Effective Security With A Lorex Camera

Home and office security systems are the main business of Lorex Technology and they have been developing equipment since the 1990s. They offer a wide range of surveillance equipment to help owners protect their properties. Choosing a Lorex camera can be a smart move for anyone looking to use this type of equipment.

Indoor surveillance equipment is available in a few different styles and this includes dome, bullet and night vision cameras. These typically come in a wired set up, with wires installed between the cameras and the central control. For quicker and easier installation, bullet style cameras are also available with a wireless set up. For those that want to keep their security less obvious, Lorex also produces covert cameras designed to blend into the building surroundings.

Monitoring the area surrounding a building can help with security. Outdoor cameras are designed for this purpose and come in domed and bullet shapes. The cameras typically offer standard pictures, although some also have night vision and motion sensor capabilities. They are manufactured to be robust, so they can resist the worst of the weather and still function.

In many cases the sight of a surveillance camera can be enough to deter a would-be criminal. A dummy camera can be therefore be an effective security measure. Lorex caters to this need by producing authentic looking fake cameras. These can be placed in a prominent location to make a building a less likely target for intruders. The benefit of this style is that it is less costly.

Action sports participants often film their exploits with small wearable cams. Lorex produce these in three different styles for wearing or attaching to sports equipment. The styles include sunglasses with an installed camera, a cam from wearing on a helmet and an action cam for mounting on sports gear.

Internet protocol cameras are designed to be connected to and controlled from a standard home computer. They come in wired and wireless set-ups and can simply be placed in a convenient location in a property. The view from the camera can be accessed over the internet, meaning that someone can check the security of their home from a smart phone or PC.

Many prospective and new parents consider using a baby monitor. One that incorporates video as well as audio can be a good choice and there is a Lorex camera collection that caters to this. These comprise a camera and viewing screen which connect through wireless means. Parents can therefore monitor a sleeping baby from a remote location.

Learning more about the Lorex Camera models is simple when you know where to search. Read the online Lorex Review pages for specifics.

Technology Adds More Security To Your Business

In today’s world, it seems that almost any topic is open for debate. While I was gathering facts for this article, I was quite surprised to find some of the issues I thought were settled are actually still being openly discussed.

There are many technological wonders in the world today. Not the least among these wonders is the new technologies that exist in order to allow families and employees to feel a little bit safer within the confines of their homes and workplaces. One way this is accomplished is through a new technology that allows people to unlock a door by entering a key. Well, this is not exactly new technology though it is newly implemented in the average market. For perhaps the first time, this is an affordable option for use as another home or business security measure even for the smallest of businesses.

More than offering another layer of security for keeping intruders out, there is an added layer of security for allowing family members and/or employees in quickly even when keys are not easily found. Parents will never need to worry about teens forgetting their keys and being locked out. More importantly, families will no longer need to implement a hiding place for keys in this unfortunate event. Cold weather, rain, and panic (because of noises in the night) will no longer mitigate the ability to find keys in the bottoms of purses, handbags, and backpacks-a simple key code is all that will be needed in order to gain entry.

In addition to this benefit however is the added benefit that many of these interesting door locks also have the technology to read a card in order to unlock as well as a device attached to key fobs. You can also avoid fumbling around in the dark trying to force the key to actually fit into the lock. This will be taken care of automatically. No more lost time, broken nails, or dropped groceries in an effort to gain entry into the home. This home and/or business security feature can eliminate these issues all together.

Now that we’ve covered those aspects of technology for home and business security, let’s turn to some of the other factors that need to be considered.

For employers who own businesses, this adds another layer of security, as it can be a requirement for entry into the building. Pass out cards to all employees with a unique identifying number and at any given time there should be a clear record of who was in the building after hours or who gained early entry into the building. If anything is amiss there is a record of who came and went when (of course this isn’t infallible but it will help if ever there is a need for this information).

Security is important to all of us in this day and age. In fact, security is probably a greater concern for most at this point in time than it was during the height of the Cuban missile crisis. No longer are the unseen enemies far away but now they can work in the same office or live next door. The bad guys do not always wear black hats and, unfortunately, they most often do not carry signs around proclaiming their evil intentions. We need to protect our families, our employees, and ourselves from the potential evil within as much as the evil that exists outside our borders. This device allows business owners to closely monitor who comes and goes within their business and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the modern world.

The technology exists and is now more affordable than at any other time in the past. As a matter of fact, it isn’t much more expensive to obtain this technology as it would be to purchase one of the higher end door locks and deadbolts that are on the market today. For this reason alone it is a good idea to keep this technology in mind and consider incorporating it into both your home and your business as an added security protocol.

If you are considering a security upgrade for your home or business, an electronic entry system is well worth looking into. The benefits go far beyond the typical security measure of keeping those who aren’t exactly invited in but also allows record keeping of those that come and go in businesses and much easier access for homes.

I hope that reading the above information was both enjoyable and educational for you. Your learning process should be ongoing–the more you understand about any subject, the more you will be able to share with others.

Copyright © Le Tuan Anh

To find the best home based business ideas and opportunities so you can work at home visit: http://www.YourTurnkeyProfits.com

Rocket Bar Wine
business security measure
Image by Mr.TinDC
Glass of red wine at Rocket Bar, on 7th Street NW in downtown Washington DC, with pool table in the background. Flickr Explore, December 8, 2008.

Blogged (also, see comments below):

More Business Security Measure Articles

A Home Security System Can Help Ensure Your Family’s Safety

There is a need to strengthen the effectiveness of home security systems since crimes are getting more rampant and more organized. With home security systems, you feel secured and your family is safe when you are not around the house. With the right budget, you can get various monitoring systems for your home or office. This security measure comes in two basic types namely the monitored and the unmonitored systems.

Monitored home security systems are more costly than systems that are unmonitored so the unmonitored ones are more commonly used by consumers. This type of systems comes with an alarm that will produce a loud sound when someone of something triggers it. The sound is set to a certain degree of loudness so that neighbors will respond and call immediate help. The monitored security system is more advanced because it has constant connection to the local call center such that when an emergency occurs it will automatically send distress signals to them which then inform you of such an incident. The company will make sure first that it is a legitimate alarm and not accidentally set off.

Home security systems include both indoor and outdoor monitoring. In the typical indoor security system, alarms installed in the doors and windows make up the security system. They can even detect the movements in the house through motion sensors. You have to enter a special code to activate this system and this type works best if you are leaving the house deserted for some period. The indoor monitoring systems come in sophisticated varieties that can even detect and trigger alarms taking into account the intruder’s size and weight. In that way, if your pet walks by the alarm will not be accidentally activated. If your house is going to be deserted during the night, activate the alarm in such a way that at the slightest suspicion of intruder detection, the outdoor floodlights will be turned on.

Monitoring systems are never complete without installing home security cameras. There are different types of video surveillance when you are ready to get one. The best two types to use for your home are the nanny cameras or the portable cameras. Nanny cameras, also called covert cameras, you can conceal within a light fixture or in a stuffed toy. This is the best choice if you want to keep an eye on your kids when they are alone at home or if you want to monitor your babysitter about whom you have your suspicions. Portable cameras work best as home security cameras because they easily cover small rooms from a fixed location. Portable cameras also withstand frequent moving from room to room.

Once you are getting ready to leave on a business trip or on a vacation, update the current security system. There are always newer and better alarm systems in the market and updating them regularly will assure you more safety. Get a gardener to trim the hedges and bushes because that it is one place where petty burglars will hide. If you are living in an area, which has poor lighting conditions, have a night vision security camera monitoring your garage and garden.

Just as securing your home is important, it is also equally important to insure all the valuables that you have at home. Check out all the online policies related to home and property insurance and choose the one that suits your requirements. Also equally important, be sure to repair the broken locks at home. Get the locks on the windows or doors fixed by a certified locksmith immediately, irrespective of where the window or door might be. Do not live under the false assurance that your home remains safe from burglary because the broken window or door is located on the upper story.

Finding the best home security system to guard your family takes a bit of research. The top home security systems will guard you and your property. As home security cameras continue to update, so do home security system setups.

Obama Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 2009
business security measure
Image by The Fanboy
A Wordle.net graphic of Obama’s Inaugural Address.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the

sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity

and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of

prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging

storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office,

but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding


So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of

violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of

some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been

lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day

brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a

sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next

generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we

gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out

dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time

has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that

noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and

all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our

journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for

those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the

risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor,

who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these

men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life.

They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or

wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no

less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed

than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing

pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting

today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we

will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and

bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science

to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will

harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our

schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will


Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many

big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and

women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments

that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too

big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can

afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no,

programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely,

reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust

between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and

expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out

of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy

has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our

ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to

our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers,

faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a

charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for

expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals

to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman,

and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

ecall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy

alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us

to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the

justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand

even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly

leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will

work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize

for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing

terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot

outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims,

Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this

Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter

stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of

tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that

America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that

your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through

corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we

will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters

flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty,

we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s

resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at

this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the

fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a

willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will

define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people

upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of

workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a

child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our

success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism –

these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a

recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties

that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying

to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can

join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not

have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s

birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river.

The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome

of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could

survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words.

With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by

our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor

did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of

freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

NewsLife: Agri-business supports food security measures by Sec. Pangilinan (Reported By: Noel Perfecto) – [May 14, 2014]

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Security – Welcoming The Skeptic

It is estimated that three out of every five people you meet will have never purchased anything online. This means that only 40% of the population is online consumers.

For some, the lack of response can be tied to not having or wanting adequate knowledge to complete an online purchase. These consumers are happy visiting brick and mortar stores and see no use in transferring funds electronically to someone they don’t know.

One of the primary reasons for a reduction in online sales is that many consumers are fearful they may be unwittingly placing their financial status at risk if they make an online purchase.

The reason for their fear is understandable. After all, we regularly hear of identity theft, spam and fraud. The feeling is that if no purchases are ever made online this is simply another security measure that will safeguard their family.

There has been a significant amount of security tools that are available for online business to allow safe online transactions.

One of the issues many online businesses report is the despair they feel when they discover how many online visitors spend time shopping and then simply abandon the shopping cart. They never make it to the point of sale.

Something frightened them away and chances are strong that they felt that because they had no previous dealings with your company that to complete the purchase might be a risk.

Reports indicate that conversation rates go up when security measures are prominently featured. This includes encryption systems that protect data as well as strict assurances that customers personal data will never be sold, given or lent to any third party.

Prior to the Do Not Call registry Americans were inundated with inbound phone calls and, as unfortunate as it may be, consumers are less forgiving in virtually all areas of product consumption today because of telemarketing.

It is true there is expense involved in the implementation of security measures, but if you could realize a conversation rate of even 5% wouldn’t that more than pay for the costs associated with providing your customers with yet another reason to trust your online store?

The growth of ecommerce is increasing every year and in many cases is outpacing traditional storefronts, but there is still a large segment of the population that has yet to make an online purchase. What can you do to welcome these customers and then prove to them that your business really can be trusted to provide the safest environment for their first online purchase?

Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects. Get your own website online in just 5 minutes with HighPowerSites at: http://www.highpowersites.com. Start your own ebook business with BooksWealth at: http://www.bookswealth.com

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: De Havilland Canada DHC-1A Chipmunk Pennzoil Special
business security measure
Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | De Havilland-Canada DHC-1A Chipmunk, Pennzoil Special

De Havilland originally designed the Chipmunk after World War II as a primary trainer to replace the venerable Tiger Moth. Among the tens of thousands of pilots who trained in or flew the Chipmunk for pleasure was veteran aerobatic and movie pilot Art Scholl. He flew his Pennzoil Special at air shows throughout the 1970s and early ’80s, thrilling audiences with his skill and showmanship and proving that the design was a top-notch aerobatic aircraft.

Art Scholl purchased the DHC-1A in 1968. He modified it to a single-seat airplane with a shorter wingspan and larger vertical fin and rudder, and made other changes to improve its performance. Scholl was a three-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, an air racer, and a movie and television stunt pilot. At air shows, he often flew with his dog Aileron on his shoulder or taxied with him standing on the wing.

Gift of the Estate of Arthur E. Scholl

De Havilland Canada Ltd.

Art Scholl


Country of Origin:
United States of America

Wingspan: 9.4 m (31 ft)
Length: 7.9 m (26 ft)
Height: 2.1 m (7 ft 1 in)
Weight, empty: 717 kg (1,583 lb)
Weight, gross: 906 kg (2,000 lb)
Top speed: 265 km/h (165 mph)
Engine: Lycoming GO-435, 260 hp

Overall: Aluminum Monocoque

Physical Description:
Single-engine monoplane. Lycoming GO-435, 260 hp engine.

Long Description:
The de Havilland Chipmunk was originally designed as a post World War II primary trainer, a replacement for the venerable de Havilland Tiger Moth training biplane used by the air forces of the British Commonwealth throughout World War II. Among the tens of thousands of pilots who trained in or flew the Chipmunk for pleasure was veteran aerobatic and movie pilot Art Scholl. He flew his Pennzoil Special at airshows around the country throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, thrilling audiences with skill and showmanship, and proving that the design itself was a top-notch aerobatic aircraft.

The Chipmunk was designed, initially built and flown by de Havilland Canada subsidiary, hence the very Canadian "woods country" sounding name of Chipmunk that complemented their other aircraft the Beaver, Otter, and Caribou. The prototype first flew on May 22, 1946 in Toronto. DeHavilland of Canada produced 158 Chipmunks and de Havilland in England produced 740 airplanes for training at various Royal Air Force and University Air Squadrons during the late 1940s and into the 1950s. In 1952, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh took his initial flight training in a Chipmunk. It was also used in other roles, such as light communications flights in Germany and for internal security duties on the island of Cyprus.

The Chipmunk was an all-metal, low wing, tandem two-place, single engine airplane with a conventional tail wheel landing gear. It had fabric-covered control surfaces and a clear plastic canopy covering the pilot and passenger/student positions. The production versions of the airplane were powered by a 145 hp in-line de Havilland Gipsy Major "8" engine.

Art Scholl purchased two Canadian-built Chipmunks from the surplus market after they became available in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He purchased the two-place DHC-1A, N114V, first and it now resides in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In 1968, Scholl bought another DHC-1A and began extensive modifications that resulted in almost a completely new aircraft. He covered over one cockpit to reconfigure the aircraft into a single-place aircraft and installed a (fuel injected) 260 hp Lycoming GO-435 flat-opposed 6-cylinder engine. He removed 20 inches from each wingtip and changed the airfoil section of the tip area. The reduction in span led to the need to lengthen the ailerons inboard to retain control effectiveness. This in turn reduced the flaps to where they became somewhat ineffective, and, since the flaps really were not required for the normal show and aerobatic routines, he removed them as a weight saving measure. These modifications improved the low speed tip stall characteristics and improved roll performance during aerobatic maneuvers.

The vertical fin and rudder acquired a 25% increase in area and an increased rudder throw to manage the effects of increased engine torque and for better directional control during slow-speed aerobatic routines. The standard fixed landing gear was replaced with a retractable gear from a Bellanca airplane. The landing gear was subsequently damaged during a belly landing and resulted in a permanent wheel toe-in that was never repaired. This caused a tire drag during takeoffs and landings that led to the need for tire replacement after about 10 takeoffs and landings. Other idiosyncrasies were the pitot static tube being fashioned from a golf club shaft and a 3-inch extension added to the cockpit control stick to ease the control loads during the more severe aerobatic routines. Scholl also installed rear-view mirrors on both sides of the cowling just forward of the windscreen. He placed an RAF placard on the instrument panel as a memorial to some Vulcan bomber crew members who were his personal friends. He installed three smoke generators with red, white, and blue smoke for his show routines that included the Lomcevak tumbling/tailslide maneuver.

Scholl designed most of these modifications himself, drawing upon his Ph.D. and his 18 years as a university professor in aeronautics. He held all pilot ratings, and was a licensed aircraft and powerplant (A&P) mechanic and an authorized FAA Inspector. He was also a three-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, an air racer (placing several times at the National Air Races at Reno), an airshow pilot, and a fixed base operator with a school of international aerobatics. In 1959, Scholl began working for legendary Hollywood pilots Frank Tallman and Paul Mantz at Tallmantz Aviation and then later formed his own movie production company, producing and performing aerial photography and stunts for many movies and television shows. At airshows, Scholl often flew with his dog Aileron, who rode the wing as Scholl taxied on the runway or sat on his shoulder in the aircraft.

Art Scholl was killed in 1985 while filming in a Pitts Special for the movie Top Gun. Art Scholl’s estate donated the Pennzoil Special, N13Y, serial number 23, and his staff delivered it to the Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland on August 18, 1987. It is currently on display at the Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.

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London February 10 2014 040 Visitor Pass Parliament
business security measure
Image by David Holt London
3.35 pm

Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood) (Lab)
(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to make a statement on the Government’s recent response to the flooding in Somerset, and to clarify his comments this weekend accusing the Environment Agency of giving poor advice.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Eric Pickles):
As evident from the dark skies outside, we continue to face extraordinary and sustained wet weather. Cobra has met every day since my oral statement on Thursday, with all Departments working closely together, including my comrades from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We have made it clear again that every resource is available to local communities affected. We will keep providing whatever immediate practical support and assistance is needed, whether extra pumps and sandbags, military support on the ground, or emergency funds from the severe weather assistance fund for local councils.

The Somerset moors and levels have been some of the areas hardest hit by the weather, with 65 million cubic metres of floodwater on the land. The Rivers Tone and Parrett have been particularly affected by the continuous rainfall, leading to heightened river levels. In total, people in 150 properties across the Somerset levels, where there is a threat of severe flooding, have been advised to leave their homes. A rest centre has been established in Bridgwater. Military personnel have been tasked to work alongside local authorities, and are currently filling sandbags for deployment. Pumping continues, but it is a challenge to keep at the correct pace with the inflow from the latest rainfall, and levels are increasing in some areas. It is likely to take weeks to remove the sheer volume of floodwater, once there is a significant break in the weather.

Across the Thames valley and Surrey, the River Thames is rising and bursting its banks at certain locations. A sandbag programme is in place at key points of vulnerability. A multi-agency gold command has been set up in Croydon to co-ordinate the response locally, and a major incident has been declared. There is a high risk that the Thames, the Severn and the Wye will flood in the middle of next week. Local residents are actively engaged in planning and preparation.

As I told the House on Thursday, I commend the hard work of the emergency services, local authorities, the armed services and the staff of the Environment Agency on the ground. As I have said, there are lessons to be learned, including about its policy on dredging and how its £1.2 billion budget is spent.

I note that the issue of international development funding was touched on over the weekend. Let me say this: just as it is a false choice to cast town versus country, it is also wrong to pit helping the victims of flooding at home against helping those suffering abroad. We can and should do both—to help the plight of those facing the awfulness of flooded homes in Britain, just as we take action to help malnourished children dying from dirty water abroad. But I believe that taxpayers’ money should be well spent, and this applies just as much to quangos as it does to the international aid budget. By spending money wisely, we can better meet our moral obligations, first to Britain and then to the world, but the first and primary obligation of Her Majesty’s Government is the defence of the realm—urban and rural, city and county—and that is exactly what we are doing.

Maria Eagle:
I thank the Secretary of State for his update.

I have no doubt that those who are being affected by the severe flooding in Somerset and now in the Thames valley welcome the assistance that they are now receiving. It is a considerable relief to those who are living and farming on the Somerset levels that the Army has been made available to assist in the efforts to protect homes, farms and other businesses. That news, combined with the efforts of the fire and rescue services, the police, Environment Agency staff and the many volunteers, shows that there is finally a concerted effort to respond to the floods.

Does the Secretary of State understand people’s anger and frustration that it took so long for the Government to organise that level of response, considering that many of them have been dealing with rising water levels since before Christmas? Will he ensure that it does not take so long to help those in the Thames valley who face flooding today? Why did the Prime Minister remain so disengaged from what was clearly a worsening crisis for so long, in sharp contrast to his predecessor in 2007? What lessons have been learned to ensure that we never again see flooded communities left abandoned for weeks? Will the Secretary of State assure the House that the same level of assistance will be made available to those in Berkshire and Surrey, where severe flood warnings are in place?

Will the Secretary of State provide an update on the work to restore vital rail connectivity to Devon and Cornwall? Have Ministers formally asked Network Rail to present options for a long-term solution to the vulnerability of the line, including the option of re-routing?

On the Environment Agency, does the Secretary of State agree with the Prime Minister that

“This is a time for everyone to get on with the jobs that they have… This is not the time to change personnel, this is the time to get on and do everything we can to help people. I back the Environment Agency. I back the work they are doing.”?

If so, why did the Secretary of State go to such lengths yesterday to give the opposite impression as he toured the TV studios? Does he believe that

“the Environment Agency has been remarkably good in giving good, accurate information”?

Those are the words that he used on “The World at One” last Wednesday. Will he explain what changed his mind about the quality of the advice from the Environment Agency in the following 48 hours, other than the fact that he spotted a convenient scapegoat to distract attention from the Government’s failure?

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why the Prime Minister has been unable to deny that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been forced to write a letter objecting to the attack on one of his Department’s agencies by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government? Does he accept, in hindsight, that it was wrong to launch such a direct attack on the staff of the Environment Agency, and will he take this opportunity to apologise? Does he really believe that the cut of £97 million or 17% in real terms to the annual funding of the Environment Agency, which was required by Ministers, did not impact on the agency’s ability to prevent the flooding that we have seen?

In the House last Thursday, I asked the Secretary of State about the Pitt review, which was commissioned by the last Government after the 2007 floods. He was unable to answer my questions and instead commented that,

“The hon. Lady asked why we have not updated the Pitt review. She will recall that we set up the Flood Forecasting Centre… Perhaps she should spend a little less time in the television studios and more time with Google.”—[Official Report, 6 February 2014; Vol. 575, c. 447.]

Of course, a quick search using Google would have informed the right hon. Gentleman that the Flood Forecasting Centre was set up by the previous Government and opened by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) in 2009. I hope that he is better informed today.

Will the Secretary of State explain why the Government stopped producing progress reports on the implementation of the 92 recommendations of the Pitt review in January 2012, despite 46 of them being labelled “on-going”? Is it still the case that none of the recommendations under

“Knowing where and when it will flood”

have been implemented in full? What has happened to the six recommendations on reducing the risk of flooding, the 10 on being rescued and cared for during an emergency and the seven on maintaining power supplies that had not been implemented in full? How many of those have still not been completed by Ministers? Will he explain why the Government axed the Cabinet Committee on improving the country’s ability to deal with flooding and the national resilience forum, both of which were recommended in the Pitt review and established by the last Government? Finally, will the Secretary of State reconsider his refusal to agree to our request that regular progress reports on the implementation of the Pitt review be restarted? Will he commit to presenting the first update to the House by the end of this month?

Mr Pickles:
The hon. Lady seems to be obsessed by process. We are much more concerned with making a concerted effort to deal with the problem of flooding.

On readiness, we understand that as the week progresses, there will be increased flooding along the Thames valley. The substantial gravel layers in the valley will make it more difficult to put barriers up. Nevertheless, we have continued to ensure that demountables are available and the enormous help from the military will continue. [Hon. Members: “Answer the question.”] Forgive me, but I thought that I was answering about flooding, not some peculiar problem with regard to procedure.

Today I was in Croydon looking at a water station that ensures there is clean water for 47,000 properties. I looked at the magnificent work of the Environment Agency and of local gold command, which is putting together a team for action to ensure that properties are not flooded and that clean water is available.

On the Environment Agency, it is entirely wrong for the hon. Lady to suggest for one moment that I have issued even the slightest criticism of its marvellous work force. My admiration for the work of the Environment Agency exceeds no one, and I believe it is time for us all to start to work together, not to make silly party political points. I am confident that with the help of the Environment Agency, the armed forces and the good work of local councils, that is exactly what we will do.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con):
I believe that we need a period of calm in the House because those who have been flooded, and those who are on the verge of being flooded, look to us to give some leadership. May we look at what is required to be done now in terms of clean water and sanitation to avoid a public health issue for those who have been unable to use their own facilities for a period of time? I welcome what the Prime Minister told the House last week, which was that everything that has happened under that Government, this Government, or any Government, will be looked at anew. We need leadership; the Environment Agency will do whatever its political masters ask it to do, and I think it has done that to the best of its ability. In future we can look at what lessons can be learned from this episode, but we are in the middle of an emergency and must allow the emergency services, including the Environment Agency, to do their work.

Mr Pickles:
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Her knowledge of matters relating to the environment, and particularly flooding because of the peculiar circumstances of her own constituency, is considerable. She is absolutely right, and it is a matter of some priority to ensure that those strategic sites, pumping stations, gas stations and those relating to electricity, are protected and can withstand the rigours of this terrible weather.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab):
I cannot remember a more complacent or inadequate response from a Cabinet Minister to a serious matter in this House. Last year, after last winter’s floods and the travel disruption in the south-west, the Government announced £31 million of new money for improved rail resilience in the south-west. That money has still not materialised. Why should anybody believe any of the new promises the Secretary of State is making when he has failed to deliver on any of them in the past?

Mr Pickles:
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman seems to resort to petty insults across the Chamber. There are people right now risking their lives and working on the railways to get them running and get a proper price worked out, and frankly, to play this rather pathetic game of who is to blame—[Interruption.] There will be a time when we will look closely into the causes of the floods and the reaction of the Government, but right now we should get on with the job.

Mr David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD):
On behalf of the people of Somerset may I say a big thank you to all those who have been working in the here and now, dealing with our emergency? I particularly welcome some of the biggest pumps that I have ever seen arriving on the levels over the weekend. There will come a time when we have to look at the emergency response, and also at long-term policies and the advice that we in Somerset have given to successive Governments and agencies over 20 years. Will the Secretary of State look at the funding stream available to local authorities, not just to deal with emergencies but to enable us to maintain these delicate structures far into the future?

Mr Pickles:
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. It is perhaps good to make the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater and West Somerset (Mr Liddell-Grainger) cannot be with us today—he is down there dealing with flooding matters. I am sure he would have made similar points.

I felt it was about time somebody apologised to the people of Somerset and I was happy to do so. The Prime Minister has endorsed that apology. It is true that the advice was solidly given, and that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last autumn started some preliminary dredging on the two rivers. That was due to start up again, and it will do so, but in a more enhanced role. That decision was taken by the wisdom of the Secretary of State.

Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab):
Today we have had a summary of the short-term, overdue measures that the Government are taking, but what about the long-term implications? What about climate change? Will Cobra, when it meets, look not only at adaptation, but at mitigation? Will the right hon. Gentleman speak to the Chancellor and ensure that we implement the fourth carbon budget review?

Mr Pickles:
Of course, we take climate change into consideration in all the modelling we do with regard to flooding, but the hon. Lady will accept that the weather patterns we have had have been truly remarkable—nothing like them have been seen since the latter part of the 18th century. I will ensure that her remarks on flooding are passed on to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con):
As the two main A roads from my constituency into Reading have been closed by floods, and as many homes, businesses and gardens have been inundated, sometimes with foul as well as surface water, will my right hon. Friend assure me that, in future, the £1,200 million budget and the near £100 million cash that the Environment Agency started the year with will be available for schemes that I and others recommend which could stop that water in future? Is it not about time that we had the promise of some action from the Environment Agency?

Mr Pickles:
We need to deal with the short-term effects of the floods given what is likely to happen over the next few weeks, but my right hon. Friend makes a reasonable point—it is not just the size of the Environment Agency budget, but what it does with it and what priorities it has. I am sure that, as the water recedes, there will be a lot of discussion between the Government and the Environment Agency.

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab):
May I suggest to the Secretary of State that, instead of engaging in this arrogant bluster, he answers the questions put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) from the Opposition Front Bench, and by colleagues who, along with their constituents, have experienced the terrible impacts of the flooding? He ought to apologise instead of continuously passing the buck and saying that it is everybody else’s responsibility but not the Government’s.

Mr Pickles:
For me, sorry is not the hardest word. I have been criticised for saying sorry to the people of Somerset, and the Prime Minister has said sorry to them. The problem with Labour Members, who talk of hubris and arrogance, is that they are never prepared to admit that they have done anything wrong and go around defending bad practice. The Government are prepared to say that we got it wrong, along with the Environment Agency, with regard to dredging. Had it not been for the campaigning efforts of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that dredging would not have started.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con):
We have had some flooding in Old Amersham and Chalfont St Peter. I praise the fire service and the local authorities, and the Environment Agency and its subcontractors, which have been pumping and saving buildings from flooding by the River Misbourne. Will the Secretary of State look very carefully at the Government’s spending priorities? I believe that the Government should protect our existing transport infrastructure, our towns and our countryside before spending money on new shiny projects that have a disgraceful cost-benefit ratio compared with the 1:8 cost-benefit ratio imposed on the Environment Agency?

Mr Pickles:
The House has grown to appreciate my right hon. Friend’s doughty defence of her constituents and her dislike of high-speed rail. The Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis) has just come back from Marlowe, where he examined the state of preparedness, and he reports the fantastic work of local firefighters, working alongside Environment Agency staff and the local police. No doubt my right hon. Friend will be calling him very soon to offer them some moral support.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab):
I met Fire Brigade Union representatives, representing firefighters in the south-west, last week, and they report that firefighters are working extremely hard for long hours. I pay tribute to them. But they asked me to make the point that they are being hampered by job cuts—2,000 firefighters over the last 18 months. In addition, although there has been an improvement in equipment, the Government still have not decided to establish a statutory duty on fire authorities to deal with flooding, which would protect investment in equipment in the future.

Mr Pickles:
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would also like to thank the thousands of retained firefighters for working hard on behalf of their local communities. I, too, had the opportunity to speak to firefighters this morning in Croydon. I was remarkably impressed by their dedication, hard work, cheerfulness and adaptability in ensuring that an important water pumping station remains open. We will ensure that firefighters have the best possible equipment to deal with this issue, and we have a strategic reserve of high-volume pumps that are being used extensively throughout the Thames valley and the Somerset levels.

Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con):
I would like to use this time to talk about Somerset and the decision that I took there, but I feel I must talk about my constituents, many of whom have had an utterly miserable week and have tough times ahead. Rivers such as the River Kennet, which I have known for all my 53 years, have never been dredged and never should be dredged, because it would mean that the water would flow very fast through my constituency and end up in Reading and beyond. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we give false hope to certain communities if the question comes down to the binary decision—to dredge or not to dredge? Getting it right has to be right for that catchment.

Mr Pickles:
My hon. Friend was a very distinguished environment Minister and he is 100% correct. What works in the Somerset levels might not be appropriate elsewhere. I represent an Essex constituency where several fields are regularly flooded, offering enormous protection to communities along the coast. His point about the Kennet is correct. It is the same problem when pumping out—the need to ensure that the flow is not so fast that it just creates additional flooding.

I do not think that my hon. Friend made a bad decision: I think that I would have made the same decision on the information that was available. He should not ascribe any blame to himself.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green):
I am glad that the Secretary of State is in a mood for apologies, because he might like to apologise to the Environment Agency, instead of engaging in a blame game that helps nobody. Sustainable urban drainage systems can play a key role in managing surface water flooding, and the Government’s statement that they will implement schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 for new housing developments is long overdue. Does he agree that people in existing housing should benefit from the cost-effective flood protection provided by sustainable urban drainage schemes, and will he agree to a comprehensive retrofit programme so that they can do so?

Mr Pickles:
The hon. Lady’s question is based on a false premise. I have not criticised the Environment Agency, whose staff are doing an excellent job. Merely expressing doubts about one aspect of the agency’s approach in the Somerset levels hardly qualifies as a criticism. The Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson) informs me that the very regulations that she seeks will be laid in April, and I hope that she will volunteer to serve on the relevant Delegated Legislation Committee.

Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) (LD):
Cornwall faces a repair bill in the tens of millions of pounds, and it will take months to put right the damage that the storms have caused. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that when claims are made under the Bellwin scheme, they will be expedited as quickly as possible?

Mr Pickles:
My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the battering that the coast of Cornwall has received. The decision I announced last week on the changes to the Bellwin formula—the first time in 30 years that we have changed the threshold—was made specifically to help Cornwall. I look forward to working with him and the county council to ensure it is compensated for the enormous effort it has put in.

Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd) (Lab):
For every £1 spent on flood defence, there is an £8 return. In the last year of the Labour Government, capital flood defence spending was £371 million. The following year, it was cut by this Government by £87 million, then £115 million, £94 million, £53 million and £35 million. Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to apologise to the people of Rhyl, St Asaph, Somerset levels, Dawlish and the Thames valley for the £400 million of costly capital cuts that have totally backfired and will cost this country billions?

Mr Pickles:
The hon. Lady—[Laughter.] I would never mistake the hon. Gentleman for a lady. I am so sorry.

We need to look at the straightforward arithmetic. In their last five years the Labour Government spent £2.7 billion. We will be spending £3.1 billion—a lot more money. They had added to it in 2007, so theirs is a boosted figure that is well below ours.

Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con):
The misery of the current floods is confined to one region of the country, but the fear of flooding extends to all regions of the country, particularly those that have suffered floods before. My right hon. Friend is right to commend and make the most of the emergency services and the help being given by them. It is, however, undoubtedly true that the best way to deal with flooding is prevention, not cure. For example, it will cost £200 million to £300 million to reinstall the Humber defences. That sounds like a lot of money until the day after a storm surge or major flood, so will my right hon. Friend make it clear to the Treasury that, unlike the previous Government, it should not go in for being penny wise and pound foolish?

Mr Pickles:
I am very familiar with the area to which my right hon. Friend refers, which has a sizeable proportion of holdings below sea level. I know the nature of the river and the historic floods that have taken place around Beverley and across to the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Miss McIntosh) towards York. People have suffered from flooding there in the past and he is right that there is a fear of floods. For years afterwards, people who have been flooded worry every time it rains. It is almost like being burgled: it is not just cleaning up the mess, but the psychological damage. The Government have a responsibility to ensure that residents are kept dry and that we do all we can to alleviate flooding. As my right hon. Friend rightly points out, we were playing, very heavily, catch-up.

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab):
Will the Secretary of State now answer the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) and tell us what assessment he has made of making flood attendance a statutory duty on fire services? If he has not made that assessment, will he do so and then report back to the House?

Mr Pickles:
That is contained within the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, with the local resilience forum. With enormous respect to the hon. Gentleman, I saw in Croydon what I have seen at all major incidents: a number of services working together very well. The local resilience forum, as I saw today in Croydon, is an exemplar of the way to do things. Making this a statutory duty would not help anything and would not make a single community safer.

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) (Con):
As my right hon. Friend wisely reflected, it is the exceptional weather that is responsible for flooding. Does he agree that, in the end, the forces of unstoppable nature humble us all, as we have faced the wettest January since 1767? As he rightly says, the time for review will come later, but does he agree that one lesson, as outlined wisely by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon), is that land management needs to be looked at again in the different areas where floods have taken place?

Mr Pickles:
As always, my right hon. Friend is correct. We cannot have conventional orthodoxy, and neither should we replace one inflexible orthodoxy with another. We have only to stand close to these rivers, some of which were previously gentle and meandering, or to see that monstrous gap in Brunel’s railway to see the sheer strength of nature. Conventional orthodoxy has to be re-examined, and instead we need bespoke solutions for each area of the country.

Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Lab):
When he got the job, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs removed from his Department’s list of priorities an intention

“to prepare for and manage risk from flood and other environmental emergencies”.

Does the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government agree that this was a terrible error of judgment on the part of his colleague?

Mr Pickles:
My right hon. Friend replaced an enormous, overbearing bureaucratic system with an emphasis on some key issues, one of which was flood defences. As a consequence, we are spending more on this than the Labour party did in its last five years in office, and no matter how much the Opposition huff and puff, they cannot get away from that basic fact.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con):
Will the Secretary of State reconsider his comments about overseas aid? When natural disasters take place in other parts of the world, the Government are quick to provide financial assistance to people who suffer, yet it appears that the provision of financial assistance to people in this country has been much slower. At a time when money is tight, the overseas aid budget is the only one not under financial pressure. If people need help and aid, should the aid budget not be there to support them? The Government should not treat people abroad more favourably than people at home.

Mr Pickles:
The Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear that we will spend and do whatever it takes to ensure that our communities feel safe from flooding. I recognise that my hon. Friend has a distinguished record on this matter, but I do not agree with him—I hope he will forgive me—on this occasion. I think it is possible to deal with overseas problems. I do not think that this great island nation achieved anything by looking inwards.

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op):
Last year, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in response to a question from me about whether the Thames barrier could be overwhelmed in 100 years or 10 years, said:

“We have begun preliminary investigations of the prospects of long-term flooding.”—[Official Report, 16 May 2013; Vol. 563, c. 781.]

Have those preliminary investigations come to any conclusions, and what will be done about it, given the threat to the Thames barrier from climate change and other issues?

Mr Pickles:
We have deployed the Thames barrier several times in recent weeks, and it has proved remarkably effective at protecting London and some of the islands in the upper Thames. We are confident that it will continue to play a massively important part in the defence of London well beyond the foreseeable future.

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con):
The hearts of those of us whose homes, communities and constituencies have not been flooded go out to those of our neighbours whose homes or constituencies have been. In the interests of community solidarity, could the Government not take the lead in setting up a charitable fund to which we and our constituents can contribute to support those who are under-insured, uninsured or in some other difficulty? That way we could show some solidarity and deal with these personal, human tragedies, rather than using this occasion, as some are, to score points?

Mr Pickles:
That is exactly the kind of attitude that makes the Chamber a worthwhile place, rising above petty politics. A number of charities are offering help. The Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), met a number of co-ordinating groups, but I accept the criticism—perhaps I should apologise again—that we have not done enough to signpost them. We will ensure that there are good signposts to these excellent voluntary organisations to help people in distress.

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab):
May I invite the Secretary of State, if he has not already done so, to view Friday’s edition of “Newsnight”, which showed the powerful impact of the flooding in Somerset on individuals? When will he give us a report on the impact of climate change on these events? That is an important determinant of present policy, and we must assess the impact of present policy on the future.

Mr Pickles:
Sadly, I missed Friday’s “Newsnight”, but I will do my best to pick it up on iPlayer. With regard to climate change, the best advice I have received is that the flooding probably has something to do with climate change. That is not necessarily the case—some of it may be the result of changing patterns—but the effects that we have to deal with are the same. I have no doubt that as part of the process of looking at how we can improve the response of the Government and the Environment Agency, we will consider that and give the hon. Gentleman, who asks a very sensible question, that kind of outlook.

Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con):
The Prime Minister has shown decisive leadership in dealing with the here and now. Will my right hon. Friend do the same by calling on BT and other phone companies to ensure that they provide a priority service to reconnect vulnerable elderly people who live alone and whose lives depend on their having a working phone?

Mr Pickles:
My hon. Friend makes a reasonable point. I will make those representations. Looking at the local resilience forum, I have noticed that people have a good idea where those who are vulnerable live, and I saw examples of people working together to make sure that someone who has not been about for a few days is checked up on, but that in no way diminishes my hon. Friend’s point, and I will pass on her remarks to BT and other telephone providers.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab):
Support for individuals and families is vital when they are at risk of flooding or they have been flooded. In Hull in 2007 the National Flood Forum charity did excellent work, providing practical assistance both before and after families found themselves flooded out. Is there any additional money for the National Flood Forum to provide such assistance on the huge scale that it faces now?

Mr Pickles:
We are working closely with the forum. As the hon. Lady suggests, it is doing a terrific job. I do not know about levels of funding, but clearly, if it is taking on additional work for us, we do not want it to be out of pocket.

Richard Harrington (Watford) (Con):
What plans do the Government have to provide an assessment of local authorities’ plans for flood prevention in the years to come, particularly asking Hertfordshire what plans it has to stop the River Colne flooding and causing disruption to my constituents?

Mr Pickles:
Local plans are fed in through the local resilience forum to our teams. One thing that has been clear in dealing with all these emergencies is that there have been pretty well worked out plans. We have found it a lot easier when we are dealing with the worries about the Thames valley that a well established pattern is in place. For example, a number of authorities have what they call flood ambassadors, who will liaise individually with individual houses and offer them support. But I will look specifically at my hon. Friend’s constituency.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab):
Much of the land on which this Parliament is seated is reclaimed land. Indeed, King Canute was the first king to build anything here at all, so would it not be a fine tribute to parliamentary tradition if we were all to unite around building full resilience for the future, rather than permanently bickering every two or three years about what happened last week?

Mr Pickles:
I knew it would happen at some stage in my parliamentary career, but it came a little sooner than I thought: I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman.

Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD):
The Environment Agency staff, some brand new flood defences and, indeed, those on loan from Bristol city council were a welcome presence in Bradford-on-Avon this weekend. We would like to record our thanks to them. Will the Minister show the same resolve as we have seen in learning the lessons from the floods at Christmas time in taking preventive measures in all the locations that have been affected by floods this week, not just those on the levels?

Mr Pickles:
Of course, and I am very happy that the beautiful town of Bradford-on-Avon has received those additional flood prevention measures. The number of demountables that we have been able to get out has been something of a record, and I have seen them in operation and how effective they are. Of course it is right that we must learn from the past, not be frightened to apologise and ensure that communities are protected from flood water, even though these have been exceptional events.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab):
Why on this problem, as with all others, do the Government first blame the last Government, then the European Union and then the civil service? Will the Secretary of State tell us on what precise date the Government will take responsibility for their own conduct and cuts? When will he answer the claim by the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority that last week they fiddled the figures?

Mr Pickles:
It is certainly not those on the Government Benches who are seeking to make political capital from this or engage in some kind of blame game. I am not entirely sure what we got out of this afternoon, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that there are a lot of people working extremely hard right now to keep him and his constituents warm and dry.

Sir Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire) (Con):
When it comes to advice on flooding from the Environment Agency, is not the real problem that it has too often been ignored by local authorities and the Planning Inspectorate, leading to inappropriate development that makes flooding worse?

Mr Pickles:
I know that my hon. Friend has had some particular problems. I looked carefully at the figures for building where there was an acute risk of flooding, and I am delighted to tell him that the number of buildings in high-risk areas is at an all-time low. I am also pleased to say that where there have been objections from, say, the Environment Agency, they have been adhered to on 99.3% of occasions.

Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op):
As the former chair of Flood Risk Management Wales, charged with adapting Wales to climate change in respect of flood risk management and flood systems, may I ask the Secretary of State why he has failed to apply for EU solidarity funding, which gave this country £162 million in 2007 and has given another 23 countries £3.5 billion since 2002? Is it because he is against European money because he is prejudiced or is it because he thinks there is a greater priority for investment than flood risk management for devastated communities? They are upset in Somerset—very upset.

Mr Pickles:
I answered this the last time I appeared in the House. The reason is that there is a threshold of €3.7 billion to get over, and even should we get over the excitement of getting over the threshold to get the EU money, the way the system works means we would have to pay most of it back.

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con):
My constituency has experienced some river flooding, but it has not been as severe as that in other areas. However, there are particular problems with surface water flooding in the local villages, including the very unpleasant effects of foul water and overflowing sewerage systems. A substantial amount of new housing is proposed in those areas, at a level that local authorities consider to be unsustainable. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that in setting housing numbers, local authorities will be able to take into account the adequacy of the infrastructure to support new housing, so that the current problems do not become worse in the future?

Mr Pickles:
My right hon. Friend has conducted a long campaign in this regard, and he has made a number of very reasonable points. I think that such decisions must be made on the basis of scientific fact. The rising level of groundwater will continue to cause problems in my right hon. Friend’s constituency, my constituency and, indeed, most constituencies until well into June, even if from now on things start to shine.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab):
The Environment Agency says that last year it allocated £400,000 for dredging in the Somerset levels, which is the maximum level that Treasury rules permit, but that other Government agencies and partner bodies such as local authorities were not able to “match contribute” towards the £4 million total cost of the scheme. Given the Secretary of State’s leadership role in local government, may I ask when he was made aware of its inability to contribute? May I also ask what representations he made to the Chancellor with the aim of bringing about a change in the Treasury rules?

Mr Pickles:
That is why I apologised to the people of Somerset, and that is why the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson), insisted on starting the dredging last autumn in order to demonstrate its efficacy. Sadly, however, the turbulent weather arrived before that excellent study could be completed, but we now know that we shall start to dredge, and we shall start to dredge in earnest.

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con):
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the last Government stripped the “hold the line” flood defence systems criteria from 10 to five in 2009? Will he please look into that, in order to prevent more flooding in coastal areas such as my constituency?

Mr Pickles:
I did note that, but I did not want this to be a partisan exchange, which is not the attitude of the Labour party—I did not want to criticise the Labour party. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has just reminded me that we will look at bespoke patterns of support that will enable us to ameliorate the effects of flooding, and to ensure that people feel safe in their own homes.

Mr Speaker:
Mr Wayne David.

Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab):
Thank you for the sigh of confidence that you gave before calling me, Mr Speaker.

Everyone in the House would agree that we need a united Government response to this crisis. How does the Secretary of State respond to suggestions that there is a damaging Cabinet rift between him and the Environment Secretary?

Mr Pickles:
I think that you spoke for the whole House with that sigh, Mr Speaker. Let me make it absolutely clear that the Environment Secretary and I are two peas in a pod. We are two brothers from a different mother. We speak on a regular basis. I am the mere custodian of his wishes, and I look forward fervently to the day when he stands at this Dispatch Box and responds to the hon. Gentleman.

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con):
Devon contains a longer road network than any other local authority area in the country, and anyone travelling there will see the devastation that the flood waters are causing. Will the Secretary of State recognise that later this week, and give extra assistance to Devon?

Mr Pickles:
We are offering extra assistance, and we will continue to do so. I think that we must accept, because of the nature of the weather, that we will see exceptional turbulence and disruption to transport in the region. Obviously we need to repair the rail system and make it safe, but we also need to provide alternative ways of getting about, which is why we have laid on extra coaches and the like. Once it stops raining, Devon will be a terrific place to visit, and a terrific place in which to set up a business.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab):
Obviously the immediate priority has got to be to help the people in Somerset and elsewhere who are living in an absolutely desperate situation at the moment, but in the longer term—and following on from the very interesting answer the Secretary of State gave to the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames)—how will the Government use the common agricultural policy direct payments budget and the Environment Agency’s maintenance budget to ensure long-term flood protection and to look at things like land management issues?

Mr Pickles:
I cannot tell the hon. Lady when the consultation finishes, but we are in the middle of the process of doing exactly that. If the hon. Lady wants to make a contribution she could write to the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall and that will be taken into consideration in the review and consultation.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con):
As I keep reminding the House, when the rivers Aire, Ouse and Trent and the Dutch river and the Humber estuary flooded hundreds of my constituents’ homes in December, due to international events we may not have got the media attention, but at least we avoided becoming a political football. At that time we were very well supported by some very dedicated Environment Agency staff. That said, however, local farmers and the drainage boards are desperate for a change in the way in which we manage river catchments in this country so that we can have more localised solutions. May I urge the Secretary of State to ensure that happens after this flooding is finished?

Mr Pickles:
I know from my discussions with the Environment Secretary that he has very strong views about this matter, because often local people know and understand individual culverts and watercourses better than other authorities, albeit that that authority might be benign, efficient and full of very good people. The point my hon. Friend highlights must be taken into consideration in the long-term review.

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op):
Communities in my constituency, particularly along the Penarth coastline, have also been affected by these unprecedented events in recent weeks, albeit not, thankfully, to the extent we have seen elsewhere in Wales or, indeed, in the south-west and the Thames valley. Can the Secretary of State please assure the House that he has, and will continue to have, close co-operation with Welsh Ministers, Welsh local authorities and Natural Resources Wales given that climate change, wind, waves and rain respect no boundaries?

Mr Pickles:
Absolutely. Of course, our great nations are joined together and what happens on the river Severn has a very big impact. I can give the hon. Gentleman that assurance unequivocally.

Mr Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) (Con):
My right hon. Friend will be aware that in addition to high rainfall, the people of Pagham in my constituency also face problems from the sea, where the growth of the Pagham harbour spit has led to massive erosion of the shingle beach fronting hundreds of properties. Will he ask one of the Ministers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to come to Pagham to see the very real danger this is presenting and to help us secure the funding and the permissions we need to cut a channel through the spit before it leads to the loss of people’s homes?

Mr Pickles:
My hon. Friend is talking about a very beautiful part of the world. I am sure DEFRA Ministers will come and visit, but I was rather hoping in the not too distant future to come and visit myself, because he raises an important matter. The amount of shingle and the like that has gone is truly breathtaking.

Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con):
The Secretary of State is right to focus on the areas he has discussed, but may I inform him that when I left my constituency this morning three of the four roads into the town of Tewkesbury were cut off, and with further heavy rainfall expected this week we expect that, sadly, a number of houses may be flooded, so will he bear us in mind as well as all the other areas he understandably has to concentrate on?

Mr Pickles:
I certainly will. As I said to my hon. Friend the last time I spoke at the Dispatch Box, I remember very vividly a visit to his constituency in the summer floods of 2007, I think, and the devastating effect on local businesses and a local public house. He more than anybody understands the effect repeated flooding has on communities and the psychological damage it does. Indeed, the fate of Tewkesbury and neighbouring communities bears heavily on the mind of the Government.

Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD):
The European Union Commissioner responsible for these matters has made it clear that regional disaster funding is available, with no minimum limit. The Government can define the size of the affected region, and the funding can be made available provided that serious and lasting damage has occurred, that there have been repercussions for economic stability and living conditions in the region and that 50% of people living there are affected. Does the Secretary of State acknowledge that Somerset clearly qualifies for such funding, and will he ask his colleagues at DEFRA to apply for it without delay?

Mr Pickles:
The Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall has just volunteered to meet the hon. Lady, and I am sure that—

Mr Speaker:
Order. We wish to see the Secretary of State’s face, looking at us all fully rather than just at those on his own Benches. He has a habit of gyrating around; let us see the man’s face.

Mr Pickles:
I apologise. I have always felt that those on my own Benches scrubbed up rather well, and it is uplifting to the spirit to look at them.

As I have said, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has agreed to meet the hon. Member for Wells (Tessa Munt) to discuss that matter, and I am sure that those deliberations will be worth while.

Mr Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con):
I understand that the Secretary of State will be in touch with my right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) shortly. The Secretary of State will be aware that a bankrupt country would find it much more difficult to defend itself, and it is to this Government’s credit that they managed marginally to increase flood defence funding on coming into office. However, the long-term investment strategy put out by the Environment Agency in 2009 made it clear that we were going to have to almost double our investment in flood defences. Will my right hon. Friend and his colleagues make that point forcefully to the Treasury?

Mr Pickles:
The Treasury is taking an enormous interest in the promises that Ministers are making from the Dispatch Box. Even when representatives of the Treasury are not physically in the room, their presence is always felt.

Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con):
Will the Secretary of State ensure that local Environment Agency workers have the ability to team up with farmers, particularly to work on catchment area solutions such as tree planting? Will he also ensure that the agency takes some of the reported £2.4 million that it has spent on public relations services and puts it into the Rossendale valley to prevent flooding on the River Irwell, the River Darwen and the River Ogden?

Mr Pickles:
Many hon. Members have made that point about local solutions. We are looking for an integrated approach from local drainage boards, local authorities and the Environment Agency to deal with these problems. It is often the people on the ground who understand the problems better.

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con):
The flooding on the Somerset levels during the past six weeks has destroyed homes, farmland and wildlife habitat, and I welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to look into dredging. For 20 years, successive Governments have not done so, and have not dealt with the problem.

Mr Pickles:
My hon. Friend has been a powerful advocate of dredging, and that was the principal reason why I felt it was appropriate to apologise to the people of Somerset for us ignoring their views. As hon. Members on both sides of the House have pointed out, however, there is no single solution that fits everywhere. Dredging there would be a sensible thing to do, for example, but dredging on the River Kennet would not be sensible. We are therefore looking for bespoke solutions in particular areas.

Andrew Griffiths (Burton) (Con):
I congratulate the Secretary of State on his robust management of this crisis, and on focusing on what matters—namely, helping those people who are knee-deep in water. Given that the River Parrett has not been dredged since 2005, does he not find the response from those on the Opposition Benches a bit hypocritical?

Mr Pickles:
I am never surprised by those on the Labour Benches. It is true that I take a robust view on this and sometimes may have erred on the wrong side of robust, but I believe that the things I say in public should be those that I believe in private. I certainly believe that someone whose house is flooded, someone who is worried about their future employment or someone who is worried about their communities wants to know whether the Government are going to get on and deal with the job, or are they going to bicker on pointless procedural points?

Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con):
A great number of my constituents in place such as Kings Worthy, Twyford and Winchester have had a truly miserable weekend. I met people with very young children and very elderly people who have been in tears this weekend, and it brings home the real human cost of this, not the petty politics that we are sometimes seeing today. The Secretary of State will understand the sheer helplessness that many of my constituents feel right now. What advice does he have for those who are rightly concerned about the public health threats that will arise if flood waters around their homes persist for a long period?

Mr Pickles:
We are, of course, not only constantly monitoring the rise of the flood waters, but analysing what is within them, with a view to public health. I congratulate my hon. Friend on being out and about with his constituents, as I am sure everybody here will be. One thing that has become very clear through this is that people in public office, be it Members of Parliament or councillors, have taken a considerable lead, not just in pressing for resources or offering help, but in rolling their sleeves up and getting involved—they should be commended.

Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con):
First, I wish to thank all the people in my constituency in the agencies and services who have done so much on prevention and risk-management. In order effectively to sharpen the focus on flood defence perhaps there should be a strategic review, so does the Secretary of State agree that it needs to be reinforced and informed by strong local input?

Mr Pickles:
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that strong local input is immensely important. Although authorities from nearby cities or from London can have a grand strategic view, local people know how the rivers and culverts flow, and are in a position to offer good advice.

Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con):
The Environment Agency is spending £18 million on waterlogging some of the best farmland in the country in my constituency to create a habitat for birds, in a scheme due to start in a couple of months. Will my right hon. Friend examine the resource allocation within the Environment Agency, because it is not just dredging, but wider river maintenance that matters in areas such as the Cambridgeshire fens?

Mr Pickles:
I am somewhat conflicted on this, as when I am not here I am somewhat of a twitcher and I was very much looking forward to the particular habitat my hon. Friend was talking about. He makes a reasonable point: we now need to look at priorities. We need to consider things not only in terms of where people live, but in terms of ensuring that we are able to produce sustainably the products from agriculture that this nation so desperately needs, and so reduce our imports and dependency on elsewhere. He makes a very good point.

Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Con):
The residents of Fleetwood are extremely grateful to the Government for the £60 million-plus they agreed in the summer to provide much-needed new sea defences. But the residents of Thurnham, just along the coast, are being told by the Environment Agency that it will not maintain their sea defences beyond 30 years because of Treasury rules about the valuation of farming land. As part of the Secretary of State’s long-term plan on flooding, can he get the Treasury to re-examine these rules?

Mr Pickles:
The Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson) is going to be very busy, because he would like to speak to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Eric Ollerenshaw) on precisely this issue. I would not be flippant and say that 30 years is a long time and things can change, but this set of storms has been a big wake-up call, not just for government and the Environment Agency, but for the nation as a whole, and we need to make some valuable judgments about where it is appropriate to have defences.

Dr Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) (Con):
I am sure that my right hon. Friend will join me in thanking the volunteers from Halesworth who proactively filled sandbags and put them out along the thoroughfare and outside houses on Friday night. More importantly, although a tragedy is happening in the Thames valley and the south-west, there is a silver lining, as we once again have an opportunity to reflect on the strategy on making space for water and the principles on which the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 was founded. Will he assure me that a review will involve a consideration of the flood, water and habitat directives, and that there will be a recognition that some of the things we have to do are, frankly, bonkers, while common-sense stuff is being left aside?

Mr Pickles:
I assure my hon. Friend that we will consider all matters relating to flooding and the storms, whether that is the habitat directive or questions of global warming, but I hope she will forgive us that, right now, we need to get on with the process of making communities feel safe.

Mr Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con):
We had a wake-up call in 2000, when the then Prime Minister made promises to MPs in No. 10 Downing street. That happened again in 2007 and it is happening now, so the one question remaining for the House is how we put in place a long-term framework that will mean that, when the political spotlight moves on, flooding does not drop down the list of priorities, as has been the case under successive Governments.

Mr Pickles:
My hon. Friend makes a firm point, but these storms have been so dramatic, widespread and all-encompassing that the coalition Government’s resolve is that we are determined not to flunk the decisions and make the mistakes of the past.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con):
The River Mease in my constituency has regularly flooded near Elford, Haunton and Harlaston, partly because the Environment Agency, with other agencies, has refused to allow farmers to clear and manage their watercourses. May I echo others by asking my right hon. Friend to encourage the practitioners of conventional orthodoxy to pay close attention to the concerns and advice of farmers, who are as expert at managing their fields and watercourses as anyone in the EA?

Mr Pickles:
We have looked to farmers and those in similar professions to help us out during this whole process and their local knowledge has often made the difference. As I have said from the Dispatch Box, my right hon. Friend the Environment Secretary believes in that principle passionately, and I believe that good management is operated, if only by acting as an agency for the agency.

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con):
Does my right hon. Friend agree that if the Environment Agency were subject to a duty to take account of economic growth such as that proposed in the Deregulation Bill, it would have a welcome opportunity to redefine, refocus and improve its long-term policies and direction?

Mr Pickles:
I am sure that many in the Environment Agency, which is made up of excellent people, will have listened with great interest to my hon. Friend and may well be taking those wise words into account……….End…..
4.43 pm Afghanistan

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond):
With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on Afghanistan. At the end of this year we will have completed our combat mission in Afghanistan, so today is an opportunity not just to pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces, but to reflect on why the mission matters and what we have achieved so far and to look forward to the completion of Operation Herrick.

It is well over a decade since September 11, but the events of that day still have the power to shock. The operation that began later in 2001, and continues to this day, has been hard fought and has cost us dear, but the cost of doing nothing and abandoning Afghanistan to the terrorists and insurgents would have been much greater. Thankfully, in today’s Afghanistan al-Qaeda is a shadow of its former self, and we are all safer as a consequence.

Since the start of operations in 2001, 447 members of our armed forces have made the ultimate sacrifice, two of them since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development made the last quarterly statement on Afghanistan to the House on 17 October. I know that the whole House will want to join me in paying tribute to the extraordinary courage and commitment of those individuals, and of their families, who have to live daily with the loss of their loved ones, and of the many hundreds more who have suffered life-changing injuries. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. They have protected our national security by helping the Afghans take control of theirs. Working with our international security assistance force partners and the Afghans themselves, they have ensured that Afghanistan is neither a safe haven, nor a launch pad for terrorists who despise everything we stand for and seek to destroy our way of life.

The security situation in Afghanistan today represents very real progress since 2003. When the campaign started, the Afghan national security forces did not exist. Today they are leading operations, protecting the population and taking on the Taliban. For example, as part of the security operation for the Loya Jirga in November, the ANSF established a layered security zone a week before the event. It was a complex, large-scale operation in which all elements of the ANSF co-operated. The results were impressive: 6 tonnes of home-made explosives were interdicted and the event ran safely and smoothly.

A major operation in December spanning Kandahar, Zabul and Daykundi provinces, and involving over 4,000 ANSF personnel, had a similarly successful outcome. More than 250 villages were cleared of insurgents and more than 600 improvised explosive devices were destroyed, with few casualties sustained. The Afghan air force flew resupply missions and evacuated casualties during the operation, with ISAF support limited to advice, intelligence and a small number of air support operations.

The ANSF have almost reached their surge strength target of 352,000 army, police and air force personnel, and between them they are leading 97% of all security operations and carrying out over 90% of their own training. While work continues on professionalising the forces and addressing high attrition levels, their ability to provide security for the Afghan people and maintain the momentum generated by a coalition of 50 nations remains a significant achievement—a source of pride to the Afghan forces themselves and a source of confidence to the civilian population.

As the ANSF have grown in stature, so our role in Afghanistan has evolved from leading combat operations to training, advising and assisting the ANSF. Today, UK forces are primarily engaged in mentoring their Afghan counterparts, providing world-class training and support and undertaking our own draw-down and redeployment activity. The progress of the ANSF is helping to drive the pace of transition, enabling us to meet our target of reducing our military footprint in Afghanistan to 5,200, down by nearly half from this time last year, when there were around 9,000 UK personnel in theatre.

As the nature of the mission has changed and the Afghans have taken the lead responsibility for security across central Helmand’s three districts, we have significantly reduced the number of British bases, from 137 at the height of our engagement to 13 last January and just four plus Camp Bastion today. Our draw-down trajectory will reduce our footprint to one forward observation post and the main operating base at Camp Bastion following the elections. Subsequently, as we enter the final phase of the Herrick campaign, the UK will combine its headquarters at Camp Bastion with those of the US Marine Corps.

Our efforts have not just focused on building the necessary security apparatus. The UK-led provincial reconstruction team, currently operating from Camp Bastion ahead of the completion of its mission next month, has helped deliver real progress in Helmand. Today, 80% of the local population can access health care within 10 km of their home, improved security and infrastructure conditions have meant the reopening of local bazaars and the reinvigoration of the local economy, 260 km of roads have been added to the existing network since 2012, and we have seen the completion of the paving of the strategically important Route 611 in Helmand, a project funded jointly by the UK and the United Arab Emirates.

Ordinary Afghans have seen the quality of their life improve significantly, and we can be proud of the role we have played in making this possible.

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Identity Access Management Critical in Today’s Unstable Business Environment

Today’s business environment is highly competitive, complex, and volatile. This has put tremendous pressure on organizations to increase their accessibility to customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, and employees. Hence, enterprises are deploying an ever-increasing number of applications with multiple, often mutually incompatible, proprietary identity systems, or security models, inconsistent management of identities and different auditing mechanisms. However, in their haste to enhance their accessibility they forget to look at the security aspects, which leads to inefficiencies, increased risk of identity theft and unauthorized access, and failure to meet regulatory compliance.

In today’s work environment, passwords and password resets are one of the most widely used measures to ensure information security. A recent research showed that on an average each employee accesses around 16 applications and systems. And as part of the security measure, each employee has to remember five or more passwords, which the employee has to change five or more times per year. It results in multiple repositories of identity information, multiple user IDs and multiple passwords. However, the fact of the matter is most employees finding it impossible to manage multiple identities. This is proved by the number of password related calls that help desk receives. Moreover, juggling multiple identities lead to chaos and confusion, which is put to good use by the criminals. This calls for a comprehensive and focused approach that would enhance efficiency, achieve compliance, and improve the security of the organizations. That is what identity and access management offers to do.

Identity and access management helps organizations to manage access to scattered information and applications within the organization without compromising security or exposing sensitive information. Hence, identity and access management can be defined as a set of policies, processes, and technologies for the creation, management, and use of digital identities. The objective of identity access management is to provide right access to the right people at the right time. It comprises of four important aspects namely

● Authentication

It is the process of verifying and proving the claims of an identity for gaining access to an application system or resource.

● Authorization

It is the determination whether to allow an identity to perform an action or access a system or resource.

● User Management

It refers to the process of creating, propagating, and maintaining user identity and privileges. An important component of user management is user lifecycle management, which refers to the lifecycle of a digital identity from creation to termination.

● Enterprise Directory

It is the repository for securely storing and organizing the digital identities and its credentials and attributes.

In today’s unstable business environment, identity access management is important to secure the organization and to protect confidential and personal data and thereby achieve compliance, business growth, operational efficiency, and cost savings.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Air France Concorde, with Bell XV-15 TRRA Tilt Rotor test plane in foreground
business security measure
Image by Chris Devers
Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Bell XV-15 TRRA (Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft), Ship 2:

The XV-15 Tilt Rotor technology demonstrator was the culmination of efforts begun in the early 1950s to produce an aircraft that could takeoff, land, and hover like a helicopter, but with the speed of an airplane. The rotor pylons tilt from vertical to horizontal to eliminate the speed barriers imposed on conventional helicopters by retreating-blade stall and allowed the XV-15 to operate at speeds of 550 kph (345 mph TAS).

This is the second of the two XV-15s built by Bell under a joint NASA/US Army program. It served from 1979 through 2003, demonstrating operations under a wide range of conditions and logged 700 hours in testing. Its success encouraged Bell and the US Marine Corps to develop a scaled-up Tilt Rotor, the MV-22, as a replacement for Marine transport helicopters. In association with Agusta Aerospace, Bell also developed the Model 609 civil Tilt Rotor with experience gained from the XV-15 program.

Transferred from National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.

Wingspan:9.80 m (32 ft 2 in)
Proprotor Diameter:7.62 m (25 ft)
Length:12.83 m (42 ft 1 in)
Height:3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)
Weight, empty: 4,574 kg (10,083 lb)
Weight, gross: 6,804 kg (15,000 lb)

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Concorde, Fox Alpha, Air France:

The first supersonic airliner to enter service, the Concorde flew thousands of passengers across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound for over 25 years. Designed and built by Aérospatiale of France and the British Aviation Corporation, the graceful Concorde was a stunning technological achievement that could not overcome serious economic problems.

In 1976 Air France and British Airways jointly inaugurated Concorde service to destinations around the globe. Carrying up to 100 passengers in great comfort, the Concorde catered to first class passengers for whom speed was critical. It could cross the Atlantic in fewer than four hours – half the time of a conventional jet airliner. However its high operating costs resulted in very high fares that limited the number of passengers who could afford to fly it. These problems and a shrinking market eventually forced the reduction of service until all Concordes were retired in 2003.

In 1989, Air France signed a letter of agreement to donate a Concorde to the National Air and Space Museum upon the aircraft’s retirement. On June 12, 2003, Air France honored that agreement, donating Concorde F-BVFA to the Museum upon the completion of its last flight. This aircraft was the first Air France Concorde to open service to Rio de Janeiro, Washington, D.C., and New York and had flown 17,824 hours.

Gift of Air France.

Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale
British Aircraft Corporation

Wingspan: 25.56 m (83 ft 10 in)
Length: 61.66 m (202 ft 3 in)
Height: 11.3 m (37 ft 1 in)
Weight, empty: 79,265 kg (174,750 lb)
Weight, gross: 181,435 kg (400,000 lb)
Top speed: 2,179 km/h (1350 mph)
Engine: Four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk 602, 17,259 kg (38,050 lb) thrust each
Manufacturer: Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale, Paris, France, and British Aircraft Corporation, London, United Kingdom

Physical Description:
Aircaft Serial Number: 205. Including four (4) engines, bearing respectively the serial number: CBE066, CBE062, CBE086 and CBE085.
Also included, aircraft plaque: "AIR FRANCE Lorsque viendra le jour d’exposer Concorde dans un musee, la Smithsonian Institution a dores et deja choisi, pour le Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace de Washington, un appariel portant le couleurs d’Air France."

Inside Chicago School's Extensive Security Measures

As more Newtown shooting victims are laid to rest, we take a look at how one school protects itself.
Video Rating: / 5

Commercial Business Loans Explored

It doesn’t matter whether your business is large or small it needs money to operate smoothly and successfully. Sometimes the money just is not available for improvements or to take care of even the day to day operations and this is not an acceptable situation for any business owner. In order to keep their business running smoothly and to pay for other expenses many owners turn to commercial business loans.

Commercial business loans are useful to business owners who want to expand their business to measure up to the trends and innovations in their industry. The loans are also, at times, a true lifesaver to the business that is in financial need. The loans may be used to purchase more business materials or pay for additional services or for new facilities to house their business activities. There may be a need to update the technology or hire more employees.

Commercial business loans are available to business owners in two forms: these are secured loans and unsecured loans. Depending on the type of loan you choose you will be able to secure different loan amounts, you may need collateral, the payments will be different, and there will also be different interest rates.

The secured loans require that collateral be pledged as security for loan repayment. This collateral is for the benefit of the lender in the event that the loan is not repaid as scheduled. If the business owner needs a substantial amount, the secured loan is the best option for him. If the business is a new one or an existing one which needs expanding, the longer payment periods of most secured loans will provide the opportunity to pay the loan back in a reasonable manner. If the borrower provides collateral for these loans the lender will bring down the interest rates.

Smaller businesses or large businesses with smaller financial needs are better suited for unsecured commercial business loans. These types of loans require no collateral for security purposes. The new business may not have anything that is usable for collateral or perhaps the new business owner may not be willing to put up their home or other personal property as security for a larger loan. There will be shorter payment periods, in most cases, and the interest rates will be higher.

When considering a commercial business loan you must be prepared to give good reasons why the lender should grant the loan request for you. Knowing exactly what the loan will be used for and presenting a direct plan on it to the lender will be of great help.

As a potential borrower you should have all of your business information available. This should include information on past business operation expenses, profit records, and bank statements.

If a commercial business loan offers a sound solution to your financial needs, make an effort to shop around for the best lending quotes possible. There are many commercial lenders waiting to help you improve your business and your life.

Joseph Kenny writes for the loan comparison site Select-Loans.co.uk, with information on the best UK loans . Visit today for a great search of all the personal loans

U.S. Army Africa familiarization event on maintenance for Armed Forces of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia, 05-2010
business security measure
Image by US Army Africa

U.S. Army Africa maintenance experts mentor Liberian mechanics

By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa

MONROVIA, Liberia – When army mechanics from the Armed Forces of Liberia turn wrenches in the motor pool at Edward Binyah Kesselly barracks, they can rely upon lessons learned from U.S. Army Africa maintenance experts.

Master Sgt. Gary Donald and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Randy Austin recently spent a week with AFL troops discussing vehicle maintenance and motor pool operations.

“The event’s purpose was to familiarize the Armed Forces of Liberia with U.S. Army maintenance and motor pool operations and to lay the groundwork for future partnership events,” Donald said. “We covered U.S. Army basics – preventive maintenance, procedures for dispatching vehicles, how to order parts, accountability of supplies and motor pool safety measures

Like most learning scenarios, the work began with lengthy discussions. But it was the hands-on application that resonated among the AFL mechanics, Donald said.

Altogether, more than 50 AFL maintenance and transportation troops took part in the familiarization event. They gained an understanding about the U.S. Army’s maintenance and motor pool operations, Austin said.

“All the AFL soldiers were highly motivated with meaningful questions and comments,” Austin said. “They are interested in learning more about how the U.S. Army trains, to include how our Soldiers repair broken generators and vehicles, plus how we use wreckers to recover disabled vehicles.”

Liberia’s military uses a mix of Ford Rangers and German-built trucks. They have new tools on hand. But they face challenges, though, such as obtaining supplies and repair parts and availability of manuals for their gear, said Austin, who’s served for more than 34 years in uniform.

A veteran of Iraq, Austin’s been to Africa several times during the past year, to include assignments in Burkina Faso and Tanzania. He was fascinated by how eager AFL mechanics are to learn more about their profession, he said.

“By sharing the U.S. Army maintenance system– a proven way to do this type of business – the Liberians are able to adopt what works for them and apply it to their own maintenance program in the future,” Austin said.

Since early 2009, U.S. Army Africa has regularly sent U.S. Army noncommissioned officers to Liberia to work with the AFL. The initial success of USARAF’s support to Liberia is one of several examples of the command’s role in partnering on the continent – engaging in sustained ways to create effective African forces that support elected officials and foster peaceful environments.

U.S. Army Africa continues to support U.S. Africa Command with security sector reform in Liberia through ongoing familiarization events.

Donald has served for more than two decades in uniform, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Kosovo. But, it was his first time visiting Africa. Donald was glad to see the AFL mechanics were eager to gain knowledge, he said.

“It was a good learning experience for me too,” Donald said. “There are so many U.S. personnel who have been helping in Liberia and left their mark by offering good ideas that the AFL has adopted. I’m glad to be a part of that.”

To learn more about U.S. Army Africa visit our official website at www.usaraf.army.mil

Official Twitter Feed: www.twitter.com/usarmyafrica

Official YouTube video channel: www.youtube.com/usarmyafrica

Find More Business Security Measure Articles

A Home Security System: Something No One Should Be Without!

The fact is in today’s world whether a residence is inhabited or not, robbers will still attempt to gain access. To have your property vandalised and or your hard earned possessions and cash stolen is bad enough, but that’s not all that can happen, there have been lots of cases where mentally unstable people have gained access to houses and raped or killed anyone inside them. Every minute of every day these terrible things are taking place all around the planet.

The reasons why every one needs to install a home security system

The best all-round counter measure you can implement against this problem is your own home security system. Thankfully these days it no longer matters so much whether your budget is high or not, since the prices of home security systems have come down dramatically in recent years.

Clearly the higher end more expensive home security systems will protect you better than the cheaper lower end models, but at the end of the day it’s far better to just have a basic home security system than it is to not have one at all!

Professional thieves will sometimes attempt to cut all power to your residence in order to knock out any home security devices. For this reason it is absolutely imperative that the system you acquire does not run off your mains power and has its own separate energy supply.

A lot of home security systems these days run on normal batteries to prevent this from occurring, you will of course have to make sure these batteries always have enough power.

Once you have installed your home security system, doing it yourself or having it installed by a professional, you will need to test it out with all of the entrance points of your building.

When testing out your system don’t forget to notify everyone in the area including your local police about what you are about to do, it really would be embarrassing if you were accused of trying to break-in to your own property now wouldn’t it!

Publicizing the fact that your property is protected with a home security system is very important. A burglar when assessing a property will primarily want to know if he or she can break into it without much risk of being detected, if he or she can see that your property is indeed protected with a home security system he or she is far more likely to move on to the next house.

To further enforce this, you should make it publicly known that your home is protected with a state-of-the-art home security system, just don’t give away where exactly the device is set up.

If you do all this the chances of your abode being the victim of your next local burglary will be greatly decreased. In today’s world the small price of a home security system really is a very small price to pay for the extra security it brings to your premises.

You can read more about Diy Home Security Systems here

U.S. Army Africa familiarization event on maintenance for Armed Forces of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia, 05-2010
business security measure
Image by US Army Africa

U.S. Army Africa maintenance experts mentor Liberian mechanics

By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa

MONROVIA, Liberia – When army mechanics from the Armed Forces of Liberia turn wrenches in the motor pool at Edward Binyah Kesselly barracks, they can rely upon lessons learned from U.S. Army Africa maintenance experts.

Master Sgt. Gary Donald and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Randy Austin recently spent a week with AFL troops discussing vehicle maintenance and motor pool operations.

“The event’s purpose was to familiarize the Armed Forces of Liberia with U.S. Army maintenance and motor pool operations and to lay the groundwork for future partnership events,” Donald said. “We covered U.S. Army basics – preventive maintenance, procedures for dispatching vehicles, how to order parts, accountability of supplies and motor pool safety measures

Like most learning scenarios, the work began with lengthy discussions. But it was the hands-on application that resonated among the AFL mechanics, Donald said.

Altogether, more than 50 AFL maintenance and transportation troops took part in the familiarization event. They gained an understanding about the U.S. Army’s maintenance and motor pool operations, Austin said.

“All the AFL soldiers were highly motivated with meaningful questions and comments,” Austin said. “They are interested in learning more about how the U.S. Army trains, to include how our Soldiers repair broken generators and vehicles, plus how we use wreckers to recover disabled vehicles.”

Liberia’s military uses a mix of Ford Rangers and German-built trucks. They have new tools on hand. But they face challenges, though, such as obtaining supplies and repair parts and availability of manuals for their gear, said Austin, who’s served for more than 34 years in uniform.

A veteran of Iraq, Austin’s been to Africa several times during the past year, to include assignments in Burkina Faso and Tanzania. He was fascinated by how eager AFL mechanics are to learn more about their profession, he said.

“By sharing the U.S. Army maintenance system– a proven way to do this type of business – the Liberians are able to adopt what works for them and apply it to their own maintenance program in the future,” Austin said.

Since early 2009, U.S. Army Africa has regularly sent U.S. Army noncommissioned officers to Liberia to work with the AFL. The initial success of USARAF’s support to Liberia is one of several examples of the command’s role in partnering on the continent – engaging in sustained ways to create effective African forces that support elected officials and foster peaceful environments.

U.S. Army Africa continues to support U.S. Africa Command with security sector reform in Liberia through ongoing familiarization events.

Donald has served for more than two decades in uniform, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Kosovo. But, it was his first time visiting Africa. Donald was glad to see the AFL mechanics were eager to gain knowledge, he said.

“It was a good learning experience for me too,” Donald said. “There are so many U.S. personnel who have been helping in Liberia and left their mark by offering good ideas that the AFL has adopted. I’m glad to be a part of that.”

To learn more about U.S. Army Africa visit our official website at www.usaraf.army.mil

Official Twitter Feed: www.twitter.com/usarmyafrica

Official YouTube video channel: www.youtube.com/usarmyafrica

HIPAA Compliance for Small Business Health Care Providers

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the standard for protecting patient data. Hence, any company or business that deals with PHI (protected health information) must make sure that every required process, network, and physical security measure is followed and in place, including as the following:

1. Covered entities – Anyone providing the payment, healthcare operations, and treatment
2. Business associates – Anyone who can provide support in payment, operations, or treatment, and anyone who can access to information of the patient
3. Others significant entities – Business associates of business associates or subcontractors

Even small business health care providers must ensure complete HIPAA compliance to provide the highest-quality service. However, most small business health care providers encounter challenges along the way–especially when it comes to the security of protected health information. The following are some of the challenges they face to be HIPAA compliant:

1. Lack of training and education – A survey found this to be the biggest challenge in HIPAA compliance. Training may involve teaching the staff to protect display information in the field or in the office, as well as to secure every technology for digital transmission.

2. Lack of information about HIPAA compliance – Vague guidance on what they can do to become compliant may lead to the implementation of many different security controls that may be irrelevant and not tailored to their needs.

3. Lack of tools – The HIPAA security toolkit was created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to help small business healthcare providers assess their operational security. However, most of them are unable to fully or partially utilize the kit, requiring professional consultants to perform the assessments instead. In some cases, an organization prefers to stick to that toolkit without seeking a professional assessment.

4. The behavior or users – A small business healthcare provider may provide its own apps and tools to access data or to provide patients with a means to access their data through unsecured personal devices. Security efforts must be tailored to those actions.

5. Agreements with business associates -It can be challenging to encourage business associates to comply with HIPAA regulations. Third-party businesses like cloud computing providers are already considered as business associates under the changes to HIPAA in 2013. Under regulations, all business associates must comply with every aspect of the HIPAA privacy law, so they are subject to audits performed by the Office for Civil Rights. Moreover, they will be accountable for any breaches or violations.

To be HIPAA compliant, you need to host data with a company that is HIPAA compliant, too. According to the USA Department of Health and Human Services, the service provider must possess certain physical, technical, and administrative safeguards, such as limited facility access and control with authorized access and electronic protected health data. Moreover, a small business healthcare provider must work with a company that has excellent technical policies to cover recovery, integrity, and maintenance controls.

Sources: http://www.onlinetech.com/resources/references/what-is-hipaa-compliance

Mike Rana is the Chief Technology Advisor of Orion Network Solutions. Orion Network Solutions specializes in providing Computer Installation, Maintenance, and Consulting services along with 24×7 help desk services for small and midsize companies. We provide network solutions that enable small businesses to not only lower their management cost but also increases employee productivity at the same low price. We offer network solution that becomes an integral part of your organization and can provide an increase in productivity of your organization.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: SR-71 Blackbird (starboard profile)
business security measure
Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird:

No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments during the Cold War.

This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time during 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its last flight, March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging 3,418 kilometers (2,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane over to the Smithsonian.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson


Country of Origin:
United States of America

Overall: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (5.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (5.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)


Physical Description:
Twin-engine, two-seat, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft; airframe constructed largley of titanium and its alloys; vertical tail fins are constructed of a composite (laminated plastic-type material) to reduce radar cross-section; Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines feature large inlet shock cones.

Long Description:
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in more hostile airspace or with such complete impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the fastest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments during the Cold War. The airplane was conceived when tensions with communist Eastern Europe reached levels approaching a full-blown crisis in the mid-1950s. U.S. military commanders desperately needed accurate assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, particularly near the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-2 (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an able platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this relatively slow aircraft was already vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the rapid development of surface-to-air missile systems could put U-2 pilots at grave risk. The danger proved reality when a U-2 was shot down by a surface to air missile over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Lockheed’s first proposal for a new high speed, high altitude, reconnaissance aircraft, to be capable of avoiding interceptors and missiles, centered on a design propelled by liquid hydrogen. This proved to be impracticable because of considerable fuel consumption. Lockheed then reconfigured the design for conventional fuels. This was feasible and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), already flying the Lockheed U-2, issued a production contract for an aircraft designated the A-12. Lockheed’s clandestine ‘Skunk Works’ division (headed by the gifted design engineer Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) designed the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.2 and fly well above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging requirements, Lockheed engineers overcame many daunting technical challenges. Flying more than three times the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are enough to melt conventional aluminum airframes. The design team chose to make the jet’s external skin of titanium alloy to which shielded the internal aluminum airframe. Two conventional, but very powerful, afterburning turbine engines propelled this remarkable aircraft. These power plants had to operate across a huge speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to more than 3,540 kph (2,200 mph). To prevent supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s team had to design a complex air intake and bypass system for the engines.

Skunk Works engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section design to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to achieve this by carefully shaping the airframe to reflect as little transmitted radar energy (radio waves) as possible, and by application of special paint designed to absorb, rather than reflect, those waves. This treatment became one of the first applications of stealth technology, but it never completely met the design goals.

Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, after he became airborne accidentally during high-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed great promise but it needed considerable technical refinement before the CIA could fly the first operational sortie on May 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight over North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as part of the Air Force’s 1129th Special Activities Squadron under the "Oxcart" program. While Lockheed continued to refine the A-12, the U. S. Air Force ordered an interceptor version of the aircraft designated the YF-12A. The Skunk Works, however, proposed a "specific mission" version configured to conduct post-nuclear strike reconnaissance. This system evolved into the USAF’s familiar SR-71.

Lockheed built fifteen A-12s, including a special two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s were modified to carry a special reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s were redesignated M-21s. These were designed to take off with the D-21 drone, powered by a Marquart ramjet engine mounted on a pylon between the rudders. The M-21 then hauled the drone aloft and launched it at speeds high enough to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also built three YF-12As but this type never went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed during testing. Only one survives and is on display at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of one of the "written off" YF-12As which was later used along with an SR-71A static test airframe to manufacture the sole SR-71C trainer. One SR-71 was lent to NASA and designated YF-12C. Including the SR-71C and two SR-71B pilot trainers, Lockheed constructed thirty-two Blackbirds. The first SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Because of extreme operational costs, military strategists decided that the more capable USAF SR-71s should replace the CIA’s A-12s. These were retired in 1968 after only one year of operational missions, mostly over southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (part of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took over the missions, flying the SR-71 beginning in the spring of 1968.

After the Air Force began to operate the SR-71, it acquired the official name Blackbird– for the special black paint that covered the airplane. This paint was formulated to absorb radar signals, to radiate some of the tremendous airframe heat generated by air friction, and to camouflage the aircraft against the dark sky at high altitudes.

Experience gained from the A-12 program convinced the Air Force that flying the SR-71 safely required two crew members, a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO). The RSO operated with the wide array of monitoring and defensive systems installed on the airplane. This equipment included a sophisticated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) system that could jam most acquisition and targeting radar. In addition to an array of advanced, high-resolution cameras, the aircraft could also carry equipment designed to record the strength, frequency, and wavelength of signals emitted by communications and sensor devices such as radar. The SR-71 was designed to fly deep into hostile territory, avoiding interception with its tremendous speed and high altitude. It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach 3.3 at an altitude more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth. The crew had to wear pressure suits similar to those worn by astronauts. These suits were required to protect the crew in the event of sudden cabin pressure loss while at operating altitudes.

To climb and cruise at supersonic speeds, the Blackbird’s Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines were designed to operate continuously in afterburner. While this would appear to dictate high fuel flows, the Blackbird actually achieved its best "gas mileage," in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, during the Mach 3+ cruise. A typical Blackbird reconnaissance flight might require several aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, usually about 6,000 m to 9,000 m (20,000 to 30,000 ft), and slow the airplane to subsonic speeds. As velocity decreased, so did frictional heat. This cooling effect caused the aircraft’s skin panels to shrink considerably, and those covering the fuel tanks contracted so much that fuel leaked, forming a distinctive vapor trail as the tanker topped off the Blackbird. As soon as the tanks were filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and again climbed to high altitude.

Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, throughout its operational career but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, too. The 9th SRW occasionally deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other locations to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions were flown directly from Beale. The SR-71 did not begin to operate in Europe until 1974, and then only temporarily. In 1982, when the U.S. Air Force based two aircraft at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall to fly monitoring mission in Eastern Europe.

When the SR-71 became operational, orbiting reconnaissance satellites had already replaced manned aircraft to gather intelligence from sites deep within Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover every geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a vital tool for global intelligence gathering. On many occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 provided information that proved vital in formulating successful U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews provided important intelligence about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath, and pre- and post-strike imagery of the 1986 raid conducted by American air forces on Libya. In 1987, Kadena-based SR-71 crews flew a number of missions over the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened commercial shipping and American escort vessels.

As the performance of space-based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-based air defense networks, the Air Force started to lose enthusiasm for the expensive program and the 9th SRW ceased SR-71 operations in January 1990. Despite protests by military leaders, Congress revived the program in 1995. Continued wrangling over operating budgets, however, soon led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the one SR-71B for high-speed research projects and flew these airplanes until 1999.

On March 6, 1990, the service career of one Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This special airplane bore Air Force serial number 64-17972. Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding and his RSO, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Vida, flew this aircraft from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging a speed of 3,418 kph (2,124 mph). At the conclusion of the flight, ‘972 landed at Dulles International Airport and taxied into the custody of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. At that time, Lt. Col. Vida had logged 1,392.7 hours of flight time in Blackbirds, more than that of any other crewman.

This particular SR-71 was also flown by Tom Alison, a former National Air and Space Museum’s Chief of Collections Management. Flying with Detachment 1 at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Alison logged more than a dozen ‘972 operational sorties. The aircraft spent twenty-four years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of 2,801.1 hours of flight time.

Wingspan: 55’7"
Length: 107’5"
Height: 18’6"
Weight: 170,000 Lbs

Reference and Further Reading:

Crickmore, Paul F. Lockheed SR-71: The Secret Missions Exposed. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1996.

Francillon, Rene J. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987.

Johnson, Clarence L. Kelly: More Than My Share of It All. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.

Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Leicester, U.K.: Midland Counties Publishing Ltd., 1995.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.

DAD, 11-11-01

Related Business Security Measure Articles

The Uses Of Lanyards In Business And Industry

The lanyard, a simple little cord around the neck of professionals, has quite an interesting story. The lanyard was originally a military item that was used to keep soldiers from losing items such as a whistle or a weapon. Over the years the lanyard became less functional and more of a decorative or ornamental item and the number of ways in which lanyards are used has exploded over the past several years. Today lanyards are technically any type of pull cord or tether used in business.

Many organizations require a special identification badge for employees as a security measure. A custom lanyard with the company name or logo is often issued to new employees for wear along with the identification badge as part of the required dress code while on shift for the organization. Lanyards also commonly hold nametags, event tickets, or any other token which needs to be readily visible. A individualized custom lanyard can give that employee chafing under a tight dress code a half inch by 20 inches worth of personality he or she so craves.

There are certain items at any workplace that simply cannot be lost for the activity to continue unhindered. These can be anything from keys, security authenticators, or thumbdrives. Simply put, if it cannot afford to be lost, put it on a lanyard. So long as the item is required an employee can maintain positive control of it without the need for constant attention. This also goes for items that are too expensive and fragile that the chance of having them hit the floor is an unnacceptable risk.

Lanyards also play a very important role in safety in industrial environments. They often serve as handles for a kill switch around a dangerous piece of machinery so as to stop the equipment if the wearer becomes incapacitated and thus pulls the pin from the switch. This same mechanism is used in dangerous vehicles as well. Interestingly, the string on a cannon, which is triggered the same way, is a lanyard.

Lanyards are used so commonly in industry that it is impossible to go a day without seeing or using one. It is such a simple tool that is used in so many ways, from identification, to physical security, industrial safety, and protecting expensive equipment from taking a fall. We depend on it without realizing it. The lanyard does everything yet it’s very simple.

Irida Sangemino is a skilful, intercontinental editor, PR expert and SEO copywriter. She is known for her unique style, which she freely displays through many well-researched articles. She writes about a variety of topics, lanyards and extraordinary sites, such as OrderLanyards.com.

Naan anyone?? 😉 — Hebron, Palestine.
business security measure
Image by usaid.d4s
Following the 1995 Oslo Agreement and subsequent 1997 Hebron Agreement, Hebron is currently split into two sectors, H1 controlled by the Palestinian Authority and H2 controlled by Israel.Around 120,000 Palestinians live in H1, while around 30,000 Palestinians along with around 700 Israelis remain under Israeli military control. As of 2009, a total of 86 Jewish families lived in Hebron. Palestinians cannot approach areas where settlers live without special permits from the IDF. The Jewish settlement is widely considered to be illegal by the international community, although the Israeli government disputes this.

The Palestinian population in H2 has greately declined due to the impact of Israeli security measures which include extended curfews, strict restrictions on movement, the closure of Palestinian commercial activities near settler areas and settler harassment.

Palestinians are barred from using Shuhada Street, a principal commercial thoroughfare. As a result, about half the Arab shops in H2 have gone out of business since 1994.

Israeli organization B’Tselem states that there have been "grave violations" of Palestinian human rights in Hebron because of the "presence of the settlers within the city." The organization cites regular incidents of "almost daily physical violence and property damage by settlers in the city", curfews and restrictions of movement that are "among the harshest in the Occupied Territories", and violence by Israeli border policemen and the IDF against Palestinians who live in the city’s H2 sector. According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian areas of Hebron are frequently subject to indiscriminate firing by the IDF, leading to many casualties.] One former IDF soldier, with experience in policing Hebron, has testified to Breaking the Silence, that on the briefing wall of his unit a sign describing their mission aim was hung that read:"To disrupt the routine of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood." Hebron mayor Mustafa Abdel Nabi invited the Christian Peacemaker Teams to assist the local Palestinian community in opposition to what they describe as Israeli military occupation, collective punishment, settler harassment, home demolitions and land confiscation.

The 1994 Shamgar Commission of Inquiry concluded that Israeli authorities had consistently failed to investigate or prosecute crimes committed by settlers against Palestinians. Hebron IDF commander Noam Tivon said that his foremost concern is to "ensure the security of the Jewish settlers" and that Israeli "soldiers have acted with the utmost restraint and have not initiated any shooting attacks or violence."

Survivors and descendants of that prior community are mixed. Some support the project of Jewish redevelopment, others commend living in peace with Hebronite Arabs, while a third group recommend a full pullout. Descendants supporting the latter views have met with Palestinian leaders in Hebron. In 1997 one group of descendants dissociated themselves from the settlers by calling them an obstacle to peace. On May 15, 2006, a member of a group who is a direct descendant of the 1929 refugees,urged the government to continue its support of Jewish settlement, and allow the return of eight families evacuated the previous January from homes they set up in emptied shops near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Beit HaShalom, established in 2007 under disputed circumstances, was under court orders permitting its forced evacuation. All the Jews were expelled on December 3, 2008.

Sheik Farid Khader heads the Ja’abari tribe, consisting of some 35,000 people, is considered one of the most important tribes in Hebron. For years, members of the J’abari tribe were the mayors of Hebron. Khader regularly meets with Settlers and Israeli government officials, and is a strong opponent of the both the concept of Palestinian State and the Palestinian Authority itself. Khader believes that Jews and Arabs must learn to coexist.


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