Tag Archives: isolation

Airforce Life Cycle Management Center helps design transport isolation system

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is playing a unique role in the United States’ comprehensive Ebola response efforts in West Africa through the center’s involvement in developing a transport isolation system.

The system will enable safe aeromedical evacuation of Department of Defense patients in C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs.

The Human Systems Division — one of nine divisions within AFLCMC’s Agile Combat Support Directorate — is leading the integration of multiple System Program Offices to support the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s task to rapidly field the transport isolation system (TIS) by January.

Lt. Col. Scott Bergren, the chief of the Aircrew Performance Branch, is among those involved in the project.

“AFLCMC was notified the third week of October that its help was needed,” Bergren said. “We also were informed that the intent was to fly this system in an operational test beginning Dec. 1. So we were given a month and a half to ensure this system is safe to fly. All involved offices within AFLCMC have rallied to help get the TIS out the door.

“While DTRA is providing overall program management and contracting actions, our efforts have focused on quickly collecting the test data needed to assess the safety of the system for use in identified aircraft,” Bergren continued. “For example, we reached out to the Navy and obtained existing test data for subcomponents of the TIS used in Navy weapon systems today. This prevented us from having to redo those tests, which saved time. Fortunately, we have those connections and our division possesses the capability to analyze test data and certify components already in use within DOD.

“We’re thinking differently and more creatively to ensure we keep pace with the Pentagon’s timeline for this isolation system,” Bergren added. “We want to ensure this project is completed on time and safely.”

An example of creative thinking is that the AFLCMC team identified a proven LED lighting system used in the KC-135 Stratotanker platform today as a means to provide medical lighting in the TIS.

“This avoided a development effort by the contractor and cut roughly two weeks from a schedule in which every day counts,” Bergren said.

According to Melina Baez-Bowersox, a technical lead engineer in the Aeromedical Branch, additional challenges arise anytime there is a proposal to add a new system or equipment to an Air Force platform, such as an aircraft.

“Part of our responsibility is to assess the TIS’s capability by testing and evaluating the system on the aircraft,” she said. “We ask ourselves, ‘How does it (TIS) behave?’, ‘What does adding the system do to the structural integrity of the aircraft?’, ‘Is the TIS safe for patients, aircrews and the aircraft?’

“Ultimately, we want to be able to safely transport infected individuals back to the United States in a way that contains Ebola exposure to others while also preventing contamination of an aircraft or losing a precious Air Force asset,” she continued.

“We’re the right organization to be involved to deliver this critical capability that is quite complex and under an extremely compressed timeline,” said Col. William McGuffey, the chief of the Human Systems Division. “It’s another example of how AFLCMC acquires, fields and sustains systems and capabilities to support the urgent needs of other Air Force major commands and the DOD.

Pentagon officials say they do not expect the 3,000 U.S. troops heading to or already in the region to need the TIS because military personnel will not be treating Ebola patients directly.

“But we want to be prepared to care for the people we do have there just out of an abundance of caution,” Defense Department spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said.

Currently, transport of Ebola patients from overseas is done by Phoenix Air, a government contractor based in Georgia whose modified business jet is capable of carrying just a single patient.

The Pentagon’s TIS will be similar but larger than the units used by Phoenix Air, whose containment system is a tent-like structure held up by a metal framework within the aircraft.

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Deal with Iran could end isolation but would it stop an arms race?

A deal on Iran’s nuclear program this week would be a historic step towards ending the country’s international isolation, but analysts remain divided on whether it would help stabilize the Middle East or even prevent a regional arms race.

Having spent years pushing for an agreement — whereby economic sanctions on Iran are relaxed in exchange for concrete guarantees that it will not pursue nuclear weapons — the West hopes the last-ditch talks in Vienna set an example to the world.

“It would… demonstrate that the global non-proliferation system works,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a former US State Department official now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

“A combination of rules and pressure would have kept the number of nuclear-armed states from expanding, and that’s no small achievement.”

But there are many on the more hawkish side of the debate who feel the exact opposite could happen.

The Middle East is immersed in a series of bloody sectarian conflicts that have increasingly taken on the form of a region-wide struggle between Sunni and Shiite Muslim powers.

The hawks warn any rapprochement between the West and Shiite Iran will be viewed with deep concern by Sunni-led countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — America’s traditional allies in the region — who will not trust Tehran to keep its promises.

“Unless it is a spectacularly better deal than anticipated, it is going to lead to a Sunni response in which they move forward on their own nuclear programmes,” said Mark Dubowitz of the right-wing Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC.

“The Saudis could buy a ready-formed nuclear missile from the Pakistanis tomorrow. Or more likely, they could move ahead under the guise of a civilian program. The Turks, the Egyptians could do the same.”

‘Very cautiously’
Others say Washington is well aware of its allies’ concerns and will go out of its way to reassure them — not just the Sunnis, but also Israel which fears a threat to its very existence from a nuclear Iran.

“Any reconciliation between the US and Iran would proceed very cautiously and on the basis of what’s in America’s best interests and those of its traditional allies in the region,” said Robert Einhorn, a former special adviser on non-proliferation at the US State Department now at Brookings Institution.

Much will come down to the details. Regional governments will pore over the fine print of any deal, looking for weaknesses that Iran can exploit to pursue nuclear weapons without getting caught.

The outlook for Iran is more clearly positive. A deal would mark a symbolic end to 35 years of diplomatic isolation, help rebuild an economy shattered by Western sanctions and potentially strengthen the hand of moderates inside the country such as President Hassan Rouhani.

The lifting of sanctions will lead to “massive investments in the oil sector,” said Bernard Hourcade, an Iran specialist at French think tank CNRS, with new contracts already prepared to attract the likes of Total and Shell.

“Banks will be able to restart international negotiations and re-open credit lines. A large market will be put in place,” added Hourcade.

Russia will also be watching with mixed feelings. It worries the return of Iranian oil on the global market will lead to a further drop in prices, but also likes the prospect of selling more civil nuclear technology to Iran.

“A deal would cement Russia’s position as a major player in the region since it will have a central role in implementing the deal, which will take many years. It ensures the US remains dependent on Russia,” said Shashank Joshi, of the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Don’t get excited
Before anyone gets too excited, however, analysts warn it is far from certain that Iran and the West will forge an agreement before the deadline on November 24, with most predicting another extension.

“The most that’s achievable is agreement on some of the key parameters of a deal such as enrichment capacity and phasing of the sanctions relief,” said Einhorn.

Even a complete deal will not have the dramatic impact many are anticipating, added Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group.

“A nuclear agreement could potentially serve as a gateway allowing Iran to renew cooperation with the West on issues of common interest such as stability in Afghanistan and Iraq, extremism in Syria, and European energy security,” he said.

“But this is not guaranteed. The history of Iran’s relations with the West is replete with misunderstandings and missed opportunities.”

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