Thursday, May 05, 2005

Dong Ha September 1967. I just listened for 4 hours of testimony by marines, army and research groups on their inability to anticipate or address the IED issues in a timely manner. I post this picture from 1967 in case they forgot that gun truck development, a goodly portion of the discussion, is essentially about relearning the hard way what we failed to remember. Convoys get ambushed, support vehicles need armor and weaponry and insurgents aren't stupid. The Pentagon can stammer on about network centric warfare and satellites and so on, but if it can't stop an RPG at 100 yards or an IED from ripping the vehicle occupants legs off, it really isn't much help
 Posted by Hello

Mark O'Brien kicks a ball in rehab. The spirit of these young men is inspiring. It is up to us to make sure that these sacrifices are remembered. These men need jobs and support from employers. I fear a barrier has developed between the occupants at Walter Reed and a greatful country which barely knows they exist. Posted by Hello

Friendly fire event March 25, 2005 Posted by Hello

March 25, 2005 Posted by Hello

House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Armored Humvees and IEDs

Thursday, May 5 - 9:00am - 2118 Rayburn - Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony on the status of Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Armoring Initiatives and improvised explosive device (IED) Jammer Initiatives in Operations Iraqi Freedom.

Here is a link to the Audio to that Hearing.

Pentagon Analyst Charged With Disclosing Military Secrets - New York Times

"WASHINGTON, May 4 - Federal agents arrested a Pentagon analyst on Wednesday, accusing him of illegally disclosing highly classified information about possible attacks on American forces in Iraq to two employees of a pro-Israel lobbying group." ...

[bth: this article is worth the read. This has been developing for months. My concern is that 1) US intel was compromised to Israel with regard to Iraq, Iran and Syria and 2) that friends of Israel in the Pentagon may have skewed incoming intel regarding WMD, Iraq, Iran and Syria to influence the public debate of and decisions regarding American war policy.
A similar scandal broke out between the first and second world war when it was learned that British intelligence lured the US into WWI by planting fake intel linking Germany with Mexico and proposed attacks on the U.S. from the south. Does history repeat itself?]

New York Times > Op-Ed Columnist: Swindler on a Gusher

"The Iraqis have thrown us another curveball.
Ahmad Chalabi - convicted embezzler in Jordan, suspected Iranian spy, double-crosser of America, purveyor of phony war-instigating intelligence - is the new acting Iraqi oil minister.

Is that why we went to war, to put the oily in charge of the oil, to set the swindler who pretended to be Spartacus atop the ultimate gusher?" ...

[bth: its hard to find anything good to say about this guy. He fed us bogus intel about WMD. He is wanted in Jordan for bank fraud. He was arrested for counterfeiting last year. He or his aids may have been passing information to the Iranians. He has the survival skills that are incredible. To put in him charge of oil in Iraq almost guarantees accusations of corruption in coming months.]

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

PFC John D. Hart Killed in Action, Oct. 18, 2003. Purple Heart, Bronze Star. Posted by Hello


bth: It looks like the House and Senate have agreed on $150 Million being added for armored humvees thanks to Senators Kennedy and Bayh. Congrats. Several thousand soldiers will have added protection because of these gentlemen. Incredibly 39 senators voted against this funding two weeks ago, so they would shutter the only armored humvee plant in the country in about a month for lack of orders. Now at least it looks like the plant will run through the summer. Again my thanks the these two senators.

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

Washington, D.C. Yesterday, House and Senate negotiators struck a deal on the $82 billion Iraq supplemental bill and included three of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's measures. Senator Kennedy led the fight in the United States Senate to secure millions of additional dollars for lifesaving humvee armor and held the President accountable on progress being made to train the Iraqi security forces and the impact on our troop levels. ...

The Kennedy -- Bayh humvee amendment will give an additional 150 million dollars on top of the supplemental spending bill for the war in Iraq to ensure that humvee production remains at its maximum level through the fiscal year. Kennedy's troop level amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to provide Congress with an updated assessment of the number of troops we will need in Iraq through the end of 2006 and report every three months on Iraqi security forces. The first report must be provided 60 days after the President signs the bill into law. ...

[bth: best I can tell the O'Gara-Hess plant was to run out of purchase orders and essentially wind down within the month. It simply didn't have more orders from the army or marines even though 11,000 hill billy armored vehicles roam Iraq and several thousand armored humvees were pilfered without replacement from Korea and Kosovo.
The 520 amendment that Bayh-Kennedy got passed two weeks ago was for $213 million. The House had allocated $170 -odd million. Conference committee somehow comes up with $150 MM by what rounding down? At an average transfer price of $215 to $225 K for a fully equipped M1114 armored humvee delivered to Iraq with accessories, we are probably looking at up to 697 vehicles produced at 550 per month, so about 5-6 weeks of additional production before we wind down again. So that must be about mid-July?
Bayh says the army now reports 1 in 5 of the new fully armored humvees in Iraq are in need of replacement or major repair; that doesn't count the older retrofitted vehicles or the thousands of hillbilly or no armored less fortunate ones.
The thought of shutting down this plant after it took almost two years to get it to double shift makes me sick. Its like the lives of the troops in the field are an afterthought unless the Pentagon is embarrassed in the media and forced by shame to address the issues.]

Family of the kidnapped Posted by Hello

Sister of kidnapped Iraqi translator Posted by Hello

Iraq leak puts pressure on Blair

"LONDON, England -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush were determined to topple Saddam Hussein at least nine months before they launched the war in Iraq, according to documents leaked to a British Sunday newspaper."

... The Sunday Times printed what it said were secret minutes of a top-level cabinet meeting held in July 2002 to discuss Iraq, nine months before the invasion. According to the minutes, Blair spoke to his cabinet explicitly in terms of toppling Saddam.

"If the political context were right, people would support regime change," Blair is recorded as saying. "The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the case for war was "thin" because "Saddam was not threatening his neighbors and his WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

Straw proposed giving Saddam an ultimatum to allow in U.N. weapons inspectors, provoking a confrontation that would "help with the legal justification for the use of force."

Britain's spy chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, fresh from a trip to Washington, had concluded that war was "inevitable" because "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action", and "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Blair ordered his chief of defence staff, Sir Michael Boyce, to present him with war plans later that week, the minutes said. ...

Syria signals change in policy toward Iraq

"ISTANBUL, Turkey - Syria announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Iraq more than two decades after ties were severed, boosting regional hopes for securing borders and signaling a willingness to change its policy toward the violence-torn country. ...

"Syrian-Iraqi relations deteriorated after Syria sided with Iran in the 1980 Iraqi-Iranian war, and diplomatic relations were severed in 1982. Since then, Syria became home for anti-Saddam dissidents. Several years before the fall of Saddam, economic and trade relations between Iraq and Syria dramatically improved, including resumption of cross-border trade and flow of oil, even though there were no embassies in both countries....

Saudis creating agency to fight terrorism financing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is expected to set up a long-awaited financial intelligence agency by the end of this summer as part of efforts to fight terrorism financing, an official familiar with Saudi planning said on Tuesday.

U.S. officials say the creation of a financial intelligence unit -- which collects, analyzes and exchanges financial information to help fight money laundering and terrorism financing -- is a key step to show a state is committed to curbing dirty money. ... - Pakistan�seizes top terror suspect - May 4, 2005

"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Abu Farraj al-Libbi, a senior al Qaeda suspect wanted in two attempts to assassinate President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has been arrested in Pakistan, the government said Wednesday.

Al-Libbi, a native of Libya with a $1 million bounty on his head, was arrested earlier this week, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told The Associated Press.

'This is a very important day for us,' Ahmed said. He would provide no details on where al-Libbi was captured, or where he is being held.

Officials said earlier Wednesday that they were questioning two foreigners on suspicion of links with al Qaeda"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Redacting Reality -- Photos of the Fallen via FOIA

After years of pushing for expanded secrecy, last week the Pentagon was forced to release hundreds of photographs of fallen American soldiers in flag-draped coffins. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by University of Delaware Professor and former CNN reporter Ralph Begleiter in October 2004, the Pentagon made public more than 700 images of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, taken by military photographers between 2001 and 2004. ... [worth the read]

U.S. military widening use of tourniquets

Army, Marines to make tools standard equipment; Data indicates they save lives; 172,000 on way to Iraq, Afghanistan, maker says

[bth: here is an excellent article by Robert Little. His articles in March 05 got immediate action from the Army which had been delaying deployment despite adament recommendations from medical officers on this matter for almost two years. Someone in procurement debated about what kind of pouch to put the tourniquets in and so these weren't supposed to go out until 06. In the meantime the marines had issued tourniquets to all its marines in Iraq back in 2003 along with blood clotting agents. This is the simplest and cheapest way of preventing unnecessary combat death so far as I can tell. Soldiers reading this blog from Iraq should contact their procurement officers about getting these items now.]

By Robert Little
Sun National StaffMay 2, 2005

As the Pentagon begins a hurried effort to distribute modern tourniquets to every soldier and Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army and the Marine Corps also have decided to make the simple medical tools standard equipment for more than 1 million service members throughout the world.

The move comes as new data from the two war zones show that modern tourniquets are saving lives in combat - and that soldiers without them have died, perhaps unnecessarily.

About 38,000 nylon-and-plastic tourniquets should be arriving at a staging area in Qatar this month, the first of 172,000 being rushed to the war zone, according to the device's manufacturer. A new first-aid kit containing a tourniquet also will be expedited later this year to every unit preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, and then to the entire Army, according to medical officials in the service. The Marine Corps, meanwhile, expects to order more than 200,000 tourniquets, replacing an older model carried by Marines that has proven ineffective.

Emphasis on the $20 medical tool comes more than two years after a committee of military surgeons and medical experts urged the armed services to distribute tourniquets widely and to promote them as a first course of treatment in combat. And it follows a March 6 report in The Sun detailing cases in which doctors questioned whether soldiers might have lived had they been equipped with tourniquets.

Value becoming clear Military medical officials say the value of modern tourniquets, with built-in ratchets for tightening around an arm or leg, is only beginning to become clear. Data collected from Iraq have not been compiled into a meaningful body of information, they say.

But a glimpse at portions of that data suggests that some of the 1,270 Americans killed in combat since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began might have lived if the military's emphasis on tourniquets had come sooner.

Maj. Alec C. Beekley, who served as a staff surgeon with the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad last year, identified 174 patients there in 2004 whose injuries benefited - or could have benefited - from tourniquets. And as the year progressed and modern tourniquets became increasingly common, he said, it became clear the devices were saving lives." [bth: so this one Major counted for over 13.7% of all KIAs that could have been saved with incomplete data.]

It was my experience that if they came in with an extremity wound and they had a tourniquet on, they had a fighting chance," said Beekley, stressing that his data offered only a snapshot and could not be considered typical, absent more information from other hospitals.

"If they didn't have a tourniquet, or they had a tourniquet that wasn't effective, they died."Beekley, who now serves as a trauma specialist at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., recalled the cases of two soldiers who might have benefited if proper tourniquets had been used - one who arrived at the hospital with makeshift tourniquets that failed, and another with a double amputation and no tourniquets. Both soldiers died.

"I don't know what other injuries they might have had, so I can't say whether a good tourniquet would have made the difference," Beekley said. "But soldiers who came in with tourniquets on, even if they were hard to resuscitate, they generally were able to survive."Military medical specialists say the new tourniquet distribution campaign has created another challenge: persuading service members to use them. Many soldiers in the combat zones, even as they receive shipments of new tourniquets with instructions to carry them on their uniforms, have been trained for years that tourniquets are dangerous, often lead to amputation and should only be used as a last resort.

Guidelines change The Army has since changed its guidelines for tourniquet use. Now it tells soldiers to use them quickly and liberally to control bleeding on the battlefield. And it tells soldiers to use the modern, ready-made tourniquets rather than improvising with a belt or scarf, an age-old technique that has proven impractical and sometimes fatal in modern combat.

A new Basic Combat Training program on tourniquet use was implemented this month. Division surgeons are being sent a training package to distribute throughout their units.And the Army also is scrambling to make sure its new outlook on tourniquet use spreads throughout Iraq and Afghanistan as fast as the devices themselves."

We even have doctors out there who've been trained that the tourniquet is the absolute last course of treatment," said Maj. Jeffrey Cain, a doctor who works at the Army's school for combat medics at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. "We have to change that quickly."

The confusion runs to the very top of the service. After The Sun's report in March, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey sent the newspaper a letter noting that every soldier carries "an individual pressure dressing that doubles as a tourniquet."

Yet military surgeons have published papers for more than two years saying that standard-issue dressings do not make effective tourniquets, and the Ace-like "Israeli bandage" carried by some soldiers failed a tourniquet test at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research several years ago.

The Army's Institute of Surgical Research conducted a test of nine tourniquets last year, all of them commercially made specifically to stop bleeding from extremity wounds, and found that only three worked reliably."

This research is absolutely critical to our deployed soldiers, because having an ineffective tourniquet is just as bad as not having one at all," Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army surgeon general, said in testimony before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

Army Rangers and other special operations troops have carried modern tourniquets for several years, a response to the lessons learned in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, where several Rangers bled to death.

A committee of surgeons and medical specialists throughout the armed services issued a report in February 2003 calling for every American soldier in combat to carry a tourniquet, and in December 2003 that report was published as a chapter in a book sanctioned by the American College of Surgeons to train trauma specialists.

In July 2004 the Army's Institute of Surgical Research issued its own recommendation that every soldier in the Army carry a modern tourniquet, and the U.S. Central Command issued a directive in January saying every soldier deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan should carry one.

Despite those directives, compliance was left to individual units, and tourniquets have only now been designated a standard-issue item by the Army.

The number of tourniquets in the war zones has increased the past two years, but many of the roughly 170,000 soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan do not have one.First Lt. Jeremy B. Hyldahl, medical supply officer for the Army's 1st Infantry Division, estimates he bought about 80,000 tourniquets from a North Carolina manufacturer during a recent one-year tour in Iraq, and says he was hounded by Navy, Air Force and civilian units once word spread that he could procure the devices.

He also estimates that more than half of those tourniquets are no longer in Iraq, having been carried home by people rotating out of the combat zone.Kiley told the congressional committee last month that 112,697 of the Army's approved tourniquets had been shipped to Iraq before the latest delivery effort began. He did not speculate how many are still there, but he said any shortages will soon be resolved.

"Every soldier in Iraq will have a tourniquet by the end of June or sooner," Kiley told a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. "And every soldier in the Army will receive a tourniquet as part of their new first aid kit, beginning this fall."
Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

Monday, May 02, 2005

A dirt devil outside Mosul. July 29, 2004 Posted by Hello

A long walk. Posted by Hello - Army Misses Recruiting Goal for Third Month

"WASHINGTON - The Army missed its recruiting goal in April, marking the third consecutive monthly shortfall.

Army spokesman Paul Boyce (search) said officials believe that increases in the number of recruiters, as well as new advertising and publicity efforts, will produce a surge in recruiting this summer so that the Army can meet its full-year goal of 80,000 recruits by Sept. 30.

As of April 30 the Army had achieved only 85 percent of its target for the first five months of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1...."

Iraqi oil pipeline fires. Note the infrastructure attacks are in Iraq and not in the other arab oil producing countries. Attacks in Saudi Arabia are against expats and not infrastructure. Posted by Hello

Iraq, April 2005. Oil pipeline sabotaged. Posted by Hello

Burning pipeline to refinery outside Beijire, Iraq. Posted by Hello

Odyssey of an Al Qaeda Operative

"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- In the post-Sept. 11 world, Karim Mejjati was the perfect undercover al Qaeda operative. The former medical student from Morocco could speak several languages, had many passports and excelled at building bombs. He was also good at avoiding attention as he crisscrossed four continents to organize a wave of catastrophic attacks.

On May 12, 2003, an al Qaeda network that investigators say was put together by Mejjati in Saudi Arabia blew up three residential compounds for foreign workers in Riyadh, leaving 23 dead. Less than a week later, about 3,000 miles away, suicide bombers trained by Mejjati carried out the deadliest terrorist attacks in Moroccan history, killing 45 people in Casablanca."

For the next two years, authorities in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America pressed a secret but intensive global manhunt for the French-schooled suspect, fearing that he had set up other al Qaeda sleeper cells that had yet to be activated. ...

[bth-he reportedly was killed in Saudi Arabia last month as this story later reports. Then he was reported not in the group of dead which this story does not say. Is he alive or dead? It is unclear. It is however evident that he was well educated and from a cosmopolitan (not poor) family, well traveled and a key person in organizing terrorist attacks in Europe and the Middle East. This seems to contradict the self-organizing terror cell theory and move more toward coordinated actions. He report(ed) directly to Osama Bin Laden.]

Qatar buys off Al-Qaeda attacks with oil millions - Sunday Times - Times Online

"THE government of Qatar is paying millions of pounds a year to Al-Qaeda in return for an undertaking to spare it from further terrorist attacks, official sources in the wealthy Gulf state claimed last week.

The money, paid to spiritual leaders sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, is believed to be helping to fund its activities in Iraq. In a recent message broadcast via the internet, Osama Bin Laden told followers that operations in Iraq were costing Al-Qaeda more than [UK pounds] 500,000 a month.

The sources said a deal between Qatar and Al-Qaeda was first made before the 2003 invasion of Iraq amid fears that the oil state, a close ally of Washington, could become a terrorist target. The US Central Command for the invasion was based in Qatar.

A senior government source said that the agreement was renewed in March after an Egyptian suicide bomber - thought to be associated with Al-Qaeda - struck a theatre in Doha, Qatar's capital, killing a British teacher during a performance of Twelfth Night.

"We're not sure that the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda, but we ratified our agreement just to be on the safe side,"said a Qatari official. "We are a soft target and prefer to pay to secure our national and economical interests. We are not the only ones doing so."...

Al-Qaeda would not be the first terrorist organisation to take protection money in the Arab world. During the 1970s and 1980s Arab rulers paid extremist groups such as the Abu Nidal organisation.

The financial pressures on Al-Qaeda would be a great incentive for it to offer protection to anybody willing to pay....

But it may not be advisable to be too complacent. Al-Qaeda was widely believed at one time to have an unwritten pact with Saudi Arabia. If so, the deal lasted only until it suited the organisation to renege.

[bth: It should be noted that no oil pipelines, wells or refining infrastructure has been attacked by al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia since 9-11.]

Pakistani troops gear up to fight Al-Qaida, others

"Americans have been training Pakistanis in night flying and airborne assault tactics to combat foreign and local fighters in the tribal areas of Pakistan near the Afghan border, the U.S. commander here, Lt. Gen. David Barno, said this week."...

The comments came as the Pakistani army is gearing up to go into what is considered one of the last redoubts of Al-Qaida and foreign fighters, the tribal area of North Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan. Last year the Pakistani military moved against foreign militants in South Waziristan, killing some 300 fighters and losing about the same number of their own soldiers.

The remnants of the foreign and local militants made their way into North Waziristan. According to some reports, Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, may also be in the region....
He predicted that the Taliban would suffer a major schism in coming months and expected many, including some senior commanders, to join a government reconciliation program and give up their insurgency, leaving only a small hard core still fighting.

Part of that core, a network loyal to the former Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, is in North Waziristan and continues to attack U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan, the general said.

"They are still working to some degree at the behest of Al-Qaida and are financed by Al-Qaida to run operations here to disrupt activities here in Afghanistan," he said, "and they operate on both sides of the border." Foreign fighters were among them, he added, and some Arabs who were largely in the background providing money.

The fighters have shown an ability to adapt and have shifted to new areas, using the winter to regroup, reorganize and re-equip, and were conducting some training "very quietly," the general said.

"If you were to look back five years ago, you would see large training camps and a large footprint," he said. "And now it's more very, very small groups -- of three or four or five. They spend a short time getting some training here and then maybe move to get some training somewhere else.

"It's very difficult to be able to pinpoint this activity even going on, much less to get and find it, disrupt it and capture or kill these guys."

A coordinated string of attacks along the border on March 22, the day Afghan President Hamid Karzai was making a state visit to Pakistan, was a sign that the insurgents were capable of a large operation.

Barno said he had seen fighters who were well equipped, with rations and with weapons and radios in good condition.

"There's clearly a flow of funding that comes through the Al-Qaida network," he said. "It probably ebbs and flows a bit, but there's funding out there."

[bth: I think we need to target the financiers with physical harm.]

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Saddam era mass grave unearthed near Mari, south of Baghdad on May 1, 2005 Posted by Hello

Look at the extensive damage to this fully armored humvee. The size of the explosion must have been incredible to cause this much damage. Posted by Hello

May 1 2005 car bomb destroyed humvee. Posted by Hello

Approaching storm in Iraq Posted by Hello

U.S. Sees Drop in Terrorist Threats

"Reports of credible terrorist threats against the United States are at their lowest level since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to U.S. intelligence officials and federal and state law enforcement authorities.

The intelligence community's daily threat assessment, developed after the terrorist attacks to keep policymakers informed, currently lists, on average, 25 to 50 percent fewer threats against domestic targets than it typically did over the past two years, said one senior counterterrorism official. ..."

[bth: this appears to be good news.]