The Baghdad airport road:

Not worse, just more famous

Regarding the April 26 article "Toughest commute in Iraq? The six miles to the airport.": After spending the past year in Baghdad and having my unit assigned to protect the infamous "Airport Road," I can tell you exactly why it is so hard to protect. The answer - it's not hard at all.

The road is no different, tactically, from any other major roadway in Iraq. The reason everyone thinks it's so bad is because of all the high-profile traffic that drives the road. Every high-ranking official from the US and every reporter who comes to Baghdad must drive the strip of road to and from the Green Zone.

To these people, this is and will be their only trip "outside the wire," their only time really in the combat zone. Every one of them gets spooked (as they should) by the safety briefing given to them by their escorts before they leave the airport.

That same briefing is given on every road that is patrolled in Iraq. So go talk to the soldier guarding Route Cardinals or Route Husky, or the soldier patrolling the streets of Sadr City, and you will see that the airport road is just another example of the way life is across the country of Iraq.
Capt. Shaun Riffe
Burnsville, Minn.

Video-based learning a plus for students

As a writer, I understand the lament of the experts quoted in the article about the transition from reading to viewing in the world of professional training (April 26, "Can video replace the written word?"). But, as the co-owner of a video-production company, I also understand that we live in a visual world and that video-based training is far more effective than printed material.

Video helps students learn by appealing to both visual learners and verbal learners. It aids learning by organizing material in story fashion. It keeps viewers engaged through graphics, sound design, dialogue, and narrative. I've heard this from students who use my company's training videos and from clients who see this as a positive and important part of their human resource development programs.

Students are not in danger of losing time for "reflection"; they are benefiting from a richer learning environment that improves attention and retention.
Daniel Zukowski
Newport Beach, Calif.

Progress in certification of US lumber

Regarding the April 22 article "At a store near you: ecofriendly lumber": Forest certification is a great tool for protecting forests while allowing their economic value to be realized. However, the article, which states that only 1 or 2 percent of wood sold in the US is certified, does not give a complete picture of the advancements of certification in the US. A more accurate statement would be that only 1 or 2 percent of wood sold in the US is certified according to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system. The FSC program is used widely worldwide, but in the US there is a more ubiquitous certification program called the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program.

In the US and Canada, more than 100 million acres - or more than 90 percent of industrial forestland - is third-party certified to the SFI Standard, a certification standard with strong requirements that balance the economic, social, and environmental aspects and needs of the forestry industry.

Clearly, the forestry industry in the US has made greater progress in sustainable forest management than the article shows. It is necessary that consumers are aware of these advancements so that forest certification can not only continue to protect forests in the long term, but can begin to truly have an economic benefit for forest owners.
Allison Welde
Program Coordinator,
Sustainable Forestry Board
Arlington, Va.

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