Friday, November 18, 2005

NYT: "Vital Military Jobs Go Unfilled, Study Says" (Damien Cave)

The military is falling far behind in its effort to recruit and re-enlist soldiers for some of the most vital combat positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new government report.
The report, completed by the Government Accountability Office, shows that the Army, National Guard and Marines signed up as few as a third of the Special Forces soldiers, intelligence specialists and translators that they had aimed for over the last year.
Both the Army and the Marines, for instance, fell short of their goals for hiring roadside bomb defusers by about 20 percent in each of the last two years. The Army Reserve, meanwhile, failed to fill about a third of its more than 1,500 intelligence analysts jobs. And in the National Guard, there have been consistent shortages filling positions involving tanks, field artillery and intelligence.
The report found that, in all, the military, which is engaged in the most demanding wartime recruitment effort since the 1970's, had failed to fully staff 41 percent of its array of combat and noncombat specialties.

The above is from Damien Cave's "Vital Military Jobs Go Unfilled, Study Says" in this morning's New York Times and begs the long asked question, what if they had a war and no one showed up? This is Mike's issue so I'll leave it at that (and like others in the community, look forward to reading Mike's commentary this evening).

Instead, we'll note what Brad called to our attention last night, Courage to Resist's "TODAY! Army Natinal Guard Spc. Katherine Jashinski refuses to deploy" (Milwaukee Indymedia).

Fort Benning, GA Army National Guard Specialist Katherine Jashinski, on active duty with the 111th ASG since January of this year, will make a public statement against war as a conscientious objector in the face of orders to participate in weapons training and deploy to the Middle East. She will be joined by several members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace. Jashinski applied for a discharge as a Conscientious Objector in 2004. The Army recently denied her claim and ordered her to weapons training and deployment this week. Speakers at the press conference include Aidan Delgado, an Army Conscientious Objector and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Iraq Veterans Against the War supports the right of every soldier to follow their conscience. Today's revelation that chemical weapons were used against citizens in Falluja is evidence that the war is illegal and immoral.Jashinski's counselor, Persian Gulf War Army Conscientious Objector Aimee Allison, will speak at tomorrow's press conference. Speaking today, Allison stated, "As the first woman GI to publicly take a stand against this war and to declare herself a Conscientious Objector, Katherine's actions are very significant. She is showing remarkable courage."Jashinski's lawyer, J.E. McNeil with the Center for Conscience and War, will also discuss her legal status and the case. She comments, "Denying Katherine CO status is yet another in a long line of actions by the military to defy its own rules in order to get the numbers of soldiers they need to continue this war."
Katherine is actively supported by Code Pink, a women-initiated grassroots peace group. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink adds, "I applaud Katherine's courageous stand against the continued U.S. role in bringing violence to the Middle East."
Father Roy Bourgeois, a Vietnam War veteran and founder of School of the Americas Watch will also speak. Jashinki's statement comes on the eve of a national demonstration at the gates of Fort Benning calling for the closure the U.S. Army School of the Americas. "U.S. foreign policy as it exists today is fundamentally out of alignment with Americans values of peace and justice."

Back to the Times. Bully Boy can't get millions of Americans to fight in his illegal war of choice, but he can make sure the most questionable among us rake in the big bucks -- from James Glanz's "Issuing Contracts, Ex-Convict Took Bribes in Iraq, U.S. Says:"

A North Carolina man who was charged yesterday with accepting kickbacks and bribes as a comptroller and financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq was hired despite having served prison time for felony fraud in the 1990's.
The job gave the man, Robert J. Stein, control over $82 million in cash earmarked for Iraqi rebuilding projects.
Along with a web of other conspirators who have not yet been named, Mr. Stein and his wife received "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities amounting to at least $200,000 per month" to steer lucrative construction contracts to companies run by another American, Philip H. Bloom, an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint says. Mr. Stein's wife, who was not named, has not been charged with wrongdoing in the case; Mr. Bloom was charged with a range of crimes on Wednesday.
In the staccato language of the affidavit, filed in Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, Mr. Stein, 50, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy, interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

And in the house of mirrors of the puppet government of the occupation, Edward Wong's "Torture Charges Deepen Rift Between U.S. and Iraqi Leader" informs us:

A split between American officials here and one of Iraq's most powerful ministers widened Thursday as the minister played down reports that Iraqi police officers tortured prisoners while the American Embassy bluntly warned that such abuse would not be tolerated.
The embassy also said the Iraqi government should not allow militia or sectarian control of the security forces.
The Americans declared that their investigators would help conduct a much broader inquiry into all Iraqi detention centers. Together, the events show that the United States still exerts vast influence over the Iraqi government, despite the Bush administration's insistence that Iraqis have full control over the affairs of their country.
At a news conference, the Iraqi interior minister, Bayan Jabr, a conservative Shiite, accused the government's political opponents of bolstering the insurgency by exploiting the American military's discovery of torture at a secret police prison in the capital. Virtually all of the prisoners were Sunni Arabs, and Sunni groups have exploded in fury, saying that the discovery confirms their long-held suspicions that the Shiite-led government has been abducting and torturing or killing Sunnis.

For those interested in polls and reports on them, check out Meg Bortin's "Survey Finds Deep Discontent With American Foreign Policy" -- it's a report on a poll, it is not an analysis. (The results were released yesterday, the article is in print this morning. That's not enough time for an analysis. It is enough time to repeat the summaries provided by Pew of their results.)

Lori e-mails to highlight Cindy Sheehan's "Open Letter to George's Mama" (Common Dreams):

Dear Barbara,
On April 04, 2004, your oldest child killed my oldest child, Casey Austin Sheehan.
Unlike your oldest child, my son was a marvelous person who joined the military to serve his country and to try and make the world a better place. Casey didn't want to go to Iraq, but he knew his duty. Your son went AWOL from a glamour unit. George couldn't even handle the Alabama Air National Guard. Casey joined the Army before your son became commander in chief. We all know that your son was thinking of invading Iraq as early as 1999. Casey was a dead man before George even became president and before he even joined the Army in May of 2000.
I raised Casey and my other children to use their words to solve problems and conflicts. I told my four children from the time that they were small that it is ALWAYS wrong to kick, bite, hit, scratch, pull hair, etc. If the smaller children couldn't find the words to solve their conflicts without violence, I always encouraged them to find a mediator like a parent, older sibling, or teacher to help them find the words.
Did you teach George to use his words and not his violence to solve problems? It doesn't appear so. Did you teach him that killing other people for profits and oil is ALWAYS wrong? Obviously you did not. I also used to wash my children's mouth out with soap on the rare occasion that they lied…did you do that to George? Can you do it now? He has lied and he is still lying. Saddam did not have WMDs or ties with al-Qaeda and the Downing Street Memos prove that your son knew this before he invaded Iraq.
On August 3rd, 2005, your son said that he killed my son and the other brave and honorable Americans for a "noble cause." Well, Barbara, mother to mother, that angered me. I don't consider invading and occupying another country that was proven not to be a threat to the USA is a noble cause. I don't think invading a country, killing its innocent citizens, and ruining the infrastructure to make your family and your family-friendly war profiteers rich is a noble cause.
So I went down to Crawford in August to ask your son what noble cause did he kill my son for. He wouldn't speak with me. I think that showed incredibly bad manners. Do you think a president, even if it is your son, should be so inaccessible to his employers? Especially one of his bosses whose life George has devastated so completely?

American military fatalities in Iraq have reached 56 for the month and 2085 since the invasion.