SFTT Military News: Week Ending Apr 28, 2017

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Found below are a few military news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT.

Israeli Airstrike at Syrian Airport Confirmed
An Israeli missile strike has caused a large explosion and fire at a military site near Damascus international airport, Syrian state media report. A fuel tank and warehouses were damaged, the Sana news agency said. But Syrian rebel sources said an arms depot run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, which is fighting in Syria as an ally of the government, was hit. Israel said the explosion was “consistent” with its policy to prevent Iran smuggling weapons to Hezbollah.  Read more . . .

Brain Shock Therapy by US DARPA Army Research Group
The US military is working with seven American universities to see if electrically stimulating the brain will increase the ability to learn new skills. The Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program is focused on synaptic plasticity, the ability of the brain to build new neural pathways to absorb knowledge. By stimulating the nerves that connect neurons in the brain and spinal cord to organs, skin and muscles, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is hoping that the brain can be trained to learn new skills more quickly.  Read more . . .

Rethinking the US Military Health System
During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2001 – 2014), the United States’ military health system completely transformed its approach to casualty care, achieving the highest rate of survival from battlefield wounds in the history of warfare. It is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of US medicine. Ironically, the same health care system that worked miracles “down range” in Iraq and Afghanistan faces mounting criticism at home. How can this be? In part, it is because the military health system has two distinctive missions: support combat and humanitarian assistance missions overseas and provide comprehensive health services to millions of service members, their families, and military retirees at home.   Read more . . .

North Korean Military Strength Overrated?
North Korea’s soldiers mostly carry fake weapons during their mass-scale parades, a former US intelligence officer has said. Michael Pregent believes many of the arms flaunted by menacing-looking North Korean troops during their displays are dummies, and claims even their sunglasses wouldn’t be fit for combat. Pregent was asked to look at photographs from an April 15 military parade in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.  Read more . . .


 Taliban Announces Spring Offensive
Afghanistan’s Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive Friday, promising to build their political base in the country while focusing military assaults on coalition and Afghan security forces. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the launch of the offensive in an email statement that boasted Taliban control over more than half of the country, referencing a February report issued by Washington’s special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction. That report said that the Afghan government had control or influence over only 52 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts last year, down from 63.4 percent previously.  Read more . . .

Brainwave Study to Help Fight PTSD
The new study was led by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. The investigators sought to tackle PTSD from another angle, through the patients’ own brainwaves. The study involved 18 patients who completed an average of 16 successive, daily sessions of what the researchers called “noninvasive closed-loop acoustic stimulation brainwave technology.” During the sessions, the patients’ brain activity was monitored and certain brain frequencies were translated into acoustic tones that were then relayed back to the patients via earbuds.  Read more . . .

 Whistleblower Protection Executive Order for VA
President Donald Trump, as part of his dash to rack up wins before the end of his first 100 days, signed an executive order Thursday that creates a new office devoted to protecting whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.Before signing the order at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump said the new office will help provide veterans with the “health care they need and the health care they deserve.””We are not going to let them down,” Trump said, arguing that the order “makes it clear that we will never tolerate substandard care for our great veterans” and ensure that those who report problems at the veterans affairs are protected.  Read more . . .

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops


SFTT Military News: Week of April 7, 2017

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Found below are a few military news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT.

US Military Options in Syria
Trump said that Tuesday’s attack “crossed a lot of lines” for him and that his “attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much.” And Trump told some members of Congress that he’s considering military action in Syria in response, a source familiar with the calls told CNN on condition of anonymity. Trump has not yet spelled out what his administration will do, if anything. But inevitably, speculation is focused on whether he might embark on military action where former US President Barack Obama did not. So what are the possible military options for the US in Syria?  Read more . . .

Budget Gridlock Could Harm Military
Lawmakers must finalize a budget for the remainder of fiscal 2017 by the end of April or trigger a partial government shutdown. In recent days, talk of a continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of September has slowly built in the halls of Congress, raising concerns among defense officials who say that would cause tremendous funding headaches for the military.  Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned that with the U.S. facing foreign threats and wars against terrorism, it is no time to risk national security by closing the year with a continuing resolution or returning to statutory budget caps.  Read more . . .


Being a Military Advisor in the Middle East is Not Easy
Americans are currently advising Iraqi troops in a vicious fight against ISIS in Mosul, and the United States has almost doubled, to nearly 1,000, the number of U.S. soldiers and Marines on the ground in northern Syria just in the past month. But training local fighters is a risky job that’s hard to do right, especially in the Middle East, which is splintered into groups with conflicts that go back centuries. Those divisions can be religious (Sunni vs. Shiite), ethnic (Arab vs. Kurd) and national (Turkey vs. Syria). An advisor’s job is made all that much harder by the fact that the divisions overlap.  Read more . . .

Taliban to Focus on Vulnerable Provinces in 2017
“There will be an increase in attacks in those provinces that are on the verge of collapse,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Stars and Stripes. While in the past the group had single units covering several provinces, Mujahid said: “This year, we have a unit for every province in the country.” The ability to control the capitals of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces appears to be the barometer that U.S. and NATO forces use to measure success in the Afghan conflict. Occupying a capital has been a top priority of the Taliban, and some fear this could be the year they finally succeed.  Read more . . .

Common Antibiotic Helps Inhibit Fear Memories
Researchers from University College London and the University of Zurich recently discovered a startling side-effect of the common antibiotic doxycycline – it can disrupt and suppress the formation of fear memories in the brain. This fascinating discovery could not only lead to novel treatments for PTSD, but also offers scientists a clue to how the brain forms lasting fear and threat memories.  Read more . . .

Can Ayahuasca Reduce Dependence on Addictive Drugs?
Combat-related PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat and in theory ayahuasca can work as a form of drug-assisted exposure therapy. When traumatised people repeatedly avoid fear-inducing situations this only serves to maintain and reinforce the deeply ingrained conditioning that underlies their illness. The idea is that by dredging up traumatic memories and exposing them to conscious awareness within a safe, controlled environment, ayahuasca allows the brain to reassess and extinguish conditioned fear responses.  Read more . .

J. David Cox

J. David Cox

Legislation Needed to Fire Incompetent Employees at the VA
A bill to give Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin authority to quickly fire incompetent employees faces a major battle in the Senate, although it has his backing and has already passed the House. Shulkin came out in favor of the legislation after realizing he couldn’t immediately fire an employee caught watching pornography at work.  While the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 passed the House, only 10 Democrats voted in support.  The ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, voted against the bill.  Read more . . .

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops


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: January 18, 2011

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In Afghanistan, uptick in violence this winter coincides with less snow

No brainer, lack of snow in “the passes” means mobility and infiltration, right?  Not so fast.  Actually to claim that sustained Taliban combat operations has extended into the “traditional non-fighting winter months” because of a lack of snow in “the passes” is a bit of stretch.  Maybe the mild weather isn’t a factor because US/NATO has not be effective in degrading threat capabilities.  That is probably the truth, and we shouldn’t shy away from that.  But hey, that’s the latest talking point coming from Kabul, so it must be true.

Afghanistan’s push to tax U.S. contractors could renew tensions

So a corrupt government that is incapable of implementing an equitable tax system for Afghan wage earners can arbitrarily decide to tax US contractors for the wages they earn while they risk their lives to improve the government’s quality of life.  Makes perfect flipping sense.

US soldiers killed while training Iraqis

This past weekend  two US troops were murdered by an Iraqi soldier during a training exercise.

The grind in Iraq continues; an Operation New Dawn.


Military News Highlights: January 14, 2011

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Vantage Point: The Challenges of Small-Unit Patrolling in Afghanistan

C.J. Cheevers from the New York Times has been a go-to 24/7 resource for the SFTT news project; CJ also recently published the definitive history of the Avtomat Kalashnikov this past year in “The Gun.”  his NYT blog is a new entry that he will update periodically that the SFTT news team directs your attention to.

The first video blog provides an upfront and personal look at an aero-medevac of a wounded Marine in Marja.

As these video blogs become available, the SFTT news team will re-post them.

U.S. moves to strengthen local Afghan officials

In an attempt to improve legitimacy and capacity, the cornerstones to good governance, Regional Command South has created “security bubbles” that allow local residents and government officials to interact and “govern”, while “200-300” Taliban fighters remain around Kandahar.

Let’s do some math.  The population of Afghanistan is approximately 30 million.  The population of Kandarhar city proper is approximately 500,000.  Who knows the what the number of government officials and employees are required to make the trains run on time.

Oh, and the most recent  estimate of insurgents in Afghanistan is 25,000, but now we are supposed to believe that there are “200-300” Taliban fighters “around” Kandahar.   Do the math.

Rush for results in Afghanistan may undermine aid goals

In 2008, the USG approved a $75 million rule of law reform initiative for Afghanistan that neither reformed nor proved to be much of an initiative.  Unless you can accept that $15 million was spent to hire consultants that hosted kite-flying competitions.

Great way to spend US tax dollars.


Five US/NATO troops were killed in action on January 12, 2011 in Afghanistan.

The grind continues.


Military News Highlights: January 11, 2011

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Is the tide turning in southern Afghanistan ?

Back in the fall of 2006, the Kagans, Frederick and Kimberly, from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), peddled the “surge” on a set of Power Point slides via General (Ret.) Jack Keane.  First to the Office of the Vice President, then to the President, then to the Pentagon, and then to CENTCOM, and finally to Congress – standard operating procedure back then.  The result?  The “surge” into Iraq and the “reversal of a failed war strategy” according to Fred and Kim.  FYI – In regards to Fred’s credibility you can make your own decision, but we are providing this 2007 Daily Kos story for your reference. 

Nevertheless, Fred and Kim are back at it with support from AEI and the Institute for the Study of War (whatever that means) and have issued a new report stating “the obvious:”  that recent US surge in southern Afghanistan has “turned the war around” and other sensational successes.  These include that: the Taliban has effectively lost all its main safe havens in the region (southern Afghanistan); disruption of acquiring, transporting, and using IED’s; aggressive targeting of narcotics facilitators and financiers (to great effect); that Herat and Kabul are reasonably secured; US/NATO is maintaining tenuous security in the Jalalabad Bowl; that any reports that state that the north is slipping into Taliban control are simply overblown; any gains made so far will be lost if the U.S. were to withdraw prematurely; and finally that reconciliation with the Taliban risks igniting an “ethnic war” that will embroil the region circa the 1990’s.  

To add credibility to the report, both Fred and Kim are eager to let everybody know that they spent over 120 days in Afghanistan studying the situation – knee deep in the trenches, kind of SLA Marshall I guess.

The report and promoting of its findings (via General Keane again) is timed, just like the 2006 report/slides, to “put some calcium” into the administration and prevent (or slow down) the scheduled troop withdrawal to begin this upcoming July. 

It’s a slick operation – and unfortunately, it will probably work.

Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2011

Because what happens in Pakistan is critical to any US/NATO success in Afghanistan, reports of increased drone strikes always draws some attention.  However, aside from the occasional antiseptic (and seemingly trivial) AP or Reuters news flash detailing the number of suspected insurgents or AQ operatives killed, one never really gets a full sense of the scope and impact that these drone strikes are having on the threat that operates with impunity in Pakistani safe havens.  Interesting to note in this Long Wars Journal report that charts the data from drone strikes since 2004, specifically that the Hekmatyer group, one of four major threats that emanates from our ally-buddy Pakistan has only been targeted two times.  Yep, twice out of the 219 drone strikes.  Why is that?  Who in the ISI or Pakistani government is Hekmatyer in bed with? 

Hekmatyer is sure one lucky fella.

Afghanistan watchdog resigns

Inadvertently hidden in the tragic Arizona news from this past weekend was the announcement this past Monday that the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) had resigned from his position.  Major General (Ret.) Arnold Fields, appointed by President Bush in 2008, apparently was neither inspecting reconstruction contracts awarded in Afghanistan or doing anything in response (or special) with the flagrant and rampart corruption associated with the awards of these contracts.  Members of Congress criticized General Fields for failing to investigate over $55 billion in grants and contracts awarded by the US for the purpose of community development in Afghanistan – good on them.

But, I thought development and government credibility/legitimacy were building blocks in the US/NATO COIN strategy (and narrative).  And I also heard General Happy Talk Petreaus recently discuss how swimmingly well things were in fortress Kabul. 

So if reconstruction contracts and grants haven’t been properly screened for corruption and graft in the past, who is to say that any future development and reconstruction in Afghanistan will be legitimate in future?


Military News Highlights: January 5, 2011

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Reintegrated Taliban Join Afghan Police

While reintegrating former Taliban members into the general Afghan community and allowing them to join the Afghan Police may be well intentioned.  Prudence is required considering the increased Afghan security force blue-on-blue incidents resulting in numerous US/NATO murders.  Unfortunately provincial, district, and tribal elders vouching for Taliban reintegration will not be intended targets if these former members reconsider their newfound allegiance. It is a risk, plain and simple, like throwing caution to the wind.

Afghan government plans extravagant wedding ban

Growing and exporting poppy is not banned in Afghanistan, nor cutting off noses of girls who upend tribal codes.  But apparently “extravagant weddings” may soon be banned.  Tell that to families who often ask us why the US is fighting in Afghanistan.  One of the many reasons I suppose.

Blogs give voice to spouses

If anyone was wondering what military spouses are experiencing while their loved serves in Iraq or Afghanistan (or upon redeployment) and in garrison, carve out some time and read some of these blogs.  Many thanks to Terri Barnes of Stars and Stripes for publishing this list of blogs by military spouses and Ann Marie Detavernier(Household 6 Diva) who agreed to share this comprehensive list.

SFTT is proud to pass this list along and we hope that our readers will be encouraged to add their voice and support to the spouses of our men and women serving in harm’s way.

Gold Star Spouses

Won’t You Ride on With Me?

Air Force

A Day in the Life of a Military Wife **New 6 Nov**

A Day in the Life of an Air Force Wife

Adventures in Italia

Air Force. Wife. Life.

Air Force Recruiting: A Wife’s Point of View

Allens 4 Adventure

Ambitious Gurl: The Military Wife

Amy’s Avenue

An Airman & His Mrs **Updated 8 Nov**

Armendinger Party of 4

Blog 4 Mom – Blog of Shellie Ross

Bloggin’ Scogin

Brittney’s Blog **New 6 Nov**

Budgets are the New Black

Bullets and Music Notes

Cammo Style Love

Calm Crazy

Constant Beginnings

Daddy’s Duty

Enjoying Life with 4 Kids

Everybody Loves VD

Evolution of Peacocks

Faith and Deployments

Fearfully Wonderfully

Growing up Glen

Have Family, Will PCS **New 6 Nov**

He, Me,& B

He Wears Combat Boots, I Wear Stilettos

Home is where they send us

I Took the One Less Traveled

I’d Rather Be Laughing

In The Pursuit Of Happy-Ness

jesstagirl and her officer

Just a Geek Named Jess

Lamp Unto My Feet

Life and times of an impatient military wife

Life of a Military Wife

Life on the Last Frontier **New 6 Nov**

Life With The Two…

Live, Laugh, Love… Our Way

Loving Life as an Air Force Wife **New 6 Nov**

Married Life

Married My Airman

Midget Momma

Military Wife. Crazy Mom. Wicked Step Mother **New 30 Oct**

Mommy Wings

Moms Sharpening Moms

Moore to Love

Mrs. S’s Life as an AF Wife

My Crazy Camo World

My Life as an Air Force Wife

My Life as his (Air Force) Wife! **Updated 8 Nov**

One Step at a Time **New 8 Oct**

One Step Journeys

Oops… I {Art}ed

Ordinary Life of a Military Wife

Our Military Adventure

Our Military Journey

Pattie the Chaplain’s Wife

Preppy Girl Meets World

Rambling Military Wife

Ramblings of a Ferrell **New 6 Nov**

Reflections from a Christian Mommy Writer

Reviewing My World

Sarah Byrum **New 6 Nov**

Simply Misha **New 6 Nov**

Singing Through the Rain

Skinned Knees

Skipper Clan

Sometimes Life is Messy

That [Officer’s] Wife

The Adventures of Jahlon **New 6 Nov**

The Adventures of Mr Superman and Mrs S

The Air Force “Husbands” Handbook

The Life and Times of a Military Spouse

The life I chose

The Pavlik Perspective

The Punk Rock Mom

The Scherffs

The Tervo Times

The Unconventional Family

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Twisted But Sweet

Two Southerners Living in the Big City

Uncork and Unwined

Under Stars and Stripes

Watch the Sunset

Wild Blue Wonders **New 6 Nov**

Writing for Sanity


4 Nuts in a Nutshell

A Blog a Day While You’re Away

A Chick’s Captivation

A Cup of Jenn

A Day in the Life of 5

A Day in the Life of this Crazy Army Wife

A Florida Girl and Her Soldier

A Glimpse Inside

A little piece of me **New 6 Nov**

A lot o’ Curls and a High & Tight

A Military Wife’s Life

A Mother of Action **New 6 Nov**

A Personal Look Into My Life as a GI Joe’s Wife

A Southern Belle & Her Officer

A Wonderful Life

A Work of Heart

A’etonu Family Adventures

Adventures of a Lifetime **New 6 Nov**

An American Girl Settles in the South

An Army Wife’s Adventure to Alaska **New 6 Nov**

And the Army goes rolling along

Anger Party of 3

All in the Life of a Soldier’s Bride

Always Moving Forward

Amanda + Don

An Army State of Mind **New 30 Oct**

And The Wolfepack Goes Rolling Along

Annoyed Army Wife

Army Blogger Wife

Army Harmony

Army Housewifery

Army Life Adventures

Army Life w/ 3 Kids

Army of Two

Army Wife

Army Wife, Army Mom, Army Strong

Army Wife Living

Army Wife Style

Ashley Amazing

Aunt Jen the Army Wife

Battle Strong

Baylock and Company

Bean Dip and Baby G

Being a Better Wife

Bellies and Babies

Bionic Woman In Training

Blog Shmog! **New 6 Nov**

Blonde Glambition


Brown… Party of Five

Cause I don’t know how it gets any better!

Chances I’m Taking

Chantal’s Blog

Chronicles of Team Smitty

Click Clack Mom

Countdown to Homecoming

Cows and Combat Boots

Crossroads of an Army Wife **New 30 Oct**

Daily Dwelling

Diapers, Dolls, and Dogtags

Dogs, Dogtags, & Stilettos

Explosive Love

Financially Fit Mommy

Finding Joy in our Journey

Forget the Dog Not The Baby! **New 8 Nov**

Guinn and Bare It **New 30 Oct**

Green Enough for Me

Happily Household 6

Happy Life as an Army Wife

Hellcat Betty

Here Comes the Sun

Hiccups In Time

Home is Where God Sends You

Home is where the Army sends us **New 30 Oct**

I Could Be Fake

I Heart Change

I’m Sorry, I’m Wrong, You are Right, Please Forgive Me, I love you… Repeat

In Every Good Love Letter

In the Military and on the Move

It was Fate

It’s a Hooah Life

It’s Twinsanity

Julie the Army Wife

Just 4 Crows

jesstagirl and her officer

Just a Girl who loves an MP

L to the third

Learning As We Go

Life… as we live it

Life as Born’s Wife

Life as His Wife **New 8 Oct**

Life of an Army Wife

Life’s a dance you learn as your go **New 6 Nov**

Lindsay Writing

Livin’ On A Prayer

Livin Our Love Song

Living for Today Dreaming about Tomorrow

Living the Life of an Infantryman’s Wife

Made in His Image

Making it work

Magnolias and Mimosas

Mommy Panda **New 8 Nov**

Mary the 1st I am, I am

Me and My Soldier Man

Michelle the Rib

Military Mommy

Momma Zen

Monkeys and Tutus

Mothering Off the Cuff **New 8 Nov**

Mr and Mrs Boots

Mrs Mama Hen

My Army Love Life

My Camo Colored Life

My Camo Kids

My Gifts, Among Other Things

My Heart for Home

My Hero is You

My thoughts exactly! Hooah!

Navigating Army Life

Not Just an Army Wife **New 6 Nov**

Observations of a Token Yankee


One Lucky Monkey

One Mommy, Two Monsters

One Step at a Time

Our Army Family

Our Army Life

Our Crazy Life

Our Everyday Love

Our Family of “Quiet Professionals”

Our Life as an Army Family… HOOAH

Our Life Journey **New 30 Oct**

Our Little Slice of Army Life

Our So Called Army Life

Out of My Mind

Outside the Lines

Painting My Canvas

Pennies and Blessings

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments

PFT… A New Army Wife

Proud Liberal Army Wife

PTSD: A Caregiver’s Perspective

Queen of My Castle

Queen of Our Castle

Random Rants of an Army Wife

Rank and File Wifey

Real Relevant and Relational

Right Here, Right Now!

Robins Life as an Army Wife

Sara and Her Soldier **New 6 Nov**

Sarah Ruth Today

Sergeant Major Mom

Scatterbrained Wife of a Soldier

Sovereignly Sustaining Sanity

Stepping Into the Story

Stetsons, Spurs, and Stilettos

Stirring Up Dust

Storm Stories

Surviving the Distance

Sweeter Than Honey

Tales of a Brand New (Surprised) Army Wife

Tales of a Future Soldier and Infantry Wife **New 6 Nov**

Tara’s Ramblings

The Albrecht Squad

The Arthur Family **New 6 Nov**

The Forever Neighbor

The Glamorous Life of an Army Wife **New 6 Nov**

The Halloween Wife

The Happy Life Blog **New 6 Nov**

The Infertility Overachievers

The Liberato Lifestyle

The Meat and Potatoes of Life

The (Mis)Adventures of an Army Wife

The Mottos

The Multiple Sclerosis Quilt Project

The Optimistic Army Wife

The Peacocks Tale of Red White and Blue

The Quill

The Ramblings of a Sassy Soccer Mom

The Road Through Life – Army Love Style

The Sometimes Single Mom

The Thoughts of HouseHold Six

The Unexpected Army Life

The Whole Shebang

The Year After

These Talking Walls **New 6 Nov**

This American Wife

This isn’t happening…

Thrifty and Fabuless

Trading Diamonds for Dog Tags

Trail Mix Dish with this Household Six

Troop Petrie

Vintage Victories

Wade’s World

Web Dev_Army Wife

Welcome to Our Chaos

Where He Is, Is Home To Me… **New 6 Nov**

Whimsical Mom **New 30 Oct**

Wildflower Thinking

Witty Onsie

Word From The White’s

Yeah honestly

Yellow Pencil Stub **New 6 Nov**

Yellow Ribbon Diary

You + Me = Wiiii

Coast Guard

A Coasties Girl

Coastie Spouse

Jen Pen M

Make Me a Blessing

The Mamalogues **New 6 Nov**

Toddler in Tow


A Change of Scenery

A Queen of Diamonds in love..

Adventures in Life

Bauhman Party of 3 **New 6 Nov**

Baking… and Everything Else **New 6 Nov**

Beach Family Updates

Beautiful Mess

Boonie Caps & Tiaras

Cammies and Stilettos

Coffee With Betty **New 6 Nov**

Coie and Sparky

Colwells in Carolina

Crazy Made Me Do It

Daily Life of a Domestic Goddess

Deployment (again)

Deployment Woes

Diary of a Devil Dog Wife

Does this Baby make me look Fat?

Empty Nest, PCS and All the Rest

Flip Flops and Combat Boots

His Love & Her Love

I’ll be seeing you

It’s All The Little Things

It’s an OohRah Kinda Life

It’s that kinda love

Just a little color in his world of Camo

Just another day in paradise

Just your average sane psycho Supergoddess

Life Along The Way

Life is Better Blonde

Life with me and and the USMC

Life with One of the Few Good Men **New 30 Oct**

Life with the Lynches

Lipstick and Leathernecks

Living on a Prayer

Living the Camo Way

Love From Hawaii

Loving My Life as a Marine Wife

“M” Family Chronicles

Maine-ly T

Marine Wife Unplugged

Mommy and Alexa

More Than Military **New 6 Nov**

Mrs. Nix’s Black Passport **New 6 Nov**

My Life as an O3 Wife

My Marine and Me

My Wife Life

Newlywed and Deployed

Semper Fi Kind of Love

Shius Out of Her Mind

Small Wonders

Soaking Up Life and Love **New 6 Nov**

Sounds Like Life

Standing By Him

The Brownings

The Few, the Proud, the Wife

The GD Kitchen **New 6 Nov**

The Gunny’s Wife

The Ramblings of a Marine Wife

The Resor’s and a Mistress called the Marine Corps

The Rose Garden

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Military News Highlights: January 4, 2011

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U.S.-funded infrastructure deteriorates once under Afghan control, report says

Since 2001, the Commanders Emergency Relief Program (CERP) in Afghanistan has provided commanders quick and readily available resources to fund projects – to build schools, to build local government facilities, purchase generators, pave roads, etc.  And because Afghanistan is a target rich environment for CERP related projects given the effects of over 30 years of war and the lack of government capacity to provide services, CERP is sometimes the only means in which a small village or neglected district can survive.  Key to success of any CERP project, and the first question that is answered in doling out funds is whether the Afghans at the local, district, or provincial level will be able to maintain the project (i.e. maintenance and repair, sustainability, inspections, ensuring that the people benefit versus a power broker) after the US hands it off.   Ask any trooper with repetitive deployments to Afghanistan and ask him/her if the projects they put in place are still standing after their return and nine-times-out-of-ten the response will be no.  Numerous GAO reports, IG investigations, commanders inquiries, Afghan government inspections all produce the same response – deterioration.  Why is that?  And why does that matter?  The causes for deterioration are many – standard neglect, Afghans not trained to maintain the infrastructure, shoddy contractor construction, attacks by the Taliban, and/or the populace unwilling to use/maintain in fear of Taliban reprisal for US support.  And it matters because of the billions of dollars already expended and the fact that in the COIN narrative, effective and efficient maintenance of these projects is a metric to gauge how prepared Afghanistan is to take on governance on their own.   It appears that the 2014 goalposts could be moved back a little further back since local Afghans are incapable of maintaining the infrastructure put in place at the cost of untold blood and treasure.  If we the US/NATO can’t responsibly shift these projects to the Afghans, then how will they be able to hand off security responsibilities in the near future? 

 U.S. Marines report peace deal with tribe in Afghan hot spot (McClatchy Newspapers)

After 25 days of negotiations, the Marines in Helmand Province have agreed to a “peace deal” with the Alokozai Tribe.  The tribe has agreed to rein in Taliban confederates and cease attacks in exchange for the release of a religious leader being held by US/NATO, and funding for projects in the affected district (i.e. Sarwan Qala – 30 villages in Sangin District).  The tribe will expel foreign fighters, allow US/Afghan patrols, and provide intel on IED locations.  Question is what prompted the deal?  Steep US/NATO casualty rates?

Policy puts troops at risk for identity theft

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that US servicemembers are certainly at risk for identify theft, especially if their social security number is plastered on every document and identification card that they carry.  So yes, it is true, that in the digital age, anytime you pony up your social security number onto the spectrum you quickly become a target.  Really?  

And if military cultural norms and outdated reporting procedures are perpetuating this, then it’s time to adjust fire.  And doing it quick, very quick.  

So let me get this straight, an Army Private with a Secret Clearance downloads and exports thousands of classified reports and cables resulting in investigations, criminal charges, changes in policies, Pentagon edicts on no-access to “that site”; all of which is instituted in a matter of weeks and months. 

 But changing a policy so that individual social security numbers are no longer part of a servicemembers digital profile (and subjecting him/her to these risks) takes more time?   


 From the Pentagon to the private sector

In the last two decades alone, most of the 750 generals and flag officers who have retired have entered the “rent-a-general” business.  Conflict of interests?  Sure, but they get a pass on “pitting his/her duty to the US military against the interests of his employers.  “Sprinting” to the door?  Don’t let the door hit your fourth point of contact.  Anything being done about this revolving door syndrome where generals and admirals get tucked in bed by the defense-private sector?  Unfortunately not, and the rate of the turnstile has only increased over the past few years in comparison to the boom years from 1994 to 1998.  Good times for those lucky enough to cash in.  Good times indeed.

Weight hikes prompt uniform, armor review

During the past few years the Army has reissued an improved Army Combat Uniform, female-cut Army Combat Uniforms, a medium-sized rucksack, enhanced Night Vision Goggles, a second generation Improved Outer Tactical Vest, and an Enhanced Combat Helmet.  All of which did not have the benefit of updated data regarding the size and composition of the force that ultimately would (and are) using/wearing this gear.  A new review has been ordered that will collect the proper data of the size, weight, and body composition of a set sample of surveyed troops with the goal of upgrading the data used to develop new equipment and uniform items.  Glad to hear that they are finally getting their act together, you know, the proverbial cart behind the horse thingy.


Military News Highlights: December 30, 2010

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Busy With Afghanistan, the U.S. Military Has No Time to Train for Big Wars

Clearly the US military, and especially our infantry-centric units, are on the “margins” when only one brigade combat team has been able to break away from COIN focused training this past decade and conduct full-spectrum operations type training necessary to maintain current and future US strategic interests.  Further, the capability to conduct forcible entry operations has atrophied and “takes practice, and we don’t get a lot of practice.”

The tip of the spear, needed to respond to certain crisis, has dulled from the grueling focus of COIN, the perpetuity of Afghanistan deployments, the decade long wear and tear of equipment, and lack of strategic reserves.  While the US military remains preeminent, the sad fact of the matter is that the longer the US military focuses on COIN with endless deployments, the higher the probability that it will not be prepared for future contingencies.

Let no man’s soul cry out “had I the proper training.”

Aid groups in Afghanistan question U.S. claim of Taliban setbacks

While the happy talk on the progress and positive trends resulting from COIN and the “surge” in Afghanistan continues, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), aid groups, and notable security analysts are citing evidence to the contrary.  The most startling claim that insurgents now control less territory than they did in 2009 is being seriously challenged. While it may be true many Taliban insurgents and confederate strongholds in southern Afghanistan have been driven out, their ability to increase operational control and influence in the rest of the country, most notably in the west and north (non-traditional Taliban areas), has increased at a larger pace than they were driven out of their strongholds.  When NCO’s and aid groups can’t operate throughout Afghanistan, a reality check that COIN has not “had any impact on the five-year trajectory” on security is needed.  In fact, a 20 percent increase in civilian casualties and the highest coalition death toll since Operation Enduring Freedom began is not happy talk (i.e. “The surge in coalition military and civilian resources … has reduced overall Taliban influence and arrested the momentum they had achieved in recent years in key parts of the country.”)

“Thundering Third” Victories Come at Huge Cost

A revealing account on one Marine squad from Weapons Company, 3/1 Marines during their seven-month slugfest to control a 3×5 mile strip of poppy and wheatfields in Garmsir (southern Afghanistan).  Close-in hand grenade exchanges, four-day fire fights, IED encounters, refusal of extended medical care in order to stay in the fight, and the death of warrior while carrying a wounded comrade to a medevac bird.  The grind continues…

The CBS embed’s blogs can be read here:

Marines Push Taliban Back from Base

“Thundering Third” Meet with Local Afghan Leaders

“Thundering Third” Adapts to IED Threat

Basic Military Pay Effective January 1, 2011

Monthly Basic Military Pay for an E-1 (Private): $1,467.60

Monthly Basic Pay for an O-10/General (4-Stars):  $14,975.10


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.”
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