SFTT Editor Roger Charles Live on Radio

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We are thrilled to announce that  Geoff “Jeff” Metcalf will conduct a LIVE RADIO INTERVIEW with Col. Roger Charles, editor Stand For The Troops, Wed. Jan 4th at 8PM PST (11 PM EST) Topic: Procurement Scandal over Shoddy Dept. of Defense Approved body armor.    SFTT readers are encouraged to call in and listen to the interview by calling in on the following numbers:

703-836-0384 (land line, VOIP) and (cell)

703-980-7551 plus 2d land line (VOIP) 703-836-6736.

Roger Charles, Vice Chair / Secretary of Stand For The Troops

A career Marine Corps officer from 1967 to 1990, Roger Charles has enjoyed a second career as an award-winning investigative journalist. He was a member in 2004 of the 60 Minutes II production team that earned a Peabody Award for the segment “Abuse at Abu Ghraib.”

Among his other journalistic achievements: Charles was awarded a Medal for Excellence in Investigative Reporting by journalism’s Investigative Reporters and Editors (I.R.E.) association for his 1992 Newsweek cover story, “Sea of Lies,” and was an Emmy finalist for best investigative piece for the Nightlight Special “The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War” in 1992.

For television, Charles has served as a consulting investigative reporter and contributor to segment development for 20/20 (a special project on the Oklahoma City bombing), ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, Frontline, Prime Time Live, BBC News, and CNN, among others.

Charles has served as an advisor on numerous stories for various print and electronic media outlets including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and The New Yorker. He has been published in Newsweek, Insight, The Washington Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, Soldier of Fortune, Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, and the Marine Corps Gazette, where he served as editorial board member from 1987-1989. In 1996, Charles broke the story of the fraudulent use of combat insignia by Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations.

“I saw while I was on active duty that many of the national media that cover security and defense issues are truly ill-informed about basic things they need to perform their job properly,” says Charles of his shift to a civilian role as an investigative journalist specializing in a range of national security issues. “This just destroys any kind of credibility this reporting has for any military audience.”

In 1998, Soldiers For The Truth Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, apolitical, educational foundation whose purpose is meaningful reform of the U.S. defense establishment, was formed, with Charles serving as the editor-in-chief of its newsletter, Voice of the Grunt. Charles remained active on the non-profit’s Board of Trustees until December 2004, when an ailing Hackworth asked him to assume the foundation presidency and Charles now fills the role of Vice Chair, “The foundation was created around three issues: leadership, training, and equipment,” says Charles. “Think of a stool with three legs. Remove any one of those legs and the stool falls apart.”





The US Military Budget Debate

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The US military budget is roughly $700 billion  a year and defense leaders are being asked to cut costs of this sizable and growing budget.    According to a recent article published by NPR, the defense budget represents approximately 50% of total discretionary federal spending.   While the Department of Defense has committed to cut $450 billion in spending over the next ten years, the sad reality is that overall military spending is likely to remain at very high levels when measured as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”).

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has suggested that any further cuts would most certainly undermine our defense capabilities, but would they?  Several months ago, SFTT contributor Jim Magee offered his suggestions to cut several useless programs and bureaucratic fluff from our military budget and indicated that there were plenty of other programs that deserved the axe.

When it comes to a debate about our serious cuts if it were to compromise our military security.    When considering the large numbers involved, how is one to know if we are more or less secure by adding $100 billion or cutting $100 billion from current levels of spending.     Do more expenditures mean improved security?  It is impossible to answer that question without knowing where the incremental expenditures will be made, but most Congressional leaders are not prepared to be on the side of a debate to demand a more efficient accounting of military expenditures when the safety of the US is at stake.

For this reason, the proponents of increased military spending will always win the debate even if there is credible evidence that our military procurement system is broken.   How do we know?   Well, no less of an authority as the Department of Defense Chief of Acquisition says so.

While one doesn’t want to minimize the challenges ahead, particularly the escalating medical costs of treating our war veterans for PTSD and other medical ailments, Congress and our military leaders must make some tough and realistic decisions without raising the specter of compromising US security.  Do I think this will occur?  Of course not.



Military News you may have missed: Oct 30, 2010

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Military News you may have missed – October 9, 2010

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Military News you may have missed – October 2, 2010

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  •  Court Tosses $35.2 Million *Body*-*Armor* Settlement

    October 2, 2010 – This sad story never seems to go away.

  •  BAE Develops ‘Three in One’ *Body Armor* | Kit Up!

    October 2, 2010 – When military contractors talk about “add-ons” and “customization” features I see extra costs. Is this a serious piece of protective gear or just a promotional piece?

  •  Is the *US Army* serious about replacing the M4? « Strike – Hold!

    October 2, 2010 – Good question. Despite its age and inadequacies, not sure there is the commitment to change.

  •  General Dynamics Awarded $25 Million by *U.S. Army* to Produce MK47 Weapon Systems

    October 2, 2010 – New grenade launcher.

  •  *Army* establishes *Army* Cyber Command

    October 2, 2010 – Not sure I understand the mission: ARCYBER’s mission is to plan, coordinate, integrate, synchronize, direct, and conduct network operations and defense of all Army networks. When directed, ARCYBER will conduct cyberspace operations in support of full spectrum operations to ensure U.S. and allied freedom of action in cyberspace, and to deny the same to adversaries.

    Does each military branch need their own cyber security?

  • Yemen as much a threat as *Afghanistan*, report says

    October 2, 2010 – This is certainly not good news.

  •  Gates says too few in US bear the burdens of *war*

    October 2, 2010 – Interesting perspective from Secretary Gates on attracting and retaining qualified officers for the military.

  • *War* veterans’ care to cost $1.3 trillion

    October 2, 2010 – The cost of committing US troops to combat has long term consequences that are often overlooked when determining whether the “costs” justify the intended security benefits.

  • Military thwarted president seeking choice in *Afghanistan*

    September 28, 2010 – Can’t wait to get a copy of Bob Woodward’s book. Not convinced the military brass sand-bagged the President. If you seek a “military solution” then it it probably best to consult our military leadership. If you are looking for a “diplomatic” or “political” solution, then it might be better to seek counsel from other sources. Most importantly, if you are seeking to determine whether American lives lost (and maimed) and the countless billions of dollars of scare resources are worth the hoped for military, diplomatic or political “solution,” then please seek counsel from history and trusted advisors and friends who put our country’s long-term well-being ahead of any particular agenda. In other words, don’t ask the pastry chef to give you menu options.


Call to properly equip our frontline troops

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Gen. Robert ScalesIn a fascinating article published on September 27th in the National Defense Magazine, retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales argues that  the Department of Defense (“DOD”) “has failed to pay adequate attention to improving the equipment and training for small infantry units” currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Gen. Scales, a former commandant of the Army War College and military historian, claims that while “we’re still the best ground force in the world . . .”   when it comes to ground combat, the American military “hasn’t come as far as it should.  It doesn’t dominate in the tactical fight.”

In a speech delivered to a gathering of defense experts and journalists at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Gen. Scales argues that the tactical superiority the United States enjoys in the air and on the sea hasn’t manifest itself on the ground.  According to the National Defense Magazine article which

Years of combat have shown that the soldiers and marines who are the most likely to die are the ‘least trained and equipped for this dangerous calling,’ Scales says.”

Citing a “Beltway culture this is fixated on big-ticket weapons,”  policy-makers ” dodge meaningful discussions about the tactical aspects of war on the ground because close-contact combat is ‘dirty, horrific and bloody,’ says Scales. ‘People just don’t want to talk about that.’”   Citing his experiences at a recent congressionally mandated panel, Gen. Scales commented that during countless hours of testimony “I don’t believe the topic of ground combat ever came up.”  “These wonderful neat things inside the Beltway tend to trump the bloody and uncomfortable aspects” of the wars U.S. troops are now fighting, he says. “There are so few people in positions of authority who have had experience with that sort of thing.”

The Defense Department’s scientific communities have never made small units a strategic priority in research and development. Scales specifically pointed his finger at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. “The greatest disappointment is DARPA,” says Gen. Scales. “It doesn’t appear that the reality of the tactical battlefield has worked its way into the scientific and technological development entities . . . We still view the preparation of small units as an industrial process of mass production.”While we spend billions of dollars on instrumented training ranges and digital simulators, Gen. Scales notes that “small unit leaders still have to gain proficiency the old fashioned way: in combat, by shedding the blood of their soldiers.”

Gen. Scales is not the first to point out that the grunts on the ground appear to get short-changed in the procurement process when it comes to making sure that they have reliable – why not the BEST?combat gear and protective gear. Are we too fascinated by the techie toys such as the Predator to consider the well-being and safety of our troops?  Perhaps, it is as Gen. Scales so eloquently argues, “there are so few people in positions of authority who have had experience with that sort of thing . . . close-contact combat is dirty, horrific and bloody!”

General Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  recently argued that “low-end” wars would become increasingly common and that these wars would call for increased emphasis for troops to be deployed in hostile war zones.   If this is a war-planning scenario that our military leadership believes probable, shouldn’t we be making haste to insure our ground troops have the best combat equipment and protective gear available.     Gen. Scales believes so – as do many of the families of troops currently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Military News you may have missed – September 25, 2010

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Military News you may have missed – September 20, 2010

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Military News you may have missed – September 11, 2010

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