26 July 2007

CPT Paul Morton, commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, native of Fullerton, Calif., speaks with local elders of Jazira, a village within the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad's Adhamiyah District. The meeting allows Morton to gauge how residents feel about coalition forces because the elders are respected members of the community who represent their people's interests.
Pic: SPC Leith Edgar

Friends to the End

SGT Rolf Blum, of Colton, Calif., grieves while gazing at the memorial display for SGT Eric Holke, his comrade and friend. Holke, of Riverside, Calif., died from wounds sustained in a non-combat related accident south of An Nasariyah, Iraq. Blum and Holke mobilized to Kuwait in June 2007 with the 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, California National Guard to support Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing security operations for supply and material convoys moving into Iraq.
Pic: SFC Paul Tuttle

2LT Andrew Walko (background), a native of Great Falls, Va., native and 1st Platoon leader for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, watches a resident of Ur, a neighborhood in Baghdad's Adhamiyah District. The paratroopers went door to door to gather information from residents who are being terrorized criminal militia.
Pic: SPC Leith Edgar

U.S. Army Soldier Spc. Raymond Henriquez and other Soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, get ready for a combined cordon and search with the Iraqi police in the west Rashid District of Baghdad, Iraq.
Pic: SGT Tierney Nowland

U.S. Army Soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, pull security in an alley in the west Rashid District of Baghdad, Iraq, during a combined cordon and search with the Iraqi police.
Pic: SGT Tierney Nowland

23 July 2007

Injured Iraq war veterans file suit

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

Frustrated by delays in health care, a coalition of injured Iraq war veterans is accusing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment.

The class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco, seeks broad change in the agency as it struggles to meet growing demands from veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans, it charges that the VA has failed warriors on several fronts — from providing prompt disability benefits, to adding staff to reduce wait times for medical care to boosting services for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The lawsuit also accuses the VA of deliberately cheating some veterans by allegedly working with the Pentagon to misclassify PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders to avoid paying out benefits. The VA and Pentagon have generally denied such charges.

VA spokesman Matt Smith said Monday he could not comment on a pending lawsuit. But he said the agency is committed to meeting the special needs of Iraq war veterans.

"Through outreach efforts, the VA ensures returning Global War on Terror service members have access to the widely recognized quality health care they have earned including services such as prosthetics or mental health care," he said. "VA has also given priority handling to their monetary disability benefit claims."

The lawsuit comes amid intense political and public scrutiny of the VA and Pentagon following reports of shoddy outpatient care of injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and elsewhere.

"Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families, and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system," the complaint states.

It asks that a federal court order the VA to make immediate improvements that would speed disability payments, ensure fairness in awards and provide more complete access to mental health care.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in San Francisco issued a strong rebuke of the VA in ordering the agency to pay retroactive benefits to Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and contracted a form of leukemia.

"The performance of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has contributed substantially to our sense of national shame," the opinion from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals read.

Nicholson abruptly announced last week he would step down by Oct. 1 to return to the private sector. He has repeatedly defended the agency during his 2 1/2-year tenure while acknowledging there was room for improvement.

More recently, following high-profile suicide incidents in which families of veterans say the VA did not provide adequate care, Nicholson pledged to add mental health services and hire more suicide-prevention coordinators.

Some veterans say those measures aren't enough. In the lawsuit, they note that government investigators warned as early as 2002 that the VA needed to fix its backlogged claims system and make other changes.

Yet, the lawsuit says, Nicholson and other officials still insisted on a budget in 2005 that fell $1 billion short, and they made "a mockery of the rule of law" by awarding senior officials $3.8 million in bonuses despite their role in the budget foul-up.

Today, the VA's backlog of disability payments is now between 400,000 and 600,000, with delays of up to 177 days to process an initial claim and an average of 657 days to process an appeal. Several congressional committees and a presidential commission are now studying ways to improve care.

"While steps can and will be taken in the political arena, responsibility for action lies with the agency itself," said Melissa W. Kasnitz, managing attorney for Disability Rights Advocates, in a telephone interview. Her group is teaming up with a major law firm, Morrison & Foerster, to represent the veterans.

"We don't believe the problems will be fixed by the VA if we wait for them," she said. "In the meantime, it is veterans who risk their lives for our country who are suffering the consequences."

The lawsuit cites violations of the Constitution and federal law, which mandates at least two years of health care to injured veterans.

The veterans groups involved in the lawsuit are Veterans for Common Sense in Washington, D.C., which claims 11,500 members, and Veterans United for Truth, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., with 500 members.

19 July 2007

SPC Robert Mulkey (left), a medic who hails from New Orleans, and SGT Raul Ortiz, a native of Palmdale, Calif., hand out school supplies to Iraqi children at Fira Shia, Iraq.
Pic: SSG Jon Cupp

SPC Clinton Egge (foreground), a field artilleryman for Battery B, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, and native of Houston, Texas, pulls security as sheiks from the Aqar Qaf nahia arrive for a meeting in Aqar Qaf, Iraq.
Pic: SSG Jon Cupp

Newly promoted Staff Sgt. Crystal Jones of the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), or 1st Theater Sustainment Command, is glad that her family could share her promotion with her, even if they were thousands of miles away. Jones, a Woodbridge, Va., native is deployed in support of U.S. Army Central in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her husband Marcus, 9 year-old Marcus II, Nathan, 7, and Zachary, 4, watched the ceremony by video conference from Fort Bragg, N.C.
Pic: SGM Richard Greene

18 July 2007

A CH-47 Chinook from Company B, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, sling loads a UH-60 Black Hawk that was being transported for repairs to another forward operating base.
Pic: SFC Rick Emert

An Iraqi army soldier a U.S. Soldier, attached to 1st Battalion 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, prepare to clear a building in Arab Jabour, southern Baghdad, Iraq, during Operation Marne Torch. Operation Marne Torch is a joint sweeping operation through Arab Jabour as part of an effort to halt the movement of weapons and explosives into the capital.
Pic: SPC Olaurewaju Akinwunmi

13 July 2007

Military Leadership Disorder

Questionable Treatment for Some Iraq Heroes
Veteran Care Under Review as More Than 22,000 Are Discharged With 'Pre-Existing' Personality Disorder, Which Some Say Developed During War.
Army Spc. Jonathan Town is back home in Ohio now, but still very much at war.
"When you see bits and pieces of actual people or people bleeding to death or anything, it's very unsettling. It's something you'll never be able to forget. Period," Town told ABC News' Bob Woodruff. Since his discharge in 2006, Town has not only dealt with the emotional scars of war, but he has also found himself at the center of a national debate on mental health care for veterans as a crowd as diverse as singer Dave Matthews and members of Congress has questioned how 22,000 veterans were diagnosed and discharged since 2001.

In Town's case, the discharge came two years after he was injured in an attack. In the fall of 2004, a 107 mm rocket ripped through his unit's headquarters in Ramadi, exploding two feet above Town's head and knocking him unconscious.

The rocket blast left Town with hearing loss, headaches, memory problems, anxiety and insomnia. For his wounds, he was awarded the Purple Heart.

But when he returned to the states seeking treatment for those very wounds, the Army quickly discharged him, asserting his problems had been caused not by the war but by a personality disorder that predated his military career.

A Quick Way Out

It is known as a "Chapter 5-13" — "separation because of personality disorder." The Army defines it as a pre-existing "maladaptive pattern of behavior of long duration" that interferes with the soldier's ability to perform his duties.

In practical terms, this diagnosis means the personality disorder existed before military service, and therefore medical care and disability payments are not the military's responsibility. But some veterans and veterans' advocates have been vocal in their belief that personality disorder is being misdiagnosed in combat veterans.

"A significant percentage of the ones who are discharged with personality disorder truly have it, but there is another percentage that are put out simply to eliminate them from military service. … It's done maliciously or as some sort of a policy," said Russell K. Terry, founder of the veterans' advocacy organization, Iraq War Veterans Organization.

Since 2001, more than 22,000 servicemen and women from all branches of the military have been separated under the personality disorder discharge, according to figures provided by the Department of Defense.

Donald Louis Schmidt of Chillicothe, Ill., was being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder after his second combat tour in Iraq. His commanders at Fort Carson later decided he was no longer mentally fit and discharged him with personality disorder.

"They just slapped me with that label to get me out quicker," Schmidt said. He said superiors told him "'Everything will be great. Peachy keen.' Well, it's not."

The discharge left Schmidt ineligible for disability pay and benefits. He was also required to return more than $10,000 of his $15,000 reenlistment bonus, but he said no one explained that to him until it was too late.

"If I didn't have family, I'd be living on the sidewalk," Schmidt said.

"It's not right that they would do this to him after him going to war for us," Schmidt's mother, Patrice Semtner-Myers, said. "They threw him away. They're done with him. He's no use to them anymore so they say, 'We're done. … Thanks for nothing.'"

Schmidt and Town say Army doctors misled them about the consequences of the personality disorder discharge. Town said he was told he would receive his benefits and it would be like a medical discharge, only quicker.

In the course of reporting this story, ABC News spoke with 20 Iraq War veterans who believe they were misdiagnosed with personality disorder.

A Marine who preferred not to be named said, "Most docs won't diagnose you with PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder] because the military has to treat you for the rest of your life."

On the day he was discharged in the fall, Town met with Jeff Peskoff, a civilian employee in the personnel office at Fort Carson in Colorado, and learned he owed the Army $3,000 to repay his enlistment bonus.

"At some points it looked like he wanted to cry and at some point he looked like he wanted to rip my head off," Peskoff said.

Peskoff, who served 10 years in the Army, including a tour of Iraq, recently quit his job in disgust and is now speaking publicly for the first time.

"If you have a combat tour and you are getting labeled as a personality disorder, there is something wrong. &0133; It's a lie," Peskoff said. "It's a quick way to get rid of that body and bring in another body. And it's a quick way to save money."

In the span of several months, Peskoff said he processed the personality disorder discharges of Schmidt, Town and hundreds of other combat veterans he believed were actually suffering physical and psychological trauma because of the war.

"They [Army officials] are basically washing their hands of them," Peskoff said.

Fort Carson officials declined to talk to ABC News about this story. The Government Accountability Office is currently investigating Fort Carson as part of a larger study of mental health services for veterans.

Army Leadership Failure

Former soldier Ronald Backhaus of Yorkshire, Ohio, returned from Iraq with sleeping problems and depression he masked with drinking. After he wrecked his car while drunk, Backhaus was institutionalized. "My first sergeant said right in front of me, 'Get rid of him as soon as you can.' They started out-processing and I was out in month," Backhaus said. "I think about it everyday, I wish I was in Iraq. The excitement, thrill, I felt like I was doing good stuff," Backhaus said. Backhaus owes $3,900 collecting 28 percent interest. "Do people with a blown off leg have to pay?" Backhaus asked.
(Ronald Backhouse)

Army Leadership Failure

Doug Barber deployed to Iraq in July 2003 as an experienced Army truck driver and mechanic. The military discharged him in January 2004 for "personality disorder," saying he was suicidal. When he returned home, Barber fought to prove he actually suffered from PTSD even as his condition deteriorated. By the time the VA concluded that he did indeed have PTSD and arranged to award him his complete benefits, it was too late. In January 2006, Barber committed suicide. "Each day is a challenge with so many tears and a pain that will forever live within my heart," his mother, Martha Moore, said. She hopes that if any good can come out of the situation, her son's story can help other veterans get the care they deserve.
(Russ Terry)

Army Leadership Failure

"I've never been in trouble in my life. All of my NCOs (noncommissioned officers) wanted to snag me up because they saw how hard I worked," former soldier Spencer Zitzevancih from Colorado Springs, Colo., said. After two tours of duty in Iraq, Zitzevancih came home with depression and thoughts of suicide. Army officials hospitalized him and later asked him if it would help him to be out of the military and he said yes. "The Army wants to save money on benefits," Zitzevancih said. He said he is "OK with the discharge. My problem would be that the Army lied. Personality disorder is a lifelong problem with personality and I didn't have that."
(Spencer Zitzevancih)

Army Leadership Failure

Former National Guardsman William Wooldridge of Blitheville, Ark., suffered hallucinations, panic attacks and nightmares during his Iraq deployment in 2003. Wooldridge was haunted by several near-death experiences and an incident in which a young girl was pushed in front of his truck. "She looked like my daughter," Wooldridge said. Wooldridge said he was told to take a mental health test and answer at "one extreme or the other." He was later diagnosed by the VA with extreme PTSD. After a long fight and help from a congressman, Wooldridge's discharge was changed to secretarial authority. "They were not interested in what was wrong with me, just getting rid of me the easiest, cheapest way they could," Wooldridge said.
(William Wooldridge)

Army Leadership Failure

Jeans Cruz of Bronx, N.Y., helped capture Saddam Hussein in his days as an Army scout. In the spring of 2005, Cruz suffered from anxiety, depression, flashbacks and nightmares and was discharged with personality disorder. A VA psychologist diagnosed him with chronic PTSD, but they denied his request for benefits. After two years of fighting, Cruz has received 70 percent payments with back pay but the disability rating could change. "Once veterans come out with a medical discharge, they shouldn't have to be fighting for what they deserve," Cruz said.
(Jeans Cruz)

Army Leadership Failure

Christopher Mosier, a former soldier from Des Moines, Iowa, witnessed an explosion in Iraq in which several of his friends burned to death. He came home suffering from schizophrenic-type delusions. He was diagnosed with personality disorder and discharged in the spring of 2006. After paying back his signing bonus, he left base with a debt of $1,712. Mosier died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Oct. 2, 2006. Linda Mosier does not believe her son had a personality disorder. "They take a normal kid, he comes back messed up, then nobody was there for him when he came back," Linda said. "They discharged him so they didn't have to treat him."
(Linda Mosier)

Army Leadership Failure

SPC Nicholas Jackson said he was diagnosed after a 45-minute meeting with a psychologist. After coming home, Jackson's marriage fell apart, he went AWOL and was less-than-honorably discharged. His mother told ABC News her son suffered traumatic brain injury from an IED explosion and has headaches, bizarre behavior, balance problems, back/feet numbness, insomnia and is easily frustrated. "It's very difficult for him, he's trying to find his way back…they treated it like they're behavior issues," Glenda Jackson said. "I'm picking up the pieces that my country gave us. But Nicholas saw changes and he saw a difference there. I'm behind everyone that's there."
(Glenda Jackson)

12 July 2007

Marine Heroes of Haditha

Marine Heroes of Haditha
Need Your Help!

An Urgent Message from Christopher Ruddy
Editor - NewsMax.com

Dear NewsMax Reader:

Three brave Marines urgently need your help.

You may have heard of these Marines associated with an incident in Haditha, Iraq - an incident that has put them under threat of a court martial, perhaps leading to life imprisonment on unjustified charges of murder.

We at NewsMax have reported the truth about this case for over the past year with comprehensive coverage from our correspondent Phil Brennan. We believe a grave injustice has been committed against these hero Marines.

In fact, just this week an investigating officer conducting an Article 32 hearing - the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing - in the case of one of the three Marines, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, issued a report indicating that Sharratt should be exonerated and not subjected to a court martial. [You can help these Marines with their legal defense - Go Here Now.]

Here is some background on these courageous young men, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

In a first tour of duty in Iraq, two of these Marines, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, 26, and Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, 22, fought fearlessly in the second battle of Fallujah, a small city in al Anbar province north of Baghdad known as the Sunni Triangle.

This battle, in November 2004, was one of the fiercest and bloodiest engagements in the long and proud history of the Marine Corps, and earned both Sharratt and Tatum the admiration and respect of their fellow Marines in the 3rd battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, the storied "Thundering Third."

Both Tatum and Sharratt were at the infamous "Hell House" fight at Fallujah immortalized in Nat Helms book "My Men are My Heroes." In this vicious battle wounded Marines fended off a fierce guerilla attack for almost 24 hours.

In all, Sharratt and Tatum's "Thundering Third" claimed more than 1,000 enemy combatant kills during its second deployment to Iraq during 2004.

In the days before and after that bloody incident, Sharratt and Tatum fought side-by-side in the terrifying street-by-street, house-by-house fight to cleanse that city of the al-Qaida thugs terrorizing Fallujah.

In their second tour of duty, this time in insurgent-controlled Haditha, they faced an enemy lurking in the shadows among the civilian population, on the lookout for a chance to ambush Marines or kill them with hidden explosive IEDs or sniper fire.

On Nov. 19, 2005 an IED exploded under a Humvee killing the driver Miguel Terrazas and wounding two other members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, James Crossan and Salvador Guzman.

The surviving Marines then came under fire from two houses near the site of the explosion.

Almost immediately, a white sedan came on the scene and 3rd Battalion Marine Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, aware from an intelligence briefing that had warned of an impending ambush involving a white car, killed the occupants as they came out of the vehicle and they refused to stop when ordered to do so.

A rapid response team arrived on the scene 15 minutes after the IED explosion and the officer in command ordered Wuterich and his men to clear the two houses.

In the course of what became a fierce, door-to-door, full-day battle, 24 Iraqis were killed - at least eight insurgent terrorists were believed to be among them. But some civilians were clearly killed in the crossfire.

Despite the loss of civilian life, the military was satisfied the Marines had acted properly because an intelligence officer, Capt. Jeff Dinsmore, had carefully monitored the engagement.

Dinsmore kept a narrative complete with photos from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), transcripts of radio transmissions from the scene of action, and reports from some of the participants all the way up the command ladder.

Dinsmore's reports proved conclusively that the actions of the Marines were proper and justified.

Months later, in March of the next year, wild allegations began to surface that these Marines knowingly massacred innocent Iraqi civilians.

The hysteria against these Marines was set off by a Time magazine reporter whose only sources were known insurgent propagandists, civilian supporters of al-Qaida, or civilians intimidated by al-Qaida thugs.

On the basis of the Time story alone, and in the face of the fact that Time was forced to retract parts of the initial story four times, the media across the world reported that the Kilo Company Marines had gone on a rampage.

The Time report claimed Marines had massacred 24 innocent civilians on Nov. 19, 2005, in retaliation for the death by IED of one of their fellow Marines.

In response to the media charges and those echoed by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and the result of a badly bungled investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), the three heroes were falsely charged with a number of counts of murder. [You can help these Marines - Go Here Now.]

Since then, these Marine heroes and their parents have been living a life of total hell.

As it now stands, the three Marines have yet to be cleared and their future remains uncertain.

Of course, the legal defense costs for these Marines have placed an enormous burden on them and their families.

One defense lawyer estimated that by the time the prosecution is over, the Marines - defenders of freedom, with limited incomes and resources - will have incurred legal expenses amounting to $250,000 each.

That's why we are asking our readers to help these young brave Marines with their legal defense costs - you can do so by Going Here Now.

Already Stephen Tatum's parents say they have had to take out a second mortgage on their home to help pay just a fraction of the cost of their hero son's defense.

We will be forever indebted to these heroic young men and women who serve to protect us in Iraq - they do not deserve to be tortured with criminal allegations and overwhelming financial burdens.

Heroic Americans
Let me tell you about these young men whose extraordinary heroism and exceptional service to their country has been rewarded by totally unjustified charges of murder.

Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum hails from Oklahoma City, Okla.

He graduated from the Putnam City public schools. He enjoyed playing sports in grade school followed by football in high school.

His parents say Stephen has always had a positive attitude, and was well liked by his teachers and friends.

Stephen, they told NewsMax.com, is a religious person who enjoys going to church with family and friends. He always wanted to be a Marine and has served his country with great pride, honor, and dedication.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich was an honor student from Meriden, Conn., an active sportsman who played the trumpet in the school band and performed with the drama club.

While still in his senior year of high school, Frank enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

For the past eight years he has been an outstanding leader with many decorations and commendations.

Ironically before being charged with murder he had been recommended for the Bronze Star for the very actions at Haditha that resulted in the charges.

Frank is married to Marisol, a nursing student. They have three children. He has a passion for music.

Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt is a native of Washington, Pa.

His dad, Daryl Sharratt recalls that as a child, his son was captivated by the military. He built forts and military barriers with building blocks and had small armies of play soldiers. That interest continued into his teens.

An avid outdoorsman, he joined the Boy Scouts and spent numerous weekends camping on the shores of the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers. He has a passion for fishing.

At the age of 12, Justin joined the Navy Sea Cadets in South Bend, Ind., and attended his first boot camp at an Air Force Reserve installation in Wisconsin.

While attending Penn High School in Indiana, Justin played soccer, football, and roller hockey. While in 10th grade, Justin told his parents he was joining the Marines. He told his parents he wanted to be the best of the best.

When Justin was 17 years old, he enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program with the Marines. On July 28, 2003, just one month after his graduation from high school, he left for boot camp.

His parents say, "We are so proud of him. He is, and will always be, our hero."

They Need Your Help
These courageous Marines need your help and they need it now.

They've earned it and deserve it.

You can show your support for these great Americans by Going Here Now.

We are so strongly behind these Marines, NewsMax is making a $10,000 donation to help the three legal defense funds.

To make a donation send your gift to the Haditha Heroes Fund at NewsMax or Go Here Now and we will divide your donations between these three funds equally.

NewsMax will send all donations - every penny - to the aid of the Marines. NewsMax will even pay for all of the credit card processing costs that will incur.

Help us show America's appreciation for these fine young Marines and their selfless service to our country - Go Here Now.

Thank you.


Christopher Ruddy
Editor, NewsMax.com

11 July 2007

Ready for Iran

B-1B Lancers stand at the ready on the flight line at a forward deployed location. Carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory, the multi-mission B-1 is the backbone of America's long-range bomber force. It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time. Pic: Master Sgt. Ken Stephens

Soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and local Iraqi police inspect a car at a traffic control point in Husseiniyah. TCPs were set up along the route from Baghdad to Baqubah for extra security as the 3rd SBCT rolled through on their way to conduct operations in the Diyala province.
Pic: SGT Michael Tuttle

Air Force Master Sgt. Art Small, 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, works in the base's air control tower and helps coordinate the arrival and departure of all aircraft here, regardless of service. Pic: irman 1st Class Ashley Tyler

Royal Australian Air Force Cpl. Courtney Allford, a medical technician deployed here, completes a daily inspection of the Heart Start machine. The defibrillator helps treat patients who have gone into cardiac arrest. The RAAF has about 150 service members deployed here.Pic: SSG Cassandra Locke

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