13 November 2009

The Hill - Iraq Edition

It’s not the dirt that makes the hill; it’s the Sledgehammer Soldiers that make the hill.
Vol. 36 – November 13, 2009
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VETERANS DAY: GOT THE T-SHIRT
According to the Defense Manpower Data Center approximately 68 percent of Soldiers today have deployed to the Middle East at least once. That is especially true for Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. After their current deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the brigade will … Read more...
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FIRST TIME DEPLOYERS TAKE PRIDE IN WHAT THEY DO
War stories. In the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the only brigade in the U.S. Army to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom four times, they … Read more...
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RUMORS RUN RAMPANT
What’s in a rumor? I’d say two teaspoons of spilt beans, a pinch of boredom, a tablespoon of cold revenge, a dash of hope, 3 cups of embellishment, and an ounce of truth. It’s either a recipe for disaster, or bad clich├ęs - I’m not sure … Read more...
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SOLDIERS KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN
When Capt. Josh Beard, the commander of Company B, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, arrived at FOB Kalsu, he knew … Read more...
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MUDHOUSE PLAYERS ENTERTAIN THOUSANDS NEAR BABIL RUINS
The Mudhouse Players, a popular comedic troupe, performed for Iraqi citizens, U.S Soldiers and the Provincial Reconstruction Team at … Read more...
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BRIGADE FRSA ON FACEBOOK - 3rd Brigade FRSA
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COL. PETER JONES ON TWITTER - http://www.twitter.com/PJHammer6
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3RD HBCT ON TWITTER - http://twitter.hammerpao.com
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SHARE THE HILL! Forward THE HILL to your family and friends so they can hear the latest news from the SLEDGEHAMMER BRIGADE. Send them to http://www.hammerpao.com so they can get their very own copy every week.
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HAMMER PAO WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU!!
You read the news, and we want to give you the news you want to read!
If you or other 3rd HBCT Soldiers are doing some interesting training, volunteering in the community, or anything else that people should know about, let us know so we can feature what you do. Email 3hbct3id.pao@us.army.mil with your ideas.
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The 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 3rd HBCT Newsletter. This e-mail based newsletter offers information and happenings about the Soldiers of Kelley Hill, the 3rd Infantry Division and the Army. Use the provided links to see related photos and read more about each story on the PAO website, http://www.hammerpao.com.
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This newsletter is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army and their families. Contents of this newsletter are not necessarily the official views of, or are endorsed by, the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, or U.S. Forces Command. It is released weekly by the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, Fort Benning, Georgia, 31905. All editorial content of this newsletter is prepared, edited, provided and approved by the 3rd HBCT Public Affairs Office of Fort Benning, Georgia. For additional information email
3hbct3id.pao@us.army.mil

12 November 2009

Colonel (Ret.) Dr. Jeffrey D. McCausland Gives Briefing on Afghanistan

/PRNewswire/ -- "Afghanistan makes Iraq look easy," said Dr. Jeffrey McCausland at a recent private Carnegie Council briefing. There is consensus that Afghanistan is the most urgent foreign policy challenge facing the United States.

As the Obama administration continues to deliberate on whether to send more troops, Dr. McCausland began by laying out the U.S. options:

1. Leave altogether.

2. Adopt a limited counterterrorism strategy focused on destroying al-Qaeda.

3. Opt for the counterinsurgency strategy proposed by General McChrystal: send in more U.S. forces in an effort to not only defeat al-Qaeda but also the Taliban, and help create a stable nation that can, over time, protect itself. If we take this option, what are the costs and how long will we have to stay?

Dr. McCausland's thorough and objective briefing, illustrated with slides from CENTCOM, is now available to the general public on the Carnegie Council website: http://www.cceia.org/

-- Video in full (102 minutes)
-- Video highlights (49 minutes) -- available as a podcast
-- Audio -- available as a podcast
-- Transcript

The briefing provides a clear summary of the situation on the ground, including the fraught situation with Pakistan, relationships with NATO allies and their commitment to the military and reconstruction efforts, and the challenges of training Afghan troops and police forces.

In a paper written for the Carnegie Council this summer, Dr. McCausland's summary was that Afghanistan is now truly "Obama's war." The events of the intervening months underscore this assessment. It is crucial for his presidency that he get it right.

Dr. Jeffrey McCausland is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council and Visiting Professor of International Law and Diplomacy at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law at Carlisle, PA. He has been a frequent commentator on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan for CBS since early 2003.

This briefing was part of the Carnegie Council's Global Engagement Program.

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10 November 2009

1st Annual PTC Veterans Memorial Event

Photo: Representatives from VFW Post 9949, American Legion Posts 105 and 50 and the Thomason Marine Corps League Detachment salute as the wreath is presented and taps is played.

The first patriotic event to be held at the new Falcon Field Veterans Memorial was a fitting christening of a memorial that will surely be the site of many more.

Under a clear blue sky and mild temperature, the event kicked off with an unexpected but welcomed fly over of a Marine Corps Huey helicopter that happened to be leaving for another Veterans Day event near Griffin.

“The Marine Corps pilot approached me and asked if I minded having a bit of a fly over, since he was planning to take off about the time we started,” said Randy Gaddo, the event coordinator, himself a retired Marine. “I couldn’t pass that up.” So the pilot lifted off shortly after 10 a.m. and made two low passes over the crowd of 300 or so approving spectators.

The event, MC’d by Booth Middle School Principal Ted Lombard, a retired Army officer, was interspersed with marching music and included a stirring accapella version of the National Anthem by 14-year old Atlanta recording artist Lindee Link, who lives in Peachtree City. She also sang her rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

Guest Speaker Retired Army Colonel Ben Malcom captivated the crowd with his accounts of top secret, behind-the-lines duties in the Korean War. His riveting reiteration of the now-declassified guerilla operations are detailed in his book, “White Tigers – My Secret War in North Korea.”

A commemorative wreath was presented by the four local veterans groups who helped sponsor the event: VFW Post 9949, American Legion Posts 105 and 50 and the Clyde Thomason Detachment of the Marine Corps League. Members from these groups also help set up and break down the site, provided traffic control and obtained food and refreshments.

Donuts, coffee, juice and other refreshments were provided by local sponsors to include the Peachtree City Walmart and Target stores, the Publix stores in Tyrone and in Peachtree City, the Peachtree City Kroger store in Braelinn Shopping Center, the Peachtree City Cheers Beverage store, Line Creek Beverage and Starbucks both at the Avenue and PTC East.

Cadets from the Falcon Field Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron-116 smartly presented the American flag to begin the event and retired the colors to close it. Scouts from Troop 75 led the Pledge of Allegiance.

“The turnout was good for being the first year we’ve had the event at the new memorial,” said Gaddo. “I believe we can build on this year’s success and make next year even better.”
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Wounded Warrior Project Urges the Senate to Support Crucial Family Caregiver Legislation

/PRNewswire/ -- As Veterans Day approaches, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, is urging Congress to pass crucial legislation that will assist the family caregivers of the most severely injured veterans.

The Family Caregiver Legislation that WWP has been strongly advocating for has been merged into a larger Veterans Health Care Bill. This larger bill is now referred to as Senate Bill 1963 (S.1963), the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009.

"We must swiftly move past the notion that the Department of Veterans Affairs assists veterans but not their families," said Wounded Warrior Project Executive Director Steven Nardizzi. "Family caregivers of the most severely injured veterans continue to suffer emotionally and financially while caring for their loved ones. We're stretching these families to the breaking point and, without immediate assistance from VA, many of our brave, young warriors will be doomed to a lifetime in a nursing home. Every day that passes without a comprehensive family caregiver program for veterans is a day too long."

Over 34,000 members of our nation's armed forces have been wounded. Many of the physical wounds have healed but for some the journey does not end there. Typically, with catastrophic injuries, a parent or spouse is forced to leave the workforce to care for their loved one. In some instances, the veteran requires help with such basic needs as washing and showering, feeding, dressing, administering medications, and getting to physician and therapy appointments. Some who have suffered traumatic brain injury, often complicated by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, need near-constant supervision to ensure their safety. Further, these family caregivers need their own support like health coverage and mental health counseling to sustain their important efforts.

Wounded Warrior Project urges every concerned American to call and email their Senators asking that they support S. 1963. For more information and to take action, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org/S1963.

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Humana Military Encourages South Region TRICARE Beneficiaries to Get Their H1N1 Flu Vaccines

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Humana Military Healthcare Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), encourages TRICARE South Region beneficiaries to get their H1N1 influenza vaccinations in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. Anticipating a greater need for the shots, the Department of Defense (DoD) is encouraging all military personnel to obtain the vaccines.

The DoD waived the deductible, cost shares and co-payments accompanied with acquiring this particular vaccine, therefore TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra beneficiaries may get the vaccine from either a network or non-network provider. Prime enrollees may also obtain this shot without the referrals and authorizations normally required for immunizations. This temporary waiver is in effect from October 1, 2009 – May 1, 2010.

“We believe the H1N1 virus is on the minds of everyone this flu season,” said John Crum, MD, chief medical officer of Humana Military. “It is important our beneficiaries know the steps they need to take to acquire the vaccine and how to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Crum.

Tips for preventing the seasonal flu and H1N1 virus include:

* Washing your hands with soap and warm/hot water
* Using an alcohol-based sanitizer when hand washing is not possible
* Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
* Avoiding contact with your nose, eyes and mouth
* Avoiding contact with people who are sick
* Staying home if you have flu-like symptoms.

TRICARE covers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s approved immunizations and vaccines according to age and frequency guidelines from birth through adulthood.

Along with getting vaccinations at a Primary Care Manager (PCM) office or Military Treatment Facility (MTF), the addition of select MinuteClinic locations to the Humana Military provider network offers beneficiaries a convenient alternative for preventive services, including the H1N1 shots. MinuteClinics are open seven-days-a-week and there is no appointment necessary. Active duty and reserve personnel should check with their MTF on where to receive their vaccinations.

The target population receiving priority in obtaining the H1N1 vaccine includes:

* Pregnant women
* People who live with or care for children younger than six months of age
* Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
* People between the ages of six months and 24 years
* People between the ages of 25 – 64 at higher risk for H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune system.

Beneficiaries should contact their provider ahead of time to find out if the vaccine is available. To find a provider near you, please visit Humana Military’s web-based provider locator at www.humana-military.com or call 1-800-444-5445.

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09 November 2009

ACE Launches Web Site To Connect Veterans to Higher Education

/PRNewswire/ -- As the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day, the American Council on Education (ACE) today launched www.TodaysGIBill.org, a comprehensive college guidance web site to provide information and inspire veterans to enroll and succeed in higher education.

Created with the support of Lumina Foundation for Education, TodaysGIBill.org is designed for returning and about-to-return veterans interested in going to college, as well as family members and dependents receiving transferable benefits.

The passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 greatly increased benefits available to veterans. However, research indicates that despite the generosity of the new benefit, obstacles still remain for veterans considering postsecondary education, including juggling family and work responsibilities, transitioning to life after military service, adjusting to classroom life, and accessing and using benefits.

In order to increase the number of veterans enrolling in and completing a college education, TodaysGIBill.org provides detailed information that will help demystify the college selection, admissions and financing processes. The site offers guidance on college preparation, transferability of credits, institution and program choice, application timelines and benefit eligibility.

"More than 2 million service men and women have earned Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, which they can use at more than 4,000 accredited, degree-granting institutions nationwide. TodaysGIBill.org provides clear, concise information that we hope will ease the transition from soldier to student," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad.

"The development of human capital is a cornerstone of today's economic vitality," added Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina Foundation for Education. "Veterans are an exceptionally well-prepared and often unrecognized group that can help meet the need for millions more Americans with high quality postsecondary degrees and credentials. This important web site will provide veterans with the critical information and resources they need to succeed."

"Our focus group and survey research has shown that after leaving the military, it can be challenging for veterans to find reliable, one-stop sources of information about all of their education options. TodaysGIBill.org will help them make the most of their benefits, identify 'veteran friendly' campuses, and find the college or university that fits them best," said James Selbe, ACE assistant vice president for lifelong learning.

The site highlights success stories of current student veterans who are pursuing a college education. "It was important to me to make sure that my military service only postponed my time in college, not gave it away," said Matt Randle, an Army veteran and student at the University of Arizona who is featured on TodaysGIBill.org. "There was a maze of paperwork and bureaucracy to tackle, but without my GI Bill benefits, I wouldn't be enrolled in college, enjoying the experience and investing in myself."

To reach veterans who are seeking information about their benefits and their education options, ACE is engaging a wide range of veteran-service organizations, military-focused publications and social media outlets like Twitter (www.twitter.com/todaysgibill).

TodaysGIBill.org is part of ACE's Serving Those Who Serve: Higher Education and America's Veterans, a broad-based initiative designed to promote access to and success in higher education for more than 2 million service members and their families who are eligible for newly expanded benefits under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Resources available include information on campus best practices, a Q&A document on provisions of the new GI Bill, and an issue brief on the challenges veterans face when transitioning to campus.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives.

Lumina Foundation for Education is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college -- especially low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Our goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change.

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06 November 2009

Clayton State Veterans Day Events… Nov. 11, Nov. 12

Clayton State University will be celebrating Veterans Day on Wednesday, Nov.11 and Thursday, Nov.12 with several events and displays.

The University's tribute to veterans will begin on Nov. 11 with an outdoor ceremony in the Lawson Amphitheater, adjacent ot Swan Lake on the Clayton State campus. The ceremony will run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will include a “Posting of Colors” by the Clayton State ROTC program, which will provide the Color Guard and music for the ceremony. Clayton State Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. David Furman, a veteran, will provide the keynote address.
Also on Nov. 11, a veterans reception/mixer will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the James M. Baker Center. The public is invited, including all local VFW groups, who will be honored guests. The Clayton State ROTC program and the Clayton State Student Veterans Association (SVA) will have information tables set up on Main Street outside of the reception/mixer.

At the same time, and running until 6 p.m., on Main Street in the Baker Center, an Appreciation Banner will be available for everyone to write messages of gratitude for veterans both on and off campus. The Appreciation Banner will be on three tables set up on Main Street. The Appreciation Banner will be available through Thursday, Nov. 12. There will also be war memorabilia displays on Main Street, contributed by faculty and VFW members.

At 6 p.m. in the ballroom of the Student Activity Center, students, faculty, staff and the public are invited to come out and learn to swing dance.

The displays, including the Appreciation Banner and the ROTC and SVA displays, will continue on Main Street through 2 p.m. on Nov. 12. AT the conclusion of the displays, the Appreciation Banner will be rolled up and delivered to the VA Hospital/Hospice. In addition, the SVA will hold a prize drawing for a dozen give-a-ways at 2 p.m.

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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04 November 2009

Department Receives First H1N1 Vaccine Shipments

The Defense Department has started receiving H1N1 vaccines and will begin distributing doses in the coming weeks.

The Health and Human Services Department is distributing the vaccines, manufactured by four producers, to the department. Because rates of production vary among the manufacturers, supplies are expected to be limited initially, but to increase over time, said Ellen P. Embrey, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

The department “is working closely with HHS to receive its full allocation of vaccine as soon as possible,” Embrey said. Vaccinations are mandatory for military members, and as the quantity of doses on hand grows, officials anticipate Defense Department facilities will receive sufficient numbers to make the vaccine available to all of the department’s employees and beneficiaries, she said.

Meanwhile, Defense Department officials have implemented a plan to maintain mission readiness while ensuring those at greatest risk get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines first will be made available to deployed personnel, bases that receive new military accessions, such as basic training installations and the service academies, and all health-care workers assigned to military medical treatment facilities.

Department providers should balance mission requirements with guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control in determining who should receive vaccine when supplies are limited, Embrey said.

The arrival of the vaccines comes as CDC officials underscore the importance of remaining vigilant amid the rising incidence of flu nationwide.

“I would reiterate that we have more virus, more vaccine, and we have more treatment,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden told reporters at an Oct. 30 news conference in Atlanta. “We encourage the prompt treatment of people who have underlying conditions.”

CDC officials have identified groups they consider at a high risk of developing severe illness if they contract the flu: pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months, health-care and emergency medical services personnel, people between 6 months and 24 years of age, then those between 25 and 64.

President Barack Obama is “deeply concerned” about H1N1, Frieden said.

“He’s directly involved, he’s briefed regularly, he asks a series of important and relevant questions, and he wants to make sure that we are doing absolutely everything we possibly can to respond effectively as we can,” he said.

In determining how to distribute supplies, Embrey said, military commanders, in collaboration with their medical authorities, will determine the best method to allocate the vaccine when demand exceeds supply. As more vaccine is received, it will be made available to all active-duty servicemembers, civilian employees, members of military reserve components and National Guard personnel.

Immunization for both seasonal flu and H1N1 is mandatory for all military personnel and is highly recommended for beneficiaries. When the first cases of H1N1 were diagnosed in April, a defense official said, the department bought 2.7 million doses of the vaccine for mission-assurance purposes.

HHS later provided 1 million doses to the Defense Department, raising the number to 3.7 million, according to Dr. Robert Morrow, the preventive medicine programs and policy officer for the Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery’s force health protection function.

In addition to vaccines being received for operational personnel, Defense Department medical treatment facilities are receiving vaccine for family members based upon a separate allocation to each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Officials also have completed an agreement with HHS to provide vaccine for family members living outside the United States.

Vaccine for family members, like that for the active-duty and civilian work force, will arrive at military medical treatment facilities incrementally, Embrey said.

By John J. Kruzel American Forces Press Service
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President Obama's Defense Team Reverses Decision and Completes Missile Defense Fields in Alaska

/PRNewswire/ -- Riki Ellison, President and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org went on record today praising President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on their decision to build and complete 14 additional ground-based interceptor silos in Alaska. His comments on this significant national decision are as follows:

"It is with great respect to the Department of Defense and to the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, that their decision to only field half of the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) silos in Missile Field 2 at Fort Greely, Alaska, has been reversed, as the Department of Defense will now fully construct, complete and field all of the 14 silos in Missile Field 2. This decision by the Secretary of Defense is sound, cost-effective for the U.S. tax payers and a forward risk reduction position for our nation and our public for their security against threats of long-range ballistic missiles. The United States can now have the capability and capacity to deploy 44 Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) in 44 silos. This is a significant decision that will allow our nation to have a 'hedge' and lower the risk to our national security if in the future Iran, North Korea or other rouge nation states choose to threaten the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS)."

"With this decision, the current long-range ballistic missile defense for all of our nation, including Hawaii and Alaska, will have (20) silos in Missile Field 3, (14) Silos in Missile Field 2, (6) Silos in Missile Field 1 in Fort Greely, Alaska and (4) silos in Vandenberg AFB, California for a total of (44) silos. However, the 6 silos in Missile Field 1 in Fort Greely are still scheduled to be 'moth balled' once missile field 2 is constructed and in full operation."

"The Administration is standing firm on deploying 30 GBI's for our nation's protection but clearly has the opportunity to increase those numbers up to 44 if the threat becomes more apparent. A decision is still being decided by the Department of Defense whether or not to field all of the silos in missile field 2 in Fort Greely, Alaska with Ground-Based Interceptors. We encourage and support a decision to fully deploy the 14 missiles in missile field 2, as deploying the GBIs in the newest silos would lower cost, reduce risk and hold higher confidence for those that command and man the missile defense system."

"We applaud and appreciate the rational thinking done by the President, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and the current Administration to complete missile field 2 in Fort Greely. We also extend our gratitude to the support given by the leadership from Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska and his colleagues for bringing the decision on Missile Field 2 for reconsideration to the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. MDAA has been at the forefront of this issue and had the honor and privilege of visiting Fort Greely, Alaska this past September to view the missile fields."

Ellison closed his comments saying: "This significant and definitive decision by the Secretary of Defense and the President to reassess the current world and future threats to our national security and homeland is a leap forward from what it was earlier for the protection of the American public from long range missiles."

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