Saturday, March 08, 2008

Missile Defense: "Longest Running Scam" Exposed

Missile Defense: "Longest Running Scam" Exposed: ..."In"his opening statement, Rep. Tierney pointed out that we have spent over $120 billion on missile defense in the past 25 years; that the annual budget is expected to double by 2013 to $19 billion; and that the current $10 billion per year is equal to one-third of the Homeland Security budget, roughly equal to the State Department budget, greater than the FEMA budget, 20 times greater than public diplomacy expenditures, and 30 times greater than Peace Corps.

Dr. Stephen Flynn, Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a retired Coast Guard Commander, testified that the "non-missile risk" – smuggling a weapon of mass destruction into the US by ship, train, truck, or private jet – is "far greater than the ballistic missile threat…." He noted that smuggling is the only realistic option for a terrorist group like al Qaeda; it offers anonymity to any attacking nation and therefore protection from retaliation; seaports, borders, and overseas flights "provide a rich menu of non-missile options"; and it has greater potential to "generate cascading economic consequences by disrupting global supply chains."

Despite these risks, Flynn said, "The combined budgets for funding all the domestic and international port of entry interdiction efforts… is equal to roughly one-half of the annual budget for developing missile defense. Nowhere in the US government has there been or is there now an evaluation of whether that represents an appropriate balance….The amount of resources we dedicate to the [more serious threat of cargo delivery] is miniscule compared to the kinds of resources we invest in dealing with the ballistic missile threat. That's the kind of disconnect we're operating in."

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, provided the Committee with an even more pointed assessment. He recalled his past work for the House Armed Services Committee and the National Security Subcommittee during the Cold War. "At that time, we were not worried about a prototype Iranian missile that might or might not be deployed. We were worried about 5,000 Soviet warheads… destroying not just our country but most likely this planet. I have known ballistic missile threats, I have researched ballistic missile threats. Mr. Chairman, this is not a serious ballistic missile threat that we face today…. [It] is limited and changing relatively slowly. There is every reason to believe that it can be addressed through measured military preparedness and aggressive diplomacy."

Cirincione, who organized the last serious hearings on the program as a staff member of the Government Operations Committee, pointed out that there are fewer ballistic missiles today than 10-20 years ago; fewer hostile missiles potentially threatening the US; there are five more countries that have started medium-range missile programs but they are poorer and less technologically advanced than the countries that had long-range ballistic missile programs some 20 years ago, and the total number of medium-range missiles has decreased by 80 percent.

"The vast majority of nations with ballistic missiles have only short-range missiles with ranges under 1000 kilometers, basically Scuds," Cirincione said. "This is often ignored when officials or experts cite the ‘30 countries with ballistic missile capability.' That's true, there are approximately 28. But of these, 17 have only Scud-B missiles or similar. Most of these are friends or allies."

Rep. Stephen Lynch asked whether the allocation of resources is proportional to the threat.

"Absolutely not. I believe that the Ballistic Missile Defense program is the longest running scam in the history of the Department of Defense," Cirincione said. "This is an enormous waste of money, and if you leave this decision to the Joint Chiefs they won't spend anything near what this Administration is requesting. In fact, the last time the Joint Chiefs were asked about this in 1993, [they] recommended to then-Pres. Clinton that we spend only $3 billion a year on these kinds of programs, and of that $2.3 billion should be spent on efforts to intercept short-range missiles – the ones that are a real threat to our troops and allies…. We're no further along in our ability to actually hit a real ballistic missile now than we were 20 years ago."

Both Cirincione and Flynn pointed to the disturbing fact that there is no comprehensive threat assessment comparing missile and non-missile threats to our security. "We haven't done a good threat assessment – an intelligence estimate that looks at the non-missile threat and the missile threat," Flynn said.

Cirincione agreed. "I believe that in order for Congress to judge whether these sums are necessary they need a comprehensive assessment of the ballistic missile threat. Congress has never – never – gotten this kind of assessment…. We need a comprehensive threat assessment of what the most serious security threats are facing the United States, and then budget allocations based on that."

Steven Hildreth, specialist in missile defense and nonproliferation for the Congressional Research Service, also warned that threats about a nuclear-armed Korea or Iran might be exaggerated. He testified to "the importance of examining assertions concerning weapon system development and performance." Hildreth noted that in 50 years, only five countries have been able "to develop, test and field ICBMs armed with nuclear warheads" because "the technical, organizational, and management challenges… [are] daunting…. Each and every [aspect] presents a multitude of technological challenges and hurdles to overcome that is not easily done." Hildreth also said that these weapons cannot be hidden, and that they have to be tested in an "observable" way. Despite these facts, Hildreth said, "There have been any number of intelligence assessments and studies that predicted there would be more than five nations that could have accomplished this capability at various times in the past 40 to 50 years….This perspective is lacking in so many of the discussions about ICBM threats today." ...

[bth: it would seem to me that we could have a limited missile defense system focused on a few key countries and then a floating navy missile defense fall back without breaking the bank. Take the star wars stuff off the table and focus on specifics. The point is well taken in the article that the logical means of delivery against the US is by smuggling or a private jet. Why leave a smoking rocket trail for retaliation when a culprit could simply deliver the bomb anonymously. I'd rather see more money spent on border security and detection of nuclear weapons in cargo containers. I'm not at all opposed to a nuclear defense, I'm just saying that we have to spend our money wisely and the threats and the realities are different now than what they were 15 years ago - even 5 years ago.]

Arab Leaders, Angry at Syrian President, Threaten Boycott of Summit Meeting

Arab Leaders, Angry at Syrian President, Threaten Boycott of Summit Meeting - New York Times: "BEIRUTBEIRUT" Lebanon — Several Arab leaders say they may boycott the annual Arab summit meeting scheduled for this month in Damascus, the Syrian capital, because of anger at Syria over its role in Lebanon and its continuing links to Iran.

The measures are part of an intensified campaign against Syria that comes alongside similar moves by the United States, which recently added several new financial sanctions against Syria and sent warships to cruise off the Lebanese coast — a gesture aimed directly at the Syrian government.

“There’s a new initiative to completely isolate Syria and weaken its destructive influence in Lebanon,” said an adviser to the Saudi government, who requested anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. “We’re not going to pull them away from Iran by talking to them. We’re going to take them away from Iran by making them feel the pressure and making them understand that this time it’s as real as it can get.”

In the past week, Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Damascus, and urged all its citizens to leave Lebanon as soon as possible — indicating that it believes any Saudi here is now a target for Syria or its allies. Last month the Saudi government deposited $1 billion into Lebanon’s central bank in a show of support for Lebanon’s government.

Syria’s role in Lebanon is rooted in its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, which it views as crucial weapons against Israel and the West. But most Arab nations, led by Sunni Muslims, view Iran, a Shiite-dominated nation, as a dangerous and implacable foe, and they appear to have given up on luring Syria back into the Arab fold through diplomacy.

The conflict has grown increasingly bitter, with officials of Saudi Arabia and Egypt — with Jordan on board — complaining that Syria was deliberately prolonging the political vacuum in Lebanon through its support for Hezbollah, which opposes the Western-backed government majority. Lebanon has been without a president since late November.

...The animosity began in 2005 when Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who was a Saudi citizen and an intimate Saudi ally, was killed in a car bombing. The Saudis, like much of the world, blame Syria, and the king is said to have been furious at Mr. Assad, whose father, Hafez al-Assad, protected Mr. Hariri.

The king is also said to have been seriously offended when Mr. Assad, during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, referred to other Arab leaders as “half men.” On that occasion and others, the Syrian president has used the broad popularity of Hezbollah’s armed struggle with Israel to burnish his own image, and to denigrate those of other Arab leaders.

...Each country views Lebanon as a fundamental battleground on which it cannot afford to lose. The Saudis have longstanding ties to the country, particularly its Sunni community. The new threat of a nuclear Iran wielding its influence in Lebanon through Hezbollah has unnerved them.

“They have a historical relationship with Lebanon, and I think they have just decided they are not going to let go,” Professor Haykel said.

With oil reaching $105 a barrel, the Saudis are richer than ever, and they feel confident in their ability to use their money to press Syria for concessions in Lebanon, Professor Haykel said.

But the Syrians are equally committed to maintaining their historic influence in Lebanon.

“At the end of the day it’s about security,” said Mr. Taqi, the Syrian analyst. “Syria has often been threatened by Israel through Lebanon.”

It is also partly a matter of honor and family tradition
. Under Hafez al-Assad, Syria occupied Lebanon for most of three decades. His son Bashar withdrew Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005, under pressure from huge popular demonstrations after the killing of Mr. Hariri.

Now, under threat of possible indictments by the international tribunal investigating the killings of Mr. Hariri and other prominent Lebanese figures, the Syrians apparently feel that maintaining some power over Lebanon is a matter of self-defense.

“I think Syria has taken its position: they need to make sure that Lebanon cannot be used against them,” said Prof. Joshua M. Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. Its strategy, he added, is based in large part on countering the enormous financial power of Saudi Arabia and its allies

This is Syria’s game: keep Lebanon paralyzed, and Saudi has to subsidize everything,” Professor Landis said. “That’s going to take billions of dollars, and where does it end? Syria thinks they can outlast them.”

Michael Slackman contributed reporting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

[bth: we need to be thinking about what America wants and needs in this conflict. We have the Saudi's gouging us for $100 bbl. oil and supplying terrorists to kill our troops and destroy our cities on the one hand and we have Syria which has for all practical purposes served no useful purpose other than to become of refuge for millions of Iraqis we've displaced from Iraq. Syria offers no stability, no economic progress, no alliance or liberty we can benefit from that I can see with its current leadership. So where do we go from here? By default it seems we create an opportunity for idiots like Elliot Abrams. Do we take control of our destiny or let the Saudis and the neocons do the thinking for us?]

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: A Treaty or a SOFA in Iraq, or both?

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: A Treaty or a SOFA in Iraq, or both?: "The United States and Iraq are opening negotiations in Baghdad on a blueprint for a long-term relationship, plus a narrower deal to define the legal basis for a U.S. troop presence, a Pentagon official said yesterday.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the talks are scheduled to start today.

Leading the U.S. negotiating team will be Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. He will be assisted by senior officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House's National Security Council.

Mr. Morrell said the United States expects a lengthy negotiation, with a goal of completing a deal by December, when the U.N. Security Council resolution that now governs the United States and coalition presence in Iraq will expire.

The process of negotiating a long-term deal with the Iraqi government has triggered criticism from some in Congress, in part because the administration's position is that the deal will not require congressional approval and in part out of concern that it might commit to a specific U.S. troop level." WASHTIMES


This raises several significant points:

1- A Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is undoubtedly needed to establish the legal position of US military personnel in Iraq. The expiration of UN authorization would leave US soldiers in the awkward situation of being vulnerable to prosecution under local law no matter what other agreements might have been made between the two governments. If the Iraq government wants to keep US soldiers in its country for some additional time then the US needs to know what the specific arrangements are for adjudication of complaints against American troops.

2- A treaty of alliance or mutual defense agreement (MDA) that binds the US to Iraq "permanently" will represent the fulfillment of the Jacobin neocon dream. This dream has always involved building a new political system in the Middle East that will negate and disrupt old relationships while constructing a new alliance system with the US at the center of the "picture." This is CENTO and the Baghdad Pact re-dux. Haven't these people read ANY history that they think significant? Why do they think that the ending will be different this time?

3- The administration believes that such a treaty or MDA can be put in place legally WITHOUT senate approval? If there is not a major battle over that point then the days of the republic are limited in all but name. pl

[bth: our constitutional checks and balances are rusted from lack of use and no longer to function. Does anyone care?]

US Troops Losing Hearing

US Troops Losing Hearing - Politics on The Huffington Post: "SAN DIEGO — Soldiers and Marines caught in roadside bombings and firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home in epidemic numbers with permanent hearing loss and ringing in their ears, prompting the military to redouble its efforts to protect the troops from noise.

Hearing damage is the No. 1 disability in the war on terror, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some experts say the true toll could take decades to become clear. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served in the two war zones are collecting disability for tinnitus, a potentially debilitating ringing in the ears, and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss, the VA said.

"The numbers are staggering," said Theresa Schulz, a former audiologist with the Air Force, past president of the National Hearing Conservation Association and author of a 2004 report titled "Troops Return With Alarming Rates of Hearing Loss."

One major explanation given is the insurgency's use of a fearsome weapon the Pentagon did not fully anticipate: powerful roadside bombs. Their blasts cause violent changes in air pressure that can rupture the eardrum and break bones inside the ear.

Also, much of the fighting consists of ambushes, bombings and firefights, which come suddenly and unexpectedly, giving soldiers no time to use their military-issued hearing protection.

"They can't say, `Wait a minute, let me put my earplugs in,'" said Dr. Michael E. Hoffer, a Navy captain and one of the country's leading inner-ear specialists. "They are in the fight of their lives."

In addition, some servicemen on patrol refuse to wear earplugs for fear of dulling their senses and missing sounds that can make the difference between life and death, Hoffer and others said. Others were not given earplugs or did not take them along when they were sent into the war zone. And some Marines weren't told how to use their specialized earplugs and inserted them incorrectly.

Hearing damage has been a battlefield risk ever since the introduction of explosives and artillery, and the U.S. military recognized it in Iraq and Afghanistan and issued earplugs early on. But the sheer number of injuries and their nature _ particularly the high incidence of tinnitus _ came as a surprise to military medical specialists and outside experts.

The military has responded over the past three years with better and easier-to-use earplugs, greater efforts to educate troops about protecting their hearing, and more testing in the war zone to detect ear injuries.

The results aren't in yet on the new measures, but Army officials believe they will significantly slow the rate of new cases of hearing damage, said Col. Kathy Gates, the Army surgeon general's audiology adviser.

Considerable damage has already been done.

For former Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 27, of Austin, Texas, the noise of war is still with him more than four years after the simultaneous explosion of three roadside bombs near Baghdad.

"It's funny, you know. When it happened, I didn't feel my leg gone. What I remember was my ears ringing," said Kelly, whose leg was blown off below the knee in 2003. Today, his leg has been replaced with a prosthetic, but his ears are still ringing.

"It is constantly there," he said. "It constantly reminds me of getting hit. I don't want to sit here and think about getting blown up all the time. But that's what it does."

Sixty percent of U.S. personnel exposed to blasts suffer from permanent hearing loss, and 49 percent also suffer from tinnitus, according to military audiology reports. The hearing damage ranges from mild, such as an inability to hear whispers or low pitches, to severe, including total deafness or a constant loud ringing that destroys the ability to concentrate. There is no known cure for tinnitus or hearing loss.

The number of servicemen and servicewomen on disability because of hearing damage is expected to grow 18 percent a year, with payments totaling $1.1 billion annually by 2011, according to an analysis of VA data by the American Tinnitus Association. Anyone with at least a 10 percent loss in hearing qualifies for disability....

The Gaza Bombshell: Politics & Power:

The Gaza Bombshell: Politics & Power: "After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever....

[bth: read this article and puke. What clowns. Name one major agreement that Condi has negotiated in all these years as Sec. of State. And Elliot Abrams, that convicted felon and worse, that bumbling fool has screwed up again. How did American foreign policy become so stupid? So bumbling?]

Report: U.S. Foreign Policy Hurting American Students' Chances Of Getting Laid Abroad

Report: U.S. Foreign Policy Hurting American Students' Chances Of Getting Laid Abroad | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "AMSTERDAM"—American students traveling abroad confirm the findings of a study indicating that Washington's unilateral approach to foreign policy has seriously undermined Americans' chances of getting laid.

"I've been in Amsterdam for two months and have yet to begin a conversation with a cute girl that hasn't ended in a lecture about how big, evil America is taking everyone's oil," said college sophomore Brad Higgs, a participant in Johns Hopkins University's study-abroad program. "I offer to buy them a drink, and they tell me I shouldn't just stand by and watch Bush destroy the world. Look, if I had that type of pull with the president, I obviously wouldn't be out trolling for anonymous Dutch pussy."

The report, released Monday by the Center For U.S.-International Casual Relations, was based on interviews with approximately 1,400 American students returning from abroad. According to study director Gilbert Hapbrook, sexual contact between American students and foreigners has declined steadily since January 2001.

"Unpopular military actions and dismissal of international organizations have galvanized world hostility toward the U.S.," Hapbrook said. "Instead of being inundated with questions about Hollywood and requests to help hot young foreigners practice their English, Americans are being openly scorned in European pubs and cafes. Data taken from a poll of students in December 2004 showed that only a dismal 11 percent had achieved sexual congress with a non-American."

Hapbrook said the 2004 overseas-coitus figures show a slight recovery from the all-time low reached in November 2002, after the Afghanistan invasion and during escalating conflict with Iraq. But the figures are still well below those of 1999, when Bill Clinton was in office and a very healthy 67 percent of respondents scored abroad.

"I'm in Amsterdam—Amsterdam, for Christ's sake—and I'm in the middle of the longest dry spell I can remember," Higgs said. "Last week, I was making out with this Italian girl at a concert. It was all going great until the music ended and she heard my American accent. I swear to God, I went from the cusp of a hand job to, 'Why won't your country sign the Kyoto Treaty?'"

University of Colorado junior Casey Knight recently arrived in Amsterdam after a month in Germany.

"I asked a group of German girls at some Eurotrash disco to dance and they started yelling at me," Knight said. "They said that by paying taxes to the American government, I am no better than a fascist. Well, they would know, I guess." ...

Iraqis of Mosul speak of suffering

Inside Iraq Blog - Times Online - WBLG: Iraqis of Mosul speak of suffering: ..."Mosul was home to thousands of army officers during Saddam’s time. They were all put out of work when the military was controversially disbanded after the invasion. Armed, resentful and with plenty of time on their hands, these men formed a key part of the insurgency.

“Jobs and security are the biggest issues in Mosul. Fix one and you will resolve the other,” said Mr Sajet.

Standing on an ugly road of broken buildings and rubbish, Abdul Jabar, a truck driver, said he cannot find words to describe the sadness he feels for his city, a unique patchwork of seven ethno-sects, including Sunni Arabs, who comprise the majority, followed by the Kurds, Christians and Turkomen.

“Look at the garbage strewn everywhere. What does that tell you about the security situation?” said Mr Jabar, aged 68. “I hope the future will be better.”...

Friday, March 07, 2008

YouTube - Banned Commercial - Condoms

The Colonels and 'The Matrix'

The Colonels and 'The Matrix' - The Washington Independent - U.S. news and politics - "In the spring of 2007, as the first wave of new combat brigades arrived in Baghdad to execute President George W. Bush’s troop surge, an Army lieutenant colonel named Paul Yingling booted up his computer at Ft. Hood, Tex. He received an email accusing him of moral cowardice. It was from Yingling’s friend, a fellow Iraq veteran and Army lieutenant colonel named Gian Gentile.

Gentile was concerned about a highly influential article that Yingling had written for the magazine Armed Forces Journal titled "A Failure In Generalship." The piece was incendiary. Yingling, barely 40 and an Iraq veteran twice over, had issued a j’accuse to the entire general officer corps for failing, over the previous 15 years, to anticipate low-intensity conflicts with insurgents and prepare U.S. troops accordingly. He further contended that the generals failed to deliver their best military advice to the Bush administration about the true costs of the war in Iraq, preferring not to challenge the White House’s optimistic fantasies. "Failing to visualize future battlefields represents a lapse in professional competence," Yingling had written, "but seeing those fields clearly and saying nothing is an even more serious lapse in professional character." The people he criticized have the power to end his career.

But to Gentile, Yingling was the lapsed officer. In his email, and then in a volley of op-eds and blog posts over the next year, Gentile derided Yingling for failing to call any general out by name. Worse yet, Gentile now contends that blaming the generals represents a myopia on the part of Yingling’s fellow counterinsurgency enthusiasts—until recently, he counted himself one—to accept the U.S. failure in Iraq. "By not naming names," Gentile, now a history professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said in a phone interview, "he has left it open for the generals themselves to interpret who’s in the Yingling-screw-up crowd. The way that comes out, until the early months of the surge, he doesn’t want to say who but he really means [former Iraq commander and now Army Chief of Staff Gen. George] Casey, only a few units got it right and finally, maybe, we’re on the right track with Gen. Petraeus and the surge." Both Yingling and Gentile claim to have received heaps of supportive email from soldiers.

In this argument between two respected senior officers, the next major debate over U.S. defense policy can be gleaned. Yingling speaks for an ascending cadre of young defense intellectuals, most of whom are Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, who assert that the U.S. military must embrace principles of counterinsurgency if it is to triumph in the multifaceted fight against global terrorism. Gentile, formerly one of those theorist-practitioners, believes the military has already moved too far in the direction of counterinsurgency, which he contends allows analysts to ignore the limits of U.S. military power. Both arguments represent an attempt to answer a searing question: What are the lessons of Iraq?

Ultimately, the answer to that question will probably be endlessly debated. But the counterinsurgency community—they call it "COIN"—has perhaps the most organized answer. Counterinsurgency is a much-disputed concept, but it refers to methods of warfare used to divide a civilian population’s political and sentimental allegiance away from a guerrilla force. From the start of the Iraq war, a cadre of warrior-thinkers in the military has questioned the use of tactics that focus more on killing enemies than giving the Iraqi population reasons not to support terrorists, insurgents and militias. "We don’t just talk about the enemy, we talk about the environment," explained Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, until two weeks ago the corps commander in Iraq, in a lecture Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation. Not all of them assert that the early use of a counterinsurgency strategy could have won the war. But most contend, after the decline in violence in Iraq during the last half of 2007, that a counterinsurgency strategy would have allowed the war to have been less deadly than it is.

This small but dedicated group includes, most prominently, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq and Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command. Other luminaries are Petraeus COIN braintrusters like David Kilcullen, a gregarious former Australian Army officer and State Department adviser; Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who will soon teach military history at the Ohio State University; and Army Lt. Col. John Nagl, who helped craft Petraeus and Mattis’ much-praised Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, a seminal text for the COIN community known as FM 3-24.

Less visible but highly influential members—many are lieutenants, captains and enlisted soldiers and Marines who came of age in Iraq and Afghanistan—include Janine Davidson, who works in the Pentagon’s directorate of Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; cultural anthropologist Montgomery McFate; Harvard human-rights expert Sarah Sewall (an adviser to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign); and Marine Corps University Professor Erin M. Simpson. The Democratic-aligned Center for a New American Security think tank plays host to many emerging counterinsurgency figures, like Colin Kahl, Nate Fick, Roger Carstens, Shawn Brimley, and, starting in the fall, Nagl. During moments of downtime, the community obsessively reads and comments on the Small Wars Journal and Abu Muqawama blogs.

Drawing on arcane military and academic histories of largely forgotten "small wars" in places like Malaya and the Philippines, the counterinsurgents place a premium on using the minimum amount of violence needed to target a shadowy enemy; on intimate knowledge of foreign cultures to cleave civilian populations from an insurgency; on distinguishing enemies that can be co-opted from "irreconcilables" that must be killed; on using proxy forces whenever possible; and on the central recognition that military force can never substitute for a political strategy that offers better, deliverable alternatives to a population than those presented by an adversary.

These are the lessons that the counterinsurgents believe need to be applied—first in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then institutionalized throughout the military. To them, institutionalization is key: it’s something that the military avoided in the generation between Vietnam and Iraq, so as not to entangle the U.S. in any more counterinsurgency campaigns—even as adversaries adjusted to America’s conventional military dominance. During the Clinton years, the Pentagon focused on buying "more high-tech jet fighters, artillery systems, and sensors, while there was very little [emphasis] on low-intensity warfare," Yingling said. "Even as we’re operating in Somalia, the Balkans, and elsewhere, where we’re trying to develop security forces and build governance capacity, we were disconnected from our experience in the 1990s."

There are some early signs of institutionalization. First, Petraeus has become a national hero, thanks in large measure to the administration’s use of him to bolster dwindling support for the war. Second, before he left for Iraq, Petraeus commanded the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, a bastion of the Army’s institutional knowledge, where he established perhaps the first counterinsurgency course for young officers. Third, in the fall, the Army briefly recalled Petraeus to the U.S. to preside over which colonels to promote to brigadier general.

Fourth, the Army recently raised stability operations to equal importance with offensive and defensive operations in its official Operations manual, FM 3-0—adding a new category of warfare for the first time in the Army’s 232-year history. Finally, Petraeus’ corps commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, will become the Army’s vice chief of staff, though Odierno’s commitment to counterinsurgency is a matter of debate within the community.

Yet the counterinsurgents, owing to their outsider status for a generation, consider themselves a besieged minority inside the military, with "Big Army," elements in the Marine Corps, and the non-ground services out to marginalize this method of warfare it finds undesirable. The Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway, has seemed to slight counterinsurgency in his public statements as a "lesser-included" mission of the Marine Corps. Counterinsurgents noted glumly that Nagl never received a promotion to full colonel. Even with Petraeus at the helm of the promotions board, some wonder whether a colonel named H.R. McMaster, who successfully implemented a counterinsurgency strategy in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005 at the command of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, will ever receive his first star.

Meanwhile, the procurement priorities of the Army haven’t significantly changed since Iraq, nor have the ground services gotten a significantly bigger piece of the budgetary pie. "The Army has gotten a much bigger share than it has traditionally because of the costs of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it plays the dominant role," said Steve Kosiak, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "In terms of the ‘base’ budget—i.e., the budget exclusive of war costs— its share has grown as well, but only very modestly. It still receives slightly less than the Navy and Air Force."

Gentile considers the counterinsurgents’ sense of beseigement to be ludicrous. To him, the military is undergoing a titanic shift in favor of counterinsurgency with little debate over the implications. "I worry about a hyper-emphasis on COIN and irregular warfare," he said in a phone interview, with "less mechanization, less protection and more infantry on the ground walking and talking with the people. It’s a potential recipe for disaster if our enemies fight the way Hezbollah did against the Israelis in the summer of ‘06."

He continued, "Petraeus sat on the promotion board. Do we really think H.R. won’t have a star on his shoulder? They’re the ones in control. I don’t see how they can think otherwise. They’re almost like the minority party that finally becomes the majority party and can’t get over the fact they’re the majority!"

Gentile even has a term for the counterinsurgents’ view of their place in the Army: he calls it The Matrix, after the mind-controlling Baudrillardian machine that alters the perception of reality in the eponymous Wachowski Brothers films.

There was a time when he would have swallowed the blue pill. Gentile served two tours in Iraq, first in Tikrit in 2003 under Odierno and then in western Baghdad in 2006, commanding an armored cavalry squadron. Despite what he calls a counterinsurgents’ "master narrative," whereby counterinsurgency arrives in Iraq first in Tal Afar with McMaster and then in Baghdad with Petraeus, Gentile said that units—including his own—applied COIN practices throughout the war. "Clearly, there are examples of units not getting it," he said. "But I believe that at the tactical level—infantry scouts, platoons, companies and battalions—performed [counterinsurgency operations] by the book even before FM 3-24." Yet, Gentile observed, conditions in Iraq got worse, not better.

That realization turned Gentile from a COIN practitioner to a COIN skeptic. Essentially, he swallowed the red pill to escape the Matrix during the triumphalism surrounding the troop surge in 2007. Counterinsurgency, he now believes, has a role in a modern military, but an excessive focus on it serves as an alibi to avoid recognizing that the U.S. military is not omnipotent. "I think Andrew Bacevich, at the policy-strategy level, has basically nailed it," Gentile said, referring to the retired Army colonel who contends that Iraq is an irredeemable strategic mistake. "He points out the limits of what American military power can accomplish."

Yingling finds his friend’s argument to be, at the least, premature. To him, there are too many vestiges of an improperly-footed military encumbering counterinsurgency to conclude that it has been fully tested and found wanting. "Why are our acquisition priorities the same as before 9/11?" he said from Ft. Hood, where he commands the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery. "My field artillery battalion, we’ve got a multi-launch rocket system to guard detainees. We built the wrong Army in the 1990s and now we’re breaking it apart to fight the war we’ve got." He continued, "The notion that America’s power as a nation is somehow at its limits today as we spend four percent of our GDP on defense and have an active-duty Army of half a million just doesn’t square with history."

Nor can he accept Gentile’s argument that "A Failure In Generalship" needed to name names. "The failures of our general officer corps, through Vietnam and Iraq, occur independently of a single individual," said Yingling, who learned counterinsurgency while soldiering for McMaster in Tal Afar. "To focus on individual culpability misses the point. There’s a structural problem with how the armed forces develop senior leaders. And until we address it, we’ll keep getting the same result."

Just as Gentile believes there’s a place for counterinsurgency in the military, neither does Yingling adopt a zero-sum approach to conventional warfare. "The high-intensity [side of things], I certainly don’t want to abandon it," he said. "There’s a good debate to be had about what that balance should be."

Striking that balance is the central question in U.S. military circles in 2008, and the counterinsurgency community is at the heart of it. Gentile has joined the battle in a very visible way. In newspaper pieces, in blog posts and in extended scholarly articles—including some that call out Yingling directly—he has warned of an uncritical drift toward counterinsurgency. In a widely read Small Wars Journal post on Tuesday, he accused the Army of sleep-walking into adopting FM 3-24. "It is necessary now to accept the truth that there was not wide-ranging debate within the Army and from that premise start one over our Counterinsurgency and Operational doctrine that is truly based on wide-ranging criticism in a ‘big tent,’" he wrote. "It is time to start thinking out loud." That earned him a rebuke from Charlie, one of the pseudonymous authors of the military blog Abu Muqawama: "Charlie is looking forward to reading his competing approach to counter-insurgency operations."

That’s "the Matrix, though," Gentile contends—"that’s why I’m hammered so much." To Gentile, the inability of the counterinsurgency community to see that it’s winning the debate represents a convenient distortion of reality comparable to the leitmotif of the hit film: "They think they’re me, but I’m them."

One thing Yingling and Gentile readily agree on is that the military will suffer from lack of intellectual reassessment. "We don’t agree on every point," Yingling said, "but we do agree on the need for a rigorous debate in the Army about what kind of threats we face and what the Army needs [to defeat them]. I would not want the Army to rigidly adopt COIN doctrine in the same way we rigidly adopted high-intensity mechanized state-on-state warfare."

Like most in the Army, Yingling cannot afford to treat that debate frivolously. Next month, he and his battalion will go back to Iraq, where they will be part of the first wave of post-surge forces. "I hope that we are able to build Iraqi capabilities to the point where the stability the surge produced becomes self-sustaining," he said on the phone. "If we accomplish that, if we contribute to it, during my third tour in Iraq, I will consider it pretty successful."

And there will be more lessons to learn—and debate—when he returns.

[bth: Gentile certainly has the opportunity to call out names if he likes. He doesn't ahve to wait for Yingling. Here I'll give him a hand - Casey, Rumsfeld, Franks, Pace. ...I thought Yingling's article last year took stones - boulders. ...

Gentile and Yingling are refreshing in their debate in a world of moral cowards within the officers corp, especially at the upper levels, those that said nothing spoke volumes by their inactions as this country was led to war on lies and an officer corp so poor in execution as to not even have a plan of occupation. Gross negligence. ...

So if Gentile is right that COIN advocates have won the debate, why in hell are our spending priorities the same as they were pre-911? Why are air force and navy getting the same proportion of funding while army and marine units remain squeezed for equipment useful to front line soldiers?

Gentile talked about 4% of the GNP what he doesn't get it. The military lost the trust of the American people when its officer corp failed to speak up to obvious lies from the Administration. Those that did can be counted on a few fingers. So the American public just isn't buying the 4% GNP argument. As a result the American public went to the mall, they spent their savings, they pass the cost of the war right on to their children. There are no war bonds being sold, there are no taxes, no shortages of material.

Yingling and Gentile think the debate is between Offense/Defense or COIN or between Army/Navy/Air Force on budgeting and doctrine. While these men in uniform bicker and call each other sophomoric names, they fail to realize that the military leadership (not the enlisted personnel, but the generals) lost the trust of the American public - they squandered it for promotions from pandering politicians. What a waste. What a loss for this country - the loss of trust and self confidence in what we as a people can - could - achieve if we really tried.]

In The Know: How Can We Make The War In Iraq More Eco-Friendly? | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

In The Know: How Can We Make The War In Iraq More Eco-Friendly?

Cynical Manipulation at the Petraeus Testimony? Never!

Cynical Manipulation at the Petraeus Testimony? Never! - The Washington Independent - U.S. news and politics - "This is getting disgusting. Last year, when General David Petraeus trudged to Capitol Hill to report on the surge’s fortunes, the White House scheduled it on an unsubtle date: September 11. Well, it’s almost time for Petraeus II: Wrath Of The (Troop Deployment) Math. But when is he supposed to testify, exactly? Peter Baker at the Washington Post had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it explanation on Saturday:

Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will return to Capitol Hill to testify on April 8 and 9, updating lawmakers from their last appearance in September.

What happened on April 9, again? Oh, yeah—the fall of Baghdad to U.S. forces in 2003. So Petraeus will be able to say something like, "Five years ago today, our country was united in purpose as U.S. troops entered Baghdad and ended the malevolent rule of Saddam Hussein. If you think the chaos that we saw in the aftermath of the old regime’s fall was worrisome, imagine what will happen in the wake of a premature drawdown of those troops…" Granted, April 9 is no 9/11, but there aren’t many auspicious dates on the Operation Iraqi Freedom calendar. Come to think of it, an Iraq war retrospective would have fewer noteworthy gems than an REO Speedwagon greatest-hits collection.

I have interviewed Petraeus more than once and have always thought of him as an honorable man. But if he isn’t actively complicit in this craven manipulation of the Iraq debate, he’s not objecting very loudly. And as it turns out, I’m reliably informed that Petraeus’s next round of testimony is scheduled for July 4 and December 25.

[bth: what a coincidence.]
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CHALLENGES 2007-2008: Wounded Vets Trade One Hell for Another

CHALLENGES 2007-2008: Wounded Vets Trade One Hell for Another: ..."In"January 2006, the military awarded a five-year 120-million-dollar contract to Florida-based IAP, which had already faced scrutiny from Congress for unseemly profiteering after Hurricane Katrina. After the levees broke, FEMA ordered the company to deliver 211 million pounds of ice intended to cool food, medicine and sweltering victims of the storm. Instead, IAP had the ice trucked around the country in circles at taxpayers' expense, with much of it ending up in storage 2,500 kilometres away in Maine.

The company's leadership had an even more extensive record of corruption. Before going to work at IAP, company CEO Al Neffgen was a top executive at Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, where he was responsible for "all work performed by KBR for the U.S. government". That included being hauled before Congressional committees to testify about why the company (which had earlier been run by Vice President Dick Cheney) had overcharged U.S. taxpayers by hundreds of millions of dollars while providing support for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Neffgren wasn't the only well-connected person at IAP. The company's president, the aptly named David Swindle, is also a former executive at Halliburton. One of its directors is Dan Quayle, Bush senior's vice president from 1989-1993.

Employees started to leave Walter Reed before the deal was even finalised, figuring they would lose their jobs anyway. When news of the contract first surfaced in 2005, 300 federal employees provided facilities management services at Walter Reed. That figure had dropped to fewer than 60 by Feb. 3, 2007, the day before IAP took over facilities management. When IAP did take over, the company replaced the remaining 60 employees with 50 private workers.

Inside Walter Reed, alarm bells were sounding. On Sep. 21, 2006, Garrison Commander Peter Garibaldi wrote a letter to the base's commanding general saying privatisation had put "patient care services at risk of mission failure".

"We face the critical issues of retaining skilled personnel for the hospital and diverse professionals for the Garrison, while confronted with increased difficulty in hiring," he wrote.

No one took notice then, and little has been done since to improve care or lessen bureaucracy at Walter Reed or at the Pentagon and the VA's network of hospitals and clinics nationwide. Military hospitals are still short-staffed. Injured soldiers are still left alone for hours, or even days.

In September 2007, a Congressionally mandated report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office found the Pentagon and VA care for service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury was "inadequate" with "significant shortfalls" of doctors, nurses and other caregivers necessary to treat wounded soldiers.

According to the GAO, "46 percent of the Army's returning service members who were eligible to be assigned to a (medical) unit had not been assigned due in part to staffing shortages." Over half of the military's special "Wounded Warrior Transition Units" had staffing shortfalls of more than 50 percent.

Key bases like Fort Lewis in Washington and Fort Carson in Colorado were short massive amounts of doctors, nurses, and squad leaders. In short, the Bush administration was simply not hiring enough doctors and nurses to care for what had become a tidal wave of injured soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In December, Congress put its solution forward -- folding a Wounded Warrior Bill designed to help disabled veterans into a massive 700-billion-dollar defence bill. But on Dec. 28, President Bush surprised many observers by vetoing the measure. Bush objected to a provision that would allow victims of Saddam Hussein's regime to seek compensation in court.

Congressional Democrats are now checking to see if they have the votes to override Bush's veto. If they don't, they may send the bill back to President Bush with the offending sections removed.

Either way, Veterans for Common Sense's Paul Sullivan says veterans are not likely to see major progress until 2009.

"Some of the problems may be solved in the next year if Congress fights hard but I do believe that the anti-veteran Bush administration does indeed need to go away so that real reform can be brought to the Department of Veterans' Affairs," Sullivan told IPS.

YouTube - Phistophicles - "Book Two"

Admiral William Fox Fallon - US Central Command - Fallon's Military Strategies - Esquire

Admiral William Fox Fallon - US Central Command - Fallon's Military Strategies - Esquire: "As"head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William "Fox" Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?...

[bth: This lengthy and informative article is just superb and worth a read in full. I have to say my impression of Admiral Fallon is very high. If he is fired this spring, we had all better be on high alert. One gets the impression that Sec. Gates and Admiral Fallon are all that stand between us and a war with Iran.]

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) I Dont Know How To Love Him 11

YouTube - Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) I Dont Know How To Love Him 11: ""

POLITICS-US: Embattled Veterans Official Resigns Post

POLITICS-US: Embattled Veterans Official Resigns Post: "SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 29 (IPS) - Another high-ranking George W. Bush administration official has resigned. The Department of Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Benefits Daniel Cooper quit Thursday amid mounting criticism over a backlog of disability claims for injured veterans that runs six months long and an appearance he made in a fundraising video for an evangelical Christian organisation where he said Bible study was more important than doing his job.

Cooper has been under fire for using his office to proselytise for evangelical Christianity ever since he appeared in a 2004 fundraising video for Christian Embassy, which carries out missionary work among the Washington elite as part of the Campus Crusade for Christ.

In the video, Cooper says of his Bible study, "It's not really about carving out time, it really is a matter of saying what is important. And since that's more important than doing the job -- the job's going to be there, whether I'm there or not."

Cooper's declaration inflamed veterans who saw the number of veterans waiting for the Veterans Administration (VA) to decide their disability claims balloon to 400,000 on his watch, with the average veteran waiting six months for a decision from the government.

"He was clearly a fundamentalist Christian first and essentially a government paid missionary for his particular world view of the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Mike Weinstein, who runs the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "The fact that he's gone obviously is good."

Spokespersons for the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to grant an interview for this story.

In a statement, Bush's Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake praised Cooper, saying, "Dan Cooper's leadership, management savvy and personable touch were indispensable in guiding VA benefits programmes into the Internet era and adapting the department to the needs of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Most veterans groups disagree.

"Cooper was in charge of and responsible for massive injustice for hundreds of thousands of veterans who slipped through the cracks waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for disability benefits," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of the group Veterans for Common Sense.

"He was fully aware that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were putting a burden on VA in 2004 and he did nothing," Sullivan added. "In 2005, he was told again. He did nothing. In 2006, he was told again. He did nothing. In 2007, when the Walter Reed scandal broke, all Cooper could do was say that he would make some marginal changes."

Cooper's resignation -- for "personal reasons" -- comes two on the heels of President Bush's signing two months ago of the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act, which has numerous provisions designed to lessen the bureaucracy that wounded veterans face when they return home from Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans' advocates say they hope Daniel Cooper's resignation will lead to serious changes in the way the VA does its job.

But Matt Cary, the president of Veterans and Military Families for Progress, says the Bush administration has been slow to implement key reforms.

"I'm concerned that agencies that are this large and have been institutionalised for a long time will have difficulty in streamlining this and moving it quick enough to alleviate the needs of veterans and their families," Cary told IPS.

More than 263,000 veterans have received treatment from the VA after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Close to 250,000 have filed disability claims. A new book released this week co-authored by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that 700,000 U.S. war veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually file for disability.

"They need to have this income," Cary said. "If it's a disabled veteran, then the spouse needs to stay home and take care of that veteran and the faster that they can move this process along, the easier it will be for that spouse to be able to go to work and provide additional income for their family."

Pentagon studies show about 20 percent of returning veterans (320,000 people) suffer from physical brain damage called traumatic brain injury. Government studies also show that as many 50 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans (800,000 people) suffer from the psychological injury post-traumatic stress disorder.

Daniel Cooper's resignation is effective Apr. 1. Under federal law, a search commission will be put together to present recommendations for Cooper's successor to the secretary to propose to the president for appointment. The VA's under-secretary for benefits is subject to Senate confirmation and serves at the pleasure of the president.

*Aaron Glantz has reported extensively from Iraq and on the treatment of U.S. soldiers when they return home. He is editor of the website and will be co-hosting Pacifica Radio's live broadcast of the Winter Soldier hearings from Mar. 14-16.

[bth: so you'd think that this evangelical do nothing would think that God wants him to do his freaking job helping 250,000 get their disability claims processed, but no by God, Coopers' too busy praying - he's a Republican Party man, a Christian Crusader.... Sweat Jesus should come down from heaven and crack a wipe on this man's sorry ass. How does a puke like Cooper sleep at night? My friend VA Sec. Jesse Brown who passed away a few years ago cared about veterans. He truly did. Most of the people I know at the VA truly care, but they need money and they need people to process these claims. I hope there is a special place in hell for Cooper and his Bible thumping do nothings who look up to heaven while stepping on the outstretched hands of those needing help.]
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U.S.-IRAQ: Fallon Derided Petraeus, Opposed the Surge

U.S.-IRAQ: Fallon Derided Petraeus, Opposed the Surge: "WASHINGTON Sep 12 (IPS) - In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon's mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on develop his own alternative to Petraeus's recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.

The enmity between the two commanders became public knowledge when the Washington Post reported Sep. 9 on intense conflict within the administration over Iraq. The story quoted a senior official as saying that referring to "bad relations" between them is "the understatement of the century".

Fallon's derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander's personal distaste for Petraeus's style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to the sources.

The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.

In a highly unusual political role for an officer who had not yet taken command of a war, Petraeus was installed in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, in early February just before the Senate debated Bush's troop increase. According to a report in The Washington Post Feb. 7, senators were then approached on the floor and invited to go McConnell's office to hear Petraeus make the case for the surge policy.

Fallon was strongly opposed to Petraeus's role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq adopted by Bush in December as putting his own interests ahead of a sound military posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia -- the area for which Fallon's CENTCOM is responsible

The CENTCOM commander believed the United States should be withdrawing troops from Iraq urgently, largely because he saw greater dangers elsewhere in the region. "He is very focused on Pakistan," said a source familiar with Fallon's thinking, "and trying to maintain a difficult status quo with Iran."

By the time Fallon took command of CENTCOM in March, Pakistan had become the main safe haven for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda to plan and carry out its worldwide operations, as well as being an extremely unstable state with both nuclear weapons and the world's largest population of Islamic extremists.

Plans for continued high troop levels in Iraq would leave no troops available for other contingencies in the region.

Fallon was reported by the New York Times to have been determined to achieve results "as soon as possible". The notion of a long war, in contrast, seemed to connote an extended conflict in which Iraq was but a chapter.

Fallon also expressed great scepticism about the basic assumption underlying the surge strategy, which was that it could pave the way for political reconciliation in Iraq. In the lead story Sep. 9, The Washington Post quoted a "senior administration official" as saying that Fallon had been "saying from Day One, 'This isn't working.' "

One of Fallon's first moves upon taking command of CENTCOM was to order his subordinates to avoid the term "long war" -- a phrase Bush and Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates had used to describe the fight against terrorism.

Fallon was signaling his unhappiness with the policy of U.S. occupation of Iraq for an indeterminate period. Military sources explained that Fallon was concerned that the concept of a long war would alienate Middle East publics by suggesting that U.S. troops would remain in the region indefinitely.

During the summer, according to the Post Sep. 9 report, Fallon began to develop his own plans for redefine the U.S. mission in Iraq, including a plan for withdrawal of three-quarters of the U.S. troop strength by the end of 2009.

The conflict between Fallon and Petraeus over Iraq came to a head in early September. According to the Post story, Fallon expressed views on Iraq that were sharply at odds with those of Petraeus in a three-way conversation with Bush on Iraq the previous weekend. Petraeus argued for keeping as many troops in Iraq for as long as possible to cement any security progress, but Fallon argued that a strategic withdrawal from Iraq was necessary to have sufficient forces to deal with other potential threats in the region.

Fallon's presentation to Bush of the case against Petraeus's recommendation for keeping troop levels in Iraq at the highest possible level just before Petraeus was to go public with his recommendations was another sign that Petraeus's role as chief spokesperson for the surge policy has created a deep rift between him and the nation's highest military leaders. Bush presumably would not have chosen to invite an opponent of the surge policy to make such a presentation without lobbying by the top brass.

Fallon had a "visceral distaste" for what he regarded as Petraeus's sycophantic behaviour in general, which had deeper institutional roots, according to a military source familiar with his thinking.

Fallon is a veteran of 35 years in the Navy, operating in an institutional culture in which an officer is expected to make enemies in the process of advancement. "If you are Navy captain and don't have two or three enemies, you're not doing your job," says the source.

Fallon acquired a reputation for a willingness to stand up to powerful figures during his tenure as commander in chief of the Pacific Command from February 2005 to March 2007. He pushed hard for a conciliatory line toward and China, which put him in conflict with senior military and civilian officials with a vested interest in pointing to China as a future rival and threat.

He demonstrated his independence from the White House when he refused in February to go along with a proposal to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, as reported by IPS in May. Fallon questioned the military necessity for the move, which would have signaled to Iran a readiness to go to war. Fallon also privately vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch, implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy.

A crucial element of Petraeus's path of advancement in the Army, on the other hand, was through serving as an aide to senior generals. He was assistant executive officer to the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Carl Vuono, and later executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Henry Shelton. His experience taught him that cultivating senior officers is the key to success.

The contrasting styles of the two men converged with their conflict over Iraq to produce one of the most intense clashes between U.S. military leaders in recent history.

*Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June 2005.

[bth: my take is that Gen. Petraeus is planning to run for president one day. He is a political animal and intends to operate within the realm of the Republican party.
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Commander Rejects Article of Praise

Commander Rejects Article of Praise - "The"top U.S. commander in the Middle East is the subject of a glowing magazine article describing him as the only person who might stop the Bush administration from going to war against Iran.

Esquire magazine's forthcoming profile of Adm. William "Fox" Fallon portrays the chief of the U.S. Central Command as "brazenly challenging" President Bush on Iran, pushing back "against what he saw as an ill-advised action."

Written by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College, the article in the magazine's April issue predicts that if Fallon leaves his position at Central Command, "it may well mean that the president and vice president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way."

The article is written in an admiring fashion, praising Fallon as "a man of strategic brilliance" whose understanding of the tumultuous situation in Pakistan "is far more complex than anyone else's." ...

As he was preparing to take command, Fallon said that a war with Iran "isn't going to happen on my watch," according to retired Army Col. Patrick Lang.

Lang, a former analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in an interview that he asked Fallon how he would avoid such a conflict. "I have options, you know," Fallon responded, which Lang interpreted as implying Fallon would step down rather than follow orders he considers mistaken.

In the December interview, Fallon disputed the precise wording of the exchange. "That's privileged information," he said at first, later adding, "I can't imagine making a statement like that." He then recalled simply telling Lang that attacking Iran "wasn't the first course of action" under consideration

[bth: curious. Lang is no dummy. I'm pretty sure he quoted accurately. If Fallon were booted out, there would be a severe political reaction in Washington and among the anti-war community. He is viewed as the pigeon in the coal mine when it comes to war with Iran.]

Officials Lean Toward Keeping Next Iraq Assessment Secret

Officials Lean Toward Keeping Next Iraq Assessment Secret - "A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public, a step that caused an uproar when key judgments in an NIE about Iran were released in November.

The classified estimate on Iraq is intended as an update of last summer's assessment, which predicted modest security improvements but an increasingly precarious political situation there, the U.S. officials said. ...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Petraeus' big tent

Petraeus' big tent - "The"Front Page, a popular Washington, D.C., bistro, was an unlikely place for the genesis of a radical new war strategy for Iraq. But on Nov. 7, 2005, over gourmet burgers and beer, an equally unlikely group of military men and Ivy League eggheads sketched out a plan for a new Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual -- on a cocktail napkin.

The new manual is a revolutionary and controversial departure from previous strategies, which made firepower and killing insurgents paramount.

Instead, the new counterinsurgency document emphasizes democratic decision-making and conciliation with the local citizenry, essentially borrowing from the medical profession the admonishment, "First do no harm."

For example, the manual includes this directive: "This means that leaders feel the pulse of the local populace, understand their motivations, and care about what they want and need. Genuine compassion and empathy for the populace provide an effective weapon against insurgents."

Advocates say the manual has enlightened Army thinking and contributed to the success of the surge in Iraq. (Between June and December of last year, weekly attacks in Iraq dropped 60 percent, according to military statistics.) Opponents, however, fear that it has softened the Army's edge and compromised its primary mission, which is to defeat the enemy.

What is undeniable is that Gen. David Petraeus, commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq, has staked a large part of his reputation -- and the safety of his troops and the Iraqi people -- on the success of a manual he helped to create.

In early 2006, as commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Petraeus assembled an extraordinarily diverse group of military officers, academics, human rights advocates, even journalists to help write the new U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual. In the 225-year history of American combat, no other leader had reached so far outside the military for advice on how to fight a war.

Last October, as the sun went down in some super-secure sector of Baghdad's Green Zone, Petraeus, who took command of U.S. forces in February 2007, spoke to me by phone about the manual. A student at Boston College majoring in political science, I was working on an independent project about the creation of the new counterinsurgency manual. My research had led me up and down the East Coast, from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. Finally, I decided I needed to hear from the man himself.

After I contacted him by e-mail, he suggested we talk. The general was sitting outdoors to get the best reception and his voice was crisp and clear as Chinook helicopters rumbled through the growing Iraqi darkness.

I could hear him call to an aide: "Hey, can you get a copy of the counterinsurgency field manual?" ...

[bth: this article is well worth reading. Written by a BC college junior, it is an extraordinary piece of research into the creation of one of the most important military doctrine manuals of our time.]

Top Iraq contractor skirts US taxes offshore

Top Iraq contractor skirts US taxes offshore - The Boston Globe: "Kellogg Brown & Root, the nation's top Iraq war contractor and until last year a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., has avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in this tropical tax haven.

More than 21,000 people working for KBR in Iraq - including about 10,500 Americans - are listed as employees of two companies that exist in a computer file on the fourth floor of a building on a palm-studded boulevard here in the Caribbean. Neither company has an office or phone number in the Cayman Islands....

Seized laptop shows Chavez's rebel ties

Seized laptop shows Chavez's rebel ties - Yahoo! NewsFiles in a laptop computer seized from the wreckage of a Colombian rebel camp in Ecuador offer new insights into Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's desire to undermine Colombia's U.S.-allied government.

If authentic, the computer files suggest Chavez has been in league with the rebels for more than a decade.

While Chavez is not one of the correspondents, his sentiments are conveyed in numerous messages exchanged by the rebels.

Venezuela contends the texts are lies and fabrications.

If so, they are expertly done....

Atheist soldier says Army punished him

Atheist soldier says Army punished him - Yahoo! NewsA soldier claimed Wednesday that his promotion was blocked because he had claimed in a lawsuit that the Army was violating his right to be an atheist.

Attorneys for Spc. Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation refiled the federal lawsuit Wednesday in Kansas City, Kan., and added a complaint alleging that the blocked promotion was in response to the legal action.

The suit was filed in September but dropped last month so the new allegations could be included. Among the defendants are Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Hall alleges he was denied his constitutional right to hold a meeting to discuss atheism while he was deployed in Iraq with his military police unit. He says in the new complaint that his promotion was blocked after the commander of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley sent an e-mail post-wide saying Hall had sued.

Fort Riley spokeswoman Alison Kohler said the post "can't comment on ongoing legal matters" and offered no further statement.

According to the lawsuit, Hall was counseled by his platoon sergeant after being informed that his promotion was blocked. He says the sergeant explained that Hall would be "unable to put aside his personal convictions and pray with his troops" and would have trouble bonding with them if promoted to a leadership position.

Hall responded that religion is not a requirement of leadership, even though the sergeant wondered how he had rights if atheism wasn't a religion. Hall said atheism is protected under the Army's chaplain's manual.

"It shouldn't matter if one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or atheist," said Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney whose firm filed the lawsuit. "In the military, all are equal and to be considered equal."

Maj. Freddy J. Welborn was named in the lawsuit as the officer who prevented Hall from holding a meeting of atheists and non-Christians. It alleges that Welborn threatened to file military charges against Hall and to block his re-enlistment. Welborn has denied the allegations...

Case Is Dropped Against Shiites In Sunni Deaths -

Case Is Dropped Against Shiites In Sunni Deaths - "BAGHDAD"March 3 -- Two former high-ranking Shiite government officials charged with kidnapping and killing scores of Sunnis were ordered released Monday after prosecutors dropped the case. The abrupt move renewed concerns about the willingness of Iraq's leaders to act against sectarianism and cast doubts on U.S. efforts to build an independent judiciary.

The collapse of the trial stunned American and Iraqi officials who had spent more than a year assembling the case, which they said included a wide array of evidence.

"This shows that the judicial system in Iraq is horribly broken," said a U.S. legal adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. "And it sends a terrible signal: If you are Shia, then no worries; you can do whatever you want and nothing is going to happen to you."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's decision to allow the case to proceed to trial was considered a significant step toward proving his Shiite-led government could hold Shiite officials accountable for sectarian crimes. The case was heard at the multimillion-dollar Rule of Law Complex, protected and supervised by the United States, which has said that the development of an impartial justice system is essential to Iraq's long-term stability.

On Monday a three-judge panel ordered the former Health Ministry officials released after a prosecutor unexpectedly asked that the charges be dismissed for lack of evidence. The request caught U.S. officials off guard and came on the second day of what was expected to be at least a four-day trial; evidence had been presented completely on only some of the allegations against the defendants.

The trial of Hakim al-Zamili, a former deputy health minister, and Brig. Gen. Hamid Hamza Alwan Abbas al-Shamari, who led the agency's security force, was the most public airing of evidence that Baghdad hospitals had become death zones for Sunnis seeking treatment there. The officials, followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the feared Mahdi Army militia, were accused of organizing and supporting the murder of Sunni doctors; the use of ambulances to transfer weapons for Shiite militia members; and the torture and kidnapping of Sunni patients.

Zamili and Shamari said they were innocent and unaware of the ministry being used for crimes against Sunnis. Their attorneys accused the government and American officials of trying to lead a campaign against the Sadrist movement. Sadr has been both a key supporter and a critic of Maliki's government; the cleric has recently won praise from U.S. officials for continuing to order his militia to refrain from violence.

Zamili, 43, of Sadr City in Baghdad, and Shamari, 49, of the capital's Baladiyat district, were taken into custody by the U.S. military last February.

"The very fact that the charges were heard and investigated does show modest progress toward the rule of law," said Mirembe Nantongo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

But the case hit roadblocks immediately. The trial court sent it back at least three times to the investigative court, asking for more information, according to American officials, who said the unusual requests were unnecessary and dangerous to carry out.

"The fact that the trial panel would find what we did insufficient was a great disappointment," Michael F. Walther, a Justice Department official who advised the Iraqi legal system, said in December. "I do think that they may have applied a different standard of proof than they would have for an ordinary criminal."

Eventually the panel announced that the trial would begin on Feb. 19, but three hours after it was scheduled to begin, a spokesman for the Iraqi court system, Judge Abdul Satar Ghafur al-Bayrkdar, said the case would be delayed until March 2 because witnesses had failed to appear.

American officials, however, said evidence had emerged that one of the trial judges had promised to find the defendants not guilty and that a senior judge had ordered him to be replaced.

Witness intimidation has been one of the most significant concerns in the trial.

Many of the witnesses agreed to testify only because they believed their names would be kept secret, but their names were leaked and supporters of the former Health Ministry officials threatened to kill them or their families if they didn't recant their testimony, American officials said. Many of the witnesses did not show up at the trial, though Iraqi law allows their testimony to be read if they do not attend.

One witness who did appear on Monday, Nazar Mehdi Abdul Rasul, the Health Ministry's chief legal representative, contradicted his sworn testimony in October that he witnessed an old man begging Zamili to help secure the release of the man's kidnapped brother.

"I heard Hakim Zamili call the kidnappers on his cellphone and ask them to release the brother of this old man," Rasul testified in October. "And after a long pleading I heard Zamili saying, 'Don't kill him, just throw him on Canal Street.' "

But on Monday, Rasul, who trembled and kept glancing at Zamili, said Zamili was a pious man and competent administrator. Rasul said he had misspoken during his earlier testimony because he was weak from fasting for Ramadan. The angered chief judge chastised Rasul and said he could submit his testimony in writing if he feared speaking in the courtroom.

Attorneys for the defendants called a number of witnesses, many Sadrists and current employees of the ministry, who defended Zamili and Shamari and suggested that others were behind the kidnappings and killings. But the judge also read the testimony of witnesses who accused Zamili and Shamari of being sectarian killers.

At the end of a long day Monday, the prosecutor got up and read what Americans described as a long statement. "The evidence against Hakim and Hamid is not enough to convict them. I ask to drop these charges and release them right away unless they are wanted for another case," said the prosecutor, whose name was not released as a security precaution.

"The bottom line is that we're reserving judgment on the Iraqi court's decision today," said Nantongo, the U.S. Embassy spokeswoman. "We remain concerned about this case."

A U.S. official said Zamili and Shamari are likely to be freed within 24 hours. Preparations were being made to tighten security for witnesses who testified against them.

Also Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrapped up a historic two-day visit to Iraq by calling on U.S. forces to leave the country.

"They should leave this area, and they should hand over the running of affairs to the government and the people of this region," he said. "The people in the region despise them and don't welcome them. None of the people in the region love those forces."

Despite tightened security measures that shut down much of Baghdad, two suicide bombers staged separate attacks that killed at least 18 people and wounded 23 others, Iraqi officials said.

[bth: an abortion of justice. And we've been fighting to put this Iraqi government in power? What would any Sunni say about justice in this environment - that the Minister of Health that murdered sunni patients and their relatives who came to claim their bodies got off completely?]

Central Intelligence Anxiety - By Laura Rosen

Central Intelligence Anxiety: "This"winter, as politicians fulminated over the destroyed tapes of the waterboarding of Al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah, a former CIA operative told me that after 9/11 he was approached to take part in a special counterterrorism group authorized to use "enhanced techniques." He had "a moral problem with it," he told a superior, but he wanted to go after the bad guys; what should he do? "These enhanced techniques may make us feel good now, but one of these days they will leak," the superior told him. "They will hit the press, and there will be congressional investigations. And God forbid someone will go overboard and kill someone." So, the former operative turned down the job, "thank God."

After that, a division emerged between what a former senior Agency official described to me as the "SS crowd" and the "Wehrmacht crowd," the "hard edged" and the "smarter and better informed." He said, "People managed not to take assignments. There were senior people who would not go to meetings if they thought that extraordinary rendition or enhanced interrogation techniques were going to be discussed."

Sure enough, when public opinion finally shifted, the administration left the spooks to twist in the wind. "The Bush administration ordered it and approved it and then never came to the Agency's defense when it hit the fan," the former operative said. "The hypocrisy is breathtaking." That prompted a former CIA counterterrorism officer, John Kiriakou, to go on national television to point out that administration officials had been briefed in detail about the Zubaydah interrogation and others. For his trouble, Kiriakou now is reportedly the subject of an FBI investigation focused on whether he disclosed classified information.

What about Congress? "They have known for a long time that [the CIA] uses stress positions and hypothermia and waterboarding and sleep deprivation—and they haven't done anything about it," says Marty Lederman, a former Justice Department attorney who now teaches law at Georgetown University. "They don't disagree with it. And if they do disagree with it, what are they going to do about it? The default position is to have closed hearings, which is preposterous. The intelligence oversight committees are totally captured by the intelligence community

NYC Police probe Times Square explosion

NYC Police probe Times Square explosion - "An explosive device caused minor damage to an empty military recruiting station in Times Square early Thursday, shaking guests in hotel rooms high above "the crossroads of the world."

more stories like thisPolice blocked off the area to investigate the explosion, which occurred at about 3:45 a.m., shattering the station's glass entryway. No one was injured.

"If it is something that's directed toward American troops than it's something that's taken very seriously and is pretty unfortunate," said Army Capt. Charlie Jaquillard, who is the commander of Army recruiting in Manhattan.

He said no one was inside the station, where the Marines, Air Force and Navy also recruit.

Witnesses staying at a Marriott hotel four blocks away said they could feel the building shake with the blast.

"I was up on the 44th floor and I could feel it. It was a big bang," said Darla Peck, 25, of Portland, Oregon.

"It shook the building. I thought it could have been thunder, but I looked down and there was a massive plume of smoke so I knew it was an explosion," said Terry Leighton, 48, of London, who was staying on the 21st floor of the Marriott....

Can't Find My Way Home

Crooks and Liars

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Conrad Black Spends First Night in Jail "Disgraced"media baron Conrad Black, who once counted politicians and popstars among his entourage, has spent his first night in jail.

The former Telegraph owner is serving out a six-and-a-half year term imposed for multi-million dollar fraud.

“He reported today to a low security prison in Coleman, Florida,” said Mike Truman, spokeman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Monday.

Black, who has appealed his conviction imposed in July by a federal court in Chicago, was ordered to wait out the rest of the appeal in jail.

The 63-year-old, who once ran the world’s third largest media empire with such titles in his stable as the Daily Telegraph and the Chicago Sun-Times, is now prisoner 18330-424 in the Coleman jail, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Orlando.

It marked the climax to his spectacular fall which began when Black was charged with raiding the coffers of his once mighty newspaper empire, Hollinger, and trying to cover up his crime.

He was found guilty of four counts of fraud for misappropriating some 60 million dollars of shareholder funds during the sale of Hollinger to the Canadian press group Canwest in 2000, and one count of obstruction.

His conviction for obstruction of justice was based on a surveillance videotape that caught him loading boxes of documents from his Toronto office into his car after the Securities and Exchange Commission notified him he was under investigation.

Besides his six-and-a-half year prison term, Black in December was also sentenced to pay a 125,000 dollar fine and a forfeiture of 6.1 million dollars.

“You’ve committed a very serious crime, Mr. Black,” Judge Amy St Eve said when she imposed the lowest sentence under the sentencing guidelines

“I frankly cannot understand how someone of your stature … could engage in the conduct you engaged in.”

Black has continued to protest his innocence.

Two of his co-accused, who were also sentenced at the same trial, were allowed to remain at liberty pending their appeal.

The son of a wealthy brewery executive, Black bought his first newspaper in his twenties and rapidly expanded his reach across the globe, buying such prestigious titles as the Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post to enhance his massive roster of smaller papers.

Black’s willingness to flaunt his wealth and privilege, his conservative views and his buccaneer business acumen alienated his more self-effacing fellow Canadians long before he renounced his citizenship in order to become a British Lord in 2000.

In December, Black wrote in emails to Canadian public broadcasters CBC that he would be back after serving his term.

“Prison would be a bore, but quite endurable,” he wrote. “I can get on with anyone and adjust to almost anything and I don’t consider it shaming” to go to prison.

“I don’t see custody as (a) dead end,” he wrote, adding he would bounce back like other famous inmates before him.

[bth: so forget the fact that this crock and neocon propagandist talked this country and the UK into a war with Iraq fabricating WMDs and Iraqi/Iranian nukes. So he steals $60 million from his shareholders, is fined or forfeits about $6.3 million netting $53 million. Then divide by 6.5 years in jail in a Florida minimum security prison assuming no parole means that he makes over $8 million a year. Who says crime doesn't pay.]

Monday, March 03, 2008

Red State Update

Iraq says working to expel Iranian rebel group

Iraq says working to expel Iranian rebel group | U.S. | Reuters: "Iraqi"President Jalal Talabani said on Sunday that Iraq was trying to expel an Iranian rebel group, a key demand of Tehran, although the U.S. military said most of the group's fighters had already signed a ceasefire.

The Mujahadeen e-Khalq (MEK) group is described by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations as the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran....

U.S. military spokesman Major Winfield Danielson said there was a group of about 3,360 MEK under "protected person status" at a refugee camp in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.

"Though there may be some individual members still at large somewhere, I have seen no reports of any armed and organized MEK group still operating inside Iraq," Danielson said in an e-mail to Reuters.

Danielson said some of those at the camp had chosen to seek refugee status within Iraq.

He said the MEK fighters at the camp had agreed to give up their arms in exchange for the protected persons status and had signed a ceasefire letter in April 2003, one month after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said after a later meeting with Ahmadinejad that Iraq would attempt to expel all of what he described as terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, the MEK and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). ...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

YouTube - Celtic Woman - You Raise Me Up

YouTube - Celtic Woman - You Raise Me Up: ""

Wounded soldiers get a lift from going downhill with adaptive skiing

The Herald-Mail: "CARROLL VALLEY, Pa. — Jesse Murphree spent years mastering the skill to stay standing as he skied the dangerous back trails of the Colorado Rockies, but after losing both legs in the War on Terror, this accomplished extreme skier and snowboarder spent Saturday learning how to ski sitting down.

Murphree, of Bloomfield, Colo., and other wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., came to Liberty Mountain Resort to participate in the Wounded Warriors Weekend event hosted by Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports (BRASS).

BRASS teamed with Liberty to welcome wounded soldiers to the snow again this year for a free lesson in adaptive skiing.

Dr. Josh Petit, an oncologist at Fairfax (Va.) Hospital, has volunteered as an adapting skiing instructor with the program for five years.

Petit spent Saturday working with Murphree on a monoski, a single ski that is fitted with a seat. ....
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Bond: Red Tape Delaying Troops Humvee Protection

Bond: Red Tape Delaying Troops Humvee Protection - Kansas City News Story - KMBC Kansas City: "KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, of Missouri, is accusing the Pentagon of allowing red tape to delay adding protection to Humvees for troops in Iraq.

KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reported that Bond, along with Sens. Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden, want to know why.

They're called MRAPS. Basically, they are raised and reinforced Humvees to protect the troops from roadside bombs

"Now in 2005, when we went back, IEDs were a huge concern," said Daniel Gilyeat, who was wounded by a roadside bomb.

On July 3, 2005, a roadside bomb blew up Gilyeat's armored Humvee. He was in a remodeled armored Humvee. Gilyeat lost his leg. Just months before, the Marine Corps made an urgent request to get the MRAPS in the field to replace vehicles like the one Gilyeat was riding in when he was wounded.

Mahoney reported the Marines made a second request in early 2007.

"If the technology is there, and the money is there, and the vehicles are there, why aren't we getting them?" Gilyeat said.

"Basically, it is a set of bureaucratic delays
," Bond said.

Bond said the other factor may be the fact that somebody with knowledge of the MRAP delivery problems alerted the U.S. Senate.

"They have been more interested in going after the whistleblower than getting the problem fixed," Bond said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has launched an investigation to find out why the MRAP vehicles have been so slow in getting to the battlefield.