Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sandia's Gemini-Scout Mine Rescue Robot - YouTube

Sandia's Gemini-Scout Mine Rescue Robot - YouTube

Wounded soldiers face sack under new Army redundancy plans - Telegraph

Wounded soldiers face sack under new Army redundancy plans - Telegraph

A classified document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, says 2,500 wounded soldiers, including 350 who have lost limbs, will not be exempt from the extensive cuts.

The internal memo, sent to senior commanders in Afghanistan, also discloses that 16,500 personnel will be made redundant by April 2015 – more than double the number originally proposed. Any decision to sack wounded soldiers is likely to prove highly controversial.

The efficiency drive has been ordered because the Army has so many wounded soldiers that able-bodied recruits are being turned away and its fighting strength is being diminished....

Dover mortuary landfill dumping: Congressman asked Pentagon about practice in Sept.

Dover Air Force Base

A New Jersey congressman wrote directly to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta two months ago to seek details about the Dover Air Force Base mortuary’s practice of dumping troops’ cremated body parts in a landfill but says he never received a reply.

The congressman’s letter raises questions about when Panetta learned that the mortuary disposed of cremated portions of remains at the King George County, Va., landfill. Panetta has said he was unaware of the dumping before this week....

- bth: So Panetta claims he was unaware of the issue but a congressman from NJ contacted him about it back in September. I'm quickly coming to dislike this new Sec of Defense.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day Nov 11, 2011 Bedford MA Memorial Park Dedication for PFC Dennis O'Neill

 Brian Hart, Alma Hart, Jackie O'Neill, Stephen O'Neill
Photos by Brian T. Hart
Posted by Picasa

A Bedford soldier who died in Vietnam will be remembered Friday - Bedford, MA - Bedford Minuteman

A Bedford soldier who died in Vietnam will be remembered Friday - Bedford, MA - Bedford Minuteman

It would not abide with him.

That was one of the first thoughts Brian Hart had after he realized Bedford resident Dennis Michael O’Neill, who died on Feb. 2, 1966, in South Vietnam at the age of 22, wasn’t on any of the memorial stones at the town’s Veterans Memorial Park.

“It was enormously disconcerting to me,” Hart said. He could not sleep one night and was on the website of the Virtual Wall, which lists all of the veterans on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“I just wanted to see if there was anyone from Bedford and there was,” said Hart, who knows the importance of marking the service of veterans — his son John D. Hart, who was killed in Iraq, has been honored and remembered by the town.

When he realized the town did not know of Dennis, he began researching the young man’s background so he could show town officials that they should remember him.

It turned out that Dennis O’Neill was the son of Lt. Gen. John William O’Neill, who was the commander of Hanscom Air Force Base during the time his son signed up with the U.S. Army and died less than 30 days into his Vietnam deployment.

“I received out of the blue an email from Brian Hart, asking about Dennis,” said Stephen O’Neill, who was 17 when his brother died.

Stephen is thrilled that his older brother is going to be memorialized by the town and he will be on hand for the ceremony on Friday, which will be held at noon at Veterans Memorial Park. The stone for his brother is already in place.

He remembers the time of his brother’s death as a time when the family’s grief was played out in public because “everyone knew my dad.” There is also a building at the base and a yearly award for promising officers named after his dad.

And his father encouraged Dennis to go into the service after he floundered in college and was not sure what he wanted to do with his life.

“After my brother Dennis died he never tried to tell anyone what they should do with their life,” Stephen said. “I think my dad blamed himself somewhat.” John O’Neill died of a heart attack in 1977.

Stephen remembers his brother as a phenomenal athlete, and that he loved surfing the best. After boot camp he was sent to Hawaii, where he got a lot of surfing in before being sent to Vietnam.

Dennis arrived in Vietnam on Jan. 4, 1966, and was sent to an area between what was then called Saigon, and the Cambodian border. His battalion was moving to expand and clean out the perimeter of the base camp, and on the day he died as he patrolled the area, the Viet Cong came up from a huge network of underground tunnels. A hand grenade-like device killed him, and one of his best friends was badly injured by the same device.

Dennis’s hometown was listed as Bedford because he signed his enlistment papers in his father’s Hanscom Air Force Base office, as did Stephen, when he joined the U.S. Air Force less than two years later.

“I was surprised and touched that Brian reached out to me, particularly after what happened to his son,” Stephen said. “I can’t imagine having one of my children die.”

The two men have become frequent communicators through emails and the occasional phone call. “I imagine when I look into his eyes it will be like looking into the eyes of my father,” Stephen said.

For Hart, it is a case of the importance of remembrance and he knows that the town does remember its own.

Hart and his wife had actually planned to move to Indiana after his son was deployed to Iraq because they felt alienated from others because their son was in the service. But when their son John was killed, the Harts were surrounded with what they call “the warmth of strangers.” They decided to stay in town and have not regretted that decision.

“Bedford remembers its own and Dennis was the forgotten son,” Hart said. “Now that is being rectified. I read somewhere that remembrance is the purest form of prayer. It matters.”

“That’s what we do, we honor and memorialize veterans,” said Paul Purchia, the head of the town’s Patriotic Holiday Committee. “We can’t not honor that Dennis died in Vietnam.”

Dover Air Force Base is nation’s latest military site to be accused in scandal - The Washington Post

Dover Air Force Base is nation’s latest military site to be accused in scandal - The Washington Post

...“I had doubts about my son being in that coffin, and now I have more doubts,” she said.

Federal investigators’ charges of “gross mismanagement” at the Dover mortuary echo earlier failings at Arlington National Cemetery and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

All three are places where military families carry out mostly private vigils.

Each of them — an airfield, a now-shuttered hospital and a cemetery — have become part of the country’s civic religion. Presidents visit them to show that they do not make life-or-death decisions without being sensitive to the costs of war.

Americans regularly profess their admiration for the military’s sacrifices. But the problems at these three consecrated sites have provoked questions about the nation’s commitment to honor its war wounded and dead.

“It is disturbing that at places where the rubber really meets the road we screw it up,” said Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel and a history professor at Boston University whose son was killed in Iraq. “There is a gap between our professed regard for the military and how soldiers are treated.”...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Liberty under arrest

NightWatch 20111110 - KGS - Niger/Libya

NightWatch 20111110 - KGS

Niger-Libya-al Qaida: On 6 November the Nigerien Army destroyed a convoy of six heavily armed, four-wheel drive vehicles transporting weapons from Libya near Assamaka in northern Niger, according to Radio France Internationale on 9 November. Army units killed 13 men and 13 were taken prisoner. One soldier was killed and others wounded in the clash. Malian Touaregs led the convoy, comprised of Libyans loyal to former Libyan leader Qadhafi, an unnamed army officer said.

Meanwhile, several news services reported a statement by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who claimed that his group obtained Libyan arms during the Libya struggle against Qadhafi. He also claimed AQIM has benefited similarly from instability in other Arab states.

Comment: The reported intercept and clash in Niger is credible evidence that tends to corroborate earlier news reports that a variety of groups received weapons from pillaged Libyan armories. It also lends support to the AQIM boast....

- bth: so does this mean that a large number of anti-aircraft missiles made it to al Qaida?

Pentagon Regrowing Soldiers’ Muscles From Pig Cells | Danger Room |

Pentagon Regrowing Soldiers’ Muscles From Pig Cells | Danger Room |

A few pig cells, a single surgery and a rigorous daily workout: They’re the three ingredients that patients will need to re-grow fresh, functional slabs of their own muscle, courtesy of Pentagon-backed science that’s already being used to rebuild parts of people.
The research team behind the project, based out of the University of Pittsburgh, has made remarkably swift progress: Mere months after starting their first-ever clinical trial, they’ve already operated on four soldiers and are now training groups of surgeons from across the country in perfecting the approach. If progress continues at this pace, the trial will wrap in 24 months and the technique will become “a standard of care for orthopedists and trauma surgeons,” according to Dr. Stephen Badylak, head of the initiative.
It isn’t quite salamander territory, but it’s astonishingly close. The Pittsburgh team’s research means that, within this decade, the thousands of soldiers who’ve suffered major muscle loss during this decade’s wars can overcome devastating impairment — a life sentence of chronic pain, disability and no viable treatment short of amputation — and experience at least a 25 percent improvement in physical function. For civilians, the impact would incalculable. The kinds of trauma and health problems that now cause amputation, from car accidents and fires to cancer or diabetic peripheral vascular disease, would no longer cause irreparable damage.
Badylak and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine are only one of several groups leading far-out research projects that are part of the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM), a massive, $250 million undertaking meant to quickly usher regenerative medicine into the mainstream. Already, military brass have fast-tracked clinical trials for “bone cement” to replace metal screws and plates and accelerated the sophistication of face and hand transplants — a handful of which have now been conducted in the United States....

-- bth: fascinating and well done.

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Some Overdue Thoughts on Iraq

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Some Overdue Thoughts on Iraq

...Once the Iraqis realized that they could run out the clock on us in regards to the negotiations to have provincial elections in 2008 (ultimately occuring in 2009), they applied the same process on the SOFA negotiations. I can not emphasize enough just how backwards the idea of having an election in a sectarian civil war and extremism ravaged society is without first working on and making progress towards societal reconciliation.**** By not doing the latter, we ensured that the former would simply further entrench the divisions that had so violently developed, been created, and/or exploited. But you do not have to take my word for it, General Petreaus testified to Congress about this in April 2008, saying: "Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences." The reason that they had failed to take advantage is that the Bush Adminstration had its leadership in Iraq working on provincial elections and a SOFA, not on consolidating the gains from the Awakenings, the sectarian cleansings, and the Surge. This is the strategic malpractice that got us to the point where we will be militarily leaving Iraq at the end of 2011. It is a strategic blunder that undermined the hard work, operational, and tactical successes of a large number of Americans, our coalition partners, and the Iraqis themselves. While many strategic failures - failures of vision, of planning, and failures to understand the actual nature of Iraqi society that contributed in getting us into Iraq, it was the failure to capitalize on the openings that so many had fought and worked so hard for from 2006 through 2008 that has brought us to a complete military withdrawl from Iraq by the end of 2011 without a basing agreement, let alone arrangments for a small number of security force advisors.

Iraq is a great example of how tactical and operational successes, and there were many, does not necessarily translate into victory. Iraq is likely to go down as a strategic failure for reasons that have been apparent since 2007, because the Iraqis have been telling us these reasons, but we just do not seem able to process them. The Awakenings folks have been telling us since 2007 that once we go they are going to settle scores with the government. The government has been signalling since 2008 that it was going to settle scores with the Awakenings, and has been doing so off and on since then. Moreover, the powers that are in Iraq (Dawa, ISCI, the ISCI militia Badr, even the Kurds, and now the Sadrists) have never hidden their past affiliations with or support from Iran, yet the geniuses who got us into Iraq, or enabled it, are suprised that Baghdad is now oriented towards Tehran and that our strategic misteps in Iraq have only diminished our prestige in the region and inflated Iran's....

- bth: what did America gain from this costly adventure?

Mullah Omar has never been in Pakistan, says Musharraf

Mullah Omar has never been in Pakistan, says Musharraf

LONDON: Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former president, has said that the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is not and has "never been in Pakistan". Musharraf also vehemently denied the existence of the Quetta Shura.

In an interview with BBC, former military ruler said, "You say it is true, I say it is all nonsense," Musharraf said to the presenter about the presence of the Quetta Shura....

- bth: liar.

Analysis: With an eye on 2014, India steps up Afghan role - Yahoo! News

Analysis: With an eye on 2014, India steps up Afghan role - Yahoo! News

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – India plans to train Afghan army combat units at top counter-insurgency schools, officials say, deepening its commitment to Afghanistan as Western forces prepare to withdraw, a move that will fan Pakistani fears of encirclement.

India may also provide light weapons to the Afghan army and train pilots and ground staff for Afghanistan's small air force under a strategic partnership agreement signed last month.

Up until now India has mainly provided discreet training to Afghan security forces in an unstructured manner, with officers attending largely theoretical courses. Once, in 2007, two platoon-sized units of 30 men each were trained.

But the new agreement sets the stage for a formal Indian involvement in boosting Afghan security forces beyond 2014, when foreign combat troops will withdraw, leaving Afghans to fight a Taliban insurgency now at its most potent in 10 years of war.

"The Afghanistan initiative, so far as I understand it, will be training, including future trainers, in such places as the Army War College in Mhow," said an Indian security official, referring to a top institution in central India.

"This is about ... military exercises designed to enable them to engage in actual combat operations," he said.

A greater and more overt Indian role in boosting Afghan security preparedness, on top of a $2 billion civil aid effort building highways, power transmission lines and dams, marks an intensification of a regional struggle for post-2014 influence.

It also represents a re-ordering of regional alliances, with the United States seen to have backed the India-Afghan pact after the fraying of its relationship with Pakistan, which it blames for sheltering militants fighting in Afghanistan.

"I think it's a huge deal. It confirms a lot of Pakistan's worst fears about Afghanistan. Moreover, given how many ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) join to fight Pakistan, adding Indian mentorship into the mix strikes me as a terrible idea," said Joshua Foust, a security analyst at the non-partisan think tank the American Security Project in Washington.

"But I think a lot of the decisions are driven by wanting India to pick up this slack the U.S. will be leaving," he said. "This has high-level backing in Washington and Delhi, so it's a done deal. They think there won't be a blowback. I disagree."...

Cost to house a captive at Guantanamo Bay is $800,000 - Wire - Lifestyle -

Cost to house a captive at Guantanamo Bay is $800,000 - Wire - Lifestyle -

- Guards get combat pay, just like troops in Afghanistan, without the risk of being blown up. Some commanders get to bring their families to this war-on-terror deployment. And each captive gets $38.45 worth of food a day.

The Pentagon detention center that started out in January 2002 as a collection of crude open-air cells guarded by Marines in a muddy tent city is today arguably the most expensive prison on Earth, costing taxpayers $800,000 annually for each of the 171 captives by Obama administration reckoning.

That's more than 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.

It's still funded as an open-ended battlefield necessity, although the last prisoner arrived in March 2008. But it functions more like a gated community in an American suburb than a forward-operating base in one of Afghanistan's violent provinces.

Congress, charged now with cutting $1.5 trillion from the budget by Christmas, provided $139 million to operate the center last year, and has made every effort to keep it open - even as a former deputy commander of the detention center calls it "expensive" and "inefficient."

"It's a slow-motion Berlin Airlift - that's been going on for 10 years," says retired Army Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti, a West Point graduate who in 2008 was deputy commander at the detention center.

Both its location and temporary nature drive up costs, says Zanetti. While there, he wrote a secret study that compared the operation to Alcatraz, noting that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had closed it in 1963 because it was too expensive.

At Guantanamo, everything comes in by barge or aircraft "from paper clips to bulldozers," Zanetti says, as well as the revolving guard force. Also, more recently, a massage chair for stressed-out prison camp staff....

The New Hampshire Gazette » Chickenhawk Hall of Shame

The New Hampshire Gazette » Chickenhawk Hall of Shame

When an American male (or an especially belligerent female) makes the challenging transition from late adolescence into early adulthood, he is faced with many decisions. One certain, specific combination of choices will result in his becoming a chickenhawk: choosing to “support” war, while also choosing not to serve in the military. His motto becomes: “Let’s you and him go fight; I’ll hold your coat.”


Depending on external circumstances, such an individual may become one of three varieties of chickenhawk:
• If there is no draft, and the nation is at peace, the individual becomes a Common Chickenhawk;
• If there is a draft, and the nation is at peace, the individual becomes a Chickenhawk First Class;
• If the there is a draft, and the nation is at war, the individual becomes a Chickenhawk First Class with Distinguished Fleeing Cross.

We currently have 154 Chickenhawks listed in our database. Here they are, listed alphabetically. Click here to see them listed by date of birth.

Nominate a Chickenhawk

Search by keyword

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Remains of war dead dumped in landfill - The Washington Post

Remains of war dead dumped in landfill - The Washington Post

The Dover Air Force Base mortuary for years disposed of some dead troops’ body parts by burning them and dumping the ashes in a Virginia landfill, a practice that officials have since abandoned in favor of burying the remains at sea.

The Dover mortuary, which is the main point of entry for America’s war dead, sent remains to the landfill from 2003 until 2008, according to Air Force officials. The manner of disposal was typically withheld from the relatives of fallen service members. The disclosure comes in the aftermath of several federal investigations into mishandling of remains at the mortuary.

Air Force officials acknowledged the practice Wednesday in response to inquiries from The Washington Post. They said the procedure was limited to portions of body parts that were unable to be identified at first or were later recovered from the battlefield, and which family members had indicated could be disposed of by the military....

-- bth: what the heck did the Air Force think peoples' reaction would be to finding out that the remains were dumped in a landfill? Clearly they knew there was a problem because they tried to cover it up. They could have done an at sea burial from the get go but no that would be too easy. Unfucking believable.

Chemical industry hit by “Nitro” cyberattacks | Homeland Security News Wire

Chemical industry hit by “Nitro” cyberattacks | Homeland Security News Wire

In a string of cyberattacks, hackers have stolen critical formulas and plans from major chemical companies; the latest attacks, dubbed “Nitro,” were uncovered by Symanetec, which reported the hackers aims were corporate espionage rather than a terrorist attempt to procure chemicals

In a string of cyberattacks, hackers have stolen critical formulas and plans from major chemical companies.

The latest attacks, dubbed “Nitro,” were uncovered by Symanetec, which reported the hackers aims were corporate espionage rather than a terrorist attempt to procure chemicals.
“The purpose of the attacks appears to be industrial espionage, collecting intellectual property for competitive advantage,” the report said.
From July to September, the attackers collected intellectual property from chemical firms including design documents, formulas, and manufacturing processes.
In particular, the hackers targeted major Fortune 100 companies that focused on chemical research and development, companies involved in advanced material research for military vehicles, and those that produce manufacturing infrastructure for the chemical and advanced materials industries....

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Iran Looks to China, Russia to Break out of US Sanctions | Informed Comment

Iran Looks to China, Russia to Break out of US Sanctions | Informed Comment

... But China simply won’t go along with any such policy. In fact, China increased its petroleum imports from Iran in the first half of 2011 by 50% over the previous year. China took 650,000 barrels a day from Iran last June, making the latter the third biggest supplier, following Saudi Arabia and Angola. China also increased its naphtha imports from Iran by 280% over the previous year!...

The new, more pro-US International Atomic Energy Agency is willing to speculate about Iran’s nuclear enrichment program in a way that Mohammed Elbaradei never was. I have argued that Iran is seeking “nuclear latency” or the “Japan option,” that is, it does not want to now construct or store a nuclear warhead. Rather, Tehran wants the ability to construct a nuclear warhead in a short period of time if it became necessary to deter an invasion of the sort the US inflicted on Iraq. If Iran actually constructed a nuclear device and detonated it, the action might well produce North Korea-style sanctions and isolation. But latency has almost the same deterrent effect, and is much less costly in global political capital. ...