Thursday, December 31, 2009

USS Nimitz Aviation Ordnancemen

DNU Flash - USS Nimitz Aviation Ordnancemen directly support the ship's crew and service members in Afghanistan.

Seattle Port of Call


DNU Flash - Seattle offers a variety of port of call attractions for Sailors.

Holiday Greetings


DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

Operational Stress Control


DNU Flash - Operational Stress Control program benefits service members.

NORAD Stolen Plane


NORAD forced a man in a stolen plane to land Wednesday in Florida.

Rota Firefighting Training


DNU Flash - Rota, Spain Sailors conduct hands-on firefighting training.

Headlines for Thursday, December 31, 2009


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is scheduled to deploy from Norfolk Saturday; The Navy Career Counselor's Association will host the 22nd Annual Professional Development symposium in Norfolk, Va., in 2010.

Sobriety Training


People around the world will be celebrating the new year tonight, and law enforcement personnel will be out in force keeping an eye out for drunk drivers.

New ISR in Afghanistan


The Air Force has a new eye in the sky over Afghanistan.

JIEDDO Command


Lt. Gen. Michael Oates took command of the Joint IED Defeat Organization Wednesday.

Indiana Troops Return


Some members of the Indiana National Guard are back home just in time to celebrate the new year.

Canadians Killed in Afghanistan


Four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist were killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb attack in southern Afghanistan.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Explosion Update


The DoD is confirming the deaths of eight U.S. civilians after an explosion aboard FOB Chapman in eastern Afghanistan.

USS Nimitz Primary Flight Control


DNU Flash - USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Primary Flight Control personnel are essential for successful air operations.

Suicide Prevention


DNU Flash - Navy chaplains are a vital resource for suicide prevention.

Holiday Greetings


DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

Female Marines Visit Afghan Women


DNU Flash - Female Marines visit Afghan women.

Classified Information


President Obama has issued an executive order regarding classified national security information.

Sasebo, Japan Chaplain


DNU Flash - A new Navy chaplain arrives at Sasebo, Japan.

Headlines for Wednesday, December 30, 2009


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: The Navy takes delivery of its newest attack submarine Pre-commissioning Unit New Mexico (SSN 779); Pre-planning is essential for safety during the holidays.

Marines on Being Deployed

Deployment is always a challenge, just ask the First Sergeant of Task Force East out of Quantico, Virginia who recently returned from Iraq.

Astronauts

Some U.S. forces in Baghdad got a chance to speak with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

New ISR Afghanistan


The Air Force has a new eye in the sky over Afghanistan. The new MC-12 aircraft has arrived in theater. The plane can gather and transmit information more effectively.

Space Station


Astronauts onboard the International Space Station took time off Tuesday to talk to servicemembers in Iraq.

Soldier Killed in Afghanistan


ISAF officials say a U.S. Soldier was killed Tuesday in a shooting in western Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

USS Blue Ridge Career Counselors


DNU Flash - USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) career counselors educate first-term Sailors about Perform To Serve.

San Francisco Port of Call


DNU Flash - San Francisco offers a variety of port of call attractions.

Holiday Greetings


DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program


DNU Flash - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program services are not only for active duty service members.

Soldiers Speak to Astronauts


A call to U.S. forces in Baghdad proved to be out of this world. Servicemembers got a chance to speak with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Comedians Tour Bahrain

DNU Flash - Comedians entertain Sailors serving in Bahrain.

Headlines for Tuesday, December 29, 2009


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: The Navy Midshipmen are scheduled to play Missouri in the Texas Bowl Dec. 31; The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax-filing services for service members.

Military Spouse Residency


Congress recently passed a law called the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, which is meant to change how military spouses are treated when it comes to residency laws.

Iraq Wounded Return


Six U.S. servicemembers wounded while serving in Iraq returned to the country Monday to see how things have changed.

Speedy Recovery


When American Soldiers are injured in Afghanistan, they are taken to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment.

Smoking in the Military


DoD statistics show that 18 to 25 year old males in the military smoke and use tobacco at rates higher than any other age group.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center


Many American Soldiers injured in Afghanistan are being treated at a military hospital in Germany.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Peril in War Zones: Sexual Abuse by Fellow G.I.’s

BAGHDAD — Capt. Margaret H. White began a relationship with a warrant officer while both were training to be deployed to Iraq. By the time they arrived this year at Camp Taji, north of here, she felt what she called “creepy vibes” and tried to break it off.

In the claustrophobic confines of a combat post, it was not easy to do. He left notes on the door to her quarters, alternately pleading and menacing. He forced her to have sex, she said. He asked her to marry him, though he was already married. He waited for her outside the women’s latrines or her quarters, once for three hours.

“It got to the point that I felt safer outside the wire,” Captain White said, referring to operations that take soldiers off their heavily fortified bases, “than I did taking a shower.”

Her ordeal ended with the military equivalent of a restraining order and charges of stalking against the officer. It is one case that highlights the new and often messy reality the military has had to face as men and women serve side by side in combat zones more than ever before.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault, which the military now defines broadly to include not only rape but also crimes like groping and stalking, continue to afflict the ranks, and by some measures are rising. While tens of thousands of women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, often in combat, often with distinction, the integration of men and women in places like Camp Taji has forced to the surface issues that commanders rarely, if ever confronted before.

The military — belatedly, critics say — has radically changed the way it handles sexual abuse in particular, expanding access to treatment and toughening rules for prosecution. In the hardships of war, though, the effects of the changes remain unclear.

The strains of combat, close quarters in remote locations, tension and even boredom can create the conditions for abuse, even as they hinder medical care for victims and legal proceedings against those who attack them.

Captain White said she had feared coming forward, despite having become increasingly despondent and suffered panic attacks, because she was wary of she-said-he-said recriminations that would reverberate through the tightknit military world and disrupt the mission. Despite the military’s stated “zero tolerance” for abuse or harassment, she had no confidence her case would be taken seriously and so tried to cope on her own, Captain White said.

A Pentagon-appointed task force, in a report released this month, pointedly criticized the military’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse, citing the “unique stresses” of deployments in places like Camp Taji. “Some military personnel indicated that predators may believe they will not be held accountable for their misconduct during deployment because commanders’ focus on the mission overshadows other concerns,” the report said.

That, among other reasons, is why sexual assault and harassment go unreported far more often than not. “You’re in the middle of a war zone,” Captain White said, reflecting a fear many military women describe of being seen, somehow, as harming the mission.

“So it’s kind of like that one little thing is nothing compared with ‘There is an I.E.D. that went off in this convoy today and three people were injured,’ ” she said, referring to an improvised explosive device.

Common Fears

By the Pentagon’s own estimate, as few as 10 percent of sexual assaults are reported, far lower than the percentage reported in the civilian world. Specialist Erica A. Beck, a mechanic and gunner who served in Diyala Province in Iraq this summer, recalled a sexual proposition she called “inappropriate” during her first tour in the country in 2006-7. “Not necessarily being vulgar, but he, you know, was asking for favors,” she said.

She did not report it, she said, because she feared that her commanders would have reacted harshly — toward her.

“It was harassment,” she said. “And because it was a warrant officer, I didn’t say anything. I was just a private.”

Her fears were common, according to soldiers and advocates who remain skeptical of the military’s efforts to address abuse. A report last year by the Government Accountability Office concluded that victims were reluctant to report attacks “for a variety of reasons, including the belief that nothing would be done or that reporting an incident would negatively impact their careers.”

When Sgt. Tracey R. Phillips told a superior about an unwanted sexual advance from a private the night their unit arrived in Iraq in May, the accusations unleashed a flurry of charges and countercharges, an initial investigation of her on charges of adultery, a crime in the military justice system, and, according to her account, violations by her commanders of the new procedures meant to ease reporting of abuse.

In the end, she was kicked out of Iraq and the Army itself, while the private remained on duty here.

The military disputed her account but declined to state the reasons for sending her out of Iraq. Her paperwork showed that she received an honorable discharge, though with “serious misconduct” cited as the reason. The so-called misconduct, she said, stemmed from the Army’s allegation that she had had an inappropriate relationship with the private she accused. She denied that.

“If I would have never, ever, ever said anything, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” she said in an interview at her parents’ home near San Antonio. “I’d still be in Iraq.”

At bases around Iraq, many said that acceptance and respect for women in uniform were now more common than the opposite. In part, they said, that reflects a sweeping change in military culture that has accompanied the rise of women through the ranks and into more positions once reserved for men.

“It’s not tolerated — it’s just not,” said Lt. Brenda L. Beegle, a married military police officer, referring to sexual harassment and abuse.

In an interview at Liberty Base, near Baghdad’s airport, she said: “Everyone has heard stories about bad things that have happened. I’ve never had an issue.”

Although exact comparisons to the civilian world are difficult because of different methods of defining and reporting abuse, Pentagon officials and some experts say that the incidence of abuse in the military appears to be no higher than in society generally, and might be lower. It appears to be even lower in combat operations than at bases in the United States, because of stricter discipline and scrutiny during deployments, as well as restrictions on alcohol, which is often a factor in assaults, for example, on college campuses.

Complaints Increase

The number of complaints, though, is rising. Across the military, there were 2,908 reported cases of sexual abuse involving service members as victims or assailants, in the fiscal year that ended in September 2008, the last year for which the Pentagon made numbers available. That was an 8 percent increase from the previous year, when there were 2,688.

In the turbulent regions from Egypt to Afghanistan where most American combat troops are now deployed, the increase in reported cases was even sharper: 251 cases, compared with 174 the year before, a 44 percent increase. The number in Iraq rose to 143, from 112 the year before. Everyone agrees that those represent only a fraction of the instances of assault, let alone harassment.

“A woman in the military is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq,” Representative Jane Harman, a Democrat from California, said at a Congressional hearing this year, repeating an assertion she has made a refrain in a campaign of hers to force the military to do more to address abuses.

At least 10 percent of the victims in the last year were men, a reality that the Pentagon’s task force said the armed services had done practically nothing to address in terms of counseling, treatment and prosecution. Men are considered even less likely to report attacks, officials said, because of the stigma, and fears that their own sexual orientation would be questioned. In the majority of the reported cases, the attacker was male.

Senior Pentagon officials argued that the increase in reports did not necessarily signify a higher number of attacks. Rather, they said, there is now a greater awareness as well as an improved command climate, encouraging more victims to come forward.

“We believe the increase in the number of reported cases means the department is capturing a greater proportion of the cases that occurred during the year, which is good news,” said the Pentagon’s senior official overseeing abuse policies, Kaye Whitley.

The military can no more eradicate sexual abuse than can society in general, but soldiers, officers and experts acknowledge that it is particularly harmful when soldiers are in combat zones, affecting not only the victims but also, as the military relies more than ever on women when the nation goes to war, the mission.

“For the military the potential costs are even higher as it can also negatively impact mission readiness,” the Pentagon’s annual report on sexual abuse said, referring to sexual violence. “Service members risk their lives for one another and bear the responsibility of keeping fellow service members out of harm’s way. Sexual assault in the military breaks this bond.”

Even investigations into accusations, which are often difficult to prove, can disrupt operations. In Sergeant Phillips’s case, she was relieved of her duties leading a squad of soldiers refueling emergency rescue helicopters and other aircraft at Camp Kalsu, south of Baghdad.

Cases like hers suggest that the vagaries of sex and sexual abuse, especially in combat zones, continue to vex commanders on the ground, despite the transformation of the military’s policies.

The majority of sexual abuse allegations end with no prosecution at all. Of 2,171 suspects of investigations that were completed during the fiscal year that ended in September 2008, only 317 faced a court-martial. Another 515 faced administrative punishments or discharges. Nearly half of the completed investigations lacked evidence or were “unsubstantiated or unfounded.”

The Pentagon, facing criticism, maintains that it has transformed the way it handles sexual abuse. In the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as highly publicized cases and revelations of rampant abuse at the Air Force Academy in 2003, the Pentagon created a single agency to oversee the issue and rewrote the rules of reporting, treatment and prosecution. Beginning in October 2007, the Uniform Code of Military Justice expanded the provision that once covered rape — Article 120 — to include other offenses, like indecent exposure and stalking.

The Army, which has provided the bulk of the forces in Iraq, has increased the number of investigators and lawyers trained to investigate accusations. Most bases now have kits to collect forensic evidence in rape cases, which was not the case immediately after the invasion in 2003.

Larger field hospitals in Balad and Mosul now have the same type of sexual assault nurse examiners widely used in the civilian world, as well as a dozen other examiners who are not nurses but are trained to conduct forensic examinations.

The military has set up a system of confidential advisers women can turn to who are outside the usual chain of command — an avenue Sergeant Phillips said she had been denied.

If they want to, the women can now seek medical treatment and counseling without setting off a criminal investigation. And all the services have started educational programs to address aspects of a hierarchical warrior culture that some say contributes to hostility toward women. Posters for the campaign blanket bulletin boards in offices, chow halls and recreational buildings on bases across Iraq.

The military’s efforts, however well intentioned, are often undermined by commanders who are skeptical or even conflicted, suspicious of accusations and fearful that reports of abuse reflect badly on their commands. The Pentagon task force also reported that victims of assault did not come forward because they might “have engaged in misconduct for which they could be disciplined, such as under-age drinking, fraternization or adultery.”

Marti Ribeiro, then an Air Force sergeant, said she was raped by another soldier after she stepped away from a guard post in Afghanistan in 2006 to smoke a cigarette, a story first recounted in “The Lonely Soldier,” a book by Helen Benedictabout women who served in Iraq and elsewhere. When she went to the abuse coordinator, she was threatened with prosecution for having left her weapon and her post.

“I didn’t get any help at all, let alone compassion,” said Ms. Ribeiro, who has since retired and joined the Service Women’s Action Network, a new advocacy organization devoted to shaping the Pentagon’s policy.

The hardships of combat operations often compound the anguish of victims and complicate investigations, as well as counseling and treatment. The Government Accountability Office suggested that the “unique living and social circumstances” of combat posts heightened the risk for assault. Both the G.A.O. and the Pentagon’s task force found that, despite the Pentagon’s policy, remote bases did not have adequate medical and mental health services for victims. The task force also found that abuse coordinators and victim advocates were often ill trained or absent.

As a result, victims often suffer the consequences alone, working in the heat and dust, living in trailers surrounded by gravel and concrete blast walls, with nowhere private to retreat to. In Captain White’s case, she had to work and live beside the man who assaulted and stalked her until their deployment ended in August and they both went home.

“You’re in such a fishbowl,” she said. “You can’t really get away from someone. You see him in the chow hall. You see him in the gym.”

The Danger Nearby

Captain White’s case is typical of many here, according to military lawyers and experts, in that she knew the man she said assaulted her, circumstances that complicated the investigation and prosecution.

She had dated the warrant officer when they arrived in Fort Dix, N.J., for predeployment training with the 56th Stryker Combat Team. The newly revised article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice says that “a current or previous dating relationship by itself” does not constitute consent.

Once at Camp Taji, a sprawling base just north of Baghdad, she grew troubled by his behavior. He cajoled her with presents and sent her e-mail messages. She said that for fear of running into him, she stopped drinking water after 7 p.m. so she would not have to go to the latrine at night alone.

She never came forward herself. Her case came to light only when military prosecutors questioned her about another investigation involving the warrant officer. He was ultimately charged with 19 offenses, said Lt. Col. Philip J. Smith, a spokesman for the division that oversaw operations in central Iraq. The charges included seven counts of fraternization and two of adultery, interfering with an investigation and, in Captain White’s case, stalking.

After their deployment ended in September, the officer pleaded guilty and resigned from the Army in lieu of prosecution, Colonel Smith said.

Captain White said that she was satisfied with the legal outcome of her case, though her account of it highlighted the emotional strains that sexual abuse causes.

“I’m not saying that I handled it the best way,” she said in an interview after her own retirement from the Army, “but I handled it at the time and in the situation what I thought was the best way, which was just to keep my head down, keep going — which was kind of an Army thing to say: Drive on.”

Kassie Bracken contributed reporting from San Antonio and Houston.

Multimedia Content at NYTimes

Holiday Greetings

DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

Holiday Fitness

DNU Flash - Sasebo Sailors stay fit during the holiday season.

Globetrotters Visit Rota, Spain


DNU Flash - Globetrotters entertain Rota, Spain Sailors.

Oceanography Center Hosts Japanese Military


DNU Flash - Naval Oceanography Modern Warfare Center hosts Japanese military.

Germany Hospital


When American troops are injured some of them are taken to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment.

Combat Outpost

DNU Flash - Assault Craft Unit-5 Sailors conduct readiness training.

Headlines for Monday, December 28, 2009


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Suicide prevention is key during holiday season; The Navy revises its family care plan policy.

Marines on Being Deployed


The commanding officer of Task Force East says Marines already deployed and those preparing to do so may find themselves in uncharted territory and should ask for help when needed.

Suicide Investigations


The number of Army suicides has increased again. The numbers are now higher for 2009 than they were in 2008.

Soldier's Baby Born


Thanks to corporate donations SPC C.J. Husband was able to travel home to South Carolina in time for the birth of his son.

BAH Rates

The Department of Defense has released its housing allowance rates for 2010. Servicemembers can expect an average raise of about 37 dollars per month.

Holiday Shopping Risk

As the holiday shopping season reaches its peak, officials with the Federal Trade Commission are warning servicemembers to protect their personal information.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TRICARE Dental Offers Options to Repair Tooth Loss

December 24, 2009

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Tooth loss can be a difficult and sometimes embarrassing condition. Quality of life, confidence or daily functioning can be affected by the loss of permanent teeth.

TRICARE wants beneficiaries to know that conventional crown and bridge treatment and dentures aren’t the only options to address tooth loss. Dental implants are an option for medically qualified candidates. A thorough dental evaluation is required to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for dental implants. Good candidates for a dental implant are non-smokers with healthy gums and adequate bone remaining in the area where the implant will be placed.

To view this release, please visit: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/Pressroom/News.aspx?fid=578

About TRICARE Management Activity and the Military Health System TRICARE Management Activity, the Defense Department activity that administers the health care plan for the uniformed services, retirees and their families, serves more than 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries worldwide in the Military Health System (MHS). The mission of the MHS is to enhance Department of Defense and national security by providing health support for the full range of military operations. The MHS provides quality medical care through a network of providers, military treatment facilities, medical clinics and dental clinics worldwide. For more about the MHS go to www.health.mil.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This Week in the National Guard

We want you to know what's going on in the National Guard. Below you'll see a series of links to stories that appeared on the National Guard Web page this week.

Hopefully, you will see your state recognized for its contributions to current operations - both at home and overseas. We also want you to know what our senior leaders at the state and national levels are doing and saying. We hope you'll find this product useful.

If you are unable to open any of the links below, please visit our Website at http://www.ng.mil for these and many other stories, photos and videos.

Jack Harrison

Director, Office of Communications And Public Affairs


Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Greetings


DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

Sasebo Angel Tree


DNU Flash - Sasebo Sailors reach out to less fortunate children.

US 7th Fleet Band


DNU Flash - U.S. 7th Fleet Band entertains Yokosuka Sailors.

Sasebo Divers


DNU Flash - Sasebo divers are critical to operational readiness.

Headlines for Friday December 25, 2009


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Seabee battalions deploy to Afghanistan; New members are solicited for Navy E-Mentoring program.

Shakin' Stevens: Merry Christmas Everyone

Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmas Time

Olivia Newton-John: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song

Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas Is You

Faith Hill: Where Are You Christmas

Chris Rea: Driving Home for Christmas

Celine Dion: Blue Christmas

Bing Crosby: White Christmas

John Lennon: Happy Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

CJCS Happy Holidays

A Message from ADM and Mrs. Mullen

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Mike Mullen and his wife Deborah send out holiday wishes to all servicemembers and their families

The Corrs: Happy Christmas

Holiday Greetings


DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

North Island Golf Course

DNU Flash - Golf Course boosts morale for North Island Sailors.

Holiday Mail


DNU Flash - Packages boost morale during holidays.

Sasebo United Services Organizations


DNU Flash - The Sasebo United Service Organizations receives a new operations manager.

Christmas Special

With a preview today at 19:20hs, tomorrow we will post, staring 800hs each 30 mins, ten xmas music videos. Enjoy.

Headlines for Thursday, December 24th 2009

DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Navy encourages safe firearm practices; Navy releases new and updated personnel qualification standards for the Yeoman rating.

Troops Come Home


About 200 South Carolina National Guard troops are home for the holidays.

NORTHCOM Nominee Announced


Commander in Chief Barack Obama has nominated Navy Vice Admiral James Winnefeld to be the next Commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD.

Troops Help Orphans


Soldiers in Afghanistan's Paktika Province are bringing smiles to children's faces this week.

Holiday Shopping Risks


As the holiday shopping season reaches its peak, officials with the Federal Trade Commission are warning servicemembers to shop wisely and watch your wallet.

Home for the Holidays


Home for the holidays. That probably means a lot to the Soldiers of the 138th Quartermaster based in Brazil, Indiana.

Commentary: Remaining Vigilant For Freedom

By Army Sgt. Jon E. Dougherty
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan, Dec. 23, 2009 - As our families and friends back home celebrate the holidays, those of us on the ground in Afghanistan are continuing the fight against extremism. Because our enemy is relentless, we must also be as relentless. We know that in war, there are no holidays.

For the "Houn' Dawgs" of the Missouri National Guard's 203rd Engineer Battalion, to which I am attached, our operational tempo will remain high. Our combat logistics personnel will still be out on Afghanistan's dangerous roads, delivering critically needed fuel and other supplies to regional forward and combat operating bases.

They will be accompanied by their brothers and sisters in arms who will be manning the route-clearance packages, whose mission is to clear those same dangerous roads of improvised explosive devices and defend against ambushes and small-arms fire. Their schedule will carry them through Christmas and, most likely, New Year's Day as well.

But the combat engineers of the 203rd won't be the only unit still in action. So many others – military and civilian alike – still have responsibilities that don't end because of a date on the calendar.

Guard towers must still be manned, and medical care still provided. Mail delivery – so important, especially during this time of year – must go on.

Troops must be fed, and latrines, showers and common areas will still need to be kept clean and functioning. Laundry facilities must remain operational, and other basic base services such as security and flight operations continue. Also, training – which is so important to overall readiness – will continue unabated.

When troops are fortunate enough to have a few hours of leisure time, they will use it in various ways. Some will celebrate the holidays in small groups, opening presents and packages sent thousands of miles to them by friends and family back home who are trying their best to give us a taste of the holiday season and some semblance of normalcy in this foreign land. Others will simply spend time alone, in solace and reflection, thankful to get a few moments' peace. Still others will catch up on sleep, on laundry, on writing letters and e-mails, and other personal business. Some will be preparing for their inevitable next mission.

Not all is lost in the foggy pace of war. Soldiers are doing what they can to add their own touch of home to the season.

In the chow halls and tactical operations centers, in the office hallways and post exchanges, in the mine-resistant, armor-protected vehicles and on the doors of living quarters there are signs of the season and expressions of faith. Strings of lights – even on blacked-out bases – have popped up, and sparkling trees, tinsel, bulbs and streamers can be seen wherever I go.

In the morale, welfare and recreation centers, personnel wait patiently for a telephone or computer so they can communicate with wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters a world away. Seasonal programming, along with the customary sporting events for this time of year, filters through televisions via the American Forces Network. There is foosball and pingpong, popcorn and card games.

And though we worry about how our loved ones are managing back home – even as they worry about us – we are strengthened in the knowledge that while this may be our lives right now, it will not be our lives forever. Someday – sooner for some, longer for others – we are secure in the knowledge that we will return to that "other world" thousands of miles away to embrace our families and friends and resume our lives in peace.

Still, there are sacrifices. For me, personally, I will miss the tradition of going to Mass prior to getting together with my family on Christmas Eve to share stories, laughs and memories. I will miss the dinner Christmas Day with my extended family. And I will miss, especially, spending time with my small grandchildren, who I am sure do not fully understand why Grandpa isn't able to be with them this year.

I will miss counting down the moments until the New Year with friends, and I will miss the sense of community I always get this time of year from the people of my hometown of Jefferson City, Mo.

I will miss things that, I am sure, many other serving military personnel also are going to miss. But that's what is good about traditions -- they don't vanish when there are loved ones who remain behind to carry them on in our absence.

Despite our temporary hardships, for now our families and friends continue to depend on us to keep them safe and to do our part to protect our country against hate, extremism and terror. We know they understand, as we do, that while we would prefer to be back home sharing gifts and smiles, our presence here and throughout the world is necessary as a bulwark against violence and terror, in order to maintain the freedom and security all of them have come to expect.

That we could possibly bring such freedom and security to a people who have never known it makes this journey – and those who support us in it – that much more special this holiday season.

(Army Sgt. Jon E. Dougherty serves with the Missouri National Guard's 203rd Engineer Battalion.)

Naval Research Lab Studies Solar Storms

By Bob Freeman
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2009 - Imagine a threat to the global community with the potential to damage communication satellites, interrupt navigation systems, shut down regional power grids, impede oil and gas exploration, expose aircraft crews to high levels of radiation, and endanger the lives of astronauts.

That threat exists, but it's not from any well-organized terrorist group. It's from the sun.

"Ultraviolet and X-ray radiation and particle emissions from the sun affect the ionosphere and [the Earth's magnetic field] and can cause lots of problems to space and ground assets," explained Russell Howard, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, in a Dec. 21 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's audio webcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

Howard was joined in the interview by George Doschek, head of the Naval Research Laboratory's Solar Terrestrial Branch, who explained that the "solar wind," a stream of charged particles and radiation constantly blowing toward the Earth, is intensified by disturbances in the sun's magnetic field, such as sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections.

"All the activity on the sun is produced when the sun's magnetic field is converted into particle emissions and acceleration, and radiation," Doschek said. He explained that the magnetic field of the sun actually stores energy, which is released in bursts when the structure of the field suddenly changes to a configuration that holds less energy.

"When that happens," he said, "we think that the excess energy goes into radiation and accelerating particles."

Howard, who holds a doctorate in chemical physics, said the release of electromagnetic radiation in the form of X-rays, ultraviolet rays, and gamma rays, interacts with the Earth's ionosphere.

"The ionosphere is an electrically charged layer of the Earth's atmosphere," he said. "It's most important, because it reflects radio waves, and that's what allows us to propagate radio waves around the Earth," said Doschek, who holds a doctorate in physics. Radiation affects the ionized particles in the ionosphere, causing them to absorb radio waves, causing communication fade-outs, he explained.

"That's the issue of the satellites themselves," Howard said. "But with ionospheric disturbances, you are also getting an increase in electron density in certain areas, and this can cause failures in GPS." He added that there were about 30 minutes of complete GPS outage in December 2006.

In addition to GPS, Howard noted that the effects of solar storms on communications satellites extend to such things as cell phones, pagers, television, the Internet and streaming video. "Society is becoming increasingly dependent on space-based assets," he commented.

Howard added that strong ionospheric disturbances can also cause ground controllers to lose track of low orbit satellites. "Electromagnetic energy comes in and heats the atmosphere," he said. "When you heat the atmosphere, you get increased density at spacecraft altitude, and that causes an increase in drag, and you can lose track of them."

Solar radiation also can pose a threat to humans. "The radiation can damage astronauts, or if you're flying [in an aircraft] over the polar regions, you have to worry about getting too much radiation from X-rays and ultraviolet radiation," he said.

"The transpolar routes are becoming extremely popular for the airlines," Howard added, "so the crews have to wear radiation dosimeters to measure how much exposure they are getting."

High-energy particles also pose a hazard to anyone working high in the atmosphere or in space, Howard said. "Particles can also be released, and they're coming at fantastic speeds, 500 times that of a bullet, and their combined mass is a million times that of a Nimitz-class carrier," he explained.

"With a coronal mass ejection, you can get a billion tons of matter moving 1 million miles an hour toward the Earth," Doschek added. He noted that coronal mass ejections were first identified by researchers at NRL in 1971.

The solar wind interacts with the Earth's magnetic field, Doschek said. "When solar particles get into the magnetosphere, they're trapped there, and that's when they can do a lot of damage," he noted.

In a large solar storm, the particles also can damage equipment. "You can get energetic particles at hundreds of electron volts of energy, and these can damage electronics in our space assets," Howard said.

"They can cause electrical discharges inside the spacecraft and destroy the circuitry," Doschek added, "and they can cause disruptions in the software and communication links in the satellite until it has to be rebooted."

The solar wind can directly affect people on Earth, as well.

Howard described the impact of the solar wind on the Earth's magnetosphere as a force that puts pressure on the magnetic field. With large solar storms, the pressure intensifies and distorts the shape of the field.

"The magnetosphere, when it gets compressed, induces a current in the Earth's crust," he explained, "and power transmission lines can get a huge amount of back current into transformers that actually burns them up. I've seen pictures of copper straps that are two inches thick that are melted. It's just amazing."

A mass ejection in 1989 shut down the Quebec power grid, which is connected to power grids along the entire East Coast of the United States, Howard said. Quick action on the part of an engineer disconnected the Quebec grid from the other grids. "It was within seconds before it would have taken out the power for the entire northeast part of the U.S.," Howard said.

In addition to the loss of transformers, which cost about $10 million to replace, the disruption of power was estimated to be a loss of $2 billion of gross national product, he said.

These induced currents in the Earth's crust also can affect oil and gas exploration. Howard explained that oil prospecting often is done by trailing a magnetometer behind a ship to look for changes in the magnetic field structure. "A huge oil or gas deposit would be indicated by a change in the field properties," he said, "but if one of these storms comes along, you've completely lost that activity."

While it may not be possible to stop the solar storms, it would be useful to know when they are coming to better prepare for them. To do that, researchers need to have a better understanding of their nature, and NRL has been conducting solar research since 1946, Doschek said.

"We try to understand what is causing the atmosphere to do what it's doing," he said, "which means that we want to understand the mechanisms by which the sun's magnetic field, and the energy within that field, can be converted to particles."

Doschek explained that most solar research needs to be accomplished above the atmosphere, using remote sensing instruments carried on spacecraft.

"We use spectrometers," he said, "to determine the temperature and density, and even the motions within the sun's atmosphere. We have another instrument, called a coronagraph, which blocks out the main radiation from the sun and looks at the outer part of the atmosphere of the corona. With this instrument, we can see hot gases and coronal mass ejections as they come toward the Earth."

Reserachers have made some progress in developing notice of solar activity. "We have instruments that are actually on two NASA spacecraft that are in orbit around the sun, "Howard said. "It's called the STEREO mission. They're looking at the sun and the region between the sun and Earth from two different viewpoints."

Howard explained that these sensors, located more than 100 million miles from Earth, are able to observe solar activity as it happens and more precisely pinpoint the time the charged particles will reach the Earth. But not all solar events send high-pressure streams of dangerous particles towards the Earth.

"Part of our research is to determine the parameters that we need to be studying in order to say whether this will have a powerful impact on Earth or not," he noted.

Another approach to forecasting solar events is with the use of computer modeling. Doschek described three-dimensional numerical simulation models that attempt to portray how changes in the sun's magnetic field get converted into thermal energy based on complex circulations on the sun's surface, and observed phenomena like sunspots.

"The magnetic field is part of a dynamo," he explained, "and when sunspots appear -- these are regions of strong magnetic field -- they get fed into the model and the field moves around the sun."

From these models, the researchers have developed a predictive algorithm for the solar wind. "That works on the basis of how the magnetic field originates on the sun," Doschek said.

Howard acknowledged that the modeling effort is in the infant stages, but noted that the observations and measurements being made by space-based sensors are providing a foundation for improving the models.

"Hopefully, in 10 to 15, maybe 20 years, we'll be much better than we are today," he said.

(Bob Freeman works in the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy.)

Related Sites: Armed with Science Episode #49, Armed with Science on Twitter, Armed with Science Archives and U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

CNN Breaking News

David Goldman has been reunited with his son, Sean, according to the U.S. consulate general in Rio de Janeiro.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Study Takes Closer Look at Non-Combat Burn Hazards

Posted by: Health.mil Staff

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, researchers from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) in San Antonio analyzed non-combat burn epidemiology among active duty service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, using similar civilian burn data as context.

During the Vietnam War, more than half of the evacuated burn casualties were burned outside of combat-related activities. Initial reports from current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed that more than one-third of burn injuries are classified as non-combat.

Between March 2003 and June 2008, the study examined data from burn causalities evacuated to the USAISR, which is the sole U.S. military burn center.

The data was then used to characterize deployed military burn risks in comparison to the risks observed in the U.S. civilian population, to determine which environment was more or less dangerous for unintentional burns. Civilian burn data was extracted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and statistics published by the American Burn Association.

Of 688 burn causalities admitted to the USAIR during the study, 180 of the cases were considered non-combat. Waste burning, handling ammunition, and fueling generators were some of the major causes of burning incidents for those deployed.

Researchers concluded that the prevalence of non-combat burn injuries in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom was about 20 patients per 100,000 per year, compared to almost seven patients per 100,000 per year for civilians. Therefore, service members are almost three times more likely to suffer unintentional burning than a similar civilian cohort. The increased risk was found to be proportionately mitigated by the specific requirements of their environment.

The most commonly burned body area for service members were the hands, totaling 67 percent of the casualties, significantly more than the civilian burn population. Wearing gloves to protect from burns to the hands and developing other fire safety procedures will potentially reduce the number of non-combat burning incidents in military operations.

Click here to access the full research study on PubMed.

Full Article Citation:

Kauvar DS, Wade CE, Baer DG. Burn hazards of the deployed environment in wartime: epidemiology of noncombat burns from ongoing United States military operations.J Am Coll Surg. 2009 Oct;209(4):453-60. Epub 2009 Aug 8. (US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, TX)

Today´s Top News 23 Dec 2009


Two battalions of Navy Seabees will be deploying to Afghanistan in the coming months.

Poinsettas for Patriots


The Air National Guard delivered some holiday cheer to wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Monday.

MCPON Holiday Safety Message


DNU Flash - Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West talks about being prepared and safe during holiday travels.

Holiday Shout Outs


DNU Flash - Service members get Holiday shoutouts from home.

Norfolk Toys For Tots


DNU Flash - Marines at Naval Station Norfolk take donations for Toys for Tots.

Rota School Liaison Officer


DNU Flash - Naval Station Rota's new school liaison officer helps students and parents with school-related concerns.

Troops Return


For some military families Christmas will be extra special because they'll be spending it with their loved ones who've just returned from war.

Sasebo Frocking Ceremony


DNU Flash - Fleet Activities Sasebo frocks Sailors.

Headlines for December 23, 2009

DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead releases his latest podcast; USS Wasp (LHD 1) returns from deployment.

"The Messenger"


Actor Woody Harrelson is up for a Golden Globe award for his portrayal of a casualty notification officer in the movie "The Messenger".

Women Senators Ask Army to Rescind Pregnancy Policy

Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
For Immediate Release: December 22, 2009
Contact: Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Washington, DC – Today, United States Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on Army Secretary John McHugh to rescind a policy that criminalizes pregnancy for many service members currently in Iraq.

The text of the Senators’ letter follows:

December 22, 2009

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101

Dear Secretary McHugh:

It has come to our attention that Major General Anthony Cucolo III—the Commander of Multi-National Division-North, Iraq—has implemented a stricter policy that criminalizes pregnancy for members of the United States Armed Forces under his command and for others “serving with, employed by, or accompanying” the military. While we fully understand and appreciate the demands facing both commanders and service members in Iraq, we believe this policy is deeply misguided and must be immediately rescinded.

Under the policy, it is possible to face punishment, including imprisonment, for “becoming pregnant, or impregnating a Soldier, while assigned to the Task Force Marne” Area of Operations. The policy even extends to married couples jointly serving in the warzone.

Although Major General Cucolo stated today that a pregnant soldier would not necessarily be punished by court-martialunder this policy, we believe the threat of criminal sanctions in the case of pregnancy goes far beyond what is needed to maintain good order and discipline. This policy could encourage female soldiers to delay seeking critical medical care with potentially serious consequences for mother and child.

This policy also undermines efforts to enhance benefits and services so that dual military couples can continue to serve. We can think of no greater deterrent to women contemplating a military career than the image of a pregnant woman being severely punished simply for conceiving a child. This defies comprehension.

As such, we urge you to immediately rescind this policy. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this most important request, and for your continued commitment to our men and women in uniform.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

###

United Through Reading


The holiday season is a time for families to be together.

Gates on Public Service


Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged graduates of Indiana University to step forward and accept the duty and burden of public service.

USS Wasp Returns


The timing could not be better for the 1100 sailors and 365 Marines onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.

Toys for Tots

Marines in St. Louis have a special mission this holiday season.

Simpson Thacher and Mayer Brown hot for Brazil

Karen Sloan
December 22, 2009

Brazil is a hot prospect for law firms. In the past week, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Mayer Brown have joined a growing list of firms expanding in the South American country in recent years.

More than a half dozen firms have opened offices in Brazil or aligned with local firms in the past five years. Sao Paulo is a particularly attractive location because it's an investment hub that has attracted international banks and foreign investors.

Simpson Thacher recently opened an office in Sao Paulo — its first Latin American location. The firm has been handling Latin American matters for nearly three decades, but having an office in the region will make it easier to serve those clients, said Executive Committee Chairman Pete Ruegger in written statement. The firm recently represented media conglomerate Vivendi in its takeover of Brazilian telecom company GVT, and represented UBS in the sale of its Brazilian platform, among other deals.

The new office is headed by corporate partners Todd Crider and Jaime Mercado. The five attorneys staffing the office transferred from Simpson Thacher's New York headquarters, and are being supported by attorneys based in the firm's New York and Palo Alto, Calif. locations.

Mayer Brown, which established a Sao Paulo office two years ago, has formed an alliance with Brazilian firm Tauil & Chequer, which has 60 attorneys in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The Brazilian firm will now conduct business as Tauil & Chequer in association with Mayer Brown.

Mayer Brown's existing Sao Paulo office will continue to handle matters that fall under New York law, English law, and U.S. securities law. Tauil & Chequer will handle matters that fall under Brazilian law. The firm is known for its representation of energy and infrastructure companies.

Mayer Brown Chairman Bert Krueger noted that the firm has been serving Brazilian and Latin American clients for nearly two decades. The country's emergence as a "major player on the global economic stage" has prompted the firm's growing investment in the region, he said. Brazil also is a popular destination for major sporting events. Rio De Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics and Brazil will host the World Cup in 2014.

Other firms have taken a similar approach. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher opened a Sao Paulo office in June, and Shearman & Sterling; Proskauer Rose; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Squire, Sanders & Dempsey; and Thompson & Knight are among the firms that have opened Brazilian offices in recent years.

Karen Sloan can be contacted at ksloan@alm.com.

Subscribe to The National Law Journal

Gates at Indiana University


Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on graduates of Indiana University to consider service to their country when they decide what to do with their careers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today´s Top News 22 Dec 2009


More troops are called up for the Afghanistan fight. Also, the commander of Task Force Marne clarifies a directive involving prohibited behavior in Iraq.

CAAFlog Link to this subject A and B

War Zone Pregnancy


The commander of Task Force Marne clarifies a directive involving prohibited behavior in Iraq.

USS Makin Island Completes Operations


DNU Flash - USS Makin Island (LHD 8) completes amphibious assault and aviation operations.

Sailors Provide For Children

DNU Flash - USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Sailors provide for children.

Holiday Greetings


DNU Flash - Civilians send holiday greetings to service members.

CNO Bicycles for Injured Veterans

DNU Flash - Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead bicycles in support of injured veterans.

2010 Defense Budget


Pentagon officials welcomed the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Sailors Prepare Care Packages


DNU Flash - Mayport Sailors prepare holiday care packages.

Headlines for December 22, 2009


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: USS Independence (LCS 2) delivered to Navy; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West releases new podcast.

Microprocessor Knee


Advances made in the past five years alone are revolutionizing the quality of life and independence for amputees.

Casey Visits Iraq


Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, visits troops in Iraq.

Osprey at Miramar


The first MV-22 Osprey arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar over the weekend beginning the replacement of the CH-46 Sea Knight.

Dormitory Improvements


There are a number of improvements to base dorms around the world.

Coast Guard Accident


An eight year old boy is dead after the boat he was on was struck by a Coast Guard vessel Sunday night in San Diego Harbor.

Mullen in Iraq


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, has completed his trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Snowstorm Response


National Guardsmen in seven states were called to duty over the weekend after a record snowfall blanketed the Northeast.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today´s Top News 18 Dec 2009


Defense Secretary Robert Gates gives the commencement address at the University of Georgia, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen visits Iraq, and Santa meets with NORAD.

Jacksonville Suicide Prevention


DNU Flash - Naval Air Station Jacksonville holds suicide prevention awareness training.

Navy Band Northwest Holiday Concert


DNU Flash - Navy Band Northwest holds its annual holiday concert in Oak Harbor, Wash.

Holiday Shout Outs


DNU Flash - Service members receive holiday messages from northern Virginia.

Commodore Levy Chapel Rededication


DNU Flash - Naval Station Norfolk rededicates the Commodore Levy Chapel.

Headlines for December 18, 2009

DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: The Navy releases results from the 2009 Behavioral Health Poll; Sailors are encouraged to support their shipmates to prevent suicides; Navy Band is scheduled to perform holiday concert.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Doctors Perform Groundbreaking Surgery at Walter Reed

By Kristin Ellis
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2009 - Doctors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and the University of Miami collaborated to perform the first pancreas islet cell transplant Thanksgiving Day on an airman whose pancreas was injured so severely in Afghanistan that it had to be removed.

While serving with an Army unit in Afghanistan, 21-year-old Air Force Senior Airman Tre Porfirio was shot three times in the back by an insurgent Nov. 21. Seventy-two hours and 8,000 miles later, Porfirio was at Walter Reed with injuries so extensive it would require 11 surgeries to reconstruct his abdomen.

Porfirio was taken to the operating room where Army Col. (Dr.) Craig D. Shriver, chief of general surgery, found the pancreas damaged to the point it was leaking dangerous enzymes that were causing blood vessels and tissue to break down.

"The only possible course of action at the time was to remove the remainder of his pancreas, which would predictably lead to a severe form of life-threatening and lifestyle-limiting diabetes," Shriver explained to reporters at a Dec. 15 news conference.

Risks for this type of diabetes include blindness, kidney failure, amputations and strokes, as well as daily insulin injections for the rest of his life.

Over the last eight years of war, doctors at Walter Reed have seen only 28 pancreatic injuries, and only one of this devastating nature, officials said. The surgical team called the University of Miami and put together a plan to ship the damaged pancreas to Florida to harvest the cells that produce insulin -- called islet cells -- and immediately ship them back to Walter Reed to be transplanted into Porfirio's liver.

All of this had to be done overnight, the day before Thanksgiving.

"I knew who the main players were in this case," said Dr. Rahul Jindal, transplant surgeon. "I picked up the phone and called [Dr. Camillo Ricordi, chief of cellular transplantation, University of Miami] and, without hesitation, he said, 'For a wounded warrior, I'll bring my whole team.'"

"Being able to serve a wounded warrior who risked his life to defend us all, I can think of no better way to spend Thanksgiving," Ricordi said.

In islet cell transplantation, the insulin-producing islets are isolated from the donor pancreas and then re-infused in a patient's liver, where they begin to produce insulin, doctors explained.

"You turn the liver into a double organ as it takes on the function of the pancreas," Ricordi said. "Normally, when similar procedures are done for Type 1 diabetes, the cells come from another person, so you need immunosuppressant drugs to keep them alive. Since we were able to use his own cells, he won't need to be on anti-rejection drugs."

The University of Miami team spent six hours isolating the islet cells before they were suspended in a specialized cold solution and flown back to Walter Reed. Ricordi helped to coordinate the transplant with the surgeons through an Internet connection, and on Thanksgiving Day, Porfirio's own cells were successfully injected into a vein to his liver.

Porfirio's blood tests show his harvested islet cells are functioning well, and he is gaining back his strength every day, doctors said.

"For anyone within a six-hour flight range of Miami, there is no reason any pancreas should ever be thrown away," Ricordi said.

(Kristin Ellis is a staff writer for Stripe, a civilian enterprise online publication serving Walter Reed Army Medical Center.)

Related Sites: Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Durbin Defends Plans for Illinois Prison Purchase

CQ TODAY MIDDAY UPDATE
Dec. 17, 2009 – 1:36 p.m.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin hit back hard Thursday against GOP criticism of President Obama’s decision to buy a prison in Durbin’s home state of Illinois to house Guantánamo Bay detainees.

The partisan sniping is a sign of the continuing political volatility of the issue. If the administration wants to move any detainees into the United States for indefinite imprisonment before the Sept. 30 end of fiscal 2010, Congress will have to authorize it.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky took to the Senate floor on Wednesday in opposition to the move. McConnell said moving the detainees to a facility in Thomson, Ill., would “increase the threat to security at home.”

McConnell also criticized the efforts of both the administration and Durbin to cast the move as economically beneficial to Thomson and the surrounding area.

In a letter to McConnell on Thursday, Durbin said that state and local officials in Illinois are welcoming the prospect of detainees being incarcerated there.

“We’re not scared by vague predictions of escape attempts or terrorist attacks,” Durbin wrote.

Durbin said he hoped to talk to McConnell about the subject “before you take to the floor again with inaccurate and incomplete information.”

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House GOP Leader Says He’ll Back Clean War Funding Bill

CQ TODAY MIDDAY UPDATE
Dec. 17, 2009 – 1:30 p.m.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner said Thursday he will help President Obama win House approval next year for an expected multibillion-dollar spending request to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

But the Ohio Republican warned Obama not to attach any money for transferring terrorist suspects from the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba to a site in rural Illinois.

The administration, which announced this week that it wants to send the Gitmo prisoners to a state prison the federal government would take over in tiny Thomson, Ill., hasn’t said when those prisoners would be moved, how much it will cost to upgrade the prison to the highest security standards, or whether it would even seek a special appropriation for such a project.

Boehner has some leverage. Democrats are divided on the surge, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., said Wednesday that she will not help the president round up Democratic votes for a war funding bill. That means Obama will need solid Republican support.

“I will work to see our troops get everything they need to succeed,” Boehner told reporters.

The GOP leader initially withheld support for Obama’s plan because the president said the additional troops sent to Afghanistan would start to come home within 18 months. Boehner and other Republicans said that such a timetable would send a dangerous signal to the Taliban and al Qaeda to simply wait out U.S. forces.

But he said that after hearing congressional testimony from top administration officials and the Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, he feels there is sufficient flexibility in the withdrawal timetable to take into account conditions on the ground in the country.

“I told the president” at a recent White House meeting “that I had listened,” Boehner said. “I think they presented a plausible plan for success in Afghanistan.”

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