Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CATS: Combined Arms Training Strategy

Throughout history, the Army has used a variety of animals in support of military operations. Horses and mules carried soldiers and pulled equipment such as artillery and ammunition, birds were used to detect dangerous chemicals and carry messages, and dogs were and still are used to detect enemy personnel, narcotics, and explosives. Now the Army is using the CATS to support training. That's right, "CATS!" When you think of a cat, you might envision a silent hunter stalking its prey. Like the cat, the CATS is also a silent--almost unknown but readily available--training tool.

What is the CATS?

The Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS) is the Army's overarching strategy for planning, resourcing, and executing short- and long-range individual and collective training. Training strategies are the result of a multiyear effort sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Unit commanders and staffs are the primary audience of the CATS; however, all leaders can use its components to integrate individual and collective training. Army Training and Evaluation Program mission training plan collective tasks are the foundation of the CATS.

How Will the CATS Benefit a Unit?

The CATS integrates the appropriate training resources for heavy, light, and special operations forces. The CATS is a flexible system that does not limit leaders but rather provides them with a menu of training tasks, events, and resources to plan and manage training. A variety of links takes the user directly to applicable supporting individual and collective tasks. This decreases the need to sort through training materials used to develop training plans, schedules, and resource cost estimations (such as fuel and ammunition).

The CATS is the foundation of the unit-oriented training strategy used by the Standard Army Training System (SATS). The CATS and SATS assist trainers in designing military training programs, determining unit readiness, planning mobilizations, and developing training budgets. The CATS organizes tasks and provides descriptive training options for commanders. It describes one way of organizing task-based, multiechelon training into a set of events that will achieve and maintain a high state of readiness in today's environment of high personnel turbulence and leader turnover.

Ehrlichia-infected ticks on migrating birds - Dispatches - Statistical Data Included

During the spring of 1996, an estimated 581,395 Ehrlichia-infected ticks were imported into Sweden by migrating birds. Ehrlichia gene sequences found in ticks collected from these migrating birds were identical to those of granulocytic ehrlichiosis found in domestic animals and humans in Sweden. These findings support the idea that birds may play a role in dispersing Ehrlichia.

The genus Ehrlichia contains several species of intracellular bacteria capable of causing clinical disease in humans and animals. Ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia of the Ehrlichia phagocytophila genogroup has been diagnosed in horses, dogs, and cats in Sweden, as well as in cattle and sheep (1). Cases of ehrlichiosis have been reported among humans in Scandinavia (2), and in Sweden, Ehrlichia have been detected in the tick Ixodes ricinus(3).

A common behavior of migrating birds is to feed and rest at stopover sites along their routes (4,5). At these sites, ticks and other ectoparasites may attach, and later detach along the migration route or in breeding areas. New foci of tick-borne diseases can be established in this way (6,7). Several investigations in Europe and the Middle East have examined the role of birds as carriers of ticks infected with tick-associated arboviruses and the Lyme borreliosis agent, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (7). However, the involvement of birds in the ecology and epidemiology of ehrlichiosis has not yet been studied.

The Study

Our investigation was designed to determine the frequency of Ehrlichia-infected ticks on migrating birds in Sweden and estimate the number of Ehrlichia-infected ticks being imported and exported by these birds. Ticks were collected from migratory passerine birds at a stopover site in southern Sweden (east coast of Oland), identified, and checked for the presence of Ehrlichia by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). To determine if different genomic species of Ehrlichia could be found in bird-borne ticks and indirectly in the birds, all Ehrlichia-positive PCR products were further subjected to DNA sequencing analysis.

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