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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

How Does A Combat Vet Feel He Hears A Civilian Say, "We Shouldn't Be Over There, We Should Worry About Ourselves"?

"War on the Rocks" New Rules for U.S. Military Intervention

The civilian must accept his or her role in the issue. Elected representatives appropriate money and approve U.S. activities in other countries.
Solders go where they are ordered by their commander.
If the civilian wishes change, then change can be at hand if the elected official is contacted and a strong input from the citizenry makes the demand heard.
“Asking warriors to do everything poses great dangers for our country — and the military. Our armed services have become the one-stop shop for America’s policymakers.
Here’s the vicious circle in which we’ve trapped ourselves: As we face novel security threats from novel quarters — emanating from nonstate terrorist networks, from cyberspace, and from the impact of poverty, genocide, or political repression, for instance — we’ve gotten into the habit of viewing every new threat through the lens of “war,” thus asking our military to take on an ever-expanding range of nontraditional tasks.
But viewing more and more threats as “war” brings more and more spheres of human activity into the ambit of the law of war, with its greater tolerance of secrecy, violence, and coercion — and its reduced protections for basic rights.”

Sunday, April 01, 2018

War Making Decisions - Power And The Price We Pay




"THE ATLANTIC"  From "The Iraq War and the Inevitability of Ignorance" By  James Fallows

"The U.S. is destined to keep overlearning the lessons of the last conflict.

"The value of tragic imagination remains: for leaders considering war or peace, for the media in stoking or questioning pro-war fever, for the 99 percent of the public in considering the causes for which the military 1 percent will be asked to kill, and die."

"There’s a specific reason it is so hard to be president—in normal circumstances—and why most incumbents look decades older when they leave the job than when they began. The reason is that the only choices normal presidents get to make are the impossible ones—decisions that are not simply very close calls on the merits, but that are guaranteed to lead to tragedy and bitterness whichever way they go.

Take Barack Obama’s famed choice not to back up his “red line” promise in Syria, which was a focus of Jeffrey Goldberg’s “The Obama Doctrine” Atlantic cover story two years ago. The option Obama chose—not intervening in Syria—meant death and suffering for countless thousands of people. The option he rejected—intervening—would have meant death and suffering for countless thousands of the same people or others. Agree or disagree on the outcome, any such decision is intellectually demanding and morally draining. Normal presidents have to make them, one after another, all day long. (Why don’t they get any easier choices? Because someone else has made all of those before they get to the president.) Obama’s decision to approve the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound turned out to be a tactical and political success. When he made it, he had to weigh the possibility that it could end in world-publicized failure—like Jimmy Carter’s decision to attempt a rescue of American hostages in Iran, which ended in chaos, and which Carter later contended was what sealed his fate in his re-election run.
A special category of impossible decision, which I was introduced to in the two years I worked for Jimmy Carter in the White House and have borne in mind ever since, turns on the inevitability of ignorance. To be clear, I don’t mean “stupidity.” People in the government and military are overall smarter than press portrayals might suggest. Instead I mean really registering the uncomfortable fact that you cannot know enough about the big choices you are going to make, before you have to make them.


Sometimes that is because of deadline rush: The clock is ticking, and you have to act now. (To give a famous example: In 1980 U.S. radar erroneously indicated that the Soviets had launched a nuclear-missile attack, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, as Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, had to decide at 3 a.m. whether to wake the president to consider retaliation. Before the world was rushed toward possible nuclear obliteration, the warning was revealed as a false alarm before Brzezinski could place the call.) Most of the time it is because the important variables are simply unknowable, and a president or other decision-maker has to go on judgment, experience, hunch.

This point sounds obvious, because we deal with its analogues in daily-life decisions big and small. No one who decides to get married can know what his or her spouse will be like 20 years in the future, or whether the partners will grow closer together or further apart. Taking a job—or offering one—is based at least as much on hope as on firm knowledge. You make an investment, you buy a house, you plan a vacation knowing that you can’t possibly foresee all the pitfalls or opportunities.

But this routine truism takes on life-or-death consequences in the choices that presidents must make, as commander in chief and as head of U.S. diplomatic and strategic efforts. The question of deciding about the unknowable looms large in my mind, as I think back 15 years to the run-up to the Iraq war, and think ahead to future such choices future presidents will weigh.

* * *
There’s a long list of books I wish presidents would have read before coming to office—before, because normal presidents barely have time to think once they get there. To give one example from my imagined list: the late David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace is for me a useful starting point for thinking about strains within the modern Middle East. The book argues, in essence, that the way the Ottoman Empire was carved up at the end of World War I essentially set the stage for conflicts in the region ever since. In that way it is a strategic counterpart to John Maynard Keynes’s famous The Economic Consequences of the Peace, written just after the conclusion of the Versailles agreements, which argues that the brutal economic terms dealt out to the defeated Germans practically guaranteed future trouble there.

Also high up on my “wish they’d read” list is Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makersby two Harvard professors (and one-time mentors of mine), Ernest May and Richard Neustadt. In this book, May and Neustadt reverse the chestnut attributed to an earlier Harvard professor, George Santayana, that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Instead they caution against over-remembering, or imagining that a choice faced now can ever be exactly like one faced before.

The most famous and frightening example is Lyndon Johnson’s, involving Vietnam. Johnson “learned” so thoroughly the error of Neville Chamberlain, and others who tried to appease (rather than confront) the Nazis, that he thought the only risk in Vietnam was in delaying before confronting communists there. A complication in Johnson’s case, as this book and all other accounts of Vietnam make clear, is that he was worried both about the reality of waiting too long to draw a line against Communist expansion, and perhaps even more about appearing to be weak and Chamberlain-like.

Because of the disaster Johnson’s decisions caused—the disaster for Vietnam, for its neighbors, for tens of thousands of Americans, all as vividly depicted in last year’s Ken Burns / Lynn Novick documentary—most American politicians, regardless of party, “learned” to avoid entanglement in Asian-jungle guerrilla wars. Thus in the late 1970s, as the post-Vietnam war Khmer Rouge genocide slaughtered millions of people in Cambodia, the U.S. kept its distance. It had given up the international moral standing, and had nothing like the internal political stomach, to go right back into another war in the neighborhood where it had so recently met defeat.

From its Vietnam trauma, the United States also codified a crass political lesson that Richard Nixon had applied during the war. Just before Nixon took office, American troop levels in Vietnam were steadily on the way up, as were weekly death tolls, and monthly draft calls. The death-and-draft combination was the trigger for domestic protests. Callously but accurately, Nixon believed that he could drain the will to the protest if he ended the draft calls. Thus began the shift to the volunteer army—and what I called, in an Atlantic cover story three years ago, the “Chickenhawk Nation” phenomenon, in which the country is always at war but the vast majority of Americans are spared direct cost or exposure. (From the invasion of Iraq 15 years ago until now, the total number of Americans who served at any point in Iraq or Afghanistan comes to just 1 percent of the U.S. population.)

May and Neustadt had a modest, practical ambition for their advice to study history, but to study it cautiously. “Marginal improvement in performance is worth seeking,” they wrote. “Indeed, we doubt that there is any other kind. Decisions come one at a time, and we would be satisfied to see a slight upturn in the average. This might produce much more improvement [than big dramatic changes] measured by results.”

My expectation is more modest still: I fear but expect that the U.S. is fated to lurch from one over-“learning” to its opposite, and continue making a steadily shifting range of errors.
The decision to invade Iraq was itself clearly one of those. The elder George Bush fought a quick and victorious war to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991. But he stopped short of continuing the war into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power—and so his son learned from that “failure” that he had to finish the job of eliminating Saddam. (As did a group of the younger George Bush’s most influential advisors: Dick Cheney, who had been secretary of defense during the original Gulf war, and returned as George W. Bush’s vice president. Colin Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the first time around, and secretary of state the second. Paul Wolfowitz was undersecretary of defense during the first war, and deputy secretary of defense during the second. And so on.)

Two of the writers who were most eloquent in making their case for the war—Christopher Hitchens, who then wrote for the Atlantic among other places, and Michael Kelly, who was then our editor-in-chief—based much of their case on the evils Saddam Hussein had gotten away with after the original Gulf War. (Hitchens died of cancer in 2011; Kelly was killed in Iraq, as an embedded reporter in the war’s early stage.) Then Barack Obama, who had become president in large part because he opposed the Iraq war — which gave him his opening against the vastly better known and more experienced Hillary Clinton—  learned from Iraq about the dangers of intervention in Syria. And on through whatever cycles the future holds.

Is there escape from the cycles? In a fundamental sense, of course not, no. But I’ll offer the “lesson” I learned—50 years ago, in a classroom with Professor May; 40 years ago, when I watched Jimmy Carter weigh his choices; 15 years ago, in warning about the risks of invading Iraq. It involves a cast of mind, and a type of imagination.

As the Bush administration moved onto a war footing soon after the 9/11 attacks, no one could know the future risks and opportunities. But, at the suggestion of my friend and then-editor Cullen Murphy, I began reporting on what the range of possibilities might be. Starting in the spring of 2002, when the Bush team was supposedly still months away from a decision about the war, it was clear to us that the choice had been made. I interviewed dozens of historians, military planners, specialists in post-war occupations, and people from the region to try to foresee the likely pitfalls.

The result, which was in our November, 2002 issue (and which we put online three months earlier, in hopes of affecting the debate) was called “The Fifty-First State?” Its central argument was: The “war” part of the undertaking would be the easy part, and deceptively so. The hard part would begin when U.S. troops had reached Baghdad and the statues of Saddam Hussein were pulled down—and would last for months, and years, and decades, all of which should be taken into consideration in weighing the choice for war.

It conceivably might have gone better in Iraq, and very well could have, if not for a series of disastrously arrogant and incompetent mistakes by members of the Bush team. I won’t go into details here: I laid them out in several articles, including thisthis, and this, and eventually a book. But the premise of most people I interviewed before the war, who mostly had either a military background or extensive experience in the Middle East, was that this would be very hard, and would hold a myriad of bad surprises, and was almost certain to go worse than its proponents were saying. Therefore, they said, the United States should do everything possible to avoid invading unless it had absolutely no choice. Wars should be only of necessity. This would be folly, they said, and a war of choice.

The way I thought of the difference between those confidently urging on the war, and those carefully cautioning against it, was: cast of mind. The majority of people I spoke with expressed a bias against military actions that could never be undone, and whose consequences could last for generations. I also thought of it as a capacity for tragic imagination, of envisioning what could go wrong as vividly as one might dream of what could go right. (“Mission Accomplished!”)

Any cast of mind has its biases and blind spots. But I’m impressed, in thinking about the history I have lived through and the histories I have read, by how frequently people with personal experience of war have been cautious about launching future wars. This does not make them pacifists: Harry Truman, infantry veteran of World War I, decided to drop the atomic bomb. But Ulysses Grant, Dwight Eisenhower, Colin Powell (in most of his career other than the Iraq-war salesmanship at the United Nations)—these were former commanding generals, cautious about committing troops to war. They had a tragic imagination of where that could lead and what it might mean.

What lesson do we end with? Inevitably any of them from the past will mismatch our future choices. The reasons not to invade Iraq 15 years ago are different from the risks to consider in launching a strike on North Korea or on Iran, or provoking China in some dispute in the East China Sea."

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/03/iraq-war-anniversary-fifty-first-state/555986/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Fallows
James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. Fallows has won the National Magazine Award for his 2002 story “Iraq: The Fifty-First State?” warning about the consequences of invading Iraq; he has been a finalist four other times. He has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction for his book National Defense and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne (2012). 





 


Monday, March 05, 2018

The 2001 911 (AUMF) - Dying For Reasons American Soldiers and Citizens No Longer Understand






"THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT"


"Lt. Col. Davis was deployed into combat zones four times in his career, beginning with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and then to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan twice (2005, 2011).

His testimony about the need for Congress to have the integrity to do their job and vote on our current wars is compelling, and I hope you’ll watch it in full [ 7 Minute] video  below."



"Congress’s failure to debate and vote on our current wars has led to a total abdication of its duties to declare war. As a result, many Americans are unclear about our objectives, and the 2001 authorization following 9/11 has been used to justify military operations in 14 different countries at least 37 times. 

Questions surrounding U.S. actions in Yemen—currently being challenged in Congress by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT)—are raising additional questions about how the White House and the Department of Defense are using that authorization for endless war. “The blank check just got bigger,” Center for Defense Information Military Advisory Board Member and Defense Priorities Senior Fellow Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, USA (Ret.) recently told Members of Congress.

Leadership in both parties have continually resisted calls to hold a vote on our current wars. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the need to revise the authority for our current wars—known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)—last year, but there’s been no similar debate in House. So for the first time that I can remember the Progressive Caucus and the Liberty Caucus, led by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) respectively, held a joint ad-hoc hearing on whether the 2001 AUMF needs to repealed or revised.

In 2012 he [Lt. Col. Davis) published a report showing that military leaders were misleading Congress and the American public about conditions on the ground in Afghanistan."

http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/congress/2018/when-it-comes-to-war-the-blank-check-just-got-bigger.html






Thursday, March 01, 2018

Professional Volunteer Work - What Makes It All Worthwhile

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE OR DOWNLOAD TO VIEW
By Ken Larson  Smalltofeds

"I had two mentors at key points in my 36 year career in Aerospace.

They were a combination of technical, management and communications talent, rarely found in high tech industry. Neither placed salary, position or ego ahead of developing their subordinates and each reached the pinnacle of their respective careers for exactly that trait.  Their skills at developing and utilizing people were their most highly valued qualities.

I owe my survival in a very hectic environment to those two and much of my ability to guide and counsel individuals as well as communicate effectively springs from their legacy of guidance.

 Mentoring can be a dynamic, two way street.

The most successful organizations pair experienced personnel on a staff basis with junior ones as models. Each has individual assignments and reports to the boss but the senior party is the example in the process/experience-driven aspects of the job and is available to answer questions. The younger individual infuses the older one with energy and new ideas much like osmosis.

The result is a hybrid of old and new that works and has been put together by a team.The approach works extremely well, imposes on no one, results in the young and old learning by observation, satisfaction and recognition for collective efforts and reduction in the boss’s work load. A win-win all around."  Mentoring Dynamics



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

(Glad I Did Not Take the Job) Destroyer Still Doesn’t Have A Round For Its Gun


PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

In 2008 at the tail end of a 36 year career in Aerospace and Defense I was offered a job  in the procurement by BAE from Lockheed Martin of the long-range land attack projectile, or LRLAP, a round designed to be fired from the Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer’s massive 155mm Advanced Gun Systems weapon that BAE produced.  

I turned the job down and retired.  Now 10 years later the LRLAP, at $ 800,000 a round has been cancelled and the Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer is still without a round for its big gun as it heads for Initial Operating Capability (?). 

I am truly grateful I did not become a part of this debacle.

Ken Larson

MILITARY.COM” 

“In late 2016, the service canceled plans to buy the long-range land attack projectile, or LRLAP, a round designed to be fired from the ship’s massive 155mm Advanced Gun Systems weapon.
At about $800,000 per round, the ammo was just too pricey to load up on the three ships in the limited Zumwalt large destroyer class.”

“But it’s now 2018, and the ship is expected to reach initial operational capability by fiscal 2020. And there’s still no substitute round for the AGS.

In a briefing at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium, Capt. Kevin Smith, Major Program Manager for the DDG-1000 [Zumwalt] Program Office, said the Navy continues to monitor future technologies and watch industry for a solution.

“The threat’s always changing out here and the requirements that the U.S. Navy’s looking at, as I said, this is a multi-mission ship,” Smith said. “There’s lots of things this ship can do but, right now, we’re going to be looking hard at what is the best technology to meet the requirements for the gun.”
Each of the destroyers costs roughly $4 billion. The USS Zumwalt, the first in class, was commissioned in late 2016; its successor, the Michael Monsoor, is expected to be delivered to the Navy in March. The final ship, the Lyndon B. Johnson, is set for delivery by 2020.

Capt. James Kirk, the first commanding officer of the Zumwalt, indicated that the designated purpose of the ship itself might be affected by its lack of a working mega-weapon.

“We’re going to be looking at shifting the mission set for this ship to a surface strike, land-and -sea-strike surface platform,” he said. “We’re predecisional on budget … but that’s what the focus is going to be, on a long-range surface strike platform, in contrast with previous focus on a littoral volume suppressive fires, in close to land.”

The AGS is designed to deliver a high rate of fire, as well as precision strikes.

As it stands, the Zumwalt is not without weapons: It’s built to carry RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles; Tactical Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles; Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Missiles; and two MK-46 30mm chain guns.

Officials have discussed the possibility of arming the AGS with a hypervelocity projectile, such as the one the Navy is currently testing out with its futuristic railgun prototype, but a decision on whether to move forward has yet to be made.

“We’re monitoring that technical maturation to see do we get that to get the kind of ranges and capabilities that we want, what’s the right kind of bang for the buck in cost and capability for the Navy,” Kirk said. “We’re monitoring that, but we have not made a decision on that.”

https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2018/01/12/navys-stealthy-mega-destroyer-still-doesnt-have-round-its-gun.html


"Odyssey of Armaments" is a free download in Adobe format from the "Box" in the right margin of this site. 

As we observe the current U.S. Defense Budget consuming enormous amounts of our available government funding and continuing in excess of $700 Billion annually,  this book details how the industry Eisenhower warned us about has become out of control.

A first person account by a Bronze Star decorated Vietnam Veteran who, after combat service, undertook a 36-year career in the US Military Industrial Complex (MIC) working on 25 large scale weapons systems in 12 corporations, including sales to 16 foreign countries.  These systems are in use today in the Middle East and throughout the world.

The book details the inside workings of the Military Industrial Complex among the armed service procurement offices and the mirror image corporations selling to them from Vietnam to Iraq.









Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Happy Holidays from the Ken Larson Free Q&A Reference Library





Quora Questions with Answers by Ken that have undergone over  680,000 Views on Small Business Government Contracting and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex Ken Larson Reference Library on Quora

Friday, December 01, 2017

Afghanistan Veteran Awarded Medal of Honor Explains Beating PTSD and Finding Peace and Hope

The author, Florent Groberg, is seen here as an Army lieutenant flying over Afghanistan’s Konar province in 2012. He was awarded a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat valor award, after risking his life to minimize the fallout from a deadly suicide attack. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Alexis Ramos)


"WASHINGTON POST” By Florent Gronberg

“I realized sitting in my own hospital bed, having been injured by a suicide bomber, that no Taliban, no al-Qaeda, and no foreign fighter ever truly scared me.

What frightened me were the demons in my head left behind after that traumatic attack, and their relentless work to destroy my inner spirits and finish me off.”


_____________________________________________________________________

“The longest war in American history turns 16 years old — the anniversary of the first deployment of elite special operators to Afghanistan just weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history.

Back then our mission was clear, and the call to war was simple: We were going to take out Osama bin Laden, and shut down al-Qaeda’s safe haven for good.

For most American teenagers, a 16th birthday is a huge milestone, a joyful transition into the independence, freedom and opportunities that come with adulthood. But in war, these milestones operate in reverse. The longer they stretch on, the murkier our mission feels, the greater the sacrifice becomes, and the farther into the distance our original goals fade.
Most Americans, glad to be hitting back after being attacked on 9/11, never imagined how expansive this war would become, how many millions would ultimately deploy to fight it, that bin Laden would prove such an elusive target, or that this conflict would morph from a massive manhunt to an even greater struggle for Afghanistan’s nationhood and soul.
And no one would have believed 2,500 American lives — and even more Afghan allies — would be lost.

Americans look at these questions differently and from many perspectives — across our dining room tables and our political divides. Some think we have been there too long, some that victory is just around the corner. Some think we have a responsibility to put Afghanistan back together, others that we are doing more harm than good.
I’ve been a part of these conversations, and I’ve been one of the many confused about our mission. Until I deployed myself.

On the ground in Afghanistan, walking through the silvery moon dust that layers the mountain ridgelines and among ancient societies who carve their homes out of some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain, this war looks very different.
Instead of hostile barbarians, I found myself among hungry and hopeful people. Instead of hunting a terrorist, we hunted for a nation’s future.

Yes, we fought the Taliban, and we used overwhelming American strength to fight those who engaged us with hostility. But we spent much more time working to improve the living conditions for ordinary Afghans, to clear paths for children to safely go to school, to deliver electricity, clean water and basic human security.

I saw the best of humanity at work in Afghanistan through the sacrifices and bravery of the people we worked alongside.
I also saw the depths of evil. Acts of barbaric cruelty, Afghan against Afghan, and brother against brother. The Taliban are a merciless enemy, happy to kill scores of their own people if it was worth one American life.

What hits hardest from my time in Afghanistan is how many of us came home with wounds — physical and emotional.
I nearly became a statistic, one of the 20 veterans who takes his or her life every single day. But like my time in combat, I relied on my brothers and sisters around me. They never quit on me, they pushed me and guided me. They saved my life once in the mountains of Afghanistan and again in the hospital room of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Today, I work with the Boeing Co. to help veterans and their families land careers where they can use their rare and unique skills. Part of that process involves providing our veterans with the resources they need when they, too, are struggling, physically or emotionally. To me, the continuing legacy of this war resides in every job offered to a veteran, in every family reunited with their service member, and in every opportunity for peace that we create.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Florent Groberg is a retired Army captain, Medal of Honor recipient and author of “8 Seconds of Courage: A Soldier’s Story from Immigrant to the Medal of Honor,” to be released Nov. 7. He works at Boeing Co. as director of veterans outreach and defense, space and security strategy. On Twitter: @FlorentGroberg


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/10/07/the-evil-in-afghanistan-drove-me-to-the-brink-of-suicide-heres-how-i-found-peace/




Wednesday, November 01, 2017

A Combat and Defense Company Veteran Connects the Dots For Veterans Day 2017




U.S. Wars and Healthcare for Those Who Fight Them 
 
FACTS:

The U.S. has spent $ Billions on warfare and invasion in the Middle East and many other world locations, sacrificing young soldiers lives in the name of security and military industrial complex profits. 

The 5 largest weapons production and services companies are experiencing the best years in their respective histories. 

Many Americans do not know the number of locations in which we have a military presence today, since in many instances we are not informed when we invade a new country. 

For well over a decade, the US has reacted to the 911 tragedy by creating a behemoth machine that:
  • Knows Only Killing
  • Has Little Understanding of Foreign Cultural Factors in Nation Building
  • Spawns New Versions of Our Old Enemies 
  • Creates a Dangerous Outgrowth of Technology in the Military Industrial Complex and Then Exports It for Profit
  • Defies Financial Control With Dire Consequences for the Nation’s Economic Future 

Economic competitors like China on the world stage have invested enormous amounts in networks involving prudent infrastructure, financial investment and relationship building while avoiding warfare. 
  • China is quickly growing into the world’s most extensive commercial empire. The scale and scope of the "Belt and Road" initiative is staggering.
  • Estimates vary, but over $300 billion have already been spent, and China plans to spend $1 trillion more in the next decade or so.
  • Unlike the United States and Europe, China uses aid, trade, and foreign direct investment strategically to build goodwill, expand its political sway, and secure the natural resources it needs to grow.
 
A Change Must 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 by 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 from threat scenarios to cooperative, peaceful ventures. 

Electing a Congress and an Administration that knows how to strike a balance between long and short term actions and 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 Cost in Dollars and Human Suffering to Our Volunteer Military and Its Veterans Involves Profiteering Among Federal Contractors

The massive backlog in veteran's services recently highlighted in the press and in Congress  reveals a dire necessity for simplification, communication and efficiency in processes, systems and government service contracting in DOD and the Veterans Administration as well as better management of federal government contractors. 

The news media, the auditors and the average American are pointing the finger at the President and the Head of the VA.  One cannot ignore the accountability aspects of these individuals.  

However, the real root causes lie in the massive volume of war veterans returning from our pointless incursions in the Middle East over the last decade, coupled with the historical  lack of integration in process and systems work conducted between the Department of Defense and the VA with poorly managed military contractors taking home millions on systems specifications that change like the wind blows.  


 
A Veteran Connects the Dots in the Military and Veterans Healthcare Systems Maze
The present state of the economy and the needs of our servicemen will not allow the aforementioned to  continue. Government agencies are now hard pressed to insure the most  "Bang for the Buck". It is in the long term interests of the politician, the DOD, the VA and astute contractors to assist in that endeavor. 

The only way to achieve such an objective is through sound technical, cost and schedule contract definition via an iterative process of baseline management and control.

Contract Baseline Management

Government civil servants must be trained to report systemic poor service up the line in lieu of hiding bad news from superiors or developing workarounds.  This must be an expectation built into their job description and they must be rewarded and promoted for meeting that requirement just as they are for the other requirements of their jobs. 

The first whistle to be blown must be to the boss when the service issue occurs, not to the press a year from the occurrence.  

Military Health Care Systems Maze

Strategic and Economic Trends in U.S. Warfare 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 falls into enemy hands, either through the "Internet of Things" or by blunders in export management and battlefield events.  


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. Our competition on the world stage has recognized this fact and is proceeding accordingly. 


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.

 Our returning soldiers and those who have served before deserve better.




Sunday, October 01, 2017

Big Data At Its Best – POGO Federal Contractor Misconduct Data Base


THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT – POGO”

“We encourage you to visit our Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, which currently contains 412 resolved and 121 pending instances of workplace-related misconduct by the federal government’s largest contractors.

The government’s top vendors have paid a collective total of $2.7 billion in fines, judgments, and settlements since 1996 for a wide variety of labor violations, including discrimination, health and safety hazards, unpaid wages, and whistleblower retaliation.

The vast majority of the labor misconduct instances in our database did not involve the federal government. About 54 percent were lawsuits filed by private parties, while another 7 percent were enforcement actions by local, state, and foreign governments. One instance we recently added is KBR’s $3.75 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by construction workers who alleged the company stiffed them on wages and meal breaks at a California mining facility.

The Trump administration’s efforts to roll back worker protections and oversight of contractors’ business practices could further shrink the percentage of labor instances involving Uncle Sam in our database. Nonetheless, at least for now, federal enforcers are still on the job. 

A few weeks ago, the National Nuclear Security Administration hit National Security Technologies, the managing contractor of the Nevada Test Site, with a proposed $112,500 fine for violations of worker safety and health requirements. In May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Exxon Mobil $164,775 for violations related to a November 2016 Baton Rouge refinery explosion that injured four workers.

A list of all resolved and pending labor misconduct instances in our database can be found at this link.”

http://www.pogo.org/blog/2017/09/celebrate-labor-day-by-diving-into-contractor-misconduct-data.html

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Military Kills Recruiting Contracts for Hundreds of Immigrant Recruits

Thirty-seven service members from 22 different countries take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony held at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on July 4, 2013. (Army/Sgt. Anita VanderMolen)  
"WASHINGTON POST"

"Many of these enlistees have waited years to join a troubled recruitment program designed to attract highly skilled immigrants into the service in exchange for fast-track citizenship.

U.S. Army recruiters have abruptly canceled enlistment contracts for hundreds of foreign-born military recruits since last week, upending their lives and potentially exposing many to deportation, according to several affected recruits and former military officials familiar with their situation.


Now recruits and experts say that recruiters are shedding their contracts to free themselves from an onerous enlistment process, which includes extensive background investigations, to focus on individuals who can more quickly enlist and thus satisfy strict recruitment targets.
Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer who led creation of the immigration recruitment program, told The Washington Post that she has received dozens of frantic messages from recruits this week, with many more reporting similar action in Facebook groups. She said hundreds could be affected.
“It’s a dumpster fire ruining people’s lives. The magnitude of incompetence is beyond belief,” she said. “We have a war going on. We need these people.”
The nationwide disruption comes at a time when President Trump navigates a political minefield, working with Democrats on the fate of “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children — while continuing to stoke his anti-immigrant base. It was not immediately clear whether Pentagon officials have taken hard-line immigration stances from the White House as a signal to ramp down support for its foreign-born recruitment program.
Stock said a recruiter told her there was pressure from the recruiting command to release foreign-born recruits, with one directive suggesting they had until Sept. 14 to cut them loose without counting against their recruiting targets, an accounting quirk known as “loss forgiveness.”
The recruiter told Stock that the Army Reserve is struggling to meet its numbers before the fiscal year closes Sept. 30 and that canceling on resource-intensive recruits is attractive to some recruiters, she said.
On Friday, the Pentagon denied ordering a mass cancellation of immigrant recruit contracts and said there were no incentives to do so. Officials said that recent directives to recruiters were meant to reiterate that immigrant recruits must be separated within two years of enlistment unless they “opt in” for an additional year.
But some recruits among half a dozen interviewed for this article said they were not approaching that two-year limit when their contracts were canceled, sowing confusion about the reason they were cut loose. The Pentagon declined to address whether messages to recruiters contained language that could have been misinterpreted.
Lola Mamadzhanova, who immigrated to the United States from Kyrgyzstan in 2009, said she heard that Army recruiters in Evanston, Ill., texted immigrant recruits last week asking whether they still wanted to enlist, with an unusual condition: They had 10 minutes to respond. She never received the text message.
“The recruiters did some dirty trick just to get me out so I won’t be trouble anymore,” Mamadzhanova, 27, told The Post on Thursday. Her active-duty contract was canceled Sept. 7, according to a separation document obtained by The Post that said she “declined to enlist.” She later learned the recruiters used a wrong number to text her.
The senior recruiter at Mamadzhanova’s station contacted by The Post declined to comment and called Mamadzhanova seven minutes afterward to reverse previous guidance, saying her unlawful immigration status was the reason she was released. She enlisted in December 2015, which puts her three months outside the two-year limit.
Mamadzhanova was assured by other recruiters that her status would not be an issue and that she would ship for training soon after her immigration status slipped, around her enlistment date. Mamadzhanova, who is fluent in Russian, said the shifting and unclear rules have blindsided her.
“Joining the Army was a dream of mine since America has treated me so well,” she said. She applied for asylum in April, joining other recruits who have sought asylum or fled.
Some anti-immigration sentiment has swirled in the Pentagon for years, former staffers have said, with personnel and security officials from the Obama administration larding the immigrant recruiting process with additional security checks for visa holders already vetted by the Departments of State and Homeland Security.
“Immigrant recruits are already screened far more than any other recruits we have,” Naomi Verdugo, a former senior recruiting official for the Army at the Pentagon, told The Post.
“It seems like overkill, but there seems to be a sense that no matter what background check you do, it’s never enough,” she said. Verdugo, along with Stock, helped implement the recruitment program.
One Indian immigrant, a Harvard graduate and early recruit who is now a Special Forces soldier, was called back to undertake the updated security checks, she said.
“Even though you’re in the Army, even though you’re naturalized, these policies say ‘we’re not going to treat you like any other soldier,'” Verdugo said of the concerns over immigrants held by some at the Pentagon.
Internal Pentagon documents obtained by The Post have said the immigrant recruitment program, formally known as the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program, was suspended last fall after the clearance process was paralyzed and officials voiced concern over foreign infiltrators, though it remains unclear whether any threats have ever materialized.
Experts say the relatively small number of recruits in the MAVNI program possess skills with outsize value, such as foreign languages highly sought by Special Operations Command. The program has rotated 10,400 troops into the military, mostly the Army, since its inception in 2009.
Although the military says it benefits from these recruits, they can generate a disproportionate amount of work for recruiters who must navigate regulations and shifting policies. The layered security checks can add months or years to the enlistment process, frustrating recruiters who must meet strictly enforced goals by quickly processing recruits.
In a summer memo, the Pentagon listed 2,400 foreign recruits with signed contracts who are drilling in reserve units but have not been naturalized and have not gone to basic training. About 1,600 others are waiting to clear background checks before active duty service, the Pentagon said.
The document acknowledges 1,000 of those troops waited so long that they are no longer in legal status and could be exposed to deportation. That number probably has climbed since the memo was drafted in May or June. Lawmakers have asked Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to intervene on behalf of those recruits.
Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) filed an amendment in the defense authorization bill Tuesday to retain MAVNI recruits until their lengthy background investigations are finished.
“These brave men & women enlisted & the Administration turns its back on them,” Harris tweeted Friday. “We must pass Sen. Durbin’s & my bill to protect these recruits.”
During July 19 testimony in a lawsuit filed by recruits who said the federal government unlawfully delayed their naturalizations, Justice Department attorney Colin Kisor assured a district court in Washington that recruits would see their contracts canceled only if “derogatory” information was found in extensive background investigations.
Mamadzhanova and others said their screenings, which take months to complete, have begun recently and could not have returned results.
Meanwhile, confusion reigned for recruits in multiple states.
At one office in Illinois, a senior recruiter restored a contract less than two hours after The Post inquired about a case. In Texas, a recruiter did the same 12 minutes after a call seeking to confirm whether a recruit’s contract was canceled.
An immigrant recruit who came to the United States in 2006 and enlisted in Virginia said her contract was canceled Tuesday after she had waited for two years, just as her legal immigration status expired. She asked to opt-in for another year, but her contract was dissolved days later, she said.
Recruiters had assured her, saying her contract was a shield from federal immigration authorities, she said. She spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
She now fears deportation to her native Indonesia, which strips native-born people of citizenship if they enlist in a foreign military or pledge loyalty to another country, as she has done.
“I feel devastated,” she said. “The Army was my only hope.”