Troops

Droning On To a New Way of War

So the U.S. government — if not the military, then the CIA — is now using drones to kill suspected terrorists in at least six different countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Congress — the entity charged with declaring war, according to the Constitution — has basically green-lighted only the attacks …

A New Chinese Threat

Some crazies are going to have fun with this:

LOS ANGELES — An El Monte, Calif., man was sentenced to three years in state prison Wednesday in connection with a scheme to recruit 200 Chinese nationals and charge them for joining a phony Army Special Forces unit that he led as “supreme commander,” Los Angeles County prosecutors …

On Priggishness


Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a private. Most, if not all, of my leaders were Vietnam veterans. I remember seeing a picture of my platoon sergeant when he was an advisor to the ARVN. In the photo he had just been awarded a Silver Star for gallantry. He had a big smile on his face, the medal hanging from the pocket flap of …

Ahoy! The Doctor Will See You Now…

Two new voices here on Battleland — both important. Both historic. Both women.

Our newest Battleland crew member is retired U.S. Navy commander Darlene Iskra. Not only was she the first woman ever to command a Navy ship, she’s also been an answer — or is that a question? — on Jeopardy (check it out here — she’s the $1,600 clue …

Bravo Zulu, Mr. Secretary

Departing defense secretary Robert Gates is the 10th military chief I have covered since Harold Brown was running Jimmy Carter’s Pentagon. After a private dinner at the White House on Wednesday night, and a final ruffles and flourishes sendoff at the Pentagon on Thursday, Gates will fly off for his home in Washington state and never …

Afghan War Just Got Cheaper

OK. It’s not much, but every little bit helps. Thanks to a new airspace access deal with Russia — with Russia! — a U.S. KC-135 refueling tanker was able to fly from Washington state to the big U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan via the North Pole last week. The Manas base in Kyrgyzstan is a major support hub for the war in Afghanistan. The …

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Do Leak

The Pentagon — surprise! — has been unable to find who leaked word to the Washington Post last November that an early Defense Department assessment concluded there would be “little risk” if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay men and women serving in uniform were scrapped. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered that the …

After the Drawdown: the Fictional Legacy of the Wars on Terror

Nearly every war in history has been fictionalized in the popular media of its day. Fictional stories about combat explore areas that can be harder to capture with history and journalism. At their best, they illuminate the damage and sacrifice of war; at their worst, they create myths or outright fabrications that become some disjointed …

Deadly Infiltrators on Both Sides of the Durand Line

The historically-porous frontier dividing Afghanistan from Pakistan — all 1,600 miles (2,400 km.) of it — has long been easily crossed by Taliban fighters seeking to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan, who then withdraw back into the relative safety of Pakistan. If that constant border crossing isn’t headache enough for local …

The New U.S. “Smalls” Air Force Over Afghanistan

We’ve all seen the airplane-sized Predator and Reaper drones now flying and fighting over Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. They’re fairly big (the Predator has a 48-foot [15-m.] wingspan) and costly ($5 million each). But there are fleets of smaller and cheaper man-launched drones that have been, um, flying under the radar in …

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