Today is our 4,636th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,329
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,119
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through: $ 1, 542, 407, 425, 000 .00
There's a lot of stuff going on this week, not the least of which seems to be that we're going back to Iraq. Overnight, the President has sent 200 troops to our embassy in Baghdad, and is considering sending an additional 100 Special Forces soldiers as well
. But as reported just now on the news behind me..."Who's paying for this, Morris?"
So...let's talk a little bit about military equipment today. As we leave Afghanistan, there's the question of what to do with all our stuff. Considering the decade of war the we've fought there, there's an awful lot of military equipment lying around that could take years to get back home. Oh, the "good stuff" will come back quickly...planes fly out, small arms and artillery are easily transportable, and expensive things like tanks won't stay long. It's the vast mountain of "middle of the road" stuff like Humvees and other equipment that's going to be "abandoned in place". Then there's the curious vehicle called an "MRAP", or Mine Resistant Armored Personnel Carrier. You may be surprised to find one of these in your local police garage soon.
In a pole barn in Franklin, sharing space with a motorcycle and a boat, sat an imposing military vehicle designed for battlefields in Iraq or Afghanistan, not the streets of Johnson County.
It is an MRAP — a bulletproof, 60,000-pound, six-wheeled behemoth with heavy armor, a gunner’s turret and the word “SHERIFF” emblazoned on its flank — a vehicle whose acronym stands for “mine resistant, ambush protected.”
“We don’t have a lot of mines in Johnson County,” confessed sheriff Doug Cox, who acquired the vehicle. “My job is to make sure my employees go home safe.”
Johnson County is one of eight Indiana law enforcement agencies to acquire MRAPs from military surplus since 2010, according to public records obtained by The Indianapolis Star. The vehicles are among a broad array of 4,400 items — everything from coats to computers to high-powered rifles — acquired by police and sheriff departments across the state.
Law enforcement officials, especially those from agencies with small budgets, say they’re turning to military surplus equipment to take advantage of bargains and protect police officers. The MRAP has an added benefit, said Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer, whose department also acquired one: “It’s a lot more intimidating than a Dodge.”
Even in Pulaski County, population 13,124, a more military approach to law enforcement is needed these days, Gayer suggested.
“The United States of America has become a war zone,” he said. “There’s violence in the workplace, there’s violence in schools and there’s violence in the streets. You are seeing police departments going to a semi-military format because of the threats we have to counteract. If driving a military vehicle is going to protect officers, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
But, to some, the introduction of equipment designed for war in Fallujah, Iraq, to the streets of U.S. towns and cities raises questions about the militarization of civilian police departments. Will it make police inappropriately aggressive? Does it blur the line between civilian police and the military?
“Americans should ... be concerned unless they want their main streets patrolled in ways that mirror a war zone,” wrote Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., co-author of a USA Today article earlier this year. “We recognize that we’re not in Kansas anymore, but are MRAPs really needed in small-town America?”
But given the number of folks getting shot simply going about their daily business, I suppose local law enforcement has a point - it is a war zone here now, isn't it?
Next, we'll take a brief visit with the family of our only POW. An investigation is now beginning into the circumstances of his capture, and Mr. Bergdahl himself is back in the USA and is still recovering from his ordeal. But his family has yet to have any meaningful contact with him. The melodrama that this has become is still expanding, and I suppose one must consider his family to be casualties in this incident as well
. But that's our GOP; who cares what the collateral damage is, we've got political hay to make here!
The former pastor of the parents of a soldier released from Taliban captivity after almost five years said Friday they have been hurt by allegations that he was a traitor and by the outpouring of anger toward their family.
“They have been really hurt,” said Pastor Phil Proctor of Sterling Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Virginia. “They’re trying to keep their heads down.”
Proctor said Bob and Jani Bergdahl were surprised by interviews they have seen with former platoon mates of their son Bowe Bergdahl. Some of the soldiers told media outlets they didn’t support the exchange of five Taliban officials that led to his freedom.
“This very much hit them as a shock and I’m not sure anybody’s got the full story,” said Proctor, who is urging prayer and compassion for the family.
Proctor said the Bergdahls, who live in Idaho, have yet to speak with their son, who is currently recovering at a military hospital in Germany.
Bob Bergdahl, who has a full beard and spoke briefly in Pashto during a White House news conference, has spent the past five years trying to identify with the culture of his son’s captors, Proctor said.
“Well the beard thing, and the Pashto, Bob felt from the get-go if there was going to be a diplomatic solution that it was kind of on him to do it,” Proctor said. “He felt like as Bowe’s father he could reach out and try to speak directly to various people and he did so.”
And we'll leave it at that today; it's actually been a thin week on the news front. (not really - but all the stories seem to have a certain sameness of late.)