Saturday, April 23, 2005


American manufacturing might remains untapped though we send soldiers to war with what we've got year after year after year. Posted by Hello

For God and Country Posted by Hello

Doing all you can brother? Posted by Hello

Islamists Dominate Saudi Arabia Elections

"JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Candidates on a so-called 'golden list' backed by conservative Muslim clerics swept the final stage of Saudi Arabia's landmark municipal elections, according to results announced Saturday"

... Many of the losing candidates alleged the names of certain candidates were circulated on what was dubbed the "golden list" chosen by fundamentalist clerics — a move they said violated an electoral law forbidding the forming of coalitions. The winners also unfairly claimed they had religious backing, the disgruntled candidates said.

Many of the losing candidates alleged the names of certain candidates were circulated on what was dubbed the "golden list" chosen by fundamentalist clerics — a move they said violated an electoral law forbidding the forming of coalitions. The winners also unfairly claimed they had religious backing, the disgruntled candidates said. ...

The seven winning candidates in Jiddah all appeared on the so-called "golden list." In Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, seven candidates endorsed by the clergy also won. Five of the six winners in Buraydah, capital of ultraconservative Qaseem province, had been given a clerical nod, and Islamists in the holy city of Medina had a strong showing.

The New York Times Op-Ed: War Isn't Fought in the Headlines

"JUST a couple weeks ago, politicians and pundits were pointing to the sudden reduction in the number of assaults on coalition forces in Iraq and speculating about the collapse of the insurgency. After all, attacks had decreased to fewer than 40 a day from a high of 140 a day just before the Iraqi presidential election in January. On April 10, Pentagon spokesmen began whispering to reporters about plans for an early withdrawal of American forces.

In contrast, the last week's papers have been full of reports about the increased sophistication of insurgent attacks on Americans, the growing violence against Iraqi civilians, and the audacity of an operation in which perhaps 150 people were reported to have been taken hostage in the town of Madaen. Now those same policy makers and pundits are warning that the insurgency is making a comeback.

In fact, neither proposition is true. The insurgency was not collapsing then and it is not resurgent now. Insurgencies are very long struggles - in modern military history they have lasted on average 10 to 15 years, and many - Palestine, Sri Lanka and Vietnam - have gone more than a quarter-century.

It is folly to predict long-term trends based on a few weeks of rebel activities. The only way a counterinsurgency can truly be successful is to establish effective, fair government that is accepted by the people - and that takes time.

Thus the real measure of progress is the success of the Iraqis themselves in establishing a government and repairing the roads, schools, hospitals and oil facilities that will help get the country back on its feet. Obviously, the critical step of that process will be providing security for Iraqi citizens, in particular those who serve or openly support the government"

Thus any decision on the drawing down of American forces should be tied not to the number of attacks against Americans but to the level of the security enjoyed by the Iraqis.

The recent actions of the insurgents show they understand this. ... Unfortunately, the two key factors that will indicate how the counterinsurgency is going - the effectiveness of the Iraqi government and the performance of its security forces - reflect mixed results to date. ...

Yet, despite the daily bloodshed and intense intimidation, Iraqi civil servants still come to work in huge numbers. This is especially heartening considering how poorly the Iraqis feel the Americans handled security in the early stages. ...

Yet the soldiers of the Iraqi force not only continued to serve, but today they are also taking on more and more of the responsibility for protecting their own citizens. ...

Yet there is more the United States can do, quickly and easily, to help them. While we have given most military units the weapons they need, there are some notable shortages. First are translators. Many United States units charged with helping the Iraqis coordinate their security efforts have only a few people, either Iraqi or American, who are fluent in both Arabic and English. These units and their Iraqi colleagues are largely fighting blind.

A second area of concern is equipment. For example, we wisely insist that American personnel travel in armored Humvees with effective radios when they leave our compounds, yet most Iraqi Security Force members (and the American advisers assigned to help them) are still riding in open pickup trucks and sedans with neither two-way radios nor cellphones. This double standard does little for Iraqi troop morale.


In the end, of course, the most important thing we can offer the Iraqis is our patience. The bottom line is that counterinsurgencies take time. ...

So while Americans can be heartened by the reduction in attacks on coalition forces, it is relatively worthless as an indicator of success. The effectiveness of the Iraqi government in allowing average Iraqis to go about their lives is key. And Washington is correctly, if belatedly, making that its aim.

Thomas X. Hammes, a Marine colonel, is the author of "The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century."

Commander Seeks Alternate Uses for ICBMs (washingtonpost.com)

"The commander of the Air Force Space Command denied yesterday that his 500 nuclear-armed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles are mere 'Cold War icons' and said he is preparing alternative uses for the ICBMs, including arming them with conventional warheads to attack surface or deeply buried targets. " ...

He said that over the next several months, he will brief Defense Department senior officials on alternative uses for the land-based ICBM force that would include missile defense missions, the ability to make precision strikes anywhere in the world in less than an hour and war-fighting missions in space. ...

Boeing Gets First Small Diameter Bomb Order - Yahoo! News

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co. on Friday received the first U.S. Air Force order for a production batch of the Small Diameter Bomb, which exploded into the news this year because of a challenge from Lockheed Martin Corp. "

Under an $18.5 million contract announced by the Defense Department, Boeing said it would produce 201 of the winged 250-pound bombs that may be released 60 miles from their targets. ...

Runner Posted by Hello

General: Insurgents in Iraq planning attacks

"A retired Army general just back from a fact-finding trip to Iraq has warned the U.S.-led multinational coalition that insurgents may be planning spectacular large-scale attacks to slow the momentum of recent military and political gains there.

The insurgency is viable and resilient and has the capacity to achieve significant surprise, Gen. John Keane told The Hill this week. We can expect more attacks. They have the capacity to plan a coherent operation for large-scale effect."

... the insurgents “know the political and psychological momentum is shifting” on the heels of the successful Jan. 30 nationwide elections.

“They are going to try to change that momentum. The way they do that is to increase the scale and magnitude of their attacks and maybe their target as well, which would undermine the Iraqi people’s confidence in the policies of the government and the coalition.”...

Keane said the number of insurgent attacks, which averages between 40 and 50 a day throughout the country, “has gone down to what they were about a year ago, but the fact is that the insurgents still have the capacity to maintain a level of attacks, which creates a non-permissive environment.”

He added, “The worst thing we could do, now that we have truly achieved some success and momentum appears to be on our side, would be to rush to get out of the country at a time when the Iraqi security forces are not ready for that level of responsibility.”

Keane noted that the length of typical counterinsurgency wars in the 20th century “has been about 12 years. But we’re already beginning to see some success in Iraq after only two years. ...”

Telegraph 24 al-Qa'eda suspects in court as mass trial opens in Spain

"The first mass trial of suspected conspirators in the September 11 attacks and supporters of al-Qa'eda's operations in Europe opened in Madrid yesterday, as 24 defendants were brought before a purpose-built court on the outskirts of the city ringed by Spanish security forces...."

[bth: I wonder if this links in with Osama Bin Laden's purported new threats toward Europe?]

Burning US tanker truck Posted by Hello

Car Bomb Blast Posted by Hello

Senate approves $592 million for embassy in Iraq - PittsburghLIVE.com

."U.S. Senate on Wednesday agreed to spend $592 million for a new embassy in Iraq, setting up a showdown with the House of Representatives over the cost of the project.... "

Horror Glimpsed From the Inside of A Humvee in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

"LATIFIYAH, Iraq -- Sgt. Joshua Haycox steered our Humvee forward at a slow march, carefully keeping his distance from the vehicle ahead and scanning the road for bombs as the Army convoy pushed deeper into the chaotic region known to soldiers as the Triangle of Death.

The largely ungoverned swath of farmland and villages south of Baghdad is cluttered with old munitions factories and compounds of elite Iraqi army units that formed Saddam Hussein's military-industrial base. Today, these backlands are also called the 'throat of Baghdad' by the military, because a paucity of U.S. and Iraqi forces here has allowed insurgents to take root and stage attacks on the capital."

"Hey, see that town on your left? That's a real bad place," said Col. H.R. McMaster of Philadelphia, commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "Keep a sharp lookout," he told his men as the convoy approached the dusty, seemingly deserted outpost of Mullafayad.

Within seconds, a powerful blast ripped into the Humvee a few yards ahead of us, shooting a cloud of debris high into the air ....

SITE Institute: Announcement of Upcoming Voice Message from Usama bin Laden Ending the Truce with Europe

"An unauthenticated message posted today, April 21, 2005, on an al-Qaeda affiliated message board alleges an upcoming audio message from Usama bin Ladun using 'bin Laden's or [Ayman] al-Zawahiri voice that will call the end of the truce he suggested to the European countries to withdraw their forces from Iraq.

An audio message purportedly from bin Laden issued April 14, 2004 offered a truce, or reconciliation initiative, with Europe in a a commitment to stop operations against any state which vows to stop attacking Muslims or interfere in their affairs. The truce was to be agreed upon three months following the issuance of the audio message.

Members of this message board expressed disbelief towards the announcement and requested verification."

USATODAY.com - Senate approves extra Humvee spending

USATODAY.com - Senate approves extra Humvee spending: "WASHINGTON � The Senate on Thursday approved spending an extra $213 million to buy more fully armored Humvees, a week after a government watchdog criticized the Pentagon's pace in providing the vehicles to forces in Iraq."

[bth: see extensive discussion below.]

Sunset Posted by Hello

Afghan Boy Leads Coalition Forces to Weapons, Drug Cache

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, April 22, 2005 An Afghan boy whose father received treatment from a visiting U.S. military medical team last week turned a cache of ammunition and drugs over to coalition forces April 21.

The boy led Afghan National Army and coalition forces to a house in a village 10 kilometers away from Ghazni. The ANA approached the house's owner, who claimed he had no weapons inside. Afghan and coalition forces searched the dwelling and discovered a cache of 13 rocket-propelled grenades, a Russian-manufactured machine gun, a mortar round, several improvised-explosive-device components, plastic explosives, numerous rounds of ammunition and two bags of opium.

In addition to the munitions and drugs, a number of documents pertaining to Taliban operations were recovered. ...

Afghans account for more than 50 percent of all munitions turned into coalition forces and for more than 90 percent of all improvised explosive devices discovered, officials said. ... "

A son's late-night call from Iraq

"Again, the phone connection between our Oceanside house and my son's cell phone in Iraq was crystal clear.

The phone rang at 3 a.m. My wife picked it up, going from a sound sleep, to excited mother talking to her son who, as an infantryman, remains in harm's way daily.

After she ascertained that he was OK and getting enough to eat, Evan told her: ' 'Mom, I want you to meet (Mel ---- not his real name). He's a good Iraqi soldier who was fighting Hussein long before we got here ... he's an interpreter who works with us ... here, talk to him.' '

As I listened to the conversation with Mel, my wife's voice changed tone, becoming more emotional than usual as she grabbed for a tissue. They chatted for a few minutes before Evan returned to the phone, saying he and Mel had to go on a mission." ... [nice story]

USATODAY.com - Security costs drain funds for water projects in Iraq

"BAGHDAD As summer marches into this dusty desert country, few things become more important than a tall, cool drink of water."

But the country's supply of clean water is being seriously threatened, because of shrinking funds from the United States and an outdated water treatment and sewage system...

After Saddam's regime fell in 2003, public works bureaucrats were given their own ministry, and the United States pledged $3.65 billion toward it, Misconi says. But as the insurgency intensified, all but $1 billion was diverted to security and other vital needs.

"Without security, insurgents jeopardize investments in strategic sectors such as water and sanitation, oil, and electricity, as contractors are unable to implement or maintain projects," says Theresa Rachael Shope, spokeswoman with the U.S.-funded Iraq Reconstruction Management Office.

Without the funds, water projects have dried up. Last year, 15 water treatment projects were launched across Iraq. This year, none is planned, Misconi says.

"We're grateful to our donors," he says. "But they've done a lot less than expected." ...



Mine-hunters of Iraq slowly clear Saddam's legacy

...The mountains and plains of Iraqi Kurdistan compete with Afghanistan for the title of the most mine-ridden country in the world. By one calculation, there are four or five mines for every one of the four million Kurds in northern Iraq ...

"... Mr Zangana says that if professional mine-clearers do not remove the mines the villagers do it themselves. 'They are good at it but out of every 2,000 mines in a field they find only 1,900.'

In Penjwin, doctors say things are improving, and every month they get only two or three villagers whose feet or legs have been blown off; before, they used to have to treat scores of them."

A mobilized nation in WWII, yet now less than 0.4% of the population is in the military. We can't get but a couple thousand armored humvees a year and then we let the plant stop running to save few bucks. God Bless America. Posted by Hello

Fight'in Fool Posted by Hello

More stuff. That's the ticket. Posted by Hello

LAST CALL FOR ARMORED HUMVEES

Who in their right mind would vote to stop the production of armored humvees, to lay off workers at the only plant that makes them? Who would turn off the production while leaving tens of thousand of soldiers to drive hill billy armored humvees before the enemy's improvised explosive devices, car bombs and rocket propelled grenades?

The odds are 39% that it was your senator. That's right.


A simple measure to keep the production of armored humvees at two shift capacity for a couple of extra months this summer passed by only a 22 vote margin; 61 to 39 in the Senate this week.

If you care about the troops, you'd better pay attention because things are horribly wrong.

With $81 billion in "emergency" supplemental spending this year for Iraq and Afghanistan, one assumes (incorrectly) that armored humvees would be at the top of the list since around 400 of the 1500 fatalities were killed in them; a tally that increases daily. One might assume military spending on a solution would be a priority in Washington but it isn't.

Haven't you heard? The problem is solved. That's what the Army says. So instead the Emergency Supplemental funds for the war pay to move a police station to make way for a baseball stadium in Washington DC, it funds a ship terminal in Pennsylvania, it funds a large library in Hawaii, a fish hatchery elsewhere, a states' rights fight over islands off Alabama, and the list goes on.

So along comes little Amendment 520 sponsored by Sen. Bayh of Indiana and Sen. Kennedy: a small amount of money for a big matter. The amendment asks for $213 million to be added to the measure keep the only armored humvee production plant running at a two shift capacity this summer instead of shutting it down and laying off workers for lack of orders from the Army. As Tom Squitieri of USA TODAY noted,


"The extra money will keep an armored Humvee production line running at full capacity until July 31. Without the money, production would drop from 550 this month to 239 in June, zero in July, 40 in August and 71 in September."

This seems straight forward enough, but the Army claims it doesn't need more armored humvees. To the troops driving hillbilly armor in Iraq, this may come as news. As the USA TODAY article continues, "Earlier this month, the Army said it was 855 vehicles short of reaching its goal of having 8,105 factory-armored Humvees in the military theater that includes Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army argued that it met that goal but counted armored Humvees based in the United States and elsewhere."


Senator Inouye of Hawaii, who added in $10 million for a library in Hawaii to the emergency supplemental read this letter to the Senate.

"DEAR SENATOR INOUYE: Greatly appreciate your outstanding support as you work your way through the FY05 supplemental request. Understand you are receiving several inquiries regarding Up-Armored HMMWVs (UAH). To lend clarity to Army requirements for the UAH in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), we provide the following information.

The current GWOT requirement for UAH is 10,079. The amount already appropriated and supported in reprogramming actions funds 4,528 UAHs in FY05 enabling the Army to meet the 10,079 requirement in June 05 with no additional funding.

We currently are producing at the manufacturer's maximum capacity of 550 per month. This will continue through June 05, at which time production rates will decline. To sustain production at the maximum capacity through the end of FY05, the Army would need additional funding of approximately $213 million; however, this sum is not necessary to address the extant requirement.

Thank you very much for your hard work and fast action on the supplemental bill. Your dedication to our men and women in uniform, and their families, is deeply valued.

Sincerely,

David F. Melcher,

Lieutenant General,

U.S. Army, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8.

James J. Lovelace,


Lieutenant General,

U.S. Army, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3."


So the Army says they don't need more armored humvees, yet around 11,000 vehicles are running around Iraq with hillbilly armor. Incredibly other generals testified in recent hearings and the GAO just released a scathing critique of the Army's procurement process. It waits until the need can be discussed in the past tense before issuing a purchase order and the very same generals testified that the retrofit kits used on the majority of vehicles are no longer a match to the strengthened IEDs used by insurgents. This is the same army that just last week, released a report saying that one in five fully armored humvees in Iraq were in need of major repair or replacement. And those are the newer and the best humvees we've got! It didn't count the older 1980s vehicles.

As Sen. Kennedy pointed out on the floor of the Senate, it only took us two full years to get to this level of production. "We have been told for months that the shortage of up-armored Humvees was a thing of the past and the Army has enough to ensure that every Humvee that left a protected base in Iraq would be an up-armored Humvee or a Humvee with an add-on kit. This month, the GAO released a report that clearly identifies the struggle ... It took a year and a half for the United States of America to move from 50 a month to 400 a month; a year and a half. ... in World War II, we were producing a victory ship a day, over 350,000 planes a year, this country. A victory ship a day we wereproducing, 350,000 planes a year, and it took us a year and a half to move from 50 to 400 a month. This wasn't given a priority. Of the 35 young Americans from Massachusetts who have been killed, a third of them have been killed from attacks on Humvees.


[Page: S3969]  GPO's PDF

The great majority of those, the veterans say, could have survived if they had had the protected Humvees."

Sen. Bayh adds, " It is rare that this body votes on a matter that will affect the life and limbs of soldiers fighting as we speak in a theater of war. Now is such a time. As my colleague, Senator Kennedy, mentioned, the Army has chronically underestimated the need for uparmored vehicles in the Iraqi theater. Nine consecutive times they have gotten it wrong. We now have a letter saying that finally they have gotten it right.


[Page: S4086]  GPO's PDF

Walter Reed Army Hospital and the other military hospitals of this Nation are filled with the young men and women who have paid the price for these errors. When will we err on the side of doing more rather than less to protect the troops? Now is that time. ... The troops know what is going on. The press knows what is going on. Apparently the House of Representatives knows what is going on. It is time that the Senate took a stand as well to do something about this, to give the troops the protection they need. Rummaging through the garbage--that is an outrage. Here is our chance to bring it to a stop. I ask my colleagues for their support."

Imagine, at this point in time, not anticipating a need for more vehicles and recognizing the obvious need to keep the plant going. But that is what was at stake and frankly things didn't look good. Sen. McCain with a few others finally tipped the losing debate to produce a victory: A 61 to 39 vote resulted in favor of inclusion of this basic soldiers' requirement to the $81 billion which includes all kinds of pork and even $500 million for a new embassy.


How did you Senator Vote?


Alabama:
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay

Alaska:
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Stevens (R-AK), Nay

Arizona:
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Yea

Arkansas:
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea

California:
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea

Colorado:
Allard (R-CO), Nay
Salazar (D-CO), Yea

Connecticut:
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea

Delaware:
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea

Florida:
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea

Georgia:
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Nay

Hawaii:
Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Nay

Idaho:
Craig (R-ID), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay

Illinois:
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea

Indiana:
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea

Iowa:
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Harkin (D-IA), Yea

Kansas:
Brownback (R-KS), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Nay

Kentucky:
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
McConnell (R-KY), Nay

Louisiana:
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Nay

Maine:
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea

Maryland:
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Sarbanes (D-MD), Yea

Massachusetts:
Kennedy (D-MA), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea

Michigan:
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea

Minnesota:
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Dayton (D-MN), Yea

Mississippi:
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Lott (R-MS), Yea

Missouri:
Bond (R-MO), Nay
Talent (R-MO), Yea

Montana:
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Burns (R-MT), Yea

Nebraska:
Hagel (R-NE), Nay
Nelson (D-NE), Yea

Nevada:
Ensign (R-NV), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Yea

New Hampshire:
Gregg (R-NH), Nay
Sununu (R-NH), Nay

New Jersey:
Corzine (D-NJ), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea

New Mexico:
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Nay

New York:
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea

North Carolina:
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Dole (R-NC), Nay

North Dakota:
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea

Ohio:
DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay

Oklahoma:
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay

Oregon:
Smith (R-OR), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Pennsylvania:
Santorum (R-PA), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea

Rhode Island:
Chafee (R-RI), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea

South Carolina:
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Graham (R-SC), Nay

South Dakota:
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Yea

Tennessee:
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Frist (R-TN), Nay

Texas:
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea

Utah:
Bennett (R-UT), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Nay

Vermont:
Jeffords (I-VT), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea

Virginia:
Allen (R-VA), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Nay

Washington:
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea

West Virginia:
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea

Wisconsin:
Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea

Wyoming:
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Thomas (R-WY), Nay

As I review the list I am struck that:

  • Only Sen. Lott among 4 senators from Alabama and Mississippi voted for the bill though some of them added amendments to the supplemental expanding state sovereignty to offshore islands which had nothing to do with national defense.
  • I see Sen. Inouye voting no for humvees, yes for his library.
  • I see Sen. Stevens from Alaska, the king of pork, voting against humvees.
  • I see Sen. Cornyn of Texas voting against the soldiers with his Nay vote for Amendment 520. Members of my family personally lobbied his office and Sen. Hutchison's (voted for) over armored humvees. Sen. Cornyn should be ashamed. I hope the troops at Ft. Hood take notice.
  • I see Sen. McCain voting For without whom this amendment probably wouldn't have passed.
  • I see both Illinois senators voting in favor. Their state's national guard units took extraordinary casualties last year for lack of equipment.
  • I see New Hampshire's senators voting no and am amazed at their narrowly defined self interest. I thought they were better than this.
  • Vermont voted for the amendment. Vermont has the highest casualty rate per capita of any state in the Union.
  • I see Sen. Reed of Rhode Island who was one of the first to become aware of the problem and promote its cause voting in favor.
  • I see Sen. Warner voting Nay. He knows better. He is Chairman of the Sen. Armed Services Committee and buried Capt. Teal the same day we buried our son, both killed in poorly protected vehicles.
  • I see Sen. Frist of Tennessee voting against the interests of his own national guardmen. He could meddle in the life and death of a husband and wife in Florida this month but doesn't feel the need for more armor for his national guard. The soldier that asked Rumsfeld the December question about digging in a landfill was from Tennessee.
  • I see both senators from Kentucky doing the same and yet their own guard unit made the news just last week over this very issue.
  • I see Sen. Bond of Missouri voting no, yet his own constituents were raising charity money to armor vehicles a little over a year ago.
  • I see both Oklahoma senators voting no. One stood up and gave a rousing speech about keeping the defense supplemental focused on defense spending. Well it doesn't get any clearer than this amendment, yet Coburn votes no.
  • These Nay voters should be strapped to a humvee and driven in convoy. Better yet tied to a humvee and stoned by angry National Guard wives. But that won't happen, this stuff doesn't make the news.

I want to thank Sen. Bayh and Sen. Kennedy without whom so many troops would be without protection. One wonders what the leadership of the Defense Department and the Administration are thinking on such a fundamental issue.


Do Something About This.


If you care about what is going on here you should be outraged. Do something. Let your Senator know how you feel about their vote. They will tell you that they voted for the final appropriation which included the amendment so they voted nay then yes. It's like that Kerry campaign commercial in reverse. The point is we've got to let them know we watch and care to prevent this from happening again.

The television media isn't going to do it for us. The TV media thinks the American public is apathetic, ignorant, and just doesn't care. I told Fox and CNN about the fact that the plant was running out of orders back in December. My wife and I were on Fox and CNN after Rumsfeld's town meeting comments and the Army Sec. told the media that production was going to 550 per month in March 05 instead of 450 as planned. What he didn't say and we caught was that there were no new orders placed, just a shift of May orders forward a month to make headlines. CNN told us they would not pursue the story further. They say Americans don't like stories with numbers. A Fox producer told us that military families didn't want to hear unhappy news and that unless Ollie North or Geraldo took an interest they wouldn't pursue it further as a network. In December as we sat on a small couch waiting to go on the air on Fox, Alma and I overheard the technical crew in the other room commenting, "humvees, that story is so last week." That sums it up, unless your life or someone you love is one the line.

Money is going to continue to be diverted from the war effort to pork projects. Concerned senators will have to continue fighting for scraps of critical funding amidst a sea of pork as long as soldiers in the field,their families and the media remain apathetic and willingly deceived about this situation. Senators must know you care and are watching. Families must care enough to face possible criticism for being outspoken in their quest to protect our troops (their sons and daughters). If we don't do it, who will?

After our son was killed in Iraq and the day he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Mike Barnicle wrote a column about the poor armament conditions that resulted in his death. He said, "Party politics end at the gates of Arlington National Cemetery." It is up to us to live those words. I no longer have patience for the families that blindly follow a call to war without reflection. I no longer respect the silence that fear brings to those who know better and do nothing.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Destroyed convoy vehicles. April 20 Posted by Hello

Convoy attacked April 20, 2005 Posted by Hello

Violence is 'off the chart' in area on Iraq border - USA Today

Fascinating read about what may be the next Fallujah.

"HUSAYBAH, Iraq — Uprooting the criminal gangs that control this violent border town and defeating a small but well-trained insurgent force here may be left to new Iraqi security forces when they begin moving into the western desert this year, Marine Maj. John Reed says.

Until Iraqi forces can be deployed to this remote outpost, a small contingent of Marines is focused on stopping foreign religious warriors, or jihadis, from entering Iraq, and rounding up insurgents that launch attacks here. ...

"We're facing a well-developed, mature insurgency with the support of the local population" of about 100,000 townspeople, Reed says. "There is no Iraqi security force here. They are not effective. There are no police. They are dead or doing something else."

In stark contrast to the inroads multinational forces have made in such hot spots as Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul, Marines in Husaybah have been forced to hunker down in defensive positions. Their base, Camp Gannon, is named for Capt. Rick Gannon who died April 17, 2004, while leading an effort to rescue two sniper squads trapped on a rooftop in the city. Five Marines died that day in a fight against about 100 insurgents.

Unable for safety reasons to patrol the city on foot and in vehicles, troops are limited in their ability to gain important street-level intelligence. So the Marines primarily mount counterattacks on insurgents and criminals who fire into the camp. Last week, the Marines averted disaster when three car bombers backed by 30 insurgents assaulted the camp.

Marine Lt. Col. Tim Mundy, commander of the Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, who oversees Husaybah from his base in Al-Qaim, about 10 miles away, says he believes many insurgents recently pushed out of Fallujah and Ramadi by coalition forces regrouped here even as foreign fighters continued to flow in from Syria. ...

Violence became routine here last fall after U.S. financial aid to the area dried up in anticipation of Iraq's provisional government taking over the local administration. That still hasn't happened.
In October, U.S. forces closed a border gate to constrict the flow into Iraq of foreign jihadis. But with trade shut down, merchants began to convert their shops into bombmaking studios, Reed says.

Insurgents hired local youths to set the bombs and mines and fire on U.S. troops, and they terrorized families to get them to cooperate, he says. "When they go into a house, decapitate the men, rape the women and disappear with a few children, I guarantee you the rest are doing what they're told," Reed says.

New Iraqi security forces might help stabilize the situation when they are trained and arrive in the late summer or fall, Reed says. He adds, "If we go it alone, we will have a flash point like Fallujah. We're near that point now."

Reed says he has doubts about this border town's future.

"When the multinational force leaves, maybe the insurgency does," he says. "I don't think so. I think it has a higher goal: to make the new Iraq fail. What the future here is, it's kill them all. It really is. Or make them run somewhere else."

Guardian | Pakistani army chief rebukes Americans

"Cross-border tensions in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida militants erupted into the open yesterday as Pakistan's frontline commander issued a stinging rebuke to the top US general in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General Safdar Hussain, who leads 70,000 troops in the lawless tribal belt, described as 'highly irresponsible' comments by Lieutenant General David Barno that Pakistan was about to launch an anti-terrorist operation.

'He should not have made that statement. It was a figment of his imagination. There is no bloody operation going on until we have the right intelligence,' he told the Guardian at his headquarters in Peshawar.

Osama bin Laden was definitely not in his area of control, he added.

The rift underscored Pakistani sensitivities about its military cooperation with the US, which is unpopular across the country and particularly among the conservative northern Pashtun tribes.
'I don't want to give the nation the impression that Barno can come down here and dictate the operation,' he said. ..."

[bth: the article goes on to describe a cross border incident where an Afghan soldier was killed by Paki troops. It denies there is a CIA listening post in the area and says that 8 tribes have not signed a cooperation agreement of some sort. An interesting read.]

New Videos from Zarqawi/Al-Qaida in Iraq -- Counter Terrorism Blog

Al-Qaida's Committee in Iraq--led by wanted Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi--has released the following video footage since April 16 of artillery
launches, roadside bombs, and suicide car bombings on U.S. military forces
stationed in Iraq. In at least one suicide bombing, the "martyr" was identified
as Abu Shaheed al-Lubnani, indicating that he was a foreign fighter from
Lebanon.

Click to view video c/o
Globalterroralert.com


- Apr. 16 video of bombing attack on U.S. convoy in Mosul

- Apr. 16 video of suicide bombing at a "CIA base" in Tikrit

- Apr. 18 video of mortar attack on U.S. forces in Baqubah

-Apr. 18 video of suicide bomber Abu Shaheed al-Lubnani

- Apr. 18 video of rocket attack on U.S. base in Taji


Here is a current photo of British troops responding to a bombing near Basra. Note that the vehicle may have some ballistic glass, but does not look like it has been meaningfully hardened for a strong IED. Posted by Hello

Telegraph - British troops will not escape, says Zarqawi

"Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted terrorist, has ordered his followers to target British soldiers in the south of the country and warned Britain it 'will not escape Iraq without punishment'.

His threat came as the continued potency of the insurgency was confirmed by a series of brutal attacks against targets including Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister. ..."

The best boxer shorts you'll ever own

The link to this post is to Intel-Dump and an excellent article its has prepared regarding the development of innovative kevlar shorts to protect the abdomen and other vitals of humvee gunners exposed to shrapnel and bullets from the turret of these vehicles.

The article also explains in plain detail why the procurement system currently used by the DOD will prevent this important development from reaching the troops in a timely manner.

This is at the heart of the problem for many items including ammo, armor kits for humvees and trucks, armored humvees, IED jammers and more.

Without real leadership among civilians in the DoD problems like this simply will repeat themselves time and time again.

Kevlar shorts for humvee gunners. Posted by Hello

AP: Oil-For-Food Investigators Resign

AP: Oil-For-Food Investigators Resign: "Two senior investigators with the committee probing corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program have resigned in protest, saying they believe a report that cleared Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion operation was too soft on the secretary-general, a panel member confirmed Wednesday.

The investigators felt the Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, played down findings critical of Annan when it released an interim report in late March related to his son, said Mark Pieth, one of three leaders of the committee. ..."

Reports reveal Zarqawi nuclear threat - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - April 20, 2005

"Recurrent intelligence reports say al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi has obtained a nuclear device or is preparing a radiological explosive -- or dirty bomb -- for an attack, according to U.S. officials, who also say analysts are unable to gauge the reliability of the information's sources.

The classified reports have been distributed to U.S. intelligence agencies for several consecutive months and say Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, has stored the nuclear device or dirty bomb in Afghanistan, said officials familiar with the intelligence. ..."

Guiding China's missiles

"While Europe's embargo on arms sales to China seems set to remain in place, Western defense experts warn that Beijing will score a military victory when Chinese companies begin research next month on the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation system.
."

... Analysts who study the People's Liberation Army say that the skill China would gain from participating in the system's development would allow it to close an information gap that now gives the United States the advantage in the precise targeting of missiles and "smart weapons." The system would also allow Chinese military leaders to greatly improve their command and control of forces in the field.
.
China's acquisition of the Galileo system is seen by these analysts as a major setback to U.S. efforts to limit China's access to advanced military technology.

In their latest defense white paper, published in 2004, Chinese military planners make it clear that the use of advanced information technology is a top priority in efforts to make the army a modern force.
.
"Access to secure navigation satellite signals is absolutely essential to the PLA realizing its vision," ...

N. Korea arsenal may be growing -- USATODAY.com

"NEW YORK North Korea has shut down its nuclear reactor and plans to remove the fuel to make bombs and "increase our deterrent" against a possible U.S. attack, North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations Han Songryol said in an interview Monday.

If North Korea carries out the threat, it would mark the second time in two years that it has removed fuel rods from its reactor in Yongbyon to make bomb material. The reclusive nation claims it has nuclear weapons, and the CIA has estimated it possesses from two to eight; reprocessing this reactor fuel could give it an additional six. ..."

[bth: there may not be a way to negotiate with this country. But one thing is painfully evident. Our current approach of not negotiating with them has failed to prevent another 2 to 8 nuclear weapons from being created by N. Korea. One wonders when they will sell one to Iran or Saudi Arabia for cash.]

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cincinnati CityBeat : 09/08/2004 : Queen City Terror Cincinatti's links to the Oklahoma City Bombing

Cincinnati CityBeat : 09/08/2004 : Queen City Terror:

"There's something either poetic or frightening about Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Kenny of Cincinnati serving on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The 1991 Oak Hills High School graduate is an admitted bank robbery conspirator, founding member of an Aryan hate group and associate of the late Timothy McVeigh.

How Kenny got into the Army in spite of his criminal history -- and his white supremacist tattoos -- is something of a puzzle. So is his promotion just months after the Army convicted him on morals charges involving an 11-year-old girl.

But what really distinguishes Kenny is his alleged relationship with the man who killed 168 people by blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. ..."

Give'm both barrels. Isn't it curious that we haven't seen a single poster like this in this war? Posted by Hello

US Truck destroyed by IED Posted by Hello

April 14, 2005 near Kirkuk. Burning US tanker truck destroyed by IED in convoy Posted by Hello

Men at work in a different era Posted by Hello

Destroyed unarmored humvee Posted by Hello

KENNEDY FIGHTS FOR HUMVEE ARMOR FOR OUR SOLDIERS SERVING IN IRAQ

It is my honor to post these comments made by Senator Kennedy on the Senate floor today regarding his co-sponsorship for additional funds for up-armored humvees and ballistic armor. It is little known, but Senator Kennedy's early suppport of a grass roots effort on these issues by families of soldiers in harms way like our own, caused funding to be directed to this critical problem.

It was not the Administration I am ashamed to say that pressed this issue. Instead it was covered up or dismissed. It was not from a State of the Union Address made by Bush saying that we must get the troops the equipment they need. Those were words without deeds or funding. They did not get the job done. Hundreds have died unnecessarily as a result.

Despite repeated assurances from generals, Army Secretaries, Defense Secretaries and Presidents that production was at capacity, funded and running 24x7, I can categorically tell you that the production of armored humvees, retrofit kits with armor for humvees or trucks and electronic jammers to defend against IEDs have never been and to this day, are not, being produced at a sustained full-capacity level.

Senator Kennedy and Senator Bayh have slugged it out in chambers to make sure that the DOD Emergency Supplementals actually get critically needed supplies to the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is what this is all about after all.

Whether you are for the war in Iraq or against it misses the main point. Our troops are depending on us to get them what they need. A polished press release from the Pentagon will not stop a bullet. Armor and funding for armor will. We must redouble our efforts until the job is done and the troops are home.

On behalf of the thousands of military families, of national guardsmen deployed and reservists exposed to unnecessary danger in poorly armored equipment, I want to thank you for your concern and actions on this measure.

Sincerely,
Brian & Alma Hart


April 20, 2005

KENNEDY FIGHTS FOR HUMVEE ARMOR FOR OUR SOLDIERS SERVING IN IRAQ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Laura Capps/Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633

Mr. President, I'm delighted join my colleague, Senator Bayh, in sponsoring this amendment, which increases funding for the procurement of Humvees for the Army.

The Senate is currently debating an appropriations bill that would provide $81 billion, primarily for our ongoing war effort in Iraq. This funding will bring the total U.S. bill for the war in Iraq to $192 billion and still counting.

All of us support our troops. We obviously want to do all we can to see that they have proper equipment, vehicles, and everything else they need to protect their lives and carry out their missions. It's scandalous that the Administration has kept sending them into battle in Iraq without proper equipment.

No soldier should be sent into battle unprotected, but that is exactly what happened in Iraq. As recently as last December 2004, soldiers were still digging through landfills to find metal plating to attach to their vehicles for protection. Their "hillbilly" armor, they call it. It has also been well documented that parents went in desperation to the local Wal-Mart to buy armored plates and mail them to their sons and daughters serving in Iraq. That is totally incomprehensible for our soldiers.

More than 400 troops have already died in military vehicles vulnerable to roadside bombs, grenades, and other so-called improvised explosive devices.

Our amendment will provide an additional $460 million to buy Up-Armored Humvees and Add-On Armor kits for Humvees for the Army. As we all know, the Humvee is a highly mobile, four-wheel drive vehicle. The Up-Armored Humvee is a version with bullet resistant windows and steel-plate armor on the doors and underside to protect against rifle rounds and explosive blasts. It has additional armor for the turret gunner on the roof to protect against artillery, and a powerful air conditioning system.

Add-on armor kits are mounted on existing Humvees to give almost as much protection.
According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article two weeks ago, the Army says all of its 35,000 vehicles in Iraq now have some sort of armor. But a third of them are protected with nothing more than crudely cut sheets of steel, which are inadequate by the Army's own standards, according to figures released Friday.

The largest threats for vehicles are improvised explosive devices, rocket propelled grenades, small arms rifle fire and land mines. Humvees and other military vehicles have become the target of choice for insurgents. Shrapnel from a roadside bomb, or even a simple AK-47 rifle round, can slice through an unprotected Humvee - some of them have little more than vinyl fabric for their roofs and doors. Our troops in unprotected Humvees in Iraq would be safer riding in SUVs.

According to the Center for Army Lessons Learned, the harm to both personnel and equipment from improvised explosive devices is greatly reduced when traveling in an up-armored Humvee.

It's taken far too long to solve this problem. We have to make sure we solve it now, once and for all. We can't keep throwing money at it and hope it goes away.

The delay in correcting the problem has cost the lives of many brave young men and women, killed in combat because they were in an un-armored vehicle.

On July 20, 2003, Sgt. Justin Garvey, a Massachusetts casualty, was with the 101st Airborne division and was killed in Mosul when his unarmored Humvee was hit by a rocket propelled grenade while on patrol.

Just a few months later, on September 1, 2003, Staff Sgt. Joseph Camara and Sgt. Charles Caldwell, Massachusetts natives with the Rhode Island National Guard were killed north of Baghdad when their unarmored Humvee struck a mine.

On October 18, 2003, PFC John Hart of Bedford, Massachusetts, was killed in Taza in Iraq, when his unarmored Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. I attended his burial at Arlington National Cemetery on November 4, 2003.

Just last week, a Kentucky National Guard soldier died when shrapnel came through the window of his vehicle. A comrade says James A. Sherrill, 27, could have been saved if antiballistic glass had been installed.

The saddest part of this story is that the Army could have, and should have, moved much more quickly to correct the problem. As retired General Paul Kern, who headed the Army Materiel Command until last November, said, "….It took too long to materialize." He said, "In retrospect, if I had it to do all over, I would have just started building up-armored Humvees. The most efficient way would have been to build a single production line and feed everything into it."
In a letter to me, dated October 20, 2003, General Abizaid, CENTCOM Commander, said, "The FY 2004 Supplemental Request will permit the services to rapidly resolve many of the equipment issues you mentioned to include the procurement of ... Humvees."

In February 2004, General Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the Army, testified at an Armed Services Committee hearing that "the army never intended to up-armor every Humvee -- never until this kind of situation that we have today.…We have taken armored units, artillery units, all kinds of other units and put them into Humvees as motorized formations, which never existed before. And so this is an area where you cannot fix it overnight."

On December 8, 2004, during a town hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in Kuwait, a young soldier alerted the American public to the issue of armor shortages when he asked:

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?"

After applause from the troops, Rumsfeld replied:

"It's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

He later remarked in the same town hall meeting, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up."

We have been told for months that the shortage of Up-Armored Humvees was a thing of the past and that the Army has enough to ensure that every Humvee that left a protected base in Iraq would be an Up-armored Humvee or a Humvee with an add-on kit.

Just this month, the GAO released a report that clearly identifies the struggles the Army has faced. In August 2003, only fifty-one Up-Armored Humvees were being produced a month. It took the industrial base a year and a half to work up to making 400 a month. Now the Army says they can now get delivery of 550 a month. The question is, why did it take so long? Why did we go to war without the proper equipment? We can't let this happen again.

It's obvious that the Department has no solution to protect our troops. Secretary of the Army Brownlee told the Armed Services Committee in October 2003 that "with the up-armored Humvee, it is more of a challenge. If we go strictly with that up-armored Humvee, it could be as late as the summer of '05 before we would have them all." Since it is now Spring '05, it looks like he was right.

According to the GAO report, there are two primary causes for the shortage of up-armored vehicles and add-on-armor kits. First, a decision was made to ramp-up production gradually rather than use the maximum available capacity. Second, funding allocations did not keep up with rapidly increasing requirements. Obviously, the Pentagon was still being influenced by its cakewalk mentality.

The GAO report specifically states that Pentagon decision-makers set the rate at which both up-armored Humvees and armor kits would be produced, and did not tell Congress about the total available production capacity. GAO was unable to determine what criteria were used to set the pace of production. In both cases, additional production capacity was available, particularly for the kits.

The funding issue was part of the problem. Funds were available to support the planned pace of production of up-armored Humvees, but GAO found that four program managers were not aware of the time frame for releasing funds. Although the Army received over $1.4 billion between fiscal years 2003 and 2004 to produce 7,502 vehicles, it was not released in a timely and predictable manner. In August 2003, the managers received requirements for 1,407 vehicles, but had received funding to produce less than half of that number.

By October 2003, program managers had a requirement to produce 3,279 vehicles, but once again received funding to produce less than half of that. Significant differences continued until April 2004, when requirements reached 4,454 vehicles and the program managers received funding to produce 4,320 vehicles.

The major short-term solution to the up-armored Humvee funding issue has been the additional funds from Congressional increases. Parents and spouses of fallen service members contacted members of Congress to demand attention to the problem.

For fiscal years 2003 and 2004, the Army received over $1.4 billion to produce 7,502 up-armored Humvees to meet worldwide requirements, including 8,105 vehicles required for CENTCOM's area of operation.

In fiscal year 2004, the Army received more than a billion dollars to produce up-armored Humvees. Compared to the Bush Administration's budget request for a paltry $51 Million, the parents and spouses had made an enormous impact. To meet continuing needs for force protection, Congress recommended $865 million in the 2005 appropriations bill to be used by the Army for armor for additional Humvees and other vehicles. As part of the Rapid Response Force Protection Initiative, Congress intends the funds to be used for a variety of vehicles to respond rapidly to the threat of improvised explosive devices and mortar attacks against our forces.

These are short-term fixes. Amazingly, the GAO found that Army officials have still not made long-term efforts to improve the availability of up-armored Humvees or add-on-armor kits.
We need to get ahead of this problem. The requirements for uparmored Humvees keep changing. By August 2003, commanders wanted more armored Humvees. The goal went to 1,200, then 1,400. Because those requests were relatively modest, the Army chose to simply bring armored Humvees from bases around the world instead of stepping up the production line. The total amount has grown substantially since then. A year ago, the total request was just over 8,000. On Friday, the Army pushed the total past 10,000 -- almost ten times the original number requested less than two years ago.

Gary J. Motsek, director of support operations for the Army Materiel Command in Fort Belvoir, Va., said "I'm going to get in trouble, but the real challenge is, there had always been an assumption, quite frankly, that the requirements would continue to tail off." Obviously since we are still losing an average of more than one soldier a day since the Iraqi elections in January, those assumptions are clearly wrong.

It's a tragedy that our soldiers are still paying the price for this delay. In 2003, when it came time to mass-produce up-armored Humvees, the Army had only a single source to turn to. It had little interest in this work before Iraq, and did not shop for others. Pentagon acquisition chief Michael Wynne testified to Congress a year ago, "It's a sad story to report to you, but had we known then what we know now, we would probably have gotten another source involved. Every day, our soldiers are killed or wounded in Iraq by IEDs, RPGs, small-arms fire. Too many of these attacks are on Humvees that are not up-armored,… We are directing that all measures to provide protection to our soldiers be placed on a top priority, most highly urgent, 24/7 basis."

But 24/7 didn't happen even then until January this year, the plant had capacity that the Army never consistently used, as the plant's general manager has said.

In November 2003, I asked Secretary Brownlee about armor delays, noting that three Massachusetts soldiers had died in unarmored Humvees, "Are they running their plant 24 hours?"

Secretary Brownlee said the plant in Ohio was running at "maximum capacity."

But it wasn't. Army documents show that monthly armor production at the plant fell after that - from about 55 to 45 Humvees a month, in December 2003.

The plant took its usual week off at Christmas and the armoring plant took two four-day weekends. Owners say they could have built more -- if the Army had ordered more.

In early 2004, members of Congress toured the plant and found that its ballistic glass operation was operating on just one shift.

Now we have an opportunity to end this frustration once and for all. Our soldiers in Iraq deserve the very best and it is our job to make sure the Department of Defense is finally getting it right. Too many soldiers have died because of these needless delays, but hopefully, this will be solved by what we do in this bill today.

The Bayh-Kennedy amendment contributes significantly to this goal, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
###

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Porking Out at Troops' Expense -- SantaMariaTimes.com Op-Ed

"President Bush asked Congress nearly three months ago to approve an $82-million emergency spending bill to help finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Somehow, lawmakers became confused about the meaning of the word 'emergency.'

The House quickly passed its version of the bill but, almost 90 days after the president's request for quick action, the Senate is dawdling along, with senators cutting some of the administration's funding requests while opening what one citizens' tax group refers to as a 'Pandora's Box for pork.'

Meanwhile, U.S. troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan are still in need of required body armor, and many of their patrol vehicles lack sufficient plating to help prevent potentially fatal damage from roadside bombs.

And while our troops await funding from the 'emergency' spending bill, senators are piling on the pork.

There is, for example, the $5 million Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., wants to complete a fish hatchery in his home state - a project on which the federal government has already spent $20 million.

Nevada Democrat Harry Reid thinks an oral history project at the University of Reno is in need of $500,000 in 'emergency' funding.

Even one of California's lawmakers is getting in on the act. Dianne Feinstein wants $34.3 million put in the bill to help repair winter storm damage in Southern California's national forests.

All of those projects may have merit - but not packed into legislation that is intended to help U.S. troops stay alive in combat zones.

And the Senate's transgressions will only make things more difficult when a bill is finally approved and put side-by-side with the House bill, because House members will only want to amend their version to pile on their own pork request. House officials admit that the foot-dragging, pork-loading tactics of the Senate have already pushed House members to begin preparing amendments to benefit their own pet projects.

When questioned about the pork, one senator's aide said nothing is being done "to harm U.S. soldiers on the front lines." That may be true, but holding an emergency military funding request hostage isn't doing anything to help our troops.

Too many lawmakers seem focused on bringing home the bacon to their own states, when they should put emphasis on getting our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, friends and loved ones in uniform home safely. "

[bth: By putting pork into an emergency request, it bypasses the normal budget limits and reports on year over year spending. This is how Rumsfeld negotiated the budget to a 4% increase, but such things as food and payroll, were pushed into emergency appropriations to hide it from the normal budget cycle. Congress is just getting into the act. I wish congressmen and senators were more interested in bringing our troops home than bringing home the bacon.]

Holes in the Armor -- OpEd from Toledo Blade

"The U.S. military has occupied Iraq for two years now, but many of its 150,000 troops still haven't been provided with all the proper equipment they need to do their job. This inexcusable state of affairs contradicts promises made by President Bush and Pentagon officials after news reports that inadequate planning in the run-up to the war had forced soldiers to scrounge for scrap metal to protect humvees and trucks from roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.

The bottom line is that our fighting men and women remain unnecessarily vulnerable to insurgent attacks. That those attacks reportedly have slowed in recent weeks is cold comfort to those in the war zone.

Reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who documented this scandalous situation, found that military personnel still are resorting to Dumpster diving for metal plate to armor some vehicles.

In a separate report, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, said that 'systematic deficiencies' in the military supply chain resulted in shortages of not only vehicle armor but protective vests for troops, batteries, tires, generators, and even packaged meals.

As of March, the GAO said, the Army had put in place some protection for all 35,000 of its vehicles in Iraq. But 11,700 of them were retrofitted only with sheets of steel, too flimsy to meet military specifications for protection.

A Pentagon spokesman said that steps already have been taken 'to eliminate these deficiencies,' but there is little reason to believe the brass hats now.

That's what they said six months ago."

Wartime first aid gets dose of reality - Newhouse News

WASHINGTON -- Pinned down under enemy fire with an injured buddy -- his leg blown off, his face a mass of blood -- a soldier first should squeeze in behind the wounded man, allowing the man's body to absorb the incoming bullets, then yank a tourniquet onto the bleeding stump. When there is a lull in the firing, he should drag his buddy to cover, jam a rubber tube down his nose and turn him on his side so he won't choke.

That's the new first-aid curriculum being taught to all the Army's basic recruits, a sobering but realistic new requirement the Army thinks could save about 10 percent of the soldiers who now die in battle.

In two years in Iraq, the most common causes of death among the 1,179 combat fatalities have been bleeding from arms or legs that have been smashed or explosively amputated, and bleeding or choking from serious facial wounds. Improved body armor, now worn by all deployed U.S. troops, helps protect soldiers' torsos from the gunshot wounds that were the primary causes of death in past conflicts, Army medical officers said.

The new training, and a new first-aid kit the Army will distribute, are the first improvements in basic Army combat medicine since the Korean War. Today, most soldiers still carry a 1950s-style pressure bandage issued in a compass pouch, and tourniquets that require a nearby stick to crank tight -- a non-issue accessory not readily available in the desert.

"You can't help a guy breathe or treat somebody whose leg is blown off with that stuff," said Donald Parsons, a retired Special Forces medic who is a senior official in the Army's combat medic training program at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

'You can't wait for a medic'

The new first-aid kit containing a breathing tube and the improved combat tourniquet will be ready for distribution to troops in October, according to Army Col. John Norwood, a senior acquisition executive. Soldiers being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan will get first priority for the new kits, the Army said.

The military has achieved significant advances in combat medical evacuation and care at forward surgical hospitals. But the first minutes after a soldier is wounded are the most critical -- and until now, the most neglected.

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan often operate out beyond the immediate reach of combat medics. In a design that dates to the Cold War, when large units were trained to fight in formation, one Army medic is commonly assigned per infantry platoon of 40 to 60 men. But platoons often split into squads, which operate independently on patrol or in guarding convoys.
"The nearest combat medic may be 30 minutes away, but if you have a partial amputation you have about 10 minutes to stop the bleeding," said Col. Greg Jolissaint, the Army's top medical trainer. "You can't wait for the medic to show up."

And yet, he added, "the No. 1 reason we are losing soldiers on the battlefield is they are bleeding to death."

Better prepared

Until the new training began this month, Army recruits were taught a laborious step-by-step process to determine the extent of a soldier's wounds. Now, trainees are instructed to focus only on bleeding and choking problems. The newly designed tourniquet comes with a metal rod to torque it tight.

The new first-aid kit also holds a rubber tube which "you insert in what's left of his nose that opens the airway to the back of the throat, allowing him to breathe on his own," Jolissaint said.
Most important, he said, "We are teaching them to do all this while they are taking fire on the battlefield: Your foot patrol is under attack, your buddy has gone down, you are taking rounds, what do you do? The first thing is not to become a casualty yourself."

Each of the Army's 80,000 recruits will get the training this year, practicing on realistic manikins and on fellow soldiers writhing in agony from faked wounds.

With simple actions to control bleeding and clear the breathing passage of wounded soldiers, "we can probably save 10 percent of the people who've been dying on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq," Jolissaint said.

In a separate effort, the Army has trained tens of thousands of soldiers in basic trauma medicine, teaching them how to give injections and treat sucking chest wounds, skills that go well beyond the new training for recruits. The intent is to have every second soldier trained as a "combat life saver" to fill in before a medic arrives.

"I've got 60 combat life savers trained out of 83 soldiers in the company," said Capt. Brian Thornton, who commands an engineer company of the Rhode Island National Guard that is headed to Iraq this summer. "Heck, I'd like to get trained in it myself."

But not every combat life saver gets the well-stocked combat life saver medical kit, Thornton said. Each nine-man squad gets only one.

A larger problem is that in a firefight, soldiers trained as combat life savers are expected to fight, not to stop to treat the wounded.

"His primary focus is a life-taker, not a life-saver," Parsons said. "That's why we are pushing this new training all the way down to the individual soldier."

[bth: I posted the full article here because its important. The basic issuance of tourniquets to all soldiers has been advocated by the army for over two years. An embarrassing series of articles written by Robert Little of the Baltimore Sun two months ago triggered the issuance of tourniquets at last. Perhaps 150 soldiers died in the meantime that could have been saved. Nevertheless, this is an important step. Improved training is also critical and first aid techniques for war time, not civilian first responder situations, is an important distinction as tourniquets are applied more frequently when your being fired at and can't get someone to an ER in 20 minutes. Missing from the equation that still needs to be added are blood clotting agents issued to all marines, but only to medics in the army. If you go to the February and March sections of this blog you will find our earlier articles and efforts to get this issue resolved.]

Iraqi troops at an ancient building near Madain. Posted by Hello

Shi'ites grieve over a destroyed shrine which was sabotaged. Posted by Hello

The Grim Reaper, Riding a Firetruck in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

"HUSAYBAH, Iraq -- Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Butler shook himself from the rubble of a suicide truck bombing. He staggered to the ledge of his three-story guard tower and stared into a cloud of white smoke.

Butler, 21, of Altoona, Pa., was temporarily deafened by the blast, but he recalled what came next with cinematic clarity. The white smoke parted to reveal a clean red fire engine. It sped past a mural bidding travelers 'Goodbye From Free Iraq' and hurtled directly toward Butler, who shot at the fire engine until it exploded about 40 yards away from him. "

This true-life nightmare occurred on Monday last week. The attack on this remote Marine outpost abutting the Syrian border caused only minor injuries, but it signaled a dramatic change in the methods of the insurgents, who have staged mostly guerrilla-style hit-and-run attacks against the U.S. military for two years. ...

[bth: this is a very good and interesting first hand account of multiple suicide attacks on a marine base signifying a change in insurgent tactics.]

US General Hints at Massive Army Operation in N. Waziristan -- Pak. International News

"RAWALPINDI: A tripartite commission comprising senior military and diplomatic representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States agreed here on Monday to further improve coordination and information sharing to enhance the effectiveness of counter-terrorism operations, reports APP. ..."

The parties welcomed the establishment of a counter-narcotics working group, a body in parallel to the tripartite commission, which has been formed to facilitate discussions of officials of the three parties on counter-narcotics issues. ...

Leader of the US army in Afghanistan Lieutenant General David Barno said that after the army operations in South Waziristan a massive operation would be launched in North Waziristan, reports Geo.

"Al-Qaeda is planning a huge attack in the next few months therefore it is necessary that the war against terrorism should be made more effective so that both al-Qaeda and its followers can be eliminated," Barno said.

While talking to newsmen at the residence of the US ambassador in Islamabad General David Barno said that the enemy has not accepted defeat in Afghanistan and we are continuously facing opposition however the support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the Afghan people has decreased to a great extent.

David said that during the last 18 months important successes have been made against terrorists, which also include the operation in S Waziristan. He said that after South Waziristan an operation would be launched in North Waziristan.

"The operation in North Waziristan would be carried out by the Pakistan Army and we would provide logistic support to the Pakistan Army," Barno remarked
. He said it was difficult to trace Osama Bin Laden but we would continue pressurizing the terrorists.

[bth: why are we telegraphing our moves? Hopefully it at least ups the rent Osama Bin Laden is paying someone.]

Telegraph - Taliban launches pirate radio station in Afghanistan

"Afghanistan's ousted Taliban, which banned entertainment and football when in power, has launched a clandestine pirate radio station.

The station broadcasts anti-US and anti-government propaganda as well as Islamic hymns from a mobile transmitter ..."

Militants Losing Ground in Saudi Arabia: Gardner

"IYADH, 19 April 2005 BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, who was seriously wounded in the Kingdom when he was attacked by militants 10 months ago, said insurgency in Saudi Arabia was on the back foot with the Saudi security services gaining in confidence and skill.

Gardner was speaking to the BBC Sunday when he resumed his work after a prolonged period of medical treatment, initially in the Kingdom and then in Britain.

"Since the attack, the Saudi authorities have engaged in numerous shootouts with the militants, killing many of the key figures and uncovering large caches of arms and explosives," he told the BBC. ..."

Monday, April 18, 2005


Beirut. April 2005 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

Defense Tech: SENATORS LARD UP WAR BILL

"It's bad enough that the Pentagon has crammed an $80 billion bill, supposedly meant to cover last-minute contigencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, with all kinds of military pork."

Now, "senators [have] seized a chance to pack pet projects into an unstoppable bill, adding provisions dealing with oil drilling, forest services, a new baseball stadium for Washington and economic assistance to Palestinians," the Times reports.

[bth: Well if you aren't eating or don't have a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan digging through a landfill for some armor or ammo, you might find this interesting. Why is this bill "unstoppable" you ask? Because the DoD pinched the money this fiscal year for other stuff and there isn't enough money to make army payroll this summer. That's why. its in the fine print and links to the article.]

Wired News: U.S. Military's Elite Hacker Crew

"The U.S. military has assembled the world's most formidable hacker posse: a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks -- from electric grids to telephone nets.

The group's existence was revealed during a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month. Military leaders from U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, disclosed the existence of a unit called the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, or JFCCNW."

In simple terms and sans any military jargon, the unit could best be described as the world's most formidable hacker posse. Ever.

The JFCCNW is charged with defending all Department of Defense networks. The unit is also responsible for the highly classified, evolving mission of Computer Network Attack, or as some military personnel refer to it, CNA. ...

Dietz knows a thing or two about information warfare. He led NATO's "I-War" against Serbia in the mid-1990s -- a conflict that many believe was the occasion for the U.S. military to launch its first wave of cyber attacks against an enemy. One story widely reported, but never confirmed, described how a team of military ops was dropped into Serbia, and after cutting a wire leading to a major radar hub, planted a device that emitted phantom targets on Serb radar. [bth: cool] ...

War and Piece on Bolton

War and Piece: "If the fight over John Bolton's UN nomination were just about John Bolton, he'd be history already. But this isn't about Bolton, it's about the exercise of power. Same thing with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. If this was even 5 years ago, he'd be toast. We are at the point now where the Republican Leadership refuses to allow the possibility of a loss on anything, regardless of the merits. This renders "debate" meaningless, since nothing said actually matters, so truth is irrelevant. "Science" depends on faith; everything is a test of power. Oppose something the President wants, and you aren't just wrong, you are betraying the Party. The underlying message is that you are also offending a very particular definition of God. ..."

[bth: this is the first paragraph of a very powerful essay worth reading.]

Here's one just to take your mind off the war. Posted by Hello

Zero calories Posted by Hello