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DOD — The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs

July 18, 2014 Comments off

The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs provides military families with children with special needs the information they need to make informed assignment decisions and easier transitions.

The directory consists of two components:

  • The Early Intervention Directory focusing on early intervention services for children birth through 3 years old
  • The School-Age Directory focusing on education services for children with special needs, 3 through 21 years old

Both provide tools and resources to help with the transition to a new location. The Early Intervention Directory summarizes national and state level early intervention trends and includes descriptions of local early intervention service providers. The School-Age Directory summarizes national and state level trends for special education and includes descriptions of individual school districts.

Note: Not just for military families. Lots of good info here.

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DOG OIG — Development and Implementation of Sexual Assault Evidence and Criminal Records Retention Policy

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Development and Implementation of Sexual Assault Evidence and Criminal Records Retention Policy
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
We initiated this review as required by the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.” Our objective was to review the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations’[1] (MCIO) progress in implementing DoD policy on the retention of and access to evidence and criminal records relating to sexual assault of service members as required by “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” and Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 5505.18, “Investigation of Adult Sexual Assault in the Department of Defense,” January 25, 2013, Incorporating Change 1, May 1, 2013.

Findings
DoD has developed policy for retaining and accessing evidence and criminal records for sexual assault victims as required by NDAA FY 2012. The MCIOs have issued Service-specific policies and procedures to implement Federal law and DoD guidance.

Recommendations
None.

Management Comments
No written response to this report was required.

Perspective Taking, Cultural Stress, and the Individual: From the Inside Out

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Perspective Taking, Cultural Stress, and the Individual: From the Inside Out
Source: Army Research Laboratory

In general, Western cultures focus on the world around the individual, and Eastern cultures focus on the group in which one belongs. In understanding how the American military interacts in foreign cultures, Soldier cultural perspectives, or what the individual Soldier brings to the table, must be understood to mitigate the potential effects of culture stress. The ability to maintain unit readiness and mission effectiveness in the midst of increasing peacekeeping missions ultimately depends on the performance of the Soldier. Personal, situational, and organizational factors within dynamic, changing, and stressful environments can affect a Soldier s overall performance. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory will investigate how Soldier individual differences, cultural stress, and perspective taking affect decision making through the Relevant Information for Social-Cultural Depiction. This report will show that inclusion of individual difference variables is essential to social-cultural model development, which will support predictions of decision-making performance in a multicultural environment.

DOD OIG — Procedures to Ensure Sufficient Rare Earth Elements for the Defense Industrial Base Need Improvement

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Procedures to Ensure Sufficient Rare Earth Elements for the Defense Industrial Base Need Improvement
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
We determined whether DoD effectively planned for life-cycle sustainment of rare earth elements (REE) for the defense industrial base (DIB). Specifically, we determined whether DoD effectively implemented procedures to maintain a sufficient and available supply of REEs for the DIB.

Finding
DoD lacked a comprehensive and reliable process to assess REE supply and demand. Specifically, Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials Division officials did not ensure that its modeling and simulation contractor used: REE supply forecasts that considered market and environmental risks; complete REE demand survey results; and verified economic consumption data to forecast REE demand.

This occurred because the Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials Division did not have adequate verification and validation procedures in place to ensure realistic supply and demand inputs and did not require that the contractor use an accredited model to forecast REE supply and demand.

As a result, DoD may not have identified all REEs with expected shortfalls, increasing the risk that those shortfalls will adversely affect critical weapons systems production in the DIB, and overall DoD readiness.

Recommendations
We recommend that the Director, Defense Logistics Agency–Strategic Materials Division:

  • develop and implement a verification and validation plan for REE supply and demand forecasting model inputs;
  • develop and implement procedures to ensure that future shortfall analyses compare DoD demand and supply for REEs under the same scenarios;
  • develop and implement procedures for obtaining DoD REE consumption data by leveraging Service acquisition executive participation and other techniques as appropriate;
  • develop and implement an accreditation plan for theforecasting model’s intended use; and
  • ensure that current and future contracts for models, simulations and associated data include verification, validation and accreditation procedures in the contract requirements.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Director, Defense Logistics Agency, Acquisition Directorate generally addressed the recommendations; however, comments on Recommendation 2 partially addressed the recommendation. Therefore, we are requesting additional comments on Recommendation 2 by August 4, 2014.

For man and country: atheist chaplains in the U.S. Army

July 2, 2014 Comments off

For man and country: atheist chaplains in the U.S. Army (PDF)
Source: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Non-theistic Humanists want equal representation in the U.S. Army claiming that no atheist or Humanist chaplains exist to meet the needs of the non-theistic population. Some Humanists consider Humanism a religion and believe the Army needs Humanist chaplains and Distinctive Faith Group Leaders (DFGL) to support this demographic. Other Humanists consider their beliefs non-religious and reject any identification with religion. This thesis examined the purpose and history of the U.S. Army Chaplaincy, the background and history of Humanism, and presented arguments both supporting and opposing atheist chaplains. The researcher interviewed Humanist leaders and U.S. Army chaplains to discover the needs of the non-theistic population and if the Army should appoint Humanist chaplains or DFGLs to meet those needs. The research revealed a gap in designated support for this demographic. The researcher concluded that this group does not have any religious requirements and therefore does not fall under the purview of the Chaplaincy. However, the researcher concluded that a non-religious leader should be available to represent the non-religious and non-theistic Army population.

Stigma of Mental Health Care in the Military

June 17, 2014 Comments off

Stigma of Mental Health Care in the Military (PDF)
Source: Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control

While anti-stigma efforts have been employed throughout all branches of the military , research shows that the stigma of mental illness in the military remains high (Hoge et al., 2004; Hoge et al., 2006). Military anti-stigma efforts include but are not limited to the following: (a) the Department of Defense’s (DoD) $2.7-million campaign focused on decreasing stigma in all military branches by inviting service members to share their stories of seeking help; (b) implementation of the combat and operational stress control continuum, allowing service members to be classified as “ready,” “reacting,” “injured” or “ill” rather than the dichotomous labels of “ready” or “ill”; (c) the “Real Warriors Campaign ” anti-stigma initiative that invites successfully treated service members to share their experiences about the effective mental health treatments available; (d) the Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) program developed by the Marine Corps that embeds mental health professionals in infantry regiments, logistics groups and air wings to aid in early identification and treatment of combat stress; and (e) the integration of psychology into primary care settings throughout all branches of service. In addition, post-deployment mental health screenings have been mandated for all military personnel returning from combat that aim to better identify and refer to specialty care, service members who are suffering from post – traumatic stress, depression and alcohol problems. Unfortunately, many at – risk service members do not follow through with needed treatment (Milliken, Auchterlonie, & Hoge, 2007; Bray et al., 2009). Several factors influence an individual’s level of stigma and resulting treatment – seeking behaviors, such as (a) attitudes of higher ranking military leaders, (b) potential repercussions of admitting to mental health issues, (c) gender, (d) marital status and (e) previous history of seeking treatment. Considering that military service members are exposed to significant t raumas and other situations not experienced by the general U.S. population, it is important that these individuals believe it is acceptable to receive mental health treatment. The many factors influencing stigma and treatment – seeking behavior in the milita ry population are discussed throughout this review.

Report: Enhancement of Protections on Consumer Credit for Members of the Armed Forces and Their Dependents

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Report: Enhancement of Protections on Consumer Credit for Members of the Armed Forces and Their Dependents (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

As requested in the House Report 112-705, page 783, accompanying H.R. 4319, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, DoD was asked “…to determine if changes to rules implementing section 987 [the Military Lending Act (MLA)] are necessary to protect covered borrowers from continuing and evolving predatory lending practices.” Bottom line: through DoD’s research and consultation with DoD financial counselors and legal assistance attorneys, industry, advocacy groups, and Service members and families, the definitions of credit in the implementing regulation for the MLA do need to be updated and expanded to ensure that the MLA continues to provide protections to Service members and their families. However, specific definitions of problematic credit no longer appear to function well in the current marketplace. The complexity of the marketplace appears to be better accommodated with a more comprehensive approach. Accordingly, the Department is working on such a comprehensive approach in its redrafting of the implementing regulation for the MLA.

Annual Report to Congress — Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2014

June 9, 2014 Comments off

Annual Report to Congress — Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2014
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to pursue a long-term, comprehensive military modernization program designed to improve the capacity of its armed forces to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity regional contingencies. Preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, which includes deterring or defeating third-party intervention, remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment. However, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also is placing emphasis on preparing for contingencies other than Taiwan, including potential contingencies in the South and East China Seas.

SIGAR — Baghlan Prison: Severe Damage to $11.3 Million Facility Requires Extensive Remedial Action

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Baghlan Prison: Severe Damage to $11.3 Million Facility Requires Extensive Remedial Action (PDF)
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

After construction of the Baghlan prison was completed in November 2012, building settlement occurred, which led to serious structural damage including wide cracks to three buildings. As a result, one building was demolished. Two other buildings also have collapsing walls and cracked structural beams and columns and will likely need to be rebuilt. The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and its contractor, Omran Holding Group (OHG), an Afghan firm, do not agree on the cause of the building settlement and remain in negotiation regarding OHG’s responsibility for repairing the facilities and assuming the cost of those repairs. Nonetheless, both parties agree that OHG did not fully comply with all contract requirements. For example, OHG failed to construct a required stormwater management system and substituted lower-grade plumbing materials that had been prohibited by INL. OHG also failed to deduct 10 percent from its billed invoices to create a retainage fund as required by the contract. This led to an $807,254 shortfall in funds, which should have been retained for INL’s protection in the event of a contract dispute.

Former Blue Angels’ CO Reprimanded at Admiral’s Mast (includes link to full report)

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Former Blue Angels’ CO Reprimanded at Admiral’s Mast
Source: U.S. Navy (U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs)

At an Admiral’s Mast proceeding on June 2, a former commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron – the Blue Angels – was found guilty of violating Uniform Code Military Justice articles 92 (failure to obey an order or regulation) and 133 (conduct unbecoming of an officer) by fostering a hostile command climate, failing to stop obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment, condoning widespread lewd practices within the squadron, and engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers.

As a result, Capt. Gregory McWherter was given non-judicial punishment in the form of a punitive letter of reprimand.

Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., convened the Admiral’s Mast after an investigation he ordered found McWherter allowed his officers and senior enlisted personnel to engage in inappropriate and sexually harassing behavior that significantly contributed to an unprofessional command climate during his second command tour as the Blue Angels commanding officer from May 2011 to November 2012.

The investigation concluded that McWherter witnessed, condoned, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic, and hostile. According to the investigation, at no time did the behavior lead to sexual assault.

Cross-Cultural Competence in the Department of Defense: An Annotated Bibliography

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Cross-Cultural Competence in the Department of Defense: An Annotated Bibliography (PDF)
Source: Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences

Given the current operational context, research both inside and outside the DoD has increasingly focused its efforts on better understanding the factors that contribute to effective cross-cultural performance. Of particular interest is the role cross-cultural competence (3C) plays in Service members’ ability to navigate cultural environments, as well as the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that military training should be targeting to improve performance-related outcomes. Over the past ten years, numerous studies and theoretical pieces have been developed that explore these issues as they relate to both military and general populations. This annotated bibliography represents an initial attempt to gather this collection of work into a single, comprehensive review to be used as a reference for those conducting research in this domain. Annotations hail from a number of different disciplines, including military psychology, organizational psychology, anthropology, and sociology, and range in content from theoretical to empirical studies, efforts at model building and computer technologies for understanding, and various methods for teaching and assessing 3C.

See also: Soldier Development Following Negative Cross-Cultural Experiences: An Integrated Review of the Literature (PDF)

Transgenders in the US military: policies, problems, and prospects

June 3, 2014 Comments off

Transgenders in the US military: policies, problems, and prospects (PDF)
Source: Naval Postgraduate School (thesis — Mendez)

This study explores the policies, problems, and prospects related to transgenders serving in the U.S. military. Simply defined, “transgender” refers to persons whose gender identity , behavior, or expression does not conform to their sex assigned at birth. Yet, as the present study shows, the terminology and associated issues are complicated and defy simple definitions. The U.S. military currently prohibits transgenders from joining or serving openly, as seen in policies and medical standards identified by the study. A number of other nations do not prohibit transgenders from serving in their military. The study focuses on the practices of two such nations, Australia and Canada. Also examined is the trend toward changing medical classifications of transgender, resulting from revised perspectives by the world’s most authoritative sources. Notably, these sources have shifted away from classifying gender incongruence as a disorder or placing it in a mental health category. The study concludes that medical reasons for excluding transgenders from the U.S. military are inconsistent with prevailing views. Several areas for further research are recommended.

DOD OIG — Opportunities for Cost Savings and Efficiencies in the DoD Permanent Change of Station Program

May 29, 2014 Comments off

Opportunities for Cost Savings and Efficiencies in the DoD Permanent Change of Station Program
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
The objective of the audit was to determine whether DoD could implement potential cost savings and efficiencies throughout the DoD Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Program.

Finding
While DoD and the Services implemented or plan to implement various initiatives to reduce costs and improve the PCS Program, additional efficiencies and savings within the $4.2 billion PCS Program could be realized by implementing controls to ensure that:

  • the Services are tracking and managing nontemporary storage (NTS) entitlements, and service members assume management and financial responsibility and payment for NTS liabilities after the initial entitlement period expires;
  • the Army improves oversight of overpayments made for service members who exceed their maximum household goods (HHG) weight entitlements when conducting legacy system multiple shipments;
  • personnel property shipping office personnel use the most cost-effective method to accomplish domestic moves weighing 1,000 pounds or less;
  • DoD imposes weight limits for HHG shipments during certain local moves;
  • DoD uses the most cost-effective mode of transportation for all overseas PCS moves; and
  • DoD considers implementing a statutory incentive that would allow service members to voluntarily reduce the weight of shipped HHG and receive a portion of the savings.

Recommendations
We recommend that Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/ Chief Financial Officer, DoD; Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness; and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Transportation Policy, convene a working group to study the feasibility of implementing a statutory incentive to encourage sharing of costs savings when minimizing the weight of HHG shipments.

A Soldier’s Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army’s Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?

May 29, 2014 Comments off

A Soldier’s Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army’s Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.

The authors argue that an urgent leadership issue has arisen which is strongly, but not favorably, influencing our professional culture–a hostility toward religion and its correct expressions within the military. Setting aside the role of Chaplains as a separate issue, the focus here is on the role religion may play in the moral character of individual soldiers–especially leaders–and how their personal morality, faith-based or not, is to be integrated with their profession’s ethic so they can serve in all cases “without reservation” as their oath requires.

DoD Standards of Conduct Office, An Ethics Guide for Special Government Employees

May 14, 2014 Comments off

DoD Standards of Conduct Office, An Ethics Guide for Special Government Employees (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Standards of Conduct Office

At the Department of Defense (DoD), we are fortunate to have many experts and industry leaders from outside of the Government to provide advice to the Secretary as consultants and experts, such as members of an advisory committee. Because many of you retain ties to Defense industries or other organizations related to national security, it is important that you understand potential conflicts of interest that may arise from your appointment to this Department. Recognizing your demanding schedules, this guidance only briefly summarizes those statutes and regulations most likely to affect you, and does not describe each element or exception. You should consult an ethics attorney for more detailed advice.

Transcript — Gen. Dempsey’s Bloggers Roundtable Interview on Sexual Assault in the Military

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Gen. Dempsey’s Bloggers Roundtable Interview on Sexual Assault in the Military
Source: Joint Chiefs of Staff (DoD)

I would suggest to you that what makes the United States military exceptional is the bond of trust that must bind it together because of what we ask young men and women to do. We ask them to put themselves in harm’s way, ultimately, and to do that they got to have an incredible degree of trust among them. And that’s why this particular issue is so – is so corrosive and so damaging to the military because it erodes that bond of trust.

Department of Defense Issues New Initiatives to Eliminate Sexual Assault, Updates Prevention Strategy and Releases 2013 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military

May 1, 2014 Comments off

Department of Defense Issues New Initiatives to Eliminate Sexual Assault, Updates Prevention Strategy and Releases 2013 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Today the Department of Defense issued new initiatives designed to continue its efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the military, directed implementation of an updated sexual assault prevention strategy and released its annual report on sexual assault in the military for fiscal year 2013.

The department’s response to sexual assault is fundamentally different than it was two years ago. Since May 2013, Secretary Hagel has directed more than 28 initiatives to enhance commander accountability, ensure the appropriate command climate, improve victim support, and enhance safety.

Defense Planning for National Security: Navigation Aids for the Mystery Tour

May 1, 2014 Comments off

Defense Planning for National Security: Navigation Aids for the Mystery Tour
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

The challenge that is defense planning includes: “educated futurology” and the humanities as methodological approaches; futurists and scenarios, trend spotting and defense analysis; the impossibility of science in studying the future; the impossibility of verification by empirical testing of hypotheses; the value of the humanities which are politics, strategy, and history for defense planning; the use and misuse of analogy; learning from history; why and how strategic history works; and recommendations for the Army. What can be learned from history and what cannot are discussed in this analysis.

SIGAR — Afghan Customs: U.S. Programs Have Had Some Successes, but Challenges Will Limit Customs Revenue as a Sustainable Source of Income for Afghanistan

April 29, 2014 Comments off

Afghan Customs: U.S. Programs Have Had Some Successes, but Challenges Will Limit Customs Revenue as a Sustainable Source of Income for Afghanistan (PDF)
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

A nation’s ability to control its borders is essential in controlling the flow of licit and illicit goods and assessing appropriate tariffs and customs duties. Customs revenue is a major component of Afghanistan’s national budget, which is currently funded through a combination of domestic revenue collections and aid from international donors. For Afghanistan’s 3 most recent fiscal years, customs revenue collections produced $698 million-$1.1 billion annually, accounting for 44-48 percent of total domestic revenue collection. However, domestic revenues continue to fall short of expenditures, and international assistance is expected to decline in coming years. As a result, increasing the Afghan government’s collection of domestic revenues is a main objective of both the U.S. and Afghan governments.

According to USAID, CBP, and TAFA officials, corruption impacts all levels of the customs process and is the biggest problem affecting Afghan customs processes and revenues. The scale and impact of corruption in Afghanistan’s customs process is difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, USAID and ACD officials hypothesize that eliminating or significantly reducing corruption in the customs process could potentially double the customs revenues remitted to the central government. The BMTF also noted that criminal networks use intimidation to smuggle commodities, resulting in the estimated loss of approximately $25 million annually for wheat and rice imports at a single customs location. In a separate estimate, TAFA officials stated that approximately $60 million is lost annually to commercial smuggling. Further complicating efforts to combat criminal and patronage networks are reports from BMTF advisers that Afghan employees are being kidnapped and intimidated because they are listening to the BMTF advisers and properly collecting customs duties.

To help reduce corruption, the Afghan and U.S. governments proposed streamlining and automating customs processes. Two major innovations in the automation of customs processes—a risk management system and an electronic payment system—were started under TAFA. The risk management system, created to facilitate the targeted inspection of imported cargo, is designed to optimize the use of limited security resources and decrease transit times. While the ACD accepted the risk management system in principle, it reportedly considered it too difficult to operate and chose to adopt a scaled down approach, with the successive implementation of specific parts of the risk management system over a period of years.

Similarly, progress in implementing an electronic payment system for customs duties has been slow. Currently, customs fees in Afghanistan are processed in cash at the inland customs depots where the imported cargo is inspected and assessed customs duties. This system can lead to customs brokers traveling long distances with large quantities of cash to pay customs fees assessed on imported goods. The current cash-based payment system is inefficient, leaves customs brokers vulnerable to theft, and increases the opportunities for corruption. According to USAID and TAFA program officials, at the conclusion of the TAFA programs in August 2013, the ACD had the equipment and technical knowledge needed to launch a pilot system. However, USAID officials stated that the electronic payment system was delayed, due in part, to a proposal by an Afghan official to allow only one Afghan bank to process all of the electronic customs payments. This arrangement would have given the selected bank a significant and improper advantage over its competitors. Although the risk management and the electronic payment systems are highlighted in the TAFA and ATAR contract documents as important anti-corruption measures, SIGAR found that the ATAR contract does not require the implementing partner to meet annual targets for implementing these systems.

SIGAR — Department of State Assistance to Afghanistan: $4 Billion Obligated Between 2002 and 2013

April 28, 2014 Comments off

Department of State Assistance to Afghanistan: $4 Billion Obligated Between 2002 and 2013 (PDF)
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Congress appropriated $96.57 billion between fiscal year (FY) 2002 and FY 2013 for Afghanistan reconstruction, principally for the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State (State) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

DOD, State, and USAID rely extensively on contractors and other implementing partners to undertake reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. To provide more effective oversight and to meet our reporting requirements to monitor contracts and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has requested information from U.S. government agencies concerning how and where U.S. funds appropriated for the reconstruction of Afghanistan are spent. In February 2013, SIGAR issued an inquiry requesting that all U.S. Government agencies conducting reconstruction activities in Afghanistan provide comprehensive information on all contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements awarded for those activities, from fiscal year 2002 through the date of the inquiry. This report provides an analysis of the information obtained in State Department’s response. This report does not include any recommendations. SIGAR is presenting this data here to inform Congress and the U.S. taxpayer how their reconstruction dollars are being spent in Afghanistan.

My office found that State Department data for contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements awarded prior to calendar year 2005 included some entries that were not clearly related to reconstruction in Afghanistan. However, State data for contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants issued after 2005 are considerably more reliable and, after careful analysis, we were able to identify contracts relevant to Afghanistan with a reasonable level of confidence.

See: More than Two-Thirds of Afghanistan Reconstruction Money has Gone to One Company: DynCorp International (AllGov.com)

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