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