Archive for the ‘Army’ Category

Pentagon Rethinking Strategy, Planning, Budgeting and Weapons-Buying

March 14, 2009

The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the Obama administration to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

By Thom Shanker
New York Times
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For more than six years now, the United States has in fact been fighting two wars, with more than 170,000 troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The military has openly acknowledged that the wars have left troops and equipment severely strained, and has said that it would be difficult to carry out any kind of significant operation elsewhere.

To some extent, fears have faded that the United States may actually have to fight, say, Russia and North Korea, or China and Iran, at the same time. But if Iraq and Afghanistan were never formidable foes in conventional terms, they have already tied up the American military for a period longer than World War II.

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Iraq war in 1991 or the invasions of Grenada and Panama.

In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made it clear that the Pentagon was beginning to reconsider whether the old two-wars assumption “makes any sense in the 21st century” as a guide to planning, budgeting and weapons-buying.

The discussion is being prompted by a top-to-bottom strategy review that the Pentagon conducts every four years, as required by Congress and officially called the Quadrennial Defense Review. One question on the table for Pentagon planners is whether there is a way to reshape the armed forces to provide for more flexibility in tackling a wide range of conflicts.

Among other questions are the extent to which planning for conflicts should focus primarily on counterinsurgency wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what focus remains on well-equipped conventional adversaries like China and Iran, with which Navy vessels have clashed at sea.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/washi
ngton/15military.html?_r=1&hp

Losing Terror War? Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iran

March 11, 2009
Defense Intelligence Agency chief Army Lt. Gen. Michael Maples tells senators during a Capitol Hill hearing that Al Qaeda has resurfaced in a country it was forced to flee seven years ago.
By Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times
March 11, 2009
Reporting from Washington — Al Qaeda has expanded its presence in Afghanistan, taking advantage of the sinking security situation to resurface in the country it was forced to flee seven years ago, the top U.S. military intelligence official testified Tuesday.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, described Al Qaeda’s efforts as one of the reasons for the Obama administration’s decision last month to order additional troops to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is no longer the haven for Al Qaeda that it was before the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. But in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maples said, “I believe Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is more significant, although still at a relatively minor scale, than we have seen in the past.”

Maples also cited intelligence indicating that Iran is playing a more active role in supporting a militant group based in Pakistan that is launching attacks against U.S. and Afghan forces.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworl
d/world/la-fg-intel11-2009mar11,0,421
8559.story

Intelligence Officials Testify On National Security Threats 
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Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, left, and Defense Intelligence Agency chief Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples testify on Capitol Hill at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Maples said Al Qaeda has resurfaced in Afghanistan in a way not seen since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Blair said the U.S. intelligence assessment is that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium.  Alex Wong / Getty Images

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A progressive Presidency is a terrible thing to waste. It only comes around once every so often. Wouldn’t it be a shame if Americans’ hopes for the Obama Administration were squandered in Afghanistan?

See:
http://nasir-khan.blogspot.com/2009/03/c
an-congress-save-obama-from-afghan.html

Israel’s Gaza Attack Continues to Further Split Arab Rulers, People

January 4, 2009

“War on Gaza” was the description the satellite channel al-Jazeera gave for the Israeli ground invasion that began Saturday, a culmination of eight days of bombing that have killed hundreds of Palestinians in the crowded seaside strip. But across the Arab world, the struggle was as noteworthy for what was becoming a war at home.

From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, longtime leaders of the Arab world, the attacks illustrated a yawning divide between the policies of rulers and the sentiments of those they rule. Although the Palestinian cause is cherished on the street, the region’s leaders are viewed as paying only lip service to it.

The gulf between the two is not uncommon in a region that remains, with few exceptions, authoritarian.

But exacerbating the tension is an issue that, although half a century old, remains at the heart of Arab politics: Palestine and its symbolism here.

The intersection of the issue’s resonance with official Egyptian and Saudi criticism of Hamas has created a conflict in policy and sentiment as pronounced as perhaps at any time in modern Arab history.

From the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2009/01/03/AR2009010302017.html
?hpid=topnews

Gaza Day 9 Sunday: Israeli Ground Troops, Tanks Join Air Assault on Hamas

January 4, 2009

Israel continued a two pronged attack into Gaza Sunday; a military effort it said would end Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.

CNN and the Associated Press are now reporting that Israeli troops gained control of the eastern section of northern Gaza Sunday, less than 24 hours after launching a ground incursion into the Palestinian territory, according to Palestinian security sources.

Related:
Monday in Gaza Day 10: “Allah will punish Israel”
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Israeli Forces Bisect Gaza, Surround Biggest City

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meas
t/01/04/israel.gaza/index.html

Thousands of ground troops supported by tanks and helicopter gunships were added to the mix Saturday while air attacks on Hamas positions continued.

Israel seemed to put some blame on its number one ally the United States for failing to achieve a cease fire.

But perhaps Israel really blames its long-time Arab neighbors.
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The Jerusalem Post reported that “Intensive diplomatic efforts led by US President George W. Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the leaders” of Arab nations including  of Egypt, Jordan and Syria failed to create a satisfactory end state for Israel.

Israeli soldiers advance near the border with northern Gaza ... 
Israeli soldiers advance near the border with northern Gaza during a ground operation by the Israeli army late January 3, 2009. Israeli troops clashed with Hamas fighters as they advanced into Gaza on Saturday in the first ground action of an eight-day offensive on the Palestinian enclave, a witness and the Israeli army said.(Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Army ambulances were seen bringing Israeli wounded to a hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. The military said a total of 30 soldiers were injured in the opening hours of the offensive along with “dozens” of militants.

The Jerusalem Post said: “Prior to the ground incursion, senior diplomatic officials were reacting positively to the idea of reincorporating the Gaza Strip into the Palestinian Authority, with Fatah, along with some kind of international mechanism, in charge of the border crossings.”

The Prime Minister’s Office, meanwhile, issued a statement Saturday night saying the objective of the ground operation was to take control of the areas inside the Gaza Strip from where rockets are being launched on Israel.

But Mark Regez, the Israeli government spokesman told CNN, “We haven’t articulated regime change as the goal of this operation. Our goal is to protect our people.”

“In many ways, they are victims like us. Both the civilian population of southern Israel and the civilian population of the Gaza Strip have been victims of this terrible, extremist Hamas regime,” Regev said.

Despite that Israel’s Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Friday night in an interview on Israeli television that Israel must not end this operation with Hamas in charge of Gaza.

“What I think we need to do is to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas to govern,” Mr. Ramon said on Channel One. “That is the most important thing.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Regime Change?  From The New York Times:
 Israel in Gaza: Is the Real Target Hamas Rule?

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellit
e?cid=1230733155661&pagename=JP
ost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Related:
Gaza, Israel Could Highlight Stark Obama, Bush Differences

AP:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009010
4/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Below from Haaretz:

The army believes the incursion into Gaza will do significant damage to Hamas’ standing army and at the same time give Hamas leaders a palpable sense that their rule is in danger. The ground invasion will also accelerate the diplomatic stopwatch. A delegation from the European Union “troika” (Germany, France, Great Britain) will reach Gaza on Sunday, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected on Monday. Translated into military terminology that means the IDF has less than a week to make genuine progress in Gaza.

In the past two days the army chief of staff and the head of Southern Command visited troops massing along the Gaza border and approved the final plans. The message from the IDF commanders is: “We will meet our goals. There will be casualties as a result of the thrust into Gaza but they will not stop any part of the operation.” This attitude is different from that evinced during the Second Lebanon War, when the army withdrew on more than one occasion in response to casualties. One battalion commander told his company commander on Saturday that it’s possible that not everyone will return to meet again in a few days’ time.

This knowledge has not affected the army’s motivation and readiness, however. Hamas is not Hezbollah and the IDF circa January 2009 is not the IDF of 2006. It is sharper, more determined and better trained. The intelligence is infinitely better this time. The offensive was prepared over a long period of time. It is very aggressive, with massive air and artillery fire preceding the ground and artillery forces.

Read the rest:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spag
es/1052336.html

The BBC:
Clashes were reported in Gaza City, the northern town of Beit Lahiya and the Jabaliya refugee camp. Both sides have reported casualties in the fighting.

The UN secretary general has called for an immediate halt to operations.

But an emergency Security Council meeting failed to agree a united approach to the Gaza conflict.

Read the rest from The BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7810270.stm

Israel Proving in Gaza It Can’t Handle Iran

January 3, 2009

Israel can’t handle Iran.  That’s the lesson being learned by Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

“The IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled. Cast lead, heavy as it may be, is still easier to digest than enriched uranium. ”

That’s the view from Amir Oren of Haaretz.

The looming question after a week of Israel’s pounding of Hamas in the Gaza is: How is Israel prepared politically, militarily and internationally to deal with a nuclear Iran, or to short circuit Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power?

Politically, Israel doesn’t seem to have a united enough leadership to carry out a larger military operation than the comparitively basic effort of Gaza.  The Olmert, Barak, Livni team has struggled to stay on the same page this last week and ultimately had to sequester itself from news coverage that exposed the disagreements.

Militarily, the Israel Air Force has shown us what it already proved against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Air Forces can pound the hell out of buildings and people can be killed but without “boots on the ground,” enemies stay lurking in the ruins.

Yaakov Katz writes in today’s Jerusalem Post, “As early as Monday, senior Military Intelligence officials, tasked with providing targets for the Air Force, were saying behind closed doors that the ‘air operation had exhausted itself,’ and that it was time for the next stage.”

The army of Israel has been held back, for any number of reasons.  But this itself begs countless questions.  Is the fear of Israeli Army casualties too great?  Will the Army lose men to hostage situations and only make the matter worse?  Is the army being saved for another day?

Internationally, it is not at all certain that Israel’s last week has gained it any new strength or friends.  George Bush will be gone in a few weeks and then the entire diplomatic situation can change.  And among regional neighbors, Israel’s move on Hamas has opened wounds in Egypt and elsewhere.

In the media, Israel seems to be losing as the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens.

If Israel cannot resolve the Gaza situation to achieve its aims soon, confidence that it can ever counter Iran will disappear.

As actor Jack Nicholson played the role of  hot-headed Col. Nathan R. Jessep in the film, “A Few Good Men,” he said the line, “You can’t handle the truth.”

For Israel, the Gaza situation may leave lasting truths that have to be faced. 

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel,Virginia

Related:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052025.html

From Yaakov Katz:
In Gaza, Israel Works To Create Perceptions on the Ground

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Pakistan army: We must ‘avoid conflict’ with India

December 29, 2008

Pakistan’s army chief stressed Monday the need to avoid conflict with India, days after he ordered troops toward the rivals’ shared border amid tensions following last month’s terror attacks on Mumbai.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani made the remarks to a top Chinese diplomat who was visiting Islamabad to try and ease the situation between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India.

Kayani‘s remarks were believed to be his first about the tensions with Pakistan’s traditional rival and could help reassure a jittery region that the country does not intend to escalate the crisis further.

On Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials said thousands of troops were being shifted toward the Indian border, though there has been no sign yet of a major build up at the frontier.

Without referring specifically to the situation, Kayani told Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei of the “need to de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security,” a brief army statement said.

India blames Pakistani militants for the slaughter of 164 people in its commercial capital and has not ruled out the use of force in its response. Pakistan’s civilian leaders have said they do not want war, but will retaliate if attacked.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081
229/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_india

Military veterans’ mental traumas

December 28, 2008

More that ever before, the wounds of war are of and in the mind and the Veterans Administration has been learning how best to provide treatment…

“Wars are supposed to end when the last shots are fired, but some of our new veterans will unfortunately have to cope with internal demons that may last their lifetime,” said Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

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President-elect Barack Obama (L) introduces retired General ... 
President-elect Barack Obama (L) introduces retired General Eric K. Shinseki as nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary during a news conference in Chicago, December 7, 2008.REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)

Service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq increasingly are suffering from mental trauma that dampens their homecomings, hobbles their re-entry into civilian life and imperils their continued military service – a situation the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has sought to address with treatment, counseling and even drug experimentation.

But even as the VA has worked to provide quality health care for millions of veterans at its facilities across the country, it has endured a series of failures – from not notifying test subjects about new drug warnings to ignoring safeguards during experiments. Those failures have damaged the reputation of the agency charged with supporting vulnerable veterans.

But it also has compromised the speedy recovery of those vets.

By Audry Hudson
the Washington Times

President-elect Barack Obama, who has named retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as incoming VA secretary, will have to deal with those long-standing discrepancies in the agency, as well as seek out new solutions to remedy the mental health problems plaguing an ever-growing population of veterans.

“Wars are supposed to end when the last shots are fired, but some of our new veterans will unfortunately have to cope with internal demons that may last their lifetime,” said Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200
8/dec/28/va-grapples-returning-veterans-mental-traumas/

War Scars, Army Recruiting and Suicides Spark Investigation

December 23, 2008

Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Henderson, a strapping Iraq combat veteran, spent the last, miserable months of his life as an Army recruiter, cold-calling dozens of people a day from his strip-mall office and sitting in strangers’ living rooms, trying to sign up their sons and daughters for an unpopular war.

He put in 13-hour days, six days a week, often encountering abuse from young people or their parents. When he and other recruiters would gripe about the pressure to meet their quotas, their superiors would snarl that they ought to be grateful they were not in Iraq, according to his widow.

By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press

Less than a year into the job, Henderson — afflicted by flashbacks and sleeplessness after his tour of battle in Iraq — went into his backyard shed, slid the chain lock in place, and hanged himself with a dog chain.

He became, at age 35, the fourth member of the Army’s Houston Recruiting Battalion to commit suicide in the past three years — something Henderson’s widow and others blame on the psychological scars of combat, combined with the pressure-cooker job of trying to sell the war.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081222/ap_
on_re_us/recruiter_suicides

U.S. admiral wants China military ties resumed

December 18, 2008

The United States hopes China, which suspended military contacts with Washington in October, will soon resume them to work together against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, U.S. defense officials said on Thursday.

China took the action to protest a $6.5 billion U.S. arms sale to Taiwan.

“It is a fact that the Chinese suspended ‘mil-to-mil’ dialogue with the Department of Defense in general and U.S. Pacific Command,” said Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, who commands all U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific.

Timothy Keating
Admiral Keating

A defense official said the suspension occurred after the United States announced the arms package including 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.

The sale angered Beijing, which has vowed in the past to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary. The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but Washington remains Taiwan’s strongest ally and biggest arms supplier.

By David Morgan, Reuters

At the time, the Pentagon said China canceled or postponed several military-to-military exchanges, including senior officer visits and a humanitarian relief program.

Keating told reporters prospects of China sending warships to the seas off Somalia to help international efforts against piracy could provide a “springboard” for resuming ties.

“We are in dialogue in various agencies and commands in an attempt to provide information to the People’s Liberation Army navy should their country decide to deploy ships,” he said.

“This augurs well for increased cooperation and collaboration between the Chinese military forces and U.S. Pacific Command forces,” Keating said. “So I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081218/pl_nm
/us_usa_china_taiwan_1

2009: Tough Fight In Iraq, Afghanistan — Petraeus

December 18, 2008

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has told his troops that despite progress on both fronts, the U.S. and its allies face a tough fight in the year ahead.

With his trademark caution, Petraeus wrote in a letter to all troops in U.S. Central Command — stretching across the Middle East and throughout Central Asia — that improved security conditions in Iraq remain fragile and that while the Afghan army is improving, “the difficulties in Afghanistan are considerable.”

It was the first time since Petraeus took charge of Central Command on Oct. 31, following 20 months as the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, that he has offered troops what he called “my initial assessment of the situation” not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan and elsewhere in that region.

By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writer

In this Dec. 10, 2008, file photo, Gen. David Petraeus, commander ... 
In this Dec. 10, 2008, file photo, Gen. David Petraeus, commander U.S. Central Command, arrives for a meeting at the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Manama, Bahrain. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has told his troops that despite progress on both war fronts the U.S. and its allies face a tough fight in the year ahead.(AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool)

The letter, dated Dec. 9, was released by his office at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

Petraeus has assembled a team of experts to conduct an in-depth and comprehensive review of his command area; it is expected to be completed by early February. His aides said that is separate from the “initial assessment” he offered in the letter to troops. The assessment was based on his own discussions and observations during extensive travels in the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere over the past few months.

“In Iraq, we are building on the progress achieved by coalition and Iraqi forces in the course of difficult operations,” he wrote. He said gains have been encouraging but are still not irreversible — a theme he and other commanders have struck many times in arguing against a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Petraeus mentioned that further troop cuts in Iraq are planned, but he was not specific. President-elect Barack Obama has said he would consult with Petraeus and other commanders and senior civilian defense officials before carrying out his campaign promise to bring the Iraq war to an end.

“Numerous difficult issues loom on the horizon in the `Land of the Two Rivers,'” he wrote, alluding to the name derived from the important role the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have played in Iraq’s history. He noted the challenges of Iraqi elections to be held in 2009, plus “resilient enemies still carrying out deadly attacks, lingering ethno-sectarian mistrust and competition” and “malign external influences.”

Under a security agreement that President George W. Bush signed in Baghdad last weekend, U.S. combat forces are to be out of Iraqi urban areas by June 30 and all U.S. troops are to withdraw by the end of 2011.

“In Afghanistan, we and our Afghan partners are in a tough fight,” Petraeus wrote.

Noting that developing the foundations of Afghan government and economy “is typically more construction than reconstruction,” Petraeus said progress has been painstaking, with much yet to be accomplished.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081217
/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/petraeus_two_wars_2