Left of Boom - The struggle to defeat roadside bombs. [washpo - flash & flash video]
Without participating in peacekeeping missions overseas, it is unlikely that Fiji's army would ever have become strong enough to seize power. So says the Economist: "When the British left Fiji in 1970, there were only around 200 serving military personnel. UN peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and Sinai generated a tenfold increase by 1986. The next year, Fiji witnessed its first military coup." The series of coups since then haven't stopped Fiji from continuing to participate in UN missions.
The V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft is going to combat. The aircraft cannot autorotate to safe landing if it loses power in helicopter mode, and has only a rearward facing gun. previously
Never in History Have Generals Revolted Against a War Like They are About IRAQ. "I (insert name), having been appointed a (insert rank) in the U.S. Army under the conditions indicated in this document, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God." Unlike the enlisted folks, officers only swear an allegiance to the Constitution.
An Unfortunate View From the Sky. The U.S. Navy has decided to spend as much as $600,000 for landscaping and architectural modifications to obscure the fact that one its building complexes looks like a swastika from the air.
"Hey look at this shiny trinket, I think I'll pick it up and see what it---OH GOD MY FACE." A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.
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."
Kerr Magee had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to call their waste an "experimental fertilizer" and just spread it over the top of the land.
Depleted uranium is now understood to have many medical consequences unique to its modern application as munitions, due to its incendiary, aerosolizing behavior when pulverized. (Rosalie Bertell explains, youtube) It has become a leading candidate for the cause of Gulf War syndrome, and was associated with massive increases in cancer and birth defects in Basra. The EU has called for a moratorium on its use four times, and WHO is deeply concerned with its consequences, but the USA (with Canadian complicity) and Russia continue to use it in Iraq and elsewhere. (prev: 1 2 3 4 5)
The War as We Saw It. A powerful op-ed about Iraq written by seven infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division who will soon be heading home, it has received surprisingly little attention.
Reviews of MRE's, at times unintentionally hilarious. Kosher MRE reviewed. Also, the LA Times. Previously.
U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits. "Those medically discharged with genetic diseases are left without disability or retirement benefits. Some are fighting back."
The numbers are classified, the dollars are classified, but there's no doubt that the number of "Green Badgers" are catching up to, and sometimes surpassing, that of "Blue Badgers" in some of the US's most sensitive national security positions. Bob Baer is talking about it. Others have been, too. R.J. Hillhouse has been writing a blog for roughly six months now on the phenomenon: The Spy Who Billed Me.
Make love not war? The Pentagon confirms that it was researching the possibility of a "gay bomb" that could "turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting." BBC discusses this and other unorthodox U.S. weapons proposals.
Dinos' might in army sights. The Comanche National Grasslands located near The Sex Change Capital of the World is under threat by an expanding Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site [attached to Fort Carson]. Home to countless fossils, and Native American cave art, the Purgatoire River could end up like The Stronghold Unit of the Badlands in South Dakota with one of the largest dinosaur tracks site in the world damaged or destroyed and rendered inaccessible to scientists.
Court martialed for PTSD? "But I'm very concerned that, in a time when the Army is going out there and saying, we're trying to make sure that we provide good counseling for the troops, that, when someone has asked for help, they're potentially facing a court-martial. "
Reaping What We Sow? Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.Charles C. Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Joseph P. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994. (Washington Post)
Some other opinions. (youtube) Thoughtful commentary. More.
Some other opinions. (youtube) Thoughtful commentary. More.
Soldiers may no longer use MySpace to communicate with family. The Defense Department will begin "worldwide" blocking access, as of today, to YouTube, Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos, FileCabi, MySpace, BlackPlanet, Hi5, Pandora, MTV, 1.fm, live365, and Photobucket on its computers and networks, according to a memo sent Friday by Gen. B.B. Bell, the U.S. Forces Korea commander. Note that most soldiers deployed in war zones don't have access to any network outside of the military network.
Cpl. Matt Sanchez is the BFF of Ann Coulter and gay porn consumers. "Former journalist" Charles Wilson has launched an exhaustive site all about him and his alter ego, Rod Majors. Check out his biography, a filmography, an "evidence locker," a discussion forum, articles, forums posts, and transcripts of radio interviews. This is the most comprehsenive site about this dude the world will ever need.
"Of 10 governments worldwide implicated in the recruitment or use of children as soldiers, nine receive US military assistance."
"Of 10 governments worldwide implicated in the recruitment or use of children as soldiers, nine receive US military assistance."
“[O]ur military today oversees spending of about a billion and a quarter dollars every day. Most of that is misspent. Over this past quarter-century, we've reinforced an old industrial-policy military with hardware that makes increasingly less sense, spending most on things that provide the least return. The principal argument for that is: ‘We have to keep the big, old-style military because we might fight a big, old-style war one day.’ But in the future the bigger you are, the harder you're going to fall to ever-more accurate weapons.”
Embrace the Suck. Intensive military activity creates an incubator for slang. By bringing together people from geographically diverse backgrounds, putting them into stressful circumstances, and teaching them a new language of jargon and acronym, the armed forces create fertile ground for new idioms - many of which return home in civvies when the conflicts are over. In the Civil War, World War I and World War II, in Korea and in Viet Nam, servicepeople created or popularized now-familiar terms like shoddy, hotshot, cooties, tailspin, fleabag, face time, joystick, SNAFU, FUBAR, flaky, gung ho, no sweat, flame-out, and many, many others. Now, the GWOT brings us a new generation of 'milspeak'. Military columnist Austin Bay has published an early collection of neologisms from Gulf War II. On NPR, Bay explains what The Suck is, how to identify a fobbit, and why Marines look down on the attitude of Semper I.
Dr. Noori ... stayed home the day of the strike to prevent his workers from finding out that he knew many of the soldiers.
"I thought, 'Why don't we just raid the place?' " --the newest and only currently viable way to check up on how the billions and billions we're spending on reconstruction in Iraq is being spent--fake raids by the US military, making it seem like the recipients aren't receiving aid from us, and in fact are being targeted by us.
Like most boys, I grew up dreaming of a life filled with action and adventure. Unlike most men, I was able to live out those boyhood dreams during my five years in the French Foreign Legion. Previously.
A Soldier's Lament by Brian Mockenhaupt in Esquire, brought to you via MSN. We've seen a similar post by a Marine officer recently, but I liked the tone of this one a bit more because it does a better job of showing us the inside of a warrior's head.
Vet Kills Himself After VA Turns Him Away Marine veteran Jonathan Schulze survived the war in Iraq but almost two years after he came home, it ended up killing him, reports The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. He had one of the toughest jobs in the war: taming the insurgent hotbed of Ramadi in 2004.
The private war of women soldiers. "Last year, Col. Janis Karpinski caused a stir by publicly reporting that in 2003, three female soldiers had died of dehydration in Iraq, which can get up to 126 degrees in the summer, because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being raped by male soldiers if they walked to the latrines after dark."
Confessions of an Army Torturer "...as an army interrogator, he tortured detainees for information he admits they rarely had. Since leaving Iraq he’s taken this story public, doing battle on national television against the war’s architects for giving him the orders he regrets he obeyed...
Born to War is a series of paintings of American women killed in Iraq. The combination of the increasing role of women in the American military and the blurring of lines between combat and non-combat roles in Iraq have made this the first war in which female US soldiers have died in direct combat. The focus on a smaller number of women provides a more approachable view of casualties than more general sites like Iraq Body Count and raises some interesting questions about the role of women in the US military.
An interesting project from the latest Vectors Journal. "Legend has it that Paglen, who has been called the Fox Mulder of cultural geography, was personally instrumental in provoking the military to extend the perimeter around Area 51 by several miles in an attempt to thwart one of his counter-surveillance efforts" [via]
Kit Up! is a site where current and former soldiers report the one thing they absolutely could not have done without in their military life. Whether hitchhiking the galaxy or fighting the enemy, don't forget your towel. And don't even think about going door kicking without your Silly String.
The President's call for a troop surge in Iraq will likely be a headache for military recruiters, who have already had to relax standards to (barely) meet their quotas. But just how desperate are they for warm bodies? Radar prank called recruiting stations around the country disguised as a veritable Breakfast Club of misfit would-be soldiers, all dramatically unqualified or unattractive for service in some way. The resulting transcripts are hysterically funny (the writer poses as a flamboyantly gay man, a mama's boy, a martial arts freak, a junkie, an IBS sufferer and a lobotomy patient). The recruiters turn out not to be quite as sleazy as you might imagine, but the conversations are priceless.
The helicopter that was shot down over Iraq this weekend was carrying, among other high-ranking officers, the US Army's chief medical officer for troops in Iraq.
Fired for serving her country - while reports about reservists losing their jobs upon returning home are nothing new, the story of one reservist and her fight against her previous employer has caught the attention of the national media (see "Coming Up" teaser), in addition to the local news (video link). Meet Lt. Col. Debra Muhl, a nurse and hospital administrator currently suing Sutter Health, her former employer, which less than three years ago promoted her military service as an asset to the organization (7MB pdf link - see page 5).
Second thoughts on gays in the military by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili. (NYT link; do the Bugmenot thing if you need a username and password.) M/I
Twenty-one years ago today a plane crashed in Gander, Newfoundland. The flight carried American soldiers heading home for the holidays, returning from a mission in the Sinai. Called the worst aviation disaster on Canadian soil, the crash killed the 248 soldiers and 8 crew members aboard. On December 16th, mere days after the crash, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, to comfort the victims' families. As time passed, however, some of the families demanded answers from the US Government regarding the circumstances of the crash. In 1989, Robin Tallon, member of congress from South Carolina, assisted the families' by bringing the matter before Congress - and also sending a letter to then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney (scroll down page). In 1992, a Time Magazine article addressed forensic evidence which supported the idea of an on-board explosion prior to impact, as well as the flight's connections to Iran Contra and the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. This article also discusses the book written on the crash by Les Filotas, a dissenting member of the air safety board. The question was brought forth again in 1993, with a bill introduced requesting that a commission be formed to further investigate the circumstances of the crash. As with any disaster with unanswered questions, conspiracy theories abound. To this day, many of the questions surrounding Flight 1285 remain unanswered. While the crash may never be fully explained, one certainty remains - for the families whose loved ones never came home for Christmas, the twelfth day of the twelfth month will never be forgotten.
Bill Moyers speech at West Point on "The Meaning of Freedom." I repeat: These are not palatable topics for soldiers about to go to war; I would like to speak of sweeter things. But freedom means we must face reality: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Free enough, surely, to think for yourselves about these breaches of contract that crudely undercut the traditions of an army of free men and women who have bound themselves voluntarily to serve the nation even unto death. Previously on MetaFilter: after 9/11, inequality, religion and democracy, the environment, right-wing media, public broadcasting. Wikipedia.
Wierd tanks: Tank design has pretty much come to the point where all tanks are alike. They are mostly 60 ton machines with single turret with a 120-125 mm main gun. A number of different approaches has been tried through history, tough. One is the the heavy multiturreted Soviet T-35 from the 30s. Another take is the Swedish S-tank from the 60s, which did away with the turret altogether. A bit more conventional, but pretty much a one-nation tailor-made design is the Israeli Merkava, which is balanced heavily in favour of crew survivability with the engine in front and the ability to carry along a few infantrymen. The strangest of the bunch is the Russian WWI Czar tank, but just a tad impractical, standing 9 meters tall.
US Military Papers open fire on Rummy. Tomorrow, the Army Times -- and all other Military Times papers, including Navy and Air Force Times -- will run an editorial calling for Donald Rumsfeld to tender his resignation or be fired, due to his gross incompetence in handling the Iraq quagmire.
The Air Force finally went and got themselves a proper memorial. Although he’s now deceased, the man who designed it also designed some other buildings around town. It’s a unique structure, with time-tested big lead balls to compensate for the wind. On opening day, a ‘sky-parade’ of old and new aircraft paid tribute, flying overhead in sequence. Some like it, some don’t.
The Sandbox A Doonesbury driven non-partisan non-policy community blog on the details of being human in a global war on terror.
Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift is the Navy lawyer who took the case of defending Salim Ahmed Hamdan (aka Osama bin Laden's driver). A quick plea-bargain was expected, but Swift managed to get his client a hearing before the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. While a complicated and nuanced decision, most would agree that "Swift, one of five judge advocate general lawyers assigned to represent the first round of commission defendants, determinedly stepped through this looking glass, defying skepticism at home and abroad that he and his colleagues would do more than a perfunctory job." However, despite all of his efforts and obvious legal abilities, he was recently passed over for promotion and effectively fired under the military's "up or out" promotion system. (Previously:   )
An Israeli military training mission gone bad. A mid-air collision during a simulated dogfight. An A4 Skyhawk goes down, and an F-15 Eagle decides to try and make it the 10 miles back to base. When the pilot lands, he finds out that he has definitively answered the question, Can this aircraft fly on just one wing? [video]
Since 2000, at least 40,000 soldiers have deserted the Army--most of them as a result of the Iraq War. 50,000 deserted during Vietnam. How do we compare their statements of moral outrage with those of Siegfried Sassoon? (related)
So Much Fire To Roast Human Flesh from Arthur Magazine--an 18-track, multi-artist compilation CD curated by Foster featuring exclusive contributions from some of the more outspoken members of the nation's burgeoning psychedelic folk scene, ... All profits will be distributed to specific counter-military recruitment and pacifist organizations and programs who effectively advise high school students and other Americans at risk of being taken advantage of ... (and you can listen here). Some might remember Arthur vs. Godsmack--their music is heavily featured in recruiting ads.
The Nedelin disaster remains the most fatal catastrophe in the history of rocketry. On October 26, 1960 an R-16 ICBM designed by Mikhail Yangel accidentally ignited killing over 100 within moments. The incident remained in strict secrecy for thirty years until it was unearthed by James Oberg. The true casualty rate remains a mystery and Kazakhstan still sees more than its fair share of rocket mishaps.
American Coup D'Etat. Will the most powerful and well-funded institution on the planet remain under civilian command indefinitely? As the domestic spying saga unfolds and militarism rises, Harper's brought four experts - both academics and brass - to discuss the possibilities.
"To subdue America entirely, the only route remaining would be to seize the machinery of state itself, to steer it toward malign ends—to carry out, that is, a coup d'état."(See also The Origins of the Military Coup of 2012 [previous])
I'm Coming Home (video/sound warning)