With Peter Bergen popping up everywhere these days (including a couple unexpected and more expected ones), I thought it might be worth collecting together some of those links. Which I just did. Admire my hyperlinking skillz.
Other links of note:
Military Women in the Media 22 from akinoluna; wonderful aggregation of a topic of particular interest to me.
According to the Pentagon’s report, the Army’s goal for fiscal year 2009 was to sign 65,000 new recruits. It actually signed 70,045—amounting to 8 percent more than the target.
But the picture is less bright than it seems. Though the Pentagon’s report doesn’t mention this fact, in each of the previous two years, the Army’s recruitment goal was 80,000—much higher than this year’s. The Army met those targets, but only by drastically lowering its standards—accepting more applicants who’d dropped out of high school or flunked the military’s aptitude test.
This year, the recruiters restored the old standards—a very good thing for troops’ morale and military effectiveness—but they signed up 10,000 fewer new soldiers.
That puts a slightly different spin on things.
I have no idea where I got this 2006 Harper’s article from, but wow it was a fascinating read. It’s an account of a discussion between A.J. Bacevich, Charles J. Dunlap Jr., Richard H. Kohn, and Edward N. Luttwak about the US military, democracy, and much else. If you have a little time, I reccommend it.
I wanted to write a post specifically devoted to the PBS Frontline special, but to be honest, everyone else has said all that I though and more. I direct you to Kings of War, whose comments on the subject are something of a microcosm of opinion on the documentary.
Secdef Gates is touring East Asia right now, and will be talking with Japan about Afghanistan. (Did you know new PM Hatoyama is being investigated for fundraising fraud? Guess it’s just getting interesting, in Japan.)
The military in Afghanistan has walked back its decision to ban KIA photographs/videos:
After news organizations protested the amended rule, the Pentagon suggested a rewrite. The new rule released Thursday would allow photography of casualties but said participating news organizations could not use material where there is a recognizable face or other identifiable feature. Journalists could not write about or photograph wounded troops unless those service members give prior permission.
Prior to the AP’s controversial photo in September, news organizations had much more leeway to publish photos of the dead as soon as the next of kin had been notified – even though much less of this material has been shown during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than in past conflicts.
And finally, John McCreary updates me on conflicting things coming out of Iran:
Iran: For the record. Two Iranian news agencies rebutted reports this weekend that Supreme Leader Khamene’i died, while state-run TV ignored the subject. Hunh?
Huh indeed. That would be a rather big deal. I mean, I heard he had a cold…
Between hosting dinner last night and a full day o’ meetings today, I haven’t had the chance to watch the Frontline documentary yet; but I’m rushing home to watch it tonight. In the meantime, though, a couple things to check out:
Stanley McChrystal’s Long War by Dexter Filkins.
The accompanying presentation by photographer Peter van Agtmael, which is intense and an experience:
[H/t Danger Room.]
Corporal Nicole Zook’s account of FETs in Helmand:
After finishing my tour of duty doing security missions in Iraq, I volunteered to train any willing Marines from my unit to prepare for the FET missions here in Afghanistan. There were ten. I put them through the wringer and held them all to an exceptionally high standard in their training. I ensured that they were well trained for the physical demands of combat missions, including crew-served weapons training, fighting, and self-defense; the mental demands of being a female attached to an all-male unit (there are plenty) and maintaining decorum among the sometimes unruly and rude men; and intensive cultural, language, psychology, and communication training to prepare them for interacting with the Afghan women. The Marines loved every minute of their training, even when I ran them into the ground, and asked for more. They are better trained than some of their male counterparts and they are participating in the program for all the right reasons.
I would like to buy her a beer.
Between this preview of the full program that’s out later this month, and McChrystal’s 60 Minutes interview, it seems we’re getting a good look inside the new American war machine. So to speak. Worth watching, especially knowing there’s more to come.