Kidnapping the Dead in Afghanistan?

There are many horrific videos easily found on the web showing the Taliban or al Qaeda brutally killing their foes. It’s televised terrorism, and we don’t post such gratuitous gruesomeness on Battleland. But this story, about the apparent desecration of a corpse earlier this week, passes muster. First, it doesn’t involve killing. …

Chart of the Day

In all the debate over the job-creating impacts of defense spending, thought this chart (from this 2009 report) would be illustrative. It reminds me of growing up in Rhode Island, where the dads who helped build submarines for Electric Boat always had bigger boats than everybody else.

GOP Debate Shows Freedom Fries are Long Gone

The GOP has been demonstrably hawkish for decades. Part of this is philosophical, but acting tough has also been reliable currency in the Republican Party for years.

It’s interesting what 10 years of war will do.

Politicians know which way the wind blows, and America is war-weary — ten-years-of-war weary. They are sick of the …

Figures Don’t Lie

House Republicans fear the prospect of incoming defense cuts, and they’ve just produced a video to argue against them. Fair enough. “What is our military going to do if we keep cutting them?” asks Rep. Howard McKeon, chairman of the armed services committee. Of course, while military platforms have been cut, the military budget

The Twilight of Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Stabilization

Reporting in Government Executive suggests that the days of US planning and intervention to straighten out other countries in the Arab world may, mercifully, be coming to a close.

In Iraq, it seems the government we helped install is reluctant to invite 14-18,000 American troops to remain, despite Gen. Allen’s apparent desire to do …

When the Pentagon Was New

World War II means two things to U.S. military veterans of a certain age: the building of the Pentagon, and LIFE magazine (TIME’s corporate sibling). Every week LIFE chronicled the war for millions of Americans. has just released never-before published photographs of the Department of Defense headquarters building under …

The Protected Principles of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

On my desk I have a proposed bill ensuring no troop is “pressured to approve of another person’s sexual conduct if that sexual conduct is contrary to the personal principles of the member” with respect to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

What I should do here is point out what is obviously upsetting about this …

Writing the Book on Military Mental Health

The literature of war can be literature — think Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage (Civil War), Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (World War I), or Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. And sometimes it’s less lit and more textbook. That’s surely the case with the …

“Did the U.S. Overreact to 9/11?”

It’s a fair question as the 10th anniversary of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon looms. After all, it was the most shocking macro-event most Americans alive have experienced. It changed our way of life, or at least our way of living. It also triggered two costly and continuing wars. If we did overreact, …

Mercenary Army (cont.)

So plans are floating around the Pentagon — with the apparent blessing of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — that call for a U.S. military force of only between 3,000 and 4,000 troops in Iraq starting next year. Under the existing deal with the Iraqi government — the one we helped install — all U.S. troops must be out by New Year’s …

Buttering Our Guns

In these tough economic times, just how much of a fiscal punch does defense spending provide? A couple of experts  weigh in with contrasting takes on an issue that will grow in importance as the nation weighs cuts in military spending.

Right Where We’ve Always Wanted Us

Philip Stephens of the Financial Times recently pens a rather pessimistic piece on what Libya said about “Britain’s pretensions of influence.” Noting that the “campaign has stretched the armed forces to their limit,” he calls it a “last hurrah.” Now, the underlying tone of the piece is his criticism of PM David Cameron’s desire to …

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