June 28, 2013

Obama’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan

President Obama announced a timetable for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan in a televised address to the nation on June 22, 2011. About 5,000 troops will pull out beginning in July and an additional 5,000 by the end of 2011. The rest of the troops ordered to Afghanistan by the Obama administration will return home before September 2012. As expected, criticism of this decision was swift and came from all areas of the political spectrum.


Obama's Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan

Some people said the withdrawal was too slow. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke for many when she said she wished the withdrawal “would happen sooner than the president laid out”. Others thought the withdrawal was too fast. Defense Secretary Gates and Sen. Lindsey Graham both felt that the withdrawal endangered the remaining troops and the gains that had been won at the cost of American lives.

The harshest criticism is perhaps the charge that this entire withdrawal is merely political theater and represents Obama’s opening act of the 2012 election. The President is certainly aware that the Taliban and Al Qaeda closely watched this speech along with the American people. Standard procedure during a war is to maintain secrecy about troop movements and only announce them publicly after their successful completion. President Obama was certainly warned of the risk of this public announcement but chose to make it anyway.

Some people believe that this can only be for political gain and that Obama can now campaign for his second term by saying that his troop surge worked and is so successful that he is bringing the troops home. He can appear to be a successful war time Commander-in-Chief as well as strong in foreign affairs. Critics also think that Obama is doing this so that he will also be able to say that he is working on reducing the budget deficit by slowing the expenditures in Afghanistan.

There is, however, a great risk to this publicly announced withdrawal. The Taliban have proven to be very good at surprise attacks in the past. They will easily determine which troops are to be withdrawn and can also attack those areas which are rendered vulnerable. If there is a significant increase in casualties because of the withdrawal before the election, President Obama will pay a very heavy political price at the election booths.

More press reactions to the withdrawal plan:

NY Times story about Obama’s withdrawal plan.

Washington Times

UK Guardian

Fox News

Atlantic Sentinel

What are your thoughts about Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan? That’s what matters most to us, so please let us know how you feel about it by posting a comment below.

Army Corps Engineers Tackle Missouri River Flooding

This May, heavy rains in Montana and North Dakota caused record flooding, which led to thousands of people evacuating, levees being breached in Nebraska and Missouri and a large amount of farmland being saturated. With high waters expect to last through August, officials and engineers are trying to find solutions. One of these solutions is that the US Army Corps of Engineers opened the spillway of the Garrison Dam, on the Missouri River.


Army Corps Engineers Tackle Missouri River Flooding

The Corps has also taken additional steps to address this issue of flooding. It has started draining its reservoirs in Missouri and sending the water downstream at a vastly increased rate. The Corps has also begun freeing up more storage capacity in its reservoirs for flood control, taking away space from things such as irrigation, hydropower and recreation.

Even with the aid of the dam and spillway, the flooding has had significant effects on the region. In Pick City, North Dakota, fishing boat tour revenue has been down due to the closure of all the boat ramps in the vicinity, because of high water. The water treatment plant in Blair, Nebraska, is also in danger due to the floods, which could affect the jobs of around 1,000 employees.

The Corps is looking towards other possible remedies to solve this problem. One possibility on the table is a $1 billion to $2 billion restoration bill aimed at fixing levees, floodways and river-navigation. There is also the potential of adding a new floodway that could be used as a relief valve in times of heavy flooding. The Corps is also re-examining a Congressional management plan from the 40s to see what they can learn about the effectiveness of that plan.

Corps engineers have faced animosity from citizens who feel that they should’ve handled the situation more efficiently. Some members of the public feel that the Corps should’ve been better prepared, and that they should’ve already made room in the Corps reservoirs in anticipation of spring flooding. Others feel that this amount of flooding was unprecedented and could not have been predicted.

Any future flood control efforts by the Corps are likely to be met with further criticism and potential lawsuits. As the states await a resolution to the continual problems of flooding, differing financial interests may cause divisions between them. There could be a possible face-off between the recreational industries of the Dakotas and Montana, and the shipping and agricultural industries of Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. Whichever side comes out on top, there are likely to be unsatisfied parties even after the flooding has been controlled.

Army Role in Killing Osama bin Laden

What role did the U.S. Army play in the mission to kill Osama bin Laden?


While no one will dispute that it was the U.S. Navy SEALs that did the killshot, specifically the mythical Navy SEAL Team Six, you can argue that the Army played a significant role in the mission to kill bin Laden.

See, it was the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as the ‘Night Stalkers’, that flew the helicopters in the mission.

President Obama met with the members of the 160th today to congratulate them on a job well done.

The Army helicopter pilots from the 160th, based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, flew 2 MH-47 Chinooks, known as heavy lifters in the mission, which has not been widely covered so far, in addition to two UH-60 Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopters.

One of the Blackhawks crashed on arrival due to an unknown mechanical failure and was destroyed by the departing team of special ops forces in order to not leave any of it behind.  A large section of the tail of the destroyed Blackhawk survived, and photos of it show a heavily modified version of the UH-60 Blackhawk tail – or possibly the tail of an altogether new and different helicopter which many speculate is a stealth Blackhawk, or a hybrid of a Blackhawk and a RAH-66 Comanche, a stealth helicopter project that was cancelled in 2004.

Stealth Blackhawk Helicopter

Army helicopter pilots play a crucial role in mission to kill Osama bin Laden. Stealth Blackhawk helicopter mockup next to UH-60 Blackhawk. Image credit: David Cencio @ cencio4.wordpress.com and Ugo Crisponi @ www.aviationgraphic.com.

Whatever the helicopter is, it is clear that it has been a secret until now – and provided an important factor in the success of this operation since it was able to allow our forces to slip in undetected.

Wait a second!  Everyone is talking about stealth Blackhawks, but there had to have been stealth MH-47 Chinooks in the mix, too!  You just don’t fly 2 stealth helicopters alongside 2 noisy ones…

Image Credits: David Cencio and Ugo Crisponi at Aviation Graphic.

Fort Bragg Baby Deaths Leave Unanswered Questions

It is shocking that 12 babies at Fort Bragg Army Base have died in 4 years, many were living in Army housing at the time of their death.
Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg Army Base in Fayetteville, NC

And most surprisingly, that this rate of death falls within the expected mortality rate of infants in the US.

Of deepest concern is that three of the babies lived in the very same house.  Something bad is going on!
They have definitely covered a wide spectrum of hypotheses, including environmental causes to medical reasons.
It is shocking that the Army at Fort Bragg are ready to close this case, with so many parents who are still without answers.
Why did their babies die?
What can they do to prevent it from happening to other families?

Read more about it:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/03/29/2180390/military-sure-housing-didnt-kill.html

Twelve Baby Deaths in Four Years Have Fort Bragg Parents Worried

Newspapers in North Carolina are reporting on the deaths of twelve babies in four years on the U.S. Army base Fort Bragg located in Fayetteville, NC. The Army conducted investigations that included hundreds of environmental tests of Army housing and to date sees no connection between Army housing and the infant deaths.
Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg Army Base in Fayetteville, NC

Still, Fort Bragg parents are worried.  Over the past four years, at different times, three of the babies who dies lived with their families in one townhouse at Fort Bragg.  This circumstance prompted the Army to conduct an investigation into possible environmental toxins, including the drywall used in the home.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC, investigated the housing and determined in its final report that there was no environmental cause in the home to account for the tragedies.
The townhouse that was home to three of the families with babies that died currently remains empty.
Often when infants die of unexplained causes, their death is attributed to SIDS, of which all parents should be informed.  SIDS info at NIH.  SIDS Wikipedia Entry.

Read more, click here:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/03/27/2176549/drywall-sids-whats-killing-babies.html

Obama Authorizes Covert Operations in Libya. Will Army Special Forces Go?

Will Army Special Forces units be deployed in covert operations in Libya?  ABC News is reporting that Obama has authorized covert operations in Libya to support the anti-Ghadafi rebel opposition forces.

Will Army Special Forces be deployed to Libya?

Will Army Special Forces be deployed to Libya?

While this presidential authorization does not direct covert operations at this time, or for weapons or other arms to be supplied to the rebel forces, what this presidential authorization does is to provide the president with these options.

While Army Special Forces are engaged in missions around the globe, will they be deployed to Libya to aid the rebels?

If Special Forces unites are deployed to Libya, will they be there in advisory roles, or in a combat capacity?

Fort Bragg Howitzer Explodes and Injures 10

8 Marines and 2 Sailors were injured at Fort Bragg, army base in Fayetteville, NC, on Monday March 14 at 8pm during live fire artillery training exercises.

Fort Bragg Howitzer

All those injured are male and members of Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines.

The injuries were a result of lacerations and shrapnel wounds because the howitzer cannon they were using exploded.

The Army Times is reporting that the explosion was a M777A2 round that exploded while inside the howitzer.

An investigation into the incident is underway and the artillery training is in “check firing” status, which means that it has been suspended until firing can be safely resumed.