30 September 2006

GALLOWAY - Army being pushed past its limits

The State | 09/30/2006 | Army being pushed past its limits
Army being pushed past its limits
The Bush administration and the Congress have so starved the U.S. Army of funds - in the middle of a war whose burdens fall most heavily on that Army - that push has finally come to shove.
Without major reinforcements, both in money and manpower, the Army won't be able to provide enough units for the next rotations into Iraq and Afghanistan, much less provide the additional troops that many, if not most, officers think are needed to stave off disaster in both countries. The Marines aren't much better off.
Put simply, the Army doesn't have enough soldiers, equipment or money to do the jobs assigned to it, even as the administration and the Pentagon talk about a "long war" against global terrorism and the nation's intelligence community warns that our policies are stoking the global spread of Islamic terrorism.
Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, in mid-August clearly signaled just how bad the situation has become when he refused to put an Army budget on the table.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had told Schoomaker that he had to come up with a spending plan that provided approximately $114 billion for fiscal 2008 - a $2 billion cut from 2007.
Schoomaker's response: "There is no sense in us submitting a budget that we cannot execute... a broken budget."
He said it would cost an additional $17 billion just to work through the huge backlog of broken and worn-out Army tanks and Bradleys and Humvees at Army repair depots. Nearly 1,500 worn-out fighting vehicles are sitting at the Red River Army Depot in Texas, and 500 useless M1 tanks are at the Anniston Depot in Alabama.
Meanwhile, the Army is so bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq that only two or three of its combat brigades, fewer than 10,000 soldiers, are ready and able to deal with any new crisis elsewhere in the world.
None of the other brigades that have returned from combat duty for a year at home are ready for combat: Some of them have only half their allotted number of troops and none of their fighting vehicles.
Army leaders say they'll require substantial numbers of Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers to make the next rotation that Gen. John Abizaid, the regional commander, says will be required in Iraq. Since most Reserve and Guard units have already maxed out at the permitted two years on active duty out of every five, Congress will have to change the law so they can be sent back again.
Schoomaker has told the Pentagon and the White House that the Army needs $138.8 billion in 2008, 41 percent more than the current budget of $98.2 billion. So, either Congress ponies up the money or the administration will have to scale back demands on the force that's carrying virtually all the load in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of course there's an alternative, and one that I predict the politicians will grab for in desperation: Cutting back on the Army's $200 billion Future Combat System, the only major weapons system on the Army's books.
That would be eating the seed corn - cutting off research and development of future fighting vehicles and the only hope of rebuilding and refitting the Army in the wake of Iraq - but a little thing like that has never bothered our politicians.
This is a problem could have been addressed in the Pentagon's last Quadrennial Defense Review, the one in which Secretary Rumsfeld was going to re-order the world of defense contracting and kill all those costly and unnecessary Air Force and Navy weapons programs that consume the bulk of the defense budget.
He was going to, but he didn't, and now the Army and the Marines are paying the price.
Rumsfeld came into office convinced that brilliant technological leaps were rendering the Army ground-pounders obsolete. He thought the quick victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan confirmed that.
But just as some of us always knew, it turned out that if you want to hold and pacify a hostile land, or two hostile lands, you need soldiers and Marines standing on that ground, rifles in hand, bayonets fixed.
It's galling in the extreme for the leaders of our Army - an outfit that believes in "Can Do" as a way of life - to admit that they can't do it anymore; to admit that they can't do a 12-division mission with 10 divisions.
There are no more easy fixes. The people who are fighting your wars are broke. It's time for the people who proclaim their support for our military and use soldiers as extras in their political events to put up or shut up.
Write to Mr. Galloway at jlgalloway2@cs.com

29 September 2006

TSA clearly out of control

CNN.com - 'Idiot' barb gets passenger detained - Sep 28, 2006
The supervisor told Bird he had the right to express his opinions 'out there' -- pointing outside the screening area -- but did not have the right 'in here,' Bird said.

At this point, we need to seriously re-examine (a) who's in charge of the TSA, (b) what messages they're allowing to trickle down to their employees, and (c) the legal justification for the TSA's existence.

A TSA spokeswoman said she could not confirm whether Bird had filed a complaint, but described the incident as insignificant.

And this is why the TSA is the most reviled agency in American after the IRS. Detaining a customer and claiming he has no rights is "insignificant"? Come again?

'Everyone's entitled to their own opinion,' she said.

Apparently not, if we have no rights "in [t]here"...

26 September 2006

Here I come to save the daaaaayyyy!

Rumsfeld holds talks with Montenegrans - Yahoo! News
Amid news the U.S. Army has extended a second unit's deployment in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was meeting Tuesday with top leaders in Montenegro to discuss the newly independent republic's possible contribution to the war on terror.

Because, as we all know, the Montenegrans are feared throughout the world for their counter-terrorism prowess, and adding them to the coalition is surely the tipping point that will forever change the global war on terror!

Clinton vs Rice

Condi Rice claims that the Bush administration in the first 8 months of their time in office did at least as much as the Clintons over several years to kill Bin Laden.
"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice said during a meeting with editors and reporters at the New York Post.

Here's all you need to know about that claim:
Number of cruise missile strikes directed at Bin Laden-sponsored training camps during the first 8 months of Bush's administration: 0.

21 September 2006

Failed suicide bomber sentenced to death in Jordan - Yahoo! News

Failed suicide bomber sentenced to death in Jordan - Yahoo! News
AMMAN (Reuters) - A Jordanian military court sentenced to death an Iraqi woman who tried to carry out a suicide bombing and six other people on Thursday for planning attacks which killed 60 people in Amman last year.

And the penalty for trying to kill yourself shall be... death?

20 September 2006

StrategyPage examines the 'protests' over the Pope

The CBS Ambush - On Point Commentary by Austin Bay StrategyPage.com
Benedict -- in a speech that examined historical relations between Muslims and Christians -- quoted the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, a ruler whose empire consisted of little more than the city of Constantinople. Muslim Turks had all but dismembered his realm. Manuel II, engaged in a dialog with a Muslim Persian scholar, challenged the Persian to show him 'just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'

11 September 2006

The Last Day of Innocence - Leonard Pitts

The last day of innocence: The last day of innocence
Miami Herald

On Sept. 10, 2001, this nation was over a quarter century past its last real crisis.
This is not to say the intervening years were uneventful: They were not. Those years saw three attempted presidential assassinations, a shuttle explosion, an impeachment and sundry hostage takings, military actions and political scandals. But there had not, since Watergate, been a true "crisis," no event of the kind that shakes a nation, that stops it cold and takes its breath and makes it anxious about its future.
In this, the quarter century that ended five years ago was an aberration. Previous generations of Americans had come of age with reminders of life's true nature breathing close enough to stir the hairs at the nape of the neck. From the Great Depression that put the nation on the skids in the 1930s, to the sneak attack that plunged it into war in the 1940s, from the 1960s when every day seemed to bring fresh outrage – assassinations, riots, a step to the brink of nuclear war – to Watergate and the subsequent fall of a sitting president, and from there to the Cold War that hung over more than 40 years of American history like a pall of smoke, we were a nation too frequently made to know that life does not play fair.
By Sept. 10, 2001, we had largely forgotten this truth. Or, more accurately, we had enjoyed the luxury of not being reminded for a very long time.
It was the last day of the good old days, and we didn't even know. Not that the days were good and old. Not that they were doomed.
But then, you never know the good old days when you are in them. On Sept. 10, 2001, the Cold War was 10 years past, 17-year-olds were becoming Internet millionaires, and we thought a crisis was a president receiving oral sex in the Oval Office.
We had not yet seen people jumping from flaming skyscrapers. We had not yet seen office towers crumble to the ground on live television. We had not yet seen dust-caked people wandering the streets of our greatest city. We had not yet seen an airplane sticking out of the Pentagon. We had not yet seen wreckage in a Pennsylvania field. We had not yet seen men and women in badges and uniforms rushing forward into chaos and smoke and a certainty of death.
We had not yet seen. So we could not yet know.
On Sept. 10, 2001, such sights as those – never mind the attendant feelings of fury and terror – were unthinkable. As in, literally unable to be thought, unless in the context of a Stephen Spielberg movie, a Tom Clancy book, some artist's artifice by which we gave ourselves the pleasure of a good, hard scare, a shiver up the back in the heat of a summer's day. But real? Not in a million years.
On Sept. 10, 2001, we were innocent. And that seems a purely strange thing to say because innocence is the commodity we were repeatedly assured we had lost. We were told this in 1963, when John Kennedy was murdered, in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned, in 1993, when the World Trade Center was bombed.
But innocence, it turns out, is a renewable commodity. That's heartening. Also troubling, because if you can have it again, it can be stolen again.
No, check that. It will be stolen again. That's the lesson of these last five years, that there is no vacation from history, no finish line you cross where you can raise your arms and lower your guard. Chaos is not the aberration. Respite from chaos is. And being human means molding yourself to that reality, finding a way to live in the spaces chaos leaves.
On Sept. 10, 2001, we had forgotten that we once knew this.
That last day, like every day, the sun came to America first on the rugged coast of Maine and began its slow arc across the country. Down below, we worked, watched television, checked homework, got dinner on. The sun left us in the South Pacific, the sky turning dark above a pendant of American islands.
On Sept. 10, 2001, we went to bed. We slept in innocence.
And then the morning came.

05 September 2006