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Military News Briefs for the Week of March 30, 2001

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2001 – (This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending March 30, 2001.)

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DOD, U.S. AGENCIES TEAM TO KEEP OUT FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE

DoD is working with the Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs to prevent foot-and-mouth disease, which has cropped up in Britain and Europe, from coming stateside.

Time-tested policies are in place to prevent the introduction of the disease to the United States, said Dr. (Lt. Col.) Robert D. Weir, chief of animal medicine at DoD's Veterinary Service Activity.

"Travelers need to be aware of and follow travel advisories and make sure they adhere to and comply with USDA guidelines," he said. He noted the disease was last seen in the United States in 1929.

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GULF WAR EXPERTS SAY TROOPS LIKELY SAFE AT TWO SITES

Analysts studying events surrounding the bombing of two chemical weapon sites said March 27 that no U.S. troops were exposed in one incident and it's likely none were in the other.

The Office of the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments released reports regarding events at Al Muthanna and Muhammadiyat. Both sites were Iraqi weapon storage sites destroyed by coalition bombing during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

Officials have determined that no U.S. forces were exposed to any type of chemical weapon as a result of coalition bombing at Al Muthanna on Feb. 8, 1991. They said possible exposure to agents released from Muhammadiyat is harder to pin down.

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PACIFIC CHIEF: CHINA COULD DAMAGE TAIWAN, BUT NOT HOLD IT

The security balance across the Taiwan Strait is stable, but China's military buildup threatens to tip the scale, according to the top U.S. military officer in the Pacific.

                          

"China is capable of causing damage to Taiwan," Adm. Dennis Blair told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee March 27. "It is not capable of taking and holding Taiwan."

                          

Certain issues must be addressed, however, to keep the region stable, the Pacific Command chief said. "There has to be an enhancement of Taiwan's capability through a combination of what they buy from us, what they manufacture themselves and what they buy from others," Blair said.

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FIRST LADY ASKS TROOPS TO BECOME TEACHERS

With the USS Shiloh and USS Decatur as a backdrop, first lady Laura Bush asked retiring service members to start a second career in teaching.

"You answered the call to serve your country in the finest armed forces in the world," she said March 23 to more than 1,000 sailors and Marines Naval Station San Diego. "As you prepare to leave the military, we ask you to turn your attention to the home front, to Uncle Sam's classrooms, where we need your service as teachers."

The first lady said her husband "intends to boost funding for Troops to Teachers from $3 million to $30 million to help skilled professionals continue to serve the country -- this time in our classrooms.

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DOD HAS ENOUGH BLOOD FOR CONTINGENCIES, SAYS OFFICIAL

There is sufficient stored blood for contingency use by U.S. troops stationed in Europe and Asia, a DoD official said.

Portions of a DoD inspector general report issued Feb. 26 that studied the availability of frozen military blood supplies "have been taken out of context," said Army Col. Glen. M. Fitzpatrick, director of the Armed Services Blood Program Office.

Based on a yearlong survey, the IG report noted that frozen-blood inventory shortages existed at some medical facilities in the Pacific, Fitzpatrick said. However, he emphasized, overall supplies in the Pacific are sufficient to meet anticipated wartime needs.

Also, he added, the U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command have reported their frozen blood inventories are adequate to support their operational plans in support of acontingency.

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