Sunday, February 22, 2009

100 Years - Five for Fighting

I'm 15... for a moment
caught in between 10 and 20
and I'm just dreamin'
countin' the ways to where you are

I'm 22... for a moment
and she feels better than ever
and we're on fire
making our way back from mars

15 there's still time for you
time to buy and time to lose
15... there's never a wish
better than this
when you've only got a hundred years
to live

I'm 33... for a moment
still the man,
but you see I'm a they
a kid on the way, babe
a family on my mind

I'm 45... for moment
the sea is high
and I'm heading into crisis
chasing the years of my life

15 there's still time for you
time to buy and time to lose
within a morning star

15... I'm all right with you
15... there's never a wish
better than this
when you've only got a hundred years
to live

as time goes by
suddenly, "oh why?"
another blink of the eye
67 is gone
the sun is getting high
we're moving on

I'm 99... for a moment
in time for just another moment
and I'm just dreamin'
countin' the ways to where you are

15... there's still time for you
22... I feel her too
33... your on your way
everday's a new day


15... there's still time for you
24... it's time to choose
15... there's never a wish
better than this
when you've only got a hundred years
to live

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chairman Cites Need for More 'Dwell Time' Between Deployments

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Feb. 20, 2009 - The nation's top military officer expressed concern here yesterday about servicemembers and their families "toughing it out" with frequent deployments and little time together between those deployments.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talked about the stresses of war and a variety of other topics in a town-hall meeting with servicemembers and civilians.

In answer to a question from the audience, Mullen acknowledged that even when troops theoretically have 12 months of "dwell time" between deployments, that's not really the case when they have to spend part of that time away from their families training for their next deployment.

"The way the families are handling this thing is they're just toughing it out until they get the relief. There's a concern about how long they can tough it out," he said. "We're going to have to continue to focus on that."

Suicide rates are increasing in all of the services -- dramatically in the Army -- Mullen said.

"The correlation [between] the stress of these wars and the suicide rate is something that I accept, and then I want somebody to disprove that," he said in pledging continued efforts to fix the problem. "I'm not going to wait for somebody to disprove that to me."

Turning to care for the casualties of war, the chairman said the nation owes them and their families a great debt.

"For these [servicemembers] who've either paid the ultimate price or been wounded and done what we asked them to do as a country," he said, "we should figure out what their needs are, ... and we should figure out how to take care of them for the rest of their lives."

Mullen drew on the Israeli model of veteran care as an example of the intent the United States should have when it comes to veteran care.

He noted a past conversation with the Israeli army chief of staff, during which he asked how that country provides continuous care for its wounded. The Israeli chief reached into his wallet and produced a list of a dozen names.

Upon assuming command of a unit, he explained, Israeli commanders must sign for an accountability log that lists the families of the unit's fallen servicemembers and the unit's wounded and their families. The commanders take care of and keep in touch with these people, and are inspected on their fulfillment of this obligation as part of their command requirements.

"As the [Israeli] minister of defense says, 'We write the check off the top at the beginning of the budget cycle to make sure they're taken care of,'" Mullen said. "I'm not arguing we should do that, but I am saying we ought to have that effect."

Later, Mullen spoke with reporters about NATO's efforts in Afghanistan, stressing the need for more help from the alliance's members, especially in the nonmilitary part of the equation.

"For the entirety of my tour as the chairman, ... I've worked hard with my partners in NATO to push them to generate more capabilities, not just military capabilities," he said. "We have financial capabilities, we've got development capabilities. I talked about the need for governance. We have ... expertise that we need there to assist in training the Afghan people with the respect to proper governments.

"There are a number of ways NATO members can help and we need them to step forward," he continued. "They have stepped forward to some degree. We need them to step forward more significantly."

Mullen also discussed yesterday's vote by Kyrgyzstan's parliament to close Manas Air Base, an important logistical hub for the war in Afghanistan. While the country's parliament voted 79-1 not to renew the U.S. lease on the base, there has been no official notification from the Kyrgyz government, Mullen said. But if the base is closed, he added, the United States has options.

"There's a six-month process once notification is given, should that happen," Mullen said. "We've done a lot of work to create options and look at other ways of doing this, and I'm comfortable that those options will support us very well if we get to that point."

Related Sites:
Scott Air Force Base
Chairman Checks Out Nuclear Mission at North Dakota Base
Manas Air Base 'Not Irreplaceable,' Official Says

Fisher House Announces 2009 Newman's Own Award Competition

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2009 - The Fisher House Foundation has announced the start of the 2009 Newman's Own Award competition, jointly sponsored by Newman's Own, the Fisher House Foundation and the Military Times Media Group.

The program awards grants to organizations with innovative solutions to improving quality of life for active-duty, reserve or National Guard families. Also acceptable are organizations with programs benefiting veterans' families, Jim Weiskopf, executive vice president of communications for the Fisher House Foundation, said.

Actor Paul Newman, who died in September, began his Newman's Own line of food products in 1982. All royalties and after-tax profits of the sales from the line have been donated to educational and charitable organizations.

In 1997, the World War II Navy veteran decided he wanted to take his line of products to the military. It was suggested that the proceeds from those sales at military facilities go back to the military, and the Fisher House Foundation was chosen to make that happen. Newman's Own salad dressing, pasta sauces and salsas are sold in military commissaries worldwide.

The Newman's Own Awards program awards grants totaling $75,000 to between 12 and 15 volunteer and nonprofit organizations each year, Weiskopf said.

"When Mr. Newman was alive, ... he wanted us to have one grand-prize winner. He wanted one to be designated above the rest," he said. "Because we're now getting $75,000 from [Newman's Own], the group with the highest score gets $15,000."

The remaining $60,000 in award money will be divided among the top-scoring entries by the judges as they see fit, Weiskopf said.

"Because we're not giving out a huge amount of money, ... we're more focused on small nonprofits," he said. "We're looking for where the infusion the money from us will mean the difference of whether or not they can do their program."

Organizations wishing to be considered for a Newman's Own Award can find more information and eligibility requirements on the Fisher House Foundation Web site. All proposals must be received by May 1.

Award recipients will be announced in early September.

In nine years, the program has recognized 114 organizations with grants totaling more than $500,000. This includes last year's top winner, Freedom Calls Foundation, which focuses on keeping families and deployed servicemembers connected.

Related Sites:
Fisher House Foundation

Navy Recognized for Best in Training

WASHINGTON - The Navy received international recognition in early February from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), winning two awards and two citations in ASTD's annual "Excellence in Practice" awards competition.

"These awards recognize proven practices that meet a demonstrated need, have appropriate design values, are aligned with other performance improvement initiatives, and deliver clear and measurable results for their organizations," said Carol Chulew, ASTD awards administrator.

The Navy's awards were received for its Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) program in the category of Career Development and the Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving (CEODD) Preparatory Training for Entry Level Diver Courses program in the category of Performance Improvement.

The COOL program and Navy's Task Force Life Work (TFLW) program also won recognition as "citation" winners in the categories of Workforce and Development, and Managing Change, respectively. Citation winners represent those programs that are innovative in design and are expected to meet an organizational critical need, but have not yet been able to analyze data confirming the return on investment.

"I am very proud of all of your efforts in building a Top 50 organization," said Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of Naval Personnel, when learning of the awards. "Keeping the Navy a competitive option for our Sailors, as well as potential recruits is a strategic imperative. It is rewarding to be recognized for our achievements."

"Nominations were received from around the world, providing a keen competition and representing some of the most innovative and far-reaching training and development practices created," said Wayne Wagner, of the Navy Strategy Office (N1Z), who coordinates award submission efforts such as the ASTD awards.

More than 130 entries from nine countries were received. Seventeen programs received the prestigious "award" designation, with the Navy being part of an even more elite group of three organizations (CISCO and Farmers Insurance) that received two awards and additional citations. It also was the only government agency to receive an award.

A formal awards ceremony will recognize Navy along with its corporate peers June 1, 2009, at the ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Washington.

"This is Navy's first submission for an award with international significance," said Wagner. "We plan to submit for five other 'best of the best' awards in the coming months, showcasing the Navy's position as a Top 50 company."

ASTD is the world's largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. It presents a number of awards each year, including the "Excellence in Practice" awards that recognize results achieved through the use of practices and solutions from the entire scope of workplace learning and performance.

© Copyright 2009 Navy News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

U.S. Seeks Successor to Trident Submarine

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KING'S BAY, Ga., Feb. 20, 2009 - The U.S. Navy has started the process to find a 21st-century successor to the Trident strategic missile submarine, senior Defense Department officials said here yesterday.

"We're just at the opening phases right now, going through the proper systems engineering that will advance that particular design approach," Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter told reporters at a news conference.

Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, Tridents are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory. The first Trident ballistic-missile submarine, the USS Ohio, was commissioned in 1981.

"A wide variety of options" are being considered for the Trident's replacement, Winter said. However, the Navy secretary expressed his belief that the Trident system would be replaced by another undersea-going platform.

"I do fully expect that it is going to be a submarine," Winter said of the Trident's successor.

Prior to the news conference the Navy's top leaders and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were among senior officials who attended a ceremony that paid tribute to the crew of the USS Wyoming Trident strategic missile submarine.

The USS Wyoming finished its 38th patrol Feb. 11, marking the 1000th completed patrol of a Trident submarine since the Ohio embarked on its initial patrol in October 1982. The Wyoming was commissioned in July 1996 and began its first patrol in August 1997.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Winter's belief that the Trident's replacement "will be a submarine."

Chief of Naval Operations Navy Adm. Gary Roughead told reporters of the resilience and independence exhibited by submariners' families.

"I think the families of our submariners are really like submariners, a special breed," Roughead said. "And, my hat's off to them, and they have my utmost respect and support."

The U.S. military is about to embark on its Quadrennial Defense Review and a Nuclear Posture Review, Cartwright said, to determine what types of defense capabilities will be required to maintain U.S. national security in the coming years. The QDR is performed every four years.

The threats America faces during the 21st century are much more diverse and involve "a much broader spectrum of conflict against a much broader number of enemies, to include those that are not nation-states," Cartwright told reporters.

Gauging and evaluating future threats and determining what kinds of military capabilities and systems will be needed to deter them will be debated during the QDR and the nuclear posture review, Cartwright said.

U.S. defense planners are now seeking "to tailor our deterrence for the types of actors that were not present during the Cold War but are going to be present in the future," Cartwright said.

And, "it will be the sailors that will make the difference in deterrence, not necessarily just the platforms," Cartwright said of the Navy's future nuclear-deterrent mission.

The 14 nuclear-missile carrying Trident submarines based here and at other Navy ports provide more than half of America's strategic deterrent capability, King's Bay officials said.

"The application of deterrence can be actually more complicated in the 21st century, but some fundamentals don't change," Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said. "And, the underlying strength of our deterrence force remains the nuclear deterrent force that we have today."

The Trident submarine strategic missile force "is absolutely essential" to America's nuclear-deterrent capability, Chilton said.

"And, it's not just to deter nuclear conflict," he said of the Tridents' mission. "These forces have served to deter conflict in general, writ large, since they've been fielded."

The U.S. government agreed to reduce the number of its strategic-missile submarines as part of the 1992 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Consequently, four of the Navy's 18 Trident submarines were modified to exchange their nuclear missiles for Tomahawk-guided cruise missiles. These vessels carry the designator SSGN. In 2006, the USS Ohio was converted into a guided-missile submarine.

At the news conference, Roughead said the Navy is "really pleased" with the converted Trident submarines, which also carry a contingent of special operations troops, as well as the Tomahawks.

"That [type of] submarine has performed extremely well," Roughead said of the cruise-missile carrying Tridents.

The facility here was established in 1980, replacing a closed U.S. ballistic submarine facility that had been based in Rota, Spain. In 1989, USS Tennessee was the first Trident submarine to arrive at the facility. Another Trident training facility is based in Bangor, Wash.

Senior Leaders Salute Milestone Trident Submarine Patrol

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KING'S BAY, Ga., Feb. 19, 2009 - The Navy's top leaders and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were among senior officials who paid tribute to the crew of the USS Wyoming Trident strategic missile submarine during a ceremony here today.

The USS Wyoming finished its 38th patrol on Feb. 11, marking the 1000th completed patrol of a Trident submarine since the first, the USS Ohio, embarked on its initial patrol in October 1982.

The Wyoming was commissioned in July 1996 and began its first patrol in August 1997.

Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter said he was honored to participate in the commemoration of the 1000th Trident patrol, noting the occasion "is a great day for our Navy and our nation." U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston from Georgia also attended the ceremony.

Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, Tridents are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory.

The 14 nuclear-missile carrying Trident submarines based at King's Bay and other Navy ports provide more than half of America's strategic deterrent capability, King's Bay officials said.

Although the world has experienced many conflicts since the end of World War II in 1945, Winter said, America's strategic deterrent "has ensured that none of them became major wars."

The Navy's Trident force "forms a credible deterrent" to prevent major conflict and promote peace, Winter said, "because it provides high measures of reliability, availability and survivability."

Trident submariners "support a noble mission" and "should be proud" of their efforts, Winter said.

The Trident submarines and the sailors that crew them provide "the most capable and most credible deterrent that this nation has to offer," said Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Cartwright also praised the home-front efforts of the spouses of Trident submariners, as well as the spouses of all servicemembers.

"Without them, we could not do our job," Cartwright said of military spouses' contributions. "They deserve our eternal gratefulness as a nation."

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead arrived at King's Bay after visiting with other Trident submariners and families based at the Navy installation in Bangor, Wash.

The Trident force can trace its legacy to the Polaris nuclear missile submarine program developed in the late 1950s to counter the Soviet nuclear threat, Roughead said.

"What we needed was a credible deterrent, a stealthy deterrent; a deterrent that could survive any attack, regardless of what was thrown at us and one that would not be defeated," Cartwright said of the U.S. decision to introduce the Polaris submarines.

The world changed greatly in the intervening years, Cartwright said. Yet, "the one thing that hasn't changed, and the one thing we continue to need," he said, "is that strong, stealthy, formidable, confident deterrent" that Trident submarine patrols provide.

Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, hailed the achievement of the 1000th Trident patrol as a "day in the spotlight" for the Navy's Trident submariners.

Some people, Chilton said, thought the Trident mission would end with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, the world continues to be a dangerous place, Chilton said, noting that the missions of the Tridents and other submarines "are as equally important today, as they ever were during the height of the Cold War."

Meanwhile, "the true strength of the ballistic-missile submarine lies in the extremely talented and motivated sailors who have voluntarily chosen to serve in the submarine community," said Navy Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, commander of the U.S. Atlantic submarine fleet.

Navy Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giardina, commander of Submarine Group Trident, observed that the completion of the 1,000th Trident patrol also marks the completion of the 3,839th strategic deterrent submarine patrol stretching back to the era of the Polaris-missile submarine.

Giardina asked audience members "to keep in mind all submariners who are at sea and deployed around the world on strategic patrol."

A Trident's crew consists of about 160 officers and enlisted sailors. The original ballistic missile versions, such as the Wyoming, are nicknamed "Boomers," and they feature the designator SSBN. The Boomers are capable of carrying as many as 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear missiles. The vessel also carries Mark-48 torpedoes.

Trident submarines have two crews, called Blue and Gold, which rotate patrols. One crew is at sea for 60 to 90 days, while the other trains ashore. In this way, the vessels can be employed at sea 70 percent of the time, when not undergoing scheduled maintenance in port.

The Blue crew was aboard the Wyoming when it notched the 1,000th Trident patrol.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew F. Tammen, 22, and Navy Seaman Apprentice Sir Joseph Moses, 21, were among the Wyoming's Blue crew members who attended the ceremony.

Tammen, a four-year Navy veteran who hails from Braidwood, Ill., said he was pleased that his vessel goes into the record books as having completed the 1000th Trident patrol.

"We've had pretty high standards," Tammen said of duty aboard the Wyoming. "So, it's pretty good to be recognized for working really hard."

"I'm really proud of our guys," said Moses, who is from Florence, S.C., and has been in the Navy about a year. Moses volunteered for submarine duty "to do something different," he said.

The U.S. government agreed to reduce the number of its strategic-missile submarines as part of the 1992 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Consequently, four of the Navy's 18 Trident submarines were modified to exchange their nuclear missiles for Tomahawk guided cruise missiles. These vessels carry the designator SSGN. The first Trident ballistic-missile submarine, the USS Ohio, was commissioned in 1981. In 2006, the Ohio was converted into a guided-missile submarine.

Naval Submarine Base King's Bay was established in 1980, replacing a closed U.S. ballistic submarine facility that had been based in Rota, Spain. In 1989, USS Tennessee was the first Trident submarine to arrive at the facility. Another Trident training facility is based in Bangor, Wash.

King's Bay Training Facility Prepares Trident Submariners

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KING'S BAY, Ga., Feb. 19, 2009 - The officers and enlisted members who serve aboard the U.S. Navy's Trident strategic missile and guided-missile submarines are elite sailors requiring specialized training and skills.

Fresh-faced sailors just out of basic submarine school at Groton, Conn., as well as "old salts" who've notched several Trident patrols are taught and re-taught those skills at the Trident training facility here, said Navy Chief Petty Officer Mark Rector, a spokesman for the facility.

Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines, Rector said. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, Tridents are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory.

The $1.2 billion training facility here was opened in 1987. At more than a half-million square feet, Rector said, it is the second-largest building in the Defense Department, after the Pentagon.

"We have everything here, from a 'virtual' nuclear-reactor control room ... all the way up to simulated missile tubes, where we can simulate the launching of missiles," Rector said.

The King's Bay facility also teaches sailors how to drive, or pilot, Trident submarines, Rector said, as well as how to extinguish shipboard fires and control flooding. The facility's equipment, he said, is "identical to what they would use aboard their submarine."

The duration of courses offered at King's Bay ranges from a few hours to up to two years for the assistant navigator's course, Rector said.

Trident submarines have two crews, called Blue and Gold, which rotate patrols. One crew is at sea for 60 to 90 days, while the other trains ashore. In this way, the vessels can be employed at sea 70 percent of the time, when not undergoing scheduled maintenance in port, Rector explained.

Trident sailors returning from sea duty take refresher training that's used to re-certify their skills before they embark on their next patrol, Rector said.

At the end of their re-certification training, the sailors "are 100-percent ready to take that submarine at sea, at 100-percent operational capability," Rector said. Attention to detail "is everything" in the Navy's submarine fleet, he added.

"If you make a mistake while out to sea, you risk killing a shipmate or losing your submarine," Rector explained. "None of those [possibilities] are acceptable; we have to make sure that we do not make mistakes."

A Trident's crew consists of about 160 officers and enlisted sailors. The original ballistic missile versions are nicknamed "Boomers," and they feature the designator SSBN. The Boomers are capable of carrying as many as 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear missiles. The vessel also carries Mark-48 torpedoes.

Inside the training facility's bridge operations room, Navy Lt. j.g. Walter McDuffie, the assistant operations officer assigned to the Trident ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland's "Blue" crew, used a computerized training program to "direct" his surfaced submarine. The bridge is the outside observation post located atop a submarine's uppermost structure, called the sail.

Some training, Rector noted, can be performed only at sea.

Meanwhile, with his virtual glasses in place, McDuffie "watched" his submarine cruising along the water's surface and communicated his observations to shipmates in the control room below.

The computerized training program, McDuffie said, provides "a great experience, without the actual consequences that could happen out in the real world."

The U.S. government agreed to reduce the number of its strategic-missile submarines as part of the 1992 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Consequently, four of the Navy's 18 Trident submarines were modified to exchange their nuclear missiles for Tomahawk guided cruise missiles. These vessels carry the designator SSGN. The first Trident ballistic-missile submarine, the USS Ohio, was commissioned in 1981. In 2006, the Ohio was converted into a guided-missile submarine.

Naval Submarine Base King's Bay was established in 1980, replacing a closed U.S. ballistic submarine facility that had been based in Rota, Spain. In 1989, USS Tennessee was the first Trident submarine to arrive at the facility. Another, smaller, Trident training facility that serves submariners based on the West Coast is located at Bangor, Wash.

The U.S. Navy has not lost a submarine since the Atlantic Ocean sinking of the USS Scorpion in 1968, Rector said.

"That is due to the training programs that we now have in place," Rector said.

Related Sites:
Naval Submarine Base King's Bay

Soldiers Promote Legal Awareness in Afghanistan

By Army Pfc. Charles Wolfe
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Feb. 19, 2009 - Legal personnel from the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team are working to improve governance and promote legal awareness throughout Afghanistan.

The soldiers spend a significant portion of their time helping Afghan officials gain support of a court system and a universal set of laws among a people who often turn to a system of tribal law.

"Part of our responsibility as Task Force Duke's legal team is to promote the rule of law throughout [Nangarhar, Nuristan, Konar and Laghman provinces]," said Army Capt. Michael Vincent, the task force's deputy judge advocate.

Afghan rule of law dictates crimes and punishments, but also requires action within a system some residents may question. Instead, many Afghans turn to "pashtunwali," a system of tribal law.

"The Afghan people, particularly at the tribal level, are holding onto the system of settling disputes of all kinds through the tribal elder system," Vincent said. "They view it as quicker and more enforceable than what they perceive the formal system can do."

However, because of the many differences among tribes and regions of Afghanistan, the lack of a universal legal system can lead to deliberation over appropriate punishments.

"It's kind of a law that's been developed over years in that tribe, so there's vast differences from tribe to tribe and region to region on the punishments that are handed out," Army Master Sgt. Timothy Conner, senior paralegal for the task force, said. "Obviously, that doesn't work in the [overall] community."

Efforts are being made to communicate with natives across the country as the brigade tries to educate Afghans about putting their legal system to use. Soldiers employ a number of outlets to garner publicity for their cause. "News advertisements, newspaper articles, or even just word of mouth, they all help us spread legal awareness," Conner said.

The publications, meetings and programs are part of an effort to bridge the government to its constituents, allowing the citizens of Afghanistan to solve their disputes in a peaceful fashion.

"The ultimate goal is to engender confidence in all Afghans in their own government's ability to protect them and to enforce the laws that create a civil society." Vincent said.

(Army Pfc. Charles Wolfe serves with the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

Related Sites:
U.S. Forces Afghanistan

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Prosecutors Assigned To Handle Case Against Stevens

Feb. 17, 2009 – 10:05 a.m.
By Bart Jansen, CQ Staff

The Justice Department swapped prosecutors in the case against former Sen. Ted Stevens, after a judge cited several lawyers Feb. 13 for contempt.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cited William M. Welch II, chief of the public integrity section, and Brenda Morris, his deputy who argued the case against Stevens (1968-2009), for failing to turn over documents to the defense, as Sullivan had ordered Jan. 21. The lawyers turned over the documents later that day.

Sullivan said he would postpone punishment for the others until the case is finished. But Sullivan decided not to hold another lawyer, Kevin Driscoll, in contempt because he had only joined the prosecution team recently.

In notifying the judge Monday that the documents had been provided, Welch and Morris said they would no longer handle litigation about alleged misconduct in the case. Instead, those issues will be litigated by Paul M. O’Brien, chief of the narcotics and drug section, and William Stuckwisch, senior trial attorney in the fraud section.

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, was convicted Oct. 27 of seven felony charges for making false statements on his financial disclosure forms and for failing to report gifts to him and relatives.

But Stevens’ lawyers have alleged prosecutorial misconduct and argued that conviction should be overturned.

Sentencing has been postponed until those disputes are resolved.

Sullivan scheduled a hearing April 15 about how much more documentation the defense deserves about an FBI agent who reported that a colleague had an inappropriate relationship with a key witness in the case.

Interested in more from CQ Today? Request a Free Trial

BR Air Force News I

The ammunition depo of CTA (Technological Center of Aeronautics) at São José dos Campos, was basted way today by a violent explosion. The explosion occurred circa 1430hs, local time. One casualty was reported. The Brazilian Air-Force Command already started an investigation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

French and British Submarines Collide

Published: February 16, 2009

LONDON — In a freak accident, two submarines carrying nuclear missiles, one French and the other British, collided while submerged on operational patrols in the Atlantic early this month, the British and French defense ministries said Monday

Both vessels returned damaged but otherwise safe to their home ports, with the 250 crew members aboard uninjured and with “no compromise to nuclear safety,” the defense ministries said in terse statements that appeared to have been agreed upon by the nations. The reference appeared to cover the nuclear reactors that power the submarines and the 16 ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads that the British and French vessels each routinely carry on patrols. NYT

Sunday, February 15, 2009

U.S. Participation in Consultations for the World Conference Against Racism

Robert Wood -Acting Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman - Public Affairs - Washington, DC
February 14, 2009

The State Department will send a delegation to the February 16-19 consultations for the World Conference Against Racism as a means of evaluating the current direction of Conference preparations and whether U.S. participation in the Conference itself is warranted.

This will be the first opportunity the Administration has had to engage in the negotiations for the Durban Review, and – in line with our commitment to diplomacy – the U.S. has decided to send a delegation to engage in the negotiations on the text of the conference document.

The intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the Review Conference is heading. We hope to work with other countries that want the Conference to responsibly and productively address racism around the world.

Our participation in these informal negotiations does not indicate – and should not be misconstrued to indicate – that the United States will participate in April in the World Conference Against Racism itself. Nor does it indicate that we will necessarily participate in future preparations for the Conference. These decisions will be taken at a later date, depending on the results that we see from the negotiating process.
PRN: 2009/131

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shoots of recovery - Israeli operation leaves Hamas weak but alive

The clash between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia: HAMAS) and Israel that occurred in the Gaza Strip between 27 December and 18 January demonstrated that neither side is averse to learning lessons from previous conflicts. The combination of insurgent rocket attacks into Israeli territory, Israeli air strikes and subsequent ground incursions and the lack of a decisive outcome were all reminiscent of Israel's 33-day conflict with Hizbullah in Lebanon in July and August 2006.

[first posted to - 12 February 2009]

Tehran's satellite launch

On 3 February 2008, Iran successfully launched an indigenously built scientific research satellite (Omid-1, or "hope" in Persian) into outer space. Although the first Iranian satellite, the Sina-1, entered orbit in October 2005, it relied on a Russian rocket launched from Pletsetsk Cosmodrome

[first posted to - 10 February 2009]

Conyers Summons Former White House Advisor Karl Rove, Again

Feb. 13, 2009 – 1:50 p.m.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. , D-Mich., issued another subpoena Friday for Bush White House adviser Karl Rove, setting up a new confrontation with the former aide.

Conyers subpoenaed Rove to appear for a Feb. 23 deposition as part of the committee’s ongoing probe into allegations of Justice Department politicization in the Bush administration.

“Like every citizen subject to compulsory process, I believe it is Mr. Rove’s obligation to appear in response to the subpoena and answer the questions he is asked or assert a valid legal privilege in response to individual questions,” Conyers wrote Rove’s lawyer, Robert D. Luskin.

Conyers is interested in learning Rove’s role, if any, in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the Justice Department’s prosecution of former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman on public corruption charges .

Conyers also subpoenaed Rove in the last Congress. Rove refused to comply after President Bush invoked executive privilege. On Jan. 16, a few days before he left office, Bush instructed Rove not to comply with any new subpoenas on the subject of the attorney firings.

On Jan. 26, Conyers subpoenaed Rove to appear at a Feb. 2 deposition. But he postponed the deposition to Feb. 23 at Rove’s request so Luskin could confer with the White House.

Luskin apparently asked for a further delay, which Conyers is refusing to grant.

Luskin declined comment, but in a Jan. 26 e-mail to the committee, he said that because Bush had only reasserted executive privilege in the U.S. attorneys matter, Rove was free to answer questions about the Siegelman affair.

But Conyers rejected that distinction, writing Luskin, “I do not believe it is acceptable for the committee to allow witnesses to unilaterally determine what they can and cannot testify concerning, again absent assertion of a valid privilege.”

Rove has denied any wrongdoing in the Siegelman matter. Luskin has told the committee that Rove will not assert any personal privilege in an effort not to appear.

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US 'boarding school' expands to East Africa

A US Navy (USN) frigate is in the vanguard of efforts by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to expand its Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative from the Gulf of Guinea across the continent to Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Robert G Bradley is performing visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training with Mozambique maritime forces, the USN 6th Fleet told Jane's on 10 February

[first posted to - 12 February 2009]

Chinese submarine patrols increase

Chinese submarines conducted almost double the number of patrols in 2008 than they did in the previous year, according to information made available to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) by US Naval Intelligence. The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarine fleet completed 12 patrol missions compared to just seven in 2007, two in 2006 and none in 2005

[first posted to - 06 February 2009]

Friday, February 13, 2009

The life of Vice Adm. Samuel Gravely is remembered

Lawmakers Blanch at Presidential Helicopter’s Rising Cost

Feb. 13, 2009 – 1:51 p.m.
By John M. Donnelly, CQ Staff

Senior defense appropriators and other lawmakers are souring on a program to build a new presidential helicopter because it could wind up costing nearly twice as much as originally advertised.

President Obama has promised to trim military programs with excessive costs or outdated missions. It remains to be seen whether he will be willing to start with his own helicopter, the VH-71, which the Pentagon’s acquisition chief says in an internal memo exemplifies common problems that drive up the costs and delay the schedules of major defense programs.

Whatever the administration’s take on the helicopter initiative, which is run by the Navy, it faces serious scrutiny in Congress.

At a Feb. 11 hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Chairman John P. Murtha , D-Pa., called the VH-71 program “one of the worst examples” of a defense program run amok. Murtha said he recently told program officials: “‘We’re not going to pay $500 million for one helicopter. Period.’”

The average cost is closer to $400 million per helicopter, Navy figures show—a total of $11.2 billion for 28 helicopters. But that’s compared to $6.5 billion estimated when the program began exactly four years ago.

“It’s just frightening how they throw money around like it’s out of style,” Murtha said. In a brief interview after the hearing, he said the helicopter’s performance requirements were “unacceptable,” and warned: “We’re going to force them to a more reasonable answer.”

Similarly, C.W. Bill Young of Florida, the panel’s senior Republican, said in an interview: “I was a supporter, but I’m willing to reconsider, because of the tremendous cost.”

The appropriators are not the only ones up in arms. Lawmakers from Connecticut, where Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. lost the 2005 competition to build the president’s helicopter fleet, are hoping to get another shot at the business. They hope Sikorsky, which builds the current fleet of helicopters known as “Marine Ones,” can capitalize on the troubles faced by the current contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., which builds the helicopters mostly in New York state and Texas with help from firms in the United Kingdom and Italy.

In a Feb. 11 letter to Navy Secretary Donald Winter, members of the Connecticut delegation asked for a report and a briefing on the program, including an analysis of the merits of recompeting it or splitting the buy between Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin.

Members such as Rosa DeLauro , D-Conn., also make a “buy American” argument in Sikorsky’s favor, saying jobs and even national security are on the line.

“At what point do you say, enough is enough?” she said.

The first group of four helicopters is supposed to be delivered to the Marine Corps squadron that handles presidential helicopters by 2011. All 28 of the helicopters are expected to be delivered by 2019.

But the program’s cost has grown to the point where the secretary of Defense must certify to Congress that it is in the national interest and meets other criteria in order for it to continue. The certification is due 120 days after the president’s fiscal 2010 budget goes to Congress. But the Obama administration will have to make a decision about the coming fiscal year’s activities before the secretary makes his determination.

Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have been silent on the outlook for this program. But John Young, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, cited the VH-71 program in a Jan. 30 memo to Gates, saying it exemplifies problems that plague other Defense Department initiatives.

“Higher costs, whether based on low estimates or poor enterprise management, is unacceptable and harmful to the defense enterprise,” John Young wrote. “The acquisition team bears significant responsibility for moving forward with these programs built on inadequate foundations.”

The problem with the VH-71 program is how much it is being asked to accomplish, according to defense experts and congressional aides who follow the program closely. The VH-71 is doing what two types of helicopters do now. One version of today’s Marine One lands on the White House lawn; the other is deployed around the world in places where the president will travel. The VH-71 would do both in a single aircraft.

The new helicopter’s costs have risen so much because it will carry more people, more communications gear, more “survivability” equipment and fly longer ranges. It must be able to counter surface-to-air missiles. It bristles with phone, Internet, fax, printers and video screens. And the communications gear must hold up even after an electromagnetic pulse effect from a nuclear blast.

It is supposed to be modeled on a commercially available helicopter, but the new requirements have made it necessary to replace the engine and rotors. A requirement for increased range and ability to hover for prolonged periods also are driving up costs.

“Basically, it has to be Air Force One,” said one aide.

It must accomplish all these tasks but not get too large that it cannot be put aboard a C-17 transport plane and flown to any overseas locale where the president needs it.

But the Navy tried to do all this on a schedule that was not realistic and worsened the cost risks, experts said.

In 2005, the former director of Pentagon testing, Tom Christie, said the rushed schedule violated ‘fly before buy’ principles and was “not executable.”

“It appears that Mr. Christie may have had a point,” said Christopher Bolkcom, a defense analyst with the Congressional Research Service.

The program’s future will be determined in the weeks ahead by Obama’s team. The White House Military Office works closely with the Navy on the initiative. But the discussions may not yet have begun.

“To date, the program office has not had official contact with the Obama administration, but we look forward to working with the new commander in chief,” said a set of “talking points” the Navy gave Congress in late January, when it informed members that the costs were continuing to spiral upwards.

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Ginsburg Home, May Soon Be Back at Work

Feb. 13, 2009 – 1:49 p.m.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back home recuperating from surgery for pancreatic cancer and is expected to be in court Feb. 23 for an oral argument.

Ginsburg, 75, was released from New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Friday, according to a brief statement from the court. She underwent surgery Feb. 5 to remove her spleen and part of her pancreas after a CAT scan revealed a lesion in the pancreas.

The court statement said her lymph nodes were negative for cancer and that the lesion discovered last month was benign. But her surgeon detected another, even smaller tumor that is malignant. The cancer has been classified as TNM Stage 1.

Ginsburg was nominated to the high court by President Bill Clinton in mid-June 1993, confirmed by the Senate on 97-3 vote on Aug. 3 and took her seat Aug. 10. She had earlier served 13 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

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U.S. Must Prepare for 'Hybrid' Warfare, General Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2009 - The U.S. military boasts dominant nuclear and conventional capabilities, but must improve its capacity to fight irregular wars, NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation said yesterday.

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, who also serves as the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, said the United States has lost some of its nuclear and conventional war edge in recent years, but remains superior on these fronts.

"We are not superior in irregular warfare," he said in a speech at the Foreign Policy Research Institute here. "And that's what we've got to be."

Mattis discussed the need for the U.S. military to transform to a "hybrid" force that expands its nonconventional means without sacrificing classic warfighting competence.

Broadly defined, irregular warfare refers to conflict with an enemy that does not organize itself as a traditional military. As in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, this type of fighting entails stealthy attacks such as roadside bombings and ambushes, instead of direct military-to-military engagement.

In calculating how to establish greater balance among the two types of warfare, the general said, he noticed a common thread among past armies that morphed to meet a new set of challenges.

"Every military that transformed, that changed, that modernized, did so on the basis of one thing," he said. "They identified a problem and solved it."

These historical precedents are relevant today because the fundamental nature of war is unchanging, he added.

"If I was to sum up everything I've learned in 35 years of wearing this uniform, I'd do it with three words: improvise, improvise, improvise. And the more we anticipate, the more we try to get it right ahead of time, the less we have to improvise in combat," he said.

To help quantify problems the military may face over the next quarter century, officials developed the idea of the Joint Operating Environment. This conceptual battlefield takes into account potential threats born out of competition for resources, economics, increased urbanization and the possibility of nonstate actors obtaining more deadly weapons.

Joint Forces Command released its findings in December in a report called Joint Operating Environment 2008. A follow-on document, known as the Capstone Concept, created with approval from Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will guide how U.S. joint forces are implemented.

"Today's challenges and threats are not strictly military in nature, solved or countered by military means alone," Mullen said last month. "We owe future generations a longer-term view of security. The concept is designed to help military and other national security leaders think about challenges and opportunities."

Mattis said one certainty is that the United States will fight 21st century war among "hybrid conditions" and emphasized the need to maintain focus on the mixed-type of warfare and to make irregular war a core competency.

"If we don't set up some kind of magnet to pull the [Defense] Department out of its good old 'mano-a-mano' conventional war focus, then we won't shift the budgeting, we won't shift the focus over where it has to go," he said. "Really, we're going to have to be able to fight hybrid enemies."

Related Sites:
U.S. Joint Forces Command

Related Articles:
Mullen Releases Concept for Future Joint Operations
Joint Report Cites Potential Causes for Future Flashpoints

USS Vella Gulf Apprehends Pirates

'Honest Abe' Served Nation as Captain Lincoln

By Renee Hylton
Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 13, 2009 - Many people know Abraham Lincoln as the 16th American president or the man who brought an end to slavery. But not many know of his military service.

Abraham Lincoln, who is considered by many historians and political scientists to be the greatest U.S. president, was born 200 years ago yesterday in a one-room Kentucky log cabin.

"Honest Abe" was the real thing -- a self-educated man of the people who rose to greatness, guiding the country through the long and bloody Civil War that marked his presidency.

Many historians believe the outcome of the war might have been different if Lincoln had not been president. Over the years, historians have speculated that without Lincoln's political skills, northern states would have agreed to make peace rather than seek victory on the battlefield.

Between his inauguration in 1861 and his assassination in 1865, Lincoln became a student of military tactics and strategy. However, Lincoln was not without military experience of his own. In 1832, he served in the Illinois militia for three months during the Black Hawk War.

Lincoln, known for his humor and willingness to poke fun at himself, downplayed his military service. He once declared in a congressional debate: "I fought, bled, and came away. ... I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes."

In addition to serving as a private, Lincoln also was elected company commander. During this time, many militia companies elected their officers.

Thirty years later, his three months in the field as an officer and a private likely influenced his attitude toward the great armies of citizen-soldiers -- who fought on both sides in the Civil War.

As the nation celebrates the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War is not far behind. It probably will be commemorated, in the words of Lincoln's second inaugural address, now chiseled on the walls of his memorial, "with malice toward none, with charity for all."

(Renee Hylton is a historian for the National Guard Bureau.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senate Could Vote on Science Nominees

Feb. 12, 2009 – 1:16 p.m.
By Kathryn A. Wolfe, CQ Staff

The Senate could vote Thursday to confirm the nominations of two of the administration’s top scientists.

John Holdren, nominated as President Obama’s science adviser, and Jane Lubchenco, nominated as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, appeared before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to a warm reception.

The panel approved both nominations by voice vote.

John D. Rockefeller IV , D-W.Va., Commerce chairman, said he and ranking Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas are seeking to have the nominations confirmed on the Senate floor by voice vote as soon as possible.

“Speed is important here,” Rockefeller said.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Surge in Afghanistan Unlikely to Surpass 30,000, Mullen Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT DRUM, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2009 - The top U.S. military officer said today he doesn't expect the United States to deploy more than about 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, emphasizing the need for the State Department and other U.S. agencies to do their part as well.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told junior soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division that 2009 will be a pivotal year for Afghanistan that will require more than just military might.

"It has gotten worse in Afghanistan," he told the soldiers, some recently returned from Iraq and others expecting to deploy to Afghanistan next year. "Violence is up, [and] the Taliban is back." In addition, he said, governance at the local, district, provincial and national levels "is not going well" and "has to be improved."

"Getting that governance piece right as fast as we can is absolutely vital," Mullen said, particularly with elections scheduled this summer. He noted that although the military inevitably will be involved, it's not the agency best suited to assist with governance.

The same, he said, holds true with helping Afghanistan improve economic development.

"It is not possible to win this or succeed in Afghanistan militarily alone," Mullen told the group.

So as the military expands the force in Afghanistan probably not much beyond the 20,000 to 30,000 numbers being discussed, Mullen said more nonmilitary enablers will be needed, too.

"It has to be met with a commensurate surge from other agencies, particularly the State Department, in order for us to start generating success in 2009, which is a critical year," he said.

Mullen praised the soldiers for the successes they helped to bring about in Iraq. "You have made a difference. You have turned it around in Iraq," he said. Success wasn't in sight 12 to 18 months ago, he said, but now it is.

In a separate session with family readiness group volunteers, he tied the success of the surge directly to the men and women on the ground. "It could not have been done without the 10th Mountain Division" and the rest of the U.S. military engaged there, he said.

"I've been there a lot and seen the difference," he told the spouses. "It gets a little bit better day by day, and we are very hopeful that we can continue to draw forces down in Iraq and that Iraqi people [will] continue to assume responsibility for their own country."

But Mullen reminded the soldiers, "We are not done in Iraq."

Al-Qaida remains a problem, but is "greatly diminished," he said. Governance is improving, as demonstrated by the successful late-January elections. Iraqi security forces are improving.

The 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team was rerouted from Iraq to Afghanistan last fall. Its soldiers in Task Force Spartan are now deployed to eastern Afghanistan, taking up positions that until now had little coalition presence.

"I expect there will be more of that over the next several months, although I don't have the details of that," Mullen told the troops. "That's something the president decides."

Related Sites:
10th Mountain Division

Related Articles:
Mullen: People 'First and Foremost' as Military Shifts Focus

NATO Commander Encouraged by Afghanistan Discussions in Munich

American Forces Press Service

MONS, Belgium, Feb. 9, 2009 - NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe returned from the 45th Munich Security Conference, which concluded yesterday, encouraged by Afghanistan discussions.

"I think the strategy review that is currently underway by the United States is going to be helpful," U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock said. "Conditions constantly change, so the key to success is continual assessment and revision of strategy."

NATO's strategy -- a "comprehensive approach" to clear areas of enemy activity, hold those security gains and to build up areas once they're safe – will benefit from 20,000 additional troops scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan.

"We have never had the forces needed to hold an area after it's been cleared," Craddock said. "With additional forces, we'll now be in a better position to gain the best effects from our strategy. When you have the ability to hold and build, you see things change."

But though the additional troops will help, Craddock said, the Afghan National Army continues to grow and develop at a rate that is outpacing NATO's ability to provide trainers and mentors.

"We are short more than a dozen training teams today," he said. "We'll be short more than 30 by the end of the year if we can't generate more. This is our most pressing need, as it holds the key to our strategy – the ability of the Afghans to provide for their own security."

(From a Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe news release.)

Related Sites:

45th Munich Security Conference
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Participation in Hemispheric Security Treaties and Conventions

January 28, 2009
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Washington, DC

StateRio Treaty1Pact of BogotaCIFTA2Transparency Convention3Terrorism Convention4
Antigua & BarbudaNNR 3/03NR 3/03
ArgentinaRSR 10/01R 4/04R 12/05
BahamasRNR 7/98NS
BarbadosNNR 6/04NS
BelizeNNR 1/98NS
BoliviaRSR 4/99SS
BrazilRRR 9/99R 12/06R 10/05
CanadaNNSR 10/99R 12/02
ChileRRR 10/03R 1/06R 9/04
ColombiaRRR 2/03SR 7/08
Costa RicaRRR 4/01SR 9/06
DominicaNNR 10/04SR 10/04
Dominican RepublicRRSNR 8/06
EcuadorRSR 6/99R 5/01R 7/06
El SalvadorRRR 3/99R 3/02R 5/03
GrenadaNNR 1/02NR 5/06
GuatemalaRSR 2/03R 7/01R 3/06
GuyanaNNR 6/08NR 4/07
HaitiRRR 2/07SS
HondurasRRR 11/04S 12/01R 11/04
MexicoDRR 6/98SR 6/03
NicaraguaRRR 11/99R 5/03R 6/03
PanamaRRR 9/99NR 1/04
ParaguayRRR 4/01R 10/02R 1/05
PeruRRR 6/99R 11/02R 6/03
St. Kitts & NevisNNR 5/04NS
St. LuciaNNR 4/03NS
St.Vincent & GrenadinesNNSNS
SurinameNNR 3/08NS
Trinidad & TobagoRNR 2/04NR 12/05
United StatesRSSSR 11/05
UruguayRRR 7/01R 8/01R 1/07
VenezuelaRSR 5/02R 4/05R 1/04

NOTE: The full texts of the conventions are available at

1 The Treaty’s complete title is the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.
2 The Convention’s complete title is the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. (CIFTA)
3 The Convention’s complete title is the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions.
4 The Convention’s complete title is the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism.

Where in the World Combined

The Great White Fleet - USN (

Leahy Wants `Truth Commission’ To Examine Bush Administration

Feb. 9, 2009 – 1:03 p.m.
By Seth Stern, CQ Staff

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy , D-Vt., proposed Monday the creation of an independent commission to examine alleged wrongdoing during the Bush administration.

Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave few details about what form such a commission might take in a speech at Georgetown University but proposed investigating everything from the Bush administration’s detainee and interrogation policies to the war in Iraq and the firing of U.S. Attorneys. He also suggested such a commission should examine instances “where oversight committees were lied to.”

Leahy suggested those who testified before such a commission could receive immunity against prosecution as a way to encourage people “to come forward and share their knowledge.”

“We need to come to a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past,” Leahy said.

Leahy said he wanted to find a “middle ground to find the truth” and thus positioned himself in the center of the ongoing debate among Democrats about whether to investigate the Bush administration’s decisions. President Obama has signaled he doesn’t necessarily want to delve into the actions of his predecessor while Leahy’s counterpart in the House, John Conyers Jr. , D-Mich., has introduced legislation (HR 104) to create a more narrowly focused commission to examine presidential war powers and civil liberties that could lead to prosecutions.

Leahy cited as potential models the Church Commission of the 1970s, which investigated illegal intelligence gathering activities, or South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission established to examine that nation’s apartheid-era government. Leahy said the 9/11 Commission, with its membership appointed by both the legislative and executive branches, is also another potential model though he said he was concerned that it was ultimately “stonewalled by the administration.”

“We need to be able to read the page before we turn the page,” Leahy said.

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Coast Guard Marks Acquisition Milestones

By Coast Guard Lt. Tony Migliorini
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2009 - The Coast Guard's acquisition directorate has marked a number of positive milestones in delivering new assets and capabilities to the field, the Coast Guard's senior acquisitions official said Feb. 6.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Gary T. Blore, assistant commandant for acquisition, provided bloggers and online journalists with an update on several major projects and announced the delivery of the 200th vessel from the foreign military sales program.

Blore also discussed the importance of ensuring American taxpayers know the Coast Guard is spending their money wisely.

"One of the tenets of our new acquisition processes is we try to be as transparent as possible," he said. "We want the public ... to be aware of what we are doing in the Coast Guard."

Among the 22 major acquisition projects under way, Blore highlighted the progress of the "response boat medium" project, the Rescue 21 system, the HC-144A Ocean Sentry medium-range surveillance aircraft, the national security cutter and the Sentinel-class patrol boat.

The Coast Guard has delivered the sixth of 180 planned response boat medium vessels, and officials are conducting operational tests in a variety of geographic areas. Blore noted that one of the new vessels participated in the rescue operation when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing in the Hudson River on Jan. 15.

The Rescue 21 project -- the Coast Guard's advanced command, control and communications rescue system -- is now being employed on more than 60 percent of the nation's coastline, Blore said. It will be deployed at Sector North Carolina at the end of the month, and Sector Boston is scheduled to be accepted in May, he added.

The Coast Guard's sixth HC-144A "Ocean Sentry" aircraft is flying from Spain to its U.S. destination of Elizabeth City, N.C., this week, Blore said. Five additional aircraft are under contract and are scheduled for delivery before November 2010.

The Coast Guard's first Legend-class national security cutter, Bertholf, is on track to complete electronic emissions security compliance and final acceptance by May, the admiral said. Also, the U.S. Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock division recently delivered its report on Coast Guard fatigue design enhancements to the national security cutter.

Coast Guard officials are excited about moving forward with its Sentinel-class patrol boat project, and are planning to take delivery of a lead vessel in 2011, Blore said.

"We have a lot of things going on in acquisitions," he said. "We think we have reformed our processes and are doing things very well."

(Coast Guard Lt. Tony Migliorini serves at the Coast Guard Headquarters public affairs office.)

Related Sites:

U.S. Coast Guard
Defense Department Bloggers Roundtable

USCGC MACKINAW´s Azipods in action

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Christening and Launch of USCGC MACKINAW WLBB-30 - April 2, 2005

Have fun!!! Cathing some fish.

Today is Sunday, have fun!!!

Defense Department Offers Tax Preparation Help

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2009 - With April 15 looming, the Defense Department is on call to take the sting out of tax return preparation for servicemembers.

"Each of the legal offices provides some form of tax preparation assistance," Air Force Lt. Col. Don Svendsen, executive director for the Armed Forces Tax Council, said. "People that are doing the return preparation have been trained [and] certified by the [Internal Revenue Service].

"Usually we can prepare the return right there on the spot," he added.

To make sure that a return can be finished in one visit to a tax center, Svendsen suggests making sure to bring certain documents to the appointment.

"For starters, we need them to bring their Social Security cards," he said, adding that all family members' cards need to be present to ensure accuracy. "They need their W-2s, and they need any other documents that are going to be tax related that they may have gotten in the mail.

"There is nothing more frustrating to the member than to visit the tax center and then realize he or she forgot a document," he said.

To keep those occurrences to a minimum, the tax centers on military installations have packets to help servicemembers get organized and think through what they need to bring with them, Svendsen said.

As fast and easy as the tax centers aim to make the process, situations arise that can make filing a tax return difficult. Deployments, for instance, don't always happen conveniently with the normal tax-filing season, Svendsen said.

Congress, however, has authorized a filing extension for troops serving in a combat zone. It also has granted troops a certain amount of time after leaving the combat zone in which to square away any tax issues.

"Fortunately, Congress has given us an extension. When you go ... into that combat zone, the clock stops for tax purposes," Svendsen said. "Let's say a member enters a combat zone on the 14th of April, one day before the tax-filing deadline. They're down there for an entire year [and] ... come back out the following April 14.

"They get a minimum of 180 days to file the earlier tax return, plus they get 180 days, probably more, for the current tax return," he added.

The stop on the tax clock also can apply to IRA contributions for servicemembers and spouses, Svendsen said.

And, all pay for noncommissioned officers – and much of the pay for officers -- while serving in a combat zone in 2008 is tax-free, he said.

"If the member is an enlisted member, all pay is going to be tax-free," Svendsen said. "In this case, all really does mean all. If a member is in the combat zone, and they re-enlist and receive a re-enlistment bonus, the entire amount of the bonus is going to be tax-free."

For officers serving in a combat zone, pay up to the maximum enlisted amount will be tax-free, he added.

However, service in a combat zone can affect a servicemembers' ability to claim the Earned Income Credit. The tax credit is for low- to moderate-income working people and families. Recent changes continue to make this credit a possibility for servicemembers who have served in a combat zone, Svendsen said.

Those tax changes and others of interest to military members may be found in IRS Publication 3, "Armed Forces' Tax Guide," available on the IRS Web site,

Military tax center volunteers can help answer any questions about those changes, including a first-time homebuyer credit and economic stimulus checks, Svendsen said.

For those servicemembers who want to prepare their own tax returns, provides online tax return software.

Related Sites:

Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide
Defense Finance and Accounting Service

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