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Archives: Feb. 2008

Feb.
25th

Welcome home 585th

The 585th Engineer Company returned home this morning after a 15-month tour in Afghanistan.


The 165-soldier company deployed in November 2006 and construction work on forward operating bases and roads, according to a Fort Lewis press release. Two of its soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Rocky Herrera, 43, and Sgt. Cory Clark, 25, were killed Aug. 28 in a suicide-bombing at a bridge where they were working.


The company is part of the 555th Engineer Brigade at Fort Lewis.

Feb.
21st

A win for open government on the .mil beat

The Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy reports today that the Army has changed its mind about blocking off public access to its unclassified library of doctrinal publications.


For some damn reason, the Army on Feb. 6 sealed its Reimer Digital Library behind a password-protected firewall. Nearly everything on the site is approved for public release, according to a Washington Post story today about the move.


The FAS followed today with a post that the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command has decided to re-open the site rather than have to produce the thousands

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Feb.
21st

More on the Warrior Transition Battalion

The story in today’s paper and online got trimmed a bit more than I had hoped. (I can hear you asking: we get the newshole thing in the print edition, but why trim a story that’s going to be online? The answer has to do with how the stories we’re going to run in the paper are published to the web via shovelware dump at like 0100 each morning … )

Anyway, so I’m posting here the slightly longer version that I filed to my editor, with a little bit more about the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, and some reaction from Sen. Patty Murray. (Click here to see Russ Carmack’s photos from yesterday’s tour.)

Meantime there are other places to read for more information about the Warrior Transition Units. An Army news service story yesterday announced a new “whole person” initiative in the units. It has this interesting wrinkle from Brig. Gen. Mike Tucker, the assistant surgeon general in charge of care in the transition units:

Also as of March 1, Tucker said, Soldiers in Warrior Transition Units will not be allowed to waste time playing video games or watching mindless cartoons during duty hours. They are still Soldiers in the Army, Tucker said, and their one mission is to heal: to go to their appointments, take their medications and now participate in cognitive-enhancing activities or a structured-work program, if able.

“We want them to return to duty or return to be a citizen in society and be successful and be proud of their service,” he said. “If we’re not careful, we’ll raise a generation, 10-15 years from now, that will be panhandling because they don’t have any life skills.

“It’s important that we give these kids life skills. They all want to be something in life, other than what they are right now. They have to aspire. We have to allow them to achieve all they can be and provide them the structure at a time in their lives when they need it the most.”

One area I didn’t get a chance to get into in my story was to follow up on the staffing problems outlined in a Government Accountability Office report back in September. It showed the Army was having great difficulty filling key nurse case-manager positions in the units.

Lewis and Madigan officials said the battalion there as of early January was fully staffed. They hired 72 civilian employees to various jobs, including social workers, an occupational therapist, logisticians and human resources specialists, since June.

Madigan spokeswoman Sharon Ayala said the battalion has 24 civilian nurse case-managers, eight of whom moved over to the battalion from Madigan. Another 15 are Army nurses who were sent in by the Army Human Resources Command in January.

My story:

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Feb.
19th

More about 4th Brigade soldiers killed in Iraq

The hometown papers have lots of coverage of the two young infantrymen killed Sunday in Diyala Province. Both 21. Both new fathers.


Spc. Luke S. Runyan of Spring Grove, Pa., is profiled in stories from the York Dispatch, the York Daily Record, and in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. There were also pictures posted here, I think from his Facebook page.


Spc. Chad D. Groepper of Kingsley, Iowa, is described in stories in the LeMars Daily Sentinel, the Sioux City Journal and the DesMoines Register.

Feb.
19th

Bird watching

Local airplane fans who were paying attention got a little thrill about 3:45 this afternoon, when three F-22 Raptors and a KC-10 tanker took off from McChord Air Force Base and flew out of here in formation to the northwest.


Don’t see that everyday at our humble little airlift landing strip, now do you?


The F-22 is the Air Force’s newest fighter. And jokesters would note that the KC-10 is the Air Force’s newest tanker – ha!


At any rate, nothing too sexy to it otherwise. A McChord spokeswoman says they were passing through and

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Feb.
15th

Tracking military and veterans bills in the Legislature

There’s a slew of stuff still alive in the Legislature that would affect veterans and military service members in some way shape or form. (I’ll have a story about some of them in the paper sometime over this President’s Day weekend.)


The state Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a list on its web site that includes links to each bill, with up-to-date information about its status.


Tuesday marks the cutoff for bills to get out of the house in which they were introduced. Otherwse, absent some parliamentary shenanigans, they’re dead until next year.


UPDATE: SB

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Feb.
13th

3rd Brigade’s monument to its fallen soldiers




Photo: Jason Kaye/Northwest Guardian



The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division unveiled its finished monument Wednesday outside brigade headquarters at Fort Lewis.


It’s a tribute to the 68 men and women who died in its two Iraq deployments, as well as others who died in training accidents prior to deployments, or who were members of units attached to the brigade while it was in Iraq.


The bronze work is by artist Gareth Curtiss, and is the finished article of

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Feb.
13th

Yon with Dubik

Independent blogger Michael Yon has an interesting piece about his recent dinner-interview with Lt. Gen. Jim Dubik, the former Fort Lewis commanding general now in charge of the effort to build and train Iraq’s security forces.

Yon notes that Dubik was in at the ground level of the creation of what would become the Stryker brigades, and in Yon’s view, that bodes well for Dubik’s chances as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq.

UPDATE: Yon says on his site that he was all set to get back up to Mosul but the trip was kyboshed at the last minute. Hmmm.

UPDATE UPDATE
: Looks like he made it.

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