Archive for the ‘Military’ Category
ISIS is calling for radicalized “lone wolves” in the United States to go to the homes of U.S. soldiers and “slaughter” military personnel.
This is part of what is expected to be “a continued call” for American military personnel to be targeted within the United States.
According to Fox News, one British jihadist “encouraged radicals still living in the West to use Facebook and Linkedln to find and target soldiers.” The jihadist tweeted: “You could literally search for soldiers, find their town, photos of them, look for addresses in Yellowbook or something. Then show up and slaughter them.”
Militants in Syria have also been using Twitter to “[encourage] Muslims in the West to target soldiers with spontaneous attacks using [knives and guns],” the report continued.
On September 16, NBC News reported on a Rochester, New York man, Mafid A. Elfgeeh, who was charged for “trying to recruit people to join…ISIS…and shoot people in the United States.” Elfgeeh is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen. The targets Elfgeeh allegedly had in mind were “American military personnel returning from the Middle East.”
The Obama administration continues to claim the Islamic State poses no immediate threat to the homeland, but the threats against our soldiers on our soil, not just serving abroad, appear quite immediate.
When we engage in military action, we ask service members to risk their lives and their health, physical and mental. Even those who come home physically safe may see or do things in war that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Asking Congress to debate and vote on this issue is a small sacrifice in comparison.
Mr. Obama began airstrikes against ISIS (also known as ISIL) in August — during a congressional recess — to protect American lives in Iraq and avoid humanitarian catastrophe. But when the president decided last week to “go on offense” against the group, the need for congressional approval was plain. I and other senators have repeatedly called for Mr. Obama to submit this important mission to Congress, and for Congress to grapple with it in the manner required by Article I of the Constitution. The announcement last week by the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, that the committee would craft authorizing language is a positive step.
We in Congress must also heed the painful lessons from the language of the authorization of the use of military force that was enacted days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the request of President George W. Bush. In just 60 words, Congress authorized the president to take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, but imposed no temporal or geographic limitations on the effort. Subsequent interpretations expanded the scope of action to include the broadly defined universe of “associated forces.” At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in May 2013, representatives of the Obama administration blithely opined that the 2001 authorization could allow for war to be carried out for another 25 years, an astonishing claim that surely went beyond what Congress intended 13 years ago.
We should not be stretching the open-ended 9/11 authorization even further to cover action against ISIS, an organization that didn’t even exist until years after the 9/11 attacks and is in open conflict with Al Qaeda. Instead, we should be drafting a specific, narrow authorization for limited military action as described by Mr. Obama last week: airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the training and equipping of forces in the region to fight ISIS, and counterterrorism operations to eliminate the organization’s leadership. And we should put an appropriate expiration date on this authority, so that the president and Congress can assess progress and decide whether to continue the mission.
A father/soldier was denied entry into his daughter’s high school by four members of its security staff, told that his uniform might “offend” some students.
“Before he was allowed in, the security guard stopped him and said sorry you’re not allowed in the school. Security told him men and women in uniform weren’t allowed because it may offend another student,” Lt. Col. Sherwood Baker’s wife, Rachel, told a local Fox affiliate.
Col. Baker was was on his way to see his daughter’s counselor regarding her class schedule when the incident occurred.
“I can’t even believe they would think like that after all [soldiers] do for our country,” Jim Reynolds, a local resident, told the station.
Rochester Schools Superintendent Robert Shaner, who is also a veteran, sent a letter to the Fox affiliate apologizing for incident.
Mr. Shaner’s statement read: “The district has apologized for any perception that individuals in uniform are not welcome in the school. The district does not have a policy excluding individuals in uniform and will be working with administration and the firm that handles our security to make sure district policies are understood and communicated accurately.”
In this hyperpartisan age, there is one point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats on foreign policy–that is, in addition to the newfound conviction that Congress need not exercise its constitutional authority over war: namely, that there shall be no “boots on the ground in Iraq.” It is a view requiring immediate clarification: there may be more U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq, but no combat troops will be sent.
President Barack Obama offered that reassurance in his addresses to the nation. His former rival, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said the same in an interview with the BBC on Hard Talk this week. No one, he said testily, was proposing sending U.S. combat troops to Iraq. And they have their finger on the American pulse–and the polls: nearly two-thirds support fighting ISIS, but only one-third supports sending combat troops to the region.
The distinction between “troops” and “combat troops” turns out to be politically convenient–and one that I will leave more qualified people to explain. Suffice it to say that it is probably a distinction easily fudged. And it is far from clear that merely bombing ISIS is going to be enough to “degrade” the proto-state, much less “destroy” it. Just ask Israel (and the Palestinians) whether superior air power alone is sufficient to destroy a terror network.
The war that Obama is asking Americans to endorse is exactly the kind most prone to “mission creep”–and, it must be said while wishing fervently otherwise, to failure. It is true that sending troops to fight in Iraq might, as David Frum points out, have some unpleasant strategic consequences. But if we accept that we cannot avoid this conflict, our task is to wrestle with those strategic problems in advance, not to attempt to win half a war.
There are a lot of fancy, high-tech prosthetics out there. Some can read electrical signals from the nerves and muscles of the remaining tissue, while others even interface with the brain to read a person’s intentions when she, say, wants to reach for a chocolate bar. There are also computerized exoskeletons that can turn a quadriplegic into a soccer player.
Those concepts are super cool, but they’re also super futuristic. As in, they probably won’t be available to regular people for a few decades. For now, the most common leg prosthetic is essentially a peg leg with a simple cup-shaped socket placed over the stump (or “residual limb,” if you want to get technical). Those types of limbs tend to be uncomfortable; they cause chafing and alter the biomechanics of walking in ways that put strain on the back and other body parts.
A group of researchers at University College London has developed what may turn out to be a better idea. In a clinical trial that just wrapped, they implanted 20 amputees with prosthetics that interface directly with the patient’s skeleton. Voilà, the chafing disappears, and patients get a lot more tactile feedback than regular prosthetics.
“[M]y ability to know where [my foot] is improved dramatically because you can feel it through the bone,” Mike O’Leary, an above-the-knee amputee who participated in the trial, told the Guardian. “A textured road crossing, I can feel that. You essentially had no sensation with a socket and with Itap you can feel everything.” (“Itap” is the name of the prosthetic, standing for Intraosseous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis.)
What’s really neat is how the researchers prevent infections from developing between the metal and the flesh. The prosthetic limbs are modeled after deer antlers, which have porous bone beneath their surface; the pores help soft tissue invade the bone and seal off the interface between skin and bone, so dirt and bacteria can’t get in. Itap uses a similar porous design in the area where the skin and prosthetic meet, allowing soft tissue to invade the metal.
If the data from the trial looks good, the limb could be deployed soon in specialist clinics across the U.K., and hopefully the U.S.
“We didn’t see this coming,” one former member of Mr. Obama’s national security team said this summer, “and there’s a lot of debate about how to counter it.”
In vowing in Estonia on Wednesday to defend vulnerable NATO nations from Russia “for as long as necessary,” President Obama has now committed the United States to three major projections of its power: a “pivot” to Asia, a more muscular presence in Europe and a new battle against Islamic extremists that seems very likely to accelerate.
American officials acknowledge that these three commitments are bound to upend Mr. Obama’s plans for shrinking the Pentagon’s budget before he leaves office in 2017. They also challenge a crucial doctrine of his first term: that a reliance on high technology and minimal use of a “light footprint” of military forces can deter ambitious powers and counter terrorists. And the commitments may well reverse one of the critical tenets of his two presidential campaigns, that the money once spent in Iraq and Afghanistan would be turned to “nation-building at home.”
In facing the more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, he must find a way to confront a different kind of terrorist group, one determined to use the most brutal techniques to take territory that the backwash from the Arab Spring has now put up for grabs. The American bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq does not approach the costs of invading and occupying that country, but Pentagon officials say the weapons, fuel and other expenses of taking on the Islamic extremists are running up bills of about $225 million a month, a figure that will rise if Mr. Obama has to take that fight into Syria.
ISIS “is not invincible,” Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a talk at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, and ISIS does not yet pose the kind of direct threat to the United States that Al Qaeda did before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But it is “brutal and lethal,” he said, and defeating it will require a long-term commitment of a kind Mr. Obama clearly did not anticipate earlier this year.
Despite comments to the contrary by the White House spokesman, we are at war with ISIS and they are a real and sophisticated threat. The intentions of the Islamic State have been made crystal clear: kill the infidel and establish the caliphate by any means necessary. The escalations in just the last few weeks, specifically the beheadings, have awakened many to the dangers of the Islamic State, but is has also caught the President flat footed on the back nine.
ISIS isn’t Al Qaeda. ISIS has a different infrastructure and aims. The gains made in land and treasure set ISIS apart from Al Qaeda and should give everyone pause. In an article yesterday at Foreign Policy, two authors reported on a ISIS laptop found in Syria with instructions for making a chemical weapon on it and noted that ISIS may have access to the facilities to take this next step, which long eluded Al Qaeda.
Despite all of this, along with members of Congress, the intelligence community, and a few Generals, raising the alarm, this President and his Administration have no real strategy to address the threat of ISIS. Our aimless foreign policy, directed from the golf course by President Obama, has impacted the world. Just not in any positive fashion.
At the very least we should acknowledge that we are at war, clearly state who the enemy is, even if that enemy is an extremist ideology, and prepare the people of the nation to be on guard.
Right after this next round of golf, of course.
The Defense Department violated the law when it didn’t tell Congress before transferring five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar in return for the Taliban’s release of captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Government Accountability Office said in a legal decision made public Thursday.
Pentagon officials “did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” as required by law, GAO General Counsel Susan A. Poling said in a letter to nine Republican senators who had sought the analysis.
What’s more, Poling said, “because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act,” which “prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”
The GAO ruling provides legal backing for the position that the administration flouted the notification requirement — a view held by most Republicans and more than a few Democrats. The GAO does not address other issues that many lawmakers have raised about the merits of the exchange.
The requirement for a 30-day notice of transfers is part of the fiscal 2014 defense authorization law ( PL 113-66 ). Moreover, the fiscal 2014 Defense appropriations act ( PL 113-76 ) prohibits spending on any transfers that do not comply with the authorization law’s requirements.
Defense Department lawyers told the GAO that they believe the transfers were lawful regardless of the notification requirement, but Poling said the GAO did not accept that argument.
Pentagon officials also told the GAO that the notification requirement is unconstitutional. They argued that it “would have interfered with the Executive’s performance of two related functions that the Constitution assigns to the President: protecting the lives of Americans abroad and protecting U.S. service members.”
The GAO did not assess the validity of that claim.
“As I sit here constantly hearing and watching you execute innocent men, women and children in the Middle East I chuckle. Why do I chuckle you may ask? Well let me explain something to you cowardice fools who think you are so tough behind all your propaganda videos. You are scaring a population that doesn’t know how to fight, you’re bullying the weak.
You say Islam is the religion of peace, but since when does terrorizing the innocent and beheading men, women and children constitute peace? WTF? But keep in mind, what did Saddam’s troops do when we came rolling into town? They surrendered, twice… So all your empty threats of coming to America and raising your flag over the White House amuse me more than any of you sick, sadistic bastards could ever imagine or comprehend.
In 2012 there was about 21.2 million veterans in the United States. Do you understand what that means? Let me break it down for you. That means there are literally millions of disgruntled, dysfunctional, pissed off veterans who have been dealing with years of abuse from their government stabbing them in the backs and having to watch their friends die because you Islamic extremist idiots can’t seem to act like normal human beings and stop terrorism and the violence.
It’s one thing to take over an Islamic state, but if my memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure we plowed through Fallujah in 4 days. Better yet, it took us about month to control your entire country. At this point, with 13+ years of war under our belts, how long do you think it would take us to do it all over again? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one. Do you really think you stand a chance on US soil? Do you really think it would be smart to poke that bear? Remember, never bite the hand that feeds you.
Remember we are armed to the teeth in the US and I can promise you this… the Geneva Conventions will not apply to you. You attack us and there will be no mercy. We will bring the righteous hand of God down upon you and crush you. The ball is in your court now ISIS. We are more than ready to arrange your so called “meeting” with your 72 virgins and send you to your “prophet” Mohamed.”
– Nick Powers
Don’t make us angry. You won’t like us when we’re angry…
We’ve been covering some of the more troubling details of police militarization across the US, and specifically what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri over the past couple of weeks. However, we knew fairly little about the actual military equipment being used there. And we know that sometimes scary looking military equipment isn’t necessarily so scary when put to use. So it’s interesting to read a former Marine’s analysis of the military equipment being used in Ferguson, which more or less confirms that it not only looks scary but absolutely is scary. Much of the discussion is about how all those “non-lethal” “riot control” weaponry is actually quite dangerous and potentially lethal. Here are a few examples:
There are scattered reports of stun grenade use in Ferguson. Also known as flashbangs or flash grenades, this weapon of choice for American SWAT teams (and Israeli soldiers) originated in the British special forces community more than four decades ago. Ostensibly less than lethal, stun grenades have been known to kill or severely injure numerous victims, and the device was recently in the news for burning a 19-month-old baby in Georgia, resulting in a coma, during one of the thousands of domestic police raids this year.
There’s a lot more in the article as well. But here’s the bit that really stood out for me. After posting a picture of militarized police moving down the street looking pretty scary, the former marine, Lyle Jeremy Rubin, explains how they’re more well armed than the actual military in Afghanistan:
What we’re seeing here is a gaggle of cops wearing more elite killing gear than your average squad leader leading a foot patrol through the most hostile sands or hills of Afghanistan. They are equipped with Kevlar helmets, assault-friendly gas masks, combat gloves and knee pads (all four of them), woodland Marine Pattern utility trousers, tactical body armor vests, about 120 to 180 rounds for each shooter, semiautomatic pistols attached to their thighs, disposable handcuff restraints hanging from their vests, close-quarter-battle receivers for their M4 carbine rifles and Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights. In other words, they’re itching for a fight. A big one. It’s a well-known horror that the US military greets foreign peoples in this fashion as our politicians preach freedom, democracy and peace. It’s an abomination that the police greet black communities in the States with the same trigger-happy posture. Especially on the occasion of an unarmed teen’s death by cop.