Sunday, August 29, 2010

Amnesty International Criticizes Kenya for Refusing to Arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir at Constitution Celebratio

Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150,

London : Amnesty International is criticizing the Kenyan government for its failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during celebrations ushering in Kenya’s new constitution today. The human rights organization says the refusal to arrest President al-Bashir is an obstruction of justice for victims in Darfur.

“Kenya has regrettably followed the example of Chad, which violated its obligations under international law by providing safe haven to President Bashir during his visit to the country last month,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty International's Africa program. 

Kagari said: “It is disturbing that the Kenyan government is celebrating a new constitution – the national center-piece of the rule of law – while obstructing justice for victims of such serious human rights violations in a neighboring country.” 

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Kenya has ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which obligates countries to cooperate with the court, including arresting persons it has charged.

Amnesty International regrets that African states – which led efforts to create the court – last month undermined their commitment to international justice by renewing an African Union decision not to arrest President al-Bashir.

Kagari said: “We are calling on those 31 African states that have ratified the Rome Statute to support international justice and uphold efforts to deliver justice, in particular in countries like Sudan where victims have no prospect of justice before national courts.”

Amnesty International is calling on all members of the international community to ensure full accountability for international crimes committed in Sudan. 

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. (Issued on:Friday, August 27, 2010)

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Mike Mullen addresses at Wayne State University in Detroit

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses audience members at Wayne State University in Detroit, Aug. 26, 2010. Mullen is on three-day Conversation with the Country tour to the midwest discussing needs of returning troops, their families, and how community leaders can support them. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley.

 Also Read

Barbara Starr interviews U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen

CNN correspondent Barbara Starr interviews U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Detroit, Aug. 26, 2010. Mullen is on three-day Conversation with the Country tour to the Midwest discussing how community leaders can support the needs of returning troops and their families. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley 

Also Read

Monday, August 23, 2010

A combat videographer

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Marcis Pereda, a combat videographer assigned to Regional Command Southwest, videotapes as British Royal Air Force military policemen conduct a security patrol and interact with locals near Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2010. The policemen conduct daily patrols to protect Afghan citizens as part of their support of the International Security Assistance Force. 

DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Marionne T. Mangrum, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

A visit by members of the Pakistani media

William J. Martin, center, consul general, U.S. Consulate Karachi, Pakistan, addresses U.S. Sailors and Marines during a visit by members of the Pakistani media to USS Peleliu (LHA 5) Aug. 12, 2010, off the coast of Pakistan. Martin met with Sailors and Marines who will be delivering relief supplies to flood-stricken areas of Pakistan. Peleliu sent its first wave of supplies ashore to establish a support element and communications hub for Navy and Marine Corps heavy lift aircraft. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Omar A. Dominquez, U.S. Navy/Released)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Combat Camera Group

 U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James E. Foehl, assigned to Fleet Combat Camera Group Pacific, throws a flashbang grenade into a shoot-house in Azusa, Calif., Aug. 17, 2010, during Quick Shot 2010. Quick Shot is the unit’s semiannual field exercise designed to train combat camera personnel to operate in a combat environment. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Martin Carey, U.S. Navy/Released)

Searching a vehicle

U.S. Navy Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Charles Mobley, right, observes as members of the Barbados Defense Force search a vehicle in Bridgetown, Barbados, Aug. 19, 2010, during a Naval Criminal Investigative Service subject matter expert exchange in support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010. SPS is designed to promote information-sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim Williams, U.S. Navy/Released)

clearing operations in Zadran, Afghanistan

A U.S. Soldier from an Afghan-international security force provides security during clearing operations in Zadran, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2010. The security force set up a cordon and cleared multiple targets in Suri Kheyl. (DoD photo by Spc. Enoch Fleites, U.S. Army/Released)

Sea Knight helicopter

U.S. Marines load supplies onto a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) in the Arabian Sea Aug. 18, 2010. The helicopter and embarked Marines will be joining 11 other helicopters from the ship that are on station in northern Pakistan assisting with humanitarian relief efforts following heavy flooding in the region. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Dunlap, U.S. Navy/Released)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

During a shura in Deh Rawud, Afghanistan

U.S. Soldiers from the Deh Rawud Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) secure a perimeter during a shura in Deh Rawud, Afghanistan, Aug. 5, 2010. Security for the shura was provided by a joint force of Afghan National Police and PRT Soldiers. (DoD photo by Sgt. J.C. McKenzie, U.S. Army/Released)

A break during a dismounted patrol

U.S. Soldiers assigned to 3rd Platoon, Foxtrot Company, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment take a break during a dismounted patrol near Combat Outpost Mizan in the Zabul province of Afghanistan Aug. 16, 2010. The patrol focused on speaking with the local population to assess their needs and surveying the security of the area. (DoD photo by Senior Airman Nathanael Callon, U.S. Air Force/Released)

Pentagon Releases Final Fort Hood Shooting Review

Sat, Aug 21, 2010 at 1:44 AM

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON : Pentagon officials today released the Defense Department’s final review of recommendations issued by an independent panel in the wake of the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting spree on Fort Hood, Texas.
Among the department’s top priorities, as outlined in the review, are boosting on-base emergency response capabilities, improving law enforcement and force protection information sharing with partner agencies, and integrating force protection policy, a Defense Department news release said.
In a memorandum signed Aug. 18, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he carefully considered the panel’s recommendations -- detailed in the report titled, “Protecting the Force: Lessons Learned from Fort Hood” -- and is directing the department to take “appropriate action” to address the initiatives detailed in the follow-on review.
“I expect department leaders to place great priority on implementing these recommendations,” Gates said. All actions are aimed at contributing to the safety and health of military forces, the release said.
Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, allegedly opened fire at a Fort Hood facility where soldiers were processing for overseas deployments. He has been charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.
“The tragic shooting of U.S. military personnel at Fort Hood … underscored the need for the [Defense Department] to thoroughly review its approach to force protection and to broaden its force protection policies, programs and procedures to go beyond their traditional focus on hostile external threats,” Gates said.
Earlier this year, an investigative panel detailed 79 recommendations in its report centered on improving force protection and tightening gaps in personnel policies, emergency response mass casualty preparedness and support to Defense Department health care providers. In April, Gates directed the Defense Department to immediately implement 26 of the 79 recommendations while a review of the remaining 53 recommendations continued.
The final review’s initiatives “will significantly improve the department’s ability to mitigate internal threats, ensure force protection, enable emergency response and provide care for victims and families,” Gates said.
The review puts forth “concrete actions” for the majority of the recommendations, Gates said. In some cases, however, further study will be required before the department can take additional steps.
In particular, he said, the department will strengthen its policies, programs and procedures in the following areas:
-- Educating commanders about the symptoms of potential workplace violence and the tools available to them to address it;
-- Ensuring commanders and supervisors have access to appropriate information in personnel records throughout a servicemember’s career;
-- Improving law enforcement and force protection information sharing with partner agencies and among installations to ensure all relevant personnel are aware of and able to analyze and respond to potential threats;
-- Expanding installations’ emergency response capabilities, including enabling enhanced 911 to notify dispatchers of a caller’s location, mass notification and warning systems to guide installation personnel and emergency responders to an emergency, and a common operating picture to ensure emergency responders have access to real-time information in a crisis;
-- Integrating force protection policy through the creation of a consultative and policy-making body that will bring together the various entities across the department with force protection responsibilities; and
-- Ensuring the department provides top-quality health care to servicemembers and health care providers by hiring additional health care providers, particularly in the mental health field, and ensuring health care providers receive appropriate post-deployment respite and time at home between deployments.
Gates also has directed the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and America’s security affairs to continue to lead the follow-on review and to provide regular progress reports to him.
The secretary also emphasized the importance of leadership and the need for intervention when necessary to ensure good order and discipline.
“Force protection, although critical, is not a substitute for leadership,” he said. “Leaders at every level in our military play a critical role.”
Gates pledged to provide leaders with the necessary tools to deal with potential issues among their ranks.
“As the department takes steps to strengthen its approach to force protection,” he said, “I ask leaders and commanders across the force to remain mindful of the unique requirements of the profession of arms –- that military service is grounded in an oath to support and defend our Constitution, but also may necessitate the sacrifice of some of the very rights we defend.” 

(Issued on: Aug. 20, 2010)
Robert M. Gates

Face of Defense: Airman’s Donation Saves Life

By Joe N. Wiggins
American Forces Press Service
BROOKS CITY-BASE, Texas : When most airmen come into the Air Force, they know their service could include being called upon to do something that could save a life. However, one airman answered the call in a way very few could.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Only a few hours after donating bone marrow to a critical patient, Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles F. Newberry recovers Aug. 11, 2010, in his Washington, D.C., hospital room. Newberry said his recovery was fast, and he was walking around the day after his surgery. U.S. Air Force photo  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Newberry, a personnel specialist assigned to the 311th Air Base Group's military personnel flight here, volunteered in 2007 to register as a bone marrow donor. His decision recently saved the life of a servicemember's 2-year-old child.
"While I don't know his name, as soon as I heard who it was, and that he has a rare condition called aplastic anemia, I thought, 'Yeah, I'll gladly do what I can to help out the little guy,'" Newberry said.
Aplastic anemia causes bone marrow to produce an insufficient amount of red and white blood cells or blood platelets. A bone marrow transplant can be the only effective treatment in severe cases.
When he became aware of what his donation could mean, Newberry said, he was eager to volunteer.
"I was surprised when I found out I was a match, but helping someone else's child was clearly something I wanted to do," he said. "My wife and mom were a little skeptical about the operation, but I think my enthusiasm won them over, and they were both supportive of me being a donor."
Newberry's organization and supervisor also were behind his decision.
"I thought his volunteering was very admirable, and a great thing to be willing to do," said Air Force Capt. Troy Lane, commander of the personnel flight. "I was impressed with his excitement to do it."
Newberry said the procedure wasn't very painful or lengthy.
"The surgeons removed the marrow from my lower back after the first day of tests and screening at the hospital," he said. "I was up and walking around the next day and only had to wear some small bandages for about a week."
In addition to his family, Newberry said, the military community also was supportive. "In addition to being given time off from my duty location, [Defense Department officials] sponsored my flight and expenses," he said. "I went through a process of questions and phone interviews before leaving for the trip, but once everything was approved there was no cost involved for me or my family."
Newberry is one of about 500 servicemembers who are matched to a patient and donate bone marrow each year. About 600,000 servicemembers have registered as marrow donors as part of the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program.
Volunteers like Newberry are critical for many patients awaiting a match. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, about 70 percent of those needing a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. Usually used to fight leukemia and lymphoma, a bone marrow donation often is a victim's last chance at beating a potentially fatal disease.
More than 10,000 patients each year are diagnosed with these life-threatening diseases. A patient's doctor can contact the program's database of 8 million potential donors in the United States and another 5 million potential donors in international registries.
The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Center is located in Rockville, Md., and is charged with supporting Defense Department bone marrow volunteers. It is one of 79 donor centers that work with the National Marrow Donor Program.
Established by Congress in 1990, the Defense Department program is open to any military member or civilian and their family members, including Coast Guard and reserve-component members, in good health between the ages of 18 and 60. (Issued on:Aug. 20, 2010)
Related Sites:
C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program

Friday, August 20, 2010

9/11 Terrorist Tapes Found Under CIA Desk

CIA Found Video of 9/11 Plotter Ramzi Binalshibh Being Interrogated 
in Secret Prison
New images of accused 9/11 architect Ramzi Binalshibh
have been obtained by Flashpoint Global..
The CIA has tapes of 9/11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh being interrogated in a secret overseas prison. Discovered under a desk, the recordings could provide an unparalleled look at how foreign governments aided the U.S. in holding and questioning suspected terrorists.
The two videotapes and one audiotape are believed to be the only remaining recordings made within the clandestine prison system.
The tapes depict Binalshibh’s interrogation sessions at a Moroccan-run facility the CIA used near Rabat in 2002........

          Read full story 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Warfighting Exercise Focuses on South Korean Defense

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Dave, pointing, of the Nebraska National Guard's 1704th Transportation Company directs soldiers as they carry a patient to the landing zone established for a Medevac mission at Fort McCoy, Wis., during the Patriot exercise, July 15, 2005. Patriot, the largest annual exercise held across the United States, increases the warfighting capabilities of the National Guard, reserve, and active components of the Air Force and Army. Additionally, the participation of Canadian, United Kingdom, and Dutch forces increases combined effectiveness. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd A. Pendleton

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2010A 10-day warfighting exercise kicked off today to improve allied capabilities to deter and, if necessary, counter aggression against South Korea.
About 27,000 U.S. forces in South Korea, as well as about 3,000 U.S. servicemembers from the United States and its bases in the Pacific region, are participating in this year’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command officials reported.
They join more than 500,000 South Korean military and government participants, as well as multinational representatives in the CFC-led exercise to test their readiness to defend South Korea and promote stability across northwest Asia.
The exercise will “ensure that our alliance is prepared to respond to threats across the spectrum of conflicts, to include North Korean provocations,” officials said.
This year’s exercise is taking place amid heightened tensions since North Korea sunk the South Korean navy frigate Cheonan in March. It also occurs during commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the North Korean attack that launched the Korean War.
The South Korean-U.S. alliance has successfully deterred aggression on the Korean peninsula for 57 years, Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, who commands U.S. and United Nations forces in Korea, said in a message to his command before the exercise kicked off. He called Ulchi Freedom Guardian 10 “another opportunity for us to work together and demonstrate our resolve to ensuring regional stability.
The exercise is the first since President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced the decision to delay the transition of wartime operational control of allied forces on the Korean peninsula to the South Korean military, Sharp noted. That transfer, originally scheduled for April 2012, has been moved to late 2015.
In the lead-up to that transition, Sharp called the exercise an opportunity to continue improving combat readiness and joint and combined interoperability between South Korean and U.S. forces.
“Like our combined exercises in the past, Ulchi Freedom Guardian affords the combined team an opportunity to continue to develop organizational structures and collaborate on command and control relationships between our militaries and our governments,” he said.
The scope of the exercise extends beyond the Korean peninsula, with many of the participants connected from outside Korea by communications and computer simulation networks.
“With units participating in Korea, throughout [U.S.] Pacific Command and at multiple locations across the United States, UFG 10 is one of the largest Joint Staff-directed exercises in the world,” Sharp said. “Like our combined exercises in the past, Ulchi Freedom Guardian affords the combined team an opportunity to develop organizational structures and collaborate on command and control relationships between our militaries and our governments.”
Although focusing on deterring aggression, the participants also are fine-tuning their coordinated warfighting capabilities, recognizing, officials said, that if deterrence fails, they must be ready to “fight tonight and prevail.”
Sharp called on his command to demonstrate discipline, dedication and teamwork during the exercise, which continues through Aug. 26.
“As we demonstrate our ability to successfully defend the Republic of Korea,” he said, “we ensure regional ability across northwest Asia and show the world that we remain an agile, adaptive force capable of taking on any challenge.”
Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Families Take Center Stage at Guard Workshop

Sheila Casey and her husband, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. talk with attendees at the 2010 National Guard Family Program Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans, Aug. 3, 2010. Mrs. Casey emphasized military spouses taking care of themselves as well as their loved ones. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
by Elaine Wilson,
Families have been the focus this week at the 2010 National Guard Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was at the workshop Monday, and spoke about the challenges facing military families. I highlighted the thoughts he shared on those issues in my blog, “Mullen Addresses Military Family Challenges.”
I wanted to share what other leaders had to say at the workshop as well.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. “Bud” Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, said the Guard’s family readiness groups need to receive the same support as National Guard members deploying overseas.
“If we allow these rotations and what we do to become common, accepted and routine, then we need to give the families the focus that we should and that they deserve,” Wyatt said in an interview with Army Sgt. Darron Salzer that was published in the article, “Guard Leaders Urge Family Readiness Support.” 

Wyatt also commented on the economy’s impact on family programs.
“Your immediate response is [to ask] why anyone would cut back on the most important part of combat readiness, but it’s not easy,” he said, adding that the services also are cutting back on equipment.
Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, said the Army is looking at the programs available to the families of unmarried soldiers. “And I am confident that at the end of the process, the right support will go to the right people. “For us here in the Army National Guard,” he continued, “people are our No. 1 priority, and taking care of people is absolutely part of that process.”
At a separate event, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and his wife, Sheila Casey, spent about two hours talking with volunteers who support National Guard families.
“It’s not just the Guard families, it’s the entire volunteer force,” Casey said in an interview with Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill for the article, “Casey Shares Vision of National Guard’s Future.”
“We realized back in 2007 that we had to significantly increase what we were doing for all Army families because of what we were asking of them. We were asking of them far more than what our programs were delivering,” Gen. Casey said.
As a result, spending on family programs doubled, and an Army covenant recommitted leadership to supporting active, Guard and Reserve families, Greenhill wrote.
The general’s wife, Sheila Casey, focused on the importance of caring for caregivers.
“Part of the problem that caregivers have is that they don’t take care of themselves,” Mrs. Casey said. “Everybody else comes first. What I end up seeing is people who after extended deployments … are burnt out and they’re tired.
“What I ask them to do is to change that and to start putting themselves first, on top of the pile,” she added. “If they do that, then they will have the strength and the wherewithal to take care of their families.”  (Issued on: Aug. 4, 2010)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Face of Defense: Recruit Joins Marines to Return Favor

By Marine Corps Pfc. Emily Cone
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 9, 2010 - People have many reasons for joining the Marine Corps. These reasons can include family tradition or a strong desire to serve, but one recruit here joined the Corps because a group of Marines saved his father's life.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Pfc. Wendu Gebremichael, foreground, listens to directions before providing part of a perimeter around an obstacle on the confidence course at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot San Diego, Calif., July 27, 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Emily Cone
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Pfc. Weldu Aregawi Gebrimichael said he was inspired to join after hearing how a Marine sniper team saved his father's life.
His father, Weldu Aregawi Gebrimichael, was an activist against the communist government in Ethiopia, and was known to have valuable information that could be used to fight them, Gebrimichael said. The communist government had gained a foothold in Ethiopia in the early 1980s after a series of droughts and famines that affected 8 million people and left 1 million dead.
His father fled to Sudan with other activists, but was captured by the Ethiopian government. Later, he was rescued by Marines who were conducting operations in Sudan at the time, said Gebrimichael.
He said his father returned to Ethiopia in 1988, and shortly afterward Gebrimichael was born and given his father's full name, which is an Ethiopian custom.
A short while later, his father moved to the United States for his safety. Gebrimichael grew up in Ethiopia with his mother, never having known his father or hearing the story of the Marines who had save his father's life.
It wasn't until five years ago, at the age of 17, that Gebrimichael was able to come to the United States, sent for by the father he had never met. It was then he learned that his father's life was saved by Marines.
"I knew I wanted to join the Marine Corps as soon as I heard the story about Marines saving my father's life," Gebrimichael said. But first, he chose to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to learn English.
"I will finish college while I am in the Marine Corps, but I stopped for now so I could enlist," he said.
"He shone among his pears because he had a better attitude and was very enthusiastic and motivated," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Zachary Taylor, Gebrimichael's drill instructor. "He refused to quit, even when it got hard on him. He did more than exceptionally well on the tests."
Gebrimichael has earned a sharpshooter badge on the rifle range and excelled in his physical fitness test. He finished the 54-hour Crucible, the final task to complete before earning the title of Marine, with his fellow recruits, culminating in a nine-mile hike called the Reaper, on July 29, and then received his eagle, globe and anchor emblem, the symbol of the Marine Corps.
"On the Crucible, he worked hard," Taylor said. "I think he put out max effort. It was exhausting, and he never lagged behind. At the emblem ceremony, he really had earned it."  

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Senate Confirms Mattis for Top Centcom Post

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON : The Senate unanimously confirmed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as commander of U.S. Central Command.

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The Senate confirmed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command. DoD photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Mattis, who previously served as NATO supreme allied commander for transformation and commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., received the Senate nod late yesterday.
Before adjourning for a five-week recess, the Senate also confirmed retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper as director of national intelligence.
In his new post, Mattis will oversee all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including the war in Afghanistan and the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq. Mattis will replace Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who left Centcom to replace Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Senate confirmed Petraeus to that position June 30.
Mattis emphasized during his July 27 Senate confirmation hearing the need for continued military, civilian and regional cooperation to successfully drive out extremism.
"The wars we are fighting require highly integrated military efforts from the highest to the lowest levels," he said. "If confirmed, I will make every effort to work closely with civilian and military leaders charged with leading our operations, and to ensure they are fully resourced in a coherent and comprehensive manner."
Combating the threat requires sustained pressure from coalition partners, he told the committee, promising to work to galvanize international support.
Acknowledging that "the stakes are high," Mattis said he believes the military component of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is sound.
"I believe that by steadfastly executing our strategy, we will win in Afghanistan," he said. "Nothing about the mission will be easy. We recognize that achieving our goals in Afghanistan requires also the enduring commitment of the international community."
During an early July news conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed great confidence in Mattis' capabilities for the top Centcom post.
"General Mattis has proven to be one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers," he said. "His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century have influenced my own views about how the armed forces must be shaped and postured for the future."
Mattis served as the commander of the first Marine forces in Afghanistan in 2001. He also commanded the 1st Marine Division during the initial push into Iraq in 2003, then served as commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Issued on:Aug. 6, 2010)
Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis 
Related Sites: 
U.S. Central Command 
Related Articles: 
Gates Recommends Mattis for Central Command Job

Friday, August 06, 2010

In the Bala Murghad Valley

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, meets with members of the Afghan National Army in the Bala Murghad Valley of Afghanistan Aug. 2, 2010. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Bradley Lail, U.S. Air Force/Released)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Face of Defense: Family Ties Help Wounded Marine

By Army Staff Sgt. Donald Reeves 

Combined Joint Task Force 101
POL–E-CHARKI, Afghanistan : When Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Gerardo "Josh" DeAvila was wounded in Marja, Afghanistan, July 10, he was half a world away from home. But he quickly was surrounded by family and friends, due to a strong military family and community.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Gerardo "Josh" DeAvila, left, poses with, left to right, his cousin, Army Staff Sgt. David DeAvila; his father, Army Sgt. Jerry DeAvila of the Georgia National Guard; his brother-in-law, Army Spc. Josh Head; and his uncle, Army Maj. David DeAvila. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
DeAvila, assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion of the 6th Regiment, heard shots fired and then felt what he described as "a baseball bat" hitting him. Shortly after a medic came around, DeAvila saw the blood and realized he had been hit.
He was evacuated to Camp Dwyers and then Bagram Airfield for surgery. Doctors discovered he had been shot twice; one bullet missed major arteries in his arm, and the other barely missed his spinal cord and lodged in his pelvis.
Meanwhile, Army Maj. David DeAvila of Holland, Mich., serving in northeastern Afghanistan, received word from home that his nephew had been hurt.
"I myself am on orders with the 82nd Airborne attached to the 101st at Camp Blackhorse as the day shift chief of operations," the major said. "I received text messages from the States that Josh had been hurt and would be headed to Germany."
Major DeAvila cleared it through his chain of command to arrange transport to Bagram to be with his nephew.
"I was able to spend 12 hours with him, feeding him water and juice through a straw and helping to keep him comfortable," he said. "I sat by his bed the entire night."
The DeAvilas are a close-knit, very pro-military family, the major said. "It was a bit difficult for me to see him in that condition. ... I held Josh the same day he was born," he recalled. "In fact, my son David, a staff sergeant in the Army, and Josh are more like brothers than cousins. Josh's father recently joined the National Guard after being out of the military for 20 years.
Major DeAvila said Josh kept waking up, asking if his uncle was comfortable. He said he told his nephew, "I have been in the Army longer than you have been alive. Don't worry about me."
Major DeAvila helped to transport his nephew to the bus that would take him to the flightline. There, a plane awaited that would carry him to Germany for more surgery.
Once in Germany, the lance corporal got another surprise. The chaplain who came to visit him was Chaplain (Col.) Douglas Kinder. Kinder had married his parents as a civilian pastor in Roswell, Ga.
The young Marine now is recovering at home in Braselton, Ga.
"Everyone I tell this story to is amazed at the coincidences," Major DeAvila said. "It is amazing how God orchestrated the little pieces." (Issued on:Aug. 4, 2010)