Today is our 4,377th 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: 2,275
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,103
We find this morning's cost of war
passing through: $ 1, 476, 939, 975, 000 . 00
It's actually been a quiet week. I've got a couple of disconnected things to write about, and this actually clears my clipboard. Time to start skimming away again.
We'll start in Afghanistan. How many of you are connected to a "family business", or know somebody that is? A friend of mine is now running a local hardware store that his father started, and of course my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all working musicians, so you know what I mean. In Afghanistan, the family business is war.
KABUL — Abdul Wali Fadaei is proud of his family history.
His father died when he drove an explosives-laden car into the capital’s upscale Hotel Inter-Continental in 2011, a brazen attack that killed 18 people, including seven militants.
His brothers — he won’t say how many or their ages — are studying to become suicide bombers.
Fadaei, 17, was arrested last year before he was able to detonate the explosives he’d transported in a Toyota from Kandahar to Kabul in order to kill Americans.
“The message my father left me when he became a martyr was that I should follow him,” Fadaei said, speaking in a matter-of-fact tone while sitting on a thin mattress in a small, dank room in Kabul’s government-run juvenile rehabilitation center.
“I regret my attack failed, but I gained by trying. I’ll decide about trying again after I’m out.”
Next to him sat Esmatullah Bilal, with a crew cut and an Abe Lincoln beard. He got caught with a 26-pound suicide vest shortly before a planned attack.
Bilal, who’s 17 too, doesn’t feel any remorse. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“I want to kill foreigners in Afghanistan,” he told a Western reporter, intensity emanating from his dark eyes. “If you live here, we’ll come after you and kill you. You’re lucky you’re so close and you’re not dead.”
It's a bit jarring to think, but in the United States we also have some families where their business is war; but of course we take a slightly different tactic on the whole thing. Nevertheless, some businesses are a closed environment, and make little sense to "outsiders". Of course the military is no exception. Despite many efforts over the last decade to connect military families to ordinary civilian experiences, there's still a vast divide between the two.
A soldier walks into a bar, sits down and meets a civilian. The civilian asks him, “So, have you ever killed anybody?”
Sounds like a joke, but it isn’t.
Soldiers say that’s one of the most outrageous questions civilians ask them, out of all of the ridiculous questions they hear.
Inspired by a YouTube video called “S--- Civilians Say to Veterans,” Army Times asked soldiers about the strangest, stupidest questions or comments they’ve had from civilians about their service.
Many answered. Their experiences reveal the scary truth of just how much civilians don’t get about being a soldier.
“If I’ve ever killed someone,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark Trepanier, who has served as a human resources tech since 1989, with four deployments. “Now I just look at them all crazy and say, ‘I'm about to!’ ”
“My own mother asked me more than once if I had killed many people while I was serving in Kosovo,” said former dental specialist Rafael Grajales Garrett, a 14-year veteran. “I loved my mother, but have to admit that the level of ignorance civilians display when it comes to the military and veterans is frightening.”
Finally this morning...you know I'm a bit of a history geek. (Who isn't, really?) and of course one of my specialty areas is aviation. You're probably aware that the United States has actually lost a number of nuclear weapons...an event that the military calls a "Broken Arrow". There is actually a missing bomb
somewhere out in the Atlantic near Tybee Island, Georgia, but that's not what this is about today. We actually almost nuked Goldsboro, NC back about 1961
One of two hydrogen bombs that a doomed B-52 accidentally dropped on North Carolina in 1961 came perilously close to exploding, according to a recently declassified report.
The 4-megaton Mark 39 bombs — each packing 260 times the explosive power of the weapon that decimated Hiroshima — broke loose over Goldsboro, N.C., as the bomber went into a tailspin and crashed.
All four safety mechanisms designed to prevent accidental detonation worked properly on one bomb, which landed in a meadow, but three failed on the other, and only a low-voltage switch kept it from exploding upon impact in a field in Faro, N.C., said the 1969 report.
Had the warhead exploded, radioactive fallout could have spread over the Eastern Seaboard, hitting Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
The accident happened just three days after President John F Kennedy was inaugurated in January 1961. Five of the eight crew members survived the crash.
The report was obtained by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser for his newest book, “Command and Control,” about the nuclear arms race. Schlosser found that between 1950 and 1968 alone, at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded.
Mother Jones first reported Schlosser’s findings Sunday, and the Goldsboro incident attracted new attention Friday based on an article in the Guardian. The British paper also published the report, written by Parker F. Jones, the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia National Laboratories.
At least with the government shut down this morning, there probably won't be any airborne nukes in your neighborhood, but you never know.