Thursday, March 20, 2014

Foreign Service : Benefits at Home!

Clay Moore here, the current American intern with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy Vilnius.

Since I only have another month here in Vilnius, I thought that I should make a post about how the State Department both stimulates the economy and assists U.S. citizens domestically.  Since I am from Texas, I will focus on the benefits of the State Department in my state.

  • The State Department has facilitated trade agreements which have greatly benefitted Texas workers.  In Texas, international trade supports over 2.9 million jobs with customers in 223 countries and territories buying Texan products.  Over $262.3 billion in goods exports (2012), and $50 billion in service exports were the results of these agreements.
  • Flights between Dallas and China made an estimated financial impact of $205 million dollars to the Texan economy.  This was made possible by an Open Skies agreement negotiated by Department of State.
  • There are three Consular Affairs Bureaus in Texas to assist citizens with both obtaining and renewing their passports.
  • Texas is a world leader in hosting foreign professionals and scholars.  Over 11,106 physicians, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs as well as others have been hosted as part of Department of State work and study-based international exchange visitor programs.
  • SelectUSA is incredibly active in Texas, recently facilitating a $34 million investment from Indian company, Jyoti Industries, which created 157 jobs.
  • The State Department awarded a $2 million dollar grant to the University of Texas to establish two university partnerships in Pakistan both in the social sciences and music fields for three years.
  • The University of North Texas (my alma mater!) received $1 million dollars from the State Department to create a partnership in Pakistan focused on Linguistics, English Literature, and English Teaching.
  • The State Department facilitated 616 overseas adoptions for Texan families in 2012.
See more interesting facts here at the Department of State by State website.

These are just a selection of examples of the benefits to Texan citizens and businesses that the State Department provides.  These benefits are mirrored in each state across the country, thanks to the 1% of the federal budget that is allocated to the State Department.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

General Breedlove: The Importance of Identity

Today we borrow from General Philip M. Breedlove, SACEUR and EUCOM  commander, who shared his thoughts about the situation in Ukraine.

11 Mar 2014

If you have been following events unfolding in Ukraine you may have noted various claims regarding the identity and origins of the armed groups currently contributing to the unrest in Crimea. Headlines are reporting that heavily armed soldiers have surrounded Ukraine's military bases in Crimea and have taken control of 11 border posts in the region. Clearly, the situation is serious. But who are these armed soldiers, and who has given them orders?
Many media outlets have reported claims that these troops are "local militias" who are wearing Russian-style fatigues because such attire is available in army shops across the former Soviet Union. Other outlets are repeating an assertion that armed men deployed to Ukraine's Crimea region are simply ''self-defense forces.''
I would like to address these claims.
Here at NATO's military headquarters we have been closely monitoring and analyzing the situation in Ukraine and have been keenly focused on these troops. After extensive review of multiple information sources we believe these are Russian military forces acting on clear orders to undermine Ukraine forces in Crimea.
This conclusion, although hastily stated by some members of the press, is based on deliberate and painstaking scrutiny of the many sources of data available to our professional military analysts. As we move forward and continue to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine, it will be with the understanding of the real identity of these forces.

The photos below are just a few examples openly available that help paint the picture.

Example #1
The following several photos show military vehicles that are currently operating in Crimea. Note the Russian military licence plates on the vehicles.
The first picture is from the Crimean town of Balaklava.

Example #2
This example is from YouTube
In this video, local journalists interviewed a soldier who admitted he was part of the Russian military.
When asked why he didn’t have any insignias or symbols on his uniform, he responded that he was told
not to wear them.

Example #3
The pictures below are of soldiers currently operating within Crimea. The weapons and equipment they are
using certainly are not typical of ‘local militias' or ‘self-defense forces'.

"From the Cockpit"

Phil Breedlove
General, USAF
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Commander, U.S. European Command