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Military update: Crackdown begins on 'personality disorder'
separations
By Tom Philpott,
Special to Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition,
November 14, 2008
Under pressure from Congress and following the Army's lead, the
Department of Defense has imposed a more rigorous screening process on
the services for separating troubled members due to "personality
disorder." The intent is to ensure that, in the future, no members who
suffer from wartime stress get tagged with having a pre-existing
personality disorder which leaves them ineligible for service disability
compensation.
Since the attacks of 9/11, more than 22,600 service members have been
discharged for personality disorder.  Nearly 3400 of them, or 15
percent, had served in combat or imminent danger zones.Advocates for
these veterans contend that at least some of them were suffering from
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury but it
was easier and less costly to separate them for personality disorder.
By definition, personality disorders existed before a member entered
service so they do not deemed a service-related disability rating.  A
disability rating of 30 percent or higher, which most PTSD sufferers
receive, can mean lifelong access to military health care and on-base
shopping.
Over the last 18 months, lawmakers and advocates for veterans have
criticized Defense and service officials for relying too often on
personality disorder separations to release member who deployed to Iraq,
Afghanistan or other another areas of tension in the Global War on
Terrorism.
A revised DoD instruction (No. 1332.14), which took effect without
public announcement August 28, responds to that criticism.  It only
allows separation for personality disorder for members currently or
formerly deployed to an imminent danger areas if:
1) the diagnosis by a psychiatrist or a PhD-level psychologist is
corroborated by a peer or higher-level mental health professional,
2) if the diagnosis is endorsed by the surgeon general of the service,
and
3) if the diagnosis too into account a possible tie or "co-morbidity"
with symptoms of PTSD or war-related mental injury or illness.Sam
Retherford, director of officer and enlisted personnel management in the
Office of the Secretary of Defense, said adding "rigor and discipline"
to the process when separating deployed members for personality disorder
is "very important," considering what is at stake for the member.
Last year several congressional hearings focused on overuse of
personality disorder separation after The Nation magazine exposed
apparent abuses in a March 2007 article.  It described the experience of
Army Specialist Jon Town.  In October 2004, while Town stood in the
doorway of his battalion's headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq, an enemy rocket
exploded into the wall above his head, knocking him unconscious.
When he came to, Town was numb all over, bleeding from his ears,  and
had shrapnel wounds in his neck.  For two years he struggled with
deafness, loss of memory and depression before the Army, in September
2006, separated Town after seven years' service.  He was separated for a
pre-existing personality disorder and without disability benefits.
Writer Joshua Kors suggested there might be thousands of veterans like
Town, separated administratively to save the services billions of
dollars in benefits.Last year, moved by this story and others, the
Senate adopted an amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization
bill from now president-elect Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.)
and Joseph Liberman (ID-Conn.).
It directed Defense officials to report on service use of personality
disorder separations, and the Government Accountability Office to study
how well the services follow DoD own rules for processing such
separations.The Army meanwhile reviewed its own use of personality
disorder separations for more than 800 soldiers who had wartime
deployments.
That review quickly found some "appalling" lapses, said an official,
including incomplete files and missing counseling statements.  A few
months ago the Army tightened its own rules for using personality
disorder separations.In June, the Defense Department reported to
Congress that it would add "rigor" to its personality disorder
separation policy, previewing the changes implemented in late August.
The Navy strongly had opposed the changes because it frequently uses
personality disorder separations to remove sailors found too immature or
undisciplined to cope with life at sea.Requiring their surgeon general
to review every personality disorder separation from ships deployed in
combat theaters would be too burdensome, the Navy argued.
But Defense officials insisted on the changes.The DoD report in June
showed the Navy led all services in personality disorder separations.
For fiscal years 2002 through 2007, the Navy total was 7554 versus 5923
for the Air Force, 5652 for the Army and 3527 for the Marine Corps.  The
Army led in personality disorder separations to members who had wartime
deployments, with a total of 1480 over six years.
The Navy total was 1155, the Marine Corps 455 and the Air Force 282.
DoD said it found "no indication" that personality disorder diagnoses of
deployed members "were prone to systematic or widespread error."  Nor
did internal studies show "a strong correlation" between personality
disorder separations and PTSD, brain injury or other mental disorders."
Still, the Department shares Congress' concern regarding the possible
use of personality disorder as the basis for administratively separating
this class of service member," the report said.  In late October, GAO
released its findings based on a review of service jackets for 312
members separated for personality disorder from four military
installations.
It said the services were not reliably compliant even with the
pre-August regulation governing separations.  For example, only 40 to 78
percent of enlisted member separated for personality disorder had
documents in their files showing that a psychiatrist or qualified
psychologist determined that their disorder affected their ability to
function in service.
o comment, e-mail milupdate@aol.com, write to Military Update, P.O. Box
231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111 or visit:
<http://www.militaryupdate.com/> .

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Marine Band Begins New Season
In celebration of its 210th anniversary, the Marine Band recently began its 2008 Showcase Series, which focuses on several special Living History concerts. With unique repertoire, numerous guest artists, period instruments and uniforms, and galleries of artifacts and images, each concert will represent a journey back in time in American history to experience the evolution of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band. All concerts are free and no tickets are required unless indicated otherwise. For additional information and program selections during this season, visit "The President's Own" United States Marine Band website at http://www.marineband.usmc.mil/ or call the concert information line at (202) 433-4011.
Source: Veterans Report, 21 January 2008, www.military.com

Concussion Raises PTSD Risk for Iraq Vets
<http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_60602.html>
Ken Riskedahl
Tupelo, Mississippi
======================================================================
Concussion Raises PTSD Risk for Iraq Vets
Study found loss of consciousness increased chances of trauma the most

HealthDay
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that soldiers
who have suffered concussions during their time in Iraq are more likely
to experience post-traumatic stress disorder and other physical health
problems.
"There was indeed a higher rate of PTSD and/or health problems among
those who had concussions versus those with other injuries," said study
author Dr. Christopher Hoge, director of psychiatry and neuroscience at
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in Washington, D.C. His study is
published in the Jan. 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"This is probably one of a very few studies which has begun to enumerate
the incidence of mild traumatic brain injury [i.e. concussion] in
returning veterans," said David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury
Research Center at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, in Los Angeles.
According to background information in the study, more than 1.5 million
U.S. military personnel have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since
2001. Thanks to better protective gear, many of these men and women are
surviving injuries that before would have killed them.
Head and neck injuries have been reported in one quarter of troops
evacuated from these areas. The proportion of soldiers with concussion
may be as high as 18 percent.
Hoge and his colleagues surveyed 2,525 U.S. Army infantry soldiers three
to four months after they had returned home a yearlong deployment in
Iraq. Soldiers reporting concussion (defined as an injury with loss of
consciousness or altered mental status such as being dazed or confused)
were compared with soldiers reporting other injuries. The soldiers were
from two brigades only.
Almost 44 percent of soldiers reporting an injury involving loss of
consciousness met the criteria for PTSD versus only 27.3 percent of
those reporting an injury involving altered mental status, 16.2 percent
of those with other injuries and 9.1 percent of those with no injury.
Soldiers who had suffered concussion, and especially those who had
suffered concussion with loss of consciousness, were significantly more
likely to report poor general health, missed workdays, visits to
health-care providers and sleep problems.
After adjustments, PTSD and depression appeared to be the primary
problem. This makes a certain amount of sense as concussion often occurs
in the context of a traumatic event involving psychological stress,
pointed out an accompanying commentary.
"This has implications for treatment, because obviously there's a big
difference in how we treat someone if they're labeled as brain-injured
versus identifying that they, in fact, have PTSD," Hoge said.
It's also critical that soldiers be properly evaluated in the combat
theater at the time of injury, Hoge added.
The findings should help raise awareness for a generally
underappreciated condition, Hovda said. "There's no face for that
injury, so it really is a silent epidemic," he said. "And these military
individuals are extremely dedicated and want to get back to service so
they [may be playing down their injuries]."
A second study in the same issue of the journal confirmed that violence
has been a major cause of death for Iraqis, and the main cause of death
for Iraqi men aged 15 to 59 during the first three years following the
2003 invasion.
This is lower than previous estimates, said the authors, from Children's
Hospital Boston, but still constitutes a huge death toll.
HealthDay
Copyright (c) 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Military Strategy for the War On Terrorism
a .pdf file

click here to download file

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Military to resume mandatory anthrax inoculations
posted by:  Jeffrey Wolf  Web Producer
reported by: 
Chris Vanderveen  9NEWS Reporter
http://www.9news.com/acm_news.aspx?OSGNAME=KUSA&IKOBJECTID=e88897d7-0abe-421a-017e-ab175ba6e5b8&TEMPLATEID=0c76dce6-ac1f-02d8-0047-c589c01ca7bf
Created: 10/16/2006 8:28 PM MST - Updated: 10/16/2006 10:27 PM MST
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon said Monday it will once again begin requiring anthrax vaccinations for troops heading into dangerous regions.

That means reinstating a program that has been challenged repeatedly over possible health risks.

Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said the vaccinations will begin in 30 to 60 days, and will involve troops and civilian Defense Department personnel and contractors who are serving in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Korean Peninsula.

"This is a safe and effective vaccine," Winkenwerder said in a conference call with reporters. He said the move to reinstate the vaccine does not suggest there is any new or elevated threat but the possibility of an anthrax attack is "very real and it has not gone away."

Opponents of the program promised a fresh challenge. Mark S. Zaid, one of the lawyers who previously sued to stop the mandatory program, said he would file a new lawsuit "as soon as needles start going into arms." Other groups who have opposed the program also criticized the new requirements.

"This is a vaccine that is unproven, unnecessary and has the potential to jeopardize the health of a service member where little benefit will be derived," Zaid said. "It's always been a public relations program and nothing more."

He questioned why the Pentagon is inoculating troops in the Middle East when the 2001 anthrax attacks that left five people dead and sickened 17 took place in the United States.

Some people in Colorado are also upset over the decision to make the shot mandatory again.

Denise Nichols got the shot because she was in Iraq in 1991.

"When we were at war and they said, there's the possibility of exposure, I trusted my government at the time," she said.

She says she is very upset the shot is once again mandatory. "It's dereliction of duty on the part of our commanders, our current commanders, our medical commanders, to do this," she said.

Winkenwerder said the vaccine has been thoroughly reviewed by the federal Food and Drug Administration and several independent groups and deemed safe.

He said anyone who refused the vaccine would be reminded of its importance and safety. Then, if needed, their supervisor would get involved and the matter would be resolved "like any other refusal to follow a lawful order."

He said that while significant numbers of troops refused the vaccine in 1998-99, very few have objected to taking it since then. About 10 people were discharged for refusing the vaccine in 2004, but he said he did not know how many may have refused and gotten other punishments. He was unsure what would happen if a civilian employee or contractor refused the vaccine.

Local microbiologist Michael Vasil says anthrax is still a major threat.

"It's easy to transport, easy to hide and it's easy to manufacture in large amounts," said Vasil.

The drug has been at the center of a multiyear lawsuit that began when six members of the military challenged the mandatory vaccination program.

Since 1998, at least 1.2 million troops have been vaccinated against anthrax in six-shot regimens. Hundreds of service members had been punished or discharged for refusing them until U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in December 2004 suspended the vaccinations after he found fault in the FDA's process for approving the drug.

Several months later Sullivan said the Pentagon could resume vaccinations on a voluntary basis. Then, last December the FDA affirmed its earlier finding that the vaccine was safe and effective.

According to Winkenwerder, there is enough vaccine to inoculate the several hundred thousand troops that will be deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous locations.

Pentagon officials are also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if at least one of the six initial shots can be eliminated. The vaccine also requires an annual booster shot.

Other groups questioned the vaccine's safety.

"The (Defense Department) has a moral duty to fully disclose anthrax vaccine risks, as well as benefits, to soldiers and allow them to make an informed, voluntary vaccination decision," said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The battle over anthrax inoculations for the military continues. The Bush administration is asking a federal appeals court to reinstate mandatory inoculations for many military personnel.

Those vaccinations were suspended after a federal judge found problems with the way the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for soldiers who refused the shots says the vaccine was never intended for the purpose the Pentagon is using it. Labels for the vaccine say it's for individuals with a high risk of exposure to anthrax, such as veterinarians and certain industrial workers.

Over one million troops have been vaccinated against anthrax in six-shot regimens since 1998. Hundreds of service members have been punished or discharged for refusing them.

_______________________________________________________

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Forced Anthrax Vaccinations for Our Troops: Another
Instance of Government Abuse

http://www.firebasenetwork.net/

By: John Waltz

johnwaltz76@yahoo.com

Special Assignment Writer

Firebase Network

Dec 15, 2006

Recently the Department of Defense has started forcing
the members of the Armed Forces to get Anthrax
vaccinations after the FDA deemed it as safe. If they
do not take the vaccinations they are subject to
punishment from their chain of command that has led
all the way up to dishonorable discharges for many. In
a time when morale is vital the government still wants
to use our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines as
guinea pigs. The sad part is there is a little known
law which is: TITLE 10 Subtitle A PART II CHAPTER 55
1107 which protects them from being forced into taking
the vaccine but of course no one is going to educate
them.

To summarize this law it clearly states that:

(a) before administering an investigational drug to
members of the Armed Forces, the Department of Defense
(DoD) must obtain informed consent from each
individual unless the Secretary can justify to the
President a need for a waiver of informed consent in
accordance with 10 U.S.C. 1107 (f). Waivers of
informed consent will be granted only when absolutely
necessary.

(b) In accordance with 10 U.S.C. 1107 (f), the
President may waive the informed consent requirement
for the administration of an investigational drug to a
member of the Armed Forces in connection with the
member's participation in a particular military
operation, upon a written determination by the
President that obtaining consent:

(1) is not feasible;

(2) is contrary to the best interests of the member;
or

(3) is not in the interests of national security.

This vaccination has not been clearly proven safe by
an independent medical research facility rather it has
been cleared by the government agency FDA. It would
seem that it is plain as day that the FDA is the
president's puppet and will pull its strings in any
direction that pleases the government. There have been
many side effects that are associated with this and
also diseases it has caused.

The side effects are many but to name the most serious
they are: confusion, kidney failure, fibroid tumors in
the uterus, immune system deficiencies, brain lesions,
loss of organ function, and suicide attempts. Along
with this there also have been many diagnosed diseases
that have been caused by the vaccination which include
but not limited to: aplastic anemia, blindness,
cardiac arrest, various cancers, Gulf War Illness and
Lou Gherig's disease. I am sure that if the American
public were put into a soldier's shoes and were told
they had to take this shot they would refuse it also.
Unfortunately the DoD will ignore this and go against
the very foundations our country was built around.

The founders of this great country had ensured that in
the constitution it clearly stated that our new
nation's military would be controlled by civilian
control. This confidence was built on the government
leadership's assurance to give unprejudiced evaluation
of threats, weaponry and force protection. Then what
happens if the government bullies these civilian
leaders into believing inaccurate assessment of the
anthrax vaccine? The government ends up granting an
immunization program that clearly is harmful to our
service members and in turn their trust is betrayed.

On December 13, 2006 service members invoked the law
and are suing the government to stop this atrocity
before many more are harmed by this vaccination. The
attorney that has taken the case for them is Attorney
Mike Zaid who has said in court documents that the
FDA's findings are not scientifically sound and that
the program should be strictly voluntary not
mandatory. Attorney Zaid is quoted saying that, "About
10 people were discharged for refusing the vaccine in
2004, but I do not know how many may have refused and
gotten other punishments." He was unsure what would
happen if a civilian employee or contractor refused
the vaccine.

As we can clearly see this is another example of the
government abusing their powers and in effect are
putting our service member's lives and health in
serious jeopardy. Hopefully the American public can
become more aware of this along with the service
members so that this immunization program is halted
before it is too late. We have to speak up and as
always let our voices be heard.

The Firebase is interested in your thoughts, send
comments to
firebaseadrian@tc3net.com

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Lessons of the AK-47

Larry Kahaner is the author of the just-published AK-47: The Weapon That Changed the Face of War. This is his first post for Defense Tech.

In our quest for the latest and most sophisticated weaponry we sometimes tend to overlook a major success in low-tech arms. But there's a lot we can learn from them especially the AK-47 assault rifle.

The AK-47 is the world's most popular military weapon. At last count, there may be as many as 100 million of these uncomplicated but deadly rifles in use. That's one AK for every 60 people. It is used by about 50 legitimate armies as well as terrorists Osama Bin Laden calls it the terrorist's most important weapon insurgents, drug cartels, paramilitary groups and guerrillas.

The rifle, first produced in 1947 hence the name AK-47 for Automatic Kalashnikov 1947 has undergone very few changes since it was first produced by Soviet soldier Mikhail Kalashnikov. The furniture has been replaced with low weight plastics, and a few other mods here and there depending upon which of the 19 countries produced it, but it is essentially the same weapon it was 60 years ago.

What accounts for its success? Quite simply: it works. Despite its low price (as little as $10 and as much as $300) and often shoddy workmanship, this rifle rarely jams, is almost indestructible, and is easy to fire with no training. Overnight, it can transform paramilitary forces, thugs and street gangs into formidable armies.

It is not very accurate but can fire about 700 rounds per minute. Many western military experts consider it a piece of junk, but it's perfect for poorly-trained soldiers because they can 'spray and pray.' And indeed, it is a piece of junk compared to the M-16A2 now used in Iraq or the shorter barreled version M-4. These rifles are well built, accurate and engineered to close tolerances. They are technological things of beauty. The AK, on the other hand has loose tolerances, feels like it will shake apart (but doesn't) and won't make any friends at the marksmen club. These loose tolerances are the open secret to the AK's almost jam-free history. It's also why you can drag it through mud, leave it buried in the sand and take it out a year later, kick it with your boot, and it will fire like it was cleaned that morning. Again, because of its imprecision, the AK can fire poorly produced ammunition as well as ammo that has been sitting and deteriorating in the jungle or desert.

When the Defense Department offered M-16s to the Iraqi police and army, they refused. They wanted AKs which had to be bought from Jordan (the weapons actually were made in Germany). Indeed, like their brethren in Vietnam, many US soldiers are using AKs in Iraq despite official sanctions against the practice.

As the Pentagon planers ponder what's next for infantry firearms, they need to think in terms of simple instead of complex and practical instead of sophisticated. There's no reason why soldiers should be using M-4s that overheat or place condoms over their gun barrels to keep out the desert sands.

The solution has not come for lack of trying. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, the Army was developing a new assault rifle known as the XM8 project an outgrowth of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program, which was to produce a new type of battle rifle. The main goal of the XM8 program was to find a replacement for the M-16 and M4.

However, by late 2005, the XM8 was scrapped partially because of politics; Congress was reluctant to spend billions to outfit soldiers with new rifles while the Iraq war was draining the treasury.

The real problem may be that as the program progressed, military planners kept adding bells and whistles to the rifle system -- even including an electronic bullet counter -- and it became too complex, heavy and unwieldy. Designers would have done better to simply aim for a new infantry rifle that works as well as the AK-47 and be just as simple.

The AK may not be the best rifle for the US but designers can learn from Kalashnikov's experience in building the AK-47. He often found himself guided by the words of arms designer Georgy Shpagin, who developed the successful PPSh41 submachine gun: "Complexity is easy; simplicity is difficult."

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For Immediate Release: December 7, 2006

2006 The Military Family Network


The Military Family Network
100 Bridge Street
Suite D 2nd Floor
Hampton Virginia 23669

Email: connections@emilitary.org
Web: http://www.emilitary.org/

Phone: 866-205-2850
Fax: 757-722-9689

We welcome and appreciate forwarding of our news in its entirety or in part with proper attribution.

FAST FACTS ABOUT MFN

Millions of military service members and families use MFN to connect with each year to connect with their communities, businesses and support organizations.

The network works with all services, governments, businesses and the military community to ensure that families have the best access to services and information they need most- on a grassroots level.

In the last two years, The MFN Community Connections Program has facilitated over 5 million dollars worth of grant monies and services to national and local non-profit initiatives supporting the military community.- Including over 1.2 million dollars to USACares.

MFN works with all fifty states to ensure that service members and families are aware of state benefits and programs.

Your Military Family Network is an upcoming resource to be published in the Spring of 2007 that will be the first comprehensive guide to military programs, support information and services from both the military and civilian environment.

MFN is a certifying organization with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award Program managed by the Points of Light foundation. Volunteers and groups working in support of military families and are a part of the Community Connection program have the ability to earn Presidential recognition through MFN.

MFN is a member of the Department of Defense America Supports You Program and was the very first recognized member of the week.

Get connected now- volunteer today- sign on to www.eMilitary.org/cchome.html!

 

 

The Military Family Network and CarePages Team up to Keep communities and military service members, friends and family close

Hampton, VA- December 7, 2006 (emilitary.org)--- The Military Family Network has teamed with TLContact to provide free, secure CarePages to military service members, their families and community groups supporting them.

"This partnership is another way that The Military Family Network connects communites with military families. We are unique in that our network continues to build and provide services that offer a state of the art secure, environment where service members, families and America's communities can communicate," said Caroline Peabody, President of The Military Family Network.

The Military Family Network recognizes that service members and their families have an extended family in their community. With The Military Family Network CarePage environment, they can operate a personalized secured environmentt where they can invite supportive groups (like their church or non-military loved ones and friends) into their MFN CarePage. Anyone who is important to the military service member or individual who creates the CarePage may be invited.

"We have had a lot of excitement among girlfriends, friends and the general community who want to be able to set-up a page and have the ability to stay connected and provide easy updates to members of their CarePage," Peabody continued.

This is especially important for wounded and tranistioning soldiers as the CarePage environment can also be a means for the military and support providers to keep updated on how things are going with the service member.

"CarePages and the Military Family Network have partnered to offer the service free to Military Family Network members to help keep loved ones up-to-date and maintain a central place of support and communication when a service member is deployed or wounded," said Erin McDaniel, TLContact spokesperson.

"CarePages send real-time alerts about a community group, spouse or service member, connect consumers with the providing organization for useful information, and help families share information, encouragement and find peace of mind when facing a loved one's military deployment or, if wounded, their hospitalization and recovery," she continued.

It also has the advantage of being FAST- FUN and FREE. Get started with your Military Family Network CarePage today!

FAST FACTS ABOUT CAREPAGES

For Organizations- Get Started

       Keeps your members instantly updated and in touch with your mission and accomplishments.

       Helps the Media find out more about your organization

       Helps your donors see the impact they are having in the lives of military families

       Helps those you support have a chance to tell the world about you

For Individuals... Get Started

       CarePages are private, fully secure personalized Web pages provided to you as a free service through The Military Family Network (www.emilitary.org).

       When a loved one is deployed or wounded it can be difficult to stay in touch, keep others informed or to maintain a central place of support and communication. MFN Carepages are an excellent way to keep your loved ones AND your community up-to-date!

       Share your MFN CarePage today with your family, your friends and the community organizations of your choice, like your church and your family support group.

My MFN CarePage can:

       Tell everyone how my service member is doing while giving others the chance to send their messages of encouragement, hope, strength and support directly through my family's personal shared message board.

       Update my loved ones and community members at the same time. My MFN CarePage keeps everyone in the loop while spending less time on the phone. Friends and family call less often since they're automatically e-mailed when new updates are posted.

       Control the flow of information. Share news and photos (up to 52!) at a time that's right for me. Password protected with settings where I control access and content.

       Keep my family in touch before, during, and after deployment. MFN CarePages don't have an expiration date. Your CarePage works for you as long as you want it to.

       Prepare and coordinate my servicemember's homecoming with family members and community.

For Individuals... Get Started

 

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2.2% Pay Raise Effective January 2007
American Forces Press Service | Jim Garamone | October 25, 2006

WASHINGTON – With the 2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise that is part of the Fiscal 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department will reach its goal to bring military basic pay to the 70th percentile when compared to civilians with comparable education and training, a top DoD compensation official said.

The goal grew out of the 9th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation released in 2002, which concluded that basic pay did not adequately compensate an increasingly educated military force.

Virginia Penrod, DoD’s director of military compensation, said the 2.2 percent across-the-board pay raise – which kicks in Jan. 1, matches the employment cost index for the year. ECI measures the growth in private-sector wages. Current law ties any military pay raise to the index.

Also helping DoD reach its goal, she said, is targeted pay raises for servicemembers in grades E-5 to E-7 and warrant officers that go into effect April 1.

But compensation is more than simply basic pay. While servicemembers have seen a basic pay increase since 2001 of roughly 28 percent, basic allowance for housing has risen over 50 percent, Penrod said. “As far as compensation (is concerned), we think we have it right,” she said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

When officials talk about compensation, they include basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, basic pay and the tax advantage for not having allowances taxed.

DoD has more than 20 different types of bonuses, and the act enables the department to pay these bonuses through the fiscal year. It also puts some changes into effect for those bonuses.

For example, the act has increased the amount of the bonus paid to servicemembers who transfer between armed forces. An airman transferring to the Army is now eligible to receive a $10,000 bonus after serving three years in the new service. Previously, Congress capped that bonus at $2,500. Penrod said that bonus will be used to get sailors and airmen to sign up for the Army.

The act also raises the ceiling of debt DoD is allowed to cancel. “Soldiers serving in Iraq, for example, receive hostile fire pay, family separation pay and hardship pay,” Penrod said. “If the servicemember is injured and medevacced to Germany, sometimes mistakes happen and the pays are not cancelled. The soldier now has a debt.”

If later, as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service is processing the servicemember for medical separation or retirement, that debt shows up, she explained, officials can now waive up to $10,000 of debt incurred through no fault of the servicemember.

The act also extends the military pay table to 40 years. This is part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s military transformation effort. Senior officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers are a valuable trained resource to the department, Penrod said, and this gives selected servicemembers an incentive to remain in the military longer. The pay table has regular longevity increases from 30 to 40 years of service, and a servicemember retiring after 40 years of service would receive 100 percent of basic pay.

Penrod said the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation – meeting now – will look at ways to simplify DoD pays. “We have over 60 special incentive pays, and it’s difficult to keep up with,” she said. “We hope to simplify our pays and put them in basically five categories; it would make it easier to manage the pays.”

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Iraq

both: rk, rk, officially Republic of Iraq, republic (2005 est. pop. 26,075,000), 167,924 sq mi (434,924 sq km), SW Asia. Iraq is bordered on the south by Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, and Saudi Arabia; on the west by Jordan and Syria; on the north by Turkey; and on the east by Iran. Iraq formerly shared a neutral zone with Saudi Arabia that is now divided between the two countries. Baghdad is the capital and largest city. The country is divided into 18 provinces.

Land and People

Iraq's only outlet to the sea is a short stretch of coast on the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf, including the Shatt al Arab waterway. Basra and Umm Qasr are the main ports. Iraq is approximately coextensive with ancient Mesopotamia. The southwest, part of the Syrian Desert, supports a small population of nomadic shepherds. In the rest of the country, life centers on the great southeast-flowing rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which come together in the Shatt al Arab at the head of the Persian Gulf. The marshy delta was largely drained in the early 1990s as part of a government program to control the Marsh Arabs, who had participated in the Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein; marsh restoration efforts began in 2003. Between the two rivers are numerous wadis and water basins.

Very little rainfall occurs in Iraq except in the northeast, and agriculture mainly depends upon river water. The sandy soil and steady heat of the southeast enable a large date crop and much cotton to be produced. The rivers cause destructive floods, though they occur less often as a result of flood-control projects undertaken since the 1950s. Farther upstream, as the elevation increases, rainfall becomes sufficient to grow diversified crops, including grains and vegetables. In the mountainous north the economy shifts from agriculture to oil production, notably in the great fields near Mosul and Kirkuk.

Nearly 80% of the population of Iraq is Arabic-speaking, while over 95% is Muslim (Sunni and Shiite) in religion. There are about twice as many Shiites as Sunnis, the latter sect being more numerous throughout the majority of Arab countries. The hilly uplands of NE Iraq are primarily inhabited by Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims; other large minorities of Iraq include Turkomans (Turks), Armenians, and Assyrians (Nestorian Christians). Most of the country's once large Jewish population emigrated to Israel in the early 1950s.

Economy

The oil industry dominates Iraq's economy, traditionally accounting for nearly 95% of the country's revenues. Oil is produced mainly by the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was owned by an international group of investors until it was nationalized in 1972. The oil is piped to Turkey, Tripoli (Lebanon), Baniyas (Syria), and the Persian Gulf. Oil exports, which had suffered during the Iran-Iraq War, improved during the late 1980s, only to be severely decreased by embargoes related to the Persian Gulf War. In 1996, a UN agreement allowed Iraq to export oil for the first time since 1990; by the 2002, oil production was about 70% of what it was in the 1970s. Following the U.S. invasion in 2003, oil production slowly returned to about 80% to 95% of what it had been in 2002.

Aside from petroleum production and refining, Iraq has a small, diversified industrial sector, including the production of chemicals, textiles, cement, food products, construction materials, leather goods, and machinery. New industries have been started in electronics products, fertilizers, and refined sugar. Agricultural production, which employs about a third of the workforce, is not sufficient to meet the country's food requirements. Iraq's chief crops include wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates (Iraq is one of the world's largest producers), and cotton. Cattle and sheep are also raised.

Iraq has been highly dependent on foreign economic aid in recent years, from both Western and Arab countries. The country also has a severe labor shortage. The Baghdad Railway, long an important means of communication, is declining in importance in favor of travel by road and air. There are international airports at Baghdad and Basra, and a state-owned airline operates within Iraq and abroad.

History

Early History through British Influence

Iraq is a veritable treasure house of antiquities, and recent archaeological excavations have greatly expanded the knowledge of ancient history. Prior to the Arab conquest in the 7th cent. AD, Iraq had been the site of a number of flourishing civilizations, including the Sumer, which developed one of the earliest known writing systems, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria. The capital of the Abbasid caliphate was established at Baghdad in the 8th cent. and the city became a famous center for learning and the arts.

Despite fierce resistance, Mesopotamia fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th cent. and passed under direct Ottoman administration in the 19th cent. (see Ottoman Empire, when it came to constitute the three Turkish provinces of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. At this time the area became of great interest to the European powers, especially the Germans, who wanted to extend the Berlin-Baghdad railroad all the way to the port of Kuwait.

In World War I the British invaded Iraq in their war against the Ottoman Empire; Britain declared then that it intended to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs. Nationalist elements, impatient over delay in gaining independence, revolted in 1920 but were suppressed by the British. Late that year the Treaty of Svres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 the country was made a kingdom headed by Faisal I. With strong reluctance an elected Iraqi assembly agreed in 1924 to a treaty with Great Britain providing for the maintenance of British military bases and for a British right of veto over legislation. By 1926 an Iraqi parliament and administration were governing the country. The treaty of 1930 provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain. The British mandate was terminated in 1932, and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.

In 1933 the small Christian Assyrian community revolted, culminating in a governmental military crackdown and loss of life and setting a precedent for internal minority uprisings in Iraq. Meanwhile, the first oil concession had been granted in 1925, and in 1934 the export of oil began. Domestic politics were turbulent, with many factions contending for power. Late in 1936, the country experienced the first of seven military coups that were to take place in the next five years.

In Apr., 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, leader of an anti-British and pro-Axis military group, seized power and ousted Emir Abd al-Ilah, the pro-British regent for the child king, Faisal II (who had succeeded his father, Ghazi, ruler from Faisal I's death in 1933 to his own death in 1939). The British reinforced their garrisons by landing troops at Basra, and in May, al-Gaylani, with some German and Italian support, opened hostilities. He was utterly defeated by June, and Emir Abd al-Ilah was recalled. On Jan. 16, 1943, Iraq declared war on the Axis countries. Anti-British sentiment was reasserted after the war, and in 1948 a British-sponsored modification of the treaty of 1930 was defeated by the Iraqi parliament because of animosity arising over the Palestine problem.

Iraq at Mid-Century

Iraq, with other members of the Arab League, participated in 1948 in the unsuccessful war against Israel. Premier Nuri al-Said dissolved all political parties in 1954, and a new parliament was elected. A national development program, financed mostly by oil royalties, was undertaken; the United States extended technical aid, and after 1956, military assistance. In external affairs, Iraq continued adamant opposition to Israel and pledged loyalty to the Arab League. The USSR's support of Kurdish nationalism caused a break in relations in 1955. Later that year Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and Britain formed the Baghdad Pact. In Feb., 1958, following announcement of the merger of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic, Iraq and Jordan announced the federation of their countries into the Arab Union.

In a swift coup on July 14, 1958, the army led by Gen. Abd al-Karim Kassem seized control of Baghdad and proclaimed a republic, with Islam declared the national religion. King Faisal, Crown Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Said were killed, and the Arab Union was dissolved. Iraq's activity in the Baghdad Pact ceased, and the country formally withdrew in 1959. Diplomatic relations were restored with the USSR, but Iraq pursued a policy of nonalignment in the cold war. Relations with neighbors became antagonistic when Iraq claimed sovereignty over Kuwait and over Iranian territory along the Shatt al Arab. In 1962 the chronic Kurdish problem flared up when tribes led by Mustafa al-Barzani revolted, demanded an autonomous Kurdistan, and gained control of much of N Iraq; fighting continued throughout the 1960s and 70s.

Coups and Conflicts

In Feb., 1963, Col. Abd al-Salam Aref led a coup that overthrew the Kassem regime. The new regime was dominated by members of the Iraqi Ba'ath party, a socialist group whose overall goal was Arab unity. In Nov., 1963, however, the party's members in the governing council were expelled by an army coup engineered by President Aref. In 1966, the president and two cabinet members died in a helicopter crash. Aref's brother, Gen. Abd al-Rahman Aref, assumed office; he was overthrown by a bloodless coup in 1968. Maj. Gen. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr of the Ba'ath party became president and began a purge of opponents. Espionage trials in 1969 led to the execution of more than 50 persons.

Relations with Syria soured in 1970 when a younger generation of Ba'ath party members took control there, creating a rivalry between Syrian and Iraqi Ba'athists. Relations with the USSR improved, however, and in 1972 a 15-year friendship treaty was signed. The Communist party in Iraq was also legalized. In 1973, another coup was foiled; the internal security chief was blamed, and he and 35 others were executed. Iraq took an active part in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War; it also participated in the oil boycott against nations supporting Israel. In early 1974, years of border conflicts with Iran culminated in heavy armed clashes along the entire length of their border. A year later some agreement between Iraq and Iran over the Shatt al Arab waterway was reached. At this time, Iraq's acquired wealth from its oil revenues enabled the establishment of modernization programs and improved public services throughout the country.

In 1975 the Kurds once again fought for their independence in N Iraq, but they suffered heavily when Iran withdrew support. Fighting led to the Iraqi bombing of Kurdish villages in parts of Iran, which again exacerbated tensions between the two countries. Opposition within Iraq grew among the Shiites, who were the majority of the population yet were excluded from political power. As the Islamic Revolution in neighboring Iran grew in the late 1970s, Iraqi leaders recognized its threat.

The Presidency of Saddam Hussein

In 1979, President Bakr resigned, and Saddam Hussein Takriti assumed control of the government. He immediately purged the Ba'ath party after an unsuccessful coup, killing leftist members. War between Iran and Iraq, primarily over the Shatt al Arab waterway, erupted full-scale in 1980 (see Iran-Iraq War). The eight-year war became a series of mutual attacks and stalemates, as both countries' oil production fell drastically, the death toll rose, and great mutual destruction was inflicted. Poison gas was reportedly used by both sides, and by Iraq on Kurdish villages as the Kurdish rebellion continued. Eventually, a cease-fire under the auspices of the United Nations led to the war's end in 1988. Iran and Iraq restored diplomatic relations in 1990.

Throughout 1989 and into 1990, Hussein's repressive policies and continued arms buildup caused international criticism, particularly in the United States, which had favored Iraq during the war with Iran. Hostility against Israel increased, particularly after Israel's bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. Hussein accused neighboring Kuwait in July, 1990, with flooding world oil markets, causing oil prices to decrease and threatening Iraq's attempts to boost its war-torn economy. On Aug. 2, 1990, some 120,000 Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait, and Hussein declared its annexation (see Persian Gulf War). Foreigners in Iraq and Kuwait were held hostage but released after a few months.

The United Nations established international trade sanctions against Iraq, but Hussein did not withdraw his troops. U.S.-led coalition forces began air attacks on Iraq on Jan. 16, 1991, which led to a ground invasion to retake Kuwait. During this time, Iraq launched Scud missiles against both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iraqi forces quickly succumbed to coalition troops and were forced out of Kuwait. While suffering heavy casualties, Iraq retained its elite Republican Guard, and Hussein remained in power. UN inspections imposed as part of the conditions for ending the war found evidence of chemical warheads and of a program to produce materials for nuclear weapons; Iraq destroyed some chemical weapons under UN supervision.

The war left huge amounts of wreckage in the country's major cities and ports and created hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees, who fled to Turkey, Iran, and Jordan. Iraq's major problems were feeding its population and rebuilding its war-torn country. These problems were aggravated by crippling trade sanctions. The Kurds again rose in revolt despite heavy-handed Iraqi military attacks, and in S Iraq, Shiites also lashed out against the government. In 1992 the Kurds established an autonomous region in N Iraq. Two rival factions, the Kurdistan Democratic party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, engaged in sporadic warfare during the 1990s; in 1999 the two groups agreed to end hostilities.

Confrontations with the United Nations and former coalition members, especially the United States, continued to flare. In 1993, after Hussein had repeatedly violated terms of the Persian Gulf War cease-fire, bombers from the United States and other coalition members twice struck Iraqi targets. In Oct., 1994, Iraq massed troops on the Kuwaiti border; the United States and other coalition members increased their forces in the area, and Iraq withdrew the troops.

In May, 1996, Iraq reached an accord with the United Nations allowing it to sell $1 billion worth of oil every 90 days, with the money set aside for food and medicine, compensation to Kuwaitis, and other purposes. The program was subsequently renewed (it ended only in Nov., 2003), and many restrictions on civilian trade were removed, but it also became a means (through the use of illicit surcharges) for funneling money to Hussein's government.

In Oct., 1997, the UN disarmament commission concluded that Iraq was continuing to hide information on biological arms and was withholding data on chemical weapons and missiles. U.S. weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq in Nov., 1997, and a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf ensued. As Iraq ceased cooperating with UN inspectors, the United States and Britain began a series of air raids against Iraqi military targets and oil refineries in Dec., 1998; raids against military targets continued until the 2003 war. In Jan., 1999, the United States admitted that American spies had worked undercover on the inspection teams while in Iraq, gathering intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs.

A new UN arms inspection plan that could have led to a suspension of the sanctions in place since the end of the war was devised by the Security Council in Dec., 1999, but Iraq rejected that plan and subsequent attempts to restore inspections. Efforts in 2001 to ease the sanctions on civilian trade further (in exchange for tighter controls on oil smuggling and a ban on weapons purchases) proved unsuccessful when Russia, which had close ties with Iraq, objected. Iraq continued to insist on an end to all sanctions, but in May, 2002, the UN Security Council agreed on revised sanctions that focused on military goods and goods with potential military applications, greatly expanding the range of consumer goods that could be readily imported into Iraq.

Suggestions by U.S. government officials that the war on terrorism might be expanded to include operations against Iraq as well as in Afghanistan were publicly rejected by Arab League nations in Mar., 2002, but increasing threats of a U.S. invasion to end what Americans asserted was Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction led Iraq to announce in September that UN inspectors could return. Iraqi slowness to agree on the terms under which inspections could take place and U.S. insistence on new, stricter conditions for Iraqi compliance stalled the inspectors' return.

In October, President Hussein won a referendum on a seven-year extension of his presidency, receiving 100% of the vote according to Iraqi officials. The same month the U.S. Congress approved the use of force against Iraq, and in November the Security Council passed a resolution offering Iraq a final opportunity to cooperate on arms inspections. A strict timetable was established for the return of the inspectors and resumption of inspections, and active Iraqi compliance was insisted on. The Iraqi parliament rejected the terms of the resolution, but inspectors were permitted to return, and inspections resumed in late November.

An official Iraqi declaration (December) that it had no weapons of mass destruction was generally regarded as incomplete and uninformative. By Jan., 2003, UN inspectors had found no evidence of forbidden weapons programs, but they also indicated that Iraq was not actively cooperating with their efforts to determine if previously known or suspected weapons had been destroyed and weapons programs had been ended. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain continued preparations for possible military action against Iraq.

Iraq after Saddam Hussein's Ouster

Continued U.S.-British insistence on complete Iraqi cooperation with the UN inspections, and continued Iraqi resistance to doing so, led the United States and Britain to demand (Mar., 2003) that Hussein step down or face an invasion. On Mar. 19, 2003, the Anglo-American attack began with an airstrike aimed at Hussein personally. Sizable ground forces began invading the following day, surging primarily toward Baghdad, the southern oil fields, and port facilities; a northern front was opened by Kurdish and Anglo-American forces late in March. After less than a month of fighting, Hussein's rule had collapsed, and U.S. and British forces were established in major urban areas.

Hussein survived the war and went into hiding, and guerrilla attacks by what were believed to be Ba'ath loyalists and Islamic militants became an ongoing problem in the following months, largely in Sunni-dominated central Iraq. The Kurdish-dominated north and Shiite-dominated south were generally calmer. L. Paul Bremer 3d was appointed as civilian head of the occupation. UN economic sanctions were lifted in May, 2003 (U.S. sanctions were not ended, however, until July, 2004), and in mid-July an interim Governing Council consisting of representatives of Iraqi opposition groups was established. Nonetheless, civil order and the economy were restored at a slow pace. The cost for rebuilding Iraq was estimated by Bremer in late 2003 to be as much as $100 billion over three years.

In Oct., 2003, the UN Security Council passed a British-American resolution calling for a timetable for self-rule in Iraq to be established by mid-December. Events, however, led the United States to speed up the process, and in November the Governing Council endorsed a U.S.-proposed plan that called for self-rule in mid-2004 under a transitional assembly, which would be elected by a system of caucuses. However, many Shiites objected to this because it would not involve elections; they feared a diminished voice in the government and greater U.S. influence if caucuses were used to choose the assembly. Hussein was finally captured by U.S. forces in Dec., 2003.

In Jan., 2004, U.S. arms inspectors reported that they had found no evidence of Iraqi chemical or biological weapons stockpiles prior to the U.S. invasion; the asserted existence of such stockpiles had been a main justification for the invasion. Subsequently, a Senate investigation criticized the CIA for providing faulty information and assessments concerning Iraq's weapons. In addition, U.S. inspectors concluded in Oct., 2004, that although Hussein never abandoned his goal of acquiring nuclear weapons, Iraq had halted its nuclear program after the first Persian Gulf War. U.S. quietly abandoned their search for weapons of mass destruction by the end of 2004.

An interim constitution was signed by the Governing Council in Mar., 2004, but many Shiites, including nearly all those on the council, objected to clauses that would restrict the power of the president and enable the Kurds potentially to veto a new constitution. At the end of March, Sunni insurgents in Falluja attacked a convoy of U.S. civilian security forces, killing four and desecrating the corpses, which prompted a U.S. crackdown on the town, a center of Sunni insurgency. The fighting there in April resulted in the most significant casualties since since the end of the invasion; the conflict ended with the insurgents largely in place. At about the same time, U.S. moves against the organization of a radical Shiite cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, led him to call for an uprising. There was unrest in a number of cities in S central and S Iraq, but by mid-April al-Sadr's forces were in control only in the area around An Najaf, a city holy to Shiites, and a cease-fire took effect in June.

Revelations in May of U.S. abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003 and early 2004 sparked widespread dismay and outrage in Iraq, the United States, and the world. The treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was termed tantamount to torture in some cases by the International Committee of the Red Cross in a report leaked in 2004, and in 2005 Amnesty International accused the U.S.-led forces of using torture in Iraq.

The president of the Governing Council was assassinated in May, 2004. In June, the United Nations endorsed the reestablishment of Iraqi sovereignty, and at the end of the month, Iyad Allawi, a Shiite, became prime minister and Sheik Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, a Sunni, president as the interim constitution took effect. Saddam Hussein and 11 other former high-ranking Iraqi officials were formally turned over to the new government and were arraigned.

Large-scale fighting with al-Sadr's militia occurred again in August, centered on An Najaf and, to a lesser degree, Sadr City, a Shiite section of Baghdad, but the militia subsequently abandoned An Najaf and fighting ceased. By October al-Sadr had shifted to converting his movement into a political force. Also in August, a 100-member National Council, responsible for overseeing the interim government and preparing for elections in 2005, was established. In central Iraq, where a number of Sunni urban areas had been all but ceded to insurgents, U.S. forces began operations to establish control in the fall of 2004. Although U.S. forces regained control of Falluja in November, the insurgents subsequently shifted their attacks elsewhere, including Mosul, which had been relatively peaceful. Shiite targets were also increasingly subject to attack. Estimates of the insurgents' numbers, including foreign guerrillas, ranged from 8,000 to 12,000; by the end of 2004 the most violent anti-U.S., anti–interim government fighters were Sunni forces, which were increasingly dominated by Islamic militants. The ongoing violence in Iraq continued to hamper reconstruction, as a lack of security hindered rebuilding and security needs diverted money away from rebuilding.

In the Jan., 2005, elections for the transitional National Assembly, which would write a new constitution, the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite coalition supported by Ayatollah Sistani, won nearly half the vote. The main Kurdish alliance took more than a quarter. Sunni participation in the vote was, in most areas, very low as a result of boycott and intimidation, leading some Sunni clerics to denounce the balloting as illegitimate. The main Shiite and Kurdish coalitions agreed to form an alliance, but it was not until early April that the choices for the top national leadership posts were finalized. A Sunni, Hajim al-Hassani, became speaker of the National Assembly; a Kurd, Jalal Talabani, became president; and a Shia, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was chosen as prime minister.

Hopes for the constitutional process strengthened in July when Sunni membership on the parliamentary committee drafting it was greatly expanded, but the draft that was adopted had only limited Sunni support. Many Sunnis particularly objected to provisions that would permit autonomous regions in the Kurdish north and Shiite south, which could limit national access to future oil revenues from those areas, and that would ban the Ba'ath party and could affect its former members. A referendum in Oct., 2005, however, approved the document. A simple majority was required for approval, unless three provinces rejected it by a two-thirds vote. The constitution was strongly endorsed by Shiites and Kurds and as strongly rejected by Sunnis, who voted in larger numbers this time. Three provinces voted against the constitution, but in one of the provinces the no vote was less than two thirds. Although there were concerns about possible irregularities in the vote after preliminary counts were completed, a partial audit of the vote uncovered no evidence of fraud.

Despite these mixed political successes, the insurgency remained largely undiminished, as foreign Islamic militants continued to infiltrate into Iraq. Ongoing U.S. attempts to eliminate insurgent strongholds were frustrated by the ability to the insurgents to regroup elsewhere and a lack of sufficient U.S. forces to maintain control throughout Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq. Prior to the referendum on the constitution coalition forces mounted several offensives against insurgents in Sunni-dominated W and NW Iraq in an attempt to diminish terror attacks prior to the vote.

In the Dec., 2005, elections for the National Assembly the Sunni turnout was again higher, but when initial results showed that the Shiite religious parties were unexpectedly successful in the Baghdad area, the Sunni alliance and the secular party alliance accused the Shiites and electoral authorities of fraud. Final results, released in Jan., 2006, gave a near majority of the seats to the Shiite religious parties, with the Kurdistan alliance and the Sunni alliance placing second and third. International monitors said there had been some irregularities and fraud, but they did not call into question the final overall result.

The formation of a government, however, became protracted, when Sunnis and Kurds objected to the Shiite religious parties' selection of Jaafari as prime minister. Finally, in Apr., 2006, Jaafari stepped aside, and Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a long-time aide of Jaafari's, was chosen for the post. Meanwhile, the devastating Feb., 2006, terror bombing of a Shiite holy site in Samarra provoked a spasm of sectarian attacks, largely by Shiites against Sunnis, throughout Iraq. Maliki undertook a number of measures intended to reassert government control and pacify some urban areas, and moved to foster an end to the Sunni insurgency and sectarian violence generally by releasing prisoners, offering a limited amnesty, seeking to disarm militias, and other measures. The killing, in June, of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda–aligned foreign insurgents, was a notable success for U.S. forces, but did little to diminish the violence in Iraq.

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/countries/iraq.html?nav=el

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Rumsfeld: No one anticipated insurgency's strength
POSTED: 7:37 p.m. EDT, September 28, 2006
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(CNN) -- Donald Rumsfeld's Iraqi war plan worked beautifully for three weeks. U.S. troops quickly deposed Saddam Hussein and captured Baghdad with a relatively small force and with lightning speed.

But with Iraq on the verge of civil war three years later, the secretary of defense now admits that no one was well-prepared for what would happen after major combat ended.

"Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is," Rumsfeld told CNN for the documentary, "CNN Presents Rumsfeld -- Man of War," which debuts Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

In a rare one-on-one television interview, Rumsfeld talked with CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the transformation of the U.S. military and his approach to management.

Rumsfeld's style and policies have rankled many, and several former top military officers have called for him to resign. One of those is the man who led the 1st Infantry Division in northwest Iraq in 2004. Former U.S. Army Maj. Gen John Batiste said he asked for more troops and was turned down.

"We're in a real fix right now [in Iraq]," Batiste told CNN. "We're there because Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ignored sound military advice, dismissed it all, went with his plan and his plan alone."

Batiste argued that had he been given more troops the military could have secured Iraq's border with Iran and secured the country's oil facilities. (Watch Batiste describe how Rumsfeld ignored military's advice -- 5:50)

Rumsfeld's plan was to win the war with low troop levels and superior technology, let democracy take root and then have the Iraqis secure the country. That strategy appeared to be working in Afghanistan, where 1,000 troops had ousted the Taliban with the help of the indigenous Northern Alliance.

Make your case
Several retired generals told CNN the 74-year-old secretary is inflexible, especially when he has staked out a position. However allies, including his top aide, disputed that assertion.

"He's tough. He's smart. He's fair. He's focused," Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. "But he's not the guy that most people think he is."(Watch Pace talk about an "incredible patriot" -- 4:22)

Rumsfeld said he welcomes debate and that he tells people to make their case.

"And we've ended up adjusting or changing or calibrating [the plan]," he said.

But retired Army Gen. Paul Eaton told CNN that if you spoke up and the Pentagon disagreed, "Then you're going to have a problem."

Eaton reflects what many critics claim about Rumsfeld's controversial management style and the decisions that stem from it: that Rumsfeld doesn't listen; he doesn't like dissent; and he dismisses ideas that differ from his own.

The secretary shrugged off such criticism.

"Well, you know, I mean it's awfully easy to be on the outside and to opine on this and opine on that and critique that," Rumsfeld said.

His concern with detail left one former general perplexed.

Former Lt. Gen. Mike DeLong said that Rumsfeld corrected his grammar the first time he briefed the secretary.

"He said, 'Stop. ... General, there was no verb in the last sentence," DeLong said.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone said Rumsfeld once asked him how many words were in a paragraph in a brief. There were 93.

"It was to make a point," Cambone said, adding that he hasn't written a 93-word paragraph since. (Watch deputy talk about what irritates the secretary -- 4:22)

'Perfect historical figure'
Rumsfeld, given a mandate by President Bush to pursue a space-based missile defense program and to modernize the military, said the transformation has had its issues.

"[The Pentagon] is a big place. It's like any big institution. It's resistant to change," he told CNN.

"Change is hard for people, and there've been a lot of squealing and screeching and complaints as, as the change took place in this department. And I would say that it's attitude and culture as much as anything else."

And if change makes people feel uncomfortable?

"Well, it's unfortunate," Rumsfeld said. "But life has to go on and the things have to get done, and the American people have to be protected."

James Carafano, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called Rumsfeld the "perfect historical figure."

"Historians will reinterpret him over and over," Carafano said. "They will find brilliant, insightful, clear-headed decisions and they will find bone-headed, jarring, dumb mistakes."

When asked how he will define his own success, Rumsfeld answered:

"I don't worry about me. I get up in the morning and [my wife] Joyce rolls over and says, 'If those troops can get out there and do what they're doing, you can do what you're doing. Get out there and do it.' "

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/09/28/rumsfeld.profile/index.html

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Iraq
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Photo: Iraq
Morning prayers call the faithful to the glittering domes of Baghdad's Kadhimain Mosque.
Photograph by Michael Yamashita
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Profile

Iraq occupies the ancient region of Mesopotamia, "land amidst the rivers," a fertile lowland created by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Today these rivers sustain large areas of irrigated farmland and one of the highest populations in the Middle East. Beneath the land, Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in rich oil reserves. Temperatures range from below freezing in winter to higher than 49C (120F) in the summer.

Iraq's diverse population includes some 20 million Arabs consisting of Shiite Muslims (60 percent), Sunni Muslims (35 percent), and Christians (3 percent). Most Shiites live in the southeast, and most Sunnis live in central Iraq. About four million Kurds, a non-Arab Muslim people, live in the mountainous northeast.

Iraq gained independence in 1932 as a monarchy, but a 1958 coup brought a series of military dictatorships. In 1979 Saddam Hussein took control of Iraq; he invaded Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. Iraq lost both resource-draining wars. Iraqis suffered from high war casualties and from Hussein's persecution of Shiites, Kurds, and others who opposed him.

U.S.-led coalition forces drove the Iraqi occupation army from Kuwait in 1991 and patrolled no-fly zones over Iraq from 1992-2003—protecting Kurds and Shiites from Iraqi warplanes. The Kurdish community, defying the Iraqi army, established its own self-governing region in the early 1990s. Iraq ended cooperation with UN weapons inspectors in 1998, creating concern that Iraq was again developing nuclear or chemical weapons.

Another U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, reaching Baghdad by April 9, and capturing Hussein on December 14. However, militants continue attacking coalition forces and terrorizing Iraqis working with the new government. Coalition forces administer Iraq until June 30, 2004—the scheduled date for transferring authority to an Iraqi transitional government. Plans call for UN-assisted elections for a national assembly to be held by the end of January 2005.

ECONOMY

Industry: petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials.
Agriculture: wheat, barley, rice, vegetables; cattle.
Exports: crude oil.

Text source: National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition, 2004

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Iraq Flag and Fast Facts
Flag of Iraq
Population
28,807,000
Capital
Baghdad; 5,620,000
Area
437,072 square kilometers
(168,754 square miles)
Language
Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian
Religion
Shiite and Sunni Muslim
Currency
Iraqi dinar
Life Expectancy
58
GDP per Capita
U.S. $2,400
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40


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44 Iraqis killed; U.S. death toll rises

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1 minute ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Militants targeted police recruits and shoppers rounding up last-minute sweets and delicacies for a feast to mark the end of the Ramadan holy month, the highlight of the Muslim year. At least 44 Iraqis were reported killed across the country.

The U.S. military announced the deaths of a Marine and seven soldiers, raising to 86 the number of American servicemembers killed in October — the highest monthly toll this year. The pace of U.S. deaths could make October the deadliest month in two years.

Six soldiers were killed Sunday, three by small arms fire west of the capital and three by roadside bombs within Baghdad, the military said. On Saturday, a Marine was killed during combat in restive Anbar province and another soldier died in fighting in Salahuddin province.

"There will be no holiday  in Iraq," said Abu Marwa, a 46-year-old Sunni Muslim father of three who owns a mobile phone shop in the capital. "Anyone who says otherwise is a liar."

In Sunday's bloodiest attack, gunmen in five sedans ambushed a convoy of buses carrying police recruits near the city of Baqouba 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing at least 15 and wounding 25 others, said provincial police chief Maj. Gen. Ghassan al-Bawi. The recruits were returning home after an induction ceremony at a police base south of Baqouba.

A series of bombs also ripped through a Baghdad market and bakery packed with holiday shoppers, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens, police said. The attack came a day after a massive bicycle-bomb and mortar attack on an outdoor market killed 19 and wounded scores in Mahmoudiyah, just south of the capital.

The Iraqi Islamic Party issued a statement blaming Shiite militiamen for the attack in Mahmoudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad. The Sunni organization claimed Shiite militiamen had killed 1,000 residents in the town since the start of the year.

In the U.S., the Bush administration has been wrestling to find new tactics to contain the bloodshed ahead of the U.S. congressional elections on Nov. 7 as both Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both parties expressed wavering confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to come to grips with the rising bloodshed.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that pressuring al-Maliki may not work because he does not have much clout.

"We keep saying, 'Go to your Shiites and get them straightened out, or the Sunnis, or divide the oil.' And al-Maliki is saying, 'There isn't any group here that wants to talk about those things,'" Lugar said.

U.S. President George W. Bush stood firm in his support for al-Maliki, saying he "has got what it takes to lead a unity government." But the president noted the urgency the new government faces to stop the killing.

"I'm patient. I'm not patient forever, and I'm not patient with dawdling," Bush said. "But I recognize the degree of difficulty of the task, and therefore, say to the American people, we won't cut and run."

The outcome of a White House meeting Saturday among Bush and his top security and military officials could become clearer early next week when Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, are scheduled to conduct an unusual joint news conference in Baghdad.

The Bush administration took issue with a report in The New York Times on Sunday that said Casey and Khalilzad were working on a plan that would outline milestones for disarming militias and meeting other political and economic goals.

The report said the blueprint, to be presented to al-Maliki by the end of this year, would not threaten Iraq with a withdrawal of U.S. troops. The White House said the article was not accurate, and the administration was constantly developing new tactics to help the Iraqi government sustain and defend itself and govern.

Also Sunday, a U.S. State Department official Alberto Fernandez apologized for saying U.S. policy in Iraq displayed "arrogance" and "stupidity" in an interview broadcast by Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

"Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on Al-Jazeera, I realized that I seriously misspoke by using the phrase 'there has been arrogance and stupidity' by the U.S. in Iraq," said Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. "This represents neither my views nor those of the State Department," Fernandez added in a statement. "I apologize."

Fernandez spoke in fluent Arabic in the interview, which Al-Jazeera said was taped in Washington on Friday. His remarks were translated into English by The Associated Press.

In all Sunday, at least 44 Iraqis were killed or their bodies were founded dumped along roads or in the Tigris River. While the number was not high by the grim standards of the more than 3 1/2-year war, the timing and targets revealed a brutal disregard for the sanctity and meaning of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is to Muslims what Christmas is to Christians.

After fasting from dawn to dusk for a month to become closer to God, the holiday is a time when families and friends gather for sumptuous meals and children are given new clothes and toys. Muslims also traditionally visit the graves of loved ones.

"I don't think my family will go out and visit relatives this holiday," said Hasnah Kadhim, a 54-year-old Shiite homemaker and mother of four. "There are too many explosions."

Symbolic, perhaps, of Iraq's deepening sectarian split, only Sunnis are celebrating the start of the Eid holiday on Monday. The country's majority Shiites begin the three-day festival Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on which senior cleric they follow.

"Things are getting worse every day in Baghdad," said Abu Marwa, the Baghdad storekeeper. "So, it's logical that today will be better than tomorrow. That's why I have no plans for the holiday."

Sunday's killings raised to at least 950 the number of Iraqis who have died in war-related violence this month, an average of more than 40 a day. The toll is on course to make October the deadliest month for Iraqis since April 2005, when The Associated Press began tracking the deaths.

Until this month, the daily average had been about 27. The AP count includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported.

The United Nations has said at least 100 Iraqis are now killed daily.

Here are some of the accomplishments in Iraq that occurred during the month of October, just in-case you missed them... And judging from the media reports you did.

  1. BASRAH, Iraq, Oct. 2, 2006 — One of the greatest threats to the security of Iraq, and a common tactic of terrorists and insurgents, is the use of improvised explosive devices and mines.
  2. BAGHDAD, Oct. 2, 2006 — The Iraqi Air Force is working to gain complete control of support operations from Coalition forces to add to the maintenance operations already under its charge.
  3. AL ASAD, Iraq, Oct. 2, 2006 — Even though he's officially retired after four decades of government service, 72- year-old Jim Ruyak is at work every day serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  4. FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, Oct. 3, 2006 — Iraqi officials and Multi-National Division – Baghdad leaders transferred responsibility of Forward Operating Base Duke to Iraqi Security Forces during a press conference Oct. 1.
  5. CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, Oct. 4, 2006 — Only months away from completion, the pump tanks at "RT3" are still empty as Iraqi workers put the finishing touches on the high-tech water treatment facility that will distribute clean, fresh water to millions of Baghdad area residents at the astonishing pace of 30 million gallons per day.
  6. CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, Oct. 5, 2006 —The classroom is not sterile or high-tech, but what is taught there will help enable Iraqi engineers to bring their army's communication systems into the 21st century.
  7. BAGHDAD, Oct. 5, 2006— Senior U.S. officials in Iraq are calling a four-point plan released Oct. 3 by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to halt sectarian violence "a significant step in the right direction."
  8. CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2006 —Billy Blanks, fitness guru, martial artist, actor and creator of Tae Bo, a fitness program that combines Tae Kwon Do moves and boxing with dance music, made a stop at the 4th Infantry Division Field House, Oct. 5.
  9. BAGHDAD, Oct. 11, 2006 — Iraqi army soldiers, working in conjunction with Multi-National Division – Baghdad (MND-B) soldiers, executed Operation Half Nelson Oct. 4, which was designed to build trust between Iraqi civilians and MND-B forces and eliminate terrorist threats in Baghdad's Hurriyah neighborhood.
  10. HAMRIN, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2006 — Water can be a scarce resource in many regions of Iraq. However, there are some areas, namely along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, that thrive because of the direct access to water.
  11. BAGHDAD, Oct. 12, 2006 — "There is no such thing as a perfect crime, as there are always clues left behind" is a phrase that is often echoed in police circles all around the world. Detectives and analysts say a good forensics investigation will always lead to the perpetrator.
  12. KIRKUK, Iraq, Oct. 13, 2006 —Two schools re-opened here Oct. 12 after being renovated as part of a program in which they will serve as models for other schools in the area.
  13. FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, Oct. 16, 2006— Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers delivered an assortment of equipment and goods to the Muehla Agricultural Union, Oct. 9.
  14. CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Oct. 17, 2006— On a typical day at the Tarmiya Medical Clinic, patients and clinic workers witnessed a not-so-typical grand opening of a new surgical and pregnancy wing, Oct. 10. Ministry of Health personnel, local council members and soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division hosted the event.
  15. CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Oct. 23, 2006 — After a remarkable year of retaining more than 560 soldiers while serving in Iraq, the 4th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade Retention office is at it again.
  16. BAGHDAD, Oct. 23, 2006— Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers conducted a humanitarian aid mission Oct. 13 in Baghdad's Karkh district.
  17. BAGHDAD, Oct. 23, 2006 — Everybody knows the bad news: In September, the lights were on in Baghdad for around four hours a day. One study has October's levels so far at 2.4, the lowest since the invasion.
  18. BAGHDAD, Oct. 24, 2006— Three representatives from police and fire departments in Austin, Texas, met with Iraqi emergency services officials, Oct. 18, to discuss ways to better improve existing Iraqi emergency medical systems. The meeting was held at the Adnan Palace in central Baghdad.
  19. RUSHDI MULLA, Iraq, Oct. 25, 2006—The first few were hesitant, coming in by ones and twos, but soon the floodgates opened and the citizens of Rushdi Mullah came from all over town to receive medical care Oct. 19 at a Multi-National Division – Baghdad medical operation.
  20. FORWARD OPERATING BASE BRASSFIELD-MORA, Iraq, Oct. 27, 2006— Iraqi Army soldiers discovered multiple weapons caches during joint patrols with paratroopers from Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Oct. 21-22, in a village north of Samarra, Iraq.
  21. CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, Oct. 30, 2006 — The arrival of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, to the Multi- National Division – Baghdad area of operation during the second and third week of October marked the beginning of a deployment for a brigade – and the end for another.
  22. CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2006 — As international headlines report sectarian violence across Baghdad and the cities in the surrounding region, Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, are working together to re-establish a level of security that will allow local residents to return safely to Saab al Bour.
  23. BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 31, 2006 — It was a terrible scenario. A suicide bomber attack in Fallujah, Iraq, had injured a 21-year-old Marine. He suffered multiple burns to his face and hands, and blast injuries to his right arm with shrapnel embedded in his leg. But the worst part was shrapnel in his right eye, causing bleeding and a chance of retinal detachment, which would mean loss of sight.

Gunnery Sergeant
Michael W. Davis USMCR
Public Relations
Sgt Grit
Marine Specialties

 
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