26 August 2008

Statement by John McCain on the Situation in Georgia

U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement on the situation in Georgia:

"Russia today took a significant and negative step in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two separatist Georgian provinces. In April, I warned that Russia was pursuing a policy of de facto annexation that threatened to undermine security and stability in the region. Today's decision, the culmination of a long effort aimed at splitting these two regions away from Georgia, represents a major step forward in that process. Moscow's action deserves condemnation from the entire international community, and Russia must understand that its violations of international law carry consequences.

"I also remain deeply concerned about Russia's continued refusal to comply with the terms of the ceasefire ending hostilities with Georgia. Reports indicate that Russian troops remain around the port city of Poti, a location that has no connection to South Ossetia or even to the 'buffer zone' Moscow is attempting to establish around it. Russia's deployments around Poti seem aimed at maintaining an economic stranglehold over Georgia's major Black Sea port.

"At a time of high energy prices and instability in global markets, it is important to understand that events in Georgia, part of a strategic energy corridor, affect individual lives far beyond the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. If that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, global energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Moscow's influence, with serious consequences on the world energy market.

"There are some encouraging signs that our allies are responding to these events. I welcome French President Sarkozy's convening of an emergency European Union summit next week to discuss the crisis, as well as German Chancellor Merkel's call for a summit of Caucasus nations to discuss Georgian reconstruction and regional stability. It is critical that these and other discussions are followed by action to chart a path for the reconstruction of Georgia and to ensure its continued independence. Americans have for generations sacrificed for the security of our European partners. Now is the time for the transatlantic community to come together to secure, in concert, the peace for a generation of Americans.

"In addition, I am proud that Cindy is currently visiting Georgia on a humanitarian mission. She has carried out this kind of important work all over the world, and it is clear that the Georgian people are suffering in the aftermath of Russia's invasion. Given the level of need there, I am proud that she has traveled to that war-torn country at this time."
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SBA’s Deputy Administrator Carranza Promotes Patriot Express Loans to Legion Vets

U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Jovita Carranza, today urged veterans to take full advantage of SBA’s Patriot Express loans and other federal programs and services if they are planning to start or grow a small business.

Speaking to veterans attending the National Veterans Business Workshop at the American Legion National Convention, in Phoenix, Ariz., Carranza highlighted the benefits of SBA’s Patriot Express Loans and other SBA programs.

Designed to encourage members of the military who want to start or grow small businesses, SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative started a little over a year ago. The initiative continues to successfully help veterans and their spouses reach their dreams of small business ownership and expansion. To date SBA has approved 2,169 loan guarantees for $203 million at an average loan amount of nearly $94,000.

“I’m proud of the many important ways that the SBA helps our military veterans succeed in their business endeavors,” said Carranza. “Through Patriot Express, other lending programs, government contracting, and education and training, we offer a full range of business services to our veterans.”

Patriot Express, launched in 2007, builds on the more than $1 billion in loans SBA guarantees annually for veteran-owned businesses, and the counseling assistance and procurement support the agency provides each year to more than 100,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, and Guard and Reserve members.

Patriot Express is a streamlined loan product based on the agency’s highly successful SBA Express Program, but with enhanced guaranty and interest-rate characteristics. The Patriot Express loan is offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and features SBA’s fastest turnaround time for loan approvals. Loans are available up to $500,000 and qualify for SBA’s maximum guaranty of up to 85 percent for loans of $150,000 or less and up to 75 percent for loans over $150,000 up to $500,000. For loans above $350,000, lenders are required to take all available collateral.

Patriot Express loans can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estate purchases.
Local SBA district offices have a listing of Patriot Express lenders in their areas. Details on the initiative can be found at www.sba.gov/patriotexpress.

Interest rate maximums for Patriot Express loans are the same as those for regular 7(a) loans: a maximum of Prime + 2.25 percent for maturities under seven years; Prime + 2.75 percent for seven years or more. Interest rates can be higher by two percentage points for loans of $25,000 or less; and one percentage point for loans between $25,000 and $50,000.

Patriot Express is available to military community members including veterans, service-disabled veterans, active-duty service members participating in the military’s Transition Assistance Program, Reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above, and the widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or of a service-connected disability.

Patriot Express loans have been approved in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam and generally range from $5,000 to $375,000 in individual loan amounts. The average loan amount is almost $98,000. Nearly 15 percent of those loans have gone to military spouses. After loan applications are approved by the bank, they are submitted to SBA for approval. Most applications are approved by SBA within 24 hours.
SBA has veterans’ business development officers in district offices in every state and territory able to provide military community members full access to the SBA’s range of programs and services. There are also five Veterans Business Outreach Centers located in: Albany, N.Y.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Lynn Haven, Fla.; Edinburg, Texas; and Sacramento, Calif.

In addition to district offices, SBA’s resource partners SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business; Small Business Development Centers; and Women’s Business Centers provide local and online assistance with: writing a business plan, financing options to start or grow your business, managing the business, expanding the business and selling goods and services to the government.

For those who are already small business owners and who expect call-up, the SBA and its resource partners can assist with preparing their businesses before deployment, managing their businesses, selling goods and services to the government, obtaining other SBA financing and financial assistance, and obtaining loans for economic injury – Military Reserve Economic Injury Disaster Loans (MREIDL). Loans up to $2 million are available for small businesses sustaining economic injury because an owner or essential employee has been called to active duty as a military reservist.

The SBA and its Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) provides comprehensive assistance, outreach and support to veterans. Each year the SBA assists more than 100,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and Reserve Component members. Go to www.sba.gov/vets.
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24 August 2008

Coalition Disrupts Militants in Eastern Afghanistan

Multiple militants were killed and one was detained by coalition forces during an operation to disrupt militant activities in Afghanistan's Kapisa province yesterday, military officials reported.
The force searched a compound in Tag Ab district, targeting a Taliban commander who smuggles weapons and foreign fighters into Afghanistan and organizes suicide attacks against coalition and NATO forces, officials said. During the operation, armed militants engaged the force. Coalition forces responded with air strikes and small-arms fire, killing the militants.

(From a Combined Joint Task Force 101 news release.)
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Troops Capture Suspected Hezbollah Associates in New Baghdad

Coalition forces picked up two suspected associates of the Kataib Hezbollah criminal network during operations this morning in Baghdad's New Baghdad district, military officials reported.
Acting on intelligence tips, coalition forces raided the home of a suspected Kataib Hezbollah propaganda expert who is believed to have uploaded more than 30 attack videos to the criminal ring's now-defunct Web site. Coalition forces entered the house, where they detained two of the wanted man's brothers, who are believed to be involved in his criminal enterprises.

Coalition forces have detained more than 15 suspected members of Kataib Hezbollah in the last two months, officials said. Kataib Hezbollah is reported to receive funding, logistics, and weapons such as improvised rocket-assisted mortars from Iran. The group also is believed to receive guidance or direction from the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In other operations today and yesterday, coalition forces in Iraq detained 16 suspected terrorists in the central and northern parts of the country.

An alleged weapons facilitator in Mosul is in coalition custody after forces captured him and six additional suspects today. The wanted man allegedly stores explosives for terrorist attacks and delivers weapons to foreign terrorists and suicide bombers. He also is assessed to have ties to al-Qaida senior leaders in Mosul, officials said.

Coalition forces captured a wanted man and three additional suspects today in Beiji, about 160 kilometers south of Mosul. The wanted man is suspected of directly conspiring with al-Qaida leaders to plan an attack using poison.

In Suwayrah, about 50 kilometers south of Baghdad, coalition forces detained a suspect today while targeting a man involved in the al-Qaida in Iraq propaganda network. An operation yesterday in Mosul targeted the same network and netted four suspected terrorists.

In operations Aug. 20, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained suspected Iranian-backed "special groups" leaders, and Iraqi security forces dismantled a homemade booby trap in southern Baghdad's Rashid district.

Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, detained a suspected terrorist linked to attacks using improvised explosive devices and suicide vests in Baghdad.

Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, working on actionable intelligence, arrested a suspected special groups criminal in West Rashid's Hadar neighborhood.

Meanwhile, in southwestern Baghdad's Risalah community, Iraqi National Police discovered a homemade booby trap. The police immediately dismantled the bomb and confiscated the bomb-making materials. The police moved the munitions to a combat outpost for temporary storage and notified an explosives ordnance disposal team.

- Armed Forces Press Service

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21 August 2008

The Employment Guide Helps Veterans Find Employment

BUSINESS WIRE --Finding employment can be a daunting task for veterans returning to the civilian workforce, but The Employment Guides Veterans Transition Guide is helping to ease the change.

As soldiers and sailors return from deployments around the world, they routinely face problems integrating back into civilian jobs and lives.

Robert Lacey, district manager with The Employment Guide and a Vietnam veteran, notes that The price paid by our men and women in the military during war time goes beyond the battlefield. Many return home only to discover that their former job is no longer available, or in too many cases, they are no longer able to perform the duties of that job due to a war-related injury.

Unfortunately for many veterans, years of experience in the military may not directly correlate to equivalent-paying civilian jobs. This means that veterans face a quandary: pursue further education, settle for a pay reduction, or retire from the workforce altogether. Recent studies show that the average retirement age of those in the armed forces is 43 for enlisted soldiers and 47 for officers.

The Employment Guide is using its resources to match employers with these talented, but often over-looked veterans.

The Veterans Transition Guide, a quarterly publication, was launched in January of 2008 and has been published in over 23 markets across the country. The guide provides veterans tips on how to get the most out of job fairs, information about the latest Montgomery GI bill, interview guidelines and veteran-friendly jobs in their area. Additional issues will be published in 19 new markets between now and November 2008. The publication has been publicly endorsed by mayors in several cities and by workforce centers and Veterans Administration Hospitals.

Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, a Marine veteran, states, I encourage Indiana businesses and educational facilities to support our veteran community and The Employment Guide as they continue to provide this resource magazine.

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17 August 2008

28th Annual Peachtree City Classic to Host “Shadow Run” in Iraq

In the tradition of the Peachtree 10K that several years ago began to host a “shadow run” for American troops in the Middle East, the Peachtree City Classic will follow suit and host a 5K for American and Iraqi soldiers stationed at Al Kindi Army Base near Mosul as part of their annual Peachtree City Classic this year. Captain Ivan Hurlburt, a member of the Mobile Training Team (MTT) stationed there contacted the Peachtree City Running Club this summer asking about the possibility of the club sponsoring such an event. Race Director Marino Fuentes enthusiastically embraced the idea and it took off from there.

The Peachtree City Running Club announced that plans are well underway for the 28th running of the Peachtree City Classic 15K and 5K road races. The races will take place Saturday, October 18th, along the scenic golf cart paths of Peachtree City and simultaneously at Al Kindi Army Base in Mosul. The Classic is one of the most popular runs not only in Georgia, but in the Southeast as well. The race is unique in its use of paved cart paths for the race. This scenic race is run mostly on the paths through the greenbelt areas, by lakes, through small tunnels, in the beautiful planned community of Peachtree City. The 5K “shadow run” in Al Kindi will take place on a hard packed road inside the perimeter of their compound. The Al Kindi finishers will also receive special T-shirts sent by the running club designating it as the PTC Classic “shadow run.”

The 15K was voted the best 15K course in Georgia by Georgia Athlete Magazine and always a sellout, so participants are strongly encouraged to register early. Once again the Road Runners Club of America named this race its RRCA National 15K Championship Race, and the United States Track and Field has named it their USATF Georgia Association 15K Championship Race.

The Classic actually consists of three different races: a women’s 5K, a men’s 5K, and the 15K open. All races are run on separate TAC-certified courses, and start and finish at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater. The 5K races for men and women are open to the first 800 entrants in each category. The popular 15K is open to the first 1500 entrants.

All finishers in the different races will receive a special technical shirt to mark the 28th year of this Classic event. There will also be random drawings for assorted prizes, but participants must be present to win. RRCA Awards will be presented to top three male and female finishers overall and in the master’s category, and also to the top three male and female finishers in each of 14 age groups. USATF Championship medals will be awarded to the top five Open Male and Open Female runners. You must be a USATF member to be eligible for the USATF awards.

A Pre-Race Expo will be held at the Fred Brown Amphitheater on Friday, October 17th, from 5:00 - 8:00 PM. A Race Day Expo will be held on Saturday from 7:00 – 11:00 AM also at the Frederick Brown Amphitheater. The Expos will include health and fitness products, sponsors, and selected vendors.

Applications are available at various locations in Peachtree City, Newnan, and Fayetteville, including local recreation departments, libraries, and sporting goods stores. Applications are also available at some of the sponsors of our race, including Chic-Fil-A, Ultimate Fitness, Talbot State Bank, Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center, FC&A, and Publix. You can also register on line at www.ptcrc.com If you have any further questions about the race, you can send e-mail to ptcclassic@bellsouth.net.
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16 August 2008

Delta Air Lines Waives All Excess Bag Fees for Military Personnel

(PRIME NEWSWIRE) (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) Delta Air Lines announced on Friday that effective immediately it will waive all excess baggage fees for active military personnel traveling on orders. The fee waivers apply to baggage quantity, weight and size, allowing active servicemen and women to travel with optimum flexibility.

"Delta has a long tradition of supporting our troops and it is important that they find travel with us welcoming and flexible," said Steve Gorman, Delta's executive vice president - Operations. "We respect the courage our military men and women display every day and the people of Delta find it an honor to serve them."

Delta's support of the troops extends beyond flexible travel policies to include offering complimentary military lounges across the system during peak travel times; supporting the active military leaves of more than 450 Delta employees; and operating dozens Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) missions over the years to support troop movements during times of war.
Additionally, the airline has repeatedly received the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's (ESGR) Freedom Award for its support of Delta employees serving in the National Guard and military reserve units. In 2006, Delta was named a "5-Star Employer" by the ESGR, recognizing the airline's above-and-beyond assistance to guardsmen and reservists.

In 2007, Delta updated its military leave of absence policy to respond to the needs of military members in the 21st century. The policy offers Delta employees serving on active Guard or Reserve duty continued eligibility for medical and dental programs; continuing coverage under Delta's basic and optional life insurance programs; ongoing Delta flight privileges; and continuous vacation accrual. ESGR has cited Delta's military leave policies as a model for other major employers.

Delta Air Lines operates service to more worldwide destinations than any airline with Delta and Delta Connection flights to 312 destinations in 61 countries. Delta has added more international capacity than any major U.S. airline during the last two years and is the leader across the Atlantic with flights to 44 trans-Atlantic markets. To Latin America and the Caribbean, Delta offers 393 weekly flights to 47 destinations. Delta's marketing alliances also allow customers to earn and redeem SkyMiles on more than 16,000 flights offered by SkyTeam and other partners. Delta is a founding member of SkyTeam, a global airline alliance that provides customers with extensive worldwide destinations, flights and services. Including its SkyTeam and worldwide codeshare partners, Delta offers flights to 500 worldwide destinations in 105 countries. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and flight status at delta.com.
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14 August 2008

Rice Calls Military Relief Mission in Georgia 'Continuous, Robust'

The U.S. military-led mission to provide humanitarian aid in Georgia will be "continuous and robust," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today, calling on Russia to commit to keeping open the lines of communication and transportation during relief efforts.

"We expect that Russia will respect the humanitarian nature of that mission, and that ports, sea lanes, air routes will all be open for humanitarian purposes, another pledge that Russia has undertaken to the French," Rice told reporters in a news conference this afternoon.

Rice's remarks came hours after President Bush announced a first U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft was delivering humanitarian aid and medical supplies to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

An additional delivery slated for tomorrow will mark the second shipment in a relief effort that could comprise many planeloads of humanitarian relief, Defense Department officials said.

"There are plans for another flight tomorrow as we continue to assess the wide range of humanitarian assistance options that we might be able to provide both in the immediate and long-term humanitarian capabilities," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will oversee the military's humanitarian mission. Rice, who is scheduled to depart this evening to France en route to Georgia, is delivering the U.S. diplomatic response.

"I am going ... first to meet with the French president and other members of the French government in France," she said, "and then I will fly on to Tbilisi to underscore the strong support of the United States for the Georgian people and for their democratically elected government."

Fighting that began in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia is now in its sixth day, and has broadened to include Russian attacks on Abkhazia, another heavily separatist region, and other parts of the country, where Russia's forces reportedly are still engaged despite Moscow's cease-fire pledge yesterday.

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
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Soldier Becomes Oldest U.S. Woman Competitor in Olympic History

At age 56, Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Elizabeth "Libby" Callahan became the oldest U.S. woman competitor in Olympic history with a 25th-place finish in the women's 25-meter pistol shooting event today at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.

"I've been told oldest-ever female Olympian of any nation, of all time," Callahan said. "But I don't know if that's right."

USA Shooting officials could not confirm that claim. At any rate, Callahan certainly has withstood the test of time on the competitive pistol-shooting line.

"Well, it shows my longevity, I guess," Callahan said with a laugh and a smile that rivaled the seemingly never-ending smiles of the Chinese hosts of the Beijing Games. "I'm just still kicking, and I'm not putting any restrictions on myself. It doesn't say I have to stop at a certain age.

"In fact, the oldest Olympic medalist was in shooting," she noted, "and he was 73, back in the early 1900s."

Therefore, Callahan, a four-time Olympian, already is considering taking a shot at the 2012 London Games.

"I'm not ruling it out," she said. "I'm not ruling anything out. I still feel good, and I still have that competitive fire in me."

Callahan's passion for pistol packing already has earned Summer Olympic trips to Barcelona, Atlanta and Athens, Greece, along with journeys to Hyderabad, India, for the Conseil Internationale du Sport Militaire's 2007 Military World Games, and to Salinas, Puerto Rico, for the 2005 Championships of the Americas. She's also competed in five world championships and as many Pan American Games.

After retiring in 2003 from a 28-year career with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, Callahan moved from Upper Marlboro, Md., to Pawleys Island, S.C., to be closer to her seven older brothers and sisters. She now has an unprecedented amount of free time to sharpen her shooting skills and compete internationally.

"What I've probably done in a lot of areas is that I've tried too hard," Callahan said. "I shoot great technique. I've been told this not just by U.S. coaches, but other international coaches. It's just something's happening just a few times in a match that throws me out of some competitions. That's a mental thing. And you know, the brain, the mind, is a terrible thing."

Callahan can easily laugh with herself -- seemingly oblivious to the fact that Father Time could be ticking on her athletic career. Her approach to the sport, however, remains unchanged as she approaches her 57th birthday.

"You still have to have the same mental approach, have to have the same techniques to execute the shot," she said. "There may be a different perspective in maybe somebody who is younger or hasn't been here before, but that's just all part of experience -- just having general experience in life.

"Throughout shooting, you will find that some things work at a certain period of time, and then after a while it doesn't work any more," she continued, "so you maybe try something different. Maybe it's your stance, maybe it's your grip, maybe it's your gun. There are always things that if something's not working and you've worked at it for a while, OK, let's try something different. How you execute, and how you execute under certain conditions, is always the important thing.

"I'm way [more] advanced than I was when I first started shooting," she said, "but it's some mental things that really grab me at certain times, and it hurts me in the match."

Callahan did not advance to the final here, where gold medalist Gundegmaa Otryad of Mongolia equaled the Olympic record with a 590 total. Germany's Munkhbayar Dorjsuren won the silver medal with a score of 587. China's Chen Ying took the bronze with a 585 total.

Callahan's career-best Olympic finish was 19th in the 2004 sport pistol event in Athens, where she also placed 30th in the air pistol competition.

"Some days you're really good. Some days you're really bad. And some days you're mediocre," she said. "That's what makes shooting interesting and, I guess, challenging. You can shoot a perfect score, and the next day go out and you aren't diddly squat."

Either way, Callahan always finds the resolve to shoot another day.

Author Tim Hipps works in the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office.
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Soldier Sets Two Olympic Records En Route to Double Trap Gold

8/13/08 Spc. Walton Glenn Eller III, of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, set two Olympic records en route to winning a gold medal in double trap at the Beijing Shooting Range here yesterday.

Marksmanship unit teammate Spc. Jeffrey Holguin finished fourth in the event.

Eller's score of 145 in the qualification rounds eclipsed the previous Olympic record of 144 set in the 2004 Athens Games by United Arab Emirates shooter Ahmed Almaktoum, who finished seventh in Beijing.

In double trap, competitors fire their 12-gauge shotguns from five adjacent shooting stations. At each station, two targets are thrown simultaneously from an underground bunker at speeds up to 50 mph at set angles and height. The targets are thrown with a variable delay of up to one second, and competitors get one shot per target.

"I realized with my last pair to go, 'Oh, the Olympic record is only 144. If I hit my last pair, I'm going to get the Olympic record.'"

When Eller did that, he said, he sensed he was on his way to a spectacular day. He missed his first two targets in the final, but settled down and missed only three shots the rest of the way.

"If you shoot the Olympic record [in qualification rounds] and you've got a little bit of a lead, you expect to come out with gold," Eller said. "But after I went out there [in the final] and missed that first pair, it was a little dicey there for a second, but I brought it all back together."

Eller's final score of 190 topped Almaktoum's world record of 189, also set in Athens. Italy's Francesco D'Aniello won the silver medal in Beijing with a score of 187, and China's Binyuan Hu took the bronze with a 184 total.

"It's incredible," said Eller, 26, a native of Katy, Texas, who is stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. "I finally made a final in the Olympics. I came in like 12th [in Sydney] and 17th [in Athens], and finally came out and put a good day together. This was the only thing I was worried about for the last two years."

Explaining his key to success, Eller reached into his vest and revealed a handful of trading cards.

"Hard work," the three-time Olympian said as he shuffled cards featuring soldiers of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. "That, and I had my teammates with me. The military has been great to me. They've helped me fulfill a dream that, without them, I don't think would've ever happened. I owe everything to them.

"Joining the Army was an incredible gain for me," he continued. "It gave me a lot of discipline. I was fortunate enough to go into the Army Marksmanship Unit. It's great having those guys to train with every day. They really pushed me along. Just working with them all day, every day, it keeps you in it.

Being a soldier means he's expected to do what's asked of him, Eller noted. "For right now, they asked me to come to the Olympics and win a gold medal for the United States," he said. "I don't know how to better represent them than with a gold medal in my hand."

Eller said he couldn't wait to give his parents a big bear hug.

"I'm going to go find my parents and celebrate," he said. "They've been here all week, and to the last two Olympics, watching me. To have them here and to finally win a gold medal for them is incredible. The crowd was amazing. The facilities were incredible."

Holguin, 29, of Yorba Linda, Calif., finished fourth with a 182 total.

"I shot really well today, until the final," Holguin said. "This game is all about putting four good rounds together, and honestly, I could only manage two. I had a mediocre round and a bad round. So when you've got two good rounds, they don't offset the mediocre and bad rounds.

"Finishing fourth," he added, "that's where you finish when you shoot like I did in the final."

On this day, Holguin tipped his cap to Eller.

"It's all about him now," Holguin said. "Glenn Eller and I started shooting against each other a long, long time ago, and we actually enlisted in the Army together in the fall of 2006. This was half of our goal. We wanted gold and silver at the Olympics. We came really close, but I'm happy for him."

But during the competition, Holguin said, he did not pull any punches.

"When we're out on the shooting line, we take the gloves off and go at it as hard as anybody else," Holguin said. "I don't feel bad when he misses a target. If he would have lost the gold medal, yeah, I would have felt badly for him, but not if I was in the silver medal position. I'd be chasing him the whole way."

Holguin agreed with Eller that joining USAMU was their best move.

"Joining the Army was probably the best thing I could've done for my shooting career, just because of the discipline and structure that comes along with the Army," Holguin said. "The Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning has world-class shooting facilities. We shoot with and against some of the best in the world," he said. "I've been training with the 2008 Olympic gold medalist for the last two years straight since I joined the Army, so the Army has definitely taken my shooting to the next level.

"My heartfelt thanks go out to everybody who has been behind me this whole time, but it's Glenn's day," Holguin said. "He earned it. He deserves it."

Author Tim Hipps works in the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office.
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13 August 2008

U.S. Soldiers Detain 'Special Groups' Suspect in Baghdad Raid

8/11/08 U.S. soldiers detained a suspected Iranian-trained "Special Groups" militia leader during an operation in the Rusafa district of eastern Baghdad today.

The detainee is linked to a terrorist cell that is suspected of emplacing roadside bombs that target innocent citizens and Iraqi and coalition security forces.

"Detaining this criminal leader will enhance security and stability for the people of Baghdad," Army Maj. Joey Sullinger, a U.S. 10th Mountain Division spokesman, said. "With him behind bars, progress and improvements of essential services in the areas where he conducted his crimes can proceed with greater ease."

In other actions in Baghdad today:

-- Coalition forces captured two alleged al-Qaida leaders during separate operations in Baghdad. An associate of a suspected al-Qaida leader led coalition forces to one wanted man who reportedly was planning a car bombing. After the man was detained, he helped coalition forces capture another al-Qaida associate.

-- Coalition troops captured a suspected foreign-terrorist facilitator during an operation in Baghdad. The detainee is linked to known terrorists who plan suicide bombings targeting Iraqi civilians.

-- Coalition forces detained seven suspected terrorists during an anti-al-Qaida operation in Baghdad.

In operations yesterday, Iraqi security forces seized weapons caches during operations throughout Baghdad. "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group members secured a hand grenade and an improvised hand grenade in the East Rashid district. The weapons were disposed of by a U.S. explosive ordnance squad.

At about the same time, Iraqi soldiers seized a mortar round, a rifle, a pistol and a rifle scope in the Mansour area of Baghdad. Also, Iraqi police found an improvised explosive device, two rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade, three hand grenades, seven mortars, five mortar war heads, and nine machine gun ammunition belts in the West Rashid area.

Also yesterday, coalition forces in Beiji captured a man allegedly involved in terrorist bombings and foreign-terrorist-facilitation operations.

In Aug. 9 operations:

-- In Diyala province, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers found several improvised explosive devices that had been placed inside a school in the village of Tahwilla. An explosive ordnance disposal team blew up the seized explosives. An air strike was called in to destroy any potential explosives not found in the school. The Iraqi army, establishing a long-term presence in Tahwilla, will work with provincial officials to replace the school, officials said.

-- U.S. soldiers detained a suspected al-Qaida member during an operation in the Abu Tshir community of the Rashid district in southern Baghdad. The man was arrested for complicity in the murder of a Sons of Iraq volunteer. The soldiers detained the individual based on sworn statements made by Iraqi citizens who witnessed the murder. The U.S. soldiers delivered the detainee to a coalition base.

-- U.S. soldiers confiscated a weapons cache during a patrol northwest of Baghdad. The cache contained 20 mortar rounds, 106 fuses and 80 artillery projectiles.

-- In Kanaan east of Baqouba, Iraqi special operations forces detained two suspected al-Qaida terrorists. The detainees are linked to emplacements of improvised explosive devices.

In Aug. 8 operations:

-- An Iraqi special weapons and tactics team detained a suspected al-Qaida weapons facilitator in Tikrit. The suspect is linked to providing weapons for terrorist operations in the Salahuddin area. The detainee was recently pardoned through the Iraqi reconciliation program, but he apparently continued to assist al Qaida terrorists.

-- In Babil, an Iraqi special weapons and tactics team from Hillah detained two suspected Special Groups criminals. The individuals are wanted for their alleged involvement in an improvised explosive device-emplacement cell.

-- In Amarah, Iraqi police uncovered a suspected Special Groups weapons cache. The cache contained about 70 mortar rounds, 20 rocket-propelled-grenade rounds and several mortar round carriers.

-- In Diyala, Iraqi special operations forces detained two suspected al-Qaida members and found a weapons cache. The detainees are linked to supporting local criminal activities and attacks on coalition bases.

-- In the Mahmudiyah area of Diyala, Iraqi special operations forces detained eight suspected al-Qaida terrorists. The detainees are linked to local illegal checkpoints, direct-fire attacks and kidnappings.
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U.S. Army Soldier Strikes Olympic Gold

PRNewswire/ -- Army Spc. Walter Glenn Eller III, now believes in the adage "the third time is the charm," hitting 190 of 200 clay targets in the double trap competition to set an Olympic record and win gold Tuesday.

"Joining the U.S. Army in 2006 gave me the focus and maturity I needed to achieve my Olympic dream," said Spc. Eller. "I don't know how to better represent the United States and my fellow Soldiers around the world than with a gold medal around my neck."

The 26 year-old Katy, Texas native credits the Army for providing him with not only elite training, but world-class teammates to push him further than he could ever imagine.

"Training with some of the top shooters in the world on a daily basis, like fellow Olympians Pfc. Vincent Hancock and Olympic medalist Maj. Michael Anti, gives me the drive and discipline to succeed," said Spc. Eller.

Eller trains at Fort Benning, Ga., as a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU), which sent six shooters to Beijing. "By competing and winning on the world stage, AMU Soldiers highlight the meaning of Army Strong and help to raise the standards of marksmanship proficiency throughout the Army," said unit commander Lt. Col. Frank Muggeo. Since the AMU was established in 1956, its shooters have won 21 Olympic medals and more than 40 world championships.

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PTC Patriot Day Scheduled for September 6

Guest Speaker Transitioned From Army Helicopter Pilot to Middle School Principal Patriotic music, vintage military aircraft and equipment and people walking to celebrate Freedom will highlight this year’s Peachtree City Patriot Day September 6 at the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) hangar at Falcon Field.

Starting at 9 a.m. at the intersection of TDK and Dividend, Sandy Creek High School senior Caitlin Dillon will lead the 2nd Annual America Supports You Freedom Walk. People can demonstrate their support for the men and women fighting for our freedom by participating in the one-mile walk, which will begin at 9 a.m. at the intersection of TDK and Dividend in Peachtree City. The public is encouraged to participate. Those interested in walking can register their name and how many will be attending by email at: Ptcfreedomwalk@yahoo.com.

The walk will end at the CAF hangar at Falcon field, where the Patriot Day celebration takes place. The end of the walk actually kicks off the Patriot Day event, which features live patriotic music, vintage military aircraft, vehicles and equipment, a special guest speaker and more. The CAF will host tours of its vintage aircraft and vehicles at their hangar area.

This year’s guest speaker is Bennett’s Mill Middle School Principal Rae Presley-King. She has been principal since 2001 when the school opened. The road that led her there is one that few people have traveled. After graduating from Howard University in Washington on an Army ROTC scholarship she began Army aviation training and eventually became a pilot and platoon leader in charge of an OH-58 helicopter unit in Germany. She spent eight years flying in the army before following her instincts to education.

Bennett’s Mill Middle School Band will be one of three featured music groups that will entertain the crowd. Also performing will be Music Alive!, a local singing group who has a wide repertoire of patriotic songs and a long tradition of pleasing audiences in the south Metro area. The Peachtree Wind Ensemble will present a patriotic program including a song entitled “Flight of Valor,” which memorializes the heroics of passengers and crew of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
By Presidential proclamation, Patriot Day is a day to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, when more than 3,000 people were killed by terrorists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The “Freedom Walk” is an event, first started in 2005 by Pentagon employees to commemorate the people who were killed there, as a reminder of the continuing Global War on Terror and to renew commitment to freedom and the values of our country.

Last year 255 communities participated across the nation, and every state was represented along with 8 nations overseas. What began as a small gesture became a new national tradition.

“We would love for everyone to be a part of it!” said Freedom Walk coordinator Caitlin Dillon, a Sandy Creek High School senior. She organized the first Freedom Walk in Peachtree City last year after having participated in one the year before in another city.

Call the Recreation Department at 770-631-2542 for further information on any of these events.
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11 August 2008

McCain: Honoring Our Compact with America's Veterans

8/9/08 Today, In Nevada, John McCain Will Outline His Plan To Ensure That Those Who Have Served This Country In The Armed Forces Receive The Care That They Need. We have a sacred compact with our wounded veterans to provide for their recovery when they return from the battlefield.

John McCain Will Implement a Comprehensive Plan for Providing High-Quality, Timely Health Care For Our Veterans:

John McCain Believes We Must Provide Our Veterans With World-Class Health Care. We must fully fund the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care budget in a timely and predictable manner. Those who have risked their lives in service to their fellow citizens deserve nothing less than the best medical care in the world.

When The VA Cannot Meet Our Veterans' Needs, Our Veterans Must Be Given Alternative Means Of Access To Health Care And Freedom Of Choice. Too many veterans are unable to obtain health care through the VA because of geographical constraints, unreasonably long waiting lists, or the lack of specialized facilities at local VA hospitals. John McCain will develop and enforce demanding new standards for veterans' access to health care for injuries or illness related to military service: no more than an hour's drive for care, routine care within a week, urgent care within 24 hours, and specialty care within a month.

· Veterans' Care Access Card: John McCain has proposed a Veterans' Care Access Card, which would expand access and choice for those veterans with illness or injury incurred during military service, as well as low-income veterans. This supplement to ordinary VA care -- which would not replace or privatize existing programs -- would permit those veterans unable to obtain timely and appropriate VA care under the standards set out above, to receive care at a private facility.

John McCain Has Proposed Other Reforms To Help Our Veterans Overcome 21st Century Challenges:

· Modern Warfare Injuries: John McCain co-authored the Wounded Warrior Act, which, among other things, was the first major legislative initiative to address injuries specific to the War on Terror. As President, he will build on this legislation and work to provide greatly enhanced screening and treatment and to foster greater cooperation between the Department of Defense and the VA.

· Women Veterans: The VA must respond to the specialized health care needs of women veterans, including victims of sexual assault.

· Outreach: Every veteran should receive easy-to-understand, comprehensive information about the rights and benefits he or she has earned. As President, John McCain will ensure that the promises of the Wounded Warrior Act are fulfilled -- including the establishment of a Wounded Warrior Resource Center, accessible information and clear pathways to rehabilitation, and documentation of the long-term needs of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

· Family Caregivers: Care provided by a parent, spouse, or child can be instrumental in the recovery of a wounded or ill service member. The VA and the Department of Defense must expand educational programs for family members to teach them how to properly care for their injured or ill loved ones.

John McCain Will Overhaul Our Veterans' Disability System:

Our Veterans' Disability System Is Tragically Broken. Too many of our wounded veterans come home to an administrative nightmare rather than a hero's welcome. We need a disability evaluation process for the 21st Century.

John McCain Has Proposed An 8-Point Plan For Bold Reform:

· Training. Ensure that every VA employee who assists in processing a claim for VA benefits completes a demanding and comprehensive on-going training program.

· Accountability. Guarantee that all VA employees who assist in processing claims for VA benefits are held to the highest standards of quality that our nation's heroes deserve.

· Automation. Bring the VA claims processing system into the 21st Century by converting to a paperless system in which records can be located and searched instantly and that incorporates rules-based technology to assist claims processors in developing and deciding cases expeditiously.
· Partnerships. Expand partnerships with Veterans' Service Organizations to rely more heavily on the help of trained, certified veterans' service officers in developing necessary evidence to support disability claims by veterans.

· Simplification. Simplify the Department of Defense disability retirement system -- to get benefits for service members who are medically retired immediately upon discharge from the service, based on clear, predictable, and fair standards.

· Concurrent Receipt. Enable veterans who are medically discharged to receive their entire Department of Defense annuity in addition to any VA disability compensation.

· Quality Of Life. Compensate veterans for loss of quality of life caused by their service-related disabilities, in addition to loss of earnings.

· Restorative Care. Put additional emphasis on the most fundamental mission of the VA -- to help restore veterans with disabilities to the maximum extent possible. This means providing veterans with disabilities the treatment, rehabilitation, and training that they need to return to productive, fulfilling lives.

John McCain Will Launch An Aggressive Program to Reintegrate Veterans Into Civilian Society:
When Veterans Return Home, Our Country Must Be There to Support Them. As President, John McCain will champion -- as he has throughout his career -- efforts to coordinate federal, state, and local programs to support reintegration of veterans into civilian society following their medical service.

We Must Target All Aspects Of Reintegration. Key reforms must include:

· Education. Until recently, we were long overdue for an increase in veterans' education benefits. The enactment of the "GI Bill for the 21st Century," legislation which John McCain proudly supported in its final form, dramatically increases education benefits for a broad spectrum of veterans, including members of our National Guard and Reserves. It also addresses the top concern of career service members regarding education -- the freedom to transfer their benefits to their spouses or children.

· Homelessness. As President, John McCain will make sure that we never leave behind those veterans who are homeless and those without jobs. We must increase outreach to homeless veterans through multiple federal agencies to ensure access to the health care and disability benefits that they need. We must also focus initiatives on providing permanent and transitional housing where appropriate, implementing special-needs programs for female homeless veterans, and helping homeless veterans acquire new skills so that they can regain independence in society.

· Employment. Meaningful employment opportunities, along with support for rehabilitation, mental health, and families, are the most critical factors in helping veterans reintegrate into society following their military service. John McCain will work hard to see that the U.S. Government operates as a model employer to support veteran preferences in federal hiring, and he will aggressively enforce the law when employers illegally discriminate against service members.

John McCain Will Guarantee That America Honors the Memory Of Our Fallen Heroes By Providing For Their Families.

John McCain Believes That We Must Honor Those Who Do Not Return From Combat By Providing Their Families With A Death Gratuity Benefit and Meaningful Life Insurance Coverage. During the last two major military conflicts, John McCain worked to increase death gratuity payments going so far as to cosponsor legislation to double the payment in 2003

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Coalition Troops in Iraq Capture 9 Suspected Terrorists

Coalition forces in Iraq captured eight suspected terrorists during a series of operations conducted in and around Baghdad and another in Mosul today, military officials said.
Coalition forces in Baghdad captured two suspects tied to al-Qaida logistics operations. Two other suspects are linked to a terrorist bombing cell that operates between Baghdad and Fallujah.

Another man captured is believed to be part of a car-bombing network and suicide operations and three others linked to al-Qaida operations.

In Mosul, coalition forces captured a man linked to al-Qaida senior leaders in the city.

In other operations yesterday:

-- In the village of Abu Wali, about 65 kilometers northwest of Mosul, coalition forces captured a suspected al-Qaida member linked to a foreign terrorist network.

-- Near Muqdadiyah, coalition forces captured three suspects with links to al-Qaida bombings and providing false documents to terrorists fleeing Diyala province during current anti-insurgent crackdowns.

-- In Mosul, coalition forces detained two suspected al-Qaeda members.

-- In Baghdad, coalition forces captured three suspects linked to al-Qaida affiliated terrorist operations in the area.

In Aug. 8 operations:

-- Coalition forces killed two armed terrorists near Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers northeast of Baghdad. Coalition forces followed two men who left the site and engaged them, killing both. The coalition troops found weapons, a military-style assault vest, a pistol belt and grenades.

-- Coalition troops captured a man during an operation in Hamam al-Alil, just south of Mosul. The detainee is linked to senior al-Qaida leaders and their financial infrastructure.

-- Near Beiji, about 160 kilometers south of Mosul, coalition forces detained two suspected al-Qaida members linked to a foreign-terrorist network.

-- In Baghdad, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces discovered multiple munitions caches containing myriad rockets, rifles, mortars, ammunition, explosives and other ordnance.

-- U.S. soldiers patrolling Baghdad reported that a Sons of Iraq member handed over a 120 mm mortar round to a joint security station in the Karb De Gla neighborhood.

In other news, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers found weapons caches in three locations during operations near Baghdad Aug. 7.

Iraqi soldiers found a cache approximately 23 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. The cache contained mortar rounds, grenades, mortar sights and two 12-inch rockets. The cache and a detainee were transported to an Iraqi army compound.

Iraqi troops found another cache in Mehdi Village, approximately 33 kilometers south of Baghdad. The cache contained mortars rigged with detonation cord and timers, an anti-tank mine, two improvised explosive devices and a homemade claymore mine. Explosive ordnance disposal personnel disposed of the cache on site.

U.S. and Iraqi soldiers found a third cache near Baghdad that contained a machine gun and 600 machine-gun rounds. The Iraqi soldiers also detained seven suspects for questioning.

In other Aug. 7 operations:

-- U.S. soldiers seized a weapons cache west of Baghdad. The cache contained hand grenades, high-explosive projectiles, mortars, rocket-propellant charges, mortar-propellant charges, machine-gun and rifle ammunition, hand grenade fuses and a variety of bomb-making materials.

-- U.S. soldiers discovered numerous weapons during operations in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. Items confiscated included artillery rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, a rocket rail system, artillery and mortar rounds, explosives, a 57 mm S5KO rocket and washing machine timers.

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09 August 2008

Antonio Giuliano and the Army Ground Forces Band in Peachtree City

The Army Ground Forces Band was in town Thursday night. Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Giuliano wowed the audience with his outstanding talent. We'll be posting more videos from the show (Midway March, Over There and God Bless America). This is the first:


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04 August 2008

Variety of Factors Contribute to Progress in Iraq, General Says

Note: We receive updates on progress in Iraq & Afganistan on a daily basis. We have not included them in this blog, but we can if anyone is interested. If you'd like to get more info like the following, please send an email to editor@fayettefrontpage.com and we'll start adding. If we don't hear from anyone, we may stick one in on rare ocassions but will not do so daily or even weekly! (Two articles, 2nd is titled: Troops in Iraq Kill Enemy Fighters, Detain Suspects, Seize Weapons)

Variety of Factors Contribute to Progress in Iraq, General Says
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 3, 2008 - A combination of factors is responsible for the improved conditions in Iraq, the commander of coalition forces in the northern part of the country said today.

Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, commander of Multinational Division North, appeared on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."

Hertling said the coalition's troop surge, Iraq's security forces, national and provincial officials and the population's rejection of violent extremism all have contributed to a sharp decline in violence and economic progress.

The surge did much to improve security in Baghdad and other regions, he said, and "Sons of Iraq" citizen groups have assisted coalition and Iraqi forces in the security effort. At the same time, he said, Iraq's army and police forces have continued to mature.

"There is an increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces," the general said. "They have grown tremendously, even in the 11 months we've been here. The capability of the Iraqi security force has certainly contributed -- both the army and the police. The Sons of Iraq are part of the security elements in the northern provinces, and they have helped in some areas like Hawijah, Samarra, and some other places like that."

In addition, Hertling said, the Iraqi government and the country's provincial governments "are starting to get their act together and providing jobs for people."

"So there are good things going on across the board," he said. "And you also have to understand that the people of Iraq are just tired of the fighting, and it doesn't matter if you're Sunni, Kurd, Shiia, Christian or Syrians -- you're just sick of this unbelievably bad organization called al-Qaida, which continues to do dastardly things throughout the northern areas and through the rest of the Iraq. So the people have stood up to these organizations, as well."

Though U.S. taxpayers have been footing the bill for the Sons of Iraq citizen security groups, Hertling said, officials have begun to find Iraqi employment for them.

"We're starting to transition those elements into other organizations [such as a] civil service corps to help rebuild roads, pipelines, projects, things like that," he said, likening the effort to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the United States before World War II.

"But we're also seeing microgrants and microloans take charge, and people actually getting normal work," Hertling said. "The government is starting to work a little bit more."

As progress continues, more fighting remains to be done, the general acknowledged. Enemy fighters driven out of Baghdad and Iraq's Anbar province by the troop surge have sought refuge in the north.

"This fight we're having right now is not over yet," he said. "There's still a lot of al-Qaida in our area. They have all come to the northern provinces from Baghdad and the west, and we continue to have to drive them and pursue them so that they quit fighting, give up or we kill or capture them."

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Troops in Iraq Kill Enemy Fighters, Detain Suspects, Seize Weapons

Coalition forces in Iraq killed three enemy fighters, detained dozens of terrorism suspects and seized illegal weapons caches in operations over the last few days, military officials reported.
In operations conducted today and yesterday:

-- In Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted man reportedly responsible for establishing a foreign terrorist facilitation hub in the city. Two additional suspects were detained.

-- South of Mosul, coalition forces captured a man believed to manage finances and logistics for al-Qaida in Iraq cells in the Hamrin Mountains region. An additional suspected terrorist was detained.

-- Coalition forces searched Bir Qassim, a village near the Syrian border that intelligence reports indicate is the location of al-Qaida foreign terrorist facilitation operations. During the sweep, coalition forces detained 10 suspected terrorists.

–- Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team detained two suspected roadside-bomb makers in the Saydiyah community of Rashid.

–- Coalition forces conducted a precision operation in Tikrit and captured the alleged al-Qaida in Iraq leader there, officials said. The wanted man reportedly keeps videos of terrorist attacks and is tied to other networks within al-Qaida in Iraq.

–- In Baghdad, coalition forces captured a man believed to be an al-Qaida in Iraq extremist with connections in Egypt. Officials said the wanted man solicited al-Qaida in Iraq members about starting terrorist training and helping the foreign terrorist network. Three additional suspects were detained in the operations.

–- Two suspected terrorists were detained by coalition forces near Balad in operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq leaders.

–- In Mosul, coalition forces targeted an associate of al-Qaida in Iraq senior leaders and detained five suspected terrorists.

–- Iraqi National Police turned over a weapons cache to soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team working at a joint security station in Rashid. The cache consisted of three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, two RPG rounds, a machine gun, 50 7.62 mm rounds, a claymore mine, a 60 mm mortar tube with mount and base plate, and two 80 mm mortar tubes.

In operations Aug. 1:

–- Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team detained a suspected criminal in the Jihad community of Rashid and delivered him to a joint security station for questioning.

–- Iraqi National Police seized seven rocket-propelled grenades, six RPG propellants, 200 PKC rounds and 50 7.62 mm rounds in the Aamel community.

–- Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team seized a weapons cache north of Baghdad containing a partial improvised explosive device with three tubes of explosive material, a 120 mm rocket, four 120 mm rocket warheads, three 107 mm warheads, four 120 mm mortars, an anti-tank land mine, 25 120 mm projectiles, three 155 mm projectiles and two 105 mm projectiles.

–- Members of a "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group turned in a weapons cache consisting of three 130 mm projectiles, two 155 mm projectiles and a 150 mm mortar to soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

–-Iraqi National Police turned in a recovered cache to a forward operating base in Baghdad's West Rashid district. The cache included seven rocket-propelled grenades, six RPG propellants, 200 PKC machine gun rounds and 50 7.62 mm rounds.

–- In Baghdad's East Rashid district, acting on a tip from a local citizen, Iraqi National Police recovered three RPG launchers, two RPGs, 50 7.62 mm rounds, a claymore mine, a 60 mm mortar tube with plate and mounts and two 80 mm mortar tubes.

–- The Iraqi special weapons and tactics team in Hillah detained a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq member in Diyala province. The suspect allegedly is part of a cell responsible for ethnic violence, kidnapping and improvised explosive device attacks.

–- Iraqi special operations forces detained two suspected Iranian-backed "special groups" members in Qurna, southeast of Baghdad. Officials said the suspects allegedly lead one of the most effective enemy cells in Qurna.

–- Members of the Hillah SWAT team detained a suspected special groups member in Kalsu, south of Baghdad, and two others on an Interior Ministry warrant. The suspects allegedly are members of an IED emplacement cell.

In operations July 31, Iraqi soldiers operating in Salahuddin province during Operation Eagle Pursuit killed three al-Qaida in Iraq fighters as another detonated his suicide vest, killing himself, military officials said. The soldiers also detained nine suspected al-Qaida in Iraq members.

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

03 August 2008

Army Ground Forces Band and Guest Soloist to Perform Salute to Pavarotti

Photo: Capt. Domingos Robinson, commander of the Army Ground Forces Band, conducts the band as it rehearses for its tribute to Luciano Pavarotti at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City, Ga., Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.

The U.S. Army Forces Command’s Army Ground Forces Band will perform a concert in honor of opera’s great lyric tenor Luciano Pavarotti at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City, Ga., Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.

World-class guest tenor Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Giuliano will help make the evening a memorable one.

With selections from Verdi’s Aida, Puccini’s La Boheme, Ponchielle’s La Gioconda and Verdi’s Rigoletto, as well as overtures from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Wagner’s Lohengrin, the evening should prove to be not only a tribute to Pavarotti but also a celebration of some of classical music’s greatest moments.

On Sep. 6, 2007, Pavarotti lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 71. Under the direction of Capt. Domingos Robinson and 1st Lt. Dae Kim, the Army Ground Forces Band has put together a program that honors his extraordinary life as one of classical music’s most popular personalities and talents. The program includes six of Pavarotti’s favorite arias from various operas.

In a culture where opera music is often regarded as a musical form for the elite, Pavarotti managed to popularize opera and become a household name. Pavarotti certainly made a lasting impression on young Antonio Giuliano, who bought two Pavarotti albums in 1982 when he was a high school student in Pensacola, Fla. Now Sgt. 1st Class Giuliano sings with The U.S. Army Chorus.

Giuliano has had some memorable performances of his own. He has appeared in operas, concerts and recitals throughout the United States and Europe. As a senior vocalist and soloist with The United States Army Chorus, he has performed for heads of state, royalty and presidents worldwide. At the funeral services for President Ronald Reagan, he sang an a cappella version of "Amazing Grace," President Reagan's favorite hymn.

“Since 1988, I have been serving my country while using my God-given voice to represent our great Army and our nation as a musical ambassador,” he says. “I am an American Soldier. My mission is to serve as a musical ambassador of the American combat Soldier -- instilling pride in our troops, promoting a spirit of patriotism within our nation, and sharing a universal vision of peace, liberty and freedom through music.”

As one of only three Army bands with a national touring mission, the Army Ground Forces Band has traveled throughout the United States, performing at local, regional and national events.
The band also performs internationally when directed. Last year the Army Ground Forces Band traveled to Kuwait, playing five concerts for hundreds of Soldiers and other service members who were deployed there in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

To learn more about the band or Sgt. 1st Class Giuliano, visit the band’s website www.forscom.army.mil/band.