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Author: TriSec    Date: 03/24/2015 10:15:42

Good Morning.

Today is our 278th day back in Iraq.

There have been no new casualties in either theatre.

And so, we find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 613, 288, 225, 000 .00



We'll head over to Afghanistan to start today. A few months back, it seemed that the end was in sight, and we even stopped tracking the days of our involvement here. But now it seems all for naught; that December 2015 deadline to get most of the troops home is on the verge of extension for another two years now.


The United States assured Afghanistan's leaders on Monday it would keep funding Afghan security forces at a targeted peak level of 352,000 personnel at least into 2017 to provide stability as foreign troops withdraw from the country.

The announcement by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter came ahead of talks at the White House on Tuesday at which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is expected to press his case for a slowing of the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

After a day of talks at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David, Carter, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan leaders were at pains to avoid getting ahead of the White House talks, at which Obama is expected to respond to Ghani's plea.

However, in response to a question at a joint news conference, Kerry said, "Its our knowledge that President Obama is actively considering that request."

Ghani replaced Hamid Karzai as Afghan president last year and enjoys a much smoother relationship with Washington.

Earlier on Monday, he delivered an address to U.S. soldiers and military families at the Pentagon and sought to reassure Americans of the value of their sacrifice in lives lost and money spent in the battle against al Qaeda and other extremists in more than 13 years of war in Afghanistan.

Noting that more than 2,215 Americans had been killed and 20,000 wounded, he said, "Each one of you has left a legacy, but I also understand that Afghanistan has marked you."

Ghani's words of gratitude marked a sharp contrast with Karzai, who left office last year accusing the United States of inflicting a war on his country that intensified with the drawdown of U.S. forces.

With a more friendly partner in Ghani, U.S. officials acknowledge that conditions have changed since May when Obama declared that by the end of 2015 the U.S. force would be roughly halved from the current total of about 10,000 and would operate only from bases in Kabul and Bagram.

The U.S. military has been drawing up revised options and a senior U.S. official told Reuters last week the U.S. military bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad were likely to remain open beyond the end of 2015.


So of course we remain at war with Eastasia, as we always have been. But that's not the only place where we've always been at war. Even though the active fighting has stopped in the deserts of Mesopotamia, there's still a call for arms in that region. But it's not the military this time - now there's a call for more mercenaries, or "contractors" as they prefer to be called. Apparently, every US soldier at war requires 3 civilians to support him, if the ratios in the story are to be believed.


The Department of Defense only has about 250 civilian contractors in Iraq supporting the 2,700 US troops deployed there; but a handful of new solicitations and potential contracts may soon add to that number, according to items posted to a federal contracting Web site.

For the past two decades, the resource-heavy American way of war has dictated that where US troops go, civilian contractors follow. It's a way of doing business that has become ingrained in the Pentagon's culture as end strength has slowly been whittled away while global commitments show no sign of slackening.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have doubled down on the practice, with the number of contractors more than doubling the number of uniformed personnel on the ground at various points over the past decade.

And it's a trend that continues in Afghanistan, where the 10,000 US troops there are dwarfed by the 39,600 contractors supporting their training and advising mission, 14,200 of which are American citizens.

In Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said in an email, DoD contractors are tightly focused in their activities, "primarily performing translator/interpreter, communications, logistics, and maintenance functions."

Overall, there are about 5,000 mainly State Department contractors in Iraq which represents a relatively modest footprint as compared to previous years, where there were over 160,000 during the height of the fighting. There are also 54,000 civilian contractors working across the Middle East for US Central Command.


Finally, if you read this space on Saturday, we had a comparison of military cost overruns, and the difference between caring for veterans and buying new military hardware. (You can guess where the outrage is.) But there's more to add to that cost of war reported every week at the top of this page. Fighting ISIS isn't cheap, even though we only do it with aircraft and drones at this time.


The cost of the U.S. campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has passed $2.4 billion since President Obama authorized sending U.S. forces to the region last June, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Currently, the U.S. has 2,875 troops in Iraq, and U.S. warplanes have conducted a total of 2,893 airstrikes that have hit 5,314 targets since bombing began last Aug. 8, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The cost of the campaign through March 12 was $1.83 billion, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. He also noted that the daily costs had escalated significantly to about $8.5 million daily, up from about $1 million daily last summer. The daily costs through March 19 would put the total at more than $2.4 billion.

The Pentagon statistics on Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed that the airstrikes had destroyed 73 tanks, 282 Humvees, 85 armored personnel carriers, 47 artillery pieces and more than 1,000 technical and miscellaneous vehicles.

At least 58 boats were also destroyed. ISIS is known to use small boats to ferry supplies on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

The Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve has put a premium on hitting ISIS infrastructure, and the list showed that the airstrikes had destroyed nearly 1,500 buildings used by the terror group in Iraq and Syria for communications, supplies, logistics and command and control.


I should say something pithy about the only declared candidate for President at this time, but I can only say this - they sure do love war, don't they?

36 comments (Latest Comment: 03/24/2015 22:07:48 by Raine)
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Comment by Mondobubba on 03/24/2015 12:46:14
Good morning! I just got done listening to a dude I effing hate. I have to listen to two more of his calls a little later. I want to drown him in the harbor in Halifax.

Comment by wickedpam on 03/24/2015 12:54:34
Morning

Comment by wickedpam on 03/24/2015 13:09:17
WTF The Mic - you moved Steph?!!!!!

Comment by wickedpam on 03/24/2015 13:12:53
Is Steph not live today?

Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 13:14:04
Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 13:16:14
Quote by wickedpam:
Is Steph not live today?

She's live here in FSTV.
TRy her website or Chicago station.

Comment by wickedpam on 03/24/2015 13:18:12
Quote by Raine:
Quote by wickedpam:
Is Steph not live today?

She's live here in FSTV.
TRy her website or Chicago station.


Is she talking Dick Shock?

Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 13:18:18
good morning!

WTF Isreal?

I heard about this on the radio this morning.

Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 13:23:18
Quote by Raine:
good morning!

WTF Isreal?

I heard about this on the radio this morning.

Does anyone else think that the spying excuse is just a cover for the GOP deliberately leaking state secrets to Israel?

Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 13:32:40
Quote by Scoopster:
Quote by Raine:
good morning!

WTF Isreal?

I heard about this on the radio this morning.

Does anyone else think that the spying excuse is just a cover for the GOP deliberately leaking state secrets to Israel?
I don't know. HEre is the Telgraph UK story on it. (I can't get behind the WSJ paywall for the story here in the USA)


Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 13:47:40
And again, taking intel from a foreign power with the express intent of using it to sabotage US foreign policy to help the foreign power? There’s a term for that, and it’s not a pretty word.


Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 13:48:59
Quote by Raine:
(I can't get behind the WSJ paywall for the story here in the USA)

I learned a handy-dandy trick to get around the paywall. Apparently if you google the story's headline and follow the search result link it displays.

Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 14:02:59
Quote by Scoopster:
Quote by Raine:
(I can't get behind the WSJ paywall for the story here in the USA)

I learned a handy-dandy trick to get around the paywall. Apparently if you google the story's headline and follow the search result link it displays.

oOo thank you!


Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 14:03:19
Quote by Scoopster:
And again, taking intel from a foreign power with the express intent of using it to sabotage US foreign policy to help the foreign power? There’s a term for that, and it’s not a pretty word.





Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2015 14:30:09
Hi all.

WFH today - I just had my annual scan. No felines were found.

But then I won't see the results for a couple of days anyway.



Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2015 14:33:33
Comment by Will in Chicago on 03/24/2015 16:07:20
Hi, everyone! Sorry that I am so late, but I had things to do here. (Taking a break to eat before more spring cleaning.)

I am disappointed in the Likud allying with the GOP. I don't think that Bibi Netanyahu should have passed on intelligence nor that the GOP should have received it.

I suspect that Bibi will find that the right wing government he wants to put together will not succeed in addressing the economic and security issues of the Israeli people. So, perhaps we will see the Israeli Center and Left parties talk more about peace.

By the way, related to the blog, Jon Stewart slams Congress for not funding veterans' programs.

Comment by Will in Chicago on 03/24/2015 16:09:07
Raine, you asked yesterday on how the job was going. I posted but will say again that it is going well.

I put together the first student newspaper last week. I am waiting on three letters of reference. I plan to do a lot of job hunting once I get them, particularly out East. (I will have to figure out how to move and where to stay (may need to borrow a couch for a while), but Alpha Centauri would be an option for work if I could get there.)

Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 17:00:50
Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) is retiring.

Early chatter is a comeback by Evan Bayh (ugh..)

Comment by Will in Chicago on 03/24/2015 17:06:09
Quote by Scoopster:
Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) is retiring.

Early chatter is a comeback by Evan Bayh (ugh..)



I don't like Bayh as he is a very conservative Democrat. However, except for Northwest Indiana, Bloomington, Indianapolis and a few other places, Indiana is a red state At least Bayh would support a Democrate as Senate Majority leader

Also related to the state that I hope to relocate from, 4 shot and killed 'execution style' in Indianapolis home.

Comment by Mondobubba on 03/24/2015 17:39:47
Quote by TriSec:
Boston won't be getting the Olympics now.

Mob rule, Y'all!



Are they sure they really want them?



Comment by Mondobubba on 03/24/2015 17:43:16
Quote by Mondobubba:
Quote by TriSec:
Boston won't be getting the Olympics now.

Mob rule, Y'all!





Are they sure they really want them?



List of demands from IOC.

They demand to meet the king prior to the opening ceremony. Afterwards, there shall be a cocktail reception. Drinks shall be paid for by the Royal Palace or the local organizing committee.
Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation.
A welcome greeting from the local Olympic boss and the hotel manager should be presented in IOC members' rooms, along with fruit and cakes of the season. (Seasonal fruit in Oslo in February is a challenge ...)
The hotel bar at their hotel should extend its hours “extra late” and the minibars must stock Coke products.
The IOC president shall be welcomed ceremoniously on the runway when he arrives.
The IOC members should have separate entrances and exits to and from the airport.
During the opening and closing ceremonies a fully stocked bar shall be available. During competition days, wine and beer will do at the stadium lounge.
IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times.
The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics."


Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 18:21:45
Quote by Mondobubba:
Quote by Mondobubba:
Quote by TriSec:
Boston won't be getting the Olympics now.

Mob rule, Y'all!





Are they sure they really want them?



List of demands from IOC.

They demand to meet the king prior to the opening ceremony. Afterwards, there shall be a cocktail reception. Drinks shall be paid for by the Royal Palace or the local organizing committee.
Separate lanes should be created on all roads where IOC members will travel, which are not to be used by regular people or public transportation.
A welcome greeting from the local Olympic boss and the hotel manager should be presented in IOC members' rooms, along with fruit and cakes of the season. (Seasonal fruit in Oslo in February is a challenge ...)
The hotel bar at their hotel should extend its hours “extra late” and the minibars must stock Coke products.
The IOC president shall be welcomed ceremoniously on the runway when he arrives.
The IOC members should have separate entrances and exits to and from the airport.
During the opening and closing ceremonies a fully stocked bar shall be available. During competition days, wine and beer will do at the stadium lounge.
IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
Meeting rooms shall be kept at exactly 20 degrees Celsius at all times.
The hot food offered in the lounges at venues should be replaced at regular intervals, as IOC members might “risk” having to eat several meals at the same lounge during the Olympics."
the IOC is really out of control — I know it always been a mess, but you would think that they would learn.

Comment by livingonli on 03/24/2015 18:24:04
Another day, another nickel (or something like that).

Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 18:29:48
Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 18:41:59
Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2015 19:01:20
Well, another of the many benefits of working from home is I can add a splash of *something* to my 3pm cuppa.



Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 19:19:17
Quote by TriSec:
Well, another of the many benefits of working from home is I can add a splash of *something* to my 3pm cuppa.




Comment by Mondobubba on 03/24/2015 19:55:12



Um Scoop, since GenCon is owned by owned by Wizards of the Coast (it came to them when they bought TSR from Gygax etc) it is based in Seatle. They moved it from Lake Geneva (that's the Gen in GenCon) to Indy. You have been out-nerded!

http://0.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/82/61/f5657ea6e8a5225a9c0c692817d5bf5c-micdrop07.gif



:takes a mighty huff of +5 inhaler of geekiness:

Comment by Scoopster on 03/24/2015 20:02:46
Quote by Mondobubba:


Um Scoop, since GenCon is owned by owned by Wizards of the Coast (it came to them when they bought TSR from Gygax etc) it is based in Seatle. They moved it from Lake Geneva (that's the Gen in GenCon) to Indy. You have been out-nerded!

http://0.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/82/61/f5657ea6e8a5225a9c0c692817d5bf5c-micdrop07.gif


:takes a mighty huff of +5 inhaler of geekiness:

Did you think I didn't -know- this?

I've already had to tell a few of my gaming friends that moving GenCon back up to like Milwaukee wouldn't work because Wisconsin has become Mississippi.

Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2015 20:26:00
Pix now circulating on Buzzfeed from today's crash site. Damn, they sure piled it in.

Pure speculation from your resident av-dork....essentially an 8-minute CFIT? I'm suspecting pressurization issues. The plane was cruising at FL38 before it started what appears to be an emergency descent to around 6500, then they ran out of altitude.

Yeesh.



Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 20:43:23



Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 20:45:22
Quote by TriSec:
Pix now circulating on Buzzfeed from today's crash site. Damn, they sure piled it in.

Pure speculation from your resident av-dork....essentially an 8-minute CFIT? I'm suspecting pressurization issues. The plane was cruising at FL38 before it started what appears to be an emergency descent to around 6500, then they ran out of altitude.

Yeesh.

If you had to ask me there is know way I would have known.

CBS news reported that the plane just had its yearly inspection this week.


Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 21:29:01
Comment by Raine on 03/24/2015 22:07:48
Our friend Madeline got to interview Bill Nye at the WH science fair!


I swear, these kids make all of look like serious slackers!