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Environmental planning while deployed: mission hinderance or enhancement?


Fires set by Iraqi forces prior to their withdrawal during Operation
Desert Storm blaze out of control outside Kuwait City

Environmental Planning While Deployed
Mission Hindrance or
Major LeeAnn Racz, USAF, is Director of the Graduate Environmental Engineering and Science Program at
the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Major Peter A. Baker, USMC, is
Deputy Head of the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Branch at Marine Corps Base Quantico,
Virginia. Captain Kelsey L. Duckworth, USMC, and Captain Tiffany R. Heline, USAF, are graduate students in
the Department of Systems Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology. Captain
Brian D. Woodall, USMC, is Deputy Director of the Environmental Management Division at Marine Corps
Installations East–Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina.

30 JFQ / issue 70, 3rd quarter 2013
RACZ et Al.
There is abundant doctrine sores, uncontrollable diarrhea, and extreme from soil, water, and air.11 Over 40 cases requiring planners and opera- fever among Athenians jammed together in from 1991 to 2006 were reported in which tors to consider environmental unsanitary conditions.5 In fact, World War I contingency-related incidents with negative protection in deployment marked the first time combat-related deaths environmental consequences actually or operations. Joint Publication (JP) 3-34, outnumbered deaths from DNBI. Even potentially affected the health of U.S. troops Joint Engineer Operations, for instance, then, a noted bacteriologist observed during or others. These instances had a profound outlines environmental considerations for preparations for World War I that "war effect on the military mission. For example, both domestic and foreign training and is . . 75% an engineering and sanitary a base camp that was poorly sited had to operations.1 Many commands have also problem, and less than 25% a military one. be dismantled and relocated, which dis- included an annex L in operation plans, The wise general will do what the engineers tracted the unit from its primary mission. which describes the overall environmental and sanitary officers let him."6 Nevertheless, In another case, a 300-gallon fuel tanker mission. However, these plans seldom these lessons have not been learned to the overturned at a U.S. camp, but the spill was include specific instruction or goals on the necessary extent. During the Soviet-Afghan not officially reported or properly marked. tactical level. In fact, although many lessons war in the 1980s, 67 percent of Soviets who Base planners had begun to construct sleep- from the Balkans and other contingency served in Afghanistan required hospitaliza- ing areas at the site until officials learned of operations have been documented and tion for a serious illness such as hepatitis, the spill. Construction had to be halted and studied, lessons are now being relearned in typhoid fever, plague, malaria, or cholera.7 started over at a new location.
the Iraq and Afghanistan operations.2 In During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Base camps generate large streams of addition, despite requirements to conduct Enduring Freedom from 2001 to 2006, evacu- waste. It is critical that this waste is managed environmental health site assessments prior ations for DNBI accounted for 35 percent properly to prevent contamination. Until to establishing base camps, they were not and 36 percent, respectively, of all medical recently, military bases in Iraq and Afghani- always completed during Operations Iraqi evacuation cases and were the largest single stan routinely used burn pits to dispose of Freedom and Enduring Freedom because category of evacuations for both operations.8 their solid waste. It is unclear exactly how commanders did not advise preventive medicine personnel where camps were being set up.3 This may be, at least in part, World War I marked the first time combat-related attributed to field commanders not being deaths outnumbered deaths from disease aware of the function of their preventive medicine assets.4 It should be noted that Final Governing Standards (FGS), or the In addition to communicable diseases, many burn pits were operated and for how Overseas Environmental Baseline Guid- other environmental conditions can lead long. Notwithstanding the lack of clear epi- ance Document (OEBGD) where FGS are to debilitating injuries. At least 25 percent demiological evidence linking burn pits with not available, currently do not apply to of the 697,000 who served in the 1991 Gulf respiratory and pulmonary diseases, these contingency military operations. However, War are afflicted with an enduring, chronic operations have been eyed as a potential policy is being drafted to extend the FGS or multisymptom il ness commonly known cause for these types of illnesses. As a result, OEBGD to contingency bases.
as "Gulf War Syndrome." Suggested causes Department of Defense Instruction 4715.19, There is a difference between an include exposures to potential neurotoxins "Use of Open-Air Burn Pits in Contingency environmental baseline study and an envi- (pyridostigmine bromide pil s, pesticides, Operations," now prohibits long-term use ronmental health site assessment, though and nerve agents), close proximity to oil of burn pits for certain kinds of waste and they are inextricably related. While an well fires, and receipt of multiple vaccines.9 authorizes their short-term use only when no environmental baseline study evaluates the Even more recently, a jury ordered a military alternative disposal method is feasible.
status of the environment, an environmental contractor to pay 12 U.S. Soldiers $85 mil ion health site assessment evaluates the impact in damages after failing to protect them from Combat Effectiveness and Mission
of the environment on the warfighter. In this exposure to hexavalent chromium, a known article, we discuss both studies as they are human carcinogen, that contaminated a Besides degradation of troop health key to successful military operations.
water treatment facility in Iraq.10 It is conceiv- and safety, failing to account for environ- able that had some of these environmental mental factors can have a detrimental effect Troop Health and Safety
conditions been assessed more careful y, they on meeting mission objectives. Forward History is rife with examples of disease could have been mitigated.
operating bases (FOBs) generate hazardous non-battle-related injuries (DNBI) being the JP 3-34 stresses the link between the wastes such as fuel, oil, other chemicals, and dominating causes of casualties in military physical health of military members and batteries. The 1989 Basel Convention on operations. Diseases associated with unsani- mission readiness by noting that "failure to the Control of Transboundary Movements tary conditions and close quarters such as recognize environmental threats can result of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal dysentery, typhoid fever, pneumonia, and in significant health risks to the JTF [joint prevents the United States from moving influenza were responsible for DNBI. As task force], adversely impacting readiness." hazardous wastes out of a country in a timely early as the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides These threats include endemic insect- or manner. As a result, they tend to accumulate documented vomiting, convulsions, painful rodent-borne disease as well as pollution at these sites and, if not sited or managed ndupress.ndu.edu issue 70, 3rd quarter 2013 / JFQ 31


Forum Environmental Planning While Deployed
mental practices. Due to strict environ- mental regulations in the United States, units conducting field training exercises are often required to bivouac in areas that have permanent lavatory facilities and water distribution and waste disposal systems. To make appropriate environmental practices part of a unit's culture, training facilities would better serve unit needs if personnel were allowed to construct and manage all aspects of an FOB including waste manage- ment. Such predeployment training would prepare military personnel better for deploy- ment operations.
Making the Case for Sustainability
Sustainability has become something of a buzzword, but it has real implications for enhancing military mission effective- ness. In this context, sustainability may be defined as "using processes that are non-polluting, conserving of energy and natural resources, economically efficient, [and] safe and healthful for workers."16 Naval medical personnel examine positive malaria blood smear at Naval Medical Research Unit, Callao, Peru
FOBs have become an important feature in the U.S. expeditionary warfighting strategy. Contingency bases in deployed properly, could hinder mission effectiveness. and trash is key to gaining support of the environments vary in size, mission, and For example, in Afghanistan, improperly population. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, duration, but all require significant logis- stored lithium batteries resulted in two fires attacks on soldiers were reduced in sections tics to supply water, fuel, and food, as well that released hazardous fumes, immediately of Baghdad where U.S. forces had provided at as to remove waste. For example, a 600- putting the health of nearby personnel at least some of these services.14 soldier FOB requires a convoy of 22 trucks risk. In Iraq, hazardous waste accumulation Failure to manage waste is counter- per day just to supply fuel and water and points were located near the base perimeter, productive to meeting both strategic and haul away wastewater and solid waste.17 making an attractive target for attack by tactical objectives. U.S. actions that are The costs to supply the FOBs are not only insurgents. Also in Iraq, American units used perceived as harmful to the environment dollars and manpower, but also the risk heavy construction equipment that damaged can cause friction between Americans and of attack against convoy personnel. There the fragile topsoil (cal ed desert pavement) nationals, which may promote instability remains an urgent need to improve FOB that created dust storms, leading to vis- and keep the United States from obtaining sustainability to reduce the need to convoy ibility, breathing, and vehicle-maintenance its political objectives. Therefore, diligent supplies in and the waste out.
problems. An appropriate environmental planning minimizing environmental Although official military doctrine assessment factoring the local soil and envi- impact must be conducted throughout all specifies that bottled drinking water be used ronmental conditions might have prevented operational phases. However, the military as a last resort, it is in reality the primary these problems.12 is frequently inadequately staffed, trained, source of drinking water at many FOBs. There Although there may be trash in the and equipped to deal with waste manage- is a perception that bottled water is safer, easier streets and pol uted water in a country where ment. The Area of Responsibility Environ- to pack and carry on missions, and more easily deployed operations take place, locals stil mental Component Plan discusses the U.S. distributed during humanitarian missions. care about their environment. In fact, public military's challenges in effectively manag- However, delivering bottled water is expen- opinion data in Iraq from 2003 to 2005 indi- ing waste streams, often relying on open sive, dangerous, and creates a major source cated that environmental issues should be an burning of all forms of solid waste and non- of solid waste. An estimated half of the water important piece of reconstruction efforts.13 ideal discharge lagoons for wastewater.15 bottles are discarded even before they are People care deeply whether their water wil While contractors may manage the waste used because of torn shrink-wrap packaging make their children sick, and they will be generated at larger FOBs, smaller bases may or expired shelf lives.18 If not hauled out of the more likely to support forces that provide assign the responsibility as an additional FOB, the waste must be disposed of on-site. their basic needs. Field Manual 3-24, Coun- duty to military personnel.
Many times, on-site solid waste disposal is terinsurgency, notes that providing essential In addition, tactical units often lack accomplished via burn pits. As mentioned, services such as sewage, water, electricity, training in the use of appropriate environ- burn pits are not viable long-term alternatives 32 JFQ / issue 70, 3rd quarter 2013
RACZ et Al.
to waste treatment. However, there are alterna- Command locations. Power production at 6 Hans Zinsser, Rats, Lice, and History (New tives to relying on bottled drinking water. As these deployed sites often exceeds demand, York: Little, Brown, 1935).
long as local water sources meet purity and wasting a significant amount of fuel. For 7 Lester W. Grau and William A. Jorgensen, quantity requirements, military units may use instance, Camp Leatherneck only required "Beaten by the Bugs: The Soviet-Afghan War reverse osmosis water purification units, tacti- 5 megawatts of power but was generating 19 Experience," Military Review 77, no. 6 (1997).
8 Keith G. Hauret et al., "Frequency and cal water purification systems, or lightweight megawatts with 196 generators running at 30 Causes of Nonbattle Injuries Air Evacuated from purifiers. These technologies are proven to percent capacity and consuming over 15,000 Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, produce safe, potable drinking water and, if gal ons of fuel per day.23 More judicious use of U.S. Army 2001–2006," American Journal of Pre- used more regularly, would reduce the need for generators could reduce the consumption of ventive Medicine 38, no. 1 (2010).
bottled drinking water.
precious fuel.
9 Donald W. Riegle, Jr., and Alfonse M. Fuel is another important commodity D'Amato, "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare- required at FOBs. In 2006, Major General Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Pos- Richard Zilmer, USMC, requested alternative Regulations intended to protect the sible Impact on the Health Consequences of the energy sources such as solar panels and wind environment have implications beyond just Gulf War," United States Senate, 103rd Cong., 2nd turbines for battlefield operations in Iraq. complying with written mandates. Indeed, sess., May 25, 1994.
General Zilmer's memo noted that without planning for environmental conditions and Glenn Hess, "Chemical Hazards: Jury awards $85 million to US soldiers exposed to renewable power, U.S. forces "will remain protection at the beginning of a deployment hexavalent chromium in Iraq," Chemical & Engi- unnecessarily exposed" and will "continue benefits troop health and safety. Employing neering News, November 12, 2012, 8.
to accrue preventable . . serious and grave sustainable practices in deployed operations 11 Rosaline Cardarelli, Maintaining a Trained and Ready Army from an Environmental Perspec-tive (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, Camp Leatherneck only required 5 megawatts of power but was generating 19 megawatts and consuming David E. Mosher and Beth Lachman, "Green Warriors: Environmental Opportunities in Con- over 15,000 gallons of fuel per day tingency Operations," Army, August 2009, 30–36.
13 Mosher et al.
14 Mosher and Lachman.
19 Ashton Carter, Under Secretary helps reduce waste and costs both in funds 15 CH2M Hill, "AOR Environmental Compo- of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and and lives. Including environmental factors nent Plan," prepared for U.S. Army Central, March Logistics, testified to Congress in 2009 that in planning and operations directly helps to "protecting large fuel convoys imposes a huge ensure strategic and tactical mission success. 16 See Lowell Center for Sustainable Produc- burden on combat forces" and "reducing the Nevertheless, environmental considerations tion, available at <www.uml.edu/centers/LCSP>.
fuel demand would move the department remain absent or delayed in many deployed 17 Data obtained from Jianming Wang, pro- more towards an efficient force structure military operations. There continues to be fessor at the Missouri University of Science and by enabling more combat forces supported opportunity to improve environmental prac- Technology, September 16, 2009.
by fewer logistics assets, reducing operating tices in these activities. JFQ
18 Noblis, Strategic Environmental Research costs, and mitigating budget effects caused and Development Program (SERDP): Sustainable by fuel price volatility."20 In 2008, the Army Forward Operating Bases (Falls Church, VA: established an energy security strategy to Noblis, May 2010).
19 Zilmer memo.
reduce energy consumption and use alterna- 1 Joint Publication 3-34, Joint Engineer 20 Energy Security: America's Best Defense tive energy sources. The use of photovoltaic Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, June (Washington, DC: Deloitte, 2009), available at cel s (solar power), at least on a small scale, holds promise in offsetting energy produc- 2 David E. Mosher et al., Green Warriors: tion needs.21 Alternative fuel production (for Army Environmental Considerations for Contin- example, hydrotreated renewable oils) at FOBs gency Operations from Planning Through Post- 21 Richard Ellis, Scodd Adamson, and Sean has been proposed and pursued, at least in Conflict (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2008).
Marshall, "Feasibility of 3rd Party Photovoltaic the research stage. However, these require a 3 Timothy M. Mallon, "Progress in imple- Project and Al Udeid," class project for Air Force carbon-based feedstock that could be even menting recommendations in the National Institute of Technology, course EMGT 621, 2012.
more expensive than conventional fuels and Academy of Sciences reports: Protecting Those 22 James T. Bartis and Lawrence Van Bibber, do not offer a compel ing military benefit.
Alternative Fuels for Military Applications (Santa Who Serve: Strategies to Protect the Health of Monica, CA: RAND, 2011).
Rather, a more immediate solution may be Deployed U.S. Forces," Military Medicine 176 (July 2011), 9–16.
more efficient generators and equipment to 4 Robert Batts and Diana Parzik, "Panel 3: reduce FOB fuel needs. FOB structures, which Conducting environmental surveillance sampling typical y lack insulation, are inefficient and to identify exposures," Military Medicine 176 (July require significant power to heat or cool. 2011), 101–104.
Energy audits are also being considered as a 5 Robert B. Strassler, The Landmark way to reduce energy consumption at more Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Pelo- permanent facilities in deployed U.S. Central ponnesian War (New York: Free Press, 1996).
ndupress.ndu.edu issue 70, 3rd quarter 2013 / JFQ 33

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