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COVER STORY Afghanistan's war on drugsLt. Col. Dan Hurlbut, commander of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, said the policy of U.S. and NATO troops is to support whatever plan of action regarding poppy crops that the government of Afghanistan and the provincial government decide upon. But the provincial government has not fully articulated one until now, Hurlbut said. Still, he cautioned that any eradication effort would probably take weeks to implement, since further coordination must occur between Afghan government officials and NATO military authorities. • Story• Related stories:‘Shooting galleries’show the sad plight of nation’s addicts

Day at the job site raises serious questionsAs a senior engineer for the Army, Neil Ravensbergen is accustomed to taking distinguished visitors on tours of construction sites. He was at it again Tuesday, though his guests wore no stars nor showed much interest in budgets and timelines. Instead, they inquired about worms and elephants, hard hats and anything else that crossed their second-grade minds. • Story

Unscreened blood: Use only in emergenciesFor years, the use of unscreened blood transfusions exposed severely wounded servicemembers and other trauma patients in Iraq and Afghanistan to the inherent risk of diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and malaria, according to medical experts who advise the secretary of defense. Battlefield attacks that resulted in mass casualties or severe injuries often overtaxed the military’s blood supply system until 2007, meaning medics collected fresh blood from those on site for emergency treatment of the wounded, the Defense Health Board wrote in a June 2008 report. The unscreened blood transfusions, however, did not meet federal safety standards required of all other military blood supplies. • Story

Back for moreRobert Sexton thought he was leaving the Army behind for good when he left in 1970 after a three-year stint that included time in Vietnam. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, he thought the war would be over soon. Then it wasn’t. A sense of duty began to claw its way into his plainclothes life as a doctor in Tucson, Ariz. • Story

First lady’s first prioritySince her husband’s campaign, first lady Michelle Obama has spoken of making the plight of military families a focus of hers from the White House perch. Now military families and advocacy groups are waiting to see how that support will play out. • Story

Propping up PapaWhen the small advance team arrived in this remote little town in western Hungary in October, faced with the daunting task of building a multinational C-17 airlift wing from scratch in less than a year’s time, everything was in short supply. There weren’t enough phone lines, computers or office furniture. Team members often had to work out of hotel rooms, an odd place for crafting strategies to get aircrews into hot spots around the globe. Now, the 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability project is zeroing in on its first mission later this summer, and things are starting to fall into place. About 100 personnel are on the ground at Papa Air Base and more are on the way. • Story

Spouse CallsA weekly column in Stripes' Scene magazine by Terri Barnes, a military wife and mother of three who lives and writes in Germany. • This week's column • Terri Barnes' blog

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