Search This Blog

Translate

White House.gov Press Office Feed

Saturday, August 25, 2012

GEN. ALLEN PREDICTS HOPE AND CHALLENGE

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Allen Predicts Period of Hope and Challenge in Afghanistan's Future

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2012 - After the International Security Assistance Force mission ends in December 2014, Afghanistan will experience a period of hope combined with lots of challenges, the ISAF commander said today.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters via satellite from his command in Kabul, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said Afghan security forces will be at full strength by 2015 with 352,000 members, and Afghanistan will have a new, democratically elected government.

Afghan forces will be fully in the lead for the security of the entire Afghan population, and they will be deployed in a manner to deal with violence

Apparent improvements in security will create opportunity for improved governance from both Afghanistan's central government and the provincial governments throughout the nation, the general said.

Enhanced security has provided opportunity for improved governance at the at the local level, "which is really key for the Afghans -- increasingly key, even today, in some areas of Afghanistan where we have seen really dramatic improvements in security," Allen said.

"This is now the moment for [Afghan President Hamid Karzai's] administration to begin the process of concentrating on subprovincial and district governance and the establishment of the rule of law," he said. As security continues to improve, he added, Afghanistan has the opportunity to improve subnational governance and give the Afghan people the chance to commit themselves to the government.

Allen noted by Jan. 1, 2015, Afghanistan will have new national leadership in place following democratic elections.

"So we will see a transition in [2014] to a new administration and a new government with a new president," he said. "And that president will have seen the period of time in the last 28 months, in the last several years, of the emergence of an Afghan national security force."

The general described the 2015 Afghan security force as professionals willing to sacrifice mightily on behalf of the Afghan people to achieve a level of security to give the new administration, ministries and judiciaries the opportunity to become a part of Afghan citizens' lives.

Allen also said the Afghan people will feel the reassurance of the international community as it fulfills the commitments to Afghanistan decided upon three months ago at NATO's summit in Chicago.

""[Afghans will see] the promises that were made by the heads of state of the ISAF coalition in Chicago to continue to support and sustain the [Afghan national security forces] ... with the right amount of resources."

Afghanistan also will see support from some form of an international force in Afghanistan to provide for the continued professionalization and development of Afghan security forces, Allen said.

After the current transition is complete at the end of 2014, Allen said, a decade of transformation will follow.

"The international community, in close partnership with the new administration ... will move forward to take advantage of the sacrifices that have been made by the troops of ISAF and the coalition and, increasingly, the sacrifices that are being made every single day by the [Afghan forces]," he said. "They will move forward together into the decade of transformation starting on the first day of January 2015, into what I believe will be a period of hope."

But challenges lie ahead in the next 28 months, the general acknowledged, including the installation of governance, the embracing of rule of law, and rooting out corruption.

"I believe the Afghan people understand [that]," Allen said. "We will prove that the international community will not abandon Afghanistan."

CURIOSITY CHRONICLES BRADBURY LANDING SITE


FROM: NASA

NASA Mars Rover Begins Driving at Bradbury Landing

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from its landing site, which scientists announced today they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.

Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity's drive combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago.

NASA has approved the Curiosity science team's choice to name the landing ground for the influential author who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

"This was not a difficult choice for the science team," said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. "Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars."

Today's drive confirmed the health of Curiosity's mobility system and produced the rover's first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the mission's lead rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from visualization software used for planning the first drive.

"We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead," Heverly said.

Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast.

"Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care," said Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. "Sixteen days in, we are making excellent progress."

The science team has begun pointing instruments on the rover's mast for investigating specific targets of interest near and far. The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument used a laser and spectrometers this week to examine the composition of rocks exposed when the spacecraft's landing engines blew away several inches of overlying material.

The instrument's principal investigator, Roger Weins of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, reported that measurements made on the rocks in this scoured-out feature called Goulburn suggest a basaltic composition. "These may be pieces of basalt within a sedimentary deposit," Weins said.

Curiosity began a two-year prime mission on Mars when the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered the car-size rover to its landing target inside Gale Crater on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The mission will use 10 science instruments on the rover to assess whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

In a career spanning more than 70 years, Ray Bradbury inspired generations of readers to dream, think and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and nearly to 50 books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

His groundbreaking works include "Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles," "The Illustrated Man," "Dandelion Wine," and "Something Wicked This Way Comes." He wrote the screenplay for John Huston's classic film adaptation of "Moby Dick," and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted 65 of his stories for television's "The Ray Bradbury Theater," and won an Emmy for his teleplay of "The Halloween Tree."

JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

U.S.- MACEDONIA SIGN OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
United States and Macedonia Sign Open Skies Air Transport Agreement


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 23, 2012
On August 23 in Skopje, Deputy Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker and Macedonian Minister of Transportation Mile Janakieski signed an Open Skies air services agreement that will formalize the liberalization of our bilateral aviation relationship. The United States and Macedonia initialed the agreement in July 2011. The Open Skies Agreement shall enter into force 30 days after the date of the final notification, via an exchange of diplomatic notes between the two sides.

The Open Skies Agreement establishes a liberalized aviation relationship between the United States and Macedonia. It creates opportunities for strengthening the economic partnership between the United States and Macedonia through closer links in transport and trade.

Open Skies agreements permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other’s territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use and the prices they charge. This agreement will strengthen and expand our strong trade and tourism links with Macedonia, benefitting U.S. and Macedonian businesses and travelers by expanding opportunities for air services and encouraging vigorous price competition by airlines, while preserving our commitments to aviation safety and security.

The United States has concluded over 100 Open Skies agreements with partners around the world and at all levels of development.

U.S. AIR FORCE PREPARING FOR ISAAC



MAP CREDIT:  NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Aircraft Relocated in Preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2012 - Pentagon officials say the military has moved aircraft out of the way of the possible path of Tropical Storm Isaac.

Pentagon Spokesman George Little said 22 Air Force Reserve F-16's at Florida's Homestead Air Reserve Base were flown to Naval Air Station Fort Worth in Texas. Eight C-130's that had been relocated from Muniz Air National Guard Base in Puerto Rico to Florida's MacDill Air Force Base are being flown back after it was determined the base was no longer in Isaac's possible path.

According to the National Weather Service, Tropical Storm Isaac is currently gaining strength, with maximum speeds of up to 60 miles per hour as it moves west-northwestward toward the southern coast of Hispaniola.

In addition to sustainment of normal operations and support at least 1,700 Florida National Guardsmen will be primed for disaster response in case the storm would strike Florida, where the Republican National Convention will be underway Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Crosson said.

GRANTS TO MAKE SCHOOL MEALS HEALTHIER


FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

USDA Awards Grants to Boost Children’s Access to Healthy School Meals
WASHINGTON, August 23, 2012 –Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon today announced additional investments in the national school meal programs that will protect taxpayer dollars while providing healthy school meals for low-income kids. The Administrative Review and Training Grants help states improve their operational accuracy in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. The grants highlight the work of states in improving the integrity and efficiency of program administration and delivery.

"USDA’s school meal programs are vital to the overall well-being of our nation’s children," said Concannon. "By focusing on program efficiencies, we are improving the program’s administration and delivery and preserving tax-payer dollars, all while continuing to ensure that America’s children have access to healthy and nutritious meals at school."

During the grant periods, which range from one to three years, states will develop and implement training and technology improvements to assist in identifying, training and monitoring school food authorities that are at high risk for errors in program operations. USDA will award grants to the following States:
Alaska $1,058,915
Massachusetts $1,243,647

Working in collaboration with USDA, state agencies responsible for administering these programs continue to enhance program integrity. This year, USDA is investing in oversight and training activities focused on the nutritional quality of the meals and technology improvements which can help address administrative errors.

Reducing childhood obesity and improving the nutrition of all Americans are vital to achieve a healthy future for America. That’s why the Obama administration and USDA are committed to promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles and to ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including school meals programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.

U.S.-JAPAN MILITARY PARTNERSHIP BOLSTERED

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, introduces Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of joint staff for Japan Self Defense Forces, to his staff during an honor cordon at the Pentagon, Aug. 23, 2012. DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen


Dempsey, Japanese Counterpart Bolster Partnership Across Domains
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2012 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff welcomed his Japanese counterpart to the Pentagon today as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen military ties between both countries.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey met with Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of joint staff for Japan Self Defense Forces, to discuss ways to further enhance the nations' strategic and personal partnership in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

"Our partnership with Japan is historic, ... very long and very enduring," Dempsey said. "We've committed to each other that we will continue to improve and build on that partnership and make it even stronger."

Dempsey said he first met Iwasaki, then chief of the air forces, during a visit to Tokyo in October, and the two men have since become "counterparts, peers and friends."

"We came to an agreement to further cooperation with U.S. forces to deepen our understanding as we did in the past," Iwasaki said after the meeting.

Dempsey said he and Iwasaki compared notes on topics from family to joint operations, including the significance of the U.S. deployment of tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft to Japan and associated safety measures.

"The Osprey is our next generation of tactical airlift, and so very important to our modernization efforts in our future," Dempsey said. "We ... want very much to assure the people of Okinawa, and Japanese people in general, that it will be safe to operate. We will continue to work hard to build confidence in the system -- confidence that we have here."

As aviation and maritime systems continue to evolve, Dempsey and Iwasaki said, they will seek avenues to expand an already solid military-to-military relationship in other domains, including cyberspace, land, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

"We're not limiting ourselves to discussion about the maritime domain," Dempsey said. "I think our relationship expands far beyond that, and, in fact, we've served together all across the world."

EXPERT SAYS TRAUMA CARE HAS GREATLY CHANGED OVER THE LAST DECADE

Photo Credit:  U.S. Navy.
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Trauma Chief Cites Sweeping Changes in Critical Care
By Elaine Sanchez
Brooke Army Medical Center


JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, Aug. 23, 2012 - From battlefield innovations to revamped health care systems, the military has radically transformed its trauma care over the past decade, a trauma expert here said.

These advances have led not only to the nation's highest combat survivability rate in history, but also to countless saved civilian lives, said Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jeremy Cannon, the chief of trauma and acute care surgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center, which houses the Defense Department's only stateside Level 1 trauma center.

Cannon summed up many of these sweeping improvements to military and civilian critical care in the August edition of the "Surgical Clinics of North America." Serving as guest editor, the doctor called on a number of his military and civilian health care colleagues to contribute articles on recent advances, while offering insights from his experiences during three deployments in the past six years.

One of the most significant trauma care advances, he noted in the journal, was the introduction of regionalized trauma care, which involves a network of trauma centers in the same region working in coordination to save lives.

South Texas offers a perfect example of a smooth-running regional system, he noted. A network of area hospitals, including SAMMC, accepts trauma cases from smaller hospitals that may not be equipped to handle severe injuries. All work together to ensure patients receive optimal care, Cannon wrote.

The military adopted this civilian-based concept in combat, he added, implementing care that ranges from point-of-injury treatment to extensive surgery. By doing so, he explained, the military was able to take this concept downrange, "tweak it," and feed it back to the nation with improvements.

Cannon also noted the introduction and growing popularity of "damage-control" surgery. This approach involves surgeons focusing on the most life-threatening wounds first, followed by other surgeries as time and the patient's strength allow. Prior to this concept, he said, surgeons typically would "fix everything and close," then adopt a "wait and see" approach. While this may be fine for some patients, the doctor said, it became evident, particularly with catastrophic combat casualties, that a multi-phased approach would better benefit some patients.

Wound management also has seen significant changes, Cannon said, noting the impact of vacuum-assisted dressings, a temporary closure that protects the organs while monitoring fluid output. These dressings, which allow stabilization of the wound, have eliminated the need to change gauze dressings several times a day, increasing patient comfort and enabling nurses to focus on other, more pressing aspects of care.

"It's had an invaluable benefit to a tremendous number of patients," he said.

Cannon also noted the major advances in en-route critical care, or taking a soldier from the point of wounding to definitive care. He attributes successes to a combination of long-range transport by critical care teams and advanced critical care therapies for "early acute organ failure."

Additionally, cutting-edge technology has transformed the care provided in intensive care units, Cannon said, citing ultrasound equipment as an example. Bedside ultrasound imaging has "greatly enhanced the ICU toolkit for diagnosis, monitoring and interventional procedural guidance," he said. These monitors, he explained, have become less invasive and better at pinpointing vital information.

Cannon points out these examples and many more in the journal, while also looking to even broader changes in the years ahead. The Joint Theater Trauma System, for example, will provide the framework for identifying future potential critical care needs. Through this system, doctors enter combat casualty data rapidly into the JTT Registry, which they can later mine for information regarding diagnoses and survival rates. Put simply, this information can be used to make better decisions regarding future care.

Cannon said he set out to chronicle lessons learned and to create a reference point for future generations to explain "why we do what we do."

"It was an honor to be asked to do an update of such an important topic," he said. "I hope it can serve as a benchmark for today's trauma care."

SHIP'S EARLY DEPLOYMENT TO MIDDLE EAST UNDERSTOOD BY SAILORS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks with sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in Bremerton, Wash., Aug. 22, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
Sailors: Early Deployment Tough, but 'We're Needed'

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL BASE KITSAP, Wash., Aug. 24, 2012 - In July, the crew of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis learned their ship would deploy four months earlier than planned, and to a different part of the world than expected. Two months later, they report they're ready to go.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta visited the ship this week to thank the sailors for their service and their extraordinary effort in preparing the ship. During his visit, some of the crew discussed with American Forces Press Service what their summer has involved.

Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Armour has spent 10 years in the Navy, with two on the Stennis. Armour took part in the ship's last deployment, seven months in the Middle East, which ended in early March.

"We went from place to place [for] port visits," he said, "but we spent the majority of our time in the [Persian] Gulf."

Word of the next deployment -– back to the Middle East -- came in July, he said, while the ship was underway for training. Many of the sailors were anticipating the deployment that had been previously announced, which would have taken the Stennis carrier strike group to the Pacific later in the year, Armour added.

"A lot of people had made plans; they weren't planning on being out to sea [again] so quickly," he said. "The turn-around was really quick for us. ... We had to qualify the carrier and the strike group once again; just all this stuff got crunched into a four-month period. And that, I know, weighed a lot of stress [on] the personnel on board, as well as the chain of command."

Armour said he understands why the Stennis carrier strike group is headed out to the Gulf region again.

"I know we are needed there. I know there's a carrier presence that's required to be there," he said. "This is why we're on the Stennis; this is why we all joined. It is a lot quicker than we initially expected, but it is our job. ... It's not easy, but we're ready to do it."

Seaman Apprentice Azusena Roman is 19 and enlisted in the Navy a year ago. Right after her initial training she joined the Stennis for the final two months of its last deployment, she said, and she'll also take part in the upcoming one.

Roman's introduction to the Stennis carrier strike group "was intimidating," she said. "But I got along with people. Everyone welcomed me aboard, and I got the hang of things."

Word of the change in deployment schedule was shocking, she said, but added, "When they need us, they need us. [We've] got to be prepared at all times."

Roman, who got married in March, said she and her new husband had to change plans when they learned of the change in deployments. Both are from Los Angeles and her husband was planning to move this fall from there to Bremerton, Wash., the home port for the Stennis.

"He was upset about [the early deployment] as much as I was," she said. "But we should be getting used to this. We talk every day, pretty much, and we have plans for the future when [the ship] comes back. ... It's going to be tough, but we'll get through it."

Roman said she has professional goals she'll be working toward during the deployment, including earning the insignia of an enlisted surface warfare specialist, which requires study and, in some cases, qualification in various aspects of shipboard and combat operations.

"I want to get my ESWS pin, so I need to get qualified in many things," she said.

Lt. Cmdr. Zachary Harrell, public affairs officer for the Stennis, said since the new deployment was announced little more than a month ago, the sailors and leaders of the Stennis carrier strike group have managed both professional and personal challenges.

"Informing the sailors and the families was definitely a big priority for the command," he said. "The sailors and the crew found out directly from the admiral."

Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette commands Carrier Strike Group Three, the Stennis strike group. Gaouette put word on the deployment out to the crew as soon as he heard it last month, Harrell said.

"We gathered on the ship – we were underway at the time – had an all-hands call, and the admiral addressed the crew," Harrell said, adding that the admiral's main aim was to let everyone know what was coming so they could start to prepare.

The change in deployment date affected everything from supply timelines to stress management, he noted.

"We can't do what we do without sailors who have a good foundation with their families," Harrell said. "So that was definitely made to be a priority, so that the families knew and could prepare."

Ships' crews are normally encouraged to take leave at the end of a deployment, and again before they ship out for the next, Harrell said. Though the Stennis sailors had a lot of work to do getting ready for the Middle East, the command allowed as much leave time as possible, he added.

"We got seven or eight days less [leave time] than we would usually get, but we still had about 24 days where people could take time off, spend time with their families [and] get their personal lives in order," he said.

Morale among sailors on the Stennis remains high, Harrell said.

"People are always motivated to do what they've been trained to do," he said, adding leaders at all levels of the crew are working to ensure sailors have time to plan for their personal and family lives, while at the same time preparing the strike group for a seven-month mission.

Harrell said he and his wife, Amber, are both ready for the imminent separation.

"I've probably got the world's best wife," he said. "She's going to be working while I'm gone, and that helps. She's very supportive of what we do as a Navy and what I personally have to do when I leave home. I'm lucky to have her."

Other Navy spouses and families offer similar support, he said.

"They're the best people you could meet on this planet, as far as what they have to sacrifice, and their own personal strength of character," Harrell said.




                                                             Photo:  USS John C. Stenis.  Credit:  U.S. Navy.


The Stennis, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier commissioned in 1995, carries more than 80 tactical aircraft, rises some 24 stories from keel to mast, has a flight deck area of 4.5 acres and contains 900 miles of cabling and wires. As Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during a visit to the ship earlier this week, the ship exemplifies the high-tech, flexible force-projection capability the nation's defense strategy seeks to build across the forces.

The secretary also said, during his visit, that "none of that is worth a damn without men and women in uniform."

Harrell echoed those sentiments: "We can't do anything without well-trained and well-motivated people to support the system," he said. "That's how the mission gets done, and it gets done on their backs."

USS CAPE ST. GEORGE ENDS WORLD TOUR

FROM: U.S. NAVY, USS CAPE ST. GEORGE
120802-N-MH210-255 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 2, 2012) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (DDG 71) is underway in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary A. Anderson/Released
 



USS Cape St. George Concludes Journey Around the World
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson, USS Cape St. George Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 Detachment 2 returned to Naval Base San Diego (NBSD), Aug. 22 after circumnavigating the globe.

Cape's crew completed a nine-month deployment in support of the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR) while operating forward.

While deployed, Cape served as Air Defense Commander in the 5th Fleet AOR for six months, monitoring several million square miles of water with roughly two dozen ships, and escorted the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) to her new homeport of Norfolk, Va.

Cape sailed more than 70,000 nautical miles, the equivalent of three and a half times around the Earth at the equator. Cape completed 259 days deployed, more than 230 of them at sea, with 105 days supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

"It's been a lifelong dream to sail around the world," said Capt. Don Gabrielson, commanding officer of Cape St. George. "To accomplish this alongside Cape's amazing Sailors was an honor and a privilege beyond words. It was a huge challenge, but it was just as rewarding as it was difficult."

Cape Sailors also executed more than 3,000 safe helicopter launch and recoveries. The embarked detachment of two MH-60R helicopters from HSM-77 aboard Cape flew approximately 350 sorties, completing more than 1,140 flight hours conducting a wide variety of missions.

"It was a great experience to serve aboard Cape," said Lt. Brock Magnino, one of the pilots assigned to HSM-77. "Capt. Gabrielson and the rest of the crew were very supportive, and it felt good to help them out as much as we could. We definitely felt like a part of the family."

The crew enjoyed port visits to Pattaya, Thailand; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Valletta, Malta and Key West, Fla. Cape participated in community service projects in each port, repairing orphanages and homes for victims of domestic violence. En route, Cape passed through both the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, sailing around the world to return home to San Diego.

"It was a long, but memorable deployment," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Harvey Xavier. "Our ship has come a long way and made many accomplishments since 2008. It feels good to serve on a ship that's been around the world. Not many people are able to say they've been where we've been or did what we've done."

Sailors performed cross-deck exchanges with various U.S. Navy ships including Lincoln, the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10), as well as the British Royal Navy's Type-45 Air Defense Destroyer HMS Daring (D32), the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) and the Duke-class frigate HMS Westminster (F237).

Cape received many visitors throughout the deployment, including: Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, Vice Adm. John Miller; country music superstar, Toby Keith; Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan; as well as "Cooks from the Valley" who supplied and grilled fresh steaks for 12 ships at sea for the Fourth of July.

Cape advanced 60 petty officers and chiefs during the deployment. More than 130 Sailors earned their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) qualification, allowing Cape to fly the ESWS pennant.

"We have to recognize our families, friends and supporters who kept us going," said Gabrielson. "While we were deployed, so were they because they were away from us. We wouldn't have been able to complete the mission without their love and support. The crew shows our appreciation."

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND BIOSURVEILLANCE STRATEGY

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
This electron micrograph shows virus particles called virions from an H1N1 flu sample. The virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was under way. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


DOD Has Running Start on Biosurveillance Strategy
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2012 - The White House has issued the first U.S. National Strategy for Biosurveillance to quickly detect a range of global health and security hazards, and the Defense Department has a running start in implementing the new plan, a senior defense official said.

Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, told American Forces Press Service that many of the activities described in the strategy are ongoing at DOD.

Such efforts, he said, "have been a little bit siloed."

"So much of what we're doing is integrating the efforts and working hard on the overlap between global security and global health, in what [President Barack Obama] refers to as global health security," he said.

Biosurveillance is defined as data gathering, analysis and interpretation of data related to disease activity and threats to human and animal health to achieve early warning, detection and situational awareness.

In a letter that introduces the new strategy, Obama said the United States "must be prepared for the full range of threats, including a terrorist attack involving a biological agent [and] the spread of infectious diseases and food-borne illnesses."

The strategy calls for a coordinated approach involving federal, state, local and tribal governments; the private sector; nongovernmental organizations; and international partners.

"It challenges us," the president wrote, "to take full advantage of the advanced technologies, new vaccines, the latest science, and social media that can help keep our citizens safe. It describes the core functions and critical capabilities we need to succeed."

Within 120 days, the White House will complete a strategic implementation plan that lays out the required actions and responsibilities of all partners in the mission, Obama said.

As the strategy is released, 43 U.S. states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds and mosquitoes, and about 700 cases and 26 deaths have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The virus was first isolated from a feverish woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937, and from there it spread to Egypt, Israel, France and, in 1999, to the United States. According to CDC, the virus's spread in the U.S is a milestone in its evolving history.

Monitoring and understanding infectious disease always has been a DOD priority, Weber said, "because for much of our history we've been a global force, and we've had to understand what we call exotic infectious diseases."

Defense Department researchers developed many of the vaccines that protect against malaria, dengue fever and other diseases, he said, "and [Army Maj. (Dr.)] Walter Reed in the 19th century did groundbreaking work on the yellow fever virus."

The renewed focus on biosurveillance speeds up the convergence of traditional battlefield biodefense and health surveillance, Weber said.

"It's all about saving lives," he added. "The sooner you recognize that a biological event is happening, the greater your ability to isolate it, contain it and prevent it from spreading around the world, like H1N1," the novel swine flu virus whose spreading infections the World Health Organization announced as a pandemic on June 11, 2009.

Many DOD components have long been directly involved in global biosurveillance. These include Weber's office, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System Operations, called GEIS, which is part of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

"Through our Armed Forces Health Surveillance Network and our Medical Research and Materiel Command," Weber said, "we have a network of three U.S. Army and three U.S. Navy laboratories in places like Cairo, Egypt; Lima, Peru; Nairobi, Kenya; Bangkok, Thailand; and now in Tbilisi, Georgia."

Last week Weber, along with Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, rededicated a central public health reference laboratory in Tbilisi built with funding from the Pentagon's Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

"This is a partnership with the government of Georgia, the Walter Reed Institute of Research and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that will provide a regional biosurveillance hub linked to the World Health Organization so we can map, detect and understand infectious diseases circulating in the South Caucasus and the Black Sea regions," Weber said.

The other six GEIS laboratories focus on human health and disease carriers, or vectors, like birds and mosquitoes, he added, but the Georgia center will be different.

"From the beginning on the Georgian side, [work on the center's mission] includes their agricultural ministry, their health ministry and their national center for disease control," Weber said.

"On the U.S. side, we have participation from different parts of DOD, including the GEIS program and the Medical Research and Materiel Command, as well as other U.S. government partners like [CDC]."

Internationally, he added, "we're working with OIE -- the World Organization for Animal Health. ... We're also working with the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, and ... we're discussing a new partnership with FAO as well as WHO, both their headquarters in Geneva and their regional offices, including the European regional office based in Copenhagen, Denmark."

With the government of Kazakhstan, he added, "we are building a similar laboratory capability in Almaty. When it's complete, the project will involve on ... [Kazakhstan's] side the animal health authorities and their agriculture ministry, their ministry of education and science on the research side and the health ministry. On the U.S. side, the Centers for Disease Control will be a strategic partner."

Much of the DOD global network was developed in response to the outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 -- which spread rapidly westward in wild birds from Qinghai Lake, China, in 2005 -- and later, the H1N1 swine flu outbreaks, Weber said.

"There was a lot of one-time funding for pandemic flu that we were able to build on and broaden beyond the focus on one infectious disease," he added.

Weber said DOD's preparedness domestically and globally increased as a result of its response first to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2002, but especially to H5N1 avian flu three years later.

"What was important about both outbreaks is that they helped give birth to the 'One Health' concept," he said. "Because H5N1 was a poultry disease that jumped species to humans, it got the veterinarian community, the animal health community and the human health community to work together."

One Health is an international effort by veterinarians, physicians and other health professionals to integrate health care for people, animals, agriculture and the environment.

"Biosurveillance is about early detection and prediction of biological events no matter what their cause," Weber said, "so we can save lives, so we can continue military operations, and protect American citizens and our forces and families around the world."

The new strategy and the implementation plan that will come out of it, he added, "will help us improve integration, accelerate activities and increase resources to make it an even higher priority."

NORTH CAROLINA SETTLES WITH JUSTICE REGARDING MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Justice Department Obtains Comprehensive Agreement Regarding North Carolina Mental Health System

Settlement Will Expand Opportunities for Individuals with Mental Illness, Including Community-based Supported Housing, Ensuring That Necessary Services Are Provided in the Community

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into an agreement with the state of North Carolina to ensure the state is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The agreement will transform the state’s system for serving people with mental illness. Under the settlement agreement, over the next eight years, North Carolina’s system will expand community-based services and supported housing that promote inclusion and independence and enable people with mental illness to participate fully in community life.

Under the ADA, as interpreted by the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C., people with disabilities have the right to receive services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. The settlement follows an investigation by the Department of North Carolina’s mental health service system that began in 2010. Since the department’s letter of findings was issued one year ago, in July 2011, the state has worked cooperatively with the department to negotiate an agreement..

"As the Supreme Court noted over a decade ago, the unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities is based on the unsupported assumption that they are unworthy of participating in community life," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This agreement will enable North Carolinians with mental illness to live in community-based settings, enriching their lives and the lives of their neighbors, and recognizing their worth and dignity. I commend Governor Bev Perdue and North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia for their leadership, which played a crucial role in making this comprehensive agreement a reality."

Over the next eight years, North Carolina will provide integrated supported housing to 3,000 people, expand Assertive Community Treatment teams to serve 5,000 individuals, and provide a range of crisis services. The agreement will also expand integrated employment opportunities for people with mental illness by providing supported employment services to 2,500 individuals. These services will allow the state to serve people with mental illness effectively in their communities while avoiding costly institutional settings.

"North Carolina has taken an important step towards offering a choice to individuals with mental illness who prefer to live in the community," said Thomas G. Walker, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. "The agreement, made possible by the coordinated and cooperative efforts of the state’s executive and legislative branches of government, will ensure that more North Carolinians with mental illness will be able to enjoy integrated lives in their communities."

The agreement calls for a person-centered discharge planning process to help people move smoothly and successfully to community-based settings, while a pre-admission screening process will prevent people from unnecessarily entering institutional settings. Provisions of the agreement will ensure that people discharged from adult care homes designated as Institutions for mental disease are discharged in a safe, coordinated manner.

North Carolina will implement a comprehensive and robust quality assurance and performance improvement monitoring system to ensure that people are safe and are receiving integrated housing, services and supports that meet their needs. Compliance with the agreement will be monitored by an independent reviewer with extensive experience in mental health systems.

The Civil Rights Division enforces the ADA, which authorizes the attorney general to investigate whether a state is serving individuals in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. Visit www.justice.gov/crt to learn more about the Olmstead decision, the ADA and other laws enforced by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

This agreement is due to the efforts of the following Civil Rights Division staff: Alison Barkoff, Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement; Gregory Friel, Acting Chief; Anne Raish, Deputy Chief; Regan Rush, Joy Levin Welan, Travis England, and Regina Kline, Trial Attorneys; with support and assistance from Lance Simon.

NATIONAL GUARD PREPARES FOR TROPICAL STORM ISAAC

Weather Map:  NOAA
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
National Guard Prepares For Tropical Storm Isaac


By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2012 - National Guard Coordination Center officials are stepping up efforts to prepare for the possibility that Tropical Storm Isaac, now in the Caribbean, could strengthen and affect the U.S mainland.

"Though no states have yet sought assistance, we're planning on a Gulf strike at Category 1 [hurricane] level in Mississippi, Alabama or the Florida panhandle," said Air National Guard Col. Matt Wessel, the Coordination Center's operations director. "We've identified Army Guard aviation rotary assets from numerous states, including Gulf region states outside of the storm's path, as well as fixed wing C-23s and 38 helicopters within the local region ready to respond."

Wessel said state and Guard officials will closely monitor the course of the storm to determine what assets may be needed and how to quickly to respond.

The National Weather Service reports the center of Isaac will move near or over southeastern Cuba Saturday and is expected to strengthen. While the exact track is uncertain, residents in South Florida and the Florida Keys are being told to monitor Isaac's path.

"National Guardsmen are on a 'prepare-for-deployment' status, in that they're not yet being called into the armories but ready to assemble into a brigade-size, regional response force that can fulfill states' required needs should they escalate to a Category 3 or Category 4 status," Wessel said.

Lt. Col. Al Gorman, Army National Guard current operations director, said NGB officials are prepared for a worst case scenario and will act swiftly to coordinate troop movement should it cross state lines.

"If the storm looks to be greater than a Category 2, we'll start moving people," he said.

CFTC SEEKS TO REVOKE TRADING ADVISOR'S REGISTRATION DUE TO MASSIVE FRAUD JUDGEMENT

FROM:  U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION
August 24, 2012

CFTC Seeks to Revoke Registration of Growth Capital Management LLC Based on CFTC Anti-Fraud Action

Washington, DC
– The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today filed a notice of intent to revoke the registration of Growth Capital Management LLC (GCM) of Rockwall, Texas. GCM is a registered Commodity Pool Operator and Commodity Trading Advisor.

The CFTC’s notice alleges that GCM is subject to statutory disqualification from CFTC registration based on a default judgment order and an order of permanent injunction entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on March 15, 2011, and June 26, 2012, respectively (see CFTC News Release 6299-12, July 9, 2012). The permanent injunction order requires GCM jointly and severally to make restitution to defrauded customers, disgorge ill-gotten gains, and pay a civil monetary penalty, together totaling over $9.3 million, for fraudulently soliciting over $30 million from customers to trade commodity futures contracts and foreign currency (forex). The order also permanently bans GCM from further violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act and permanently bans GCM from engaging in certain commodities related activity, including trading and seeking registration in any capacity with the CFTC.

The court’s order arises out of a CFTC complaint filed on July 27, 2010, against GCM, Robert Mihailovich, Sr., and Robert Mihailovich, Jr., the son of Mihailovich, Sr. (see CFTC Press Release 5863-10, July 28, 2010). Mihailovich, Sr. was convicted and incarcerated on federal wire fraud charges, served 27 months and, while on a three-year supervised release, fraudulently solicited and accepted more than $30 million from approximately 93 customers to open managed trading accounts, according to the complaint. Mihailovich, Jr., at the time of GCM’s initial registration, failed to disclose Mihailovich, Sr.’s involvement with GCM and failed to disclose in CFTC registration filings that his father was a controlling principal of GCM, the complaint alleged.

The CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Alison B. Wilson, Boaz Green, Stephen T. Tsai, Maura M. Viehmeyer, Philip Tumminio, Michelle Bougas, Anne Termine, Gretchen L. Lowe, and Vincent A. McGonagle.

Un nuevo estudio analiza el comportamiento de los glaciares del Himalaya

Un nuevo estudio analiza el comportamiento de los glaciares del Himalaya

DOD Contracts for August 24, 2012

Contracts for August 24, 2012

TIPS ON FOOD SAFETY AND NATURAL DISASTERS LIKE HURRICANE ISAAC

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICUTURE

USDA Offers Food Safety Preparation Tips as Tropical Storm Isaac Nears Florida

WASHINGTON, August 24, 2012—
As Floridians ready their homes for Tropical Storm Isaac's potential blast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) urges them to make food safety a part of their preparation efforts. Power outages and flooding that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, and planning ahead can minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

"Storing perishable food at proper temperatures is crucial to food safety but can become difficult if you lose electricity for your refrigerator and freezer," USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. "For those living in Tropical Storm Isaac's projected path, we recommend stocking up on canned food, bottled water, batteries, and dry ice."


Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:
Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer to help determine if food is safe during power outages. The refrigerator temperature should be 40° F or lower and the freezer should be 0° F or lower.
Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.
Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
Purchase or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.


Steps to follow if the power goes out:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:
Check the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. If the thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe.
If no thermometer was used in the freezer, check each package. If food still contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below when checked with a food thermometer, it may be safely refrozen.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items) that have been kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40° F for two hours or more.
Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved. Follow the Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort Pouches in the publication "Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency" at: www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/
Keeping_Food_Safe_During_an_Emergency/index.asp

Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If bottled water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety.
Never taste food to determine its safety!
When in Doubt, throw it out!

An FSIS Public Service Announcement (PSA) illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during and after a power outage is available in 30- and 60-second versions at www.fsis.usda.gov/news/Food_Safety_PSA. News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions of the PSA by contacting FSIS' Food Safety Education Staff at (301) 344-4757.

Videos about food safety during power outages are available in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language on FSIS' YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/USDAFoodSafety. Podcasts regarding food safety during severe weather, power outages, and flooding are available English and Spanish on FSIS' website at www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/
Food_Safety_at_Home_Podcasts
.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov on your smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Android and iTunes app store. Consumers can email, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features on the app, simply choose "Contact Us" from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

Friday, August 24, 2012

FIRST RESULTS FROM CHEMCAM LASER


FROM: LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY

ChemCam Laser First Analyses Yield Beautiful Results

Curiosity beams back strong, clear data from ‘scour’ area on Martian surface

LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO, August 23, 2012—Members of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover ChemCam team, including Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists, squeezed in a little extra target practice after zapping the first fist-sized rock that was placed in the laser’s crosshairs last weekend.

Much to the delight of the scientific team, the laser instrument has fired nearly 500 shots so far that have produced strong, clear data about the composition of the Martian surface.

"The spectrum we have received back from Curiosity is as good as anything we looked at on Earth," said Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary scientist Roger Wiens, Principal Investigator of the ChemCam Team. "The entire MSL team was very excited about this and we popped a little champagne."

When ChemCam fires its extremely powerful laser pulse, it briefly focuses the energy of a million light bulbs onto an area the size of a pinhead. The laser blast vaporizes a small amount of its target up to seven meters (23 feet) away. The resultant flash of glowing plasma is viewed by the system’s 4.3-inch aperture telescope, which sends the light down an optical fiber to a spectrometer located in the body of the rover. There, the colors of light from the flash are recorded and then sent to Earth, enabling scientists to determine the elemental composition of the vaporized material.

Scientists tested the system on Earth in a chamber that simulated the Martian atmosphere. Some of the initial spectral data from Mars look similar to some of the terrestrial standards at first glance. In the coming weeks, ChemCam researchers will pore over the data to look for tiny variations among the peaks and valleys within spectral data captured on Earth and on Mars. These comparisons will allow the team to fine tune and calibrate the instrument, ensuring that every spectral signature gathered by the rover is accurate.

Each element on the Periodic Table has a unique spectral signature. ChemCam scientists will be able to use these spectral fingerprints to decipher the composition of Martian geology, including information about whether Mars rocks ever existed in a watery environment or underwent changes due to interactions with biological organisms.

With regard to Coronation rock (the rock formerly known as N-165), ChemCam’s inaugural target, "at first glance it appears consistent with a basaltic composition," Wiens said.

"What’s more interesting, however, is whether the rock had dust on it or some other kind of surface coating," he said. "ChemCam saw peaks of hydrogen and magnesium during the first shots that we didn’t see in subsequent firings. This could mean the rock surface was coated with dust or some other material."

With Coronation’s analyses complete, the science team had a chance to pick new targets.

"After Coronation, we got to shoot at a group of ugly-looking rocks in the area named ‘Goulburn,’" Wiens said. "That is one of the areas near the rover that was blasted by the thrusters of the landing vehicle, but these rocks were much farther away from the rover than Coronation, providing a bit more of a test for the ChemCam’s laser."

The ChemCam system is one of 10 instruments mounted on the MSL mission’s Curiosity rover—a six-wheeled mobile laboratory that will roam more than 12 miles of the planet’s surface during the course of one Martian year (98 Earth weeks). The system is designed to capture as many as 14,000 observations throughout the mission.

"We are just jubilant," Wiens said. "This mission is absolutely amazing. Everything is working so well. The same applies to our instrument."

ChemCam’s laser, telescope, and camera were provided by the French space agency, CNES, while the spectrometers, electronics, and software were built at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which leads the investigation. The spectrometers were developed with the aid of Ocean Optics, Incorporated, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory assisted with various aspects of development.

The Curiosity science team plans next to take the rover out for a short spin to test out other systems. As the mission progresses, researchers will study the Martian environment in the vicinity of Mount Sharp, a towering peak with a summit nearly three miles above the rover. Mount Sharp appears to contain layers of sedimentary history dating back several billion years. These layers are like pages of a book that could teach researchers much about the geological history of the planet, including whether the Martian environment ever was, or ever may be, suitable for life as we know it.

ISAF NEWS FOR AUGUST 24, 2012

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Combined Forces Detain Insurgents, Seize Weapons

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release
KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents and seized multiple weapons and ammunition today during an operation to arrest an al-Qaeda associated Taliban leader in the Andar district of Afganistan's Ghazni province, military officials reported.

The Taliban leader acquires weapons and directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the region, officials said.

Two armed insurgents attacked the security force during the operation. The security force engaged and killed both attackers. No civilians were injured in the exchange.
In other news today:

-- A combined force detained several suspected insurgents today during an operation in Logar province's Baraki Barak district to arrest a Haqqani leader who directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Baraki Barak and Pul-e 'Alam districts.

-- A combined force in Logar province's Muhammad Aghah district detained several suspected insurgents today in an operation to find a Taliban leader who, officials said, plans and directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ADDRESSES SECURITY THREATS AND SANCTIONS

Map:  Syria.   Credit:  U.S. State Department
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
 
Smart Sanctions: Confronting Security Threats with Economic Statecraft
Remarks
Jose W. Fernandez
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
San Francisco, CA
July 25, 2012
Introduction
Good evening. Thank you for the introduction. I’m delighted to be in San Francisco and at the World Affairs Council.

I am here to talk about sanctions. Now, I didn’t come into the State Department to get involved in sanctions. I came to support development, promoting American values, and helping U.S. business to compete abroad and create jobs here. But if Clausewitz wrote that "war is diplomacy carried out by other means," my time at that State Department has taught me that sanctions too are a form of diplomacy. And this is nothing new.

Throughout world history, effective diplomacy and statecraft more often than not, required a nation to use its commercial and economic leverage to achieve political and strategic goals. Within this narrow focus, the use of sanctions to exploit that leverage is virtually as old as diplomacy itself. Indeed one of the earliest recorded uses of economic sanctions was by ancient Athens. Pericles ordered all trade between Athens and Megra banned in retaliation for Megra’s support of Sparta. In more recent decades, sanctions were used against a number of countries, such as South Africa for apartheid and Serbia for its actions during the break-up of Yugoslavia. The fact of the matter is that, while there are many carrots that can be offered to countries – development assistance or increased access to markets – economic sanctions is one of the few sticks…short of war.

For the United States, the sticks we use today have evolved from the historic policies of the 20th century that shut out Castro’s Cuba from the global economy, and halted Iranian Oil in 1979 after the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran. These days, our approach is more calibrated. Instead of imposing only wholesale embargos on all of a nation’s trade, our deeper understanding of the many complex relationships, transactions and interactions that make up a nation’s economy enables us to craft sanctions regimes that can focus on certain sectors and actors, which more effectively achieve our goal while avoiding collateral damage. Those targeted measures are what we call "smart sanctions," and that’s what I would like to talk about: how smart sanctions can be an effective foreign policy tool, and how smart implementation of sanctions promotes American economic prosperity and national security.

We start with the reality that there are many foreign policy priorities that will compete with sanctions: negotiating new trade agreements with Korea and Colombia, managing relationships with strategic allies such as Pakistan and Russia, and supporting the transitions in North Africa. So where do sanctions fit within our priorities?

Smart Sanctions

When we discuss smart sanctions, the first question is: "What is our goal?" What are we trying to achieve? Sanctions are generally invoked for one of three purposes: 1) to change a government’s or private actor’s unacceptable behavior; 2) to constrain such behavior going forward; and/or 3) to expose behavior through censure. The goal is to raise the economic cost of unacceptable behavior and denying the resources that make it possible.

Given these goals, what are our available tools? Well, as we ratchet up pressure, sanctions increase and change. At the most basic level, we withhold U.S. government cooperation, such as by prohibiting development assistance. But, this only gets us so far, because most of the bad actors in this world don’t get a lot of assistance. As we move to a higher level, we look to freeze the assets of individuals and governments and restrict their access to the U.S. market or prevent them from receiving visas. Finally, we might also ban exports or imports from countries for certain activities, as in the case of Iran for refusing to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program.

An even more aggressive approach involves the use of "secondary sanctions." These measures act against companies in third countries who do business with a U.S.-sanctioned target, thereby indirectly supporting the behavior of the bad actor. Ultimately, making that institution choose between doing business with a rogue country or operating in the United States.

But at the same time that we consider the optimum sanctions for a given objective, an important element for consideration is how to ensure that sanctions are structured to achieve the desired outcome, while minimizing collateral damage to U.S. and other interests.

This unwanted collateral damage includes investments, economic and trade relations that we want to maintain, and protecting innocent citizens in the targeted country. For example, in Iran, the door is still open for the sale of agriculture products and medicine. Approval was given for NGOs working to empower Iranian women, support heart surgery for children, for consultants on a telecom fiber optic ring, for a lawyer’s association providing legal training, and for a media company that filmed an Iranian election. So our smart sanctions are targeted.

Effective diplomatic leadership is also crucial to effective sanctions. Sanctions are more likely to have an impact when many countries participate. The more global leaders are on board in imposing sanctions, the more powerful the message that certain behavior is unacceptable in today’s world.

So, let’s look at a few recent cases – Iran, Syria, Burma, and Libya – and review our sanctions policy.

1) Iran

Iran’s destabilizing actions speak for themselves: refusal to address international concerns about its nuclear program; defiance of UN Security Council resolutions; support for terrorism, and efforts to stir regional unrest, all present a grave threat to international peace and security. Iran remains one of our top foreign policy and international security priorities.

Smart sanctions have played a prominent role in the success of the Administration’s dual-track policy of pressure and engagement to compel Tehran to address the concerns of the international community over its nuclear program. In fact, senior Iranian officials, including President Ahmadinejad have acknowledged the negative impact of sanctions. The macroeconomic indicators tell the story: the Iranian rial has lost nearly half of its value in nine months, oil exports and revenues are down significantly, and inflation is rampant throughout the economy.

The Administration’s recent actions on sanctions include:
An Executive Order targeting development of Iran’s upstream oil and gas industry and petrochemical sector. This order expands existing sanctions by authorizing asset freezes on persons who knowingly support Iran’s ability to develop its petroleum and petrochemical sector, which is one of Iran’s primary sources of funding for public projects like uranium enrichment.
President Obama also enacted legislation targeting the Central Bank and Iran’s oil revenues. Section 1245 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) places sanctions on foreign financial institutions for significant transactions related to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and designated Iranian financial institutions. As a measure of the successful implementation of the legislation, some 20 countries have qualified for banking exceptions under the NDAA because they significantly reduced their purchase of Iranian crude oil.

In addition, the 27-member European Union implemented a full embargo on Iranian crude oil effective July 1.

The possibility of sanctions has persuaded many firms to discontinue their business with Iran - Total, Shell, Statoil (Norway), Edison International (Italy), and many, many others. In fact, an Iranian official recently admitted that sanctions have led, according to their estimates, to a 20-30 percent reduction in sales of Iranian crude oil. This translates into almost $8 billion in lost revenue every quarter.

Our efforts aren’t limited to oil: as a result of U.S. and multilateral sanctions, major shipping lines have ceased servicing Iranian ports. The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Iran’s major shipping line, and the National Iranian Tanker Company, Iran’s tanker fleet, have had increasing difficulty in receiving flagging, insurance, and other shipping services from reputable providers. This further decreases Iran’s ability to gain revenue.

As we continue to seek progress on the negotiating front, we will maintain unrelenting pressure on Tehran. We know the pressure we are bringing to bear has been vital to getting Iran to the negotiating table. We all have a stake in resolving the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy if we can, and so we will continue our work with countries around the world to keep pressure on Tehran.

2) Syria

Although Iran sanctions continue to produce results, Syria requires a different approach. Indeed, as the death toll rises above 17,000, the Syria crisis becomes graver every minute. There are food shortages. There is a lack of safe access to adequate medical services. Syrian families are fleeing the country and registering in refugee camps in neighboring countries. It is a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

Our goal in Syria is to support a democratic transition that reflects the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. The United States looks to its sanctions toolbox to isolate Asad and deprive him of financial resources that allow him to continue attacking the Syrian people.

Even before the current outbreak of violence in February 2011, the United States had several sanctions programs against Syria as a result of Syrian support for terrorism. More recently, we applied U.S. sanctions through a series of Executive Orders, issued by President Obama, targeting individuals who use information technology to commit human rights abuses, senior officials of the Syrian government, and supporters of the regime such as some Syrian businessmen.

The United States joined with likeminded countries in a multilateral group known as the "Friends of the Syrian People." Through this group, we work with other countries to harmonize implementation of national sanctions regimes and coordinate efforts for implementing a multi-lateral sanctions regime. The work of this group is especially important given some countries have effectively blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for international sanctions.

In the group, we synchronize the individuals and entities targeted by the sanctions, and discuss ways to strengthen sanctions by identifying measures that will impact the Assad regime while permitting legitimate trade to continue to flow.

So far, U.S. and international sanctions have had a significant effect on Assad’s reserves, and are making it difficult for the regime to finance its brutality.

But what happens when sanctions are successful? How quickly do you unwind?

3) Burma

Recent positive developments in Burma, that were unimaginable just last year, led the Administration to implement an innovative approach that eases certain sanctions and incentivizes further political and economic reform. Within the past year, over 500 political prisoners have been released, and the government and several armed ethnic groups (some of whom have been fighting against the government since 1948) have reached preliminary ceasefire agreements. Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi re-registered her party and stood for office in recent parliamentary by-elections. She, along with 42 other candidates from her party, was elected to Parliament in early April.

The Burmese parliament has also taken several steps towards reform, including passing new legislation to protect the freedom of assembly and the right of workers to form labor unions. The government is also taking steps to bring increased transparency to the national budget.

Burma became subject to U.S. sanctions in the 1990s. Those sanctions were not universally emulated by many of our traditional allies. But, our sanctions are credited with helping to persuade Burma’s leadership to reconsider its long-term interests and move toward democratic reform. And now the country is becoming a case study in how difficult it is to be "smart" about easing sanctions. Our sanctions were initially developed before we gave serious consideration to the structure of sanctions and they were not built with an exit strategy in mind. That’s made it more difficult to address the developments of the last year, and it’s been a valuable lesson for crafting future sanctions regimes.

With regard to Burma, even though many of our international partners moved to fully suspend their sanctions, we opted for a different route: We are easing our sanctions, but in a calibrated manner. Even after our most recent easing, we remain vigilant about the protection of human rights, corruption, and the role of the military in the Burmese economy. Our approach aims to support democratic reform while aiding in the development of an economic and business environment that provides benefits to all of Burma’s people.

In forming our easing policy, we were also mindful of the desire for American companies to contribute to improved human rights, worker rights, environmental protection, and transparency in Burma, including the need to improve the transparency of the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), Burma’s state-owned oil company. We sought to do so while working for a broad easing across sectors. And we did something that hadn’t been done before in a license context: we integrated novel reporting requirements into the new investment license. These requirements, which will have a public transparency component, cover issues such as due diligence in protecting human rights and worker rights, and transparency in land acquisition and payments to the Burmese government, including state-owned enterprises. In addition, companies working with MOGE must report their investment within 60 days. The purpose of the public reporting is to promote greater transparency and encourage civil society to partner with our companies toward responsible investment. We want American companies to take advantage of the new opportunities. We think that by allowing them to invest in Burma provides an opportunity to share American values, transparency, and model corporate governance in the country.

Another key element of this policy can be found in the general license. While permitting new investment and financial services, we do not authorize new investment with the Burmese Ministry of Defense, state or non-state armed groups (which includes the military), or entities owned by them. U.S. persons are also still prohibited from dealing with blocked persons, including listed Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), as well as any entities 50 percent or more owned by an SDN. It’s also important to keep in mind that the core authorities underlying our sanctions remain in place. They weren’t terminated, just suspended. This means that back sliding by the Burmese government, or other potential spoilers, on democracy, human rights, etc., can be countered with the appropriate measures.

We took the suspension route because while we are encouraged by the positive steps that President Thein Sein and his government have taken toward a more civilian led and democratic government, concerns still remain. These concerns include the continued detention of hundreds of political prisoners, ongoing conflict in ethnic areas, and Burma’s military relationship with North Korea. Going forward, we hope our calibrated approach results in increased democratic values and economic opportunities, and diminish human rights abuses. But, again, we have also maintained flexibility to further ease, or re-impose, restrictions as necessary. So stay tuned on Burma. We are.

So, let’s look at one of our recent successes?

4) Libya

After suffering from more than four decades of erratic and abusive rule by Muammar Qadhafi, the people of Libya rose up on early 2011. As the Libyan grassroots opposition grew in strength, Qadhafi recognized that his grip on power was threatened. He responded by unleashing the Libyan military on his own citizens.

Working closely with our allies around the world, the United States moved rapidly to support the Libyan people. Our efforts included launching a major economic sanctions program specifically geared to target Qadhafi and his cronies. The program sought to deprive Qadhafi of the resources necessary to sustain his assault, to preserve Libya’s wealth for its people, and to signal to Qadhafi and his allies that they were isolated and their days were numbered. These efforts were on both domestic and multilateral fronts.

Domestically, the U.S. government reached out to U.S. financial institutions to identify assets controlled by the Libyan government, Qadhafi, his family, and their cronies, in anticipation of a new sanctions program, and here we have a pleasant surprise: freezing Libyan assets had a far greater impact than first expected. For example, just one financial institution held assets of over $29 billion; another held almost $500 million in a single portfolio. Freezing these assets substantially constrained Qadhafi’s campaign.

But we do not act alone: just as the United States reacted with unprecedented speed, so too did the international community. The day after President Obama signed the Executive Order to freeze over $30 billion in Libyan assets, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions targeting the individuals most responsible for the violence. As the conflict intensified, the Security Council expanded its approach, imposing further sanctions on key financial and economic institutions, such as the Libyan Central Bank, the National Oil Corporation, and a number of Libyan sovereign wealth funds.

Unilateral and multilateral sanctions, reinforced with intense diplomatic and military efforts, hastened the demise of the Qadhafi regime. Targeted sanctions appeared to motivate Libyan leaders to defect, like the Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa. Broad private sector support in implementing sanctions removed the resources Qadhafi needed to supply his military and pay his mercenaries, and safeguarded the wealth of the Libyan people from Qadhafi and his cronies. Ultimately, this allowed Libya’s people to courageously liberate themselves and begin a new, democratic era. Our goal then became to lead a rapid transition to ease sanctions and help Libya re-open for business.

Last April, I traveled with representatives from twenty U. S. companies to Tripoli. We followed up on U.S. commitments to deepen economic and commercial relations with Libya in the aftermath of Qadhafi. While there, I was met with overwhelming goodwill for the U.S. and appreciation for U.S. leadership in the international operation to protect Libyan civilians against Qadhafi’s regime, and in following through with ensuring the new Libya was on a path to rebound.

Conclusion

Iran, Syria, Burma, and Libya remind us there is no one-size-fits-all sanctions strategy. Sanctions tools have to be flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. From each application of sanctions, we learn a new lesson. What we learned from unwinding the Libya sanctions, we applied to Burma, and will help us as events unfold in Syria.

We’ve seen success in Libya, changes in Burma, and acknowledgement of an impact in Iran. While the results may take months or years to be apparent, we know economic sanctions work. They can be a powerful tool in diplomacy – a stick whose use we are constantly evaluating and working to improve, and to keep smart.

Thank you.

NEWS: Community to bid farewell to deploying Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers

NEWS: Community to bid farewell to deploying Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers

OPERATION FOOTPRINT


FROM:  U.S. AIR FORCE AIR NATIONAL GUARD
Members of the military participating in the Innovative Readiness Training mission Operation Footprint partnered with other local agencies such as Veterans Administration, Southwest Indian Foundation, Navajo Housing Authority, to dedicate the 200th home built to a local Navajo family in Gallup, N.M., Aug. 16, 2012. IRT mission Operation Footprint is an Air National Guard led IRT multiservice mission comprised of active duty, reserve, and National Guard members from Army, Navy and Air Force components focusing on deployment and real-world readiness training preparing for wartime missions in a joint-service environment while simultaneously providing free civil engineering services to the community. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Melissa E. Chatham/RELEASED)

RESEARCH SHOWS BIRDS SUPPORTED BETTER BY PLANTS THAT MIMIC NATIVE VEGETATION


FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

August 22, 2012
Yards with plants that mimic native vegetation offer birds "mini-refuges" and help to offset losses of biodiversity in cities, according to results of a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Native" yards support birds better than those with traditional grass lawns and non-native plantings.

Researchers conducted the study through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 26 such sites around the globe in ecosystems from coral reefs to deserts, from forests to grasslands.

"To a desert bird, what's green is not necessarily good," says Doug Levey, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology. "Arizona birds don't view lush urban landscapes as desert oases. The foraging behavior of birds in greener yards suggests that there's less food for them there than in yards with more natural vegetation."

The research, led by scientists Susannah Lerman and Paige Warren of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Hilary Gan and Eyal Shochat of Arizona State University, looked at residential landscape types and native bird communities in Phoenix, Ariz.

It's among the first to use quantitative measures and a systematic approach--including 24-hour video monitoring--in yards to assess and compare foraging behavior of common backyard birds.

The scientists found that desert-like, or xeric, yards had a more even bird community and superior habitat compared with moist, or mesic, grass lawns.

"We already know that bird communities differ, and that there are more desert birds found in a desert-type yard," says Lerman.

"With this study, we're starting to look at how different yards function--whether birds behave differently by yard type. We're doing that using behavioral indicators, especially foraging, as a way of assessing birds' perceptions of habitat quality between differing yard designs."

Lerman and colleagues conducted the experiment in 20 residential yards at least 1.8 miles apart, making it unlikely that the same birds would visit more than one study yard.

Half the yards were desert-like, while the others had green lawns.

From February through April 2010, homeowners removed bird feeders before and during a 24-hour experimental data collection period.

The researchers set up feeding stations--seed trays--in each yard to simulate resource patches similar to ones where birds feed in the wild. Plastic trays contained 0.70 ounces of millet seed mixed into six pounds of sand. The trays were placed on low stools and left out for 24 hours.

Later, Lerman removed the trays, sifted out and weighed uneaten seed to the nearest 0.01 gram. The amount of seed remaining quantified the giving-up densities (GUD), or the foraging decision and quitting point for the last bird visiting a seed tray.

Trays were videotaped for the entire 24-hour experiment.

The experiment assumed that an animal behaving optimally would stop foraging from a seed tray when its energy gains equal the "costs" of foraging, Lerman says.

Costs include predation risk, digestion and missed opportunities to find food elsewhere.

As time spent foraging at a seed tray increases, so do the costs associated with foraging. When a bird first arrives at the tray, seeds are easy to find, but that gets harder as the tray becomes depleted.

Each bird makes a decision about whether to spend time searching in the tray or to move on to a new patch in the yard.

The "giving up" point will be different for different species and in different environmental conditions. Birds visiting seed trays in yards with more natural food available will quit a tray sooner than birds in resource-poor yards.

Since the method only measures the foraging decisions for the last species visiting the seed tray, the researchers devised a mathematical model for estimating the foraging decisions for all visiting species.

Using the videotapes, they counted every peck by every bird for each tray to calculate the relationship between the number of pecks and grams of seed consumed for each seed tray. This was the GUD-peck ratio for the last species visiting the seed tray.

They then estimated the seed consumption--GUD ratio for all other species visiting the seed tray based on the number of pecks per tray when each species quit.

"We know how many pecks each species had and can put that number into the model and calculate the number of grams at that point," Lerman says. This greatly enhances the GUD method by expanding the ability to assess foraging decisions for all species visiting trays.

In all, 14 species visited the trays, 11 of which visited both yard types. Abert's towhee, curve-billed thrasher (a species unique to the Sonoran desert), house finch and house sparrow were the most widespread tray visitors.

Species that visited trays in both yard designs consumed more seed from trays placed in mesic yards, indicating lower habitat quality compared with xeric yards.

Similarly, foragers in the desert-like yards quit the seed trays earlier due to greater abundance of alternative food resources in those yards, spending more time foraging in the natural yards and less at the seed trays.

Lerman says that by videotaping the trays, counting pecks and measuring giving-up points by species, the research also advanced the GUD method, allowing researchers to disentangle some of the effects of bird community composition and density of competitors, and how these factors affect foraging decisions between two different landscape designs.

The results build upon evidence that native landscaping can help mitigate the effects of urbanization on common songbirds, she says.