Monday, January 31, 2011

Surgeon Tops Personal Best in Marathon

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Paula Taylor of Task Force Bastogne
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2011 - After tossing and turning for most of the night, Army Maj. (Dr.) Patrick Smock finally rolled out of bed at 3:30 a.m. yesterday. He'd trained hard for four months, and the day finally had arrived for the 745th Forward Surgical Team orthopedic surgeon to run the 26.2-mile Miami Marathon -- thousands of miles from Florida amid the concrete barriers and concertina wire that line the perimeter of Forward Operating Base Fenty in eastern Afghanistan.

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Army Maj. (Dr.) Patrick Smock of Liberty Hill, Texas, runs the Miami Marathon satellite race at Forward Operating Base Fenty in eastern Afghanistan, Jan. 30, 2011. His brothers, also doctors, ran the Miami Marathon in Florida later that day. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Daniels Jr. 
As he arrived at the start line, a few stars still shone through the clouds and dotted the sky. Soon, the sun would begin to crest over the snow-capped mountains.
As Smock and the other marathoners took off down the dusty hardtop road, they soon came across a group of up-armored trucks getting ready to roll out on a convoy.
"That really puts things in perspective," Smock said later. "You see that and you think, 'This [race] is just for fun.' By the second lap, those guys were already gone, doing their job."
At the halfway mark, Smock said, he was doing well, but the going got tougher with about five miles to go. "I hit my wall about 21, 22 miles," he said, "and started to need to take a break -- walk it out and make sure I keep fueling myself up. I used that finish line as my motivation."
Smock, who lives in Liberty Hill, Texas, said he and his brothers, Michael and David, had planned to run the Miami Marathon together for almost a year
"We are all doctors, all went to the same school, and are all very active, but have never run a marathon together," he said. "When I found out that I would be deployed and unable to run with them in Miami, it was disappointing, but I decided that it would not stop me from running 'with' them, even if it was from halfway around the world."
Shortly after arriving at Fenty, Smock said, he contacted the Miami Marathon race directors and inquired about a satellite run. They were receptive and were happy to sponsor the run. "They also sent T-shirts, medals and several other goodies to pass out to all the participants," he added.
Smock said he wore out three pairs of track shoes running laps around the airstrip to train for the event. The soles on the pair he wore for yesterday's race, in fact, were starting to separate.
Though Smock missed an opportunity to be with his brothers when they ran the marathon in Miami just 10 hours after he finished his, he said he plans on running in future events together with them, barring another deployment.
"I don't know if we will run Miami together in the future -- that will most likely depend on how our schedules work out -- but we are already tentatively planning to sign up this summer for the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid [New York] in 2012," Smock said. "Hopefully, no deployments interfere with those plans. I don't think I could find a place to swim in Iraq or Afghanistan."
The 26.2 miles of the satellite course at Fenty comprised eight laps around the airstrip. Smock finished the race in 3 hours, 27 minutes.
"I crushed my goal," he said. "I had run two marathons before, and I did each of those in just under four hours. I wanted to run 3:30 today. I think my official clock time was 3:27 and some change. I'm so excited right now!"
Related Sites: 
NATO International Security Assistance Force 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Operation Walk 2011' inaugurated at DMCH

Ludhiana : A mega charity event `Operation Walk 2011' was inaugurated at DMCH on Saturday.Padam Brij Mohan Lal Munjal, chairman Emeritus, DMCH managing society, inaugurated the event.Under this project, hip and knee replacements of more than 50 poor needy patients would be done for free. 
The patients have been selected from all over Punjab after extensive recruitment camps. This would be carried out in association with a team from the USA led by Dr Paul Khanuja, Director, Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopaedics, USAOperation Walk Maryland is a non-profit, volunteer medical service organisation providing free surgical treatment to patients in developing countries.DMCH managing society secretary Prem Kumar Gupta said patients would get all the services, latest imported implants and medicines totally free of cost under this project. He said: “A team consisting of about 45 people, including surgeons, anaesthesiologists, nursing staff, surgical technologists, physiotherapists and other supporting staff has reached DMCH and has brought with them equipments, implants and consumables to be used during this project.“ Dr Mohd Yamin, professor and head of orthopaedics said the patients would be operated with state of the art technology and equipments from the USA. He said the patients would also be given free walkers and post-operative information booklets. Dr Deepak Jain, assistant professor of orthopaedics, who is coordinating the project, said preparations for this project have been going on for more than a year to make it a success.He said many young patients, who have lost their work due to disabling arthritis and are now dependent on their families, have been included in the project. This project would be carried out in newly renovated operation theaters and wards, which have been specially constructed with inputs from experts at USA. These operation theaters and wards have been equipped with the latest facilities and gadgets to make them at par with the international standards. Faculty from orthopedics department Dr Rajnish GargDr Harpal S SelhiDr Sanjeev MahajanDr Pankaj Mahindra and Dr SK Kohli made significant contributions to the project. During his visit to the hospital, Munjal also inaugurated newly renovated Neuro Ortho OT complex, Orthopedics ward, Pediatrics ward, Radio diagnosis block and emergency area, appreciating progress of the hospital.:-Rector Kathuria (Photo:Sukhjit Alkra)

Afghan women discussed many topics

Afghan women attend a shura, or meeting, hosted by U.S. Marine Corps female engagement team members assigned 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 2 at Forward Operating Base Jackson in Sangin district, Afghanistan, Jan. 18, 2011. The topics discussed were personal hygiene and health, occupations, and what tribes and villages the women come from. RCT-2’s mission was to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the International Security Assistance Force. (DoD photo by Sgt. Artur ShvartsbergU.S. Marine Corps/Released)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sailor Serves With Marine Husband

By Marine Corps Cpl. Shannon McMillan 
1st Marine Logistics Group
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2011 - Most spouses of active duty military members have to endure the hardship of separation while their loved one is deployed, but one couple here serves together in the same unit.
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Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chat Rice re-enlists for six more years in the Navy at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Jan. 21, 2011. Rice is deployed in the same unit as her husband of nearly eight years, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jeff Rice. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shannon McMillan
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chat Rice and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jeff Rice, both San Diego natives, are deployed together with 1st Marine Logistics Group.
Multiple deployments have separated the sailor and Marine for much of their seven-year marriage, and this is the first time the couple has deployed together.
"Having him here is very good for me," said Chat, 29, of her husband. "I can always go to him if I need someone to talk to, or just hang out and talk about our families and our son."
The couple met in August 2001 while stationed together in Okinawa, Japan. Then in 2002, Chat received orders to Camp Pendleton, Calif., so they maintained a long-distance relationship, she said. While they were still dating, Jeff deployed twice with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. They were married Feb. 8, 2003.
Since they've been married, Jeff has deployed five times –- this is his eighth deployment overall -– and this is Chat's second deployment. In 2008, the only year Jeff wasn't deployed during their marriage, the couple's son, Seth, was born.
"As you can see, it took us a while to have a child, because he's always deployed," Chat said of Jeff's multiple deployments.
During their current deployment, Jeff and Chat work in the same compound, but have very different jobs. Chat works as a patient tracker for the Health Services Support Element. Her responsibilities include globally tracking all 1st Marine Logistics Group patients from their point of injury to their final destination and providing their status to command leaders.
Jeff serves as the logistics group's radio chief and spectrum manager. He plans and supervises the installation, operation and maintenance of all single-channel radios as the radio chief, and as the spectrum manager, he answers frequency requests and provides call signs to all group units.
Although they work long hours, the couple tries to spend as much time together as they can while deployed.
"We try to eat chow together as much as possible," said Jeff, 29, originally from Warsaw, Ohio. "So I would say we get to hang out a lot due to the fact that not too many people get to deploy with their spouse."
They also turn in their laundry together, Chat added. "I know it's kind of funny," she said, "but that's another way to spend time with him."
The military lifestyle can be difficult for any marriage, especially when both are on active duty, but Jeff said he is thankful to have his wife around for moral support, especially since they are both separated from their young son.
"It is a blessing being deployed together, but also very hard, because our son is back home with his grandparents," he said.
Although the parents are thousands of miles away from their son, they try to video chat with Seth as often as they can.
"Once a week, we Skype with our son," Chat said. "That's our way of having quality time with the family."
Along with supporting each other during challenging moments of the deployment, the Rices support each other's accomplishments, the most recent being Chat's Jan. 21 re-enlistment ceremony, in which she signed on for another six years in the Navy.
"It was nice to witness the ceremony and be a part of it," Jeff said. "I haven't had a chance to be at a lot of her ceremonies, since we have jobs and commitments. I was proud of her, because she loves the Navy. She really tries to strive to be the best sailor."
Jeff said he also is proud of his wife for being named the Regional Command Southwest sailor of the quarter this month.
"She goes above and beyond what is expected of her," Jeff said. She sets the bar high."
As their eighth wedding anniversary approaches, the Rices look forward to celebrating the occasion together, albeit a bit differently from previous years.
"Oh, it will definitely be different than spending it back home," Chat said. "We usually like to have a fancy dinner somewhere in Coronado or La Jolla, but here, we'll be enjoying some good chow hall meal. But seriously, we are both happy to spend our special day together."  ---000--- 

Chaplain Shines as Beacon of Faith

By Army Sgt. Luther L. Boothe Jr. of Task Force Currahee
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Jan. 28, 2011 - His daily ritual consists of stopping by and checking in. "Hello, how is everybody?" "Hope all is well!" "God bless you," he says, his words reflecting kindness, appreciation and his southern accent.

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Army Chaplain (Maj.) Randal H. Robison lights the Advent candles during a Catholic Mass at the Frontline Chapel at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luther L. Boothe Jr. 

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His energy and ear-to-ear smile can brighten even the darkest situations, the soldiers here say, describing him as sincere and caring, loving to all and judgmental to none. Army Chaplain (Maj.) Randal H. Robison has committed his life to answering his calling and is happy being a source of optimism and positivity for soldiers during deployment. "I look at the position I hold as the brigade chaplain as a calling," said Robison, brigade chaplain for the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team in Task Force Currahee. "I believe I am here, appointed by the Lord, to be present to provide pastoral care ministry and to be present for the services of our soldiers and for our chaplains."His responsibilities include oversight of six religious support teams that cover all of Paktika province and beyond, working with his Afghan counterpart and fulfilling his staff officer duties. But it is going above and beyond those roles with a sense of humility that separates him from others.
"I enjoy what I do. I treasure the role of the chaplaincy very much," the Grand Prairie, Texas, native said. "I wholeheartedly embrace it. Bringing God to soldiers and soldiers to God is very much at the basic core of my identity. I want to do to everything I can to encourage soldiers, to let them know that even in their difficult moments with the challenges they face, God is with them."
His Christian beliefs are at the core of who he is, yet for many soldiers, his ability to care and make time for others is what sets him apart.
"My favorite thing about Chaplain Robison is even when he is extremely busy, if you need to talk, he will stop what he is doing and listen to you," said Army Pfc. Genevieve A. Harms, paralegal specialist with the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "He remembers your problems, and the next time he sees you, he makes sure everything has worked out. He actually cares about soldiers and their families."
Caring about soldiers is just something he does not because he has to, but because he wants to, the chaplain said.
"I want all soldiers to know that I do care and I, at the end of the day, am a soldier just like the most-junior private we have," he added. "If I see them, I want to engage them and encourage them, knowing they have a story.
"I want to know how they are doing and how their families are doing," he continued, "because I truly feel, deeply, that our soldiers are America's finest. They are willing to serve and to be away from their families and face the hardships and challenges. Therefore, they deserve our best. Every soldier deserves the best from the soldier next to them, so that we can be able to get our mission accomplished. I want soldiers to know that they are cared for, to nourish them for who they are."
Chaplains at the battalion level have an opportunity to interact more with troops, he said, noting that the role is different at the brigade level. "But it is still embracing the spirit and kissing the soul of the soldiers and letting them know that you do care and that God cares for them, too," he added.
Robison has a knack for making soldiers feel as if they are talking to an old friend.
"When I talk to him, he makes me feel like I am talking to someone I have known my whole life," said Harms, a Tacoma, Wash., native. "He knows where I am coming from, and he does not judge me based on the decisions I have made.
"When I see him walking toward me," she added, "I get the feeling that everything is going to be OK. Even if I only come across him for just one second, it makes my day better."
Ultimately, Robison said, it's about duty, country and honoring God through his service.
"I want to know I made a difference, that my service was not just signing up and going through the motions, but that I made a difference in the lives of those who I have been able to meet because they have made a difference in mine," he said. "With every soldier, I think if I can know them, that maybe somehow I could make a difference in their life."
Robison said he tries to start every day on his knees in prayer.
"Part of my prayer is to place my life and the lives of my soldiers in Christ's hands and for his guidance, wisdom and understanding, and I try to rest in that -- to know that God's keeping hand is upon us for all Currahees," he said.
The chaplain said his personal faith drives what he does. "It defines who I am as a Christian pastor," he said, "and in my role as a Christian chaplain, it just compels me to it. I try to do it with a sense of joy."
Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force 

Friday, January 28, 2011

CMC has been chosen to host Workshop

Dr. Bedi before media 
LudhianaThe CMCH (Christian Medical College & Hospital)  here has been chosen to host the prestigious International Master Class on Venous Disease – 2011Dr Harinder Singh Bedi, Head, Cardio-Vascular and Thoracic surgery Department, CMCH, said, “In view of the extensive work on vascular disease being done in the CTVS Dept of CMC & H it was decided by an international panel to hold the workshop in Ludhiana”.Dr Bedi had also delivered a guest lecture on redo-surgery at the last International Workshop. Dr Bedi is credited with being a world leader and the pioneer in beating heart surgery and in the world’s first use of the radial artery in treatment of vascular disease of the leg.
Dr HS Bedi & Dr Masih with cardio vascular team
Renowned surgeons,including Prof Jean-Francois Uhl (France), Dr Ted King (USA), Dr Mark Malouf (Australia) and Dr Rene Milleret (France), will be assisting the CMC surgeons so that the latest techniques could be used to help people of this region. According to Dr Bedi, chronic venous disease is quite common in India as most of our population works in the standing position, leading to pressure on the veins which dilate. It is estimated that over a lakh die due to venous disease (DVT and PE) each year – which is the equivalent of the disappearance of a city the size of Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Dr. Bedi talking to media
The other members of the local faculty are Dr A Joseph, Dr A Gupta, Dr V Abraham, Dr V Bhasker, Dr A Bhardwaj, Dr P Gupta and Dr S Samuel. The conventional therapy of varicose veins is a major operation called stripping. It entails a long cut, pain, admission and a slow recovery.A revolutionary new technique called ‘Endovenous Thermal Ablation’ with a Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) has been introduced and perfected at the CMC. It is this technique which will be discussed in detail at the workshop. Patients will have the advantage of having the best International experts in Ludhiana to lend their surgical skills. Officiating Director Dr.Kim Mammen, Medical Superintendent Dr.Kanwal Masih were also present on the occasion.Dr.Bedi can be contacted at 98140-60480 for any clarification.:-Rector Kathuria

Marines in Afghanistan Test New Concussion Care

Posted on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 1:34 AM
By Cheryl Pellerin of American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2011 - A new concussion care program being fielded by the Marine Corps in Afghanistan is giving psychiatrists, physicians and even chaplains and sergeants a better way to treat those with the No. 1 battle injury, military combat medicine experts said today.
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Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos speaks with sailors and Marines at the Concussion Restoration Care Center at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Dec. 23, 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian A. Lautenslager 

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Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Charles Benson, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force psychiatrist and 1st Marine Division's deputy surgeon, and Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Keith Stuessi, director of the Concussion Restoration Care Center at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, spoke with Pentagon reporters in a video teleconference.
The Navy-Marine Corps effort, launched in August and called the Operational Stress Control and Readiness Program, or OSCAR, has two parts, Benson said.
"The first part [includes] psychiatrists and psychologists who we field with the combat team," Benson explained. "These are organic embedded assets in the division's regiments and battalions. They live with the troops, train with the troops and get out in the field with them."
Such an arrangement, he added, "allows the Marines to come forward to the psychologists and psychiatrists [and] kind of breaks down the barriers and allows the [providers] to become very effective at ... delivering mental health care."
The second part of the program offers special training to medical officers, corpsmen, chaplains, religious personnel and key leaders at the sergeant and first sergeant level so they can deliver basic mental health care to troops in harm's way.
"Those folks constantly monitor their Marines," Benson said, "helping them with simple issues and understanding at what point [a Marine with an injury] needs to be referred back for more comprehensive care."
Together, the programs "have generated quite a bit of success out here in Afghanistan," the psychiatrist said, treating concussions and musculoskeletal injuries -- the No. 1 nonbattle injuries of the war.
Stuessi, a sports medicine doctor, described a typical Concussion Restoration Care Center success story.
"I first saw Lance Corporal Smith on Jan. 3, three days after he was medevaced to Bastion Role 3 hospital because of injuries suffered from [device roadside bomb] blast while on a routine convoy," he said.
Smith was discharged from the hospital and referred to the outpatient concussion center, where he completed a questionnaire about the blast and his symptoms, and went through a neurologic exam and a neurocognitive test.
"Lance Corporal Smith and I discussed the symptoms -- a constant headache, dizziness, trouble concentrating and sleeping, moderate low-back pain and occasional nightmares, along with repeated thoughts of the blast," Steussi said. "Over the next 11 days, all these symptoms were addressed by our specialists, who are located under one roof."
Smith saw a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a psychologist, and then Steussi used acupuncture to treat Smith's headaches and insomnia.
Between appointments, Smith stayed with other Marines at a wounded warrior facility.
"During his last visit," Steussi said, Smith "was completely asymptomatic" and returned to his unit.
Although concussion is a physical injury, Benson said it's related to mental health.
"When folks have a mild traumatic brain injury, sometimes their symptoms have a psychiatric flavor," the psychiatrist said. "They might have difficulty sleeping or nightmares and anxiety along with that. And sometimes folks who have straight-up psychiatric symptoms like depression might also have insomnia and problems that look a mild traumatic brain injury.
"There's an awful lot of overlap and symptomatology between the two entities," he added. "We think it's important to work on these as a team and address both issues at the same time to try to get a Marine back on his feet and heading in the right direction."
Having psychiatrists and psychologists embedded in regiments and battalions gives troops who might not naturally turn to a mental health provider a range of ways to seek help, Benson said.
"Most of the best OSCAR and OSCAR Extender Program outreach happens when it's not really a formal sort of thing," he added. "It's like when you're sitting at breakfast eating your toast and a Marine sits across from you and says, 'Hey, Doc, you got a moment?' And then you start chit-chatting.
"Or you might be waiting in line or something and they know you because they see you out there in the field," he continued. "They understand that you can relate to what they're going through, and they feel more comfortable coming to chat with you."
Ultimately, Benson added, the program should help to reduce the stigma attached to seeking mental health care.
"When you're in combat, when you're deployed, you're going to have feelings," he said. "Things are going to come up. It's best if you talk about them and seek out help."
Steussi said center providers have treated and returned to full duty about 320 concussion patients, collecting data on each case along the way.
"We're in the process of reviewing the data so that in the future we can better treat Marines and sailors," he added, "and use the information to [develop] policies for treatment here, out at [forward operating bases] and in the field."
Related Articles: 
Study Ties Problems to Post-traumatic Stress 
Policy to Mandate Head Injury Evaluations 

First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Fort Jackson

Posted on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:59 AM
By Susanne Kappler of Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office
FORT JACKSON, S.C., Jan. 27, 2011 - First Lady Michelle Obama paid a visit here today to learn from Army leaders about how childhood obesity and physical inactivity affects military readiness and what the Army does to combat these effects.

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Army Pvt. Rudolph Buchanan, a recruit in Basic Combat Training with the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, talks with First Lady Michelle Obama during her Jan. 27, 2011, visit to Fort Jackson, S.C. U.S. Army photo by Susanne Kappler 

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The first lady's first stop was the Drill Sergeant School, where she was briefed by Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's initial military training, and the command's health and fitness programs. Obama founded the Let's Move campaign, which focuses on overcoming the challenge of childhood obesity.
Before the briefing, Obama said she was excited to learn how the military deals with those challenges.
"The military can model so many wonderful solutions," Obama said. "And I am excited about making the rest of the country aware of not just the challenges we face, but the work you do to get these young recruits and trainees back on track, because a lot of people around the country could use the same kind of support."
Hertling said that 75 percent of America's youth are ineligible to join the military for a variety of reasons. Out of those ineligible, 17 percent are disqualified because of obesity.
He outlined the problems obesity creates in recruiting new soldiers and the challenges physically unfit recruits face during basic training.

"Our challenge is to fix it quickly," Hertling emphasized.
Last August, the Army introduced new physical training guidance, which aims to improve physical conditioning while reducing the risk of injury. In addition, the Army has started the soldier fueling initiative, which emphasizes healthful nutrition habits for soldiers.

Hertling told Obama the new program has been effective.

"What we're seeing is, the choices of the soldiers are changing in basic training and they're feeling better, and we get a lower attrition rate," Hertling said.
Obama observed the results of the nutrition initiative first hand, when she visited the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment's dining facility. As part of the program, dining facilities changed their menus with a focus on performance-focused menu items and healthful beverage options. In addition, a new labeling system at the dining facilities helps soldiers identify optimal food choices.
Obama also met with drill sergeants and soldiers before speaking at the graduation of 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, on Hilton Field.
"I'm especially thrilled [to be] with the extraordinary men and women who are graduating today," Obama told the audience. "On behalf of myself and my husband and a grateful nation, I want to start off today by saying congratulations on all that you've achieved, and, of course, 'Hooah!'"
Obama also praised Army initiatives that ensure new soldiers are physically fit to serve.
"You've learned something that is also near and dear to my heart -- and I know that some of the moms here would probably agree with me on this one -- through the new Fueling the Soldier initiative here at Fort Jackson, you learned how to make better choices about what you eat," she said.
The first lady also praised the families of friends of the graduating soldiers for encouraging their loved ones to serve.
"Thank you for holding these men and women tight for all those years, but most of all, thank you for letting them go, so that they can serve this country and protect and defend this great nation that we all love," Obama told the families. "In these soldiers -- your sons and daughters, your spouses, siblings and parents -- we see the very best America has to offer."
First Lady Michelle Obama 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Royal Thai Army Gen. Suraphan Wongthai

 Royal Thai Army Gen. Suraphan Wongthai, center, the coordinator of Royal Thai Military Forces for Cobra Gold 2011; U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, left, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force; and Brig. Gen. Craig C. Crenshaw, right, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Logistics Group, prepare to board Military Sealift Command dry cargo ship USNS 1st Lt. Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011) to observe a maritime prepositioning force training evolution during exercise Cobra Gold 2011 in the Gulf of Thailand Jan. 23, 2011. The evolution demonstrated the amphibious assault capabilities of the Marine Corps. Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint/combined exercise designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Alejandro Pena, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

Carries an injured Afghan man

Click to download the publication quality image in a new window.U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jose Aguilarmendez, a machine gun team leader with 1st Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, carries an Afghan man who was injured by an improvised explosive device during a security patrol in Sangin district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Jan. 12, 2011. Marines conducted security patrols in partnership with the International Security Assistance Force to combat insurgent activity and gain the trust of Afghan civilians. 

(DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Ortiz, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lynn Assesses NATO's Cybersecurity Progress

By Jim Garamone 
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Jan. 25, 2011 - NATO is moving ahead with plans to protect the alliance's cyberspace domain, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today.

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Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, left, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen walk to a meeting with policy advisors on NATO cyber defense at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 25, 2011. DOD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison 

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In an interview at the European Defense Agency, Lynn said NATO leaders are taking concrete steps to defend cyberspace.
Lynn called his visit a "a bookend trip." He had visited the alliance headquarters two months before NATO's November summit in Lisbon, Portugal, to propose and coordinate U.S. ideas for defending cyberspace. His meeting today was part of the High Level Meeting of National Policy Advisors on NATO Cyber Defense. Coming two months after the summit, it was a chance for Lynn to assess progress.
"The first step for NATO is to protect its own networks," the deputy secretary said. "We need concrete steps. We need to move to full operational capability of the NATO Cyber Incident Response Center, and make good on the promise of Lisbon to pull it forward from 2015 to 2012."
Strong support exists in the alliance for this step, Lynn said, and while finances always are a concern, he said he sees that happening.
Lynn said the alliance also is putting centralized governance mechanisms in place to protect its networks.
"You have to have configuration control. You have to have a single management structure," he said. "One of the outputs of the agency reform effort that NATO is undertaking will be to get that centralized governance structure."
Lynn also participated in a public- and private-sector cybersecurity roundtable sponsored by Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe. The roundtable included representatives from private companies, colleges and think tanks.
"It reflects the mutual interdependence of economic and security factors," Lynn said. "It reflects the fact that [cybersecurity] is not a problem like air defense, where you would look to the government alone to provide the solution."
Cybersecurity has to include private and nongovernmental entities, Lynn said, and the private-sector representatives didn't really argue.
"The overall thrust [during the roundtable] is that companies believe this needs to be a partnership," he said.
Lynn emphasized the word "partnership," saying he believes the issue needs government resources and support, but not necessarily government orders. "I got the same message here as I did in the States," he said.
The private sector has enormous technologies to share, and governments have resources to invest in those technologies. Still, Lynn said, it is a learning experience for both sides.
In the United States, the Defense Department works closely with firms making up the Defense industrial base to protect networks and data on those nets. At first, the firms were worried about sharing proprietary information, but now they see the value, Lynn said.
"Many of their fears have fallen away, and we have a very good two-way street with them," Lynn said. The fears are not completely gone, he acknowledged, but they have relaxed to the point that they see their data is being protected. And they "are gaining a much better understanding of what the threat is, where it is coming from and how other people are dealing with it," he added. "Essentially, the rising tide is lifting all boats in its ability to protect."
The Defense Department has learned important lessons in protecting U.S. military networks, Lynn said, and he reached out to the European Union and the European Defense Agency to share those lessons.
William J. Lynn III
Related Sites: 
Special Report: Travels With Lynn 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In Zambar, Khowst province, Afghanistan

Click to download the publication quality image in a new window.U.S. Army Spc. Kyle Oszczakiewicz, an infantryman with 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, scans for insurgents as the platoon receives small-arms fire from across a wadi, or valley, in Zambar, Khowst province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 18, 2011. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Guffey, U.S. Army. (Released)

Lynn Discusses Cybersecurity with NATO, U.S. Leaders

Posted on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 12:40 AM
By Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Jan. 24, 2011 - Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III met with NATO and U.S. leaders at the alliance headquarters here today to discuss the way forward in cybersecurity.

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Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, right, walks with Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 24, 2011. Lynn is meeting with alliance officials on NATO's approach to cybersecurity. DOD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison 

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At the alliance's November summit in Lisbon, Portugal, NATO's heads of state and leaders of government agreed that the threats in cyberspace have grown and that the alliance must confront them.
The threats are more frequent, more organized and more costly, a joint statement released at the summit said, and "they can reach a threshold that threatens national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security and stability."
The threats, the statement added, can come from foreign militaries and intelligence services, organized crime, terrorist and extremist groups, or even individuals.
In Lisbon, NATO leaders called on the alliance to develop the ability to prevent, detect, defend against and recover from cyber attacks. The alliance must protect critical networks and put in place processes to leverage national cyber defense capabilities, the alliance's leaders added.
Partnerships between the public and private sectors are essential, as government and military networks routinely use private networks to communicate. Lynn furthered the public-private partnership concept during a roundtable at NATO this morning. Accompanied by Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, the deputy secretary stressed the need for public and private entities to work together to find a balance between openness and security, according to defense officials present at the meeting.
Tomorrow, Lynn continues the cybersecurity conversation by taking part in a high-level meeting of national policy advisors on NATO cyber defense at the alliance's headquarters. He also will meet with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton and the newly appointed chief executive of the European Defense Agency, Claude-France Arnould.
William J. Lynn III
Related Sites:
Special Report: Travels With Lynn 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Red Cross volunteer helps

A Red Cross volunteer helps a recovering warrior at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Red Cross volunteers stand by at Landstuhl, where nearly every combat-wounded service member makes a stop before returning to the United States. Courtesy photo 

Battle-hardened Marine Teaches Others

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Bryan Nygaard 
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Jan. 21, 2011 - Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. William Abernathy, the company first sergeant for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group's Military Police Support Company, has no trouble getting the attention of his Marines.
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Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. William Abernathy gives instruction on how to properly load an M1014 shotgun at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 28, 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Wulz 

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"When Gunny Abernathy talks, everybody shuts up and listens," said Marine Corps Sgt. Maleah Slaughter, a military policeman in the company. "He's definitely somebody to be heard."
Abernathy was born and raised in the small town of Madison, Miss., and graduated from Madison Central High School. "I was 16 years old before we got our first stop light," he said in a distinctive Southern drawl.
Once he completed high school in May 1996, Abernathy quickly started down the path he's been on ever since.
"I walked across the stage, gave my diploma to my mom, gave her a hug, got in [the recruiter's] car, went to [Military Entrance Processing Station] and went to boot camp," he said.
Abernathy said he became a Marine because he wanted to serve his country, but not in the sense of 'Corps, country and Momma's apple pie.' Rather, he said, joining the military was more of a requirement than a career choice, in line with his belief that every American citizen should serve at least two years in any branch of service.
For Abernathy's first four years in the Marine Corps, he served as an infantry machine gunner before making a lateral move to military police. In addition to his time here, he has been stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii, and he even did a tour of duty as a recruiter in LaGrange, Ga.
"It was absolutely the worst tour of duty I've ever had," he said. "And I've got five combat tours."
One of those tours was in Fallujah, Iraq, where he met his wife, Rachel, in 2005.
"Our guys went through a lot of ammo, ... and she was our battalion [ammunition technician] chief," he said. "When we got back, we kept up conversations, started dating, and a year or so later we got married."
Abernathy's other deployments also have made lasting impressions on him. On his last deployment to Afghanistan in 2009, where he was told by Afghan villagers the Taliban had a $50,000 price on his head, Abernathy found himself in a vicious firefight.
While repelling an enemy assault, Abernathy quickly and calmly helped every wounded Marine and established a casualty collection point behind barriers that effectively shielded the wounded from indirect fire.
It was during this firefight that he employed a unique first aid tool he tells all of his Marines to have in their individual first aid kits.
"I always carry tampons with me," he said. "They plug bullet holes pretty good."
After the fight was over, Abernathy's uniform was covered with blood from many of the Marines he helped. He wore that blood-stained uniform for more than a month, he said.
"I didn't have any water to wash the blood off my clothes," he explained. "I barely had enough water to drink. I wore those kids' blood on me for about a month and a half. My commanding officer made me burn my uniform. I still got the boots that have blood all over them. I keep them in my house. I can't bring myself to throw them away. I just can't."
Abernathy has a simple explanation for how he stays calm in battle: "I made my peace with God a long time ago," he said.
It's essential that leaders stay calm when under pressure, he added, because loss of bearing and panic only multiply the chaos.

"If my guys don't have faith in who's leading them, then we're all screwed," he said. "I'm depending on them to beat back the bad guy, and if I'm flipping out, then they can't do that effectively."
It was also on this deployment that he suffered a mild case of traumatic brain injury caused by a high-mobility artillery rocket that exploded near him while he was chasing a sniper. This injury is keeping him from deploying with his fellow Marines.
"It kills me to see guys I know go to very bad areas and know that I can't go with them," he said. "I'm not a warmonger. I know what I'm capable of and I damn sure know how to fight the Taliban. There's just one way to deal with them that's effective and gets results: You gain ground, you push them off, and you own the real estate. It is what it is."

Many of his Marines say that if there is one thing Abernathy teaches them, it is how to stay alive, and Abernathy said that's important to him.
"I've seen how brutal [the Taliban] can be," he said. "I've seen what they do when they get their hands on one of ours. I'll be damned if I take a kid into harm's way and I don't give him every tool that I have to use."
Even though he has been through the wringer on more than one occasion, Abernathy said, he doesn't use his experiences to brag or boast, but rather to validate what he is teaching.
"I try not to be that guy that's got a story for everything," he said. "I'm not the only one who's seen and done combat. There is nothing glorious in war. There is nothing glorious in taking another life. There's no awesome feeling that you get filled with. Dead is dead. You just killed somebody's son, husband or brother. There's nothing awe-inspiring about that stuff. It's a necessary evil."
Abernathy's Marines are more than willing to hear his advice.
"When he talks, he says everything in a way you understand, and you know he's not lying," said Sgt. Brad Bianchi, a military policeman in the company. "You always want to hear what he has to say."
Abernathy said he has yet to decide what he wants to do when his Marine Corps days are over. Many of his peers have encouraged him to pursue a college degree in psychology, he noted, because of his ability to counsel Marines who may be suffering from the effects of a combat deployment.
"I can relate to them," he said. "It's kind of hard for a combat veteran who's chewed dirt, spilled blood and had his blood spilled to relate what he's gone through to some 25-year-old psychologist who's never even left the country or gone into combat. I put a different spin on things. For some of them, it helps. For others, it's still a work in progress."
Simplicity is the key to success, Abernathy said.
"Focus on the basics -- high speed is not always better," he said. "So many people get wrapped around the axle about their own personal success, they forget what the purpose of this gun club is, which is to fight wars and to take care of our own."

Friday, January 21, 2011

One of the last masters of Ilm-e-Arooz passed away

Posted on Friday January 21, 2011 at 9:29am
Renowned Urdu poet and one of the last masters of the technical aspect of poetry writing (Ilm-i-Aroos), Raghib Muradabadi passed away on Wednesday. in Karachi. He was 93. 
Born in 1918 in Delhi, Raghib Muradabadi graduated from Delhi College and learned the art of composing poetry from the likes of Yas Yagana, Safi Lakhnavi and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan. After partition, he came to Karachi where he was made the head of the rehabilitation committee for migrants by former prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan. He contributed a great deal to the betterment of the migrant community.
He wrote 40 books which include a collection of ghazals, nazms, naat, a collection of poetry in Punjabi and translations in verse of Quranic Ayats and Ahadees. His collection of ghazals Rag-i-Guftar was received with critical acclaim as did his naats, Midhatul Bashar .
After Josh Malihabadi, whom he knew very well, Raghib Muradabadi was considered the best writer of rubaai (quatrain). One of his books titled Maut has 500 rubaais on the topic of death. 

Iftikhar Chaudri
The foreword to the book is written by Allama Talib Jauhri. He also penned his thoughts on the issue of terrorism. His compilation of Josh`s letters, Khutoot-i-Josh Malihabadi , and a book titled Mukalmat-i-Josh-o-Raghib speak for his closeness to Josh Malihabadi. Raghib Muradabadi had thousands of shagirds (pupils) the most prominent of which was the popular poet Habib Jalib. It is believed it`s Raghib sahib who suggested to Habib that he adopt Jalib as his pen name.
Raghib sahib was quite fluent in the Punjabi language. Talking to Dawn in an interview last year, he explained what had inspired him to learn the language.
“I had developed friendship with a Hindu girl back in India. Once she remarked that `jay tusi saday naal pyar karday ho tay, sadi zaban naal vee pyar karo.` (If you love me, you should love our language also.) I accepted the challenge, listened to Punjabi programmes on the radio, read Punjabi books and acquired such mastery over the language that I began composing poetry in it.”

Home in a war zone

Posted on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 8:18 PM
By Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Rasmussen of Task Force Lethal
PAKTIA PROVINCEAfghanistan, Jan. 20, 2011 - Most soldiers who are deployed miss their homes. But for Army Spc. Steven Starkey and Army Pfc. Andrew Starkey, a large part of what the word "home" represents is just a five-minute walk up the hill.
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Army Pfc. Andrew Starkey and his father, Army Spc. Steve Starkey of the Iowa Army National Guard pose for a photo Jan. 6, 2011, while deployed to Afghanistan's Paktia province. Courtesy photo

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Steven, a 40-year-old mechanic by trade in Council Bluffs, Iowa, works as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic attached to Company A, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, which currently falls under the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Andrew, his son, works in Company A's kitchen preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Both Starkeys are assigned to the Iowa Army National Guard's Company F, 334th Support Battalion, out of Red Oak, Iowa.
Both soldiers said they joined the Guard to serve their country and fulfill some personal goals.
Steven enlisted in the active-duty Army in 1989 as a heavy equipment mobile tactical truck wheel mechanic. He was slated to serve during Operation Desert Storm when personal issues at home prevented his involvement. He was young and dealing with a troubled marriage when his chain of command made the determination to let him remain in the rear as his unit prepared to support Desert Storm, he said.
"Looking back, I don't feel I was mature enough to handle the task at hand," he acknowledged, adding that his brief service helped him to mature and gave him cause to consider future opportunities for service.
The events of 9/11 reignited that simmering ambition.
"I felt like I had left something on the table, an obligation I had left incomplete" he said.
So almost 15 years after his initial service, he began the process to rejoin the Army, eventually serving with the Iowa National Guard. The process wasn't easy.

Steven had remarried and had three additional children -- daughters Ashley and Rachel and stepson Jon -- when he decided to re-enlist for active duty. Despite trying three times, the active Army would not accept his application because he had more than two dependents.
Steven gave up trying for active duty after the third attempt. Then, in the spring of 2007, he met his daughter's soccer coach, a staff sergeant in the Iowa National Guard. The soccer coach informed Steven that the Iowa National Guard had waivers and programs to allow people in situations like his to join. A month after speaking with the soccer coach, he was at the military entrance processing station swearing in for service.
A year later, Andrew raised his right hand and made the oath to serve his country, but he had a different reason: his daughter, Kyra.
Being in the Iowa Army National Guard has given Andrew a means to provide health care and child support for Kyra, he said.
"I plan to start a savings account with the money I'm making [on deployment] to help pay for her college," he said.
But joining the Guard came with some additional, unanticipated benefits for Andrew.
"I see myself grow every day," he said, "whether or not I enjoy it all the time."
Before making his commitment to serve in the Iowa Guard, Andrew had a "loose-cannon mentality," as his father put it. He was an unruly youth who often did not think before he acted. That was nine months ago. Now, six months into deployment, Andrew is a much different person.
"He's level-headed and can take criticism constructively like an adult," said Steven, who added witnessing this change has been one of the most rewarding benefits to come out of being on this deployment together.
Steven said sometimes a father has to be a father, regardless of rank, and stick up for his son.
"It's hard to keep the fatherly instinct at bay when I see my son getting in trouble by his boss," Steven said. "I often have to swallow my pride and know my place."
The Starkeys act more like brothers or best friends when they're together here, calling each other by their last name and making fun of just about anything the other says. Though they work at the same company, the Starkeys still feel as though they could spend more time together.
As trying as some days may get, they said, they usually find some time throughout the week to hang out and unwind together, giving them a chance to solidify, in a unique way, a bond that can only be made between a father and son deployed together.
"The one thing that everyone else wants, we have: a family member on deployment," Andrew said.
Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force