Archive for the ‘Department of Defense’ Category

Brain-injured troops face unclear long-term risks

December 4, 2008

Many of the thousands of troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk of long-term health problems including depression and Alzheimer’s-like dementia, but it’s impossible to predict how high those risks are, researchers say.

About 22 percent of wounded troops have a brain injury, concluded the prestigious Institute of Medicine — and it urged precise steps for studying how these patients fare years later so chances to help aren’t missed.

The Veterans Affairs Department, which requested the report, and the Pentagon already are taking some of the recommended steps. But a report out Thursday highlights the urgency.


An Afghan soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint in Kabul in August ...

“I don’t think we really knew how big a hole in scientific knowledge there is about blast-induced brain injuries,” said Dr. George Rutherford of the University of California, San Francisco, the report’s lead researcher.

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a signature injury of the Iraq war. Most do not involve penetrating head wounds but damage hidden inside the skull caused by an explosion’s pressure wave. It can range from a mild concussion to severe injury. And because symptoms may not be immediately apparent, troops may not seek care.

“If you have a gunshot wound to some specific part of your brain, I can tell you the consequences,” Rutherford said. But with blast concussions, it’s not even possible to say “if you have six of these, are you six times more likely to have something bad happen to you than if you’ve had one?”

Returning soldiers have reported headaches, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, irritability, insomnia and depression. The military has said most of the TBI-injured troops recover with treatment.

“There’s clearly a whole bunch of people who have mild TBI who have no negative outcomes,” Rutherford agreed.

PTSD, psychological health and traumatic brain injuries

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PTSD, psychological health and traumatic brain injuries

December 3, 2008

The number one question we see here at Peace and Freedom is: how can we better help soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Dealing appropriately with psychological health and traumatic brain injuries is the watchword…


The military finally is getting ahead in the head business — tackling the psychological health and traumatic brain injuries of soldiers and their families in a comprehensive way.

It’s happening at the moment under the leadership of an energetic, Shakespeare-quoting Army psychiatrist, Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton. Gen. Sutton holds a medical degree from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif. She completed her internship and residency in psychiatry at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco.

By Ann Geracimos    
The Washington Times

Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence, an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with the health and wellness of soldiers. The department seeks to care for troops before and after they suffer trauma. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

Above: Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence, an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with the health and wellness of soldiers. 

Gen. Sutton, 49, is director of the year-old Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE), an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with health matters. The concept is to find the means of caring for troops and their leaders before, as well as after, service members and their relations suffer the debilitating effects of trauma.

The game plan focuses on building up what is being called “resilience” among the military’s many warrior volunteers as well as providing more and better treatment options for visible and invisible injuries of this type in a totally integrated program for recovery and reintegration. Gen. Sutton describes it as a network “like the Internet — a collaborative global network” functioning in a partnership, which is expected to take four years to put fully in place.

The plan, and its three R’s — resilience, recovery, reintegration — had a big workout at a recent three-day DCoE symposium, “Warrior Resilience Conference: Partnering With the Line,” and attended mainly by service members involved in health matters. Billed as the first of its kind, the event at the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks typified what the organization sees as its mandate: promoting a shift of emphasis in the military away from what is known, in jargon terms, as an “illness-based medical model” toward a “wellness-centric resilience continuum.”

The latter phrase is a mouthful, with good reason, covering as it does a range of approaches that almost directly counter traditional military culture and practices.

“It’s ironic how the military trains us to overcome discomfort but not how to deal with invisible injuries,” Gen. Sutton notes. “As soldiers, we keep a lid on our feelings while we do our job. But nobody tells us when to take the lid off or how to deal with it when we do.”

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Dozens of American cities spared war dead

February 19, 2008

By  Rick Hampson and Paul Overberg
USA Today
February 19, 2008

As the Iraq war approaches its fifth anniversary and 4,000th U.S. military fatality, about three dozen cities with populations above 100,000 have not lost a servicemember in the conflict, according to the Pentagon’s list of the deceased’s hometowns.

The fact that so many relatively large cities have been spared a fatality in Iraq underscores how sporadically the war has affected much of the American home front.

Cities without a reported loss include seven that have more than 150,000 residents, among them Oakland and Fort Lauderdale. Analysts offer two explanations for why such cities could have avoided military losses:

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U.S. Navy Setting Up To Kill Dangerous Satellite

February 19, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 19, 2008

The U.S. Navy is setting up at sea with two missile armed ships to kill a satellite heading toward reentry with about 1,000 pounds of frozen toxic hydrazine fuel aboard.

The hydrazine could pose a threat to people and animals on the ground if it landed on earth, the U.S. Department of Defense and other government sources have said.  A National Security Council spokesman indicated that President Bush made the decision to order the Navy to eliminate the satellite.

The ships making ready to launch missiles are the USS Lake Erie and USS Decatur, according to U.S. Navy sources.  Lake Erie is a guided missile cruiser that has had special crew training and experience with the SM-3 missile which is expected to be used during this event.  Decatur is a guided missile destroyer with similar crew training and experience.
USS Lake Erie docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
USS Lake Erie (CG-70)

At least three SM-3 missile are known to be dedicated to this mission.
Read Admiral Brad Hicks, the senior engineer in the Navy with oversight over these missiles and the support computer programs and systems, is know to be at sea aboard one of these ships.

The missile launch to attempt to kill the satellite cannot occur before the Space Shuttle Atlantis lands on Wednesday. 

According to sources, NASA has requested that the Navy hold off until Atlantis lands, even though there is practically no danger to the space shuttle from this event.
Decatur entering San Diego Harbor, 9 March 2004.
USS Decatur (DDG-73)

Both Russia and China have objected to the event, saying that the United States is potentially starting an arms race in space.

China already demontrated an-anti satellite (ASAT) capability by using a former strategic intercontinental launch system to take out a Chinese made satellite.

The Defense Department said that China’s test was in “deep space” and “the great altitude” of several hundred miles.  The U.S. Navy is attemting to destroy a U.S. made satellite at about 150 miles from the surface of the earth.  The satellite target is nearing reentry and is of potential danger to an area of life on earth.

The U.S. Navy’s SM-3 is much smaller and less capable than a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile.  Experts tell Peace and Freedom that the Russian and Chinese objections are “laughable.”

The “kill vehicle” which is expected to hit the satellite is guided by an infra-red heat source.  Since the satellite is “cold,” the shot must occur while the sun is reflecting an IR source off the satellite.  This only occures during a time-frame once every day.

The first attempt to kill the satellite will occur on Thursday. 

The Navy is prepared to attempt additional intercepts of the satellite if necessary.


US to try satellite shoot-down Thursday: report

Navy Will Attempt to Down Spy Satellite

Remains of Marine lost in Vietnam ID’d after 39 years

November 17, 2007

Honolulu Advertiser
November 17, 2007

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) in Honolulu announced Friday that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Gunnery Sgt. Richard W. Fischer, U.S. Marine Corps, of Madison, Wis. He will be buried on Monday in Madison.

On Jan. 8, 1968, Fischer was assigned to M Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, on an ambush patrol south of Da Nang in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Fischer became separated from his unit and subsequent attempts by his team members to locate him were met with enemy fire.

In 1992 and 1993, joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted three investigations and interviewed several Vietnamese citizens. The citizens said that Fischer was killed by Viet Cong and his remains were buried in a nearby cultivated field.

In 1994, a joint team excavated the burial site and recovered human remains and other material evidence including uniform buttons.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Fischer’s remains.For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 509-1905.

Putin: “Nyet” to U.S. Missile Defense (Again)

October 12, 2007

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 12, 2007

On October 12, 2007, Russia, or rather Vladimir Putin, rejected all American options and opportunities to break a logjam between the two powers on Missile Defense.

I first went to Russia to discuss U.S. missile defense plans and capabilities in 1992.  Assisting and supporting a Department of Defense team seeking Russian cooperation on missile defense provided many insights that are still useful today.

Why does the U.S. care about Russia in this process? Because the threat of missiles now looms large from countries like Iran and North Korea. Russia has the potential to be a major player in a system using assets from more than one country to provide a seamless defense. 

Saddam Husein’s use of the SCUD missiles during the 1991 Gulf War sent a shock wave through defense establishments.

The U.S. missile defense system, as envisioned since the Gulf War with Iraq in 1991, has not been seen as a system to take out Russian missiles but to destroy less capable systems — with Russian help if possible.

Russia also needs to be concerned about missiles from places such as the Middle East or northwest Asia.  In fact, internal Russian chest beating aside, Russia knows it is clearly in the national interest of Russia to cooperate on missile defense.

Russia knows this categorically.  Any statement from any Russian saying that our missile defense system will negate their nuclear deterrence is made entirely to be swallowed by western reporters who are not aware of the facts.

Any statement from Russia saying that the Russian people don’t also need the type of protection provided by missile defense is not based upon the truth.

Ambassador John Bolton said today that President Putin was thoroughly briefed on U.S. missile defense capabilities and intentions when the United States withdrew from the Ant-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2001. In fact, Mr. Bolton said President Putin accepted the U.S. logic and did not fight reality the way he is doing today.

But then the national pride and the ego of a world leader got into the way.

Putin’s stock rose with his internal constituency only when he defied the United States.

This is a dangerous state of affairs for the world.

Leaders in NATO and the EU have made appeals to Mr. Putin to leave behind his Cold War ways and to allow Russia to join further with the world community in fighting terror and building missile defenses.  But Mr. Putin has fallen in love with the applause he hears at home when he makes moves that look like a return to the majesty of the Soviet Superpower.  Resumption of Russian long range bomber patrols is an example of this thoughtless pandering to his people at home.

Those gloating that Putin has taken on the United States and “won” may one day face nuclear armed dictators of an even more unpredictable nature than those we have today.  There is no “win” here — just unnecessary time lost as nations like Iran surge ahead.

Today, Vladimir Putin, an arrogant demigod who now is seen in Russia as the savior of a nearly failed system, showed his arrogance, intransigence and pure gall. With the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Secretary of Defense waiting, Putin allowed them to sit idly while he made what diplomats call, an “inexcusable display.”

Mr. Bolton says this conduct by Putin “underlines his dissatisfaction.”

Putin offered no explanation or apology: he just made his guests wait. This is how childish world leaders act. This is not the conduct of a polished world leader.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Americans had presented “detailed proposals” to Putin on missile defense and arms control and a treaty on reducing conventional forces in Europe.

Then, in good faith, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, two of the most senior members of the U.S. government, gave a briefing with many options to their equals in Mr. Putin’s government. All options and opportunities were rejected by the Russians.

One has to believe that this entire meeting was a charade meant only to show Russians and the world that there is another super-power in the world the rival of the U.S.

Mr. Bolton said, for Russia, this entire escapade is “counter-productive from Russia’s own strategic perspective.”

For her part, the U.S. Secretary of State said, “I know that we don’t always see eye-to-eye on every element of the solutions to these issues. Nonetheless, I believe we will do this in a constructive spirit, that we will make progress during these talks as we continue to pursue cooperation.”

From an outsiders view sitting on the fence, the trip was a waste of time for the Americans and an ill-advised choreographed dance by the Russians.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 12, 2007

Missile Defense Works
By James Hackett
US-Russia missile defense talks fail