New & Noteworthy BooksFeatured Book
by buying from
The new policy, due to be announced today, represents a departure from the previous U.S. goal of banning all land mines designed to kill troops. That plan, established by President Bill Clinton, set a target of 2006 for giving up antipersonnel mines, depending on the success of Pentagon efforts to develop alternatives.Analysis: Actually, the biggest problem right now in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Chechnya is not related to landmines. It is related to the use of cluster munitions, like the CBU-87. These are large bombs dropped from aircraft which, at a certain point close to the ground, break up into hundreds of little bomblets which are essentially the size of a hand grenade or RPG warhead. The dud rate for these bomblets inevitably produces a handful of duds from each bomb or sortie, which stay in the ground long after the bombing run. Some of these remain inert forever; others may eventually explode. But over the course of an air campaign, hundreds or thousands of these may be sown. And this treaty does absolutely nothing to address this problem. Notwithstanding that fact, if you look at the rhetoric of the anti-landmine community, they often talk about these unexploded munitions to make their case stronger, and to implicate the U.S. which generally uses a lot of cluster munitions but not a lot of landmines.
Bush, however, has decided to impose no limits on the use of "smart" land mines, which have timing devices to automatically defuse the explosives within hours or days, officials said.
His ban will apply only to "dumb" mines -- those without self-destruct features. But it will cover devices not only aimed at people but also meant to destroy vehicles. In that way, Bush's policy will extend to a category of mines not included in Clinton's plan, which was limited to antipersonnel devices.
Bush will also propose a 50 percent jump in spending, up to $70 million in fiscal 2005, for a State Department program that provides mine-removal assistance in more than 40 countries, officials said. The program also funds mine-awareness programs abroad and offers some aid to survivors of mine explosions.
A senior State Department official, who disclosed Bush's decision on the condition that he not be named, said the new policy aims at striking a balance between the Pentagon's desire to retain effective weapons and humanitarian concerns about civilian casualties caused by unexploded bombs, which can remain hidden long after combat ends and battlefields return to peaceful use.
The safety problem stems from dumb bombs, which kill as many as 10,000 civilians a year, the official said. Smart bombs, he added, "are not contributors to this humanitarian crisis."
The Army has reported 86 incidents, the Navy 12, the Air Force 8 and the Marine Corps 6.Analysis: A large percentage of these reports grow out of fraternization charges -- that is, consensual sexual relations between servicemembers of different rank, or within the same unit, that is improper for reasons of good order and discipline. Fraternization is somewhat akin to sexual harassment in the civilian context, but not really, because the difference in rank/power is what makes the crime -- not a lack of consent. In a sense, the military's conception of fraternization embodies what many feminist scholars have said all along about sexual relations in the civilian workplace -- that it is harassment per se for a superior to have relations with a subordinate, because there can be no real consent in an uneven power structure. The military presumes coercion in such relationships, and bans them because of their deleterious effect on unit cohesion and military effectiveness.
Military officials said that the bulk of the charges were being investigated and that some had already resulted in disciplinary actions, but they could not provide specifics. They said a small number of the reports had turned out to be unfounded.
In addition, about two dozen women at Sheppard Air Force Base, a large training facility in Texas, have reported to a local rape-crisis center that they were assaulted in 2002. The Air Force Academy in Colorado is still reeling from the disclosure last year of more than 50 reported assaults or rapes over the last decade.
The latest accusations are the most extensive set of sexual misconduct charges since the Navy's Tailhook incident of 1991 and the Army's drill sergeant scandal about five years later. In response, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this month ordered a senior-level inquiry into the reported sexual assaults in Iraq and Kuwait, and how the armed services treats victims of sexual attacks. The Army and Air Force have opened similar investigations.
The issue came to a boil at a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, where Senate Democrats and Republicans sharply questioned the Pentagon's top personnel official and four four-star officers for what the lawmakers said were lapses in the military's ability to protect servicewomen from sexual assaults, to provide medical care and counseling to victims of attacks and to punish violators.
Lawmakers said they were particularly appalled by reports that women serving in roles from military police to helicopter pilots had been assaulted by male colleagues in remote combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, where immediate medical treatment and a sense of justice seemed to be lacking.
"No war comes without cost, but the cost should be born out of conflict with the enemy, and not because of egregious violations by some of our own troops," said Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican on the Armed Services personnel subcommittee.
Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, voiced concern that senior Pentagon leaders had not sufficiently addressed the problem. "I don't get a sense of outrage by military leadership," Mr. Nelson said.
The cancellation could spur a helicopter industry consolidation that some analysts say is long overdue. The only major players in the U.S. industry are Boeing, Sikorsky and Bell Helicopter Textron, a unit of Textron Inc. "The overcapacity of the helicopter industry warrants consolidation," Sam Pearlstein, defense analyst with investment bank Jefferies Quarterdeck, said in a research note yesterday.J. Lynn Lunsford adds in the Wall Street Journal:
"Everybody involved wants the industry to consolidate," said Paul Nisbet, defense analyst with JSA Research Inc., noting that most contractors are at 50 percent capacity.
While the military market has rebounded in recent years, the civil market is stagnant, with too much capacity and too little demand, industry experts said. Meanwhile, European competitors are proving increasingly competitive, they said.
The uncertainty that hung over the Comanche helped hold off consolidation efforts, said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with Teal Group Corp., a defense research firm. The repeated changes in the program, including adjustments in the number of Comanches to be built, required new revenue assumptions for the companies involved. In the shifting environment, it was impossible to calculate workable values for the companies needed for any merger, Aboulafia said.
"Helicopters have been the last weapons system to consolidate, largely due to lack of clarity of future helicopters," Heidi Wood, a Morgan Stanley analyst, said in a research note.
Now that the Pentagon has axed what had been one of the most promising programs financially for the contractors, each helicopter maker will be forced to examine its future in an environment in which the role of helicopters themselves are being weighed against alternatives like unmanned vehicles.Analysis: The Comanche program was a big one, and as the articles say, it will likely lead to more consolidation in this industry. Look for one of the major contractor's helicopter arms to be dismantled, or sold to a competitor, within the near future. The guys who will be really hurt by this move, however, are the smaller smaller subcontractors that may not be able to avail themselves of the money that is being shifted from Comanche into other helicopter lines such as the Blackhawk and Chinook. The Comanche was a sufficiently new helicopter to have very little overlap in its design or parts with older helicopters, and the subcontractors that made those parts will be left holding the bag here. They likely won't be able to retool their lines to make parts for the UH-60, OH-58 and CH-47 lines that are about to be restarted. And even if they could, other firms already have the subcontracts for those lines, so they can't really walk in at this stage. This cancellation will be quite bloody, I'm afraid, for a lot of these subcontractors.
"Maybe this is the event that triggers some movement in the industry," said Merrill Lynch aerospace analyst Byron Callan.
For the most part, U.S. helicopter makers have subsisted in recent years by upgrading and refurbishing a fleet of aging military helicopters that saw their heydays in the 1980s and 1990s. Simultaneously, Textron's Bell Helicopter and United Technologies' Sikorsky Aircraft Co. have lost valuable commercial market share to Europe's Eurocopter, a unit of EADS, which has made strong inroads with corporate customers and law enforcement in the U.S.
Since Boeing and McDonnell Douglas Corp. merged in 1997, many people in the industry have speculated that Boeing might be the first to cry uncle. Despite its wide variety of aerospace products, the Chicago company has no commercial-helicopter business line to cushion against changing military priorities.
WASHINGTON -- The day after the Army announced plans to kill the Comanche helicopter, the top manager for the Sikorsky-Boeing program headed to Alabama to meet with Army officials on what lies ahead and Connecticut's senators met with the governor to plot efforts to keep the long-troubled program alive.Update I: Cindy Webb has a great roundup on this story in the Washington Post "Government IT" section. Like a 'blog, her story has lots of interesting links to other sources on the subject. Check it out.
Army officials told state lawmakers that the service's revamped budget request for 2005 - along with scuttling Comanche - would include 15 additional Black Hawk helicopters to be built by Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford.
But the promise of additional work next year did little to ease the pain to Sikorsky workers brought by Monday's news or state officials' concerns about the Army's dramatic change in direction.
MOSUL, Iraq - Someone threw a grenade at Brig. Gen. Carter Ham's convoy on his way to a meeting Sunday morning with a local security commander.Just like they're trained to be. Without taking anything away from my infantry brethren and their combat abilities, I've always thought that MPs brought a unique capability to the force that other units would do well to learn for missions like Iraq. Specifically, I'm talking about the ability to rapidly transition from peace to combat, or from relative calm to the use of deadly force. MPs also know how to stop along the way, using varying degrees of force in accordance with the situation's demands. They are, without exaggeration, the ideal force for a mission like Iraq where the needs for force differ by the minute. In a situation like this, MPs are trained to respond to a convoy ambush with precise, lethal fires. The next day, the same MPs might engage local citizens in "police intelligence operations" to learn about this attack, using no force other than interpersonal communication skills.
The general's aide, Capt. Phil Mundweil, suffered a small cut on his hip from flying shrapnel, but otherwise no one was hurt in the 9:20 a.m. attack.
* * *
Ham's military police escorts reported the fragmentation grenade was tossed off an elevated roadway as the convoy passed below.
Capt. Scott Mace, a Stryker brigade officer riding in the vehicle just behind the general's, said the grenade bounced on the pavement and then rolled along for a moment before it exploded.
* * *
"The MPs clicked into hypermode and they were cool as can be under pressure," Mace said.
"[A]llowing law schools to exclude military recruiters without facing the consequences provided for in the Solomon Amendment would cause serious harm to the Nation, to those individuals who are now serving or who in the future will be serving in the military, and to law students with an interest in military service," the brief argues.The brief was filed by Howard J. Bashman, a Philadelphia-based appellate lawyer who edits the How Appealing weblog, on behalf of three veterans organizations: the UCLA School of Law Veterans Society, Washburn University Veterans Law Association, and the College of William & Mary School of Law Military Law Society. It marks the first time in the current series of court battles over this issue that a student organization has filed a brief supporting the military's unrestricted ability to recruit on law school campuses.
"Our organization maintains a strict policy of not taking sides on controversial issues," said the group's president, second-year Harvard Law School (HLS) student Andrew S. Friedberg.I echo the sentiment of my colleague at Law From the Center, as well as Law Dork: this is not an issue for neutrality. Moreover, Harvard Law's vets have not taken a position of neutrality, according to non-vet friends of mine in their third year class. Instead, Harvard's vets have facilitated the administration's desire to exclude the military from campus by setting up alternate interview facilities and processes. In my opinion, that's a dangerous path to go down, because it just makes it easier for Harvard to cut all official ties to the administration. And as one HLS alum writes to me, it discourages the military from doing any meaningful recruiting on campus, because of the availability of this other path with less friction.
Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, of Sudan, was a paymaster for al-Qaida, and Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul, of Yemen, was a propagandist for bin Laden, the government charged in military indictments unsealed at the Pentagon.This is big news -- I'll have an analysis of this move later in the day. More to follow...
The two men are among more than 600 foreign prisoners held at the U.S. Navy's Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba. Both spent time in terrorist training camps and served as bodyguards for bin Laden, according to military charging documents similar to indictments in the civilian court system.
Although President Bush has authorized the death penalty for suspects convicted by military tribunals, prosecutors will not seek it for the two suspects charged Tuesday, the Pentagon said. The two face a maximum of life in prison if convicted.
The military tribunals are expected to take place at Guantanamo Bay, though the brief charging documents do not indicate when. The indictments also provide no documentation for government claims the men were terrorist conspirators.
Military tribunals are traditionally used to try alleged war criminals, such as Nazi leaders after World War II. They are similar to military trials known as courts-martial but share some features of ordinary civilian trials as well.
Suspects are entitled to defense lawyers and to put on a vigorous defense. Rules of evidence are more favorable to the government, however, and the Guantanamo tribunal suspects will have only limited rights to appeal convictions.
Al Bahlul and al Qosi are charged with willfully and knowingly joining an enterprise of persons who shared a common criminal purpose and conspired with Osama bin Laden and others to commit the following offenses: attacking civilians; attacking civilian objects; murder by an unprivileged belligerent; destruction of property by an unprivileged belligerent; and terrorism.
Specifics of each individuals' charges are available at:
- Charging document for Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul of Yemen
- Charging document for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan
Approximately 50 Marines charged with protecting the U.S. Embassy and its staff against possible attack by rebels arrived in the Haitian capital Monday.Analysis: Securing U.S. embassies abroad is a bread & butter mission for the Marines, and they have decades of experience at doing it. We already had Marines in Haiti before this deployment to provide the security detachment for the embassy there. This deployment augments those Marines, and gives them a more robust capability should anything happen. It also lays the foundation for any subsequent Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), or other operations that the Marines might execute in Haiti.
The Marines were requested by the U.S. ambassador to secure the compound as rebels continued to make advances. Trained in counterterrorism, the elite Fleet Anti-Terrorism Support Team, or FAST, will augment the embassy's Marine security detail.
* * *
Pentagon sources said the Marine contingent that arrived Monday was intended solely to ensure the safety of embassy personnel and that the deployment did not portend a large-scale military intervention.
This past weekend, the U.S. State Department ordered the departure of all family members and nonemergency embassy personnel.
It is one of the biggest program cancellations in the Army's history and comes less than two years after the service's $11 billion Crusader artillery project was dropped after $2 billion had been spent.Analysis: This cancellation comes on the heels of heavy criticism about the amount of pork in the FY2005 Pentagon budget. It also reflects two sentiments within the American military and national security community: 1) America can't afford to spend massive amounts of money on current operations and big weapons programs, and 2) if the U.S. is going to invest in big weapons programs, they ought to be truly transformational -- not just an incremental improvement on existing capabilities. I couldn't agree more with the Army's decision here, both because I think the Comache didn't add much value to the Army's aviation capability and because I think the money is better spent on maintenance and recapitalization for the current helicopter fleet.
At a Pentagon (news - web sites) news conference, senior Army leaders said they would propose to Congress that $14.6 billion earmarked to develop and build 121 Comanches between now and 2011 be used instead to buy 796 additional Black Hawk and other helicopters and to upgrade and modernize 1,400 helicopters already in the fleet.
"It's a big decision, but we know it's the right decision," said Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff. He said the Army also will invest more heavily in a variety of unmanned aircraft, such as the existing Hunter and the new Raven.
The Comanche decision reflects a growing realization in the Pentagon that the military has more big-ticket weapons projects in the works than it can afford, even after seeing the Pentagon budget grow by tens of billions of dollars since 2001. And it reflects the rising popularity in recent years of unmanned aircraft for surveillance as well as attack missions.
The issue in Iraq is no longer Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction but the country's future and its soul. The neoconservative domino theory of democratic regime change is wrong: Democracy is spread not by proximity but a growing societal demand for the peaceful transfer of power and respect for inviolable civil rights. Unless these preconditions are met, elections merely mean one man, one vote, one time. For that reason, democracy cannot tolerate, much less coexist, with the disenfranchisement of women in Iraq or anywhere else.Analysis: So far, so good. It does make intuitive sense that we would want to establish equality as a fundamental principle of life in Iraq. This principle is an important part of American law, and though it wasn't always so, it is a good ideal to strive for. When an Iraqi Constitution is ultimately written, I hope that its Framers shape the document around principles like liberty and equality.
We can bequeath to Iraq mechanistic elections that lead to people freely choosing slavery or we can face the logic of our invasion of Iraq. Ironically, we invaded Iraq because we cared more for the fate and future of Iraqis than did any neighboring country. We cannot force anyone to enfranchise women, or even any subgroup of men, but the future of the Middle East, and of Islam, lies with the women of that region and that religion. Neither the religion nor the region will be the same if women are enfranchised and empowered.
* * *
We invaded Iraq to break the back of Islamic fundamentalism in other countries but that means recognizing, as a matter of policy, that women are half the species, both of our own nation and of the nations we are dealing with.
... some projects from retired Adm. John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness effort were transferred to U.S. intelligence offices, congressional, federal and research officials told The Associated Press.Analysis: In addition to these quasi-TIA projects moving forward, there are two conceptually-similar projects that are moving forward under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security and several state governments respectively. They're not as powerful (or threatening, to some) as TIA, but they share a lot of the same technologies and concepts. The first is CAPPS II, or the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System which will sort airline passengers into levels of risk. The second is MATRIX, an interstate information sharing system designed to support state and local law enforcement and anti-terrorism work. These two projects aren't in the conceptual stage -- they're almost ready for implementation. (See this speech by Asst. AG Deborah Daniels for more on TIA-like projects in the works right now.)
In addition, Congress left undisturbed a separate but similar $64 million research program run by a little-known office called the Advanced Research and Development Activity, or ARDA, that has used some of the same researchers as Poindexter's program.
"The whole congressional action looks like a shell game," said Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks work by U.S. intelligence agencies. "There may be enough of a difference for them to claim TIA was terminated while for all practical purposes the identical work is continuing."
* * *
Disturbed by the privacy implications, Congress last fall closed Poindexter's office, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and barred the agency from continuing most of his research. Poindexter quit the government and complained that his work had been misunderstood.
The work, however, did not die.
In killing Poindexter's office, Congress quietly agreed to continue paying to develop highly specialized software to gather foreign intelligence on terrorists.
In a classified section summarized publicly, Congress added money for this software research to the "National Foreign Intelligence Program," without identifying openly which intelligence agency would do the work.
It said, for the time being, products of this research could only be used overseas or against non-U.S. citizens in this country, not against Americans on U.S. soil.
Congressional officials would not say which Poindexter programs were killed and which were transferred. People with direct knowledge of the contracts told the AP that the surviving programs included some of 18 data-mining projects known in Poindexter's research as Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery.