Today is our 460th day back in Iraq.
There have been no new American casualties.
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through: $ 1, 640, 743, 225, 000 .00 I had saved the following tidbit earlier this month
. Not sure what caught my eye, since it's just a routine "action report". But it has that same feeling of the daily dispatches we used to get during the first Gulf War...and any older readers may well remember the daily "body counts" from Vietnam. This is how we judge success at war?
SOUTHWEST ASIA, September 7, 2015 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Raqqah, an airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.
-- Near Mar’a, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Tamakh, two airstrikes destroyed five ISIL excavators.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the Iraqi government:
-- Near Baghdadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Rutbah, an airstrike struck an ISIL checkpoint.
-- Near Beiji, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL motorcycle.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL artillery piece.
-- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Kisik, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL light machine guns and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL heavy machine gun firing position.
-- Near Tuz, an airstrike destroyed 49 ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL tunnels and an ISIL weapons cache.
Of course, the comparison to the first Gulf War calls to mind the unresolved issues from that conflict 25 years ago. Chief among them is the continuing, chronic illness of many hundreds (or thousands) of veterans who were there. Many theories have come and gone over the years, and there's word now that yet another study
has revealed that cell damage due to exposure to "anti-nerve gas pills" may be the root cause. So for all the talk about depleted uranium, toxins, and chemical weapons, it's increasingly looking like we did this to the soldiers ourselves.
WASHINGTON -- A new study could provide new clues for doctors struggling to treat a mysterious illness that has affected tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans for decades.
The study, done with Department of Veterans Affairs funding in conjunction with Rutgers University, found that veterans suffering from Gulf War illness have damaged mitochondria, which can lead to chronic fatigue, one of the main symptoms reported by Gulf War veterans.
"The more we know about the type of (damage) and the more we can characterize the mitochondrial damage in these veterans, the better we can treat them," said Michael Falvo, the study's senior researcher and a faculty member of the VA War Related Illness and Injury Study Center in Orange, N.J. "The symptoms are so diverse and vary so much person to person that that's been a challenging piece."
Gulf War illness (also known as Gulf War syndrome) is a multi-symptom disorder characterized by chronic fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive problems. While many believe that toxin exposure is to blame, and one study found a possible link to anti-nerve agent pills -- toxic chemicals can damage mitochondria -- the exact cause of the illness is still unknown. Falvo warned that while the study could help find better treatment, it was unlikely to uncover the root cause.
"If I was a veteran experiencing Gulf War illness, I would want to know, too," he said. "This many years after, that's going to be a really difficult, if not impossible, thing to figure out."
The study, undertaken by Falvo and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences doctoral researcher Yang Chen, was based on blood samples from more than 30 Gulf War veterans, including about two dozen who suffer from Gulf War illness. White blood cells were separated from the samples and researchers were able to study the mitochondrial DNA for evidence of damage.
These are preliminary findings and the study will continue through the summer, with researchers hoping to present a final paper by the end of the year, Falvo said. A larger study will be needed to confirm the study's findings, he said.
Twenty-five years after the U.S. sent forces into Iraq after Saddam Hussein's invasion of his oil rich neighbor, Kuwait, many veterans are frustrated with the pace of research on Gulf War illness. According to a 2008 government report, at least one quarter of all Gulf War veterans have experienced symptoms of the illness, and the Pentagon and VA were slow to publicly acknowledge it. Many vets are still fighting to get their illnesses recognized as related to their service in the Gulf War.
Finally this morning, I have to file this under "sour grapes", as much as I am loathe to do so. You well remember that an Airman and a Guardsman (along with their civilian friend) prevented a gunman from running rampant on a Paris-bound train some weeks ago. In the ensuing weeks, there have been accolades, awards, and meetings with military and government leaders in both France and America. The Airman involved, Spencer Stone, has recently been promoted to Staff Sergeant. Ordinarily routine, this has touched off a backlash in some corners of the military, with many complaining that he didn't "earn" the promotion. Ever hear of a battlefield promotion, guys? There are many thousands of men that did heroic deeds and were rewarded with promotion, without going through the normal bureaucratic process of advancement.
Some Air Force members and veterans have turned to Facebook to vent their frustration with the service's decision to promote the heroic airman of the European train attack and have him skip a grade.
Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh this week announced that Spencer Stone, who along with his two childhood friends helped foil a terrorist attack last month on a Paris-bound train, would be promoted from airman first class (E-3) to staff sergeant (E-5).
"He has represented the Air Force very well and very proudly and, basically, he has an instinct for saying and doing the right thing, which I think is going to be a very, very good attribute in a young NCO supervisor," Welsh said.
Stone was awarded the Airman's Medal and the Purple Heart during a ceremony Friday at the Pentagon. His friends, Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Alek Skarlatos and civilian Anthony Sadler, were also recognized. Skarlators received the Soldier's Medal and Sadler received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor.
But some service members and veterans have criticized the decision to promote stone over the rank of senior airman -- on Welsh's Facebook page nonetheless.
One poster, Eric Blanton, who identified himself as an Air Force veteran, wrote, "I respectfully disagree with him being step promoted. He did his job as a member of the armed service. We all took an oath, he was just in the wrong place at the right time. I applaud his actions and would like to personally congratulate him if ever I could but stepping him up to SSgt is not the right thing to do."
Another, Joe Richards, posted, "So tell ME General, Are you going to promote every SRA serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to SSgt fighting terrorists? Not saying anything bad about Airman Stone, BUT I was a SGT who had to TEST to get my rank to SSgt. I HAD to take my NCO Leadership School before I would be considered for promotion. You've made a mockery of the entire Air Force promotion system by doing this."
Yet another, Kevin Griffin, wrote, "He deserves the praise, but what about those giving limbs and in combat situations fighting overseas? Where is their promotions? A good friend of mine, who lost an arm while pulling his team from an IED attack, instead of being promoted he was served discharge papers."
Similar comments appeared below an announcement of the promotion and photo of Stone and Welsh on the Air Force's Facebook page.
Crazy, huh? I suppose there's something to be said here about how we continue down the path of division...not that long ago, this would be something to rally behind. Now it's unfair to everyone else. We sure have lost our way, haven't we?