Today is our 4,783rd day in Afghanistan, and our 145th day back in Iraq.
It is Veteran's Day.
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: 2,350
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,127
There are 2 casualties since our return to Iraq.
We find this morning's Cost of War passing through: $ 1, 579, 656, 300, 000 .00
We'll start overseas this morning, in another one of those places that has a long-running military presence. We haven't been shooting there for a very long time, but the situation remains unresolved some 61 years after a negotiated cease-fire.
Nevertheless...a tank brigade has finally disbanded
and is heading home. At this rate, we'll be dismantling some units in Afghanistan around 2062 or so.
After almost 50 years in South Korea, the Army is deactivating the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, officials announced Thursday.
Iron Brigade, which has its headquarters at Camp Hovey, South Korea, will be replaced by a rotational brigade combat team from the United States, according to information from 8th Army.
The 1st BCT is the latest brigade to be deactivated as part of the Army’s ongoing drawdown and reorganization.
Seven BCTs, including two in Europe, have been cut in the last two years, with five others slated to go in fiscal year 2015.
These cuts will leave the active Army with 32 BCTs to match an end-strength of 490,000 by the end of fiscal 2015. Additional cuts could be made if the Army’s end-strength shrinks further because of tightening budgets.
The 1st BCT has had its headquarters in South Korea since July 1965, training and working alongside its South Korean partners, according to 8th Army. Soldiers who fill the brigade’s ranks are deployed to Korea on individual tours.
The unit was awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation three times for its contributions to the national security and defense of the country, according to 8th Army.
The brigade’s inactivation is part of a broader Army plan to increase theater readiness and maneuver capabilities on the Korean peninsula and around the world, officials said.
The Army plans to start rotating a BCT into South Korea in late summer 2015.
The first brigade to go is 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, of Fort Hood, Texas. About 4,600 soldiers from the unit will deploy in June, the Defense Department announced Thursday.
The plan is to rotate one BCT at a time into South Korea “like we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 13 years,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has said. “There’ll always be a brigade in Korea, but they’ll rotate from the United States.”
We'll stay overseas, but we will head into Iraq. Counting back to the first Gulf War, we've been there some 23 years already. Of course, we all remember the mysterious "Gulf War Syndrome" that plagued returning vets of the first conflict. A cause was never conclusively determined. It's now been 11 years since we started the second round...and it's happening again
. There is a common theory - chemical exposure. So, many veterans are getting tested now. We'll see if it does any good.
More than 600 American service members since 2003 have reported to military medical staff members that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, but the Pentagon failed to recognize the scope of the reported cases or offer adequate tracking and treatment to those who may have been injured, defense officials say.
The Pentagon’s disclosure abruptly changed the scale and potential costs of the United States’ encounters with abandoned chemical weapons during the occupation of Iraq, episodes the military had for more than a decade kept from view.
This previously untold chapter of the occupation became public after an investigation by The New York Times revealed last month that although troops did not find an active weapons of mass destruction program, they did encounter degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s that had been hidden in caches or used in makeshift bombs.
The Times initially disclosed 17 cases of American service members who were injured by sarin or a sulfur mustard agent. And since the report was published last month, more service members have come forward, pushing the number who were exposed to chemical agents to more than 25. But an internal review of Pentagon records ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has now uncovered that hundreds of troops told the military they believe they were exposed, officials said.
The new and larger tally of potential cases suggests that there were more encounters with chemical weapons than the United States had acknowledged and that other people — including foreign soldiers, private contractors and Iraqi troops and civilians — may also have been at risk.
Having not acted for years on that data, the Pentagon says it will now expand outreach to veterans. One first step, officials said, includes a toll-free national telephone hotline for service members and veterans to report potential exposures and seek medical evaluation or care.
Phillip Carter, who leads veterans programs at the Center for a New American Security, called the Pentagon’s failure to organize and follow up on the information “a stunning oversight.” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the military must restore trust by sharing information.
If you're attending any veteran's events today, you'll probably see a few guys that aren't like Seth Moulton - they'll be parading around with a chest full of medals. Some of them are of course legit, but some of them may not be. It's been back and forth through the courts many times, but the latest ruling is it's again a crime to wear medals you didn't earn
Lying about receiving a military medal is protected speech, but there’s no right to wear a combat decoration that hasn’t been earned, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.
The difference, said a divided panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is that lying is speech, but wearing a medal is conduct, according to a report in the San Francisco Chrnonicle.
The decision in an Idaho case returned the court to a controversy that led to a 2012 Supreme Court ruling and a rewriting of the law by Congress in 2013.
The defendant, Elven Swisher, served in the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1957, the Chronicle reported. In 2001 he applied for disability benefits, claiming he had been wounded in a secret mission to North Korea in 1955, after the Korean War ended. The Department of Veterans Affairs granted the request in 2004 after Swisher submitted what appeared to be a military document saying he had been awarded a Silver Star and other medals for his actions.
But the VA learned in 2006 that the document was forged and ordered Swisher to repay the benefits, the paper noted. He was later convicted and sentenced to a year in prison on charges that included stealing government funds and wearing unauthorized medals at a veterans’ event.
The appeals court upheld Swisher’s conviction in 2009, but he filed a new appeal after the court, in a 2010 case, struck down a federal law that made it a crime to lie about earning military decorations. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, agreed with the Ninth Circuit in June 2012 that the law violated freedom of speech. But three months later, in another case, a different Ninth Circuit panel upheld the ban on wearing unearned military medals.
Congress has since rewritten the law to prohibit lying about military honors for financial gain, while repealing the ban on wearing medals one hasn’t earned. But the repeal didn’t help Swisher, whose conviction under the former law was upheld Wednesday.
We'll finish up today with a story from Bizarro World. You may not have heard about this one; it was in and out of the news, as the backlash was so severe the Pentagon reversed course in less than 24 hours. What is this, 1954
The latest version of the Army regulation governing the policies and responsibilities of command includes a section that states a soldier can be referred to as a “Negro” when describing black or African-American troops.
The Oct. 22 revision to AR 600-20, which covers “Army Command Policy,” was a “rapid action revision” covering only parts of the regulation, according to the summary of changes to the document.
The update covered a series of items, including the Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign and additional guidance for the Army’s sexual harassment prevention program.
Reference to the word “Negro” appears in a section describing “race and ethnic code definitions,” as first reported by CNN.
Black or African-American personnel are described in the regulation as “a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as ‘Haitian’ or ‘Negro’ can be used in addition to ‘Black’ or ‘African American,’ the regulation states.
The racial definitions in the regulation are outdated, said Lt. Col. Justin Platt, an Army spokesman, in a statement.
So - get to a ceremony if you can, make sure your flag is up, and today's the day, not Memorial Day - Thank a Veteran!