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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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The high cost of disengagement


The high cost of disengagement
Walter Pincus
By Walter Pincus, Published: December 26

The United States has spent nearly $600 billion over the past 10 years putting combat forces into Afghanistan. Now it’s going to cost an additional $5.7 billion over the next year or two just to transfer or return most of the troops and equipment we shipped into that country, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.


As I list the new expenses, consider who is going to pay for all this and when. Congress and President Obama are negotiating over increasing revenue and cutting spending, but the billions in Afghan withdrawal costs cannot be reduced and must be paid. Their payment will be considered next month when Congress faces an increase to the debt limit.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department estimates that the military services have more than 750,000 major items worth more than $36 billion in Afghanistan, including about 50,000 vehicles and more than 90,000 shipping containers of materiel, according to the GAO report.

In fiscal 2011, the U.S. Transportation Command shipped 268,000 tons of supplies — more than 42,000 containers — into Afghanistan via its northern surface routes, which involve truck and rail routing through European and Central Asian countries. Those supply routes were developed after truck convoys from Pakistan were halted in November 2011 in response to the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:58 AM (0 replies)

Hard feelings on both sides as U.S. winds down its Afghan role


Col. Babagul Aamal of the Afghan National Army, center, said incidents such as the slaying of 16 villagers in Kandahar province and the inadvertent burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers at Bagram air base have added to the tension between Afghan and foreign troops.

Hard feelings on both sides as U.S. winds down its Afghan role
By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
December 25, 2012, 5:39 p.m.

SUROBI, Afghanistan — Col. Babagul Aamal is a proud veteran of 28 years in the Afghan National Army. Short and fit, with a thick black beard, he's a leader who blurts out exactly what he's thinking.

"I don't talk politics — I talk facts," Aamal said, wearing a sweater beneath his uniform in his unheated command office on a dusty base 40 miles east of Kabul.

It shames him, Aamal said, that he is not allowed to wear his pistol when he enters the fortified gate of the new American military base next door. Though he's a brigade commander, he's required to stand before an airport-type scanner with his arms raised, almost in surrender.

Yet when Americans visit Aamal's base, they are not searched. They are offered chai tea. And they bring half a dozen soldiers armed with M-16s, so-called Guardian Angels on the lookout for "insider attacks" by Afghan soldiers.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:46 AM (0 replies)

VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones


VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones
Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY11:57p.m. EST
December 26, 2012

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 servicemembers 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 that 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.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:31 AM (1 replies)

Okinawa: US violated Osprey rules over 300 times


Okinawa: US violated Osprey rules over 300 times

Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan says the US military violated the rules for its Osprey aircraft over 300 times in the first 2 months of their deployment at a local base.

Okinawa officials released the results of their visual inspections on whether the military was following the operational rules agreed upon with Japan.


The officials say the violations include 315 flights over schools, hospitals and densely populated areas.

On 74 occasions, the aircraft was flying in helicopter mode, which is said to be less stable than plane mode. The operational rules limit the use of the helicopter mode outside US bases and military precincts as much as possible.

unhappycamper comment: To read more on the Osprey in Japan, google: osprey okinawa
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Dec 26, 2012, 09:58 AM (0 replies)

No Glory, No Spoils, No Closure - The Double Whammy of Rip-off Wars


No Glory, No Spoils, No Closure - The Double Whammy of Rip-off Wars
By Robert S. Becker
12/25/2012 at 21:02:29

Today's easy riddle: what will cost more, last longer, and accomplish less than our troop-heavy, anachronistic, perpetual overseas occupations? Nothing, nada, rien -- certainly not annual deficits, Bush tax cuts, or formal defense budgets. Put aside human suffering and unbelievable dislocation: we've all shouldered a four trillion dollar price tag on two failed wars, plus the double whammy that both Iraq and Afghanistan remain unstable havens for mayhem. Is any fiscal cliff that might happen worse than two indeterminate rat holes that have happened?

When outcomes are set against costs, would not every payoff-to-price ratio indict our Asian land wars as absurd, if not obscene, devoid of socially-redeeming value? You'd think by now anti-war rage would defy the yet-to-be-rejected, neo-con mindset of shoot-first, ask-questions-later belligerence. Widely perceived as continuing crusades against Muslim populations, these wars send "messages to evil-doers" all right, but they only wither our prestige, fuel a generation of anti-American fury and taint our national soul.

What von Clausewitz justified as an "extension of politics by other means" is now a crude bludgeon that should be openly condemned, then dumped on the garbage heap. Right, next to Birtherism, creationism, homophobia, taxation hysteria (by hawks!), Biblical literalism, and the hoax of climate change. Yet these wars are treated like invisible elephants, AWOL across two full years of a three-ring election circus. Where's the Constitutional amendment chatter not against overdrawn budgets nor abortions but indefensible wars? These days, I'd take a modest New Year's resolution from any major official: how about one year without invasions?

What war of choice (that is, all of them) since Vietnam doesn't felt creepy within months of the first wave? After bombing some unfortified nation into submission, we then sit tight, inviting ambushes as conditions disintegrate. Is that a plan or insanity? The Iraq war eviscerated any old war cries of "no guts, no glory:" for without heroism, losing your guts or legs becomes a nightmarish joke, with a delayed stinger that impoverishes the next generation. All that John Wayne soldiering withers when there's no glory or spoils, vindication or closure. A reincarnated Frank Capra, whose WWII film cheered on "Why we fight," must re-title, something like "Why war sucks" because no one wins anymore and the gross enterprise stinks.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Dec 26, 2012, 09:44 AM (2 replies)

For whom the Syrian bell tolls


For whom the Syrian bell tolls
By Pepe Escobar
Dec 22, 2012

The top geopolitical tragedy in 2013: the rape of Syria.

Just as once in a while I go back to my favorite Hemingway passages, lately I've been going back to some footage I shot years ago of the Aleppo souk - the most extraordinary of all Middle Eastern souks. It's like being shot in the back; I was as fond of the souk's architecture as of its people and traders. Weeks ago, most of the souk - the living pulse of Aleppo for centuries - was set on fire and destroyed by the "rebels" of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).

In this Syrian tragedy, there is no Hemingway young hero, no Robert Jordan in the International Brigades fighting alongside Republican guerrillas against the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. In the Syrian civil war, the international brigades are mostly of the mercenary, Salafi-jihadi, beheading and car-bombing type. And the (few) young Americans in place are basically high-tech pawns in a game played by the rapacious NATOGCC club (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its Arab puppets of the Gulf Cooperation Council).

The tragedy continues. The Syrian state, political and military security apparatus will maintain its mini-blitzkriegs - with no second thoughts for "collateral damage". On the opposing side, "rebel" commanders will be betting on a new Saudi-Qatari-encouraged Supreme Military Council.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:39 AM (1 replies)

China checks the US picket line


China checks the US picket line
By Peter Lee
Dec 22, 2012

The passing year was the People's Republic of China's (PRC) first opportunity to get up close and personal with the United States' pivot back to Asia, the strategic rebalancing that looks a lot like containment.

The PRC spent a lot of 2012 wrestling with contentious neighbors emboldened by the US policy, like Vietnam and the Philippines; combating American efforts to nibble away at the corners of China's spheres of influence on the Korean peninsula and Southeast Asia; and engaging in a test of strength and will with the primary US proxy in the region, Japan.

This state affairs was misleadingly if predictably spun in the Western press as "assertive China exacerbates regional tensions", while a more accurate reading was probably "China's rivals exacerbate regional tensions in order to stoke fears of assertive China."

Whatever the framing, this was the year that the world - and in particular Japan - discovered that the PRC can and could kick back against the pivot.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:33 AM (0 replies)

Were US Marines Used as Guinea Pigs on Okinawa?


Were US Marines Used as Guinea Pigs on Okinawa?
Friday, 21 December 2012 20:59
By Jon Mitchell, The Asia-Pacific Journal | News Analysis

Newly discovered documents reveal that 50 years ago this month, in December 1962, the Pentagon dispatched a chemical weapons platoon to Okinawa under the auspices of its infamous Project 112. Described by the U.S. Department of Defense as "biological and chemical warfare vulnerability tests," the highly classified program subjected thousands of unwitting American service members around the globe to substances including sarin and VX nerve gases between 1962 and 1974. (1)

According to papers obtained from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the 267th Chemical Platoon was activated on Okinawa on Dec. 1, 1962, with "the mission of operation of Site 2, DOD (Department of Defense) Project 112." Before coming to Okinawa, the 36-member platoon had received training at Denver's Rocky Mountain Arsenal, one of the key U.S. chemical and biological weapons (CBW) facilities. Upon its arrival on the island, the platoon was billeted just north of Okinawa City at Chibana — the site of a poison gas leak seven years later. Between December 1962 and August 1965, the 267th platoon received three classified shipments — codenamed YBA, YBB and YBF — believed to include sarin and mustard gas. (2)

For decades, the Pentagon denied the existence of Project 112. Only in 2000 did the department finally admit to having exposed its own service members to CBW tests, which it claimed were designed to enable the U.S. to better plan for potential attacks on its troops. In response to mounting evidence of serious health problems among a number of veterans subjected to these experiments, Congress forced the Pentagon in 2003 to create a list of service members exposed during Project 112. While the Department of Defense acknowledges it conducted the tests in Hawaii, Panama and aboard ships in the Pacific Ocean, this is the first time that Okinawa — then under U.S. jurisdiction — has been implicated in the project. (3)

Corroborating suspicions that Project 112 tests were conducted on Okinawa is the inclusion on the Pentagon's list of at least one U.S. veteran exposed on the island. "Sprayed from numbered containers" reads the Project 112 file on former marine Don Heathcote. Heathcote, a private first class stationed on Okinawa's Camp Hansen in 1962, clearly remembers the circumstances in which he was exposed.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Dec 25, 2012, 08:17 AM (1 replies)

A Retort to US Military Expansion in Africa: 'Dismantle AFRICOM'


General Carter F. Ham, commander of the U.S. Africa Command, gathers with Ambassador Thomas Dougherty and Burkina Faso Chief of Defense Honoré Traore at the close of a briefing on August 13, 2012. Ham met with the president and other senior leaders to discuss "security issues."

A Retort to US Military Expansion in Africa: 'Dismantle AFRICOM'
- Jon Queally, staff writer
Published on Monday, December 24, 2012 by Common Dreams

Policy experts and scholars familiar with Africa have a single cautionary word for the planned military expansion that would see deployment of US soldiers and drones in as many as 35 nations dotted across the continent in the coming year: Don't.

The announcement by AFRICOM commander US General Carter Ham—made under the familiar guise of 'fighting terrorism'—was presented most expansively earlier this month at a public colloquium at Brown University in which Ham argued that the US military would begin or expand operations in Mali, Sudan, Algeria, Somalia, and more than two dozen other countries.

Pushing back, however, other experts on Africa called for AFRICOM—which is tellingly not even based in Africa but in Stuttgart, Germany—to be dismantled not expanded.

According to some, the US Africa Command has merely served to increase resource exploitation and imperial expansion, instigate more violence in Africa, and intensified regional conflicts that have actually undermined the authority of regional organizations and the African Union.

unhappycamper comment: AFRICOM was created in 2007 by you-know-who. I'm sure it was part of Cheney's oil plans for Africa. Colonies are good; independence is bad.

We really need to take a time-out and revisit our global cop/superpower/peacekeeper/arms dealer roles in the world.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:40 AM (0 replies)

3,000 hold anti-Osprey march near U.S. base in Okinawa


3,000 hold anti-Osprey march near U.S. base in Okinawa
Monday, Dec. 24, 2012

NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — A crowd of about 3,000 marched through the streets near a contentious U.S. Marine base in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, on Sunday to protest its use of the Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft.

They also protested the long-stalled plan to keep Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa, and a spate of recent incidents involving U.S. servicemen that has rekindled local anger against U.S. troops there.

Residents and supporters were seen demonstrating near the main gate of the base, with some demanding that the controversial MV-22 Osprey and the U.S. military leave Okinawa.

The Marine Corps started conducting Osprey training flights shortly after a dozen of the helicopter-airplane hybrids were deployed there in October.

unhappycamper comment: The Osprey protests in Okinawa have been persistent:

In addition to having pissed off a fair number of the locals (jamming the Osprey down their throats), they are also pissed about US military crime on their soil. Perhaps it's time they revised their Status of Forces Agreement with uncle sam.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:29 AM (0 replies)
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