Military News

Saturday, June 07, 2008

USNS Mercy Mission Forms Partnerships, Provides Medical Help

by Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 6, 2008 - Forming partnerships with host and partner nations while offering medical assistance are key elements provided during the Pacific Partnership 2008 deployment aboard the
Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy, the ship's civil service master said yesterday. Since deploying May 1, Mercy has visited three provinces in the Philippines and is expected to visit four other countries.

"The planning of this mission began many, many months ago, and it began by the requests of the host nations to partner with them to provide humanitarian assistance and civil assistance,"
Navy Capt. James P. Rice, commanding officer of the medical treatment facility aboard Mercy, said in a teleconference with online journalists and bloggers.

Rice said many host-nation health care providers operate side by side with the Mercy staff.

"We have networked with the local health care system and the ministries of health to [ensure after-care is provided] to transition those patients into their health care system," Rice added.

During the deployment, Mercy also will visit Vietnam, East Timor and Micronesia, offering medical assistance, repairing infrastructures and providing donated medical equipment for the host nation's use.

"This is a full-service hospital with everything you would expect to find in a hospital back home," Rice said. "We have lots of capability to include medicine, pediatrics and surgery, as well as the ability to put people in the host nation and provide medical and dental care ashore."

Since their stop in the Philippines, Mercy's crew has seen more than 14,000 patients through medical and dental civil action programs ashore. Aboard Mercy, some 200 surgeries have been performed and 400 patients have been seen.

Civil service master Capt. Robert T. Wiley, commanding officer of Mercy, said many miracles have taken place aboard Mercy, such as a surgery that allowed a young boy with a crippling injury to walk.

"Six years ago, he was injured in a bomb explosion and his right leg was bent at the knee," Wiley said. "They did skin grafts and orthopedic surgery, and they got the leg to straighten."

He added that yesterday, in physical therapy aboard Mercy, the 14-year old boy walked for the first time with crutches.

Other miracles are being performed, such as 53 cleft lip palate surgeries performed by Operation Smile, or the 22-pound tumor recently removed from a Filipina woman, Wiley said. "In 2006, aboard Mercy, we took out a larger tumor, which was close to 30 or 40 pounds," he added.

The crew of Mercy is thrilled to participate in the Pacific Partnership 2008 mission, the ship's civil service master said.

"People who go to medical school and decide to wear the uniform are so excited about being here," he said. "This is their mission; they are at the tip of the spear and are extremely excited about this."

Accompanying the Mercy crew are doctors and dentists from Japan, Canada and Australia, but as the deployment continues, they will be welcoming medical practitioners from Chili, Portugal, Singapore and Indonesia. Nongovernmental organizations, such as Project HOPE also are accompanying the crew of Mercy.

"This is a great value to work together on a humanitarian basis, ... to prepare us to work together in a disaster situation where we already know each other and [will] be comfortable working together," Rice said.

Rice explained other capabilities Mercy also brings to the countries it visits.

"We have brought preventive medicine and environmental health providers on board to help with sanitation inspections and other public health preventative medicine programs," Rice said.

Mercy also has veterinarians aboard, performing important work on animals, which are a defining component of some host nations' economic stability, he added.

Construction battalion engineers round out the crew. They are actively engaged in a variety of projects ranging from repairing roofs and schools to replacing windows.

"All this will have an impact on their educational ability. By having a nice structure that will allow them to educate their children, there will be a long-term benefit," Rice said.

Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

NYPD Emergency Services Unit

Editor's Note: The guest is a Vietnam Vet.

June 5, 2008, 2008 (San Dimas, CA) On June 11, 2008, Conversations with Cops at the Watering Hole will feature an interview with Retired
NYPD Detective and former member of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit, Alan Sheppard.

Program Date: June 11, 2008
Program Time: 2100 hours, Pacific
NYPD Emergency Services Unit
Listen Live:

About the Guest
In the late 1960s, Detective
Alan Sheppard, NYPD (ret.), served two years with the United States Army. His service included deployment with the 101st Airborne Division to the Republic of South Vietnam. In 1969, Alan Sheppard joined the New York City Police Department. His first assignment was as a patrol officer in the 81st Precinct which is located in the north central area of the borough of Brooklyn. This neighborhood is known as "Bedford Stuyvesant." A small section along the southern border is referred to Stuyvesant Heights.

In 1974,
Alan Sheppard was assigned the Emergency Service Unit. The Emergency Services Unit of the NYPD is nation’s largest permanent emergency response team with over 400 personnel. The “ESU” provides specialized equipment, expertise and support; “from auto accidents to building collapses to hostage situations, ESU officers are called on when the situation requires advanced equipment and expertise.” In 1985, Alan Sheppard was assigned to the NYPD Intelligence Division and given dual status with the United States Marshals. In 1988, he worked an undercover assignment and in 1989 he was assigned to the Major Case Squad. Detective Alan Sheppard, NYPD (ret.) is the author of E-Man: Life in the NYPD Emergency Services Unit.

According to Lieutenant
Vernon Gebreth, NYPD (ret.), “Sheppard served in the NYPD during the urban warfare years and received his Baptism of Fire at the Williamsburg Siege. He was a decorated hero of the NYPD and member of the elite Emergency Services Unit (ESU). In his book, E-Man Al takes the reader on a non-stop roller coaster ride of emotions as he reveals life on the streets through the eyes of a combatant during the turbulent times and the work of the Emergency Services Unit—the same unit that the Police call when they need Help.”

According to one reader,
Alan Sheppard’s book, “is a fast paced account of a true story about a cop who not only carried people from burning buildings and off of bridges high above the waters of NYC but also saved a fellow cop from sure death by shooting his killer dead. You will not be able to put this book down! I urge to read how some people don't imagine how to be a hero but actually become one.”

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole.

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

New Computer Banner Balances Security, Privacy Considerations

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 6, 2008 - A new notice on Defense Department
computer screens ensures users understand that their e-mails are subject to monitoring, but also reinforces specific user privacy and confidentiality protections, the department's chief information officer said. The new language represents the first change since 1997 to the "notice and consent" banner that appears each time a user logs onto a Defense Department network or information system.

While clarifying the scope of the Defense Department's authorized monitoring of its networks and information systems, the revised language "absolutely preserves" user privacy and confidentiality guaranteed by law, according to John G. Grimes, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration.

"These changes to the banner and user agreement language help clarify the user's understanding of the broad nature of DoD's authorized monitoring practices, while simultaneously reaffirming DoD's commitment to respecting and protecting important private and confidential communications that are guaranteed for its personnel," Grimes said.

Communications between Defense Department users and their attorneys, clergy or psychotherapists are considered "privileged" and protected from monitoring.

"Although DoD has a long history of respecting such privileged relationships, the previous banner language did not expressly identify this protection for the user," Grimes said. "For the first time ever, the DoD banner and user agreement now specifically addresses these important protections."

The new banner notifies users that their systems may be monitored for "penetration testing, COMSEC (communications
security) monitoring, network defense, quality control, and employee misconduct, law enforcement and counterintelligence investigations."

It also includes a paragraph clarifying that passwords, access cards, encryption and biometric access controls are used to provide
security for the benefit of the government – not to provide personal privacy to employees.

The notice also will appear on government BlackBerry devices and other personal digital assistants and personal electronic devices, although the wording will be shorter than on computers.

Grimes emphasized that monitoring activities covered by the new banner language have been in effect for "a long time," but were not specifically named in the 1997-era banner language.

The new verbiage spells out the policy in light of a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces decision. The court ruled that the previous banner warning did not state clearly enough that employees have only limited privacy rights when using government computer systems.

In that case, a servicemember received notice that she was required to undergo a random urinalysis test. She, in turn, e-mailed several other people, discussing her fear that her drug use would be detected and the steps she had taken to avoid detection, officials in Grimes' office explained. Investigators used those e-mails as evidence in a prosecution. The servicemember was convicted and sentenced, but an appellate court set aside the findings and sentence, because the banner did not clearly state that there was no right of privacy in e-mails.

The revised banner will ensure all users of government computer systems understand the limited privacy protections, officials said.

Defense Department officials said monitoring is critical in ensuring government systems aren't compromised by viruses or hackers, and to identify threats as early as possible. "In order to protect DoD information systems, DoD needs to be able to monitor all traffic flowing through and across DoD systems," an official said.