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Saturday, June 22, 2013


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel responds during a question-and-answer session with students from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in Omaha, Neb., June 19, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Afghan Government Key to Transition, Hagel Stresses
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2013 - Milestone 2013, which happened June 18 and marked Afghan forces' assumption of the lead in security responsibility for their country, is an unprecedented achievement for the Afghan people, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday.

During a speech in Omaha, Neb., at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Hagel said the milestone
"keeps us on track to responsibly end the war next year in Afghanistan and allows us to transition to a far more limited, noncombat mission to assist the Afghan government as it takes full responsibility for the country's future."

The secretary noted the United States and other nations will continue to engage in Afghanistan and will work with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India "to advance security in that critically important region in the world."

After his speech, Hagel responded to a question about the role of the Taliban in Afghanistan's future. The group has opened an office in Qatar, he noted, and the United States supports that initiative.

"We've always supported a peaceful resolution to the end of the bloodshed in the war in Afghanistan," Hagel said, noting that acceptable conditions are in place for the United States to accept the possibility of a next set of meetings between Taliban and Afghan government representatives.

He cautioned, however, that the Taliban would have to "agree to certain things" before meetings would involve the United States.

"I think it's worth the risk," he added. "But it can't be done without President [Hamid] Karzai, without the government of Afghanistan."

Hagel pointed out that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen attended the Milestone 2013 ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul, representing the 50 member nations of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. Both NATO and U.S. forces have worked to establish stability in Afghanistan for more than a decade, he noted.

"This is really about the people, or it should be -- giving the people of Afghanistan ... rights and freedom to make their own lives," Hagel said.

The secretary noted that as a senator, he was part of the first congressional delegation to travel to Afghanistan after 9/11. "I've dealt with President Karzai right from the beginning," he said. "I've known him since 2001 and have a very good relationship with him. But he represents his government, his people. He needs to do what he thinks is right."

Hagel acknowledged the process is a bit frustrating. "But we have to continue to work at it," he added, and we will continue to work at it."

Afghanistan's future depends largely on a political situation based on peace, Hagel said. If a politically negotiated settlement is possible, he asked, "Isn't it smarter, isn't it worth some risk, if the terms are right, to try to facilitate some agreement here that would ... give the poor people of Afghanistan some opportunity to not to have to live in constant war that they've had to live in for decades?"

U.S. and NATO leaders are cleared-eyed about the possible obstacles to political settlement, the secretary said.

"But I think we have to continue to work it," he added. "And it can't be done without the government of Afghanistan."


An Air Force special operations pararescueman gets hoisted off a ship by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kurt Leisenring during the Emerald Warrior 2013 exercise off Florida's Gulf Coast, April 24, 2013. U.S. Special Operations Command's Preservation of the Force and Family Task Force is implementing a holistic program to promote operators' physical, psychological, spiritual and social performance to support mission readiness. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Quinton Russ
Socom Strives to Boost Operators' Resilience, Readiness

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

TAMPA, Fla., June 14, 2013 - Maintainers across the military take pride in keeping aircraft, vehicles and weapons systems well-oiled and ready to go whenever the mission calls. A major initiative is underway at U.S. Special Operations Command here to better maintain what Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, the Socom commander, calls the most important system of all: the operator.

"Humans are more important than hardware" is the first of the "truths" McRaven espouses for the nation's special operations forces. This fundamental recognizes that what makes the "tip of the spear" so sharp is the education, rigorous training and experience of the operators themselves.

But shortly after arriving at his headquarters in 2011, McRaven received sobering confirmation that the special operations community was in trouble. An extensive study directed by the previous commander, Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, found "the SOF force as a whole was frayed," McRaven told a forum of defense industry representatives and special operators who gathered here last month.

The study revealed that the current operational environment has been more difficult than operators and their families expected, leaving little time for them to adjust to the daily strains of perpetual absences. The study noted troubling consequences, with increases in domestic and family problems, substance abuse and self-medication, risk-taking behaviors, post-traumatic stress, and even suicides.

With continued high operational demands, the fraying continues, McRaven lamented. "I would say, in the last 20 months, the force is fraying at a rate I am not comfortable with at all," he said at the SOF Industry Conference.

So as McRaven implements his Special Operations Forces 2020 vision to posture Socom for the future, he has made "preservation of the force and family" one of the key pillars.

"That is my No. 1 mission," he told the forum. "It is a moral imperative that we do all that we can to preserve the force and care for their families."

While seeking ways to increase predictability in special operations forces' schedules, McRaven has charged what he renamed the "Preservation of the Force and Family Task Force" to come up with innovative, holistic approaches to deal with the pressure on the special operations community.

The task force is working to build performance across four interconnecting domains: human, psychological, spiritual and social, explained Navy Capt. Thomas Chaby, the task force chief.
The idea is not to duplicate programs already being provided through Defense Department and military services, he emphasized. Rather, it builds on them, filling in gaps and increasing accessibility for operators and their families.

"If there was one word you would say the [task force] is all about, it is readiness," Chaby said. "It is all about being ready for our battlefield requirements, and taking care of our people helps them be as ready as possible."

Building resilience in the force helps to set operators up for success, Chaby said, adding, "It's all about building their capacity. It is readiness, readiness, readiness."

Yet the special operations community didn't always recognize that. Chaby remembered his first visit to SEAL Team 3's fitness center in 1990 after graduating from basic underwater demolition/SEAL training. Despite requirements to work in challenging and often unforgiving environments, the SEALs had limited fitness equipment and were basically on their own to figure out the best way to physically train for it.

As a result, many SEALs were injured during missions or while training for them. Chaby has had eight operations since becoming a SEAL, and considers himself fairly representative of his contemporaries.

"Is that the best way to prepare the primary weapon system? Probably not," he said. "There was no thought, science or planning put into [physical training]. The [Preservation of the Force and Family Task Force] is changing that."

Today, Socom has a human performance program designed to meet special operations forces' unique physical needs. It includes training that aims to prevent physical injuries through strength and conditioning, nutrition and physical therapy.

The program also looks at other ways to maintain the body: teaching operators how to mitigate the effects of operational demands through everything from hydration to psychological and social support.

"Putting some thought into it, applying some science, and backing it up with resources is just common sense," Chaby said. "This is a small investment that I believe will reap itself two-, three-, four-, who-knows-how-many-fold benefits."

While paying more attention to operators' bodies, the task force is committed to boosting their psychological strength and resilience, too.

Chaby noted the mental and emotional strain of more than a decade of continuous operations, and the need to do everything possible to mitigate the stressors. So in addition to helping operators develop positive ways to cope, Socom has joined the rest of the military in working to take the stigma out of seeking help.

Gone are the days when operators had to fear getting flagged or having their security clearance revoked if they sought out psychological help.

"It is not like that any more. Now, it's not help against you if you go seek help, and leadership is setting the example," Chaby said. "It's not a negative any more, like it used to be."

Ready access to mental health experts is particularly important in light of Socom's consistently high operating tempos, he noted. "We are so dynamic in our deployment cycles and our work-up cycles that by the time [a scheduled] appointment comes up, you could well find yourself back on the battlefield or training somewhere else and have to cancel it," he said.

So to make services more available and to encourage operators to take advantage of them, the command has started embedding mental health professionals attuned to the needs of the special operations community directly into its units. "The idea is, 'Let's give [the operator] somebody he trusts and feels he can talk to, and let's give him for better accessibility,'" Chaby said.

And to ease operator's transition from the battlefield to their homes and families, Socom now typically sends them to alternate sites so they can talk to a chaplain or psychologist and "decompress" before returning home.

Meanwhile, the Preservation of the Force and Family Task Force is helping operators get in touch with their spiritual sides as well.

Chaby emphasized that what Socom calls "spiritual performance" isn't necessarily about religion. "It could be for some, but that's not what it is about," he said. "It is about spirituality," which he defined as core spiritual beliefs, values, awareness, relationships and experiences.

These elements affect how operators live, the choices and decisions they make, the quality of their relationships and their overall ability to find meaning in life, Chaby said. All ultimately affect their mission performance and their ability to deal with the challenges of serving in special operations.

So the task force has turned to chaplains and the wealth of programs they lead or support to help special operations forces members address their spiritual needs. This, Chaby said, helps to round out a holistic program while directly supporting initiatives to build physical and psychological resilience.

Meanwhile, the task force is exploring ways to boost operators' "social performance" -- the ability to establish and maintain healthy, meaningful relationships, particularly within their families.

The typical special operator is 29 years old for enlisted members and 34 for officers, and is married with two children. Chaby remembered the days not so long ago when Socom gave little thought to family needs. "The mentality was obvious: 'If it's not in your sea bag, it's not our responsibility,'" he said.

That's changed 180 degrees, he reported. Socom now understands that family members have a big say in whether a highly trained, experienced operator will remain in the military. But even more importantly, command leaders recognize that problems at home can distract operators, potentially putting them and their buddies at increased risk and directly affecting the mission.

As a result, the Preservation of the Force and Family Task Force has made a concerted effort to help build "social performance" within special operations forces families. The goal, Chaby said, is to strengthen communication skills and overall resiliency to better deal with the challenges of multiple, extended separations, many that involve sensitive, high-risk and secretive missions.

"We are looking for opportunities to bring families into the equation, because we have found that the more you do that, the stronger they become," Chaby said. "This is empowering them to be part of the team, which in turn increases and improves the readiness of that soldier, sailor, airman or Marine."

Adding up these elements -- improving operators' physical, psychological, spiritual and social performance -- can only result in a better force, Chaby said.

"If each element gives a 1 percent advantage, you end up with a 4 or 5 or 10 percent better operator, capacity-wise, resiliency-wise, readiness-wise" he said. "You start adding these things together, and it makes such a difference."

It all comes back, he said, to the special operations forces truism that people -- operators who are ready to be effective and respond to the demands of the job -- are more important than hardware.

"If you take care of your people, that is the foundation of everything we do. Without them, the hardware doesn't matter and we are going to have mission failure," he said. "You have to have your people ready to go, for whatever the battlefield calls for."

CNO Delivers Naval War College Graduation Address

CNO Delivers Naval War College Graduation Address


Remarks at the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 10th Anniversary Celebration
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
June 18, 2013

Thank you very, very much everybody. What a pleasure to be here. This is a really great celebration. This is special. And if anybody here – I know you’re here because you are touched by it – but what a wonderful thing to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this remarkable intervention that represents the best of the human spirit, and also I think in many ways, the best of American leadership. It’s something we can really be proud of, and we can be possibly not prouder at all of any effort by any individual than the remarkable effort, the amazing job of developing the PEPFAR programs and taking on one of the greatest health challenge crises of our time. I cannot thank enough the leadership of Ambassador Eric Goosby, who has been spectacular in this effort. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

And I want to thank Tatu. Thank you so much for being here with us. I couldn’t be more pleased than to welcome you and your daughter, Faith, here to the State Department. I think you are an inspiration to everybody in this room and to everybody who knows your story, which everybody will learn more of. But you’re a living example of the impact and meaning of this program, and we thank you for coming here to share with us.

Also, when it comes to vision and leadership, I’d be remiss if I did not recognize Dr. Tony Fauci. Tony has been there since the very beginning, and he has taught us all that if we follow the science, we can truly achieve an AIDS-free generation. And I’m not sure there would be a PEPFAR today if it were not for the leadership of Tony, and we owe him all our thanks, so thank you very much. (Applause.)

And I know full well after 29 years on the Hill that without the right senators and congressmen and women behind this kind of effort, it doesn’t happen. And when this started up, it started up with a lot of courage by individuals who were willing to step up. It didn’t exactly have the unanimous consent not only of the people in the Congress initially, but in the country. So I want to thank Senators Mike Enzi and Ben Cardin for their leadership, and thanks for being here today; I know you’re going to hear from them. And I also want to thank my good friend and colleague Senator Johnny Isakson and the other members of Congress who are here. We salute you all for coming and sharing in this celebration, and that is what it is.

Everybody knows that as you look at Congress today, not every day produces the kind of exceptional bipartisan cooperation that created the celebration we’re here to enjoy today. This is one issue where I can happily say that partisanship has really almost always taken a backseat. And in fact, the success of this effort shows what can happen when you reach across the aisle and you do wind up working together.

I want to thank Richard Nchabi Kamwi for – he’s the Health Minister from Namibia – I want to thank him for being here with us today. Namibia has been hugely impacted by this disease, but through the Minister’s efforts, and our partnership with his country, we are seeing extraordinary progress.

And to everyone else here, I know that so many of you here are the stakeholders in this effort and you’ve worked hard on it, and I thank you for what you’ve done and I welcome you here at the State Department on this tremendous occasion.

I want to acknowledge one person who, sadly, is not here today, and that’s Michael Taylor Riggs. Michael was a former congressional staffer whose hard work and dedication helped to make PEPFAR a reality. And as many of you know, Michael passed away last month at the age of 42. And we miss him, and we thank him for his leadership. And while we celebrate today’s anniversary, I think all of us are thinking of Michael as well as the millions whose lives this terrible disease touched: the mothers and fathers who lost children, the children who were left orphaned, the friends and loved ones left behind, the communities that were devastated, from San Francisco to Soweto.

I met a number of these young people who were affected by this disease when Teresa, my wife and I, visited the Umgeni Primary School outside of Durban. And I’ll never forget the visit, walking around these mud huts with a grandmother who was coughing badly from HIV infection, and young kids whose – the only – the gap between them was generations wide. And we saw these orphans who were robbed of their parents, who were forced to take on the burden of adulthood at the age of 13, 14, 15, and caring for their younger siblings.

We were heartbroken at hearing what these children had been through, and you couldn’t help but feel this agony and this total disruption of the way life is supposed to be. But we were also inspired. We saw in their faces the amazing resilience of humanity, and it said something about all of us, and to all of us as well. Because when we all looked lost, when this disease appeared to be unstoppable, history will show that humanity and individual humans rose to the challenge. Action was taken. Innovations were discovered. Hope was kindled, and generations were saved.

The success of PEPFAR, as well as efforts by the entire global community, including the great work done by the Global Fund, represents in truth a victory for the human spirit. And with the Global Fund replenishment happening this year, now is the time for all donors to join with the United States to support and strengthen the fund. The fight against HIV and AIDS shows what we can accomplish when we make the effort together, join hands, overcome the ideology and the politics, and really dedicate our hearts to win.

None of this was easy, and frankly it’s really worth remembering for a moment how bleak things looked at a certain point in time. A decade ago, when the world finally began to reckon with the full magnitude of this crisis, many experts thought it was too late, and with nearly 30 million people infected with HIV/AIDS in 2002, an entire generation seemed lost. When I looked at the enormity of the challenge at that point in time, candidly it was hard not to be overwhelmed to some degree, and perhaps even a tiny bit pessimistic.

But I also felt that we had to do something, and so did many of my fellow senators, I am so happy to tell you, especially Bill Frist and ultimately Jessie Helms. I was proud to serve with Senator Frist as a founding co-chair of the bipartisan HIV/AIDS taskforce, a group that was instrumental in helping us to be able to prepare and lay the groundwork and pass the first AIDS legislation in the United States Congress – unanimously, I might add, in the Senate, thank to Jesse Helms’ and Bill Frist’s efforts – so that that was signed by President Bush in 2003. That translated ultimately into PEPFAR.

This landmark legislation created the world’s largest and most successful foreign assistance program, and today a disease that seemed unstoppable is in retreat. Globally, new HIV infections have declined nearly 20 percent over the past decade. In Sub-Saharan Africa, both the number of new infections and AIDS-related deaths are down by almost one-third over the last decade. Last year alone, PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for nearly 50 million people, and while just 300,000 people in low and middle income countries were receiving anti-retroviral treatment 10 years ago, today PEPFAR is directly supporting more than 5 million people on treatment.

Because of these successes, I am honored to make a very special announcement today, an announcement that we could literally only have dreamed about 10 years ago. Thanks to the support of PEPFAR, we have saved the one millionth baby from becoming infected with HIV. That is a remarkable step. (Applause.)

And as you know, preventing mother-to-child transmission has been a central pillar of our fight against this disease, and just this month we reached the truly landmark moment on the HIV/AIDS timeline. Imagine what this means – one million babies, like Tatu’s daughter Faith, can grow up happy and healthy, go to school, realize their dreams, break out of this cycle, maybe even have sons and daughters of their own, free from the burden and the fear of HIV.

That is not the only good news. I’m also pleased to report that in 13 countries, we have now passed a programmatic tipping point. Today, more people are newly receiving treatment than are newly infected. We are at this point, thanks to the combined and coordinated efforts of all partners in the fight of global – against global AIDS. That is what has brought us to this moment.

But in order for more countries to pass this tipping point and keep going in the right direction, we still need to reach those who are at the greatest risk of HIV infection. That’s why last July, the United States announced the creation of a new $20 million fund to support key populations, people who are too often stigmatized, at risk, and neglected. And that means particularly men who have sex with men, it means people who inject drugs, and it means sex workers. And it’s my pleasure today to announce that the recipients of this funding, Cambodia, Ghana, Nepal, Senegal, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and two regional programs, are going to have the benefit of this going forward.

This has been a decade of remarkable progress, my friends. But obviously, our work is not done. Millions still become infected every year and millions are still dying. But we can now say with confidence something we could perhaps only have dreamed of before, as I said, and that is we can achieve an AIDS-free generation, and that is within our grasp now.

So to get there we’re going to have to stay at it. Under President Obama’s leadership, we have redoubled our efforts. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. now directly supports three times more people on antiretroviral drugs today than we did in 2008.

Where we once saw a situation spiraling out of control, today we see a virtuous cycle beginning to form, with more people receiving treatment and fewer people passing on the virus. Fewer infections means it is now easier to actually focus treatment efforts. And with fewer people sick and dying, we are seeing healthier, more productive populations. That’s the virtuous cycle. The economies of Sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a substantial rate, and a generation is now able to look to the future with hope.

As the progress continues, PEPFAR, over its next decade, will gradually evolve as our fight against this disease evolves, and that is going to happen both by necessity and by design. Achieving an AIDS-free generation is a shared responsibility and it is going to be a shared accomplishment. That is why PEPFAR is working to gradually and appropriately transfer responsibilities to host countries. This means that PEPFAR will shift from merely providing aid to co-investing in host countries’ capacity.

Ten years after this program began, rest assured that the commitment of President Obama, the State Department, myself, this country’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS is as undiminished as our work is unfinished. Our commitment has only been strengthened by the progress that we’ve made and the lives that we’ve saved and this story that we are able to tell today. This story compels us to continue.

What has been achieved here is a lesson for all of us. And I think it is, in fact, a lesson that people should believe in humanity. To never doubt what we can achieve is one of the lessons of today, to know that we can do the remarkable, that we can find solutions to what seems to be unsolvable, that we can overcome the insurmountable and we can leave politics and ideology at the wayside in order to choose life and possibilities for people everywhere.

Because of this faith, because of this program, because of your efforts, because a mother like Tatu could live to see her child grow up to change the world – that is why we will continue

Thank you. Thank you, Eric. Thank you, senators and congressmen and women. And thank you, all of you who have worked at this extraordinary effort. It’s a story worth telling. Appreciate it. (Applause.)


Moore, Okla., June 7, 2013 -- A volunteer demolishes the remains of a destroyed home and will push debris to the street. Volunteers are important partners with FEMA in providing services to the May 20 tornado survivors. George Armstrong/FEMA

Moore, Okla., June 7, 2013 -- Church volunteers from Salt Lake City, Utah work hard to clear debris from this May 20 tornado affected home. Volunteers are important partners with FEMA in providing disaster services to the survivors. George Armstrong/FEMA

Friday, June 21, 2013


Wireless Spectrum Essential to Defense Operations, Official Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2013 - The Defense Department depends on the wireless spectrum for nearly all of its activities, the DOD chief information officer said here today.

Essentially, everything at the Defense Department is connected to the network, Teri Takai told attendees at a Washington Post forum.

In an effort to ensure commanders are fully informed of activities in and around the battle space, the department has moved beyond just wireless voice and data transmission, Takai said. Video now is part of many military platforms, she explained, and that is just one sign of the department's growing need for wireless spectrum.

"The bulk of our training is done in the U.S.," she said. "This isn't just an international use of spectrum. We really are very heavily concentrated -- in terms of the utilization of spectrum -- around all of our [U.S.] bases."

The department needs spectrum in the United States, Takai said. "We do 80 percent of our training here," she noted. "The safety of our men and women overseas is really based on their ... ability to train."

The civilian market is increasingly reliant on wireless communications as well. Many countries, including the United States, already have more wireless connection points -- phones, tablets, hotspots, etc. -- than they have people, according to CTIA, one of the forum's sponsors. As of December 2012, nearly 36 percent of U.S. households were wireless-only, compared to just 15.8 percent in 2007.

The explosive growth of wireless communications has resulted in a shortage of available spectrum for both federal and civilian uses. In response, President Barack Obama last week issued a memorandum establishing a spectrum policy team that will monitor and support spectrum-sharing technologies in concert with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In the memo, federal agencies are tasked with finding ways to enhance spectrum efficiency and free up more spectrum for consumer services and applications.

Defense activities also are becoming heavily dependent on commercial wireless providers, Takai said, so the department naturally is concerned about its spectrum capacity.

Spectrum crowding already happens, said Mary Brown, Cisco Systems' director of technology and spectrum policy, government affairs. "Anyone who tries to use their phone during the rush hour in a big city already begins to experience what life is going to be like if we don't get to work on putting more spectrum out there," she said. Dropped calls and slow or no data connections will become more common, she added.

As government and industry begin to investigate spectrum-sharing scenarios, several challenges emerge, Takai told the audience. Sharing can happen in a variety of ways, she said. For example, spectrum could be shared geographically by being assigned to federal agencies in high-density areas, but used by commercial entities in less-populated areas. Or, multiple users could share the same piece of spectrum at different times, Takai said.

To do that, she said, requires knowing who owns the spectrum, and when and where they're using it.

"I think one of the challenges is there's certainly opportunity for us to do spectrum-sharing in, for example, rural areas, where we don't have the bases," Takai said. "Unfortunately, those aren't the areas where there's the commercial demand."

The next task is developing devices that can use the shared spectrum, she said.

The Defense Department will continue to seek out ways to operate while using the least possible amount of wireless spectrum, Takai said. "That's a challenge, because historically, we have a lot of equipment that uses spectrum in a lot of different ways, so making a change isn't something we can do overnight."

But, DOD recognizes the need to balance national security with consumer needs, she said.

"Even though there may not be a financial incentive for us [to share spectrum], there is an operational incentive, because we have to weigh not only our responsibility to the nation, but also our operational responsibility," Takai said. "I think it's important from a national security standpoint to recognize that we have a certain amount of spectrum that we utilize which is exclusive to us from a national security and an interference perspective."

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

DVIDS - Video - SEAC in England

DVIDS - Video - SEAC in England

DVIDS - Video - Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Remarks

DVIDS - Video - CJCS Remarks


U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgts. Michael Bittner and Gemenie Strehlow talk with Afghan children while providing security in the town of Payan Janqadam near Bagram Airfield, Parwan province, Afghanistan, June 13, 2013. Bittner and Strehlow are assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Group. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ben Bloker


Combined Force Arrests 2 Extremists in Nangarhar Province

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 21, 2013 - An Afghan and coalition security force arrested two extremists during a search for a senior Taliban leader in the Khugyani district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province today, military officials reported.

The sought-after Taliban leader is a subordinate to one of the highest-ranking Taliban leaders in Nangarhar province, officials said. He is responsible for planning, coordinating and executing multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces using large groups of extremist fighters.

The sought-after insurgent also directs the movement of weapons, ammunition, money and other military equipment to Taliban cells operating in Nangarhar province, officials said. The security force also seized a shotgun and 30 pounds of opium as a result of the operation.

In other Afghanistan operations today:
-- A combined force arrested a Haqqani facilitator and five other extremists in the Pul-e 'Alam district of Wardak province. The facilitator managed the transportation and distribution of weapons, ammunition and other supplies to extremist groups operating in the Pul-e 'Alam district. He also participated in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- Combined forces confirmed the death of a Taliban leader, Jilani, during a June 19 operation in the Sayyidabad district of Wardak province. Jilani controlled a group of fighters responsible for attacks on Highway 1 targeting Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces. He also coordinated the movement of weapons for extremist operations and performed intelligence and reconnaissance duties for senior Taliban leaders.

In June 20 operations:
-- Afghan National Army Special Forces of the 4th Special Operations Kandak, advised by coalition forces, killed five insurgents in the Shindand district of Herat province. The insurgents attacked the joint forces as they conducted a presence patrol in the vicinity of Kushe village in south Zereko Valley. Three Afghan troops were wounded in the engagement.

-- Afghan National Army Special Forces, advised by coalition forces, killed three insurgents in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province, and members of the Afghan National Army killed five insurgents in the Khakrez district of Kandahar province.


West Wing Week: 06/21/13 or "What's the Craic?" | The White House

West Wing Week: 06/21/13 or "What's the Craic?" | The White House

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - June 21, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 21, 2013



Marines assigned to I Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, currently attached to combat assault battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conduct an amphibious raid exercise with Royal Thai Marines during exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2013. More than 1,200 Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Thailand. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John C. Lamb (Released) 130610-M-VK320-166

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) departs Changi Naval Base for a patrol in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. Freedom is in Singapore as part of a deployment to Southeast Asia. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Toni Burton (Released) 130611-N-QD718-001

USS Guardian Grounding Investigation Results Released

USS Guardian Grounding Investigation Results Released

European Space Agency United Kingdom (EN) Update

European Space Agency United Kingdom (EN) Update

El puerto de Barcelona

El puerto de Barcelona


USDA Announces Additional Actions to Manage the Domestic Sugar Surplus

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced actions to manage the domestic sugar surplus, as required by law, while operating the sugar program at the least cost to the government. Record-breaking yields of sugar crops and a global surplus have driven down U.S. sugar prices and USDA is required to act to stabilize the domestic market. Today’s actions are designed to manage the sugar program while minimizing federal sugar program expenditures.

First, USDA announced today its intention to purchase sugar from domestic sugarcane or sugar beet processors and subsequently conduct voluntary exchanges for credits under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program. Exchanging sugar for credits reduces imports into the U.S., and is designed to reduce the sugar surplus. It is a less costly option than loan forfeitures. Since not less than 2.5 tons of import credits will be exchanged per 1 ton of sugar, there will be a minimum net reduction of 1.5 tons of sugar in the U.S. market per ton of sugar exchanged, making this a less costly option than forfeitures. USDA anticipates this action could remove around 300,000 tons of sugar from the U.S. market and cost approximately $38 million, subject to sequester, which is one-third the expected cost of forfeitures. USDA will continue to monitor current market conditions and projections to determine if additional actions are necessary.

Second, USDA announced today that licensed refiners now have 270 days—rather than 90 days—to make required exports or sugar transfers under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program. This action increases the pool of available re-export credits, facilitating the exchange announced above. These temporary waivers make no permanent change to Re-export Program rules.

Today’s announcements build on previous actions USDA has taken to stabilize the domestic sugar market. At the start of FY 2013, USDA announced at minimum allowable levels both the domestic Sugar Marketing Allotments and the U.S. WTO raw sugar import tariff-rate quota. On May 1, 2013, USDA announced two waivers of provisions in the Refined Sugar Re-export Program, temporarily permitting licensed refiners to transfer program sugar from their license to another refiner’s license through Sept. 30, 2013, and temporarily increasing their license limit from 50,000 metric tons raw value of credits to 100,000 metric tons raw value of credits, through Dec. 31, 2014.

USDA will closely monitor stocks, consumption, imports and all sugar market and program variables. USDA will also, on an ongoing basis, evaluate the need for use of other tools authorized in the 2008 farm bill, including the Feedstock Flexibility Program.

For additional details on the Refined Sugar Re-export Program changes announced today, please check the Federal Register notice here: Notice of Sugar Purchase and Exchange for Re-export Program Credits; and Notice of Re-export Program Time Period Extension. USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), managed by the Farm Service Agency, will invoke the Cost Reduction Options under the 1985 farm bill to purchase sugar. This CCC sugar will be offered to licensees who have credits under the Refined Sugar Re-export Program.


DOD Establishes Tissue Bank to Study Brain Injuries

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2013 - The Defense Department has established the world's first brain tissue repository to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of traumatic brain injury in service members, Pentagon officials announced yesterday.

The announcement follows a symposium that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel convened, in which a group of senior defense officials and experts in the medical field and from outside organizations discussed advancements and areas of collaboration regarding traumatic brain injury.

"We have been at war for more than a decade, and our men and women have sacrificed," said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "The military health care system is bringing all the resources it can to better understand how to prevent, diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries and to ensure that service members have productive and long, quality lives.

"Our research efforts and treatment protocols are all geared toward improving care for these victims," Woodson continued. "And that will have benefits to the American public at large."

The Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine Brain Tissue Repository for Traumatic Brain Injury was established at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., with a multiyear grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command to advance the understanding and treatment of TBI in service members.

"Little is known about the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury on military service members," said Dr. Daniel Perl, a neuropathologist and director of the brain tissue repository. "By studying these tissues, along with access to clinical information associated with them, we hope to more rapidly address the biologic mechanisms by which head trauma leads to chronic traumatic encephalopathy."

CTE is a neurodegenerative disorder that involves the progressive accumulation of the protein tau in nerve cells within certain regions of the brain. As the tau protein accumulates, it disturbs function and appears to lead to symptoms seen in affected patients such as boxers and, more recently, football players with multiple head trauma.

Defense Department researchers will look at the brain tissue samples to characterize the neuropathologic features of TBI in service members. Important questions to be addressed include "What does blast exposure do to the brain?" and "Do the different forms of brain injury experienced in the military lead to CTE?"

Service members exposed to blasts "are coming home with troubling, persistent problems and we don't know the nature of this, whether it's related to psychiatric responses from engagement in warfare or related to actual damage to the brain, as seen in football players," Perl said. "We hope to address these findings and develop approaches to detecting accumulated tau in the living individual as a means of diagnosing CTE during life -- and, ultimately, create better therapies or ways to prevent the injury in the first place."

"We are learning though the process of discovery the effects of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury, and also how to prevent this issue of chronic traumatic encephalopathy," Woodson said. "The brain tissue repository will enable us to learn even more about how we can treat injuries and prevent future calamity for service members."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hagel: Opening Combat Jobs to Women the Right Thing to Do

Hagel: Opening Combat Jobs to Women the Right Thing to Do


U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopters lift off from former Forward Operating Base Bostik and fly back to Forward Operating Base Wright in Kunar province, Afghanistan, June 5, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brittany Armstrong


Coalition, Afghan Forces Arrest Extremists in Paktia Province

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 20, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested three extremists during a search for a senior Haqqani network leader in the Zurmat district of Afghanistan's Paktia province today, military officials reported.

The Haqqani leader organizes and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and manages supply routes for weapons and equipment.

The security force also seized a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a grenade, six anti-personnel mines, body armor, nine assault rifle magazines and ammunition.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Kandahar province's Panjwai district killed a Taliban leader who produced and distributed improvised explosive devices and facilitated the movement of Taliban weapons.

-- Afghan local police in Kandahar's Panjwai district neutralized four IEDs after seeing enemy fighters planting them. Working from the district's newest checkpoint, local police for the village of Pay-e Maluk have neutralized 12 IEDs over the last week in their daily patrols.

-- A combined force in Wardak province's Sayyidabad district killed two extremists during a search for a Taliban leader who controls a group responsible for attacks on Highway 1 targeting Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces. He also coordinates the movement of weapons and performs intelligence and reconnaissance duties for senior Taliban leaders.

-- An Afghan provincial response company uncovered more than 800 pounds of homemade explosive materials near Wardak's Sra Kala village and arrested a suspect.

ALF 502

John Wargo, lead technician at NASA Glenn's Propulsion System Laboratory (PSL) is performing an inspection on the inlet ducting, upstream of the Honeywell ALF 502 engine that was recently used for the NASA Engine Icing Validation test. This test allows engine manufacturers to simulate flying through the upper atmosphere where large amounts of icing particles can be ingested and cause flame outs or a loss of engine power on aircraft. This test was the first of its kind in the world and was highly successful in validating PSL's new capability. No other engine test facility has this capability. Glenn is working with industry to address this aviation issue by establishing a capability that will allow engines to be operated at the same temperature and pressure conditions experienced in flight, with ice particles being ingested into full scale engines to simulate flight through a deep convective cloud. The information gained through performing these tests will also be used to establish test methods and techniques for the study of engine icing in new and existing commercial engines, and to develop data required for advanced computer codes that can be specifically applied to assess an engine's susceptibility to icing in terms of its safety, performance and operability. Image Credit: NASA Bridget R. Caswell (Wyle Information Systems, LLC)

President Obama Speaks to the People of Berlin | The White House

President Obama Speaks to the People of Berlin | The White House



U.S. Department of Labor awards $20 million to help adult inmates prepare to enter the workforce

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today awarded grants totaling $20 million to provide job training for inmates aged 18 and older participating in state or local work-release programs. The grants are part of the Training to Work-Adult Reentry initiative, which seeks to provide work skills, education, and supportive services to improve the long-term employment prospects of soon-to-be-released inmates.

"The grants announced today will help incarcerated adults build a bridge to their communities and improve their chances of success in life," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. "Through the Training to Work program, the participants have a better chance of attaining employment by acquiring industry-recognized credentials, and as a result are more likely to positively contribute to their communities."

Sixteen grants were awarded to nonprofit organizations around the country. Grantees are expected to help participants obtain high school diplomas (or equivalent) and industry-recognized credentials. The grant programs will focus on in-demand occupations in which ex-offenders are eligible to work within the local communities. These grants require the inclusion of components such as workforce development activities, training leading to industry-recognized credentials, education, case management, mentoring, and follow-up services to help reduce recidivism and lead to long-term success.

Grants were awarded through a competitive process open to nonprofit organizations with Internal Revenue Code 501(c) (3) status and proven success in implementing the key components of the grants in communities with high poverty and crime rates. The grants will cover 39 months, which include six months of planning and 33 months of operation. The funds also must provide for a minimum of nine months of follow-up services for each participant.



Comptroller Offers Glimpse of Post-sequester Options

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2013 - The budget storms assailing the Pentagon are unprecedented, the Defense Department's chief financial officer said here today.

"I've never seen anything like this," Pentagon Comptroller Robert F. Hale told an audience attending the 2013 Defense Communities National Summit, "and I hope we never see it again."

Hale asked attendees how many of them had seen serious effects from sequestration defense spending cuts at their home installations, and dozens of hands went up around the room.

Hale said the across-the-board cuts, costs for the war in Afghanistan that were higher than expected, and continuing resolutions that have in recent years replaced approved budgets have left Pentagon planners unable to make long-term course corrections.

Remaining shortfalls in fiscal year 2013 clearly show "we haven't fully landed this plane," Hale acknowledged, and he warned that 2014 and 2015 could be just as bad.

Cuts to training and maintenance this year will result in future "get-well" costs as the services clear backlogs and retrain members, Hale noted. If Congress passes a budget this year, he added, he's confident defense programs will be funded near the levels President Barack Obama requested. If a continuing resolution again takes the place of an approved budget, however, "we would face the get-well costs without the resources to get well," the comptroller said.

Defense officials, including Hale, have maintained repeatedly that they can save greatly in the long term if Congress allows them to close excess facilities, and the budget request this year again asks for a round of base realignments and closures, Hale noted.

Studies have shown DOD has 25 percent too much infrastructure, all of which is expensive to maintain and operate, the comptroller said. He added that while it's a "significant understatement" to say Congress is reluctant to approve base closures, previous BRAC rounds resulted in ongoing savings of $12 billion per year. Consolidating or closing underused military facilities will be essential to the department's future financial health, he added.

"We need the help of the United States Congress. BRAC is an obvious example," he said, but it's not the only area in which the Pentagon needs Congress to act.

"We need their permission to retire lower-priority weapons ... [and] slow the growth in military pay and benefits," he said, noting "uniform agreement" among the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the department must contain personnel costs.

Hale said results from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's strategic choices in management review -- which has been completed and is now being studied at the Pentagon's highest levels -- will guide spending decisions in the coming years.

Sequestration has been and remains a painful experience, Hale said, but he added that defense managers are learning to identify lower-priority initiatives as cuts increase.

"Some of those decisions shouldn't be reversed. ... As we recover from this long disease called sequestration, I hope we can benefit just a little bit from the cure," he said.

Hagel Discusses 'State of DOD' in Nebraska Speech

Hagel Discusses 'State of DOD' in Nebraska Speech


Oysters.  Credit:  USFW/Wikimedia

World Oceans Month Brings Mixed News for Oysters
In World Oceans Month, there's mixed news for the Pacific Northwest oyster industry.

For the past several years, it has struggled with significant losses due to ocean acidification. Oyster larvae have had mortality rates high enough to render production no longer economically feasible.

Now a new study documents why oysters appear so sensitive to increasing acidity, but also offers some hope for the future.

It isn't necessarily a case of acidic water dissolving the oysters' shells, scientists say. It's water high in carbon dioxide altering shell formation rates, energy usage and, ultimately, the growth and survival of young oysters.

"The failure of oyster seed production in Northwest Pacific coastal waters is one of the most graphic examples of ocean acidification effects on important commercial shellfish," said Dave Garrison, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences.

NSF funded the study through its Ocean Acidification Program, part of NSF's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability programs.

"This research is among the first to identify the links among organism physiology, ocean carbonate chemistry and oyster seed mortality," said Garrison.

Results of the study are online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

"From the time eggs are fertilized, Pacific oyster larvae precipitate roughly 90 percent of their body weight as a calcium carbonate shell within 48 hours," said George Waldbusser, an Oregon State University marine ecologist and lead author of the paper.

"Young oysters rely solely on the energy they derive from the egg because they have not yet developed feeding organs."

During exposure to increasing carbon dioxide in acidified water, however, it becomes more energetically expensive for organisms like oysters to build shells.

Adult oysters and other bivalves may grow more slowly when exposed to rising carbon dioxide levels. But larvae in the first two days of life do not have the luxury of delayed growth.

"They must build their first shell quickly on a limited amount of energy--and along with the shell comes the organ to capture external food," said Waldbusser.

"It becomes a death race of sorts. Can the oyster build its shell quickly enough to allow its feeding mechanism to develop before it runs out of energy from the egg?"

The results are important, marine scientists say, because they document for the first time the links among shell formation rate, available energy, and sensitivity to acidification.

The researchers say that the faster the rate of shell formation, the more energy is needed. Oyster embryos building their first shells need "to make a lot of shell on short order," said Waldbusser.

"As the carbon dioxide in seawater increases, but before waters become corrosive, calcium carbonate precipitation requires more energy to maintain higher rates of shell formation during this early stage."

The researchers worked with Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts Bay, Ore. They found that on the second day of life, 100 percent of the larval tissue growth was from egg-derived carbon.

"The oyster larvae were still relying on egg-derived energy until they were 11 days old," said Elizabeth Brunner of Oregon State University and a co-author of the paper.

The earliest shell material in the larvae contained the greatest amount of carbon from the surrounding waters.

Increasing amounts of carbon from respiration were incorporated into shells after the first 48 hours, indicating an ability to isolate and control the shell surfaces where calcium carbonate is being deposited.

Waldbusser notes that adult bivalves are well-adapted to growing shell in conditions that are more acidified, and have evolved several mechanisms to do so.

These include use of organic molecules to organize and facilitate the formation of calcium carbonate, pumps that remove acid from the calcifying fluids, and outer shell coatings that protect minerals to some degree from surrounding waters.

Waldbusser said that the results help explain previous findings at the Whiskey Creek Hatchery of larval sensitivity to waters that are high in carbon dioxide but not corrosive to calcium carbonate.

They also explain carryover effects later in larval life of exposure to high carbon dioxide, similar to human neonatal nutrition effects.

The discovery may be good news, scientists say, because there are interventions that can be done at hatcheries that may offset some of the effects of ocean acidification.

Some hatcheries have begun "buffering" water for larvae--essentially adding antacids to incoming waters--including the Whiskey Creek Hatchery and the Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington.

The study provides a scientific foundation for the target level of buffering.

"You can make sure that eggs have more energy before they enter the larval stage," said Waldbusser, "so a well-balanced adult diet may help larval oysters cope better with the stress of acidified water."


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

U.S. Department Of State Daily Press Briefing - June 19, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 19, 2013

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President François Hollande of France | The White House

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President François Hollande of France | The White House


U.S. Army Spc. Stephen Zupp takes a defensive fighting position while training to maintain his tactical skills as a member of a quick reaction force on Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, June 7, 2013. Zupp, an infantryman, is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Company C, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown


Combined Force in Kandahar Arrests Taliban Leader

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 19, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader and another extremist in Kandahar City, the provincial capital of Afghanistan's Kandahar province, today, military officials reported.

The Taliban leader is responsible for attacks on Afghan and coalition forces, facilitates the movement of weapons in Kandahar City and the province's Shah Wali Kot district, and manages weapons caches.

The security force also seized an assault rifle in the operation.

In other Afghanistan operations today:
-- A combined force in Kandahar City arrested a Taliban facilitator who procures improvised explosive devices, weapons and ammunition and distributes them for attacks targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He also manages supply routes into Kandahar province. The security force also arrested six other extremists.

-- In Helmand province's Marjah district, a combined force arrested a Taliban leader who controls groups responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also finances local Taliban cells, coordinates ammunition storage and coordinates IED movement and placement. The security force also arrested five other extremists and seized a shotgun.

-- Also in Helmand's Marjah district, a combined force arrested five extremists during a search for Taliban leader who coordinates, directs and executes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also passes strategic guidance from senior Taliban leadership to low-level fighters and facilitates movement of IEDs and other equipment. The security force also seized an assault rifle, four magazines and ammunition.

In operations yesterday:
-- In Herat province's Shindand district, Afghan special forces soldiers killed two enemy fighters who attacked them during a patrol near a local police checkpoint.

-- Afghan special forces soldiers detained five enemy fighters in Kandahar's Maiwand district. The Afghan forces planned and executed the unilateral operation to deny the enemy a safe haven in Chesmeth village.


DVIDS - Video - Women in Service Briefing

DVIDS - Video - Women in Service Briefing

The hurricane getaway plan

The hurricane getaway plan



U.S. EPA Awards $600,000 of Brownfield Grants to Green Bay

(Green Bay, Wis. -- June 11, 2013) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Susan Hedman today joined Mayor Jim Schmitt at the former Tillman Nursery site to announce the award of brownfield grants totaling $600,000 to the City of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to assess and clean up contaminated sites.

"These EPA brownfield grants will be used by the City of Green Bay to assess and clean up contaminated properties," said Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. "The City will use these grants to revitalize blighted areas, stimulate economic development, and create jobs."

"The grants are a great example of local government partnering with the federal government to improve the vitality of our downtown along the Fox and East Rivers, and the Velp Avenue, Webster Avenue and University Avenue corridors," Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said.

EPA awarded a $400,000 grant to Green Bay for environmental assessments in the downtown area along the Fox and East Rivers, Velp Avenue Corridor and Webster Avenue Corridor so that land can be cleaned up and redeveloped.
EPA also awarded a $200,000 area-wide planning grant to Green Bay for the University Avenue Corridor, which runs approximately four miles from the East River to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The EPA planning grant will help the city create plans for brownfields sites to stimulate additional economic development along the University Avenue Corridor. The University Avenue Corridor includes a Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, which is expected to open this summer.

The funding announced today builds on a $400,000 grant EPA awarded Green Bay in 2007 to assess former industrial sites along the Fox River. EPA’s 2007 grant helped create hundreds of jobs, prepare 13 acres for reuse and spurred the development of the Green Bay Children’s Museum, Hagemeister Park Restaurant and the Schreiber Foods corporate headquarters that is planned to be completed next year.



State’s Small Business Exporters, Workers to Benefit from New Ex-Im Partnership with Tennessee SBDC International Trade Center

Washington, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has signed a City/State Partnership with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (SBDC) International Trade Center with a view to bolstering Tennessee jobs by stimulating Tennessee exports.

"Ex-Im Bank’s partnership with the Tennessee SBDC will help keep ‘Rocky Top’ businesses at the top," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. "The partnership will bring foreign markets within reach of Tennessee businesses and support thousands of local small-business jobs."

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) program is headquartered at Middle Tennessee State University and offers 20 locations throughout the state, 14 of which are service centers, five satellite offices, and one an affiliate office. The program is part of the United States Small Business Administration’s largest grant funded service network and provides quality customer service to the small-business community. The Trade Center located at Tennessee State University manages the SBDC Export Assistance Program.

The SBDC Program is designed to provide high-quality business and economic developmental assistance to small businesses in order to promote growth, expansion, innovation, increase productivity, and improve management skills.

Commenting on the importance of the State Partnership with Ex-Im Bank, Patrick Geho, State SBDC executive director said, "From Ex-Im Bank’s Export Credit Insurance to their Global Express Loan, both current Tennessee exporters and new-to-export companies now have the financial keys to access the global marketplace successfully…and we (the SBDC) are committed to helping Tennessee business owners access Ex-Im Bank’s financial programs."

The City/State Partners program seeks to expand access to the Bank's export finance programs to more small and medium-sized business through the help of local, state, and regional economic development and business support organizations.


SBIRS HEO-3 Shipped
Posted 6/18/2013 Updated 6/18/2013

Infrared Space Systems Directorate

6/18/2013 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- The third Space Based
Infrared Systems (SBIRS) Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) payload was shipped
June 12 to the host space vehicle program. The HEO payload is a high-tech
space-based sensor capable of detecting missile launches around the globe.
The payload will be integrated with a host spacecraft and prepared for

Prior to shipment, HEO-3 passed many significant production milestones. The
payload completed Thermal Vacuum Chamber testing March 30, verifying
performance in simulated space environmental extremes. This testing fully
demonstrated that the sensor's performance met or exceeded its predecessor,

The Infrared Space Systems Directorate approved shipping the payload June
11, after completing an extensive series of final readiness reviews. HEO-3
is the first major delivery from the SBIRS Follow-on Production contract,
which also includes the third and fourth SBIRS satellites and an additional
HEO payload.

"I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the joint Air Force
and contractor team, that worked long hours to ensure HEO-3 satisfied all
requirements," said Maj. Eric Neubert, HEO program manager. "The shipment of
this payload meets an important commitment for our production program and
keeps us on track to sustain the unprecedented infrared surveillance
capabilities that we provide to our warfighters and the Nation."

As one of the nation's highest priority space programs, SBIRS delivers
global, persistent, and taskable infrared surveillance capabilities to meet
21st century missile-warning demands and simultaneously supports other
critical missions including: missile defense, technical intelligence, and
battlespace awareness.

The SBIRS development team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate
at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, LAAFB, Calif.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the SBIRS prime
contractor, with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., as the
payload integrator. The 14th Air Force operates the SBIRS system.

Media representatives can submit questions for response regarding this topic
by sending an e-mail to
Get the latest Los Angeles Air Force Base News at
'Space and Missile Systems Center - Building the Future of Military Space

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 18, 2013

Daily Press Briefing - June 18, 2013

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes | The White House

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes | The White House


U.S. Marines and sailors carry an injured Afghan soldier from a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter on Combat Outpost Shukvani in Helmand province, Afghanistan, June 8, 2013. The Marines and sailors, assigned to surgical platoon, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, are members of a shock trauma unit, responsible for providing medical care to injured patients brought to the outpost. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gabriela Garcia
Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Extremists in Paktia Province

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 18, 2013 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force killed two extremists during a search for a senior Haqqani network leader in the Zurmat district of Afghanistan's Paktia province yesterday, military officials reported.

The Haqqani leader controls a group responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and facilitates the movement of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices and components.

Also yesterday, Afghan special forces soldiers, advised by coalition forces, detained five enemy fighters in Farah province's Bala Boluk district.

In Helmand province June 15, Afghan and coalition security forces worked together in three operations that resulted in confiscation of Afghan police uniforms and caches of weapons and explosive materials. Four enemy fighters were arrested in connection with the discoveries. They also are suspected of kidnapping local Afghans for ransom.




Department of Defense Press Briefing with Gen. Dunford from the Pentagon Briefing Room

Department of Defense Press Briefing with Gen. Dunford from the Pentagon Briefing Room



The Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) launches a BQM-74 targeting drone during a live-fire missile exercise as part of the at-sea phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2013. More than 1,200 Sailors and Marines are participating in CARAT Thailand. CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Dille (Released) 130608-N-AX577-071

Gunner's Mate Seaman Yoel Martinez, left, from Miami assigned to the weapons department aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), fires a .50-caliber machine gun from the ship while Fire Controlman 3rd Class Aaron Sousa, from Lincoln, Calif., observes under instruction during a live-fire exercise during the at-sea phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2013. CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Dille (Released) 130609-N-AX577-032



Official outlines challenges in securing DOD communications

by Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

6/13/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The threat of a cyberattack that would disrupt or deny connectivity is one of many information technology challenges the Defense Department faces, the Pentagon's chief information officer said here June 12.

"There's nothing that we do in DOD from the standpoint of mission security that does not rely on connectivity," Terri Takai told an audience of private-sector leaders and government information technology communities at the FedTalks 2013 conference.

Everyone seems to take connectivity for granted, Takai said, but maintaining it requires security measures, and a cyberattack could circumvent those measures.

"We have to think about how we will operate when that connectivity is disrupted or denied," she said.

It's an enormous challenge. With a budget of $39 billion spread across all four military branches and 40 defense agencies, Takai is charged with providing secure communications for the entire military.

"I support over 3.3 million people," she said. "We're located in 153 countries, and many of those countries are a challenge for being able to get connectivity. And then we're probably in more than 6,000 locations all over the world."

In addition to cyber threats, Takai said, the Defense Department's information technology community also must work through shrinking budgets, challenges posed by nations or groups that DOD partners with, and changing missions.

For example, she said, the Defense Department's shift toward the Asia-Pacific region means fewer U.S assets on the ground and more in the air and at sea. This requires new arrangements for a range of communications, including increased use of satellites, both government and commercial.

"It changes the dynamics of the way we look at how we provide communication capabilities," Takai said, and new partners in the region will have to be included in secure communications networks.

"That's a whole different group of countries to work with," she added, "and for me it's a whole different set of countries to be thinking about, 'How am I going to connect in a very secure way?'"



$2 million in funding available from US Labor Department to reduce child labor in Afghanistan's home-based carpet production
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs today announced a $2 million competitive solicitation to fund one or more projects to reduce child labor in the home-based production of carpets in Afghanistan.

One or more qualifying organizations will receive funding to support Afghanistan's efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labor in the production of home-based woven carpets. Each organization selected will partner with at least one company whose source of carpets is from home-based production sites. The project(s) will involve the development and implementation of a sustainable social compliance system for that company's carpet supply chain and establishment of an independent monitoring system to verify its compliance with company standards on child labor.

For children working in home-based weaving workplaces, the project(s) will provide remediation services to support their withdrawal. In addition to social compliance, the project(s) will work to collect reliable data on child labor in the carpet supply chain in Afghanistan and will raise awareness on the dangers of child labor in the carpet industry.

Children working in the carpet sector reportedly start as young as six or seven years old and can work up to 12 hours a day. They suffer from a number of poor working conditions, including exposure to dust from the wool and noxious fumes, resulting in respiratory diseases. Little awareness exists in Afghanistan about the hazards faced by children working in the sector.

Exercise Dawn Blitz: History Made with Osprey Landing on Japanese Ship

Exercise Dawn Blitz: History Made with Osprey Landing on Japanese Ship


Whitebark Pine.  Credit:  U.S. Forest Service/ Wikimedia. 


Whitebark Pine Trees: Is Their Future at Risk?

There's trouble ahead for the whitebark pine, a mountain tree that's integral to wildlife and water resources in the western United States and Canada.

Over the last decade, some populations of whitebark pines have declined by more than 90 percent. But these declines may be just the beginning.

New research results, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published today in the Journal of Ecology, suggest that as pine stands are increasingly fragmented by widespread tree death, surviving trees may be hindered in their ability to produce their usually abundant seeds.

"With fewer seeds, you get less regeneration," says ecologist Joshua Rapp, affiliated with NSF's Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site and lead author of the paper.

Whitebark pine populations vary between producing a high number of seed cones some years, and a low number of seed cones other years.

This variation depends on four factors: male pollen cones, female seed cones, wind and proximity.

Each year, pollen from male cones is carried on the air to fertilize female seed cones perched atop nearby trees.

"In low-cone years, less pollen is released, reaching extremely few female cones," says Elizabeth Crone, senior ecologist at the NSF Harvard Forest LTER site and co-author of the paper.

"But as more and more whitebark pines die, every year becomes a low-cone year."

In isolated pockets of trees, the gene pool is also diminished, meaning the seeds produced may be less viable over time.

"For decades, researchers have struggled to understand why many different organisms--trees, fish, corals, insects--from various habitats reproduce synchronously and at certain intervals," says Saran Twombly, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"By combining field data on seed and pollen production for whitebark pines with models that simulate mature cone production, this study helps to answer that question for these pines."

To reach their conclusions, the scientists had to look back in time.

They inspected branches from seven whitebark pine sites in western Montana, counting the scars left by pollen cones and seed cones.

"All the years with a high number of seed cones had one thing in common: a high number of pollen cones," says Rapp. "The success of the seeds seems to depend on the amount of pollen produced."

Whitebark pine seeds are an essential food source for many animals in mountain habitats.

The Clark's Nutcracker, a mountain bird, can store up to 100,000 seeds in underground caches each year. Squirrels also store thousands of seeds underground.

A diminished number of seed cones has an effect on grizzly bears, the scientists say; the bears regularly raid squirrel seed caches to prepare for winter hibernation.

"In the past, low years for whitebark pine cones have led to six times more conflicts between grizzlies and humans, as hungry bears look for food in campgrounds," says Crone.

"Now, concerns about viability of whitebark pine populations are one of the main reasons grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are still listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act."

Birds, squirrels and bears are not the only species that depend on whitebark pine.

Vast stands of whitebark pine help to maintain the mountain snowpacks that provide water to more than 30 million people in 16 U.S. states each year.

Whitebark pines are often the only trees at the highest elevations. Their branches retain snow as it blows across gusty mountaintops. Their shade moderates snow-melt in the spring, keeping flows down the mountain in check.

A small percentage of whitebark pine trees have outlived the ongoing destruction by pests and disease. These trees are the next area of focus for Crone's team.

"We want to find out whether the surviving trees are still producing cones," Crone says. "They represent the future of whitebark pines."