Tag Archives: Defense Department

Defense Department Saves Pennies On Disabled

Veteran groups are up in arms over a recent memo` from the Defense Department which makes it harder for members of the military who are injured while serving their country to deal with the financial aspects of leaving the armed forces. Congress specifically stated that anyone, regardless of whether they served directly in a combat zone or was injured while training to fight, did not have to pay back any portion of their severance pay before becoming eligible for Veterans Administration disability compensation. In disregard for the intent of Congress, David Chu, of the Defense Department, interpreted the law as only applying to those who were in a combat zone. The result of this memo is that many who were disabled while serving their country are faced with the prospect of paying thousands of dollars they probably do not possess.

This is merely one more example of the petty manner in which the current Bush administration deals with needs of those who serve. The total amount saved in a $650 billion Defense Department budget is minor, but still the Pentagon went ahead with its policy. A soldier who is training for combat and crashes a helicopter resulting in disability is not considered eligible under Defense Department guidelines. Congress intends to make certain they will be.

Bush Plans To Politicize JAG Promotions Blocked!

An attempt within the Pentagon to gain control over promotion of military judge advocates general lawyers has run into a furious roadblock in Congress with Republicans joining with Democratic members to halt this latest effort by the Bush administration to ensure military personnel do as ordered. Under the proposed plan, military promotions of members of JAG would have to be “coordinated” with civilian counsels working in the Pentagon. For promotion to flag and general officer rank, there would have to be consultation with the Defense Department general counsel. Republican Rep. Steve Byer commented “this is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard come out of the DoD general counsel. It is dead on arrival. If they enact the policy, and it appears they can, I promise we will stop it.”

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice said the proposal was an attempt to stifle military lawyers who have criticized Bush administration policies on torture and the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who once served as a military lawyer feared it would make military lawyers “looking over their shoulders” when engaged in the process of defending their clients. There is no question this end run of Bush has been halted at the beginning but it again demonstrates the president’s lack of understanding regarding the rights of those who disagree with his views on policy.

US Military Plans Greater Control Over Security Firms

Under a new agreement between the Pentagon and the State department, the military would have more control over Blackwater and other private security contractors working in Iraq. Under the new accord there will be more stringent supervision over coordinating movement of the civilian security convoys and the reporting and investigation of any incident they’re involved in, as well as they question when they are allowed to use force. US military commanders in the field have been complaining they frequently they do not know security firms are even moving convoys through their areas of operation, and are then shocked to learn of some incident which might impair their working relations with the people of Iraq. The new agreement came about after Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Rice got together to iron out differences.

This agreement will assist in ensuring some type of monitoring of the private security firms given their irresponsible behavior in firing quickly and without accuracy. Hopefully, there will also be provisions that make certain any member of a security firm who injures or kills an Iraqi will stand trial.