The American Bear


'It may be advisable to submit [rather] than resist,' reads the brochure (.pdf), issued to airmen at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, where nearly 10,000 military and civilian personnel are assigned. ‘You have to make this decision based on circumstances. Be especially careful if the attacker has a weapon.’ The brochure, acquired by Danger Room, issues a series of guidances on ‘risk reduction’ for sexual assault. Among others, it advises people under sexual attack in parking lots to ‘consider rolling underneath a nearby auto and scream loud. It is difficult to force anyone out from under a car.’ A public affairs officer at Shaw, Sgt. Alexandria Mosness, says she believes the brochure is current. While the brochure also explains that sexual assault is not always committed by people who ‘look like a rapist’ — attackers ‘tend to have hyper-masculine attitudes,’ it advises — it does not offer instruction to servicemembers on not committing sexual assault. Prevention is treated as the responsibility of potential victims.

Air Force Brochure Tells Sexual Assault Victims to ‘Submit’

and: Pentagon reports sharp rise in military sexual assaults in 2012

DOD’s Unmanned Drone Force - Facts and Figures


April 28, 2013

In testimony delivered to Congress last week by Dyke D. Weatherington, who is in charge of all unmanned drone programs at the Department of Defense, it was revealed:

* All DOD components currently possess 9,670 small drones (RQ-11 RAVEN, WASP, PUMA, and RQ-10 T-HAWK), 194 US Navy SCAN EAGLE maritime surveillance drones, 626 medium-sized drones (principally RQ-7 SHADOW), and 430 large unmanned drones (235 PREDATOR/GRAY EAGLE, 44 MQ-6 HUNTER, 18 MQ-8 FIRE SCOUT, 100 MQ-9 REAPER, and 34 GLOBAL HAWK). Total: more than 10,800 drones currently in the inventory.

* Except for the 9,670 small tactical drones, DOD’s remaining 1,200 large- and medium-sized drones flew a total of 550,000 flight hours in 2012, down from almost 700,000 flight hours in 2011. Drone flight hours are expected to increase slightly in this coming fiscal year (FY 2013).

* In the FY 2014 budget submission just given to Congress, the Pentagon is asking for more than $1.4 billion for drone-related research and development, and another $1.2 billion for drone procurement. Total: $2.6 billion just in this one single category.

* Significant drone buys this coming fiscal year: 12 MQ-9 REAPERs for the USAF, 15 GRAY EAGLE for the Army (this the Army’s version of the MQ-1 PREDATOR drone flown by the USAF), and 25 RQ-7 SHADOW for the Army and Marine Corps.

Pentagon cancels divisive Distinguished Warfare Medal for cyber ops, drone strikes | The Washington Post

The Pentagon was considering a medal for “soldiers” that experience combat through a video screen, never face any danger while “engaged” (excluding carpal tunnel), and shoot hellfires at - who knows - from thousands of miles away before going home to have dinner in a nice suburban home with their family. In other words, the greatest danger they face is their drive to and from work.

But those paying attention, rightly, called foul:

The special medal for the Pentagon’s drone operators and cyberwarriors didn’t last long.

Two months after the military rolled out the Distinguished Warfare Medal for troops who don’t set foot on the battlefield, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has concluded it was a bad idea. Some veterans and some lawmakers spoke out against the award, arguing that it was unfair to make the medal a higher honor than some issued for valor on the battlefield.

The controversy echoed a broader debate over defense policy, irking those who feel uneasy about the extent to which remote-controlled aircraft have become the tip of America’s spear in the war against extremists abroad.

After ordering a review of a policy that was one of his predecessor’s last official moves, Hagel said Monday that he concluded no such medal was needed. Instead, he said, a “device” will be affixed to existing medals to recognize those who fly and operate drones, whom he described as “critical to our military’s mission of safeguarding the nation.”

The VA is Severly Backlogged, and It May Be Costing Lives


Military veterans experience “excessive wait time” for medical care, leading to higher incidences of preventable hospitalizations and death, according to a scientific research council.

Drawing on the findings of recent government and scholarly studies, a report issued this week by the Institute of Medicine paints a picture of a healthcare system that is understaffed, undertrained, and inaccessible.

Read more on POGO’s blog.

Less gossip, more news please!


That Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has acknowledged sexual assault is vastly under-counted in official records is both a troubling reminder of how bad the situation has become, and a ray of hope that the administration is willing to have an honest discussion about the issue and work towards fixing it. But in the mean time, we are faced with statistics that add up to a bleak portrait of how alleged serial abusers have thrived in military communities. Most prominent is the case of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery (a violation of military law) and having inappropriate relationships with four female subordinates. The first hearing in his case was last Monday.

Wired says the Pentagon and the Army have gone to “surprising lengths” to keep his case quiet and it shows: It’s hardly a blip on the radar compared to the Petraeus scandal. Certainly, it’s easier to joke about the soap opera plot unfolding among leadership than it is to process the challenges facing women in uniform every day for merely being female. But at the core of the Petraeus scandal are people who  have spent significant portions of their lives deep in a culture with some very troubling norms about gender, and disturbing treatment of sexual violence.

Why We Should Hear More About Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair And Less About Paula Broadwell

from Think Progress by Andrea Peterson

(Source: wateringgoodseeds)

Hawaii: Head of the Tentacled Beast | Jon Letman

Fresh from hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu last autumn, U.S. President Barack Obama recently told members of the Australian Parliament that America’s defense posture across the Asia-Pacific would be “more broadly distributed…more flexible—with new capabilities to ensure that our forces can operate freely.”

The announcement of America’s “Asia-Pacific pivot” by its first Hawaiia-born president was highly fitting, since the Hawaiian Islands are at the piko (“navel” in Hawaiian) of this vast region.

A less flattering metaphor for Hawaii’s role in the Pacific is what Maui educator and native Hawaiian activist Kaleikoa Kaeo has called a giant octopus whose tentacles reach across the ocean clutching Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Jeju island, Guam—and, at times, the Philippines, American Samoa, Wake Island, Bikini Atoll, and Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The head of this beast is in Hawaii, which is home to U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), with sonar, radar, and optical tracking stations as its eyes and ears. Its brain consists of the supercomputers on Maui and the command center on Oahu that connects PACOM to distant bases. This octopus excretes waste as toxic land, polluted waters, abandoned poisons, blown-up and sunken ships, and depleted uranium (DU). Like a real octopus that can regenerate severed limbs, the military in the Pacific grows in new locations (Thailand, Australia) and returns to old ones (Philippines, Vietnam).

PACOM headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith on Oahu is a short drive from Waikiki Beach, but it’s unlikely many tourists pause to consider that tensions between the United States and Russia over missile defense, the war in Afghanistan, the destruction of Iraq, the use of drones in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and the Philippines—as well as growing opposition to military bases in Okinawa, Guam and Jeju—are all linked to Hawaii.

Thirty-six nations— and over half the world’s population—live in PACOM’s “Area of Responsibility” which spans from the Bering Strait to New Zealand, as far west as Pakistan and Siberia and east to the Galapagos. This behemoth’s self-proclaimed duty is to defend “the territory of the United States, its people, and its interests,” and to “enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific,” “promote security cooperation, encourage peaceful development, respond to contingencies, deter aggression and, when necessary, fight to win.” [continue]

The Army as a Concentration Camp | Corey Robin

Reading this terrific piece about James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity, I stumbled across this passage from Jones’s WWII, a nonfiction treatment of the Second World War:

Everything the civilian soldier learned and was taught from the moment of his induction was one more delicate stop along this path of the soldier evolving toward acceptance of his death. The idea that his death, under certain circumstances, is correct and right. The training, the discipline, the daily humiliations, the privileges of “brutish” sergeants, the living en masse like schools of fish, are all directed toward breaking down the sense of the sanctity of the physical person, and toward hardening the awareness that a soldier is the chattel (hopefully a proud chattel, but a chattel all the same) of the society he serves and was born a member of.

I don’t know how accurate a representation of military life Jones’s description is, but it sounds remarkably similar to Hannah Arendt’s account of the camps in The Origins of Totalitarianism.

Once the moral person has been killed, the one thing that still prevents men from being made into living corpses is the differentiation of the individual, his unique identity….

The methods of dealing with this uniqueness of the human person are numerous….They begin with the monstrous conditions in the transports to the camps, when hundreds of human beings are packed into a cattle-car stark naked, glued to each other, and shunted back and forth over the countryside for days on end….The aim of all these methods, in any case, is to manipulate the human body—with its infinite possibilities of suffering—in such a way as to make it destroy the human person as inexorably as do certain mental diseases of organic origin.

It is more significant that those individually condemned to death very seldom attempted to take one of their executioners with them, that there were scarcely any revolts….For to destroy individuality is to destroy spontaneity, man’s power to begin something new out of his own resources, something that cannot be explained on the basis of reactions to environment and events. Nothing then remains but ghastly marionettes with human faces, which all behave like the dog in Pavlov’s experiments, which all react with perfect reliability even when going to their own death….

Army general arrested on sex charges


An Army brigadier general has been charged with forcible sodomy and other offenses after being sent home from Afghanistan.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Wednesday that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts martial on charges that include forced sex, pornography, violating an order, alcohol use, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Sinclair was sent back to Fort Bragg this spring while serving as deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters in Afghanistan.

Fort Bragg spokesman Col. Kevin Arata confirmed that the charges were filed Wednesday morning.

Army officials have scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

(via randomactsofchaos)

Prior to departing for his tour in Iraq, Fogarty signed up with the Hammerskin Nation, ‘described by the Anti-Defamation League as the “the most violent and best-organised neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States”’. Although his girlfriend attempted to thwart his deployment by submitting - to his military superiors - photographs of Fogarty at neo-Nazi rallies and performances of his Nazi rock band, he quickly persevered in front of the military committee assigned to scrutinise the circumstances: ‘I just denied it and said my girlfriend was a spiteful bitch, which is true’. Belén Fernández, Neo-Nazis, gangs and criminals in the US military

Army's new PTSD guidelines fault Madigan's screening tests


The Army Surgeon General’s Office has issued new guidelines for diagnosing PTSD that criticize an approach once routinely used at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The policy, obtained by The Seattle Times, specifically discounts tests used to determine whether soldiers are faking symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It says that poor test results do not constitute malingering.

The written tests often were part of the Madigan screening process that overturned the PTSD diagnoses of more than 300 patients during the past five years.

Madigan medical-team members cited studies that said fabricated PTSD symptoms were a significant — and often undetected — phenomenon. They offered the tests as an objective way to help identity “PTSD simulators” among the patients under consideration for a medical retirement that offers a pension and other benefits.

The team’s approach once was called a “best practice” by Madigan leaders, including Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, a former commander who now serves as the Army’s surgeon general. But earlier this year, amid patient protests about overturned diagnoses, the team was shut down as the Army launched several investigations.

Though none of the Army findings have been publicly released, the April 10 “policy guidance” from the surgeon general charts new directions for PTSD screening at Madigan and elsewhere in the Army medical system.

PTSD is a condition that results from experiencing a traumatic event, such as a battlefield casualty. Symptoms can include recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, irritability and feeling distant from other people.

Some people recover from PTSD. For others, it may be a lifelong struggle.

The new policy downplays the frequency of soldiers faking symptoms to gain benefits, citing studies indicating it is rare. It also rejects the view a patient’s response to the hundreds of written test questions can determine if a soldier is faking symptoms for financial gain, and it declares that a poor test result “does not equate to malingering, which requires proof of intent… “

Read more.

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

"Bring Me Men" Author Aaron Belkin

Despite the fits and starts, isn’t the U.S. military becoming more representative of U.S. society?

Not really. The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” suggests that in terms of sexual orientation, the military does more fully reflect civilian society. But, the force still depends heavily on people of color and members of the lower and lower-middle classes, especially among enlisted personnel.

These demographic and ideological divergences are important for many reasons, including that when the military goes to war, suffering is not distributed equally, and the sons and daughters of Washington’s decision makers rarely see combat.

I wrote the book to apologize for the activist work that I had done to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ The repeal strategies that I pursued required me to glorify the military as well as American foreign policy more broadly. This, in turn, added to the ever-increasing militarization of American culture and politics. Yes, the military and the troops deserve our respect. But when respect turns into unthinking glorification, that’s dangerous. Bring Me Men is a critique of that process of adulation, and an apology for the ways in which I contributed to militarization in pursuit of repeal.

Aaron Belkin

Respect for the troops is important. But when respect turns into uncritical idealization, that can easily slip into a mode of thinking in which people assume that what’s good for the military is good for America.

Consider former Justice Sanda Day O’Connor’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 case in which retired military leaders urged the court to uphold the constitutionality of affirmative action. Justice O’Connor wrote that if affirmative action is a good idea for the military, it must be appropriate for the rest of the country.

I support affirmative action. But when this kind of militarist thinking permeates civilian society, it becomes that much harder to reduce the Pentagon’s budget and to resist decisions to go to war. And it all starts with uncritical glorification of the troops.