Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In memoriam
Seven members of the 4th Infantry Division died yesterday in a fiery Blackhawk crash in Texas, near the Ironhorse division's home base of Fort Hood. I had the good fortune to know and work for Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen when he was the DIVARTY commander and I was a division planner. He was a great American. I also knew one of the helicopter pilots, Chief Warrant Officer 2 David H. Gardner, and I mourn for his loss too, along with the other five soldiers on board the helicopter. Here are the names of the fallen men:
Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, 49, the assistant division commander (support) of the 4th Infantry Division. Allen, who was born in Alaska and listed his home of record as Oklahoma, had entered the Army in May 1977 and received his initial training as a field artillery officer.

Col. James M. Moore, 47, the commander of the Division Support Command for the 4th Infantry Division. A native of Peabody, Mass., he had entered the Army in September 1980.

Capt. Todd. T. Christmas, 26, an air defense artillery officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. A native of New Mexico, he had entered the Army in August 2001.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas V. Clapp, 48, a senior automotive maintenance officer for the 4th Infantry Division. Clapp, who was born in Lebanon, Pa., and listed his home of record as Greensboro, N.C., had entered the Army in August 1974.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 David H. Gardner, Jr., 32, a helicopter pilot assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment. Gardner, who was born in Germany and listed Iowa as his home of record, had entered the Army in October 1992.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark W. Evans Jr., 27, a helicopter pilot assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment. Evans, who was born in Michigan and listed his home of record as Florida, had entered the Army in November 1995.

Spc. Richard L. Brown, 29, a helicopter mechanic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Division. Brown was born in Kansas and listed Stonewall, La., as his home of record.

Source: III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs Office
The loss of life is always tragic, but especially so in peacetime, where something so prosaic as a TV tower can bring down a multi-million dollar aircraft, killing its crew and occupants. Some of these men had survived a year of combat duty in Iraq, so this incident seems even more tragic to me. Please join me in sending a prayer to their families, and remembering their service to our nation.

Intel Dump will resume publishing on Wednesday.

Monday, November 29, 2004

3rd Circuit allows law schools to boot military recruiters off campus
Court's ruling will allow law schools to enforce non-discrimination policy against military recruiters without fear of losing their federal funding

Howard Bashman reports that the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled in the case FAIR v. Rumsfeld for the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs had challenged the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, a federal law which conditions the receipt of federal funding for universities on those schools' allowance of military recruiters on campus. In its decision, a 2-1 majority of the 3rd Circuit said the law violated the law schools' First Amendment rights. Here's a brief excerpt from the opinion's conclusion:
The Solomon Amendment requires law schools to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives, and no compelling governmental interest has been shown to deny this freedom. While no doubt military lawyers are critical to the efficient operation of the armed forces, mere incantation of the need for legal talent cannot override a clear First Amendment impairment. Even were the test less rigorous than a compelling governmental riposte to the schools' rights under the First Amendment, failure nonetheless is foreordained at this stage, for the military fails to provide any evidence that its restrictions on speech are no more than required to further its interest in attracting good legal counsel.

In this context, the Solomon Amendment cannot condition federal funding on law schools' compliance with it. FAIR has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits and satisfies the other injunctive elements as well. We reverse and remand for the District Court to enter a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Solomon Amendment.
More to follow...
Weekend wrap-up II
Here are a few more stories from the Thanksgiving holiday weekend that caught my eye:
- Bradley Graham reported on the front page of Saturday's Washington Post that the recent offensive operations in Iraq had created a bow wave of detainees for the U.S. military detention infrastructure there. It's unclear whether the U.S. military has assigned a larger number of security personnel to detention operations, in order to preempt problems that might occur as the result of having too many detainees.
ABU GHRAIB, Iraq, Nov. 26 — More aggressive U.S. military operations in Iraq over the past two months have generated a surge in detainees, nearly doubling the number held by U.S. forces to about 8,300, according to the U.S. general in charge of detention operations.

Since early October, the number of detainees in U.S. custody has grown by about 4,000 as a result of assaults on insurgents in Samarra, Fallujah, Mosul, north Babil province and elsewhere, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller said Friday. With additional U.S. raids being planned as part of a stepped-up effort to crush the insurgency ahead of national elections in January, the number of detainees is expected to continue to grow in coming weeks.

The large influx of prisoners is putting stress on U.S. detention operations, providing the biggest test yet of new facilities and procedures adopted in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal this past spring, Miller and other officers said in interviews here. So far, the flow has been manageable, they said, but many detainees have not yet made it through the system.
- Tom Lasseter, a foreign correspondent in Iraq, has an amazing series on the battle for Fallujah that appears in a number of newspapers around the country. You can read part one and part two for free online in the Detroit Free Press, and find other parts of the series in other papers like the Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer. Definitely worth reading.

- Sunday's New York Times featured an interesting piece by Tim Weiner on the extent of Lockheed-Martin's penetration of the military contractor market. More generally, the piece demonstrates the increasing trend towards the use of private military contractors for a wide variety of functions previously reserved for U.S. military personnel. However, this trend has raised hackles among many who see contractors as less accountable than the military, and perhaps likely to substitute profit motives for public imperatives. According to Mr. Weiner:
Over the last decade, Lockheed, the nation's largest military contractor, has built a formidable information-technology empire that now stretches from the Pentagon to the post office. It sorts your mail and totals your taxes. It cuts Social Security checks and counts the United States census. It runs space flights and monitors air traffic. To make all that happen, Lockheed writes more computer code than Microsoft.

Of course, Lockheed, based in Bethesda, Md., is best known for its weapons, which are the heart of America's arsenal. It builds most of the nation's warplanes. It creates rockets for nuclear missiles, sensors for spy satellites and scores of other military and intelligence systems. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency might have difficulty functioning without the contractor's expertise.

But in the post-9/11 world, Lockheed has become more than just the biggest corporate cog in what Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. It is increasingly putting its stamp on the nation's military policies, too.

Lockheed stands at "the intersection of policy and technology," and that "is really a very interesting place to me," said its new chief executive, Robert J. Stevens, a tightly wound former Marine. "We are deployed entirely in developing daunting technology," he said, and that requires "thinking through the policy dimensions of national security as well as technological dimensions."

To critics, however, Lockheed's deep ties with the Pentagon raise some questions. "It's impossible to tell where the government ends and Lockheed begins," said Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit group in Washington that monitors government contracts. "The fox isn't guarding the henhouse. He lives there."

Related Posts:

  1. Weekend wrap-up II
  2. Weekend wrap-up I
Guardsmen gripe about training and equipment
In Friday's L.A. Times, Scott Gold reported on the gripes being lodged by members of the California Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, as they prepare for overseas deployment in New Mexico. According to one soldier, equipment and training were so bad that he predicted: "We are going to pay for this in blood." The shortages appear to be the same which affect nearly every reserve unit: night-vision goggles, old vehicles, inadequate ammunition allocations. But there also seem to be some larger deficits, like inadequate training before the mobilization order came.
The 680 soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment were activated in August and are preparing for deployment at Doña Ana, a former World War II prisoner-of-war camp 20 miles west of its large parent base, Ft. Bliss, Texas.

Members of the battalion, headquartered in Modesto, said in two dozen interviews that they were allowed no visitors or travel passes, had scant contact with their families and that morale was terrible.

"I feel like an inmate with a weapon," said Cpl. Jajuane Smith, 31, a six-year Guard veteran from Fresno who works for an armored transport company when not on active duty.

Several soldiers have fled Doña Ana by vaulting over rolls of barbed wire that surround the small camp, the soldiers interviewed said. Others, they said, are contemplating going AWOL, at least temporarily, to reunite with their families for Thanksgiving.

Army commanders said the concerns were an inevitable result of the decision to shore up the strained military by turning "citizen soldiers" into fully integrated, front-line combat troops. About 40% of the troops in Iraq are either reservists or National Guard troops.

* * *
The Guard troops in New Mexico said they wanted more sophisticated training and better equipment. They said they had been told, for example, that the vehicles they would drive in Iraq would not be armored, a common complaint among their counterparts already serving overseas.

They also said the bulk of their training had been basic, such as first aid and rifle work, and not "theater-specific" to Iraq. They are supposed to be able to use night-vision goggles, for instance, because many patrols in Iraq take place in darkness. But one group of 200 soldiers trained for just an hour with 30 pairs of goggles, which they had to pass around quickly, soldiers said.

The soldiers said they had received little or no training for operations that they expected to undertake in Iraq, from convoy protection to guarding against insurgents' roadside bombs. One said he has put together a diary of what he called "wasted days" of training. It lists 95 days, he said, during which the soldiers learned nothing that would prepare them for Iraq.
Analysis: The irony in all this is that 1-184 Infantry is perhaps the best battalion in the California Army National Guard. It's part of a National Guard enhanced brigade, so it gets more resources than most Guard battalions. And as the sole air-assault, light infantry unit in the state, it typically attracts the most "Hooah" of the soldiers and leaders in the Guard. The fact that this unit is having problems indicates that something is rotten in the state of California... or at least in its Army National Guard.
Weekend wrap-up I
Here are a few stories I read over the weekend and missed writing about, but thought worth sharing after the holiday:
- Yochi Dreazen and Chris Cooper reported in Friday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that plans were underway to secure several critical Sunni areas of Iraq for January's election. The intensive security push appears designed to ensure maximum electoral access and minimal insurgent disruption, while also bolstering the legitimacy of the nascent Iraqi government and its ability to secure the people.
The success of planned elections in Iraq hinges on the ability of the U.S. and its Iraqi allies to accomplish a highly daunting task: securing and even starting to rebuild a string of battered cities and towns in the country's Sunni center.

But even as the U.S. pours money into rebuilding, the slow pace of earlier efforts underscores the challenge ahead.

Given that national elections are scheduled to be held in just two months, the U.S. is laying aggressive plans to move reconstruction funds to the politically sensitive region rapidly. U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte said the U.S. already has tried to start reconstruction efforts quickly in areas that have seen large-scale fighting. Among them: $200 million worth of projects that have been identified in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood and similar efforts in Najaf and Samarra, former insurgent strongholds in the so-called Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad.
But also see this article in today's WSJ by Mr. Dreazen and Jabbar Yasseen on the ethnic turmoil being stirred by the Jan. 30 election. According to the story: "The disagreement over whether Iraq should delay the vote for six months threatens to reopen many of the country's deepest sectarian divisions and resentments."

- Bryan Bender put together another report on the military overstretch problem in Friday's Boston Globe. This one focused on the strain felt by military families — something which has been particularly acute lately because of the long tours being served by U.S. units in Iraq.
The breakdown indicates that of the 955,609 members in the armed forces, including active-duty and reserve personnel, who have been deployed for operations in Afghanistan or the Persian Gulf region since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 303,987 have been sent overseas more than once.

The data, as of Sept. 30, demonstrate the extent to which the Afghanistan operation and larger Iraq mission have placed enormous strains on soldiers and their families and how the frequent deployments are threatening the Pentagon's ability to retain veteran soldiers in the future, according to military officials and specialists.

"Our research indicates that deployment is a big influence on people's commitments to military service," said Harold Weiss, a psychology professor and codirector of the Military Family Research Institute, a government-funded center at Purdue University that is conducting a study on how military deployments affect families.

"Both spouses and members are part of the decision-making process when a family decides to stay in the military," he added. "It's a family decision because the military is not a job; it is a life. Multiple deployments will make it harder to stay in the military."
- Scott Peterson sent in a dispatch from Fallujah for Friday's Christian Science Monitor on the continuing battle for the streets of Fallujah. Even though the majority of Iraqi insurgents appear to have been vanquished (killed, captured, wounded, driven out, etc.), pockets of resistance remain. These armed bandits pose a significant problem for reconstruction workers and relief agencies seeking to mend the wartorn city, as they typically carry fewer weapons (if any) and have less capacity to respond to insurgent attacks than infantry units. But as Mr. Peterson reports, even the infantrymen are finding themselves busy with the continuing counter-insurgent fight in Fallujah:
FALLUJAH, IRAQ - The four insurgents were heavily outnumbered and outgunned by US marines in Fallujah.
But armed with just assault rifles and grenades, the quartet locked an entire company in intense battle for hours, inflicting casualties in hand-to-hand combat and delivering a tough lesson for US forces as they deepen their hunt for an ephemeral and patient enemy that embraces martyrdom.

The climax of the firefight late Monday night could not have been more chaotic or more illuminating of the horrors of urban conflict.

When the team from Alpha Company finally entered the last redoubt of the insurgents - a burning house that had already been hammered by rockets, explosive charges, and tank rounds - they had every reason to believe any remaining gunmen were dead.

Instead, point man Lance Corp. Richard Caseras entered with his team and ran into the spray of an insurgent's AK-47 assault rifle. A second fighter then emerged, a pineapple grenade in each hand, with pins already pulled.

Eyeball to eyeball with their opponents, the marines shot them both dead; the grenades fell to the ground and exploded, blasting the Americans with shrapnel.
In my estimation, it will be weeks before all of these insurgents will be flushed out. And despite the cordon we've got on the city now, we will likely see continuing infiltration by insurgents who want to harass the reconstruction effort in Fallujah. More to follow...

Related Posts:

  1. Weekend wrap-up II
  2. Weekend wrap-up I
Standing by Ukraine
Matt Spence, a director of the Truman Project, an organization established to develop national security policy issues for the Democratic party, had an interesting op-ed in Sunday's L.A. Times Outlook section on the Ukranian election chaos. He makes an interesting argument for why we should care about the events in Kiev, and also for why we should use some perspective in evaluating them.
... No amount of Western assistance can substitute for people's willingness to risk their lives for freedom. Yet, when the opposition has few resources and faces creeping government harassment, Western assistance can and has made the difference.

This support comes in many subtle forms that we must continue: sponsoring more exit polls to undermine the government's attempts to falsify results; funding more nongovernmental organizations; and increasing attention from Western leaders to highlight the often life-threatening harassment of local journalists and civic activists.

Indeed, the international community's response to this election will powerfully shape Ukraine's trajectory for years. Western governments must continue to pressure the Ukrainian and Russian governments to accept only a full and fair accounting of the election results. This investment of diplomatic energy will create an environment for Western assistance to do more in the future.

But whatever occurs this week in Kiev, we must not forget what promoting democracy has achieved over the last decade. Americans are drawn to the idea that democracy is made with a dictator's downfall or a free election four years later. But the way we imagine democracy as a series of Kodak moments must give way to the reality that democracy promotion is about slow and steady progress, with inevitable setbacks and struggles along the way.
Learning about Al Qaeda 2.0
The New York University Center on Law & Security and the New America Foundation are sponsoring an incredible conference on Al Qaeda this week with some of the brightest minds in the policy, journalism and academic world on the subject, for anyone in D.C. The conference is titled "Al Qaeda 2.0" after a column authored by Peter Bergen, a New America fellow and author of Holy War, Inc., one of the best books on the terror network and one of the few Western journalists to have interviewed Osama Bin Laden. Here's their speaker lineup:
8:30 a.m. - al Qaeda 2.0: The current state of al-qaeda as an organization

Peter Bergen
Fellow, New America Foundation; terrorism analyst, CNN;
Adjunct Professor, School of Advanced Intl Studies, Johns Hopkins University and author, Holy War Inc.

Bruce Hoffman
Director, Washington Office and Senior Analyst, RAND Corporation and Author, Inside Terrorism

Steve Simon
Senior Analyst, RAND Corporation; former Senior Director for Transnational Threats, National Security Council; author, The Age of Sacred Terror

James Fallows
National Correspondent, Atlantic Monthly

10:00 a.m. - Who joins al-Qaeda?

Yosri Fouda
Lead Investigative Reporter, Al Jazeera Television Network, author,
Masterminds of Terror; In 2002, interviewed Khalid Sheik Muhammad, operational planner of 9/11.

Jessica Stern
Lecturer in Public Policy and Fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and faculty affiliate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, author, Terror in the Name of God.

Marc Sageman
Forensic psychiatrist, former CIA case officer, worked with the mujahideen in Islamabad from 1987-1989, author, Understanding Terror Networks.

Abdel Bari Atwan
Managing Editor, Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper and interviewer of Osama bin Laden

Peter Bergen
Fellow, New America Foundation; terrorism analyst, CNN and author, Holy War Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden

11:30 a.m. - al Qaeda in Europe: A Critical Background

Rohan Gunaratna
Director, Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore author, Inside Al Qaeda: A Global Network Terror

Ursula Mueller
Counterterrorism Expert; and
Minister, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States

Steven Clemons
Senior Fellow, New America Foundation

12:30 p.m. - Militant Islam: On the Wane or on the Rise?

Michael Scheuer (AKA, Anonymous)
Former chief of the CIA Counterterrorist Center's Bin Laden unit; and author, as Anonymous, of Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam & the Future of America

Salameh Nematt
Washington Bureau Chief, Al-Hayat newspaper

2:00 p.m. - The United States vs. Al-Qaeda: An Assessment

Daniel Benjamin
Senior Analyst, CSIS; former Director for Transnational Threats, National Security Council; author, The Age of Sacred Terror

Col. Pat Lang
Former Chief of Middle East Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency
Department of Defense

Reuel Gerecht
Director, Middle East Initiative, Project for the Next American Century; former Middle Eastern Specialist, Central Intelligence Agency; and former Political and Consular Officer, Department of State

Karen J. Greenberg
Executive Director, Center on Law and Security

3:15 p.m. - Al Qaeda's Media Strategy

Octavia Nasr
CNN Arab Affairs Senior Editor

Henry Schuster
CNN Senior Producer, author of the forthcoming book, Hunting Eric Rudolph

Paul Eedle
Founder, Out There News, former Middle East Correspondent, Reuters; and expert on al Qaeda's use of the Internet.

David Ignatius
Columnist, Washington Post; former Editor, International Herald Tribune

4:30 p.m. - The Real Twin Towers: Al Qaeda and its influence on Pakistan and Saudia Arabia

Hamid Mir
Anchor, GEO television, Pakistan; and author, forthcoming biography of Osama bin Laden; was the last journalist to interview bin Laden in October 2001.

Anatol Lieven
Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; author, America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism

Lawrence Wright
Author and New Yorker staff writer, author, "The Man Behind Bin Laden," which won the 2002 Overseas Press Club Award for best magazine reporting.

Arif Lalani
Director, South Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada

For more info, surf over to Steve Clemons' site The Washington Note, where he's got all the logistics and RSVP data you'll need. Seats are limited, so sign up fast.