Army News Overwatch

Casualty Identification
     Comparative DNA Casualty Identification is the DoD preferred standard for positive casualty identification.
Units are taking all necessary measures to accelerate the collection of DNA specimens from all active Army and Reserve Component soldiers for casualty identification.
Effective immediately, soldiers are not deployable if they do not have a DNA specimen collected. A single diagnostic/dental treatment quality panograph is still required. The absence of a panograph in dental records renders a soldier non-deployable.
     All service members and DoD/DA civilians, who are being deployed must have a DNA specimen on file.
The term, "collected" differs from having a specimen "on file". A specimen is considered "on file" if it appears on the DEERS System. A specimen is considered "collected" if the soldier provided the specimen during the deployment process.
     Direct all questions concerning DNA Casualty Identification policy to Lt. Col. Mark S. Roupas, Department of the Army office of the deputy chief of staff for personnel, DSN 225-5729, Commercial (703) 695-5729.

Fast Food for the Army
     Civilians can eat on the run by going to their favorite drive-through fast food franchise. Soldiers in the field will be getting the Army’s version: a mobile ration developed by the Soldier System Command’s Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center.
     Mobility Enhancing Ration Components, these "MERCs" can be eaten out of hand and require no food preparation or eating utensils. The new items supplement existing field rations such as the meal, ready-to-eat, or could stand alone as an assault ration. MERCs will support highly mobile and forward deployed troops and are suitable for Arctic, jungle, desert, mountain and urban areas.

Persian Gulf Illness?
     Defense health officials accept many Gulf War veterans are sick, but they haven’t pinpointed a single cause. Theories and explanations abound, blaming reported illnesses on everything from stress to enemy nerve gas. Now DoD is considering the possibility some sort of bacteria may be the culprit.
     "We have about 80 studies either under way, completed or on the drawing boards which look at a wide variety of possible toxins or ... reasons why people became ill during the gulf war," DoD spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Dec. 12, 1996, at a regularly scheduled press briefing. "Some do look at low-level chemical exposure. Others look at bacterial toxins and other toxins." Still other studies focus on medicines administered to gulf war participants and at the impact from oil well fires, Bacon said.
     The possibility of a bacterial cause for reported illnesses surfaced in December when a West Coast newspaper reported the research efforts of Garth Nicolson. A research biochemist and scientific director of the nonprofit Institute of Molecular Medicine, Irvine, Calif., Nicolson tested the blood of hundreds of sick Gulf War veterans. Nicolson said his research revealed a genetically altered primitive bacterium — called mycoplasma — in many samples. He concluded the germ had been deliberately manipulated for use as a weapon, the newspaper reported.
     Bacon said the findings aren’t new. "We met with [Nicolson] in 1995 ... and before that as well," he said. "He was invited ... to submit a proposal for research which the government would fund, and a formal call for such a research proposal was issued in May of 1993." Nicholson has not contacted the Pentagon, Bacon said. In October, DoD launched its own study of mycoplasma infections in gulf war veterans. The study is scheduled for completion in August 1997. (Submitted by Douglas J. Gillert, American Forces Press Service)

Banking Changes
     The Defense Department is using unique DoD identification numbers on checks and automated teller machine cards instead of checks and automatic teller machine cards provided by the banking program contractor.
     Overseas customers are receiving checks and ATM cards bearing the name "Community Bank." Defense officials said this new arrangement eliminates the need to change payroll information and reissue checks and ATM cards each time DoD selects a new contractor.
     Officials said they expect banking to be more efficient and cost effective than in the past. They say the changes maintain a high-quality standard and provide a significant benefit to American military personnel and their families stationed overseas. (American Forces Press Service)

U.S. Southern Command Expands to Caribbean Area
     Defense responsibilities for the Caribbean basin will transfer from the U.S. Atlantic Command to the U.S. Southern Command on June 1, 1997.
     Defense officials said Defense Secretary William J. Perry recently approved Phase II of DoD’s Unified Command Plan Realignment.
     With the approval, U.S. Southern Command will expand to include covering the Caribbean Sea and its island nations. These islands include European possessions, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The command will maintain U.S. defense responsibilities in the Atlantic Ocean south of 28 degrees north latitude and west of 58 degrees west longitude.
     Perry’s order implements the changes to the Unified Command Plan announced last February. Last January, the Southern Command took defense responsibilities for the waters adjoining Central and South America, and the Gulf of Mexico.
     Officials said the changes satisfy two objectives. The first is to enhance Southern Command’s interaction with the navies of Central and South American nations. The second is to have one commander control all U.S. military activities in the Caribbean basin and Central and South America. (American Forces Press Service)

New Army Uniform Items
     Many new or replacement Army uniform items are going into soldiers’ duffel bags.
     New wind breakers are made of polyester and wool (65/35 percent, respectively) with a Velcro-attached liner. The officer windbreaker has a knit collar, cuffs and waistband. The enlisted windbreaker has a standard collar, knit cuffs and waistband.
     Replacement short sleeve and long sleeve male AG 415 shirts have pleated pockets and are made of heavier material. The new short sleeve shirt has a stand-up collar. Mandatory possession date for the new shirts (two short sleeve and one long sleeve) is Oct. 1, 1999.
     The replacements for female short sleeve and long sleeve shirts tuck-in shirts in heavier material. Mandatory possession date for both shirts is Oct. 1, 1998.
     Males and females must begin wearing the Army green shade 489 uniform on Oct. 1, 1999. At that time, females must have one coat, two skirts and two pair of slacks; males must have one coat and two pairs of trousers.
     The Enhanced Hot Weather Battle Dress Uniform replacement includes a fabric change to 50 percent nylon/50 percent rip-stop; fused collar/pocket flaps; removal of waist of tab; waist suppressed three inches and no knee pleats. Mandatory possession date is Oct. 1, 1998.
     The enhanced hot weather battle dress uniform cap and the temperate battle dress uniform cap may be worn interchangeably with the either uniform until the mandatory possession date of Oct. 1, 1997. On October 1, 1997, the enhanced cap will be worn with the enhanced hot weather battle dress uniform or hot weather battle dress uniform, and the temperate battle dress uniform cap will be worn only with temperate battle dress uniform.
     The mandatory possession date for the black all-weather coat, double breasted, belted, in a 65/35 poly/cotton fabric, is Oct. 1, 2001. (Army News Service)

Joint Combat Camera Web Site
     The Joint Combat Camera Center web site has moved to Alexandria, Va., setting up shop at the Defense Visual Information Office. Its new web site is: www.dodimagery. and called "DoD Images On-Line." The new site makes it easier for technicians loading images and managing the huge database and for users wanting faster responses to their search requests.
     Two other web sites complete the menu of imagery data bases available to DoD users. Visitors to the Defense Visual Information Center ( can obtain information on ordering historical videotape and still photography as well as the CD-ROM collections. For details, visit the web site or call the center at March Air Force Base, Calif., at (909) 413-2522 or DSN 348-2522.
     The Defense Automated Visual Information System offers on-line search access to more than 10,000 training and information videos created by DoD, with ordering information. (Douglas J. Gillert, American Forces Press Service)

Computer Viruses
     Nearly 7,500 known computer viruses exist worldwide, and as many as 200 new ones pop up each month, according to the National Computer Security Association in Carlisle, Pa.
     During a recent software upload, a network server was infected with a virus called the Barrotes-1310. Within minutes, the virus spread to other servers and threatened the entire network. It was slowed only by the anti-virus software that many network security officers had properly installed.
     A virus is a computer program written specifically to infect and alter other computer programs. It can easily infect the system memory, partition table, boot sector, executable files and system files
     Most viruses are spread unknowingly by using contaminated diskettes or by downloading contaminated programs or data from networked systems. With stand-alone computers, infection can happen only by using contaminated diskettes. In networks, most file virus contamination can spread in a matter of seconds.
     Your computer may have a virus if its operation seems sluggish, programs take longer to load and/or available disk space decreases rapidly. Computer virus symptoms also include files which disappear mysteriously or programs which encounter unusual messages.
     What do you do if you suspect a virus attack? Immediately stop work on the system, isolate and contain all diskettes in the area. Ensure others do not use your computer. Immediately report the incident to your computer system security officer (for stand-alone computers) or the network security officer (for computers connected to a network). If they are not available, contact your installation’s computer security manager or the help desk.
     The best way to protect a computer is to use anti-virus software, make backups and use good computer security practices. Backups of programs and operating files should be made regularly.
     Restrict physical or electronic access, control all diskettes and install and use automated protection such as passwords. Finally, have a clean, write-protected boot diskette with key files and anti-virus software on it. If you have questions, consult your computer security manager. (Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Barnes, 786th Communications Squadron Ramstein Air Base, Germany: Army News Service, courtesy USAFE News Service)


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   Last Updated: May 29, 1997