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unhappycamper

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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Millions went to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, leaving many with lifelong scars

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/03/14/185880/millions-went-to-war-in-iraq-afghanistan.html



Corpsman carry a wounded Marine to a Chinook 46, April 7, 2004, as the number of U.S. Marines killed in a five hour, house to house firefight in Ramadi on Tuesday climbed

Millions went to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, leaving many with lifelong scars
By Chris Adams | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2013

WASHINGTON — Ten years after the United States went to war in Iraq, one of the most common numbers associated with the conflict is the tally of Americans killed: nearly 4,500. Add in the twin war in Afghanistan, and the tally goes to more than 6,600.

But for the men and women who served in America’s war on terrorism, the number of people affected is far larger. And for many of those people, the impact of the war will last a lifetime.

“I give presentations all over the country, and audiences are routinely shocked and surprised at the numbers,” said Paul Sullivan, a former senior analyst at the Department of Veterans Affairs who handles veteran outreach for Bergmann & Moore, a Washington-area law firm that specializes in disability issues. “Quite often they will challenge me.”

~snip~

In fact, as of last year nearly 37,000 Americans had been deployed more than five times, among them 10,000 members of guard or Reserve units. Records also show that 400,000 service members have done three or more deployments.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Mar 15, 2013, 07:21 AM (1 replies)

Sequester Will 'Gut' DoD Modernization; Navy's SSBN-X, Long Range Strike, Other New Starts In Peril

http://defense.aol.com/2013/03/13/sequester-will-gut-dod-modernization-navys-new-sub-ssbn-x-l/

Sequester Will 'Gut' DoD Modernization; Navy's SSBN-X, Long Range Strike, Other New Starts In Peril
By Colin Clark
Published: March 13, 2013

WASHINGTON: Every senior civilian leader and the Navy agree that America needs replacements for the Ohio-class nuclear missile submarines if our nuclear deterrent is to remain credible. But the SSBN-X, as the program is known, is at risk from the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, the influential head of CAPE, the Pentagon's budget and cost estimation shop, Christine Fox, said yesterday evening.

CAPE, known formally as the office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, not only does program evaluation for the Defense Secretary but it also builds the Future Year Defense Program (FYDP), a key part of the defense budget process. I asked Fox at the end of the McAleese Associates/Credit Suisse conference what the Pentagon can do to protect new starts if sequestration remains in force and it must cut such large amounts from existing programs.

"I wish I had a really snappy answer. We have to have a new SSBN and we need the bomber," Fox said. Basically, the Pentagon and the defense industry have to "hold our breath for a few years" and do what is necessary to protect those crucial new starts, which include the Long Range Strike Bomber program. Her basic prescription for protecting them is this: "What can we not do today but still protect that capability."

~snip~

"I wish I had a really snappy answer. We have to have a new SSBN and we need the bomber," Fox said. Basically, the Pentagon and the defense industry have to "hold our breath for a few years" and do what is necessary to protect those crucial new starts, which include the Long Range Strike Bomber program. Her basic prescription for protecting them is this: "What can we not do today but still protect that capability."



unhappycamper comment: I'm still trying to grasp why a 10 percent budget cut makes all the wheels fall off.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 10:51 AM (1 replies)

CNO Adm. Greenert Emphasizes Navy's Bright Future, Not Budget Crisis

http://defense.aol.com/2013/03/12/cno-adm-greenert-emphasizes-fleets-bright-future-not-budget-c/?icid=trending2



CNO Adm. Greenert Emphasizes Navy's Bright Future, Not Budget Crisis
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: March 12, 2013

WASHINGTON: The Navy's top admiral talked up cheap ships and high tech this morning, from laser weapons to a new double-decker version of the Mobile Landing Platform vessel (pictured above). Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said precious little about the rolling budget cuts called sequestration. He clearly preferred to emphasize a bold vision of the future rather than the current budget crisis that has forced the fleet to halve its aircraft carrier presence in the volatile Persian Gulf.

Indeed, speaking at a Newseum conference sponsored by McAleese & Associates and Credit Suisse, the CNO struck a remarkably optimistic note about the current fiscal misery: "If we get a bill at the end of this month, all of the carrier woes" -- delays not just to deployments but to maintenance overhauls -- "all go away," Adm. Greenert said. "The money's in place; we (just) need the authority to spend it."

~snip~

The Chief of Naval Operations spent most of his time this morning enthusing over Navy programs and new technology: the Littoral Combat Ship, LCS-1 Freedom, now headed to Singapore; the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) vessel Montford Point, christened last weekend; lasers, railguns, jammers, and drones, especially the X-47B, an experimental unmanned stealth bomber, and its projected big brother the UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System), for which the Navy will publish a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) in "about a month," he said.

By contrast, the CNO sounded more resigned than excited about the Navy piece of the $240 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the carrier-launched F-35C. We have to have it, but "the question becomes how do we buy and how does it integrate into the air wing," Greenert said. "If we bought no Cs, i think that would be very detrimental for the overall program."




unhappycamper comment: Let's take a look at some of the Navy's spending habits.

The USS Gerald R Ford: somewhere between $16 to $49 billion dollars.

$5+ billion dollar stealth destroyers.

$5~$7 billion dollar Virginia-class submarines (one a year)

$500+ million dollar Littoral Combat Ships, also known as the "Little Crappy Ship" or the "Target Barge".
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 10:45 AM (0 replies)

'Army Has It Worst' In Budget Crunch: DoD Comptroller Robert Hale

http://defense.aol.com/2013/03/12/army-has-it-worst-in-budget-crunch-dod-comptroller-robert-hal/?icid=trending1



'Army Has It Worst' In Budget Crunch: DoD Comptroller Robert Hale
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: March 12, 2013

ASHINGTON: The current fiscal crisis slams the entire military, keeping aircraft carriers in port and fighter pilots on the ground for lack of funds, but of all the services, said Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale today, "the Army has by far the worst problem."

That's because the Army faces a unique triple-barreled budget problem, known with grim humor as "6-6-6" because each part takes $6 billion out of Army readiness accounts: the automatic cuts known as the sequester, which began March 1st; the Continuing Resolution now funding the government, which continues spending at 2012 levels without any flexibility to start new programs or even adjust existing ones; and the shortfall in wartime supplemental funding (called OCO, for Overseas Contingency Operations) caused by unexpectedly high costs in Afghanistan.

~snip~

And Congress doesn't seem to be addressing the shortfall in war funding. Said Hale, "there's nothing in either of the bills" so far -- though he cautioned that his staff is still going over the Senate language made public late yesterday. So, Hale said, "we will have to look for other approaches. It just depends, frankly, on what happens with the Hill. If they pass [a defense] appropriations bill, I'll assume we'll look for reprogramming" -- i.e. authority to transfer money from one account to another, on a small scale and with Congressional approval. But the reprogramming relief-valve has strict legal limits, Hale warned.

~snip~

The force won't return to the "Hollow Army" days of the 1970s in terms of its people or its equipment, Martz said. As manpower declines, the Army has pledged to dissolve brigades rather than leave them on the books but cripplingly undermanned, as they were after Vietnam -- although sequestration may require it to cut 180,000 personnel instead of 80,000 by 2017. Vehicles and weapons are being "reset" and refurbished as they come out of Afghanistan, so the current hardware is pretty healthy.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 10:35 AM (1 replies)

Moving mountains of war gear home from Afghanistan

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-moving-afghan-20130314,0,829078.story



Bringing billions of dollars' worth of military gear back from Afghanistan poses a logistical challenge.

Moving mountains of war gear home from Afghanistan
By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
March 13, 2013, 5:59 p.m.

FT. BRAGG, N.C. — For the last 11 years, the U.S. military has stuffed bases in Afghanistan with Humvees and bullets, radios and radars, armored vehicles and surveillance balloons. Army Maj. Gen. Kurt Stein has less than two years to move $48-billion worth of weapons, gear and equipment back home.

Before U.S. combat troops leave at the end of 2014, Stein has to figure out how to transport 35,000 vehicles, 95,000 shipping containers and mountains of other war materiel out of a landlocked, mountainous country in the middle of a war.

~snip~

Until last month, Stein spent millions of extra dollars to fly out gear and equipment because Pakistan would not guarantee truck passage through the Khyber Pass to Pakistani ports. After lengthy negotiations with U.S. officials, Pakistan agreed in mid-February to allow daily ground shipments across the border, but it could still close the crossing at any time.

~snip~

U.S. forces have shut down or turned over to Afghan forces 619 bases and combat outposts, with 193 still to be handed over or dismantled. All that equipment has to go somewhere. Some — portable toilets, concrete barriers, vehicles, modular housing — is going to Afghan security forces because it costs more to ship than it's worth. Other stuff — wood and metal from temporary buildings and barriers, plus old vehicles and trailers — is being crushed and sold to Afghans as scrap.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 10:14 AM (0 replies)

Defense strategy emerges for U.S. soldier accused of fratricide in Iraq

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/defense-strategy-emerges-for-us-soldier-accused-of-fratricide-in-iraq


Defense strategy emerges for U.S. soldier accused of fratricide in Iraq
Thu, 14 Mar 2013 05:20 GMT
Source: reuters // Reuters
By Laura L. Myers

TACOMA, Wash., March 13 (Reuters) - An American soldier charged with the 2009 killing of five fellow servicemen in Iraq was at risk of suicide and was provoked by a military psychiatrist who failed to properly treat him, his lawyer said in court on Wednesday.

A likely defense strategy formulated by attorneys for Army Sergeant John Russell, 48, came into sharper focus during the second day of a pre-trial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington, where Russell faces a court-martial next month on capital murder charges.

Much of the focus was on an Army psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Jones, a lieutenant colonel at a military counseling center in Iraq who talked to Russell briefly on May 11, 2009, and then chased Russell when he fled the clinic near Baghdad airport.

Russell is accused of returning to the center the same day and shooting dead two medical staff officers and three soldiers who happened to be there.



unhappycamper comment: Five combat tours in three years will do that to you......
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 10:08 AM (0 replies)

CIA's one-time Lao base still shrouded in secrecy

http://www.bt.com.bn/features/2013/03/14/cias-one-time-lao-base-still-shrouded-secrecy



Low-lying clouds masking Long Tieng's Skyline Ridge, which guards the valley to the north. Hmong and Thai mercenaries held on here under heavy pressure during the hostilities.

CIA's one-time Lao base still shrouded in secrecy
John Mcbeth
SINGAPORE
Thursday, March 14, 2013

ELECTRICITY and an unsealed road now run through what was once known as Lima Site (LS) 20A. But 38 years after the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) abandoned its secret Long Tieng base in one of the last acts of the Indochina War, it remains just that a secret place.

Off-limits to outsiders, special permission is needed to enter the mist-shrouded valley that served as the nerve centre of the CIA's private war in which Hmong hilltribe irregulars fought North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao forces across the mountains of north-east Laos.

But driving along the overgrown 1,350m runway, once the busiest in the world, it is not readily apparent why it remains closed especially when the present communist government has turned its own wartime headquarters into a fascinating tourist attraction.

Seven years ago, Vientiane dissolved the Xaysomboune special military zone, which since 1994 had encompassed Long Tieng and nearby Phou Bia, the country's highest mountain and for decades a refuge for armed Hmong holdouts.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 10:03 AM (0 replies)

(VA) Whistleblower Accuses Government Of Neglecting Suicidal Veterans And Suppressing Science

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccaruiz/2013/03/13/whistleblower-alleges-va-neglected-suicidal-vets-suppressed-study-findings/

Whistleblower Accuses Government Of Neglecting Suicidal Veterans And Suppressing Science
Rebecca Ruiz
3/13/2013 @ 3:52PM

A leading epidemiologist says that the Department of Veterans Affairs, charged with caring for millions who have served their country, neglected assisting suicidal veterans who participated in longitudinal studies and never released important research data on the exposure of Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to toxins, inhalational hazards and burn pits.

Dr. Steven S. Coughlin, a former principal investigator at the VA’s Office of Public Health, is testifying before Congress today that supervisors threatened to remove him from a study when he asked for mental health providers to contact the suicidal veterans. Some veterans were eventually contacted, but others were not, according to Coughlin.

“I urge this Committee to direct VA to immediately identify procedures to ensure that veterans who participate in VA large-scale epidemiologic studies receive appropriate follow-up care so that this tragedy is not repeated,” he said in testimony provided to me.

The hearing, held before an investigative and oversight panel of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is taking a broad look at the care provided for Gulf War veterans. In addition to Coughlin, among those testifying are experts on Gulf War Illness, a chronic multi-symptom condition that is characterized by headaches, fatigue, widespread pain, gastrointestinal problems and cognitive difficulties. It is estimated to affect as many as 200,000 Gulf War veterans, and critics of the VA argue that the agency has focused on stress-related causes for the illness instead of wartime environmental exposures.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 09:05 AM (0 replies)

US Claims No Indefinite Detention at Guantánamo

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/14-0



A typical cellblock at Guantanamo's Camp Delta.

US Claims No Indefinite Detention at Guantánamo
by Joe Hitchon
Published on Thursday, March 14, 2013 by Inter Press Service

WASHINGTON - In unusual public testimony, the U.S. government has publicly stated that no “indefinite detention” is taking place among detainees at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay.

The testimony took place Tuesday as a panel of human rights lawyers appealed before an international human rights body over what they called an “unfolding humanitarian crisis” at the military prison, calling for an end to ongoing human rights violations they say are being committed against the detainees.

The hearing, at the Organisation of American States headquarters here in Washington, marked the first time since President Barack Obama’s re-election that the U.S. government has had to publicly answer questions concerning Guantánamo Bay. Legal representatives for the detainees also presented disturbing eyewitness accounts of prisoner despair at the facility, brought on by prolonged indefinite detention and harsh conditions that has led to a sustained hunger strike involving more than 100 prisoners at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Established in 2002, the Guantánamo Bay military prison held, at its height, more than 700 suspects of terrorism. The facility currently holds 166 prisoners, of whom 90 – most of them Yemenis – have reportedly been cleared for repatriation, while another 36 are due to be prosecuted in federal courts, although those trials have yet to take place.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 08:45 AM (0 replies)

Exclusive: U.S. plans to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/13/us-usa-banks-spying-idUSBRE92C12720130313



Exclusive: U.S. plans to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances
By Emily Flitter and Stella Dawson and Mark Hosenball
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON | Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:51pm EDT

(Reuters) - The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of "suspicious customer activity," such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

~snip~

The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 14, 2013, 08:22 AM (8 replies)
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