30 March 2008

Project American Heroes Raises $130,000 to Benefit Armed Forces Community

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Armed Forces Foundation (AFF) is proud to announce that the custom-built 1957 Chevy convertible built under the name Project American Heroes was auctioned off Friday, March 28, at the 6th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auction in Palm Beach, Florida raising $130,000 for The Armed Forces Foundation. The convertible was unveiled at the 4th Annual Armed Forces Foundation’s Congressional Gala on March 5th, in Washington, DC. The proceeds from the vehicle’s sale will be used by the Armed Forces Foundation to directly support members of the military community.

“This magnificent piece of work demonstrates supporters of the military community coming together for a great cause,” said Armed Forces Foundation President, Patricia Driscoll. “The money raised will be used to assist military families facing financial hardships and provide them with the support they so desperately deserve.”

Project American Heroes began last summer when CARS, Inc., of Rochester Hills, MI and the Roadster Shop of Elgin, IL, united with the editors of Super Chevy Magazine to recreate a custom built, classic 1957 Chevrolet convertible. The car is equipped with a Smeding 700 hp, 572 cu in Chevy engine, TCI four speed automatic transmission, Moser posi-traction rearend, Classic Auto Air Conditioning, and complete Heidts/Air Ride suspension system. Armed Forces personnel were invited to select the vehicle’s color scheme, interior design and exterior trim via the Project American Heroes web site (www.projectamericanheroes.net). Super Chevy Magazine covered the project from start-to-finish, which culminated with a special 100-page commemorative Super Chevy issue, “Building the Ultimate ’57.”

“We are thrilled with the participation and enthusiasm over Project American Heroes,” said Super Chevy magazine publisher, Ed Zinke. “We would like to offer a special thank you to our readers for their interest, our partners who contributed their time, skill and materials, and the military personnel who helped determine the final design. Everyone’s contributions made this project a huge success and we look forward to next year’s Project American Heroes 1969 Chevy Camaro.” Super Chevy is published by Source Interlink Media, a division of Source Interlink Companies, Inc.

About Armed Forces Foundation:
In 2001 the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF) was established as a 501(c)3 organization under the U.S. Department of Defense’s America Supports You program. AFF offers vital assistance to active-duty and retired personnel, National Guard, Reserve Components and military families as they cope with difficult circumstances. Through a multitude of programs the Armed Forces Foundation assists military families with utilities and rent; hotel and travel costs; holiday gifts for military children; and therapeutic recreational activities. The Armed Forces Foundation has been recognized by the President of the United States, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Education and the Department of Energy for its dedication to America’s Service Members.

29 March 2008

Former Educator Talks About Honor Flight Fayette

Retired Sandy Creek High assistant principal Dan Lorton returned to his stomping grounds to address students about a project very close to his heart.

Lorton is involved with Honor Flight Fayette, Inc., a nonprofit organization created to honor World War II veterans. The organization flies veterans, at no cost, to see their memorial in Washington, D.C. Fayette's Honor Flight is planned for May 14.

Lorton will serve as a guardian on the trip, helping veterans with their individual needs and ensuring that they have a safe and memorable trip. He returned to Sandy Creek to inform the Air Force Junior ROTC cadets about the program and to challenge them to get involved.

"I am a Vietnam vet. I was fortunate enough to have Delta fly me to the Vietnam memorial. I know how important this is to these guys," Lorton told students.

He challenged the ROTC classes to a friendly competition to raise money to cover the costs of flying the veterans to Washington. It takes $400 to cover the costs for one veteran, which includes airfare, meals and transportation.

Lorton also encouraged students to get up early on May 14 to provide a 6:45 a.m. color guard to honor the WWII veterans as they depart for the airport as well as being there to welcome them back for their return later that evening.

"These veterans are an important part of our history. They were about your age when they went off to fight for the freedoms you enjoy today," Lorton said nearing the end of his presentation. "We are losing 1,200 WWII veterans a day. We need to do all we can to get them to their memorial."

More information about Honor Flight Fayette can be found at www.honorflightfayette.com.

Annual Fundraiser Supports Local Troops

Fayette’s deployed military personnel will soon receive a special gift from the Fayette County School System’s Transportation Department.

Six years and counting, the department has hosted “Cookout for the Troops” to raise money to purchase $50 gift cards for the county’s men and women serving in the U.S. military. Over 300 people attended this year’s event that netted approximately $3,000.

“The generosity and love was overwhelming. I know that our troops have not been forgotten and they know that we support their cause. Thanks to all who helped in any way,” says organizer Linda Mosley.

Fayette residents who have a friend or loved one serving in the military can request to have a gift card sent to their solider by mailing his or her name and address by April 15 to: The Troops, 210 Stonewall Avenue, Fayetteville, GA 30214. Please include a local contact and telephone number.

Each March, the county’s school bus drivers and monitors work countless hours organizing the cookout, going door to door to Fayette businesses soliciting door prizes, raffle prizes and donations. The drivers also provide the food and desserts that are enjoyed by those who attend.
Students in Fayette Middle's after school art class help to promote the fundraiser by participating in a poster design contest. The posters are used as advertisements throughout the school system. Niyal Montgomery took first place this year and won a gift card for her artwork. The entire after school class was presented with cupcakes for their efforts.

Businesses throughout the county generously supported this year’s cookout by donating prizes that included handmade quilts, rugs, jewelry, gift certificates and artwork. Those supporting the event were Autera Health Clinic, Classic Landscaping, Trinity Air, Clearly Fun Soap, Bella Bronze Tanning, Mary Kay, Professional Electrologist Permanent Makeup, Merle Norman, Mike and C’s, Images by Rainey, Oohs-N-Ahhs, Publix 799, Tack Trolley, Andy’s Nursery, Wal-Mart Fayetteville, Petro Flame, Mill Pond Garden, Cookie Express, Concrete Supply, Chick-fil-A, Voltex Batteries, Fleet Pride, JJ Grading, It’s A Grind, ACE Hardware, IHOP, Sandy on the Square, Golden’s, Parker Brothers, Minter Farm, Berry Good Cakes and Hawkins Insurance Company.

26 March 2008

Governor Perdue Presents Georgians’ Donation to Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation

3/11/08 (Almost overlooked this one!)

Governor Sonny Perdue today presented a check on behalf of Georgia taxpayers who have again stepped up to help their fellow Georgians in uniform and their families with a donation of more than $114,000 made to the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.

“I am proud to present this donation on behalf of Georgia’s citizens to support the selfless and courageous men and women, the citizen soldiers, of the Georgia National Guard,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “We cannot overstate the importance of the work they perform, both at home and abroad, helping to keep us safe and defending the cause of freedom around the world.”
Governor Perdue and Department of Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham presented a check for $114,195 to Major General Terry Nesbitt, Georgia's Adjutant General, in support of activities of the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, during a ceremony at the State Capitol honoring the Georgia National Guard.

“Our men and women in uniform can often find themselves in financial difficulties caused by the increased operational tempo of lengthy deployments, numerous exercises, and continuous training that puts a strain both on family and finances,” said Major General Terry Nesbitt. “However, it is reassuring to know that our fellow Georgians recognize these constant hardships and are willing to help.”

The contribution is the result of thousands of individual donations made to the Foundation through a simple check-off box on Georgia state income tax forms. The Georgia Legislature approved the inclusion of this check-off box in 2005. In the first year it appeared on state tax forms, donations to the foundation from taxpayers exceeded $107,000. The Georgia Department of Revenue reports that 98 percent of amounts collected for the Foundation are in $1.00 donations.

“The Department of Revenue is proud to support this extremely worthwhile program that assists the members of Georgia’s National Guard and their families,” said Department of Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham. “We are always ready to assist Guard personnel in any way possible during these times when increasing demands are being placed on them and their families.”

The Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation was established to help families of Georgia National Guard members and other service members in Georgia during times of financial emergency. During 2007, the foundation was able to provide $325,876 in emergency relief assistance to hundreds of families. This was up more than 75 percent over relief assistance in 2006.

Georgia taxpayers once again have the chance to help Georgia service members this year when they fill out their 2007 Georgia State income tax forms by contributing a portion of their state refund using the check-off boxes.

At today’s ceremony, Governor Perdue also presented a proclamation declaring March 11, 2008 as National Guard Day in Georgia in recognition of valuable work performed by the Georgia National Guard. Governor Perdue also commended the National Guard Association of Georgia on its 60th anniversary.

Governor Perdue Accepts $5 Million Workforce Development Grant from U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Chao

Today Governor Sonny Perdue, along with U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, accepted a $5 million Workforce Development Demonstration Grant from U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao to assist with the planned expansion of Ft. Benning and the transitions of Fort Gillem, Fort McPherson and the Navy Supply Corps School.

“Over the years, Georgia has shown its deep commitment to support our military troops and their families,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “This grant will help ensure that Georgia’s bases impacted by the BRAC process continue to be valuable assets for our state.”

The grant provides funding for regional workforce development projects tied to military base transitions associated with the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). Specifically, it will fund two regional initiatives over 36 months:
· Fort Benning: $3 million to develop workforce for industrial construction; automotive maintenance and aerospace advanced manufacturing; and information and communication technologies
· Fort Gillem, Fort McPherson, Navy Supply Corps School: $2 million to transition the workforce at these facilities with a focus on new jobs associated with the life sciences industry cluster

“Georgia was an overall gainer as a result of the BRAC process, and as we continue to adjust to the various changes associated with that process, today’s announcement is welcome news,” said U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The military communities across Georgia make significant contributions to our national security, and I am pleased that this grant will help those receiving new missions as well as those transitioning to new missions. BRAC represents a tremendous opportunity to grow and shape our Georgia workforce and I am pleased that the Department of Labor has seen fit to reward Georgia with these funds to help our communities rise to the challenge.”

“I appreciate the time, energy and funding that Secretary Chao and the Department of Labor have spent on this process,” said U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. “They have recognized both the need for this funding and Georgia’s willingness to properly execute what will be a great economic asset to the state.”

The work-plans for each project are consistent with the Governor’s Work Ready Regions initiative. In Work Ready Regions, multiple counties work together to develop regional talent pools aligned to a common, existing strategic industry. By pooling the strengths of each region, these communities will help their local companies thrive and increase economic development opportunities.

“This grant will transform the workforce from the three bases slated for closure to support our state’s growing life science cluster,” said Governor Perdue. “It will also create a ready talent pool to support the successful expansion of Fort Benning.”

The grant will be administered by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development (GOWD), which worked in partnership with the Atlanta Regional Workforce Investment Board and The Valley Partnership in the BRAC demonstration grant application to the U.S. Department of Labor for funding.

Georgia’s Work Ready initiative, a partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, is based upon a skills assessment and certification for job seekers and a job profiling system for businesses. By identifying both the needs of the business and the available skills of Georgia’s workforce, the state can effectively develop the employee’s skills and match them with the right jobs.

For more information on the Work Ready initiative please visit the Web site at www.gaworkready.org.
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

US Hwy 80 to be Officially Dedicated as Korean War Veteran Memorial Hwy

This Friday, March 28 at 1:30 pm, US Highway 80 will officially be dedicated as the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, honoring all the veterans of that conflict. Ceremonies will take place at the Bibb County Sports Complex in Macon. Guest speaker will be M/Gen Terry Nesbitt, Adjutant General for the State of Georgia. Veterans and state officials from across Georgia are expected to attend. The Department of Georgia of the American Legion has played a key role in securing the recognition of our Korean War veterans with the dedication of this highway, stretching across our state.

Commander Dave Niebes will be leading a caravan of any Post 105 member wishing to attend the ceremony. Weather forecast is sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s. Members should assemble at the Log Cabin in Fayetteville, departing for Macon at Noon sharp, this Friday.

All Korean War veterans from Post 105 attending this event will receive a Korean War Veterans hat pin from the Commander. For those wishing to drive on their own, the Bibb County Sports Complex is located at 2797 Heath Road, Macon, Georgia, near Westside High School off I-475, exit 5.

Contact Dave Niebes, 678-478-6872/cell if you plan to attend or have any questions.

23 March 2008

Clayton State University’s First ROTC Scholarship Awarded

Photo: Douglasville’s Oriskany Carr receives the first Clayton State ROTC scholarship. Left to right: Chuck Waggoner, Dean of the Clayton State School of Nursing Dr. Lisa Eichelberger, Carr, Clayton State Provost Dr. Sharon Hoffman, Kevin Anderson. (Erin Fender photo)
Clayton State University recently welcomed Col. Chuck Waggoner, ROTC Eastern commander, and the new Clayton State University cadre, with a reception that also recognized the awarding of the University’s first ROTC scholarship.

The reception, hosted by Clayton State Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Sharon Hoffman, welcomed the new Clayton State University cadre; Maj. Peter W. Almedia, Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Ricks, human resource technician Sylvia Simmons, and a Gold Bar recruiter.

Waggoner, along with Lt. Col. Kevin Anderson, professor of Military Science at Georgia State University, presented the first ROTC scholarship awarded at Clayton State University to Oriskany Carr (Douglasville).

“I am very excited to come to Clayton State and I am very thankful for the scholarship I have received,” said Carr.

Carr is a senior at Chapel Hill High School and will begin the pre-nursing program at Clayton State fall 2008. Her father is a retired master sergeant.

The Clayton State University ROTC program will begin with the fall 2008 semester and will be initially introduced as a military science (MS) program for freshman and sophomores. The ROTC program will begin as a full partnership program with Georgia State University.

“The goal is to quickly do well and earn an invitation to expand the program to include MS programs for juniors and seniors,” says Dr. Mannie E. Hall., Clayton State director of Academic Outreach. “Finally, it is important to reinforce that Interim Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences Dr. John Campbell skillfully formulated the MS curriculum pieces up to this point, which is much appreciated.”

The value of the new Clayton State University MS program is the availability of the robust ROTC scholarships for Clayton State students who want to become future Army officers.

For more information about the new Clayton State University Military Science ROTC program, contact Hall at manniehall@clayton.edu or (678) 466-5053.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

20 March 2008

Urgent Letter From Christopher Ruddy Publisher, Newsmax.com

Dear Reader:
Two Marines need your help . . . again.

Last year, I wrote to you about the plight of three American heroes, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

The three were under investigation for allegations that they committed atrocities in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005.

When I first wrote to you about these courageous men, they were under Article 32 investigation - the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing.

The hysteria against these Marines was set off by a Time magazine reporter whose only sources were known insurgent propagandists, civilian supporters of al-Qaida, or civilians intimidated by al-Qaida thugs.

On the basis of the Time story alone, and despite the fact that Time was forced to retract parts of the initial story four times, the media across the world reported that the Kilo Company Marines had gone on a rampage.

The Time report claimed Marines had massacred 24 innocent civilians on Nov. 19, 2005, in retaliation for the death of one of their fellow Marines. The Marine was killed by a roadside bomb.

In response to the media charges and those echoed by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and a badly bungled investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), the three heroes were falsely charged with multiple counts of murder.

When we alerted you to this grave injustice, Newsmax readers rose to the occasion. You donated more than $250,000 for the legal defense funds of these Marines.

And your help made a big difference.

At the end of the Article 32 hearings, the presiding military officer recommended strongly that all charges be dropped against the three Marines.

Sharratt was fully exonerated.

But suddenly the Pentagon ignored the findings of the military tribunal relating to Tatum and Wuterich and recommended that these Marines should face courts-martial.

Both are scheduled to go to court in March, with long jail sentences looming.

As you can imagine, the legal defense costs for these Marines have placed an enormous burden on them and their families, and have well exceeded even the $250,000 our readers have donated to their cause.

We have been informed that these Marines are in desperate need of financial resources to continue their legal struggle.

You can help these Marines - Click Here Now.

In a letter to Newsmax, John and Stephanie Tatum, the parents of Lance Cpl. Tatum, expressed their extreme frustration: The government "put on its best case including hearsay written statements from Iraqi civilians and others. The investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Ware (a tough combat veteran and a felony level military judge) who reviewed all of the evidence against Stephen at the article 32 hearing recommended that all charges be DROPPED! He stated that the key government witnesses' testimony was not credible."

In the report on the Wuterich case, Ware wrote: "The evidence is contradictory, the forensic analysis is limited and almost all the witnesses have an obvious bias or prejudice."

Gen. James Mattis, the Marines' commanding general, agreed and dismissed all seven original allegations, including murder charges.

But the Pentagon is continuing to press charges, including manslaughter. As a result, both families face costly trials and the very real possibility their sons will be railroaded on the flimsiest of evidence.

"It is very disheartening and frustrating," Mrs. Tatum writes. "Stephen has not dishonored his country or the Marine uniform that he wears with great pride, dedication, and respect . . . We don't have enough money in our retirement account and equity in our home to come close to covering all these new trial expenses."

Truthfully, these Marine families should not have to pay for political show trials.

But the lengths to which the Pentagon is going to prosecute these Marines is shocking.
You can help these Marines - Click Here Now.

Military prosecutors even sought to keep Wuterich's attorneys from calling a key exonerating witness, Maj. Jeffrey Dinsmore.

One of the reasons the Article 32 hearings had cleared the Marines was the very compelling testimony of Dinsmore, an intelligence officer who had carefully monitored the engagement in Haditha.

Dinsmore kept a narrative complete with photos from an unmanned aerial vehicle, transcripts of radio transmissions from the scene of action, and reports from some of the participants all the way up the command ladder.

Dinsmore's reports proved conclusively that the actions of the Marines were proper and justified in clearing out areas with terrorists.

Nevertheless, a Pentagon prosecutor filed a motion to prevent Dinsmore from testifying. Fortunately, a military judge denied this motion, but the Pentagon's attempt shows how awful the treatment of these Marines has been.

Back to Haditha

We at Newsmax have reported the truth about this case for nearly two years with comprehensive coverage from our correspondent Phil Brennan. We believe a grave injustice has been committed against these hero Marines.

Here is some background on these courageous young men, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

In his first tour of duty in Iraq, Tatum fought fearlessly in the second battle of Fallujah, a small city in al Anbar province north of Baghdad in what is known as the Sunni Triangle.

This battle, in November 2004, was one of the fiercest and bloodiest engagements in the long and proud history of the Marine Corps, and it earned Tatum the admiration and respect of his fellow Marines in the 3rd battalion, 1st Marine Regiment - the storied "Thundering Third."
Tatum was at the infamous "Hell House" fight at Fallujah immortalized in Nat Helms' book "My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story." In this vicious battle, wounded Marines fended off a fierce guerilla attack for almost 24 hours.

In the days before and after that bloody incident, Tatum fought in the terrifying street-by-street, house-by-house fight to cleanse Fallujah of the al-Qaida thugs terrorizing the city.
In his second tour of duty, this time in insurgent-controlled Haditha, Tatum's unit faced an enemy lurking in the shadows among the civilian population, on the lookout for a chance to ambush Marines or kill them with hidden IEDs (roadside bombs) or sniper fire.

On Nov. 19, 2005, an IED exploded under a Humvee, killing driver Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas and wounding two other members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, Lance Cpls. James Crossan and Salvador Guzman.

The surviving Marines then came under fire from two houses near the site of the explosion.
Almost immediately, a white sedan came on the scene and Sgt. Frank Wuterich, mindful of an intelligence briefing that had warned of an impending ambush involving a white car, killed the occupants as they came out of the vehicle and refused to stop when ordered to do so.

A rapid response team arrived on the scene 15 minutes after the IED explosion and the officer in command ordered Wuterich and his men to clear the two houses.

In the course of what became a fierce door-to-door, full-day battle, 24 Iraqis were killed. At least eight insurgent terrorists were believed to be among them. But some civilians were clearly killed in the crossfire.

Despite the loss of civilian life, the military was satisfied that the Marines had acted properly because of Dinsmore's meticulous work in chronicling the engagement with video and radio reports.

Dinsmore's reports proved conclusively that the actions of the Marines were proper and justified.

Months later, in March of the next year, wild allegations began to surface that these Marines knowingly massacred innocent Iraqi civilians. Time magazine followed with its report.

Since then, these Marine heroes and their parents have been living a life of total hell.

You can help these Marines - Click Here Now.

Of course, the legal defense costs for these Marines have placed an enormous burden on them and their families.

One defense lawyer estimated that by the time the courts-martial are over, the Marines - defenders of freedom, who have limited incomes and resources - will have incurred legal expenses amounting to $500,000 each.

That's why we are asking our readers to help these brave young Marines with their legal defense costs. You can do so by Going Here Now.

We will be forever indebted to the heroic young men and women who serve to protect us in Iraq. They do not deserve to be tortured with criminal allegations and overwhelming financial burdens.

Heroic Americans

Let me tell you about these young men whose extraordinary heroism and exceptional service to their country have been rewarded with totally unjustified charges of murder.

Lance Cpl. Tatum hails from Oklahoma City, Okla. He graduated from the Putnam City public schools, playing sports in grade school followed by football in high school.

His parents say Stephen has always had a positive attitude, and was well liked by his teachers and friends.

Stephen, they told Newsmax, is a religious young man who enjoys going to church with family and friends. He always wanted to be a Marine and has served his country with great pride, honor, and dedication.

Staff Sgt. Wuterich was an honor student in Meriden, Conn., an active sportsman who played the trumpet in the school band, and performed with the drama club.

While still in his senior year of high school, Frank enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
For the past eight years, he has been an outstanding leader with many decorations and commendations.

Ironically, before being charged with murder, he had been recommended for the Bronze Star for the very actions at Haditha that resulted in the charges.

Frank is married to Marisol, a nursing student. They have three children.

They Need Your Help

These courageous Marines need your help and they need it now. They've earned it and deserve it.

You can show your support for these great Americans by Going Here Now.

We are so strongly behind these Marines that Newsmax has made $15,000 in donations to help their legal defense funds.

To make a donation, send your gift to the Haditha Heroes Fund at Newsmax or Click Here Now, and we will divide your donations between these two funds equally.

Newsmax will send all donations - every penny - to the aid of the Marines. Newsmax will even pay all the credit card processing costs that will incur.

Help us show America's appreciation for these fine young Marines and their selfless service to our country - Click Here Now.

Thank you.
Christopher Ruddy
Editor, Newsmax.com

19 March 2008

Gene May Help Explain Stress Disorder

CHICAGO - Groundbreaking research suggests genes help explain why some people can recover from a traumatic event while others suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Though preliminary, the study provides insight into a condition expected to strike increasing numbers of military veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, one health expert said.

17 March 2008

'Pease Greeters' Get Presidential Thanks for Supporting Troops

Six New Hampshire volunteers committed to making sure deployed troops get the sendoffs and homecomings yesterday found themselves on the receiving end of the thanks they regularly extend -- from the commander in chief himself and others on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon.

Six "Pease Greeters" are spending their second day in the nation's capital after getting honored for their work yesterday by President Bush in the White House Oval Office, New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu on Capitol Hill, and defense officials at the Pentagon.

The president offered personal thanks to the Pease Greeters, who shower deploying and redeploying soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with applause, handshakes and snacks as their aircraft refuel at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, in New Hampshire. "He thanked us for what we are doing and told us that it's important for Americans like us to show appreciation to and support the troops," said Edmund Johnson, a Korean War veteran who co-chairs the group. "It was a tremendous honor for all of us!"

The greeters started almost three years ago as a band of veterans from the Marine Corps League of New Hampshire who met incoming flights from overseas. Since then, their numbers have swelled into the hundreds, and the Pease Greeters haven't missed a single inbound or outbound flight, Johnson said.

As many as 200 greeters gather to provide boisterous heroes' welcomes to returning troops and encouragement to those headed overseas.

The greeters range from young schoolchildren to feisty, 87-year-old Anna Labrie, many driving as much as 100 miles to greet flights any hour of the day or night, Johnson said. They assemble within an hour's notice, hoisting banners, snapping photos and offering hugs along with coffee, pizza or treats baked by the group's "cookie lady," Kelly Eaton.

Just before the troops reboard their aircraft, group chaplain Hank Page offers a prayer for their protection. "I feel I have to do this. It's a duty," said Page, a Korean War veteran. At 73, Page said he's too old to fight himself, but young enough to offer any support he can to those going off to war. "Being able to say a prayer for these guys is so humbling," he said. "It's a very emotional experience."

Page bristles when he thinks back to the reception troops received when they returned home from Vietnam. "While there's breath in my body, that's not going to happen -- not at Pease, anyway," he said.

Al Weston, maintenance manager at the airport, said he "got hooked" on greeting troops the first time he volunteered to help. "You get caught up in it all, seeing (the Pease Greeters) in their bright, red suits clapping and cheering," he said. "When (troops) walk away from here, they know that people care."

Just before troops leave, the Peace Greeters render a sharp salute, recognizing those they say are continuing the tradition of military service. "We talk about warriors as a brotherhood," Johnson said. "We tell them that we're the old warriors, supporting them, the new warriors, and offer them our salute in recognition of what they're doing for our country."
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

14 March 2008

Review Panel Recommends Military Pay Changes

The 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation has suggested a new way of measuring military pay, proposed that more money be spent on special and incentive pays, and recommended restructuring the basic allowance for housing.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jan D. "Denny" Eakle -- former deputy director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service -- chaired the commission and briefed the media on the recommendations yesterday.

This was just the first release of the review, Eakle explained. A second volume, covering retirement and quality-of-life aspects of compensation, will be released in the summer.

Eakle said that whenever a QRMC convenes, the first question it examines always is whether military pay is comparable to pay in the private sector. The second is whether military pay is adequate to maintain the force, she said.

The 9th QRMC, released in 2002, concluded that for pay to be comparable, it had to be at or above the 70th percentile of the age- and education-matched civilian population, Eakle said. Military pay followed this guidance through 2006, and targeted pay raises in 2007 and 2008 ensure DoD exceeds the 70th percentile for enlisted personnel. Officer pay exceeded this goal in 2006 and has kept pace since then, she said.

Eakle said the current review studied whether the comparability formula is adequate. "Basically, what we wanted to do is create something which would give military members a better means of assessing how their pay stacked up in comparison to civilians," she said.

Regular military compensation was the measure used in previous QRMCs. This included basic pay, subsistence, housing and a measure of savings on federal income tax. "But there's a lot more to military compensation," she said.

The new system begins with regular military compensation and adds state and FICA tax advantages. Military personnel also do not pay out-of-pocket health care costs, such as co-pays, she explained, and all these folded into the panel's calculations. The new measurement is called military annual compensation, and it sets the 80th percentile as the standard for military compensation comparability with the private sector. Pay for enlisted personnel and officers meets this standard, Eakle said.

Congress revamped the special incentive pay categories from more than 60 to eight, Eakle said. "That, in fact, was a recommendation of this QRMC, and it was enacted before the publication of this document, Eakle said. "And so now it's up to the department to begin the process of drafting out the instructions to adopt this."

The review recommended increasing the size of the special and incentive pay budget. "Today we have an S&I budget that, quite frankly, is rather small in comparison to the size of the other pay accounts," she said. "And because of that, it doesn't give the service as much flexibility for arranging pay."

The review examined the basic allowance for housing and a previous recommendation to do away with the without-dependent housing rate. The review also proposed changes to the partial-BAH program.

Because some single servicemembers are making as little as 52 percent of the pay their peers who have families receive, the QRMC recommends raising that floor to no less than 75 percent at first, and to 95 percent over time. But the gap between married and single BAH should not disappear, Eakle said.

"What we have determined is that if it were completely closed, we would in fact then be over-compensating the singles, because of the difference in things like utilities and insurances," she explained.

The review did recommend changes for singles living on post or aboard ships. "Today, a young man or woman who is living in the barracks (or) living on a ship forfeits their entire housing allowance for doing that, and we don't think that that's necessarily the most equitable way to operate," Eakle said.

The proposal is a new variable, partial BAH based on the value of the quarters the servicemembers occupy. The DoD standard is a one-plus-one dormitory -- meaning each individual having a bedroom and a shared cooking facility and bathroom. "That's very much like sharing a two-bedroom apartment," Eakle said. "And so for those people, we think that the BAH that they are giving up is actually pretty close to what they should be paying for it."

For those living with three roommates, the review believes they are overpaying for their accommodations by forfeiting their entire housing allowance, and "we would recommend that they get a rebate on their BAH."

"The range we are talking about is going from zero for people in the one-plus-one dormitories, up to a 25 percent rebate for those who are living in ships with hot-bunk arrangements," she said. "So you'd be able to give people something in recognition of the fact that housing is not at the DoD standard."

The review also recommended staying with time-in-service pay tables. A previous commission, the Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation, recommended replacing the time-in-service pay table with a time-in-grade pay table. This would reward pay for performance, the commission members believed.

"We looked very seriously at this recommendation, but we've chosen not to accept it and are not going to endorse the change," Eakle said.

She said it would exacerbate pay differentials, adding: "We don't think that's in keeping with our spirit of being fair and equitable to all members."

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

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'Why We Serve' Speakers Connect with College Students

Three veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan arrived unannounced yesterday on the University of Cincinnati campus to lead classroom discussions with about 250 students and shed light on their military lives.

As students sauntered into a lecture hall early yesterday morning for what they thought would be a lesson on European history, many were surprised to find the uniformed servicemembers standing in for their familiar, tweed-coat-clad professor.

"At first I thought they were coming to try and recruit people," freshman history student Rose Barrett told American Forces Press Service.

But what followed were presentations by three of 10 military members participating in the Defense Department's "Why We Serve" outreach program, which places military speakers before audiences at venues across the United States.

"I just want to start by saying that we're not recruiters," Marine Chief Warrant Officer Daniel K. Winnie, decked out in "dress blues," told students as he opened his remarks. "As a matter of fact," he continued, "if you ask me a question about it, I'd tell you that Iraq sucked at different times."

Winnie went on to share with students an anecdote from Nasiriyah, Iraq, where amid a particularly fierce gunfight with insurgents aboard a stolen bus, the Marine frantically worked to free a comrade's vehicle that was entangled in a metal briar patch of concertina wire.

Just as Winnie snapped through the last barbed-wired strand, he slipped and fell into a bed of slimy mud. The bolt cutters he was using fumbled from his hands and gashed his face. Meanwhile, gunfire from the busload of enemies whizzed over his head.

"So now I'm bleeding, laying on my back in the mud, and some (expletive) is shooting at me from a bus," he told the audience, drawing laughter. "Then my digital watch beeps to tell me that I'm 30 years old."

Winnie said he was at the end of his rope that night, until his gunner and driver surprised him. The battle buddies had constructed a crude birthday cake for him, made from cracker crumbs, granola and hot chocolate mix, and placed the makeshift tiding in a plastic military-issue meal wrapper.

"They stuck a match in it and sang me 'Happy Birthday,'" said the Marine, who hails from Everett, Wash., his voice imbued with the camaraderie that buoyed his spirits while many miles from home. "And that is the best birthday I've had, ever."

Yesterday's panel was hosted by history professor Tom Lorman, who for the second consecutive semester yielded the lectern to servicemember speakers. To maintain the presentations' spontaneity, Lorman had not promoted the speakers' appearances around campus, nor had he informed his students in advance about the visit.

The professor's pupils arrived to his regularly scheduled courses, expecting to hear lectures on the Napoleonic Era or the French Revolution. But as one bleary-eyed, coffee clutching latecomer discovered, yesterday's history lesson -- co-taught by Iraq war veteran Marine Capt. John N. Sand -- would cover the age of howitzers and hellfire missiles, not bayonets and bastilles.

Sand, whose steely, blue-eyed gaze projects a sense of inborn leadership, began his presentation by showing a video clip of the Battery T, 5th Battalion, 10th Marines under his command loading and firing 155 mm mortars from an M777 lightweight howitzer.

From March through October 2007, Sand served as the battery commander for his unit at Camp Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar province. The unit was responsible for providing fire support and mounted security patrols for Regimental Combat Team 6.

During Sand's deployment, his battery fired 1,300 artillery rounds -- which can hit a target up to 18 miles away and create a blast the size of half a football field -- and provided some 500 mounted security patrols for explosive ordnance disposal teams and Army engineers.

But none of these, in the 38-year-old Marine's eyes, is the most vital statistic of his seven-month deployment.

"The thing I'm proudest of is that I left the U.S. with 131 Marines, and I returned with 131 Marines," he said.

Although he returned without having suffered loss of life, limb or Corps member from his 131-Marine unit, Sand touched on the sacrifices he did make while in Iraq.

He played a whirlwind slideshow, scored by a poignant rock tune, which showed students the everyday scenes that lay before Sand while he was deployed. A photograph of a convoy rolling along a dusty Anbar province highway dissolved into snapshots of smiling Iraqi children clamoring for the camera's attention.

From a picture of an artillery piece in action, the slideshow jumped to Sand's Marines surrounding visitor Katie Couric, CBS Evening News anchor, the armor-clad entourage standing against a backdrop of rising minarets.

Tucked into the seams of the presentation by Sand, the father of three daughters, were two photos that the Ottawa, Ill., native subtitled, "What I missed." The picture with the caption "Isabella's first soccer game," shows Sand's second-oldest daughter, dressed in shin guards and cleats, on a bright green patch of grass.

The other photo, "Ainsley's first birthday," captures his youngest daughter, her diapered rear end planted in her mother's lap, attempting to blow out a single birthday candle.

"You don't think about the faces or the number of families that are affected," said Barrett, the freshman history student. "I think the (speakers) made everyone respect them more by helping us understand what they go through in their personal experiences."

Before joining the Air Force ROTC program, Air Force Capt. Edward Szczepanik thought his 75-mph curve ball would earn him a free ride to college. He was wrong. Szczepanik then hedged his bets on academics, hoping that decent high school grades would merit a scholarship. He was wrong again.

"I'm thinking, 'How am I going to do this? I don't want to be in debt when I graduate school,'" the engaging Szczepanik recalled to students. "'What are my options here?'"

It was then that Szczepanik's high school guidance counselor suggested Air Force ROTC. The elderly woman, he recalled, said the only requirements for earning full tuition from the Air Force were "putting on your little costume once a week and running around."

"I said, 'I'd pretty much do anything once a week if you're going to pay me my entire scholarship,'" he said, as the audience laughed. "'I'd dress up like the school mascot and stand in the middle of the road directing traffic once a week.'"

Szczepanik continued to regard his ROTC commitment with some levity until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred during his junior year at the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio.

"I remember I was in my bedroom when I saw the two planes crash into World Trade Center, and it became very real that I wouldn't be doing four years (in the Air Force) in a U.S. city then get out of the military. I'm probably going to be overseas," he recalled. "I thought, 'If I'm going to be overseas and I'm in the Air Force, I'm going to be flying something while I'm over there.'"

Since graduating from college, Szczepanik has completed two years of undergraduate pilot training, flown 900 hours in a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft -- 200 of which were combat hours -- and about 100 combat sorties, including dangerous missions over Afghanistan. The Columbus, Ohio, native, now 27 years old, also has traveled to more than 30 countries across the Middle East, most of Europe and parts of the South Pacific.

"The reason I got in was for financial reasons; I needed the scholarship. But the reason I stay in is for guys like this," said Szczepanik, pointing to the fellow military speakers onstage. "And I stay in for the guys that I fly with every day, who have become my brothers."

Daniel Glenn, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati who teaches a course called War and the Modern World, said the "disconnect" between civilians and servicemembers has grown since the draft ended in the 1970s. He praised the "Why We Serve" participants for appearing before students on campus.

"I think the speakers put a face on military service," he said. "It gives the opportunity for students to ask the deeper questions you're not going to get from a 30-second commercial on what military service means."

History student Jennifer Sturlock said she was enthusiastic when she discovered the troops would lead her course.

"I was pretty enthused about it. It's not often that you get to talk to one soldier, let alone three," she said. "I like to get all sides on an issue so I can make own decision, so I think it's important to have a mix of opinions."

Gary Staub, a graduate student of history, said he enjoyed hearing individual accounts from the first-hand observers on the frontlines.

"These guys have lived it, so they're going to have their own personal impressions," he said, "but at least you're going to hear what's really going on."
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11 March 2008

Progress Continues in Anbar Province Amid Reduced Violence

A month into his third tour in Iraq, the commander of Multinational Force West said today he's amazed by vast improvements across Anbar province, with a sharp drop in violence and continued progress among Iraqi security forces.

"It's stunning to me how low (violence levels) are," Marine Maj. Gen. John F. Kelly told Pentagon reporters from a videoconference center in Baghdad.

"When I left here three years ago, you could not go into the cities -- Fallujah, Ramadi, places like that -- without a rifle company of Marines, and it was a gunfight going in and a gunfight going out," Kelly said.

It was impossible to make the 40-mile drive between Ramadi and Fallujah without seeing four or five improvised explosive devices or their results, he added.

Three years later, gunfire is a rare sound in the region, except on Thursday nights when Iraqis hold wedding celebrations, Kelly said.

Al Qaeda has been beaten back in the once-restive region to the point that its operatives have gone underground or fled to other parts of Iraq, he said.

But Kelly said he recognizes that the threat remains and that al Qaeda hasn't given up. "They're down, but they're not out," he said.

"It's stunning to me where we are on this, but it is not over yet, in terms of violence," he said. "We have to be vigilant, because it's not quite won yet."

Terrorists have changed tactics, going after Iraqi sheiks, police officials and civil leaders, rather than Americans, Kelly said. Suicide vests have become a weapon of choice, with nearly a dozen such attacks during the last month. And some signs point to plans to launch "bigger events that catch the attention of the world through the media," he said.

As offensive operations flush al Qaeda out of other Iraqi provinces, Kelly said, he recognizes that terrorists are likely to return to Anbar province, a region they know.

If they do, Kelly said, the situation they'll confront will be far different from what they left. The Iraqi people have become partners in cracking down on terrorists, reporting their activities and whereabouts, he said.

Iraqi security forces have made strong headway, and the 1st and 7th Iraqi army divisions operating in Anbar are among the best. "I probably sound like a proud parent here, but they are two very, very good divisions relative to the overall Iraqi army," Kelly said.

The United States made a tremendous investment to make them that good, embedding large, seasoned Army and Marine Corps training teams with the Iraqis, he said. "They live with the Iraqis 24/7, fight with them, eat with them, shower with them. It's an around-the-clock event for them," Kelly said.

The U.S. also invested heavily in the quality of its training teams, staffing them with experienced senior noncommissioned officers and officers, he said. "These are all first-round draft choices," Kelly said.

As a result, the Iraqis are not only partners in nearly all coalition missions, but are carrying out many on their own, he said.

The Iraqi police have made similar progress, with 23,000 on board and another 1,000 authorized. Kelly said he hopes to see that number boosted to 30,000, "because the police have really come on strong and given us an advantage out there."

Police transition teams are helping the Iraqi police the same way military transition teams are helping the Iraqi army, he said.

With security improvements continuing, the coalition in Anbar is working hand in hand with provincial reconstruction teams to promote development, Kelly said. The priorities are electricity, "a constant;" clean water, "a relatively good-news story;" jobs; and agricultural development, he said.
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Soldier Receives Bronze Star for Heroic Actions

Photo: Army Sgt 1st Class Michael Loetz, of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, is awarded a Bronze Star Medal for Valor for rescuing an Afghan truck driver during an ambush in eastern Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Hendrix, USA

Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Loetz recently received a Bronze Star Medal for Valor for saving the life of an Afghan truck driver in 2007.

The story behind the rescue is both harrowing and heartwarming.

The Distribution Platoon of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, had just taken over combat logistics patrol operations and were taking a load of ammunition to troops in the Korengal Valley on May 30, 2007.

"I took over a platoon with a lot of brand-new privates with no experience," said Loetz, a 37-year-old native of Charleston, S.C. "The roads hadn't been improved at all. We were almost tearing the doors off the trucks because it was cliff on one side, rocks on the other."

Distro platoon's mission is to take vital supplies to locations where supply helicopters can't get to. It will often use the services of area Afghan drivers and their rugged vehicles nicknamed "jingle trucks." Loetz's platoon delivers ammunition, mail and everything in between to warfighters in these hard-to-reach locations. It's a dangerous drive into the Korengal Valley.

"We got hit going up the road. It was just small-arms fire, but the jingle truck in front of me got hit," Loetz said. A firefight ensued, and the Afghan driver of the truck in front of Loetz got out and crawled underneath the truck for safety. "We talked the driver out from under the vehicle (after suppressing enemy fire), got him back in the truck and continued on," Loetz said.

At the top of the hill where the load of ammunition was to be dropped, Loetz talked with the Afghan driver and told him that as long as he stayed with the platoon on the way back down, he would make sure that the driver got to the bottom in one piece.

Then the worst happened.

"We got hit by an (improvised explosive device) on the way back down," Loetz said. "At least three (rocket-propelled grenades) hit the side of the cliff below my truck, and at least two hit the rock wall above it."

The jingle truck in front of him took some small-arms fire, tearing up its front end. "At that point, we were separated from our lead element, and we couldn't drive around the jingle truck on that narrow road," Loetz said.

Loetz's gunner was laying suppressive fire with a .50 caliber machine gun. "I said, 'the hell with it,' and I got out of the truck and went and grabbed the jingle truck driver," Loetz explained. "He was hiding under the rear axle of his truck trying to avoid getting hit again."

Despite the hail of gunfire, Loetz put his own life in jeopardy, snatched the Afghan driver and threw him in the backseat of the Humvee.

"He had no way to protect himself and no way to defend himself. I had already promised him that we would take care of him," Loetz said. "You just don't go back on a word like that. I knew that if I didn't get him, he would stay right there and die."

The next step was to get the platoon back together and move down the hill. "I was thinking that I needed to move the jingle truck just enough to get my vehicle around it," Loetz said. "There was just no room. So, I pushed it off the cliff."

Trying to push the truck off the cliff with a Humvee was not feasible because of the possibility of damaging their ride out of the valley. Loetz pushed the truck so that it would roll off the side of the cliff. The jingle truck tumbled more than 100 feet to the valley bottom.

Army Lt. Col. William Ostlund, commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, talked about seeing the event unfold from the battalion operations center on Camp Blessing. "I remember very well, watching the video feed and watching as the truck rolled over the cliff, thinking that it was one of our trucks and it took the breath out of me," Ostlund said.

On the road, Loetz was getting his convoy back together. "We were still taking small-arms fire, and I got back in my vehicle and we were assessing the situation. By that time, Company A had moved into an over-watch position and locked on the opposite side of the valley," Loetz said.

The coordinated suppressing-fire effort gave the distribution platoon the chance to get out of the kill zone and down the hill to safety.

Ostlund recounted getting the good news that Loetz's convoy had gotten out of the valley safely. "We got word that not only did we not lose any soldiers from (Company F), but we didn't lose an (Afghan) either. The local population is our center of gravity. We need to maintain the love and affections of the population and protect them. And if we put them at risk and don't do everything to protect them, we're really not doing what we're supposed to be doing here," Ostlund said.

The lanky platoon sergeant from whom those brand-new privates had learned a valuable lesson said only: "It's what you train for."

Author Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Hendrix is assigned to 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
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09 March 2008

Chrysler Revs Up Troop Support Efforts

The company that made inspiration standard has done the same with its support of the nation's troops since before World War II.

Chrysler recently announced it has become a corporate supporter of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program, which connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

"The mission of America Supports You merges perfectly with the legacy Chrysler has of supporting the military and their families for decades, said Bob Nardelli, the auto maker's chairman and chief executive officer. "Beginning with our Jeep products carrying troops in World War II and continuing with our initiatives today, Chrysler has remained committed to the well-being of the men and women who wear the uniform and their families."

Chrysler not only has built many vehicles specifically for the military, but also has provided financial support to many military programs, including the construction of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. More recently, it has worked with troop-support groups to help them further their missions.

"What's terrific about the Chrysler involvement in America Supports You is that it's the perfect model," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison. "It's a company with a long history of supporting military members, (and it's) now partnering with two of our America Supports You home-front groups, Freedom Foundation and Operation Gratitude."

The company recently announced a new partnership with Freedom Calls Foundation. The foundation's mission is to connect troops deployed in Iraq and their families at home through video teleconferencing.

Chrysler has opened its video teleconferencing facilities at the company's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters so families can schedule time to talk "face to face" with their loved ones serving overseas.

The company also provided Operation Gratitude with two vehicles for recipients of milestone care packages. The keys to the vehicles were included in the organization's milestone 250,000th and 300,000th care packages, and the recipients claimed their new vehicles upon their return from service in Iraq.

Additionally, more than 1,800 Jeep dealerships across the country serve as collection points for donated care-package items for Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude and Freedom Calls Foundation are both home-front supporters of America Supports You.

It's more than the fact that the company supports the military that impressed Barber, however. It's how Chrysler has found ways to keep that support relevant, as with one of its new programs.

"The third terrific piece about this is that they're looking to train and hire returning veterans," Barber said.

As troops transition out of military service, many are looking for career opportunities that provide growth, acceptable wages and stability, company officials said. The car-maker is working with its 3,600 dealers to make that possible.

It will begin offering servicemembers leaving the military the opportunity to connect with one of those dealerships and be considered for employment.

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
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Odierno, Other Leaders Support 12-Month Army Deployments

The former commander of Multinational Corps Iraq emphasized the need yesterday for longer "dwell time" between Army deployments to reduce the strain on the force and give soldiers more time for training. Video

Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who left the No. 2 coalition post in Iraq in mid-February, told Pentagon reporters he supports plans to shorten Army deployments from 15 to 12 months to reduce wear and tear on the force.

"What we're trying to do is get more time back between deployments," Odierno said. Troops now typically get a 1-to-1 balance between dwell time and deployments, returning from a 12- to 15-month deployment and heading back 12 to 15 months later, he noted.

Ideally, the Army would like to see that changed to 2-to-1: two years at home between one-year deployments.

"We're not close to being there yet," Odierno said. "But that's the kind of metric I think we want to look at."

More time between deployments would give soldiers and their families a welcome reprieve, but Odierno emphasized that dwell time doesn't equate to a year of "sitting home every night."

"You're out training and doing a lot of other things" to prepare for the next deployment, he said.

"That's why we want to extend that time," he said. "We'd like to have a bit more time to reintegrate units (and) to spend more time on our equipment."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced in April that the Army was extending all deployments for troops serving in the U.S. Central Command region. The move was critical, officials said, for the Army to be able to sustain 20 combat brigades in Iraq required to support the Baghdad security plan. The troop surge called for five additional brigades in and around Iraq's capital city.

Army Lt. Gen Carter F. Ham, operations director for the Joint Staff, shared Odierno's and other defense leaders' sentiments during a Feb. 25 Pentagon news conference. Getting the Army back to 12-month deployments "is a very, very high priority," he said.

Ham said it's premature to say that change will happen by July, to synchronize with the drawdown of surge forces in Iraq. "But that's being studied very, very hard," he said, not only by commanders on the ground, but also at the direction of Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, and at U.S. Joint Forces Command.

Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee late last month the cut in deployment times could come sometime in the July timeframe, after the Army reduces in Iraq to 15 brigades. That troop reduction supports recommendations of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, who also recommended a temporary pause before decisions are made about additional reductions.

"If General Petraeus is able to execute the announced plan of getting to 15 brigades by July, it would be our goal at that point to return to 12 months," Casey said during his Feb. 28 testimony to Congress. "We believe it will still be possible, even with a pause, to go from ... 15 months to 12 months."

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told military analysts Feb. 15 he supports such a move, noting that the military stands at a delicate balance between the mission and the health of the force.

"I'm anxious to get out of 15-month deployments as soon as I can and get it down to 12 months," Mullen said. "Fifteen months is too long. Part of it for me was I was in the military during Vietnam, when we did one-year tours and that was a long time."

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Clayton State University’s Lou Brackett Quilts for Military Wounded

Clayton State University’s Lou Brackett, along with other members of the Tara Quilt Guild (TQG) of Clayton County, recently sent off seven war time quilts.

“We try to do a philanthropic project each year and this year we decided to make quilts for the Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOVF) who sends quilts to wounded service members and veterans,” explains Brackett, an assistant professor of Office Administration in Clayton State’s College of Professional Studies.

This is the second round of quilts sent through the QOVF by the TQG which hopes to send more. Brackett’s personal goal is to send at least two more quilts.

“Each quilt comes labeled with the name and city of the quilter and place for the recipient’s name. It also includes a hand written note from the quilter and it is all placed in presentation bag,” says Brackett. “I really enjoyed making the quilt and I truly hope whoever receives the quilt likes it.”

In previous years, the TQG has made quilts for Project Linus, donated quilts to Scottish Rite/Eggleston Hospital, and auctioned or raffled quilts to raise funds for local animal shelters and breast cancer research.

“One of our ongoing projects is preemie quilts for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Southern Regional Hospital. You wouldn't believe how small some of those quilts are,” says Brackett.

The guild works to teach and pass on the art of quilting. The guild has members of all ages, abilities and always welcomes new members.

The Tara Quilt Guild of Clayton County meets on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at Morrow First United Methodist Church. For more information, contact Brackett at loubrackett@clayton.edu or (404) 766-7167.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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08 March 2008

'New Breed' of Soldiers Graduate in Afghan Army Ceremony

CAMP CLARK, Afghanistan, March 7, 2008 - A graduation ceremony for a new breed of Afghan National Army soldiers was held here Feb. 27 as a sign of a renewed shift of focus to the part of the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan that doesn't involve combat.

Newly graduated Afghan National Army Information Dissemination Operations soldiers hold their certifications after the graduation ceremony at Camp Clark, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2008. Photo by Spc. Micah E. Clare, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

More than 30 Afghan army 203rd Corps soldiers graduated from a 14-day course called Afghan Information Dissemination Operations course, or AIDO, where they learned skills useful for dealing with media, taking population surveys, engaging face to face with local leaders, providing humanitarian aid and conducting loudspeaker operations.

"The information age has changed the face of war," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Kramer, a mobile tactical trainer from 324th Psychological Operations Company. "Now these AIDO soldiers are trained and able to go out and tell the Afghans the truth that the (Afghan government) and security forces are for the civilians and their safety."

Most of the soldiers who volunteered for service in Information Dissemination Operations already had experienced protecting the people they serve as Afghan army infantrymen, Kramer explained. "We expected them to be mature soldiers," he said.

They also had to be able to read and write fluently in either Dari or Pashto, the two major languages of Afghanistan, to be able to interact with their country's ethnically diverse population.

Interacting face to face with this population is an important part of winning them over, Afghan Col. Sayed Waqifshah, the religious and cultural advisor to 203rd Corps, said.

"The soldier's job is to fight the enemy," he explained. "This doesn't always mean shooting them. While all AIDO soldiers are good fighters, fighting is what tears us as a people apart. It is much better for us to go to our people and talk with them first."

The soldiers' final training task was to handle a humanitarian-aid drop to area residents, where they proved their proficiency and dedication to their new job.

"These classes were a necessity," Shaw said. "AIDO will be a great asset to the ANA and the future of Afghanistan."

Author Army Spc. Micah E. Clare serves with the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.
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07 March 2008

Petraeus Describes Factors Affecting Assessment

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, March 2, 2008 - The top military commander in Iraq gave some insight today into what he will consider as he prepares to report to the president and Congress in April on the way ahead.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, spoke with reporters accompanying Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is visiting the country.

The security trend lines all are favorable, the general said. "Attacks have continued to go down. We've had a five-month period consistently of a level of attacks we've not seen since spring of 2005," he said. "This past week was the fourth-lowest since October 2004."

Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker will explain why they believe attacks have come down when they report to President Bush and Congress.

The general said he is encouraged by the statistics and what he sees around the country. "In fact, the level of attacks has come down in recent weeks below a level we thought might be the 'irreducible minimum,'" he said.

Petraeus said he also will consider the progress Iraqi security forces have made. "The Iraqi surge of 2007 was well over 100,000," he said citing the growth of the nation's army and police force. "Added to that is the 90,000 Sons of Iraq – the concerned local citizens – who have added considerably. (These forces are) substantially 'thickening' our forces."

The general said he also will consider Iraqi civilian deaths in formulating his recommendations. "If your focus is on securing the people, then it is a metric you have to pay attention to, and we do," he said.

Crocker will lay out the developments in the political arena and describe the laws that have passed over the past couple of months. The ambassador will talk about the potential for provincial elections in the fall and describe the economic situation, Petraeus said.

The general said he will lay out his recommendations "for the process by which we'll go about assessing conditions in the wake of the drawdown of the surge brigade combat teams." The drawdown of the original surge forces is set to end in July. He said he will explain the factors he will consider in making recommendations on subsequent withdrawals.

The way ahead in Iraq will not be easy, the general said. "Each day something bad happens," he said. "(But) the relative degree of the bad news tends to be less."

The number of car bomb attacks has dropped, but there is a slight increase in suicide-vest attacks. Al Qaeda is having a tough time building car bombs and then getting them through checkpoints, Petraeus explained, but suicide vests are transportable and are now being handed to women.

The command has already drawn down a brigade combat team and a Marine expeditionary unit. Another brigade combat team will leave the country this month. Petraeus said the command will "thin out" coalition forces as this occurs, and "not just hand off an area completely to Iraqi forces."

"We will maintain a sufficient footprint with an adequate, generally substantial, Iraqi force of police and soldiers," the general explained. "It provides situational awareness and a link to the enablers that we can provide – indirect fire, close-air (support), medevac, quick-reaction forces and so on." The idea also maintains a fusion cell for intelligence.

"Obviously, as we draw down, (the Iraqis) have to pick up more of the responsibility, and that is the case," Petraeus said.

Al Qaeda remains the biggest threat, and over time coalition and Iraqi forces have killed, captured or run off substantial numbers of the terror group. But there is still a lot of work to do in the Diyala and Tigris river valleys, and in Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul and surrounding Ninevah province.

"We are going after al Qaeda relentlessly wherever they are, and wherever we can find them, we put our teeth into their jugular," Petraeus said.

Mosul is an important place to al Qaeda. "Analysts have said that while Baghdad is critical for al Qaeda to win in Iraq, Mosul and its area is critical for their survival," the general said. Recent successes notwithstanding, Petraeus warned, a "final battle" with the terrorist group is not imminent.

"Al Qaeda is incredibly resilient," he said, "and they are receiving people and supplies through Syria – although numbers through Syria are down as much as 50 percent."

Coalition and Iraqi forces will take on al Qaeda in the north, but will do so on their timetable and according to their plans, the general said. He will not start shifting U.S. and Iraqi forces willy-nilly around the country.

"The key is to hang on to what you've got," he said. "You cannot, in your eagerness to go after something new, start to play 'Whack-a-mole' again. You have to hang onto the areas you've cleared; you have to have that plan to do before you go."

Coalition forces are moving to Mosul and Ninevah, but Petraeus said he will not risk losing gains made in Baghdad, the belts around Baghdad and in Anbar province to do so.

"Al Qaeda is trying to come back in," he said. "We can feel it and see it, and what we're trying to do is rip out any roots before they can get deeply into the ground."

The bottom line militarily in Iraq is a "feel" for the country and the determination of what constitutes an acceptable risk, the general told reporters. "At the end of the day, it's about feel," he said. "We have commanders in most cases on their second tours in Iraq, some on their third. Over time, you can start to feel where you can take a bit more risk and also where you cannot.

"You have to walk the streets, talk to the leaders, talk to your own commanders and then you bat it around every day," he said.

Petraeus said he doesn't feel any anxiety over his decisions.

"If you want to talk about anxiety, talk about coming back to Iraq in February 2007 and being greeted by 42 car bombs," he said. "The level of attacks was more than 150 a day, and our losses were exceedingly tough."

With so much chaos in the country, it was hard just trying to get a handle on where forces needed to go, the general recalled. "We've worked our way through that," Petraeus said. "These additional concerns are very serious, but we're working on those with the Iraqi government."
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06 March 2008

Honor Flight Fayette VP Speaks to PTC American Legion Post 50

3/6/08 (9:09 p.m.) Vice President of Honor Flight Fayette, Mark Buckner, spoke recently to Peachtree City American Legion Post 50 regarding the foundation's scheduled May 14th trip to the nation's capitol, which will be a free day trip for the WWII veterans who are going on the flight... More

Honor Flight American Legion

05 March 2008

Korean War Hero Receives Posthumous Medal of Honor

President Bush today presented the Medal of Honor to the family of the late Army Master Sgt. Woodrow Keeble, the first full-blooded Sioux Indian to receive the nation's highest military award, for heroism during the Korean War.

Keeble, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, was honored during the presentation ceremony at the White House for risking his life to save his fellow soldiers during the final allied offensive in Korea.

When war broke out in Korea, Keeble was a 34-year-old master sergeant serving with the 24th Division's 1st Platoon, Company G, 19th Infantry Regiment. He'd joined the North Dakota National Guard in 1942 and already had earned the first of his four Purple Hearts and his first Bronze Star for actions on Guadalcanal.

Keeble volunteered to go to Korea, saying that "somebody had to teach those kids how to fight," Bush said today. "And that's what he did," serving as a mentor, teacher and legend to his soldiers, he said.

The division was serving in central Korea in October 1951 when it was called to take a series of mountains protecting a major enemy supply in the town of Kumsong. Operation Nomad-Polar was the last major United Nations offensive of the war.

U.S. casualties mounted as enemy soldiers barraged them, fortified by three pillboxes containing machine guns during ferocious fighting over a six-day span. Keeble's officers had all fallen, so he continued the assault with three platoons under his leadership.

Despite extensive injuries himself, with 83 grenade fragments in his body, Keeble defied the medics and took matters into his own hands. On Oct. 20, 1951, he charged the hill solo. Armed only with grenades and his Browning automatic rifle, he shimmied across the ridge, singlehandedly eliminating one pillbox after another as he dodged a barrage of enemy fire.

"As Woody first started off, someone saw him and remarked, 'Either he's the bravest soldier I have ever met, or he's crazy,'" Bush said at today's ceremony, eliciting laughter. "When Woody was through, all 16 enemy soldiers were dead, the hill was taken, and the Allies had won the day."

Only after Keeble had taken out all three pillboxes and killed the machine gunners did he order his troops to advance and secure the hill.

"Woody Keeble's act of heroism saved many American lives and earned him a permanent place in his fellow soldiers' hearts," the president said.

His actions set an example, not just for his own soldiers, but for the ages, Bush said. "If we honor his life and take lessons from his good and noble service, then Master Sergeant Woody Keeble will serve his country once again," he said.

Although every surviving member of his unit signed a letter at the time recommending Keeble for the Medal of Honor, the paperwork was lost twice, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross instead. Keeble was honorably discharged from the Army in 1953, always maintaining his Army ties and championing veterans and their causes.

Keeble's family took up the battle to upgrade his award to the Medal of Honor. Today, Russell Hawkins, Keeble's stepson, accepted the award on his behalf, almost six decades after his gallant actions and 26 years after his death.

Bush apologized today for the long-overdue presentation of the award and thanked those who had pressed for it. "I want to thank you for carrying Woody's banner to the Pentagon and to the halls of Congress," he told them. "You did the right thing."

"We are just proud to be a part of this for Woody," Hawkins said in a statement released by the Army when the White House announced in February that Keeble would receive the award. "He is deserving of this, for what he did in the armed services in defense of this country."

Hawkins called the presentation a victory not just for his family, who had pressed to see him honored, but also for the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe and North and South Dakota. "We are all extremely proud that Woody is finally receiving this honor," Hawkins said. "He epitomized our cultural values of humility, compassion, bravery, strength and honor."

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Carrie McLeRoy of the Army News Service contributed to this article
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Mullen Calls Security Progress in Iraq 'Undeniable'

Security progress in Iraq is undeniable, but it is fragile and must be sustained, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters traveling with him to Iraq that the trip was a chance for him to see progress for himself, to talk with Iraqis of all stripes, and to interact with U.S. servicemembers bearing the heaviest burden.

"There is so much going in the right direction that is tied to better security," Mullen said. "The level of violence being down has allowed the Iraqis to focus on the development of their security forces as opposed to focusing on where the next bomb is going to go off."

The chairman walked through the Dora neighborhood of Rashid district March 1 and took a similar walk through the main market street in Hawija yesterday. During both "battlefield circulations," he spoke with Iraqi shoppers, shop owners and community leaders. He met Iraqi security forces and with representatives of concerned local citizens groups.

"You can see that security is dramatically improved, but the security environment is tenuous," the chairman said. "It is going to take a sustained period of time to make sure that security will strengthen itself."

The chairman noted progress in bringing Iraqi police forces up to speed. "I was here in October, and there was great concern about the development of the police," he said.

After a visit to a police academy in Kirkuk yesterday, and talks with U.S. officials, he said, he came away encouraged by the police progress.

"Probably the biggest take-away for me was how much we've done to improve the security environment (and) the opportunity that is there; and yet it is fragile, delicate and tenuous," he said.

He said people he spoke with talked about needing the central government to reach out to local and provincial governments. "They weren't vicious about it, but they do want that to happen," he said. "Iraqis pointed out to me on several occasions on the need for that and their concern that it hasn't taken place."

The chairman walked the streets to gather information for his assessment on the way the U.S. effort in Iraq should move forward. U.S. military and diplomatic leaders will provide their assessments of progress in Iraq to the president in April and will present him with their recommendations.

Mullen and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will examine the situation in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, but will also assess the situation globally.

"It is not my intent to make tactical recommendations on what we should do," he said. "Having an understanding of where we are on security, having and understanding of where we are in terms of political progress, having an understanding of where we are in terms of the economy -- it all feeds in (to the evaluation)," he said.

"As a result of this visit, I am more optimistic than when I got here," he said. "That's frankly why I come, because I worry about the assessments we all make in Washington from teleconferences.

"What I see on the ground is very, very positive, but it is fragile, and it is going to remain fragile," he continued. The United States must be committed for "a significant period of time" until the Iraqis can take the lead countrywide.

"There is not an exact date, I can't quantify it specifically, but there isn't anyone here who doesn't want the Iraqis to take control as soon as they can," he said. "The concern is that if they assume control too early and they are not prepared for it, it will flip back to the way it was, and it will flip pretty quickly."

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
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Camp Eggers Dedicates Building to Fallen Airman

Fellow airmen, as well as soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilians, gathered to dedicate the Gillespie House here yesterday to honor a fallen airman.

Air Force Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie, a fuels specialist assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., was deployed as the embedded training team senior mentor with the Afghan National Army's 207th Corps at Camp Zafar in Herat. He died July 9, 2007, of wounds suffered from enemy small-arms fire.

The 44-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo., native joined the Air Force in 1983 and filled more than eight different mission-critical assignments during his career, including Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, where he was recognized as the Fuels Flight's noncommissioned officer of the year for 1999. During his last assignment at Luke Air Force Base, Gillespie and his crew were named the Air Force's best fuels management flight for 2005.

"As you can see, Master Sergeant Gillespie lived the Air Force core value of service before self," Army Maj. Gen. Robert Cone, commander of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, said at the dedication ceremony. "His fellow airmen have described him in a word as 'awesome,' a professional in every sense of the word. He took incredible pride in mentoring Afghan National Army personnel."

During the ceremony, Air Force Capt. Jennifer Mack sang the national anthem and the Air Force Song. "It was an honor to take part in his remembrance," she said.

A plaque displaying Gillespie's biography, accomplishments and names of his family members will adorn the new Gillespie House, which serves as living quarters for servicemembers stationed here.

Over the years, Gillespie earned a collection of medals and awards, and he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

Cone read a letter from Gillespie's widow, Lisa Gillespie, who wrote, "He truly was a special man, ... and I so very much appreciate the remembrances and the tributes you are putting in place for him."

"Randy was a very nice, approachable guy. He definitely had an impact beyond his rank," said Air Force Col. Frank Heinsohn, who trained alongside Gillespie at Fort Riley, Kan., while preparing for his recent deployment.

"He will be remembered for his service to his country and his contributions to a democratic Afghanistan," Cone said.

Author Navy Seaman Timothy Newborn serves with the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.
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Afghan, Coalition Forces Disrupt Taliban Networks

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2008 - Several insurgents were killed and 14 suspected insurgents were detained during coalition forces operations conducted yesterday and Feb. 29 to degrade Taliban leadership networks in Afghanistan.
Coalition forces searched compounds in the Garmsir district of Helmand province yesterday during an operation targeting a Taliban commander responsible for facilitating foreign fighters and weapons smuggling operations. Several insurgents were killed when they fired on coalition forces. Coalition forces found and detained four individuals with suspected links to Taliban networks as they continued their search.

Coalition forces also recovered several weapons, ammunition vests and hand grenades that were destroyed to prevent further use by militant forces.

During a separate operation in the Qalat district of Zabul province yesterday, coalition forces detained four individuals associated with a Taliban commander responsible for attacks along Highway One. One of the detainees also is associated with Taliban and foreign fighter facilitation operations, officials said.

Afghan National Security and coalition forces detained six suspected insurgents Feb. 29 during a joint operation targeting a Taliban commander with ties to Taliban support networks and weapons operations in the Deh Chopan district of Zabul province.

The detainees from the operations will be questioned on their involvement in Taliban operations as well as other extremist activities.

"Coalition forces operations to degrade the Taliban's leadership are bolstering ongoing efforts to solidify the stability and security of Afghanistan," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition forces spokesman.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

Coalition Captures Bomb Facilitator, Detains Terror Suspects

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2008 - Coalition forces in Iraq captured an alleged homemade-bomb facilitator with ties to al Qaeda in Iraq today, and detained numerous other terrorism suspects in a variety of recent operations, military officials reported.

The alleged facilitator reportedly is involved in a network supplying explosive materials to the leader of a central Baghdad al Qaeda network, and also is believed to be a close associate and relative of the Bizayz terrorist network's leader, officials said.

In addition to the wanted individual, the ground force detained nine other suspected terrorists in the operation.
In other operations around Iraq today:

-- Coalition forces detained a terrorism suspect on the west side of Baghdad while targeting an associate of a senior al Qaeda leader.

-- In Sharqat, coalition forces conducted operations targeting two alleged leaders of the city's al Qaeda network. The ground force captured one of the wanted suspects, who reportedly served as a leader in the Beiji al Qaeda network and led an assassination cell in the region. In addition to the wanted individual, the ground force detained five other suspected terrorists.

- Coalition forces captured an alleged leader of an Iranian-supported "special groups" criminal militia early today in the Numaniyah area, south of Baghdad. He reportedly was involved in attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in Kut. Three other suspected criminals also were detained.

In news from Iraq yesterday:

-- Coalition forces positively identified the two terrorists killed during an operation Feb. 27 in
Mosul as Jar Allah, also known as Abu Yasir al-Saudi, and Hamdan. Abu Yasir al-Saudi, a Saudi Arabian national, was the southeast Mosul emir for al Qaeda and led a foreign terrorist facilitation network in the city. He conducted numerous attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, including an improvised explosive device attack Jan. 28 that killed five coalition soldiers. Hamdan, also a Saudi Arabian national, was a close associate of al-Saudi and part of his network of foreign terrorists in Mosul. Hamdan was involved in coordinating the movement of foreign terrorists into Mosul, and led a regional anti-aircraft ring.

-- In east Mosul, coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists while targeting associates of Jar Allah and Hamdan.

-- Coalition forces captured an alleged special groups facilitator who reportedly is an Iranian-trained sniper instructor involved in attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in Baghdad. He is thought to have coordinated and facilitated special-groups militia training in Iran. The forces discovered two assault rifles and detained three other suspects and detained three other suspected criminals during the operation.

-- North of Tarmiyah, coalition forces captured an alleged weapons dealer reportedly associated with an al Qaeda network senior leader whose network is responsible for the majority of homemade-bomb attacks in the area, and is involved in extortion, intimidation, weapons trafficking and the facilitation of foreign terrorists, officials said. The wanted individual identified himself to the ground force and was detained along with three suspected terrorists.

-- West of Samarra and in Sharqat, three suspected terrorists were detained while coalition forces targeted associates involved in the facilitation of finances and weapons for the al Qaeda networks in Samarra and Mosul.

-- In northern Iraq, coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists during two precision operations.

-- A suspect was detained west of Shammar Jarbah, during operations targeting an associate of a senior level foreign terrorist facilitator.

In operations in Iraq on Feb. 29:

-- An Iraqi teenager was killed during an engagement south of Samarra when a Multinational Division North AH-46 Apache helicopter engaged six suspected roadside bombers. Iraqi and coalition soldiers then investigated the area at ground level and were told by about 40 individuals located at a nearby house that six boys had been digging roots for firewood. Coalition forces offered condolences to the boy's family. The incident is under investigation.

-- In southeast Mosul, coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists while targeting a weapons facilitator for the al Qaeda networks throughout the city.

-- During operations intended to disrupt bomb attacks in northeast Mosul, an Iraqi special weapons and tactics team, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained the alleged leader of an assassination and homemade-bomb cell. Two other suspected terrorists also were detained.

-- A local Tarmiya sheik turned in a weapons cache to Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, northwest of Baghdad. The cache contained artillery shells of various calibers, artillery casings filled with home made explosives and detonating cord and fuses, metal containers filled with homemade explosives, seven mortar shells, missile warheads, rocket warheads, and jugs of nitric acid. An explosives team secured the cache.

-- Coalition forces targeted alleged associates of the Samarra al Qaeda network's senior leader. Coalition forces observed several vehicles containing suspects departing the target area east of Samarra. The drivers refused to follow orders to stop the vehicles and, following escalation of force procedures, the assault forces fired on the vehicles. Six terrorists were killed and four vehicles were destroyed as a result of the engagement. One suspect was detained, and several weapons were recovered from the site.

-- Acting on a tip from Iraqi citizens, soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, seized two weapons caches northwest of Baghdad. The caches included mortar rounds, missile warheads, Russian Kopye rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, tubes of TNT and bags of burnable fuses. The caches were turned over to an explosives team for disposal.

-- Iraqi soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 6th Iraqi Army Division discovered a cache that included homemade explosives, hydrochloric acid, and anti-tank mines in a house west of Baghdad. A Multinational Division Baghdad explosives team conducted a controlled detonation of the confiscated items.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)