Military News Highlights: February 8, 2011

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Military tries one-stop shop for treatment of concussions

One hundred and sixty thousand troopers have been diagnosed with concussions since 2000.  I bet that is a conservative estimate/data point, given the fact that the stigma of reporting a head-injury and the evolving science of diagnosis.

Nevertheless, there has been three-hundred and ten concussions diagnosed in the past five months at lovely Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.  And for in-camp/intra-theater treatment, naval medical officers have established a “one-stop shop” where you can take your bruised brain, plug in some earthy-Yanni type music, get a 30 minute acupuncture treatment – and, presto, you can go out on patrol again.  Please don’t tell me that the wounded replacement system can’t assign a new Marine or Soldier to an unmanned billet and replace a trooper who was shipped home to heal properly.  Please say that this isn’t so?

A Blood-Stained Rifle, and Questions of the Taliban

Straight from CJ Chivers NYT blog:

“One of the Apache crews saw him with the rifle. Under the rules of engagement that guide when and how American troops can use lethal force, the cyclist was now considered a combatant under arms. This made him a justifiable target. The aircraft opened fire with the chain gun, striking the cyclist in the head. The shooting was now over. By this time an American ground patrol had been ordered to the area to retrieve the Taliban bodies and equipment and carry them back to an American base, where the bodies would later be turned over to villagers. The patrol scoured the fields, gathering the rifles, several hand grenades, Kalashnikov magazines, the broken motorcycles and other items. When the soldiers reached the bicycle, they discovered that the Afghan man on the bicycle was not a man. He was a boy who they estimated was somewhere between the age of 11 and 14. The 30-millimeter round from the Apache had struck his head squarely, killing him instantly.”

You think maybe a little bit of overkill?  An Ah-64 Apache versus a motorcycle with three armed knuckleheads?  Got it that their armed status met the ROE for threat, PID, etc…but, really?  So we’ve (US/NATO) been in Ghazni (Andar district) for the past decade (i.e. Afghan ring road runs straight through it from Kandahar to Kabul, so it’s a no-brainer, gotta have a PRT in Ghazni and have supporting combat troops there to secure it, etc…) and the best we can do is launch an AH-64 against a motorcycle threat with three armed “combatants”? 

Bicycle in Afghanistan

You think we’ve won the hearts and minds of the villagers and elders who report to the FOB to secure the remains of four of its sons? 

Why not allow the aerial platform observe and monitor the motorcycle (and threat) and pinpoint the destination location and call in the Afghan National Security Forces to conduct an operation against them?   You know, build that legitimacy-thingy in their institutions…

And as to the morality of killing a child, the SFTT news team will leave that to the on-scene commander who called in the rotary-wing air support to wrestle with.   

Violence continues in Iraq as US mission changes

Lest we forget that 50,000 US troopers are still in Iraq supporting Operation New Dawn.  Since September 1st 2010, 18 troopers have made the  ultimate sacrifice, 6 during 2011 alone.  While 97 US soldiers have been awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded in action, including 25 this year alone.

Lest we forget.  The grind continues.

Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta to leave military

Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta announced that he will not re-enlist and leave the Army later this spring. 

Thank you for your service Staff Sergeant Giunta!


Military News Highlights: December 28, 2010

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Iraq Wants the U.S. Out: Prime Minister, in Interview, Says Troops Must Leave Next Year as Planned

Lest we forget that close to 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq supporting Operation New Dawn.  At least the Iraqi Prime Minister made it abundantly clear that all US troops must leave at the end of 2011 as planned.  Maliki put the issue to rest for Pentagon planners and some Iraqi officials that are hoping to extend the deadline.  In the meantime our troops remain in an unwelcome country.

Afghan Security Deteriorates: U.N. Maps Show Risks in Many Districts Have Increased Despite Troop Surge

Key Highlights:

  • Internal United Nations maps show a marked deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan during this year’s fighting season, countering the Obama administration’s optimistic assessments of military progress since the surge of additional American forces began a year ago.
  • The maps, used by U.N. personnel to gauge the dangers of travel and running programs, divide the country’s districts into four categories: very high risk, high risk, medium risk and low risk.  In the October map, just as in March’s, nearly all of southern Afghanistan—the focus of the coalition’s military offensives—remained painted the red of “very high risk,” with no noted improvements. At the same time, the green belt of “low risk” districts in northern, central and western Afghanistan shriveled.
  • The U.N.’s October map upgraded to “high risk” 16 previously more secure districts in Badghis, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh, Parwan, Baghlan, Samangan, Faryab, Laghman and Takhar provinces; only two previously “high risk” districts, one in Kunduz and one in Herat province, received a safer rating.
  • A Pentagon report mandated by Congress drew similar conclusions when it was released last month. It said attacks were up 70% since 2009 and threefold since 2007. As a result of the violence, the Taliban still threaten the Afghan government, according to the report. The White House’s National Security Council declined to comment.
  • “The country as a whole is dramatically worse off than a year ago, both in terms of the insurgency’s geographical spread and its rate of attacks,” said Nic Lee, director of the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office. “Vast amounts of the country remain insecure for the unarmed civilians, and more and more areas are becoming inaccessible.”