform shows of force to deter enemy activities and provide close-air support to coalition forces in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon.)

Dispatches from the Front:

SOUTHWEST ASIA, March 6, 2009 -- Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations March 5, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles engaged a cave that anti-Afghan forces were using as a bunker. Using guided bomb unit-31s, the jets destroyed the cave entrance thus sealing off the enemy position.

Near Lashkar Gah, a coalition aircraft performed a show of force and expended flares to deter enemy activity over a local settlement. The aircraft was providing aerial overwatch for a coalition unit in the area.

An Air Force A-10 flew a show of force near a dismounted coalition patrol performing a mission near Asadabad to discourage enemy attack. The ground force commander called for the show of force since the unit had taken enemy small arms fire in that area earlier in the day.

Over a highway near Sheykhabad, an A-10 flew a show of force to disperse people engaged in suspicious activity in the path of an approaching coalition convoy. The group dispersed following the maneuver.

A-10s flew shows of force near a coalition forward base in Ghazni to establish an aerial security presence to prevent a potential enemy attack. Coalition security and reconstruction operations from the base continued without interference.

An F-15E conducted a show of force over the Jalalabad town center to deter anti-Afghan force activity. The mission was intended to reinforce the security established by Afghan National Police by presenting an additional aerial deterrent.

A coalition aircraft performed a show of force over a compound containing an enemy firing position in the Lashkar Gah area. The aircraft performed a show of force to prevent enemy attack on a coalition convoy passing through the area, withholding an airstrike out of concern for local civilians.

On-scene joint terminal attack controllers assigned to coalition units verified the success of these missions.

In total, 62 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Twenty Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Afghanistan. In addition, two coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 30 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized with coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt hostile activities.

Twenty-seven Air Force and Navy ISR aircraft flew missions as part of operations in Iraq. In addition, three Navy and coalition aircraft performed tactical reconnaissance.

Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift, helping to sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

Approximately 135 airlift sorties were flown, more than 441 tons of cargo was delivered and about 3,036 passengers were transported.

Coalition C-130 crews flew as part of operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

On March 4, Air Force tanker crews flew 46 sorties and off-loaded approximately 3.3 million pounds of fuel to 259 receiving aircraft.

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

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US Navy To Christen USNS Wally Schirra

Focus on Defense
A Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class ship under construction.

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2009 -- The U.S. Navy will launch and christen dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra, Sunday, March 8, 2009, during a 7 a.m. PDT ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark-class (T-AKE) tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy's newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Walter "Wally" Schirra Jr., a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and the Korean War. On Oct. 3, 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space and is honored as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs. Schirra officially retired from the Navy and NASA in 1969.

NASA astronaut and Navy Capt. Lee M. E. Morin will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Serving as ship's sponsor, Josephine Schirra will christen the ship in honor of her late husband. The launching ceremony will include the time-honored Navy tradition of the sponsor breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.

USNS Wally Schirra is the eighth ship of the T-AKE class, a program of up to 14 ships, the first 11 of which will serve as combat logistics force ships and the last three of which are expected to be part of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future). As a combat logistics force ship, USNS Wally Schirra will help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea.

As part of Military Sealift Command's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, Wally Schirra is designated as a United States Naval Ship and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners and 11 Navy sailors. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and additional military personnel to conduct vertical replenishment. The ship is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons, and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system.

(From a U.S. Defense Department press release.)

Related Site: Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ships - T-AKE Fact File

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Pentagon: Piracy on High Seas Begins on Land

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2009 -- The root cause of maritime piracy resides on land, and halting it requires an international solution, the Defense Department's head of African Affairs told a congressional panel yesterday.

"The absence of a strong government in Somalia remains the single greatest challenge to regional security," Daniel Pike, acting principal director of African Affairs, said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. "[It] provides freedom of action for those engaged in piracy along the Somalia coast."

Because experience has shown that no one nation can secure every ocean and waterway around the world, all nations have a vital interest in ensuring the maritime domain remains secure and open, he added.

This is precisely what an international coalition has come together to guarantee, Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. 5th Fleet, said. He also commands the Combined Maritime Forces, an international coalition created to address the recent uptick in piracy in the Gulf of Aiden.

Several years ago, the number of pirate attacks off the eastern coast of Somalia began to increase, he said. In response, the U.S. 5th Fleet and the shipping industry moved the transit lane further off the coast.

It worked, and attacks decreased to just a few a year, Gortney said. But the situation changed in mid-August 2008, when a new clan of Somali pirates began attacking ships north of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden. In just a few days, the number of pirate attacks went from three to 12.

"Ultimately, we knew the solution to the problem of piracy is ashore in Somalia itself," he said. "Therefore, I focused the coalition maritime efforts on security and stability ... operations at sea that would give the international community time to address the long-term solution."

Counter-piracy efforts have been focused in three main areas: increasing international naval presence, improving the shipping industry's defensive measures, and creating an international legal framework for resolving piracy cases.

"Since late August, there have been significant strides made," Gortney said. That's in part because of Combined Task Force 151, which Gortney established in early January with the specific mission and mandate to conduct counter-piracy operations.

"The efforts of CTF 151 are critical to the tactical coordination and deconfliction efforts with all of the international naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden," he said. "CTF 151, and other cooperating naval forces, have encountered approximately 250 pirates."

Of those, 121 have been disarmed and released, 117 have been disarmed and turned over for prosecution; and nine are pending final disposition.

A memorandum of understanding with Kenya signed in January allowed for this morning's turnover of seven suspected pirates taken by CTF 151 last month to Kenyan authorities in the Port of Mombasa with full evidentiary packages, he said.

Pirates' abilities have further been affected by the coalition and task force efforts, which resulted in 28 pirate skiffs seized or destroyed, Gortney said. In addition, 133 small arms, 28 rocket-propelled grenades, 51 rocket-propelled-grenade projectiles, and 21 ladders and grappling hooks were confiscated.

"We have been successful, not only in our coalition efforts, but in communicating and coordinating with other naval forces deployed to the region, as well as working with the merchant shipping industry to share best practices and lessons learned," he said.
All of the efforts to counter pirate attacks thus far have resulted in a drop in successful attacks from a high of 64 percent in October to 17 percent in February, according to State Department statistics. Currently, six ships are being held hostage, compared to the 14 ships that were being held hostage toward the end of last year.

In addition to the military approach to counter-piracy attacks, the government is moving on three other fronts to curtail attacks. Diplomacy, helping the shipping industry bolster self-defense efforts, and improving judicial capacity in the region to prosecute and penalize pirates all are part of the strategy, the State Department's acting deputy assistant secretary for international security and arms control said.

"On these four tracks, working together, I think we've made good progress just in the past few months," Stephen Mull told the committee. "The benefits from this effort, I think, will go far beyond just stopping pirates.

"I think this cooperation could form the foundation for a new regional maritime security framework with regional states and outside contributors," he continued. "This new framework could include a whole range of features that I think would improve the security of the region, as well as our own security."

(Report by Samantha L. Quigley, American Forces Press Service.)

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Combat Camera: Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt; March 6, 2009

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GULF OF OMAN (March 4, 2009) Cmdr. Richard "Miggs" Zins, commanding officer of the "Golden Warriors" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, launches from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) for an in-air change of command ceremony with Cmdr. Richard "Cheese" McGrath Jr. Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder.)

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GULF OF OMAN (March 4, 2009) An Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) directs an aircraft to catapult one aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during routine flight operations. Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder.)

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GULF OF OMAN (March 4, 2009) A shooter launches an EA-6B Prowler assigned to the "Shadowhawks" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during routine flight operations. Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder.)

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GULF OF OMAN (March 1, 2009) Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Rex Badorrek and Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Victoria Lindsey man a .50 caliber gun mount on the fantail of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Andrew Skipworth.)

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GULF OF OMAN (Feb 24, 2009) Aviation Ordnanceman Airman John Adam presents Capt. Ladd Wheeler, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) with an American flag during a burial at sea. Theodore Roosevelt and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Bruns.)

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GULF OF OMAN (Feb. 17, 2009) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Jeff Miller, from Kingston, Okla., left, stands number one nozzleman while attempting to put out a class bravo fire during a general quarters drill aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Suits.)

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GULF OF OMAN (Feb. 16, 2009) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Marc Rohloff waits for the signal from an Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) to apply tension before an aircraft launch aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder.)

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GULF OF OMAN (Feb. 17, 2009) An E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the "Bear Aces" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124 lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Andrew Skipworth.)

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Combat Camera Video: Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) Attack

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News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Marrch 5, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of the aftermath of an attack that occurred outside the perimeter of Bagram Air Field, when a vehicle exploded near an entry control point. (Video by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Peavy; Headquarters, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs. Length: 0:24.)

Related: Suicide Attack at Bagram Airfield Injures 3

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OEF Summary, March 5, 2009: Troops Kill 1, Detain 4 Taliban Bomb Suspects

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 5, 2009 -- Afghan and coalition forces killed one militant and detained four others during operations to disrupt the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist group networks in Afghanistan’s Kandahar and Khowst provinces today, military officials reported.

In Kandahar’s Maywand district, Afghan and coalition forces disabled a bomb-making network run by Taliban operatives. Acting on information from a resident of the area, the assault force entered the compound where militants were known to be staying. Without firing any shots, forces detained two key Taliban operatives involved in making explosives.

Coalition forces provided medical treatment to a noncompliant militant who suffered a minor injury. When forces approached a separate building on the compound, an armed militant maneuvered on the force and was killed. Bomb-making material was found in a separate building on the compound.

Twelve women and 25 children were protected during the incident.

In Khowst province, Afghan special operations and coalition forces conducted an operation to disrupt the Haqqani bomb network. When the combined force arrived at the targeted compound, they searched several buildings without incident, detaining two suspects. No shots were fired.

Sixteen women and 35 children were protected in the operation.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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Combat Camera: Reconnaissance Operations in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq

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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Soutra from Worcester, Mass., of the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, directs his military working dog Posha to search a suspicious vehicle in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham from Tuscaloosa, Ala. of the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, provides security while Posha, a military working dog, searches a suspicious vehicle in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi workers dish rice onto plates during a meal with Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army enjoy a meal provided by one of the local sheiks in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi workers clean and recover their dishes after a meal with Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham from Tuscaloosa, Ala., of the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Soutra, direct Posha, a military working dog, to search the surrounding area during reconnaissance operations in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army stop to survey the area during reconnaissance operations in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Soutra from Worcester, Mass. of the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, directs his dog Posha to search a suspicious vehicle in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army enjoy a meal provided by one of the local sheiks in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army provide security for a temporary camp in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. The soldiers also conducted reconnaissance operations. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army enjoy a meal with a local sheik in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

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Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army unpack gear from their vehicle while seting up a temporary camp in Al Qadasiyah, Iraq, Feb. 25. (Photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris; Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Video: Processing Suspected Pirates Aboard USNS Lewis and Clark, Part 2

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Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of the processing of suspected pirates aboard the USNS Lewis and Clark. Scenes include them being padded down for weapons and shackled, walked down the hull of the ship and sat against the wall, other suspected pirates being escorted off helicopters into the ship, the suspects being given food and medical attention as well as footage of their beds. Part 2 of 2. (Produced by Lt. Nathan Christensen; U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs. Length: 4:59.)

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Suicide Attack at Bagram Airfield Injures 3

Dispatches from the Front
News from Combined Joint Task Force 101.

Dispatches from the Front:

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 4, 2009 -- Three contractors suffered minor injuries in a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack this afternoon near Bagram Airfield, Combined Joint Task Force 101 officials said today.

The attack occurred outside the perimeter of the base when a vehicle exploded near an entry control point. The driver, who was carrying explosives, abandoned the vehicle before it detonated. The explosive he was carrying detonated as he ran away from the vehicle. The attacker was killed in the second explosion. It is unknown if there were additional personnel in the vehicle.

No military or Afghan civilian casualties have been reported.

The injured contractors are being treated in the hospital on base.

(From a Combined Joint Task Force 101 news release.)

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USS Ohio Earns Battle 'E'

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In this December 2008 file photo, the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) visits Naval Station Pearl Harbor on the return leg of its historic first deployment as a Trident guided-missile submarine. This will be the final stop before returning to its home port of Bangor, Wash. The submarine departed Naval Base Kitsap Oct. 14, 2007 for its maiden deployment, which began a month ahead of schedule. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. David Benham.)

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In this December 2008 file photo, crew members of the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) prepare to moor at Naval Station Pearl Harbor for the final stop before returning to homeport at Bangor, Wash. The submarine departed Naval Base Kitsap Oct. 14, 2007 for its maiden deployment, which began a month ahead of schedule. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. David Benham.)

Focus on Defense:

SILVERDALE, Wash., March 4, 2009 -- The guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) received the Battle Efficiency award, or Battle "E," during ceremonies held in late February aboard Naval Base Kitsap.

"The crew worked extremely hard during the ship's 15-month deployment to the Western Pacific," said USS Ohio (Gold) Commanding Officer Capt. Dennis E. Carpenter.

"Both crews worked extremely hard, even while in port, to be trained and certified in all aspects of our mission areas. We also performed well during those missions while deployed, which helped us to be able to win the Battle E. We did very well on all of our inspections too."

In addition to the Battle "E", the Ohio received other honors, such as the Tactical "T" and the Deck Seamanship "D" awards.

"The Tactical "T" was for our tactical employment of the ship within our certifications and the exercises and operations that we conducted," said Carpenter.

"The Deck Seamanship "D" was due to a lot of hard work by a small portion of the crew to keep our topside in excellent condition. We had very high level visitors that were coming down every time we pulled into port, and each time those guys had to paint the entire topside of our ship and keep it up. Even while some of the other guys were going on liberty, and even some times at night, these guys are topside painting the ship."

Carpenter said that the Battle "E" award is a testament of the crew working together as a team to accomplish the mission.

"The success of a submarine is not due to just any one person. Everyone's job is very important, down to the most junior Sailor. If he's not doing his job, we have problems. The success of the Ohio, and I think I can say this for both crews, is due to teamwork, everyone showing up on board and contributing to the success of the ship."

For the crew, earning this award is a good way for them to be recognized for the work they do.

"It's a great sense of accomplishment for how hard we worked this past year and all the training we've done," said Fire Control Technician 2nd Class (SS) Shaun Wintink, Ohio (Gold) crew. "It's nice to be recognized for how well we've operated the ship at sea. I think it's a great way for the whole crew to be recognized that we can proficiently operate the ship at sea and do it well."

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det. Northwest.)

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Living History: The Army Goes to Hollywood!

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"Prelude to War." US Army Signal Corp photograph of the movie poster for Prelude to War. (Photo by U.S. Army Military History Institute.)

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"Why We Fight." This image shows a scene from the film "Prelude to War" from the "Why We Fight" series and it is one of the films in the "Why We Fight" series directed by Frank Capra and written by the Epstein brothers and comes from the 35mm Motion Picture film for Special Services Division, October 1942 (Photo from WW2 Signal Corps Photograph Collection).

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The Home Front: Center for Military History exhibit case at the Pentagon. Poster, photographs and film are part of the Army Heritage and Education Center collections. (Photo by U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.)

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The Army's "Oscar." Close-up the of the Army's “Oscar” in the Pentagon Exhibit. (Photo by U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.)

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In War and Peace. Inside the Chapel at the WWII Mobilization exhibit at the Army Heritage and Education Center, Army Heritage Trail, Carlisle PA. (Photo by U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.)

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Home, tar paper, home! WWII Mobilization Barracks on the Army Heritage Trail, Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle , PA. (Photo by U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.)

Living History:

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2009 -- Leni Riefenstahl, German film director, defined the image of the Nazi Party through films such as “Triumph of the Will”, and “Olympia”, and, in the process, created a new reality and perception of the new German state that defined a nation and unified its people. On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States, having been attacked at Pearl Harbor, created the Office of War Information (OWI) and began producing films with Hollywood.

OWI was designed to use mass communication to sell the war and the reasons for the massive mobilization to stop the German Nazi and Japanese Imperial armies. OWI was created to define our perception of reality, the reality of a world at war. Television was not yet the force in entertainment that it is today, so most individuals learned about world events by listening to the radio or reading the newspaper. OWI Films brought the stories of war to life on the big screen. Filmmaker Frank Capra was commissioned into the U.S. Army Special Services to direct a series of OWI films. Mr. Capra is perhaps best remembered today as the director of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 1946. Already in 1942 he was renowned for such film classics as “You Can’t Take it with You,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and “Lost Horizon.” The “Why We Fight” series debuted in 1942. “Prelude to War” was used as a U.S. Army training film prior to its theatrical release. Later, the home front was shown the films, as part of the job of unifying the country to ration supplies. Everyone was expected to do their part in the war effort.

During this week in Army history, on March 4, 1943, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded an Academy Award, or “Oscar,” to Mr. Capra for “Prelude to War” as the Best Documentary film of 1942. The citation reads in part "A special award to Prelude to War for its trenchant conception and authentic and stirring dramatization of the events which forced our nation into the war and of the ideals for which we fight." To conserve metal for war purposes, the wartime Oscar was not the familiar metal statue but a plaque. A statue was issued in 1958 but passed out of the Army’s custody in 1970. It was returned to the Army just last September. Today it forms part of the Army History exhibit in the Pentagon, designed by the Army Heritage and Education Center (AHEC).

These films mobilized a nation and played a significant role in inspiring the “greatest generation”. The films were shown to soldiers during basic training, projected on the silver screen in World War II Mobilization Temporary Barracks. Built to train a significant number of individuals in a short period of time, thousands of these barracks were constructed during the early 1940s. Representative types of them have been accurately reproduced along AHEC’s Army Heritage Trail in Carlisle, PA, and are open to the public, a living history of our determination to win the war.

Film entertains us, inspires us, and there was a time when it united us in battle against the tyranny of Totalitarianism of Europe and Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. The US Army and Hollywood joined forces to mobilize a nation, beat back the Nazi’s, and thus save the world. These films united us, so we could defend and maintain our way of life.

Thank you, Mr. Capra and all the veterans of the greatest generation. Thanks to you, it is, indeed, a wonderful life.

(Report by John Kurash, U. S. Army Military History Institute.)

ABOUT THIS STORY: Many of the sources presented in this article are among 400,000 books, 1.7 million photos and 12.5 million manuscripts available for study through the U.S. Army Military History Institute (MHI). The artifacts shown are among nearly 50,000 items of the Army Heritage Museum (AHM) collections. MHI and AHM are part of the: Army Heritage and Education Center (AHEC), 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA.


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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Combat Camera: US Warships Transit the Suez Canal

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SUEZ CANAL (March 1, 2009) The multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) passes under the Mubarak Peace Bridge while transiting the Suez Canal. Iwo Jima is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chad R. Erdmann.)

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SUEZ CANAL (Feb. 27, 2009) The guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) transit the Suez Canal. Roosevelt and Vella Gulf are deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Flordeliz Valerio.)

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SUEZ CANAL (Feb. 27, 2009) The guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) transits the Suez Canal. Roosevelt is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker.)

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SUEZ CANAL (Feb. 27, 2009) The guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) transit the Suez Canal. Roosevelt and Vella Gulf are deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker.)

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SUEZ CANAL (Feb. 27, 2009) The amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) transits the Suez Canal. Carter Hall is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

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