Archive for the ‘U.S. Army’ Category

Military Bases Brace for Surge in PTSD, Stress-Related Disorders

November 29, 2008

Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

Facing prospects that one in five of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers will suffer from stress-related disorders, the base has nearly doubled its psychological health staff. Army leaders are hoping to use the base’s experiences to assess the long-term impact of repeated deployments.

The three 101st Airborne combat brigades, which have begun arriving home, have gone through at least three tours in Iraq. The 3rd Brigade also served seven months in Afghanistan, early in the war. Next spring, the 4th Brigade will return from a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. So far, roughly 10,000 soldiers have come back; the remainder are expected by the end of January.

Army leaders say they will closely watch Fort Campbell to determine the proper medical staffing levels needed to aid soldiers who have endured repeated rotations in the two war zones.

“I don’t know what to expect. I don’t think anybody knows,” said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, as he flew back to Washington from a recent tour of the base’s medical facilities. “That’s why I want to see numbers from the 101st’s third deployment.”

What happens with the 101st Airborne, he said, will let the Army help other bases ready for similar homecomings in the next year or two, when multiple brigades from the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division return.

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Dunwoody becomes first female four-star general

November 14, 2008

Call it breaking the brass ceiling. Ann E. Dunwoody, after 33 years in the Army, ascended Friday to a peak never before reached by a woman in the U.S. military: four-star general. At an emotional promotion ceremony, Dunwoody looked back on her years in uniform and said it was a credit to the Army — and a great surprise to her — that she would make history in a male-dominated military.

“Thirty-three years after I took the oath as a second lieutenant, I have to tell you this is not exactly how I envisioned my life unfolding,” she told a standing-room-only auditorium crowd. “Even as a young kid, all I ever wanted to do was teach physical education and raise a family.

“It was clear to me that my Army experience was just going to be a two-year detour en route to my fitness profession,” she added. “So when asked, `Ann, did you ever think you were going to be a general officer, to say nothing about a four-star?’ I say, `Not in my wildest dreams.’

“There is no one more surprised than I — except, of course, my husband. You know what they say, `Behind every successful woman there is an astonished man.’ ”

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody listens to a question during a news conference ...
Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody listens to a question during a news conference following her promotion ceremony to a four-star General, Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, at the Pentagon.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In an Associated Press interview after the ceremony, Gen. George Casey, the Army’s chief of staff, said that if there is one thing that distinguishes Dunwoody it is her lifetime commitment to excelling in uniform.

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Shaky economy helps military recruiting, retention

October 11, 2008
By William H. McMichael – Staff writer: Navy Times

The bad news on Wall Street is good news for military recruiting and retention, the Pentagon’s top personnel official said Oct. 10.

“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a Pentagon briefing. “That is a situation where more are willing to give us a chance. I think that’s the big difference — people willing to listen to us.”

A U.S. soldier from 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defence Artillery ... 
A U.S. soldier from 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defence Artillery secures the road during a joint military training with Bulgarian army soldiers at Novo Selo military base near the town of Sliven, some 350 km (217 miles) east of Sofia October 9, 2008.REUTERS/Oleg Popov (BULGARIA)

But while the downturn in the economy is making it easier for the services to recruit and retain people, Chu said he doesn’t expect spending on enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses to drop in the near term, even though more may see the military as a shelter against a sagging civilian job market.

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U.S. Army Meets Recruiting Goals

By Sig Christenson
Express News, San Antonio

Carrying the weight of the war in Iraq, the Army said Friday it had nonetheless made its recruiting goal for the past year and had kept more than enough veteran soldiers in uniform.

The Army exceeded its goal of 80,000 recruits by more than 500 people. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps just edged past their marks but put a bow on a badly needed wartime success story. It was the ninth year in a row the Air Force met its goal.

“This is the strongest recruiting year we’ve had overall …. since fiscal year 2004,” David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a Pentagon release.

As it has been for many years, even before Sept. 11, 2001, the fall recruiting and retention report was a mixed bag. A Pentagon report stressed that more than 92 percent of all new recruits held a high school diploma, compared with 75 percent nationwide among the same age group. But services that were forced to battle for recruits during the 1990s boom years have found new troubles over seven years of war.

Persuading parents to let their children join the Army continued to be a huge hurdle for 9,400 active-duty and reserve recruiters. The Army also said that eight in every 10 new active-duty soldiers held a high school diploma — a reflection of reluctant “influencers,” people whose advice recruiters deem critical. The number was below the Pentagon goal of 90 percent.

The latest numbers reflect recruiting for the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30. This year the Army easily beat its mark for active-duty recruits, and the Air Force, Navy and Marines also met their recruiting goals, as did the nation’s six reserve components.

Retaining veteran troops proved difficult. While the Army and Navy topped their goals, the Air Force and Marines fell short, as did the reserves. The Pentagon said losses in the reserve components were “within acceptable limits” but provided no statistics.

The Army has missed its recruiting mark three times in the past decade, the last shortfall coming in 2005. It’s offered a variety of cash incentives to entice recruits and keep veterans in uniform, increased its maximum recruiting age to 41 and allowed more felons to join.

The number of felons granted “moral waivers” jumped by more than 500 in 2007. The Recruiting Command’s chief, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, said the Army granted only 372 felony waivers this year.

Also, 240 people age 40 and over went to boot camp. The same number of 40-plus recruits signed up in 2007.

The Pentagon report showed that Texas retained the title of the nation’s No. 1 state in the nation for active-duty Army recruits, with 10,951 soldiers. It’s been No. 1 at least three years.

San Antonio, the nation’s No. 1 Army recruiting battalion for three years running, signed up 3,970 active-duty soldiers and reservists. It fell short, however, of being best overall in America this year — though Army officials weren’t sure which battalion surpassed the Alamo City.

“We can’t be No. 1 forever, but we’re pretty close,” said Bart Keyes, spokesman for the San Antonio battalion.


Former Pentagon official calls Iraq war “a major debacle”

April 18, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – In a scathing analysis, a former senior Pentagon official has called the war in Iraq “a major debacle” that created an incubator for terrorism and emboldened Iran.

“Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle,” Joseph Collins wrote in “Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and its Aftermath.”

Two US soldier of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment ...
Two US soldier of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment look towards the Tigris River (unseen) during a sandstorm in the area of Arab Jabur, on the southern edge of Baghdad, on April 17, 2008. In a scathing analysis, a former senior Pentagon official has called the war in Iraq “a major debacle” that created an incubator for terrorism and emboldened Iran.(AFP/File/Mauricio Lima)

Published by the National Defense University, Collins’ paper is striking in that it comes from one whose position from 2001 to 2004 put him near the center of decision making that led to the war.

He was deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations when the United States invaded Iraq, only to find itself mired in the now five year old struggle to pacify the country.

Collins said the price of the war has been damage to US standing in the world, strains on the US military, and a negative impact on the war on terror, “which must now bow to the priority of Iraq when it comes to manpower, materiel, and the attention of decisionmakers.”

“Compounding all these problems, our efforts there were designed to enhance US national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East,” he wrote.

US soldiers patrol the village of Mullah Eid, 8 kms south of ...
US soldiers patrol the village of Mullah Eid, 8 kms south of Baquba, as the sun rises. (AFP/File/Patrick Baz)

As have other analysts, Collins pins the failure in Iraq on a lack of post war planning and the refusal of overconfident policy makers to commit enough troops to pacify Iraq after the invasion.

He blames Donald Rumsfeld, the domineering former defense secretary, for pushing for a small invasion force, and former CPA chief Paul Bremer for formalizing the US occupation, thereby alienating Iraq’s Sunnis, with little consultation with Washington.

Collins said the war was a “classic case of failure to adopt and adapt prudent courses of action that balance ends, ways and means.”

“After the major combat operations, US policy has been insolvent, with inadequate means for pursuing ambitious ends,” he said.

The Pentagon‘s effort since early 2007 to build up the overall size of the army and marines “is not likely to provide much relief in Iraq,” he said.

“Ironically, the surge is clearly proving that even another 30,000 troops on the ground could have a positive effect on population protection and counterterrorism.”

“We still await political progress — the ultimate goal, and one that is entirely in Iraqi hands,” he said.


Al-Qaida No. 2 al-Zawahri says US options in Iraq all bad

April 18, 2008

By PAKINAM AMER and KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writers

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida‘s No. 2 said in an audiotape released Friday that the United States will lose whether it stays in Iraq or withdraws, and he sneered that President Bush just wants to pass the problem on to his successor.
The message from Ayman al-Zawahri released early Friday on a militant Web site appeared to be one of the most quickly prepared tapes produced by al-Qaida — referring to Congressional testimony only last week by the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, in which he recommended a halt to further U.S. troop withdrawals until after July.

Al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, is seen in this ...
Al-Qaida’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, is seen in this image made from videotape posted on Internet in 2005.(AP Photo/AP Television News/ho)

Bush said last week he would give Petraeus all the time needed to reassess U.S. troop strength in Iraq after the current drawdown of U.S. troops ends in July.

“The truth is that if Bush keeps all his forces in Iraq until doomsday and until they enter hell, they will only see crisis and defeat by the will of God,” said al-Zawahri, the deputy of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

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Culture, Politics Hinder U.S. Effort to Bolster Pakistani Border Forces

March 30, 2008

By Candice Rondeaux and Imtiaz Ali
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 30, 2008; Page A17

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A project to send U.S. military advisers to train Pakistani border forces could begin as early as this summer. But the advisers, according to Western and Pakistani military officials, face serious challenges if they are to transform an ill-equipped paramilitary group into a front-line bulwark against terrorism.
A Pakistani Army soldier in training.

Twenty-two American advisers are being tasked with training a cadre of officers in Pakistan‘s Frontier Corps in counterinsurgency and intelligence-gathering tactics, according to U.S. officials in Pakistan familiar with the plan. The goal is to bolster the force’s operations along the country’s porous 1,500-mile-long border with Afghanistan, an area that has become a hotbed for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, as well as their sympathizers.

But military analysts say that cultural and political fault lines within the Frontier Corps and Pakistan itself could prove the undoing of the U.S. program. The bulk of the force’s rank-and-file troops are ethnic Pashtuns, many of whom are wary of going into battle against a Pashtun-dominated insurgency. Commanders, meanwhile, are regular army officers who often have little in common with their subordinates.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Alam Khattak, the top commander of the Frontier Corps….

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They Are Spectacular!

March 24, 2008

I have been away from the U.S. Navy, the sailors, and the
men and women long enough to say, “They Are Spectacular!”

They were spectacular when I knew them up close and personal.  And they are still spectacular today!  I talk every day to to those in close contact with them. And I miss them — the finest of America’s youth.
A warplane takes off from the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier ... 
F/A-18 takes off from the U.S. Navy
Aircraft Carrier USS John C. Stennis.

Below: My friend, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mike Mullen.

In this photo released by the Department of Defense, U.S Navy ...
U.S Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (AP Photo/Department of Defense, Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

Below: French fghters with a U.S. recce aircraft.

Aeronavale-IMG 1437.jpg
USS Ranger (CV-61) departing from San Diego
Above: Aircraft Carrier USS Ranger (CV-61)

Freedom is about putting “stuff”‘ in the field.  Armor and men and gear.  It has to be in the air, on the land and on the sea to be credible.

Below: A-5 Vigilante

America has to be both diplomatic and stong. Condi Rice and the State Department provide the diplomacy.  The Pentagon and a slw of uniformed men and women make it real.

F-8 Crusader

The “Purple Shirts” provide the fuel.  And to a pilot, dry, this is the best.The “Red Shirts” move the weapons… The bombs and missiles…
The “Yellow Shirts” move the aircraft.  They are the “pilots on the flight deck.”But you know what? We are all in this.  We are all Americans. Without dedicated people we will fall; we will fail.

Above: a USMC F/A-18 in flight

Americans can be proud.  And they should be.  Deterrence isn’t cheap. But it works.

This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd ...
This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby operating the radar system control during a ballistic missile defense drill on February 16 aboard the USS Lake Erie. He serves here as our example of all the tough men and women: dedicated and proud, on watch and serving their country tonight.
(AFP/US Navy-HO/Michael Hight)
The USS Lake Erie launches a Standard Missile-3 at a non-functioning ... 
The USS Lake Erie launches a Standard Missile-3 at a National Reconnaissance Office satellite as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean, February 20, 2008; photo released by the U.S. Defense Department. REUTERS/Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy.We stop to pay tribute to all soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, marines and others serving our great nation tonight.

single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows an SM-3 missile being launched from the USS Lake Erie warship on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2008. The Pentagon says the missile successfully intercepted a wayward U.S. spy satellite orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles per hour, about 133 nautical miles over the Pacific ocean. (AP Photo/US Navy)
USS Kitty Hawk CV-63.jpg

Iraqi FM against quick US troop pullout

March 18, 2008
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s foreign minister said Tuesday the risks of civil war have been averted after five years of “tears and blood.” But he warned an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops would wipe away the security gains and other achievements and have disastrous consequences.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari gestures during an interview ...
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari gestures during an interview with the Associated Press in Baghdad, Tuesday, March 18, 2008. Zebari said Tuesday he believes his country has averted a civil war after five years of ‘tears and blood’ but warned an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops would be ‘disastrous.’
(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed )

With the war entering its sixth year, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari acknowledged mistakes by all sides. But he insisted that Iraqis have made remarkable progress despite the violence that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 4,000 U.S. troops.

Zebari, a Kurd who spent years opposing Saddam Hussein in exile, said the Iraqis had cautioned that overthrowing the dictator would be “the easiest part” but “the day after would be far more difficult unless there was some planning, some preparation … and some real participation by the Iraqi leaders.”

“Mistakes were made by all, by the American military, by the British, by the coalition, by us, but this is water under the bridge now,” he told The Associated Press in an interview in an ornate reception room at the Foreign Ministry building in central Baghdad.

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Who Says The Elite Aren’t Fit To Serve?

March 17, 2008

 By John Renehan
The Washington Post
Sunday, March 16, 2008; Page B04

“J ohn!” called my brother from the living room. “Are you coming out or not?”

He and my sister-in-law were eager to start the movie we had rented, but I, lurking in my parents’ darkened study, waved them off. While they and the rest of the family were distracted, I had private business to attend to on the home computer.

It was December 2001, and I was a New Yorker.

Of the innumerable moments of surreality accompanying Sept. 11, 2001’s fracturing of our daily lives — fighter jets circling the city, a pillar of ash rising to the stratosphere, New Yorkers engaging in spontaneous conversation — here was a doozy: finding myself at my parents’ in California for Christmas, nosing furtively about the Internet for information on getting into the U.S. Army‘s Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Ga.

It seemed on the one hand an entirely reasonable thing to be doing, and on the other an outrageous one. Reasonable because the military would probably need the services of motivated citizens in the near future, and I was a motivated citizen. Outrageous because I, a lawyer with no military experience, knew virtually no one from my own background — comfortable childhood, good education, white-collar career — who had ever been in the service.

Nor had my prior life experience reduced my ignorance of things military. After high school, the students who joined up were the ones I would have expected to do so — rough dudes with pickup trucks who shot guns on the weekends. In college, I was barely aware of ROTC, except that I would occasionally see groups of cadets jogging in formation across campus and think that they must feel so awkward. In law school, I did sign up for “informational interviews” — they didn’t dare hope for actual employment interviews at Berkeley — with some of the services’ JAG Corps representatives and was later informed by a fellow student that I was the only bona fide interviewee. The other students on the roster intended to read statements of protest regarding the Defense Department‘s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Such experiences over a young lifetime coalesce into prejudice: People like us — the privileged, frankly — don’t join the military. We wonder about the military world occasionally, and a few of us may actually grow curious enough to investigate serving in a halting sort of way — lurking in our parents’ studies at Christmastime, perhaps — but that’s about as far as it generally goes, or ought to go, we think. The armed forces are for another sort of American. Right?

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After five years, the Iraq war is transforming the military

March 16, 2008

Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers 

WASHINGTON — When U.S. forces crossed the Kuwaiti border into Iraq in the pre-dawn hours of March 20, 2003 , the military set out to shock and awe the Middle East with the swiftest transformation the region had ever seen.

U.S. and South Korean Marines participate in a combined arms ...
(AP photo)

Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, it’s the U.S. military that’s been transformed. The efficient, tech-savvy Army , built, armed and trained to fight conventional wars against aggressor states, is now making deals with tribal sheiks and building its power on friendly conversations with civilians.

Instead of planning for quick, decisive battles against other nations, as it was five years ago, today’s American military is planning for protracted, nuanced conflicts with terrorist groups, insurgents, guerrillas, militias and other shadowy forces that seldom stand and fight.

The staples of American military doctrine that have developed since the Civil War — artillery, armor, air power, speed and overwhelming force— are of limited use against enemies who blend into civilian populations.

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