Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bush: Pulling Out of Iraq Not an Option

"WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said Saturday that pulling out of Iraq now is not an option, rejecting calls by some lawmakers and many people asked in polls to start bringing U.S. troops home.

'The terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people,' Bush said in his weekly radio address.
'We will settle for nothing less than victory' over terrorists there, he said later."...

Friday, June 17, 2005

US troops launch big Iraq offensive

"...You can't get all the marines and train them on a single objective, because usually the objective is bigger than you are,' Major Mark Lister, a Marine air officer in Anbar, told the Los Angeles Times last month. 'Basically, we've got all the toys, but not enough boys.'... "

Small But Decisive Victories in Iraq

..."History is full of decisive battles that were unplanned by either side at the onset. Neither Robert E. Lee nor George Meade intended to fight the pivotal battle of the American Civil War at Gettysburg. Neither Imperial Japan nor the United States thought that the island of Guadalcanal would suddenly become pivotal as the two Pacific powers maneuvered toward one another in the summer of 1942.

Never mind the relatively small size of the opposing forces in northwest Iraq: We see the outlines of a 'meeting engagement' that is simply too important to ignore. For better or worse, the crazed jidhadists who would plunge the Middle East back into the 7th Century have decided that this will be the crucial battlefield not only for Iraq but their global war against the West.

Following months of activity elsewhere (dictated by our biggest failure, to field a large enough occupation force), the U.S. military and Iraqi National Guard have stormed into the region. Not only have they routed the insurgents, but our soldiers and their Iraqi counterparts have also found that they have the clear support of the very Iraqis on whom a military victory and political settlement in that country depend: the Sunni minority.

Quit the squalling in Washington, D.C., and read the dispatches from Mosul and Tal Afar: Something big is happening here."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Re-enlistment in Iraq. April 2005 Posted by Hello

Base Offers Course on Insurgents' Bombs

"FT. IRWIN, Calif. - More than 200 military engineers packed grandstands erected on a hill in the heart of this desert combat training center Wednesday to witness the destructive power of the enemy's primary weapon in Iraq: crude bombs built with cellphones and old artillery rounds.

The carefully choreographed demolitions of a 5-ton truck, a sedan and a manikin 'suicide bomber' were intended to spur new approaches for combating the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, as they are known in military parlance. "

The devices are the single biggest cause of coalition deaths in Iraq, and about half of the U.S. military fatalities in Iraq this year were caused by IEDs, officials said.

In a country with huge ordnance caches — and a determined insurgency — such bombs probably will remain a significant threat for years, officials said.

"This is a significant weapon and it poses a major challenge for U.S. forces," said Brig. Gen. Robert W. Cone, Ft. Irwin's commanding officer. "And as soon as we get good at dealing with them, the enemy adapts to our strategies."...

Triggered by cellphones, electronic garage door openers, or wires attached to a car battery, the devices have been hidden along roadsides or concealed inside telephone poles, toys, taxis, trash, soda cans, posters of Osama bin Laden, even dead dogs.

More often than not, military officials said, a trigger man and a cameraman are hiding within 300 yards of each device, waiting for the right moment to attack supply convoys and security patrols....

Military leaders here said they had been making progress. Since April 2004, the number of bomb fatalities has decreased 45%, largely because of increased use of armored vehicles, better medical care and improved methods of finding the devices. The casualty rate from improvised bombs has decreased despite an increase in incidents...


"June 16, 2005: After more than three years of development, an American firm (Ionatron) is shipping, to Iraq, ray guns, for detonating roadside bombs. The million dollar devices, called JIN (Joint IED Neutralizer) use "artificial lightning"to cause the detonators in enemy bombs, especially IEDs (roadside bombs), to go off. The JIN is mounted on a remotely controlled vehicle, as the range of JIN is not sufficient to have troops use it directly. The remotely controlled vehicle gets within JIN range, and then zaps the suspected IED. If it is an explosive device, JINs "directed electrical discharge"will cause the detonator, which is normally set off with an electrical signal, to go off, thus causing the explosives to, well, explode. The JIN and the robot it rides on are expected to survive most of these explosions with little or no damage"...

[bth: I'm must going to step in here and ask the obvious. If the device has such a limited range that it gets caught in the blast when it detonates the IED, why not just drop some plastic explosives on the IED and save the trouble of getting a fancy electronic zapper at $1 million each?]

'Exit Strategy' Is More Than a Whisper in Washington, With Lawmakers Speaking Out

'Exit Strategy' Is More Than a Whisper in Washington, With Lawmakers Speaking Out - New York Times: "WASHINGTON, June 15 - Celeste Zappala, whose son died in Iraq, visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to demand 'a very quick exit strategy.' Her timing was perfect."...

The flurry began over the weekend, when Representative Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, a conservative Republican, called for the Bush administration to set specific goals for leaving Iraq. That came from the man who was once so upset about French opposition to the war that he insisted that House cafeterias change the name "French fries" to "freedom fries." ...

[bth: I greatly respect Rep. Walter Jones of N.C. He's honest and has courage. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end.]

View to a kill from a Gun Truck Posted by Hello

Magnet for Iraq Insurgents Is a Crucial Test of New U.S. Strategy

"TAL AFAR, Iraq, June 15 - Nine months ago the American military laid siege to this city in northwestern Iraq and proclaimed it freed from the grip of insurgents. Last month, the Americans returned in force - to reclaim it once again."

After the battle here in September the military left behind fewer than 500 troops to patrol a region twice the size of Connecticut. With so few troops and the local police force in shambles, insurgents came back and turned Tal Afar, a dusty, agrarian city of about 200,000 people, into a way station for the trafficking of arms and insurgent fighters from nearby Syria - and a ghost town of terrorized residents afraid to open their stores, walk the streets or send their children to school.

It is a cycle that has been repeated in rebellious cities throughout Iraq, and particularly those in the Sunni Arab regions west and north of Baghdad, where the insurgency's roots run deepest.

"We have a finite number of troops," said Maj. Chris Kennedy, executive officer of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, which arrived in Tal Afar several weeks ago. "But if you pull out of an area and don't leave security forces in it, all you're going to do is leave the door open for them to come back. This is what our lack of combat power has done to us throughout the country. In the past, the problem has been we haven't been able to leave sufficient forces in towns where we've cleared the insurgents out."

While officials in Washington say the military has all the troops it needs, on-the-ground battle commanders in the most violent parts of Iraq - in cities like Ramadi, Mosul and Mahmudiya - have said privately that they need more manpower to pacify their areas and keep them that way....

[bth: this is an excellent article and well worth a full read. We don't have enough troops in the rebellious areas to win. The lasting Rumsfeld legacy will be "too little too late" in stark contrast to the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force. I remember the king of Jordan saying early this year that in Iraq, if you show up with an army Iraqis' serve you tea and cookies, if you show up with police, they shoot at them. 500 troops for an area twice the size of Connecticut is just ridiculous. If Rumsfeld isn't interested in increasing the troop level then perhaps he should redeploy those already in Iraq to concentrate our fire power in those areas openly rebellious.]

Iraqi policeman Posted by Hello

Lawmakers want to pull troops out of Iraq

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Washington, D.C.: Lawmakers want to pull troops out of Iraq: "A small bipartisan group in the House, including a Republican who voted for war, is urging President Bush to start bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq by Oct. 1, 2006."...

Senators: White House Missed Intelligence Deadlines - Politics - Senators: White House Missed Intelligence Deadlines: "The Bush administration has missed at least a half-dozen deadlines to shore up national security programs as required in intelligence reforms approved six months ago, according to two top Senate Homeland Security Committee (search) members. ..."

Gillette and Boucher cooling off in Iraq Posted by Hello

Alleged Robber Attacked with Curling Irons - Little Rock, AK

"An alleged armed robber has just had the beating of a lifetime, at the hands of nearly 30 women inside a Shreveport beauty school.

Blalock's Beauty School instructor Dianne Mitchell says, "Oh, I put something on him baby. He wasn't coming up out of here and telling nobody he robbed us and got away with it.'"...

Iraqi child injured by US bombing in 03 between treatments in San Francisco Posted by Hello


"The Saudi security authorities have arrested five Chad nationals allegedly belonging to al-Qaeda, who they said confessed to the murder of French engineer Laurent Barbot in September. The Chadians also admitted several armed robberies in the capital, Jeddah, last year, Arab News daily reported, quoting the Saudi interior ministry. "...

Spain claims to have broken up terror network

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Spain claims to have broken up terror network: "Spanish police claimed yesterday they had broken up a terrorist network that was recruiting and aiding suicide bombers for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. "...

Police described their network as being "tied to the terrorist organisation Ansar al-Islam/Zarqawi network". Ansar al-Islam is a radical Islamist group of Iraqi Kurds and Arabs, closely linked to al-Qaida and Zarqawi.

Investigations in Spain, Italy, Germany and Sweden suggest it is now the most prominent militant group engaged in fundraising and recruitment of Iraqi insurgents.

Spanish police said that some of the men arrested yesterday had been involved in both the train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid last year and in supporting suicide bombers in Iraq. ...

Yesterday's arrests provided further evidence of a growing recruiting network in Europe for Islamists willing to fight in Iraq. German police arrested three suspected members of Ansar al-Islam on Tuesday, saying they had raised money for the group and provided logistical support. ...

Robotic tank designed by the British for D-Day, WWII Posted by Hello

Al-Qaeda-linked ex-general arrested in Iraq

"BAGHDAD (AFP) - A former Iraqi general believed to be Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's 'military adviser' was arrested west of Baghdad. "

Abed Dawood Suleiman and his son, former army captain Raed Abed Dawood, were picked up in a morning raid on their house in Khalidiya, west of Baghdad, a defense ministry source said Wednesday...

M-16 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fighting in Afghanistan Leaves 15 Dead

"KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - Suspected Taliban rebels broke into a medical clinic near the Pakistan border and killed a doctor and six of his assistants, while seven gunmen were killed when hundreds of insurgents clashed with Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces, officials said Wednesday. ..."

Boosters fight for pork

"The present community hysteria over the possible closure of Eielson Air Force Base has, of course, nothing to do with protecting America and everything to do with protecting pork.

The truth is, for all the overwrought oratory of our civic boosters, we care a whole lot less about our soldiers than we do about keeping our box stores open and the real estate market artificially pumped up.

Right now in Iraq we are deploying reservists and National Guardsmen in growing numbers who do not have adequate training.

A high percentage of fatalities come from these part-time soldiers, who typically train one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. Not surprisingly, analysts correlate a soldier's lack of training with the likelihood he'll come home in a body bag. "...

Here's how the late Col. David Hackworth, a fierce defender of the troops, put it in a syndicated column a few years ago:

"Since the early days of this republic, porkers have put hometown jobs first over life and death matters such as giving our fighters the right stuff and the right training."

He noted, sadly but accurately, "It's an American political tradition to defend the pork barrel over our uniformed sons' and daughters' lives."

And guess which state and whose senators Col. Hackworth presented as the clearest example of this abuse of power? Your state, your senators.

"We're maintaining two forts in Alaska to house one Army brigade. This costs as much as it does to run Fort Bragg, a facility with 10 times the number of troops. ... Somehow taxpayers have closed their eyes to the stupidity of allowing the Senators from Alaska to hang onto a couple bases when there's no longer any military necessity whatsoever."

The News-Miner said the goal was to save the cash cow, but it cautioned that we mustn't say so. "What Fairbanks must do instead," wrote the editor, "is convince the commission members that Eielson has significant military value."

And so we are treated to the marvelous absurdity of local merchants lecturing the Joint Chiefs of Staff about our town's strategic location. It's like they expect one of the chiefs to slap his forehead, jab the chief next to him and say, "Holy smokes, Bill, we forgot where Eielson is located! Say, let's take a look at the globe."

We are advised to say that Eielson is situated closest to various potential "hot spots," while forgetting that Elmendorf is just as close.

We must say we need F-16s to defend the pipeline from terrorists, as if, what? Terrorists would attack with bombers? Or jet fighters? Not likely. ...

The Conservative Voice - Mr. President, Bring Our Ladies Home.

[bth: Just to show you how far out of touch with reality the conservative right it, take a look at this article. I have excerpted a tamer part of it and bypassed most of the scripture quotes. I saw in today's release of combat casualties from last week another woman has been killed in Iraq which probably brings the total to 36. The fact is, women are in combat in Iraq and they have evidently earned their place there. Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has been trying to get them out and to limit their career pathes in the military over the objections of the joint chiefs of staff themselves. Anyway reality has a way of changing society.]

"...We become horrified at pagan nations using women and children as human shields, but we remain silent at the shame of strapping our women with machine guns and battle gear, and sending them off to Baghdad while we play Mr. Mom at home changing diapers. Can we depend on our Congress full of feminized men to do the honorable and right thing and protect our daughters, wives and sisters? Can we depend on a leadership which is more afraid of the politically correct battalion of feminists in the media, than Our Lord and Savior? Our only hope is the Church of Jesus Christ.

Many may remember the bill put forth by Charles Rangel before the 2004 elections. Mr. Rangel said he introduced the bill to make a political point that the military is being stretched too thin under Mr. Bush. It would have required everyone, including women, between the ages of 18 to 26, to serve a period of military service. The forces are strong attempting to put the death blow to patriarchy. Could another terrorist attack be the impetus to reinstating a draft? It won�t be long before a new batch of legislators and lawmakers weaned off of G.I Jane, Will and Grace, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, come to power and insist on conscription of our women and open sodomy in the military. Either we speak now when we can have an impact or we watch as our daughters spend their summer preparing for basic training instead of prom.

The Church of Jesus Christ must call on the president and our leadership to repent of the abomination of placing our women in combat, and repeal the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy put in place by the Clinton administration and perpetuated by President Bush. We must cry out to the Lord for national repentance, and for the Lord to raise up male leadership. More is at stake than preserving formal traditions like"...

Let's Talk About Iraq - New York Times

... "Well, we need to talk about Iraq. This is no time to give up - this is still winnable - but it is time to ask: What is our strategy? This question is urgent because Iraq is inching toward a dangerous tipping point - the point where the key communities begin to invest more energy in preparing their own militias for a scramble for power - when everything falls apart, rather than investing their energies in making the hard compromises within and between their communities to build a unified, democratizing Iraq.

Our core problem in Iraq remains Donald Rumsfeld's disastrous decision - endorsed by President Bush - to invade Iraq on the cheap."...

[bth: an excellent article well worth the read.]

An unauthorized pet that reportedly was seen but does not officially exist with the 181 support battallion. Posted by Hello

Iraq's al Qaeda warns against talks with govt

Reuters AlertNet - Iraq's al Qaeda warns against talks with govt-Web: "Iraq's al Qaeda vowed to kill anyone negotiating with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government in a Web statement on Tuesday, a sign the group was worried about possible divisions among its Sunni Muslim allies."...

Unexploded ordinance in Iraq farmers field. Posted by Hello

Dispute over Iraq's constitutional process has sectarian tone, threatens more turmoil > In Iraq -- Dispute over Iraq's constitutional process has sectarian tone, threatens more turmoil: ..."Sunni Arabs, a minority believed to account for 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 26 million people, want 25 of their representatives to join a 55-legislator constitutional committee.

Shiite and Kurdish legislators say the Sunnis can only have 13 representatives in addition to two legislators already on the committee. A total of 15 Sunni Arabs, they argue, would match the representation of the Kurds, who also make up about 20 percent of the population. "...

Under an interim charter adopted last year, if three of the four provinces where Sunni Arabs have a majority reject the charter in the October referendum, parliament must be dissolved and a new election held.

Such a scenario would set back the U.S.-sponsored political process by at least a year, possibly further energize the two-year insurgency and prevent the United States from drawing down on its huge military deployment in Iraq – about 140,000 troops. ...

[bth: the odds that 3 of 4 Sunni dominated provinces will reject the new constitution and set the peace process back at least a year are almost certain at this point.]

Another $100 million for uparmored Humvees - (United Press International)

Another $100 million for uparmored Humvees - (United Press International): "Washington, DC, Jun. 13 (UPI) -- Armor Holdings, Inc., won a $95.6 million contract to produce up-armored Humvees for the U.S. military, the company announced Monday"

The contract will keep the company producing 550 M114 Humvees per month through the end of the year, according to company spokesman Michael Fox....

Boy points toy pistol at British patrol in Iraq Posted by Hello

North Africa Terror Cells Said to Be Sending Increasing Number of Islamic Fighters to Iraq - from

North Africa Terror Cells Said to Be Sending Increasing Number of Islamic Fighters to Iraq - from "Up to 20 percent of suicide car bombers in Iraq are from Algeria, a sign of growing cooperation between Islamic extremists in northern Africa and like-minded Iraqis, a senior U.S. military official said Tuesday. "...

Forensic investigations have revealed that 20 percent of suicide car bombers in Iraq are Algerian and roughly 5 percent come from Morocco and Tunisia, ...The majority of foreign bombers in Iraq are believed to come from countries in the Persian Gulf, mainly Saudi Arabia and Yemen, U.S. officials say. ...

Underground European networks were providing more cash, while African networks were providing manpower - mostly unskilled militants used to drive and then detonate car bombs that have killed thousands. ...

July 14, 2004 vehicular borne suicide bomber attacks outside green zone killing 9 Posted by Hello

Jihad may be fueling attacks

"...In May, insurgents detonated 143 car bombs, many of them suicide attacks.

The rise in suicide attacks has prompted concerns that the greatest threat from insurgents may be shifting from former loyalists of Saddam Hussein who have lost political power to religious zealots.

"The mix is changing,"Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said recently, citing conversations earlier this month in Iraq with Marine and Army commanders. "Now, the mix is increasingly more Islamists crossing the border "and a lot of them are Saudis," Biden said.

..."There seems to be an endless supply of jihadists and explosives," added Dan Goure, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., in describing the rise in car bombings.

Insurgent attacks, many of them by suicide bombers, have killed more than 1,000 people in the past six weeks since the new government was seated....

A Pentagon task force on improvised explosive devices reported that car and truck bombs, a favorite tactic of suicide attackers, have risen to an average of about 30 a week from one per week in January 2004.

...Insurgents hope the violence will show “that the new government is extremely fragile and the Iraqi people aren't necessarily that better off,” says Charles Pena of the Cato Institute, a think tank...

Meet The Bin Ladens: Osama's Road to Riches and Terror

Meet The Bin Ladens: Osama's Road to Riches and Terror - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News: "The Bin Laden family disowned black sheep Osama in 1994. But have they really broken with the mega-terrorist? Recently revealed classified documents seem to suggest otherwise. Osama's violent career has been made possible in part by the generosity of his family -- and by his contacts with the Saudi royals."...

Randall, age 19, 101st Airborne, wounds include severe facial injuries. Posted by Hello

4,000 Marines, 30,000 hostile square miles

4,000 Marines, 30,000 hostile square miles - Yahoo! News:... "Insurgents in a region that is hundreds of miles across in any direction are opposed by Davis' three battalions of roughly 1,000 men each--all three of them short 150 men--plus a force that varies between about 200 and 1,000 at the Al Asad base. Until January, there had been four fully manned battalions in the area.

Over the same period, Marine units throughout Anbar and its restive cities of Fallujah and Ramadi have dwindled from 13 battalions to nine.

By now, military leaders had expected Iraqi forces to make up the shortfall. But training in Anbar has lagged, and construction has yet to begin on bases for the Iraqi troops. American liaisons don't expect to see the soldiers until fall."...

Yet only 4,000 or fewer Marines in Davis' Regimental Combat Team-2 are assigned to patrol Anbar province beyond Fallujah and the provincial capital, Ramadi.

U.S. officials estimate more than 150,000 members of Iraqi security forces are now trained and equipped, for the first time outnumbering American troops in Iraq. But only a single unit of 30 reconnaissance troops has been sent to western Anbar....

The battalion has fewer than two men for every square mile it is supposed to patrol, but Day bristled at any suggestion that his units are short-handed.

"I can do anything. At a cost," he said in early May, while acknowledging that even more limited operations soon take their toll on equipment and men. "Then we kind of have to lay up and lick our wounds."

..."This is not something that we are going to solve. This is something where we can provide stability so that the government can form and resolve it," said Lt. Col. Lionel Urquhart, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, whose troops occupy garrisons in Haditha and Hit.

Their new goal, he said, "is to give people here a reasonable doubt about siding with the insurgents."

bth: we simply don't have enough troops in western Iraq to decide the outcome. One wonders why we have 135,000 spread across Iraq, most of which is relatively stable, and only a few thousand in the most contested areas. Late in 04 the Pentagon thought Iraqi soldiers would fill the void. It has been obvious for at least 6 months that this would not occur this year in the Sunni areas. So instead of shifting US and allied troops to the combat areas and away from very stable regions, we have 4000 marines guarding 30,000 square miles. It is hard to call that awinning strategy with the best of troops. We are not serving these marines well, to put them into an unwinnable situation.]

White House rejects call for Iraq pullout timetable

White House rejects call for Iraq pullout timetable - Yahoo! News: "The White House rejected calls for setting a precise timetable for a US withdrawal from Iraq, even as a new poll showed almost six in 10 Americans want at least a partial pullout of US forces. "

"We will leave when we complete the mission," spokesman Scott McClellan said a day after a representative in US President George W. Bush's Republican party said he would push legislation fixing a firm schedule for such a withdrawal....

Representative Walter Jones (news, bio, voting record), a North Carolina Republican, said on ABC television Sunday that he would introduce a bill calling for a firm timetable for withdrawing US forces from Iraq.

"This is what I believe is the right thing to do for our military first; and secondly, I think we are doing everything we can do in Iraq to give them an opportunity to have a democracy, to defend themselves," Jones told ABC....

"What we are working to achieve in Iraq is vital to transforming a dangerous region of the world, and promoting long-term peace and security. And we must continue to do all we can to support the Iraqi people as they move forward on freedom and democracy, and it's important that we complete the mission," he said.

"And that means training Iraqi forces so that they can provide for their own security. At that point, our troops will be able to return home, with the honor that they deserve," said McClellan.

[bth: Mr. President the troops have done their job with honor.]

Dusty Posted by Hello

Overseas Deployments Drain National Guard's Manpower and Supplies

Newhouse A1: "...Today the Guard is barely able to meet the Pentagon's demands for manpower overseas. Its units are exhausted. Internal Guard documents tell the story: All 10 of its Special Forces units, all 147 military police units, 97 of 101 infantry units, and 73 of 75 armor units cannot go to war without outside reinforcements. The Guard needs a staggering $20 billion worth of equipment to sustain its operations, a bill Washington may balk at paying.

...The Guard is losing soldiers and cannot attract enough recruits to replace them. And the normally dependable flow of soldiers moving from active duty into the National Guard has slowed dramatically.

'One can conclude,' said Brig. Gen. Bill Libby, commander of the Maine National Guard, 'that we're going to run out of soldiers.'"...

Rooted in 2,700 communities and neighborhoods across the U.S. and commanded by the states' governors, the Army National Guard is one of the most direct channels for ordinary Americans to influence Washington's war-making decisions.

Some military experts view the Guard as a counterweight against a president who might launch a risky foreign war: Mobilizing the Guard has an immediate political impact on local communities.

President Johnson relied on a nationwide draft for combat in Vietnam, choosing not to call up the Guard and rip entire units away from hometown America. Johnson's strategy ultimately failed as the draft spawned an anti-war movement.

"That was one of the lessons of Vietnam, that it is an important part of our checks and balances that the American people have to support a war," said Col. John L. Gronski, commander of a Pennsylvania National Guard brigade scheduled to leave soon for Iraq....

To fully equip units in Iraq, the Pentagon has stripped local Guard units of about 24,000 pieces of equipment, including helicopters, Humvees, radios, heavy trucks, night vision goggles and weapons.

That has left Guard units at home, already seriously short of gear, without equipment critical to state missions. The problem is especially acute in some Western states that cannot control forest fires without the National Guard...

Internal National Guard documents show that last December, there was a pool of 86,455 soldiers available for duty. By the end of April, the pool had shrunk to 74,519 soldiers available for global deployments. The current need for National Guard soldiers in Iraq alone is 32,000, and tens of thousands of others are required for missions in 83 countries worldwide...

One disincentive, Guardsmen say, is that once mobilized, they are often treated like second-class citizen-soldiers. For instance, active-duty troops get retirement pay as soon as they serve 20 years, often at age 38 or 40. But Guardsmen who serve their 20 years can't collect until they're 60 years old.

And the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has documented hundreds of cases in which Guard soldiers were paid late or not at all, or were erroneously assessed debts by the Pentagon. The GAO also found cases of wounded Guard soldiers who lost pay and benefits when they were removed from active-duty rosters....

In extreme cases, the Pentagon can deploy Guard soldiers with less than 18 months of time left. When the clock runs out, they are just kept on active duty on "stop-loss" orders. Currently, 27,495 Army National Guard enlisted soldiers are being involuntarily kept on active duty, a status that can last months.

Inevitably, this takes its toll: Guardsmen are fed up and quitting....

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said heavy use of Guard troops in the Middle East has left the state more vulnerable to wildfires and other natural disasters.

The Pentagon is "using the National Guard to avoid the tough calls on the size of the active Army," Kulongoski said. "This isn't the proper use that we should be making of the Guard."...

[this is an unsustainable and unfair situation. An all volunteer force will not sustain an elective war when the trust has been broken at the highest levels of government.]

North Korean fallout Op-ED The Washington Times

North Korean fallout--Editorials/Op-Ed The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "Thirty-two months after North Korea acknowledged it had an active nuclear-weapons program, Washington and its allies remain unable to find a way to stop North Korea's atomic-weapons efforts. "...

The inability of the international community to change North Korea's behavior could persuade Japan to move forward with a nuclear-weapons program of its own. As the only country to experience a nuclear attack, Japan has for 49 years operated under a Basic Atomic Energy Law that limits nuclear research and development to peaceful uses. Ever since the 1994 crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Japanese politicians and senior officials have been talking more and more about the possibility of developing a nuclear deterrent capacity and expanding the capability to launch pre-emptive military strikes. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is looking to expand Japan's defense role in Asia. Indeed, the country's civilian nuclear program is so advanced that Japan may be only weeks away from developing atomic weapons if it chose to go that route -- a path frought with tremendous political implications for the region.

In sum, the inability of the international community to rein in North Korea's nuclear weapons program is likely to have profound (and in some cases, disturbing) consequences, as Pyongyang's neighbors take steps to produce their own military deterrents.

[bth: keeping in mind that Washington Times is owned by the Moonies, the analysis in this op-ed is probably correct. I would not be surprised to see a nuclear Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan fall out from China's unwillingness to curtail N. Korea.]

Did the Office of Strategic Influence get killed at DOD or get Outsourced?

[In a post on Minstrelboy earlier this week there was reference to $300 million in DOD contracts being let for psyops and selective publicity: big money, questionable purposes. There was supposedly no linkage to the Office of Strategic Influence that was a propaganda groups initially set up at DOD that was supposedly canned. Well now comes some indication that DOD may have outsourced the project and some contracts to go with it to GOP hacks in a start-up. The excerpt below is from a lengthy and fascinating webblog that has been researching the connection. If you like conspiracy and government tampering with media, you will find this link interesting. I doubt we have heard the end of this story.]

Whiskey Bar: Blowback: "So to sum up: We have a tiny start-up venture, controlled by persons unknown, that suddenly materializes in late 2003 doing 'private equity' deals in the middle of a war zone, and then obtains a huge PR contract from the Pentagon, and then hires a bunch of unemployed GOP campaign operatives to execute that contract, and then is absorbed by a shadowy DC company that specializes in corporate and political detective work and that may have close ties to both the Republican Party and the intelligence community, which then is awarded an even bigger contract to produce even more Pentagon propaganda."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A long walk. Posted by Hello

Tristan. 213 Armored Cav. Reg. Walter Reed Posted by Hello

Col. Hackworth laid to rest with the honor he deserved. Posted by Hello

Riderless Horse during Col. Hackworth's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery Posted by Hello

Battle-Hard G.I.'s Learn To Release Their Pain

Battle-Hard G.I.'s Learn To Release Their Pain: "...From the shell shock first diagnosed among trench warriors in World War I to the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that afflicts thousands of Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veterans, the toll modern warfare has taken on the psyche of combatants has been well documented. An estimated one in six troops returning from duty in Iraq experienced symptoms of major depression, anxiety or PTSD, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study published last year.

Now, the U.S. military has intensified efforts to mitigate the impact of traumatic experiences on the mental health of its troops.
Combat stress control teams are deployed at six U.S. bases across Iraq, tasked with identifying front-line soldiers suffering from early symptoms of PTSD, a condition that causes a range of psychiatric and physical symptoms, from violent flashbacks to difficulty sleeping."...

[bth: modest signs of progress by the military in actually discussing and addressing PTSD. We're going to pay for PTSD, either a little now, or a lot later in the form of drug abuse, alcoholism, violence and family break-ups. Better to meet this problem head-on and help our soldiers.]

Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs

Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs: "...What should frighten Washington is not the quantity, but rather the character of attacks against coalition forces and their Iraqi auxiliaries. The resistance lost its capacity for frontal assault after Fallujah, but has undiminished capacity for suicide attacks, a method that bespeaks incurable desperation. As the chart below makes clear, the consistency of the coalition casualty rate suggests that a broader trend is at work, rather than a few instances of die-hard fanaticism. It is hard to obtain accurate monthly data for casualties among Iraqi forces, but they scale the same way. "...

No more than a dozen or so Sunnis engage in suicide bombings over the course of a given month, to be sure, and one might argue that these are singular individuals. But here the singularity defines the situation. What sort of population produces such a steady trickle of suicide bombers, much larger than the Palestinians sent against the Israelis? One cannot dismiss the suicide campaign of the Iraq resistance as Islamist extremism, because their leaders derive from Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime, which drew on Nazism more than on the Koran. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka staged fewer than two dozen such attacks over the space of a decade. The Sunni rate of political suicide appears to be the highest in modern history, excluding a tribe or two of Amazon aboriginals. [2] ...

Gaming the odds on civil war in Iraq has blossomed into a minor industry during the past few months. I wrote in January 2004, "No one in the Bush administration wants to let slip the dogs of civil war. On the contrary, the White House still hopes that Iraq will set a precedent for democracy in the Muslim world. Yet civil war is the path of least resistance." [4] This is tragedy, not malice or forethought, even if Bush comes across like an outtake from Aristophanes rather than a character in Aeschylus. Some in the Bush camp view the promotion of Arab democracy as an asymmetric bet. "Either it will be very good for us [if it works], or it will be very bad for them [if it doesn't]."

America lacks the cultural capacity to create the sort of military and intelligence assets that would be required to manipulate local events. Just 3,000 British officers staffed the British Raj in India, Sir John Keegan observes (in Intelligence in War), and they "wore a version of native dress, spoke Indian languages and prided themselves on their immersion in the customs and culture of their soldiers". No such imperial adventurers can be found among the Shi'ite militias (although there are a few advisers working with the Kurdish peshmerga). ...

Germany accuses Iraqis of terror links

Aljazeera.Net - Germany accuses Iraqis of terror links: "German authorities have arrested three Iraqis who allegedly supported Ansar al-Islam in Iraq, federal prosecutors say."...

Amnesty Mulled for Some Iraqi Insurgents - Yahoo! News

Amnesty Mulled for Some Iraqi Insurgents - Yahoo! News: "BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi officials are considering difficult-to-swallow ideas - including amnesties for their enemies - as they look for ways to end the country's rampant insurgency and isolate extremists wanting to start a civil war. "

Negotiations have just begun between U.S. and Iraqi officials on drafting an amnesty policy, which would reach out to Iraqi militants fighting U.S. forces, say officials in both the Iraqi and American governments.

But foreign extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, responsible for Iraq's bloodiest attacks, would not be offered any amnesty, the Iraqi and U.S. authorities told The Associated Press in recent days....

Al-Mutlak said Iraqi insurgents have demands of their own: They want guarantees that attacks against Sunni cities will stop; that thousands of detainees will be released from U.S.-run prisons; and — most importantly — that the U.S.-led occupation will end.

"They want to reach an agreement, but would like to see evidence that the other side is really positive," al-Mutlak said.

[bth: in the end I think the insurgents that are killing Americans will walk free as part of a negotiation.]

Memo Seems to Link Annan to Contract of Son's Company - New York Times

Memo Seems to Link Annan to Contract of Son's Company - New York Times: "A memo written by someone who was then an executive of a major contractor in the United Nations oil-for-food program states that he briefly discussed the company's effort to win the contract in late 1998 with Secretary General Kofi Annan and his 'entourage' and that the executive was told that 'we could count on their support.'

The secretary general's son, Kojo Annan, was employed by Cotecna Inspection Services, a Swiss contractor based in Geneva, and the nature of that relationship is among the issues being investigated by a panel appointed by the United Nations and several Congressional committees.

Kofi Annan has said several times that he did not discuss the contract with his son and was not involved in Cotecna's selection. A United Nations panel headed by Paul A. Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, concluded in March that Mr. Annan had not influenced the awarding of the $10 million dollar-a-year contract to the company.

But the memo appears to raise questions about the secretary general's role. "...

What now for the Taleban?

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | What now for the Taleban?: "'...We have a small number of higher-level leaders who are very committed, more about personal power than ideology. I doubt we will see them quit the cause.

'They will maintain a level of insurgency for the future but it will become less and less of a threat to the sovereignty of Afghanistan.'
But Col Cheek believes it important not to 'mislead ourselves' by simply chasing the enemy.

'We need to put an effort into friendly forces, in training police, working with government, rebuilding infrastructure so the government gets the confidence of the people.' "...

Other attacks continue, meaning there is little hope of the Americans being able to withdraw.

Some say they are bogged down. The history of insurgencies shows it takes very few people to pin down a very large number of troops.

There are thought to be no more than 2,000 active Taleban militants and perhaps several hundred followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

But even if the number of defections increases, the Taleban insurgency and the debilitating insecurity it brings could carry on for a long time yet.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Makeshift Robot Posted by Hello

Ground Zero Posted by Hello

Army, Insurer in Iraq at Odds

Army, Insurer in Iraq at Odds: "Besieged financial services giant American International Group Inc. repeatedly has sought to derail an effort by the Pentagon that could save taxpayers millions of dollars on reconstruction work in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq.

For more than a year, AIG and industry allies have fought an initiative to cut the rates for workers' compensation insurance that U.S. contractors operating overseas are required to carry, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times."

USA Today Poll: USA is losing patience on Iraq "WASHINGTON -Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.
Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be "upset"if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased."...

As Iraqi Army Trains, Word in the Field Is It May Take Years

As Iraqi Army Trains, Word in the Field Is It May Take Years - New York Times: "MAHMUDIYA, Iraq - A small but telling test of Iraq's fledgling army came recently in this troubled farm town south of Baghdad, when a group of Iraqi soldiers, ending a house raid and rushing to board pickups they use as troop carriers, abandoned the blindfolded, handcuffed man they had come to arrest."

"They left the detainee," an astonished American soldier said, spotting the man squatting in the dust along a residential street. "They just left him there. Sweet."

The Iraqi troops were on their seventh house raid of the morning, part of a cordon-and-search operation in an area of towns and farmland so dangerous that American soldiers call it the Triangle of Death. Prompted by the soldier, the Iraqis ran back for the detainee, and managed much of the rest of their mission effectively, rounding up 13 insurgent suspects in three hours without having to call for direct involvement of the watching American troops.

Such limited successes stand against a backdrop of American disappointment with many of the Iraqi units, whose effectiveness is crucial to a future American troop withdrawal.

Despite the Bush administration's insistent optimism, Americans working with the Iraqis in the field believe that it could be several years, at least, before the new Iraqi forces will be ready to stand alone against the insurgents....

Shattered survivors from Iraq - Shattered survivors from Iraq: "WASHINGTON - In his last memory of Iraq, he was riding in a Humvee on the main highway south of Baghdad. Ten days later, Army Sgt. Joey Bozik opened his eyes in a hospital to find that his right arm was missing. And both his legs. His remaining limb - his left arm - was braced in a plaster cast. He couldn't move his swollen fingers.

'I was glad to be alive,' said Bozik, 26, who learned after regaining consciousness at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that his vehicle had detonated a land mine. 'I was in a lot of pain but decided to deal with the problem I had then. I was an amputee.'"...

[bth: this is an excellent article on current battle injuries and treatments. The Baltimore-Sun has been doing excellent work in this area. Recently Robert Little did an excellent series on blood loss and the fact that tourniquets weren't issued to Army soldiers as they are to every marine. The army reports that it will be resolving this deficiency later this year, two full years after the marines and even after the Iraqi Army has done so. Anyway, this article is well worth a read.]

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: For returning veterans, Iraq is not another Vietnam

The News-Enterprise - Serving Hardin County, Kentucky: ..."PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. It is often characterized by nightmares, flashbacks, hyper vigilance and feelings of being detached or estranged.

'It often affects survivors,' said Jeaneen Goodhue, nurse and coordinator for the military intensive outpatient program at Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health System. 'It goes along with surviving crises or critical events that happen.'

What makes an event traumatic is its power to provoke fear, helplessness or horror.
As far as known causes of PTSD, combat ranks with criminal violence, such as rape, assault or torture, motor vehicle accidents, fires, earthquakes and terrorist attacks.
According to a 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, while about 7 percent of those who experience traumatic events may develop PTSD in the civilian world, the disorder affects some 15 to 17 percent of active duty military personnel who have been deployed in Iraq and 11 percent in Afghanistan. Men and women recently removed from combat were interviewed for the study.
But Dr. James Stockard, civilian psychiatrist at Ireland Army Community Hospital's behavioral health clinic, believes that prevalence could be lower or higher, depending on when the soldiers were interviewed.

'I would be suspicious of any single figure,' Stockard said, stating it is still too early to get a firm grasp on the scope of PTSD with the Iraq War. 'I'm just saying the jury is still out. PTSD is dynamic. It goes away. It gets worse. You can't take a snapshot and have the answer.'"...

In 2004, 86 percent of soldiers in Iraq reported knowing someone who was seriously injured or killed, 68 percent reported seeing dead or seriously injured Americans and 51 percent reported handling or uncovering human remains.

Nearly 77 percent of soldiers deployed in Iraq reported shooting or directing fire at the enemy, 48 percent reported being responsible for the deaths of enemy combatants and 28 percent reported being responsible for the death of a noncombatant.

In addition, with suicide bombings and other insurgent attacks, urban guerrilla warfare in Iraq creates a constant state of alert because the enemy is not clearly identifiable. There is no safe place and no safe duty. A person may begin to feel helpless in the ability to protect him or herself, Grantz said.

"But, you have to be careful," Hughes said. "It could be a family with children in the car just as easily as it could be insurgents. You have to be cautious, of course, at all times. But there are civilians all over this battlefield.

"In the grand scheme of things, what if you went over there and you did something you couldn't live with. That would be far worse. You have to think, you may survive this whole thing, but you have to go back and live the rest of your life. That's why this environment is so difficult."...

[bth: excellent article on PTSD and Iraq.]

Burlington plan wins $7.2 million contract

Burlington plan wins $7.2 million contract: "BURLINGTON, Vt. The General Dynamics Burlington technical center has won a contract to manage the manufacturing of add-on army for the U-S Army's M-915 trucks."...

The Army Numbers Game - New York Times

..."Instead of managing its recruitment numbers and playing dangerous games with quality standards, the Army needs to level with the public and Congress about what it will take to meet the nation's defense needs and restore the health of a volunteer force that has served America well. "...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Maybe the war in Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction or al-Qaeda instead of about rational reasons like humanitarian concerns or oil. I don' t know.

I do know, an energy policy that reduces dependence on foreign oil is in our national interest.

Why don't we consider a tax at a floor price of oil, say at $50, on imported oil. If the price of an imported barrel declines below $50 then the tax kicks in, it its above $50 then it doesn't. This would stimulate domestic production by giving it a price floor against OPEC price manipulation that so hurt the US producers in the 1980s. The US is the high cost producer in the world because our fields are so old. The fear of price manipulaton on the down side is a major reason why heavy oils, tar sands and stripper wells are abandoned as domestic fuel sources and why investors in alternative energy sources remain so skittish.

Proceeds could be used to fund alternative energy investments or energy conservation which might not be economical by itself or just need a jumpstart into mass production. It wouldn't hurt to reduce air pollution and green house gases either.

Why don't we tax subsidize fuel efficient cars like hybrids on an intense level and eliminate tax subsidies for gas guzzlers like SUVs weighing over 6,000 lbs that are treated like trucks instead of luxury vehicles?

Just a thought to ponder. Posted by Hello

Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan

Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan: "A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a 'protracted and costly' postwar occupation of that country."...

In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."

...Now, disclosure of the memo written in advance of that meeting -- and other British documents recently made public -- show that Blair's aides were not just concerned about Washington's justifications for invasion but also believed the Bush team lacked understanding of what could happen in the aftermath....Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

...The Bush administration's failure to plan adequately for the postwar period has been well documented. The Pentagon, for example, ignored extensive State Department studies of how to achieve stability after an invasion, administer a postwar government and rebuild the country. ...

Testimony by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of Iraq policy, before a House subcommittee on Feb. 28, 2003, just weeks before the invasion, illustrated the optimistic view the administration had of postwar Iraq. He said containment of Hussein the previous 12 years had cost "slightly over $30 billion," adding, "I can't imagine anyone here wanting to spend another $30 billion to be there for another 12 years." As of May, the Congressional Research Service estimated that Congress has approved $208 billion for the war in Iraq since 2003.

The British, however, had begun focusing on doubts about a postwar Iraq in early 2002, according to internal memos.

A March 14 memo to Blair from David Manning, then the prime minister's foreign policy adviser and now British ambassador in Washington, reported on talks with then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Among the "big questions" coming out of his sessions, Manning reported, was that the president "has yet to find the answers . . . [and] what happens on the morning after."

...Later in the summer, the postwar doubts would be raised again, at the July 23 meeting memorialized in the Downing Street Memo. Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6, the British intelligence service, reported on his meetings with senior Bush officials. At one point, Dearlove said, "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

...The Blair government, unlike its U.S. counterparts, always doubted that coalition troops would be uniformly welcomed, and sought U.N. participation in the invasion in part to set the stage for an international occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, ... London was aware that the State Department had studied how to deal with an invasion's aftermath. But the British government was "shocked," in the words of one official, "when we discovered that in the postwar period the Defense Department would still be running the show."

...Neither Bush nor Blair has publicly challenged the authenticity of the July 23 memo,...

[bth: What is interesting is that no one (UK or US officials) is denying the authenticity of the two British memos, but rather the interpretation of them. It is fascinating to me that Wolfowitz who was so clearly at the center of a break-down in intelligence, a dissembling of the truth on the reasons for war with Iraq, namely its link to al-Qaeda, and his blatant unpreparedness for post-war Iraq or its costs ($30 billion total!) can now be promoted by the President to run the World Bank. While FBI and CIA can be accused rightfully of incompetence and bureacratic infighting, it is a few departments directly linked to political appointees (Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz's office) that is the source of almost all of the dissembled information used to send us to war in Iraq. In the meantime, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda live to fight another day.]

Car bomb victim Posted by Hello

Terrorists retool carnage in Iraq

Terrorists retool carnage in Iraq - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - June 12, 2005: "The car bombs killing troops and civilians in Iraq have grown more sophisticated as insurgents gain training and financing across the border in Syria, defense officials say.

The officials estimate that improvised explosive devices (IEDs), both roadside and car-borne, now account for 50 percent of all daily attacks, or 'contacts,' in Iraq.

When the IED attacks began in full force in late 2003, most bombs were made of artillery and mortar shells. But lately, the coalition is discovering more sophisticated bombs made of a mix of explosives, some of which include penetrating warheads to kill people inside buildings. "...

One problem, this source says, is that some of the financing to buy bomb parts and bomb-making training is going on in Syria, effectively giving the terrorists a sanctuary. ...

With American soldiers exercising better force protection, thanks to improved armor and training, the insurgents have shifted their attacks to more vulnerable Iraqi troops and civilians.

"Terrorists always look for the weakest point," said Dick Bridges, spokesman for the Pentagon's IED task force. "We are no longer the weakest point." ...

Jammers developed in the United States and sent to Iraq have had some successes.

But the insurgents adjusted by changing the mechanisms for detonating bombs. Sometimes they change the frequency on the radio used to send a signal to the battery-powered ignition switch. In other cases, they use wire ignition, which is not vulnerable to jamming, or cordless phones, which provide a close-in radio wave that is more difficult to disrupt. ...

Man portable robot Posted by Hello

More Americans dying from roadside bombs in Iraq

KRT Wire | 06/09/2005 | More Americans dying from roadside bombs in Iraq: "CAMP ANACONDA, Iraq - (KRT) - Improvised explosive devices, the roadside bombs that insurgents build from castoff artillery shells and other munitions, have become the No. 1 killer of American troops in Iraq this year, despite a massive U.S. campaign to blunt their effectiveness.

American commanders have dispatched newly armored Humvees, Army engineers have begun a yearlong program to clear vegetation and debris along major transportation routes, and military technicians have equipped vehicles with devices that jam cell phones and garage-door openers, which are used to trigger the explosives.

In spite of those efforts, deaths due to IEDs rose by more than 41 percent in the first five months of this year, compared with the same period last year, and account for nearly 51 percent of the 255 U.S. combat deaths so far this year, according to statistics assembled by Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an Internet site that assembles statistics based on official U.S. casualty reports.

That's a change from 2004, when IEDs accounted for 189 of the 720 combat deaths among U.S. troops - about 26 percent.
In the first five months of last year, 85 deaths were attributed to IEDs. In the same period this year, 120 deaths were due to roadside bombs. They were the No. 1 cause of U.S. combat deaths for each of the five full months so far this year.

IEDs have killed 10 American service members so far in June; last year, they caused only one U.S. death in the first week of June.
Pentagon officials acknowledge that insurgents are killing more American troops with bigger bombs and say soldiers headed to Iraq or Afghanistan get specific training to help them recognize and survive IEDs.

Military officers in Iraq are optimistic that the U.S. efforts to counter IEDs will work. Brig. Gen. Tom Lawing, who oversees Army engineers working throughout northern Iraq, said military patrols were uncovering half of the roadside IEDS before they could be detonated.

Recent sweeps to round up suspected insurgents also have helped, Brig. Gen. Yves Fontaine said.

"We are pursuing an aggressive attack against the insurgents. They don't have time for IEDs because they are running," said Fontaine, of 1st Corp Support Command, which oversees Camp Anaconda, 60 miles north of Baghdad, the nucleus for logistical support and supply throughout Iraq.

But the rising number of deaths due to IEDs suggests that insurgents have been able to counter American measures with bigger and better bombs.

One U.S. military official in Washington, who declined to be named because the information he was revealing was classified, said insurgents had learned to make a more advanced type of IED called a shaped-charge, which is designed to penetrate armor.

Roadside bombs were first used against coalition military convoys in July 2003. The numbers grew steadily as insurgents exploited the vulnerability of American supply lines and a hefty supply of munitions that Saddam Hussein's army had abandoned and U.S. troops left unguarded for months after Saddam's regime fell.

...The insurgents have responded by creating bigger IEDs, often using 155 mm artillery shells linked in a series, which inflict multiple casualties even on hardened vehicles.

...Defending convoys is a massive problem. Each day, goods move to the troops in hundreds of convoys, which are on the roads day and night. Up to 4,000 trucks and tankers are used to supply the coalition's daily needs, which range from a million gallons of fuel to more than 100,000 cases of bottled water.

Commanders in Iraq have undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at cutting IED casualties. Patrols often use an armored machine called a Buffalo, which has a bomb-handling arm on its snout, to remove suspicious objects from the roadway.

Army engineers also are clearing debris, tearing out guardrails and hardening roadside shoulders along the main supply route called Tampa, a series of highways that stretch more than 500 miles from the Kuwaiti border in the south to northern Iraq.

Commanders say the project to improve security along Tampa will take a year, and they hope it'll make it harder for insurgents to plant IEDs.

Aircraft patrol key highways each day, looking for disturbances in the ground where bombs may have been hidden and other suspicious signs.

Army technicians have been equipping Humvees with Warlock jamming devices, intended to prevent insurgents from triggering IEDs with the radio waves from cell phones and garage-door openers....

(Washburn reports for The Charlotte Observer.)

$300 million has just been given to the Dept. of Defense to begin putting an American spin on interntional news according to the article below. This is a poster from WWII evidently before political correctness was around. I post it to make a point: The Dept. of State or to the CIA could just as well have been tasked with getting the American message out to the world, but it wasn't. The money went to the Dept of Defense. Why? Posted by Hello

Pentagon Funds Diplomacy Effort

Pentagon Funds Diplomacy Effort: "The Pentagon awarded three contracts this week, potentially worth up to $300 million over five years, to companies it hopes will inject more creativity into its psychological operations efforts to improve foreign public opinion about the United States, particularly the military.

'We would like to be able to use cutting-edge types of media,' said Col. James A. Treadwell, director of the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, a part of Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command. 'If you want to influence someone, you have to touch their emotions.'"...

A Government Accountability Office report in April noted that the Pentagon had been pressing initiatives on "strategic communications" to fill "the planning void left by the lack of strategic direction from the White House." A September 2004 Defense Science Board report concluded that the "U.S. strategic communication must be transformed."

"The department is always looking for ways to improve our communication efforts, and we are working closely with the State Department to support their public diplomacy initiatives where appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in response to questions about how the new psyops program fits into an administration plan.

...In 2002, the Pentagon abandoned its Office of Strategic Influence after reports surfaced, which the Pentagon denied, that it would disseminate inaccurate information to foreign media.

...Treadwell said there is no connection between the Office of Strategic Influence and the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, adding: "I have never approved a product that was a lie, [or] that was intended to deceive."

..."I don't think contractors are necessarily going to be cheaper than soldiers . . . but in some cases, because of that creativity that we want to reach, we're willing to pay a little more for their ideas," Treadwell said.

..."What's changing is the realization that in this so-called war on terrorism, this is not a force multiplier; this might be the thing that wins the whole thing for you," said Dan Kuehl, a specialist in information warfare at the National Defense University. "This gets to the importance of the war of ideas. There are a billion-plus Muslims that are undecided. How do we move them over to being more supportive of us? If we can do that, we can make progress and improve security."

Curt Weldon's Deep Throat

"The Pennsylvania Republican's freelance spying has once again brought a discredited arms dealer's fabrications to the CIA. "...

[bth: It appears that Congressman Weldon's new book is based on information intel sent to his fax machine by a known fabricator of Iranian-related intelligence. This article is scathing.]

U.S. Campaign Produces Few Convictions on Terrorism Charges

"On Thursday, President Bush stepped to a lectern at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus to urge renewal of the USA Patriot Act and to boast of the government's success in prosecuting terrorists."

Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted."

...But the numbers are misleading at best.

An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law -- and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months.

Taken as a whole, the data indicate that the government's effort to identify terrorists in the United States has been less successful than authorities have often suggested. The statistics provide little support for the contention that authorities have discovered and prosecuted hundreds of terrorists here. Except for a small number of well-known cases -- such as truck driver Iyman Faris, who sought to take down the Brooklyn Bridge -- few of those arrested appear to have been involved in active plots inside the United States.

Among all the people charged as a result of terrorism probes in the three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Post found no demonstrated connection to terrorism or terrorist groups for 180 of them....

Eight Killed, 36 Injured in Iran Bomb Attacks

"TEHRAN, Iran � At least eight people were killed and 36 others injured Sunday in four bomb explosions that targeted government buildings and officials in southwestern Iran (search), state-run television reported.

Gholamreza Shariati, deputy provincial governor for security affairs, said perpetrators were seeking to undermine public participation in Friday's presidential elections"....