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Author: TriSec    Date: 03/28/2017 10:05:55

Good Morning.

Remember when we left Iraq? Well of course we never did - US troops have remained behind in an "advisory" role to help with the ongoing fight against ISIS. Our new president has postured that we never should have left Iraq, so of course we're going back in. It's another few hundred of those advisors, but this would now be yet another repeat of such an escalation into a quasi-war.



WASHINGTON — The United States is sending more than 200 additional soldiers to Iraq to support the Iraqi military’s push to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State, military officials said on Monday.

The deployment includes two Army infantry companies and one platoon equipped to clear away roadside bombs. The soldiers are expected to leave for Iraq within the next 36 hours.

The troops, about 240 soldiers in all, are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and will reinforce the more than 5,000 troops the United States already has in Iraq.

The troops’ mission is not to engage in direct front-line combat, but the operation will put them in dangerous areas. The infantry companies, military officials said, will protect the United States’ continuing effort to advise and assist Iraqi forces as they push into western Mosul.

The mission of the “route clearance” platoon is inherently risky, as it involves sweeping away roadside bombs.

Military officials discussed the deployment on the condition of anonymity because it has not yet been officially announced.

The troops that are being sent are part of the division’s Second Brigade. About 2,000 soldiers from that brigade are still at Fort Bragg and available for additional deployments.


Since we're looking over our old wars today, we'll also peer in on Afghanistan. Like Iraq, this has turned into a giant money-sink over the decade and a half we've been there. According to the Military Times, we've spent in excess of $117b in an attempt to stabilize and rebuild. Trouble is, with that much money being thrown into a "wild west" situation - many opportunists have profited.


When the U.S. government spends $117 billion to rebuild a war-torn country, some of it is bound to get stolen or misspent. And that's what happened in Afghanistan, according to the man responsible for helping find the waste, fraud and abuse.

John Sopko, head of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said Thursday evening in a speech at Duke University that his team identified nearly $1 billion in questionable costs and funds that could be put to better use. An additional $1 billion has been recovered for U.S. taxpayers in fines, restitution, recoveries and cost savings.

The money was recovered through 105 SIGAR arrests that led to 144 criminal indictments and charges and 109 convictions and guilty pleas. Of that $1 billion, $27.7 million has been recovered through investigations in North Carolina, Sopko said.

To date, the U.S. has spent more than $117 billion for the Afghanistan reconstruction effort and has promised another $5 billion to $6 billion per year through 2020. That figure, more than the U.S. spent on the entire Marshall Plan after World War II, doesn't include any cost of fighting the war, Sopko said.

One of Sopko's agents is stationed at Fort Bragg and works with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh. That partnership has resulted in the convictions of 12 military members based in North Carolina on charges including bribery, conspiracy, theft and bulk cash smuggling. Sentences for those convicted have ranged from 10 months to 15 years in prison.


When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, it took about a dozen years for it to completely bankrupt the ol' USSR and led directly to its ultimate demise. While it might be taking longer this time, the same effect is a strong possibility.

Finally today - nothing to do with vets, but since I wrote about it Saturday, we'll look over that 747-200B that often carries the president. The current aircraft date to 1990, and 27 years is actually quite old for an aircraft with that many cycles and total flight time. Since Mr. Trump can only use the best, most terrific aircraft - there's a call for replacements. At about $350m each, not including presidential modifications.


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE -- The Air Force has put a general in a newly created post in charge of the development of the next Air Force One, which is under a Pentagon review after criticism of the plane's costs from President Donald Trump.

The change shows how seriously the Air Force is taking criticism of a program that costs taxpayers billions of dollars.

Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson, who recently was selected for promotion to a second star, will be in charge of replacing the current fleet of two Air Force One Boeing 747s with a newer version of the jumbo jet, officials said.

Col. Donna Shipton, recently selected for promotion to a one-star general, will take over Richardson's role as program executive officer of the Tanker Directorate. Both programs are managed at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center headquartered at Wright-Patterson.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the post to oversee development of the next presidential aircraft was "newly created, given the recent high level interest in the program and desire to place the program under strong and effective senior general officer leadership." The appointment took effect immediately, and Richardson also will oversee the Tanker Directorate until June.

"President Trump's publicly expressed concerns about the potential cost of a new presidential aircraft undoubtedly had some impact on who the Air Force has chosen to manage the effort," Loren B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and defense industry consultant said in an email "Air Force One is a symbol of national power and prestige, so the Air Force needed a manager who could navigate the political aspects as well as the technical side of the program."

Trump has slammed the cost of a new Air Force One, saying it had more than a $4 billion price tag, and called for its cancellation in a Tweet in December prior to assuming the presidency.

Since then, he has met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg, who told reporters in January the aerospace giant would simplify and streamline requirements "all of which is going to provide a better airplane at a lower cost."

Secretary of Defense James Mattis ordered a review of the program in January.

The Air Force One program has a workforce of about 100 employees at Wright-Patterson. As of February, the Air Force had a $172 million contract for design and testing and had budgeted $2.7 billion through 2021. Final costs were expected by the end of the year for two Boeing 747-8s were expected to reach the presidential fleet in 2024.


I almost hate to say it, but maybe we should actually look at the Dreamliner instead - it's far more fuel-efficient, has a better range, but it's not as big or impressive as the 747 visually. I suppose Mr. Trump won't be having any of that.

 

34 comments (Latest Comment: 03/28/2017 19:00:24 by Raine)
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