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From Above

How the US Stumbled into the Drone Era [WSJ] As ubiquitous as Predators, Reapers, Global Hawks and their ilk may now seem, the U.S. actually stumbled into the drone era. Washington got into the business of using drones for counterterrorism well before 9/11—not out of any steely strategic design or master plan but out of bureaucratic frustration, bickering and a series of only half-intentional decisions.
posted by modernnomad on Jul 29, 2014 - 6 comments

Identity Dominance: The U.S. Military’s Biometric War in Afghanistan

As part of its effort to combat insurgent forces interspersed within an indigenous population, the use of biometrics has become a central component of the U.S. war effort. Having expanded heavily since its introduction during the war in Iraq, biometric identification and tracking of individuals has become a core mission in Afghanistan with initiatives sponsored by the U.S. and Afghan governments seeking to obtain the biometric identifiers of nearly everyone in the country. [more inside]
posted by gorbweaver on Apr 23, 2014 - 4 comments

Those years have accomplished very little.

The A-Team Killings
"Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?"
posted by andoatnp on Nov 6, 2013 - 16 comments

Other than Honorable

"A Gazette investigation shows an increasing number of soldiers, including wounded combat veterans, are being kicked out of the service for misconduct, often with no benefits, as the Army downsizes after a decade of war."
"Disposable: Surge in discharges includes wounded soldiers"
"Left Behind: No break for the wounded"
"Locked Away: Army struggles with wounded soldiers"
posted by andoatnp on Jun 2, 2013 - 26 comments

This is victory. This is what winning looks like.

"This is What Winning Looks Like is a disturbing new documentary about the ineptitude, drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and corruption of the Afghan security forces as well as the reduced role of US Marines due to the troop withdrawal." [via vice] [more inside]
posted by Drexen on May 17, 2013 - 45 comments

"Never, ever let anybody use your gender as an excuse."

"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 25, 2013 - 49 comments

We Are Not the Dead

Portraits of Soldiers Before, During, and After War "Photographer Lalage Snow, who is currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, embarked on an 8-month-long project titled We Are The Not Dead featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan."
posted by sweetkid on Nov 12, 2012 - 25 comments

"Captains Courageous"

'While they never met, they had some things in common. Both were Army captains, engaged in important work for the nation, their costly educations paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Ian Morrison, 26, returned to Fort Hood, Texas, last December after nine months flying 70 combat missions over Iraq. Dr. Michael McCaddon, 37, was an ob-gyn resident at Hawaii’s Tripler Army Medical Center. The pilot and the doctor shared one other thing: they found themselves in a darkening, soul-sucking funnel that has trapped some 2,500 military personnel since 9/11. Like them, each died, at his own hand, on March 21, nearly 4,000 miles apart.' [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 16, 2012 - 27 comments

“All the weaker people have left. Now I’m the weakest one left.”

US Army Pvt. Danny Chen, 1992–2011
posted by zarq on Jan 7, 2012 - 105 comments

"The Third Way of COIN: Defeating the Taliban in Sangin"

100 Firefights, Three Weeks: Inside Afghanistan's Most Insane Fight
"In its first three weeks in Afghanistan’s Sangin district, the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines got into more than 100 firefights and sustained 62 casualties. The insurgents managed to negate the Marines’ night-vision gear, and rendered their traditional close-combat tactics useless. Things got so bad, the 3/5’s superior officers even suggested pulling their troops back. That didn’t happen. Instead, the 3/5 went after the militants, hard. When the 3/5 came home, they told counterinsurgency historian Mark Moyar all about their deeply unconventional approach to what was already an unconventional war."
This is an excerpt in Wired of Moyar’s 74-page after action report. (pdf) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 12, 2011 - 23 comments

"They asked us who we were, and we told them we were civilians from Kijran district."

A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
posted by zarq on Apr 10, 2011 - 59 comments

Deal of the Century

How two American kids became big-time weapons traders - "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via; previously on arms contractors)
posted by kliuless on Mar 21, 2011 - 69 comments

Gorgon Stare

With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'we can see everything.' "In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools. This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town."
posted by homunculus on Jan 5, 2011 - 85 comments

Drone warfare against Pakistan

It may take years, but some researcher will travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas and produce a definitive study on what it’s been like to live amidst an aerial bombardment from American pilotless aircraft. When that account inevitably comes out, it’s likely to find that 2010 — and especially the final quarter of 2010 — marked a turning point in how civilians coped with a drone war that turned relentless. (previously: 1,2)
posted by Joe Beese on Dec 17, 2010 - 151 comments

They always did tend towards having the snappiest uniforms

American military planners are fascinated with German/Prussian military history. Busts of Von Clauswitz adorn American military academies where On War is taught, often with the misperception that Von Clauswitz viewed war as a controllable science. Shock & Awe is just the idea of Blitzkrieg with better weapons. Endless exhortations about unit cohesion (a complex, multi-layered idea with no military definition that is nonetheless used to keep gay soldiers from openly serving) comes from admiration for the Wehrmacht, their discipline and courage on the battlefield. So too the idea of a military culture separate and more honorable than the civilians they protect, advancing the professional warrior model at the expense of the citizen-soldier model. But to quote author military/adventure author Tom Clancy, “Why do people have a fixation with the German military when they haven’t won a war since 1871?Previously
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Dec 2, 2010 - 128 comments

Tanks in Afghanistan

The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war... Although the officer acknowledged that the use of tanks this many years into the war could be seen as a sign of desperation by some Afghans and Americans, he said they will provide the Marines with an important new tool in missions to flush out pockets of insurgent fighters. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Nov 19, 2010 - 92 comments

A Year At War

A Year at War: One Battalion's Wrenching Deployment to Afghanistan: "Some 30,000 American soldiers are taking part in the Afghanistan surge. Here are the stories of the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division" out of Fort Drum, NY., based in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. Over the next year, The New York Times will follow their journey, chronicling the battalion’s part in the surge in northern Afghanistan and the impact of war on individual soldiers and their families back home. (First link is an interactive feature containing images and autoplaying video, and requires flash. Second link is a standard-style article.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 21, 2010 - 28 comments

Medal of Honor video game sales banned by US military

EA's new Medal of Honor video game allows players to take the role of Taliban insurgents killing American troops. In response, the US military has banned sales of the game on all military bases, including in privately run businesses (such as GameStop) present on bases. Military members (who game) don't seem too happy about the decision here. (More military member comments, some pro, some against, can be found here.) You can watch someone playing as a Taliban insurgent here. (Warning: MoH gameplay is rated 'M' for mature.)
posted by GnomeChompsky on Sep 4, 2010 - 90 comments

Sticks and stones ...

The War Within [more inside]
posted by Megami on Sep 4, 2010 - 4 comments

Trying to "out-terrorize the terrorists"

Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story. [more inside]
posted by jjoye on Aug 3, 2010 - 30 comments

Classified war docs published

The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel have been given access to approximately 92,000 classified Afghanistan war documents provided to WikiLeaks.
posted by lackutrol on Jul 25, 2010 - 186 comments

nation building

One Night in Afghanistan
THE PRESIDENT: at a time when too many American institutions have let us down, when too many institutions have put short-term gain in front of a commitment to duty and a commitment to what's right... all of you want to build -- and that is something essential about America. [Al Qaeda and the violent extremists have] got no respect for human life. You see dignity in every human being. That's part of what we value as Americans. They want to drive races and regions and religions apart. You want to bring people together and see the world move forward together. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 4, 2010 - 36 comments

Quagmire extraction

Free Range International on Afghanistan: "What to Do?" Part 1 and 2 [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Sep 27, 2009 - 9 comments

"And they're not supposed to kill you while you're having chai with them"

Afghan Lessons Learned for Soldiers - a collection of musings on life as a soldier in Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Sep 19, 2009 - 13 comments

Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military

Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military.
posted by chunking express on May 29, 2009 - 91 comments

LOL116DEADCANADIANSOLDIERS

Fox News, keeping it classy, recently aired a comedy segment ridiculing the Canadian military's efforts in Afghanistan. On the overnight programme, host Greg Gutfeld and friends joked about Canada's plan to pull out troops in 2011 to "do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants." He also suggested invading Canada seeing as how they "have no real army", and mocked the last name of one of the Canadian generals as being unmasculine. [more inside]
posted by spoobnooble on Mar 24, 2009 - 138 comments

Afghanistan

Combat Outpost. "As US and the UK forces struggle for a way forward in Afghanistan, John D McHugh's unique film from one of the US military's most dangerous outposts shows just how western forces are losing ground to the Taliban." Where are Afghanistan's missing millions? "Clancy Chassay hears charges of corruption levelled against the UN and aid agencies after millions earmarked for a Kabul hospital disappear."
posted by homunculus on Feb 19, 2009 - 21 comments

to take brass and fire into his mouth

Army reports highest rate of soldier suicides for three decades in 2008. [more inside]
posted by batmonkey on Jan 29, 2009 - 20 comments

We regret to inform you.

In Their Boots is a new online "magazine show" about the impact of the wars on US servicemembers and their families. The latest episode features the founder of the American Widow Project, a new documentary and an organization dedicated to helping out other war widows across the country.
posted by lullaby on Sep 13, 2008 - 5 comments

Afghanistan Civilian Deaths

Some new and disturbing footage following an air raid on Azizabad seems to be forcing the US military to do a U-turn on civilian deaths in Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by vodkaboots on Sep 8, 2008 - 37 comments

Documentary about a rescue helicopter crew on their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Above Enemy Lines (youtube 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) is a BBC Documentary about a RAF Chinook crew on their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Part 4 and 5 of the film deal with the crew attempting to rescue a wounded 19 year-old soldier from a combat zone.
posted by krautland on Sep 8, 2008 - 7 comments

Battlemind

Battlemind: Armor for Your Mind is a U.S. Army website designed to help, in part, families deal with deployment, including a series of cartoons and videos intended for children whose parents may be sent to or be returning from warzones. Part of the Army's Behavioral Health program, these give intriguing insight into military culture. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Jul 29, 2008 - 6 comments

Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan. "Like Vietnam vets did decades ago, a group of soldiers are poised to speak out about atrocities they say the U.S. committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."
posted by homunculus on Mar 13, 2008 - 45 comments

The Pritzker Military Library

The Pritzker Military Library, a "public institution for the study of the citizen-soldier as an essential element for the preservation of democracy." Found while doing some after-film research on Charlie Wilson's War, the site is a trove of largely non-partisan, often refreshingly candid military perspectives. Particular highlights are video and audio interviews with Jim Lovell and Congressional Medal of Honor winners.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Feb 11, 2008 - 5 comments

The killing of Jamie Dean

The killing of Jamie Dean. "Police in rural Maryland staged a military stakeout and shot a troubled Army vet. As his family plans to sue, they are asking how a soldier being treated for PTSD could be shipped to Iraq."
posted by homunculus on Sep 4, 2007 - 27 comments

Kaplan's Imperial Grunts

Imperial Grunts: With the Army Special Forces in the Philippines and Afghanistan—laboratories of counterinsurgency. Robert Kaplan's new book has been excerpted over the last while in the Atlantic Monthly, and it's an amazingly relevant and enthralling book. It draws several parallels that are perhaps underrepresented in the media, such as the the similarities between the Iraqi and Afghani insurgency and the the Philippine-American War. It's also an incredible look at the logistics and tactics involved in fighting wars, both at the forward-operating Special Forces level and within the macro "Big Army" bureaucracy. The focus of the book is the status and abilities of American "empire", its use of power and its goals.
posted by loquax on Dec 7, 2005 - 58 comments

D.C. Circuit: Military Tribunals A-Okay.

D.C. Circuit: Military Tribunals Just Fine, Thanks. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously rejected an appeal by an Afghan who is being detained by the military to the tribunals established by the President's Court order in 2001. The decision reversed a federal trial court ruling that the tribunals violated the Geneva Convention.
posted by esquire on Jul 15, 2005 - 67 comments

Join the Army for just fifteen months!

Join the Army for just fifteen months! Visit exciting foriegn lands! Now with "ultra-lite" benefits!
(Warning: Requires an additional two years of service in the Army Reserve / National Guard, may contain additional deployments overseas, stop-loss, 4 1/2 years in the inactive reserve, and possible devil's bargains.)
posted by insomnia_lj on May 12, 2005 - 113 comments

Virgins talkin' about sex

Virgins talk about sex. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, marines gotta kill the enemy. I think 'Flippant' is an accurate term from the Vice Adm. But most of the flak this monk is catching is from folks who say how killing the enemy "should" be. He's been called a psychopath, but it seems to me his emotional investment belies that. So do we then want robots? The civilian issue of why or where or when to fight aside - do we have the right to derogate how a soldier feels about doing his duty?
posted by Smedleyman on Feb 5, 2005 - 101 comments

Pat Tillman, The Real Story:

Pat Tillman, The Real Story: "During several weeks of memorials and commemorations that followed Tillman's death, commanders at his 75th Ranger Regiment and their superiors hid the truth about friendly fire from Tillman's brother Kevin, who had fought with Pat in the same platoon, but was not involved in the firing incident and did not know the cause of his brother's death. Commanders also withheld the facts from Tillman's widow, his parents, national politicians and the public, according to records and interviews with sources involved in the case. " Believe nothing.
posted by owillis on Dec 5, 2004 - 46 comments

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/06/29/iraq.reserves.ap/index.html

Army to recall former military members It is good to be too old! "The Army is preparing to notify about 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve that they will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Army officials said Tuesday."
posted by Postroad on Jun 29, 2004 - 136 comments

They're not dead really. They're just 'resting'....

Disappearing the Dead: 'casualty agnosticism', and the Idea of a `New Warfare' A new report ( See Boston Globe story ) by the Project on Defense Alternatives details how, in promoting it's "New [sanitized] Warfare" concept, the Pentagon has refused to release it's estimates of civilian casualties and sought to "sink the whole issue of war casualties in an impenetrable murk of skepticism" (also with the aid of Psyops campaigns). This has, the report claims : 1) made the postwar stabilization in Afghanistan and Iraq far more difficult and 2) damaged the U.S.' international reputation. [ via Cursor ]
posted by troutfishing on Feb 20, 2004 - 37 comments

War and Aftermath

Beware technology that disconnects war from politics. This is a very interesting article by Fredrick Kagan on the growing gulf between America's military means and political ends. "Unless the direction and nature of military transformation change dramatically, the American public should expect to see in the future many more wars in which U.S. armed forces triumph but the American political vision fails."
posted by homunculus on Aug 10, 2003 - 16 comments

"They were acting like bin Laden was hiding behind every door. That just wasn’t the way to be acting with civilians."

"They were acting like bin Laden was hiding behind every door. That just wasn’t the way to be acting with civilians." According to this Newsweek article, some members of U.S. Special Forces seem to think the military's recent operations to track down Al Qaeda went a bit awry.
posted by moonbiter on Sep 30, 2002 - 13 comments

Shaving for Uncle Sam.

Shaving for Uncle Sam. Stories like this just heat my blood. I swear that some people cannot see past their stars at what is really going on. Is this becoming a Gentleman's War? Next thing you know Special Forces won't be able to carry bullets in their guns.
posted by Stretch on Sep 13, 2002 - 27 comments

Food Drops Found To Do Little Good

Food Drops Found To Do Little Good "The Bush administration's much publicized food ration airdrop in northern Afghanistan - hailed by the Pentagon as a way to feed starving residents while winning their loyalty - achieved neither goal in many targeted areas, military experts, aid workers, and a report by retired US special forces officers now conclude." Problems included spoiled food, greedy Afghanis and poor planning. US military claims success. Maybe we should just stick with the guns and skip the butter.
posted by martk on Mar 26, 2002 - 12 comments

Captures from a video of an attack on a Taliban BMP.

Captures from a video of an attack on a Taliban BMP. All I have to say is "holy crap." Graphic. Interesting. Discuss amongst yourselves.
posted by manero on Jan 25, 2002 - 24 comments

This propaganda leaflet

This propaganda leaflet is apparently being dropped in afghanistan by the American Military (taken from this msnbc story about the first american soldier to die from hostile fire). Regardless of your opinion about propaganda, this seems rather sloppy. If the purpose of propaganda is to convince people of something, wouldn't you want to say it in a language they understand? Is the American military getting lazy / sloppy / over-confident? It looks like the propaganda leaflets from Desert storm (1991), Desert Fox (1998), and the bombing of Kosovo were at least in the local languages. (Who knew there was a quarterly magazine dedicated to aerial leaflet propaganda?)
posted by jnthnjng on Jan 4, 2002 - 25 comments

Northern Alliance Fighters Enter Kabul.

Northern Alliance Fighters Enter Kabul. It's almost over.
posted by tamim on Nov 12, 2001 - 75 comments

Red Cross warehouses hit. Again.

Red Cross warehouses hit. Again. Note to the British and American military: the red crosses painted on the tops of those buildings are not meant to be bullseyes. Thank you.
posted by shylock on Oct 26, 2001 - 22 comments

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