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Author: TriSec    Date: 09/29/2015 09:59:32

Good Morning.

Today is our 467th day back in Iraq.

There have been no new American casualties.

We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 642, 146, 750, 000. 00

Let's talk about war. Specifically, the next one. Despite the President making nice with the Chinese Premier the other day, there are many in both Congress and a multitude of think-tanks that are calling for more 'resources' to face down the perceived Chinese threat. Of course it won't be cheap, but hey...what's a few trillion among friends?

Faced with China's growing anti-surface ship capacity, the United States should decrease its emphasis on large aircraft carriers in the Pacific and spend more on submarines, space capabilities and ways to make air bases and aircraft less vulnerable, according to a report released earlier this month by Rand Corp.

In the 430-page report, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank analyzed the relative military capabilities of the U.S. and China in certain scenarios based on open-source documents. The analysis makes comparisons using 10 "scorecards" covering air, maritime, space, cyber and nuclear domains.

Capabilities were examined at seven-year intervals, beginning in 1996 and projecting to 2017, considering two "plausible" scenarios of conflict between the two countries: a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and its forcible occupation of the Spratly Islands. China claims sovereignty over both.

This past year, China expanded a number of the tiny Spratly atolls through dredging and has built several runways -- even as the U.S. has denounced those moves as militarizing the archipelago.

"Over the next five to 15 years, if U.S. and (People's Liberation Army) forces remain on roughly current trajectories, Asia will witness a progressively receding frontier of U.S. dominance," the report said.

Although China is not close to catching up to the U.S. in terms of overall military power, that's not necessary for it to control the region at its doorstep, the report said.

"No one wants war; nobody expects war," said Eric Heginbotham, lead author and political scientist at Rand, when explaining the analysis' purpose. "But I think the balance of power affects calculations on both sides. Balance of power has a major impact on the probability of war."

Military dominance by the U.S., however, does not necessarily equate to deterrence in moments of instability when two nations could potentially consider the incentives for a first strike, he said.

"If you have a highly offensive force or set of weapons that are very forward deployed -- sort of on the periphery of China -- but not resilient to attack, then in a crisis, both sides could have incentives to strike first," Heginbotham said. Attempting to restore U.S. dominance without thinking about the impact on crisis stability could inadvertently undermine the value of that supremacy, he said.

Speaking of the next war...I've been rethinking the current one of late, or at least the way it's being reported here at Ask a Vet. There have not been any stories in months about our troop deployments back to Iraq. (The latest being about the 450 'advisors' the President sent in June). We all know they're there; we all know they will be there for many more years. I wonder if counting the days still is superfluous?

There are currently about 3,050 U.S. forces in Iraq. Roughly 2,250 of them are devoted to supporting Iraqi security forces, approximately 450 are training Iraqi troops and about 200 more are acting in advising and assisting roles.

I've got an interesting piece today from our friends at IAVA. A lot of returning vets have taken to service animals for a variety of reasons. It's actually still a rare sight out and about, but more 'working dogs' are now wearing vests identifying themselves as such. Remember folks, these are not pets - they may be approached and touched just like an ordinary dog, but only under the guidance and permission of their human partners...and sometimes the answer is no. In any case - a trainer for service dogs with IAVA recently encountered a recalcitrant business owner, and what could have been a confrontation wound up being a teachable moment.

The other night I went to a restaurant with DAPHNE. The staff greeted us very pleasantly, and as they were seating us, the manager asked for DAPHNE’s “certification paperwork.” He insisted that others who have come into his restaurant with service dogs had paperwork. I politely explained that businesses may not require documentation, such as proof that the dog has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service dog, as a condition for entry. I then decided to use this as a teaching moment, to tell him that “certification paperwork” is a common misperception. There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. Those documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the U.S. Department of Justice of Civil Rights Division does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service dog.

Also, let him know that in situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service dog, businesses can ask two questions:

1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

They cannot, however, ask to see the task performed or ask about the person’s disability.

There are also requirements for the dog’s handler. The dog must be under the control of the handler at all times. Business owners can request that the dog leave if it is out of control and the handler does not take action to correct it.

It took me repeating this a few times for the manager to accept it. He was pretty adamant that we should have paperwork, but I think my ability to recite the law without hesitation made him rethink his request.

While I didn’t go more into detail with the manager on other aspects of the law, I encouraged him to look it up and become familiar. Some of the other facets of the ADA in regard to service dogs are as follows:

    The ADA does not require service dogs to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.

    Under the ADA, service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. No other animal, wild or domestic, can serve as a service animal.

    A service dog must be trained before it can be taken into public places. The ADA, however, does not require service dogs to be professionally trained.

Persons with disabilities have the right to train their dogs themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program, like paws4people™, which spends up to 2 years and $36,000 to train and place a service dog with its client.

Unfortunately, because the ADA is fairly generous in its definition of a service dog, it leaves the field open for those without trained service dogs to represent their pets and untrained dogs as service dogs. The big problem is when a dog is not properly trained, behaves badly and disturbs the operation of a business. That experience can cause business owners to be more skeptical of even a well-trained service dog having access to their facilities and being on their premises.

At the end of the day, the manager allowed me and DAPHNE to continue to our table. This reinforced for me the importance of business owners ensuring their staff is trained on what the ADA does and doesn’t say as well as the rights afforded to people with disabilities. Fortunately, I knew the law and was able to calmly share that information with the manager.

Given that many returning soldiers are facing a multitude of challenges, it's up to the rest of us to be as supportive and accommodating as possible...but of course there's going to be some Bubba out there that thinks all soldiers are heroic paragons of masculinity, no matter what baggage they may be carrying from actual combat, so your mileage may vary.

16 comments (Latest Comment: 09/29/2015 20:38:13 by wickedpam)
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