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Reveille: Helping Pendleton's Kids Cope, Where the Real War is Being Fought, California's Female Veterans Conference, Navy Plan to Minimize Civilian Casualties, Questioning Al Qaeda's Capabilities

Operation Hero helps Pendleton children cope with deployment - Experiencing repeated moves and having to cope with a service member on deployment can be challenging issues for many families, especially the children. Operation Hero, conducted by Camp Pendleton's Armed Services YMCA, offers after-school tutoring and mentoring sessions for six to 12-year-old military children. The program addresses challenges in school, new duty stations, deployment of a parent and other concerns connected with the demands of a military lifestyle in an effort for children to find the 'hero' within themselves. 'Children tend to lose focus during a parent's deployment,' said Samantha Holt, family program director, Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA. 'Every child has a unique way of handling situations like this and it's our job to help them find it.' The after-school tutoring program was created at Camp Pendleton in 1995 and is offered at all five of the base's elementary schools. For more information call (760) 385-4921 or go to their website to enroll. Inside Al Qaeda - Last week President Obama announced the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. Yet nine years after 9/11, America still has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. And while their mission is ostensibly to disrupt and dismantle Al Qaeda, most Americans still have only a fuzzy conception of who the enemy is. Osama bin Laden has become barely a shadow, with a March 2010 audiotape as the most recent evidence that he's still alive. According to CIA figures his terror network has perhaps 100 or fewer fighters in Afghanistan, but of course that's merely guesswork. The real war against Al Qaeda is being waged by Predator drones in Pakistan's tribal areas, and its details emerge slowly and in tiny increments. California's women veterans conference registration deadline extended - The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) will be hosting its third annual CalVet Women Veterans Conference at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building in Sacramento on October 7th and 8th. The two-day conference will feature several dynamic speakers on relevant issues for women veterans and will include workshop break-out sessions on both days. The draft conference program agenda and related materials are posted at the department's website, and can be reviewed by clicking on this link. Hotel reservations, at a negotiated state rate, can be made through September 20, 2010 at the Homewood Suites in Clovis by calling 1-559-348-0000 or using the on-line registration at the link listed above. Veterans may register and pay a $25 registration fee online or via mail. Conference registration deadline is September 24, 2010. If you have any questions, you may also contact Deputy Secretary Barbara Ward at 916-653-2511. US Navy eyes 'dial-a-blast' bomb to minimize civilian casualties - Could a variable-yield bomb reduce the number of innocent people killed or injured during an air attack targeting enemy soldiers? That's the thinking behind a US Navy plan to develop a "dial-a-blast" bomb. The Navy is seeking proposals from companies to create a bomb weighing 200 kilograms that can either be detonated at full or reduced power. The idea is that the device could be loaded onto planes before a target has been identified, and the explosive power set by the pilot once a target is known. If there is a risk of killing civilians, then the explosive power can be reduced to ensure a small blast radius. In an unpopulated area the bomb, currently known as the Selectable Output Weapon, could be set so that it has the same power as a regular bomb of the same size. The Navy plans to invest $9.9 million over the next five years in developing the bomb once it has accepted a proposal. One company vying for the funding is ATK, a defense manufacturer based in Plymouth, Minnesota, which claims to have technology that could do the job. Questioning Al Qada's capabilities - Nine years after 9/11, can anyone doubt that Al Qaeda is simply not that deadly a threat? Since that gruesome day in 2001, once governments everywhere began serious countermeasures, Osama bin Laden's terror network has been unable to launch a single major attack on high-value targets in the United States and Europe. While it has inspired a few much smaller attacks by local jihadis, it has been unable to execute a single one itself. Today, Al Qaeda's best hope is to find a troubled young man who has been radicalized over the Internet, and teach him to stuff his underwear with explosives. I do not minimize Al Qaeda's intentions, which are barbaric. I question its capabilities.