Thursday, July 30, 2009

Turnover Pays Unforeseen Benefits, General Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

July 30, 2009 - The commander of Multinational Corps Iraq said an unanticipated result of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement is that relationships between Iraqi and U.S. commanders have improved. Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates this week that the improvement means better operations, better sharing of intelligence and better security for the Iraqi people.

The security agreement called for all American combat troops to be out of Iraqi cities and villages by June 30. American forces started pulling out of these areas in November, and Iraqi security forces took over the protection mission. American forces now are outside the cities and advise Iraqi commanders. They also are available if Iraqi forces need assistance.

Better cooperation between Iraqi and U.S. units has been an outgrowth -- and a pleasant surprise -- for all, Jacoby said. "The reason is the construct on 30 June is about Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi security forces pridefully stepping up and providing security for their population," he said.

"U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces are really sitting down and sharing operations, sharing intelligence, and really working out tactics, techniques and procedures," the general continued. They are taking a broad security agreement and tailoring it to find ways to operate together, he added.

"Across the board, when I talk to my commanders, they tell me they are having better cooperation and developing more meaningful relationships with Iraqi commanders post-30 June," he said.

Jacoby and Iraqi ground forces commander Gen. Ali Giban sponsored a July 9 video teleconference with 500 Iraqi and U.S. commanders to discuss the agreement and the "rules of the road" governing relations between coalition and Iraqi forces. Cooperation among commanders immediately improved as a result of that, said Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Multinational Force Iraq commander.

Gates said security conditions in Iraq are to the point where he may approve speeding up the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The United States has 14 brigades in Iraq today, with two scheduled to leave the country by the end of the year. If security conditions continue to improve, another brigade may leave and not be replaced before the end of the year, leaving 11 U.S. brigades in Iraq.

All this depends on continued improvement, and much can still happen in Iraq, Gates acknowledged.

Iran remains a problem inside Iraq, Jacoby said.

"Over the years, we have seen persistent Iranian influence across all domains -- political, training for insurgents, lethal aid," he said. "Iran has supported insurgent activities in Iraq, and we still see that today."

In addition, Arab-Kurd relations could be a flashpoint in northern Iraq. Jacoby said the Iraqis are going to have to solve the political differences between themselves. "From a security standpoint, I have to set the conditions so the political process can work," he said. "We do that by partnering."

He pointed to Operation Glad Tidings and Benevolence 2 in May in Diyala. This operation included Kurdish and Iraqi government security forces working together along a disputed internal boundary. Coalition forces supported the effort. "It was coordinated, it was combined and it was without incident," Jacoby said. "Coalition forces play an important, useful role in helping all sides see themselves -- not by intervening, not by interceding, but by helping each side know exactly what the intents and capabilities are and communicating back up the chains of command."

The security picture in Iraq differs depending on where you look, the general said. In Anbar province, the security environment is positive. A series of attacks took place after June 30, but well below the 12-week average and well below previous years. "We're comfortable with the security environment in Anbar, and there is a good partner relationship between the Multinational Forces West -- our Marine elements -- and Iraqi forces," Jacoby said.

In the north, security has improved in the last year, but Mosul remains a concern. Iraqi security forces have moved into the lead in the city and are doing a good job in a tough situation. "We expected continued violence. We also expected Iraqi forces to deal with the situation and lead, and that's what they're doing," the general said. "We have work to do, and there is still insurgent activities that have to be dealt with, but the Iraqis are handling it in a professional and diligent fashion."

In Baghdad, officials are satisfied with the degree of security that has held since June 30. Violent acts are well below past years, and Jacoby said a particularly good partnership exists between the Iraqi Baghdad Operation Center and Multinational Division Baghdad.

The general pointed to Iraqi security forces cooperating to protect a religious pilgrimage earlier this month, in which more than 2 million Shiia pilgrims journeyed to the Khadimiyah Shrine in Baghdad. "Iraqi forces were totally in the lead in providing security," he said. "It went off without a hitch or violence."

The successful pilgrimage demonstrated the credibility of Iraqi forces, Jacoby said. It also worked to test the new ways that coalition forces advise and enable rather than lead.

"Across the board, still have work to do, still partnered," he said. "Outside the cities, we're still engaged with our Iraqi security partners in the full spectrum of operations. In the cities, Iraqi forces are totally in the lead."

Credit belongs to American servicemembers for their flexibility and resilience, Jacoby said.

"We've asked our soldiers to adapt to a changing environment since they got here in 2003," he said. "That's the heart and soul of our formations: young leaders being able to understand the mission is different and being able to change as needed. We've asked tremendous things of our young soldiers and our young leaders, and they have stepped up every time."

Uncertainty About Military Suicides Frustrates Services

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

July 30, 2009 - The most frustrating part about suicide prevention is the uncertainty about what causes troops to take their lives, top military leaders said here yesterday. This near-unanimous chorus was sounded on Capitol Hill when the second-ranking military officers of each service testified about military mental health before the House Armed Services Committee. "The most frustrating thing is trying to find a cause," said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff.

The Army last week launched a study group comprising the military, National Institute of Mental Health, academia and other members in hopes of better understanding the underlying causes of suicide.

The largest study of behavioral health ever undertaken by the Army will examine behavioral health, psychological resilience, suicide risk, suicide-related behaviors and suicide deaths across the active and reserve components over all phases of a soldier's career, Chiarelli said.

The $50 million study will present findings quarterly, with preliminary results due in November. Chiarelli said the findings could be incorporated in real time into treatment programs. The Army had a record number of suicides in 2007 with 115, and again in 2008 with 139.

"[The study group] realizes this is not business as usual. We're not going to wait for the final results of the study," the general said, referring to the project's five-year timeline. "We feel that this could be huge -- huge for the Army, the Department of Defense and quite frankly, for America."

The general predicted that an early recommendation will be to relieve stress on the force by increasing the amount of time troops spend at home relative to the length of time deployed. Chiarelli said deployment stress has shown to manifest itself in high-risk behaviors in soldiers.

"Unfortunately, in a growing segment of the Army's population, we've seen increased stress and anxiety manifest itself through high-risk behaviors, including acts of violence, excess use of alcohol, drug abuse and reckless driving," he said.

Accordingly, the military is trying to address the broader issues underlying psychological problems that sometimes lead to suicide. "Suicide is an extreme indicator," Chiarelli said.

Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, vice chief of naval operations, said the military's suicide prevention should place greater emphasis on troops after they return home from deployment.

"The reality of it is, the target for [these programs] needs to be the assimilation of those who have served back into the general population dealing with the day to day -- whether it's families, their kids, their education, their bills, and the relationship stressors associated with it," Walsh said.

"Our folks, while they're deployed, generally are OK," he said. "When they return from the cocoon of deployment, it's those first six months that are often a vulnerable time."

Echoing this finding, Gen. James F. Amos, the assistant Marine Corps commandant, said Marines generally are happy when deployed. "When they return home is when they are most at risk," he said.

In the Marine Corps, those who take their lives tend to be a certain demographic: a white male in the junior enlisted ranks, age 18 to 24, and the most common form of suicide was a fatal gunshot wound or hanging, which mirrors the civilian population.

But while most Marines who committed suicide -- 42 in 2008 -- had recently experienced a failed relationship, Amos bemoaned the lack of a more comprehensive understanding of the root causes. "We're doing abysmal," he told the legislators.

Gen. William M. Fraser III, Air Force vice chief of staff, expressed optimism that an increased number of airmen seeking assistance indicates a reduction of the stigma sometimes attached to mental health treatment. But in a quarter of the cases of Air Force suicides since 2003, that assistance was insufficient, he said.

"That's the most frustrating, is when you provide things and still it's just not enough. And you never really ever know 'What else could I have done?'" he asked ruefully. "'What else could we have done to help them to not lose hope in the face of despair and then commit that fateful act?'"

McHugh Notes Challenges at Confirmation Hearing

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

July 30, 2009 - U.S. Rep. John McHugh's inspiration to serve as secretary of the Army lies in his desire to repay the devotion to duty exuded by today's military members despite the many challenges he'll face, the New York congressman said here today at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing. "For all the excitement of this moment, I want to assure this committee that I appear here with few delusions as of the difficulties that lie ahead," President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Defense Department's largest organization said. "I believe I have a clear understanding of the serious and numerous challenges that face America's Army.

"They are strained by the frequency of constant deployments and stress by the pressures levied against their families," he continued. "Too often -- far too often -- they return home to only to be disappointed by a network of support systems that, despite high intentions and constant effort, continue to fall short of the level of support they so richly deserve and each and every one of us so deeply desire."

McHugh said the challenges that await him if he's confirmed have no easy answers. But providing longer "dwell time" at home stations between deployments, improving family support and services and balancing the growing needs for equipment with a decreasing budget will continue to be his focus, he said. These issues have been at the top of his priority list for some time, the former ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee noted.

"I know from personal experience the concerns and efforts each of you put forth each and every day in support of the great men and women of the military who, along with their families, sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms and our liberties wherever and whenever that challenge might arise," McHugh said. "And I have been fortunate to work in your shadow in a similar cause."

McHugh noted the difficulties that come along with balancing tough choices and decisions. He recognized that resources that may have been more abundant for the Army in the past -- such as supplemental wartime budgets in addition to the overall budget -- likely would continue to diminish.

He quoted a recent statement by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in which Gates said the Defense Department "cannot afford to do everything and buy everything, but, at the same time, we cannot afford defeat."

"That's a tough challenge -- tough realities. But both can be met and overcome," McHugh said. "It will take a constant formulation of new thinking and new direction."

Success also is going to require a reinvention and reinvigoration of government resources, he added. He called for the expertise of organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development to be used effectively to augment responsibilities and, when possible, to help to end conflicts. It should be a requirement that the Army and all the services "do their part to facilitate the effective implementation of nonkinetic tools," he said.

But in the end, he said, the military family and community and their service to the nation is the bottom line. He recalled visits to wounded warriors and to the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite dealing with life-changing disabilities and separation from their families, he said, the devotion of military members to serve continues to grow and encourage others.

"I've visited our wounded warriors at home and abroad," he said, "and in each visit, I have been struck how these heroes, facing pain and loss and uncertainty, ask only one question: What else can I do to serve?

"We can ask no less of ourselves," he added. "How can we succeed in repaying even a partial measure of the devotion they render to all of us each and every day?"

McHugh was nominated June 2 to replace Pete Geren as Army secretary. He is a 16-year member of Congress and serves New York's 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses Fort Drum and some of the Army's most frequently deployed soldiers.

The confirmation hearing also included Joseph W. Westphal, nominated for the Army's second-ranking civilian position as undersecretary. Westphal was confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works in 1998, and in 2001, he served briefly as the acting secretary of the Army. He's now a university system professor of political science at the University of Maine.

Juan Garcia III also provided testimony for his nomination to be the Navy's undersecretary for manpower and reserve affairs. Garcia, a lawyer in Corpus Christi, Texas, served 13 years of active duty as a Navy aviator.

Leadership Author to Speak at Professional Mojo Workshop Lineup

Editor's Note: The author is a former servicemember.

Professional Mojo, a national service provider of online workshop content for small businesses, nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs, today announced the addition of Lt. Raymond Foster, best-selling author, and trainer, to their online workshop schedule in August for
Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style.

Using poker as analogy for
leadership, Captain Andrew Harvey, CPD (ret.), Ed.D. and Lieutenant Raymond Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA, found the right mix of practical experience and academic credentials to write a definitive book for leaders. Working together, Harvey and Foster have written Leadership: Texas Hold em Style. Most often leaders find they are given a set of resources people, equipment, funds, experience and a mission. As Foster noted, "You're dealt a certain hand. How you play that hand as a leader determines your success." They are now bringing this learning to the Professional Mojo community.

“We are thrilled to have Lt. Foster with us. He offers practical, easy to follow steps that leaders in all businesses can instantly identify with and incorporate into their organization. I know it will be a content-rich presentation,” commented Lee Brogden-Culberson, Chief Mojo Officer with Professional Mojo.

A graduate of the West Point
Leadership program, 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 degree from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton.

Foster is a noted author who has published numerous articles in magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and on radio programs in the United States and Europe as a subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

His first book, Police Technology, is used in over 100 colleges and universities nationwide. He latest book,
Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style, has been adopted by several universities for course work in leadership, by several civil service organizations and has been well received in the wider market.

Professional Mojo is a boutique company that specializes in helping new, early stage and small business owners leverage social media and organic lead generation to reach customers and prospects directly. Website design services are available to those wishing to expand on what they learn in the workshop. The Mojo Mavens also have a particular soft spot for nonprofit and faith-based organizations, and facilitate online workshops, keynote talks and in-person training just for them via Outreach Mojo.

For additional information on this release, please contact:
Rachael Gatzman
Phone: (866) 2611-2715

Professional Mojo welcomes Lt. Raymond E. Foster, best-selling author and trainer, to their online workshop
Leadership Texas Hold ‘em Style scheduled for Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Joint Forces Command Interagency Experiment Prepares for Crises

By Navy Petty 2nd Class Katrina Parker
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 30, 2009 - U.S. Joint Forces Command and its partners, including the Department of Homeland Security, have completed an experiment designed to enhance national security by providing joint force commanders with a better capability to share information with interagency, multinational and nongovernment agencies during crisis operations. During the Interagency Shared Situational Awareness (Limited Objective Experiment, Joint Forces Command's joint concept development and experimentation directorate conducted a series of experiments last week to address standards, policies and procedures involving sharing of information over a wide area.

"What we are trying to do here is create an environment and come up with a concept of operations that will enable seamless information sharing between [the Defense Department and] interagency and multinational partners," said Navy Cmdr. Chad Hixson, the project lead. "Often times, there are policies and procedures that stand in the way of doing that."

Hixson said that even when leadership is willing to share information with agencies, the people who actually are sitting at the desk might misunderstand existing policies or be impeded by barriers limiting trust between the organizations, thus interfering with information sharing. The experiment identified policies, procedures, cultural and trust issues that can block information sharing, Hixson said.

Participants included the Joint Staff, National Guard Bureau, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, the State Department, the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

"All the key players in national security are represented," said Navy Capt. Timothy Spratto, the experimentation directorate's capabilities solutions group lead. "There is a large coalition of the willing coalescing around this experiment to explore their information-sharing techniques."

Spratto said such operations and experiments build trust among participants by providing first-hand experience in the value of sharing information with partners while achieving their own objectives.

"This experiment is a great opportunity for those organizations to get together and look at the policies and procedures that impede information sharing," said Navy Cmdr. Gregory Sleppy, Joint Staff action officer and observer. "Each organization and department has their own rules on how they share things, and those rules are not always the same. We are trying to figure out what those things are that impede the progress and flow of information."

Sleppy cited problems in 2005's Hurricane Katrina response as an example of the need to share information between agencies and government to support the people involved with the disaster relief effort.

"People may not realize that right now those organizations do not operate on the same network and cannot share information effectively," Sleppy said. "There is no common depository or situational awareness between those organizations. As a decision maker, it is difficult to make good decisions without all the information. This experiment pulls all those organizations together down to the tactical level to see how we might come up with solutions for the future."

The interagency shared situational awareness experiment focused on three areas of information sharing: geospatial, file sharing and text chat. It used computer models and long-distance virtual connections that provided participants with a continuously evolving environment to simulate a crisis.

"All the agencies who participated saw an immediate improvement in their ability to share and receive information and build better situational awareness," Spratto said.

An analysis of the information gathered will determine the value of taking this new approach of information sharing into the field, he added. "We will determine if what we have accomplished is an improvement on existing information sharing architectures, methodologies, policies and processes," Spratto said. "If there is something we can deliver directly to present operators now to put into use immediately, we will look to move that into theater."

(Navy Petty 2nd Class Katrina Parker serves in the U.S. Joint Forces Command public affairs office.)

Colonel Discusses Multinational Airlift Operations from Hungary

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

July 30, 2009 - For the first time, 12 nations have come together, independently of NATO, to fly in support of their national requirements under the provisions of the Strategic Airlift Capability program, a U.S. military officer in Papa, Hungary, said yesterday. "While we don't take operational directions from [NATO], our nations are free to use their flying hours to support NATO missions," Air Force Col. John D. Zazworsky Jr., commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa Air Base, Hungary, said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable. The Heavy Airlift Wing is the multinational, operational-level unit of the SAC program.

The wing's upcoming airlift operations will provide the countries involved with the ability to support humanitarian missions and combat operations, Zazworsky said. Ten of the nations involved NATO members, and two are part of the Partnership for Peace program, a stepping-stone toward NATO membership, he added.

"Due to the combination of countries," he explained, "we are not directly aligned under NATO."

While the United States contributed the wing's first three C-17 Globemaster III transport jets as part of its investment in the program, the countries involved will acquire the others jointly this fall, the colonel said.

"Each nation gives and contributes in proportion to its share of flying hours," he explained. "The money accumulated from the countries participating has produced these aircraft and the support that goes with them."

The United States has the largest share of hours and the largest share of people. "Most leadership roles are shared by the four largest countries here: the U.S., Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands," Zazworsky said.

At the request of the other nations, several U.S. members, including flight instructors and loadmasters, play key roles, he added.

"Since we already have experienced C-17 crew members, it was the quickest way to get experienced, battle-tested crews together and quickly bring in the non-C-17 nations and get their new crew members up to speed," he said.

So far, Zazworsky said, the wing has flown two missions to the United States to acquire specialized heavy equipment and vehicles required for the missions ahead.

One of the primary requirements for participating nations is to support the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. "The large majority of our missions will be in support of troop and equipment rotation and resupply for ISAF in Afghanistan," Zazworsky said.

Because of the significance of future missions, the colonel emphasized three priorities within the wing: team, mission and future.

"We worked real hard to knit the members together -- and their families -- to get a strong team," he said. "Then, as we start to shift more and more to the mission piece, we'd have this foundation to stand on.

"I've got a very small wing on paper, but very big in impact I hope in the future," he added.

(Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby serves in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)