Thursday, January 21, 2010

Logistics Agency Overnights 38,000 Maps for Haiti Relief

By Stephen J. Baker Special to American Forces Press Service

RICHMOND, Va. :  The Defense Logistics Agency's map facility here has been working quickly to supply military and federal agencies with maps essential to the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti since the Jan. 12 earthquake there.
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Albert Zamora, Hydrographic/Digital Section chief in Defense Supply Center Richmond, Va.'s Mapping Customer Operations Division, and other team members have shipped 38,000 maps and charts since last week's earthquake in Haiti to military units on scene and en route to support disaster relief efforts there. Courtesy photo by Stephen J. Baker

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Employees at Defense Supply Center Richmond's Mapping Customer Operations Division have processed more than 1,300 orders for nearly 38,000 maps and charts, the center's deputy chief, Kevin Bettis, said.

The maps were sent overnight last night from Richmond to units – mostly Army, Navy and Marines -- on the scene and en route to Haiti, Bettis said.

The supply center always is prepared for emergencies, Bettis said. "We have a philosophy that we need to always be ready because you never know when the next crisis is going to occur," he said.

There was a similar increase in map orders during the 2004 tsunami relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Bettis said, adding that he expects the surge in orders to continue for another two weeks.

"The more troops we send in, the more support we're going to need to provide," he said. "And we'll be ready to do it."

As the Defense Department's combat logistics support agency, DLA is responsible for providing the military, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with logistics, acquisition and technical services including fuel, food, clothing, medical supplies and equipment, repair parts for weapons systems and energy services.
(Issued on :Jan. 20, 2010)

(Stephen J. Baker works for Defense Supply Center Richmond.)

Related Sites:
Special Report: Haiti Earthquake Relief
Defense Supply Center Richmond

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haitian citizens reach for water being distributed by U.S. Navy

Haitian citizens reach for water being distributed by U.S. Navy air crewmen in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 16, 2010. The air crewmen are from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9 aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief as part of the U.S. response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist  Seaman Aaron Shelley, U.S. Navy /Released)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Air Force Medical Service Works Around Challenges

By Ian Graham Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON : The military has a well-known knack for building modern facilities in remote locations to support servicemembers. In the wake of disasters like this week's earthquake in the Caribbean, the services have stepped up to use their deployable assets, especially hospitals, to help Haitians.

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Airmen from the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., offload injured people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV

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Col. Mark Mavity, chief of medical readiness for the Air Force surgeon general, discussed the Air Force Medical Service's deployable capabilities and how they can be used to help the people of Haiti in a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable today.

The primary capabilities the Air Force is concerned with in Haiti, Mavity said, are primary and preventive care, surgical capability and some intensive holding capacity. The footprint is small, he said, with at most perhaps 25 beds available. The idea, he said, is to get the patients stable enough to be moved to a location where they can be better treated.

Mavity said though eight of Haiti's hospitals were damaged to the point of inoperability, the majority of their medical facilities are up and running, though they're strained by the volume of injuries that need to be treated.

"The capabilities of those facilities, even before the earthquake, were very limited in their capacity – both in size and in availability of equipment and medications," he said. "[Now] they're being overwhelmed by the demand."

It's difficult to set up hospitals and bases on the island, Mavity said, because the earthquake damaged what little open space was left. So while components are setting up at the airport in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, they're quickly running out of room.

Getting services out to other cities on the island, where the damage, in some cases, is worse, has been one of the biggest challenge for first responders from the Air Force, Mavity said. The nature of their capability -- quick stabilizing response and patient movement -- makes the airport an ideal location, especially because the medical facilities are so stripped down. The size of the operation does allow for flexibility in operating farther from the airport, he said, but there are special challenges related to that. Power and water supplies, shelter for troops, force protection and vehicles aren't an "organic" asset for the medical stations, so they have to rely on other military or other agencies' infrastructure, the colonel explained. They can't operate independently wherever they want to set up shop.

"The difficulty is, because our platforms are so light and lean, we are very dependent. ... We have to be married with some base operating support elements," he said. "That begins to play into the algebra of where we can actually put [facilities]."

Mavity said the personnel on the ground in Haiti, in addition to beginning medical relief efforts, also are looking forward to seeing how best to work around the issue of location, and how best to create the "air bridge" that will connect their first-response facilities to better-equipped hospitals, such as the Navy's hospital ship USNS Comfort, which is en route.

"Some of those folks are working the whole command-and-control elements and site assessment, as well as being very helpful in the initial discussions with our [Air Mobility Command] and [U.S. Transportation Command] folks to start thinking about how best to build this air bridge for patient movement, and exactly how much we'll need, and what kind of folks we're going to need to get that done effectively," Mavity said. "I can't thank those folks enough for the fantastic job they've done."

As the initial team and additional forces combine, they'll work to get the best of their capabilities, and hope to move some assets into the cities, where they can help more people, Mavity said.

"The Air Force Medical Service has that very unique ability to get the right care to the right people in a very short amount of time," he said. "I think we're doing a fantastic job of that, and we'll continue to do so over the days and weeks to follow." (Issued on : Jan 16, 2010)

(Ian Graham works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)
Related Sites:
Air Force Medical Service
"DoDLive" Bloggers Roundtable
Special Report: Haiti Earthquake Relief

Click photo for screen-resolution image Airmen from the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., offload injured people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Air Force members carry a wounded Haitian to an Air Force C-130 at the Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, airport, Jan. 15, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

USNS Comfort Readies to Leave for Haiti

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
BALTIMORE :  Early last spring, Navy Capt. James Ware was preparing his crew aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort for a humanitarian assistance mission in Haiti, the first stop during a four-month swing through the region.

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USNS Comfort sits at its pier in Baltimore on Jan. 15, 2010, being readied to move out to provide medical support for earthquake-ravaged Haiti. DoD photo by Donna Miles

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Today, Ware is overseeing final preparations to return to Haiti for a more pressing mission: providing life-saving medical care to victims of a devastating earthquake that killed tens of thousands and left untold thousands more injured.

Comfort will leave its home port here early tomorrow and is expected to arrive in Haiti by Jan. 21, delivering a full spectrum of medical and surgical services aboard one of the country's largest trauma facilities.

"This is a moment when we feel we can have a huge impact," along with other military medical providers already on the ground, as well as those from nongovernmental organizations and the international community, Ware said. "Our hope is to work with those individuals, side by side, to truly help the people of Haiti."

USNS Comfort will deliver immense capability to the mission. The hulking hospital ship -- three football fields long and one wide – has 250 hospital beds and a 550-person medical team that includes trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, eye surgeons and obstetricians and gynecologists.

The team also will include medical professionals from the Navy, Army, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service, as well as nongovernmental organizations.

Ware said he expects his staff to initially see about 500 patients a day when it arrives in Haiti, working up to 750 or more, and to conduct 20 to 25 surgical procedures a day.

But his big focus today was on getting the ship manned, equipped and provisioned for the mission ahead. A massive logistical effort was under way to load the food, water and medical supplies the crew -- most from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., but also from its sister hospitals in Portsmouth, Va., and San Diego, Calif. -- will need.

Two cranes worked simultaneously, hoisting palletized loads of bottled water, packaged meals and other supplies to Comfort's upper decks. Meanwhile, a long line of tractor trailers that began arriving last night idled nearby, waiting to offload their supplies. Engine roars mingled with the ever-present "beep-beep-beep" of forklifts scurrying in almost every direction alongside the vessel.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Lamar McDavis, based at the National Naval Medical Center, kept his checklist handy to keep track of the loading process. "It's going to be a long day here," he said, noting that he expects to load as many as 800 pallets by the day's end, compressing into just one day what typically would take about three.

"We're doing this fast, but it can't be fast enough," McDavis said. "People are suffering, and the quicker we get help to them, the better off they will be."

USNS Comfort initially will carry enough food and water to sustain its crew – 550 medical specialists and 250 mariners and staff to provide security, communications and other shipboard support – and the patients who will fill its 250 hospital beds for up to 60 days, Ware said.

In addition, the ship has enough medical supplies aboard to support a 60-day combat casualty care mission, he said.

Ware said he's confident he'll have everything he needs on board to proceed directly to Haiti without having to stop anywhere else en route to pick up additional crew or supplies.

"We have pushed forward on this end to make sure we have the right personnel," he said. "We have looked all the way down to the very lowest seaman on board to determine whether they have the exact skills sets we need – from an operating technician to a surgeon to a blood-bank specialist.

"And we have identified 99 percent of those individuals," he continued. "So [the] plan is to leave tomorrow, and we will be moving as quickly as possible to get to Port-au-Prince Harbor."

As much as 70 percent of the crew already has experience aboard Comfort, or its sister ship USNS Mercy in San Diego, Ware said. In addition to onboard training sessions conducted every 12 weeks, many participated in Continuing Promise 2009, Comfort's most recent humanitarian assistance mission through Latin America and the Caribbean.

During that mission, USNS Comfort treated almost 100,000 patients, including tens of thousands in Haiti alone.

The visit provided important lessons to the Comfort crew it will apply during its disaster response mission, he said, but also fostered relationships that will help in its upcoming mission.

"They are waiting for us to come," Ware said, citing numerous phone calls and e-mails he has received from people he's already worked with in Haiti. "And I think those [relationships] will really pay off – not for us, but for the people of Haiti."

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Olivero, department head for Comfort's operating room, is preparing for a mission he expects to be heavy in head injuries, crushing injuries, amputations and other trauma cases. His crew will exercise various trauma scenarios once it's all onboard and under way, to be sure it's ready to hit the ground running when it arrives.

Olivero remembers the gratification of Continuing Promise 2009, when "a busy day for us was a good day, because we were helping many people."

He expects to be even busier during this mission, too, but acknowledged the circumstances will be a lot tougher to deal with. "It is going to be good to help people, but the reason you are busy is not what you want it to be," he said.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lesley Prasad, one of just 50 permanently assigned crewmembers aboard Comfort, said it feels great seeing the hospital ship provide such a desperately needed service to relieve suffering in Haiti. It's kept him and his fellow crewmembers buzzing nonstop for the past four days "on full steam" to prepare so they're ready to hit the ground running.

"I feel really good about this," he said, pausing as he ordered last-minute medical supplies for the mission. "We are the best qualified crew medically, [and we're] ready to help these people in Haiti," he said. "To be able to have such a vital role in the effort, it's awesome."  (Issued on : Jan 15, 2010)
Navy Capt. James Ware
Related Sites:
USNS Comfort
Special Report: Haiti Earthquake Relief

Click photo for screen-resolution image Navy Seaman Apprentice Gregory Weir, left, and Navy Seaman Vladimir Vallatavera, both assigned to the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., help to onload pallets of bottled water to prepare USNS Comfort for its humanitarian mission in Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. DoD photo by Donna Miles
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lesley Prasad, one of just 50 permanently assigned crewmembers aboard USNS Comfort, orders last-minute medical supplies for the ships's deployment to Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. DoD photo by Donna Miles
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Lamar McDavis, based at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., keeps his checklist handy to keep track of the loading process as USNS Comfort prepares to get underway for a humanitarian mission to Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. DoD photo by Donna Miles
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Cordero Palmer, a fulltime yeoman aboard USNS Comfort, climbs the gangplank Jan. 15, 2010, to prepare for the ship's deployment to provide humanitarian relief in Haiti. DoD photo by Donna Miles
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U.S. Soldiers unload food and supplies

U.S. Soldiers unload food and supplies from a Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter from aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) at the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. The U.S. military is conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake caused severe damage near Port-au-Prince Jan 12, 2010. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Candice B. Villarreal, U.S. Navy/Released)
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Ear plugs in the ears of an infant before boarding

 A U.S. Airman from the Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., helps put ear plugs in the ears of an infant before boarding an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft flying out of the Troussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 15, 2010. U.S. citizens living in Haiti are waiting to be evacuated from Port-au-Prince in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. (DoD photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV, U.S. Air Force/Released)

The guided missile destroyer

The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) and an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 conduct a replenishment at sea Jan. 14, 2010 while underway in the North Arabian Sea. Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr., U.S. Navy /Released)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ohio Air Guard Assists Haiti Relief Efforts

By American Forces Press Service
COLUMBUS, Ohio :  As many U.S. military units and government agencies stand poised to answer the call to help earthquake-stricken Haiti, the Ohio Air National Guard already has provided two C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft from the Mansfield-based 179th Airlift Wing to provide immediate assistance.

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Airmen from the Ohio National Guard's Mansfield-based 179th Airlift Wing unload supplies Jan. 13, 2010, from their C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, the first to land in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, following a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Two C-130 aircraft and five crews from the Mansfield unit are supporting relief efforts. U.S. Air Force photo

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The 179th deployed about 45 unit members to Puerto Rico in support of Operation Coronet Oak — a U.S. Southern Command theater airlift support mission —Jan. 9. Three days later, the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit neighboring Haiti. The same evening, three crews from the 179th were put on alert, and early the next morning the first crew was activated and was airborne within three hours.

The aircraft flew to Florida to collect search and rescue teams and communication crews and deliver them to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Shortly after, a second crew was alerted and airborne.

The first crew, led by Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Pecoraro, arrived in Port-au-Prince as the sun was setting yesterday, and landed successfully despite challenging terrain and a downed communication tower. The Ohio C-130 was the first such aircraft to land in Port-au-Prince.

The second crew, commanded by Air Force Lt. Col. William Baulkmon, arrived after sunset with three pallets of communication materials to improve departure and approach communication at the Port-au-Prince airport.

Three Puerto Rico Air National Guard aircraft have been tasked to the 179th Airlift Wing for this operation. This morning, 179th crews arrived in Florida in two of these aircraft to pick up and deliver additional supplies and personnel. They will arrive in Haiti by early afternoon, officials said.
(Jan 14, 2010)
(From a news release provided by the Ohio adjutant general's office.)
Related Sites:
Ohio Air National Guard

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) departs Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Jan. 12, 2010. Carl Vinson is under way following a four-year refueling and complex overhaul to take part in the multinational exercise Southern Seas 2010 after which, it will change homeports from Norfolk to San Diego, Calif. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rafael Martie, U.S. Navy/Released)

U.S. Seeks Positive Military Relationship with China

By Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON :  The United States seeks to maintain a positive, cooperative and comprehensive military relationship with China, senior Defense Department officials told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Wallace "Chip" Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security, acknowledged that the U.S. relationship with the largest nation in the world is complicated.

China is a partner in some respects, but a competitor in others, he explained, and the United States must engage constantly with China and seek to lessen uncertainty.

Uncertainty is the major stumbling block to Sino-American relations, Navy Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the committee.

Willard noted inconsistency between Chinese security statements and reality on the ground. China insists its military program is defensive only, and that it seeks a peaceful and harmonious environment in which its economy can grow and prosper, the admiral said. But the Chinese military has increased its capabilities in power projection and in asymmetric and conventional forces.

"That ambiguity that currently exists, and our attempts to reconcile that, are the security issue that we hope to tackle in a military-to-military dialogue with our [Chinese] counterparts," Willard said.

Gregson said the department is particularly concerned about Chinese developments in the nuclear arena, cyberspace and space.

The military-to-military relationship with China is important and must be nourished, the admiral said, and a good dialogue between the United States and China will help spread security throughout Asia.

"It's the reason for our emphasis to the Chinese on the need for continuity, some constancy in terms of that dialogue," he said. "We think that it's lagging behind the other engagements between our nation and the People's Republic of China." The Defense Department must speed up its engagement to match corresponding U.S. efforts on the economic and political levels, he added.

The United States will maintain its presence in the Asia-Pacific region "as robustly as we have in the past as we continue to engage the Chinese in dialogue and, hopefully, foster an improved relationship and get to some of the ambiguities," the admiral said.

Gregson said U.S. engagement with China and U.S. engagement with the region are inseparable.

"Our consistent and increased engagement with the region, our enhancements of our alliances and partnerships there -- not only in the East Asian region but, increasingly, through the Indian Ocean area -- will be essential to us shaping the environment that will allow us to also shape or develop cooperative, comprehensive relationships with the Chinese," he said.     (Issued on: Jan 13, 2010)


Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard
Related Sites:
U.S. Pacific Command
State Department Background Note on China

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Battleship Missouri Memorial back

 Tugboats guide the Battleship Missouri Memorial back to its pier at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Jan. 7, 2010, following three-months and $18 million of preservation and maintenance repairs at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, U.S. Navy/Released)

Friday, January 08, 2010

press conference at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq

U.S. Army Col. Peter Newel, the commanding officer of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, fields a question during a briefing and press conference at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq, Jan. 5, 2010. The conference was held to inform members of the media on security for upcoming elections. (DoD photo by Spc. Gavriel Bar-Tzur, U.S. Army/Released)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Teams Help to Awaken Laws of Mesopotamia

By Army Capt. John Landry
Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq :  "The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept."
This passage in William Shakespeare's play "Measure for Measure" describes the current state of the judicial system in southern Iraq, the birthplace of the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia and home to Hammurabi's Code, one of the world's earliest sets of written laws.

Now, with help from provincial reconstruction teams manned by U.S. Forces Iraq and the U.S. State Department, modern-day Iraq is in the process of reawakening its judicial system after years of oppression, war and neglect.

In the southern provinces of Dhi Qar, Maysan, and Muthanna, the mission of advising and assisting falls to the Army's 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, in Task Force Pathfinder. As part of one project, the soldiers provided 50 evidence-collection kits and training to Iraqi police. Even this simple program has shown great results, with a marked rise in the use of forensic evidence in cases rather than confessions and testimonials alone.

But it takes more than modern investigative techniques to restore a functioning judicial system. A lack of adequate infrastructure in southern Iraq also is a factor. Though Iraq's central government has built some courthouses, others remain incomplete, abandoned due to budget shortfalls.

The Al Fijir Courthouse in northern Dhi Qar is one example. Originally started by the Dhi Qar provincial council, the building was abandoned after funding dried up.
As a result, court hearings were diverted outside of the district, putting a strain on the neighboring courts and causing numerous delays in prosecution.

Tapping into Commander's Emergency Response Program funds, the task force was able to get the Al Fijir Courthouse construction back on schedule. "It will allow judicial procedures to be properly executed, ... affecting over 300,000 people," said Army 1st Lt. Phillip Martin, the project officer.

Army Sgt. 1st. Class Samuel Encinias, a project manager with Task Force Pathfinder, expounded on the significance of the courthouse renovation.

"It has increased the number of court cases the province completes, because it allows them to perform their daily functions," he said. "It is important for the Iraqi people to see local crimes handled by an impartial, local judge."

Since the project's materials and labor are obtained locally, it also stimulates the local economy.

The Dhi Qar provincial reconstruction team's rule-of-law advisor, Luca Costa, works to develop the judicial system on a parallel track, creating partnerships with law students and professors at An Nasiriyah University's Law School, bringing in Italian legal experts to conduct classes on important constitutional issues, while reinforcing open communication between the police who investigate crimes and the investigative judges who prosecute them.

Through constant interaction, Costa discovered the need for a consolidated, accessible location for legal information relevant to the needs of Dhi Qar. Using State Department grants used to address essential social needs, he created a Web site to make pertinent legal information in Arabic readily accessible. "We aim to open the door and encourage them to discover the information out there," Costa said.

Initiatives like these, combined with rule-of-law seminars hosted by judge advocate general officers from the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade provincial reconstruction team rule-of-law advisors are helping to fill the voids in the Iraqi judicial system.

Through such mentorship, training and reconstruction efforts, Iraqis are steadily moving closer to regaining the impartial, efficient legal system that is critical to sustaining the progress made in the region, said Army Lt. Col. Michael Eastman, Task Force Pathfinder commander.

"After so many years of war and sectarian violence, it is critical that we do all we can to leave behind a fair, functioning judicial system," he said. "The equality of all Iraqis before the law is a fundamental principle that will go a long way toward safeguarding the progress made in this country."

(Army Capt. John Landry of the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team serves with Task Force Pathfinder.)
Related Sites:
U.S. Forces Iraq