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Ashcroft speaks at one of two major Fort Leonard Wood events this month
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (July 18, 2009) — Two major conferences are coming later this month to Fort Leonard Wood, one of them featuring John Ashcroft, Missouri’s former governor and the nation’s former attorney general, as a speaker.

Ashcroft’s speech will be part of the Joint Senior Leaders’ Course, held from Wednesday, July 23 to Friday, July 25, which focuses on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training being offered by Fort Leonard Wood’s CBRN School. Ashcroft is scheduled to speak from 12:45 to 2 p.m. on Friday on the subject of combating weapons of mass destruction in a post-9/11 environment.

Ashcroft also served as the Missouri state auditor, as the Missouri attorney general, and as U.S. Senator for Missouri.

According to a Fort Leonard Wood press release, the Joint Senior Leaders’ Course will “present various aspects of CBRN defense, with an operational- and strategic-level focus, to leadership wanting to increase their understanding of current CBRN issues and having a need to integrate CBRN considerations into their commands, staffs or organizations.”

As with many similar conferences, activities are not limited to American military personnel and include civilian companies, government leaders and some foreign military representatives.

A special conference will be held at Fort Leonard Wood the following week that specifically focuses on foreign military issues of American allies.

From July 27 to 30, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force will hold its conference on post. Originally begun as a post-World War II defensive alliance of American, Canadian and Western European governments to counter threats from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO’s mutual defense agreement was invoked after the 9/11 attacks and has resulted in considerable assistance by European governments to the United States mission in Afghanistan. Non-NATO countries including Sweden and Australia are also involved as American allies in the Afghanistan war.

As the home of the Army Engineer School, Fort Leonard Wood’s role includes training soldiers to detect mines and improvised explosive devices and inventing new ways to combat IEDs, which have become the major weapon of choice in current asymmetrical combat against Americans. Lightly-armed insurgents who couldn’t effectively take on a heavily armed American military unit have taken to using roadside bombs, mines, and even Cold War-era hand-thrown munitions to attack patrolling troops and supply convoys.

“The purpose for this conference is to collaborate with our NATO allies to discuss what features to look for in route clearance equipment. Fort Leonard Wood was chosen for the ISAF conference because of the route clearance experts at the Counter Explosive Hazards Center,” according to a Fort Leonard Wood media announcement. “These nations are fighting in Afghanistan, having their citizen soldiers killed, because we asked them to join us. So we have a moral obligation to assist them in dealing with IEDs, the #1 killer on that battlefield.”

Much of the conference is classified, but post officials have arranged a press conference late in the week that will include a display of the Buffalo and RG-31 route clearance vehicles, two heavily armored high-tech vehicles that use remote cameras to examine potential bombs and either detonate or deactivate them without exposing troops and more lightly armored vehicles to the force of an IED explosion.

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