Friday, February 05, 2010

Military Legal Resources

Official Records of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts

Geneva, 1974-1977

This 17-volume set includes the full text of all resolutions and protocols enacted at the four sessions of the Diplomatic Conference, held in Geneva from February 20 through March 29, 1974; February 3 through April 18, 1975; April 21 through June 11, 1976; and March 17 through June 10, 1977. The objective of the Conference was to study two draft Additional Protocols, relating to the protection of victims of international and non-international armed conflicts, that were prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Volume I contains the Final Act, the resolutions adopted by this Conference, and the draft Additional Protocols. Volume II contains the rules of procedure, the full list of participants, the report of the Drafting Committee, and the reports of the Credentials Committee for all four sessions of the Diplomatic Conference. Volumes III and IV contain the table of amendments. Volumes V through VII contain the summary records of the plenary meetings of the conference. The summary records and reports of Committees I, II, and III are contained in volumes VIII through XV. The summary records and reports of the Ad Hoc Committee on Conventional Weapons are in volume XVI. A complete table of contents of the sixteen volumes is in Volume XVII. (Library of Congress Call Number KZ6456.2 1978; OCLC Number 4616070)

View the Resource

Army to Increase Fiscal 2010 Base Operating Support by $500 Million

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. announced today that the Army is taking steps to increase funding by $500 million for Base Operating Support (BOS) in fiscal 2010.

"We will continue to look for efficiencies and best practices, but the bottom line is we will not shortchange our soldiers and their families," said McHugh.

The Army's Installation Management Command will continue to work closely with each installation to ensure its essential base operating support needs are met. Additionally, the Army will conduct a comprehensive mid-year review of all installation BOS accounts to ensure installations can meet Army priorities.

"The secretary and I remain committed to ensuring our soldiers and families get the support they need and we will continue to provide the resources to do that," Casey reiterated.

For more information media may contact Col. Catherine Abbott at 703-693-4723.

Military to Continue China Outreach, Official Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 5, 2010 - The U.S. military will continue to reach out to China's military to foster relations as both nations expand their presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific affairs said yesterday. "From this administration, you will hear the consistent theme that the United States is a Pacific nation in every regard – geopolitically, militarily, diplomatically, and economically," Robert Scher told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a 12-member panel of public and private sector experts on Asian affairs, at a meeting on Capitol Hill. "Asia and the Pacific are indispensible to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century."

The hearing came a week after Chinese officials in Beijing declared a suspension of military relations with the United States in retaliation for the Obama administration's recent announcement of a nearly $6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway province.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said then that he hoped any downturn in U.S.-China military relations would be temporary. He cited a law passed three decades ago that allows the United States to support Taiwanese defense, despite the two countries' lack of formal diplomatic ties. He said similar arms deals exchanged under the Bush administration also angered Beijing, prompting the Chinese to cool military-to-military relations with Washington.

Scher did not address the arms deal in his prepared remarks before the commission, but said U.S. alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines "remain the bedrock of our presence and engagement in Asia-Pacific."

The administration is committed to strengthening those alliances to address continuing and emerging challenges in the region, as well as to build on relations with other key Pacific players such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, he said.

Scher noted that China is expanding its relationships throughout Asia, while growing both its economy and its military. While most Southeast Asian states have been receptive to defense engagements with China, the country is "long from becoming the security partner of choice to the region as a whole," he said.

U.S. officials do not view China's engagements in the region as "a zero-sum game," Scher said. In fact, he said, "we see great potential for China to bring its growing capacities to bear in support of finding common solutions to common problems," such as counterpiracy, nonproliferation, counternarcotics and humanitarian assistance.

A continued point of contention in U.S.-China military relations has been China's increasingly assertive position on maritime and territorial issues in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, partly due to the country's increasing demand for oil and natural gas, Scher said. The United States will continue to work with its allies in the region to ensure that international policies are followed to allow full navigational rights in the region, he added.

"We strongly object to behavior that puts at risk the safety of our vessels and is a clear violation of international norms of behavior in ocean waters outside territorial seas," he said. "Our military activity in this region is routine and in accordance with customary international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention."

Meanwhile, the United States is seeking a greater presence in the Asia-Pacific region through a "whole-of-government" approach, Scher said, while "clearly demonstrating through word and deed that U.S. forces will remain present and postured as the preeminent military force in the region."

The complexity of today's security environment calls for continuous dialogue between the U.S. and Chinese armed forces at all levels and expansion of cooperation, Scher said.

The United States and China both seek regional stability, economic growth and to stem the rise of extremism in the region, he noted.

"As China's international role expands, and its defense engagements in Southeast Asia increases, our two militaries will increasingly find themselves operating in the same space," Scher said. "We need to have sustainable and reliable communication channels to ensure that China understands our interests and does not seek to challenge them militarily."

Wisconsin Army Guard brigade takes major step in transformation

By Sgt. Andy Poquette
157th Brigade Public Affairs

February 5, 2010 - Changing missions can be difficult. Changing missions after 90 years can be extremely difficult, but that's exactly what the Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) are doing. After 90 years as the 57th Field Artillery Brigade, the Soldiers of the newly transformed 157th MEB, headquartered in Milwaukee, are taking on new roles, new responsibilities, and new challenges.

"As a field artillery brigade, throughout the ' 80s and ' 90s, we had one mission - field artillery," said 157th MEB Command Sgt. Maj. Brad Shields. "Our annual training was the same each year - go to Fort McCoy and fire. Now, as a maneuver enhancement brigade, we have opportunities for those willing to breathe new life into the organization."

The maneuver enhancement brigade is a new Army concept that focuses on battlefield command and control. Unlike specialized units of the past, the MEB is able to own ground on the battlefield, thereby assuming responsibility of a piece of land. This responsibility can encompass everything from route clearance and military police to civil affairs and air space management.

"A maneuver enhancement brigade is an organization that is designed to provide command and control for a designated area," explained Sgt. Maj. Charles Kirchner, chief operations sergeant for the 157th MEB. "This can be during war or peace time. We are a unit comprised of subject matter experts in the areas of military police, CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear], aviation, operations, area management, logistics and engineering."

The brigade began its transition in 2007 with a complete restructuring of the organization. Maintenance, chemical, signal and engineer units were created from previously existing field artillery battalions and brigade detachments. This restructuring presented new opportunities for Soldiers, and new training challenges.

"Our biggest challenge during this transition has been getting our Soldiers qualified in the new MOS skill sets that are required for the MEB," Kirchner said. "But it is important to remember that with this transition we are now more relevant to the current world situation both in peace and wartime."

Shields said that change is good.

"Change grows an organization," he said. "With this transition, Soldiers have the opportunity to become much more diverse in their skill set. While it has been a challenge for our Soldiers to get the required schools completed, you have to keep your eye on the end state.

"Each new job makes you more marketable both as a Soldier and civilian, and creates advancement opportunity," Shields continued. "For senior NCOs we are looking for a broad background. Understanding of other jobs is critical to advancement to a leadership position." With the change to a MEB, officer and senior NCO positions have nearly doubled at the brigade headquarters, and Soldiers have more opportunity to advance than ever before. Soldiers of the 157th can specialize in military police, chemical, air space management, public affairs, civil military operations, engineering, medical and liaison from the rank of private to colonel.

Recently Soldiers in the 157th MEB headquarters element had a chance to test their new specializations at the brigade's first warfighter exercise, held at Fort Leonard Wood's Maneuver Support Center. The week-long training exercise was designed to establish a baseline for how far the brigade has come in its transition.

"The exercise went very well," Shields said. "It was an opportunity for the MEB to exercise at its elementary stage, its tactical standard operating procedure. It's all been theory so far, and we really haven't had an opportunity to practice."

Shields said the exercise proved to be a major stepping stone which set benchmarks for the brigade.

"We have a plan, and now we have a base," he said. "We can work towards the plan and our goals. Without this, you don't have a clear picture."

This exercise was the first of many planned for the brigade, with a corps-level warfighter scheduled for next year. Going forward, the brigade plans to use what it learned at Fort Leonard Wood to refine its training plan, and rehearse the military decision-making process. Focus is now shifting from individual training to section-level training.

"Section training is key," Shields said. "The entire section needs to understand its role. For drill weekends, we plan to have staff members drill on Fridays once a quarter to handle administrative work so drills focus on section training. We also rewrote the operations order for the warfighter exercise to continue the fight at [the] armory. We will continue training from the exercise at a section level."

The transformation of the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is part of the Army's strategic initiative to move towards a modular, multi-functional force.

NORAD Plans Air Patrols for Super Bowl

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 5, 2010 - Fighter jet crews from North American Aerospace Defense Command's Continental United States Region will be busy Feb. 7 protecting the skies around Sun Life Stadium in Miami during Super Bowl XLIV. Air Force fighter jets will be airborne while enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration's temporary flight restriction zone during the big game.

"As America's air defenders, we have a total team mindset," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Garry Dean, commander of NORAD's Continental United States Region. "Special events like this world-renowned sporting event take precise coordination with all mission partners, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FAA and local law enforcement."

In preparation for the Super Bowl, the FAA will impose a temporary flight restriction over the greater Miami area. Air Force fighters will be on patrol, and Customs and Border Protection assets also will fly during the event. This interagency partnership helps to ensure the safety of the skies over the stadium, officials said.

Airmen at the 601st Air and Space Operations Center here will closely monitor all air activity while the FAA temporary flight restriction is in place, said Air Force Col. Randy Spears, the center's commander.

"The men and women of this AOC monitor the skies 24/7 ... for the contiguous United States, and Sunday's special event is another part of our mission set," Spears said.

The flights will have minimal impact on aircraft in the area and are not in response to any specific threat, officials said.

"We want citizens to know that we are always on the job, and defending our homeland from air threats is our number one priority," Dean said.

(From a NORAD Continental United States Region news release.)

Military Prepares to Support Super Bowl XLIV

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 5, 2010 - As the excitement builds in the minutes before the Super Bowl kickoff, four Air National Guard F-15 Eagle fighter jets will scream over Miami's Sun Life Stadium in a dramatic show of military support for the big game. The F-15s, from the Florida Air National Guard's 125th Fighter Wing, will time their flyover to begin just as country music superstar Carrie Underwood belts out the last note of the national anthem, reported Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Bittner, the 125th Wing's public affairs officer.

Air Force Lt. Col. John Black, who goes by the call sign "Homer," will lead the formation, followed by Wing Commander Col. Bob "Squirt" Branyon. Lt. Col. Mike "Speedo" Rouse, the 159th Fighter Squadron commander, will be in position three, with Col. Bill Bair, commander of the 125th Fighter Wing's operations group, holding up the rear.

After the pilots land at nearby Homestead Air Reserve Base, a Miami-Dade police helicopter will whisk them back to the stadium, where they'll be introduced to the crowd, Bittner said.

The Super Bowl flyover is a first for the Air National Guard. The wing has done flyovers for other National Football League events, most frequently over Jaguars games near its Jacksonville International Airport base. But Bittner said there's a special panache that comes with flying over the big daddy of football games.

"It's a huge honor," he said, calling it a recognition of the wing's impressive operational readiness posture, and its 24/7 mission of being ready to scramble at a moment's notice to protect U.S. air space.

The flyover is just part of the military support being provided as the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts do battle during Super Bowl XLIV.

The Armed Forces Color Guard from the Military District of Washington will kick off that support, marching onto the field before the game to present the colors, accompanied by two drummers from U.S. Air Force Band.

Meanwhile, as more than 75,000 fans enjoy the sold-out game, military forces will be at work behind the scenes, supporting civil authorities to maintain security in and around the stadium and in the skies overhead.

Fighter jets from Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region will be airborne, working in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FAA and local law enforcement to enforce flight restrictions over Miami during the game, reported the commander, Air Force Maj. Gen. Garry Dean.

Air Force Col. Randy Spears, commander of the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, called the mission an extension of the eagle-eyes his airmen provide every day. "The men and women of this AOC monitor the skies 24/7, 365 for the contiguous United States, and Sunday's special event is another part of our mission set," he said.

In addition, the Florida National Guard's 44th Civil Support Team will be on the ground, poised to support civil authorities, as required. The 40-member team, a mix of soldiers and airmen, is trained respond to any emergency situation, including those dealing with weapons of mass destruction, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, a Florida National Guard public affairs officer.

As in recent years, about 40 wounded Marine Corps warriors will be enjoying the game in person, courtesy of tickets donated by the Cleveland Browns.

Meanwhile, thousands of U.S. servicemembers will be watching, too, either at home or overseas, via Armed Forces Network broadcasts.

Troops Overseas to Get Live Super Bowl Feed

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 5, 2010 - When millions of Americans gather around their TV sets this weekend for Super Bowl XLIV, they'll have lots of company from U.S. forces around the world and at sea, thanks to the American Forces Radio and Television Service.

AFRTS has been delivering the game live for the past 43 years.

The full game, including the pre-game show, will be beamed by satellite to American Forces Network viewers and American Forces Radio listeners in 175 countries and aboard Navy ships at sea, said Larry Sichter, affiliate relations chief for the Defense Media Activity's AFN Broadcast Center in Riverside, Calif.

So as the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts take their positions at Miami's Sun Life Stadium for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff, troops in Germany will be cheering them on 30 minutes after midnight on Feb. 8. In Iraq, it will be 2:30 a.m. Feb. 8; in Afghanistan, an hour and a half later, at 4 a.m., and in Japan and Korea, 8:30 a.m.

AFN will re-air the game twice for those who prefer to wait until local prime time rather than watching the game live, Sichter said.

Regardless of where they're stationed or deployed, everyone who watches the AFN broadcast will see all the Super Bowl festivities -- including Carrie Underwood's rendition of the national anthem, followed by a flyover of four Florida Air National Guard F-15 fighter jets, as well as The Who's halftime performance.

The only thing the overseas viewers won't get will be about 43 minutes of mostly beer, pizza and insurance commercials. That, explained Sichter, is because AFN is not permitted to air them as a condition of getting the programming free of charge. So in their place, military viewers overseas will see a bevy of encouraging "shout-outs" from President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and many of the players themselves, as well as some of AFRTS' newest command information spots.

Obama is taping his Super Bowl message today. Gates, who is traveling in Europe, already has recorded his 60-second video, in which he expresses appreciation for the troops overseas and recognizes the hardship of being away from home, especially during special event like the big game, said Paul Waldrop, chief of the AFRTS radio and TV production office.

In addition, AFRTS taped shout-outs from 22 players -- 11 Saints and 11 Colts, including Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the two quarterbacks – to air throughout the game. All expressed thanks and encouragement to the troops overseas, Waldrop said.

AFRTS also will broadcast promotions for its other programming. It also plans to roll out several new spots on topics on the upgraded AFN decoder box used to unscramble the AFN TV signal for overseas viewers, as well as a new service that will enable troops to ask questions about their benefits, then get the answers aired on TV.

The early morning showings and lack of commercials don't appear to have dampened any enthusiasm about the big game. Signs popping up at the new International Security Assistance Force Joint Command headquarters in Kabul advertise a big Super Bowl party in the command's new morale, welfare and recreation tent. The festivities will kick off at 4 a.m., and will feature prizes, souvenirs and other treats, reported Navy Capt. Jane Campbell, the command's public affairs officer.

To the south, at Kandahar Air Base, the Army Corps of Engineers' Afghan Engineer District South is readying its own tent for what it's billing as a "town hall" during the big game.

Unfettered by the nine-and-a-half-hour time difference from Miami, and with access to computers so they can continue working throughout the game, participants will feast on breakfast foods rather than hot dogs, and they'll imbibe with coffee and orange juice rather than long tall ones, said public affairs officer Pat Ryan. Many of the staffers developed a deep fondness for New Orleans while working there after Hurricane Katrina, she noted, so they're expected to root heavily for the Saints.

Meanwhile, the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Ghazni, in Afghanistan's mountainous eastern Ghazni province, is setting up "something special" for Task Force White Eagle members who want to watch the game despite the "o-dark-thirty" kickoff time, reported Air Force Master Sgt. Sarah R. Webb troops, the provincial reconstruction team public affairs officer.

And at Balad Air Base in Iraq, viewing areas are being set up around every large-size TV around, a defense contractor at the base reported. Although General Order No. 1 – which forbids troops there from drinking alcohol – remains in effect, he said he expects fans to tap into a big supply of nonalcoholic beer and to chow down on other readily available munchies.

Troops overseas have been treated to live Super Bowl broadcasts since the first big game in 1967, initially through short-wave radio broadcasts, Sichter said.

Televised Super Bowl coverage was limited at first to videotape copies of the game distributed after the fact to overseas outlets, unless AFN outlets contracted with commercial networks to get the game live. That all changed in 1982, when AFRTS stood up its satellite network, enabling it to provide live Super Bowl broadcasts to all troops overseas.

Jeff White, the AFN Broadcast Center's executive director, expressed thanks to the National Football League, CBS and Westwood One Radio for granting AFN the rights to broadcast the game again this year.

"We're delighted to be able to deliver the Super Bowl to the AFN audience,' he said. "It tops the list as the world's most popular sporting event and underscores our mission to provide a 'touch of home' to the troops who serve out country overseas."

Study Measures Traumatic Brain Injury

By Christen N. McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 5, 2010 - Scientists at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center and a professor at Columbia University are working on a collaborative study measuring brain damage on traumatic brain injury patients.

"It's a large problem to the Army and the soldiers," Thomas Meitzler, a scientist at the Army center, said during a Feb. 3 interview on the Pentagon Channel podcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

He was also joined by Joy Hirsch, professor at Columbia University and director of the Program for Imaging and Cognitive Sciences.

Soldiers who are exposed to blasts associated with roadside bombs often are not aware of any resulting mild TBI and return to duty without proper medical diagnosis and treatment. The study, a cooperative research and development agreement between TARDEC and the Columbia University Medical School, is helping to determine what areas of the brain are susceptible to damage and measuring how the brain is engaged while performing certain functions.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging, a specialized MRI that captures high-resolution images of the brain and identifies regions engaged during specific mental tasks, allows the researchers to ask patients to do tasks and look at what parts of the brain are working during a specific function.

"Oftentimes in traumatic brain injury, patients have symptoms of injury, but the physical evidence is not obvious," Hirsch said. "When we apply a functional MRI, then we can begin to understand the neurophysiology that underlies the behavioral disabilities."

Participants are asked to do cognitive, language and memory tasks so researchers can understand how the brain works during target acquisition in the field. "We have a battery of tests that are aimed to probe people's ability to control emotions, memories and to solve problems," Hirsch said.

Meitzler added that understanding how the brain works is important in helping to optimize tasks, and doing this provides a window into how the brain works during decision making, identification and search in the field.

The researchers also are proposing that soldiers be scanned before they are deployed and then upon their return to provide a basis for comparison.

"We hope to store that information on a digital dog tag so that [it] is always carried with them and can be referred to at a later time," Meitzler said.

It would be a great baseline of information, Hirsch said, and doing the comparison when soldiers return from deployment also would help to start treatment of brain injuries much earlier and before behavioral signs kick in.

The results of using this imaging will be used to guide and monitor therapy, and prevent compounding injury by multiple blast exposures.

"Functional MRI has become the backbone of neuroscience," Hirsch said. "We can use it for new ways to think about treatments."

The team also is looking into putting sensors inside armored vehicles so that they can record the magnitude and location of roadside-bomb blasts. With information about the size or type of blast the vehicle has experienced, the team can relate that to patients and be more proactive in treatments of future patients who experience similar injuries.

With this information, future vehicles could be developed so that blasts cause fewer injuries, the scientists said.

(Christen N. McCluney works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

Guardsmen Prepare for Second Major East Coast Storm

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 5, 2010 - Schools are closing, weekend activities are being cancelled and the federal government here will shut down four hours early today, but the National Guard is on duty in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia in anticipation of a major winter storm.

About 660 Guardsmen have been activated for a storm that is expected to dump up to 28 inches of snow and bring high winds to the northern and western parts of Virginia and then continue north up the East Coast this weekend.

"This storm will bring severe weather to many parts of Virginia," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "As the storm affects your area, please stay off the roads and contact local authorities if help is needed."

McDonnell declared a state of emergency Feb. 3, and the state's Department of Military Affairs is staging more than 400 personnel from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force at key locations in the commonwealth.

If needed, the DMA will bring an additional 100 personnel on duty when the weather picture and state and local support requirements become clearer, according to a news release from the state.

"We are moving DMA personnel into position in order to be on standby for possible missions to assist state and local emergency response organizations with rescue and transportation operations," said Army Col. Rob McMillin, a Virginia National Guard joint operations officer.

Personnel were expected to be in place yesterday and to be ready for duty this morning, Guard officials reported.

McMillin stressed that the Virginia National Guard receives its missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist state and local emergency response organizations and is not able to respond to direct support requests from the public.

"During the winter storm in December 2009, we received calls directly from citizens, and we are not able to respond to those requests." McMillin said. "We urge people who need assistance to make a request through their local dispatcher or 911 services, and that request will be forwarded to the DMA when appropriate."

McMillin said the initial plan is to place Virginia National Guard personnel with Humvees on duty at locations throughout the commonwealth.

This is the third time since the middle of December the DMA has called up Guardsmen for weather-related duty. The DMA had nearly 250 soldiers, airmen and members on duty throughout southern Virginia on Jan. 29 and 700 on duty after a storm that began Dec. 18.

In Maryland, the National Guard has pre-positioned its forces and equipment to provide support to civil authorities. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to declare a state emergency later today.

"The Maryland National Guard always stands ready to support the governor and the citizens of Maryland," said Army Lt. Col. Charles Kohler, the state public affairs officer. "We provide essential, lifesaving services when local and state response capabilities are overwhelmed, including the capability to provide transportation, shelter, food, water and medical support.

He added that the National Guard has 34 armories across Maryland that also will be used to support this ongoing operation.

In the District of Columbia, Washington Mayor Andrew Fenty declared a snow emergency this morning. The National Guard will provide 12 Humvees and 60 soldiers to help in implementing the district's Snow Emergency Management Plan.

In Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell is prepared to declare a state of emergency, his spokesman said. If needed, the Delaware National Guard will be mobilized.

In South Dakota, 16 Guardsmen are still on duty helping to re-establish road and utility infrastructure and conduct search-and-rescue operations as required by local authorities. The state experienced strong winter storms with high winds, snow, and freezing rain on Jan. 23, and more than 2,000 residents are currently without power throughout the state.

National Guard missions normally performed during snow operations include assisting local law enforcement with transportation and evacuation, distribution of supplies, road clearing and snow removal, search and rescue, security and law enforcement airspace coordination, aircraft support and patient evacuations, airspace coordination, and sheltering assistance.

(Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau. Army Maj. Cotton Puryear of the Virginia National Guard contributed to this report.)

Gates to Ask NATO for More Trainers, Mentors

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 4, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates left the Washington, D.C., Beltway yesterday, putting the politics of war spending behind him, only to land squarely in the middle of the same debate among the NATO partners here. Gates flew overnight to spend today and tomorrow working with U.S. allies to help in prioritizing the organization's spending and at the same time hoping to garner a larger commitment of troops and resources for the war in Afghanistan.

Officials here said NATO is up against a "crunch time," as many European countries face drastic defense cuts due to the global financial crisis. At the same time, the cost of the war in Afghanistan is expanding.

NATO must cut costs to spend money where it is most needed, a senior U.S. defense official said, speaking on background.

"There are lots of things that we spend money on that we shouldn't be spending money on," the official said. In fact, Gates has long questioned some of the organization's spending.

This is Gates' 11th such meeting with the alliance's defense ministers, and "for as long as he's been coming, he has been concerned about NATO's priorities in terms of spending," said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

Morrell said much of NATO's spending is outdated and needs to be readjusted to ensure proper resources go to the wars it is now fighting.

The senior official speaking on background said U.S. officials hope to have an agreement on spending reform in place by the end of this conference. The official declined to say what NATO should spend less on, but did say the alliance needs to invest more in strategic threats, such as a missile defense system, as well as more on resourcing the fight in Afghanistan.

While here, Gates will lobby for more trainers and mentors from NATO partners to bolster the effort in Afghanistan. NATO has committed to send about 9,000 extra troops, but about 4,000 more trainers and mentors are needed, the official said.

Another meeting is planned for the end of this month in which commitments will have to be made. The two-day conference here is the start of the efforts to persuade the partners, many of whom already had planned to reduce the number of their forces in Afghanistan, to deliver more troops, the official said.

"In the end," the official explained, "this all about providing the capacity to build the Afghan forces so that we can transition responsibility over to the Afghans and we can reduce our own investment in terms of troops, ... both the United States and our allies."

This year is critical to building that capacity, the official said. Providing more troops now means requiring fewer in the years to come, he added, noting that the drawdown is slated to begin in some form starting in the summer of 2011.

"Everyone wants to see troop numbers going down," the official said. "Everyone understands that the only way we're going to have our troop [numbers] go down is for Afghan capability to go up."

For the most part, NATO officials have embraced the proposed withdrawal start date set in place by President Barrack Obama. It has given the allies and Afghanistan's leaders a clear mark on the calendar to work toward, and the proposed date gives NATO partners an incentive to deliver on troop commitments, the official said.

"I think they have been more willing to cough up security forces, because they now see a strategy that makes sense," the official said. "It is not an open-ended commitment. It is a commitment to improve the situation on the ground, to allow the Afghans to take over responsibility, to invest heavily now so they can do less down the road.

"I call 2010 the year of maximum effort," said U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder. "It is a year we are going to do everything we can, so down the road we have to do less. ... The key here is the more we can accomplish in 2010, the more we can transition in 2011 and beyond, the more we can draw down."

Morrell said Gates' message tomorrow to NATO defense leaders will be that now is the time to commit.

"He will implore them to act as quickly as they can to get their forces into the fight, because time is of the essence," Morrell said.

As an incentive to provide troops for training and mentoring, Gates is expected to promise more help for the NATO partners in combating deadly improvised explosive devices. The U.S. military has grown its capacity to counter the IED threat during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has a wealth of knowledge and specialty equipment to offer up, the official speaking on background noted.

This planned commitment to provide resources and equipment to NATO partners also has helped to bolster other countries' plans to provide more troops, the official added.

Though the United States does not want to compromise any of its classified information, Morrell said, Gates wants to "lean forward and push the system to share whatever we can."

"I think he is very cognizant and very sensitive to the fact that our troops are not the only ones being targeted by this dramatic increase in IED attacks," Morrell said. "And he has made it clear ... that we need to be doing all we can possibly do to share our expertise ... with our friends and allies who have boots on the ground in Afghanistan."

Airmen Support Operation Deep Freeze

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aries D. Early
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 4, 2010 - More than halfway through the 2009-2010 winter season, U.S. servicemembers have made many major contributions in support of the National Scientific Foundation's efforts in Antarctica. The members support Operation Deep Freeze, a 13th Air Force-led joint task force responsible for the coordination of strategic airlift, field support airlift, emergency response and aeromedical evacuation.

The task force also is tasked with sealift duties, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling and other transportation related requirements conducted in Antarctica. All of this is done in what is considered by many to be one of the most difficult peacetime duty assignments, mainly because of the harsh environment. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and most inhospitable continent on the globe.

"[We're] participating in a major change in airfield operations at McMurdo Station," said Air Force Col. Paul Sheppard, Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica deputy commander.

In previous years, LC-130 Hercules operations were located at an airfield known as Williams Field Skiway and C-17 Globemaster III operations were at Pegasus Field runway from Dec. 1 until the season's end. This year, all operations were consolidated at Pegasus Field.

"A new skiway was build at Pegasus for the LC-130 fleet and the consolidation of aircraft has been a success," the colonel said. "Since acquiring the mission in 1998, we have never lost any of our military members or aircraft. This is a very dangerous environment. We know that, and we act accordingly."

So far, 53 C-17 missions have been flown between Christchurch, New Zealand, and McMurdo Station, Antarctica, transporting 2,700 passengers and more than 3.5 million pounds of cargo. Ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft have flown 292 missions, ferrying nearly 2,000 passengers and more than 8.1 million total cargo pounds from McMurdo Station to the South Pole and other research posts throughout Antarctica.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aries D. Early serves in the 13th Air Force public affairs office.)