Those looking for a relaxing summer break may have opted for somewhere other than Iraq. But for one Harvard Law School (HLS) student, the visit to the country in August was about work — and duty.Erik Swabb was there as part a tour sponsored by Vets for Freedom, a group founded by combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, whose mission, as stated on its Web site, is “to educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts by applying our first-hand knowledge to issues of American strategy and tactics in Iraq.”On this recent visit, Swabb, a former Marine, was also reporting for the National Review. A frequent contributor to the magazine and Web site, he was embedded with the U.S. Army’s 18th Military Police Brigade in Baghdad.Instead of football or baseball greats as boyhood idols, Swabb’s boyhood stars were fighting men.“All my heroes growing up were military people; one of my idols was Gen. Grant,” said the Columbia graduate who majored in political science.“I thought it was kind of the ultimate challenge in life to be able to make decisions under stress and in combat … for a cause greater than oneself, and the sacrifice involved.”While stationed overseas as a platoon commander, the HLS student ended up making these sorts of decisions himself, facing ambushes and firefights, and witnessing numerous casualties.It was after his college graduation that Swabb’s interest in the military and desire to engage in public service led him to enlist. He joined the Marines just prior to 9/11 and was eventually deployed to Iraq where he served for several months outside Baghdad from 2004 to 2005. His unit saw combat during the effort to retake Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold in the Al Anbar province.After returning from the war, Swabb felt compelled to write about his experiences. One of his first efforts appeared after the escalation of violence in 2006 and was sharply critical of the military for placing the blame heavily with the civilian leadership at the time.“The military deserves its fair share of blame for shortcomings in Iraq,” wrote Swabb in an opinion piece that ran in the Baltimore Sun in June 2006. “Because of the failure of the top military leadership to institutionalize the lessons of the Vietnam War, initial U.S. forces in Iraq were not prepared to wage counterinsurgency. As a result, we are facing a more difficult battle.”He was also moved to pick up his pen, he said, after talking with his best friend, another Marine who had also served in Iraq.“What is going on?” Swabb recalled the two asked each other of the situation on the ground in Iraq in 2006. They were confident the tactic of living and working in the local communities, side by side with Iraqis, was the way to go, but incredulous that the approach wasn’t being adopted on a wider scale. “We wondered,” recalled Swabb, “‘Where in the chain of command is it being lost what the correct approach is?’ … We just didn’t see it happening, Baghdad was descending into chaos; it was just so disheartening.”Swabb knew firsthand the strategy could work. After the second battle of Fallujah, his former commanding officer relocated his unit to a local town instead of to a U.S. base. While there, he said, they removed improvised explosive devices, uncovered arms caches, and targeted former high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.“It was great because we were able to see what a difference that living out with the people … makes. You’re out there providing security 24/7 — that’s the only way someone’s willing to give you intelligence on the bad guys.”This past August, Swabb was back in the country getting an inside look at the current situation on the ground. In Baghdad he met with members of both the U.S. and Iraqi security forces, inspected police stations, visited checkpoints, and attended the graduation ceremony of the country’s largest police academy.Swabb said the story across the board was a consistent one: Things are improving, with Iraqis increasingly confident and in control of their own safety.“From the colonel down to the private you want to hear what their evaluations are, and it’s uniform throughout that entire chain of command, which is why you can be pretty confident in the assessment: [Things] are a lot better.”Swabb was even more impressed by what he saw. He described Iraqi security officers returning to their homes, unarmed, still dressed in their uniforms, a move he said was unthinkable only a short time ago.“That would be a death sentence before the surge and before the new strategy because unarmed, wearing an Iraqi police uniform, you are going to be kidnapped and killed.”On a visit to a detention center, Swabb unexpectedly encountered two Iraqi human rights workers also inspecting the facility. Though he wasn’t allowed to speak with them, Swabb said just seeing them there was a positive sign.“This is wonderful; this is what you need to see. It’s great to have international human rights workers taking a look at this stuff or have Americans looking at this stuff, but if the Iraqis can look at this stuff, that’s awesome and it was wonderful to see that.”When it comes to timetables, Swabb isn’t a fan. The problem with establishing such fixed withdrawals of troops, he argued, is that it ignores Iraqi preparedness.“If the whole point of us being over there is training up the security forces to turn it over to them when they are ready, how can you regiment a timetable?” he said.He also noted that the concept of a timetable has a different meaning for Iraqis than Americans.“Their view of what a timetable is is different than the American view. A timetable by definition is inflexible for us; for them,” he said, “everything is flexible.”Swabb acknowledged the situation is still tenuous and that questions remain about the future role of the Sunni Awakening movement, former insurgents who have joined with the Americans to provide security and help reduce violence in the country. And questions remain as well about the future role of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army that has clashed with U.S. forces. Swabb warned, “a premature withdrawal of troops would be incredibly reckless.“There are no guarantees, but the strategy as is has had more success than anything else. … I don’t think it’s wise to change what has been working.”
Get your free guest access SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community
Soccer BY JEROME IKUAVI Kimbe Soccer Association has completed its PNG Football Association’s (PNGFA) U17 youth festival over the long weekend in the lead up to the NGI Regional Bester Qualifiers tournament that starts today. Association president Maha Vaname said so far the PNGFA programs have been successful and the outcomes are very high. The association is still managing and running the programs with its associate associations. Vaname said the other regions (Momase and Southern) have carried out their tournaments which now leaves the NGI region to run their competition. Kimbe will play host to the event. “Southern and Momase have done theirs already and now we in NGI are carrying out the regional qualifiers and next week the highlands region will be doing theirs,” he said. He said that the winners of the men’s and women’s divisions of the NGI Regional Besta qualifiers will be competing in the regional championships in Lae in September. “After selections are done here for the regional championships, there will be another selection during the regional championships for the national team to play Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup,” Vaname said. He said one of the biggest achievements by the Kimbe Soccer Association is securing associations such as Kapora and Tamba, Silanga, Barema and Buvusi that have become member associations under KSA. He added that this include NBPOL Soccer Association who is also an affiliate of the PNGFA. “Other member associations include Talasea, Kulu Dagi, Kumbago, Kapiura, Dami and Mosa that play under NBPOL Soccer Association. We have opened up and the associate members have come in and there is an increase,” he said. Meanwhile, it has been a NBPOL association tournament as teams from the association took out title at this year’s PNGFA U17 Youth Festival. Kumbago triumph as this year’s PNGFA U17 youth festival champions in the men’s division while Mosa 2 is the women’s division finalists.
Friday9.30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Aqua Aerobics at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: 300 baht per session. Tel. 038-425611 ext. DFiT.1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Bridge Club meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon at 1pm at the Bowling Green, Soi Fuengfa (Soi Xyte). Visitors of all standards are welcome and we will always find you a partner. Details are on the website – www.pattayabridge.com or call Terry on 038 422 924.1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Backgammon League (PBL) meets every Friday at Somboons Restaurant in Jomtien Beach for a tournament. For further details go to www.pattayaback gammonleague.com 2:00 p.m. Pattaya Sports Club Bowling at Pattaya Plus Bowl (north of Big C), Second Road. Contact La at P.S. after 1:30 p.m.8:30 p.m. Mickey Mouse Darts League takes place at the following venues: OK Corral, Devonshire, Cheers, Drum and Monkey, Helicopter, Londoner, Palmer’s, Rising Sun, Stars in your Eyes. For further information please call Denis on 047794050 or E-mail [email protected] Everyone Welcome!SaturdayPattaya Archery Club meets every, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at the Pirates of Pattaya Shooting Club in Hua Yai. Beginners of all ages are welcome, and equipment and coaching are free. For more information call Eric on 089 535 1193 or visit www.pattaya-archery-club.comOcean Marina Yacht Club invites experienced sailors and learners for racing weekends and funsail/training weekends. The club has 5 star clubhouse facilities and a fleet of 25′ racing yachts available. www.omycsailing.com, phone Kev Scott 087 825 0011.8:00 a.m. Diving with Mermaid’s Dive School. Contact Mermaid’s Dive Center, tel. 038 232 219 – 20, email: [email protected]:00 a.m. – noon & 2 – 6 p.m. (Sat & Sun – Also Monday to Friday) Horseback riding at the Horseshoe Point Riding Academy, the biggest equestrian center in South-East Asia. Show jumping, hacking, trail, dressage and classical dressage. Training courses from beginners to advanced riders with English speaking instructors. Leisure trail riding, group and private classes. All levels of riders welcome. Over 100 horses and ponies available. Located on 1,500 acres of beautiful tropical garden land just outside Pattaya. Free shuttle service available. For more information: phone (+66) 3873 – 5050 (ext. 4016-18), fax (+66) 3873 – 4973 or email: [email protected]com8:30 am. -10:00 am. International Players Academy meets every Sat. morning for Jr. Intermediate level Tennis at Ambassador City Tennis Courts. Visitors are welcome, just bring your tennis racket, ages range from 10-16. For more details call CJ on 086 086 212111 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Yoga at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya for beginners and intermediate: 300 baht per session. Tel. 038 425611- DFiT.3.00 pm – Pattaya Cricket Club practice nets at Horseshoe Point next to Siam Country Club. All ages and abilities welcome. Please contact Simon at [email protected]:00 a.m. Diving with Mermaid’s Dive School. Contact Mermaid’s Dive Center, tel. 038 232 219 – 20, email: [email protected]:30 p.m. Pattaya Sports Club Softball plays at the fields of Pattaya Sport Flying Club. The fields are situated as follows: follow Sukhumvit Road in the direction of Sattahip and turn left just past Greenway Driving Range. Follow the road for about 5km till you see a sign saying Pattaya Sport Flying Club on your left hand side. Turn in the sandy road for another 3/4km till you see the fields on your left side. For more details contact Dirk at: [email protected] or phone at 015754528 or Alan at 061574795.3:00 p.m. Pattaya Jungle H3 meets every 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month and departure is from the Lek Hotel on 2nd Rd at 3pm. For more info please call Kai on 01 863 5095.5:00 p.m. Pattaya Sports Club Lawn Bowling Section. Fun roll-ups on Sunday nights at 5 p.m. that will be instructional, build camaraderie, and fun. Teams will be drawn for matches, with beginners and experienced bowlers mixed together. Very generous discounts are offered for PSC members, just show up with your PSC card and flat-soled shoes if you have them. Equipment is for hire at a modest cost if you don’t have your own. Contact Bowling Green – Pattaya on 038 720 741 or email [email protected] or just call at the Bowling Green located on Soi Fuengfa between Soi Buakow and 3rd Road.Monday1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Bridge Club meets at the Bowling Green, Soi Fuengfa (Soi Xyte). Visitors of all standards are welcome (a suitable partner if necessary) and the venue is non-smoking. For all the latest information, times, location map etc. visit: – www.pattayabridge.com3:00 p.m. Pattaya Hash House Harriers: The club for drinking people with a running problem meets every Monday at 3.15 pm at the Lek Hotel, (between Soi 12 & 13 on 2nd Road). The bus leaves at 3.30 pm, and the run starts at 5pm. Call Patrick 081 687 2410 for details.6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Yoga at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya for beginners and intermediate: 300 baht per session. Tel. 038-425611 ext. DFiT.8:30 p.m. The next Monday Quiz Night is on March 14. The fixtures are as follows: Legends v Cheers, Nom’s Bar v W. Tankie, Offshore v Londoner, Palmers v Nervous Wreck, Rising Sun v Bowling Green. Everyone is invited to test your knowledge and join the fun. Email: [email protected] a.m. – 12 p.m. Yoga at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: Tel. 038 425611 ext. DFiT.Chess and Scrabble Club: every Tuesday 12pm – 5pm at Hoek-Van-Holland in Jomtien. Take Thappraya Road to intersection with Beach Road. Dong Tan Police sub-station is right there. Walk back towards Pattaya 10 meters along walking path. Hoek-Van-Holland is on the right, before the parking lot. Bring your own chess set and/or scrabble board. For more information please see website www.hoek-van-holland.com – Everyone welcome.The Pattaya Chess Club meets every Tuesday evening from 6:30 p.m. onwards at Brauhaus on 2nd Road between Soi 7 and Soi 8. Learners and anybody who would like to play chess are most welcome. Boards and clocks are provided.Wednesday9.30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Aqua Aerobics at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: 300 baht per session. Tel. 038-425611 ext. DFiT.11:00 to 12:00 pm. Salsa Aerobics at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: Baht 100 per session. Tel. 038-425611 ext. DFiT.1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Bridge Club meets at the Bowling Green, Soi Fuengfa (Soi Xyte). Visitors of all standards are welcome (a suitable partner if necessary) and the venue is non-smoking. For all the latest information, times, location map etc. visit: – www.pattayabridge.com3.00 pm – Pattaya Cricket Club practice nets at Horseshoe Point next to Siam Country Club. All ages and abilities welcome. Please contact Simon at [email protected]:30 p.m. Yoga at DFiT fitness centre, Dusit Thani Pattaya for advanced levels: Tel. 038 425611 ext. DFiT.Thursday11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Pilates at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: Great workout for the abdominals, bottom and thighs along with some stress-relieving stretches: Tel. 038 425611 ext. DFiT6:30 p.m. Yoga at DFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: Tel. 038 425611 ext. DFiT.7:00 p.m. Pattaya Panthers and Panties (mixed) Touch Rugby every Thursday night at Horseshoe Point next to Siam Country Club. New players are always welcome – we are a very sociable team! Please contact Paul Crouch on 089 902 6286 or [email protected]:30 p.m. PSC Thursday Darts League. Participating teams include Pleasure Dome, Fishermen, Roxy, Queen Vic, PSI, Helicopter, Rising Sun, Londoner and Crazy Eddie’s. For details, contact Len Banfield, PSC Darts chairman, phone 038 420 432.
BILL NEAL:10—Before I go to the greatest linebackers of all time Top 10, I’ve got to clear the air about something. Ya’ll know my partner/ref/quality hooper/great guy…“Zik.” Oh, by the way, the one thing I left out is crazy…crazy in a kind and gentle way. So last week we’re talking about my Top 10 running backs list and Zik, who by the way is often critical of my writing (Some call it critical. Some call it jealousy…you make the call.) Anyway, and here’s where the crazy comes in. Zik thinks Earl Campbell is a better running back than Franco Harris! Yeah, I know. And I’m not talking a little bit. I mean, he says he’ll take Earl Campbell over Franco every day of the week. Look, before you cast your vote, know the facts, but as always, text your answer to 412-628-4856. Now this: Franco Harris: NFL Hall of Fame —NCAA Hall of Fame—4 time Super Bowl champion —9 time Pro Bowl selection —Rookie of the Year 1972—NFL Man of the Year 1976 – NFL 1970’s All Decade Team—Steelers’ All Time Team—Super Bowl MVP —12,949 total yards ranks 12th all time, ranks 10th all time rushing TD’s—100 total TD’s—#83 all time NFL players. Earl Campbell: 5 time Pro Bowl—3 time NFL MVP—Rookie of the Year 1978—Heisman Trophy 1977—total yards 9,407—total TD’s 74 – NFL Hall of Fame—NCAA Hall of Fame. Look, luv ya blue, but the stats don’t support it and the end result doesn’t support it. Harder runner? Yes. Smarter runner? No. Franco can walk into a room. Earl has to be wheeled in. And don’t give me that better team stuff. The Houston Oilers had a Super Bowl contending team as well, but they had to go through Pittsburgh to get there. The Cleveland Browns didn’t have the best team every year, and trust me when I tell ya, everybody on the planet knew Jim Brown was getting the ball and they still couldn’t stop him.Greatness is greatness. Sorry Zik, you lose again. Just look at the numbers. (P.S. and just to rub salt in the wound…LeBron is no Jordan! That’s right, I said it.)
Ireland 1 (O’Flanagan) India 0 Vitality Hockey World Cup, London The Green Army have beaten world number 10 India to book their place in the World Cup quarter final!There was very little to separate the two sides for periods of the first half with possession sitting at 50/50 for much of the opening 30 minutes. India got off to the more lively start with a penalty corner in the 4th minute but superb running and a clearance by Hannah Matthews kept the 0-0 scoreline preserved. The Green Army settled quickly and were content to pass around the back and wait for the space to open up. That space did eventually open and Katie Mullan and Anna O’Flanagan linked up in the circle to win a penalty corner of their own. Shirley McCay stepped up for one of her powerful sweeps from the top of the circle and O’Flanagan deflected it into the net for the lead. Ayeisha McFerran was in fine form once again today as she made a superb high stick save to send Vandana Katariya’s shot over the crossbar. India amassed 3 penalty corners before the half was out but a super clearance off the line by Matthews prevented an equaliser.O’Flanagan looked like she might double her tally early in the second half as she drove down the wing and along the baseline but Savita was out quick to make a strong low save. India continued to rack up the penalty corners, finishing the day with 7 in total, but McFerran couldn’t be beaten and the Green Army defensive unit were in imperious form. India continued to mount the pressure as they hunted the equaliser but Ireland created chances of their own with Mullan sending a pinpoint pass across the circle but Nikki Evans view was restricted and it skimmed past her stick. India pulled their goalie Savita in the hope of an equaliser and despite their high press and consistent pressure, the Irish didn’t waiver. The experience of Nicci Daly came to the fore along with the unstoppable McCay as Ireland wound the clock down and recorded a famous victory, securing their place in the World Cup quarter final.Commenting after the game, head coach Graham Shaw said “What a group of players, I thought they were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. It was a difficult game, the conditions were very tough and India played very well, and made it difficult for us. Credit to the players and the work they put it, they’re a special group and they deserve this . It’s my privilege and honour to be part of this group”.Starting: N Evans, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, G Pinder, R Upton, A McFerran, C Watkins, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z WilsonSubs: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, M Frazer, E Tice, N Daly, D Duke, A Meekeprint WhatsApp Facebook Twitter Email LONDON – Vitality Women’s Hockey World CupIndia – IrelandPhoto: Ireland celebrating the win.COPYRIGHT WORLDSPORTPICS ANTONELLA GARELLO BONINI
A 26-year-old man is facing a charge of assault and robbery after two men were attacked in separate incidents early Wednesday evening in Chatham.Chatham-Kent police allege the accused, of no fixed address, approached a man walking on King Street in Chatham around 6:30 p.m. and began assaulting him in an attempt to steal his cigarettes.Police were called by a concerned citizen who witnessed the reported assault.The victim was taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.Police said as the accused fled the area. He then approached another man on Barthe Street and allegedly assaulted him. That victim did not sustain any injuries, police said.The accused was found on Grand Avenue, and arrested and charged with assault and robbery, police said.He was taken into custody pending a bail hearing.Receipts lead to arrest of Blenheim womanA 31-year-old Blenheim woman is facing charges in connection to evidence Chatham-Kent police found inside a stolen pickup truck.Police said the accused was released from court on May 6 with several conditions, including that she not operate a motor vehicle.Police recovered a stolen pickup truck early Wednesday morning on Raleigh Street in Chatham. While examining the vehicle, police found two receipts from local businesses inside the truck.Police went to these businesses and, through investigation, allege the woman was responsible for driving the stolen truck to purchase grocery store items and cash out a ticket.The accused was located Wednesday night and arrested. She has been charged with being in possession of property obtained by a crime over $5,000 and failing to comply with her release conditions.She was placed in custody pending a bail hearing.Wallaceburg teen chargedA family dispute landed a Wallaceburg teen in trouble with the law.Chatham-Kent police responded to the dispute, where an investigation revealed the accused, a 15-year-old male, allegedly threw items at his mother during an argument.While being placed under arrest, police allege the accused pulled away in an effort to resist arrest and began swinging at the officers.The youth was taken into custody and transported to police headquarters.He was charged with assault with a weapon and resist arrest, and later released with an Aug. 12 court date.Argument leads to chargeA 45-year-old Dover Township man was arrested Wednesday night in connection to an argument with his girlfriend’s father.Chatham-Kent police said the argument resulted in threats being made.The accused was arrested and charged with uttering threats.He was released with an Aug. 20 court date.Traffic enforcementSeveral area motorists are feeling the financial impact of some traffic enforcement initiatives by Chatham-Kent police.Wednesday morning, police stopped and charged five motorist with speeding through a 50 km/h zone while conducting traffic enforcement on Longwoods Road in Kent Bridge.Police were also conducting traffic enforcement in the area of construction on Pioneer Line, which resulted in nine motorists being stopped and charged with driving on a closed road.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintenance crews will perform road maintenance along the gravel Balsam Mountain Road from 6 -11 a.m. Monday, June 27; Wednesday, June 29; and Wednesday, July 6. The work will require a full road closure during these time periods to allow crews to place new gravel on the roadway.The one-way, 15-mile Balsam Mountain Road is located in the southeast area of the park accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The road runs between the Balsam Mountain Campground/Picnic Area and Straight Fork Road near Cherokee. The closure will not affect use of Balsam Mountain Campground/Picnic Area or the Round Bottom Horse Camp located on Straight Fork Road.Hikers using the Spruce Mountain Trail, Palmer Creek Trail, and Balsam Mountain Trail will not be able to begin or end their hikes from Balsam Mountain Road during the morning closures. However, these trails can be accessed in other areas of the park.
15 May 2015Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown has ruled out the privatisation of basic services, such as the provision of electricity and water, and has said load shedding will continue for three more years.Until the “end-state” of Eskom was clarified “we can’t say what parts should go where”, said Brown, who was speaking at a media briefing ahead of her budget vote in the National Assembly on 14 May.Reuters reported on 13 May that South Africa was considering either partially privatising Eskom or putting up some of its assets for sale in order to secure funding for the power producer and resolve an energy crisis.Quoting a statement from the National Treasury, it said South Africa was considering ring-fencing and selling stakes in the state power utility as it sought to secure funding for the power producer and resolve an energy crisis.“Given Eskom’s constrained balance sheet and government’s constrained fiscal position, there is a need to explore all options,” the Treasury said. “Consideration is being given to ring-fencing and selling stakes in Eskom’s non-core businesses or power stations as well as into Eskom’s business as a whole.”However, Brown was emphatic that she did not believe one should change the state-driven ownership model “for now. until you know what you are working towards. You can’t make a decision [about] what happens to Eskom or any of the other state-owned companies [until then]”.My long politician’s answerTurning to what she called “my long politician’s answer”, namely the question of what could be privatised by the state, Brown said: “Basic services must be provided by the state. How private companies and the private sector interact with that is part of what we are trying to do now. [But] we must be able to remain in charge as a state, for want of a better word.”Turning to the troubled Eskom, Brown said that even “in the deepest difficult time” – apparently referring to load shedding – Eskom had been able to connect 160 000 households with electricity.“It [Eskom] can’t be driven by capital. or profit,” she said, noting that it was the state’s responsibility – through Eskom as a commercial venture – to carry out the developmental responsibility.While acknowledging that load shedding would continue for the next three years, the minister said that some Eskom achievements “seemed to have been lost in the avalanche of publicity about other matters”.“Today, I am very pleased to announce that the ramp-up towards full output at Medupi has passed the 700MW milestone. When fully operational by the end of June 2015 as promised, it will deliver the equivalent of more than 40% of the output of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.”Scheduled maintenance of Koeberg’s Unit One was well on track and was expected to bring more than 900MW back to service by the end of May.Eskom build programme“Looking ahead I have tasked the leadership of Eskom to accelerate the completion of the build programme, with improved project management, contracting and increase the generation capacity of the existing fleet,” Brown said.The state-owned companies under her department – Eskom, Transnet, Denel, South African Express, Safcol and Alexkor – had combined annual revenues of over R200- billion, she said, and would contribute the lion’s share of the state’s investment in infrastructure of more than R330-million a day every day over the next three years.“In conclusion, I want to say that over the next five years the highest priority goals which the department and I are required to drive are set out in the National Development Programme-rooted Medium-Term Strategic Framework. Foremost among these are critical initiatives to lower the cost of doing business to stimulate job-creating growth and to increase the efficiency of the economy:First, ramp up the electricity generation reserve margin from its current levels to 19% by 2019;Second, increase the tonnage moved on rail from the current 207 million tons to 330 million tons by 2019;Third improve the operational performance of sea ports and inland terminals by increasing the average gross crane movements per hour by 25% by 2019; and,Fourth, use the Eskom and Transnet infrastructure development and replacement investment spend to drive the overall national investment rate to 25% in a way that crowds in private sector investment and creates opportunity for new suppliers and sectors.”Source: SAinfo reporter and News24Wire
Over recent years, we’ve witnessed a resurgence of interest and substantial growth in the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in retail—a veritable RFID renaissance—with more than six billion tags used in 2016 alone, not just in apparel, but for other categories and uses as well.We wanted to find out exactly what is driving this surge of interest in recent years. Which use cases are being implemented? Which of these use cases have the potential to deliver the most value, and what best practices ensure that value is actually realized? What is planned for the near future? What strategic goals are retailers trying to realize? What can others learn from the current wave of implementations?To find answers to these questions, ChainLink surveyed and interviewed over 120 retailers, primarily headquartered in North America and Europe, but many with a global retail footprint. From this research, we learned some important lessons on why RFID projects succeed or stall.- Sponsor – EDITOR’S NOTE: This research was sponsored by Tyco Retail Solutions.Why Are Retailers Adopting RFID Technology?RFID technology has made huge strides. The retail user community has conducted pilots, learned many lessons, and identified strong use cases. Standards have been established to create interoperability across the supply chain. RFID technology performance has improved greatly, while costs have come down dramatically; item-level tag costs are about a fifth of what they cost in the early 2000s. The technology promises new insights as retailers like Macy’s transform their business operations.To find out what is driving the current wave of adoption, we asked retailers for their three top reasons why they were implementing RFID (Figure 1).By a wide margin, the top reason for implementing RFID is to “improve inventory accuracy.” This makes sense; improved inventory accuracy is central to driving sales uplift and many of the other benefits and goals of RFID technology.Let’s break down how this works: RFID enables cycle counts to be completed about 25 times faster than traditional manual bar code scanning. Frequent, accurate cycle counts improve inventory accuracy, typically by 20 to 30 percent, allowing a number of retailers to achieve 99 percent inventory accuracy. This enables replenishment alerts to be reliably generated, increasing on-floor availability, and decreasing out-of-stocks (OOS), typically by 15 to 30 percent. This in turn results in sales uplift in the range of 1 to 10 percent or more for those categories.The resulting increase in sales is the fundamental financial driver of most RFID implementations in retail and illustrates the central importance of improving inventory accuracy and reducing OOS. The dominance of this particular driver for RFID implementations is even more pronounced when you consider that three of the answers to our question in Figure 1 are just different aspects of the same core driver—inventory accuracy, reduced out-of-stocks, and increased on-floor availability. When added together, these encompass the prime reason retailers implement RFID.What Are Retailers Using RFID Technology For?We asked retailers what they are using or planning to use RFID for (Figure 2). At first blush, this data appears to tell a different story from Figure 1, since “loss prevention in stores” was selected as the most common planned use of RFID. However, we caution against interpreting the results to mean that loss prevention is the primary driver of most RFID implementations.For this question, rather than forcing respondents to rank their priorities as we did in Figure 1, we asked them to simply check “all that apply.” Based on the responses to all the other survey questions and our interviews, we conclude that the use of RFID for loss prevention, while popular, is in most cases being used in combination with an inventory/replenishment application.The relative importance of inventory-based RFID applications is also supported by the data in Figure 2, where “item-level replenishment from backstock and cycle counting in stores” are practically tied with loss prevention as the most widespread use of RFID technology. With the exception of some very high-value products such as jewelry, it is not common for RFID implementations to be justified on the basis of loss prevention alone.In fact, this is a common pattern—RFID is justified based on the ROI for a prime use case, which is typically inventory accuracy, driving reduced OOS, and increased sales. Then once the retailer is using RFID, they explore other possible uses and benefits. Loss prevention is the most common among those other possible uses, but there are many others as well. Supply-chain uses are almost as popular as LP. “RFID in the DC to verify goods receipt, pick, pack, and ship” was selected by over 40 percent, and over one-third of respondents are tracking goods from the source.Looking further down the list at the wide variety of use cases, it is important to consider there are many types of retailers, store formats, operational models, and product categories, each combination having different use cases that make the most sense for them. Nearly a third of respondents are using RFID technology for both in-store fulfillment and to allow store associates to check on item availability, location, price, and other information. That shows that RFID can be an important component of an omni-channel program (more on this later). Also of note, though source tagging is increasingly common, a surprising number of retailers (nearly 25 percent) are still tagging in the store.Product authentication, selected by just over 20 percent of respondents, is primarily the domain of luxury goods such as high-end handbags. A few private-label retailers are using RFID for sample management to try and streamline and compress the upfront development process. In addition, private-label retailers are more likely to do source-to-store tracking using RFID.Display and promotion management, home delivery, and using RFID for warranty purposes have seen some piloting, but few widespread implementations. Using RFID for home delivery is being explored by e-commerce providers, especially for large, complex deliveries requiring on-site assembly and installation, in order to ensure accurate picking and optimized logistics processes, such as precise truck loading sequence and delivery confirmations. Customer experience applications of RFID, such as smart mirrors or kiosks, have gotten their share of media buzz, but are seeing little adoption to date.The Path to ROIMany retailers are achieving a strong enough ongoing ROI to justify continual expansion of their RFID technology programs. We explored these to understand how benefits are being realized, what these have in common, and how these programs tend to evolve.The survey data and interviews reveal certain “ROI centers of gravity,” as illustrated in Figure 3. Others can use these experiences to help determine a value-based path forward for themselves.Focus on High Mix Complexity Items. One common thread we found in successful implementations is that they usually start with the area of fastest ROI. For most retailers, this is a focus on products with “high mix complexity,” such as size/color/style-intensive items in apparel and footwear, inkjet cartridges, certain cosmetics such as eye shadow, fragrances, and certain sporting goods.What these categories have in common, besides relatively high price points and margins, is the need to keep many variations on display, so that when the customer walks in the door, they find just the one they are looking for. The primary driver here is tangible—sales uplift resulting from on-floor availability. As mentioned earlier, these are largely a result of the increased inventory accuracy and timely replenishment alerts that RFID applications bring to the table. This is why many retailers start their RFID efforts focused on high mix complexity/size, color, and style intensive products.Loss Prevention and Supply-Chain Uses. Retailers may expand their RFID footprint in one or more other dimensions. Some have moved from a high mix complexity core set of items, to tagging a broader set of general merchandise encompassing all replenishment items. Others are using RFID as part of their overall loss prevention programs.Loss prevention benefits can be derived at virtually any point where inventory applications are deployed and are not limited to “RFID as EAS” (electronic article surveillance) installations. As such, RFID for retail LP applications are occurring across the store floor and supply chain—in receiving, in high-theft zones on the selling floor, at the point-of-sale, and in DCs. RFID gives much more precise information about exactly what is being stolen and where, which allows retailers to more effectively target their prevention efforts.Footwear has been an interesting category where RFID technology has been used for loss prevention and also for making sure pairs stay together, ensuring the right shoes are on display and enabling store associates to check availability of the customer’s size without leaving their side.Still others—especially private-label retailers—are using RFID to improve supply-chain performance, especially for labor-intensive, error-prone processes, by using RFID to verify pick, pack, ship, ASN generation, store receiving, and inter-store transfers. As a result of RFID-enabled supply-chain processes, some retailers have seen a substantial reduction in errors and increase in accuracies, coupled with a sizeable decrease in the amount of labor required for scanning, inspection, and rework. Almost everyone who implemented RFID in their DCs and supply chain found that it exposed many opportunities for process and performance improvements.However, with some notable exceptions, many LP and supply chain uses of RFID technology were follow-on efforts that happened after the retailer realized an ROI with the core inventory accuracy and on-floor availability improvement use cases. The exceptions included jewelry or other very high-value categories, where loss prevention was the primary driver, as well as some private-label retailers who decided from the start to implement RFID end-to-end across their supply chain.Supporting Omni-channel Programs. Omni-channel retailing has become one of the most promising areas of growth. For many retailers, this requires implementing a “fulfill from anywhere” strategy, where they treat all of their inventory as one giant pool—whether that inventory resides in the DC, stores, in-transit, or on order from the supplier—and make it available for fulfilling customers’ orders from anywhere (online, in the store, or via call center) and to anywhere.This deft supply-chain management capability requires highly accurate inventory information to guarantee the reliability of the order-promising process. Telling customers, “Yes, we have one in stock for you,” only to renege on it later because the inventory data was wrong or out of date is bad for business, customer satisfaction, and reputation.Improved inventory accuracy enables retailers to confidently provide item stock availability to customers via online and mobile lookup, and to reliably promise availability for orders placed online, by phone, or in the store, whether delivered to the home or picked up in-store. Improved real-time inventory accuracy, by item and location, is RFID’s prime contribution towards enabling a more effective omni-channel program.RFID and the Customer Experience. Our research showed that the use of RFID technology for enhancing the customer experience—such as smart mirrors, smart dressing rooms, RFID-enabled kiosks, or instant checkout—is still low. The primary customer experience impact of RFID today is increasing the on-floor availability of the specific products the customer wants, which directly drives increased customer satisfaction and higher sales.Unique category, format, and process requirements can lead to innovative starting points for RFID. Project champions can come from various functions across the enterprise. Hence they discover and derive the best use cases and ROI based on their domain experience and then champion RFID across the enterprise.Avoiding the MisstepsNot all RFID programs succeed. As part of our research, we wanted to learn the lessons from projects that stalled or were canceled, as well as the successes. We asked those who ended up canceling an RFID program why those initiatives were halted. The top three reasons were: “lack of a well-defined use case,” “lack of executive support,” and “superseded by other business priorities.” This highlights the importance of selecting the use cases with the most rapid ROI and with benefits large enough to win against competing uses of capital and other initiatives that consume management attention.For some categories, such as groceries, and certain uses such as magic mirrors, the ROI for RFID hasn’t appeared to be strong enough to drive adoption. When we asked retailers who decided not to implement RFID why they made that decision, the top two reasons were “too expensive” and “insufficient ROI.”Retailers who gave those reasons for not adopting RFID-based solutions were disproportionately represented by grocers and off-price discount/dollar/liquidator stores. For those categories, RFID technology often doesn’t make sense—it is too expensive relative to the benefit, which is a factor of the profit margin per item and the importance and difficulty of replenishing items to ensure on-shelf availability. Off-price stores, who primarily make one-time buys for overrun goods, item order cancellations, and closeouts, by definition are not replenishment-driven and do not have a strong business need for item-level store visibility. In fact, some of these discount stores do not utilize technology for loss prevention and are still struggling with 2D barcodes and other scanning technologies.A few retailers also commented on difficulty with certain items and materials or environments. However, fewer and fewer retailers are running into these issues, as many of these challenges have been addressed by advancements in technology. This emphasizes the importance of selecting the right solution, experienced RFID application providers and implementation partners who have faced, understand, and overcome the challenges from the physics of RFID.Those that use source tagging and ask suppliers to change their packaging and processes, such as using RFID to verify correct pick, pack, and ship, often struggled with getting suppliers to comply, especially when those suppliers were smaller, overseas, and/or being asked to bear all the additional costs. Successful implementation has required a concerted outreach effort, training, translation of user interfaces and manuals into native languages, and sometimes cost sharing, to get widespread cooperation and adoption from suppliers.ConclusionRFID technology has come a long way in the last few years. Standards have been established. Prices for systems and tags have plummeted. RFID technology has become much more reliable—read rates and ranges are much higher than they were, and technologies and techniques to deal with metals and liquids have been developed. Software applications that can be integrated into retailers’ IT systems and that are user-friendly at the store level are now available. Solution providers and systems integrators have much more experience with retail RFID and integrating to operational systems. There are many more experienced implementers who understand the pitfalls and how to avoid them. RFID providers have evolved to more of a complete solution approach, rather than requiring such heavy-lifting component-by-component integration, engineering, and customization.But perhaps most important has been the end-users’ accumulation of expertise and deftness in understanding the different uses and the ability to derive a compelling ROI. They have realized that ultimately success is not about the technology, but understanding what to do with the new data, capabilities, and insights—what business and process changes can be made that have the most value for a retailer’s particular set of products and operating model.The original wave of adoption in the early 2000s focused on tracking pallets and cases. But the real growth in adoption occurred as retailers realized value from item-level tagging, especially by improving on-shelf availability at the store. This has driven the implementation of RFID on billions of items by retailers like Macy’s, lululemon, Zara, Marks & Spencer, and others. As a result, they are realizing a sizable operational, financial, and customer satisfaction advantage over competing retailers that are not using RFID.If you are one of those competing retailers, you should probably take a serious look at implementing RFID technology now.This article was originally published in 2014 and was updated February 27, 2018. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now