Monday December 28

Ethics To Play Major Role In Promotions

Army leaders who’ve been prompted to rethink tactics and war-fighting doctrines because of Iraq and Afghanistan also see a need to re-examine how they educate soldiers about ethics.

Some of the interest in ethics is tied to the wars: the black eye of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, concerns that stress from unconventional conflict leads to bad decisions, and, for at least one retired general, the sense that the military lost the public’s trust in Iraq. But some leaders also say the Army has worried for a while that it hasn’t been doing a good enough job of instilling strong ethics.

Officials at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and at Fort Leavenworth, home to the Army’s Command and General Staff College, are still in the early stages of developing the material they’ll blend into handbooks, papers, online presentations and videos they use to train soldiers. Officers involved in the effort say that eventually a soldier’s grounding in ethics — strong or weak — will become a factor in promotions.
It looks like the U.S. Army is going to be spending some major resources on educating soldiers better in regards to ethics. While the article seems to go off topic and into specifics of the Iraq War, its still an interesting read. The part that interests me most is how important a role ethics will play when soldiers are up for promotions and that's a good thing. Look forward to reading more as this story develops.

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posted in Army at 09:26:37

Thursday December 17

Milblogs Going Silent

Milblogs all over the country are going silent until December 18, 2009.

Silent, that is, except for a post supporting CJ Grisham.

The Huntsville City Council and the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education both meet Thursday night (Dec 17). Each of these bodies has the power and duty to help make this right. The City needs to ensure that Police do not chill Freedom of Speech. Plus I expect the HPD to apologize to Master Sergeant Grisham for their actions during the PTA meeting and for their unacceptable response to his complaint. The Board of Education needs to apologize to Master Sergeant Grisham for trying to destroy his career. The Board also needs to investigate the Schools’ actions and take corrective actions.
Milblogs are going silent for a week, ending the 18th, to protest the Military's lack of support of their efforts. In fact, some folks inside the military are down right hostile towards military bloggers. These people have a right to share their thoughts and stories. While I agree that nothing should be posted that would compromise active operations or national security, they still should be allowed to blog.

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posted in Army at 11:10:04

Monday December 14

Obama's Ratings Still A Hot Topic

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-two percent (42%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18.

That’s a one point improvement from yesterday when Obama’s Approval Index rating fell to the lowest level yet recorded. Prior to the past three days, the Approval Index had never fallen below -15 during Obama’s time in office.
Obama's recent ratings continue to make the news. These poll results are from the Rasmussen Reports and show much the same as the Gallop Pole results... that Obama has hit an all time low. When the President went on Oprah, he rated himself as a "a good solid B-plus". I'm sure it seems like he's getting more done from his vantage point. I'm certainly not saying he's had an easy job. Could you imagine a less popular president in office during all this? Still, according to most of the articles I've read it seems the major issues are still a pervieved lack of action and, probably more so, the Health care issue. 56% of American's appose Obama's Health care plan so, one can hope that it won't ever got done. Other politicians who were riding the Health care issue are also seeing ratings dips and are having trouble during re-elections. From my perspective, it seems like this bill is a disaster. What do you think?

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posted in Army at 11:04:25

Friday December 11

Why Obama Sold Out

Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

Then he got elected.

What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.
This article by Rolling Stone is pretty long, but they go into great detail about the reasons why Obama's popularity continues to decline, specifically focusing on the promises he made while campaigning and his subsequent about face once he got into office. To this day he seems to say one thing then do another. This week has seen a lot of stories like this and I expect to see more as one of the most popular presidents in history continues to slip in the ratings. And it's not just one sided either, according to the gallop poll, he's currently the least popular president in history within the first year of their presidency. That's a very short time to go from most popular to least. Amazing. Obama still has 3 years in office and he could turn it around. Or he could continue to do more damage than he's already done. What do you think will happen?

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posted in Army at 08:30:23
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Thursday December 10

VA Budget Still Not Enough

The biggest veterans budget in history is not big enough, warns the head of Veterans for Common Sense, a group that closely tracks health care issues for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Paul Sullivan, executive director of the group, said the $109 billion veterans budget for fiscal 2010 — approved Thursday by the House and Senate — “may fall short as much as 45 percent” in covering the Veterans Affairs Department’s added costs of treating veterans of the two ongoing wars.
Funding may fall as far short as much as 45% short? That's just crazy. How can we not be providing enough for our Vets? Some of this may be the VA angling to get more funds, but the article makes a solid argument. We have got to do our best to take care of our vets. They sacrifice for our freedom, it's the least we can do.

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posted in Army at 15:08:48
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Wednesday December 09

Obama Wishy Washy On His Positions

"There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other," Obama said. "But this is a false choice."

To be sure, governments spend money during recessions to prime the economy, and they must be wary not to pull back too soon or to spend too long. But TARP returns are required by law to be used for deficit reduction. Yet if banks can help lower the deficit through one program, Congress can bump it up elsewhere.

What's more, even under Obama's rosier expectations the $700 billion TARP would still add $141 billion to the deficit.

It wasn't the president's only attempt at having his cake and eating it, too, in his speech.

OBAMA: "We were forced to take those steps largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve," he said, describing his administration's infusions of money to banks and the auto industry.

Later, however, he conceded that the TARP program was "launched hastily under the last administration," and argued the policy was flawed.
With Obama's approval rating at an all time low it's no wonder we are seeing more discussion about his decisions. This article (linked below) illustrates, at least in my mind, why some people are so upset with Obama. He's trying to play both sides and be a popular president. What's interesting in this piece is how much blame he's spreading around about the bail out, which I think we can all agree hasn't done any real good, unless you make cars.

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posted in Army at 08:41:33

Tuesday December 08

Obama's Ratings Lowest Rating Of All Time

President Obama's job approval rating has fallen to 47 percent in the latest Gallup poll, the lowest ever recorded for any president at this point in his term.

Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and even Richard Nixon all had higher approval ratings 10-and-a-half months into their presidencies. Obama's immediate predecessor, President George W. Bush, had an approval rating of 86 percent, or 39 points higher than Obama at this stage.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he doesn't "put a lot of stock" in the survey by Gallup, which has conducted presidential approval polls since 1938, longer than any other organization.

"If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I'd visit my doctor," Gibbs said in response to questions from Fox. "I'm sure a six-year-old with a Crayon could do something not unlike that. I don't put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is daily Gallup trend. I don't pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it."

The new low comes as Obama struggles to overhaul the nation's health care system and escalates America's involvement in the Afghanistan war. He is also presiding over a deep and prolonged recession, with unemployment at 10 percent.

"There's no doubt Obama's 47 percent is mainly a result of the continuing bad economy," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "But there is also a growing concern about government spending and debt, and a sense that Obama is trying to do too much, too soon."
People are giving all kinds of reasons for why Obama's ratings are so low, mostly blaming it on the horrible economy and the war. I have to think some of this backlash comes from too much talk and too little action. So many promises were made that there were bound to be some failures. He's still got a ways to go in his term but I don't see him getting re-elected at this point. Why do you think his rating is so low?

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posted in Army at 11:54:36

Monday December 07

Soldiers Support Base Expansion in Afghanistan

Earlier this year, troops from the Maine National Guard’s 286th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion supported the first Afghan buildup by transporting equipment, supplies and building materials to numerous forward operating bases. They’re scheduled to return home by January, but they show no signs of stopping.

An element of Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan, the 286th CSSB runs regular convoys to Forward Operating Base Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in support of the Marines and westward expansion. With President Barack Obama’s recent decision to send 30,000 more troops here, the unit’s missions to Leatherneck, which started weeks ago, are even more timely.
If anyone should be judge what's working in Afghanistan it should be the troops on the ground. Obama's new plan has been announce and it sounds like many soldiers agree with the plan. More troops are needed to resolve this war and more bases in Afghanistan will play a major role.

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posted in Army at 13:10:59

Friday December 04

Military Goes Green

Inside a futuristic-looking dome that rises from the sandy wasteland of the high Mojave Desert, soldiers in plywood cubicles work at computers powered by solar panels and a towering wind turbine.

Plug-in cars shuttle the troops across the vast expanses here at Ft. Irwin in San Bernardino County. At night, tents lined with insulating foam provide a cool retreat at the end of a 100-degree day.

The desert base, which houses the Army's premier training center for troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, has become a testing ground and showcase for green initiatives that officials estimate could save the services millions, trim their heavy environmental "boot-print" and even save lives in the war zones, where fuel convoys are frequent targets.

The Department of Defense is the single largest energy consumer in the United States. Last year it bought nearly 4 billion gallons of jet fuel, 220 million gallons of diesel and 73 million gallons of gasoline, said Brian Lally, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.
The Military has been chasing green technology for some time and for different reasons than you might think. Most people think of green technology and images of tree huggers and global warming come to mind, but the Military is going green to save money and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Even better, when the Military putting resources into green technologies that means that technology will filter down to us sooner rather than later. This is a pretty long article but well worth checking out.

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posted in Army at 09:34:55
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Thursday December 03

Alleged Fort Hoot Shooter?

Thirty-two specifications of attempted premeditated murder were preferred today against alleged Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Maj. Nidal M. Hasan under Article 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The UCMJ is the U.S. military's legal system for servicemembers.

Hasan allegedly killed 13 people - 12 Soldiers and one civilian employee - and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood during a Nov. 5 shooting spree. He now is confined in a medical facility.

The alleged shooter was confronted and wounded by two civilian police officers posted on the base. One of the officers, Sgt. Kimberly Munley, was wounded during an exchange of shots with the suspected gunman.
First, I'm glad to see so many attempted murder charges. This should help make sure this guy gets the maximum penalty. Hopefully death by firing squad. My issue with this article, and most that discuss the case is calling Hasan the "alleged" gunman. There's nothing alleged about it. Everyone saw him with the gun, shooting people. Sgt. Munley shot him, ending his deadly spree. But I guess if the news says he did it then they can get into trouble. How backwards is that?

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posted in Army at 13:52:31
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Wednesday December 02

Obama Pledges Troops to Afghanistan!

The Afghanistan strategy review included many options, but President Barack Obama deemed the increase of 30,000 U.S. troops to institute counterinsurgency operations was the best one.

The president said the national security leadership team discussed the concerns that many people have about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. He addressed them in his speech tonight at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Obama said there are many who say that the war in Afghanistan is like the U.S. war in Vietnam.

"They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing," he said. "Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history."

Unlike Vietnam, a broad coalition supports the effort in Afghanistan, the president said. The Taliban is an extremist group, not a popular front like the Viet Cong.

"And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border," Obama said. "To abandon this area now - and to rely only on efforts against al-Qaida from a distance - would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al-Qaida, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies."
I have to say, I'm very happy with Obama's speech and dedication to ending this conflict in Afghanistan. Troops are what's needed most and Obama has committed an additional 30,000 troops. This decision is pretty widely supported, though there are always people who will disagree, like windbag Michael Moore. Obama's plan is solid and better late than never.

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posted in Army at 09:14:49

Another Fort Hood Soldier Arrested

Dallas police have detained a Fort Hood soldier a police spokesman says was absent without leave after making threatening comments.

Police spokesman Andy Harvey says that officers picked up the 21-year-old private in his vehicle Tuesday at the direction of military personnel and are holding him for military police.
Police have arrested another soldier after he made threats and went AWOL. There is no current speculation of a connection to last month's deadly shooting. I have to ask though, what's going on at Ft. Hood? How many soldiers out there are unstable and could be potential threats? I suspect we'll start seeing a good deal more about this in the weeks and months ahead.

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posted in Army at 09:09:24

Monday November 30

Afghanistan Plan Calls For More Than Just Troops

The Afghanistan strategy President Barack Obama will detail Tuesday involves more than sending additional forces, experts and officials say, and will give the president a chance to address growing public skepticism.

Obama "is in a moment in which he really has to regain the approval of the American people, as well as people around the world, that we are on the right course," Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN Sunday.

The president's decision, which will be announced in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., comes after months of debate within the administration. That debate intensified as the Afghan insurgency continued to heat up throughout the year, the Afghan government was roiled by a disputed election and a troop request by the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was leaked to The Washington Post in September.
While we continue to wait for troops to actually be deployed, more details continue to emerge on the plan for Afghanistan. Although the plans seem overly vague, like "less civilian deaths" and still no troops being sent. Obama's approval rating is at an all time low and he has an opportunity to send a message that he's committed to Afghanistan.

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posted in Army at 11:34:21
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Wednesday November 25

How Does The Army Do Thanksgiving Dinner?

How do you plan Thanksgiving dinner for 180,000 people more than 6,000 miles away? If you're a food buyer at the Defense Logistics Agency, you start by making a shopping list in April for meals to be served to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Providing superb meals to our U.S. troops is a critical mission of the Defense Logistics Agency, and one we put a great deal of effort into," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Chambers commander of the DLA Philadelphia field activity, which provides all the food for U.S. military personnel worldwide, 365 days a year.

"It's very important to us to give our troops a taste of home during the holidays, so we start planning the traditional Thanksgiving meal even before Memorial Day rolls around," Chambers said.

DLA employees in the Philadelphia-based subsistence supply chain start their Thanksgiving meal planning this early to make sure that food items and ingredients will arrive overseas in time for the holiday. Many ingredients for the meals are on hand at prime vendor locations by September, and bigger dining facilities start receiving high-volume items, such as turkeys and large beef roasts, in October.
Whoah! 225,980 pounds of turkey! This is amazing. I'm so glad to see our troops get a great Thanksgiving dinner. I wish they could all be home with their families, but this has to be the next best thing. As you can imagine, the logistics of giving the soldiers a Thanksgiving meal is quite the task. Luckily, tradition is something the Military believes strongly in. Happy Thanks giving to all our troops and come home safe!

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posted in Army at 08:06:56

Tuesday November 24

Obama Ready To Commit Troops?

The White House braced for a tough sell of President Barack Obama's long-awaited decision on whether to commit tens of thousands of new U.S. forces to the stalemated war in Afghanistan, even as the president met with top advisers for possibly the last major deliberations before an announcement.

Military officials and others expect Obama to settle on a middle-ground option that would deploy an eventual 32,000 to 35,000 U.S. forces to the 8-year-old conflict. That rough figure has stood as the most likely option since before Obama's last large war council meeting earlier this month, when he tasked military planners with rearranging the timing and makeup of some of the deployments.
I'm shocked this has taken as long as it has, and we still don't have a definitive decision to commit more troops. As previously stated, every expert on the matter says more troops are needed. This has been going on since we announced we were going into Afghanistan. Thankfully, it looks like we are very close to commuting 32,000 to 35,000 troops. Lets just hope it's not another 3 months.

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posted in Army at 08:19:16
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