Saturday, April 28, 2007

Deadlocked War Funding Bill May Halt Troop Carriers - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - Deadlocked War Funding Bill May Halt Troop Carriers - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News: "CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq — The armored carrier has a grim black slash across its side, burn marks on the door and a web of cracks along the window."

Like most of the Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in Anbar province, this one has been hit as many as three times by enemy fire and bomb blasts. Yet, to date, no American troops have died while riding in one.

But efforts to buy thousands more carriers — each costing about $1 million — could be delayed if the White House and Congress do not resolve their deadlock over a $124.2 billion war spending bill.

About $3 billion for the vehicles is tied up in the legislation. The spending plan has stalled because of a dispute over provisions that would set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

At a hearing last month, lawmakers urged the Army to get more of the carriers to the battlefront as quickly as possible. The vehicles, with their unique V-shaped hull that deflects blasts outward and away from passengers, are considered lifesavers against the No. 1 killer in Iraq — roadside bombs.

Military leaders say the carriers have reduced roadside bomb casualties in Iraq by as much as two-thirds. But they are not effective against the enemy's latest weapon — explosively formed penetrators, which hurl a fist-sized lump of molten copper capable of piercing armored vehicles.

Right now, there are at least 1,100 of the armored carriers on the battlefront in Iraq, including the 100 or so that rumble through Anbar province carrying troops and clearing roads of explosives.

The Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations forces want thousands more. The goal is more than 7,700, at a cost of about $8.4 billion.

The Army wants 2,500, at a cost of about $2.7 billion. The Marines are planning to buy 3,700 and would send about 3,000 to Iraq. There will be 525 in the country by the end of the year, said Brig. Gen. Mark Gurganus, ground combat commander for U.S. forces in western Iraq.

As the Pentagon scrapes to find the money to run the war in the midst of the budget impasse, the Pentagon says there is not enough cash to buy as many as commanders say they need.

"We can build what we can get the funds to build. It's strictly an issue of money," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former Army chief of staff, told a Senate committee last month.

At the time, he said the Army had an unfunded requirement of about $2 billion. Lawmakers added some additional money to the bill, so that number would now be about $1.5 billion.

He said the Army believes "that not only do we need the MRAP immediately to give us better protection, but that we need to stay on a path to get an even better vehicle than the MRAP for the long haul, because the enemy is going to continue to adapt."

Senators pressed for more. "We're buying far too few of them," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "If we have that capability, why would we not do everything to mobilize, to move as many of them into the field as is possible?

In January, the military approved contracts to buy 4,100 of the armored carriers, using nine different companies to fill the order. Although the Pentagon is shifting money around to cover war costs until the spending bill is signed, the Army said dollars already approved and in the pipeline for the vehicles will not be affected.

Additional orders cannot be placed until the disagreement over the war spending legislation is settled. That bill would give the Army ($1.2 billion), the Marines ($1.25 billion), the Navy ($154 million), the Air Force ($139 million) and special operations forces ($259 million) money to buy their own versions of the carriers, according to Bill Johnson-Miles, spokesman for the Marine Corps Systems Command.

The Defense Department has requested about $4.4 billion in the 2008 budget to buy more of the vehicles.

Out on the dusty roads in Anbar province, Marines say the carriers have proved their worth.

This month, Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Kessler said, Marines were riding in one and took a hit from a small roadside bomb. The blast blew a tire, and it took them more than 90 minutes to limp back to base, but no one was hurt. Days earlier, a carrier with six Marines was hit by two blasts; two Marines had broken bones, but they all survived.

"It's an extremely survivable vehicle. I guarantee it saves lives," said Kessler. Pointing to the scars on the side of the MRAP, he added that had they been riding in a Humvee or something else, "they would all be dead."

'A 10-day attack could delay Iran's nuclear race by years'

'A 10-day attack could delay Iran's nuclear race by years' | Jerusalem Post: "'Iran's nuclear program can be thrown back by years in a ten day attack using thousands of Tomahawk cruise missiles,' Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview published online by the German magazine Focus on Saturday. "

Olmert had reportedly said that it would not be possible to completely halt Iran's race to attain nuclear capability, but that a brisk attack that would delay it significantly was "technically feasible." While saying that Israel does not seek military confrontation, Olmert added that "nobody excludes it."

Only a few hours after the publication of the Focus article in Israeli media outlets, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement denying the report.

IAF squadron prepares for Iran

Iran and the Democrats
The PMO said Olmert was giving a Focus reporter only general information and that he was speaking off the record.

"Olmert is acting hastily… while causing damage to the state of Israel," MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said following Saturday's reports.

According to Focus, Olmert said military measures would be considered only if existing UN sanctions, and "other sanctions" would fail to bring success.

Weighing the consequences of such a scenario, Olmert said that "we must also ask ourselves whether after a military procedure, the Iranian people as a whole would not become our enemy. And would not such an action pit other Muslim nations against us, thus creating even more problems?"

Big Business Dodging Toxic Cleanup Costs, Group Charges

The Blotter: "Corporations responsible for hundreds of the most toxic sites in the United States spent nearly as much money lobbying politicians and funding political campaigns as they did repaying the government for cleaning up their messes, according to a new analysis by a Washington, D.C. watchdog group."

As a result, the companies may dodge hundreds of millions in cleanup fees, charges the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Public Integrity.

Companies like petroleum giant Exxon Mobil Corp. or defense contracting giant Raytheon are among the roughly 100 businesses responsible for the vast majority of privately controlled polluted or contaminated "Superfund" sites throughout the United States, according to the new report by the Center for Public Integrity.

Half of all Americans live within 10 miles of a Superfund site, the group said.

Between 1998 and 2005, those companies repaid the federal government $1.3 billion for the cost of cleaning up their toxic sites. During the same period, those companies also spent $1.2 billion on lobbying and political donations.

As those companies pumped money into the coffers of Washington's lobbyists and lawmakers, their cleanup fees slowed to a trickle. While in 1999 those corporations repaid a total of $320 million to the Environmental Protection Agency, which manages the Superfund cleanup effort, those same companies paid just $60 million in 2006.

"This is what goes on in Washington. It's no surprise," said CPI Director Bill Buzenberg, who explained that many companies hire former EPA officials to help them convince the agency to go easy on them. "It's cost effective. You pay a few million and get a few hundred million in savings."

ExxonMobil and Raytheon did not respond with comment for this story.

This post has been updated.

Joni Mitchell

Protest at Senate turns to Arrests

Hearing on Tillman, Lynch Incidents: Jessica Lynch's Opening

Truth to power

Racist Wingnut Radio Led by Rush

How does Rush get away with this stuff when Imus gets driven off the air?

Terror attacks up 29%, report says

McClatchy Washington Bureau 04/27/2007 Terror attacks up 29%, report says: "WASHINGTON - A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday. "

The annual report's release comes amid a bitter feud between the White House and Congress over funding for U.S. troops in Iraq and a deadline favored by Democrats to begin a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top aides earlier this week had considered postponing or downplaying the release of this year's edition of the terrorism report, officials in several agencies and on Capitol Hill said.

Ultimately, they decided to issue the report on or near the congressionally mandated deadline of Monday, the officials said.

"We're proceeding in normal fashion with the final review of this and expect it to be released early next week," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said.

A half-dozen U.S. officials with knowledge of the report's contents or the debate surrounding it agreed to discuss those topics on the condition they not be identified because of the extreme political sensitivities surrounding the war and the report.

Based on data compiled by the U.S. intelligence community's National Counterterrorism Center, the report says there were 14,338 terrorist attacks last year, up 29 percent from 11,111 attacks in 2005.
Forty-five percent of the attacks were in Iraq.

Worldwide, there were about 5,800 terrorist attacks that resulted in at least one fatality, also up from 2005.

The figures for Iraq and elsewhere are limited to attacks on noncombatants and don't include strikes against U.S. troops.

Even after this year's report was largely completed and approved, Rice and her aides this week called for a further round of review, in part to avoid repeating embarrassing missteps of recent years in the report's release, officials said. The review process is being led by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, formerly the nation's intelligence czar.

The U.S. intelligence community is said to be preparing a separate, classified report on terrorist "safe havens" worldwide, and officials have debated whether Iraq meets that definition.

The report can be expected to be used as ammunition for both sides in the domestic battle over the Iraq war.

President Bush and his aides routinely call Iraq the "central front" in Bush's war on terrorism and likely will say that the preponderance of attacks there and in Afghanistan prove their point.

But critics say the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have worsened the terrorist threat.

The contention by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that al-Qaida terrorists were in Iraq and allied with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the invasion has been disproved on numerous fronts.

In September, a Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Saddam rejected pleas for assistance from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and tried to capture another terrorist whose presence in Iraq is often cited by Cheney, the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaida to provide material or operational support," the Senate report said.

Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA officer who also worked in counterterrorism at the State Department, said that while the new report would show major increases in attacks last year in Iraq and Afghanistan, it could chart reductions in mass casualty attacks in the rest of the world.

"The good news is ... we're seeing verifiable and drastic reductions," he said.

Among the major strikes were bombings in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Dahab on April 24, which killed 23 people and injured more than 60, and aboard trains in Mumbai, India, that left more than 200 dead and in excess of 700 wounded on July 11.

In 2004, the State Department was forced to correct a first version of the report that the administration had used to tout progress in Bush's war on terror. The original version had undercounted the number of people killed in terrorist attacks in 2003, putting it at less than half of the actual number.

In 2005, the department was again accused of playing politics with the report when it decided not to publish the document after U.S. officials concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985.

The outcry forced Rice to drop that plan and publish the report.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Army: IED attacks up, but not casualties - Military News, Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times

Army: IED attacks up, but not casualties - Military News, Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times: "Iraqi insurgents are launching four times as many attacks with improvised explosive devices than in 2003, but U.S. casualties from the roadside bombs have not risen — due in part to devices that jam the radio signals that trigger the weapons, Pentagon officials say."

“We have defeated some of their ways of detonating IEDs,” said Christine Devries, spokeswoman for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Office. “We are working on protecting every vehicle that leaves a forward base with jammers.”

Only one in five IED attacks kills or injures U.S. troops, said Devries. She defined an “IED attack” as the emplacement of a roadside bomb, whether it explodes or is prevented from doing so by electronic jamming or physical means.

She declined to provide exact casualty figures.

Statistics compiled by Defense News show that 224 U.S. Army soldiers died in IED attacks in Iraq from August 2003 to August 2004, while more than 425 have been killed in the past 12 months. Comparable figures for other service branches were not available.

Devries said her IED casualty figures, which include wounded as well as killed, show little total increase between 2003 and 2006.

She did say that about one in nine troops injured by an IED dies. That would suggest, for one thing, that more than 3,800 Army soldiers were hurt by roadside bombs in the past year.

IEDs have grown more powerful as the war has gone on, with daisy-chained charges and explosively formed penetrators adding to their effectiveness.

Devries said jamming is just part of the effort to protect troops from IEDs.

“Jamming is one solution. There is no silver bullet. The best approach is an offensive that goes after the bomb-maker network,” Devries said. “The enemy is adaptive, as we get good at defeating one of his tactics, he moves to something else. But he does not leave anything behind, so we try to anticipate his next move and develop a countermeasure beforehand.”

One jammer manufacturer said demand has soared in the past year.

“We are seeing lot of customized applications where customers want them specially configured to vehicles,” said Elan Jamil, marketing manager with Homeland Security Strategies, a New Rochelle, N.Y.-based firm that has supplied such jammers to the Pentagon and U.S. government contractors since 1979.
“People want to be able to control which frequencies they jam,” especially because they “might want to communicate using the same type of technology that they may be jamming,” Jamil said.

[bth: this spokesperson is really playing it loose with the facts. The number of attacks doubled in the lsat 12 months. The increases in armor have been critical in reducing casualties per attack. It has also been critical in shifting the number of wounded up and the number of dead down proportionately. At one point a couple of years ago 40% of the attacks were resulting in injuries or death with 2.4 hurt or killed per successful incident. The use of armor dramatically increases survival as the plasma blast often kills one but does not hurt the others in the vehicle. Jammers have largely been worked around for the last 12 months. They essentially became ineffective after about 3 months as detonation chord, wire, pressure plates came back in vogue. ... Leaving 8 million or so unrecovered land mines and hundreds of weapons depots unguarded even to this day has probably given the insurgents a permanent and unbeatable advantage. They can dig up a land mine and place it for about $150 while the cost of armoring vehicles in defense has skyrocketed. We face financial attrition and defeat without a better plan.]

7/7 ‘mastermind’ is seized in Iraq

7/7 ‘mastermind’ is seized in Iraq-News-World-Iraq-TimesOnline: "The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the Americans. "

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former major in Saddam Hussein’s army, was apprehended as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran and was transferred this week to the “high-value detainee programme” at Guantanamo Bay.

Abd al-Hadi was taken into CIA custody last year, it emerged from US intelligence sources yesterday, in a move which suggests that he was interrogated for months in a “ghost prison” before being transferred to the internment camp in Cuba.

Abd al-Hadi, 45, was regarded as one of al-Qaeda’s most experienced, most intelligent and most ruthless commanders. Senior counter-terrorism sources told The Times that he was the man who, in 2003, identified Britain as the key battleground for exporting al-Qaeda’s holy war to Europe. ...

[bth: what is intriguing here is that he was in Iran for one thing and that he was captured last year for another. I don't blame the military for keeping this underwraps but what I've found intriguing is how the Pentagon or the White House times the release of this information - just after Petraeus was on the Hill, just after the President decides not to re-evaluate troop levels until September and just after the Congress passed a funding bill the president will veto. In other words, the timing of the informations release tells wonders about what the DOD and White House pundits are thinking or fearing.]

RedOwl sensor on Pakbot
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Muslims Believe US Seeks to Undermine Islam

World Public Opinion: "

Majorities Want US Forces Out of Islamic Countries
And Approve of Attacks on US Troops"

Large Majorities Agree With Many Goals of Al Qaeda
But Oppose Attacks on Civilians

Most Support Enhancing Role of Islam in Their Society,But Also Favor Globalization and Democracy

An in-depth poll of four major Muslim countries has found that in all of them large majorities believe that undermining Islam is a key goal of US foreign policy. Most want US military forces out of the Middle East and many approve of attacks on US troops there.

Islamic madrassa student Muhammad Faiza Rehman, 8, at the Lal Mosque April 2, 2007, in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Most respondents have mixed feelings about al Qaeda. Large majorities agree with many of its goals, but believe that terrorist attacks on civilians are contrary to Islam.

There is strong support for enhancing the role of Islam in all of the countries polled, through such measures as the imposition of sharia (Islamic law). This does not mean that they want to isolate their societies from outside influences: Most view globalization positively and favor democracy and freedom of religion.

These findings are from surveys in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia conducted from December 2006 to February, 2007 by with support from the START Consortium at the University of Maryland.

Large majorities across all four countries believe the United States seeks to “weaken and divide the Islamic world.” On average 79 percent say they perceive this as a US goal, ranging from 73 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan to 92 percent in Egypt. Equally large numbers perceive that the United States is trying to maintain “control over the oil resources of the Middle East” (average 79%). Strong majorities (average 64%) even believe it is a US goal to “spread Christianity in the region.”

“While US leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the Islamic world clearly perceive the US as being at war with Islam,” said Steven Kull, editor of

Consistent with this concern, large majorities in all countries (average 74%) support the goal of getting the United States to “remove its bases and military forces from all Islamic countries,” ranging from 64 percent in Indonesia to 92 percent in Egypt.

Substantial numbers also favor attacks on US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the Persian Gulf. Across the four countries polled approximately half support such attacks in each location, while three in ten are opposed. But there is substantial variation between countries: Support is strongest in Egypt, where at least eight in ten approve of attacking US troops in the region. A majority of Moroccans also support targeting US forces, whether stationed in the Persian Gulf (52%) or fighting in Iraq (68%). Pakistanis are divided about attacks on the American military—many do not answer or express mixed feelings—while Indonesians oppose them.

However, respondents roundly reject attacks on civilians. Asked about politically-motivated attacks on civilians, such as bombings or assassinations, majorities in all countries—usually overwhelming majorities—take the strongest position offered by saying such violence cannot be justified at all. More than three out of four Indonesians (84%), Pakistanis (81%), and Egyptians (77%) take this position, as well as 57 percent of Moroccans (an additional 19 percent of Moroccans say such attacks can only be “weakly justified”).

Attitudes toward Al Qaeda are complex. On average, only three in ten view Osama bin Laden positively. Many respondents express mixed feelings about bin Laden and his followers and many others decline to answer.

There is strong disapproval of attacks by “groups that use violence against civilians, such as al Qaeda.”

Large majorities in Egypt (88%), Indonesia (65%) and Morocco (66%) agree that such groups “are violating the principles of Islam.” Pakistanis are divided, however, with many not answering.

But there is also uncertainty about whether al Qaeda actually conducts such attacks. On average less than one in four believes al Qaeda was responsible for September 11th attacks. Pakistanis are the most skeptical—only 3 percent think al Qaeda did it. There is no consensus about who is responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington; the most common answer is “don’t know.”

Most significantly, large majorities approve of many of al Qaeda’s principal goals. Large majorities in all countries (average 70 percent or higher) support such goals as: “stand up to Americans and affirm the dignity of the Islamic people,” “push the US to remove its bases and its military forces from all Islamic countries,” and “pressure the United States to not favor Israel.”

Equally large majorities agree with goals that involve expanding the role of Islam in their society. On average, about three out of four agree with seeking to “require Islamic countries to impose a strict application of sharia,” and to “keep Western values out of Islamic countries.” Two-thirds would even like to “unify all Islamic counties into a single Islamic state or caliphate.”

But this does not appear to mean that the publics in these Muslim countries want to isolate themselves from the larger world. Asked how they feel about “the world becoming more connected through greater economic trade and faster communication,” majorities in all countries say it is a good thing (average 75%). While wary of Western values, overall 67 percent agree that “a democratic political system” is a good way to govern their country and 82 percent agree that in their country “people of any religion should be free to worship according to their own beliefs.”

The surveys were conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007 using in-home interviews. In Morocco (1,000 interviews), Indonesia (1,141 interviews), and Pakistan (1,243 interviews) national probability samples were conducted covering both urban and rural areas. However, Pakistani findings reported here are based only upon urban respondents (611 interviews); rural respondents were unfamiliar with many of the issues in the survey. In Egypt, the sample (1,000 interviews) was an urban sample drawn probabilistically from seven governorates. Sample sizes of 1,000 – 1,141 have confidence intervals of +/- 3 percentage points; a sample size of 611 has a confidence interval of +/-4 percentage points.

[bth: stunning polling numbers. only 25% believe al-Qaeda did 9-11 and less then 3% of Pakistanis believe this. What incredible ignorance - willful or not - one sees a clear need for the US to get a facts based information stream going into these countries.]
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Karzai `losing war' on Taliban: Pakistan - News - Karzai `losing war' on Taliban: Pakistan: "MADRID–Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf accused the Afghan government of 'doing nothing to fight terrorism' and of 'losing the war' against the Taliban, in remarks published yesterday."

"Those who do nothing against terrorism, like (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, are also the ones who criticize those who are fighting, like us," Musharraf told the daily El Pais during a visit to Spain.

He also denied accusations from Karzai that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mulla Mohammad Omar were in Pakistan, saying the two were "probably" holed up in Afghanistan.

"Those who say that the ISI (Pakistani military intelligence) helps the Taliban because we want a weak Afghanistan are liars," Musharraf said.

"They say these things to hide their shame because they are losing the war against the Taliban."
The comments set the stage for a stormy meeting between Musharraf and Karzai, two U.S. key allies, in Turkey next week.

Afghan and U.S. officials have blamed Pakistan for failing to prevent Taliban-led militants from attacking U.S., NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan from their bases in Pakistan's tribal areas along their 2,400-kilometre border.

Islamabad has 80,000 troops stationed on the Afghan-Pakistani border and has also started putting up a fence on parts of its northwest frontier to stop Taliban fighters sneaking across.

Kabul opposes the fence because it disputes the current border with Pakistan, but Islamabad says it has no choice if it is to avoid repeated calls by the international community to stop Taliban rebels based in Pakistan from mounting attacks in Afghanistan.
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Quantum cryptography is hacked . "A team of researchers has, for the first time, hacked into a network protected by quantum encryption"

Quantum cryptography uses the laws of quantum mechanics to encode data securely.

Most researchers consider such quantum networks to be nearly 100% uncrackable.

But a group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge was able to 'listen in' using a sort of quantum-mechanical wiretap.

The trick allowed them to tease out about half of the data, in a way that couldn't be detected by those transmitting or receiving the message.

The group admits that their hack isn't yet capable of eavesdropping on a real network.

"It is not something that currently could attack a commercial system," says Jeffrey Shapiro, a physicist at MIT and one of the authors on the study.

But they expect that one day it will be able to do so, if quantum encryption isn't adequately adapted to stop such hackers from succeeding....
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Ford says April auto industry sales "terrible" 

Ford says April auto industry sales "terrible" Business News "DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Friday that U.S. auto industry sales to date in April were 'terrible' as consumer confidence was hit by a slow housing market and rising gas prices."

"This month is terrible," Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas said in an interview. "We are not even close to where we expected to be in April."

Pipas said industry volume appeared to be down 10 percent to date before seasonal adjustment, but expected Ford's U.S. retail share to hold steady around 13 percent.

Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Castner Gold Star Parents
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US troops seize gang 'smuggling bombs from Iran'

US troops seize gang 'smuggling bombs from Iran': "US forces on Friday detained four members of a gang suspected of smuggling armour-piercing bombs from Iran to Iraq and sending back militants for 'terrorist training', the military said. "

A statement from US command in Iraq said the suspects were picked up in an early morning raid on the east Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, a known stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

"The individuals targeted during the raid are suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq," it said.

The EFP is a form of roadside bomb in which the detonation of an explosive charge inside a steel tube causes a copper disk to deform into a fist-sized chunk of supersonic molten metal that can scythe through armoured vehicles.

American commanders say the design is exclusively Iranian and in January alleged that at least 170 US troops had been killed by EFPs since May 2004.

The statement also said that the gang had sent "militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training."
"Intelligence reports also indicate the secret cell has ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq," it added.

The announcement came one day after the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, accused Iranian Revolutionary Guards of supporting a Mahdi Army splinter group implicated in the kidnap and murder of five GIs.
Since January, US forces have been holding five alleged members of the Guards' covert Qods Force after seizing them in a raid on an Iranian government office in the northern Iraqi City of Arbil.
Tehran denies that its agents are involved in the Iraqi conflict.

[bth: I can say without hesitation that these designs are not exclusive to Iran. They are made by Hezbollah and they are made in Iraq where multiple EFP production sites have been raided.]

Testimony of Maj. Gerald Burke to HASC Subcommittee on Oversight regarding Iraqi Police Training

[bth: Jerry if a first rate person and law enforcement officer. His comments can be relied upon. Here are his prepared statements delivered this week to the HASC Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Can you imagine a US occupation plan so screwed up that we sent into Iraq only 6 law enforcement personnel in May 2003 to straighten out the Iraqi judiciary? Its lucky that these guys came out alive.]

House Armed Services Committee
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Gerald F. Burke
Major, Massachusetts State Police (Retired)
Former Senior Advisor, Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Iraqi Police Service

April 25, 2007

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

My name is Gerald Burke.

In May 2003, I was a member of a six-person team of police executives sent to Baghdad, Iraq, by the United States Departments of Justice (ICITAP) and State (INL). The police team was part of a larger criminal justice team including corrections and legal executives. That assignment in Iraq would last until June 2004. Initially, our team conducted a Needs Assessment of the Iraqi Police Service (IPS) for DoJ and DoS.

In March 2005, I returned to Baghdad with the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office as a National Security Advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Interior. That assignment lasted until February 2006.

Based upon my professional training, education and experience, and particularly, my two years in Iraq, I have made several observations and conclusions.

SUMMARY: It is my opinion, that, despite the best efforts of thousands of American Police Officers over the last four years, and the ultimate sacrifice of twelve American Police Officers, the police-training program in Iraq has been a complete failure. If we are lucky, and if the Iraqi people are lucky, we may have an opportunity at the request of a new Iraq government to do it all over – and to do it right the next time. If we do not get an opportunity to do it over again in Iraq, then we should be better prepared for the next country we are involved with – and there will be, eventually, another country.

During my time in Baghdad I worked closely with the United States and British military, particularly the Military Police, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office. More importantly, I worked very closely, virtually everyday, with the Iraqi Police Service (IPS).

First, and foremost, I have nothing but praise for the military. Their war-making capabilities are simply awesome. In particular, I want to compliment the 18th Military Police Brigade and its commanding officer at the time, Colonel Teddy Spain. The 18th MP Brigade was the quickest to recognized the transition from war-fighters to stability and reconstruction operations. I will talk more about the US Military later.

Second, and perhaps the most obvious and undisputed, is the complete failure and embarrassment of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). By almost all accounts, military, civilian, the media and even our Coalition partners, CPA was a disaster. CPA was never able to get ahead of the curve of events. CPA’s mistakes have been well documented from the broad de-Ba’athification process to the disbanding of the Iraqi Army. The most serious mistake made by CPA in my opinion was the process by which the current government was elected. The people of Iraq did not vote for local representatives to be their representative in a national legislature. The people for for slates of candidates chosen by the political parties. Technically, this system is close to a closed party-list proportional representation system. In a fledgling democracy this system strengthens the largest, best known, most popular political parties and not necessarily the will of the people.

Third, simply as an American citizen, I am extremely disappointed at the performance of many of our General Officers, our various intelligence agencies and our Diplomatic Corps.

Next, was our – the US Government’s – failure to recognize the importance of security in the immediate post conflict environment, in particular, our failure to support the civilian rule-of-law. In Haiti in 1994, we recognized the importance of the rule-of-law during Operation Uphold Democracy when our police trainers wore t-shirts with the expression “Justice – the Foundation of Democracy”.

It should be noted at this point, that, in my opinion, most Federal laws, Rules and Regulations, and Policies and Procedures for the hiring and contracting of personnel and the acquisition of supplies and equipment were serious obstacles to accomplishing the mission and unnecessarily put peoples’ lives at risk – including my own.

Sometimes I think that if all the rules were followed we would still be waiting for armored vehicles.

By July 2003, the Department of Defense, CPA and the police-training mission had fallen irretrievable behind in the key management areas of planning, organizing, staffing, budgeting, coordinating their efforts and reporting their progress.

These comments notwithstanding, there are many dedicated and brave members of both INL and ICITAP who have risked their lives for this country. At the risk of not mentioning some of these people, I would like to recognize two Americans who I was honored to work with in Iraq: Mr. Robert Gifford of INL and Mr. Robert Carr Trevillian of ICITAP. These men truly understand the need for civilian rule-of-law, especially in post-conflict and failed state environments.

Our original team developed a recommendation for 6,000 international civilian police trainers and advisors. While this recommendation was quickly reduced to 1,500 by powers-that-be above our pay grade, it took six months before the first 24 civilian trainers and advisors arrived from the US. Twenty-four trainers and advisors for a nation of 25 million! A year after our report was submitted there still were less than 100 civilian police trainers and advisors in Iraq.

The legislative process in Congress may have caused part of this delay. Part of this delay may have been caused by the bifurcated nature of our international police missions. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the Department of State and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) of the Department of Justice both share responsibility for international police missions.

INL is responsible for the advisors who are on the streets and visiting police stations every day in Iraq. These advisors are hired on the basis of a low bid contract currently awarded to Dyncorp, I believe. ICITAP is responsible for the classroom trainers working in academies across Iraq. These trainers are hired on the basis of a cost plus contract previously awarded to SAIC but now held by MPRI. This division of responsibility also leads to a number of operational problems as well.

My recommendation is that all trainers and advisors should be hired on the basis of a cost plus contract to ensure the highest possible quality of personnel.

In Iraq, the funding for civilian police trainers and advisors was not available until after October 2003: eight months after the start of the war. In fact, funding was even scarce for our advance team: I worked under five or six contracts during my first tour as funds were transferred to keep us in country.

As the insurgent activity increased in the fall of 2003 with attacks on embassies, the United Nations, the Red Cross, Iraqi police stations, and even our hotel, there was widespread recognition that the recruiting, training and deploying Iraqi Police was failing. The failure to deploy civilian police trainers and advisors in a timely manner delayed the recruitment, training, equipping and deployment of a civilian Iraqi law enforcement agency.

The US Military was directed to help with the process. By sheer number of personnel, the US Military began to dominate the process and to accomplish the task. In December 2003 the first class of IPS recruits was sent to the Jordan International Police Training Center. The first IPS recruit class entered the Baghdad Academy in January 2004.

By March 2004, the US Government recognized that only the US Military had the personnel, logistical and transportation assets to accelerate the process. The Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT), under the command of a two star Major General, was created to recruit, train, equip and sustain the IPS. (See the United States Institute for Peace, Special Report 137).
At this point the distinction between an Iraqi military force and an Iraqi civilian rule-of-law police service became almost interchangeable with the use of the term of the Iraqi Security Force. It was at this time that input or control of the police training by civilian police experts was significantly reduced.

Across Iraq, American soldiers and Marines were pressed into service to be police trainers and advisors. These soldiers and Marines occasionally came from Military Police units but more often than not they were artillerymen, transportation corps, quartermasters or any other available units.

One unfortunate side effect of the militarization of the police training mission was that the soldiers and Marines trained best at what they knew best: military skills and tactics. Issues such as the rule-of-law, human rights and treatment of suspects and prisoners, the concept of probable cause under Iraqi Law and policing in a democracy received less emphasis.

In early 2004, partly due to the inability of the Iraqi Police Service to respond to insurgent activity, the Iraq Ministry of Interior and the US Military organized “third force” paramilitary Public Order Battalions such as the Special Police Commandos. These Battalions have now grown to Division level strength and have been recruited en masse from former Republican Guard units and the Islamic fundamentalist Badr Brigade.

These Special Police, recently renamed the National Police, receive training only from the US Military and not civilian police trainers and advisors. There have been numerous allegations from Iraqis and non-government organizations that these Special (National) Police are functioning as death squads committing human rights abuses such as murder, torture and kidnapping. Some American military and police advisors sarcastically refer to these Special Police as our “Salvadorian Option”. Some refer to them simply as death squads.

I want to be careful that my comments – my criticism – of the militarization of the police training mission is not construed as a blanket criticism of the US Military. The US Military was simply doing its best – while undermanned and under equipped for its primary mission – to fill a void left by other US Government agencies.

I also want to make the distinction between the career Iraq Police and the ad hoc Special Police. The IPS pre-dated Saddam and was created in 1920 by the British. Saddam did not particularly trust the IPS and, over the years, created a number of secret police and muhabarat organizations that usurped much of the authority of the IPS.

Candidates for the IPS Officer Corps were generally well educated and not necessarily well connected to the regime. Many families sought to get their sons into the police to avoid them getting drafted into the army. This was particularly true during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980’s and the Gulf War. Individual officers prided themselves on their higher education. Many of the commanders had attended college outside of Iraq, particularly before the sanctions.
It appeared that most of the human rights abuses such as mass murders and ethnic cleansing were conducted by secret police and muhabarat organizations. In the last years of the regime the IPS worked in fear of crossing these other organizations. The IPS developed a firehouse mentality where they would not leave the police stations for proactive patrols but instead would wait for a call from a regime official or an investigative judge.

It is my opinion; the United States missed a brief window of opportunity in the late spring/early summer 2003 to provide a more secure environment for the reconstruction effort. I recognize that even if the IPS had been quickly reconstituted into an effective police service they may not have been able to have a significant impact on the insurgency, but combined with a reconstituted Iraqi Army, they may have been better able to secure weapons and ammunition depots and the borders with Iran and Syria.

If I may be so bold as to make recommendations based on my observations:

An insurgency by any definition, and most especially the insurgency in Iraq, is unconventional warfare. In many ways, unconventional warfare is similar to organized crime, drug cartels or gangs. Conventional combat arms commanders in the US Military have demonstrated an inability to understand and adapt to the unconventional methods of the insurgency. Command of the military response to the insurgency in Iraq should be transferred to counterinsurgency experts in the military.

Our Army is too small and fully committed in Iraq and elsewhere for the war on terror and other missions. We have 10 Divisions (excluding Reserves and Guard units) and we need at least 12, if not 14, Divisions. Additionally, at least one of these Divisions should be specially designed as a ‘Peacekeeping’ Division. Such a Peacekeeping Division would be strong in Civil Affairs, Judge Advocate, Medical, Transportation, Logistical, Engineer and Military Police units.

The State Department needs to develop plans for large scale, multidiscipline, rapid responses to failed state and post conflict environments. The State Department needs to have its own personnel, logistics and transportation assets outside of the US Military. Despite the rhetoric of the importance of the police-training mission, in a country where ground transportation is extremely dangerous, CPATT was never given its own helicopters for travel to Iraq’s eighteen provinces.

Among the disciplines needed are justice experts, public utility experts, public health experts, primary and secondary education experts, labor relations experts, public transportation infrastructure experts and political systems experts. Some of these experts may come from other US agencies such as the Department of Justice.

Finally: The situation in Iraq is extremely fragile. Thousands of patriotic Iraqis have voluntarily come forward to work as interpreters and staffers with Americans. Many of these Iraqis risk their lives every day to continue to work with Americans. Many of these Iraqis, including several friends of mine, have been assassinated for working with Americans. While it is very unlikely that we may have to evacuate the Embassy and the Green Zone, if we evacuate we must not leave these people banging on the gates of our Embassy – again.
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Bill Moyers Journal . Transcripts | PBS

Bill Moyers Journal . Transcripts | PBS: "BILL MOYERS: Four years ago this spring the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster. The story of how high officials misled the country has been told. But they couldn't have done it on their own; they needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on.

Since then thousands of people have died, and many are dying to this day. Yet the story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television. As the war rages into its fifth year, we look back at those months leading up to the invasion, when our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war.

Our report was produced and directed by Kathleen Hughes and edited by Alison Amron. "...
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Saudis foil 'air attack plotters'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saudis foil 'air attack plotters': "Saudi Arabia says it has foiled a plot by militants to carry out suicide air attacks on oil installations and military bases. "

Foreign nationals were among 172 terror suspects held in a series of raids, the interior ministry said on state TV.

Large amounts of weapons and $32.4m (£16.21m) in cash were also seized.

The Saudi authorities have been battling al-Qaeda since a wave of bombings and shootings rocked the kingdom in 2003.

The attacks in 2003 and since have claimed the lives of nearly 300 security personnel, militants and Saudi and foreign civilians.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the Saudis periodically claim to have crushed the insurgency but although they have shut down part of the network the persistence of the attacks suggests the problem is deep-rooted.

'Deviant group'

The Saudi authorities said the fresh plots it had foiled were at an advanced stage.

"Some [militants] have begun training on the use of weapons, and some were sent to other countries to study aviation in preparation to use them to carry out terrorist operations inside the kingdom," a ministry statement read out on state TV channel al-Ekhbaria said.

Some of the military targets were outside the kingdom, it added, without specifying where.

The station broadcast footage of various types of weapons, including plastic explosives, ammunition cartridges, handguns and rifles wrapped in plastic sheeting, which were said to have been buried in the desert.

Interior ministry spokesman Gen Mansur al-Turki said the suspects were "linked to foreign elements... not necessarily directly to al-Qaeda, but you know, there are many al-Qaeda and terrorism activities going on".

"The deviant group... takes advantage of trouble spots outside the kingdom in planning, recruitment and training," Gen Turki said, apparently referring to Iraq.

He added: "Some individuals were training to fly to carry out terrorist attacks... Some of the cells arrested planned to target oil installations and refineries."

Gen Turki said there were also plans to attack a prison and release the inmates.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi himself, has called for attacks against the oil-rich kingdom because of its close ties to the West.

Our correspondent, Roger Hardy, says many ordinary Saudis are appalled by the group's violent methods but some of the disaffected young or from part of the powerful Wahhabi religious establishment have offered support.

Most of the 19 al-Qaeda militants who carried out the suicide plane attacks in the US in September 2001 were Saudis.

[bth: that is a whole lot of cash $32 million.]

Pentagon: al-Qaida Operative Captured

Pentagon: al-Qaida Operative Captured: "WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon announced Friday the capture of one of al-Qaida's most senior and most experienced operatives, an Iraqi who was trying to return to his native country when he was captured. "....

[bth: announcements like this are timed to meet US domestic needs. It isn't said when or where this man was captured. My guess is that it was months ago. The announcement seems to be timed to the passage of the congressional legislation and the impending president's veto.]
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Iran backed Shi'ite group accused in attack - U.S.

Reuters AlertNet - Iran backed Shi'ite group accused in attack - U.S.: "...Petraeus said documents captured from members of the Shi'ite group led by Iraqi Qais Khazaali, a senior aide to anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, contained records of attacks on coalition forces that could be used to justify claims for financial payments from sponsors."

"Our sense is that these records were kept so that they could be handed in to whoever it is that is financing them. And there's no question, again, that Iranian financing is taking place through the Qods Force," he said.


U.S. forces announced in March the capture of Khazaali, his brother, Laith Khazaali, and other members of the groups in connection with the January attack.

Qais Khazaali is a former spokesman for Sadr and more recently a senior aide to the cleric.

In the Jan. 20 attack, four of the U.S. soldiers were abducted from an Iraqi local government compound in what the U.S. military described as a sophisticated, well-rehearsed attack. Five Americans died in all.

The attackers spoke English, wore American-looking uniforms and carried U.S.-type weapons. They passed through Iraqi checkpoints to reach the provincial compound.

Petraeus said details of the planning, preparation, approval process and conduct of the attack were contained in a 22-page memorandum discovered on a computer captured with members of the Khazaali group.

"There are numerous document(s) which detailed a number of different attacks on coalition forces," he said.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was not safe to simply assume Iranian involvement in the attack as the Khazaali group appeared to have operated independently sometimes.

"They have two different agendas -- one agenda is working for the Iranians, one agenda is working for themselves," said the official. (Additional reporting by Andrew Gray)

Gifts to Landstuhl
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ARMED FORCES JOURNAL - A failure in generalship - May 2007

ARMED FORCES JOURNAL - A failure in generalship - May 2007:

[bth: this is a superb article and perhaps the only one I recall being written in recent years by an active duty military officer worth studying. My hat is off to Lt. Col. Paul Yingling from this Gold Star Father who has seen too many PFCs and Lance Corporals die in this war due to the lack of moral or civic courage from this country's senior officer corp.]

"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war. "

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

The Responsibilities of Generalship

Armies do not fight wars; nations fight wars. War is not a military activity conducted by soldiers, but rather a social activity that involves entire nations. Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz noted that passion, probability and policy each play their role in war. Any understanding of war that ignores one of these elements is fundamentally flawed.

The passion of the people is necessary to endure the sacrifices inherent in war. Regardless of the system of government, the people supply the blood and treasure required to prosecute war. The statesman must stir these passions to a level commensurate with the popular sacrifices required. When the ends of policy are small, the statesman can prosecute a conflict without asking the public for great sacrifice. Global conflicts such as World War II require the full mobilization of entire societies to provide the men and materiel necessary for the successful prosecution of war. The greatest error the statesman can make is to commit his nation to a great conflict without mobilizing popular passions to a level commensurate with the stakes of the conflict.

Popular passions are necessary for the successful prosecution of war, but cannot be sufficient. To prevail, generals must provide policymakers and the public with a correct estimation of strategic probabilities. The general is responsible for estimating the likelihood of success in applying force to achieve the aims of policy. The general describes both the means necessary for the successful prosecution of war and the ways in which the nation will employ those means. If the policymaker desires ends for which the means he provides are insufficient, the general is responsible for advising the statesman of this incongruence. The statesman must then scale back the ends of policy or mobilize popular passions to provide greater means. If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results.

However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers. War is a social activity undertaken on behalf of the nation; Augustine counsels us that the only purpose of war is to achieve a better peace. The choice of making war to achieve a better peace is inherently a value judgment in which the statesman must decide those interests and beliefs worth killing and dying for. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise — the estimation of strategic probabilities.

The correct estimation of strategic possibilities can be further subdivided into the preparation for war and the conduct of war. Preparation for war consists in the raising, arming, equipping and training of forces. The conduct of war consists of both planning for the use of those forces and directing those forces in operations.

To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises. Of course, not even the most skilled general can visualize precisely how future wars will be fought. According to British military historian and soldier Sir Michael Howard, "In structuring and preparing an army for war, you can be clear that you will not get it precisely right, but the important thing is not to be too far wrong, so that you can put it right quickly."

The most tragic error a general can make is to assume without much reflection that wars of the future will look much like wars of the past. Following World War I, French generals committed this error, assuming that the next war would involve static battles dominated by firepower and fixed fortifications. Throughout the interwar years, French generals raised, equipped, armed and trained the French military to fight the last war. In stark contrast, German generals spent the interwar years attempting to break the stalemate created by firepower and fortifications. They developed a new form of war — the blitzkrieg — that integrated mobility, firepower and decentralized tactics. The German Army did not get this new form of warfare precisely right. After the 1939 conquest of Poland, the German Army undertook a critical self-examination of its operations. However, German generals did not get it too far wrong either, and in less than a year had adapted their tactics for the invasion of France.

After visualizing the conditions of future combat, the general is responsible for explaining to civilian policymakers the demands of future combat and the risks entailed in failing to meet those demands. Civilian policymakers have neither the expertise nor the inclination to think deeply about strategic probabilities in the distant future. Policymakers, especially elected representatives, face powerful incentives to focus on near-term challenges that are of immediate concern to the public. Generating military capability is the labor of decades. If the general waits until the public and its elected representatives are immediately concerned with national security threats before finding his voice, he has waited too long. The general who speaks too loudly of preparing for war while the nation is at peace places at risk his position and status. However, the general who speaks too softly places at risk the security of his country.

Failing to visualize future battlefields represents a lapse in professional competence, but seeing those fields clearly and saying nothing is an even more serious lapse in professional character. Moral courage is often inversely proportional to popularity and this observation in nowhere more true than in the profession of arms. The history of military innovation is littered with the truncated careers of reformers who saw gathering threats clearly and advocated change boldly. A military professional must possess both the physical courage to face the hazards of battle and the moral courage to withstand the barbs of public scorn. On and off the battlefield, courage is the first characteristic of generalship.

Failures of Generalship in Vietnam

America's defeat in Vietnam is the most egregious failure in the history of American arms. America's general officer corps refused to prepare the Army to fight unconventional wars, despite ample indications that such preparations were in order. Having failed to prepare for such wars, America's generals sent our forces into battle without a coherent plan for victory. Unprepared for war and lacking a coherent strategy, America lost the war and the lives of more than 58,000 service members.

Following World War II, there were ample indicators that America's enemies would turn to insurgency to negate our advantages in firepower and mobility. The French experiences in Indochina and Algeria offered object lessons to Western armies facing unconventional foes. These lessons were not lost on the more astute members of America's political class. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of "another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him." In response to these threats, Kennedy undertook a comprehensive program to prepare America's armed forces for counterinsurgency.

Despite the experience of their allies and the urging of their president, America's generals failed to prepare their forces for counterinsurgency. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Decker assured his young president, "Any good soldier can handle guerrillas." Despite Kennedy's guidance to the contrary, the Army viewed the conflict in Vietnam in conventional terms. As late as 1964, Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated flatly that "the essence of the problem in Vietnam is military." While the Army made minor organizational adjustments at the urging of the president, the generals clung to what Andrew Krepinevich has called "the Army concept," a vision of warfare focused on the destruction of the enemy's forces.

Having failed to visualize accurately the conditions of combat in Vietnam, America's generals prosecuted the war in conventional terms. The U.S. military embarked on a graduated attrition strategy intended to compel North Vietnam to accept a negotiated peace. The U.S. undertook modest efforts at innovation in Vietnam. Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), spearheaded by the State Department's "Blowtorch" Bob Kromer, was a serious effort to address the political and economic causes of the insurgency. The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program (CAP) was an innovative approach to population security. However, these efforts are best described as too little, too late. Innovations such as CORDS and CAP never received the resources necessary to make a large-scale difference. The U.S. military grudgingly accepted these innovations late in the war, after the American public's commitment to the conflict began to wane.

America's generals not only failed to develop a strategy for victory in Vietnam, but also remained largely silent while the strategy developed by civilian politicians led to defeat. As H.R. McMaster noted in "Dereliction of Duty," the Joint Chiefs of Staff were divided by service parochialism and failed to develop a unified and coherent recommendation to the president for prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion. Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson estimated in 1965 that victory would require as many as 700,000 troops for up to five years. Commandant of the Marine Corps Wallace Greene made a similar estimate on troop levels. As President Johnson incrementally escalated the war, neither man made his views known to the president or Congress. President Johnson made a concerted effort to conceal the costs and consequences of Vietnam from the public, but such duplicity required the passive consent of America's generals.

Having participated in the deception of the American people during the war, the Army chose after the war to deceive itself. In "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife," John Nagl argued that instead of learning from defeat, the Army after Vietnam focused its energies on the kind of wars it knew how to win — high-technology conventional wars. An essential contribution to this strategy of denial was the publication of "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War," by Col. Harry Summers. Summers, a faculty member of the U.S. Army War College, argued that the Army had erred by not focusing enough on conventional warfare in Vietnam, a lesson the Army was happy to hear. Despite having been recently defeated by an insurgency, the Army slashed training and resources devoted to counterinsurgency.

By the early 1990s, the Army's focus on conventional war-fighting appeared to have been vindicated. During the 1980s, the U.S. military benefited from the largest peacetime military buildup in the nation's history. High-technology equipment dramatically increased the mobility and lethality of our ground forces. The Army's National Training Center honed the Army's conventional war-fighting skills to a razor's edge. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the demise of the Soviet Union and the futility of direct confrontation with the U.S. Despite the fact the U.S. supported insurgencies in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola to hasten the Soviet Union's demise, the U.S. military gave little thought to counterinsurgency throughout the 1990s. America's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past — state-on-state conflicts against conventional forces. America's swift defeat of the Iraqi Army, the world's fourth-largest, in 1991 seemed to confirm the wisdom of the U.S. military's post-Vietnam reforms. But the military learned the wrong lessons from Operation Desert Storm. It continued to prepare for the last war, while its future enemies prepared for a new kind of war.

Failures of Generalship in Iraq

America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq. First, throughout the 1990s our generals failed to envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly. Second, America's generals failed to estimate correctly both the means and the ways necessary to achieve the aims of policy prior to beginning the war in Iraq. Finally, America's generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.

Despite paying lip service to "transformation" throughout the 1990s, America's armed forces failed to change in significant ways after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In "The Sling and the Stone," T.X. Hammes argues that the Defense Department's transformation strategy focuses almost exclusively on high-technology conventional wars. The doctrine, organizations, equipment and training of the U.S. military confirm this observation. The armed forces fought the global war on terrorism for the first five years with a counterinsurgency doctrine last revised in the Reagan administration. Despite engaging in numerous stability operations throughout the 1990s, the armed forces did little to bolster their capabilities for civic reconstruction and security force development. Procurement priorities during the 1990s followed the Cold War model, with significant funding devoted to new fighter aircraft and artillery systems. The most commonly used tactical scenarios in both schools and training centers replicated high-intensity interstate conflict. At the dawn of the 21st century, the U.S. is fighting brutal, adaptive insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, while our armed forces have spent the preceding decade having done little to prepare for such conflicts.

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise "Desert Crossing" demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.

After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success.

After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilization, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public. The Iraq Study Group concluded that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq." The ISG noted that "on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." Population security is the most important measure of effectiveness in counterinsurgency. For more than three years, America's generals continued to insist that the U.S. was making progress in Iraq. However, for Iraqi civilians, each year from 2003 onward was more deadly than the one preceding it. For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq. Moreover, America's generals have not explained clearly the larger strategic risks of committing so large a portion of the nation's deployable land power to a single theater of operations.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.

The Generals We Need

The most insightful examination of failed generalship comes from J.F.C. Fuller's "Generalship: Its Diseases and Their Cure." Fuller was a British major general who saw action in the first attempts at armored warfare in World War I. He found three common characteristics in great generals — courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness.

The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America's generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.

Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer's potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer's advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America's military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.

To improve the creative intelligence of our generals, Congress must change the officer promotion system in ways that reward adaptation and intellectual achievement. Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. They are also less wed to organizational norms and less influenced by organizational taboos. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices.

Congress should also modify the officer promotion system in ways that reward intellectual achievement. The Senate should examine the education and professional writing of nominees for three- and four-star billets as part of the confirmation process. The Senate would never confirm to the Supreme Court a nominee who had neither been to law school nor written legal opinions. However, it routinely confirms four-star generals who possess neither graduate education in the social sciences or humanities nor the capability to speak a foreign language. Senior general officers must have a vision of what future conflicts will look like and what capabilities the U.S. requires to prevail in those conflicts. They must possess the capability to understand and interact with foreign cultures. A solid record of intellectual achievement and fluency in foreign languages are effective indicators of an officer's potential for senior leadership.

To reward moral courage in our general officers, Congress must ask hard questions about the means and ways for war as part of its oversight responsibility. Some of the answers will be shocking, which is perhaps why Congress has not asked and the generals have not told. Congress must ask for a candid assessment of the money and manpower required over the next generation to prevail in the Long War. The money required to prevail may place fiscal constraints on popular domestic priorities. The quantity and quality of manpower required may call into question the viability of the all-volunteer military. Congress must re-examine the allocation of existing resources, and demand that procurement priorities reflect the most likely threats we will face. Congress must be equally rigorous in ensuring that the ways of war contribute to conflict termination consistent with the aims of national policy. If our operations produce more enemies than they defeat, no amount of force is sufficient to prevail. Current oversight efforts have proved inadequate, allowing the executive branch, the services and lobbyists to present information that is sometimes incomplete, inaccurate or self-serving. Exercising adequate oversight will require members of Congress to develop the expertise necessary to ask the right questions and display the courage to follow the truth wherever it leads them.

Finally, Congress must enhance accountability by exercising its little-used authority to confirm the retired rank of general officers. By law, Congress must confirm an officer who retires at three- or four-star rank. In the past this requirement has been pro forma in all but a few cases. A general who presides over a massive human rights scandal or a substantial deterioration in security ought to be retired at a lower rank than one who serves with distinction. A general who fails to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities ought to suffer the same penalty. As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders.

Mortal Danger

This article began with Frederick the Great's admonition to his officers to focus their energies on the larger aspects of war. The Prussian monarch's innovations had made his army the terror of Europe, but he knew that his adversaries were learning and adapting. Frederick feared that his generals would master his system of war without thinking deeply about the ever-changing nature of war, and in doing so would place Prussia's security at risk. These fears would prove prophetic. At the Battle of Valmy in 1792, Frederick's successors were checked by France's ragtag citizen army. In the fourteen years that followed, Prussia's generals assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like those of the past. In 1806, the Prussian Army marched lockstep into defeat and disaster at the hands of Napoleon at Jena. Frederick's prophecy had come to pass; Prussia became a French vassal.

Iraq is America's Valmy. America's generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand. They spent the years following the 1991 Gulf War mastering a system of war without thinking deeply about the ever changing nature of war. They marched into Iraq having assumed without much reflection that the wars of the future would look much like the wars of the past. Those few who saw clearly our vulnerability to insurgent tactics said and did little to prepare for these dangers. As at Valmy, this one debacle, however humiliating, will not in itself signal national disaster. The hour is late, but not too late to prepare for the challenges of the Long War. We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security. The power and the responsibility to identify such generals lie with the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not act, our Jena awaits us.
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Taliban take over south Afghan district NewsFlash - Taliban take over south Afghan district: "KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban militants have seized control of a district in eastern Afghanistan after an hours-long clash that killed five people, including the local mayor and his police chief, a senior official said Friday."

The Taliban takeover is an embarrassment to the Afghan government and its foreign backers, and shows how vulnerable remote areas remain despite the presence of some 47,000 U.S. and NATO troops.

Militants launched the attack Thursday evening on the Giro district of Ghazni province, setting fire to several buildings and cutting communication lines, said provincial deputy governor Kazim Allayer.

The district mayor and four policemen, including the police chief, were killed in a battle that lasted several hours, Allayer said. Police reinforcements have been sent to the area, Ghazni's deputy police chief Mohammad Zaman said.

Giro is about 200 miles east of northern Helmand province, where a large NATO operation is under way.

"Giro collapsed last night, captured by the Taliban after heavy fighting between the police and the Taliban," said Gen. Murad Ali, deputy regional corps commander of the Afghan army.

The Afghan army sent troops early Friday from Ghazni and Paktika to assist, Ali said.

NATO and the U.S.-led coalition said they were aware of the incident.

"The details are very sketchy right now. We're tracking it closely," said Maj. William Mitchell, a spokesman for the coalition.

After a winter lull in attacks, the Taliban have stepped up bombings and attacks in recent weeks, as NATO-led forces push forward with their biggest ever offensive in southern Afghanistan to root out militants in the opium-producing heartland of Helmand province.

Meanwhile in eastern Khost province, gunmen assassinated a criminal investigation policeman as he was driving Friday in Tani district, said provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Ayub.

A relative in the car also was killed, and the driver was wounded, Ayub said, adding that two suspects have been arrested. It was not immediately clear if it was a personal conflict or an insurgency attack.

In southern Uruzgan, Taliban militants ambushed a police convoy patrolling late Wednesday night, and the ensuing clash left four policemen and six Taliban dead, said provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Qasim Khan.

Bush Approval Rating Falls to 28%, Lowest Level So Far, in Harris Poll

Bush Approval Rating Falls to 28%, Lowest Level So Far, in Harris Poll - "President Bush's approval rating slipped to new lows in the most recent Harris Interactive survey, but he's not alone: For the first time since the series began, all of the political figures and institutions included in the survey have negative performance ratings."

Of the 1,001 American adults polled online April 20-23, only 28% had a positive view of Mr. Bush's job performance, down from 32% in February and from a high of 88% in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The current rating is his weakest showing since his inauguration.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice garnered the approval of 45% of those surveyed, down from 46% in February, and approval of Defense Secretary Robert Gates slid to 29% in the latest poll, from 32% in February.

Among other individuals included in the poll, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) saw her approval rating fall to 30% in April from 38% in February, shortly after her swearing-in as the first female House speaker. Approval for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) slipped to 22%, from 23% in February but up from 19% a year ago.

Those polled gave Congress an approval rating of 27%, with the Democrats as a group pulling in 35% approval, compared with 22% for Republicans.

When asked which two issues the government should address first, 30% of poll respondents said the war and 13% said Iraq. Domestic concerns rounded out the top spots, with 15% of those polled mentioning health care and 10% pointing to the economy.

[bth: its the war stupid.]