Saturday, August 27, 2011

Not to mention the human cost all around…

Update: U.S. Casualties in the Current Wars

By Michael Munk
Beaver County Peace Links

US military occupation forces in Iraq and Afganistan and attacking forces in Libya under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 136 combat casualties in the week ending August 23, as the official casualty total rose to 108,261.

The total includes 78,883 casualties since the US invaded Iraq in March, 2003 (Operations "Iraqi Freedom" and "New Dawn"), and 29,378 since the US invaded Afganistan in November, 2001 (Operation "Eduring Freedom").and none reported since it attacked Libya (Operation "Odessy Dawn") in March, 2011.

IRAQ THEATER: US forces suffered two combat casualties in the week ending August 23, as the total rose to 78,883. That includes 35,699 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and 43,184 dead and medically evacuated (as of Aug. 1) from "non-hostile" causes.

AFGANISTAN THEATER: US forces suffered 134 combat casualties in the week ending Aug 23 as the official total rose to 29,378. The total includes 14,821 dead and wounded from "hostile" causes and 14,557 dead and medically evacuated (as of Aug. 1) from "non-hostile" causes.

LIBYA THEATER:Two air force officers in a downed F-15E were rescued with minor injuries which were not listed as casualties, but several Libyans were wounded by US fire in their rescue. Reports indicate US aircraft no longer fly combat missions over Libya, but focus on refeuling, survaillance and offshore missile launches.

US media divert attention from the actual cost in American life and limb by only reporting regularily the total killed (6,214 - 4,477 in Iraq,1,737 in Afghanistan) but rarely mentioning those wounded in action (45,622--32,175 in Iraq, 13,447 in Afghanistan). They ignore the 56,425 (42,231 in Iraq,14,194 in AfPak as of Aug 1) military casualties injured and ill seriously enough to be medivaced out of theater, even though the 6,214 total dead include 1,316 (953 in Iraq, 363 in Afghanistan) who died from those same "non hostile" causes, including 293 suicides (as of Aug. 1) and at least 18 in Iraq from faulty KBR electrical work.

WIA are usually updated on Tuesday at

Non combat casualties are usually reported monthly at

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Money for War vs. Money for Jobs

True Cost of US Wars Unknown

By Nancy A. Youssef
Beaver County Peace Links via McClatchy Newspapers

The Pentagon says it spends about $9.7 billion per month, but its cryptic accounting system hides the true price tag of the two wars.

Aug 16, 2011 - When congressional cost-cutters meet later this year to decide on trimming the federal budget, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could represent juicy targets. But how much do the wars actually cost the US taxpayer?

Nobody really knows.

Yes, Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. There are long Pentagon spreadsheets that outline how much of that was spent on personnel, transportation, fuel and other costs. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1 trillion price tag.

But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the United States $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American.

Lawmakers remain sharply divided over the wisdom of slashing the military budget, even with the United States winding down two long conflicts, but there's also a more fundamental problem: It's almost impossible to pin down just what the US military spends on war.

To be sure, the costs are staggering.

According to Defense Department figures, by the end of April the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - including everything from personnel and equipment to training Iraqi and Afghan security forces and deploying intelligence-gathering drones - had cost an average of $9.7 billion a month, with roughly two-thirds going to Afghanistan. That total is roughly the entire annual budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.

To compare, it would take the State Department - with its annual budget of $27.4 billion - more than four months to spend that amount. NASA could have launched its final shuttle mission in July, which cost $1.5 billion, six times for what the Pentagon is allotted to spend each month in those two wars.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Taxes for More Wars?

Scrambled Brains in High Places

Photo: Wasted War Junk in Iraq

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

Members of Congress had best be careful. If it hasn't already done so, the 'deficit madness' virus circulating in those hallowed halls will turn your brains into scrambled eggs.

That's the conclusion to draw from the latest bright idea from Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass) reported in the Aug 16 Washington Post-a new tax surcharge on taxpayers across the board to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"These wars ought to be paid for and not put on a credit card so that our kids will have to pay for this in the future," McGovern said in a recent telephone interview. It's morally wrong for members [of Congress] to call for support of our soldiers and then not ask the rest of us to pay for it .?.?. or have it left to the poor and middle-income and seniors to bear the sacrifice along with our soldiers and their families. That's wrong."

McGovern wants the 'Super-Congress' Deficit Commission to take it up.

Only the last phrase about putting the burden on the poor contains any sense, especially since the overall costs, not to mention lives lost on all sides, is approaching $3 trillion. The rest is just screwy.

But I have a better idea. First, end the wars immediately, and only allocate enough money to get all our troops and contractors back home lickety-split. Second, pass a bill to pick up the tab by doing away with the oil depletion allowances and all other tax breaks on the oil companies. If that's not enough, put a tax on transfers of oil stocks and the profits of military contractors. And if they try to jack up the price of gasoline to cover their war expenses, nationalize them. After all, they're the only ones really benefiting from these foreign policy disasters.

Once that's out of the way, we can turn to the more strategic solution: a job creating financial transaction tax on all Wall Street gambling to fund the clean energy and green manufacturing revolution we need to move away from fossil fuels altogether. There are all sorts of places to begin, from 'shovel-ready' low-skilled jobs repairing the locks and dams on our rivers, to higher skilled jobs building and installing county-owned wind and solar generators as public power utilities.

In short, 'Jobs, Not War!' and 'Windmills, Not Weapons' are much better alternatives every which way than more taxes to pay for more wars. Back to the drawing board, Congressman McGovern.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Afghan War Weekly, Aug 9, 2011

From United for Peace and Justice

The violence continued in Afghanistan this week, with the crash of a US Chinook helicopter that killed 38 people as one of the most-reported stories. However, it was far from the only violent incident this week. The week saw both military and civilian casualties from several incidents around the region. Additionally, Afghans were faced with floods in some regions, and also with droughts and food shortages in other regions. Meanwhile, there have been ongoing trials of some US troops accused of killing unarmed civilians in Afghanistan, along with reports that 9/11 might have been foiled, and ongoing discussion of the legacy of US involvement in Afghanistan.

Violence in Afghanistan

Helicopter Crash In Afghanistan Takes Deadly Toll

31 American troops and 7 Afghans were killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan, the highest number of casualties in a single incident since the US-led war in Afghanistan began in 2001.

SEALs' copter downed by 'lucky shot,' U.S. says

The Chinook helicopter that crashed and killed 38 people was likely brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by an insurgent, according to US military investigators.

2 NATO soldiers killed as Afghan violence flares

One NATO service member was killed by a gunman disguised as an Afghan police officer, and another was killed in an insurgent attack elsewhere in the same region on August 4.

Monday, August 8, 2011

When ‘Military Cuts’ Are Deceiving

Get Ready to Rumble for Jobs,

Not War and More Weapons

By Judith Le Blanc
Beaver County Peace Links via

Something is missing in the swirl of news reporting on the debt ceiling deal struck on August 2 by the Congress and the President for close to $1 trillion in cuts in discretionary programs over the next decade.

Will the 56% of discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon take a hit in the name of deficit reduction?

The short answer is not necessarily, not unless we are ready to rumble.

Even the Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain have no idea what the deal does to the Pentagon budget.

The cruel irony is the debt ceiling deal exempts spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though war costs are one of the biggest factors driving up the national debt by over a trillion dollars.

Caps have been set for 'security and non security' spending. The cuts will follow. The security category lumps together the Pentagon with the State Department, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and nuclear weapons systems.

Right now cuts to the Pentagon budget are not guaranteed. It is threat. Without a grassroots rumble the ax won't fall on the Pentagon or weapons of mass destruction, it will land on veteran's benefits or diplomatic efforts.

It's a fight, not a discussion.

The military budget has doubled in the last 13 years. Up until now there has been a bottomless till for weapons and wars. Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of Defense under President Reagan, says, "in real or inflation adjusted dollars it is higher than at any time since World War II, including the Korean and Vietnam wars and the height of the Reagan buildup."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unexpected Outcomes: Why Drones Are a Bad Idea

Hint: Poor Armies Can Make Them, Too


The DIY Terminator: Private Robot Armies

And The Algorithm-Run Future Of War

By Greg Lindsay via Fast Company


1. Attack Of The Drones

Last month, NATO’s commanders in Libya went with caps-in-hand to the Pentagon to ask for reconnaissance help in the form of more Predator drones. “It’s getting more difficult to find stuff to blow up,” a senior NATO officer complained [1] to The Los Angeles Times. The Libyan rebels’ envoy in Washington had already made a similar request. “We can't get rid of [Qaddafi] by throwing eggs at him,” the envoy told the newspaper.

The Pentagon told both camps it would think about it, citing the need for drones in places like Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, where Predator strikes have killed dozens this month alone. So why doesn’t NATO or the rebels do what Cote d’Ivoire’s Air Force, Mexican police, and college student peacekeepers have done--buy, rent, or build drones of their own? The development of deadly hardware and software is leading to a democratization of war tech, which could soon mean that every army--private or national--has battalions of automated soldiers at their command.

“Drones are essentially flying--and sometimes armed--computers,” the Brookings Institution noted in a paper [2] published last month. They’re robots who follow the curve of Moore’s Law rather than the Pentagon’s budgets, rapidly evolving in performance since the Predator’s 2002 debut while falling in price to the point where Make magazine recently carried instructions on how to launch your own satellite for $8,000.

“You have high school kids competing in robotics competitions with equipment that 10 years ago would have been considered military-grade,” says Peter W. Singer [3], author of Wired for War and a senior fellow at Brookings, who predicts robots on the battlefield will be a paradigm-shifting “revolution in military affairs.”