Today is our 3,184th day in Iraq, and our 3,712th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualties from our ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4483
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4344
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3624
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 255
Since Operation New Dawn: 55
Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 319
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,848
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 975
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,487
Journalists - Iraq : 348
Academics Killed - Iraq: 448
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through: $ 1, 287, 862, 850, 000 .00
As we approach the last day of deployment in Iraq, still scheduled for December 31, there seems to be a logistical bottleneck shaping up. While it's very easy to put troops into combat in large numbers quickly, apparently it's not that easy to get them out again.
The U.S. military is ordering that soldiers crossing from Iraq into Kuwait be returned home at a faster rate, a move that comes as commanders work to break up a bottleneck of troops who have been pouring across the border ahead of a year-end deadline to withdraw, CNN has learned.
"The order is to have these soldiers off the ground in Kuwait as soon as possible," a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN. The official, based in Kuwait, was not authorized to speak to the media.
"They don't want these soldiers sitting around here. They want them home."
The official did not immediately know whether the military was moving up or adding flights for troops from Kuwait.
The order follows President Barack Obama's announcement last month that he would pull virtually all troops from Iraq by year's end, meeting the terms of a U.S.-Iraqi security pact that set a December 31, 2011, withdrawal deadline.
The president's announcement followed news that negotiations to extend the deadline broke down after Iraq's top political leaders refused to grant U.S. troops legal immunity, opening up the prospect of soldiers being tried in Iraqi courts and being subjected to Iraqi punishment.
Of the approximate 11,000 troops in Iraq, down from the 50,000 three months earlier, only about 150 will remain after the deadline to assist in arms sales, a U.S. official previously told CNN.
The road home for most troops will require them to cross from Iraq, either by convoy or airplane, into Kuwait. There, they will turn in equipment before starting the journey back to the United States.
The move to rotate soldiers more quickly out of Kuwait also is aimed at placating the oil kingdom. Kuwait has long been concerned that the U.S. military not increase its footprint in the country.
Since mid-October, troops have been rolling almost every day into Camp Virginia, a short distance from the very border crossing used in the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
About 1,200 troops are permanently based at Camp Virginia. The population has swelled, at times, to more than four or five times that number.
I guess complicating things is the lack of transport; the US military relies heavily on private contractors to move most of their freight and personnel these days, and a brief look at the calendar reveals a business conflict that won't resolve until early next year. Of course....we used to be able to do this, but troopships and airlifts seem to be a thing of the past now.
But then again...why bring the troops home at all? You know the saying; "everything is a nail to a kid with a hammer". The US has been behaving that way for what seems like generations, and of course now is no exception. The Marines have released a list
of future hotspots. So you can expect to see many more of these places in a future headline.
As the Marine Corps resets itself after more than 10 years of large-scale combat, Marines will likely find themselves deploying more to exotic locations.
Officials recently published a list of about 100 language skills needed to support current and future operations around the globe. Many are eligible for foreign language proficiency pay, which ranges between $100 and $500 per month per language, showing leadership’s commitment to maintaining a cadre of select Marines who can speak every major and many obscure languages should there be a call to action. When paired with a list of the world’s most unstable countries, outlined in a report produced by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab’s Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities, a picture emerges of where Marines could deploy in the years to come.
Commandant Gen. Jim Amos recently referred to the most troubled areas of the globe as falling into the “arc of instability,” a band that stretches horizontally across the globe from Central and South America, across Africa and the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Inside that band are countries plagued by internal violence, extremism, organized crime, poverty, water and food shortages and booming youth populations.
“The recipe there is for significant conflict over the next few decades,” Amos told an audience of think-tankers and government contractors Nov. 18 in Arlington, Va. “I see no reason to think the world is going to get any nicer over the next two decades.”
Next...let's talk briefly about the holidays. Perhaps you have a local charity that helps needy kids with toys under the tree, or maybe you give to Toys for Tots
My Cub Scouts always make a donation to Toys for Tots; we usually have a uniformed Marine come to the Pack meeting for a meet and greet and to pick up the donated items. Hopefully we don't get this guy.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- A Lowell man is under arrest and accused of lying to police about being a high-ranking official in the Marines.
The man told an officer that pulled him over that he was trying to collect toys for the organization “Toys for Tots.” He was even wearing a uniform and medals he did not earn.
The officer who pulled the man over was a former Marine himself and he was not fooled by the man’s disguise.
The man was arrested on his way to Shopper’s Café in Waltham. The restaurant was holding a “Toys for Tots” event and the supposed Staff Sergeant was supposed to pick up the toys.
“Half way through the night someone got a phone call and said that they’re not coming. Apparently he was a fraud and got arrested on the way here,” said Lauren Rutledge of Shopper’s Café.
Detectives said they got suspicious of the man and all the medals of valor he wore on his uniform.
Detectives said the 41-year-old man was dishonorably discharged from the Marines but when he was arrested he was wearing a high ranking Marine’s uniform. He allegedly wore that uniform at toy stores to collect donations for Toys for Tots.
“Someone who knows, particularly the history of the Marine Corps and what that uniform represents, for that individual to wear anything that speaks to one’s honorable service and to one’s valor of service, as I said I find that not only disrespectful but unconscionable,” said Tom Lyons, the chairman of the Boston Semper Fidelis Society.
The suspect told the police it was merely a costume and was meant to attract people to bring more toys.
“To call it a costume, it’s not a costume, particularly the uniform he had on,” said Lyons.
The man was arrested for an unrelated outstanding warrant but he was also charged for wearing the fake uniform. Police are investigating if the man stole any of the cash donations.
“He was still doing the right thing with the toys and with the charity but he was misrepresenting himself so he’s essentially lying to you, so how do you really know,” said Rutledge.
Finally today....we'll close with a bonus click.
I had contemplated posting this as a single topic today, based solely on one passage.
But for many of the men on this trip — most of them survivors of D-Day or the Battle of the Bulge — the war never really ended. Nearly seven decades later, several still are plagued by nightmares, stress, anger and intense, almost unbearable feelings of guilt
Dr. Maddow was right...and one can only hope that 7 decades hence, some elder veterans can walk the quiet fields of Fallujah or Kandahar and remember, too.