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an adoration of all things rad

May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:00 am

Where does all our military spending go?

Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history. With U.S. troops gone from Iraq and the withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about 1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands. This giant collection of bases receives remarkably little media attention, costs a fortune, and even when cost cutting is the subject du jour, it still seems to get a free ride.

(Source: azspot)

Reblogged from words of love and despair.

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Mar 26th, 2013 @ 8:00 am

Veterans Testify on Rapes and Scant Hope of Justice

The Pentagon estimates that roughly 19,000 service members are assaulted annually. A small fraction of the incidents are reported because most victims fear retaliation or ruined careers, and only about 10 percent of those cases go trial. One in three convicted military sex offenders remain in the service, something many policy makers want immediately corrected.

“The issue of sexual violence in the military is not new, and it has been allowed to go on in the shadows for far too long,” said SenatorKirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who convened the hearing as chairman of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee.

Ms. Gillibrand delivered a blistering attack on the military for its handling of sexual assault cases: “Congress would be derelict in its duty of oversight if we just shrugged our shoulders at these 19,000 sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and did nothing. We simply have to do better by them.”

*After watching The Invisible War it is clear this is a huge issue. 19,000 is a super low estimate. How is this not a bigger story?!?

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Mar 3rd, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

Pentagon Frets Billions in Sequester Cuts But Wastes $1.5 Trillion on Non-Working Fighter Jet

When it comes to sequester cuts, no member of the Obama administration has been more outspoken and pants-wetting that outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Here he is on a recent Sunday morning show:

"I have to tell you it is irresponsible for it to happen. I mean, why in God’s name would members of Congress, elected by the American people, take a step that would badly damage our national defense, but more importantly undermine the support for our men and women in uniform?…If Congress stands back and allows sequester to take place, I think it would really be a shameful and irresponsible act.”

courtesy de Rugy/Mercatus Centercourtesy de Rugy/Mercatus CenterBack in 2011,he wrote to Congress about that sequestration could under the worst-case scenario amount to “23 percent” of military spending, which is simply not true. The sequester cuts, should they happen, will at most knock a few tens of billions of dollars off this year’s base budget for Defense, bringing the total down below $500 billion.

After which point it will start rising again, despite a much-ballyhooed end to two wars that have been very expensive in terms of lives lost and treasure spent. As the nearby chart prepared by Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy shows, the sequester means cumulative defense spending through 2021 would total $4.8 trillion instead of $5.3 trillion. Even the U.S. government would sign off on whatever torture Panetta is using on basic math. 

And here’s a reminder: About half of the $85 billion sequester cuts will come from defense spending. But only about half of those spending cuts - $44 billion -will happen in fiscal year 2013. So we’re looking at an immediate cut in planned defense spending of something on the order of $20 billion. 

In any case, should the sequester cuts happen, they come after Defense’s base budget - which doesn’t include war spending, a variety of Homeland Security bits, and other supplemental expenditures - rose by 40 percent over the past decade or so, from $397 billion in 2001 to around $550 billion this year. Because military personnel is exempted from the sequester (as is war funding and a bunch of other stuff), there’s no reason to sweat our preparedness over such trims. And, as the Congressional Budget Office notes in its recent budget outlook document, militcourtesy National Review.courtesy National Review.ary outlays subject to budget cap limits are expected to increase from $518 billion in 2014 to $576 billion in 2021. Over the same time frame, total defense spending (which includes war spending), will jump 14 percent, rom $593 billion to $679 billion (all figures in current dollars; see Table 1-5).

Can we get a show of hands of people who would like to see their salary growth subect to such a “shameful” expansion?

*Putting the “cuts” in perspective of the F-35 just makes Congress and the DOD look like utter thieves.

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Jan 6th, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

NDAA Signed Into Law By Obama Despite Guantanamo Veto Threat, Indefinite Detention Provisions

President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 on Wednesday, despitehis own threatto veto it over prohibitions on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Civil liberties advocates had roundly criticized the bill over Guantanamo and a separate section that could allow the military to indefinitely detain American citizens on suspicions of supporting terrorism. Just as he did with last year’s version of the bill, however, Obama decided that the need to pass the NDAA, which also sets the armed forces’ $633 billion budget for the 2013 fiscal year, was simply “too great to ignore,” according to a presidential signing statement released in the early morning hours Thursday.

*Bullshit. 

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Oct 7th, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

Your Tax Dollars At War

*So damn expensive! And it will rise - it always does.

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Aug 12th, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

"Invisible" Wars?

World Politics Review has a feature section in this issue on the “invisibility” of contemporary US wars, fought through covert ops, drone strikes and cyber attack rather than on conventional battlespaces. The issue is a thought-provoking read: Thomas Barnett aims a verbal fusillade at Obama’s “one-night-stand” foreign policy; scalding expositions on the illegality and perverse side effects of drone strikes come from Michael Cohen and Micah Zenko, respectively; and Steven Metz confirms the new "invisibility" of US military strategy.

Naturally, my contribution unpacks the whole notion of “invisible” war, putting it into its socio-political context:

Much digital ink has been spilled over how cyber and unmanned technologies are changing the nature of war, allowing it to be fought more secretly, more subversively and with greater discretion. But the single biggest shift in the sociology of war in the past quarter-century has been not in the way it is fought, but in the relationship between its grim realities and the perceptions of those on the home front. Indeed, it is precisely the increasing visibility of ordinary warfare due to communications technology that is driving U.S. efforts to redefine the rules of engagement. And ironically, this is resulting in an unraveling of old normative understandings about how to achieve human security.

Check out the whole set of essays here.

*How can we claim to be a nation at war when the media and military actively work to hide the consequences of our actions? So many of our problems can start to be fixed through context and clarity.

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Jul 3rd, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

Two female Army reservists have filed suit in district court against combat restriction policies.

Command Sergeant Major Jane Baldwin and Colonel Ellen Haring, are filing suit on the basis that a combat exclusion policy based “solely on sex” violates their due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.

They state that: “This limitation on plaintiffs’ careers restricts their current and future earnings, their potential for promotion and advancement, and their future retirement benefits,” a limitation sometimes referred to as the “brass ceiling” for female service-members.

[MSNBC]

via thepoliticalnotebook

Reblogged from The Political Notebook.

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Jun 10th, 2012 @ 10:15 am

'The Invisible War' Trailer

A female soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan currently is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The number of assaults in the last decade is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.

This epidemic of rape within the U.S. military is exposed in The Invisible War, an “incendiary” new investigative documentary from Academy Award-nominated director Kirby Dick.

Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance, the film is in theaters June 22.

via afghamthalamtnafseemohandasgandhithedailywhat

[thedish]

*Hard to watch. But needs to be seen. The military needs way more attention/coverage. Especially now that we are in perpetual war. Most people seem to ignore all this.

(Source: thedailywhat)

Reblogged from Sabr, brown one.

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May 2nd, 2012 @ 9:02 am

Afghan War: What is the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement?
It’s a document with a pretty intimidating name, that’s for sure. Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early Wednesday local time seemed loaded with mystery — few knew he was there until he was actually there. He was there to sign a document that many watching the news had no idea existed until today. And the document itself is the definition of how a long-standing war will finally end, thirteen years after it started — at least as far as combat troops go. This document, just eight pages, was so important that the White House had to release a fact sheet to explain it to the average joe. What does it mean to you, anyway? Here are three things you should take from the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement:
one The U.S. government will continue to help the Afghan government train its security forces even after combat troops leave the country in 2014, with the goal of giving the entire region stability.
two The U.S. will continue to fund security and development efforts in the country, but not by default — the president has to ask Congress for a new round of funding each year.
three This effort goes both ways — Afghanistan is on the hook to improve the transparency and effectiveness of the government, while respecting the civil rights of its people. source
» So what’s the end date? The end of the document says this clearly: “It shall remain in force until the end of 2024.” (It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time this end date has been bandied about.) Which means, at that rate, the events around the Afghan War will be completely said and done 23 years after it started, though combat troops should be long gone. Hopefully.
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via shortformblog

Afghan War: What is the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement?

It’s a document with a pretty intimidating name, that’s for sure. Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early Wednesday local time seemed loaded with mystery — few knew he was there until he was actually there. He was there to sign a document that many watching the news had no idea existed until today. And the document itself is the definition of how a long-standing war will finally end, thirteen years after it started — at least as far as combat troops go. This document, just eight pages, was so important that the White House had to release a fact sheet to explain it to the average joe. What does it mean to you, anyway? Here are three things you should take from the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement:

» So what’s the end date? The end of the document says this clearly: “It shall remain in force until the end of 2024.” (It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time this end date has been bandied about.) Which means, at that rate, the events around the Afghan War will be completely said and done 23 years after it started, though combat troops should be long gone. Hopefully.

Follow ShortFormBlog: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook

via shortformblog

Reblogged from ShortFormBlog.

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Apr 25th, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

Drones for “Urban Warfare”

Manufacturers are targeting U.S. police forces for sales, as drones move from the Middle East to Main Street

*This is all heading is a scary direction.

In November 2010, a police lieutenant from Parma, Ohio, asked Vanguard Defense Industries if the Texas-based drone manufacturer could mount a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its ShadowHawk drone for U.S. law enforcement agencies. The answer was yes.

Last month, police officers from 10 public safety departments around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area gathered at an airfield in southern Maryland to view a demonstration of a camera-equipped aerial drone — first developed for military use — that flies at speeds up to 20 knots or hovers for as long as an hour.

And in late March, South Korean police and military flew a Canadian-designed drone as part of “advance security preparations” for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul where protesters clashed with police.

In short, the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America. And even though they’re moving from war zones to American markets, the language of combat and conflict remains an important part of their sales pitch — a fact that ought to concern citizens worried about the privacy implications of domestic drones.

“As part of the push to increase uses of civilian drones,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week, nearly 50 companies are developing some 150 different systems, ranging from miniature models to those with wingspans comparable to airliners.” Law enforcement and public safety agencies are a prime target of this industry, which some predict will have $6 billion in U.S. sales by 2016.

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