In a meeting with the heads of the five service branches in 2010, President Obama offered the leaders a choice: Support my efforts to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or resign.
In a video obtained by BuzzFeed via a Freedom of Information Act request, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp revealed that Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. “We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that’s private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn’t agree with it — if any of us didn’t agree with it — we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,” he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) blocked the release of the names of hospitals where 19 veterans died because of delays in medical screenings, leading to calls for transparency from news outlets and a bipartisan group of Capitol Hill lawmakers.
CNN reported in January that 19 veterans died as a result of delayed gastrointestinal cancer screenings, while another 63 were seriously injured. CNN obtained internal documents from the VA listing the number of “institutional disclosures of adverse events”—the bureaucratic phrase for a mistake that gravely harms or kills a patient.
However, the documents did not list the names of the hospitals and clinics where the deaths took place. When Altman asked VA for the names of the hospitals, he was told he would have to file a FOIA request. His subsequent FOIA request was denied.
To help close this knowledge gap, the IOM report recommends that the military “should develop and deploy a system that measures essential components of blast and characteristics of the exposure environment.” But that’s easier said than done, so let’s begin with a deceptively simple question: How much blast can the average soldier withstand?
If we asked the same a vehicle, developers could just blow up real trucks with real explosives to measure the effects. They could repetitively test a new design—a V-shaped hull, for example, that deflects the blast—until the armored beast survived.
Given that a ‘blow it up and measure the impact’ approach isn’t possible for testing on people, researchers have looked for other testing methods. Traditional concussions can be studied using automobile accident victims in hospitals, but the number of average citizens exposed to explosions is relatively low and doesn’t provide a large enough sample group for adequate research. The other problem is that before you can prevent the effects of blast-induced TBI you have to understand the mechanism by which blasts cause injury, and until recently scientists have not even been sure what instruments to use or which physical phenomenon was most relevant.
Here’s another item for the (long) list of spectacular waste in the Pentagon’s budget: a $2.7-billion intelligence program that’s supposed to help Army troops on the ground collect and use intelligence on enemy fighters. It sounds like a good idea, but the thing is, the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System doesn’t actually do that, according to report from Foreign Policy. The article cites an internal assessment of the DCGS’s effectiveness, long requested by Congress but kept under wraps by the Pentagon for eight months. Probably because they didn’t feel like talking about such a spectacular failure.
The existence of DCGS is hardly a secret. Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics — all the major defense contractors — were all involved in creating it, and it’s featured on the Army’s website as “an enterprise system that will replace the Army’s multiple intelligence ground processing systems currently in the field.” The Army even has promotional videos showing DCGS in action. But according to some troops, the DCGS is very difficult to use and too slow to be practical for the on-the-ground situations for which it was designed.
As well they should have…
For the first time in history, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has rejected a major Defense Department strategic review.
The defense report is required by law every four years. (Image via Defense Department)
The Department of Defense is legally required to submit the Quadrennial Defense Review to Congress every four years to provide long-range vision and planning for potential future conflicts.
“Unfortunately, the product the process produced this time has more to do with politics than policy and is of little value to decision makers. For that reason, I will require the department to rewrite and resubmit a compliant report,” House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a scathing statement after receiving the review Tuesday.
The truth hurts, doesn’t it, Washington Post…
President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”
That’s a nice thought, and we all know what he means. A country’s standing is no longer measured in throw-weight or battalions. The world is too interconnected to break into blocs. A small country that plugs into cyberspace can deliver more prosperity to its people (think Singapore or Estonia) than a giant with natural resources and standing armies.
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.
“The Ukrainians — and I think everybody — are shocked by the weakness of Obama’s statements,” Krauthammer began. “I find it rather staggering . . . What he’s saying is we’re not going to really do anything, and we’re telling the world.”
Jonah Goldberg said that Obama’s reluctance to take a hard line against Putin’s actions in Ukraine unsurprising. “When you listen to Barack Obama talk about this stuff, you get the sense that he as no — I’m sure he knows these things, but you get no sense that he very much cares . . . all of his foreign policy has been through the prism of domestic politics.”
Krauthammer agreed, claiming the international community is now unlikely to strongly condemn Russian aggression. “The world always waits for the signal,” he explained. “You could not have issued a more flaccid statement than what Obama did. Why did he issue it at all? He should’ve just stayed at the White House and gone off and had his happy hour with the Democrats.”
A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country.
Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.
The revelation comes as reports suggest the Kremlin was moving up to 2,000 troops across the Black Sea from Novorossiysk to their fleet base at Sevastopol.
Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.
Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.
“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.
“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”