Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
December 31, 2011

Who's Zooming Who

The new radar-evading aircraft, which cost the Air Force $15 million, has a maximum takeoff weight of 15,800 pounds and can fly at 460 mph. The drone, built near San Diego, is for testing purposes.


Air Force buys an Avenger, its biggest and fastest armed drone
By W.J. Hennigan
December 31, 2011

The Air Force has bought a new hunter-killer aircraft that is the fastest and largest armed drone in its fleet.

The Avenger, which cost the military $15 million, is the latest version of the Predator drones made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a San Diego-area company that also builds the robotic MQ-9 Reapers for the Air Force and CIA.

The new radar-evading aircraft, also known as the Predator C, is General Atomics' third version of these drones. The Air Force picked up only one of them, strictly for testing purposes.


The Avenger represents a major technological advance over the other Predator and Reaper drones that the Obama administration has increasingly relied on to hunt and destroy targets in Central Asia and the Middle East, defense industry analysts said. It may be several months — even years — away from active duty, but the Avenger represents the wave of the future, said Phil Finnegan, an aerospace expert with the Teal Group, a research firm.

*cough* *cough*

On December 21, 2011, the Washington Post had an article about more Predator drones on the US / Mexico border:


More Predator drones fly U.S.-Mexico border
By William Booth, Published: December 21

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — In the dead of night, from a trailer humming with surveillance monitors, a pilot for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency was remotely flying a Predator drone more than 1,000 miles away.

From an altitude of 15,000 feet, over the desert ranchlands of Arizona, the drone’s all-seeing eyeball swiveled and powerful night-vision infrared cameras zeroed in on a pickup truck rattling along a washboard road.

“Hey, where’s that guy going?” the mission controller asked the drone’s camera operator, who toggled his joystick, glued to the monitors like a teenager with a Christmas morning Xbox.


Fans of the Predators say the $20 million aircraft are a perfect platform to keep a watchful eye on America’s rugged borders, but critics say the drones are expensive, invasive and finicky toys that have done little — compared with what Border Patrol agents do on the ground — to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, drug smugglers or terrorists.

unhappycamper comment: wikipedia is also in on the disinformation; they claim the MQ-9 Predator cost:

Unit cost US$154.4 million (est 2011) system includes 4 aircraft (US$30.35 million/aircraft (2011)[1]), ground control stations, and Predator Primary Satellite Link

FWIW, I have found wikipedia costs for military hardware to be 50% ~ 70% lower than what they actually cost.
December 29, 2011

Wake Up: America Can't Afford Its Military

Wake Up: America Can't Afford Its Military
By Doug Macgregor
Published: December 28, 2011

Through the last year the defense industries and their supporters in Congress worked overtime to ensure the federal government kept the armed forces in a perpetual procurement cycle. Inside the Pentagon, the generals and admirals who lead thedefense bureaucracies worked to minimize procurement costs. This was not altruistic behavior. It's the only way to protect the armed forces' outdated force structures from more debilitating cuts; cuts that threaten the single service way of warfare along with the bloated overhead of flag officer headquarters.

Meanwhile, public pronouncements from the office of the Secretary of Defense on cost savings initiatives or about imminent strategic disaster if defense spending is reduced fell flat. In fact, everything in 2011 related to defense, from the controversial F-35 program to the multi-billion dollar contracting fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan, looked like window dressing designed to buy more time for an anachronistic, insolvent defense establishment.


What we can say is that Americans are signing up for President Eisenhower's philosophy in the aftermath of the Korean War. He insisted the nation deserved both "solvency and security" in national defense. Like Eisenhower, Americans seem to understand the nation's vital strategic interests are only secure when the United States' scientific-industrial base is productive and our society prospers. Predictably, there is also a growing recognition that the million dollars a year it costs to keep one American soldier or Marine on station in Afghanistan makes no sense when, for a fraction of the cost, the U.S. Army and other federal agencies could easily protect America's borders from the wave of criminality, terrorism and illegal immigration washing in from Mexico and Latin America.

Looking forward into 2012, American voters seem to understand what many of the men running for President do not: Given America's fragile economic health, 2012 is no time for uninformed decisions regarding the use of force. The deficit Americans worry most about is not fiscal; it's a national deficit of integrity and reason.


December 22, 2011

The eyes that reveal the trauma of war: Haunting portraits show Marines before, during and after ser

The message body of this post was accidentally deleted due to an unexpected bug in our new software. The bug has been fixed, and most of the data was recovered. But unfortunately we were unable to recover the full text of this post. An older version of this post may be available in its edit history. Also, the author of the post may edit the post to replace the missing text, if they wish. The DU Administrators apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.
December 21, 2011

(GOP) Lawmaker: Boeing won't build tanker in Kansas

Lawmaker: Boeing won't build tanker in Kansas
By Rick Plumlee | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011

WICHITA, Kan. — U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said Monday morning that a senior Boeing official has told him the company does not intend to finish its new-generation tanker at its Wichita facility, and that the work would be done in Seattle.

"I hope he was ill-informed," Pompeo said during a news conference at the National Center for Aviation Training in Wichita. "But there is no reason to believe that he did not know what the Boeing Co. intended."

Boeing had no response to Pompeo's claim other than to reiterate the statement it made last month when the company announced it was conducting a study on the future of its Wichita site. At the time, Boeing said closing the Wichita facility was among the options being considered.


Pompeo declined to identify the Boeing official who told him the KC-46A tanker would be finished in Seattle, but he had plenty to say in reaction to the comments made to him by that official in recent weeks.


December 21, 2011

Afghanistan Casualties More Severe Despite Pentagon's Claims Of Progress

Afghanistan Casualties More Severe Despite Pentagon's Claims Of Progress
David Wood
Posted: 12/20/11 03:53 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Despite official assertions of progress in Afghanistan, American battle casualties remain stubbornly high, and the severity of the physical and psychological wounds suffered by young Americans is actually increasing.

So far this year, more than 5,000 American troops have been wounded -- about one third of all those injured in Afghanistan since 2001.


pb[Despite a $22.4 billion Pentagon effort over the past six years, these improvised explosive devices remain the biggest single cause of American casualties, killing or wounding more than 34,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, according to Defense Department data.


A U.S. Army study released last summer detailed the increasing severity of battle wounds suffered by troops in Afghanistan. The report said that the number and severity of these wounds, which include the traumatic amputation of two, three or all four limbs, exceeds anything experienced during the Iraq war.


December 15, 2011

JSF - What's Really Happening


JSF - What's Really Happening
Posted by Bill Sweetman at 12/13/2011 7:00 AM CST

When the Joint Strike Fighter team told Guy Norris about the jet's first run to its Mach 1.6 design speed, a couple of minor facts slipped their minds. Nobody remembered that the jet had landed (from either that sortie or another run to Mach 1.6) with "peeling and bubbling" of coatings on the horizontal tails and damage to engine thermal panels. Or that the entire test force was subsequently limited to Mach 1.0.

But selective amnesia is not even one of five "major consequence" problems that have already surfaced with the JSF and are disclosed by a top-level Pentagon review obtained by Ares. Those issues affect flight safety, the basic cockpit design, the carrier suitability of the F-35C and other aspects of the program have been identified, and no fixes have been demonstrated yet. Three more "major consequence" problems are "likely" to emerge during tests, including high buffet loads and airframe fatigue.

Experience from flight testing has eviscerated the argument that the F-35 program architects used to support high concurrency, with fat production contracts early in the test program: that modeling and simulation had advanced to the point where problems would be designed out of the hardware. In fact, the F-35 is having just as many problems as earlier programs, which means that there is no reason to expect that it will not continue to do so.

The "quick look review" (QLR) panel was chartered by acting Pentagon acquisition boss Frank Kendall on Oct. 28, eight days after top U.S. Air Force, Navy and U.K. Royal Air Force operational test force commanders jointly expressed their concern that the F-35 would not be ready to start initial operational testing in 2015, as envisaged in the delayed test program adopted in January.
December 15, 2011

More problems with F-35 joint strike fighter are revealed


More problems with F-35 joint strike fighter are revealed
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011
By Bob Cox

Problems with the F-35 joint strike fighter appear to be more numerous and more serious than the Defense Department has been willing to concede publicly, according to an internal report prepared for top Pentagon officials and obtained by the Star-Telegram.

The report, dated Nov. 29, sounds alarms that technological and performance problems, which will be costly to resolve, lie ahead for the already troubled and over-budget warplane. Among the issues raised are unexpectedly severe shaking and failures of an important electrical component. However, the report does not suggest that any of the problems cannot be overcome or that the F-35 will be unable to fulfill its intended capabilities.


The latest report comes as the Pentagon faces big budget cuts even as spending on the F-35 program is scheduled to rise sharply.


The report is a damning assessment of the state of the F-35 program, said longtime Pentagon weapons procurement critic Franklin C. "Chuck" Spinney, a former Air Force officer and Defense Department civilian weapons analyst.
December 14, 2011


M16A1s, c-rats,
Punji sticks, POWs
B-52 strikes, Tet
Helicopters, SPADs
Agent Orange, cluster bombs
Search and Destroy, Vietnamization

Fast forward

Shock and Awe, Get R Done
These colors don’t run
WMD lies, Fallujah
Basrah, Tikrit
Kabul, Helmand
B-2s, drones
Night raids, burn pits
Depleted uranium, Willie Pete
IEDs, Abu Ghraib
Torture, Terror

Lockheed Martin, L3
SAIC, Raytheon
Northrup Gumman, General Dynamics
Boeing, KBR
CACI, DynCcorp
Honeywell, General Electric
Bectell, General Atomics

Nobel Peace Prize
Iraq, Afghanistan
Pakistan, Libya
Djibouti, Somalia
Yemen, Uganda
South Sudan

Death, Dismemberment


December 13, 2011

Blackwater 3.0: Rebranded ‘Academi’ Wants Back in Iraq

The company formerly known as Blackwater


Blackwater 3.0: Rebranded ‘Academi’ Wants Back in Iraq
By Spencer Ackerman
Email Author
December 12, 2011 | 12:00 pm


Say goodbye to Xe. The company formerly known as Blackwater — the world’s most infamous private security corporation — has jettisoned the name it chose in its 2009 rebrand. Now the “security solutions provider” wants to wash away the taint of the 2007 Nisour Square shootings by adopting the new name “Academi.”

But the company is changing its name — not its core business. And it even wants back into the country where it ran its brand through the mud: Iraq.
“Our focus is on training and security services. We’re continuing that,” new CEO Ted Wright tells Danger Room. “We’re not backing away from security services. The lion’s share of our business today is providing training for security services and [providing] security services.”

If Blackwater — sorry, Academi – was a sports franchise, you’d consider 2011 its rebuilding year. A consortium of investors close to the family of founder Erik Prince bought the company in late 2010, and spent 2011 putting together its new leadership team. It brought on board former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bill Clinton consigliere Jack Quinn and Suzanne Folsom from the insurance giant AIG. Wright came from military-services giant KBR. Notice a pattern? All have deep experience with crisis management.
December 12, 2011

Lawmakers press military housing company to fix problems

By Lauren King
The Virginian-Pilot
© December 12, 2011

NORFOLK - In response to complaints about mold in privately run military housing from residents to federal lawmakers, Lincoln Military Housing representatives said they will make changes.


Residents began by describing their problems with water damage, mold and service. They brought photos and paperwork. One woman drove from Charlotte, N.C., to talk about the problems she had for the five years she lived in military housing in Virginia. She moved in October.

Warner often had to raise his hands to quell the roar of residents as complaints grew to include Lincoln personnel and contractors' behavior. The one-hour meeting stretched to nearly two.


Jeff Franzen and Jarl Bliss of Lincoln said they will change contractors, create a new customer service officer position and find a resident family housing advocate.

unhappycamper comment: Privatization is the problem, as well as all the big $$$$$$$ toys the DoD is buying.

Military communities are showing the same signs of neglect as the rest of the US.

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364
Latest Discussions»unhappycamper's Journal