Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How the Cold War ended

For two decades, the world has been living with the consequences of events in 1989. As well as the changes in Eastern Europe, the Cold War was winding down. BBC Diplomatic Editor Brian Hanrahan, who has spent the year assessing 1989's legacy, looks at what happened next.

The hard men of the KGB were glued to the TV screen. Upstairs, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were dealing with great power confrontation.

But down in the basement, Mr Gorbachev's protection detail were watching a different confrontation - between Tom and Jerry.

Behind them smoke started to emerge from the wastepaper basket where one had dropped his cigarette - but they were so engrossed in the Western decadence they were sworn to protect against that nobody noticed.

The all-wooden building would have gone up in flames if the sharp nosed Icelandic caretaker had not ignored diplomatic protocol and stepped into the Soviet sanctum to douse the flames.

So was saved the Hofti House, and the Reykjavik summit in Oct 1986. And America and the Soviet Union were on their way to ending the Cold War.

Another backstairs story from that summit is about the direct telephone line installed to Moscow.

After Mr Gorbachev sprang a surprise with a disarmament package, President Reagan put a counter proposal - much to the concern of his aides because none of this had been anticipated or approved by the president's advisers.

Buried at sea

Mr Gorbachev went off to phone Moscow and returned shaking his head. He was still a comparatively new leader of the Communist Party and could not make deals without the approval of the Politburo.

But fast-forward three years to the Malta summit and we meet a much more confident Mr Gorbachev. In December 1989, he agreed with Reagan's successor, President George Bush, to move from confrontation to co-operation.

The Cold War was dead and, in the words of Mr Gorbachev's spokesman, "buried at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea".

All through 1989 there were two separate processes going on - both brought about by Mr Gorbachev's reforms.

One was the release from Soviet control of Eastern Europe - an explosive, headline-grabbing joyride for everyone involved.

The other was the quieter revolution in relations between East and West - the winding down of the ideological confrontation which for four decades had threatened the world with nuclear annihilation.

This was the real prize for Western leaders and they worried that a gleeful response to the liberation of Eastern Europe could put Mr Gorbachev's position as Soviet leader at risk.

"We couldn't be sure when the Berlin Wall came down that the Cold War would end," says James Baker, who was the US secretary of state at the Malta summit.

"And that's why President Bush was absolutely right when he would not 'dance on the wall' the way a lot of people wanted."

Mr Baker says "by not sticking it in the eye to the Soviets", President Bush made it possible for Mr Gorbachev to foreswear using force to hold the Soviet empire together.

"And he was right. He said: 'We've got a lot of unfinished business with the Soviets.'"

Mr Gorbachev had created a window in Soviet thinking - a window to a more peaceful world. But Western leaders feared it would close if Mr Gorbachev was toppled.

Well of bitterness

In the years that followed, a see-saw battle broke out between the conservatives and the reformers within the Soviet leadership.

" I think that in history Gorbachev will not be remembered as a creator, but as the destroyer of the Soviet Union because that's what he did "
Leonid Kravchuk first post-Soviet Ukrainian president

Mr Gorbachev struggled to balance himself as the changes which had started in Eastern Europe spread into the Soviet Union itself.

Lord Hurd, who was then the British foreign secretary, says: "It was inevitable. Mr Gorbachev could not be making these changes, these concessions, without criticism, without harsh debates."

The Soviet Union was being asked to relinquish territory it considered part of its status as a superpower - occupation zones, military bases, buffer territories.

"It had been fought over," says Lord Hurd. "It was full of memorials and cemeteries. There was no way that could be abandoned without a huge amount of bitterness inside the former imperial power."

Although Mr Gorbachev was losing power, he held back attempts by the hardliners to revert to the repression which had been characteristic of communist rule.

Without its prison camps and an occasional massacre, the system could not sustain itself.

The hardliners judged, rightly, that what was at stake was the survival of the country itself.

But by the time they moved against Mr Gorbachev they were too late.

The Communist Party which had held the country together was no longer the central source of authority.

Their coup of August 1991 was easily seen off by the reformers under Boris Yeltsin, the new Russian leader.

What developed next was a free-for-all as the leaders of the nations emerging from the Soviet Union grabbed power for themselves.

According to Leonid Kravchuk, who was to become Ukraine's leader, Boris Yeltsin's first thought was to preserve the Soviet Union and replace Mr Gorbachev as leader.

Only after Mr Kravchuk insisted on independence for Ukraine did Yeltsin switch to the idea of splitting the country into separate states.

It is a decision that still rankles with many Russians.

Much of the difficulties in dealing with Russia over the past two decades stem from its self-image as a superpower which ought to be pre-eminent among its neighbours.

But for the other states independence means the power to choose for themselves how close they should be to Russia. It still has not been resolved.

Leonid Kravchuk, the man who says he put Russia in to this position, was a former communist who reinvented himself as a nationalist.

He was in the group that negotiated the splitting-up of the Soviet Union. He remembers Mr Gorbachev's surprise.

"He looked lost," recalls Mr Kravchuk. "For him, like for everyone else, it was so sudden."

He believes Mr Gorbachev did not grasp how history was unfolding, and will be punished by it.

"I think that in history Gorbachev will not be remembered as a creator, but as the destroyer of the Soviet Union because that's what he did," says Mr Kravchuk.

"I am the creator of Ukraine - in history. Yeltsin is the creator of new Russia - in history. And Gorbachev did not create a new union, but destroyed it."

Delayed by Christmas

But outside the old Soviet Union, there will be a kinder judgment. Lord Hurd thinks Mr Gorbachev was well aware of what he was doing.

"We owe Gorbachev a huge debt. He loosened and, in the end, helped to destroy a system, and an antagonism with us, which had paralysed the world in many respects for a generation.

"And he did it largely through his own courage and a perception that the system couldn't last."

Mr Gorbachev did make one concession to save his place in history. He had intended to relinquish the office of Soviet president on 24 December.

But his horrified press aide, Andrei Grachev, reminded him that in most of the world the following day was Christmas Day. There would be no newspapers to record his going.

So the Soviet Union - rooted in atheism - survived an extra day to accommodate the Western Christian calendar.

Story from BBC NEWS:
President Obama has issued an executive order regarding classified information

30 December 2009

President Obama has issued an executive order regarding classified national security information.

VA Selects Permanent Location for Historic Civil War Monument

WASHINGTON (Dec. 30, 2009) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville, Ky., as the new home of the Bloedner Monument, the nation's oldest Civil War memorial.

The Bloedner Monument was removed from Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville in December 2008 and taken to a temporary facility where it was professionally conserved by Conservation Solutions Inc. to arrest further damage.

"The removal of an important monument from a national cemetery is rare and was not undertaken without great deliberation," said Secretary Shinseki. "However, the overwhelming significance of the Bloedner Monument and its failing condition warranted this unusual step."

The monument was carved in January 1862 by Pvt. August Bloedner to commemorate his fellow soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Infantry, all of them German immigrants who fell in the Battle of Rowlett's Station near Munfordville, Ky.  The monument's original location was on the battlefield, marking the graves of 13 soldiers who perished there.  When most of these remains were removed to Cave Hill National Cemetery in 1867, the Bloedner Monument was moved there as well.

VA historians, in collaboration with the Kentucky Heritage Council and Heritage Preservation Inc., selected the Frazier International Museum as the new home from three interested facilities based on Civil War exhibit plans, controlled environment and security, financial stability, annual visitation and proximity to Cave Hill National Cemetery.

The monument was fabricated from St. Genevieve limestone, with a base of Bedford limestone added in 1867.  It measures approximately 5 feet long, 1 foot deep and 3 ½ feet high.  The monument is carved on one side with a relief of an eagle and an inscription in German in a rustic script.  The text was approximately 300 words and 2,500 characters long at the time it was carved.  Because of the poor quality of the limestone and effects of the environment, the monument has lost a significant amount of material.  Only about 50 percent of the original carving and inscription remains.

The monument was temporarily relocated to a University of Louisville facility for treatment while VA conducted a thorough evaluation of potential sites.  The evaluation process included written proposals and site visits.  VA posted information on the Internet, mailed information to Veterans and Civil War heritage groups and held a public information meeting to solicit suggestions.

A new monument, with an interpretive sign explaining the significance of the original Bloedner Monument and indicating its location, will be placed at Cave Hill National Cemetery in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Speedy Recovery

Speedy Recovery

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 08:14:37 -0600

When American Soldiers are injured in Afghanistan they are taken to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

8 Tax Tips for Veterans

Author: Roni Deutch

1. Keep Records

To qualify and receive most Veterans’ tax benefits, you will need to verify your status as a U.S. Veteran. Therefore, it is important to keep your records in a safe place with your other financial documents. If you do lose any of these records, you will need to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain new ones.

2. Know About Property Tax Exemptions

There are a few types of property tax exemptions available to Veterans. The first is the Veterans' Real Property Tax Exemption that allows a qualifying Vet to take a partial exemption for property purchased with eligible funds. The second is the Cold War Veterans Exemption, which exempts those who fought in the cold war from paying property taxes. However, some counties and cities have opted out of this program so be sure to check with your local tax department.

Last but not least, the alternative Veterans exemption is available to Veterans with residential property that have served during wartime and/or received an expeditionary medal. Similar to the Cold War Veterans Exemption, some local governments may opt out of offering this exemption. With any property tax exemptions you should always speak with a local tax professional to make sure you do not pay any taxes that you are not required to.

3. Taxes on Income and Retirement

Unfortunately, any income you receive from the military that is based on age or length of service is taxable income and must be included on your tax return. However, you will usually not have the standard taxes withheld from your checks like you would with a standard paycheck.

4. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided some assistance to struggling families and businesses through the making work pay tax credit. However, the credit unfortunately created problems for many veterans. After it was enacted, the new law reduced the amount of money being taken out of American worker’s paychecks. Although Veterans are not eligible for the credit, they will still have fewer taxes withheld as part of the new “one-size-fits-all” IRS guidelines. Therefore, you may be surprised to find you owe a significant tax liability in April.

5. Track your Tax Liability

Because of the problems created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as the fact that taxes are not withheld from military payments, it is import to keep track of tax liability. If you are going to owe the IRS money, then you might want to make an estimated tax payment to prevent unnecessary fees or penalties. Alternatively, you may want to adjust your withholdings. If you feel you may end up owing taxes due to the change, you may want to consult with a tax preparer for the best way to counter-act the change.

6. Check State Benefits

In addition to the Federal tax benefits offered to Veterans, many state and local governments offer benefits as well. However, you will need to check with your state’s tax collection agency and possibly a local tax professional to find out exactly what options are available to you.

7. Job Search Assistance

If you are a Veteran who has to go back to the regular workforce, then you may be able to take advantage of a specific set of tax incentives. On your next tax return you can deduct expenses paid for creating a résumé, telephone call fees to prospective employers, employment agency fees, and any traveling expenses related to your job hunt.

8. Free Tax Filing

Many military personnel and their families will qualify to receive free online tax filing through the IRS website. Qualifying factors may change by location and situation so be sure to check with your local tax authorities and the website for more information.

About the Author:

The Tax Lady Roni Deutch and her law firm Roni Deutch, A Professional Tax Corporation have been helping taxpayers across the nation find IRS tax relief for over seventeen years. The firm has experienced tax lawyers who can fight IRS tax liens on your behalf.

Article Source: - 8 Tax Tips for Veterans

More Unit and Vet Groups

41st Armored Infantry Regiment


60th Infantry Regiment


66th Armored Infantry Regiment


134th Infantry Regiment (unofficial)


141st Infantry Regiment


224th Infantry Regiment


314th Infantry Regiment


196th Light Infantry Brigade Association


501st Parachute Infantry Regiment


504th Parachute Infantry Regiment


533d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment


552d Military Poice Company


5th Ranger Battalion


22d Tank Battalion


36th Tank Battalion


41st Tank Battalion


42d Tank Battalion


70th Tank Battalion


702d Tank Battalion


707th Tank Battalion


737th Tank Battalion


746th Tank Battalion


750th Tank Battalion


756th Tank Battalion


761st Tank Battalion


778th Tank Battalion


784th Tank Battalion


634th Tank Destroyer Battalion


635th Tank Destroyer Battalion


776th Tank Destroyer Battalion

1st Signal Brigade Association


13th Signal Battalion


43rd Signal Battalion


52nd Signal Battalion

459th Signal Battalion


71st Transportation Battalion


11 Bmos - "The Infantry Network"


Alamo Scouts


Americal Division Veterans Association


American GI Forum


American Military Retirees Association




American Veterans Remembered


Armed Forces Benefits Association


Armed Forces Retirement Home


Army Air Crews


Army Counter Intelligence Corps Veterans, Inc.


Army Engineer Association


Army Nurse Corps Association


Army Reserve Association


Association of the 3d Armored Division
Veterans and Museum


Association of the United States Army


Ben Myers Associations and Alumni Database


Blinded Veterans Association


Blue Star Mothers of America


Congressional Medal of Honor Society


Cold War Veterans Association


Combat Helicopter Pilots Association


Combat Infantrymen's Association


Disabled American Veterans


Distinguished Flying Cross Society

Dustoff Association


Enlisted Association of the National Guard


European Defense Veterans of America


Guadalcanal Campaign Veterans


Helmets to Hardhats


Jewish War Veterans


Judge Advocate General's Corps


Legion of Valor


Library of Congress: Veterans History Project


Military Order of the World Wars


Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States


Military Intelligence Corps Association


Military Officers Association of America


National Glider Pilots Association


National Infantry Foundation


National Veterans Organization of America


Normandy Allies


Philippine Scouts Heritage Society


Phu Lam Signal Battalion


Rainbow Division Veterans Association
(42nd Infantry Division)


Sergeants Major Association


Society of the 173d Airborne Brigade


Society of the Fifth Division


Society of the First Infantry Division


Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


Society of the Miltary Horse


Society of the Third Infantry Division


Special Forces Association


Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) Veterans Association


Sykes' Regulars Living History Group


The 30th Infantry Division Association


The American Legion National Headquarters


The Official U.S. Army 2nd Armored
"Hell on Wheels" Division Site


The OSS Society, Inc.


The United States Armor Association


U.S. Cavalry Association


The United States Constabulary


U.S. Army Ranger Association


U.S. 2nd and 5th Ranger Infantry Battaions


U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association


Warrant Officer Heritage Foundation


VII Corps Desert Storm Veterans Association


Veterans Wall of Honor


Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter - Chapter 227 (Northern Virginia)


WW II Veterans


Vets With A Mission


22nd Infantry Regiment Society


2nd Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery (Taiwan) Association


The Nike Historical Society


Women's Army Corps Veterans' Association


Women's Overseas Service League

Links to Unit and Veteran Organizations from The National Army Museum, a nice list and resource

Links to Unit and Veteran Organizations

The National Museum of the United States Army is being built to honor the American Soldier. It will have a special gallery devoted to Army Veterans, a Memorial Garden, and digitial records, like the Soldier's Registry where you can record your military service for posterity. To learn more about The National Army Museum, follow this link


443rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion


1st Armored Division


2nd Armored Division


3d Armored Division


3d Armored Division History Site


5th Armored Division


6th Armored Division


7th Armored Division


9th Armored Division


10th Armored Division


11th Armored Division


12th Armored Division


14th Armored Division

2d Squadron, 1st Cavalry Association


11th Armored Cavalry Veterans of Vietnam & Cambodia


77th Armor (Steel Tigers) Association


100th Infantry Division Association


90th Infantry Division Association


13th Airborne Division


17th Airborne Division


101st Airborne Division Association


1st Airborne Task Force


1st Aviation Brigade, Vietnam


116th Assault Helicopter Company


187th Assault Helicopter Company


188th Assault Helicopter Company


240th Assault Helicpoter Company


242d Assault Helicpoter Company


104th Infantry Division Association


106th Infantry Division Association


10th Mountain Division Association


5th Engineer Battalion


15th Engineer Battalion (Combat) Association


37th Engineer Battalion


82nd Engineer Combat Battalion


295th Engineer Battalion


299th Engineer Battalion


585th Engineer Company


588th Engineer Battalion


7th Battalion/ 8th Artillery Association


14th Field Artillery Regiment Association


15th Field Artillery Regiment


17th Field Artillery Regiment Association


21st Field Artillery Regiment


29th Field Artillery Regiment


30th Field Artillery Regiment Association


77th Field Artillery Regiment


82d Field Artillery


65th Field Artillery Battalion


87th Field Artillery Battalion


92d Field Artillery Battalion


243d Field Artillery Battalion


275th Field Artillery Battalion


419th Field Artillery Battalion


463d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion


553 Field Artillery Battalion


325th Glider Infantry Association


17th Infantry Regiment Association


18th Infantry Regiment Association


1st Cavalry Division Association


2d Cavalry Division


1st Cavalry Division Association Alumni of the First Team


4th Cavalry Regiment


7th Cavalry Regiment


8th Cavalry Regiment


14th Cavalry Regiment


112th Cavalry Regiment


124th Cavalry Regiment


1st Infantry Division

1st Infantry Division Oral History Interviews


3d Infantry Division


5th Infantry Division


6th Infantry Division


26th Infantry Division


27th Infantry Division


32d Infantry Division


35th Infantry Division in World War II


36th Infantry Division


40th Infantry Division


43rd Infantry Division Association


44th Infantry Division


45th Infantry Division


65th Infantry Division


75th Infantry Division


76th Infantry Division


77th Infantry Division


79th Infantry Division


80th Infantry Division


84th Infantry Division


86th Infantry Division


89th Infantry Division


90th Infantry Division


92d Infantry Division


93d Infantry Division


95th Infantry Division


96th Infantry Division


100th Infantry Division


104th Infantry Division


106th Infantry Division


225th AAA Searchlight Battalion


25th Infantry Division Association


26th Infantry Regiment Association


275th Armored Field Artillery Battalion


33rd Infantry Division Association


34th Infantry Division Association


35th Infantry Division


3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division


41st Infantry Division


43rd Infantry Division Association


45th Division Association


4th Infantry Division Association


5th Armored Division Association


63rd Infantry Division Association


69th Infantry Division


70th Infantry Division Association


71st Infantry Division Association


78th Infantry Division Veterans Association


7th Infantry Division Association


83rd Infantry Division Association


87th Infantry Division Association


88th Infantry Division Association


89th Division Society of World War II


8th Armored Division Association


94th Infantry Division Association


99th Infantry Division Association


5th Infantry Regiment "Bobcats"


7th Infantry Regiment


9th Infantry Regiment


15th Infantry Regiment


16th Infantry Regiment


27th Infantry Regiment


28th Infantry Regiment


31st Infantry Regiment


35th Infantry Regiment

DoD Looks at Long-term Health Effects of Burn Pits

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2009 - The Defense Department has launched a study on the possible long-term effects of the smoke emitted from burn pits used in overseas locations such as Iraq.

Armed services medical officials are conducting studies on the health outcomes of individuals that have been deployed to identify any health conditions associated with smoke exposure.

Burn pit smoke can cause some acute health effects in some people, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today. These can include eye irritation, upper respiratory ailments and coughing.

"To date, we don't have any information on any longer-term health risks that may be associated with burn pit smoke inhalation," Whitman said.

This is the second study of the effects inhaling burn pit smoke may have. The first study used an Environmental Protection Agency risk assessment method to determine what effects the smoke at Balad Air Base, Iraq, had on personnel exposed to it.

"We determined at that time, that there was no long-term health effects that were expected due to inhalation of burn pit smoke to the personnel assigned there," Whitman said.

However, there has been persistent concern about the possible effects, prompting the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center study. "The department's No. 1 priority is the health of our servicemembers," Whitman said. "Whenever concerns of this nature are raised we want to make sure they are being addressed properly and when appropriate studied for any long-term effects."

The Defense Department recognizes that some individuals may be more susceptible to the effects of burn pits because of genetics or pre-existing health conditions. Other factors may contribute to long-term effects including smoking, inhaling dust particles and working around heavy machinery.

The health centers expect a preliminary report out early next year.

Related Sites:
Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center news release

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Airmen, 'Soldier Santas' Conduct Toy Drop

By Air Force Capt. Lauri Turpin
Special to American Forces Press Service

POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C., Dec. 24, 2009 - You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. But on Dec. 6, it was not a team of reindeer, but Air Force Maj. Jeff Dasher, a navigator in the 95th Airlift Squadron here, who guided the mission for the 440th Airlift Wing's C-130 Hercules that flew a group of "Soldier Santas" across the morning sky.

One might say he was born for this mission.

"It's the name," Dasher said with a chuckle. "I had to be on this flight."

His flight was part of the 12th annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, a program sponsored by Fort Bragg, N.C., and Pope Air Force Base officials providing toys to needy children in the Fayetteville, N.C., area. The toys, donated by the participating servicemembers, are delivered to children in time for Christmas.

More than 1,200 Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps suited up in their jump gear to be a part of the charity event, which brought participants from as far away as Germany.

Air Force Col. Merle Hart, 440th Airlift Wing commander, greeted the paratroopers as they checked their gear and marched toward the flightline to board Dasher's C-130.

"I'm proud that the 440th can be a part of this operation," Hart said. "This is a great outreach that our soldiers can provide and a token of our support to the children of other military members and the local community."

This year, the 440th Airlift Wing, in conjunction with the Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., and the Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown, Ohio, provided airlift for the day's event.

Since its inception 12 years ago, the program has become so popular that Army paratroopers have to win a lottery to participate. To enter the lottery, each paratrooper must buy a toy for one of the needy area children. Though only 1,200 lucky winners actually jump, far more choose to participate and bring donated gifts to Fort Bragg.

For more than 1,000 children, these soldiers and airmen flew in a promise to them that they would have a very merry Christmas.

"They have a massive wrapping session," said Air Force Lt. Col. William Whittenberger, 440th Operations Group commander. "A lot of the wives and families help out. It becomes a big party."

Whittenberger was mission commander for this year's Toy Drop and also flew one of the C-130s.

"We've got 1,200 troops to drop in a fairly short time frame, so we're doing a parallel running course that's 17 miles long, and it is about 12 minutes from takeoff to drop," he said. "Our goal is five minutes between each air frame."

For Army Pfc. Caleb Wood, a 20-year-old soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, it would be only his sixth jump. Along with other members of his chalk, Wood waited in the passenger terminal shelter on the Pope flightline as other soldiers prepared their gear.

"It's my first year doing this," Wood said. "I bought a tricycle to support the event."

As Wood stood in line for his turn, Army 1st Lt. Judith Wood from 126th Transportation Company, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, waited for her turn to climb inside the fuselage of a C-130 to jump.

"I enjoy this because it's a rush, and it's great for the kids," she said. "I hope I'm here again next year. They tell you not to look down, but when you're there, you can't help it. We ask ourselves why we're doing this, but when we jump, it's all worth it."

Seated on the bleachers set out in the red sand against the stark winter-blue sky, family members waited alongside the Sicily Drop Zone on the far side of Fort Bragg for their loved ones. As the C-130 approached, they held up their hands to shield their eyes against the glare of the sun. The plane flew in smoothly, and one by one, the dark silhouettes of the soldiers dipped out of the plane and snapped straight, as one after another their parachutes ballooned into perfect mushrooms.

The line of parachutes stretched along the field as those soldiers who had already completed their flight marched in formation past the bleachers.

Meghan Scott and her husband, Army Capt. Andrew Scott of the Air Defense Battalion, donated a Candyland game.

"[My husband] loves to jump, and it's a great way to help out," she said. "We're very fortunate to live the way we do, so this is just a small way to give back."

(Air Force Capt. Lauri Turpin serves with the 440th Airlift Wing.)

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The Daily Yomiuri
Publication Date: 24-12-2009

A key document that gives credence to the existence of a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over the reentry of nuclear weapons into Okinawa after its reversion to Japan has been discovered.

The document is an "agreed minute" signed by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and U.S. President Richard Nixon during a summit meeting held in Washington in November 1969, prior to the 1972 return of Okinawa.

The document showed that the United States intended to remove all nuclear weapons from Okinawa by the time of its reversion. It also indicated that Washington would require the reentry of nuclear weapons into Okinawa during emergencies, such as a possible incident in the Far East.

The existence of this kind of secret accord had already been suggested by Kei Wakaizumi, who served as a secret envoy for Sato. However, proof of the existence of the document has now come to light and the finding is of significant historical importance.

Difficult decision

During talks over the reversion of Okinawa, Japan requested "nuclear-free, mainland status" for Okinawa. The United States, on the other hand, stressed the necessity of allowing for the reentry of nuclear weapons in the case of an emergency.

Agreeing to the secret accord was thus a tough decision taken to ensure the reversion of Okinawa by striking a balance between the Japanese public's negative feelings about nuclear weapons, and security concerns within the Cold War structure brought about by the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Foreign Ministry has set up a panel of experts to research and examine the issue of four purported secret agreements with the United States, including the one relating to the reentry of nuclear weapons after the reversion of Okinawa. The recent discovery of the aforementioned document likely will help the panel make significant progress.

Sato kept the document at home and we wonder whether its contents were passed on to successive prime ministers and senior ministry officials in an appropriate manner. The panel should uncover the truth through interviews with the people concerned, and via other means.

The government has consistently denied the existence of such agreements. But, to restore the people's trust in this nation's diplomacy, the government should acknowledge that secret accords were struck and thereby settle the controversy.

Deterrence still essential

Though the Cold War has ended, it is hard to say whether the circumstances surrounding Japan's security have improved.

North Korea, which has twice conducted nuclear tests, reportedly possesses a huge number of ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan. Meanwhile, China has registered double-digit growth in its defense spending for 21 consecutive years. China reportedly has deployed a number of nuclear missiles targeting Japan.

The U.S. military's nuclear deterrence is still essential for Japan.

Presently, however, the Japan-U.S. alliance is being seriously shaken. The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has indecisively handled the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, resulting in a strong sense of U.S. distrust toward Japan.

To maintain the effectiveness of the U.S. deterrence, we believe it is worth giving consideration to allowing port calls or stopovers of vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. However, such an act would have implications for the third of the nation's three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into this nation.
USO Offers Respite From Traveling Frenzy

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
BALTIMORE, Dec. 24, 2009 - As the rest of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport bustled with holiday travelers yesterday, its USO Lounge offered military travelers -- many returning home from overseas deployments -- a welcome sanctuary of solace.

The USO Lounge at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport offers military travelers a respite from crowded airport terminals, particularly during the holiday season. DoD photo by Donna Miles
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The lounge is conveniently positioned near the international departure gates on the airport's lower level. Yet, to the dozens of servicemembers who took refuge here yesterday afternoon, it felt a world away from the frenzied holiday travelers, beeping airport carts and blaring overhead speaker announcements.

Marine Corps Gunnery Sgts. Nao Lewis and Rachel Gause, both transiting home from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, were relieved to arrive at the festively decorated lounge shortly after their Air Mobility Command charter flight landed at 1 a.m.

They'd already been traveling for days; their flight from Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan was delayed after a record-breaking snowfall brought East Coast airports to a standstill. Now, all that stood between them and their families at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was a 15-hour layover before a short connecting flight.

Lewis couldn't think of any place better to wile away than hours than at the USO.

"This is a nice, quite place, where they let you take a load off your feet," he said, looking up from his laptop computer as he took advantage of the USO's free Wi-Fi service. "It's quiet here. It's a place you can feel comfortable and know your stuff is safe."

Three paid staffers, reinforced by an army of 230 volunteers, keep the lounge bustling from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and through the night whenever an Air Mobility Command flight arrives in the late or early-morning hours.

When a severe snowstorm hit during the past weekend, the lounge went into 24/7 operations, using every bit of floor space to accommodate stranded military travelers. The airport management offered up additional space, and volunteers poured into the facility to pitch in any way they could.

Airman Ronald Carr, who just finished Air Force basic training, grew up in a military family that taught him to appreciate the USO.

"It's good to know that this is basically an all-volunteer operation, with a volunteer staff and donations that keep it running," he said. "It makes me feel good about my service, knowing that people care about what I do."

Army Pfc. Taylor Walther, a California National Guardsman returning home for a holiday break from training at Fort Eustis, Va., said he's already had the chance to check out several USO facilities, and never walks away disappointed.

"They're all good. When you go there, they're all friendly, they all tell you to help yourself and make yourself at home," he said.

"Home" is exactly how Mississippi Army National Guardsman Jamie Peters, returning home via BWI airport from a deployment in Afghanistan, said he feels when he steps foot into a USO facility.

"They treat you just like family when you come in," he said. "They give you a place to watch TV, use the wireless or just relax. They're really a blessing to us."

"When you go into a USO, you get a welcoming sense," said Army Spc. Gerald Reed, an Army reservist from Upper Marlboro, Md., traveling with his 2-year-old daughter, Chris, to spend the holidays in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

"It's a friendly environment, staffed by overall, good people."

Among them is Geraldine Verrier, who started volunteering at the Baltimore USO when her Army Reserve husband deployed to Yemen shortly after 9/11. Eight years later, she still spends one morning each week at the lounge, greeting military travelers and showing them amenities that include a baggage storage room, reclining lounge chairs, an X-box video game system and a children's room.

"We're here to provide them some peace and tranquility, and to make sure they know someone cares about them and wants to help make them comfortable," Verrier said. "It can be a small thing – even just making a cup of coffee for them. But you never really know how much that cup of coffee might mean to them."

Twyla Hirrilinger has spent a lifetime of volunteer service, but said she'd be pressed to find a more fulfilling way to give of her time, or to a more appreciative group to serve.

"When [the troops] come in here, they thank me just for being there. It gives you chills," she said. "I just love doing this. Being here makes me feel happy."
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

USS Wasp Returns

The timing could not be better for the 1100 Sailors and 365 Marines onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.

Reserves and N.G. Status Update from DOD

December 23, 2009

National Guard (In Federal Status) and Reserve Activated as of December 22, 2009

                This week, the Air Force and Coast Guard announced an increase in activated reservists, while the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps announced decreases. The net collective result is 620 fewer reservists activated than last week.
                At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease.  The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 105,885; Navy Reserve, 6,266; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 15,298; Marine Corps Reserve, 7,593; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 779. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 135,821, including both units and individual augmentees.
                A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found at

Hokies Head Coach to Send Team Building DVDs to Troops

Virginia Tech Coach Tries to Inspire Troops

By Gary Sheftick
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2009 - Over the next couple of weeks, units in Afghanistan and Iraq will receive team-dynamics DVDs featuring Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer.

The shipment is being timed to coincide with college football bowl games for impact,
said Col. Richard Todd Dombroski, who spearheads the project.

The video is the first of a planned series that will be sent to troops overseas as part of a larger, though informal, partnership between the military and college football teams, Dombroski said. He outlined a growing relationship with schools such as Dartmouth, the University of Washington and Georgia Tech that includes testing helmet sensors, balance sensors and sharing other information on concussions.

Dombroski serves as surgeon for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, known in military circles as JIEDDO, and serves as a consult surgeon to Army Operations, G3, and the Rapid Equipping Force. As such, he said he is constantly searching for any edge that could help troops survive IED explosions.

Along with better helmets, armor and equipment, intangibles such as resilience and team spirit could help give troops an edge, he said. That's where the videotapes featuring NCAA coaches like Beamer come in.

JIEDDO director Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz opens the first 5-minute video and introduces Beamer.

"Although we have deployed many sensors to defeat IEDs, the best sensor is still you - the alert, focused and Army strong soldier," Metz tells soldiers in the video.

"Staying focused is hard work and similar to the task of an elite athlete," he continues. "This is why we have asked several NCAA coaches to discuss team dynamics and resilience with you."

Over the past 28 years as a college football head coach, Beamer has posted 24 winning seasons. He has led the Virginia Tech Hokies to bowl games for the past 16 consecutive years.

This year, with a record of 9-3, the Hokies go to the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play Tennessee on New Year's Eve.

The secret to winning is not so much talent as it is a positive attitude and team spirit, Beamer tells the soldiers in the video.

For example, Beamer tells the story of a team he coached in 2003 that had exceptional talent, including several first-round draft picks. But the players just couldn't win the big games at the end of the season. Their chemistry just wasn't right, he said, explaining that some of the players didn't even like each other.

The following year, many of the players had less experience and talent, but because they believed in each other and forged team spirit, they went on to win the ACC championship.

"The chemistry of this whole thing is so important," Beamer says in the video.

Beamer also reveals a technique for establishing positive attitude. One coach recorded positive plays - like good blocks and tackles -- during game day and then played back the positive plays during the next practice.

"The team started thinking more positive," Beamer says in his message to troops, "and they started playing more positive."

The other two keys for winning that he shares with soldiers are:

- Take one task at a time. "Instead of let's go win a war, let's do what it takes daily, hourly."

- Be consistent in daily actions. Balance the highs and lows and keep steady.

Dombroski said he has plans to distribute messages from other NCAA coaches as well, but he's still coordinating the details.

"War's not a football game," Dombroski said, "but there are some similar issues." Those issues include team dynamics, plays, fast action and reaction on contact, he said.

The partnership between JIEDDO and Virginia Tech began because Dombroski knew the team doctor, Dr. Gunnar Brolinson. He also knows some of the doctors for other teams, and said that has opened up doors for sharing information and partnering.

"This is all gratis," Dombroski said, explaining that the informal partnerships involve no contracts or money exchanging hands. He said it's mostly a "patriotic" thing on the behalf of the football teams.

The partnership with NCAA teams also is a two-way street, Dombroski said.

For instance, the Army has shared with Virginia Tech the same balance plate used by West Point athletics. After an athlete takes a hard hit, he is placed on the plate to measure balance problems.

Team doctors and Army doctors have many meetings to exchange ideas and information throughout the year," Dombroski said.

(Gary Sheftick writes for the Army News Service.)

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Toys For Tots

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WASHINGTON -- President Obama plans to deal with a Dec. 31 deadline that automatically would declassify secrets in more than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents by ordering government-wide changes that could sharply curb the number of new and old government records hidden from the public.

In an executive order the president is likely to sign before year's end, Obama will create a National Declassification Center to clear up the backlog of Cold War documents. But the order also will give everyone more time to process the 400 million pages rather than flinging them open at year's end without a second glance.

The order aimed at eliminating unnecessary secrecy also is expected to direct all agencies to revise their classification guides -- the more than 2,000 separate and unique manuals used by federal agencies to determine what information should be classified and what no longer needs that protection. The manuals form the foundation of the government's classification system.

Two of every three such guides haven't been updated in the past five years, according to the 2008 annual report of the Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees the government's security classification.

The anticipated timing of Obama's order was disclosed by a government official familiar with the planning who requested anonymity in order to discuss the order before its release. A draft of the order leaked last summer.

The still-classified Cold War records would provide a wealth of data on U.S.-Soviet relations, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the fall of the Berlin Wall, diplomacy and espionage.

A Soviet spy ring in the Navy led by John Walker headlined 1985, which became known as "The Year of the Spy."

It took 19 years and a lawsuit for the National Security Archive, a private group that obtains and analyzes once-secret government records, to get documents on the 1959 crisis when the United States and the Soviet Union faced off over control of West Berlin. For nearly two decades, the contested documents were shuttled back and forth among various offices in the Defense Department, then on to the State Department and an unnamed intelligence agency, each conducting a separate declassification review, before the government finally gave some of them up.

Obama's executive order will follow on the president's inauguration day initiatives on open government. On his first day in office, Obama instructed federal agencies to be more responsive to requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act and he overturned an order by President George W. Bush that would have enabled former presidents and vice presidents to block release of sensitive records of their time in the White House.

William J. Bosanko, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, says the classification policies in place under executive orders signed by Bush and President Bill Clinton have protected national security and enabled increased declassification.

But Obama's review is necessary to enhance security and increase declassification "to a level that our open society expects and deserves," Bosanko said.

Obama's executive order "is an experiment, but it just might work," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "By changing the rules about what gets classified, this could lead to a dramatic reduction in secrecy throughout the government." Aftergood obtained a leaked copy of an early draft of the executive order last summer.

The government spent more than $8.21 billion last year to create and safeguard classified information, and $43 million to declassify it, according to the oversight office, part of the National Archives and Records Administration. The figures don't include data from the principal intelligence agencies, which is classified.

"What we're seeking to do is come up with a system that refocuses the finite resources available," says Bosanko.

"Serial reviews" are among the requirements causing declassification delays that can take years to resolve. When a classified document contains secrets from multiple agencies, each agency must review its part, a process that can add years to the declassification process.

In 2000, Clinton gave agencies a three-year extension to complete a review of multiple-agency classified records. When it became clear that the deadline wouldn't be met, Bush in 2003 gave federal agencies a six-year extension.

Declassification spending was cut from an average of $224 million annually in the last four years of the Clinton administration to only $47 million a year during the last four years of the Bush administration.

Today, the problem is not much closer to being solved than it was in the 1990s. Under the terms of Bush's extension, sensitive information in hundreds of millions of pages of historical documents will declassified automatically on Dec. 31 unless Obama acts.

"If the agencies haven't found the sensitive old documents after nine years, that's some indication those records don't deserve being secret anymore," said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive.

Obama's order probably will centralize the review process for old records, having all agencies look at the same classified documents at the same time through the new National Declassification Center. Michael Kurtz, who has been with the National Archives for the past 35 years, has been chosen as the center's acting director.

Much of the work of a National Declassification Center probably would be conducted at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland, where many of the documents are housed and many of the agency declassifiers already spend a great deal of time.

Critics say Obama should do more than the upcoming executive order is likely to. They note that Clinton ordered a "bulk declassification" of millions of records from World War II and before; they want Obama to do the same with Cold War-era records.

The premise of bulk declassification is that "we're not going to spend taxpayer dollars to go through these records one by one," said William Leonard, Bosanko's predecessor as Information Security Oversight Office director.

And the planned National Declassification Center, said Leonard, should have authority to decide the status of millions of classified records on its own.

"We shouldn't need multiple opinions from multiple agencies," said Leonard.

But intelligence agencies have resisted surrendering their authority over secrets to an interagency group.

Happy Hollidays

Members of the U.S. Congress and state Governors send their holiday greetings and well wishes to servicemembers deployed overseas.