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Archive for the ‘Troops’ Category

by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, Dec 7, 2010

America’s heroes?  Not so much.  Not anymore.  Not when they’re dead, anyway.

Remember as the invasion of Iraq was about to begin, when the Bush administration decided to seriously enforce a Pentagon ban, in existence since the first Gulf War, on media coverage and images of the American dead arriving home at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware?  In fact, the Bush-era ban did more than that.  As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote then, it “ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”

For those whose lives were formed in the crucible of the Vietnam years, including the civilian and military leadership of the Bush era, the dead, whether ours or the enemy’s, were seen as a potential minefield when it came to antiwar opposition or simply the loss of public support in the opinion polls.  Admittedly, many of the so-called lessons of the Vietnam War were often based on half-truths or pure mythology, but they were no less powerful or influential for that.

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Soldiers face charges over secret ‘kill team’ which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian/UK,  Sep 9, 2010

Stryker soldiers who allegedly plotted to kill Afghan civilians.
Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges. Photograph: Public Domain
Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army’s criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to “toss a grenade at someone and kill them”.

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Twenty-one American troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Friday in one of the bloodiest periods of the summer.

By Ben Farmer, in Kabul, Telegraph co.uk, August 31, 2010

Afghanistan bomb attacks kill twenty-one US soldiers in 48 hours

A U.S. army medic runs to the scene of a road side bomb explosion in Kandahar province Photo: REUTERS

A series of bomb attacks have badly hit US troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan in the past 48 hours.

The death toll among in the Nato-led coalition has reached 484 this year and is predicted to far surpass 2009’s total of 521.

Deaths have risen consistently each year since 2001. Afghan police and civilians have suffered far higher casualties.

The coalition blames the rise in troop deaths partly on the influx of reinforcements, which is allowing commanders to target previously untouched insurgent safe havens where rebels are mounting stiff resistance.

Gen David Petraeus, senior US and Nato commander in the country, warned last week fighting would “get harder before it gets easier”.

In two of the most deadly recent incidents, three Americans died in eastern Afghanistan on one bomb attack on Tuesday. Five died in a single bomb attack in the south on Monday.

Military spokesmen would not say if the bombs hit vehicles or foot patrols.

Homemade bombs using old shells or homemade explosives and hidden in roads, tracks, walls, streams and buildings have become the Taliban’s favoured weapon.

Their use has sparked an arms race with foreign troops evolving tactics, or relying on more heavily armed vehicles and mine detectors to try and avoid them.

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Biden Visits Iraq To Mark Formal End To U.S. Combat

LARA JAKES and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA | 08/30/10 11:22 AM | AP

BAGHDAD — Vice President Joe Biden returned to Iraq Monday to mark this week’s formal end to U.S. combat operations and push the country’s leaders to end a six-month postelection stalemate blocking formation of a new government.

Wednesday’s ceremony will signal a shift toward a greater U.S. diplomatic role as the military mission dwindles seven years after the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Underscoring the shift, officials said Biden will make a new appeal to Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to end the political deadlock and seat a new government. March 7 parliamentary elections left Iraq without a clear winner, and insurgents have exploited the uncertainty to hammer Iraqi security forces in near-daily attacks.

Biden and al-Maliki will meet Tuesday morning “to discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press.

It was the vice president’s sixth trip to Iraq since he was elected and, officially, he came to preside over a military change-of-command ceremony. On Wednesday, Gen. Ray Odierno ends more than five years in Iraq and hands over the reins as commander of U.S. forces here to Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin. Austin also has served extensively in Iraq, most recently as commander of troop operations in 2008-09.

But the Sept. 1 ceremony also marks the start of the so-called “Operation New Dawn” – symbolizing the beginning of the end of the American military’s mission in Iraq since invading in March 2003.

Just under 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq – down from a peak of nearly 170,000 at the height of the 2007 military surge that is credited with turning the tide in Iraq as it teetered on the brink of civil war. Additionally, U.S. troops no longer will be allowed to go on combat missions unless requested and accompanied by Iraqi forces.

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by Robert Jensen, CommonDreams.org, August 23, 2010

When the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division rolled out of Iraq last week, the colonel commanding the brigade told a reporter that his soldiers were “leaving as heroes.”

While we can understand the pride of professional soldiers and the emotion behind that statement, it’s time for Americans — military and civilian — to face a difficult reality: In seven years of the deceptively named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and nine years of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan, no member of the U.S. has been a hero.

This is not an attack on soldiers, sailors, and Marines. Military personnel may act heroically in specific situations, showing courage and compassion, but for them to be heroes in the truest sense they must be engaged in a legal and morally justifiable conflict. That is not the case with the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq or Afghanistan, and the social pressure on us to use the language of heroism — or risk being labeled callous or traitors — undermines our ability to evaluate the politics and ethics of wars in a historical framework.

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By Badri Raina, ZNet, August 13, 2010

“Kashmir may be conquered by the force of spiritual merit but not by the force of soldiers.”

—–(Kalhana Pandit)

So total has been the loss of hegemony of Kashmir’s elected representatives, in government and in the legislature, over the last two months, and so desperately brutal the recourse to coercive subjugation of fearless young anger on the streets of the valley, that if ever there was a time to say resistance to authority (sic) deserves to be rewarded with what it seeks, it has been now. If the prospect, that is, of the secession of the valley—since other parts of the state of Jammu & Kashmir desire, contrarily, not secession but more complete integration with the Union of India– were not fraught with incalculable negative consequences not just for India and Pakistan, but for the inhabitants of the valley itself.

To that I shall return.

Just the other day, the Home Minister of India made two significant averments in parliament. One that the Union recognizes that the Accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir was a “unique one”; and, two, that, apart of all other things, the Republic and its successive governments had failed to keep promises made to the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

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down to the last trillion in red ink

By Paul Craig Roberts, VDARE.com, July 26, 2010

The White House is screaming like a stuck pig. WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghan War Documents “puts the lives of our soldiers and our coalition partners at risk.”

What nonsense. Obama’s war puts the lives of American soldiers at risk, and the craven puppet state behavior of “our partners” in serving as US mercenaries is what puts their troops at risk.

Keep in mind that it was someone in the US military that leaked the documents to WikiLeaks.  This means that there is a spark of rebellion within the Empire itself.

And rightly so.  The leaked documents show that the US has committed numerous war crimes and that the US government and military have lied through their teeth in order to cover up the failure of their policies. These are the revelations that Washington wants to keep secret.

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