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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
December 31, 2012

Afghan violence falls, insider attacks rise


Afghan violence falls, insider attacks rise
By Denis D. Gray and Rahim Faiez
Associated Press
Sunday, December 30, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — Violence in Afghanistan fell in 2012, but more Afghan troops and police who now shoulder most of the combat were killed, according to statistics compiled by The Associated Press.

At the same time, insider killings by uniformed Afghans against their foreign allies rose dramatically, eroding confidence between the two sides at a crucial turning point in the war and when NATO troops and Afghan counterparts are in more intimate contact.

“The overall situation is improving,” said a NATO spokesman, Air ForceLt. Col. Lester T. Carroll. He singled out Afghan special forces as “surgically removing insurgent leaders from the battle space.”

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said that Afghan forces now are charged with 80 percent of security missions and also are less equipped to face the most lethal weapon of the militants — roadside bombs.
December 31, 2012

Afghans angry at US soldiers who drove away in the night leaving rent unpaid


Only sign of huge US base is pile of rubbish and broken vehicles – and a festering land dispute in a volatile province

Afghans angry at US soldiers who drove away in the night leaving rent unpaid
By Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian
Sunday, December 30, 2012 17:23 EST

US forces left behind piles of equipment, an unpaid rent bill and a festering land dispute that threatens to undermine the Afghan government when they moved out of a volatile corner of eastern Kunar province this year, local officials and their former landlords say.

The only clue that a base that dominated Pashengar village for years had been abandoned for good was the midnight rumble of a convoy of trucks. In the morning, locals found guards gone, buildings blown up and, scattered around what had been a forbidding military encampment, piles of detritus from years of western living in a remote, mountainous valley.

Rows of air conditioning units stuck out of a damaged wall, a giant, dilapidated generator was marooned near shipping containers and twisted, dented vehicles remained. But there was no sign of a cheque for a landlord who said years of rent, running to hundreds of thousands of dollars, was owing to him.

“They stayed six years and only paid rent for one year,” said Haji Najibullah Khan, who grew up in the Pashengar house that became a US base. He said the departing US commander warned him off pushing for rent money when they met a few weeks before the soldiers drove away in the night.

unhappycamper comment: This is how not to win hearts and minds.

For this we are paying >$2 billion dollars a week?
December 30, 2012

F-35 ó a case study in deficient decision-making: Olive


F-35 — a case study in deficient decision-making: Olive
By David Olive
Published on Friday December 28, 2012

The F-35 fighter plane is shaping up as the biggest fiasco in the history of military aviation. If anything’s to be gained from the monumental botch that is the costliest and most multi-functional military aircraft project ever attempted, the Joint Strike Fighter program from which the F-35 is derived should be taught at the Royal Military College and its peers worldwide. It is an epic case history of supplier over-reach on the part of defence contractors, and deficient decision-making by public policy makers.

One concedes, off the top, that progress is difficult in everything from social programs to technological breakthroughs. That said, Canada should never have embraced the hyper-ambitious F-35 project. Neither should the Pentagon, which wisely dropped out of a supersonic passenger-aircraft race in 1971 (the stillborn SST). The Anglo-French Concorde was a commercial failure the entirety of its existence despite having the skies to itself.

After interminable delays and massive cost-overruns with the F-35, Ottawa finally indicated this month it will rethink its plan to purchase of 65 F-35s meant to replace our aging CF-18s. The Pentagon, it turns out, is having second thoughts about the F-35 as well, despite having its own crisis with aging F-15s and F-16s, the backbone of U.S. military air power.

It’s worth noting here the self-inflicted damage Ottawa’s years-long commitment to the F-35 has done to Canada.
December 29, 2012

The Alzheimers States of America


The Alzheimers States of America
die Tageszeitung, Germany
By Konrad Ege
27 December 2012
Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger

It's not easy to understand the U.S. at the outset of pragmatist Barack Obama's second term in the White House. The U.S. seems to be having a tough time getting its stuff together. Republicans block passage of a budget while economic inequality grows larger. Despite Obama's impassioned speeches about gun violence, the problem is seen largely as impossible to solve. The appearance of the U.S. delegation at the global climate summit in Doha was a tragedy. Furthermore, New York and New Jersey, despite persistent traffic jams in the direction of Manhattan, can't seem to agree about building a new tunnel under the Hudson River.

At the beginning of the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan promised that it was “morning again in America,” people glanced across the ocean toward Europe and made the diagnosis: Eurosclerosis. The Europeans were seen as incapable of making decisions and reforms. However, such medical parallels never quite fit. Nevertheless, if one wanted to play doctor today and give the United States a physical exam, one might arrive at a diagnosis of Alzheimers which, according to the medical journals, is characterized by “a progressive deterioration of cognitive performance, which usually goes with a decrease of daily activities.”

People of a certain age ask whether one knows one has Alzheimers right from the outset. There's a suspicion that in America people don't really grasp – or perhaps don't want to admit – that the lights of “the shining city on a hill,” as Reagan called America, have gone somewhat dim lately.

They cling desperately to statements assuring them that the U.S. is the greatest nation on earth and still believe their nation is a “rags to riches” country. Obama often says that what makes Americans special is the belief that those who work hard and are responsible will be rewarded with success, while those who aren’t only have themselves to blame.
December 29, 2012

AlterNet Comics: Jen Sorensen on Drone Warfare in the USA


AlterNet Comics: Jen Sorensen on Drone Warfare in the USA
December 27, 2012

December 29, 2012

US Soldier Suicides Outnumber Combat Deaths In 2012


US Soldier Suicides Outnumber Combat Deaths In 2012
December 28, 2012 10:25 AM

WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – American soldier suicides continue to outnumber combat-related deaths in 2012, and the trajectory for soldier suicides continues to get worse.

Statistics released by the Department of the Army show that through November potentially 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide. As of Dec. 7, Stars and Stripes reports that 212 soldiers have died in combat-related deaths in Afghanistan.

The Army set a grim new record of 177 potential active-duty cases with 2012 coming to a close on Tuesday – 64 of these cases remain under investigation, 113 have been confirmed.

In June of this year, The Pentagon reported there had been at least 154 suicides among active-duty troops – a rate of nearly one each day. The number of suicides continues to increase despite numerous new training and awareness programs put into effect in the past few years
December 28, 2012

2013: Time For US Strategy To Get Real


2013: Time For US Strategy To Get Real
By Doug Macgregor
Published: December 26, 2012

In his book Only the Paranoid Survive, Andrew Grove describes a strategic inflection point as a point in time when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure and the old ways of competing to ones. As Grove writes, successful business structures adapt and thrive. Archaic structures that fail to adapt, decline and die.

What Grove describes is precisely what the incoming Secretary of Defense and his (or her) team must do in the opening months of 2013: Recognize we've passed a strategic inflection point and adapt the armed forces to new realities, fiscal and military, while extracting real $ savings in the process. After all, if businesses can do it, so can the American defense establishment, right? Actually, it's not so easy.

Hindsight tells us that machine guns and artillery would kill millions of infantrymen during World War I and that command of the airspace would be vital to the outcome of battles on land and sea. Frankly, it never required much imagination to figure out that the Arab Spring would soon turn to winter with the replacement of a secular dictator like Mubarak with a Sunni Arab Islamist like Morsi.

Today, it seems incomprehensible that anyone in or out of uniform could miss these realities. Why, Americans ask, could hindsight not have been foresight if viewed through a better, more focused lens? Yet, since the end of World War II, the political and military leaders of the United States have established a record of recurrent misjudgment and misperception of strategic reality from Saigon to Baghdad.
December 28, 2012

VA finds assaults on women more common


VA finds assaults on women more common
6:00 AM, Dec 28, 2012
Gregg Zoroya

About half of women sent to Iraq or Afghanistan report being sexually harassed, and nearly one in four say they were sexually assaulted, according to new research by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The study, based on anonymous surveys of female service members who deployed to war, suggest a far higher prevalence of sexual misconduct against women in war zones than is reflected by complaints gathered by the various service branches.

In February, more than 20,000 women were serving in Afghanistan. In the preceding year, only 115 reports were filed alleging sexual assault, according to the Pentagon.

The findings show there are traumatic strains beyond combat when troops go to war, said Amy Street, a lead researcher, clinical psychologist and a deputy director at one of VA’s National Centers for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorders) in Boston.
December 28, 2012

U.S. drone strikes in Yemen increase


Himyar al Qadhi stands next to a building pockmarked by damage from the drone strike that killed his brother Adnan, who was targeted for his alleged ties to AQAP.

U.S. drone strikes in Yemen increase
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2012
By Adam Baron | McClatchy Newspapers

SANAA, Yemen — In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, Yemen – home to al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula – has come close to eclipsing Pakistan as a key focus of American counter-terrorism efforts.

In 2011, then-CIA director David Petraeus characterized the group as the “most dangerous node in the global jihad” and the American government’s action has appeared to echo the rhetoric. Notably, the number of American airstrikes in Yemen, largely carried out by unmanned drones, has surged over the past year, as much as tripling in frequency in comparison with 2011.

The airstrikes are just one element of a multifaceted engagement in Yemen. A small number of U.S. forces are stationed there to provide strategic assistance to the Yemeni military, while Washington has provided more than $300 million, split among military, humanitarian and development aid.

Even as the drone strikes have increased in frequency, they remain a center of debate, overshadowing most other facets of the American and Yemeni governments’ efforts against al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

December 27, 2012

Congressman Tierney Presses for More Oversight over Defense Departmentís F-35 Joint Strike Fighter P


Congressman Tierney Presses for More Oversight over Defense Department’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program

Washington D.C. – Congressman John Tierney, Ranking Member of the National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, sent a letter today to House Oversight and Government Reform Leaders to urge comprehensive oversight of the Defense Department's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II, the largest weapons procurement program in history. Citing substantial cost overruns, repeated scheduling delays and a flawed acquisitions process which have plagued the nearly $400 billion JSF program, Congressman Tierney recommended that a series of hearings be held on the program and its role in the discussions around our country's long-term fiscal health.

The entire text of the letter sent by Congressman Tierney this afternoon follows and can be found here.

December 21, 2012

The Honorable Darrell E. Issa

Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings

Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The Honorable Jason E. Chaffetz

Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations

Dear Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings and Chairman Chaffetz:

As the Committee prepares its oversight plan for the 113th Congress as required under House Rule X(2)(d)(2), I am writing to request that the Committee consider comprehensive oversight of the Defense Department's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II, the largest weapons procurement program in history. Substantial cost overruns, repeated scheduling delays and a flawed acquisitions process have plagued the nearly $400 billion JSF program and raise questions about its future sustainability. Given the need for serious, yet balanced budget cuts to improve the long-term fiscal health of the U.S., I recommend that a series of hearings be held on the program's escalating costs, the military's continuing need for the aircraft in light of evolving global threats, and the importance of adequate testing to the acquisition process.

A recent New York Times article chronicled the JSF program's history of problems. Production of the JSF aircraft occurred before even basic flight tests were completed, a process that the Department's current acquisition chief described as "acquisition malpractice." This concurrent process of development and production has resulted in needing to retrofit the early production aircraft to fix problems that were later identified, creating billions in additional costs for the 41 aircraft already delivered. Moreover, despite 11 years of development, the program continues to have significant technical problems, such as poorly performing helmet displays and ineffective arresting cables on the aircraft carrier variant. In addition, according to GAO, the program faces many future challenges, including the need to test and secure 24 million lines of programming critical to the aircraft's operation. GAO has described JSF software development as "one of the largest and most complex projects in [Department] history."

Full-rate production of the JSF program has been delayed by six years and per-unit costs have nearly doubled from $69 million to $137 million. Given the complexity of the JSF program, the substantial amount of testing yet to be completed, and the growing risk that international partners will reduce their planned purchases, concerns remain about future delays and further increases in costs.

Given these troubling facts, the JSF program raises a number of important questions that should be investigated by the Committee. For instance, the Committee should examine whether changes may be needed to existing acquisition laws to ensure that adequate testing is completed before the U.S. government makes costly acquisitions. In addition, the Committee should examine whether alternative platforms, such as the F-16 and F/A-18, and even unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), could serve as a long-term substitute for the JSF. Moreover, in light of the Department's recent rebalancing of priorities to the Asia-Pacific region, the Committee should examine whether current plans to procure more than 2,400 JSF aircraft will adequately meet future military needs. Last, the Committee should examine the reasonableness and affordability of sustaining the JSF program, which will cost more than $1 trillion over the entire life cycle.

As you know, our Committee has a long history of conducting oversight of the Department's acquisition of this and other programs, such as the F-22 and Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) programs. Given the history of problems with the JSF program as well as the challenges posed by our country's mounting debt, I strongly urge the Committee to revisit this important topic as soon as practicable in the 113th Congress. Comprehensive and sustained oversight of this $1.5 trillion dollar program is imperative to adequately safeguard taxpayer dollars.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


John Tierney

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations

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