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Posts in "War"
August 21, 2014
President Barack Obama sent a tough message after an American journalist was murdered by the extremist group, Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), but the actions that the administration will take in response to the murder, and the timeline for them, are still not fully known.
But what are his options? Many of them range from vague to unlikely.
August 13, 2014
When Iraq popped up this week as an issue in the Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst based on her comments about troop levels in recent years, it marked something rare: an occasion where a national security debate surfaced in the 2014 elections for purely national security reasons.
Despite a whole host of places around the globe where security is a rising topic in the news — Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Russia — defense and foreign policy has largely been on the sidelines in congressional races. Even when it has been debated, it has usually been for other reasons, such as how it reflects on President Barack Obama’s performance. But because of that, and more, national security could still play a role in the 2014 elections.
August 11, 2014
It’s a week that’s heavy in the middle with defense and national security-related events. Full story
August 6, 2014
Just before Congress left for recess last week, it did something rare: It worked across the aisle to quickly clear legislation that filled what the Obama administration had declared an urgent need: authorization of 1,000 additional special visas to bring over Afghan citizens who helped the United States during the war there.
But the number of so-called Special Immigrant Visas only tell part of the story. The way they are processed has also raised questions.
Three years after the United States went to war in Afghanistan, an 18-year-old Afghan man who goes by the nickname “Outback” decided to become an interpreter for the U.S. Armed Forces. He had some insight into that world since his brother, Humayoun, 31, had started working as a translator in 2003. But neither of them expected to leave Afghanistan because of their jobs.
After receiving death threats for working with the U.S. military, Humayoun applied for a Special Immigrant Visa in 2006. He had to leave Kabul for his safety and changed his cell phone number numerous times. Gunmen shot dead his friend’s father inside his home. Humayoun eventually received his visa. Now Outback is trying to come to the United States, too — unsuccessfully so far.
The tale of these two siblings signifies one of the lesser-discussed casualties of a decade of war: how vulnerable are Afghan citizens who helped the United States , and how hard it has been for many of them to get protective assistance from the U.S. government. Full story
July 31, 2014
July 24, 2014
Leaders in Pakistan have declared it of late, both publicly and privately: The country is going after all militants, even the Haqqani network, an organization that U.S. military officials have deemed a de facto arm of the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI.
Some have raised doubts about whether that’s actually happening, though, pointing to evidence that Haqqani network militants have merely shifted elsewhere, with the complicity of Pakistan. A senior Pakistani official insisted Thursday that Pakistan wants the Haqqani network destroyed, but that to a certain degree it’s in the hands of Afghanistan, NATO and the United States. Full story
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., feuded with the administration over a $6 billion sale of Apache helicopters to Iraq earlier this year, when he played a key role in blocking the deal for a while. On Thursday, he threatened that he might hold up potential future deals — but for a slightly different reason this time. Full story
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno is suggesting the use of surrogates — like the kind Russia is leaning on in Ukraine — could be the future of warfare. Full story
July 23, 2014
A State official offered a dire assessment Wednesday about the growing power of the group in Iraq that calls itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL): “It’s no longer a terrorist group,” said the department’s deputy assistant secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. “It’s a full-blown army.”
July 21, 2014
There were two developments Monday meant to ensure visas for Afghans and Iraqis who helped the United States in wars in those countries: 1., the announcement of a lawsuit filed by an Iraqi who served as a translator but has been waiting more than two years on his visa; and 2. the introduction of a bipartisan bill to boost the number of Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) available to Afghan civilians who served in a similar role. Full story
Taxpayers for Common Sense found fault with the House’s fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill, and the group now has its share of gripes with the Senate’s $549.7 billion version, too, for spending money on programs the Defense Department doesn’t want and adding money beyond what the Obama administration requested. Full story
Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts will be at the White House on Monday to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. His story is both heroic and a tale of missteps by superiors, as he fought to fend off a wave of insurgents in Afghanistan in a patrol base in the bloody Battle of Wanat, all while badly wounded by shrapnel himself. Obama is awarding more Medals of Honor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than his predecessor, but the process has become slower.
The week’s offerings also include a confirmation hearing for a new leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a review of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Commission report and discussions on the cyber threat, the shape of U.S. Combatant Commands, Iraq and the Navy budget. Full story
July 17, 2014
A nomination hearing Thursday for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. to take command of the Marine Corps spent most of its time focusing on his current job as commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan. He backed the Afghanistan withdrawal plan as different from what happened in Iraq, where the Obama administration is encountering a lot of second guessing based on the chaos there — but he also gave some fuel to critics of the president’s plan in Afghanistan. Full story
Each war brings with it unique injuries and health afflictions for those who fight. For Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices have led to extensive traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs.
But those wounds aren’t the beginning and end of the kind of health problems this generation of the military is facing. Among those singled out by a Senate report: skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders. Full story
July 16, 2014
Across the political spectrum — among anti-war liberals, among conservative budget hawks — there are those who argue that the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations account is simply a “slush fund” that needs to go away already, or at least be chopped down further, with the Iraq War officially over and the Afghanistan War on course to do the same.
One expert hailing from the conservative side of the spectrum is making the case that President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 request for the account is just right. Full story