Closing Thought–17Nov17

They are changing the requirements to get into the Army….it looks like mental illness is not a deterrent of military service anymore……

– People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy enacted in August, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.

The decision to open Army recruiting to those with mental health conditions comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018. To meet last year’s goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/12/army-lifts-ban-recruits-history-self-mutilation-other-mental-health-issues/853131001/

I question the logic that goes into this decision.  Is the Army hurting so bad that it has to lower its standards to enter?  Is this wise?  What about when the person leaves the Army and the problems that will have to be addressed once a civilian?

This is NOT the best idea they have come up with to increase the amount of people eligible to serve in the Army.

Anyone have a thought on this decision by the Army?

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We Sent Them To War

This is a lengthy post but PTSD is too important for it to be shortened….please read and understand…..for too long people have looked down on suffers….this is a disease that we have caused because of our countless wars and the task we ask our troops to do.

We as a country have no problem sending our young to war……it is when they return home and are in the grips of PTSD that we have NO idea what to do.

Perhaps only ancient Sparta claimed to support its military more than the United States. From the “soldiers get priority boarding” ritual that happens only in American airports, to elections where a decision not to serve is forever held against a candidate, there are daily reminders that “the troops” are a presence in our society like few others.

The desire to claim a piece of that presence leads to elaborate lies, known as “stolen valor.” People buy regulation uniforms and walk through society showing off medals, telling fake war stories, and accepting unearned thanks. They want the juice without having endured the squeeze. They are out there this Veteran’s Day, and they are to be loathed.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/we-sent-them-to-war-now-its-our-turn-to-pay/

We as a nation need to educate ourselves on PTSD and the whole nation can become part of the solution instead of part of the problem as it is now.

“PTSD is going to color everything you write,” came the warning from a stepmother of a Marine, a woman who keeps track of such things. That was in 2005, when post-traumatic stress disorder, a.k.a. PTSD, wasn’t getting much attention, but soon it was pretty much all anyone wrote about. Story upon story about the damage done to our guys in uniform — drinking, divorce, depression, destitution — a laundry list of miseries and victimhood. When it comes to veterans, it seems like the only response we can imagine is to feel sorry for them.

Victim is one of the two roles we allow our soldiers and veterans (the other is, of course, hero), but most don’t have PTSD, and this isn’t one of those stories.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/moral-injury-modern-war/

A personal story from a father whose son survived war but not PTSD…….

When my son Ricky was in sixth or seventh grade, I got a call from the principal’s office. They said I needed to pick him up because he was covered in mud and couldn’t return to class like that. I thought, Okay, that’s kind of weird. Ricky never got into trouble. Normally when you get a call like that your kid did something, but no, mine was just dirty. My brother picked him up (I couldn’t leave work at the time) and said the dirt was so caked on, Ricky had to ride home in the back of his truck. It had rained the day before and, as it turns out, my son had decided to roll down a hill behind the school. He wasn’t aiming for the mud puddle at the bottom but there it was. When I got home and asked why he would do such a thing, he replied, “Because it was funny.” I couldn’t fault him because it was funny. That’s the kind of person my son was before he deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army — he would do anything to make people laugh.

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a46862/veteran-ptsd-suicide/

Another first hand account about dealing with PTSD and the mental anguish that will accompany the disease……

I don’t go out to parties very much anymore. I can’t remember the last time I was at a party where there was lots of alcohol or drugs, because I know for a fact using either of them would be bad for me. Not because they are illegal, necessarily, but because it wouldn’t be good for me. They would put me in a bad place.

I was never medicated for post-traumatic stress disorder, but I did go through a lot of therapy. I still go back occasionally if I’m in a bad place.

I joined the US army in 2005 and served until 2012. I went from second lieutenant to first lieutenant and then from first lieutenant to captain.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/11/veteran-remnants-unnecessary-war-171111210101769.html

The more we know about PTSD the more we can help those in need as they reach out for our help….please help when you can….our vets deserve a country that is willing to help when they are in need.

A simple thank you is not enough.

Niger Update

Note:  This is a lot to read but please and you will get an idea of what is going on in Niger with our troops.

It has been weeks since the deaths of 4 special ops troopers in Niger……I have been calling for more info and now it looks like the Congress has jumped on that bandwagon…..

Key U.S. senators called Sunday for the White House to be more forthcoming about the country’s military involvement in Niger after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush there earlier this month.

In separate interviews on NBC’s “Meet the Press” news show, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senate leader Charles Schumer said they support an effort last week by Republican Senator John McCain to find out the details of the attack as well as the scope of the U.S. campaign against Islamic State in the west African country. Both Graham and Schumer said they had been unaware of the substantial number of the U.S. troops in Niger.

“I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Graham said. “This is an endless war without boundaries and no limitation on time and geography. You’ve got to tell us more.

“We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world militarily and what we’re doing,” Graham said. “So John McCain is going to try to create a new system to make sure that we can answer the question, why were we there, we’ll know how many soldiers are there, and if somebody gets killed there, that we won’t find out about it in the paper.

“I can say this to the families,” Graham said. “They were there to defend America. They were there to help allies. They were there to prevent another platform to attack America and our allies.”

Schumer said, “We need to look at this carefully. This is a brave new world. There are no set battle plans.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Graham and McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, last week that the military is shifting its counter-terrorism strategy to focus more on Africa. The defense chief said military leaders want to expand their ability to use force against suspected terrorists.

U.S. officials believe the Niger attack was launched by a local Islamic State affiliate, but the Pentagon is still investigating the circumstances of how it occurred.

(voa.com)

Another report has come about he death of La David Johnson…his death is an ever changing story…the newest rendition……

Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed after an ambush in Niger last month, was found with his hands tied after having apparently been executed by militants, villagers say. Tongo Tongo resident Adamou Boubacar tells the Washington Post that children found Johnson’s body two days after the ambush. He says the soldier’s hands were bound with rope and there was a gaping wound in the back of his head that could have been caused by a bullet. Boubacar, a farmer, says the body was found in a bushy area about a mile from the ambush site, which could explain why it took so long for it to be discovered, the New York Daily News reports.

Village chief Mounkaila Alassane says he contacted the Nigerien military after seeing the body, “The back of his head was a mess, as if they had hit him with something hard, like a hammer,” Alassane tells the Post. “They took his shoes. He was wearing only socks.” Military sources say they believe Johnson was kidnapped during a firefight with ISIS-linked militants. The bodies of the other three Americans killed were found in or near their team’s pickup truck, stripped of their uniforms, villagers say. The FBI has joined military investigators trying to determine how the US mission went so badly wrong. Officials in Niger say Alassane was arrested on suspicion of aiding the militants, but released due to a lack of evidence. (US officials say a morphed mission put the men in danger.)

In the past I never had much in common with Graham…..but in the last year I have found that he and I agree on a few things….especially when it comes to our troops that are fighting these wars….too many to keep track of…..

Time to come clean about the mission and the deaths of these 4 men……period.

The US is on a death march across Africa as it is……..

Tongo Tongo is in the middle of a belt that is ground zero for the illicit trade that defines the Sahara. West of Tongo Tongo is Gao (Mali) and to its east is Agadez (Niger). These are the main ports for South American cocaine, flown in on various kinds of aircraft (Air Cocaine, as they are called) and then driven across the Sahara Desert in trucks to be taken by small boats across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. Evidence of the cocaine trade is everywhere – whether in Gao’s neighborhood known as Cocaine Bougou or in the nickname of one of the leading chiefs in Agadez – Cherif Ould Abidine – known as Cherif or Mr. Cocaine.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-american-war-machine-is-already-on-the-death-march-across-the-african-continent/5617195

Drugs……go figure…….

There is more….there is always more ioof one digs deep enough…..

A recent report published in the Washington Post claims that the only African American soldier in the group of dead troops, Sgt. La David Johnson, had been kidnapped and killed execution style. Purportedly, people living in the area where Johnson’s body was discovered indicated that his hands were bound behind his back with a gaping wound in the rear of his head. (Nov. 10)

Other reports say that the Nigerien troops, who were ostensibly on a patrol mission with the AFRICOM forces, fled while the Green Berets stood and fought the alleged assailants. Who these “hostile elements” were has still not been clearly defined. What has been mentioned is that they are somehow affiliated with ISIS. (Guardian, Nov. 4)

https://www.globalresearch.ca/pentagon-explanations-for-niger-operations-cannot-conceal-strategic-interests/5618159

Niger is becoming as clouded as our Syrian mission or our Yemen mission….

Death In Mali

I recently wrote a post about eh death of a Green Beret at the hands of 2 SEALs in Mali.  Sadly to say there was not much outrage by my readers over this death….that worries me and shows just how little these wars mean to the average American….to them none of this means anything at all.  and that is truly sad….

I have been watching this development of the investigation into the death of an American at the hands of two other Americans….how sad…..

Logan Melgar hadn’t had a drink on June 4.

The Green Beret sergeant’s dry day became a key to unraveling the narrative spun by the elite Navy commandos whom military investigators now suspect killed him, officials familiar with the case said.

Melgar, a staff sergeant in the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group, was specifically selected for an intelligence operation in the West African nation of Mali. He was well respected by the American Embassy staff and the partner forces there, a former U.S. Africa Command official said. But shortly before he died, Melgar told his wife that he had a bad feeling about two of his partners in that effort, both of whom were members of SEAL Team Six.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/green-beret-discovered-seals-illicit-cash-then-he-was-killed

Americans killing Americans……not cool at all.

America’s (Dis) Regard for its Soldiers and Veterans

We have just celebrated Veterans Day…..a day when we hold our veterans in high regard……think about that statement for a moment……

We thank them for their service…..but do Americans really care?  Do we as a society really give a sh*t?  My thought is that we do or say these things because it is expected of us….not because we really care…..

I believe that if we had a shared experience our concern would be more real…..how real can the concern be when about 1% of the country actually experiences military service and the horrors of war?

I recently read an article on this subject in the American Conservative (yes, the old professor finds some worth in a conservative publication)…….

The American people and their leaders have been swooning for years over the boys and girls in uniform. Our national crush on the armed forces reflects in part symptoms of lingering collective post-9/11 traumatic stress syndrome. The al Qaeda attacks represented the deadliest terrorist strike in American history, and that incongruous bolt of death and destruction from the blue skies of an otherwise lovely fall day compounded our terror. Our armed forces rushed to protect us after the attack and then quickly visited righteous retribution on the perpetrators and their Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

In addition to our gratitude for the military’s protection after 9/11, the public’s affection for our military is reinforced by the fact that we now regard it as one of the few truly functional sectors of our society. In a recent Gallup poll, 73 percent of respondents demonstrated confidence in the armed forces, compared with only 41 percent for organized religion, 18 percent for big business, and 9 percent for Congress. Another polling organization finds that 78 percent of the public holds our soldiers’ contributions in high regard, above the share that feels the same of teachers (72 percent), doctors (66 percent), and even scientists (65 percent). Not surprisingly, Pew detects a general, if diffuse, sense of gratitude among the 91 percent of respondents who declare they are “proud” of the military.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/americas-dis-regard-for-its-veterans-soldiers/

Ask yourself if you regard for the soldiers and veterans is genuine or is just something that is expected of you…..

USAFRICOM: A Month Of Confusion

The USAFRICOM has a problem with transparency…..it does not report as it should…..

The October 4 ambush in Niger, which led to the deaths of four US special forces, has led to a flurry of inquiries, both on the specifics of the incident and reports of leaving behind troops, but also that the African Command appears not to have told anybody about the scope of US operations within Niger before that.

With a lot of questions still unanswered, the focus has grown increasingly on the shocking lack of transparency for US military operations in Africa. Yet Niger has also led to some interest in revisiting the details of another incident, the May 11 death of a US Navy SEAL in Somalia, the first such death in that country in decades.

In that case, the SEALs were skulking around on the outskirts of a remote Somali village, killing suspected al-Shabaab militants until one of them was spotted and killed. This resulted in several hours of fighting and ending in a hasty retreat by US forces, leaving behind a lot of evidence of the incident.

Indeed, AFRICOM wasn’t particularly forthcoming about what happened in Somalia, either, but villagers were able to retrace the steps of the US troops, using the footprints in the mud and rubbish left behind to offer the closest thing to a timeline for that incident that the public has ever, or likely will ever, see.

(antiwar.com)

There are serious problems within USAFRICOM….maybe the Commander-In-Chief could stay off Twitter awhile and get a grip on this situation.

After a month of conflicting stories there is still NO definitive answer as to what happened that caused the deaths of 4 special ops troopers.

The October 4 ambush along the Niger-Mali border left four US special forces killed, and revealed to the US public and Congress for the first time that some 1,000 US troops were on the ground in Niger. After a month has passed, what else have we learned?

Very little, as it turns out. Niger and the Pentagon continue to offer radically different versions of what happened on that day, as well as the circumstances in which the US troops were left behind in the evacuation, something US officials initially insisted couldn’t have happened.

Nigerien officials say this was an “operational mission,” but one in what was not considered enemy territory, intended to detain a suspected ISIS recruiter. Pentagon officials say none of that happened, and that there was absolutely no intention to kill or capture anybody.

What the Pentagon is saying happened continues to vary day to day, and sometimes hour to hour, but officials continue to insist that he “investigation” into the incident is ongoing, and that a final version will be released in a few weeks. Until then, anything the Pentagon says happened seems to be a wild guess, and subject to revision.

US officials are also saying the size of the deployment in Niger, which went from an unspecified number of US “trainers” to 1,000 combat troops without anyone being informed, is likely to grow further. Whether we’ll hear about that when it happens remains to be seen.

(antiwar.com)

Who’s fooling who?

AS an ex-combat vet I want to know what happened to these men….I get the feeling that there uis something not being told about their mission.  I realize that most of these missions are top secret but this one is done and they lost 4 good men…time for the truth to come out.

And now a new theory is being floated about eh death of Sgt. La David Johnson, remember him?   He is the one that Trump did all the childish Tweeting about.

The new theory he was kidnapped……

One of four American soldiers killed in Niger last month may have been kidnapped by ISIS-linked militants before he was executed, sources say. A village elder in northern Niger tells CBS that a battle raged for more than two hours after a group of Green Berets was ambushed by attackers on motorbikes. He says after the battle was over, he saw three American soldiers dead in a truck, stripped of their uniforms. The body of Sgt. La David Johnson, however, was not found for two days and military sources tell CBS that they believe he was taken prisoner by militant who later shot him and dumped the body around half a mile away from the battle site.

The military is investigating how the four soldiers became separated from their unit during the Oct.4 attack while seven other American troops were reportedly evacuated. Five Nigerien troops were also killed in the attack, though sources tell the Guardian that the Nigerian forces fled soon after the ambush, leaving the Americans to fight alone. The sources say the trapped American troops struggled to call in an attack from nearby French forces, who complained about bad weather and rough terrain.

The attack has been called a “massive intelligence failure.”

My thought is………YA THINK?

It appears that US troops have been fighting in Mali border region before the deadly attack in Niger….

The Pentagon’s attempt to settle on a narrative for what happened on the October 4 ambush in Niger, in which four US special forces troops were killed, is greatly complicated by the fact that Nigerien troops were present at the time, and their defense ministry is being more frank about what happened.

The Niger Defense Ministry reported over the weekend that the joint forces who were caught up in the ambush were actually engaged in tracking and fighting Islamist militants along the Mali border in the hours leading up to the attack.

This is dramatically different from every version of events offered by the Pentagon, which has insisted the US troops were on a purely non-combat mission, which is why they didn’t have armored vehicles or any plans to evacuate if trouble happened.

That doesn’t exactly make sense if the US forces were specifically out to attack Islamist fighters, and makes US claims they thought the operation was “low-risk” with little chance of enemy contact, if they specifically were out there looking for enemies to contact.

The Pentagon’s own version of events isn’t set in stone, which is a good thing since it’s seemingly full of untruths. Officials have downplayed the problems with their version by insisting that they’ll reconcile it when they finish their investigation into the incident

(antiwar.com)

The story about the attack changes almost daily….which leads me to believe that something is hinkey with the stories told.

Mission creep comes mind……especially in sub-Saharan Africa……Unz Reader , Libertarian lean journal takes a look at this occurrence….

The British Empire, which at the end of the 19th century ruled one quarter of the earth’s land surface, is long gone. But its robust successor and heir, the United States, has set about enlarging it.

As I sought to explain in my last book ‘American Raj – How the US Rules the Muslim World,’ the US imperium exerts its power by controlling tame, compliant regimes around the world and their economies. They are called ‘allies’ but, in fact, should be more accurately termed satrapies or vassal states. Many states are happy to be prosperous US vassals, others less so.

http://www.unz.com/emargolis/mission-creep-in-darkest-africa/

Mission creep is an understatement….there is a whole war being fought that we mere mortals know very little about……..

Six years ago, a deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Special Operations Command gave a conservative estimate of 116 missions being carried out at any one time by Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and other special operations forces across the globe.

Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time — in Africa alone. It’s the latest sign of the military’s quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent, one that represents the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe.

https://news.vice.com/story/the-u-s-is-waging-a-massive-shadow-war-in-africa-exclusive-documents-reveal

I have said before and continue to believe it….there is something rotten within USAFRICOM…..

Thoughts?

The Afghanistan Illusion

16 years and counting (and few seem to care)…..the number of years we have been at war in Afghanistan…..my granddaughter does not know a time when we were not at war…she 14 and she asks me why?  What can I tell a 14 year old that will help her make sense of this bullsh*t?

Sixteen years. It has now been over 16 years since the United States began military operations in Afghanistan. At the beginning of those operations, as I watched friends deploy to the initial fighting, I would have found the idea that I would deploy there at the beginning of a massive buildup of American troops in 2009, or that we would still be there in 2017, inconceivable. But like Vizzini, the evil mastermind and kidnapper from Princess Bride, I had a lot to learn about the meaning of “inconceivable.”

If repeated deployments to Afghanistan were inconceivable to me, the idea was entirely preposterous to my civilian friends. In 2009, many thought we were already done with Afghanistan, and despite a spike in interest commensurate with the surge of 2010–2012, by 2015 most had forgotten the war altogether. Rarely mentioned during the presidential campaign of 2016, it seemed like an unwritten political rule to avoid discussing the war altogether.

Source: It Seems Inconceivable That We’re Still Fighting In Afghanistan…And Yet Here We Are

I believe that it is an illusion….the whole story we get from the fearless leaders….but yet is goes on and on….without end….fighting and dying and more fighting…..

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It’s time to change our approach to Afghanistan.

Source: The Afghanistan Illusion | The National Interest Blog

Each new plan for success in Afghanistan resembles the plan before it….in other words they, our leaders, have NO earthy idea how to end this thing.

President Donald Trump announced that he is allowing the military to decide how to proceed in Afghanistan, including setting troop levels. Though I am convinced the President is trying to do what is best for the country (who better than the military leadership to determine what they need to succeed?), military power is a tool, a means among many different tools of national power, not a strategy in and of itself. Elevating military objectives over the assessment of the politically acceptable magnitude of effort for a given strategic political goal can be a slippery slope. The literature about escalation is filled with examples of cognitive biases that encourage leaders to continue throwing good money after bad.

Source: The President’s Decision For Afghanistan Matters | RealClearDefense

Like the post stated…..it is an illusion…..an illusion there is a plan.

GOOD PLAN!

But wait!  How long have we been fighting and dying in Afghanistan?  16 years the answer.

You know how everything is Obama’s fault with Trump and his minions?  Well he is not blamed for the debacle in Afghanistan……nope….we have a new culprit…..RUSSIA!

As Bill Poggioobserved in the foundation’s Long War Journal,

“The Taliban displayed their military power in the contested district of Bakwa in a newly released video titled From the Fronts of Farah. The video which was released on the Taliban’s propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, ‘is dedicated to . . . showcasing the strength, control and advances of the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate,’ according to an accompanying statement.”

Poggio concluded, more reasonably than I suggest in my opening sentence, that the trucks displayed in the Taliban video were “captured from Afghan Army and police units,” not ordered directly by the Afghan insurgents out of a Pentagon catalog.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/blaming-the-afghan-war-failure-on-russia/5616138

Russia did it!  Why not blame them for the US failure in Afghanistan….it is easier than admitting to the truth….that the US has NO idea how to end this war.