Saturday, March 26, 2005


Jorian and Korean Air Force Officers at Arlington National Cemetery. Posted by Hello

Gunny Fisher photographs his friend Sgt. Lopez at Faces of the Fallen, Arlington National Cemetery. March 2005 Posted by Hello

Why is the Military Stressed out by Iraq?

This blog discussion is really good at getting to the heart of why we are feeling the pinch.

It starts with a discussion from a few days ago in the Washington Post by Ann Tyson about the stressed military after two years. Then it gets into commentary along these lines:
  • This strain is happening at a cost of about $500 billion a year, if one adds the Fiscal 2005 supplemental defense budget (almost $80 billion) to the rest of the defense budget (almost $420 billion). Even if one removes the effects of inflation, the current level of defense spending is far more than we spent at the height of the Vietnam War where we had deployed about 550,000 troops, while we also maintained the forces needed for the Cold War
  • It goes on to explain that a decrepit procurement process has caused equipment to be too expensive and thus produced in low quanitites to keep costs down and that the unfunded equipment acquisition needs are now estimated by DoD at 1 Trillion dollars.
  • Why is this happening when it is such a little war?
  • The commentators maintain because Iraq is an unnecessary war that does not have the full support of the American people or its leaders.
  • Sun Tzu devoted the first chapter to the decision to go to war and the importance of ensuring the people and leader were of one mind with regard to the moral legitimacy as well as the need for the war. One reason that the war in Iraq is straining the military that our leadership chose arrogantly to ignore Master Sun's sage advice.
  • This error can seen in the fact that our nation's leadership has chosen not to mobilize the nation (including, amazingly, the military - industrial - congressional complex) for war. The original case for war was based on phony intelligence coupled with the free-lunch promise that it would swift and easy, relatively bloodless, and self-financing (via Iraq's oil). Now the case for the war has changed to promoting democracy, yet our leadership still refuses to ask for the sacrifices needed to mobilize the country for action.
  • Vice Admiral Shanahan maintains that the embarrassing discussion Rumsfeld had in December about going to war with the army you have occurred and ended the way it did because in fact this is an elective war in Iraq that does not have the full support of the country and all of its human and economic resources behind a just cause. He goes on the say, "But judging from the unprecedented reaction to Rumsfeld's comment last year, it's not only our soldiers who may think the Iraq war is the wrong war at the wrong time, but also the pundits and members of Congress who were upset at Rumsfeld's remarks, and felt they could express their dissatisfaction without being sent home by their constituents.
    And it makes sense. If you're fighting a war as a last resort, as should always be the case in war, you fight with whatever you've got. The fact that Rumsfeld did not appear on national TV and express his own outrage at being challenged in public by a soldier makes it appear that he, too, has doubts about the legitimacy of the war."

Marines survive frightful explosion in Iraq

NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq - A few Marines from Dragon Platoon survived an improvised explosive device while moving an abandoned vehicle from an important main supply route from Fallujah to Baghdad.


Watch the video


Convoy Unprepared for Last, Fatal Run

Convoy Unprepared for Last, Fatal Run: Here is an excellent account of the April 2004 convoy that took such heavy casualties. Reading the article one is struck by the dedication and bravery of the soldiers sent on the patrol and the civilian contractors. Also apparent is the incompetence involved at a higher level in sending this under guarded civilian convoy into an known ambush. Yet there have been no reprimands or other reprocussions to the officers in charge. Interestingly, it appears that several families of the dead truckers are going to sue to get more information from the army as to what happened. The article is well worth the read in some detail.

"From the moment it left the gate, the convoy may have been doomed by a series of errors that escalated into disaster.

The documents and interviews show:

� Military bungling and poor communications sent the men onto an active battlefield on a road that was supposed to be closed. A U.S. soldier who approved the route changed his mind minutes later and sent an e-mail advising that the road was closed. He accidentally sent the e-mail to himself, and it never reached the convoy.

� Halliburton agreed to drive the route despite warnings from its own personnel. Another Halliburton convoy traveling the route was hit earlier the same day, losing several vehicles. The leader of that convoy told colleagues that he had e-mailed his superiors about the danger.

� Neither the truckers nor their escorts had prepared for the mission. The destination was changed 15 minutes before the convoy headed out. None of them were familiar with the exact route.

� The military did not follow its own recommendations. An order issued on the morning of the convoy's departure recommended a minimum ratio of one Army soldier to accompany every two Halliburton trucks. The April 9 convoy had six soldiers among 19 trucks.

� Halliburton let its men drive unarmored military vehicles rather than their customary white civilian trucks, making the truckers appear as a military target.

The toll would have been worse if not for the actions of some U.S. soldiers and truckers, survivors said. Contractors and soldiers alike returned fire, and one soldier was awarded the Silver Star for bravery."

Pictures at an exhibition. Faces of the Fallen. Posted by Hello

Niece touches portrait of an uncle. Posted by Hello

Tillman Posted by Hello

Management of Barbarism [a guide to creating an Islamic State]

The Jamestown Foundation: "An interesting new publication to hit the web gives insight into the thinking of an al-Qaeda strategist on the next stages of the struggle. Posted on the al-Ikhlas jihadi forum [http://ekhlas.com/forum] the work is entitled Idarat al-Tawahhush, 'The Management of Barbarism,' further defined as 'the phase of transition to the Islamic state.' Due to the strategic importance of the document, Terrorism Focus has undertaken an in-depth examination of the Arabic text." [an interesting and disturbing read if you want to understand our enemy better]

FBI probe into leaked secrets takes aim at AIPAC

Haaretz - Israel News - FBI probe into leaked secrets takes aim at AIPACOne wonders how far Israeli intelligence has gone in penetrating the U.S. government and influencing its analysis of information on matters pertinent to Israel. Should the FBI determine that information the U.S. government acted on regarding Iraq, Iran and Syria were manipulated or distorted, the long-term implications on relations between the two countries could be severe. Note how little publicity this whole affair is receiving.

Wave of violence across Iraq leaves 21 dead

News: "In the National Assembly, the two biggest factions, Shias and Kurds, said they were close to agreeing on a national government. ... But questions were being raised on whether a viable democratic system can be established against a background of continuing strife. Although the US death toll had fallen, attacks on Iraqi security forces, as well as civilian casualties, have risen."

My take on the situation is that the battle lines for civil war are being clarified concurrent with the transfer of power to a Shia controlled democracy.

Rice Describes Plans To Spread Democracy (washingtonpost.com)

Rice Describes Plans To Spread Democracy (washingtonpost.com): "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday set out ambitious goals for the Bush administration's push for greater democracy overseas over the next four years, including pressing for competitive presidential elections this year in Egypt and women's right to vote in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Rice, in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, said she was guided less by a fear that Islamic extremists would replace authoritarian governments than by a 'strong certainty that the Middle East was not going to stay stable anyway.' Extremism, she said, is rooted in the 'absence of other channels for political activity,' and so 'when you know that the status quo is no longer defensible, then you have to be willing to move in another direction.' " ...

I don't think much of Rice because I think she deliberately overstated the threats in Iraq and deliberately understated the costs. However this is a powerful interview for democracy.

Question I wish the Washington Post had asked Rice: "So how does selling F-16s to Pakistan and letting it get away with trading in nuclear technologies advance the cause of democracy again?"

U.S. to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan

Salon.com News | U.S. to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan: "The United States has agreed to sell about two dozen sophisticated F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, a diplomatically sensitive move that rewards Pakistan for its help in fighting the war on terror, but has angered next-door rival India. "

It would be nice if we had caught Osama Bin Lade or Omar "dead or alive" before paying the reward money.

Analysis: Iraqi forces taking shape - (United Press International)

Analysis: Iraqi forces taking shape - (United Press International): "Washington, DC, Mar. 25 (UPI) -- A year ago this weekend, at the start of the first battle in Fallujah, nearly half the Iraqi forces called on to fight the local uprising quit. About 10 percent took up arms against the U.S. coalition.

The collapse shocked the Americans and ultimately forced a complete reconstruction of the reconstruction of Iraq's security forces."

The artcile goes on to explain improvements which have occurred especially after the election.

Iraqi forces seize suspected insurgents

"Iraqi soldiers backed by U.S. helicopters have killed several suspected insurgents and seized 131 more in a dawn raid, capturing tons of explosives earmarked for attacks on the holy city of Kerbala, officials say." ... Seized along with the suspects were three tonnes of TNT explosive, at least three ready-made car bombs, hundreds of rocket-propelled grenades, several Katyusha rockets, more than 250,000 rounds of ammunition and other equipment.

In terms of the number of people detained and the amount of weaponry seized, it marks one of the most successful Iraqi-run operations in the past two years.

Los Angeles Times: Illegal Nuclear Deals Alleged

This story is about how the State Dept. in 2004 stopped Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce from completing an investigation of nuclear technology smuggling by Pakistan from the U.S. via South Africa. The article is in detail and apparently is based on leaked sealed court documents involving the plea bargained conviction of the S. African middleman.

"'But it seems bizarre that we are letting the Pakistanis get away with nuclear smuggling because we think they'll help fight terrorism,' said Milhollin, who heads the Washington-based Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

As you get into the article it does a phone interview with one of the Pakistani recipients of specific nuclear related equipment.

Humayun Khan, in a telephone interview from Islamabad, denied any involvement with the recent shipments, saying that 'someone else' ordered the oscilloscopes and the switches, had them shipped to his office, then snatched them somewhere along the way. 'It's very tragic,' Humayun Khan said. 'You don't know where these things are landing. They come through and they vanish.'

He said Washington has allowed dozens of black market companies to flourish in Pakistan and elsewhere by selectively enforcing its nonproliferation laws.

'It's all about politics,' Humayun Khan said. 'If they don't want us to develop these things, they would do everything they can to stop it". You [the American government] close one eye and open the other at particular times to these things that have been going on.'

... Humayun Khan said he assumed that, because U.S. investigators never showed up, they must have dropped him as a suspect. Pakistani authorities haven't questioned him, he said, because he and his father have done business with Islamabad's Defense Ministry for 40 years and would not do anything the government didn't approve of.

"Nobody came to me. Why? They didn't bother," Humayun Khan said. "They know us like we were relatives."

Army Rushes Tourniquet to Troops Overseas

Yahoo! News - Army Rushes Tourniquet to Troops Overseas: Here is an excerpt ... "'This is going to save the lives of some soldiers that we had been losing on the battlefield,' said Col. Greg Jolissaint, surgeon general for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. 'You've got about two minutes to save the life of a soldier once you've blown up an artery and that artery is just squirting blood on the battlefield.' Jolissaint, a physician, said the Army realized the need for a better tourniquet in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the large number of limb wounds caused by mines and other explosives improvised by insurgents.
The new Velcro bands will cost about $20 each " ...

WWII poster. Relevant still. Posted by Hello

WWII production poster Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

Description of our Failing Defense Acquisition System

I spent the evening engrossed in reading this extraordinary report written by Col. USAF, Ret. Everest E. Riccioni entitled, "Description of Our Failing Defense Acquisition System, As Exemplified By the History, Nature and Analysis of the USAF F-22 Raptor Program, A National Tragedy -- Military and Economic," March 8, 2005.

The report ties in to a couple of previous technical papers and so is only 23 pages long and well worth the read. It would do the author a disservice to try to parrot his commentary and analysis so I won't even try. Instead I want to highlight some important comments which struck me for their clarity and perception.
  • The F-22 Raptor acquisition provides a classic example of the inability of our Department of Defense to develop and field a modern weapon relevant to our present and foreseeable wars.
  • The only real use for the Raptor is to cancel it and use the remaining $40B to $50B to fund a weapon relevant to our current enemies.
  • The Department of Defense lacks the insight and courage to do what is right for a set of programs ... Many of DoD' flaws are revealed: Change induced by an excessive development time; lack of sufficient insight into world affairs to realize that things have changed; lack of courage and conviction born of patriotism to take the correct action; failure of the DoD and the military services to give contractors the freedom to describe the art of the possible without prejudice to them; failure to hold accountable the contractors that make promises which lie outside the scope of physics and the art of the possible; and failure of service monitors and test pilots to report the facts and to take the appropriate
    corrective action. Resolution to most of these problems is For All to tell The Truth despite what it may lead to. Without the truth, we are led to Chaos and Insanity.
  • The per unit cost has risen so much for the aircraft that we cannot field enough to make a difference on any single battlefield when training aircraft and maintenance are taken into account.
  • The Iraq war made it clear that terrorists are at war with the West. ...Western nations operate as if this war doesn't exist. But it does. And it defines our real enemies for at least the next two decades terrorists, angered by Western behavior, religiously motivated, politically directed, and seemingly irrational in a Western sense an enemy difficult for the US to understand.
  • The salient point is that our new enemies do not generate air superiority problems! They indulge in insurgent wars using terrorist tactics, and in winning, find no need for air superiority aircraft. For instance, Afghanistan's Mujahideen were able to control the skies above their rag-tag insurgents. They swept the air clean of Russian gunship helicopters and air-to-surface fighters, using very inexpensive US supplied, shoulder-launched, infrared Stinger Missiles. So can our military. The conclusion is immediate air superiority aircraft better than the F-15 and F-16 are unnecessary.
  • The DoD acquisition system is flawed for its inability to check itself and inability to take corrective action.
  • Unnecessary weapons waste our nation's assets. History reveals that no nation ever became great by producing waste. Unnecessary trucks and C-130s can be useful for other purposes, but not unnecessary weapons.
  • For the cost of a modern Sukhoi 27 fighter, guerrillas can arm more than a million insurgents -- a much more powerful force, to them. A million properly trained and directed, dispersed armed guerillas can defeat a larger army of occupation.
  • Bombing insurgents is not very effective. The insurgents "bomb" us more effectively and much more precisely -- using human bombers -- in asymmetric warfare.
  • This phenomenon of continually and irrelevantly changing justifications, roles and designs is the tactic of chameleons varying their coloration to blend into their changing environment. Both do it for survival. ... Regrettably, it works in a non-thinkng democracy -- the tragic aspect. It is always necessary to generate chimerical threats to excite the unknowing public and gain their approval.
  • He points out that while assymetric warfare is desparaged, it has its place in history and in changing it. "Forgotten is that with knighthood in full flower, French knnights galloping in successive massive waves into British footmen equipped only with lances and the longbow disappeared permanently in two battles at Agincourt and Crecy for the loss of some 40 British bowmen. Horses and knights littered the battlefield. The enemy responded asymmetrically! Such is the price of irrelevant training and questionable battle evaluation."
  • A grievous result of our DoD system of weapons development is their expoential growth in cost with a concomitant exponential decrease in the numbers purchasable. ... This is Unilateral Disarmament in the Face of Our Enemies by acquiring the wrong weapons for the relevant wars.
  • Integrity and courage are required to change this system which is hard yet it must be done! Self-inflicted corrective surgery is possible but it seldom happens. Only an informed, alerted, alarmed, and active public can force these changes.

Sadr called today for a million man march to demand a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq. Posted by Hello

Mosul 2005. Up a spiral staircase. Posted by Hello

TheOmahaChannel.com - News - Soldier's Wife Wants More Armor For Troops

TheOmahaChannel.com - News - Soldier's Wife Wants More Armor For Troops#: For the first time the Nebraska national guard, recently deployed to Iraq came under fire during convoy escort. There were multiple injuries though only one soldier was evacuated to Landstuhl. Here is a a quote from the wife of one of them regarding their armor levels.

"'There were injuries, but God was with them. He kept them safe,' said Faye Rullo, whose husband, Paul, was part of the convoy that was attacked.
She said the soldiers need more than prayers. Rullo said her husband tells her the quarter-inch armor they use now doesn't protect the entire truck. Since they travel a road near the infamous 'Sunni Triangle,' they need the whole cab of their vehicles surrounded by armor. 'The government has said they have the armor -- they don't have,' Rullo said. 'And I know they are not the only company that doesn't have it.' "

There is also a video taken by an insurgent that was captured and is attached here. The insurgent filming the attack and 24 other were killed.

Pentagon to spend $350 million on next-generation jammer

Pentagon to spend $350 million on next-generation jammer: Here is an article discussing a series of contracts to be let next month regarding R&D to defeat IED detonations. Its at least factually informative and ends with this quote from Rep. Taylor who lambasted Myers and Rumsfeld last month over this issue. Rumsfeld blew off Taylor's friendly iniquiries and requests for action on this last November. Then in February 05 Taylor's national guardsmen from Mississippi lost 3 guys in 12 days and never even saw a jammer which might have saved their lives. He is particularly critical of the slow response to this problem now that the conflict has gone on for roughly 2 years. ""We went through this with body armor. We went through this with the Humvees," Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) said during the March 10 hearing. "What I'm asking is that we make the same sort of commitment on jammers so that the next units aren't rotated into theater without having properly trained with this.""

Apartment being searched in Mosul. Posted by Hello

Marines used bricks to lay out a schematic map and plan for attacking Fallujah. Nov. 2004 Posted by Hello

Remembering Lori Piestewa: A soldier, a sister, a friend

Remembering Lori Piestewa: A soldier, a sister, a friend: Here is another article in a series of good ones from the Arizona Republic covering wounded and killed in action from Arizona.

This article is about the dedication of a mountain in honor of Piestewa of the Hopi Tribe. It has several video links to it including one on the life of Piestewa and a dedication speech by Jessica Lynch. These two soldiers had their name batted about and misused by the media and the Pentagon, but I was always impressed by the integrity and respectfulness Lynch showed under difficult circumstances and also the Piestewa family.

I note these two sentences from the article which tells many things about them.

"The two were among a group of soldiers who were killed or captured early in the war in Iraq. Piestewa, a single mother of two and member of the Hopi Tribe, was the first female American Indian service member to be killed in combat. She was 23.

Lynch, of West Virginia, was wounded and held as a prisoner of war. Her rescue from an Iraqi hospital made broadcasts worldwide. Later, Lynch wrote a book about her ordeal and with the proceeds created a foundation to help Piestewa's children."

Albany armor program continues to grow

Here is a local news article about the marine's new humvee armoring program being activated at the Albany, Georgia Maintenance Center. Production though is at only 6 per day which is concerning. There is a video link at the bottom of the article showing the plant in action which is interesting.

Father and son, PFC Phelps. Faces of the Fallen. March 2005 Posted by Hello

Jessica Lynch with daughter of KIA Piestewa in Arizona at dedication of a mountain in Piestewa's honor. March 2005 Posted by Hello

March 2005. RPG hit this armored humvee just above the door. Injuries, no fatalities. Unit was able to counter attack. This would have been a fatal hit had this humvee not had amor. Posted by Hello

Assassination ban 'no shield' for al-Qaida - (United Press International)

This article is interesting in both its timing and specificity regarding the assassination ban. Oddly the ban remains in effect, but then it gets into all kinds of nuance about the definition of assassination. The net result is that the policy makers have their cake and eat it too but the operators in the field have no direction or certainty of protection if they do their job.

Can they kill someone via treachery or not?

One of the obvious conclusions I'm coming to is that the intelligence services broke down because of a lack of courage among bureaucrats and elected leaders first in the Clinton administration and then in the Bush administration.

In this environment of inaction and irresolution, it is not hard to understand how Osama Bin Laden has escaped capture or death. The statement, "dead or alive" shouldn't refer to his death by old age or boredom.

Army Documents Shed Light on CIA 'Ghosting' (washingtonpost.com)

Army Documents Shed Light on CIA 'Ghosting' (washingtonpost.com): "Senior defense officials have described the CIA practice of hiding unregistered detainees at Abu Ghraib prison as ad hoc and unauthorized, but a review of Army documents shows that the agency's 'ghosting' program was systematic and known to three senior intelligence officials in Iraq.

Army and Pentagon investigations have acknowledged a limited amount of ghosting, but more than a dozen documents and investigative statements obtained by The Washington Post show that unregistered CIA detainees were brought to Abu Ghraib several times a week in late 2003, and that they were hidden in a special row of cells. Military police soldiers came up with a rough system to keep track of such detainees with single-digit identification numbers, while others were dropped off unnamed, unannounced and unaccounted for. " ...

Reading further into the document it is evident that this was a systematic process and in at least one instance the ghost was put into that status by the Sec. of Defense himself.

Syria leader threatened Hariri, says UN report - World - Times Online

Syria leader threatened Hariri, says UN report - World - Times Online: "A UN fact-finding team reported yesterday that President Assad of Syria had threatened Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, "with physical harm". But it stopped short of pinning his assassination on Damascus. " ... reading further into the article it appears that the threat actually came from the Syrian President himself.

Watching the Defectors - What happens to North Korean refugees when they make it to the south? By Soyoung�Ho

This is a very interesting story about interviewing defectors from N. Korea. It describes how they move through third countries and how if successful, they are screened and then protected by S. Korean intel agents. Also it describes how cellular phone connections are made into N. Korea via three way calling to cell phones in China which in turn connect to phone users inside N. Korea. This is worth the read.

Insurgents control raided 'Qaeda-Baath' training camp in Iraq

Insurgents control raided 'Qaeda-Baath' training camp in Iraq: "About 30 to 40 fighters were seen at the lakeside training camp attacked by US and Iraqi forces the day before, claiming they had never left, an AFP correspondent who visited the site said."

This is just very strange and seems in direct contradiction to government accounts. One wonders why we aren't re-attacking these insurgents since we evidently know where they are.

Search continues in Wendy's finger case

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP: Search continues in Wendy's finger case: "A woman said she bit into a partial finger served in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant, leading authorities to a fingerprint database Thursday to determine who lost the digit." ... [the search continues and no one is pointing fingers.]

U.S. to offer reservists health insurance

Salon.com News | U.S. to offer reservists health insurance: "The more than 400,000 National Guard and Reserve members who have been mobilized since September 2001 for the war on terror will be offered the choice of military health care coverage for as long as eight years after they return to civilian life, officials said Thursday.

Only those who remain in the drilling reserves after they are demobilized will be eligible, said Thomas Hall, the assistance secretary of defense for reserve affairs. "

Solar-Powered Blimp Could Fly For A Year

Supposedly it can fly at 65,000 feet in a stationary location for a year.

Al Qaeda 'using cash couriers'

Terror networks like Al Qaeda are increasingly resorting to "cash couriers" in an effort to evade new international banking system controls, a top US Treasury official said yesterday. ...

Yemen to extradite 24 �terror� suspects to Saudi Arabia

I suspect this is occurring because of the poor conviction rate against terrorists on trial in Yemen.

Doubts Surface On Iraq Raid Toll (washingtonpost.com)

Doubts Surface On Iraq Raid Toll (washingtonpost.com)So this is pretty confusing. The major battle that got so much publicity showing the strength of the new Iraqi army against insurgents produced no bodies. Further, now US military officials are deferring to the Iraqi Interior Ministry and declining to give specifics other than to say that the truth is somewhere between 11-80 dead insurgents. Last the AFP, interviewed 40 insurgents at the site of the 'battle' the day after the engagement where they obviously still occupy the area. Given the lack of American journalists beyond the Red or Green Zones, I'm becoming very suspect about the actual battle. It would be a shame if the Iraqi government lost its credibility for providing accurate information before it was even formed.

WMD Commission Prepares to Release Report

Yahoo! News - WMD Commission Prepares to Release Report: So the declassified report will be released shortly. I was struck by this quote taken from the end of the article. "Final drafts of the commission's report are being circulated among the intelligence agencies for declassification. Historically, they have tried to use that process to keep secret some of the most embarrassing or critical details of investigative findings. "

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Sundown in Iraq Posted by Hello

Faces of the Fallen. Posted by Hello

Bullet hole in glass Posted by Hello

Operation Truth: After Action Review

This is a 19 page report produced by Operation Truth which is linked on this blog. The report is called After Action Review: The Voice of the Troops Issued on the two-year anniversary of the War in Iraq.

It is a very interesting read outlining what went well and what did not. Many positive things are posted in this report in including the superb performance of enlisted and NCOs, the positive reaction of the Iraqis to Americans and other items. On the negative side are:
- Addressing mental health issues.
- Armor shortages and supply problems and a general review of the lack of preparedness going into the war.
- Problems with the guard and reserves in support, training and personal finances
- Inadequate training ranging from job reassignments to lack of translators.
- Private contractors being paid 3 or more times as much as soldiers guarding them or essentially doing the same jobs.
- Providing assistance to the families and returning troops.
- Flawed intelligence and poor or non-existent pre-war planning.

Among some of the observations that caught my eye:
- Armed Forces now comprise a smaller percentage of the population than at any time in modern history which is increasing the disconnect between the military and the civilian world.
- NCOs and national guardsmen that had other skills in civilian life were sometimes able to apply those skills such as computer programming with great and innovative effect. In other cases, computer programmers and other skill sets were used to guard prisons with negative consequences resulting from a lack of training.
- Much of the report discusses the issue of PTSD. "Do we obey the order to "just live with the PTSD?" ... Most soldiers are advised to deal with it, or feel immense shame if they feel the need for treatment." [page 8]
- The hospitals were totally unprepared for PTSD and there is a belief among the troops that the manpower shortage has resulted in doctors not addressing this issue to keep manpower levels up. There are comments like, "every day I want to be back. Except nearly every night I am back, I see faces of the dead and they haunt me..." [pg. 9]
- There is lots of discussion and agreement about the lack of equipment, supplies of all kinds from ammo to medical supplies and water. Much of the critically short items were supplied by families.
- In 2003 and 2004 modifications of vehicles were prohibited despite IED and ambush consequences of lacking armor. "As the months went on and the threat maintained an elevated level we began to add our own armor (scrap steel), but Commanders were reluctant to make modifications for fear of having difficulties in turning in the equipment when we left." [page 10] See page 11 for items families had to buy and send their soldiers.
- The rotation cycles are hurting employment prospects for reservists and national guardsmen that are called back to Iraq every other year.
- The VA has PTSD specialists in only half their hospitals.
- Page 14 talking about the cost of a lack of training in all manner of things. The key point is that that cost is paid one way or another in a war zone. The cheapest is by training, but that is often overlooked or underfunded so it is paid in blood. "We were not ready for this war, and we're willing to pay huge amounts of top dollar and increase our national deficit to shore up our mistakes." Civilian contractors at 3 times the cost are often used to fillin holes.
- [page 17] had an excellent recommendation which I will quote directly, "We are not doing enough to train the Iraqis. If we mobilized all our USAR Training Divisions (75th, 89th, 91st, etc.) and reinforced them with Active Army TRADOC elements, we can train 300,000 Iraqi Army troops in 12 months. This training would include urban warfare, counterinsurgency, etc. We also need to train Iraqi air force to fly Cobras, Apaches, A-37 Dragonfly, A-10, and AC-130, and transport aircraft/copters for airborne and airmobile operations." To me this makes imminent sense versus staying and extra couple of years and going slow.
- Addressing the unemployment problem in Iraq is key to reducing the insurgency at all levels.

They're Beginning to Fight Back

This is a good editorial comment from Soldiers for the Truth regarding various signs that normal Iraqi's and Iraqi soldiers may be willing and able to fight insurgents.

Mother and child. Mrs. Purtle shown here in Sept 04 is shown with Alma at the Faces of the Fallen in March 05. Posted by Hello

Mrs. Purtle's child was born 3 weeks after her husband was killed in a Bradley by an RPG in Iraq. Oct. 03.  Posted by Hello

Saying it all with a picture. Posted by Hello

Ft. Hood statue Posted by Hello

Mrs. Purtle at Ft. Hood Memorial Sept 2, 2004 Posted by Hello

New military tourniquet could save lives

FORT KNOX, Ky. The Army hopes a new easy-to-use tourniquet will save more lives on the battlefield.

The nylon and plastic device, which uses a one-inch Velcro strip, is being rushed to U-S troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army has ordered 172-thousand of the new tourniquets and will begin distributing them next month.

Currently, soldiers improvise tourniquets to stop bleeding by using gauze bandages and a stick or something similar to twist the bandages tight.

The new tourniquet is a circular band that is slipped onto a limb and cinched like a seat belt and can be applied with just one hand. It has a pencil-size plastic bar already attached to tighten the device.

Brian and Alma Hart at Faces of the Fallen next to pictures of David Bernstein and John Hart, both killed in action, Taza, Iraq. Oct. 18, 2003.  Posted by Hello

Mr. and Mrs. William Sheas with Alma Hart at the Faces of the Fallen opening. Their son is buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery very near John Hart's. She tends the graves of the soldiers from this conflict and is a lovely and thoughtful person. Posted by Hello

Alma Hart next to portraits of Lt. David Bernstein and PFC John Hart at Faces of the Fallen Posted by Hello