Archive for the ‘Gulf war’ Category

Some vindication for sick vets, but little relief

December 1, 2008

Ground combat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War lasted just 100 hours, but it’s meant 17 years of pain and anguish for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

Those who came home and complained of symptoms such as memory loss and joint pain are only sicker. Even as their lives unraveled as their health further deteriorated, many were told their problems were just in their head.

But, recently, many of the sufferers were given a new reason to hope. Earlier this month, a high-profile advisory panel to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake affirmed previous research that a collection of symptoms commonly known as Gulf War illnesses are real and require treatment. The country has a “national obligation” to help them, the panel concluded.

The report, however, also noted a sad reality: Of the $340 million in government funds spent to research the topic, little has focused on finding treatments. And, researchers said, the estimated 175,000-210,000 Gulf veterans who are sick aren’t getting any better.

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

Many of those veterans are left wondering what’s next for them. The panel, created by Congress, said at least $60 million should be spent annually for research, but some veterans question if in these economically strapped times the money will be made available.

“I just hope that our elected officials pay attention to it and they accept that it is true,” said James Stutts, 60, of Berea, Ky., a retired Army lieutenant colonel and physician who struggles to walk and gave up practicing medicine because of memory problems after serving in the war. “It’s not a stress-related, nor is it a psychosomatic, issue. It is true. It is real. There is pain, not only for the veteran, but their families.”

The sad irony, said John Schwertfager, a veterans advocate in Ohio, is that many of the veterans who came home physically sick and were told wrongly it was a mental condition now struggle with real mental health problems after years of chronic pain and personal problems such as divorce and the inability to work.

“A slow, steady deterioration is what I’m seeing,” Schwertfager said.

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Missile Defense Going Global

December 21, 2007

By James T. Hackett
The Washington Times

December 21, 2007

The Dec. 17 interception of a ballistic missile by a Japanese Aegis destroyer off the Hawaiian Island of Kauai is a milestone in the U.S.-Japan missile defense collaboration. The Bush administration’s goal of global missile defenses is becoming reality, but to effectively protect the Eastern United States defenses in Europe are needed.

For years, representatives of Japan and a number of other countries attended missile defense conferences. They regularly announced plans to study the need for missile defenses. Each year they said the same, but there was little sense of urgency and no sign of progress, except in Israel and the United States.

The United States developed the Patriot PAC-2 to stop short-range missiles just in time to defend U.S. troops and Israel in the first Gulf war. Then Israel, surrounded by enemies, developed and deployed its Arrow missile interceptor in record time.

Land-based Patriots were sent to defend U.S. forces and allies around the world, but the ABM treaty prevented the U.S. from developing either a national missile defense or ship-based defenses. The problem became critical in 1998 when North Korea launched a Taepodong missile over northern Japan. It was a blatant threat to Japan and its three stages meant it also had the potential to reach the United States. Tokyo began deploying defenses.

Japan placed 27 Patriot PAC-2 batteries around the country, put in orbit its own spy satellites, bought Aegis radar systems for six new destroyers, joined the U.S. in developing a longer-range ship-based missile interceptor, and allowed the U.S. to put an X-band radar in northern Japan. Last March, Japan began deploying more capable Patriot PAC-3s at 16 locations to protect major cities, military installations and other potential targets.

Japan also is modifying its four operational Aegis destroyers to carry SM-3 missile interceptors. The destroyer Kongo, which made the successful intercept on Monday, is the first non-U.S. ship to shoot down a ballistic missile. The U.S. Navy already has shot down 11 in 13 attempts with ship-based interceptors.

By the end of 2008 the United States will have 18 Aegis warships equipped for ballistic missile defense. Japan eventually will have six, and Australia, South Korea, Taiwan and others also likely will put missile defenses on their ships. Ship-based defenses can be coordinated with land-based defenses, including the various models of Patriots in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense when it is ready in a few years.

Ship-based SM-3s can intercept missiles outside the atmosphere. Any that get through can be stopped inside the atmosphere by the land-based interceptors. Such defenses can both protect against North Korean missiles and reduce intimidation by China, which has nearly 1,000 missiles opposite Taiwan.

For decades the Soviet missile defenses around Moscow were the only defenses against long-range missiles anywhere. The Russians are now modernizing those defenses against the kind of missiles being developed by Iran. Even though Russia claims Iran is no threat, in August Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian air force, announced activation of the first S-400 interceptors as part of Moscow’s missile defense.

Russian reports claim the S-400 can reach out 250 miles and stop missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 miles. This covers both Iran’s Shahab-3 and the new solid-fuel Ashura, the development of which Tehran announced three weeks ago, claiming a range of 1,250 miles.

With the constraints of the ABM treaty removed by President Bush, the United States is putting missile defenses in Alaska and California, at U.S. bases abroad, and on ships at sea. Other countries also are developing and buying missile defenses. India, surrounded by nuclear missile-armed Russia, China and Pakistan, plans to deploy its own two-tier missile defense in a few years. On Dec. 6, India conducted a successful intercept within the atmosphere, while a year ago it killed a ballistic missile outside the atmosphere.

Proliferating missile defenses diminish the value of the nuclear-armed ballistic missile. In the Middle East, Israel is expanding its missile defenses, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey have bought or are seeking to buy such defenses. In Europe, Britain and Denmark are hosting early warning radars.

The Polish and Czech governments are resisting Russian pressure and are expected to sign basing agreements early next year. Meanwhile, the threat continues to grow as Iran develops new longer-range missiles. Ship-based defenses in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean can help, but to effectively protect the U.S. East Coast and Europe, bases in Europe are needed.

Sea-based defenses now are advancing quickly. It is time to move forward with land-based defenses in Europe.

James T. Hackett is a contributing writer to The Washington Times based in Carlsbad, Calif.

Peace and Freedom wishes to thank Mr. Hackett who provided this and many other great articles to our readers.

Putin: “Nyet” to U.S. Missile Defense (Again)

October 12, 2007

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 12, 2007

On October 12, 2007, Russia, or rather Vladimir Putin, rejected all American options and opportunities to break a logjam between the two powers on Missile Defense.

I first went to Russia to discuss U.S. missile defense plans and capabilities in 1992.  Assisting and supporting a Department of Defense team seeking Russian cooperation on missile defense provided many insights that are still useful today.

Why does the U.S. care about Russia in this process? Because the threat of missiles now looms large from countries like Iran and North Korea. Russia has the potential to be a major player in a system using assets from more than one country to provide a seamless defense. 

Saddam Husein’s use of the SCUD missiles during the 1991 Gulf War sent a shock wave through defense establishments.

The U.S. missile defense system, as envisioned since the Gulf War with Iraq in 1991, has not been seen as a system to take out Russian missiles but to destroy less capable systems — with Russian help if possible.

Russia also needs to be concerned about missiles from places such as the Middle East or northwest Asia.  In fact, internal Russian chest beating aside, Russia knows it is clearly in the national interest of Russia to cooperate on missile defense.

Russia knows this categorically.  Any statement from any Russian saying that our missile defense system will negate their nuclear deterrence is made entirely to be swallowed by western reporters who are not aware of the facts.

Any statement from Russia saying that the Russian people don’t also need the type of protection provided by missile defense is not based upon the truth.

Ambassador John Bolton said today that President Putin was thoroughly briefed on U.S. missile defense capabilities and intentions when the United States withdrew from the Ant-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2001. In fact, Mr. Bolton said President Putin accepted the U.S. logic and did not fight reality the way he is doing today.

But then the national pride and the ego of a world leader got into the way.

Putin’s stock rose with his internal constituency only when he defied the United States.

This is a dangerous state of affairs for the world.

Leaders in NATO and the EU have made appeals to Mr. Putin to leave behind his Cold War ways and to allow Russia to join further with the world community in fighting terror and building missile defenses.  But Mr. Putin has fallen in love with the applause he hears at home when he makes moves that look like a return to the majesty of the Soviet Superpower.  Resumption of Russian long range bomber patrols is an example of this thoughtless pandering to his people at home.

Those gloating that Putin has taken on the United States and “won” may one day face nuclear armed dictators of an even more unpredictable nature than those we have today.  There is no “win” here — just unnecessary time lost as nations like Iran surge ahead.

Today, Vladimir Putin, an arrogant demigod who now is seen in Russia as the savior of a nearly failed system, showed his arrogance, intransigence and pure gall. With the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Secretary of Defense waiting, Putin allowed them to sit idly while he made what diplomats call, an “inexcusable display.”

Mr. Bolton says this conduct by Putin “underlines his dissatisfaction.”

Putin offered no explanation or apology: he just made his guests wait. This is how childish world leaders act. This is not the conduct of a polished world leader.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Americans had presented “detailed proposals” to Putin on missile defense and arms control and a treaty on reducing conventional forces in Europe.

Then, in good faith, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, two of the most senior members of the U.S. government, gave a briefing with many options to their equals in Mr. Putin’s government. All options and opportunities were rejected by the Russians.

One has to believe that this entire meeting was a charade meant only to show Russians and the world that there is another super-power in the world the rival of the U.S.

Mr. Bolton said, for Russia, this entire escapade is “counter-productive from Russia’s own strategic perspective.”

For her part, the U.S. Secretary of State said, “I know that we don’t always see eye-to-eye on every element of the solutions to these issues. Nonetheless, I believe we will do this in a constructive spirit, that we will make progress during these talks as we continue to pursue cooperation.”

From an outsiders view sitting on the fence, the trip was a waste of time for the Americans and an ill-advised choreographed dance by the Russians.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 12, 2007

Missile Defense Works
By James Hackett
US-Russia missile defense talks fail

Missile Defense: Save the Airborne Laser

August 5, 2007

James T. Hackett
The Washington Times
August 5, 2007

For years, missile defense opponents claimed defenses could not distinguish warheads from decoys and other penetration aids. The solution, they said, was to stop missiles in the first two or three minutes of flight, known as the boost phase, before warheads and decoys are released.

The Missile Defense Agency is trying to meet that challenge with the Airborne Laser (ABL), the nation’s primary boost-phase program. But this year, the congressional armed services committees made deep cuts in that program. Those cuts should be reversed.

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