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Baca enjoyed the role of visiting dignitary. "Assalam alaikum," he said when introduced to people. Peace be with you.It never hurts to make friends in the anti-terrorism community. Given the global networked nature of the threat, I imagine these contacts will pay off some day for Los Angeles County.
Several times, Baca clasped his hands together and gave a slight bow, which in this country can be viewed as a Hindu greeting. But Muslims here did not appear to take offense.
He gave Pakistani greetings, a hug and kisses on the cheek, to officials, including Musharraf. In one meeting after another, Baca called the Pakistani president "a man of vision, a man of character, a man of history," ignoring the complex political cross-currents that dominate the country.
Baca gave out miniature sheriff's badges to nearly everybody who crossed his path. He made a small ceremony out of pinning them to the recipients' lapels. After a while, his hosts lined up to receive the gold miniatures.
"Is he running for office," asked one Pakistani, "in this country?"
On the eve of the war in Iraq, just 2% of the Army's world-wide fleet of 110,000 Humvees were armored, and the Army was planning to cut back its purchases. As late as last May, the Army saw little need for the armored Humvee, saying it needed only 235 of them in Iraq. Only in October, with its soldiers under daily attack, did the Army decide it needed 3,100 armored Humvees. Today, the requirement stands at 4,500 and climbing -- a number the Army doesn't expect to hit in Iraq until late this summer or early fall.Analysis: If there is a good news story here, it is that the Army has learned (relearned?) the lessons of urban combat in Iraq and seen the utility of this vehicle. More importantly, it has jumpstarted production with emergency procurement orders for up-armored HMMWVs, and transferred almost every up-armored HMMWV in the world to forces in Iraq. The Army had a problem, and it responded the best it could with the resources it had in place. Some general officers probably deserve a pat on the back for making what is normally an inflexible Army supply/procurement system respond so quickly to this problem.
The Army's failure to produce more of the vehicles, a hot topic among soldiers in Iraq, is slowly becoming an issue among lawmakers. A look at why the armored-Humvee program has struggled to gain acceptance shows flaws in the Army's vision over the past decade of how future wars would be fought. Even as the armored Humvee proved itself in small conflicts around the globe, the Army failed to buy more because it was focused on preparing for major wars with other large armies -- rather than low-end guerilla conflicts.
Moreover, in pursuit of big technological leaps that fundamentally alter the way wars are fought, the service also has tended to overlook simple, low-cost innovations that often count for much more on the battlefield. "Getting the Army to support the armored Humvee was like pushing a limp rope up a hill," says Jim Mills, a retired colonel who was a senior manager on the program for several years in the late 1990s.
Critics of the armored Humvee had pointed to its limitations: Unlike an Abrams tank, the vehicle can't repel a blast from a rocket-propelled grenade or .50 caliber machine-gun fire. Iraq, however, has shown that even a marginal technological advance can save lives. While the armored Humvee may not deflect a blast from a rocket-propelled grenade or roadside bomb, the solders in the vehicle are far more likely to emerge from the attack with their lives.
Prior to the Iraqi war, senior Army officials, looking to save money in the 2004 budget, drafted a plan that would have cut the number of armored Humvees the service planned to buy by 2,800 vehicles to a total of 1,000.
Now the Army, rushing to fix the imbalance, says it needs 11,000 of the vehicles world-wide. In addition, it is scrambling to produce about 8,400 add-on armor kits that can be bolted to existing Humvees with sheet-metal or fiberglass skin and canvas doors.
Army officials insist that no one could have predicted that the service would have been involved in such a huge peacekeeping effort, which dwarfs previous missions to the Balkans, Haiti and Somalia. Nor could the Army have predicted Iraqi insurgents would use remote-detonated roadside bombs so effectively to kill U.S. soldiers, says Brig. Gen. Jeff Sorenson, a senior Army procurement official. "We didn't anticipate this threat nor were we prepared for it," the general says.Really??? That's a planning failure of the most basic kind -- the failure to anticipate the threat. And I find it quite hard to believe, honestly, that the Army could fail to appreciate this kind of warfare after watching all of the brushfire conflicts of the 1990s. From Somalia to Chechnya, it was clear what kinds of wars we'd be fighting in the next century to anyone with a clue about history and the population trends that were moving towards urban centers. Moreover, as one of my NSRT colleagues points out, the Army recognized these trends and incorporated them into exercises at the Joint Readiness Training Center as early as 1993. Roadside IEDs were a known threat, and the Army trained for it -- it just didn't buy the gear it needed to have to meet this threat effectively.
... The program's most enthusiastic backers were military police, who specialize in riot control, peacekeeping and stabilizing an area following combat.It is true that early armored HMMWV prototypes had problems. They basically bolted armor onto an existing HMMWV and it was too much for the engine, chassis, suspension, and steering to bear. However, all prototypes have these problems, and the up-armored HMMWV certainly had less problems than the early Abrams and Bradley prototypes. (See the book Pentagon Wars -- or the Kelsey Grammar movie -- for some examples.)
But officials involved in the program worried that the Army might not embrace a peacekeeping vehicle. They were also concerned the relatively small military-police force, which boasts no three- or four-star generals, lacked "the horsepower to get the armored Humvee built," says John Weaver, an Army program manager who oversaw the service's Humvee fleet. So Mr. Weaver and his colleagues instead pitched the armored Humvee as a scout vehicle that would venture out in front of the tanks during big battles and beam back information about the enemy.
The armored Humvee proved terrible at that job. Early test vehicles were too heavy, and whenever they ventured off road in soft soil they got stuck in the mud. Senior officers in the Army's armor school, which trains and equips the service's heavy-tank force, wanted to kill the armored-Humvee program entirely.
Top Ten Signs Your Supreme Court Justice Is On The TakeBonus: For an example of a previous recusal refusal, see this memorandum of then-Assoc. Justice William Rehnquist from 1972 in Laird v. Tatum, in which the current Chief Justice refuses to recuse himself from a political surveillance case against the Secretary of Defense.
10. Begins every case with, "We'll start the bribing at ten thousand."
9. His written opinions always have several mentions of the thirst-quenching taste of Mountain Dew.
8. Regularly convenes court at the dog track.
7. Asks, "Does either attorney plan on inviting me on any hunting trips?"
6. For a Supreme Court Justice he certainly is mentioned on "The Sopranos" a lot.
5. All the bling bling.
4. His last article in the "Law Journal" was about finding the right fence for your stolen goods.
3. When you have a meeting with him in chambers, frisks you for a wire.
2. He's on the Forbes 500 List between Bill Gates and Oprah.
1. Already declared Bush the winner of the November election.
Last week, Air Force lawyers prosecuting Halabi asked the judge to exclude from the case any mention of the probe of Special Agent Marc Palmosina of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Palmosina's alleged misconduct is similar to some of the charges against Halabi.Analysis: Without making light of a really serious situation for the defendant, this is starting to become comical. The prosecution in the Yee case fell apart largely because there was never a proper classification review done of the documents that Yee was alleged to have mishandled. The Army and its JAGs were responsible for that case. Now, we have similar problems emerging in the Halabi case, which is being handled by the Air Force and its JAGs. These problems make me think that we might have some sort of larger systemic problem with the classification of information regarding Guantanamo Bay. It's possible that the government has overclassified a lot of material relating to that mission, and that it did so with great haste and little thought about the secondary and tertiary consequences of that overclassification. Thus, to get their jobs done, officers at Gitmo are having to break the classification rules in order to be more efficient (e.g. storing some material on their laptops instead of checking it back in each day). There are at least two results: (1) lots of people are breaking the rules to be more efficient, and (2) the military is selectively prosecuting/disciplining individuals for reasons known only to senior decisionmakers in the Pentagon.
The documents on compact discs at Palmosina's home did not concern the Halabi case, but instead focused on cargo transport operations, an area to which the agent had been assigned before he was sent to Guantanamo Bay, where the United States is holding more than 600 alleged al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, the government document said.
Palmosina, who has been removed from work on the Halabi case, could not be reached for comment, and the Air Force declined to confirm whether he is being investigated or to provide the name of his attorney.
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Military officials began looking at Palmosina last fall, during his one-month stint at Guantanamo Bay working on the Halabi case, the document said. Last Friday, prosecutors in the Halabi case filed the document, which asks the judge to remove from Halabi's upcoming court-martial any mention of the Palmosina investigation.
In November 2001, when President Bush authorized the first U.S. military tribunals since World War II, the process drew fire from human-rights groups and some legal experts. Now the critics have an unexpected set of allies: the detainees' five military lawyers, who have launched a surprisingly vigorous assault on the system that hired them.
The five JAGs -- as members of the Judge Advocate General's Corps, the military's legal arm, are known -- have attacked the tribunals as inherently unfair, contrary to international law and susceptible to political influence. In a brief they submitted to the Supreme Court, Cmdr. Swift wrote a section comparing the president with King George III and likening the treatment of tribunal defendants to the injustices that helped spark the American Revolution.
Ultimately, the JAGs are expected to challenge virtually every aspect of the administration's policies on Guantanamo detainees, from the denial of protections of the Geneva Conventions to the interrogation methods used in extracting statements. As the first trials draw near, the JAGs' approach could force the administration either to answer in open court or risk undercutting its longstanding promise that the tribunals will be "full and fair."
Citing national-security concerns, Mr. Bush decreed the tribunals free from federal court review, "the principles of law and the rules of evidence" used in civilian trials and the rights afforded U.S. military defendants in courts-martial. That gives the tribunal members, who are military officers selected by the Pentagon, vast leeway to consider hearsay, unsworn statements and other evidence that wouldn't pass muster under normal court procedures. Defendants are entitled to a military defense lawyer and, at their own expense, a civilian lawyer who can pass security checks. But they aren't guaranteed the right to see all the evidence against them.
As military officers defending accused enemies of the U.S., the JAGs say they are motivated by a mix of patriotic duty, personal values and a desire to help shape legal history. Air Force Col. Will Gunn, the Harvard-trained lawyer who heads the defense office, says he wants to show future generations that "even under fire we held firm to our ideals."
The fighting erupted in midmorning in the divided city of Mitrovica after a protest over the drownings of at least two Albanian children. The protesters blamed Serbs for the deaths.Analysis: I'm not saying that U.S./NATO troops would've prevented this from happening, but I think there's some question about whether the remaining UN/NATO/U.S. forces on the ground have the strength to stabilize the situation. Since 1999, America has gradually pulled out of Kosovo and Bosnia. And since the global war on terrorism started, the U.S. troop levels in the Balkans have dropped even further. (Ironic, considering the long-time presence of Islamist militants and Al Qaeda agents in the Balkans in support of the Bosnian Muslim population.) According to GlobalSecurity.Org, the U.S. currently has significantly less a brigade combat team in Kosovo. I am not certain about the strength of the UN mission in Kosovo. I'm also not certain about the strength of the recently reconstituted Kosovo civil police forces. But I seriously doubt this would have escalated to this point if we had the robust force in Kosovo that we had in 1999, or if there were some multinational force in there to maintain stability in our absence. More to follow...
The province, in southern Serbia, is inhabited mostly by Albanians.
By nightfall the United Nations had lost control of several city centers, and mobs of Albanian men were attacking Serbian areas at will. In the provincial capital, Pristina, machine gunfire and explosions could be heard late into the night.
A United Nations police spokesman said the exact number of casualties was difficult to calculate because the police and peacekeeping troops had not re-established control.
"This is the severest case of unrest since the end of the war," said Derek Chappell, the chief United Nations police spokesman in Kosovo.
NATO members, in a statement this morning, called "upon leaders in the region to take concrete action to restore peace and security.
The statement said the reinforcements--up to 700 additional troops--will demonstrate "the Alliance's will and capability to carry out its mission to provide security for all Kosovars, regardless of their ethnic identity."
About 17,500 NATO troops are already in the province. Some 150 additional U.S. troops were reported already en route along with 80 Italians, according to wire service reports. A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense said it was considering sending 500 troops.
Dressing women in battle dress uniforms does not make them soldiers. Calling them soldiers does not mean they possess the requisite skills required of warriors.Analysis: There's a lot in here to respond to. I'll start with the general, and move to the specific. Col. Revels' conclusion -- "Clearly, women can contribute to the nation's defense, but not as warriors." -- is way off base. It's also unsupported by the recent evidence from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Female soldiers and Marines fought as warriors and they fought well. The examples I'm most familiar with, as a former MP captain myself, are the stories of female military police soldiers and officers in Iraq and Afghanistan. As MPs, they conducted combat patrols, raids, cordon-and-search operations, convoy-escort missions, and numerous other operations indistinguishable from their infantry brethren. Indeed, I might say these MPs engaged in more dicey missions because they lacked the heavy armor of their mechanized infantry and armor brethren, and because they often deployed in smaller units -- teams and squads versus platoons and companies. Clearly, the evidence from Afghanistan and Iraq shows that women have fought as warriors -- and fought well. So I think this general statement is wrong.
No nation, in modern history, has advanced the cause of equality and women rights by sending women into combat. Until the American people demand reconsideration of existing deployment policies, women will continue to die needlessly in Iraq and Congress will continue to waste time and resources reviewing sexual assault complaints.
For years, the senior leadership ignored declining physical standards caused by increasing reliance on female recruits to fill manpower quotas. Mention pregnancy rates and no comment follows. Now, because some women, who are as culpable as some men at initiating sexual contact, are complaining, the brass are forced to take another look at predictable problems created by sex integration.
* * *
No one seems to understand that it is not the primary purpose of our armed forces to provide employment opportunities for women and young men. Our armed forces exist for the single purpose of defending the nation by destroying any enemy that threatens our national security. Clearly, women can contribute to the nation's defense, but not as warriors.
The Army acknowledged that two agents in its Intelligence and Security Command overstepped their authority in seeking information about a February conference on Islamic law at the University of Texas Law School. The agents sought the names of participants and a videotape of the conference after two Army lawyers reported suspicious behavior by an attendee. Army regulations bar its agents from investigating civilian affairs unless the F.B.I. waives jurisdiction.Analysis: The story I got from former colleagues at Fort Hood was that these agents were acting because they thought the events at UT-Austin could pose some kind of a threat to Fort Hood, America's largest military base and home to roughly 42,000 troups and thousands of armored vehicles. I can sort of see the validity of that, because Fort Hood does have an interest in getting information about potential threats to the installation and its surrounding community. However, when I was there, we got this information through interface with state, local and federal authorities -- not through direct intelligence gathering. This seems a little far off the reservation, in literal and figurative terms.
Negotiations ensued between U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Eugene R. Fidell of Washington, Capt. Yee's civilian attorney.Analysis: Without a doubt, I think the Army is eager to get this albatross off its neck. It now appears the Army and many commentators (including me), who howled for Captain Yee's scalp, were wrong. He may have been a lot of things, but he certainly wasn't a spy. And I think at this point, the Army is trying to salvage what it can of its public relations while still maintaining some rule of law for the miscellaneous charges that Captain Yee still stands accused of. Adultery, mishandling information and misusing a government computer are still criminal in the military, and it might set a bad precedent to let Captain Yee off for those crimes. That said, I think that an Art. 15 is the right punitive move for an officer accused of such crimes. I've seen these cases brought on active duty, and I think that is the punishment that fits the crime. It effectively ends the officer's career, but allows him to leave the service with an honorable discharge and no felony conviction. Law From The Center and I agree -- the ideal course of action here is to make this case go away as quickly and quietly as possible.
The deal would have the government drop the classified-information charges. Capt. Yee would be subjected to administrative punishment on charges of committing adultery and storing pornographic material on his computer. He would resign from the Army with an honorable discharge.
The agreement would also give him immunity from charges stemming from his answers to questions about whether he engaged in espionage.
* * *
Mr. Fidell has repeatedly said his client is innocent of espionage charges.
Poll Question: Will we ever catch Osama Bin Laden?Results: I took the survey (answering "Yes, by the end of 2005"), and was put through to a new home page that showed the survey results. 12,816 votes have been cast out of a total Army population well over 1.5 million. Here's what American soldiers think about this question:
- Yes, by the end of March
- Yes, by the end of May
- Yes, by the end of 2005
3% -- Yes, by the end of MarchAnalysis: I'm no statistician or sociologist, but I think these numbers are somewhat interesting. Of course, different people will see different things in the same statistics, but here's my take. Less than 1/4 of the Army thinks that the current spring offensive in Afghanistna will net Osama Bin Laden. And similarly, just over 1/4 of the Army is pessimistic (realistic?) enough to think that we may never catch Osama Bin Laden. However, roughly half of the respondents take a cautiously optimistic stance, which is characteristic of the soldiers that I know: we're going to catch the guy, and probably in the near term.
20% -- Yes, by the end of May
49% -- Yes, by the end of 2005
28% -- No