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Editor's corner.

The security of U.S. military personnel overseas has been a sore topic at the Defense Department, especially during the past two decades. The bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the truck-bomb assault against an Air Force base in Saudi Arabia, the suicide bombing of the USS Cole are among those events that triggered lengthy investigations, lessons-learned reports and blue-ribbon commissions. Scores of security measures were introduced during the 1980s and 90s, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff created a special directorate to deal with force protection matters.

Since 9/11, the threat of terrorist attacks also has become a top priority at U.S.-based installations. If that is so, what must the Defense Department do to protect domestic military bases?

An informative report on page 32 of this edition of National Defense--based on interviews with security experts--attempts to provide some answers. Additionally, an exclusive account of what the Navy is doing to protect the gigantic base in Norfolk, Va., begins on page 28.

In the homeland security arena, there is hardly a higher visibility issue than the need to safeguard U.S. airports and airliners. With nearly $5 billion that Congress expects to appropriate in coming years for these efforts, many companies--including large firms from the defense industry--are jockeying for position in the aviation security marketplace. More details are available in a comprehensive article starting on page 26.

In this edition, National Defense kicks off a new feature, called "Security Beat," a monthly digest of recent developments in the homeland defense sector--both in the government and the industry. It appears following our increasingly popular "Washington Pulse."

The June cover story explores the difficulties and the triumphs that the so-called Darkhorse unit--the Army's elite Chinook helicopter pilots from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment--experienced in Afghanistan, during the war against Al Qaeda. The pilots tell National Defense that they fear the attrition rate of the Chinook fleet is reaching alarming levels. The story begins on page 14.

Of interest, also this month, is a firsthand account of the Navy's bombing campaign over Afghanistan, during the initial few weeks of Operation Enduring Freedom. The conflict challenged carrier-based aviators to employ innovative techniques to strike moving targets, but it also underscored the need to improve the Navy's capabilities in sensors and data links. Details can be found on page 16.
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Publication:National Defense
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:390
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