April 25, 2005

Marines From Iraq Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men

Oy.

Posted by Eric at 02:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Gen Wesley Clark Before House Armed Services Committee

From part of his openning statement:

On the first track, the U.S. military must shift away from the battlefields and move into more of a reserve role, relying on a cadre of U.S. advisors to strengthen the newly-minted Iraqi forces. This will entail risks, as U.S. forces turn over combat responsibilities, so it must be paced to improved Iraqi capabilities and the development of an advisory structure ... The U.S. armed forces are caught up in an over-extended ground campaign that is rapidly using up our ground combat strength. In equipment terms, each year in Iraq puts about five years of normal wear-and-tear on the equipment. The wheeled and tracked fleets from the first combat rotation into Iraq have not yet been fully repaired and restored. Reserve component units are leaving much of their equipment behind in Iraq for follow-on units, thereby crippling their recovery and retraining at home

Even more importantly, the human costs to the all-volunteer Army, especially, have been staggering. The Army currently has 17 brigades deployed in Iraq, from an active force of 33 brigades, which should grow to 44 brigades as the result of internal Army restructuring. Most reserve component brigades have already been called up and deployed. The result is that active duty soldiers can expect to be deployed every other year to Iraq for a year long combat tour, unless either the size of the American commitment to Iraq is reduced or the size of the active force is significantly increased.

And even maintaining the force at its current size is likely to be challenging. While the active force is meeting its retention objectives, recruiting for the Army and Marine Corps is lagging behind both for the active and the reserve component. Ultimately, if the current combat levels in Iraq continue, this recruiting gap is unlikely to be closed by more financial incentives. Most married soldiers just can’t contemplate indefinitely deploying for a year, every other year, away from their families.

Even worse is the treatment that the United States is meting out to its returning reservists, Guardsmen, and other veterans. Over the past three years there has been a substantial erosion of veterans benefits -- hospitals have closed or reduced treatments, usage fees have risen, returning reservists and Guardsmen have lost jobs, had their homes foreclosed on, credit scores ruined, suffered family tragedies, and significant stresses. The adjustment mechanisms to receive home our soldiers and then to sustain them and care for them as a grateful nation should are simply inadequately developed and funded. We owe our veterans -- and we owe their families as a pragmatic matter, if we don’t do more, we’ll never be able to raise the forces we need to sustain our commitments.

Posted by Eric at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

General Clark on Iraq

See Daily Kos.

Posted by Eric at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2005

Political News

LAT. Schiavo Dies 13 Days After Tube Removal
LAT. Religious Order to Fight Abortions: Roman Catholic Missionaries of the Gospel of Life will counter abortion and euthanasia
LAT. Democrats Set to Reject Pick for U.N.
BBC. US captain guilty of Iraq killing
KRT. Bush's Social Security plan loses steam among young adults
NYT. Social Security, Growth and Stock Returns
NYT. Supreme Court Removes Hurdle to Age Bias Suits
WP. An Unlikely Meeting Of the Minds: For Very Different Reasons, Groups Agree on Gas Alternatives
WP. Social Security Plan Meets Doubt in Iowa: GOP Lawmakers: Approach Isn't Selling
WP. Bush Is Keeping Cabinet Secretaries Near Home
The Hill. DeLay allies draw up plan to hit back
The Hill. Dems craft their own plan
WPost. Stryker Army vehicle comes up short: Classified study says vehicle puts troops at risk
AP. Three Join Opposition to Bolton Nomination
AP. Liberals Run Ads Demanding DeLay Resign
AP. Patrick Kennedy rules out Senate bid
CNN. Report: Iraq intelligence 'dead wrong'

Posted by Eric at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Undermars.com

Via the Rolling Stone blog, Undermars.com, which "contains an archive of photos taken by soldiers and military contractors serving in active duty." Obviously, graphic image warning.

Posted by Eric at 12:40 PM | Comments (3)

March 13, 2005

Post War Planning

That would have been nice, eh? NYT:

In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government's first extensive comments on the looting.

The Iraqi official, Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, said it appeared that a highly organized operation had pinpointed specific plants in search of valuable equipment, some of which could be used for both military and civilian applications, and carted the machinery away.

Here's your ironic moment:
The threat posed by these types of facilities was cited by the Bush administration as a reason for invading Iraq, but the installations were left largely unguarded by allied forces in the chaotic months after the invasion.

Posted by Eric at 07:03 AM | Comments (1)

January 27, 2005

Deaths Hit Community

The AP writes, "No single military attack or accident stands out as hitting Hawai'i harder since the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor."

The crash of a transport helicopter in Iraq that claimed the lives of 27 Marines shook the Windward O'ahu community around the Kane'ohe Marine base as residents awaited the names of the dead.

"Your heart just sinks," said Bobbie Jerome, 34, a teacher whose Marine husband, Jon, has not been deployed to Iraq.

"Whether you know them or not," added Shondra Hampton, also 34, a fellow teacher at Kailua Intermediate School whose husband, Shawne, is in the Navy and also has not been deployed.

Some 12,000 Hawai'i-based troops, including 1,000 Marines, serve in Iraq or Afghanistan. About 4,700 members of the Hawai'i Army National Guard and the Army Reserve are scheduled to leave for Iraq in the coming months.

From the Honolulu Advertiser, "Grief spreads out into the community," an article discussing the effects of deployment and loss on a community:
But when that loss is unexpected and involves a large number of people, it reaches beyond those immediately affected and spreads to an entire community that is also searching for ways to grieve.

The deaths yesterday of 27 Kane'ohe Bay Marines in a helicopter crash in Iraq will hit their families and close friends the hardest. But the pain also will be felt by neighbors, acquaintances and even others who also lost loved ones recently, experts said ... As of yesterday afternoon, local schools had not yet learned whether their students or staff have been affected by the crash, but campuses with many military dependents already have programs in place to help their students deal with deployed parents and possible tragedies.

At Kainalu Elementary School in Kailua, where a quarter of the children have parents in the military, school counselors have set up a "Miss U" program to help students cope with parental deployment.

The Armed Forces YMCA soon will offer tutoring and the chance to talk about military life and adjusting to their parents' absences.

Another program gives the school's youngest children help with the transition period after their parent has been deployed.

More crash coverage.

Meanwhile, the violence continues.

Posted by Eric at 02:02 PM | Comments (8)

January 12, 2005

It's Official: No WMDs

From today's front page Washington Post: "The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley. In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas."

Posted by Eric at 04:18 PM | Comments (11)

December 17, 2004

Donate Your Lunch Money, Bush

From Ken Bode in the Indy Star:

President Bush said, "As I have told many families I met with, we're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones in a mission that is vital and important." In fact, until Wilson's question, we obviously were not.

That brings us to the final headline: "At Bush Inauguration, Lunch Will Set You Back $250,000."

This is a lunch with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, obviously exclusive to the high tax brackets. There will also be a "Salute To Those Who Serve," with free tickets for the military.

The arithmetic is too tempting. It costs $25,000 to fully armor a Humvee. Each $250,000 lunch ticket could go straight to equipping 10 vehicles, so our reservists and Guards in Iraq won't have to ride around with homemade sandbags on the floor.

Posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (7)

December 13, 2004

AP: 8 Marines Killed in Iraq's Anbar Province

AP: "Eight U.S. Marines were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the military said Monday, a day after American warplanes pounded Fallujah with missiles as insurgents battled coalition forces in the city."

Posted by Eric at 09:13 AM | Comments (5)

December 10, 2004

Americans Anti-American

Aren't optimistic about Iraq democracy; give more comfort to the terrorist, whyyyyy dont ya bastards:

-- Americans' confidence that a stable, democratic government can be established in Iraq has eroded since last spring, according to an Associated Press poll taken amid continuing violence ahead of next month's election.

Public support for Bush's handling of the Iraq war has edged up over the past six months, however.

Fewer than half, 47 percent, think it's likely Iraq will be able to establish a stable government, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs. A little more than half, 51 percent, said they think it's not likely.

In April, 55 percent said they believed a stable, Democratic government probably would be established in Iraq, and 44 percent thought it was not likely.

But at least Americans can take comfort in knowing that the supply lines are A-OK.

Posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (36)

December 09, 2004

Honoring a Guardsman's request

From columnist Lloyd Omdahl in the Grand Folks Herald:

In February, I wrote a column upbraiding the national planners for exploiting the National Guard in conducting the war in Iraq. I argued that continuous life-threatening duty was not in the deal made by all of the Guard men and women but that many of them joined up as a means of financing their higher education. They had bargained for weekend training and emergency duty, such as fighting floods, policing events, and serving as a community resource, but not extended months of combat. For choosing Guard service as the price for their higher education, I noted, young people were being exposed daily to roadside bombs, rocket attacks and sniper fire. And even though they were being exploited, they heroically answered the call in the face of an unjust assignment.

This February column found its way to Iraq and several months later I received a lengthy letter from one of the Guardsmen confirming the comments I had made.

"I hope you don't forget about us because your writing can help people realize the reality of the situation," he wrote in his first paragraph. Then he went on to explain that he had a dream of going to college and was enticed to join the Guard because of its promise to help finance his education.

When he enlisted, he explained, the major emphasis of the recruiter was on the college education. Nothing was said about the possibility of war, let alone deployment in an optional pre-emptive action halfway around the world ... As for my July correspondent, he will not be taking advantage of that college education he was promised. Spc. Cody Wentz of Williston, N.D., was killed in Iraq a few weeks ago. This column is being written to honor his request that we not forget the Guard and to help people understand the reality of the situation.

Posted by Eric at 04:09 AM | Comments (27)

November 11, 2004

Cross-Post: SCOTT MCLELLEN: IRRESPONSIBLE AND IGNORANT

My post over at the Al Franken blog. Programming note, I'll probably be doing a post or so daily at the Franken blog (and link whenever I write something over there).

Posted by Eric at 02:23 AM | Comments (15)

November 07, 2004

[WPost] 52 killed, at least

[WPost] 52 killed, at least 16 U.S. soldiers wounded in new attacks in Iraq. U.S. headed for assault on Fallujah.

Hours after the attacks began, Fallujah's mujaheddin shura, or council of holy warriors, which governs the city, issued a statement in which it threatened to "launch wide military operations within the first hours of the U.S. attack on Fallujah, to open several fronts at the same time." The statement said insurgents were standing by in the cities of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Basra and Samarra.

Posted by Eric at 08:08 AM | Comments (7)