Monday, December 07, 2009

Equipment left behind, no secrets are confidential

In "Millions' worth of gear left in Iraq" (Washington Post), Ernesto Londono reports that US military equipment -- including "passenger vehicles, generators and other equipment" -- is intended to be left in Iraq. Setting aside concerns what Nouri will do with the equipment (a valid concern but the US-installed him and possibly he's on his way out), leaving the equipment is a smart decision. DoD will be asking for more money for new equipment regardless and there's no point in spending the money (and time) necessary to transport it either to Afghanistan or the US. Some might argue against the 'donation' aspect (especially with the millions Nouri keeps tossing around for 'security'), but it's a write-off (for the US). Londono notes some of the complaints:

Officials involved say the approach has triggered arguments in the Pentagon over whether the effort to leave Iraqis adequately equipped is hurting the buildup in Afghanistan. Officials in the U.S. Central Command, which oversees both wars, have balked at some proposed handovers, and previously rejected an approach that would have granted base commanders even greater leeway.
U.S. commanders in Iraq say they have been judicious in assessing what equipment to earmark for donation. Alan F. Estevez, a deputy undersecretary of defense, wrote in an e-mail that "an important and vital goal is to leave behind fully functioning bases to the Government of Iraq to enable Iraq's civil capacities."

For those who disagree with the decisions, you may have valid reasons but this is position we've long advocated here. In this morning's New York Times, James Dao and Dan Frosch report on the lack of strict confidentiality rules when US service members are dealing with military therapists as opposed to civilian therapists. (Elaine's covered this topic repeatedly, FYI.) It translates as, "Tell us, trust us, and we may keep your secret or we may run to your superiors." The reporters note:

The problem with the military rules, experts say, is that they do not safeguard the confidentiality of mental health communications and records as strongly as federal rules of evidence for civilians. Both systems say therapists should report patients when they seem a threat to themselves or to others. But the military rules include additional exceptions that could be applied to a wide range of suspected infractions, experts say.
"There really is no confidentiality," said Kaye Baron, a psychologist in Colorado Springs who has been treating soldiers from Fort Carson and their families for eight years. "You can find an exception to confidentiality in pretty much anything one would discuss."

Amanda Shropshire (WTVC) reports on Knoxville's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment soldiers, 180 of whom will be headed to Shelby before Christmas for additional training before they deploy to Iraq. Those deploying will include brother and sister Adam Lee and Robin Oyer. It will be the sister's third tour of duty in Iraq and she states, "I look forward to being there with him and supporting him as well as supporting my family at home." Adam Crisp (Chattanooga Times Free Press) reports on the send-off ceremony for the soldiers yesterday and quotes Capt Casey Benzel stating, "This is bad timing being that it's right before Christmas, but mostly everyone is ready to go." Meanwhile Laura Incal Caterra (Journal News) reports on a "pre-mobilization preparation conference" held for New York Army National Guard members and their families in Tarrytown and quotes New York Governor David Paterson telling the assembled, "It's good to see that we're finally starting to show the decenty and the sensitivity and the loyalty to the people of our country, our brothers and sisters, who went overseas to put their lives on the line to protect freedom around the world." No offense to Paterson, but with the federal registry law tied up in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee [12-07 corrected from Senate Armed Services Committee -- apologies to Chair Carl Levin, Ranking Member John McCain and everyone who serves on and staffs the Senate Armed Services Committee], PTSD still an issue the military refuses to seriously address, nearly monthly reports of family members of service members being threatened with deportation, I'm not seeing the brilliant sunrise he is. Yesterday Patricia C. McCarther (Huntsville Times) reported on the send-off ceremony last week for the Alabama National Guard 441st:

Lt. Col. Roger Yearwood will lead the 441st in Iraq, and it's his third deployment with the group. He thanked families for their past and future sacrifices and assured them that the soldiers have the best training and equipment — including mine-resistant trucks -- that money can buy.
Those were reassuring words for Jana Nelson, 25, who has been married for just three weeks to soldier Michael Nelson, who is also a Huntsville police officer.
"I can't wait for this year to be over and he can come home and be safe," Jana said. "You don't think about being a police officer as being a safe job, but I think it is safer than being over there."

As the send-offs continue around the country, Tayleigh Davis (WALB) notes that Staff Sgt Briand Williams, scheduled to be home by Christmas, was honored at his Saturday funeral. Williams was serving in Iraq when he was killed November 22nd. Davis quotes Tonya Flippen telling the assembled mourners, "Remember him as a soldier and becoming a man. I will remember my son as my son and my hero." His daughter Brianna Williams is quoted stating, "He was a great dad and I loved him very much." Davis notes his wife (name not given) is pregnant and due to deliver a boy in January.

From World Can't Wait, we'll note the opening of "Saying NO to Obama's War Moves in Afghanistan:"

Last week, thousands, -- but not tens or hundreds of thousands, or the millions needed to stop this war -- protested Obama's war surge in Afghanistan. Across the country, groups of people from Honolulu to Maine to Florida, gathered, mostly on Wednesday, to respond with anger and outrage to 30,000 more troops from the US, and others from NATO, destroying one of the poorest countries in the world.
About 300 people gathered outside the gate at West Point on December 1 to protest the escalation Obama announced, more than protested there during the Bush era. Over and over, people talked about having voted for Obama, but now being disillusioned, and really "heart broken" as Matthis Chiroux, the Iraq war resister put it. The protest was intense, as the group marched silently to the main gate of West Point. Once there, we chanted "STOP THIS WAR NOW!" and "30,000 More! What the hell FOR?"

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "It Takes A Starlet" went up last night. The e-mail address for this site is