Tag Archives: Military

Secretary Of Defense Admits Families Face Stress

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted families of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are encountering serious stress. He also recognized stress on military men and women impacted families back home and had many personal ramifications within family members. “We obviously want to stop all kinds of violence among our soldiers and their families.” There is increasing fear stress has led to serious crimes and even death. An important factor is the extent of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and ways in which the military can assist members of the service to come forth and admit they are experiencing stress.

Perhaps, the greatest stress facing those in combat is being sent back and forth from combat to home and back to combat. This creates uncertainty and confusion within a family and adds the element of uncertainty to the lives of people.

Supreme Court May Ask And Then Tell About Gays

There is growing possibility the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy pertaining to the rights of gays to remain in the service may be headed to the Supreme Court. During the past few months courts have, essentially, ruled both ways on the issue. On June 10th, the 1st Circuit Court in Boston basically ruled the current policy was legal. Judge Jeffrey Howard speaking for the majority said: “Although the wisdom behind the statute at issue here may be questioned by some, in light of the special deference we grant congressional decision-=making in this area, we conclude that the challenges must be dismissed.” However, in late may, teh 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco, reinstated a lawsuit filed by a former Air Force m ajor after she was told she would be discharged for homosexual activity. This decision essentially denied the military power to discharge people based on their sexual orientation.

Although the 1st Circuit Court sided with the military, it urged the policy should receive “tougher judicial scrutiny” because the policy discriminates against a particular group. Given the conflicting decisions, either gays can take their desire for equity to the Supreme Court or the military can ask the court to support its right to decide military policy.

Ironically, there is growing concern within the military concerning the wisdom of the policy including a recent report by retired officers who said changes were needed to allow gays to serve. Retired General John Shalikashvili, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came out for repeal of the gay policy. It is time to either abandon the policy or get the Supreme Court to render its verdict on it.

Swedish Military Defends Surveillance Law

The head of Sweden’s armed forces entered the debate dealing with passage of a new law which allows the National Defense Radio Establishment to monitor all incoming and out going calls entering or leaving Sweden. Supreme Commander Haken Syren was upset at comments made in parliament during debate over the law and termed them “unfortunate” He admitted there was a gap between the need for intelligence and the rights of privacy and, naturally, came out on the side of the military. “When we face an opponent we ned to know its capabilities and capacity. Intercepting communications is one means for us to ensure we can take reasonable risks.”

We certainly would not advocate weakening of the Swedish military against its “opponents” but are somewhat confused since, as far as we know, Sweden hasn’t been at war in over a hundred years. Exactly, who are those “opponents” the Supreme Leader wants to know about? Who is planning what in Sweden? Perhaps, the Supreme Commander might get his officers together to figure out exactly who is the opponent they are fighting.

Pakistan Army Promises Neutrality In Politcs

Pakstan Chief of Army Staff(COAS), General Ashfaq Kayani, affirmed the military’s commitment to be neutral in current disputes in his nation. He emphasized “any kind of schism, at any level, under the circumstances would not be in the larger interest of the nation” and hoped political parties and the armed forces can respect one another. He insisted the “army stands behind the democratic process and is committed to play its constitutional role in support of the elected government.” Kayani also wanted to make clear the army was not distancing itself from President Musharraf, but simply staying clear of any involvment in the political processes which now are underway in Pakistan. This is a healthy sign for democracy in Pakistan since in the past the armed forces have too frequently interjected themselves and thus halted development of the political process.

In the meantime a crowd of 2,000 lawyers marched through the streets of the capital demanding all political parties agree to the restoration of judges who were removed from office by President Musharraf. Along the way, they halted to express anger at publication of Danish cartoons and the soon to appear Dutch film that allegedly is against the Koran. There is something ironic about lawyers expressing anger at free expression while they are marching to protest free expression of views by judges.

Soldiers From Minorities In Britain Urged

A report from the Defence Select Committee of Parliament strongly suggested the importance of extending recruitment efforts in Great Britain in order to bring members of min ority groups into the armed forces. The committee noted: “We are deeply concerned that the armed forces are operating at or above levels of concurrent operations they are resourced and structured to deliver for seven out of the last eight years.” In other words, the British miltary is being asked to accomplish tasks that strain their resources and morale among members of the military is decreasing under the strain.

The British government has concluded that when it ventures into tasks that far exceed the capacity of those coming from majority groups within society, the solution is to reach out to minorities and have them fill the gap. The goal has been to have an 8% recruitment level from minorities in Great Britain but only 5.8% are from this group and the Air Force only has 1.6% from minority groups. Perhaps, the solution is to not get involved in military operations in the first place.

US-China Hotline To Prevent Mistakes!

The United States and China have finally agreed to establish a hotline between their respective defense ministries in order to afford instant communication in case of an emergency. The creation of this hotline has long been needed given the potential for serious consequences in case of misinformation being the source of military action. There is already increasing concern within the American military over the rapid expansion of Chinese military forces. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has consistently indicated that he does not fear any growth of Chinese military forces, but, there is always the possibility an erratic officer might think differently.

Who Was Behind Attack On Benazir Bhutto In Pakistan?

Ahmed Rashid, writing from Pakistan told Der Spiegel there were rumors circulating concerning who was behind the bombings at Benazir Bhutto’s return which left at least 120 dead. Although, she was told by the nation’s security there was a risk of violence if she had an open parade, Bhutto insisted on showing herself to adoring crowds. “She had to show the whole country that she had many supporters and followers,” says Rashid. She was also sending a message to President Musharraf that she had greater popularity among the masses of Pakistanis. Rashid says it is unclear who was behind the bombings, but “there is speculation that the attack was not carried out by Islamists, but by certain groups within the regime who don’t want Bhutto in the country.” Although over 20,000 soldiers were sent to protect the parade, many of them came from the provinces where there is intense dislike of Bhutto.

The bombings undoubtedly will impact the election process. Many people will avoid attending political events fearing their lives might be endangered. This means less open political discussion in Pakistan. An outside observer might raise a simple question: who benefits by lack of political discussion? President Musharraf is not the most popular person to many Pakistanis and he most probably benefits by reducing opportunities for open and frank discussion.

John McCain: More Troops, Stay The Course

In an interview with the Army Times, Senator John McCain said, if elected president, he would expand the size of the Army and Marine Corps. “One of the major failures of the Rumsfeld era is that we didn’t expand the Army and Marine Corps.” He appeared to attribute problem in ending violence in Iraq due to lack of sufficient troops on the ground. The senator discussed strains imposed on members of the military and their families by shortened deployment after serving in Iraq. McCain believes increasing the size of our military “is something we should have done long ago. We are going to be in Afghanistan a long time, and I don’t know what other conflict might break out.” During the interview, McCain at one point indicated his belief troops could have longer deployment time in America, but also said, “i would do whatever is necessary to succeed,” even if it required shorter deployment time at home.

Senator McCain’s comments reflect his duality of feeling. On one hand, he blames the “Rumsfeld era” for military problems, but, on the other hand, refuses to cast blame on George Bush who supposedly was in charge of our government and supported Rumsfeld’s actions. McCain has certainly been an advocate of more troops in Iraq, but his failure to focus on political issues, indicates he still believes Iraq is a military rather than a political problem. There is little evidence, Senator McCain has a grasp of Middle East complexities other than thinking sending more troops will solve all problems. One is left wondering after reading his interview what are the “other conflicts” he anticipates will emerge that require sending American forces.

Senator McCain Attacks President Bush For Failing At Leadership

Senator John McCain of Arizona unleashed a blasting critique of President Bush’s failure at leadership in the aftermath of 9/11. The senator said: “I believe that the big mistake that our leadership of our nation made after 9/11 is we told people to go shopping and we told them to take a trip.” McCain said Bush should have called upon the American people to join the military and take an active role in fighting terrorism in the world. He is confident thousands would have responded to a call to act in a patriotic manner. McCain was also critical of Hillary Clinton for voting to attack Iraq and now changing her mind.

It is ironic that McCain is now saying the American people after 9/11 should have been asked to sacrifice for their country. Senator McCain voted for the Bush tax cuts that benefited wealthy people in this nation and it is difficult to recall a single bill introduced by the senator from Arizona which required sacrifice on the part of Americans. He loyally voted for war in Iraq, he loyally supported every Bush action, and now McCain is claiming mistakes were made in leadership. It took McCain four years to change his mind about Bush’s leadership capacities, but now he is upset that Senator Hillary Clinton changed her mind about the war in Iraq. Senator McCain, if you can change your mind, so can everyone else.

Turkish General Vows To Protect Secularism

Turkish Cheif of Staff General Yasar Buyukant told members of the War Academies Command that the armed forces are guardians of secularism in Turkey and will defend it against any attempt to make changes leading to Islamization of the nation. Prime Minister Erdogan assured the military his government is committed to those principles. “The government and Parliament are safeguards of the secular and democratic republic.”

Prime Minister Erdogan most probably is sincere in his desire to maintain secularism in Turkey, but he does not help to achieve those goals by having a new constitution drafted behind closed doors without any consultation by members of parties opposing his Justice and Development Party. His party only obtained 47% of the popular vote and it would be helpful if it reached out to secular political parties to obtain their assistance in drafting a new constitution. His words say one thing, but his behavior says something else.