Today is our 4,741st day in Afghanistan, and our 103rd day back in Iraq.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,345
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,127
There have been no new casualties in Iraq.
We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:$ 1, 568, 967, 800, 000 .00
I saved this one, and it's worth a re-visit. I'm sure we all remember the footage of the little boy that broke military protocol and ran into the arms of his mother returning from Afghanistan. It turns out there is a backstory
, and it's typical of our war-driven society.
But this wasn't the first time little Cooper and his family had to wait for a loved one's arrival.
"He kind of did the same thing for me," said Cooper's dad, Adam Waldvogel, 26.
Kathryn's husband returned from serving in Afghanistan with the National Guard in December. He was with the 850th Horizontal Engineers.
With their deployments overlapping, Adam and Kathryn haven't seen each other in 19 months.
"I can't even imagine that's she's home right now," he said with a smile.
That means Cooper's been without his parents in the same spot for more than a third of his life.
I have a financial update - I can only ever post a snapshot of the running totals at "Cost of War", but it might be worth it for you to click on the link and watch the numbers for a minute before you ponder this story
WASHINGTON — The air war in Syria and Iraq has already cost nearly $1 billion and ultimately could cost as much as $22 billion per year if a large ground force is deployed to the region, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The study, due to be released Monday, shows a range of costs based on sustained but low-intensity combat up to a force of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground.
President Obama and the Pentagon have ruled out the the use of American boots on the ground, making the most expensive option the least likely. Yet as Todd Harrison, the lead author points out, war is "an unpredictable enterprise" and the ability to forecast its costs is limited.
Meanwhile, there are signs that the war may be shifting toward lower-intensity conflict. Already, pilots are finding fewer Islamic State buildings and infrastructure to destroy in Syria, hoping to pick off smaller enemy targets as they pop up, according to senior Defense Department officials. The Islamic State is also known as ISIL.
The move to combat patrols from mass attack to individual targets — a process called "dynamic targeting" by the military — is reflected in types of bombs and missiles fired. It also stems from the fact that, for all its bravado of claiming a caliphate over a broad tract of the Middle East, the Islamic State has few trappings of a traditional government — buildings, utilities or bridges, for instance.
The initial attacks last Monday focused on headquarters buildings, communication antennas and a terror training camp and barracks. Air Force planners, based on images provided by spy planes, identified targets in Syria. But a Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing campaign said there are few fixed targets left for U.S. forces to strike.
An airstrike Friday could well be the template for the foreseeable future, the official said. Two U.S. F-15 fighters and two F-15s from Saudi Arabia were patrolling the sky over Syria when four tanks pilfered by Islamic State fighters were spotted. The jets promptly destroyed them.
Air Force pilots dropped 59 bombs in Syria with laser sensors that allow them to track and destroy vehicles traveling even at highway speeds, data from the Air Force show. The Air Force also fired 44 Hellfire missiles, which are often fired by Predator and Reaper drones. Both unmanned aircraft have been flying missions in Syria.
Over the weekend, U.S. and coalition forces fired on ISIL tanks, armored vehicles, checkpoints and safe houses, among other targets in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement Sunday.
Harrison's estimate for this type of war, with about 2,000 U.S. troops on the ground in a support and advisory capacity, could cost up to $320 million per month, or $3.8 billion per year.
Of course, as we drain the treasury, all that money has to go someplace. A select few American businesses are reaping another windfall
Stock prices for Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman set all-time record highs last week as it became increasingly clear that President Obama was committed to a massive, sustained air war in Iraq and Syria.
It’s nothing short of a windfall for these and other huge defense contractors, who’ve been getting itchy about federal budget pressures that threatened to slow the rate of increase in military spending.
Now, with U.S. forces literally blowing through tens of millions of dollars of munitions a day, the industry is not just counting on vast spending to replenish inventory, but hoping for a new era of reliance on supremely expensive military hardware.
“To the extent we can shift away from relying on troops and rely more heavily on equipment — that could present an opportunity,” Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, whose $66 billion portfolio includes Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. shares, told Bloomberg.
Defense contractor stocks have far exceeded the performance of the broader market. A Bloomberg index of four of the largest Pentagon contractors rose 19 percent this year, compared to 2.2 percent for the S&P 500.
It’s the munition makers who “stand to reap the biggest windfall, especially in the short term,” says Fortune magazine, citing Raytheon’s long-range Tomahawk missiles, and Lockheed Martin’s Hellfires, among others. “Small diameter bombs could be a huge winner, since aircraft can carry more of them in a single sortie,” one analyst tells the magazine.
U.S. forces used 47 Tomahawk missiles on Monday alone, at $1.5 million apiece.
Smart “small-diameter bombs” cost about $250,000 each.
Finally today, there's news breaking now that there is another case of Ebola getting treated someplace in Texas. Details are sketchy at this hour, but coupled with this story
, I'm thinking we'll be seeing more of this if we're not extremely careful.
MONROVIA, Liberia — The United States military has delivered two mobile Ebola testing labs and the equipment to build a field hospital to Liberia.
Liberia has been hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak that has touched four other West African countries. The World Health Organization says more than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease in the largest outbreak ever.
But even that toll is likely an underestimate, partially because there aren't enough labs to test people for Ebola. The U.S. Embassy in Liberia said Monday that the two new labs should be up and running this week.
The hospital will have 25 beds and will treat health care workers, who are at a high risk of getting Ebola because they are in such close contact with patients.
Maybe we should just start blowing stuff up there, too?