‘Walking blood banks’ fill gap for medical care in field environment

Sgt. Charles Moncayo, 82nd Airborne Division Band, get his blood drawn as part of the low titer O testing at a blood drive hosted by the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY), June 7, 2019. The XVIII Airborne Corps is identifying Soldiers with blood type O who have low levels of antibodies in their blood. These individuals have the ability to provide an immediate blood donation to an injured person of any blood type that needs a transfusion at or near the point of injury.

The XVIII Airborne Corps and the Armed Services Blood Program are partnering to identify Soldiers with blood type O who have low levels of antibodies in their blood. These individuals have the ability to provide an immediate blood donation to an injured person of any blood type that needs a transfusion at or near the point of injury.

“We are taking individuals with type O blood, who are already considered universal donors for packed red blood cells, and testing the levels of antibodies in their blood,” said Lt. Col. Melanie Sloan, director, Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center. “Everyone has antibodies. They are naturally occurring and can attach themselves to transfused blood cells. The titer testing helps identify individuals with lower levels of these antibodies.”

The Army is currently using the standard of 1 to 256 for the level of antibodies in the individuals identified as low titer O. When a person with blood type A or B needs blood and is receiving blood from a type O donor, the lower level of antibodies will make it easier for the body to accept the different blood type. Low titer O blood can be given to anyone in need, regardless of their blood type.

1st Lt. Robert Blough, the physician assistant for the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY) and a former Special Forces medical sergeant, arranged for Soldiers in his unit to get tested for low titer O and also helps with mobile training teams to teach others how to perform field blood transfusions. He said he is passionate about implementing this program across the force because he has seen first-hand how it can save a life.

“In 2007, I had an Iraqi get shot in lower abdominal area,” said Blough. “He was bleeding out internally, not overly fast, but there was nothing I could do to stop the bleeding inside him. The MEDEVAC got delayed. We were sitting on a mountaintop with this guy and I did not have the ability to transfuse blood to save his life.”

Blough said that experience led him to volunteer for the working group spearheading the efforts to identify and screen fresh whole blood donors within the XVIII Abn. Corps.

The ability to transfuse blood while on the battlefield or at a remote location is hardly new and its effectiveness has been proven throughout history.

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Esper creates task force to deal with cancer-causing chemicals on military installations

On his first full day as secretary of defense, Mark Esper has signed a memo establishing a task force to deal with cancer-causing chemicals found on military bases.

The purpose, he told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday, is to “address all the key areas” of the military’s response to the presence of harmful chemicals used in firefighting foam.

The chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid and/or perfluorooctane sulfonate have been found to have caused contamination at more than 230 military installations, according to an environmental advocacy group. The Environmental Working Group says that harmful levels have been detected in groundwater or drinking water sources of the fluorinated compounds, known collectively as PFAS.

An additional 44 civilian airports are included that are also used by Air National Guard units, according to the group.

Esper said the new task force will address a wide range of issues resulting from the contamination, “whether it’s cleanup, whether it’s finding an alternative for the current firefighting, you name it,” said Esper. “It will include the military department and our health affairs folks.”

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US military aims to ensure safe passage of American commercial ships in Persian Gulf

The U.S. military intends to protect American commercial ships against Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz but will not provide naval escorts in every case, the newly installed defense secretary said Wednesday.

The aim of the U.S. naval and air presence in the Gulf area is to deter Iran from threatening to stop or seize any American commercial ship, Mark Esper told reporters on his first full day as Pentagon chief.

Esper, who previously served as the Army’s top civilian official, was confirmed by the Senate and sworn at the White House on Tuesday, ending a seven-month absence of a confirmed defense secretary.

He indicated that addressing the Iran issue is one of his first priorities. Threats to navigation in the Gulf have become an international issue in recent months as Iran has responded to increased U.S. economic sanctions that have strangled its oil exports.

Last week Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Afterward, U.S. Central Command said it began extra U.S. aerial patrols. Also last week, the U.S. Navy said it destroyed one, and possibly two, Iranian drones that had made what the Navy called threatening moves against the amphibious assault ship Boxer in the Strait.

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DOD releases 2020 budget proposal

March 12, 2019 —
“Today, the Department of Defense rolls out our FY 2020 budget proposal. With the largest research and development request in 70 years, this strategy-driven budget makes necessary investments in next-generation technology, space, missiles, and cyber capabilities. The operations and capabilities supported by this budget will strongly position the US military for great power competition for decades to come.”

~Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan

On March 11, 2019, President Donald J. Trump sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget request of $750 billion for national security, $718.3 billion of which is for the Department of Defense (DoD). The FY 2020 Budget maintains momentum from the sustained funding increases enacted in FY 2017, FY 2018, and FY 2019 to repair damaged readiness, and the Budget marks a key next step in how we operationalize the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

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Mold and vermin: Military housing problems in the spotlight — again

The Pentagon is scrambling to assess conditions at military housing nationwide, but complaints about mold, vermin and other troubles aren’t new to military families in Hampton Roads.

Concerns in the region have been documented for years. The Navy enacted reforms after mold incidents across the region several years ago. Separately, mold problems in Navy housing have triggered lawsuits.

Now the Defense Department has mounted a full-court press at bases around the country. An investigative series by Reuters documented squalid conditions and a non-partisan survey caught the attention of Congress. Last month, a marathon Senate hearing featured military spouses who described black mold, termites falling from light fixtures and housing providers that failed to respond.

Crystal Cornwall, a Marine spouse, broke down in tears as she told of problems at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. “I wouldn’t recommend my own children join the service and my husband’s been a Marine for 12 years,” she said.

Housing companies and military leaders told senators they would do a better job.

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Pentagon scientists are making talking plasma laser balls for use as non-lethal weapons

Talking lasers and endless flashbangs: Pentagon develops plasma tech

Instead of beaming a flashing light or shouting over a loudspeaker to keep people away from sensitive areas, new technology being developed could allow troops to fire a laser that can form a “plasma ball” that talks to the potential intruders.

The Laser Induced Plasma Effect program is part of the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate program to find ways to deter, stun, basically stop adversaries short of killing them.

Use of directed energy, or lasers, includes heating up a target’s skin to extremely uncomfortable levels without burning them, blasting confusing noises or giving voice commands such as, “Stop or we’ll be forced to fire upon you.”

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American Legion secured a 24-hour guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 82 years ago today

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery has been constantly guarded for more than 80 years.

On July 2, 1937, approval was granted for 24-hour guarding of the tomb — even in situations of hazardous weather conditions. The change came following efforts from the American Legion for nonstop oversight.

The American Legion has played a significant role in the tomb’s history. When American Legion founder Hamilton Fish was elected in 1920 after World War I, he introduced legislation to remember an unknown soldier who was buried in France. Then-President Warren G. Harding dedicated the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1921 in the presence of Allied generals and American Legion members, according to the veterans group.

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Sea Breeze exercise underway in the Black Sea with Ukraine, NATO allies

About 3,000 troops from 19 countries are taking part in military drills in the Black Sea, an exercise that has raised concerns in Russia.

The 12-day Sea Breeze 2019 exercise, involving Ukraine, the U.S., a dozen other NATO allies and a few other nations, began Monday in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. It will involve 32 warships and 24 aircraft.

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SEAL war crimes suspect not guilty on murder charge

More than nine months after he was charged with murder, attempted murder and a string of other alleged war crimes tied to a 2017 deployment in Iraq, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher strolled out of a Naval Base San Diego courtroom a free man, guilty only of appearing in an inappropriate photograph.

Military prosecutors had accused Gallagher, 40, of stabbing to death a seriously wounded Islamic State prisoner of war on May 3, 2017 in a SEAL compound near Mosul, but a military panel composed mostly of combat-tested Marine officers disagreed and found for the chief.

Several junior petty officers in Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 also alleged that he had shot at least two civilians from a sniper perch and later tried to cover up his actions, but jurors tossed those charges, too.

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Tuskegee Airman receives diploma 80 years after high school

A Missouri man who was unable to finish high school but went on to serve as crew chief for the famed Tuskegee Airmen has received an honorary diploma nearly 80 years after leaving high school.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reports that James Shipley got the diploma in a Sunday ceremony.

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