Search This Blog

Monday, August 21, 2017

UNITED STATES WARFARE REALITIES TODAY


PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
In the last 14 years the US has reacted to the 911 tragedy by creating a behemoth machine that:

Knows Only Killing  








This outrageous explosion of watch listing—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers…  assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source of the documents told the Intercept. “We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”

She Kills People From 7,850 Miles Away

Has Little Understanding of Foreign Cultural Factors in Nation Building


Our government has not considered the risks, the indigenous cultural impact, the expense and the sacrifices required to sustain the nation building that must occur after we invade countries in pursuit of perceived enemies and place the burden of governance on military personnel who are not equipped to deal with it or manage USAID contractors who have profit motives in mind and corruption as a regular practice. 

Risks, Expenses and Sacrifices in Nation Building 

Spawns New Versions of Our Old Enemies 











An observer of our military actions over the last two decades in the Middle East could in no way have predicted the splintered, irrational, “Turn-Your-Back-And-You-Have-Two-New-Enemies”, scenario the US faces today. Perhaps a look back over our shoulder, examining cause and effect relationships along the road is in order.

Cause and Effect Relationships in the Middle East 

Creates a Dangerous Outgrowth of Technology in the Military Industrial Complex and Then Exports It for Profit











The United States remains the leading arms exporter increasing sales by 23 percent, with the country’s share of the global arms trade at 31 percent.

Record US Weapons Sales to Foreign Countries – $1.6 Billion in Lockheed Martin Missiles Alone

 Very smart people in the Pentagon believed that connecting sensitive networks, expensive equipment, and powerful weapons to the open Internet was a swell idea. 

This ubiquitous connectivity among devices and objects — what we now call the "Internet of Things" — would allow them to collect performance data to help design new weapons, monitor equipment remotely, and realize myriad other benefits. The risks were less assiduously cataloged.

That strategy has spread huge vulnerabilities across the Defense Department, its networks, and much of what the defense industry has spent the last several decades creating.












The Pentagon Hooked Everything to the Internet 

Defies Financial Control With Dire Consequences for the Nation’s Economic Future










A law passed in 1994 initially set the deadline for 1997, but the Pentagon’s books were in such disarray that it blew past that date. Then, in 2010, Congress told the Pentagon to comply by 2017.

The next year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledged that the department would by 2014 be ready for a partial account of its finances – a much less detailed accounting than requested of the military services — but the department missed that deadline too.

Pentagon Remains Stubbornly Unable To Account for Its Billions 

The Above Machine  Cannot and Will Not Continue.

The debt is too great a burden for generations of tax payers.

It is too risky in terms of technology that has fallen fall into enemy hands, either through the "Internet of Things" or by blunders in export management. 


It will be replaced by domestic and foreign relations programs that emphasize global human progress and economic development in lieu of threats.  The result will rely on uplifting, cooperative efforts among nations in lieu of killing. 


The globe has become too small to operate the Military Industrial Machine and the resources that have fueled it will be redirected. 


There simply is no other way. 


The change will be brought about in the following manner:


Facing geopolitical and economic realities, stopping war interventions and investing in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.


Ceasing to dwell on threat and building long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 


Investing for the long term at the stock holder, company and  national levels based on a strategy dealing with both present day and long term challenges in education, communication and society value transitions.


Electing a Congress and an Administration that knows how to strike a balance between long and short term actions. Letting them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 


Knowing that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national model and choosing whether to support it, ignore it or attack it.


The Dire Necessity for U.S. Long Term Strategic Vision 



Monday, August 07, 2017

Ken Larson on Hastings Veteran's Home


I have lived at the Hastings Veteran's Home for 11 years. This blog was formed by other veteran's at the home and myself in 2006 and has carried certain issues with regard to veteran's care and world events. As a matter of record, I wish to convey a letter I wrote to my sister on the most recent events. I will let it speak for itself :

Hi Sis,

I am only at the facility in the early morning for breakfast and in the evening for dinner and then sleep. The rest of the time I am gone on other matters. I live across the road from the main building these days in a smaller unit along the river. I get my medications twice a month and take that myself. My glasses, dental care and annual physicals, flu shots and the like are all part of the rent I pay from my pension. The clothing room and similar furnishings are available when I need them. What remains of my monthly check is adequate for me because my needs are very simple these days.

As I got well 11 years ago, I realized part of my recovery required getting as far away from bureaucratic settings and authority as possible. I found over the years in the war zone and in 35 years of corporations and dealing with Washington DC that my tolerance level for it was 0 at age 60.

When Clark Dyrud was Veteran's Commissioner he and I had lunch and exchanged emails over the years since he assisted me out of Washington, but by mutual agreement we never discussed work; only family and friends from high school and our experiences in Vietnam, since he and I went through some of the same trauma during the war. I have never been seen in public with Clark on facility grounds. Now that he is retired I am sure he is relieved. He was a good services officer for over 30 years.

I meet with staff here only twice a year for a care team review. They know what I do and respect me for it. I have received facility volunteer awards for my work in the community each of the 5 years I have been here. All staff I have encountered have been professional at what they do, sincere in their motives and helpful. They have a difficult job. The population here is of vastly varying backgrounds and ages. Many are 20 years younger than I and have a lot of life ahead of them but fell on hard times, addiction, depression and other maladies veterans are particularly vulnerable to.

I have supported both Tony Rose and Louie Klemek with advice, government insights into agencies, correspondence and getting legal help. I got Tony's paperwork released from Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act because I know how to do it having worked government agencies in my career. I wrote a letter that resulted in Louie getting some wood working privileges back that had been taken away and a visit from a State Representative. I have done all this behind the scenes and on a personal basis with these men. I also arranged for Tony's Washington D.C. pro-bono legal help, and set up a blog for him and his cause:

http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2008/11/navy-veteran-has-waited-2-years-for.html

I helped both men because I felt the system, from the federal level to the state level, was letting them down. They have appreciated my assistance and have told me so.

This facility to me is a room with a beautiful view of the Vermilion River, a great little small town I enjoy, fishing, photography, writing, and intellectually stimulating non-profit volunteer work in an office supplied by the county at no cost so I can help small business.

I have served over 7000 clients through the non-profit organizations SCORE and Micro Mentor and many local businesses and small enterprises in every state in the union and its territories, receiving the SCORE National Achievement Award shown in the right margin of this site in 2010 for mentoring over 500 clients in the SCORE on-line counseling program. I have American clients in several foreign countries. Roughly 30 % of my client base is veterans. My government contracting web site has received over 700,000 visits.

http://www.smalltofeds.com 

In short, the Minnesota Veteran's Home is an ingredient in Ken, reinvented in retirement and I am enjoying it very much.

I consider the recent events unfortunate, but sometimes they are necessary for improvements.

I hope you understand,


Love,


Ken








Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Your Questions Answered About the New Veterans Online Shopping Benefit

                                                                              Image: snagfilms-a.akamaihd.net


“MILITARY TIMES”
“More than 95,000 people visited the military exchanges’ VetVerify.org website in its first month, seeking to register for the new veterans online shopping benefit that starts Nov. 11, officials said.
All honorably discharged veterans will have access to the online exchanges as of that date. VetVerify is the first step in the eligibility process.
Some veterans will be chosen as “beta testers” and will have access to the online stores before Nov. 11; the earlier veterans complete the verification process, the better their chances of becoming beta testers, according to officials with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which administers the verification for all the military exchange services.
Veterans who register through VetVerify.org will receive notification of their acceptance as eligible online shoppers or, if their records are incomplete, will receive guidance on the steps they can take to update those records.

Officials were not able to provide information about how many of the 95,000 verification attempts have been successful. About 13 percent of the site’s visitors have been chosen as beta testers, AAFES spokesman Chris Ward said, and others who registered for verification already were eligible to shop.
Officials started the verification process early in preparation for at least 13 million people who will be newly eligible to shop online at the exchange. Until now, online military exchange shopping was available only to active-duty, reserve and National Guard members; retirees; 100 percent disabled veterans; the dependent family members of those individuals; and certain others.
Online pricing can be seen only by those who are authorized to shop at the exchange websites: www.shopmyexchange.comwww.shopcgx.com;www.mymcx.com; andwww.mynavyexchange.com.
Military Times and the exchanges continue to get questions about the VetVerify website and the new shopping benefit. Here are a few frequently asked questions, and some answers, supplied by AAFES.
Q. Is this site a phishingscam?
A. No. VetVerify.org is a shared service for all the military exchanges with the sole purpose of supporting the newly approved veterans online shopping benefit. VetVerify.org uses data from Defense Manpower Data Center, which holds the most comprehensive dataset on veterans, to verify eligibility.
Q. Do I qualify if I served for four years, or if I was in the reserves, or if I’m on disability?
A. All honorably discharged veterans and those with a general (under honorable) discharge can shop their military exchanges, through the veterans online shopping benefit, beginning on Veterans Day.
Q. Can my spouse (or other family member) shop? 
A. No. The new benefit is specific to veterans with honorable and general (under honorable conditions) discharges.
Q. Does the veterans online shopping benefit extend to shopping at the commissary? 
A. No.
Q. What if my service can’t be verified? 
A. There may be further information needed, so you will need to submit a digital copy of your discharge paperwork to be reviewed for eligibility. After you submit your verification form through VetVerify.org, you will be prompted to upload the necessary paperwork.
Q. Who should I call if I have problems with the verification process? 
A. The VetVerify.org customer call center, toll-free, at 844-868-8672.
Q. Why does VetVerify ask for my entire Social Security number? 
A. VetVerify is required to obtain the last four digits of your Social Security number, date of birth and last name in order to validate and authenticate shoppers. If a match is not found with the minimum information, then the Social Security number is requested for a more detailed search. Social Security number is the unique identifier by Defense Manpower Data Center data. When customers visit the website of their favorite online exchanges for the first time, however, they will create a new username to be used as the unique identifier with the exchange. VetVerify has taken appropriate measures to safeguard your personal information. “

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Industry/Pentagon Revolving Door Featured in Deputy Secretary of Defense Confirmation





“BREAKING DEFENSE”

“Mr. Shanahan, you’re not making me happy,” the chairman said. “You just ducked basically every question Sen. Fischer asked you.”

After Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer tried to elicit the nominee’s position on how to respond to Russian violations of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, McCain stepped in.
McCain’s biggest objection to Shanahan, however, was the nominee’s 31 years at America’s second largest defense contractor, Boeing. (Only Lockheed Martin sells more to the Pentagon. And Sen. McCain, thanks to the long-running scandal over Boeing’s former tanker deal, is believed to harbor a deep suspicion of Boeing’s conduct).

“Not a good beginning. Not a good beginning,” Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain told the administration’s nominee for deputy secretary of defense this morning. “Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee. Am I perfectly clear?”

“Very clear,” said Patrick Shanahan, enduring a rocky confirmation hearing for the No. 2 position in the Pentagon, which remains unusually short on senior officials. Other senators at the hearing asked Shanahan about Pentagon procurement, especially about nurturing innovation, continuing the Third Off Strategy for high-tech weapons, and starting the Pentagon’s long-awaited audit this fall. But McCain repeatedly took the mike to berate the Trump nominee for non-answers on Russia and for potential conflicts of interest after his 31 years at Boeing.

In that initial exchange, Shanahan’s specific offense was giving a vague non-answer in his written testimony to the committee’s question on whether he supported providing “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine. In the hearing, ironically, when McCain asked Shanahan to clarify, he stated his support for arming the Ukrainians so swiftly and unequivocally that the irascible but aging senator seemed momentarily thrown before returning to the attack.
“I want to move forward as quickly as I can with your nomination,” McCain told Shanahan at the hearing’s end, “(but) I am concerned. 90 percent of defense spending is in the hands of five corporations, of which you represent one. I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.”

“Mr. Shanahan, I think you’re a fine man; you have an outstanding record; (but) take a look at your responses that you sent to this committee,” McCain said. “Some of them were less than specific, at least one of them (was) almost insulting.”

Citing US casualties in Afghanistan, Ukrainian casualties against Russian-backed separatists, and the US shoot-down of a Syrian jet, McCain made it clear he wants clear answers on administration policy — and if the committee doesn’t get them, it will find answers of its own as it works on the annual defense policy bill.

“I want some answers, I want some straightforward answers, (and) if they don’t give us a strategy from the people that I admire most, we’re going to put a strategy in,” McCain warned. “I want to work with this administration, I want to work with this president, I want to work with the new secretary of defense, — who I happen to be one of the most ardent admirers of — but I have to tell you, in a couple of weeks, we’re going to mark-up up the defense authorization bill….The president has two choices: Either give us a strategy or we will put a strategy that we develop into the defense authorization bill.”

“Somehow over the last several years, this committee seems to have been treated as sort of a rubber stamp,” McCain concluded. “That’s not what the Constitution of the United States says. The Constitution of the United States says that the Senate would provide advice and consent.”




VA Will Shift Medical Records To DOD’s “In-Process” Electronic Medical Records System

Image:  Military Times

Total Investment To Date Now Projected at Nearly $10 Billion

“MILITARY TIMES”
VA has already spent more than $1 billion in recent years in attempts to make its legacy health record systems work better with military systems.
The military’s health record system is still being put in place across that department, more than three years after the acquisition process began. The initial contract topped $4.6 billion, but has risen in cost in recent years.
Shulkin did not announce a potential price tag for the move to a commercial electronic health records system, but said that a price tag of less than $4 billion would likely be “unrealistic.”

“Veterans Affairs administrators on Monday announced plans to shift veterans’ electronic medical records to the same system used by the Defense Department, potentially ending a decades-old problematic rift in sharing information between the two bureaucracies.
VA Secretary David Shulkin announced the decision Monday as a game-changing move, one that will pull his department into the commercial medical record sector and — he hopes — create an easier to navigate system for troops leaving the ranks.
“VA and DoD have worked together for many years to advance (electronic health records) interoperability between their many separate applications, at the cost of several hundred millions of dollars, in an attempt to create a consistent and accurate view of individual medical record information,” Shulkin said.
“While we have established interoperability between VA and DOD for key aspects of the health record … the bottom line is we still don’t have the ability to trade information seamlessly for our veteran patients. Without (improvements), VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the departments remain on two different systems.”
White House officials — including President Donald Trump himself — hailed the announcement as a major step forward in making government services easier for troops and veterans.
Developing implementation plans and potential costs is expected to take three to six months.
But he did say VA leaders will skip standard contract competition processes to more quickly move ahead with Millennium software owned by Missouri-based Cerner Corp., the basis of the Pentagon’s MHS GENESIS records system.
“For the reasons of the health and protection of our veterans, I have decided that we can’t wait years, as DOD did in its EHR acquisition process, to get our next generation EHR in place,” Shulkin said.
Shulkin for months has promised to “get VA out of the software business,” indicating that the department would shift to a customized commercial-sector option for updating the health records.
The VA announcement came within minutes of Trump’s controversial proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. The president has repeatedly pledged to make government systems work more like a business, and in some cases hand over public responsibilities to the private sector.
Shulkin has worked to assure veterans groups that his efforts to rely on the private sector for expertise and some services will not mean a broader dismantling of VA, but instead will produce a more efficient and responsive agency.
He promised a system that will not only be interoperable with DOD records but also easily transferable to private-sector hospitals and physicians, as VA officials work to expand outside partnerships.
Shulkin is expected to testify before Congress on the fiscal 2018 budget request in coming weeks. As they have in past hearings, lawmakers are expected to request more information on the EHR changes then. ”


Thursday, June 01, 2017

What is a Protected Veteran in U.S. Job Applications?

Image Jackson/Lewis
Companies  must abide by the law with regard to hiring protected veterans and report statistics on their compliance. That is why the application data regarding protected veterans is tracked.

The definition of a protected veteran under the law is below:

“DEPARTMENT OF LABOR”

“The law, sometimes referred to as VEVRAA or Section 4212, requires employers doing business with the Federal government to take steps to recruit, hire and promote protected veterans. It also makes it illegal for these companies to discriminate against protected veterans when making employment decisions on hiring, firing, pay, benefits, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, and other employment related activities.”
You are a “protected veteran” under Section 4212 if you belong to one of the categories of veterans described below:

Disabled Veteran

A veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military and is entitled to disability compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to disability compensation) under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.

Other Protected Veteran

A veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense.

Recently Separated Veteran

A veteran separated during the three-year period beginning on the date of the veteran’s discharge or release from active duty in the U.S. military.

Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran

A veteran who, while serving on active duty in the U.S. military, participated in a U.S. military operation that received an Armed Forces service medal.”

Monday, May 01, 2017

Wars to Keep the Military Industry in Demand

Image: Batr.org


The defense industry in America has utilized the threat of war and self-fulfilling prophesies to promote engagements by our country in several countries over the last 15 years. They pay more in lobbying costs each year than they pay in taxes.

There have been two major factors in the U.S. approach to undeclared warfare:

1. The motives of the U.S. and International Military Industrial Complexes, USAID and other western USAID counterparts in fostering continued warfare during this period, netting billions in sales of weapons to the war fighters and massive construction and redevelopment dollars for international companies who often operated fraudulently and fostered waste, looting and lack of funds control.

It is common knowledge that many of these corporations spend more each year in lobbying costs than they pay in taxes and pass exorbitant overhead and executive pay cost on to the tax payer in sales, thus financing their operating personnel riches while remaining marginally profitable to their stockholders.

I watched this from the inside of many of these companies for 36 years. Here is my dissertation on that subject. You can read it on line at:


Here is an example of how the lobbying and behind the scenes string pulling worked:


2. The complete lack of cultural understanding between U.S. and Western decision makers and the middle east cultures they were trying to "Assist" by nation building.

The only real understanding that existed during the period was in the person of General Schwarzkopf who spent much of his youth in the Middle East with his father who was an ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He was fascinated by the Arab culture, commended their respect and like Eisenhower led a coalition during the Gulf War. He then astutely recommend no occupation of Iraq, went home and stayed out of government. Norman, like Ike, knew the power of the MIC and he wanted no part of it.

The U.S Tax payer has funded billions in USAID and construction projects in Iraq and wasted the money due to a lack of cultural understanding, fraud and abuse. POGO documents many:


There is history repeating itself here - much like Vietnam the above two factors are deeply at play with the lack of astute learning in our government as we look back over our shoulder.
We must come to the understanding, like a recent highly respected war veteran and West Point Instructor has, that military victory is dead.

“MODERN WAR INSTITUTE AT WEST POINT”

“Victory’s been defeated; it’s time we recognized that and moved on to what we actually can accomplish. “
 

Frank Spinney is an expert on the MIC. He spent the same time I did on the inside of the Pentagon while I worked Industry. You may find his interviews informative.




Saturday, April 01, 2017

What Mark Thompson Has Learned Covering the Military for 40 Years

Image:  “Otherwords.org”

“Scant public interest yields ceaseless wars to nowhere”

“Straus Military Reform Project – Center for Defense Information at POGO”

“It turns out that my spending four years on an amusement-park midway trying to separate marks from their money was basic training for the nearly 40 years I spent reporting on the U.S. military.

Both involve suckers and suckees. One just costs a lot more money, and could risk the future of United States instead of a teddy bear.

But after 15 years of covering U.S. defense for daily newspapers in Washington, and 23 more for Time magazine until last December, it’s time to share what I’ve learned. I’m gratified that the good folks at the nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight, through their Straus Military Reform Project, are providing me this weekly soapbox to comment on what I’ve come to see as the military-industrial circus.

As ringmaster, I can only say: Boy, are we being taken to the cleaners. And it’s not so much about money as it is about value. Too much of today’s U.S. fighting forces look like it came from Tiffany’s, with Walmart accounting for much of the rest. There’s too little Costco, or Amazon Prime.

There was a chance, however slight, that President Trump would blaze a new trail on U.S. national security. Instead, he has simply doubled down.

We have let the Pentagon become the engine of its own status quo.

For too long, the two political parties have had Pavlovian responses when it comes to funding the U.S. military (and make no mistake about it: military funding has trumped military strategy for decades). Democrats have long favored shrinking military spending as a share of the federal budget, while Republicans yearn for the days when it accounted for a huge chunk of U.S. government spending. Neither is the right approach. Instead of seeing the Pentagon as the way to defend against all threats, there needs to be a fresh, long-overdue accounting of what the real threats are, and which of those are best addressed by military means.

The Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which is supposed to do just that every four years, has become an engine of the status quo. The Pentagon today is little more than a self-licking ice cream cone, dedicated in large measure to its growth and preservation. 

Congress is a willing accomplice, refusing to shutter unneeded military bases due to the job losses they’d mean back home. The nuclear triad remains a persistent Cold War relic (even former defense secretary Bill Perry wants to scrap it), with backers of subs, bombers and ICBMs embracing one another against their real threat: a hard-nosed calculus on the continuing wisdom of maintaining thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert.

Unfortunately, it’s getting worse as partisan enmity grows. It’s quaint to recall the early congressional hearings I covered (Where have you gone, Barry Goldwater?), when lawmakers would solemnly declare that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” The political opposition’s reactions to Jimmy Carter’s failed raid to rescue U.S. hostages held in Iran in 1980 that killed eight U.S. troops, and to the loss of 241 U.S. troops on Ronald Reagan’s peacekeeping mission in Beirut in 1983, was tempered.

But such grim events have been replaced Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi and Donald Trump’s Jan. 29 special-ops raid in Yemen. Rancid rancor by both sides cheapens the sacrifice of the five Americans who died. It only adds a confusing welter of new rules designed to ensure they aren’t repeated. 

Yet mistakes are a part of every military operation, and an unwillingness to acknowledge that fact, and act accordingly, leads to pol-mil paralysis. It’s amazing that the deaths of Glen Doherty, William “Ryan” Owens, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods seem to have generated more acrimony and second-guessing than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which 6,908 U.S. troops have died.

There is today a fundamental disconnect between the nation and its wars. We saw it in President Obama’s persistent leeriness when it came to the use of military force, and his successor’s preoccupation with spending and symbolism instead of strategy. In his speech to Congress Feb. 28, Trump mentioned the heroism of Navy SEAL Owens, but didn’t say where he died (Yemen). Nor did he mention Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria, where nearly 15,000 U.S. troops are fighting what Trump boldly declared is “radical Islamic terrorism.”

But he did declare he is seeking “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.” His $54 billion boost would represent a 10% hike, and push the Pentagon spending, already well beyond the Cold War average used to keep the now-defunct Soviet Union at bay—even higher.

“We are going to have very soon the finest equipment in the world,” Trump said from the deck of the yet-to-be-commissioned carrier Gerald R. Ford on Thursday in Hampton, Va. “We’re going to start winning again.” What’s surprising is Trump’s apparent ignorance that the U.S. military has had, pound-for-pound, the world’s finest weapons since World War II. What’s stunning is his apparent belief that better weapons lead inevitably to victory. There is a long list of foes that knows better.

It’s long past time for a tough look at what U.S. taxpayers are getting for the $2 billion they spend on their military and veterans every day. It would have been great if Trump had been willing to scrub the Pentagon budget and reshape it for the 21st Century. But the U.S. has been unwilling to do that ever since the Cold War ended more than 25 years ago. Instead, it simply shrunk its existing military, then turned on a cash gusher following 9/11.

I know many veterans who are angered that their sacrifice, and that of buddies no longer around, have been squandered in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I recall flying secretly into Baghdad in December 2003 with then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The bantam SecDef declared on that trip that the U.S. military had taken the “right approach” in training Iraqi troops, and that they were fighting “well and professionally.”

 Last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the fifth man to hold that job since Rumsfeld, declared in Baghdad that the U.S. training of the Iraqi military is “developing very well.” His visit, like Rumsfeld’s 14 years earlier, wasn’t announced in advance.

Even as Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, tries to chart a path forward in Iraq, it’s worth remembering that he earned his spurs 26 years ago as a captain in a tank battle with Iraqi forces.

If we’re going to spend—few would call it an investment—$5 trillion fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Syria, and Yemen), don’t we, as Americans, deserve a better return?
The problem is that the disconnect between the nation and its wars (and war-fighters) also includes us:
  • Our representatives in Congress prefer not to get their hands bloodied in combat, so they avoid declaring war. They prefer to subcontract it out to the White House, and we let them get away with it.
  • Through the Pentagon, we have subcontracted combat out to an all-volunteer force. Only about 1% of the nation has fought in its wars since 9/11. We praise their courage even as we thank God we have no real skin in the game.
  • In turn, the uniformed military services have hired half their fighting forces from the ranks of private, for-profit contractors, who handle the critical support missions that used to be done by soldiers. The ruse conveniently lets the White House keep an artificially-low ceiling on the number of troops in harm’s way. We like those lower numbers.
  • Finally, we have contracted out paying for much of the wars’ costs to our children, and grandchildren. We are using their money to fight our wars. They’ll be thanking us in 2050, for sure.
Until and unless Americans take responsibility for the wars being waged in their name, and the weapons being bought to wage them, this slow bleeding of U.S. blood and treasure will continue. “We have met the enemy,” another Pogo once said, “and he is us.”

http://www.pogo.org/blog/2017/03/military-industrial-circus-national-security-column.html
mark-thompson-230
2By: Mark Thompson, National Security Analyst
Mark Thompson Profile
Mark Thompson writes for the Center for Defense Information at POGO.