Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gates, Mullen Praise Efforts of Troops, Families, Vets

By Fred W. Baker III 
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2011 - Flanked by the memorials of wars past, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today said he has had no greater honor than serving and leading the U.S. military.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates speaks at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride on the National Mall May 29, 2011. An estimated 250,000 motorcycles participate in the weekend observance, which has evolved into a demonstration of patriotism for soldiers and veterans from all wars. DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III 
"I will always keep them in my heart and my prayers as long as I live," Gates, who retires next month, told thousands of troops, families and veterans gathered for the annual Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride.
Rolling Thunder began in 1987 as a demonstration to bring awareness to the plight of prisoners of war and those missing in action. Today more than 250,000 motorcycles participate in the weekend observance, which has evolved into a patriotic demonstration for soldiers and veterans from all wars.
Gates praised the efforts of the organization for ensuring the sacrifices of the military and families are recognized, honored and never forgotten.
"For most Americans, Memorial Day weekend is a respite from work," he said. "But for those of us gathered here, it is an affirmation of our commitment to remember those heroes who have fought and died or who have been captured in defense of our nation -- not just this weekend but every day of our lives."
The United States has a sacred obligation to those who have borne the heavy burden of service in the past, the secretary said.
"The men and women now protecting us on the front lines gain comfort knowing that if today they are missing or captured, we will not rest until they are accounted for and welcomed home to the honor they deserve, even as the conflicts recede into history," he said.
Gates said today's troops will join the likes of the veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam as a heroic generation that battled in far away lands to preserve the freedom and security of the United States.
"The American people can never repay the debt they owe to those who have fought and served, and to their family members who have stood so strong at home," he said. "Your work, and the sound of your bikes, reminds them of the costs incurred, the blood spilt, and the enduring need to maintain a strong military in a dangerous world."
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen introduced Gates at the event. The chairman, himself a Vietnam War veteran, gave a special "shout out" to his fellow vets.
"One of the things that I have seen over the course of these two wars that we're in is my generation stand up in a way that many of us were not allowed to back in Vietnam for lots of reasons, so I'm particularly proud to be a Vietnam vet," he said.
Mullen said such events demonstrate to those serving now that America is still connected to its military members.
"Everywhere I go these days ... the troops ask me one thing, 'Are the American people with us?' And I can unequivocally answer that, yes, the American people are with our troops," he said. "Based on what I see here today and what's going on over this weekend, that answer is very obvious."
Supporting the troops is important during their service, but it is equally important to continue that support after their military obligation ends, Mullen said.
"We can never forget their service," he said. "We can never forget them as a nation, and you and many others keep that vigil, keep that very important part of who we are as a nation front and center. And I will be forever grateful that you do."
Robert M. Gates
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen 

Click photo for screen-resolution imageChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen speaks at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride on the National Mall, May 29, 2011. An estimated 250,000 motorcycles ride during the weekend observance, which has evolved into a demonstration of patriotism for soldiers and veterans from all wars. DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III 
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blogger Honors Fallen, Their Families

By Elaine Sanchez 
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 - About a year ago, I had the honor of attending a dignified transfer for two soldiers who had been killed just a few days prior in Afghanistan.
Rather than marked with fanfare, the return of fallen service members who died in combat is marked with a quiet tribute to their service and sacrifice. The transfer is a solemn movement of a fallen service member from aircraft to vehicle to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
The night is still vivid to me. I remember shivering from the evening cold as a freezing rain bounced off the fuselage of a 757. And I remember as the carry team, clad in battle dress uniform and stark, white gloves, marched from the passenger terminal to the aircraft, oblivious to the rain or cold.
The cases were lowered, and the team carried each one to a waiting vehicle in slow and measured movements. After the fallen were loaded, an airman shut the doors while the military members in attendance gave a slow, respect-filled salute.
I remember how the quiet of the night was broken by the sudden anguished cry of a family member just as the vehicle pulled away, en route to the mortuary, with the carry team and official party marching in step behind.
I later learned these soldiers' names -- Army Staff Sgt. Michael David P. Cardenaz and Army Pfc. JR Salvacion.
Today, with Memorial Day so close at hand, these soldiers came to mind, as well as the thousands of other service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. And my thoughts turn to their families, who also made their own unimaginable sacrifice.
Like many Americans, I plan to enjoy a day off from work with my family on Monday. But I also will pause to remember service members, like Cardenaz and Salvacion, whose lives signify courage, sacrifice and honor. And I will remember their families, who will mark the holiday without a loved one at their side.
Deborah Mullen, wife of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote on the importance of remembering fallen service members and their families on Memorial Day, and every day, in a recent blog post.
"The pain of such loss is incalculable. But we can, and we should, promise them that we will remember those who lived and loved and fought for this country — a young man or woman who, when duty called, performed that duty nobly and with passion," she wrote. "We can, and we should, take pains to remember also the special needs of surviving family members, especially the children. Theirs will be an extraordinary life.
"If it's true that a nation defines itself by those it honors, let us also define ourselves by those we support."

Related Sites:
AFPS Family Matters Blog
Special Report: Dignity, Honor, Respect for the Fallen 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dr Kunal Jain is available at CMC Ludhiana

Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana offers comprehensive oncology services for the care of cancer patients and their families. Dr Kunal Jain has recently joined as a consultant in medical oncology after completing 3 years of advanced training in Medical Oncology from Australia. He completed his MBBS and MD from CMC Ludhiana and then trained as an advanced trainee in Medical Oncology at Royal Adelaide Hospital for 2 years. He also had the opportunity of working as a Research Fellow in Medical Oncology at Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia for 1 year and was involved in many clinical trials. He specializes in breast, lung, colorectal and oral cancers and also has keen interest in cancer research.
Dr Kunal Jain
With addition of full time Medical Oncology services, CMC Ludhiana has now got a complete range of oncology services including
1.      Hematology and bone marrow transplant services
2.      State of the art Radiation Oncology facilities
3.      Pain and palliative care services
4.      Intervention Radiology facilities 
5.      Experienced Surgical units including various super-specialties.
6.      Special laboratory facilities for oncology patients.
Director, Dr Abraham G Thomas added that with all these services coming under one roof, it would be even more convenient for the cancer patients of this region. CMC Ludhiana is known for its highly motivated staff providing compassionate and quality patient care.
Dr Jain is available for OPD consultations between 11am – 2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. For any further inquiries, please contact Oncology Office: 0161-5037957, Oncology Helpline: 9780005333 or Email: cmc.oncology@yahoo.com 
By Shalu Arora and Rector Kathuria 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Soldier Notes 26 Years of Change

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

COMBAT OUTPOST MUNOZ, Afghanistan, May 26, 2011 - "We have war stories; he has Civil War stories." "He talks about his first squad, muskets all on line ..."
His fellow infantrymen seldom run short of jokes about one noncommissioned officer here.
Army Staff Sgt. William Billett first joined the Army in January 1985, served eight years and got out.
"I was out for 14 years," he said. "Right after my son came in, I came back in."
Billett originally served in the anti-armor infantry, and rejoined the infantry when he returned to the Army in 2006. He currently works as the operations noncommissioned officer for Dog Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Billett's company is based in eastern Paktika province, along the border with Pakistan, but the staff sergeant performed a special duty elsewhere in Afghanistan midway through his tour.
Billett's son, Army Sgt. Timothy Billett, recently returned to Fort Campbell, Ky., from a deployment with the division's 1st Brigade. Billett pinned his son's Purple Heart on him last Thanksgiving at Kabul. His son was wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle.
His son is with the military police, Billett said, but while on deployment went on patrols and effectively acted as infantry.
"He's in a close-knit unit," he said. "It's a pretty good bunch."
Billett commended his wife, Beth, for her strength over the years. This deployment marked the second time both her husband and son deployed at the same time; the two also shared a tour of duty in Iraq.
"I don't know how she does it," he said. "I have a hard time with my son deployed. I worry about him. I don't know how she can deal with it with both of us gone, and last time was for 15 months. She's good."
Billett said he had a "break in service" in his marriage, too. He and his wife divorced for five years, then remarried in 2000.
"She's a stronger person than I am," he said. "I've got my head on a little bit straighter than I used to."
Billett was 39 when he came back in the Army. He went through a five-week warrior transition course and then completed infantry advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., he said.
"I've only got about six years left until I retire, so if my body holds out, I'll stay," he said. "This deployment I've been working operations, and I've only been out on one patrol. It hasn't been too bad."
Billett noted the changes he's seen in the Army over the years. The only thing about the Army that's the same now as when he first joined, he said, is the .50 caliber.
"Technologywise, it's leaps and bounds from when I was in last time," he said. "The mentality is different. The combat's harder, but life back in garrison, I think, is easier."
Before the technology that put surveillance platforms and satellite phones on the battlefield, Billett said, "your job was easier, but it made it harder to coordinate. Out here, we wouldn't be able to call for help, because radios don't reach that far."
The Army also is much more family oriented than it used to be, he said. "That's a huge change. When I was in before, we would go to the field for 30, 45 days at a time every three months. Now, they pretty much don't go for more than two weeks ... which is nice. I don't mind that at all."
Time with family is critical to today's soldiers, Billett noted.
"Some of these guys are on their fifth deployment," he said. "They've got kids that they've been away from more than they've been with, and that's hard."
The staff sergeant said he's looking forward to the end of his deployment, which will come in about two months.
"We've got a cruise booked for Nassau, the Bahamas, during block leave," Billett said. "Then get back and pack, because we're [moving] to Fort Sill, Oklahoma."
Related Sites:
Special Report: Afghanistan 2011 

Beej Swaraj Conference on Monday at Ludhiana

For Seed Sovereignty Agriculture and Food Security 

To save seed-agriculture and food sovereignty of country
To stop IPRs on seeds/germplasm/planting material or products
To reclaim farmers’ inherent natural right over seeds as real custodian
To protect our seeds and food from being contaminated by Genetic modification 
To protect Seed research in public sector and seed public sector institutions
Become a part of 3rd War of Independence, Be a savior of nation’s freedom   

Seed Sovereignty for Farmers’ freedom and Nation’s food security
Photo CourtesyHamara Beej
Beej Swaraj Conference
Monday, 30th May 2011
10 AM onwards
Punjabi Bhawan, Ludhiana
Seed is not a commodity, but the basis for food security and national sovereignty
Issues to be discussed:
1. Constitutional issues
Several laws related to farming are proposed to be tabled in the Union Parliament even though 'agriculture' is a State subject. Entry 14 of the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India (that includes matters on which the Legislature of the State has powers to make laws) reads: "Agriculture, including agricultural education and research, protection against pests and prevention of plant diseases."
2. Seed Bill, 2010
Changes to the existing Seed Act (1966) have been on the cards since even before 2004; a revised Bill is pending passage in both houses of the Indian Parliament. The text of the proposed Bill has not been made open. The new seed law will not help farmers' seeds, on the contrary it might outlaw the sale of seeds that do not meet (industry) standards of 'quality'. Moreover, the Bill does not prohibit the registration of transgenic seeds for sale.
3. BRAI Bill
The country's rules for GMOs date back to 1989; they are on the brink of being revamped through a new law. This new biosafety law that proposes to set up a regulatory authority is being pushed by the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology. Official discussions are focussed on a proposed BRAI (Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India) Bill, the text of which is marked as 'secret'!
Special Guests:
Vijay Jardhari, Seed Keeper farmer, Uttrakhand
Yudhvir Singh , National General Secretary , BKU- Tiket
Shalini Bhutani, Ecological Agriculture Activist, Delhi
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan( BKU-Ekta Ugrahan)
Sukhdev Singh Bhopal (Manav Kudrat Kendrit Lok Lehar)
Pishora Singh Sidhupur (BKU-Ekta Sidhupur)
Lehmber Singh Taggar (All India Kisan Sabha)
Satnam Singh Pannu (Kisan Sanghersh Committee)
Balraj Singh Rana (Punjab Kisan Union)
Jasdev Singh Jassoval
Prof Jagmohan Singh
Dr Inderjeet Kaur
Dr Amar Singh Azad
Dr Arun Mittra
Satnam Singh Manak
Dr Ernest Albert

Let us not forget what Kissinger-Doctrine says, "you control petrol, you control nations and if you control food, you control people"....we don't need to find out that this doctrine is still the backbone of US police in certain matters"

Since a nation’s food sovereignty as well as farming communities’ livelihoods is closely linked to seed sovereignty – who controls what seed is supplied, when, in what quantities, with what restrictions, at what prices and so on. This is closely connected to allowing most seed trade to be taken over by the private sector, coupled with legal regimes that allow for exclusive marketing rights in the hands of a handful of companies, along with monocultures encouraged of a few crops and few varieties even as farmers are encouraged to move away from their traditional systems of seed breeding, selection, saving and exchange. Policy makers and planners have to appreciate the intrinsic potential dangers of such a scenario; this is further borne out by the example of cotton seed in India, where an overwhelming majority of the market today is controlled by one large seed company in numerous ways; further, non-GM cotton seed is not available in the market and seed pricing has become a vexatious issue where state governments that want to protect farmers’ interests are being confronted by the seed companies against any statutory framework that regulates price and are even threatening to stop supply of seed – meanwhile, physical seed stocks with farmers and others have disappeared during the period that they depended on company-supplied seed. This scenario is potentially possible with other crops too and Seed Sovereignty is an issue that the government has to take seriously.
·         The seed industry seems to believe that their returns can be maximized and their R&D efforts rewarded only if exclusive ‘ownership’ rights are conferred, linked to marketing rights of course. Civil society groups including farmers’ organizations believe that this is antithetical to the very culture of agriculture in India, which thrived for thousands of years due to the open sharing of resources including knowledge.
·         Let us demand that Agri-research and extension systems have to prioritise in their projects and outlays, varietal development and distribution; farmer-led, participatory breeding programmes are to be prioritized to address issues of quality and local suitability.
·         For all those seed technologies which bring in potential environmental and health hazards, such seed should be allowed even for open air trials only if there are no other alternatives present and after biosafety has been cleared through independent, long term testing in a participatory and transparent decision-making regime. In this case too, like in Point 4, state governments should be allowed their constitutional authority over agriculture for exercising their own decisions through appropriate regulatory regimes at the state level, including licensing etc.
·         Regulatory regimes should also pro-actively watch out for seed monopolies/oligopolies building up and prevent the same.
·         Farming communities all over India should have first priority and access to all the germplasm collections all over the country. 

Let us not forget what Kissinger-Doctrine says, "You control petrol, you control nations and if you control food, you control people".... we don't need to find out that this doctrine is still the backbone of US police in certain matters…Oppose food colonialism

Let us join hands to initiate a struggle to protect nation’s seed sovereignty & food self reliance  


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Twin Dentists' Paths Lead to Iraq

By Army Maj. Jason Billington 
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment

BABIL, Iraq, May 25, 2011 - Suffering from a toothache in southern Iraq may land you in the chair of either of two brothers with an interesting story of adversity, perseverance, and the unique bond of identical twins.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Capts. (Drs.) Aleksandr Baron and Dmitry Baron stand together outside of the dental clinic at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, May 6, 2011. The twin brothers are augmenting 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in southern Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Maksim Shchekoturov 
Army Capts. (Drs.) Aleksandr and Dmitry Baron both serve in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment as dentists on separate bases in southern Iraq. Both are augmenting the unit from their home base of Fort Stewart, Ga. Aleksandr deployed to Contingency Operating Site Kalsu at the end of October to work with the Regimental Support Squadron, and Dmitry joined the regiment's 3rd Squadron at Contingency Operating Site Echo in April.
Both men volunteered for the deployments, but Dmitry's recent arrival to the same unit in Iraq was mere coincidence, the kind of common occurrence that has kept these twins together for most of their lives. The tight bond between them was forged when their parents, Vitaly and Emma Baron of Aberdeen, N.J., decided to take them from Russia to America when they were 6 years old.
"He just wanted a better life for his children," Aleksandr said, explaining why his father moved them from what is now the Ukraine to Brooklyn, N.Y.
"We did everything together. We got in trouble together. We'd be in the corner together. With a twin, that can be a lot of fun," Dmitry said.
The two recalled their assimilation to American culture as difficult, between learning a new language and being foreign kids in their New York neighborhood.
"Being in a country that is as far as the United States is from Russia, to have him next to me was the best thing God could give me," Aleksandr said. "He was a best friend. Trying to get cultured to America is hard. With him by my side, we were partners all the way."
They were not welcomed by their school-age peers, and both brothers recalled being in numerous fights during that time. This kind of adversity, they said, brought them closer together.
"That's probably why we're so close and much closer than a lot of twins. We've been through a lot," Aleksandr said.
Both attended Rutgers University for their undergraduate degrees and pursued their dental degrees at New York University College of Dentistry through the Health Professions Scholarship Program, offered by the Defense Department to medical and dental school students in exchange for a military service obligation.
"We had a ..." "... just a drive for it," said the two, with Aleksandr finishing Dmitry's sentence in a way that seemed to be part of their normal communication pattern.
Even when Dmitry decided to take a separate path and become a pilot in the Air Force, he jokingly described how he took the test and "never heard back."
In their roles as combat dentists in Iraq, the two respond to dental emergencies, fill cavities and even perform cleanings to ensure soldiers remain healthy and mission-ready. Both men recounted how their jobs seemed to spill into other, more unexpected roles, as soldiers have come in with greater needs than their dental instruments can resolve.
"I have people come in here to see me just because they want to talk," Aleksandr said. "They sit in the chair, they talk to me about their divorce, about family issues back home, about finance problems. I want this place to be a place for people to get away and just feel comfortable."
"People are appreciative of us," Dmitry said, describing the fulfillment of his job as a dentist in this unique environment. "We're like combat stress [relievers]. We're leaders. It's a pretty big balance."
Aleksandr has performed yet another role as a triage doctor, making decisions on priority of care based upon the severity of soldiers' combat wounds.
"I never thought I would do something like that," he said. "I thought, 'You send me to a deployed environment, I'll take care of soldiers, I'll comfort them, listen to them, care for their teeth,' but I did not think I would be doing triage."
A recent visit by Dmitry to see his brother at Kalsu brought the twin dentists together, thousands of miles from their Georgia homes. Their nearly identical appearance turned several heads as they walked side by side on the base. For the brothers, it was a chance to catch up and be together again.
"He's here. It's unbelievable," Aleksandr said. "I'm praying to God that he just keeps following me."
Related Sites:
U.S. Forces Iraq 

Air Force Doctor Meets 'Oprah'

By Linda Frost
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, May 24, 2011 - Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Van Adamson said he never imagined that he'd appear on Oprah Winfrey's television talk show -- but he has.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Cardiologists Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Van Adamson (right) and Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kenneth Leclerc review a patient's records May 20, 2011, at the Brooke Army Medical Center's cardiology clinic at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. Adamson received a scholarship to Morehouse College, Atlanta, Ga., in 1998, through the Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship program. He was interviewed about the scholarship for one of Winfrey's final television shows. U.S. Army photo by Dwayne Snader 
In her second-to-last episode today, talk show host Winfrey highlighted her charity efforts over the years. Adamson appeared along with about 300 other Morehouse College scholarship recipients.
In 1998, Oprah made a dream come true for Adamson, who was raised in Spartanburg, S.C. As a recipient of an Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship, he was able to complete his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College, a private, historically black, all-male college in Atlanta, Ga.
Adamson, a cardiology fellow assigned to the 59th Medical Wing here was also one of five individuals selected by the producer to appear in a short interview segment to speak about how the scholarship has impacted his life.
"It was amazing to me that Oprah cared enough about me as an individual, someone she didn't know, to help me get through school and accomplish my dreams, and it was absolutely amazing that I had the chance to meet her in person and tell her thank you," said Adamson, who currently rotates duties between Wilford Hall and Brooke Army medical centers.
Morehouse College is known for its outstanding graduates in the fields of education, politics, business, religion, science, medicine, dentistry, law and more.
"Oprah's scholarship gave me an opportunity to continue my education and attain my goals and head to medical school," Adamson said. "Honestly, if I had not received that scholarship, I would not have been able to go back to school my sophomore year."
Adamson said he was caught by surprise when the Oprah show's producer contacted his father.
"First, I didn't believe my dad, and then I called and they wanted to interview me to discuss my accomplishments since graduation," he said.
Adamson completed his internal medicine residency at Langley Air Force Base, Va., prior to entering the fellowship program at Wilford Hall. He served for six months at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, where he stabilized battle-wounded soldiers.
"(Appearing on the Oprah show) was very exciting," he said. "Rehearsal for the taping started at 4:30 a.m. and took six hours. Everything had to be done with precision. I also had the opportunity to meet Tyler Perry, black author and playwright. It definitely will be a star-studded show." 

Afghan Security Forces Grow in Numbers, Quality

By Cheryl Pellerin 
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2011 - The number and quality of recruits to the Afghan national security force are growing, a senior official in the training effort said here today.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, briefs reporters at the Pentagon, May 23, 2011, on the progress being made in providing literacy, basic skills and English language training to the Afghan army and police. DOD photo by R.D. Ward 
Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, briefed Pentagon reporters about his duties in the Afghan capital of Kabul, where he is responsible for the NATO training mission's literacy, gender, integrity building and rule of law programs.
"The size of the Afghan National Army has increased from 97,000 in November 2009 to over 164,000 today," Kem said, and will grow to 171,600 by summer's end. The Afghan National Police has grown from just under 95,000 in November 2009 to 126,000 today, and will reach 134,000 by fall.
Taken together, Kem said, this is an increase of 98,000 recruits in 18 months that has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in quality.
The literacy rate for incoming soldiers and police officers is about 14 percent, Kem said, "meaning that 86 percent of our recruits are unable to read and write at the third-grade level. This has been an enormous challenge." What began as a voluntary literacy program with less than 13,000 enrolled has become mandatory for basic army and police training, he said, and programs around the country are teaching basic literacy and numeracy.
"Today, we have over 81,000 Afghan [soldiers and police] in mandatory literacy classes, and we have graduated another 92,000 in different literacy classes since November 2009," Kem said.
"We know that we will improve the literacy rate in Afghanistan in the Afghanistan national security forces to over 50 percent by January 2012," he added.
The goal, Kem said, is to have full functional literacy in the army and police, defined as third-grade-level literacy.
Kem noted that the prospect of learning to read and write has been a huge draw for Afghans to join the army and the police.
"Literacy has a huge impact on the professionalization of the army and the police, addresses issues of corruption and will have an economic impact on the country in the years to come," he said.
Corruption is being addressed in several other ways, he added, including developing codes of ethics for the army and the police and establishing an anti-corruption phone line that's always manned and whose investigators are from an independent agency.
Putting blue dye in army and police fuel reduces incidents of stealing, Kem said, and using a lottery system adds transparency to handing out army assignments and prevents the best ones from being sold to the highest bidder.
Another step involves "having accountability of all the vehicles, weapons and radio systems that didn't have full accountability in the past," he said, noting that a physical inventory is now complete for all vehicles issued in Afghanistan over the past 10 years.
Special efforts are in force, Kem said, to deal with problems of recruiting Pashtuns from the five southern provinces and avoiding violence to Americans by members of the Afghan army and police force. For the problem of attacks on Americans, he said, "we've instituted an eight-step approach for all the new recruits coming in."
The vetting process includes matching the recruit and his identification card, requiring two letters of recommendation from village elders, performing a physical exam, doing a records check through intelligence sources, and using biometric measures, such as fingerprinting.
"It will never be foolproof," Kem acknowledged. "It's not foolproof in the United States; it won't be foolproof in Afghanistan. But it's an area that we look at very closely, ... and it is something that I think the Afghans take very seriously as well, because they want to be good partners."
To ethnically balance the Afghan National Police, Kem said, the percentage of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and other ethnic groups must be monitored.
"We balance every one of the battalions," he added, and because of problems recruiting Pashtuns from the southern provinces, a special recruiting program has been instituted with the Afghans. The numbers of southern Pashtuns has risen slowly, Kem said, "but they're not where they need to be."
"We're trying to get at least 4 percent of the recruits from the five southern provinces that are Pashtuns," he added, "and aiming for getting about 6 to 8 percent in the next couple years."
Work remains to be done between now and Dec. 31, 2014, when the transition of lead security responsibility in all 34 provinces to Afghan forces is scheduled to be complete, Kem said.
"In my personal professional judgment," he added, "we will have the Afghans ready to assume that responsibility."
Related Sites:
NATO Training Mission Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan 

Monday, May 23, 2011

A new achievement at CMC for Punjab

Now Stem Cell Cryopreservation & Transplant in CMC
First center in Punjab to have this facility
Stem cell harvest
Ludhiana: 19 year old boy (Mr AKW) was diagnosed to have acute myeloid leukemia (a type of blood cancer) which required stem cell transplant for curing the disease. As he was the only son and parents were not HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) identical, (HLA matching is important when bone marrow stem cell transplants are done between 2 individuals), it was decided to perform autologous stem cell transplant.' 

However, as there is a delay between the chemotherapy and stem cell infusion, it was important to freeze these stem cells under special facility.  So after the initial chemotherapy, Mr AKW’s stem cells were collected by a stem cell apharesis machine and they were cryopreserved (a process by which stem cells are mixed with a chemical called DMSO and frozen at minus 80 degree celcius) under strict aseptic conditions. 
Stem cells and the cryoprotecant
These stem cells were later infused after many days into the patient.  Now patient has completed 4 months after the procedure and doing well.  Since then stem cells have been collected and stored in a patient with relapsed lymphoma. 
When doing stem cell cryopreservation, it is important to follow strict protocols in preventing infection and to maintian the stem cell viability. 
Stem cell cryopreservation and autologous stem cell transplant is basically offered to patients with relapsed lymphoma and certain patients with acute myeloid leukemia.  
CMC Ludhiana established its transplant programme in October 2008 and since then the team has performed 20 transplants (15 allogeneic and 5 autologous) for patients with 1 ½ years to 62 years.  The spectrum of diseases for which transplants have been done were thalassaemia, aplastic anemia, multiple myeloma, Philadephia positive ALL, Acute myeloid leukemia, CML in blast crisis and Wiskott Aldrich syndrome). 
Stem cells with the
cryoprotectant before
dump freezing-Copy
A comprehensive team of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and office staff are behind this endeavor and CMC Ludhiana is one of the centers taking part in the CIBMTR (Center of International Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry) apart from the ISCTR (Indian Stem Cell Transplant Registry). 
Giving more information regarding this, Dr M Joseph John, head of Clinical Haematology, Haemato-Oncology & Bone Marrow (Stem cell) Transplant Unit, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana said that it is the first time this facility is established in Punjab and North of Delhi.  Dr Abraham G Thomas, Director added that with a new 5 bedded ‘state of the art’ transplant unit coming up, the team is would be able to perform more transplants with improved facility. He also added that in future, the team would be venturing into matched unrelated and cord blood transplantation.  
Dr M Joseph John, MD, DM
Associate Professor, Clinical Haematology, Haemato-Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant Unit
Christian Medical College
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

U.S., African Militaries Share Problems, Solutions

By Lisa Daniel 
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2011 - Senior leaders representing 17 African national militaries came together with their American counterparts here this week to better understand U.S. Africa Command and to help in developing the noncommissioned officers corps in their nations.
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Senior military leaders from 17 African nations gathered at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., for a week-long Warrant Officer and Sergeants Major Symposium, co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies, May 17, 2011. U.S. Africa Command photo by Army Lt. Col. Steven Lamb 
Speaking through interpreters and wearing the uniforms of their home countries -- Liberia, Rawanda, Botswana, Kenya, Gabon, and Senegal, to name a few -- the officers shared their militaries' distinct experiences and offered support and advice for others, said U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson, Africom's senior enlisted leader, who led the group.
"I was absolutely taken back by their level of wisdom," Johnson told American Forces Press Service yesterday. "These are not young soldiers. These are people who have seen conflict. They've seen a lot."
The second annual, week-long Warrant Officer and Sergeants Major Symposium, co-hosted by Africom and the African Center for Strategic Studies at National Defense University, employs subject-matter experts with experience in Africa to lead discussions on topics such as terrorism and transnational threats, security and health challenges, civil-military partnerships, and U.S. policy in Africa. The symposium also included tours of the Pentagon, U.S. Marine Base Quantico, Va., and the U.S. Capitol.
While it may have been tempting for U.S. military leaders to offer solutions through American experiences, Johnson said, that is exactly what the American sponsors avoided.
"We want the Africans to find African solutions," he explained. "There are many things the Africans do as well as us. We don't feel that we are superior. We believe that we can all learn from each other."
The symposium also provided the participants a forum for discussing regional issues such as malaria, and politically sensitive topics such as allowing women to serve in the military and managing HIV and AIDS among service members, Johnson said.
"There was tremendous bonding in the amount of time that we spent together," he said, adding that the participants showed much courage in the frankness of their discussions.
Sgt. Maj. Gilbert Seretse of the Botswana Defense Forces said he was not unusual among the group in that he had trained abroad – for him, at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas – but had never met anyone from some of Botswana's neighboring countries.
"Most of us didn't even know what our African peers were doing," Seretse said, noting vast regional differences on the continent.
"I never thought that one day I would be sitting around a table with my brothers from Africa," he said. "This has opened our minds and our eyes and our ears to each other."
Seretse said he left the symposium with a better understanding of Africom and he looks forward to sharing what he learned with his troops.
"Botswana is a major beneficiary in terms of what the United States gives," he said. "Every week, I have some [U.S.] military guys training" Botswana's forces.
The symposium is important not just for the benefit of the individual participants and their militaries, Johnson noted, but also to the United States. "The world is connected," he said. "The success of our African partners leads to the success of our own national security interests, and vice versa."
Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSgt. Maj. Gilbert Seretse of the Botswana Defense Forces was among 17 senior military leaders from 17 African countries who gathered in Washington, D.C., for the week-long Warrant Officer and Sergeants Major Symposium co-hosted by U.S. Africa Command and the African Center for Strategic Studies, May 17, 2011, at National Defense University. U.S. Africa Command photo by Army Lt. Col. Steven Lamb 
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson, U.S. Africa Command's senior enlisted leader, speaks to participants of the Joint Warrant Officer and Sergeants Major Symposium at National Defense University, Washington, D.C., May 17, 2011. U.S. Africa Command photo by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Lamb 
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gates Keeps Promise for Families at Fort Riley

By John D. Banusiewicz 
American Forces Press Service

FORT RILEY, Kan., May 20, 2011 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates returned here yesterday to deliver on a promise he made last year.
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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates gives coins to the four-year-old children who will be starting kindergarten at the new Forsyth Neighborhood Center during a ground breaking ceremony for the center at Fort Riley, Kan., May 19, 2011. DOD photo by Cherie Cullen 
The secretary participated in a symbolic groundbreaking for a new elementary school, a project he promised to shepherd through the government maze when he met with military spouses here in May 2010 and they told him about run-down conditions and overcrowding that plagued the public schools on post.
Gates told the spouses that he was aware of the situation and had identified Defense Department money that could help. He promised to secure the required congressional approval to transfer the money to the Education Department for action.
"Today, we mark a major step forward in solving school overcrowding here at Fort Riley, a problem that had become a major retention issue for the [1st Infantry Division], which is on its fourth deployment since 2003," he said.
Defense Department officials indentified the facilities here as being the most in need of rehabilitation of any across the armed services, the secretary said, so the need to act was clear. The problem, though, is not unique to Fort Riley, the secretary said.
"It is clear that such on-installation public school facility problems are pervasive," Gates said. "The department has more than 150 public schools on military installations across America, and a recent assessment showed that many other school districts have similar difficulties raising the revenue required to meet capacity requirements and rehabilitate aging facilities."
All stakeholders – including local, state and federal governments – must address the problem, Gates said, and he noted that, as a first step, Congress has appropriated $250 million for the Defense Department to directly assist school districts in revitalizing the public schools on military installations that have the greatest need.
"That funding will pay for this new elementary school, and also provide the resources this year toward resolving the capacity issue at Fort Riley Middle School," he said.
Local school districts should and will remain ultimately responsible for public school facilities on military bases, the secretary said. But the Defense Department, he added, always will be ready to intervene when it has the ability to improve military children's educational opportunities.
"We owe nothing less to our men and women in uniform and their families, who have sacrificed so much in order to serve our country," he said.
Future kindergarten students – each wearing a construction worker's hard hat – manned the shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking for what will be their new school.
Geary County Unified School District 475 operates five elementary schools and a middle school here. Five of the six schools are more than 50 years old, and recent growth at the installation has contributed to the posts' schools being 35 percent over capacity.
Temporary fixes have included converting available usable space into classrooms, which has led to a lack of other educational activity space.
Before the groundbreaking ceremony, Gates met privately with several dozen military spouses to seek their input on family-related issues.
(Shandi Dix of the 1st Infantry Division Post contributed to this article.)
Robert M. Gates