Iraq: Pentagon Is All Ears, But No One’s Asking

It has been striking to watch the U.S. beg for months for the Iraqi government to request that at least some U.S. troops stay in Iraq beyond the end of this year. That’s the deadline set in a pact between the two nations, and U.S. forces will be able to stay after December 31, 2011, only at the request of the Baghdad government. But …

“Counter-Insurgency versus Counter-Terrorism?”

Since President Obama announced his plan to begin pulling 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next summer, there’s been a lot of debate over whether this marks the end of a counter-insurgency campaign and the beginning of a counter-terror strategy. Is it really a binary choice — does it have to be one or the other  …

The Medal of Honor: How It Happened

President Obama awarded the nation’s highest award for valor to Army Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry Tuesday afternoon. He earned it en route to losing his right hand in 2008 when he and his fellow soldiers came under attack in Afghanistan. The Army has put together a visual account of how this Ranger became a hero.

“Is Counter-Insurgency Dead?”

Here’s our second take on President Obama’s Afghan policy in our new video series featuring John Nagl of the Center for a New American Security and your Battleland scribe. We’re chatting this week with Dr. Nora Bensahel, a noted COIN expert formerly at the Rand Corp. and now at CNAS, and Dave Barno, the top U.S. commander in …

A Kandahar Killing: What Does It Mean for the U.S. Military Mission?

A huge power vacuum has opened in southern Afghanistan with the assassination on July 12 of Ahmed Wali Karzai, a half brother of President Hamid Karzai and, fundamentally, the godfather of Kandahar. U.S. officials are debating whether he will be followed by a more benign tribal autocrat or someone alleged to be just as bad — and …

And We’re Worried About Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons?

Robert Gates made a big deal out of the security of U.S. nuclear weapons, going so far as to fire the Air Force’s top two officials for one too many atomic fumbles. Apparently he left the Navy’s nuclear nightmares to successor Leon Panetta.

Check out this story from Navy Times:

A master-at-arms posted at a Navy nuclear warhead …

The Slow, and So Far, Quiet Demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

So Pentagon enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stopped happening Friday. As of Monday morning, the U.S. military seems none the worse off. It appears – and I may yet regret saying this – that the Pentagon’s formal, 17-year ban on gay men and women serving openly in uniform is more likely to end with a whimper than a bang.

For …

Better Late Than Never

The Air Force is heralding the arrival of its Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) uniforms to its troops toiling “outside the wire” in Afghanistan. “OCPs have a more advanced camouflage pattern that blends in with the Afghan terrain, making our Airmen safer and more effective on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Shawna …

Number of Homeless Vets Dropping Sharply :-)

Reports about struggling veterans are usually grim, so it’s always nice to trumpet good news: the number of homeless veterans in this country has been cut nearly in half between 2004 and 2009, according to a new Congressional Research Service report just released by Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists (such …

Hey Mate: Scrapping Gender Barriers in Australia’s Military

The story seems too good to be true, at least for this old (female) salt: a truly gender-neutral military, based on capabilities and not gender!

Wow. But here’s the catch…gender norms are still being applied, and the same old anti-women-in-combat arguments are surfacing:

If I see that it’s a woman on the receiving end of …

Inside the Battle for Kandahar

Army Major Rusty Bradley was commanding a Special Forces unit in Afghanistan that served as Taliban bait during 2006’s Operation Medusa, the largest offensive in NATO’s history. In his new book, Lions of Kandahar (co-written with journalist Kevin Maurer), Bradley takes the reader into battle. His goal: a patch of high ground called …

“Yo! Admiral! Ever Hear of Cause And Effect?”

Navy policies and programs work optimally under a retention rate of 55 to 60%. The Navy is currently operating at 71% retention. We have more people wanting to stay in the Navy than we presently have billets.

— Vice Admiral Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel

So why is the Navy paying bonuses like a drunken sailor?

Why the War Machine Keeps on Running

Villefranche, France.

The United States has always meddled in other people’s affairs. For those readers who think this statement is an exaggeration, I urge them to peruse the chronology of interventions compiled by the Congressional Research Service. This historical predilection for meddling, however, grew enormously in depth …

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