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Archives: Sep. 2009


A cross-Pacific partnership

RICHLAND — ­ To learn how to better secure their country’s most important deepwater port, visitors from Thailand traveled to the baked desert of central Washington, thanks to a program that links Washington National Guardsmen with their counterparts from Asia.

A group of about 25 people ­ Thai bureaucrats, first responders, and U.S. military officials ­ toured the Hammer Training Facility at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation last week. There, they learned about a range of training courses, such as how to scan for traces of radiation to properly scrub down chemical suits after cleaning up a hazardous spill.

Friday’s visit was one of dozens in Washington and Thailand each year through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, which links each of the 50 states with a different country. The program has received little notice but hopes to strengthen military, government and civilian ties between the U.S. and its allies.

“This is all about building relationships from the ground up,” said Army Maj. Wil Johnston, the program director for the Washington National Guard, whose office is at Camp Murray south of Tacoma. “We take what we know and we share it with them. We’re training their trainers so it has that ripple effect.”

Washington has partnered with Thailand since 2002 to help train its civilian and military officials in activities that National Guard units specialize in when they’re not off fighting wars: emergency management, disaster planning, port security, hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction response and airport security.

The partners participated in a string of exercises in February. Thai first responders reacted to hazardous-material spills and mock attacks to the Port of Laem Chabang with a “dirty bomb” ­ a conventional bomb packed with radioactive material.

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Local links, Sept. 30

Today’s local links start with a smart analysis in the Washington Post that leads with a troop layout of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (even though the unit isn’t named).

Other local links:

Fort Lewis
US Army Moves Ahead with BCT Facilities Construction in CONUS [Defense Industry Daily]

4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment:
Magnificent Seven [Red Bluff Daily News]

Western Cadet Command
IUP ROTC cadet earns top honors in national competition [Indiana Gazette]

62nd and 446th Airlift Wings:
No more hibernation for Operation Deep Freeze [Air Force Times]

446th Airlift

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Local links, Sept. 29

The Seattle Times’ Hal Bernton has embedded with the troops of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Hal has been in Afghanistan for the past month or so on assignment for McClatchy Newspapers, and he’s done some really good work so far. The 5th Brigade has more or less been akin to a news black hole, so it’s great to see one of the best reporters in the area have a chance to embed with them.

His first dispatch from the assignment is a blog post about a patrol in the Arghandab River Valley.

Other local links:

3rd Brigade, 2nd

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3/2 soldiers find weapons caches

The troops of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division found three weapons caches last week.

Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment and Iraqi security forces discovered the weapons during joint reconnaissance missions near Al Byaa in Diyala province last week, according to a press release.

The caches included 108 mortar fuses, six mortat boosters, an 82mm mortar body, a 62mm mortar body, a rocket-propelled grenade booster, an explosive charge with blasting cap and initiator, a mortar sight, a DShK round, an M-67 hand grenade and an oxygen tank.

“The discovery of these caches prevented violence in Diyala province,” brigade spokeswoman

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Plenty of milbucks

Today’s Washington contracts:

M.A. Mortenson Co., Minneapolis, Minn., was awarded on Sept. 24, 2009 a $26,885,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This is a design/build project for company operations facilities supporting the Brigade Combat Team Complex Increments 3 and 4 at Fort Lewis, Wash. Work is to be performed in Fort Lewis, Wash., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 29, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, Seattle, Wash., is the contracting activity.
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A tough time in Afghanistan

The 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division has lost 10 soldiers since it deployed to Afghanistan in July.

Here’s how it compares with other battalions from Fort Lewis Stryker brigades that have deployed since 2003. All deployments, with the exception of 5th Brigade, have been to Iraq.

3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (2003-04): 20
1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment: 5
2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment: 4
1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment: 3
296th Brigade Support Battalion: 3
5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment: 3
334th Signal Company: 1

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A loss for the veteran community

The Seattle Times wrote this weekend about Ryan Job, a former Navy SEAL from Issaquah who was blinded from a sniper’s bullet and later became a spokesman for wounded veterans across the country. He died last week after an eight-hour surgery to rebuild his face.

I had a chance to talk to Job last year shortly before he climbed Mount Rainier with the folks of Camp Patriot, a nonprofit group that helps disabled veterans with outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, snowmobiling and mountaineering.

Job was a remarkable guy. If you get a chance, take some time to

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