Category Archive 'War on Terror'
18 May 2014
Answer: It would court martial him, reduce him in rank, and force him to retire.
Aaron MacLean, reviewing American Spartan by Ann Scott Tyson.
The indictment of Jim Gant, a major in the U.S. Army Special Forces until his reduction in rank and compulsory retirement as a captain in 2013, is as follows. While leading the American effort to mobilize Afghan tribes against the Taliban in the Konar valley during 2011 and 2012, he drank alcohol. He used prescription pain medication that was not, in fact, prescribed for him by a physician. He stored explosives in his room, rather than in an approved space. He kept inappropriate materials of a sexual nature in his room. He exchanged government funds, and his own personal money, with Afghans for goods and services in a series of transactions that were not approved by his chain of command. He provided the Afghan tribal militias he was training with U.S. government gasoline, again without authorization. He falsified numerous documents in support of these unapproved transactions.
Additionallyâ€”and notablyâ€”during his time living among the Konar tribes he also regularly cohabited with his now-wife, Washington Post reporter Ann Scott Tyson, who participated in operations with the tribes and was granted access to classified information pursuant to those operations. Finally, to quote from a memo by a Brig. Gen. Christopher Haas and sent to Gant in April of 2012:
During your time in command, you purposely and repeatedly endangered the lives of your Soldiers. You taught, and ordered executed, [SIC] unconventional and unsafe â€˜figure-8â€™ immediate actions in response to enemy contact. You painted inappropriate and unauthorized symbols on Government vehicles, painted the symbol on your vehicle a different color, then challenged the enemy to try and kill you without consideration to your Service Membersâ€™ lives or well being. [SIC] You sent â€˜night lettersâ€™ to the enemy, further drawing dangerous attention to yourself and subordinates. These are the same Soldiers that you have the duty to properly train, mentor, lead, and most importantly, defend.
In March 2012, when the curtain finally descended on Major Gantâ€™s operation in the Konar, his superiors sent a U.S. Army Special Forces team to seize his camp and to arrest him and his second-in-command. Yet Gantâ€™s soldiersâ€”young infantrymen from a regular battalion, earlier provided to Gant instead of the seasoned special operations team that he had been promisedâ€”wept openly. The Afghan tribesmen who maintained the position jointly with the soldiers warned the newly arrived team not to handcuff Maj. Gant. Things might get ugly. Shortly after his removal, several Konar tribes sent a deputation of dozens of elders to petition the provincial governor, Fazllulah Wahidi, to ask Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S. Army to allow Gant to return to the valley.
With such an extensive list of charges against him, what had Jim Gant done to be so popular with his own soldiers, and with the Afghans among whom he lived?
He had won.
But David Axe doesn’t care about Gant’s success. The man violated chickenshit Army regulations. He drank, used drugs, and armed his girlfriend. We can’t have our wars won by men capable of breaking rules.
Tyson took a leave of absence from The Washington Post and joined Gant in Kunar in late 2010, ostensibly in order to write American Spartan. But Tysonâ€™s experiences with the Special Forces in Kunar were more intimate than a typical media embedâ€”something Wood fails to point out.
Gant taught Tyson to use Special Forcesâ€™ weapons, presumably including, at a minimum, assault rifles and handguns. â€œOn missions with Gant and his team, she wore U.S. military fatigues and tucked her hair up under a ballcap,â€ Wood writes. â€œHer job in a firefight was to pass ammunition to the turret gunner.â€
Iâ€™ve embedded dozens of times with a dozen different armiesâ€”once even with Army Special Forces. My hosts never offered to train me on their weapons. In several firefights, no one ever assigned me the job of handing out ammo. I never wore military fatigues, in part because I didnâ€™t want anyone to mistake me for a soldier.
Because Iâ€™m not one. It seems that in the company of a warrior she greatly admiredâ€”and was growing to loveâ€”Tyson forgot that sheâ€™s not a soldier, either.
The Pentagon doesnâ€™t authorize journalists to participate in combat. When reporter Michael Yon, himself a former Green Beret, picked up a rifle and opened fire to help protect a wounded American soldier in Iraq in 2005, it whipped up a bureaucratic shitstorm inside the Pentagonâ€”and what one news report described as â€œa stern reprimand from the Armyâ€ for Yon.
But Wood gives Gant a pass for more or less enlisting Tyson. â€œThey argue in the book that her presence was a useful link to village women and helped cement ties between the Americans and the Afghans,â€ Wood writes.
It doesnâ€™t occur to him that, in fact, the mere presence of an unmarried woman in a formal setting might be highly offensive to conservative Afghans.
Besides arming his girlfriend journalist, Gant broke lots of other Army rules in Kunar. He drank alcohol and took sleeping pills, painkillers and â€œother pharmaceuticals,â€ according to Wood. Gant kept classified documents in his room, in violation of specific government guidelines for securing secret information.
â€œYes, I broke those rules and I never say I didnâ€™t,â€ Gant told Wood. â€œBut I mean, weâ€™re not talking rape, murder, stealing property.â€ …
Most Green Berets donâ€™t take their girlfriends, booze and drugs to war with them. They certainly donâ€™t need lovers and gullible reporters to write elaborate defenses of their combat records.
Gant is no hero. His behavior in Afghanistan was unacceptable. And no hagiography… can redeem the manâ€™s shameful legacy.
Hat tip to Sarah Jenislawski.
23 Aug 2010
On the occasion of the notional end of the War in Iraq, Randall Hoven examines the popular liberal talking point that it was the Bush deficits incurred because of the Iraq War that wrecked the economy.
It was under Mr Bush that the deficit spiralled out of control as we fought an unnecessary and endless $3,000bn war in Iraq…”
– James Carville, the Financial Times.
“The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.”
– Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Washington Post.
The correct [figure], according to the Congressional Budget Office, is $709 billion. The Iraq War cost $709 billion. Why Carville, Bilmes, and Nobel-winning economist Stiglitz thought the answer was $3 trillion is anybody’s guess. But what’s a 323% error among friends?
The CBO breaks that cost down over the eight calendar years of 2003-2010. [Above] is a picture of federal deficits over those years with and without Iraq War spending. …
No one will say that $709 billion is not a lot of money. But first, that was spread over eight years. Secondly, let’s put that in some perspective. Below are some figures for those eight years, 2003 through 2010.
* Total federal outlays: $22,296 billion.
* Cumulative deficit: $4,731 billion.
* Medicare spending: $2,932 billion.
* Iraq War spending: $709 billion.
* The Obama stimulus: $572 billion.
There is an important note to go along with that Obama stimulus number: the stimulus did not even start until 2009. By 2019, the CBO estimates the stimulus will have cost $814 billion.
If we look only at the Iraq War years in which Bush was President (2003-2008), spending on the war was $554B. Federal spending on education over that same time period was $574B.
So the following are facts, based on the government’s own figures.
* Obama’s stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq War — more than $100 billion
* Just the first two years of Obama’s stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.
* Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.
* Iraq War spending was not even one quarter of what we spent on Medicare in the same time frame.
* Iraq War spending was not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame. The cumulative deficit, 2003-2010, would have been four-point-something trillion dollars with or without the Iraq War.
* The Iraq War accounts for less than 8% of the federal debt held by the public at the end of 2010 ($9.031 trillion).
* During Bush’s Iraq years, 2003-2008, the federal government spent more on education that it did on the Iraq War. (State
and local governments spent about ten times more.)
07 Jun 2010
SPC Bradley Manning
Back in April, Wikileaks released a video of a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of armed Iraqis in southeastern Baghdad on July 12, 2007.
The video appeared in a shorter and longer version, titled “Collateral Murder,” accompanied by an extremely partisan commentary expressing open opposition to the US military effort in Iraq. An Iraqi employed as a news photographer by Reuters and his driver were killed in the course of the helicopter’s attack.
The perspective taken by the videos editors was that the helicopter’s attack was unwarranted and a war crime, and the video was edited and annotated in a fashion designed to persuade its viewers to accept that interpretation.
In reality, the Apache was operating in close cooperation with US infantry looking for armed insurgents who had engaged American troops in fierce fighting nearby a little while earlier. The group of Iraqis encountered by the helicopter undoubtedly included armed men who, despite being “relaxed” at the time and not at the moment actively engaged in combat with American forces, could very reasonably be supposed to be some of the hostile insurgents being pursued.
The Reuters photographer’s equipment probably was mistaken for a weapon, but combat requires quick decisions based on limited and imperfect information. The level of restraint implicitly expected by the video’s producers is completely unreasonable. If a photographer is carrying equipment easily mistaken for arms and places himself in the immediate vicinity of enemy forces who are really armed, his being fired upon should be no surprise to anyone.
“Collateral Murder” is a deeply dishonest piece of anti-US propaganda, and as such it was, of course, enthusiastically covered by HuffPo, Dan Froomkin, Rachel Maddow, and the rest of the leftwing commentariat.
The source of the leak which made the Apache’s video available for use against the United States was a 22 year old Army Intelligence analyst who has just been arrested. Wired has the story:
SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Armyâ€™s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says heâ€™s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.
Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables.
US Intelligence for a change moved rapidly on this one. The leak that made all the news was in early April.
It does seem odd that someone of such extreme leftwing views would not only be serving in the volunteer Army, but would have been assigned to work in Intelligence and given a Top Secret clearance. What does it take, one wonders, to be disqualified from high level clearances?
26 Feb 2009
George W. Bush confronting the bureaucracies
In the National Interest, Richard Perle describes the fatal disconnect between George W. Bush’s professed policies and the entrenched State Department and National Security bureaucracies’ failure to implement them. Not only were Bush’s policies not faithfully pursued, in many cases, they were openly attacked and covertly undermined by leaks and disinformation operations.
Perle additionally debunks the left’s favorite bogey: the sinister imperialist “neocon” conpiracy. In recent years, neocon came to be used as a leftwing pejorative for someone supposedly guilty of responsibility for a new, more virulent and objectionable form of conservatism, inclined to unilateral militarism overseas and supportive of hypersecurity measures at homes. The left entirely managed to forget that a neocon is really a (typically Jewish intellectual) former liberal who has been “mugged by reality” and become a foreign policy and law enforcement hawk in response to the excesses of the radical left post the late 1960s. Dick Cheney, who has always been a conservative, for instance, cannot possibly be classified as a neocon.
For eight years George W. Bush pulled the levers of governmentâ€”sometimes franticallyâ€”never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the presidentâ€™s policies. They didnâ€™t need his directives: they had their own. …
The responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Riceâ€™s State Department, ordering instead the â€œsurge,â€ a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom. …
Understanding Bushâ€™s foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administrationâ€™s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative â€œideologuesâ€ who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oilâ€”or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument. …
I believe that Bush went to war for the reasonsâ€”and only the reasonsâ€”he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. …
[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administrationâ€™s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddamâ€™s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.
I am not alone in having been asked, â€œIf you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?â€ But what appears to some to be a â€œgotchaâ€ question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on oneâ€™s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didnâ€™t burn down or health insurance because you didnâ€™t become ill. …
I believe the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.
But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government. …
If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.
I believe Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.
Read the whole thing.
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